The joys of being a freelance writer! Here’s what I’ve been up to…

If you’ve read my first two posts about being a freelance copywriter you’ll know that I had some interesting knock backs early on and that I was about to try some new tactics.

Several things worked. Lots of things didn’t. I also learned that certain tactics don’t work at all and others need you to be very experienced to make the best of them.

So, if you’re a freelance writer, or you’re starting out on the road to freelancing or being a copywriter, here’s what I’ve learned.

Bulk Emailing

I did a lot of targeted emailing in the first few months. I’d pick an industry and then fire off a generic email with my best pitch, using all my NLP blurbs and stuff. Did it work?

I got a few email responses saying that sounds interesting. Two of them even got me to do some work to check my quality and both came back saying thanks thats great. But did I get paying work from it?

In a word, no.

It took a lot of time and effort to construct various emails with different wording and then spend days trawling through sites like Yell.com looking for solicitors, building contractors, architects and digital marketing agencies. And the return on time investment was pretty minimal.

Did I follow any one up? Yes, a few. Not all of them by any means (there aren’t enough hours in the day) but generally the response was; Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Verdict: Not worth it.

Networking Events

I haven’t been to enough networking events, but the one I have been to was interesting. I’ll explain momentarily why I haven’t been to more than one, but first…

Living in London there are stacks of networking events. There are lots of free ones and paid ones and there are all sorts for niche industries, investors, startups etc.

I went to a general business networking event in The City, that I’d been to before for a different thing. It was fun. I met some interesting people, drank some free beer and nearly ended up going on a date with a Welsh MILF. Bailed on that as my pregnant girlfriend wouldn’t have been impressed.

The problem with this one event is that everyone was selling something or pitching for investors. I just went for the craic really and to hand a few business cards out.

So what would I do differently in future? I think I’d find a networking event which was more targeted at a specific industry and see how that helped.

I did actually sign up for several other events. One of them I had to bail on as the aforementioned pregnant girlfriend gave birth early so it wasn’t really cool to run off to a seminar about Chinese businesses. The other one I realised was a bit of a hard sell by a wannabe Tony Robbins type figure.

You may have guessed that the new baby is why I haven’t been to more networking events, and you’d be right. Gold star for you.

Verdict: Come back to that once the newborn has settled slightly.

Content Mills

I’ve written about content mills a few times. Sites such as UpWork and Hirewriters which are consistent and great for finding work but not so good for decent pay.

For any freelance writer, these have been my saviour in the background. I have actually had about four consistent clients on HireWriters who have specifically requested my work. One even messaged me through this site directly and has had me do  few jobs for him (albeit literally on the day the baby was born so I’ve not been the most reliable writer in terms of delivering on time!).

As well as this I’ve signed up for a new site, Crowdcontent which I have yet to actually write anything for.

And UpWork has been a solid source of good fun work. I’ve written for several sites and managed to beef up my portfolio with more diverse work (see my portfolio for deets). If you’re a freelance writer or copywriter looking for work then you should definitely sign up for a few of the content mills, if only for experience and fall back options.

Verdict: Good for work/portfolio expansion. Not so good for high paying work.

Personal Contacts

One of the more fun jobs was building a website for a friend who has set up a new business. This also overlapped with the new baby arrival so the job has a few loose threads which need tidying.

The story here though is, personal contacts can be a lifesaver. Spread the word and make the most of your contacts and you never know what comes through.

Verdict: Thumbs up.

eBooks

I’ve published a few ebooks in the past few weeks. You can pick them up on Amazon.

The Shoestring Traveller: A guide to travelling the world on a budget got to #3 in the bestsellers charts and is currently £1.99.

How to survive India: Is my handbook/manual about how to get through a trip to India based on my experiences. Currently 99p! A bargain!!

Any freelance writer worth his salt should be doing something even when it’s quiet. These ebooks are ideas that I wanted to get out there. In fact, the India one is a rehash of an article I wrote on Gone Travelling. Keep on writing!!

Final Word

A few things I’ve learned in the past few weeks:

  • Agree in advance exactly what is going to be done for the money and how many revisions you are prepared to do. I had a couple of clients who covertly got me to write a lot more than I expected for what was a pretty low price. This meant with the second client I clamped down pretty quickly on being asked to do extra work. Get it in writing!
  • Clarify exactly what the client wants. Sometimes if it’s too vague they can come back and say they asked for something which, on checking, they didn’t at all.
  • Don’t under price yourself just to get work. It does mean you get work, but at what price? Not enough… That’s what.

And that is the story so far of my freelance writer experiences. Now I have to go and change more nappies and get some sleep. Until next time amigos!


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