Seminar Report – November 24: Going Global: How to Find & Work with International Clients

As savvy entrepreneurs, PWAC Toronto Chapter members recognize the opportunities afforded by international clients as English becomes the default language of business and academia worldwide.

Our speakers, Chantal Saville, Virginia Heffernan and Bryan Borzykowski, discussed the advantages and challenges of working with clients in the U.S., South America, and across Europe. They shared insights on why it’s important to identify one’s unique skills and experiences before targeting specific niches, as well as tips on how to find clients and negotiate contracts and fees.

Chantal Saville,

A former business analyst, process consultant and newspaper owner/editor, Chantal launched her firm Content Ghost in early 2015. Since then, she has been ghost blogging for a wide range of small to medium-sized businesses in Canada and the U.S. Her clients are owner-operators who tend to handle many of their administrative and operational tasks personally, and they’re more than happy to outsource the writing that positions their firms as the experts.

“I recognized the opportunity because I’d seen so much poorly written content and know that the U.S. alone has 28 million small businesses compared to about one million in Canada,” said Chantal, who notes the poor content is often written by content software, content farms and individuals who lack the English language skills, the time, expertise or interest. “Interest in outsourcing content creation increases as business owners become more aware of the Google Panda algorithm, which lowers the search result ranking of websites with poor-quality content.”

Professional writers understand proper SEO structure, the importance of correct spelling and grammar, SEO over-optimization, the risks of duplicate content and more. Chantal notes she often explains to prospects what constitutes quality content and why it’s worth far more than three cents per word.

Chantal targets entrepreneurs as well as professionals, such as accountants, dentists and lawyers, and has found that Facebook and LinkedIn groups are excellent referral sources. She also connects with U.S.-based digital marketing agencies that depend on good writers to deliver quality ghostwriting on time and on budget.

Bryan Borzykowski,

A Toronto-based writer and editor, Bryan has written for numerous publications on both sides of the border including The New York Times, CNBC, BBC Capital, CNNMoney, Forbes, Canadian Business and The Globe and Mail. He has also co-authored three personal finance books and talks business on CTV every Saturday night.

As Bryan points out, freelancing for a wide pool of clients with geographic diversity can give you greater control over your own life and career and help mitigate the economic peaks and valleys that are the reality at every firm and in every country.

Recognizing that the U.S. offers more opportunity than Canada, due in large part to the United States’ sheer size, he asked himself one simple question: “If I lived in the U.S., who would I want to work for?” This prompted him to reach out to editors at The New York Times and elsewhere and invite them out for coffee in New York City.

“I want to meet them face-to-face before I pitch so that I can ask them what they need and how I can help,” says Bryan, who makes a point of seeing his clients and editors in the flesh twice a year. “To be on top of things, I think you have to network and build relationships, whether it’s over a coffee or at conferences.”

Right now, about 43 per cent of his annual income is generated south of the border, and he notes that while American clients know he’s Canadian, they care only that he writes great articles.

Virginia Heffernan,

Virginia is a former geologist turned full-time writer who helps corporate and government clients with their marketing messages. She has clients in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Adelaide, Brussels and Lima and has also published two books with the Financial Times of London.

According to Virginia, this is the perfect time to leverage one’s local and national knowledge to attract international clients. It makes good business sense in view of the international appeal of the likes of Drake, The Weeknd and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as Toronto’s and Canada’s rankings among the best places in the world to live. Virginia points out that to win international business, you must seek and market to organizations based outside Canada.

Look at what’s around you, and if it interests you, do something with it. That’s how Virginia came to backpack the Bruce Trail from Niagara to Tobermory, then pitch and sell the story. Just as important, she focuses on her areas of expertise, including geology and minerals, to cover industry-specific stories around the world. She also makes a point of covering events and conferences that are hosted in Toronto, on behalf of international clients who can’t make the trip.

PWAC Toronto Chapter offers its sincere appreciation to Chantal, Bryan and Virginia!

Don’t miss our next seminar, Self-Care for the Self-Employed, on Jan. 9, 2017.