When it comes to launching a freelance writing business, gaining some confidence and knowing the appropriate steps you need to take can give you the encouragement you need to start your freelance writing career today.
You can launch your business with a few key steps: researching your marketplace, creating your samples, discovering your unique value proposition and creating your pitch and marketing plan for building your business.
Researching the marketplace
You can’t launch a freelance writing business without knowing whether there is a demand for your services. You might have all the passion in the world for writing about a highly niched topic, but if there are no clients to hire you to do this work, it is unlikely you will be able to build a sustainable freelance writing business.
Doing your research in advance helps to clarify whether there are industries requesting freelance writers who are within your area of expertise or passion and who can clarify how you might narrow down your overall marketing plan. It is strongly recommended that you look at some of the freelance writing job boards out there to get a better handle on the types of work and industries in which your ideal clients are working. Bear in mind that not every client will post their job on one of these job boards. Some of the most common job boards include:
This research process is highly valuable for giving you a basic idea about whether there are companies out there you would like to work with. Remember that not every company will be interested in hiring freelancers.
Create your samples and discover your unique value proposition
Creating your work samples is crucial. You might want to conduct research into other freelance writers who specialise in the type of projects or industry that you do, just to give you a sense of what else is out there.
In addition, you must know your unique value proposition, which is what you – and only you – can offer the customer. While every writer can produce high-quality work, what is it about the experience of working with you that makes you different from other writers or from the client’s in-house writer? It could be that you deliver on time every time, or you guarantee originality, or maybe you have 20 years of experience in the field you are writing about.
Think about what makes you distinct from other writers and how you can stand out from the crowd. This is especially important as you launch your freelance writing career, since you may be using marketing methods like job boards, in which you will be directly competing with other freelance providers. Your samples should communicate your overall writing ability and be aligned with the type of projects the client is looking to hire.
Create your pitch/marketing plan
Creating your pitch and marketing plan is always the step that should be done after you create your samples because the very practice of creating your samples and identifying your unique value proposition can open your eyes as to what makes you different when compared with other writers.
Your pitch and marketing plan should be something you can stick with. Having a number in mind, be it the number of pitches you will send each week or the number of hours you will spend building your business, can help you work toward the accomplishment of growing your business and doing so successfully. Many freelance writers fall off if they send their first couple of pitches and don’t hear back or have a client who tells them they are not interested.
Here are some tips for creating a marketing plan:
Be prepared to cast a wide net with your weekly reach-outs or pitching. Plan to contact far more people than you will convert. Sending 25 pitches per week is a great way to get the ball rolling.
Set aside specific hours in your calendar for marketing work. When you first launch, I recommend five to ten hours per week.
Stick to your goals and hold yourself accountable; post your weekly pitching goal in a note on your desk or in a spreadsheet where you track your progress.
Do as much research as you can about specific marketing tips for your chosen platform (i.e., LinkedIn or cold emailing).
Keep notes about what pitches and marketing methods are most successful for you. Your top two marketing methods should be the ones you focus on.
When you are first starting off, the two easiest methods for finding clients are partnerships and freelance job boards. Forming partnerships with people who need your services, and already work with your ideal customer, is the fastest way to get an instant flood of clients. The key is to offer other businesses massive value in return for their partnership.
Provide a service that really makes the other business look great to their customers, and they will reward you with a mountain of referrals.
The possibilities are endless, but you have to be willing to think outside of the box to see make some of these connections work.
How to use freelance job boards
There are dozens of websites out there that are specifically designed to help freelancers find work and get paid. The most popular are Elance and oDesk.
Sites like these are fantastic starting points. You shouldn’t think of them as “forever” solutions to finding clients and growing your business, but they do provide some powerful advantages for the beginning freelancer:
They help you become comfortable with the idea of selling your services, tweaking your offer and understanding what clients are looking for.
They help you refine your pitch.
They build confidence by helping you get over the fear of rejection by enjoying the initial feeling of success, even if you only book a few small jobs.