Yesterday, I spoke on a panel at the annual conference of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Many thanks to Emily Paulsen -- health writer extraordinaire and co-chair of the Washington, DC ASJA chapter -- for inviting me to speak. I was honored to join two co-presenters:
- Alex Acker, VP at Adventure House Communications Group. Alex's presentation, "Working with agencies to open doors to corporate writing opportunities," offered candid tips for freelancer writers including how to price your work and how to write a cover letter that will get you hired.
- Jason Womack, CEO of The Womack Company. Jason's presentation, "Serving corporate clients," offered a four-step process for success: Show up, Do good work, Stay in touch, Repeat.
Let's help freelance writers find corporate work
I really enjoyed meeting the writers who attended the session. Many of them were in a period of professional transition from magazine or newspaper staff writer to intrepid freelancer. So today, I am reaching out the Writing Matters community to ask for help for newly freelance writers. Could you share your tips for finding freelance writing work with corporate clients? You can read my eight tips here and view my panel presentation. (Just a little warning about my presentation. I got tangled in my own metaphor -- a freelance writer is a whale -- and came up with this advice: "Eat the krill, Befriend the dolphins, Get to know the HR folks at SeaWorld." Please forgive.)
Please share your tips for finding corporate writing work. You can post a comment or e-mail me with suggestions. Thanks!
Eight tips for finding corporate writing clients
1. Participate in online and face-to-face communities of all types.
- Don’t hide behind your monitor. Join, join, join.
- Go to at least one face-to-face meeting per month.
- Join 4: 1 org. for writers + 1 org. for your subject area + 1 org. for prospects + 1 org. for your community.
2. Build a detailed online presence.
- Site, blog, social media
- Samples, portfolio, recommendations, methods of working with clients
- Sticky stuff about you, the personal and the professional
3. Write for free … but only for yourself.
- Comments on others’ blogs
- Posts to online discussions
4. You may work alone, but you’ll get more clients if you see yourself as part of a team.
- Bring in other writers.
- Join an existing project team.
- Form coalitions.
- Provide recommendations.
- Create professional bandwidth.
5. Use tools and software to manage projects and enable collaboration.
- Recommend software solutions to collaboration challenges.
- Know how to use software that makes projects work: GoogleDocs, wiki, Basecamp, TextFlow.
- Be the one who schedules regular conference calls, web meetings, etc.
6. Develop a “tasting menu” for your writing services.
- Peel off a small part of a prospective job; get paid for it.
- Offer one-time-only try-on pricing.
7. Get comfortable with the long sales cycle and the short turn-around time.
- You never know when you’re planting seeds that will grow into work, especially with social media.
- Many writing projects take months or years to go from one-off to ongoing.
- With human bandwidth and gnarly project management skills, you can cope with deadline pressure.
8. Be open to doing unusual writing projects.
- It’s all work, and work is good.
- Unusual projects for solid clients lead to more work.
- Avoid unusual clients.