How to Pitch New Clients as a Freelancer
Whether you’re a seasoned writer or new to the industry, this process will help refine your pitch
If you’re reading this, you are most likely preparing to embark on the journey of full or part-time freelance writing. Or, perhaps you have been writing for several years and are trying to shift your focus and write for a different industry. This article will help clarify that all-too-frequent conundrum: how do I find clients if I don’t have any writing samples in a particular industry? Or what if I don’t have any writing samples at all?
Here’s how to do that:
Step #1: Determine Your Industry
Start with determining the industry you want to write for. Don’t only limit yourself to the industry you have worked in for several years (unless you love it) — think about what you love reading about more than anything else.
Do you enjoy reading about food? Health and wellness? Travel? Finance and budgeting? Tech? Fashion and beauty? Pop culture? Music? Art? Jot your top three favorite industries down and give it some thought as you begin this process.
Step #2: Study What Clients Are Looking For
Once you have determined the industry you want to focus on, visit the sites listed below (or any other sites that have freelance writing opportunities) and search for positions in that particular industry (such as “food writer,” “finance writer,” “fashion writer,” etc.):
Step #3: Create a 200–400 Word Writing Sample
Take a look at the job descriptions in the industry you want to focus on in the sites listed above and write a brief writing sample based on what the clients tend to look for. If there are several job postings looking for blog writers, write a brief sample about a popular topic in that industry.
Article topics can be something along the lines of: “How to Stick to a Plant-Based Diet in 2020,” “How to Maintain a Budget in College,” or “10 Makeup Products that will Make You Look Red Carpet Ready without Breaking the Bank.”
In terms of writing sample length, 200–400 words or so should be sufficient. If you want to make it longer than that, that is perfectly fine — but don’t feel the need to send them an article that is several pages long. Clients can determine your writing style in the first 2–3 paragraphs and probably won’t read more than that.
After you have written a few hundred words, save it in Word or as a Google Doc (but try to export it as a PDF, if possible), and you have your first writing sample! If you are applying for writing opportunities that require more research, try to weave as much research into the piece as you can to demonstrate your analytical skills. Look online to see how popular sites structure their blog posts and try to emulate that.
Prior to sending the articles to a prospective client, ask someone you trust to proofread your writing samples or run it through Grammarly.
Step #4: Create an Online Portfolio using your PDFs
After creating the PDFs, I strongly advise pulling them into an online portfolio — even if there are only two or three writing samples.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Some email servers block emails with attachments, so you run the risk of your email never making it to the prospective client.
- It looks much more professional to have a link to a portfolio vs. sending attachments via email.
- It is easier for the client to pass a link along to their colleagues vs. attachments.
- It is easier for you and less time consuming to send a link vs. dig up attachments
The following sites offer free platforms for writers to set up portfolios:
My Contently Portfolio:
Both platforms connect writers and clients without the writer having to actually apply for a position. The agents who work for Contently and ClearVoice take care of finding the clients for you based on the writing samples you provide. I haven’t found clients through Contently yet, but I was connected to a great client on ClearVoice, so that one definitely seems to have potential.
Of course, when creating these profiles, do not solely only rely on finding clients through the Contently/ClearVision platforms themselves. Use that portfolio link to send to other prospective clients you’re pitching via email, Upwork, LinkedIn, etc.
Alternatively, you can also create a profile here on Medium. It’s $5 per month but you can read unlimited articles through the platform (whereas free accounts limit readers to three articles per month) and Medium provides a clean, user-friendly site to showcase your work. People spend a lot of time reading content on here, so a prospective client may come across your work.
The $5 Medium fee is about the same price as a Starbucks coffee and infinitely more valuable.
Step #5: Share your Writing Profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
After you have assembled your writing samples in Contently, ClearVoice, Medium, or any other portfolio site you decide to use, share the link on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media outlets. The more you can spread the word about your writing, the better. You will be shocked by how many people in your network are looking for writers — even individuals you haven’t spoken to in years.
If I just want to send writing samples as an attachment to a prospective client, how many should I send?
Two or three writing samples that exhibit your best work and are in the industry you’re applying for should be sufficient. If you have more samples than that, add a few more, but I wouldn’t send more than five or six. Some clients find it overwhelming to sift through tons of writing samples and they most likely won’t read more than two or three.
Now that you have your portfolio in order, it’s time to lock in some clients! Check out the article below on effective ways to do that:
Other articles you might like:
4 Critical Steps that Scaled my Writing Income to $8K+/mo. in Less than a Year
Without spending money on e-books, marketing, and courses
My name is Amanda Sapio and I am a freelance copywriter with 8+ years’ experience as a writer/editor.
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