|By Casey Hibbard||
|February 21, 2013 11:37 AM EST||
“If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
I’m not sure who said that, but file it under quotes that are wise, but still hard to accept. It’s absolutely true for freelancing. It’s not an easy road, but it gets easier over time. Like many things, the beginning is the hardest.
If you’ve ever started an exercise routine, you know it’s rough at the start. You’re out of shape and out of the habit of working out. It can feel like torture. But you get stronger and more disciplined and it feels so much easier – and you start to notice the payoff. Freelancing is no different.
Know this: If I can do it, you can do it. When I started, I didn’t have any special edge. I had writing skills, but I didn’t have a sales bone in my body. At the time, there were a few helpful books on the topic (Bob Bly and Peter Bowerman), but much of what I learned came from experience.
Fifteen years after going solo, I'm in a much better place. Unfortunately I learned nearly everything below the hard way:
1. Always be marketing. Even when business is good. It can be hard to find the time but keep doing it. Build in some regular marketing in your schedule. Otherwise your pipeline dries up and you’ll hit more “famine” periods.
2. Prospects rarely need you when you contact them. Just because you reach out to a prospect that seems perfect, that doesn’t mean they need your help now. But they might need you down the road. A “no” often means “not right now.”
3. People forget about you if you don’t contact them regularly. Regular contact gets business.
4. Raise rates regularly. Employees get regular raises for cost of living increases, and so should you. When you start a client at a certain rate, don’t keep them there forever. Establish a schedule – such as annually – for increasing rates. And then simply let clients know when you start a new project what the new rate is and that you’re raising your rates to account for normal inflation.
5. You know more than most clients – about writing projects. You’re a professional writer. Your clients are not. They know their subject matter but rely on you for writing expertise. Be confident in your abilities.
6. Be willing to take less-than-ideal projects early on. As with anything, you have to put in your time to build your income and experience. You can specialize from the beginning but don’t be TOO narrow at first. Don’t be too choosey early on either.
7. Clients can take a while to pay. Know that clients can take a while to pay. Set your terms, such as “net 30,” but know clients do what they want. Include a penalty on the bottom of your invoices that says you charge a 1.5% late fee (or other fee) each month that the payment is late. Then send friendly reminder invoices when an invoice is past due.
8. Don’t panic if a project seems too hard at first. Ask questions, get information, take notes, record interviews, and again, ask questions! They can’t expect you to be a subject matter expert on their products and services but you can learn quickly.
9. Be detail oriented. Care about everything you deliver to a client.
10. There’s plenty of work to go around. This is true, though it may not feel like it now. There are lots of writers out there but there are more companies that need help. Capitalize on the type of writing and subject matter you do best and those companies will be drawn to you.
11. Freelancing is up and down. Everyone calls at once and stops calling at once! You can’t control your workload, unfortunately. Be ready for the feast when it comes, and then use the famine times to market yourself, and get organized and ready for the next feast.
12. Use downtime to write – for yourself. During slower times, you should always amp up your marketing and sales efforts. Do what you do best, writing. Write articles, guest blog posts, etc. to get your name out there.
13. Be disciplined. Set a marketing and writing schedule and stick to it.
14. Paychecks are fixed (i.e. limited) but there's no limit with freelancing. It’s tough to think about it this way when coming off a paycheck, but being on 100% commission actually gives you the potential to earn more. And you give yourself raises with rate increases.
15. People perceive you as less qualified if you charge too little. If a product like a cell phone or computer is a lot less than another one, don’t you wonder why? We assume that less expensive usually means less quality. Clients have the same reaction.
16. Confidence sells. State your rates and be confident you’re worth what you charge.
17. Set goals and check in on them regularly. Along with the discipline tip above, it’s more important than ever to set goals. By when will you finish your buzz piece? How much money do you want to make per month? How many projects do you need to get there?
18. Referrals are not automatic sales. When a contact or client sends a potential client your way, don’t assume it’s a sale. Follow the same process with the same professionalism you always do. You still need to impress.
19. You can’t control parts of the case study project. You can’t control how much time clients take to review a story or the time for end customer review and approval. Invoice after the first draft is delivered but stay engaged and committed to the project for as long as it takes to complete, even well after you’ve been paid.
20. Don’t take lack of response personally. Just because someone doesn’t get back to you after you talk or send a proposal doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. People get busy, go on vacation, or other priorities come up. Follow up every so often.
21. Everyone calls the day before you leave or while you’re on vacation (including the week of Christmas/New Year’s). You’ll notice the pattern once you’ve been freelancing for a while.
22. Be a partner, not a sales person. Prospects don’t want to be sold. They want someone who will partner with them to achieve their goals. Always be thinking about how you can be that partner.
23. Don’t be scared by clients with technical subject matter, especially if the end audience is business decision-makers. You don’t have to understand the bits and bytes behind technology if you’re only writing about the business impact and benefits. Ask your client about the audience before making decisions about projects.
24. Partner with other writers. Find other writers that don’t write the same things or serve the same audience as you. Get to know each other’s strengths and refer leads back and forth. I do this with all types of writers.
25. You are your own boss. When you feel like you have the freedom, don’t work with clients that are disrespectful of you or your time. It’s not worth it. There are better clients out there.
Want to add customer case studies to your menu of freelance writing services?
Get mad skills by spring in this new course for emerging case study writers: The Case Study Writer’s Mad Skills Crash Course. In this 7- week online course, learn
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
Mar. 30, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,469
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 29, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,811
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Mar. 29, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,233
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Mar. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,854
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,486
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,604
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Mar. 29, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,438
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Mar. 29, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,426
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
Mar. 29, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,172
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,857
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,469
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the M2M space. This really allows some room for influential individuals to create more high value inter...
Mar. 29, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,671
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
Mar. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 799
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Mar. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,458
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
Mar. 29, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,124
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
Mar. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,098
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
Mar. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,424
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
Mar. 29, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,055
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,551
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
Mar. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,643