There’s an art to communicating with potential clients.
Whether it’s through an email, a LinkedIn message or through a bidding platform like Upwork, your initial communication plays a vital role in your success as a freelance writer.
Most freelance writing clients have a pretty good idea of what they want: someone experienced, someone professional and someone who’s confident he/she can get the job done.
If your message doesn’t convey all these things and more (and in a typo-free, grammatically correct way), you could risk losing the gig.
Not sure if you fall into this group?
Take a minute to look back at your most recent proposals and applications.
How many resulted in a response? If you’re not receiving a reply for at least 50 percent of the gigs you are more than qualified for, consider this a red flag.
Contacting Freelance Writing Clients & What You’re Doing Wrong
If you’ve reached out to dozens of freelance writing clients, but you are not receiving replies or even acknowledgements, you may not be crafting your initial messaging as well as you could.
Review your communications, and look for some of these big “no-nos” below.
Lack of Confidence
Clients are looking for writers who are confident – people who know they’re good, know they can get the job done and know they can do it well.
Your message needs to convey this confidence even if you do not feel it. Saying things like “I think,” “I’ll try” and “I haven’t before, but …” are the the surefire signs of a lack of confidence. It’s almost as if you are saying to the client directly, “I’m not confident in my ability to complete this project.” In this situation, you can bet it will get your proposal thrown in the virtual wastebasket.
Approach applications with confidence, tell clients what you will do and how you will benefit them.
Here is an example of a message that will never result in a client win. While reading it, see if you can spot the issues:
“I feel I could be a great fit for your team” – The words “I feel” signal that you may not be sure.
“While I don’t have specific experience” – Never mention that you are inexperienced. If you wrote even one writing sample, you have experience. That doesn’t mean that you should apply for jobs outside of your wheelhouse. But, you have to start somewhere. If you think you can do the job, apply!
If the job calls for a specific specialty and you have experience in that niche, even if you have never written in that niche, you can detail your experience with it.
“I pick up on new topics quickly” – Signifies that you have no experience. You can say something like this if it is not preceded by a statement that you have no experience.
“I’m a pro a researching the web” – I will let you figure out the issue with this sentence. If you see it, let me know in the comments below. 🙂
“I definitely think I can” – Never use the words “definitely and think.” Either you can do the job or you can’t. Don’t insert additional words before “can.”
If you feel like you have no confidence and you struggle with communicating with clients confidently, I recommend picking up a free copy of my report, “Freelance Writing Fear Smashers.” It discusses what I did to beat my own fears and it helps freelance writers learn how to overcome their fears and experience the life they want and deserve. It’s free to download and you can learn more about it here.
Bringing your personal life into a conversation is never a good idea. Talking about your financial woes or telling a client how much you “need” a job, is a sure-fire way to make someone uncomfortable. Keep it professional; stick to discussing the job, your experience and your qualifications, and leave the personal talk for happy hour.
Asking questions is important when responding to any job proposal or application. For one, it shows that you read the job posting and that you’re not just sending out emails en masse. It also tells the client you’re interested in getting the job right – that you want to learn more and make sure you’re the absolute best person for the job before moving forward.
This is one of the biggest faux pas I notice writers making.
Never, ever, ever send a template, cookie-cutter proposal to a potential client. Even first-time freelance writing clients can spot these from a mile away, and you can almost guarantee, you will not win the job.
The clients you contact deserve a customized, unique response that’s tailored exactly to their needs and job posting.
Here is an example of a “general” job post reply. While it may garner a reply or two since it mentions 10 years of experience, it will be highly unlikely, especially if the original ad mentioned specific qualifications and experience.
Include some information about your expertise – specifically, how your expertise lines up with the client’s needs and project requirements. That means including a link to relevant content you produced, mentioning your degrees or certifications, or citing past clientele who may be in the same industry. Show them why you’re the absolute best person for the job.
Freelance clients are worried about two things: Getting the content on time and doing so at an affordable price. Your email should address these issues right away.
Whenever possible, include a potential timeframe for the project, as well as your current going rate. If you’re not ready to commit to these just yet, or you need more information first, let them know they’re on your mind. Ask for a word count or length, inquire about deadlines, and get more info on project scope so you can accurately quote them a time and price. They’ll appreciate the forthrightness.
Typos and Errors
Your freelance writing clients want content that’s perfect – no typos, no errors and no grammatical mistakes. If you can’t even produce that in your initial application, how are they supposed to believe you can do it for them when it counts?
Proofread your proposals and applications multiple times; run them through spell check, ask a friend for a quick once-over, and make sure the subject line is error free, too. You don’t want to lose a client over a simple mis-typed keystroke.
Yikes! This one’s hard to look at…
No Online Presence
Prospective clients will look for your work online, they’ll find your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, and they’ll find out as much about you as they can. If your online presence isn’t up to a high standard, they’ll start to doubt your qualifications, and they may move on to other candidates. Invest time creating a quality online portfolio, and maintain a professional Twitter account or blog to make your presence known.
There’s no hard-and-fast formula for writing the perfect proposal or application (and there shouldn’t be!), but steering clear of these faux pas is vital to snagging new clients. Take time to customize each message you send to a client, and make it as personal, relevant and error-free as possible. For more valuable tips, check out my post, 7 Tips to Communicate with Clients Like a Six-figure Writer.
Remember, every word you type is a testament to your skills. You will show clients exactly how much they need you by crafting a killer unique message.
Here are some more posts on freelance client management if you are interested. Enjoy!