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This is what it must be like to get back in the dating game after being married for years.
You feel like you’ve missed so much and you don’t know the landscape and culture anymore.
You wonder if you’re still attractive. You put on your best clothes, but they seem outdated. You’re not cool anymore. You’re over the hill.
You get out there and experience more rejection than encouragement.
It’s hard, but you dust yourself off, keep your chin up, and keep trying, again and again.
I can only imagine this is what it’s like to be single and available again, because I’ve been happily married for almost 20 years now.
But this is exactly what it’s like to go back to freelancing after having a job.
Yes, after two years of full-time employment, I’m a freelancer again. It was just time. So on February 28th, I sent my two weeks notice.
It’s been tough to get back into circulation. I’ve been hustling to replace previous my income, and then some. I’m getting close!
In this post, I’m going to share with you what’s been working for me to get freelancing projects.
Freelance Marketing That Works: How To Find Clients
1. Previous clients
I re-connected with some previous clients. One of them had me on retainer just before I became employed. I sent her a PM on Facebook letting her know I was available again. Her response?
“I was just sitting here thinking, ‘I need a really good copywriter,’ when your PM popped up.”
Talk about timing! Or was it divine providence? I consider it the work of the Holy Spirit.
The point is, it’s easiest to pitch to people who’ve spent money on you before. So when you’re looking for freelancing projects, go to your existing and previous clients first.
For existing clients, look at additional services you could offer them, which are complementary to what you’re already doing for them.
For example, if I’m writing blog posts for a client, I could offer to re-purpose them into an ebook, slideshow, or video.
As for previous clients, ask if they need your services again. This is a business strategy I learned from Andy Jenkins (if memory serves me right). He called it “reviving zombies.”
Another thing you can request from current and previous clients is referrals. These are powerful, because they can’t give you a referral without also giving an endorsement of you.
Referrals are also great, because your clients are likely to refer you to people who are similar to them. Assuming you enjoy working with your clients, then you may find yourself with a few new ideal clients.
3. Email List
I discovered this by accident. I have a large list of subscribers, whom I have largely neglected while I was employed full-time. But last month, I sent out a few promotional emails to get some passive income through affiliate marketing and such.
One particular email I sent out got the attention of a subscriber. She didn’t buy the programme I was recommending. However, she did hire me for a number of projects.
Turns out, she had been on my list for at least 4 years. She had purchased one of my information products previously, but hadn’t hired me before. You never know when someone is ready to become your client.
If you have mailing lists, why not offer your services to your subscribers? If they haven’t unsubscribed, that means they know, like, and trust you. Hopefully enough to hire you when they need your services.
4. Online Job Boards
Online freelance job boards can be another good source of projects. I regularly look at Problogger.net’s job board to see listings specifically for bloggers. The quality of listings can be spotty. Some are obviously fishing for free or nearly-free content from desperate bloggers. But you’ll be surprised at a few gems you’ll discover there occasionally.
If you’re a member of American Artists and Writers, Inc (AWAI) — if not I highly advise that you join — you have access to their job board. It can be hit-or-miss, especially since many postings are for regular, on-site jobs. However, I did get a regular freelance writing gig posted there.
I also look at job postings on websites I read regularly. Some are for regular jobs, but hey, if they’re telecommuting jobs, I’m open to them. On another website I use, I found an opportunity for a regular writing gig. I hope to get started soon.
Twitter is how I found one of my best clients in late 2008. Or rather, she found me.
You can attract clients by connecting with your ideal clients on Twitter and posting content you think they would be interested in. Keep an eye out when they post questions, and chime in with your (intelligent, remarkable, mind-blowing) replies.
I have a private Twitter list called “Awesome Companies.” This is how I keep track of what my ideal clients are posting on Twitter, what gets their attention, and who they interact with. They also post opportunities on their Twitter accounts, so you’d want to be on top of that.
I also actively monitor relevant keywords on Twitter. In my case, it’s “copywriter,” “content manager,” and “community manager.”
I have found a few great opportunities this way. In fact, I’m waiting to hear back from a potentially amazing gig I discovered on Twitter. (Please pray that I get it!)
I’m referring to in-person networking. You know, where you actually put some decent clothes on, comb your hair, get in your car and have to be physically present in a specific location to meet new people.
Networking can take time to bear fruit, but if done right, it can be valuable. Fortunately, I continued networking the whole time I had a job. I did it to have a reason to leave the house and socialize. In real life.
As a result, I have gotten referrals for writing projects as well as opportunities to speak (which you can also leverage for freelancing). Just today I received another invitation to present to a local group. I never planned to make money as a speaker, but if the opportunities come, I’m not going to turn them away 🙂
I’ve been doing more stuff on LinkedIn, although I’m still not as active as I’d like to be. Here’s how I’m using it:
I refreshed my LinkedIn profile by rewriting the summary section and the previous jobs. I made my summary more results-oriented. I did the same with the job section. I added my achievements for each role.
It seems to have worked, because I’ve been discovered by a potential client on LinkedIn. He says he was searching different keywords and saw my profile in the results. I’ve submitted a proposal for a big project and am awaiting his response. (Please pray that he approves it!)
I’ve also joined groups where my ideal clients may be hanging out. Groups are powerful on LinkedIn. If you participate actively by posting thoughtful questions and responding intelligently in discussion, you’ll get the attention of potential clients or referrers of clients.
When I was active in LinkedIn for my employer, I became one of the top viewed profiles! I hadn’t even optimized my profile at that time. All I was doing was participating actively in group discussions.
So far, these are what I’ve been doing the last few weeks that have been effective in helping me find clients.
How about you? What would you do if you were reviving your freelancing biz? And what’s working for you right now?
Share your experience. You just might help another freelancer out.