How to find content marketing clients who are under the radar
There’s a big divide in the world of freelance writing. There are so many organisations out there that are creating content and looking for freelance writers, or companies who want to create content, but don’t know where to find good writers. That’s where you come in. This post takes you through the best ways to identify potential content writing clients, who you may not have heard of before, but who have budgets and a need for freelance writers.
How freelance writers can find content marketing clients
A couple of weeks ago I asked you what you'd like me to cover in upcoming blog posts, and some of you got in touch to suggest topics (thank you). Becoming a content marketing writer and finding content marketing clients were two of the most common suggestions.
Freelance content marketing jobs for writers are not always easy to find and I'm definitely not a fan of job boards for writers, but if you are prepared to invest a little time and effort, there are thousands of companies who need writers to put their work and ideas into words.
I believe that there are three simple steps that freelance writers need to follow to find content writing clients. Of course, these steps aren’t fool proof, but if you want to become a content marketing writer, this is a great start.
I have used this technique regularly and it works.
In fact, I found one of my best content writing clients using this strategy, and in the last six months alone, I have earned over $20K from working with a client I found using these steps.
1. Brainstorm the kind of content you can create
Before you work out who to write for, you need to know what kind of content you can write.
I think freelance writers can sometimes get stuck thinking that they can only write blog posts or newsletter content.
But like the industry that you write for or within, the type of content you create can be really varied.
For example, think about whether you can write:
Thought leadership articles
(electronic) Direct mail campaigns
Social media posts
The list goes on.
Once you know the kind of content you can create, you’re ready to take the next step.
2. Pick your area of expertise or interest
Ok, so you know that I don’t believe that freelance writers must have a niche (especially if you are writing features for magazines and newspapers), but if you are looking to do more content marketing writing and/or B2B (that’s business to business) writing, I do think it can be helpful to position yourself in one or two industries.
Even though I don’t have a background in HR, I write quite a lot of recruitment content for all kinds of organisations, agencies and businesses.
People find me through my LinkedIn profile, as well as seeing my byline on some of the articles they read in this space.
Even if you’re not 100 per cent sure what area you want to write in, pick something that you’re interested in, curious about, or experienced in and do the ground work initially in that area.
There are endless industries you could be looking at writing for.
I know writers who write in these fields:
Sleep (yes, really!)
The wonderful content marketing writer and blogger Jennifer Gregory has a really great tip of adding technology to a niche.
For example if you write about healthcare, then think about whether you can write about healthcare technology or if you write about sleep think about writing about sleep technology.
Jennifer suggests that "non-geek" writers add technology to their niche because the technology industry is booming, and that opens up the potential for freelance writers to get their foot in the door (and make good money) .
So, say you want to write about healthcare technology.
Google: “healthcare technology company Australia” (or whatever country you are in).
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to stick to the country where you are living, but this is just an example to show you how to find those hidden gems of companies looking for writers.
If you do that Google search, there are a couple of likely results that will pop up initially – a few agencies that specialise in B2B content for the healthcare technology industry or you may find that national associations rank highly.
You'll be able to see from the agencies' websites the companies they have worked for (and take note of these, because it’s very unlikely an organisation or company would engage an agency if they didn’t have a healthy budget).
For associations, you can see their list of clients to get an idea of who is a member, as these are probably going to be relatively big organisations who are invested in having a voice in this area.
Then it’s likely that in the following search results you’ll find pages and pages of companies that fit the healthcare technology bill.
For example, one of the companies on the first page of my Google search had a “Knowledge Hub” containing blogs, case studies, white papers, reports, webinars and patient stories.
Are you seeing where I’m going with this?
Someone has to create all that content.
And it’s your job to find out if there’s a spot for you.
Once you’ve looked through the first few pages of results, it's time to systematically work your way through each agency, association or company to find out if they work with freelance writers.
3. Find out if they work with freelance writers
The core of your mission is to find companies that use freelance writers, pay well, have regular work and are good to work for and with.
It’s hard to know all these things just from looking at a company’s website, but there are a few nifty ways of working out if it’s worth sending a letter of introduction, or LOI as they are commonly called.
a) The first thing to do is to start a word document or excel spread sheet so you can keep track of your search results.
I have a really simple one that I use (shown below) – but you can make yours as fancy as you like.
Mine has eight columns:
Date (LOI) sent
Follow up date
b) Once you have looked at the organisation's website and either seen that they create the kind of content that you write (or could write), go to LinkedIn.
In LinkedIn’s search bar, type in the name of the organisation and press enter.
You can see that there is a list underneath that says “People Jobs Content and More”
Click on “more” and then click on “companies”
This will give you a list of companies that share that name. Select the company that you want to research.
There will be a summary that has lots of company details – whether the company is privately held, when it started, and most importantly for this exercise, the company size.
Roughly speaking, a business that employs more than 50 people is probably going to have some kind of content strategy and be able to afford to pay a freelance writer decently.
To give you an idea, two companies that I write for that pay well (at least 90c/word or over $120/hour) have between 1,000 – 10,000 employees.
The smallest size company I’d recommend sending your LOI to is between 20 – 50 employees.
I have done a little bit of work for this size of organisation, but I have to say, I’m usually dealing with an owner or marketing manager who are so busy that they usually don’t have time to dedicate to thinking about their content strategy.
They like the idea of regular content, but often don’t have the means to keep funding it, nor have a clear idea of the outcome they want.
Bigger companies may seem more daunting to approach, but they have specific people in charge of communications and marketing, and these days it’s likely that they have a commitment to content creation.
I know lots of freelance writers who don’t like to use LinkedIn, but it’s such a great resource for us. And I've found some great clients through the networking platform.
(As a side note - Copywriter John Espirian has a great post about using LinkedIn to find freelance work).
And of course, you want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is the best it can be.
c) Take action
Once you determine a company or organisation may be a good fit for your writing services, send an invitation to connect to the communications manager, marketing manager or digital marketing manager, and record it on your spread sheet or word document.
What you need to know about finding content writing clients
I can't tell you how many LOIs I have sent out in the past six years. (I only started recording it 18 months ago, so take my advice and do it from the beginning!)
But it's a lot.
I've got work from some, responses from some and a whole lot of silence too.
I'm telling you this because freelance writers can't just send a handful of LOIs out and wait for the offers to come rolling in.
I think initially 3 - 5 LOIs a day is a good target to set and after a couple of weeks you can reassess and see if you're hitting the mark.
So although is no magic formula to finding content marketing clients, I know there are loads of companies and organisations out there desperate for freelance writers but don't know where to find them.
Now's your chance to show them where you are.
Do you write content marketing content? How have you found your clients?