[Note from Sophie: Yes, this is a Pitchfest announcement with the usual $100 prize. But don’t skip to the contest – first, Lauren has some helpful advice to share with you about how to spare yourself the horror of working on a project that goes against your personal ethics and values.]
When it comes to freelance blogging, what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.
Every once in a while, you’ll be faced with a tough decision, and you’ll have to look deep inside yourself to see what you’re truly capable of. Are you willing to sell out an entire race just to feed your family? Is earning a paycheck more important than your humanity?
Earlier this year, I was hired by what I’d assumed to be a legitimate publication. I quickly found out that they were peddling hate speech and wanted ME to write it for them. I refused and removed myself from the project.
From there, I wrote a few posts on my personal website about my views on certain issues – sexuality, racism, etc. – so that future clients wouldn’t be confused about where I stand. I made it clear that I don’t tolerate hate, and that I refuse to write about it (unless it’s in the context of stopping said hate).
This put me in the Famine part of the Feast or Famine cycle for a while. Turning down a high-paying job is never easy, even if you believe strongly in your moral convictions.
However, thanks to the posts I made, I ended up with one of the best jobs of my career. They liked what I had to say on issues that were important to them. Because we were in synch on the tough issues, we ended up getting along incredibly well – and I fully back their company’s mission statement.
By sharing a little about my personal views, I was able to weed out the clients who were bad for me; and draw in the clients who were a perfect fit. It was a risky move, but well worth it.
Adjusting Your Website to Fit Your Personal Needs
Keep in mind that you don’t have to bombard potential clients with ALL of your thoughts on EVERY issue. It can be as simple as adding a note that says “I refuse to write hate speech” to your services page. Or “I really like to write about dogs” on your about page.
Pick a few key issues that are important to you and make it clear what you do and do NOT like.
Not only will this help potential clients and readers get to know the “real you” better, it will help to repel unwanted job offers and e-mails. The people who like you will stick around – the ones who don’t will leave. It’s as simple as that!
Make it clear that you’re a human being. In fact, my tagline for my personal site is “Lauren Tharp: Writer and Human Being.” And even on my business’ about page over on LittleZotz Writing, I have a section that describes me as a person – highlighting some personal stories and offering up some of my “likes.”
When it comes to things I won’t do, I relegated those to my FAQ page. I don’t write hate speech, I don’t accept guest posts on my websites, I don’t do anything illegal, and so forth. I make it clear exactly what NOT to ask me for. (And if someone DOES ask me for something I don’t do, I kindly refer them to my FAQ page).
One “don’t” in particular needed a link to a full post: why I don’t place articles. Spoiler alert! It’s because it’s illegal. Though you’d be surprised just how many “potential clients” ask for this “service.”
Know Your Don’ts
If you’re looking to weed out bad clients by adjusting your freelance blogging website, you’ll have to ask yourself some tough questions:
- What are your morals/values?
- What’s illegal in your area?
- What makes your skin crawl to write about?
Stuff like that. Really get nitty-gritty with yourself and think about the things you absolutely do NOT want to blog about, and why.
Like I said, you don’t have to go into full-on RANT MODE or write a 10-page essay about why you don’t like certain things. It can be as simple as one sentence stating what you won’t accept at your business.
If you can’t think of anything right now: wait. At some point in your career, something WILL come up that you’ll have to say “no” to. At that point, you can add a sentence on your website saying “I don’t blog about ________________.”
In the end, YOU are your freelance blogging business and YOUR professional integrity is what matters. Think about yourself every step of the way and you’ll not only be happier, you’ll earn more money in niches you can be proud of.
We Want to Hear YOUR Ideas
Hey! Guess what! This post is part of our quarterly PITCHFEST contest!
In case you’re not familiar, Pitchfest is a blog post pitching contest we run here on Be a Freelance Blogger every three months. You tell us your blog post idea and we choose our favorites, with prizes of up to $100 for the winners.
The contest starts today.
Your theme for this Pitchfest
This time we’re looking for pitches on the theme of “professional integrity.”
Interpret that theme any way you like! It could be anything from how to handle a client who gets too personal, to how to draft the perfect “I don’t do that and here’s why” email, to what you should write in an article if you strongly disagree with your source’s point of view.
We’re looking forward to seeing what YOU come up with.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Your pitch’s theme not only has to involve the “professional integrity” theme, but it also MUST revolve around freelance blogging (Be a Freelance Blogger’s niche). Whatever idea you present to us HAS to benefit freelance bloggers (or their clients) in some way.
- Anybody can enter the contest by typing (or pasting) their pitch into the comments box at the bottom of this page.
- Only ONE PITCH per person, please.
- Follow the pitch format I’ll tell you in a moment.
- After you submit your pitch, Sophie and/or I will offer feedback to help you optimize your idea for this blog’s audience and improve your pitching skills. You may also get feedback from other entrants, BAFB team members, and innocent bystanders — pay attention, because they represent your readers here.
- After you get our feedback, you can revise your pitch if you like and re-submit it by pasting it into a follow-up comment. And yes, that means you can offer us a completely different idea ifwe’ve told you your first idea definitely won’t work for this blog.
- If you win, we’ll ask you to send us a draft of at least 1000 words, so bear that minimum word count in mind when you pitch.
- First prize: $100 for your guest post, paid on publication.
- Second prize: $50 for your guest post, paid on publication.
- Third prize: A 3-question mentoring package with Sophie via email.
- Submit your pitch before the end of Saturday, September 30th, 2017.
- We’ll announce the winners on October 7th, 2017.
- If we choose your pitch, we expect you to deliver your first draft to me (Lauren) by October 21st. But if you need a little longer, let us know and we’ll work around it.
How to pitch
- Read our general guest blogging guidelines first, then come back here to submit your pitch.
- Suggest at least one headline designed to make freelance bloggers want to read your post.
- Follow the headline with the opening lines you’d use in the post. No less than 30 words, no more than 60. You DON’T need to write a whole post (or even a whole introduction) before you pitch — we’d like to give you feedback on your idea before you write a draft.
- After the opening lines, give us no more than 6 pointsyou’ll make in your post, and provide a one or two sentence summary of each point. (If you plan to make more than 6 points in your post, only tell us the most important 6 in your pitch.)
- Then explain in no more than 3 sentences why this is a great post for Be a Freelance Blogger and why you’re the right person to write it.
- Put your pitch in the comment box at the bottom of this page.
- Check the little box that says “Notify me of follow-up comments” so you’ll know when we’ve given you feedback.
- Submit your comment and if you followed all the steps above, you’re entered into the contest.
- It’s a good idea to explain how your pitch reflects the theme we’ve set for you — unless it’s blindingly obvious, in which case you can probably assume we’ll see the connection without extra signposting.
- Remember to tell us why you think your blog idea will interest the people who read Be a Freelance Blogger.
- To get a better idea of what Sophie and I are looking for in your pitch, study the pitches and responses in previous Pitchfests.
- Save a copy of your pitch somewhere before you post it here — if your comment gets lost in the internet, you don’t wanna have to re-write it from scratch.
- Your comment may get held in a moderation queue, especially if it contains hyperlinks. Don’t worry if that happens; we’ll get to it and reply!
OK, it’s time.
Let the Pitchfest begin!