What’s on the iPod: Glory Bound by Martin Sexton
Wow, that was a long break. From December 6th until today, I was somewhere else. I stopped in here occasionally and I worked a little, but from the road. December is notoriously slow, so I was free to take off. It seems like forever since we arrived back from our drive south, but it was only two weeks ago.
Today, back to work.
I was noticing a few conversations on social media about finding work. I love when people share advice and links, but I wonder about how those are translating to clients. Private notes are better, and I did get one or two over the last month from helpful, nice freelancers. But there are so many more freelance writers putting links up on social media sites — in full view of potential clients — pointing their fellow freelancers to lower-paying work opportunities.
What’s that doing to one’s reputation?
Yes, we all take work that pays a little less than our ideal rate (and sometimes a lot less if the other terms are right). Advertising that, I believe, makes a dent in our professional appearance. Let’s look at it from the prospective client’s perspective. If you’re looking to hire a writer for specialized work and you see them on Twitter sharing links to bidding sites, does that make you think this is someone who’s in demand for his/her skills?
There are some pretty simple things we can do that help boost our professional writer persona and give clients the impression that yes, we are worth what we charge. Here are some things to try:
Filter your social media conversations. Not just posting links, but posting what you charge can give you a bad reputation. I’ve seen a few writers — ones I thought were at the top of their game — revealing they charge 50 cents a word or rant on about how freelancing is dead (which it isn’t — their approach may be dead). Pretend every post or comment you leave is going in front of that client who would pay you top dollar — in essence, it is.
Don’t argue with difficult clients. It’s so tempting to tell off someone who’s calling you names or who is being a total jerk. Don’t. They know people. Even if they’d never give you a reference, they’d sure bad-mouth you if you give them reason. Don’t give them ammunition to help bring down your career. When they act like jerks, don’t defend and don’t argue back. Silence is often the best solution.
Be seen in the industry. Go to conferences if you can. If you can’t, share links to industry news and trends. Share them one-on-one with clients or in groups where potential clients hang out. Make good use of hash tags to show them you’re watching the industry and know what’s important.
Announce your successes. The ones that matter, at least. If you just wrote 20 articles for a content mill and earned pennies for it, that’s not going to impress anyone (and it might give you the reputation of being cheap or out-of-tune with your own career). If you just finished a website project or you’re currently working on a case study, mention it. “Finishing an industry case study this morning. What’s on your desk?” is a good one because it draws people into conversation if you use the right hash tags.
Offer something of value for free. Newsletters, tip sheets, or even discounts for your services are good things to send to clients either by email or snail mail. Give them news they want to read — not a laundry list of how fabulous you are (unless you’re showing how that fabulousness helped your customer increase revenue).
Writers, how do you build and maintain your professional writing persona?