How to Find Freelance Clients With CashBy Kylie Jane Wakefield April 7th, 2014
When starting off as a freelance writer, it can be difficult to find well-paying clients. You won’t be able to put food on your table only scouring job boards, content farms, or Craigslist, unless your table is inside McDonalds.
Instead of joining the freelancing rat race and competing with people who only write as a hobby, you need to be proactive and use different tactics to secure clients. Here are some tips from successful freelance writers that’ll help you grow your portfolio and your bank account.
Reach out to fellow writers
Brittany Shoot, a freelance writer and editor from San Francisco, says finding new gigs is all about networking with other freelancers. Take an experienced writer or editor out for coffee and ask them how they pursued work. It’s not polite to ask freelancers you just met to find you jobs, but they can offer valuable advice and may end up throwing gigs your way as your relationship develops.
“A lot of my work has come through referrals, whether it’s from existing editors or other writers who are too busy to take something,” says Shoot. “It tends to come from people I know.”
You’ll make money through other writers and editors if they’ve been in the game longer than you have. It takes a long time to build client relationships. If they’re veterans, the bone they throw you is likely to have some meat on it and pay well.
On LinkedIn, aid your job search by requesting to join relevant groups and post discussion topics and questions. Justin P. Lambert, a freelance writer in Conover, North Carolina, finds he’s had more success on LinkedIn than on any other social media site.
“To my knowledge no other social media or networking opportunity has netted me any direct revenue, whereas LinkedIn has brought me about 80 percent of the leads that have eventually become paying clients,” he says. “My networking formula is simple: Be visible everywhere my clients are likely to be, become known for adding value in the areas I’d like to be hired for, and intermix the occasional unbeatable offer with tons of helpful information.”
When you’re known as an expert in a field on the internet and LinkedIn, it’ll lead to finding higher paying clients. If you’re just starting out, you’ll be a novice and therefore not be able to demand as much money.
Know who you’re pitching
Before you pitch any publication, research what they’ve already covered and what they might be looking for. If you have a great pitch, you’ll be more successful when you make cold calls or email a potential client for the first time.
“If I’m pitching a publication that’s new to me, it tends to be a magazine that I already read or know pretty well,” Shoot says. “I don’t look for publications that are necessarily looking for freelancers.”
You need to write what you know and prove that you know what you’re talking about. That way, you’ll be trusted by both clients and readers and able to ask for more pay.
Reach out to your connections
Chances are, you worked full-time before freelancing. Reach out to former colleagues and let them know you’re freelancing and looking for clients. They’ll likely help you to the best of their abilities with referrals.
“Before I switched to full-time freelancing, I established a strong professional network through a few full-time journalism, marketing, and communications jobs,” says Renee Brincks, who works in San Francisco. “Those opportunities gave me great clips and contacts, and they also helped me understand the industry. When I left my last full-time job eight years ago, several early contracts came from connections I made as a staffer, and I’ve grown my client list from there.”
When people know you’re reliable and a hard worker, they’ll do half the work for you and help you find clients. Their referrals alone can be worth more pay. If your former colleagues and bosses are coming from established companies, they’ll have better connections than you’d make on your own.
Are you ready to find new clients?
Freelance writing involves a lot of hustling. But if you’re passionate about your work, and you’re determined, you can go far in this business.
“Some people see freelance writing as a dreamy way to make a living, and there definitely are positives to this career path,” Brincks adds. “It is still a business, however, and the successful writers I know approach it as such.”