Okay. Okay. I’m writing a freelancing book.

July 8, 2010 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Miscellaneous 

For what seems like eons, people have been asking me to write a book on freelancing. From Bob Bly to colleagues to fellow freelancers, I’ve been hounded for years.

And now, I’m finally giving in.

I AM writing a book on freelancing. And it’s going to be big. How to start, build, and run a freelance practice. Soup to nuts.

Here’s the story.

Years ago, even before the Internet was a big deal (we’re talking mid 1990s here), writers would contact me about how to start and build a freelance business. I tried to answer their questions as well as I could, but it became time-consuming to write and send emails every week.

I noticed that a lot of the questions followed a pattern, so I pulled together all those emails, filled in a few details, and created a little 30-page ebook. I just sent it to anyone who contacted me and didn’t charge anything.

To my surprise, people would respond with overwhelming praise for that little ebook. So I started to think about selling it, but I wasn’t sure how at the time and I got busy and had a hundred excuses for not doing anything with it.

It sat in my computer for 15 years or so. Until recently.

Today there is a HUGE market for freelance copywriting information … the Internet is the perfect way to sell it … and I have a book ready to go.

Well, sort of.

Things have changed a little during the last 15 years. And I know a LOT more about freelancing now than I did then. In fact, that’s one reason I set the book aside for so long. I just didn’t feel right about offering advice on freelancing when I was just a few years into it myself.

I’ve always rolled my eyes at people who offer advice for something they’ve been doing for 5 minutes and I didn’t want to be one of those people.

So when I accidentally ran across that book in my computer files, I started reading it and thought, “Hey, this isn’t bad. I should stop keeping this to myself.”

I started expanding those original 30 pages and that little ebook is now growing into a big ebook … from what sort of person you need to be to setting up your office to how to find good clients to the kind of work you should look for (and what kinds of work you should avoid) to how to promote yourself to … well, you get the idea.

I hate to do anything half-assed, so this will take some work. But it’s coming along and I just wanted you to know about it.

If there’s something you’d like to see included, let me know. What do you find most difficult about freelance copywriting? What secrets have you learned? Where are the most lucrative clients? How do you close deals? I’d love to answer your questions or include your thoughts.

Stay tuned to Pro Copy Tips for updates on how the book is coming. I’ll announce publication here first. I suggest that you subscribe by RSS or email to make sure you don’t miss anything.

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  2. $#!* Happens! A dirty story about freelancing success

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Smart Comments

11 Comments on Okay. Okay. I’m writing a freelancing book.

  1. Charles Cuninghame on Jul 9th, 2010 5:27 am
  2. Dean, this is great news! Please keep us updated. I can’t wait to buy a copy.

    My greatest challenge is identifying profitable prospects.

  3. Dean Rieck on Jul 9th, 2010 10:58 am
  4. Charles,
    Identifying profitable prospects is always a problem. But during your first phone conversation, and after you have provided information about your business, you can ask a series of questions, such as: Do you use freelance copywriters? Are you the person who hires copywriters? Are my fees acceptable? Etc. In other words, it’s important to determine if they need your services, if you’re talking to the right person, and if they can pay.

  5. Andrew B. on Jul 9th, 2010 11:20 am
  6. Hi Dean,

    I don’t know if it’s addressed in your upcoming book, but one of my biggest freelance struggles involves companies that don’t even realize they have a need for better writing. Would they be great clients if they could only see the remarkable improvement? Are they a huge untapped market? Or are they a lost cause? In most cases it’s the latter, but what a difference a good writer could make! Are there some proven, effective techniques for opening those doors?

    It’s sort of a double-sell: First they have to be sold on the notion of better writing, then they have to be sold on me as they guy to do it. Contrarily, the ones that already know they need to outsource their writing are much easier to land.

    What do you think? Big potential? Or big waste of time?

  7. Dean Rieck on Jul 9th, 2010 11:40 am
  8. Andrew,
    Waste of time. If you’re a big car company, you can spend millions to persuade people they need a car then have your sales team close the sale on the lot. But as a freelancer, you can’t do that kind of “want making.” You should look for those who already know they need you. Get the book Guerrilla Selling. It talks about this in some detail.

  9. Stacy Ranta on Jul 9th, 2010 10:12 pm
  10. There’s been a lot of books recently on how to start a freelance business. For example, The Wealthy Freelancer, and the update to the Well Fed Writer, both of which were published within the last year. Plus there’s a lot of older books that are still relevant. That’s not even taking ebooks into account.

    Anyway, my biggest problem is also prequalifying prospects.

    How do I get them to tell me what they expect to pay before I waste a lot of time on talking with people who aren’t realistic? I always worry that if I outright ask their budget, they think I’m asking just so I can charge the maximum amount.

    Or can I just say something like, “My fees start at $XXX.” or “I typically charge $XXXX for project Y.”

  11. Dean Rieck on Jul 9th, 2010 10:32 pm
  12. Stacy,
    That’s always a big challenge. I usually send my information kit before talking with someone, so they’ll see my fees. That weeds out some people immediately. Then when I talk to them, I ask the budget. If they tell me, I know what I’m dealing with. If not, I just give them a quote and see what they think.

    You should never waste a LOT of time talking with people. But you do have to spend enough time to qualify them. I think what you’re really saying is, you’re worried that they won’t want to pay what you ask. Well, if they aren’t, that’s not the client for you. Though there are ways to deal with objections, if your fees are too far away from their expectations, you won’t make a deal anyway. And that won’t be the sort of client you’ll want long-term.

    For example, a guy called me recently who wanted a sales letter. He said he expected to pay (I kid you not) $55. My fee, even for a simple informational 1-page letter, STARTS at $500. I gave him some other options for reviewing his letter, etc. but in the end he wasn’t right for me.

  13. Stacy Ranta on Jul 10th, 2010 5:29 pm
  14. Well, I haven’t got a big enough name so that people are regularly coming to me. So I do a lot of cold calling and cold emailing.

    So suppose I get someone on the phone and they say, “Yeah, I might have a project for you. I need someone to write copy for the company web page for our new product line. Can you do something like that?”

    I had a potential lead where I talked to the marketing manager of a company that sold UPSes for industrial applications. She said they needed a new brochure, data sheet, and some small updates to the product manual. I arranged a phone meeting, talked to her for like 45 minutes about the project, submitted a quote and… her boss nixed the project when quarterly sales weren’t what they expected. Two hours of chasing this project down the drain.

    There’s a book by Adam Sandler called You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar where he talks about a similar experience in commissioned sales. He got a lead, made a long drive out to the potential customer’s house, did his presentation… and the guy leaned over and said, “I don’t have any money.”

    So how do I make sure they have money and the authority to hire me before I spend a lot of time on them? Do I just come out and ask on the phone? Send them an email with questions including ‘Do you have a budget for this project?’ or ‘If you like the quote, what happens next?’

  15. Stacy Ranta on Jul 10th, 2010 5:30 pm
  16. Sorry, it’s David Sandler, not Adam.

  17. Dean Rieck on Jul 10th, 2010 5:59 pm
  18. Stacy,
    I kinda wondered why Adam Sandler would be writing a book like that. :)

    Well, this is the problem with cold calling. You are going to spend a lot of time with unqualified prospects. Even the best sales people in the world will have a problem if they’re spending too much time talking to the wrong people.

    I think you need to make a change in your prospecting strategy. This is a good topic for a future post, but the short version is … you need prospects to come to you. You can do this lots of ways, such as writing articles for publications your clients read, offering a white paper related to prospect needs, networking at professional events, publishing a newsletter, etc.

    I recommended Guerrilla Selling to Andrew. I recommend you read it too. It talks about how to use your time selling efficiently. As long as you continue to cold call, you’ll keep having the same problem.

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  19. Jillian on Jul 24th, 2010 3:37 am
  20. Definitely looking forward to this book. In the short time I’ve been poking around on your blog, it’s plain to see you know what you’re talking about. As a new writer, this is exactly the sort of advice I’m looking for to get my own little freelance business going.