I just was asked by the good folks at Emory University to come speak to some students about freelance writing. I of course said yeah, because I really like talking to new writers, and letting them know that they can do it. The people over there at Emory have always been really nice to me, and I am happy and honored to be part of this.
This will be the third time I am talking over at Emory, but I also make some semi-regular appearances at my own Alma Mater, Kennesaw State University for the same kinds of things. I never plan what I am going to say too much, just kind of go and wing it, based on what people seem to want to know.
Generally, it seems like people want to know how to get started – and I always say the same thing: just get started. Young writers tend to romanticize this lifestyle (although it is pretty cool, I gotta admit) so it seems like it is harder than it is. I actually offer work at many of these things too – but don’t always have people following up on it, which is pretty weird to me. I know when I was a student, I would’ve killed for a chance to write almost anywhere, and my main point to aspiring writers is to keep working, even if you are not getting paid yet. If you stick to it and have talent and drive, you can make a very decent living doing all kinds of writing. I hope to illustrate that to them in a simple way.
So I hope to be entertaining and honest at least and can clearly express my love for this career path. If you are going to be attending this thing (I’ll post some details here when I have them) and want to know something specific from me, feel free to give me a yell, or comment below and I’ll certainly try to answer it for you – otherwise, I am looking forward to meeting some new folks, and get them fired-up about hurling verbs.
More info on this as I get it…
It is called “Careers for Writers Networking Night” and will be held in the Winship Ballroom at Emory, from 7:00-8:30 P.M. it is in “the Duc” – Dobbs University Center.
I got one email on it so far, and will tell you – yes, we will be covering the basics of building a portfolio. Briefly – I think I have like 5 of my 15 minutes. Warhol would be proud. 🙂
OK – it’s over now, and I didn’t spit on anyone I think, so I have that going for me. I did spill some juice at one point like a spaz – but no one was too close, so no harm…just embarrassing to spill something for no good reason.
I forgot how they run it, but it was really cool. There were tons of us writers there, covering a wide range of potential career paths. We introduced ourselves and then it was simply a big mixer – folks drifted around, talking about whatever they wanted to know with folks who could offer answers.
I talked a bunch (surprise, surprise) – but the students were great – not a silly question all night. I hope I answered some things for them – it was pretty active, and I tried to stay focused for them. I have no idea how many were there – but they were all on the right path, as far as I could see. Lots of intelligent, well-intentioned folks. Not one of them was at home, watching TV – they were all doing something to increase their experiences and understanding. From that aspect, it was a success for sure. I know I’ll see the work of some of them out there. 🙂
My thanks again to Paul Bredderman over there at Emory – he has always been a very great host, who holds quality events for his students. I hope they know how lucky they are – not every student has those kind of opportunities. But mostly thanks to the writers-to-be I talked to all night – I really appreciate you allowing me to come over, and chat with you. Always feel free to email me – I had a lot less cards when I got done, so feel free to ask me anything you want, any time. And welcome to it – writing for a living is pretty wonderful.
I have been fortunate of late to be working with some great clients. And I am really happy with the work we have been able to get moving – it is very invigorating.
Clients are not cupcakes – they’re not always awesome. But great clients can help you find new things in your writing, new passions and energies that make it all worthwhile.
The result is often the best writing you’ve done so far.
How to Find Good Clients
1. Trade awesomeness everywhere. Be the cupcake.
2. Respect and research, reach out. Engage where you belong. Give, more than take.
3. Don’t be in their face, just be available.
So you’re raring to go, ready to fire away and land that next freelance SEO copywriting gig.
But are you really ready to get in there and pitch?
This freelancing tip is going to look at some simple do’s and don’ts of pitching your SEO copywriting. I am basing this on my own experiences, and those I have seen, especially of late.
Take cover if you must.
Don’t: Don’t close your eyes before you release
Closing your eyes is no way to accurately hit a target. In baseball, you wouldn’t simply close your eyes and throw everything you have as hard as you can in the general direction of the batter. You would choose a pitch – not try to throw all of them at once blindly in the general direction of the batter.
Don’t throw the kitchen sink of your experience into every conversation.
Do: Do Consider Which Pitch is Best for Each Situation
Is it a curve ball, a slider, or a fastball that will keep you in control? The main thing is selecting the best tool from your arsenal so you retain control of the momentum. Every pitch is not hurled at every situation. The game changes, and you adapt. You know your own strengths, you know their strengths, you know what is on the line. Selection is key.
Do know the contents of your toolbox. Select, tailor and offer only the best pitch for the specific situation.
Don’t: Don’t Start Pitching Too Soon
In baseball, it would not make any sense at all for the pitcher to start pitching before the batter is ready. Before the umpire is ready. Before the catcher is ready. Some very simple things come together to make it appropriate for the pitcher to take the mound.
Don’t jump into a pitch before you know all the players are in place.
Do: Do Understand the Marketplaces In Which You Wish to Trade
In baseball, a good pitcher is going to study a team before he faces them. He is going to understand the strengths and history of each batter, and know what to expect when facing the team. No one comes in front of him that he is not prepared to meet – and should it happen that he is surprised by someone new in the line-up, he is experienced enough to handle it strategically.
Do learn about the people you are pitching to. Know what they are about, figure out why they need you, and start throwing.
Don’t: Don’t Get Lost in Metaphors – There’s Work to Do
Hurling freelance SEO copywriting pitches is like baseball. It’s like your Aunt Edna’s bread recipe, it’s like penguins mating, it’s like spandex pants in the summer, it’s like cookie dough and it’s like Hollywood drug casualties.
Don’t spend too much time thinking about what SEO copwriting is. You will gain considerably more insight by simply doing it. The mistakes you make and the victories you earn are what this is all about. Experience makes more work.
It’s how you play the game, and win.
Before you connect, make sure your portfolio is ready. Slamming, in fact. The best it can be.
You must have some or all of the following: Email-ready samples of previous work, links or a company website.
You want to be taken seriously, so take yourself seriously. The very first thing a prospective client will ask is “Can I see some of your work?” Invest what you need to produce the best possible “quick glimpse” showcase of what you’ll be bringing to the table. Get them responding like Pavlov’s dogs about the idea of working with you.
A client wants to be able to visualize their goal through your talent. Most potential clients are busy people who will give you one chance to connect. It’s a little harsh, but once is all you get – to impress, to dazzle, to bring it home. You don’t ever get to explain why you failed- you simply get ignored or politely rejected.
This means you need to make a power-packed first impression.
It doesn’t mean cram everything you have ever done into a single PowerPoint slide, or email a 30-page attachment as a look at previous work.
Have something reasonable and appropriate to show your new contacts that you mean business. Show where (specifically) you have delivered to other businesses in the past. When you can include any data around the measured effect your writing had, it gets ’em every time.
Once you have a website in place or at least some email-ready samples, it’s time to find more work.
And that brings us solidly into the rest of our lives, people – balancing a decent portfolio with the right amount of cold calls and repeat visitors to stay fat-and-happy.