How I Landed a $2,500 Project Just From Reading My Local Paper … and You Can Too!

I didn’t used to take the daily newspaper. I thought it was mostly a waste of time. But little did I know how profitable reading it could be.

I learned this when my dad – who always reads the paper – came to visit us. I picked up the newspaper he’d brought over with him and flipped through the pages.

On the front page of the business section was a larger-than-life story about a local software company that had solidified a partnership with AT&T.

“Wow, what a big step for them,” I thought. And then a simple, magical notion occurred to me … “They must be really busy right now.”

Inspired, I dashed off a letter to their marketing director, who was mentioned by name in the article. I congratulated him on the new partnership. I remarked on how much he must be working to make sure the new partnership went smoothly.

Then I offered my services … if he needed an extra hand to do any marketing writing.

Three days after I sent that letter, I got a call inviting me to visit them. That visit landed me just over $2,500 in projects.

Not bad for a 1–minute self-marketing effort.

Build a Client Base Through Your Local Newspaper

The business section of your local paper is a marketing goldmine that often goes untapped by independent professionals like copywriters and graphic designers.

In it, you’ll find articles about companies that are creating important partnerships, launching new products, or struggling with cutbacks.

Every article is a potential opportunity for you to land a new project and build your client list.

Finding the Opportunity in Each Article

Different situations will call for different approaches. But almost every article you see in the business section is one you can respond to. Look at each one critically and ask yourself, “How can I help them solve this current problem?”

Address your letter to the marketing director. If the marketing director’s name isn’t in the article, give the company a quick call to find it.

For companies creating partnerships, you can do something similar to what I did. Begin by congratulating them on their new business venture. Remind them how busy they must be with so many good things happening within their company. And then tell them about your services. It’s as simple as that.

For companies launching a new product, mention something about the product that you like. Congratulate them on the successful launch. Then let them know that you understand how busy a marketing department can be during a new launch … and offer your services to assist them.

Even companies making cutbacks present a potential opportunity.

Approach them with the understanding that every company sometimes struggles. Let them know that cutting their marketing efforts may be tempting, but could be a mistake. Then explain how the services of a freelancer like you can help them carry on with their marketing … and cost less than a full-time employee.

Boost Your Response with Good Follow-Up

It’s easy to shoot off letters to companies you find in the newspaper and then hope for the best, all the while convincing yourself you did everything you could be expected to do. However, you can boost response by diligently following up on the letters you send.

Remember, if they’ve been written about in the paper, these folks are probably busier than usual. They may be meaning to call you, but find themselves overwhelmed by other demands on their time. Your phone call to them might be just the thing that closes the deal and lands you a wealth of new work.

Leads, Leads, Everywhere

Resources and project leads are all around you. You just have to train your eyes to see them.

In addition to your local paper, check out national papers, newsletters from organizations you belong to, trade publications, and industry e-zines. They all present you with opportunity after opportunity. All you have to do is act.

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Published: August 7, 2006

4 Responses to “How I Landed a $2,500 Project Just From Reading My Local Paper … and You Can Too!”

  1. Heather - you are one thinking gal! All these ideas are great and really quite simple, if only we would try them. Thanks for reminding me. I think you have condensed down a three hour business course into several paragraphs.

    Guest (Geoff Wood)

  2. thank you for the reminder of how valuable the newspaper can be for copywriters


  3. Written in 2006 -- and the tips are as evergreen today (Nov. 2014) as they were almost 10 years ago.

    Tempting to think 'I know that already' but I don't fall for that anymore.

    Amazing how experience makes us more humble ;-)

    Mike Searles

  4. Also consider the help wanted ads in LinkedIn and,, and others. This immediately exposes the company's needs and where you can fit in as a freelancer or SEO specialist.

    Guest (Jim Angel)

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