The freelance roller coaster can rapidly lurch from a thrilling peak and dump you in a depressing hole.
One day you’re polishing off projects and slinging out invoices, the next you’re staring at any empty inbox.
So how can you quickly kick-start your cart and start climbing to the top?
There are many ways to find work.
Some of them are quick, and produce fast results. Some techniques are slow-burners and take time to pay off.
Rock-solid freelance careers rely on a mixture of marketing techniques – so you get immediate work now, and the promise of future projects.
When your workload goes cold you probably want to focus on the short-term techniques that will you get you working this week.
Alongside this effort, it makes sense to invest in your long-term marketing, so you have stuff to do in the weeks and months that follow.
What does this mean in practice?
Step 1: Stop and think
Before you dash into action, pause to think about what’s happening.
- Why has work dried up?
- Are my usual marketing efforts bringing me the clients I want?
- What kinds of clients do I want?
- How can I reach my ideal client?
- What are my competitors doing well?
- How can I exceed my competitors’ best efforts?
- How can I stand out against my competitors?
- What’s happening in the world that might help – or hinder – my marketing?
These questions might help you realise that you need to change something. But they may also confirm that you need to do more of the same stuff you usually do.
Step 2: Write a blog post
Seem like a weird step if you’re desperate for work? In a sense, yes, it is a strange first step, because writing a blog post won’t deliver a stampede of clients.
But blogging will refresh your website. A fresh blog post is usually the best way to bring your website up-to-date, and will give visitors a good impression (and we’re hoping to attract more visitors to your website as part of the steps that follow).
Don’t have a website? Head over to Squarespace or WordPress and fix that immediately. If you don’t have a website you are missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools available.
Step 3: Update your status on social media
You’re available and looking for work. So tell people. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all ideal for this kind of activity. Don’t like asking for work? That’s fine. Keep it a secret.
Step 4: Send emails to clients and contacts
Time to nudge the clients and contacts that have talked to you about work in the past. Say hi, maybe mention your recent work experience, and say you have some immediate availability.
Step 5: Get networking
Networking rarely yields immediate results. But if you’re having a quiet spell, you may as well get out and get talking to people. And you never know who you might meet.
Not sure where to start? Try looking for niche groups, professional associations, clubs and Meetup groups.
Step 6: Pick up the phone
Okay – this is where it gets hard. Thus far all you’ve had to do is write a few words from the comfort of your office. But these activities, in isolation, are unlikely to cure your work drought.
If you really need work, and I mean, really, really need the work, then you should be ready to take action.
Pick up the phone. If you have existing clients, call them for a catch-up. Let them know you have a little availability. Offer to help them with something new. Suggest ways you can solve their problems, or bring them new business.
If you don’t have many clients, start calling new businesses.
Who to call?
First, decide which kind of organisation probably hires copywriters like you. Search online. Make a list of suitable candidates. Email them. Introduce yourself. Explain how you could help them. Then call them.
Be polite, be friendly. Plan your introduction. Keep it brief.
Feel nervous about cold calling?
What’s the worst that could happen?
Someone might get annoyed with you.
Eeek! It doesn’t feel nice to incur someone’s wrath.
But it won’t kill you. It won’t even leave a scratch.
And that’s the very worst thing that could happen.
What’s the best thing that could happen?
You could find your next best client.
You could drum up some work.
You could get busy and make money.
(thanks to Eelke for the picture https://flic.kr/p/7e6QLC)