Writers Worth: Persistence

What’s on the iPod: Late in the Evening by Paul Simon

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As we wrap up this second full week of Writers Worth, let’s look at something that writers have that can be used to increase earnings.

I’m talking about persistence.

Persistence doesn’t come to mind first (or at all) when one mentions key factors to freelance writing success. But in every case where I felt like I’d been true to myself and my business, persistence was there.

Persistence is that trait that makes you keep going when otherwise you might stop, give up, or put off progress or motion forward. Persistence, I’ve found, is an excellent tool when you’re marketing, networking, pitching ideas, etc. Here are are a few ways to apply persistence so that you can increase both your value to clients and your confidence level (which we know improves your earnings potential):

Push your marketing forward. See, I know you. You reach out with those queries and letters of introduction just fine, but when it comes to follow-up, well, you don’t. I was like that once, too. Then I realized that people forget stuff. I forget to answer emails all the time, even important ones. So why wouldn’t potential clients forget? In a few cases, I’ve scored gigs years after the first contact because I kept at it. In one case, my persistence netted me a $23,500 increase in annual salary. Yes, it pays to be persistent!

Get the sale. Remember that query letter you sent to that new editor? Haven’t heard back in five weeks? Get in touch. Things get set aside, offices get busy, people mean to reach out but don’t. Last month, I had one editor respond a full month after my idea went out. The email started “Sorry, I meant to get to you sooner…” For every one person who starts an email that way, there are easily two dozen more who forget to write that email at all. Remind them of your query, included a short summary of your pitch, and ask if it’s something they’re still considering.

Successfully navigate negotiations. How many times have you been presented with an offer, but the price wasn’t exactly right? How many times did you push back with your counter-offer? If the offer is close, why not? Just by asking, you could increase your earnings. If you do that with even 20 percent of your clients, think of how great that bottom line is going to look.

Build relationships with contacts. Does thinking about building a relationship with contacts make you feel drowned in details before you start? You’re over-thinking it. reach out on social media — ask a question, comment on something the contact said, interact in fun, personal ways, such as favorite jokes or discovering an affinity for the same hobby. Be persistent in getting to know others. People want to do business with other people, not with their resumes. If you make a point to reach out to people and be friendly, they’ll remember you when they or someone they know needs a writer.

Protect your business interests. Know that guy who called you a hack? How about that woman who said your price was ridiculous? Did you cave? Don’t. Be persistent in chasing what you know is right for your business and your career. Don’t automatically cut your rate in half because that loud man said you needed to or because someone asked for a favor without building a relationship first.

Secure payment on those invoices. Don’t send two invoices and a weak threat or whine about how you could really use the money. Instead, stay on it. Pretend you’re a bull dog and that client invoice is a bone. Keep gnawing at it until it’s paid. As a small business, you are your own collection agency, too. Unless you want to hire a collections firm (you can), be prepared to chase every delinquent account.

Learn more every day. You don’t know it all. You can’t. However, you can improve your skills, your education, and your knowledge. Find one element in your current operations — be it within your skills or your business processes — and learn how to do it better. Weak in invoicing? Read a blog or a book. Learn a software app. Not strong in marketing? Find one way to reach out to clients and, well, be persistent with it.

Writers, where do you apply persistence? 
How has being persistent helped you?

About the author




  • Anne Wayman May 16, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Well said… persistence is key, from everything to finding ideas through the writing and rewriting and on marketing.

  • Paula May 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Just read my guest post from the other day for a glimpse at my persistence. Dog with a bone? Try Killer Attack Dog Taking Down Its Next Victim.

    I bought Jake's book – The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid – because I know I need to figure out how to negotiate. (Hey, I got a $2 item for $1.50 at a garage sale a couple weeks ago…my negotiation skills are already improving.)

  • Ashley May 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Building relationships has really helped my business. Just this week I reached out to a university editor and asked if she would e-introduce me to one of her colleagues, and she did. Nothing has come of it yet, but yesterday she passed on another project to me from outside the university because she knew I was looking for this type of work. It pays off to get to know people and tell them what you do!

  • Lori Widmer May 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Amen, Anne.

    Paula, I need you to help me negotiate my next car deal. LOL

    Ashley, good for you for asking! And for following up — that's key!

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