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.

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Published: June 17, 2014

7 Responses to “I Can’t Believe More New Writers Don’t Do This...”

  1. Hey Ed, I've taken this approach ... to a degree! Honestly though, I've really only taken it with those I'm truly comfortable with.

    I guess as a new copywriter I still struggle to call myself that, which makes me question my ability and question what others will think on receiving such an email.

    But it's catch 22. The only way for that inner questioning to subside is to keep learning, practising and ultimately get out there and finding some work.

    So ... I'm definitely going to adapt the 10 names and email idea without any procrastination. Thanks!

    Guest (Sarah)

  2. Thanks Ed, I guess sometimes I / one forgets that everyone does go through it, even those that exude confidence.

    Bring on the magic!


  3. Hey Ed, great article.

    Here's a recent networking experience for me:

    In the last two weeks, I've gotten two gigs worth $250 each from a private facebook group I'm a part of.

    Two guys in there needed bios written for some speaking engagements coming up. Since they knew I was a copywriter they reached out to me.

    And just yesterday, another member of the group messaged me and wants to know more about what I do.

    I remember when I used to drive 6 hours each way to make a sale and earn $500.

    Sean McCool

  4. Another thing that stops writers getting customers is the perceived "wastage"... building a list of (say) 1,000 names only to find four or five real customers in it. The point is that set of 1,000 is the "project" necessary to FINDING those few customers who'll provide a longterm income.

    My List is around 1,000 companies and names, fewer than 100 of which I've actually engaged with. But the 8 companies who use me regularly today all came from putting in that effort.

    Work at it, don't play at it!


  5. Hello ED, I haven't tried to make any contacts yet because I am not even half way through the Accelerated Copywriters Program so I am not quite ready to get a client.

    I can't thank you enough for this week of lessons. You are a good teacher. I hope to meet you either at the Bob Bly weekend or at the Bootcamp. Thanks again.


    Bob Thrall

    Bob Thrall

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