This week I’m pleased to feature Sharon Hurley Hall a professional freelance writer and the founder of sharonhh.com and GetPaidtoWriteOnline.com in an exclusive interview.
So far all of the successful entrepreneurs that I have featured in this ongoing series have been bloggers or affiliate marketers.
These are people who’s primary mission is to promote their blog, that’s why it’s always been important to note the rank of their site so you can get a picture of what they’ve accomplished.
Well, this week I’m changing things up a bit.
In response to the many questions that I receive on freelance writing I decided it’s time to talk to someone who is a real master of this very important craft.
Someone with experience that spans two decades and who’s work has been featured on top blogs like FreelanceSwitch, Unbounce, and the #IBCT nominated blog BasicBlogTips.
So, without further ado lets go to the interview:
This Fall will mark the 9 year anniversary for your domain sharonhurleyhall.com.
Can you share a tip or strategy or lesson that you learned as a beginner in your first 9 months that you still use today and can you share something new that you just learned in the last 9 months as an experienced freelance writer?
One of the first things I had to do when starting my writing business was to ensure that I had a system for keeping track of clients and jobs.
This has changed a lot over the years but some aspects have remained the same.
Each client gets a desktop folder and these days I often append the client name to the file name of the particular piece of work (this is to help me to find it easily later and to be sure which topics I have covered for which clients).
In addition, I use invoice numbers to keep track of batches of work for clients. This means I can almost always find a piece of work I need to use as a reference.
While I wouldn’t say that it’s a lesson from the last nine months, one of the things I’ve been doing most recently to promote myself is branching out to social media and other sites which didn’t exist when I started.
This includes an introduction to my business on SlideShare and Pinterest portfolio.
These both bring my work to the attention of people who might not otherwise have seen it.
I have told people that making a living as a freelance writer is about as hard as riding a skateboard while wearing roller skates.
What motivated you to keep going and NOT quit?
There’s no doubt that making a living as a freelance writer requires hard work, and there are two answers to your question.
The first is that I’ve been writing since my teens and couldn’t imagine doing anything else so it was up to me to make it work.
The second is that once I got my first few gigs I began to see the possibilities and to work actively to extend my client base and get the kind of income that matched my experience.
HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING let’s say that tomorrow morning you had to start over completely from scratch.
What would be the first 3 things that you would do?
1.I would set up a website where people could find out about me and see examples of my work (which was also one of the first things I did when I started freelancing). But I’d start with a website based on my name/business name from the beginning. The first time round I didn’t do that.
2.I would create a LinkedIn profile so I would have another professional online presence.
3.I would write several pieces of my best work and offer them to high profile blogs. You can’t make a success of freelance writing without marketing, and as a writer, great work is your best advertisement.
Can you share how innovation and out of the box thinking has helped your career?
You’re the first blogger I’ve seen with a monthly subscription product on Amazon. Can you share the success of some of your other creative ideas? How did this impact your blog traffic, subscribers, clientele, etc.
I’m lucky in that I love learning and trying new things so, for example, when Amazon announced that they were creating Kindle Publishing for Blogs, it was a no-brainer for me to sign my blog and see how it went.
While I don’t have huge reader numbers on that platform, there are about 60 people that choose to read my blog this way and there would probably be more if I published more regularly.
In the same way, my SlideShare business introduction is one of my most viewed presentations and I am sure that it brings business my way, though it is hard to put exact figures on it.
I would also say that although I never advocate doing long-term gigs for free, using this technique selectively can pay off. I contribute occasionally to Basic Blog Tips where my content gets dozens of comments and hundreds of shares. I know for a fact that I’ve had new paid gigs as a result.
Can you PLEASE share a tip or two for freelance writers desperately struggling to find good paying clients and gigs.
With two exceptions I have never found a decent gig on job marketplaces like Elance or Odesk.
In fact, I feel that in many ways these sites result in a race to the bottom in terms of pay and prestige.
Although it is a harder strategy, it is far better to go to sites where the scammy, low-paying gigs have been weeded out and learn how to bid so that you can get one of those. Once you get the first one that builds your confidence and it is easier to get others, especially if you get to publish bylined work as a result or can get a good recommendation from your client.
The places that I tend to look for jobs these days include All Indie Writers, the Problogger job board, and the Writer’s Bridge mailing list. I wrote about this in Five Best Sites For Freelance Writing Opportunities.
If you could travel to any place in the world where would you go and why?
It’s hard to narrow it down to just one place but I’ve always been attracted to the idea of visiting Peru and exploring its Amerindian history.
What annoys you the most about clients?
I’m lucky enough to have great relationships with my clients. However, like all freelancers, I’ve had a couple of cases where things didn’t go according to plan. One client in particular decided that she needed the money she owed for the work I delivered (which she was ecstatically happy with, by the way) more than I did. My view is that if we have an agreement that I will provide work for a set fee and you are happy with the work then you should pay for it and I shouldn’t even have to chase you. But as I’ve said, that’s only happened a couple of times. In case you’re interested, two ways to handle this are to take a deposit upfront and to make it clear that ownership of the work remains with you until it is paid off in full.
What I learned from Sharon Hurley Hall, Professional Freelance Writer:
#1 – You really need your own domain.
I know some don’t want to hear this but it’s true. One of the things that you have to understand is that before a client will hire you they will “check you out” your blog is there to close the deal. If you don’t have a blog guess what?
#2 – Guestposting for clients lives!
Matt Cutts may have put out a bounty hit on guest posting for seo benefits but there’s nothing he can do to stop guest posting as a means of attracting new clients. I learned from Sharon that this is the best justification for writing a guest post out of them all.
#3 – SMILE!
It’s contagious, I’m Serious. You can’t look at Sharon’s picture for more than 10 seconds without cheesing from ear to ear.
It almost makes me want to change my avatar pic and lose the helmet ha haaaaaaaaaa! Anyway, the point is to enjoy what you’re doing and it will come through in everything you do.
I want to thank Sharon Hurley Hall for taking the time to do this interview.
I know you could have written a featured article or guest post and GOT PAID but instead you shared knowledge and I really appreciate it, THANK YOU. Everyone add Sharon to your circles on Google+ and check out her website and blog for more info.
That’s it for this episode.
Don’t miss the first interview in the what I learned series featuring Steve Scott – The Six-Figure Affiliate Blogger.
You can also browse all of the latest interviews here.
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