Freelance writing jobs are everywhere. There’s never been a better time to be a writer. However, many freelancers are missing out because of one small but damaging mistake: following up.
I urge my students to FOLLOW UP. It’s essential.
Here are some results. One student’s booked up until next February. Another’s booked solid until next June. (She’s a ghostwriter.) One student tripled his monthly income in less than a week.
Following up works. However, it’s challenging, so many writers stop doing it. Please — do it, and keep doing it.
Everyone’s Busy: I Am, You Are, They Are… ONCE Is Not Enough
I’ve never been busier. It’s fun, but most days I’m worn out by the time I switch off my computer. Things slip through the cracks — my bullet journal’s helping with this — but they do. It’s inevitable.
Writers know that everyone’s busy. But somehow, they think that with a single introduction to their services, made months or years ago, prospective clients will remember them. I assure you, it doesn’t happen. If you want to get hired by great companies and publications, you need to put some effort into getting them to know and remember that you exist. You have to NAG people. Gently, of course.
Create a Workflow to Help You to Follow Up
You need to follow up with:
- Past clients, to see whether they need you now, or for an upcoming project;
- Prospective clients who haven’t hired you YET (you’ve sent them an email message, introducing yourself);
- Colleagues — fellow writers, graphic designers, Web developers — all those contacts you make, and then forget (they forget you, too);
- Current clients.
It’s not easy. I use reminders in Evernote, in combination with a couple of spreadsheets. You can use any tool you like.
How Often Should You Follow Up?
As a rule of thumb, aim to ensure that the people who know you, remember you. Add them to a mailing list. Then you can send out a monthly mailing. However, people get dozens of emails every day. They’ll file your mailing away to read “later”, and later never comes.
So, with your best clients, aim to contact them individually, at least once every three months.
Prospective clients, with whom you’d like to work, take more intensive follow-ups.
- Making contact a week after your introduction — just send another short email message: “Hi_ (prospect’s name) just resending this; in case you didn’t receive it.” Who knows, maybe he didn’t. So send the intro again;
- Sending a followup message three weeks after your intro: “Hi_ (prospect’s name), I recently worked with ________ (some company in the same industry, or a publication.) I can see that _________ (something or other, maybe they’re opening a new facility, or are launching a new product.) If you’d like some help with that, I’m available for _________ (whatever it is that you do.) Contact me at ________ (phone number.)”
- Sending a followup three month after your intro. Say whatever you like; remind him that you’ve been in touch, and would like to work with them. NO, you’re not “bothering” them. This is normal business practice. Some clients hire you after the third followup, some hire you after the tenth.
- Keep following up, at 60-day intervals. Stop only when you no longer want to work with them.
Here’s Why You Keep Following Up, Even When You Don’t Want To
You keep following up, because other writers don’t do it, and because your prospects get to know you. Sooner or later, they’ll hire you, because they know you.
So there you have it. Avoid the mistake of contacting people once, and leaving it at that. Keep following up. Your bank account will grow. 🙂
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