If you’re a freelance writer you may have heard people recommend trying to find clients on LinkedIn. Perhaps in years past it wasn’t a big deal to let the sleeper social media network be a background app but those days are over. LinkedIn is now a viable option for securing excellent freelance writing gigs.
How to Find Clients on LinkedIn | Prospecting Tips for Freelance Writers
I see a lot of freelancers posting in networking groups about how they’re frustrated with low rates from traditional publications and don’t know where to look for those niche clients who pay well. For freelance writers searching for stable, corporate clients, LinkedIn may be their shining beacon of hope.
There are good reasons for freelancers to consider prospecting on LinkedIn. For example,
- Popular freelance marketplace go-tos like job boards and content mills are competitive and there are more disappointing rates then there are decent ones
- Writers are discovering more magazine contracts filled with rights grabs (extending to television and movies) and imndemnity clauses, which don’t favour the freelancer
- Journalists are finding fewer job opportunities as newsrooms get smaller and dailies are shut down. As a result they’re moving into content marketing or busines to business writing
Here is what your LinkedIn profile needs
- A professional and/or decent headshot
- Accurate keywords describing what you do (nothing fancy or clever, what would your ideal client type into the search bar? Use those words)
- A descriptive summary using keywords that will resonate with your ideal client (What problems do you solve? How can you help?)
- Plain language—people are here to do business
- Bonus: the more niche, the better
How to use LinkedIn to find clients
Before you do anything, figure out how the platform works and learn the conventions. I’ve already mentioned people come here to do business but it goes deeper than that. Look at what type of articles and other content people publish. Pay attention to the style of comments people leave. And notice the conversations happening. They’re unique to this platform so make sure you’re aware of platform expectations.
Once you have a handle on the decorum, consider publishing a few articles on LinkedIn Publisher related to your area of expertise. These should be targeted at your ideal client and solve a problem they’re having.
Now you’re ready to start connecting
Connection type 1: search the platform for your ideal clients.
Oh, and make sure you have a good idea of who you’re looking for.
For example, if you’re prospecting for mid-level IT businesses, who do you need to connect with in the company? A marketing manager? If you’re interested in publishing in a niche trade magazine perhaps you’ll look for an editor. Narrowing your search will help you focus on the best possible matches and will streamline your efforts.
Basically, think of common titles your market would use to describe themselves (CEO, accountant, sales manager, etc.) and use those when searching.
When you’re clear on your prospect then you can look for these people either using the LinkedIn Advanced Search or LinkedIn Groups.
Once you find people who fit your current client focus, reach out and request a connection. Make sure to add a personalized message to your request but don’t pitch anything yet. You’re just networking at this point.
These people may or may not accept your requests but for the ones who do, send a thank-you message and ask a question. But still, no pitching. All you’re doing here is getting to know them a bit. Small talk. You could see if they work with freelance writers but I’d even be careful jumping into that question right away.
If the conversation progresses and the manager/editor/prospect wants to see more this is the time to send your Letter of Introduction (LOI).
Want to learn more about LOIs? I recommend reading Jennifer Goforth Gregory’s blog.
Connection type 2: Connect with people who have viewed your profile.
LinkedIn lets you know who has viewed you profile. Pay attention to this! If the person who viewed your profile seems like a good fit, then send them a connection request with a personalized note.
This more or less follows the same process as above but I might be a little more casual at first, asking questions like what they’re working on these days and what they’re up to in general.
But if it seems like they could use a freelance writer then jump back into business mode and get your LOI ready and send it over.
Regular prospecting on LinkedIn can take as little as 15 minutes per day using the free version where you send a few connection request, comment on threads or post articles. But if it becomes an important client source you may want to consider upgrading your account to increase your search and messaging credits, as well as other perks.
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.