A Down-n-Dirty Primer on Launching a Freelance Writing Home Business
Got a virtual intro to ‘Howie’ this week. Seems he’s left Corporate America where he was a marketing communications hack and is hoping to make a go as a corporate copywriter. My advice to Howie…
Hey Howie. Good to (virtually) meet you.
My simple net-net to launching a home-based writing business is to Build on Your Strengths. Grab the domain (my suggested catchy moniker is excluded here, at least until he grabs it) - it’s available; I just checked at GoDaddy. Use a branded alias (howie @ [ that catchy moniker].com, instead of your verizon.net acct. Nothing screams AMATEUR like an AOL.com address.
Get some killer business cards (www.moo.com for expensive, VERY cool ones, or you can find other places).
Then (and this is the deal-maker) get out and meet people. It’s not easy, but if you have connections, that’s a start. Market to those you know — like your former boss. Hopefully, your departure wasn’t an expletive-laden tirade (at least on your part) such that going back and saying, “I’ll do the some work without you having to worry about those pesky benefits and all” is within the realm of possibility.
Next, go to chamber meetings, industry association gatherings, places where people in corporate
Hand out those fancy business cards like you harvested them from your own sprawling business-card orchard; you can always grow more.
Along the lines of marketing and self-promotion: Put your claim to fame and other info on your email signature. I use Gmail, and have set three different sigs and change each (see one below) depending on the recipient. In your case, it could be copywriting, folk singing, humor, etc. (In the interest of setting aside any nagging poo-pooing given my comment above regarding how amateur an AOL, Verizon or even Gmail email address can be, I have five branded domains I use - @chiefhomeofficer.com, @jeffzbar.com, @gotwords.biz, among others. Besides, Gmail is a fraternity of those In The Know. I use my @gmail address pretty proudly, thank you very much).
Next, create a compelling one-sheet — that PDF bio where people can learn more about your credentials and the like. Post it to your new Website (maybe create that site in Wordpress, so you can blog, or just update the site yourself without some fancy-shmancy Webmaster k’chinging you for every update [and there will be updates - constant and consistent, if you wanna keep it fresh and lively to convince prospective clients that you're worth their investment]).
Post samples of all your writing there.
And testimonials. Ahh, the testimonial. Ask for testimonials from every significant client. They work wonders to convince the fence-rider.
Freelancing is a marathon, not a sprint. Twenty years in, I’m realizing this more and more everyday. You’ll have highs — and lows. Land gigs, and lose ‘em, too. You seem like an affable guy (never met a folk-singin’ comic named Howie who was a putz). Play to that strength, too. As they say, “People like doing business with people they like.”
I don’t buy into all the You Can Make Big $$ In Corporate Copywriting crap. But you can make good $$ in corporate copywriting, and lots of resources / Heavy Hitters out there can help you learn more. Search for Bob Bly, Steve Slaunwhite, Nick Usborne, Mike Stelzner, Chris Marlow and Peter Bowerman. Subscribe to their zines (hey, create one of your own to help your particular audience better grasp how your niche helps them be better at what they do).
Talking about Heavy Hitters, what makes someone a HH? Usually, it’s just a self-proclamation of such. If they say so, so I guess that makes them so, right? If that’s the logic, then you can be / are, too…
Another thing to keep in mind: To most people, copywriting (or any writing) is like rocket science and 10th-grade English spit out like the Brundlefly: Fused into some thoroughly confounding and damn frustrating pain in the ass process that they’d rather get H1N1 than have to deal with. That’s where you and I come in. Writing comes easy to us. As such, we should be compensated accordingly.
But NEVER let your clients know how easy the process is.
To that end, try not to turn stuff too quickly; the less business-PC among them will question your fee as it pertains to time invested (Your retort: It’s about service and quality, not time invested).
To wit, I never charge by the hour. I’m good — and fast. If I told my clients it took me less than 90 minutes to write the keyword-rich, SEO-ready press release I charge $450 for, they’d bemoan my $250-an-hour-plus fee. To that end, too, I don’t argue fees. Got a problem with my fee? We can discuss — to a degree. But don’t disrespect me and we’ll get along just fine…
That’s about all I have to say about that. Feel free to reply with any specific questions about launching a copywriting biz.
OK, now back to the paying work…
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.