I Can’t Believe More New Writers Don’t Do This …
Ed Gandia here, at the helm of The Writer’s Life this week.
We’ve been talking about how to develop the courage and momentum to make the leap into freelancing. And how to do that through a series of simple “hacks” or tricks.
Yesterday I explained the “chicken entrepreneurship” method to building your freelance business. Today I’m going to discuss an equally effective hack to getting results early in your journey …
Tapping Your Personal and Professional Network.
Your network is one of the biggest, untapped prospecting opportunities. Few writers ever use it. Which is a shame, because it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to generate writing clients when you’re starting out.
These are people who already know, like and trust you to some degree. And it’s often easier and less stressful to approach people you know than it is to contact complete strangers. Plus, talking to friends, colleagues, and relatives about what you do enables you to develop and refine your message in a less-threatening environment.
Start by taking an inventory of people you know. And as you do this, don’t exclude someone just because you think they wouldn’t be able to hire you directly. They may still be able to refer you to someone who could!
In fact, my biggest and longest-running client (they were with me for seven years) came about as a result of approaching a friend of my wife’s … who referred me to a friend of hers … who then referred me to another friend.
That’s four degrees of separation!
Here’s a good memory jogger to help you create your list:
- Employers and fellow employees from your past two or three jobs
- Friends, spouse’s friends, neighbors
- Spouse’s employer and previous employers and colleagues
- Fellow church members
- Parents from your children’s school and after-school activities
- Previous clients you’ve had (if any)
- Anyone who has inquired into your services (if any)
- Any other freelancers you might know (including writers, designers, web developers, etc.)
How to Approach Them
Once you have a basic contact list, send a simple email to each individual. Let them know what you’re up to. Describe the type of client you’re looking for. Or maybe the type of writing you do. And see if they know of anyone who might fit that description.
If the person is not a marketer, avoid industry lingo such as “copy” and “autoresponders.” Instead, explain your value in language they can understand.
Consider approaching some of your local contacts with email. Then take that to a brief phone conversation, and then try to take that to an in-person meeting over coffee or lunch. That way you can better explain your business and your ideal prospects in person.
The key is to NOT wait until your list is complete. As soon as you have 10 names, prioritize your list and start approaching each contact. Once you’re done with those, go to the next group of 10, and so on.
Have you tried this yet? What’s been your experience? Please share your thoughts in the comments area.
Tomorrow I’ll share one of my most effective hacks for making a successful leap into freelancing. It’s called the “Forrest Gump” technique.
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 »