Last week, I discussed how to identify really great-paying clients. Now that we know the shape of the elephant, let’s discuss how to locate and bag that big game.
Here are some of the techniques I’ve used in the past year to connect with clients that pay $1-$2 a word, $100 an hour, and more:
1. SEO your Web site. If you are not yet aware, let me spell it out: Google is the phone book of the 21st Century. Are you easily findable in it? I got both a Fortune 500 company and a well-funded startup as clients recently through the clients’ Google searches for a writer, simply because I’ve worked hard on my SEO for “Seattle freelance writer” and “Seattle freelance copywriter.” You can find out more about how I got to the top of page-one results for those searches here. I believe SEO for your writer site is only going to get more important from here.
2. Work your LinkedIn profile. If Google is the phone book, LinkedIn is the specialty business-only phone book. Really pay attention to what you’ve got in your profile on LI. Make sure it’s complete and has a nice photo of you.
Is it up to date? Does it link to your writer site? Your blog? Your hottest recent article? Do you belong to relevant groups? Update your status frequently with news of projects you’re working on and sources you need, so it creates a thread of relevant information. Be sure to add new client companies and publications to your status.
Most importantly, look at how you describe yourself, and add every relevant word a prospect might search on to locate you. Play around with your “professional headline” so it includes your keywords. I just updated mine (I just noticed it tends to pick up your most recent freelance gig and make it the headline) to say “freelance writer, blogger, copywriter, and writing mentor.” Those might not be the exact words you want — but think about it and experiment with your descriptors.
I got my second new Fortune 500 client this year from my LinkedIn profile. The editor of their company newsletters went poking around on there, looking for a local pro writer. They needed a couple of executive profiles done in a huge rush. I made a quick $1,200 doing utterly enjoyable articles, and found out they’re looking for a writer to put on contract for 2011. Now I’m in a great position to go after a long-term contract with them. Worth a few minutes of buffing up that LI profile, I think.
3. Network in a better place. When I first started networking, I went to events in my small town. I met many small-business owners there. I got some nibbles and did a little work that way, but found smaller businesses were just as much of a pain as large ones, but paid less.
So I switched to networking at events in downtown Seattle. Presto! Totally different type and size of business trolling over there. I met editors that pay well, from companies both in the Fortune 500 and smaller ones, too. Know the type of client you want, and if you’re not finding them where you’re hanging out now, try some other in-person networking events until you find the pool you want to swim in.
4. Follow the trail. It pays to know who owns a site. Sometimes, a seemingly rinky-dink place can turn out to be the new URL for a major corporation or Web portal that offers really great pay. I just got two $1-a-word article assignments from an insurance Web site that turned out to be owned by one of the biggest finance sites on the Internet. Now, I have several good-paying Web sites that might assign me, all from making this first connection.
5. Read online job ads carefully. It’s weird, but every once in a while, one of these major publications or corporations just puts out a Craislist ad. Which I hate because it means I have to keep scanning job ads now and then…but there you have it.
In the past month, I started with a $1 a word client I connected with by responding to their online ad. They didn’t mention rates in the ad, but it was a fully fleshed-out ad with links to their Web site, and it was in a specialized niche. I have to admit I think of this one as sort of a moonshot…but it does happen.
How do you connect with your most lucrative clients? Feel free to add more strategies in the comments below.
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Photo via Flickr user John-Morgan