How Important is “Exposure”?

How Important is “Exposure”?

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, writing

What is it and how to (& not to) get it.

Merriam Webster defines exposure as “ the condition of being presented to view or made known” and “the condition of being subject to some effect or influence,”along with a couple other definitions.

Practically speaking, as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you need exposure.

It’s a fact of business.

People need to know you exist in order to buy your product or services.

How Can You Get Exposure?

There are many different ways to get exposure, like having a column in a major publication, but like Nicolas Cole learned, it may not be the best way (he shares some great insights in this article). You can start a blog, pay for ads, do work for free (but you shouldn’t!), you can pay social media influencers to feature you, you can use PR tactics like pitching to media outlets, and more.

You can become a top writer on Medium and Quora (I’mcurrently both), though those don’t necessarily mean more exposure, they certainly have the potential to do so.

You can also just be marketing yourself to individual clients and focus on building up your client base.

What Works Best?

That one is a bit harder. What works best for me — using social media to find clients and then selling myself on the phone — may not work best for you.

Most people and companies find that a combination of several tactics is best for them.

You have to figure out what works by judging cost versus benefit. Whether it’s costing you money or your time, it is costing you something.

If you boosted a Facebook ad or sponsored an Instagram ad, look at the stats and results. Did you get any new clients from it? Or inquiries? Did any more people subscribe to your mailing list or buy your book?

Testing different ideas is a great way to see what works for you with minimal risks. Don’t spend $200 on your first ad, start small and figure out your audience and then move up.

You Still Have to Pay the Bills!

Be careful not to do too much for the elusive “exposure.”

There are websitescomicstwitter accounts, and more showing just how often freelancers and craftspeople are asked to do things for free or “for the exposure.”

There are very few times when the exposure they are offering is actually going to be worth your time and energy. Amy Morinwrote a piece for Inc on this exact topic.

You can’t pay your rent/mortgage with exposure. Be very careful not to just do a bunch of free or vastly underpaid work in the HOPES it might get you some exposure. Your time will be far better spent looking for actual paying clients.

I found clients even when I had zero professional writing experience, using only my old personal blog as writing samples, simply by approaching people and asking if they would be interested in any writing or editing services.

Make your OWN exposure. Value your work and yourself very highly!

Of courses there are exceptions!

I am NOT saying to not do anything for free ever in your life! I am talking specifically in the context of potential clients and paid work. For example, there may be a charitable organization you choose to volunteer your time and skills for — of course, that’s wonderful and is also your own choice.

You also may find yourself in a HuffPost situation.

About a year before I ever even thought about looking for clients and being a paid writer, I started contributing to HuffPost for free. I loved it, it was something I chose to do knowing there was no payment. However, when I weighed the benefits I’d get (major publication byline, the marketability, write what I want) against the cost (my time), it made sense to me.

So of course, find what works best FOR YOU and don’t just trust every stranger on the internet!

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Join my mailing list for more info (not spam!) or check out my story and freelancing guide, “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” with tons of practical info packed into a short book!

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How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

You are allowed to say no to work you don’t want to do.

When I first started my business, I said yes to everything. You need a press release? Sure! You want help with a sales strategy? Of course! Oh, you need me to design the information architecture for your new website? Why not!

I didn’t know how to do half the things I said yes to. But I kept saying yes.

I learned. I researched and figured it out, and the clients had no idea it was the first time. Confidence comes in handy!

Remember, being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything, being an expert means knowing that you DON’T know something are are not afraid to go find the answer. Being an expert is knowing how to find those answers.

I said yes to everything because I was at the very beginning of building my business. I didn’t have any long-term clients yet, and I was doing what I could to make money but was not completely sure what direction my business would eventually take. I also thought I needed to say yes to everything so that I could make money!

In fact, looking back now, there is no way I could have predicted where I would be now, over a year and a half later. My business has evolved, I have cultivated relationships and have clients I adore, and my focus has shifted significantly from where I started.

And saying yes to everything helped with that! I was able to try new things and discover I was good at them and enjoyed doing them. I was able to come to the realization that some things were not what I wanted to spend my time on and focus on. I recently wrote about what I learned in my first year freelancing, and it has been amazing to see the growth.

I’ve spoken before about how what happens when you’re working on things you don’t want to do, and how to break up with clients. This was something I had to learn.

I was telling my husband about how one of my clients paid well but was really pushing me into working entirely on sales and marketing projects. Things I really was not wanting to spend so much time on. But the money was good and I felt like I couldn’t turn away guaranteed income.

He looked me in the eye and said, “Isn’t the biggest perk of being an entrepreneur getting to do the work you want?”

It was like a light bulb turned on in my head. Of course, it is. That is why I became an entrepreneur in the first place!

The next day, I spoke with that client and broke up with them. It was the best decision for me and opened me up to other new possibilities.

As I continue to re-frame and evolve my business and discover new things I love to do, I am finally saying no to work. I still often say yes to interesting new things that I want to learn, but I have given myself permission to turn down paying work that I don’t want to do.

I am making really good money now, and am in a position where I am able to be aligning everything with what I WANT to be doing. I don’t need to take low-paying projects to make ends meet anymore, and I don’t want to.

When a prospective client says to me, “Well that is too much money for this.” Instead of negotiating like I did at the beginning, I simply say, “Ok, what is your budget?” And if there is no compromise to be made (less work to fit within their budget) then I walk away.

You are allowed to say no to doing things that do not fit your business model.

You are allowed to say no to someone who wants to pay you far less than what you are worth.

You are allowed to say to people you don’t want to work with — for any reason! You allowed to choose who you do and DO NOT want to work with. If someone treats you badly, or yells at you, or does not appreciate you, guess what? You have the power and authority to hop on the Nope Train and not work with them.

As my business continues to evolve, I am able to continuously find new and interesting ways to stretch my talent and grow as a person and as a business owner.

Most importantly, I continue to find things I love to do, say no to things I don’t want to do, and work with amazing people.

This allows me to also be able to work on passion projects like writing and publishing my first book 6 months ago or putting together my second book, where I have been able to put together an anthology based on the #metoo movement.

Allowing myself more space in my business to do the work I want and the projects I love has been perfect for me and allows me to continue to be creative while also continuing to grow my business.

How did you learn to say no to work? Has this been beneficial to you and your business? If you have never said no to working with someone or on something — why not?

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Some Freelancers Pitch to Publications, I Pitch to People

Some Freelancers Pitch to Publications, I Pitch to People

JS

Grinding It Out versus Growing A Business

There were two separate stories about pitches on my main Medium feed this morning. One about pitching to journalists and writers about THEIR clients for publicity purposes and the other one was about pitching your article to online publications.

They both had some excellent points — keep it about the person you’re pitching to. How does it benefit them? Don’t get bogged down in filler words and useless information. Provide a draft/additional information if needed.

But the pitch article I see missing is the one for full-time writers and editors who don’t want to do one-by-one blogs and articles.

I decided at the very beginning of my writing career that I was not going to spend the bulk of my time trying to get individual articles into major publications.

The main reason for me is the time and effort required versus the results or money.

When you look at people who talk about the money they make pitching individual original pieces to Forbes, Business Insider, Inc, etc, they are often making very little money — or even doing it for free for exposure.

Now, the exposure is awesome, and when I happen to have a perfectly well-suited article, I sometimes take 5 minutes to email a pitch to a magazine.

But the grind of putting out separate individual pieces in the HOPES that one of them will take it, and if they do, then waiting 4–8 weeks for publication and even longer for potential payment is not something I want to do.

That is just me, personally.

There are a million lists online of websites who pay for articles. Here is one from Carol Ticeanother from Bamidele Onibalusi, a long one on Freelance Writing Gigs, one from the Penny Hoarder, and this one by David Trounce.

This is not a BAD way to go about making money. Clearly, there are plenty of websites willing to pay for articles.

But let’s break it down:

If each site pays on average $50 per article and you want to make $5000 per month (a $60,000 annual salary), you need to write, pitch, get accepted, and get paid for 100 articles each month.

If you only want to work Monday through Friday, that is 5 articles per day you need to research, write, find publications if you don’t have one in mind, and pitch. This does not include following up on payment or the ones who don’t pay until it has been up for a month, or any other restrictions.

In contrast, I made $8,000 last month with 6 clients.

Instead of pitching myself to individual publications or writing one article per website, I went directly to clients.

I pitched myself to small companies and entrepreneurs. Right now, my 6 clients are:

  • An online publisher (monthly blogging, book editing)
  • An entrepreneur and business coach (email marketing, web copy)
  • A global public speaker (monthly blogging, email marketing)
  • A startup technology company (blogging, managing blog)
  • A medicinal cannabis business (weekly blogging, managing blog)
  • A small digital marketing agency (weekly blogging, press releases)

As they come and if I have time, I also take on editing books, ghostwriting, and book coaching.

I work Monday through Friday and only on the weekends if I have a special project or major deadline coming up.

All of my clients are longer-term. We have contracts, I charge one monthly retainer, and they pay every month. I have built a relationship with these clients, meaning we work together even better over time, they rely on me and trust me, and I know what they need on an ongoing basis.

For me, this is a reliable, more stable income, without having to grind out a bunch of articles every day.

It also means I can really build a rapport with these people. By doing so and focusing on maintaining a real relationship, it has resulted in all of my current clients being referrals from previous ones.

This is how I have built my freelance writing into a business. A real, thriving, stable business built on clients, not pitches to individual publications.

Now, this is simply what worked best FOR ME. I am under no illusion that my way is the only way or even the best way. It’s just what works for me and MY business and my life.

What have you found works best for you? Is it all one or the other, a mix of both, something I didn’t even mention? I’d love to hear and learn from you!

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8 Lessons I Learned in My First Year of Freelancing

8 Lessons I Learned in My First Year of Freelancing

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, Sales & Marketing, writing

I got my first freelancing clients almost on a whim, on October 31st, 2016. I began working with clients in the evenings and weekends for November, December, and January.

Once I realized that being a writer was a viable career for me and people were willing to pay me, I made plans to quit my day job as a Director of Business Development at a recruiting firm.

Friday, January 27, 2017 was my last full-time day at my day job.

I was a freelancer.

Though I did a lot of research and asked many questions, I had a lot to learn. Now that I am at a year of freelancing, here are some things I have learned. Use this and make new mistakes and learn new lessons, instead of the ones I’ve made for you.

1. If someone is willing to pay you, then you are skilled enough.

When it comes to freelancing, especially something as subjective as writing, many potential freelancers question their abilities and whether or not their writing is “good enough” for them to be a writer as a full-time career.

Instead of trying to find a way to judge your writing, use your clients as a barometer. If people look at your writing samples and are willing to pay you, then you are definitely good enough.

Pack away the insecurity and focus on improving and on the work for your clients. There is no point in questioning yourself so much, and that insecurity can lead you to not marketing yourself or not having the confidence to attract new clients.

2. You are definitely not charging enough.

Pricing yourself is an exercise in frustration sometimes. You do tons of research on what other people are charging, you try to undercut them, but then you may find that the lower price makes it not worth your time.

As a freelancer, time is your commodity.

Whatever you’re charging, it’s too low. I have seen it time and again from freelancers, including myself, where we are charging one price, but then the actual time the project takes is more than we thought, or there is more research involved or the project is longer, and suddenly your “decent prices” are only getting you $20 an hour.

Charge more. The good clients will pay you for your skills.

And remember: Just because writing comes easily to you does not mean it should be cheap. If clients could do it themselves, they wouldn’t need to hire you. Your skill is valuable.

3. Learn to identify “bad” clients.

The clients who email you at 3 am expecting an immediate response, or who are constantly changing the specs of the project. The ones who are never happy.

The ones who harass you about your prices over and over until you offer a discount.

Just say no. It’s difficult to turn away clients, especially when you are new to freelancing, but the hassle and difficulty in dealing with them and the extra time it takes for you, on top of the lower rate, will bring you down. Not only that, but they take away from the clients who would be paying your regular rate and be great to work with and appreciate you.

Here is a piece I recently wrote about how to identify the bad or negative clients before you start work.

4. Your business will continue to evolve.

When I first started freelancing, I was doing almost entirely one-off articles and blogs for clients and charging per-word prices.

A year later, I have evolved and changed the work I do as I learned more what I enjoyed and how it makes sense for me. Now, I focus on monthly retainer clients and having long-term relationships with them instead of one-time projects, have developed a book coaching service, and have been able to try things I never thought I would — like writing a comic book!

Be open to new experiences and allow yourself to evolve and grow and change as the work you enjoy evolves. Do not force yourself to stick to just one type of work. Try new things, get creative, stay interested.

5. You don’t HAVE to have a niche.

One piece of advice I saw a lot of at the beginning of freelancing was to “just pick a niche and specialize!”

I prefer significant diversity in what I work on, so instead of focusing on one industry or type of client, I chose to be a generalist. This has allowed me to have a ton of experiences and learn new things.

I have blogged for law firms, medical cannabis companies, business consultants, life coaches, real estate investors, cryptocurrency and blockchain companies, professional speakers, and more. I’ve edited fiction, nonfiction, and even a children’s book.

As a self-described jack of all trades, I have gotten to explore opportunities I would never have if I’d just stuck to sales, marketing, and career coaching, which my 10 years of corporate experience prepared me for.

Don’t be afraid to try something new and to be a generalist! It’s so much fun having a diverse client base and getting to work on something different each day!

6. Building good relationships is the backbone of my business.

I like to know my clients. Who are they? Why do they love what they do? What are they hoping to get out of the writing services?

Creating a monthly retainer business model has allowed me to have longer relationships and really get to know my clients as people.

I have weekly calls with each of my clients to manage expectations, discuss the tasks and work for the week, and stay connected.

Having been in corporate business development for so long, I deeply acknowledge and understand the strength and use of a great relationship with the people you’re selling to.

Really make a point to get to know your clients as people. Ask questions and be kind and genuine. That relationship is so important! Nurture it!

7. You don’t need a portfolio.

Portfolios are not a bad thing, you CAN have one. But you don’t NEED one to get started as a writer.

As long as you have writing samples, you are good to go. You can publish those samples on a blog or site, or you can just have them as PDFs you attach to emails.

Much of my work is ghostwritten, so even though I have tons of published blogs and articles, none of them would be able to go into a portfolio.

When I first started, I grabbed pieces from my personal blog and wrote a couple samples, and that is all I had to show. These days I direct people here to my Medium blog!

8. Just write. Get started now.

The best thing I learned through my freelancing journey so far is that you don’t need to be super prepared or have a website and business cards and a fancy briefcase.

You can just go out and find ONE client. As soon as you have one, find another.

Figure out the rest as you go. You can research contracts and build a WordPress site later. For now, go out with your writing samples and find a client. The rest will come after.

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Relationship Building for Freelancers: How to Get & Keep Clients

Relationship Building for Freelancers: How to Get & Keep Clients

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, Sales & Marketing

Apparently, most writers aren’t good at marketing and many salespeople aren’t the best at writing. Or at least that is what people keep telling me.

I am lucky enough to be both, which has been extremely successful for me. It has truly been my superpower, which allowed me to be my own boss and get my business up and running very quickly.

Relationship building is an extremely important skill. Many people who consider themselves extroverted or a ‘people person’ may also find that they are strong at job interviews and good at networking in group settings.

However, more introverted people may find themselves at a surprising advantage in the one-on-one relationships and phone calls which freelancing often requires.

95% of my work and communication is done via email, text, slack, Facebook messenger, etc. And while I am an outgoing, talkative person, this mode of communication is fast, easy, and best of all — does not require pants. But there are ways to be great at phone calls and written communication.

Phone Calls & Relationships

When it comes to winning over potential clients, I believe in the power of a great conversation.

When a prospect is asking me about pricing and information, I don’t just shove my website in their face and tra-la-la away to my next task.

I ask them for a time to jump on a phone call. Instead of giving them a straight-up price, I explain that prices depend on needs and scope of projects, and that monthly retainers are often less expensive than paying per project, per word, or per hour. I say:

“The price depends on your exact needs and can also be impacted by how long we plan to work together. Are you available this afternoon or tomorrow to jump on a short call with me? I can do 3pm EST today or 1pm-4pm tomorrow.”

What I have done here is set them up to expect individual, customized attention and pricing for their needs, and after mentioning the call, instead of leaving it open-ended, I have provided specific time frames.

People are psychologically more likely to respond to the specific timeframes than just a general request for a phone call. It also shows my professionalism. I am available right away, but at specific times. I know my schedule and keep it. I am also punctual.

Once I get them on the phone, I’m golden. I love talking to people and it shows. I smile while I talk to them, I ask and answer questions. I show them my value by giving free information. For example, if we are discussing blogging, I’ll throw out a couple of facts and statistics about SEO and content marketing. If they want book coaching, I tell them what the process looks like and give them information on general lengths of books in different genres and discuss pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing.

Another thing I do is weekly phone calls with each of my clients. It is a chance for us to check in, update them on my work and progress, and sets and manages expectations on both sides for the week ahead. It also serves to continue to build and solidify our working relationship.

Email & Relationships

Because most communication is done over email, I make sure to let them know what I am up to or ask questions when I need. I am professional but personable over email, saying “hey” and using their first name, unless they have specified not to or are much more formal.

My clients never need to ask what I am working on or where I am at with their work because I make sure to let them know.

I offer free email support to my book coaching clients and make sure to respond to people in a timely manner.

Once they are my clients, I stop selling them. They know what my services are and if they want additional ones, they always let me know. I don’t try to promote my other services or upsell them anymore unless they ask. I might say offhandedly, “Hey, you may not have thought about it, but some social media management would work really well with what we are doing now and would promote your company faster and better. Here are a couple of examples ___. Let me know if you want to discuss it further, and I am also happy to recommend a couple of other fantastic people.”

Because that shows it’s not about ME. It is about what is best for THEM and their company. I’m not saying it just to make more money, I even offered to refer them to someone else!

That is because honesty, trustworthiness, and transparency are the pillars on which I have built my business. I am not afraid to say “I don’t know,” and then go find the answer. I am not so self-centered as to think I’m the only person who can do what I do or even the best at it.

I am selling prospects on working with me, specifically, not with a writer in general. They don’t only need to know the benefits of writing, they need to see what working with me will be like. How well do I communicate? Do I remember information from previous conversations (I do, I take notes)? Do I listen to them and understand their pain points and have ways to solve those problems? Do I talk more about them than myself?

Clients & Relationships

You should be approaching a client relationship in a similar way to a new friendship. You want them to like you and you don’t want to scare them off.

Sales is not about just getting that dollar amount. It is about getting someone who WANTS to work with you and KEEP paying you that dollar amount.

But it’s more than sales. As a solo entrepreneur, how I represent myself to anyone is literally the face of my business. I am myself, but professional. I am knowledgeable, able to show strong writing samples, and deeply understand the process and the business of writing.

Being nice, kind, a good listener, asking the right questions, showing your value — that is how you get and KEEP a client.

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Freelancers & No Paid Time Off

Freelancers & No Paid Time Off

JS, Medium

If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

This has never been something that bothered me, as I have long been the type to work more than necessary and then bring my laptop on vacation and do an hour or two a day while we relaxed.

I have no problem doing a bit of work. After all, I still get the vacation — I sleep in, eat great food, don’t work out, and explore new places. I have fun with my husband and enjoy the trip. I also get a small amount of work done.

But this week.

This has been the toughest week of my life so far.

My grandfather was hospitalized, and he had been sick for a while.

I flew down on the day of Thanksgiving. We canceled the family get-together at my brother’s house and my brother and I booked last-minute flights to go see Grandpa.

We all assumed he’d get better. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital before he went to hospice and died peacefully, in his sleep, while surrounded by all his children and grandchildren. That was the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

He was lucid just 2 days before.

It’s been horrendous.

My grandpa was larger than life. He was a builder, a fixer, and a creator. For as long as I’ve been alive, one of my most vivid memories of him has been seeing him out on the mower or the tractor or any other of the heavy machinery littering his garages and driveway.

He was always under a car, tinkering. Or building something. He would pretend to be reluctant, but he adored helping any of us 3 grandkids fix things. He picked out my first car. He built us a treehouse when we were 8 or 9, then handed us nails and some wood and tried to teach us how to make furniture for it.

He was a self-made man who lived the true American Dream. He started with nothing and created a business of used truck parts and a junkyard, and grew it into an empire. He and my grandma got to live the retirement they wanted, traveled often, and loved us all.

He and Gramma were married for 61 years since they were 18 and 21. I can’t even imagine that type of relationship.

The funeral was Tuesday.

He would have hated the funeral. He didn’t like being the center of attention or religious ceremony. He would have hated seeing people get so emotional and cry over him.

But I guess the funeral isn’t meant for the dead, but for the living. To say goodbye, to pay respects, to have something to see, to hold on to.

I’ve never lost anyone so close to me before.

It has been a blur of family, tears, and yes, even some laughter.

When all the cousins get together, we enjoy it. We love hanging out and haven’t gotten the chance to see each other much as we got older and moved away and started new traditions.

We played Grandpa’s favorite game — poker — with his own poker chips.

We drank his favorite whiskey and we shared our funniest stories of him.

It won’t get easier for a while, but it will someday. He continues to live in my heart and his name will leap off my tongue at the oddest moments. “You know, your great-grandpa used to love this…” to my niece and nephew and to my own hypothetical children.

And while I mourned and grieved and ate bagels with my family, I still had to pull out my computer and do some work here and there. Do the tasks that I do daily to keep my business running and my clients happy. I let them all know what was going on so that they could cut me some slack for this week.

But the stress of this week, the anxiety of the flights, the breaking of my meticulous routine, and the worry over not doing work for my clients has been a bit overwhelming.

I smoked some cigarettes even though I quit over a year ago. I drank even though I’m not a big drinker.

And I didn’t write. This is he first thing I’ve written since it happened.

I will remember Grandpa as the Godfather of our family, I will continue his legacy by living by his teachings and by telling his stories.

Hey, have I told you about the time he took me fishing and we caught a shark…?

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Writing for Me vs. Writing for My Clients

Writing for Me vs. Writing for My Clients

Copywriting, JS, Medium

It can be difficult to separate them!

 

Writing is…

Cathartic

Emotional

Real

Symbiotic

Percussive

Strong

Difficult

Mine

Life.


Writing for money, especially for other companies and authors, is a fantastic career.

And because most of my writing is ghosted, I have had to learn to keep my personal feelings and opinions out of the pieces I write.

Especially when I disagree or find their references suspect.

It can be difficult to compartmentalize. To separate my personal feelings or opinions from those of the author/company I work for.

Not that it is ever anything heinous. None of my clients are people I fundamentally disagree with. None of them are white supremacists or anti-vaxxers or litterers (as far as I know).

It’s more that everyone is unique and different and we each hold our own opinions and feelings based on our pasts, education, hobbies, and experiences.

Everyone is unique and while that is a magical, beautiful, wonderful part of being human, it can make writing passionately about certain subjects difficult!

When it comes to my personal writing, my own personal opinions run rampant.

And it can be sometimes hard to turn that off.

For me, it’s all about stepping back and taking a breath and remembering that it’s not about me. It’s about the client. I am usually easily able to shake it off and get in the right mindset, but it can sometimes take moment.


How do YOU turn it off? Whether it is switching between highly personal writing like your book or a diary and more professional writing like clients or even LinkedIn posts. How you switch mindsets?

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Never Work For Free

Never Work For Free

Entrepreneur, Medium, writing

A friend of mine is also an entrepreneur. She was asked about possibly doing a whole new project for one of her clients. She wasn’t super familiar with the details but knew she could do the main part, so she said she was interested.

The client didn’t even ask her to, but she spent several hours researching information and details about parts of the project she wasn’t as familiar with — but hadn’t firmed up a price or a contract with the client yet.

I told her to stop. The biggest thing about being an entrepreneur is you only get paid for certain work. It was the client’s responsibility to take care of some of what she was researching, and even then, only if they agree to move forward.

Protect your time.

As the expert, your time is your most valuable commodity.

Time spent doing “just a quick little favor” for a client that pays by the minute or researching something for someone you don’t even work for any more than 10 minutes should absolutely be paid.

If you are wondering what this includes — literally everything. It is up to your discretion to give advice to your family or close friends for free. Anyone else should be paying.

There is a REASON you are able to make a living freelancing and that is because you are really good at what you do.

Which means you deserve to be compensated for it.

Don’t work for free.

I will occasionally give discounted pricing to people if it’s a trial blog post or something. But even then, still not free and that is my own choice.

The times when I have not charged for advice or help are when I choose to do so in a community, such as Reddit or Quora, where people are genuinely asking for help and no one is under any obligation to give it. I like helping people, and other writers are a fantastic group of people!

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Where Do Freelance Writers Find Clients?

Where Do Freelance Writers Find Clients?

Medium, Sales & Marketing, writing

One of the questions that I get asked the most and see on writing forums all the time is “where do you find clients?”

I’ve talked about this before, discussing ways to start making money right away as a writer.

But something I keep seeing even more of recently is this: “I got my first client! The pay is terrible, but it’ll be a professional piece for my portfolio!”

It’s awesome that you got your first paying client, but you have to get out of the mentality of doing something for low to no money just for your “portfolio.”

I am a full-time professional writer and editor, and I do not have a portfolio. I have writing samples and links I can send people, and even PDFs.

Instead of focusing on needing pieces for a professional portfolio and spending the time and energy even making a portfolio, start with having a couple of articles completely written, edited, and finished. Even if you’re just posting them on your blog, or your Medium page, or holding on to them as PDFs.

Write a couple of samples. That is IT. Once you have a couple articles, you can use those as samples when marketing yourself to new clients.

Things that are a waste of time before you have any clients: a professional website, a fancy portfolio, a marketing budget, and professional headshots.

I spent exactly $0 before getting my first 4 clients.

I spent $0 before getting the next several clients after that. In fact, the first money spent on being a writer was getting a new laptop once it was clear that I could make money as a writer. And I only got a new laptop because I was using my husband’s computer and he wanted it back.

Marketing and a professional website are useless at first because no one is searching for you or knows who you are. Don’t spend your time (or money) on that yet. Eventually, you’ll want a website, I’m not saying it’s useless! You just don’t need it to get started.

Respond to ads on Craigslist and Reddit. Give them your writing samples. Same goes for reaching out to people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media.

Here is a message I was sending:

“Hi, I’m Jyssica and I am a professional writer and editor! I am located in NYC and am available for new projects immediately. My 10 years of sales experience means I write well-suited-for-marketing copy and can work with you to create website or ad copy, blogs, and more. I also edit books! I noticed your website’s blog has not been updated in 6 months. Would you be interested in a couple of blog posts? I can provide writing samples. When are you available to talk?”

Bam. I have introduced myself, given an example of why I am an expert, identified a specific area I can help them with, offered writing samples, and asked to set up a call.

Sales 101. Identify a specific need and offer a solution.

I sent variations of that message directly to businesses over social media, especially LinkedIn and Instagram, and got a good response rate. Most people answered, “what are your rates?”

My response was ALWAYS that the rate depends on their needs, as I can charge per word, per project, or monthly rates, and they depended on the scope of the work and their budget. My next sentence was always “Do you have 15 minutes today to talk? I can get an idea of your needs and we can discuss prices.”

By giving people individual attention and focusing on their needs, I found new clients quickly. And for free.

Don’t undervalue yourself just to make $10. Spend an extra few days finding clients and marketing yourself and make more money.

Market yourself. Most writers don’t make their salary from content mills. Instead of signing up for a content mill and calling it done, do that as only one tiny part of an overall strategy for finding clients.

Making money as a freelance writer is absolutely possible, and it can be a sustainable career choice. But if you decide not to market yourself or try to find clients, you will find that it will be a much slower process to making a decent living.

I’m not just throwing words around for no reason. This strategy worked for me.

I was making just about the same salary from when I was in corporate sales by my fourth month of being a freelance writer.

Photo Credit: http://bsnscb.com/money-wallpapers.html

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