It’s somewhat amazing to me the reaction I sometimes get when I mention writers as business owners. There are usually a lot of “I hadn’t thought of myself that way!” responses. It makes sense. What may have started as a part-time gig has turned into a full-fledged job. And plenty of us have just come from being employees. It’s tough to wear the hat when you don’t know it’s your hat.
But you are a business owner. It’s a shift in perspective you should make that will change radically the way you approach customers, decisions, and negotiations. It takes practice, but yes, even you can think like a business owner. Here are just a few ways to start that shift:
Job postings for freelance writers often ask for a resume. If you make cold calls or otherwise contact potential clients you may very well be asked to bring along your resume.
Generally potential clients aren’t looking for the kind of work history a resume typically provides. What they normally want is reassurance that you can write and some sense of your ability to write in the style they want.
Usually, in fact, what they really want is to see some actual samples of your writing.
There are at least two ways to handle this.
I have on my website (https://annewayman.com) some actual samples and some links to samples. I also have a list of the kinds of things I’ve written, with some links. I call this my Credit List and when someone wants a resume that’s what I send.
Lori has something similar on her professional site (https://loriwidmer.com/) that she calls Project Successes. Potential customers find links and actual samples there.
Once of the best ways to find new writing clients is through cold calling.
I can hear the groans!
I know, cold calling is probably one of the least-liked marketing methods for freelance writers, yet it’s also one of the most effective.
Here are 7 tips to make your cold calling both tolerable and successful.
Remember, it’s business to business. You’re a business person and you’ll be calling businesses. You’re not selling schlock while interrupting folks at their dinner table. You’re a professional (writer) offering a service (writing) that every business needs in one form or another. While not every business needs writing right this moment, cold calling is one way to find those who do, and who will be happy to get your call.
I have plenty of clients whom I love doing business with for one reason or another. We talk, we joke, we enjoy each interaction as one would enjoy interactions with friends. On some level, I consider my clients friends with one clear distinction – they’re business friends.
That’s important to remember when the invoice is delinquent or the client starts piling more work on a flat-fee project. The moment the relationship starts to hit speed bumps, you may start to question your approach. That’s when you need to remove the emotion and get down to business.
I’ve worked with a few colleagues whom I’ve considered business friends. In most cases, it’s worked out. However, there have been a few times where the relationship was tested and I had to put on my business hat. One instance in particular was a client I’d known for years but only recently had started working with.
We had an agreement – I was to bill a retainer fee each month. However, six months into the agreement, his business started losing money. He wanted to rethink things. We then agreed I’d bill hourly, which actually worked a little better for me in some cases. All was well.
Until it wasn’t.