Few things can beat the sheer delight and thrill of being considered a superb writer by friends, family members, and other writers whose abilities you admire. It is like a superpower that you are only too proud to show-off.
Then, you decide to monetize your skill by becoming a freelance writer, and it seems like you’ve been lied to about this cool thing that you—and a select few—can do.
It might take weeks to land your first client on Upwork (or anywhere else). And no matter how good a job you deliver, you still have to wait a little while for your next gig.
This situation is not peculiar to you. The competition is quite stiff for freelancers in general. However, you can still make a decent, nay proud monthly income as a freelance writer.
What you need is a strategy. The 7 easy-to-implement tips below are guaranteed to help you start getting long-term writing jobs.
Start a Blog
But don't stop there. You must also consistently update and manage your blog posts. This is an effective way for freelance writers to learn and improve upon important skills while displaying a robust portfolio to prospects.
Now, you might be wondering which other skills you need to learn as a writer—besides writing, of course. Well, it's the 21st century. And unless you want to focus your expertise on book writing alone, you will need to learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to navigate Content Management Systems like WordPress, Blogger, and SquareSpace.
Also, you are in the business of showing and not telling. Think about how much better it is to show your clients how creative, timely, hardworking, and original you can be as opposed to merely telling them in an interview.
It really doesn't hurt to start a blog.
In your writing career, you will find that “partner” is usually just another word for long-term clients. You need to make your clients understand that your interest in the success of their books or articles goes beyond payment.
Money, no doubt, is important. But it’s even better when it’s not a one-time deal. Some ways to show your clients how interested you are in their success and make them your partners are:
Be Genuinely Interested
Do not try to fake it. Regardless of how great an actor you are, your client will eventually figure out your true motivations with time.
Ask for Feedback
Even if the client says that you have delivered a flawless job, you should still ask for the ways in which you can serve them better. This tells your client that you are interested in doing more jobs for them.
If you have come upon an exciting topic that would engage their audience, share it with your client. You can also send them articles that are related to their style of content for inspiration.
Ask for Referrals
Your long-term clients are more likely to come from previously impressed ones. However, it is important that you are tactful in the way you ask for the referrals. You do not want your client, especially one that pays well and is easy to work with, to feel unimportant.
Instead of inadvertently making demands, let your clients know early on that you welcome referrals. Do so in the same polite manner and at the same time(s) as you would ask for a review. That is, during the proposal and after the submission of the job.
When you ask for referrals, chances are that the client will suggest someone who needs the same solution that they got from you. This means that you'll be able to focus on your strengths and build trust.
And guess what wins you the coveted long-term clients … you got it right: trust.
Treat the "Small Jobs" Like a Big Deal
This is especially important when you are a new freelancer and are applying for entry-level writing jobs. It's not about how high-paying the job is but rather how well you deliver.
A $500 gig that pays once is nothing compared to a $100 gig that pays you 10 times.
You just need to stay motivated as a writer and give your best to every job.
Communicate Your Worth
It goes without saying that, first and most importantly, you need to know just what you're worth as a writer. The hours of solitude and hard work that went into learning and perfecting your skills are worth rewarding.
Yes, your time and efforts should be valued. As such, it might be wise to be selective about who you work with long-term. Ensure that such individuals or organizations value your creative input.
It is understandable that you are concerned about bragging and turning off potential clients. What you need is a blend of kindness, humility, and firmness. Also, make sure you have a lot in your portfolio to back your claims.
In many cases, people do not go in search of freelancers for long-term partnerships. The very definition of the word "freelancer" suggests that the individual is not affiliated with any company or personal brand besides their own.
While you might not want to get so friendly with your client that you give them free content, you should be able to place yourself in their shoes.
Seeing things from the perspective of your client helps you better appreciate certain jobs and their requirements.
Communication that is built on empathy will eventually foster trust and lead to a long-term relationship.
Never Forget to Upsell
You've just completed an ebook for your client, but can you also write a copy to help market the book?
You've written a winning blog post for your client, but how about their social media accounts?
You can write special reports for their email list, scripts for their YouTube page, and upsell other skills that you might have. (Are you also a graphic designer?)
By doing this, you might just succeed at making yourself a vital part of your client's business.
Knowing this now, how much would you say you have been leaving on the table?
The Importance of Long-Term Writing Jobs
As a freelance writer, cultivating long-term relationships with your clients could determine how well you enjoy your job.
Below are some reasons why you shouldn't completely depend on short-term gigs.
This is what makes you feel secure in any career: knowing what to expect financially at the end of every month.
With short-term writing jobs, you always have to keep your fingers crossed that certain months will be profitable. They are uncertain and unreliable. Even the most experienced and successful freelance writers cannot guarantee that their proposals will be accepted every time.
It is a whole lot safer to shoot for long-term gigs.
Unless you want a generic proposal (which is often easily sniffed out), you would take some time to make it not just appealing but also suited to the needs of your prospect.
If they are impressed by the proposal, then the interview begins. Depending on the client, they might request for a Zoom meeting in addition to the text interview.
Yet, all these do not guarantee that you will be chosen by the prospect. The entire process could take hours or days.
This time could have been spent making money.
Both short- and long-term clients can get you referrals. They can also leave you glowing reviews, which is great for social proof.
But here's the thing: short-term clients are more likely to bring other short-term clients. The same is also true for the clients you've done numerous jobs for. Clients who are looking to build a team might prefer freelancers who have that experience.
Working with long-term clients tells prospects that you are hard-working, reliable, and actually good at what you do.
Anxiety and Stress
As with any job, there will often be moments when you are anxious and stressed out. But these do not have to be the prevailing emotions that you feel throughout your writing career.
Much of the anxiety for freelancers comes from the delay in finding their next gig. And since they are also people with lives outside work, there is the issue of bills and, probably, debts to pay.
For the freelancer who has formed long-term partnerships, such levels of anxiety may be quite foreign. However little their monthly income adds up to, it is steady enough for them to plan their finances.
Without question, freelance writers are essential to the survival of numerous brands and businesses. While other professionals might worry about being replaced by machines, freelance writers can rest assured that they will be needed for a long time—there's just too much personality and empathy required.
Still, there are many creative and hardworking writers who are unable to make a decent living from their skill. The competition and inconsistency of jobs are two major reasons for this problem.
By implementing the tips listed above, you will position yourself to land repeat clients and enjoy the full rewards of the value you provide.