From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Finding Clients

Hi Pat,

Early in AWAI’s sales letter to me, there was a statement implying that you would help me find my first client. It was this statement that convinced me to purchase the Accelerated Program for Six-figure Copywriting. And along the way, there was this teaser: “If you are good enough, you may be invited to participate in an AWAI effort.”

Well … now I need help finding my first paying client. When I develop an income stream, I’ll take one of each of all programs offered by AWAI. Till then, I’ll keep looking for those first clients. A little help would be appreciated.

Fred P.

Hey Fred,

Thanks for the email. To be clear, we are not a placement agency. We give you all the tools you need to launch a freelance copywriting career including the best advice on how to land your first client … but it’s ultimately up to you to find your clients.

Realizing this can be a daunting thought/task for a lot of people, we’re constantly sharing the strategies and techniques that have worked for your fellow members here in The Golden Thread and on the forum. Plus, we’ve gone two steps further and created two very valuable resources available only to AWAI members.

  1. – AWAI’s job search website. There are always new freelance opportunities popping up there. And the companies that post them are expecting to hear from AWAI members, so you’ve already got a foot in the door.
  2. AWAI’s $10,000 Challenge. There are now at least half a dozen ways for you to get your first paying assignment – with US! Katie Yeakle reviews every entry herself. In just the few weeks since we expanded the program, she’s already given paying assignment to Gordon Nishi, Joanne Sullivan and John McDevitt. You can find the full details here:

While DRJ and the $10K Challenge are great tools, they don’t replace you being proactive and trying to find clients on your own as well. .

Now … how do you identify qualified companies and approach them?

From your email, I can’t tell which niche market you are interested in writing for, so I can’t be specific. But a good place to start is with the mail you get every day – both snail mail and e-mail. Every letter you get that is trying to persuade you to do something – buy a product, donate to a charity, subscribe to a periodical – is from a potential client.

Another idea is to focus on something you’re interested in and begin to contact companies you’re already familiar with. For instance, if you are really into health (healthy eating … exercise … vitamins … and so on), you’d be a natural to write for the alternative health market. This market encompasses a HUGE range of products and services. There are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of companies in that category that use direct mail. The same is true for so many other niches.

Step one is to find out who in your targeted organization is responsible for hiring copywriters. Very easy. Simply call whatever number you can get for the company (I usually find one listed somewhere on the website) and ask: “Does your company use freelance copywriters?” If the answer is “yes,” ask: “What is the name of the person responsible for hiring freelance copywriters?” They should be happy to give you that information. After all, THEY need YOU.

Step two is to make contact with a simple, one-page query letter. If you are at the stage where you are ready to start looking for clients, you should have written this (and other self-promotional materials) already. If you haven’t yet done it, go to Bob Bly’s website ( and take a look at his. Granted, yours won’t be as detailed or impressive, but you can get a good idea of what your query letter should include by looking at his. You can also find samples of query letters in AWAI’s “Freelance Writing Success” kit (

If you don’t hear from your prospective client a week or two after sending your query letter, follow up with a phone call. And be prepared to send samples and pricing information if requested.

Good Luck to you, Fred – and to all our new copywriters seeking their first paid assignments!

That’s it for this week. Thanks to one and all – and keep those emails coming!


The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: September 4, 2006

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