What’s freelance marketing look like during a global pandemic?
A lot of companies have been thrown for a loop during this COVID-19-induced recession, but that doesn’t mean you should put your freelance marketing efforts on the back burner. It also doesn’t mean you have to avoid firing a bad client because you’re worried about replacing them with a good one.
Seriously. Many companies need more content right now, not less.
So how do you find great clients? With strategic freelance marketing efforts.
How about a little help from pro-freelance writers who are already doing this?
(Note: You’ll want to read the rest of this post.)
We reached out to experienced freelance writers to show you how to:
- Find great clients and snag them, even in a recession
- Get paid well, because fewer clients doesn’t equate to less pay
- Identify niches that pay well and keep growing, even during an economic downturn
- Spot companies that are pivoting their services to address the needs of the new COVID marketplace
- Leverage your network, old leads, and past clients to land assignments.
Want help with freelance marketing to land great clients? See what these 18 freelance experts recommend to book more work and get paid well.
1. ‘Always be pitching’ to stay fully booked
CEO and founder of Make Money Your Honey
Here’s my one tip that always helped me when I was freelancing.
Always be pitching.
The biggest freelance marketing issues writers have with getting clients is always the same.
And it’s an even bigger problem during times of crisis.
You don’t have enough potential deals in the pipeline. The solution: Always be pitching.
2. Market your niche skills & authority to stand out
Content marketing expert & founder of Defy the Status Quo
My top tip for getting clients is the same as it was pre-earth-shaking-chaos: Market your authority.
Most freelance writers who want to get paid more and be seen as their client’s partner want to be respected for the knowledge and experience in their heads.
But they do little to nothing to actually market that very important part of their company.
Since March 2020, I’ve seen MORE opportunities for:
- Authority marketing
- Virtual speaking opportunities
- Podcast interviews
- Expert contribution requests, and more
As a result, I’ve been taking advantage of this not just for my clients, but for myself, too. And the results have been phenomenal. I have a limited number of client spots, and they keep filling up.
Market your authority. Build relationships. And turn content engagement into conversations.
3. Local freelance marketing helps grow your referral network
Author & freelance writing expert
During a time when you can’t meet and greet and introduce yourself, I’ve learned that going to those you already know in your immediate area alleviates some of that COVID stress.
This is an election year.
I’ve acquired speech and website copy gigs just, because I made it known to everyone I knew in my area I was a writer.
I got involved in the local school board elections, helping candidates.
Now I’m THE writer of my town, asked to help this person and that, this company and that.
Plus, people are more likely to want to meet you in person, social distancing, of course, if you are local.
You feel almost like family, which makes many clients feel safer. Make this kind of freelance marketing a habit, and pretty soon everyone knows you as one type of writer or another.
4. Follow the funding & pivots to find writing opportunities
Austin freelance writer and coach
Look into where the money is flowing in terms of funding and VC (Venture Capital) companies.
Surprisingly, many companies continue to get large amounts of funding despite the current conditions.
Think tech industries, sustainability, innovative healthcare, and health/wellness companies. And anyone who’s pivoted to help out companies desperately impacted by COVID-19.
When COVID-19 hit, many companies put on the brakes. But now that it’s September and they see it’s not going away, they’re ramping up content development and making significant changes to their content strategy.
Even if you send some LOIs (Letter of Introduction) and get a, “Not right now, but let’s stay in touch,” response, things are changing so quickly that they could very well need a writer sooner than they think.
If you pay attention to who’s making the right shifts with the economy and current trends, you’ll be able to identify which companies are ramping up. And you’ll find a large pool of good clients.
Plus, because they’re changing with the times, they’re not only getting funding, but steadily increasing their revenue, which means they can afford professional writing rates.
Watch who’s coming to the rescue in these times (companies increasing revenue because they’ve pivoted), and you’ll see a lot of great clients that need content to explain what they do, how they help, and why they made changes.
5. Reactivate old clients & leads to drum up work
Author, freelance writing expert, & coach
When it comes to drumming up new business, most writers focus all their attention on finding new clients.
But I’ve found that one of the fastest, easiest, and least-tapped opportunities for landing profitable work is your past or dormant clients and your not-yet-ready prospects (prospects that were interested when you first reached out, but who didn’t have a project at the time).
And my favorite way of “reactivating” these opportunities is with a very short email that begs to be answered.
Here are a couple of examples…
SUBJECT: White paper
Are you still thinking about writing that white paper on distance learning security challenges?
SUBJECT: Content repurposing idea
Have you thought about repurposing some of your webinars into white papers or e-books?
The keys to making this work:
- Use a very straightforward subject line
- Personalize each message. In some cases you’ll be able to use most or all of it from one prospect to the next. But use past info or insights if they would add some personalization to your note.
- Resist the temptation to further qualify your question or to add more fluff to your introduction. Get right to the point.
- Always end with a question.
It’s often easier to find opportunities with dormant or past clients who already know, like and trust you. So you’re over that hurdle.
Same with not-yet-ready leads who’ve contacted you in the past but never converted to clients. They at least already know who you are and might even trust you to a certain extent.
6. Stay in touch with clients for more work & referrals
Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Freelance tech-writing expert
While there is work out there, it may take more freelance marketing to find it.
Some companies have ramped up writing needs while others have scaled back.
My recent writer survey found that:
- 59% earned more in the first half of 2020 than the first half of 2019
- 38% earned significantly more in the first half of 2020 compared to last year
The biggest takeaway from my survey:
You need to stay in touch with current clients much more regularly than before.
79% of the writers who earned the same or more in 2020, compared to 2019, said that they got work from proactively reaching out to clients.
Clients are so busy right now that you need to stay top of mind, especially with clients you haven’t worked with in a while.
- Check in with your current clients at least every two weeks.
- If you’re looking for new clients, ask your current clients for referrals, both to other departments and projects (if an agency), and to colleagues outside of their company.
- If you’re struggling with freelance marketing right now, give yourself some grace. Each of us has many extra stressors and burdens these days, and we need to be kind to ourselves. You can only do the best we you’re capable of at one given moment.
7. Go ‘all-in’ with freelance marketing to grow your writing business
Co-founder of The Solopreneur Society and Freelance Writing Expert
We started our business in January of 2020. Yeah… not the most optimal time as it turns out.
However, instead of folding up shop and trying to “wait this thing out,” we went all in on showing love to our audience.
- Developing an offering for solopreneurs to help them prospect with soul during the pandemic.
- Launching a budget-friendly, yet fully custom, brand identity service to help clients create legendary brands that can weather any market shift.
- Kicking up the educational opportunities available to our peeps, because we wanted to ensure that our kindreds were able to come out of the other side equipped with more buzz, buyers and budget.
Each one of these strategies — creating just-in-time content, adding a new service offering with an attractive price point, and helping your clients continue to move forward with their own businesses — can help you make sales in the time of COVID-19.
8. Develop multiple freelance writing income streams & referral sources
Content strategist & copywriter
Right now I’m getting the bulk of my clients through referrals and participating in summits.
I’ve also diversified my income, so I don’t just rely on people who need to outsource.
For example, some of my revenue comes from my online course, which runs as an evergreen funnel.
Hosting a course has even helped me land some freelance writing clients.
9. Reach out to rescue clients in need of freelance help
Freelance writer & business consultant
Companies need freelancers during economic hardship.
The startups and companies that have fired or furloughed employees are outsourcing.
Plus, when companies fire loads of employees, most of the marketing team goes (blog managers, copywriters, editors, social media managers, etc.)
Find contacts at companies with recent layoffs and send an email or LinkedIn message. Empathize and let them know you can help during this difficult time.
If you don’t know how to manage social media, write to rank for SEO, or manage WordPress, NOW is a good time to learn. These are profitable upsells…
Clients love writers who can write a blog, optimize it for SEO, publish it in WordPress, and share it on the company’s social media accounts.
10. Networking is an easier way to win clients than cold-pitching prospects
Freelance writing expert & coach
Focus on your past clients and lean on your network during a pandemic or economic crisis.
It’s always been easier to win new business from previous clients than it has been to win new clients. Start by evaluating what your past clients’ new needs are.
For example, if they’re trying to pivot away from local marketing to online marketing, be the writer and consultant to manage the change.
They’ll be glad to work with someone who already understands their audience. Hiring you will make it easier for them to continue to provide for their audience’s needs, even if those needs are shifting.
By helping your clients plan for the long term, you’ll create a win-win situation for both of you.
11. Use LinkedIn to develop relationships with potential freelance clients in your niche
Gertrude Nonterah, PhD
Nurse, scientist, and freelance healthcare writing expert
Use LinkedIn to nurture and start relationships with people/companies in your industry who need your services.
Even though the pandemic has meant lay-offs and budget cuts, the truth is that companies (including my niche…health and wellness) still need educational content.
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile
- Nurture relationships with your current LinkedIn connections
- Connect with new contacts on LinkedIn
Build relationships. It’s by far the most effective way I’ve attracted new prospects and clients during this season.
Successful business owners and freelance writers spend time building meaningful relationships on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, email or whatever medium you prefer. Just keep building.
12. Adjust to meet marketplace demands of freelance writing clients
Founder of The Ultimate Freelance Guide
What do your freelance clients and prospects need right now?
You might need to adjust to meet market place demands by:
- Gaining new skills that help your clients and potential clients survive the pandemic
- Expanding your list of freelance marketing and writing services
Really think about what your potential and current clients might need during a time like this and work that into a new product or service. For example:
- Take a free or inexpensive course that teaches you how to run successful Facebook ad campaigns, then add that to your list of services.
- Expand your product offerings. If you sell eBooks, and they’re kind of on the expensive side, consider writing a few shorter eBooks and selling them at lower prices. Not only will it help increase your authority factor, but it’ll give your audience more affordable options. And you won’t have to lower your prices.
13. Use LinkedIn tools to connect with your ideal clients
EVP of Innovation at Massive Alliance, contributor with CNBC and Entrepreneur magazine
My top tip would actually be to leverage LinkedIn one of two ways.
1. If you have Sales Navigator, you can filter a target audience by those who have “posted on LinkedIn in the last 30 days”. This is such a critical filter for you to then drill down to what exactly your prospect is saying so you can hyper-align a pitch to them, relevant to what they’re sharing or talking about.
2. If you don’t have Sales Navigator, I suggest searching hashtag groups, relevant to your industry, and discovering similar commentary. (You might have to dig a bit deeper on this one and do some scrolling, though). Prospective clients are talking about their needs every day!
14. Build your personal brand to attract more freelance work
Blogger, podcaster, & side-project aficionado
No matter the industry you’re in, these are pretty weird times.
I’ve spoken with some freelancers who are overbooked with new projects these past few months, and others who are struggling to keep existing clients and attract new ones.
The single biggest differentiating factor between the freelancers who are busier than ever and those in need of more projects today—is whether or not they have a strong personal brand.
The freelancers who are thriving have invested time and effort into:
- Building their own blogs
- Growing their social media communities
- Creating connections with other leaders in their industry
- Striving to get featured on recognizable publications
As many client budgets have gotten tighter when it comes to hiring outside contractors, the priority seems to have shifted even more toward working with freelance writers who’ve branded themselves as an authority within their spaces.
15. Niche marketing always pays off for freelance writers
Speaker, author, & copywriting expert
Pick a niche market.
When you do, everything becomes clearer.
You’ll quickly find out:
- What these companies need from you (as a writer)
- How to approach them
- What to say to pique their interest in your services and hire you.
16. Smart freelance marketing strategies will help you find great clients
Here are three things my coaching students and I have found are working right now:
1. Find prospects by checking ‘Who’s Viewed My Profile?’ on LinkedIn
It’s a great time to buy a month of Premium (there’s a level that’s just $30), and get the data on who checked out your profile. Those are the warmest leads you’ll ever find!
Anyone who looks like a prospect, shoot them an InMail and ask if they were looking for a writer. Keep building your LinkedIn network, as that will get you found on more searches — and in turn, get more prospects checking out your profile.
2. Look for winners
Remember that some industries are thriving now — companies that provide online learning tools, for instance. Make winners your targets.
Even in struggling industries, you can spot innovators, if you read the business news outlets — the cruise lines that are now offering virtual tours, for instance.
Bigger, better-funded companies are looking to double down on marketing, to take market share from competitors during this crisis. Google for biggest/best company lists in your sectors and prospect to those leads.
3. Pitch freelance work to OLDER full-time job listings
Things may have gone haywire, they never made that hire, or maybe that hire washed out. And listings from a month back aren’t getting a lot of responses, so you’ll stand out.
17. Initiate conversations with your freelance clients to learn more about their content needs
Certified content strategist & health-tech freelance writer
Use your clients to get deeper insights.
I’m in healthcare, and we’ve been going through a lot of turmoil in the last few months.
For some of my clients, business slowed. For others, it picked up.
Initiate conversations with your clients about why things are happening and what they expect to see in the future.
What you learn can help you refocus your freelance marketing efforts and keep work flowing, even as things continue to unfold.
18. Follow up with your leads to land more assignments
Freelance financial writer & consultant
What’s been most helpful for me is following up on leads that I’ve connected with pre-COVID.
Follow-up is always key. But it’s even more important right now.
Here’s an easy way to remember to follow up: Set calendar reminders to check in with current, previous, and potential clients (both monthly and quarterly).
Even if they don’t have work at the moment, this keeps you in mind for upcoming projects.
I recently landed $1,600 of work, because I followed up regularly with a lead back in March.
Level up your freelance marketing efforts to get great clients
Want to move up and earn more as a freelance writer, even during COVID-19? Level up your freelance marketing efforts with these tips from pro writers who are already doing it. NOW is always the best time to start.
Need help with freelance marketing? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Kathie Bullard Harris is a freelance health and wellness writer living in the Southern United States. When she isn’t writing copy, she’s working on her forever-in-progress first novel.