Finding freelance writing clients and finding work. The two hardest things about being a freelancer.
The thing is, not many freelancers are willing to share exactly where they find their clients and how they manage to land them in the first place. They’re quick to offer lists of jobs boards, but that’s about it.
What about the finer details? How did the conversation go? What tests did they have to do? How did the client come to decide on them?
You have no idea how long I spent Googling “how to get writing clients” when I first started out – seriously, I spent more time RESEARCHING how to get freelance writing clients than actually working.
I see a lot of posts that look promising. That tell you which jobs boards to check out, which methods the writer uses to get work (pitching stories, getting referrals, Facebook groups), but that don’t really go into much more detail than that.
I mean, HOW do you write a pitch that sells? WHERE do you ask for referrals and how do you do it in a way that doesn’t sound desperate? WHAT Facebook groups are the best to find work in?
The who, what, where, why, and when behind the age-old question of how to get freelance writing clients is the stuff that usually goes unanswered.
Until today, dear writer friends. Until today.
Because I’m pulling back the curtains on where I found 4 of my current freelance writing clients, which will hopefully show you that there’s a diverse range of places to look if one particular avenue doesn’t seem to be working for you.
I’m not just going to tell you WHERE I found them, though. Oh no. I’m going to dig a little deeper and tell you the processes that I went through to land them. The conversations we had. How long it took me to start working for them. WHY they decided on me.
All the good, juicy, can’t-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-it details that most writers don’t divulge.
Let’s do this thang.
4 Current Freelance Writing Clients and How I Got Them
Client #1: An arts and travel operator
Method: Through blogging.
This client is someone I had been networking with through my other blog, Wanderarti.com. They’d shared a few of my posts, they followed the Wanderarti Facebook page, and they generally followed along in the growth of the site. At first, I thought they were just a reader.
Sidenote: Wanderarti.com was a bit of a phenomenon, because I somehow managed to grow it from 0 readers to 5,000 viewers per month in just 3 months and grew a SERIOUSLY engaged Facebook audience in next to no time at all (but that’s another story for another time – in fact, I’m working on a little workshop ALL about how to grow your blog and land writing clients through it).
This client saw all of this hoopla happen and, when the time was right, they reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in blogging for their site.
How it happened: They submitted an email through the contact form on my portfolio site, then we had a Skype call a couple of days later, then I submitted some blog post ideas (about 4 in total, I think), then we went full steam ahead!
I started working for them the week after the Skype call, and invoiced them for my first pay-check at the end of the month.
This was definitely one of the easiest client “on-boarding” processes I’ve dealt with so far.
Moral of the story: Anyone can be a potential client! Literally anyone, from that person you’re having a casual conversation with on Facebook, to the delivery guy in your local takeaway. Keep your eyes peeled and your client-sensors sharpened!
Further reading: How to Get Clients and Build Your Brand With a Badass Blog
Client #2: A travel storytelling site
Method: Through Indeed.co.uk
Living in the UK, I find it’s difficult to come across freelance writing jobs that DON’T need a US English writer (even though I can do that no problem), so I regularly check the UK version of jobs listing sites, like Indeed.co.uk, Craigslist etc.
I came across this particular brand and immediately felt like we’d be a good fit. I submitted a cover letter and a few of my writing samples and they got back to me to have a phone interview, which I thought went well.
But guess what?
They didn’t give me the job. They gave it to someone else. Needless to say, I was a tiny bit gutted. But I sent them a nice email saying thanks and that they knew where I was should they need any more writers in the future.
Roll forwards a few weeks, and I get an email from them saying they’d actually like to give me a go. I submitted five article ideas to them, which I wrote over a period of three months.
The result? They loved my writing and have given me a recurring, monthly gig.
Moral of the story: Even if you’re unsuccessful the first time, things might change later down the line, so be nice to potential clients at ALL times!
Client #3: A site that covers attractions in Barcelona
Method: Through Wanderful-World.com
In 2014, I lived just outside of Barcelona for about 9 months, so I was regularly blogging about the city and what to do there.
My posts, stories, and advice obviously got the attention of this particular client, because a “cold” email (as in, I’d never spoken to them before) landed in my inbox saying they loved my writing style and they were looking for someone to help them write quirky, witty articles about Barcelona – would I be interested?
This was my biggest recurring gig at this point (£800 a month), so I really threw myself into making great posts. A few months later, they asked me if I would help them market the site when it goes live (I have a background in marketing, so of course I said yes).
It took a while to get this one going, just because it’s a large project and there was a lot to get sorted before take off, but I started writing for them about a month after the initial contact, and then started invoicing at the end of that month.
Moral of the story: If you have skills in other areas, don’t just limit yourself to writing. I regularly offer social media marketing services to clients, too.
Client #4: A lifestyle, product-focused brand
Method: UpWork (would you believe it!)
I know a lot of writers are quick to slam UpWork, but hear me out. I often get invited to apply for low-grade jobs on there (I rarely actually search and apply for jobs there myself), but once in a while there’s a brand that seems like a good fit (and that pays well!).
This was one of those brands.
First off, they are based in the UK, which immediately piqued my interest. Secondly, I loved that they want to create fun, engaging posts for what could be seen as a bland and boring topic. Thirdly, they pay well (about £80 per post).
We had a few backwards and forwards emails so I could get a better understanding of their brand and what they wanted to do with the blog, and then I submitted a few ideas.
They loved them and I started writing for them the next week. I write 1 post a week for them, with one or two off-beat PR pieces as and when they come up.
Moral of the story: UpWork isn’t the spawn of the devil ALL the time.
Further reading: How It’s Possible to Make Money as a Travel Writer on Elance (or UpWork, as it’s called now).
I plan on opening the doors to my business a few times a year to show you how and where I got my best writing clients from and how you can do the same to land great, recurring gigs (so make sure you sign up below to get that juicy news!).
I know it’s not enough to just tell you which jobs boards to go and look at, or that you should be pitching brands, or using social media (because you KNOW that already, right?!).
Plenty of you have told me that you’re tired of seeing the same posts telling writers what they SHOULD be doing, but they don’t really dig much deeper than that.
Hopefully this gives you an insight into how I’ve landed some of my favourite clients of the moment, and shows you that freelance writing clients can come from ANYWHERE. Seriously, anywhere, anytime. They just pop up when you least expect them.
Were any of these methods unexpected to you? Do you have any more questions about how I landed these freelance writing clients? Ask away! I’m willing to share everything with you guys!
Are you ready?!
Ready to launch your life as a freelancer? Grab your starter pack, which includes a workbook, getting-started guide, and a list of 6 places you can start finding freelance work RIGHT NOW!