The question that every freelance writer has to ask when they get started is “How do I get my first client as a freelance writer?”. Once you have to go through and set up your social media profiles, create a website, work on your branding and your unique selling point, the hard part starts. Marketing your services and finding your first client is always going to be the most challenging part of being a freelancer. It is something you need to do constantly. Don’t let this scare you, the more you practice, the better you will get. There are some sure fire ways to start prospecting and talking to clients. Once you get those first few calls out of the way you will see how easy it is. Within no time at all, one of those prospective clients will say yes and your first project will begin. How exciting!
Here are a few ways I have always relied on to find clients
Many writers prefer to avoid LinkedIn. They think it is more for corporate people, startup entrepreneurs or web developers. The truth is LinkedIn is great for connecting with people within specific industries. LinkedIn may not be great for every writer but if you are looking at getting into copywriting or content writing, this is the place to be. You need to focus on a niche here before you get started. You might be writing for fintech companies or health articles for doctors, whatever it might be, decide what industry and people you want to target.
The next step is to run a campaign. You can do this using a LinkedIn CRM or manually if you want to be really specific with who you connect with. Next, you need an offer. This might be a sample article to start the relationship off or it could be an idea for a project. An example could be connecting with real estate agents with an ebook idea to help boost their personal branding. Feel free to get creative but most importantly make it start out to catch their attention.
For beginners, this is probably the best place to start. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that by joining a freelance marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr, you have protection. A client is never going to run off with your work without paying and you have a much lower risk of being scammed. The relationships aren't as good as if you were to connect personally on LinkedIn, but you do luck out and get some really great clients.
The pay is often lower than if you were to set your own rates and this is simply because, in a marketplace, you are competing on price. Combine this with the fact there are people from all over the world working on the one platform and this can drive down the price of your services significantly. That said, it is still the best place to learn the basics of freelancing. You can get a feel for how to communicate with clients, set your prices and deliver work on time.
This one can be a little tricky. There is an art to it and you need to really know how to send out captivating emails. Cold emails are simply sending out emails to businesses pitching your services. To get this right, you need to send the email to the right person, the decision-maker or at least hope that it gets to the right person. Smaller businesses usually work best in this case, especially local businesses. Again, decide on a niche you want to pursue, make a list on a spreadsheet and send out an email using a template.
Your email will need to be specific and personal so usually leave a sentence or two in the beginning that you write a quick intro to why you are emailing their business specifically. The body of the text should discuss your services, this can be generic to make it quicker to send out emails but the more specific you are, the better your results will be.
Referrals are usually the lifeblood of more advanced writers but you can certainly land your first client through a referral. Simply let everyone know in your network of friends, colleagues, former bosses and family that you are taking on freelance writing work. Sooner or later, you will come across someone who needs something written. It could be a resume, a cover letter, an email or a college application. Even if it is completely random, it is a great way to land your first paying gig.
As you grow in your career, you will find that referrals will come by much more frequently. The more impressive your work, the more likely your name will be passed on to someone in your clients' network and the cycle continues. This can be great since you don’t need to rely on prospecting as much and can spend more time writing. Never be afraid to ask a current client if they know of anyone who might benefit from your services. Referrals can make up anywhere between 20 - 50% of your incoming business so it is well worthwhile to ask.