Freelance Marketing in 2016: Following Up

What I’m listening to: Space Oddity by David Bowie

Know what I love best about this freelance writing career? The ability to make any day the day to plan out the next twelve months. So if you’re a little late to the planning phase of your freelance writing business, today is your day. Well, every day is, but I digress.

Today in our Freelance Marketing in 2016 series, we’re talking about following up.

I know, you’re fully aware that you have to follow up on your marketing messages. But do you? If not, here’s a bit of info that might help change your approach: an Association of Sales Executives study shows that 81% of all sales occur on or after the fifth contact.

That one note you sent to your ideal client isn’t going to cut it.

Following up on your own marketing isn’t hard. It takes much less time than it takes to reach out in the first place. It’s no more complicated than this simple exercise:

  1. When you’re marketing, open Excel or Word.
  2. When you send out a note/make a call/send a brochure, write down to whom it went, what day you contacted them, and how you contacted them. Number your list or designate somehow the people you contacted on a particular day. For example, you contacted four people on 1/4/16, you could designate that in blue highlight.
  3. Open Outlook. Count out two weeks from that date. Open an appointment at any time that day. “Invite” yourself to follow up with the “blue” group on that day.
  4. When the day comes, do it. Between now and that day, make note on your spreadsheet or document any responses and what they were. 
  5. Open Outlook again. Count out four more weeks. Repeat step 4.
  6. Repeat entire process each day.
Not hard at all.
So what to say on your follow-up? Some version of this could work:
Hi Sandra,

I hope you’re well. Just following up on my note/call/email from a few weeks ago. Do you have any questions? Would you have time for a ten-minute call? I’d like to hear more about what you’re working on, what your company’s immediate needs are, and what I can do to bring the most value to you.

May I give you a call this week?

For the subsequent follow-up correspondence, try mixing it up. One time you can send an interesting article. The next time you might want to invite them to take a survey. Another time, ask them if they’re interested in getting your e-newsletter or report. Keep the communication brief, relevant, and useful.

Writers, how often do you remember to follow up?
What’s the biggest stumbling block for you? How have you worked around that?

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  • Joy Drohan January 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Wow, 5 times–ack!

    Wish I'd had your sample note when I followed up with 2 people last night. I like your wording for the last sentence.

    Great advice, as always.

  • Anne Wayman January 13, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    it's amazing, sometimes, how illusive proper followup can be… good suggestions here for tracking which helps.

  • Cathy Miller January 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    My boomer brain makes use of its electronic brain (they don't call it a smartphone for nothing). ☺

  • KeriLynn Engel January 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    I use YesWare (gmail extension) to track & remind me to follow up on LOIs. That way I don't have to have a separate spreadsheet, it just reminds me automatically.

    I usually follow up 2-3 times, if I see they've opened my first emails. If no one even opened the first one, I usually don't bother following up.

    And I second Joy – I like your sample note! I think I might steal that last line, too 🙂

  • Lori Widmer January 13, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Steal away, Joy and Keri! That's why I put it here. 🙂

    Joy, I'm sure your note was just as good. It was in your voice. That makes a difference. Anything that sounds pre-planned or stilted just isn't going to work.

    It is amazing, Anne. Just a quick, friendly note that doesn't push or scare anyone off.

    Cathy, mine isn't smart enough to do the work for me. 🙂

    Keri, I think I would love YesWare. Does it work for any other email program, or just Gmail?

  • Paula Hendrickson January 13, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I do something similar, using a good old paper weekly planner. Count out a couple weeks and scrawl a note to follow up.

    What my issue right now is trying to reach an editor I worked with well last fall who for whatever reason has not responded to any of my emails. Meanwhile, I know two writers who say she's responsive to their messages. I'm trying to find the line between being proactive and coming across as a stalker.

  • Lori Widmer January 13, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Paula, I've been thinking about converting to a paper system. Paper does what you ask! 🙂

    It's tough to know what makes an editor go "strange" on you. I have one editor I thought I'd worked quite well with — then suddenly four emails go completely unanswered, including the follow-ups. I gave up at the time, but I'm about to hit her up again as a great idea just landed in my lap.

    Maybe call your editor if you can? Sometimes it's more of the "I'll write to her when I have a little time" rather than "Oh gawd, not her again."

  • KeriLynn Engel January 15, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Yesware can also integrate with Outlook, looks like! And it looks like there's an iOS app, too.

    I have the free plan – it's free up to a certain number of "events" per month. Events include the number of times a tracked email is opened. You can choose whether or not to track each email, though (so you're not wasting events on emails to friends, for example).

    You can also set up templates – I use that feature a lot, too!

    Here's their site:

    (In can anyone's wondering, I'm not an affiliate of theirs or anything, though I probably should be since I love them so much :))

  • Lori Widmer January 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks, Keri! I'll check it out.