Monthly Archives: June 2015

How to Pitch Websites for Freelance Writing Work

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It pays to research your clients.

When you mention that you work as a freelance writer people will either think that you’re joking or they’ll be extremely jealous, thinking it’s all pajama parties, sunshine, and freedom.

Well, I have to admit that we do have pajama parties every once in awhile, but by far not as often as I would like, it’s a shame. The reality is that working as a freelance writer has a lot of upsides but it also has some downsides, and freelance writers are faced with a lot of problems as well.

You Don’t Have To Fight for Content Farm Work

One the most common problems that we have to deal with is finding clients. In fact, it is the number one problem for freelance writers. Even though I have 5 years of experience as a writer, I think the first 3 years don’t count, because I spent those 3 years gobbling up tasks on content farms and fighting over scraps from over-picky clients that are only willing to pay slave wages.

I would aggressively bid on job boards, I even took to Craigslist at one point, it was a frustrating time, when I did find a client, it was like hitting the jackpot, even if he couldn’t pay more than $1 for 100 words.

I remember when I used to wait for new tasks to pop up on content farms, like The Content Authority, and eagerly snatch up whatever task presents itself before another writer gets to it first. I would sit there refreshing the page every few minutes waiting for some work to show up.

I made some cash, but it was no-where near what I make at the moment. Anyways, I didn’t realize that writers should charge their own rates, and I had no idea how to find clients, but with the help of some websites, like Make a Living Writing and Writers in Charge, I discovered that it was not as difficult as I made it out to be.

Every Writer Has Their Own Ideal Niche:

Everyone has their own unique writing tone and areas of expertise. Clients don’t fall from the sky and nobody can show you where to find them, because nobody knows your strengths and weaknesses, except for you. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to sniff out a niche that aligns with your interests and skills.

Recently I discovered a small little niche where my skills align with my interests and there happens to be a lot of people in need of articles as well. The clients I found in this niche don’t pay thousands of dollars for an article, but I like writing about the topics, it’s easy for me, and I can write fast; so I don’t need to charge so much. I’m comfortable with the rates.

How to Construct a Powerful Pitch For a Website:

Anyways, I can show you how I found these clients, it didn’t involve much work, all you have to do is find their website, and send them a pitch.

It’s really simple, actually, I sent out 5 emails yesterday, two hired me within 24 hours, one didn’t reply, and the other is interested. That’s not a bad conversion rate. Here’s a tip: It’s a really simple but powerful tip that can make it remarkably easy to find excellent clients and make you rich.

Solve. Their. Problems.

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There are a few major problems that people who work online have to deal with on a regular basis. The main problem is traffic. Without traffic, a website will be useless (unless you want to use it as a diary).

If you want to make a website that will make money then you need traffic. It’s as simple as that. There are a bunch of different ways to generate traffic for a website but one of the best ways is to publish a lot of keyword targeted articles. Google finds the articles, ranks them, traffic comes in, sales are made, and money flows into your bank account.

Obviously, it takes awhile for Google to find articles, but if you make a habit of publishing at least on well written, keyword targeted, 1,000 + word article a week, then it will just be a matter of time before the traffic builds up. Most website owners know that they need content, but they don’t have the time or skills to write the articles, and that’s where freelance writers come into the picture.

How to Spot Problems to Solve on a Website:

So, if you land on a website, and you notice that the articles don’t have a lot of comments, (and there are huge intervals of time between published articles) there’s a chance that the owner of the website is in need of a freelance writer to revive the business. Or he just doesn’t want to work on the website anymore.

When you find a website in a niche that is related to your expertise, it’s time to examine the website, and find out how you can improve the website. This means reading at least five of their articles, the about page, and any other information you come across. You can also check out their social media profiles. You want to create a profile about this person, find out what he wants to achieve (they’ll write this write on the website somewhere) and get to know them. Ideally, leave some comments, too.

Don’t stalk them, we don’t need their physical address, but I do know someone who prints out pitches and mails them to different companies, that’s one way to really stand out from the crowd. I have not tested direct mail pitches yet so I can’t comment on how that works. Basically, find the owners name, find out how often he publishes posts, what type of posts he publishes, and then look for the purpose of the website.

If he doesn’t publish articles as often as he should, then that can be one angle that you can use to pitch him for work.

Constructing The Pitch:

This part is important, remember that information I told you to find? Here’s where it all needs to be put to use. Most websites have a contact page with either an email address or a contact form, either one will do.

The first part of the message is vital, it’s the subject of the message, and it’s very important because it’s the first thing that the receiver will see in his inbox. Like a header on a sales page, this needs to catch attention, otherwise it will be sent to the trash bin.

The-importance-of-a-headline-for-content-marketing

I know a lot of people who manage email accounts for different companies and they have all told me that they delete message just from looking at the subject line, they don’t even bother to read the whole message. In other words, there’s one chance to get them to read the message.

I tried a few different templates, and one tip that has helped improve response rate was to include the name of the person in the subject line. Get to the point. If you have an idea for a review, or noticed that the website publishes reviews but not as often as it should, here’s a subject line that you can use:

(NAME), I Can Write Killer Reviews for You

Or if you want to write about a country or vacation destination…

(NAME), Do You Need an Article About (DESTINATION)?

You get the point. There are a million different ways to configure these subject lines, I am sure that you can use your creative skills to come up with some decent ones. Just remember that it is important to make the subject stand out, and ideally it should address the owner by name. Everyone is attracted to their own name. Use it.

The Body of The Pitch:

Then comes the rest of the message, I like to structure my messages in a specific way:

  1. Compliment about the website.
  2. Mention the areas of their website that could use improvement.
  3. Follow up with your solutions.
  4. Add your experience, rates, and link to your best online article.
  5. Ask a question and let them know you are available.

The compliment should be sincere and specific, it is easy to make a sincere and heartfelt compliment if you read through the website and try to find the main purpose of the website.

What need is the website attempting to fill?

Here’s an example:

I really like the design and content of your website. It’s great to see someone legitimately trying to help other people build a online business, it’s very admirable.

Yes, the website was about making money online. I usually use the above message as a template but tweak it for different websites, it tends to work. I am sure that you come up with better ones, I’m just here to point you in the right direction.

The next part of the pitch is where you mention the flaws in the website that could use improvement. There could be a whole number of flaws: outdated articles, certain topics not being discussed, typos on the homepage, typos in the articles, broken links, poorly written content, etc.

Here’s an example:

But I did notice that you only publish about one article a month, if you don’t have time to publish articles, maybe I can help out…

I noticed the published time stamp on the articles of this website, and they were all at least a month apart, so I used that angle to approach the problem. Ideally, be as specific as possible, e.g. “I noticed that last article you published was in April 2015…” or something along those lines.

We all hate spam and generic mass-sent posts, make it personal, show the reader that you wrote the message by hand and you did look at their website beforehand. It means a lot to them and really helps to improve the chances of you getting some more work.

The next part is where you mention your skills and the proposed solution to the problem. This is where you show them what you can do for them. It’s about helping their business. Make it clear that you want to help their business.

Here’s an example:

I specialize in writing internet marketing products reviews and busting scams wide open. These reviews will reveal the truth about various products and point
the readers in the right direction when it comes to online business.

Not very detailed, it could use some more flavor, but it should give you an idea. Your skills are different from mine, don’t be afraid to talk about your skills, but keep it short, nobody wants to read a massive pitch. Every section of the pitch should be short and to the point.

Next, mention your rates, and experience. I don’t need to show an example because this can be done in a few seconds. If you have a really specific article idea in mind, this is where you will mention the price.

Then finish the article with a question, like “What would you like me to write about?” or any random question related to work that pops into your head. This puts a bit of pressure on them to reply and it also help move things a long towards a contract. You want to make everything as smooth as possible.

Great, You Know How to Write a Powerful Pitch!

You now know how to construct a powerful pitch from examining a website!

Here are some final thoughts:

Don’t be in a rush, don’t copy and paste the same pitch to a bunch of people, it doesn’t work. Make it personal. Make it powerful. It’s really not difficult, all it takes is a little bit of effort. I don’t know about you, but I would rather spend an hour constructing a pitch that lands a full-time client, then a thousands pitches that don’t land any clients.

Think of these pitches as investments, each one is a little investment, and a chance to find an awesome client, who knows who will be on the other end – he could be a millionaire – but you will never know until you send that pitch.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

I would love to hear what you think about this article, leave a comment and let me know!

Nobody is Replying to Your Job Applications on Upwork and Here’s Why…

Isn’t it frustrating?

You get all excited to be a member of a thriving freelance marketplace, ready to take on new jobs, satisfy clients, and rake in a bunch of cash. You are thrilled. You can’t wait for your profile to be approved so you can start applying for jobs and building a reputation.

As a copywriter, I’m always on the look-out for a fresh sources of clients. We need clients to survive. Even though I have a lot of return customers, the business is usually not enough to keep me afloat, and I always need to look for more work.

That’s the downside to working as a freelance copywriter. I’ll use a wide variety of marketing techniques to sniff out people who are in need of engaging content.

My search for clients has taken me to the far corners of the internet, and during my travels, I have learned a few important key tips that have made it much easier for me to lock down great clients.

Recently, a few weeks ago, I created an account on Upwork, and as one might expect, started sending applications like crazy to every job post that I came across. Naturally, I didn’t get hired, until I made a few changes. We will talk about those changes in this article. You don’t have to make the same mistakes.

What Happened When I Tried to Use Shortcuts…

Like most people, shortcuts appeal to me. Shortcuts appeal to everyone, everyone wants fast results and fast cash. It’s human nature to not want to work hard. So I figured that I could use some sneaky shortcuts to get hired on Upwork and rake in cash. Yes, that’s right, even I screw up sometimes. It was a big mistake. Here’s what I did…

I wrote up a simple – general – cover letter on a Word Document. The cover letter included my skills, my rates, my samples, and anything else that I thought was relevant. It was all there on one page; it looked good to me.

I figured nobody would be able to refuse. Then it was time to copy and paste that application to any offer that was vaguely relevant to my skill set. Ctrl C + Ctr V. Ctrl C + Ctr V. Ctrl C + Ctr V…. and on and on it went, until I ran out of Tokens.

Tokens are like points and each member on Upwork has a certain amount to spend, renewed every month. It costs tokens to apply to jobs; usually two – but sometimes more.

So I sent out about 30 applications. Great, now it’s time to wait – it won’t be long before someone comes to their senses and hires me. I sat back in my chair, took a sip of coffee, and gave myself a pat on the back.

You sent a lot of applications and soon you will have a big fat bank account. Yes. Tomorrow they’ll respond. You just take it easy until then. 

Tomorrow arrived. No responses.

The next day, still no responses.

The next next day, still no responses.

Two weeks later still no replies. Oh well, maybe Upwork is not that useful after all, back to my old marketing ways…

Then a Light Bulb Flashed in My Brain…

Maybe the reason nobody cares about my application is because I barely checked their job requirements, and sent them a general application letter. 

They don’t want to see a list of qualifications that don’t apply to their needs. They want someone who knows how to complete the task and doesn’t screw around. Uh-oh, have I been doing the complete opposite of what I should be doing? 

Yes. I was. I was doing the complete opposite of anyone who wants to find good clients should do. It was all about me. It needs to be about them. They want to know how you can help them with their problem.

They need to see that you know what you’re talking about. They need to see you in action. It needs to be all about them.

The Power of Listening to a Person

Dating and marketing have a lot in common. Imagine that you are talking about a personal interest of yours, a hobby, or dream, and you go on and on, all fired up, and then you realize that the other person was playing with his phone the entire time. He was totally not listening to you the entire time. Just nodding and making random “agreement” sounds.

Everyone felt that feeling  a few times in their lives. I have experienced those situations more often than I like to admit. It’s not that I’m such a boring person – well maybe a little – but a lot of times people just don’t want to listen.

They’re easily distracted. It’s not your fault.

They never learned to pay attention. Unfortunately, it makes you feel worthless and ignored. Like your opinion doesn’t matter at all. You get angry and vow to never open up to that person again. It’s one of the most annoying feelings in the world!

But then there’s the other person. The person that sits down with you, holds eye contact, and focuses all of his attention on you.

He listens to you and asks questions, makes comments, and puts effort into keeping the conversation alive, because he genuinely wants to know more about what you’re talking about. That makes you feel wonderful.

You finally found someone who loves to listen to you. It’s a pleasurable experience. You vow to talk to him whenever possible. A friendship is born.

Can you guess which person you should be when it comes to finding clients on Upwork? I acted like the first person. I didn’t listen to their job description. I didn’t pay attention. I didn’t make progress. You need to be like the second person.

What You Need to Do…

You need to thoroughly read the job description. What does the client need? How can you deliver what he needs?

Do you have the skills and knowledge to help take his business to the next level? Create a strategy for the client right there on the spot. It doesn’t matter if it takes a long time. I spend about an hour on each application I send. The result? Lots of jobs. Lot’s of money for me to spend.

So if nobody is replying to your application letters on Upwork, it’s probably because you are not actually trying to solve their problems.

Put effort into it.

Yes, it is time consuming but the results are well worth the trouble. Forget about the money and focus on solving problems.

Start with low rates and build up a portfolio. Even do it for free. Over-deliver whenever possible. The ball will start to roll and soon you will have plenty of income and return clients.

So we are done for today. Remember what you learned here. The client does not care about your experience and skills unless they are relevant. The client knows what he wants and is looking for someone who can fill those needs.

The key is in the job descriptions. Read the job descriptions. Write a application letter that focuses on how you can solve the clients problems; show how you will do it.

I guarantee if you follow these tips you will be hired a lot more often on Upwork.

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