writing jobs, freelance writing
Storytelling Communications

How to Keep Prospecting New Writing Jobs—Even When You’ve Got a Full Schedule

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All of this happened to me since December:

  • I lost a client that accounted for over half of my income.
  • One client decreased their monthly work order amount.
  • I signed a contract worth a couple thousand dollars per month…and then the guy fell off the face of the planet, never to be heard from again.
  • I had to drop an “easy” client because they refused to pay invoices without 35 follow-up calls after the invoice was considered past due.

All of these things are unfortunate, sure. But not uncommon in the world of freelance writing jobs.

And while it’s easy to give lip service to the idea that you should always be prospecting so you don’t find yourself in a financial crunch, actually doing it is a different story.

Because, for real—who has time to constantly be browsing job boards, writing introductory emails, and negotiating rates??

And what if your calendar’s already full and someone you’ve reached out to wants you to start working for them this week?

7 Ways to Keep Your Writing Jobs Roster Full without a Huge Time Commitment

To be clear, this isn’t about strategies to get a new client right now. It’s about keeping your roster of valuable contacts who like you full so when you fall into a rut, you’ve got people who like you that you can reach out to.

Sending easy email updates to your subscriber list keeps you at the top of their minds.

1. Send Regular Updates to Your Email List

A lot of people talk about the necessity of an email newsletter for keeping in touch with your prospects, but let’s be real: That’s a lot of extra work with no immediate payoff.

I’ve found, instead, that I can send out a new blog post to my email list every time I publish one.

The posts I write contribute to the reason they signed up for my list in the first place: DIY advice on content writing and strategy.

And, if ever the time comes that I’m absolutely desperate for work, I can send out an announcement that I’m opening my calendar for three new monthly blogging clients.

It might work, it might not. (Highly dependent on the size of your list.) But it’s always worth a shot and only takes a few minutes of extra effort each time you publish to send out an email.

2. Give Your Business Card to EVERYONE

As a freelancer, you need to be shameless. I don’t care if you’re the quiet, introverted, quirky, writerly type. (Me too, sister.)

Handing out my business cards so frequently was hard, but once I started, it got easier and easier every single time.

Just think how often people ask you what you do for a living…if you tell them and they sound interested (even if you don’t think they’re an ideal client), give them a business card.

Since you know them in person, they could very well become one of your best online advocates in getting your message across. Or send you an awesome referral. They’ve also got a higher chance of doing this than some random dude who stumbled across your blog on Twitter, anyway.

3. Stay in Touch with Previous Editors

I know “staying in touch” sounds like a lot of effort, but we’re talking three times per year, here. Once every four months—that’s it.

If things ended between you and one of your editors or without any hard feelings, you can certainly stay in touch by congratulating her on a new job, telling her that you liked a post they recently published, or sending her a link that made you think of her.

Writing two or three short sentences goes a long way for building rapport and keeping you in the front of editors’ minds. And guess who they reach out to when they find themselves in a content crunch and don’t want to deal with a job posting or recruitment process?

4. Participate in Group Chats

Facebook and Slack groups are taking off like crazy these days. Finding 2-3 (keep it small at first) to join can be a great way to spread your expertise, help others, and get helped by others.

I’ve also found them to be great for introductions.

I’ve landed guest post spots worth thousands of new site visits, been connected with great sources for stories I’m reporting on, been asked for proposals by prospective clients, and gotten advice on how to advance my freelance writing business in the niche that I serve. All of that and I probably only spend 30 minutes per week actively conversing with people. (That’s six minutes per workday.)

5. Get a Backlink from Your Regular Blogging Gigs

Most clients (if you’re not ghostwriting for them) are more than happy to give you a byline and author bio at the end of a blog post.

So if your author bios don’t already, ask your editors if they can include your website name and link back to it.

I did this on one client blog where I noticed that a couple other writers had a backlink but I didn’t. Since then, I’ve landed at least two new clients who found me first on that blog and then clicked back to my website, offering me new writing jobs.

Don

6. Be a Squeaky Wheel on Twitter & LinkedIn

If you’re sharing something someone else has written, always, always, always tag them.

Even if they aren’t automatically tagged when you hit the share link, take a few seconds to look up their Twitter handle or LinkedIn name and add it to the end of the Tweet or share blurb.

Getting noticed publicly for your hard work is a huge ego boost, and the people you tag will greatly appreciate the exposure they’re getting to your list—often to the point of re-sharing your post.

This creates a lot of positive attention and energy in your direction, and it only takes a few seconds to do.

Plus, if you’ve got one person in particular you want to work with, making sure you do this once a week for them will get you noticed in an impactful way over time.

7. Create Profiles on Professional Writer Platforms

I’d signed up as a Skyword contributor a couple years ago when I saw Skyword had a client who needed some work that was in line with my expertise.

That project had long since ended, but I decided to come back and update my profile. And I’m glad I did.

In January, Content Standard editor Jon reached out to me to see if I’d like to participate in this project, to which the answer was of course!

But I’ve also been approached by another client within the platform since then as well. You just never know when an opening is going to come open, so having an active and updated profile is a great way to passively capture potential clients you don’t even know about yet.

What Does All this Mean?

To be totally honest with you, when my income started suffering from the client drops that happened since December, so did I. It was a stretch to pay my medical bills, and I had to borrow some money from my emergency savings account, which I hated doing.

But after implementing some of these easy-to-do tactics, I’m back on the upswing again, without having to troll the job boards. (Which I think we all hate doing.)

And now that I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, I don’t think I’m ever going to stop using these six strategies. It’s far better to take the time to do them than to find myself in a financial crunch again.

Or if you’d like to get a profile on Skyword to open yourself up to the possibility of new, great clients, apply to become a Skyword contributor.

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