Tuesday, September 04, 2007

POST #8: 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. Details.

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 . . .

How to Keep Your Best Clients

In yesterday’s post, we discussed drip marketing – a marketing method that is almost always successful.

Today, we’re going to discuss some ways to keep customers once you get them. Remember, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your clients. So, holding onto existing customers is not only economical, it’s a necessity, primarily for the following reasons:

Want to learn exactly what to do to earn $100, $150, $200/day or more as a freelance writer, editor and/or copy editor? Inkwell Editorial's upcoming Freelance Writing Seminar will tell you how. Details. It's a career anyone who can read and write can start -- with the right information.
2 Reasons It’s Okay to Ignore 80% of Your Customers

Money: As 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers, focusing on this 20% is critical to the success of your business. While you should never “ignore” any part of database, focusing intensely on the 20% who are the lifeblood of your business should be paramount.

So, how do you do this?In a variety of ways. Take a local coffee shop, for example. The may offer you a discount card, eg, buy 5 cups of coffee and get the sixth one free. In this way, companies can track their most frequent customers – and reward them appropriately to keep them coming back.

In my freelance writing business, I like to give clients a discount after a few projects, or for referrals.

Time: Remember the example in Post #6 when I talked about the mortgage brokers who were trying to drum up new business with an expensive radio ad campaign?

Once you figure out who your core customers are, you spend less time – and money -- marketing for new clients. Another benefit of knowing your best customers is that you get to really delve into their wants, needs and desires. Sometimes, what they want will be different that your niche as a whole.

An Easy Way to Increase Profits by Up to 25% -- or More

That’s why it pays to segment your database. You can often increase profits by 10, 15 or 25% simply by doing this.

Definition: According to About.com, segmentation is defined as “. . . the process of dividing a market into a distinct group of buyers that require different products or marketing mixes. . . . Opportunities in marketing increase when segmented groups of clients and customers with varying needs and wants are recognized.

Market Segmentation: A Personal Example. I target the real estate market, which means that I deal with a lot of mortgage brokers and realtors. But, I’ve discovered that I get more referrals from realtors, and they use my services more than mortgage brokers.

When I did a pre-cursory survey, I discovered there were a couple of reasons for this: i) there are more realtors than mortgage brokers; and ii) realtors are more likely to use things like newsletters and postcards to reach their customers.

While I don’t have any proof, I think this is because realtors have a strong association -- NAR (The National Association of Realtors) that encourages – advertising. They are also licensed, and so tend to be a bit more professionally organized than mortgage brokers, who don’t have to be licensed in most states (which is kinda scary, but that’s a different conversation altogether).

So, when I market for new clients, I tend to focus most of my efforts on real estate agents. Because of their professional association with mortgage brokers, I tend to get business from this group via referral from real estate agents.

See how market segmentation works?

Now that you know why you should pay attention to your core customers, how do you hold onto them once y0u get them?

How to Keep Referrals Coming Your Way for As Long as You Like

This is so simple it’s going to blow your mind – simply keep in touch with them. This builds loyalty.

The ways in which you do this are only limited by your imagination, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. As a freelance writer, I happen to like newsletters. But, a specific type of newsletter.

I’m curious (okay, nosy) by nature. That’s why, when I decided to relaunch Inkwell’s newsletter, I decided that I wanted to interview other freelancers in every issue. How others achieve success is fascinating to me. And, it constantly inspires me to do better. Inevitably I learn something that I can use in my business endeavors.

Another thing -- newsletters don’t cost anything but brainpower to produce.

Other ways to hang on to existing customers: Drip campaigns, as discussed in yesterday’s post, a forum on your website, copywriting tip of the day, links to articles that would be of interest to them, anything on how to save them time and money, etc.

Why Free Marketing is More Valuable than Paid Advertising

An interesting thing I’ve learned about marketing is that I tend to spend more time on marketing when I use free methods than when I use paid ones. I think this is because everyone knows that a newsletter is free. Hence, they assume that it will be worth that – nothing. So, I try to make sure that my newsletters provide real value to the reader.

Lesson Here: It’s not always good to monetize everything you do. What do I mean? Take for example, Inkwell's newsletter. Many readers have commented that I should charge for it because the info is so valuable. But, the credibility I get from publishing such a popular newsletter far outweighs what I could make if I charged for it.

When you use free methods to promote your business, make sure that it’s valuable to the end user. They’ll be pleasantly surprised – and have much respect for you. And, be more loyal to you.

For the most part, it’s not important what you say when you communicate with your database, it’s the fact that you take the time to say something. BUT, be warned – DO NOT make every contact a sales pitch. While a link to your seminar, ebook, or teleclass is okay in every message, it should not be the overriding message every time you contact potential clients.

Send something that will make them think, laugh, do business in a different way, etc. The Internet makes it so much easier to get business today – but it makes it harder too. You have to think, act and be different to set yourself apart.

So, when you "give away" useful information in a newsletter, send helpful articles without making a sales pitch, stumble across and inform them of a new software that can save them time -- it lets them know that you have their best interests at heart.

Warm Fuzzies=Dollars

This gives them a "warm fuzzy" when they think of your company. As people's decision to buy is as much emotion-driven as price-driven (sometimes emotion is even more important than price), you want to foster this type of feeling in every contact. And, that means putting the needs of customers before your need to sell.

NEXT POST: In Post #9 tomorrow, we’ll discuss some “Shock Marketing” techniques. As mentioned above, the Internet makes it so much easier to get business – but it’s harder to get noticed too. “Shock Marketing” can help you stand out from the crowd.

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

Always editorially yours,
Yuwanda (who is this person?)
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. Subscribe today so you don't miss anything!
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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