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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Joe Dyton
Well, it’s been a few days since I’ve put up a post, so I thought I’d just do an overview of what I’ve been up to since my Hard Day’s Nights.
A lot of my quest to build my own writing business is spent marketing my services either through email, phone calls or snail mail. However, I’ve also spent a lot of time educating myself on what it takes to be a freelance writer. Over the last few months I’ve been reading The Freelancer’s Bible by Freelancers Union Sara Horowitz. This has been a great guide on all things freelance; how to look for clients, manage your business, get insurance, etc. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m also currently reading “How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days” by Shawndra Russell. This book has been good for teaching me new things about becoming a freelance writer, but also refreshing my memory on others.
The last couple of days, I finally cracked open Tom Ewer’s “Successful Freelance Writing Online”. I had downloaded a few months ago, but hadn’t gotten a chance to read it until now. I’m about halfway through and I like how Ewer not only explains how to find clients, but also how to write solid blog posts.
Trust me, there’s a reason I’m rattling off my reading list. As you may remember, I recently had to write three (!) trial articles for this freelance web writing job I applied for. My articles were due last Friday, and I haven’t heard back from them yet, so I have to assume I didn’t get the gig. Anyway, after I started to read Ewer’s book, I realized there were some ways I could have made those trial articles stand out a little bit more. I could have come up with catchier headlines and rather than writing in standard paragraph form, I could have done a “5 Things You Need To Know About…” format. These are things I know already, but sometimes reading them reinforces it.
The point of all this is I think it’s important to never stop learning about this craft. As we get more experienced and get more and more work, it’s easy to think we know it all. I’ve been writing since 1999 and I know there are still things I can learn. I know it’s cliche that a great way to become a better writer is to read, but it’s true. I was reminded of that this week.
Horowitz presents The Freelancers Pyramid of Self-Acualization. What kind of freelancer are you?
David Geer explains how to approach each month to make more money writing.
Heather Lloyd-Martin offers 10 tips to keep you from writing for peanuts.
Kristen Fischer has four tips for wannabe freelance writers.
Joe Dyton (@dyton99) is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, DC. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Joe Dyton
Well, I rang in the New Year with a cold, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from putting up a post today. As I wrote yesterday, my aim is to write a post every day (fingers crossed) to chronicle what I did to help get my freelance business started. Today, I got back into the swing of reaching out to potential clients. This has always been the thing that’s kept me from going full steam ahead with pursuing this venture. I call, email or snail mail companies and the best response I’ll get is “Thanks for reaching out; we’ll keep your information on file if the need should arise”, and then I’ll never hear from them again. After a few weeks of that, I see my marketing efforts slow down.
I’ve read several (good) books about freelance writing and how to go about finding clients, but I never seem to find the success that the authors had even as I follow their steps. The books make it seem so easy; I always think about that scene in “Swingers” when Jon Favreau’s character who’s a New York-based comic now living in LA says, “They make it seem like they’re handing out (TV) pilots at the airport.” I understand what he’s talking about; the books make it seem like if I stick with it, the clients will come. But, the clients don’t. So, this year, I’m going to see my marketing all the way through; no more getting frustrated and giving up. My goal is to reach out to 10 to 20 potential clients each day. I am a journalist and a marketing copywriter, so I will be reaching out to publications as well as corporations. In the past, my strategy is go to on job boards and search for companies that are looking for writers and send them my resume and let them know I’m available on a freelance basis. I’ll still do that this year, but I also want to look up companies that aren’t on job boards. We’ll see how it goes.
That’s what I did today; I emailed five commercial real estate companies (I used to work for a commercial real estate magazine) and three design firms and let them know I’m a freelance writer looking for work. It’s a little below the number of companies I want to reach each day, but I’ll step it up going forward. I’ll have to if I want to hit my goal of at landing at least six steady clients by the end of the year. Let the games begin!
Tom Ewer offers tips on how to make sure your New Year’s resolution doesn’t fail.
Jennifer Mattern offers up 20 Blog Revenue Streams.
Jennifer Gregory shows you how to set your income goal for 2014.
Today I emailed potential clients; I may try calling some tomorrow and send some snail mail over the weekend. How do you like to reach out to clients? Do you have a recommended number of people to reach out to each day? Comment below!
Joe Dyton is a freelance journalist and marketing writer in Washington, DC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter; @dyton99.