Landing that first big client or market can be tough for a beginning freelancer — you put out article after article, spend hours on marketing and even try some cold calling and it still doesn’t seem to snap. But sticking to it is an absolute must. After all, you won’t ever land a client or market if you don’t try. There are a few ways to make the process a little less stressful, however.
- Remember the 1:10 Rule: My dad has been working on a new real estate deal just about every week since before I was born. They don’t always go through, and when I asked him why he always seems to be working on a new project, he explained the 1:7 rule. In real estate, for every seven deals you try to put together, one actually goes through. I used to track how many queries and estimates I sent out very closely, and I noticed that I landed about one in every ten projects that I tried for. The ratio gets better as time progresses. That number isn’t because a writer doesn’t have the necessary skill, by the way — it’s more often a question of which freelancer precisely nails what a client or editor is looking for.
- Make Querying A Habit: Whether you’re sending out queries to print publications or trying to find clients interested in brochures, you’ll get a lot farther if you’re working on it a little every day. If you’re in position where you can freelance full-time, that might look like devoting a full hour every day to the process. If you are going part-time, sending out a query letter each day may be more realistic. But it needs to be something you work on every day — it’s a business, after all, and not just a hobby.
- Market Your Writing: If you were starting any other business, you’d get business cards, network with other businesses and work hard on marketing your product or service. Why should freelance writing be any different? Think about the best way to connect with your ideal client. It may be time to get a website up or you may want to start attending networking events in your area.
- Write Anyway: Just because you don’t have a market or a client lined up doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be writing. There are plenty of places that you can submit articles on spec, as well as sites that sell ‘stock’ content — you can still build up at least some income from writing without a big client. It may not be your end goal, but it’ll keep you in practice for when you land that ideal project.