I hear it from other freelance writers all the time: “There are no freelance clients.” To them, I say, “Pitch harder.”
There’s no reason you should struggle to find clients as a freelancer, whether you’re a writer, designer, coder, virtual assistant, or something else entirely. You’re just not putting yourself out there enough.
You’re not alone, though. Most freelancers I meet, especially through the articles I post on Medium, don’t respond to me right away when I ask them how many pitches they sent out in the last week.
No freelance clients? Pitch harder. Send emails, DMs, tweets, whatever. Get your name out there.
If I had to guess, I’d assume you fear the word “no.” It’s the worst thing a potential freelance client can say to you, right?
And if you’re not used to hearing “no,” it might seem like a terrifying prospect. But once you hear “no” over and over again, it becomes background noise.
So, how do you pitch freelance clients and get more work? Let’s dig in.
No Freelance Clients? Make a List of Prospects
You need to start with a list of people who might want to hire you. They could be decision-makers at companies or individuals. It all depends on your freelance goals.
I once got a highly lucrative gig by simply DMing the company’s CEO. My pitch looked something like this:
Long-term fan here. I noticed your blog has gotten a little stale lately. I’d be happy to contribute a guest post or two—no attribution needed. If they get results, you might consider hiring me for your content marketing. Cheers!
It worked like a charm. Three days later, I had a contract.
Let’s say you have no freelance clients. That’s okay. Email, DM, or otherwise contact 20 people every day. If you’re super inspired, contact 100 people. The more messages you send, the more bites you’ll get.
Stop Begging for Work
You’re desperation fucking stinks. And it might be why you have no freelance clients.
If a prospective client thinks you’re desperate for work, he or she will wonder why. That’s why you have to work on your confidence.
Listen up. Confidence doesn’t come naturally to me. Even after 13 years in this game, I sometimes find myself defaulting to a low estimation of my self worth.
Try not to let that happen. Yes, you should be hungry. But don’t be desperate. Never beg. Focus on outlining the reasons you can help someone achieve specific goals.
Be Specific When Asking for Freelance Work
Nobody wants to hear, “I can write 3 blog posts for you each week on topics of your choosing.” That’s vague and makes you look like an amateur.
A better pitch might look like this:
I’ve done some research through Google, Ahrefs, and SEMrush. It looks like you’re not targeting keywords X, Y, and Z, which would help you with the middle of the funnel. Hit me back if you want to discuss it further.”
Show you know your shit. Gone are the days when writers simply write. They’re strategists. If you have no freelance clients, you need to up the ante in your pitch quality.
It also helps to point to something the prospect has done right. You could say, “Hey, your blog post on XYZ really hit home. I think you’d get better response from your target audience by duplicating that content model.”
Complimenting a potential client can get you more freelance work than you can handle.
Revise Your Pitch
Maybe it’s your pitch that isn’t working. If you have no freelance clients, re-examine how you’re targeting your audience.
I’m a freelance writer. Words are my currency. If I write a pitch with grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, my prospective client will ignore me entirely.
And with good reason.
Don’t publish samples of your work that fail to represent your best efforts. Never send a pitch that doesn’t reflect your soundest value proposition.
Ya’ll, today’s marketers and entrepreneurs can smell a fake from a mile away. If you’re unable to deliver on what you promise, kiss your freelance career goodbye.
Too many people have no freelance clients because they’re unable to recognize their shortcomings and compensate for them.
Don’t Present Yourself as Someone You Aren’t
Maybe you have no freelance clients because you’re just starting out. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all start somewhere.
Don’t fake a resume or claim to have accomplished fictional goals. Be real.
I’m new to freelance writing, so my rates are dirt cheap. Take advantage of them while you still can! I’ve been studying content marketing and learning from the best. I’d love to help you.
Simple, straightforward, and honest. Really fucking honest. If you’re fronting, people will know.
Ya’ll, we’re all creatives. I don’t care if you write code or poetry. If you freelance, you’re a creative.
So put that skill to use.
You might have to work a little harder, but that’s fair. If you have no freelance clients, you need to up your game and work harder than the people with established clientele.
Maybe you want to land a gig with a specific company. Write an article in a Google doc and share it. Ask them if they’d be willing to publish it. Create a unique piece of art, a code snippet, whatever. Make it gratis.
The point here is to stand out from every other freelancer who wants to nail your desired client. Win the account by getting creative and working harder than everyone else.
Get an Introduction
Over the last few years, all of my clients have come to me via introduction. Someone loves my work, tells a friend or professional acquaintance, and I’m offered new work.
That’s the holy grail of freelancing. If you have no freelance clients at all, you can’t rely on referrals. But once you gain a few clients, invite them to share your name with their pals.
Check Your Skills
I’m amazed by the number of freelance writers I’ve encountered over the last six months who don’t know how to format a Google doc, insert internal links, cite sources, or implement keywords.
That’s just fucking laziness.
If you don’t know your shit, potential clients will smell it out. So, while you have no freelance clients, focus on extending your education. Read articles like this one. Watch videos. Interview successful professionals in your field.
Writers think that, if they can string sentences together, they can make it in today’s content marketing landscape. That’s just not fucking true. When you don’t know your shit, you’re not worth the investment.
Maybe that sounds harsh. However, if it gets through to you on some level, I’ve done my job. Go learn already.
No Freelance Clients? Here’s a Pitch Checklist
A pitch doesn’t have to be a formal slide deck. In fact, it shouldn’t. Relate to potential clients on a human level.
Refer to them by name. Mention information that directly impacts their industries. Describe concrete ways in which they can reach specific goals.
Let’s say you’re a graphic designer who specializes in customizing WordPress templates. Awesome. You want to catch the attention of a specific client. Your pitch might look like this:
Hey John, Just wanted to say I’m a big fan. I’m a freelance graphic artist, and I noticed that your WordPress theme isn’t responsive. It might also need to be updated with better graphics and layouts. I’m happy to help. If you want a better WordPress website that instills confidence in your brand, hit me up. Attached is a mockup I created to let you know what I was thinking. I noticed you don’t have an in-house graphic design team, and outsourcing the work would be much cheaper. Plus, I offer retainer agreements for updating new landing pages, blog posts, and more. Best of luck, and thanks for your time! —Laura
Simple, right? Deceptively simple, anyway.
When you have no freelance clients, you need to target every pitch to the individual. In this short email or DM pitch, I’ve mentioned problems I noticed about the client’s site, suggested improvements to positively impact the company’s bottom line, and even shared a free mockup. I also threw in extras, like retainer agreements that are cheaper than hiring in-house staff.
You might have a pitch template, but you have to personalize it.
Here’s your freelance pitch checklist:
- Address the recipient by name
- Compliment the recipient in some way
- Note something you noticed that could be improved
- Provide something for free
- Suggest potential arrangements
- Thank the prospect for his or her time
That’s it. Easy, right?
When you have no freelance clients, your career might feel stuck. In fact, you might be considering giving up entirely. Don’t.
Instead, pitch harder. More importantly, pitch smarter.
Personalize each pitch. Make it thoughtful, relevant, and specific.
What’s your best freelance pitch idea?