How I Found 16 Great Writing Client Leads on My Lunch Break

Carol Tice

Freelance writer's working lunchby James Hart

Working an 8-to-6 day job along with a weekend gig to cover my student loans means I don’t have a lot of spare time to launch my freelance career. I’ve had to find creative but effective ways to promote my work, send out pitches and research prospective clients in a very tight schedule.

That’s why it thrilled me to find 16 good client leads while on my lunch break, just by standing in line at my local food market.

What I did was fast, easy to do, and I guarantee that it can work for you, too. It’ll just cost you half an hour and a couple extra dollars at the checkout line. Let me walk you through it.

1. Pick Up A Regional Magazine

You know, the ones featuring dining, real estate and boutique retail stores and cost about five dollars. There’s a handful in my area, and although they each have a slightly different focus—landscaping, interior design, events, etc. —they’re a treasure trove for prospective clients.

My advice would be to pick one you might think of reading anyway; you’ll find it easier and more comfortable to pitch to companies selling services you’re already interested in.

2. Read The Ads, Not The Articles

Got your lunch and your magazine? Great! Now sit down and read through each section.

But don’t read the articles; instead, look at the ads. Make a list of all the big, full- or half-page write-ups that look well-designed; local companies willing to pay for quality marketing are what you’re looking for.

Which industries? It shouldn’t matter too much; if the business is local, you probably know enough about their potential clients and what their needs are to feel comfortable pitching to them.

3. Check Them Out on Manta, the Web

Now that you have a list of companies, check them out online. Are there any deficiencies you see on their website? Is their blog working for them? Is their social media up to scratch?

Spend some time getting acquainted with their business, and see if their web presence is really working for them. No matter what kind of professional writing you’re into, it shouldn’t be hard to find out how you could improve their material.

For example, the magazine I picked up off the shelf was 375 pages. From that, I listed 80 companies I might want to pitch to. After looking at each company website and checking out their Manta profile, I found 16 businesses that were well-established, had a decent revenue stream and took their marketing seriously…but had a blog that needed serious work.

But mind you, that was nearly every company that had a blog. Only three out of 80 had a blog that was working for them.

Pretty encouraging, right? And by checking out such a diverse range of businesses, I also developed some ideas about how to break into more markets.

In just a half-hour, I was ready to send out letters of introduction or call my prospects and make my pitch to help their blog get their business more traffic and leads.

All it cost me was five dollars and a working lunch break. I strongly encourage you to try this for yourself and see what you find!

How do you find prospective clients? Tell us your approach in the comments.

James Hart is a professional writer who specializes in environmental advocacy and adventure sports. 

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  1. Linton Midgley

    Now who says there’s no chance you’ll get paid sooner by spending some money for a lunch? I’m totally looking forward on this one, James. Thanks for sharing. And btw, aside from Manta, there are also other business listing sites that you can check out for your prospect clients. Google+, Yahoo Local and Yelp seem to be the most popular business listing sites and there’s a greater chance that they already put out their businesses in these sites already.

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