Philip Gegan continues his excellent On the Road series.
Life’s tough out on the road, but you certainly learn from the helpful folk you meet. Take the white van driver blocking my way in the crowded car park. When he called out to me to “back up, back up!”, I didn’t know what he meant at first. Then I realized he was simply reminding me of the importance of backing up my data and programs in case my hard drive failed.
It’s not easy getting writing work by cold calling in person. My experiences have taught me that if you decide to promote your writing services in this way then it’s best to focus purely on large but local companies.
Smaller companies – shops, restaurants, hair salons, even garden centers – are generally too small to have the resources to spend on regular writing services. At least, that’s the way they look at it, and persuading them of the benefits of regular contact with their customers through social media sites is difficult at best.
Considering all this, I decided to change tactics and approach businesses by telephoning them and asking for an appointment. The first lesson learned was that usually you have to make two or three calls before you eventually speak with the right person.
I find this quite nerve-wracking, even though it is only the phone. To help, I always place a script in front of me so I have a prompt when I need it. I write down the answers to a number of questions I may be asked, such as, “What makes you think you can increase our sales for us?” and “Have you ever worked as a car salesman/financial adviser/web site designer/etc?” (OK, so I haven’t, but I’ve still made a point of finding out all about what’s going on in their marketplace, right?).
I also had a handy list of all my writing achievements, how many articles I have posted at EzineArticles.com, a few offline publishing triumphs, and so on, in case I had to counter any suggestion that I’m just an amateur who hasn’t got a proper job (you really have to give it to them between the eyes if they ask for it).
When at last you get through to the Marketing Manager, tell him that you’ve made a study of the industry (which you have) in its local context and that you’d very much like to get involved with his company by writing articles and copy for its web site, brochure, or whatever it may be, and to promote the company on its blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Remind him that all major players in his industry are now going onto the social media sites, and running quality blogs with high-calibre content. Mention how many full-time writers Microsoft has to run its blogs and social media campaigns (1,500, I believe, and rising – at least, that’s what I’ve been telling business people round here).
Don’t be afraid to emphasize the increased business you can help them obtain. There are some useful facts relating to this to be found by Googling ‘social media facts’. If they are serious players in their market, they have to at least have been thinking of getting a better blog and social media presence.
If you can mention a fact or two that you can only have discovered from the company web site or blog then probably your prospect will be impressed. If you can also politely suggest one or two improvements to it then either your credibility will shoot through the roof (job secured) or they’ll hang up (so what? – just move on to the next prospect).
At the meeting dress smart and look professional. Act deadly serious, as if you’re offering them the keys to the safe (which, in a way, you are). The fact that you appear to know so much about their company’s hopes, fears, aspirations, forthcoming events, and so on, and are genuinely interested in it all, should impress them.
If you come across well then you’re almost there, but if you don’t then it may well all be in vain. Rather like a job interview, which in a way it is. Don’t forget to produce examples of your writing relevant to their company (referring them to your blog to see examples of your work isn’t enough).
You’ll have to play it by ear up to a point, but try and take the initiative by proposing a definite arrangement. Never expect them to agree a long-term contract at the start. If you can suggest yourself that you supply the agreed material, or make the agreed number of Facebook or Twitter entries, and that the company decides within, say, a month, if they want to retain you for a longer period, then they should be impressed enough to say yes.
Don’t take any nonsense. If they still prevaricate then be prepared to collect up your paperwork and leave. Remember, you’re in the driving seat now. Where else are they going to get a talented and committed writer who lives locally to boost their social media marketing?
You can then set out your fee (if you haven’t covered that already) for the work you’ll do. I’ve found that £20 (about $30USD) per article of around 500 words, and £5 for Facebook/Twitter entries (two or three of each a week to start with), is about right. Setting up their Twitter or Facebook account should carry a separate, substantial, fee. If you pitch the price too low or the workload too high then they’ll look on you as not being a serious business person.
While you’re there, find out as much as possible about their web site hosting, designers, and maintenance. You need to know who you should liaise with – sometimes this will be the marketing director and sometimes the web site administrator.
Yes, I know. All this is quite a bit of hassle, isn’t it? I don’t like corporate types any more than you do. I had enough of them when I was practicing law (and I kept on practicing it till I got it right – ha, ha). But it’s something you have to go through to get a few local companies as writing clients. And once you have a full client list, with enough income, you shouldn’t have to do it again.
But if this really isn’t for you, there may be other ways of getting writing work. I’ll cover one or two next month.
Latest posts by Angela Booth (see all)
- Improve Your Writing Today: 3 Easy Tips - June 24, 2019
- Social Media Marketing: 3 Easy Tips You Can Use Today - June 21, 2019
- Mystery Fiction: 3 Tips To Create Excitement And Suspense - June 13, 2019