8 Practical Ways New, Inexperienced Freelance Writers Can Get Clients

‘A freelancer’, ‘freelance worker’, or ‘a freelance’ is somebody who is self-employed and is not committed to a particular employer long term - Wikipedia

In other words, not every writer – not even an aspiring freelance writer – is a ‘freelance writer’.

Even if you’ve set up your online portfolio, you’ve determined your rates and you’re the in the best frame of mind to make money writing for clients, you’re not necessarily a freelance writer.

You’re not a freelance writer until you get your first client. At least, not according to the definition of a freelance writer from Wikipedia above.

This article is going to change that, though. If you’re yet to get your first client or you want additional clients as a freelance writer, here are 8 practical ways you can achieve that - even if you’re a new, inexperienced freelance writer.

#1. Build a Simple Freelance Writing Portfolio site, focused on getting SEO traffic

Search engines contribute over 80 percent of all traffic on the web.

While clients come to me via my blog, over 80% of my clients discovered me through Google or other search engines.

Considering that only a fraction of search engine visitors to this blog visit pages that are likely to advertise my services, imagine how many more clients I could attract if I built a website dedicated to my website business, and promoted solely via SEO?

Having a website designed for just one purpose; to advertise your services and to be promoted via SEO, will greatly increase your chances of getting clients as a freelance writer.

Implementation: Create a simple portfolio-like website advertising your writing services; something similar to Sarah Russell’s freelance site here. Create an about page, a samples page and a few more pages convincing people that you’re the ideal freelance writer for them, to make the site more robust.

Now, start actively building links to this site to make it rank well in the search engines. A more effective approach is to target local search; if you’re a freelance writer in Florida, it is more effective to optimize your website to rank for “Florida freelance writer” as this will increase your chances of ranking for local keywords and getting targeted, local clients, compared to waiting for months to even rank for a weak, generic keyword.

Someone who does this well is Carol Tice, on her Seattle freelance writer website, and here’s how it works in her own words:

If you are not yet aware, let me spell it out: Google is the phone book of the 21st Century. Are you easily findable in it? I got both a Fortune 500 company and a well-funded startup as clients recently through the clients’ Google searches for a writer, simply because I’ve worked hard on my SEO for “Seattle freelance writer” and “Seattle freelance copywriter.”

The more specific you can get with your site, the better. By trying to rank for the keyword – “men’s health freelance writer”, your chances of success will be at least 10x more than someone who wants to rank for “freelance writer” due to how generic and competitive it is.

#2. Advertising

Most people think advertising when they think startups or big businesses, but it can also be a very effective way to get clients as a freelance writer.

By advertising as a freelance writer, you have an advantage - very few freelance writers advertise.

You can easily implement this by doing the same thing recommended above but with advertising. In other words, you create the site but advertise it via Google Adwords and similar platforms instead of doing SEO.

An advantage to this is that it’s instant, but you’ll often have to spend a lot of money to get results and you will also need to do some research on how paid ads work.

#3. Partner with Consultants and Marketers who Can get the Clients

While this might require you to compromise to some extent on your rates, you’ll often get a lot of steady work to make up for it.

While a lot of people are very good at writing and helping people with their content, most people suck at marketing.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you know a way around it.

It doesn’t matter if you get clients on your own or if you work as a subcontractor for other freelance writers. What matters is that you get the job and that there’s a steady flow of it.

A great way to do this is by partnering with others. Some people are very good at some things and poor at others. By finding what they’re poor at and offering to help out, you will be able to find a steady flow of job for yourself.

To put this in perspective, I’ll be using myself and WritersinCharge’s editor, Anne Lyken-Garner as an example.

Anne is a very talented writer and good with the use of the English language, but she hates marketing. I, however, I’m a non-native English writer who isn’t that good with my use of the English language, but I love marketing and get a lot of client work as a result. To create the best possible experience for my clients, I need a native English editor to help with my client articles. This is where Anne comes in.

Here’s a testimonial from Anne as to how effective partnering with others can be.

“We’ve all got our strengths. It’s very easy to be tugged along with the crazy tide of ‘earning money online’. Thousands of pro-bloggers are showing you how to do that at this very minute. The problem is: while it’s possible for you to make money on the web, you may never earn in exactly the same way they do. You’ll spend years copying their examples. You’ll spend hundreds buying their books. You’ll have sleepless nights following their dozens of tweets and updates. However, at the end of the year, all you’ll manage to squeeze out of hundreds of hours worth of work, are a few pennies. You’ll become frustrated and quit. 

“The thing is, save yourself the heartache. Find your strength and build on it. Use this talent (your own – not someone else’s) to make your money online. I spent years trying to make money from affiliate links and low-paying writing sites. These never worked for me. All this time, I neglected to use my qualifications, talents and experience as a writer and editor. Since I’ve given up the rat race and settled down to doing what I know best, I’m earning online – just like I’ve always wanted to. 

“Oni is fantastic at marketing his skills and finding well-paying writing jobs. I’m an experienced writer/author and editor. Together we’re formidable as a team. The client get what she wants and we get paid. It couldn’t be simpler.”

#4. Scrape the Internet for Writing Jobs

There are more jobs on the internet than most people are aware of.

A lot of new writers just wait for freelance writing jobs to find them - as illustrated in this comic - without actually taking active measures to get clients, when there are thousands of job offers online that’s a Google search away.

By creatively searching for keywords that people use when trying to hire freelance writers, you’ll be able to find apparently hidden freelance writing jobs online.

Some variation keywords are:

  • regular paid freelance blogger needed
  • freelancer for hire etc.

(The above keywords are just samples and are often overused, so chances of finding jobs with the actual keywords are slim. The above are only listed to give you inspiration to develop keywords to help you find clients. Be creative)

#5. Leverage Social Media Sites

Social media is becoming more important every day. Everybody is using it, and your most important – potential – clients are probably on one social media site or the other.

There are two ways to leverage social media sites to help you get clients, and they are:

  • Build up your social media profiles to attract clients
  • Regularly scrape social media sites for freelance jobs
  • Contact key people at companies or organizations to see if there are openings for freelance writers

Following any of the above approaches has been proven to work.

Carol Tice from MakeaLivingWriting.com has had a lot of success with social media; both with LinkedIn and Twitter and here’s what she has to say about Twitter’s effectiveness:

Twitter can be a powerful tool for spreading the word about what you’re doing, and for meeting great, useful new people. I ended up guest-posting on Copyblogger from promoting my blog posts on Twitter, and meeting a $2-a-word assigning editor at a high-profile website who’s still giving me assignments

Most social media sites today have a search engine; Facebook has, as do Twitter and other major social media sites. Potential clients and job managers will often post on these sites about freelance job openings. You can then contact them to let them know you’re interested.

#6. Online Job Boards

Online job boards are very effective for getting freelance writing clients, if used right.

With the right job board, there are dozens of quality freelance writing jobs posted every month.

To prove the effectiveness of freelance job boards, here’s a quote from Marya Jan on how she used to BloggingPro jobs board to land a freelance gig that pays $100 an article:

I have landed a client that I ghost blog for. They pay me $100 per post to write for the business site, twice a week. And I am booked for the next 6 months.

“I am writing for Open Colleges, who have previously advertised on BloggingPro job board. Not only am I working on a big project for them, they have reportedly hired other writers who applied via the same advertised job, hence have nothing but nice things to say about them.

“And another time, I saw a full time position that I knew I wasn’t able to fill. But that didn’t stop me from approaching the company and pitching them some ideas for their website content, landing page revision and email marketing campaign. I was literally able to create a position for myself. I am currently doing a 4k project for them.

In other words, freelancing job boards work!

A great way to significantly increase your chances of getting hired is by getting rid of your CV, and actually using a live portfolio. You should also pay attention to the instructions in the job description; not following instruction will almost always disqualify you, so while it’s easier to want to be quick because there will be competition, you might also want to consider the fact that people always want to get the best for their money, so quality will always prevail.

If you’re looking to get started with job boards, I posted a quality post listing 12 freelancing job boards for writers. You should check it out!

#7. Start a Blog

Every single client I’m currently working with contacted me via this blog and I’ve worked with some of them for over a year now.

Ultimately, your blog will be the most effective client generation tool.

Besides, having a blog means you’ll have an audience that can enable you go beyond just freelance writing; you can launch a book or a product in the nearest future and make some money as a result.

I’ve covered getting clients from a blog before, so I won’t be going into details here. Here are some resources to get you covered:

#8. Online Communities and Answer Sites

Freelance writers seldom use these mediums, but they work.

There have been several instances of people getting clients from sites like Quora, Yahoo! Answers and other major online community sites.

In fact, to see this in action you can take a look at the following post on Quora from a SEO professional asking for information on how he can get clients.

Later in the thread, another Quora member posted the following message:

How much do you charge? Message me on here, maybe I’ll hire you :)

That’s a potential, free gig just from asking how to get clients on Quora.

With Quora, this isn’t the only instance. In a post I wrote a few months ago, I also featured a Quora thread where someone asking for how to get clients got two offers in the same thread.

If you want to get clients on community sites like Quora, Yahoo! Answers and others, here are a few tips for you:

  • Be helpful. People want to hire experts, not amateurs. By being active on sites like Quora, you’ll get noticed by founders of startups and companies in your industry interested in hiring a writer. They’ll often contact you sooner than you expect. To show how effective this is, this post shares the experience of how a particular freelancer got a client by being active on Quora. He got a call  out of the blue – which eventually led to a new client – from a complete stranger shortly after he started using Quora.
  • Make it easy to find you. Don’t use a random anonymous profile. Instead, have a professional profile that makes it easy for people to know that you’re a freelance writer who is for hire. Sites like Quora automatically show a short description of what you do, so it’s easy for people to know who you are when you’re active.
  • Ask for it. When you post helpful information on the site, include a short note that anyone interested in your services can hire you by sending you a personal message.

If you want to take things to the next level on Quora, this guide on Freelance Folder’s got you covered.

About the Author

  • http://www.makealivingwriting.com Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing

    Wow, two links for me — thanks Oni!

    I’m having a tech problem with the post where your social bar wants to stick in the middle of the text instead of on the side where it belongs…not sure if it’s just me.

    The punchline to the SEO and passive marketing strategy is I’ve taught so many people to do it now, and some of them are in my market…so I have to battle them for the top result! Keeps me on my toes and updating my writer site. ;-)

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Hi Carol,

      Aha, you definitely deserved more. You’re an inspiration to every freelance writer so citing you actually adds more credibility to the post.

      Besides, it’s funny to see how many different tactics work well for you; this goes further to show that one can get results if one can put in the effort :)

      I can definitely feel you on the SEO thing. You’re there today and not there tomorrow, but some good competition doesn’t hurt like you said :)

  • http://www.runningfromtheruns.blogspot.com Running from the Runs

    Love this – you left me with about eight extra windows open following all the links. Very helpful! I have been blogging for less than a year and interested in starting to freelance, so this was very welcome when it popped up on my Twitter feed!

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Aha, I’m really glad this post resonated with you.

      I just can’t resist adding all those resources, but now I’m glad to hear that they’re helpful :)

  • http://www.kfm24.com Kenny Fabre

    Oni

    Build a Simple Freelance Writing Portfolio site, focused on getting SEO traffic, this a solid way to start, it will bring solid potential clients looking at your freelance writing service

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Exactly, Kenny.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)

  • http://www.aha-now.com Harleena Singh

    Wonderful post yet again Oni!

    You covered up everything so very well, and yes, Anne and you DO make a wonderful team – though your language isn’t as bad as you think it is. :)

    Yes indeed, having a proper portfolio or putting it all up on your website is what really works. And there can be nothing better than having your own blog, which is where people are really able to interact with you, and yes, you get your clients also from there.

    Being a freelance writer myself, I am horrible at #8 too – guess the lack of time is one main reason I keep away from communities, forums, and discussions. I still need to learn more about Quora too.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Thanks, Harleena!

      Aha, thanks for the compliments in regards to my language :)

      Exactly, I think having a blog is the best decision any freelance writer will make; it’s been the best for me and I recommend every freelance writer I know create theirs.

      I’m also horrible at #8 but it works. I guess we can’t all be perfect at everything; it’s all about finding our strengths and improving on them.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)

  • http://www.earnonlineng.com Earnonlineng

    Wow, this post has opened my scope to the different ways and also corrected some mistakes one could make while writing or blogging for good responds and traffic

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      I’m really glad it was of help :)

  • http://www.deep-think.org Lanre

    I’ve done #4, #6, #7, #8 and I’ll definitely try out #1 and #5.

    I believe that it’s consistency that’ll actually keep those clients flowing in. My first application on an online job board didn’t get me any clients but my third one did :-).

    Pick a technique, implement it, get results and then try the next technique.

    This was really resourceful Oni. I also had multiple windows open following the links ;-).

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Exactly, bro!

      Consistency is really what will keep the clients coming.

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the article :)

  • http://youpreneurs.blogspot.com/ Samuel Murimi

    This is helpful information Oni.

    I am a new freelance writer and sometimes this year I searched for jobs in Freelancing Job sites. The pay was poor. The work load and hours I put to work..I don’t even want to think about it. I wrote 50 articles for $50. I know I failed,but I will quote the words of a famous motivational speaker:

    “Failure is not failure and only becomes failure when we don’t learn from it. Failure is part of success because it teaches us some things that we shouldn’t repeat as we pursue success.”

    Thanks for giving me practical tips and examples of people who have succeeded. I promise you’ll be the first person I’ll buy a sweet when I become a successful freelance writer.

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Aha, thanks Samuel! :)

  • http://www.cash4wealthng.com cash4wealth

    i just got more ideas of getting big and reliable clients as a finance writer.the post was detailed and practical.indeed Google does wonders for businesses today when the right keywords and SEO is applied.

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Exactly. Google misbehaves most of the time, but they can also be a very effective source of business if used wisely.

  • http://getmobilefun.com Techbogy Rocky @Latest Mobile Reviews

    Awesome post..I am not someone who doesn’t have any experience but then too I found this post to be very helpful for me..I am trying my best to build contacts and get paid the correct price for my article writing work.

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Awesome, I’m glad this post is of help to you :)

  • http://www.miraculousladies.com June

    Great post Oni. I definitely need to implement most of your tips. My problem is finding the time to dedicate to building up my writing carer. If I could create another 10 hours to add to the day I would be a happy woman.

    Anyway I’m working on developing my time-management skills. :-)

    But seriously, this article is very useful for me.

    Thank you.

    • http://www.youngprepro.com Bamidele Onibalusi

      Aha, thanks June!

      Time is something we all want more of but can’t find; I guess it’s all about getting the best from the limited time we have.

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post :)

  • http://www.infowland.com dan

    Great post Bamidele,

    I will definitely try out #5 and #1

    BTW: I love your introduction to this post ( Got some great insights).

    Best Regards
    Danny

  • http://johnoyedu.com JOHN OYEDU

    hi Oni,

    i’m glad i found your site. it is a great resource for me that’s just stepping into freelance writing world.

    i am doing #7 already with the hope to explore others you recommend.

    thanks once again

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  • http://franciscajemeni.blogspot.in Francisca Jemeni

    Hi, You are a great teacher always. I am following with your new project. Time for me to start work.