Following on from my previous blog post, I received a couple of emails asking how I find my clients as a freelance writer.
Here's a culmination of those emails, offering a little advice for those trying to expand their client base. While I do not profess to be an expert, this is what has worked for me.
1. Reconnect with old contacts
My first step when I "properly" set up as a freelance writer was to contact old colleagues to tell them about my new venture. I had previously worked as a software developer and scientific researcher, so there were a few people that fitted my target market. But I only contacted those individuals that I believed may want to work with me.
Contact old colleagues but remember no one likes spammy, self-promotional emails. Keep it short and keep it friendly.
2. Consider Upwork and Copify
I know such third-party sites connecting freelancers with those eager to pay for their services court controversy, but Copify and, more recently, Upwork are two that have worked for me.
Copify is a great source for extra pocket money but it only pays around 2p per word on average (sometimes 1p and sometimes higher if you gain professional writer status or are contacted directly for a job). If you've got a spare hour, it's a great way to get a little extra money but it's not a viable option as your only income stream.
Upwork, on the other hand, has connected me with some very interesting work for high profile clients that are willing to pay for a high-quality service. I only work with those clients that contact me directly and haven't used the bidding system, but it's been a surprising hit. I've only been using the site for a few weeks but I'll keep you posted as to whether it's a continued success.
3. Hustle, but don't be a hustler
I'm not a salesperson. The idea of cold calling to pitch for new work fills me with dread. Plus, it's really not my style.
I do gently promote myself to interviewees and other professionals I come into contact with by, for example, adding a simple line to emails along the lines of "I'm the freelance writer who gets tech, if you'd be interested in finding out more about my services, please drop me a line".
4. Love LinkedIn and Twitter
In a world where everyone seems to be shouting about social media marketing, does it actually work? For me, LinkedIn and Twitter have been two excellent client sources - but I haven't spent a penny on advertising.
LinkedIn is a pull environment, where potential clients seem to find me. It's a no brainer but make sure your profile is up-to-date, ask clients for testimonials and (of course) write a heap of LinkedIn articles offering advice and subtly promoting your wares.
Twitter is more of a push environment. If someone follows me that I'd like to work with, I'll send them a PM and start a conversation. Again, it's not my style to go in for the hard kill but striking up a conversation seems to work for me.
What about Facebook?
I do have a Facebook page but it's more a resource for friends who want to find out more about my work. As yet, it's not brought a single client my way.
5. Be your very best
Word of mouth is my biggest source of business. Whenever I'm working, I treat every phone call, interview and meeting with complete professionalism. This has led a handful of interviewees to become clients because they were impressed with my work, for example.
That's not all...
I do not treat my deadlines as goals, but try to submit ahead of schedule. This helps my editors and, if an article is more tricky to write than I estimated, I've got a safety net should things take longer than expected.
I hope you've found this post useful, it's by no means an exhaustive list - just a snapshot on what has and has not worked for me in my first year working as a full-time freelance writer. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Hello. I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology
And I explain science with Lego in Sunday Science.
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