Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Advantages of Checking Out Your Competition

Sometimes when we see our competition, we take notes, help ourselves to their ideas (hopefully with a tweak or two), or just laugh at the mistakes they make.  While all of these behavior patterns are normal, sometimes doing a quick analysis can save us money or time in the future.  I'm not talking about serious data collection and running figures synonymous with A/B testing.  Just note how freelancers in your industry are building a rapport and how you do things better.

Meeting and Studying LinkedIn Contacts

I'll admit that I don't do the LinkedIn thing like I should.  I know the features and take full advantage of ways to link my online certifications, linkable properties, and other visuals.  While they have come through for regular job prospects, it's also become a hub for multilevel marketers (MLMs) who seem to come to the conclusion that I need a career change.  I mean, really, what you get from my profile is someone looking to sell life insurance online?  During a pre-vax pandemic?  Okay, then. While the last contact was particularly pushy, I haven't given up on LinkedIn as a source of legitimate networking.

So the past couple of months have been a little mentally taxing and during these times, reading comprehension isn't my thing.  Hey, ownership is everything but this time it worked to my advantage.  I get a direct msg from someone who appears to have guest blog post leads.  His picture looks nice and the message, though brief, is well-written.  Okay, why not send this guy my personal email...as I can just block him if things seem shady later on, right?

Looking at the Initial Communication Stages

So the first oversight on my part was due to the fact that I initially thought the list of leads would be sent through LinkedIn. Once that was cleared up, I check my spam folder the next day.  The first thing I noticed was the email came from another individual and the first person I encountered never followed up.

Then I got the idea of the whole process by reading the email.  The idea was NOT to hook me up with leads (which kind of doesn't make sense since I didn't know this person to begin with) but sell me writing services.  Once again, people aren't paying attention to their prospects but out of morbid curiosity, I keep reading.

Checking Out the Goods

At first glance, I'm a little envious because this person's credits are a little more recent than mine.  I've willingly taken on no-byline jobs as a way to focus on other long-term projects.  The only thing about this process is getting away from milestones and allowing more time to pass than originally planned.  It happens but sometimes we can get a wake-up call that shakes our boots a little.

Then I see that the introductory paragraph is written in the worst English...and I won't go into language mechanics here.  However, the entire email looked like a cut and paste and I'm scared to click on these bylined links.  From the looks of things, this person had no online portfolio, just an annoying sales letter they were using for promotional purposes.

Seeing Patterns and Moving On

Of course, I got a second email in the next day or two.  It was basically a repeat message from a different person begging me to use their blogging service.  This time, there was a different name than the previous contacts and had dirt-cheap ratesSo...assuming I want to work with you, who do I call?  Are you a team of content contributors?  Do you have visual content on a known site or your own domain?  In short, these emails had a lot of words but said little about the actual offerings.

At the end of the day, this person may have something of value but it's kind of like that steak dinner served on a garbage can lid.  However, they've reminded me that strong communication on the first contact is super important.  This also goes back to marketing fundamentals and looking at prospects before pursuing them aggressively.  Truthfully, I feel bad for any new freelancer or small business person who takes this approach but harsh criticism is what keeps many of us afloat.

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