How I Got My First Freelance Writing Client and Why You Should Follow

finding-freelance-writing-clientsFor any freelance writer just starting his journey, the biggest question is where to find his first client. There seem to be so many websites and platforms where you can just go and apply for writing jobs. But there’s a common problem with these websites………You just don’t get any responses!

So when I first started looking for freelance writing gigs, I had a pretty frustrating time of it. There was literally no website that I hadn’t tried. But there was just no response! And even when there was a reply, it would usually be a polite rejection email.

Are these freelance job websites any good?

I am still a member at Elance and Freelancer but, to be honest, I’ve never found a single client from these websites!

I won’t say they’re useless because there are thousands of people out there who are making good money through these portals. But my experience has been disappointing so far.

There’s another reason why I lost interest in all such job portals. The more I explored these freelancing portals the more I realized that almost all the writing jobs over there were listed either by content agencies or middlemen who were offering pennies for our hard work. There’s no way you can make a full time living with the sort of rates they’e offering out there. In fact, I even felt humiliated reading some of the jobs posted there.

We’re no beggars for god’s sake! We’re professional writers who are bringing direct traffic to your website through our content. We’re building the face of your brand online. Show some respect!

The Strategy that Worked for Me!

Through all this job searching, I realized that the only way to demand higher rates and make a living out of freelance writing is to get in direct contact with the end user, the original client and not any middleman.

With that in mind, I devised a simple 2 step strategy.

direct emailing for freelance writing1. I started listing down companies, through Google search, that I believed could use a content makeover for their websites or blogs. This included different application development websites, corporate and business websites, social media plugin websites (hint: search “get free social media likes”) and any other online or offline business that had a website that I believed could be improved.

I also had a good look at the Pro Blogger Job board, which I later found very useful in finding jobs as well, and studied the type of companies that were posting jobs over there.

Once I had a decent list of companies with me, I drafted an email that included my brief introduction and a few points on how I believed the content of that particular website could be improved. Since the problems with most websites were similar, therefore I wrote a generalized email with carefully designed statements that would fit most scenarios.

I also included a link to my blog and a few guest posts that I had written previously. Emails sent and that’s it!

2. The second phase of my strategy was even simpler. Being an absolute novice, I search through the internet for a list of leading bloggers and writers. Fortunately, I came across this post by Tom Ewer of Tom listed 100 top blogs from the closely related SEO, internet marketing, entrepreneurship and make money online niches.

My task was made so much simpler!

I picked out the blogs from the internet marketing and blogging niches, and sent emails to each of them about my writing skills and a polite inquiry about any writing project that they wanted to outsource.

rocket science?….nah!

Did it work?

Yes it did!…….

I got around 5-6 responses from the emails that I sent directly to different websites. Some of them weren’t so friendly, but a couple of them asked for the type of articles I could write and my per article rates.

The email responses alone were exciting enough for me but I was nervous about the rates to quote, since that was my first time.

Things just got better!

The same day I got an email from one the bloggers I had contacted. The guy was impressed by the guest posts I shared with him in my email and wanted me to write for him.

But do you know the best part about it?….he offered me $100 per post!

For a newbie, frustrated by the embarrassingly low rates on freelancing job portals, this was an absolute dream come true.

I, obviously, accepted this offer and after an exchange of around 5-6 emails I had my first article assignment!

What happened to that other email

Oh yea I forgot!

I replied to both the companies who wanted to know my article rates. Having no idea what rates I should quote, I asked for $50 per 1000 words.

They never replied!

But the strategy didn’t fail. I kept on approaching companies in the same manner and finally managed to cut a deal with a social media marketing company that wanted short articles every week.

I was off and running with two sources of freelance income.

Should I sum it up for you?

I think I should……

Don’t waste your time on freelancing job portals. Approach companies directly through their websites and you’ll have a much better chance of getting projects with high rates…it really works!

Again, I’m not saying that all job websites are absolute crap…no. But this is unfortunately what I’ve experienced with Elance and Freelancer.

And as I said earlier as well, I did find Problogger Job Board very useful in finding work. So its all about trying your luck with every possible source I guess. As a newbie, you have nothing to lose anyway.

What’s your story?

How did you come across your first client….I’d love to hear your story in the comments section!

15 thoughts on “How I Got My First Freelance Writing Client and Why You Should Follow

  1. Anneke

    Hi Jawad

    Thank you for sharing this post! It gives me some hope that high paying clients are still out there. I am happy with the clients I have a the moment but I really feel the need to progress in my writing and career.

    Have you managed to find more long term clients? I usually use job boards for my job search and I’ve contacted sites directly as well. I might be a bit eager, but I want to grow as fast as possible.


    1. Jawad Khan Post author

      Hi Anneke,

      Thanks for the comment.

      High paying clients are certainly out there. You just need to be patient and persistent.

      I have personally found the direct emailing method as the most effective. And yes, I have found long term clients through it as well.

      You just need to make sure that you give yourself as many chances as possible to get noticed and approached. Commenting, emailing and applying on job boards along with regular updates on your blog. Thats the formula that worked for me.

      Good luck!

  2. Anneke

    Hi Jawad

    Thank you for your reply! I will definitely take your advice and I’m sure that with a little more discipline and determination I will find some great clients in no time.

    Have a good day.


  3. Carrie Black

    I was actually one of the freelance writers of some websites, however some of my clients got closed down, got their websites down, of which some had reasons that it was out of legal matters. Thank you for this post, good job!

  4. Shaun Hoobler

    Hello there Jawad. Just thought I’d leave you a comment on this post (seemed as good as any) to say that I’ve read some of your posts and I’m enjoying the blog! Expect to see a few more comments from me! 😉

    1. Jawad Khan Post author

      Hey Shaun,

      Great to have you here.

      I’m glad you’re finding the blog useful.

      Would love to see you comment regularly and hopefully we can start building a community around this blog.


  5. Justin

    Well, there are actually a lot of outsourcing sites out there which could offer you clients for your job needs. I got my first client through referral, a friend, who was already working with a client and then another referral from a client’s friend.

    1. Jawad Khan Post author

      Hey Justin,

      I’m sure there are a lot of clients on these outsourcing websites, but most of them are not high paying clients. You can’t make a living out of them.

      But good luck to you if you’re getting the results that you want.


  6. Fazimoon Samad

    There’s another reason why I lost interest in all such job portals. The more I explored these freelancing portals the more I realized that almost all the writing jobs over there were listed either by content agencies or middlemen who were offering pennies for our hard work. There’s no way you can make a full time living with the sort of rates they’e offering out there. In fact, I even felt humiliated reading some of the jobs posted there.
    I like this part the most about your article.
    We have to eat and live from writing, we should all strike and then we see what will happen, I for one is not going to be slavering away all hour of the day and night and give it away for a few dollars, get a part time job while you are trying to lunch you Freelance writing. We have to set a rate for blogger.

    1. Jawad Khan Post author

      Hey Fazimoon,

      You’re absolutely spot on.

      There’s no way you can make a living out of these job portals.

      Branding yourself as a writer and getting higher rates is our only option.

  7. Kristal R.

    This post has been extremely helpful. I am in the beginning stages of trying to land some regular clients myself, and you are right on the money about how DIFFICULT it is to land gigs through job boards. It’s the most frustrating thing to take your time, craft a unique response to tons of different job ads and hearing nothing back. Or even worse, getting requests to do free or next-to-free work on a trial basis. I know your post is a bit old, but just wanted to let you know it’s still helping folks like me 😉

  8. Abhishek

    This is exactly what I feel too. Getting your freelance job depends more on you rather than the platform you are trying. Instead of waiting endlessly on sites like elance to get work, one should also try to get freelance work on his own.

  9. Abhishek

    I think its very important for freelancers to build their own reputation as a freelancer rather than rely on freelance broker websites which are not so profitable for freelancers. Creating their own blog goes a long way in building your reputation. Of course you would need to promote yourself harder this way, but it is also more profitable and sustainable to make a full time living out of it.


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