So you’ve set up your freelance writing business, and now you want to grow it quickly: more clients, more projects, more money rolling in. Today, or at least this month.
I’d love to say it’s easy, but it’s not, if you don’t know what you’re doing. I didn’t, and my business grew painfully slowly for a long time, even though I was putting out good work, getting great feedback and getting published in a range of publications.
Here are six things I wish I’d done to grow my freelance writing business, quickly.
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Networking is a great way to gain clients and hear about writing opportunities. You'll also find that networking is effective to market your business once you've achieved your initial client goals.
If I’d known better, I’d have used these 30 networking tips in the first month of launching my business. I’d have guest blogged more and reached out to other writers for advice. I’d also have put together a list of dream publications and clients I wanted to work for, and started to reach out to them, sharing their content, commenting on their sites and blogs, perhaps even sending them a quick email to introduce them to me and my services.
Want a super affordable breakdown of how I’d have got it right from the start, if only I’d known better? Read my ebook The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Networking.
Referrals, endorsements and testimonials
I missed this step entirely, but when you start out, one way to grow quickly is to make sure everyone knows what you’re doing. Ask friends, family and associates to refer you to anyone they know who uses freelance copywriters or content creators.
Tell your friends, acquaintances and all your Facebook connections you’re looking for freelance work. Once you've got your first few clients and they're happy, ask them for referrals. Reward clients who send you new clients with a discount or credit for your services.
Ask happy clients to endorse you on LinkedIn or send over a quick testimonial. If a client sends you a positive email (even just ‘we really love the website copy you sent over’) ask if you can use that as a testimonial, on your site, on your LinkedIn profile, or in prospecting emails to new clients.
Job sites like Upwork, Guru and Freelancer have a bad reputation, but they can be a great place for a brand new freelancer to gain experience. They can also be useful for building your business and getting those first few clients (and referrals, endorsements or testimonials). I don’t advise job sites as a long-term strategy for freelance writers, but your business may well grow quicker if you use them in the very early days.
Most job sites entail commission fees so you'll need to factor those in when calculating what to charge. Or you could try Hubstaff Talent, the only job site I know of that doesn't charge freelancers a fee. I haven't used it myself yet, but according to this article, over 7000 freelancers are using the platform already.
Even after your freelance writing business is established you may turn to job sites from time to time for extra money. Or to fill in gaps in your schedule.
Consider starting a blog in the niche you want to specialize in. Blogging establishes authority, builds your portfolio and helps you drive traffic to your business. It also establishes your brand and helps you connect with potential clients. Guest blog for others as well: for pay if you can, and for free (occasionally) to network, expand your reach and build your portfolio.
One of the best ways to build your business is to publish. You're a writer. Get your name and your content out there. Publish online. Publish in print if possible. Don’t turn down work early on unless the pay is truly abysmal and there is no other advantage (such as showcasing your writing on a popular site).
Use blogging and open access sites to establish a name for yourself. Publish an ebook if that’s something that appeals to you. You keep copyright of everything you publish, so you can always consider re-packaging and re-selling anything you publish on your own blog or open access sites later on.
If there’s one thing I’d change about my early days, I’d invest a little more time and money in my freelance writing business. Free tools are great (I wrote the book on free tools) but by investing in your education, training, and business, you accelerate your learning curve and your growth.
Have just $30 or so to invest right now? You might like my new Freelance Writer’s Success Kit. Have more than that? Consider a course like Write Your Way to Your First $1K course or the excellent Blog Writing Bootcamp. Have exactly $0? Invest time. Look for free information and trainings online, or go to your local library and check out some books on writing craft, blogging or running a business. There’s always something to learn, whatever your budget.
Not sure where to start pitching your freelance pieces? Download the FREE guide, Freelance Writing Markets That Pay Writers. Just pop your email in the form below and I’ll send it over to you.
Disclosure: When I recommend books and other products readers may find helpful, some links are affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. My affiliate earnings allow me to offer all the information on this site and in the newsletter for free. Thanks in advance if you decide to help support the site in this way.
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