Dear Dr. Freelance: I was asked to write an article for a popular website that puts out a digital magazine periodically. The stories in it get advertised all over several popular websites. I’m something of an expert in my field and a freelance writer. The editor tells me it will be great exposure, but has made no mention of payment. I get the feeling she is treating it like free PR for me and that if she chooses to use my submission, I should be grateful. I don’t have a lot of writing (for bigger sites or magazines) under my belt. Should I do it for the exposure and experience, or turn it down if there is no payment? — Underexposed [Read more…]
Dr. Freelance: Thanks for your recent post on cold calling for freelancers (and the recommendation for the Well-Fed Writer, which I plan to read). However, I am at a loss as to when it’s best to make the calls. Can can suggest a day of the week as well as time of day that would increase my odds of success?—Warming Up to the Idea
Warming Up: My personal experience has been that early mornings (8-10 a.m.) and midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) are the cold calling best days and times. Mondays are a bust because potential clients are getting their weeks started, and Fridays are no good because their brains are elsewhere—and mine is, too! I like morning calls because I’m a morning person; so, it facilitates connecting with a like-minded soul. [Read more…]
Dr. Freelance: I have been contacted by a few potential clients who found me on various lists. They asked me if I am interested in taking their proofreading tests but then don’t send the tests to me. How much time do you suggest on client follow-up? Thanks!—Concerned Proofreader
Concerned: Great question, and I have a couple of thoughts. Ideally, client follow-up is something that you define in the initial contact: 1) ask when you can expect to receive the test, 2) when the client would like you to follow up, 3) who the point person is, and 4) when the project deadline is, because you can use that as leverage in the sales process. In general, the sooner you follow up, the better. [Read more…]
Dr. Freelance: I’m wondering what you think the single biggest new-client red flag is when you’re meeting with a prospective client?—Just Curious
Just Curious: If you work long enough in this business, you’ll find that there’s a whole United Nations’ worth of ’em. A new-client red flag could be foot-dragging on returning calls or emails, pushing off meeting times, not sending materials for your review before asking for an estimate, prying endlessly for information and ideas without agreeing to anything concrete, poor experiences with prior freelancers… [Read more…]
Dear Dr. Freelance: I’m going to bite the bullet and start cold calling for new freelance clients. I’m not scared, per se, but wondering if you have some cold-calling 101 tips for a beginner.—Cold Play
Dear Cold Play: First of all, good for you. I think you’ll find that it’s not as hard as you’d think and more effective than you can imagine at securing new freelance gigs. My primary recommendation is to pick up a copy of Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer, which has an easy-to-follow approach that I used myself when things slowed down for me in Year 2 of my own freelancing career. [Read more…]
Dr. Freelance: I get a decent number of freelance job leads, but I don’t convert enough of them, and the ones that I do tend to be on the lower end of the pay side. (I’ve only been freelancing for a few months, so my portfolio isn’t very deep.) What can I do to up my percentages?—Average Joe
Joe: Here’s where I think freelancers can use a bit of Salesmanship 101. During a stint I did as a sales manager for a magazine, we always talked in terms of the “sales funnel.” The concept dates back to the 1800s, according to this article—AIDA Sales Funnel—but even in the late ’90s it still held credence.
The concept here is pretty self explanatory, but the point is this: Even the best salespeople don’t expect to close every deal! From the sound of it, you’d benefit from more sheer volume of possible freelance jobs–whether you get them from email campaigns, cold calling, or old-fashioned networking.
The increased volume will accomplish three things:
- Offer you more raw opportunities
- Give you more practice even with those that don’t work out
- Provide more choice in which deals you choose to do
Ultimately, the more good clients you have, the more referrals you get–which has the benefit of bypassing the funnel process.