4 Great Ways to Find Local Writing Clients

Carol Tice

It’s a big, wide world of freelance writing out there in our shiny 21st Century. Global, even. I’ve had clients in Australia, the U.K., Canada, and states all over the U.S.

But if you’re just getting started, it can be a good move to start close to home. A local focus will help keep you from getting overwhelmed by all the possibilities out there.

Here are four ways you can connect with local prospective writing clients. The first one involves one of my favorite strategies — helping those clients find you.

1. SEO your website and LinkedIn profile. Hate marketing? Spend a few minutes on these two tasks and then let Google and the LinkedIn search bar send you clients. Stuff your LinkedIn bio with every sort of key word prospects might search on to find you. Add key words to your LinkedIn skills, too.

If your writer site has your name as the URL, add a descriptor to your tagline — mine is “Seattle Freelance Writer.” Fortune 500 companies have called me because of it. Using these descriptive phrases can help kick you to the top of the first page for the sort of thing clients might search. Also consider giving up a location and getting in Google Places — that’ll help, too. Keep updating your site and using your key words to get Google’s attention. Do key word research and target the searches that are right for your niche or location.

2. Meet other local writers. Do a search for “freelance writer yourcity” and see who comes up at the top. Get to know those writers. They’re smart. Where do they hang out? Hang out there, too. I know a writer who got referred a book contract from another local writer who didn’t have time. Knowing other writers is really, really worth it. Too many writers think of other writers as “the competition,” instead of as a vital support network. This is especially important if you’re focused on local publications — who else is going to tell you who’s great, and who pays on the schedule I like to call “half past when the messiah comes”?

3. Go to local networking events. I may have mentioned this before, but meeting live humans rocks for getting gigs. I met both the editor of Costco Connection and the editor for Microsoft Office Live at in-person events…and a few other editors who even hired me, too.

4. Teach a class. I know one blogger who gets all her clients from teaching a free class. Some seem to do better with a cheap but paid class. But either way, get out there and offer something of value. It can be simple — something like 10 tips for better business writing. Anything that shows what you know and how you can help clients. Teaching is a proven way to present yourself as an expert in your niche, and attract good clients.

How do you find local clients? Leave a comment and let us know.


  1. Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog

    Good reminders Carol. I definitely need to optimize better for my city.

    I look in local directories, I reach out to the editors of local publications, I belong to a local business networking group…

    Interestingly enough, almost all of my freelance writing business comes from local clients. They all of a multinational presence, but most are based here in Toronto.

  2. Elizabeth

    Right now I’m working the women’s business networking community. There are lots of groups like BNI, BizChicks, PowerLunch and other local groups. I can usually get an invitation to attend one event for free and find a potential new client.

    In our very local newsletter for my neighborhood, which has a bustling commercial street, I saw an ad for a Chamber of Commerce event at an area hotel FREE admission! I plan to attend next Tuesday while my oldest is at an after school activity.

    • Linda

      I’m doing something very similar Elizabeth. There are an abundance of women’s business orgs in my city. I have gotten a lot of referrals and support from Ladies Who Launch. Is there a chapter in your town? They are a membership group, but they usually have free or very inexpensive mixers for everyone.

  3. Gip

    This is a very timely post for me because I’ve been researching local keywords recently, trying to figure out how to best target them with a new writing website aimed at a local audience.

    I just got a small project from a local client — someone I already somewhat knew — and I realized how much I enjoy actually going to someone’s office and discussing a project in person, something I never thought I would enjoy very much.


    • Carol Tice

      I’m with you, Gip — it’s fun to get out and talk live with people once in a while! Really helps shake up my routine.

      • Linda

        I live in a medium-sized metropolis with a large number of Fortune 500 and public companies. Up until now my clients have been small businesses, but I’m getting ready to aim for some of the big shops because they can pay more. I don’t know where you live Gip, but I bet there’s some big companies around there too.

        One thing I love about local clients is usually easier to start a dialogue or have friendly banter because you can talk about common local references — sports teams, local events — even the weather. I often find them easier to approach.

        • Carol Tice

          On our ‘Kicking the Content Mills’ call with James, I thought that was one of the interesting things…James lives in a very small town and was also running on the assumption there were no big companies to hit. But…hospitals are big. State and city governments tend to be pretty decent-sized. Colleges, too. You have to be living pretty rural to really have NO good local companies or organizations to try.

  4. Terri Huggins

    This is such a timely post as I’ve recently begun tapping into local businesses more. I’ve realized that I tend to feel a tingle when I assist those in my own community with their writing needs. One area I do struggle with is finding other writers in my town. For some reason, I can find local graphic designers, and local photographers. However, I just can’t figure out where the local writers in my area hang out. It definitely makes me feel like I’m mingling in the wrong places. Perhaps they are all taking that short train ride over to New York City. Regardless, my quest for a local writing friend continues. Wish me luck!

    • Carol Tice

      Check and see if Media Bistro hosts an event in your town. If not, start one! Promote it around and I’ll bet you’ll find other writers.

      Also, do those key word searches for writer and see who comes up. I’m sure you’re not the only writer!

      Though if you are, you could turn that to your advantage in local chamber or BNI-type networking, if you’re the only obvious game in town.

      • Terri Huggins

        Thanks. I’ve actually been planning on hosting a meet up or cocktail event in my area for a while. What’s funny is that when I do a keyword search for writers in my area, I keep coming up on all pages. I guess that’s a good thing though. ๐Ÿ™‚

        I’m sure my future writing comrades are hiding in this small town somewhere!

        • Carol Tice

          Try putting a free community notice in the local paper, ask for an RSVP, and see who you turn up.

  5. Linda

    I love the idea of offering a free or inexpensive class. The lightbulb really went off on that one. At this point almost all of my work is local, and I feel like I’ve barely brushing the surface of the possibilities. I supposed one healthy model for a freelance writing business includes room for local, national and international clients.

  6. Edna

    This year I’ve gotten clients through a couple women’s networking groups I’ve joined. That in turn is leading to additional gigs as I get to meet other people who need writers or just don’t like to write or want to if they can find someone else to do it for them. I also enjoy interviewing people in their office or a local cafe, and I really like the interaction.
    I haven’t done any cold calling, I’d rather meet people at a meeting or party and interact that way first. I’ve also gotten local informational interviews from my LinkedIn profile, which has been an unexpected surprise.
    Thanks for the post, very timely as usual.

  7. Katherine Swarts

    Was that “Fortunate 500” under Item #1 a deliberate pun or a Freudian slip?

    • Carol Tice

      Har! Apparently a slip. Fixed now!

  8. Hmerologia

    Very interesting material, thank you for sharing. Unfortunately i live on a place where it is almost impossible to find local clients using classical methods and strategies so i don’t have to share with you and with other readers some tips.
    On the tho other hand what i can add to the discussion is that even if you have to search for clients outside your are the above tips can work if you modify them a little bit.


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