Flexibility and control over your schedule are perks that make the freelance lifestyle so attractive.
The flip side, however, is that your clients (or lack thereof) can ruin your best-laid plans.
The key is finding a steady stream of freelance assignments that let you balance your need for income with your desire to control how you spend your time.
And if you’re just starting out, you can take steps to make sure the work is there when you want it (and you’re prepared for the inevitable dry spells that come along).
Learn to Love LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a direct connection to the type of clients you want to work for, so put some time into making a killer profile using the keywords that define the type of writing you do (B2B copywriter, for example).
Once your profile is polished, start adding connections to your ideal clients. Keep in mind you’ll get a better response if you include a personal note with your connection request.
Use LinkedIn Publisher to publish blog posts targeted to your ideal clients.
If you’re a B2B writer, a post titled “6 Reasons Why Your B2B Website Doesn’t Convert” will catch your clients’ attention and establish your expertise. This is a great way to build freelance relationships.
Get Used to Cold Pitching
Cold pitching, or emailing a prospective client or LinkedIn connection, is daunting the first time you do it, but do it you must.
It’s a numbers game, so expect to send 100 or 200 emails every month in order to net 5 or 10 writing gigs. If you’re lucky, you’ll forge an ongoing freelance relationship.
Try Google or LinkedIn to identify businesses in your niche; if you’re in the B2B sphere, check out LimeLeads .
The secret to success is having a clearly defined niche, a good cold pitch, and a writer’s website with a portfolio.The secret to success is having a clearly defined niche, a good cold pitch, and a writer’s website with a portfolio. Click To Tweet
I can’t help you with the first and third in this blog post, but I can give you some pointers for a good pitch:
- Get familiar with both the business and the individual editor you are writing to so you can personalize your approach. A friendly but not over-the-top compliment never hurts. Whatever you do, do not cut and paste your pitch emails.
- Don’t send a text wall. Break up your copy and keep it short and concise.
- Avoid jargon; simply state how you can help the company achieve its goals.
- Include a link to your writer’s website and your LinkedIn profile.
- Do not cold pitch a new LinkedIn connection right away; wait at least a couple of weeks after you’ve made your introduction.
Look in the Right Places
Content mills and online free-for-alls like Demand Studio and Upwork aren’t the best places to find well-paying writing jobs; better sites exist…Content mills and online free-for-alls like Demand Studio and Upwork aren’t the best places to find well-paying writing jobs; better sites exist... Click To Tweet Check out the following sites:
In some cases, you can find ongoing work and develop a relationship with the one-off clients you find on these sites, but even if you can’t, sometimes you only need a few individual assignments to fill out your calendar for the month.
Constant Content also allows you to build out a portfolio of articles for sale or for usage rights that are then listed in its content catalog.
Whenever an article sells, you get a deposit in your PayPal account, which is a nice surprise if you’re in the middle of a dry spell.
You can also offer articles for use rights only, so that well-performing articles can generate income month after month.
Network with Web Designers and Developers
This may sound like an obvious step, but many freelancers overlook it.
Think about it; you already know who needs constant quality copy: people who design and build websites.
Check your local market for web design companies, and network with them. Good web copy commands a fair price and offers the potential for ongoing work.
Speaking of Ongoing Work…
If you’ve done a good job for your client (and of course, you did, right?), you should feel confident asking your client to call you the next time they need a freelancer.
It’s also a good idea to ask for referrals when you send that thank-you email to your client at the end of an assignment, because if you’ve done a good job, they’ll be happy forward your name to their colleagues and associates.
And if they hesitate?
This is a great opportunity to ask for a little constructive feedback:
- Were you difficult to contact?
- Did you miss deadlines?
- Did you bristle at revision requests?
- Did you fail to capture the client’s voice or overall objective for the work?
Take every opportunity to learn from your assignments and improve your craft.
One last thing—about that thank you note…
It’s an important part of the relationship-building process. And, yes, it can make all the difference between struggling and securing ongoing work.
Make sure you send one every time you complete a project for a new client (and even those who only use you periodically). You never stop marketing yourself when you’re a freelance writer.
Getting a steady stream of freelance work is a tedious and time-consuming process, especially in the beginning.
But if you put the work in upfront, the payoff is worth it.
On to you…
What’s your best advice for finding reliable freelance writing work?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.