October 13, 2017 at 7:52 am #36071
Hi there, all! I just joined the site and I figured it made sense to do a post introducing myself.
My name’s Ellie, and I’m an aspiring freelance writer living in the North of England. My dream since childhood has been to write a novel, but I’m still working on finding that kick-ass fiction idea, so I’ve turned to non-fiction to try and earn a living!
I specialise in mental health writing and blogging, although at this point I just want to get started with something- anything!
I’m still working at my 9-5 while I try to break into the industry, but I’m finding things quite difficult at the moment. It feels like I never have the time to find potential clients, pitch, or even write! By the time I get home each night, I’m shattered, and while I try to do some sly writing on my office computer it’s not ideal.
Anybody got any tips or advice for someone in my situation? I’d love to hear your thoughts!October 16, 2017 at 8:52 pm #36092
Hi Ellie. Welcome to the community. 🙂
Have you ever taken part in NaNoWriMo? It starts Nov. 1st and might be a fun way to play with some fiction ideas without committing a huge amount of time to it.
I feel your pain. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to balance writing with a 9-5 job. Back then I was working on a novel. I managed to push through the first draft mostly on my lunch breaks. I made it a sort of ritual, and that kept me going. But after work, and on weekends, I was exhausted. It might sound strange (and I’ve not officially announced anything about it here yet – and won’t until the New Year), but I’ve been doing a bit of an experiment, putting myself back in those shoes of a newer writer. I’m basically using the advice I give newer folks to “start over,” and I’m limiting it to 10 hours per week, so it’s something someone with a full-time job can do. And I’m doing it in addition to running my business-as-usual. It is rough! So I’ve gotten a bit of a taste of it all over again and can understand what you’re going through.
All I can really say is “keep at it.” The bits of marketing you do now that don’t seem to pay off can have a cumulative effect down the road. If you don’t have a freelance website yet, set it up. Get it ranking well in Google. (I’d been working with another freelancer last year on his specialty and marketing, and everything changed pretty drastically once prospects started finding him instead of him having to pitch all the time. That’s how I built my business too — “query-free freelancing.”)
By all means, keep pitching while you build that visibility. Reach out to past employers, family, friends… anyone you know personally who might be in a position to hire you (even if at a discount early on). Get those early portfolio pieces if you haven’t already. And get a testimonial or two. You don’t need much for it to make a difference.
What kinds of clients are you pitching? Are you only targeting publication-style blogs and print magazines, or are you looking into other types of markets? If you let me know what you’re already doing, I’m usually able to come up with a few less-obvious markets worth considering. Happy to do that if you let me know what types of clients you’re already pitching.October 19, 2017 at 5:31 am #36097
Hi Jennifer- thanks! 🙂
I haven’t done NaNoWriMo in the past actually- it might be a good idea! I have a fully-fleshed out novel idea in my head, and it would be fab to finally get it out on paper!
Yeah, I’d say the tiredness is the biggest barrier for me at the moment. I’ve managed to negotiate reducing my work hours to four days a week, meaning I have at least one designated writing day- hopefully that’ll make a difference! I’ve got a website all up and running and I’ve been publishing plenty of guest posts. Got to keep pushing on, I guess!
At the moment, I’m predominantly pitching blogs and websites relating to my chosen field. I’d love any advice you could give about where else I should be looking/pitching.
Really appreciate your reply!October 23, 2017 at 1:07 am #36106
I so badly wanted to do NaNo this year. I have for a few in a row now. But we’re nearing the end of October and I haven’t been able to settle on an idea. And I’m the type who likes a rather thorough outline before I begin drafting. So it may not happen this time around. We’ll see!
If you have an idea ready to go, I say go for it! 🙂
Your schedule change at work sounds like an awesome way to start transitioning. Not everyone can do that, so if that’s a major perk in your favor. I hope it works out well for you. 🙂
For the blogs and other sites you’re pitching, are they publication-style blogs (writing about the industry or niche similar to a magazine-style), or are they for businesses trying to use blogs either for conversions or to build authority in their industry?
I’d suggest pitching a mix of both. Most writers I come across seem to target publication-style niche blogs, but not the business ones. And the latter often don’t advertise for writers, so there are wide open markets competitors will never know about. So many writers ignore opportunities simply because they only look at it from one side of their specialty.
So, for example, if you write research pieces for an industry trade website, think about the kinds of professionals who actually read that site or blog. Do they have their own business sites? Would a blog help them get their sites in front of more clients (think mental health professionals)? Would it help them improve search rankings or give them more exposure in their field? Then pitch them.
Can you think of any consumer-targeted products related to mental health? Maybe courses, books, guided meditation systems, or something else along those lines? Find things you can genuinely support. And see if their sites would benefit from fresh blog content (or even a new blog where you can deal with the initial content strategy and setup too).
My basic guide is this. When thinking of clients to target (through pitches or inbound techniques), consider three groups:
* Industry or niche publications (from blogs to trade magazines)
* B2B companies
* B2C companies
Once you start making a list, you’ll find the prospect list can be almost endless in pretty much any specialty area. You might even find that you want to narrow your focus down even more to specialize in one specific type of product, service, publication, or company.
I hope that helps. 🙂
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