Last summer, I had zero clients.
I was sending tons of letters of introduction (LOIs) to prospects without receiving a single positive response. Now, I have a steady freelance income and a growing client base.
What changed? I shifted my approach.
Instead of focusing on why I wanted to work with my prospective freelance clients, I started focusing on how my experience could uniquely provide the three key things all clients want out of the freelance relationship.
Here are the three things I’ve discovered clients are looking for — and how I earn more by meeting these desires in my marketing and my client work:
One of my early clients liked sending me information about projects by email. After I wrote the first press release, she realized emailing me the information was as much work as writing the releases herself, and I lost the job.
I had failed to make her job easier.
Since then, I strive to make things easy for my clients. I show them how I can minimize the work they need to do — eliminating fears that bringing someone else into the project will create more work than it saves. One way I do this is to tell my clients about my plans for the project in detail before I begin the work. This way they are confident we share the same vision.
For example, before beginning a project, I like to outline my approach for the client including a brief overview of the types of research or interviews I will need, demonstrating that I understand project and that I know how to gather the information on my own. This usually helps clients see that they won’t have to spend tons of time catching me up on the project.
I landed a great gig blogging for a graphic design firm. They were working for a client who wanted posts aimed at CEOs of retail chains, and they needed someone with experience.
Did it matter that I’d never been a CEO? Nope. I explained how my ground-level retail experience gave me a unique perspective on retail strategies that would be valuable to CEOs. The firm and the client loved the idea.
You don’t have to be an expert to get a job, but you should explain how your background allows you to understand the project and offer a unique perspective. Clients are willing to pay for knowledge, because they don’t have it or don’t have the time to teach it. You can make yourself even more valuable by explaining how your knowledge is unique.
I almost missed out on an awesome, ongoing social media gig because my client didn’t know what he needed or why.
Instead of jumping right into negotiations with him, I took time to teach him about the effectiveness of various social-media strategies, and then outlined my suggested approach. He was instantly sold, because I gave him confidence that I knew what I was doing when he didn’t.
This approach can be a big time investment up front, but it can pay off big in ongoing work. After this client learned to trust my judgment on our first project, he has assigned numerous other projects — and lets me determine the direction they take.
Clients have varying levels of comfort with projects, and they need to know that you can do the work. They want to hire writers who can assure them that the project will be successful, and that they’ll walk away with better work than they could produce themselves.
Don’t just give your client clips. Explain how they’re relevant, and suggest strategies based on your expert experience that prove you understand the project’s needs.
Sell yourself as a unique solution to common client problems, and you’ll see your freelance writing business grow, too.
What do your freelance clients want most? Tell us in the comments below.
Peggy Carouthers is a freelance writer with a background in journalism. She specializes in human resources, retail, and content marketing.