Earn More Freelancing in 2017: Ask These 4 Questions Now

Carol Tice

Earn more freelancing in 2017Are you desperate to get more freelance writing gigs?

Well, today I want to talk about how to bust out of the feast-or-famine trap and earn more freelancing. You do this by laying the groundwork now for a thriving business in the fall and on into 2017.

No, it’s not too early to think about next year! In many ways, it’s the perfect time.

The less desperate you seem when you present yourself to clients, the more likely it is you’ll be able to line up some great-paying freelance work. You seem busy and successful, instead of broke and pathetic.

Thinking way ahead also allows you to research prospects more carefully. It takes the pressure off and lets you take time to research the size of their annual revenue, or the types of articles they publish, to see if they’re a good fit for you.

If you need to, continue marketing for more immediate gigs. But reserve some time for pursuing your long game.

When you inquire about opportunities for the coming year, that telegraphs to prospects that you must be booked up until then. Why, you’re marketing six months out! That’s a pro move.

What can you say to prospects now to pave the way to better earnings late this year or early next?

Here are four questions that can start a conversation with prospects, position you as a pro — and help you land some juicy freelance gigs:

1. Is your 2017 editorial calendar available yet?

Most national publications work out their editorial calendar pretty far in advance. Their plan for next year will start circulating around the office pretty soon.

They may not post it online until late fall, but if you ask, you might get your hands on it much sooner. If it’s not ready now, find out when it will be — then check back in when it’s supposed to be released.

Getting a copy of the editorial calendar earlier gives you more time to think, research, pre-interview, and develop story ideas that fit themes your target publication will explore in the coming year. You’ve got time to look up how they did last year’s special section on vacation getaways or bathroom hardware, and figure out how to bring them a fresh slant.

It’s a great way to get a jump on the competition and stand out with more well-thought-out ideas.

2. Are you planning your 2017 marketing calendar now?

The bigger the company or publication, the farther ahead they tend to work. Offer to help (a little). If you can be part of the conversation about upcoming issue themes or marketing campaigns, it puts you top of mind when it’s time to execute on those plans.

Offer to take a quick coffee or Skype call and give them a few insights and ideas on what’s hot in content marketing, or how you could contribute to their fall/winter efforts. They’ll remember you when it’s time to start making those assignments.

Keep these sort of free-tip sessions to 15 minutes or so — leave them wanting more expertise from you, so you get hired, rather than milked for information and then discarded.

After you touch base, stay on their radar. If you discussed case studies in your call and then you complete one for another client, send it over. Email them an interesting article on their industry, ask about a controversy in the sector, retweet their posts — anything that keeps your name in front of your prospect without being obnoxiously salesy.

3. Has your new fiscal year started?

If you target medium-sized to larger companies for writing work, know that quite a few of the biggies have a fiscal year that ends June 30, rather than December 31. That means come July 1, they’re into a fresh pot of marketing money. (For publicly held companies, you can check the financial releases on their website or use the SEC site Edgar to learn when their year ends.)

Projects that have been stalled or postponed may suddenly get kicked back into high gear right after 4th of July weekend. Plans are laid for how the marketing budget will be spent in the fall and winter.

Check in now, and you may find you’ve hit a gusher of possible projects, due to your good timing.

4. Will you have writing needs 3-6 months from now?

This is a catch-all way to market ahead, whether the company is cracking a new budget now, knows their exact 2017 plans yet, or not. It shows you’re a businessperson who’s thinking ahead. Connect with business owners who think the same way, and they’ll feel you’re their type of writer.

A typical script might go like this:

I wanted to check in to see if you have upcoming writing needs for this fall or winter. I’m fully booked until then (yes, say that even if you aren’t), but I’m looking for a few new clients who need (your type of writing project here) for the end of the year. Let me know if it would make sense to get together and and make a plan for meeting your future projects.

These are all great questions to ask quality prospects — even while you continue to market for immediate gigs. Go after better prospects with a long-term view, and in just a few months you could turn your whole income picture around.

What’s your plan for booking freelance work for 2017? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.


Earn more freelancing: Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator


  1. Leslie Shortlidge

    Carol, thanks so much for these ideas. Could I use this script as part of my initial contact with a company? I imagine this as part of a letter of introduction or other solicitation.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, that’s why I gave it to you! 😉

      In general, I’d recommend asking ONE of these questions, not cramming all 4 into a single LOI…take a look at the company and choose your best approach.

    • Pattie P

      Great post. Thanks. One of my goals is to ramp up this year after my move to Oregon next month and join Den 2X next year.

  2. Beryl

    An excellent post. I would have thought bit a bit pushy to ask those kind of questions, but you have given me the confidence to give it a try. Thank you.

    • Carol Tice

      Not at all — these are questions that show marketing savvy, to me, and an understanding of how companies operate and plan their marketing.

  3. Jennifer Fowler

    Another great post! Thank you for the script. I will have to give it a try.

    I must say that I did some cold pitching with confidence after reading your previous blogs and it’s worked out very well. I have one new ongoing monthly client and another that I did a small job for but says he will be in touch when he’s ready for web content.

    I really enjoy all of your tips!

    • Carol Tice

      Wow, that’s awesome — thanks for sharing the win!

    • Pattie P

      Jennifer–did you live/work on Sanibel Island in the past?

      • Jennifer Fowler

        No, I didn’t.

  4. Laura Ryding-Becker

    Thanks for sharing these great ideas, Carol! I am ready to break in to the world of commercial freelancing and can use all the tips I can get. I agree; these questions are proactive and show that you are organized and serious.

    I do have one silly question: What exactly is “pre-interviewing”? I understand the need interview experts for articles. Is this where you decide which experts you want to use?

    Thanks again! 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      Laura, when you put together query letters to pitch publication editors for article assignments, you often want to have a few quick quotes from your intended source to put in the query. We call that a ‘pre-interview,’ where you speak to them briefly to develop the query and then circle back to do the full interview if you get the assignment.

      • Laura Ryding-Becker

        I see! Thanks! 🙂

  5. Enock Machodi

    Once again, this one did come along!

    In my view as a “freelance content marketer”: using “well written, rich experiential content offers” works for me. When you are able to do something creative well, over time, you become better at it. At times like that is when you really want to make sure everything you do you record for later analysis.

    Doing so ensures you have something in the form of a written process to show (off) to clients. Once you are able to grab their attention using that as a “guide”, eventually you can “update” them about it at the right time, when they most need your “freelance writing services”.

    It takes time to get this done. But ultimately and if done properly, you should be able to “attract” new writing clients as strangers on your website or blog. Once there you can possibly “convert” them as prospective leads, then “close” and turn them into buying customers for your business. It helps when you can nurture and “delight” them too, just in case you need word to go out to more clients who at the moment lack any knowledge that you can write.

    So, to be able to get customers in the last half of this year, or even in “2017”, I don’t really think it’s only necessary for you to “ask 4 questions now”. FYI! Creating “””content means business”””!

    If you are desperate, without patience, “quit now”! Otherwise, you need to create will and patience to earn ($$$) freelancing. To get more freelance writing gigs, “content marketing” is indispensable.

    But you have to ask the right questions, in depth, and in the right order!

    That’s just part practical of “how hungry and desperate freelance writers” manage to get high paying freelance gigs – on the GO!

    But that’s ME! I mean… It’s been long time doing it.

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve read through this several times, and I’m afraid I’m really not following what you’re saying! Maybe it’s all the recreational quotes…but I think you’re saying you still need to build your specialty and convert prospects, which of course you do.

      My point with this piece is just that most writers don’t reach out this far in advance and instead come at prospects from a more desperate position. Thinking ahead with your marketing can help put you in a power position for negotiating better rates and coming off like a pro.

  6. Sherri Ledbetter, Freelance Writer

    Taking the long-range view. Great idea and it’s another “excuse” to contact a prospect or current client…to stay on their radar. 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      Good point! Writers are always asking me how they can follow up without being annoying — asking about long-range goals is one conversation you can have after that first contact.

  7. Tina

    This is great information! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Virginia Nicols

    “Will you have writing needs 6 months from now?” is a great way to get back in touch with prospects and past clients. It’s a perfectly non-threatening question that will get people thinking creatively instead of defensively. Thanks.

  9. Judith Docken

    As always, great information! Thanks Carol!

  10. Todd

    I did a cold pitch too after reading blogs and they took my offer. We’ll see how it works out. I need to do more, but I was testing it out. Also have a guest post coming up at a top 40 ranked marketing blog according to Inbound.org. Should be fun!

  11. Diane Young

    I love your suggestion to inquire about a magazine’s 2017 editorial
    calendar! That beats searching back through the archives to find out
    what a magazine has run the past year. I’d much rather pitch for the
    future, rather than trying to figure out something from the past.

  12. Mark Sandel

    Thanks, a great writing!

  13. Kevin Casey, The Jet-setting Copywriter

    Carol, thanks for this post. I think a lot of writers don’t make a concrete plan for the upcoming year, and it hurts them. ‘Just drifting along’ doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to grow your business and attract a whole new batch of exciting clients.

    Here in Australia, our ‘financial year’ goes from July to the following June, so I’m just starting to organize this year’s calendar (and do last year’s taxes!). But the last twelve months have been incredible – I’ve earned well over $50,000 writing for some amazing clients (and that’s with only working 7-8 months of the year), visited Tasmania, swam with manta rays on the Great Barrier Reef, played digital nomad for 5 weeks in Cordoba, Argentina and just got back last week from a month in Spain and Portugal. I also (finally) managed to get my blog up and running – the same blog I’ve been putting off for 3 years because I’ve been way too busy writing for clients and gallivanting around the globe!

    Not sure what’s in store for the next 12 months, but I know it’ll be busy, fun and rewarding. I’ve never written an article from the side of a hot spring in Iceland… maybe I’ll try that….

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