Today we have an eye-opening interview with the amazing writer, Carol Tice. She shared lots of insight into how to charge what you’re worth (both when it comes to freelance writing and everything else) and how to network properly to land your best clients.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
I am a freelance writer and nonfiction book author. These days my main business is helping freelance writers earn more through my Make a Living Writing blog and Freelance Writers Den membership community.
What has been your most successful marketing strategy to date?
As a freelance writer, I did an analysis of my marketing in 2010 and found social media marketing, in-person networking, and sending query letters all worked well for me. I got one great client through a Twitter reach out, but most of my clients come now either from referrals, seeing my work on big blogs like Forbes, Copyblogger, or Entrepreneur, or from seeing my LinkedIn profile and then checking out my freelance writer site.
For my writer-help side, I keep asking writers what they need to learn about. Then, I create that product or service and say, “Here’s that thing you asked for.” That’s really the gist of it. I used to do mostly $400 one-on-one mentoring but heard people needed something cheaper, so I created a $25 a month community with all-you-can-eat of our 100+ hours of trainings and forum support from writing pros.
At this point, the Den is only open to new members occasionally and I usually only tell people who’ve expressed interest by signing up on the waiting list. So in essence, the blog content gets writers interested and gives them a taste of what I can teach them. Then if they’re interested, they join the Den. It pretty much sells itself.
So many people want to make a living from their writing but don’t get the jobs they want. What is the biggest mistake you see freelance writers make when they pitch their articles to prospective clients or publications?
Most writers don’t get the jobs they want because all they do in the way of marketing is responding to Craigslist ads or bids on Elance. Good clients don’t hang around these places. They don’t have a writer website, don’t proactively market themselves to better-quality clients they proactively target. So they never get ahead.
Most pitches don’t reflect an understanding of the target publication or knowledge of what else they have recently published. New writers need to pre-interview at least one source for their story and most don’t do that. So editors are nervous you won’t be able to execute, so they don’t assign you.
When you started out writing all those years ago, did you ever imagine you would one day be helping thousands of writers get paid what they’re really worth?
Definitely no! I just loved writing. I started in songwriting and live performing was very scary to me, and when I found journalism I just thought it was awesome. When I was a staff writer, on payday I’d say, “All this and a paycheck too!” I couldn’t believe I could earn a living doing it. The thrill never subsided.
Then when the downturn came along I was so angry at the rates content mills were paying. I just wanted writers to know there were other alternatives and you could still earn professional rates. My whole business grew out of that desire to help writers earn more. I still can’t believe how fulfilling it is to help others earn more and feed their families doing what they enjoy. I LOVE it.
You’ve been a full-time writer for quite a few years now. Do you foresee any big chances coming soon to the world of freelance writing? Something that piques your interest in terms of monetizing your work even more or reaching new audiences?
Yeah, I started in 1989. Pre-Internet!
I’m not that good at predicting the future…but whatever technological changes are coming, there will still be a need for writers to tell stories and help us make sense of our fast-changing world. Probably more and more as we go along.
Maybe in the future magazines will be beamed directly into our brains through satellite beams and the Internet will appear on the walls of our homes or in a hologram in the middle of the room…but someone will still have to write those articles. The form may change, but the need to acquire information, be inspired, entertained, to learn — none of that is going away.
And there’s a basic rule — the more sophisticated the audience and topic, the more money it will pay. That won’t change either. If any writer could write it, it won’t pay well.
If it’s about surety bonds for an audience of CEOs or trends in jewelry making for an audience of jewelry-store owners or something like that, it will need to pay more to attract someone qualified. If it’s about parenting or pets or cooking or travel, there’s a lot of competition driving those prices down.
And of course, at this point any writer who is not thinking about self-publishing and developing their own e-books they could sell is nuts. We’ve never had so much power to create new sources of income from our writing — take advantage of it!
Want more advice from Carol? She just published a new book, The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Starting Your Business on a Shoestring.