Are you ready to up the ante in your freelance writing business for 2020?
There’s no better time than the new year to do it.
As we close out 2019, now is the time to look at your achievements, progress, and what you want to do differently in the new year.
Now is the ideal time to figure out how to up-level your business.
Whether you want to finally invest in that course you’ve been eyeballing or buy yourself a new library of reference books, as long as you’re spending time and money on the right business tools, it can be a game changer for your business.
So, how are you planning to up your game in 2020?
Here are a few suggestions for the best new year’s resolutions freelance writers should consider:
1. Write Out Your Daily To-Do List
As a freelancer, your time is your most precious resource. If your schedule is out of whack, you could potentially be losing thousands of dollars. Because time is money. If you’re scrolling Facebook looking for inspiration for your writer’s block, you’re not going to find it there.
An example of a weekly to-do list might look like:
- Write two client blog posts
- Respond to client email queries
- Create list of 25 companies to pitch
- Edit and submit 2 client blog posts
- Pitch 5 companies
- Research and outline 2 more client posts
- Schedule a LinkedIn thought leadership piece
- Write 2 client blog posts
- Pitch 5 companies
- Reach out to 15 LinkedIn connections
- Edit and submit 2 client blog posts
- Pitch 5 companies
- Plan client content strategy
- Create notes for upcoming sales calls
- Pitch 5 companies
- Take 2 sales calls
- Handle administrative tasks
- Create 2 proposals from sales calls
- Create a list of 25 companies to pitch
Each week, set up your goals. A quiet Sunday morning is the perfect time to do this. Whether you use sticky notes, a planner, a fancy app, just map out your weekly goals. It only works if you work it, so pick the method that you’ll stick to.
2. Nail Your Pitch Template
If you aren’t pitching as part of your marketing strategy, change that in 2020. Part of the magic of email cold pitching is that you get to select who you want to work with. Sometimes you won’t get a favorable response, or any response at all, so going into it knowing it’s a numbers game is key.
A few tips for nailing your pitch template:
- Make it personal – Don’t be lazy. Look up the CEO or marketing director’s name and address the email to them. You can find the correct person’s information on LinkedIn quite easily. Once you have their name, download the Hunter email finder and pop in the person’s name and company to get their address! Easy.
- Keep it short – You’re a stranger from the internet. Do NOT send them a huge long love letter. Snappy and short paragraphs will show you’re a tight writer and you respect their time.
- Drop a stat – Prove to them that you know what you’re talking about by dropping a current and relevant industry stat. This can be as simple as: “A consistent blog can score 4X the leads than one that’s not updated with fresh content!” Don’t make it feel like a research paper. A one-liner is just fine.
- Put in a strong CTA – This is what moves you to the next level of engagement with C-level leadership. A strong call to action will tell them what to do next. A final line like “Would you like to hop on a call next Tuesday to discuss?” works wonders.
For me, cold pitching has been a complete game-changer for my business. That’s how I have most of the clients on my current roster. I absolutely love cold pitching because I’m reaching out to companies I’m excited to work with to move the marketing dial for them. Once you start cold pitching, I guarantee you won’t look back!
3. Pitch Often
Here’s an acronym I like to use: ABP. It means Always Be Pitching. You will always have a warm pipeline if you continuously pitch. Sometimes your emails will be ignored.
And, sometimes you’ll have to follow up 7 to 10 times before someone responds. And when you’ve really nailed someone’s pain point at the right time, you’ll get a response within seconds of your email sending.
Who do you pitch?
- Companies with a revenue of $10 million+
- Start-ups with serious funding (Series C or D)
- Companies with job postings for writers
Honestly, anyone with a budget will do. And while it’s sweet that you want to help out mom and pop shops with their copy, it’s not going to pay the bills. I’ve found that pitching high-revenue companies daily always ensures I have work and that my freelance work well never runs dry.
4. Hone Your Sales Skills
No one comes out of the womb knowing how to sell. Unless you’re Zig Ziglar because that dude seems like he was just a natural-born salesman. But he actually did work hard at it, which is what made him successful. He was always studying and learning how to better his sales techniques and close deals.
Ways to work on your sales skills:
- Invest in sales courses
- Read every sales book you can
- Watch video footage of top entrepreneurs
- Do practice calls with another freelancer
- Get on calls with prospects!
Sales doesn’t have to feel sleazy. When you get the hang of it, offer real value and solve your clients’ pain points, it becomes rewarding and fun.
5. Meet With Other Writers
Freelance writing can feel like a very lonely business endeavor. When you sit in front of the computer day in and day out, it can feel a little isolating. If anything, make this one of your top New Year’s resolutions. Connecting with other entrepreneurs will validate your work and help you build a network.
Where to find other writers:
- In social media writing groups
- Local writing groups at the library
- Start your own writing group
Meeting with other writers will energize you and provide education on real-world experiences other writers are facing. It can also lead to great referral opportunities as well!
6. Invest in Your Business
Most business owners will tell you in order to make money you have to spend it. When you’re spending your hard-earned cash, it’s important to remember that it’s an investment in your business.
Investments for newbies:
- Reference books
- Mini training courses
- Bookkeeping software
- Website hosting and domain
Advanced freelancer investments:
- Virtual assistant
- Business books
- In-person conferences
- Intensive training courses
This year alone I has about $25,000 in expenses. That included hiring a business coach, a virtual assistant, website maintenance, domain purchases, bookkeeping software, and more. Every penny I’ve spent has been well worth it and has improved my business and processes even more.
7. Build a Strong Website
In this day and age, you must have an online presence if you’re an entrepreneur. If you’re an advanced freelancer, you know that getting by with just your LinkedIn profile doesn’t cut it. A website is a great way to get inbound marketing leads.
A few sections to update on your site:
- Your portfolio
- Any broken links
- Your email list opt-in
Your website works for you 24/7. Don’t neglect this valuable piece of digital real estate! Keep it updated with your current accomplishments, certifications, and portfolio pieces.
Don’t have one? Take these steps:
- Get website hosting and your domain/url
(The hosting I use is normally $7.99 per month, but with this link you can get it for $3.95 per month! PLUS, you’ll get a free domain name! Woo-hoo!)
- Select your website builder to create the site
3. Pick your theme/design
4. Create your content
And a sure-fire way to increase your inbound leads!
8. Consider a Niche
Tired of writing about every topic and industry under the sun? It’s time to niche down. If you are super passionate, interested, and knowledgeable about a particular industry — like IT gadgets, for example — then by all means, make that your focus!
Why niche down?
- Forces you to become an expert
- You can command higher rates
- Your audience is well defined
Niching down means you don’t have to go back to the drawing board and run out of leads to pitch every month. If you cover a topic long enough, it becomes your “thing” and companies will pay top-dollar for your expertise. It’s also a great way to get referrals rolling in all the time.
9. Reject Low-Paying Clients
As a freelance writer, you have to run your business like a real business. That means not accepting free work opportunities and eliminating low-paying clients. Getting paid in exposure isn’t really the same as getting paid. Unless you’re just starting out — and you really need some great clips — skip low-paying gigs.
Signs you’re dealing with a low baller:
- They offer to pay in “exposure”
- Boundaries don’t exist for them
- Glassdoor reviews show they underpay
These clients are the ones who go round and round with you on pricing because they don’t see your value. Drop them, because they likely will never pay you what you’re worth.
10. Protect Your Schedule
When working from home, it can be easy for others (and yourself!) to push your schedule to the side. But this is a recipe for disaster and a ticket to freelance droughtsville. Create a sacred space in your house and let your family know your working hours. Neighbors, too. Don’t let folks impede on your work time.
Ways to protect your schedule:
- Start work at the same time everyday
- Dress up and show up for work
- Close the door to your office
- Set aside free time to play
When your office is in your home, it can be easy to be all about work and no play. But it’s important to build-in time to unwind and relax. Protect your schedule by getting priority work done and setting aside play time so you and your family have activities to look forward to as well.
11. Give Value
As a business owner, you always need to show and give value to your clients. That means making their lives easier, not harder. Turn in high-quality work on time and hop on calls prepared and ready to go.
Ways to give value:
- Offer freebies once a quarter
- Lock them in at a current rate
- Share trends and industry news
When you continuously provide great work and value to your clients, they have no reason not to resign with you again. Maintain a consistent work quality and valuable relationship so they don’t need to hire another freelancer.
12. Follow Up
Prospecting is a numbers game. It’s all about connecting with the right clients, at the right time. If you got work from every client you pitched, you’d be way overworked and stressed. Following up ensures you have a warm pipeline to pick up on at any time.
Ideas for following up:
- Send over a funny gif
- Give them a call
- Share a news story they’d appreciate
- Offer insight into how they can rise above competition
The more creative, thoughtful, and personalized your follow-ups are, the more likely you’ll stand out in someone’s inbox or mind. Sales is about making a human connection, and more often than not you can make that during the follow-up process.
13. Work With a Coach
One of the best ways to up-level your business is to work with a coach. This may be a finance coach, a business coach, or even a mindset coach. A coach is a person to have in your corner when you’re tackling pitches, piecing together proposals, or even nervous about a sales call.
You’re ready for a coach if:
- You want help with writing pitches
- You can’t get past the proposal stage
- You’re struggling with up-leveling
- You want to tackle sales calls confidently
I brought on my business coach in December 2018. It was the BEST decision I could have made for my business. She helped me drop toxic clients, negotiate longer contracts, and guided me into growing my business to 3.5X what it was in 2018!
Start Thinking About Your New Year’s Resolutions List Now
The best new year’s resolution list is one that is personal to you.
What would make your business better this upcoming year?
Find a few goals to work on, and then throw all your energy into achieving them. Then, at this time next year, you’ll have accomplished what you wanted and be ready to slay new goals.
New year’s resolutions will only do you good if you’ve got skin in the game and really are pushing to better yourself and your business.
Try to imagine what it will feel like achieving that goal.
Then go after it full force.
The only way to improve is to set better and bigger goals with each year.
The time to do that is now.
Before the new year chaos hits and it’s already mid-January.
Setting big goals is how the best of the best uplevel in this business, so if you want to grow your business, it’s time to take your list seriously in 2020. Grab a paper and get dreaming and writing!
Cheers and a happy new year to you!
What freelance writing business goals are on your new year’s resolution list? Share in the comments below so I can cheer you on!
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