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

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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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Books You Should Read If You Want to Publish a Book

If you’re wondering what books you should read to advance your authorship dreams then you’re in the right place. These are my top five pics for laser-focused, practical advice for everything from finding your story to deciding what type of publishing to pursue.

5 Books You Should Read If You Want to Publish a Book. If you're wondering what books you should read to advance your authorship dreams then you're in the right place. These are my top five book recommendations.

Books you should read if you want to publish a book

I’ve arranged my “books you should read” recommendations into a bit of a road map: figuring out what to write, outlining and drafting, deciding whether to self-publish or pursue traditional publishing, collaborating with other writers and influencers and getting book reviews. It’s the publishing journey if you will. The actual writing, that’s up to you.


The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication

This book could be for the writer who isn’t exactly sure HOW to write a book. Yes, it’s that practical. It could also be for the writer who has an idealistic outlook on what writing and publishing will be like. Kind of a reality check without being a jerk about it.

When it comes to writing, we can develop our skills and boost our talent through thoughtful practice…. By continuing to write, we build stamina and patience, eventually exceeding our own standards to the extend that we can raise them.

The Creative Compass (117)

What I learned: every idea starts with passion, meets with discouragement and must be battled with persistence. When writing the most important thing is to find a way to keep going despite the hard work, stress, lack of confidence and insecurity.

DREAM, DRAFT, DEVELOP, REFINE, SHARE

I spent a lot of time in the last third of the book. I underlined, wrote notes, even wrote “Amen!” beside especially good quotes (“If a sentence expresses an essential idea, advances plot, reveals character, or conveys relevant sensory detail that contributes to emotional effect or atmosphere then it’s probably worth keeping…. If not—snip, snip” Amen! [175]).

Read my full review of the Creative Compass.

Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days

Even if you don’t call yourself a writer you might want to write a book. There are so many stories waiting to be told and, who knows, you might be the person to tell it.

What’s great about author Denise Jaden’s latest book Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days is she makes you feel like digging out the story deep inside you is possible. And the 30 days thing? Bonus.

I’ve wanted to write a book for a while now, maybe forever. As a kid I drafted a 100-page Choose Your Own Adventure of twin girls who get lost in Mexico while trying to find an orphanage (scary part—I experienced this trip IRL 10 years later with a friend…) and for the last two years I have felt like it’s time to try for real.

And I have. Tried that is. But I keep getting stuck and I have never known why. Fast Fiction tells me why: I didn’t know how to write a book. I didn’t plan it beforehand, I just sat down at the computer and expected it to come together. After reading Jaden’s book I finally get it. I do have a book in me I just didn’t have the tools to dig it out.

Read my full review of Fast Fiction.

How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing (A Field Guide for Authors)

Although the title aptly summarizes the six chapters, I wanted to add it’s not just for those wondering which method of publishing to pursue. This book works to change the question from “Which one should I choose?” to “How can I utilize these tools best to support my goals?”

I loved Rachelle Gardner’s straightforward approach to this complex question. She spends time analysing the pros and cons for both traditional publishing and self-publishing. As well she works to dispel common self-publishing myths and makes it crystal clear that self-publishing should not be an excuse to publish poor writing.

This short read is packed with material and is perfect for people who aren’t quite sure where to start with publishing, people who want to understand all the different publishing options, and people looking for credible resources to get started.

Did I mention chapter six is all about resources? In my opinion, this is where the real value of this book comes in. It lists further information on self-publishing, how to get an agent, where to look for editors, reputable book cover designers and more.

Read my full review of How Do I Decide?.

Creative Collaborations: How to Form Lasting and Lucrative Partnerships without Being Smarmy

The Internet says collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. OK, that makes sense. And Kirsten Oliphant says it’s like roller derby. I had to think about this for a bit because I don’t know anything about roller derby but I think I get it: you stop being a lone wolf and instead become a teammate. You work with others to achieve a common goal.

That sounds nice in theory, but isn’t setting up creative collaborations with your competitors risky?

The risks: You could get burned, you could have your work stolen, you could be let down. All of this could happen when you work with others.

However, there are also potential benefits:

  • You could grow strategic partnerships that bring you further than you could go on your own
  • Also, you could make new friends
  • Another possibility is you could join a tribe where you feel encouraged, strengthened and inspired to keep moving forward

Throughout Creative Collaborations, Oliphant overviews different types of collaborations, builds an argument for why we need creative collaborations, teaches the difference between good and bad collaborations, cautions about legal implications when collaborating, and gives tips for creating life-changing collaborations. If you’re wondering how collaborations can change your business (and maybe your life), you will love this book.

Read my full review of Creative Collaborations.

How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career (HowToDoItFrugally Series for Writers) (Volume 3)

Why you need reviews (I’m borrowing from the book’s argument here, but I hold it as well):

Reviews are platform builders

Regardless of negative or positive, stars or lattes, reviews give you the chance to be a better writer, learn more about your genre, and know your target reader better.

Reviews are resources for endorsements

Blurbs, praise, bullets, whatever. Need some nice quotes? You can get them with book reviews!

Reviews can be networking tools

Both getting and giving reviews gives you contacts with editors of review journals, contacts with other reviewers who are potential reviewers of your books, contacts with other authors who need quotations for their books or referrals.

Once you’re convinced you should get book reviews, then you’re ready for the rest of the book. It walks you through alllllllllllllll the things you need to think through and plan for. It’s a lot, but they payoff is worth it. Not only that, but once you have the reviews the fun is not over! You can reap the benefits of past reviews for years to come.

If it’s time to do marketing, get this book.

Read my full review of How to Get Great Book Reviews.

These are my top five books you should read

All five of these books you should read recommendations are quick and practical with a ton of actionable advice. The big idea is you’ll read through them and then apply what you learn. My hope is you’ll move the needle forward as a result of reading these books.

5 Books You Should Read if You Want to Publish a Book. If you're wondering what books you should read to advance your authorship dreams then you're in the right place. These are my top five pics for laser-focused, practical advice for everything from finding your story to deciding what type of publishing to pursue.

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

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How to Write an Outline for Anything

If you’re a writer then perhaps you know the term “pantser.” It was new to me. Pantser is a type of writer—one who writes by the seat of his pants. Right? The other type of writer is an outliner. Now that one’s a bit more familiar to me. In my heart I’m an outliner. I like having a plan and making it come alive. I like knowing where I’m going rather than discovering it along the way. And I don’t believe outlines cut off creativity—which is why I’m advocating for outlines and showing you how to write an outline for anything.

How to Write an Outline

Do you want the worksheet that goes with this training?

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Now, on to the training.


What is an outline?

In case you didn’t have to write an outline in school for some reason, this is a formal way of arranging and developing your ideas. Don’t let the word “formal” trip you up—this isn’t rigid, it can be adjusted at any point in your writing. An outline can be broad strokes of big/main ideas or detailed and in-depth, depending on your approach. There’s no right or wrong way to outline, and it can be added to and changed as you go.

Why write an outline?

I sat in a workshop with author Anne Perry (by the way…you should read her bio, I had no idea when I went to the workshop. Wow!) who has written like 100 books or something in her career. It was a fascinating argument for outlining from a prolific author. Here are the benefits of writing an outline. Keep in mind she’s giving advice for book outlining, but I think it can be applied to any type of writing.

  • You own the plan
  • It helps with plot clarity
  • Outlining gives your story structure
  • Outlining helps the reasons your characters do things make sense
  • You know your character growth/development from the beginning rather than figuring it out as you go
  • Outlining prevents your story from sagging in the middle
  • Outlining cuts down on the amount of rewrites

What’s the purpose of an outline?

An outline helps you organize your project (article/blog post/book/anything) by helping you check how your ideas connect to each other and discover if anything’s missing. No matter how long your writing project is, outlines help you see the big picture.

How to write an outline for anything

If you’ve read anything I have to say about content strategy, you may find this a bit familiar. The bones are the same but you get a bit more meta when you write an outline.

Here are the broad strokes in five steps.

  1. Identify your topic
  2. List your main points
  3. Structure your argument (put your points in order)
  4. Add sub-points (make connections between main points)
  5. Evaluate and adjust as necessary

See? Not so intimidating or limiting. You’re just getting it down on paper and making sure what you have to say makes sense.

A few tips for when you write an outline

Identify your topic. This should be short but still a complete sentence. This will be your anchor throughout the writing process, keeping you on topic.

List your main points. Your main points are the things you want your audience to know after reading your work. All the main points should be a building block towards your thesis.

Structure your argument. This needs to both flow and make sense to your reader. What do they need to understand first? Second? Third? As you get into writing you may need to change the order of your points, this is normal.

Add sub-points. Sub-points go under the main points—makes sense, right? To have a balanced work, the sub-points for each main point should be somewhat equal. If you have seven sub-points for one main point and two for another, it might be time to reconsider your main points as the one with only a couple sub-points may not be a strong enough argument for your overall topic.

And my final tip

Evaluate and adjust as necessary. Read through your outline. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Is it missing anything? Are there gaps in logic? Is there extra stuff?

I hope this is clarifying and will help with your next project.

Remember, outlining is your friend!

  • It take the guesswork out of what to write
  • It keeps your project on track with relevant content
  • Outlining sets you on a strategic plan that moves you forward
  • It helps you avoid burning out
  • It keeps your project on topic

Thoughts? More tips? Pantser push back? Let me know!

If you're a writer then perhaps you know the term "pantser." It was new to me. Pantser is a type of writer; one who writes by the seat of his pants. Right? The other type of writer is an outliner. Now that one's a bit more familiar to me. In my heart I'm an outliner. I like having a plan and making it come alive. I like knowing where I'm going rather than discovering it along the way. And I don't believe outlines cut off creativity, which is why I'm advocating for outlines and showing you how to write an outline for anything.

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. You can grab the worksheet that goes with this training and more. 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

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