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!
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By Joe Dyton
I made a decision today.
I’m not longer going to write on spec, take “writing tests, etc. Well, at least not for free. As I mentioned recently, I applied for a writing gig with a website that wanted to me to write three (!) sample articles to see if I was a good fit. I wrote those articles, the site used them and I never heard back that site. Another one wanted me to write a 650 to 1,000 word article (unpaid) to see if I was a good fit; at first I was going to do it, but eventually declined.
It wasn’t until Saturday that I started to think about giving up on writing on spec forever though. I spent part of my Friday night applying for writing gigs (exciting way to start the weekend, I know). I woke up on Saturday morning to see I had a response to one of my applications already. Wouldn’t you know the response was practically a word-for-word replica of the email I got the week prior that asked me for three (!) sample articles about things that were currently trending. Now, this was for a completely different company/site according to JournalismJobs.com, but they must be under the same umbrella. I mean everything was the same except who was sending the email and what the articles didn’t have to be about. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was tempted to send links to the three sample articles I had already written as a reply, but I thought that would have been a little petty.
Instead, I just decided that I just wasn’t going to this anymore. I have been writing for 15 years and have had articles published in newspapers and magazines. I have spent the last seven years as a marketing copywriter for one of the largest auto insurance companies in the country and have written content for several websites. I feel like my work speaks for itself and if it doesn’t show if I’d be a “good fit” for a company, then I guess I’ll have to find work elsewhere.
Will this decision cost me work down the road? Probably. But, I have to take a leap of faith that there will be plenty of magazines, websites and companies that will be willing to hire me based on what I’ve already written. I’m doing a lot to build a freelance writing business, and I just don’t know if I have the time to work on articles that I won’t get paid for and/or will go unpublished.
Am I crazy for making this decision? Sound off in the comments section!
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