Studying, Reading and Pitching, Oh My!

Embarking on a path to monetize your writing in our highly digital age is not for the faint of heart. First, there are experts to weed through before selecting a class from someone who has learned the ropes. The names quickly become familiar as many are seen on numerous sites. Gina Horkey, Tom Ewer and Jon Morrow seem to come up most frequently. Then there are the job boards: BlogMutt, Elance, Paid to Blog Jobs…the list is seemingly endless. It often comes down to how much work you want to put into landing your first job.

I won’t speak much of Elance as my results have been disappointing at best, but I don’t really know if my experience is representative of others. BlogMutt, while paying a scant $8 for 250-500 words seems to be the easiest to get a start with. Clients provide keywords so you don’t have to pull an idea for a post out of your own head. The downside is, the bulk of the clientele seems to lean heavily towards real estate, lawyers and insurance companies. If any of those are your niche, you’re going to do very well and get into the higher paying levels much faster. Another up side to the site is that you don’t have to pitch, you simply have to write a post using their keywords and wait to see if the customer will buy it. The BlogMutt staff is also extremely helpful and responsive when it comes to ensuring that your post has a chance of meeting the customer’s expectations. In my first three attempts, one was posted, two were viewed and one was actually rated. The last two are still in the customers’ queues and have not been rejected, so I am hoping to see them posted soon as well. I’d say those are pretty good odds.

The last category which includes Paid to Blog Jobs and Pro Blogger require you to submit a pitch; a type of proposal, to try to earn the customer’s business. Though this avenue takes the most up front work on the part of the freelance blogger, it also offers larger rewards as well as an opportunity to form a relationship with the end user. This can, of course mean prospective future business instead of a slew of one off’s which most of us would eventually like to see.

What’s a Girl to Do With So Many Choices?

In this, I can only tell you what I’ve done. First, I subscribed. I currently get regular emails from Jon Morrow, Neil Patel, Gina Horkey and Sophie Lizard. I read what they send me and see what resonates. Second, I signed up for Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success Course. Why? Because what she said made sense to me, plus we shared a membership in a Facebook Group so I’d been able to see some of the wisdom she had to share. Also, the financial investment was quite reasonable. I don’t doubt that any of the others I mentioned as well as the countless others I haven’t can make a case for the value vs. price they might offer, but we all know for ourselves what kind of investment we are able to make at any given point in our careers.

Third is to pay attention to what you’ve learned, join groups and boards which are recommended and leave yourself open to other resources, free and otherwise. But most important, you have to put what you’ve learned into practice. I made several pitches on Elance, but found that jobs typically went to writers who had reached higher levels. I decided that for my purposes, the time and effort involved was not worth the return. Sometimes, you just have to know when to cut your losses and move on.

But it was a small business seminar, and particularly, a session about selling which gave me the boot in the butt I needed to write my first real pitch. One thing the speaker said in particular really caught my attention. You don’t actually sell at all. First, you establish a relationship, some common ground with the person to whom you’d like to offer your services. Then you visit their website or find them on social media or otherwise research the person and the company. Finally, you figure out what they might need or what they have that isn’t working for them and, essentially, offer to help them fix what’s broken. Sure, when all is said and done, you offer to do so at a price, but you do so after the person has already decided that you have something they need.

Teaching the Anti-salesperson to Sell

Now, I’m the worst type of customer as I really don’t trust salespeople. So my worst case scenario is trying to get someone like me to want to pay money for my services. If I view my own pitches with my typical skepticism, there’s a good chance I’ll catch things which won’t fly with someone else. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ask for another set of eyes before I submit a pitch, and I truly believe that is a good practice, at least until you have found the formula which works most of the time, for any of us to follow. Yes, it might involve actually paying a mentor to be those eyes, but if you’ve taken a class, the instructor just might help you, for a short time at least, as your success reflects well on them, and a testimonial from you might just help them sell more courses. (Just a word of caution, if for some reason they can’t or won’t give you a quick critique on a pitch is not a good reason for giving them negative publicity. You cannot know what someone else’s workload looks like, and may someday find yourself in the same position.)

Beyond that, all I can say is, pitch and write. Do your homework so you know your prospective customer as well as possible. Understand both their industry and their customers’ demographics. I say this, not only for technical pieces, but for those casual, informative pieces which aren’t directly related to their company or industry. You still need to reach the people who tend to be their customers. The Yahoo! Style Guide refers to voice and tone. You can’t set the right tone or use the right voice if you don’t understand who you’re talking to.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the guidance and information I’ve been led to over the last couple of months.
2. I am grateful for a positive start to a long and fruitful freelance writing career.
3. I am grateful for people who are willing to share what they’ve learned. This is true of both bloggers and writers.
4. I am grateful for the supportiveness of the writing community as a whole.
5. I am grateful for abundance: information, assistance, support, friendship, networking, joy, love, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, www.shericonaway.com. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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