Re: Valuable opinions

Subject: Re: Valuable opinions
From: Cher Martin <CMARTIN -at- MSGATEWAY -dot- WICHITAKS -dot- ATTGIS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 13:41:00 PST

I agree with Len on all counts. When I was a freelance writing consultant,
I found that -- despite active and aggressive marketing -- almost all my
work came from referrals. Often I was hired on the phone or after only a
brief discussion because prospective clients trusted the referral to me that
they were given. This came as a huge surprise but making contacts and
keeping satisfied clients brought the best results.

Now that I have a regular job and have some occasion to hire freelancers, I
look for someone who is experienced and can do high-quality work that meets
our deadlines. Other important traits are lots of initiative, flexibility
and ability to work well with others. We'll write a contract with the right
person but usually have a specific budget within which we must work so look
for someone who can produce high-quality results at a reasonable price.
Unfortunately, there are lots of people out there who want to be tech
writers but just can't offer the right combination of skills.

For marketing, I mostly used a direct phone-call approach to clients in
industries where I had the most value to add, mentioning referrals when I
could. If there was some interest, I sent a package of information on my
services and credentials and followed-up by phone at an agreed-upon time for
further discussion. If all went well, I set an appointment to show my
portfolio and talk about potential projects. Usually, all this involved a
lot of work for the business I received. Referrals required less effort and
brought higher results. There are some books I can refer you to but will
have to look them up and get back to you.

I also agree with having a contract, making sure you can meet all deadlines
you commit to and phasing payments for clients. For smaller jobs I have set
up payments with, for example, a third of the amount to start, a third at
mid-point (usually associated with a major milestone) and a third on
completion. I've found that clients are uncomfortable without a fixed
contract amount over which they feel they have some control. Most of my
work was repeat business with the same clients so I did my best to work with
a clear contract and deliver what I said I would. I always provided an
attachment to the contract which gave an overview of the exact work that
would be done. I think this also helps raise a client's awareness and
appreciation when they can see a list of all the services you are providing.

Good luck,


cher -dot- martin -at- wichitaks -dot- attgis -dot- com
From: Len Olszewski
To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
Subject: Re: Valuable opinions
Date: Tuesday, November 28, 1995 2:07PM

In article <199511280058 -dot- AA14714 -at- lamb -dot- sas -dot- com>, "Julie A. Zagorski"
<juliez -at- NIGHTOWL -dot- NET> writes:


|> Thus comes my request for your help:
|> Please send some advice for locking down contracts, or maybe point me
|> somewhere for information on more aggressive marketing strategies?


You need to network. That sounds trite, but that's what you need to do.
Be active in STC forums, local trade organizations, and so forth. You
have to make contacts to find contracts.

After you have secured leads, you must then propose and price correctly.
Phased proposals with checkoff milestones work well; they eliminate a
lump sum payment at the end, and give clients the sense that they are
paying only if they are satisfied.

The best strategy after contracts are completed is to aggressively seek
follow-on work with the same clients. The next best strategy is to seek
work via word-of-mouth using your current clients as contacts. The worst
strategy is to take on more work than you can reasonably complete at a
high level of quality.

Be honest in your estimates, and don't underprice yourself. Never turn
down work when you are idle even if it's not in your area of expertise.
Keep copious records of all negotiations, and never ever work without a
signed contract.

Good luck.


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