Written By David Masters

28 days to your first writing client.

What if you could be sure of finding your first writing client within the next four weeks? I’d like to share the best system I know for making that happen.

This is the exact system I used when I re-launched my writing business in 2012.

To succeed as a professional freelancer writer, it’s best to view your writing as a business. There are a few reasons for this. One is that seeing writing as a business means you don’t get too precious about your work. Your main aim is to find paying gigs, not to become the next Shakespeare. Another is that you can implement the systems and processes that businesses use to grow and develop. This includes developing a system for your marketing.

Sound daunting? You might be thinking: “I’m not a business person” or “I want to be a writer to escape the business world.”

Don’t worry. Thinking like a business owner is actually quite a simple thing to do. That is, once you know how to do it. And you don’t have to wear a business suit. You can still work in your pajamas if you want to.

Systems are actually really helpful. With the right systems in place:

  • You know exactly what to do when you sit down at your desk to start work.
  • You can monitor your performance by checking how closely you are following the system.
  • You can track your results, and tweak the system based on the feedback you get.

With all that in mind, I’d like to share a 28-day system for marketing your writing services. This is the system I used when I re-launched my writing business back in 2012. It worked for me. Within a couple of weeks, I’d found my first writing client. Within six weeks of starting the system, I had enough work to keep me busy full time.

Now, obviously, I can’t guarantee that you will find your first client in 28 days. But if nothing else, putting this system in place will help you establish a marketing mindset. Once you’ve started, you can keep digging, and in the end you’ll hit gold.

I learned the basics of this system from the book Get Clients Now! by C. J. Hayden. If you decide to implement this system, I recommend picking up your own copy of the book, so you can learn exactly how it works.

How does it work? For the next four weeks, you commit to completing ten marketing tasks a day. You select each of the ten tasks based on the fact that they’re likely to bring in new clients to your business.

Each task should be as specific as possible. For example, let’s say you’ve decided to network with potential clients on Twitter. You could set one daily task as “follow people on Twitter” and another as “retweet people on Twitter.” These are the right type of tasks, but they’re too vague.

How could you make them more specific? Let’s say you’re looking for copywriting gigs in the IT sector. You could set daily your tasks as:

  • Follow 5 marketing managers at IT companies on Twitter.
  • Retweet 10 tweets from marketing managers at IT companies.

By making your tasks as precise as possible, you do two things. First, you increase your chances of getting work by focusing on clients within a specific niche. Second, you allow yourself to track your results.

Aside from networking on Twitter, what other daily tasks could you feed into your system? Here are some general ideas you could develop into specific tasks:

  • Pitch for writing gigs on Elance. To make this task specific, decide how many pitches you will write each day. For additional tasks, you can write pitches at other freelance bidding sites such as oDesk and Guru.com.
  • Create new gig listings on microfreelancing sites. A good place to start is fiverr, where you can list up to 20 gigs. There are plenty of other options, including Gigbucks, Fourerr, and 3Quid.
  • Work on building your own writer’s website or blog. To make this specific, decide how long you will spend each day working on your site. Thirty minutes is a good target.
  • Write guest blog posts. Writing a guest blog post every day would be intense, though it’s certainly possible. Alternatively, you could commit to writing a certain number of guest posts each week.
  • Reach out to contacts on LinkedIn. Remember the LinkedIn mantra: conversations lead to clients. So get talking!
  • Email contacts in your network. This is the most effective way I know of getting work. You can find out exactly how I do it (including an email template) here.

You might also consider other marketing strategies such as public speaking, cold calling, or cold emailing.

Once you’ve created your list of tasks, you’re ready to transform it into a system. To do that, create a spreadsheet with the first column headed “Tasks.” In this column, set up a row for each of your ten tasks.

Now, go along the next 28 columns giving them the header “Day 1” through “Day 28.” Your system is now ready. You can track the tasks you complete each day with a simple “Yes” or “No” in the appropriate cell in your spreadsheet.

To help you along the way, remember the following:

  • Give yourself two days’ grace per week, when you don’t complete any tasks. This allows you time to rest and recuperate. It’s a good idea to set these at the weekend.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you fail to do every task every day. If you manage to do five tasks a day, you’re well on track. The important thing is that you take action every day and track the results.

Finally, don’t be surprised if the system you’ve set up doesn’t lead to direct results. When I relaunched my business with this system, I got some work using it. However, my main gig came as a surprise, from outside the system. This is something you should be prepared for. As C. J. Hayden writes in Get Clients Now:

“There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you get serious about marketing in a focused, consistent way. You begin to get results in unexpected places… Don’t make the mistake of thinking these out of the blue opportunities are accidents. There is a direct connection between the level of effort you put into your marketing and the results you get out of it, even when it seems as if the results are completely unrelated to your efforts.”

So why not start a 28-day marketing plan today? Do it as an experiment. Do it to see whether it works. You’ll be surprised about what happens.

I’d love to hear how you get on with this strategy. Let me know your results – you can contact me at david@freedomwithwriting.com.


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