How I Got Freelance Writing Jobs Worth $15,000 — in 7 Days Flat

better writing gigs in 7 days: Here's howRecently, one of my freelance writing clients told me they’d be cutting my workload — which meant less income for me.

Crisis? Nope.

I decided to get proactive and do a week of cold pitching to seek new freelance writing jobs. Before this, I’d gotten all my clients from job boards or referrals.

I know what you might be feeling right now — cold outreach? Yikes!

But, if you shift your mindset and just start doing it, it’s not nearly as scary as it seems. And the results might just surprise you.

Here’s how I got started, got great results in just 7 days — and how you can, too.

Step 1: Learn to write a decent pitch

When I first started freelancing, I didn’t even know what a pitch or LOI (letter of introduction) was!

But doing something is still better than nothing, and even untrained pitches can get you clients. The more you do it, the better — and more successful — your pitches will get.

If you’ve got access to a more experienced writer who can review pitches and help you make them better, take advantage of that opportunity. If not, find a course that offers feedback from real-world editors and marketing managers.

Step 2: Research potential clients and contacts

I decided to reach out to two types of clients: companies and trade publications in my field, health copywriting.

One approach I take is to search for companies that post on LinkedIn’s paid job board, by going to the ‘jobs’ section on LinkedIn. If a business is willing to pay for a job posting on LinkedIn, they’re likely serious about hiring the best talent.

How to find freelance writing jobs on LinkedIn

When viewing the job description, you’ll find that most companies have a company page that lists how many employees they have. Click on the company name from the top to view their page.

LinkedIN-company-name

If they have 500 or more employees, you can assume they have a good marketing budget that would allow them to hire freelance writers at a reasonable rate. On the other hand, a company with 1-10 employees may not.

LinkedIn-find-contacts

Once you find a potential company that looks like a good fit, the next step is to find the right contact. If you look underneath the banner on the right hand side of the company page (as you see above), you can find the list of employees who have LinkedIn profiles.

Click “See all” and find the marketing manager, chief communications officer, or even the CEO.

Alternatively, you can also search on LinkedIn or even Google for “marketing manager [company name].” By reading people’s profiles you can often get a sense of their role from their job descriptions and whether they seem likely to hire freelance writers.

To find a trade publication to pitch, search on TradePub.com. Many of these publications post a staff directory on their website. If you look in the first few pages of the publication for the masthead or check the website, you can usually find the email address of the editor so you can contact them directly.

If not, then Google can be your friend: search for “[name] [publication] email address.”

Step 3. Send out your pitches

Here are two example LOIs I used.

Note: I personalize these for each contact and the skills the company requires. I try to put something unique into each pitch to show I’ve paid attention to something meaningful to them and also briefly highlight the skills I bring to the table.

I send this as a LinkedIn InMail, but it works as a regular email message, too.

LinkedIn-LOI

And I send a personalized version of this to trade publication editors:

Trade-Pub-LOI

Finally, take a deep breath and hit send. 🙂

The freelance writing jobs I got

Over seven days of pitching, I made 15 contacts – two job submissions, one trade pub (direct email to editor), and 12 short LOIs via LinkedIn InMail. Here are my results below. I scheduled three phone calls with prospects, and sent out proposals after all of them.

  • 6-month contract. One proposal, sent out to a large healthcare staffing and management firm in New York, netted me a $1,400-a-month contract for six months, with lots of upsell potential.
  • “Let’s keep in touch.” The second nibble to one of Australia’s largest nutrition and fitness sites didn’t get me the role they had advertised (which I actually wasn’t after), but surprisingly, the CEO gave me a shot at it, anyway. In the end, they chose someone who could come into the office. However, he did ask if he could get in touch for future copywriting jobs. Win!
  • Another 6-month contract. The third proposal, for a mid-level medical media site, netted me another six-month contract at $1,200/month, which may also have upsell potential.
  • “Opportunities are coming up.” I got on the radar of one of America’s fastest growing healthcare companies in the online strategy and technology sector. The marketing manager said there are freelancing opportunities coming up soon so he’s going to get in touch — and I’ve just saved him time when he needs a writer!
  • “We’ll be in touch soon.” The trade-pub editor asked for my clips, got back again to ask for my rates, and then said she’d be in touch soon. They’re in the process of rebranding, but I’m confident she’ll send work my way in future.

That’s five great additions to my client pipeline and two firm bookings worth over $15,000, in just seven days. Pretty cool, huh?

Be patient…and other takeaways

There’s definitely patience required in this game, as it took around three weeks to seal the two deals from that initial pitch week. Some companies can brew on this stuff a few days and might have other people to consult, while others get back straight away.

What I’ve learned from my first week using this marketing method is that people who’re serious about their business are always on the lookout for great people to hire, either right now or in the future. Outreach is about putting yourself out there and telling people what you do, so they think of you when a job comes up.

Most important, building your base of freelance writing clients is about building relationships. It may not always bring in immediate cash, but it does skyrocket your opportunities for the long term.

What outreach methods have worked for you? Tell us in the comments below.

Jedha Dening is a freelance health business writer and copywriter who creates compelling B2B and B2C content and content marketing strategies for healthcare companies worldwide.

 

Writing Tips: Join the New Freelance Writer’s Launchpad: A small-group mastermind for new freelance writers. Presented by: Carol Tice & Angie Mansfield. LEARN MORE

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
66 comments on “How I Got Freelance Writing Jobs Worth $15,000 — in 7 Days Flat
  1. Victor says:

    Hi Jedha,

    It’s hard to find successful freelance writers who would truly give away methods they use to net high paying jobs. I thank you Jedha you are a germ.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m assuming you mean a gem. 😉 Don’t worry, you’re covered under my Universal Blog Comment Typo insurance policy!

      And that’s what my blog is all about, Victor — real tips on what’s really working out there for freelance writers.

  2. Opal says:

    when you speak of a 6-month contract…is this just writing random articles/blogs? or is this for whitepapers, brochures etc.?

  3. Hi Jedha and Tice,

    Great job, well done!

    I did arrive here via a shared link on Twitter, poste by Shannon.

    Then I remembered reading about you “Carol” in a post that featured me too, on The Writing Whisperer.

    The key to landing clients depends on one’s mastery of the “writing craft”.

    The value you bring to the table is key to success. All in all, thumbs up Jedha!

    This qualifies as a great factual piece that has been well crafted.

  4. Jeffrey Hill says:

    I came back to this post to share that it inspired me to make up and save my own templates – some for cold pitching and LOI’s, some for job ads. I put a good amount of time and work into getting them just right (and malleable to different situations).

    Literally the first one I sent not only got a response, it led to a paid assignment. I’d call that a result!

    Not only a time saver (which means more queries get sent), but also more effective and consistent.

  5. Mr. B.C. Nwabueze says:

    What a piece! I have never seen this type of down-to-earth, highly simplified marketing strategy.

  6. Shannon says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I really found the screen shots you used for LinkedIn really beneficial. I realize I am not using LinkedIn enough in my prospecting methods. You inspired me! <3

  7. Jeffrey Hill says:

    Awesome. That’s a pretty nice result from such a brief stint of pitching. And utilizing LinkdIn in such a way is something I definitely need to add to my repertoire.

    Oh, and I like your pitch template style. Its very to the point and direct. No beating around the bush. Nothing unnecessary and not too pushy. Meets a really good balance of being thorough yet brief.

  8. Jedha says:

    Hey Lauren, after speaking to the client and learning more about what they want, it’s pretty standard to send through a proposal with a quote. It basically outlines the job as you’ve heard it, your payment terms and rate.

    • Lauren Bedosky says:

      Thanks Jedha! I still have a lot to learn about this type of pitching. I’m so accustomed to pitching magazines!

  9. Lauren Bedosky says:

    Great post! Lots of great information. I was wondering what you mean by “proposal.” You stated that you followed up on a few phone calls with proposals, what do those entail?

  10. Linda H says:

    Jedha,

    This is the marketing plan I’ve been striving to do. You provided some contact links that will work for me. You also reinforced what I must do to follow your lead. Thank you.

    This also gave me added confidence that I’m following the right ideas. I’m changing brands, but this is a great foundation from which I can start. And your success draws me toward this even more.

    Thanks for sharing. Perfect timing with perfect information. I appreciate you a great deal.

  11. Ronan says:

    Great post. I’ve actually been cold e-mailing like hell as opposed to properly pitching for the last few days. It’s been so disappointing to come so close yet so far to new, lucrative work.

    I’ve sent emails to loads of content marketing agencies, starting on Thursday. A lot of them replied (fairly quickly and positively) asking for samples. I think 7 different companies replied. Having sent the samples both yesterday and today, I’ve heard nothing back.

    I would assume if any of them were going to pursue it further they would’ve got back to me quickly after viewing my samples. I’m a good writer so the clips I’m sending clearly just aren’t strong enough.

    What’s frustrating is that these agencies are now closed off to me because I’ve already ascertained that yes, they hire freelancers, but they just don’t seem to wanna hire me. I could be surprised and see some replies on Monday but it’s doubtful. Ouch!

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      Ronan,

      Save those for later and connect with them again in 6 months with better samples. I managed to get a steady, monthly gig at a good rate from a prospect who didn’t care for my first samples and said “I’ll be in touch.” Another prospect gave me a small, but still well-paying one-off project after I got back in touch with new samples. So, by all means, save those for later. Good luck!

    • Jedha says:

      Don’t be discouraged Ronan. Some people do take a while to respond. I only just heard back from someone I contacted over 2 weeks ago. And also, if you were to”really” want to work with a particular agency, don’t give up there either. Just get better/ different clips and try again some other time. Plenty more fish in the sea though too, so keep knocking on those doors!

  12. heri says:

    never imagine this trick before…
    thank for sharing..

  13. Gary Harvey says:

    Congrats, Jedha. You’re one of the shining lights I follow. Thanks for documenting your process here.
    Gary

  14. Paula Fitzsimmons says:

    Awesome article, Jedha. Thanks so much.

  15. Congrats! I’ve found little luck landing writing gigs via LinkedIn but this give me more of a strategic advantage when pitching. Thanks a lot!

  16. Kelly says:

    I’ve just found your site as I’ve been studying the web for freelance writing resources, having just entered the field myself. Your site and e-book is packed with information and I just wanted to say thanks for sharing all of this valuable stuff!

  17. Evan Jensen says:

    Jedha, your marketing hustle is awesome. Thanks for detailing your process here. Keep going.

  18. Jennifer Fowler says:

    What a great post! I started cold pitching this month after reading your blog and I’ve had a few people who are interested.

    I have only been freelancing since January. I was scared to send out these cold emails at first. But ultimately it’s the only way to get away from job boards. I’m amazed at how many companies are looking for writers or have projects but don’t know where to start. I stick to fields that I’ve written for and have writing samples to support, makes it easier.

    I even was able to negotiate with an existing client for a better rate. He saw I was getting busier with clients who were willing to pay well so he decided to match it.

    Keep up the great posts!

  19. Great article, Jedha!
    FYI, the name link to your LinkedIn profile at the bottom of the article is giving a 404 error. I think someone needs to add in the “/in/”. 🙂

  20. Tana says:

    Thanks for the great post, Jedha! I’ve actually been doing the same thing on LinkedIn, but your tips helped to refine my process a bit.

    Also, I like the idea of a concentrated pitch timeframe. I think what happens with me is I put off marketing in favor of other things, and it sort of happens “here and there.” I’m going to clear the decks next week (wait til after the holiday) and get busy!

  21. Abby says:

    Wow, very encouraging story. All of my clients, like yours, have been from in-person networking and referrals so far. Though these tactics have worked really well for me, cold-pitching sounds like the skill I really need to avoid ever having to pick up a sustenance job again. Not that I would mind terribly, but restaurant work has a funny way of sapping my brain waves.

  22. David Throop says:

    This is a great breakdown of how to cold-pitch! I’ve been doing some roundabout pitching without success so far but it has to be a “numbers” game, meaning the more I deliberately pitch the better odds I’ll have, so thanks for the tips!

    I had read many times about the power of linked in but hadn’t really considered it, or thought about how to maximize its power until now!

  23. Marlena says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I’ll be trying to be more active on LinkedIn as many bloggers advise this.
    But it feels encouraging that you got those clients in such a short time.
    Great!

  24. Duncan Seward says:

    You knocked this post out of the park. Well done!!!

  25. Tom says:

    Amazing. Great work. Cold outreach like this can give so much return for relatively little effort, I guess partially because most people dread it so thoroughly!

    Maybe making a system like you’ve done sort of depersonalizes it, in a way that makes rejections feel less upsetting: it’s in the context of playing a numbers game, and as you simply work your system eventually the wins come, as you show.

    Setting aside a few hours a week would probably result in more work than one could handle, over time.

    It’s very encouraging, thank you.

  26. Rohi Shetty says:

    Hi Jedha,
    I checked out your LinkedIn profile and it’s awesome. Anyone who reads it would definitely want to hire you. Kudos to you.
    Btw, I’m looking forward to the next Pitch Clinic.

  27. I’ve been doing this with local companies in a niche that I am targeting and so far no one has bitten. Got plenty of people adding me to their networks and a few “We’ll get back to you if we have anything in the future” replies but then again I’ve been targeting companies that haven’t put out any ads for jobs but that I know need someone with writing skills.

    It’s definitely a game of patience and I’m fairly confident that my email is a good one as my tracker shows about 60% open rate and most of which have reopened at least once more.

    I love reading these types of posts as it really spurs you to stick with it.

  28. Sue Chehrenegar says:

    I am glad to know that a “keep in touch” qualifies as a win. Now I fee that I am really making some progress.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Oh, it definitely does! Especially if you have a process for following up and keeping in touch. 😉

      • Tana says:

        I was kinda surprised by this as well! I’ve had a TON of “keep in touches” that haven’t turned into anything yet, so I was counting them as a really polite brush-off. (Though I still do follow up, just in case.)

        • Jedha says:

          I think that’s the key Tana – follow up. I intend to do that with my “keep in touches” in a couple of months. We have to do the work and not expect potential clients to follow us up!

          • Rafi hasan says:

            Hi,Jedha I am very muuch interested to be a part of article writer’s, but I can’t get any link to apply for it. would you please help to how can I do this. thanks in advance

            • Carol Tice says:

              Rafi — We don’t “Apply for article writer” jobs — reread the post and see how Jedha proactively found prospects and marketed directly to them. That’s how you earn more, because you cut out the middleman of the many intermediary platforms online looking to take a cut of your fee.

  29. Karen Smock says:

    Great post! Thank you for being so specific. The sample email scripts are really useful.

  30. Rachel says:

    Great and very informative post!

    I always find, however, with posts like these (that offer up sample email templates – that, again, are very helpful) that they leave out one of the most critical elements…

    And that is the email subject line, which can be a critical factor in getting your email opened or not.

    So, I might suggest with posts like these that one not only includes the sample email script, but also a couple of subject lines one used along with the email…

    I’m curious to know what subject line you used in the email to target companies (not publications) that worked..

    But, overall, an insightful post…

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great point — hopefully we can get Jedha to share a few when she’s on later this afternoon!

      I do try hard to think of everything writers would need on the topic and we try to get it all in the post…so thanks for pointing this out.

    • Jedha says:

      I kept it super simple Rachel, and again, try to specify it for each company – Writer for [company name] – Pro storyteller for [company name].

      • Carol Tice says:

        Oh, that’s very interesting! I always feel weak on email subject lines…fascinating to hear you’re getting good results by keeping it real basic.

  31. Amy Hardison says:

    Thanks for your helpful advice, and congratulations on your success! Do you have any tips on how to tailor this type of message for a novice freelance writer? I would like to start using this method, but I’m not sure what to say about myself given my limited amount of experience. And I don’t have a specialty right now – I’m just trying a lot of different things to see what sticks.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Amy…the amazing part is, Jedha IS a novice freelance writer! She has under a year of experience at this. There’s nothing to tailor, really. Say you’re a freelance writer. If there isn’t more to say, keep it short.

      The fact is, pro writers don’t go on and on about themselves in pitches…only amateurs do that.

    • Jedha says:

      Model what other people do Amy. You can take the messages I’ve written above to get ideas and tailor them to your own niche/ industry and skills. Or, join the Freelance Writers Den for loads of resources and help. 🙂

      • Amy Hardison says:

        Thanks Jedha. I am planning to create a similar message – I just don’t have a niche like you do (i.e. healthcare companies). So that was the source of my concern. Carol’s point about not needing to say much more than “I am a freelance writer” is a big help too. And I sen off a very short note yesterday and got a “not right now but we’ll keep you on our list”. So thanks for the motivation! And yes, I am planning to get into the Den at the next possible opportunity. 🙂

        • Jedha says:

          Amy, you don’t have to have a niche. Lots of writers cover a wide range of topics so just pick a good paying market. And congrats on your small win, too.

  32. Thanks for the tip! I’ve been trying to figure out how to make LinkedIn work for me so this arrived at the right time.

  33. Jim Hughes says:

    Congratulations Carol. This post is very uplifting to me as want to develop a freelance writing career. The biggest question is how to find clients since I have no experience as a writer. My background I was a mainframe COBOL programmer. I do believe in well written technical documentation.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Jim…I have a Step by Step e-book (check out the ebooks tab up top!) that answers this exact question — how to start from zero, quickly build a portfolio, and start pitching for paid work.

      With programming in your background I would think you could do very well pitching those types of companies for writing work!

  34. Balaka says:

    This is very valuable information. Thanks for sharing!!!