Are you a freelance writer wondering how you can get those coveted 5-star ratings from your clients?
Do you want to know how can you can keep clients coming back and raving about their experience working with you?
You need learn to be a freelancer that clients love!
As a full-time professional freelancer, I know just how valuable glowing reviews and long-term clients can be.
Reviews enable you to get increasingly better jobs and long-term clients can be the source of a sustainable, full-time, location-independent income.
There’s no magic shortcut, but there are some things I have learned by working on hundreds of projects with many different clients.
I am going to share my insights here with you, free! I hope they will help you to skip some of the troubles that slowed me down.
The Freelance Writing Process
There are many parts of a freelance writing project but they can be broken down into:
- The proposal
- Getting the job
- Writing the project
- After the project
In Part 1 of this series, I will cover what you need to do when writing the proposal and getting the job. Then, Part 2 will cover writing the project, revisions, and after the project. By the time you read both blogs, you will have knowledge that can help you advance in your freelance writing career.
So without further ado, let’s get into the first step: The proposal.
Delivering outstanding service for your clients starts with a great proposal. Not only does it help you get jobs, it sets the tone for the entire project.
Here’s what you do.
Read the job description very carefully. I will even copy and paste it into my cover letter sometimes so I am sure to address each point, then I delete it afterwards of course. If the client puts detail in the job description, it is important to them, so you will want to address it. Respond in your own words, specifically tailoring your answers to their needs.
Show, Don’t Tell
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. They are reading dozens of proposals that plainly tell how great the writers are, that they will deliver, blah, blah, blah…I believe in showing over telling. Show your writing style in your proposal. Get creative and you’ll get their attention.
Include These Pieces of Information
Next, here are some important things to include in your proposal:
- The Delivery Date. Tell the client how long it is going to take you to finish the project. Many clients are on specific publishing schedules so will require certain deadlines being met.You need to set your due date carefully and realistically, with a little buffer space to ensure you meet it. (If you can’t give a completion date with the information you have seen, tell them you will need to discuss the project further with them in order to set it.)
- Relevant sample. Once again, you need to show them what you can do. Find a sample that is relevant to the job you are applying for (published in your name is preferred but an attached document is okay). It should demonstrate the skills and style they are looking for. If you don’t have one, I recommend you write up at least a short 500-word sample in the niche you are applying for.
- Why should they choose you? What do you offer that makes you different from the dozens of other candidates? (experience? education? specialization? skills? reliability? low cost as a newbie?) Include a sentence to sell yourself.
- Concise style. Remember, clients are sorting through many proposals which can be mundane. Engage your reader with concise sentences. Don’t ramble on and on. Address the important points in an informative and entertaining way and wrap it up.
- Rates. Now one thing that is hugely important when starting out is your rate. A huge part of satisfying a client is delivering value for their money. Even if your work is good, if the cost is too high, the client won’t be fully satisfied. Look at the set budget, look at other bids, consider what the project entails, know your skill set, and set your rate accordingly. You don’t want to be underbidding or overbidding. Sometimes they will state the budget, which is great, but other times they won’t. Bid as best you can in those scenarios and let the client know you are open to discussing the budget further. You don’t want to be ruled out when you’re willing to negotiate.
Those are the basics of an effective proposal. If you submit enough well-written ones, “Woohoo!” you’ll eventually get a job! Once you do, here is what comes next.
Once You Get Hired
Getting a job can be a challenge but once you do, it’s game time. First things first, you want to thank the client for awarding you the job. They could’ve picked many other people but they chose you! You also want to ensure you respond to communications as promptly as possible (no longer than 24 hours).
Get Clear..Really Clear
Next, carefully look through all of the job requirements and ask for clarification on anything that is unclear. Honestly, a quick 10-minute call can make a world of difference so you can get context for the project. It also adds that personal element which makes for a better connection between you and the client.
Confirm your understanding of the project, your delivery date, the number of revisions you will provide, what your revisions will cover (no new add-ons), and your cost.
I always think of that Abraham Lincoln quote when it comes to this part.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln
A little preparation can save you hours of trouble. Tell the client you are going to research and plan the piece and will come back to them with a planned outline BEFORE YOU START writing.
This is crucial.
When I started out, I can’t tell you how many times I wrote full articles, without confirming an outline with the client, only to find out they wanted something else. Save both of you time and energy by providing a clear outline of what you will cover.
When it’s ready, send it over and ask if it looks good. If they provide feedback, take it gladly and adjust your plan. It’s much easier to change an outline than an article.
Once the client approves your outline, let them know when they can expect the first draft and get to writing.
Stay Tuned for Part 2!
Now that we have covered the initial steps in a freelance writing project, you are on the right track to earning the business of clients who will love to work with you. In part 2 of this series, which I’ll post next week, we will cover what you should do in the project phase, revision phase, and after the project.
Then you will be all set to put these tips into action.
See you there!