Simple strategies for positioning your freelance writing business

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Many successful businesses position themselves in a specific way to attract certain types of clients. As a freelance writer, you should do the same.

Think about when you go out to grab a coffee with your friends. Why do you choose to go to Starbucks or Second Cup or Tim Hortons or the local independent coffee shop? Is it because it’s the closest place? Maybe so. Or is it because you want to feel a certain way when you’re drinking your coffee. Very likely.

How you position yourself as a freelance writer will compel your clients to feel a certain way about you. How they feel about you will also affect how you present yourself to the world and do business.

There are different strategies for positioning yourself to prospects and clients. They can work together or on their own.

Build credibility through your marketing

You can develop your positioning – and build your credibility as a content writer – by regularly marketing yourself and your services. How you market your services is up to you, but here are a few ideas:

  • Blogging: Writing a personal or industry blog, publishing posts on LinkedIn, writing long-form articles in publications and newsletters
  • Speaking: Given webinars and talks on topics you write about or are an expert in
  • Passive marketing: Stating in your blurb or bio who you help and what they get from working from you
  • Social media: Maintaining a current and consistent presence on your social media pages (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

Maintain your website

Your website is part of your marketing, but it is also its own entity. Establishing and maintaining your web presence is part of developing your positioning. Your website should do the following:

  • Communicate who you serve and how you serve them – be clear about your ideal client and what you do to help them
  • Use good SEO and keyword usage – it addresses your clients’ business needs, using language that they would use to search for your services
  • Ensure your website has intuitive navigation – it’s easy to use and find information, and it’s not overly creative
  • Include a call to action – tell your visitors what to do and where to go when on your website
  • Keep your site up to date with current technology (mobile friendly) and link to your social media profiles

Recognize networking opportunities

Right now, it’s difficult to network in person. When you can network in person through real events (or even if you’re doing online events), do the following:

  • Connect with the person you want to meet before actually meeting them – connect on LinkedIn, saying you’re reaching out because you will both be attending the event
  • Start an online discussion about the event you’ll be attending
  • Pre-Tweet or post about the event, asking anyone who is attending if they want to connect or chat
  • Follow people you’ve met at the event online

When you’re building your network, make sure to include the following types of people:

  • Current and past customers
  • Peers and colleagues
  • Mentors
  • Referral sources

Cultivate your leads

To position yourself as a freelance writer, you need to develop relationships with people you want to work with. There are many different ways to cultivate relationships with leads – consider these ideas:

  • Create an email newsletter – include an opt-in and opt-out email list, write it regularly (weekly, bi-monthly, monthly), and provide consistently relevant information
  • Build a social media following – connect with leads online, follow them, share useful information, respond to comments
  • Write personal messages when doing outreach – reach out regularly to people who’ve responded to emails or social media posts, ask if they are ready to work with you

Blog posts on positioning your freelance writing services


Do you need help with positioning your freelance writing services? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David, Author of How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground

How to win over clients as a freelance writer

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Finding new clients for your freelance content writing business – or any business for that matter – is more important today than it has ever been. Many freelancers have lost clients due to COVID-19 forcing the closure of their clients’ businesses, as well as some clients reducing their needs for freelance writing. It’s also important for new freelancers who want to grow their business.

There are many, MANY ways to find clients as a freelance writing business. To follow are four strategies that can work together to help you win new clients as a freelance writer.

Define your ideal client

Think about who you want to work with, or who you have worked with that was a great client. You enjoy the work and they pay well. Winning just a few ideal clients can make your business, and help you to enjoy the work you do so you’ll want to do great work.

Consider your goals – income goals, lifestyle goals, fulfillment of work – and match the clients to your goals.

So how can you classify ideal clients?

  • Clients within your industry or desired niche
  • Geography
  • Connections to others within your network
  • Mutually shared interests

Create a client acquisition plan

You need a way to find and acquire clients. The method depends on what works best for you, but here are some ideas:

  • Ask people in your network for connections
  • Attend local business events (online if necessary)
  • Join and search industry associations
  • Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. – wherever you hang out online
  • Send out cold and warm emails, make phone calls, mail postcards, etc.

Whatever method you choose, commit to a repeatable plan. Stick with the methods that work for you, and repeat daily / weekly / monthly. Set tasks that you can repeat each week, and that will take a few hours of your week. Aim for bite-sized tasks that are easy to accomplish, as they will spur you to keep going.

Do what is within your control, and what you feel comfortable doing.

Sell solutions to business problems

You’re a writer (or whatever you happen to do). But your potential clients don’t really care what you do. The want solutions to their problems, not specific skills or services.

A skill is something you know how to do. A business problem is something you can solve using your skills. You can sell your skill set (i.e., say what you do, the experience you have doing it) to sell a solution to a specific problem. State the following:

I can help you do THING IMPORTANT TO CLIENT. I helped clients in your industry GET RESULT IMPORTANT TO CLIENT.

Create a sustainable business – repeat clients

The key to creating a sustainable business is to work with clients who will keep using your services over time. You don’t want “one and done” work … unless it pays very well and leads to referrals for more work.

This should be part of your client acquisition plan. Book strategy calls with clients every quarter or every few months. Discuss how you can take care of their work needs, as well as how you can help them to achieve their business goals.

Other blog posts on getting new clients


Do you need help with growing your freelance content writing business? Do you need a freelance writer? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Follow up – the key to effective prospecting

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Prospecting is an essential component of being an effective freelance content writer. Unless you have mastered inbound marketing or you have clients beating a path to your door, you must prospect. You must do the work to find and reach out to potential clients. It’s one of the key components of successfully marketing your freelance writing business.

However, prospecting is more effective when you follow up. It’s not practical to expect great results when you only reach out to prospects once. How many times you follow up is your call, but you must follow up at least once.

Why should you follow up to be more effective at prospecting?

  • It is necessary! Everyone is busy these days. Reminding a potential client that you can write their articles, blog posts, case studies and other content – or provide an essential service – is useful to your prospect, and a professional use of your time.
  • Things happen. Your clients might get busy or something could distract them to cause them to ignore or forget about your initial message.

So, how do you prospect more effectively?

  • Make it easy to get permission from your prospect to follow up again. Set a date for reaching out the next time, and the next steps at the end of your prospecting email or call.
  • Don’t force it. You cannot manufacture urgency that does not exist. Do not force motivation for the prospect to move forward.
  • Have a plan for long-term follow up. They might not be able to respond or buy right now, but they might buy in the mid-term future. Follow up over several weeks and months by sending something of value to show you are thinking of them. This could include links to an article, blog posts, ebook, web site, etc. This is known as lead nurturing.
  • Spread out your follow-up attempts using a defined process (calendar apps, scheduling software, CRM tools, etc. are good for this). Set your own rules for when and how you follow up. Adjust your methods when you learn what works and what doesn’t.
  • Be graceful and professional if the prospect says they’re not interested. A “No” now does not mean a “No” forever, and they could still become helpful down the road.

Other blog posts on prospecting


Need help with writing prospecting emails? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How to tell a great story when writing articles, blog posts, and other non-fiction

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People are drawn to great stories. Who doesn’t like reading a great novel? But you can – and should – tell compelling stories when writing articles, blog posts, case studies, and non-fiction books.

Keys to telling a good story

According to Wes Kao, there are five keys to telling a good story. He dissects a story to identify those elements, which include:

  1. Focus on the reader so that they can envision themselves in the story.
  2. Build trust with the reader so that they feel understood.
  3. Use words that make the reader feel something.
  4. Create space for the reader to fill in the blank.
  5. Create a visual to set the scene.

Non-fiction writing techniques for captivating readers

Want to make sure your next work of non-fiction is non-boring? Check out Alexander Limberg’s post in The Write Life for five nonfiction writing techniques that will captivate readers, which include:

  1. Tell a memorable story, which will have more impact than facts, formulas or concepts.
  2. Bait your audience – begin with a personal story, ask a question, or start with an interesting or funny thought.
  3. Use emotionally charged language and words to create a reaction.
  4. Say it simply – break down ideas in digestible bites and simplify the language.
  5. Surprise the reader by being imaginative and creative where it is not expected.

Write like Anthony Bourdain

I’m currently reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, which is a fantastic book. He’s an amazing writer, and I will probably pick up his other books as well. Daniel Marriott provides five tips for writing like Anthony Bourdain, which include:

  1. Start with a bang – grab the reader’s attention from the first sentence.
  2. Speak in your own voice, and write how you feel.
  3. Keep it simple (again!) and do not overcomplicate things.
  4. Say what you feel, and show your passion.
  5. Give readers something to digest – teach and share knowledge.

Need help with writing articles, blog posts, case studies, white papers or website content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How do you write copy that sells?

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Full disclosure – I prefer writing to tell. I tell my clients’ stories through articles, blog posts, case studies, and web content. I like leading the reader through a story about what a company is doing to help their clients, or describing the best way to achieve a certain goal.

However, it’s important to know how to write to sell – yourself, your company, your products and services, your specific solutions, etc. So, how do you sell with your writing?

Focus on benefits over features

Too many people focus on the features of a product of a service, and overlook the benefits. People buy based on how the product or service will benefit them. They don’t really care about its characteristics – they care about how it solves a problem.

What’s the difference between features and benefits?

  • Features describe what a product is or has (e.g., This device has three ports).
  • Benefits describe what the product does and how the user will gain as a result (e.g., This device enables users to connect three devices for greater efficiency).

When describing a product, list a benefit of every feature:

  • Use the most important benefit as the main heading, and support it with the copy.
  • Include the next 3-5 most important benefits in your copy.

Use a motivating sequence

When writing copy to sell, use a motivating sequence that pulls the reader in and gets them to buy or contact you to learn more.

  1. Get attention. Use the headline to focus on the strongest benefit. Include visuals to attract attention as well.
  2. Show a need. Show the reader why they need your product using the headline and supporting copy.
  3. Satisfy the need. Position your product as the solution to the need.
  4. Offer proof. Prove your product can do what you say it can do – discuss the benefits, use testimonials, compare your product to the competitors, cite evidence, show reliability of your company, etc.
  5. Ask for action. Tell the reader what to do next – send in a coupon, visit your website, email their order, etc. Give an incentive to respond now.

Create a unique selling proposition

To get people to buy, you must show how your product has a major benefit not offered by your competitors. This is your unique selling proposition.

How do you do that?

  1. Make sure your headline offers a benefit.
  2. Differentiate your product from similar products.
  3. Ensure that the differentiator matters to the reader.

Do you need help with writing to tell or sell? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

An incomplete list of writing tips for freelance content writers and copywriters

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There are bookshelves and websites filled with strategies on how to write better, faster, clearer, more compelling copy. I came across a few writing tips I wanted to share here because they are quick and easy to digest.

Writing tips that seem wrong but work

There are many “hard” rules for writing grammatically correct content. There are other rules for writing great ad copy, or great articles, or great blog posts. These writing tips might seem wrong, but can work when used properly. Try them out.

  • Begin sentences with a conjunction (but, or, and)
  • End your sentence with a preposition (of, with, for)
  • Use sentence fragments
  • Write one-sentence paragraphs
  • Use graphic techniques (sparingly) to emphasize words – bold, underline, capitals, italics, colours, arrows
  • Use bullets in the middle of your copy

The writer’s checklist

When you’ve finished writing your first draft, ask yourself:

  • Does the copy fulfill the promise of the headline?
  • Is the copy interesting?
  • Is it easy to read?
  • It it believable?
  • Is it persuasive?
  • Is it specific?
  • Is it concise?
  • Is it relevant to the reader?
  • Does the copy flow smoothly?
  • Does it contain a call to action?

40 one-sentence writing tips

This list of writing tips comes from Josh Spector. It’s a collection of lessons he has learned over the years that can help you get the most out of the next thing you write.

Writing lessons for the beginning writer

We’ve all been beginning writers – even Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, who make everything sound great. When we look back on our writing careers, there’s a lot we wished we knew when we started. This article on eight writing lessons explains what Naomi Pham from Craft Your Content wishes she knew as a beginner blog writer – it’s good stuff. These tips can help you to write more productively, overcome self-doubt, and love your writing.

Writing better email copy

I’ve written a million emails in my life, and I do a lot of email prospecting. Here’s a good list of six email copy characteristics that will help you write your next email.


Have any writing tips? Need help with your writing? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com

David

Preparing for a writing project… before you start writing

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Whether you’re a novice copywriter or content writer, or have years of experience in the field, you should prepare before doing any writing. Writing by the seat of your pants – without preparation and research – might work in some cases, but it’s not a recipe for success. You’ll often miss the mark with the client, and will have to write the draft again, possibly from scratch. If you totally miss the mark, you might annoy or lose the client, which is not a way to run your writing business.

Follow these four steps when preparing for a copywriting project (you can apply these tips for content writing as well):

  1. Get the client’s previously published material on the product.
    • Ask the client for material before attending any briefings or writing any copy.
    • Check out the client’s website for published materials.
  2. Ask the client questions about the product.
    • What are its features and benefits?
    • What does the client consider most important about the product?
    • What competitors’ products exist, and what are their features and benefits?
    • What are the product’s applications?
    • What typical problems does it solve? What about secondary problems?
  3. Ask the client questions about the audience.
    • Who uses the product?
    • Why do they use it?
    • What are their main concerns?
    • What do you know about their persona?
  4. Identify the objective of the copy.
    • Generate inquiries?
    • Increase sales?
    • Qualify prospects?
    • Build brand recognition?
    • Support marketing efforts?

Once you’ve collected this key information, you can start writing your copy. Ideally, the client will provide a brief that includes this information, but you should ask for at least this much before writing your first words.

Need help with writing content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Ten tips for writing clear copy

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One key goal of writing is to communicate with the reader. You might want to discuss an important topic, sell your product or service, talk about your company, describe strategies for reducing costs, or some other purpose. Whatever your goal, it is important to write clear copy that the reader will understand.

Follow these 10 strategies for writing clear copy:

  1. Put the reader first. Address the reader directly (e.g., You will find…). When writing the copy, ask yourself:
    • Will the reader understand what is written?
    • Does the reader know the terminology?
    • Does the copy say something new or useful?
    • Would the copy persuade the reader to do something?
  2. Organize your selling points. Write all key points in order, and order them in the copy in a logical order. The headline should state the main selling proposition. The first paragraph or two should expand on the main point. Secondary points should follow under subsequent subheads.
  3. Break content into shorter sections. Cover each main point in its own section. Use numbered points if sections contain ordered content. Use bullets if order is not an issue. Break each main section up with subheads. Keep paragraphs short.
  4. Use short sentences. Try to keep sentences under 15 words. Break long sentences into two or more sentences. Use punctuation (dashes, ellipses, etc.) to break up sentences. Vary sentence length to create interest.
  5. Use simple words. Avoid long and complicated words. Simpler words will help to get your point across more effectively. avoid technical jargon unless most readers will understand the terminology or it precisely communicates your meaning.
  6. Be concise. Remove unnecessary words (e.g., that, in order to), redundancies (e.g., small and tiny), run-on sentences, wordy phrases, unnecessary adjectives (e.g., very, really), and passive voice.
  7. Be specific. Include and describe facts and information. Avoid vague copy.
  8. Get to the point. Start talking about the key points in the opening paragraph. Sell from the first line of copy.
  9. Write in a friendly, conversational style. Write the way you talk – use a conversational tone. Imagine yourself speaking to the reader. Use pronouns (e.g., I/we, you, they). Use colloquial expressions and contractions.
  10. Avoid sexist language. Use plurals (they) instead of he / she. When using he / she, alternate the use of he and she, or write “he or she”. Rewrite copy to avoid reference to gender. Create an imaginary person to set the gender. Replace sexist terms.

Do you have your own suggestions on writing clear copy? Need help with writing clear copy? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

An incomplete guide to writing better headlines

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The four functions of a headline

The first thing that the reader sees when they come across your blog post, article, press release, case study or other marketing content is the headline. The headline is more than the title of your content – it has a job to do. Actually, a headline has four functions:

  1. Grab the reader’s attention – if they’re not interested in the headline, they won’t read the rest of the content
  2. Select the audience – you want to appeal to people you want to reach, and screen out people you don’t
  3. Deliver a complete message – make a complete statement, including a selling promise
  4. Draw the reader into the body copy

Types of headlines

You can write headlines in a nearly infinite number of ways. Most headlines can be classified under the following eight categories:

  1. Direct headline – state your selling proposition directly
  2. Indirect headline – make your point in a roundabout way, arousing curiosity and raising questions answered in the body copy
  3. News headline – provide news about a product or service, such as the release of a new product, improvement in an existing product or a new application
  4. How-to headline – show how to do something, and promise good information, sound advice and solutions
  5. Question headline – ask something that the reader wants answered
  6. Command headline – tell the reader what to do
  7. Reason-why headline – list what will happen or what the reader will learn
  8. Testimonial headline – relate what a customer experienced and how they are satisfied with your business

Formula for writing headlines

When writing a headline, consider using the four Us:

  1. Urgent – give the reader a reason to act now
  2. Unique – say something new or in a different way
  3. Ultra-specific – tease the reader with a mystery
  4. Useful – offer a benefit

Eight ways to create engaging article titles

Esther Ilori from Craft Your Content wrote a great post on eight ways to create great article titles that will engage your audience. She suggests doing one of the following:

  • Highlight a solution to a problem
  • Employ the AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) method
  • Use facts and data
  • Use the how-to method
  • Be creative
  • Use a figure of speech
  • Make it personal
  • Think about what your audience wants

Links to my other blog posts on writing headlines

Have some suggestions on writing headlines? Need help with writing your headlines? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com

David

How to write effective cold emails to prospects

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I’ve been writing more cold emails lately to prospects to help grow my business. They can be effective, when done right. Here are some tips that have helped me to get more email responses from prospective clients.

Target the right prospects

Don’t send emails to every company or prospect that you come across. It’s going to waste your time and deter you from sending cold emails, since your response rate will be really low. Focus your emails on the right prospects, and tailor the emails to their needs. A positioning statement can help you to identify the right targets for your emails.

Get your email opened

Create a personalized subject line that will interest your prospect – use humour or something personal to them. The key (as is often the case) is to target the right person at the right time with the right message. Make sure to keep track of messages that have worked (and ones that have not) so that you can make adjustments to future emails.

Lead with value rather than a sales pitch

Focus on what you will do together (saying “You” and “we” rather than “I” and “me” in your emails). Refer to what is going on in their business – their needs, challenges, goals, successes, etc. Describe the positive value of working with you – how you can help them to achieve their goals, how you’ve helped others overcome similar circumstances. Ask for a next step that gives them value (send a free report, offer to do a consultation). You want to get a response more than a sale.

Keep your emails short and direct

Put the information front and centre. Don’t make them read a lot to get to the point. This will make responding much easier. Use formatting strategies (bullets, headings, bold points, links to outside sources) to make your emails more attractive to read. Emails should take less than five minutes to read – brevity is key.

Close with purpose

Don’t be wishy washy (e.g., “Let me know…”). Close with a clear next step that the reader can do in the next five minutes (e.g., “Let’s set up a call…, Can I send you some thoughts?”). The goal is to make it easy for the prospect to take the next step and move forward.

Conclusion

Warm emails are better than cold emails, but effectively written cold emails can still do a lot of heavy lifting for you, and help you to reach prospects and turn them into clients. Put thought into that next email and you will see results.

Do you need help with writing cold emails, or writing emails in general? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David