One Shy Writer’s Lazy LinkedIn Strategy for Landing Great Freelance Clients

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Lazy LinkedIn StrategIES for Landing Great Freelance Clients. Makealivingwriting.comDo you hate marketing your freelance writing?

Do you agonize over letters of introduction without ever sending them out?

I can relate. I’m shy when it comes to marketing myself to new clients.

But last September, I managed to (almost) skip marketing and still get high-paying writing gigs, with an easy LinkedIn marketing strategy.

I call it LinkedIn Peeping — and it’s ideal for online lurkers.

In three months, it’s landed me $7,500 in assignments, plus weekly red-hot leads. Not bad for a writer who was pulling in a big $200/month in 2013, writing for content mills and agencies.

Here’s how I used LinkedIn to land great freelance clients:

Three easy steps to get noticed by prospects

1) Do a LinkedIn search for ideal customers in your niche. In companies, people who hire freelancers include the:

  • CEO
  • Vice president of sales/business development
  • Marketing director
  • Communications director

I’ve had CEOs personally reach out or pass my profile on to marketing directors. A website project converted in days, since I was CEO-approved.

2) Peep at similar people, once you’ve found a good prospect.

  • Use the same titles and industries with different cities and countries. Go for world domination!
  • Visit your client’s profile. Look for “People Similar to Ideal Client.” This is a listing of people in similar industries and similar job titles on LinkedIn.
  • Also look at the “People Also Viewed” section. This will show you the people other users think are similar, which can be a broader group than what LinkedIn finds.

If you and your dream client have mutual connections, request an introduction.

3)  Join your ideal client’s groups and make contact with those inside. You never know — you might be the only writer in there.

  • Look for discussions between CEOs and decision makers.
  • Like or comment on their discussions and see who’s viewed your profile.
  • Identify problems you can solve and share solutions.

Why peeping works

When I was new to living in China, I was poking around on LinkedIn — and avoiding letters of introduction. Thinking I was anonymous, I checked out the profiles of CEOs in renewable energy and manufacturing in my new city, Tianjin.

But I wasn’t anonymous — and my name popped up in all those CEOs’ “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” lists. And it turned out to be a good thing.

The next morning, a CEO I’d peeped at sent me an InMail, requesting a meeting to discuss a brochure for one of his companies. I wrote it, the brochure helped secure millions in venture funding for the company, and I landed an ongoing position with them as a marketing communications consultant.

Engage to get even more work

In China, I’m in demand as a writer in a town full of engineers, architects, and manufacturers. But I wondered: Could rarity be independent of location? I joined a manufacturing group and liked a CEO’s comment.

The next day, he sent me an InMail. He was thrilled to “find” a writer on LinkedIn, and he also needed a brochure to proceed with a deal worth millions.

I’m now a convert to using LinkedIn to help clients find me, wherever they’re based.

Are you shy? Tell us how you find clients in the comments below.

Amy Dunn Moscoso is a Canadian B2B marketing writer based in Tianjin, China. Learn how to enhance your LinkedIn marketing by visiting her blog Killer Key Messages.

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

77 comments on “One Shy Writer’s Lazy LinkedIn Strategy for Landing Great Freelance Clients

  1. Jessica on

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for all the great tips. LinkedIn is where I want to focus my energy for prospecting business writing clients. I also checked out your profile to see how I can improve mine. Great profile! Thanks for sharing

    Jessica

  2. Benny on

    Amy, thanks for a great post!

    I’m trying to move from the IT field (software developer) to copywriting.

    How should I go about my Linkedin profile?
    At this time it mentions experience as a programmer.

    I have little proven experience as a writer. But I’ve taken a copywriting course (Henneke Duistermaat) and written a guest post on Pick The Brain.

    I thought I should target companies in the IT field.

    How should I put my transition in my profile?
    Why would someone care about a newbie?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Benny –

      Henneke is awesome! Just have to say. 😉 Super-smart.

      Don’t know if Amy’s still sticking her head in, but my philosophy is you need to make your LI profile present you to the gigs you want to get in the future.

      People hire newbies because they can’t afford experienced pros. Or because you know their industry.

      The trick is to not ask yourself questions like that, and to just go for it.

  3. Raspal Seni on

    Hi Amy,

    Landed here from BAFB’s Facebook groups post, similar to your topic. Thanks to Katherine for posting the link in the comments there. I don’t have FB account anymore, so this post was useful for me.

    I’m in two niches — writing and tech/website development. What kind of groups would my target clients hang in? If I say writers can also be my clients for the tech niche, and hanging commenting in the writing niche will get me clients?

    Secondly, is it okay to have a signature at the end of our comments and posts which is a link to your website, e-mail and, other social networks? I understand the passive strategy fine, though.

    BTW, the link you posted, or the one Carol posted, still leads to a Page Not Found error.

    • Carol Tice on

      Not sure what link you mean, but let us know and if it’s on my end hopefully we can fix it.

      There’s more than one reason to join an LI group — groups like LinkedIn Editors and Writers are a great place to network with other writers, learn about rates.

      On the tech side, where you might network with clients, LI has dozens of groups. Doing a Google search for “LinkedIn technology groups” The first two results are The Tech Group and Software Technology Group. I’d suggest joining a bunch of these, and then seeing where the interesting conversations are that you could add to.

      You don’t need to put a signature or links at the end of your LI comments or posts — I think on many groups that kind of obvious self-promotion may get you banned from the group. They can always go back to your profile to find your contacts, by clicking on your name.

      I’ve had people specifically ask for my email or website on LI comments, because they wanted to learn more about something I’ve said — then it’s appropriate to share it. Not otherwise.

      • Raspal Seni on

        Thanks for the detailed explanation, Carol. Will use your advice.

        I was talking about the LI followup post link Amy posted:
        contentsiren.com/key-messages-linkedin-peepers

        The problem is at her end, because no posts are visible on her site. She’s possibly revamping the site or something. Will try contacting her.

  4. Trina Lea Grant on

    Thanks for sharing these tips. They are unique-certainly something I knew nothing about. I will be utilizing these immediately.

    My “sneaky” tactics for getting attention relate mostly to Twitter. I tweet other writer’s articles from my Pocket account, and add “via @whoever”. Truthfully, most of the people whose writing I share are too “big” to notice little ‘ole me, but the tactic has worked to garner attention from other freelancers more in my league.

  5. Martine Foda-Harris on

    Hi Amy!
    I am a fanfiction writer on Wattpad with 155 followers, and one of my particular stories has 10k reads which has boosted my confidence as a writer and shown me that I have an audience-people want to read what I write. I will continue fanfiction; however, I have been interested in writing outside of that realm by becoming a blogger as well. Obviously I am completely new to this, so it’s overwhelming for me. I have a Blogspot account which I rarely touch with only four followers. I’m not sure where to begin, but I would love to find clients who would pay me for my work. Your LinkedIn article was helpful for future reference, now I just need to get started.

  6. Jennifer Thornberry on

    Amy, these are great tips! I’m not a natural marketer; I’ve been doing it, but it goes against my grain. I’ve been updating my LinkedIn profile over the past few days. I’ll have to implement these tips as well and take it a step further. I’m sharing on Twitter as well!

  7. Katherine Swarts on

    One thing I notice about LinkedIn: the individuals in my preferred specialty (behavioral health) tend to be very lax about Update comments, though they can be detailed enough in their profiles. (I’ve looked at about a dozen in the past three days, and only one had any activity–a single Share–listed for the past two weeks.) Most behavioral-health workers are Facebook types; but they leave professional postings to their employers’ business pages and stick to the personal stuff for their own profiles. Often it’s hard even to be sure that the person you’ve found on Facebook is the same one of that name whose profile you reviewed on LI, because FB profiles tend to not only leave out the place of employment but to use entirely different, often wacky, identifying photos!

    • Nora King on

      Katherine,
      I too am interested in behavioral health.
      I have the Internet numerous times to find other copywriters working in this field and come up with the same name all the time. She is listed individually as well as under her practice name.
      I am also interested in writing on policy as it pertains to behavioral health and it is difficult to break into this, as projects are done in-house and within large groups.

      • Carol Tice on

        I think behavioral health is a pretty narrow niche — I don’t really know anyone earning in it. But broadening out to healthcare certainly opens up a lot of opportunity.

  8. Miha on

    I have a question for the point No 1: Do you send a request with your intro included or how you actually reach out to the identified influencers?
    I build-up my profile but have never, or once, truly used its power. I will try this in 2015 🙂 However, I am in a translation industry and try to market my agency.

  9. Larry on

    I think LinkedIn has great potential for writers and your story is another example of how it can work. I’ve done work on my profile but need to do more. This post inspires me to do so. Thanks for that and continued success.

  10. Stacey on

    I never would have thought of that, what a great idea!

    I am super-new to LinkedIn and only went as far as linking with people I’d already been emailing. I need to learn to use LinkedIn to market myself more, thank you for the timly reminder and tips!

  11. Justine on

    Amy, thanks for sharing these tips. I’ve checked out your Website and your LinkedIn profile, and I see what you do loud and clear. Spectacular! I’ll be referring to your site and this article again. You have a new follower here!

  12. Charlotte on

    Great post, Amy!
    I love the effectiveness of this. While I haven’t signed any contracts yet, I have had five of my prospects add me to their network and got an Inmail from one looking for a writer for his book. Fingers crossed!
    In the meantime, it’s a great way to be productive while taking a break from another task.

  13. Timothy Torrents on

    I actually never used Linked to find clients, I have a profile but it’s not tweaked, maybe that’s the reason I don’t use it.

    But this article definitely helped remind me to get back over there. I’ll have to start working on my profile if I want better clients. Thanks!

    • Carol Tice on

      Great point — I don’t update my LI enough, and these days those posts about new clips can trigger reactions from your connections. Great way to keep what you’re doing in their minds, and maybe stimulate some thoughts about hiring you. 😉

  14. Katherine Swarts on

    Chuckle note: I updated my profile yesterday to include a major writing job that finished a year ago, but which I somehow never had gotten around to adding before. In the 24 hours since, I’ve received at least 20 “congratulations on your new job” notes from contacts–including some I know well who added comments like “I know you’ll be an asset” which showed they hadn’t actually read the profile note that made it clear this was “new” only to the LI server’s auto-update programming!

  15. Rosa Lee Jude on

    Great post and what an awesome profile! Time, tweaking and hard work certainly pays off! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  16. Tom Bentley on

    Amy, that’s great stuff. Kind of a “stealth guerrilla” marketing approach I hadn’t considered. The first action alone, to provoke rebounding profile views, is so ding-dang easy that I’m going to teach my cat to do it. Thanks for the great advice.

  17. Penny Hawes on

    Hey Amy,

    Thanks for the great post! I know I haven’t tapped into LinkedIn as much as I could, despite the fact that I have hundreds of connections on there. Kind of like getting checks and not depositing them….

    Thanks for the wake-up call!

  18. Sharon Brodin on

    Thank you, Amy – very good tips! I’ve gotten some training on updating my LinkedIn profile and done that, but haven’t moved forward into using it “offensively” like you suggest. Time to get going!

  19. Sherryl Perry on

    Amy,

    I’ve used LinkedIn groups before to establish authority as a business blogging consultant. This year, my intention is to move away from a lot of the hands-on techie stuff and focus on freelance writing.

    Your tips are making me look at LinkedIn with a different strategic slant. I hadn’t realized that it was upper level managers who I needed to get the attention of now. Your post made me realize that my niche client is no longer the same people who I was focusing on. Thanks!

      • Carol Tice on

        Some CEOs are very accessible. If they’re good delegators, they’ve got the time. Others are hopeless…you just have to experiment. I look to see how active they are on the social-media platform I’m trying to hit them on for a clue of whether this would be a good place to try them.

  20. Susanna Gebauer on

    I love the story about simply clicking on Profiles of potential clients and getting leads from it. It again shows the most important part about marketing yourself (not only in social media) is to get visible. And getting visible can result from such easy actions as clicking on profiles, following some interesting people or sharing wisdom in a bog post.
    Especially if you are shy (I am not sure if I would call it shy, sometimes it is a natural hesitation to run around bragging about your own qualities), getting visible and allowing others to make the first move is simply great!
    – Susanna –

    • Amy Dunn Moscoso on

      Hi Susanna,

      Good points. I think you’re right – many people who are not officially shy can feel very hesitant about promoting themselves, even when they’re great at promoting others or nail a job interview (which is all about promoting yourself and is much more natural.)

      I see this as popping up on the LinkedIn radar of anyone you want.

      Amy

  21. Kristen on

    I’m definitely shy and I know I’m not using LinkedIn to my fullest potential. I’m glad you shared this because it gives me an idea of a new strategy I can try.

    • Philippa Willitts on

      I spend a lot of my time pretending I’m not shy, so I totally relate to this! There’s a lot of ‘fake it til you make it’ in terms of confidence in freelancing, so go for it, and see what works!

      • Amy Dunn Moscoso on

        Hi Philippa,

        Me too. And trying to fit in with verbally slick marketers. (I actually worried for three days about whether writing a guest post with “shy” in it could be damaging.) I think it’s common for many writers but here’s to believing that over time there’s more making and less faking.

  22. Jake Mcspirit on

    Amy,

    This is a great strategy, and one that I also discovered ‘accidentally.’ Though it hasn’t led to any great clients just yet, it has definitely got me some views on my profile.

    A little bit of tweaking and I’m sure that these views could be converted into potential jobs.

    Thanks for bringing this back to mind,
    Jake.

          • Diane Bucka on

            Hi Amy,
            Your article and these great comments inspired me to jump over to your website. In keeping with your suggestion to offer bits of help, I noticed a small error in the 2nd para of your home page content (“is ensures”). You’ve reminded me of the importance of using LinkedIn as a key marketing tool; thanks for the insights!

      • Carol Tice on

        I did a lot of work on my LI profile at one point, positioned myself as an experienced business writer in Seattle, and ended up with Costco, TrueBlue, and Alaska Airlines as clients as a result — three Fortune 500s. You won’t believe who’s doing searches on LI looking for freelancers.

          • Carol Tice on

            Use the keywords you want to get found on, Raspal — and be active on the platform. Update your status every week. Keep building your connections. Be active in groups. I think LI’s search engine takes all that into account in returning search results.

  23. Philippa Willitts on

    I really agree that joining groups that relate to your target client is important. It’s tempting to join endless number of freelance writing groups and, while these can be helpful, they are not the way to demonstrate your knowledge and specialism to people who may want to hire you.

    By joining groups in your target clients’ niche, you can show that you are an expert in your field and start to impress them!

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