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Friday, December 28, 2007

Labor of Love

We have this project going in the bedroom - we've chosen an arts-and-crafts stencil and now we want to put a Swedish poem on the wall as a border. See, his godfather was the Poet Laureate of Sweden - Bertil Malmberg - and I thought it would be a fitting addition to our Swedish bedroom makeover to include something of his. Only ... neither of us speak or read Swedish very well (or at all, frankly). So I've just spent the last two hours piecing together one stanza of good ol' Bertil's poetry using just online translators. Not the easiest, nor the best translation method, but we want to use a poem that is a bit lighter - some of the poems are deliciously dark and graphic. Not the best choice for a good night's sleep. :))

Got stuck on two words - Vildrossmyckat as is "Och vildrossmyckat landet" and hulda, per the line "I, hulda svanor". I know it's talking about a country and a swan. Beyond that, eh. Not so sure. If any of you out there happen to know Swedish, I'd be mighty grateful to get some clue as to what those two words mean, or even where to look for that info. Beyond that, we may have to head over to the Swedish museum in south Philly for some guidance. But it's important, at least to me, that we find a piece of work that is personal in some way. The additional work is worth it.

Do you have writing or a special work by a particular author (even yourself) that is special to you in some way? If so, what?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Delicious Dilemmas

Isn't it great to be faced with choosing between jobs? It's great in that you suddenly feel financial security creeping back into your life. It's not so great when you're really facing it and hoping you don't choose unwisely.

I have an interview next week with a major pharmaceutical. It's a contract job, one year in length, paying up to $25/hr for medical proofreading. And as is typically the case, the very next day I get hired to work from home for $40/hr with ongoing work. If I look at it from a dollar perspective, the choice is obvious. However, is it worth my while to work in pharmaceuticals since this area is teeming with major pharmaceutical companies?

What would you do? See, the contract job is onsite and 9-5. The other is from home, which allows for more projects than just one. I know which one I'm choosing and why - I have a number of ongoing projects and a full-time temp gig right now just isn't in the cards. I may be shooting myself in the foot, but I think in the meantime, my bank account will be happier for it.

You? How do you determine what to take and what to pass up? Have you ever faced it? Would you like to? Let's discuss....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Land of the Free?

Over on Deb Ng's blog there's a bit of a discussion going regarding the old free-or-next-to-free payment issue. As you know by now if you've been around listening to me whine incessantly about it, working for free is never cool. Well, one exception - working for your mother. You wouldn't charge your mother, although most mothers would offer money to their babies in order to see them do well. But that's another story.

Yet it seems a lot of folks posting say they started with freebies. Some claim they weren't taken seriously until they had clips, and they had to go with freebies in order to gain clips.

Do I believe them? Yes, I'm sure they worked for free. Do I believe it was their only option? Not at all. See, if you're trying to score a gig and the buyer wants to see clips, it means that person wants proof you can write, so send them to your new website that houses your writing. If that's not enough, move on to the next gig. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to work for nothing. And there are alternatives. Like writing on spec.

Spec Writing
"On spec" simply means you write something on speculation - the editor may or may not use it. If she does, you get paid. If she doesn't, you're free to take that article elsewhere. I can hear you now - "But if she doesn't buy it, didn't I just write for free?" Yes, but someone is not profiting from your hard work. And you've increased your odds for a sale. Plus you've established a contact with a paying market. Oh, and you can now take that "clip" somewhere else and show yet another person that you can write.

I wrote a spec piece when I was first starting out. Sadly, the magazine decided against it. However, I pitched the idea to the competitor and they snapped it up. That article wasn't a freebie by any stretch of the imagination. It served a purpose - in fact, numerous purposes, as listed above. I made some key contacts at two publications, I got paid, and I got my first national sale.

If you're hell-bent on working for free, put up a weblog. Post a few times a week on your topic (here's a good exercise in finding a focus, so have fun with it). Establish other weblog connections. Link to each other. Build a name for yourself in the blogosphere. Then point potential employers to it as proof you can write.

If you're still going to work for free, be warned. Sometimes, as one poster on Deb's blog points out, that freebie labels you more of an amateur than not having any clips at all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Better Way to Set Goals

Good chum Devon Ellington reminded me yesterday of her terrific goal-setting, soul-searching exercise. I wanted to mention it here, so please, do yourself a great favor and visit her site. It's a wonderful exercise in how to identify our selves as well as our goals.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Goal is What Exactly?

Good lord, it's slow around here! I'm sitting for eight hours or more with absolutely no work coming in save for yesterday's ongoing routine. And thank God for it - it will be the first check I receive in 2008 and it will make this lean time a lot less lean.

So what am I doing? Searching for opportunities. It's a rare gift having time to market, and I'm taking advantage. So far, I've sent out 10 brochures this week, contacted two wayward clients, and have brainstormed on where I might find other work. I've taken one of those gawd-awful "tests", but since this was an area I'd not worked in before, and since I established in writing that my test won't be used and I'll retain copyright, I was okay with it. Besides, there's nothing happening here - why not spend the time learning a new niche of an old industry?

I'm financially strapped, but so far the gifts have been paid for in cash only. Charging it would defeat my goal of paying down my entire debt - business and personal - and I'm seeing real progress this year.

So, what are you doing this week? Are you allowing yourself to relax and enjoy the pre-holiday madness? Or are you, like me, going crazy from lack of work and that same sinking feeling that the new year won't deliver on those projects you've been courting? I have three irons in the fire (four if you count the one I suspect will never come about), and if any of them come through, I'm in great shape. Well, one already did, so I'm able to untense a few muscles, but not many (because we know that without the contract, the deal isn't a deal). If two come through, I'll be overworked (happily, joyfully, I'll work 12-hour days if need be!). If all of them work out, yikes! From these fingers to God's ear, know what I'm saying?

I read Anne Wayman's post over at The Golden Pencil yesterday about goal setting. I love her take on it. Please read it - but in essence, Anne says that setting goals because you feel you have to isn't the best approach. Set them because you want to, and after you've done some soul searching and contemplating.

It's true - we see a new year, a new beginning, and we run to it like lemmings without a true sense of direction. Let's set goals! Let's strive for greatness! Let's become famous! But without knowing what it would take to make us happy, what the hell good is a goal, anyway? You want to make a million dollars - great! Are you doing that in one year or one month? Are you changing your entire marketing and writing perspective, or are you going to expect to sell 300 times the articles you're selling now?

Anne makes a point about knowing how to set realistic goals. She says it in context to the beginning writer who may not know how to do so, but do any of us really understand how to formulate sensible goals for ourselves?

If you have any ideas, post 'em here. How do you set your goals, and how has that worked for you in the past?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reinventing the Writing Career

Let's continue our thought from yesterday. We've determined our ultimate goals and we're now fairly certain of what it is we must make annually in order to pay the bills, feed the family and put aside money for retirement, college expenses for the kids, savings, and that nest egg for your shore house down payment (or if you're really aggressive, the entire amount needed to buy it outright).

Got your number? Good. Now let's look for more work. And let's be really picky, because any low-paying job that sucks up all our time is going to keep us from our goal, which is to increase the income. So let's aim high.

Think about the things you could do as a writer. Articles, yes. But only if they pay a fair wage (which I consider to be at or very near to $1/word). How about ghostwriting? Yes again. But let's not stop at mere books. Why not ghostwrite articles? There are plenty of companies out there who have experts with lots to say and no time to write it down. Make friends with PR people. They're your source for all the execs in the company, and they know what projects would benefit the company. There's a ton of work waiting inside nearly all companies, and someone somewhere is willing to pay you to help with it.

How about writing manuals? Dull, you say? Sure, if you aren't creative. How many times have you opened a user manual and thought, "I could've written this!" So why don't you? It takes only a curiosity and an ability to translate functions into "people speak". I've written three of them. They're actually kind of fun, for you get to explain the way you would have in all those other badly written manuals how to best use this product. Not only that, not all manuals are for products. I wrote one once that was a sales training manual. It was a great experience because the added benefit was my learning some insider sales techniques that I still use.

Let's say you've been writing and editing since Hector was a pup. So why aren't you teaching? You can't? Why not? There are several things you could be teaching, some of which include holding writing workshops for executives and improving their writing skills, writer's workshops helping fellow writers just starting out get a better jump on their careers, classes at community colleges for budding novelists, etc.

One more thing - whatever jobs you are working on now, look at them. Really look at them. Is the payment you receive adequate for the output? Is it enough? How much do you make in one day at one of those gigs? Now's the time for some hard examination of what it is you're really doing in a day. If you're not charging enough, it's time to decide if that job can be salvaged with an increase in rates or dropped to make room for bigger and better. One thing I will say is any ongoing job that takes relatively no time to complete is one you should consider keeping to balance out your lean times. I know that goes against all we've just talked about, but the reality is there are some gigs that are so rudimentary that they really do warrant their existence in your project pile.

The marketing info from last week makes it easy for you to put together a better financial picture. So get going!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Are You Worth?

Like it or not, we are in the midst of a writing industry crisis. You don't see it, you say? Sure you do - you just don't recognize it.

It's in the low-paying jobs that have become more standard than those that pay you what you're worth. And you feed into it every time you accept a job that pays way below the rate you've determined as the one you need to earn to survive.

Or wait - have you done that yet? No? Tell me you're kidding. Tell me you at least have an idea in your head of what you want to charge. For how can you base your entire career, your financial existence, on ... what? Nothing more than the will to write?

Obviously, we all have some idea of what kind of income it would take to make us sleep better. Determining your magic number takes a bit of brainstorming, but once you understand where you are, where you want to be, and what your life will look like then, you'll start to see a bit more clearly what kind of income that's going to take.

First, ask yourself if you're making enough money now to survive. Yes? Good. Put that number down on paper and move on. No? Then you need to do a bit more homework. What's your income right now? What are your total annual expenses? Write them both down. If the income is less than the outgoing, you should write down the difference and circle it. That's the minimum amount of annual income you have to come up with. The minimum - meaning if you buy nothing at all, including groceries, you could pay your bills and just exist.

But we're not after merely existing, are we? We have that dream of a shore house or Italian villa in our heads, don't we? Dream away. Go on. On a separate piece of paper (or Word document), list it all. Dream big and bold. You want to retire by 50, or you want to be able to travel and turn your writing career into a travel writing career. It's your life - now's the time to say what you want.

Okay, back to numbers. Look at your dream list. What on there is a must-have? Choose at least one thing - that shore house in Jersey, perhaps - and attach a price tag to it. If you've chosen where I think you have - Ocean City - you're going to need at the very least about $500K for a house about six blocks from the water. If you're looking for oceanfront property, my hat's off to you. You're in the $2M+ range. Doable? Maybe, but that means your writing game plan is going to have to change radically, for those articles you're writing now for 25 cents a word aren't going to cut it. Just for fun, get a calculator and divide $2M by 25 cents. The answer is how many words you have to crank out in order to get that oceanfront condo. If the thought of writing 8 million words stifles you, congratulations. You've just had your first epiphany - you have to charge more in order to attain your goals.

In order to do that, you're going to have to rethink the work you take in. I know writers who will write only books. Great! But if ghostwriting or authoring one's own prose comes in spurts or the books aren't selling, it's time to change the game plan. I know I get a lot of grief for writing resumes when things are slow. However, I'm working and filling in gaps in projects, and last month that little bit of work netted me over $1,400. In a time when the world is thinking holiday vacation, I'm still cashing checks.

So what other projects can you take on? That's tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Unexpected Roadblocks

Okay, this one's weird. For the last few months, I've felt absolutely drained of energy. I attributed it to working a lot, and to my physical therapy schedule (three months to repair a sprained rotator cuff). But then the PT ended and the work slowed. And the lethargy continued. Huh? Menopause? PMS? Depression? What?

None of the above. My significant other found the source two nights ago - the furnace exhaust was blowing right into the basement. See, a few months ago, right about the time I began feeling extra tired, we had the AC unit replaced and the furnace repaired. A pipe was cut and replaced, but the joint was never sealed and in fact was blowing the exhaust - we figure carbon dioxide, but possibly even carbon monoxide - right into the basement, right under where I sit all day and work.

It was odd waking up yesterday morning and actually feeling rested. I was sleeping later, going to bed earlier, and he was feeling the same type of lethargy, only since he was able to leave for eight hours a day, it wasn't so pronounced in him.

He's definitely my savior. Thank God for our latest project or he wouldn't have been looking for ways to reroute the furnace exhaust.

Monday, December 10, 2007

When All Else Fails, Get a Coach

You've tried all the stuff below, yet for some reason one or two of the steps are either not working or are impossible for you to get around to doing, make you cringe in fear, don't sit well, feels like begging, etc. Maybe you need to work around those blocks with someone who knows how to help.

I had the very distinct pleasure of taking part in one of Lisa Gates' introductory telecoaching courses last week. I will admit openly to knowing exactly what I need to do in order to succeed, but at being lousy on the follow-through. Lisa's coaching methods help, and yet they don't. Let me explain - she knows exactly what she's doing, and she can lead you to the right answers. She doesn't tell you directly what to do, but rather asks you pertinent questions that turn on lightbulbs inside your brain, and then she applies "homework" that gets you moving in the right direction.

At the very least, Lisa's courses are inspiration to get off your duff. Yet you will come away with much more from it than just inspiration - you'll come away feeling like you can finally get over that speed bump that's been slowing you down.

Lucky for you Lisa is holding more free introductory telecoaching courses this month. Check out her website for more info.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Plan the Work, Work the Plan

This week's info is useful to you in only one case - if you actually do any of it consistently. I don't care if you market to seven people weekly or seventy people. What I do care about is if you're going to map out a plan of any sort and follow through.

See, we writers aren't really big on the follow-through part of marketing. We're all for sending out brochures and emails, or applying for jobs blindly. But somewhere in our heads we have the notion that we can't market beyond that, that we're creatives, dammit, and we shouldn't be expected to put ourselves through all this for our craft!

Hogwash. If you can convince yourself to get up in the morning and meet someone else's deadline, you can surely meet your own.

New Clients
So let's recap a bit. Your plan should include locating new clients. I know you hate searching, but look at each one as a potential paycheck and suddenly the search is a bit less hateful, isn't it? Like I said before, seven or seventy - it's whatever number of people you feel comfortable contacting, and the number you can realistically call back within a week. If you start with 150, that's great, but you'd better have time and patience enough to dial those 150 numbers or you're going to lose interest and stop marketing altogether. For now, keep it small.

Stuff You'll Send
Next comes your marketing materials. If brochures seem a bit too daunting for you (whatever will you say?, you wonder), try a postcard mailer. I would recommend anything that allows you to include a business card/Rolodex card, but any communication at this point is better than nothing.

Following Up
Onward to the follow-up. Please call. I know it's a pain - I hate it myself - but it really does give you a more realistic presence to the person on the other end of the phone. Imagine this - you receive a really nice brochure in the mail for a service that's kind of interesting to you. You set it aside to follow up. The next day, more mail comes in, and the next day, and soon you've forgotten about that brochure. You may come across it again and wonder why you never followed through, or you could just chuck it since the appeal that was once there doesn't quite hit you anymore.

Okay, now let's suppose that same brochure comes in. You set it aside. But... in a few days, your phone is ringing and someone is reminding you it's there. You remembered it now, and you may even be able to locate it again. The person on the other end is about to make a sale, or may make on in the future. Plus now you have someone who can answer your questions.

Okay, so you may not buy right away, but if this person does what you as a writer should do next - continue marketing indefinitely - you might at some point decide to buy.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat
That's our last step - ongoing marketing. Like I said earlier in the week, this is an indefinite process of contacting your targeted list of customers regularly (see why you don't want to start with 150 names now?).

That begs the question - when you make the sale, what then? Do you still focus all that marketing on that client? Somewhat. What I do is I move them to a different list - current clients. These people get communication from me, but not as often. They've already purchased my services, so they don't have to be sold on the concept any longer. They need to be sold on my availability and their need of me. Huh? That just means I will keep in front of them regularly and be a bit more informal - "Hi, hope you're doing well. I had some free time the next few weeks and wondered if there were any projects you needed help with." These folks also get "Googled" with alerts - an easy way to stay top-of-mind with them without asking for work.

Like it or not, we're all salespeople. We have to market just like the people who sell products for a living. If you start looking at your marketing as a free service - you're letting them know you exist and that you can help them - it will seem a lot less like begging and a lot more like providing a useful service to a like-minded business person.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Marketing 101: Miscellaneous, Must-Know Stuff About Marketing

Not every marketing technique fits into a specific category, or it deserves another mention. Here are a few posts from the past that can help you with your marketing.

The Rule of Seven :This attempts to answer the obvious question "How many marketing kits should I send out?" Adapt it to fit whatever you can manage.

Brainless Networking: Stuff you can do every day to marketing your business.

Marketing tips: More stuff to help you get the word out.

Posts of others:

Jennifer’s First Year reflections: Her methods categorically exclude cold calling, which is fine. It’s not for everyone, and it’s a reminder that what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.

Must-Read Marketing Articles: Susan Johnson pulled this list together for us. Thanks, Susan!

Discover the Commercial Market: Peter Bowerman’s guest article at Anne Wayman’s About Freelance Writing site.

Marketing is all of these things plus anything you can think up that drums up business. Don’t be afraid to be creative – after all, that’s your job.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Marketing 101: Ongoing Marketing

Yesterday’s post was a bit “thick” with information, so today’s will be a bit leaner. The goal isn’t to overwhelm, but to give you a bit of a game plan.

We’ve established our client list, mailed our first communication, followed up with phone calls, and now we’re ready to keep these people in the loop. There are a number of ways to do this that will cost you either minimal amounts of cash or none at all.

Schedule It
Every two months you should plan to contact everyone on your list. Make note of it in your Outlook calendar, and plan now for things to include in future mailings. Here are some ideas:

- Coupon for 10% off.
- Referral bonus: 25% off for referring a customer who ultimately hires you.
- List of upcoming conferences/shows (try six months out and beyond) and a 10% off discount for those who sign up before a certain date to have conference-related work scheduled.
- A one-page, two-sided newsletter with useful writing tips for your clients.
- Announcement of your upcoming free webcast.
- A free chapter from your latest ebook that’s waiting for them at your (newly revamped) website.

Remember in all communications that the way to attract attention is to provide some benefit to the recipient. You could wax on all day about how fabulous you are, but why not up the odds by giving the recipient something he/she can use? Who doesn’t like a discount?

Now Comes Email
Now that we’ve established that pattern, let’s see to some email marketing. Now, we don’t want to be a pest, so remember to keep any communication with potential clients to a minimum, and always include an opt-out phrase that allows them to tell you they don’t want to receive anything from you (it is the law, after all). I use the following:

This email is intended as informational. However, we respect your privacy. If you do not wish to receive further emails, please reply to this message with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

An email from you should contain useful information. You can approach this in a few different ways. You could make an e-newsletter (no attachments if you can help it) that describes breaking news in the industry; one that again gives them useful information for better handling their communications (internally and externally); or notice of a special price break you’re offering. In terms of when to send these emails – again, go on a two-month schedule, but send them one month after you’ve sent the snail mail correspondence. This keeps your name in front of these people with less lag time between communications and makes your name a bit more familiar.

Note: Be careful sending group emails, for not everyone wants to be listed in the “To” subject line for the world to see. I set up a Group in Outlook and that goes in the BCC column for an extra measure of security. The problem you may run into with this method is that some emails are set up to ask for verification or worse, to reject any message sent to a group. It’s easily avoided by sending directly to the intended recipient, but if you have 50 or more recipients, it becomes too time-consuming.

Here’s another email tactic that works well, as you’re not selling a single thing: set up Google Alerts for clients on your list and more importantly, for news in their particular industry. Google will then send you periodic notices whenever a news item or the client’s name appears online. That information is your reason to once again contact them. It can be as simple as “Hey, I saw this and thought you might be interested” or “I saw you mentioned in this article – congratulations!” With the onslaught of viruses being mailed to folks, you have to be careful how you approach this as you don’t want to scare your client into thinking that link you just sent is a potential virus. Instead, try forwarding the Google Alert directly to the client with your message at the top. If you feel uneasy sending too much email, print it out and mail it to the client with a brief note and yes, another business card.

Beyond Email – Fun Communication
Holiday coming? A great time to offer a discount or, as Jennifer at Catalyst Blogger suggests, send a holiday card. It can be a simple card wishing them well and including your business card/Rolodex card. The idea is to build a brand presence (yes, you are a brand now) with that potential client.

You could also print out that Google Alert and story instead of emailing it and send it over with a hand-written note. Anything that personalizes the communication for the client is going to score bigger points than a blanket group communication would.

Marketing, like everything else, requires consistent effort in order for it to be successful. It’s a strategy. Treat it as such. If your attempts to secure business are rejected, remember it’s not you who’s being rejected. It’s that your services aren’t needed at the moment. Shake it off, move on, and market frequently.

Tomorrow: Miscellaneous, Must-Know Stuff About Marketing

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Marketing 101: The Approach

Now that you’ve located your potential clients, it’s time to make contact. But how? I would strongly advise against contacting folks only through email. Why? Emails are easy to delete and even easier to filter into a Spam box. You need to make sure someone at the appropriate level sees it. We’ll be using email, but not right away.

Finding Contacts
Actually, the first step is to locate the right person for your information. This info may be readily available on the websites you’ve visited, but if not, find a phone number and call and ask who makes the decisions on contract work. Get a name and a title. Then get busy.

What to Send
You’ll be mailing your information to these people. What to include: a brochure (easy to make thanks to any number of publishing programs – even Word can handle a rudimentary brochure), a business card (I get mine at VistaPrint.com, which are free for the cost of shipping – I pay extra for a nice logo), and if you’re feeling especially generous, a Rolodex card. I get mine at Staples and they make a great impression, as well as give folks a reason to save your information.

Brochure basics: Your services, the benefits of using your services, and your contact information. I would not recommend any pricing information. Much of this work is going to be priced based on your estimate of how long it will take you to complete the job (and you’re going to charge at least $100 an hour, so let’s not scare them off just yet). If you need more help, pick up a copy of Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer and take a look at his examples.

If you are interested in a cohesive look, you can upload your brochure to VistaPrint and have the same logo on it that your cards have. Their pricing is really incredible and the compliments you’ll receive make it worth the nominal price. Plus it’s all a business deduction, so invest in your business, will ya?

Mail it Off!
On to mailing. Once you’ve got your materials together, make a label document with your clients’ addresses in it. This will save you doing it when you continue to market to these people, for these are not one-shot deals, but your ongoing list of targeted clients. Remember that it takes a person three or four times seeing your name to recognize it and at least 14 times to remember it. Stay in front of them.

Dialing for Dollars
Mail ‘em out. Wait seven days. Now call them. Go on. Don’t be shy. Call them and say something like this:

“Hi, XXX. My name is YYY. About a week ago I sent over a brochure describing my writing services. I offer writing, editing, proofreading and consulting services. I was wondering if you’d seen it and if you had any questions.” Pause. Then say, “Are there any projects currently that I might be able to help with?” If the answer is no, say, “I understand. Still, I would like to visit with you in person to gauge how I can help your company. May I treat you to lunch, or would you like to meet onsite?” If the answer is still no, say, “Okay, I appreciate the time you’ve given me. If I can help you at any time, please don’t hesitate to call or email me.” Hang up. Grab a notecard (of your choosing, though many use Thank You cards), and immediately write a note thanking that client for speaking to you, and reiterate your desire to help him or her if the need arises. Include another business card.

Repeat the process in two months.

For every twenty calls you make, you may get lucky enough to get one job immediately. That's okay. While the end goal is work, the process is to build relationships with what will most likely be future clients. When do you stop marketing to them? Never. They may say no to you for the next ten years, but in year eleven, the owner may want to write a book and will come looking for a writer. Who better than the writer who never gave up?

You will find people who flat-out refuse you because they have staff writers. Say “I’m glad to hear that. Should you ever need to fill a gap when someone goes on vacation, I’d be happy to help.”

There will belligerent ones who will sound totally disgusted to have to talk with you or will hang up on you altogether. Fine. They deserve the same cordiality no matter what they say. Unless they literally light you on fire, you’re going to smile as you say “thank you” and then bitch wildly after you hang up. They still get a “Thank You” card, for you never know what kind of day your call interrupted. You may never get any business from these people, but you’re leaving a better impression for trying and for remaining professional. Even the a-holes talk to their network of colleagues, so keep in mind how many people could hear about you secondhand and form an impression. Make it a good one.

Tomorrow: Ongoing Marketing

Monday, December 03, 2007

Marketing 101: Finding the Clients

We’ve already established that we’re not finding work online. Just get that idea out of your head right now. So, that begs the next question – where are we finding them? Well, er… online.

Let me clarify – we’re not finding jobs online anymore. But the clients are there, and they are waiting for us to locate them and convince them they need us.

But you shouldn’t charge willy-nilly online and choose just any random client. You need a game plan, a process by which you will locate that client and subsequently pitch to them. And you need to understand that online is not your only hunting ground - everywhere you go, everything you read, everything you overhear is a lead. So is your newspaper. So is your phone book. So is your Chamber of Commerce meet-and-greet.

I must say right here that if you decide upfront to special in a niche area, your search will be infinitely easier than if you decide general is the way to go. By this I mean find an industry or a pocket of an industry that has always interested you. Like shoes? Did you know there are associations, publications and conferences all dealing with shoes? These publications target the wholesalers and retailers, so you’ll need to rethink your approach. It’s not enough to love buying shoes – you have to want to know the trends in selling and in marketing them in order to specialize in them.

Some of you may be interested in trade writing, such as writing for sales professionals or real estate professionals. Start with the publications in the industry of your choice. Scan the online ads on that site, and look for the golden nugget – the Resource Guide. Most trade magazines have these supplements that list tons of advertisers – all of whom are vendors who may need a press release, a media kit, a white paper, etc., etc.

Still, if you want to market more generally (remember, I warned you), you can start with advertising and marketing agencies. It may help to start locally, as you can stop in on occasion and meet with the management or owner. It makes you a known entity rather than an expendable Internet contact. For those agencies that aren’t afraid to work with remote consultants, you could score work in nearly any city in the world.

If you’re looking for magazine work, there is no shortage of places to look. I keep a Writer’s Market subscription, but even WM doesn’t contain all the markets available. Try this handy trick: in your search engine, type the words “writer’s guidelines” or “editorial guidelines”. You’ll be surprised at how many markets exist that you’ve never heard of or considered.

If you’re willing to brainstorm and identify specific interests that you could turn into a client list, you’ll have no shortage of possibilities, and no shortage of potential work.

Tomorrow: The Approach

It's Like Winning the Lottery Only Better

You guys who have shlepped along with me for a while now probably get that this blog is about sharing ideas and helping each other. Well, I whine too, but the sharing is right up there at the top.

It's wonderful when someone else sees it. Imagine my shock when Maria Schneider over at Writer's Digest blog named this very blog to her blog roll. Color me tickled! More, she went on to say this blog is the "little black dress" of her blogroll. For a girl whose second passion is fashion, that was music to my ears.

Here's the write up. Thanks for your kudos, Maria!
Words on the Page