By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning nonprofit content writer, website publisher, and author of 9 books.
These three tips in getting freelance writing gigs have little to do with creative genius or brilliant word smithing and a whole lot to do with cultivating a particular character trait.
That trait? Dependability.
Please don’t misunderstand – of course, it’s important to write well. And notice I said three tips in getting freelance writing assignments. There are oodles of them.
Back to my point. Dependability is not a flashy, sexy enticement that grabs attention. When you’re dependable, you show up on time and do consistent work.
But that may be the very reason dependability is so elusive and so valuable. We all need people we can count on. That’s especially true for leaders, managers, and small business owners who wear multiple hats.
When I first started freelancing I thought the only reason I’d get hired or fired had to do with the writing craft – that is, what kind of content I produced. And of course, a quality work product is crucial.
But clients are not only interested in what you write for them. They’re drastically impacted by how you are to work with. Dependability is a pivotal building block for a freelance business. Cultivate it in a concrete way with these three tips in getting freelance writing assignments.
Clients are surprised when you keep your word – that is, you do what you say you’re going to do and you do it on time. Timeliness accompanied by quality work has become the exception.
And if you finish a project before deadline and do so according to what was agreed upon, you earn extra points. If you do that and provide a few add-ons – like an additional round of revisions at no additional cost, some stock images to go with the article, or if you’re simply pleasant and encouraging – well, you exceed expectations.
That kind of reliability produces trust. Like I said, we all need people we can count on, don’t we?
So when you’re dependable, the client asks you to do another project. And another. Soon, you produce regular work for this client. Your relationship changes and you’re now a team member who gets regular paychecks. The client has become an “anchor” in your schedule. Build a few anchor client relationships and you’ll have a stable writing income.
Tip: Turn in assignments early. Provide extras.
“Who does your writing?” My client was asked that question by another ministry leader. Soon, I had a referral. In fact, more than half of my freelance work comes from referrals.
A freelancer’s job is to make your client look good through his content and make his life easier. Think of it from your client’s point of view: it’s to his benefit to work with a reliable content writer. Doing so frees him to focus on team building, program development, visioning, putting out fires, and a zillion other responsibilities that he faces each day.
Consistent, timely, quality writing reflects well on the person that hired you. Readers see it in his blog posts, on his web site, in his articles and tweets.
They notice. They will ask about you. Then they will hire you to do the same for them. And you needn't wait. You can also ask your client for referrals.
Tip: Ask an anchor client for referrals.
You may think of dependability as merely a trait that benefits others. But what about the advantages for yourself?
Clients have deadlines, which means I must produce. My daily hands-on-keyboard discipline has improved my writing skills. I get better simply because I have to! Day in, day out as I put my fanny in the chair in front of the computer, I’ve worked at the craft. Consistency has helped me grow as a writer.
And if I add a sense to purpose to each project – “let’s see what I can learn from writing this grant application” or “how can a make this appeal letter opening stronger?” … well, then I’m simply receiving bonus training. And the times I learn the most are when I fall flat on my face.
Tip: Learn something from every assignment. On purpose.
For me, dependability has produced consistent income and more freelance work from referrals. But the biggest surprise has been in how dependability has helped me – even by default – develop better writing skills over time.
What writer doesn’t want that?
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