Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Get Private Clients, Part 2

I know there have been a few interrupting post between “How to Get Private Clients, Part 1” and today’s “Part 2.” I got a bit side tracked, as I often do, posting other topics that seemed more important at the time. I’m back on track now and will do my best not to be so scattered in the future.

Contacting clients seems to be the most daunting task for those just getting started as freelance writers; it certainly was for me. Although jumping in and just getting started can be good advice for overcoming the initial fear, having a few marketing tools in place will make things go much more smoothly.

Get Business Cards

Even if you’re strictly a web-based freelance writer, you should have a few business cards printed to carry around with you. You never know if you will meet someone in need of your services at your local health food shop, vet, kid’s dentist, etc.

The fact is very few businesses, even local ones, operate without a website anymore. Don’t be reduced to scratching out your information on back of a ripped receipt you fished from the bottom of your purse. Commit to being the consummate professional when representing your freelance writing services.

Your cards don’t have to be fancy. They should contain the basics: your name, what you do, your business name (if applicable), email address and website URL. Including your phone, fax, Skype and/or IM information is optional.

Create a Query Template

Those who detest cold calling might be interested to know that I have obtained the majority of my clients via “cold querying.” When I first started I spent most of my day drafting original messages to each contact. I quickly learned that drafting a simple, persuasive query template was much more productive. I tweak the content to make it ideal for the prospect I’m contacting, and it really has shaved off a lot of the time spent meeting my weekly goal. Here’s what I suggest including in your template:

1. The contact’s name. Sometimes I don’t have a contact’s name although you could make a quick call to the company and request that information. To be honest I don’t always have time to do that. When that happens I write: “Dear Recruiter” or “Dear Team So-and-so.”

2. What you do. Very briefly explain your specialty if you have one. For instance, you might specialize in web content for real estate professionals and say something like: “I create descriptive real estate content that converts more website visitors into home owners.” Of course be prepared to back up a statement like this.

3. List your experience. Your writing experience is important, but if you’re a niche writer, your industry background is just as important if not more.

4. Samples of your work. I simply provide a link to my online portfolio.

5. Tell them why they should hire you. This is where you sell your services by explaining what makes you stand apart from other writers. Are you detail-oriented? Do you have a fast turn around on copy?

6. Avoid talking about yourself. What I mean is make the letter all about what you can do for your contact. It’s very easy to spread the word “I” throughout a query. Make sure you use the word ”you” instead.

Get your own marketing materials

Post cards or brochures are a great way to initiate contact with local prospects. Mailing post cards can also be a nice way of touching base with clients you haven’t heard from in a while.

Put your website to work

You do have a website, right? Sure you do. There’s no way you would miss out on this 24/7 marketing opportunity. It’s not so easy to stand out among the thousands and thousands of websites and blogs online these days, but there are a few things you can do.

Make sure a link to your website is in your email signature and the signature of any online forums you frequent. Add a blog, newsletter or free report readers can sign up for. This helps you collect information from prospective buyers.

These suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully it’s enough to get you started.


Lori said...

EXCELLENT post, Kimberly! I love it. I'm going to use this. Like many people, I'm not a cold-call fan, but if done right, it can work. You sound like you do it right and I'm going to follow your example! Thank you. :)

Kimberly Ben said...

Thank you so much, Lori. I really fell off the marketing wagon over the summer and am trying to get some new things going.

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