There’s a big divide in the world of freelance writing. There are so many organisations out there that are creating content and looking for freelance writers, or companies who want to create content. But the trouble is, they don’t know where to find good writers. That’s where you come in. This post takes you through the best ways for freelance writers to find content marketing clients and to identify potential content writing clients. You may not have heard of these clients before, but there are plenty of organisations out there who have budgets and a need for freelance writers.
How freelance writers can find content marketing clients
One of the questions I get asked most in my coaching sessions is about how to become a content marketing writer and how to find content marketing clients.
Freelance content marketing jobs for writers are not always easy to find.
I’m definitely not a fan of job boards for writers, but if you are prepared to invest a little time and effort, there are thousands of companies who need writers.
There are three simple steps that freelance writers need to follow to find content writing clients.
Of course, these steps aren’t foolproof, but they are a great start if you want to become a content marketing writer.
I have used this technique regularly and it works.
In fact, I found one of my best content writing clients using this strategy.
In the last few years, I estimate I have earned over $80K from working with a client I found using these steps.
1. Brainstorm the kind of content you can create
Before you work out who to write for, you need to know what kind of content you can write.
I think freelance writers can sometimes get stuck thinking that they can only write blog posts or newsletter content.
But like the industry that you write for or within, the type of content you create can be really varied.
For example, can you write:
Thought leadership articles
(electronic) Direct mail campaigns (EDMs)
Social media posts
The list goes on.
Once you know the kind of content you can create, you’re ready to take the next step.
2. Pick your area of expertise or interest
Ok, so you know that I don’t believe that freelance writers must have a niche.
And I think the freelancers who are going to emerge strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic are those who have a diverse business.
But if you are a freelance writer and you’re looking to do more content marketing writing and/or B2B (that’s business to business) writing, it’s helpful to position yourself strategically.
I don’t have a background in business, but I write quite a lot of business content for organisations and agencies.
People find me through my LinkedIn profile, as well as seeing my byline on some of the articles they read in this space.
Even if you’re not 100 per cent sure what area you want to write in, pick something that you’re interested in, curious about, or experienced in and do the ground work.
There are endless industries you could write for, such as:
Sleep (yes, really!)
The wonderful content marketing writer and blogger Jennifer Gregory has a really great tip of adding technology to a niche.
For example if you write about healthcare, then think about whether you can write about healthcare technology.
If you write about sleep think about writing about sleep technology.
Jennifer suggests that “non-geek” writers add technology to their niche because the technology industry is booming.
This opens up the potential for freelance writers to get their foot in the door (and make good money) .
Writing about healthcare technology
Search: “healthcare technology company Australia” (or whatever country you are in).
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to stick to the country where you are living, but this shows you how to find those hidden gems of companies looking for writers.
If you do that search, there are a couple of likely results that will pop up initially.
You might see a few agencies that specialise in B2B content for the healthcare technology industry.
Or, you may find that national associations rank highly.
You’ll be able to see from the agencies’ websites the companies they have worked for.
Take note of these, because it’s unlikely an organisation or company would engage an agency if they didn’t have a healthy budget.
For associations, you can see their list of clients to get an idea of who is a member.
These are probably going to be relatively big organisations who are invested in having a voice in this area.
Then in the following search results you’ll find pages and pages of companies that fit the healthcare technology bill.
For example, one of the companies on the first page of my Google search had a “Knowledge Hub”.
This contained blogs, case studies, white papers, reports, webinars and patient stories.
Are you seeing where I’m going with this?
Someone has to create all that content.
And it’s your job to find out if there’s a spot for you.
Once you’ve looked through the first few pages of results, it’s time to systematically work your way through each agency, association or company to find out if they work with freelancers.
3. Find out if they work with freelance writers
Your mission is to find companies that use freelance writers, pay well, have regular work and are good to work for and with.
It’s hard to know all these things just from looking at a company’s website.
But there are a few nifty ways of working out if it’s worth sending a letter of introduction, or LOI.
a) Start a word document or excel spread sheet to keep track of your search results.
I have a really simple one that I use (shown below) – but you can make yours as fancy as you like.
Mine has eight columns:
Date (LOI) sent
Follow up date
b) Then go to LinkedIn to find content marketing clients.
In LinkedIn’s search bar, type in the name of the organisation and press enter.
You can see that there is a list underneath that says “People Jobs Content and More”
Click on “more” and then click on “companies”
This will give you a list of companies that share that name. Select the company that you want to research.
There will be a summary that has lots of company details – whether the company is privately held, when it started, and most importantly for this exercise, the company size.
Roughly speaking, a business that employs more than 50 people is probably going to have some kind of content strategy.
It’s also likely that they will be able to afford to pay a freelance writer decently.
To give you an idea, two companies that I write for that pay well (at least 90c/word or over $120/hour) have between 1,000 – 10,000 employees.
The smallest size company I’d recommend sending your LOI to is between 20 employees.
I have done a little bit of work for this size of organisation, but I’m usually dealing with an owner or marketing manager.
They are so busy that they usually don’t have time to dedicate to thinking about their content strategy.
They like the idea of regular content, but often don’t have the means to keep funding it, nor have a clear idea of the outcome they want.
Bigger companies may seem more daunting to approach, but they have specific people in charge of communications and marketing.
And these days it’s likely that they have a commitment to content creation.
I know lots of freelance writers who don’t like to use LinkedIn, but it’s such a great resource for us.
And I’ve found some great clients through the networking platform.
(As a side note – Copywriter John Espirian has a great post about using LinkedIn to find freelance work).
And of course, you want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is the best it can be.
c) Take action
Once you determine a company or organisation may be a good fit for your writing services, you should:
- send an invitation to connect to the communications manager, marketing manager or digital marketing manager,
- record it on your spread sheet or word document
- follow up if you don’t hear back
What you need to know about finding content writing clients
I can’t tell you how many LOIs I have sent out in the past six years. (I only started recording it 18 months ago, so take my advice and do it from the beginning!)
But it’s a lot.
I’ve got work from some, responses from some and a whole lot of silence too.
I’m telling you this because freelance writers can’t just send a handful of LOIs out and wait for the offers to come rolling in.
I think initially 3 – 5 LOIs a day is a good target to set and after a couple of weeks you can reassess and see if you’re hitting the mark.
So although is no magic formula for freelance writers to find content marketing clients, I know there are loads of companies and organisations out there desperate for freelance writers but don’t know where to find them.
Now’s your chance to show them where you are.
Do you write content marketing content? How have you found your clients?
Thanks for this! I have a question for you… is it absolutely necessary to have your own professional website when reaching out to potential clients? Or if doing it through LinkedIn, is that enough?
I have a problem with that most of my writing work is ghostwriting, so my portfolio of articles with my name on them is rather small, and not so exciting. Any tips for getting around that?
Hi Monique, I don’t think you definitely need to have a website. LinkedIn serves beautifully as a platform for you to showcase lots of things you normally would on a website. With your ghostwriting, unless you have signed an NDA, you should be able to use some of it on your website, if you had one. Or at least reference the companies that you have written for. Hope that helps?
Excellent stuff, Lindy. Despite getting good inbound interest, I need to do better on the outbound (LOI) side of things. Thanks for the useful reminder.
A good tip, too, about considering the size of each company you approach. LinkedIn is so useful for that!
Thanks John! If you’re getting good inbound interest, that’s the dream!
I use the "company size" on LinkedIn all the time – I think it’s a super useful indicator.
A really useful and informative post Lindy, I like how you’ve broken the process down, step by step. And you’ve reminded me I really must get to grips with LinkedIn – it’s been on my to-do list forever. The problem I’m having with LOIs these days is that GDPR has put an end to approaching individuals here in the UK unless you have some sort of prior connection. It’s made things really difficult. It’s okay to email a company, but not an individual. Doesn’t make it easy!
Oh that’s a really good point that I hadn’t considered Claire. Hmmm … but can you still approach and connect with someone via LinkedIn? If so, that may be the way to go about it.
The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can update your profile quickly and keep tweaking it depending on what sticks and what doesn’t.
If you can, set aside half an hour to update your profile and I’m sure you’ll see the benefit!
Hi Lindy, thanks for another wonderfully informative article. I always learn so much from reading your blog.
In regards to reaching out/connecting with potential clients on LinkedIn, do you suggest sending them a basic connection request or asking them about work opportunities in that request? What is the protocol for connecting with potential clients on LinkedIn?
Hi Ashling, thanks for your comments. In terms of reaching out and connecting with potential clients, I initially send them a brief request that says something like, "Hi X, My name is Lindy Alexander and I’m a freelance writer specialising in X. Wondering if you’d like to connect here on LinkedIn."
I wouldn’t mention work in that first contact, then once they accept, I start that conversation …
Thanks for another great article Lindy! Once again you give honest information which I’ve found near on impossible to drag out of marketing people who I am paying to coach me! Yahoo! Now I can make a better plan.
Thanks Ara, so glad you found it useful.
I was wondering if anyone uses / has used Linkedin Premium services?