As a freelance writer, one of the biggest challenges you face is setting yourself apart from everyone else. There are lots of amateurs out there who claim to be professional writers – so unless you show your potential clients that you are serious, you’re not going to stand out from the crowd. There are a number of effective ways to do this, and some can actually save you time and money.
Appearing professional starts with the quotation that you give to your client. Don’t just write an email that explains how wonderful you are – instead, invest the time to put together a proper quotation and attach it to your email. Include a cover page that clearly identifies that this is a quotation that you have prepared for the client, along with the name of the job, the date on which the quotation was issued, and the date on which it expires.
It is also a good idea to include your logo on the cover page – if you don’t have one, get one designed. Provide a line item breakdown in the body of the quotation, along with any assumptions or conditions – for example, the number of revisions that are included. Not only will this make you appear more professional, it will establish a clear scope for the quote – saving you time and aggravation if you win the job.
Another way to set yourself apart is to include indicative graphics with your writing. This doesn’t mean that you have to do the graphic design – you just need to provide direction to help the client choose appropriate graphics.
Stock photography is a good tool for doing this – for example, Dreamstime stock footage and photos can cost less than a dollar each, which is a tiny fraction of the overall cost of a job. As well as giving your deliverable a much more polished appearance, this can save you time and money – clients are far less likely to ask for extensive rewrites if you deliver something that looks close to a final product. On the other hand, if you give clients a rough draft, they will often make changes even when they aren’t warranted, especially if they are challenging clients.
Finally, for larger jobs – more than a few pages – be clear with the client that you are going to produce an outline before you actually write the final copy. This doesn’t have to be extensive – but it should list the main sections, along with bullet points that capture the essence of the content for each section.
Ask the client to review and approve this before you start to write – as well as creating a professional image, this will give you an agreed baseline from which to create the final copy. This will reduce the likelihood of rewrites, and allow you to charge additional fees if the client has a change of mind subsequently. You will also find it much easier to produce copy using an outline as opposed to just diving in and starting to write.