After running my freelance writing business for more than 12 years, which I still do for a select group of corporate clients, I’ve learned quite a lot about the best ways to find work.
Freelancing comes with plenty of ups and downs…there are months when you can barely see straight because you’re so busy to weeks when you wonder if you’ll ever work again. When work seems to suddenly dry up, you can panic or pout—or you can take proactive steps to fill your calendar.
Today, I want to share five tactics that have always helped me go from slow to swamped.
1. Solicit Repeat Work
When facing an open stretch on your calendar, shoot an email to your client list. Let them know you’re taking new assignments. This process takes a few minutes and delivers at a high rate. Why shouldn’t it? These people know the quality of your work and realize you have no learning curve. If they have work to give, they’re happy to hand it off to someone they trust and don’t need to train.
2. Request Referrals
If your client outreach e ort doesn’t generate new projects, don’t stop at no. Follow up with the same people and ask for a referral. Let them know the types of clients you’re seeking and the projects for which you’re best qualified. Again, these are the people who know your work best. If they believe in you, they will likely have no problem referring you to others in their network, perhaps a coworker or a peer in their industry
3. Look for Connections
Make a list of companies you’d like to add to your client list. Research who hires writers at each and see if you find shared connections between you and them on LinkedIn. If so, send an email to the mutual connection and request a warm introduction. Mention your experience in similar industries, and explain that you’re looking to expand your client list. If the contact agrees to an introduction, follow up quickly with the prospect to further explain your qualifications and how you can help him or her.
4. Try Collaborations
Tap into your network of freelancers, which (hopefully) you’ve been cultivating over time. Email, call, or meet with peers and let them know you’re taking on new projects. Another writer may have too much work and would love to subcontract to you. Or a photographer or graphic designer may have a client who also needs copywriting. There’s real power in collaborating, but you’ll never know what’s out there until you ask.
5. Cast a Wide Net
Don’t overlook family and friends. We often forget that everyone (even our own cousins or high school classmates) are also working professionals with vast networks of their own. Post about your search for new clients on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks. Or, if a public outcry feels needy, send a polite email to those you trust.
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