Many new freelance writers go about things the traditional way. They make LinkedIn profiles; they may even make other social media accounts. Then they do a lot of self-promotion there, which is smart, and check all the third-party job sites.
Freelance writers also frequently update their resumes on CareerBuilder and apply for jobs. They try to make as many connections as possible on LinkedIn. In short, they do all of the things that you think you should do.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these methods. They can lead to new contacts and possibly great contracts. Sometimes though, no matter how diligent you are, it seems as though you’re spinning your wheels. No one is calling, and emails that you get are for great jobs that would require you to move to another coast.
If you don’t want to pack up and head for the east or west coast, there is another alternative. You could land something great and stay right where you are instead of wondering if you should have a garage sale before you move.
However, there is a wealth of untapped writing opportunity right in your own backyard. Well, a few blocks down the road from you at least. That opportunity is small to medium sized local businesses.
Why not go after big businesses and chain corporations? The answer to that is simple. Companies the size of McDonald’s have entire departments devoted to their social media and advertising writing, and few of those corporate offices are local.
By contrast, a small business with fewer than 100 employees is probably not going to be able to outsource on that scale. Yet they could certainly use some advertising help. That’s where you come in. Try these tips if you’d like to drum up some business in your own neighborhood.
Identify Potential Clients
Take a drive around your extended neighborhood. About 30 minutes in each direction should do. You’re looking for local, independently owned businesses. They can be restaurants, clothing stores, or beauty salons.
As long as they are not part of a large chain, and have a small number of employees, they have potential. Write down the name of the business. Try to get 25 to start with.
Research and Review
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great way to start learning about local businesses. Find out how many employees they have, their service listing, and a wealth of other information. Visit the business’s website. They should at least have a website. Learn everything you can from it and try to identify some things that could be better.
For example, do they have some good homepage writing but you spot three or four typos? In addition, don’t forget social media. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus. Take lots of notes on ways that you, a writer, could help bring in more business.
This part gets difficult for many writers. You either need to phone or email whoever is the owner or CEO of the business. Briefly explain that you are a writer and give them a few of your best credentials. Tell them that you are looking to help local businesses increase their customers, and that you think you could help them with that.
Ask if you could either come in for a 15-minute meeting or send them some information by email. If they say yes, make sure you know as much as you can inside and out about the business before you make a proposal.
Put together examples and a plan, either as a PowerPoint presentation, a written plan, or both. Back everything up you can with statistics. Ask previous clients if they would be willing to be references, or give you something in writing about your performance for them.
Just like any other job opportunity, some clients will say no thank you. You will have to determine a reasonable rate, and some clients may not have the money to afford you. Others may have in-house talent. If you try 10 businesses and nothing works out, try 10 more. As I’ve said before, getting a freelance writing job is a numbers game. You have to keep playing to win.