5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Where You Want To Be as a Commercial Freelancer (Guest Post)

If you listen to the news media, we’re living in “tough economic times” right now. But, if you keep listening to the same outlets, when aren’t we (according to them)?

You however, and of course your writing business, don’t have to suffer through the “tough times” the media prescribes. In fact, you should completely ignore this so-called “trend” for small businesses altogether.

I’ve identified what I think are the 5 primary reasons you aren’t where you want to be as a freelance commercial writer (FLCW). Work to improve these and your writing business will improve right along with it.

The first couple are fairly obvious, and written about quite a bit on this blog, but the last three, well, from my experience teaching younger copywriters…not so much.

1. Inconsistent marketing (not marketing in the down times and the good times).
You know you need to be marketing your business whether you “need” clients or not. But most FLCW’s don’t. Why? Partly human nature (we get lazy), and partly due to our inherent need to make the task of marketing our business harder than it is.

Getting business as a FLCW boils down to getting consistent in making contact with the people who can assign you projects within an organization (see Chapter 5 of Peter’s book). It’s really that simple, but we tend to bog down the simple process of contacting people with complicated “what ifs” and self-imposed obstacles.

In short, we market when times are tough, when we “need” clients, but not when we should be marketing… when times are good.

2. Poor mindset (the economy is bad; no one is paying our rates, etc…)

This is a big one.

As noted above, the news media can be pretty influential. What makes headlines usually isn’t positive… and, cumulatively, it can affect how we think and act. This information enters our subconscious even if you claim you don’t “really” listen to it.

For example (and I’ve seen variations of this on this very blog in the comments):

“Magazines aren’t paying our rates/good rates.”

(I know this isn’t a FLCW’s main business, but the same principle can apply to our business)

To which I say… so what?

Subscribing to a trend completely out of your control shouldn’t even be a part of your mindset (yes, easier said than done). But let’s just say it’s true that magazines (or businesses, publishers, whatever…) weren’t paying the rates they used to.

Do you really want to tie the success and/or failure of your entire writing business to a trend completely out of your control? I’d rather adapt, learn new skills, change my marketing plan, etc., and try to make the best of the situation. If this means you stop writing magazine articles because the pay doesn’t match your business needs, then do that, and develop a different part of your writing business.

The bottom line is this: there is and will ALWAYS be a certain market for writing services that will pay premium rates, period (until Armageddon that is).

3. Lack of proper systems (such as a system for gathering referrals)

Most all successful businesses are systematized, and a freelance commercial writing business is no exception. You have to set up systems within your business, and adapt those systems as your business grows or changes.

One of them is a system for gathering referrals, which allows you to land new clients much more easily. Not to mention, it helps avoid the well-chronicled famous “feast/famine” scenario.

Keep this referral system simple.

For example, as part of my own referral system, I make referrals a condition of doing business (learned from Jay Abraham). I tell a potential client: only when they are more than satisfied with my work and results, I would like the opportunity to speak with three of their colleagues or friends about the possibility of working with them. At that time, and again, based on their satisfaction with my work, I will have them get their address book or contact manager out and provide those three referrals.

Sometimes, when the client was satisfied with my work and it came time to provide referrals, the client actually called the referred potential client themselves… and “pre-sold” them on working with me.

It’s not a perfect system, but it has worked very well and made it very easy for me to keep a steady flow of new clients coming into my business. This isn’t the only system I have set up in my writing business either… but I do think for all of us a solid system for referrals is a good one to implement.

4. Lack of good health (get out and walk/exercise for at least 45 minutes a day, this is a solitary business so network etc…)

This is one I didn’t follow fully myself until almost nine years into my business as a freelance commercial writer and consultant. I was a solid networker, but the health part, well, that didn’t happen fully until 2010 when I encountered some health issues.

But know this: both person-to-person relationships and your health are SO important to the success of your writing business.

This is a solitary business for the most part; there isn’t really a “water cooler” to hang out at offline where you can shoot the breeze with other writers.

So you have to devote an amount of time (even if it’s small at first) to connecting with your fellow writers and consultants and talking shop, developing friendships, and just hanging out sometimes. You’re NOT alone, you don’t have to do this alone, and you don’t want to.

On to your health… Don’t take it for granted. I did, and in 2010 found myself in a state of poorer health. Nothing drastic mind you (thankfully), but I had taken my health for granted.

In 2011, I decided to do something about it: a challenge was issued to me by my body, and I accepted.

Fast forward to today. I’m walking 2.4 miles every day, drinking plenty of water, and moderating my plate size and portions. I’m also getting better sleep. The result? I lost 67 lbs. in 2011 (from Jan-Dec), and I feel like I can take on the world. My life has new, fresh perspective and I can do things I wouldn’t have thought possible two years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work, and I went through hell developing the habits required to maintain my new lifestyle. But we’re only on this Earth an average of 75 or so trips around the Sun. How many do you want to have left?

But, there’s a good business reason to do all this…

When you’re healthy and social, it shows to your potential clients. You radiate confidence and discipline, and quite frankly, there’s a shortage of both in most business arenas (not just writing). Finally…

5. Lack of a money-management discipline.

If you’re making money, but you’re spending more than you make… you’ll be poor. If you make more than you spend, you COULD be rich.

Now, I’m not a financial advisor, and this is NOT financial advice, but you need to develop a money-management discipline of some sort (outside of “generate income, pay taxes, pay bills, have entertainment money,” etc…).

What do I mean? Talk to a financial person (someone who specializes in working with small business people or writers). Get a plan together, and follow it.

If you can’t afford it (I think you can’t afford not to), at least research and learn about the subject. A good book I can personally recommend: “The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Job”

Can you think of any other reasons you aren’t achieving your goals as a FLCW?

Do you have a personal story that might benefit anyone who participates in this discussion (e.g. personal successes, failures, etc…)?

Any other books you might recommend for further reading?

Any stories about personal interaction with someone that changed your view of this business for the better?

Since 2001, Joseph Ratliff has been a direct response copywriter and marketing consultant for small businesses. He irregularly blogs at The Ratliff Report™. You can download some success-oriented articles and reports on the “free resources” page on his site. If you’re new to the writing business, you can check out his 17-page essay for new writers (titled “The Writer’s Lifestyle”) on the Essays section of his website.

Want to be a guest blogger on TWFW Blog? I welcome your contribution to the Well-Fed writing community! Check out the guidelines here.

34 replies
  1. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    I am just getting started with my FLCW business, and I am excited to start contacting potential clients soon. I’ve made the mistake recently of reading random freelance blogs, one of which said unequivocally that cold calling simply does not work. Now, I am in the process of detoxing my inner voice after reading this. Thank you for reminding me not to let others’ words and thoughts determine the success of my new business.

  2. Peter Wise
    Peter Wise says:

    Good blog and very true. I liked the point about health and exercise. I have always, always made a point of getting out and about exercising every day. Whatever time you ‘lose’ doing that you more than make up for in extra productivity compared to the person who never takes a break. It really is vital to mood, health and, ultimately, business success.

  3. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting Kristi, and you’re right, typically when someone outright says “_________ doesn’t work”, they should be saying it doesn’t work for them… not for everyone. I’ve used cold-calling myself, and it DOES work, in fact, it worked so well when I used it… I use it whenever there is a “flat spot” in my schedule with success.

    And Peter, I can’t even begin to tell you how important health is, so you’re right… the time invested pays off BIG time down the road.

  4. Henry
    Henry says:

    I thought it was interesting how you make “referrals a condition of doing business.” Referrals are something I am ineffective at encouraging. Could you provide more details about how this works for you?

  5. Katherine Swarts
    Katherine Swarts says:

    Regarding Point 2 on attitude: to paraphrase something I heard from Brad Sugars, a lot of people have misunderstood the “positive thinking” or “law of attraction” concept to mean that if you convince your brain to expect good things, that’s ALL you have to do–just sit and will them to come to you. That’s akin to assuming that if the crosswalk sign says, “To Cross Street, Push Button and Wait for ‘Walk’ Signal,” it’s promising you won’t have to actually use your own legs when the signal comes on!

  6. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Sorry for the later response Henry, I just got notice of your comment in my email this morning…

    The key to asking for referrals, and for making them a condition of doing business… is confidence. You absolutely must be confident in your ability to provide quality writing services for your clients. You have to know that what you deliver will more than satisfy your client, each and every time. Sounds hard, but if you can deliver, if you’re up to the challenge then…

    You know your client will be satisfied (at least the vast majority of them, you can’t please every single client every time).

    So with that being the case, you can make referrals a condition for doing business, but notice how I give them an “out” when I tell the client that referrals are a condition in the post above, I tell the client “only” when they are more than satisfied with my work/results… which basically leaves it to them, but also tells them referrals are an important part of doing business with me.

    That’s how I do it Henry… hope that helps and answers your question. 🙂

  7. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Thanks again, Joseph, for sharing such a great post. Not necessarily all new ideas, but SO worth repeating, and dead-on accurate.

    Welcome, Kristi, and had to laugh at your “detox” comment. Yeah, listen to all the knuckleheads out there, and they’ll convince you up is down, day is night, and various and sundry other nonsense.

    I simply don’t understand the “cold calling is dead” foolishness. As if the Law of Averages has been rescinded or something. Just weird… I did a round of cold-calling over the past few weeks. An amazing number of folks answered their phones, and many for whom I left voice mail (and followed up with an email) emailed me back. AND I got a lot of new stuff stirred up.

    Yes, you’ve got to be calling qualified prospects, and you need to have a decent skills, a good portfolio, and a good web site, but it absolutely works.

    The health thing is so fundamental. I have learned firsthand (thanks to the joy of back problems – the gift that keeps on giving…) how much better (and more productive) life is when you feel better. Sort of a “Duh,” but please, please, please, don’t take it for granted if you have decent health now. Simply put, life sucks when you feel crummy.

    Make the time, as Peter and Joseph have pointed out, to do something healthy every day, even if it’s just to take a walk. It truly WILL more than repay the “productive time” lost. In fact, start thinking of it AS “productive time.”

    And you’re so right Katherine! You just have to laugh at this idea (practiced by so many) that if I just think and imagine and visualize long enough and hard enough, I’ll have anything I want. Course (he said, making every effort to NOT get too high up on his soapbox…), we live in a time where fuzzy sentiments/feelings/intentions seem to trump actual butt-in-gear actions. They’ll find out soon enough!

    On a more serious note, to all of those of you in the path of Sandy, I hope you stay safe and dry, and here’s to hoping it goes easy on all of you.


  8. Lori
    Lori says:

    Joseph, you’ve named my top ones. I know writers who are years into their careers who are still struggling and not seeing the corner they’ve painted themselves into. I like helping people, but there are a few writers who, even with all the tools laid out in front of them, simply won’t apply the effort needed to be really successful. Drives me nuts, but that’s MY issue and I have to learn to stop caring about the careers they obviously aren’t caring about very much.

    I remember a really smart writer – Ms. Kristen King – who’d said to me at the beginning of my full-time freelancing career that I would stop taking temp work the day I viewed my freelance career as my only option. I was three years into my career at that point, and what she said turned it around for me. I kept saying “This is it and you must make it work.” Nearly ten years later, it’s still my only option, but the urgency, amen, is replaced with a solid set of plans and movement toward the goals.

  9. Melzetta "Mele" Williams
    Melzetta "Mele" Williams says:

    My self-imposed obstacle is inconsistent marketing. You really have to have faith that if you just keep at it (cold calling, warm emailing, whatever), you’ll get results.

    I was impatient and focused on results instead of activity. Recipe for disaster when you’re building any business.

    Thanks for a wonderful reminder!

  10. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Lori, those wise words from Ms. King are so true it’s not even funny. I had the same “epiphany” a number of years ago, and almost “magically”… my career took off as a copywriter.

    And Mele, you’re quite right about inconsistent marketing being an obstacle. Yes, you have to have faith, keep at it, but more importantly keep getting better at marketing as well… so the flow of clients stays full force.

    Focusing on focused activity, and continually getting better at it, will help drive new business your way. 🙂

  11. Matt Brennan
    Matt Brennan says:

    Excellent post, Joseph. To make money, and operate a successful business requires discipline in a lot of areas. And congrats on the weight and good health. That’s not an easy thing to do!

  12. Brad
    Brad says:

    “I’d rather adapt, learn new skills, change my marketing plan, etc., and try to make the best of the situation.”

    Regarding “learning new skills”, what are you freelance writers seeing as the “must have” skills that clients are consistently paying for?

  13. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Hi Brad,

    Well, that actually is a fairly loaded question that needs to be approached from two sides:

    1) The side you mentioned… “what clients are paying for.”

    2) And the other side… “what do YOU do to get better at marketing, presentation, reputation management, etc…”

    #1 is easier than #2, because that is the “production side” of our business. Books can teach writing skills, one I recommend is “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser.

    That being said, one skill I think any freelance commercial writer can develop much further is the skill of finding where they can add value to a client’s business. After “finding where,” then learn how to integrate yourself in your client’s business… partnering with them instead of just “being the writer.”

    I usually call this the decision between being an “order taker” versus being a “valuable partner” in your client’s business.

    #2 is a little trickier… because there are a literal TON of books on the subjects like presentation, marketing, etc… and unlike writing books, there is also a TON of books with crappy advice you shouldn’t follow. (yes there are crappy books on writing too, but I’ve found the stronger majority of them are good)

    Your clients pay for YOU, and what you bring to the table Brad… they pay for your creativity, your understanding of the principles (not tactics) of writing copy, they pay for your ability to take what they give you… and translate that into results. Surprisingly, they also pay you for attentiveness, professionalism, your ability to turn work in on time etc… but they shouldn’t, as those should be a standard. Unfortunately, they are more the exception rather than the rule.

    There is a LOT attached to those primary skills… and that is the daunting task of what any freelance commercial writer should be learning. It’s why we are always students of the craft and business of FLCW’ing.

    Hope that helps Brad. 🙂

  14. Brad
    Brad says:

    Thanks for your feedback Joseph. The concept of positioning myself as a partner versus an order taker is critical. I write in the high-tech space and often my clients’ customer wins come down to them being a partner versus an order taker. Their customers can smell order takers a mile away. However, there are ways that I can cultivate partner/value relationships versus order taker/it’s-all-about-me. So that’s one shift I’ll be making in my thinking as I continue to evolve my self marketing.

    You also validated what I’ve long suspected–I’m not a copywriter. I’m a self marketer who happens to offer valuable copywriting services 🙂

  15. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Thanks, Joseph, for addressing Brad’s question so well, I don’t have too much to add! 😉

    But Brad, one thing I would tack on is this: how you phrased your question seemed to imply (and please correct me if I read it wrong) that you believed there were some “hot trends” in copywriting these day, and if you wanted to be successful, you needed to jump on these bandwagons. Perhaps certain project types or technical expertise, etc. And I really don’t feel that’s the case.

    Sure, in 2012 there are more case studies, email landing pages and web copy (to name a few) to be written than there was in 1994 when I started, but without demonstrating the fundamentals that Joseph outlined in his response, nothing else you do is really going to matter. They truly ARE the things that clients consistently pay for. It’s the basics – it’s ALWAYS been about the basics.

    And of course, as I’ve said so often it’s achieved broken-record status, so much of what Joseph listed (except actual good writing skills), you need ZERO experience to deliver: professionalism, reliability, attentiveness, delivering more than expected, etc. Even writing ability, if you have some natural talent, is something you can deliver with little experience (though you DO get better after years in the business…).

    Good discussion!


  16. Kate
    Kate says:

    Marketing itself is killing my business. I need some way to automate the social media process even more because the time I spend “connecting with potential and past customers” is keeping me from my work! I think I am using all the tools correctly, but still!

    The strangest thing is, I am becoming a better marketer but my writing skills are getting worse! I find myself thinking an 800 word piece is too long, that we really only need 140 characters to say the same thing!

  17. Linda
    Linda says:

    You make a good point about marketing even when business is good. I have to admit I’m guilty of forgetting about promoting myself when I’ve got a steady stream of work coming in. It’s good to remember that marketing has to be a consistent, ongoing thing.

  18. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Hi Kate,

    What you’re about to read, well, might disappoint you 😉

    Do not automate social media… at all. I know, I know, this goes against the grain a little with tools like Tweetdeck and others etc… but I’m saying don’t automate it at all.

    But on the flip side, don’t let it become a time suck. How you might ask?

    Well, go into your social media participation with a plan, and stick to that plan. For me, it’s usually investing specific groups of time focused on a “social media mission.” For example, I might invest 40 minutes in an attempt to start a conversation with at least one potential client, and if the 40 minutes goes by with nothing… I move on.

    Also, when you say “all the tools”… well, it sounds like you’re making a very common mistake, and one I had made for awhile. Using too many social accounts.

    You don’t need to be everywhere, in fact, you really can’t in a focused manner anyhow. So if you have a Twitter, Pintrest, Facebook, Digg (old school), Google+, Linkedin, Typepad (old school), etc… etc… then you need to find out which say, 2 or 3, give you the best results, and drop your attention on the rest.

    I personally use Twitter, Google +, and Linkedin… but you use whichever you’re best with.

    The bottom line is limit the channels, and control your participation.

    As for finding out an 800 word piece can be stated in 140 characters, if that is really true… is that really a bad thing? 😉

  19. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Hey Kate,

    If I can throw in my two cents here… And I’ll come clean up front about NOT being much of a social media fan/practitioner, so feel free to take the following comments with an economy-size barrel of salt. I know social media absolutely can be a valuable tool, and that I’m likely missing out on some of the dividends.

    But I also know that a lot of so-called “social media gurus” have convinced plenty of people that social media is THE go-to marketing strategy, and has effectively rendered all other marketing strategies (you know, all the stuff that’s been around forever…) obsolete. And a more ludicrous assertion has never been made…

    All I’m saying is that you should make ANY marketing strategy prove its value. If indeed you’re getting a ton of work from social media, then by all means keep pursuing it, and yes, as Joseph points out, figure out how to manage your time effectively. But, if you’re not, then you might need to revisit your thinking.

    I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve talked to about social media, who are BIG users (that choice of word quite intentional), and who tell me how I’ve got to get on the ball, and how great it is, and how I’m missing out, etc, etc. And then I ask them, “Has it brought you business?” And more often than not (FAR more often than not…), their response, after a pause, starts out with, “Weeeeeeelllll…”

    Sure, I’d be an idiot to assert that it hasn’t yielded business eventually for many, but its track record is, to put it charitably, uneven. And most marketers agree that social media, while it can be effective, is a longer-term strategy when compared with cold-calling, direct mail, email marketing, in-person networking, etc.

    Again, I could be completely wrong about how it’s working for you. But, just something to consider… 😉


  20. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    And Peter, I think the reason why these social media tools aren’t yielding the business they could is because they are still relatively new, and generally, we haven’t figured out how to REALLY use them yet, to their full potential.

    I only say this because I am one of “those” people that has used social media tools effectively to gain new clients and maintain relationships with prior clients. In fact, Linkedin is the source for some of my most lucrative work to date.

    That being said, any social media tool can turn out to be a HUGE time suck, if not used with a very specific plan and objectives.

    Plus, they are just tools, and as you pointed out, they are NOT miracle workers… not the “end all” for any marketing tool box. I use several other methods to get new clients etc… as well. 🙂

  21. Katherine Swarts
    Katherine Swarts says:

    I find the thread started by Kate’s “social media as a time suck” post very interesting; I’ve been in that “not enough time for everything, and don’t particularly WANT to do a lot of the things recommended” spot quite a bit lately. Last Thursday, the writing-world.com e-mail list distributed an editorial about the hazards of today’s plethora of marketing options, noting that too many of us assume we are doomed to fail unless we do EVERYTHING that worked for everyone else. (The editorial also mentioned the thankless folly of writing for search engines instead of people; I agree that trying to automate social networking, beyond setting up a system that can post to multiple sites, is a bad idea.)

    Not included in the original “why you aren’t where you want to be” list, yet in a way comprising all five of the points, is the one item that is most basic and yet most difficult for any business success: concentrating, by analysis and then by trial and error, on finding the approach that fits YOU. Perhaps the ultimate reason behind many business failures is that the owner was more interested in doing it exactly right according to someone ELSE’s system, assuming that “if it worked for her it can’t fail for anybody,” than on finding his own best route to success.

  22. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:


    Yours is #6… or the “bottom line.” 🙂 So long as every FLCW does in fact test, experiment, and then come up with the approach that fits them… absolutely.

    I think the “concentrating” part is the part where most business owners fail. Instead, they hop from one media form or marketing opportunity to another (sometimes calling failure), before actually testing out any opportunity to its fullest.

    Great addition Katherine. 🙂

  23. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Great point, Katherine!

    And one that can save folks like us an enormous amount of time and hassle. Though , we’ll have to invest a chunk of time upfront to determine what works for each of us.

    This discussion reminds me of a very clever blog post I read sometime back (and I’m afraid I can’t remember where I read it). In it, the writer, in a sort of deadpan tone, very systematically went through a laundry list of everything a freelancer had to do EVERY DAY if he or she wanted to be considered “serious,” and to succeed.

    Things like: posting to your Twitter feed x times a day, following x other feeds, posting to your blog, commenting on x other blogs, writing guest blog posts, keeping up with this, that and the other social media site, writing articles for sites, and all that truly was just the beginning.

    The list went on and on. But every single thing she discussed was something we’ve all read about somewhere as being “critical” to success. For each activity, she assigned an amount of time, and at the end of the list, if you added up all the time blocks, it totaled 32 hours. Daily. And that didn’t include sleeping and eating.

    It was a clever way of making the point that there’s absolutely NO WAY any of us can do anywhere NEAR everything that the so-called “experts” tell us are non-negotiable activities. As Katherine wisely points out, figure out what works for you!

    Joseph, happy to hear social media has delivered the goods for you. You wrote: “Linkedin is the source for some of my most lucrative work to date.” Without making you write a book here, would you be willing to share here how social media led to you to some of these clients? As in, what were the steps that led to landing a particular deal?

    I’m guessing we’d all appreciate a real-world success story, and the strategy that led to it…


  24. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Well Peter, I’m a simple guy… and that I think is the reason why social media works for me. 🙂

    Let me explain…

    I think we tend to massively over complicate what social media can do for us. I use a phrase a lot that explains this: “Just because social media tools make it easier to connect to someone, doesn’t mean these tools shorten the process of building the relationship.”

    And that is how I get social media tools, like Linkedin, to work for me. I don’t focus on the “traffic” they can drive to my site, I focus on building a relationship with the people I connect with… using say Linkedin to open a dialogue with a potential client, and, wait for it…

    …naturally having a conversation with that person. 🙂

    That could mean on the phone, over Linkedin, via email, via Skype etc… whatever the tool is, my focus is the natural conversation. Just like you would start a conversation with someone at a seminar or Toastmasters get together… same thing… except no borders.

    Which brings me to another phrase I use a lot:

    “Social media wasn’t originally created for businesses, they were created for the public to connect with each other. Don’t use social media as an advertising billboard, use it to naturally connect with people, then let the relationship take over.”

    So I suppose the step by step, in simple form is:

    Make sure your Linkedin (or any) profile is completely filled out –> Use the tool to connect with people –> Find places like “questions”, communities, groups, lists etc… to participate –> share content to build credibility –> And concentrate on opportunities for conversation when appropriate.

    Above all it takes time (at first), but once you have established yourself, you can “cherry pick” your connection lists, and just start natural conversations with people… leading to a consistent source of business.

    In the beginning, for a rookie, you either have to be VERY outgoing and confident in your ability to sell yourself… but success still centers around the natural conversation and relationship. Remember, we all had to start somewhere, but focus and determination has a great way of selecting who succeeds and who doesn’t.

    That was without writing the book Peter, will that do? 😉

  25. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Excellent! Great stuff. AND it just goes to underscore that, regardless of the level of technology involved, it’s still all about building relationships. The more things change…


  26. William Reynolds
    William Reynolds says:

    Referrals are definitely a big part of my marketing plan. But the best way to ensure that you will receive referrals from colleagues is to GIVE them referrals first. If you want web developers, graphic designers and other marketing professionals to keep sending work your way, focus on what you can do to help them grow their business, and they will naturally want to reciprocate. As for getting referrals from clients, I’ve talked to lots of creative freelancers who forget to ask for them or feel weird doing so. I forget to ask for referrals myself, but I’m getting better at it. Clients aren’t necessarily thinking along those lines, even if they like your work; you have to put them into a referral mindset by letting them know what you need.

  27. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Things have certainly evolved in my practice since writing this post.

    One … I write (seldom) at http://josephratliff.com/articles/ now.

    Two … I have still kept the original weight off, and still maintain a strict dietary practice … but have added meditation and am studying Eastern philosophies to pursue more enrichment.

    Myself and my wife still live with much less “stuff” than the average person, way less. That isn’t to brag … because we were “ultra-consumers” before, and the work to get to this point was monumental … but well worth it.

    A couple of big publisher contracts and other “larger revenue” clients have also entered this mix.

    Anyhow, since 2012 when this post was first published a lot has changed, and a lot has remained the same.

    Now, I want to add whitepaper writing to my mix (for big companies or any small to medium business that can afford my services). That is my next challenge. Down the rabbit hole I go… 🙂

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  1. […] See more at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog/5-reasons-why-you-arent-where-you-want-to-be-as-a-commercial-freel… Joseph Ratliff is a writer, a thinker, and loves to help business owners develop their […]

  2. […] See more at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog/5-reasons-why-you-arent-where-you-want-to-be-as-a-commercial-freel… Joseph Ratliff is a writer, a thinker, and loves to help business owners develop their […]

  3. […] Throughout this blog we talked about how to find funding for our business, but it is also possible …Throughout this blog we talked about how to find funding for our business, but it is also possible to start our business without money, and without seeking to invest in the beginning credits or loans. Start our business in this way and following a few tips or steps in order, we can take our business to become a successful business: 1. Start your business, before opening it: You will not know how long it will take to get benefits, so try to start your business while you're employed. This will give you funding. Go looking for some clients, lend some services or begins to sell. That way, when you decide to open your business, there will depart from zero. 2. Surround yourself with experienced people and expand your social circle: Surround yourself with people with positive contributions, talk to entrepreneurs who began the work while you're about to start. Every great entrepreneur, in the beginning, had a mentor or a trusted person who helped you. 3. Study everything you can about the business you're starting. Prepare well in all areas, begins as a subject matter expert. This way, your customers will see a professional who is starting in your business and not a rookie who will try their luck in business. 4. When you feel ready, but jumps … not big: Starts the home business. Before diving into the costs involved in an office (rent, secretary, cleaning, electricity, water, etc.), start your home business. At first finding customers is done on the street, not in an office. You only need to your beginnings, a space in your home, telephone and internet. 5. Your first commercial Internet: Hire your first commercial 24hours. Become a blog, web page or space, but you should have done during step 1. Just because some customers will be arriving by internet. Try to make your site as professional as possible. 6. Your first business: When you feel that you combine the functions, you grow and you can cover more, hire your first trade. Look for them on commission. Try to be sales professionals, people used to work for commercial incentives or already placed on the market with similar products to your business. This way, you get a profit and they will win some extra money. 7. Analyze your situation: How is my business going? Have I grown in recent months? Weekly Increase my clientele?  Can I cover more? Do I want to cover more? If the answers to these questions are yes, it is time to take the next step. If your benefits can meet the rent of an office,  go head. But do not make the mistake of leaving your customers to decorate your office. Now your job is your business. So make part-time work. 8. Expand your network: You have your own clients, who enter via the Internet and those who see your commercial. Expand your field or the number of malls, increases sales of your business in a way of which we have discussed in this blog. 9. If you've reached this point, it is because you have succeeded. But at this point, is where, or you reaffirm you as successful entrepreneur or go bankrupt. The decisions you make from now on are crucial and key to the operation of your business. If you reach a significant sales volume, not all serve. You have people on the payroll, a well-defined legal status, etc … Now is when you really need to invest. A NEW BUSINESS FAILS FOR THESE REASONS when we start a business, start with hopes and fears. If we have not done a good market research and plan before mounting strategic our business, you are probably doomed. Even having done that, our business may fail for other reasons shown below: Borrow credits, loans and hire purchase: Every business starts again we did not have money and we had to ask the bank. If we add our personal expenses, mortgage, home insurance, car bills, car insurance, school fees of children, etc … the business can go great and we win enough money, but not enough to address all joint expenses personal and business. Giving too much credit to our customers: The biggest problem with that business is today, is the default. Sometimes it's better not to sell to a customer if you have uncertainty in the collection. That way you do not generate profits, but not lose economic resources. No master the art of buying and selling: Although it seems that is something we all know, most of the businesses do not put into practice. Sold on credit of three months and pay their suppliers within 60 days. In this way, after months or a year, together with some defaults, cannot meet the payments. Relax once you've had some success: Sales are going well; you can pay your suppliers vent, so no need to complicate. Thinking this way is the best way to get your business up today, tomorrow is down. When all goes well, it's time to make it grow, new routes, more customers, more market and new products. You never know when bad times can come and we must be prepared. And finally, the fever of success of an entrepreneur: As business is good and I'm making a lot of money I will change my car to a more luxurious, I will restore the house and I will not skimp on spending the weekend. That thought kills 35% of the business, which could have had an enormous success. Get into personal expenses, removing them from the benefits of your business being a new business; you will go bankrupt sooner than you think. […]

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