A Two-Month Report on My Search for New Freelance Writing Clients — A New Client, New Prospects, and a New Attitude
I’m happy to report — very happy — that my freelance writing career is starting to recover from my five-year “sabbatical.”
Two weeks ago I landed my first client, and I’ve been writing content for the company ever since. I’m thrilled to be working again, and thrilled to be past the brutal “where’s my next client coming from?” phase.
It’s amazing how easy it is to fall into despair when you have no work and limited results from your cold calling efforts.
Day by day, from January 7th onward, I made my cold calls and generated a list of “hot prospects,” but none hot enough to give me an assignment. I also heard a lot of “no’s” and “maybe’s.”
Then on February 12th, I made a call that changed everything. When I called the company, I reached the VP of Marketing.
I asked him the usual question: “I’m a freelance marketing writer. Is this a service you need?”
“Yes, it is,” he declared.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, surprised not to hear the usual comments like: “maybe,” what exactly do you do?,” and “send me information for my file.”
He laughed at my surprise. “You won’t believe this, but I was just talking to someone about how we need a writer to help create all of the new content we want.”
Getting such an enthusiastic response was certainly a first for me. But then the sometimes-wacky world of freelancing is filled with interesting twists and turns.
We arranged for me to send him information about my writing services, and to meet the next week.
After talking to him and the marketing director, I left his office with a request for a project bid.
After a couple of weeks of negotiation, I received a sign contract from my first new client in five years! I was walking on air.
How I Got From There to Here
Now that I’ve told you the great news, I’ll give you the rundown of my cold calling experience.
I started cold calling to find new clients in early December, but it took me a few weeks to get up to speed. Then the holidays got in the way.
So I resumed calling on January 7th. With a renewed urgency to find work, I quickly shed the “cold call jitters,” hit my stride, and entered into the zone.
Very quickly, I abandoned my original prospect tracking system, Salesforce. I found it way too clunky and not at all useful.
Based on a recommendation of someone on LinkedIn, I set up an Excel spreadsheet to track the companies I was calling.
Each company entry included the phone number, the contact person (as soon as I found out who they were), and notes about any contact I made with the company.
Of course, I added the contact’s email address as soon as they provided me with that information.
Today my contact list includes 333 companies, and I still have a couple hundred to add. Of the 333, here is the current status of my list:
- 51 No’s – These are companies who said they do not need a freelance writer.
- 29 Maybe’s – These are companies who said to send me information “for their files.”
- 36 Hot Prospects – These are companies who said they might need my services.
- 114 Mysteries – These are impenetrable companies, so far (most with only answering machines).
- 103 Cold Prospects – These are companies where I’m still trying to reach the key contact.
I’m also happy to report that I made a few great contacts at a couple of networking events I attended.
At one of the events, which was a one-day workshop for marketing people, two people approached me about my services.
It was so great not to be the one have to sell myself for a change.
Where I Go From Here — My Primary Goal
As I’ve mentioned before, one client does not make a full-time freelance career.
Now I have one client — but I need more. Way more!
This time around I am doing things differently. The main difference is this time I will never stop looking for clients.
I knew this was a smart strategy from the beginning of my career many years ago. But knowing it and doing it are two different things.
It just so easy to get comfortable when the work is flowing from one or a few clients. But now I know how painful it is to start from scratch. I never want to be in that position again in my career.
So from now on, I’ll make cold calling, networking, and using social media a regular part of my life.
My main goal is a steady flow of clients for here on out.
I have finally learned my lesson!
What do you think about my progress and plans?
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