You can reach a world’s worth of clients over the internet. And, the best part about it is you can do it all without ever leaving the comfort of your desk, office, or portable laptop.
This is how many freelancers choose to build their businesses, entirely online. You find clients, pitch queries, submit proposals, and market your business mostly through online platforms. And, that makes sense.
But, there are other ways to market yourself as a writer — methods you may find more effective and faster at producing results.
In this article, I’m going to share four tips for how to start landing lucrative, high-paying contracts with local clients… pretty much right away.
There is probably a much bigger market for freelance writers in your local area than you realize. And, if you can tap into this market, you stand to gain several benefits:
- You’ll meet more people and build a better referral network in your local community.
- Local businesses and business owners will become more aware of what you do and how you could potentially help them.
- You’ll forge new friendships and relationships that will also help you to further your networking goals.
- You’ll invariably end up bringing in new work… which means more business for you and more clients to add to your professional references.
I just started networking locally last year, and it has paid off big time… to the point where I have converted about 30% of my workload to local contracts that pay even better than some of my existing contracts online.
So, let’s get into it. How do you make local networking work for you as a freelance writer?
Here are four tips you can start using today…
1. Use Meetup to Find Business Networking Groups in Your Area
Meetup is an app you can sign up for online. Once you have an account, you can find local groups in all kinds of categories. One thing I realized very quickly was that you can find lots of business networking groups on it… which is awesome!
Download the app (or use their website), and start looking for local business mixers, schmooze events, cocktail hours, etc.
As a freelance writer, your predominant target prospects in these types of environments are business owners who want to grow their online presence, and SEO managers/digital marketers who have a constant need for copywriting services.
Sign up for these events, attend a few of them every week, and start getting to know people.
Networking is a subtle thing. It’s usually best not to come right out pitching to potential clients. Instead, look at investing into this community with your time and friendship.
I often look at networking events as friend-making events. I’m meeting people to get to know them and make their lives better… not just to sell my services.
But, this approach always leads to more contracts. Because, as people start to get to know you and figure out what you do, they’ll be that much more likely to pull out your business card and call you when they need a new landing page or email campaign put together.
Which leads us to our next point…
2. Print Quality Promotional Materials (Especially Business Cards)
I still cannot believe people go to networking events without bringing a stack of business cards with them!
Having a beautiful business card may not be quite as important as making a great personal connection, but it certainly helps!
So, get some business cards printed up. I use VistaPrint.com, but there are a hundred different websites to choose from.
Get something that fits your style as a writer, and try to make it look as professional as possible.
And, keep it simple! Simple is almost always better than complicated, when it comes to business cards.
Get 1,000 business cards printed up and start taking these with you everywhere. Always be ready to hand one out if you meet someone and strike up a conversation.
You never know where your next writing gig could come from. That restaurant owner you met at that happy hour last Wednesday might need new menus written later on.
And, guess what? He’ll need a writer for that!
If he has your card and likes you as a person, there’s a good chance he’ll call you.
Give out as many cards as possible. Make friends. Network. Follow up with people you meet. Stand out from the crowd. Find out how to invest into the community in a positive way.
3. Start Your Own Blog and Share It With Community Leaders
I cannot overstate the importance of building and running your own blog. Every writer should be putting time into this every week.
If you aren’t doing this, then rest assured some writer who is putting time into it is getting all of the prestigious contracts instead of you!
When people visit your blog, you want them to see two things:
- Your website is clean and professional.
- You blog regularly every week and keep it completely up-to-date.
These two things mean more than almost anything else!
The simple truth of the matter is that potential clients need to know their project will be in good hands if they give it to you.
And, if you can show them how well you take care of your own blog, this will reflect very nicely upon you as a writer. This means a lot to potential clients!
It’s also a chance to showcase your knowledge, which can further reassure your clients that hiring you is a good idea.
4. Leverage Yourself As an Industry Expert and Work to Bring Value to Local Businesses
If you continue to do business and network, you’ll eventually win bigger contracts and start to make a name for yourself.
But, never forget that relationships always trump business!
You need to do two things as you network and build up a reputation in the local community:
- Establish you’re an industry expert and the go-to person for freelance writing in your local community.
- Nurture relationships with key community members by finding ways to connect with them that do not necessarily pertain to work.
Personally, I live close to a nice Mexican restaurant… and twice a week, I make sure to invite someone I’ve recently met at a networking event to enjoy a margarita with me.
This is fun, easy, takes about an hour, and allows me to get to know this other person much better on a personal level. We might talk a little bit about business at these meetups… but I often prioritize asking them about their own life and business.
I just make conversation and start building the relationship!
This, in turn, shows them I’m not desperate for work. Rather, it shows them I’m a professional who wants to invest back into my community with friendship and quality time.
It may seem like a subtle difference… but trust me, it works!
Face-to-face connections matter. Start making them in your local community. Nurture those relationships. Before you know it, good-paying work from high-quality clients who you know personally will start flowing your way.