Guess What, Freelance Writer? You’re Also a Salesperson

Guess What, Freelance Writer? You’re Also a Salesperson

It’s not difficult to see the correlation between freelance writers and salespeople.

In both professions, success depends on a person’s ability find prospects and develop relationships with new clients.

Yet somehow, most freelance writers don’t recognize the need to familiarize themselves with best practices for selling. Taking the time to learn and put sales skills into practice can result in more clients, higher pay and other satisfying career goal realizations.

Here’s a look at how freelance writers are more like salespeople than they may initially think.

1. We both seek out and document leads

Whether a handwritten ledger, Evernote entry, Google calendar reminder or spreadsheet, successful freelance writers are constantly seeking out new leads, and keeping track of their conversations (and next steps).

The average salesperson takes this to the next level with a number of systems designed to make sure they never lose an opportunity.

They use customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce to keep track of prospects and where they’re at in the sales process.

2. We both aggressively pitch prospects, hoping to get a foot in the door

Salespeople call them sales calls. Freelance writers call them pitches.

But each of these tactics exists to help their user get a foot in the door with a decision maker that can ultimately determine whether or not they get the business.

And as good salespeople know, oftentimes it takes (many) more than one touch like a call or email to close a prospect.

3. We both know how to waste time

For freelance writers, it’s easy to waste time when writer’s block hits, or getting distracted by just about anything when working at home.

For salespeople, it’s easy to get caught up in research and preparation for sales calls, often because they just aren’t feeling up to making the actual call.

In either case, freelance writers and salespeople can easily waste a day that could be spent chipping away at tasks.

It’s important to be able to recognize time-wasting activities so that you can learn to fight them!

4. But we also both know how to work with strict deadlines

For salespeople, it’s hitting quota by the end of the month.

For freelance writers, it’s delivering a high-quality assignment in what’s usually a very short amount of time.

For both parties, operating under the pressure and stress of a deadline doesn’t kill, but makes them stronger.

5. We operate with specific metrics in mind

For salespeople, this might look like time spent on the phone. For freelance writers, it may be making sure we’re hitting word count without sacrificing quality.

For both salespeople and freelance writers, we’re driven by the number of contacts we make, and resulting leads for realistic prospects.

6. We both make money directly proportionate to what we sell

Salespeople call it commission.

Freelance writers call it income.

In either case, the amount of money you make completely depends on your sales activities — targeting prospects, preparing pitches and following up on opportunities.

Both parties might call these tactics by different names, but the idea is the same. If you’re not hustling, you’re not making money.

The point?

Everybody sells something.

Whether they’re salespeople, freelance writers, HR managers or janitors. We all employ sales tactics to get what we want, as simple as gaining agreement for a certain opinion to negotiating a new position or raise, to more life-changing situations like closing the deal on a major client.

Though everybody sells in different ways, it’s especially easy to draw parallels between salespeople and freelance writers.

What kind of questions or struggles do you have around growing your business? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Filed Under: Craft, Marketing
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11 comments

  • Writing fiction, I feel the same way. Whether pitching to agents, submitting short stories, or trying to get a local library host a book signing, a writer (especially one without a Big 5 publisher to help out) also has to serve as a marketer and salesperson.

    • Maddy Osman says:

      Jason,

      We’re ALL salespeople, basically no matter what we do 🙂 This post was inspired by the book “To Sell is Human” – definitely a must-read.

  • Cait says:

    Dan Pink wrote a book about this, “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” His central them is that everyone is in sales nowadays, due to shifts in culture and the economy. It’s a fascinating read.

  • I’m fairly new to writing as a business. I’m just torn between what to write about that makes money and where to find those opportunities.

    • Hui Jia says:

      I beleive that a writer writes for themselves first, especially concerning fiction. The audiences are there, either through print or electronic viewing platforms. The difficulty is writing about something that you will be proud to own, proud to say you wrote the story. It takes time to become an observer of life, and time to develop it into something readable. The unfairness of life, where economic hardhips fall upon someone when it could quite easily have befallen upon yourself given some twist of fate.
      Inspiration comes from many areas; books, News clippings, Cinema can inspire spin off stories from the original that are unique, and lets not forget Poetry. These are all sources of inspiration other than from your own life, and people around you.

      So in essense writing fiction for money will always be a challenging escapade which should be full of honesty,blood, sweat and tears.

  • Completely agree with Maddy. Sales is more important than being a good writer in this competitive freelance writing environment. History shows that freelance writers with solid sales and marketing abilities and practices are the ones that make it. Here’s my recent article on who and how we should all be establishing a marketing platform. http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/travel-writing-marketing-platform.html

  • Leiann Lynn Rose Spontaneo says:

    It is funny that I found this article of your’s! I am a freelancer, barely making a dime. Lately, I have been exploring better paying jobs and have been researching sales positions!

    Thanks for the tips!

  • talatkhan says:

    I beleive that a writer writes for themselves first, especially concerning fiction. The audiences are there, either through print or electronic viewing platforms. The difficulty is writing about something that you will be proud to own, proud to say you wrote the story. It takes time to become an observer of life, and time to develop it into something readable. The unfairness of life, where economic hardhips fall upon someone when it could quite easily have befallen upon yourself given some twist of fate.
    Inspiration comes from many areas; books, News clippings, Cinema can inspire spin off stories from the original that are unique, and lets not forget Poetry. These are all sources of inspiration other than from your own life, and people around you.

    So in essense writing fiction for money will always be a challenging escapade which should be full of honesty,blood, sweat and tears.

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