Posts Tagged ‘writing job ads’

5 Quick Ways Busy Freelancers Can Keep Marketing

Posted in Blog on April 6th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 30 Comments

Busy freelance writerIt’s always great to be busy as a freelance writer. But one problem that often crops up is that it’s easy to let marketing slide.

Then, next thing you know, those current projects wrap. And you find yourself facing the terror of an empty schedule and the plummeting income that goes along with it.

One writer recently asked me what to do about this problem:

“I have some regular clients, but projects are coming to an end. I find now, in 2014, I’m wondering where and when the next client will appear. I have a good-sized social community via Facebook and Twitter, I have glowing testimonials, but the work is simply not there.

“My question for you is a) where do you find your clients? What has worked/not worked for you? and b) do you or anyone else you know sub-contract?”

Unfortunately, just from the nature of these questions, I could tell this writer was probably headed off the financial cliff when her current projects wrapped up.

3 Things that don’t get clients

Inaction. The big thing is, freelance clients do not usually appear magically, without your doing anything. Not good ones, anyway.

The clients are “not there” for all freelancers, until we go out and proactively market and find them. Take responsibility for your business success and realize it’s up to you to get out there and look for new clients (or new projects from current clients).

Wondering how others do it. I could tell you what worked for me in marketing but ultimately, I think it’s not that helpful. Because — at the risk of stating the obvious — you are not me.

Every writer’s portfolio, goals, ideal client, specialization, and experience are different, as are the ways we feel most comfortable doing marketing.

You need to develop your own marketing plan, instead of wondering if there’s a magic rock other freelancers could tell you about, under which would be a bunch of awesome, great-paying clients.

Really, quizzing other writers on where they find clients is just another form of inaction — rather than figuring out your marketing approach, you’re hoping to find one you can swipe. Where actually doing a lot of marketing is what gives you the only useful data on where you get clients.

Asking writers for gigs. Few freelance writers I know have so much work that they’re subbing it out to other writers. If they do, it will be to writers whose work they know well, not writers who are total strangers you randomly ask for work.

In general, other writers should not be your target client. There isn’t a ton of work in that pool.

Which leaves you to do the marketing to find your clients.

Yes, it’s hard to find time for marketing activities when you’re still busy wrapping up those current client projects. But it’s essential that you do it now, or you’ll find yourself falling off the income cliff in a month or two when those projects end.

5 Quick marketing techniques

The good news is there are quick ways to keep your marketing rolling, even during busy times. Here are five of my favorites:

1. Improve your online tools

If you like clients to simply appear without exerting yourself, invest time in improving your writer website to make it a strong inbound marketing tool for your freelance business.

Don’t have a writer website? It’s time to get one. You really can’t present yourself professionally these days without a site.

Making sure you’ve got good key words for your type of writing and/or geographic location on your writer site, and that you frequently update it to help Google think it’s a busy place, can all help you get found on search by the right type of prospects.

Tweaking your site copy is something you can do 10 minutes a day on, and it’s well worth it to up your odds of drawing prospects to you. Inbound marketing is the ideal, versus having to actively pitch prospects — write copy once, let it go out and sell for you endlessly. So this should always be the first priority.

2. Tap your network

This writer says they have decent numbers of connections on Facebook and Twitter — but is she using them? Do your tweeps know you are looking for new freelance clients? If not, now’s the time to put out the word.

Yes, that’s a little tricky on social media since hard-sell messages are frowned on. But usually people won’t flame you if you just ask for their referrals.

The writer who sent this comment may be missing out if they’re not active on LinkedIn, the one social-media platform where self-promotion is more acceptable. There are great ways to troll for clients on LinkedIn — so get busy on there.

My experience is LinkedIn connections are happy to recommend and refer you, if you’ll only ask. And it takes just a few moments a day to reach out. You can even mass-mail your LinkedIn contacts 50 people at a time, but use this option with caution to avoid coming off spammy.

While you’re doing quick online networking, don’t forget to ask your current clients for referrals, too — they can be a great resource for new work.

3. Meet live humans

One of the best ways to build relationships and get fresh leads on new gigs is to get yourself to some in-person networking events. Often, these take place at night when you might normally not be working on client projects, so they can be easy to slip into your schedule.

Yes, some networking events turn out to be a waste of time, but don’t let that discourage you. Keep circulating around to different groups until you find the one where you get promising leads. Be sure to follow up after you meet, too.

4. Short bursts

If you want to send letters of introduction or query letters and feel like you never have time for a multi-hour writing project, you can get it done by splitting up the task into 10- or 15-minute tasks.

Today, just write the introductory paragraph, or maybe do a quick pre-interview with a source so your query has a quote. Tomorrow, write your bio line that’ll go at the bottom. And so on, until your query is ready to send.

5. Job alerts

Yes, online job ads often lead you to lower-quality clients. But if you target niche job boards or boards where the employers have to pay to post, such as LinkedIn’s Jobs, you can hit some nice pay dirt.

To make this quick and easy, set up alerts or saved searches on your key words and get sites to feed you relevant openings for your types of writing. A quick 5-minute scan a day of that can help you find at least a few leads.

Be sure to template some stock language you can cut and paste together and quickly personalize for the client’s situation so that it’s quick to respond when you spot a job ad that looks right for you. Also save time here by being picky and only responding to listings that sound like a perfect fit and ask for experience you have.

 

Whatever you do, try to commit at least a few minutes each day for some sort of marketing activity. You’ll be a lot less anxious about how you’ll pay the bills and keep your freelance business thriving when the current rush ends.

How do you fit in a quick hit of marketing when you’re busy? Leave a comment and share your approach.

3 Simple Ways to Find Better-Paying Freelance Writing Jobs

Posted in Blog on September 27th, 2013 by Carol Tice – 52 Comments

Surprised freelance writer earning great money onlineDo you feel like it’s a pipe dream to make a living as a freelance writer?

I hear a lot of comments like this from writers who are about ready to give up on their writing dreams.

They write me to say:

“It just seems like there aren’t any good-paying freelance writing jobs anymore.”

Have to say, I disagree. But whether you think freelance writing is a land of unlimited opportunity or a field no one can earn a living at seems to depend on your personal experience.

Just this past week, I referred a $150-a-post finance blogging gig to my Freelance Writers Den Junk-Free Job Board. And heard from a writer who’s found daily papers that still pay $1 a word. Another writer let me know she dropped a $30-a-post client and replaced them with one that pays $175.

My experience is that if you have the mindset that lucrative writing jobs are out there and you’re not going to stop until you find them, you can end up earning a nice living.

If you buy into the negativity that all articles are now worth $10, you won’t earn more. So ditch your pre-conceptions for starters.

Now, you’re ready to look for better pay.

What can you do to locate the better writing gigs? Here are three tips:

1. Swim in a smaller pool

Are you looking at mass job boards such as Craigslist, just like 10,000 other writers? Stop.

Instead, find niche job boards that fewer writers see, with jobs not all writers could do. For instance, I found some great business-finance gigs with Gorkana alerts. This marketing consultancy also puts out healthcare and media writing job alerts, too.

These more exclusive job listings can take a little sleuthing to turn up — they might lurk on a professional association website, or run on the back page of an industry trade publication. But it will be worth the effort, as the quality of the jobs offered will often be worlds removed from what you see on Craigslist. I got a gig writing for a major TV network’s website through a niche board.

2. Ask around

Get on a local writer listserv or go to local writer networking events. For instance, I’ve attended local Media Bistro live events in my town, and belong to a Seattle listserv, Women in Digital Journalism, that’s a gold mine of info about markets in my town. (These are also great places to get referral business, too.)

Especially for local markets, other writers in your town are the best sources to get the real dirt. Who takes six months to pay you? Who pays $1 a word?

Who’s growing, and who’s about to fold? Other local writers can be a great source and save you a lot of time. So find your local equivalent of these types of networking groups, whether virtual or in-person.

3. Think bigger

Instead of guessing who might be able to pay a decent rate, do some research to identify prospective markets that are likely to pay well. Remember, most writer jobs are never advertised — the business owner or editor is too swamped to wade through resumes or to even write an ad!

Many good gigs happen when you tap into the huge pool of hidden demand for writers.

How can you tell if a market can pay well? Your clue is that the organization has money.

Many startup online job sites have little or no revenue. To earn more, you need to move beyond these shaky operations to find more established, successful markets.

If you write for publications, get The Writer’s Market with online support, dial their search engine up to five dollar signs (the highest pay rate), and see what comes up. Make that your pitch pool, instead of whatever magazines you happen to see on your local newsstand.

You’ll find national publications with big circulations tend to pay better. Also good are niche publications that have a well-heeled readership (CEOs, doctors, lawyers, etc.)

If you write for businesses, research revenue and target bigger companies. Move up from whatever you’ve been focused on — if it’s been solopreneurs, find companies with a few employees. If it’s been $1 million businesses with one store or office, try $10 million ones with multiple locales.

The best pay is usually with companies with $10 million or more of revenue. My best client ever in terms of hourly rate was a $1 billion privately held consulting firm. It’s a myth that the Fortune 500 don’t hire freelancers — I’ve written freelance for several of them, so I can tell you they do.

I like to look for companies that sell a physical product or valuable service that they deliver in the three-dimensional, real world. Steer clear of websites whose only revenue is online ads and the only “products” are your articles. That model isn’t succeeding for most of the businesses that try it.

Also look for longevity. If they’ve been around five years or more, they’re likely profitable, and serious about marketing. And that means opportunity for you, at professional rates.

How did you find your best-paying freelance writing job? Leave a comment and tell us.

 

How Kicking Craigslist Jump-Started My Freelance Writing Career

Posted in Blog on December 7th, 2012 by Carol Tice – 28 Comments

by Sarita Harbour

Are you desperately searching Craigslist for freelance writing gigs?

I was. But not anymore.

Using techniques Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli teach in the Freelance Writers Den, not only did I kick my Craigslist habit, I gained four quality clients and two potential new projects in six weeks.

And they were all at better rates than I’d ever earned from Craigslist clients.

Why I Stopped Looking at the Free Job Boards

After several frustrating months wasting time searching online classifieds for better clients to replace the content mill work that was (barely) paying my bills, I took a two-day writing break  to paint my kitchen.

I finally found time to listen to several Freelance Writers Den webinars.  As I taped, rolled, brushed and listened, a theme emerged.  Take a month to stop looking for quality writing clients on Craigslist and start marketing like crazy.

Here’s the thing.  For every legitimate small business using Craigslist to find freelance writers, there are hundreds of questionable characters who want 500 words for $10.

My Craigslist days were full of posts removed by authors within hours of appearing, ridiculously low rates, and requests for free work samples.

There were very few good freelance writing opportunities.

Even worse, it became a habit and a major time-suck. Up at six, coffee in hand, I’d go straight to Craigslist each morning.

Before I knew it, the kids were awake and my early morning work-time was gone with few, if any, leads to show for it.

How I Broke the Craigslist Habit in 5 Easy Steps

  • Remove the temptation.  I began by removing all bookmarks for job boards and online classified listings that were cluttering up my computer. It was scary, liberating, and made my toolbar and bookmark menu a lot neater.
  • Replace the activity.  Any addict will tell you that replacing unhealthy activities with healthy ones is key to staying on the path to recovery.  Replace Craigslist searching with identifying potential new clients and creating customized pitches.  I specialize in writing for online clients, and used Alexa rankings to identify top websites in my niches. Start at the lower ranked sites and work your way up the food chain.
  • Research.  My next step was to study current issues in my niches, and craft customized emails. These included an attention-grabbing subject line, a few possible titles, and detailed pitches for each target client. This took some time, but was worth it when my first marketing email resulted in two sold articles and an assignment for a third at a personal-finance website at almost triple the content mill rates.
  • Refine.  When the temptation to browse online classifieds was overwhelming, I refined my search to better-quality job boards such as LinkedIn (job posters have to pay to list here), MediaBistro, and the Junk-Free Job Board on the Freelance Writer’s Den.  To date I have signed contracts with two clients found on the Junk-Free Board. One is an agency that pays $150 an article for finance topics that take roughly a couple hours to write.
  • Repeat. This isn’t a one-day thing.  I vowed to keep stick to my guns for at least a month, and I did.

Now, I’m working on replacing my $150 clients with ones that pay more. One new client I recently landed has multiple sites, lots of work, and pays $200 per 500-word post.

I learned that replacing Craigslist browsing with proactive, daily marketing leads to higher-paying jobs from better-quality clients.  It worked for me and it will work for you, too.

Sarita Harbour is a professional freelance writer specializing in web design, small business, personal finance and content marketing techniques. She is thrilled to have kicked her Craigslist habit.

Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #5: How to Quickly Mine Job Ads for Gold

Posted in Blog on January 20th, 2012 by Carol Tice – 22 Comments

Anyone who has spent a week looking at the writing jobs posted on Craigslist knows online job ads are not a great source of top-paying clients.

The best clients, you find doing your own proactive marketing.

However…there are a few creative ways you can use job ads to find good gigs.

The key is to not let online job ads take up too much of your marketing time. You need to scan the ads quickly and move on to more effective marketing methods (namely, just about anything else).

I went through more than a year solid where I was scanning the job ads nearly every day. After a while, I got it down to a system and didn’t spend more than about 15 minutes a day on it.

How did I do it? Here are my seven tips for how to quickly find good leads in the job ads:

1. Look at the ads for full-time jobs. Yes, you’re not really looking for a full-time job. But when a company is advertising for a full-time person, my experience in 12 years of staff-writing jobs says that means the publication or company is now freelancing out that staffer’s workload to avoid overloading the remaining staffers.

Concentrate your attention on the companies that are a perfect fit — you know their industry or read their publication.

Maybe they need someone to fill in until they complete their job search? Maybe they also use freelancers regularly, as well as in-house writers? You won’t know unless you ask.

The full-time job ad simply provides me with a good contact. So if it’s a company or publication that fits my expertise, I go ahead and apply. I say, “Hi there, not looking for full-time, I’m actually a happy freelancer. But I have the skills you need (I usually throw in a few relevant samples here). Do you use freelancers?”

I’ve scored several great new editor connections this way over the years, including two in the past year or so that paid $1 a word. It’s a great way to get your name in front of people that use writers, at a time when they may well need help.

2. Be picky. As I hinted above, you don’t want to apply to a lot of online job ads, as most will be a waste of your time. So skip everything that asks for free samples, or says you can write about any topic you like, or that they have unlimited assignments. These are never good gigs. Be very wary of blind ads, where the company isn’t identified. You’re looking for the ad that seems like it was made for you — it mentions the exact expertise you have, and the company checks out as a real, decent-sized, going concern. That’s the one you want to take the time to apply for.

3. Look at site-specific job ads out of your area. I’m selective here — if it says anything like “meet with us weekly at our Akron offices,” I move on. On the other hand, if the ad title mentions a city, but the ad text doesn’t describe anything that needs to be done in person, and it mentions my expertise, I go ahead and apply if the company seems legit.

Just ask right up top if they’d consider someone working remotely. Play up your expertise both in their field, and your expertise in working remotely.

4. Watch for paid listings. Companies that place paid ads are usually established, legitimate organizations. Specialized job boards and organizations’ job listings are often paid situations. These companies are telling you something when they take out that paid ad — they want to post in more exclusive places as they don’t have time to wade through 300 resumes.

To me, a paid listing qualifies that client right away as a good lead.

5. Use social media. If you’re not looking at the jobs on LinkedIn, I highly recommend it — many of the listings are exclusive to the site. And LinkedIn listings are paid listings, which as we’ve just discussed is highly desirable.

LI is a great place to find full-time job ads you can piggyback on with your freelance request, as per #1. You can also try to use your connections to get a referral attached to your application, which I’m told greatly increases your odds of getting the contact’s attention in the pile of resumes they are likely receiving.

Twitter is also a growing place for freelance gigs. Not only can you tweet about the work you’re looking for, but you can use Twitter’s search feature to troll for jobs. Some of the sites mentioned above are on Twitter tweeting about listings, so you could get a jump on the masses this way.

There are an increasing number of job-focused tweeters, too — I’ve checked out  @WritersDigest, @FSsJobs (that’s Freelance Switch), @tweetajob, and many others.

Even Facebook is getting into the act lately — I’ve been spotting some interesting-looking listings going up from Facebook4Freelancers, which has a lot of writer listings.

6. Look for niche job boards. Get off Craigslist and find more exclusive job boards. These usually focus on one niche area. For instance, as a business-finance writer I’ve had good luck with Gorkana Alerts (they’ve got alerts for healthcare and media, too). You’ll have to do some sleuthing to find where your best ads hang out, but it can be well worth it if you find a good board. I got one of my biggest, long-term blogging gigs through my niche board.

7. Try the Junk-Free Job Board. Inside Freelance Writers Den, we’ve developed a job board that scans dozens of the mass job-ad places, screens out all the junk, and then only presents better offers (thanks to some tech help from Ty). Some weeks there’s hardly anything on it — a testament to how few good jobs can really be found online. But the few listings we have tend to be quality, and all are a cut above the usual $5-$10 article offers. You save a ton of time by not having to wade through the junk, and quite a few Denizens have already gotten good gigs from them. The bonus: I pass on a lot of freelance offers I get these days, and when I do, I often add that lead to the job board, too.

In this market, it pays to get creative when you’re looking for clients. If you’re not able to go out and do in-person networking, a discerning scan of the job ads can help you turn up good clients without leaving home.

How have you found good clients through online ads? Leave a comment and let us know.

Need more marketing help? I’m available to answer your questions in here…