Posts Tagged ‘earn more from writing’

How to Reel in Great Freelance Writing Clients with a Bait Piece

Posted in Blog on March 13th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 16 Comments

Freelance writers can hook clients with a bait pieceBy James Palmer

There are many ways freelance writers can get new clients, but few are more effective than a bait piece.

Write it once, then post it on your site and it’ll go to work for you all the time to grab new clients.

Curious about what a bait piece is, and how to create one? Read on:

What’s a bait piece?

According to copywriter Bob Bly, a bait piece is “an informative booklet, white paper, or special report addressing some aspect of the problem your product or service helps the reader solve.”

In this case, the service is your writing. You are not just a writer, but a problem solver.

Your bait piece could be anything from a white paper or case study to a helpful checklist or video.

Why bait pieces work

A good bait piece is effective for several reasons.

First and foremost, it establishes you as an expert in your prospect’s eyes not just another freelance writer. Many clients think writers are a dime a dozen, but they’ll gladly pay your fees if you approach them as an expert in the problem your writing solves.

Second, a bait piece acts as a sample of your writing, so make sure it looks professional and every word is spelled correctly.

Finally, it builds confidence and trust in you and your services. A strong bait piece makes the client think: “If her free information is this good, just think what her paid services can do for me and my business.”

The bonus? By having a high-quality bait piece, you’ll tend to attract higher-quality clients. Your bait piece can make the difference between dealing with lowballers and getting name-brand businesses in your client stable.

How to create a solid bait piece

If it sounds overwhelming to you to create one of these, trust me, you can do this. My tips:

  • Keep it simple. A short report with an evocative title works best. “10 Tips for…” “7 Secrets to….” Checklists also work well.
  • Solve a problem. A good bait piece tells a client how to solve a problem they have related to your writing niche. Don’t worry that you’re giving away all your secrets for free; the object is to show them that you’re the best person for the job — and convince them to hire you.
  • Make it valuable. Work hard to make your free report really valuable to your client. Study their industry and your competitors to come up with a report your prospect hasn’t seen before.
  • Target it. Depending on your niche, something industry specific, such as “12 Ways Restaurants Can Get More Clients from Social Media” can be much more effective than a generic writing-related topic like “How to Create Web Copy that Sells.”
  • Price it. You can also give your free report high perceived value by putting a price on the title page. Then you can say something like, “Click here to get my FREE report, 10 Facebook Marketing Faux Pas and How to Avoid Them (a $29 value).” You can even sell it elsewhere on your website.
  • Think outside the page. Your bait piece doesn’t have to be words on a page. You could also create a video and make it available for streaming on your website. All you need is PowerPoint, a microphone, and some screen capture software.
  • Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Offer your bait piece in every email you send to prospects with a strong, benefit-rich statement that makes them want it and tells them how to get it quickly and easily.
  • Go hard and soft. When crafting your prospect email, give them a hard and soft offer. Your hard offer is to contact you for more information about you and your services, and can include things like a free consultation, while your soft offer is for the free report. Those who need your help right away will go for your hard offer, while those who don’t need your help right now but might somewhere down the road will respond to your soft offer of the free report.

If you need formatting help to create a white paper or checklist report that looks great, partner with a designer who needs a portfolio piece of the type you’re creating and you can probably do a swap or get a good price.

Got questions about creating a bait piece — or got a bait piece to share? Ask in the comments, or feel free to give us a link to your piece and tell us how you created it.

James Palmer is a freelance content marketing writer, fiction author and independent publisher. He is the author of The Secrets of Six-Figure Freelancing: Make More Money and Have More Fun as a Freelance Writer.

12 Tips to Overcome Freelance Clients’ Cost Objections

Posted in Blog on March 4th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 27 Comments

Stop hand gestureBy David Leonhardt

So you caught your potential freelance writing client’s interest. Congrats!

You like the project (it’s an interesting one, for a change!) and it might even keep your mortgage from defaulting next month.

You’ve agonized over the price and finally presented your fee.

The client doesn’t like the price. Now what?

Go back to the client and figure out the reason behind the objection. Then negotiate.

Why clients fight back on price

My freelance writing agency runs into such objections all the time. You don’t have to cave in. There are many tactics you can use to overcome cost objections, but you first need to understand their motivation.

Most fall into three categories.

An “over budget” objection is about money. You need to understand whether the budget can be altered.

A “seems pricey” objection is about both money and value. You need convince the client  you will give them value for their money.

Others just like to haggle.

Anticipate hagglers by being alert for clients who ask for the best price from the start or micro-managers who are often as concerned about pennies as they are about commas. Quote high; they will be happy with the “deal” they negotiate — the price you would have offered in the first place.

Once you know the type of objection you’re facing, you can decide whether to hold fast on the price you quoted or work with the client to get your wage where they want it.

Tricks to get your quoted rate

The key here is to help the client see why you are worth the price. Here are some tactics:

1. Sell the client on a quick turnaround. You can complete the job before they even find another writer.

2. Itemize costs they save with you, such as your knowledge that saves paying for research time or auto-formatting the document.

3. Paying bottom dollar has embarrassed many companies. Remind the client of this.

4. Stress how good you are and how effective your results will be. If you don’t demonstrate value, the client might look for a writer more willing to haggle.

5. Compare your fees to the competition’s pricing, unless you command top dollar. Position yourself as “reasonable” to overcome cost objections.

6. Offer something extra – formatting, a related press release – as a free bonus for signing quickly.

Ways to lower your price — pain free

If it is clear that you DO need to lower the price, but you don’t like slave wages, here are some tactics to try:

7. Identify steps the client can take to reduce your workload so you can lower your price to their desired level. Sometimes this makes the client realize that it is worth paying you full price, after all.

8. Offer a cash-back incentive for speedy feedback or proper input from the client. Client cooperation can reduce your workload, so it might be worth lowering your price.

9. Look to outsource parts of the project to students. Research? Editing? Can you lower your price this way without working for less?

10. Offer a payment plan — three portions works well. This is of no import for large clients, but smaller clients love it.

11. Suggest downscaling the project. If they really have funds for just part of it, offer to do just part of it. This also can make the client decide to just pay full price.

12. Divide a project into phases. Determine what you can do within their budget, and call it Phase I. Chances are  they will pay full price for Phase II later on.

If you remain at a stalemate on price, it’s time to decide how badly you want this job. Just remember that when you accept a lower price, you are raising expectations for the next time and lowering your value forever.

What tricks have you used to push past client objections? Tell us in the comments below.

David Leonhardt has been running THGM Writing Services for over a decade, providing writing and editing services. Most THGM projects are books, blogs, web content and various business materials.

 Freelance Business Bootcamp

3 Things Graduate School Taught Me About Freelance Writing

Posted in Blog on February 20th, 2014 by Editor – 19 Comments

Freelance writers can learn from grad schoolBy Jill C. Moffett

Before I became a freelance writer, I spent 6 years in graduate school.

I studied feminist theory, anthropology, public health and cultural theory. I got my PhD. But I decided not to pursue a career in academia.

Why? It may be tough to make it as a writer, but it is even tougher to make it as a professor. So I took the things I’d learned in school and applied them to freelance writing.

Here are the transferable skills I acquired:

1. Always cite your sources

If there’s one thing academics hate, it’s a cheater.

In fact, plagiarism by undergraduates is such a problem that many instructors run student assignments through plagiarism-detection software.

By the time students make it into grad school, they are steeped in the fear of being kicked out of school and professionally shamed. As a result, grad-school papers are replete with footnotes.

That doesn’t mean you should include footnotes in your next pitch to Parents magazine, but keeping track of sources is a crucial habit for all freelance writers.

2. Specialize, don’t generalize

For my grad-school research to be meaningful, it had to focus on the details. Dissertations look at the small picture, and all successful academics are specialists.

As a teaching assistant for large undergraduate classes, one of my main jobs (besides making sure they weren’t plagiarizing) was to help students narrow their ideas — to go deep instead of broad.

The same applies to freelance writing. You can market yourself as a health writer, but it’s even better if you are a women’s health writer who focuses on public health policy. The more specialized you get, the easier it will be to find markets who need your services — and to command the highest rates.

3. Don’t give up

Every graduate student knows that the best dissertation is a finished dissertation. The only way to get it done is to work at it every day with one goal in mind: finish it.

It wasn’t easy for me to stay on track. I knew most academic articles are published in journals that aren’t even available to the public.

Chances are, the only people who will ever read my dissertation are the five people who were on my committee. But if you want to get your PhD, you can’t let that stop you.

Things are not much different as a freelance writer. The editor I just pitched might not read my email. I might have to submit dozens of ideas before I get an assignment.

But I don’t let that bother me. I have to make money. For one thing, I have to save up to send my son to college.

What life or academic lessons have you applied to your writing? Tell us in the comments below.

Jill C. Moffett is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. She focuses on women’s health, education, and a variety of issues pertaining to gender, race,  class, and sexuality.

How I Landed 2 Writing Clients and $1,000+ in Just 7 Emails

Posted in Blog on February 13th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 28 Comments

Marketing emails can get clients for freelance writersBy Jessica Leigh Brown

Have you ever needed to scare up a few new freelance writing clients? That was me in early January.

To spread the word, I decided to email all my past freelance writing clients, along with prospective clients I’d already connected with.

I’m relatively new to freelancing, so that meant sending a grand total of seven emails.

But those seven messages landed me two new clients and four article assignments — a total of $1,050 in freelance writing gigs — over the next month. I also got responses from a few more clients, saying they’ll probably have work for me later.

What to say

Did I make some kind of amazing sales pitch in these emails? No, I’m terrible at sales pitches.

In essence, all I said to each client was “Happy new year!” — and “Here’s my schedule for the next month or two. I have some availability between X and X, so if you need help with a project, let me know.”

That’s it — just touching base. So why did these messages meet with such success?

Make it personal

When I originally thought of sending emails to past and prospective clients, I posted a question in the Freelance Writer’s Den to see if anyone else had tried this method.

A few other writers had, and everyone urged me to go ahead — but to make each email personalized instead of mass-mailing my holiday greetings.

Writing personalized emails is always a better way to get gigs. Addressing a prospect by name shows that you’re willing to make an effort to write for their publication or business — and that you’re not just a spam-bot, sending out thousands upon thousands of identical emails.

In each of my touch-base emails, I reminded the prospect of the last time we’d talked. For example, “Last time we chatted, I’d expressed interest in writing for your publication, X.”

Making that link helps the communication feel like you’re picking up an old conversation, rather than starting cold.

Make it timely

The holidays are a great time to send your clients well-wishes — and update them on those gaps you want to fill in your work calendar. But you could send touch-base emails at any time of year.

The best time to send out touch-base emails is several weeks before you have a looming gap in your schedule. That way, clients have time to consult their own schedules, plan ahead, and — hopefully — give you assignments to help fill yours.

Make it short

Let’s face it: We’re writers. We like to play with words, and sometimes that means we’re long-winded.

While vivid descriptions and in-depth analyses might be needed in your writing projects (depending on the type of gigs you take), it’s better to avoid them in touch-base emails.

Instead, go for brevity and clarity. Just a few lines will do the job.

Here’s an example based on one of my New Year’s emails:

Subject: Happy new year, and January availability

Hi Once-or-Future-Client,

Just wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy new year! Hope 2014 is off to a great start for you and yours.

Last time we communicated, I’d expressed interest in writing for [Your Publication]. I’m arranging my freelance schedule for the next month or two, and wondered if you need help with any upcoming projects? I will be fully booked from X to X, but have some availability in [month].

Let me know. Thanks, and have a wonderful week!

Best,
Jessica Brown

Give it a try

My two new clients are a trade journal editor who’s given me article assignments for two magazines she edits, and a custom publisher that produces travel-related web content.

Not bad for a quick hit of painless marketing. If you’re running low on work, I challenge you to give touch-base emailing a try. It just might yield some lucrative new freelance writing gigs.

Jessica Leigh Brown is a freelance journalist who loves telling stories. Currently, she writes for trade journals, websites, magazines, and a business college’s alumni publication.