How to find freelance clients

I lost a client this week.

Bum.

big bang theory foetal position

It happens. That’s what freelancing is all about. You work hard to find the client, you get the client and then you lose the client. It might happen after a week or after five years, but it’s bound to happen at some point. But then what? That’s a nice little chunk of my monthly income gone and it needs to be replaced, that’s what.

How do you find freelance clients? Whether you’re looking for a replacement client (like me) or your first ever client, the answer is pretty much the same.

Job boards

This is where I found this particular client, so it’s tempting to go back there to find someone new. I generally check out Problogger every now and then for something tasty.
If you find an advert you like, you simply apply as per their instructions which often involves emailing them with a little about yourself and links to clips.

The pros are that there are a variety of jobs advertised, some of which are boring (technology, money, fashion – my own opinion, obviously) but every now and then you get a little diamond.

The cons are that they often want U.S writers or the role is American orientated. Can’t say how many jobs I’ve found on there that I could do well if only I knew anything about that particular state (I only just discovered it existed!).

You also need to be aware of any tests that the employer may set you. Many companies test their applicants, but really think about that test before you indulge them. I once applied for a job that implied that listening to one of their hour and a half podcasts and writing a synopsis would help to secure the job. That’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

But then, that’s life. I went to a physical interview last month where I was asked to write a blog post, despite the fact that I’d already sent them two or three blog post clips I’ve already written about that particular topic.

Pitch someone new

Rather than waiting for the publication or company to advertise their needs, why not approach them. If you want to start writing for a particular magazine, newspaper, e-zine, blog or website then make contact and pitch them ideas (I’ll post more about this soon).

There are lists of paying websites and blogs all over the internet, but here’s just one with loads of ideas. Make sure you read the submission guidelines carefully and stick to them! We all like a maverick but editors usually have guidelines for a reason.

Market yourself

Similarly, if you’re after getting into a trade publication or looking for a company to write for, then send them a Letter of Introduction (LOI). There are a number of ways of doing this, but basically this is a form of sales letter that introduces you to the company and allows you to pitch two or more ideas at one time.

It can be a good idea to find a company that is lacking what you provide, for example a neglected blog or poorly written newsletter. But if there’s a company you’d love to write for then contact them. The worst that will happen is they’ll say no (and people move jobs fairly often, so you can always pitch again in the future).

This can also be a good time to revive all contacts on your social media networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Have a chat with old colleagues and business friends and see if anyone knows of a vacancy. Or you could try meeting new people at a networking event local to you or online.

Try something new

As one door closes, another one opens, especially if there’s a pulley system in place…

 

 

Losing a client is a good opportunity to sit back and think about what you’re doing. What direction are you heading in and is the right one for you. I’ve been looking at the work I’ve done for my client and deciding what I enjoyed and what I didn’t. It’s given me a refreshed focus and new motivation, which is never a bad thing.

A change in direction might be to focus on a new niche or approach new outlets (for example if you write for parenting magazines, maybe you’d like to also write for children’s magazines). Or you can step it up and move away from pitching magazines to trying to secure some content or copywriting clients, or vice versa.

 

So off I go to find a replacement client. Do you have any other tips for finding new paid work?

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