If you are a freelance writer (or editor), your business vision is important.
May I write stuff for you?
OK, what do you think of that sales letter? Or how about:
May I write stuff for you? I have experience.
My tongue is not even stuck firmly in cheek here. Trying to drum up work, many freelancer writers write sales letters or website copy that says little more than the letters above say. Oh, maybe they say it more eloquently, but that’s about all they say — “may I write for you?”
“Write what? And who are you?” That’s what the reader needs to know.
That’s why you need a business vision (as well as a marketing plan). Your business vision describes who you are, what you do, who you do it for, as well as where, when, and why you do it.
“Who” for most of us is easy. Who am I? I am a freelance writer. (Or, in my case, a freelance writer and writing trainer.)
But what do I do? Do I write white papers, media releases, case studies, direct mail?
“What” I do is based on what I know how to do. For instance, if I don’t know what a white paper is, I wouldn’t try to sell white paper writing services. But if I have written direct mail brochures and media releases, then that is what I am going to actively sell. Or if I’ve never written a case study but want to, then I am going to learn how to do so before pitching that service to prospects.
“Where” and “when” is important too. For instance, I do my writing from home. That means I do not accept writing contracts that would involve going into work. However, I will travel to conduct training — half-day, full-day, or even a couple of days – out of the office.
I work almost all year (other than short holiday bursts), although I do shut down for most of December. And I don’t mind working evenings and weekends. If you shut down for the summer or for particular times during the year, then you better not take on clients who need you all year ’round. If you don’t work evenings or weekends, you need to avoid clients who have a propensity for rush jobs.
But who do I work for? Ask me what colour car I drive. The answer: a black one. In other words, why would I actively target the auto industry when I know nothing about cars? Ask me what I think about tobacco companies. Their executives should be shot. So big tobacco is not my target market either. But can I talk IT? You bet. And there are other sectors, like education, that I am very familiar with through my own education and work experience. So when I actively market my business, I sell specific writing and training services to companies in specific sectors.
I might accept work for companies in sectors that I don’t target (other than sectors that I would turn down for moral reasons), but only if they find me (through my website, for instance). And only if I believe I can deliver the right words, on time and on budget for the company or organization.
My vision describes who I am and what I want to do and who I want to do it for. It is the foundation of my marketing plan – my systematic plan of action that tells me how to make my vision real.
In other words, with a business vision in place, I am better able to craft marketing material that will help me sell specific services to companies and organizations in my targeted sectors so that I can generate business. My business vision helps me avoid marketing material that says little more than
May I write stuff for you?
Paul Lima is a freelance writer, business writing trainer and author of several books on business writing and the business of freelance writing, including Everything You Wanted To Know About Freelance Writing . Read about Paul’s books: www.paullima.com/books.