Finding a client-landing strategy that comes easy to you is the secret sauce of freelance web writing.
It makes everything better, and people always wonder how you do it.
You can ask every successful freelance writer you know how they land clients and get a different answer from every one of them. Which can leave you wondering, is there really a secret to this? Or, even a system that works?
The answer is yes. To both questions. The secret is finding a marketing system that works for you. There is no single system that works for all writers. One system works for me, another system works for Christina Gillick, and a whole different system works for Mindy McHorse… and so on.
The good news is I can all but guarantee there’s a system that will work for you. The caveat is it can take some trial and error to clearly identify it.
If you’ve tried a lot of the standard marketing strategies—social media, blogging and guest blogging, direct mail, warm emails, public speaking—and haven’t found your own secret client-getting sauce yet, maybe it’s time to add something a little different into the mix.
Taking an unconventional approach to your marketing offers a lot of advantages. It’s fun. It makes you stand out. It helps you leverage what you do best. It gets people talking. All good things.
And, if it turns out something unconventional is what works best for you and what you’ll stick with… well, that’s what you need to be doing anyway.
So, let’s take a look at some unconventional marketing approaches that have worked for other freelance professionals…
#1 Turn Your Core Offer into a Product
Jason Fried is the mind behind Basecamp—one of the most popular web-based project management tools on the market. But, before Jason built Basecamp, he was a freelancer.
One of the ways he set his design company apart was by turning their core service into a product. His design agency offered a single-page redesign for $2,500 with a one-week turnaround time. By laying out all the parameters up front, he removed barriers and eliminated uncertainty, which made it easier for clients to approach him.
Then, once he’d done a good job, it opened the door for bigger projects with the client.
You can do this with your writing.
If your favorite type of project is writing case studies, you could offer a four-page case study for $1,500 with a two-week turnaround.
If you like writing special reports, you could do a 10-page special report for $2,500 with a one-week turnaround.
If key messaging platforms are your forte, you could offer that service for $3,000 with a 10-day turnaround.
Think about what your clients want and need and make it as simple as possible for them to get it. Get the word out, and they’ll come to you in droves. And, best of all, they prequalify themselves. When you turn your core offer into “product” like this, you clarify your message, and clients looking for your service know exactly what they’ll get.
It becomes a question of their getting on your calendar rather than your trying to land them.
#2 Review Your Dream Client
If you have a handful of clients you’d love to land (and you should—if not, do some research and make a list of your top dozen dream clients), try personalizing the marketing experience for them.
Become a customer. Follow them on social media. Get to know their product line and their mission. Then write about them in your blog.
Write a review. Or, use something they’re doing to illustrate something you do and how it works. Make it honest, positive, and enthusiastic.
When you publish what you’ve written, make sure you share it on social media and include their handle, so they know it’s out there. Also, send emails to the marketing director and the company owner with a link to what you wrote.
Neil Patel, the founder of KissMetrics used to do something similar—he’d write a critique of a company’s SEO with advice on what they should do differently. A bolder approach and a little riskier, too. But, for him, it paid off. These reviews led to companies calling him and hiring him on the spot.
Tailor this approach to your personality and to the services you offer and see what happens.
#3 Interview Your Clients… Instead of the Other Way Around
For this approach to work, you need a few things in place first. This is more of a seasoned-writer approach rather than a launch-your-business approach.
What you need:
- Existing clients.
- A service that usually comes with a retainer arrangement like social media management or writing e-letters.
- An email list that you mail to regularly.
With those things in place, when you have an opening in your calendar—say, because a retainer client has decided to bring work in house, or you’re ready to move on from one of your existing clients—you can send a message out to your list about the opening.
Then you interview the businesses that respond and “hire” the client you most want to work with.
How now does that sound?
Whether you use conventional marketing or turn to unconventional strategies like this, consistency is key. For any marketing strategy to work, you have to put regular effort into it and then give it a chance to pay off.
Stick with your marketing, try new things, see what works… and before you know it you’ll have your own secret sauce that other freelancers are asking you about.