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Thursday, October 8, 2020

What New Freelancers Can Do to Attract Better Clients

via Gfycat

 If you're thinking 'any client that pays is alright with me', you may want to change your thought process for the long-term.  A good client not only pays on time but will want repeat business AND possibly refer your services to their colleagues.  This, of course, eliminates the time you spend hustling or cold-calling by email (which may not bring much of a return since this type of mail tends to land in the junk pile).  It can also free you from having to learn personality quirks and other things that come with the freelancing hustle.

While you may be a person that loves to meet new people, this process can wear on you after a while.  It's not quite like having a storefront if your clients aren't local.  If you're regional or global, this may mean learning about different cultures that affect everything from communication to how you get paid.  

The 15 ways freelancers can stand out is a good start to defining who you are and what you can do for a potential client.  Most newbies think in terms of offering the lowest price (there's a strategy to this if you're serious) in order to land the gig but offering yourself on a platter with all the trimmings will filter out the deadbeats.  It's kind of like the old-school job classifieds where the legit companies usually stated the job description, benefits, and more in a medium-to-large display ad but hole-in-the-wall operations often used no more than two lines.

Unless you come with a lot of connections in your industry, presenting yourself in the best light pays off in a big way.  A good social media profile with relevant links and education/industry certifications can get you some notice.  However, using a platform like LinkedIn to tell a story about what you have to offer clients is much better than having a bunch of degrees, or using glossy words to describe yourself.

Don't get me wrong, education and power words go hand-in-hand but don't make that all you have to offer a client.  The right storytelling techniques for freelancers can help you develop a voice that not only reflects the quality of your work but will make your profile stronger than your competitors.  It's kind of like dating.  If you wonder why you keep attracting the wrong mate, often you'll find that a makeover (either external or internal...or a little of both) gives you the confidence to build relationships with people who can make things happen.  And that's in a good way!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Should New Content Writers Give Away Their Work?

Instead of giving a yes or no answer, here's a quick summary in question form... what are you looking to achieve?  If it's just a temporary gig that pays a small flat rate, think twice before signing on.  However, freebies that can lead to increased exposure should be done on a secondary or tertiary basis.  And that's only if you're new to freelance writing.

  • Organizations linked to your niche industry - if this is a nonprofit with a limited budget BUT a lot of traffic, there's room for negotiation.  From a byline to a link to your relevant blog to the possibility of earning a paid spot.  Some writers work their way into editor positions or assistant with communication duties.  This move can add to your resume if you're a student, career-changer, or looking to get back into the working world after a long absence.
  • Outsourcing Companies

Monday, September 28, 2020

Do You Know How to Measure YOUR Social Media ROI

Chances are strong that you were told early in your freelancing career to just do it.  Just sign up for a social media account.  Just join.  Just send and accept invites. And repeat the process until you burn out or eventually stop caring.  There's also a good chance that the people who gave you this insightful approach know very little about marketing...AND they probably use the terms marketing/advertising/promotion interchangeably.  And guess what, when your social media accounts become a chore or you're stuck, they've got nothing. Not a cheat sheet or a true word of encouragement.

Well, there are some ways to filter your process because if you do what the bots tell you (eg their 'friend' suggestion), you will end up with a bunch of contacts who really don't care.  Take that back, a small percentage may have a genuine interest but maybe not enough to consider for engagement. 

So, the process for configuring ROI (return on investment) is really simple for small businesses.  While everyone has a different goal for social media, here are the fundamentals:

1. Focus on one goal at a time.  If you're using social media to engage and promote or sell, make sure your campaigns are set up for such.  For instance, urging someone to buy that just signed up for emails may not work for your niche.

2.  Look at the numbers every month.  Google Analytics makes this pretty easy or you can just look at your social media account stats and calculate manually.  This can take a while but at least you know the true numbers.

3. Keep content consistent.  Many bloggers/vloggers turned influencers tend to get lost in the glory of residual income.  Or worse, the content may become too abstract or personal as we tend to go with our gut or have something on our brain.  Think of what your audience is expecting and go from there.

If you find that you enjoy the details and making progress charts, this may be something you can add to your current list of freelancing services.  I'd go for the full digital marketing certificate instead of limiting yourself to social media marketing.  Google also offers free and low-cost resources that can help you understand the basics better as well

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Freelancers...Watch Out For the Scammers in These Scary Times

No, seriously, it's worse than before.  People of the worst kind are taking unfair advantage of people affected by the pandemic.  Some are even getting scammy in the wake of our current social culture...but that's a different discussion.  Freelancers, especially newbies, should be aware of predators looking to exploit you because of your need to work.

How did I come to this conclusion?  Suddenly, there are more "experts" that can help you do the following:

  • Earn money today
  • Earn money with no experience
  • Earn $1000s this week

While this may be a slight exaggeration, I think you get what I'm saying here...especially on Facebook.  I've seen more ads claiming that people can make fast cash with little to no effort.  All I can say is do your homework and take note of some suggestive phrases scammers use when they're trying to sell you something.  Courtesy of Lipstick Alley

  • They want you to pre-order a product they haven't created yet.
  • Sell e-books and YouTube courses with regurgitated or plagiarized info.
  • "I have 20 copies left available and they're going fast"... followed by a fake countdown to induce scarcity, "15 copies left, 10 copies left..."

Monday, September 21, 2020

Having a Plan B For Hosting Virtual Events

 You may be like many freelancers who've decided to teach others your specialty or one of the many things you do exceptionally well.  This is a great idea for most who enjoy public speaking and have the patience to deal with a variety of personalities.  However, I'm finding a lot of novice hosts lack execution or what to do when plans fall through.

Since the pandemic, I've sat in on a lot of online teaching experiences outside of a college or university setting.  And you may have observed the following among those who call themselves "experts" - 

  • They fail to check the audio
  • They fail to include the link that allows participants to check their connection before class
  • The presentations look sloppy (and this was for a proofreading class...that costs me 100 bucks and was NON-REFUNDABLE)
  • Failure to tell participants to turn off all background noise or sit in a quiet space, if possible

One incident that particularly hurt my heart recently was a writing class that was originally live but once I got around to enrolling, it was canceled because not enough people signed on.  So I wait for months and was elated when I was notified it would be available online.  However, my first disappointment was that the price wasn't reduced (I mean you're not renting physical space, right?).

Then came the day of the event.  The host was disorganized and chose to have private convos with select participants while others waited.  Not everyone was introduced into the group and dialogue was all over the place.  Although the ignored participants got an apology a week later, his first impression made me mad that again, I couldn't freaking get my money back.

Now, I'm no one  Many of us are seeing life beyond the hustle and really want to shine on name recognition alone.  But it's just like that receptionist at any given corporate gig.  The person answering phones today and can be THE BOSS of everything tomorrow.  Don't believe me? Then check out the hard luck stories of these forever bosses.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Why You Need to Perfect Your Pitch

The freelancing world is definitely getting more competitive as many former workers are now joining the ever-growing pool.  There may even be a select number which is ineligible for COVID-19 unemployment benefits or a severance package so tactics like underpricing may be more rampant than normal.  While we know the joke may be on them, it can't hurt to prepare oneself to lay down the perfect pitch at the right time.

According to the Business Collective, common business pitching mistakes include - 

  • Being too pushy
  • Not getting a second opinion
  • Using too much industry jargon or buzzwords
However, I'd like to add that not listening to the receiver and using an irrelevant pitch can be just as dangerous.  What's the difference, you ask?  Let's say you meet a big name client at a virtual networking forum and you go for what you know using the tiny bit of character space available - your services and contact information in a single small paragraph.

While you may know their title and industry, do you know why they decided to attend the networking session?  Is there an opening in a specific department or a project they're overseeing?  Maybe an expansion that will call for permanent staff (which may be your ultimate goal)?  Find out their intentions before opening yourself up.

Even if the information isn't readily available, don't be afraid to ask. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Do You Need a Business Card Makeover?

Although COVID-19 makes public gatherings a little difficult these days, there's nothing wrong with being prepared when an opportunity comes a-knockin'.  If you've been a freelancer for a minute, then you know this happens when least expected.  If you keep your business cards in a purse or carrier that you switch up to match your outfit, then you know this happens when you've got the wrong bag in your possession.

If your business card game isn't bringing many returns...or your find people still ask 'Are you on social media?', 'Do you have a direct email address', then it may be time to address some often-overlooked factors.  For those of us who chose the simplest design at the stationery store or did the DIY thing, there's a lot that can be left out.  It happens to the best of us.
Many years ago, mine was using my cool mononym against a psychedelic background.  While I managed to squeeze in contact information and this was before social media, I got hit with questions.  Back then, my problem was not knowing what an elevator pitch was.  Although I knew how to fake it, prospects were still less than impressed.

Be Different or Practical?
As you can tell, I wasn't practical but I knew the downfalls of adding too much information.  You know the ones...they contain a scripture (and it's not a religious fact, they may have cursed you for making a slow payment) or a "witty" quote.  Then they must share EVERY social media logo they belong to (even if they seldom post or share).

Now, below are some pretty awesome business card designs.