In this episode, I'm joined by Yolander Prinzel, Lori Widmer, and Cathy Miller for a round table discussion about the changing freelance writing industry, marketing freelance writing services, and more.
Freelance Specialties and Getting Started
The girls share their freelance writing specialties and the stories behind how they chose them (or fell into them). An interesting note, all three of them specialize in different areas of the insurance industry (not sure how I ended up the odd one out in the group!).
Freelance Marketing Strategies
Each guest shares their top marketing tactic for landing freelance writing gig. Yolander doesn't think she markets at all. But she does. No worries. We set her straight. Lori talks about letters of introduction (LOIs). And Cathy weighs in on LinkedIn (she's the LinkedIn queen, and my go-to source on the network).
How the Freelance Writing Industry Has Changed
Lori, Cathy, and Yo talk about some of the changes they've seen in the freelance writing industry and their specialty areas, from an increase in the number of freelance writers flowing into the market to an increased value placed on quality.
Yolander made the "mistake" of bringing up Google (and how they did a good thing by helping to dampen the rush to content mills). So I weighed in on this question too with another perspective on Google, and why I consider them at fault for the decreasing quality of blog content in the past couple of years. So if you want to hear a rant about false authority and bullshit advice about things like blog post length, this is the section of the show for you. Yolander also brought up a fascinating new trend in freelance writer exploitation that newer writers should be aware of -- underpaid freelance fiction.
If You Knew One Thing Then...
I asked the ladies: if you could have known one thing when you got started as a freelancer that you know now, what would it be and what might you do differently?
Cathy points out the importance of preparing for the business side of being a freelancer.
Yolander wouldn't have done much differently as she felt the mistakes she made were valuable learning experiences. (Plus, hear the story of how Yo and I met and why I've always had so much respect for her.)
Lori focuses on having confidence in yourself early on -- especially the confidence to say "no."
Advice for Newer Freelance Writers
Finally, I asked the girls to share one piece of advice with newer freelancers. Yo suggests learning to adapt early on. Be open to change because the freelance writing industry is always changing. I take that a step further and suggest you try to stay ahead of changes -- be a thought leader rather than a follower.
Lori and Cathy agreed that new writers should be cautious about freelance advice and find ways to tailor that general advice to their own careers and markets rather than simply parroting or copying colleagues or "coaches."
Links for This Episode
- Yolander Prinzel's Website
- Yolander - Twitter
- Lori Widmer's Website
- Lori - Twitter
- Cathy Miller's Website
- Cathy - Twitter
- Lori's E-book: Marketing 365
- LinkedIn Guide to Little Stuff (one of Cathy's many LinkedIn resources on her blog)
- Blog Post Length vs Number of Shares (a forum thread in which I dissect the misleading statistics bloggers often cite when claiming you must write "epic" -- read: long -- content if you want it to be shared on social media)
4 thoughts on “Episode 31: Round Table Chat on the Freelance Writing Industry”
This was so fun. Thanks for the opportunity to hang out with you ladies. And, Jenn, I soooo have you fooled! 😉
Haha. So you think! 😛
And thanks for taking part Cathy. You all had some great insight to share… even if I did feel a bit like the odd one out (but who knows? Perhaps I was an insurance writer in another life). 😉
I loved the insights shared on the podcast from “false authority” surrounding longer posts to staying ahead of changes. If a post makes sense at 2,000 words, great. If it makes more sense at 555 words, great. Quality content is quality content, no matter the word content.
I too would suggest that freelance writers consider the business side of freelancing. If I had to do it over, I would hire a business coach or mentor who could have helped me set up my business for success from the beginning. Coaches and mentors can be invaluable!
Thanks Amandah! You’re exactly right about word counts. There’s a link on the show notes page to a conversation we had here in the forums previously, looking at the misleading “studies” that are causing people to latch onto these stupid word count rules. It’s utter nonsense. And it’s disappointing to see so many writers — who should know better — fall in line with the marketing hype.
I’m partly with you on the business aspect. I think it’s a great idea to learn business fundamentals first (I actually tackle this is in an upcoming podcast with Philippa Willitts which will release later this month). Coaches and mentors are where it gets tricky. I’d caution new freelancers away from most of them — especially those who spend all their time marketing themselves as “experts” for that coaching income rather than actually running a successful freelance business themselves.
But there are exceptions. Cathy brought up a good one here in the U.S. — SCORE. Definitely check out their resources. The Small Business Administration here also used to have some good courses online, though I haven’t checked in a while. And of course there are always more formal local courses (or even online ones — some free — run by colleges and universities). For one-on-one help, I’d suggest aligning yourself with colleagues who are currently in a position you’d like to be in over time, and find people who genuinely want to see you succeed (not just those who hope you succeed so it makes them look good when selling more coaching services). Just my $.02 on that issue. But again, I’ll touch on that in another show later this month that’s already recorded and ready to go. 🙂