As a freelance writer, making your own success is vital for survival in the field. You’ll spend half of your days cold-calling potential clients, writing email pitches and promoting your business via social media. The hardest part of a freelance job is not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from. You have to make it work with the amount of projects you’re getting from current clients.
So how do some freelancers stay so busy? What’s their secret? As with everything else, there is a science to running your own business. It requires a lot of hard work on your part, but in the end, it could lead to amazing rewards! With freelance copywriting, you have to make your own success every single day. Here is a simple checklist of how to keep your business steady and growing.
Create a Calendar
Every good business needs work hours to function properly. If you are not a person that is self-disciplined, freelancing may be harder for you than most. One of the many joys of freelance copywriting is the flexibility it brings. You have the ability to make your own hours, work when it is most convenient for you and schedule vacations or doctor’s appointments at your leisure. You are your own boss!
While this is exciting, it is also a huge responsibility. There is no one to check in on you to make sure you’re hitting deadlines or obtaining a consistent work flow from clientele. You are responsible for obtaining new clients, communicating with them, pricing your work, completing projects by the deadline, invoicing and keeping track of payment.
That isn’t all. You are also responsible for promoting your business, maintaining your website, providing customer support and accounting for taxes at the end of each fiscal year. Sound overwhelming? It won’t be if you create a calendar.
Each week, create business hours. Display them on your website, so people will know when you are available for consultation. Make time for each of the tasks you need to complete each week and set your own deadlines. How many prospective clients do you need to reach this week? How many projects are pending with current clients? What kind of promotion do you need to do this week? Once you create time to complete all of these tasks, you’ll find that you’re much more productive.
Staying organized is crucial to your small business. Since you are the sole proprietor of your company, you’ll need to take on several tasks. Creating a calendar is the best way to ensure you have time for all of it, but staying organized is the next step to ensure everything is getting done.
After you create your calendar, make it a priority. Since you are your own boss, you’re the only person that will get the work done on time. Make sure that you are sticking to your calendar and completing tasks by their deadlines. Utilize tools like Evernote to make to-do lists, and keep track of your projects by creating spreadsheets of your work.
Organize your projects by client on your computer in individual folders. Make a separate folder for invoices and keep track of these through a spreadsheet. Utilize tabs at the bottom to create easy access for each client’s orders. Make sure you are accounting for each project, the dates that you invoiced your client, the due date and when the invoice is paid. This way, if there are outstanding balances, you’ll know who to reach out to when inquiring about the issue.
Schedule Time for New Client Outreach
This is the part of freelancing that most people hate. It’s technically sales. You are responsible for bringing in leads and converting them. Even though most people are not keen on the pitching and cold-call outreach process, it’s the only reason your business stays afloat. A healthy business is reaching out to people daily to promote and ultimately gain new clients.
This is an essential part of your weekly routine. Make sure you are scheduling 40 percent of your work week for outreach and promotion. Source emails by doing some list building. Google advertising agencies near you or companies in the area of your niche. Apply for copywriter roles in your area or elsewhere as another outreach technique. Put in your cover letter that you are looking for freelance opportunities to work remotely. Often times, clients respond better to this approach than a normal cold-call.
However, cold-calling is a vital part of your sales tactic. Make sure your pitch is researched and professional. Keep it short and sweet, emphasizing what you do and how you do it. Relate your services to a problem that the company is currently facing, or a need they may have. The more you know about a company, the closer you will be to gaining a new client. Professionals want to know that you have done your research.
Many companies will want to interview you over the phone, or even have you come into the office with a pitch ready to present to their marketing team. Be ready for this before you begin your outreach.
Stand Your Ground on Pricing
There are a variety of factors you need to consider when it comes to pricing as a freelancer. Unfortunately, there are some companies that will try to take advantage of you. They are rare, but you need to be aware so that you can avoid wasting time and money on projects for which you will never be compensated. Be sure to look out for these kinds of clients. Often times, they are looking for writers to give them free work. Beware of anyone that wants you to write a free sample for them, especially if it’s more than 500 words. Writing tests are OK, but if the project takes more than 30 minutes, it’s most likely an assignment.
Unless this is a full-time or part-time salaried or hourly contracted role, this is not something you should even consider. Offer a lengthy version of your portfolio instead. Showcase your expertise in different mediums by giving them a sample of your work including everything from landing pages, brochures, email copy, sponsorship letters, press releases, etc.
Once you’ve thoroughly completed your research on industry pricing, make sure that you stick to your guns. You’ll want to research average industry prices based on medium and experience. Prices should be reasonable based on industry standards. Although there isn’t any website that nails down freelance copywriter rates, you can research different copywriter rates online. Money is money, but you don’t want it to get around that you’re giving discounted pricing to company XYZ, when company ABC is paying a higher rate for the same thing.
Always be fair when it comes to pricing. Typically companies will mail payment within 30 days. Budget for this by reaching out to new clients accordingly. If you aren’t receiving your paycheck for another month, you need to make sure you have enough work coming in to get you through until that paycheck.
Make sure that you are also getting paid on time. Keep strict deadlines and communicate with your client if payment does not arrive. When it comes to payment being weeks or months late, it’s affecting your means to living and your client needs to be informed.
You’ll need to confront your client about the delay in a polite manner, and simply ask when you can be expecting payment. Don’t be a doormat, but don’t be rude. Always remain professional, but know that it is okay to stay persistent. Going without pay for work you’ve completed is not something you want a client to get accustomed to. Make sure you establish a professional stance on payment and that your client respects it.
All of these tips are simple ways to stay organized and make your own success. There are several ways to ensure you are paving the way to success. Just make sure that you are creating a calendar, staying organized, pitching new clients and keeping track of invoices. If you stay on top of your promotional calendar, you shouldn’t have a problem bringing in new clients and keeping existing ones happy. Got any more tips on how to procure a great client? How about how to run a successful freelance business? We want to hear from you! Leave your insight below in the comments!
About the author: Ashley Spencer
Founded in 2014 by Ashley Spencer, Writer’s Ink Copywriting is a freelance content provider offering copy for website landing pages, brochures, flyers, magazine articles, emails, letters and more. For more information on our services, please visit http://www.writersinkcopywriting.com and schedule a consultation today.