How Do I Find Clients and Land Paying Assignments?
It’s the question most often asked … and I answer it almost on a weekly basis …
“How do I find clients and paying assignments?”
Well, have no fear …
Rebecca Matter here with The Writer’s Life … and I’m armed with answers!
Let me start by breaking it down into two smaller questions …
First, “WHERE do I find clients?”
If you’ve chosen any form of copywriting as your path, Google is going to be your first stop for a little research …
Ask yourself, who are your ideal clients? What types of companies do you want to work for, and in what industry?
For example: publishers or supplement marketers in the health industry, product suppliers in the pet industry, professional service providers, etc.
Then ask yourself, who are their customers? And how do those people find them?
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and run a few searches on Google …
For example, if you’re looking for potential clients in the health industry, you might search for “alternative health newsletters” or “dietary supplements” or “free report on weight loss.”
If you’ve chosen a particular niche, you can also search for things like:
- Associations/Trade Organizations
- Membership Sites
- “Best of” Lists (Like “Best Pet Supply Companies 2014”)
Give it a shot!
You’ll quickly find pages and pages of potential clients.
From there, you want to filter them into a manageable list of companies who clearly value their direct-marketing efforts – and, therefore, your writing services. Here are some things to be on the lookout for:
- Real companies (not blogs/information repositories).
- Professionally designed website.
- Well-written (persuasive) copy.
- Lots of content.
- They’re using multiple marketing channels (examples: e-newsletter, sign up for a free report followed by a series of emails, sales copy, direct mail, social media, etc.)
- They have something to sell (not just affiliate products).
And, if you’re looking at magazines and associations in your niche, look for people advertising and exhibiting at tradeshows. They clearly have money to spend on their marketing efforts, and they’ll want to ensure those expenses get a high return.
That’s where you come in!
And Google is just one place to find new clients …
If you’d like more – or you’ve chosen a path other than copywriting, check out the little report AWAI copywriter Jen Adams put together called, 10 Places to Get Clients Now.
It’s normally $7, but I’ve posted it here, so you can access it for free.
Now, at the beginning of the week, I know I only promised to tell you about finding clients …
But I want to go ahead and answer the next question I know is coming …
“What do I do once I find them!?”
The thing to remember when approaching a potential client – regardless of how or where you found them – is that you have two primary goals:
1. You want to establish a relationship.
The chance of your reaching out to someone at the exact time he or she needs your services is pretty low. It may take a few times emailing or making phone calls back and forth, so you need to be patient.
The important thing is to focus your efforts on just establishing that connection with the potential client, so they know who you are and how to contact you once they’re ready to roll.
And, while it should go without saying, remember that first impressions matter. So always be professional and courteous whenever reaching out to prospective clients. That way your future follow-up efforts will be welcomed.
2. You want to show your value.
Even if you’re brand-new and it’s your first potential client, you have something to offer. And it’s of value. So make sure you do your homework and show clients just how valuable you can be to their company.
How do you do that? Here are some ideas …
Get to know their audience and products …
If you really want to impress a client, spend some time reviewing their website and marketing materials. Even simply signing up for their e-newsletter, looking at their homepage, and reading a few pieces of online content will give you a lot of intelligence on who their audience is and what they’re trying to sell them.
Including a few specifics about your familiarity with their audience and what they’re trying to accomplish will go a long way in starting (and continuing) the conversation.
Find the money pages …
If you’re doing anything with web writing, it’s easy to discover the pages companies are using to sell their products or services. And, once you find them, open the conversation with something like: “I have some ideas for new content that may drive more traffic to this page. How well is it converting?”
Identify opportunities/weaknesses …
Do they have an e-newsletter? Do you receive emails after signing up trying to sell you something? How’s their online content? Is there an angle you could use to target their audience that’s different than what they’re doing?
Any time you can spot something that needs improving, or something they’re not doing, you have a good way to begin the conversation.
And, once you have some success, share those stories!
Everyone loves a good story! So, as you build your writing business and begin to acquire success stories from clients, work them into your follow-up strategy. Stories are a great way to get yourself in front of the client again and again. For instance …
- “I was recently able to double the response rate for a client with a few simple changes on their landing page …”
- “A client’s traffic tripled after I created and implemented this content strategy …”
- “My money-making website just ranked #1 for the search term _____ …”
- “I increased revenue by 30% simply by changing the format of a client’s auto-responders …”
Again, this comes into play down the line, once you’re up and working for paying clients. But it’s always good to think ahead!
Just remember, your initial goals are to establish a relationship and demonstrate your value. So, make sure you’re professional, courteous, and providing relevant information every single time you reach out to a prospective client.
You’ll get many more responses and land more paid assignments!
And, once you do start landing new clients, you may run into our last and final question of the week: “How do I set and negotiate fees?”
We’ll tackle that one tomorrow!
In the meantime, if you have any questions about finding or approaching clients, please post them here.
And, if you’d like more direction on getting clients, including specific action plans to follow, you may consider checking out AWAI’s Getting Your First Client. It’s only $99 and contains dozens of client-landing strategies, email templates you can customize, a self-marketing guide, case studies that will boost your confidence, and much more.
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »
Rebecca…you're all kinds of awesome… ;0)
@ Parrish - why thank you! :>)
Rebecca Matter –
Super! Rebecca, is there any possibility to work with you at AWAI and the Barefoot Writer?
@ Cecalli - Absolutely! If you look in the Barefoot Writer Magazine issues, there should be instructions on how to get started. Every story is written by a subscriber - it's where we find all of our writers! Rebecca
Rebecca Matter –
Do you ask a company if they hire outside copywriters or just assume that any business would be open to hiring you if what you offer is good enough?
If a company is loyal to their own writers, how do you find that out?
Guest (Jenny) –
@ Jenny - always use any opportunity you have to make a connection and sell your value. It doesn't matter if they've never worked with outside writers before. It could just be they never met one worth hiring! And I'm not sure how loyalty would play into a hiring decision - I love my writers, but I'm always open to new ideas and bringing on new writers who can offer more than what I or my writers are currently doing. Good luck! Rebecca
Rebecca Matter –
Hi Rebecca, thank you, this was a very helpful article. I'm just beginning, very exited, but a bit overwhelmed. I want to succeed more than anything as this is a life change for me following a devastating accident. I love to write, but what if the prospective clients want samples? Do I make them up and include different types like articles, sales pages etc . .How do I get a shot if I have nothing to show as a novice? Thanks again!
James S –
@PapaTony - exactly! Just create samples you can show them. They can be from assignments in programs, specs, genuine samples you make up, anything. All clients want to see is if your style is a fit for them/their audience. So write up a few samples that give them an "inside look" at what you can do. Good luck! Rebecca
Rebecca Matter –