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.

Why?

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.

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28 Comments

  1. jean

    Currently, this is my ‘me’ speech…

    ABOUT ME:
    I move people to become inspired to manifest change by revealing the artist in each in order to create the design of their own life. I do this through writing, speaking, consulting and coaching.

    • Carol Tice

      I think we go too far down the road in that speech before we find out what it is you actually do. And all the manifesting their artistry stuff might be a turnoff for loads of people who aren’t part of the crystals-and-yoga type community. Maybe you only want those type of clients? In that case it might work well, but if you want business clients I’m not so sure about this approach.

      Do you only write for artists? Or are you a writing coach? I’m not totally clear.

  2. Josh Sarz

    Wow, I never really thought about making a “me” speech. I had an elevator pitch, but I’m not sure if it’s the same thing. Let me make one up from scratch..

    “Hi, I’m Josh. I’m a freelance writer who blogs at sagoyism.com. I talk about finding ways to enjoy life, and how to bring our words to life through writing. I enjoy doing blog posts, fiction and short stories. If you need any of a ghostwriter for your business or for your book, I’m the writer for the job.”

    How’s that Carol? Heh Does it sound awkward? Oh, and Merry Christmas!

    • Carol Tice

      Sounds good generally, but I think good me speeches don’t have a sales pitch at the end — too pushy. They’re just about educating people about what sort of writing you do.

      I think a good thing to add is a description of the sort of clients you’re looking for right now.

      • Josh Sarz

        Thanks for the tip about not putting a pitch at the end, Carol. I’ll keep that in mind. Have a Merry Christmas!

  3. Jonan Castillon

    You are so right about the “me” speech. Knowing who I am and what I can do is very important. There was a time I was working on a lot of online projects and the question about the type of writing that I’m doing made me pause, think, and classify…I wan’t really prepared to answer it. Now, after one year of managing SEO projects, I know what to say. Thank you Carol. Merry Christmas!

    • Carol Tice

      I wasn’t the first time someone asked me, either! I think it’s a great clarifying exercise and gives you confidence to do in person networking.

  4. doug_eike

    Having a short answer for who you are and what you do is indeed important. People who are unable to state who they are and what they do in two or three concise sentences exhibit either a lack of self-confidence or of focus, either of which will defeat any networking, social, or other goals for the conversation. Writing out a well-thought-out version and memorizing it is time well spent. Thanks for the insights!

  5. Linda

    The great thing about the “me” speech is that it challenges you to get really comfortable with talking about what you do. It’s completely transparent — no sales speak.I have tweaked mine over time (since learning about it first in Carols’ Freelance Writers Den), and I find the the more casual, friendly and concise it gets, the better I feel about my choice of career.

    • Nicki

      Mine goes like this:

      So, what do you do?

      I’m a corporate copywriter. Basically, I write marketing pieces, like brochures, website copy, newsletters and advertisements for small to mid-size businesses.

      It’s pretty basic…maybe I need to say more:)

  6. Sophia

    Thank you so much for your sharing and remind. I definitely need to think over the “me” speech, although I am not a freelance writer. But I also should need to think over what kind of my blog site and which kind of customer is my traffic.

  7. Page Huyette

    This is a valuable skill to work on. In my marketing and website design e-course, I provide students with multiple scenarios (casual and professional) then ask them to modify their pitch according to the audience and environment. We practice in adverse conditions such as high winds, phone call interruptions and other real-life situations to get the pitch or me speech to the point where if feels comfortable. I also encourage students that are uncomfortable with public speaking to have several two word phrases that they feel comfortable saying to throw out there. That way they can just string some other words on either side of them, getting the general idea across.

  8. Neil

    Ok My Me speech.

    “Hi, I’m Neil and I am a freelance writer here in the Denver area. I have completed projects with blogging, sales letters and a variety of copy work. I write articles for various publications and companies. In fact, I have written copy on a global level. I am always on look-out for new writing opportunities.”

    yes? no? maybe ?:)

    • Carol Tice

      That’s about what you’ve done, like a resume.

      Great “me” speeches are about how you help the client.

      For instance, mine is, “I help freelance writers make more money.”

      You want it that short.

      Now: What do you do?

  9. Thomas

    I had to Google the word ‘flummoxed’ to see if it was something I would like to have happen to me.
    It is, and I cannot wait to get flummoxed, or flummox someone at my next networking event.

    As usual, great post Carol!

    Thomas

  10. Sophie Lizard

    I remember the blank desperation of trying to come up with a “me” speech on the spot when I first started freelancing!

    Now I have several, to suit different people I might bump into. These are my 3 most useful speeches:

    1) “I help writers and non-writers become successful freelance bloggers so that they can increase their income and work from anywhere.”

    2) “I give tech companies clear, authentic blog posts as well as web copy and user guides. Because I love social media, I help them to be cool online that way too.”

    3) “I write witty, engaging blog posts on alternative lifestyle, pop culture and sexuality topics for a handful of niche sites. They get extra niche bonus points from my background as an alternative pin-up model!”

    It’s been a while since I wrote those out and gave them some thought – thanks for the refresher!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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
    Mandy

    • Carol Tice

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

  14. 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.

    Thanks,

    Jill

    • 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.

        Jill

        • Carol Tice

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

  15. 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!
    Judith

    • 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:

      https://makealivingwriting.com/how-writers-can-stop-procrastinating-forever/

      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:

      https://makealivingwriting.com/spend-money-freelance-writing-business/
      https://makealivingwriting.com/easy-jobs-leave-days-free-writing/

      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”?

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