A guest post by Greg Scott is a freelance writer who lives in Japan and writes at www.gregscottwrites.com
I faced one of the biggest challenges in my ghostwriting career last year when I raised my rates. They went up a couple of bucks because I now had the skill and confidence to charge what I was worth.
The only problem is that my clients all disappeared. Nobody wanted to hang out with me anymore. They only liked me because I was cheap!
I ran special offers, lowering my standards yet again and working for less than I was worth, and the same clients would always bite. But only when I dropped my prices for them. Otherwise, I checked an empty inbox every day.
What was I to do? I had to find new clients. I realized a couple of things about my business:
- I hadn’t been spending time growing it; I basically hadn’t been treating it like a business at all.
- I’d been doing nothing at all to get new clients. I was just waiting for them to come to me (they were when I was charging $10 or less an article).
I knew I had to do something but instead I spent three or so days in a strange kind of depressed fog. I took my daughter to the park, wrote songs, went on long walks and tried to avoid thinking about my business. After I’d decided that I’d failed, my business was finished and I should try to find a job again (ugh), the moment of clarity came. I was sitting on a Wednesday morning slurping my first thick cup of coffee looking out the window. I realized I’m not a businessman or a marketer. But what am I? What can I do? I’m a writer. I can write.I decided then that I’d just write. I’d write my way out of this and not worry about what was going to happen. I had just a little bit of editing to do that day and then no more jobs. Instead of getting on Elance or making another special offer to work for less than I’m worth, I just started writing. I devoted my usual work hours that day to writing. I wrote about writing and just dumped everything I could think of out of my brain and into a bunch of blog posts. Then I started writing about SEO and making money online (one of my specialty topics).Next, I wrote about self-improvement and self-growth, another specialized topic and interest of mine. From there, I started writing about Japan (something I hadn’t done in a while). I wrote about meditating, relieving stress, how to deal with career frustrations, working at home with kids – just anything and everything I felt like writing.
After several hours of unusually focused writing, I had a whole pile of blog posts sitting on my hard drive. I decided to start shopping them around. I told myself, ‘These are REAL blog posts and they’re dear to me. I won’t sell them for less than what they’re worth.’
Then I decided, ‘Forget it, I’ll give them away.’ I started surfing the web, reading blogs and contacting blog owners. When that little voice said, ‘You’ll get rejected’ or ‘This blog’s out of your league’ or some other nasty self-defeating thing, I ignored it.
Then I turned off the computer and went for a huge walk. There’s a long, winding trail near my house and I walked all of it. It’s called ‘Shiki-no-michi,’ which means ‘four seasons road.’ It winds all over the town where I live and has a section devoted to each season. The whole walk is 7km (a bit over 4 miles) of changing natural scenery. After the walk, I spent the evening playing with my kids.
Amazingly, every single blog owner that I contacted said, ‘Yes.’ I kept emailing people until all of the blogs I’d written were gone. These guest blog posts brought more traffic to my site than ever before and got me exposure to whole new audiences, including new clients who were willing to pay for good writing.
Here are a few lessons I learned:
- No matter how much work you’re getting, keep working on growing your business. Don’t let flush times make you lazy.
- Go out and get new clients; don’t just wait for them to stumble upon your site (even if many of them do).
- If you’re going to raise your rates, inch them up and don’t DOUBLE them like I did (as I said, I’m a clueless businessman).
- When things look bad and you don’t know what to do, write.
- Go for lots of long walks.
When you face challenges in your writing career (and there will be many), take action and you’ll get yourself past them.
What do you do when your writing business slows way down?
Greg Scott is a freelance writer who lives in Japan. His professional site is www.gregscottwrites.com. He writes about working at home, self-improvement, Internet marketing, language learning and writing. He also blogs about living in Japan at www.blogitjapan.com. When not writing, he’s either at the park with the kids or playing loud rock and roll music.