Wednesday, September 05, 2007

POST #9: 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 . . .

Why Aren’t You Rich?

I went to a motivational seminar about a month ago. The featured speaker was self-made millionaire, Jim Ziegler. Mr. Ziegler is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant and author. The title of the workbook he handed out in the seminar was “Why aren’t you rich?”

Why do I bring this up? Because it’s a form of shock marketing – today’s topic. I think we all have an idea of what shock marketing is, so the better question to ponder here is what does/should it do?

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.
According to a 2004 article on the Kellogg School of Management’s website, “. . . the goal of shock marketing is to create a buzz among a target audience . . . In advertising you want to do two things. . . First, break through the advertising clutter out there. Second, you want (the ad) to be remembered."

While subtle, Ziegler’s simple sentence on the front of his workbook did this – by making the reader think, “Yeah, why aren’t I rich?”

By causing the reader to pause and think, you immediately gain their attention (eg, break through the advertising clutter). And, it’s certainly a phrase that sticks in your head (ie, you remember it) – almost like American Idol’s William Hung’s rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bang.” No matter how hard you try, you can’t get it out of your head.

What Would Howard Stern Do?

Shock marketing doesn’t have to be “shocking,” a la Shock Jock Howard Stern, to be effective. Make the reader think, laugh, recall a fond moment, etc. and you have achieved the goal of shock marketing.

Examples of Effective Shock Marketing

Remember the “Where’s the Beef?” campaign Wendy’s used back in the 80s? After almost twenty years, I still remember that old lady standing at the counter asking the question. It was hilarious.

(Okay I’m dating myself a little here – if you don’t remember this commercial, you’re not old enough to be a freelance writer!)

Type of Shock Value: Comedy! It still is one of the most effective ways to get – and hold – the public’s attention.

As a freelance writer, you could do a series of postcards or email campaigns using humor to encourage clients to use your services. Depending on how funny you are, dollars to doughnuts they will get forwarded to friends, family and acquaintances alike.

Prospects will start to look forward to your communication – and, whammo! When they need freelance writing services, who do you think they’re going to call?

Practically everyone knows about the dogfighting scandal involving ex-Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick by now. Who picketed him? PETA. How? By showing signs of bloodied dogs involved in dogfighting.

Type of Shock Value: In essence, appealing to a basic emotion (in this case, humanity). Again, the tactics used by organizations like PETA and right-to-life associations achieve the two basic goals of shock marketing – breaking through the clutter, and being remembered.

NOTE: The type of emotion you appeal to can vary – it could be anger, fear, love, etc.

How can you use this type of shock marketing as a freelance writer? Take a badly worded web page from a prospective client’s website. Edit it – in red. This will highlight all the errors in a “shocking” manner.

Then, send the prospect an edited version you did.

The tag line of your company/correspondence might read something like, “Basic Communication: Where every successful relationship starts.”

This plays on the prospect’s fear of: Is my website that bad? Am I losing business because of it? Does it need to be redone?

The type of shock marketing you use isn’t important, so play to your strengths. If you have a gift for comedy – by all means go for that. However, be careful that your shock marketing techniques match the tone of your company.

What do I mean by this? Your company’s image, which we’ll discuss tomorrow.

NEXT POST: In Post #10 tomorrow, we’ll discuss your company’s image. As in, how you want it to be perceived. You must get this right from the beginning to be successful – tomorrow’s post will explain why.

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

Editorially yours,
Yuwanda (who is this person?)
P.S.: I wanted to create a “shocking” message to end, but I spent the early part of the evening watching the US Open (I love tennis!). Did anyone catch that match between V. Williams and Jelena Jankovic (3 sets – third set tiebreak)? Awesome! Go girls! Anyway, I expended all of my energy -- and brain cells – watching that match. So, I end on a mere whimper. Sorry :(
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.
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