How to Get Freelance Writing Clients Begging to Hire You

Carol Tice


Many freelance writers are trapped in a cycle of desperation, hoping a client might hire them at any rate, no matter how low.

Today, let’s talk about the other side of that coin. Yes, there is one!

It’s the dynamic where you get freelance writing clients who are simply dying to hire you. They become convinced their projects will not succeed without your specific skills and expertise. No other writer will do.

Obviously, this is a great position to be in, because then you have no competitors. You are the only writer they want! Which allows you to charge a lot for your writing.

Believe it can’t happen? I can tell you, it does.

When you’re in demand

Recently, I’ve had members of my Freelance Writers Den community comment that they’ve had clients wait their projects while they got over lengthy illnesses, or until they got back from long trips.

It’s happened to me as well. A couple months ago, I got a referral for a client who wanted a business-plan like project done. I responded that I had zero availability for the next three weeks. My assumption was that would send him on his way to find another writer.

Know what he did? He waited.

In three weeks, he called me up again to ask if we could get started! I was blown away.

Then, when I bid $2,500 on his job, he told me no — he wanted to pay $3,000. “I want you to be really excited and motivated to work on this!” he told me.

Curious about how you could get yourself into this sweet spot? Here are seven factors that can tranform you from a desperate, low-paid writer into a well-paid, “gotta have” writer:

1. Appear in the places they read.

The best way I’ve found to connect with clients who fall in love with your work and decide you are the only writer who can do their gig is to appear on popular websites those prospects read and respect.

For me, multiple blog posts on sites such as Copyblogger, Freelance Switch (now Microlancer), Entrepreneur, and Forbes have brought me a steady stream of well-heeled small business and startup owners.

I don’t have to sell them on my services. I don’t have to beat out hordes of competition for the gig. These prospects arrive eager to hire me and only me.

2. Build relationships.

There are two ways to approach freelance business. One is that this is a transactional activity where you find clients and do projects for them. The end. You both move on.

That’s not my approach.

My attitude is that I’m on this Earth to meet and enjoy the company of fascinating people. When I start with a new client, I get to know them, because I’m hoping to be in a relationship with them for a long time.

People are more likely to want to recommend and rehire people they know. So get to know your clients on a personal level.

You’ll be amazed at the connections you’ll find that could bond you and make your relationship more than client-freelancer. One property-management firm owner whose website I was redoing handed me his bio — and I discovered he grew up a hidden Jewish child during World War II in the very same Polish town one of my grandfathers escaped from.

Incredible! I ended up having him chat with my father.

Who do you think this business owner is going to call next time he needs writing work? And I’d be delighted to help him again.

3. Be a good listener.

It’s amazing what happens when clients feel heard. Active, careful listening is a rare commodity in our 140-character-blip online world. Take the time to learn all about their project, so you can deliver exactly what they want.

While new writers are often scared to ask questions, experienced writers ask tons of them. We also listen closely to the answers…and ask even more questions, until we have a crystal-clear idea of what will make this client happy.

Echo back what they’ve said to make sure you understand it. Send a recap letter after that meeting to make sure you got it. Your attentiveness will be noticed.

4. Speak in their voice.

When you write in a client’s voice — you take that listening skill and use it create blog posts or marketing pieces that reflect the client’s tone and their values — marketing managers and business owners soon feel they can’t live without you. You are the only writer who “gets” them!

They’ll pay nearly any rate to keep you working for them. They know it would be agony to try to find another writer who can capture their company’s style.

5. Overachieve.

One thing I try to do with clients is find little ways to go above and beyond what’s been asked. When you do a stellar job, you tend to get great referrals. Offer a little social-media tip on how to use Twitter. Give them a hint about how to improve their tagline.

Remember that business-plan guy? The reason he was so hot to get me was he’d seen a plan I’d done for another client, and wanted the same caliber of storytelling applied to his plan, too. His project was an easy $3,000 I would have lost if I hadn’t committed to overachieving on the first project, which was the first one of that type I’d done.

It was clearly a great niche and I wanted to position myself to get more of this type of business, so I made a point of putting in extra hours to ask more questions and do more rewriting on the first plan I wrote.

I know many writers like to limit the number of rewrites they offer for their project fee, but I do the opposite. My policy is, “This is my bid, and it includes ‘I write until you’re ecstatic.'”

This positions me as more than a hired hand. I’m someone who is passionate about the success of this project, and won’t stop until it’s the best it can be. In reality, I rarely end up doing more than one rewrite! But the promise that I am in it until I win it reassures clients and makes them feel cared about.

6. Make money for them.

When you write persuasive copy for businesses and they see sales go up, your place is assured. You have done the single most important thing: you have grown the business. You are, by definition, invaluable.

If you’re only writing informational materials, consider learn how to write a sales page, a brochure, a direct-mail package. When your services are tied directly to increased revenue, you are golden.

7. Become indispensable.

Once you get a client’s attention in a respected place online, do one project for them where you form a relationship, listen, capture their voice, overachieve on their project, and make them more money, what do you think happens next? They will never want to let you go.

They will pay whatever you ask, within reason. They will wait for you to be available. You are in the driver’s seat of your freelance writing career, calling the shots.

How do you make yourself indispensable to clients? Leave a comment and add to my list.



  1. Rob

    My secret is simple: I deliver what clients want before they want it. Okay, there are other things I do to keep clients coming back as well. One of them is often overlooked: I know my way around content management systems (CMS) and can take the task of publishing off my clients’ hands. On a per hour basis, I sometimes make more for that added service than I do for writing the content.

    • Carol Tice

      I do a lot of publishing in WordPress for my clients too, Rob, including having the ‘publish’ button at Forbes. I think increasingly, clients love to have someone who does the whole process for them.

  2. Adrienne Andreae

    These are all good tips. The one thing I would add is to take charge of the project. I spell out for my clients how the project will go. I tell them the time of day they can expect the first draft and any revisions, when they will receive invoices, my email policies, what I will do if there is a problem with a source, etc. Then, I’m very consistent. Everything is set up for them. It seems like a lot of freelancers are afraid to this because the client seems like a boss. They’re the boss of the final results, but not the boss of your business. Clients appreciate this. They want easy. They don’t want another employee to manage. Of course, I’m flexible on some things, but usually I tell them how it’s going to go and they’re happy to hear I have a plan.

    • Alex Zamorski

      Excellent add-on, Adrienne. I also found most of my clients prefer me to “take charge” of a project instead of directing me. Freelancers & small biz owners need to remember that clients are coming to them for a reason. If the client knew how (or had the time) to do the task/project, they wouldn’t be hiring you in the first place! Take control. Show the client that you’re the expert and know exactly what you’re doing.

    • Carol Tice

      Great addition to my list, Adrienne!

      I think a lot of writers don’t understand that the reason they’re hiring you is they want to offload this task and have somebody else drive it.

  3. Sharon Brodin

    This is great practical advice!
    I’m just starting out, and am soaking up all the information I can about everything. It’s so helpful when those who have gone before are so generous with their experience!
    Thank you!

    • Carol Tice

      My pleasure, Sharon! I think it’s great at the start to think about how to stand out and build a solid business, rather than the usual mindset of scrabbling around Internet platforms for a few crumbs.

  4. peachfront

    There’s sort of a step zero which you understand but which almost no one I meet who says, “I want to be a writer” seems to grok. You must write what the client wants. Not what you want. And above all not your memoir. If nobody buys you drinks when you tell your life story in a bar, accept that nobody wants to pay to read it in the form of thinly disguised fiction no matter what a bunch of idiots in your NaNoWriMo group says. Even fiction demands that you create relationships with your future readers, but I never seem to meet anyone else who wants to do the work.

    Most people seem to have no idea of the time my husband has invested over the years in participating in forums with people who enjoy his brand of science fiction. (In fact, he’s doing an interview tonight.) They think he just put the book out there and the readers appeared by magic. No way that happens.

    • Carol Tice

      It’s definitely a big struggle for a lot of writers. “I just want to write about what I want to write about” is something I hear a lot…and of course, the content mills and sites like Guardian Liberty Voice stand ready and waiting to take advantage of that outlook.

      • peachfront

        That’s what gets me. Anyone can write about what they want to write about. I have 4,000 pages in my online diary, so clearly I don’t have a problem with writing just for the hell of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a very inexpensive hobby that can give a person a lot of pleasure.

        But if someone has an attitude of “I want to write about what I want to write about,” I don’t understand why they believe they will be paid. It doesn’t work like that. If they wanted to clean toilets, they would understand why they wouldn’t get paid for cleaning their own house — only for cleaning the client’s house. But somehow logic goes away when it comes to a writing business. They want to do therapy and get paid. That blows me away.

  5. Brenda

    Thanks for the great tips! I am interested to know how you broke into such high caliber blogs.

    • Carol Tice

      Being a business journalist for 12 years definitely helped on the Entrepreneur/Forbes side, Brenda!

      My first big one was actually Entrepreneur — I was writing for the magazine and an editor mentioned they were looking to outsource blogging (an editor had been doing it).

      I was discovered on Twitter by Jon Morrow (you can check out his actual tweet to me on that link), is how I got into Copyblogger.

  6. Linda H

    Carol — your post reminded me of why I was so successful as a resume writer and freelance writer when I began my career 29 years ago. I went that extra mile and like Scotty on Star Trek I told them it would take 5 days, then took only 3 and became their golden child. Plus the results of the writing did increase cash flow and grow revenue, so that put me on a golden platform, too. It’s funny how I lost that desire after working in Corporate America for a while, but now it’s back and I look forward to how it makes a difference with clients.

    Your tips are spot-on in every way. If any freelance writer — new or seasoned — follows these pointers, they are sure to be in high demand among existing clients and gain new business through word-of-mouth and referrals. And that is the ultimate for any writer, when you don’t have to do a lot of marketing because your work does the marketing for you.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

  7. Carol J. Alexander

    I haven’t broken into copywriting yet, Carol, but in working with magazine editors I always offer extras–sidebar, photos, etc. I never miss a deadline and even strive to turn projects in a few weeks early. And whenever an editor emails for re-writes, changes, or any question that resembles, “Can you do this?” my response is always, “Absolutely, not a problem.”

    Over 25 years ago I worked as an executive secretary. During that time I heard a speaker say, “If you want to be successful in life, work to make your boss successful.” I took that to heart and was the best secretary my boss ever had. As a freelancer, I work to make my clients successful and that has paid off in repeat business.

    • Carol Tice

      That’s definitely a great philosophy to apply to freelance writing — make your editors or marketing managers look good!

  8. Pankaj

    Hi Carol,

    Some really solid points. I actually liked your idea of “Overachieve”. It certainly helps you to retain your client and build relationships. Apart from that you can charge even more after some time. 🙂

  9. Jane

    Writing in client’s voice is highly crucial. In my early days I’ve messed up certain projects by writing in my own voice. It is important to deeply understand the client’s expectations, their goals, their target audience and spend time on understanding their voice too!

    Thanks for the wonderful tips!

  10. Nadia McDonald

    This article is spot on! The elements posted are definite strategies to succeed in the freelancing field of writing.
    Writers have to be more passionate about their projects, and develop more interpersonal relationships with their clients to ensure long term rapports. Gone are the days when a writer is only driven to become a freelance writer, because they need an income or need their time to be occupied. I absolutely agree that forming relationships can play a meaningful role. Additionally, a writer should sizzle their style with their clients voice because this can be a major factor in the client rehiring them.

  11. William Ballard

    Hi Carol!

    Another great post!

    There is a pattern that I am finding most often from successful freelance writers and that is this: If you want to become so amazing as a freelance writer that clients are knocking down your door to hire you, the key is to focus on how to make more money for the clients you have now.

    I also notice that the majority of newbie freelance writers are so focused on making their own money that they hardly look at the need to make sure that they are helping their clients to make more money. I am not saying that as a freelance writer we are not to think about our financial situation, but what I am saying is that when we work with clients we need to make sure that we are going above and beyond for them.

    I believe that when we put all of our focus on the client that we are working with at the time, we will actually be building the success of our writing businesses subconsciously (or unconsciously), and when doing this, that is when the clients begin trying to kick down the door to work with us.

  12. Sarita

    Hi Carol,
    Great post.
    In addition to writing in your client’s voice, don’t forget to write TO your client’s audience. This is one that business clients really appreciate – whether you’re blogging, writing a sales page, or even posting social media updates.

  13. Beat Schindler

    Hi Carol, great advice – because the post itself delivers proof each of the 7 steps work. No need to now go out to find out whether it works or not, you already know – it works. So it’s back to the good old “Just do it”, isn’t it?

    • Carol Tice

      Yep. 😉

  14. Aswah

    Im a beginner … And i dont know where to go first :/


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