Ah, the life of freelance writers. Work from anywhere, crank out a few high-quality assignments in the morning and spend the rest of the day sipping coffee and working on your novel. A real dream job.
Not exactly. Or at least, not usually. Usually, it’s more like spending the morning hunting for work, then spending the rest of the day sipping coffee and…hunting for more work. Over half (57%) of freelance writers list difficulty finding new clients as one of their top struggles.
The life of a freelancer can be a real feast or famine. Sara Horowitz of Freelancers Union says:
“You can think of freelancing as volatile and risky or as flexible and opportunity-rich.”
So which is it going to be for you?
At nDash, we work with, in our opinion, some of the best freelancers in the industry who help us deliver content marketing to some of the best clients in a variety of industries (we’re just sucking up to everyone today). This gives us some insight into the struggles freelance writers go through, the criteria great clients have for evaluating writers, and the best way to connect the two.
Not surprisingly, companies have as hard a time finding reliable writers as freelancers have of finding consistent work. According to Aberdeen Research, 41% of companies struggle with finding independent contractors with the specific skill sets they need.
Based on our content marketing agency experience and input from our content community, here are 5 ways we’ve found freelancers can be successful in finding work with the best clients.
Power Up Your Portfolio
For freelance writers, the proof is really in the pudding. If you don’t have an online portfolio of your work, get one immediately.
Once you do, don’t just let it sit there. You should constantly be updating your portfolio to keep it relevant and interesting. No technology client is going to be impressed with articles written 5 years ago; they want to know you are experienced and knowledgeable in current industry trends.
You should also consider maintaining a regular blog that includes more than just musing about the struggles of writing but contains actual articles related to the fields you’re searching for work in.
Boost Your Network of Freelancers
Networking with potential clients is an important and valuable way to find new clients, but don’t discount networking with your fellow freelance writers. Despite the fact that all freelancers seem to struggle to find work, there really is enough to go around. There’s also the fact that the top sourcing channel for freelance writers was referrals from other independent contractors, according to 38% of companies.
Once you get the interest or just the contact info of a potential customer, don’t make it easy for them to throw your email away by sending them the same old boring resume and portfolio link. Pique their interest by sending a pitch for content specific to their company and industry.
This demonstrates subject expertise and creativity that your experience and past work simply cannot. It also gives them something they can immediately take action on. Rather than the abstract idea of offering you work “somewhere down the line.”
Even for clients you already work with, send them pitches regularly. This makes it a much simpler decision of who to send work to – the one who pesters them with “checking-in” emails or the one who has an idea and is ready to run with it.
Use Social Media
This one seems a bit obvious and overstated, but it’s true. Social media can help you find your clients. More importantly, social media can help you establish yourself as an authority. When a potential client Googles you, what do you want them to find?
The most important social network for freelance writers is LinkedIn. Make sure your profile is completely up to date and that you have as many recommendations as possible. If you are following my advice from earlier and blogging, publish these blogs on LinkedIn as well. This activity will attract new customers while also creating an easy-to-find portfolio of work.
Make it a Daily Effort
Despite the majority of freelancers saying they’re struggling to find new clients, only 43% are actively searching for clients every day. Freelance writing is a business that you need to constantly work at to be successful. Put effort into the four strategies above every day, and you will see success.