A 4-Step Guide To Finding Freelance Clients While You Exercise

Carol Tice

Find freelance writing clients while you exercise. Makealivingwriting.comAre you tired of competing with umpty-million writers for those low-paying jobs on Craigslist?

Is your belly getting flabbier thanks to all those hours in front of the computer?

There’s a way to solve both of these problems at once.

You can get in a nice workout while you find quality clients.

Warning: You will need to get up from your computer and leave your house.

But if you’re willing to do that, you could come home with some great client leads or even a gig by the end of today.

What is this marketing method? I call it —

Prospecting by walking around

This marketing method is as low-tech as it gets.

It involves reaching out to businesses at their workplace. This allows you to find busy, successful companies with pent-up demand for freelancers but no time to look for help.

By turning up in person, you show you’re interested in learning about their business. You’re also serious about finding new clients — serious enough to get off your duff and come out and meet them. Not many writers do that, so you stand out right away.

Bring a small notebook for writing down business names. Wear good walking shoes. Bring your business cards. And you’re ready to go.

Step one: Choose a place to walk around that has a lot of businesses. Good places for a prospecting walk include:

  • A business, technology, or industrial park
  • An office tower (take the stairs)
  • Your town’s main shopping street
  • The mall (most rent a proportion of their stalls to local businesses)
  • The strip malls around the mall

Your chosen target should have many businesses in an area that you could walk around within an hour or two.

My personal favorite is industrial parks. These are often chock-full of low-glamour wholesale, manufacturing, or import-export businesses.

Nobody ever pitches them. This means they are wide open for you to talk up your writing services.

Step two: Park your car, get out, and walk around. Note the business names. Skip the big national brands (this isn’t the way to pitch them) and focus on regional or local companies.

Step three: If you don’t want to approach these business owners cold, take your list of names home after your walk and do some Internet research. Identify companies with stale websites. Scan for recent news announcements about the companies. Learn a bit about their business. Identify areas where they could add to their marketing materials.

Then, return to your walk site for another stroll to talk to business owners.

Or, if you want to just go for it, proceed straight to:

Step four: Knock on the door, or just walk in if it’s a retail shop. Introduce yourself. Be sure to smile and be friendly.

Your script might go like this:

Retail store:

Hi, are you the owner or the manager? I love this store! I’ve shopped here before (if you have).

I saw your (newsletter/website/flier/whatever)…I’m a freelance writer. I’m wondering if you have any writing needs? Do you send out marketing emails to customers, for instance?

May I leave you my business card and get yours? I’ll follow up and send you some samples.

Industrial park:

Hi, I’m looking for the owner or manager? I was in the area visiting (company next door to this one), and saw your nameplate on the door.

I wanted to stick my head in because from your name it sounded like you have a business in (sector), which is a specialty of mine. I’m a freelance writer.

I’m wondering if you have any writing needs?

May I leave you my business card and get yours? I’ll follow up and send you some samples.

Work your way through all the businesses in your chosen locale. You’ll go home having burned some calories — and with a nice stack of leads to follow up on.

You can repeat this method at a new location, whenever you need new clients and want to burn some calories.

How do you get new clients? Leave a comment and share your strategy.

P.S. Want more tips on how to find great freelance writing clients? Then get in the Den. Doors close Thursday.

Join my freelance writer community. Makealivingwriting.com

13 Comments

  1. Alex Bramwell

    Good advice, and not just for writers!

  2. Terri Huggins

    Great post. It’s something I’ve thought to do frequently. In fact, I actually walk around town and take pictures of business signs, go home to research the business and expect to go back during my walk to talk to them. The only problem is the last step never gets done because I convince myself that I might make a fool of myself or just get very nervous and scared. One these days, I will have to psych myself out so I make myself believe I’ll hit a home run going on that final follow up walk to talk to someone.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Terri —

      I love that you’re doing walking research!

      If you’re frozen on doing in-person follow up, you could always send them marketing emails afterward to introduce your services and point out whatever gap you’ve noticed in their marketing that you might fill. I always say the best kind of marketing is the kind you’re willing to DO. That would be less of a calorie burner, but maybe more likely to get YOU some clients.

  3. John Soares

    I love this approach Carol. It combines finding under-served markets and then having the chutzpah to march in and talk to them.

    I’m in a fairly narrow niche, and the companies range from medium size to huge, so I’ve taken a different approach lately — I cruise the Internet finding higher education companies that I know hire writers, but likely don’t get contacted frequently by freelancers. I then either write or call, as appropriate.

    • Carol Tice

      I hear you…fine for you, John, but we know you already get enough exercise 😉

  4. Elizabeth

    This might make me sound naive – but does this count as soliciting?

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Elizabeth — I guess it could be seen that way, but it’s not the usual type of solicitation, which is usually to sell the merchant some sort of goods. If I didn’t know the business I might skip them if they’ve got a big ‘no soliciting’ sign…but that’s one of the other beauties of doing the industrial park. They get hit so seldom you don’t see that ordinarily.

  5. Joanne Wallace

    Carol, your posts always make me smile. Thanks for this – I’m dusting off my walking shoes (well, ok, boots … it’s still winter here.)

  6. Dana Sitar

    Great tips, thank you. I’m just getting started as a freelancer, and finding clients is such an intimidating task! You give it such a unique (yet so simple) spin.

  7. Josh Monen

    This is a great tip I’ve used to get clients. I kind of took it a step further and started a “hyperlocal media” website for my town of 18,000 people. So I walk into a business and let them know I’d like to interview them for an article on the Battle Ground Buzz (my site). And they eventually ask what I do and tell them I do the Buzz as a side project but I work primarily as a freelance copywriter…

    • Carol Tice

      I LOVE it, Josh. Probably something we should have a guest post on sometime, hmmm? Especially if it’s gotten you some good clients.

      • Josh Monen

        Yeah, I’d be happy to write a guest post on this sometime. It’s a great way to get connected with local business owners. Owners love the idea of free advertising and they are more likely to hire you if you’ve done something helpful for them first.

  8. José

    this is very good and quite original advice! I’m definetily trying this!

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