November and December are the two most important months of the year for freelance writers. Here’s why: If you’re not in your clients’ budget plans for the coming year by December, you are unlikely to get a lot of work from them in the next 12 months. You might get a few assignments here and there, but a steady stream of work is doubtful unless there is a line item in the budget with your name next to it by New Year’s.
That’s why I start reaching out to my existing clients, as well as new prospects, in November. This is traditionally when most businesses are asking department managers to begin drafting budgets for the next fiscal year. You have to get on their radar screens then to make sure your name is included in the draft to provide writing services next year.
For most of my clients, the services I provide come out of the marketing budget. That means I am on the phone (Yes, this requires phone calls, not emails) with the marketing director by early November. For existing clients, I am checking to see if they will need more of my services next year. I let them know about any price increases. And more importantly, I remind them of other services I offer they may not have not known or forgotten about. (That’s called an upsell: “Would you like a social media package with that press release?”)
My November queries also target the prospects I’ve met in the preceding year. Really hot prospects get a personal phone call, while all others get at least an email. With these contacts, I try to be specific about upcoming opportunities and what I can do for them: “The Oil & Gas Journal has a radar issue coming up in March, would you like me to write up a case study to submit?”
If all goes well, December is a month that’s busily spent following up by providing the contacts with whatever information they need for their budget submission. In some instances, that’s just a simple price quote for single job, but in many cases I might be cranking out several formal proposals in the December days leading up to my annual two-week vacation at Christmas. And there’s nothing like settling down for my ‘long winter’s nap’ knowing I’ve already got business lined up for next year.
Want to know more about Marketing and Selling freelance writing services? I recently recorded a five-class Mini-Course on that very topic. Check it out here.