Experienced freelance writers often find it difficult to understand how difficult and scary this can be for beginner freelance writers.
With over 5 years of experience as a freelance writer and blogger, recognition from top publications and magazines, and having written for some of the biggest blogs online, it is very easy for me to say “okay, do this to get X result“.
Things aren’t as simple for beginner freelance writers though and I could very well, unknowingly, be suffering from the curse of knowledge.
However, what if I’m a completely new freelance writer – with no experience, no connections and no reputation – exactly how will I give myself a quick boost?
Here are some things I’d do differently if I were to start again today:
#1. I Will Reach Out to Top Bloggers to See if they Need Content
Many top bloggers are very busy and will happily pay for quality content.
It is difficult to comprehend why top bloggers will pay for content when they regularly get free submissions from others in the form of guest posts, but the fact is that most guest posts bloggers receive are crappy and unusable.
Even if a blogger is popular enough and gets quality submissions, most will still pay extra for consistent quality.
Don’t expect these bloggers to announce that they need freelance writers on Twitter or Facebook, they won’t; at most, they’ll only tell their inner circle.
Instead of waiting for them to contact you (which might never happen), why not try contacting them to see if they need someone to consistently provide good quality content for their blogs or any of their other projects?
It is also important to know that they will be more likely to hire you if they are familiar with you as a member of their audience, or if you had recently contributed a guest post that did really well on their blog.
#2. I Will Start Using Freelance Job Boards
While it can be difficult to stand out and get serious clients through bidding sites, there are quality freelance job boards that provide more than average opportunities on a consistent basis.
Here are two key reasons why freelance job boards will always have quality offers compared to bidding sites:
- Most top freelance job boards don’t just allow any offer; they approve job offers before they go live, often weeding out the poor ones.
- Most quality job boards, like the Problogger Jobs Board for example, require people to pay a fee before their offer is published. When a client has to pay $50 to post a gig, you can have a level of assurance that he isn’t looking for someone to do $3 articles.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying freelance job boards should be your main source of clients, I’m saying they are a good place to start for most beginners.
#3. I Will Learn to Use Google to Search More Effectively
The most effective tool any writer can have is Google; whether for finding writing gigs or other resources.
Being familiar with relevant keywords will instantly reveal listings and freelance writing offers, and some popular keywords are:
- “paid guest blogger wanted”
- “freelance writer wanted”
- “article writer wanted”
- “quality writer wanted”
- “paid writer wanted”
- “writer, $50 per article”
The keyword you use can vary and will be different depending on your needs and the kind of clients you want, but make sure you are creative with your searches. Anything a client can use to post a job offer can help you land that client – so think carefully and creatively and start Googling for clients!
#4. I Will Improve My Current Skills and Develop New Skills
While this isn’t a direct tactic for getting clients, it can make a whole lot of difference in how many clients you get and how much you get paid for your services.
Most beginner freelance writers fail because they expect to get paid doing the basic writing they see most other freelance writer do.
The problem with this mindset is that there is a lot of competition already and, unless you have built a reputation for yourself, very few people will want to pay you well to do basic writing for them.
Instead, develop more specialized skills and consistently expand on your skill set.
For example, do you know that some businesses will pay you to ghostwrite guest posts on other blogs on their behalf? If you are good at getting blogs to publish your guest posts, you might want to start offering this service to clients.
How about writing whitepapers, doing press releases or some other specialized kind of writing? The more skills you have, the better.
#5. I Will Network With Successful Freelance Writers and Bloggers
Over the years, I’ve introduced friends and other freelance writers I know, and trust, to clients I couldn’t work with.
Sometimes, you don’t need to be a ninja at getting clients, you only need to be a ninja at networking with others and leveraging their influence to grow your income base.
The biggest client I’ve worked with to date was referred to me, by no one else other than the amazing Zac Johson; as someone who advocates getting clients to reach out to me directly, and that’s how I’ve got at least 90% of my clients at the time of writing this, that speaks volumes.
If you don’t know Zac, he’s a six figure blogger and one of the biggest names in affiliate marketing; Zac is a smart networker and brand builder, as well as someone who genuinely cares about his audience, and we’ve interacted several times over the years.
He knew about my freelance writing endeavors, and he referred a client to me when he felt I could help with their needs.
If I were to start again as a new freelance writer I will start moving closely with successful bloggers and freelance writers I admire. I’ll always be there for them and let them know I am, and I’d also let them know my predicament and tell them I’m available for hire if they have clients that are in need of writers.
Your reality is different from that of the successful freelance writer you look for; to her, $100 per article could be insulting. To you, that could be a life saving offer. She might be working on a project, a program for her readers, or even just have her plate full. All those are reasons to turn down clients, but where do those clients end up?
Networking puts you right on their radar, and they can regularly send quality gigs your way.
#6. I Will Focus More on My Blog
Blogging has been my biggest source of clients to date.
I got my first client through my blog; I wasn’t even planning to become a freelance writer, but when clients kept contacting me through my blog I knew it was time to make a career out of freelance writing.
If I were to start freelance writing again, I will start a blog; I will create a page on my blog telling people about the services I offer, I will promote the page throughout my blog, and I will market my blog as if that’s my only job.
My guide to getting clients from blogging, Stop Pitching Clients, goes into details, and it contains practical information, on how to get clients by blogging. You should definitely check it out!
#7. I Will Launch a Guest Blogging Campaign
You could be a total nobody, and your blog could have zero readers, but there are blogs with thousands, or even millions, of readers; some of these readers are business owners, agencies and organizations that could need your services.
If I were to start again, I will try to get clients by writing on other blogs.
I will first create a portfolio or small site that shows I am a freelance writer, and that asks people to hire me; I will also be sure to avoid these writer website mistakes. I will then channel the traffic from my guest posts to that small site.
From my experience, out of 100 people who land on that site, you should expect around 5 people to hire you; if you guest blog the right way, you might only have to do 2 – 3 guest posts to pull this off.
You don’t have to wait to build the perfect blog to start getting clients; create a simple page on your blog or a small website with a focus on attracting clients; submit a guest post that you believe is a masterpiece to a big blog in your niche, and ask people to hire you in the bio of your guest post. You will be amazed at how effective this can be.
#8. I Will Pool a List of Potential Clients and Ask Them to Hire Me
I’ll research a list of of companies that might need a lot of writing; these companies include magazines, blogs, agencies, marketing and SEO Companies, as well as businesses jumping on the content marketing bandwagon. I’ll then contact as many of them as I can contact to increase my chances of being hired.
Ensure you do due research to come up with a targeted list of companies you think really needs content; make your list as exhaustive as possible.
You should then send a personalized message to each of these companies telling them what skills you have, why they need content and how your content will help their business grow.
If possible, show samples of your work that have been published on your blog and, especially, other big blogs in their niche and give them an idea of the kind of results you can get for them.
#9. I Will Target Blogs and Sites that Pay for Articles
There are thousands of blogs and sites that pay writers, and most of them publicly announce this.
Look for big blogs in your niche, or in niches you’d like to write for, that have regular authors, and see if they are paying their writers.
Sometimes, some of these blogs will have a page stating requirements for writing for them and payment details; most of the times, they won’t.
If you see a blog that has a number of regular contributors publishing articles on a weekly basis, then most likely they are paying them.
Reach out to these blogs and tell them you’d like to get paid to write for them.
You might need to contact a lot of blogs to get the right offer, but if you are able to deliver great content regularly you shouldn’t have problems making good money with these sites every month.
Thankfully, I have several amazing resources on this site featuring blogs and sites that pay writers.
- 110 Websites that Pay Writers
- 45 Websites that Pay Writers
- 30 Websites that Pay Writers
- 10 Resources for Finding Well-Paying Freelance Writing Gigs
#10. I Will Work on Getting Clients Locally
There are more businesses offline than online.
Many offline businesses are yet to realize the power of the internet, and you might just need to convince them with some data.
There are also offline businesses that realize the power of the internet but are incapacitated to utilize it; most don’t have the resources to hire a full-time staff, but that doesn’t mean they won’t happily work with freelance writers.
If I were to start again as a freelance writer, I will definitely try to gain some business locally.