Have you ever noticed that some of the same freelance writers are published in your favorite magazine issue after issue? Have you ever asked yourself why these writers get repeat gigs? Do you ever wonder what it would take for you to be one of these writers?
Writers who are hired to write more articles for the same publication do three things that most freelance writers don’t. They study the market, develop relationships, and over deliver.
1 They study the market
Successful freelance writers carefully study each magazine they want to write for, so they can pitch articles relevant to the magazine’s readership. They understand that by getting to know the magazine’s readers and the types of articles the magazine publishes, they have a better chance of being hired to write for that magazine. They also know that after the editor purchases an article from them, they will have a chance at repeat business from that editor.
Study the last six issues or more of a monthly magazine and the last 12 issues of a quarterly magazine. This will give you a strong knowledge of reader demographics and the types of articles the magazine has recently published. From this, you will know what to pitch and what not to pitch.
2 They develop relationships
The successful freelance writers I know each make it a point to develop an ongoing relationship with each editor they write for. It’s a lot easier to nurture an ongoing relationship than it is to recruit new clients every month. These relationships will serve you well by helping you get multiple writing gigs from the same publications. As a result, you will build a strong client base, so you aren’t in a constant panic to find more work each time you complete an assignment.
Also, in spite of the proliferation of both online and hard copy publishers, the publishing community is still small and editors talk with one another. You never know when an editor may recommend you to another editor. Or an editor may quit one magazine and go to work for another. If you’re one of her favorite writers, she may ask you to come along with her.
3 They over deliver
If you’re writing an article and you can easily add value with a sidebar, graph, or list, go ahead and do it. The key is if you can “easily” create the sidebar, graph, or list. This is a freebie that you’re providing, so it should only take you a few minutes, not hours, to put together. Your editor may not have the space to use it, however, she will remember that you took the time to provide more information.
On several assignments when I’ve tossed in a sidebar or list, my editors have told me that it made their job easier because they needed to fill an empty space on the page and the item I provided fit.
When you do these three things, editors you work with may even seek you out when they’re in a bind and ask you to write a specific article for their readers, which will increase your income.
Note: Due to a weird glitch in the page layout of this WordPress theme, the comments box only appears on some pages. If you want to leave a comment and don’t see a comments section below, please click here to go to the comments page. I look forward to hearing from you!
In The Writing Life, Part 4—Finding Clients, I covered how to find clients using cold calls, warm calls, and serendipity. In this post, I’ll cover how to find them using public speaking gigs, published articles, and networking. This is the 5th and final post in a 5-part series.
Although there are probably as many ways to find clients as there are writers, these next three are quite popular with writers who are outgoing and find it easy to talk with people:
Public Speaking Gigs
Make it a point to accept and even look for opportunities to speak in public. Local writer’s groups, seminars, conferences, chambers of commerce, and other organizations often need speakers for their meetings.
These are opportunities that provide you with exposure to a wide variety of people in many walks of life. You never know when you may get a new client just because they or someone they know heard you speak. At the very least, you may find fodder for your next article or book.
I’ve gotten several clients as a result of articles and columns I’ve written that were published in newspapers and magazines. Oftentimes a person reading an article may be looking for someone with your specific expertise or they may know someone who is. The enterprising readers will call the publication or contact you directly if the publication includes your contact information in your byline or bio.
Joining local groups and organizations may provide you with networking contacts in fields you are interested in working in. Now, I don’t mean, join an organization only with the intention of finding work.
I mean join an organization that you are interested in and participate in it as an active member. Other members will see you in action and appreciate your contributions. That type of networking is a soft-sell form of selling and usually results in the highest yields of client leads. Furthermore, it often results in potential clients approaching you, so there’s no selling on your part at all.
This is the final post in this 5-part series about The Writing Life. To read this series from the beginning, click here. I would love to hear your thoughts about life as a freelancer. What in this series helped you? What else do you want to know about freelancing? Please leave a comment here.
You have a meeting with a potential client and you’re excited. The phone is finally beginning to ring and your business is taking off. Congratulations!
After the euphoria subsides and you slowly float to earth, the anxiety sets in and you begin to worry about what to do, what to say, and how to make sure he hires you and not some other freelancer.
Here are 3 Do’s and Don’ts to help you make a great first impression and turn this potential client into a paying client.
2. Observe the proprieties.
Make eye contact, smile, and shake hands firmly. Okay, that’s three packaged as one because you do them simultaneously when you first meet someone.
3. Arrive prepared.
Arrive prepared to sign this client at this meeting. Make sure you have the following items with you: your business cards, marketing brochures, laptop, portfolio, and two copies of your contract (one for you and one for your client, so you both have a signed copy).
2. Do not answer your cell phone.
Better yet, turn it off as you enter the meeting. When I am in meetings with clients or potential clients, and even when I visit with friends, I turn off my cell phone, so I can give them my undivided attention. When I first enter a business meeting of any type, I usually take out my cell phone and casually say, “Let me turn off my cell phone, so we’re not interrupted.” This subtly indicates that I think they are special because they deserve my undivided attention. It also acts as a prompt for them to shut off or silence their cell phones, as well.
3. Do not lie.
When you lie about your experience or on your resume, you will inevitably get caught because the publications community is a small one and people talk to each other.
Use these three Do’s at every meeting you attend, avoid the 3 Don’ts, and you will be on your way to impressing potential clients right into hiring you on the spot.
Do you have a favorite Do or Don’t for meetings with potential clients? I invite you to share it with us.
Write On With Confidence!
The Writers Inkwell Muse
Imagine my surprise when I opened the unexpected package and learned that I’d won an amazing book, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.
It was sunny, warm, and beautiful, and I had a clear schedule, so I took the book outside, intending to read it from cover to cover. Instead, I found myself savoring every word as I realized that this is a book to read and study, so that its lessons can be learned and applied.
That was Thursday. Today, I want to share with you what I learned in the Introduction and Chapter One, “Create a Unique Business Model.” As most Deadheads know, and as the book’s authors write, the Grateful Dead turned the music industry’s “business model on its ear.”
Instead of doing concert tours to promote record album sales like other bands did, the Grateful Dead focused on earning their income from live concerts where they created an experience for their fans that was unlike that of any other music band at the time or since.
Instead of playing the same songs in the same sequence at each concert, each show, and I’m quoting the book directly here, “had a unique set of songs, and each song was played in a unique way.”
This is part of the reason fans were drawn to attend each show. It is also why some of the Grateful Dead’s fans, known as Deadheads, made a career of following the band and attending their concerts wherever they played.
Another thing the Grateful Dead did differently from other bands was they allowed their fans to tape and even film their concerts. The band was unconcerned about “losing control” of their music and, in fact, encouraged their fans to exchange their recordings. The Dead even set up an area at each concert where fans who were recording the concert would get the best sound.
By creating this unique business model that was unlike what any other band at that time was doing, the Grateful Dead created a multimillion dollar music empire and their fans were their biggest promoters.
How can you, as a freelance writer, use the Grateful Dead’s unique business model to take your business to the next level?
Businesses that stand out from their competition are few and far between. The book’s authors suggest that you ask yourself what you do better than your competition, then find a way to use that to position your business as the one with the solution to your customer’s problems.
As I read each chapter, I will report back to you, my readers, and we’ll discuss how you can use these marketing gems to help catapult your freelance writing business to success.