Three Things to STOP Doing Now (If You Want to Make Money as a Freelance Writer)

Three Things to STOP Doing Now (If You Want to Make Money as a Freelance Writer)

I’m probably dating myself with this reference, but I have a Mr. Rogers song in my head. “It’s such a GOOD FEELING to know you’re alive!”

It’s kind of a big deal to me to feel this way, because for a long time, I was very UNhappy, and for the record? Happy is MUCH better.

One of the things that makes me super happy is doing work for awesome clients who value my contribution and pay me accordingly. (By “accordingly” I mean A LOT OF MONEY.)

And I want YOU to have that GOOD FEELING, too. I want you to hear Mr. Rogers in your head and get paid “accordingly,” so here are three things you MUST stop doing RIGHT NOW if you want to make money as a freelance writer.

If you’re totally okay with never earning money — or earning very little! — you can stop reading right now.

On the other hand, if you want to start earning real money from freelance writing, the kind that makes your HUSBAND say, “Babe! You're AWESOME!” — well, then, this post is for YOU.

Each of these things has the power to limit your earning potential, and if you’re doing ALL of them? Well, then you’re going to have a very hard time making good money from writing.

Ready to get started and STOP wasting your time with these?


1. Stop working on your website.

You think you have to have a perfect, amazing, gorgeous web site all set up so that clients can find you, or so that you can showcase your lovely samples and look like a real professional.

You REALLY don’t need a website, and if building your site has become your excuse for not getting work? You’re losing money. EVERY DAY.

If you're in any Facebook groups for creative entrepreneurs, then you've seen wayyyyy too many posts about WordPress v. Squarespace v. Wix, about branding palettes and logo design and “What should my tagline be?”

The problem is that if you focus on building your website and spend weeks and months agonizing over platforms and graphics, you aren’t building your business.

Because you’re not doing anything that will actually earn you money.

So, what SHOULD you do, instead of working on your website?

Update your LinkedIn profile and let people know you’re looking for freelance writing work. Yes, really. Take 45 seconds to log into your LinkedIn profile and change your title from whatever it is right now to Freelance Writer. The end.


2. Stop agonizing over your niche.

I have students who email me on a weekly basis, like clockwork, to tell me, “I’m still really struggling with my niche.”

I’m starting to hate the word niche.

Yes, it is important to have a niche, for many, many reasons that you've heard many, many times before. But do you know what is also important?

MAKING MONEY.

So, instead of taking weeks — or worse, MONTHS! — to struggle with the existential question, “What IS my TRUE niche?” just start looking for people who will pay you to write.

When I started out, I used to say, “I’ll write you a nursery rhyme if you pay me.”

This is NOT a great long-term strategy, but if you have spent more than two days thinking about your niche, this IS a strategy you should consider.

Seriously, JUST START ASKING PEOPLE TO HIRE YOU AS A WRITER.

Would you like the EXACT script that I used 20 years ago when I cold-called businesses in the yellow pages? Here it is:

“Do you ever outsource any of your writing?”

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

3. Stop worrying that you can’t do the work.

What if I send out 5 pitches and everyone says yes, and I don’t have enough time to do everything?

What if I send out a pitch and the client says yes and the work is too hard?

I see these questions quite often in my email. (If you’re thinking, Gee, Abbi, it sounds like you get a LOT of email, you are not wrong.)

Let’s answer these questions one at a time.

First of all, if you send out five pitches and everyone says yes, you are AMAZING, and I would LOVE to see your pitch. Second of all, even if everyone DOES say yes, that doesn’t mean that you have to race through all the work by tomorrow. You can SPREAD THE WORK OUT.

You say to client one, “Great! let’s do this. I’ll have you a draft on Thursday.”

You say to client two, “Awesome! I’ll get you the draft next Tuesday.”

You DO NOT have to say, I can’t start this until Friday,” or “I only have two hours of childcare this week” or anything else. You simply tell the client WHEN you can deliver. And you give yourself enough time to HIT that deadline.

And that concern you have about not being able to do the work? What exactly do you think you won’t be able to do?

You want to be a writer, right? So, are you afraid you won’t be able to… write?

Let's stop and think this through and really play it out. A client hires you to write an article. You write the article and send it to the client. The client comes back and says, “This is awful and I can't use it.

What would you do? You seem like you're a pretty awesome person, so you would probably say something like, “Well, how can I make this right for you? Would you like me to redo the article? Do you want me to refund your money?” You would likely work with the client to create a solution that makes everyone happy, wouldn't you?

Now, there will always be… let's call them jerks out there in the world. Early in my career, I did a big project for a guy who loved all the work throughout the project — right up until I sent the bill, which he then did not want to pay. Lesson learned: I started charging up front.

More recently, I was hired to write blog posts for $600 each. The client would have their engineering team write drafts, and I would turn them from “engineerish” to English.

Great — that's one of my core skills.

But then, as a trial, they asked me to write a 750-word post on a technical topic from scratch. They gave me the title, and that was it. Instead of saying to them, “Actually, that makes no sense, because that's not what you hired me to do,” I said, “Sure!” And I wrote the post on this technical topic I knew nothing about.

And they HATED it.

And guess what? They weren't interested in having me make it right. I mean, they paid for the work I had done (because I got paid up front), but they weren't interested in moving forward with me AT ALL. They didn't want me to refund them, they didn't want me to rewrite it, they just wanted to walk away forever. That's their right.

It happens — and it doesn't feel good. It happened — and it got me down. But then, I got back up, took my $600, and got some ice cream. And moved on.

If you take on a project and it scares you? What could you do? Do you maybe know ANYONE who could, I don’t know, HELP you?

Or go to someone trusted in your network and ask for help.

Put on your big girl pants and ROCK THE WORK, because you are awesome.

Here’s the deal. If you’re ready to STOP doing all three of these things so that you can actually GET PAID TO WRITE, then make sure you go through your workbook and follow the step by step instructions there.

You can do this, and you can make real money, once you stop spending your time on the things that don't make a difference.

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

4 Freelancing Mistakes that Cost You Clients

4 Freelancing Mistakes that Cost You Clients

Imagine for a moment that you’ve decided to redo your kitchen.

You’ve set aside the funds for this project. You’re excited about it, even though the prospect of spending all that money is also more than a little terrifying. Thoughts of your lovely island and all that amazing storage space carry you through.

You meet with the contractor who tells you that he’s got this. It’s all under control. No worries. Everything will be perfect — and he’ll be there with his crew on Monday to get started. The whole thing will be done in three weeks. Yes, for sure.

Monday comes… but the contractor doesn’t.

You call his cell, and it goes to voicemail. You’re pretty sure he said Monday. I mean, it’s there on the calendar in BIG LETTERS.

Tuesday, the contractor shows up and demolishes half your kitchen. He doesn’t really give any explanation for not showing up on Monday — actually, he kind of makes you feel like you got it wrong.

It’s a least a week before you see him again.

Should I keep going with this story? You get it. You hate the contractor. He makes you hate your life. It’s not fun.

Would you be surprised to hear that this is exactly how many clients feel about working with freelance writers?

In this post, you’ll learn four ridiculously common mistakes freelancers make, and what you can do differently.

 

Freelancing Mistakes: Failing to Set Expectations

So often, freelancers sabotage projects before they even start by not setting appropriate expectations.

Let’s say that you close a deal with a client on Friday. You might know in your brain that you’re going to be working on the project on Thursday and you’ll be able to knock out the whole thing in an afternoon. But from the client’s standpoint, she heard nothing from you on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and all of Thursday morning.

Basically, you took her money on Friday and disappeared.

By the time you reach out on Thursday afternoon, your client is frustrated — at best.

Maybe you’ve just added a new content marketing client. You know that you need to have a set amount of work done by the end of the month, and you manage your time on your own.

But if you don’t bother to tell you client, “Hey, here’s the process,” the client has no clue what’s happening.

When you don’t set expectations appropriately, your client will believe the worst of you.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes. For the purposes of this exercise, those shoes can be spike heels or bunny slippers — whatever works for you.

Your client really doesn’t care that your kid has an ear infection, your husband is away for work, and your bathroom flooded. Sure, she might express sympathy, but she’s running a business. That doesn’t make her heartless or cold. That makes her a businesswoman.

You are also running a business, so you need to have backups in place for the inevitable — and they are inevitable — ear infections and flooded bathrooms.

You’ll be able to set expectations with clients if you’re clear on your process.

 

Freelancing Mistakes: Lack of Communication

Communication is closely linked with setting expectations.

No, you don’t have to answer email immediately or take phone calls around the clock. But you do need to let your clients know how to communicate with you and when they can expect to hear back.

Ever sent an email to someone with a quick question only to be ignored for three days? Ever spent a whole morning irritated because you’re waiting for a response that doesn’t come?

If you make a point of telling your client, “Hey, the BEST way to reach me is via email, and I always respond by 5pm on business days,” then your client will not send you a Facebook message on a Saturday.

She’ll email you on Monday, and she’ll know that you’ll get back to her by 5. She’ll be able to move forward, and she won’t be stuck in limbo.

On the other hand, if you don’t give your client guidelines, she’ll do what’s convenient for her and send that Facebook message. When you don’t answer, she’ll escalate to texting. She’ll call. She’ll email. And with every unanswered message, she’ll be even more unhappy.

 

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

 

Freelancing Mistakes: Not Thinking Ahead

Let’s say that a client has hired you to write monthly blog posts along with content upgrades so that she can grow her list.

You do your thing. You write the post. You draft the content upgrade. You mention on a call that the content upgrade still needs to be designed and prepped — that’s outside of your scope of work, and you’re not a designer.

The client gives you some feedback on the blog post, and you make the necessary changes and notice that the content upgrade document hasn’t been opened.

You have a few choices here.

You could decide that the content upgrade isn’t your problem. You wrote it and delivered it on time. If your client didn’t act, that’s her issue.

Or… you could anticipate the client’s needs. Like you, she’s busy running a business, and this is a new process for her, and it clearly hasn’t been perfected yet.

You could go above and beyond and tell the client, “Hey, I noticed that you haven’t reviewed the content upgrade. You need to take a look at that, and you’ll have to get it over to someone who can make it beautiful. I can introduce you to someone I’ve used before if you’re interested.”

Which way do you think improves your relationship with the client? Which way lets you perhaps refer work to a friend (who will definitely look for ways to return the favor!)? Which way is a more premium client experience?

Yes. Go above and beyond — especially when it takes so little effort on your part.


Freelancing Mistakes: Missing Deadlines

Think back to the last time someone promised to deliver something to you and then didn’t do it as promised.

The online order that arrived a day late. The friend who kept you waiting 30 minutes for coffee. The contractor who took apart your kitchen and left you eating takeout for six weeks longer than planned.

You could have the best excuses in the world for missing a deadline, and they’d still be just excuses.

If you don’t treat your freelance writing business as a real business, you can hardly expect clients to treat you with respect.

On the other hand, you can give your clients an amazing customer experience — and truly delight them — with very little effort on your part.

In fact, it basically boils down to this: Do what you say you’re going to do.

If you say you’re going to give daily updates, give daily updates. If you say you’ll deliver by Thursday at 3, deliver by Thursday at 3.

You can keep your clients absolutely thrilled if you simply stick to your word — because so many people don’t bother.

Seriously, most people are absolutely amazing at coming up with excuses, and far less amazing at simply doing what they’ve promised.

Oh, my computer crashed and I lost the file.

Oh, my kid got sick.

Oh, I had a family emergency.

Really?

It’s 2018. Use Dropbox or Google Drive.

Did you have kids when you agreed to deliver by today? Figure out childcare.

Are you a professional — or not?

Look, I get it. Emergencies do happen. But you shouldn’t be leaving your work for the last minute, so those emergencies shouldn’t prevent you from delivering.

If you’re a professional and you want to have a successful business, you figure out a way to get your work done and delivered on time.

Most clients won’t give you a second chance. If you lose their trust, you may never be able to get it back.


Stop Making these Freelancing Mistakes

If you want to earn more money as a freelance writer, you need to stop making these freelancing mistakes and start creating a premium client experience.

Think about it.

Let’s consider two freelancers.

Hapless Harriet

Hapless Harriet was hired to write an article for a client. The client gives Harriet an email address to get in touch with Bob, who will give her all the technical information she needs to write the article.

Harriet doesn’t know how long the project will take and doesn’t give the client any guidelines on what to expect.

When she emails Bob, she gets his out-of-office responder, but she doesn’t read it closely and figures he’ll get back to her soon.

A week later, she reads his out-of-office responder and realizes that he’s on medical leave for the next two months. She figures that her client knows this, so she doesn’t bother to take any action.

Three weeks later, the client emails asking for the article and is not happy to hear that Harriet isn’t done yet.

Harriet skipped setting expectations — she didn’t tell the client anything about her process or what to expect from her.

She was careless in her communication — she took her time emailing Bob and then didn’t read his out of office reply.

She avoided an opportunity to excel. She could have emailed Bob sooner, or at least told her client that Bob was unavailable and asked for an alternate contact.

And Harriet missed her deadline completely.

Delightful Debbie

In an alternate universe, Delightful Debbie is hired by the same client to write the same article. She also gets Bob’s email address.

Debbie tells the client she’ll reach out to Bob, and as long as she has answers from him by the end of the week, she’ll deliver the completed article by next Thursday at noon.

Debbie emails Bob and gets his out-of-office responder. She immediately emails her client, explains that Bob is unavailable, and asks for an alternate contact.

The client responds and apologizes, and says it’ll take her another day or two to find someone else.

Debbie follows up with the client two days later. The client thanks her profusely for the reminder, and an hour later, she emails Debbie with an alternate contact, Elaine. Debbie reaches out, schedules a call, and then updates the client with a revised timeline — she’s speaking to Elaine on Monday, so she’ll be able to deliver by next Friday.

Debbie has her call with Elaine, gets the information she needs, and writes the article. On Friday, after reviewing the piece one final time, she sends it over to the client.

Debbie set appropriate expectations with her client. She told them what she would do and when she would do it.

With timely communication, she was able to alert the client to an issue and anticipate the client’s needs. Being organized and on top of the project, she was able to rock out the deliverables.

Which freelancer do you think clients prefer?

(That’s a rhetorical question.)

What ONE THING can you do to be more like Debbie?

(That’s a real question that only you can answer.)

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

How to Charge More Money for Your Freelance Writing Work

How to Charge More Money for Your Freelance Writing Work

If you want to charge more money for your freelance writing work, you need to offer an incredible customer experience.

In a nutshell, a great customer experience means that you, as the freelancer, are making life easier for your clients, anticipating problems and heading them off before they disrupt the project, sticking to deadlines, and delivering an amazing finished product.

In this post you’ll learn:

  1. Why an awesome customer experience is important to your ongoing business success.
  2. What you need to do to ensure an amazing experience for your customers.
  3. How an amazing customer experience translates to more money in your pocket.

Why Customer Experience Matters

Have you ever ordered something online that wasn’t from Amazon? From, say, a site you’d never heard of that had a great price or a hard-to-find item?

You place your order, fill in your credit card details, and go. And then… you wait.

You check your credit card, and it’s been charged. But you don’t have any kind of shipping notification or update from the website. You send an email, and no one answers. You seethe silently.

Three weeks later, your package shows up in the mail, and you’re kind of happy, but you’re also left feeling like, “What was that?”

Now, picture this scenario. A client contacts you and says, “I need a white paper.”

You say, “Awesome! I can do that. That’s $500.”

The client pays you.

And now the client waits.

The client gets nervous.

Maybe the client emails with random questions, because she doesn’t have a clue what’s happening.

Maybe the client sits and stews quietly and calls her best friend to tell her she’s just not sure about this writer she hired.

Maybe the client makes up stories in her head. Did you take the $500 and go to Vegas? The client has no clue, because you aren’t communicating.

Or — maybe you told the client right away, “Great! This will take me two weeks.” And then you don’t bother providing an update during that time, because hey, you said, “This will take two weeks,” and you know you’re working on it, so all is good.

But guess what? The client doesn’t know what’s going on, so it’s not good.

Your client is still emailing you weird questions, calling her best friend to hash it out, and making up stories about where you are.

A colleague reaches out and says she’s looking for a writer, does your client maybe know someone.

“Well,” says your client, “I thought the woman I hired was the real deal. She was so great in our initial call. But now… I just…. No, I can’t really recommend her.

Your client is feeling super unsure about this whole thing.

You don’t want your clients to feel like that. You don’t want to lose potential sales before you’ve had a chance to make them.

You want your clients to feel THIS happy, all the time.

When your clients feel happy, they will want to work with you again and again. They will tell other people about how happy they are with your work. It will be easy for them to recommend you to other people, so you will have even more clients.

A great customer experience creates happy clients. So let’s figure out how to create a great customer experience and keep your clients happy.

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

 

Keep Your Clients Happy

Be honest: how many times have you said to a client, “Yep, no problem, I’ll have this to you on Thursday.” And then, when Thursday came, you weren’t ready.

It wasn’t your fault. THREE of your kids were sick, PLUS the car had that flat on Tuesday, AND your great aunt was in the hospital, AND your husband broke his ankle, PLUS the power went out for two days.

Guess what? Your client doesn’t care. Not because he’s heartless — in fact, he may be absolutely lovely. But this is business. You promised to deliver, and you didn’t, and that’s the ONLY thing your client will remember.

Your job is to make life easier for your clients.

That means that when you commit to a due date, you deliver on that date, but it also means that you keep the client informed along the way. If the project is going to take a few weeks, you don’t just go work in your yurt on your deserted island. You tell your client what to expect.

In order to deliver on time, you need to know how long your work will take you, and then schedule it out on your calendar.

Let your client know at the start of every project what’s going to happen and when. Be super, insanely, ridiculously clear on this. For example, you could tell your client:

On Tuesday, I’m going to share an outline with you via Google docs, and I’ll send you a separate email message to explain exactly what you need to do.

On Friday, I’ll send you a rough draft of part one, and I’ll send you a separate email to explain what you’re looking at and what I need from you.

Next Wednesday, you’ll get the full draft — I’ll email you all the details when I share the document — and we’re scheduled to speak on Thursday at noon to review everything.

When you give your client guidelines like this, she knows that you’ve got everything under control. She can relax. She doesn’t have to sit up at night worrying about what’s happening. Instead, she can sit in a lounge chair with a drink in her hand, because you are on it. 

 

You Can Charge More Money for a Premium Experience

Think for a moment about the expectations you have when you go to a fast-food restaurant. You know that you’re going to pay a set amount of money to get a certain type of food. You don’t expect a waiter to com and take your order. You don’t expect anything on the menu to cost more than, say, $5. You don’t expect to wait more than 5 minutes for your food.

Now, think about what you expect when you walk into a five-star restaurant. You’re greeted at the entrance and shown to a table. Someone pulls out your chair for you, pours your water, and hands you a menu with a flourish.

You have expectations about the service — and the pricing. You know you’re not going to find a $5 meal here, and that’s okay. You understand that a burger here will be made from high quality meat, cooked precisely to your specifications, and the presentation will be Instagram-worthy.

You expect to pay more for a burger here than you would at McDonalds.

You know that if you take a bite and the burger isn’t everything you expected, you can send it back. You can tell the chef to try again — but chances are, you won’t need to. The chef knows his stuff. He’s not messing around. He’s not making burgers on an assembly line.

When you take the time to perfect your process and get really good at what you do, you are creating that five-star restaurant experience.

 

Your clients will have expectations — and they’ll be willing to pay for the service they get. You’ll have the time to give each client the attention she deserves, and the quality of your work will reflect your experience and careful deliberation.

Keep your focus on creating a truly amazing experience for your clients, from start to finish, and you will be able to charge more for your work.

Ready to Charge More Money for Your Freelance Writing Work?

Once you understand the system, you absolutely can charge more money for your freelance writing work. It really does boil down to creating a premium experience that helps your clients understand the value of your entire business process.

You’ll have to be clear on what you offer clients, how long each part of your process takes, and how you’ll communicate and manage client expectations along the way.

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

Ditch the Feast or Famine Mindset

Ditch the Feast or Famine Mindset

You’ll hear a lot of times that freelancing is “feast or famine,” and that’s simply not true. Yep, plenty of people buy into that myth, but that still doesn’t mean it’s truth — and it definitely doesn’t mean that you have to buy into it.

Sure, it’s all around you. There are freelancers who say yes to every project that comes along, because who knows where the next one is coming from?

You’ve probably met freelancers who fill up the calendar to bursting and work like mad, ignoring their homes and families, and struggling to stay healthy and sane.

A few weeks later, they’re desperate for work, scrambling to find something, anything they can say yes to, no matter what it means, no matter what it pays.

“That’s freelancing. Feast or famine,” these people say. They shrug their shoulders. “Nothing to be done for it.”

 

 

Well, what if you could do something differently?

Picture this reality instead:

You book out your calendar with steady work. You get paid up front for projects, schedule them in advance — according to your schedule.

You have a set number of hours per work available for client work, and when those are full, you book work for the next week, or the one after that.

If you enjoy the stress of the feast or famine mentality — hey, more power to you. You can quit reading now, because clearly none of this applies to you. But if you want to do things differently, there IS a different way.

Yep, really.

How to Forget About Feast or Famine for Good

If you’re ready to forget about feast or famine and concentrate on booking clients so that you have steady work — and steady earnings, that’s great. You’re going to work through four straightforward steps, and everything is detailed right here in this post. You’ll need to grab the workbook that goes along with this post — so go ahead and download that now if you haven’t already.

You’ll need to:

  1. Get clear on your offer — you can’t be all things to all people.
  2. Break down your process so that you can determine how much work it really is — and how long it will take.
  3. Schedule the work on a real-world calendar.
  4. Book out your calendar the right way so that you’re never waiting for work.

And no worries — we’re going to go through each step of the process right now.

Get Clear on Your Offer

If your attitude to freelancing is, “I’ll write anything, including nursery rhymes, as long as you pay me,” then you’re going to struggle to book out your calendar. In order to build a real business and earn consistently, you have to offer clients a specific service.

Think of it this way: You can be Target, and offer everything under one roof. You give your customers lots of discounts and constantly slash your prices, because everyone LOVES sales.

On the other hand, you can be Tesla, and offer a high-end product for the kind of clients who are willing to spend money on quality.

Target is awesome when you’re looking for a trendy outfit you can wear this season and throw away.

You are a Tesla or a Tiffany or whatever luxury brand works for you. That’s who you are. You offer something unique and wonderful to your clients — and you charge accordingly.

Put another way, you are guac, baby girl.

If you’ve been freelancing for more than a few months, you should have a good idea of the kind of work you most enjoy doing for clients, so focus on that for your offer.

If you already offer one primary writing service to your clients, great! You're ready to move on to the next section.

 

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

 

 

Break Down Your Process

Once you know what you offer, you need to determine know how long each piece of your process — the writing work you’re doing for clients — takes you.

Let’s say your service is writing show notes for podcasters. Think about what goes into every job you do.

For example, when you meet with a new client, you need to know if you’ll be getting edited episodes in audio format? Raw audio files? Transcripts?

You probably have a set of questions you generally ask, but have you taken the time to collate those questions into a single document so that it’s easy for you to get what you need from the client?

What information do you need to know about your client’s audience? What guidelines do you need the client to give you before you can start working?

If you’re ghost writing magazine articles for corporate clients so that they can be published, how long does your initial conversation with the client normally take? What kind of lead time do you need to have in order to deliver a polished piece?

I write email sequences and sales pages for online course creators and entrepreneurs.

Every project starts with a 2-hour phone call where I get all the information I need to write an 8-email sequence and a detailed sales page.

Over time, I’ve determined that each email takes me about an hour to draft and 30 minutes to finalize.

The sales page takes me about 2 hours to draft and an hour to finalize.

My trusty calculator informs me that a typical project, therefore, is about 15 hours total.

 

Keep Your Calendar in the Real World

Here’s the part where most people screw up.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, 15 hours. If I met with the client on Monday, that means I could deliver on Thursday.”

NO.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

We live in the real world. In this world, we have children who get sick, tires that go flat, and husbands who suddenly have to travel for work.

In this world, when you look at your calendar on Monday and see three empty days, you have to remember that the school could inform you of an unexpected lice outbreak, or your son could outgrow the sneakers that fit him perfectly well on Thursday, but now they are decidedly too small, and you must drop everything and get him new sneakers right now and that takes a minimum of 2 hours and 47 minutes if you hit all the green lights and get the parking space on the north side of the mall so that you can get into Payless without having to detour through the area of the toy stores….

Yes. So. In the real world, you must look at your calendar and be realistic and reasonable.

On your best days, you probably have no more than six dedicated hours for work (and if your children are small and at home with you, you probably have less time that that) — and this isn’t the only project you need to work on during that time.

You can reasonably fit in two hours today and tomorrow, plus three hours on Thursday, and then two hours each day next week. so you tell the client that you will deliver next Thursday or even the Monday after that.

Generally speaking, for 15 hours of work, you will want to allow about 10 business days, or two calendar weeks.

Follow the instructions in the workbook to block out your time in your calendar.

Remember, you are guac. You are not Target, jumping to slash prices and worried about Walmart. You deliver high quality work, and clients understand that it takes time to do that work.

 

Book Out Your Calendar

Let’s say you’ve booked a job with a client and filled in the appropriate slots on your calendar. A second client reaches out, and after careful consideration, you see that you can comfortably add that assignment to your calendar.

The phone rings again. This is the “feast” thing. The OLD YOU would have said, “YES, OF COURSE!” to client number three. Sleep is overrated, sleep is for the weak, sleep is a thing you can do when you’re dead.

Your 4-year-old doesn’t really need clean laundry this week. Your teenager can make his own dinner.

The work is here, and maybe it will NOT be here in a few weeks, so you MUST accept all the assignments and work yourself to the bone.

Right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Instead, what you say to client number three is, “Fantastic! To book you on my calendar I require a deposit of $X. Let’s get your call scheduled for a week from Thursday — your deposit needs to be paid by then — and at the end of that call, I’ll give you the schedule for deliverables.”

You can change the wording a little, but you get the gist.

You take a deposit to hold the time in your calendar. You look busy (you are busy) and in control. You are treating your business like a business. You are treating yourself with respect. Everyone else will follow suit.

 

Be Booked Out and Forget About Feast or Famine

You can get steady freelance writing work and book out your calendar.

You might need to say NO to crappy, low-paying work that you hate. Yes, that’s scary to do at first.

The thing is, when you say NO to that crappy, low paying work, you’re making time in your schedule to say YES to the clients who will respect you.

You’ll have to do the work and put in the time to deliver quality work that’s worthy of higher prices.

The thing is, you’ll have that time, because you’re using a calendar that’s firmly grounded in reality, instead of pretending that you can do everything simultaneously without breaking a sweat.

If you can get on board with all of that, you can STOP with the feast or famine thing.

It’s completely up to you.

Do you want to focus on creating a great writing service for your clients and book out your schedule?

Or do you want to keep doing what you’re doing wait for some magical change?

What’s your plan? Drop a line in the comments to let me know!

 

Ready to get PAID for your writing?

Watch 5 Steps to YOUR Successful Freelance Writing Business!

How to Write a Great Sales Page

How to Write a Great Sales Page

How do I write a sales page that doesn’t feel icky?

This question, or a variation of it, pops up all the time in Facebook groups and forums where online business owners hang out — and that’s hardly surprising.

It’s easy to think that selling has to be smarmy, icky, sleazy, and just plain yuck. It’s easy to think that — but also wrong.

It’s absolutely possible to write a sales page that doesn’t feel salesy — and that doesn’t sound like a million other sales pages on the Internet. You don’t have to follow a formula that sounds, well, formulaic. You don’t have to channel old infomercials or sell your soul.

You can write a great sales page, feel awesome about your offer, and make the sales you want, all without selling your soul.

In this post, you’ll learn what your sales page absolutely needs to include, plus what you definitely don’t want to do.

Don’t Write Your Sales Page… Yet

Before we get to the how-to part, here are two REALLY important things you need to know before you ever start to write your sales page.

  1. You cannot write a sales page, or even sell anything, until you know EXACTLY what you are selling, and EXACTLY who you’re selling it to.

Super obvious, right? And yet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a sales page with a headline like, “Live the life of your dreams.” Or “Maximize your potential and achieve your goals.”

Dude. I have no idea what that means.

What the heck are you selling, and who is it for?

“Live the life of your dreams” could be an ebook about losing weight, a course on study habits for college students, or a coaching program for couples. I just don’t know — which means that even if I’m the very person you want to sell to, I’ll never know it.

We’ll go into more detail on this in the how-to section. For now, the second really important thing you need to know before you write your sales page is this:

  1. Your motivation should always be that you want to help your ideal client.

If your motivation for selling whatever you're selling is repaying your student loan debt, or buying a fancy new car, or whatever you want money for, your sales page will be smarmy, icky, salesy, and sleazy.

When you started your business, there was something — beyond making money — that prompted you to do this thing. You saw a need, you saw a pain point, and you wanted to help someone, or some group, do something.

(If that’s not the case, then you can click away now, because this post won’t help you.)

Get back to your WHY. Think about why you started your business and reconnect with that before you try to sell anything.

Sales should never be about taking money from people. It should always be about providing massive value.

Your Sales Page Headline

The headline for your sales page needs to be amazing — and it has to include the benefit that people get from your product or service.

Remember, you need to know what you’re selling and who it’s for, and now you have to add in the benefit that your person gets from whatever you’re selling.

In plain English, you’re NOT selling an amazing course. You’re NOT selling awesome coaching services, or a workbook, or templates, or anything like that.

What you’re selling is the RESULT. What a person GETS.

For example, let’s say you’re a designer, and you have a package where you offer 5 custom-designed Pinterest pins and 5 templates that bloggers can customize as needed — all for an affordable price.

Here are a couple of TERRIBLE headlines you could use:

Improve Your Branding

Supercharge your pins!

The Blogger’s Bundle: Unique Designs for Your Brand

Customizable Templates for Pinterest

Nope, nope, nope. None of those will do the job.

Here’s the awesome headline my friend Cecille is using on her sales page for this offer.

 

Hey! Now we’re talking! You know right away whether this offer is for you. If I want lovely, professional pins to help me get more traffic, I’ll keep reading.

The amazing Courtney Johnston has a fabulous headline on the sales page for her signature course, Yay for Clients.

Right away, you know if this is for you — or not.

Your headline should be specific and clear. Save the cute and catchy phrases for something else.

Choose the Right Image for Your Sales Page

When you choose an image for your sales page, go with one that works together with your headline to show people the “after.” What will life be like after they buy your product or service? That’s what you want to show.

For example, my signature course is called Writing for Money. I work with moms at home with kids who want to break into flce writing. So the image I use is a mom working on a laptop with her baby right next to her.

How to make money from writing.
successful
Here's another example, this one from Amy Eaton at AmyTakesPictures.com.

Check out the headline:

Snap, Sell, Succeed.

The first and last course you'll ever need to create stunning product photos like a pro.

The image? That cool camera, snapping product photos.

Awesomesauce.

What to Write on Your Sales Page

Once you have a great headline and an image, you’re ready to actually sit down and write your copy, and this is where people tend to screw up.

Here are the three biggest mistakes people make — and what you need to do instead.

Mistake #1: Your sales page is all about you.

If you take nothing else away from this post, take this: Do NOT use the word “I” on your sales page. Use the word “you” instead, and make your sales page all about your people.

Who is your favorite person in the world? I’m guessing it’s YOU, not me. So if you came to a page that was all about me and my awesomeness, you would probably be a little bored.

Your people feel the same way. As amazing as you are, they don’t want to read about you. They want to read about THEMSELVES.

Your sales page should never say things like, “I'm going to execute at a high level consistently for you.” I don’t even know what that means, but I don’t like it.

Your sales page should not have headings like, Who am I? Some of my accomplishments, A bit more about me, and The reason I'm here. Just no.

NOTHING on your sales page should be about you. EVERYTHING should be about your people.

Mistake #2: Your sales page is full of features.

Your sales page should be about your people, and specifically about the BENEFITS your people will get.

You wouldn’t want to say, for example, “I made these awesome worksheets!”

Remember you don’t want to use the word “I.”

But you also don’t want to say, “You get these awesome worksheets!”

Because, who the flip cares about worksheets? How many worksheets are on your computer right now?

Talk about results. How do these worksheets help your people? What results will they get from the worksheets? In other words, what’s the benefit?

Worksheets don’t excite anyone. On the other hand, if you say something like,

Use the Grab and Go Formula worksheet to figure out which meals will give you the most flavor and nutrition — and help you lose weight — in just 20 minutes a week!

Well, now people are excited.

Worksheets and coaching calls and modules and private Facebook groups are FEATURES. Talk about the benefits and focus on what people get.

Mistake #3: Your sales page doesn’t speak to your audience.

You know your topic really, really well. My friend Rachel is a fabulous interior decorator, and she was talking to me once about how people have a lot of trouble choosing the right sheen.

“The right WHAT?” I asked her.

“The right sheen,” she repeated.

“Um.” I said. “I don’t know what a sheen is.”

Rachel explained that sheen refers to how shiny the paint is. This is something she knows, because this is her field. But if Rachel wrote a sales page,I’d advise her not to talk about sheen, but rather to use a phrase like how shiny the paint is because that’s how non-decorator people talk.

You have to use the language your people actually use, and not the language you are used to using.

Your audience doesn’t know as much as you do, and it’s really important to remember that. It’s not about talking down to people, it’s about starting where they are.

Storytelling on Your Sales Page

When you write your sales page, you need to share stories — the right way.

A lot of people do this thing where they say: Five months ago, I was just like you! And then, I did this AMAZING thing, and NOW, my life is AWESOME.

This feels icky — or at the very least, like you’re following someone else’s script.

Blech.

My friend Qazi at CleverProgrammer.com has a course on creating apps from scratch when you’ve never written a line of code before.

He tells a great story about how, when he was learning to code, he literally didn’t have anything to show for it but lines of code, and no one wants to look at lines of code.

His course has you creating apps from day one, even if you don’t have a background in coding, so the story is, “You can show people these cool apps!”

He talks about how it feels to sit in a classroom or stare at a screen full of code, and how it’s boring and not engaging. Compare that with sitting down and building a working app in an hour, something you can show people — that’s exciting!

The stories on your sales page should always keep the focus on your person — the obstacles in the way, the problem that’s keeping her from getting what she wants. Make your stories about how your person feels.

How to Answer Objections On Your Sales Page

If you’ve spent time listening to your people the way you should, you’ll have a clear sense of their potential objections to buying what you’re selling. You’ll know their hesitations and obstacles, and you’ll be able to address those topics in your copy.

For example, the first time I ran Writing for Money, I talked about how comprehensive the course is, and how much information it covers.

I discovered, however, that my people — busy moms with young children — were more concerned that they wouldn’t have the time to do the work. So, when I rewrote the sales page for the second launch of the course, I made sure to explain that the work would only take about an hour a day — and that I’d show students how to find that time.

You won’t be able to address the things that are keeping people from buying if you don’t know what those obstacles and hesitations are. That’s why you need to listen carefully to your people and ask them the right, relevant questions.

The Most Important Part of Your Sales Page

Without question, the most important part of your sales page is the call to action. This is where you ask people to actually buy what you’re selling.

You definitely don’t want to go through the process of writing that whole sales page and then not bother to give people an easy way to buy, right?

Your call to action should remind your people of the benefits they get and the pain and inconvenience of not buying. Then ask them explicitly to buy.

Yep, you must flat out ASK THEM TO BUY, even if it’s hard or it makes you feel weird. You MUST be specific. You can have a button that says “Sign Me Up!” or “Give Me Access” or “Let’s Do This!” or whatever works with your brand, but there must be an explicit invitation to BUY.

And that button should be the ONLY clickable item on your page.

You want people to have one choice: Buy this thing, or close the page.

So your sales page doesn’t have a sign-up box for your newsletter or a link to your blog or anything else. There’s no regular navigation bar, and nowhere else to go.

Buy this thing, or close the page — those are your only choices.