As you grow your business, the job of finding clients and trying to convert them to long-term work will remain one of your top responsibilities. Here are six sources to try.
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“How can I get clients?” is one of the most common questions asked by new freelance writers and with good reason: What follows is an overview of the different ways you can connect with prospective clients both online and off.
Networking might seem like an old-school way of generating business, but it can be effective, even in the digital world in which we live. That’s because it can often be a lot easier to forge a personal connection with someone when you meet face-to-face.
Chamber of commerce meetings, educational seminars, networking lunches and conferences are places in which you might connect with your ideal clients. This method of marketing requires a lot of upfront investigation and preparation. It’s also dependent on whether your ideal clients are present at these events and, more important, open to hearing pitches.
Try out a few networking events and determine whether your ideal clients are there. For example, if you love writing copy for dentists, an annual convention of dentists in a nearby area might be worth the trip or sponsoring the conference because so many of your ideal clients will be in the same place at the same time.
Related: The Fine Art of Client Pitching
Targeted direct mail can be a powerful way to grow your business. It can also be expensive, which means that doing your research about how direct mail works is important if you intend to make an impact.
A good direct mail campaign introduces what you do and offers the reader some benefit to getting in touch with you right away. Consider what kind of discount or bonus might prompt a total stranger to hire you. Your direct mail list is just as important as the advertisement itself, so carefully curate who you’re sending your mail to since you’re paying for each piece.
Reaching out to prospective clients over email is another strategy that can be effective. Making a list of brands you’d love to do business with or people you know you’d like to forge a personal connection with can be a good first step. Then you’ll need to hunt down the email addresses for these companies. I’ve known people who identified companies in their area they wanted to work with and wrote personalized letters to those companies. Their response rate was better, but it also required that upfront work of doing your research and custom writing each letter.
With a carefully written, personalized pitch, you’ll have a much better chance of a person reading and responding to your email. Also, consider that using your email-tracking tool can give you a significant boost in seeing which versions of your emails are getting the most interest in terms of being opened by prospective clients.
You should always test things out though and set a number-based goal for cold email pitching. A lot of experts recommend sending numerous pitches before being effective with a tool like cold email marketing. Your pitching skills will get better and you’ll also learn what type of subject lines and pitches work overall from how many people are responding to you or opening your email.
Connecting with prospective freelance writing clients on LinkedIn
With LinkedIn, you can leverage the power of instant connections and getting your pitch and work samples directly in front of people who are making critical decisions about content marketing. LinkedIn helps break down the barriers between you and potential clients, making them just a connection or conversation away. Furthermore, business professionals might be more open to responding to a message on LinkedIn or interacting with you there than through an email or a phone call.
But LinkedIn’s opportunities aren’t limited to this form of passive marketing. Being active on LinkedIn as a marketer, and forming connections, participating in groups, monitoring your own group, and more can all help you to grow connections and have a warm pipeline of leads at the ready at any time.
Some of the most important things to keep in mind with your LinkedIn profile include:
- Writing a tagline of what you do and who you do it for
- Including all the services you offer clients in the overview section of your profile
- Pulling your LinkedIn connections list to ensure that you’re only connected with your ideal clients such as C-suite executives, marketing professionals, digital agency owners, and CEOs
Using people you already know to grow your freelance writing business
You may already have people in your immediate circle who’d like to work with you or could refer you to others, which could make breaking into the world of freelance writing easier. Start with telling your existing field of connections about your decision to launch a freelance writing business. This includes a post on LinkedIn and your personal Facebook page if you have a lot of prospective connections who might hire you for the type of writing you like to do.
Using Freelance Job Board Sites
Job board sites allow you to interact with clients who are already pre-sold on purchasing your services and who have already taken the effort to write up specifics about their job proposals. At the minimum, it’s worth your time to scan the job boards each morning when you launch your business to see what’s in demand and whether there’s anything worth bidding on.
There are many different freelance job board sites out there, and you’ll find success stories and complaints about each one. Before even signing up, you should evaluate the site and determine whether it’s appropriate for you by seeing if there are enough jobs posted in your ideal category and type of project. Bear in mind that many people who post a job have a basic idea that they intend to outsource the project and hire a freelancer, but that the budget notations on these projects can be inaccurate.