Tagged: The Aspiring Freelancer

Writer’s Log #20: Making Time

By Joe Dyton

Ugh, I’m so embarrassed by how long it’s been since I’ve written a new post. I guess if there’s a positive to my lack of blog posts is that the reason is I’ve been busy writing. I have a pair of steady freelance gigs that have kept me busy when I get home from my day job. Between the 9 to 5 and my freelance writing, I just haven’t had the time to blog like I had hoped.

Unfortunately, the other thing my writing schedule as cut down on is my marketing. I’ve dedicated so much time to working on articles when I get home at night, I have been unable to send out Letters of Interest and resumes at the rate I had been before I started getting work. The thing is, I need to be doing that. Right now, the two steady gigs I have make for a nice supplement to my full-time salary. However, I want my freelance income to get to the point that it could support me on a full-time basis if need be. I know that won’t happen unless I start knocking on doors again and asking for work. As much as I would like it to be the case, work isn’t just going to fall into my lap.

So for the past couple of months, I’ve just chalked up my lack of blogging and marketing to, “I’m too busy working, I don’t have time for anything else.” Well, today, I decided that’s no longer a valid excuse. I need to carve out time each night to putting more posts on the blog and marketing my writing services. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the full-time job/freelance writing/marketing/blogging quagmire. 

I’d love to open this up to you, my readers. If you’re a full-time employee and a freelance writer, or if you were a full-timer who wrote on the side and now freelance full-time, how do you/did you make time for your job, freelance work and to continue marketing? After a full day’s work, how did you get up the energy to get back in front of a computer and start writing all over again? Did you ever take vacation days from your day job to catch up on freelance writing? Please leave any tips, suggestions, stories in the comments section below!

I also wanted to pose another question. I interview people who work at various companies for a lot of the articles I write. I’m not only a freelance journalist, but I’m a freelance copywriter, too. Is it in bad taste to ask sources for my articles about doing writing for their companies? Any insight on this would be much appreciated!

Thank you for reading. It’s been far too long since I’ve done this and it feels great to be back. From now on, I’m going to make time to post here, even if I don’t have it.

The Links:

Gideon Thomas shares how he turned his writing hobby into a career.

Allison VanNest offers a few tips on how to land more freelance writing jobs as a beginner.

Kirsty Stuart has seven reasons freelance writing clients aren’t hiring you.

Christopher Cuna gives you self-motivation tricks to bring your business to a reality.

Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, DC. He may be reached at dytonwande@gmail.com.


Writer’s Log #19: Better Late Than Never

By Joe Dyton

Happy Friday, everybody! Well, I’m a little more than two months into my quest to be a freelance writer, which means I was hoping to have at least one steady client by now. For those who are reading this blog for the first time, I set a goal of obtaining at least six steady clients this year, preferably at a pace of one every two months.

By time February 28 had rolled around. I still hadn’t gotten a new client, at least one that was desirable. I had a few offers, but either the pay was too low or the pay structure wasn’t desirable. I was tempted to just fold up my tent and forget about this freelance dream; two months of making phone calls and sending out emails, letters of introduction and resumes, and I had nothing to show for it. Then I reminded myself that a) no said this was going to be easy and b) I committed to this quest for a year, there was no backing out of it now. 

So, on this last day of February I was standing in line at a burger place waiting to order my lunch when my phone buzzes. I had email from my freelance writing email account. It was from a magazine that I had reached out to recently; one of their managing editors liked my work and said they could use a few more freelance writers. Everything about the situation was perfect; the pay rate is pretty good, they help secure my sources and set up the story angle and the turnaround time for stories is about two to three weeks. I’ve been assigned two trial assignments to see how it goes, but I’m confident I can deliver two good stories and make this a regular gig. I was just happy to hear they’re going to pay me for the trial articles (which will be published, too). As you may remember, I decided not to write on spec anymore.

It may have taken me the last day of my deadline, but I was able to bring in a desirable client. It’s funny how quickly one’s attitude could change with one email. Just minutes before, I was considering calling it quits, and now I can’t wait to market away these next two months and see if I can land another client or two.

The Links:

Lori Widmer shares what she’s learned from a freelance writing career.

Onibalusi Bamidele lists 30 websites that will pay you to contribute articles.

Alexis Grant explains what it really takes to grow a side gig.

Heather Lloyd-Martin offers seven tips for sales call success.

Shahzad asks eight successful freelance bloggers how they got started.

Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, DC. He may be reached at dytonwande@gmail.com.

Writer’s Log #18, Taking it Up a Notch

By Joe Dyton

Well, hello! I couldn’t believe I’d let a week go by since my last post. That’s inexcusable to be honest. It’s not like I was away the last week or anything. Actually, most of my free time was spent tethered to my laptop as my girlfriend puts it. So, I definitely could have put up a couple of posts. The fact of the matter is I had spent most of my free time looking for companies to email about my writing services. At least my non-blogging time was spent looking for work, but I know I need to be more diligent documenting my quest to become a freelance writer here.

As for the title of the post, it’s what I realized I need to with my marketing if I want to get a good amount of work. I mean, I knew this before; the more I reach out to businesses, publications, etc., the more I increase my odds of landing gigs. I got a good reminder of this equation last week when I read this great post published by Yuwanda Black about an SEO writer who had a $1,000 day and already has $10,000 in work lined up for the year. The whole story was impressive, but one sentence really jumped out at me, “…up your marketing efforts. For example, if you’re used to sending out 50 emails and landing at least a couple of jobs, you may have to send out 150 to land the same number when times are slow.”

After I read that, I knew I had to step up my marketing efforts. I’ve been trying to get away with sending 10 to 15 emails out a day. That’s not bad if I had steady work, but since I’m still trying to build a client base, I probably should be aiming for 20 to 30 emails and/or calls a day. I got exhausted just writing that last sentence, but if I’m getting limited replies from what I’m doing now, I don’t see another option but to “take it up a notch.”

This isn’t to say, I’m getting no feedback. I got a very positive response the other day from a marketing firm who said it’s always looking for good writers. Someone from the firm sent me their general pricing guide to show what they charge customers and most of their rates were in line with what I’d charge someone for certain projects. Other rates were more than I currently charge. I am excited to hear back from them.

I got a couple other offers to write from sites. One was the sports blog I mentioned in my last post. I have a feeling I’m going to pass on that one; apparently my pay would be based how much ad revenue my post generates. I understand that if I work really hard and come up with stories that could bring in a lot of traffic, I could make out alright. My concern is what if i do all of this research, and submit a week’s worth of stories (the site requests at least seven posts a week during the season the team I’m covering is currently playing) and they don’t generate hardly any revenue? The earning potential could be great, but it could also be bad, and the latter concerns me. I’d much rather write for a moderate, flat per-post fee to be honest.

The other offer would give me that, but the pay isn’t great; $20 for a 500-word post, with the potential to get bumped up to $40. I have this some consideration; I thought it might be good to have a position like this in my back pocket where I could write when I feel up to it and make a little extra cash here and there. Then I read this story by Kristen Hicks about why us freelancers owe it to one another to start charging more. It was an insightful article that did a great job explaining how we can all benefit from helping businesses understand what our services are truly worth. I don’t think I’d be helping the cause by pumping out $20 500-word articles.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion though. If you think I’m crazy for turning away any kind of work, please tell me so in the comments section! I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

Thanks for reading!



I downloaded Sophie Lizard’s (FREE!) “The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs”. I can’t wait to read through it.

Jenn Mattern breaks down two freelance writing niches: Profits vs. Passion.

Shawndra Russell reveals the Table of Contents to her book, “How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days”.

John Soares can help you get more freelance gigs for more money.

Jessica Leigh Brown explains how she landed two writing clients and $1,000 in just seven emails.

Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance copywriter and journalist in Washington, DC and co-host of The GD Podcast with Mike Grant & Joe Dyton. He may be reached at dytonwande@gmail.com.


Writer’s Log #17: Can Beggars be Choosers?

By Joe Dyton

It’s been a week or so since I started using my new Letter of Introduction and the replies have begun to trickle into my inbox. A few have been along the lines of “All of Company X’s writing is done in-house” or “We don’t have a need right now, but let’s keep in touch.” I see plenty of those on a daily basis, but this past week, I got two responses that were a little more interesting.

The first response ties into the title of this post, “Can Beggars Be Choosers?”. I heard back from a sports blog, and I was excited about the opportunity. Sports is one of my favorite topics to write about, along with pop culture. After showing them a few of my writing samples, I was offered the opportunity to cover one of my favorite sports teams for the site. Getting paid to write about sports has been my dream since I was a freshman in college, so this seemed like an ideal situation. But, as I read more about how I’d be compensated, it sounded like my pay would be based more on how much traffic my posts generate as opposed to a per post fee. I emailed the editor of the site about how exactly their pay structure worked, and am currently awaiting his reply.

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you know my goal is to land at least six steady clients by the end of 2014. I currently have two prior to starting The Aspiring Freelancer. So with a big, fat “0” is still staring me in face as far as new clients go, should I even be questioning this site’s pay structure? Should I just accept the gig and see how it goes so I can get that “0” off of the board? Personally, I feel my time would be better spent searching for a client that pays a straight-up, decent wage than writing for an unknown, and possibly small income. I know how tough getting that first client can be however, so I ask you more experienced freelance writers out there, do you take any client on at first, or use your time to land the best ones possible? Sound off in the comments section below.

The other response of interest is one I’ve gotten a couple of times in the past when I look for freelance work; a company asks if I’d be interested in a full-time gig. This happened again this week; I saw a high-end sports apparel retailer was looking for a copywriter, so I reached out asking if they had a need for freelance writers. I got a reply back saying my experience and background were of interest and the retailer asked if I was up for discussing the opening it had. Going in, I knew I wasn’t interested in another full-time job unless the salary was out of this world. After talking with one of their reps, it wasn’t a good match; from a full-time prospective anyway. I didn’t have enough writing experience in the areas they were looking for (product writing, social media), and as a start-up, they were looking for someone to put in more hours than I was willing to give. I did let them know if they could use an extra writer, to please keep me in mind. So, we’ll how that goes.

Overall, it looks like new letter is getting a half-decent amount of responses. I’ll keep sending it out (and maybe try a few other variations) and see what happens. 

Thanks for reading!

The Links:

Joel Runyon offers up suggestions on how to become uber-productive when working for yourself. 

Alexa Mason has tips for preparing for the instability of a freelance life.

Speaking of landing a first freelance writing gig, Tow Ewer explains how he got his.

Lauren R. Tharp explains how NOT to treat a fellow freelancer writer.

Koty Neelis lists six mindsets you have to dominate to become a freelance writer.

Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, DC. He may be reached at dytonwande@gmail.com.

Writer’s Log #16: The Waiting Game

By Joe Dyton

This weekend, I spent a lot of time marketing my freelance writing services with the new LOI I created earlier this week. I’ve sent it out to 40 different publications and companies over the past few days. Unfortunately, most of these were sent out during the weekend, so it won’t be until Monday morning until they’re seen and I’ll find out if they’re any more effective than my old one. Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I have a good feeling the response rate is going to improve. The fact that the revised LOI touches on what I can do for a company should be better-received than an email that just states what I’ve done in the past. That’s what I keep telling myself at least!

I started sending out my new letter to various companies I searched via Google; mostly communications and marketing firms. The last two days though, I reached out to companies I saw listed on MediaBistro. My hope when I hit up companies with listings on job boards is that they could use a part-time/freelance writer like myself to help plug a hole until they find a full-time replacement.

One problem I run into when I reach out to companies though is not all of them have staff contact information on their websites. When that happens, I’m stuck sending my LOI and resume to “info@”, “careers@”, “hr@”, etc., and cross my fingers it gets forwarded to someone who will review it. So, that’s the question I’d like to pose to you, the readers. Have you had success submitting an LOI into the abyss that an “info@” email address presents? If you go to company’s website, and there isn’t an email address to an actual person there, do you call them rather than email? Sound off in the comments section!

The Links:

Carol Tice tells how she wrote a $2,000 freelance article in one week.

Emily Suess offers great advice on how to build your freelance writing career.

Johanna Payton and Olivia Gordon will show you how to build a successful freelance writing business with their journalism course.

Rachel Gall has advice to help you get over those freelance jitters.

Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, DC. He may be reached at dyton@wande@gmail.com.

Writer’s Log #15: Changing It Up

By Joe Dyton

“Insanity: doing the same over and over again and expecting different results.”–Albert Einstein

I thought about Einstein’s quote recently. I have been reaching out to companies and publications looking for freelance work since the start of 2014. Over the last six weeks, I’ve sent out the same letter of introduction along with my resume. I haven’t landed any clients with that letter; just a few “We’ll keep your info on file” or “We don’t use freelancers” type of responses. And unfortunately, a lot of non-responses. Those are the worst. 

After all of this time with no results, I thought it might be time to change things up a bit. I looked at my current LOI, and realized it was just asking companies if they were looking for freelancers and then listing my experience. I didn’t spell out what I could do for a company if it hired me. So, I went back to the drawing board. I kept my intro about the same, but rather than just list what I’ve done, I listed what I could do for my potential clients. I kicked myself for not thinking of this sooner. I mean part of my day job is writing direct mail letters, which mostly explains how a product will benefit the reader. That’s exactly how my LOI reads now.

I don’t know if the new letter will trigger more responses, but it’s worth a shot. It would have been insane to keep sending out the same letter and expecting a different result. At least according to Einstein.

The Links:

Angela Booth lists four things you can do to increase your freelance writing income.

Jennifer Mattern presents 20 things you can do to market your freelance writing services.

Heather Llyod-Martin offers suggestions for anyone who has ever thought about closing down their freelance writing business.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders explains how to delegate when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, DC. He may be reached at dytonwande@gmail.com.


Writer’s Log #14: Month in Review

By Joe Dyton

Well, today is the final day of January so I just wanted to do a state of union-type post. To be honest, January wasn’t so great in terms building my writing business. I landed zero new clients; I know my goal was to get at least one new client every two months so I have all of February to still get one, but I would have felt a lot better if someone had hired me. Unfortunately, I all I got were responses like, “We don’t have a need right now, but we’ll keep your info on file.” to flat out, “We don’t use freelance writers.” It was a frustrating month for sure. I almost gave up on all of this, but that’s what I’ve done in the past; go hard with my marketing, get nothing out of it and stop for awhile. I promised myself I wasn’t going to do that again. So, I read Jon Morrow’s inspiring open letter again and got back to work. I’m going to stick with this all year, even if I don’t land one new client.

I looked back at my marketing efforts from this month and realized I don’t have a right to be as frustrated as I am. I sent out about 60 resumes/letter of introduction. It felt like a lot, but it’s only about two a day. That’s not going to cut it if I want to get at least one client every two months. I’m thinking I need to reach out to at least five times as many companies, publications, organizations, etc. to increase my chances of getting work.

Like I said, it was a frustrating month but I’m going to keep at it. The Aspiring Freelancer blog isn’t going anywhere. I’d still love to get your feedback; what do you think is best way to search for clients? Is there a magic number when it comes to how many people you should be marketing to a day/week/month? Are there any indicators that it’s time for an aspiring freelance writer to throw in the towel?

Thanks for reading this month. I wrote about every other day in January, but I hope to increase that frequency next month and beyond. Have a great weekend!

The Links: 

Harleena Singh gives a step-by-step breakdown on how to get magazine writing jobs.

Jodee Redmond lists 17 places freelance writers can find magazine markets.

Sara Donaldson shares 10 things you should know before you turn freelance.

Allen Taylor explains how he found four freelance writing gigs from job ads.

Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance copywriter and journalist in Washington, DC. He may be reached at dytonwande@gmail.com.