How to Find Freelance Writing Clients (And Stop Giving Money Away)

As most of you know if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, I’m in the middle of a big project for a writer pool. It’s for Constant Content, a great site that I love and highly recommend. But I’m starting to realize something. If I’m going to write articles that are quick and require only a small bit of research, I can really make a good amount of money there, particularly if I know what to write about, and what’s popular. But they do, of course, have a commission fee. The fee is rather small. It’s a 35% fee, so I make 65% of everything I make. Not bad. 

But this writer pool has made me realize something. I’m giving money away. Just handing it away. Yes, they edit my work and yes, I think they deserve to make money off my writing. After all, they’re providing me with a great opportunity. But when I look back over my month, I realize that I’ve given away just over $1,600 in commission. What I mean by “give away” is that people were willing to pay, say, $20 for an article, but I only got $13. 

These clients don’t materialize from the bowels of Constant Content’s Warlock Room. They’re out there. In the real world. So if these clients exist somewhere, then surely we as freelance writers can go out and find the clients, as well, and make 100% of the money. Not the exact Constant Content clients, that’s against the rules, but my point is, there are clients out there willing to pay big bucks – like up to $120 an article – for subjects like technology, finance, and real estate. 

But this is what I’ve realized a lot of freelance writers do when they go to prospect businesses. They drum up a huge list of email addresses from Manta, blast an email essentially saying hey I’m a freelance writer and this is what I do, and let it go at that. Ask me how I know. Why did I start prospecting this way? Because that’s what I’d read. 

But then I started thinking about it. When you go to pitch a magazine, you don’t say hey I’m a writer, hire me. You say “You know what, I think you could use an article about this and this is how I can provide that content.” If you go to apply for a job, even, you usually craft a cover letter that doesn’t just say “This is what I do” but “This is what I can do for you.” 

So when you think about prospecting for freelance writing clients, you have to think about quality over quantity. I came from corporate sales, where it was make as many calls and send as many emails as you can in a day. But for this profession, it’s quite different. You sell quality, so send a quality proposal. 

Think about it another way. If you owned a flower shop and you got two emails, one that said “I’m Jen, a freelance writer in your area, and I create content. Let me know if you need any,” and one that said “I’m Jen, a freelance writer in your area. I noticed your website is beautiful, but is lacking content. Did you know that adding a few articles can help drive traffic to your site? I think a couple of articles on which flowers make great Valentine’s Day gifts would be great for your site, and I specialize in web content. Let me know if you’d like to discuss the opportunity.” Or something. What would you go for? The latter, of course. 

I realized that sending out a lot of emails saying hey I’m a writer, let me know if you need content is much like a doctor sending out flyers saying hey I’m a doctor, let me know if you’re sick. You’re the doctor, shouldn’t you be telling me that I should get a checkup? You’re the doctor of websites, and if content is missing the website is sick. So if you can, offer some solutions as to how you can help them. Most of the time, business owners have no clue that they need content. Asking them to let you know if they need content is often like asking a question in Greek. They don’t understand what you mean. 

So I’m going to try an experiment. This week and into the beginning of December I’m going to start pitching prospects instead of mass emailing them or cold calling to see what happens. I’ll keep you informed. 🙂 I think it’s a common sense thing that just hit me. I probably should have realized it sooner. But then again, this is the process of learning. 

What are some things that dawned on you during your freelance writing career? Share in the comments!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Courtney…the downside to pursuing clients independently is that you will end up chasing payments. That has been my experience. Either the payments didn’t come or they came in much later. Which is why I prefer to work through escrow funding on Elance. Especially since my location keeps changing, the model works for me. But yes your thought process on pitching to clients sounds great and I wish you the best! Hope it works out 🙂

    1. courtneyherz says:

      I completely agree. Actually, I even ended up with that problem on Elance. I’ve found that really sticking to your guns about price, and requiring an up-front payment can be your best bet with independent clients. I always keep places like Constant Content, Kindle, and Textbroker as part of my income stream, at least for now, because they don’t miss payments lol. But I also think if you use tools like Manta and company research tools to find qualified prospects, you can score some professional clients that pay in a timely manner. Thank you for your feedback!!! 🙂

  2. Joshua R says:

    This information is great !!!

    Write a freelance guide book please !!! (Remember me if you do haha !)

    Great stuff keep up the great work !

    J

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi Josh!

      Thanks! Actually I am about to wrap up an eBook called “The Top 25 Mistakes New Freelance Writerd Make (And How to Avoid Them)” 🙂 It will be published towards the end of the month on the Kindle. So glad you find this information helpful!

      Courtney

      1. Joshua R says:

        I was trying to email you but i couldn’t find an email address for you on your blog or website.

        So here was my email

        I have a blog on word press and have recently seen you are a freelance writer. I am currently searching for freelance contacts that could assist me with some advice. If only you have some spare time.

        I am studying freelance journalism at an open uni, but don’t actually want to be a journalist. My dream is to become a freelance writer. I have read all the books on becoming a freelance writer and have hit a wall (not writers block)

        I just wanted some personal advice from the pro’s (you) with experience. You seem to know what your talking about.

        Anyways…

        I was wondering if you could help me, and give me some advice about starting a career a freelance writer.

        I have several articles of my own published online but they are only for petty sites that are no where near famous.

        I was wondering if you had any advice for me to get my articles published online and to generate some income? Even if it is tiny profit.

        I have had articles published online but none of them were commissioned.

        Thanks for reading this

        I look forward to your reply

        I LOVE YOUR BLOG !!!!!

        Josh

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