Vblogging is considered the new hotness for social media, because videos give people another way to consume content and searchengines love them. I’m experimenting with vlogging, so I created the video below to share some tips on finding freelance clients.
That said, I know some of you prefer reading, so I’ll sum up some of the main points below. Many writers struggle to find decent-paying clients, so they look to bidding sites, content mills, and job boards. Occasionally, they’ll find a gem, but most of these projects peanuts. That’s why I encourage you to use your network instead! Here are the five groups in my network that I often use for finding freelance writing projects.
- Past employers
When you leave your full-time job, you can offer to train your replacement or perform some of your old responsibilities on a freelance basis. That makes for a smoother transition and gives your employer the option to use your expertise on occasion without paying a full-time salary and benefits. When I left my last full-time job, freelancing for my previous employer gave me more stability and allowed me to stay on good terms with my boss as I transitioned to full-time freelancing. If you don’t negotiate freelance terms before leaving your job, you could always reconnect with your employer via LinkedIn and let them know you’re available for freelance projects.
Marketing and advertising agencies, consulting firms, and copywriting companies sometimes need outsource expertise to meet their clients’ needs. Often, agencies set up subcontracting agreements, so they’ll serve as the point of contact for the client and pay you out of the money they client pays for the project. That allows you to focus on the work rather than finding the work or communicating directly with the client. Also, agencies can sometimes land bigger clients than an individual writer could land on her or his own.
- Creative staffing firms
In the past, I’ve been critical of creative staffing firms, but recently they’ve approached me with some much more appealing gigs. Like agencies, they can sometimes land bigger clients than you’d get on your own and they take care of some of the business development for you, but creative staffing firms aren’t actually doing any of the work, they’re just recruiting for their clients. I’ve gotten some interest from recruiters through my listings on LinkedIn and CreativeHotList.com, so I think those can be a good place to start. You can also ask other freelancers for referrals or refer freelancers you know, as some creative staffing firms offer a referral bonus.
- Current clients
Assuming you deliver what the client wants, it’s easier to convince them to hire you again than it is to find a brand new client and gain their trust. I've found that the best way to land repeat assignments is to do your best work and suggest ways you can work together in the future. Maybe you’re blogging for a corporate client and you notice they don’t have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed to promote those posts. Look for holes and position yourself as the person to fill them. Also stay in touch via LinkedIn or email so you can stay on their radar.
- Other freelancers
A lot of people see other freelancers as competition but your freelance friends and professional organizations can be a great source of referrals or partnerships (not to mention commiseration). You might get a referral from another writer who is too busy to take on more work or who feels that the client’s needs are outside their area of expertise. Or if the freelancer wants to stay involved with the client, they might suggest a subcontracting arrangement so they can oversee the project. Also try to find freelancers in related areas that you could partner with. I sometimes refer graphic designers or photographers to my clients and sometimes they’re in a position to do likewise.
Ultimately, it comes down to building your network and being generous with referrals and information. It won’t happen overnight, but these relationships can pay off months or even years later, so keep at it. If you build a strong network and consistently deliver high-quality work, then you may find yourself offering more frequent referrals and able to choose the work you love because you’re so busy.
Credit Image: Images of Money on Flickr
Susan Johnston is a full-time freelance writer who covers business and lifestyle topics for a variety of print and online publications. She also blogs about her adventures in writing at The Urban Muse.
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