Sunday, April 25, 2021

Is Your Email Marketing Strategy Doing What It's Suppose To?

This isn't about me promoting some package because I've done my own email marketing using my little bit of a brain at zero cost.  In fact, many people have done this without using a service when starting out.  Some even do their own A/B testing (comparing one item to another by seeing the final outcome by desired numbers) and only use a service for its other offerings like newsletter design.

Don't Give Into the Pressure to Buy Right Away

Yes, when you start your online venture, they do come out like wolves looking for a sale.  Not to say these internet hosts, online merchants, and other companies trying to make a living are bad.  It's just that sometimes it pays to look into your own talents first before testing something that may be a gamble or investment.

Learn the Basics Easily

Many of us can write a marketing email or one that's engaging or grabs attention right away.  While it's good to incorporate both, it all starts with the subject line.  The best subject lines are honest, to the point, and descriptive without using too many words. And you don't have to be a copywriter to do this effectively.

Once you learn how to not trigger spam folders by using words like 'FREE', or obvious misspellings of sales terms, the next order of business is appealing to the receiver.  You may be launching a referral campaign that a client or merchant has extended to you and new referrals mean money in your pocket. However, you may have limited time to reach your quota.  

Pay Attention to the Recipient

Hey, there's no income like lazy income but how you word the email subject makes the difference in landing a sale and being ignored forever.  So the best measure is to word the subject line so that the receiver knows there's something in it for them - a discount on a product or service.  Maybe there's an offer that will benefit them right away that's not commonly found.  Look for the hidden benefit and promote it in the subject line.

Make Each Paragraph Matter

Use the first paragraph as a lead-in to the subject line and create a scenario they can relate to. One mistake some sellers (and professional marketers) make is writing lengthy paragraphs.  People don't have time for drivel and have gotten hip to those long landing pages that take more than 15 minutes to read. By the end of the paragraph, let them know you have a solution to their problem...and you have it now.

The next paragraph should describe your product or service in detail.  Be truthful and use this precious space to address common problems it will solve, along with the benefits of ordering right how.  Your approach should be professional but use words that appease the senses.  These word choices may relate to common feelings like confidence, ego-boosting, playing on a fear, a sense of power, or greater security for them or their family.

Ideally, your third paragraph should be your CTA (or call-to-action) which winds down but summarizes everything with a sense of urgency (e.g. 'For a limited time only...').  If you want to make this paragraph your fourth, make sure that the third paragraph offers beneficial information or statistical information that supports your mission.  Remember, testimonials (whether real or not) don't always hold up unless they come from know experts or respectable personalities.

Respect the Recipient and Don't Sell them Short

Once again, emails should be informative, short, and not too salesy.  While there were many YouTube videos on the subject, many contributors want for you to enroll in their classes, and some just talk too damn much.  I can't subject you to that since every audience is different and there's a unique method for every sale.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Protect Yourself Against Deadbeat Clients

Unless you're working through an outsourcing company that offers inexperienced freelancers zero protection, you can stand up to these people without losing your mind.  Some will test you and relish in the fact that they got under your skin deep enough so that you'll do anything to end the give your work away.  This is a tactic I've experienced when I worked for oDesk (now Upwork) but even working remotely, you can lay down some ground rules.

The first step to avoiding problem clients is to not fall into their trap.  When money's tight, this can be a difficult call but freelancing newbies must think about the future.  While these few things don't make clients bad by default, it's just easier to keep things moving in a different direction when you encounter these scenarios. 

They Request a Free Sample of Work

More than a decade ago, I applied for work at See's main offices as a data entry clerk.  Though I'd passed the keyboarding test, they wanted to see how I interacted with others while working.  It would only take an hour, so I thought 'Why not?'  Not only did I get the job but I felt better knowing this was a large corporation and not some start-up or home kitchen office making this request.

This is why all freelancers need an online presence that promotes their work and credentials.  If someone asks for a freebie, you send them the link to your profile/portfolio page and tell them to get back to you.  Seriously, there's no need to debate this if the client is some unknown entity.  If they are large (or respected in your industry), it's your call but hopefully, you have enough good references and online real estate to sell them quickly.

There are No Boundaries Established

A lot of new freelancers feel once they've come on board, they have no say in anything.  That happened to me about 10 years ago when I had several streams of income, along with good references, but I was still happy for anyone who happened to "find" me.  An overseas client learned about me and offered me work right away.  Once I got my style guide and payment within a day, I was pretty content.  However, when the holidays happened, I had to go into collector mode and realized I knew nothing about this client.  As the weeks passed, I not only held off working for him but made the rounds to all of his contacts that payment was late and that I was considering legal action.  By the end of the year, I got my payment but the relationship ended on bad terms.

Even if you work through an outsourcing company and something doesn't feel right, you can ask to set milestones. If the job is large, it's best to either ask for a percentage or a flat fee once a step has been completed.  Sometimes, when clients decide to change the terms, you can also request at least a partial payment before going further.  In this instance, it can't hurt to get the outsourcing company involved but if you don't have a little arsenal (like a lawyer or union), you can threaten

Monday, April 5, 2021

Selling Your Proofreading Skills Directly to Small Businesses

Many freelance writers are able to diversify their skill set by offering their attention to detail for short-term gigs.  While many of these are offered by online proofreading or editing companies, some of the hiring requirements may call for a bachelor's degree or higher.  Truth be told, the pay offered isn't ideal for the freelancer looking to do this full time but in an age where good content writing sells, there are options!

One reason a lot of companies have rigid hiring requirements is that we tend to use bad grammar in our everyday language.  Now, if you're thinking "Duh?",  think in terms of the reader and how their views may be swayed when they read slang in a business document.  Other companies use freelancers to proofread or edit academic documents, which tend to be on the more formal side.

Companies that don't require experience or a college degree tend to pay on the really low side but can be good for getting feet wet. Although some people would rather invest in a training program (honestly, I haven't verified if non-degree holding graduates have been successful at retaining steady work), there are many offering varying curriculum and price points.  My recommendation would be to go with the local college, which may take longer but at least there's some accountability.

However, if you're confident that your wordsmith skills have that snap, focus on how you can re-vamp online copy, e-commerce, and social media.  We all know this doesn't require perfect grammar but the right language that connects with the targeted audience. This includes colloquialisms, incomplete sentences, and anything that will catch their eye at first glance.

Packaging Your Talents

Of course, your SEO skills will play a role in this as well.  And you may be thinking, "Aren't you talking about being a copywriter?"... yes AND no!  See, it's all in how you package your talents.

For example, you may have read lengthy landing pages written as one long block of text.  Somebody was paid good money to come up with the words but the right formatting (smaller paragraphs that focus on a single topic) is what drives the sale.  Your proofreading talents may also include refreshing the text so that it's relevant to the topic.  

No one wants to read about how good a local dish is, they want to hear about the sizzle, intense aroma, ... or how you can still smell it hours later. The right words + formatting + SEO = a winning formula.  And let's not forget spelling everyday words and responsible use of punctuation.  

Selling Your Services

If you work with the usual onboarding sites, you may want to include examples (even if their specs) in your portfolio.  These may include an analysis of why a particular piece of online content may not be effective, with an improved version next to it as a PDF or link.  You can also create a before-and-after website where you can demonstrate to current site owners how your expertise will help improve their bottom line.

Your current roster of clients may respond positively to this when you upsell the convenience factor.  They know that it's easy to overlook typos and having a second set of eyes always helps in the long run.  Either way, be prepared to bring it.  If you have access to psychology in ad formats and sales language, this will help your initial presentation.  Remember, a lot of sellers don't have experience in this area so let them know your services will bring great value!