#100: Lessons from a Pandemic Year, with Jennifer Goforth Gregory

It’s my 100th episode! For this very special episode, I invited back my very first guest (in episode 4), Jennifer Goforth Gregory. Jennifer focuses on B2B technology content marketing writing. She is a leader in the content marketing writing world—she literally wrote the book “The Freelance Content Marketing Writer”—but like so many of us, the pandemic brought many challenges. She went from working home alone to having her husband and two teenage kids around all the time. And she lost a anchor client quickly, leading her to panic and fear she’d lose all her work. However, she ended up having the best income year of her freelance career in 2020.

During the pandemic, Jennifer struggled with how much to work, faced with a high demand of technology writing. Plus, her husband was laid off and she became the sole breadwinner and felt the financial pressure. On the other hand, her kids would be heading to college soon and she wanted to embrace the “gift of time” and spend plenty of quality time with them.

But because she felt she needed some higher-paying work, she took on an email writing project that was a risk for her. And she realized she was good at it and has since earned about $25,000 writing emails as a copywriter.

Jennifer says her work has three variables: the client, the niche and the type of writing. She realized, through the new email writing project, that she can only have one new variable when she’s trying something new. In this case, it was an existing client in a niche she knew well. Just a new type of writing.

Jennifer was also open about her situation and told existing clients that her husband got laid off and she was looking for more work. That’s how she was offered the initial email writing project.

This pandemic year taught Jennifer to take a better look at her strengths and weaknesses and be honest about what she’s not good at.

One “hidden blessing” from this past year was that Jennifer joined a weekly Zoom meeting with about five other writers, initially to share job leads. They helped her launch a training class, figure out how to price projects and how to handle failure.

Most of Jennifer’s work comes to her directly, from people finding her on LinkedIn, coming across her website or seeing articles she’s written that are similar to their needs. She thinks it’s a mistake for freelancers not to use LinkedIn more.

Do you know your “why?” Why are you a freelance business owner? Jennifer tells the story of how she was supposed to moderate a conference panel when she learned that her son, a senior in high school, was selected for a golf match at the same time. One of her “why”s has been to spend more time with her kids, so she knew she had to be at the golf match. She found a replacement moderator and went and was honest with people about why she was absent.

When Jennifer has a hard personal or work decision, she stops and asks herself, “What am I going to regret when I’m 80?” 

Jennifer released her book, “The Freelance Content Marketing Writer,” two years ago. She’s been blown away by the success. She self-published and has covered her publishing costs. Now, any proceeds go to her dog rescue. She plans to update the book in 2021 to add in new lessons.

Jennifer’s Facebook group of the same name, “The Freelance Content Marketing Writer,” now has over 6,000 members.

Jennifer launched a training class, “Make More Money as a Freelance Content Marketing Writer,” and now offers a self-paced version of that class.

Jennifer gives tips on finding the perfect client for you. One of the mistakes freelancers make is they mainly qualify their clients based on price—are they going to pay my rate?—and that should just be the beginning. Instead, you should look for clients that meet your strengths and your weaknesses.

Jennifer actively chooses her clients, not letting them hire her. It’s a mutual decision. She tells them on the initial phone call that she is actively picking her clients and is interviewing them to find if they’re a good fit.

Jennifer also talks about Zoom video calls, which has been a debate in her Facebook group. Some writers hate that seemingly everyone wants to do Zoom video calls now, while other writers find them more helpful. Jennifer thinks video chats are a great way to initially meet with a client to see if they’re a good match. It can also be helpful when doing content marketing interviews with sources.

Jennifer encourages freelancers to actively ask their clients for referrals. And want to get more referrals? Then, give them out frequently for other freelancers. They will return the favor.

Jennifer also makes sure to update her website regularly with new articles in her portfolio. Clients have commented that they like that her clips are very recent.

Biz Bite: Follow up with the people in the “who viewed your profile” section on LinkedIn

Resources:

Episode #4 of Deliberate Freelancer: Work Only with Nice Clients, with Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer’s book “The Freelance Content Marketing Writer

Jennifer’s Facebook group: “The Freelance Content Marketing Writer

Jennifer’s courses

Jennifer’s website

Jennifer on LinkedIn

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