It’s no secret that my favorite bridge business to help people pursue is freelance writing.
Because most of us already have basic proficiency in writing. There’s a huge demand for writing services. And it’s a great way to build your online skills, your confidence, and generate some income through freelance writing clients.
And if you’re not a good writer or just getting started? You can still do it.
Start with this post on How to Become a Writer.
Here’s the deal, though:
Most people make crucial mistakes that are keeping them from actually getting freelance writing clients. I’m always shocked by how often I see these things happen, considering how obvious they seem.
The good news? If you’re one of the very few people who don’t make these mistakes? You’ll be rolling in work before you know it.
So let’s look at some of the things you should do to help get more clients. For some of the things you should do and avoid once you have clients, check out this post.
Keep reading, or watch the video to get more tips.
How to Get Freelance Writing Clients
The video above covers these topics in much more detail, but if you’re just looking for the tl;dr version, then here you go!
#1) Have a Personality
One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they think they need to be “professional,” which most people translate into boring. So out of the gate, they’re very rigid and formal. Their freelance services site looks just like every other writer out there.
It’s impossible to stand out when you look and sound like everyone else.
People want to work with people they like and have a rapport with — and the only way to build rapport? Is to have personality.
And if you’re worried that you’re not outgoing and that can get you into trouble. It’s easier to show your stuff than you think. One way is to dive into a niche and show your skills and expertise there. Another option is to work on building your networking skills which can land you a job.
#2) Don’t Use Mail Merge. Ever.
I’m not sure why people still think it’s a good idea to write a template email, get a list of hundreds of people, mail merge the names, and then send it out.
Do you really think that’s going to get a positive response or lead to work?!
Newsflash: It won’t.
You need to add some sort of personalization. So when you make your letters of introduction, it’s fine to have a basic template, but you also need to have space to personalize for every potential client you’re reaching out to.
You don’t have to go crazy. Just a sentence or two of thoughtful personalization can make a huge difference.
#3) Do Research On the Person You’re Emailing
So what do you do instead of bulk emailing every potential client you’ve ever come across?
Here’s a novel idea: you research the person you want to work with and then send them a personal, thoughtful email.
The chances of finding work from sending five thoughtful emails are better than sending 500 template emails where the person on the other end can sniff it’s a template from a million miles away.
It takes time and effort to find qualified people and do that research — but remember, this is what separates the people seeing success from those who aren’t.
- Email Hunter Chrome Extension – Find the email addresses for the specific content you’re looking for.
#4) Be Consistent With Your Marketing
For as long as you’re a freelance writer, you should always be seeking out work — because, as every writer knows, there will be a time when it can all dry up.
That’s a trap a lot of new freelancers fall into. They get a few clients, things are going well, so they take their foot off the gas. They stop networking and marketing. And it’s fine because they have clients, right?
You never know when a client (or more) may drop you, or a relationship turns sour, or you just don’t like the work anymore.
Then suddenly, you have to start all over again. And building new momentum is tough.
That’s why always doing a little bit of marketing every day or every week is the path to take.
Set aside a block of time to reach out, make connections, and look for work.
Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
And best case scenario? You have too much, and you can hire it out to someone else and make a nice little cut.
#5) Expand Beyond Upwork
Upwork is the most popular site out there for freelancers. But did you know there are dozens of other great, lesser-known places to find work?
Make a habit of frequenting those, in addition to your other marketing, and you’ll find a goldmine of opportunity that the casual freelance writer won’t know a thing about.
What’s important about finding clients is you need to cast a wide net. Put out feelers far and wide, and don’t shut down any potential places to find clients. You truly never know where you may find work.
#6) Make Sure Your Site Looks Legit
Let’s put it bluntly: would you want to hire someone whose website looks like it was designed by an 8-year-old?
Technology has come a long way, so creating a decent-looking website these days isn’t very hard. Spend a bit of time to make sure yours looks good.
If you want to go with a WordPress site, check out this post that walks you through setting up your first blog. If you want to try something that’s more basic but still looks really good, Carrd is an awesome website builder too.
#7) Create a System and Follow Up
Here’s another place where most freelance writers completely miss the boat (or any freelancer, for that matter): they don’t follow up.
Often times you won’t get a response on the first go. Or even the second or third.
Most freelancers give up on a potential client after not hearing back on the first try. But you’d be shocked at how many freelancers grab clients after five or six follow-ups years later.
Sometimes, it’s just about being at the right place at the right time to be top of mind and to do that, you have to get yourself back to the top of someone’s inbox.
This is why following up is so important.
And to do this properly, you need a system that makes it easy.
Luckily, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel on this one. This is the strategy we use (and love):
How to Use Streak for Gmail (And Why It’s a Freelancer’s Best Friend)
- And if you want to use another method, here’s a sample Airtable template.
#8) Go to In Person Meetups In Complimentary Industries
Watch the video at the top of the page (Go to 9:10) for a more detailed explanation of why this works so well.
But the bottom line is, if you only go to meetups for writers, you’ll find a bunch of people all looking for the same type of work as you.
But if you’re a writer and you go to, say, a Search Engine Optimization meetup? There will often be people looking for writing services — making it more likely for you to find work.
And, there’s an added bonus for these types of events, you can find local marketing clients. Tons of small business owners need help with content, from blog posts to emails and social media, but don’t have the expertise or a massive budget.
So it’s a great way to get your foot in the door with some experience and land a couple of clients that will pay anywhere from $250 – $1k+ a month.
Not to mention the fact that building friendships and rapport is much easier in person.
#9) Don’t Pigeon Hole Yourself
It used to be that for people just starting out writing online, you would jump into “SEO writing.” The problem is that term has basically gone away and has some very negative connotations these days.
So we suggest using a broader title like “content writer,” as that can span multiple spectrums and client needs. And, as you build up skills, don’t be afraid to add them to the mix and offer them up to your clients as upsells.
For example, content repurposing is really hot right now. So that’s a skill you can add to your current set that you can highlight to both your current clients and reach new ones.
#10) Read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
It’s not a book on finding clients, growing a business, or especially about becoming a better writer. But it’s one of the few books I know of that, if taken to heart, will help you do all of these things.
And that’s it. If you do these 10 things, I guarantee you’ll give yourself a better chance of finding consistent, well-paying writing work that will allow you to work from anywhere and spend more time doing the things you love.
This post was updated for accuracy in May 2023.
Sean OgleSean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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