It’s All in Who You Know: How to Network for More Freelance Writing Work
Hustle is the name of the game in freelance writing. No gig is guaranteed. As clients come and go, it’s crucial that you seek new opportunities. Like it or not, this is best achieved via networking.
The cliche about what you know versus who you know definitely applies in the fast-paced world of freelancing. A strong network offers no guarantees of success, but it does increase your likelihood of landing dream clients and prestigious writing opportunities while building your writing career. Building such a network can seem challenging when you complete the majority of your work from afar — but it’s by no means impossible.
Why Is Networking Important For Freelance Writers?
There’s no escaping the need for networking. Its importance is well-understood in the 9-to-5 work world, where the water cooler cliche holds merit. When departing this office environment, however, many aspiring freelancers hope they’ll leave all the small talk behind.
Unfortunately for reluctant types, the importance of active networking actually increases upon departing the traditional work world. Success as a freelancer relies largely on the ability to score new clients and opportunities. While new freelance work can be found through job boards and even conventional applications, quality contacts streamline the process of finding freelance jobs, giving freelancers more time for their primary pursuit: writing.
A broad network can expose freelance writers to exciting opportunities they would otherwise never learn about. Every additional contact provides the possibility for new leads, which, under other circumstances, might take ages to stumble upon.
More importantly, networking improves your status and influence as a freelancing professional. Results from a notable LinkedIn survey verify that professionals are far more likely to land work when they know contacts within their intended company prior to applying. This concept also applies to freelance work; while many clients will happily seek out new talent, others prefer the familiarity of existing contacts.
Networking might seem like a lot of effort, but it actually streamlines the process of finding new writing projects. After all, one strong contact can provide a variety of exciting job opportunities. Often, a single message is all it takes to secure access to an amazing new client. The opportunity to land such clients with minimal effort should be particularly enticing if you’re pursuing part-time freelancing, as you’ll have limited time available to apply for writing gigs.
How to Leverage Your Social Network to Secure Freelance Writing Jobs
New contacts are valuable, of course, but your current network may prove even more influential. Think of this as the basis of all networking efforts to follow.
To begin, examine your current social media presence. Who follows you? Who engages regularly with the content you post?
Determine who, among these individuals, is most likely to provide the connections you need to land your next writing gig.
You’ll find the most luck with:
Small Business Owners
Busy entrepreneurs lack time for developing quality content — but they can certainly benefit from the marketing boost that effective content provides. Reach out to let them know how you can help. They may prefer hiring a freelance writer within their existing network to the time-consuming prospect of vetting unknown individuals for full-time work.
Former Bosses or Coworkers
If your network primarily consists of professionals you’ve never met in person, you’ll want to extract as much value as possible for those with whom you’ve connected in the real world. Former employers and coworkers can serve as valuable references, attesting to your work ethic — and other qualities that might not immediately be evident in your writing samples. These contacts could also connect you with additional business owners, content strategists, and other professionals seeking skilled writers for freelance gigs.
Job recruiters increasingly look to social media as a means of connecting with talented professionals for contract work and short-term gigs. Connect with recruiters who specialize in matching businesses with professional freelance creatives. Even those who appear to focus on conventional full-time jobs may provide valuable leads for freelance opportunities.
Content Strategists or Directors
In an effort to build strong content teams, strategists often seek freelancers based on skillset — not location. If the writing style and experience you highlight through social media fit their content goals, you should have no trouble landing work. Better yet: seek out marketing directors or other management types who hold considerable sway over hiring decisions.
Top Social Networking Platforms for Freelancers
Don’t hesitate to use the full array of social networks available. You might be surprised at the extent to which unexpected platforms can send business your way.
Here are just a few of the best social platforms for networking opportunities along with networking tips to help you get the most out of each platform:
A natural source of business, LinkedIn should be your go-to for scoring freelance writing jobs. To amp up your LinkedIn presence and attract the attention of writing clients, try these tactics:
- Optimize your digital resume. It should highlight your academic and professional background, including previous positions related to your writing niche. For example, highlighted experience as a paralegal may prove helpful if you’re looking to break into legal writing.
- Build a LinkedIn portfolio of samples to attributed work published on the web. This will help potential clients get a feel for your writing style.
- Seek endorsements to serve as testimonials that verify your skills as a content writer. Start by listing relevant skills, such as content marketing, blogging, SEO, or social media. Provide endorsements for your existing contacts to increase your likelihood of receiving them in return.
From groups to events, Facebook provides a variety of avenues for connecting with potential clients. Groups represent a valuable first step in that many are specifically designed for the purpose of business networking. Get involved in conversations, where you may find promising leads for new clients or copywriting jobs.
Beyond joining relevant groups, many freelancers build targeted professional pages separate from their personal accounts. This approach can prove helpful, but your personal network could also provide an array of exciting opportunities worth exploring. Don’t hesitate to message Facebook friends who can benefit from your writing expertise or introduce you to someone else who may need writing services.
An ideal platform for promoting your published work, Twitter also encourages you to connect with contacts in a meaningful way. Build your follow list to include industry authorities, who can send valuable leads in your direction. From there, engage by posting or responding to relevant questions. Don’t hesitate to make the most of hashtags, which keep you involved in important conversations even if they’re not viewed in real-time.
You may be surprised to discover that Instagram can round out a successful networking strategy for growing your freelance career. The real people behind your favorite accounts often struggle to come up with captions and other written content for this popular platform. Influencers and bloggers, in particular, can be a great source of business. Take advantage of comments and direct messages as you build your Instagram network to grow your freelance writing career.
Other Networking Options
While social media holds clear value for freelancers who primarily work on a remote basis, it is by no means the only viable networking method. Many freelancers also rely on old-school approaches such as email or even face-to-face interactions to find more freelance writing gigs.
Don’t discount the power of cold emails to attract attention from prospective clients. Scan your contact list to determine who might respond if you reach out.
Cold email pitches should be directed at those with significant influence over hiring, but your existing contacts can act as references or make introductions. If necessary, seek points of contact on LinkedIn — and follow up via email.
Despite the often remote nature of freelance writing, there’s a lot to love about working with local businesses. Some entrepreneurs prefer to hire writers who understand the local market. Others are simply more comfortable seeking content from copywriters they’ve met face-to-face.
In-person interactions allow you to build a strong rapport as you connect with clients, editors, and fellow writers. From gatherings related to your writing niche to marketing conferences, a variety of events can help you build your local network — and you just might have fun along the way.
As you attend networking events, don’t forget to print and hand out business cards. A symbol of authority, well-crafted cards imply professionalism. They also provide a tangible reminder that may prove more effective than a simple follow on social media. Be sure to include your freelance writing business website, email address, and social media accounts on the card in case the contact would rather follow up online.
What If I Hate Networking?
Unfortunately, networking isn’t optional — even if you are the best writer with supreme writing skills and the best story ideas. Believe it or not, you already engage in this essential practice on a regular basis. Every time you reach out to a prospective client or chat with a fellow freelancer, you’re networking. Still, you can benefit from taking on a strategic approach to streamline the process and secure a better response.
Without a comprehensive network, you’ll fight for every job. While networking seems time-consuming, any small amount of effort you place into building connections can optimize the process of seeking and landing writing jobs. With a well-rounded network, you can spend less time hunting for work and more time writing.
If you dread networking, aim at least for the bare minimum to enhance your digital presence. This means completing your profile on all relevant platforms and updating these pages with new samples or professional endeavors as they become available. (Think digital marketing strategies but for your freelance writing business.)
It’s perfectly acceptable to hate social media while still making the most of it as a marketing tool. Think of top platforms as a means to an end: a freelancing career that allows you to pursue your passion as you see fit.
You may also want to create a professional freelance portfolio site so that you have somewhere to send your new contacts if they are interested in your work. This doesn’t require web design skills as a simple WordPress site will do just fine for most freelance writers.
In the end, networking is what you make of it. Instead of viewing this essential process as a burden, frame it as an opportunity to land new freelance gigs with minimal effort. You’ll come away with great clients, exciting jobs, and a new sense of possibility.
Stephanie G.‘s writing experience covers a vast array of topics and industries. Specialties include legal, entertainment, lifestyle, marketing, and automotive writing. A regular contributor for SheKnows Entertainment, Stephanie covers trending news, creates entertaining recaps, and interviews today’s hottest reality stars.
Like most Minnesotans, Stephanie takes pride in her hometown. She regularly creates content about her home state; her articles for Twin Cities NewsCastic and other local sites have generated hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets.