Category: Cold emailing

Make your own marketing materials

Having a successful business means successful marketing, as we all know. Along with cold calling, cold emailing, and word-of-mouth marketing, it’s just as important to have professional materials that you can physically hand someone. Lately, while out and about doing day-to-day errands, I make it a point to talk about what I do. What always follows is a request for my business card. I love my business cards, but I know I also need something more.

When I contact new prospects, I need to be ready to send them a brochure as well. Sure, my website is a brochure of sorts, but everyone has a website these days. Anyone can make a cold call or send an email. But a freelancer who uses a variety of marketing materials, both online and on paper, will stand out in the crowd.

Luckily, there are lots of options for getting printed materials for your business. You can hire a graphic designer and then hire a printer, you can try printing things from your own home, or you can use an online document producing and printing company.

You can create your own documents right on their site. Making your product is simple, and you can type text, add pictures, and move things around quite easily. You can also upload a finished project or use one of their templates. When you’re planning a major marketing campaign, details are important. You can get an idea of the paper types by ordering the samples ahead of time. I like to know the weight, the texture, and how light affects the paper when I have a serious project.

As a freelance writer, I sometimes run across clients who need printed materials as well. A reasonably-priced printing service is a great complement to my business. Besides brochures, you can try magnets, calendars, catalogs, window clings, envelopes, and a whole host of other marketing materials. And yes…even business cards.

Have you ever used an online printing company?

Well-fed challenge – Week one

Phone series # 4

When you need help staying motivated and on-task, it makes sense to issue yourself a challenge. And what better way than to publicly challenge yourself. If you’re game, join me and we can have a mini-contest.

The other day I started reading The Well-Fed Writer (I’m reading the ebook version until the hard copy arrives). So now I have a plan of action.

I started out with my local library’s business database. I did a search for companies in my local area with more than 20 employees. I also made sure they had web addresses, so I can do a little research while I make my cold calls.

Using a free database like this, though, I could only print/download up to 25 records per search. So that meant searching repeatedly. Anyway, I have a list of about 200 businesses now.

My goal is to make 400 calls in the next 20 workdays, starting tomorrow. That gives me until August 20, 2009. When I’m not able to call, I’ll send out cold emails at least, and I’ll follow-up with a phone call.

So that’s the first step in my quest to becoming a “well-fed” writer.

Reading the book re-motivated me, and it reminded me that cold calls aren’t really that scary. You just have to make yourself do it. I’ll report back next week.

Would you like to join me on my Well-Fed Challenge? How do you approach cold calling?


From the mountain top (shouting it)

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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.

How to get new clients using email

An E-mail!

If you’ve been reading Crayon Writer for a while, you know that my primary method of getting new clients is via cold emailing instead of cold calling.

I’ve never gone into much detail about how I do cold emailing, and I also wanted to discuss the anti-spam legislation as it relates to cold emailing.

Thanks to my Entrecard travels, I met a great blogger who asked me to be to his first guest blogger. I was honored, and the article I wrote is up and running. Of course, the guest post I wrote is about getting new clients using cold email.

A big thanks to Marcus Hochstadt from the Internet Business Guide for this wonderful opportunity. His blog has some very helpful information about building an Internet business, so definitely hang out there for a while. And enjoy my guest post too.

If you get a chance to check it out, please leave a comment here or on Marcus’ site (or both). We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Brick by brick

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November was my month for marketing my freelance writing business

I did a bit of cold emailing (as time permitted, considering I have a very busy toddler), and I have a few warm leads as a result.

I also started a new blog, Marana Unwrapped, both because it’s an interesting topic and it’s a more specific niche. (I consider Crayon Writer to be a more personal blog that also has some universal appeal.) Hopefully the exposure in my community will help me gain more clients, and the niche should attract advertisers also.

So December is my month of looking for freelance gigs, while I also continue looking for another day job.

What’s a freelance gig? Projects I find not by marketing myself, but by perusing freelance sites. Right now I only use Craigslist. With access to cities across the country (and the world, if I choose), I should be able to find some nice side work.

If you’re a single parent or sole breadwinner, how did you get started with your freelance business, and how do you keep on keepin’ on?

Worn out words

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I haven’t talked about my life as a WAHM lately. So here’s an update.

I’m worn out!

My lovely daughter is now almost two-and-a-half, and deep in the throes of the “terrible twos.” She’s not as bad as most, I must admit.

But my days are long. Almost everything has to be negotiated because she’s pretty headstrong about–well– everything. Simple things turn into long, drawn-out ordeals that leave us both exhausted and upset.

The past few days she’s been home with me all day (no babysitting), and I’ve started a new cold email campaign, I’m looking for another “day job” (in case the cold emails don’t work), I’m trying to win the MyBlogLog Problogger contest (join my community), and I’m working on a couple of little projects.

Whew!

I could really use a cappucino right about now.

One of the lucky things about my latest computer crash is that I’ve been using my old clunky desktop (with Windows 98!) So now that my laptop’s been repaired, my daughter can play on one of them while I’m working too. That helps, since now she’s tired of many TV shows. I bought her a Disney-themed toddler game, and she really enjoys it.

She loves to say she’s “working,” or that she’s “busy,” just like she hears Mommy say all of the time.

But, like another blogger said, I’m hoping to stay the course. If I can take it.

I’m in sales

If you’re a freelancer, you’re a sales person. And the toughest kind of sales around–commission only.

So if you aren’t working your business like a sales operation, you may be missing out on lots of opportunities. I say I’m a writer, but writing is a small part of the job. When I don’t sell, I don’t have anyone to write for.

What reminded me about the major sales side of my business was a post I found on Selling to Big Companies. That’s something I try to do all the time (and I’ve had a few successes). Check out the article about sales from the potential customer’s perspective.

Thanks to that post, I’ll be rewriting my cold email pitches. What about you?

Humans at work. Tread softly.

As a business owner, you have to allow yourself to be human also. When you make a mistake, as humans inevitably do, there’s nothing wrong with admitting it.

Here are some real-life examples.

Quoting too high on a project. This happened to me recently. I was offered a job I don’t often do, and quoted a rate way above what’s acceptable. After doing my homework, which I should have done in the first place, I realized my mistake. Even though I felt silly, I contacted the potential client and gave him a realistic, fair quote. Will I get the client? Maybe. Maybe not. But I definitely showed my human side.

Missing a deadline. While not a wise thing to do, it may happen despite your best efforts. Sometimes life gets in the way. Or perhaps you miscalculated the time necessary to complete the project. What’s important is that you communicate with your client. Let the client know what’s going on, and do your best work. Ultimately, the client may be lost. But you might have redeemed yourself to some extent by being honest.

Forgetting to return a call or email. I received an email from a potential client I wrote almost a year ago. Her kind note apologized for her late reply, which happened because she put the wrong email address in her reply. We never wound up working together, but her message reminded me that admitting a mistake isn’t the end of the world. What do you have to lose?

Basically, we’re all human first and business owners second (or third). Remember this, and don’t beat yourself up (and don’t let anyone else beat you up) when something goes wrong. Be yourself, handle the situation head on, and move on.

What are some other human moments you’ve encountered in your business? How did you handle the situation?

Cold email struggles

Being home with my daughter the majority of the time, I decided that cold emailing would be the best way to acquire new customers (as opposed to cold calling). I must admit, though, lately it seems this technique isn’t working.

There could be several reasons for this:

  • Companies get tons of email, so perhaps an email from a stranger may be ignored
  • My email messages may go straight to spam folders
  • I could be emailing companies that don’t think they need outside help

It’s frustrating. I spent a lot of time writing companies. I offer a valuable service, and I’m good at it.

I’m also finding that working with my daughter at home makes us both frustrated. I try to steal a few minutes to write or do research, determined to build a business that sustains us so I can remain at home with her. She clamors for my attention or tries to use the computer herself.

Now, this is a brand-new laptop, and I don’t really want a 22-month-old to indiscriminately bang on the keys or click the mouse willy nilly. So we get into some spats over the computer. She’s even begun taking her stuffed animals to the laptop, telling them, “No, don’t touch. Mommy’s computer!” Or she makes their little paws “type.”

We do have some good times with the computer, though. We play online Fisher Price games, and sometimes she gets to type on Word.

Never a dull moment!

I just keep reminding myself of the alternative: working in an office, being away from my toddler for 9 to 10 hours a day.

Even with our problems, I know she’s in a safe, loving environment where she gets a ton of one-on-one attention (most of the time).

Building a business doesn’t happen overnight. I’ll just keep working at it, and take it step by step.

SEO class

I’ve started taking this cool online class that teaches SEO techniques. It’s called, ironically, SEO-Techniques. I’m adding their site to my blogroll. It’s free, and I’m learning a lot. I recommend it so far, and I’ll post an update when I finish the class and have fully implemented the techniques on my website. One of the best things is that it repeats. So check it out.

I so misunderstood SEO. I have a million tags for this blog, for instance, which are totally unnecessary. I’ll be cleaning them up soon.

I’m still negotiating some writing gigs, and continuing to write for my main client. And, of course, I’m still sending out emails. I’m beginning to realize I need to do more than just cold email. I need press releases, maybe an ezine or enewsletter, an SEO site, and some cold calls.

The past few days have been interesting. My caregiver has been unable to watch my daughter, so I’ve had to become quite creative. Working during naptime and after her bedtime has been pretty successful — except for the couple of nights I fell asleep while putting her to bed. Luckily I was able to wake up during the night and continue.

In the meantime, the next several months I will have to investigate daycare (aaack!!) Luckily I have this cool new laptop, with wireless, so I can hang out near the daycare in my favorite coffee shop and still work.

No one said this would be easy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.