Soft Selling Brings Success By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

I often write business profiles and how-to pieces for various trade and consumer publications. I get to know these businesses well and, especially with small companies, I keep in mind any writing they may need to promote or operate their businesses.

After we’ve built a level of trust, I approach the owner with a soft sell. I have good reasons for this: I’m a freelancer and I don’t want to make the business owner resent me by feeling harassed.

I simply let him know that, in addition to writing about businesses, I also write for businesses. I explain the type of writing that could benefit his business, and quote a price up-front. For small companies, that is usually the crucial information.

I might say, “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and your company, but I noticed while researching your website that you could use some more content. I think that might drive more people to your site. I freelance write for XYZ Magazine and also write web copy. If you’re interested in adding content to your site, I could supply you with a one-page press release you could send to the media, and also post on your site. I charge $50 for that kind of work.”

If he’s friendly-sounding but not committed, I also offer to email clips or links to showcase similar types of work I have done. That helps offer him a way of gracefully saying no if he’s really not interested, but wants to sound polite. Remember, this is a soft sell. But it has worked for me many times, enabling me to sell press releases, web copy, brochure copy, proof reading services, internal documents and entire marketing campaigns.

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant writes from her home in Clyde, N.Y. Visit her online at or, where she writes about ways to save money on grocery shopping, preparing food and eating out.

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