Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #4: How to Get Great Clients in 60 Seconds

Ever been tongue-tied at a networking event?

Somebody asked, “And what do you do?”

And you said, “I’m a freelance writer.”

So far so good.

But then they followed up with… “So, what kind of writing do you do? Who have you written for?”

And everything fell apart.

You didn’t know what to say.

How can you prevent this problem?

You need a “me” speech

I was introduced to this concept by IJ Schecter, author of 102 Ways to Earn Money Writing 1,500 Words or Less.

What’s a “me” speech?

It’s a short script about yourself. It tells what type of writing you do — white papers? blog posts? — and what types of clients you do it for. National magazines? Trade publications? Small businesses? The Fortune 500?

If you have a specialized industry you cover, it talks about that too.

I had developed a “me” speech over the years. I just never thought of it as that. But that’s what it is.

If you don’t have one, you should write one.

Why?

Networking happens everywhere

Even if you think you will never go to an official networking event, you should write a “me” speech.

You never know when an opportunity to find a client will appear — at a family dinner, in an elevator, at a professional conference. Be ready to take advantage of that moment.

Also, writing the speech helps you clarify what you’re doing, and the types of clients you’re looking for.

What are you looking for?

I remember being flummoxed the first time a networker asked me who my ideal client is. The question made me realize they weren’t small businesses anymore. Which is what that particular room was full of.

I needed to find new networking groups where my ideal clients were hanging out.

Once I did, I was able to get much better-paying gigs.

When you crystallize what you’re looking for, that helps people in your network find it for you. It also helps you ask for it with confidence.

What’s my “me” speech?

Right now, I’d say “I’m a freelance writer specializing in business. I write articles for national magazines and websites, blog for Entrepreneur, and write for big companies in Seattle and around the world.”

My “me” speech has changed a lot over the years. Remember to review and update your speech now and then, as your career progresses.

Final tip: Practice saying your “me” speech out loud, to make sure it’s conversational. You don’t want to sound like you’re reading your resume.

What’s your “me” speech? Write one and leave it in the comments below.

Need more marketing help? Here’s a place where you can get a bunch…

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28 comments on “Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #4: How to Get Great Clients in 60 Seconds
  1. I never really gave this much thought, but I guess I do have a “me” speech. When people ask me what I do, I start with: “I’m a freelance writer that’s trapped in the corporate world”. If they ask what I write, I add: “I write gardening articles for on-line magazines, short stories and a blog about what it means to be a writer.”

    That has never landed me a writing gig, and outside of the content mill, I haven’t managed to land a paying freelance job anywhere – which is why I am still trapped in the corporate world. But I am finding this website invaluable and am hoping I can learn enough to quit being intimidated with the marketing end of being a writer finally make my freelance career a reality. Thank you, Carol!
    Judith

  2. Jill Harp says:

    Tip #4 could not have come at a better time for me, having my first network meeting this week. Thank you for the great tips so far, I have been making the most of them and find them extremely beneficial.

    Here’s my Me Speech. I’d appreciate feedback.

    I am a freelance writer and editor. I write feature articles for local publications, write and edit website content, marketing pieces and plans, other documentation and write grants. My clients range from small to corporate sized businesses and non-profits.

    Thanks,

    Jill

    • Carol Tice says:

      Now try to turn that into 6-8 words, Jill. Mine is, “I help freelance writers make more money.” See if you can create a statement like that. Because at a networking event, you’ll never have time to say all that stuff. It’s not conversational…comes off like you memorized a speech. Shorter is better.

      • Jill Harp says:

        Thank you. How about:

        I help clients produce the best written product so they look good and/or positively affect others.

        I have a feeling you will tell me to stop the sentence at product. Thanks for your quick response and support.

        Jill

  3. This post has been so helpful to me. This year I hope to increase my freelance work and have been struggling with self doubt. Now I have a starting point of how to narrow down what I want to do and how to promote it. Thank you.
    My first attempt of the ‘me’ speech : I am a freelance writer specializing in blog posts for mid-sized business’ and editorial articles for magazines.

    I would appreciate feedback if you have time.
    Thank you
    Mandy

  4. Trevor says:

    As a wearer of many hats I have several sentences prepared ahead of time for each of my enterprises that I mix and match depending on the situation. Networking really does happen everywhere, I just met a prospective client in my local grocery store, another at the farmers market, and a third walking my dog. Thanks for the tips!
    Trevor recently posted…10 Ways to Increase the Nutrient Density of Your Homegrown ProduceMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Trevor — love those true life stories of finding clients on the fly — and good point to have a few versions of your speech ready to mix’n match depending on the situation.

  5. Sara says:

    This is what I usually say. Is it too basic? I don’t really have a niche yet.

    “I’m a freelance writer. I write content for blogs, websites, company marketing materials, that sort of thing. “

  6. I remember the blank desperation of trying to come up with a “me” speech on the spot when I first started freelancing!

    Now I have several, to suit different people I might bump into. These are my 3 most useful speeches:

    1) “I help writers and non-writers become successful freelance bloggers so that they can increase their income and work from anywhere.”

    2) “I give tech companies clear, authentic blog posts as well as web copy and user guides. Because I love social media, I help them to be cool online that way too.”

    3) “I write witty, engaging blog posts on alternative lifestyle, pop culture and sexuality topics for a handful of niche sites. They get extra niche bonus points from my background as an alternative pin-up model!”

    It’s been a while since I wrote those out and gave them some thought – thanks for the refresher!

  7. Thomas says:

    I had to Google the word ‘flummoxed’ to see if it was something I would like to have happen to me.
    It is, and I cannot wait to get flummoxed, or flummox someone at my next networking event.

    As usual, great post Carol!

    Thomas
    Thomas recently posted…An Award: We were nominated!My Profile

  8. Neil says:

    Ok My Me speech.

    “Hi, I’m Neil and I am a freelance writer here in the Denver area. I have completed projects with blogging, sales letters and a variety of copy work. I write articles for various publications and companies. In fact, I have written copy on a global level. I am always on look-out for new writing opportunities.”

    yes? no? maybe ?:)

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s about what you’ve done, like a resume.

      Great “me” speeches are about how you help the client.

      For instance, mine is, “I help freelance writers make more money.”

      You want it that short.

      Now: What do you do?

  9. Page Huyette says:

    This is a valuable skill to work on. In my marketing and website design e-course, I provide students with multiple scenarios (casual and professional) then ask them to modify their pitch according to the audience and environment. We practice in adverse conditions such as high winds, phone call interruptions and other real-life situations to get the pitch or me speech to the point where if feels comfortable. I also encourage students that are uncomfortable with public speaking to have several two word phrases that they feel comfortable saying to throw out there. That way they can just string some other words on either side of them, getting the general idea across.

  10. Sophia says:

    Thank you so much for your sharing and remind. I definitely need to think over the “me” speech, although I am not a freelance writer. But I also should need to think over what kind of my blog site and which kind of customer is my traffic.
    Sophia recently posted…Forex Robots Are DangerousMy Profile

  11. Linda says:

    The great thing about the “me” speech is that it challenges you to get really comfortable with talking about what you do. It’s completely transparent — no sales speak.I have tweaked mine over time (since learning about it first in Carols’ Freelance Writers Den), and I find the the more casual, friendly and concise it gets, the better I feel about my choice of career.

    • Nicki says:

      Mine goes like this:

      So, what do you do?

      I’m a corporate copywriter. Basically, I write marketing pieces, like brochures, website copy, newsletters and advertisements for small to mid-size businesses.

      It’s pretty basic…maybe I need to say more:)

  12. doug_eike says:

    Having a short answer for who you are and what you do is indeed important. People who are unable to state who they are and what they do in two or three concise sentences exhibit either a lack of self-confidence or of focus, either of which will defeat any networking, social, or other goals for the conversation. Writing out a well-thought-out version and memorizing it is time well spent. Thanks for the insights!
    doug_eike recently posted…The TreeMy Profile

  13. You are so right about the “me” speech. Knowing who I am and what I can do is very important. There was a time I was working on a lot of online projects and the question about the type of writing that I’m doing made me pause, think, and classify…I wan’t really prepared to answer it. Now, after one year of managing SEO projects, I know what to say. Thank you Carol. Merry Christmas!
    Jonan Castillon recently posted…Sharing Christmas Spirit through CarolingMy Profile

  14. Josh Sarz says:

    Wow, I never really thought about making a “me” speech. I had an elevator pitch, but I’m not sure if it’s the same thing. Let me make one up from scratch..

    “Hi, I’m Josh. I’m a freelance writer who blogs at sagoyism.com. I talk about finding ways to enjoy life, and how to bring our words to life through writing. I enjoy doing blog posts, fiction and short stories. If you need any of a ghostwriter for your business or for your book, I’m the writer for the job.”

    How’s that Carol? Heh Does it sound awkward? Oh, and Merry Christmas!
    Josh Sarz recently posted…Christmas in a Strange PlaceMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sounds good generally, but I think good me speeches don’t have a sales pitch at the end — too pushy. They’re just about educating people about what sort of writing you do.

      I think a good thing to add is a description of the sort of clients you’re looking for right now.

  15. jean says:

    Currently, this is my ‘me’ speech…

    ABOUT ME:
    I move people to become inspired to manifest change by revealing the artist in each in order to create the design of their own life. I do this through writing, speaking, consulting and coaching.
    jean recently posted…Have A Brand You Can Be Proud OfMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think we go too far down the road in that speech before we find out what it is you actually do. And all the manifesting their artistry stuff might be a turnoff for loads of people who aren’t part of the crystals-and-yoga type community. Maybe you only want those type of clients? In that case it might work well, but if you want business clients I’m not so sure about this approach.

      Do you only write for artists? Or are you a writing coach? I’m not totally clear.