Category: freelancing

Following the map to success as a freelance writer

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Some time ago, I attended a webinar on creating a road map to increasing success as a freelance writer. The speaker provided a lot of great tips on what you need to do to improve your freelance writing business. I’ve summarized some of the tips here. Put these ideas together to give yourself a better chance at being successful as a freelance writer (other creatives can apply these strategies to their business).

  1. Wake up! Understand that a business takes effort. As a self-employed professional, you must realize that you are running a business, so treat it that way. Some people fool themselves that freelancing is easier than it is because there are low barriers to entry and a lot of potential markets. It’s not easy – finding work takes a lot of work.
  2. You need several key ingredients to be successful in your business. They include focus and commitment to putting all your effort into your business, belief in yourself, and determination to study your craft, prospect constantly and push through all obstacles.
  3. Prospecting is a full-time job. You must do it every day. Spend time on finding new clients, even to the point that you should not waste time on other parts of your business (to a degree).
  4. Use small wins to motivate yourself. Focus on the quick wins – writing a blog post, contacting a new client, responding to a client request – to motivate yourself in moving forward in your business.
  5. Smart positioning is key. Know what you do, who you serve, how you are different, and what that difference matters to prospects and clients.
  6. Tap your network. Reach clients through people you already know, and the people that they know. Go through your LinkedIn contacts, and see who they know that you can connect with.
  7. Take massive action. Double the action you think it will take to get business every day. If you think that you need to contact one new client per week, and it takes 10 emails / calls to get one new client, then reach out to 20 prospects per week.
  8. Develop a support system. Get support from other successful writers for ideas and advice. Join a peer group of professionals that are facing the same challenges. Get an accountability partner to help keep you on track. Hire / find a coach / mentor to show you the fast track to success.

What suggestions do you have for creating a road map to success? Do you need help with becoming more successful as a freelancer? Let me know –

David Gargaro

The benefits of exploring value with clients – What I learned from Breaking the Time Barrier

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Some time ago, I read Breaking the Time Barrier by Mike McDerment of FreshBooks and Donald Cowper. The book describes (among other things) how freelancers and the self-employed can unlock their true earning potential by focusing on value instead of charging by the hour. It is written by Mike McDerment (from FreshBooks) and Donald Cowper, and can be downloaded from the FreshBooks website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow are seven mutual benefits of exploring value with clients from Breaking the Time Barrier, which I hope to achieve in building my business:

  1. Creates trust. Getting to know more about your client’s needs inspires trust that you care about them and their needs, and that you know what you are doing in your business.
  2. Fosters alignment. It ensures that you are on the same page with your client. Start by determining where they are now, and where they want to go. It helps you to identify their main problems (by asking them) so that you can find solutions specific to them. Ask clients about their goals so that you can help them to achieve those goals.
  3. Helps clients better evaluate vendors. The process of creating value helps the client to determine who will deliver value rather than focus on price. This enables the client to get more value for their money.
  4. Frames solution as investment, not an expense. Taking about prices focus on the cost of the service, while talking about value provided focuses on the return on investment. Clients prefer to invest in something that will provide value.
  5. Inspires action. Focusing on value gets the client to envision their goal, which makes them eager to proceed with your solution. They will act quicker with you to get results.
  6. Lets client make informed business decision. Provide the client with several choices and costs so that they can choose the right solution for them. They choose where to go and how much to pay to achieve a specific solution.
  7. Establishes a trusted partnership. The client gets to experience the impact of your work. Creating real value for the client makes you a trusted partner, and they will turn to you again when needed.

Breaking the Time Barrier is written as a real-world situation, following the story of a designer who is having trouble getting ahead in his business. He meets a successful designer who teaches him the benefit of exploring value with clients, and how to unlock his true earning potential. It’s an easy and enjoyable read.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know –

David Gargaro

Make your freelance writing business more credible to attract bigger and better clients

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Do you want to increase the size and quality of your client base? One key strategy is to make your brand more credible. Increasing your professional credibility will help you to attract larger clients. The obvious benefit is that you will attract bigger clients with bigger budgets, which will also provide you with more work at higher rates.

So, how can you increase your credibility? There are several approaches, and combining them will go further toward making you more credible (and popular) in your field.

  • Act like a professional all the time. Behave professional toward clients and prospects. Treat your business and brand professionally, and others will do the same.
  • Create social proof of your credibility. Social proof is evidence that other people like and trust you. Examples include testimonials, case studies, awards, website logos of your large clients, recommendations, etc.
  • Become an expert in a niche or particular field. Become known for excelling in that one specific area of your industry or business.
  • Become an influencer. An influencer is someone who takes charge and leads people to make positive contributions in their industry. For example, you can connect people or clients to each other, set up events, blog / write about events and key issues in your field, or share your knowledge with the world.
  • Encourage referrals. Ask clients to refer you to people who could use your service.
  • Get interviewed. Contact bloggers in your industry to interview you on a subject that matters to your clients.
  • Be omnipresent. Tweet, blog, network, etc. Stay public and be seen.

What tips do you have on being more credible in your industry? Would you like help with becoming more credible in your industry? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How to land better clients as a freelancer

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Some time ago, I read 9 Things Freelancers Absolutely Must Do to Land Lots of Quality Clients by Red Lemon Club. The book describes (among other things) a number of things that freelancers must do to improve the quantity and quality of their clients. Red Lemon Club has a lot to offer on its website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow is what I learned about getting more clients from Red Lemon Club’s eBook, and what I hope to apply in building my business.

  1. Write down your personal end goals. Put your goals in written form to clarify your mind. Goals should be short term and long term. Be as descriptive as possible – the point is to be list your motivations.
  2. Determine your target market. Be very clear in what companies and individuals you want to target. Know who they are, what they do, and what is important to them.
  3. Assess what your target market is really looking for. Research what they want and need so that you can target them with solutions.
  4. Know when your prospects are likely to look for you. Know the important moments in a client’s business life (e.g., when they publish, their busy and quiet times) so that you can contact them when you are most needed.
  5. Find out where clients look for people like you. Go where they search or hang out – online, forums, networking, trade shows, etc. Be where they are, and be visible.
  6. Determine what it is about you that attracts clients. Identify what is unique about you or your service, and express it as a selling point. Be clear in your description. Focus on the benefit you provide.
  7. Work out the main way for prospects to engage with you. Determine how you want prospects to develop a relationship with you – email, Twitter, phone, newsletter, etc.
  8. Spend time building credibility as a professional. Build your professional image – get testimonials, blog or write articles on your expertise, speak at conferences, etc.
  9. Develop and maintain relationships with prospects and past clients. Stay in communication with clients to stay top of mind – send check-in emails or postcards, make regular social network status updates, write blog / newsletter postings, etc.

Red Lemon Club has a lot more great content on its website, as well as the eBook. I shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read, and comb through the website. They have a lot of useful information for freelancers.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know –

David Gargaro

How to create a simple and consistent marketing plan

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Marketing works best when you do it consistently. That means marketing yourself (your company, products, services, solutions, offers, etc.) daily, weekly and monthly. There are many experts (books, websites, services, newsletters, blogs…) that offer great advice on how self-employed professionals can improve their marketing efforts.

The best marketing advice and tools are whatever work best for you. Again, marketing only works when you do it consistently. Here are my suggestions on finding and executing the best marketing plan for you.

Discover what drives you

Identify the factors that propel you to action, as well as the factors that prevent you from moving forward. Also, associate non-action with pain. For example, the consequences of not marketing include having fewer clients, long downtimes, less income, difficulty attracting new clients, etc. Each consequence has a price to pay:

  • It’s harder to pay bills.
  • You have to work harder and longer to find clients.
  • You have to cut back on expenses.
  • You have to go out and get a “real” job.
  • You can’t buy nice (or essential) things.

Find what motivates you, and use it to drive your marketing efforts.

Create a marketing plan that aligns with your goals

Find and apply a marketing method that has worked in the past. Go through your list of clients and note how you found them (or how they found you):

  • Referrals
  • Email marketing
  • Networking
  • Cold / warm calls

The method that worked the best is your best marketing tool because it worked for you, and you are familiar (and likely comfortable) with using this method.

Take action based on your intrinsic drive

  • Treat marketing like a client project that will pay off. Set deadlines, plan a schedule, and make yourself accountable for getting it done on time.
  • Focus on DAILY, not weekly or monthly, effort.
  • Create EFFORT goals, not OUTCOME goals. That means focus on doing the marketing task (effort) rather than achieving something specific (outcome). For example, “I will email a new potential client every day.”
  • Set goals that speak to YOU. Tie the goals to your core values and vision. For example, “My goal is to make $100,000 per year, so I need to find 3 new clients this year.”
  • Get an accountability partner. Find someone to listen to your goals, and help you to ensure hat you take action.
  • Wake up earlier (or don’t watch TV / play games) to focus strictly on prospecting.
  • Turn the process into a game. Assign points for different marketing actions (e.g., writing a blog post = 5 points, sending a prospecting email = 10 points). Reward yourself for hitting a points goal, or beating your previous week’s score.

Again, the goal is to find marketing strategies that work for you so that you will repeat the actions. Make marketing part of your daily routine. Find what works for you, that is easiest for you to repeat. Keep it simple and do it consistently.

Need help with creating a simple marketing plan? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How to take care of your business – What I learned from The Bootstrapper’s Bible

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Some time ago, I read the free manifesto version of The Bootstrapper’s Bible by Seth Godin. The book describes (among other things) what it takes to be a bootstrapper or entrepreneur (rather than a freelancer), how to take care of your business, raising money, finding your right business, refocusing, and more. The book is ideal for anyone who wants to build a successful business from the ground up, and avoid being just a freelancer (it’s where I am today). Seth Godin has a lot to offer on his website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow is what I learned about being an entrepreneur (specifically, nine rules for taking care of your business) from The Bootstrapper’s Bible, and what I hope to apply in building my business:

  1. Find people who care about cash less than you do. Establish credit with your suppliers. Ask customers to pay in advance to fund your purchases and growth.
  2. Survival is success. Focus on just making money in some part of every week.
  3. Success leads to more success. Being busy creates more success, as it leads to positive cash flow, teaches you new things, builds your reputation and credit rating, and puts you in contact with smart people and new customers.
  4. Redo your mission statement and business plan every three months. The path to success is a maze, not a straight line, so you have to adapt and change your plans.
  5. Associate with winners. This means that you should work with great clients, employees, vendors and peers. Even better, send clients who don’t fit your business to your peers, so you can make two people happy with you.
  6. Beware of shared ownership. Assign ownership based on the amount of work people do, or pay for services. Also match compensation with performance.
  7. Advertise. Spend regularly on advertising. Persistence in advertising leads to success. Be clear in what you are advertising, and constantly test and measure results.
  8. Get mentored. Find the right person to mentor you. Make it easy or them to say yes or no.
  9. Partner with large organizations that you can service. Do what they cannot or what you can do for less than they can. Create a mutually beneficial relationship, which will improve your credibility, give you greater access to large corporations, and improve your cash flow.

Seth Godin has a lot more to say on his website (he has written a lot of great books, and he blogs daily), and in The Bootstrapper’s Bible. I shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know –

David Gargaro

Change your mindset to succeed as a freelance professional

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If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, then you know it can be a constant battle to keep your income flowing. To do so, you have to adopt the right mindset. Here are 10 tips on creating that mindset and making sure that you and your income stream remain positive.

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts, particularly when they become negative. Don’t let yourself get roped into the chatter in your head. Find a way to stop negative thinking before it overwhelms you. A simple reminder – like a rubber band on your wrist (ouch) – will bring you back around.
  2. Be grateful for what is going well. Focus on the good by writing about those moments and wins in a daily journal. Positive talk / writing builds on itself.
  3. Hang out with people who are positive and abundant. Surround yourself with positive and successful people. Even talking or emailing them regularly will help.
  4. Give something away from time to time – money, time, talent, etc. Do things for other people, and it will come back to you.
  5. Look at some of your base beliefs. Think about how you were taught about money as a child, and work to make yourself better in those areas that are bringing you down or negatively affecting you.
  6. Look at a loss as an opportunity. A lost job means that you have time for something new, such as focusing on better clients.
  7. Stop being the victim. Don’t keep blaming others – the economy, clients, etc. You attract work and clients, so keep looking for opportunities. Take responsibility for your success and failure.
  8. Stop worrying about money. Do what you enjoy doing first, and pursue what you want to do. Money well come. To help clear your mind, do something else other than work – meditate, read, write, go for a walk, be kind to yourself.
  9. Do the internal work to improve. Take positive action to get better at what you do. Work with a mentor who can guide you and give you a different viewpoint.
  10. Most importantly, love what you do and believe in yourself.

These are all simple yet effective ways to change your approach to making more money as a freelancer. Adjust your way of thinking and things will change.

Bonus tip: This is a must do. Work on finding new clients – using whatever works for you – EVERY DAY. Finding work is a full-time job. Even when you are busy. No, especially when you are busy. Then you can turn down work when there is too much work. And you can drop troublesome or low-paying clients. All you need is a few minutes per day to do one thing – email potential or past clients, respond to ads, send a letter, write a blog post, answer questions on LinkedIn, etc.

Did you like those tips? Do you have any to share? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How to succeed as a freelance writer

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Some time ago, I read 279 Days to Overnight Success by Chris Guillebeau. The book describes (among other things) how he became a full-time writer, his world-dominating strategy for building his brand, avoiding people who want you to fail, getting traffic without viral marketing, and more. The book is ideal for writers, bloggers, and other creative artists who want to expand their influence through social media. Chris Guillebeau has a lot to offer on his website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow is what I learned about succeeding as a freelance writer from the book.

Create a compelling strategy and be remarkable

Find your personal story – one that you have to tell. It will not be compelling to everyone, and that is OK. Telling your story will allow you to find your audience. Also create flagship content – this is your compelling story and the benefits to your followers. [Make sure to read A Brief Guide to World Domination.]

Answer “Reason why to follow/hire you” and “What’s in it for me?” questions

You must be able to answer these questions to attract and retain your audience. You must also keep answering these questions to give your audience a reason to stay.

Prioritize writing and marketing over everything else

Schedule time to write and market every day / week. Scheduling time is your motivation to write and market. Follow these two tactics: A. Write a minimum number of words per day (1000) to reinforce the habit and motivation. B. Take five marketing actions per day – Twitter posts/connections, reaching out to experts, scheduling a product launch). To help you do this, focus on spending time creating by yourself and thinking about the people who will be consuming what you create.

Be bigger than you really are

Act like you have more clients and a bigger audience, and that you are a bigger deal than you are. Be the authority in your field. Only you have your specific skills, knowledge and experience. Also, do not write to your whole audience – speak to a few people that you want to reach. To get bigger, get your site and materials reviewed by professionals / bloggers in your field, and get media coverage / reviews of your site / products.

Build long-lasting relationships

Spend time every day building and maintaining online and offline relationships – Twitter, LinkedIn, email, networking, phone calls, etc. Contact people that you read and respect (writers, editors, bloggers) and let them know that you enjoy and respect what they are doing. Develop a real relationship before ever asking them for anything.

Tell the world about what you do

Once you’ve developed good design and you have enough content, tell the world about your site / product. Send emails to everyone you know, and ask for feedback. Make sure to write great content and deliver great value – do not launch or promote your site before you are ready.

Respect your followers

Give your followers the best you have to offer. Don’t send them to other sites via clickthrough ads, as you have no control over where they are going. Answer every email from your followers. Ask them for feedback on what content they want to read. Read their questions and create content that answers those questions. Ask them why they visit your site and how you can best help them.

Do what you love

Your goal should be to do something you love and enjoy, and that will also help you to earn a living. Do something that you like that people will pay you to do. What you do should also help your audience in some way – by entertaining, educating or inspiring them.

Chris Guillebeau has a lot more to say in 279 Days to Overnight Success – I took a lot of notes, and shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read.

I plan to write more summaries of eBooks I’ve downloaded over the years. I have a lot of them to read and share. If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know –

David Gargaro

How can you position yourself as an authority to prospects and clients?

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People want to work with professionals who are experts in their field. We don’t want to work with amateur lawyers, doctors, bookkeepers, plumbers, financial planners – we want to work with people who know what they are doing. Working with knowledgeable and experienced people gives us the feeling that things will be done right (although this does not always happen).

If you are sole proprietor (like myself), consultant, self-employed, sole business owner, etc., then you should position yourself as an authority. You’ve been running your business for some time, and you obviously have the skills and experience to do the job. But you have to prove to your clients that you are capable of doing the job because you are an authority in your field.

The first step is to focus on who you are, rather than what you are. You are not just a professional writer or consultant or generic service provider. This will sound odd, but you are the only you there is. There are many writers, but you are the only writer who has your specific experience, skills and authority. Change your perception in the market’s mind. Don’t focus just on your skill level, but who you are and what makes you different.

Who you are will influence your prospects and clients. If you are an authority, then you will become in greater demand, which means you can also charge more. Your client list also affects your value. Working with high-profile clients means that you are worth more by association. They chose you because you are an authority; therefore, others will want to work with you as well.

Do not wait for the market or others to tell you that you are an expert or that you are an authority in this field or that. Your authority depends upon your mindset. Realize that you are skilled and bring value, and that you are an authority in your field. Then present yourself in this manner. This will determine how others view you.

As an authority, you know more about your given topic than anyone else. Make sure that you make this fact known – on your website, in your social media, when you talk to prospects and clients. That does not mean bragging “I am the best.” It means demonstrating your knowledge when required. Focus on where your business is seen, and how prospects perceive your business.

To be viewed as an authority, associate with other authorities. Interview experts in your field, and related areas, and give them exposure – this will allow you to be seen as an expert as well. Are you a marketing writer? Interview marketing experts, and authors with marketing books. Every field has its published experts and authorities. It’s up to you to find them, and ask them to speak about what they do best. Share these best practices with your clients and prospects. Now you’re an authority.

Do you need help with becoming an authority – writing articles, blog posts, etc.? Are you an authority in your field, and want to talk about what you know? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Contacting potential clients with short prospecting emails

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Sending cold emails to potential clients is an effective way of marketing your services and attracting clients. There are three essential elements that will help to make your prospecting emails more effective:

  1. Personalization: Speak directly to the person you are trying to reach. Don’t send the same email to every person. Customize your email for that one person.
  2. Relevance: Ensure that the content of your email is important to the recipient. Focus on what is important and what you are trying to achieve.
  3. Brevity: Keep your email short and on point.

Effective prospecting emails should also do the following:

  • Begin with a strong subject line. Make a meaningful connection to your reader. The statement should tie what you do to something you noticed about the prospect (i.e., their problem, needs, what they do).
  • Tie the body of the email to your subject heading. Make that meaningful connection that continues from the heading through the rest of your content. Include a value statement, which explains what you do, for whom, and what makes you different.
  • Provide a link to your website (a specific page is best). The reader should be able to learn about you, find relevant samples of what you do, testimonials, success stories, etc.
  • Make a soft invitation to connect – do not make a hard sell.
  • Wrap up your email with a solid email signature that ties into the subject heading.

Do you need help with writing prospecting emails? Let me know –

David Gargaro