My current campaign for freelance writing work: how it’s going
Awhile back I decided I to launch a campaign for freelance writing assignments on my “significant” birthday—May 23.
I would test the recommendations I outlined in my book, Real Skills, Real Income, A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less. Does a book that suggests you “just pick up the phone” still work when we are newly bombarded with nuisance sales-call spam?
Since May 23, I have phoned and / or emailed over 70 contacts. Some are new names, others were pulled from past marketing campaigns.
Only one person was suggested to me as someone who may be in the market for a freelance writer. The rest of my calls were out of the blue.
On most calls, I phone, leave a voicemail message if the person doesn’t answer, and send a prewritten email that I customize for the individual. If I don’t have both the email address and the phone number, I adjust accordingly.
So far I have pinned down no actual assignments, but I am confident it will happen.
You may interpret this as failure, but I don’t. You may interpret this as a lot of rejection, but I don’t. Some people don’t need my service at this time, others don’t answer the phone. So it goes. No drama here.
My conclusion so far is exceedingly positive: It’s amazing how open people are to a phone call from a freelancer they have never met.
I had thought that people are so used to hanging up and blocking calls that they would hang up rudely and maybe even scream the F word in my ear. Hasn’t happened at all.
Some people respond to my call or my email by telling me they have no need at this time but will keep my name on file. Some take no action whatsoever. Only one person hung up on me during my call preliminaries—but without anger or swearing.
How I make phone calls
I make at least one phone call every weekday that I am not on vacation or otherwise away from my desk for the entire day. In my book I recommend doing a lot more calls than that, but my level of effort feels right for me at this time. I am going for consistent action because I have found that once I quit something, even for only a few days, it is hard to get back into it.
Here is what you should know about my calls. I do them all myself, no recordings. I do them only between 9 am and 5 pm central time, adjusting for the time zone of the phone number I am calling. I always leave a voicemail when no one answers.
I am low key. I don’t sell. I introduce myself and ask if they use freelancers or have thought about it. Then I simply participate in any conversation that ensues.
I am highly selective about who I call. I cull contacts from LinkedIn, commercial list providers, the internet and Google, and directories of professional organizations to which I belong. I research people to determine if they work in marketing communications, marketing research or training, my target functions, before phoning.
I only call American companies since I understand our business culture the best. I prefer the Chicago area since that’s where I live.
I look at industries in which I have a background, especially property / casualty insurance and asset management, but also HR, banking and other areas in which I am comfortable.
The challenge is not “rejection.” It’s compiling a good call list. It’s so time consuming to assemble a phone list, complete with phone numbers and email addresses. I haven’t found any sources that approach my quality standards. (I’m working on this and will post more later.)
My business model
I prefer long-term relationships similar to being a payroll employee (though clearly not fitting the IRS definition of an employee).
My Selling Proposition (but in no ways a “Unique” Selling Proposition) is “Writing in service to your business.” That sums up my approach.
What follows shows how my email template carries out that theme. The phrases below in italics appear in the email; the nonitalic is my commentary to you.
Shine at writing and editing dense content, including research and corporate performance data as well as training concepts. These projects require diligence and patience, two of my strengths.
My rates are mid-range to support typical day-to-day work as well as special assignments. This means high double digits when calculated on an hourly basis. I’d prefer a steadier stream of commonplace projects, including simple news releases and blog posts, over occasional special projects.
Provide ongoing (free) current awareness research in your specialty as our relationship develops. As a freelancer, I spend very little time on reading about my preferred industries—even with narrow niching, there is too much to read. An ongoing relationship would financially support staying up-to-date on a narrow topic.
Some of my best clients are tremendous writers and appreciate having someone else organize copy for their review. Answers the question, Why should I hire you when I myself have been writing for years?
Adept at adopting your writing style for consistency with your positioning. . . . Creative but not an ad-agency sort of person. That’s me!
So that’s where my freelancing relaunch stands. I’ll keep you posted.
Originally posted 7-4-16