The Laid-Back Method That Grows Your Freelance Business

A freelance writer grows their business like a thriving plantBy Daryl George

Have you ever labored over writing the perfect guest post or pitch, only to be greeted by silence or rejection?

Or maybe you’ve hit a roadblock, with your freelance writing business spinning its wheels while the mud splatters in your face as you desperately try and fail to get things moving.

Guess what? There’s an easy way to solve these problems.

It’s something that’s even more important than great writing. Something more important than a strong idea, killer headlines, or a perfectly SEO’d website.

What is this secret?

It’s who you know

The power of relationships to boost personal and business success is often understated. In fact, career experts say up to 80 percent of jobs are found through personal relationships.

The benefits of relationships, however, extend far beyond a paycheck. For example, relationships with Jon Morrow and Derek Halpern have helped Carol learn more about blogging and connecting with readers.

However, for many new freelance writers, there’s still a problem: How do you go about establishing relationships with people you’ve never met before?

Thankfully, there ways to develop new relationships that will help your freelance business grow without having to make expensive investments.

Here are four easy ways for freelance writers to establish new relationships:

1. Leave comments

Commenting on other blogs is one great way to establish relationships with new people. The truth is, even the most popular of bloggers love it when people comment on their blogs and enjoy engaging with those who take the time to post thoughtful comments.

Don’t just comment for commenting’s sake, but make sure every comment is valuable and adds something to the discussion.

2. Offer help

Maybe you’re knowledgeable in WordPress, and you see a fellow blogger with a design flaw that can be easily fixed. Or you could be an SEO expert and you see someone whose content would benefit with a few minor changes.

By offering just a bit of help or advice, you can quickly form an immediate and long-lasting bond with the person you’re advising.

Of course, nobody’s telling you to offer a full package of services for free — but a few words of advice can go a long way in initiating a new relationship.

3. Be authentic

It’s easy to see when someone is trying to develop a relationship with an ulterior motive, such as just to secure a writing gig. Instead of trying to establish relationships purely to make a dollar, understand that connecting with others who share a similar experience to you is in itself a reward.

When you become authentic in your interactions, you will notice that opportunities begin to present themselves as you develop a deeper connection with your new friends.

4. Build your own community

Don’t always let someone else form a group — instead, build the community you want to be a part of. This could take the shape of a LinkedIn group, a mastermind group, or anywhere else people can engage with each other easily and quickly.

Developing new relationships can provide powerful benefits for any freelance writer. By building relationships with new people, you are developing a critical resource which can launch your freelance writing businesses to higher heights of success.

How do you network? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

Daryl George is a writer and freelance blogger for hire who specializes in using the written word and psychology to help small- and medium-sized businesses connect with customers and increase profits. He tells his own freelance story at freelancewriterstartup.com.

 

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42 comments on “The Laid-Back Method That Grows Your Freelance Business
  1. Nick Ward says:

    Hi Daryl,
    Thanks for your post. I completely agree with you that the best way to get started is to leverage the power of your own relationships and also form new ones. I have been writing in the workplace for eighteen years now, but have only just stepped out as a freelance business writer. I am finding that my own contacts in a professional sense are absolutely invaluable, and suspect that once I start to leverage the power of LinkedIn that will also be a really great method of setting up in the early stages. What I am finding is that my own friend and friend-of-friend network via Facebook through setting up a Facebook Page is also really important. In my very early stages before I have gone really hard with LinkedIn, 95% of my website traffic is coming from Facebook. I agree that relationships in a writing community can also be formed quite quickly – even my initial forays into the freelance writing community are looking promising. I think we are all a unique community of people who tend to like helping each other to succeed. Thanks again!
    Nick Ward recently posted…Writing for your reader – content and deliveryMy Profile

  2. Peter Kanayo says:

    Daryl, thanks for sharing.

    Love your take on helping people. When we do that without expecting anything in return, the law of giving blesses us.

    Concening comments- it’s important you provide value, not just commenting for the sake of link building.

    Carol been a while since I visited your site and am happy I did. Happy New Year to You and Daryl.

  3. Jason says:

    Online communities are something I’ve always struggled with. I’m not a copywriter but I enjoy your articles and this one has hit home recently. I’ve been using G+ a lot more and my “social network” has been growing significantly. I was always very private on FB and absolutely relegated myself to the “minor player” in the few forums I participate in.

    But your comments about giving bits of advice are something that I have been doing lately and my once empty G+ circles are growing. And as far as the commenting is concerned, I’ve only recently started linking my comments back to my blog because I always felt like I would be seen as just link building. But after some quality comments on my own blog that weren’t spammy I stopped worrying about it so much. Of course, everyone hates the spam but it’s worth working through when people do communicate authentically.

    You’ve brought up some great points, Daryl. I may have give number 4 a shot.
    Jason recently posted…Santa Elena: Feria de las FloresMy Profile

  4. Rob says:

    I get the bulk of my new work from referrals. Most are current or past clients, but some referrals come from other freelance writers I’ve worked with in the past. The key for me is having a relationship built on a foundation of mutual support. I really don’t know how to establish such a relationship when my underlying motive is to get gigs, so I don’t even try.
    Rob recently posted…The Best Thanksgiving Newsletter EverMy Profile

  5. Regarding your article about relationships and how to develop them, I very much enjoyed the article, and agree that all business is based on relationship. Posting comments and feedback is one way to do that. As a card-carrying Toastmaster, I am often in a position to provide feedback to speakers at the club, but those evaluations are short, usually limited to 2 minutes of impromptu speaking. I typically follow that up with a personal email to the speaker, going into deeper detail about the speech. I have found that speakers like that personal touch, that is not only privately given (although that is not a necessity), but also goes into much more detail. I am currently mentoring a new member who happens to be a superb speaker, yet she disagreed with her evaluator’s feedback of her last speech, and asked my opinion. I was happy to share what I thought, bolstering (and explaining) her evaluator’s feedback, as well as giving her my own.

    It is the same when commenting or reviewing a blog. With honesty – and tact – you are promoting yourself, as well as establishing relationships with the writer of the blog, as well as with the readers of the blog. Offer your views willingly, graciously, and above all, sincerely.

  6. Tanya Adams says:

    I really enjoyed this piece, Daryl. I’m new to social media and commenting on blogs. I will comment if something moves me and not just for comment sake. I love your #s 1-3. I would hope that I’m always authentic. The #4 building a community is hard for an introvert like myself, but I do agree with the previous commenter about joining a community. I’ve gotten so much out of being a part of the Den. I hung back a bit and just read and learned and am now commenting more. I feel I have met a lot of new friends in the 3 months of my joining. And, now with my website and my info am ready to venture out into business. All this in 3 months. I have a long way to go as far as guest blogging I think, but I will keep your comments in mind when the time comes. Thanks for such an informative piece.
    Tanya Adams recently posted…Are Promotional Items Effective?My Profile

  7. Emelia says:

    So true Daryl, I think freelance writers have to think out of the box in regard to marketing and growing their businesses. Social networks are getting overcrowded and one cannot entirely depend on it as a marketing tool. I have a heart for helping anyone new in the industry and your last point gave me an idea of where I could start.

    Great post, Daryl!
    Emelia recently posted…Evil Voices Tormenting New Freelance WritersMy Profile

  8. Cindi Kerr says:

    Daryl – Well said! Building relationships is necessary for building a freelance business and you’ve shared some great tips for doing that. I would add introductions. When you introduce two people you know who would benefit from knowing each other, they begin to think of you as helpful and are more likely to think of you the next time they need help.

    I clicked over to your website, http://www.darylgeorge.com, and noticed your Sept 4 post, “Free Guest Post or Article From Me!” This is a wonderful idea. I hope you don’t mind if I use it.

    I look forward to hearing more from you.

    • Daryl says:

      Haha Cindi – The free guest post was meant to be a September only deal, but I’d be happy to extend it to you! Shoot me an email and we’ll talk.

      And definitely – introducing people is another great way to build relationships!
      Daryl recently posted…The Freelance Writers Den ReviewMy Profile

      • Carol Tice says:

        You know, Danny Iny is always introducing me to new people and I think it’s so cool! I need to think more about who in my circle would benefit from meeting each other. Referring people is always a good thing.

        • I have used Twitter to introduce several people to one another (not using the #FF either). I’ve connected freelancers with one another, and to you and Linda, and most recently, have connected the two guys for whom I wrote my two recent guest posts for to one another. Now the three of us are collaborating on a giveaway!

          It’s great when people agree with the slogan: “Cooperation, not competition!” which is a favourite of mine ever since Indie Author Melissa Bowersock said it to me months ago.
          Lorraine Reguly recently posted…Adding Links to Your Blog Posts + Accepting Awards MADE EASY! (Video Tutorial)My Profile

          • Carol Tice says:

            Yeah, too many writers think of other writers as the competition, instead of realizing they are your network and could be referring you business! I have a friend who was referred a print book contract by a writer in his network. Seriously, folks — get to know the other writers in your niche in your town!

  9. Engagement is key. Just ask Danny Iny, another blogger in Carol’s circle of friends.

    I agree. You cannot expect others to miraculously “find” you or “discover” you; you have to go out and be active on social media. This is time-consuming and many people don’t like that fact, but it’s necessary to grow a blog, to find new clients, and to get others talking about you.

    You just never know what will happen when you make a good impression on others.

    I was SHOCKED one day to read a blog post by Diana Marinova and find a screenshot of one of my tweets to her in it! She also linked to my blog, which was also very nice of her! I was flattered and honoured, needless to say.

    This just goes to show you that others are “watching” you, even when you think no one is looking.
    Lorraine Reguly recently posted…The “One Lovely Blog” Award (AKA One Smokin’ Hot Blog Award) Gets This Lovely Blogger To Identify Her Rapist: Lorne ChabotMy Profile

    • Daryl says:

      A little known secret is that many of the established bloggers notice and read each and every one of their comments and trackbacks. Not to mention, you never know when someone reading your comments decides to reach out to you and hire you! Just commenting or retweeting a couple of your favorite articles can go a long way in building relationships and your business as well.
      Daryl recently posted…The Freelance Writers Den ReviewMy Profile

      • Carol Tice says:

        Well, I’ll confess I do…I really use that Commentluv button and check out a lot of my commenters’ blogs. And who doesn’t check out trackbacks…always want to see what people are saying about me or my posts on other blogs! I am the original car curiosity killed.

        Maybe the really huge bloggers have somebody do that for them, but I’m not there yet. 😉

      • I do the same thing! In fact, I think we all do, regardless of our blogging status/size, since it is always a compliment when someone links to something we wrote.

        And Carol, I like that the CL posts links, too, and will be using this system in the future whenever I make the move and get my own site. 😉
        Lorraine Reguly recently posted…Adding Links to Your Blog Posts + Accepting Awards MADE EASY! (Video Tutorial)My Profile

  10. Lynn Silva says:

    Hi Daryl,

    Thank you for clear, concise methods on building relationships. I’ve never considered building my own community, such as in LinkedIn. Although, as pointed out, it can be very time consuming it might very well be worth it – depending upon your niche. I think the largest gain would be the fact that it would really stimulate writing topics.

    Being very new to social media platforms and being rather shy in person, I found it very uncomfortable at first when I began commenting, or asking questions or even posting on my Facebook page. I was not used to the ‘internet world’ at all. Before I could present myself as ‘authentic,’ I really had to spend some time learning what that was for me. When I sat back and took several weeks and just read comments, read group posts and listened, I began to relax and discovered that by being humble, gracious and sincere, other people remember me…even reach out. So yes, being authentic is paramount. I’d say, for me, I grasped the whole ‘authenticity’ thing when I was able to easily word things in way that’s supportive, educational or profound (I have yet to reach the profound thing, but hey, I’m still trying) : )

    Thanks for a great post. : )
    Lynn Silva recently posted…How to Banish Holiday Blues in 5 MinutesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      You know, I have a friend that started a LinkedIn group and I gather it’s rocking! Something I keep thinking I should do…

      • Karen J says:

        I’ve noticed that both Linked In and Facebook have very different comment-thread structures than most blog platforms.
        I get the impression that it would be quite time- and energy-consuming to “build your own community” in the sense that you have here, Carol.
        There’s little (in LI) or no (FB) “directed reply” function – i.e.since this is reply number 30, it would show up in that position, even though it’s in direct reference to comment number 8. For me, anyway, that makes *having a give and take conversation* very difficult.
        Karen J recently posted…Collected Drafts – Just Do It!My Profile

      • Karen J says:

        Adding to that thought:
        … developing a “commenter presence” in existing groups may be more efficiently productive. Read around – a lot! – and see what feels like a good fit for your goals and your available resources…

        Good points all, Daryl. Thank you!
        Karen J recently posted…Collected Drafts – Just Do It!My Profile

    • Daryl says:

      Hey Lynn,

      I’m glad you liked what I wrote!
      I myself have had people reach out to me and I’m really grateful for every
      bit of advice that I’ve received.

      Don’t worry about being profound – often the best advice is the simplest!
      Daryl recently posted…The Freelance Writers Den ReviewMy Profile

  11. I love your first comment. It was my personal network that got me into journalism in the first place. My very first paid writing job came courtesy of my best friend’s husband who knew I was good with words and needed help with a communications job. Fifteen years later, I’m still doing freelance contracts for him! My first newspaper gig came courtesy of my day job when my boss, who knew I did a bit of writing on the side, introduced me to the Editor-in-chief of the largest newspaper in the country. I went on to be a columnist for him for 2 years. So much of my work has come through people I’ve met in the physical world or relationships I’ve developed online.

  12. Great article, Daryl!

    For someone *just* getting started and feeling slightly overwhelmed, this came at a great time. I’m trying to get into the swing of things, specifically making comments and using Twitter to build relationships. Thanks!
    Nicolia Whyte recently posted…Are you a mom? Then you can be a freelance writerMy Profile

  13. Tom Bentley says:

    Good stuff, Daryl, thank you.

    Here’s a great complement to your piece I recently saw on LinkedIn, on how making simple introductions among your network can cause positive changes in lots of lives:

    http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131125151638-69244073-the-gift-we-love-to-receive-but-forget-to-give
    Tom Bentley recently posted…Licking the Cat and Other Writing TipsMy Profile

  14. Great suggestions, Daryl! Even though I do a lot of prospecting and ‘warm emails,’ the lion’s share of my work still comes through personal connections and networking. Thanks for some great ideas for new ways to crack this nut….

  15. Rob Britt says:

    I think the four points you’ve made here are spot on. 2 and 3 especially hit home for me, as we see people all the time who are all about promoting themselves and are friendly and forward, but when you have a question or a request they are suddenly silent. That silence is a death toll to the relationship.
    Someone offering help rather than asking for it is more likely to be genuine and potentially a long term friend.
    Rob Britt recently posted…Blaze Motors – Some Secrets Don’t Stay BuriedMy Profile

    • Daryl says:

      I definitely agree Rob.

      If you’re all about taking and not willing to help out and give advice, then people will figure this out pretty quickly and see you as something of a user.

      Better to be genuine and be willing to nurture a relationship than just to think of others as another business prospect!
      Daryl recently posted…The Freelance Writers Den ReviewMy Profile

  16. This is a good place to start when I work on my 2014 goals. Especially more commenting.

  17. Creating your own community is a great idea; however, being a “mastermind” and administrator of such a community can take up lots of your time, if you want it to really succeed.

    Actively participating in established communities can help in many ways — and, you don’t necessarily have to accept the status of a “minor” player. Writing forums, for example, are places in which you can find writers of various calibres and literary preferences: you can find your own “peers” there and establish relationships with them, while learning from (and perhaps getting noticed by) more experienced colleagues.

    I think a combination of both (creating your own, perhaps more tightly focused in the beginning, community & participating in already established communities) is a good way to go about it.
    Helene Poulakou recently posted…Inspiration ExistsMy Profile

    • Daryl says:

      Hey Helen,

      I think we’re both on the same page. Of course, a writer starting up their own LinkedIn group for example isn’t likely to have 1000 people joining on the first day, but far more likely to have a few people join a small and tightly knit group, which wouldn’t be too difficult to manage.
      So yes, I do agree that a mix of both is the best way to go.
      Daryl recently posted…The Freelance Writers Den ReviewMy Profile

  18. So true Daryl,

    I’ve experience it recently – I’m yet to pitch for proper paid work but because of my previous network from my affiliate marketing days, I’m looking at coming into some copywriting work without needing to send one single pitch based on a referral! (Fingers crossed it comes through)!

    And today, I had a video chat on Skype with another blogger I pitched for a guest post a couple weeks ago to connect that little bit extra than an email can provide and despite needing to get up at 4.50am with a cold due to time zones it was a great experience and look forward to talking to them more and who knows maybe one day we can refer work to each other?

    Definitely left me feeling very motivated as another bonus!

    Cheers!

    Jackson
    Jackson Anderson recently posted…Why Your Day Job is Helping You Become an EntrepreneurMy Profile

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