A Simple Roadmap for Landing Your First Freelance-Writing Clients | Rebecca Livermore | Skillshare

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A Simple Roadmap for Landing Your First Freelance-Writing Clients

teacher avatar Rebecca Livermore, Microsoft Office for Creatives

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Intro

      2:06
    • 2. Is Client Work Right for You?

      0:58
    • 3. Pros of Client Work

      3:32
    • 4. Cons of Client Work

      6:06
    • 5. Why and How to Specialize

      3:38
    • 6. Choose a Business Model

      2:24
    • 7. Lay a Healthy Foundation

      3:04
    • 8. Find Your First Clients

      6:45
    • 9. Your Project

      0:47
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About This Class

Hello, and welcome to A Simple Roadmap for Landing Your First Freelance-Writing Clients 

Have you ever. . . 

  • Wondered if it’s possible to make a living writing? 
  • Wished you could quit your day job and just write? 
  • Wanted to start a freelance writing business but don’t know how to start? 

If so, this class is for you! 

My name’s Rebecca Livermore and I’m fulltime writer. I started freelance writing in 1993, but for many years, I treated my writing as a hobby more than a business. This all changed when eight years ago I started writing for clients. That one shift is what made it possible for me to quit my day job and write full time. 

So, the big question is, how do you get started writing for clients? 

I’m glad you asked! In this class, I dive into how to land your first clients as a freelance writer.  

I share a simple roadmap which includes the following five basic steps: 

  • Determine if client work is right for you.  In this lesson, I dive into the pros and cons of client work, so that you’ll go into client work with your eyes wide open. 
  • How to choose an area of specialty. You’ll learn why specialization matters and how it enables you to land more clients and ultimately build a profitable writing business. 
  • How to choose a business model that fits with your personality and dream lifestyle 
  • How to set the foundation for healthy relationships with clients 
  • And finally, how to land your first writing clients. 

This class is perfect for you if you’ve dreamed about making a living writing, but up to this point have had limited success.  

As your project for this class, you’ll brainstorm your skills, experiences, and interests to come up with an area of specialty. You’ll also complete an exercise to determine your business model. These two things combined will position you to build your dream freelance writing business. 

So what are we waiting for? It's time to get this show on the road! 

Supplemental Classes 

A Freelancer’s Guide to Building Healthy Client Relationships  

1000 True Fans for Writers: Make a Living with Your Writing without Being a Celebrity  

How to Discover and Achieve the WHY for Your Blog and Business  

Sound Effect Credits: 

Car horn: https://freesound.org/people/Iamgiorgio/ 

Car engine: https://freesound.org/people/prometheus888/ 

 

 

Meet Your Teacher

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Rebecca Livermore

Microsoft Office for Creatives

Teacher

Hi, I'm Rebecca Livermore, also known as The Office Creative. I'm a bestselling author, blogger, and the owner of Professional Content Creation. I've been a freelance writer since 1993 and have served as a content manager for top bloggers such as Michael Hyatt, Amy Porterfield, and Marcus Sheridan.

I've always loved PowerPoint, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I began to discover the many ways to use PowerPoint to create content. I use it for everything from blog and social media images, lead magnets, low content books, printables, videos, digital planners, and more. The more I use PowerPoint, the more amazed I am by the many types of content you can create with this one powerful tool.

I'm constantly learning new ways to use PowerPoint and other Micro... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Intro: Hello and welcome to a simple road map for landing your first freelance writing clients. Have you ever wondered if it's possible to make a living writing? Wished you could quit your day job and just right, wanted to start a freelance writing business but don't know how to start? If so, this class is for you. My money's Rebecca Livermore, and I'm a full time author and blogger. I started freelance writing in 1993 but for many years I treated my writing as a hobby more than a business. This all changed when, eight years ago I started writing for clients. That one shift is what made it possible for me to quit my day job and rightful time. In this class. I share a simple roadmap, which includes the following five basic steps. First, determine if client work is right for you. In this lesson, I dive into the pros and cons of writing content for clients so that you'll go into quiet work with your eyes wide open. Next, how to choose an area of specialty. You'll learn why specialization matters and how it enables you to land more clients and ultimately build a profitable writing business next will get into how to choose a business model that fits with your personality and dream lifestyle. Then we get into how to set the foundation for healthy relationships with your clients. And finally, we'll talk about cowed land, your first writing clients. This class is perfect for you if you've dreamed about making a living writing, but up to this point have had limited success. As your project for this class, you'll brainstorm your skills, experiences an interest to come up with an area specialty. You'll also completed exercise to determine your business model. These two things combined will position you to build your dream freelance writing business . So what are we waiting for? It's time to get this show on the road. 2. Is Client Work Right for You?: more than seven years ago, I quit my day job to do client work full time. I've written hundreds of blood post for clients edited and formatted eBooks and manage content for some big name bloggers, authors and social media superstars. I've made a good living doing it, and I'm deeply grateful for all of the opportunities and life lessons I've learned through client work. I have no regrets for taking on writing clients. And yet, in spite of that, I no longer do quiet work. I share that last bit of information with you not to discourage you, but rather to be honest with you about some of the challenges associated with writing content for clients. With that in mind, in the next two videos, I'll share with you both the pros and cons of quiet work so that you'll have your eyes wide open as you explored this career option. 3. Pros of Client Work: It's always nice to start with the good news, right? So before I get into the negative aspects of writing content for clients, I want to cover good reasons for doing client work as a writer. First, obviously, is money unless you end up working for deadbeat clients. When someone hires you to write content for them, you're guaranteed to make money writing content of your own. Maybe more fun, but when you do so, you have no guarantee that you'll ever make any money doing so. The money aspect is especially true if you work on a retainer basis. The client work that I've done has been almost exclusively on a retainer basis. When you work on a retainer, you promised to do a specific amount of work each month in exchange for a set amount of money. This type of business model is what enabled me to quit my day job because I knew that I'd have enough writing and come to pay my bills. Next. You could be part of a team. Writing is often a lonely game, since she's been most, if not all, of your day working alone. When you do quiet work, you often do it as part of a bigger team. For example, when I've done client work, I've often worked alongside not just a client but virtual assistants, graphic designers, videographers, etcetera. In addition to email or communication inside project management tools, there are often video or found team meetings. I've also experienced in person team retreats, attended conferences with team members and so on. As an introvert, I really enjoy the solitude of writing, but I also enjoy having teammates. The next pro of writing content for clients is that you can learn a lot from your clients. I've had the privilege of working for some amazing clients. Much of what I know about social media, WordPress, podcasting, business and a host of other things came about as a result of client work. For example, when I worked for Marcus Sheridan, he asked me to figure out podcasting. Not only did he pay me for my time while I learned I also observed how a master communicator handled podcasting. Marcus is also a great example of someone who knows how to balance faith and family while running a successful business. When I worked for Amy Porterfield, I improved my podcasting skills even more. I also learned how to create, promote and conduct webinars and online courses. Planning and thinking big are things Amy is great at. Most of my ability to combine Big Dreams with solid plans comes from the time I spent working for her Michael High. It taught me how to optimize block post and how to balance hard work with time to rest and recharge. I learned a lot about how to think like an entrepreneur when I worked on content for Patrick. Bet David as an immigrant that at one time lived in a refugee camp and grew up on welfare. He's a great example of how to succeed against all odds. I wouldn't know what I know or be who I am today if it wasn't for writing content for clients. So to recap the pros of client work that I personally experienced our money. If you do client work, you are guaranteed to be paid, particularly if you work on a retainer basis. Secondly, team rather than working in isolation, you are part of a team, which is a great thing for what can be a lonely occupation, and finally, you can learn a lot from your clients next, all dive into some of the cons of writing content for clients that I personally experienced . 4. Cons of Client Work: Now let's get into the cons of client work. In spite of the positive aspects of client work, it's important to understand the cons of client work as well. First is loss of freedom. Over the years, I've come to realize that freedom is one of my core drivers. Money doesn't motivate me nearly as much as freedom. In fact, I see money as nothing more than a tool to provide me with the freedom to live where and how I want. Initially, I saw writing content for clients as a pastor freedom, and there was some truth to that. Client work enabled me to quit my day job, but it also meant showing up for meetings and doing work that wasn't always to my liking. I also had to at times deal with unreasonable deadlines. I'm in the season of life now where freedom matters more than ever. And since I let go of quiet work, I now live where I want when I want, and I also work whatever hours make the most sense for me at the time. My only deadlines air once that I set for myself. Second is loss of voice, depending on the type of client work you do. You may write in someone else's voice. The articles or books you slave over will likely bear someone else's name. You may have to write in the style that's not your own, and in fact, you should write in a style that's not your own if you're creating content that bears a name other than your own. For example, I wrote a ton of content for top entrepreneur Patrick Bet David. Most of the content that I published bore his name, and that was totally appropriate because the content was based on his videos and the expertise shared was definitely Hiss, I wrote, using his personality and in his voice. Keep in mind that there's nothing technically wrong with this. It's not wrong to write something and have someone else get the credit, particularly when you are writing content based on their expertise. In fact, many writers make a good living doing just that. But all writers have their own stories, thoughts and tips. And if you want to write those things than writing content for others, maybe a little bit so crushing next. When you write content for others, you may find you have no time or energy to create your own content. Now it's true that in most cases, even if you write content for others, you can still create your own content. But at least in my experience, spending 46 intense hours writing for others fries my brain. At that point, I just don't have it in me to write my own content. And because of that, during the years as a content writer for others, my own blawg languished. I published post three weeks in a row and then burn out and quit. I wrote a book here and there, but most of my book ideas gathered dust. What used to be fun became drudgery. This frustrated me because in theory I was free to write as much of my own content as I desired. There was a disconnect between what I told others, too dio, which was to publish content consistently and what I did. I felt guilty because unless I pointed to content I created for others, my actions didn't match my words. The next Khan of writing content for others is that depending on the types of writing quiet to take gone, you may experience high stress levels. Now I'll always be grateful that I was privileged to work for very high caliber clients. As I mentioned earlier to a large degree, I am who I am today as a result of the amazing people I worked for. Those amazing people were indeed amazing. And guess what? They didn't get that way by putting out average amounts of content or taking evenings and weekends off. Most of them were constantly and because of that, so did I. I started work early in the morning and dropped into bed, exhausted late at night. Even on weekends, I constantly checked my cell phone for urgent messages and, as needed, dropped everything to address the need of the moment. I seldom truly unplugged the next Khan of quiet work is that with it, you trade time for money? That was one of my biggest challenges with doing quiet work. When I worked, I got paid, and when I didn't work, I didn't get paid. It was like having a job without benefits like health insurance, paid vacations and holidays. The bottom line is that all the writing I did built someone else's business while my own business languished. Now, yes, I had a thriving business in the sense that I never had to worry about getting clients. Clients came to me, and I determined whether or not to take them on. My abundance of quiet work was a dream for many writers, and it's something that even now I thank God for. But in a practical sense, it wasn't sustainable. I hit burnout, and since I neglected my own content in favor of hitting it out of the park with my clients content, when I decided to drop client work, I almost had to start over with my own content. Dropping quiet work was scary, but I realized that for me, even though focusing on my own content is a much slower passed to financial freedom, it's the Onley path that pays me not only today but will continue to do so for years to come. To recap the consul quiet work include loss of freedom, loss of voice, no time or energy to create your own content or limited time and energy to create your own content. Potentially high stress levels, particularly if you work for high calibre clients and trading time for money when you write content for clients. Instead of creating assets that you own, you are building assets for others. And by the way, before I close off this section on pros and cons, I want to say that in spite of the cons, if you really need consistent income, I definitely recommend quiet work as the best way to make it. As a freelance writer with that in mind will now get into how to come up with ideas for the type of writing you can do for clients. 5. Why and How to Specialize: in this video will dive into how to brainstorm your skills, experience and interest. And then you said information to help you land writing clients. So here's the deal. While you can. Technically, right on most any topic, it makes sense to target potential writing clients of a specific industry. In other words, rather than writing content on personal finance, entrepreneurship, dog grooming and faith, pick one and become known as the writer on that and related topics. This makes sense for a lot of reasons. The first reason is that you'll become known as an expert in your field of choice, and experts often command higher pay than generalist. Second, if you specialize in a specific field, you're likely to get more referrals. Let's face it, people in specific industries rub shoulders with others in the same industry. If you, for example, right for a couple of top notch entrepreneurs when their peers are looking for a writer, your name will likely come up. In addition to that, the more you write content for others on a particular topic, the more you build your expertise on the topic. You can use that expertise to benefit other writing clients and You can also use it to write your own bog and books on the same topic. But the question is, what topics should you focus on? So I'm gonna give you a little exercise that will help you figure that out. First, I want you to set a timer for 15 minutes and jot down your skills, experience and interests. Now don't be afraid to include hobbies in this, because there are a lot of hobby related sites that may need to hire writers. When you're doing this exercise, don't worry about whether or not things air related and whether or not you feel they'd be profitable. Just write down any idea that comes to mind as quickly as you can. Now, once that timer goes off, circle any related ideas and of those ideas, make a list of your top three topic X. So the reason that I suggest three rather than just one is because at the beginning you won't know which option will be most profitable for you. As an example, when I was first going to go into business for myself because I was working for a Christian non profit at the time, I considered writing for churches and ministries. But I was also interested in blogging, digital marketing and other aspects of writing as all sharing the video on landing your first clients. I ended up landing Amy Porterfield as my first client. She and her colleagues all published content on social media, blogging and other aspects of online marketing. So landing her is my first client gave me direction in terms of what to specialize in. So the bottom line is that you don't have to have it all figured out at the beginning, but narrowing all of your ideas down to just a few will give you a good starting point when it comes to finding an area specialty to recap. When you focus your writing on a specific industry, you transition from bringing a generalised to a specialist specialist typically command higher pay and often get more referrals as you gain experience in a specific field. You can also use that experience in your own content, such as books, your blawg and courses. Number two. You can determine an area focus by jotting down your skills, experience an interest and then choosing your top three as a starting point. In the next video, we'll get into how to choose a business model that is right for you 6. Choose a Business Model: in this video, I get into how to choose a business model that is right for you. The thought of selecting a business model might sound a bit scary, but let me put your mind at ease. All I mean by business model is to figure out the type of work you want to do and how you want to do it. For example, do you want to work on a retainer where you are paid a set amount of money each month for a set amount of hours or work produced? This is a good option for income stability, but you might prefer one off projects so that you'll have more flexibility. Do you want to work behind the scenes where no one but the client knows you're doing the work? Or do you prefer a more public role? Do you want to work for a local, national or international clients or a combination of them? Do you want to be part of a team, or do you prefer toe work mostly in isolation? Do you prefer a lot of face to face time with clients where you go into their office on a regular basis, or do you prefer to be remote and possibly never meet quiets in person. Do you want to have one or two big clients, or do you prefer to have several smaller clients? By the way, I've done both working for multiple clients and having just a few big clients, and there are definitely pros and cons to each option. If you have a couple of big clients and you lose one, that's a major blow to your income. So if you choose this option, be sure to build up a good emergency fund. On the other hand, if you have several small clients and you lose one, it's not a huge financial blow. However, with several small clients, you can feel like you're being pulled in a 1,000,000 different directions. If you're writing business evolves like minded. You may find that you experience most, if not all of the options I mentioned earlier in this video. If you are uncertain as to which option works best for you, take whatever comes along that you find interesting as you do the work. You'll figure out what you do and don't like, and over time you'll be able to nail down a solid business model To recap When choosing a business model, consider the big picture items such as how you wanna work, such as working remotely verses going into an office, whether you want to do one off projects or work on retainer, and whether or not you want to work for multiple, smaller clients and projects, or a few big ones that pay more. In the next video, we'll lay out some basic principles for how to lay the foundation for healthy, quiet relationships. 7. Lay a Healthy Foundation: The fourth step on the road map is to lay a proper foundation for building healthy, quiet relationships. Now I have a complete course on this topic, which includes how to avoid toxic quiets. So in this video I'll just recap some of the main points. But to go deeper, I recommend taking the class and all linked to it in the description of this class. First you want to interview potential clients, and you may think that as the freelancer, it's you that's being interviewed, and to some degree that is true. But it's also important for you to determine whether or not the client is one you want to work with. Having a conversation with them to find out their expectations and work style will help you avoid a client. That's not a good fit number to put things in writing. Once you determine you wanna work for someone, be sure to put everything in writing. For instance, what you'll do when you'll do it and payment terms. This will help you to avoid misunderstandings. Number three set things up to get paid on time. Now, obviously you want to be paid on time for the work you Dio and clients may be reluctant to pay 100% up front. So a good compromise is to be paid 50% before you start the work and the balance upon the completion of the process. If you do retainer work, you can set up recurring billing where you are paid the beginning of the month for the work that you will do that month Number four. Train your clients. Okay, so let's talk about training your clients. What I mean by training your clients is that the actions you take as a freelancer train your clients to expect and then demand certain behaviors of you. For example, if you say that you take evenings and weekends off and yet you respond to emails quickly. 24 7 In spite of what you've said, your training your clients to expect immediate responses from you. So be sure that your actions with your clients line up with your values. Number five. Position yourself to fire clients. All right now, it's important to position yourself to fire clients that are either abusive or not a good fit in other ways. The two most common ways to go about that are to have multiple clients so that you can afford to fire someone. If you work for just a handful, clients build up a solid emergency fund so that you can afford to fire a client without stressing out about how you're going to pay your bills. So to recap, toe lay a foundation for healthy client relationships. You'll want to interview potential clients. Put things in writing, lay a foundation for being paid on time. Train your clients by making sure your actions line up with your values. And finally, position yourself to fire clients that are abusive or not a good fit. As a reminder to go deeper in this topic, be sure to check out the class that I've linked to in the description. In the next class, we'll provide some tips for landing your first clients. 8. Find Your First Clients: in this video, we'll get into how to find your first writing clients first do limited amounts of work for free. Now I'm generally not a big fan of doing work for free, but it can be worthwhile to do some work for free in limited quantities. That's actually how I got started Working for Amy Porter filled. I noticed some typos and some of her sales copy and reached out to her to offer to do 50 pages of free editing. She took me up on the offer and, as she got to know me, decided to hire me. Now, if you offer to do this, know that there's no guarantee that you'll be hired. But you can ask for a testimonial for your website and linked in profile to keep from getting burned. Be clear about the limited nature of the work you'll do for free. For example, with Amy, I specified that I would do 50 pages of editing for free. Next. Put the word out. Let everyone, you know, know that you are looking for clients and the type of work you are most interested in doing . And by the way, when I say everyone I mean everyone. Don't underestimate the importance of letting friends and family members know what you're up to. Just because they don't run a business doesn't mean that they don't know business owners. When you meet people, when they ask what you do, let them know that you write. Don't use words that make you sound less and professional. For instance, rather than say, I'm an aspiring writer with confidence, say I'm a writer as long as you do some writing even if Onley on your own blawg, you don't need permission to call yourself a writer. Next, build a portfolio of your work. Speaking of blogging, while you're still waiting for clients and for that matter, be on that time. Publish your best work on your own blawg. To help establish credibility, be sure to publish content consistently. In fact, treat your own blawg as if it was a paid gig. If you've chosen an area of expertise as mentioned in an earlier video, consider writing a book on the topic. To help establish your expert status. You can also write guest post again. This is another reason to choose an interest. You focus, including your bio, that you are freelance writer specializing in that specific topic, next established a social media presence. Now it's not absolutely necessary to have a raving fan based on social media. In fact, I've landed client work largely through my blawg, not social media. Having said that, social Media has a place. For instance, you may indeed use it to establish a fan base. Or you may simply use it to interact with other writers or people in your target market. This type of interaction often happens in Facebook groups, since they tend to have a very specific area. Focus next, sign up for freelancing Sites Up work is the best known site for freelancers, including writers. Now, to be fair, people pitch their writing services from all over the world, sometimes at ridiculously low rates. The good news is, while you may have to start off at low rates as your reputation grows, so can your pricing. Here are some other job boards to consider. First pro blogger dot com slash jobs. As you can see at the current time, they're freelance writing jobs available all over the world, and many of them are location independent. Next all freelance writing dot com This site has jobs ranging from the low pay range of 25 to $50 to the semi pro range of 50 to $100 to the pro rate of 100 to $250. Next. Blogging pro dot com currently has everything from script writing to fashion. Blogging to someone needed to write ukulele related content next contain a dot co content. Edotco currently has work ranging from video tutorial, game writing to fitness writing to science writing and more. In addition to these websites, there are also some Twitter profiles that focus on jobs for writers. First is at right underscored jobs. You can take a look at the few of the offerings that they have next at who pays writers. And here's a sample of what they currently have listed. And finally, at J. Jobs underscore tweets, and again you can see what options that they currently have available. Next, you can reach out to potential clients. Reaching out to potential clients may seem really scary, and it can be particularly if they've never even heard of you. But I found more than one job by deciding what type of job I wanted and then cold, calling the company to see if they're hiring. It's amazing how often they just happen to have had a conversation about needing someone just like me right before I contacted them before making a call or reaching out via email. Do a bit of research into the company so you could be specific in your pitch. For instance, rather than saying something generic such as your site needs a blawg and I can help give them some specific feedback and ideas for the type of content you can create for them when you do this, referred to actual content on their site or information you know about their business. If you visited in person, use a professional email address with a link to your block or linked in profile so they can see samples of your work next network with other writers. I touched on this briefly earlier when I brought up joining Facebook groups become an active participant in Facebook. Groups that focus on freelance writing, look for ways to help others in the group and as opportunities arise, share about the types of writing clients you were looking for, finally build relationships with people in your industry focused common on blog's and YouTube videos and attend conferences and networking events specific to your chosen industry. It does take time to build relationships, but over time you'll become known as the writer for the industry, and you'll like would be the one that comes to mind when someone is looking for a writer. By the way, this approach is another great reason to specialize. Now you don't need to dio all of these to succeed. I recommend picking two or three that resonate the most with you and going all in with them now, once you start letting clients, don't forget to ask him for testimonials and referrals, because that can help you to build your writing business. 9. Your Project: thank you so much for taking this class. If you enjoy this class, I'd appreciate it if you leave me a review and also follow me on scale share as your project for this class, you'll brainstorm your skills, experience and interest. And from there select three possible areas of writing specialty. You'll also review the sample questions I provide in the project Terry of the Class to come up with a business model that works well for your personality and lifestyle. For more detailed instructions, be sure to check out the project Terry of this class. If you have any questions or need help with anything, leave your comments and questions in the community area of this class and I'll be sure to respond to you. Thank you so much and happy writing.