‘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’.
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.
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:
- How to Use Blogging to Fuel Your Freelance Writing Business
- How to Use Blogging to Launch a Freelance Writing Career
- How to Attract Quality Freelance Writing Clients with Your Blog
#8. Online Communities and Answer Sites
Freelance writers seldom use these mediums, but they work.
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.
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.