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Friday, March 30, 2012

Writing Tool #1: Perseverence

What I'm reading: Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
What's on the iPod: Look Around by Red Hot Chili Peppers



Yesterday I asked everyone what they thought freelancers needed in order to adopt a better freelance mindset. Wow. Such great ideas! I thought it might be nice to examine each one. Today's comes from Cathy Miller, super blogger, super writer, and super friend. She even spelled it out in big letters: PERSEVERANCE.

Let's take my current marketing efforts as an example. I'm slogging through a conference exhibitor list, locating the right person to contact (or any person, in some cases), sending out emailed letters of introduction, and trying to arrange meetings while at the conference. Some days I get no response whatsoever. Other days I'm still sending out notes as the responses are coming in.

Why perseverance matters -- If I'd let last year's results dictate my marketing, I may not have bothered this year. While I did get five appointments lined up, only one company eventually gave me any work, and it was just enough to pay for the conference. I heard a lot more silence from those I'd attempted to contact than I received any positive response.

This year, I decided to continue on what I felt was a great first-time success rate. (Okay, I'm optimistic to a fault.) So I started six months ago, and made sure to follow up every six weeks with the people I'd contacted, plus I added more people to my list each week or so.

The results: Right now I have 12 meetings lined up and six "Sure, stop by our booth" invitations to follow up on. Two are with clients I'm already in negotiations with.

Plus I'm going to more hospitality suites and parties to increase the mingling. The goal is name/face recognition.

Each day, things are going to look different. Monday, I couldn't get anyone to respond to my emails. Yesterday, there were seven responses. If I'd let Monday's results dictate, I'd have given up too soon.

Also, results from year to year will vary. Last year, we all struggled through a bland economy or our clients' perceptions of the economy, as the case may be. This year, things are different.

Where has perseverance paid off for you?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

That Freelance Mindset

What I'm reading: The Hamlet by William Faulkner
What I'm listening to: The Kids are Ready to Die by The Airborne Toxic Event



I spent the better part of yesterday marketing. The conference is close, and I'm trying to reach at least 100 of the 2,500 vendors. That's my goal. If I can connect with even 25 of them, that's 25 more people I know and will see at the conference each year.

I was talking with a few folks who won't be at the conference, but whom I've met via that same show. One has connections to a publication I'd like to write for, and she graciously offered to introduce me to the editor. The other is a chum who used to sit at my desk before I was hired as senior editor. He's working for another magazine, one I write for occasionally. I intend to see him during the show and hang out. Anyone who shows up at work wearing a cape just to see how far he can push the limits is okay in my book.

As I worked at getting the contact list built, I realized just how committed I was to making this marketing method work. Sure, it will be mostly networking, but even that kind of contact creates opportunity. I was talking with a writer friend too, and we realized that there are some traits that separate the successful writers from the ones that will struggle throughout their careers. These traits are part of the freelance mindset, and they can make your job so much easier once you tap into them.

Here's what I think a successful freelancer needs:

Confidence. Shrinking violets need not apply. Instead, they need to fake confidence until it becomes something they own. If you're shy about asking for work or sticking with your price, freelancing will be difficult or impossible for you.

Courage. It takes courage to commit to full-time freelancing. You have to have the strength to work without a back-up job, to make the decisions (even the bad ones) on your own, and learn the lessons that help you grow.

An eye for details. It's not all about writing. It's about marketing, relationship building, customer service, invoicing, collection, and record-keeping. You have to be willing to own the business you've just taken on.

Follow-through. If you're full of ideas, great! If those ideas never make it out of your brain, bad. Act on ideas as they formulate. Work out how you'll implement them. If you intend to market, follow through and do it properly and completely. Also, if you ask for advice and it's good advice, don't wait years to take it. Inertia is the longest, most painful way of killing your business.

Healthy skepticism. There are plenty of snake-oil salespeople in the Internet realm. There are also enough potential clients looking to get everything for the lowest price possible. There are also too many self-professed gurus, experts, and top blogger wanna-bes lining up to announce the end of freelancing, the answer to all your woes (for a price), and the ONLY way to do the freelancing method-du-jour. Uncap your inner cynic, hold firm on contracts and your rates, and trust in your own reality rather than a manufactured one.

What do you think belongs in a freelance mindset?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Worth-inducing Wednesday

Still waiting for any of the six promised projects to show up. Any day now, but let's hope not all of them at once. Meantime, I kept busy yesterday with more marketing. I now have eight meetings lined up for the conference,and a few more on the way. I've lined up enough "stop by your booth" meetings to fill those hours between other meetings. It pays to be organized.

CatalystBlogger Jen Williamson has a neat post up this week on Landing Ongoing Clients. It's a great reminder that in order to stay busy, you have to keep the clients open to more projects.

Her one point -- Know where the work is -- sounds harder than it actually is. Jen uses the example of SEO gigs, but let's suppose you're wanting to write for a new magazine or you have this great idea, but you're not sure where to look.

Time to know where the work is.

Last week's Trade Magazine Webinar showed participants not only how, but where to find magazines in any particular industry. It doesn't have to be a trade magazine -- you can find a fit for your idea fairly easily if you know where to look.

The Google Way. Open the browser. Type in "writer's guidelines" if you simply want to browse, or go more specific. Try your topic. Let's assume you're writing about buying the right cell phone. Type "cell phone reviews" into your search engine. Now look for magazines and online publications, not those aggregate sites that are in it strictly for ad revenue. What magazines/online sites are printing these ideas already? Start researching there.

The Association Way. If it's a trade (and sometimes even if it's not), there's almost always an association connected to that industry. Type in "mobile technology association" or "cell phone users society." What comes up? Don't discount some of the results simply because they're not associations or actual societies. You'd be surprised what kind of research appears in these types of searches. Those are great for cementing your idea with an editor. Also, don't forget the associations themselves. What kind of research or writing do they need around these topics?

The Corporate Way. Oh, there are plenty of cell phone manufacturers, companies, and retailers who need case studies, white papers, and blog posts. Go on. Check them out, and definitely query them with your idea (framed to their particular needs, of course).

The Direct-to-Consumer Way. There are any number of ways in which cell phone information (or any other information) is conveyed to consumers. One is the direct-to-consumer way. Often tied to the pharmaceutical industry, the D2C method of advertising has morphed into things like newsletters sent from say insurance agents to their customers or from real estate agents to the neighbors of their latest clients. Someone has to write the copy. If you know a retailer or company with its own blog or newsletter, pitch your idea to them.

How do you know where the work is?
Where do you look?
Is there a particular method of searching you do in order to find clients?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why They Don't Hire You

Yesterday was fruitful. I was able to get a bit more marketing done than usual, and because the projects I expect aren't in yet, I had some free time to read around the forums and blogs.

To some extent, that's a learning experience. However, there's always one. Maybe I'm more excitable than most people, but I react rather strongly to writers making the same mistakes over and over. These are people touting themselves as "professionals" or my least favorite word "seasoned." You're not a casserole, people. Stop using that word to mean experienced. /rant

I hear plenty of writers saying that clients aren't hiring, that they've tried "everything" and can't get a break.... fill in the blank. There are as many statements of finality or frustration (usually both) as there are writers to speak them. Yet it often doesn't take much to get to what the real issue is. Here are a few of the more common reasons why you're not getting hired:

You seem desperate. I watched with resigned horror as yet again someone posted a ridiculously low-paying gig on a forum and writers lined up to beg for the job. While it may seem better that this place is offering $25 an article, there were no more details. How long were the articles? How much research is expected? How much work is involved? Is there a chance to negotiate a better rate? Frankly, judging just from the lines of writers tripping over each other to get the gig, I'd say that last question has already been answered.

You're not following directions. I've witnessed this both firsthand and secondhand -- the listing states clearly the instructions for responding. Yet the notes that come in don't follow the directions at all. I posted an ad for help once. I turned down people I know because they didn't send me their resume, two samples, nor did they email me directly instead of responding to the thread. One sent a note that said, "What do you need?" Others sent notes saying "Hire me because I know what I'm doing" yet didn't send any proof. One didn't send samples, and acted like he was doing me a favor. Only one person -- the one I hired -- followed directions to the letter (they weren't hard, either). She turned out to be conscientious, reliable, and good. Be like her -- follow directions.

Your query is off -- way off. I've seen some queries that read like books. Great if it's for a book, but these were magazine queries. I've also seen queries that withhold the "killer intro" for fear the writer give up all the secrets. Your editor is your first reader -- hook them with that killer beginning! Make sure your query states your idea clearly, gives just enough information to show the topic, shows the direction you're going, and shows what experience you have to pull it off.

You're willing to compromise too much too quickly. I've read people lamenting how their clients are mistreating them -- expecting the world, not paying for anything.... yet these are writers who said yes to a job that didn't fit, to conditions that weren't right, and to clients who were cracking whips over their heads. You get what you agree to.

You don't understand them. Clients want to work with people who will partner with them. They want to know you get their business, their publication, their direction. If you come steaming at them with ideas that are quirky when they're aiming for authoritative, they're going elsewhere. Put it into perspective -- would you stand for an interview subject telling you what he thinks you need to write about instead of what you've been assigned to write about? No? Then don't expect clients to adapt to your thinking. They know their businesses best.

You're not congenial. Just because they need a writer and you write doesn't mean you're automatically hired. You have to build a relationship. That relationship also cements your reputation with that client, which means you could be extending your clientele by securing some referrals. Only once was I witness to a writer letting loose on a client, calling her unprofessional and chastising her for keeping us both waiting in a phone call (she'd missed the first two entirely). While he was absolutely correct in his assessment, he lost the gig (not a loss, in his or my opinion), and he cemented a picture of himself in her mind that he was intolerable. Not true, but there went any chance of referral.

You're not looking. How will they know you're there if you're not telling them? You must market. Anyone who knows me knows I hate absolute terms, but that is the only absolute I live by. You have to be there -- consistently -- in order to get the job.

What ways do you see writers sabotaging their chances?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Open Thread: What's Part of Your Job Do You Like Least?

How was the weekend? Mine was decent enough. It rained like mad here on Saturday, but it was needed. I did manage to get out and get groceries before we headed to New Jersey for meditation. Let me tell you, hauling groceries around in the rain is the fastest way to kill a good mood. It doesn't help that my favorite store often decides suddenly to stop carrying things I've been buying there for years. I can understand why egg replacer isn't top of their list, but frozen edamame? I'm definitely not the only person in town eating it (we have an eclectic population, many of whom are vegetarians).

Yesterday we again tackled the lawn, which is slowly winning the battle. We pulled up whitlow grass for hours and barely made a dent in the lawn. He gave up around 5 pm and mowed it down in the back of the yard. And still we have some left to tackle. It's days like that where I'd love to call a lawn service and have just one shot of chemicals. Just one. But the birds and earthworms don't need one more dose of poison, so we'll just keep plucking.

As I started my Schedule C yesterday, I thought about those things in my career that I have to do that I don't like doing. Taxes are my worst, for sure, but I've become comfortable with the process, at least, which means I keep better records, which means tax time is a tad more organized. But it is still a pretty crummy job.

There are tasks we do that we don't want to do. Some of it -- like taxes -- we can outsource, but only to the extent that someone else does the adding and subtracting. We still have to keep records. I don't like cold calls. I truly don't like transcribing interviews (which led me to come up with a "system"). I'm not keen on chasing down late invoices.

What about you? What is your least favorite part of the job?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thoughtless Marketing

Great webinar last night! Thanks to all participants for attending the Trade Magazine webinar, and for the lively discussions! If you missed it, fear not! The discussion continues over on the Five Buck Writer's Forum. For the price of a caramel macchiato, you can become a forum member.

As I was arranging meetings for the upcoming conference and sending out more letters of introduction, I thought about how much marketing I've done in just the last few weeks. Let's just say my argument that marketing 50 percent of your day (one I made just a week or so ago) was blown out the window. I spent nearly all my time yesterday marketing. I have this gift of a few days without projects, so I'm happy to devote it to making more connections.

But I was thinking about marketing I do without realizing I'm doing it. Well, I do know I market, but the passive stuff -- what I call thoughtless marketing -- really is marketing that happens without much input from me. You probably do it, too. Here are some ways in which you can market without thinking about it:

Entrecard. Look to the left here. See that little box about halfway down the page? That's an ad for another blog -- a free ad. Entrecard is a great way to spread word about your blog. It costs you nothing.

Keywords. Get those keywords working in your copy. You write about the same topics, right? Why not include one or two of those same phrases in a blog post? It's an easy way to get noticed in search results.

Twitter. You may think you're only saying hello and retweeting posts for fun. The more your name gets attached to certain hash tags and topics, the better your chances of being noticed by clients.

LinkedIn Forums. I love these little repositories of clients, for where else can you weigh in on a topic and have a discussion with potential clients without asking for the job? If there's an industry or a focus you like, it's there. If not, create it.

Blog comments. I've found some key contacts via blog comments, so who's to say people aren't finding me in the same way? Go on, mingle. You'd be surprised who's paying attention.

Your website. In the past three weeks I've had five inquiries from the contact form on my website. If you don't think you need a website, imagine how many people aren't contacting you because they don't know how.

Email signature. I have three -- one that promotes the Five Buck Writer's Forum, one that promotes a client I consult with, and one that promotes just me. If you have a website or a weblog, include the link on all your outgoing mail.

Online directories. I've had clients contact me because I was listed in Twellow.com, LinkedIn, Ryze (remember that one?) and even Facebook. Put your name and at least one form of contact out there.

What kinds of thoughtless marketing do you engage in?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Questionable Phrases

Good day yesterday -- I put out a lot of feelers for the upcoming trade show and received a lot of positive response. My calendar is filling up, and I've decided to attend as many cocktail events as possible. That's where the real mingling happens.

I worked with a client yesterday who started the conversation by sharing kind words about my work on his project. Then he showed me exactly why he will become a favorite client. We were going over small changes to the copy, and his changes reflected moderation. He didn't want to claim more than he was delivering. Thank you. That's a rare quality in a world of shouting ads that beg for your attention. His honesty in print is going to be rewarded because those changes reflect that honesty. Amen.

I had a conversation with a potential client yesterday that nearly didn't happen. There are some phrases that, when used, send up red flags. However, when talking it over with another writer, I found that my red flag isn't necessarily everyone else's. Still, there are phrases and wording used that may be a sign of wasted time or low, low payments. Here are some to be aware of:

We need several articles. While this may mean a new publication or website, it could also mean "We need ongoing piles of articles at bulk rates."

All work must pass Copyscape. That's wonderful that someone wants original content. What isn't wonderful is this could also mean "We aren't paying enough for you to waste time creating stuff from scratch." If you didn't already know this, rewriting or "updating" original copy is still stealing.

We expect original content. It could be they've been burned by the content-mill crowd who does the "updating" mentioned above. Or it could be that they're not picky, not editing, and expecting you to carry the burden of blame should they get into copyright trouble.

It's an easy job for the right person. The positive -- well, to be honest, I've never seen this as a positive, for it's often attached to people with high expectations, low budgets, and thoughts of "If it's not exactly what we want, we won't pay." That's one phrase that would make me walk away without question.

What phrases have you heard that could hold double meaning?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Freelance Truths

Nice day yesterday. I spent a good deal of time contacting conference attendees to get some meetings lined up. Progress is good, and I expect to have a full calendar soon. I did get one weird response to my letter of inquiry -- the marketing person, who obviously hadn't read my note, said she'd never attended the show and I must have her confused with someone else. What I'd asked her is if she was going to attend and if so, would she have time to meet? It was fun trying to explain again why I'd written to her. At that point, I figured I didn't really need to meet with her, you know?

The exchange amplifies what I've always believed to be a freelance truth --

You can be the best writer and communicator on the planet, and yet there will always be someone who won't know what you're saying. Whenever I encounter clients who don't click or aren't understanding me, I just repeat that not everyone fits.

There are some other freelance truths I've come across. See if you agree:

If it's Friday, the project will come in at 4 and be due on Monday morning. Not that you have to agree to it, but I'm betting you've had at least one of these urgencies in your career. Just remember lack of planning on the client's part isn't your emergency unless you're paid a premium to put out that fire.

A strong backbone begets a strong business attitude. It's so easy to say "Forget it" when chasing an overdue invoice and an absentee client. It's just as easy to apologize for everything whether it's your fault or not. Both bad habits. Instead, have a system for invoice collection and make sure you apologize only when you've done something worthy of an apology.

Not all clients will love you. It's not going to be your fault every time, either. In fact, most of the time you won't click for reasons beyond your work -- bad communication, a client with a hidden agenda, your own personal issues getting in the way, a freeloader wanting work for free, personality differences, communication differences.... It's okay to say goodbye to a client because you're not meshing.

You will eventually learn how to save. If I can, you can. I took part in last year's International Freelancers Day, and one of the presenters gave an easy three-step process for saving for emergencies, retirement, and fun stuff. I started using the system that same week. The result? A healthy bank account, a nicer IRA, and enough money left over should a client not pay a bill. The key -- pay yourself first. Find a percentage to divert to each of these areas before you deposit the check. Dole it out in your head and on paper, then transfer it where it needs to go. It works.

Accountability works. Another thing that works is answering to someone else about what you're doing. Employees have bosses, but freelancers? Beyond a client here and there, there's no one making sure we're earning what we intend/need to earn. Get an accountability partner for whatever piece of your business you need -- earnings, marketing, client relations, etc. You'll be surprised how knowing you have to check in keeps you on track.

You will work longer and harder than you would for an employer. If Most of us have worked for an employer, and while those experiences are often mixtures of fulfillment and frustration, they're also 9-to-5 (or the new "normal" of 9-to-5:30). You don't work every minute (meetings, coffee breaks, mingling with coworkers....). Nor will you in a freelance career, but because the office is right in front of you, it's easy to work during what would be a commute, work before and after dinner, get an early start, etc. I put in an average of 9 hours a day. Those days are filled with both work and marketing.

What are your freelance truths?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Writers Need a Website

Happy Spring!

Yesterday was one of those glorious days where winter was nowhere to be found. Ironically, that's pretty much how winter was here this year, so it was no surprise to have 78 degrees, blazing sunshine, and daffodils gleaming in the sun. Oh yes, I played hookie. I did some writing on a manuscript in the morning, then spent a long lunchtime outdoors.

Over on the Five Buck Writer's Forum, we're discussing, among other things, what a writer should do in order to have a web presence. Websites were mentioned, as were blogs. I'm not a big fan of thinking all writers need blogs -- clearly, many don't want them, nor do they want to be tied to them. It's work to blog every day.

Websites, however, are a different story. If you don't have one and you can still conduct business, great. I just wonder how much business isn't coming your way because clients can't find you.

In my opinion, you do need a website. Here's why:

They're easily accessible portfolios. Where else can you show your clients your samples without having to print them, copy them, mail them, or fax them? Much of your work will probably be online already. If not, it's quite easy to create a PDF and upload it to your site.

They're proof that you're serious. If your potential corporate client says "What's your URL? We want to see your samples" and you say "Sorry, I don't have a website", will that kill the deal? Maybe. Clients work with writers who are serious about their business, and they want to work with people willing to invest in their image.

They show you're permanent. Without a website, you look like you've started working yesterday. You look like you're not giving your business enough confidence to spend about $30 and change annually.

They're cheap. Seriously. I registered a business blog site yesterday that cost me $19 and change for the site hosting and the domain. The template is free. With a few hours of work, you could be online tomorrow.

They're better ways for clients to get in touch. I received three emails through my site's contact form in the last three weeks. These are clients who wouldn't have found me otherwise. How would they know that you write, that you're living where you are, and that you have been working in the industry as long as you have?

Writers, why do you need a website?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Return to Reality

There's something about the anticipation of an event that sends you into this other-worldly state. That's how it was for me this year with St. Patrick's Day. Having had several wonderful celebrations at my favorite pub, I expected no less this year.

Let's just say there are several factors that go into creating a wonderful experience. First, the mood of the place. Second, the company you keep. Third, the company you meet. Fourth, the planning of the people running the place. If any one of those is off, there goes the experience.

Things were off from the start. We arrived at opening (9 am) and we walked into the main room to find all the chairs and most of the tables gone. Since this is a narrow room with a raised platform at the far end, that leaves little room for anyone planning to sit and eat. Not that they don't have three floors and another separate section on the other side of the main floor for dining, but it was off-putting.

Daughter and I found a spot at the bar -- one of only five barstools. Very, very odd. But we were determined to have a good time. We ordered breakfast, then somewhere around 10:30 I ordered my first drink. Must eat first lest we ruin the entire day.

It was about 30 minutes later when I realized (and yes, call me a rube for not knowing this already) that any eye contact whatsoever -- even an errant glance over someone's head to see the tv screen behind him -- is considered an invitation. That's when the person at the other end of the bar, who proclaimed he'd just started his fourth beer, decided to come say hello. That's fine, but it's obvious his intent. He tried making small talk, to which I replied, "Yes, my husband thinks we're a little crazy to get up so early to be here."

After a few awkward sentences of his trying to mask whatever drunken disappointment he may have been feeling, he excused himself and disappeared. I almost felt bad for him. Almost. Who I didn't feel bad for was the man who, after even more beers, kept honing in on Daughter, who cried "shit!" the minute she inadvertently looked up to get the waitress' attention and instead made eye contact. Sure enough, he started over. Luckily for her, her girlfriend showed up at that very second, saving her an embarrassing moment. He hovered for a minute, then left. However, he did follow her around the restaurant at one point. (I told her to just let it happen and tell him she wasn't interested.)

When husband showed up, we retreated to the second floor for food. At this point last year, there had been four bands and several pipe bands wandering through. This year, the budget must have sucked, for we had to listen to one band (and a pretty lame one) for three hours. We were ready to go upstairs. We had a late lunch to a piper and some amazing dancers, but by then our moods were soured. Where last year we had tons of fun with lots of people willing to laugh, share tables, and dance, this year we had people on either side of us who kept to themselves despite smiles and comments on how nice their hats were. They were more interested in the hockey game on tv than the party all around them. Mind you, I like my hockey, but there are times when other things trump that. Really.

So we were home by 4 pm. Not a bad time, but not fantastic. I'll be talking with the manager (and maybe the owner) about how uninviting the setup was and how disappointing it was to not have more entertainment. The DJ was good, but he did nothing to ramp up the crowd.

We came home. We enjoyed the gorgeous afternoon, and then I took a nap. A nice day. Not ideal, but nice. Nice enough.

How was your weekend? Did you get to celebrate at all?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Writerly Resources

Had a fantastic webinar session yesterday! We covered a lot of ground, and there's a lot more to cover in our next session. It's not too late for you to join -- we recorded this session, and we'll have handouts at the end.

Oh, happy day! Tomorrow is my favorite day of the year (Faith and Begorrah!), and it's the sixth anniversary of this blog. Because I started this blog with little direction and my own career was still unsteady, I thought it appropriate to celebrate my blog-iversary with some of the neatest resources out there for writers. Free resources. Fantastic information that can help you build, rebuild, or redirect your business and increase your potential.

Here are some of my favorite online resources:

Power Words for Business Writing. This is why you should be following Cathy Miller's every move. She provides a great list of words to help you ramp up your copy.

Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator. Jenn Mattern's tried-and-true calculator is a must for any writer trying to determine their hourly rate.

Keyword Density Analyzer. Have I mentioned how fantabulous Jenn Mattern is? Here she's gone so far as to create a tool that helps us understand SEO, or at least apply it without having to think about it.

25 Must-Read Best Copywriting & Marketing Books. I've been a Lorraine Thompson fan for a while. This list includes a couple of personal favorites.

SEO Your Website. Sharon Hurley Hall gives us a free, easy-to-follow guide that boosts website visibility. Plus she's just darned nice.

Purdue Online Writing Lab. Probably one of the best resource sites for professional writers, the topics range from audience analysis to style points.

Guide to Grammar and Style. An online user's guide, written by Jack Lynch, that answers nearly all of your grammar questions.


What are your favorite free resources?


And more importantly, how are you spending St. Paddy's Day?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What We Don't Do -- Redux

Good day yesterday. I negotiated a fair contract with a new client and I turned down a client project that I simply don't have time or energy for. I got a few appointments lined up for the upcoming trade show, and I started on the new client project. It was a glorious, sunny day, so I opted to head out in the car -- roof down -- to the doctor appointments. If I'm going there anyway, I might as well enjoy it.

I'll be busy this morning on the client project and then this afternoon on the Trade Magazine Webinar with Anne. Join us! The webinar is a 3 pm PDT / 6 pm EDT. Happy to have you.

Because I'm busy, I thought I'd recycle one of my previous posts. Sometimes they remain relevant or they become relevant because of what's happening currently in your career. Since I've been hit with a few of these questions lately, I thought it wise to bring them up again. I've also added one to the mix because it seems to come up endlessly.

What We Don't Do

An open letter to clients -

Dear Clients:

We writers love you. We appreciate the trust you place in us every time you hand us your projects and agree to pay for a higher level of service. We do that, too. We match your project needs with your voice, your intended message, and your audience. With your help, we're able to give you what you need.

However, there are limits to what we can do for you. Let's talk about those for a minute.

We don't design. I know it's sometimes tough to separate the fact that writing and design are separate - they appear together on the same document. But my expertise is crafting your written message. I can't design your brochure, website, newsletter, or billboard. I just can't. And believe me, you don't want me to. My design skills haven't progressed beyond stick figures. What I can do is recommend a few good designers. Just know that my invoice for my work has nothing to do with the designer's invoice for their work. Two separate businesses, two separate invoices, no mixing of the two. Unless the writer advertises as both a writer and designer, it's not happening.

We don't help publish. Again, the expertise here lies in the writing and editing. If we're editing your book, that's enough work to keep us more than busy making you look good. If you ask us how to publish it, we're going to point you to the Internet. While we can educate you on the different types of publishing approaches, we can't make that decision for you, nor can we do the actual submitting of your book to any publisher. Again, writer/editor, not agent or publishing house.

We don't market unless it's in our titles. Tempting to think that your blog writer or your article writer is going to have connections all over the place and you'll just sit back and watch your projects be promoted without lifting a finger. However, if we propose blog writing, article writing, or book writing quotes and services, that does not automatically translate to social media marketing, article placement, or publicist searches. We write. Unless we've specifically mentioned that we're including marketing in our bids, don't expect it.

We don't renegotiate. We writers believe strongly in the contracted assignment. If we've signed an agreement with you (and we will insist on it), we'll deliver what we promised when we promised it. Your job is to make sure your vision was properly conveyed and let us know right away if there are changes. Your other job is to make sure you pay us what you promised in writing. We don't accept arguments such as "Well, it's not exactly what I expected, so I'm only paying you half." The law and the contract language is on our side.

We don't work for free. I know our titles say "freelance" in it, but that doesn't translate to mean free work for you. It means we're free to work for many clients. Please don't attempt to avoid payment by telling us we should be happy to get the practice or the "exposure." We're likely to tell you some things you won't like, too.

We don't wait around for work to appear. We know you say it should be "easy" for us to crank out your copy same day, but you're forgetting something - you're not our only client. Our time is already scheduled by someone else when you call expecting your project done in one day or less. We can do it in some cases, but we charge extra for that, mainly because we have to work late in order to catch up on projects we promised to others. It's not fair to them that you can't plan ahead.

We don't have control over editorial decisions at publications. Here's the thing - if you agreed to the interview and suddenly you decide you'd rather not be in print, there's very little we can do. The articles we write are the product of the publication. That means those people are calling the shots. Telling us you need to review the article prior to print is also out. Editors are pretty picky about interview sources telling them how to do their jobs. It's called a conflict of interest - no self-respecting editor would ever allow a source to dictate the direction or content of a story. It's unethical.

We don't answer to everyone you know. We know the temptation is to show all your friends your book manuscript and ask for feedback, but consider this - you wouldn't pay a hair stylist hundreds of dollars and then let all your friends cut your hair for you, would you? Then why would you pay for professional writing/editing and then let friends do your editing? Most of us writers have clauses in our contracts that void the contract the moment anyone not listed in the contract becomes involved. Imagine owing us full payment on a project that's not yet finished because you couldn't help but let your best friend make revisions you expected us to complete. We work for one person, not several. It's called herding cats and we're contractually averse to it.

We're here for you, clients. Our goal is to provide you with superior service at a fair rate. Just understand that we're writers and editors, not miracle workers.

Sincerely,

Your writers

What don't you do that clients are expecting?

Does it happen often enough that you're considering adding these skills to your repertoire?

There's Still Time: Trade Writing Webinar Registration

Last chance to get on board! We've added six more spots for the Trade Magazine Webinar. Register for the two-session 31 Days to Trade Magazine Profits webinar for just just $99 for both sessions. Plus you get a free month of membership in the Five Buck Forum.

Hurry! The webinar series begins this Thursday!

Click here to register.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marketing 365: Your Monthly Strategy

Yesterday was a mishmash of fits and stresses -- not that anyone blatantly conspired to do so, but it seemed like most (not all) communications were laced with interruptions, technical glitches, miscommunication, confusion, you name it. I see my role in it -- in one case, I didn't read the slews of emails from every single person on a particular string, so I didn't notice that the meeting I thought was happening one state over was now happening at my house. Color me surprised. In that case, I didn't clearly communicate a week ago (on purpose) but chose instead to discuss things in person in two weeks. If I'd mentioned that, I could have pre-empted yesterday's email train wreck. Alas. Live and learn.

That mishmash spilled over into client communications and, in one case, I had to increase my estimated bid because the client added to the project after I'd given a price. Maybe they'd forgotten or maybe they simply decided there had to be something else. No matter -- it all has a price tag for my time, and I'm happy to do the work as long as my time is compensated accordingly.

Anne and I worked out some technical kinks ahead of our Trade Magazine Webinar, starting tomorrow. I hope you consider attending. We've put together an in-depth program designed to show you how to approach the markets, what editors want, what to put in your communications, and how to score gigs with your current background. I was afraid at first that two sessions wouldn't cover it, but we've solved that problem by continuing the discussion on the Five Buck Writer's Forum. With so many already signed up, we've started question threads (and if you sign up, you get a free month in the forum).

I was talking with John Soares recently and John hit on a brilliant idea: since I had compiled 365 marketing strategies in one book, why not share one a month with my blog chums? Great idea, John. How about today?

Tip 317. Use new verbs.
Today, look at the verbs you’re using to describe your product or services. If you’ve sent out a fair number of marketing messages, there’s a good chance you’re repeating the same verbs.

Replace current verbs to freshen your copy. Do the same for your descriptors – use action language. For example, instead of saying “Computer repair services are a good way to free up space on your hard drive”, try “Boost your computer’s power by calling now for our hard drive cleaning special.”


Why I like this particular strategy -- it gets you thinking about your copy and your services in new ways. Here's what to look for in order to amp up your verbiage:

Trite or cliched phrasing. Don't use the same tired words that could describe any other writer or business. Examples: "I am dedicated to superior service"; "I bring passion to every project"; "See what you've been missing"; or any phrase that is a throw-away description. You're writers. Prove it!

Overused adjectives. Don't just keep repeating "excellent" or "exceptional" endlessly. That shows lack of creativity -- the death knell for any writer. Instead, find verbs that punch up the copy and leave the adjectives for occasional use.

Unclear messaging. If you've presented yourself as a "comprehensive business solutions provider dedicated to serving customers' needs", congratulations. You've told them nothing about you or about what you can do for them.

"We" or "I" talk. Who cares how special you are? It only matters how your specialness will benefit your clients. Change up your pronouns and your verbs will follow.

Long sentences. How can you say it better and with fewer words? What verbs will make a stronger impact and allow you to cut the sentence down to size?

How do you punch up your verb use?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not Always the Joiner

Busy yesterday with admin work and a little project in the morning that took no time to complete. After that, Anne and I worked out some of the technology kinks in our upcoming webinar. I was feeling good for the first time in weeks, but I didn't push it. I gave myself plenty of breaks.

I was noticing how much activity is happening over on Google+. Unfortunately, it's happening without me. While I was quick to sign on when it first launched, I never quite got into that form of social media.

It simply doesn't appeal to me. I want it to, because I'm sure I'm missing something. Still, part of me thinks I have enough going on that I'm ignoring to be adding one more thing to ignore right now.

That's okay, too. For me, I can get by with LinkedIn and Twitter. I'm getting by quite well, in fact. And I'm not sure exactly how it's happening, but I'm getting lots of inquiries via my website email form. There comes a time when social media can overwhelm. I'm there if someone needs me (and I still get the notifications), but I can't maintain yet another account, especially on a platform that's, well, too cumbersome for me to want to use.

Here's what I need from my social media:

Quick communication. That's definitely Twitter. Not so much LinkedIn, but that has other virtues.

Easy searchability. Just try searching on Google+. Maybe there's a way. I haven't bothered to try. I'm still buried in 300+ follow requests. Sure, you can type hashtags and names into the search, but why not just use Twitter or LinkedIn?

Professionalism. Here's where LinkedIn pulls way ahead of all social media forms I use. If I want to locate experts or clients, I head here. I've found clients and experts on Twitter, but not as frequently.

Personal communication. See, I'm not seeing that on Google+. Yes, there are a lot of people posting on my "wall", but I'm seeing a lot of noise. In Twitter where there are size limits, I can ignore much of it. On Google+, I'm staring right now at three posts by three different people and none of them are relevant to me. Why am I following them again?

Ease of use. I want to jump on, update my status, and get back to work. I don't want to wade through several posts to see if someone posted something similar or if anyone has responded to my past updates. I don't want games, videos, or things not related to work (I'm a magpie and I'm easily tempted).

Connection to others in my specialty area. This is definitely present on LinkedIn and, since I'm selective in whom I follow, Twitter. I know I can filter Google+ results, but it seems a bit tedious, whereas doing so on TweetDeck is quick.

You may find Google+ to be the best thing since sliced bread. Or you may hate Twitter or LinkedIn. The idea is to use it wisely. Don't overwhelm yourself with so many forms of social media that you can't get to work. That's kind of missing the point.

What do you use and how do you keep a handle on each one?

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Accept Losing Clients

Great weekend. My son was visiting and while I saw him for a small amount of time, that time was special. Sorry to see him leave, but glad for the time he was here.

Despite this lingering sinus problem and remaining internal junk going on, I got outside and waged war on the whitlow grass. Where we eradicated one particular nasty weed, another has moved in and invaded with ease. It's been choking out everything, and the best way to lose it is to get it before it seeds, aka NOW.

I was talking with another writer last week and we were going over briefly the pros associated with his losing a particularly lucrative client recently. He was fine with it -- the demands were high, and when he had a misstep thanks to personal issues, they were unforgiving and critical beyond what I would have accepted as justifiable. He finished another project for them, and was let go immediately after.

We've all lost them. Some of them we're very sorry to see go, but in many cases we lose clients because they may have figured out sooner than we that the fit just wasn't there. What to do when it happens?

Accept it. What else can you do? In relatively few cases can you plead your case and get another chance, and you should try if you feel there is a chance. In those cases where you can't get that chance, thank them and move on.

Look at it from a distance. Now that it's over, re-examine your relationship. Where did it start to turn sour? What can you change about your responses going forward that can keep that from happening? What did the client do that contributed to the parting? Was this a good fit from the start? If not, why not?

Show no hard feelings. Unless they've called you names or questioned your talents in rants or angry tones, it's just business. In some cases where I've fired clients, I've stayed in touch, even if it's just to recommend them. Why? Because something made me work with them in the first place. That we couldn't come to agreeable terms doesn't mean I can't still recommend them should something suitable come along.

Examine the client. Look at the relationship from the outset. What did you compromise? What warnings went off inside you that you ignored? What challenges did you accept that you may not have been up for? Incorporate those answers into your client selection process. It helps prevent the same mistake.

Ask yourself how big the loss really was. Let's ignore the dollar amounts and focus instead on the stress levels and the communication requirements. If it was strenuous for you from the outset, it may be a blessing to see them go. I've had clients I've lost who have paid top dollar, but have removed years from my life thanks to the stress they caused.

How do you reconcile yourself to losing a client?

How do you accept being fired or losing a client?

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Staple Work

What a difference a day makes.

We live in a world where medicines made to cure us make us feel worse. Once one of the antibiotics I'd been taking wore off, I felt infinitely better. Not 100 percent because now I have to wait out the medicine's effects on the body, but better. If the soreness in the stomach clears up, I'll be home free. Hopefully.

Rest? What is that exactly? I did take it much slower yesterday, but things usually conspire against our plans, don't they? Once my own medicinal fog cleared up, I realized just how sick Daughter was. She'd not eaten - and not mentioned it - for days. She was hit with an intestinal virus last Friday. Yesterday, she was in the ER making sure that's all it was. Luckily, yes. Now to get her eating again.

I was talking over parts of my career with my husband. There were times when I had steady clients who didn't pay terrifically, but were guaranteed paychecks. Not the $5-an-article work, but definitely work that required a bit more effort than the amount I was paid. I was content with it and happy for a steady paycheck.

We can't always make top dollar at what we do, especially when we need to pay bills. So we negotiate situations that are acceptable for whatever reason -- valid reasons, too. Plenty of content mill folks have said they did it for the steady check. While I disagree with feeding into that business model, I understand the thought process. We need money, and the promise of steady money appeals in almost every form. Almost.

That's where a little legwork can ramp up your earnings and help you capture some of what I call "staple" income --the stuff that helps you pay the phone bill and doesn't take too much of your time to do. If you're searching for some staple work, try some of these:

Blog posts. Be discriminating here. Too many jobs exist that require 300-700 words for $10-25 per piece. Instead, aim higher. Go for that blogging gig that pays over $50 per small post. If they start tacking on requirements, like 700 words minimum or for XX numbers of keywords and YY links and expert interviews, skip it.

Resumes. I made a small fortune for a few years writing resumes for a resume company. The pay at the time was good, and yes, the work was challenging. Some companies will pay $60 per resume and maybe $15 per cover letter. Not super rates, but once you get up to speed on how to do it, you can put out a nice resume/cover in just over an hour. Not ideal earnings, but when that check comes for $1,200 or better (one month I earned close to $2,500), it's hard to discount it completely.

Proofreading. I had a client once that paid me $15 to proofread resumes. It was a ten-minute job at best, and it was infinitely more fun than putting an entire resume together from scratch. Other proofreading possibilities -- blog posts, corporate mailers, catalogs....

Social media posting. I've yet to score a gig promoting a company via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but a current client project is giving me that experience, so this may be on the portfolio soon. Not sure what rates would be fair, but for me, I'd charge my hourly fee.

What staple work has given you a steady income?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rest for the Weary

Please head over to Michelle Rafter's blog, WordCount, to see my guest post. Thank you, Michelle!

Sometimes the universe provides what you need when you need it. I've felt awful for the last few weeks. This has coincided with a time in my workload where the deadlines were longer and the projects had all been completed. I marketed, but I didn't go nuts with it because of how I felt/feel.

It's taken me two weeks to get this little article written. I don't do things halfway, so slapping it together doesn't happen. It's finished, I think, and the quotes are being reviewed by those who requested such. I have to go over it this morning before my energy fades completely to make sure I've included all I needed to.

I've had a number of inquiries for other projects, one of which I took because it's small and it's the friend of a friend. I will give her my all, and if I'm too ill to make sense of it, I'll tell her that, too. But right now, I have energy in the mornings, so I'm making the most of it before noon. If I can't, I know a few folks who can take care of her.

But this afternoon is all mine. There's a bed with my name on it, and a pillow that has lots of sleep left in it. That's where you'll find me. Better yet, don't try. I'll be back soon enough.

When you're sick, how do you get time off? What's your back-up plan?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Quick-start Guide to Finding Clients

It's now three days since I first called the doctor. No return call Monday, and the second I went off to the pharmacy (ironically) yesterday she called. I'm taking meds I know will make me feel deathly sick again, but until she changes things up, I've no choice. I'm taking anti-nausea meds, but who knows how effective they are over the lifespan of this prescription? All I know is this stomach is tender to the touch and I'm fed up with being sick. Really. Fed. Up.

A writer friend of mine is looking to ramp up the number of clients he has, and he wondered out loud yesterday how to do it. For starters, he was on the phone to me asking if I knew of any leads. That's brilliant, actually. Reach within your current circles and you'll never know what may be there untapped.

So what would you tell a writer who wants to build or expand on client work, or even gain some quick cash avenues? Here's what I'd say:

Start in your current circle. This is where my friend does it best. He's good on the phone anyway, and he knows plenty of people. Reaching out to current and past clients and colleagues and asking for referrals is a super way to build out quickly.

Magazine work. Don't start with the top markets unless you're used to working with them. Instead, go slightly lower on the food chain and locate those niche magazines or consumer mags most open to freelancers. Get queries out now and move on to the next client potential, which is:

Past clients. What are those people you worked for last year doing now? What can you help with? What is missing from their current lineup of projects that you can suggest?

Crossover client potential. You've written enough healthcare articles to fill a book (hmmm....yet another potential). Why not send similar ideas to business or human resources magazines? You simply adjust the focus.

Letters of introduction. Look, if you're after new clients who pay what you're worth, put enough work into it to attract them. A good letter of introduction sent to a client you've researched is more effective than blanket mailings to random client lists.

Social media. In the past two weeks I've had four inquiries about work from Twitter and LinkedIn. Best part - I've not had time to go on either one for any length of time, so these came from getting my name attached to the right hashtags or business groups. Send out a few tweets. Tell people you're available and you're damn good. Update your LinkedIn status. Interact with clients and win their trust.

Ask for referrals. You've pleased enough clients to ask. Just go back to them and say "Thank you again for the trust you've placed in my services. Do you know anyone else who may need a writer or editor? Here's my CV."

How do you ramp up the client work?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Rule of Absolutes

Yesterday was somewhat fruitful. I got the bones of the article set up and I worked through the intro and the "supporting" evidence for that intro. About then I had to stop for a client call. After that, I had to stop because my body said so.

Anyone who knows me knows I follow one absolute truth:

Never trust anyone who gives you an absolute statement.

Ironic, but the point is any statement of "fact" that includes directives on how something "must" be done, or any words like must, have to, cannot, or anything limiting you to a certain way of doing something is, in my humble opinion, ridiculous. So when I heard that yet another "expert" is touting that one must market for XX hours every working day, I nearly strained my eyes from rolling them.

Here's why that's not true:

What works for me isn't necessarily your thing. I'm very regimented in my marketing. It happens every day for about 30 minutes tops. However, you may find you need more time (or less time) every day, or you may be someone who would rather spend a day off marketing than suck up your working hours doing it.

You aren't like everyone else. I know some super marketers whose methods net them fantastic results. I know those methods are ones I couldn't possibly adopt - they bore me or they're far outside my comfort zone. I market in ways that fit my personality and my own interest level. So should you.

Time limits on marketing don't mean anything. I can crank out a good query in 15 minutes. It may take someone else longer to write one. It may take me hours to write a proposal that takes you 30 minutes. What really matters is how consistent you are, not how long you sit there trying. If you think marketing half your day works, go for it. If you think it's nuts, don't bother (you won't be committed to it and you'll quickly resent it).

Daily is essential, but that's about it. I say that in absolute terms for a reason - it really does matter how often you market. If you're trying every day to get work, you're going to see a steadier stream of projects coming in. It's like hockey -- the more you shoot at the net, the better your odds of scoring.

Even that rule can be broken. Like I said earlier, maybe you like lumping your marketing into one day, or maybe you like marketing at regular intervals other than daily. As long as you're consistent and follow up, it can still work.

When was the last time someone told you you HAD to work a certain number of hours or a certain way?

What usually works best for you?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Marginal Monday

It's funny how the cure can sometimes be as bad as the ailment. I started taking the second antibiotic on Thursday and felt somewhat better on Friday - enough to accompany the husband to Pittsburgh. By Saturday morning it was clear something wasn't working. My head was throbbing (sinus infection), my face was hot, the rest of me was cold, and I needed plenty of naps. Then sometime after the second antibiotic dose of the day, the stomach started to turn.

On our way to the city to meet his daughter, who was presenting at her first conference, I had to pull over. I felt slightly relieved, but that's always short-lived. I couldn't even think of eating at the restaurant (Eleven, which has an incredible menu). I was deteriorating and worse, I didn't know why. Somewhere just before dessert, I asked to head to an ER. Luckily, Pittsburgh has any number of exceptional hospitals, so we were within quick commute of one.

Once there, they determined I wasn't suffering anything beyond the medication's side effects (and the sinus infection). I decided there would be no more of that second medication. If it's not staying down, there's no point. However, the doctors (except for the older, more sensible one) recommended I take anti-nausea pills and continue the antibiotic. Nothing doing. I don't like taking medicines unless absolutely essential. The older doctor, also a minimalist, said if it were his decision, he wouldn't take it, either.

Sad to have spent two days in my favorite place and not enjoy much of it. I was able to eat on Friday, though not much. I was feeling a little off then, too.

Yesterday when we got home, I went right to bed and slept. We had a light dinner, then an early bedtime.

Today I'm feeling well enough to finish my article. I'm about 90 percent, so there will be some lulls in my energy. That's when I'll crawl in bed and rest until I feel bored or guilty. Guilt is usually a sign for me that I'm well enough to get up. Boredom isn't because who doesn't get bored when they're lying there sick with nothing to do but sleep and stare at the ceiling?

Was your weekend okay?

Friday, March 02, 2012

Fried Fridays

Yesterday was a complete wash. I was feverish, achy, and I couldn't sit upright for any length of time. When that happens, I put up the "away" message and listen to the body. The doctor tossed one more antibiotic into the mix, and within two doses things were beginning to clear up. Today, mostly rest. I'll work if I'm feeling better, but I'm not pushing it. The one deadline is a week away and I'd rather hand in good stuff than hurry to do a mediocre job ahead of schedule.

Since I'm not up to anything too taxing, I decided today is a day of slow movement and minor admin work. We all have days where either we're not well enough to tackle mind-boggling stuff or we're between projects. Here's how I spend my time on days like today:

Clean the office. Good grief, did I really let it get this bad? It's a dedicated study, I have half of it, and while my half is still much better than his half, the papers and stacks are still looking a bit like the randomness following an atomic blast. Time to dust, file, toss out what doesn't need to be there, and sort through the stack on the desk.

Read a business book. Mind you, I choose one chapter at a time, and not always in order. If I have a particular situation or want to know something specific, I'll skip to the place in the book that has that. Then I'll mentally chew on it for a week or so.

Brainstorm new client potentials. Why not spend a little mental energy trying to expand beyond my current borders? I love what I do, but what more could I be doing? What touches on my current work skills but still throws in some challenge?

Organize my genealogy files. I have reams of papers on ancestors that correspond with (or complement) my online files. It's the paper pile I want to look through. The slow, methodical browsing is relaxing, and it helps me come up with new ideas on where and what to look for next.

Get in touch with more former clients. Days like this may be a good time to open Outlook, sort by name, and scroll through to see who hasn't been reached out to in a while. It's also a good time to make a spreadsheet with their names on it, crossing out those who aren't going to be contacted and noting why (high maintenance? low pay? boring projects?).

Round up referrals and kudos. It's also a good time to go back to the most recent batch of clients and ask if they were satisfied. If so, do they know anyone who needs a writer? Would they be willing to write a short recommendation for the website or brochure?

Tweet. I'll admit I've let my tweeting lapse. So maybe it's time to get active a bit, spread some news for another tweeter, and share some cyberspace with friends.

How do you fill up those slow days?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Five Risks Writers Should Take

I wish these antibiotics would take hold - I'm still feeling achy and weak, though my headaches have cleared up and I don't feel as feverish. I have one more article to finish, then I can relax a little until the next surge comes.

I was thinking about risk management this week - of course, since it's a specialty - and I realized that writers are risk-averse creatures. Sure, we have business risks and we try to have airtight contracts and assurances in writing so we get paid (rightfully so). But when it comes to actual risk - sticking out our necks, going for it, accepting challenges - we prefer the safe little bubble we've created for ourselves.

Put work into a maybe. Let me clarify - put work into a maybe for yourself, not necessarily a client and certainly not if there's no pay attached (on the client side - it's okay to work for free for yourself). That's the exception. But there's something you've always wanted to try, or have thought "I wish I could do that, if only I had time." Today, make the time. You can sit there dreaming about that big career, or you can get off your ass and create it. One leads to more dreaming. The other leads to better odds.

Infuse your work with personality. How many articles, writers' websites, etc. have you read that are absolutely on point, but utterly boring? I know of one pretty popular blog that has some good information, but it's like taking a sleeping pill to read. Why? Why didn't the writer inject some personality? Just because you present it in a technically perfect way doesn't mean you can't bring personality into it. In fact, you should. Those who treat every assignment as a creative venture - even the boring assignments - can't help but get excited about breathing life into a dull topic. I see these assignments as personal challenges - how can I make that topic sing?

Say no if it sucks. Hard to do when you're out of projects and money? Not if you trust in your own skills enough to market higher up the food chain. Just because they've offered you work doesn't mean it fits you. If it doesn't, say no even if your bank account is begging for mercy. You'll not regret it.

Instead of avoiding it, learn it. It's easy to say "Oh, I don't know SEO" or "I'm not that great at editing." How much better will your work be if you put effort into strengthening your weaknesses and enhancing your skills?

Embrace a 'What the hell' moment. I'm a firm believer in taking chances even if I'm not sure of myself entirely. It's how I got the job as senior editor at the magazine, how I scored any number of ongoing magazine gigs, and how I've built a client base that I'm thrilled to be working with. Erase all your doubts and say "What the hell - if I fail, I fail. Life goes on."

Because it does.

What risks do you take? How have they improved your career?
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