Many people assume that being a freelancer is the same as being an employee, just with more flexibility. However, it is more akin to being a small business owner. To be successful, you need to not just take care of the basic tasks of your chosen field, but also engage in administrative and marketing activities to maintain the financial health of your one-person company.
Every freelance writer knows the struggle of finding clients that offer regular work and pay well.
It seems almost impossible, at times.
And when there’s a recession going on, it feels like the entire freelance ecosystem has just dried up.
Everyone’s getting laid off, you think. Who’d want to hire a writer now? [Read more…]
When you’re starting up a business or establishing yourself as a freelancer, it’s easy to think that all potential clients are good clients. The customer is always right, after all.
This isn’t always the case. Sometimes you may not be a fit for a project. All freelancers will run into that at some point, and that’s not a big deal. There are also clients that will make your life a living hell. [Read more…]
Approaching a client with an idea for a writing gig might seem intimidating – especially if you’re new to freelancing – but don’t let that stand in your way. Your services are sought after and offer a lot of value to potential clients. Having a professional setup and some strong portfolio pieces are essential to making that connection and starting a business relationship that pays off for both people.
While this article gives tips on how to create pitches clients can’t refuse, it’s important to do some ground work first, so let’s look at some things you need to do in order to build a strong foundation.
Landing new gigs – whether by actively pursuing clients or letting your website do the work – can be a tricky thing. A myriad of factors come into play, and sometimes, we can’t even identify all of those factors. It’s not like acquiring clients is a one-size-fits-all deal.
While there are strategies that increase your chances of getting new jobs, I believe that the bottom line is being able to establish a connection from the get-go. A genuine, solid connection.
That’s what I’m going to talk about in this post – how to effectively attract clients by creating a genuine connection. [Read more…]
I could be wrong, but many of you probably have regular clients that bring in most of your income. You’ve worked with these clients for a long time, and you know that you will get steady work from them. It might even be that you know their needs and preferences by heart that you can write for them in your sleep.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but there is also something important about reaching out to get new clients from time to time – even if you already have enough regular clients.
Today, I’d like to share the reasons behind this thinking.
You expand your client base.
There is a high degree of uncertainty in our chosen field. While we may have enough regular clients, who’s to say that next month, one or two might need to cut back on their expenses? What if we suddenly lose a client (or more)?
It is thus important to get new clients to expand your network. In case you find yourself losing a client or two, you will have those new clients to make up for it.
Of course, it is also imperative to make sure that you can handle your regular work plus the new client’s demands. Before you get new clients and agree to do work for them, make sure that you have enough time and resources to meet everyone’s needs.
You’re faced with new challenges.
Another reason it is important to get new clients is the idea that “new” can also mean “challenging”. As I said earlier, with regular clients, you know each other so well that you may sometimes operate on autopilot.
As a writer, it is important to be challenged and do new things. This helps you be more creative and flex different writing muscles.
With a new client, you also want to make sure you impress in the hopes of creating recurring work. This means that you also challenge yourself at every turn to ensure that your work is of even better quality than usual. (Not that this should not be the case for everything you do…)
New challenges that may come when you get new clients:
- You need to learn a different writing style.
- You need to learn about a new topic.
- You need to learn how to deal with different personalities.
You learn something new.
The main thing about facing new challenges when you get new clients is that you are bound to learn a thing or two. As a freelance writer, you probably have your specialization, which I think should be the case. This is the area/niche which you are most knowledgeable in and comfortable with.
But if you stay in that zone forever, then you might stagnate. If you get new clients that require learning about an unfamiliar niche or writing style, then it is your chance to professionally improve yourself. And, I don’t know about you, but it is quite an important thing.
Back to you
How often do you get new clients pro-actively? What other benefits does it bring?
Most people, whether they are working for an employer or freelancing, want to feel like they are working toward something better. They may be trying to get a better salary or qualify for a promotion. Whatever the individual’s personal “carrot” hanging on a stick in front of them, they need something to keep them motivated on the job.
The same thing is true for freelance writers. We have an idea of what “success” means to us, and while what it looks like is as unique as the writers themselves, part of it usually involves a writer stretching him or herself in their work. Very few people would be content doing the same kind of work day in, day out, for the rest of their working lives – especially if the rate of pay stays the same.
If you want to get the higher paying freelance writing jobs, you need to stretch yourself. Going after a bigger or better-paying gig can be a bit nerve-wracking, but this is a good sign. You need to get outside your comfort zone if you’re going to grow as a writer, and if you wait until you have no butterflies to do it, you will have missed out on some wonderful opportunities.
Sometimes you need to seek out these opportunities by sending out pitches to clients you would like to work with or applying for gigs that pay more than what you are currently getting. At other times, the chance to stretch as a freelance writer comes to you when a client asks if you are interested in taking on a type of project you haven’t tackled before.
When that happens, try not to get too hung up on the “what if I mess this up?” thoughts. If the client didn’t think you could handle it, they wouldn’t have approached you. Ask questions to make sure you understand what the client wants, and give it your best shot.
One of the advantages of doing this kind of work is that we have variety in the projects we can work on. If we don’t give ourselves permission to try something new every so often, we will just stagnate in our working lives.
What projects have been a stretch for you and how did you feel once they were completed?
The same thing is true when you are looking at freelance writing jobs. If you are looking at entry-level opportunities, there are many of them out there. I’m just talking about numbers, not whether they would be a good fit for you or whether they pay a rate that you would feel comfortable accepting.
One of the reasons that I like checking out leads on Indeed.com is that this job search engine gives you information about the number of jobs it has currently listed, as well as estimated salary. This morning, I typed in “freelance writer” as a search term and got these results back for estimated salaries and number of jobs:
Following the job pyramid example, the entry-level gigs form the base of the pyramid. This is good news for people who want to get started as freelance writers, because they are looking for a chance to get experience and build up a portfolio of work.
As you move into the higher-paying levels, the number of jobs decreases. As you move toward the top of the pyramid, it gets smaller too. The shrinking job market for higher-paying gigs is actually good news for freelance writers. Why? As you move up toward the pyramid toward more lucrative work, the number of people applying for those gigs also decreases.
It takes time to develop your skills and gain the experience necessary to go after the bigger jobs. Most people who decide that they want to be freelance writers either give up after a short time or focus on the lower-hanging fruit when it comes to job opportunities, because they are more plentiful and considered easier to get.
If you have been holding yourself back from going after a freelance writing job that is a bit higher up the job pyramid than you are used to applying for, why don’t you put yourself out there and do it anyway? The only way you will edge closer to the top is to challenge yourself to do so. There may be fewer gigs the closer you get to the top, but there is less competition as well. Go for it!
I don’t gripe about my clients on my blog. Other people do. In fact, I see a great deal of grousing about PITA clients on freelance writing blogs.
Sometimes, these complaints are presented as part of an educational effort. You know, “this is how to handle a bad situation” stuff. There’s a moral to the story, so to speak. That makes sense to me.
In other cases, it the posts read more like invitations to commiseration. Sometimes, they’re nothing more than cathartic rants. I guess I can understand the underlying sentiments in these situations, but I can’t really imagine myself doing something like that.
It’s not that I don’t occasionally get PO’d, mind you. I just tend to reserve my moaning for those unlucky people in my more immediate social circle. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong about releasing steam in public, it’s just not part of my personality, I guess. Plus, I know it isn’t part of my business plan.
I thought I’d take a little time today to argue against publicly railing against your annoying clients–even if you make every effort to keep their identifying information under wraps.
My clients read my blog. They don’t necessarily subscribe to the RSS feed and drop everything when they notice a new post, but I know that they check in with some regularity. They mention posts in our conversations, etc.
I’d hate to alienate or upset any of them by calling them out in public. Even if I didn’t share their name, business type, info about the project, etc., they’d know that I was raking them over the coals for the world to see instead of handling the situation with a one-on-one conversation.
Additionally, I realize that I have imperfections and that I make mistakes. I’d hate to stumble upon their post about “my dumb-ass writer who apparently didn’t bother to read the last page of the project specs because I’m now waiting for editing so I can have the stuff this afternoon instead of using it this morning, as originally planned.”
If I screw something up, I don’t really need to encounter our dirty laundry in the public sphere, even if my name isn’t Sharpied on the waistband of the undies for all to read.
I also realize that some of the stuff that can drive me up the wall is nothing more than pure accident or a byproduct simple communication failure. In other cases, I’ve found that PITAs can be resolved rather easily with a little quality back-and-forth.
Venting doesn’t seem to contribute much to problem resolution. If someone irritates me, I can let loose with a stream of expletives down here in the office where no one else is going to hear them.
I’m anything but a doormat. I don’t do the subservience thing and I’m more than ready to stick up for myself if I’m being wronged. I just don’t see the value of doing it in a public setting. It feels rude to me, and I generally have a high threshold for rudeness.
Additionally, I know that some clients find me via my blog and that others look it over after receiving a referral before they contact me.
I can see how railing on bad clients could turn them off. Who wants to volunteer to work with someone who makes a point of publicly mocking or criticizing his or her clients, right?
You can argue that posts like that might send a message–that you expect a certain standards of behavior and professionalism from those with whom you work. That’s not a horrible argument, but I wonder how many prospective clients are more likely to see those gripe posts an indication that the writer is a cantankerous PITA.
Besides, it seems much more reasonable to outline expectations in one-on-one discussions. Heck, you could even outline them on a separate page of your site/blog if you feel that strongly about some issues.
Let’s say I needed to find a lawyer. I wouldn’t be magnetically attracted to the shyster with a blog post about “his stupid client who apparently doesn’t want to win this case, based on his unwillingness or inability to provide me with the necessary documentation.” I’d look for someone slightly more professional who didn’t seem quite as likely to fly off the handle if it took me a few days to find a receipt from 2002.
I don’t think I’d set up an appointment with the insurance agent who blogged about “annoying customers who take a high deductible to save money on their monthly bill and then gripe about it when they have a claim.” I’d avoid an accountant who mocked clients for misunderstanding their potential deductions, too.
In other words, I just can’t believe that openly grousing about your clients does much to encourage business.
At the same time, I really do enjoy reading Kathy Kehrli’s Irreverent Freelancer, where she makes a point of raking lousy would-be clients over the coals. I also do see the value in revealing atrocious experiences so that others can learn and benefit from them. Obviously, I can’t consider myself a hardliner on this.
So, I’ll dump it in your laps… What do you think about it? Do these public attacks on frustrating clients serve a greater good that justifies the potential downside? Are there particular standards that writers should follow when calling out a bad apple from their client barrel?
Client feedback is essential for freelance writing success. Even though we may not want to receive constructive criticism, not to do so could mean the end of our business. Look at it this way, even negative feedback offers the opportunity for improvement. Soliciting feedback from clients is just good customer service. Some freelancers aren’t sure how to take criticism, or what to say to a client who offers unsolicited advice. What follows are some tips for receiving feedback from your freelance writing clients.
1. Say “thank you”
When your clients offer feedback, say “thank you.” Don’t take issue, don’t take offense, and don’t fire off an angry email in return. Keep the relationship respectful, even if you disagree. Your client isn’t dropping you. He’s saying, “here’s a few things you could have done better.” That’s never a bad thing. It’s an opportunity waiting to happen.
2. Take everything into consideration
Both good and bad feedback should be given the same consideration. You want to think about the things you do right and how you can apply them to your business, and, also, what you can do to improve. Feedback is valuable because our clients tell us the things we may not see on our own. Thinking about negative feedback and making necessary adjustments might mean more business.
3. Ask questions
Your client is reaching out to you and telling you he either liked something or that there was something about your service that was lacking. Ask questions about what you did right, what you did wrong, and what you can do to improve.
4. Poll a variety of clients
Sometimes a client can be a little difficult. If you’re not sure how to take your client’s feedback, poll a variety of clients to see if they have the same experiences. If they do, you’ll have a lot to think about and a lot of decisions to make.
5. It’s Nothing personal
If you have a good relationship with your client he’s not offering criticism because he wants to make you feel bad. It’s because he values your business and wants to keep you on. By offering suggestions for improvement he’s letting you know the steps you can take to keep him as a client. He’s giving you a second chance.
6. Take action
If you receive negative feedback, take action. Put your customer service skills to good use. Offer a discount or a freebie in order to get back into your client’s good graces. Make the necessary improvements.Your clients will appreciate your going the extra mile.
What do you do when a client gives feedback?