Welcome to THE WELL-FED E-PUB!

 

The companion monthly ezine to the quadruple-award-winning how-to guide, “The Well-Fed Writer” (http://www.wellfedwriter.com). 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 12, ISSUE 2 – FEBRUARY 2013

Publishing the first Tuesday of every month since May 2002 

Read it online at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine/feb2013.html

 

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WANT TO ACCOMPLISH 30% MORE EVERY DAY? Check out “Effortless Productivity: How to Accomplish 30% More Every Day, Naturally and With Less Stress.” Registration closes TODAY (2/5)! Details at: http://www.webmarketingmagic.com/app/?Clk=4958833

 

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PARTNER WITH DESIGNERS FOR A LOW-EFFORT FLOW OF WRITING JOBS!

Details here: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/partnerwithdesignersebook.shtml.

 

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NEW 1-ON-1 COACHING PROGRAMS: SAMPLE/SITE REVIEW & “SIDECAR”!

Low-cost peace of mind and guidance: http://wellfedwriter.com/mentoring.shtml.

 

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Check out The WELL-FED WRITER BLOG! Weigh in on “Where Do You Draw Your ‘Line in the Sand’ with Copywriting Clients”; “Why Estimating Copywriting Projects is Like Learning to Play Tennis”; “5 Reasons You Aren’t Where You Want to Be as a Commercial Freelancer”; and more! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog.

 

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THIS MONTH’S MENU:

 

I. APPETIZER: IS BUSINESS PICKING UP? (LIKE IT IS FOR THESE FOLKS…)

Yours Truly Hearing More and More Good-News, Staying-Busy Stories from FLCW’s!

 

II. “FIELD” GREENS: GET MORE DONE WITH “PRODUCTIVITY BLITZES”

Atlanta FLCW/Freelancing Guru Shows How to Make Most of Small Pockets of Time!

 

III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: ARE YOU FLEXIBLE IN YOUR PRICING?

CA FLCW Takes “Give-a-Little-to-Get-a-Lot” Attitude with Clients and Wins!

 

IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

Winnipeg FLCW Barters Writing for Promo, Leading to Lucrative Stream of Jobs! 

TIP: Aussie FLCW Recommends High-Rated CRM Software for Mac Users

 

V. COFFEE, MINTS AND TOOTHPICKS

- MORE WORK WITH LESS EFFORT? New Ebook Serves Up the “How-To”!  

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

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

- AWAI Copywriting (& Other) Courses: Register Here, Get Bonus CD!

- How Can My Mentoring Service Serve You?

 

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I. APPETIZER: BUSINESS PICKING UP? (LIKE IT IS FOR THESE FOLKS…)

Yours Truly Hearing More and More Good-News, Staying-Busy Stories from FLCW’s!

 

In the course of chatting with dozens of you in the past few weeks (in the wake of my call for ezine submissions), I kept hearing—unsolicited—about how good business was. One wrote, “Much to my amusement at how projects poured in this year, I'm working on five projects at the moment with a sixth starting later this month. Most have to be done by the first week of February.”

 

Another observed, “So, business is better than it’s been in years. And I strongly believe that 2013 will be even better (though 2012 was nothing to sneeze at).”

 

I’ve seen the same thing in my own business. After making a few hundred calls last fall to stir things up, I’m about as busy as I want to be right now, but with plenty of promising activity on the horizon as well. And I’m also seeing little resistance to my rates, something another FLCW echoed, “Yes, I'm very busy, but I was busy all year last year. One good thing, though, this year my clients are higher-paying.”

 

In my calling campaign last fall, I canvassed (among others) a bunch of graphic designers, and many of them were cranking as well. Which made them even better prospects, of course. Most of them saw things trending up and were bullish about 2013.

 

One FLCW email made me smile. An experienced writer who’d hit a slow patch had booked an hour of one-on-one coaching (http://wellfedwriter.com/mentoring.shtml) to discuss how best to build her business. A few days before our scheduled session, she wrote to say, “Since I reached out to you, about six long-term contracts have come in. I now have the very good problem of having more work than I can handle. So spending time on how to build my business seems like a poor use of time at this point.”

 

Indeed. ;) From where I sit, there’s always been plenty of work out there, if you knew how/where to look—even during some pretty dark days. But, the sun seems to be shining even brighter of late. On that happy note, let’s eat! 

 

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II. “FIELD” GREENS: GET MORE DONE WITH “PRODUCTIVITY BLITZES”

Atlanta FLCW/Freelancing Guru Shows How to Make Most of Small Pockets of Time!

 

Got the great little piece below from friend, colleague and fellow Atlanta FLCW Ed Gandia (co-author of “The Wealthy Freelancer, and founder of International Freelancers Academy; http://www.internationalfreelancersacademy.com). We all end up with these little time “remnants” and here’s a great way to keep from squandering them. Enjoy.

 

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Ever find yourself with small pockets of time that seem “unusable”? For instance, you have 30 minutes before your next appointment, which doesn’t give you enough time to dive into that article you’ve been working on.

 

Next time this happens, resist the temptation to waste away those precious minutes on Facebook. Instead, do a “productivity blitz.” Here’s how it works:

 

1) Pick a task from your to-do list that would normally take you a little longer to complete than the time you have available. Say you have one hour available but have about 90 minutes’ worth of unanswered emails. Or you have 30 minutes to draft an outline that would normally require 45 minutes.

 

2) Log out of all social media websites. Turn your phone ringer off. Close your office door. And close your email program (unless your chosen task is to reply to email).

 

3) Set a timer for the time you have available. Here’s the online timer I use: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/eggtimer-countdown/full-screen/. (For 30 minutes, just click 3,0,0,0, then Set).

 

4) Get laser focused. Try to complete your task before the timer goes off. Don’t let anything distract you from your goal.

 

5) Don’t strive for perfection. If your task is part of a writing assignment, think of it as the first iteration. If it’s email, keep your replies short.

 

6) When the timer goes off, wrap up your work and walk away from your desk. Resist the temptation to keep going.

 

If you follow this system exactly, you’ll find that 80% of the time you will have completed your task fully. And when you don’t finish the task, you will have made MUCH more progress than you thought possible under these time constraints.

 

Try it today. You’ll be shocked by the power of this simple technique.

 

PB Note: I sent out an email last week on Ed's upcoming teleseminar series titled “Effortless Productivity: How to Accomplish 30% More Every Day, Naturally and With Less Stress.” Registration for the program closes TODAY (2/5), so don’t miss out. Check it out at: http://www.webmarketingmagic.com/app/?Clk=4958833

 

Remember, this is the guy who built up his commercial writing practice to a $3-4K/month level, part-time, WHILE working a full-time, 50-hour-a-week job selling software, AND being a husband and Dad to a toddler. And he stays mind-bogglingly productive to this day. The man has learned a thing or two about being efficient with his time. And he’s put it all together in a budget-friendly, 3-part teleclass series that’s worth a look.

 

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III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: ARE YOU FLEXIBLE IN YOUR PRICING?

CA FLCW Takes “Give-a-Little-to-Get-a-Lot” Attitude with Clients and Wins!

 

Got this cool feature about the power of flexible pricing from Watsonville, CA FLCW Tom Bentley (http://www.tombentley.com/; while there, download Tom’s great ebook, “Easy Editing and Spiffy Style Guide” at no charge). And also check out a recent post of Tom’s in a related vein: how being human with your business audience can connect you much closer to them: http://www.firepolemarketing.com/2013/01/24/flesh-and-blood/.

 

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FREELANCER GIVING OFTEN RESULTS IN FREELANCER GETTING

Even if you have fixed prices for your services, there can be a lot of “bumper-car bargaining” between you and your clients. A project might be poorly defined at the outset, a client may ask for radical, unexpected changes, you might have been given two gallons of irresistibly good tequila while on deadline—circumstances can change the face of your pricing, but there are some considerations that can keep that face smiling.

 

Recently, an established client of mine asked me to "take it easy" on him when billing for a multipart copywriting series that detailed the mission, workings, audience and partnerships of a charity he's working with. Two things occurred to me: 1) I was being asked to be kind, which cut me off a bit from my own human inclination to offer a good price; and 2) Reducing your prices can create a downward momentum of its own, where there might be similar requests to come, and from different clients too.

 

LOOK FOR OPENINGS THAT PROVIDE AIR FOR EVERYBODY

However, since I’d planned to raise my rates slightly this coming year, it gave me an opening to tell him that (I’m trying to work on a project-bid basis these days, but many clients still want to know an hourly.). As such, I gave him a small discount, as well as not charging for him for some incidental, 15-minute revisions I made on the piece. I also reminded him, since he's an overseas client that pays by PayPal, that I actually owed him some money because he'd overpaid the last invoice to take care of PayPal charges.

 

It was a win-win: He got a marginal discount, felt good about not having to pay upcoming PayPal charges, and felt I’d responded fully to his request. I got to feel good about the discount, and even better about letting him know I'd be raising rates soon.

 

Before I knew much about my most recent client (landed through LinkedIn, underscoring the power of networking), she asked me to do a trial-editing project for her, to be considered for projects to come. I'm often chary of doing work on spec, particularly when this project, though small, looked as if it could be used for her business. But in checking out her profile and site, she seemed legit, so I completed the assignment.

 

However, after praising the work, she wanted additional edits. I balked at doing that on spec as well, but in a phone conversation about her upcoming projects, she offered to pay my raised 2013 rate to do a couple assignments. In the midst of working on those, to sweeten the sense that I was a good vendor, I'd offered to greatly reduce any charges for meeting times. So, the full-rate projects were well received, but she told me she couldn't handle my base fees for many upcoming projects.

 

STEPPING BACK ON ONE OFFER TO STEP FORWARD ON ANOTHER

I mulled that, and offered to reduce my rate (which was my new, barely instituted higher rate) a chunk, but told her that I'd have to go back to charging the full rate for my attending the client meetings. But I softened that by saying I wouldn't charge anything for meetings that were incidental/check-in/brief discussions that last 15-20 minutes or so, and by throwing in the last meeting I'd taken, 45 minutes, for free.

 

Again, I was giving up a bit, but gaining in return, and mollifying a client who promises to give me some interesting work. Please note, I'm not talking about scheming and manipulating here to gain an advantage—I'm talking about looking out for your interests as well as your client's. I think it pays (in several ways) to have flexibility in your fee structure, and recognize that the scratching of backs can be a mutual pleasure.

 

A CAVEAT TO CONSIDER

You might be thinking, "Ahh, the guy gives ground on every negotiation—he'll never be able to set—or raise—his rates." My point here is not to be soft on rate negotiation, but to be conscious of meeting people where they are. After you've worked with them and demonstrated your capabilities, they’ll be far less resistant to your regular rates. Taking a hard line on rates right off can cut you out of good opportunities. Of course, all situations are individual; after a while, you'll intuit when to flex and when to stand strong.

 

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IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

Winnipeg FLCW Barters Writing for Promo, Leading to Lucrative Stream of Jobs! 

TIP: Aussie FLCW Recommends High-Rated CRM Software for Mac Users

 

Great success story (in the same “give-a-little-to-get-a-lot” vein as our Main Course) from Winnipeg, Canada FLCW Susan Portelance (http://www.prairiescribe.com). Also check out Susan’s blog at http://whattheydonttellyouaboutmanagingpeople.com/. And after that, from Western Australia FLCW Mark Schneider (http://www.westernwriter.net) a great lead to reasonably priced CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software for Mac users (a rare find!).

 

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In my first year of freelancing I received an email from someone at our local women’s business group. She was launching a magazine called “Women’s Business Owners Today” and selling the article space to female entrepreneurs. Each would have a full page to discuss her business or provide tips related to her expertise.

 

Instead of saying yes to paying $800 for a page, I asked the magazine publisher if she needed any writers. Yes, she did. She couldn’t pay anything but asked if I would take a barter deal—a free page to advertise my business in exchange for writing some of the other articles. I would have preferred a gig that paid outright, but I said yes.

 

I wrote an article on good business communications and waited for the calls to roll in. Nothing happened for six months. Then I got a call from someone at a large lottery company who needed an editor for a 300-page proposal—a nice-paying job.

 

A few months later, one of the women I had helped on the magazine asked me to edit a short book for a client of hers. Finally, another entrepreneur who runs a communications training business recruited me. In the spring I will teach a course for her on effective written communications through one of our local universities. More course work should also be coming through this contract.

 

I wasn’t even sure I wanted the barter gig and it took a while to bear fruit, but one 400-word article has netted me some lucrative business over the past 18 months.

 

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Finding a CRM program for the Mac isn’t as easy as it is for Windows, but FLCW’s can save themselves a lot of time and trouble by buying Bento.

 

I find it has everything I need and is extremely intuitive. It organizes contacts easily, tracks projects, plans events, prints labels and more. The video instructions are very helpful, too. Making sub-categories of contacts from your main database is a simple drag and drop exercise—very useful for targeted mail-outs.

 

Bento’s biggest failing is that you can’t do a mail merge directly with MS Word, though for Excel users that’s not a problem—you simply export the database to Excel and mail merge with that. Easy.

 

It’s US$49 ($10/$5 for the iPad/iPhone versions), and having had a frustrating time with a competitive program, Elements CRM 3.0—twice the price and a lot less than half as good—I can’t recommend Bento enough.

 

Check it out (and get a free trial) at http://www.filemaker.com/products/bento.  

 

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V. COFFEE, MINTS AND TOOTHPICKS

- MORE WORK WITH LESS EFFORT? New Ebook Serves Up the “How-To”!  

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

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

- AWAI Copywriting (& Other) Courses: Register Here, Get Bonus CD!

- How Can My Mentoring Service Serve You?

 

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MORE WORK WITH LESS EFFORT? New Ebook Serves Up the “How-To”!

That’s not hype. It’s how my business has worked for the better part of 18 years, thanks to some juicy partnerships with graphic designers. The result? 1-2 jobs virtually every month with little or no effort on my part. And I put all the how-to details down on paper. Check it out at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/partnerwithdesignersebook.shtml.

 

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

 

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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 MULTIPLE MENTORING PROGRAMS SERVE YOU?

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

 

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