Starting a freelance business (or thinking about it) and wondering where to find clients? I found myself in that same situation when I decided to make the leap from a “real” job and pursue freelancing full time. I’d already been doing it part time for a few years before that, and even though I felt confident in my writing skills I wasn’t sure just where the money was going to come from. Here are a few tips for finding clients for your freelance writing business:
Freelance Platforms: I’ve had my best luck on Upwork. I started when it was still eLance.com, before it merged with oDesk. While some freelancers don’t like the fact that a fee is taken out of their pay, consider this: Those fees keep you from getting ripped off. Your client must have the money to pay you put into escrow, so they can’t skip out on the bill. And if there are any disputes, they all go through Upwork. I haven’t used any other freelance platforms, so I can’t attest to how good or bad they might be, but I’m an Upwork fan all the way.
Local Businesses: This is a great place to look for clients, especially if you’re working on building your CV. (There will be another post on this topic later.) Call up local businesses and ask to speak to the manager or the office manager. What you can do for them will depend on your specialty, but they may need help with social media posts, blogs, or editing their pamphlets. It may take quite a few phone calls (or in-person visits) to get a business on board, but I can honestly tell you that I have one local client who has been using me steadily for four years.
Little Gigs. Take something small, even if it’s not exactly what you want. Yes, I have taken an $8 job on Upwork before. It might not have been worth the time I put into it, but it gave me work history on that platform when I badly needed it. That job let others know that I did good work, so it was worth it in the long run.
Work for Free. I have seen so many arguments about this on writing forums, and people seem to be on one side or the other. Some believe that you should never write a single word without getting paid, while others believe that doing work for free is where you build your chops. Sure, we all want money, but you’ve got to be able to prove you’re worth being paid! Ask your local charities if they need help with their monthly newsletters or creating flyers. Small businesses who don’t feel they can actually afford to hire a writer might be willing to work out a trade deal. Either way, you’re getting credits on your CV!
Be Flexible. If someone offers you a job that isn’t entirely in your wheelhouse, take it! (Of course, my advice doesn’t stand if the job is something you can’t do.) When I was offered my first ghostwriting job, I really didn’t know what I was doing. But guess what? Almost all of my freelance work is now ghostwriting. That first job helped me find something that actually worked out better for me than I ever could have imagined! So even if you’re a little scared, go for it!
Follow Up. When you’ve finished a job for a client, let them know you’re available for more work. Tell them you’d be happy to work with them again if anything comes up. If they’re happy with the job you’ve done, they’ll come find you again! Sometimes, they’ll also refer to you to others in the industry who could use your help.
Remember that freelancing basically means you are constantly selling your skills. Don’t be afraid to get out there and tell someone what you can do or even point out how you can benefit them. When putting in a proposal, be sure to include your CV and any clips that might be applicable. Good luck!
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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.