If you’ve read my book “Mastering the Business of Writing” you know I spend a lot of time there talking about setting goals. I recommend promising yourself you’ll get X number of new clients (or new assignments) each month to reach your goal of Y.
One of the chief objections/challenges I hear from my business writing coaching clients comes at the very beginning of the process. It takes a many different forms.
- How do I start?
- Where do I find that first client?
- What must I do to get the new client?
- How do I meet new people?
No matter how they phrase it, a lot of new writers aren’t sure where to find a first business client. Here’s my nearly foolproof, 100% guaranteed to probably work, method for getting yourself three new clients by this time next month. Ready?
Step One: Join the Chamber of Commerce
Your town has one. It’s a meeting place for local business owners. People with small businesses who live near you. People who need a blog, but don’t have time to do the writing.
Step Two: Offer to Teach a Class on Blogging for Business
You know how to write. If you don’t already know how to blog for business, spend this week learning. The basics aren’t hard, and I guaran-damn-tee you already know more about it than the people at your local Chamber.
Step Three: Build an Awesome Presentation
It should describe why blogging and good writing helps business grow, and give five or six tips to help a business owner do it herself. At the end, include one minute about how — if they’re not sure they can do it alone — writing is what you do. If you’re not sure how to make this presentation, shoot me a line. I’ll be happy to help you.
Step Four: Practice the Hell Out of It
Practice the presentation until you catch yourself doing it in your sleep. Work on timing, gestures, different tones and pitches of voice. Practice in a car wash and at a movie to work on dealing with distractions. Master your talk.
Step Five: Give the Talk
Be excellent. Show how much you know and how great you are at presenting ideas. Arrive early and make sure all your tech is working. At the end, stick around to answer questions. Cement yourself in the minds of everybody attending that you are the writing resource in your community.
Step Six: Stalk Your Prey
Identify the five or six most likely clients out of the people who give you business cards at your talk. Touch base with them that week and find out how you can help them. Offer to analyze their existing web presence and show how you’ll improve it. Then collect the payments for your first business writing clients.
Some Chambers of Commerce have a class list scheduled a few months in advance, so you might have to wait to pull the trigger on this. That doesn’t mean you should wait to start your life as a freelance writer. Look for meetups, small business advocacy groups, community centers…anywhere that would host and help you promote a class. Use this model over and over again to establish yourself. Once you wow those first clients, their word of mouth will bring in even more business.
Trust me. This kind of thing is why I haven’t had to get a real job since 2008.