Pitching clients is an essential skill for a successful freelance writer. However, once you have a potential client on the hook, you still need to reel him in. That is to say, convince him or her you’re the perfect person for the job and the rates you command are worth it.
That process can be harder than you might imagine since you’ll usually have a lot of competition for most jobs (except highly-specialized gigs). However, if you’re assertive and you show clients you know what you’re doing, it can help to sway them over to your team.
In this article, I’ll go over the five steps I use to onboard new clients and how you can put them into action as well. Let’s get to it!
1. Get the Full Picture of What They Need
This is where you’re standing right now – you’ve been exchanging messages with a potential client and you know they’re about to hire you. However, there’s still a lot of ground to cover from that point to the moment when you start working.
What you should be doing now is gauging the full scope of the project they want you to work on. That involves asking questions such as:
- How much work do you need me to do?
- What type of deadlines are we talking about?
- Do you want me to follow any special stylistic guidelines?
- Who is this content geared towards?
Some clients will come to you with all that information ready. Those are my favorite ones. In other cases, they just know they need a freelance writer, but they’re not sure how the entire process works.
That’s when you need to take the initiative and show this isn’t your first rodeo. Once you get the full picture of what your new freelance client needs, you can move on to the specifics.
2. Explain How You Can Help Them
As I mentioned before, a lot of freelance clients aren’t sure what working with you involves. Some writers limit themselves to submitting articles. If that’s all your customers need, then that’s okay.
However, most of the top freelance writers I know offer a much more broad set of services alongside writing. For example, they might also take on some or all of the following tasks:
- Coming up with new article ideas based on the client’s needs.
- Creating a content schedule for a client’s blog.
- Editing and formatting articles for customer websites.
- Doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the content they write.
If you’re the kind of freelance writer who takes on those extra tasks, then you probably can command a higher rate. More importantly, you can make your customers’ lives a lot easier and let them focus on other aspects of their business.
By now, you know what your new customer needs, so it’s time to explain what additional services you provide that can help them. Once you know exactly what they need from you, it’s time to talk about money.
3. Discuss Rates from the Get-Go
There have been a lot of times when I’ve had talks with promising new clients only to have them back off once I mentioned my rates. In most cases, I’m open to some level of negotiation, but there’s little you can do if clients don’t even want to discuss it.
That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re upfront about your rates. It will help weed out clients that aren’t interested in work in your price range and conversations tend to go a lot smoother when both parties know they agree on a price.
Keep in mind, though – I’m including this step third because it’s important to know the scope of the work you’ll be doing before setting rates. For example, I’ll charge more for projects that require more research time, whereas I can be more flexible for ‘easier’ gigs.
In any case, you should have a per-word range that you won’t budge out of and be ready for some back and forth with potential new clients.
4. Set Deadlines You’re Both Happy With
As a freelancer, you need to get used to the idea that deadlines are going to rule your life. Every client has different expectations about how long work should take, so it’s important that you’re on the same page concerning turnaround time.
Whenever possible, I try to avoid last-minute work because it leads to unnecessary stress. For new clients, I like to talk about what their expectations are and how often they need new content, so I know if I can adjust to their schedule.
If you run into a situation where someone wants you to work with deadlines you’re not comfortable with, you have two options:
- Try to negotiate turnaround times with a little more breathing room.
- Walk away from the negotiations since you haven’t signed a contract yet.
Once you have multiple clients on your list, you’ll get the freedom to say no to jobs you’re not comfortable with. This is one of the best parts of being a freelancer.
5. Have a Contract Ready to Go
By now, you’re about ready to start working. If you and your client are on the same page about everything, all that’s left is to sign a contract.
Some people will ask you to work with verbal agreements only. However, contracts are important so there’s a written record of the scope of your work, rates, and when and how you’ll get paid.
I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re not a lawyer. Neither am I. That means drafting a full contract from scratch is a terrible idea, which is where freelance contract templates come in:
If you look around, you’ll find a lot of standard templates you can use as a framework and add any specific clauses you might need. Some clients will prepare contracts of their own, but for every other case, have a standard template ready to go and tweak it as needed. Once the digital ink is dry, you can start doing what you’re being paid to do – write.
Pitching clients is a numbers game. A lot of your pitches will go unanswered. In some cases, you’ll start talking to clients only to have them back off at the last second. That’s par for the course for being a freelance writer. However, if you can show that you know what you’re doing, it can often help convince those who are on the fence.
Let’s recap the five things you should do to seal the deal with new freelance writing clients:
- Get the full picture of what they need.
- Explain how you can help them.
- Discuss rates from the get-go.
- Set deadlines you’re both happy with.
- Have a contract ready to go.
Do you have any questions about how to get more freelance clients? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.