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 5 – MAY 2011

Publishing the first Tuesday of every month since May 2002 

Read it Online at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine/may2011.html

 

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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/partnerwithdesignersebook.shtml.

 

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The WELL-FED WRITER BLOG is Rockin'! Weigh in on “Have You Tried the ‘Reluctant Rock Star Close’ to Deal With Waffling Prospects?”, “Carve a Niche, and Build Your Own Demand Through ‘Query-Free’ Freelancing;” What’s a Freelancer to Do About Health Insurance?” and more! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog.

 

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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? Send them to peter@wellfedwriter.com. 

 

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THIS MONTH'S MENU:

 

I. APPETIZER: BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS ABOUT OUTSOURCING

Chat with Marketing Manager Underscores Need for Writing, But GOOD Writing!

 

II. “FIELD” GREENS: SORRY, IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!

B2B CMO at Trade Show Discovers How Many BIG Firms Get Marketing Wrong

 

III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: MINING YOUR PAST FOR PRESENT JOBS

CA FLCW Shares Strategies for Tapping Former Jobs for Freelance Work   

 

IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

MN FLCW Almost Grabs 9-5 Gig, Comes to Her Senses and Sees Biz Grow!  

TIP: “Nada-Chair” Offers Long-Sitting Freelancers Back Support (& for a Song!)

 

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: BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS ABOUT OUTSOURCING

Chat with Marketing Manager Underscores Need for Writing, But GOOD Writing!

 

Was speaking with a friend of mine recently – a marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company. She was telling me how much writing they outsource, given, as she said, “we just don’t have the in-house resources to handle it.” I’m on her radar now, and in large part because a writer they hired recently (through a referral) crashed and burned. Too many questions and calls after the first meeting, followed by no production. Bad combo.

 

Not terribly surprising in the case of this writer, since she was more of a straight freelancer (i.e., used to writing articles, not marketing copy). FYI, that’s the kind of stuff that’ll drive clients crazy, since the whole point is to reduce their workload. A call or two? Fine. But when it goes on and on, they’ll soon realize it’d be quicker to do it themselves.

 

Which is a good segue into the bad news (or at least, the “adult conversation”)…

 

You really have to know what you’re doing to work at this level. As my friend described herself and her colleagues (i.e., those in a position to hire writers), “Most all of us come from deep backgrounds in marketing with good-sized companies. So, we’re used to and require a strong writing skills and a healthy grasp of marketing fundamentals.”

 

Yes, plenty of companies  – even some good-sized ones; see “Greens” above – are clueless about marketing, but the big boys generally have a good handle on things (which is why they ARE big boys…), so with them, writing/marketing skills matter a lot.

 

So, if you’ve shot high, marketing yourself to big companies, making countless cold calls, and sending your samples (or link to your portfolio) far and wide, but aren’t getting calls returned, or not getting rehired after doing one job, perhaps your skills aren’t where they need to be. In which case, study portfolios of established FLCW’s (starting with mine: http://www.writeinc.biz) and/or consider taking a business writing course.

 

If your skills are solid, then there’s the good news. My friend works for a multi-billion company with plenty of marketing people but few if any in-house writers. Not unusual. And their bad experience with the writer above proves that even big companies don’t always have a stable of crack freelance copywriters at their beck and call.

 

Not to mention that if companies of her size outsource as much writing as they do, then much smaller firms – say, $10-, $20-, $50-million in revenues, and far less likely to have the in-house resources – are even more apt to. On that happy note, let’s eat!

 

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II. “FIELD” GREENS: SORRY, IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU

B2B CMO at Trade Show Discovers How Many BIG Firms Get Marketing Wrong

 

Came across this great newsletter article in my in-box recently from 25-year veteran B2B marketer Keith Finger (keith@keithfinger.com, http://www.keithfinger.com/ to subscribe to his newsletter), self-described as, “an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer who helps clients increase revenue and improve marketing ROI.” It’s nice to see a message I pound into FLCW’s all the time, being shared by a serious B2B player, and talking about how many big, established companies get the basics wrong. People sometimes don’t believe me when I say this, assuming the Big Boys always “Know What They’re Doing.” Not hardly. Use it to help yourself (AND your clients) stand out. Enjoy. 

 

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CUSTOMERS WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM

 

Last week in Las Vegas, I attended a large international trade show. As I walked the show's aisles and looked at the hundreds of booths, it hit me how most exhibitors’ messaging was about themselves, with bland facts about their products or services and nary a word on their value propositions or the benefits provided to customers. Considering that exhibitors have 3 or 4 seconds to capture an attendee’s interest, there was a lot of money being left on the table that day.

 

The same could be said for the web sites of most companies. The copy is usually about how long a company has been in business, how great their customer service is (a poor differentiator due to its overuse) and other self-serving accolades. The result? Prospects come to the home page and leave after a few seconds. In the world of web stats this is the “bounce rate.” If yours is over 30%, it’s cause for concern.

 

What’s a company to do? Here are a few tips:

1) Ensure your communications are centered on the how you help customers succeed, especially how your company helps customers generate revenue or reduce expenses. If you’re not sure, ask your customers. They’ll tell you and the information will make great testimonials as well.

 

2) Understand the different market segments you serve and communicate how you serve each of them. Segments usually have their own unique set of concerns and lingo. Talk to prospects like you know their segment and you're halfway home.

 

3) Know your customers’ buying cycle and what information they need at each point of the sales funnel. If your customers typically buy via committee, you’ll want information that satisfies people on the committee from other departments (legal, finance, etc.).

 

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III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: MINING YOUR PAST FOR PRESENT JOBS

CA FLCW Shares Strategies for Tapping Former Jobs for Freelance Work   

 

Got this great piece on tapping old employers for freelance work. This comes from Watsonville, CA FLCW Tom Bentley (bentguy@charter.net). Tom just loaded up his really great “Easy Editing and Spiffy Style Guide” to the newly created Well-Fed Partner Pantry (http://www.wellfedwriter.com/wfpartnerpantry.shtml), so check it out. 

 

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A former boss of mine emailed me a few days ago with a couple of good writing-related links. We discussed our present work, and she said she'd send me any contract jobs she heard of that seemed suitable for me. It occurred to me that I'd worked for her in the late 80s, and here she was still keeping me in mind for good work.

 

That set me thinking of work I'd performed in the last year or so from the connections of former bosses and corporate peers:

 

1) An ex-boss from the mid-2000s had me write a radio ad for a friend's restaurant.

 

2) My boss at a software company for whom I worked in the mid-90s referred me for editing work on a seven-book series of ebooks that I'm now working on.

 

3) One of my peers from several years ago turned me on to a website content-writing gig that lasted six weeks.

 

4) Another former peer engaged me to write website content for her small business.

 

5) Another peer, again from way back, set me up to write a brochure for her new company, at a very tasty rate.

 

All the connections are from workplaces of years back; a couple of them from MANY years back. What seems so dully true in theory—don't burn your bridges—is for me resoundingly true in practice. Leaving a trail of goodwill at your former employer will often have that trail circle back to you. We all know referrals are business gold; when offered in the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie from past working relationships, they are gold that can be reshaped and set over and over.

 

Naturally, not everyone, particularly your boss, is going to be your buddy in the workplace. But being known as a person who consistently hits deadlines, works well with people, communicates, and can smile during the tough times puts you in good stead for being remembered—and recommended—for your solid workplace citizenship.

 

But it has to work both ways. A number of past colleagues also became freelancers, and I’ve sent some promising leads their way as well. BUT, give in the spirit of generosity. Never expect you’re owed for a juicy referral. Bask in the glow of good feeling if the gig comes through for them. And of course, give hearty thanks when you’re the beneficiary.

 

If you have fallen out of touch with past bosses and peers, use LinkedIn to reconnect. If you were the upstanding officemate described above, exchanging pleasantries and explaining you’re freelancing could easily lead to a referral without having to pander or get cheesy about “slyly” requesting contract possibilities. They should organically occur in the genial exchange of well-wishing. Of course, that can work with old clients too. Resurface that old bridge and keep it shiny—and burn-proof.

 

AND, there are exceptions. The supervisor who fired me from a writing job years back (he’d fired four of five employees in rapid succession), when asked why he’d fired me, simply said, “It’s just business.” But then he literally said I should pay him back the money he’d paid me for my work. I laughed, thinking he was joking. After he repeated it twice more, I realized he wasn’t joking; he was crazy. Some jobs ARE best left behind.

 

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IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

MN FLCW Almost Grabs 9-5 Gig, Comes to Her Senses and Sees Biz Grow!  

TIP: “Nada-Chair” Offers Long-Sitting Freelancers Back Support (& for a Song!)

 

Got this great piece about believing in your worth as a writer from Minneapolis, MN FLCW Claire Davis (http://www.tastytext.blogspot.com/). Not to mention it underscores the possibilities of both convincing companies looking for a full-timer that a freelancer on a retainer might be a better option. Following that is a tip about a unique back-support gizmo I’ve been using for over a decade. Enjoy!

 

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Peter: I landed an incredible first gig immediately after launching my freelance writing business (writing banner ad copy describing cupcakes for Betty Crocker). While riding that sweet wave of good fortune, I didn’t consider its eventual end, and when it inevitably came, I was in a slump – having neglected marketing my business in the interim.

 

My response? I stopped believing I could make it as a freelancer and began hunting for 9-5 writing gigs. I figured I was clearly not cut out to sell myself or my work.

 

I landed incredible interviews, easily making the final rounds, and inevitably, a job offer presented itself. All these full-time jobs appeared cushy, complete offices boasting lounge areas, funky red couches and modern art. Buuuuut, no sunlight streaming over their keyboards, and my closet with my robe was nowhere to be found. Nor were all my favorite snacks available at my whim. Also, where was my daughter and where was a park like the one across the street at home?

 

Yes, the grass is always greener over here in Freelance Land. When the offer was made, I countered with a request to write for their company freelance. The hiring manager looked hard at me, and though his mouth said, "no," his eyes said, "yes."

 

Six months later, after the writer they hired flopped, that very same hiring manager got it touch and asked if I was still available for a freelance contract. “Why, yes, I believe I am available,” and now I write for him on a monthly retainer.

 

Moral of the story: stand your ground all the while believing in your worth as a writer.

 

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About 10 years ago, at a new age trade show here in Atlanta, I purchased something called a “Nada-Chair.” A strange-looking harness that surrounds your low back, and with seatbelt-material straps that wrap around your knees, it forces your back upright, against its natural inclination to slump. I’ve had chairs come and go (many, none too cheap…), but my Nada-Chair, while not perfect in every way, is, by far, the thing that’s made endless sitting most comfortable. Plus, it’s about half the cost of even a cheap chair, and it folds up about the size of a book. Check them out at http://www.nadachair.com/.   

 

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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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