Friday, August 24, 2007

Post #1: 40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career

Play Mind Games to Increase Sales

PUBLISHER NOTE: This is the first post in what will be a 40-post series entitled, 40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career. This series will shed light into what will be discussed in the upcoming freelance writing seminar in October. Seminar details.

Get Inside Your Clients’ Head – Before You Meet Them

As the title of this post suggests, learning how your customers think and behave will make “selling” to them so much easier.

The reason selling is in quotation marks is because I don’t believe in selling and I hate to be sold. A seller’s goal is to get you to buy – because it benefits them.

I believe in “sharing my services” with prospects to benefit them. My marketing credo is, ”If you help people get what they want, you will automatically get what you want.” Sound familiar? I stole this credo from some famous person, whose name escapes me right now. I think it was Zig Ziegler. So, how do you go about this?

How to Get Clients to Say “Yes” to Your Freelance Services – a Lot!

Getting a yes from a client is less about your skill
as a writer (editor, photographer, illustrator, etc.) and more about what motivates them to want to use your services, ie, knowing their company psychographics.

As defined in yesterday’s post, psychographics identify personality characteristics and attitudes that affect a person's lifestyle and purchasing behaviour.

NOTE: In addition to people, which is what most think of when they think of psychographics, companies have psychographics as well.

So, how can understanding your target market’s psychographics help you make more money as a freelancer? As outlined so well on

Overall, psychographics information includes needs, benefits, values and attitudes, as well as insights about purchasing behavior and process. . . . Understanding the psychographics of your target market can be very revealing. Information about [your target market’s] likes and dislikes goes a long way in making determinations about whether or not they are likely to purchase your product or service. With information about their preferences and lifestyles, you can successfully target the segments most interested in your product/service and effectively reach them with a message that speaks directly to them.
To outline how this works, let me cite a personal example.

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I was considering placing an ad with a company to fill a job opening I had. I contacted them and spoke with the sales rep, explaining my needs (ie, I had one job to fill) and asking what the price for that would be.

After taking my information and answering my question, he went on to try to sell me on buying a booth at an upcoming job fair they had. I wasn’t interested – and if he’d listened to the makeup of my company as I’d explained it to him, he would have realized that I had no need to buy a booth at a job fair.

FYI, usually, when you speak with the sales department of a company, they get the lowdown on your company – eg, how many employees, what you do, average amount of advertising you do per year, how often you have the need for their type of product/service, etc. In essence, they get your company’s psychographics.

After reading over the media kit the rep sent me, I found a package they offered which fit my needs perfectly, which led me to wonder why the rep didn’t steer me towards this product, instead of trying to sell me on the job fair.

The lesson here is quite simple: Offer clients what’s best for them, not what you want to sell them. Many times I’ve talked clients out of purchasing one service, which was more expensive, to purchasing another, which was less expensive.

My market niche is small business owners, so I know that most of them work on a limited budget. And, even if they didn’t, who doesn’t want to save money? Some of my target market’s psychographics:

Size: 1-10 people

Time in business: 3-7 years

Location: Home-based and/or rent small office space.

Revenue: Up to $1,000,000

Reasons they contract my services: It saves them time; they don’t have the skill set and/or desire to produce their own marketing material; they either can’t afford or don’t want to hire in-house personnel to do the work; and/or they are upgrading their image.

In a future post when we discuss targeting a niche market, I’ll tell you how to go about finding out this type of information on clients – without ever talking to them. [future post topic]

Knowing this information helps me tailor my messages to past and future clients – hit “hot buttons” if you will that moves them to purchase.

When I first started freelancing, I had no idea what went into an effective marketing campaign. Oh, I knew how to market – or at least how to send out marketing materials. But, I was often frustrated from the lack of response I received.

Marketing Fact: If you’re not taking things like psychographics into account when you market, you’re really just mailing materials – you’re not marketing.

How I Dramatically Increased My Freelance Income: A Personal Story

When my income became stagnant over a few years – no matter how hard I “marketed” – I started to investigate what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t particularly looking for fancy marketing techniques – just effective ones.

Where before I had passed over info like demographics, psychographics, segmentation and niche marketing, I had to read it when it kept popping up in all the research I was doing.

In my opinion, this is the main reason most freelancers – and small business owners, for that matter – fail. They don’t want to do the “dirty work” of learning how to market. Many think (and I was definitely in that category), if I just get the word out about my business, then I’ll get clients.

And, you will. But, to make a living – a good one – and take your freelancing to the next level, you’re going to have to get beyond the basics and understand how to effectively market. It’s all about the results you see in your bottom line at the end of the year.

One Change Opens the Floodgates to Thousands of Extra Dollars

The reason successful businesses increase their revenues year after year is that they do this type of marketing on a major scale. Many have whole departments who do this stuff. Did you know that there’s a writer sitting somewhere who is being paid thousands of dollars to compose consumer surveys of 5, 10 or 12 questions?

While they may annoy you when you get them in your inbox or receive them in the mail, enough people answer them to allow companies to fine tune their product offerings, change operational procedures, add complementary product lines, etc.

For a company like WalMart, even seeing a one percentage point in increased sales on a certain product line means millions of dollars in sales. For example, what if they learned from one consumer survey that customers buy 1% more toothpaste if it’s placed on a higher shelf? Maybe the store is in an area with a lot of senior citizens who can’t bend easily.

If one store is selling a million dollars worth of toothpaste a year and they move it to a higher shelf and sell 1% more, that’s $10,000/more profit per year – just for moving it a few shelves up. Now, if they implemented this procedure in all of their stores, that would add $65,000,000 to their bottom line (WalMart has almost 6,500 stores worldwide).

Now, this is a very simplistic example. But, I wanted to illustrate how things like psychographics and demographics can open the floodgates to thousands of extra dollars in sales.

What do you think? If you have questions, comments or observations about this post, send them in. Email them to info [at]

Next Post: In Post #2 of this series on Monday, we will build on this concept of using psychographics to increase sales. We’ll talk specifically about how to write a marketing piece that sells – keeping the psychographics of the audience you’re talking to in mind.

Enjoy the weekend,
Upcoming Features in Inkwell Editorial’s Newsletter

September 12: Gordon Graham. We ring in the “editorial season” by interviewing Gordon Graham, aka “that white paper guy.” Gordon writes and edits white papers and case studies. He charges $90/hour just to edit a white paper and a minimum of $4,000 to produce a white paper from scratch.

Now, do you see why I had to interview him?! Most freelancers don’t even dream of making this type of money. I can’t wait for this interview.

Missed the latest issue of Inkwell's freelance writing newsletter? The 8/15 issue featured an interview with B2B freelance writer, Meryl K. Evans. Want to break into this very lucrative market? Meryl's interview sheds some detailed light on how. Sign up to receive your copy to read what Meryl had to say.

Gain clients, web traffic and brand awareness. How? Let us interview you for our popular newsletter? Full details. Read the first issue here.NOTE: As editorial is cyclical and slow during the summer, in July and August, the newsletter will be published once. In September, we go back to our twice-monthly publishing schedule. Subscribe today so you don't miss anything!
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Lillie Ammann said...

This is great advice, Yuwanda. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

I've posted a list of my favorite writing blogs, and you're on it.

Mary said...

You offered terrific insights in this post. I've been struggling with how to market myself and my copywriting services. You've given me a lot to think about. Thanks.

Inkwell Editorial said...

Thanks Lillie. My brain is on overload with this series. I could make the posts so much longer, as there's so much to marketing, but try to curtail them and give only the most important info that readers can use IMMEDIATELY.

I need to post a "Favorite Writing Blog" section on this blog -- ahh, so much to do, always so little time. :-)

Inkwell Editorial said...


Thanks for writing in. There's much more helpful insight coming in this series. By the time it ends, you should have a clear idea of how to market yourself -- and your services. Believe me, you'll be far ahead of the competition by gaining a clear understanding of how to do this right -- it will serve you well for years to come.

Again, thanks for writing in -- and stay tuned for more.

julia ward said...

This was a perfect follow up to my post yesterday on my blog - Write an Article a Day. I'm looking forward to reading the entire series.

Of course I had to post it on my blog!

tips and resources for writers

Inkwell Editorial said...


Thanks for writing in -- I still get a kick out of comments even after two years.

I ready your post and can totally relate to the "reinventing" yourself portion. Shirley McClaine was on to something years before the rest of us caught on!

As for marketing yourself -- it is a never-ending game and if more freelancers would realize that sooner, then so many wouldn't struggle needlessly for years.

Please feel free to send in your experiences throughout this series. It's a communal teaching and learning effort.

FYI, I love the design of your blog -- very clean and welcoming.

Continued success to you.