Tuesday, September 25, 2007

POST #21: 40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career

PUBLISHER NOTE: If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know about the upcoming freelance writing seminar in October. You will learn exactly what to do to earn $100, $150, $200/day or more as a freelance writer, editor and/or copy editor. Click to register!

Many have inquired about what will be discussed at the seminar. So, in order to answer your questions and to get you prepared for what to expect, I've started a series of posts entitled "40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career."

To start at the beginning, click here. And, welcome to the blog. Now, on to today’s post . . .

Where Should You Look for Freelance Writing Work – Online or Off?

Freelance writing has changed immensely since 1993, when I started. But, there are some definite guidelines to be followed when looking for work.Like most things in life, it depends on your goal and the type of writing you like/want to do. So, take the following into account – and you’ll come up with the answer that’s right for you.

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4 Things to Consider When Deciding Whether to Go Online, or Off, for Freelance Work

1. What type of writing do you want to do? I’m a commercial freelance writer and many of my clients are local small business owners. I locate them primarily through networking events and word of mouth these days. Remember, I’ve been at this since 1993, so I don’t have to do as much advertising anymore.

However, when I first started out, I found great success with postcard advertising (sending postcards through the mail). I also used to do fax campaigns – faxing a flyer to prospects whose info I’d located through their ads in the Yellow Pages, newspaper, etc.

Now, fax broadcasting is illegal in many states, so I stopped doing that years ago.If you wanted to write primarily for magazines, for example, practically all of your market efforts will be spent online – locating editor contact information, preparing queries, searching for submission guidelines, etc.

My point: The niche you target will largely dictate your marketing efforts.

2. Income Goals: There is no set pay scale for freelance writers. One write may charge $50/hour, while another may charge $15/hour -- for the exact same project. This is one of the reasons many freelance writers are severely underpaid, in my opinion. But, that’s another topic altogether.

The reason I like commercial freelance writing – ie, writing for the corporate/small business sector – is that there is somewhat of a standard fee. Many commercial freelance writers charge $50/hour – just starting out. Where are they likely to find the bulk of their clients? In my opinion, offline.

So, doing things like going to Business Licensing Division of your local county seat, buying a list of the latest registered businesses and contacting them via phone or direct mail, is a great way to get new customers – and it can be much more effective than email. (FYI, this was discussed in Post #17 of this series.)

On the other hand, if you want to provide web copy to the clients of web designers, then you’d contact them – usually via email.

The bottom line: Choose niches that pay well and where prospects are plentiful so that no matter how you reach them – online or off – you won’t have to work 12, 15 or 16 hour days to make a decent living.

3. Your Marketing Personality: I’m a pretty solitary worker. I can literally stay in front of the computer for 12 or 14 hours – and be perfectly happy.Although I do a lot of offline networking to get clients, when I work, I prefer to work alone.

This distinction is very important because you may use one method to acquire clients, but the project may require another way of working altogether.

If you don’t like cold calling or the monotony of putting together a direct mail campaign, for example, then you may want to target markets where most of your marketing efforts are concentrated online – eg, SEO writing. For this, simple, short emails will usually suffice.
4. Your Marketing Budget: Last, but certainly not least, your budget will play a great part in how you market.

Online marketing is some of the easiest and cheapest marketing you will ever do. And, it is highly effective – when simple guidelines are followed. Proof?

According to ClickZ.com, “Court Cunningham, who oversees DoubleClick's DARTmail program estimated the average email cost per unit at $0.25, versus $1.25 for a direct mail piece. Response rate? One to two percent for direct, five to fifteen percent for email.”

Cold calling is also extremely effective. I didn’t start using this until about two years ago – I always hated, hated, hated it. And, it’s still not my favorite. BUT, I’ve made great strides with this – I think more than anything, it was overcoming my fear of it.

Direct mail, which can easily be the most expensive of the options discussed here, doesn’t have to be prohibitively so. If you send like postcards, sign up for bulk mail rates and use an extremely targeted mailing list where your chances of getting a good return are high, it can really make it money well spent.

The graphic shown is an actual postcard I used as a direct mailer a few years back. I designed it myself on VistaPrint.com.

Marketing Tip: I used an an actual testimony I'd received from a client on the front of the postcard. Testimonials are very effective in print marketing.

Final thought: I’ve used both on- and offline methods when looking for freelance work. And, I’d say it’s a combination that produces the best results.

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

Editorially yours,
Yuwanda (who is this person?)
What's Next in Inkwell Editorial’s Newsletter?

Tomorrow's Issue: For all you artists our there (illustrators, cartoonists, photographers, this one is for you). I interviewed successful cartoonist Dan Rosendach. He’s been a freelancer since 1976 and lays out some very interesting marketing tactics for keeping the business rolling in.

Missed the last issue of Inkwell's freelance writing newsletter? The 9/12 issue featured an interview with freelance writer, Gordon Graham, aka, that white paper guy.Gordon charges $90/hour just to edit a white paper and a minimum of $4,000 to produce one from scratch.

Wanna know what he had to say? Sign up to receive your copy to read his informative, in-depth interview.

Gain clients, web traffic and brand awareness. How? Let us interview you for our popular newsletter? Full details. Read the first issue here.
Copyright Notice: May be reprinted with the following, in full: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of InkwellEditorial.com: THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed! Log on to InkwellEditorial.com.
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