When I started out as a freelance writer, I was pretty skeptical about using social media to find clients.
I mean, I knew social media could probably help me find the occasional odd job, but I had no clue how to make the most of it.
I was basically just using it to find interesting shit to read and share an obnoxious amount of photos of my dogs.
But then, I realized something:
I market to businesspeople, and LinkedIn is FULL of businesspeople. There has to be a way I can use it to find freelance writing work!
Turns out, I was right.
Now, I get more website traffic and freelance writing clients from LinkedIn than from any other social media site.
So today, I want to share the exact method I used to get clients from LinkedIn as a newbie freelance writer with no connections and no college degree.
That way, you can turn your LinkedIn profile into a client-generating machine too. That’s right — use LinkedIn the right way, and you’ll get to the point where you won’t even have to pitch tons of potential clients. They’ll be the ones reaching out to you (AWW yeah!).
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Fill out your profile in a way that’ll have your ideal clients dying to work with you.
Know what’s really upsetting?
The fact that so many writers are fucking AWESOME at what they do but miss out on paid writing opportunities because they don’t know how to sell their services.
And I’m here to tell you today that a LinkedIn summary written like this wouldn’t sell writing services to the most desperate client on the planet:
“I am a highly motivated and skilled freelance writer who creates content for B2B and B2C businesses.”
Does your LinkedIn summary look similar to that?
If so, don’t sweat it – we all start somewhere. At the beginning of my career, my LinkedIn profile was about as appealing as the thought of jumping into a pile of barbed wire (ouch).
But it’s time for you to make some changes that will have clients reaching out to you like crazy (because you deserve that!).
So, let’s talk about those changes. Here’s why the LinkedIn summary example above doesn’t work and what you can do to fix it:
— Words like “motivated” and “skilled” don’t mean anything. The thing about a generic adjective like “skilled” is that any random writer can use it, even if it’s not true. So, those kinds of adjectives are pretty much meaningless to potential clients. If you’re truly “skilled,” then show proof that you’re skilled – don’t just say it.
— You haven’t stated a niche. Okay… so you kinda stated a niche when you said “B2B and B2C.” But wait… isn’t that pretty much every single business ever? If you’re starting out, I suggest going very niche. For example, when I started out, I didn’t just specialize in B2B content – I specialized in writing content for IT service providers. Having that small, weird niche helped me land more clients than I’d have ever been able to otherwise because it positioned me as the go-to person for IT content.
— You aren’t telling the client why they should be DYING to work with you (and pay you well!). Put yourself in a client’s shoes, and think about their goals and pain points. How can you help them overcome their challenges and reach their goals with your freelance writing services?
Make sure you include keywords in your profile and headline too. Think of LinkedIn like a search engine potential clients use to find writers. What are they typing in the search box when they look for a writer like you? Use your answer to guide your decisions about the key words you use.
And if you only take one thing away from this entire blog post, let it be this:
If you write your summary like a resume, clients will treat you like their employee. If you write it like an expert business owner, they’ll treat you like an expert business owner.
That goes for your freelance writer website too. The extra effort you put into positioning yourself in an enticing way will make all the difference for your business.
Step #2: Start adding potential clients and interacting with them.
When I say “potential clients,” I don’t mean every single content marketing manager ever. I mean potential clients who are likely to hire you based on your niche.
For example, let’s say you specialize in writing B2B blog content for IT service providers (I’m using this example because I used to specialize in B2B/tech content and the strategies in this post worked for me!).
You’d want to start researching IT service providers and finding the people at those companies in charge of content marketing, like:
— Marketing managers
— Content marketing managers
— Head copywriters
You get the picture.
Now, it’s important that you’ve optimized your profile before you start connecting with ideal clients. When those clients check out your profile, they should be able to tell right away that you specialize in their industry.
And BOOM – just like that, you’re on a potential client’s radar as a writer who knows their shit.
From there, you can start interacting with their posts by liking, commenting, or sharing. The point of all this is to build a relationship with the potential client and stay on their radar. That way, you’re the first person who comes to mind next time they need a writer.
A word of warning:
Don’t be spammy when you’re adding connections. Personalize each message, and avoid pitching right away (because no one likes to feel like they’re being sold to!).
Step #3: Use LinkedIn Publisher to establish your authority.
Once you’ve added your potential clients as connections, you can start publishing posts there that make them want to work with you.
Not sure what I mean?
Let me show you a couple of the posts I published to LinkedIn after I added some of the IT service providers I wanted to work with:
Now, first of all, let’s look at the seemingly shitty results I got from those posts. Very few views, likes, or comments.
But guess what?
The few people who did interact with my posts are the ones who mattered.
Several people reached out to me after seeing me show my IT marketing expertise in these posts.
By writing about content marketing specifically for IT service providers, I established my authority on that topic, and I knew that anyone who read the post was likely interested in improving their content marketing.
In other words, they were interested in hiring someone like me.
So, think about who your ideal client is and how you can show off your expertise in a LinkedIn post.
And, most importantly, write a persuasive, specific headline. For example, if you write blog content for realtors, write a post called “X Ways Realtors Can Use Blog Content To Win More Business” or something along those lines. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for you to attract new clients.
Now, some of you are probably thinking this:
Heeeeeellll no. I’m not going to do this because it means I have to write for free.
I kinda don’t blame you. If you’re already swamped with high-paying client work, you might not want to use this strategy.
But at the same time, if you really need clients, how else are you going to spend your time? Digging through Craigslist and Upwork for clients who pay $1 for 1000 words?
Plus, you can publish the original post to your blog on your freelance writer website first. Then, repost it using LinkedIn publisher and include a link to your site at the top, like this:
That way, you can drive traffic back to your site and keep your blog updated with fresh content for your target clients.
Step #4: Start reaching out to your ideal clients.
After you’ve built a presence on LinkedIn (even a small presence!), it’s time to start sending out pitches.
The key to making this work is to send pitches to people you’ve already connected with in some way.
For example, if someone liked your blog post or viewed your profile and you’ve interacted with them a bit, it’s okay to reach out.
Here’s an actual example of an InMail message I sent a potential client when I started out:
Now, this definitely isn’t a perfect pitch. I was still a newbie when I sent it. (Aw, cute.)
But guess what?
So, don’t be afraid to send some pitches, even if you’re not feeling 100% sure of yourself. As long as you’ve connected with the potential client in some way, they should at least be receptive to your message. Even if they don’t hire you right away, there’s a good chance they’ll keep you in mind for later or reach out to you with a referral at some point.
One more thing. When you’re using LinkedIn to land freelance writing clients, always remember:
It’s not okay to reach out to someone you added as a connection 5 seconds ago. You might be tempted to see if you can make a quick sale, but you’ll only end up annoying your potential client and hurting your reputation. Not worth it.
Step #5: Use LinkedIn Groups to your advantage.
Here are 2 types of groups I suggest joining and participating in:
— LinkedIn groups full of your target clients.
Don’t start spamming the group with your content and sales pitches. Instead, show your value and expertise by responding to their questions about content marketing (or whatever it is you do). If you do this consistently, there’s a good chance that you’ll get people reaching out to you who are interested in hiring you because of how you’ve already shown that you’re a helpful expert.
— LinkedIn groups full of other writers.
Not only is this an awesome way to meet new people and feel less alone when you’re working from home as a freelancer – it’s a great way to land referrals from other writers who have work they need to outsource.
And that, my friend, is all there is to it.
Seriously. I don’t put that much effort into my LinkedIn marketing anymore because my profile does a pretty good job of enticing potential clients to reach out to me. These days, I just share my relevant bylined blog posts and interact with potential clients on occasion.
It takes a while to get to that point, but it’s well worth the time and effort — trust me.
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