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How Freelance Writers Find Clients And Customers

freelance writing clientsIf you’re a freelance writer, or want to be one, you’ve obviously got to find people to pay you for your writing. While that may look like submitting to various magazines and publishers, most of us need to find other kinds of customers.

People who buy writing come from all sorts of walks of life and all sorts of businesses. For example, I now earn most of my income from my blogs and from ghostwriting books. But I’ve done corporate writing, worked inside for websites, magazines and newspapers, done some Search Engine Optimization, written tech manuals, etc.

Most of my clients I’ve found, one way or another, because I tell people that I’m a writer.

I do this in a variety of ways:

  • I’ve had a website up for years. If you don’t have one, get one up just as soon as you possible can. You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg. Providers like 1and1 offer tools that let you build your own site quickly and easily. In fact, most of their packages include their 1and1 blog which makes getting started blogging a snap.
  • I have business cards I pass out freely. And I do mean freely – often giving people two so they can pass one along.
  • I selectively answer ads, even some of those I post here.
  • I stay alert. When I’m out amongst people I pay attention to writing needs. Sometimes these occur in conversations. More than once I’ve landed a client when they mentioned something about needing writing or marketing or websites. I may engage them in conversation or just slip them a business card. I’ve also gotten clients when, while doing other business, I see a need for writing. I may ask who hires the writers or just ask if they’d like some help. I’m not pushy, but have an attitude of how can I help.
  • And yes, in the past I’ve done cold calling. Not my favorite activity, and hard to get started, but darn it, it works – usually the same day, almost always within a week.
  • Years ago I got my start in tech writing by attending a computer conference and passing out cards at every booth and telling them I could write tech manuals. Sure enough, a week later I got a call and landed a contract.

If there’s one constant it’s that I more or less toot my own horn. I’m not at all shy about it – after all, who better?

The other constant is that alertness I spoke about in the list. I really do seem to have developed a sort of radar for which people and organizations might benefit from my services.

Try both approaches for awhile and see how they work for you.

How do you find your clients and customers?

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • My problem is I have no idea how to write anything but fiction and blog posts. No one is interested in that, it seems. 😛

    My sister thinks I should do editing and proofreading, but I don’t want to. I like to WRITE, not correct other people’s mistakes. If that were the case, I’d have stayed in grad school and become a teacher. Not for me.
    Elizabeth West recently posted..Have Fun at Work on Talk Like a Pirate Day!My Profile

    • Elizabeth, blog posts can become articles when they get a little or a lot longer… I don’t understand what you mean you don’t know how to write anything but blogs and fiction… that’s a lot.

  • Mine also is a broad mixthat has included former employers, former coworkers who started their own businesses, a few prospects from Craig’s List ads, and some current clients that I found eons ago (“eons” as defined in internet time) on freelance bid sites. I have a web site, but so far that has worked more to close the sale rather than generating any new clients. I have not yet tried cold calling and I am still working up my nerve to pitch to consumer mags. Doing those two things are on my list of goals for the rest of this year.

    • awww. try a query letter to a consumer mag… in fact, I dare you!

  • Hi Anne –
    Sounds like we have pretty similar marketing approaches…mine’s pretty broad-spectrum as well. I did an analysis last week of how I got new clients this year in a guest post for WM Freelance Writers Connection: http://www.thewmfreelanceconnection.com/2010/09/marketing-your-writing-my-winning-2010.html

    The upshot was — some social-media marketing, a Craigslist ad here or there, in-person networking, sending query letters, looking at the full-time job ads on LinkedIn and asking if they use freelancers…it all played a role. The more forms of marketing you do, the more likely you are to see success.

    Have to say I have not done cold calling. Kind of curious to try it — or to try sending InMail to prospects on LI, which you hear has a 30% response rate! — but at this point I’m fully booked and actually not doing a lot of marketing. It was a LONG slog to get to this point, of about 18 months of marketing very intensively. But you CAN find great-paying clients, even in this economy.
    Carol Tice recently posted..The One Trait All Successful New-Media Writers ShareMy Profile

    • Carol… yes, we seem to do this in a similar way. I’ve only done enough cold calling to know it works… for me it’s like notifying the universe I’m ready for another client.

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