"What's the best way aka easiest/most cost-efficient to develop new business?"
Content-providers ask me that all the time. Increasingly that query is coming from underemployed journalists who figure they could do a whole lot better in executive communications, that is ghostwriting and speechwriting.
My answer is: Direct mail and brilliant use of search engine optimization (SEO) for your blogging, which is attached to your tweets and Facebook wall.
That said, I add: But you must do everything, use all marketing methods available. Among them is replying to help-wanted on eLance, Craigslist, Mediabistro and JournalismJobs. Then the question immediately rises: What about eLance's service fee? Unlike the other platforms on which assignments and full-time jobs are posted, eLance charges a service fee of almost 9%.
First of all, that service fee is, of course, tax deductible. Just like our entire smartphone bill is for independent contractors like ourselves.
Secondly, the competition is less stiff on eLance. That's because of the service fee. Answer a help-wanted on Craigslist for ghostwriting a non-fiction book and your cover letter, resume and samples are among the 100 to 200 packets of material arriving at the e-box of those placing the ad. Frequently there will be 15 replies to such an ad on eLance. That means you invest less time applying and more time actually being interviewed on SKYPE or through email for a fit. Within an hour of answering eLance ads I had been told I had made the next cut.
Long story short, his MO was for the mark to send money to him via PayPal. Fortunately, we had only lost the time we had put into doing the assignments on fathers and child custody battles. He made the mistake of listing us and our contact information on one of the communications vehicles. One wary writer warned us about his suspicions, then did some sleuthing. None of us ponied up money. Recently eLance yanked an ad that requested writing of all the admission materials for applying to law school because it violated the integrity of the academic process.
Fourth, eLance is our collection agency. Also, it provides a form of arbitration. Anyone who had to beg for payment during the darkest days of the recession knows the value of all that.
eLance is one way to get assignments and long-term jobs. Never rely, though, on just one or two or even three. Keep testing the waters about which has the best return on your time (ROT).