In the sciences, when a procedure doesn’t work you change the method. I am now applying this basic rule to my freelancing business. Let me tell you what I mean.
I have always tried to find new clients and publications by pitching story ideas to the editors directly and following up with them. I have had some success with getting into newspapers and websites like this, but magazines have proven to be nearly impossible, and making a living via freelance journalism alone is equally impossible unless you have tons of industry connections and 10+ years of experience on your CV. Copywriting for businesses is where the money is, so where do you find those clients?
You certainly won’t find them through Craigslist or internet job boards. Those outlets are a colossal waste of time. I have sent upwards of 120+ responses to job ads and only recieved maybe 4 or 5 replies. Not a good hit rate at all. What’s more is the clients I have found can never afford my rates, so I don’t want to write for them anyway. I can’t make a living on 2 cents a word.
So I am changing the process. No longer am I wasting my hours away fruitlessly replying to these ads. Instead, I have now turned to LinkedIn to find new clients. So far, the results have been promising. I have not landed any new clients yet, but I feel that if I keep pressing with this new initiative eventually I will break through the wall and find new business. How am I doing this? Easy.
Connect to as many people as possible. The more connections you have, the more people you can reach. I am adding new connections every day. There is cap of 3000 1st degree connections, so I want to hit that as soon as possible.
Send personal messages to new connections thanking them for the add, and asking if they would ever need a freelancer. This hasn’t landed anything yet, but it does make people remember me and could possibly lead to new business down the line.
Join and post in groups. Posting new topics and comments in various groups will increase my reach even more. My posts will appear on my connections’ news feeds, and it will also get me in front the eyes of people around the world who I’m not yet connected to. Do this long enough and who knows what captain of industry might take notice.
Post regular updates on my feed. These will be articles I’ve written, blog posts like this one, shameless self-promotions, and other interesting content that could be useful or valuable to others. These updates will continually remind people of my existence.
That’s really all there is to it. I have also signed up for a trial month of LinkedIn premium. So far I like it a lot because it gives me more information on specific jobs that I might apply for, and it lets me see everyone who has looked at my profile. I can follow up with those people and see if they could use a freelancer. This is another way of finding clients on LinkedIn. Plus the gold LI badge on my profile adds credibility. Being able to send InMail to 2nd and 3rd degree connections is great too, but I only get 5 of these a month under my current account option, so they must be used wisely. These can be a great way of contacting potential clients and gatekeepers to clients
LinkedIn is a social network for businesses, unlike Facebook which is for socializing or Twitter which is for talking about issues. It truly is the most useful social network out there for freelancers simply because it is, by nature, all business. My only regret is that I didn’t wake up and start doing this sooner.