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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

4 Freelance Writing Truths for Beginners

What's on the iPod: All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down by The Mavericks

What a productive week so far -- I've finished two magazine articles and started on four more website articles. I'm a little toasted (and it's only Wednesday), but I'm determined to get 16 articles to the two clients I'm working with by mid-April.

Also, I'm getting brochures and marketing aligned for the trade show at the end of the month. While I'm thrilled to have two long-term projects in front of me (through December), my days just got longer. Marketing happens before and after my work days are done.

As I was talking with a friend, I realized just how many misconceptions new writers can have entering the freelance writing profession. While it may be the hundredth time a more experienced writer hears the question or statement, it's the first time that new writer is saying it. With that in mind, I'd like to help out by clearing up some of the more common misconceptions new freelancers may have. Let's start with the conversation I was having with my friend.

There is no such thing as "overflow work." If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to funnel my leftover work to them, I wouldn't need regular work. Yes, we freelancers get busy sometimes -- and we may even have more than we can handle at one time -- but it's not common enough for most writers to consider it an "overflow." In my years of full-time freelancing, an over-abundance of work has happened three times. In those cases, most freelancers will put in extra hours or get help from a trusted writer friend.

Don't ask other writers to give you work. First, if you're an unknown writer, that means you're not known by the person you're asking for work. Don't expect any writer to simply subcontract to you. That's expecting way too much trust where you haven't done the work to establish the trust. Those projects are given to the writer because the client knows that person's work. It takes a lot of trust for any writer to subcontract to a friend -- to a stranger? That's not happening.

Passive income takes work. I think most writers hear the word "passive" and think that tossing up a page with a bunch of ads and affiliate links will generate a livable income. You should certainly consider passive income streams, but don't think they're going to solve your financial problems. Passive income should be considered supplemental income.

Asking for advice has its limits. Most writers I know are helpful to newbies. However, there's a limit to how much time we can spend helping you. Don't expect an established writer to drop everything to answer your email (especially if they've never heard of you before). We help when we can, but we also help those who are willing to do at least the basic homework themselves. If you don't know where to look to learn the basics, that's a good question -- "What sources would you recommend?" It's so much better than "How do I start in freelancing?" which is impossible to answer in one or two sentences (or pages). If you need more help than an email could fix, ask for recommendations for a writing coach.

Writers, what other truths can you impart to our beginning colleagues?
What one habit is least appreciated by you? Most appreciated?

Monday, March 30, 2015

This Job Not That Job

What's on the iPod: Songs About Roses by Owl John


I finished the week strong and start the week even stronger. There are lots of projects on the desk, and all of them are begging for attention. Right now, the focus is to get one more article out the door by tomorrow so I can concentrate on a slew of articles due in two weeks.

KeriLynn Engel sent over a great contender for the This Job Not That Job series. This one is particularly interesting in many ways, all of which add up to a really smelly offer.

I give you one of the worst ads of the new year:

Experienced Business Writer Needed

Our company is a media centric business looking for a FIRST CLASS business writer who has a corporate grade American English proficiency including great mastery in sentence structuring, grammar, and corporate vocabulary. Your writing style is CONCISE, no verbiage, no wordiness, no useless style effect and straight to the point. It is crucial that you can deliver assignments in 24 hours. If you feel you cannot meet the Native American Corporate English Writing requirement for this position, do not respond to this ad.

Business content you will sporadically produce includes offers, strategies for the most part and research analysis if needed. The reason why we need a business writer is because of your business intelligibility to fill in gaps where the information provided is not sufficient and your ability to comprehend intricate businesses when needed. Secondly, you should build on the information provided to include an analytical edge in the content you will produce. Third, the content produced should naturally flow in a concise way.

Each assignment is 500-700 words long.

We are really looking for someone dedicated, with a strong of integrity and passionate about writing, preferably a professional freelancer. Payment are made through Paypal every Friday for all the assignments completed by Thursday since last payment.

Requirements:
- MBA diploma or equivalent
- Must be available by email from 9 am to 5 pm EST time
- Must have your own PC/Laptop with a high speed Internet connection

To reply to this ad, you need to:
- submit a short cover letter explaining why you are suitable to do these assignments and the
type of work done by you as a business writer
- submit your resume
- submit three samples of business writing you have done in the past (please do not submit articles)
- confirm that you can ensure a 24 h delivery turnaround time
- whether you can start immediately working on assignments
- confirm that you have an MBA diploma or equivalent


If the job is done in a quality and timely manner, we can provide you with a stream of assignments. Our staff working for us remotely have done that for years for the most part. Please only apply if you are looking to work on a per assignment basis. Professional writing freelancers are welcome. We will only respond to the individuals who are suitable for this ad.

Compensation: $20 -$35 per 500 words

Let's start with Lori's Golden Rule of Lousy Job Offers -- The ratio of pay decreases in direct contrast to the amount of required steps needed just to apply for the gig. This job excels at creating numerous, unnecessary steps and requirements. But let's shred this ad (we're not dissecting this stupidity, but ripping it to bits) and see what falls out:

Our company is a media centric business looking for a FIRST CLASS business writer who has a corporate grade American English proficiency including great mastery in sentence structuring, grammar, and corporate vocabulary.

If the sentence structure alone doesn't deter you, the caps should. Real clients who aren't afraid to pay real money wouldn't put together such shlock, nor would they use caps unless their lower case was broken. And not even then.

Your writing style is CONCISE, no verbiage, no wordiness, no useless style effect and straight to the point.

You know, like they are. Right.

Business content you will sporadically produce includes offers, strategies for the most part and research analysis if needed.

Sporadically? Say again? What is the job exactly? You'll not know until you apply. Then maybe they'll tell you. It's their way of enticing you. Lucky you.

The reason why we need a business writer is because of your business intelligibility to fill in gaps where the information provided is not sufficient and your ability to comprehend intricate businesses when needed. 

Stop laughing so I can tell you something serious -- if you weren't completely turned off at this point, then perhaps you don't have the "business intelligibility" needed for the job. Sorry. You'll just have to take that intelligibility elsewhere.

Secondly, you should build on the information provided to include an analytical edge in the content you will produce.

Wait, secondly? Where's firstly? Oh wait. That's right. Business intelligibility. Guess that rules me out. Doesn't matter. I'm not quite sure how anyone can include analytical edges. Do they look like isosceles triangles?

We are really looking for someone dedicated, with a strong of integrity and passionate about writing, preferably a professional freelancer. 

And someone who can write stellar sentences like that gem, right?

Payment are made through Paypal every Friday for all the assignments completed by Thursday since last payment.

Wow. Way to make something easy seem complicated.

And now we get to:

Requirements:
- MBA diploma or equivalent

An MBA? For what? To write with intelligibility? Or to understand the payment process?

- Must be available by email from 9 am to 5 pm EST time

And right there is the million-dollar phrase, for this chump thinks you're an employee. If you play your cards right, you might be able to prove it in court and get some benefits out of him -- maybe even a pension.  Note to poster -- no, your freelance writer does not have to be available during your work hours. That's against most state laws to require it, and it's not up to you to tell someone how to run their business.

Now to answer this ad, you must:

submit a short cover letter explaining why you are suitable to do these assignments and the
type of work done by you as a business writer

Well, since it's not clear what kind of work you'll be doing, that might be some trick. 

- submit three samples of business writing you have done in the past (please do not submit articles)

Huh? If not articles, what? Free samples? Bite me.

If the job is done in a quality and timely manner, we can provide you with a stream of assignments. Our staff working for us remotely have done that for years for the most part.

What bothers me about this -- they're referring to remote workers as "staff" when it's pretty clear they're contract workers. While it may not matter to them what they call the likes of us, it matters greatly to freelance writers because this is a person who is already assuming your relationship will be employer/employee instead of client/contractor. And you don't get the perks of being an employee, so why let someone boss you around for nothing?

Professional writing freelancers are welcome. 

But not copy editors, for this copy is just crystal clear.

We will only respond to the individuals who are suitable for this ad.

Still hopeful after all those words.

Compensation: $20 -$35 per 500 words

Good luck with that. In fact, good luck warding off all the "F*** off" notes you're about to get in response.
----

Wow. I'm spent just trying to choke back the rotten taste that one left. Obviously, this is not a job any serious "professional writing freelancers" should consider, nor would we since we're all busy gouging out our eyes attempting to erase the memory of this one.

Instead, look for projects that offer a bit more of a sensible business relationship. Something like this (via AllIndieWriters):

B2B Reporter to Cover Associations and Advocacy (freelance)

CQ Roll Call is seeking a driven writer to create stories for its content marketing program on a freelance basis. For the right candidate, we can be a rock-steady client with weekly assignments, and the potential for a great deal more.

Working under the direction of our Managing Editor for Marketing, our writer will cover advocacy groups and associations as a beat. This is a B2B writing job, creating content for people in these industries, and not just about them. We’ll start at two stories a week.

To carry this out, we are looking for someone who has journalism chops, or who has a B2B reporting background. They will be writing for the Marketing Department, but we’re serious about content – we come from journalism backgrounds, ourselves.

We are looking for a solid writer with a good nose for stories, who understands beat work and can generate story ideas. We’ll ask them to write stories that help association and advocacy professionals improve how they do their jobs. Profiles, how-tos, case studies and explanatory work will all be part of the mix.

This is a great job for a professional freelancer who is seeking a steady client, or for former full-time reporter who is raising a family or otherwise requires flexible (but engaging) part-time work.


Salary: $30,000-35,000

Yes, Virginia. You can get more than $35 for your hard work. Clients like these are out there. 

Writers, what kinds of awfulness have you seen lately?
What's the worst job you ever took?
What advice for beginners do you have?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Turning Conversation into Client Relationships

What I'm reading: In One Person by John Irving
What's on the iPod: Wild Angels by Martin Sexton

Not long ago, a couple came to our door. They were Jehovah's Witness followers, and since I have known some followers, I invited them in. I served them tea and we started chatting.

The husband/wife team were there to recruit me, naturally, but instead they served as an excellent example of how important the approach is.

The husband was new to the religion. Maybe it was his newness or maybe he was just an all-business kind of guy, but he launched right into his spiel (no offense to JWs, but his was a spiel). No getting to know me, no breath in between sentences--just a recitation of what sounded like an elevator speech loaded with focus. It felt as though his only goal was to recruit me, and once on topic, there was no stopping him.

The wife was born into the religion. Maybe that's why she was more content with my trying to have a conversation with them about various religious views. She smiled, engaged, sat back calmly and listened, and interjected personal stories of her own that were not about recruiting me (mostly about her pets and her wedding).

At one point, she and I had a great conversation going about various views of religion. It was almost jarring to then have her husband butt into the conversation and try pushing, almost forcibly, our conversation back to his intended mission -- to get me on board.

They came back a few times after that, and I did welcome them in, though each time the husband was just as pushy and unbending in trying to reach his goal. In truth, had he come back alone, I'd have sent him packing. The only reason they were invited in was because his wife was interested in dialogue, not diatribe.

There's a lesson in that.

When we writers approach new clients, the goal is often to convince them to hire us. So what happens next? In my own experience, contacting 50 clients a month may result in two of them wanting more information.

It's time to shift the focus and the message.

Like the wife in my anecdote, we writers can bring clients to our side before they ever hire us.

Don't make it all about business. Lighten up and have a conversation instead. Imagine someone at a trade show who's been standing in a booth for three days. You come by, start a conversation, and tell them about your services. The person takes your card and asks how the show has been going for you, but you keep selling --"Have you considered a blog? How old is your brochure? I can refresh that sales sheet for you." Instead of letting the conversation take shape naturally, you forced your agenda. And you've lost your prospect's interest.

Network, don't sell. It's so tempting to say "I do this, and I can help you this way -- are you interested?" It could be a few people are interested, but if you give them time to know you, your network could become a healthy go-to source for projects. When you do make a contact, make it count -- for them. Give them something of value that also helps them remember you. If your network remembers you as the writer who sends out a great marketing newsletter, whose name do you think comes to mind when they need someone like you?

Ask for their ideas. One contact in my network would call me with articles he said I should be writing. He was right, too. One of those articles generated a huge conversation with the audience. The editors were thrilled, and I scored major awesomeness points thanks to my late contact's idea. Don't be afraid to ask people you're meeting if there's any topic they're particularly interested in reading about. By doing so, you've brought them to your side and shown them you're easy to collaborate with. And they'll remember that you valued their opinion.

Ask a smart question. Nothing makes you more memorable to a new contact (or an existing one) than having a conversation about something that affects them. What's challenging for your business right now? Where do you think [topic of the day] is heading? How do you think [industry trend] will change business as usual? Get them talking and join the conversation with your own ideas or follow-up questions.

Send a news item. I like to send a link to something the client and I have discussed that appears in the news. I include a little banter about it, or I ask what they think about it.

Writers, how do you turn the conversation into a business relationship?
What method works best for you?
Have you seen a difference in the length of relationships for those you didn't start out selling to versus those you have?


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Insurance and the Freelance Writer

What I'm reading: The Racketeer by John Grisham
What's on the iPod: Would You Fight for My Love? by Jack White

A good day yesterday -- one project draft done and another started. Plus I nailed down an interview that took weeks to get. It was worth the wait.

There's been a lot of talk lately about insurance -- chiefly, some clients are starting to require that we freelance writers carry liability coverage. Depending on the client contract, the amount required ranges somewhere between $500,000--$2 million. Plus, each time I've seen the requirement, it's been coupled with mandatory workers compensation insurance for the same amount.

And it's total bullshit.

So why is it being presented as a deal-breaking requirement? Because too often, clients are using standard contractor agreements typically used for builders, janitorial services, or any service setting foot on their property. And they've not bothered to create a contract that applies to a different kind of trade -- the creative services profession. However, they've amended just enough to pass all liability for any mistakes made in writing on to us.

How damn special.

So when it comes to liability insurance, should you or shouldn't you?

I say you should when you perceive a need, not when you're being expected to assume a need. My personal opinion is that no writer should sign an agreement that puts them on the hook for a company's risks. It's like asking a homeowner to pay for street repairs in front of their house. It's too much a responsible-by-association tactic, and it's unfair to be expected to assume such risks.

In the few cases where it was made a condition of my agreement, I had it removed from the contract or I requested an exception, citing that the language didn't exactly apply to me.

But that doesn't mean I didn't get push-back. I did. Big time. In one case, it cost me ongoing work. Am I sorry for that? Not at all.

The terms of that agreement were far from reasonable -- the company wanted me to assume all liability for any activity connected to that project. That included actions of their own employees, and for six months beyond the end date of the project. So if Dorothy, their copy editor, didn't do any fact-checking on information they supplied, I was on the hook for it. I was also told I'd be responsible for damages should plagiarism come into play --  if Fred decided a month after the fact to include in that project some information from a source and not apply attribution, guess who's paying?

The problem with these insurance requirements goes beyond the obvious transferring of all the risks to us writers. First, what they consider adequate (enough to cover their $2 million requirement) coverage isn't always possible to get. If you can find it, you're paying at least $1,000 a year for it.  (I was told by an insurance broker it wasn't possible to get $2 million.) Second, you don't need workers compensation insurance. That's for an employee, and it's for a contractor who works onsite and has staff that could have injuries.

Worse, I've seen some awful advice aimed at writers, saying we need business owners insurance for errors we might make. No, we don't. If you buy business owners insurance, know that it does not cover your mistakes unless errors & omissions/professional liability are expressly included in the policy.

That's not to say a business owners policy (BOP) wouldn't be useful to you. Here's what a typical BOP policy covers, per Nationwide Insurance:
  • Property insurance, which protects your building, equipment and inventory
  • Business income insurance, which covers lost income if your operations are suspended because of a covered loss
  • Equipment breakdown insurance, which protects you if your equipment is damaged from power surges, mechanical breakdown, burnout or operator error
  • Personal and advertising injury coverage, which covers copyright infringement, libel and slander
  • Bodily injury and property damage liability, which covers those instances when your employees, products or services cause harm to other people or their property
  • Medical payments coverage, which covers medical expenses resulting from injury to others on property you own or rent
  • Rented vehicle coverage, which provides liability coverage for autos that you lease, hire or borrow
(source: Nationwide Insurance)

If you have a lot of expensive equipment or files you would be financially liable for/damaged from loss, it's worth looking into a BOP policy. Plus, BOP covers your business should you intentionally/unintentionally infringe on someone's copyright, or damage their reputation in public.

It does not cover you for projects in which an error made on your part causes a client's business harm. Note that the fourth bullet point above speaks to "bodily injury" or "property damage" -- not professional damage. Different risk, different product.

Do we need professional liability insurance (or errors & omissions, as it's also called)?

Yes and no.

Yes, it's always a good idea to protect your business with adequate insurance. Suppose you work with Joe and Nancy editing their website. Only once you've edited it, Marge sues Joe and Nancy claiming they stole most of the site's content from her site (it's happened).

Joe and Nancy had a little clause in the contract you signed that said you were responsible for the integrity of all content you edited. That could be interpreted to mean verifying the origins of the content was your job. Or maybe the contract said that outright, but you didn't remember to do so.

Marge wants $1 million in damages, and she's looking at you. Do you have that kind of money?

Despite such risks, insurance may not fit your situation. Smart idea? Absolutely. Would I say you don't need it? No. I would say every writer should consider their own business, work habits, and client mix to know exactly where the risks are and if those risks are likely to happen. When in doubt, talk with an insurance broker (not an agent -- agents who don't specialize in this kind of insurance may not understand the level of risk you have).

Also, the best protection any freelance writer can have is an agreement that gives clients final approval of all copy. It's not a foolproof clause -- should you forget to attribute something, that's still on you -- but it helps clear up where the responsibility lies. An attorney can explain that much better than I can, so don't take my word for it.

Writers, do you have insurance? If so, what policies do you have?
If not, do you ever intend to buy it? Why/why not?
What do you perceive to be your risks of doing business?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When Do You Let Go of Prospective Writing Clients?

What's on the iPod: Dearly Departed by Shakey Graves

Tuesday was a great day off. The music was the best I've ever remembered it. I was glad to get back here, though. While it's always a good time on St. Patrick's Day, it's equally nice to come home and relax before heading off to bed. I was home by 7 pm.

Yesterday I got an invoice out to a client and attended another Twitter chat, connecting with a few more people in the industry in which I write. Plus I had a few email conversations with some client prospects.

Since I've been marketing hard for the upcoming trade show attendance, I've been getting responses from client prospects who are at various stages in their marketing/communications processes. Some have full-blown marketing budgets and projects, others have nothing beyond ideas.

That means the reaction is different every time.

This month, I've had two or three client prospects who have held back, worried a detail or two, and focused solely on price tags. For them, I gave the basic information, offered to chat, and let go.

Sometimes, it's just not a match.

In one case, the client was so focused on the per-hour rate (which I gave as the "for all other projects" -- at the end of a long list of stated project prices) that I couldn't get them to see the project price, if they agreed on it, was within their budget. "We can only afford $XX per hour." Fine. But if I quote $500 for the project and you say yes, that's within your budget, right?

Alas, sometimes the dollar sign is more concrete in someone's mind than in actuality.

I didn't keep asking. It was a dead conversation because someone had stopped listening. Sure, the perceived cost isn't the one that matters, but to them, it was the one that mattered. Anything I said beyond that wasn't being heard.

I let go.

That's tough, especially when you have a client who's talking. Here's someone who responded -- they need your help. They're inquiring in hopes of coming to some agreement with you. A live body is better than silence, right?

Except when it isn't.

It would have been easy to say "Sure, I can do it for two-thirds less than what I usually charge." I think you know why I didn't -- 1) it sets a bad precedent caving in to budget constraints that are clearly lower than you can work for, 2) it's a lousy way to start a client/writer relationship, 3) it's no guarantee the work will be there, and 4) it makes it that much tougher to negotiate with that client or any other in the future.

When to let go, though? I've let go when:

Price is the only consideration. We all have budgets, but when the money is the only topic of conversation, I don't know how it will ever be about the work quality (which is what I think it should be about). Every client will ask about price. When they lead with price and won't talk about pricing options, it's over for me (and probably for them, as well).

They won't make a decision. That's different than can't make a decision. Waffling endlessly is a waste of time, and you just know when the client has all the information needed. I've let go of client prospects who have said a number of times they need my help, but when given options, they go silent or don't act at all.

They ask endless questions. I remember one woman who questioned me nearly to death (figuratively, of course). Seven emails in, I decided to send her an agreement template to look over and help me fill in. That's when the questions stopped. Did I lose her by pushing? No. I never had her. The agreement was my traffic light -- either we're going to proceed on a more formal basis or she was going to turn another direction. Either way, I was putting a limit on the free time I invested.

They dictate. This isn't an employer/employee relationship. It's an alliance, a temporary business partnership of sorts. Business owners working together. For that reason, I won't ever tolerate someone telling me "Here's what you're getting paid" or "Drop that price" kind of directives. Instead, we negotiate. If a client says "Here's my budget" or "I can afford only this much" -- that's a conversation. I've dropped clients for telling me "Here's what you should be charging" (oh yes, he did). And I've told them what they should be charging in response (nothing wakes them up like a dose of their own inappropriate behavior).

Writers, when do you let go of prospective writing clients?
Have you ever broken it off in the middle of negotiations? If so, what were the circumstances?
Any advice for writers on how to know when to let go?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Brogues, Begorrah, and Blog-versaries

What I'm listening to: Irish bands. All day.


Derrintaggart Stone Circle,  County Cork
Eight years. That's a long time to be blogging. Yet here I am, still wondering how I can be so lucky to have you all reading here every day.

How ironic that I started this blog on my favorite holiday ever. I won't be around today, but I'll be back tomorrow with a headache and a head full of fun memories, for I'm about to meet my new best friends of the day. The festivities start at 8 am and go well into tomorrow.

Instead of the usual post, I thought I'd dole out some Irish fun facts:

The Irish language is still very much alive. There's a Gaeltacht region of the country, and that's where you'll find most of the 280,000 native Irish speakers. Beyond that over 1.65 million speak Irish as a second language. And it looks nothing like how it's pronounced. Try it here.

The snakes St. Patrick ran out of town --pagans. I don't know why this fact eludes a lot of people who talk about this as a "myth." St. Patrick brought Christianity to the island. The pagans, to that point, were in charge. Their symbol --  snakes. While he did not drive the pagans out of town, he was instrumental in spreading Christianity across the island.

A bump on the head on your birthday is good luck. This explains a lot of why my great-uncles used to hang us upside down by our feet and gently bump our heads on the floor. While we got just one bump, the tradition is one bump for every year. A six-year-old would get six bumps.

There are more Irish in America than in Ireland. Thank famines, wars, and forced migrations for that. Around the world, there are 50-80 million people with Irish roots -- with over 36 million in America. Ireland has a population of 6.3 million.

Most Irish are craic (pronouned "crack") addicts. Irish love a good time, and craic is a good time, or, loosely translated, fun.

This is a fun song. And I'm sure I'll sing it a few times today.


Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Free Advice Friday: 4 Fairly Foolproof Ways to Market Your Writing

What's on the iPod: Carrickfergus by Loudon Wainwright III


Yesterday was one of those days where I was afraid to go near anything electronic. It started when I turned on The Weather Channel  (TWC) in the morning only to find it wasn't there. Anywhere. Verizon FiOS, with their infinitely awful customer service habits, yanked the channel when they couldn't come to an agreement with TWC on a price. And they were still negotiating a deal when Verizon made the move.

Thanks. Thanks for telling your paying customers that they were about to lose a channel they paid a premium for. If it was a bargaining trick, it backfired -- Twitter lit up with complaints. Thanks for remembering who pays to keep your lights on, Verizon.

Then I went to not one, but two ATMs -- both out of order. It was like Dawn of the Dead -- Internet Style. But I did get a smaller project drafted, and I put some work in on a poem I'd written on Wednesday.

So today's Friday. It's five days from my official holiday and this blog's anniversary. But we still have work to do before said holiday.

I was talking with a friend who's having troubles with marketing. It always strikes me as odd when people tell me they don't know how to market, especially when in most cases, they already are and don't realize it.

If you're one of those people, this post is for you.

There are a zillion ways to market and reach out to potential clients. So don't think this is an exhaustive list -- it isn't. These are some of the simplest ways to get the word out.

Give them something. A contest announced in your newsletter or on social media can be a great way to introduce yourself to new clients. Give away a book, a gift card, whatever. People trip over themselves to win a $20 Amazon card (I've seen it here on this blog). And have them land on a page that also explains -- briefly -- who you are and what you offer.

Hold or attend an industry Twitter Chat. Yes, they do notice when you're there. I connected with four new potential clients in one chat. They reached out to me, in fact. Go in with at least two questions to ask, and make sure to comment or retweet someone's comment when relevant.

Give away a report or booklet. Jenn Mattern does an excellent job of providing freebies for her visitors, who often become clients. Create something your target audience could benefit from (don't make it an advertisement for your services). Then spread the word via email and social media. (Just don't spam, okay?)

Reach out to an "inactive" client. You've sold to these people before and they love what you do. What better place to look for more work, some referrals, or a recommendation you can include on your next marketing piece?

Writers, what fairly foolproof marketing methods do you love?
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