How To Fail As A Freelancer

If you can’t do this, you won’t be able to retain your clients

There is a key mental shift that is required if you want to be a freelancer. To provide a valuable service to your clients, you need to be able to assign yourself tasks.


A freelancer is not a full-time employee. Even if the project leads to similar hours spent working, the key difference between working as an employee and as a freelancer is that you can’t rely on your client to know what tasks need to get done. You have to lead the client in the right direction, that’s why they hired you.


If they wanted to manage someone, they would have hired an employee to complete routine tasks. Instead, they took a risk in picking you to help them.


Consultants are great at client retention and although a consultant and a freelancer approach projects differently, there’s a lot that can be adapted to freelance work.


Think like a consultant: what are the unknown tasks?

25% of a consultant’s work is done BEFORE they even propose a project to a client. They have to first create a project proposal for the client, which justifies their services. The only way to truly justify the cost of a consultant’s services is by showing the client that:

  1. There is an unknown problem that they need to solve in order to sustain themselves or gain a competitive advantage,
  2. The consultant can provide a novel solution to this unknown problem.


This proposal can only be successful if the consultant is willing to take their own risks and assign themself the task of helping a company essentially for free, in the hopes that they will be hired for implementation of the project.


A freelancer doesn’t need to assume the same risks but, the same consultant approach can be applied during a project.


Freelancers have the advantage of leveraging platforms to help them source qualified clients. Unlike the research requirements needed to obtain a consulting project, a freelancer needs to create profiles on several freelance platforms, see a list of client projects and requests on these platforms, and notify the client that they would like to work for them.


If successful during the proposal and interview process, the freelancer can then begin working for the client. Yet, where most freelancers fail is after this stage of the process. The true value that they can provide is wasted as they expect the client to be the taskmaster during the project.


In most cases, the client actually ends up discontinuing the project because the costs of maintaining a relationship with the freelancer outweigh the benefits.

A freelancer must foresee and sell future tasks

If you want to be a successful freelancer, you must not only accomplish the goals of the initial project but, go above and beyond expectations by delivering work for tasks that were not requested. A client will only continue a relationship with you, if you demonstrate that the relationship has more beneficial outcomes than costly ones. If you want to be a freelancer, you have to be a self-starter.


If you can successfully assign yourself your own tasks, ideally before a client even knows that those tasks need to get done, you will be seen more as a partner in their business journey—rather than an additional burden. Doing this will not only help you retain your clients, it helps you get an increase of referrals when you request them.


If you have experience as a freelancer and have experienced a client discontinuing their relationship with you, ask yourself, “Did I accomplish more self-assigned tasks than expected ones? Did I do more than what was required?”


It may seem unreasonable to consider doing extra work without getting paid for it. However, when you consider that this extra work benefits your reputation and your chances of continued work in the future—it goes without saying that a client will hire the freelancer that goes provides more value than the one who simply does the minimum work required.


 you want to fail as a freelancer, don’t work harder, don’t consider the unknown tasks, do what’s expected of you, and just focus on the minimum.


Your competition will be focused on what matters—providing value.


Related: Finite and Infinite Games


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Here’s 1 Simple Hack To Improve Your E-commerce Store’s Facebook Ads

Are you selling to people who don’t do their shopping on Facebook?

Even with the most entertaining and thought-provoking advertising, you might be wasting money targeting unqualified users. Let’s face it—some people just don’t trust social media advertising. There’s a reason why so many people download ad blockers on their web browsers and it’s because they don’t want to be interrupted.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to exclude Facebook users who have ad blockers installed, but there is a way to target a more qualified audience. Once your customer is aware of the problem and they know what your brand promises, then you have to determine whether or not that customer is someone who is going to buy on Facebook through some other channel.


One targeting parameter that should be used by all e-commerce businesses is the Engaged Shoppers targeting option under Behaviors.

Even if you have your customer’s buyer persona completed detailed, you want to make sure you’re selling with people who will actually go to your shop. Combining this tactic with general relationship and community management will help you increase your conversion rate.


As mentioned in the Boron Letters, “The more recently a person has purchased (by mail) something similar to what you are selling, the more receptive he will be to your offer.” Why sell to someone who isn’t a frequent shopper? The simple act of targeting people who actually use Facebook to help them shop will be the best thing you can do for your business.


Don’t focus on targeting everyone, focus on targeting one small group who is ready to spend their money.


Image Credit: Unsplash


Categorizing Your Content By Level Of Customer Awareness

You must categorize your content if you want it to resonate with your customers

If you’re a moving services company, you would send Instagram story ads to someone who just recently finished moving. Your ads would be better served when targeting people who recently got a new job—they are more likely to relocate. You also wouldn’t sell supplements to someone who isn’t health conscious. It would better to promote your product inside Facebook groups that discuss the latest trends in fitness.


To be a great content marketer you have to be able to think about the level of awareness your customer has. If you create a video, are you speaking to someone who knows about your brand or someone who doesn’t even know about the problem that you are promising to solve? A customer could be:

  • totally unaware of the problem;
  • aware of the problem but, they think it’s not relatable;
  • they may know that the problem pertains to them but, they don’t have a solution;
  • they know about your solution but, are hesitant and need social proof;
  • they are aware of your brand and are ready to buy (sometimes they just don’t have the money at the moment).


Does your customer know that they have a problem?

When thinking about your sales funnel, try to map your content onto it. Where do your current creative assets lie? If you’re creating too much promotional content, without creating any posts that are promoting the problem—you are missing the point.


Everyone is promoting their brand, their logo, their solution. An easy way to promote yourself, without selling too much, is by promoting the problem instead. If you educate and entertain people about a relatable problem in their lives, they are more receptive to following you. This doesn’t mean that they are ready to buy from you, there is a process for everything.


When is the right time to sell?

Once you have their attention instead of selling to them, focus on building a relationship. It is important that when we consider targeting a user on any platform, we think about when is the right time to ask them to buy. Our confidence level in knowing the right time can be indicated by them following us, by them subscribing to a newsletter, and by them engaging with our content.


All of these touchpoints will get us closer to the sale, but we shouldn’t rush the process. Often times, the customer doesn’t buy from us because we asked them to. The level of emotion that is involved in the buying process (i.e. buying a pair of socks versus buying a car) will determine how long that process will take.


Refrain from simply pumping money into your ad spend and targeting as many people as possible. Showcase your ability to be empathetic to your customer’s needs instead and showcase your knowledge on the problem. If you do this, you will stay top of mind when the customer is ready to buy.


There will be a challenge in attributing which specific piece of content lead to the sale. However, this challenge tends to be less of a priority if you don’t know which piece of content is right for which type of customer. This is why categorizing your content should be at the beginning of your content marketing strategy.


Image credit: Unsplash


A New Transition: Preparing For My Job Search In 2021

Even if the event doesn’t come to pass, create action steps ahead of time

I’m afraid of my prospects when searching for a job in 2021. Just in March of 2020 alone, we saw a loss of over 700,00 jobs. Regardless of the industry, I’m certain that some of the people who were laid off were working in marketing.


Next year I will be competing with both new graduates, established professionals, and everyone who is just as (if not more) hungry as me for an opportunity to work for a team and to grow their brand. So the question is, “How do I position myself to stand out? How do I make myself more useful than my competition?”


I believe the first step in answering these two questions is to keep an abundance-mindset. Even though it seems as if there is little to go around and that jobs are and will be scarce, with enough creativity and content, I am sure I will have something to show. And that is what I need to focus on, what we should all focus on—showing our ideas, our thoughts and opinions.


We need to look past the resume

A resume will not be enough this year. And a resume won’t hold up against another 100 similar ones. A resume can’t hold up to an applicant tracking system that will mark it invalid if it is missing a certain number of “vital keywords.” What will hold up and stand the test of time is a personal brand that is both authentic and exciting. There’s no need to fake it till you make it, but we have to consider what is unique to us.


I’ll be focusing more and doubling down on my writing, since I consider it to be the skill I’m best at and best known for. Aside from other skills I have and new ones I’m adding to my tool belt, I’m also putting an emphasis on being as slow as possible. There is no need to rush my job search, rushing is how mistakes happen. If I don’t rush, I’m certain that jobs will come to me—making this process easier.


If I believe there is an abundance of opportunity out there, it will put my mind in a better place to find a solution to my problem. Let’s see what happens.


Image Credit: Unsplash


Do You Want To Get Paid For Your Writing Services? Here’s What You Need To Know

Business owners still need writers for their marketing

The first step in getting paid for your writing services is understanding that people will pay you. There are clients out there who want to save time and hire a professional writer to create content and sales copy. Video creators, graphic designers, and other freelancers certainly have it easier when starting out because their work does require the use of more tools and seems more difficult than simply writing.


Some business owners do believe that they don’t need to hire a professional writer—that they can just do it themselves. Just remember that these business owners are never going to be your clients.


The clients you are searching for have already acknowledged that they need to hire a professional if they want their marketing to be optimized and effective. The real challenge that you will have is figuring out where to find them. Once you do that, then all you need to do is sell yourself.


I suggest using these places to find your first set of clients:

  • Facebook Groups
  • Craigslist
  • AngelList
  • LinkedIn job search (and hashtag search)
  • Monster
  • Ziprecruiter
  • And good ol’ Google


There are a ton of websites and platforms online that provide job postings for freelance writers. You may need to do some spec work in the beginning, either working for free or taking on writing gigs that pay $0.03 per word just to start building a portfolio. However, after four to five assignments you can definitely start charging by the project or by the hour.


What you don’t want to do is start searching in the wrong places. You definitely don’t want to focus your efforts on finding work through platforms like UpWork, Fiverr, or Guru. Although these platforms make the search for clients faster, they incentive that you price your services as low as possible. They also take a cut from what you make. The better approach is to do the hard work yourself and create a dedicated time in your schedule to manually search for clients.

“But what if I just can’t seem to get clients? I have no experience.”


The best way to showcase your writing style, even without a portfolio, is to create a blog. By creating a blog, and ideally an entire website, you are not only showcasing your ability to write clearly and persuasively—you are also showcasing your ability to promote your ideas. Clients want to see that you can provide more than copy or content writing, your competition definitely has more to offer than that.


It’s important to write as much as possible, as websites that publish 16 posts a month get more traffic than those that post weekly. Writing every day is a great strategy as it pushes you to explore more topics and creates a set schedule for you to practice your craft. Your prospective clients can use your blog as an alternative to a portfolio, especially if the client doesn’t need you to have years of writing experience.

There are ways to get exposure

What if you want your clients to come to you? The best way to start getting projects coming into your email inbox or LinkedIn messages is to collaborate. Guest posting is a sure-fire way to get people’s attention. If you have publications that you’ve written for on your website, it validates you as a professional and it makes you more attractive to clients.


It is difficult to start guest posting for websites like Forbes, FastCompany, Wired, or Mashable but, it is not impossible. I’m personally going through this stage of my freelance writing journey myself.


I have to note that it is best to start with guest posting on small publications that can be found on Medium. At the very least, even if you don’t immediately get incoming leads for your services by guest posting, it will increase the overall traffic that you get on your website.

Save yourself time by learning how to structure your business

As a freelancer, you run a business. You will have to be responsible for every aspect of that business, from how to get your clients to how you charge them. One thing I definitely recommend you do is to create a client questionnaire to ensure you understand the scope of work before taking on any project—especially your first project.


A client questionnaire can help you understand what is required of you and it can help you know if:

  1. You’re qualified to take on the work,
  2. How much time you’ll need to dedicate to the project,
  3. If this client is worth your time,
  4. And if you will benefit from the experience.


I put a list of questions I ask my prospective clients below. I don’t ask them all of these questions during the first interaction but, I make sure that all of them get answered before I begin tackling any project.

Questions to ask before submitting a bid or proposal

  • What are the specifications of this project and when do you want it to begin?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?
  • What is your payment method?
  • What are the hard deadlines for this project? Do you need me to set up the specific dates for each deliverable?
  • Have you worked with freelance copywriters before?

Questions to ask before the work begins

  • Can you describe your business in 50 words or less?
  • Who is your target customer (age, gender, location, job role, etc.)?
  • What do you want people to do when they visit your site? What is the #1 thing?
  • What are the key features of your product or service?
  • Describe your current process for making a sale?
  • What are your current content assets?
  • Do you have direct competitors?
  • Can you list any pieces of content, websites, or profiles that are similar to what you are hoping to achieve from this project?
  • How many people from your team will be involved in the feedback process for my copywriting?
  • If the copy/content is published online, may I get a live link to my site?
  • Will I be allowed to use this piece as a sample in my portfolio?


And let’s not forget the documents that you will need to make to make sure you get paid without any hassles. Most contracts, invoices, and other freelancer necessities can be found online as templates. You do not need to (nor should you) make anything from scratch. Just Google “Freelancer contract/Freelance invoice/Freelance proposal/etc. template” and there will be a ton of sites that provide them for free!

There will be a learning curve

If you feel like you aren’t confident enough to write content or create sales copy for a business, there are many resources available so that you can start learning. Youtube is my favorite resource, as there are hundreds of copywriting and content writing professionals who are promoting their expertise by teaching other writers.


There are obviously books that can also help you too, my favorite being On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.


Whichever resource you use, just know that you shouldn’t use the fear of being too inexperienced as an excuse to not get started. I blogged for five years before ever getting paid for a word I wrote. Yet, those years of not getting paid taught me and I am certain your learning curve will be much faster than mine.


If there is anything that you take from this article just know that you can get paid for the words you write—you just have to use the tools and advice from other successful freelance writers and take action.


If you simply start by setting up a blog (you can start writing for free both on LinkedIn and Medium), you’ll be well on your way to becoming a professional writer.


To give you some extra help, here’s a list of resources I use to keep my skills up-to-date and to help me grow as a freelancer:


Image Credit: Unsplash

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