Freelance writing is pretty easy if you have one thing — clients. Unlike running your own blog, with freelancing, all you do is write content for other people’s businesses.
Of course, there are other intricacies, but that’s the gist of it. Get a topic, do some research, write your content, edit, and on to the next piece.
After attempting nearly 10 different online businesses since 2017, I’m convinced that freelance writing is the best way to make consistent income with your words. While I love Medium, there are zero guarantees.
With freelancing, as long as you have clients, you can make money from home for the foreseeable future. Clients are the lifeblood of a freelance writing business.
While being a good writer is important, being a good freelancer is equally important. Yet, most writers struggle so much with landing gigs that they never get to reap the rewards of freelance writing.
In my three-plus years freelancing, I’ve worked with dozens of clients in several niches and created a six-figure writing business. If I can create a remote writing business with zero experience, I know you can too.
Here are my five biggest tips to help you land clients.
1. Personalize Pitches
Did you know that Nike almost landed Steph Curry as a client in 2013? In fact, he probably would’ve signed with them over Under Armour had they not made a critical error.
According to Business Insider, they were using cookie-cutter templates for their pitch and forgot to change the name from Kevin Durant to Steph Curry. He took this as an ultimate sign of disrespect and opted for their biggest competitor instead.
Don’t make the same crucial mistake when pitching freelance writing clients. While you aren’t likely pitching for millions of dollars like Nike was with Steph, they dropped the ball on an easy mistake (and I hope someone got fired for it).
But when you’re starting out freelancing, every dollar and client count. While I understand the urge to copy/paste templates when cold pitching, take the time to write personalized emails.
Each client that you pitch is different and deserves a unique approach when you reach out. Remember, you only get one first impression, so don’t accidentally screw it up by having the wrong blog or wrong name in the email like Nike.
Finally, make sure to keep your email pitch short and sweet — do not write a long email. I’ve found the longer the email, the lower the response rate.
Remember, people are busy so choose each word carefully. Don’t ramble on and wonder why you don’t get a response.
Here is a simple three-step format to follow for your pitches:
- Introduce yourself and complement their brand/website/social media/product, etc.
- Show off your expertise and link to writing samples or where you’ve been featured to build credibility.
- End with a question to elicit a response and start a conversation.
2. Create Epic Samples
Writing samples are the equivalent of a traditional resume in the 9–5, corporate world. You wouldn’t walk into a job interview that you really wanted with a copy/paste template — the same goes for freelance writing.
You need to create epic samples that you can show off to clients. Otherwise, how will they know they can trust you to write content for their brand?
To make the best samples, make sure they are niche-specific.
For example, when I started my quest as a golf writer, I didn’t send potential clients samples from when I was a personal finance writer. Think about it, if you were a client, you would be less than impressed with a piece about Roth IRA advice.
Instead, I created sample blog posts and emails that were all about golf. I researched sites I wanted to write for and competitors to get the flow, topics, and length of the posts. This showed that I went above and beyond, plus, that I am well versed in the topic.
Remember, potential clients want to work with niche writers, not generalists who have to do loads of research. They want to know you’re committed to your craft and knowledgeable about the industry.
Some other ways to make samples even better include:
- Hire an editor to proofread your work.
- Submit your samples to top websites as a free guest post.
- Add high-quality images from paid sites (like Deposit Photos).
- Hire a designer on Fiverr to make them look like a professional PDF.
3. Cold Pitch ASAP
I’m all for job boards, Upwork, and content mills to build some momentum when you’re just starting out. But I don’t suggest these methods for landing clients for the long-term — for a few reasons.
First, when you use a platform like Upwork, you have to share revenue with them for connecting you with the client. This ultimately cuts away at your bottom line and makes it harder to create a profitable online business.
Second, you can only find clients that list their projects on these sites. From my experience, a lot of clients don’t use them and instead, wait for people to outreach or use their network.
Once you’ve built some confidence in yourself and your abilities, start cold pitching as soon as possible.
Cold pitching will help you:
- Charge higher rates.
- Land higher-paying clients.
- Work with clients in your ideal niche.
- Build confidence in your ability to communicate yourself and your writing experience.
Cold pitching changed my business and found that once I started a line of communication with potential clients, my conversion rates increased exponentially.
Here’s how to get started cold pitching:
- Pick your niche (and declare yourself as a specific type of writer). For example, my niche is golf writing.
- Once you have your niche, research Google and social media to find your ideal clients.
- Then, create a Google sheet with a row for each prospect including website, social media handles, and contact information.
- If you can’t find contact information, use Hunter.io (a free Google Chrome extension), to help you find their name and email address.
- Finally, reach out to clients with your personalized pitch. Set a pitch goal each week and stick with it!
4. Follow Up Relentlessly
Aside from not pitching enough, the biggest mistake I see so many writers make is not following up. It’s astonishing how some writers spend so much time to try and find their clients but only send one email.
Newsflash, one email correspondence probably isn’t enough.
Think about it from a client’s standpoint. Out of nowhere, they get an email to their inbox from a writer they’ve never heard of in their life (assuming it even lands in their main inbox).
Maybe they’re looking for writers or maybe they aren’t. Either way, they have a busy life and business so replying to a stranger isn’t their highest priority. So they might respond, they might not.
But when you follow up a few times, you’ll likely start to grab their attention. You can do this by sending several emails, calling them, or messaging on social media.
Here is an example of how following up helped me land my favorite client.
When I started freelancing, I found a perfect job board post for a golf writing position. While I tried to not get attached to it, when I read the job requirements, it felt like it was made for me. So I sent my cold pitch email and hoped for the best.
A day went by… nothing. Another day… no response.
Then I said to myself, if I don’t get this job, I at least want to go down swinging. So I sent another email through the job site and then found his blog and hunted down a contact form (there was no email).
I sent a heartfelt pitch (for a total of three touchpoints in five days) and heard from him the next day. He loved my tenacity, could tell I was passionate about golf and enjoyed my niche specific samples.
Fast-forward to today and it’s been nearly three years of working together. I’ve published hundreds of posts and he’s been my most loyal client.
He later told me that had I not followed up that I probably wouldn’t have landed the gig. He also mentioned that 298 people applied and only a few of them followed up.
Show clients that you want the job by following up and not hoping that one email is enough. Remember, there’s a lot of competition, especially in certain niches, so do everything you can to stand out.
Other good strategies to show that you’re a committed writer include:
- Creating a writing website
- Having active social media accounts
- Sharing client testimonials on your writing website
- Having several types of writing samples for each niche
- Being featured in big publications (even as free guest posts) to build credibility
5. Believe In Yourself
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” — Gandhi
You might be thinking — really, believe in myself?
I know it sounds simple and slightly cliché but it’s true. If you don’t believe that you can land clients, chances are you won’t. We act from our belief system and if you don’t think you can succeed, you won’t act like it either.
Instead, you need to adopt a mindset that you can land clients.
At least give yourself a chance to succeed by thinking you can land clients. Then, when you start to make that belief part of your identity, you will act as a successful freelance writer.
With a lot of writers I work with, I find that many of them want to build a freelance business but are secretly terrified of success. Because here’s the thing, when you land clients, you can fail.
Pitching itself isn’t that scary as you never had the client in the first place — there’s no real skin in the game. But when you land clients, they can fire you and immediately cut off an income stream. When that happens, it can feel like the end of the world (trust me I’ve been there several times).
But at the same time, they can also work with you for years to come. The golf writing client I mentioned in the previous section is a perfect example.
We’ve collaborated for nearly three years and I’ve earned nearly $100,000 working together. Seriously, nearly six figures from cranking out blog posts week after week. We’ve done some other side projects like email campaigns but for the most part, I simply writing epic blog posts that rank high on Google.
I find that so many writers are always thinking about the worst-case scenario, instead of hoping for the best. When you believe you can land clients and that they will love working together, it seems to open up the possibility for them to enter your life.
Cultivate belief in yourself by:
- Adopting a mantra — I encourage my writing students to have something easy like I am a successful writer or I am a confident writer. Say it over and over again and through repetition, your subconscious mind will start to believe it’s possible.
- Doing what you say you’re going to do — if you say you’re going to pitch three people this week, pitch three people (or more). If you say you’re going to create four writing samples, create four samples or more. Stay in integrity with your word so you can act like a successful writer even before you are one.
- Imagining best-case scenarios — instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media to take a break during the day, get lost in your dreams. Imagine working with your ideal clients, getting paid every week, having more money and time than you know what to do with. Picture yourself being the successful writer that you’ve always wanted to be!
“Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind’s eye, and you will be drawn toward it.” — Napoleon Hill
Hopefully, these five tips will help you land clients as a freelance writer.
A few years ago I was a broke blogger living on savings and credit cards trying to figure it all out. Now, I make a full-time income working part-time hours thanks to freelancing.
Remember, you want to:
- Customize pitches — make sure each pitch is catered to the client and business you want to land (don’t be like Nike).
- Create niche specific samples — take the time to create 3–5 pieces for your ideal client to show you’re an expert in your industry.
- Cold pitch clients — use the process outlined above to start cold pitching ASAP to land higher-paying clients.
- Follow up relentlessly — don’t rely on email to try and get the job you want. Follow up to show your tenacious work ethic and give them a preview of what it’s like to work together.
- Believe it’s possible — finally, believe in yourself and your abilities to land clients.
Remember, you’re only one client away from changing your life and business forever.