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7 Ways To Lose New Freelance Writing Business And Never Even Know It

freelance writers and social mediaI’ve been doing some cold calling recently and have been fairly horrified at eight things that I know turn away potential new business even before any contact is made. You can make sure you’re not turning off potential freelance writing clients by avoiding these mistakes:

The phone is answered by someone on a cell phone and the reception is lousy. I really don’t understand this, but it seems at least in the U.S. that cellphone reception is anything but reliable. I’m amazed at how many times I have to say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.” Often the person on the other end will do something, maybe take me off speaker, and I can then hear them. If you get complaints from people who can’t hear you clearly, quit using the cell phone and go back to your landline. Seriously.  If the potential client can’t understand you they will call someone else.

The phone is answered by an automatic message warning me that the call will be recorded. What is this all about? I call a business and the first words I hear are something like “To assure quality service and to help with training this call will be recorded.” And I’m talking about small businesses, even those with one or two people. What it seems to assume is that I’m going to sue them at the drop of a hat. Again, these are not people I want to deal with – has anyone done any studies on this?

The voice mail system that always plays Dave Brubeck’s Take 5I’ve loved Brubeck’s jazz since the 60s, but give me a break. Apparently there’s some phone service out there that offers Take 5 as an option for hold music and it’s used by tons of people. What’s wrong with silence, with maybe an occasional soft beep to let me know I’m still connected  At least I’d be able to listen to my own music during the hold time.

Google voice mail assuring me they’re attempting to reach whomever. Is google ever successful at reaching whoever it is? It seems like that announcement only happens when the person isn’t available. Why not go directly to the leave a message message?

The service that asks for my name and press pound before attempting to connect. Is this supposed to eliminate sales calls? Warn the person calling that it’s their mother-in-law? I don’t mind giving my name to a machine, but I don’t see the purpose, particularly when it usually ends up asking me to leave a message anyway.

Small typeface on the website. Okay, you already know I’m no longer twenty, but when you put your website up with tiny type you’re making it difficult for a whole bunch of people to read – boomers, for example, and seniors. Both those are huge markets; most don’t know that they can boost the type face. In my opinion anything less than 12 point type is just plain silly. It’s not as if you were going to run out of space. Make it easy for folks to read what you have to say. Seems like these sites are also afraid of white space, but study after study tells us people don’t read on the web the way they do on paper. White space helps us read what you have to say

No obvious phone number on the website. Why in the world would you hide your phone number. Yet site after site I see makes me hunt. A business line can help protect you if that’s your worry. And learn how to turn your phone off so it rolls to voicemail when you don’t want to be bothered. Oh, and if you’ve got some number like 555.cute, please include the 2883 in numbers for those of us who don’t type well on our phone keypads.

If you look at each of these seven items you’ll see that everyone of them creates some sort of a barrier between you and someone who might want to do business with you.

Look at your website. Listen to your voicemail message. Pay attention if someone tells you they can’t hear you over your phone. Look again at all your marketing materials and all the ways you present yourself and your writing to potential clients. One quick way to improve your business is to eliminate any and all barriers.

What barriers to doing business have you found on your travels through the world? Tell us about them. How about in your own marketing efforts – have you discovered any barriers there? Share about it in comments.


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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • This is so spot on. All of these issues have kept me from pursuing business.
    Ironically , I just discovered that the bookmark/business card I created has a typo in the URL of BLOG.
    Guilty as charged.
    thanks for blogging, Anne. I mostly lurk but I learn a lot and pass your posts on to friends. Michal in Israel

    • Michal, don’t feel alone with this kind of error… the bookmark/cards will recycle well and you can reprint them with correct url… a proof reader… someone with a good eye can be a huge help.

  • The small type is a real issue for me too Anne, even with my glasses on. It’s not just those with aging eyes who have a problem. Anyone who spends a lot of time in front of the computer can struggle when they come across abnormally small type. Sure, I can zoom in. But if a site forces me to take that step in my browser, I probably won’t stick around long enough to hire the person behind it.
    Jenn Mattern recently posted..5 Reasons Your Writing Career is Going NowhereMy Profile

    • Agree… and the screen is a major part of the problem. I can’t figure out why anyone would use tiny type when they have so many options.

  • I especially wish there would be no music or talking when I’m on hold. I’m usually doing something else and the music and talking is a major distraction.
    John Soares recently posted..Top 10 Ways to Be a More Productive Freelance WriterMy Profile

    • Totally agree… wish they would provide a press # for no hold music. I’ve yet to find one that plays music I like and when it’s a radio I often get the commercials. Either will reduce me to solitaire, which is hardly productive.

  • Since moving to Idaho, the only phone line I have is my cell phone. I have no landline. This has worked out fine. If I received complaints about not being able to be heard (due to a bad connection), I would invest in a landline again, but, so far (and that’s the past 4 years), I have not had this problem.

    Truth be told, I have more problems with clients who put me on landline speakerphones.

    I hate, hate, hate voicemail menu trees. If you must have them, make it easy to bypass them and get to a real human being. I had a recent experience with a major car rental agency where I had a question on the operation of the vehicle. I tried to call the local site where I rented the vehicle and got the following tree menu.

    – a series of prompts in which none of the options fit my issue
    – by hitting 0, i got a 2nd tree menu of 6 choices, none of which fit my issue
    – when I thought I had FINALLY found a customer service option, it dumped me into its national customer service, which would not be able to help me with my issue

    I hung up in disgust.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Has Technology Made Us Stupid or Just Lazy?My Profile

    • Glad your cell works so well, Cathy… there are websites that give numbers that avoid phonetrees like http://gethuman.com/ – worth checking I think.

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