Are you struggling to land your first freelance writing client? How can you impress prospects and land your first freelance writing gig.
The four biggest problems many freelance writers are dealing with are:
- How to find freelance writing jobs
- How to retain existing clients
- How to pitch to new clients
- How to raise your freelance writing rates without losing your existing clients
But, as a newbie freelance writer, your problem is how to land your “first” freelance writing client.
I know so because I’ve been there – in the same situation where you keep wondering and asking yourself this one question, “How do I get my first freelance writing gig?”
The good news is that, you do not need any miracle to land your first writing job. The only thing you need to do is “taking consistent action” to find your first client.
Here’s what you should do…
1: Create and Build Your Freelance Writing Portfolio to Impress Prospective Clients
Having an impressive writing portfolio is a remarkable way to impress potential clients and urge them to hire you.
But as a newbie freelance writer:
- How can you create a portfolio if you haven’t work for any client?
- Do you have to get freelance clients to work with before you can create a portfolio profile?
You don’t necessarily need to have completed work under your belt before you can create a portfolio of your work to impress prospects.
Here’s what to do instead…
My good friend Ryan Biddulph always say, … develop relationships and build bonds with pro-bloggers and freelance writers in your writing niche.
Build relationships with them by supporting their work through the following steps:
- Like and comment on their posts on social media
- Share their work across social media sites
- Mention them in your posts and link to their blogs
- Visit their blogs and leave valuable comments on their articles (especially their latest blog posts).
(You may want to read how to write epic blog comments that will get you noticed by top bloggers and influencers in your industry).
However, it will only take you a couple of weeks to do these tasks and set your self up for success.
Next, start pitching them for a guest post opportunity. Then use each published guest post to create a portfolio of your work.
Where can I create a portfolio?
Easy bro, I knew you were going to ask me that.
There are many places to create a portfolio of your work, such as:
- Setup a self-hosted blog or website and create a portfolio page within your blog or website. But if you are not ready for a self-hosted blog or website, no worries. You can set up a free blog on WordPress, Blogger, Wix, etc.
- Go to Contently and create a free portfolio.
- Use Pinterest to create a portfolio for your work.
- And of course, create a portfolio on LinkedIn.
With your portfolio setup, start adding your published guest posts to showcase your writing skills to potential clients.
2: Optimize and Update Your LinkedIn Profile Frequently
Many freelance writers underestimate the power of LinkedIn to attract prospects and land new clients, or score your first freelance writing client.
LinkedIn is an all social media marketing site for professionals – a place where you can meet with business executives, managers, etc.
A recent research revealed that 80% of B2B marketers view LinkedIn as the best marketing channel for lead generation.
As a result, many freelance content writers are finding high-paying clients from the platform.
When prospective clients want to hire you for the first time, they usually go to either Google or LinkedIn to check you out before offering you a job.
They put in your name in search to find out more about you.
Interestingly, Google will show your LinkedIn profile, and if what they see interests them, they will certainly offer you the job.
So then, the question is…
Is your LinkedIn profile well-optimized?
Thus, optimize your profile to make sure the right prospects finds your profile on LinkedIn and Google searches.
These are clients who will create a long-term business relationship with you.
Utilize The LinkedIn “experience” section
What interests me most about LinkedIn is that it offers you a section to create a list of past work experiences.
Many user of the platform will add their previous work experience in this section, but for smart freelance writers, this is a perfect place to create a portfolio that will showcase your writing samples.
From there prospective clients can clearly see what you can do for them – in terms of content creation.
That’s not all…
You can also add descriptions and links to each work you’ve completed for your clients as well as guest posts you contributed to other blogs in each experience section.
Here’s a screenshot of my “experience” section on LinkedIn for inspiration.
Here is how to fill up each section:
In the “company” name section, input the name of the blog or website where you contributed a guest post.
Next is the “title.” Here’s where you put your title, such as, freelance IT writer, b2b freelance writer, etc.
You don’t want to be a general “freelance writer.” Be specific to your niche.
Next after title is your “location.” You already know where you are working from, so add it there.
After location is the “start date” and “end date.” For me, I added the date my articles were published as the “start date.”
If you intend to keep contributing guest posts to the blog, then leave the “end date” empty and check the “I currently work here” box.
Then move on to the “description” section and fill out the form completely. Get testimonials from your guest post hosts and add them as well.
Add your links and click the save button to save it.
That’s it, you have created a beautiful portfolio on LinkedIn.
This will make it easier for prospective clients to see all your work in one place without leaving your profile.
*important* Your goal here is to land your “first” freelance writing client. So make sure to add only guest posts that you’re so proud of that will impress prospective clients.
Please, read this article to learn how to better optimize your LinkedIn profile to boost your credibility.
3: Narrow Down Your Niche
Yes, you read it right. Choose a niche market and narrow down your niche to have a focus.
Clients love to work with writers who have a specialty, or freelance writers who work in a specific industry.
This means you do not want to be known with the general term, “freelance writer,” but one with a niche.
For example, you could narrow down your niche to “IT freelance writer,” “Technology freelance writer,” and so forth. This will make it easier for you to land your first client.
How can I find my freelance writing niche to narrow down?
Hold your breath, I was expecting that question from you.
Here’s how to find your niche…
Look at your interests, your hobbies, your past work experience, etc. Which of these do you have a passion for?
If you can identify that which you have a passion for – a topic that fascinates you, that is your niche.
Another way to find your niche is to write on different topics. Then, from the different topics you’ve written, choose the ones you like the most.
In fact, this method is my favorite because it helps you in three different ways:
- Helps you pinpoint topics you like
- Enables you to find topics that pay well
- Helps you improve your writing skills
This strategy will help you narrow down your niche and land your first freelance writing client.
4: Search for Potential Clients to Work With
Now that you have created your portfolio, optimized your profile, and narrowed down on a niche, the next thing to do is to start searching for potential clients right away.
Don’t sit back waiting for clients to come to you. Go out and get them!
Where to search for clients
There are many ways and places to search for clients to work with.
The first place you might want to look at is freelance writing job boards. There are many job boards where you can find freelance writing work.
My go-to job boards are:
Pro tips – The best practices for job boards is this; make sure you check job boards every day – morning and night and send proposals to jobs that interest you.
Other places to find freelance writing jobs are online business directories. Of course, there are many online business directories available, such as:
What is an Online Business Directory?
An online business directory is an online list of businesses that are listed within a particular niche, or category.
From the list of companies and businesses on the directory of your choice, select those in your niche that are using content marketing as part of their marketing strategy.
Access their websites and search for their email addresses and a contact person to send your pitch to.
There are other writers who are constantly writing articles for these companies to update their blogs.
Why not make yourself available by reaching out to them via emails?
That’s not all…
5: Take Advantage of Local Clients to Land Your First Writing Client
Are you taking advantage of local clients in your area? Searching for local clients is also a great way to score your first freelance writing job.
Visit your local newspaper and speak to the editor or the person in-charge about how you can help them with content creation.
Tell your friends, family members, and co-workers about your new career and ask for referrals.
Go to your local grocery store, businesses, etc, and ask if they would be interested to work with you as a content writer for their blog.
If they do not have a blog for their business, convince them to create one by helping them see the benefits of having a business blog.
What I love about searching your local area for clients is that, no-one is pitching them, or they might not even have a blog.
So reaching out to them in person and letting them see clearly how you can help them take their business to the next height with content writing will definitely increase your chances of being hired right there.
6: Take Advantage of Authority Websites to Land Your First Client
I so much love this method because it is hot! Yes, it is hot because the success rate surpasses any other strategy you can imagine.
In fact, at one point after successfully getting more clients with this step, I began using only this method.
Here’s how it works…
Visit authority websites and blogs in your industry and look up the author bio of the contributors to find those who are freelance writers.
If you find freelance writers who are contributing to the blog, then, you have a higher chance of being hired as well.
Make a list of the websites that are using freelance writers for content creation, and look up the contact details of the blog’s editor or blog owner and add them to your list.
When you’ve created a considerable list of blogs and email addresses, start sending your pitch to them immediately.
7: Use Seasoned Freelance Writers to Land Your First Writing Client
The easiest way to find websites that are using freelance writers for content writing is to search the portfolio profile of seasoned freelancers writers in your niche. Why?
Because they already have a long list of clients they have worked for, and clients they’re currently working with that you can take advantage of.
Therefore, visit their blogs and search for their portfolio pages.
Here’s what to do…
Make a list of top freelance writers you want to look up, then, go to Google and enter the name of each freelance writer on the search bar to see what pops up.
Google will show you their personal websites and other relevant information.
Access each site and look for the freelancer’s “portfolio” page.
However, often, some freelance writers might not use the word “portfolio” for the portfolio page. They might use word variations such as;
- My Projects
- Business Writing
- Writing Clients
- Clients Work
So if you can’t find a portfolio page name on a website, look up word variations as listed above.
For example, Instead of portfolio, Carol Tice’s used “Business Writing” for her portfolio name.
So look up similar names if you can’t find a portfolio name on their website.
As you can see in the screenshot, her list has more than enough clients you can leverage and get your feet on the ground.
8: Use Contently & LinkedIn to Score Your First Writing Client
Contently is an incredible marketplace for freelancers to showcase their work and attract new clients.
As a result, you may want to go to Contently and search for the portfolio profiles of freelance writers on you list, because in rare cases, some of them might not have a portfolio page on their personal website, but they might have one on Contently.
Here’s how to search for freelance portfolio on Contently.
Enter the writer’s name + Contently. For example, if you want to search for Elna Cain, here how to do it; enter Elnacain.contently.com in the search bar.
You will be directed to Google. See screenshot below.
In fact, Google will expand on your search and show other freelance writers as well.
From the Google result page, you can see that Google also brought up Sharon Hurley Hall’s Contently portfolio profile.
From the profiles above you can see the list of clients they have worked for. Elna has 128 completed projects for 17, and Sharon has over 600 projects for 70 clients.
These are potential clients who can pay you to write for them as well.
Thus, make a list of these websites and get the contact information of their editors or contact person and send them your pitch.
What you should have in mind is that, if a site owner is paying other freelance writers to create content for his blog, the is a higher chance that he will hire you as well.
As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn provides users (smart freelance writers) a section to create a portfolio of their work and showcase their ability.
So, in a similar way, as in the processes right above, take advantage of LinkedIn to find your first freelance writing client to work with.
Let’s say Elna Cain is on your list of freelance writers you’re researching to find clients she has worked with.
Head over to LinkedIn and enter her name in the search box.
When you find her profile, scroll down her profile to find the “Experience” section.
The LinkedIn “Experience” section is where smart freelancer writer are using to create a portfolio of their work as discussed earlier.
But for some reason, if you can’t find her freelance work portfolio there, then, look under her company name tab, and the summary section of her profile.
Scroll to the bottom to find her projects for clients.
What you should do next…
Make a list of her clients, then, visit their website to find email addresses of the editor, content manager, or blog owner.
When you have all the necessary information in place, start sending out your pitch.
This strategy works amazingly great because those clients are interested in working with freelance writers, which makes you a potential material to work with.
*Important* Not all freelance writers have a portfolio space on LinkedIn and Contently, including many seasoned freelance writers.
So, if you can’t find a freelancer’s portfolio on LinkedIn and Contently, search through other channels as well.
9: Write An Irresistible Pitch
What should you do next, after collecting email addresses of editors and content managers and putting together a list of potential clients to work with?
Of course, you have to start sending out your pitch.
Writing a compelling freelance writing pitch is actually an entire subject or topic on its own, but for the sake of this article, let’s talk about it a little.
In everything you do where other people are involve, first impression is crucial to your building a sustainable bond with them.
Thus, when sending out your email pitch to potential clients, make sure your pitch is well crafted.
It must have all the important components that will move prospects to hire you right away.
Here’s what you should do…
- Make your pitch personal by using recipient’s name.
- Mention their blog or website, and highlight an article on his blog and social media profile that interests you, especially their most recent post.
- Make your pitch visually appealing so that they will have no choice but to hire you.
- Let recipients feel your expertise, the height of your writing skills, and knowledge in your pitch.
- Add links to samples of your most recent work
- Let prospects know that you have done your homework.
That way, they have no option but to acknowledge that you will add value to their readers and customers with your writing skills.
*Important* Clients want to know that you are the right person for the job.
They want to know that you have worked on a similar project, and the best way to make it happen is to craft a compelling pitch and show them samples of your work that you’re so proud of.
10: Use Follow Up Emails to Land Your First Freelance Writing job
Sending follow-up emails to prospective clients is important, because it is more like a wake up call, saying… hellooow, I’m still waiting for your response.
But when writing a follow-up email, you don’t want to sound pushy and irritating to clients. Annoying them is a red flag you don’t want to receive.
What can you do in this regard?
If you send out a pitch or proposal and don’t hear from the prospect after a week, go back and send him a friendly follow-up email to show that you’re truly interested in the job.
As mentioned, wait after about a week before sending your follow-up email.
Your follow-up email could be something like this:
Hi (prospect’s name),
I’m just following up on the email I sent you last week to see if I can help with your content needs. I would love to set up a call if you’re open to calls so we can discuss further, or we can discuss about it via this medium when you’re available.
Let me know your thoughts, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
This is a simple follow-up email you can send to clients.
I know what you’re thinking… yes, you can copy the template and use it, or better still edit it as desired.
Using the phrase “when you’re available” in your follow-up email indicates that you’re not desperate for the job, (even though you might be) but that you’re available when your prospect see fit to contact you.
It also shows that you’re organized and flexible to work with..
*Important* Notice the qualities you exhibited in your follow-up email:
These are top qualities every freelance writer must have. Clients love it when you have them.
Wrapping It Up
Here you have it. Top 10 tips that will help you impress prospective clients and land your very first freelance writing client.
It’s not a rocket science program, but a consistent little effort on your part that will open doors for you and pay off at the end of the day.
Make sure to respond to emails on time in a friendly way, and personal. Ask important questions to get clear of their requirements.
Tell us in the comments section, what tips have worked well for you?