I met with a local group of freelancers for coffee last night. (Any Phoenician readers in the audience are welcome to join — it’s the Phoenix Copywriter Coffee League on LinkedIn.) At one point, one of my friends asked me a question that, I admit, I’m not very good at answering: “What are your favorite freelance projects?”
I hemmed and hawed, to the effect of “I dunno. No favorite. Anything but public relations.” Like a good reporter, she pressed me, “Well, what about websites vs. brochures? How about healthcare vs. high tech?”
It’s a question I *should* be prepared to answer. (It’s not one of the “4 key client questions” I discussed a few weeks back, but it does occasionally get asked.)
I’m philosophically anti-niche, although I totally respect writers who choose to go that route if that’s what works for them. I describe myself as an omnivore: I like all different types of writing, whether it’s digital or print, and I can find something to like about any industry; even if it’s not a topic I absolutely adore, the trick is to find an interesting angle. (And I say that as someone who once wrote about crop and hail insurance for farmers.) It’s easier for me to define my business by what I don’t like or won’t do. And yeah, I’ll take boring but high paying freelance jobs over a client that won’t keep a roof over my family’s noggins.
As my compadre continued to press the issue, I finally came up with a workable answer:
My favorite freelance projects are those in which I like, enjoy, and respect the client and what they’re trying to accomplish.
This presents a challenge, of course. It’s not like you can do a cold call campaign to target the “Awesome Freelance Client Database,” or look them up under “A” in your local phone book. They are out there, though, and you will find them if you’re persistent. And when you do, it underscores the importance of cultivating your client relationships, as well as doing fantastic work for them, once you’ve found a yin to your yang.
In the comments: What are your favorite freelance projects — either topic or client type?
Bonnie Nicholls says
This is a terrific post, and I’m glad you shared it. I too am an omnivore, but I think my favorite types of freelance projects/articles are about people who inspire, who take chances, who make this a better world, whether it’s improving a small community event or running a hospice unit. Maybe it’s because I tend to be a “glass is half empty” person, but I want to write about people who believe in the future and are doing something about it.
Who WAS that person who badgered you for an answer? She sounds rude. 🙂
Maybe we should all market ourselves in the form of personal ads. “Brilliant freelance copywriter seeks the perfect client. You’re the yin to my yang, the paycheck to my labor, the admirer of my genius. No late payers or quick turnarounds, please. I’m looking only for a profitable long-term relationship.”
Jake Poinier says
Thanks for the compliment, Bonnie — and yes, inspirational topics and projects do tend to make the words flow a bit more easily.
Not rude, Valerie, just persistent, and I was being seriously and admittedly wishy-washy. So it’s all good! I suspect “the perfect client” might be different for each of us, which makes the world go ’round, eh?
Great question, Jake. And like you, I’m hemming and hawing.
I like projects where I can be most creative and where I feel my ideas click with the client’s needs. That could be writing for my favorite editor, or putting together an advertorial for another client, or maybe it’s a website that’s just damn fun to write.
I guess that’s as good an answer as any, yes?
Cathy Miller says
Hey Bonnie-fancy seeing you here. 😉
I share a similar “favorite” project. Any time I can capture someone’s passion, whatever that may be, I am a happy camper. The most boring of subjects (to some) come alive when you share another’s passion.
Great post, Jake.