Doing it Better

What’s on the iPod: Rockstar by Nickelback

Good day yesterday. I managed a project, research on another project, a dental appointment, closure on yet another project, and tutoring my Vietnamese student last night. She had to take a test to measure her progress, so I had an hour of uninterrupted reading time in the library. I chose Steve Martin’s Shopgirl, and managed about six chapters. I’m captivated. His writing never fails to impress me. I can’t wait to go back and read more next week. Yes, I know I can check it out and take it home, but you should see the stack of books I’m neglecting. In my head, if it stays at the library, I’m not really reading it, therefore I can feel less guilty about not reading all these others.

This morning, the snow that was supposed to be rain is coming down, though we’re promised the heavy stuff is coming later – maybe an inch or two an hour. I love snow. The shoveling isn’t something I love, but being outdoors as I shovel makes it okay.

Good discussion yesterday about Google’s decision to target, somehow, the webspam that clogs their search results. It’s a good discussion because it now lets us focus on the more important part – helping writers who will soon be out in the cold find work.

If you’ve visited here before and haven’t found anything useful, you’ve not been paying attention. Here are a few posts to get you up and marketing:

Marketing 101: Finding Clients

Marketing 101: The Approach

Reinventing the Writing Career

Doing Nothing Wrong

So if you’re just off a content farm stint, if you’re new to freelancing, or if you’re having some issue that has your career stalled, ask. If you’re too shy to ask, click on any of those tags at the left to find the answer, or use the search bar at the top of this page. What lack of information is keeping you from progressing?

Writers, how do you kick-start your career when things slow down? What methods work best for you?

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  • Eileen January 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    The easy way to bring in business, which works surprisingly often: contact former clients or regular clients whom I haven't heard from in a while and let them know I'm booking my calendar for the coming weeks in case they have anything in the pipeline for me.

    There have been a few times in my career when I've made a big direction change in my business and need to capture business from a different market segment. When you need to rebuild business from scratch, I don't think you can beat direct mail. I create a custom contact list, and send lumpy mail with a soft offer for a special report. I haven't had to do that in about 3 years, because it works so well.

  • Devon Ellington January 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Direct mail and then follow up. The follow up usually yields more than the initial direct mail.

  • Jake P January 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    ^^What Eileen and Devon said. Ditto.

    I'll add this: Sometimes it requires a shift in your internal monologue. Our family jokes about how our dog always gets excited about everything, because she assumes that it's going to involve her (until reality dictates otherwise). Same thing when I contact someone I've done work for in the past — I assume they're at least going to be happy to hear from me, and so much the better if there's work. And even if you're cold calling or direct mailing to strangers, you have to do it with the mindset that you can understand and help them, not that you're selling your services. May sound Pollyanna-ish, but it's what works for me. YMMV.

  • Lori January 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Great advice, Eileen. And if you're looking for some reasonably priced brochures or mailers, any number of companies – from PrintRunner to VistaPrint – can handle the job. I have a decent inkjet, but it's nowhere near the quality I'd want in a mailer. I did okay with it for years, but I'm trying to get more serious about my business approach. That includes paying for quality printing.

    Devon, there's the key – follow up. Without it, your mailer is tossed without a second thought.

    Jake, I like learning lessons from your dog. 🙂 Good advice. Approach the contact as a friendly conversation.

  • becky January 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Funny enough, I got a contract job which keeps me busy and NOW I'm getting more responses from my web site. And referrals from a former colleague.

    This nice thing is, I'm busy. So if they don't like my rates, I don't have to worry about it. They'll find someone else. Now if I could have that attitude all the time, it would save me a lot of anxiety.

  • Wendy January 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." -Zig Ziglar

    You can find tons of ideas to get more work going, but sometimes, you need to kick-start your confidence to get some of them done.

  • Paula January 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Like Eileen, I contact existing editors or past editors. But I also visit this blog for some extra motivation.

    Today it's not my career that needs kickstarting, it's my editor. (Not the Favorite Editor, but not the least favorite, either.) It took three e-mails and nearly five days to get her to provide some contact info needed to work on an article due Friday. Her excuse was she's trying to get their February issue finished. Fair enough. Then why did another writer working with her say they had several e-mail exchanges over the past few days….while I was spinning my wheels waiting for key information?

    Sorry, but that did it. This may be my only project this week, but if it's not my editor's priority, it's not mine, either. If I finish on time, great, but I'm not working late or breaking my neck if she can't take two minutes to reply to an urgent request. If I don't make the deadline and she dares to complain about it I won't hesitate to (rightfully) place the blame on her.

  • Anne Wayman January 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I look first at my own attitude… I can close up somehow and stop the flow. I need to consciously open to income and clients… works every time.