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social mediaSocial media is a powerful tool for freelance writers, and many don’t even know it. We most commonly associate websites like Twitter and Facebook with casual conversations and random status updates, but they are so much more powerful than that. Many types of businesses and companies are already using social media to market themselves and grow their audience.

You can do the same, and it’s really not difficult. All it takes is some know-how and a bit of time, and you’ll suddenly have a wide range of connections and opportunities. Today we’ll look at some top tips for the three of the biggest social media sites that you can use to turn yourself into a freelance writing superstar!

Tips for Blasting Off Your Freelance Career Using Social Media!

Every social media site is a different beast in terms of strategies and etiquette. Combine that with the challenges and opportunities when working from home, and you’ve got a lot to consider as a freelance writer.

It’s worth mentioning that you should also have a personal blog that you can use to direct prospects towards your portfolio. I know this sounds like a lot, but don’t sweat it though, because finding work is your number one priority, and using these tips on the three of the biggest social media sites will help you do just that.

1. LinkedIn

While most other social media platforms will scorn you for focusing on business, LinkedIn is entirely focused on it. This should be your top platform when you’re first starting out as it offers the most opportunities. [click to continue…]

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social mediaBy Matt Banner

Social media is a powerful tool for freelance writers, and many don’t even know it. We most commonly associate websites like Twitter and Facebook with casual conversations and random status updates, but they are so much more powerful than that. Many types of businesses and companies are already using social media to market themselves and grow their audience.

You can do the same, and it’s really not difficult. All it takes is some know-how and a bit of time, and you’ll suddenly have a wide range of connections and opportunities. Today we’ll look at some top tips for the three of the biggest social media sites that you can use to turn yourself into a freelance writing superstar!

Tips for Blasting Off Your Freelance Career Using Social Media!

Every social media site is a different beast in terms of strategies and etiquette. Combine that with the challenges and opportunities when working from home, and you’ve got a lot to consider as a freelance writer.

It’s worth mentioning that you should also have a personal blog that you can use to direct prospects towards your portfolio. I know this sounds like a lot, but don’t sweat it though, because finding work is your number one priority, and using these tips on the three of the biggest social media sites will help you do just that.

1. LinkedIn

While most other social media platforms will scorn you for focusing on business, LinkedIn is entirely focused on it. This should be your top platform when you’re first starting out as it offers the most opportunities.

Many companies will go to LinkedIn to search for freelancers. That means you need to set up your profile in such a way that it’s easy to find. The best way to start this is by using keywords. For example, your top bio line should say things like “freelance writer,” “copywriter,” “blogger,” and terms like that.

Status updates aren’t as frequent here, so you can stop in periodically to remind your followers that you’re looking for work, and maybe present a specific topic or group. You can also comment on other groups with the same message.

Lastly, LinkedIn offers a cool feature that allows you to see who’s viewed your profile. You won’t be able to see the full list with the free membership, but you can easily find prospects and reach out them using the InMail feature. Introduce yourself and provide a one-sentence description of your experience. Offer some samples if they’re interested and you’re good to go.

2. Twitter

As a writer, the concept of a 140 character limit probably scares the living daylights out of you, but it’s going to be okay. While Twitter does limit your length of posts, it also has a handy feature called hashtags that we as writers can use to our advantage.

Hashtags allows you to see all the tweets that have used that same term. This gives you the chance to hone in on your industry and see what people are saying. If you find a possible client, start by following them and retweeting anything you like that they post. Don’t go overboard here.

Once you’ve done this, reach out to them with a simple question via direct message. Ask if they are the right person to pitch a specific article or story to. You could also ask if they are the manager who hires freelancers for a specific company. Here on Twitter, you can be noticed faster and easier than if you applied with a cover letter.

3. Facebook

And now we come to the big one. When it comes to Facebook, there’s a lot of competition, but very few freelancers actually have their own business page. This is a great gap that you can fill by making your own and promoting yourself much like you would on LinkedIn.

Searching for company pages within your writing specialties can also connect you with business pages that give you new potential clients to pitch your services to. When you create a Facebook page for yourself as a business, consider giving away something free to people who “like” the page.

It could be a free writing guide, a download of an e-book, or anything else. This kind of incentive will go a long way towards bringing more and more people to your page.

Final Thoughts

When you’re working from home as a freelance writer, you can’t go out and meet prospects in person. Instead, you need to meet them online in the virtual space. Use the platform-specific advice above to optimize your presence in each of the big three social media sites.

Thanks reading and be sure to share your own thoughts and social media strategies in the comments below!

matt banner on social mediaMatt Banner is the creator of OnBlastBlog where “where we put proven strategies to the test to blast off your blog.” He’s been blogging for more than 10 years and his site is well worth exploring.

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Why Every Writing Contract Needs an Escape Clause

escape clauseYesterday I stated that every contract needs an escape clause.

It’s something I believe in because the wheels can fall off of a writing project in any number of ways and for all sorts of reasons.

Sometimes it simply becomes impossible to move the project forward.

I’d rather have a way to gracefully end the arrangement than try to force myself or someone else into performing when the truth is it’s not working and there is no way to force it to work.

Let me give you some examples.

  • A book ghostwriting client came to me and told me that even after working with his therapist for several weeks he found himself completely blocked about writing his story. He asked to be let out of his contract. I pointed out that there was already an escape clause for both of us and assured him I wouldn’t try to make him let me ghostwrite his book. He actually got tears in his eyes when I said that. He assured me i could keep the advance and that he would contact me if he ever felt he could proceed. We both moved on, gracefully.
  • I invoked my right to cancel when on another ghostwriting project the client simply didn’t read or make any corrections to the materials I had submitted. Our agreement clearly spelled out that she would have to provide feedback if the book were to sound like her at all. I got promise after promise that I’d receive the information I needed “shortly,” “within the week,” “by Monday at the latest.” When it became obvious to me that she not only wasn’t keeping to her end of the agreement, she apparently couldn’t I took us both off the hook and stopped the project before it really got started.

Ghostwriting books may be more prone to project failure than other kinds of writing, but it can happen anytime in any type of writing. Plans and budgets, and needs change, and sometimes that means a writing project is no longer wanted, needed, or even possible. Better to make it possible for either party to back out under certain conditions than to try to force a project like this to completion.

Writing the escape clause

I write letter’s of agreements rather than contracts. They represent my best understanding of what the client and I are trying to accomplish with the writing I’m doing. The client is welcome to make changes before we begin – and that may actually become part of the negotiation.

Regardless, each of my agreement contains an escape clause that recognizes the work I’m contracting to do is a personal service contract, and that problems may arise. It then spells out how either party can end the agreement before the project is completed. Here’s a sample:

It is recognized that this is a personal service contract and that although this represents our mutual intention on this date, things can change. Therefore, this agreement is alterable by mutual agreement of both parties in writing fourteen or more days in advance of the change. Should this end the contract, Anne will keep any money paid her at this point. (Client) retains all rights to the work and any derivatives.

Usually the ‘in writing’ is done by email in an informal manner. After all, it rarely happens that this comes as a surprise.

I did get bitten once by not including the 14 day warning period and a project was stopped in what seemed at the time like a heart beat. I don’t think the 14 days would have made any difference in terms of the ultimate result, but it would have been a gentler way to proceed, which really is why I include it now.

What provisions do you make for wheels coming off a writing project? 

purple asteriskYou can get my ebook, 3 Keys to Making Your Writing Pay when you subscribe to the newsletter – both at no cost to you.

Write well and often,

annesig.

 

 

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It’s Okay For Freelance Writers to Say No to a Client

say noIt’s sometimes hard for freelance writers to learn to say no to a client.

When I look back I remember how scared I was to offend a client or even a prospective client. My throat would tighten and I’d feel fear in my chest. No one ever said anything, but I suspect there was a quaver or two in my voice. I was so afraid I’d do or say something that would mean they didn’t hire me or they’d fire me.

Of course, this had a lot to do with my lack of self-confidence. Some of my lack of boldness also had to do with not understanding the unwritten rules of freelancing. I was under the impression that somehow I had to agree with most everything a client might want. I hadn’t yet come to understand that how much I’m paid, and how I’m treated, and what I actually do is pretty much up to me.

Setting boundaries

In self-help and self-care circles there’s a lot of talk about setting boundaries. The quick and pretty accurate definition of boundaries in this context is setting limits.

Let me give you an example:

Jane was a new freelance writer who had just landed her first gig. She was to generate a 10 page report based mostly on information the client would provide. She had two-weeks to get it done and had received a 25 percent advance to get started.

The first problem surfaced when her client called and berated her for not being available for a chat conference. Since this was the first Jane had heard of the client’s desire to be able to chat with her, she apologized and downloaded the chat application. The next thing she realized is the client wanted to chat multiple times a day. She came to the forum and asked what she should do.

Universally members suggested she set strict limits on such interruptions. Although Jane was reluctant at first, she finally told her client that she would only accept phone calls and chats by appointment.

That’s setting a boundary, provided you stick to it. Jane was saying firm no to her client’s desire to be able to intrude on her writing day at whim.

Times to say no to a gig

Here are some warning signs that you probably should refuse the job to start with:

An offer of low pay – your rate is pretty much your rate. Oh sure, you should be open to some negotiation and flexibility, but not too much.

Any statement about requiring frequent meetings – unless you’re paid for the meetings by the hour as well as for the writing, you probably should turn down or not even apply when it’s clear the client wants to control as much of your time as possible. In fact, when a client talks about repeated meetings, on the phone, on a chatline or in person, the quickest way to get them to change their tune is to say something like: “Sure. You do understand that I’ll bill you my regular hourly rate, don’t you?”

A gig that requires multiple people to approve – if the job is going to require more than one or two people to sign off before it’s complete and you’re to receive final payment, don’t go for it. You can ask that you deal with only one person, and spell out how many revisions you’ll do with out additional payment. Add to that a time limit for each revision – something like a week or two and you may have a workable contract. It will be up to you to spell out the conditions so they work for you, and to enforce them.

An offer to share the revenue instead of pay – while sharing revenue sounds great, if it’s the only way you’ll get paid, it’s probably time to say no. There’s no reason for you to gamble with your time that way. If it’s something you really want to do, suggest a lower percentage in exchange for an hourly or flat per piece fee. That way you’ll get paid, and who knows, maybe the company will drive a ton of page views so revenue share counts as a win for you. Just don’t hold your breath.

Times to say no once the gig is started

Sometimes the job will fall apart in the middle – the real reason every contract needs an escape clause. For example:

Failure to provide promised materials – if the client doesn’t provide what they promised to give you so you could do the work well, you’re stuck. Feel free to send them a notice that says something like: “If I don’t get the materials you promised by (date). the contract will be considered void and all deposit money will be forfeit.” Make it a reasonable warning time, but stick to your guns.

Any attempt to change the contract without notice or changing the payment terms – Sometimes clients have no idea what they’re asking when they change what they want. On the other hand, some are just trying to get more for their money. Say no to the extra work unless they are going to compensate you for it.

Babysitting – some clients need more hand holding than others. However, if you find yourself on the phone with them helping them solve their emotional problems, or reassuring them over and over again that you know how to write a press release, or any number of other time sinks, they need too much babysitting. You can try gently disengaging, but don’t be surprised if you have to be firm or even rude. Remember, you are in control of your own time and it’s really good business sense not to let someone use more of it than you’re willing to have them use.

Learning to say no to clients is a mark of a true professional. Go for it.

Write well and often,

annesig.

 

 

purple asteriskJust for signing up you can get my ebook, 3 Keys to Making Your Writing Pay when you subscribe to the newsletter – both at no cost to you.

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Decluttering for Freelance Writers

clutter declutterMaybe you’re one of those folks who keeps everything around you neat and tidy. More power to you. But, if you’re more like me, you tend to be, well, a bit messy.

Study after study tells us that it’s easier to work, play, and enjoy life without clutter. I’m still not convinced, but I do know clutter can get away from me.

I’ve discovered a few tricks to declutter – maybe not completely, but enough to make a real difference. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m of the ‘progress rather than perfection’ clan.

Besides I wouldn’t know perfection if it knocked on the door and introduced itself.

Recently I’ve begun three practices that are resulting in noticeably less clutter in my life.

Cluttered email in box

I’m a political junkie. I want political news. I also want to support a wide variety of environmental causes. Plus, I feel I ought to keep track of certain writing websites.

My inbox had gotten insane. Even worse, I was beginning to miss leads in my nascent real estate investment education business.

Oh, I know you can have email sorted automatically into folders, but that meant I never even saw the subject lines unless I looked. Although that could be a decent plan, it wasn’t working for me. Finally I began subscribing to the email newsletters I want to look at, but that are not related to my business, from my gmail account, and unsubscribing from my business account. That means I can look at them easily in the evening from my iPad. So far it’s working. My inbox is actually looking a little lonely and very tidy these days and I’m able to spend more time on my businesses. [click to continue…]

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is it kindRecently there’s been a lot of talk about triggers, political correctness and personal responsibility. I’m going to start with some definitions:

Triggers – sometimes also called “microagression,” the idea is someone can be harmed emotionally if they hear or read something that causes them to remember, perhaps quite vividly and even to the point of re-experiencing, a traumatic event. (Note: if you look up ‘trigger,’ as I did you’ll find most of the definitions are coupled with guns, and bombs – which may be appropriate. I made up the definition here.)

Political correctness – the first definition that shows up on Google at the moment is: “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” They also add the noun, “political correctitude,” which I wish I had made up. [click to continue…]

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guest postsOver in the forum several of us were talking about the recent barrage of offers of guest posts and advertising. The main complaints were these:

The email writer claims to love the blog or website, which becomes obviously untrue as they reveal their offer – a guest post or article they are sure will delight us. Some of the more clever ones will actually list two or three suggested titles.

The problem is the titles are so generic they could apply to almost any blog in the world. A newer version of this same pitch is the offer is to pay the site owner to put up a post. They don’t want to buy advertising because the post is an attempt to look like the links are organic rather than paid for.

In no case to they tell you who they want to link to, nor does the putative author offer a link to their own professional site.

I’m like many blog owners that recognize there’s an implicit approval that’s communicated to readers with links in posts. If the blog or site owner is so bold to query exactly what they will be linking to, they generally come back, at least in my case, to a ‘service’ that offers to write papers for college students. [click to continue…]

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3 Tools to Help You Organize Your Writing

day of the deadDay of the Dead? Fall? Halloween?

Whatever you call this season, it’s almost too late for freelance writers to write end of the year articles – unless they want to hold them for next year.

While successful freelance writers have a good deal of control over their time, it’s also easy to let the seasons slip by. If your goal is to be published in one of the glossy consumer magazines you see displayed at super markets and books stores, ideas for the end of the year holidays look like an easy target.

Yes, it’s true they are hungry for good, original end of the year pieces, it’s also true that the biggest of them plan these issues as much as six months ahead.

If that’s the market you want to try, put it on your calendar to query next May, June, and July.

What about smaller publications?

Smaller and more local publications usually are more open to holiday articles starting about now – October. This is true every year. [click to continue…]

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freelance writing paySharon Hurley Hall wrote a great post called Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates: 4 Steps to Help You Get Paid What You’re Worth

It got me thinking about freelance writing pay in general and more specifically how we throw terms like ‘going rate’ and ‘fair rate’ around.

What, I wondered, are we really talking about?

Money is an odd thing

On one hand, money is a tool, a way to represent value without carrying around sacks of oranges or a cow in hopes of finding someone who wants to trade their chickens for one or the other. At least that’s more or less how money got started.

Today, money is fraught. Meaning is all over the map. Some people associate a person’s value by the amount of money they have. Some hoard money, certain it will buy some real security. Others are ashamed of their relationship with money, or at least confused. Many have associated the amount of money they have with their own self-worth.

About that going rate

The Free Dictionary defines going rate as “the current rate or the current charges for something.” This assumes that the typical price of something is knowable. More specifically, for our purposes, it assumes the typical price for a piece of writing is knowable. I’m not sure that’s true. [click to continue…]

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Quit Waiting For That Writing Client and Move On!

Not long ago a writer was complaining to me that they hadn’t heard from their best client in ages. Somehow it reminded me of this Irving Berlin classic, All Alone By The Telephone. Okay, I’m dating myself and I never really liked the song, but I identified – particularly when I was in high school waiting for a date to the prom.

Clients come and clients go

One of the truths of freelance writing is that clients come and clients go. Most of the reasons client’s quit calling you has little to do with you or the quality of your work. Consider:

People often change companies. When this happens you may not hear about it ever, and the person who hired you is unlikely to hire you in her new position. In fact she may not have the authority to do so. [click to continue…]

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