#042: Answers to your top freelancing questions

I’m doing something different in today’s show. I’m answering the questions I’ve received via my new voicemail feature.

If you like this Q&A format, I’ll do more of them in the future. So let me know what you think in the comments area.

And if you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future episode, here’s where you can leave me a message:

Please try to keep your question to under a minute, and keep it focused and detailed. That way I can provide you with the best feedback.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

What job titles should I look for when looking for content marketing projects in software companies?

Look for “marketing managers” and all the variations: “digital marketing,” “marketing communications manager,” “social media marketing manager,” etc. You can also look for “marketing director.”

This level of management has hiring authority. If you approach VPs of marketing, you’re counting on them to pass your name along.

What’s the best way to approach them?

My favorite way is email, especially warm email prospecting, which is customized, one-to-one communication. It works well for transactional, run-of-the-mill, weekly prospecting. 

In addition, have a hot list of your top 10 prospects. For this list, use a multi-channel, multi-touch campaign over several months or years.

What’s your process for following up with clients once a project is over?

Stay in touch in a low-key way via relevant information. Every couple months, send something of interest to the client, it could be a relevant article or case study or something else. Alternate the medium by calling, emailing or sending snail mail.

When you do this, you stay top of mind. And when the timing is right, they’ll call you.

Do NOT automate this process.

For this process to work, you need to keep good records. Use a contact management system, such as:

I’m spending too much time searching for prospect emails and phone numbers. Is Premium LinkedIn membership worth it? Or would you recommend a different resource?

LinkedIn is better suited for research and as a backup contact channel. The paid version has some great features, but it can be expensive. Some other options:

  • Get a free year of LinkedIn executive level membership: Join the LinkedIn group “LinkedIn for Journalists.” Once you’re accepted, search for “webinar.” If webinar doesn’t work, search for “Yumi Wilson” or “training.” After you attend this training on using LinkedIn to find sources, you’ll be given the opportunity to sign up for a free year of executive membership.
  • Jigsaw.com (http://jigsaw.com), which is now Data.com (https://connect.data.com), is a crow-sourced directory of contact information for millions of companies and individuals in those companies. You can add or update contacts to get points, or you can buy points.

The bigger question is how time is too much? You should be spending some time on this. But it’s better to spend more time on fewer prospects than less time on more prospects.

What are good sources for quality B2B content, such as white papers and case studies?

Get on the email list of the key players in your industry. Make time every week or two to read it.

Read through some of the content on white paper syndication websites:

Trust your instincts to determine what’s good and what’s bad. You should be drawn in to the subject, even if you don’t fully understand it.

  • Circle and highlight the things you like.
  • Create a swipe file of great pieces. Use them for inspiration.
  • Consider handwriting key phrases, sentences, headlines that are particularly striking or effective.
  • Look for patterns that work really well.

I spend most of my time writing articles for publications, but I make more money writing business copy. I enjoy article writing more. How do I balance the two?

Make the shift from a 80/20 ratio (80% content/20% copy) to a 60/40 ratio.

Go after new copywriting clients or get more copy work with existing clients. Make the shift over 3-6 months.

An alternate solution is to become more productive by developing more periods of intense focus throughout the day. You’ll earn the same amount in less time and you can use the extra time to take on more copywriting work.

I worry I’m spending too much time on individual projects. How much time should I spend per project?

Rather than time per project, it’s more helpful to consider your internal hourly rate.

Track your time over your next few projects, then calculate your average internal hourly rate based on how much you charged. Do this for different categories of projects. Then look at the numbers and make some decisions.

Should writers show their fees on their websites?

I lean toward not posting your fees, although I don’t feel strongly either way.

The good: It helps prospects self qualify before they contact you.

The bad: It can encourage prospects to not contact you based on your price.

If you’re going to post your fees, make sure your website does an excellent job of communicating your value, your difference and why that difference matters.

If you work with a lot of small businesses, posting your fees can be a good idea, especially if you’re doing short projects for a lot of customers. But if you work in markets where they “get” the value of a great copywriter or content writer, then it’s not as essential.

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Let me know what you think of this Q&A format by leaving a comment in the comments section.

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Till next time,