Many people assume that being a freelancer is the same as being an employee, just with more flexibility. However, it is more akin to being a small business owner. To be successful, you need to not just take care of the basic tasks of your chosen field, but also engage in administrative and marketing activities to maintain the financial health of your one-person company.
Every freelance writer knows the struggle of finding clients that offer regular work and pay well.
It seems almost impossible, at times.
And when there’s a recession going on, it feels like the entire freelance ecosystem has just dried up.
Everyone’s getting laid off, you think. Who’d want to hire a writer now? [Read more…]
When you’re starting up a business or establishing yourself as a freelancer, it’s easy to think that all potential clients are good clients. The customer is always right, after all.
This isn’t always the case. Sometimes you may not be a fit for a project. All freelancers will run into that at some point, and that’s not a big deal. There are also clients that will make your life a living hell. [Read more…]
Approaching a client with an idea for a writing gig might seem intimidating – especially if you’re new to freelancing – but don’t let that stand in your way. Your services are sought after and offer a lot of value to potential clients. Having a professional setup and some strong portfolio pieces are essential to making that connection and starting a business relationship that pays off for both people.
While this article gives tips on how to create pitches clients can’t refuse, it’s important to do some ground work first, so let’s look at some things you need to do in order to build a strong foundation.
Landing new gigs – whether by actively pursuing clients or letting your website do the work – can be a tricky thing. A myriad of factors come into play, and sometimes, we can’t even identify all of those factors. It’s not like acquiring clients is a one-size-fits-all deal.
While there are strategies that increase your chances of getting new jobs, I believe that the bottom line is being able to establish a connection from the get-go. A genuine, solid connection.
That’s what I’m going to talk about in this post – how to effectively attract clients by creating a genuine connection. [Read more…]
I could be wrong, but many of you probably have regular clients that bring in most of your income. You’ve worked with these clients for a long time, and you know that you will get steady work from them. It might even be that you know their needs and preferences by heart that you can write for them in your sleep.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but there is also something important about reaching out to get new clients from time to time – even if you already have enough regular clients.
Today, I’d like to share the reasons behind this thinking.
You expand your client base.
There is a high degree of uncertainty in our chosen field. While we may have enough regular clients, who’s to say that next month, one or two might need to cut back on their expenses? What if we suddenly lose a client (or more)?
It is thus important to get new clients to expand your network. In case you find yourself losing a client or two, you will have those new clients to make up for it.
Of course, it is also imperative to make sure that you can handle your regular work plus the new client’s demands. Before you get new clients and agree to do work for them, make sure that you have enough time and resources to meet everyone’s needs.
You’re faced with new challenges.
Another reason it is important to get new clients is the idea that “new” can also mean “challenging”. As I said earlier, with regular clients, you know each other so well that you may sometimes operate on autopilot.
As a writer, it is important to be challenged and do new things. This helps you be more creative and flex different writing muscles.
With a new client, you also want to make sure you impress in the hopes of creating recurring work. This means that you also challenge yourself at every turn to ensure that your work is of even better quality than usual. (Not that this should not be the case for everything you do…)
New challenges that may come when you get new clients:
- You need to learn a different writing style.
- You need to learn about a new topic.
- You need to learn how to deal with different personalities.
You learn something new.
The main thing about facing new challenges when you get new clients is that you are bound to learn a thing or two. As a freelance writer, you probably have your specialization, which I think should be the case. This is the area/niche which you are most knowledgeable in and comfortable with.
But if you stay in that zone forever, then you might stagnate. If you get new clients that require learning about an unfamiliar niche or writing style, then it is your chance to professionally improve yourself. And, I don’t know about you, but it is quite an important thing.
Back to you
How often do you get new clients pro-actively? What other benefits does it bring?
Most people, whether they are working for an employer or freelancing, want to feel like they are working toward something better. They may be trying to get a better salary or qualify for a promotion. Whatever the individual’s personal “carrot” hanging on a stick in front of them, they need something to keep them motivated on the job.
The same thing is true for freelance writers. We have an idea of what “success” means to us, and while what it looks like is as unique as the writers themselves, part of it usually involves a writer stretching him or herself in their work. Very few people would be content doing the same kind of work day in, day out, for the rest of their working lives – especially if the rate of pay stays the same.
If you want to get the higher paying freelance writing jobs, you need to stretch yourself. Going after a bigger or better-paying gig can be a bit nerve-wracking, but this is a good sign. You need to get outside your comfort zone if you’re going to grow as a writer, and if you wait until you have no butterflies to do it, you will have missed out on some wonderful opportunities.
Sometimes you need to seek out these opportunities by sending out pitches to clients you would like to work with or applying for gigs that pay more than what you are currently getting. At other times, the chance to stretch as a freelance writer comes to you when a client asks if you are interested in taking on a type of project you haven’t tackled before.
When that happens, try not to get too hung up on the “what if I mess this up?” thoughts. If the client didn’t think you could handle it, they wouldn’t have approached you. Ask questions to make sure you understand what the client wants, and give it your best shot.
One of the advantages of doing this kind of work is that we have variety in the projects we can work on. If we don’t give ourselves permission to try something new every so often, we will just stagnate in our working lives.
What projects have been a stretch for you and how did you feel once they were completed?
Have you ever thought about why you would write a cover letter to someone? It’s not simply a way to let them know that you are forwarding your freelance writing resume and/or samples for their review. Your cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to the potential client and invite him or her to enter into a discussion about whether you can effectively work together.
If your goal is to invite further discussion, you need to add something more than a simple laundry list of your qualifications. By all means tell the client something about your background, but share something more with him or her: Tell them about what you can do for them.
Rather than stating that you have extensive experience in writing SEO articles or web copy or whatever, talk a bit about why you like your work and how you approach new projects. What are your strengths as a freelancer? Share them in your cover letter.
The idea here is to give the reader an idea of who you are and to start laying the groundwork for developing a working relationship. Clients will hire people they feel that they can work well with, and that may mean more to them than simply how well you can put words together.
What do you add to your cover letter to make a client want to learn more about you?
When a client asks that question, they are really trying to find out whether you are too busy to talk to them about a project. That is an entirely different question. I’m never too busy to talk to a client or a prospective client about their writing needs. To tell someone that you are too busy to talk to them seems disrespectful and just plain wrong.
No one wants to feel undervalued, especially if they are looking to spend money. Case in point: Several years ago when I was in the midst of planning my wedding, I went into a bridal shop to look at gowns. I don’t recall how long I was there, but the memory of being asked to step out of that part of the store because it was “reserved for brides only” really stung. (I thought the gold and diamond engagement ring on my left hand would be a dead giveaway about my status, but apparently not.)
It would have taken the same amount of effort to ask,”Can I help you?” or even “Hello.” I wish I could report that I told that woman off or asked to speak to the manager, but the truth is that I just left. I bought my wedding dress from a store that had dialed down the snootiness factor and made me feel welcome.
If someone wants to talk to you about a freelance writing job and asks whether you are busy or how busy you are, resist the urge to answer only the question asked. A better strategy is to give the client the information they really want to know, which is whether you are too busy to talk to them. I don’t know of too many business owners who can afford to just walk a potential customer, so at least find out what the client has in mind. Then you can talk about scheduling and deadlines as necessary. Even if you have to pass on taking the assignment, you can preserve the relationship with the client so that they will come back to you next time they need some work done.
So…How busy are you?
The same thing is true when you are looking at freelance writing jobs. If you are looking at entry-level opportunities, there are many of them out there. I’m just talking about numbers, not whether they would be a good fit for you or whether they pay a rate that you would feel comfortable accepting.
One of the reasons that I like checking out leads on Indeed.com is that this job search engine gives you information about the number of jobs it has currently listed, as well as estimated salary. This morning, I typed in “freelance writer” as a search term and got these results back for estimated salaries and number of jobs:
Following the job pyramid example, the entry-level gigs form the base of the pyramid. This is good news for people who want to get started as freelance writers, because they are looking for a chance to get experience and build up a portfolio of work.
As you move into the higher-paying levels, the number of jobs decreases. As you move toward the top of the pyramid, it gets smaller too. The shrinking job market for higher-paying gigs is actually good news for freelance writers. Why? As you move up toward the pyramid toward more lucrative work, the number of people applying for those gigs also decreases.
It takes time to develop your skills and gain the experience necessary to go after the bigger jobs. Most people who decide that they want to be freelance writers either give up after a short time or focus on the lower-hanging fruit when it comes to job opportunities, because they are more plentiful and considered easier to get.
If you have been holding yourself back from going after a freelance writing job that is a bit higher up the job pyramid than you are used to applying for, why don’t you put yourself out there and do it anyway? The only way you will edge closer to the top is to challenge yourself to do so. There may be fewer gigs the closer you get to the top, but there is less competition as well. Go for it!