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Bob Bly’s very best marketing advice for freelancers

Bob Bly, perhaps the most well-known freelance copywriter in America, is level-headed and extremely successful. He publishes huge quantities of excellent advice.

However, I recently heard in an audio interview with Ed Gandia an exceptionally astute observation from Bly that really stands out.

Bly was talking about freelance writers who call him to discuss at length how to negotiate project parameters and price with a prospective client. Typically the writer is tormented as to what to say, how to say it, and how firm to be in his requirements and such. He dreads losing out on the assignment.

Bly asks if the writer has enough good paying work without this project.

It’s no surprise that the writer desperately needs this work and has been counting on it since it appeared on his radar.

Bly points out that this is exactly what the problem is. Writers (and other freelancers and consultants) negotiate much more effectively when they are not dependant on this one client to meet their bills.

Specifically, Bly recommends that we consistently do twice as much marketing as we require to stay busy. That way when the prospect says we are too expensive, we calmly state that the price is the number previously given. If the prospect wants us, he must claim our time quickly before the opening in our schedule is given to another project. And obviously, if the price is too high, he should work with someone else.

No drama.

When more work comes our way than we can handle, we have the freedom to turn down assignments that do not appeal to us or don’t pay well enough. We can schedule the projects for a date weeks or months out if they still want us (and being in demand often makes us more attractive). We can also refer the client to another freelancer if we desire.

(Some freelancers oversee someone else doing the work, but Bly doesn’t work this way.)

Effective, consistent marketing gives us the confidence to charge higher rates and helps assure that our plate is always full.

Originally posted 5-12-15

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