Written By David Masters

Here’s exactly how I got my best freelance writing client.

In this article, I’m going to share how I got my longest term client. We started working together when I relaunched my freelance writing business in December 2011. To this day, I get weekly writing assignments from this client.

How did we meet?

Good old fashioned email.

But not using quite the same technique as I showed you in an earlier article.

That technique of contacting family and friends worked great, and got me my first four figure gig. But for this technique, I’ll show you how I got in touch with my first regular client. It’s surprising easy.

In fact, the way I got in touch was even easier than when I wrote to my friends and family to let them know I was starting a writing a business.

This potential client wanted to hear from me.

Now doesn’t that sound promising? So, how did I do it? What’s the big secret here?

We’ll come to that in a moment. First I want to let you know that anyone can use this technique. You can start using it today. It takes no special technology, other than having an email address. No special skills are required, other than being able to read and write emails (and you are a writer, right?).

If you’re reading this article, you’ve got a computer. So you can use this technique.

Here’s the technique in a nutshell:

Subscribe to the email lists of potential clients.

Then, when they start emailing you, reply to some of their emails.

In this article, I’m going to walk you, step-by-step, through using this technique. I’ll show you when and how to reply. I’ll show you how to write emails that make potential clients sit up and pay attention. I’ll show you how to choose which email lists to sign up to, and how to handle the extra load in your email inbox.

Let’s start with when and how to reply to emails you get from a list you’ve signed up to.

Don’t reply to sell your writing services. Unless they’ve specifically said they’re looking for writers, you’ll only annoy them if you do this.

How, then, should you reply?

The best thing you can do is say thank you. If you found the information in their email useful, send them a reply to let them know. Say “thank you” for their help, and let them know, specifically, how it helped you. You’ll be giving them the glowing feeling that comes when people say thank you. And you’ll be helping them see how their advice delivers tangible results.

For that reason, it can be worth waiting until you’ve put their advice into action and seen what results you get before emailing them. Telling them exactly how the advice helped you will strike to the heart – you’ll have their full attention. They may even want to interview you, or feature your testimonial on their website, which is great exposure for your writing business.

The other way you can reply is by answering a question that they ask to their subscribers. This is exactly what I did when I emailed my now client.

The question you’re most likely to get asked when you’re subscribed to an email list is: “What are you most struggling with right now?”

Why would they ask this? Because it helps them put together blog posts or emails that meet the needs of their readers. By knowing the common problems readers have, they’ll be able to address them.

Because you’re giving them information they need to know, they will likely get a reply to your question or problem.

How can this technique lead to clients?

Because you’re starting a conversation. And as you know, conversations lead to clients.

I’m not saying every person you email will offer you work. I’m not saying every conversation you start will lead to a job. Most of them won’t. But that’s not the point. In the end, if you persist, the conversations you start will lead to work opportunities.

That’s a bit about when to write emails, and what you can write.

Before you continue reading, why not drop me an email? My email address is david@freedomwithwriting.com. I’d love to know how any of the articles on Freedom With Writing have helped you. Be as specific and detailed as you can. Alternatively, let me know what you’re struggling with most right now. I promise to reply as soon as I can.

(Don’t worry if you’d like to read through the full article first. I’ll give my email address again at the end of this article.)

Now, let’s look now at writing your emails in an appropriate manner.

(Hint: If you think “I’m a writer, I don’t need writing advice”, then you’ve got the wrong attitude, and maybe this technique isn’t for you.)

Always start your emails by using the name of the person you’re emailing. Say “Hi there, [name]”. As Dale Carnegie, author of the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People put it: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” If you don’t use their name, you risk failing to get their attention.

On top of that, use the same name  they use to sign their emails. Don’t shorten their name, or use a pet name. For example, in anything I write online, I’m called “David”. It’s my name. My stomach turns when anyone who doesn’t know me calls me “Dave”. That’s for my close friends and family (and even then, I still prefer “David”). You may think that’s silly, but it’s worth noting. Names matter.

Write your email in a punchy, confident style. Show your writing skills, and put on your best charm. When I’ve been responsible for email lists in the past, I’ve been shocked at how some people write emails. Probably around half the emails I got from list subscribers were rude and demanding. It was like readers felt they deserved my help. They failed to recognize I was giving my valuable time, for free, as a favor.

On the flip-side, don’t treat the person you’re emailing like royalty. There’s no need to call them “Your Highness”. They’re just a person, like you. There’s nothing to be scared of. They’ll be happy to hear from you. Don’t be fawning, but do be polite.

Showing your charm is easy if you just allow yourself to be yourself. If you’re writing about something that matters to you, let that show in your writing. When the person receiving the email can see how much it matters to you, they’ll want to do all they can to help.

Finally, give off subtle signals that you’re a freelance writer for hire. Don’t be salesy. Don’t announce that you’re a writer for hire. As I said previously, that will just turn them away. But do write well, with correct spelling and grammar. And make sure the words “Freelance Writer” are included in your email signature, together with a link to your freelancer website or Linkedin Profile.

So far we’ve covered how to write email replies. But how can you find email lists to sign up to?

This is the easiest part of all. I recommend signing up to two different types of email list:

  • Email lists you’re interested in.
  • Email lists where you see opportunities for paid work.

Sign up to email lists of blogs and websites that naturally grab your attention. Instead of being shy about giving out your email address (I’ll show you how to manage all the extra messages in a moment), look on all the blogs you already read for opportunities to sign up for an email list.

Most big-name blogs will have an email list to sign up, so whatever you’re interested in – politics, health, movies, writing, personal development, sports, religion, business, showbiz – you’ll find email lists to match your interests.

The great thing about choosing email lists you’re interested in is that you’ll enjoy reading the emails. You’ll look forward to digging in to your email inbox every morning.

The second type of email list you should sign up to is email lists that are likely to lead to freelance writing clients. Look for blogs around topics such as:

  • Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Social Media
  • Business and Enterprise

These areas are where the paying clients are, so even if they’re not your first choice when it comes to looking for clients, don’t shirk them.

The more email lists you sign up to, the better.

Not only will you learn all kinds of fascinating stuff from the emails you get. You’ll also discover how to write good emails. By noticing which emails get your attention, you’ll be picking up on writing techniques you can use to engage your readers.

When you’ve signed up to all these different lists, won’t your inbox be flooded with emails?

Why yes, yes it will.

Here’s what to so you don’t drown in emails.

First, create a folder or label in your email client called “Email Subscriptions”.

Whenever you sign up to a new email list, set up a filter for that list to automatically route the emails away from your inbox and into the “Email Subscriptions” folder.

You can do this with any email address on Microsoft Outlook, but if you want to filter like a pro, then I recommend GMail. It’s free, and Google even provides a tutorial on setting up email filters.

So, that’s a super simple way you can get to know potential clients for your freelance writing business.

Why not get started today? You can send me an email as a practice run!

Drop me an email: david@freedomwithwriting.com. I’d love to know how any of the articles on Freedom With Writing have helped you. Be as specific and detailed as you can. If you feel like you’re still learning and growing, and you’ve yet to implement what you’ve learned on Freedom With Writing, let me know what you’re struggling with most right now. So go ahead and email me. david@freedomwithwriting.com. I’m looking forward to hearing from you, and I promise to reply as soon as I can!


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