You've decided to try your hand at freelance writing, and now you're left with one major question: How do you go about finding clients?
By and far, this is the inquiry I receive most often from people who are hoping to cut it as freelancers. And, I get it -- knowing just how to land writing gigs (particularly paid ones!) can take some know-how and finesse.
Fortunately, you don't need to resign yourself to a life spent waiting for freelance clients to bang down your door (trust me, you'll be waiting a while).
Instead, use these four different methods (that I've actually used myself!) for finding writing clients.
1. Scouring Job Boards
In any normal job search, you'd pore over job listings until you were cross-eyed. While freelancing might be considered a less-traditional career path, you can still apply a similar approach to finding clients.
You can start by visiting a site dedicated to freelance writing work (personally, I love ProBlogger) to see if there are any suitable open positions there.
But, don't count the mainstream sites out either. You can head over to any of the big job search platforms you're used to using -- just make sure to include "freelance" as a keyword in your search.
Social media can be another great resource for finding people and businesses who are hiring freelancers with your talents. I've found plenty of gigs by searching posted jobs on LinkedIn and even digging through relevant hashtags on Twitter.
Did you just roll your eyes at the first site of the word "networking"? I can't blame you. But, love it or hate it, it can be an incredibly powerful tool when attempting to build up your freelance client base.
Start by putting some feelers out to your existing network. Let them know that you've started freelancing, explain the services and skills you offer, and then ask if they'd be willing to refer you if and when the opportunity arises. You never know who the people in your network are connected to.
You can also start to proactively build relationships with people and brands that you might be interested in eventually working with. Connect with that editor on LinkedIn or send a friendly tweet to that publication you love. Just the simple act of building up some name recognition can go a long way!
3. Cold Pitching
Without a doubt, cold pitching is the strategy I used to land the majority of the freelance gigs I've ever done. It took some time (and some embarrassing trial and error) to settle on an approach that worked. But, once I did, I experienced some great results.
The first thing you need in order to be successful with cold pitching is research. It's imperative to understand the publication or brand you're pitching to. What type of content do they create? What topics do they cover? What don't they cover? What type of audience are they speaking to? You should also research the best point of contact to reach out to with your pitch.
When you have all of that sorted out, get in touch with a brief email. In your message, explain who you are, touch on what experience you bring to the table, and then share your content idea. It doesn't need to be anything complex -- a headline and a few sentences describing the angle will do.
Then, play the waiting game. If you don't hear anything after two weeks, feel free to follow-up -- but only once. If you're still waiting for a response after that? It likely means they weren't interested and you can pitch that idea elsewhere.
I know I said that it's unlikely that clients will come banging down your door while begging to work with you. But, that doesn't mean you can't put some measures in place to help them find you -- rather than you always finding them.
That's precisely why this step involves branding and marketing yourself in a way that makes it easy for potential clients to discover you.
Put together a website or online writing portfolio where interested people can view your work and get in touch. Rebrand your social accounts (particularly Twitter and LinkedIn) to mention that you're a freelance writer. Not only does that reinforce your professional brand, but it will also mean that you'll turn up in searches.
You might not have prospective clients getting in touch daily. But, every now and then somebody will discover you and reach out. And, when you're just getting started, every little bit helps.
Finding clients is one of the biggest challenges new freelance writers need to overcome. Fortunately, it's not impossible. Put these four different strategies into action, and you're that much more likely to have some work in the pipeline.