As freelance writers, we know that our work depends largely on how well that we write. It also depends on personal marketing, what we need to do to drum up new business. Thankfully, I have gained a number of customers that found me online. This nearly effortless way of connecting is my favorite method as someone found my work online, liked it and made contact.
Oh, were it always that easy! But, it isn’t — there are times we need to hit the pavement, pick up the phone and otherwise query people for work.
This is where many freelancers struggle and I am no exception. I enjoy connecting with people, but when it comes to face-to-face or over-the-phone sales pitches, I sometimes crumble.
I know that I am not the only one that finds it difficult to market oneself. Online, my websites are up to date, my social media efforts are current and active, but the direct connection angle is truly my weakest business link. Fortunately, I have learned a few things down through the years to help me connect and succeed at what I do:
1. Join a business group — About a year ago, I started to attend a Christian business group, but I did so quite by accident. One day, while sitting in a coffee shop, I noticed that dozens of people were stopping by within minutes. Soon, a man stood up and announced the start of a “HisBiz Christian Network” meeting and I listened in. After the meeting I spoke with the man, Trey Baker, and got more information. I’ve attended most of the monthly meetings since then and have connected with others including potential customers.
2. Ask for help — You can’t do it all nor should you try. Yes, that is a relief. No, it doesn’t leave you without the responsibility of finding work. Instead, if you need help, just ask. Your spouse or partner may be able to pitch in or a business associate may be able to introduce you to someone who needs your services. One of my connections recently asked that I sit in for her Business Network International meeting, an opportunity that enabled me to connect with several business owners. I’m on one person’s radar for work and expect that I’ll get an assignment through my next meeting…as a stand-in again.
3. Be thoroughly prepared — I have several business cards for websites I manage, but my main marketing website (which is NOT this one) was dormant. Following my BNI meeting I revived by website and ordered new business cards. The information on both the website and my cards reflects what I can offer customers today, with no guessing needed on part of potential customers. My future business meetings mean that my new cards will be ready and handed out like candy.
4. Make a positive first impression — I like this saying, “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.” I don’t know who said that, but it is true — people will form an opinion about you within mere seconds. Often, that opinion is wrong. That means wearing the right clothes when you solicit for business, establishing eye contact and getting right to your pitch once you are done exchanging pleasantries. That means not rambling on either — say what you need in as little time as possible. Listen carefully. Answer questions. Present your offer. Get the other person’s business card whether you do business now, later or never.
5. Make a media kit — We’re so conditioned to doing everything online that we might forget that some people prefer to see hard copies of what you do. A media kit comes in handy for people who aren’t sitting in front of a computer, except when checking email. Your kit can be as simple as a one-page overview, one that Molly Gold says should offer a snapshot of what you do. Brevity and clarity are extremely important here with your information easily scannable by the eye and absorbed. Your contact information should be included as well.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. Review your current strategy and develop a plan that works for you. It need not be set in stone, but it should convey who you and what you can do for your customers. You can also tailor your strategy to fit different customers, perhaps putting an emphasis on your web copy with one and your press release service for someone else. The best plan, however, is to list each of your writing services.