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How do freelance writers get their first client?

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So you want to be a freelance writer. That means finding private clients. How do freelance writers get that elusive first client?

Once you build up your writing business, a lot of it will start to do the work for you. Referrals are more likely, and you’ll find it easier to get clients to take you at the rate you want to change. Finding that first writing client can be tricky, though.

It can sometimes seem impossible. You see all these other freelance writers sharing that they snagged their first client, and you’re still getting crickets. Just how do you manage it?

How I got my first writing client

I started freelance writing back in 2010. I had no idea what I was doing, and I actually started on a pay-per-view site. It made it clear that I really wanted to make writing a business, but I needed to figure out how to build a client base.

This PPV site actually had a forum where the writers could chat with each other. That allowed other writers to share where they got their clients from and how they built up their business, and it’s because of that that I learned about

Now, I wouldn’t recommend it that much anymore. I had some crummy experiences on there, but it got me started. I ended up with a good private client who helped me figure out my niche and start building a business.

Then someone else recommended Fiverr. This was back when Fiverr was just getting started so it was a little better. Now I don’t bother with the site, but it was a good place for me to start building my client base.

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Freelance writers go to job boards

You can also head to job boards to find work. This is where I’ve found a lot of private clients over the years. ProBoards is one of my favorites, but I’ve also used the Freelance Writer’s Den job board back when I was a member and Media Bistro.

These places have clients posting their jobs a little like Indeed where employers are advertising vacancies. It’s possible to apply for the work.

The downside of the job boards is that it can feel like you’re actually auditioning for a job instead of freelance work. The potential clients often share the rates they’re willing to pay instead of you stating your own rates. It is possible to share your rates, though. You deserve to be paid a livable wage and more!

It’s important to have a system in place for applying on job boards. Make a list of places you’ve applied to, and the places you hear back from. This prevents duplicating the applications. You’ll also want to note the ones you’ve passed on so you don’t keep clicking the same links.

Be consistent, too. Spend 15 to 30 minutes on the job boards each day until you build up your client base.

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Pitch to potential clients

Cold pitching is a way to go. You’ll want to take the time to look at businesses within your niche that either don’t have a blog or have a blog that they haven’t posted on for a while. The ones with the blogs they haven’t posted on for a while are usually the best ones. They know the benefits of a blog but don’t have the time to post regularly to gain those benefits.

When you pitch to private clients, it’s important to note what they’re missing but in a kind way. You don’t want to only point out their flaws. It’s important to balance with what they are doing well, and how you can make their business even more successful.

To do this, you need an idea of a niche. This is why a lot of freelance writers don’t start out this way. They don’t really know their niche.

You can also pitch to other blogs and magazines to do guest posts. You won’t usually get paid for these so you don’t want to do too many. Make sure you have a byline and promote that post when you’ve done it. The aim is to catch people reading the columns for freelance writers in your niche.

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What do you hope to achieve as a freelance writer? What do you need help with? Share your thoughts in the comments below.