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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Get Clients

It is every writer’s dream to get more clients.

However, there’s a right and wrong way to get clients and there are mistakes you should avoid like the plague. Here are 10 mistakes you should avoid when trying to get clients:

1. Being in a Negative Environment

This is perhaps the most important factor when trying to get clients.

The environment where you’re looking for clients can often influence their mindset as well as determine whether they’ll value you once you start working with them; if you’re getting your gigs on freelance bidding sites or sites that encourage clients to pay peanuts to writers, you’re in a wrong environment. As a result, there’s every probability you’ll find it difficult to convince them you’re worth a premium.

2. Actively Competing with others for a Limited Number of Clients

A lot of writers make this mistake and they pay for it by getting crappy clients that lead them to doubt their self-worth.

Avoid competing with other writers for clients. This will only drag you into a battle you cannot win and you can hurt your self-esteem in the process.

The wrong approach: Bidding against 20 different writers, with many having different cultural and economic realities to you, for one client.

The right approach: Building a blog that consistently sends you clients OR pitching premium websites and contacting potential clients to let them know that you are the ideal candidate for them.

3. Not Getting Yourself in Front of a lot of Clients

Your focus should be on quality but you should realize that this IS also a numbers game.

The more clients you have contact with, the more deals you will close.

Don’t give up after communicating with 2 – 3 clients and not closing a deal; sometimes, you need to be in touch with 20 – 30 clients before getting your ideal client that will pay your rates. If you give up before this, your effort would have been a waste and you still won’t achieve your goals.

This is why I advocate blogging for clients so that you constantly get a lot of clients without actively doing anything; since these clients also come on their own, it’s easier to get them to hire you.

4. Getting Your Clients from the Wrong Sources

You could bid for clients, actively pitch them or wait for them to come to you on their own. Obviously, I favor the latter approach.

It’s important to know that there’s a HUGE difference between the 3 approaches.

  • When you bid for clients, you’re competing against dozens of other writers and you have the slimmest chance of getting the gig; you’re a voice amidst a lot of noise
  • When you pitch clients, while you aren’t necessarily competing with other writers, you’ll have to communicate to them that they need you. Since they didn’t advertise for your position, they probably don’t know that they need what you have to offer
  • When clients come to you, they know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they NEED you, so they are more receptive to hiring you.

5. Not Actively Communicating Your Value Upfront

Out of fear not to lose a client, it’s easy to avoid communicating your value upfront; this is a deadly mistake that will set the tone for future dealings with a client.

Make sure you let every client know how much you’re worth; if you do this, they won’t ever take you for granted.

6. Not Establishing Your Authority Upfront


Isn’t this reserved just for clients? No, not in my book.

Your aim should be to have clients respect you and occasionally let you make decisions as “the expert”; of course, you have to be perceived as an expert for this to happen.

There are various ways to establish your expertise; you can start a blog, publish a book or get lots of media coverage in your niche.

You can also increase perceived authority right from the first email with a potential client; confidence is a sign of authority and when clients see that you’re extremely confident right from your first communication with them, you automatically increase your perceived value.

How do you establish this authority? A trick I use is to ask for 50% upfront payment; I haven’t been turned down by a client before because of this and a client that won’t pay 50% is probably not an ideal candidate.

7. Not Specializing

I expect this to work differently but I’m often surprised at how effective specializing can be; it’s natural to expect to get more clients if you can do a lot of things but clients often prefer experts in a field to someone who can do “everything”.

Specialize by writing for one main niche or if you can’t stick to one niche, specialize in only one or two forms of writing; of course, you can do other types of writing once you’ve closed the deal but market yourself as an “expert whitepaper writer” instead of “someone who does all forms of writing”.

8. Not Having a Website

Resumes? Clients no longer use them!

No matter how much you hate having a website, you’ll find it difficult to close deals with clients if you don’t have one.

It is even better if you have a blog.

Your website serves as a sample of your work; clients can review your writing and how professional you are to make an informed decision on whether to hire you.

9. Not Having Published an Article on a Reputable Website

While this isn’t a prerequisite to getting quality clients, it’ll help a great deal.

If you’ve published an article on a reputable website that your client is familiar with, it communicates that you’re an expert in your field and that you should be hired.

10. Not Actively Filtering the Clients You Work with

In line with my philosophy that the writer is in charge, I actively advocate filtering the clients you work with.

If other writers are willing to work with everybody, their neighbor and their dogs, you can take a different approach by working with high quality clients that have big pockets and are willing to spend money to get quality writers.

Surprisingly, specializing, refer to point #7 in this email, will automatically help you do this. However, you can take things to the next level by making it clear that you don’t want everybody; include a short note that lets people know who your ideal client is.

Will you get less clients? Yes. Will you get better, high-paying clients? Beyond the shadow of a doubt!

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Category: freelance writing


Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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