The Social Side
We know that people like to talk, and that’s part of being human, but what’s really striking to us is the impact that moderate to frequent social interaction seems to have on author productivity, earnings and attitude. It’s interesting to note that many of our most productive writers, though they may type away a fair portion of their day, don’t spend all their time writing and browsing for orders. They take regular breaks to communicate with their favorite clients and fellow authors.
It’s almost strange to think of Textbroker as a social site. Our social features are overshadowed largely by Facebook’s rolling status updates and Twitter’s 140-character commentary, but that’s to be expected. Textbroker’s platform is designed to allow authors and clients to get down to business; we steer as far clear as we can of lunch photos, chain emails and Farmville. Despite this, the underlying need for human interaction pervades the service and causes authors and clients both to reach out to each other for conversation. In some cases, frank messages are exchanged over orders, but in others, it feels more like old friends are getting together for coffee and brunch.
Over the four years we’ve been in business in the U.S., we’ve had hundreds of thousands of conversations pass through our service. We know that people like to talk, and that’s part of being human, but what’s really striking to us is the impact that moderate to frequent social interaction seems to have on author productivity, earnings and attitude. It’s interesting to note that many of our most productive writers, though they may type away a fair portion of their day, don’t spend all their time writing and browsing for orders. They take regular breaks to communicate with their favorite clients and fellow authors.
It’s not all that strange to say that authors who have strong communication skills are often strong writers, which could explain an increase in private clients and orders, but we’ve found that authors who apply their talent for great communication to self-promotion and social interaction improve their earnings – often at a much faster rate than other authors.
This is potentially the simplest change an author can make to improve both motivation and client relations enough to increase their earnings potential at Textbroker. In this blog, we wanted to take a look at some of the interesting communications habits many of our best and most frequent authors share and give advice on how you can improve and expand your opportunities through communication.
Thank you! Come again!
If you’ve ever watched the Simpsons, you’re probably familiar with Apu, the mild-mannered Kwik-E-Mart owner. Whenever a customer enters his store, they’re welcomed, and when they leave, Apu thanks them and asks them to return. The show plays on the robotic nature of the phrase, but the truth is that polite greetings and heartfelt thank-yous have been key to successful business for thousands of years. Every retailer knows that thanking their customers and inviting them back is essential to building and maintaining a good relationship with them.
In the same way, our top authors are proactive in associating great articles with their TB account. Do you often find yourself with many high scores on client reviews but few, if any, DirectOrder and TeamOrder customers? Do you want clients to see you as more than just another freelance writer? You can do so with simple but personable messages to the client after you complete an enjoyable order. A few lines of well-spoken thanks are just as valuable as writing the best possible copy in securing private clients and Team invitations.
Meeting deadlines, providing great copy, and a willingness to accommodate changes are all key to client satisfaction, and the communication you send should establish your willingness to meet the client’s needs. Don’t just jump in to the details; instead, focus on developing pleasant communication. Each client is a little different, but there seems to be a sweet spot among messages from top authors that blends a professional attitude and a relatable, comfortable style.
Your goal should be to build a friendly conversation while establishing your ability to meet the needs of their niche through your articles. Busy clients often have many articles to review, polish and publish, so keep your messages to the point. Clients also tend to ignore impersonal copy-and-paste solicitations, so include something specific to the client to let them know that you’re truly interested in working more with them.
Feeling faceless is an issue that many work-from-home writers struggle with, particularly because it’s often not appropriate to be expressive in business-oriented copy. Because writers aren’t credited and don’t receive feedback right away, there’s also sometimes a feeling of shooting off your orders into space. Taking an active approach to communicating with your clients can give these orders perspective and bring you closer to their purpose, making it easier to write effectively. Practicing the art of the polite, personable client message can make your work distinctive, and with luck, bring a little business your way.
The Best Advice in the Business: The Author to Author Forums
At Textbroker, the author forums are always rustling and bustling behind the scenes. Located under the home tab, you’ll find a place to share motivation, vent concerns and learn from the best. The authors who frequent them are mish-mash of every star level and style, from fresh writers trying to make a start as a freelancer to many of our most seasoned 5-star authors who have been with the site since 2008. You’ll find whimsical ramblings and tales of home life, but you’ll also find a mountain of compiled advice and answers to many of the important, highly subjective questions that come up in writing. Not every author on the forums is a veteran, but you can’t beat advice from authors who have been earning a living and improving their income here. When you’re looking for advice on how to raise your rating or study for the proofreading test, who better to ask than authors who have already accomplished those goals?
More than that, though, the author forums are a place for our writers to enjoy some rare social interaction and absorb motivation from their peers – as evidenced by the “Writing Motivation” thread in The Water Cooler, est. 2011, which has almost 4,000 replies and almost 50,000 page views. An unintended side effect of working from home is that it feels like it’s important to isolate yourself from distraction to get the most possible work done in whatever time period you’ve set aside. However, even alone, it’s easy to lose motivation or become distracted in thought. Is isolation really the best path to maximizing productivity?
Experts say that people start to lose focus after about 20 minutes of dedicated study. Have you ever felt like it was simply impossible to write the amount that you want or that the writing part of your mind shuts down after a certain amount of time? It’s likely that you’re not taking enough breaks. Stopping by the author forums can provide a powerful resource to refresh your mind. While spending all day on them will certainly result in decreased productivity, as well as some raised eyebrows, the occasional visit will allow you to get the opinion of fellow writers, share in your fellow authors’ victories and contemplate new strategies for success.
A Word on Inspiration
A freelancer can always wax and stress about productivity, articles per hour, words per minute, research time, etc. when trying to increase his or her earnings. These things are important, but don’t overlook the little things. Overburdening yourself with tasks and exaggerated targets is often counterproductive and will cause earnings damage if your quality suffers. Instead, take a minute to talk to the people you work with. Building positive relationships with your clients and relating and engaging with other writers can help relieve stress, provide encouragement and motivate you to battle the blahs and meet your goals.
Instead of spending all day staring at blurry letters in the submit box, maximize your effectiveness by being social. Approach your work with the goal of building a good relationship with the people you work with. Message your clients with little business-oriented tweets. Most of our clients aren’t interested in your Facebook updates, but you can find plenty of good conversation on the author forums where you can relax and speak smoothly in brunch-and-coffee terminology. Just make sure to clean up your muffin crumbs when you’re done.