Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #4: How to Get Great Clients in 60 Seconds

Carol Tice

Get better freelance clients with a great elevator speech. Makealivingwriting.comEver been tongue-tied at a networking event?

Somebody asked, “And what do you do?”

And you said, “I’m a freelance writer.”

So far so good.

But then they followed up with… “So, what kind of writing do you do? Who have you written for?”

And everything fell apart.

You didn’t know what to say.

How can you prevent this problem?

You need a “me” speech

I was introduced to this concept by IJ Schecter, author of 102 Ways to Earn Money Writing 1,500 Words or Less.

What’s a “me” speech?

It’s a short script about yourself. It tells what type of writing you do — white papers? blog posts? — and what types of clients you do it for. National magazines? Trade publications? Small businesses? The Fortune 500?

If you have a specialized industry you cover, it talks about that too.

I had developed a “me” speech over the years. I just never thought of it as that. But that’s what it is.

If you don’t have one, you should write one.


Networking happens everywhere

Even if you think you will never go to an official networking event, you should write a “me” speech.

You never know when an opportunity to find a client will appear — at a family dinner, in an elevator, at a professional conference. Be ready to take advantage of that moment.

Also, writing the speech helps you clarify what you’re doing, and the types of clients you’re looking for.

What are you looking for?

I remember being flummoxed the first time a networker asked me who my ideal client is. The question made me realize they weren’t small businesses anymore. Which is what that particular room was full of.

I needed to find new networking groups where my ideal clients were hanging out.

Once I did, I was able to get much better-paying gigs.

When you crystallize what you’re looking for, that helps people in your network find it for you. It also helps you ask for it with confidence.

What’s my “me” speech?

Right now, I’d say “I’m a freelance writer specializing in business. I write articles for national magazines and websites, blog for Entrepreneur, and write for big companies in Seattle and around the world.”

My “me” speech has changed a lot over the years. Remember to review and update your speech now and then, as your career progresses.

Final tip: Practice saying your “me” speech out loud, to make sure it’s conversational. You don’t want to sound like you’re reading your resume.

What’s your “me” speech? Write one and leave it in the comments below.

Need more marketing help? Here’s a place where you can get a bunch…

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  1. Judith Docken

    I never really gave this much thought, but I guess I do have a “me” speech. When people ask me what I do, I start with: “I’m a freelance writer that’s trapped in the corporate world”. If they ask what I write, I add: “I write gardening articles for on-line magazines, short stories and a blog about what it means to be a writer.”

    That has never landed me a writing gig, and outside of the content mill, I haven’t managed to land a paying freelance job anywhere – which is why I am still trapped in the corporate world. But I am finding this website invaluable and am hoping I can learn enough to quit being intimidated with the marketing end of being a writer finally make my freelance career a reality. Thank you, Carol!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Judith — it sounds like you have a nice portfolio of work — I don’t see why you’re not getting paid work at this point. Except maybe the thing you mention about being intimidated by marketing?

      You might want to check out my Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success e-book for practical steps for how to start getting paying clients.

      I just want to make an observation that you use the phrase “I’m trapped” twice in just two paragraphs! But really, there is no cage with bars, and you’re free to quit today. It’s a question of choices, as I discuss here:

      You continue to choose the security of your corporate job, of your own free will. If you really want to be a freelance writer, at some point you have to make a different choice. It will never feel “safe” to make the leap, because freelancing isn’t anything like having a steady job. You have to just decide you’re doing it.

      You also might want to check out these posts on how to get the money you need for freelancing — maybe some ideas here:

      I’d suggest you write a new “me” speech that isn’t really about how much you hate your corporate job, and keeps the focus on writing. How about “I’m a part-time freelance gardening writer”?

  2. Jill Harp

    Tip #4 could not have come at a better time for me, having my first network meeting this week. Thank you for the great tips so far, I have been making the most of them and find them extremely beneficial.

    Here’s my Me Speech. I’d appreciate feedback.

    I am a freelance writer and editor. I write feature articles for local publications, write and edit website content, marketing pieces and plans, other documentation and write grants. My clients range from small to corporate sized businesses and non-profits.



    • Carol Tice

      Now try to turn that into 6-8 words, Jill. Mine is, “I help freelance writers make more money.” See if you can create a statement like that. Because at a networking event, you’ll never have time to say all that stuff. It’s not conversational…comes off like you memorized a speech. Shorter is better.

    • Jill Harp

      Thank you. How about:

      I help clients produce the best written product so they look good and/or positively affect others.

      I have a feeling you will tell me to stop the sentence at product. Thanks for your quick response and support.


    • Carol Tice

      Would you really say “and/or” out loud? 😉

  3. Mandy Eve-Barnett

    This post has been so helpful to me. This year I hope to increase my freelance work and have been struggling with self doubt. Now I have a starting point of how to narrow down what I want to do and how to promote it. Thank you.
    My first attempt of the ‘me’ speech : I am a freelance writer specializing in blog posts for mid-sized business’ and editorial articles for magazines.

    I would appreciate feedback if you have time.
    Thank you

    • Carol Tice

      Now, say that out loud to one of your friends. What happens?

  4. Trevor

    As a wearer of many hats I have several sentences prepared ahead of time for each of my enterprises that I mix and match depending on the situation. Networking really does happen everywhere, I just met a prospective client in my local grocery store, another at the farmers market, and a third walking my dog. Thanks for the tips!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Trevor — love those true life stories of finding clients on the fly — and good point to have a few versions of your speech ready to mix’n match depending on the situation.

  5. Sara

    This is what I usually say. Is it too basic? I don’t really have a niche yet.

    “I’m a freelance writer. I write content for blogs, websites, company marketing materials, that sort of thing. “

    • Carol Tice

      Seems like a good start to me, Sara.

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