Dear Freelancers of the World!
The gods of the current economy smile on you.
The market is in your favor—so many companies, so many assignments. And yet, you’re not working as much as you want. Your cell phone isn’t ringing. The inbox is empty.
What’s up with that?
You are talented, yet never get past the first interaction. And sometimes I wonder if many of you even know where you trip up.
I’d like to share some tips on how to improve your potential to develop long-term professional relationships with companies.
If you are hearing “no” more than “yes” as a freelancer—consider the following discussion points.
Get Our Names Right
“Dear Sarah Benjamin,”
I have this running joke with our managing editor, Selene Benjamin. I call her Sarah all the time, since many have decided that’s her name.
Selene needs a rap video!
Screw up the name of an editor in an initial pitch, and it makes me think you’ll screw up all sorts of other things… like the name of our CEO (a big no-no).
When pitching or responding to ads for content, check the name of the contact. A simple, correct greeting puts you miles ahead of other freelancers.
Researched the site and still don’t know who to contact? Here’s a simple solution:
Before you pitch, send an inquiry email to a general email address on the website. This demonstrates an initiative to contact the right person, and it signals to us that you want to be taken seriously.
The same goes for: “I’ve been a big fan of Firepole!”
That’s great. We want writers who are enthusiastic, and interested in our vision. The problem is we stopped being Firepole Marketing months ago.
I was a fan of Firepole, also… back in September of 2015. That was before the big, major rebranding happened where we labored long and hard to bring you a new look and feel, and a snazzy new website.
Either you are stuck in time warp, were in outer space, or didn’t bother to check out who we are right now.
I know, it’s time consuming to tailor each pitch letter. But you are much more likely to be taken seriously if you pitch as a big fan of Mirasee.
So along the same vein as getting the contact name right, make sure you get the name of the company right.
Note: Saying you’re a fan is nice, but saying you want to write for us because your articles could bring us proven traffic like your articles on so-and-so’s website is better.
Read and Follow Submission Guidelines
Believe it or not, there are actual people who review your pitch emails, among the 300 other emails in the inbox. We do this because we do want you to pitch to us. We are always on the lookout for good content.
It’s amazing how many ignore the submission guidelines!
Here’s an example:
I run an ad looking for a videographer who can shoot testimonials. In the ad I ask candidates to include several links to testimonials they have filmed.
What am I asking for here? Links to video clips of testimonials.
What do you need to send? You got it. Links to video clips of testimonials.
Your bio alone means nothing to me. Neither does a link to your website. Links to unrelated content are simply a waste of my time.
Producers and editors operate on deadlines. Asking us to wade through a website to look for content, or sending us random material is not only inconsiderate, it implies you won’t listen to anything else we say down the road, either.
You don’t understand the guidelines? Write to me. Ask away. I’d rather have someone take the time to clarify what I am looking for than send me incorrect material.
While we love your random content—the skateboard footage, the rap videos—and we support your dreams to write books on the occult. But it doesn’t mean we’re ever going to hire you. Send us pitches for content we can use.
The most random person ever, never won a prize.
Respect Business Hours
Greetings… from Eastern Standard Time.
I have to admit, freelancers, I feel a bit envious when I see you skiing in the Alps or kicking it in Senegal. And I’d love to hear all about it but not at 3AM.
Communicate according to the client.
Freelancer doesn’t mean you get to text or call people whenever it’s convenient for you.
When a client asks you to call them, this does not mean send them a text. When they ask you to contact them within a certain time frame, this is for a reason. Fast food workers, investment analysts, and Kanye West all have families and other responsibilities.
Go ahead—interrupt me during the battles scenes of Vikings and I will remember you, but probably not in a good way.
Set up clocks on your electronic devices and stick with EST as a rule to communicate. This is one of the best ways to show respect to your clients.
Be the Person You’d Want to Work For
OK. Time to assess how you treat people, because this may be why you keep getting the one-off gigs.
Take a cold, hard look at your past work history—when you were in permanent positions—how long did you stay? A 6 month stint at 5 different companies?
Were you allergic to cubicles or, can you simply not get along with other people?
Bet you only watch this once, right?
Sorry, but being a freelancer doesn’t change that. Whether you are a freelancer, permanent employee, or Somalian pirate, you will have someone telling you what to do.
There’s a difference between not wanting to have a boss, and not being able to take direction. How you respond to requests and feedback determines your success.
Think about it. If you sat in an office next to me, would you continue to email and text me over and over to verify I’ve received your video clips? Your pitch letter?
If you debate every single revision, and argue every point, do you really expect an editor to hire you again? Remember, we need content, but we don’t need you—especially if you are difficult to deal with.
The best freelancers make themselves invaluable as subject matter experts and colleagues. Think career, not gig. Think networking relationship, not client. You may be a freelancer now, but what about a few years down the road?Every interaction with a producer or editor is an opportunity for a career move down the road.Click To Tweet
Ask for Feedback
You pitched like a pro, did the job, got paid, and the client never calls you again.
You wrack your brain trying to think of what went wrong.
Probably nothing, but here’s where you want to take charge of your career and check in with clients. If you’ve shown a consistent, positive work history, you are more likely to receive feedback. It’s easier for an editor or producer to suggest changes than hire someone else.
If you don’t hear anything back, that’s the breaks, but at least you made the attempt.
Asking for feedback, even if the client doesn’t have any to share, works in your favor—it shows you have a vested interest in the project. It also keeps you on the radar of editors and producers as more work becomes available.
It’s Your Turn
And there you have it. While this post is a little tongue in cheek, the sentiment is serious.
We want you to be successful. And your potential clients want you to be the right person for the job and the next one, and the next one…Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do.Click To Tweet
So please, take what I’ve said here, and what Oleg said in a previous post about how to pitch and start building your freelance career.
So freelancers, what do you think of these suggestions? What can we do as editors and producers to make it easier for you to get your content out there? Share your opinions with us!