How do you sell yourself as a writer? How do you convince your potential clients that you can do their job? How do you convince them that you are a professional?
As a freelance writer, part of your job is to sell your services. After all, if you really want to be a full-time freelance writer you need be paid. No money means no job. Starving artists are not freelancers. There is a difference.
Unfortunately, freelance writing is one of those “want to-be” jobs. What do I mean by that? Everybody and their cousin wants to be a freelance writer. And they have no problem hanging out a shingle saying that’s what they are.
Anyone can freelance?
Freelance writing has a number of good points that draws people to it. But there is almost no cost of entry. Anyone can call themselves a writer. Unprofessional? No problem. Can’t spell if your life depended on it? No problem. Poor grammar skills? Hey, people are constantly saying it doesn’t matter. Never written before? Don’t let that stop you, everyone has to start somewhere.
The sad truth is when dealing with a freelance writer it’s buyer beware! And to make matters worse, the customer is often a newbie too and is far more focused on the price than the value. Why? Often, they don’t know how to judge value themselves. And the appearance of what I call yukavee markets. (On the farm we call the dried version field frisbees). These are markets where quality is lacking and price is king.
How to overcome
So how do you overcome this situation as a writer?
A copywriter will tell you that you need to provide four things. The first is guaranteed results. The second are samples. The third is social proof. And the fourth is training.
Your professional writing portfolio helps to satisfy the last three.
The portfolio you hand prospective clients should include samples of your work. Preferably these are tear sheets from actual magazines. However, printouts from web ezines or other online sites will also work. A copy of the cover from books is also quite impressive.
Essentially your portfolio should include both samples of your actual writing and also examples of who has selected your writings for publication.
Examples of your writing will help to make your potential client believe that you can provide quality writing. Why? Because they can see it in front of them. Of course, the closer your examples are to what they are asking for, the better.
In addition, examples will help in educating them as to what they should be looking for in the way of choosing a professional, freelance writer. An article of what to look for when selecting a freelancer works wonders. Especially if it is placed at the front of your samples.
The second thing that your tear sheets will do is provide social proof. Basically, social proof is using the “me too” tendency in decision making. Often decisions are avoided because the individual is afraid of the decision. By providing examples of where other people — in the same situation — selected you and were please by the result, you’ll help to convince your client to make a decision. Basically, tear sheets and testimonials help to create credibility in your ability to deliver. They also help the client to overcome the fear of a wrong decision.