Posts tagged ‘marketing’

March 6, 2012

A Picture’s Worth a Business Deal

Everybody knows a picture’s worth a thousand words. What people don’t realize is it can get you a thousand dollar business deal. Yes, you read that right.  A good picture can get you a business deal. And no, this doesn’t just apply to models.

You see, when expanding a business people always emphasize the importance of having an easy to navigate website, marketing materials, a well written bio, etc. What they forget to mention, is the importance of a good photo of yourself. Chances are you have a Twitter profile, Facebook page, blog, website, and Linkedin profile. I’m willing to bet that you have a photo of yourself on at least one of those websites. How much thought did you put into selecting that picture? For business sake, I’m hoping the photo of you throwing back a couple beers on your Facebook profile is not the same one you use for Linkedin. That is definitely not good for business. But if it is your photo on your professional networks, you may be one to something. Why? Because it’s interesting. A photo of you with a couple of beers may not showcase you in the best light but it will get people talking. And you want people talking to you and about you to other people. Of course, you’d prefer they talk about you in good terms (and that photo may not help) but at least they are talking.

Interesting photos get people to talk and keep you in the buzz. That means it may be a good idea to shy away from the graduation type photo of you with a cheesy grin on your face. It doesn’t say anything about you other than you are happy to graduate. A good business photo shows your personality and/or something of interest. It’s got to be slightly different. You want it to capture attention while not venturing too far away from your true colors. After all, people don’t hire a business. They hire a person – a person with a personality they like. So a profile photo is a great way to showcase that winning personality of yours.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many business owners chatted me up just because my photo intrigued them. 

It’s nothing special. My guess is the sly smile, outdoors background, body positioning and coffee mug comes off as warm and very inviting to most people. I tend to get the most comments about the coffee mug. In fact, I tend to get a lot of LinkedIn messages complimenting me on the choice of photo and ask what inspired me to include a coffee mug. Others say, the soft smile and direct eye contact is very captivating and inviting. The most common comment: “I love that smile and coffee mug. What a great marketing ploy!” Next thing I know, I’m drafting a contract for a new client ready to take advantage of my copywriting services or looking at someone ready and willing to refer me thanks to my fabulous “photo marketing ploy”! So what makes a great business photo? I’m no expert but in my experience a great photo for business purposes does the following things:

1. Shows your personality.

2. Intrigues your target audience.

3. Inspires conversation.

If you are completely lost when it comes to your own photo, take a cue from me.  Experiment with props. Take the photo shoot outdoors or search for interesting backgrounds. Work on a stimulating facial expression. You’d be surprised what you might come up with. But whatever you do, make sure you stick to your true colors!

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January 24, 2012

How I Learned to Love Marketing

Marketing. It’s a word that scares most entrepreneuers and a word I admittedly knew nothing about when I started out. When I first started my writing business I knew nothing about how to adequately market my services. So I did what any young entrepreneur  in the technology age would do. I slapped together a website and portfolio and published it. Then I sat back and waited for the prospects to come running. The only problem was the people didn’t come running. It was more like a trickling of prospects a few times a month. So I decided it was time for a change and time to revamp my marketing strategy.

After doing some research, I found  the words that stuck out the most were social networking and cold calling. So naturally, I drafted a marketing plan that included Facebook and cold calling various businesses in the area. I even threw in some direct mail. Although I had some successes, the problem was I hated every minute of it. I have NEVER been a fan of Facebook and the idea of calling random people to sell them on my services was extremely nerve wracking. As a result, I struggled to push myself to actually do the marketing I planned on. But the I more I did it, the more I hated it. Until one day I asked myself why I was doing it. I was obviously marketing to expand my business, but why did I have to torture myself in the process?

The whole reason why I quit my job to pursue writing was so I would no longer have to do the work I hated. I  could actually LOVE what I do for a living. Wouldn’t taking on marketing projects I hate defeat the purpose? There was no reason for me to continue to dread marketing when no one was forcing me to do it. So I promptly discontinued the cold calls, direct mail, and Facebook to begin a hunt for different marketing strategies I could actually love or at least learn to love.

After I waded through Tumblr, email marketing, and Twitter I finally found my holy grail: In-person marketing and blogging. I also learned to love LinkedIn. Considering I work from home, I jump at the chance to leave the house and socialize with outsiders. And it only made sense to start a blog since I make a living as a writer. What’s funny is the choices seem so obvious now. I can’t believe it took me almost a year to figure this out. Ever since I implemented these tactics into my marketing strategy, I no longer struggle to make time for marketing because it doesn’t feel like work anymore. I actually enjoy doing it. I guess you can say I stopped marketing  since the strategies I chose tend to be fun. And can you believe I yield much better success rates now that I love how I choose to market. Guess my mom was right – Do what you love and the money will come!

It took me almost 12 months of hating my efforts to realize, if I don’t like something I should change it.

Did you have a similar situation? How do you market yourself or business? 

January 8, 2012

How Did You Get Your Start as a Freelance Writer?

It’s a question I get asked frequently. In fact, I get asked so often that if I had a dollar for everytime someone asked me that question, I’d have one million dollars. Ok, maybe it’s not that much, but you get the picture. The point is I get asked so much that it made sense for me to write a blog post about it.

Oddly enough, I’ve always wanted to be a freelance writer. As a child and through out college I never wanted to work for anybody else. I have always had a creative and entrepreneurial spirit so making the decision to freelance was not a tough one. However, that does not mean that it wasn’t difficult to get started. The most difficult part about starting a freelance career is actually taking the plunge. It’s easy to say you are going to do something, but it’s not easy to actually do it. After holding a handful of internships, keeping several jobs, and listening to the naysayers I finally decided to take the risk of being a full-time freelance writer.

The truth is I had already been freelancing for years. However, it was a big step to quit a job with a cushy paycheck to go the freelance route. Because I had been freelancing part-time consistently I already had some clients. The first writing job I took was for Demand Studios. (I know, I know. Content mills are the devil) However, at the time I wasn’t even aware of what a “content mill” actually was. My main concern was finding work and getting paid for it so I could build up my portfolio. It didn’t take me long to learn the error of my ways. After my first and only $15 article, I realized it wasn’t worth it. It was way too much hassle for too little pay and it didn’t help develop skills in anyway . And a major insult to professional writers

I moved on to a beauty website I saw advertising for writers on the web. The pay was better – $50 per story. However, the editor was still too demanding for such little pay. It wasn’t worth it. However, I hung on to the gig for a few months because I was adding valuable clips to my portfolio.

After writing for the beauty website for six months, I moved on and began getting work the old fashioned way – Pitching. I learned the hard way that it is highly unlikely to get valuable experience and decent pay from job ads posted online. And so my writing business began. I would do research or come up with an idea, pitch it to a magazine, rinse and repeat. It wasn’t long until I realized the waiting period between actually writing the article and it actually getting published was too long. Unless you negotiate for payment on acceptance, it can take months till you actually see the fruits of your labor. As a result, I turned to commercial writing.

My first course of action was to vamp up my professional website, and fill my Linkedin profile with tons of keywords to get the attention of local businesses. Next I researched small to mid-sized businesses I was interested in working with and sent them a letter of introduction along with some writing samples. Luckily, I got some bites, wowed them with my business savvy, and closed the deal.  Most importantly I churned out great work and encouraged them to refer me to others. Repeat business is what keeps my freelance writing business alive and well.

I know some of you are wondering how you are going to accomplish what I did without a background in writing or any writing samples. Luckily, I’ve broken it down into six easy steps  for you.

1. Start writing. Even if you don’t have clients, write a feature article, create a newsletter for a mock business, start a blog, etc.

2. Display what you wrote in a portfolio, website, etc.

3. Identify target companies and contact them. Be prepared to show them your writing samples when asked.

4 .Do your research. Read books about writing, follow writing blogs, and contact those who are in your field. Check out my TERRIfic Things page for some great writing resources.

5. Market yourself like crazy to get the word out about your writing business.

6. Do great work and encourage referrals.