So, you know you want to be a freelance blogger.
However, there’s a little problem.
You don’t have any clients yet, and a potential client will probably want to know if you’ve worked with anyone before.
Does this sound like you?
Well, the good news is that you’re not alone.
All the professional freelance bloggers you see today started with that very first client and I’m sure it wasn’t a pretty experience for all of them.
Today we’re going to take a peek at how other professional freelance bloggers landed their very first client.
But first, let’s take a quick look at *you*!
How to Package Yourself Prior to Meeting a Freelance Blogging Client
The idea is to present yourself in such a way that the client will not want to turn you down.
Clients usually like to work with people who can prove that they’re capable of carrying out the job. This can be done via:
Your writing samples or portfolio
If you’ve ever written a blog post, published or unpublished, then collect your work together for your potential clients to see.
If possible, show them posts whose topics are closely related to your target client’s niche.
Get an online portfolio ready as soon as possible. Instead of sending links in an email, you’ll be able to send potential clients to browse your portfolio – it’s your number one marketing tool.
An online reference point
As a freelance blogger, you should have a website where potential clients can check you out.
Alicia talked about how you can set up a free WordPress site, but if you don’t have a website yet that’s fine — you can start with a profile page on a site such as Linkedin.com or About.me.
The right attitude
When you’re searching for your first blogging client, you might feel paralyzed with fear.
Give yourself a confidence boost and believe that you can do it. Once you’ve written your first blog post for a client, it gets easier to feel confident approaching other potential clients.
So, let me introduce you to 22 professional freelance bloggers.
I asked them, “How did you land your first freelance blogging client, and what advice would you give a newbie on landing *their* first client?”
Check out their stories and advice:
#1 Lauren Spear
Lauren Spear is a freelance blogger and the owner of LittleZotz Writing. She works as a bylined writer and a ghostwriter. She has been a part of the writing and marketing departments for a television mini-series, an online radio station, a designer headphone company, and countless small businesses around the world. She was also the Managing Editor right here at Be a Freelance Blogger!
“Back in 2010, when I first turned freelance writing into my sole source of income, I placed an ad for my services as a writer on Craigslist. That ad was seen by the head of the marketing department for a television mini-series and I was hired on to maintain said show’s official blog for the length of the series! I’ve been blogging for clients steadily ever since.
Unfortunately, Craigslist has gone downhill a lot since I tried that tactic out many years ago; however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other platforms that you could use to get yourself ‘out there.’ The main point is to market yourself — in any way you can – and keep getting yourself out there. You never know who might be watching!”
#2 Russell Lobo
Russell Lobo is a blogger, serial entrepreneur and niche site owner who blogs and shares the case studies of his niche sites. He has 6 years of experience working full time online and is a niche site owner. Among his recent successes, he has written 1,000 posts in one month and has ranked on Page 1 for a 33,000 search volume keyword in less than two months. He also took a site from $0 to $1,000 in three months.
“I landing my first client by becoming a friend and offering value. I participated in groups where my target audience were and then made friends with them. Then I analyzed the keywords they were not ranking for and suggested that if they employ me, I can help them with it. Since the trust was created, they were happy to do so.
My advice to newbies would be, first build relationships, then ask for money. Gain the trust and then deliver.”
Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, ghostwriter, and content creator. Her articles, essays, and commentary pieces have appeared extensively online at top-tier sites including: Pro Blogger, Tiny Buddha, Lifehack, Date my Pet, Men With Pens, and the Well-Fed Writer e-zine. Her blog, Pen & Prosper, has been recognized as a “Top Blog for Writers” in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. When she’s not at the keyboard, she likes to express her creativity in the kitchen.
“I discovered and subsequently contracted with my first blogging client through an ad posted at Pro Blogger’s job board, many moons ago. It was a very popular, professional blog that still exists today.
Though it didn’t pay very well, (compared to today’s standards), the exposure and experience put me on the map; it taught me discipline, helped me to cultivate my writer’s voice and to understand the needs of an audience.
To bloggers seeking to land their first client successfully, I offer the following advice:
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your own blog in attracting potential clients. Make sure your site is professional, on point, and regularly updated with quality content. Today it serves like an online resume. Which is why many business clients request a link to your blog during the application process.
- For optimal results, seek work through reputable job boards and forums like Pro Blogger, Writers Weekly, and Indeed.com.
- Make sure you’re aware of (and can communicate) your U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition); it gives you a competitive edge and enables you to be more strategic in your efforts.
- Be familiar with various content management systems like WordPress and Blogger, in the event you have to post your own work.”
#4 Lisa Rowan
Lisa has spent several years as a freelance online marketing strategist and social media producer for small businesses and nonprofits. Most recently, she accepted a full-time role as a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder, the U.S.’s largest personal-finance blog.
Her blog, Quarter Life, eventually turned into a vintage clothing shop, Beltway Vintage. But she still gets nerdy about yesteryear on a regular basis, even though she closed the shop in 2015.
“I landed my first freelance blogging client after I told my friends— ALL my friends — I was looking for work. Since I had a journalism background, it was easy to show previous work to prove my chops. One of my friends had just been promoted on her marketing team and was looking for freelancer support. She made the case to her supervisor and brought me on for help. It took some time to get all the details in place, but the relationship is still going strong after several years!
I would advise all newbies to get specific about subject area and topics of expertise early, but remember that adjacent areas of work can be just as satisfying, both financially and emotionally.
Thoughtfully consider every opportunity that comes your way before accepting or turning it down!”
#5 Joe Fylan
Joe Fylan is a freelance copywriter and blogger who specializes in writing about technology, web design and online marketing. Joe has been using WordPress for many years and spends his time creating content for a wide range of websites and blogs.
“I looked for blogs in the niche I wanted to write about that either had “Write for Us” pages and were actively looking for writers or were clearly working with multiple bloggers. I then contacted those blogs offering my services, including a few pitches for posts I could write them, along with a link to my very basic portfolio site.
When researching potential clients, look for blogs that are likely to be generating good money, either through selling their own products or advertising. If the posts are getting lots of social shares and comments, then that is a good sign they are getting enough traffic to be able to generate enough revenue to pay you well for your services.
When starting out, if you don’t have any published work, quickly setup a very basic WordPress website (I’ve published a guide here) and write a few posts that you think would go down well on the blogs you’d like to write for. You could even approach a few blogs in the industry you want to write in and offer a free guest post. Don’t make writing for free a habit but in the beginning, it can be worth it just to get one or two posts published and a couple of testimonials for your portfolio.”
#6 Minuca Elena
Minuca creates awesome influencer roundups that provide quality content, bring huge traffic, and helps bloggers connect with influencers.
“My first client was Sue Dunlevie from Successful Blogging. I met her 3 months before she became my client. I connected with her on her blog by commenting and sharing her posts. One day I emailed her saying that I shared her webinar in a group with 18,000 members, and I directed her to the expert roundup that I created to launch my blog, in which 40 Bloggers Talk About Their Biggest Challenge.
She was already interested in publishing a roundup for her blog but she was reluctant to invest the price that I charged. So I gave her a special discount and I made for her one my biggest roundup so far which is 110 Top Bloggers Share Their Most Successful Social Media Action.
Although I charged her less money, I worked very hard to this post and my efforts paid off. She was thrilled by the results of my work. Her traffic went up by 300% during the week that my roundup was published and she hired me to do more roundups for her. Sue also introduced me to her other friends who became my clients.
To sum this up, if you want to get more clients for your freelancing services you need to follow these next steps:
- Build a relationship with your potential clients before pitching them. Blog commenting and following them on social media is a great way to connect with other bloggers. Be patient. Networking takes time.
- Show results. An awesome writer must have three qualities:
- in-depth knowledge about the topics he or she writes about;
- promotion and networking skills that ensure a great engagement and traffic;
- a captivating literary style.
- Give discounts to your first clients until you can build your reputation. Don’t charge the same prices as famous freelancers. Until you have social proof and a trusted brand, clients will be reluctant to invest too much in your service.
- Work hard and over deliver so that your clients are happy with your work and recommend you to other bloggers.
- Make a professional “Hire me” page. Depending on your type of work, you may not want to make your price lists public. In this case, make a PDF or a private page and share the link only with your potential clients.”
Lorraine is a freelance writer/blogger and editor. Find her on Wording Well, where she gives away a free blogging e-book, 20 Blog Post Must-Haves. She also runs The Blind Writer, where she provides writers (and bloggers) with direction on how to move their writing forward.
“My first client was Greg Narayan from Dear Blogger. When I first started blogging, I wanted to learn how to be a better blogger, so I began following Greg’s posts. Eventually, we built up a relationship through our blog comment conversations
When I pitched him my idea of a guest post, he accepted. I became the first person to EVER guest post on his site!
Because Greg was impressed with my knowledge as well as my ability to write and edit, he hired me for three different job positions: writing, editing, and social media tweeting.
I learned many things from Greg during the 8+ months I worked for him. When I asked for an increase in my pay rates, I got it.
When I resigned from the Social Media Manager position, Greg understood.
I will be forever indebted to him for the boost he gave me when I was first starting out, and will always remember him as both my worst and best client. He taught me many valuable lessons as a freelancer… and I won’t ever make the mistakes I made with Greg with my other clients… EVER!
My advice for new freelancers is to create relationships with others. It’s relationships that will give you the edge you need in the freelancing world!”
#8 Shaun Quarton
Shaun is a freelance blogger from the UK with a passion for online entrepreneurship, content marketing, and all things WordPress.
“When I started blogging in 2014, I made a point of checking the ProBlogger and BloggingPro job boards every day. Fortunately, it didn’t take long before I scored my first client. Although it can be easy to think you can write about anything and everything, I recommend waiting until you see a job that fits your skill set and portfolio. Firstly, you’re more likely to land a job in your ‘niche,’ and secondly, you don’t have to sift through piles and piles of rejection emails that any new writer will inevitably face.
After landing that first client, things got significantly easier for me. Word of mouth got me my second client, and from then on I had enough of a portfolio that I could contact blogs in my niche directly. At some point, as you begin to make a name for yourself, you’ll have clients contacting you directly and you won’t need to search for work anymore — it’s a nice position to be in!”
Lisa is a mother, a freelance parenting blogger, journalist, and content strategist. She specializes in digging to the heart of a story and telling it in a new way. Her interests include businesses, nonprofits, web publications, and magazines. Learn more about her writing at her writer site.
“I landed my first client because Sophie sent me the job posting and told me to apply!
My first advice is to make sure you’re pitching the right prospects. A lot of new freelance bloggers aim too low. If you’re pitching little companies that don’t even have blogs, your chances of landing a client are much lower, and your chances of keeping the client are almost nil. If they don’t have a blog, they don’t know how to use a blog, so unless you can offer them extensive content strategy and blog promotion — don’t bother.
Instead, look for companies that have a blog but don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with it. Make sure they HAVE posted on their blog, but not very recently, and they’re not posting regularly or weekly. Or find a company that has a blog that isn’t very good — the headlines aren’t optimized and the topics are all over the place — and pitch them on how you could make it better. Make sure the company makes at least $5 million in annual revenue (look them up on Manta.com. Seriously. Trust me on this! — they can’t afford a freelancer otherwise!). The only exception to the revenue rule is if they’ve posted a job listing for a blogger: if they’re looking at hiring a content writer, you can pitch them on why a freelancer is cheaper for them than an in-house writer.
Second, pitch a LOT. Every day. Make lists of prospects, send pitches, find more prospects, rinse and repeat. This is your job as a freelancer. This will ALWAYS be your job as a freelancer. Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Never. Stop. Pitching.
Next, never confine your pitching to just blog prospects. While you’re pitching businesses for blogs, also pitch a variety of other prospects — especially publications. If you can land a byline in a prestigious publication, especially a high-profile blog in your industry, your pitches to businesses will become a lot more appealing. Think about it — if your email to a business owner mentions ‘I’ve written for [Prestigious Website That The Business Owner Reads Every Day]’ — you’ll look a lot more impressive as a blogger, right? So pitch publications regularly. It’s very rare to get recurring income from publications, so don’t do it for ongoing income — do it for the byline.
And finally, I want to say this again, because it’s my most important advice: Never. Stop. Pitching. If your pitches never get replies, then get advice from an experienced freelancer and figure out what’s wrong with your pitches. Make them better, find new prospects, and KEEP PITCHING. If you keep sending pitches to prospects — consistently, every day, and you keep working to make your pitches better — you WILL make it as a freelancer. Period. That’s the difference between successful freelancers and freelancers who go back to 9 to 5 jobs with bosses. Successful freelancers keep pitching.”
#10 Bree Brouwer
Bree is a professional freelance writer, content marketer, and PR/media consultant.
“I actually landed my first freelance blogging client via a job board, which I’m pretty sure was Problogger’s. I pitched the company, a wedding venue company, using all my past experience of weddings (I’d been in one every single year since I had gotten married for about four years straight!) even though I’d never had a printed clip related to weddings or events.
My advice to newbies? Never think you need samples. As you can see, I didn’t, and my experience was all that mattered. Sure, clips are great, but sometimes we need to focus on what we know and what we’ve experienced, even if we’ve never written it down or had it published before.”
#11 Jonathan John
Jonathan John is a freelance blogger and content strategist. An avid WordPress enthusiast, he writes about content marketing, startups, entrepreneurship – and of course, good ol’ WordPress. If he’s not tinkering around in the WP admin, then you’ll probably find him writing about it.
“I got my first real client after a lot (at least ~50) of cold emails. He was an amazing client for a long time, so things worked out after all. But the reason it took so long was probably because my emails were relatively untargeted, WAY too long, and just not optimized for a response.
I would tell newbies to first check job boards to get some good clips/experience before trying to get clients through other channels. And when they do start emailing, they should learn how to write high-conversion cold emails before randomly contacting businesses as I did.”
#12 Jorden Roper
Jorden Roper is a fuchsia-haired freelance blogger, writer and the founder of Creative Revolt, where she writes no-BS advice for freelance writers and bloggers. Read her blog post How to Turn Your Freelance Writer Website into a Client-Generating Machine!
“I landed my first freelance blogging client using the ProBlogger Job Board.
He handled content marketing for an IT services company, and since my niche was B2B/IT/Tech content, he recognized me as a great fit for the project right away. If I had marketed myself as a general freelance writer instead, I doubt I’d have landed that client.
The takeaway here is to pick a niche and market yourself as an expert in that niche. That way, any potential client who lands on your site or social profiles will immediately recognize that you have the expertise necessary to get the job done right!”
#13 Sarah Dittmore
Sarah Dittmore is a freelance blogger and travel addict. Though currently living in California, she is constantly on the road and in search of her next adventure. Sarah has visited over 25 countries in an attempt to fulfill the one item on her bucket list: to see the whole world. From bungee jumping over Victoria Falls to sipping wine in Paris, Sarah’s travel experience is diverse and memorable.
“When I graduated from my undergrad program at NYU I had a handful of job offers. They were great offers; they paid well, they had benefits, they were for companies I believed in. But there was one thing I couldn’t move past: they were all in offices in New York City. I have long been a travel addict and running my travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer, is a passion I wasn’t ready to give up on. But how could I run a travel blog if I only had two weeks of vacation per year? I decided if I really wanted to follow this dream I had to give it my all. So I declined the offers, started searching for freelance blogging opportunities, and bought a plane ticket to Costa Rica.
My first client wanted me to write a few yoga blogs for them and I got the job not because of my freelance blogging experience (which was limited), but because of my yoga experience. Now I have a hefty writing resume which has allowed me to compete for more competitive clients, but at the beginning it was hard to find anyone who would take me seriously. I think when you are just starting off and you’re resume isn’t quite what you want it to be, you have to focus on what other talents you have as well. It’s fairly easy to find someone to complete a run of the mill copywriting job, but how many freelance bloggers out there also know about yoga? Think about what you are an expert in besides writing and reach out to those clients first, using them to build your resume and prove your capabilities. Once you have a strong resume and portfolio, the clients will find you.”
#14 Michelle Vroom
Michelle Vroom is a freelance blogger who works full-time as a public relations specialist in the health care industry. She started blogging several years ago when her parents split up and is working toward rebranding her blog to focus on broader topics surrounding family, marriage and career.
“I landed my first client through a referral, not through fancy marketing tactics or full-fledged social media campaigns. Marketing and social media are certainly important tools to promote your services, but don’t underestimate the power of your network. Work your network. Tell people about your business. Get them excited about what you’re doing. You never know who they’ll tell.
The other piece of advice I’d give is to do your best work for every client. Your work will speak volumes and will bring clients to your doorstep. You can launch a marketing campaign, but if your work isn’t up to par, your efforts will fall flat.”
#15 Kevin Mercadante
Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.
“I started by doing free posting on established blogs, mainly to get traffic to my own fledgling site. After a few months of that, I was approached by another blogger to be a staff writer for his site. Two more bloggers contacted me shortly after. And then some of the sites I was posting for free started paying me. It just kept rolling after that.”
#16 Anthony Dejolde
Anthony Dejolde is a freelance blogger with 18 years of experience in broadcast radio. When he’s not writing for clients, he dons his lifehack expert hat at Lifehack.org.
“I got my first gig on oDesk (now, Upwork.) When I was just starting, I spent a lot of my time hunting jobs on the site. One time while searching for freelance jobs, I got attracted to a writing gig requiring freelance bloggers to blog about art. Since I have always been interested in art, I applied, got the job and started working for the client. The gig became playtime for me. I absolutely loved it!
Here’s the sad part… the job didn’t pay the bills.
Based on this, I don’t recommend freelance bloggers who are just getting their feet wet on the blogosphere to do the same. I advise them to look elsewhere. As for me, my big break came when I got a long-term gig writing for Lifehack. A website that features all forms of life hacks readers can use to lighten their everyday life.
Working for Lifehack enabled me to build my name as a credible freelance blogger. I got significant mileage from the site when clients from different business backgrounds started noticing my work there. From that point on, I got long-term jobs with clients who hired me via the contact details that came with my byline on Lifehack.
Based on this, I strongly suggest newbie freelance bloggers to look for their own Lifehack. They look for a platform that can be utilized as a showroom where to display their best work. It’s the fastest way to build a portfolio. Moreover, from a business point of view, a platform like this is actually a free advertising platform for freelance bloggers.”
#17 Luana Spinetti
Luana Spinetti is an Italy-based freelance blogger and artist who has started her freelance career while still an Art and Computer Science student.
“My first freelance blogging client came from an Italian webmaster forum I frequented in 2008. After years of personal blogging and sponsored posts, I felt I needed a challenge. I started writing about SEO for Geek.com and I quickly grew a passion for writing guides and small tutorials. I got my first English-speaking blogging client in 2011, Bosmol.com, who also covered everything from SEO to marketing and social media guides.
If you are a newbie blogger, start by tapping your networks and the online media you frequent more often — you are likely to find your first client where you already have a good reputation. Starting locally is an even better idea, especially if you want to cover a niche where you are more likely to find experts for in your area.
Also, make sure you build a portfolio of clips from day one, even if your first clips are your own blog posts and guest posts. Your next client will want to see what kind of experience you have and how well-received your past content by the audience.”
Alexandria Gunn commonly writes under her maiden name Alexandria Ingham, as she started writing before getting married. She is a Glasgow freelance blogger, writer, and Weight Watchers leader in training. Her job is a highlight of her life, because she gets to follow her passion, especially when it comes to writing on her own blogs or creating her own eBooks. While she loves helping others become freelance writers and make money from their writing, she also loves to share updates on history and offer tips for weight loss.
“I used the bidding sites and job boards to land my first blogging client. It didn’t pay much, but was the insight into writing that I needed to know that it was possible.
My advice for new bloggers is to build samples and research companies in their chosen niche. If I could do it all again, I’d work out which niches I prefer and go direct to businesses that I know would pay my rates. Of course, my writing and financial needs have changed of the years, though.”
#19 Ellen May-Long
Ellen is a freelance writer with a passion for resurrecting your blog, reinvigorating your message and freeing you up to run your business and your life.
“I found my first freelance blogging client through old fashioned networking. I was running my own magazine at the time, and that involved reaching out to a people in the industry – business owners, authors, artists, experts and so on. I needed articles, artwork, advertisers and stockists for the magazine. It was a LOT of work, and I was extremely lucky to find so many generous and talented people who contributed their time and knowledge to help me. I’m glad I’m not doing it now, but I made a lot of great contacts (and a few good friends) and found my first freelance blogging client, too.
Newbie writers should think of ways they can network, both on and offline. An e-zine is a great idea if you have a flair for design. Or you could attend business networking events in your local area. Getting out into the real world makes all the difference. Cold pitching may work – but in the end you’re dealing with ONE real person, who may need to see the whites of your eyes before she does business with you. Make sure you’re valuable to that person. Make sure you’re reliable and that you fulfill the brief. Every. Single. Time. Take care of your current clients. They will often rehire you and recommend you to others – and that word-of-mouth recommendation is worth its weight in gold.”
#20 Elna Cain
Elna Cain is a freelance blogger, writer, and coach. She writes for Blogging Wizard, PageWiz, WPKube and more. She works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing blog writing, ghostwriting and copywriting services. Not quite sure freelance writing is for you? Why not try her totally free course, Get Paid to Write Online!
“I landed my first client from using free job boards. As a newbie, I religiously checked job boards in the morning and evening to see if there were any new job openings.
I pitched to everything and anything that I was remotely interested in or had experience with. And I received a response from one pitch I sent out and they ended up hiring me to write posts about cars – of all things. I continue to provide content for them and they’re great gig!”
#21 Jasper Oldersom
Jasper is a freelance blogger and copywriter. He helps entrepreneurs save precious time and energy by writing engaging content that readers and search engines love. He also writes web copy that converts for solopreneurs.
“I didn’t have to work hard for my first freelance blogging client. Why? Because I focused on guest posting to build a reputation. Companies regularly reached out if I would be interested in writing a guest post. At some point, I felt like I could simply ask a company they would be willing to pay for the post. With a little negotiation, they accepted my offer and they we’re happy with my writing.
My advice would be to build a reputation first. Write guest posts on reputable sites for free. If companies start reaching out to you, you’re in a good position to negotiate. They noticed what you’ve written and already know the value of great content. It’s also less frightening than cold pitching from the start.”
#22 Bill Acholla
Bill is a freelance business writer at Billacholla.com where he helps entrepreneurs and bloggers write the best content that drives traffic and generates sales for their business. He has been featured in top publications like Huffpost, Problogger and just to name a few.
“I got my first freelance client through guest blogging at Matthewwoodward.co.uk and since then my monthly recurring revenue has increased significantly.
Here’s the proof:
To be completely transparent, if a newbie wants to land their first client and get the best results from freelancing, then they need to embrace guest blogging on premium sites.
I personally tested and it worked for me.”
There you have it, 22 stories to inspire you.
How did you find your first freelance blogging client? Share your experience with us in the comments!