Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When you're calling your ass off -- and no one's buying

Okay, so after two months of patiently calling 25 people a day with absolutely not a penny to show for it, the worm has turned.

First, permit me to rant for a moment about how crazy and insecure those two months of silence made me. I had plenty of nibbles (people who loved the portfolio, loved the idea, needed a writer, etc.), no one actually coughed up the cash.

This was maddening, as you might imagine. Especially when I was having trouble paying the bills and putting time into cold calling that could have been spent querying, networking and conducting other business building activities.

To keep doing it (with absolutely no reward) was a leap of faith of sorts.

I remember a story (I think I heard it at church camp) that would have made a great essay. Except it was from Middle-Ages Europe before they had O Mag or websites.

A monk was writing about his trip to a cathedral that was under construction. He admired how all the laborers, from men who were hauling giant stones to the women sweeping up the debris, were all working with great excitement and esprit de corps.

They knew they were building something worthwhile. The clincher? They also knew the cathedral would take 100 years to build.

They wouldn't live to see it finished.

Not a perfect example, but I really think when you're starting a business, you have to believe THAT MUCH in what you're doing. You have to be willing to bust ass through long periods with zero gratification.

What keeps a cold caller going?

For me, it was simple: Peter Bowerman said it would work. Other writer pals who have tried it said the same.

I was sure I was going to be the exception to the ironclad Law of Averages. Then last week, the phones started to ring.

Since May 23, I have either completed, quoted or am waiting on the green light for five new projects -- all from cold call clients.

Nothing huge, nothing earth shattering, but it's been months since I had a new client at all. And I have meetings with a number of promising prospects lined up when I get back from Vegas.

It's a huge change from business as usual, so I'll be slowing down the actual cold calls. But I will keep up the blog.

You see, the cold call process doesn't end when you hang up. There's the meeting, the quote, the dancing around fees, and all sorts of post-call fun to explore.

So stay tuned. And if you're currently busting ass with nothing to show for it, cheer up. Odds are your glory, when it comes, won't be posthumous.


  1. The cathedral example is a brilliant one because it shows the effort but them knowing that they'd die being part of something special.

    It's all about being cheerful you are right!

  2. Thanks for this post--I've been making a living writing online since 2007, so I thought breaking into a new market (ad agencies who need freelancers) this fall would be no problem.

    The results haven't been what I expected, but your post reminds me that:

    1) I still have a long way to go in my efforts

    2) These efforts will eventually pay off, as long as I am consistent with them!

    Thanks again for your post.