How I Repeatedly Get High Paying Freelance Writing Clients without Sending a Single Pitch
By Bamidele Onibalusi
You’ve probably wished at one point at the other, that if only you can get all those clients come to you on their own, without you sending a single pitch, so you can only focus on writing and getting paid.
Could it even be possible?
The good news is it’s possible.
I’ve been a freelance writer for 2 years now — I made mid 5 figures from my freelance writing in 2011 and I’m on track to make more this year, all from clients who came to me on their own, without me sending a single pitch.
I’ve worked with over 10 clients in the past 2 years that all came to me on their own; I’m currently working with 6, and not only do I believe that you can build a solid freelance writing career without sending out pitches. I also believe it is the best way to go about it.
I’ll be sharing how I did it (and most importantly how you can do it too) in this article, but before that here are a few reasons why you should work towards building a freelance writing career that doesn’t depend on you sending out pitches.
It Puts You in Control
You’re not bidding against dozens of other writers on Elance or oDesk, and you don’t have to prove that you’re effective by sending free samples or agreeing to terms that won’t favor you.
Since clients are coming to you on their own it means they already know what you’re capable of and are ready to work on your terms.
It Makes You More Productive
Linda is a huge advocate of productivity, and one major point she regularly emphasizes is getting the best out of your time.
If you’re the average freelance writer then you probably need to send dozens of pitches/query letters every day, each written in a unique voice and tailored towards the person you’re contacting.
When you consider the time it takes to research and write each pitch/query letter, then you’re counting several hours every week doing the same thing over and over again.
In most cases, only few of those you contacted will get back to you — and you’ll often have to work on their terms.
Getting clients to come to you saves you dozens of hours monthly you’d have otherwise spent pitching and bidding for jobs, and if you’re very productive that can add up to additional thousands of dollars in income monthly.
It Brings About Big Pay
One thing I noticed to be very common about every client I’ve worked with, that all came to me on their own, was that they always asked me what my rates are.
No “$3 articles” and no “send me a free sample.” Every single one of them asked me my rate, and there are only a few exceptions where I had to negotiate.
In fact, in more than one situation I’ve quoted almost double what the market rate is, and I get paid that rate without the client negotiating.
I’ve repeatedly made 4 figures in a day with some of my clients, and what is most interesting is the fact that they came to me first.
The reason for this is simple: Most of these clients know about sites like oDesk and Elance, but coming to me signifies that they want better work and they’re willing to pay for it.
Not having to bid against others also gives me a psychological advantage, and the fact that they came to me gives them little excuse to negotiate the price.
Everyone Can Do It
I got my first client 2 years ago when I had no plans to be a freelance writer. I was 16 then and my writing wasn’t the best (it still isn’t!), but I still get people contact me for what I have to offer.
Just think about it: If I could do it at 16 with little marketing experience, English as my second language and a background from a third world country, anybody can!
There’s no excuse.
Of course, you’ll need some investment of time and effort and you’ll probably have to wait for a while to see results but the most important thing is that it’s possible.
How to Get High Paying Freelance Writing Clients without Having to Pitch
Here are the steps you can take to start getting freelance writing clients without pitching.
1. Start a Blog
It could be a blog, a website or any other form of significant online presence that can help you publish your content and spread the word about your services.
For me, blogging has been very effective and my entire freelance writing business is built on my blog.
You could easily start a simple website, but I’ve noticed blogs are more effective. The reason for this is simple: This approach is mostly based on publishing regular content and getting better search engine rankings, and a blog makes that extremely easy.
Blogs are very SEO-friendly, and they are also designed in such a way that makes it easy to publish new content.
Also, by starting a “blog” I’m referring to a professional blog like the one you’re reading right now. Not yourname.blogspot.com or yourname.wordpress.com but yourname.com
If you want professional clients, you have to prove to them that you’re worth your weight in gold and that writing isn’t just a hobby, and having your own professional blog communicates this easily.
2. Identify Your Services
What services do you want to offer to clients?
It’s easy to say you want to offer “freelance writing” services — but what exactly is “freelance writing services”?
Most people are only willing to work with professionals. If I want a professional white paper written that will determine the success of my business, I’d rather give the service to a professional white paper writer than to a freelance writer who does everything.
The key to success is to understand one thing: Your clients don’t care about your age, status, or nationality. They don’t care about your credentials or experience either; the only thing they care about is the result your services can help them get.
For this very reason, it is your duty from the very beginning to communicate a message that you’re the right person to help them get the “result” they desire for their business.
In a nutshell, narrow down your skills to determine the most essential service you can provide, and a few more that complement it.
For example, it could be “sales letter writer/SEO writer/newsletter writer”; notice how those services can complement one another. In this age, almost every business wants the perfect sales letter, and they’re likely to go with someone with SEO experience who can increase the chances of their sales letter ranking higher in the search engines.
Of course, the above example is random, and it could be more or less depending on what you offer; but the aim should be to attract the very best clients you can while ensuring there is no disconnect. Most clients won’t want to work with a jack of all trades.
3. Blog about Topics Related to the Services You Just Identified
It’s easy to pitch your services on your blog all day, but no one will sit through your blog reading pitches all day.
You have to earn the attention of people to get them to check out your services, and one of the best ways to do this is to educate them.
4. Write Special Posts
These days, educating people isn’t enough since there are thousands of articles all on the same subject.
Educating potential clients in a motivating way is what matters.
There are various ways to educate potential clients in motivating ways, but the idea is to educate them in such a way that they get the idea for, or do, something they wouldn’t have otherwise done.
Case studies and ultimate resources can help make this possible; and I like to call these kinds of posts “special posts.”
For example, if you’re a real estate copywriter who wants to show potential clients that having professional copy for their real estate website will make a difference, sending pitches would probably not convince them — but writing a case study on how a particular real estate website increased conversions by 200% just by changing copy would motivate them to get a better copy. Notice how that is results oriented? After all, who doesn’t want a 200% increase in conversions?
Same thing goes for ultimate guides and resource posts.
The idea is to write the best, most comprehensive post on the subject you want clients on coupled with examples and other forms of content (info graphics, video etc.).
These kinds of posts instantly do two things:
- They prove that you’re an expert on the subject you’re writing about, for you to be able to write such a detailed post. This makes it easier for potential clients to consider hiring you.
- They get more traffic and views. Remember, the more quality traffic you get the higher your chances of getting hired. Since these kinds of posts are more comprehensive, they include more of your actual keywords and long-tail variations, and they also contain info graphics and multimedia that make your article more legit. People also appreciate detailed, well-researched posts, so these kinds of posts get shared on social media sites.
To further prove my point, here are three examples of posts I’ve written centering on the service that I offer that have led to various clients.
- Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging (ultimate guide/resource)
- Case Study on Effect of 31 Guest Posts in One Week (case study)
- How Savvy Inbound Marketers Get Results from Guest Blogging (case study/ultimate guide)
5. Design Your “Client Attraction System”
The next step is to create a system designed to help you attract clients on autopilot.
For me, here’s the system involved:
Create a “Hire Me” Page: The idea behind all these is to get clients in the first place, so not having a hire me page is like wanting clients but not asking for them. The hire me page should include all the services you offer based on my advice earlier on and nothing else. You can see mine for an example.
Design My Hire Me Page to Scare Some People Away: Remember, you’re not in this for the $3 kind of posts. In fact, the goal is to create a kind of system that ensures your clients aren’t in the mindset of suggesting such an offer.
You want clients who will ask you what your rates are, and most importantly pay it. For this, I included a small note indicating that I don’t want “low budget clients” or clients that pay peanuts (you can take a look at my hire me page I linked to earlier on to see it in action).
When you consider and implement this point it might look like you’re a little too harsh or even arrogant, but it is necessary; I’ve tested not scaring people away, and I got dozens of crappy offers monthly including offers from those who wanted me to write a whole Kindle book for a few hundred dollars.
Create the Special, Evergreen Kind of Posts: As I explained in point 4 above, create special case studies and ultimate resource posts. These posts will be the pillar for the success of this approach, and without them everything won’t be the same.
Indicate that I’m Available for Hire: You might be wondering how you can profit from the special posts you write after putting in a lot of effort. This is it!
The key to getting results from these special posts is by hinting a few times during the post that you’re for hire, and by including a short PS below the post that indicates you’re available for hire. In most cases, ensuring the service you advertise is related to the post you wrote will have a lot of impact.
Market the Special Posts: Now that you’ve written the special posts, and you’ve indicated you’re for hire, the next step is to market those posts.
I’m not into social media or any other form of complicated marketing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
Remember this approach is focused on ensuring you don’t have to pitch or regularly advertise yourself, and it gets boring sharing the same post every day.
For this very reason, my approach is focused on getting my content ranked in the search engines.
Depending on what you already have in place, it could be sending regular emails to your newsletter promoting your special posts.
In my own case, what I do is optimize my special posts to rank for 3 or more relevant keywords people use when looking for information relating to my services.
Once I’ve noted these keywords, I then write quality guest posts related to the posts I’m trying to promote for other blogs and then link the keyword, in my author bio, to the post I’m promoting.
Most blogs will allow you to include an SEO link back to your blog so the idea is to find these kinds of blogs and then write a quality guest post for them.
The idea isn’t to write poor guest posts just for the links, since search engines are discounting those kinds of posts these days, but to contribute real value to those blogs and then get the link as a result.
Repeat the Process…Until I No Longer (probably) Have To: If you can follow the process to get your first client come to you, great. It doesn’t hurt, though, to have a lot more clients — so repeating the process until you get as many clients as you want is important.
In most cases, following the above process for a few months will be enough, but you might need more time depending on how much time and effort you’ve invested and how old your blog is.
A Few Important Things You Should Know
While the above approach looks almost perfect, there are a few things you should know:
- Time Is the Key Factor: Depending on what you know and how much effort you invest, it could take 6 months to get results, and it could take a year. The key, however, is that once the system is set things start to happen on autopilot.
I haven’t tweaked/marketed my own system in almost a year now and I’m still getting client requests, and most importantly I keep making money from my writing every day.
This won’t give you instant results. You shouldn’t quit your current approach (if you have one) until you start getting results.
- Keep Marketing, Even if You Feel There’s No Need to: It doesn’t hurt to have more clients than you can handle. In fact, you could even outsource some of your work later down the road.
You might get a client or two and then feel the need to stop, only to start again from scratch once you need other clients.
The key is to repeat the marketing cycle every few months even if it’s working for you so that you never run out of clients. An average of 6 months should be okay no matter how great your results are.
- Be Ready to Tweak: The system explained in this article is based on what is working for me now, not what I was doing a year ago. You’ll often get better results tweaking the approach to better suit your needs, and you can easily revert back to this post if that isn’t working for you.
Bamidele Onibalusi is a young blogger and freelance writer who blogs at YoungPrePro.com. If you’re a freelance writer who wants to take your writing to the next level, check out his free ebook titled The Writer’s Handbook: How to Write for Traffic and Money