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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tips from ASJA ConCon 2014



First off, thanks to my readers who participated in the one-day only $0.99 sale last Wednesday, November 19! I sold 177 copes of Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets, Second Edition and 40 copies of other ebooks. 

Here's what happened on Amazon:  
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing Guides > Writing Skills
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Entrepreneurship & Small Business > Small Business
#6 in Books > Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing Guides > Writing > Writing Skills

So that was very cool, and I hope I've gained a few more readers! Thanks again! 

***
Were you at ASJA's Con Con earlier this month in Chicago? If not, you missed out on a great conference that was loaded with smart, insightful speakers geared toward writers who produce content for clients. 

Here's a roundup of some of the take-aways from keynoter Jay Heinrichs, author of Thank You for Arguing (who was a great speaker--engaging, funny, and prepared) made the point that in 1865, writer Henry James was getting paid $1/word. Today that's the standard for many publications, today too, but the cost of living has increased by a factor of 21since then. Yikes! 

You only want to write? Change your thinking. "In the past, publishers would have audiences for us...today we're all expected to be marketers," said Heinrich. 

Content is king, and going to continue to be. "Eighty-one percent of companies plan to shift their budges to spend more on content and new member experiences," he said. [And if you're not pursuing this kind of work, why not?]

Heinrich talked about the "decision journey" of engagement customers take--ideally, they travel from awareness to consideration to preference to purchase to loyalty. As a content writer, you want to help move them along that journey and help them become loyal to the brand you're representing. 

KPIs, or "key performance indicators" or metrics, are how the success of content is measured. Knowing what KPIs your client is tracking--and what their goals are--will help you succeed as a content writer. 

Heinrichs had 15 specific ideas that freelancers could try to succeed in today's market:  

1. Become an influencer. An influencer brings something--market reach, expertise, persuasiveness--that a client values. And companies pay $200 to $200,000 to have an influencer write about or represent a product or service. 
2. Find a "tiny niche," which Heinrichs describes as including 100,000 to 400,000 people. 
3. Gain legitimacy with a book. 
4. Collaborate. 
5. Start a publishing company
6. Network. 
7. Become a remora. (In other words, hook on to someone successful and go along for the ride.) 
8. Pursue an issue. 
9. Become a speaker. 
10. Pursue your passion--and work a real job in the meantime. 
11. Teach. 
12. Gather a video audience. And writers who can write for and edit video are going to be so in demand, in fact, that Heinrichs suggested writers that every writer learn FinalCut, a video editing program. (It's on my to-do list.) 
13. Diversify. 
14. Work for karma. 
15. Find your own great story. 

I gleaned some other tips from ConCon which I'll share in another post. In the meantime, if you're thinking about doing ghostwriting or content marketing, check out Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs, and More, Second Edition.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's HERE! The One-Day-Only $0.99 Sale!

The one-day-only $0.99 sale is here. For 24 hours (and 24 hours only), you'll be able to buy 12 different freelance books (including one of mine) that will help you make MORE MONEY as a freelance writer. You'll find books by authors including Carol Tice, Linda Formichelli, Diana Burrell, and Jennifer Lawler--and you'll save 1000% (or more) when you buy these books today.

This special offer ends at midnight, November 20, so what are you waiting for? Spend some money and reap the rewards of your (frugal) investment!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Coming This Wednesday--Great Deal on Freelancing Books!

I'm participating in a one-day only special promotion with several other successful freelancing authors...it will launch and run on Wednesday, November 19, ONLY...stay tuned for details! 


Monday, November 3, 2014

The Essential Element Every LOI Needs

I've posted before about the importance of an effective letter of introduction, or LOI. It's an essential weapon in your freelance arsenal, and can be just as effective, if not more so, than a query letter

However.

There is no one-size-fits-all LOI. And even if you have a template for an LOI, you should never send the same LOI to two different markets. You must customize your LOI the same way you would customize a query letter--and that means including the most essential element in your LOI.

That element is this: why you are contacting the potential market. 

I know, I know. You want money. You want work. You want clients. That's the reason you sent your LOI. Duh! 

But that's not enough for your target market. You must have a reason that works for him or her--and that reason will make the difference between an LOI that gets deleted or ignored, and one that prompts a response. 

Here's an example from one of my LOIs: "I'm contacting you because I know you produce nutrition-related content for a variety of clients, and I've written about diet and nutrition for a variety of consumer and custom publications." 

The "why" can make all the difference to your potential client...and to your future with this client. 

**Want to see more examples of LOIs that worked? Check out the ones included in Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition and Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs, and More, Second Edition

Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Hire a Ghostwriter: 8 Smart Questions to Ask

I've written many times about why I started ghostwriting more than a decade ago. One of the primary reasons is simple--the demand for ghostwriters. The market is strong, and continuing to grow, and that's good news for ghosts.

But what about the would-be book author who wants to hire a ghost? If that's you, what should you ask? You can post an ad on craigslist and you'll be inundated with responses, but how do you actually decide who to hire?

I suggest asking questions like the following:

1. How many books have you ghostwritten or coauthored? Generally, the more experience the better.

2. How many different publishers have you worked with? Again, it's nice to have a ghost who has written with a half-dozen publishers, or more. Every editor and every house is different, so a ghost who has worked with different ones has more experience pleasing different editors--and meeting their requirements--than someone with less experience.

3. What types of books have you ghosted? If you're planning to opt for POD, it makes sense to hire a ghost who has written books published by POD companies. An experienced ghost can also advise you on the right publishing package to buy from a POD company--and which things, like YouTube videos costing thousands of dollars to help "promote" your book, you're better off skipping.

4. What kind of work can your ghost perform for you? Can he conduct interviews and background research, if you need him to? Can he find studies? Does he know how to interpret research in your field?

5. How much does he charge? I've seen a trend (disturbing to a ghost like myself) of clients wanting to pay as little as possible for a book. Well, you get what you pay for. Depending on the scope of work, ghosts typically charge in the range of $10,000 to $45,000 to ghostwrite a book. If you think you'll find someone who will do it for significantly less than that (and forget about working for a "share of royalties" or some other nebulous promise), you can expect less-than-professional work.

6. Can he show you samples? While your voice is unique and a ghost will capture it, it is helpful to see books that he's ghosted before. Ideally you want him to have experience writing in your genre or about your specialty.

7. What's his background? One of the reasons I ghost books about health and wellness, fitness, and nutrition is because I've been writing about those subjects for more than 17 years. I'm a personal trainer and I know much more about fitness than the average writer--that gives me a leg up on a ghost who's just as experienced, but in different areas.

8. Do you "click" with this person? Your ghost isn't just a writer--he's a partner to help your book come alive. You should feel comfortable talking and working with the person--if you don't "click," I'd continue searching for the right ghost for your project.

**Kelly James-Enger ghostwrites books for a variety of clients, primarily those in the health, fitness, wellness, and nutrition fields. She's also the author of Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More

Monday, October 20, 2014

5 Things to Know Before You Freelance Full-time

Last week's post was aimed at brand-new freelancers. Today's is at those considering transitioning from part-time to full-time. Here are five things that every freelancer who wants to go full-time should know:

1.You cannot save enough money. Okay, I don't mean this literally. What I do mean is that you should save as much as you can. I saved six months' worth of living expenses during the year that i was freelancing part-time (and still working 40+-hour weeks as a lawyer), and trust me--I wish I would have saved more. Aim for at least six month's worth of living expenses--and pay down your debt (credit cards, car payments, student loan payments) as much as you can while you're still employed.

2. It will take you longer than you think to get assignments. Unless you've built up a stable of regular clients already, you'll spend much of your time as a new full-time freelancer pursuing clients and assignments. And all that marketing takes a lot of time. Yes, you can pitch like crazy, but you can't make editors assign work to you any faster.

3. Corollary to #2: It will take you longer than you think to get paid. After you actually get an assignment, you have to complete it to the client's satisfaction. Then you get paid...sometimes eventually. Getting paid 30 days, even 45 after acceptance isn't unusual, so recognize that while your accounts payable may be sizable, you can't control when they're collected.

4. You'll face unexpected expenses. Trust me--that money you set aside will be spent more quickly than you realize. A good friend gets married--you need to buy a gift. Your car breaks down. You discover that you need a root canal. Unexpected bills like this can blow your budget, especially when you're not relying on a paycheck. (And that's another reason to sock money away before you go full-time freelance.)

5. You'll doubt yourself. Making the transition from relying on a regular paycheck to to freelancing is stressful. After a week or two of continual marketing--yet no assignments--you may be waking up every morning filled with dread. Recognize that this kind of emotional up-and-down (mostly downs) is part of being self-employed. Focusing on what you can do--searching for clients, sending out targeted queries and letters of introduction, honing your skills, and spreading the word about your freelance work--will help buoy you when you're feeling scared, or anxious, or full of self-doubt. 

This isn't meant to dissuade you from freelancing full-rather--rather, it's to help you succeed as a freelancer, both in the short- and long-term. Next post I'll talk more about making the transition from part- to full-time. 

**Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition is a freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line; it's a great tool to help you go from part- to full-time. My newest  book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, shows writers how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field. And if you're brand-new to freelancing, I recommend Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets. It walks you through 10 actual articles for different markets; how I pitched, researched, and wrote them; and includes advice on contracts and building your business from scratch. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

For New Writers Only: My Best Advice

Today's post was spurred by a question from a brand-new freelancer. He asked what one piece of advice I would offer to new freelancers. 

My advice? 

Pitch a market you know. 

When you're a new freelancer, you don't have clips or connections yet. What may set your query apart--and lead to your first assignment--is your knowledge of the publication you want to write for. First, pitch an idea that will fit with that market. Make sure that it's the type of story the publication would run--and that it hasn't been covered in the last few issues. 

Then, showcase that knowledge in your pitch by saying something like, "Interested in this for your 'Breaking News' department?" Or, "I enjoyed your recent piece on ways to cook with beets, injuries, and plan to take a similar approach with my piece on rutabagas." 

You're letting the editor know you've studied her market--and editors love that. That's how I got my foot in the door as a newbie freelancer--and it will work for you, too. 

**If you're brand-new to freelancing, I recommend Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets. It walks you through 10 actual articles for different markets; how I pitched, researched, and wrote them; and includes advice on contracts and building your business from scratch. Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition is a freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. And my newest  book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, shows writers how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field.