Three months and 17 e-mails.
That’s how much effort it took to get my first blogging client. I know it sounds a smidge ridiculous, but it was a worthy and important lesson in patience and persistence.
You know what the waiting’s like. Some days you can’t get it off your mind. Others, you forget about it and move on. It’s just like the wait after you send out a traditional job application: hearing little or nothing is the torturous part.
Here’s how it went down, and the lessons I learned along the way.
The job was posted around Thanksgiving on the ProBlogger job board, and it sounded perfect. It was a very descriptive ad, and the company sounded interesting and willing to work with (and pay the right rate for) a good writer.
Lesson #1: Find a blogging client in an industry you know and love
If you’re just starting out, the best way to stay motivated when querying and working for a client is excitement.
I presented that in my application as what made me stand out.
I wasn’t just a writer looking for a paycheck. I loved the client’s business model and industry, so I would be just as excited as them about using blogging to grow the business.
Enthusiasm is also an important factor once you land the client. If the topic doesn’t interest you, you’ll find a million reasons to procrastinate and, unfortunately, not turn in your best work.
The exact name of the company wasn’t clear from their ad on ProBlogger. So I searched online using some keywords and abbreviations from the job posting to find the exact company. That might seem like a lot of work, but it actually benefitted me.
The important thing to remember is that you are in control of your destiny. Don’t allow the game of e-mail tag or the long wait to deter you. If you have the expertise and the drive to write on a certain topic, always try for the gig.
Lesson #2: Do your due diligence when looking at a potential client
You always get that sort of advice before a job interview, and this isn’t any different. Find out whatever you can about the company, preferably before you query.
I messed up and researched after I’d already sent my application email, so I did something a little unorthodox: I emailed them again after looking at their site, blog and social media presence. In that second email, I gave them a few ideas as to how I could contribute to the blog.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t have done this, but I mentioned in my second email that I wasn’t sure what the name of the company was. It was this message that piqued their interest and got a reply. I was pleased as punch with myself and replied back immediately.
Of course, it was the holidays, so it gets kind of crazy, but I expected to hear something from them. I even emailed them again to say I would be in their area and could meet with them in person.
To no avail. At one point, I got a “we’re interested, but not ready” reply but that was all.
This is the point where you have to turn stalker. If you really want the gig, keep track of your client’s new media movements. Use the downtime between email replies to check out everything they do.
See how often they post on social media channels. Also, look at the quality of their posts, particularly if they already have a blog. Do you see any needed changes? Jot those down and save your notes. When they do get back to you, you’ll already have a ton of ideas and suggestions for them.
Lesson #3: Don’t be annoying. But don’t give up.
There were so many times I wanted to call or email this potential client again, but didn’t. I usually emailed once every couple of weeks, keeping my messages ultra-brief and still conveying enthusiasm.
Admittedly, I wanted to scratch them off my list entirely. Were they serious? Had I wasted my excitement on a lost cause? It was frustrating at times.
Waiting is the toughest part for you, for me, for any freelancer. But you know, things happen and your prospects can’t always give you an instant decision. Try not to think negatively about the situation. Keep querying others and press on.
If they get back to you and say, “Hey, sorry. We’ve been busy,” congratulate them! And congratulate yourself that you’ve found a client who’s doing well enough to be busy. Take that as a positive in your favor.
I finally heard from them a few weeks ago. They were ready to select a blogger. They asked for my rates, which I’d told them in my very first email.
Lesson #4: Don’t budge on your rates
I know you want to be “the best deal in town”, but the deal isn’t only about your rates. Focus on being the best blogger you can be to attract the right clients.
When I didn’t hear from this potential client, I assumed that my rates knocked me out of the running. After such a long wait, I resigned myself to that fate. Then, out of the blue, I got an assignment from them!
If you’re new to the game like I am, it’s so tempting to ask for less than you’re worth. After all, you’re not sure how well you’re going to do yet. Though you want to equate the quality of your work with your rates, that’s not easy without experience.
But don’t obsess about it. Think about how much time and effort you will put into this blog. Think about the expenses you’re covering with the payment you receive, and calculate how much you need to charge to make a living. Then get down to the business of writing well for your client.
Today, I’m still a little shocked. I’m excited and nervous and hoping to prove I am as great as I’ve purported since 2012! And now, if I don’t hear from them in a while, I don’t fret.
I truly hope your assignments don’t take as long to arrive as mine did. But once you’ve begun the process, remember this story. Don’t give up until you see they’ve hired someone. I hope that blogger is you!
How did you get your first blogging client? What lessons can you share that will help someone starting out? Let me know in the comments.