As a freelance blogger, it’s all too easy to get bogged down with unimportant tasks.
You know the feeling, when you’re “busy being busy” with all of those tasks that don’t actually lead to more income. For examples:
- Browsing your social media accounts
- Reading blog posts
- Checking your email (again)
- Tweaking your website design
- Researching unrelated side projects
- General web browsing
While the above tasks have their place — they can be a great break or inspire new ideas — don’t make the mistake of thinking that they’re crucial to your business. Reading blog posts will not make you more money; only taking action will!
With many other demands on your time, you need to make the most of the precious hours you carve out for blogging. Here are the most important tasks to focus on.
1. Write a blog post
As a freelance blogger, you get paid to write blog posts. This is your offering, your craft, your lifeblood. So it makes sense to spend the majority of your time writing posts.
If you don’t have many clients yet, write posts for your own blog, or better yet, write a guest post (more on that in the next point). The key here is to keep writing. The more you write, the better you will become and the more clients you will sign.
[bctt tweet=”The more you write, the better you will become and the more clients you will sign.”]
How much time are you spending writing blog posts?
2. Outline a pitch for a guest post
By now, you know the value of guest posting. It gets you in front of new audiences, drives traffic to your website, builds your email list and strengthens your authority and profile.
What do those benefits have in common? They can all help you earn more money.
Guest posting has been one of my main lead generation strategies. I target large blogs in my niche and typically get between 10 and 50 new subscribers and one to two new clients per post.
I feel so strongly about guest posting that I suggest you stop reading this post right now and create a hit list of blogs where you’d like to guest post, craft the perfect pitch and start sending emails.
How many guest post pitches have you sent in the last two weeks?
3. Write a newsletter
You’ve spent all of this time pitching and writing articles so you can build your email list. Then all of your hard work is undone because you don’t take the time to build a relationship with your readers.
Rather than rushing your newsletter content because you haven’t sent your list anything in weeks, spend time every day writing newsletters for the future.
Tell personal, relatable stories. Share resources or interesting articles. Ask your readers what they’re struggling with in your niche. Occasionally, throw in a plug for your products or services.
If you don’t take the time to build a relationship with your readers, you’re wasting an opportunity to connect with lots of prospective clients. They may not have bought your services right away, but they might in the future.
4. Email prospective clients
In the sales world, your prospective client list is known as a pipeline. This is where all of your “now” business is.
What is a prospective client? Someone who inquires about your freelance writing services, but has not yet signed up, for any of these reasons:
- They’re comparing you with other freelancers
- They’re still assessing the value of your services
- They’re just not ready to make a decision
However, if they’re taking the time to inquire, they likely need your services. They might need time to make a decision, but there’s no harm in following up.
How? Don’t email them every day asking if they’re ready to start! Rather, focus on providing value, whether that’s recommending them to someone you know in another field, or sending them a link to a useful article. Following up and providing value demonstrates your professionalism and increases your chances of winning the business when your prospective client is ready to make a decision.
Do you have a list of prospects in this “limbo” stage? What are you doing to get them across the line?
5. Email your current clients
Another important money-making task is client communication. When dealing with clients, it’s actually quite hard to over-communicate. Keeping clients informed of your progress — without them having to ask — will increase your reputation and perceived value (and will make it easier to get referrals).
Never make your client email you to find out where things stand. Make it part of your service standard to keep them up to speed on all projects. Even the most talented writer can lose clients because they weren’t communicative or responsive enough.
6. Email your former clients
Finding and landing clients is hard work, so it makes your life much easier if you can encourage repeat business and referral opportunities through your past clients. They know what it’s like working with you, and if you’ve done a good job, are often happy to share their experience with others.
However, sometimes they need a friendly reminder that you still exist and a straightforward request for referrals.
When you contact your former clients, don’t make the mistake of emailing them out of the blue and asking for a referral. Instead, provide something of value — then ask.
Here’s an email I sent to one of my former clients:
I hope business is going well! I came across this great resource and thought of you:
I only had a chance to watch a few videos this afternoon, but I plan to set aside some time to get into it tonight. I think a solid content marketing strategy will drastically increase your online presence and your sales.
Also, the Shopify blog is a great resource for product creators selling online so it might be worth bookmarking, if you haven’t already.
Let me know what you think.
See how the email is all about providing value to Erin? Nowhere did I mention that I wanted referrals. Former clients often reply to this kind of email thanking me for the information and asking how business is going — or they mention they know someone who could use my services.
It’s at this point that I talk more about my business and how I can help them or anyone they know. If there isn’t a fit this time, I make a note to contact them with another valuable resource in a month.
7. Email your personal network
Your personal network is anyone who has a positive impact on your business, whether it’s an accountability group, a mentor, or a group of freelancers who can promote your work.
I use a social contact management system called Nimble to organise all of my contacts, clients and former clients. I love Nimble because it tracks all of my social media interactions with my network in addition to tracking direct email correspondence.
Like your former and current clients, make sure your communication with your network is about adding value — and every now and then, you can ask them for a favor.
8. Prospective client meeting
If you want to dramatically increase your chances of winning business, I suggest you try to get face to face with your prospective clients — or if you’re not local, on a Skype call or Google Hangout.
Having a meeting gives you a chance to build rapport, talk about your work and showcase your skills in ways that you can’t achieve via email.
Make sure you know what you want to get out of each prospective client meeting. You want the client to feel like they need your services to help grow their business, so talk about the importance of quality content and what it means for their work. If you can show that you know what their business is about and that you sincerely care about their future growth, it would be hard to say no to you.
9. Client meeting
Have you ever felt like you weren’t on the same page as your client? Or maybe you have some new ideas to help their business? Often, a quick meeting helps you get back on track or build a new project.
Even five minutes of speaking face-to-face (or virtually) lets you get through the equivalent of 10 email replies. Plus, it gives you a chance to build rapport and deepen your business relationship — and a stronger relationship can lead to more opportunities in the future.
10. Networking meeting
In addition to emailing your personal network, take the relationship a step further and schedule a call with one of your contacts. It’s similar to having a coffee with a potential referral partner, but much quicker.
Once again, make sure you have a purpose. Discuss ways you can help one another, educate them on your offerings and showcase your work. Make it as easy as possible for your contact to refer your services to others in his network.
Did you get 10 out of 10?
If not, you know what you need to do: take action.
If so, nice work! You’re building a solid foundation for your business.
The next challenge is to assess your workflow to ensure you’re spending the majority of your time doing these crucial tasks — ideally, 80%. Using tools, apps and systems will help you maximize your productivity.
How many of these crucial tasks do you do on a regular basis? Which do you find the most challenging to fit in?