Sales Techniques For Landing a Writing Assignment

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Article by Wendy McCance

Are you looking to break into writing but are unsure of how to begin?  Have you been turned off by content mills?  Is your dream to write for a company?  If so, I would like to share with you the way I have gotten numerous writing assignments.

First, a little background.  When I first decided I wanted to be a writer for a living, I was thinking I would write for magazines, newspapers and eventually author several books. That was the dream I had laid out for myself.

Life doesn’t always hand you what you wish for right away.  In the meantime, I needed to make money.  My first writing assignment actually happened without me prospecting, or I should say, I didn’t occur to me at that time that I had actually been advertising my work all along.

I received a message from a LinkedIn group member that had seen several of my posts and was interested in having me write for them.  It was a financial company.  My first assignment ever was 500 words and I was paid $65.00.  Not a bad assignment or pay rate, especially considering I never used a content mill (still don’t).

My second opportunity transpired exactly the same way.  It was a Linkedin user who saw my work in a group and reached out to have me write a press release for their client.  This was a marketing company.  I made $75.00 for that assignment.

What I noticed as time went on is that the companies I seemed to get the most work from were companies with clients looking to add a social media presence to their business.  Most of my clients were from marketing or pr firms.

I never planned for this to happen.  It was far from what I had envisioned, yet, it really did suit me.  These were clients that were looking for a writing style that felt a bit more personal.  They liked that my writing could grab the reader and make them feel as though I was talking directly to them.  The fact that my background is in sales was a huge plus.  I understood how to write in a way that could create action.  The reader would want to know more.

I still want to write magazine and newspaper articles.  Some day I would like to see a book I’ve written on a shelf in a bookstore.  I am still pursuing those avenues.  In the mean time, I have a steady income from what I believed would be a very unlikely source.  I am glad that when this all began, I jumped right in and took the challenge.  Believe me, that first assignment writing for that financial company scared me.  I hadn’t written for a paycheck.  The press release was just as challenging.  I just didn’t let fear hold me back. The best part is that the internet is full of valuable information.  I was able to read about how to put together a press release (for example) and just did it.  Thankfully the client was very pleased with my work.

Below are ways I have gotten many assignments.  I hope the list inspires you.  If you want to be a writer, you CAN do it.  You just need to know how to begin.

1.  Social media is everything.

Every time you submit a post to a group, or a site, you are advertising what you can do.  I use the following social media sites to get my name out there:  LinkedIn, Pintrest, Twitter, Twyla, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Klout, Sverve, Facebook, Mommy Blogs, Google+ etc…  Honestly there are numerous other sites, but the ones mentioned are the sites I have had the best luck with.

2.  You need to be visible on the front page when you Google yourself.

If someone is interested in you, they will most likely Google your name.  The more you are mentioned, the more confidence a potential client will have in your ability to deliver.  I know it is time consuming, but at least have a LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ account.  By all means, make sure your profiles are completely filled out, there is a way to get in touch with you and interact with others regularly.  It honestly makes that much of a difference.

3.  Prospect for business.

I know that reaching out and asking for the job can be uncomfortable.  It is necessary if you want to earn a living.  It’s honestly a big part of each day for me.  It’s made a world of difference in the amount of work I have gotten.  Some weeks will be quiet and others will be extremely busy.  It just works that way, so remain patient and keep plugging away.

A couple of good ways to prospect for business:

  • When someone reaches out to connect on a social site, reply with a thank you.  Let them know you are happy to connect and get to know them.  By all means mention that you are a freelance writer and if they could use a writer, to please keep you in mind.
  • Take all of those names you have gathered.  Pay close attention to what these people do for a living and if they might be the decision maker. Write a quick note from the social media site telling them what you think you could do for them.  Maybe you can write a press release or a blog post for a business owner.  If you have a strong background in a particular area, say sales or technology, use it to your advantage.  Explain why your background is an added plus when writing for that business owner.
  • I’ve mentioned it before, but make sure you have a signature on your emails.  You send out several emails, why not include a plug.  Below your name, make sure you have your title (Freelance Writer) a phone number, email and a social media link (such as your blog, LinkedIn profile or Facebook Page).  People get curious and they will on occassion check out your link.  It might lead to a job or at least a referral to someone they know.

Ultimately, you should find ways to get creative.  Make calls if that is more comfortable for you.  Mention what you do to friends and family.  The object is to get your name and what you do for a living as far out into the world as possible.

One more thing I’d like to add is to tell people about the success you are having.  As those jobs come in, make a point of telling friends and family what has been happening since you began writing.  If people are talking about their jobs or just what’s new, make sure you mention your achievements.  The reason is, people will take you more seriously when they know you are getting  jobs.  Not only that, but as their confidence grows for what you are doing and accomplishing, they are more likely to jump on board and mention you to others as well.

If you have any questions or would like to add an experience you have had, I would love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

If you have been enjoying these articles, please stop by my Facebook Page where you will find a ton of  links and articles for writers that aren’t on this blog.  Please think about Liking my page if you stop by and enjoy what you see.  Thank you.


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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
Wendy McCance

10 thoughts on “Sales Techniques For Landing a Writing Assignment

  1. I’m just now getting started. I keep getting feedback along the lines of “Not what we’re looking for, but keep building that portfolio!” The classic catch-22: how to gain experience if no one will give me a shot.

    I live in a small town with no car of my own and very limited public transit, so my computer is my only viable networking tool. Like you, I avoid content mills. Doing everything Within my means to market myself but can’t seem to catch a good break.

    • Hi Elaine,

      I very rarely take an appointment where I have to meet in person. Because of health issues, I don’t do networking events either. I got almost all of my work by writing a post a day on my blog showcasing my writing and reaching out to connections on LinkedIn. My best advice is to read some of the LinkedIn articles I wrote. They take you through some of the processes I used. Here’s a good step by step approach to get you started:

      • Hi Wendy-
        Thank you for your reply. Your posts are so helpful! I used to write for Yahoo Voices before it folded. It was a great way to pick up some spare change and to get some experience. I also contend with health problems so I need to do everything online.

        I’m making it a point to stay away from content mills and bidding sites; they’re not worth my time and effort.

        I’ve just wrapped up an eBook editing project, so I will be adding that to my “bag o’ tricks.”

        Thank you again for your suggestions! I appreciate them and I’m hoping I can turn things around.

        • Hi Elaine,

          Wishing you the very best! I’m sure you will continue to do great things with your career. Every tip I have ever used I have written an article about on this site hoping to help others out as well.

          If I can go from working in a plant on an assembly line to making a good living with only an Associate Degree, no writing background and a host of health problems to contend with, then anyone can do this and do it better than me.

  2. Hi Wendy. Once again, a very helpful article, crammed with excellent advice so thank you! Social media is definitely where it’s at. Also just to mention here, I haven’t been able to comment on other blogs for almost 2 weeks now due to a problem with Akismet here in the UK (there were quite a few of us having this problem!) but hoping that this comment will post and things are now back to normal. I wanted to say thank you for your previous replies to me on another post so hoping you now receive this 🙂

  3. Editing jobs have just seemed to find me once I started doing critical book reviews on my blog. It was then I realized I’m probably a lot more qualified than many who are calling themselves editors. I’m undecided if I would rather stick with trying to find more editing projects or take the freelance writing path. It’s hard to decide, but my gut tells me pursuing both is probably no the way to go, especially when I’m trying to write novel as well.

    • Hi Jeri, thanks so much for your comment. I think things will just naturally unfold. It sounds like you have some wonderful choices. I think the job assignments that find you are a good indication of where your strengths lie. I think the novel sounds fantastic by the way. Let me know if you would like to promote it on this blog once you have finished it. I’d be happy to help get the word out. 🙂

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