10 Ways to Find Your First Freelance Writing Clients
Finding clients is always the hardest part of any job. It can be especially challenging for freelancers because you don't have an employer with a consistent workflow to rely on for steady work.
But even though you may not know anyone right now who needs writing done, there are still plenty of ways to find your first freelance client(s):
1. Use social media
This may sound obvious, but it's an opportunity you want to make sure you're not overlooking. Make a list of your current connections on Facebook and Twitter (and beyond), then think about how they might be able to introduce or refer you to someone else who needs writing done. Beyond that, if there are any local Twitter chats you're involved with, consider mentioning your freelance writing services there.
Mentioning that you're available for hire to everyone who follows you on social media is definitely not an effective strategy for landing clients (if it were, everyone would be doing it.) But if one of your friends follows someone who needs writing done and forwards the message to you, that's a win.
2. Post in writing forums
There are plenty of places online where you can post about your services. Check out the "Help Wanted" boards on Craigslist or Reddit if you're looking for low-cost options. Just be sure not to spam or self-promote too much—post once every few days at most, and only when you have something useful to say.
In addition, make sure you search for writing-specific forums and groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Meetup.com, and anywhere else that comes up in a search. You can usually find a mix of writers looking for clients as well as people posting about jobs they're trying to fill themselves.
3. Attend networking events
Most towns have networking events specifically for freelancers, and attending even just a few of these can lead to clients quickly. This is not only through direct referrals but by helping you gain confidence and making connections that may turn into friendships or future work down the road. If there aren't any in your area, start one up! It's pretty easy to do online with tools like Meetup.com.
4. Reach out to authors on Amazon and Goodreads
If you're a reader who is passionate about certain genres, then it's likely that the authors of those books are as well (and they might even need writing work done.) Search for your favorite writers on Facebook and send them a private message introducing yourself and your services. If you're a reader of their work, they're likely to be flattered that someone is reaching out, especially if you have a good reason for doing so (i.e., they've been an inspiration in your own writing).
5. Blog about it
If you don't already have a blog, start one! It doesn't even have to be about your niche or anything in particular—just keep it up-to-date.
The next time you find yourself looking for a client, write a post sharing the fact that you're available to do work like theirs, then link to relevant samples of your previous work (or tell them to email you). If they like your blog, chances are they'll be more willing to hire you.
6. Read "how I found clients" interviews online
When you find someone who has managed to land their first few clients, stalk them! They usually love sharing how they did it and how it's working out for them and will often respond to messages from other writers who want to know how they did it themselves.
7. Don't be afraid to send cold emails
Not everyone is going to reply when you reach out, but that's okay—that's a chance you have to take if you want to find a freelance client. You can use a tool like Typeform or Survey Monkey to create a survey that helps you determine what specifically your potential client needs (and if you're willing to do the job) before reaching out.
8. Hone your elevator pitch
When you find someone at an event who might be able to help, keep them engaged in the conversation long enough to give them a clear idea of what you can offer (and don't forget to mention the fact that you're flexible on price.) This might be tough if you're naturally introverted, but it helps if you keep your pitch short and sweet.
9. Don't get discouraged
The freelance business can be a very slow-growing type of career, but if you're willing to dedicate the time and effort it takes, there are lots of people out there who will contact you. Just make sure that every message you send out is personalized, well-written, and—most importantly—relevant.