Getting ghosted by freelance writing prospects?
It happens. And it’s happening a lot more during the COVID-19 craziness.
Some businesses have closed or downsized. Editors and marketing directors are scrambling to adjust to a different publishing environment.
And even without a pandemic in process, there’s a million other reasons you might be getting ghosted by a prospect that sounded promising.
- What can you do if a hot prospect goes quiet?
- How do you follow up without sounding desperate or pushy?
The right answers to these questions can turn dead ends into paying gigs.
Ghosting happens to everyone, even to top-earning freelance writers. You might think you did something wrong, quoted too high, or said something offensive. But that’s almost never the case after a positive call with a prospect.
Want to know how to handle getting ghosted? Here’s the script to break the silence.
The classic getting-ghosted scenario
You have a great discovery call. On the call, you listen and ask pro questions. You make sure their budget meets your pricing. Then you customize a proposal, check it twice, send it over, and… crickets.
For the next two weeks, you tell yourself, “patience is a virtue.” And you stay busy with other work and regular marketing. But how do you find out what’s going on with that prospect that seemed like a perfect fit?
Here’s what NOT to do:
Don’t do that smarmy sales email thing and fire off a message like: “Hey I sent you this 2 weeks ago and haven’t heard from you.”
No one likes to be nagged.
Not sure what to say in a follow-up? Swipe this script
Instead of the nagging follow-up, here’s the script I’ve been using to reconnect with solid prospects after getting ghosted;
Can you believe we’re halfway through April already? I’m booking projects to the end of second quarter, and I wondered if you wanted me to reserve time to write X for [company Y.]
Does it work? This exact script prompted responses from several leads I’d sent quotes to. They thanked me for following up, assured me they were still interested, and let me know when to expect to hear back.
3 reasons this script works
Wait, what? Just sending a two-sentence email is enough to reconnect with a freelance writing prospect after getting ghosted? Yes. There’s three key reasons this script works:
- You commiserate with how fast time is flying by. No nagging or accusations.
- You’re trying to be helpful by giving them a heads-up to reserve your time before you’re booked.
- You offer a gentle deadline reminder that the end of the quarter is approaching. They may need to show progress on their initiatives to higher-ups by certain deadlines, so this reminder can bump the project up their priority list.
Want to write your own follow-up? Here’s how:
Follow-ups should be friendly, conversational, and helpful. Shift your thinking from ME to THEM
- Instead of thinking: Why won’t they get back to ME? I want them to book ME. I need them to pay MEEEE
- Think about: What’s going on with THEM? How can this email help THEM? Be specific when possible.
Here’s what I mean: For one new connection, I noticed that he was new with the company. So I mentioned it like this:
I see you just started with [company X] in January – congratulations! You must have your hands full with planning right now.
Let me know if I can help when you’re ready to execute your marketing strategies.
He got back to me and let me know that they were focused on an event, but that their regular marketing needs would increase in the second quarter. That’s exactly the information I needed to know when to reach out again.
Where to look for specific company information
As a writer, you should be good at research, right? Get curious and peek around. Sometimes the simple act of clicking on someone’s LinkedIn profile is enough to prompt them to respond to you.
Here’s where to look for clues about what’s going on with your prospect and the company:
- The prospect’s LinkedIn profile. How long have they been with the company? Where else have they worked? What have they posted? What have they commented on?
- The company’s LinkedIn page, website, press releases, and blog.What is the company posting about? Do they have a big event going on?
Still getting no responses? Try these 6 troubleshooting tips:
- Check your timing. Don’t send follow-ups to a company that’s gearing up for or at a major trade show. Check the company’s LinkedIn posts to see if it’s a busy time for them.
- Amp up your proposals. Every proposal you send should be branded and customized. Does yours stand up to the competition? Get feedback on your proposal by reaching out to your inner circle of fellow writers.
- Refresh your online presence. When your prospect takes a closer look at your LinkedIn profile and website, will they be more or less interested in working with you?
- Re-evaluate your expectations. When entering a new niche or trying to break in to a competitive market, your response rates might be lower than you hoped.
- Widen your target. You should have more than one persona that you market to. If you’re hitting dead ends with persona A, try marketing to persona B for a while.
- Know when to move on. In most cases, getting ghosted will have nothing to do with you. If you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment, then you know that all kinds of things can derail projects:
- There’s a new VP who’s all about video, and cancels all case studies
- The company was just acquired and needs to go through rebranding
- Sales in the previous quarter were soft, and now all projects need an extra approval layer (and these are just a few examples of things you have no control over). If there’s no concrete action you can take, such as adding updated samples to your online portfolio or revising your LinkedIn profile, then just move on.
The secret to becoming a fully-booked freelance writer…
Never let getting ghosted get in the way of marketing. Keep reaching out to new prospects. Stay positive. Sometimes, not getting one project means you’re available when a bigger, better project shows up.
Getting ghosted by freelance prospects? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Karen Smock is a Montreal-based freelancer who specializes in B2B marketing copywriting, technical writing, and corporate communications.