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4 Steps to Getting Freelance Writing Clients on LinkedIn (This Will Change Your Life)
Written by Freelance Writer and Author, William Ballard
If you want to be a freelance writer, Copywriter, or freelance blogger this article will change your life. Why?
LinkedIn is one of the absolute best ways to build a solid base of freelance writing clients, so you can have a steady income, and build a sustainable writing career.
How do I know this?
I’ve found that LinkedIn is a extremely reliable source for freelance writing work. That’s not to say I get all my clients from LinkedIn. I have many different ways of generating leads and starting conversations with potential clients. But if I wasn’t active on LinkedIn, I would have missed out on some great job writing opportunities.
I know that other freelance writers have had a similar experience on LinkedIn as well.
In this article, I’m going to share four steps for finding freelance writing work using LinkedIn. They are used by freelance writers – including myself – to connect with potential clients and start a conversation about writing services they have available.
As I share these four steps, I’ll assume you have moderate computer knowledge and can navigate your way around a social networking site. This isn’t a how-to guide on the basics of LinkedIn. Rather, I’ll show you how to use LinkedIn strategically, in a way that will help you get work.
Before we dig into these four steps, let’s take a quick look at what LinkedIn is
LinkedIn is a social network for working professionals. It’s like Facebook, Twitter or Google+, but instead of helping you stay in touch with your friends, LinkedIn is a way of maintaining connections with people you’ve worked with in the past. It also provides tools for networking and making connections with new people. With over 250 million users, it’s one of the biggest social networking sites in the world.
The fact that LinkedIn is a professional network makes it ideal for reaching out to potential clients.
Keep talking about your writing services on Facebook, and you’ll quickly alienate your friends. People go on Facebook to hang out and have a good time. They’re not there to talk about work or business.
On LinkedIn, people expect you to be more open about what you do for work. That’s not to say it’s okay to be salesy, or solely use it as a promotional tool. Rather, it’s a way of networking, (hence, the whole goal of social media) which gives you access to the hidden jobs market.
Most freelance writing jobs never get advertised. They’re not listed on Craigslist, or posted in online forums. How, then, do people who need freelance writers find the right writer for them? They ask around. They look to their network of connections to see if they know someone who can do the job. That’s where the hidden jobs market comes from.
Here are four LinkedIn steps you can use to access the hidden jobs market:
Step 1: Join LinkedIn and Complete Your Profile
This sounds like an obvious step, but if you’re not signed up to LinkedIn, you can’t use it to find writing clients. Once you’ve signed up, LinkedIn guides you through filling out your profile. This is similar to writing a resume (Need resume writer? Contact me today!). You’ll include a summary of your abilities, and you’ll list your work experience. On top of that, you can add extra modules to your profile such as Publications or a Creative Portfolio. Both of these provide a good way of highlighting the writing work you’ve already done.
Recently, LinkedIn added a section on every profile called Skills & Experience. Here, you can list your skills. I recommend breaking down your writing skills into the different services you offer. For example, if you write blog posts as a service to clients, include “blogging” as one of your skills. If you’re a good at press writing releases, list “press releases” as one of your skills. The more skills you list, the more likely those potential clients will come across you when they’re searching LinkedIn for help with a particular writing project.
What if your writing is a part-time gig, and not your main source of income?
In that case, you’ve got three options.
First, you can use LinkedIn under your real name to promote your writing services, and leave the rest of your professional life off your LinkedIn profile. The advantage of this is that it’s likely to be more attractive to prospects who want to hire you as a writer. The disadvantage is that if your main employer connects with you on LinkedIn, they may question why you haven’t listed your current job on your profile.
Third, you can list your main work and your writing business jointly as your current job. This has the advantage of transparency, a fact that makes this the best strategy for most people. Transparency has an added advantage. Being open about your main line of work could help you find clients, especially if they’re looking for the type of expertise you’ve got from your professional life. The key disadvantage to this approach is that you’ll struggle to stand out as a writer on LinkedIn.
Step 2: Collect Recommendations
If you’ve read even a little about marketing your writing services, you’ll know the vital role testimonials play in helping you pick up new clients. Testimonials act as a form of social proof. In other words, when potential clients see that others people have benefited from using your writing services, they’ll be more apt to hire you.
Recommendations are LinkedIn’s tool for helping you collect testimonials. You can ask anyone in your network for a recommendation. Once they’ve written the recommendation, you choose whether or not to display it on your LinkedIn profile.
What I particularly like about recommendations is that it’s totally normal to ask for them on LinkedIn. While it can feel awkward asking a client for a testimonial out of the blue, once you’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn, then asking them to leave you a recommendation is more power for the course.
If you need a recommendation to highlight a particular skill, there’s no shame in asking about that.
Recommendations come with an added bonus. When you ask a previous client for a recommendation, you’ve kick-started a conversation. Once you’ve got talking, you can find out if they need any more of your services (see step 3).
Here’s the template I use when I’m asking for recommendations:
How are you?
I’m updating my LinkedIn profile, and I’d be honored if you’d write a recommendation for me.
As I’m working as a freelance writer, the skills I’d like to highlight are research, writing, meeting deadlines, making complicated ideas simple, and being an all-round good person to bounce ideas off of. I’d be great if you could comment on some of these in your recommendation.
I’ve copied a couple of sample recommendations below in case you need help finding inspiration.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks in advance for helping me out, and please ask if you’d like a recommendation too.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel confident asking for recommendations, just start giving recommendations to others. You’ll find that lots of people return the favor.
Step 3: Talk to People
LinkedIn is a social network, so people are expecting you to socialize with them. Honestly, who doesn’t like to see their inbox light up with a message from an old friend or even a new acquaintance?
Talking to people in my network has been the most effective way I’ve found for finding clients on LinkedIn. I never act salesy, and I’m never pushy about my services. All I do is message people to find out how they’re doing, and I genuinely care.
For a personal example, I message people when they first connect with me on LinkedIn. This shows I’m someone who’s willing and available to talk, and that I’m approachable. Often, it leads to a conversation about my writing services.
When someone connects with me on LinkedIn, they’re either a new contact (someone I don’t recognize) or they’re a connection from the past.
If someone I don’t recognize adds me as a LinkedIn connection, I drop them a message to say thank you for connecting, and ask how they came across me.
Usually, one of three things happened:
When someone I recognize adds me as a connection, I send them a message to thank them for connecting. If they’re someone who might be interested in my writing services, I let them know that I’m a writer, and give a short overview of what I can deliver. Again, this has led to conversations about how I might help them, and to me being hired as a writer for their project.
Step 4: Connect With People
The final step I’ll outline in this article involves reaching out and making new connections yourself.
Whenever you make a new contact in the real world, or online, connect with them on LinkedIn. By adding them as a LinkedIn connection, you professionalize your relationship. What’s more, it’s a subtle way of selling your writing services. Instead of having to give an in-depth explanation of your writing business to people you meet – which can be intimidating and feel like you’re being salesy – add them on LinkedIn. Then, if they want to, they have the option of looking at your profile and checking out what you have to offer.
When someone accepts my request to be a new connection on LinkedIn, I drop them a message as I would in Step 3. This starts a conversation, which as you know by now, can lead to work.
Should you add people who are already your clients?
Is there any reason to do this, when they’ve already hired you? In answer to both of these questions, I give a resounding “yes!”
Adding your current clients helps you in a number of ways:
First, you can ask them for recommendations.
Second, by hooking up with them on LinkedIn, you’ve established a long-term connection and working relationship with them. When your current writing contract finishes, LinkedIn provides an easy, no obligations way of staying in touch. You’re more visible on their radar, so if they need your writing services in the future, they’re more likely to hire you again.
Third, by connecting with writing clients on LinkedIn, you become part of the network of all their connections. According to LinkedIn terminology, these are called 2nd degree connections. If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you’ll know that these 2nd degree connections, also known as “weak links”, are one of your best bets for finding freelance writing work in the future.
To conclude, whichever steps you use to find clients on LinkedIn, always use them with a smile on your face. Being a beacon of positivity will make you more attractive to potential clients.
We all love working with people who brighten our day!
Now, go back and read this article again. This time, as you read, put the steps into practice.
If you are in need of a writer, please don't hesitate to give me a shout.
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The True Writer's Life: Discovering the Author and Finisher of Our Faith
This book has the potential to transform aspiring writers into published authors!
Inside every reader is a writer, and inside every writer is a spiritual being, but even deeper than that, every spiritual being has the ability to tap into the mind and heart of God. More Details >>
About the Author
William Ballard is the proud author of, "The True Writer's Life: Discovering the Author and Finisher of Our Faith".
He has been writing professionally for over 10+ years and has much experience within the industry, both in publishing and in freelance writing. He has successfully self-published over 10 books and eBooks. Visit his Amazon Author Page to see list of his most recent projects.