Follow-up is, of course, a must when it comes to landing freelance writing clients, unless, of course, it isn’t.
Carol Tice published a provocative article called The Secret of My Proven Freelance Follow-Up System. There she says, “I never follow up. Yes, really. I just don’t.” Which is an approach she’s made work for her.
If, however, you read the comments, you’ll find some agree and do no follow-up while others find they have to follow-up or their business dries up.
Like so many things in freelance writing, the decision of if, when, and how to follow-up depends on more than a few variables. Some of the variables include your personality and some are market forces.
You’ll never land every possible lead
One of the first things every freelance writer needs to accept is that you’ll never land every lead. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing magazine article, ghost writing articles for blogs, editing scientific papers, ghostwriting books, creating audio and/or video or even film scripts. No matter what specialty you develop or stumble into, more leads will say ‘no’ or ignore you than will say ever say ‘yes.’
Even worse, some that say ‘yes’ will end up not hiring you – ever.
The nos are not about you or your writing
Learning to accept the direct nos or the implied nos of no response is key to staying in the freelance writing business. There’s no getting around it, rejection is part of the game. The reasons for rejections are endless. They range from a very genuine ‘I don’t need you’ through ‘I don’t have enough time to even consider if I need you’ to ‘Yeah, I’d like a pro but I have no budget’ and on to ‘I want to hire my niece – she just graduated from high school and got an A in her English classes.’
None of these are about you or your writing. How could it be about you? They don’t know you from Adam or Eve. If they don’t like your writing that’s a decision of theirs, usually based on some amorphous idea they have that they can’t communicate to you.
All that’s happened is you’ve found more frogs than princes or princesses. And usually there are way more frogs!
What about follow-up?
I follow-up with some potential clients and ignore the rest. If I answer an ad through Craigslist or other job board I do no follow-up, knowing they will contact me if I seem to meet their requirements. I don’t follow-up on over the transom article queries or submissions – and I don’t worry about people stealing my submissions either. If I’m cold calling and reach someone who seems interested in what I have to offer I’ll ask them how or even if they want me to follow through. If they say later in the week, I’ll ask for a day and time; if they say in 6 months, I’ll agree and schedule a call back in 3 or 4 months.
Sometimes I get referrals, particularly for ghostwriting books. I’ll call or email until I make contact and have a conversation about their possible project. Often the response is ‘not now’ for various reasons. I’ll ask how they want me to follow-up with them and make sure I do roughly what they suggest.
I, like you are looking for the clients who will treat me well and pay on time. In my world that means I follow-up with some and not others. Do I know I’m doing this ‘right’? I don’t worry about that; I’m only interested in what works today, knowing it may change tomorrow.
In other words, how your follow-up, if you follow-up, and when is up to you. Try things until you find what works for you.
What’s your experience? Let us know in comments.
Write well and often,
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