It’s not a nice word, but it’s the way freelance writing feels sometimes.
We’re reminded constantly by cheapo prospects that it’s a saturated market, that there are lots more writers than opportunities, and that we’re all on a race to the bottom, where the lowest price and shittiest work awaits.
And that to get anywhere near that shitty work, it’s other freelance writers we’ve got to fend off.
Give A Hand To Get Ahead
While it’s true that the freelance writing market is saturated, the way to get to the top isn’t by stamping on other freelance writers, undercutting everyone, and kicking your way up.
No, the way up is to lend other writers a helping hand.
Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?
Helping other writers succeed is all well and good – but what if they do? Where does your work go? What if they succeed and you don’t? Why should you help them when no one’s helping you?
This defensive mindset is one of the things holding freelance writers back.
I talk about relationship building all the time, and I mean what I say: it’s the single best way to make a success of a freelance copywriting career.
There will always be someone who’ll take whatever help they can get and leave you eating their dust. But, there’ll be another 10 who’ll remember the help you gave them – and who’ll return that goodwill when they get a chance.
My 3 Referral Rules
One of the main ways I help other freelance writers is to refer work to them.
I get this all the time: I’m contacted by prospects wanting to me to do X job and, for whatever reason, I can’t. Maybe I’m too busy, maybe the fee’s good but not as high as I’m charging now, maybe the work’s just not my cup of tea.
Instead of saying, “No thanks,” I say, “No thanks, but I’d love to refer someone to you.”
I’ve got rules:
- I’ll refer you if I know you’re reliable and professional
- I’ll refer you if I know you’re a good writer
- I’ll refer you if I know you help other freelance writers out
There’s no guarantee that the prospect will go with the referral, but we all win from it. Why?
- The prospect gets a positive response and a candidate for their job
- The other writer gets a confidence boost and a shot at some new work
- I get to build positive relationships with the prospect and the writer
There’s plenty of goodwill being established here – and goodwill, as well as just making you feel good, has a habit of coming back to you.
Reciprocity not transactionality
Another one of my Things To Remember™
Look at it this way: I give you a square of my chocolate. The next day, I’m back, asking you when you’re going to give me a square of chocolate. The same chocolate. Cos I gave you some, right? So where is it?
Leaves a bad taste, right?
But how about this: we’re in a room full of freelance writers and I give you a square of chocolate. You haven’t got any chocolate of your own right now, but you sure do appreciate that little chunk of goodness.
Another freelancer gives me a square of their chocolate. Now I’m pretty happy, too. I share out more of my own chocolate.
Finally, you’ve got some chocolate of your own. Yay!
You remember me sharing my chocolate with you, and you know I’m pretty good at eating chocolate, so you offer me a piece. I’m happy about this, but I’m not actually hungry so you give the chocolate to someone else.
We’re all giving and getting.
We’re all GETTING CHOCOLATE.
That’s my take-away message here: chocolate for all.
But seriously: the help you offer one person might not come back to you from them straight away – or at all. But keep supporting your fellow freelancers long enough and people will notice.
Goodwill comes back.
Be Supportive Not Defensive
The defensive mindset is a killer for a freelance writer. If you’re treating other freelance writers like they’re something to be kept at arm’s length and treated with suspicion, you’re missing out on:
- A supportive community
- A chance to share ideas and grow
- A way to discuss challenges and problems
- Opportunities and referrals
Supporting other writers doesn’t always have to come in the form of referrals, either.
Shooting the breeze on social media, offering tips to writers in a bind, liking and commenting on other writers’ blog posts and updates – all these things can help you and your fellow writers feel less alone, and grow your businesses and public profiles.
As you reach out to other writers, you’re showcasing good things about yourself: your helpfulness, your insightfulness, your professionalism, your kindness and your security in your own career.
Who doesn’t want to work with someone like that?
The freelance writing market is saturated – that much is true. But instead of hiding yourself and the opportunities that come your way from other writers, open up a little.
Word of mouth is the best way to win business – hands down every time – so be someone at the centre of those conversations. Build up goodwill by helping others, and you’ll benefit in the end.
Do you help out other freelance writers or are you a lone wolf?! Tell me what you think in the comments or come chat @LorrieHartshorn!