How I Found My First Freelance Writing Client — on Facebook

Woman using tablet computer social mediaI proudly hung my digital shingle out last year, hoping to magically turn my love of writing and editing into a full-time freelance career.

Sadly, my expectations didn’t meet the reality. I worked exclusively for family and friends the first six months, and pay was underwhelming.

I dreamed of expanding my business and finding clients on my own — but I was clueless about how to market myself.

Then I got a great break on social media, and found my first legit freelance client. Here’s how:

 

Connect with people, not just prospects

One of the best online resources I use is a private Facebook group, for fans of a female entrepreneur’s podcast. I post in there every few days. I especially love Motivation Mondays, when we share the upcoming week’s goal.

One week, I offhandedly mentioned my goal was to edit the draft of an e-book I wrote to sell on Amazon. A fellow boardie asked if I ghostwrote e-books. I had done a couple pieces, so I responded, “yes.”

What happened in my Facebook message app over the next two hours was a crash course in working with freelance clients.

Naturally, the potential client asked to see a writing sample, and I momentarily panicked. Despite all my study on freelancing, I didn’t have a portfolio with any clips.

I did, however, have a snappy chapter of my e-book to send her. She liked what she read, briefed me on her project, and asked what I charged.

Then, she asked me to name a price. This was another snag, because my clients had always set the price. I used The Writer’s Market’s “How Much Should I Charge?” guide to confidently set a rate that worked for me and was within my new client’s budget ($25 an hour, which is a higher wage than my 9-to-5 job).

That first ghostwriting gig was a blast. My client was thrilled, and posted a glowing review on the Facebook page.

Be open to clients everywhere

I’m so grateful for that experience, and the lessons I was able to take away from one little freelance gig. Here are four tips you can use to find clients on social media:

  1. Project your best self online. I never realized what low-hanging fruit there is on my social media accounts. I’m mindful now to be polite and positive — and genuine — when I post, because I never know when I’ll find a new prospective client.
  2. Evaluate your own circles. Even though we’re all entrepreneurs, I never thought I’d do business with anyone on that Facebook fan page. What pages do you like or post to? Have you built up any relationships that could turn into job prospects? Be sure these ‘friends’ know you’re a freelance writer.
  3. Get in the fray. My biggest marketing hurdle was to get outside my head and start looking. I now have prices listed on my website, and I offer writing packages. I’m almost finished assembling clips that I can post on my website, or easily send to potential clients. I still read voraciously about freelancing, but I know networking is even more important.
  4. Leverage positive momentum. Because of my client’s awesome review, several other boardies have asked for price quotes. In our community of 250+ entrepreneurs, I’m now the go-to girl for writing and editing.

Have you gotten gigs from your social media contacts? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Annie Kontor is a freelance writer, editor, and translator at Indigo Prairie Writing Services. Connect with her on Twitter.

 

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42 comments on “How I Found My First Freelance Writing Client — on Facebook
  1. Very inspiring post, it’s funny because I was just thinking about finding clients on Facebook. I didn’t technically find a client on Facebook yet, but when I joined a few groups, and indirectly mentioned that I work as a freelance writer, I got a few messages. But for some reason the people who messaged me just stopped replying all together so not sure what that means. Anyways, thanks for the remind to keep an eye out for clients everywhere.
    Timothy Gagnon: Freelance Writer recently posted…Nobody is Replying to Your Job Applications on Upwork and Here’s Why…My Profile

    • Annie says:

      Hi Timothy! Have you followed up with the folks who left you messages? I get inquiries from boardies and they vanish, too. The ones who do reply to my follow ups have the gamut of reasons: I’m too expensive, their project isn’t ready, etc. But that’s ok. Showing yourself to be friendly & flexible goes a LONG way to building positive rapport the good (but shy tire kickers) remember long after 🙂

  2. This is very interesting, thanks for sharing — I’ve just started taking groups on LinkedIn more seriously, and clearly I need to do the same on Facebook!

    • Annie says:

      Great point about LinkedIn, Emily! I was always told to take the social media platform you are most comfortable in & work it (in my case, FB). LinkedIn is definitely next in my list!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I found this fascinating — I’ve really only used Facebook chat for personal stuff…but this isn’t the only story I’ve heard of people finding clients through chatting up FB friends. I think the groups are worth exploring!

  3. Patricia says:

    Thanks for reminding me of the importance of networking. 🙂
    Patricia recently posted…Exercises for the office (Part one)My Profile

    • Annie says:

      Patricia I was so not a networker by nature but this experience has helped me get over myself and just talk to people online. Most people on these specialized forums are very nice & don’t bite 🙂

  4. Are you worried that posting prices will lock you into rates that some clients were willing to exceed?

    • Annie says:

      Hi Charlene,
      Yes that is definitely a concern. I am in the process of reconfiguring my website and the prices I currently have on there will be the first thing to go. I’ve had some business coaching since I wrote this & I now see the logic of not posting prices.

      • Carol Tice says:

        I was going to say something about that…but glad you’ve gotten more input on that.

        The only situation where I’ve seen posting rates work well is people who find they’re getting a lot of nibbles from bottom-feeders and it’s wasting their time…they post some minimum rates, and that seems to help.

        Other than that, I think pricing is a conversation you want to have live with the client — you don’t want them to see a rate and then leave, or to have to give them a rate that’s too low for their situation, because you said that was your rate on your website.

      • Karen Eidson says:

        I think if you are posting prices at all, you should say something like “starting at $xxx”. That way you can charge more, but it would weed out cheapskates.
        Karen Eidson recently posted…My Garden This MorningMy Profile

  5. Dyan Fox says:

    As usual, another great and informative article. I just got my first client on Facebook, and from my personal page to boot. I sent a message to my friends telling them I’d started a freelance writing business and someone I used to work with immediately messaged me. He owns TWO e-commerce sites that need work and I never even knew about his businesses. Talk about luck…

  6. Victoria says:

    This is a great post. I have actually landed quite a few clients from Twitter and Reddit. I have not had luck with Facebook yet but there is hope.
    Victoria recently posted…CustomInk’s Family Reunion Contest (Ends 6/25)My Profile

  7. David Throop says:

    Thanks for the post. I hadn’t thought about how Facebook can be more than just a passive, voyeuristic social media platform. I’m in a few groups but just like to watch the discussions but after reading your post I know I’ll need to be more engaged.

    I’m building a new blog and writing a couple ebooks, and am looking for the best platform to engage a readership, but unsure how it may, or may not, convert for fiction.

    How do you think you can leverage social networking for fiction writing and self- publishing?
    David Throop recently posted…Kindle Publishing Tip: How To Conquer Overthinking And Become More ProductiveMy Profile

  8. Vicky Cox says:

    I like this advice. I recently compiled a list of FaceBook groups I belong to that I thought I should check in with daily, but haven’t started that habit. Starting today I will be more intentional about my time on social media and get that list out to check.

  9. I was asked by an editor of a magazine website on which I often post if I was interested in writing a monthly column about local birds. I messaged her I was very interested and to send me more information. In the meantime, another writer saw the post and sent his credentials to her. I found out when the next issue came out and saw his column. Needless to say, I don’t trust that editor any more.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m not sure why you find this editor untrustworthy, Charlene — it would be typical to reach out to several writers before deciding who to hire for the gig. It would have been classy for her to let you know before the column came out that she’d chosen another writer…but when you didn’t hear back, it must have been clear it wasn’t happening, right?

      Every nibble does not become a gig, in freelance writing. If we don’t count chickens before they hatch, then there’s less hard feelings and disappointment.

  10. Rob S says:

    Just goes to show you can get gigs anywhere. I reserve Facebook for social sharing, but am getting a little more active on LinkedIn. Not sure I’d want to spread myself too thin unless I had no clients. Then I might pull out the stops, but I think I’d focus on potential clients rather than hope for the best on social media.
    Rob S recently posted…How to get started at freelance writingMy Profile

  11. harish desai says:

    My family is very conservative and after they made me an engineer, they thought that I will earn a handsome pay package and rid them of their woes. However, when I was ill-treated by a corporate company for whom I worked very hard, I took to the path of freelancing. I have not built a network. Also, my old clients who gave me regular work during my earlier days in freelancing are no longer with me. I search for new clients everyday as I do not get clients offering me long-term work. Therefore, things become more difficult as each new client is difficult to please. Also, I have to write on many niches as I am not assured work in my own niche. That also makes my job very difficult. At times, I have contemplated leaving freelance writing. But something inside me tells me to continue.

  12. Lauren says:

    What awesome advice, thanks for this!

    I’m pretty new to freelancing and haven’t even considered using Facebook to net gigs. My profile doesn’t even say that I’m a freelance writer.. need to change that!

    It’s funny where and how we can find clients, sometimes. The other day, my chiropractor asked me to edit his book while he was adjusting my back!
    Lauren recently posted…Getting High on MountainsMy Profile

    • Annie says:

      LOL I tried to get my physical therapist to hire me to write copy for her updated website while she was toying with my ankle. I didn’t get hired, but no harm, no foul! The more you ask, the less shy you get about asking 😀

  13. Karen Briggs says:

    Way to go and congratulations! Thanks so much for sharing. You truly never do know where your opportunities will come from.

  14. Heather says:

    I SUPER like the resources you listed in this post! I’m finding that it’s a bit of a confusing path to freelance writing: do I submit to a magazine? Do I create a portfolio to attract specific clients? Do I get on Social Media and market the crap out of myself? Thank you for giving me some inspiration and insight into your (successful) experience! …and now I’m off to prepare some clips.
    Heather recently posted…Every Reason Travel is HealthyMy Profile

    • Annie says:

      Thanks Heather! I’m finding as a solopreneur you do have to do a little bit of everything. As I still have a day job, I devote one night every couple weeks to my website, another to my portfolio. But most time when I don’t have gigs is spent on marketing since that’s the lynchpin here 🙂

      • Carol Tice says:

        LOL…when I first started out in this, my business card read, “CEO and Janitor.” And it’s so true — being a solo business owner means you do it all.

  15. Jeremy says:

    I first got into freelance writing via friends I made on Twitter … social networks are incredibly powerful in this regard!
    Jeremy recently posted…Top 5 Resume Writing TipsMy Profile

  16. Vicky Poutas says:

    Great article. I never seriously thought about marketing myself on Facebook via groups, but now I see that I should have thought about that more carefully. I was only thinking of Facebook as a social gathering, but there are plenty of groups to join.
    Vicky Poutas recently posted…Pet Therapy: MagicMy Profile

  17. Annie says:

    Thanks Karen! It was a great experience for me & I hope others have similar luck. 🙂

  18. Zvidzayi says:

    Hi Annie
    i will definitively try that out too. i’m just starting out and sometimes i find myself overwhelmed.

  19. Heather says:

    Brilliant advice. I have never used Facebook groups in this way but I did win a client on Twitter. Essentially, I posted a link to a short survey (3 questions) on Twitter and the ‘prize’ was a free 15 minute consultation with me – related to the questionnaire. When I did the consultation with the winner, he then asked me there and then if I had any capacity to take him on as a client. Erm, yes! It started as a smallish project ($3k I think) and ended up being around $20,000 worth of work over the next 18 months. Funnily enough, someone asked me about it the other day, so I intend to write a blog post about exactly how I went about it.
    Heather recently posted…Developing a marketing plan for your freelance businessMy Profile

  20. shane watson says:

    What great advice, I always believe in the power of facebook groups. They are much open and you can find potential traffic plus clients from there.
    shane watson recently posted…Top Social Media Platforms For Businesses to Watch Out ForMy Profile

  21. Alvin Tims says:

    I’m actually highly anxious to get my first freelance writing client. The actual sales doesn’t make me nervous, bc that’s what I’m good at is sales. It’s more of the actual delivery of content.cit could be that I’m just mildly inept at writing, but I feel like my content won’t be up to snuff when it comes time for my client to cut a check. For some reason I think they’ll look it over then bail and all my efforts will be a wash. It could just be a fear I have for no reason, or is it?

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s a pretty common fear, Alvin. And it does happen, even to good writers, that what you turn in isn’t a fit.

      The secret to avoiding that is asking lots of questions of your client before you start writing, so you can deliver what they want.

  22. Sandeep says:

    Social networking site are most popular these days and the amount of users facebook have is great to build traffic and boost the potential.