Welcome to THE WELL-FED E-PUB!

 

Serving up food for thought and tasty tips for the prospering FLCW*. Come on in, sit anywhere and bring your appetite!

 

*FLCW, peppered throughout the ezine, stands for "Freelance Commercial Writer" – anyone who freelances for businesses (vs. writing magazine articles, short stories, poetry, etc.), typically earns $50-125+ an hour, and is the sole focus of this e-newsletter. 

 

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VOLUME 10, ISSUE 4 – APRIL 2011

Publishing the first Tuesday of every month since May 2002 

Read it Online at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine/april2011.html

 

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MAY 2011 WELL-FED GROUP COACHING FILLING FAST!

Starts 05/04/11; Ready to get serious about building the business? Don’t miss out. Details (and testimonials) at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/groupcoaching.shtml.        

 

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COMING SOON! “THE WRITER/DESIGNER PARTNERSHIP GOLDMINE” (EBOOK)

Everything you need to know about partnering with designers to dramatically boost your income! Sneak preview: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/profitablebydesignebook.shtml.

 

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CHECK OUT “THE WELL-FED PARTNER PANTRY”! (GOT A PRODUCT TO SELL?)

Vetted info-products designed to help you make more money, be a better writer or enhance your writing life! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/wfpartnerpantry.shtml

 

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"THE WELL-FED WRITER" (2010 EDITION) HAS WON FOUR AWARDS!

Check out the Awards Gallery at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/wellfedawards.shtml

To Order (FR.EE Bonus/U.S. Shipping): http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ordertwfw.shtml.

 

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I NEED YOUR SHORT (100-200 words) SUCCESS STORIES for the E-PUB!

Landed a great client? Had a successful marketing campaign? Done something else that boosted your FLCW income? Talk to me! Send them to peter@wellfedwriter.com.  

 

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THIS MONTH'S MENU:

 

I. APPETIZER: ARE YOU TELLING YOUR AUDIENCE STORIES?

What We Can Learn About Storytelling from Trader Joe’s (+ Wanna Guest Blog?)

 

II. “FIELD” GREENS: Top SEO Companies Unlikely to Deliver Good Content!

SEO Pro: $20/Page Copywriters Often Behind Big SEO Firms’ Big Claims

 

III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: GOT RETAINERS?

CA FLCW Shows How To Get Clients to Give You a Check Every Month!

 

IV. DESSERT

TIP: CA FLCW (& Editing Book Author) Serves Up Tasty Editing Tips for FLCW’s!

 

V. COFFEE, MINTS AND TOOTHPICKS

- THE WELL-FED E-PUB NEEDS ALL COURSES!

- The WELL-FED WRITER BLOG is Rockin'! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog

- MISSED MY TELECLASS? Full 38-PAGE e-Transcript – Just $12!

- AWAI Copywriting (& Other) Courses: Register Here, Get 2 Bonuses (no charge!)

- How Can My Mentoring Service Serve You?

 

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I. APPETIZER: ARE YOU TELLING YOUR AUDIENCE STORIES?

What We Can Learn About Storytelling from Trader Joe’s (+ Wanna Guest Blog?)

 

Trader Joe’s, the specialty supermarket chain, finally came to Atlanta a few years back. Happy days. If you don’t have TJ’s where you live, wish hard. Great products (virtually all private labeled), no artificial ingredients, super-reasonable prices, and tons of specialty items (they’ve got “chocolate-covered-just-about- everything”), guaranteed to create blissful dilemmas. And of course, their famous (or infamous, if you’re a true wine snob) “Two-Buck Chuck” wine for $2.79 a bottle, and actually drinkable.

 

Plus, their marketing is brilliant. In addition to a fun, laid-back, offbeat, Hawaiian-shirted in-store vibe, they mail out this 24-page newsprint circular called “The Fearless Flyer.” These people KNOW how to tell a story. Each page features only 3-4 products, each with a juicy four- to five-paragraph description. I normally only buy a few things there, but after drooling my way through the FF, I knew I just HAD to have about 20. If you go to their site (http://www.traderjoes.com), and click on “Check out the Fearless Flyer” on their home page, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

 

I’m a big one for using storytelling in my writing. And yes, in my commercial writing projects. Sure, it makes sense for a specialty food retailer to do so, but why should they be the only ones to have some fun? I did a blog post on this very subject in case you missed it (http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog/be-a-good-storyteller-be-a-better-copywriter). You truly WILL be a better writer if you can add stories to your writing.

 

Speaking of the blog, I just put out a call on the blog for guest bloggers, and the response has been excellent: about eight guest posts in the works! PLUS a really juicy one going on as you read this, from freelancing guru Jennifer Mattern, entitled “Carve a Niche and Build Your Own Demand Through ‘Query-Free Freelancing.’” Check it out at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog (or in the March 2011 archives at the same link). 

 

Interested in being a guest blogger? We’d love to have your story! Check out the guidelines at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/guestblogger.shtml. Let’s eat!

 

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II. “FIELD” GREENS: Top SEO Companies Unlikely to Deliver Good Content

SEO Pro Says $20/Page Copywriters Often Behind Big SEO Firms’ Big Claims

 

I periodically run an “Easy Web Tip” from CA-based web optimization/SEO pro Katherine Andes (visit http://www.andesandassociates.com to get her tips regularly). Her stuff is always quick and useful. I learn something every time, and it’s the kind of info that can make you look really smart in front of a client. In this tip, she reveals the truth that’s often behind the claims made by some pretty big SEO firms. Good to know!

 

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A well-established copywriting colleague of mine was approached by one of the top SEO companies in the nation to write web pages for their clients. Now, web pages need to:

 

1) Grab attention

2) Understand the reader's desire or pain

3) Present a concept or solution

4) Move the reader to a next action

5) Be professionally written in a non-stuffy manner

6) Incorporate keywords in a natural manner

7) Incorporate keywords in a NATURAL manner SEVERAL times (very difficult)

8) Have a title tag artfully crafted to get rankings and attention

9) Have a description tag artfully crafted to get click-throughs 

 

My friend, envisioning steady work with quality products, was excited – until she was told that the top rate they’d pay per page was $20! No writer worth the price of her keyboard would work such a pittance.
Internet companies try to commoditize and systematize everything. That may be okay for some aspects, but it's certainly not acceptable for the words that will go on your website.Never underestimate the power of words.

 

So you, as a business owner (or a copywriter working with a business owner), should pause when an SEO company says, "We'll handle it all including the copywriting."
Do you really want to entrust the marketing of your business to a low-level copywriter? What kind of content do you think you'll get? I'll tell you. It'll be the same blah, blah, blah that every other website is putting up.

 

To get words that truly "connect" with your visitor takes hard work. It takes deep research, thinking, writing, and rewriting to bring out what's unique about a business and why customers should shop there and not the guy a click away.
So, beware the SEO company handling the content of your (or your client’s) web pages. You might get stuck with a bottom-feeder copywriter!

 

PB Notes: Just got this update from Katherine that confirms her assertion: “I just got an inquiry about rewriting a boatload of article content that had obviously been developed by low-level writers. I’ll be curious to see if they balk at my rates.”

 

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III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: GOT RETAINERS?

CA FLCW Shows How To Get Clients to Give You a Check Every Month!

 

Got this great piece on the ins and outs (and fabulous potential) of retainers from Visalia, CA FLCW Tim Lewis (tim@tlcopy.com, http://www.tlcopy.com). Retainers – essentially a guaranteed monthly income from a client – can be mighty beautiful things. Tim’s had great success with this strategy and generously shares his experiences. Enjoy!

 

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Freelancing is more than just “per project” work. There’s a way to enjoy our fabulous lifestyle without worrying where your next check will come from. Setting up retainer-based agreements with clients is a great way to ensure consistent income.

 

This is exactly what I did a few years ago when I decided to say goodbye to the corporate world. Instead of hurling myself into the freelancing abyss without a safety net, I approached my boss with a unique proposition: I would resign my position as a hospital marketing director, but stay on as a consultant to help groom my replacement (my assistant). This way, she could learn the ropes and I could have the time I needed to build my business.

 

It was a win-win for both parties. We agreed on a three-month contract that paid me roughly the same amount I was making full-time. I had plenty of time to build a healthy business base while spending a few hours each week training my replacement and writing all of the communications pieces for the hospital. Plus, I could still pay all of my bills! The arrangement worked so well, I decided to approach some of my recurring clients with a similar proposal.

 

The response was tremendous. Because of the economy, many of my prospects (large hospitals) had laid off much of their marketing and communications staff. Since the work still needed to be done, they jumped at the chance to bring in an experienced hospital marketer/communications writer to help them get through this economic downturn.

 

As things start to pick up, many of my clients are realizing that my services fill all of their marketing needs, and at a fraction of the costs associated with bringing someone in full-time. Though I still do some one-off project work, my most productive partnerships are retainer-based consultant gigs.

 

How to get a client to agree to a retainer? Here’s how I approach it:

 

1) Every long-term relationship starts with a single project. Once you land it, knock it out of the park. Exceed your client’s expectations.

2) Once you’ve floored them with your talents and professionalism, follow up with a phone call. If they’re local, take them out to lunch. Ask if they have an ongoing need for writers. If so, pitch yourself as the solution.

3) If they are interested, determine their needs and their budget. From that info, craft a proposal detailing the services you’ll provide (e.g., blogging, web management, e-newsletters, etc.), the hours you can dedicate to them, and your monthly rate.

I usually knock 25 percent off my normal hourly rate in return for the guaranteed, prepaid block of time, and make sure I let the client know it. That way they know they are getting a solid deal. I would never lower my rates for a one off project (something I learned from PB, I believe), but for a retainer I have no problems doing so.

 

Remember, this proposal doesn’t need to be some extensive legal document. One or two pages will suffice. If it’s a large company, they’ll most likely have you sign a legally binding vendor agreement. Read it carefully.

Make sure to include some language in your proposal stating what will happen if you exceed—or don’t reach—the amount of hours you’ve agreed upon. When the client has a light workload one month, I still ask to be paid in full (that’s the beauty of a retainer).

 

On the flip side, during busier months, I reserve the right to charge my hourly rate for excessive overages. Now, I have strong relationships with my retainer clients. As such, I will often not charge for a few extra hours here and there. However, when there’s an unusually heavy workload, I will let my client know that I’m approaching the cut-off and there might be some extra fees involved. That way, they can plan accordingly and either give me the go ahead to move forward or hold off.

 

Also, revisions to your proposal should be expected while negotiating the agreement. Be prepared to be somewhat flexible with your rates and the hours you commit to. You may also want to start with a one-month contract to see how the partnership works, then make changes to the agreement down the road.

 

If negotiations aren’t as smooth as you’d like, just stay patient. Remember that this is a mutually beneficial situation––you’re guaranteed consistent income for an extended period of time and they’ll have dependable access to an expert in their industry.

 

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IV. DESSERT

TIP: CA FLCW (& Editing Book Author) Serves Up Tasty Editing Tips for FLCW’s!

 

Got this great set of editing tips for commercial freelancers from Watsonville, CA FLCW and editor Tom Bentley (http://www.tombentley.com). As I found out recently, obvious errors can slip past anyone – even if you THINK you’ve checked your copy multiple times. These are great tips that go beyond the usual advice. Read ‘n heed. Tom is the author of the exceptionally useful e-guide on editing, “The Write Word Easy Editing and Spiffy Style Guide,which just went into The Well-Fed Partner Pantry. Check it out at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/wfpartnerpantry.shtml.   

 

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EDITING EDIFICATIONS

 

If you're a one-person writing crew, you're going to need to put on your editor's cap before you submit your copy to your clients. Sizzling sales copy will have its flame doused by a single typo—beady-eyed vigilance is the price of client contentment. So here are a few editing tips to keep that copy clean:

 

TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE: Speed is fine with fast food, but not with first-rate writing. Settle in, read slowly; perhaps once for typos, and again for sense and logic. Slow initial editing makes for savory final reading.

 

PRINT IS YOUR PAL: Onscreen proofing is okay for quick fixes, but if you really want to see the copy (and the errors) in their sharpest resolution, print it out.

 

SAY IT LOUD AND PROUD: Oddly, reading writing aloud will often reveal holes in its composition, whether in rhythm, grammar or other tools of its construction. Speak it, and you'll know its truths and its terrors.

 

DON'T GUT IT, GUIDE IT: Editing someone else's writing? Expunge the errors, but don't tamper with the tone. Yours should be the invisible editor's hand, not its hatchet.

 

DON'T BE SPELLBOUND BY A SPELLCHECKER: Software grammar and spellchecker tools are often clueless about truly creative writing, offering corrections where none is needed. And they don't flag homophones, e.g., "to," "too" and "two," nor see a "you" when a "your" is needed. Don't trust 'em.

 

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V. COFFEE, MINTS AND TOOTHPICKS

- THE WELL-FED E-PUB NEEDS ALL COURSES!

- The WELL-FED WRITER BLOG is Rockin'! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog

- MISSED MY TELECLASS? Full 38-PAGE e-Transcript – Just $12!

- AWAI Copywriting (& Other) Courses: Register Here, Get 2 Bonuses (no charge!)

- How Can My Mentoring Service Serve You?

 

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I'M SERIOUSLY LOW ON ALL WELL-FED E-PUB COURSES!

Got a great strategy, approach or specific expertise you're willing to share? Turn it into a Feature (MAIN COURSE) for the EPUB (500-600 words; query first). ALSO, send your "GREENS" (200-300 words), TIPS (150-200) and SUCCESS STORIES (100-300) to peter@wellfedwriter.com. Archived issues at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine.shtml. 

 

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The WELL-FED WRITER BLOG is Rockin'! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog

 

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MISSED MY TELECLASS? "Thriving as a Freelance Commercial Writer"

 38-PAGE e-Transcript! $12: www.wellfedwriter.com/jan07tstranscript.shtml.

 

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AWAI COPYWRITING (& OTHER) COURSES: Register Here, Get Your Choice of Bonus CD Program! Six-Figure Copywriting, Graphic Design, Internet Writing, Fundraising, Health Market and more! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/awai.shtml.

 

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HOW CAN MY MENTORING SERVICE SERVE YOU?

For details and testimonials, visit http://www.wellfedwriter.com/mentoring.shtml.

 

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