Thursday, September 07, 2006

10 Ways For a Freelance Writer to Make Money – Fast! (Part 2 of 2)

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: September 11th -- We haven't forgotten.

P.S.: This article was supposed to appear tomorrow, but I have an upcoming business trip, so I'm publising it a day early. I hope you find it useful.

Y. Black, Publisher

Continuing last Thursday's post, here we discuss five (six with our bonus tip) more ways freelance writers can make money -- fast!

6. Call Graphic Designers & Advertising Firms: Don't tune out! Don't cringe! This is easier than you think - and I'll prove it by telling you exactly what to say. So you don't think I'd tell you to do something I wouldn't do myself, I picked up the phone and called 8 companies.

I hadn't had to do this in years -- and when I did it was rare and I hated it. BUT, after being in business so long (over 19 years in the publishing industry) and getting bolder with age, there's not much I won't try to bring in the business.

To digress a moment, when you're 25 or 30, stuff like this seems kinda scary if it's not part of your nature -- and selling was NEVER my strong suit. Once I hit 40, I have to tell ya, my inhibitions went out the window! Things that used to scare the bejeezus out of me don't even warrant a fly swat now. This is a double-edged sword, but I have to say, it is liberating. I guess I'm becoming my crotchety old aunt -- and that's just dandy with me. Okay, enough about my aging.

This is what I said when called those 8 graphic design firms. NOTE: Not ONE refused to give me the information I asked for, were rude, or hung up on me -- NOT ONE!

"Good afternoon, my name is Yuwanda Black and I am a freelance writer. I'd like to send you some of my marketing materials for your files. Who is the appropriate party to address it to?"

Usually at this point, they will give you a name and they may go on to inquire about the type of services you provide. Of course, this is what you want. Tell them, succintly and professionally, what you do and THEN ask if they have any projects that they need help with RIGHT NOW.

If they say no, ask if they can refer you to some of their colleagues and/or clients who might. If they hesitate, tell them to go to your website (which, of course, you have, right?) to view samples of your work.

The reason this method works is I didn't give them a chance to say no and I wasn't asking, at least initially, for work right now. I assumed that they use/have a need for freelance writers, and I assumed that they would be happy to have my info on file for future use. Most will.

Eventually, you are going to run across one firm that needs your help like -- YESTERDAY! I had one firm tell me that they just got a new account and were going to be hiring some freelance writers. Ask me how quickly I got my stuff to him (I always keep a snail mail and an email package ready to go)?

Most clients will prefer email and most will assume that you have a website. So, make sure you have this before you call because you don't want to lose a potential client before you even get your foot in the door.

7. Write Resumes: Okay, it' s not glamorous. BUT, it can be lucrative and it is an evergreen need. The wonderful thing about writing resumes is that it is an easy part of your business to build up and outsource if you don't like to do it, or don't have the time to devote to it.

At a super low price of $50 (I've been quoted rates of $250 just for a resume), doing only a couple a day can add up to a really nice full-time income. When I had an office in New York and clients could walk right in, this was one of the most frequent requests. And, you know what, it was usually a quick turnaround time and clients almost always paid in cash.

Upselling a package (eg, cover letter and reference sheet) was usually super easy, and clients were so grateful that this feeling alone was enough to make it worthwhile.

8. Proofread/Edit Student Papers: Ahhh, lovely, broke, DESPERATE students. Many of them don't have the time or, quite frankly, the skill level, to edit their own work. And, they will gladly pay someone to do it.

This is one of the easiest markets to target because all you have to do is contact the Student Affairs office and ask to put up a notice on the student bulletin board. Or, you could take out an ad in the college paper. Also, flyers posted around the campus works well.

Usually, if a student uses you once, they will always come back if they are satisfied with your services. The best part about this group? They have big mouths and they use them -- to tell other students about your services.

Students also need resumes, bibliographies and grad school essays. There are a plethora of services you can offer them successfully. I can tell you from personal experience that they are a great paying lot and are extremely nice to work with -- because they're usually desperate and are just happy to find someone who can work within their deadlines (think, "I needed this yesterday!").

NOTE: I DO NOT advise outright writing papers for students. I think it is unethical. However, proofreading, editing, suggestive rewrites -- these are all services that I have provided quite successfully in the past.

9. Format Screenplays: Another starving lot -- the playwright, author, writer, etc. When these artists submit their work to official agencies, producers, guilds, etc., they must be formatted a certain way. Screenplays have one format, treatments* another, manuscripts another.

There is software for all of this. As a full-service editorial firm, if you purchase the appropriate software, you can market to a certain group and establish yourself as a go-to service for that industry.

I did this for those who wrote screenplays. I purchased the software FinalDraft and took out an ad in BackStage, an industry newspaper for artists (actors, dancers, musicians, etc.). My first client paid for the software.

This was in 1997 and I think I paid about $230 for the software. But, the first job I did for this type of client netted me $375 (that I definitely remember!). The great thing about soliciting this type of client is that they always need revisions, updates, extra copies, etc. I charged for all of this, of course.

NOTE: I always told clients that I would store the most recent version fo their work for them for free. This made them feel really secure and grateful. Why? I found many artists to be forgetful and a bit unorganized. By offering this "FREE" service, they knew that if ever they couldn't find the most recent version or their computer crashed, that all they had to do was call me.

This built customer loyalty -- and led to immeasureable amounts of business over the years. The fun part about working with artists is that you get to see the creative process in motion.

I had two clients who worked on the same screenplay for over five years. They must have paid me a few thousand dollars over this time as they made changes, sent copies to different agencies, etc.

*Treatments: Treatments are one-page summaries of scripts submitted to studios for consideration. Most often, an artist will submit a treatment. If the studio likes the treatment, they will request the full (or a partial) script.

The reason for treatments? Simple time. Studios are bombarded and they simply can't read through everything submitted. This method gives them an idea of what a script is about without having to slog through the whole thing. So, in essence, what studios buy is an "idea", not a full-fledged script. This is also why what the author envisioned is often not what it turns out to be.

Ah, Hollywood -- gotta love it!

10. Write on a Timely Topic & Sell It: Daily news sources (eg, newspapers, news websites, etc. are always looking for timely, well-written articles) -- and, they will usually pay for them -- if they are thoroughly researched and you give them exclusives to the piece.

This will fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it has worked beautifully for me over the years. Instead of sending a query, write a piece (eg, mortgage fraud and its effect on the economy, "white collar prostitution", etc.), research it well and offer it to daily news outlets.

I would send the piece to no more than one outlet at a time and give them a deadline by which to respond. Let them know that as it is a time-sensitive piece, you will give them "x" amount of time to respond (I usually offered 2-3 days) before offering it to another outlet.

Eventually, someone will pick the piece up if you follow the formula below.

How to Know What to Write & How to Sell It

a. Select a timely topic: Watch the news and see what stories are making every headline. Eg, hurricane season is here and the anniversary of Katrina just passed. Think of a topic around hurricanes and/or hurricane season and give it a different slant (the effects of hurricanes on kids under 12, is hurricane insurance for the masses or the elite?, etc.).

b. Research thoroughly: Whatver topic you select, make sure you reference 2-4 well-known sources. For example, if you were going to write about hurricanes, call the National Weather Service and get a quote from an official there. Official news sources don't like to use unreferenced material; they want to say, "According to Bill Smith, the chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service, . . ."

c. Target daily outlets: Daily news sources are the ones who are most likely to pick up this type of article because they are constantly under the gun to keep the news fresh.

BONUS TIP THAT WORKS ALMOST 100% OF THE TIME! Call old clients. It is an old business axiom that 80% of your business will come from 20% of your clients. So, call your old steadies. Ask them if they have anything or if they can refer you to someone who might need your services.

I’ve found that the best way to go about this is to upsell something. For example, if you just finished a sales letter for a client, ask them if they need a brochure, postcard or newsletter to supplement that. Professionals realize that advertising and marketing is not a one-hit wonder. So, many are open to using more than one method to reach clients.

In fact, many use one method to reach clients (eg, a sales letter), and another to stay in touch (eg, a weekly newsletter). However, it may not occur to them to implement these procedures via one provider (you!).

So, it’s up to you to make them realize the value you provide. And, by thinking proactively, you look super sharp, professional and forward-thinking – which only means more work for you!
P.S.: Coming September 12th! E-Course: Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed!

At the end of this one week, five-step course, you will have a concrete business and marketing plan for your freelance enterprise. Even if you've been a freelancer for years, this course will help you "laser focus" your efforts and exponentially increase your income. Secure your first client within 30 days -- or your money back!

P.P.S.: Make money with our affiliate program. As of this month, our e-books are only availabe via ClickBank! Learn everything you need to know to work from home as a Freelance Writer, Editor, Proofreader, etc. How? Order an E-book. Receive 7 EBooks in All! Delivered right to your inbox immediately upon payment!

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