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Freelance writing - crisis of confidence!

(14 Posts)
PolkerrisBeach Fri 06-Jul-18 16:55:37

Have been working for myself as a freelance writer / researcher for about a decade. I only do it part time around the kids and we're in the fortunate position that we're not depending on my money to pay the bills, it's for extras.

Anyway. Most of my work up until now has been through PPH, I've been on there years and never bid any more, regulars come to me. But I'm always aware that situations change and always try to have other income streams on the back burner. After a recent change to the PPH commission which makes picking up new clients even more unattractive, I had the "bright" idea of firing off a few emails to local businesses - along the lines of "I see you have a blog, hasn't been updated for a bit, I can help you with that, give me a ring etc etc."

This morning one of them called me. He wants to meet up and talk through what I can do to help them.

AAAAARRRGGGGHH panic. Never met a client face to face before. His business is health related, not physiotherapy but similar. I haven't written for businesses in this market in the past but have done similar. I can email him examples of previous work - there's very little on the internet under my own name though.

So how do I handle this pitch? We talked on the phone about how it's important to have a plan and not just add random blogs in a panic and he seemed to get that idea. Do I go in and pitch for maybe 10 posts to start with? What do I wear??? And fees - not a clue.

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confusedmomm Sun 08-Jul-18 16:37:29

Hi there!!

You got this. The hardest part is actually getting a call back from the emails you send out seeking business so you're in a good position here! Make a plan even if it's just a rough bullet pointed summary of what you would do if that was your business to make it grow, and then just expand on that during the meeting! Don't panic, you'll be fine!

SoloD Sun 08-Jul-18 19:41:05

Worse that can happen is that you don't hear from them. In this case what you could suggest is that they write a brief outline of what they want to say and that you craft it into a readable and interesting piece.

Remeber that you are bringing your skills to work here, skills most people don;t have.

SoloD Sun 08-Jul-18 19:41:44

Also I use PPH to find people, what are the changes?

PolkerrisBeach Sun 08-Jul-18 19:55:10

PPH used to charge I think 15% on the first £175 in the month, then 3.5% on everything after that.

As of 1st July it changed to three tiers based on how much work you've done for any particular client. If it's a new client you haven;t worked with before, it's now 20% for the first £500, there's another rate for between £500 and £5000 and a lower rate after that.

I'm in a fairly strong position in that most of my clients I've been working with for years, but knowing that the first £500 is a whopping 20% plus VAT commission is really putting me off looking for new people. You know how it is - clients say they're looking for a long term relationship, commission a batch of 20 articles or whatever, then you never hear from them again.

So because I thought bidding on new stuff is becoming less attractive, I thought i'd try something else. Have even ordered business cards and everything ;-) I've spoken to the potential client on the phone and have a fair idea of what he wants to do. Will jot down a few ideas and email him some stuff I've done before. Only emailed 6 businesses and got one meeting out of it - pretty good hit rate!

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PolkerrisBeach Sun 08-Jul-18 19:55:52

Meant to add that the new PPH rates are cumulative, it doesn't start again every month.

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happyinherts Sun 08-Jul-18 20:02:06

Totally demoralised by PPH and how they've treated their long-standing freelancers.

As someone who would under these rates be giving them a good 600 pound a month for absolutely nothing - presuming all my client's stayed on site - that totally sucks. Truth is they won't, and you have to be proactive and do what you can to salvage your livelihood. Well, done OP - fantastic start. You can do this and build on it.

PolkerrisBeach Sun 08-Jul-18 20:09:13

PPH say it's about encouraging long term relationships between freelancers and clients. I get that - I will definitely be sticking with my current 4 or 5 clients who I get most work with.

But it really doesn't encourage me to start trying to develop new relationships, because you're paying such a hefty whack of commission on new projects it's not worth taking the risk without guarantees of repeat work. We've all had clients who promise to stick hundreds of pounds worth of work your way each month and it never materialises.

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happyinherts Sun 08-Jul-18 20:17:39

My dashboard tells me I've worked with 535 clients - not one of them has given me 5K of work. So it's 20 per cent on everything.
Bad spin, it's not encouraging long term relationships as most of these are either one-off students or the kind of business that isn't in the market for repeat trade - just someone to tide over urgent days, holidays and sick.

PPH stand to gain far more out of this than clients or freelancers.

PolkerrisBeach Sun 08-Jul-18 20:26:18

Happy, I think there's another rate between the 500 and the 5000. If you go to your payments section where you make withdrawals it will tell you the rates.

First £500 earned with a Buyer (excl. VAT) 20%
£500 - £5,000 earned with a Buyer 7.5%
Over £5,000 earned with a Buyer 3.5%

But yeah, 7.5% is still a lot heftier than 3.5%.

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happyinherts Sun 08-Jul-18 20:31:37

True Polkaris - but I haven't made 500 with many either sad

Anyway, not to hijack your thread - I'm sure you'll be fine. First steps are always the most nerve wracking, but soon you'll be flying and wondering why you were nervous. You have skills which are in demand - be positive, remember that and I'm sure things will work out. All the best.

PolkerrisBeach Sun 08-Jul-18 20:36:46

Agree that the new commission structure isn't in anyone's favour. I'm very lucky to have the same 4 or 5 people coming back again and again but i'm glad to have another couple of irons in the fire elsewhere too.

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astoundedgoat Mon 09-Jul-18 08:02:58

Best of luck Polkerris - you can do this!

I closed my PPH account altogether after they contacted me to ask would consider giving a £2k NIGHTMARE client a partial refund, or help him out for free, because he was kicking off about my code (I build websites) - I looked at the back end of the website and his PPH profile and he had been working with another developer for about 6 months in between! The website was WordPress so it wasn't exactly opaque... (and he's still using it, incidentally).

Their contractor support has usually been very good but that was ridiculous. Between that and the new rates, and the flood of developers from Odesk/Freelancer after the merge + rate hike, PPH became unsustainable for me, even though I was a Top Rated contractor (although I didn't have anything like as many clients as above!!).

They're going to lose a lot of great contractor like you Polkerris.

PolkerrisBeach Mon 09-Jul-18 08:56:09

Thank you all for the words of encouragement, you're all very kind.

I do really wonder who'll be bidding on the smaller pieces of work. I'd only bid on a £100 piece of work with a fee of £125 - to cover commission costs. I'm in the fortunate position that we're not relying on PPH to pay the mortgage but there will be lots of contractors who are. It's hard enough to compete against the contractors from other country who are already prepared to work for practically nothing, and trying to show a client that paying £2 per 500 words from someone in Bangladesh/Kenya/Nigeria is going to get you copy so badly written that you have to pay someone else to re-write it all properly. I have another decent "content mill" type gig which I get a couple of hundred a month through, and hopefully can start to pick up more real life clients.

Never easy being freelance!

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