Across the conference table, two business owners sat staring at me, as I explained why they needed to hire me as their writer.
I discussed what they needed – social media, blog articles, employee profiles – and to my newbie surprise, they bought it. All of it. They stood up, shook my hand and eagerly requested a proposal.
I shook their hands, smiled, and nearly collapsed into a puddle of anxiety after I left the room.
This was my first experience with a potential business client, and I had no clue how I’d move forward.
What do I charge? What do I put in my proposal? What do I do next?
Luckily, I had resources, and I put them to work. Here’s what I did to secure my first business client and first writing for money job — at a great pay rate:
1. Consult your community
I logged into the Freelance Writers Den and posted in one of the forums. I gave a brief synopsis of the meeting, and asked the community questions about pricing and proposals.
2. Do your research
My Den community provided me with links to articles, blog posts, and recordings. I reviewed everything that was suggested. I took notes and extracted the information that applied to my situation.
3. Follow expert advice
The Den recently hosted a call with Wealthy Freelancer co-author Steve Slaunwhite on setting prices. I listened to that again, and something he mentioned stuck with me: If I wanted to be treated like a professional, then I needed to set professional rates from the start. So I did that.
4. Bid high
All of the advice and research suggested pricing high to leave room for negotiation. If I priced my services higher than what I wanted to make, then I wouldn’t be disappointed if the client came back to negotiate a lower rate.
After considering what I learned from other writers and from my research, I decided on $1000 to set up their social media accounts (yep, just for setup) and $300 per 500-600 word article/employee profile. I requested 50 percent of the first month’s fee as an initial deposit, to reserve space on my calendar. I also decided to ask for a monthly retainer for maintaining the social media accounts.
5. Give yourself a pep talk
Let’s face it – not everyone can write well. That’s why so many freelancers make big bucks writing for business clients. I had to believe that my potential business client needed what I had to offer. My services hold value – and believing that is the key to asking for a livable wage.
6. Hit send
I didn’t second-guess myself anymore. I drafted the proposal and hit send.
7. Hurry up and wait
I knew I had to keep myself busy if I wanted my sanity intact while I waited. I was working on a magazine article at the time, so I set up interviews and started writing. I scheduled extra marketing time. I used the momentum to work harder toward my goals.
So what happened? That client accepted my original proposal. No negotiations – just a signed contract and a check in the mail. I realize this might not happen every time, but how can you get big freelance jobs if you don’t ask for them?
How did you land your biggest project? Tell us in the comments below.
Nicole Slaughter-Graham hopes to move from part-time to full-time freelancing soon. She blogs about reading and literature at Many Hats.