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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't Shortchange Yourself: Another Smart Marketing Tip

Who's attending ASJA's ConCon in Chicago November 13 and 14 this year? If you do content marketing, or you're a freelancer who wants to break into this field, consider this Chicago event. I went last year (and was on the ASJA committee behind it) and will be there this year as well, speaking on a panel about setting and negotiating rates as a freelancer.

But as of last summer, I didn't even know what "content marketing" really meant--and yet I agreed to help run a conference about it! What the hell, I thought--I'll go and figure it out once I'm there. But a few weeks later, when I was talking to another freelancer who does it, I realized I did know what it was. I'd actually done quite a bit of it already. 

"Content marketing" what used to be called "branded content" or "custom content." If you've been freelancing for a while, you've probably heard of custom magazines (think, Home and Away put out by AAA or WellBella, published by GNC) and may have even written for them. Expand your definition of "content" beyond articles to anything a company creates for consumers with a specific marketing purpose--web copy, white papers, videos, audios--and you've got "content marketing." 

My point? As a freelancer, I've been doing content marketing for years, writing articles for a variety of custom publishers. Not recognizing that that's what it was called hamstrung me from promoting that work to potential clients. Now I'm positioning myself as a content marketing writer, and getting work from companies to do more of it as a result. 

Take a look at your experience and consider how you're marketing yourself to clients. If you have experience that's valuable to potential clients, make sure they know about it! Don't shortchange yourself because you haven't labeled your skills in the most appealing way. 

**My latest 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. Want more advice about making more money as a freelancer in less time? Check out Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. And if you're brand-new to freelancing, I recommend Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Everything Old is New Again: How to Make a Reprint Fresh

I've written before that two of my favorite kinds of money to make are royalty checks and reprints. Why? Because they require no (or next to) work on my part. In the past, I've made as much as $6800 in a year from reselling articles that have already been published. The market for reprints isn't as lucrative as it once was, but I still make several thousand dollars a year offering reprints to smaller, regional, and specialty markets, many of which have purchased stories from me for years. 

One of the reasons I continue to offer reprints is that it's so easy, once I find an appropriate market for them. I've had the greatest success with "evergreen" stories, but even evergreens can do with a trim--or in this case, what I call a tweak. So I'm always willing to update a piece, or rewrite a lead, or "tweak" a story to better fit an editor's needs. 

For example, one of my regular reprint markets recently asked me about reprinting a story I wrote a decade ago. She wanted it framed in a slightly different way. I was fine with reworking it the way she asked, and updated my sources' titles in the meantime--two have new positions (not surprisingly as it's been 10 years), and one has added a PhD to her name, which I included. Total time to do this: 30 minutes. What I'm charging for the reprint: $100. Do the math and you'll see that translates into a $200/hour rate. 

No, you won't get rich selling reprints--most of my markets pay just between $40 and $150 for reprint rights to a story. But the fact that they take little effort to sell--especially if you're willing to take a little time to tweak them--makes them well worth the effort for me. That may be the case for you, too. 

**Coming next post--my latest royalty statement and breakdown. Aspiring book authors will want to read this! 

**Want more advice about making more money as a freelancer in less time? Check out Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line, and my latest book,Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field. If you're brand-new to freelancing, I recommend Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Do You Need to Challenge Yourself Marketing-Wise?

I've posted before about the importance of marketing constantly; it's how you fill your freelance pipeline with work. Yet when I'm busy, marketing often falls to the bottom of my to-do list. I'm preoccupied with the work on my desk, and when I finally look up, I realize I'm short on work and have to scramble. I hate that feeling, and I hate the loss of productivity, and the loss of income, that results when I haven't marketed enough to keep me busy. 

That's one reason I signed up for the eight-week marketing challenge sponsored by Freelance Success, a website I belong too. (Freelance Success is a website for serious freelancers; it produces a weekly newsletter with market guide information and includes active forums for freelancers. It's a great place to find market info, network with other freelancers, and share advice about our business.) 

Writers who want to participate are divided into teams (there are five teams this time). Each team's writers keep in touch throughout the week, sharing pitching advice and ideas, and then at the end of the week, each writer reports their weekly points to the team captain. During the challenge, members get: 
  • 1 point for each query
  • 1 point for each LOI, or letter of introduction 
  • 1 point for each follow-up
  • 1 point for each social media post
  • 3 points for each assignment
While each team wants to win (our team is in second place this week), the marketing challenge is about more than gathering points. It's about consistent marketing, and having other people to cheer you on--which should hopefully result in more assignments. 

But you needn't belong to a member of Freelance Success to participate in a marketing challenge! Consider creating your own with some freelance friends. Agree in advance what points will be awarded for different types of marketing, and how long the marketing challenge will last, and then get pitching! 

Readers, what do you think? Have you ever participated in a marketing challenge? And would you be interested in doing on through this blog? Comment here to let me know and if there's enough interest, I'll consider managing and overseeing one!  

**Want more advice about marketing? Check out Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line, and my latest book,Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field. If you're brand-new to freelancing, I recommend Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets




Monday, August 4, 2014

How to Write a More Effective LOI (Or, Why to Forget the Kitchen Sink)

Hi, readers--I'm back! I enjoyed my monthlong blogging hiatus but I'm back and you can count on a new post every Monday like usual. I've posted before about the importance of a strong LOI (letter of introduction); it's very likely the most effective weapon in your freelance arsenal. 

However, some writers tend to "kitchen-sink" the LOI and overwhelm the potential editor or client by listing all of their accomplishments, credits, experience, background, you name it. I suggest a narrower approach, focusing on one specific area that is most likely to appeal to the client instead. Here's an example: this is a actual LOI I sent out earlier this year that led to work. (My comments are in blue in brackets.) 

Dear Dan:

First off, it was a real pleasure meeting you at ASJA this year. I’m writing to remind you of my strengths (or at least some of them), which I hope you’ll keep in mind for assignments. [Typical opener if I've met the person already; always use your "in" early in your LOI.]

As I mentioned when we met, I’m a long-time freelancer who’s written for custom publishers including The Magazine Group and McMurry as well as 50+ national magazines including Self, Health, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Continental, Fitness, and ShapeI’m also an ACE-certified personal trainer and Les Mills Body Pump instructor, so I “walk the walk” so to speak when it comes to writing about fitness and health. [Although I'm a former lawyer, I didn't mention this here--it's not relevant to him. nor do I mention my ghostwriting/coauthoring work, or the fact that I'm a motivational speaker, or that I own a small press. I don't want to detract from my identity that is most valuable to him--that of an experienced fitness/health writer.]

I’m an experienced researcher and easily translate complicated health and fitness topics into “plain English” for a variety of audiences. I’m also happy to come up with story ideas; working with clients as a personal trainer gives me access to an almost unlimited list of ideas and new angles to take even with evergreen subjects. [No, you typically don't suggest an idea with an LOI, but your willingness to do so will make your editor happy.]

What else should you know? I’m reliable, professional, and easy to work with, and strive to give my clients exactly what they want, on or before deadline. I’m happy to send clips, pitch story ideas, or tell you more about what I can offer. [Again, I'm keeping this short and sweet.]

Thank you so much for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon. 

Sincerely,

Kelly James-Enger

**Want to see more LOIs that worked? I include real-life samples in both Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line, and my latest book,Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last post of the Blogathon: One-Day ONLY Special Offer--and 8 Ways to Beat Writers' Anxiety

Blogathon, day 30! Thank goodness it's over. I'm actually posting this on Sunday night because I'm swamped tomorrow morning and to give readers a jump on my special offer. 

As I said yesterday, blogging every day doesn't sell books. So in honor of the end of the blogathon, I'm trying something that hopefully will. For ONE DAY ONLY, all of the electronic versions of Improvise Press' books will be HALF OFF. That's $4.99 for:  

Don't have a Kindle? No problem. You can download other e-reader-friendly versions (including a PDF) at Smashwords here: 
This offers ends on Monday, July 1st, when the blog goes on hiatus, so buy your books today--and share this on social media! Thank you! And now for today's post: 

I'm an anxious person by nature. That anxiety has been a driving force in many ways; it got me through college, law school, and two states' bar exams, and a demanding but unsatisfying career as an attorney. It also helped me power through the first few years of full-time freelancing, and has given me the energy and drive to continue to freelance as the publishing world has undergone radical change--and not always for the better. 

I've talked to many fellow freelancers and found that many, like me, are anxious as well. Maybe it's part of our DNA as writers, or it's because a certain amount of anxiety if motivating when you're self-employed. (It is for me, anyway.) But too much anxiety is counterproductive, and it just flat out feels awful. Yes, I obsess sometimes about the amount of work I have (either too much or not enough) but I've found a number of ways to manage my freelancer's anxiety. I think they'll work for you, too: 

1. Start early. I start researching assignments very soon after receiving them, especially when they're souce-heavy. Even so, I'm always at least a little worried about finding enough (and the right) sources until that I wrap up the interview with the last critical person on my list. 

2. Exercise. It's the number one way to beat anxiety, and you can't worry about and work out hard at the same time. I don't always work out first thing in the morning; sometimes I run or bike over my lunch break, which makes me much more focused and productive in the afternoons. 

3. Know what you're doing. Don't get stressed second-guessing yourself. Confirm the specs of the assignment with your client before you're writing so you know exactly what she wants. 

4. Get it down. All too often, I angst over the initial draft of an article, book chapter, you name it. Once I have a draft down, though, that anxiety recedes. Even the crappiest draft can be improved upon, but you can't do anything with the draft that's still in your head. 

5. Forget perfect. I use a three-draft process for pretty much everything I write and don't rewrite after that. Rewriting over and over wastes time and actually makes you more anxious! 

6. Mentally "let it go." My four-year-old walks around singing this hit from Frozen constantly, and it's good advice for freelancers, too. When you turn a piece in, let it go. You'll waste time and stress yourself out for no reason worrying about what your editor will say--and you have no control over it, either.    

7. Think ahead. When I'm really busy, I'll put in an extra hour or so of work after my kids are in bed. I feel like it gives me a jump on the next day, and takes the edge off worrying about getting everything done. 

8. Have a plan. I find that writing down my goals for the day and checking them off help me manage my anxiety--and gives me a sense of satisfaction as well. 

**Readers, what about you? Did you take advantage of the special offer? Do you struggle with writer's anxiety? Feel free to comment here...and enjoy your July! I'll bring the blog back from hiatus in August. 

Four Things I've Learned from the Blogathon

Blogathon, day 29. 

Tomorrow will be my last post before my blog goes on hiatus for the month of July, and I have to say I'm ready for it. I've learned a few things from the blogathon, including: 

1. I’m glad I took on the challenge because I’m a believer in trying new things and stretching yourself. I would have never blogged for 30 days straight had I not publicly committed to. 

2. That being said, I hate blogging every day. Every morning I woke up, thinking, "crap, I have to blog today." I'd much rather blog once a week, on Mondays, the way I have for several years (with an occasional mid-week post thrown in here and there). 

3. Blogging does not sell books. At least not mine, and that was my primary purpose in doing the blogathon. Yes, I've been averaging more than 200+ hits/day on the blog. But my book sales have been lower in June than in March, April, or May--months when I blogged four times/month. Significantly lower, in fact. Why? First, I figure that many of my readers already have my books. (Yay! And thank you!) And I theorize that readers (at least some) are willing to read a blog for free--yet unwilling to shell out money for a book on the same topic I blog about. And by blogging so much, I think I'm devaluing my books, and what they offer, which makes for fewer sales, not more. Not good. 

4. Blogging every day takes too much time. It took time away from pitching ideas and working on assignments--and it took time away from my family, too. It made me run late almost every morning as I tried to get it done before my day started in earnest, and stressed me out almost every day.  


So while I'm glad I did it, I will not be doing it again in the near future. I will, however, be offering a one-day only special offer tomorrow to celebrate the end of the blogathon. Make sure you tune in! 

**What books am I talking about? 

Well, there's Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. 

If you're a new freelancer, get up to speed fast with Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Marketswhich is aimed at brand-new freelancers in search of their first clips.

And if you want to add ghostwriting to your repertoire, you'll want Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field--even if you haven't ghostwritten before.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blogathon, Day 28: Forget Perfect

Blogathon, day 28. (And don't forget about my special offer which will launch Monday, June 30.) 

Today's post will be a short one, but it's advice that many new writers need to hear. Forget perfect. It doesn't exist. Don't rewrite a story six, seven, eight times, trying to make it better. Your second (or, okay, third) version is most likely good enough--and "good enough" is almost always good enough for your editors and clients. 

Save time, save aggravation, save wear and tear on your psyche. Forget perfect. 

Your assignment: The third draft should be it. Don't rewrite past that point.