I want to share a quick story about a coaching call I had with a freelance writer about reaching out and following up with clients. Here’s (roughly) how our conversation went:
Me: So what happened to that company that you pitched last week?
Writer: Oh, they never responded, so I guess they’re not looking for a writer right now.
Me: Did you follow up with them?
Me: *Deep breath*
Me: *Launches into a lecture about the importance of following up*
Writer: Ok, ok! I follow up.
What’s the lesson we can glean from this story?
If you answered “I need to follow up or else Francesca will give me an earful,” then you’d just be partly correct. The bigger takeaway is that as a freelance writer, there are certain assumptions that you should never, ever make.
Take the writer above. She assumed that the prospect wasn’t interested because they didn’t respond to her one email. This is a dangerous — and costly — assumption. (More on this below)
The point is, making assumptions — i.e. formulating beliefs without solid evidence — can lead to trouble. Just ask the investor who put his money in the wrong place because he didn’t do enough due diligence, or the hiring manager who accepted the wrong applicant because she didn’t check their references.
Freelance writers are no different.
When you make the wrong assumptions in this business, you risk missing out on great clients and gigs. In this post, we’ll be discussing the the top writer assumptions that could be costing you some sweet revenue opportunities.
Check them out below. Are you making any of these assumptions in your freelance writing business?
1. “The prospect didn’t respond to my one email, so they’re not interested.”
Just because someone didn’t respond to your email right away doesn’t mean they’re not looking to hire a writer.
I’ve personally landed excellent clients because I took the time to follow up.
Check out the email screenshot below:
This client ended up hiring me for about six months. I got several portfolio pieces and added thousands of dollars to my bottom line thanks to that follow-up email.
Look, people are busy. There’s a good chance that they missed your message or they meant to respond but didn’t get to do it right away. Don’t miss the opportunity to seal the deal with these people.
Send them a follow-up email after a week or two. Or try reaching them through other channels such as Twitter or LinkedIn.
And if they still don’t respond? That’s okay, at least you know you did everything you can to reach a prospect. Let it go and move on to the next one.
(Note: if you REALLY want to work with this particular client, keep their contact info and reconnect in a couple of months. Also try looking for a different point-of-contact and pitch that person instead.)
2. “I’m not an expert” or “I’m not good enough”
Many writers assume they’re not good enough to write about a subject because they don’t have a degree or they’re not considered an “expert.”
My response? You don’t need to be an expert to produce expertly-written content.
What you do need is a willingness to learn and a healthy enthusiasm about the topic you’re covering.
For instance, I kicked off my freelance writing business by writing for tech companies and mobile app developers despite not having a technical background. What I did have was a genuine interest in the topic.
What I lacked in experience, I made up for in gusto, research skills, and writing prowess.
For one, you need to consume relevant content on a consistent basis. Subscribe to industry newsletters and publications so you can get regular updates on a particular industry. The more you read about a topic, the better you’ll become at writing about it.
In addition to reading about a topic, strive to immerse yourself in it. Find real world applications and talk to people working in that field.
For instance, when I started writing about retail, I made it a point to speak with retail store owners and executives. I also spent a lot of time in retail shops and I observed how merchants used technology in their stores.
Doing this allowed me to gain a deeper perspective about retail and I gained unique insights that I wouldn’t have gotten from simply reading websites and newsletters.
Do these things consistently, and before you know it, you’re an expert.
3. “Why bother reaching out? They don’t need a writer.”
And how do you know that? Did you even ask them?
You won’t know for sure whether or not a company is hiring unless you approach them and ask. Just because a business isn’t posting job ads for writers doesn’t mean they’re not looking for one.
In fact, one of the most common things I hear whenever I approach a prospect is “Thanks for contacting us! We’ve been meaning to add a blog / do content marketing / update our website / [insert content job here] for quite some time now.”
Don’t assume that a business doesn’t need a writer. They usually do (even if they don’t know it yet). So touch base with them and offer your services.
Also note: Even if they’re not looking for a freelancer right now, doesn’t mean the need won’t come up in the future.
Case in point: I handle content marketing for a software company, and I sometimes hire freelancers to help with our writing needs. One writer, Merhawi Kidane, reached out to me in July to offer his services.
We didn’t need a writer back then, but I liked his samples, so I saved his email and filed it for later use.
When the need for a writer came up in November, he was one of the freelancers I approached. I offered him the gig, he accepted, and we worked on the project together.
The takeaway? It doesn’t hurt to put yourself in a company’s radar. Keep doing it. Your next gig could be just a brave email away.
4. “I’m bothering clients” or “I’ll be like a sleazy salesperson…”
Anyone who’s been reading my stuff for a while can probably guess that my favorite client-hunting strategy is direct marketing. I love reaching out to businesses, knocking on their digital doors and asking if they need a freelance writer.
Believe it or not though, direct marketing and I haven’t always been tight. There was a time when I was scared of doing it because it felt sleazy. Back then I felt like if I reached out to businesses and sell my services, I’d be like an insistent telemarketer or a door-to-door person trying to get homeowners to buy some vacuums or encyclopedias.
Over the years, as I gained more experience, I learned that the “sleazy salesperson mindset” is a total myth in the realm of hunting for freelance clients. Me thinking that I was “bothering” other companies was just a defense mechanism. It was one of those stories I told myself because I was scared to put myself out there.
Can you relate? If the answer is yes, then allow me to give you a simple piece of advice: STOP. Just… stop. You’re NOT a sleazy salesperson and you are not bothering clients by knocking on their doors to offer your services.
See, selling to businesses isn’t the same as selling to consumers. Consumers slam doors on salespeople and hang up on telemarketers because they really do feel like they’re being bothered. There they are, busy with work or watching TV and some guy calls or shows up trying to shove some product into their face.
It’s important to note that entrepreneurs do not think or behave the same way. When you reach out to them, they won’t see you as a pushy salesperson (unless you really are being pushy or obnoxious). Rather, they’ll likely see you as another business person just like them, trying to make a living… just like them. You’re a legit business offering something of value to another business. It’s as simple as that.
When you’re selling your freelance writing services, always remember to remove your consumer cap and think like an entrepreneur instead. You need to have a business mindset because you are, after all, dealing with other businesses.
And if you encounter closed doors, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it has something to do with you or your worth as a writer. Often, getting a “no” or not receiving a response doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like you as a person (first rule of business: don’t take things personally). The more likely reason is that your business just isn’t a good fit for theirs.
Don’t wallow on those rejections. Just move on to the next one.
Have you ever made these assumptions?
Guess what? So have I.
I assumed each and every one of these things when I started my freelance writing business, and these assumptions cost me gigs and opportunities.
But I learned my lessons. I learned how to overcome my limiting beliefs and I gained the confidence to go after the high-paying clients. I learned how where to find great prospects, and I wised up on pitching best practices and increased my response and close rate.
And now I want to teach you how to do all that. My flagship course, the Freelance Writing Bootcamp is now open for enrollment.
The Freelance Writing Bootcamp teaches you everything you need to know to launch a successful freelance writing career, even if you have no clips, experience or clients.
Specifically, it will teach you how to:
- Get clips and build your portfolio even without any experience
- Stop wasting time on job boards, content mills, and “race to the bottom” sites, and instead land high-paying and interesting gigs
- Earn extra cash or even replace your full-time income in a few short months
- Launch a freelance writing business even if you have no idea where to begin
- Make clients LOVE you, and how to get them to send you even more writing opportunities
Click here to enroll in the bootcamp.
Oh, and if you’re reading this, you’ll get $100 off with the coupon code BAFWS2018. Note that this code is only valid until Sunday, January 14 at 12 midnight PDT.
Enroll by then and you’ll also get:
- One FREE 45-minute mentoring call with yours truly ($100 value)
- One FREE pitch critique/rewrite. Just show me the pitch you use to find clients or land guest posts, and I’ll come back with a detailed critique + rewrite recommendations ($50 value)
Hope to see you inside!