Ever wonder what smart freelancers are doing when it comes to writing for money?
I did. I thought about it a lot when I was working in retail.
You know, minimum wage, run the cashier, stock shelves, talk to customers. Same shift, different day.
When I finally decided to quit, I thought I had freelancing figured out.
But it didn’t take long to realize I couldn’t keep going without good pay from writing for money to cover my bills.
I expected an immediate, steady income. I’d heard some really great stories about successful writers and thought I could be one of them.
So imagine my surprise when the new clients I desperately needed didn’t magically appear at my door with handfuls of cash.
It was frustrating. And I knew I had to do something about it if I wanted to stick with freelancing.
Frustrated with your efforts to find freelance writing jobs? It’s a common problem that plagues a lot of writers who are in denial about what’s really happening.
You tell yourself you’re doing every kind of marketing your fertile imagination can come up with to get more clients.
Just in the last month, in fact, you:
- Sent a query letter
- Called a prospect
- Contacted a potential client on LinkedIn
- Sent a direct message to another one via Twitter
- Created a helpful email newsletter for people in the industry you’re targeting
- Had a coffee meeting with a local editor
And still…crickets in your inbox.
When you can’t seem to get freelance writing jobs…
You cry. You complain. You eat more ice cream and binge-watch YouTube videos. And you keep asking yourself: “Why do I suck at getting more clients?”
Need to find prospects that can turn into well-paying clients? Don’t we all. But too often, writers hit all the wrong places hoping to land a gig. You’re not likely to find good clients on job boards, content mills, Craigslist, and bidding sites. But that doesn’t mean they’re not out there.
In fact, if you use the right strategy, you can tap into a massive list of potential prospects in your niche using LinkedIn Premium. (Is LinkedIn Premium worth it? I’ll explain.) But I didn’t know that when I got serious about freelancing. I used to troll job boards and send LOIs to people I wasn’t always sure were the decision makers. I had some success with this approach. But I struggled to find the right clients. Sound familiar?
I needed a better way to zero-in on my niche (FinTech), find the right people to pitch and land better-paying clients. But how? I stumbled across the answer when I signed up for Lynda.com. And by chance, I scored a one-year subscription to LinkedIn Premium along with it (LinkedIn Premium now costs $29.99 to $79.99 a month).
I had heard plenty of buzz about LinkedIn Premium. But I was on the fence. I had the same question as a lot of freelancers, is LinkedIn Premium worth it? With a free subscription, I decided to jump in and see what I could do with it to grow my freelancing business. It didn’t take long to get results. I found a $1/word client and developed a strategy to use LinkedIn to move up and earn more. Here’s how I did it:
The biggest problem I faced as a new freelance writer was wondering when I’d ever feel ready to make the leap to marketing myself effectively, and getting that first freelance writing gig.
I took me some time to realize that I’d never feel 100 percent ready. But if I wanted to make real progress, I’d have to start taking consistent action to find that first client.
Sometimes we just need a shot of inspiration to send us down the right path, and mine came from Bamidele Onibalusi’s recent Earn Your First $1000 as a Freelance Writer challenge.
My strategy and email template are adapted from his articles, and used here with his permission.
Here’s what I did:
Do you regularly scan job boards looking for online writing jobs, but only find low-paying gigs? If so, you might need to get a little choosier about where you look.
If your typical rates are above what the listings offer, it may be time to stop checking the job boards altogether. In general, you’ll do better with proactive prospecting to find your own clients, rather than applying to mass-online-job ads where you compete with hundreds of writers.
But if checking online job ads is still a part of your regular marketing routine, at least be an educated freelancer and target boards that are the best fit for you. We interviewed site owners and researched listings to bring you this inside look at what’s available on 17 top boards:
Fresh out of college, with no real world experience and no real job prospects, I dove into Textbroker in 2013, lured by the appeal of easy money.
Over the next three years, I slaved for 1.4 cents per word. Even though I was done with school, I was still living the life of a starving college student. Did you know it takes 7,143 words at that rate to make $100?
That’s hard to swallow now that I know it’s possible to make a lot more money from freelancing. If you’ve been writing for traditional-low-pay-race-to-the-bottom content mills, it’s time to rethink your approach to building a freelance business.
I couldn’t maintain such a grueling writing pace for bare bones rations. I wanted satisfying work. I wanted better clients. And I wanted to get paid well. I finally woke up and realized that low-pay work for content mills will never yield pro rates.
I put five key strategies in place to transform my freelancing business. The result: Bye-bye, content mills. Hello, better pay and better clients — including a major TV network within two months. Here’s how I did it: