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A month ago, I worried about being too busy. Now, I'm frustrated that I can't seem to get a steady stream of clients. A month ago, I asked the question on my LI groups (I specialize in landcare: lawn care, landscaping, gardening, etc., etc.) about the need for writers. I got a great response, including some people who were interested. However, nothing panned out, as far as clients go. All of them were tire kickers. I've written two blogs on my site, since then, about why land care businesses need writers, etc., and again, I get a great response, but no takers. Last week, I went to a local garden expo and talk to some landscape companies--but I'm hesitating on calling them back b/c of the tire-kicker syndrome.The landscape/lawn care industry is about to get busy again because of spring. So now, I'm worried that I won't have any work from March 31 – November 30th, which is this industry's busy season.
People in this industry say they need writers, but there doesn't seem to be much follow up….any advice?
On the other hand, since January, I've gotten more business outside of my niche than in it. I'm thinking of expanding my business to include construction companies (I got a gig with one last month to write a press release and some editing), real estate companies, and web companies.
So, again I'm at a cross roads:
1. How do I determine if I should stay in my niche or branch outside of it? Should I be more patient with the tirekickers?
2. How do I get more steady clients?
3. At this point in the business writing industry, is it better to team up with web companies or to try to get individual accounts?
4. And how do I title myself to get more action? Right now, I labeled myself as a "freelance business copywriter" hoping that would cover all of my bases. I would like to specialize in editing, web content writing (including blog writing), and press releases? Am I being too narrow? I need a title that will resonate with my potential clients as well as bring people my way.
February 11, 2010
I know from experience that real estate companies and developers can be great clients, so first congrats on branching out. I'll do my best to answer your questions.
1. There's nothing to stop you from branching into other niches. The ones you mentioned are in a related niche, so why not? You could even tie them together (I know out here a lot of real estate agents have ties to landscapers because they refer them to their clients before selling a home, or right after buying one). If you just want to dip a toe in a new niche, you could also set up a separate website to promote services to that group. Think of it as targeting different verticals with the same services (like a marketing firm targeting several professional groups, like doctors, lawyers, and accountants).
2. Just stick with what you're doing and keep reaching out. Keep building those relationships, even if you're worried about tirekickers. They might always come back later. Keep in mind, it's actually late in the landscape season. I've already received marketing materials from 4 or 5 landscape and lawn care companies. Their brochures and such are out, hoping to line up clients for early spring. I'd focus on pitching writing related to summer services and even fall clean-up services at this point.
3. Neither option is necessarily better than the other. I've enjoyed working with middlemen clients. I used to prefer it. Now I prefer to get my own clients (more schedule flexibility, more direct client contact, and more freedom and authority to handle a project however I feel is best). Both are good options. Just do what you're more comfortable with, or find a balance between them.
4. If you're targeting a specific industry, I'd incorporate that into your title somehow. And maybe you'll want to go with a "content marketing agency" kind of title with a business name over your own name if you think a company would be more appealing to that market than hiring a solo freelancer. But if "business writer" isn't cutting it for them, I'd tie it more to the marketing side of things -- which small business owners tend to understand. That's what most of the writing for these kinds of companies is for anyway.
Hope that helps!
Thanks, Jenn. I think I still want to be known as a solopreneur. I don't want to give the message that I have employees…
On another note, I have heard other freelancers specify what types of writing they do in their titles--but that sounds too cumbersome to me. Do you think I should have include what types of writing I do such as:press release writing, editing, web content marketing, etc., etc. in my title?
Anyhow, what do you think about this title: Freelance Marketing Writer for the Landscape, Lawn Care, Real Estate, and Construction Industries.
Again, thank you, thank you for sharing your knowledge with me!
February 11, 2010
I think that title works just fine. It's probably a bit long for something like a business card, but for your website it should be good. Gets the point across.
One of the issues with smaller local businesses is that we often have to spend a lot of time up front educating them about what we can do for them and why they need us to grow their businesses. Landscape companies like to do mailers. So one way to do that might be to do a great mailer of your own for marketing. Show them you can beat their current folks.
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