6 Ways to Generate Leads for Writers
Updated: Mar 7
Life can be tough for a freelance writer, especially when you’re starting out. I left my last job in 2005 after being fired from a media company as part of a corporate takeover. While I was making plans to strike out on my own, my timetable suddenly accelerated when the ax fell. I was reminded of the old Yiddish adage that says, “Man plans, but God laughs.” We can carefully strategize, but life is unpredictable, with unseen potholes and roadblocks.
So, there I was, unemployed, wanting to become a full-time freelance writer, but having no clients, prospects, or money. Fortunately, I did have a close friend who was already a year down the path I wanted to follow. He offered some great advice, mentoring and even threw a few editing projects my way. It was a great start.
Not knowing how to attract clients, I had an idea. With about 300 Facebook friends at the time, I decided to reach out to them for help. But rather than a blanket posting or email, I contacted each one via messenger with a customized message. I told them what I was doing and asked if they knew anyone who could use my services.
Low and behold, I got several nibbles, and one of them said her boss was looking for someone to write an article he would send to his clients. He hired me, and just like that, I had my first client.
That was almost ten years ago, and today my business is well established. It has changed dramatically from where it was a decade ago. Rather than being a generalist, I’ve become a specialist, helping clients “Bring their stories to life” via books and audiobooks. I offer ghostwriting, manuscript editing, and audiobook narration and production to scores of clients from all walks of life. I am living the dream I had ten years ago when I began in April of 2010.
Some of today’s challenges are the same as they were initially and revolve around one of the most often asked questions: How and where do you find your clients? Whether you are new in the business or well established, one thing is true. Clients come and go, projects have a definite end date, and income needs to be replaced as projects conclude.
There are six methods I use to find people who may need my services or know someone who does. Let’s face it, not everyone wants or needs to write a book, so it is a highly specialized niche. But I believe that everyone has a story to tell, and their story can help someone else. That is the person I am looking for. But how do I find them? In no particular order, I give you:
Six Ways of Finding New Clients
Networking – 2020 was quite a challenge for those who rely on networking to make new business contacts and market their services. Face-to-face meetings were primarily replaced by Zoom, Facetime, and Skype meetings as restaurants, coffee shops, and other venues closed. No longer could you attend a large event and hand out dozens of business cards. But entrepreneurs pivoted and began using platforms such as Zoom in large numbers to still get in front of people to pitch their services and get introduced to new people. I did the same, met a lot of many great people, and landed a few new projects.
The happyneighborhoodproject.com/network hosts weekly online meetings where you can meet new people, give your short elevator speech, and make new friends. Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic easing, you can expect a return to face-to-face networking in the months ahead. If you have not tried networking, do so. As a writer/editor, you will probably be the only one offering those services in your group.
Social Media – I have used social media throughout my business. As I mentioned, I landed my first client via an outreach on Facebook. Since then, I have gravitated to LinkedIn and have found a lot of success there. I spend 15 to 30 minutes a day reaching out and connecting with new prospects and have landed many of my new clients via LinkedIn. Video postings are extremely popular on LinkedIn, and it is another way to get yourself known and introduced to others. If you are not on LinkedIn, join today, complete your profile, and start reaching out to others. It is a powerful platform for business growth and development. Facebook also offers specific business groups you can join. There, you can begin networking with other writers who might need help with their projects looking to partner with another writer.
Website Blogs – Do you have a website to showcase your work or (if you are new) to tell others what you do? If not, why not? Your website is like an extended business card in today's world, introducing yourself to the world and telling others what you do. I use my website to showcase past projects and demonstrate how I help others tell their stories. I also post a weekly blog (like this one), which gets cross-posted on social media. Consider building or hiring someone to build your website (there are also free website platforms out there). Begin blogging about what you do and your area(s) of expertise. Even without a website, you can begin blogging and getting your name “out there” for those looking for the services you provide.
Referrals – “Who do you know” is a powerful question. As you work with clients, don’t be afraid to ask them who they know that could benefit from your services. Word-of-mouth referrals or recommendations are among the most effective influencers there are. Who doesn’t try a new restaurant or see the latest movie if a friend raves about it? It is the same with a business referral. A satisfied client is the best marketing tool you can have, so don’t be afraid to ask others, “who do you know?” That also goes for past clients, so reach out to them.
Zoom – I’ve already talked about this, but it bears repeating. Yes, face-to-face meetings are resuming, but Zoom is here to stay. I live in Arizona in the United States but have been fortunate to have clients in such faraway places as Italy, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and other states. I have never met some of them in person, but we have gotten acquainted via Zoom. It is a valuable tool that can take your business around the world.
Email Marketing – True confession. I have not utilized email marketing to a great extent. Still, it is another method of keeping in touch with clients and prospecting new ones. You can develop an email marketing campaign to filter prospects through your marketing funnel to qualify them as clients. There are many companies and individuals who can help you set up such funnels and campaigns to attract new business.
There you have it. The six methods I have used to build and generate my writing business over the past ten years. I have used all of them at one time or another. Some have been more successful than others. But they all work and are tools you can use to build a successful writing business with ongoing and steady clients. I wish you much success as you venture forth into becoming a writer.
Dave Ficere is an Author, Editor, and Ghostwriter with over 30 years of experience in broadcasting and writing. When Dave is not writing and editing manuscripts for clients, you can typically find him narrating and producing audiobooks. To learn more about Dave, visit his website or find him on LinkedIn.
“Bringing Your Story to Life” is more than just a tagline at Ficere Writing Solutions. We provide clients with top-notch writing, editing, and audiobook services to get your book or audiobook ready to publish. Our portfolio of services includes: Ghostwriting books, editing book manuscripts and narration, and production of audiobooks.
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