Part of the reason why some people choose to embark on a freelance writing career in the first place is that they have much greater control over how much money they can make. It’s obviously a little more complex than this, but freelancers have the opportunity to determine their own income levels because they have a certain level of control over the two critical factors: they can set their own rates and they can choose however many projects they can handle.
Unfortunately, it’s the latter that a lot of freelancers will have trouble with, especially in the beginning. How can you go about soliciting new clients and new work, when you haven’t established yourself in the business and you haven’t developed a real portfolio? Well, if you want to achieve any sort of real success as a freelance writer, you’re going to need to stand out from the crowd. This is no different than running any other business or trying to make money from a blog. You want to be different… but in a good way.
Why Should I Hire You Instead of Someone Else?
When approaching a potential freelance client, the situation is not that dissimilar from a job interview. The person or company has a certain job that has to be completed and you have to convince them that you are the right person for the job. You have to explain to them why you are special and why you are a better option than the other guy.
Establish your freelance identity. Although I found my “voice”, so to speak, pretty early on in my career, it took a little while before I found my freelance identity. To maximize your profit, it is probably in your best interest to write for a niche and establish yourself as an expert in this field. People are willing to pay a premium for this, because you already have a pre-existing knowledge base in the area.
Speaking for myself, I have managed to leverage my reputation as a person who is great at writing reviews. I’ve come to be known as a product reviewer, so potential clients know that they will get a quality review from me. Do you have good experience or knowledge in a certain area? Use that. Sell that.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
This might sound obvious enough, but many freelancers never even think about the possibility. One of the easiest ways for you to stand out as a freelance writer is simply to ask for the work. The next time you find yourself at a networking event, bring along a few business cards and do some networking! When you hand out your business card to someone, don’t just give them the card. Tell them about what you do and where you specialize. It’s also a good idea to follow-up on any contacts that you make, because they might forget about you. There’s no harm in asking. Don’t think of it as begging, because it’s just a job application.
Taking it one step further would be sending an unsolicited email to a potential client. For certain publications, you’ll need to send a query letter. This is the norm for many freelance writers!
Do Outstanding Work
I’ve said before that the single best source of freelance jobs is your existing client base. Wow them with your first few projects and really show them what you can do. If you under-promise and over-deliver, they will remember their interaction with you as stellar. For this reason, they are much more likely to contact you in the future for more work. By contrast, if you do “just enough”, the client may be satisfied with your work, but they may not come back with more work.
In this way, the best way to stand out as a freelancer is just to do outstanding work. Not mediocre work. Not good work. Do outstanding work and be a freelance superstar.