Before I dive into exactly how to find new clients as a freelance writer, I think this post deserves a disclaimer: If you are reading this and you haven’t even started your freelance writing career yet, then you should close this tab and start reading something else first. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. While there are tons of things to know before you begin freelancing, finding new clients is something that is simpler than you would think — and something that lots of people get so overwhelmed by that they never start freelancing at all. This second part is why I always advise that people actually start to freelance (AKA pitching every day, writing every day) before they panic about finding a thousand clients. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people who have panicked about finding new clients before they’ve even sent a single pitch.
Still, finding editors and publications that are willing to pay you for your work is important, so the below tips can probably help you no matter where you are in your freelancing journey – that is, if you’re determined to not let any of the below overwhelm you. Consider the below tips as confirmation that there are a thousand different, effective ways to find new freelance writing clients, not that there is only a few ways to do it correctly.
Follow Editors On Social Media
If there are certain publications you like, consider finding specific editors of those publications and relevant sections and following them on their public social media profiles. Make sure to keep an eye out not just for when they’re looking for certain pitches or writers, but also on what work they’re sharing. What kinds of stories do they seem most proud to share? What kind of content do they seem focused on? Important: This DOES NOT MEAN you should message them asking for information on any of these things. This isn’t because editors are mean or will blacklist you for doing just this, but in general it’s always a good idea to try to avoid asking questions that you could likely find the answers to yourself through a little research (what types of stories they’re looking for, etc.).
There are cases where I think cold emailing an editor is OK, particularly if you’ve known each other for a while (maybe you’ve both followed each other on social for a long time, or worked together at a previous publication?), but in general make a point to ask yourself “Could I find the answer to this myself?” before hitting send on an email to an editor. It will benefit you in the long-run.
Join Freelance Networking Groups
Freelance networking groups are everywhere, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram. Searching for things like “freelance writers group” or “freelance writing gigs” or “freelance writing opportunities” will likely yield thousands of results that are connected to different communities of writers. In general, the more you connect with other freelance writers, the more opportunities will come your way. Maybe this means you find a certain hashtag on Instagram you love to follow and engage with, or a Facebook group of freelance writers who all focus on your specific area of expertise. Maybe it means you make a point of having a monthly coffee date with another freelance writer you respect. The bottom line is that the more freelancers you know, the more you’ll be recommended for gigs and the more you will be associated with people who are also doing good freelance work. That’s always a good thing.
Share. Your. Work.
I write this tip as someone who, admittedly, does not do this enough. I’m one of the most active freelance writers I know in terms of social media, but I can’t tell you how many people still have no idea that I am a freelance writer. Just a few months ago someone messaged me asking what my job was, and one of my first thoughts was wondering how many editors might follow me and not know what my job is. That question alone should have instantly propelled me to share my work more on social media, but I still have to remind myself on a weekly basis to do it. Sometimes, I avoid it because the stories are vulnerable (essays about body image, for example). Other times, I don’t do it because I think my followers won’t be interested in the content (home cleaning stories, for example). The bottom line, though, is that self-promotion is an important to your career when you’re a freelance writer. You never know who is going to see your work and connect with your content, writing style, or perspective. Sharing one story you’re proud of just might be the difference of getting one new gig or missing it altogether.
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