Something that everyone wants to know is how to find freelance writing clients that pay better than Upwork.
Sure, there are some success stories on Upwork… but most of the time it’s miserable pay for meh clients.
For new freelance writers, this is the part of the process where I see major dropoff… the client-finding part. You’ve managed to power through the writing samples and all the other start-up stuff you need to do, and now it’s time to try to go find some work.
This is the hard part.
It’s risky. You’re putting your neck on the line. This is the part where you get rejected. It requires real effort. It gets demoralizing. It’s not very much fun.
Well… some people think it’s a lot of fun. I’m at the point now where I think it’s fun but for a long time it was like “I have to do this even more and I don’t think I want to!” Ultimately I did keep going because I knew that freelance writing was what I wanted to do.
If freelance writing is what you want to do, you have to do this part.
This is the part where you are pitching, drumming up work, going out and finding clients. There’s a lot you can do that is less outbound and more inbound. But inbound marketing typically takes a lot longer to pay off.
I want to share with you three strategies that I teach in my Client Bound course. I’m not going to go super in-depth, but give a broad overview of the things that have worked for me and the things that I’ve seen work really well for other people.
The first thing I want to share is called attraction marketing. You’re putting yourself out there, and letting it be known that you are a writer and you offer a valuable skill. You are doing this in places where your clients hang out so that they see, notice, and come to you.
This is an outbound strategy, but there’s a lot of activity on your part that goes with it. It has the work of the outbound but the structure of the inbound. What attraction marketing looks like in practice is first setting up your actual Facebook profile page to be as public as you can possibly stand.
Then you set up a Facebook business page. If you really want to keep your personal profile on lockdown, it’s critical that you set up a business page. I recommend that you name your page the same as whatever your work name is.
Next, go into Facebook groups where your ideal clients are hanging out and you “provide value.” That means you’re answering questions, offering resources, looking up solutions, and providing them. You are not spamming, not doing self promo, you are simply offering answers and information, what we call value.
When you are able to, you mention that you’re a writer, if it makes sense within the context. You don’t even have to do that. People see you, they get curious, and they click over to your profile. That’s why I want you to have some public stuff there. Don’t keep that thing on total lockdown!
Another strategy is cold emailing. Lots of people avoid cold emailing and go to job boards, which have become cattle calls with thousands of writers vying for the same positions.
Cold emailing is hard and feels risky because it’s the kind of thing that would irritate us. But if you do it right and with the right people, then what you’re doing is solving a problem. Your emails are not an intrusion. They are a welcome solution.
There’s a certain amount of volume that you have to keep up. You can’t just send five emails and get a month’s worth of work. When I was cold emailing one out of every 20 was turning into a lead. But one out of 10 is pretty good.
Cold emailing takes some effort, but you can do it right and it can lead to tons of work.
I recently read something–someone sent 350 cold emails in a month and they had more work than they knew what to do with, really high paying work, more than they could handle. On the one hand, 350 emails is a lot of emails. On the other, 350 emails is approximately 10 emails a day.
Then in the next month or two, depending on how many of those days you’re working, you could have more work than you know what to do with, which is going from zero to full docket in two months. Pretty good if you ask me!
Don’t write off cold email just because it’s scary. It gets easier.
The first one is absolutely terrifying. The second is still pretty scary. By the third, you’re nervous, but if you can push through the discomfort and just get to that third email, it is so much easier. Then eventually you’re “blah, blah, blah, email.”
My very first job was from someone I’d met.
Your referrals come from your contacts, from people who know who you are. Referrals can come to you from your friends. People you know in real life, from your uncle or your seventh grade English teacher.
Referrals can come to you pretty quickly if you’re on Facebook. I’ve had a good amount of work come to me from people who knew of me on Facebook. They’re like, “Oh, you’re looking for a writer! Here, talk to my friend Ashley.”
They can come from somebody at church. I had work referred to me by a landlord one time. That was interesting! I got a couple of books out of that. I was editing books and I edited a couple of book manuscripts.
Another source of referrals is going to be your clients. You can ask people you work with if they know of anyone else who can benefit from your services. Or you can ask them to spread the word about your name.
Traditionally a referral is, “Hey, give me the names of people who you know who I can help,” and so then you get the names of their friends and you go to the friends.
But the way I like to do it to say, “Hey, do you know anyone who needs freelancers? If so, would you mind connecting us? Or I can go to them directly if that’s easier for you.”
It’s better for me if I can get an introduction. I’m asking them permission to go to their friends instead of saying, “Give me this info!”
It’s, “Would you mind sharing this info? Do you think I can help your buddy?” That’s a referral network.
My Coaching Group
This is kind of a minor thing, but I think it’s worth mentioning. I sometimes hand out job leads.
My client docket is full right now. Whenever I get leads for new projects that I either can’t take or are not right for me, I offer them to the people in my coaching group. If you are interested in the coaching group, then I recommend you go to ashleygainer.teachable.com, or send me an email and I can give you more info.
These are the primary ways that I have found work: through referrals; through being present and known on Facebook and generating interest that way; and through sending cold emails.
They are just three of the many, many ways that you can use to find great high-paying clients who value what you do, who are not trying to scam you, who are not going to rip you off, ghost you, or otherwise mistreat you, and who you are not going to find in the job boards or on Upwork.
There is so much better out there for you and this is a peek at what that might look like.