It’s All in the Perspective

What’s on the iPod: Ten Thousand Things by The Avett Brothers

Yesterday was one of those productive days that makes me glad to be a freelancer. I managed a crazy schedule without interruption because A) I work from home, B) I don’t have to attend meetings, and C) the commute time is better spent writing. But look who I’m telling, huh?

I managed an interview, one of two projects, another new client (actually, an ongoing client with a new business she needs help with), a ton of LOIs for the conference (around 25), scheduling of a few of those LOI responses, and a bunch of blog posts for the upcoming Writers Worth Week. And I wrote this post (if I didn’t write them the day before, you wouldn’t hear from me until noon). All before 5. Yes, I’ll be burned out by Friday, but I’ll have a lot accomplished and I can take the day off. I won’t have a fresh word left in me, but the drive back home will allow me to find a few new words, probably all relating to traffic.

As I went through the motions of sending out 25 or so LOIs, I realized that it was due to a change in perspective on my part. I started thinking differently about some aspect of my target industry, and it may turn out to be quite a good change.

I’ve gone to this risk management conference for years. I’ve missed a few years in between, but in total, I’ve had my toe in the industry for 11 years now. Back in late February the notice came for conference registration. I decided then it was time to show up for the conference instead of just, well, appear at the conference. That’s when I started contacting exhibitors and asking to meet with them.

The response rate has been amazing. Those of you who know marketing percentages know that a seven-percent response rate is pretty darned good. Of that, I’m already working with one of those contacts. It’s a start.

So beyond attending conferences, how can you create your own perspective shift?

Look somewhere else. You’ve written for clients in the financial industry forever. But have you tried writing for technology clients? They’re worried about money, too. The same issues that affect CFOs affect the CIOs, just from a different perspective.

Suggest new services. There are a few of these LOI recipients who are in serious need of more active blog time, better Web copy, and a little more promotion. I’d bet your clients and prospects are also lacking in a few areas. Just don’t approach new clients saying, “You know, your site really sucks.” Find a diplomatic way to bring up how you can help them.

Identify your strengths. This goes back to my first point. The skills you have that make your clients come back for more could translate into new areas. But you have to know what those strengths are, don’t you? If you can’t figure it out, ask writer friends or family. Then decide what clients need those skills.

Expect more. Yes, you earn fifty bucks a blog post. Why not expect more and ask for it? There’s no reason why that blog you’ve been writing for for three years shouldn’t entertain the notion of paying you more now that you’ve helped them increase their audience.

Turn your current assignments sideways. You write resumes. Why not add career coaching to that? Or how about suggesting a column to that online publication you write for? Try turning what you’re doing now into more opportunity. Lift things up and look underneath – what potential is lying there untapped?

Writers, when was the last time you shifted your perspective? What did that look like? How has that helped your career?

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Comments

  • Devon Ellington April 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    You have to shift all the time, or you get stale.

    Regarding the blog posts, yes, you should get AT LEAST $50 a blog post at the start, and that should increase if you're building an audience.

    When someone says "$10/blog post" laugh in their face as you walk away.

    Reply
  • Cathy April 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Aaargghh, Blogger ate my comment again. Every time I get too wordy-did you program that, Lori? 🙂

    I started out with the $50/blog post for an industry blog, but I thought, this is nuts for the time I put in. So I stopped doing posts. It wasn't worth my time. I think it's part of me evolving in freelancing. I have picked up industry blogging again, but at a much better rate.

    The possibilities are endless and you gave a great list of ideas here, Lori.

    As you know, I'm also in the insurance field, although mine tends to be more on the health side. My clients? Brokers, wellness vendors, authors of healthy living books, dental and medical vendors, specialty health care consulting firms, HR professionals, companies with healthcare clients.

    I have done very techie from writing continuing education courses for insurance to writing content for an HR web portal for a brokerage firm.

    I've written content for white papers (lots), case studies, press releases, blog posts, executive bios, training courses, sales letters for newsletter subscriptions, PowerPoint presentations and lots and lots of articles (mostly ghostwritten).

    What I love now is that I am well-compensated and I can be more selective about the work I do. Like I wrote on a recent post, That’s the great thing about writing – there are so many forms. There’s no reason you shouldn’t love it.

    Reply
  • Lori April 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Devon, exactly that. Ten bucks a post isn't worth rolling out of bed for.

    Cathy, I swear I had nothing to do with it! LOL I've taken to copying my posts before I hit Publish Your Comment. It's done it to me enough times….

    I swear we have parallel lives. I wrote insurance courses, too! We'll have to compare notes on that. For me, those were some of the worst experiences thanks to the clients (the work was decent enough, but tedious and involved). I came away feeling grossly underpaid for it. Never went back.

    Reply
  • Cathy April 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Lori, I was also grossly underpaid (it was in the beginning of my freelancing career), but it opened other doors for insurance technical writing. It was also where I found I REALLY do not like copyediting as I had that gig for some of the P&C courses. Blech.

    And I loved the client, still stay in touch. They just can't affor me-LOL!
    🙂

    Reply
  • Cathy April 20, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    LOL-see why I hate copyediting! Make that afforD!

    Reply
  • Joseph Hayes April 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Note to self: "Your website sucks" not good.

    Other note to self: Stop saying "Il vostro Web site gorgoglio" to Italian clients [headsmack]

    Reply
  • Paula April 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I took some resources and ideas I wasn't able to use in article assignments and started a column for a local weekly newspaper. The idea was to self-syndicate, but that was also when newspapers began folding left and right, so even a bargain syndie rate wasn't in the cards at the time.

    The scary thing I've noticed is that aside from breaking news stories, the "major" daily in town is now composed largely of their staffers' regurgitated blog posts and reprints from other newspapers owned by the same company…. basically anything they can churn out for free.)

    Reply
  • Lori April 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    One of those days, eh Cathy? 🙂

    Joseph, try "Il vostro Web site è una cosa di bellezza!" And kiss your fingertips as you say it. 🙂

    Free stuff is killing journalism, Paula. Hmm…. that's an article….

    Reply
  • Anne Wayman April 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Good stuff as always kiddo… and switching, reaching out beyond the comfort zone is always a good idea.

    It's not free stuff that's killing journalism, although it's not helping. It's consolidation of news and the corporate view that news has to make money therefore is entertainment. Sigh… okay, off my soapbox.

    Reply
  • Lori April 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Anne, I think so, too. The minute you monetize the news, you lose objectivity. And by monetize, I mean insist that your news programs or copy strives to meet not the objectivity, but to draw in advertising dollars and readers by any sensational means possible.

    Reply