Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Outsourcing and its pitfalls

What are some of the ways you believe you can increase you income as a freelance writer? You can of course, charge more per project, increase your client base, increase your cold call rate or diversify in the projects to agree to undertake- an article writer tries his hand at technical writing or a copywriter does an article for a trade publication etc.

Some writers though believe in going down the 'outsourcing' path. By this I mean that they get other writers to write for projects they've bid and won. They may not be a good technical writer, but they bid on x project and if they win it; they get someone else to write it. They take a small percentage of the fee and by doing this, hope they can build a substantial income from it.

The pitfalls of going down this path are many, and often more dangerous that anticipated. The writer you hire may not be very good, and then this becomes a direct reflection of your work. Or, he may be very good and decide to increase his fees or take on another project, leaving you stranded. And the percentage you make off him is never going to be enough to justify the time spent hiring another and bidding for work on his behalf.

A wiser option is to look at some of the suggestions outlined at the start of this post and see where and how you can increase you income source, by relying on no one but yourself.

Happy writing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Show Me The Money!

What do you do when you've completed a project and the client rejects it? Do you charge for it, do you dismiss the fees or do you ask for a percentage of your initial quote?

Actually, depending on the client and your given situation, all three of the above choices apply.

Charging for a rejected project: You can charge full fees if you believe that the client is going to use your project or if you feel that he's not being honest with you in some way. You can also charge full fees if you've delivered the exact requirements, though with writing, this can be difficult as style is hard to compartmentalize. But if you feel you've followed the exact brief and have offered a number of suitable revisions (all of which do take time to write), then don't hesitate to ask for a fee at the end of it.

Dismissing your fees: If you've delivered a project but the client is very unhappy; you may want to rethink asking for a fee. Before doing so however, offer to revise your work first. And if the client still rejects this you can walk away from it; especially if you believe you can get additional work from your client (see previous posts- Fresh Starts) or if you believe charging him for work he's not satisfied with will ruin your reputation (eg.gaining negative feedback on job sites).

Charging a percentage of your fees: If you have spent a considerable time on the project and have followed the brief to the best of your ability, then you may want to consider charging a small percentage for the time you've put in. Most clients will be willing to pay you for your services especially if you've done a good job, even though it's not the style they require.

So, before dismissing a project completely, consider your options and realize that most clients can be won over for other projects to which your writing style may be better suited.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Getting It Write

For those following this blog, there's still time to catch my bi-monthly newsletter, Getting It Write, which will go out this afternoon. This time, I speak of how to increase your earnings and review a new freelance writers site.
Happy Writing!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A follow up story with a moral to it!

As a follow up from my previous post where I mentioned that the client did not like my work; I waited for one week before sending a very nice 'I'm sorry we didn't agree on this project, but I hope to work with you on future projects' note. And the client came back with a request for some other work. This work does not involve the kind of style his other projects required, and so it should be something we can both agree on.

Moral of the story- don't be disheartened, never be rude and always remember that Customer Service is very important! A negative situation can be rectified into something positive and even profitable, just with a little patience, determination and a whole lot of customer care!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fresh Starts- How to profit from rejection.

What happens when a client turns you down? Apart from your ego being delivered a great big bruise?

It happened to me just last week. I had a client who loved the job I did for them. I got paid for it and then they came back to me with 4 new projects and a very quick deadline date. So, I spent my weekend working on them (and note, I usually don't work too much over the weekends as that is designated family time) and submitted all 4 drafts; only to have the client come back and say they hated them! Not just one or two of them; but all 4! So, I re-did one, and re-submitted it; and they still said it 'lacked enough to keep the readers interest going'!

Now you must wonder why I'm blogging about this. After all, no one wants to admit writing poor copy. But this is my point- is my copy poor? Or is it just not in synergy with what the client feels she wants? Did I completely miss the brief? Or was I not briefed clearly enough?

I know I'm a good writer, and to prove it to myself (sometimes even good writers need a bit of ego-boosting, especially after situations like this!); I spent the rest of the day applying for jobs. And when I opened my inbox the next day, I had 4 jobs waiting- an ebook/blogs to be written, an article for a business writer, editing a business book and an article for an IT company; a total combined worth of more than a couple of thousand dollars. And I could afford to turn down two projects and still be in profit. Besides which, there's nothing like a few great projects to cheer you up!

There are a number of ways to react to rejection; but by turning it into a learning experience, you will ensure you still profit from it.

1. Don't take it personally! It's not about you (unless you've been totally obnoxious to the client), but about what the client needs.

2. If you do get rejected, note that it's nothing new to writers. ALL writers get rejected from time to time, even the literary greats!

3. Decide on a course of action that's best for you. If you do want to re-submit, then do so, but only after taking some time to learn what the client really wants. Call him, email him or do some more research. Otherwise, you will be wasting both yours and their time.

4. If you are going to call/correspond with the client, always WAIT to cool down before doing so. Sending off a hasty note when your emotions are high is never a good idea and you cannot undo the words you've written or spoken. So take some time to relax, let off some steam, put it aside and do something else, and return to it only when you can see things objectively.

5. Even if you believe you have a strong synergy (as I did in this case), you can sometimes have a writing style that is totally different to what the client wants. It's okay. You don't have to conquer every single project and trying to do so is going to be frustrating for you and your client.

6. Believe in yourself. There are thousands of projects out there. If you're new to freelancing and need more jobs, then losing a client can feel devastating. But using this newly acquired concentrated energy and channelling it into more productive sources (like searching new job banks, applying for jobs etc) will result in positive results; so use your time wisely.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Saying NO to non-paying jobs

This post stems from the fact that a lot of freelance writers take up additional client requested jobs because
a) they feel that in refusing to take up the job, the client will go elsewhere.
b) they don't know how to say no.
c) they feel that it can't hurt 'this once'; not realizing that it's never just once.

If you do take on an additional request, be it to market a blog or follow up on a sales letter you've sent, the message you send out to your client is that you are willing to be their dogsbody! You will not come across as a professional writer, but as an amateur who is willing to play to enter the game. And while you may indeed be starting out in your freelance career; advertising it via this manner is not a way to land better and higher paying jobs. The client who feels they can have you for little or nothing, is going to give you a lot of work; and this in turn will not free up your time to look for the real paying jobs.

So while it's okay to take on extra work- in fact, in some cases, I'd even encourage it; just remember that it's your time and you need to get paid for it. When pitching for new business or placing a bid, if there's extra work involved, then cost it as you would any writing job- based on an hourly rate or a per-piece rate; whatever method you're comfortable with. And even if the job proposal states that marketing the blog you've written is part of the deal, then add on a fee and make sure you mention it on a separate line. Extra jobs like marketing or follow-up sales calls can be in fact, more time consuming than you've imagined (think: clients are not in or don't respond and you need to call them more than once; or remember how long it takes you to market your own services, now double that because that's what the client will expect).

While you may indeed lose some clients when you refuse to do their extra work at no cost, in the lost run, clients who pay for what you are worth are the clients that you really want to keep.

Happy writing!

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Freelance Writer's Marketing Plan for Success.

2009 has to be the year for you to make money! But wishing is really not enough. What you need is a kick-ass marketing plan to sell your business. That’s right. It is a business, it’s yours and it’s not going to grow if you don’t push for this to happen.

Wanting newer clients and pitching for jobs on various job sites is not going to get you on track. It’s amazing how many freelance writers I know, give up or wonder why they are not meeting mortgage payments, or worse yet, decide to lower their rates; just to meet their monthly targets (if they’ve set any, that is). Freelance writing, just like any freelance business, is really hard if you do not set yourself goals, market your services and treat your company just as you would any other business. And just because you are freelancing, it really doesn’t mean that you work only 3-4 hours a week; at least, not if you want to see your company develop and bring in the money. Even if this is a part-time venture, you need to take it seriously and put in the time.

So, the first thing to do, is decide on a niche. And more on that in my next blog. You’ll see why. To get started, write out your Marketing Plan.

1.Give your company a name: It doesn’t matter what you want to call it, but you need to put a name to your services- It could be John Smith’s Copywriting Services or Martha McMillan’s Technical Writing services. By defining what you do, you are well on your way to selling your services to others.

2.Write out a plan: Planning for success accounts for 50% of achieving it. The rest is hard work and dedication. So put down your plan on a spreadsheet or word document or a big piece on paper, which will be taped someplace prominent.

Your plan will have some or all of the following:

Who are your clients?
What is your niche?
What are your short- mid – long term goals?
What is the object of you freelancing? (as opposed to finding a proper paying 9-5 job)
How do you plan to achieve your goals?
How do you track your goals?
How do you increase your client base?
How do you fit all of the above into your working week?
What is your advertising/promotional plan?
What is your advertising budget?- Can you divert some funds from your income towards it?

3.Tape up your plan:
You need to see this plan everyday, so make sure you have it some place prominent- on your desktop, on the wall next to your computer, in your diary- it doesn’t matter where, just as long as you can see it.

4.Remember to revise: Things change- you may be able to work longer hours and get in more clients, or maybe you’ve done a course and now feel ready to increase your fees. Your marketing plan should be able to accommodate these changes. In fact, plan to revise it at least once every 6 months.

So, go on and get started. It should take less than an hour to do, but the results from having a Marketing Plan will be obvious throughout the year.