Right from the very start of my freelance writing business I've always had plenty of work. I guess I'm lucky that I had a mentor who showed me how to find good-quality clients and how to encourage clients to keep ordering more work from me.
I wrote an earlier post giving a vague idea of how to find freelance work (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/03/finding-freelance-writing-work.html) but I still get a lot of emails asking me to be more specific.
It occurred to me that there are a lot of freelancers out there that don't have this same benefit. Many writers struggle to find new work. They can't seem to find the good clients that pay well and on time. They wonder how to find ways to source more work to keep their income high enough without having to give in to the pathetic slave-labor writing sites.
So I figured I'd list down some of the things I've done over the course of my freelance career to source new clients and new work.
Always remember - you're running YOUR freelance business, so you're free to choose what works for you and what doesn't. There are more tips about finding clients here:
Here we go...
1. Website or Blog
This would have to be the number one way to attract new clients. Without a website, how will clients know what you do and who you are? You can include a list of your services and specialty topics. It's up to you if you want to include your list of fees or not.
Your freelance website should include a bio and some sample writing so clients can get an idea of your style. Include a portfolio of published work to date (hint: work self-published on Associated Content or Helium is NOT a professional portfolio. See my previous post about creating a professional portfolio).
If people don't know what you do, how can they hire you? Do you have business cards? Are you promoting your website for people to find? Where have you told the world that you are a "Freelance Writer For Hire"?
I'm a member of several community sites where webmasters and article marketers hang out. I never beg for work. I simply have my services listed in my signature line. If people are interested they'll send me a PM (private message) or they'll find my email address in the right hand column of this blog and shoot me an email. I give out my business card everywhere I go. I tell people what I do and I've learned they often tell others that they know a writer who might be able to help. Networking can be a valuable tool.
3. Offer Your Services
When I was still in the creation stage of my freelance business, I decided I wanted to break my working day into sections. I enjoy SEO writing, but I also enjoy the research involved in magazine feature articles. Web-writing and article writing are quick and easy and not too difficult. Writing fiction is pure joy. What parts do you enjoy?
When you know what you enjoy most about writing, take a moment to craft a letter of proposal to a few potential clients. I wrote to magazine editors, owners of SEO companies, web-developers and article marketers. I got a lot of rejections - but I also got quite a lot of assignments and permanent clients from this one tactic.
One of the biggest sources of new work for me is referrals from existing clients. The vast majority of my freelance clients are either article marketers or SEO consultants. They tend to hang out in networks, communities or forums with other article marketers or SEO consultants.
In a previous post I highlighted some of the things I do to make sure my clients keep coming back to me. I've had clients go away in search of freelance writers with cheap fees, but they always come back.
5. Job Boards
Scouring the freelance job boards can sometimes lead to good assignments and great contacts with potential new clients. I've listed several great job boards in previous posts and I use them regularly to keep my work-load constant. I've also listed several job boards and opportunities to avoid so you don't end up wasting your time.
6. Repeat Business
Repeat business from existing clients is easily my biggest source of freelance writing work. I'm constantly amazed by stories of freelance writers who complete an assignment and then never hear from that client again.
When you finish an assignment, thank the client for trusting you with their content/article/blog post/whatever. In your thank you letter, let them know you'd be happy to work with anything else they need in future and tell them to contact you if they are thinking of other assignments in future. This simple courtesy can often let them know you want to work with them further.
Sometimes clients lose your contact details. Tactful contact with clients can sometimes remind them of your services, refresh your contact details for them and prompt a fresh order from them.
7. Bid Sites
I'm not a fan of bidding sites like Guru.com or freelancewriting.com . These sites seem to be inundated with people willing to undercut on bids to try and be the cheapest bid. I won't work for pennies, so I won't go chasing clients who only want to pay pennies.
However, if you're really stuck for freelance work, then at least bidding sites can give you an opportunity to meet potential new clients.
Where is it written in any rule-book that you only have to write articles online to be a freelancer? What's wrong with writing for magazines? What's wrong with writing fiction? What's wrong with writing ebooks or blogs or songs or poems or jokes?
Diversify your portfolio. Not only does it make your working day a little more fun, but you break into wider markets at the same time.
9. Create Your Own Market
I'm still learning how this phase works and I've had some success so far, but I've seen my mentor (hi Lee!) generate her own writing markets so that she can bring clients directly to her and create sales where there were none before.
This means she writes ebooks and generates sales from her websites (she has 10! Where does she find the time to write as well? Want to see what she deals with every day on top of her writing assignments? http://www.fictionfactor.com/sites.html) Aside from writing ebooks, she writes all the content for her own sites. She writes courses and lesson guides. She writes ezines.
One of her other self-made writing markets, PLR articles, is explained here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2008/12/profiting-from-plr-articles.html
The point of creating your own market is that you don't need to be constantly searching for new clients to give you paid writing assignments. This is because you're generating income from your writing activities via other avenues.
10. Ask Other Freelancers
How many freelance communities or forums or networks are you involved in? I try to spend a little time with some of the bigger communities wherever I can because the tips and tricks you learn from the professional writers can be invaluable.
I hope this post has helped you to find a few more writing clients. Good luck :)