Category: Resources

4 Freelance Copywriters Who Give Great Advice

There are many freelance copywriters who give great advice. If you braved the traffic, wind, and Trimet last Thursday, you met one of them. Formidable copywriter and content strategist Hank Hosfield spent nearly twfreelance copywriters who give great adviceo hours giving advice both practical and inspiring for new and veteran freelance copywriters at the Copywriter Conclave of Portland’s monthly meeting.  (You’ll have access to the entirety of Hank’s talk if you become a member.)

If you don’t have access to in-person resources, there are many freelance writing advisors on the Internet.  Many monetize that advice through coaching, online classes, e-books, and so forth.  Some are good and some are bad. Peter Bowerman (we’ve written about him before) is one of the best.  He’s written for corporations (such as Mercedes-Benz), and now a major line of his business is marketing to freelance copywriters like us.

I’ve encountered many freelance writers in my online travels, and I’ve interacted with four in particular who give excellent advice.  They share some traits:  many years of experience; impressive client lists; and a generosity of spirit.

SEO Copywriting

SEO Copywriting is based in Oregon (West Linn) and was founded by Heather Lloyd-Martin.  Heather has more than 20 years of marketing experience, and she was at the vanguard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) copywriting.  Heather markets to businesses, but she also offers a SEO Copywriting Certification to freelancers.  Heather sends out a weekly e-newsletter, and there is an array of informative blog posts at her site.  She’s also on Twitter.

Dr. Freelance

I became acquainted with Jake Poinier, aka Dr. Freelance, back in 2010 when I started my own freelance copywriting business.  Jake started his freelance shop in 1999.  He releases the Dr. Freelance series of e-books, and his blog posts are informative and entertaining.  He’s also personable, and I’ve learned a lot from him.  One topic he frequently tackles is the touchy subject of freelance writer rates.  You can also find him on Twitter.

Writing Thoughts

Laura Spencer has more than 24 years of professional copywriting experience, with 1,400+ articles and blog posts to her credit.  Laura is a working writer who is also a coach for freelance writers, focusing particularly on messaging and communication.  Laura writes valuable blog posts that touch on many aspects of running a freelance writing business.  Yup, she’s also on Twitter.

Productive Writers

John Soares is another Oregon-based writer (he lives in Ashland).  As of this blog post, he is not taking on new coaching clients, but he sells an e-book designed to help writers discover a niche that is right for them. (Our own Sheila Ashdown has similar advice.).  John’s own niche is in “freelance writing for college textbook publishers,” which has served him well over the years.  He is (you guessed it) on Twitter.

I think there’s an obvious market need for writing advice.  I’m on the fence if a “freelance advisor” should focus only on other freelance writers as his/her market. I think you run the risk of giving outdated advice unless you still market to businesses/institutions. That doesn’t apply so much if you’re discussing basic grammar rules or “how-to” prospecting tips.

I’ve learned the most from writers still “in the game,” and that’s why I’ve highlighted Heather, Jake, Laura, and John.

How about you?  Who do you feel gives great advice for freelance copywriters?

Tech Tools for Freelancers

Full disclosure: I’m new to the freelance game. Entering the freelance world after a career of safe, cushy corporate positions is a bit like a baby bird being pushed out of the nest, but it’s worth the risk to have more direct control over my career. Thankfully, I’m smart enough to know I can’t do it on my own. Whether you’re a newbie (like me) or a grizzled freelancing veteran, there are loads of innovative tech tools for freelancers that can help you run your  business like a Fortune 500 company.

Time Tracking Tools

Harvest – limited free option or $12 per month. This flexible, functional time tracking app is compatible with popular accounting programs (Quickbooks, Xero), project management apps (Basecamp), and CRM tools (Salesforce).

Paymo – limited free option or $9.95 per month. Inexpensive option for the sole proprietor offers a goal calendar, client portal and a desktop monitor that will show you how you’ve been spending (or wasting) your time.

Toggl – limited free option or $5 per month. A simple, inexpensive solution offering desktop monitoring, plus a handy Google Chrome extension and a workspaces option for simple, effective project management.

Freckle – $19.95/month. Simplified manual tracking with a clever hashtag feature, professional, Paypal-friendly invoicing and the cool Pulse feature that gives you a calendar view of your productivity.

RescueTime – limited free option or $9/month. Not an invoicing program, but a very robust time tracking/productivity tool. Helps you set goals, block time wasters and rates your activities on a productivity scale from “very distracting” to “very productive,” to produce an overall productivity score.

Social Media Management Tools

Hootsuite – limited free option or $14.99+ per month. Somewhat of an industry standard, it’s robust offerings include management for multiple accounts, team collaboration, scheduled updates and customized analytics. Can get expensive as you start adding team members and/or requesting additional reports.

Buffer – $10 per month. The perfect tool if you need posting and scheduling help across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

SocialOomph – limited free option or $39.99 per month. Compatible with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. blogs and more. Features include post scheduling, analytics and dashboard functionality.

Sprout Social – free limited trial then $39-$99 per month. A Hootsuite competitor, Sprout Social lets you manage, monitor, post and analyze multiple social media accounts from one location.

TweetDeck – free. This tool will help you manage, track and organize multiple accounts, as long as they are all Twitter accounts.

Project Management Tools

Basecamp – $20 per month. Widely used cloud-based project management solution.

Freedcamp – free. Essentially a free version of Basecamp, and a functional, robust project management option for freelancers on a budget.

Trello – free to $50 per month. An elegant, visually driven project collaboration tool.

Asana – free. A great, affordable option for smaller freelance operations, free for up to 15 users.

4 Valuable Services For Freelancers

U.S. CurrencyLast week we talked about 8 Cheap and Good Ways to Build Your Skill Set. This week we’re talking about valuable services for freelancers that aren’t necessarily budget-busting but ain’t cheap, either. As freelance writers and editors, our main selling point is how we can enhance businesses, institutions, and entrepreneurs by hiring us.  The services below help us enhance our own value propositions.

Adobe

If you need to edit a document in Acrobat, create your intellectual property via Photoshop, or design a long-form project using InDesign, then you know Adobe is essential. The company now offers convenient cloud-based monthly plans.  You can even choose a single-app plan for less than $20 a month, and the entire Creative Cloud is available for less than $50 a month.

$19.99-$49.99 per month. More info here.

LinkedIn Premium

LinkedIn’s free profile gives every member some advantages, but the premium versions are much more robust. You get way more InMails, more profiles per search, and the ever-useful “Who’s Viewed My Profile,” because we all enjoy flattery.

$47.99 for Business Plus and $74.99 for Executive. More info here.

Pancake (or FreshBooks)

I used my own non-branded invoice for the first couple of years of my freelance writing career. That got old fast.  I researched invoicing programs and started using FreshBooks. I switched to Pancake this year. Pancake charges a one-time fee, and then you host the software on your site’s domain. It has many of the same features as FreshBooks, including time tracking, project management, one-click invoicing. I love it so far.

$179 one-time set-up fee for Pancake.

$19.95-$39.95 monthly plans for FreshBooks.

 What non-cheap services do you use for your business?

 

8 Cheap and Good Ways to Build Your Skill Set

Looking for some cheap and good ways to build your skill set? Here are eight resources I’ve used in the past, currently, and can highly recommend:

  1. Copyblogger: Free content marketing education, and business development upgrades.
  2. Freemixx: Open source photo editor
  3. Inc. Magazine: Advice, tools, and services that help your small business grow
  4. Lumosity: Sophisticated, scientifically designed brain training for anyone. It may seem like fun and games, but it’s actually making your brain better.
  5. Lynda: Online video tutorials to help you learn software, creative, and business skills.
  6. Mercy Corps Northwest: Provide affordable business development education, financing, and business services.
  7. Treehouse: Learn how to build websites and apps, write code, or start a business with video tutorials and exercises.
  8. W3 Schools: Free coding education.

What cheap skill-building resources have you come across in your professional development? Share them in the comments. It would be great to build this list out more!

View Copywriting From 3 Different Angles [VIDEO]

Streamed live on April 24, 2014, I was interviewed by Nick Mendez of the Mathys+Potestio Creative Party, on the subject of copywriting.

My fellow panelists included veteran copywriter and strategist Jaye Davis, and aspiring copywriter Page Jensen-Slattengren. Here’s the 32-minute interview that’ll help you view copywriting from three different angles.