Posts Tagged ‘writing clients’

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.

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.

7 Warning Signs Your Freelance Writer Website Sucks

Posted in Blog on August 28th, 2013 by Carol Tice – 46 Comments

Warning SignBy Henneke Duistermaat

Let’s be frank. Creating your freelance writer website is tough.

It’s far more difficult to write your own copy than to create content for a client.

Today I’m sharing the most common mistakes on freelance websites. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll have a much better chance that your website helps you win customers and make money.

Sound good?

Mistake 1: Too-clever home page headline

Web visitors are always in a hurry. They quickly scan your home page. They decide in a few seconds whether to click back or to stay.

A web visitor doesn’t take the time to understand your clever headline. Keep your headline simple and concise, such as “Freelance Writer in Boston” or “Content Strategist Who Helps Small Businesses Win Customers”.

Mistake 2: About page isn’t engaging

Customers aren’t interested in you; they want to know why they should work with you. Don’t prattle on about yourself. Give web visitors a reason to get in touch with you — and hire you.

Mistake 3: Wishy-washy copy

Finding good-paying clients can be hard. It’s easy to be tempted to cast your net as widely as possible. But the problem with a wide target is that your marketing messages become wishy-washy, watery, and ineffective.

Instead of thinking about your audience, try to describe just one ideal client. Describe her in so much detail that you can visualize her when writing your web copy.

Writing for one person makes your web copy stronger, more engaging, and more persuasive.

Mistake 4: Stale blog

A blog is a great opportunity to show off your content creation skills. But don’t let your blog go moldy. Don’t give potential clients the impression you can’t even keep up with your own blog! Find a schedule that works for you and stick with it.

Mistake 5: Crimes against readability

Sometimes we’re so engrossed with picking exactly the right words and tightening our copy, we don’t notice how bad our copy looks.

Make your copy readable:

  • De-clutter your web pages and increase white space.
  • Reduce the length of your paragraphs.
  • Convert sentences into bullet points.
  • Increase the size of your font (the font size here is 16px).

Don’t make your readers strain their eyes. Encourage them to read your copy by promoting good, readable design.

Mistake 6: Sucky design

You don’t need a large budget to create a great-looking design: Pick a WordPress theme you like. Choose your own fonts and colors.

Sign up for Pamela Wilson’s design 101 series to learn more about designing your own site (it’s free!).

Mistake 7: You look unapproachable

Encourage web visitors to contact you. Be approachable:

  • Include a good, professional photo of you — smiling.
  • Publish an email address, because most people don’t enjoy completing forms.
  • Include active social media profiles only.

The truth about your freelance website

People hire you because you are an excellent writer, yes, but also because they know you, like you, and trust you.

Be yourself, and let your passion shine through — your enthusiasm is contagious.

Henneke Duistermaat is a marketer, copywriter, and author of the book How to Write Seductive Web Copy. Sign up for free copywriting and marketing tips at Enchanting Marketing.

Did this give you ideas on how to improve your writer website? If so let us know in the comments!

 

How I Found 488 Red-Hot Freelance Writing Prospects

Posted in Blog on August 14th, 2013 by Carol Tice – 47 Comments

Leads to big business clientsBy Ayelet Weisz

What is the most urgent need for every new freelance writer? Clients.

And finding them isn’t always easy.

They may not have the desire or budget to hire you right at the time you pitch. It ends up being a numbers game — the more potential clients you pitch, the more likely you are to find the right one at the right time.

Recently, I did a lot of research to find good businesses to pitch. I ended up with nearly 500 leads! Here’s how I did it:

  1. Let prospect news come to you: Set up Google Alerts, and industry news — funding, acquisitions, expansions and other changes — will wait for you when you log in to your inbox.
  2. Stay curious and keep looking: Check out Google News and search for “Top 10″ lists, like the “10 fastest growing pet product companies in 2012.”
  3. News sites and business magazines: They often feature business news in a variety of industries. Sites of local papers where your niche is most dominant might even have a designated tab just for news about this industry.
  4. Niche news sites: Working like trade publications, these sites allow you to cut through the distractions more general sites offer. I found one site for my chosen niche that’s more effective than Google Alerts and newspapers combined.
  5. Low-ranking companies: If they’re on the 20th page of a Google search for their industry, they need your help. That’s how I found my first business client. Plenty of companies are inundated with to-do lists and will gladly pay you to help them up their marketing efforts.
  6. Watch Google ads: These ads represent companies that are actively looking to grow their client base. Click through and brainstorm ways to help them create a more long-term marketing strategy, like blogging.
  7. Conferences and contests: They list speakers or judges and participants — plenty of potential clients. To discover even more prospects, find a Twitter hashtag and follow the buzz on social media, or search for forum talks about these events.
  8. Tap into your network: You never know who the people in your network know, so make sure to share your journey with them. I found that great niche news site because I talked to a friend who shared our conversation with her husband.
  9. Think beyond your geographical area: Being local might give you an advantage with some prospects, yet there’s no need to limit yourself to one city, state or even one country. Companies everywhere need English copywriting to attract a global audience. I’ve personally written for websites from four continents.
  10. Look beyond your niche: Look for peripheral industries and organizations. If you initially looked for startups, you also have venture capital firms, computer science schools, branding agencies, business coaches, organizations that promote women and minorities’ participation in the tech industry — and the list goes on.
  11. Pay attention to your surroundings: From sponsored ads on your Facebook feed to friends who casually mention a business to consumer magazines that profile or mention companies…. opportunities are everywhere.

How I organize my leads

I like using Excel to easily sift through prospects. Unlike Word, Excel will alert you when you’ve already included a prospect in your list. I write down prospects’ names and websites, then divide them into categories (such as niches, industries or locations, depending on my needs).

I also write down where I found them, which is usually somewhere online that contains information I can use to warm up my pitch. Additionally, I leave space for random comments and for tracking responses.

How I pre-qualify leads before I pitch

To save yourself mistake time, pre-qualify prospects. Carol recommended to me only approaching prospects that earn at least $1 million a year, as they’re big enough to have a marketing budget yet small enough that they don’t have a marketing team. When it comes to startups, you can approach companies that raised venture capital funds of $1 million or more.

Check out Manta.com, business sections of newspapers and niche sites to find this information, or simply run a quick search on Google. You can also check companies’ blogs, news or press sections on their sites, as well as their social media accounts.

If you can’t find financial information, see if the company advertises the pricing of its products or services and “guesstimate” whether those prices indicate the possibility of a marketing budget.

Still coming up empty? If you think the prospect and you can be a great match — pitch anyway. Sometimes interest comes from the most unlikely prospects.

How have you found your best clients? Tell us in the comments below.

When she’s not writing about travel, business, technology or gender issues, Ayelet Weisz relishes re-discovering her home country of Israel.