For freelance writers there is nothing more valuable than a good, consistent client. While many of us struggle to get people to hire us for ‘one-off’ jobs where we write one or two articles, and then don’t get any more work for months (or ever), it is much better to try to find clients that will have you write for them on a regular basis. When you’re looking for clients like this, you need to focus your marketing where the money is.
Businesses have marketing budgets available to them, so it is often possible to be hired to write a set number of posts for their newsletter, blog or website each month. Another big benefit to working directly for businesses is that they are typically able to pay a good rate. With a little work, a good freelance writer can get 10-15 businesses to hire them for 3-5 ‘pieces’ each month at about $.05-.10 per word, and make a great income. The trick is to know how to get these businesses to hire you. The following five tips will help you along the way.
- Understand the Business
Before you even open up your email to send a prospective business an introductory message, make sure you know the business they are in. Learning about the ‘pain points’ of a business, and knowing how you can help them overcome them will give you a great advantage. If you want to write for a dentist’s office, for example, learn the terminology they use, where they might get customers and other related topics.
When marketing yourself, it is often wise to focus on one industry at a time. You can learn about dental offices, and then send out introductory emails to dozens of dentists from across the country. If you can land just a couple of them, it will be well worth your time. You then move to another industry segment and repeat the process.
- Be a Business
Unlike working for unknown private clients online, you are attempting to write for established, legitimate businesses. With that in mind, you need to act more like a traditional business than you’re used to. For example, performing the work up front and getting paid afterword is acceptable when working in this way. This can eliminate the risk that your client may be worried about, and allow you to land some excellent, long term clients. Of course, you don’t want to do too much work without getting paid, but a week’s worth is generally an acceptable risk.
In addition, having your own business name is very important. Establishing an LLC or other legal business entity is also a great idea. It can help with marketing, and is also essential for managing your taxes.
- Use Standard Communication Options (the phone)
Companies will often want to contact you for things like press releases, news stories and other writing, in addition to the normal work they have you writing. You should provide business contacts with as many ways to contact you as possible. While you might be used to communicating exclusively through Skype or other digital options, you should provide these clients with your phone number. This will make them much more comfortable working with you.
- Be a Business Partner
In many cases businesses don’t really understand what a freelance writer can do for them. In this respect, you need to explain what you can do for them and how it will be beneficial. Explaining, for example, how having an active blog can improve their rankings with the search engines so their website gets more traffic, will show them why this is a great investment. Have high quality studies or statistics about how web traffic can help businesses available for proof.
Also, don’t be afraid to give recommendations to clients (and potential clients). Showing them that you have a genuine interest in their success will show them that you are a true partner, and not just a ‘fly by night’ freelancer.
- Have Many Budget Options
While most businesses do have marketing budgets, they can also be resistant to spending money on things they don’t understand. Giving businesses several options regarding the services and price points you offer will help ensure every business can afford your services. If you can land a new client at even the lowest paying level, you can slowly build them up over time as they begin to see the value and return on investment from your services.
One last bonus tip is to keep in mind that this is largely a numbers game. Many businesses will completely ignore your message, and many others will decide that they don’t need a freelance writer. If you can land even a small percentage of perspective clients, however, it can lead to long term success at a level you likely would never have dreamed of.