“How do I find all the paying clients I want?”
If you’re a new freelance writer or if you’re someone with a side-hustle, chances are that same question is running through your mind. Clients, after all, are the lifeblood of your business. They enable you to generate income to pay the bills, they help build your portfolio, and in many cases, they also pave the way for new clients.
But how exactly can you find all the paying clients you want?
Answer: there are a lot of ways. And in this post, we’ll discuss 19 client-hunting tips that you can try. There’s something here for everyone. Whether you’re a “people person” who likes going out and talking to others, or you’re more reserved and prefer to interact with people online, you’ll be able to put several of these tactics to action.
Check them out.
1. Talk to your friends and family – This is the low-hanging fruit of networking. Your friends and family can be a great source for gigs and leads, so talk to them and see if they can send projects your way.
For example, when I was starting out as a freelance writer, one of my first “clients” was my then-boyfriend (now husband). He developed a mobile app, and I stepped up to write the app description for iTunes. I also wrote press releases to drum up publicity for the app, and I used those articles as portfolio pieces when I approached other clients.
2. Reach out to the businesses you frequent – Where do you get your hair done? Are you chummy with the owner of your local coffee shop or car wash? Have a casual chat and mention that you’re a freelance writer.
You don’t have to go for the hard sell here. Sometimes, just casually bringing it up can open up doors. For instance, when I was planning my wedding, my DJ actually ended up as a client. He was in the middle of updating his website, and when he found out that I was a writer, he hired me to rewrite his site’s content.
3. Reach out to websites you love – Ever tried hitting up your favorite websites for potential my freelance work? You should. That’s how freelancer Ashley Hawley landed a writing client when she was fresh out of college.
“I had been following this website called Dear English Major for about year when I was still in school. After I graduated, I was looking for work in areas I was interested in, so I reached out to Alyssa Christensen, the owner of the site” shared Ashley.
Turns out, Alyssa did need some help with the website. So she asked Ashley to send her resume, they got to talking, and Ashley ended up freelancing for Dear English Major shortly afterward.
4. Turn to your colleagues (including former colleagues) – If you have a day job, mention your side gig with the people you work with to see if they can send you freelance work. Not comfortable talking about your writing business at work? Hit up your former colleagues instead.
Case in point: as a freelance writer, I kept in touch with my previous colleagues and bosses. I added them on LinkedIn and struck up conversations every once in awhile. Doing all that paid off. When my former boss moved on to a new company and needed a writer, I was the first person he turned to.
Why? For one thing, we’ve worked together in the past, so he was familiar with my style and work ethic. Plus, me keeping in touch with him kept me top of mind, so when the need for a writer came up, he thought of me.
5. Connect with fellow freelancers – You’d be surprised at how helpful your fellow freelancers can be. I regularly send gigs and referrals to my writer friends, and I often get referrals from other freelancers.
6. Blog about your industry – Write useful, high-value articles geared towards your target client and submit them to websites they frequent. For instance, if you’re targeting realtors, you could write an article about home staging best practices and publish it on a popular real estate website.
How will this help you land clients? In addition to showing off your writing skills, publishing on industry websites increases your credibility. Potential clients will come across your excellent post, they’ll see you as an expert, and they just might get in touch.
7. Reach out to former clients – Maybe one of your former clients needs some content writing work done. I make it a point to keep tabs on the people who hire me by adding them on LinkedIn and following them on Twitter. This makes it easy for me to track what they’re up to, so I can connect if an opportunity comes up. For instance, if I discover that a former client started a new company or is working somewhere else, I reach out to them and make a pitch.
8. Get referrals from existing clients – Email your existing clients to see if they can refer you to other businesses. If you have a great working relationship with them, they’ll be more than happy to send others your way.
9. Head to a coworking space – Coworking spaces give you tons of opportunities to meet other freelancers and business owners — some of whom might benefit from your offerings.
10. Help someone else – Never underestimate the power of being genuinely helpful. Do you know an entrepreneur who needs advice? Does a fellow service provider need a social media shout out? Give it to them. You’ll make a fantastic impression and you might even land a paid gig out of it. (And even if you don’t, you get to help someone along the way.)
Case in point: A startup founder once reached out to me looking for advice on how to engage the media, so I gave him some tips free of charge. He was very grateful and went on his way, and I thought that was the end of that. But then he got in touch a few months later when he needed content, and he ended up hiring me for several projects.
11. Beef up your LinkedIn profile – Make it easy for prospects on LinkedIn to find you. Update your profile, choose a good headline, and incorporate relevant keywords. Doing so will increase the chances of your profile coming up when someone runs a search.
12. Use LinkedIn Groups – Join LinkedIn Groups in your niche and engage with their members. Let’s say you’re a freelance writer targeting SaaS companies. Join SaaS-related groups on LinkedIn and participate in the discussions.
Just avoid being overtly promotional. The key here is to share insights and help people. This will allow you to get in front of your target audience, and if you provide value in your posts and discussions, you might just catch a prospective client’s eye.
13. Find prospects using LinkedIn search – You can also take a more direct approach on LinkedIn. Run a search for companies in your industry, then send a message introducing yourself and offering your services.
14. Check out Reddit – Check out job-centric subreddits for hiring opportunities. You can visit subreddits such as r/forhire and r/hiring as well as r/HireaWriter, a subreddit specifically for freelance writing gigs.
15. Mine business directories for leads – Pick an industry or niche then try to find directories specific for that field. For instance, if you’re looking for tech startups, AngelList would be a good place to start. Targeting small businesses? Check out Manta. Go through these directories, find the contact details of potential clients, then reach out.
16. Mine trade expo websites for leads – Websites for industry expos and events can be another goldmine for potential clients. These events aren’t cheap, so companies that attend often have the budget to hire freelancers. Find an industry event in your niche, and see if they have an attendee list available. Build your prospect list from there.
17. Use lead websites – Need help building your lead list? Several lead-building services can help. LimeLeads, for instance, offers software that lets you build lists. Just enter your parameters and LimeLeads will serve up a contact list. There’s also Get Prospects, a service that can hand-curate leads depending on your needs.
18. Use SimilarWeb – Enjoy working for a particular client and wish you can find others like them? Enter their website URL into SimilarWeb’s search box, scroll down to the “Similar Sites” section and you’ll find sites akin to the one you entered.
19. Publish on LinkedIn – Use LinkedIn’s publishing platform to write an article geared towards your target customers (make sure it’s something relevant and high-value). Don’t stop there, though. Share the post in industry groups to help ensure it gets in front of the right people.