Tuesday Muse: Things to Do Now for 2017

What I’m reading: The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
What I’m listening to: Leading Me Now by The Tallest Man on Earth

audio-2-1243417-1280x960What a nice time away! Did you enjoy your holiday? Ours was spent driving — first, he was off to Boston for a relative’s funeral, then we drove west to visit my family. Thanks to my mother’s prohibition of political talk during the holiday, it was a great time.

I came back to some work, but it’s obvious that December will be slower. I’ve seen client projects dwindle, and clients have backed off getting in touch until after the new year. Not surprising, very few seem to be working right now. Plus, I had two large projects end (expected), and I’m handling a small project for a long-time client this week or next. The bank account is robust, so I can relax and enjoy a bit of breathing room.

Yet what if your light schedule doesn’t come with the same healthy bank statement? You market. While it’s tempting to just squeak by until 2017, there’s no reason to. People are still hiring freelance writers.

Here are a few places you can look:

Magazines. It’s a great time to get some short, front-of-the-book pieces out the door. If you have favorite editors who pay quickly, tap them now. Or propose those few ideas you have so those checks will arrive just after the holidays.

Current clients. There are plenty of projects you can propose — holiday letters, year-end newsletters, marketing pieces that give discounts until December 31st… you know your clients. Think a little outside the box at what would appeal to you if you were reaching out to your customers. Then propose it.

LinkedIn ProFinder: I get a healthy number of leads per day from LI’s ProFinder service. Not all fit, but there are enough good leads to warrant the extra email. I scored one gig, which will start in January. It’s one of the few passive marketing tools I’ll recommend.

Twitter mentions. Yes, you should be doing some “Hey, hire me” messaging on social media, though as always, remember to keep it to a minimum (I try to stay to two promotional tweets for every twenty I send). Mention project types you’re working on. Engage a contact with a question about a trending topic. Send out one tweet saying you have time and are willing to offer a discount to the next person who hires you….in other words, use your imagination and creativity to score new clients.

Sales. Yep, freelance writers can have sales, too. What’s your holiday offer? Ten percent off any project that is completed by December 23rd? Fifteen percent discount on all work booked before the end of the year? Twenty percent off for loyal clients? Create an offer that would appeal to you (if it doesn’t, why think anyone else would want it?).

Holiday cards. Yes, you can send holiday cards to those whom you’ve been marketing to. Keep them non-denominational (I stick with “Happy holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” messages) and make sure to put in a message that says how you look forward to working with them in the future, hopefully in the new year.

Tchotchkes. If you have a nice idea for a small gift, do send it. I send my regular clients something every year. One year, it was tea baskets. The next year was cookie boxes. If your funds are limited, stick with something useful — tape measures with your name on them, calendar cards that they may actually keep (I keep the ones one contact sends), pens, coasters, keychains, tablets, anything that can be purchased in bulk and yet still feel thoughtful.

Writers, how do you market during the slow months?

What’s your favorite way to secure work when the schedule is light?


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  • Paula Hendrickson November 29, 2016 at 10:37 am

    One of the magazines I write for regularly assigns a LOT of stuff this time of year because they’re trying to get a jump start on next year’s issues. I just got a new assignment yesterday that probably won’t run until May or June—but it will be paid within 2 weeks of completion.

    I typically send wintry looking cards (like you, I stick with Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays) to clients who reside in warmer climates, sometimes with a note, “Looks just like my back yard right now!” Last year I sent homemade chocolate almond toffee to the editors who keep my busy this time of year and they loved it. I’ll need to do that again this year.

    I love the holidays, but my one complaint is they speed by so fast I don’t always finish everything I’d planned to do.

    • lwidmer November 29, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      That’s my complaint too, Paula. I just picked up yet more work. Not a ton, but enough. I’m hoping the slower pace will allow me to get my fun stuff done. 🙂

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