How to Be a More Appealing Freelancer

What I’m reading: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
What I’m listening to: One Time Thing by The Airborne Toxic Event

Did I say work was slow? Forget it. Work has started streaming in, and the next four weeks will be quite busy. I have two deadlines this week, one next week, and I had a conversation with a potential client, which could lead to a more detailed conversation and a contract.

The January/February doldrums are over.

The reason could be my recent marketing campaign on Twitter and LinkedIn. I launched three weeks ago, and I’ve already seen a lot more conversation than I expected, particularly on Twitter. But I’m doing what any one of you are quite capable of doing, too — I’m starting the conversation.

If you think back to the writer you were five years ago, or even two years ago, you’re probably going to see things you did then that you might not do today — sticking with a low-paying client because of the guaranteed checks, not negotiating better rates so as not to lose a paying client, or staying within that safe boundary of what you know and not expanding to new areas.

If you’re still in that same place and you want to grow beyond it, good for you. That’s the first step to becoming much more appealing to your potential clients. Now it’s time to grow beyond where you are and start building a business that appeals to top-shelf clients.

Here are four ways to make yourself a more appealing freelance writer:

Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. I remember those times when I thought the only jobs I could get would never pay $75 an hour let alone the $100 an hour I really needed to earn. But guess what you find on job boards? So I made the switch to actively reaching out to a defined audience. That first letter to a potential client was tough to send, but I did it. So can you. Push beyond the fear of rejection. Rejection is part of the learning process, and part of the job. Eventually, it stops hurting and you learn to hone your message and your search so that your success rate increases.

Educate yourself. When I was stuck in that same low-paying loop, I studied. Literally. I would pick up my college writing handbook and go over those sections where I knew I was weak. That made me a stronger writer, and it made my confidence shoot through the roof. I knew I could do this, and I no longer had the hurdle of fearing those basic mistakes. So instead of assuming there are no jobs paying more than what you’re currently earning, pick up a book. Take a free course. Hell, pay for a course (from a reputable source, please. Go here to see how to vet them.). Improve your grammar skills, learn a new area of writing or industry, improve from within in some way.

Reduce the buyer’s risk. With 14 years of risk management writing under my belt, I can tell you firsthand that every relationship you have is about reducing risk. That client wants to hire a writer, but how can you prove their money isn’t wasted? By showing them your skills, your background, your clients’ kudos, your ability to understand their needs and make it about them, not about you getting the gig….

Think like a partner. Another way to reduce the buyer’s perceived risks is to show them you’re ready to enter the partnership. Explain how you work, and ask a lot of questions — smart questions — about their immediate need, how that fits within their broad communication goals, specifics about the project, and what they expect out of a partnership with you. How different that is from the usual “What’s your deadline” and “What’s your budget” questions, and how much more appealing is the more prepared writer than the one who’s phoning it in? Plenty more appealing.

Writers, what changes have you made that have attracted better client prospects?
How have you personally reduced a client’s risk in hiring you?
What advice can you give writers wanting to take their businesses to the next level?

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