Creative Places to Find Clients

There are a lot of places to find clients but the well-known places are competitive. Since I like avoiding hustle whenever possible (unless, you know, I need clients YESTERDAY) I like looking in less-obvious places for freelance work.

creative places to find clients

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Creative places to find clients

Part of me wants to keep these creative places a secret so I’ll be the only one who knows about them but a bigger part of me wants to help other freelancers find work so here we go. Maybe there’s a new idea or two in here for you today.

Idea #1: From your day job

While this is an awesome place to find clients you do need to pay attention to your company’s privacy policy and it’s better if you keep your boss in the loop with any outside-of-work relationships you have with work affiliates.

Assuming everything is above board and your freelance work happens outside of your day job, doing some side gig stuff with people you interact with every day makes a lot of sense. On a professional level they know, like, and trust you as you do them. And you already know you can work well together. You just need to keep the boundaries in tact so you don’t overstep in either direction.

Idea #2: From your family and friends

I’ve mentioned this before (the best way to let people know you’re available for freelance work is by telling them you’re available for freelance work) but it’s one of those sort of awkward things so I want to mention it again.

What you don’t want is to bug your friends and family and have them throw pity work at you. You also don’t want them to assume since they’re your friends and family you’ll work for a massive discount (or for free). So how do you create an environment where your friends and family know you’re available for freelance work and are happy to pay you for it? Now, that is the finesse of it. Everyone will find her own balance so the takeaway here is to put yourself out there and let people know you’re available.

Idea #3: From places you’re a client

This is another time where you’ll need to tread with care and be sensitive to appropriate timing but there’s nothing wrong with mentioning you’re a freelancer while engaging in small talk and allowing the conversation to go where it may. I’ve had many experiences where I’m asked to leave my card behind or picked up the odd client from a place where I’m a client. I love it!

Of course you’re not becoming a client in order to find clients…that’s not a hustle I’d recommend, but if it happens organically…awesome!

Idea #4: From guest blogging

Guest blogging, guest writing (whatever), is an interesting beast. If you look around the Internet for long enough you’ll see a wide variety of opinions and teachings on why you should do guest blogging, why you shouldn’t do guest blogging, why you should never write for free, why you should write for free sometimes, etc.

I’m not here to talk about any of that. I think you should figure out what is going to move the needle forward and then do it with abandon. Anyway, got a little off topic there. If you get into guest blogging and are choosing good partners, this could turn into a writer-client relationship. Honest! I’ve seen it happen! So keep building into your relationships!

Idea #5: From partnerships

This idea launches from the last one—build relationships with others and form mutually-beneficial relationships. This could be an agency, a freelancer with complimentary skills, or a local business. The big idea is you share clients. No you don’t get 100 per cent of the pay but you also don’t have to do 100 per cent of the work and in some cases this is an awesome arrangement.

Idea #6: From local events/workshops

Something I’ve noticed about freelancers is they’re out in the community a lot. Working freelance has them attending events, observing meetings, and talking to a lot of different people. So what about throwing a little extra networking in while you’re already out? Do what you’re there to do but also mention you’re a freelance writer and if it makes sense, mention you’re available for hire or pass out a business card or two.

This last point is extra exciting to me these days because I’m in the midst of building a workshop for freelancers, which developed from a pre-existing relationship, turned into a collective and is now a collaboration. Wow. When we began building these relationships this workshop was not even a dream. And yet, here we are.

Places to find clients: In conclusion

I hope I’ve given you a few new ideas to try here. Remember, marketing is a long game and it’s something you sprinkle into every day—while you’re busy doing other things. If you want some more tips and tricks you’ll enjoy my article on learning how to rock your marketing even when you don’t have time for marketing.

There are a lot of places to find clients but the well-known places are competitive. Since I like avoiding hustle whenever possible (unless, you know, I need clients YESTERDAY) I like looking in less-obvious places for freelance work. Part of me wants to keep these creative places a secret so I'll be the only one who knows about them but a bigger part of me wants to help other freelancers find work so here we go. Maybe there's a new idea or two in here for you today.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required

Firing a Client | Freelance Writing Tips

If you’ve freelanced for any amount of time you may have considered firing a client at some point. It sounds harsh and scary, I mean…you’ve worked so hard to land these clients! And now you’re thinking about firing them? Isn’t that a bit ungrateful?

Firing a Client | Freelance Writing Tips

Firing a client

Truth is, sometimes it’s not a good fit.

Here is a story to put this type of situation in context. A few weeks ago a fellow freelancer contacted me. She said, “Have you ever quit a client? I am seriously considering it and I am having trouble finding wisdom!”

Of course, I was happy to talk it out. This isn’t an easy decision to make. Because you want it to work! Or you feel guilty because you thought it was a good fit but now that you’re a few months in you can tell it’s not. It’s OK, this happens.

My friend said the work just wasn’t what she thought it was. The way her clients assigned, reviewed and approved work felt to her like someone was always watching over her shoulder and tweaking her work over and over until it no longer resembled something she would have created. This didn’t work for her.

She knew she couldn’t continue like this, no amount of sucking it up was going to fix it. So she wondered if she should fire her client and make a clean break or if she should offer feedback and see if they were willing to change their processes.

How much did she want to keep this client?

No matter what she decided, she knew she had to make a change. When a freelancing situation goes a bit sour it can make you feel inept and underpaid. It’s frustrating and tricky and when this happens it’s definitely time to consider firing a client or two.

If you are in a place where you feel like your client isn’t a good fit it doesn’t mean you’re being a diva. It may just mean you’re becoming clear on what kind of freelancer you want to be. Sometimes the right decision is a polite yet clear discussion about the situation and finding a workable solution. And sometimes the right decision is referring the client to a different freelancer and moving on.

Blogger turned copywriter

Sometimes you outgrow the relationship or go different directions.

One of my first regular clients was my DREAM COME TRUE. I was tasked with tackling DIY projects with a bent towards upcycling and then writing a blog post about it. I loved DIY and upcycling and I couldn’t have asked for a better freelance writing gig.

Things went well for quite a while and I enjoyed the different projects I got to work on. But as my writing improved and my career progressed, I found myself less and less engaged. The projects were time intensive and the pay was low. While I was fine with this when I was first getting started after a few years it didn’t make sense anymore. Plus my other freelance writing clients were not in the DIY/crafting space so my portfolio was moving further and further away from this niche.

The big sign that it was time to move on was the sense of dread I felt whenever a deadline loomed. I no longer scoured Pinterest looking for new and exciting projects to try. Now I looked for projects I could do in an hour or less composed of materials I already had on hand.

When I took an honest look at the writing projects I had on my plate and how they made me feel, I realized I had outgrown this client, my heart was no longer in it and it was time to move on.

Freelance writing opportunities

Sometimes your current clients are holding you back from your ideal clients.

Even if your client is a decent fit and you enjoy the work there may still be a case for firing a client. I learned this when I worked with business writing coach Ed Gandia.

The problem he was helping me solve was increasing my freelance writing revenue without taking on additional clients. Because I work a day job and have limited time available for freelancing, I had no other option but to raise my rates!

Ed challenged me to go for better-paying clients and as I landed them to let go of my bottom 20 per cent of clients.

This was a big move for me and definitely brought my insecurity to the forefront. In order to charge more you have to believe you’re worth higher fees. And you have to figure out strategies to state your fees with confidence and not buckle when prospects tell you you’re too expensive. Terrifying!

How did I finally get on board?

I started valuing my time better. I only have a few hours a week I can spend on freelancing so the work I do and the projects I take on have to be worth it. Working on my freelance business means time not doing other things, for example hanging out with my husband. So I needed to come to terms with a rate that I can feel confident about my choices/priorities.

And part of that coming to terms included identifying which clients were in my bottom 20 per cent and learning how to let them go as I landed better-paying ones.

If you've freelanced for any amount of time you may have considered firing a client at some point. But you've worked hard to land these clients! What gives?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Dealing with Insecurity as a Freelance Writer

Whether it’s inferiority complex or a lack of confidence, dealing with insecurity as a freelance writer is no joke. If you’re battling insecurity right now the good news is this is normal. It’s a part of the writing life. Here are a few strategies I’ve learned for combating the internal turmoil and moving ahead in my career.

Dealing with Insecurity as a Freelance Writer

Dealing with Insecurity as a Freelance Writer

I trained as a print journalist and even after I had my bachelor’s degree I hesitated to call myself a writer. While I don’t know the exact reasons why I was so insecure I do know there was a few things at play.

  • My class had some fabulous journalists/writers and I often compared myself to them
  • I didn’t get a journalism job right out of university and felt like I needed to
  • Other writers and journalists I knew seemed to know what they wanted from their life and careers and I felt directionless and confused

It took the better part of two years after I finished university to admit (to myself) that I wanted to be a professional writer. I had been laid off from my most recent job (in the geology field, obviously) and was mind mapping what I wanted to do with my life. In the most shocking of ways I realized I wanted to write for a living. But I felt so afraid. What if I put myself out there again and nobody hired me? What if I wasn’t really a good writer?

Dealing with insecurity is important because you won’t move forward if you don’t

Before I could even apply for writing jobs I had to admit to myself this is what I wanted, deep down. I also promised myself I would stop applying for jobs that weren’t a good fit. Yes, I knew at some point in the unemployment stretch I may have to take something, anything, but I didn’t have to start there. I had a runway. So try.

This was a huge moment in my life and career because it was the day I stopped letting my feelings of insecurity and inferiority stop holding me back from going after what I wanted to accomplish. It wasn’t the actual achieving of my hopes and dreams—it was admitting what I wanted. Yes, I still dealt with mind-numbing fear of failure and risk aversion. And of course I made mistakes and fell down along the way. But I figured out what I wanted and then put on my brave-pants and started trying rather than phoning it in.

Here are three ways to overcoming a lack of confidence

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others
  2. Something I’ve learned in my years as a professional writer is everyone is on their own journey. Yes, when I speak with a SUPER successful writer I feel intimidated and less than. For sure. But I don’t stay there. The more writers I meet the more I realize they’re all insecure. Our battles may be about different things but we all have them.

    The quickest path to self-defeat is looking at other writers and comparing yourself to them. Don’t. Stop comparing. No two careers look the same and we can’t allow ourselves to get derailed every time we see someone else having success.

  3. Put yourself out there even when you don’t feel ready
  4. If we stick to our comfort zone then we won’t grow. If you have goals for your writing or freelance career then you have to keep punching above your weight. That’s the saying, right? What I mean is you have to keep putting yourself out there and going after those big, dream contracts/clients/gigs/stories even if you think you’re not 100 per cent the most qualified, best writer out there. At least try.

    Something to keep in mind when you’re pushing past your comfort zone is you may (and probably will) face rejection. It’s a part of the freelance life. Embrace rejection as a normal thing and don’t take it personally (btw I talk more about this on an interview for Good Company). You may also get negative feedback or even criticism. Again, it happens. Find ways to move past it and even learn from it.

    And third

  5. Join a positive, encouraging writing group

The best thing I ever did for my career was join a writing group. And before you ask, yes I was nervous about being outed as an imposter. But my desire to find other freelance writers was bigger than my insecurity and I started networking with other writers. At first I held back from sharing my true fears and struggles but as I got to know the writers I also began trusting them with my problems. I asked questions, even if I thought they might be stupid. I asked for advice when I didn’t know what to do. And I started bringing client situations up in group discussions to see if they had a better approach I could use.

When dealing with insecurity and inferiority complex it’s easy to view other writers as competition or as a threat. But that’s looking at the freelance writing world with a scarcity mindset. The truth is, there’s enough work for everyone. Every writer has his or her own unique strengths and niche. In all likelihood, you won’t even be interested in the same type of writing work or clients. Be open to connecting with other writers and freelancers and when you find good people you can trust, hold on to them.

Conclusion

One of the biggest comparison traps we find ourselves in is on social media. This is not something to be afraid of but definitely something to be aware of. It can be so easy to see someone’s social feed and end up feeling horrible about yourself and your accomplishments. When you notice yourself going down this road hit the pause button and find a way to reset. If you’re stuck, these suggestions from The Graceful Olive are a great place to start.

Remember this about social media: it’s a highlight reel curated to present an intentional brand or persona. If you find yourself feeling insecure by a certain feed then for your own mental heath’s sake unfollow that person. Don’t think of it as a personal slight, just accept that at this point in time it’s better if you don’t see their feed while you work on your own self-confidence.

Bonus tip

A writing friend has a folder where she saves any positive feedback she receives. Any time she is dealing with insecurity or battling inferiority she goes back to the “praise folder” and re-reads the nice things people have said about her. It helps her put things into perspective and often can re-direct her negative feelings. It’s an excellent strategy.

Whether it's inferiority complex or a lack of confidence, dealing with insecurity as a freelance writer is no joke. Also: you're normal.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

If you want to read my personal branding story check out Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche.

From this experience I’ve learned a lot about how branding yourself on your website or blog is good for search engine optimization as well as for attracting your ideal clients. But more than that, branding yourself is important for growing your business in the direction you want it to go.

Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche

Building your brand as a freelancer

Here are a few ways you can start building your brand as a freelancer right now.

Establish Yourself As An Expert

Positioning yourself as an expert isn’t as intimidating or difficult as it first sounds. You do this by sharing helpful information with your audience. Figure out the questions they’re asking and the problems they’re trying to solve and then provide the answers/solutions. This is a fabulous opportunity to help people take the next step on their journey as well as share your unique knowledge and expertise. Don’t worry too much about sharing free information. You build trust with your audience by helping people and establishing yourself as an expert doesn’t hurt either. People hire people they trust.

Focus On Your Digital Footprint

Whether you’re building a website or setting up your social media profiles for business, make sure your digital presence is easy to discover and communicates clearly. Here’s what a solid digital footprint includes: strong branding, unique personality and clear services. This is also a good time to invest in professional headshots (and don’t feel like you have to stick to stuff corporate—consider lifestyle photos!) and graphics. Think of your various bios and about pages as an opportunity to let your ideal client know how you can help them and why you’re the right choice. Don’t underestimate the power of a great about page!

Create an On-Brand Marketing Strategy

I don’t care if you’re too busy or you just plain hate it, building your brand includes marketing. Unless you love the feast-and-famine cycle of freelancing, that is. Solid content marketing strategies can keep your prospect funnel full all year long. When creating your marketing strategy make sure to build something sustainable otherwise you’ll quit before you start.

Bonus tip: Check out How To Write For Print Media from Ultimate Banners.

Show Off Your Personality

A big part about building your brand is growing your platform. Figure out what makes you stand out in your market and find ways to weave it into your business. Your personality is part of your brand, so be sure to highlight it. The first step is to find your unique voice and which aspects of your personality and experiences are best to convey. Focus on the positive, exciting and engaging aspects of your brand personality.

Building Your Brand? Invest in Relationships

Referrals are a gold mine, which is why networking with other freelancers is so important. Word of mouth is also extremely powerful, so make a point to invest in your relationships. You never know which clients might suggest you to a new anchor client or introduce you an amazing career opportunity. Take time to go the extra mile, giving excellent service and ensuring both your colleagues and clients are taken care of.

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you’re always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we’re talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

Small business marketing ideas for the real world

Having a strong digital presence is important but don’t discount traditional tactics. I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased because I spend most of my time working with traditional media and dealing with people who don’t have a digital-first approach. That said, there are a LOT of people who don’t live in the Internet bubble and they like buying things too.

Here are a few small business marketing ideas to consider.

In-Person Networking

Networking is super important in business. Even if you’re introverted. People are often shy to talk about their business because they don’t want people to think they’re bragging or pressuring them to buy something. But trust me, there’s a way to talk about your business in a non-threatening way. You do need to find creative ways to sprinkle it into your conversations but the point is, mention it. If you’re hoping people discover you online so you don’t have to do the scary marketing thing I’m sorry to say this is going to be a slow venture. Find a natural way to integrate your business into your every-day life and then when it fits, mention it. Networking is an art and there are many people who don’t do it right. If you can learn strong networking skills, it is effective. SUPER effective.

Local Events

Attending or sponsoring local events doesn’t fit every type of business but make sure to go if you find one where your ideal customers will be hanging out. If you have a physical product make sure to bring those and hand out samples or have a booth. If you sell digital products or services you can have some sort of swag that makes sense to pass out. I’ve found great results from attending events and participating in them as a speaker or vendor. This small business marketing idea can be a great business booster if you apply a little creativity to it.

Vehicle Branding

You may be running your business online, but you still have to leave the house. Car wrapping is an effective marketing tool. No matter if you’re driving to a meeting or dropping your kid off at soccer practice, you’re promoting your business. If you’re not ready for the full-scale wrap there are other options like vinyl logos. Think about it.

Local Media

Don’t discount local newspapers or radio stations. They work hard to produce relevant local content and are an excellent way to get the word out about your business. If you don’t have an advertising budget think about other ways you can get media coverage. Can you contribute a weekly column about your area of expertise? Are you able to provide an interesting point of view on a subject they’re asking for community input on? Call the outlet and see how you can help them. Another way to get local media coverage is to join local boards and campaigns. Make yourself available for interviews to talk about the great work your volunteer group is doing when the journalists call to cover the event. It’s a win-win-win.

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you're always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we're talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required