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 11, ISSUE 6 – JUNE 2012

Publishing the first Tuesday of every month since May 2002 

Read it Online at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine/june2012.html

 

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ATTENTION, ATLANTA: LIVE PUBLISHING WORKSHOP ON JUNE 23!

Details: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/seminars.shtml.  

 

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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 “Commercial Writing Clients with Money vs. Ones Without: Like Night and Day”; “Lessons I’ve Learned from Landing Clients on First Dates,” & “Your Favorite Ideas for Writing Ergonomics, Aesthetics, Functionality, and Work/Life Philosophies, Please…” http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog.

 

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 “THE WELL-FED SELF-PUBLISHER BLOG” IS NOW LIVE!!

Weigh in and subscribe at http://www.wellfedsp.com/blog

 

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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? Send them to peter@wellfedwriter.com. 

 

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THIS MONTH’S MENU:

 

I. WELCOME APPETIZER: SMART COMPANIES LOOKING DUMB (YET AGAIN)!

Web Clinic Underscores How Often “Savvy” Marketers Get Marketing Wrong

 

II. “FIELD” GREENS: ATTENTION, EX-JOURNALISTS!

LA FLCW (& Ex-Journo) Serves Up Inside Info on Landing Work with PR Firms      

 

III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: Know Yourself, Know Your Market and Be Flexible

OH FLCW Shares His Evolutionary Journey to Commercial Freelancing Success

 

IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

OH FLCW “Complains” of Too Much Work (+ Yours Truly Offers a Few Solutions)

TIP: Are You a Smaller-Market FLCW? Here’s a Great Tip for F.R.E.E. Promo!  

 

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. WELCOME APPETIZER: SMART COMPANIES LOOKING DUMB (YET AGAIN)!

Web Clinic Underscores How Often “Savvy” Marketers Get Marketing Wrong

 

I sat through web clinic recently on www.MarketingExperiments.com (mission: “To discover what really works in optimization”; these folks know their stuff and offer a ton of freebies) entitled, “The 5 Easiest Changes to Make to Your Landing Pages Right Now.” No, we’re not all involved in SEO writing, but it’s becoming more and more important to understand this arena. Do so, and you’ll be that much more valuable to your clients.

 

Not surprisingly, even in this somewhat arcane arena of marketing, time-tested sales and marketing cornerstones reign supreme. One of the three overarching principles they laid out up front was this: “Marketers must learn to see their web pages through the eyes of their customers. Too often we employ company logic instead of customer logic.”

 

Well. There’s a newsflash. Seriously, here’s a cutting-edge web optimization research lab in 2012, earnestly reminding viewers, many of them serious marketers with Fortune 500 companies, to look through the eyes of their customers when designing their web sites. Which means one thing: an enormous number consistently get it wrong.

 

This is not rocket science. But if you’ve been at this game for a while, you know it happens because of the insular nature of companies: they’re so steeped in what THEY know about their company, and that drives what they think is most important to tell prospects (and folks like us can offer that crucial “outsider” perspective).

 

They forget that the customer knows NONE of that, and only cares about one thing when visiting any web page (all together now…):

 

“What’s in it for me?”

 

The very existence of training like this underscores, yet again, 1) how smart, successful companies across the spectrum still fall down when it comes to implementing one of the simplest, most basic, FOUNDATIONAL principles of marketing (and human nature, for that matter); and 2) that this blind spot spells enormous opportunity for people like us.

 

And no, knowing it’s important to design ANY marketing material (including web sites) with the customer in mind isn’t the same as being able to do it well, but just knowing it at all apparently will set you apart from some pretty august enterprises.

 

Sorry, no Cliff Notes on the “five things,” but do check out the clinic (and subscribe) at: 

http://www.marketingexperiments.com/landing-page-optimization/quick-win-clinic-part-i-.html. It’ll make you smarter and stronger (like eating spinach…). Let’s eat!  

 

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II. “FIELD” GREENS: ATTENTION, EX-JOURNALISTS!

LA FLCW (& Ex-Journo) Serves Up Inside Info on Landing Work with PR Firms      

 

Coming from the journalism world? Got this great little piece of advice from LA-based FLCW Andrew Hindes (profiled in TWFW; www.theinhousewriter.com), about PR writing. Andrew knows the PR world, so listen carefully here. Enjoy!

 

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One often-overlooked market for FLCW’s is public relations writing. Since 2004, my company, The In-House Writer, has built a healthy business primarily creating press materials for PR agencies and corporate publicity departments.

 

Because many publicists are too busy with other aspects of their jobs—or don’t especially like to write—they are usually happy to have someone take writing projects off their hands. I help them by crafting press releases, pitch letters, corporate profiles, executive bios, fact sheets, talking points, speeches, Web copy—whatever they need.

 

PR writing is an especially good market for someone who has worked as a journalist, as I have, and been on the receiving end of enough press materials to know what works and what doesn’t. Experience as a journalist also helps in terms of finding clients: most reporters and editors develop relationships with many publicists during their careers.

 

When I first tried freelancing—inspired by The Well-Fed Writer—I called or emailed every PR professional I knew and asked if they or their colleagues ever outsourced writing. A lot said no but some said yes and gave me a try. I was meticulous about delivering the highest quality work I could, and I soon found I had more assignments than I could handle myself.  I slowly built a “virtual company” based around a roster of talented writers and copyeditors that I hire on an as-needed basis.

 

I was recently asked by PR News, the trade paper for the PR industry, to become a regular contributor to the “PR Insiders” section of its online edition. The first piece I wrote focused on one of the most important but often neglected goals of PR writing: making journalists’ jobs easier.

 

Peter suggested it might be of interest to readers of the WELL-FED E-PUB who work—or are considering working—in this area of the freelance writing market.

 

http://www.prnewsonline.com/free/How-to-Write-for-Journalists-and-Make-Their-Jobs-Easier_15936.html

 

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III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: Know Yourself, Know Your Market and Be Flexible

OH FLCW Shares His Evolutionary Journey to Commercial Freelancing Success

 

Crossed paths with an interesting guy (and prince of a human being, to boot) last holiday season in Ohio. Visiting family in the Dayton area, I put together a WFW workshop with the generous and gracious assistance of a local writer, Gery Deer (the story is featured in the 2/28/12 post at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog, “Speak Up and Grow Your Commercial Writing Business”).

 

In getting to know Gery (http://www.theconciergecopywriter.com) at the time, he shared his story of getting started in the biz. I asked if he’d be willing to write it up for you guys, and he agreed. Lots of lessons here including: leveraging past contacts, being creative and flexible, and being open to what can come from adversity. Thanks, Gery!

 

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My freelance writing career began in October of 1987 as a staff writer with my college newspaper. It’s hard to imagine that a part-time, $4.75 per hour job set the stage for nearly 25 years of published work and a uniquely satisfying career.

 

In college I studied mechanical engineering and computer science, eventually starting my own on-site, IT support service. I also did some work in the entertainment industry, both writing and performing. But no matter where I was otherwise employed, I continued to freelance, writing for any publication that would buy my work.

 

In June 1998 I started GLD Enterprises, originally an entertainment production and media promotions service. Several years ago, when my mother became sick, I became one of her primary caretakers. To give myself more freedom to work from anywhere – especially from my mother’s bedside – I scaled back the production side of my company and changed my entire business model to focus on writing.

 

Fine-tuning my practice turned out to be harder than anticipated. While most of my work came from small-market newspapers and magazines, the economic downturn began taking its toll on newspaper publishers, who began cutting back. Assignments that once drew $200+ were now paying under $50, and with even fewer of those. Fortunately, I’d already begun taking on commercial projects such as white papers, ebooks and a few ghost writing jobs to help supplement the declining revenue.

 

Forced to modify my writing practice amidst a recession-ravaged market, new opportunities began to present themselves. Growing numbers of small companies were abandoning traditional advertising methods in favor of more content-rich marketing.  Gradually, I altered my focus to meet this new demand by offering commercial writing services in the form of business profile stories, press releases, project proposals and other credibility-generating content.

 

Around the same time, another blossoming market arose as an extraordinary number of self-published authors in my region were learning, the hard way, that the business end of the writing profession was more difficult than they may have imagined.

 

Soon I was being hired to write and distribute promotional material for authors in every genre from religious academic literature to young adult science fiction. My extensive list of media contacts allowed me to secure newspaper feature stories and television and radio interviews, increasing exposure for both my clients and myself. It wasn’t long before my fellow writers became some of my most valued customers.

 

Adjusting to new markets has been the key factor in the success of my business and recognizing when a change is needed, in advance, was even more vital. A certain level of determination and a fair amount of luck also play a part in that success.

 

I wasn’t sure how to blend all this into a functioning, sustainable business model, but success hinged on three things: adjusting to the market; being a resource for clients; and utilizing connections with associates and business contacts while constantly networking to increase your sphere of influence. Regardless of your situation, if you commit to learning about your market, understanding your own abilities, and leveraging your existing connections, you can be a well-fed writer, too!

 

PB Note: Check out the great tip from Gery coming up (in Dessert) about getting on TV, and ideally geared toward those in smaller markets (where a FLCW might be “news”!). 

 

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IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

OH FLCW “Complains” of Too Much Work (+ Yours Truly Offers a Few Solutions)

TIP: Are You a Smaller-Market FLCW? Here’s a Great Tip for F.R.E.E. Promo! 

 

Got this “nice-problem” scenario of too much work from a Midwest writer (anonymous here to avoid getting hit up by tons of writers offering to take the overflow!). There IS no “current state of freelancing” that negatively affects everyone, as stories like this reveal. Following that, from our Main Course writer, Gery Deer, is a cool idea for f.r.e.e promo, and tailor-made for those living in smaller markets.  

 

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Hi Peter: I’ve freelanced for years, but about four years ago I read your book and applied it to my business. Now I’m so darn busy I had to cancel my weekend trip to Chicago. I work day and night, and the work keeps coming. What do you do when you have more work than you can handle? Turning work down isn’t as easy as it sounds—especially when it comes from established clients. Do you raise your rates? Hire an assistant?

 

My reply: Plenty of folks would love to have your problem right about now… There are only so many things you can do. Raise your rates. It could run off some, but if it's not too big an increase, perhaps you'd just be as overworked but better compensated!

 

And of course, finding subcontractors to whom you could farm work, is another idea. The challenge, of course, is finding good people you don’t have to handhold through the process (making it not worth it). But if you can find good people who can work independently AND for a lot less than you bill, you can make money off the spread.

 

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Got this little excellent sidebar tip/clip from Gery Deer (above) I thought was pretty cool as a way to land f.r.e.e. promo for your commercial freelancing business.

 

Gery writes: “I’ve also been working with a new local TV show called, “Living Dayton.” I've had a few of my author and business clients on it and I was asked to do a monthly ‘small business’ segment – here’s the first one we did a couple of weeks ago:

 

http://www.wdtn.com/dpp/living_dayton/marketing-strategies-for-small-business

 

PB: Obviously, this is best suited to those in smaller markets (you’re unlikely to land such a gig in a bigger metro), where a lone FLCW might just be more newsworthy. If you’re in a smaller market with similar TV or radio stations, why not suggest it?  

 

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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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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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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 VARIOUS MENTORING PROGRAMS SERVE YOU?

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

 

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