From the mountain top (shouting it)

Achieve 1

A couple of days ago I announced that I was setting a course for my freelance copywriting business’ success.

Rather than reveal my plan all at once (besides, it’s still a work in progress), I figured I’d just start with each baby step that I’m taking.

One thing I figured out is that it’s not feasible for me to jump in, head first, with all the other daily responsibilities I have. That’s a pretty important point for everyone. A plan, to be achievable, has to be realistic for your particular situation. It can’t be too pitiful, like paying just the minimum due on your credit card with the goal of paying it off anytime soon.

But goals also can’t be too farfetched, or you’ll never even try to reach them. Like, say, planning to make a million dollars on the first day.

Here’s my goal: Initially I will make at least $2000 per month from my writing activities, not counting expenses and such. My timeline for this is within 3 months from today.

There! I said it out loud. Whew! That was hard!

How do I plan to make this income? I am primarily a business copywriter, focusing on tasks like press releases, web/blog copy, ads, annual reports, sales letters, newsletters, and brochures. I also do proofreading and editing.

I know I mentioned magazine writing in a previous post, but after some research I realized magazine writing isn’t best the way (for me) to achieve my goal.

Now that I’ve revealed my goal, let me tell you my first couple of steps.

In order to write for companies, I have to contact them, right? And in order to contact them, I need to have their phone numbers and/or email addresses. So my starting point is to compile a list of prospective companies. I’m using a free database that lists pertinent information, oftentimes including key players in the company. It’s a bit time-consuming, but I’d like a hefty list so I have no excuses.

My next step is to start making cold calls to my prospects. Basically, I ask for the person or department that probably hires freelancers, and then I ask that person if they do, indeed, ever outsource. Sometimes I get to the key person, and sometimes I have to settle for voicemail. Invariably, I get an email address and send them my intro letter and a link to my online portfolio. A lot of my procedure was gleaned from Peter Bowerman’s book, The Well-Fed Writer. I highly recommend it.

When I can’t make cold calls (like when it’s too late at night, for instance), I’ll still make good use of my time by cold emailing prospects. I may still call them at some point, but with working during the day I won’t always be able to make cold calls.

Because my days aren’t structured yet, it’s hard for me to give myself a set number of calls/emails to make each day. I’ll have to play this by ear, but I will commit to spending 2 hours each day making contacts. I might be able to set different goals for the different types of days I have (days where I work vs. days that I don’t), but I’ll get back to you on that. If 2 hours is too easy, I’ll increase it, of course.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be making a lot of calls this month. So far my list is over 2000 companies long, which will definitely keep me busy.

Now…how am I going to organize all of the information I get? Outlook’s contact management program? Excel? Index cards? Stay tuned, and feel free to offer your prospecting hints.

17 Responses to “From the mountain top (shouting it)”

  1. Sounds like a good plan. I’m an Access expert so I would use it but that will have a learning curve. I think Outlook is your best option to organize your marketing.

    Happy Marketing and Good Results!

    • Theda K. says:

      I prefer Access too, but I didn’t buy it for this laptop (yet). :(

      When I get it, I’ll check with you for ideas for a simple, yet effective database. My problem with Access was that I never felt I had the database set up “just right,” but I bet there’s “just good enough.

      Or if you know where I can get a discounted version….

  2. Triphow Ling says:

    You keep going like this, a software ain’t going to be enuf. You’re going to be needing an assistant to manage your contacts and paperwork. :)

  3. Craig Klein says:

    You should search for online contact management software solutions.

    Outlook’s going to end up holding you back as you grow.

    Craig Klein’s last blog post..Getting Real about Social Media

  4. Scarpe Hogan says:

    When you start with a clear plan in mind, you can’t fail :-)
    I’ll use excel to keep tracks of your stuff, because it is easier to have all informations at a glance, that’s my two cents.

    Scarpe Hogan’s last blog post..Scarpe Hogan Uomo Autunno Inverno

  5. SoLinkable says:

    $2000? How many hours a week do you see yourself working in order to make that kind of money?

    SoLinkable’s last blog post..Ted Stevens appears to survive

    • Theda K. says:

      That’s a funny question, especially since I was low-balling my expectations when I said only $2000.

      I’m guessing something like 40-50 hours per month, including billable and non-billable time. Maybe a little more in the beginning, and a lot less (closer to 30-35 hours per month) after I get into the swing of it.

      Thanks for the question, and I’ll keep you guys posted.

  6. Lindsay says:

    Okay, the introvert in me shudders deeply at the idea of cold calling anyone, but I wish you luck.

    I will say that if you really want to call the shots (and have people coming to you with offers for work), you should definitely start a blog aimed at your target audience (people who would hire you).

    A blog lets you establish yourself as an expert and brings in natural traffic. I’ve had people ask me if I would freelance for them by contacting me through my blog, which I find amusing since my blog–while being about writing–doesn’t have anything to do with freelancing and nowhere on it do I say that I do work for hire.

    Also, it pays to get your name out there by publishing articles to the web–ezinearticles, associated content, buzzle, etc. I’ve been contacted and offered work just because people have seen my stuff in those places.

    Anyhoo, good luck!

    Lindsay’s last blog post..Writer Making $1,000+ a Month from eHow Shares Advice

  7. George says:

    Well i found Google docs very suitable for me. They are very easy and similar to MS Office. The only problem could be that you have to be online in order to see, but that is also an advantage if you want to access them from different computers and places.

    George’s last blog post..SeaWorld Orlando

  8. Beth Pallet says:

    Cold calling isnt that bad if you have a script, and adjust the script to what works and what doesnt, then it is just a case of numbers.

  9. hearingaids says:

    You should search for online contact management software solutions.

    Outlook’s going to end up holding you back as you grow

  10. I hear from my grandpa this sentence “Rom was not built in a day”. But is is not relive in 21st century now you have less than 20 seconds to capture the attention of decision-makers. After the first couple sentences, they decide if they’ll delete it, forward it or respond.

  11. credit pfa says:

    I know there’s a big demand for copyrighters these days so you’re bound something that fits you. Good luck with it!

  12. Moringa says:

    I recommend using Google Docs, it’s done wonders for me. The best part is you will never ever lose that file since it’s up in the internet cloud.

    Good luck!

    Moringa’s last blog post..Moringa Oleifera: The Miracle Tree

  13. I too think that you will need a managemant software solution system for the job to be done or probably some assistant working for you to handle all.

  14. [...] couple of weeks ago I shouted from the mountaintop that I had a goal and a plan for my freelance writing business. So how’ve I been [...]

  15. Ken says:

    I found your site while searching for information about cold emailing. Some days instead of being my usual friendly self I find I’m leaving scripted and awkward sounding voice mail messages, and those are the days I think I’d be better to email! Anyway, forget Access if you’re just looking for a basic database. http://openoffice.org is free and contains one. You can even pick up a portable version that installs on a usb key so you can use it anywhere at http://portableapps.com. I have a basic database already set up for my job search if you are interested in a copy.