So you’ve been looking for content writing clients every which way from Sunday and you’re coming up empty. You’ve got the skills, the motivation, and the inclination to start up a writing side hustle but you haven’t got the first clue where to find someone who will actually pay you to put pen to paper.
Continue reading below to find out the surprisingly simple strategy I followed to go from less than $500 to over $6000 per month in 90 days.
Content Writing Clients: The Freelance Platform Method
There are a number of different ways to find content writing clients. You might pound the pavement in your neighborhood canvassing local businesses seeking to expand their web presence. You could buy Facebook or Google Ads for your services. You might even hit up family and friends if you were so inclined.
I think I have a better way, however, and it’s deceptively simple. Make use of the platforms expressly designed to match content writing freelancers with clients. Upwork, Fiverr, and the more niche writing platforms are tailored to help you find clients.
Throughout this article I’ll be using Upwork as an example (because that’s where I found success) but the strategies found here should work with any popular freelance platform. I’m also going to assume you’ve already read my article on how to start content writing on Upwork, as it goes through some of the basics regarding how to join and set up your profile.
Content Writing Clients: Reframing The Question
Before I begin in earnest, I’d like to suggest that we reframe the question implied at the beginning of this article. Rather than ask, where can I find clients, you should be asking yourself, where can I find the right client?
Based on my experience, 90% of your success or failure as a content writing freelancer is going to come from the alignment, or lack thereof, between you and your client. More specifically, your success is going to depend on the agreement between your skills and your clients’ expectations. If you choose the wrong clients you’ll be bound to disappoint them because they’ll expect results you can’t deliver.
It can be tempting to try to grab onto every potential client who comes along, especially at the beginning when you need the business. But, in my view, no business is better than a bad client. The former is far from ideal but the latter is downright disastrous.
Freelance platforms are so useful because they give you access to information about clients that let you answer the following question: Is this a content writing client who’s expectations I can meet or exceed?
Striking A Balance
You’ll need to strike a fine balance between being so discriminating with your clients that you won’t find anyone to work with and working with anyone who comes along. The beginner’s goal on freelance platforms is to build up a bank of positive reviews to enhance their credibility with future clients. The way to do this is to do good work for reasonable clients with clear expectations. So look for exactly that: reasonable clients with clear expectations.
I’ll assume that you’ve logged in to Upwork (or your platform of choice) and you’re looking at a job posting. Before you hastily click the “Submit a Proposal” button, read the job post in full. What does it tell you about the poster? Are they polite? Professional? Do they come off as friendly or contemptuous? Are they dismissive or welcoming?
While you shouldn’t go reading into every last comma and period (this isn’t a late-night text from your ex), the overall tone of the content writing client’s post tells you a lot about the person who posted it. Ideally, you’re looking for a friendly, professional, and polite post that communicates a willingness to work cooperatively.
If you do submit a proposal and you’re invited to discuss the job with the client, keep an eye on how they communicate with you before the engagement has begun. Do they remain friendly and professional? Or do you get the feeling that this person might be a bit of a jerk? If it’s the latter, you’re usually much better off cutting bait early than getting yourself into something you might regret later.
If you’ve ever worked remotely before, you know how important responsiveness is. Waiting for weeks for a client to respond is never a fun experience in and of itself. Additionally, a lack of responsiveness can, in some cases, communicate a lack of respect for the freelancer and their time.
When you’re first invited to discuss a job with a client, make note of how quickly they respond to your messages on the platform. Do they respond promptly or are you left waiting for days in between messages? If it’s the latter, you’re taking a significant risk by accepting that particular content writing client.
Has the client, either in the job post itself or during your subsequent conversations, clearly defined what a successful deliverable looks like? If they have, that’s an excellent sign that you’re dealing with someone who knows what they want, knows what they’re doing, and will confine their demands to what’s reasonable in the circumstances. If they have not, you run the risk of conflict down the road when you’re deep into your fourth re-write trying to fix a problem with your work that your indecisive content writing client can’t adequately identify.
Always, always, always check the feedback that the client has previously provided to freelancers before you accept a job. While it’s not at all unreasonable for someone to give the occasional freelancer a negative review, a large number of negative reviews is a huge red flag. It suggests that, for whatever reason, the client is regularly unhappy with the work he receives. And, as far you’re concerned, the reasons don’t matter. Why would you want to work with a client who’s consistently disappointed?
Content Writing Clients: Final Thoughts
If you take only one thing from this article, remember that having too few clients is preferable to having the wrong clients. To ensure you don’t choose the wrong content writing client, keep a close eye on their job postings, their communications with you, the expectations they set, and their past behavior with other freelancers. You’ll be glad you did.