Relying on a business you don’t run to provide you with connections to work is a dangerous game.
The freelancing world has become more competitive as writers jostle for visibility and clients within freelance platforms.
While freelance platforms like Fiverr and UpWork can provide endless opportunities, they also keep you tethered to an unending struggle to stake your claim among your peers.
If you are a brand-new freelancer looking to break into the industry and build a portfolio, definitely take advantage of the convenience of platforms like these.
But if you are an experienced freelancer looking to create a more integrated business model, you should think about moving away from these centralized platforms and start exploring other methods for finding work.
I know this because I AM this freelancer.
With years of success on Fiverr under my belt, I began to worry that I was stuck in a cycle of low-paying gigs.
But could I really get by without the steady stream of direct-to-freelancer work these platforms generate?
(Hint: Yeah, I could.)
If you’re tired of feeling like just another face in the crowd, it’s time to break free from these freelance platforms and develop your own path to your paying clients.
Step 1: You Need To Build Your Online Presence
For any writer to succeed, a solid online presence is crucial. You are your brand, and you are also your brand manager.
Use social media platforms, a personal blog or website, and leverage professional platforms such as LinkedIn for building your personal brand.
- Create and maintain a professional website and blog showcasing your work, client testimonials, and writing services. I personally love Contra for my portfolio!
- Regularly update your social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) with engaging, informative content to connect with potential clients.
- Develop a content marketing strategy, including SEO, to enable your target audience to find your website or blog easily through search engines.
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords and share content to build a network of potential clients within your industry.
With a bit of work, you can develop your online brand presence and reach those clients who aren’t willing to go to platforms to post jobs.
Step 2: Make Sure You Strengthen Your Network
Don’t underestimate the power of your network. It can prove far more valuable than dozens of hours spent on bidding sites, seeking low-paying clients who may not be genuinely interested in the value you provide.
- Attend industry events like conferences, workshops, and seminars to connect with business owners who might require your writing services.
- Reconnect with former colleagues, teachers, classmates, or acquaintances working in industries requiring writing services. (Seriously, I’ve worked with old classmates to help them boost their business’s SEO!)
- Join online communities, forums, and social media groups related to your niche, where you can exchange ideas and connect with potential clients. (I love the #FreelanceChat Twitter group that meets weekly!)
- Use your existing clients to seek referrals to new clients, offering incentives or discounts for every successful referral.
You’d be surprised at how effective human-to-human interaction and outreach is — and it’s only going to become more valuable in the Age of AI.
Offer Exclusive Content and Produce Shareable Resources
Venturing away from freelancing platforms means you need to become indispensable to your potential clients by offering value-added content and resources.
Otherwise, how will they know where to find you or what you offer?
- Create exclusive content such as ebooks, white papers, or webinars and offer them for free in exchange for contact information or sign-ups for your newsletter.
- Develop shareable resources — like infographics, checklists, or templates — that potential clients can utilize while allowing them to acknowledge you as the source.
- Collaborate with other professionals within your niche to create guest posts and co-author written materials, increasing visibility and credibility.
- Experiment with different formats, such as video content, podcasts, or live streams, to diversify your services and appeal to a broader audience.
Get creative with the various ways you are creating extra content. You could even launch a YouTube Channel, start a podcast, or just post more creative content on social media.
Just remember — be yourself and have fun. You’re way more likely to keep up with a content stream that you enjoy.
Research and Reach Out
Okay, here’s the big one: cold outreach will need to become your bread-and-butter.
One of the most effective methods to find clients is doing your research, preparing a targeted pitch, and reaching out directly. Whether they are local to your area or a brand you’ve followed online for awhile, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and introduce yourself.
- Craft a well-researched, personalized pitch targeting specific clients or companies.
- Maintain a clean and comprehensive CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to track potential clients and outreach efforts.
- Utilize job boards and industry-specific platforms to find writing projects or gigs not listed on typical freelance platforms.
- Set aside time to regularly research new opportunities while keeping tabs on the effectiveness of your outreach efforts.
- Communicate quickly and often — don’t leave potential clients hanging!
It can be tough to get the courage to start pitching yourself but remember: you DO have value, and people ARE willing to pay for that value.
Don’t undervalue who you are or what you offer. Just get out there, brush off the rejections, and keep pushing ahead!
You Can Do This
Breaking away from freelance platforms may seem overwhelming, but with persistence and dedication, you will build a thriving writing business on your terms. And you’d be shocked at how other writers will begin to follow your lead, inspired by your success.
As you work on these strategies, remember to be patient and stay open to growth and change by continually learning and refining your approach.
What would you add to this list of tips? Have you successfully moved from a freelance platform and charted your own course? Let me know in the comments!