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Archives for July 2006

Freelance Writers: How to Develop a Profitable Writing Niche with No Experience

Previously Titled: How to Develop a Niche with NO Experience & Make it Profitable for Years to Come

One of the things I stated in the article, 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from 19+ Years as a Freelancer & Recruiter in the Editorial Industry, is that freelancers should develop a niche (see lesson #7 in this article).

“BUT,” you may wonder, “how do you develop a niche with no experience?” It’s actually relatively easy and can be done in three easy steps.

1. Make a list of your experiences, likes, hobbies, etc. Why? Because the first step in developing a niche is to go with your strengths. Even if you have no professional experience in an area, if you like it, chances are you will work to become proficient in it.

For example, in my professional life, I’ve been a real estate agent, a loan officer, a credit counselor, a recruiter and a legal copy editor (among a few other things — but we’ll just stop here). Remember, this is just professionally.

My hobbies are running, real estate investing, reading historical romances, sewing, interior decorating and designing ethnic pottery, among a barrage of other things (I have a very active mind and a hint of ADD!).

Now that you have this list, what do you do with it?

2. Target lucrative markets: Not every interest you have will make a viable niche market. This may be because they are not willing to pay for your services, don’t need your services and/or there aren’t enough of their type to market to.

With your list in hand, choose markets where: a) your services are needed on a continual basis; b) your asking price can be met with relative ease; and c) there are sufficient numbers to market to.

Also, you might want to consider competition; as in, how much/little do you have? While there is always room for one more company to offer a product/service, my thought process is why fish in a crowded pond.

Go after a market that not many others are targeting. Sometimes this market will reveal itself in your list of professional experiences and/or hobbies. Other times, you may have to work harder to find it. Just make sure that however you choose your market, you keep in mind the points mentioned above.

Now that you know who you want to market to, how do you get those all important first few jobs which lead to samples, references, etc.? Simple.

3. Do low-cost/no-cost work: Always try to get paid for any work you do. You can target local charities; do work for friends with businesses; contact start-up companies, etc. Your mission starting out is to get those first 4 or 5 jobs under your belt.

If you’re not having any luck landing paid work, try this. Target a company and do the work without asking them (eg, rewrite their badly worded brochure you received in the mail; rework their ineffective web copy; design their logo; etc.). Then, contact them with their original and your NEW, improved version. Not many businesses will turn down improved work they don’t have to pay for. Just like that, a legitimate credit!

Even if a company refuses, you can still use it in your portfolio. Just change the name of the company to something that obviously reflects that it’s a fictitious company with the caveat that the name has been changed, but the revisions made were to original copy.

Now, you’re on your way!

Submit a Guest Post: This site and its sister site, SeoWritingJobs.com, accepts guest posts. Get the guest post submission guidelines.

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Copyright © 2006: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written consent (linking to is fine).
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How to Get a Job in a Slow Economy

As a former recruiter and small business owner, I am often approached for interview tips. This is a broad topic, so I’ll address what stands out to me as an employer.

I won’t address the obvious of being on time, dressing appropriately, smelling appropriately, and bringing along a clean copy of your resume and references on nice, matching paper. I will address the “human” aspect of interviewing.

Before you pick up the phone, turn on your computer, or slide your resume into a fax machine, prepare mentally for your job search. How you feel begets what you think which governs how you act. A karmic string links all of our thoughts and actions. If they are not properly aligned, our message will not be carried through as fully, forthrightly and forcefully as it could be.

Career Advice: 6 Job Hunting Tips

Keeping this in mind, here are six things you can do to increase your chances of finding a job.

1. Decide with your whole heart that you want the job BEFORE you apply.

This is akin to putting a smile on your face before you answer the phone. Although the person on the other end can’t see the smile, they can tell that it’s there.

What I’ve noticed, especially in this economy, is that applicants apply for jobs half-heartedly because they need to pay the rent, but in other circumstances would have no interest in the position. Then, when they are called for an interview, their heart is not in it, and this shows. How?

The answers to questions are too general, the body language is “slumpy”, the ‘what can you do for me’ instead of ‘what I can do for your company’ attitude is very much on display. It’s an immediate turn-off. Many times after I interview an applicant, I feel that they feel they’re doing ME a favor.

Remember, no one owes you a job. A job is simply a service that someone is fortunate enough to be able to buy — someone worked hard enough and sacrificed long enough to build an enterprise. Because they’ve been successful, they are able to hire others to do what they no longer want, need, or have the time/desire to do.

To paraphrase JFK, “ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company.” This attitude will shine through in an interview.

2. During the interview, smile and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Don’t ask about health benefits, days off, etc. (these are questions for later interviews). But, do ask about office environment — do you all work in teams, are there special projects that I can volunteer for after I’ve proven myself, is there chance for advancement, was the company focus always this, etc. In other words, make the interview easy for the person who is interviewing you.

Believe it or not, interviewers are just as nervous as you are sometimes and need your help to ease the tension. Have you ever been privy to a bad interview? One where the interviewee gives one word answers, not expanding on obvious, open-ended questions. Don’t do this. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than a person who drones on and on. Make sure that you’re addressing pertinent points in your narrative, not simply talking to be talking.

3. As the interview is coming to a close, question the interviewer.

Is there anything else that you’d like to ask me or that you feel I didn’t fully address? If not now, feel free to contact me with any questions/concerns. I want to do everything I can to make it easy for you to make a decision.”

This demonstrates that you realize there may be points overlooked, not explained fully, et cetera that the interviewer may be hesitant to readdress. By being open, you make it easy for them to ask you, therefore providing you the opportunity to re-emphasize important points.

4. Don’t appear desperate.

Remember this commercial slogan—”Never let’em see you sweat!” Human instinct is to withdraw from a person who seems desperate, because you feel responsible for them. Hiring managers want to hire the best person for the job, not the most desperate.

I’ve literally had people cry in my office, on the phone, and write letters explaining why they must have a job – now! It doesn’t have to be this obvious, but trust me, desperation kills the natural mood of an interview. Just as we are drawn to, and like to be around, those who display a sense of confidence, we are turned off by those who lack confidence and appear desperate.

5. Remember, hiring managers want you to be the best fit for the job.

If you’ve gotten as far as an interview, we want you to be THE one because it means less work for us. So, go in knowing that we’re on the same side.

Pretend that the interview is just to tie up loose ends. For example, instead of prefacing a phrase with, “If I get the job, my duties would be . . .” A better phrase would be, “As [substitute job title], my duties would be…” It’s subliminal, but it works.

6. Follow up with a thank you note.

I advise both email and handwritten. Email for immediacy; handwritten for a touch of class. Note: Unless you are specifically advised NOT to e-mail. I’ve never heard of anyone asking you not to send a handwritten thank you note.

Without addressing all the obvious do’s and don’ts, these are the areas more applicants should pay attention to.

Good luck!

Yuwanda

coverP.S.: Want to ditch the 9 to 5 and start a successful freelance writing career? You can!

Get the ebook that pushed my freelance writing career to the next levelallowing me to travel and live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life.” One freelancer wrote:

Hey Yuwanda,

I hope all is well! I just wanted to let you know that this month marked the first month that my writing income surpassed that of my day job. Thanks to your help and inspiration, I have more work than I know what to do with and have successfully landed a number of clients that give me recurring work. Thanks again for your advice!

Editor Note: This freelancer sent this email in on March 1, 2013. He purchased Inkwell Editorial’s SEO writing ebook in April 2012. And not even a year later, he made this kind of progress.

P.P.S.: You can now order any of our products (like the SEO copywriting course) and take up to 6 months to pay.

 

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