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 5 – MAY 2013

Publishing the first Tuesday of every month since May 2002 

Read it online at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine/may2013.html

 

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HATE PROSPECTING? WHO DOESN’T? BUT THERE’S A BETTER WAY…

Colleague Ed Gandia is offering up a FR.EE video/PDF series on a better and easier way to land high-quality clients: http://warmemailprospecting.com/dap/a/?a=189 

 

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WANT TO BUY “THE WELL-FED WRITER” IN BULK (AND SAVE BIG)?

Have a writer’s group, class or workshop? Buy TWFW at a discount, add a profit center to your group! Buy more, save more. Details: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/bulk.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 “What You Do When You Do What You Do”; “Commercial Writing Has Many Faces (as These Unusual Projects Prove…)”; “Trying to Make the Transition from Employee to Full-Time Commercial Writer?” & more! http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog.

 

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THIS MONTH’S MENU:

 

I. APPETIZER: COMMERCIAL FREELANCING—THE PORTABLE BUSINESS

Yours Truly Works While Traveling—Underscoring the UN-importance of Location  

 

II. “FIELD” GREENS: MAKE MORE MONEY IN LESS TIME!

25-Year FLCW Changes HOW She Writes, Watches Her Productivity Jump

 

III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: CHALLENGING THE SACRED COWS OF FLCW’ING

Aussie FLCW Tests the “Givens” in Our Field, Finds They’re “Not Necessarily So”!

 

IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

Yours Truly Keeps in Touch with UN-Steady Clients AND Lands More Work!

TIP: (Another) Aussie FLCW Extols Virtue of “Making Clients’ Lives Easy”

 

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: COMMERCIAL FREELANCING—THE PORTABLE BUSINESS

Yours Truly Works While Traveling—Underscoring the UN-importance of Location  

 

My sincere gratitude to all who reached out by email, snail-mail cards AND telephone, to convey their sympathies in the wake of the passing of my mother in late March (discussed in April’s Appetizer, archived at http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine.shtml).   

 

Just got back from a second estate-related trip, a few weeks back, and as you read this, I’m likely to be headed back yet again. And through all these trips, I’m reminded of how portable this business of ours is, as I’ve kept up a decent workload throughout.

 

One’s physical presence in a certain place just isn’t relevant or necessary anymore. Yes, there are advantages to being able to meet with clients, and you CAN connect on a more personal level more easily when in person—and that counts for something.

 

That said, not being able to meet face-to-face is FAR less of a liability than it used to be, and arguably, not much of one at all. You’ll still find clients that like to meet, and if I’m being paid for the meeting, I welcome getting out from behind a computer. But, plenty more just care—as they should—that the work gets done well, and within time/budget parameters, and don’t feel the need to waste your time and theirs in meetings. 

 

Increasingly, our office is anywhere we want it to be, or in my case right now, where I need to be. Keep that in mind if you’re living in the middle of nowhere and wondering how you’re going to build a business there. It’s a big world out there, and full of folks happy to hire you (and pay you well) with no expectations to EVER meet. Let’s eat!

 

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II. “FIELD” GREENS: MAKE MORE MONEY IN LESS TIME!

25-Year FLCW Changes HOW She Writes, Watches Her Productivity Jump

 

Got this great idea from colleague and (aptly named) case-study maven Casey Hibbard (http://www.compelling-cases.com). Casey is a Boulder, CO-based FLCW who specializes in writing customer case studies. It’s not always easy to break old habits, but this working-smarter tip sounds like one worth trying. Check out Casey’s blog (http://www.storiesthatsellguide.com/blog) or monthly newsletter (the preceding URL minus the extension) for regular tips on case studies. Enjoy!

 

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If you’re charging flat project rates—as you SHOULD—you know the quicker you finish projects, the more money you make for your time, and the faster you can start the next project. But how do you speed up the actual writing process?

 

Stop editing WHILE you write!

 

I’ve been writing professionally for 25 years, but just recently reigned in this bad habit. If you stop for every little edit or change, you break the flow and speed of your writing.

 

I knew this, but didn’t take it seriously until I read Daphne Gray-Grant’s “8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better” (http://www.publicationcoach.com/my-book) where she recommends you write without stopping. No answering the phone or peeking at email. And especially, DON’T EDIT as you go—even if a typo is nagging the heck out of you. Dig in, write a first draft, and THEN edit.

 

DOES IT WORK? I started applying Daphne’s tips to everything I wrote. At first, it was painful. My negative and distracted thoughts were a roadblock to flow.

 

“There’s a better word for that." "That’s misspelled!” “That sentence is passive." "I already used that word three times." "I forgot to call my mom back!” But it got easier. I knew that no one would see the work in progress and the editing phase would be my chance to finesse whatever was needed.

 

By not stopping to edit while writing, I cut out about 30 percent of the time it takes to develop a first draft. That means I complete projects faster, which makes my clients happy. And I make MORE MONEY IN LESS TIME. Sure, at times I still catch myself editing when I shouldn’t. But fortunately, every day is another chance to practice.

 

For more writing tips, check out Daphne’s blog and free weekly Power Writing column at http://www.publicationcoach.com.

 

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III. MAIN “MEAT” COURSE: CHALLENGING THE SACRED COWS OF FLCW’ING

Aussie FLCW Tests the “Givens” in Our Field, Finds They’re “Not Necessarily So”!

 

Loved the contrarian vibe of this piece from Sydney, Australia FLCW Charles Cuninghame (http://www.text-centric.com), who questioned some assumptions about our field, and ended up boosting his profits AND enjoyment. Think too rigidly, and you’ll miss opportunities that don’t fit the patterns (as I’ve done!). I absolutely agree with all his assertions, though I’d never consciously challenged the assumptions. Kudos to Charles for reminding all of us that there are NO hard-and-fast rules in what we do!

 

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“Solo operators can’t afford copywriters.” “Marketing departments are goldmines of work.” “Clients just want copy that sells.” Well, I believed those three rules when I started as a freelance copywriter. But, they weren’t borne of experience. They were educated guesses based on what I’d read and heard from other freelancers.

 

Last year I did a thorough reality check. By testing the assumptions I’d made when I started out, I fine-tuned my business, making it more enjoyable and profitable. Here’s what I found:

 

WHO’S GOT THE MONEY?  I made a list of all the projects I’d completed in the previous two years, complete with the fee I’d received and my per-hour rate. My data revealed many small/solo businesses were happy to pay me a few thousand dollars to write their website content. AND, small business projects paid as much—often more—per hour as corporate projects.

 

I also discovered most small business clients find me via Google and my website. Taking these insights on-board I put together a special package for small business website content, and promoted it with a sales letter on my website. This now makes it a lot easier for me to land more of these projects.

 

WHO ARE MY IDEAL CLIENTS? Starting out, I thought I’d prefer working with marketing departments and agencies, writing corporate marketing copy. I saw these people as my marketing peers and I didn't want to waste time with small-biz folk who “didn’t get it.” What I didn’t foresee is how gratifying it is to help an owner grow their small business.

 

Plus, when working for big companies, you find yourself asking, “How much difference can 15 pages on a 12,000-page website actually make?” But when I wrote the content for Mr. Scoreboards’ website and he doubled his sales... Wow! I felt thrilled that I’d really made a difference. And that was a valuable payoff in addition to the fee I was paid.

 

WHAT DO CLIENTS WANT? Because I see myself as a marketing professional (not “just a writer”), I believed clients would hire me MAINLY to help them increase sales (and some do). But when I ask prospects, “What’s your #1 goal for this project?” they often don’t mention sales. I found roughly half related to sales and half to “good writing.” The single most common theme? They wanted a “professional image.”

 

So I rewrote my website content, emphasising good writing more and including the phrases, such as “professional image” and “clear, concise and engaging,” that my prospects had actually used. I also changed the way I talked to prospects about what I can do for them, giving equal time to “good writing” and “increasing sales.”

 

So ask yourself: “What assumptions have I made about my freelance copywriting business? Could they be holding me back from increasing my income and enjoying my work more?”

 

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IV. DESSERT: Sweet Success Stories and Tips

Yours Truly Keeps in Touch with UN-Steady Clients AND Lands More Work!

TIP: (Another) Aussie FLCW Extols Virtue of “Making Clients’ Lives Easy”

 

We all have that certain type of client. Somewhere between steady and one-off. I have several like that, including one that hired me about 10 years ago to do a bunch of stuff (via a partner graphic designer already working with them), then they vanished for a while. And yes, I could have been more proactive of staying in touch.

 

Then they popped again a few years later for a bit more work, and were then gone again. Just this past fall, they surfaced again, I did one small job, and this time vowed to keep in touch. And did. Called them a few months later (no reply), and then a few months after that. No reply for a month, then a call out of the blue.

 

I’m back in the door, working on one small project, and according to them, they’ve got a ton more work coming up. And all at a healthy rate. Would they have reached out again on their own had I not done so first? Maybe, but why risk it? Out of sight often truly IS out of mind. And some clients absolutely would NOT reach out to you without your nudge. Get in the habit of regularly following up with all the “in-betweeners.”

 

Remember: all dynamic businesses that want to stay that way WILL have more writing needs at some point. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually, and if your smiling voice (or e-voice or postcard) has shown up recently, you’ll be top of mind when they do.  

 

Next up: A great tip/reminder from another Aussie (who wishes to remain anonymous). This one’s dead-on. I’ve seen average writers who know how to make clients’ lives easy get the nod over more talented FLCW’s with attitude. This is definitely one of those simple, “no-experience-required” ways to set yourself apart.

 

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In the current market, with marketing and writing folks being laid off everywhere, there's never been a better time to be an “easy-to-work-with” FLCW. One thing I’ve learnt is that all this crazy stuff going down in the corporate world—restructures, redundancies, variable cost bases, etc.—mean exactly the same thing for us: OPPORTUNITY.

 

That’s because those folks left behind are still required to communicate with clients, market their products, hit sales targets and grow their business; it’s just that they’re now doing twice as much work as before.

 

It even seems sometimes that the more money a company’s making, the greater the pressure on their staff. Go figure...

 

So when talking to new clients, I always say, “Along with always doing great work, my main job is to make things EASY for you.” You should see their eyes light up.

 

Maybe it’s just due to exhaustion, but so many have sighed and looked at me, as if saying, “Finally, someone who actually GETS what I’m going through…”

 

So along with always delivering great stuff on time, now’s the time to:

 

1) Be the one with the clear head when stakeholders prove difficult to work with

2) Be the one to take the lead when a project’s going pear-shaped

3) Be the one to manage the project with an impossibly tight deadline

 

Remember, no one likes a cranky freelancer. Be the one to make a client’s life EASY.

 

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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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