Entries Tagged 'Freelance advice' ↓
September 2nd, 2015 — Freelance advice, marketing
A time for holidays and relaxing.
It’s also the time when a lot of businesses experience a slow down.
Leads drop off, the phone stops ringing and no matter how may times you refresh your email client, no enquiries are coming through.
You have 2 options:
- Put your feet up and mope
- Put in some groundwork for future leads
Every business has a pile of leads that didn’t go anywhere.
Despite sending out competitive quotes, for one reason or another they didn’t get taken up. You were going to give them a call, but you were so busy you forgot.
So how about doing that now?
Give them a call for a chat, you never know their position may have changed and could now be in the market for your product or service.
What have you got to lose?
Review your sales process
Are you really being effective?
You probably think you are, but if that were the case you wouldn’t have that pile of warm leads to work through, would you?
Now’s a great time to review your marketing strategy from top to bottom.
Set yourself some targets to focus your efforts to make sure you minimise your ‘slow’ periods.
That doesn’t mean start phoning clients and asking them out right to refer you to someone – you don’t want to look desperate.
Offer them an incentive in the way of a generous referral scheme – you know the sort of thing “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
It’s a great way of extending your sales team without taking on new staff – and a whole lot cheaper.
Every business has slow periods, but how you deal with them when they come is what makes the difference.
Use them to your advantage and start planning for a stronger future.
August 26th, 2015 — Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Running a freelance business is great…most of the time.
The pluses include:
- No more 9 to 5
- No boss breathing down your neck
- You get to choose your working hours
- You can run your business in a way that suits you
Of course, any freelancer also knows that what that really means is:
- You can end up working a lot more than just 9 to 5
- You have no boss so the buck stops with you
- You have to work the hours your workload dictates
- You’re the only one in your business so you have to be Jack of all trades
From an employees perspective freelancers have an easy life, but we know that’s not always true – especially in the early days.
One of the toughest bits of freelancing is finding a constant stream of clients.
The freelancer’s workload is notorious: one minute you’re up to your eye balls the next tumble weed is rolling through your office because work as dried up.
What can be done?
Can anything be done, or is that just part of being a freelancer?
Client churn is a natural part business. When you’re busy everything’s rosy, but you tend to be so busy you let your marketing slide. As a consequence, once your project is complete there’s nothing to follow it up with.
Where do clients come from?
Everyone has a favourite way of attracting clients:
- Website traffic
- Through blogging and article marketing
- Social media
A lot of freelancers tend to put all their eggs in one basket, either relying on Google, or relying on local networking events.
The problem is when Google changes its algorithms your rankings are likely to take a hit, causing a reduction in traffic and therefore enquiries. With local networking, you’re limiting your audience and may find it tough to find a fresh pool of clients.
What’s the most effective way to find clients?
Using a mixture of methods.
Ahem – existing clients?
True – your existing and past clients are also a rich source of work. Plus, because they’ve already worked with you, they’re warm leads.
Staying in touch with your past clients is a great way to generate new work. You never know when they’re going to need you again, so drop them a line every month and keep them in the loop about new projects you’re involved with or new services you’re offering.
Notice I said stay in touch? That doesn’t mean emailing them every month asking for work. Send them useful information and tips to keep your relationship with them alive – don’t beg.
Maintaining a constant workflow in the world of the freelancer is essential, but difficult to achieve. Even with the best systems in place you’re likely to see peaks and troughs, but by getting organised and maintaining contact with past clients you’ll have the best possible chance of a constant income.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
June 17th, 2015 — Copywriting careers, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Oh, for the life of a freelancer.
No more 9 to 5, no demanding boss, no more commuting, no more pointless meetings…
But hang on, freelancing means no more regular pay cheques, no paid holiday or sick leave… what about my pension? Where’s my security gone?
On the face of it being a freelancer appears to be the first step to the utopian lifestyle you’ve always dreamt of. But once the rose tint has worn off your glasses, you’ll begin to see that it’s not as cushy as you first thought.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t dive in and give it a go (it’s worked very well for me for the past 7 years), but if you do, make sure you have realistic expectations.
The life of a freelancer
Starting out on your own can be a scary business. There are lots of things to consider and if I covered them all this would turn into a novel rather than a blog post. So for now I’m just going to look at two aspects – finding clients and growing a thick skin.
Hello? Clients? Where Are You?
To be a freelancer you need clients, so where are you going to look for them?
In your previous life it was never an issue. The marketing department took care of the ‘finding customers’ malarkey leaving you to get on with your work. But now the responsibility is all yours – you lucky thing.
A website, Facebook page, Twitter account and blog are not going to bring the constant stream of clients you need, at least not without your input. Marketing yourself online is only one piece of the puzzle; the other is getting out there and meeting people.
If that fills you with dread, don’t worry you’re not alone. Networking isn’t for everyone, I should know. It has to be one of the worst aspects of the job for me. Walking into a room full of strangers makes my blood run cold. But it is a necessary evil if you are to get your name known.
Another way of finding new clients is to actively build relationships with local design agencies – web designers are always on the look out for good copywriters to work with.
To widen your net further and target your dream clients, why not try a mail shot?
Create a list of companies you would like to work with. Then find the name of the person you need to contact (usually the Marketing Manager/Director depending on the size of the company) and create the best sales letter you’ve ever written. Send them a little freebie to make your letter stand out and follow up with a phone call – you never know what doors that might open.
Once you have your clients and work starts to trickle in, another challenge arises.
On the whole there are 3 types of client:
- Those who hire you because they need your expertise and trust your judgement
- Those who hire you, tell you what they want and then change their minds after you’ve written it
- Those who brief you and then re-write everything because they believe they are far superior writers
The first type is a gift and usually a joy to work with.
The second can be annoying, but a well-written proposal stipulating exactly what your fee covers and the hourly rate that will be charged for any extra work not originally briefed, usually solves any issues.
But the third will make your life hell.
Despite the fact your client has actively sought your professional writing services, they will believe they know better than you.
So what do you do when your first draft comes back with a scathing email?
- Take a deep breath
- Go outside and scream at a tree
- Return to your desk and think about your response rationally
Sitting down with them is the best way to sort this out. You can then calmly discuss the original brief and show how you fulfilled it and ask them what it is they don’t like and work with them to resolve it.
This ‘working together’ approach is usually best as it makes them feel more involved in the process and makes them feel valued.
Should you give it a go?
What have you got to lose?
Despite the ups and downs (let’s face it, every type of work as plenty of those), freelancing is a rewarding and enjoyable way to earn a living.
The freedom and potential financial rewards it offers far outweigh any of the downsides. If you’re prepared to work at it and never give up you will succeed.
What are you waiting for?
Sally Ormond is copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Quite possibly the country’s only cycling copywriter, she’s currently training for an epic bike ride from Newcastle to London – that’s 300 miles in 24 hours! – raising funds for the Make A Wish Foundation.
October 8th, 2014 — Building a business, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, Running a freelance business
If I’m honest with you, starting my own business was never my intention.
Seven years ago, after completing my English degree with the Open University, I was on the hunt for a job. Although my boys were still at school, I knew I needed to get back to work, but I still had to be around for them.
Finding something that gave me that flexibility was tough – after a lot of searching it basically came down to finance or admin in a school (there was no way I was cut out to be a teacher). The problem was, deep down, I knew that wasn’t right for me.
So, what to do?
It was my husband who first suggested I start something on my own. My reaction was to laugh.
Me, running my own business? Yeah, right, like that’s ever going to happen.
My girl friends were great and suggested all sorts of bizarre and wonderful job ideas, but then something weird happened.
The final year of my degree was in creative writing. A local friend of mine had been kind enough to proofread my work and, one day, her husband had read it too. He ran several companies and asked if I would help him out with some content he needed for a website he was developing.
Now, I’d always wanted to be a writer (fiction), but commercial writing was something I’d never considered. I gave it a go. It was a great success and the copywriting bug bit me.
One thing led to another and within a month I’d created my first website and set about getting clients. They came, they liked what they saw and they stayed. Then more came along and, 7 years later, I’m still here loving every minute of it.
I am not an authority on running a business because I’m constantly learning. There are people out there who have been doing this a lot longer than me, which is why a few years ago I signed up for a course about running a freelance business.
It was great.
I learnt a lot…perhaps a bit too much.
It was the best course I’d ever been on, but it was also responsible for some of my darkest business days.
A hugely successful guy ran it. He made it sound so easy – how to get clients, price your work etc. I came home buzzing ready to try out my new found confidence.
The problem was, once back in my own office I became Sally again. My usual insecurities came flooding back…I knew I was a great writer, that wasn’t a problem, but I knew I wasn’t a great businesswoman.
I desperately wanted to become the person I thought I should be. I came back believing that if I was to be a success I had to be working with huge clients, earning mega bucks and to be constantly working. If I didn’t I was letting myself down, the course leader down and my family down.
But the problem was I was (and am) a very different person to the guy who ran the course and everyone else who attended it with me. I was trying to force myself into a business model that didn’t fit my lifestyle or personality. As a result I went from loving my work to feeling miserable and, for want of a better word, a failure.
Keeping it real
With my confidence at an all time low, I began to question what I was doing.
Did I really want to be in business?
Wouldn’t it be easier to work for someone else?
On the face of it the answer was ‘yes’; I would no longer feel the pressure of finding clients or marketing myself. But if I worked for someone else I would lose the flexibility I loved and the sense of achievement I’d felt.
I had to stick with it – especially considering, even in a slow year, I was earning more by myself that I ever would working for someone else.
Then something happened. A medical scare at the start of this year made me stop and think. I reassessed my life and what was important to me.
My family would always come first. I was a wife and mother and then a businesswoman.
I loved my work and running my business, but it wasn’t the be all and end all.
Now, I work the hours I want to work. I take on the projects I want to work on and work with the people I want to work with.
No, I don’t have a 6 figure salary, but you know what? I don’t care. I earn more than enough to allow us to do what we want to do as a family and that’ll do for me.
What’s stopping me from becoming one of the UK’s largest copywriting agencies? Me, because I’m doing what I want to do and not what others think I should be doing.
What’s the single most important business lesson I’ve learnt?
The answer to that is to be true to myself and to run my business my way and to make no apologies for that. Today, I have a great work/life balance and that’s the way it’s going to remain.
My message to you is to remember there’s more to life than work. Next time you’re still working away at midnight, stop and think about what you’re doing. Is that really where you want to be?
It takes a lot to create a successful business, but it takes even more to sustain that success and create the lifestyle you want to live.
Do you have a similar story? Have you had doubts whilst running your business? Are you thinking about going it alone, but feel too scared to take the plunge? Whatever your story, leave a comment below and share it with me.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
September 10th, 2014 — Freelance advice, freelance copywriter
I’ve been in the freelance copywriting business for 7 years.
I could tell you that after launching Briar Copywriting back in 2007 I have gone from strength to strength, never put a foot wrong and generally been totes-amaze-balls.
I could, but I won’t.
Anyone who tries to convince you they’ve built a business from local to global proportions without any hiccups is lying.
Business is ruthless and, when you’re not looking, will kick you in the balls every now and then just to make sure you remain grounded.
In the grand scheme of things I have been lucky; only suffered a handful of bad debts (very small fry), been lucky enough to have wonderful clients (in the main, with the odd exception) and seen my business grow into an internationally renowned copywriting company. But that’s not to say things have always gone my way.
I’ve made mistakes because I’m human. I’ve done stupid things. But I have learned from them and grown as a person.
The title of this blog says I’ve learned 3 things from my time as a freelance copywriter. In reality, it’s way more than that, but these 3 stick out because they affect everyone in business.
You can’t please everyone
Ain’t that the truth?
There are some people in the world who are just born miserable. It doesn’t matter how much you bend over backwards to help them, they’re never going to be happy.
Every time you ask them a question it’s like you’ve asked them to sever a limb.
You can take a detailed brief from them, especially in relation to the tone of voice they want, and it will be wrong every time.
Do you give up?
No. Not unless there is really no way of working with the client.
It doesn’t happen very often, but ‘sacking’ a client can often be the best solution to a bad situation – for both parties.
Most clients don’t know what they want
In a way, this one is related to the first one and comes in 2 varieties.
Variety 1: During your initial meeting with the client, they seem to know exactly what they want. They give you a detailed brief and even can show you examples of the tone and content they’re looking for. You leave the room smiling because finally, you have a client that knows exactly what they’re looking for. Full of confidence you present the first draft only to be shot down in flames because they’ve changed their minds and seen something else they really like.
Variety 2: During your initial meeting it comes abundantly clear your client has no idea whatsoever about what they want. Your heart sinks further when they utter those immortal worlds “I’ll know it when I see it”. You try your best to prise as much information from them as possible regarding tone, content etc. By the end of the very long meeting you have an idea of what they’re looking for. The initial draft is met with a lukewarm reception – it’s almost there, but not quite. It’s going to be a long night.
Clients that know exactly what they want
In light of the above, you would think these clients are just what you need. Up to a point I’d agree with you, but they do have the potential of turning into nightmare clients too.
These are the ones that give you all the information you need only to completely re-write your initial draft because they think they know best. They ignore all your carefully crafted messaging and turn the document into a ‘we are the best in the world’ ego-fest that won’t sell a bean.
When you try to explain why you wrote what you wrote, they toss your explanations aside because it’s their business and they know it better than you (even though you’re the professional writer and you know marketing better than them). In this situation you’re left with 3 choices:
- Walk away
- Do as they as to keep the peace knowing full well it won’t work
- Stick to your guns and risk being sacked
Trust your instincts
It took me a while, but now I listen very carefully to the little voice in my head when I get a new enquiry.
Over the years I have developed an internal dodgy client detector that’s rarely wrong.
When you speak to someone, if something doesn’t seem quite right, or you don’t gel with them, the chances are it will turn into the project from hell.
My advice is listen to your little voice and learn from past mistakes. Over time you’ll get to sift out the good clients, although that doesn’t necessarily mean business will be plain sailing – that would just be boring.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd