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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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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Working From Home: Me, Myself & I

Entrepreneur, JS

I work from home full-time, which is a pretty recent thing (3 weeks!). I am LOVING life and my job, and this is the first time in my adult life that I am excited to go to work every day and that I make my own schedule.

The positives far outweigh the negatives in my new lifestyle. I can travel more (and have!), as I can work from anywhere with wifi (like a New Orleans cafe, or my sister’s house). I can make my own hours (all of them), I can stay in my PJs and not shower that day (it happens). I can take on new clients, or not. I can choose the type of work that I’m doing. I am my own boss.

But there are certainly a few small drawbacks. It’s easy to oversleep. It’s easier to slack off when no one is watching. It’s easy to keep working well past business hours. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to eat poorly.

I thought I was going to finally have time to go to the gym again. When I was working full time and also building this business, I was working every evening until bedtime and all weekend long. It was a constant grind, and I loved it, but I was busy every waking moment. Previously, I’d gone to the gym 3-4 days per week!

Now, I am finding it all too easy to snack all day, much more than ever before, and then get caught up and busy and suddenly, Husband is home from work, I wrap up my day, and then I want to hang out with him, not leave and go to the gym. When I have time between calls during the day, I’m not going to the gym, I’m writing, organizing, working, marketing, etc.

So, I’ve gained about 10 pounds, which I’m feeling bad and insecure about. But again, I love what I’m doing and that is my own fault.

I do spend more time with my cat, less time with people, and have found it all too easy to stay home for several days at a time. It’s actually an issue, because I don’t have a ton of friends in NY, and I am getting isolated.

To address this, my plan is to try to get out of the house and:

  • Take walks
  • Go with my neighbor and her kids to the park once a week
  • Find somewhere to volunteer
  • Try to get back to the gym
  • Pop into the city now and then

Last Friday, I took the afternoon off and went into the city to meet up with my old boss and some friends for lunch and then drinks, and it was great! I felt like my old self, but better.

Being an entrepreneur is great. I am truly happier than ever, but it can be stressful, isolating, and a bit lonely, and I need to make sure my physical and mental health are properly addressed, not just my business. I used to love going to the gym because it was my “me time,” and now I am having “me time” all the time! Maybe that has been a stumbling block as well.

My biggest challenges in working from home and for myself have been time management and prioritizing tasks and projects. I will be looking more deeply into both of these sibjects soon. I did recently write about time management for Thrive Global, which can be found here.

I am constantly trying to improve. I want to learn, grow, build, make money, write more, and do better every day. So when I am able to identify what I’m doing wrong, I can work on myself and do better!

I guess the advice I am trying to give myself is this: it’s a lot of change, you’re still figuring it out, 10 pounds isn’t that big of a deal, you’re working on it. Relax! You’re doing great!

 

Bonus! Here is the picture of my March employee of the month winner!

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