Are you thinking about working as a freelance writer? I decided to pursue freelance writing and social media in March 2016. At that time, I had been writing for several years for publications, such as The Times, Express, Hello Magazine and several client blogs after my BA in English Language and Literature. Then I worked in a PR agency, and then at two separate marketing agencies. After agency-life I moved to work at an in-house marketing department, which was a great move for me, but lacked variety in terms of topics.
All the while, I gained some amazing experiences, picked up knowledge about business, honed my writing and digital marketing skills, refined my journalism training, and then I decided, I want to achieve something for myself.
That is when I started thinking about running my own copywriting, social media and freelance blogging services. I already wrote SEO friendly blogs on a daily basis for other businesses; I was a social media strategist for my company, I managed sponsorship activation, Facebook advertising, helped with PPC campaigns and so much more, so there was nothing stopping me creating a side-line of my own using my digital media expertise, was there?
So, the next question was how do I find clients for my freelance writing business? After doing Freelance copywriting for over a year and a half, and having secured 6 long-term clients, I think I can answer that question now – how do I find and retain quality clients?
Freelance Job boards are a good place to start but there are better ways to find clients
I had been following some well-known freelance bloggers who I looked up to as role models and I really had to look at how they went about things. From their blogs, and other resources, I learnt about freelance job boards. There are hundreds of useful articles about how to find work as a freelance blogger or writer. This blog about freelance job boards is super-duper useful.
I had a bad experience with Upwork because I took a job on which I thought would be worth my time, but the pay was $70 for proof reading 5 blogs…. Little had I realised that these blogs were several pages long, had been translated from Japanese, and had to basically be rewritten. It took me a lot longer than the 2 hours I had anticipated….
Since then, I’ve only had a couple of good paying gigs on Upwork, but I haven’t given up yet. From time to time, when my freelance work has been completed for the month, I browse through these job boards to see if there is anything of interest.
Use social media to cold pitch your freelance writing services
Nowadays, my favourite way to speak to potential clients is via social media – I like to build relationships, and then tell them about what I do. The best network for this is LinkedIn and I’ve managed to secure at least 5 deals on here, on a monthly retainer. My pitch basically goes like this:
Twitter is also a good place to build lists, network and jump on certain hashtags – it’s also a good idea to follow certain job boards on Twitter, such as:
Guest post for free and talk about your freelance work
Find other blogs in your niche, and pitch to write for them for FREE. Yes, you read this right. Pitch them a title for their audience. Your payment will come in the form of a link and this link will provide value because they already have the audience you wish you had. Get your business out there, by guest posting. Here is one I wrote earlier this year:
So, what is your niche? Interior Design? Web development? Street Apparel? Whatever it is, find some bloggers in your niche and pitch at least 2 stories a week to different bloggers in return for a backlink.
Let everyone know that you’re looking to take on clients
Tell your social media network, your friends, family and your neighbour’s dog that you are now writing as a freelance copywriter and managing social media. Try to mention it to all the businesses you come into personal contact with. Telling people and asking if they know anyone that might be looking for the service you provide is invaluable – because you are networking in your daily life without going out of your way to attend designated events.
When I say, tell everyone – I mean EVERYONE…tell your sister, your best friend from nursery school, your university flat mate, your dentist, your grandma, the barista who just made your tall, skim full fat hazelnut macchiato. Yes, tell them all and you never know where your next opportunity will come from.
Local design and print companies could refer your services if you ask nicely
Search for any design firms that work with the type of clients you would like, call them on the phone and ask to speak to the owner or manager. Then you just need to introduce yourself, and ask if they have any occasional run-offs you can help with. Clients aren’t going to know you exist unless you start getting your services and work examples out there in front of them.
Join Freelance Writer’s Facebook groups to interact with like-minded people
Joining these groups will not only help you with tips on getting your freelance career moving forward but it also keeps you sane – because you finally realise it is not only you who is struggling to get that tricky client to pay that invoice from three months’ ago. It’s a place for like-minded individuals to share their successes, failures and ask for advice.
Some great Facebook groups for freelancers I am a part of are:
Creative Freelancers Unite: https://www.facebook.com/groups/525527104279281/
A Savvy Freelance Life: https://www.facebook.com/ASavvyFreelanceLife/
Freelance Heroes: https://www.facebook.com/groups/freelanceheroes/
Put yourself out there on every freelance writer directory you can find
Did you know these exist? Did you know Google likes to push these directories in search results a lot higher than most other freelance websites?
The point is, if clients are not aware that you write for a living, and that you are great at writing, blogging and social media, then you won’t get any clients! When you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, you need to put yourself out there. By guest posting, pitching, being on social media and in directories, you are giving your freelance writing career the best chance it can have of surviving.
Saima Omar of SO Content Marketing is a writer, social media expert and marketer for hire.
Good Luck in your freelance career!