The wrong way to get freelance jobs

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There are countless strategies and places to find freelance jobs, but this week, I received a note that represents a classic example of the wrong way to go about it: soliciting work from other freelancers with whom you have 1) no relationship or 2) no understanding of their businesses. Exhibit A is a pitch I received from out of the blue on LinkedIn: [Read more…]

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Referral sales tip: No such thing as a slam dunk

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Any time you get a contact from a referral, it’s an exciting moment, but there’s no such thing as a slam dunk. While a warm lead has much better sales prospects than a cold one, freelance sales leads don’t just sell themselves, and they don’t always work out the way you imagined.

We’ll get to the sales tip in a moment, but first you need the backstory: I’d received a referral for an aspect of the writing business that I don’t even do. (Public relations.) So, my initial part of the conversation was essentially an anti-pitch: “I don’t do that, but I’d be happy to refer you to one of my trusted freelance friends in PR who can help you out.” The prospect was very appreciative, and maybe a bit shocked. And, yeah, I was initially a little disappointed. [Read more…]

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Are your freelance writing rates too low?

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Among all the questions I receive, the most common revolve around freelance writing rates. Indeed, that was the driving force behind my desire to write The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid.

But today, I want to share a quick anecdote about one of the unseen dangers of freelance writing rates that are too low, in the form of someone whose estimate was so cheap that I almost didn’t hire her. [Read more…]

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When freelancer is the other “F” word

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You don’t have to be in the creative biz for long before running into a prospective client who has had a bad experience with a freelance writer, graphic designer or web designer (or all three)—the kind that turn “freelancer” into the other “F” word. Although coming to the rescue may seem a good business opportunity, this once-bitten client also has DANGER stamped on his or her forehead. The reason? Well, as tempting as it is to blame a fly-by-night freelancer, how can you be sure that the freelancer caused a bad relationship? Is it possible that a toxic client caused the issues? You don’t want to become the next casualty. [Read more…]

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Test assignment for a copywriting job?

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Dr. Freelance, I am a new, part-time freelancer in the midst of interviewing for a copywriting job and was given a 200-word test assignment by the prospective client to complete in order to make it to the next round. The instructions in the email say that “points are given to creativity,” so I’m trying to decide whether to do a simple mock up, even though the job I’m being considered for does not require any graphic design. I am spending the majority of my time before the deadline on writing creative copy, but I just wanted to see what you think about trying to push that creativity into fleshing out the concept.—The Prospector [Read more…]

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My first freelance work

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A few weeks back during tax time, I was cleaning up some old files and came across the check stub from my first opportunity to do paid freelance work.

I was just a lowly assistant editor at a golf magazine when I received a call from someone at Boardroom Reports, publisher of the Bottom Line Personal newsletter, which I’m pleasantly surprised to see still exists 23 years later. The assignment was to put together a quick article about golf gadgets, and I remember being stunned that someone was willing to pay $0.50 a word for writing. (Yes, even way back in 1990, there was no need to take pennies a word — yet at the time, I was pumping out thousands of words a month for just over $18,000 a year. It was a revelation.) [Read more…]

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