The Writing Revelation That Changed How I View Myself as a Freelancer

The Writing Revelation That Changed How I View Myself as a FreelancerBy Marya Jan

I hate cold calling.

I hate interrupting someone’s day with my message.

Why should I ask for their time? I don’t want to impose. They don’t owe me anything.

We all feel that way, right? We come up with a long list of excuses detailing why we shouldn’t contact people.

Why don’t we pitch our services more confidently and readily? What is stopping us?

I found the answer to this question in Freelance Writers Den. Carol said something that changed the way I look at my business – forever.

You are a business.

Be businesslike. And stop apologizing.

What a concept!

Yes, I am a business. Not a nuisance.

When I approach people, I do so because I have services to offer that have the power to change their businesses.

I get in touch with them because I owe it to them to let them know I can help them.

As I have gone through the Den material and learned how to create effective Letters of Introduction (LOIs), I have picked up two great clients within past two months.

They are paying me upwards of $100.00 for every post that I write for their business websites.

For ongoing work! Hooray!

So how did I do that? Here’s what I recommend.

1. Research and locate businesses for which you’d be an ideal match

Identify businesses who would love to have you on board. Companies that are looking for you right now, companies that can really use your skill and expertise.

When you do your homework, you increase your chances of getting your pitch accepted. It is not rocket science and still, most of us don’t do it.

2. Approach businesses with confidence

There is no need to be apologetic. You are not asking for donations or charity.

Stop saying things like ‘sorry to bother you’ or ‘I know you are really busy but could you give me a few minutes of your time?’

Get to the point.

You are a business, so act like one.

3. Compose letters of introduction tailor made for their needs

The biggest blunder you can do is to send out generic pitches. If you take away the salutation, could you have sent this to anybody? Then don’t do it.

Carol has some excellent material in the Den where she shows you how to craft LOI’s that work. In the forum, you can post yours for review and people WILL respond, ready to help you perfect it.

4. Pre-sell with your writer site

I am a web writer, creating online copy and content so I can’t survive if I don’t have my own site.

Even when you are writing for print magazines and publications, you should still have your site up and running. Ready to refer people to on a permanent basis, and when you mail your LOIs.

5. Don’t guess at rates

Again, reach out to your inner confident, professional self when quoting your rates. Never underestimate your value.

And stop obsessing about if they could have paid more.

You can always bounce off ideas from trusted colleagues. I find Writers Den’s forum to be really valuable in this regard, and Carol is always there to help.

6. Be professional every step of the way

Lastly, if you have done everything right, and you didn’t get the project, then it simply wasn’t meant to be. The most important thing is to be your 100% best in everything you say or do.

Marya Jan is a freelance blogger and online copywriter. She writes at Writing Happiness where she helps solo professionals and small business owners breathe life into their blog content and make it work that much harder. Follow her @WritingH, she is very friendly.

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22 comments on “The Writing Revelation That Changed How I View Myself as a Freelancer
  1. Ali says:

    Marya’s guest posts are everywhere these days, and I enjoyed this one the most 🙂
    Ali recently posted…At Last: Google Answers ‘Are My Pages Indexed In Google?’My Profile

  2. Joshua Monen says:

    Marya, thank you for sharing this. I agree, how we view ourselves and the benefits clients get from using our services is so important. I was fortunate to have learned this lesson as an insurance agent, before becoming a full-time freelancer, and it has helped me tremendously.

    I like how you said, “Identify businesses who would love to have you on board. Companies that are looking for you right now, companies that can really use your skill and expertise.” When we think like this we are able find more win-win situations. Thanks for sharing!
    Joshua Monen recently posted…5 Simple Ways to Keep Copywriting Clients HappyMy Profile

    • Marya says:

      Joshua, you need to be asking one question ALL THE TIME .. What makes you so special that the client should hire you and pay your rates instead of going to a content mill? The moment you answer this truthfully, accurately identify the value you bring to the table, there would be no stopping you. Think about it.

      Thanks for your kind words. 🙂
      Marya recently posted…3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List PostsMy Profile

  3. Amandah says:

    Absolutely! It’s time for to start pitching my teleplay and soon-to-be finished half-hour TV sitcom. I know both projects are marketable and timely.

  4. Marya,

    This is great article. I personally liked the following part: “Again, reach out to your inner confident, professional self when quoting your rates. Never underestimate your value.”

    I have recently started to charge more and lost only a fraction of customers. I wish I should have increased my rate before.
    Frank Steiner recently posted…Best twitter plugin for WordPressMy Profile

    • Marya says:

      This is a huge issue for most freelancers. We all agonize over if we could have quoted higher rates or will we scare the prospective clients. The best way is to quote rates that are fair to both of you and then forget about it. I know, easier said than done.

      Thanks Frank
      Marya recently posted…3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List PostsMy Profile

  5. Thanks for the encouragement. As a new freelancer, it is hard to “get out there & sell”. I have made it my goal for the month of August to contact at least 10 people per day.
    Clara Mathews recently posted…Are You in A Creative Rut?My Profile

    • Marya says:

      Hey Clara. I totally know what you mean. That’s why it is so important to ge gigs that won’t end in a short period of time. I’d rather work with 3 clients on a regular basis to cut down on my marketing even if I could potentially charge higher prices for one off projects. But that’s just me.
      Marya recently posted…Is Your Post Publish Ready? Give it a 24 Hour TestMy Profile

  6. Amandah says:

    Hi Carol,

    I got the idea from a couple of marketing newsletters I subscribe to. I’ll test it out for a while and see how it goes. Although, I’ve been thinking about creating my own materials (books, eBooks, greeting cards, screenplays, short stories, etc.) to sell and give up freelance writing for good. I’m still weighing the pros and cons.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hey, if you can make money selling all your own products, who wouldn’t? As someone who’s got several paid products, I’ll just say there’s usually quite a ramp to taking that full time. But by all means writers should ALL be creating products of their own. Because we can now.

      • Marya says:

        Carol, you ought to do a post on that. As far as I know, you are one of the few people who actually tell it like it is. We need to hear the truth as to how hard it is exactly to create, launch, and sell our own products. If there is a lucrative market for writers/bloggers who have a list that is smaller than 5k. (That would be me!)

        Marya
        Marya recently posted…3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List PostsMy Profile

  7. Jawad says:

    Marya,
    Thanks for the wonderful post.
    I am fortunate to have found Carol’s blog in very early phase of my successful writing career and have taken great advantage to several of the valuable advices and other tips, she shares with her readers.
    And now all these wonderful guest posts are greatly adding to the overall variety and unique perspective to the writing endeavor.
    Since I already have a stable list of good-paying clients, whom I persistently approached early on, to offer my services in a very niche area (SAP). I am still debating (or should I say not sure) on the importance of having a dedicated website or a blog. Perhaps, I still have not realized the importance of having a website/blog to be a source of steady income or potential clients, albeit indirectly.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Jawad —

      Glad the tips helped you!

      And I’m really excited by the quality of guest posts I’m getting to present here on the blog, too.

      You only need a website if you don’t want to be invisible to the majority of clients. It’s hard to convince prospects in any tech niche that you’re a happening freelancer when you can’t even spend $40 for a year of hosting and put up a basic website, I think. If you tried it I think you’d find it a good investment of your money that would pay off many times over.

      • Jawad says:

        Carol,
        As I said, I’d been very fortunate to have found ‘success’ in very early phase of my writing endeavor (and ‘special’ thanks to you for this), I am already all over the TOP SAP websites, which is my niche area.

        These high-profile SAP advisor’s roles are enough for prospective clients to impress, when I approach them to offer my services. And I do indeed blog, which I believe needs to be tweaked to make it more focused.

        Thank you Carol.

    • Marya says:

      That’s fantastic Jawad. Good to hear you are doing so well. I have to agree with Carol on this one too I am afraid, I think a blog can only help you in your business. It can prevent you from falling into the feast vs famine cycle and help generate leads on a regular basis.

      If I were as successful as you are, I’d be strutting my stuff on my site! What’s there to think about?

      Marya
      Marya recently posted…3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List PostsMy Profile

  8. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I needed this encouragement today!

  9. Amandah says:

    Great tips!

    I especially like “1. Research and locate businesses for which you’d be an ideal match.” I recently added a form to my website that has helped me ‘weed out’ clients that do not fit my Ideal Client. I’m also going over my business plan and marketing strategy to ensure I’m on the right track for the remainder of 2012. I want to start 2013 with gusto!

    I’ve had some trials and tribulations as a freelance writer. If I could go back to the beginning, I would have found a full-time freelance writer and asked he/she to become my mentor. This would have saved me time, money and headaches.
    Amandah recently posted…The Howard Stern Guide to Shocking the Shirts Off Your Readers (And Keeping Them Hooked)My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Fascinating…my sense is that the only time you should put a form on your site is if you’re giving away a high-value product in exchange for detailed lead information — it’s something that works in the high-paid services/consulting niche, but I’ve never seen a good use of a form on a freelance writer’s site.

      Most people won’t fill out forms, so it’s a huge “pushback” that sends many people away.

      I’d be interested to hear how you feel the form has helped you, Amandah.

    • Marya says:

      Hi Amanda,

      Look, I agree with with Carol has said. I think it’s probably not a ver good idea to qualify your leads in this manner. Let them approach you based on what you offer. Really work on fine tuning your prospecting list so that you are not wasting time there… thanks for sharing your thoughts. Cheers,

      Marya
      Marya recently posted…3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List PostsMy Profile

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  1. […] Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing and the other day she posted a guest post called, “The Writing Revelation That Changed How I View Myself as a Freelancer.” In it, writer Marya Jan asserts, “Be businesslike. And stop […]