Hi there! It’s an amazing day and I hope you’re loving every minute of it.
I have a special bonus article for you. Enjoy…and if you like this article, please do share it with other writers using the social media sharing buttons above!
Bonus Article: Are You Marketing the Hard Way?
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2,050 words)
Right now registration is open for my Volume Marketing Challenge for Freelance Writers, where writers use the power of volume to improve their pitching, discover which form of marketing is right for them…and land more gigs. We already have about 20 brave warriors—er, writers—on board, and we are going to kick some serious butt.
The four forms of marketing we’re blasting out during the Challenge are:
- Sales letters (emailed or snail mailed)
- Phone calls
- Social media
(By social media, by the way, I mean “actively reaching out to prospects via LinkedIn or Twitter,” not “posting nicely-lit photos of your meals on Instagram and hoping prospects are so impressed that they cannot help but hire you immediately.”)
I’m hearing from a lot of writers who are interested in joining our hardy tribe, but they’re saying…let me try not to dramatize this too much…
OMG I WANT MORE WRITING JOBS BUT THOSE TYPES OF MARKETING ARE SO SCARY AND HARD!!!!!! WHYYYYYY? WHY NOT STARTING AN EMAIL LIST OR PERFECTING MY WEBSITE SEO OR LEAVING COMMENTS ON BLOGS EDITORS READ OR USING FREELANCE JOB BOARDS???
Then they collapse into a heap of anxiety and I yank them up by the lapels, slap them, and shout “Get yourself together, man!”
Well, I do that in my head, anyway.
In real life, I get it. We all want things to be easy. Who wants to work hard when they can work, well, less hard? Who wants to struggle when they can have fun instead? Who wants to do scary things when instead they can model themselves after stock images of freelancers, tapping at their keyboards while sipping from a steaming cup of coffee?
The bad news is, easy and fun come with a price. It’s easy and fun to tweet Hemingway quotes, post a profile on a freelance job board, write about your kids’ packed lunches on your blog, and fiddle with your website SEO.
But let me ask you this: The easy marketing and the fun marketing…is it getting you all the freelance writing jobs you want? Or is it wasting your time and energy, and leaving you wondering at the end of a “busy” day why you don’t have enough paying work?
The Best Goals Are the Hard Goals
Have you ever heard of someone setting a goal to watch an entire Project Runway marathon, finish off a whole pint of Haagen Dazs, or sleep in on the weekends?
Probably not. That’s because any goal that’s worth going after is by nature difficult. If it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be a goal. You’d already be doing it.
So you want to be a freelance writer. That’s a hard goal. But it’s worth it.
The Pain of Not Succeeding Is WORSE Than the Pain of Hard Marketing
I started out as a freelance writer in mid-1997 with almost zero experience. But boy did I need to make it work. I’d had 26 jobs before that—yes, 26 jobs by the age of 28—and never wanted to work for someone else again. I was tired of taking a 45-minute subway ride to and from work each day, getting paid a tiny percentage of what I earned for my employer, and having to ask permission to take a bathroom break.
To me, the pain of earning a pittance in a job I didn’t like was worse than the pain of writing and mailing sales letters, calling prospects, and pitching editors. The idea of looking back on my life at age 90 and knowing I had never become a writer…that scary thought motivated me to market like a madwoman.
So I called hundreds of businesses to ask for updated information for my mailing list, and often the receptionist would forward me directly to the prospect himself, who I would then pitch right over the phone. You’d also see me almost every day walking downtown to the post office, laden with a pile of 9×12″ envelopes addressed to business prospects and magazine editors.
My first year of freelancing, I beat out the income from my last office job by 50%. By my third year, my annual income was $80,000. It’s now two decades later, and I’ve never had to set foot in a cubicle adorned with wacky desk toys and photos of my cats.
Yeah, it was hard, Yeah, it was scary. But the idea of working for some pointy-haired boss until I keeled over from old age was harder and scarier.
They’re Old for a Reason
Okay, you’re saying, so you need to market hard to reach your freelance writing goals. Got it. But this is the Internet Age. Why should I do all this hard work when I could be using all these shiny new online tools to attract prospects right to my virtual door?
Phone calls, sales letters, networking, proactively reaching out to the people you want to write for…these techniques are old for a reason:
They’re old because they work.
Like you, since those early days I’ve often found myself distracted by the shiny object that is inbound marketing. If you’re clever enough, the theory goes, you can just go online, be you, and watch the dollars roll in. (And we’ll all pretty clever, right?) All you need is a 300-word list post, an email newsletter with an enticing giveaway, or a website with of-the-moment design, and writing clients will simply throw money at you.
Except they don’t. Believe me, I learned the hard way.
This is the “Build it and they will come” method of marketing, where you chuck stuff out there and hope someone with money will notice. However, hundreds of thousands of other writers are doing that exact same thing, creating a wall of noise that’s nigh on impossible to break through.
And the sad truth is, good clients are simply not sifting through this clamor looking for writers. They’re too busy to be passing your latest Facebook quote image around the office, or to be sorting through hundreds of writers’ profiles on a job board to find the perfect match. (Some clients do do these things. They are not the clients you want.)
Believe it or not, all this means that these old-school forms of marketing now work even better than they used to. Before, prospects were inundated with snail mail and phone calls. Now they think, How refreshing to get a nice sales letter/meet a writer IRL/hear a writer’s voice on the phone when everyone else is trying to shove me into a sales funnel or persuade me to visit their Facebook page
Let me rephrase that so it really sinks in: Directly approaching the clients you want to write for is even more effective now than it used to be, because your competition is wasting their time and energy trying to market the easy way.
It’s the Relationship, Stupid!
Marketing gurus are always waving their arms and shouting about the importance of building relationships with clients. Get to know their needs! Interact with them! Love them!
I’m down with that. So which of these is the best way to kick off and build a relationship with a client?
- “Boosting engagement” by posting helpful information for your prospects on social media. Hey, your posts show you care about their needs!
- Creating a profile on 20 different freelance job boards…with your photo and some clever wording so prospects can get to know your face and writing style.
- Writing an amazing blog post on a topic they’d run in their magazine and massage your keywords so that if by some chance the editor happens to be looking for a writer and happens to be searching on those phrases, they’ll find you.
- Speaking with prospects on the phone so they hear your voice/meet them in person so they know your face/reach out to them directly with a personalized sales message that shows you care about their needs.
Correct answer = 4.
Stop waffling with wimpy, roundabout ways of getting your prospects’ attention! If you want to build relationships, you have to get up close and personal with the people you want to write for.
Take Control of Your Writing Career
Another reason to opt for the “hard” marketing methods: They put you in control. You decide who you want to work for, and then you go after them.
Let’s say you post 50 bon mots on Twitter, tweak your website keywords, or write a compelling guest post for a blog in your target industry. Your next “action step” is to wait. You’re basically giving up your control, and waiting (and hoping, and praying) for clients to stumble across what you have to offer and get in touch.
Now let’s say that instead, you send out 100 sales letters. That means one hundred prospects of your choosing, more or less, will be seeing what you have to offer. And if you follow up, you’re even more in control!
Another downside to wishy-washy, indirect forms of marketing is that it’s difficult to know what works, and thus how you can replicate any success you do have. On the other hand, direct methods like phone calls, meetings, letters, emails, and direct messages? These methods are quantifiable and easy to track, so you know exactly what works and how much of it you need to do.
For example, say you make 50 calls and get five prospects asking for more information, and from those you get two writing assignments. Now you know it takes 100 calls to land four writing gigs. Not only that, but your numbers will improve with practice, too, so eventually you’ll get more writing jobs with fewer calls.
Wait, why are we calling these marketing methods “hard” again?
They’re Not That Bad Once You Get to Know Them
Okay, they’re not hard to implement, and they’re not hard to get results from. So what’s the problem?
The hard part is getting past our own preconceptions that these forms of marketing are somehow scary.
But here’s the truth: They’re only scary because you haven’t done enough of them yet.
The first email, meeting, phone call, or social media reach-out is scary. The fifth one is a little less scary. The twentieth is barely scary at all. And by number fifty, you’re an old pro.
The reason we’re blindsided by fear is that we writers tend to feel like supplicants, bowing and scraping and hoping to attract the attention of powers-that-be who hire writers—and if we dare to disturb them with our tiny pleas, they’ll curse us and hang up the phone/delete our emails/throw scalding coffee in our face.
Erase that image from your mind right now. You are a professional offering a service that provides immense value to businesses and publications. Without writers like you, a lot of these businesses wouldn’t even exist!
However, I could follow you around 24 hours a day telling you how valuable you are to your prospects…and you wouldn’t believe me. That’s because only through personal experience will you learn that 99.99% of the prospects you approach—whether by phone, by mail or email, on social media, or in person—are perfectly lovely people. Even if they don’t hire you, they’ll be nice about it.
I can’t even count the number of coaching clients I’ve had who commit to calling prospects and then tell me, “I was shocked at how nice people were!”
That’s why the more you do, the less scary it gets.
Are you ready to do real work and get real results?
The writers who succeed are the ones who go out and get what they want, instead of waiting for it to magically appear. Rather than praying clients will find their website/social media posts/blog/newsletter/profile—and then complaining that the people who do contact them are cheapskate tire-kickers—they reach out directly to the businesses and publications they want to write for.
How badly do you want to succeed as a freelance writer?
Badly enough to start kicking marketing ass and taking client names?
Badly enough to work for it?
Then join us for the Volume Marketing Challenge for Freelance Writers now. The 33% discount will be going away soon.
Here’s your link:
See you there!