Advice to freelance creatives starting out

In 2016, I’ll celebrate ten years of freelance writing and consulting. In preparation, I’m carving time to look back over my key learnings, and share what I can. 

I wrote 7 Tips Every Freelance Writer Should Heed, And Newbies Need to Know for the Professional Writers Association of Canada, Toronto Chapter.

The tip that means the most to me is Tip # 2 Become an ambassador of your profession. It’s broadly applicable to any creative professional, so writer or no, if there’s a young creative in your life feel free to pass this on. 


Make a Referral Week!

Hey, this is a fun idea that’s come out of the States.

In an effort to remind us that we all have an active roll to play in stimulating our economy, John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing out of Kansas launched an email/blog campaign that encourages people to make referrals for other businesses. He says,

As the talk of recession crowds the news and economic stimulus package debates rage in Washington DC, it’s time for small businesses to take the matter into their own hands. Therefore we hereby declare March 9-13, 2009 – Make a Referral Week.

Make a Referral Week is an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small business economy one referred business at a time. The goal for the week is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses in an effort to highlight the impact of a simple action that could blossom into millions of dollars in new business. Small business is the lifeblood and job-creating engine of the economy and merits the positive attention so often saved for corporate bailout stories.

Check out their site and if you decide to make a referral, remember to copy it and post it up on LinkedIn too – once you’ve written it you might as well spread the love….

Do your clients and referrers know you?

People do business with people. Whether you are a one-person show or a large firm, you can use your communications tools to create opportunities for you and your people to get your name and face out in the world.

In this “world of choices” business environment, companies vie for attention by highlighting their unique advantages. Aren’t you a pretty unique advantage? What about your staff? I’ll say it again, people do business with people.

Web content, newsletter copy, business proposals… all your communications provide you with fabulous opportunities to help people get to know you and your company:

Use language that sets a tone for your business. If you are fun and dynamic, don’t just say, “we’re fun”. Use language that is light and structure your content in a playful (but still accessible) way. If you are primarily working with corporate executives, clear and concise messages with a touch of your humour would set you apart from those who stick to basic business-speak. That’s what I did for Core Dynamics Group’s site and the client feedback has been great!

Use the first and last names of your key people so that readers feel like they know your team. If Joe Smiley has run the printing press for your company for 35 years, let people know he’s your most trusted go-to guy and that folks are in good hands with Joe. Hemlock Printing has a nice way of establishing their staff as approachable-experts on their website (click on the Ink Lab link).

Use photos, don’t forget about visual language. That doesn’t mean stick a 4×6 glossy head-shot of you on your next business proposal (and let’s please put a moratorium on Christmas party photos on the web). Photos have to be appropriate and they have to be professional but there are fantastic ways to express your unique personality through a photo. I love how Industrial Brand Creative has used photos of their key creatives on their website and in their blog. And rethink takes it to a whole other level.

You may have clients who you will never meet face to face, I know that I do. But golf games and mixers aren’t the only way to build relationships. Use each and every communication to maximize your opportunities to be seen as a person, rather than a contract or worse, an extention of a product.

Last time, people do business with people.