When you have a freelance writing business, the best way to create a stable income is to have clients who need recurring work.
For example, when you have a regular roster of clients who need blogging, emails, etc., then you spend more time writing — and thus making money — and less time marketing.
One of the best places to find such clients is on LinkedIn. After all, the popular social media network has 310 million active users and all of them have a business focus.
In fact, according to Omnicore, “LinkedIn is the #1 channel B2B marketers use to distribute content at 94%.”
It also has an easy-to-search database.
Yet, for all its usefulness, it’s still under-used by many. In this post, I’ll share my three-pronged approach to using LinkedIn to find new clients and hopefully spark your imagination.
It’s worth noting that before you start with these, you’ll want to make sure your profile is complete and well-written. You can find out more about how to create a great profile here.
After all, you want to make a good first impression. With that out of the way, here’s my approach.
Here are three ways I use LinkedIn (almost) daily:
- Connect with Prospects
- Quick Business Assessment
- Post Content
There’s even a job board which can be handy for seeing who’s hiring.
Years ago, I connected with everyone I met via LinkedIn. As a result, my connections are varied, and those early connections have nothing to do with my target market now.
These days, I’m more strategic and I recommend the same for you. That way, you’ll waste less time and be more focused in your marketing efforts.
By being strategic, I mean choosing an industry (or two) and knowing what you’re going to offer (long-form blog content vs. everything). That gives you a place to start.
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to focus on blog content for fundraising software companies. Great! You have a focus.
Next, you’ll want to find some prospects.
Since you’ve narrowed down your target prospect to fundraising software companies who use blogging (this example), you’re well-positioned to do a Quick Business Assessment on them.
Why? Because it’s helpful if you can quickly size up a company and see if they could be a good fit for you.
The How-Tos of the Quick Business Assessment
LinkedIn is a great starting point. There’s a search bar at the top where you can type in your keyword topic. In this case, it’s “fundraising software.” You’ll get a drop-down menu with some companies listed. Beside the company names, you might see the words, “company,” “group,” or “showcase.” You want ones that say “company.”
Click on one of the companies and then the “About.” That’s where you’ll find a short description about the company including where they’re based and how many people work there.
From experience, I’ve learned that most tiny businesses (1-10 people) don’t have the budget or marketing strategy for freelance writers. So, one of the things I look for is company size. I tend to look for ones with 50-200 employees. They’re not so giant you get lost, but not so tiny they don’t know what to do with you.
Next, you can click on “People” and see if you’re already connected to anyone working there. You can also type “marketing” into the people search bar to narrow it down.
If you take 15 minutes and do this, you’ll probably come up with at least 8 or 10 companies you have at least a tiny bit of interest in.
Next, visit their website. If you want to sell email writing services, then look to see if they look like they’re building an email list. And subscribe so you’ll know what they’re doing. Want to write blog content? Look for companies with active blogs.
That way, when you connect on LinkedIn, you can bring it up in a way that seems natural.
That’s what I did with one of my clients. I wanted to expand my network with pet marketers and connected with a Director of Marketing. We had a quick and friendly conversation through LinkedIn and I mentioned, “I know you have an active blog, but if you ever need another writer, I’d love to chat.” Her response was, “We do need another writer because our current writer left. Can you send samples?” I ended up writing for them for months.
It’s About Being Helpful — Not Salesy
There are a lot of companies who do need writing help. The problem is, they don’t have a regular writer or two to call on and they’re busy with their regular jobs. So, if you show up at the right time with the right skill set, you can find yourself with a new client.
When you send a connection request, LinkedIn gives you 300 characters. It’s not a lot of space so you want to keep it brief. I usually say something like, “Hi, We have xyz mutual connections and are both in the content marketing space. I write for fundraising software companies. Love to connect.”
It’s simple and gives a “reason why” it could make sense to connect. It’s not salesy nor fancy. Once we connect, I usually respond with “Thanks, look forward to getting to know you.”
If I’m really interested in the company and find they’ve won a recent award, then I might congratulate them. I try to keep it low-key and friendly.
Then, I send them relevant looking articles periodically. Or, if I see them in the business news, I reach out with a message.
Show Off Your Writing Skills
The third part of my LinkedIn approach is posting my own content three to four times a week. It builds visibility and boosts engagement with people in my network and their connections. Sometimes I post a copywriting tip, other times it’s a link to something I wrote, or other industry news.
Periodically, I update my profile with new samples and peruse the LinkedIn job board.
As you can see, there’s a lot of opportunity with the most business-focused social media platform. How do you use it to find clients?