You’re going DOWN, Sophie Lizard!*
In 2014, Sophie collaborated with Gary Korisko on a post and video called “Why Freelance Blogging is NOT a Numbers Game” that contains this tidbit:
Dashing off sloppy pitches to every blog in the universe is not the most profitable use of your time.”
Since my pet saying is “Freelance writing is a numbers game,” I’m taking this very, very personally. What, Gary and Sophie, you lookin’ at me?
Wanna see me get mad? Just watch this video:
Straw Men Need Not Apply
First of all: Whoa, hold up there! Who on God’s green earth equates the term “numbers game” with “crappy pitches”?
I suppose someone might be handing out that godawful advice, judging by pitches like this one, which I received on February 3, 2017:
Guest Post Request For There Negade Writer
My name is [name withheld to protect the guilty], a passionate blogger. I am a featured contributor at Ceo World Biz, Social Work Helper and also a columnist at Modern Diplomacy. I was going through some blog posts on your website and it really got my attention, seriously!
I am also willing to share my knowledge and experience with your readers. Would you please allow me to contribute? Below is the link to my writing samples do check them out.”
(What’s the main problem with this pitch, aside from mangling the name of our business? It’s that we closed down The Renegade Writer blog in December 2016, so I doubt our blog “got her attention, seriously!”)
However, if you’re reading the right people, when you hear “Freelance writing is a numbers game,” you can rest assured they are not talking about this kind of thing.
Freelance Blogging IS a Numbers Game—and Here’s How to Play It
While it’s true you shouldn’t spam the universe with junky pitches, it’s also true that the more you do something, the better your chances are at succeeding with it. If you buy 1,000 lottery tickets, you have a better chance of winning the jackpot than someone who bought just one, right?
The problem with many writers is that they buy zero lottery tickets. They’re so stuck in perfectionism that they don’t do any marketing at all because they’re afraid of sending out imperfect pitches.
Isn’t there a happy middle ground between hurling crap against the wall to see what sticks (as in the pitch above), and striving for perfection to the point that your marketing slows to a virtual crawl?
Why yes, there is. It’s called Volume Marketing, and it lets you play the numbers game the right way.
Let’s talk about how to make Volume Marketing work for you.
Do One Thing
If you’re like most bloggers, your marketing schedule looked a lot like this today:
8 am: Reached out to a prospect via Twitter. Phew, that was scary! Took a little break to recover.
8:30 am: Sent a sales email for your professional blogging services to a prospect. Also angst-producing, which is why it took an hour.
9:30 am: Updated your LinkedIn profile to be sure your title had good blogging-related keywords.
10:30 am: Dinged a blogger you’d like to guest for on Facebook. Anxiously checked back every two minutes to see whether he responded.
11 am: Gathered up the courage to send a query to a blog (30 minutes), and finally did it (45 minutes).
12:15 pm: Spent 15 minutes psyching yourself up, then called a local business that may need your blogging services.
Wow, it’s only lunchtime and you did six things! Woot!
If you chose just one form of marketing—one that you enjoy—you could be marketing much, much more. So your day would look like this:
8 am – 12:15 pm: Called 36 local businesses that may need your blogging services. The first one was cringe-inducing, but soon you were on a roll… and by the end you were a total pro! Oh yeah, and you also got six prospects asking you to send them more info.
8 am – 12:15 pm: Sent out 20 email pitches. Again, the first one was hard, but the last one was a breeze! Not to mention you actually made a sale.
My point: If you scatter your energies among 20 different types of marketing, you’re failing at the numbers game. Each time you switch from one tactic to another, you have to get psyched up and in the zone all over again. It’s like you’re running a long-distance race and you have to pull yourself out of a tar pit every 30 minutes. What a great way to slow your progress!
With Volume Marketing, you do one thing. Then you do more of it.
Do B-Minus Work
The writer of the ghastly pitch above got one thing right—she was clearly sending out her query in mass quantities. There are no perfectionist tendencies holding her up! Sadly, though, she probably didn’t get any gigs with that quality of pitch.
Here’s where Volume Marketing veers sharply from the M.O. of sending out loads of sub-par pitches, while also rescuing you from the chokehold of perfectionism:
In Volume Marketing, you allow yourself to do B-minus work.
This is not F work. It’s above average work, but not 100% perfect.
- Yes, you want to research your target markets, but you don’t want to get stuck in research mode.
- Yes, you want your pitches/call scripts/social media reach-outs to show you understand the prospect’s needs, but you don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of research-write-edit-research-write-edit-research-write-edit.
- Yes, you want your pitch — whether delivered by email, on social media, by phone, or even in person — to be conversational and easy to understand instead of dry and stiff, but you don’t want to agonize over it.
B-minus work strikes a happy medium and releases you from the grip of fear so you can get your marketing out there in volume. Sending out 100 “good-enough” pitches will net you an infinitely greater number of gigs than the pitch you don’t send because it’s not yet perfect.
The More You Do…
…the better you’ll get at it.
That’s the beauty of Volume Marketing. You start out with a B-minus and end up with an A.
If you let yourself be happy with B-minus work, allow yourself to make mistakes, and learn from your gaffes, soon you’ll be doing B work. Then B-plus, then A-minus, then A.
While you’re doing Volume Marketing, you’re learning on the job. You’re likely to get gigs just because you’re putting out massive quantities of marketing, and the number of gigs will only go up as your work gets better and better.
Compare that approach with going for A-level work right off the bat. If you haven’t pitched much, you’re probably at B-minus level anyway—and the pressure of striving for an A will, ironically, keep you from getting the massive amounts of practice you need to finally get that A.
Don’t spam out trash, but don’t stress over crafting flawless pitches either. Do good work, and do it in volume.
Now that’s playing the numbers game, Gary and Sophie. Any questions?
* J/K. You know I love you guys.
Do you want us (Linda and Sophie) to walk you through the Volume Marketing process and support you each step of the way? Then you’ll want to check out our Volume Marketing Challenge for Freelance Writers — a 6 week online program that gets you marketing like a pro.