When I decided I wanted to become a ‘real’ freelance writer, I had absolutely nothing to lose. My bank account was zero — it would have been less than zero, but my bank manager refused to give me an overdraft of even £10… — I had no other work commitments, and my days were spent writing a novel and only writing a novel (well, sometimes I watched TV, but mainly I just threw myself into the book as a way of keeping myself busy). Anyone who says you don’t need money is lying and has money. Without it, life can be very grim indeed…
At the same time, I feel utterly ridiculous about complaining. The area where I live is about as middle-class as it gets. Sure, the remains of working-class Britain are all around me — in the park with the 1980s play-area which stands like a grim reminder and is rarely used, for instance — but nobody in my street is going to starve.If they are it’s their own stupid fault — Waitrose is 15 minutes away for anyone who can be arsed.
So, I had nothing to lose. And it was then that I came up with a tactic for getting freelance work. Or, what some might call A CRAZY SCHEME. Rather than answering numerous Gumtree ads — a technique which had proved relatively pointless, because, as any fledgling writer knows, it’s almost impossible to get paid for writing when you’re completely inexperienced in the professional field — I decided to go straight for the business jugular: the companies out there that might want a writer like me.
So that’s exactly what I did. I wrote a basic form letter, adjusted it as I landed on various web-sites — I began with furniture-making companies, as I noticed many of them had utterly rubbish content which could be greatly improved — and sent a lot of emails.
By a lot I mean thousands. I can’t remember how many exactly, but it had to have been at least 3,000. In the end I lost count.
What happened next?
I received emails, and not all of them were friendly.
In fact…around 70% of them were along the lines of “please don’t ever contact us ever again.”
Emphasis on the ever.
I won’t lie, I was disheartened. It came as a blow. Had I expected a thousand people to write back demanding I start writing content right away? No. But equally I hadn’t anticipated such a barrage of negativity. It wasn’t like I was selling Viagra or printer cartridges made out of organic Amazonian tree-matter. Or Japanese-lady-boys.
Thinking about it now, the Amazonian tree-matter thing isn’t such a bad idea after all…
Then, one day, a week or so after those manic days of emailing, something amazing happened.
If I’d have had access to a large boat I’d have gone to the front — along the way grabbing any woman who was available, and wasn’t scared of water, of course — and done a Titanic “I’m the King of the world!”
I had to read the email twice. It was just too…positive. This email was very different to the others. It wasn’t a Yes, exactly, but it also wasn’t a direct No. Instead, it was something in-between. In the long-run, it transpired that it would be the start of a great working relationship between me and a fine furniture-making company — one who I have now written numerous articles and web-site copy for.
The lesson? Persistence pays. Don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise. They are completely and utterly wrong.
Unless they’ve been trying to shift Viagra…