Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jumpstart Your Freelancing

You don't know where to start. You know you're supposed to query magazines, but which ones, and to whom? Or you need clients for your copywriting business. What is cold calling and how do you even start?

When you freelance, you assume the responsibility of asking for business. It's scary, I know. I hate it, too. Put me in a room full of people, and I can wing it. Put me one-on-one and talk about hiring me, and I'm all jelly inside. But let's say you want to start this writing business. How do you start finding people to write for?

1. Who you know.

It's that simple. Tell everybody that you write for a living and are taking on clients and gigs. Give them cards and have them pass them out, contact acquaintances, talk you up. Hey, my mother sells my books via her tax prep business. I've had the editor of one magazine sell me to the editor of another. Conference organizers have validated me to other writing professionals. Your friends and family have employers who just might use a freelance writer. Use the mouthpieces you have.

2. Who you subscribe to.

Start with the magazines you read. After all, you understand them. Then grow to the magazines your friends and family read, because you can pick their minds as to why they read them and what the magazines represent. It's the age-old adage of tapping what you  know . . . something we tend to overlook. Note the free regional pubs you grab while out shopping. Don't forget to pitch a column to the fledgling newspaper you've subscribed to for years, trying to help keep it alive.

3. Businesses you use.

Ask your dentist to write his newsletter . . . or start one for him. Ask your child's school if you can pen a column on writing.Pick up the Out Here magazine at Tractor Supply or the local parenting magazine at the restaurant you frequent. Keep your writing eyes open.

4. Using coattails.

Use writers you know to open doors for you. I'm friends with a freelancer who makes a full-time living writing for regional newspapers and magazines. Lake Murray Living and Sandlapper are local mags in South Carolina, and she's well known at both. Don't know any? Start following someone, commenting on their blog or friending them on Facebook. My son knows two sports journalists in the state, simply because he regularly comments on their blogs. Same goes for journalists at the papers. They can tell you how to pitch, what to pitch, and possibly knock on the door of the editor you need to pitch it to.

We're all connected. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Wouldn't you love to help someone? Of course you would. In this case, getting started is all in who you know, and there's nothing wrong with that.


Karen Janos said...

Great advice! Thanks.

I have to talk myself up to friends more.

JD said...

Savvy advice. Especially about tapping into businesses you already use. Thanks for the post, Hope!

Susan said...

Yep, networking is everything. Right now I'm freelancing (feature stories) for a weekly newspaper and they keep me VERY busy. Susan

Megan said...

Thanks for the helpful tips. I think another part of it is just feeling confident enough that you can write something worth selling. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will either, regardless of how many contacts you make.