10 Steps to Your Freelance Success: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re like most freelancers, you’re smart and you’re talented. But you’re not getting the steady, high-paying freelance clients you deserve. And building a stable, high-income freelance business is a struggle.

This isn’t your fault.

You probably never had a chance to learn about marketing. So you end up taking whatever work comes along, and struggling to make a living.

Say Goodbye to Struggle and Hello to Success

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get the steady, high-paying clients you deserve—in good times and in bad.

These clients will pay you what you’re worth, treat you right, and hire you again and again. 

Here at The Mighty Marketer, I’ve been helping freelancers learn how to build successful freelance businesses since 2014. In this guide, I share my proven 10-step process for doing this. It works whether you’re just getting started or are busy most of the time but know you can do better.

Let’s get started!

In This Guide

  1. Develop the Fearless Freelancer Mindset
  2. Stand Out in a Sea of Freelancers
  3. Build the Marketing Habit
  4. Choose Your Moneymaking Specialty(ies)
  5. Find the Right Prospects
  6. Reach and Attract the Right Clients with Direct Email
  7. Establish a Complete, Client-Focused LinkedIn Profile
  8. Create a Client-Focused Website
  9. Meet People Who Can Help and Hire You
  10. Be First in Line for Freelance Work


Step 1. Develop the Fearless Freelancer Mindset

What you think—your mindset—is just as important in what happens to your freelance business as what you do.

Freelancers who thrive aren’t luckier or smarter than freelancers who struggle. But we do have a growth mindset, grit, and resilience.

If you have a growth mindset, you believe that you can change your freelance future by learning new things, being persistent, and taking the right actions. You’ll be willing to work hard to reach your goals.

But if you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your future is set in stone. And you may believe that you shouldn’t have to work hard to succeed as a freelancer. Since doing better is beyond your control and you expect success to come to you without effort, you’ll give up.

Become a Fearless Freelancer

You can build a growth mindset and become a fearless freelancer. Grit and resilience will help you do this. And you can grow your grit and build your resilience.

Grow Your Grit

Also called determination, mental toughness, or tenacity, grit is having the perseverance and passion to stick with your long-term goals until you reach them. Grit is carrying on even when you make mistakes or don’t feel like you’re making progress.

Remember how Charlie Brown kept trying to kick that football even though Lucy pulled it away from him every time? Charlie Brown never gave up. He had grit.

How successful we are is largely dependent on grit, says Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the New York Times bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth’s research shows that people with grit, when compared to others:

  • Work harder to achieve goals
  • Are happier
  • Tend to be optimistic
  • Are more resilient.

Build Your Resilience

While grit is something we always need, resilience helps us when bad things happen. Resilience is the ability to meet adversity head-on, adapt, bounce back, and keep trying.

Most people aren’t born resilient. Instead, they build resilience over time. If you consider adversity a challenge and deal with it, you’ll become more resilient. But if you consider adversity a threat, you’ll become less resilient.

7 Ways to Grow Your Grit and Build Your Resilience

Here are 7 ways to grow your grit and build your resilience.

1. Be Positive

A negative attitude zaps your energy. And no one likes to be around—or work with—negative people. Believe in yourself and your ability to turn the challenges you’re facing into opportunities. You have the power to make your freelance future brighter.

2. Take Action

Positive thinking alone isn’t enough. You need to take action. Each action you complete is a small win. And each small win builds your confidence and motivates you to keep taking action.

Finishing this chapter is a small win. Finishing the entire book is a bigger small win. Taking the actions in all of the steps in the book is a big win that will help you get the steady, high-paying clients you deserve.

3. Create a Strong, Supportive Network

You don’t have to—and you shouldn’t—try to figure everything out on your own. Even in good times, freelancers need a network of positive people—other freelancers, friends, and family—who will provide support. When times are bad, a strong, supportive network is even more important.

Having freelance friends is especially important. Sharing what you’re going through, and knowing that other freelancers are going through the same or similar things, will make you feel better. Other freelancers can also provide advice about what’s working for them, and sometimes referrals to clients.

4. Build the Marketing Habit

Good habits make it easier for you to do things that will help you reach your long-term goals. They also help you focus on what’s most important—like marketing your freelance business.

Building a habit actually rewires your brain. So if you build the marketing habit, marketing will be easier for you. Step 3 will show you how to build the marketing habit. 

5. Use a Mantra

Stay calm by using a mantra. Studies show that a mantra—a word, a group of words, or a sound—is calming and makes it easier to cope with unexpected stress.

“Keep calm and carry on” is a British slogan that became popular in the U.S. during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. When you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath and chant, whisper, or silently say, “I’m going to keep calm and carry on.” You’ll feel calmer in seconds. Or choose another mantra.

6. Meditate and/or Practice Yoga

Many studies show that meditation and yoga decrease stress and relieve anxiety. Just 10 minutes a day of meditation and/or an hour a week of practicing yoga will help you feel better. There are lots of great free or low-cost apps and web-based resources that make it easy for you to meditate and/or practice yoga.

7. Get Outdoors and Exercise

Studies also show that being in nature helps reduce stress and anxiety. Walking and other physical activity (outdoors or indoors) provide the same benefits while also keeping our bodies strong and healthy. 

Learn more about the Fearless Freelancer Mindset

4 Easy Ways for Freelancers to Develop the Growth Mindset 
The Superhero Power You Need to Know About: Grit 
How to Boost Your Resilience When Things Go Wrong 
Video: Develop the Fearless Freelancer mindset


Step 2. Stand Out in a Sea of Freelancers

Freelancers who have a brand and client-focused marketing messages stand out in a sea of freelancers. 

What do freelancers have in common with oranges, coal, and cattle? They’re all commodities—services (freelancers) and goods (oranges, coal, and cattle) that are largely interchangeable. To many clients, one freelance writer or editor (or another type of freelancer) seems just as good as another—unless you have a freelance brand and client-focused marketing messages.

Most freelancers don’t have brands and client-focused marketing messages. If you do, clients will see you as providing more value and being more professional than other freelancers.

You’ll stand out in the sea of freelancers. So you’ll be able to attract more—and better—clients. And when clients contact you, they’ll already understand what you do and how you can help them. So you’ll be able to do less marketing.

What’s in a Freelance Brand?

Your freelance brand tells clients what to expect from your services. It helps clients get to know and trust you. Also, it helps clients remember you—and think of you first for freelance work.

It takes time and effort to simplify your marketing messages and develop your freelance brand, but it’s well worth it. Your freelance brand is made up of:

  • Logo and tagline
  • Tone of voice
  • Colors
  • Business name (or your name and title)
  • Client-focused marketing messages.

Logo and Tagline

Your logo and tagline are the main ways you show your brand. A logo is an image, symbol, or other design to identify your services. Logos often have an image, but sometimes they’re just text in a nice design. A logo should be easily identifiable and simple.

A tagline—one of your key client-focused marketing messages—is a memorable phrase or sentence that helps your target markets understand what you do. Target markets are groups of clients (usually part of an industry) that you work with or want to work with.

Make your tagline short enough to look good with your logo. And make sure it’s clear. Clarity always trumps creativity and cleverness in a tagline (and in all marketing). A professional designer will work with you to create a logo that represents your business.

Tone of Voice

Your brand tone of voice expresses your company’s values, personality, and way of thinking. It needs to be appropriate for your target markets. For example, if your clients are conservative, you need a formal, conservative tone of voice. But if your clients are creative, your brand should be bolder and more creative.


Colors, which are associated with specific characteristics, are important too. For example, blue, black, and red are among the most popular colors in brands. Here’s what they mean:

  • Blue: Trust. Also dependable and strength. Blue is often used in business brands.
  • Red: Excitement. Also bold and youthful.
  • Black: Powerful and sleek. Black is often used for luxury products.

Your designer can help you choose the right colors for your brand. 

Business Name

Most freelancers use their personal names instead of a business name. Having a good business name will help you stand out even more in a sea of freelancers. But even if you use your own name, if you have a strong brand you’ll still stand out.

Your business name doesn’t have to be unique—and it probably won’t be. It should appeal to your target markets, say what you do, and be clear.

Being clever is optional. If you can think of a clever name that appeals to your target markets, that’s great. But being clear is far more important than being clever. Use real words or phrases, and stay away from anything that will confuse clients.

If you don’t create a business name, make sure your title clearly says what you do. For example, if I didn’t have a business name, my title would be freelance medical writer. My business name is Lori De Milto Writer for Rent LLC. 

Develop Your Freelance Brand Statement

Your freelance brand statement will help you think about your logo and create your tagline and other client-focused marketing messages. It needs to clearly and concisely state:

  • What you offer: Services
  • Who you offer it to: Target markets (types of clients)
  • How you’re different or better than other freelancers.

Here’s the formula for a freelance brand statement:


Under target markets and services, focus on the work you like best where there are good opportunities for freelancers, and clients that can give you steady, high-paying work, even in bad times. You can still do other types of work and work with other types of clients.

My example:


Position Yourself as Different and Better

And you don’t actually have to be different or better than other freelancers. You just need to position yourself as different and better.

So, for example, my freelance brand focuses on delivering targeted medical content and doing this on time every time. Many successful freelance writers deliver content that’s targeted to the audience and meets the client’s deadlines. So I’m not unique. But using this in my brand positions me as different and better than other freelancers. This positioning makes me stand out in a sea of freelancers.

In your brand statement, base things that make you different on client needs. The key overall client need is for you to make the client’s life easier. Other general needs are:

  • Meet my deadlines
  • Stay on my budget
  • Do the project right
  • Be flexible
  • Be responsive.

If the clients you work with have another general need, you can use that. Choose one or a few client needs as the key need(s) for your brand.

In describing things that make you different, you’ll use core values and personality traits that will appeal to your target markets. For example, if you choose “do the project right” as the key need for your brand, core values and personality traits could include accurate, meticulous, and/or trustworthy.  Other core values and personality traits include dependable, efficient, and punctual.

Create Client-Focused Marketing Messages

When a client looks at your LinkedIn profile or website, you want him/her to immediately think, “Yes, this is the right freelancer for me.” You make this happen with client-focused marketing messages.

Your brand statement and your tagline are key parts of your client-focused marketing messages. You’ll build on these in your LinkedIn profile and website, especially in the heads and subheads.

Here’s how this works. My key marketing messages build on my tagline of “Targeted Medical Content. On time. Every time.” My LinkedIn profile headline is: “Freelance Medical Writer | Targeted Content to Attract, Engage, and Motivate Your Audience(s) | On time, Every time.” My Home page headline is: “Targeted Medical Content that Attracts, Engages, and Motivates Your Audiences.”

My key messages are clever, but yours don’t have to be. It’s much more important to be clear. If clients don’t know what your marketing messages mean, they’ll move on to the next freelancer on their list.

If you can come up with clever language that contributes to your client-focused marketing messages, that’s great. But don’t waste time trying to do this. You can always update your marketing messages later, when you’ve had more time to think about this.

Learn More About Freelance Brands

Stand Out in a Sea of Freelancers: Your Brand 
11 Steps to a Business Name that Will Make You Memorable 
Video: Stand Out in a Sea of Freelancers

Stories about how freelancers developed their brands:

DeLene Beeland 
Kristin Harper 
Margaret Johnson 
Kathleen Labonge 
Eva Stabenow


Step 3. Build the Marketing Habit

Habits make it easier for us to do the things we need to do—like marketing a freelance business. Even in good times, freelancers who want to thrive must do a lot of marketing a lot of the time. In bad times, this is crucial.

Get Steady, High-Paying Clients

Steady, high-paying clients who need freelancers aren’t using freelance jobs sites or content mills like fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer.com. And they’re not going to magically find you. Instead, you have to go out and find them. And you have to attract them with your marketing.

Avoid Freelance Job Sites and Content Mills

Even during good times, pay on freelance jobs sites and content mills is ridiculously low. Stiff competition from other freelancers means that you waste time applying for work you never get. And if you do get the work, the freelance jobs site or content mill will take a cut.

Upwork, the giant of freelance job sites, has fees ranging from 5%-20%. Giving Upwork 5% of your fee may not sound too bad—but to reach the 5% level, you need to do more than $10,000 worth of business—with each client.

With more competition and when times are bad, more freelancers will be competing for fewer gigs. Pay is likely to go even lower. Freelancers who build the marketing habit don’t have to use freelance jobs sites or content mills—because they know how to find and attract high-paying clients.

Make Marketing Easier

A habit is “the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day,” says James Clear, best-selling author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Good Morning America called Clear the “world’s leading expert on habit formation.”

The more you practice a habit—in this case the marketing habit—the easier it gets. It’s like learning how to tie your shoelaces. In the beginning, you had to really think about what you were doing. And it was hard. But the more times you tied your shoelaces, the easier it got—because tying your shoelaces became a habit.

This book tells you everything you need to know about marketing your freelance business. Use your growth mindset to follow the steps and do the work to make marketing a habit.

Start by Making Time for Marketing

Many freelancers say that they don’t have time for marketing. What this really means is that marketing isn’t a big enough priority for them.

If you want to thrive in good times and in bad, you must make marketing a top priority. The only professional thing that’s more important is always doing great work for your clients.

If your freelance work is slow, spend most of your time on marketing. If you’re still busy, this could change at any time. So you still need to make time for marketing.

7 Ways to Build Habits that Stick

Here are 7 simple ways to build the marketing habit, based on the work of Clear, best-selling author Daniel H. Pink, and me.

1. Use Implementation Intentions

An implementation intention is basically a plan to practice a habit regularly. Here’s the formula:

I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME].

Hundreds of studies have shown that implementation intentions help people stick to their goals. Here’s an example of an implementation intention to build the marketing habit:


Habit stacking is an implementation intention where after you do something that you already do regularly (a current habit), you practice the new habit. Here’s the formula:


Here’s an example of habit stacking to build the marketing habit:


2. Choose the Right Time of Day

When you do your marketing makes a big difference. In When? The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink divides the day into three parts: peak, trough, and rebound. They occur in this order for most people. Night owls tend to rebound, trough, and peak.

Most of us are at our best during the morning, especially the late morning. Work on things that take the most effort, like starting to draft your client-focused marketing messages (Step 2) during the peak.

In the afternoon, we have less energy and are less alert. This is a good time for easier work like developing your prospect list (Step 5) or searching for relevant contacts to invite to be part of your network on LinkedIn (Step 9).

During the rebound, late afternoon and early evening, we’re most creative. Work on things like writing your LinkedIn profile and website content and drafting direct emails then. This is also a good time to refine your marketing messages.

Figure out the science of your day and use it to make building the marketing habit easier.

3. Start Small and Increase Gradually

Start building the marketing habit with small actions. For example, invite one person to connect with you on LinkedIn each day for the first week. The next week, invite two people to join your network each day. Every action you take helps you build the marketing habit.

4. Focus on Actions, Not Outcomes

You can’t control outcomes, like whether a client hires you. But you have total control over your actions. For example, if you aim to get 3 new clients in 30 days, you’re going to be disappointed. Clients rarely need freelancers when we first market to them.

But you can easily develop a list of 25 prospective clients and send them direct emails over the next 30 days. And actions like this, repeated often, are very likely to result in new clients in the future.

5. Chunk the Marketing Habit

Break the marketing habit into manageable chunks. Instead of trying to write or revise your LinkedIn profile in one day, for example, try this:

Day 1: Draft your About section.  
Day 2: Review and refine your About section.
Day 3: Finalize your About section. Start drafting your headline. 
Day 4: Review and refine your headline. 
Day 5: Work on your Experience section.
Day 6: Work on the rest of your profile.
Day 7: Finalize your headline.
Day 8: Review everything carefully.

This makes it easy to practice the marketing habit consistently and get stuff done.

6. When You Slip, Get Back on Track

We all slip and get off track. Be kind to yourself and accept that you’re human. Then get back to practicing your marketing.

7. Be Patient

It takes time and practice to build the marketing habit. Keep going and you’ll see the results.

Learn More About Building the Marketing Habit

9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and What Happens When You Do 
How to Make Marketing as Easy as Tying Your Shoes 
Video: Make Marketing as Easy as Tying your Shoes

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Step 4. Choose Your Moneymaking Specialty(ies)

Choose the high-paying clients you want to work with (your prospects) and make a list of them so you can reach and attract them with your marketing. 

Make More Money with Less Effort

If you have a bad leak and water is pouring onto your floor, you’re going to call a plumber, not a handyman. The plumber is an expert in solving your problem. The handyman isn’t.

When clients hire a freelancer, they want an expert too. And they’re willing to pay well for that expertise. So you don’t have to take whatever work comes along.

Specializing also helps you get the clients you deserve with less work and in less time. By specializing, you’ll learn more about your clients (your target markets). You’ll know who your prospective clients (prospects) are, where to find them, what they need, and how you can meet those needs. You’ll be able to show clients that you understand their needs and have the expertise to help them.

Stand Out in a Sea of Freelancers

As a specialist, you’ll stand out in a sea of freelancers. And steady, high-paying clients will be able to find you more easily. Colleagues, a key source of referrals, will also be more likely to remember what you do. Also, as a specialist, you’ll build expertise and will be able to work faster and with less effort.

Choose the Right Specialty(ies)

Choosing a specialty, or niche, and moving toward it takes time for most freelancers. Your specialty(ies) can—and usually should—change as you get more experience and learn more about the market for your services. Start more broadly and narrow down your specialty over time.

You can start with two or three specialties, and may even keep two or three specialties throughout your freelance career. In bad times, it’s great to have two or three specialties. If one of your specialties takes a nosedive, you still have other clients and freelance work in other specialties.

Decide How to Specialize

A moneymaking specialty offers lots of opportunities for freelancers like you, and makes it easy for you to find and reach prospective clients. Finding your moneymaking specialty(ies) does take time and effort, but the work you put in now will help you get great clients throughout your freelance career.

The most common ways to specialize are by industry, by project, or by a combination of industry and project. For most freelancers, industry specialization is best, especially if you’re fairly new to freelancing or have been freelancing for a while but aren’t as successful as you’d like to be. Industry specialization is a broader way to specialize. And it lets you choose industries with lots of opportunities and high-paying clients.

You can do work outside your specialty(ies) too. Clients may ask you to do other types of work for them. Whether you say yes is up to you, but doing work outside your specialty(ies) is a great way to get new experience and possibly expand your specialty(ies). If you do say yes, make sure you can do a great job for the client.

Industry specialization means focusing on an industry, part of an industry, and/or target markets (types of client) within an industry. Example based on my specialty:

  • Industry specialty: Medical/healthcare
  • Parts of the industry where I focus: Healthcare services and consumer/patient education
  • Target markets: Hospitals/health systems, large medical practices, disease-focused health organizations, healthcare communications agencies, and patient education organizations.

Project specialization is based on services. This is very broad, so it’s harder to figure out what type of clients to target. For most freelancers, project specialization is the worst choice. Examples are writing white papers and case studies, editing books, or web design.

The narrowest specialization combines industry and project specialization. Examples are editing for authors of books and web design for the financial services industry.

Combined industry and project specialization let you focus on specific types of clients and services. There’s less competition because your specialization is so narrow. This type of specialty generally works best if you’re an experienced freelancer and you know your target markets really well.

Go for the Money

Whatever type of specialty(ies) you choose, go for the money. Focus on industries, target markets, specific clients, and projects (services) that offer high pay and lots of opportunities—even in bad times.

The best clients are usually large businesses, especially businesses that sell products or services to other businesses (B2B) rather than to consumers (B2C). There are other types of high-paying clients too.

In-Demand Services

Along with choosing industries or target markets with high demand, focus on core services that clients still need and are willing to pay for. Content marketing, for example, continues to boom, while writing (or editing) for magazines and newspapers continues to plummet.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing focuses on providing relevant and useful content that helps customers and clients solve problems, rather than selling products or services. Nearly all B2B and B2C marketers use content marketing. 

In 2022, 71% of the B2B marketers said content marketing became more important to their organization in the last year, according to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute. And 69% of businesses planned to increase their content marketing budgets in 2023, according to Semrush. So content marketing is a great core service for freelance writers and editors. Businesses that have at least 50 employees are likely to need help with content marketing and be able to pay a freelance writer or editor well.

Other core services include other types of web-based content and any service that helps clients sell their core products and services. Many clients are eliminating or doing fewer print projects now. Printing and mailing a newsletter, for example, costs a lot more than doing e-newsletters. So e-newsletters and web content are core services.

Even clients who are cutting costs still need to market their core services and products. Figure out the core services within specific industries or target markets, and even for individual clients. Then focus on services you already provide or could provide that match client needs.

Look for target markets within your industry(ies) that are growing or at least staying about the same or not declining much. Also look for target markets with professional associations where you can learn about freelance work, find and reach clients, and network. Look for services where demand is still high.

Industry Analysis  

Use Dun & Bradstreet to learn more about the industry(ies) that you’re working in or want to work in. Select each industry you want to assess and click on Industry Analysis.

Form a full picture of each industry by combining what you learn on Dun & Bradstreet with the information above and what you learn from networking with other freelancers and from your professional associations. Dun & Bradstreet is also a great tool for finding prospects.


Networking with other freelancers online and in person is the best way to assess target markets and learn which services clients need most. Meet other freelancers in professional associations and in groups and forums for freelancers, like online forums of professional associations and LinkedIn.

You can find other freelancers at meetings and conferences of professional associations and through membership directories or member lists of online communities and professional associations. Ask them about their experiences with the target markets you’re working in or considering.

Professional Associations

Professional associations are vital to a successful freelance business for many reasons. In choosing your specialty(ies), professional associations help you learn about target markets and stay updated on what’s happening, and find clients to market to through their member directories. You can also build a strong network through professional associations, which will help you get more referrals (also covered under Step 9).

Before joining a professional association, check out the website and available resources, and try to go to a meeting or conference. The American Medical Writers Association has played a key role in my success. I’ve been a member since the year after I started my business. I’ve joined several other associations over the years but none have been nearly as helpful to me in terms of networking and learning.

Make Your Choices

Build your business faster and with less effort by starting with what you know. Use your experience from freelancing and jobs, and if you’re a recent college graduate, what you learned getting your degree. You can change or expand your specialty(ies) later.

Choose the clients you want to work with (your industries and target markets) and the services you provide. Focus first on the industries and types of clients and where you have the most chance of success because of your background, experience, and skills. For example, if you worked full time as a writer for a Fortune 500 company, focus on large businesses. If you were a graphic designer for a university, focus on colleges and universities. And if you don’t have much or any work experience, focus on something related to your college degree or other training.

Prioritize your industries, target markets, and services based on client needs, your experience, your expertise, and your interests.

Describe Your Specialty(ies)

Draft a specialty description using this formula:


Here’s my example:

I help hospitals/health systems, medical practices, disease-focused health organizations, and other clients engage, inform, and motivate target audiences so hospitals/health systems and medical practices can grow their businesses and disease-focused health organizations and patient education organizations can help more people stay healthy or live better.

It’s okay if you don’t know enough to do this yet. And your specialty description doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just for you, to help you understand how to target your marketing. You’ll probably use some, but not all, of the description in your marketing.

Write as much of your specialty description as you can now. After you finish this book, come back and complete it. You’ll use the description of your specialty and your brand statement (Step 2) to develop marketing that will help you attract steady, high-paying clients. Xx

Learn More About Freelance Specialties

The Easy Way to Get Bigger, Better Clients: Your Specialty 
How 4 Freelancers Make More Money as Specialists


Step 5. Find the Right Prospects

Choose the high-paying clients you want to work with (your prospects) and make a list of them so you can reach and attract them with your marketing. 

Develop prospect lists of about 200-400 companies and other organizations you’d like to work with. Do a separate list for each target market. Choose about 30-40 prospects for now so you learn the process, and add more later.

Let’s start with the right type of prospects to look for: Prospects most likely to hire you and steady, high-paying clients. Then we’ll cover how to find them and the information you need about each prospect.

Choose the Prospects Most Likely to Hire You

Choose clients in the industry(ies) you identified in your specialty. Here’s how this works, using my specialty as an example. My general specialty is “Freelance medical writer for healthcare marketers and health organizations.” That’s somewhat broad, so I need to pick certain target markets to focus on. My specialty description includes specific target markets: hospitals/health systems, medical practices, disease-focused health organizations, and other clients.

Hospitals and disease-focused health organizations are easy to find, so I focused my prospect lists on these. “Other clients” is a broad term that includes organizations that I hear about and add to my prospect list and other clients that find me.

In making your list, focus first on the prospects that are most likely to hire you based on your background, experience, and skills. New freelancers, for example, aren’t likely to land Apple or Mayo Clinic as clients. When I started out, I focused on smaller hospitals. As I gained more experience, I began to target—and get—larger, more prestigious hospitals, like Johns Hopkins Medicine. Expand your prospect list to other clients as you gain experience.

Go for the Money

Also focus on clients that are likely to pay freelancers well and have steady work for us. You can’t be sure that a client is high-paying and uses freelancers regularly unless you know another freelancer who works for them. But my proven freelance marketing process helps you find and market to the companies and other organizations that are most likely to be steady, high-paying clients.

The best clients are usually large businesses, especially businesses that that sell products or services to other businesses (B2B) rather than to consumers (B2C). In general, large businesses make the best clients because they often work with multiple freelancers, understand the value we bring them, and can pay us what we’re worth.

But there are other types of high-paying clients too, such as some foundations, some non-profit organizations, and some universities. Some smaller companies are great clients too. The word “company” in this guide refers to any type of organization that hires freelancers.

Find high-paying clients for your prospect list through:

  • Professional associations
  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Leading company lists (e.g., Inc. 5000 and Fortune 500)
  • Online industry directories (e.g., Medical Marketing & Media top 100 agencies).

Do It the Easy Way

Using the member directories of professional associations is the easiest way to develop prospect lists. Member directories have all or most of the information you need, including a good contact person for each company and, usually, his/her email address.

If you’re new to freelancing or still figuring out where to focus, professional associations will help you find prospects you might not have thought to look for on your own. General business associations like the American Marketing Association and the International Association of Business Communicators can be especially useful if you’re still defining your specialty(ies) or exploring different specialties.

Joining one or a few professional associations is a lot cheaper than the cost of the time it will take you to develop your prospect list using other research. If you don’t already belong to professional associations in your target markets, join now.

But there are many steady, high-paying clients that don’t belong to professional associations. So use other sources too.

Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet is a great tool for finding high-quality business prospects. To be listed on Dun & Bradstreet, companies need a D‑U‑N‑S number (data universal numbering system). These numbers basically mean that the company is reliable and stable.

Dun & Bradstreet lets you look up companies by industry and then by sectors (target markets) within each industry. The search results give you the list of companies with their sales revenue. You can also search by number of employees. When you click on a company, you get its profile.

The number of results you can get for free is limited. But it’s an easy way to find some high-quality prospects. Make sure you search by your country/region.

Use LinkedIn (covered below) to find the right contact person (people).

Leading Company Lists and Online Directories

Leading company lists and online directories in your industries are also great ways to find companies you want to work with. Then, use LinkedIn to find the right contact person (people).

Leading company lists like Inc. 5000 and Fortune 500 list the top companies in general or in a target market (e.g., best hospitals in the U.S.). Like the companies listed in Dun & Bradstreet, these are likely to be high-paying clients who can give freelancers steady work.

Inc. 5000 lists the 5,000 fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S., with revenue and growth. You can search by industry, but there are only six industry choices.

Fortune 500 companies are big companies. Together, they represent two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product. You can also search this list by industry. There are dozens of industries to choose from.

For newer freelancers, Inc. 5000 is a better source of prospects unless you have a very strong track record in your industry(ies) from other work experience. Fortune 500 companies are most likely to hire experienced freelancers.

Use leading company lists to find companies you want to work with. Then use LinkedIn to find the right contact person (people).

Online industry directories list companies in a specific industry. For example, for my hospital prospect list, I used U.S. News & World Report’s list of top hospitals and top children’s hospitals. In the past, I’ve used the National Cancer Institute’s list of cancer centers to develop a list of cancer centers. I know about these lists because I know my target markets.

Find the right directories for your specialty through a Google search, your professional associations, and networking.


LinkedIn was more helpful for general prospect searches before Microsoft acquired it in 2016 and made big changes that limit what you can do with a free account, like limiting the number of searches you can do each month.

With a free account, LinkedIn is best for finding contacts in the companies you know you want to work with and for finding related prospects through People Also Viewed. The regular search engine is pretty good in helping you find people since LinkedIn’s algorithm sorts results by relevance. Even if you get a lot of search results, the top ones should be relevant.

Search results are also based on your connections, so the larger your network, the more results you’ll get. This is another reason to have a large, relevant LinkedIn network (at least 500 relevant connections), along with appearing higher in search results when clients are looking for a freelancer. Relevant connections are people in your industry(ies) and target markets and other freelancers. (The details below are based on LinkedIn’s Search feature and policies as of August 2023.)

To find the right contact person (people):

  • Click the Search bar
  • Type in the organization
  • Click People
  • Click All filters. Now you can search by your connections, industry, current company, service categories, location (e.g., the United States), and more.

If you know a company (or companies) you want to work with, search for that company, and then use Keywords to find people with the right job titles (covered below under Find the Right Contact People).

When you find someone who is a good prospect for you, check out his/her People Also Viewed section. This is a great way to find colleagues at the same company who may be better prospects for you and people at different, but similar, companies with the same/similar job title. Members choose whether to show People Also Viewed, so you may not find this for everyone.

With a free account, you can search for 1st- and 2nd-degree connections, but LinkedIn only lets you search for so many people each month. They call this the Commercial Use Limit, but they don’t say what the limit is. So do your most important searches first, and know that you can do more searches after the first of the next month.

If you need or want to find a lot of prospects fast, try a premium subscription. You can get one month free. If you need more time, buy a premium subscription for a few months, develop your prospect lists, and then go back to the free account.

There are two plans that are good for freelancers: Premium Business or Sales Navigator. Premium Business is $47.99 a month if you get an annual plan and a little more if you pay each month and Sales Navigator starts at $99.99 a month (as of August 2023).

Find the Right Contact Person (People)

Look for the types of people who usually hire freelancers or manage the people who hire freelancers. These are usually vice presidents, managers, directors, associate directors, and editors.

The right contact person usually works in departments like communications, content marketing, digital marketing, marketing, new business development, sales, or web content. The titles and departments vary in different companies and different target markets. As you learn more about your target markets, you’ll learn the best search terms.

Finding the right contact person or people isn’t always easy. But if you get close to the right person, and send a professional, client-focused direct email (Step 6), people will forward your message to their colleagues. This has happened to me—and led to new clients—lots of times.

It’s good to have several names from each company because sometimes it’s difficult to find the right person. Having several contacts is especially helpful for larger companies where multiple departments may use freelancers or you’re not sure which person hires freelancers.

Find Email Addresses

Email addresses are difficult to find unless you’re using a professional association member directory. These directories usually have email addresses for members.

On LinkedIn, many contacts at client companies don’t include their email address under contact info. Don’t try to market to them through LinkedIn messages. Most clients don’t like this and won’t respond. And many clients are rarely on LinkedIn and won’t even see your message until long after you’ve sent it.

I’ve found a trick for finding email addresses that usually works. Find the format for email addresses on the company’s website and then apply it to your contact’s name. Try the Newsroom, which always lists media contacts, usually by name and with an actual email address.

I’ve nearly always been able to find email addresses either in member directories or on the company’s website. The few time I haven’t been able to find an email address, I’ve just moved on to the next prospect on my list.

But there are other ways to find email addresses. These include Hunter.io, an extension for Google Chrome, and the ZoomInfo plugin to Outlook.

Organize and Prioritize Your Prospect Lists

Put your prospect lists for each target market into a spreadsheet, database, or even a Word file; whatever works for you is fine. For each client, include: Company name, name of the contact person, title, department, and email address. For each contact person, include the name, title, department, and email address. Now divide each prospect list into three categories:

  • Hot Prospects: Companies you most want to work with
  • Routine Prospects: Companies you’d like to work with
  • Lukewarm Prospects: Companies you don’t really want to work with but will for now to get some experience, make some money, etc.

Where you focus most of your marketing usually depends on the stage of your freelance business. If you’re a new freelancer, focus mostly on lukewarm and routine prospects, which are easier to get. If you’re an experienced freelancer who wants to be a lot more successful, focus mostly on lukewarm and routine prospects, which are easier to get. And if you’re a seasoned, successful freelancer looking for a “tune-up” (new opportunities and/or better clients), focus mostly on hot prospects.  

Become an Expert

Making a prospect list also helps you learn more about your target markets and specific clients. This will help you develop the client-focused marketing that attracts steady, high-paying clients.

As you work on your lists and visit prospects’ websites, make notes about the challenges they face, the language they use, and their values. Pick a few companies on your prospect list that you’d really like to work with and spend some extra time visiting their websites and taking notes.

Doing this type of research will help you begin to understand what’s important to clients in your target market and what they need most. This will help you figure out what to say when you reach out to them to get their attention and show that you can meet their needs.

Learn More About Prospect Lists

How to Choose Your Clients Instead of Taking Whatever Work Comes Along


Step 6. Reach and Attract the Right Clients with Direct Email

When done right, direct email is very effective in attracting steady, high-paying clients. By carefully targeting clients who can pay you what you’re worth and focusing your direct email on their needs, you make yourself irresistible to them. 

Choosing the clients you want to work with (by building your prospect lists) and then reaching out to them through direct email gives you control over your freelance work. Direct email frees you from low-paying, high-competition freelance jobs sites and content mills. It frees you from taking whatever work comes along—usually for low-paying clients who don’t treat you right.

Stand Out from Other Freelancers

Most freelancers don’t use direct email. They don’t know about it or think it’s email marketing. It’s not. Email marketing—what annoys most of us—makes the same offer to thousands of people. The email may use your name, but it’s not customized to your needs. Often, email marketing isn’t even relevant.

Instead, each direct email is carefully customized to the client and focused on what you can do for that client. If you use direct email—and do it right—you’ll stand out. And you’ll attract the attention of steady, high-paying clients.

Send your direct email to one contact person at a time. If that person hasn’t responded about a month after you sent the follow-up email (covered below), try the next person on your list.

Make More Money

As you read the rest of this step, you’ll probably think that direct email is a lot of work. That’s true.

But here’s the thing. You only need a few steady, high-paying clients to make more money and begin to build a stable, successful freelance business.

And think about the value of each new client over the next 1, 2, 5, or 10 years. The amount of money you’ll make in, say, two years from a new client is well worth the time you spend on direct email.

Attract Clients by Focusing on Their Needs

In Steps 2 and 4, you began to learn about the needs of clients in your target markets. Now we’re going to cover the four types of client needs:

  1. General
  2. Freelancer-specific
  3. Target-market or industry
  4. Company-specific.

By focusing your marketing on a few key needs of clients in your target markets, you’ll make yourself irresistible to them.

General Client Needs

  • Common general client needs are:
  • Get more business or make more money, usually by selling more products or services)
  • Help their clients get more business
  • Be seen as a thought leader
  • Educate and inform people
  • Stay on budget and on deadline.

If you focus on getting more business or making more money, you need to break this down into the way the target market does this. Here are some examples of general needs for different target markets. Hospitals (one of my target markets) need to get more patients in a competitive marketplace (get more business). Communications agencies need to help their clients get more business, make more money, and stay on budget and on deadline. Non-profit organizations need to educate and inform people, get more funding (this is the non-profit version of making more money), and stay on budget.

Freelancer-Specific Needs

Freelancer-specific needs start with working with freelancers who are excellent at what they do (writing, editing, etc.). Clients also need:

  • Experience in the type of work they’re looking for help with (usually)
  • Ability to meet deadlines (the key to repeat business)
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Flexibility, accessibility, and responsiveness
  • Ability to take ownership of the project.

Target-Market and Industry-Specific Needs

Target-market needs and industry-specific needs take more time to learn about. Professional associations are an easy way to do this. They offer great resources and give you opportunities to network with people in your target markets and other freelancers working with clients in your target markets.

Also, follow industry news. There’s lots of great free information on the web. Easy ways to learn and stay updated include Google alerts, email newsletters like Smart Briefs, and online publications and websites in your industries and target markets.

Sometimes you can use the same industry need in all direct emails to a specific type of client, with a little customization to the specific client. For example, all hospitals need to get more business (patients) but face intense competition from other hospitals. I use this basic need in all of my direct emails to hospitals, and customize the language I use for each hospital based on its website.

Company Needs

Learn about the needs of each company by spending a few minutes on the prospect’s website. The Home and About pages usually have all of the information you need. Make notes about the prospect’s mission/vision/values and needs, and the key language used.

Which Needs Should You Focus On?

You only need to focus on a few needs in your direct emails and other marketing. Choose what’s most important to the target market, and always include target-market or company-specific needs.

Attract Clients with Compelling Copy

Write a short, targeted direct email to each prospect that combines your knowledge of the target market or industry with some of the language or concepts used on the prospect’s website.

Writing the first direct email for each target market does take time. But this will be your template for other clients in that target market. Then you can modify the template for each client in a few minutes. And as you build the marketing habit (Step 3), writing direct emails will become easier for you.

Include the Key Content

Compelling direct email copy:

  • Has a client-focused subject line
  • Focuses on a key client need and how you meet that need
  • Includes brief, relevant experience/background
  • Includes a call to action
  • Includes your contact information.

Write the subject line, the most important part of the email, last. Include the client’s name and the organization’s name. Focus on client needs and how you meet their needs.

After greeting the contact, show that you understand the company’s needs. Then write one or two sentences about how your most relevant experience enables you to meet the client’s needs. Include a link to your client-focused website (or your client-focused LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a website yet) so that the client can easily learn more about you.

Your call to action should clearly say what will happen next (e.g., “Should we schedule a call next week to discuss this?”).

Make it easy for the client to get in touch with you by including an email signature that has your phone number and email address. If you have a logo and tagline, including this in your email signature will help you stand out from other freelancers. Also include your website or LinkedIn profile URL again, too, so the client can easily learn more about you.

Be Compelling

Compelling direct email copy is short, easy to read, personal, and relevant. Keep your direct email short: no more than six sentences. Write short, easy-to-read sentences and paragraphs. Use a subhead for a key client-focused message.

Make each direct email personal by using the contact’s name and the company’s name. Include the company’s name in the subject line and again in the email. Greet the person by name.

Use some of the company’s language and/or values in your email. Focus on what the client wants to know about you.

New Freelancers

If you’re a new freelancer, focus on whatever relevant experience you have and your abilities. For example, if you’re a doctor transitioning into medical writing, highlight the deep knowledge of medicine your clinical experience gives you. If you’re a recent college graduate, highlight relevant classes.

 Increase Responses by Following Up

Most of your responses won’t come from your original email. Instead, they come from your follow-up emails. That’s because clients are really busy. They may miss your email or mean to respond to it but don’t get to it.

If you don’t hear back from a prospect in about a week, follow up. It’s super easy to write a follow-up email. You just forward your original email with a short, polite message like:

“Hi Jane. I thought I’d follow up about my April 21st email (forwarded below) to see if we should connect. I’d love to learn more about ABC Hospital’s freelance needs and the ways in which I can help you meet those needs.”

How Many Direct Emails Should You Send?

You can’t just send out a handful of direct emails and expect to be swamped with freelance work from new clients. If you do direct email right, you can expect a response rate of 2%-5%—in good times. Here’s the math if you develop a list of about 200-400 prospects:

200 direct emails =  4-10 possible clients 
400 direct emails =  8-20 possible clients.

Marketing in Bad Times

In bad times, clients still need freelancers, but many clients cut back on or stop doing marketing projects they normally assign to freelancers. You can still get steady, high-paying clients during bad times. But you’ll need to do more direct emails because your response rate will be lower.

Responses from Interested Clients

And a response doesn’t mean that the client wants to hire you right away. That’s why I called these possible clients.

Up to 90% of the time, clients don’t need a freelancer when you first contact them. Also, it takes time for many clients to decide to hire you.

Once in a while, you might get lucky and reach a client who needs freelance help right away. What usually happens is that the client says they’ll keep you in mind for future freelance work or put you in their freelance database. I call these interested clients.

Get More Clients with Continuous Follow-Up

Interested clients are very likely to hire you within the next 12 months or so—if you make sure they think of you first when they need freelance help. You do this by following up with them regularly.

Many freelancers miss out in getting steady, high-paying clients because they never or rarely follow up.

Get More Clients Sooner

If you really need to get new clients fast, develop a bigger prospect list and send out more direct emails. The more direct emails you send, the more likely it is that you’ll hit some clients who need freelance help right away, or at least within a few months.

Plan Your Direct Email Campaigns

Create a separate direct email campaign for each target market. A campaign is a fancy way of saying an organized, strategized effort to achieve a specific goal, in your case, getting steady, high-paying clients.

Start with one target market where you think clients are most likely to hire you based on your current experience. Divide each target market prospect list into groups of about 50 prospects. Each group is a separate direct email campaign.

Send out about 25 direct emails each week. This may sound like a lot, but you need to do a lot of marketing to get steady, high-paying clients.

Make Direct Email a Habit

As you send more direct emails, doing this will become a habit. Once direct email becomes a habit, it will be easier and you’ll do it faster.

Schedule the direct emails on your calendar. You can draft your direct emails at any time that works for you. But send them out on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays when clients are most likely to read them. You can send the direct emails over three days or all on one day; whatever works best for you is fine. Remember to schedule your follow-up emails on your calendar too. Send these out about a week after your original email to all prospects who haven’t responded.

Learn More About Direct Email

How to Get Steady, High-Paying Clients with Direct Email 
Why You Need to Use Direct Email: What 4 Freelancers Say


Step 7. Establish a Complete, Client-Focused LinkedIn Profile

Clients expect to be able to check out freelancers before contacting us about freelance work, and colleagues want to know we’re professional before they refer work to us. To get steady, high-paying clients, you must have a strong online presence: your LinkedIn profile and your website.

In my 2023 survey of how freelancers market their services, 91% of freelancers who use social networks for business use LinkedIn. And 61% of the freelancers who use LinkedIn say it’s “important” or “very important” in getting clients. That’s up from 51% in 2017.

More clients are using LinkedIn to search for freelancers now. They’re also going there to check us out if they hear about us through a referral or our marketing. And colleagues want to know that the freelancers they refer to clients have professional profiles.

When LinkedIn generates search results, profile completeness and relevant keywords in the headline are at the top of the search algorithm criteria. Other key criteria are your skills, covered in this step, and criteria covered in Step 9: common connections with the person who’s doing the search, connections by degree (1st, 2nd, or 3rd), and your activity.

Complete Your Profile

Only 51% of LinkedIn users have complete profiles. So you’ll outrank almost half of all members just by completing your profile. If you have an All-Star rating, your profile is complete. To get an All-Star rating, you need to include the right content and have 50+ connections. The right content is:

  • Profile photo
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Education
  • Position (under Experience)
  • Skills.

Create a Compelling Introduction Card 

The top part of your profile is called the introduction card. The introduction card includes your:

  • Name
  • Headline
  • Profile photo
  • Banner image
  • Current position
  • Education
  • Location
  • Contact info.

Your introduction card is the first thing clients see when they click on your profile. Make sure that your headline is compelling and your photo and banner image are professional and clear.

Use a Professional Photo

Experts say that people with profile photos get 14-21 times more profile views than people without photos. And having a professional photo on your LinkedIn profile makes it much more likely that clients will take you seriously. A professional photo shows the client that you’re a professional and that you’re worth the money they’ll pay for your services.

It’s best to hire a professional photographer to take your photo, which you can also use on your website and in other marketing. A professional photographer will make you look your best, even if you’re like me and hate to be photographed.

If you don’t hire a pro, don’t use a selfie. Make sure the background for your photo is neutral and clean. Make sure your face is centered and there’s a little space over your head. Don’t include your pet or kids in your LinkedIn photo. The photo size is 400 x 400 pixels, with a maximum size of 10MB.

Include Your Location and Industry

Include your location and your industry, which is a key part of LinkedIn’s search algorithm. To add your industry, click edit on your introduction card and scroll down to Industry.

Use an Effective Banner Image

The banner image, sometimes called the cover photo, is the bar at the top of your profile that includes your photo. The default banner image is fine. If you use a custom image, make sure it’s clear and looks great as part of your profile on computers, smart phones, and tablets. The banner image size is 1,584 x 396 pixels, with a maximum size of 4MB.

Include Your Contact Info

Make it easy for clients to contact you by including at least your email address and, if you’re comfortable, your phone number in Contact info and again in About. Also include your website in both places. This is basic, but freelancers often forget to do this. To add your contact details, go to the bottom of your introduction card and click on Contact info.

Create a Compelling Profile

Attract clients with your profile and make them want to know more about you with client-focused marketing messages, and a powerful headline and About section.

Use Your Brand and Client-Focused Marketing Messages

Stand out in a sea of freelancers, and persuade clients to choose you instead of another freelancer by using your brand statement and client-focused marketing messages.

Here’s the formula for your freelance brand statement again:


Use this to develop client-focused marketing messages for your LinkedIn profile and your website.

In your LinkedIn profile, you’ll use these marketing messages in your headline and your About section. Read the rest of this step and Step 8. Then go back to Step 2 and work on your brand statement and marketing messages.

Focus on Your Headline

The most important part of your LinkedIn profile is the headline. You can use up to 220 characters to attract clients and make them want to learn more about you. You don’t have to use all 220 characters. The old LinkedIn limit of 120 characters, or a little longer, is plenty for a compelling, client-focused headline.

Clearly say what you do and how you help your clients. Use relevant keywords to rank higher in search results, especially “freelancer” and “freelance [writer, editor, etc.]” and your services. You can also include the type of clients you work with or other key information.

Here are a few examples of dull and compelling client-focused headlines:

Lori De Milto 
President at LDM Company

Lori De Milto 
Freelance medical writer of targeted content, on time, every time

Bob Smith 
Independent business owner

Bob Smith
Freelance writer specializing in helping financial services companies attract and retain customers and clients

Jane Jones 

Jane Jones 
Freelance editor, delivering clear, accurate content to help small businesses succeed

Engage Clients in About

The About section is the second most important part of your profile after your headline. And the first 220-270 characters with spaces count most. That’s what shows before clients have to click see more. On mobile devices, about 102-167 characters show.

Make sure the first 220-270 characters build on your headline and offer a clear, concise client-focused message. Put as much of your key message as you can in the first 102-167 characters to attract clients viewing your profile on a smart phone or tablet.

Here are a few examples of the beginning of About sections that will bore or drive away clients and what do to instead:

Boring or Worthless 
I’m actively seeking clients who need someone to write their medical documents. I work on . . .

Count on me for medical content that engages your target audiences. I help healthcare marketers and health organizations effectively communicate with patients, providers, and other audiences. (192 characters)

Boring or Worthless
I own MyLastName Company. I have skills that are rare among freelance writers and am passionate. . . .

Irresistible content helps businesses attract more clients and customers. As a freelance copywriter, I write irresistible websites, blogs, and other online content to help you build your business. (196 characters)

Boring or Worthless  
I have been working as a freelance editor since November 2014. I enjoy editing . . .

As a freelance editor who specializes in working with small businesses, I deliver clear, accurate content that will help you impress your clients and customers—without spending a fortune. (189 characters)

Use the Right Keywords

Continue to use the keywords that clients are likely to use to search for a freelancer like you throughout About. Clients often look for keywords related to titles, so use “freelancer” instead of “freelance services,” and “freelance medical writer” (or “freelance ADD YOUR FIELD HERE”) instead of “freelance medical writing.”

Use other keywords related to your services that people will search for, like the type of clients you work with, your key services, and industry-specific keywords.

Include Just Enough Key Content

Focus the rest of About on how you help your clients meet their needs. Briefly summarize your services and your relevant experience and background. Use bulleted lists for your services and anything else that works well in a list. Include some samples of your freelance work under Featured.

Include a Call to Action

A call to action tells clients what you want them to do. The call to action can invite clients to call or email you, visit your website, connect on LinkedIn, or any combination of these. Include a call to action, with your contact information, at the end of About.

Include a Featured Section

The Featured section lets you display your best work to anyone who looks at your LinkedIn profile. Below About and above Activity, you can use Featured to display your:

  • Work samples
  • Website
  • LinkedIn posts or articles.

You can add, delete, or edit the order of content in Featured. If you don’t have samples or anything else that’s relevant to add yet, that’s okay. It’s better to have no Featured section than one that doesn’t make you look good.

Highlight Your Experience

This is the section for your positions. Your freelance business is your current position. Include “freelance” in your title followed by what you do (e.g., freelance writer or editor). And you can repeat some of the information from About here. Continue to include relevant keywords.

If you’ve had professional jobs before becoming a freelancer, list at least two of them here. Include details about your work and achievements. Focus on what’s most relevant to your freelance work and your target clients. If the organizations you worked for are impressive, include a brief description of each.

And if you haven’t had two other professional jobs, include other relevant work experience here, such as college internships or part-time work. To add/edit experience go to the Experience section. To edit a job, click the edit pencil to the right of the job. To add a new job, click the + on the right of Experience.

Include Education, Skills, and Projects

Your education, which is necessary for a complete profile, helps you highlight your expertise and experience. LinkedIn says you need at least three skills for a complete profile. People with at least 5 skills get 17 times more profile views than people without skills, say some experts. And listing skills is another way to rank higher in search results. To add/edit skills, scroll down to Skills & Endorsements then click on Add a new skill.

Adding relevant projects that you’ve worked on lets you highlight your skills and experience and helps you rank higher in search results. You can include projects from school here, which is helpful to recent college graduates. To add/edit projects, go to the Accomplishments section, then click on the + on the right for the dropdown menu, and choose Projects.

Include Other Relevant LinkedIn Profile Sections

Other sections of your profile that are also helpful for freelancers are licenses and certifications, courses, publications, honors and awards, and organizations. To add any of these:

  • Click on Add Profile Section in your introduction card.
  • Choose the section you want to add.
  • Add the information.

Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile

As you’re finishing your profile, proof for errors and visual appeal, create a custom URL, and make sure your profile is publicly visible. Proof your LinkedIn profile carefully for errors on mobile devices and computers. Make sure it looks great on smart phones, tablets, and computers.

Make it easier for clients to find you with a custom LinkedIn URL. This also makes you look more professional. To create a custom URL:

  • Click Edit Your Custom URL on the right of your profile.
  • Add your name after linkedin.com/in/.

If you want clients to find you on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is switched on for public visibility. To do this:

  • Go to Edit Visibility on the right of your profile.
  • Turn On next to Your public profile’s visibility.  

Learn More About LinkedIn Profiles

FREE TOOL: Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Checklist for Freelancers 
The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile for Freelance Success This Year


Step 8.  Create a Client-Focused Website

Just as clients expect freelancers to be on LinkedIn, they expect us to have websites too. An awesome, client-focused website shows clients that you’re the right choice for them and shows colleagues that you’re a professional who will do a great job if they refer work to you.

 An awesome, client-focused website will:

  • Impress clients and colleagues by showing them you understand client needs
  • Highlight your expertise, skills, and work (mostly through samples)
  • Show that you’re a professional who is running a business.

Do Less Marketing   

If you have a client-focused website, you’ll be able to do less marketing—because your website will do the work for you. When clients contact you, they’ll already know a lot about you and your services. So you won’t have to actively “sell yourself,” the part of marketing that freelancers hate most.

Whether you’re creating your first freelance website or updating your website, remember that clients only care about how you can help them meet their needs. Your website content needs to quickly tell them:

  • What you do (your services)
  • Who you do it for (your target clients)
  • How what you do benefits clients.

Getting the attention of clients fast is key. When people view a website, they spend about 50 milliseconds (0.05 second) deciding whether they like it and will stay or leave, according to a study published in Behavior & Information Technology.

Your content and design need to work together to clearly show how you help clients. If your freelance website doesn’t do this—and many freelance websites don’t—the client will quickly reject you and move on to the next freelancer on their list.

Create an Awesome Freelance Website

You only need two things to attract steady, high-paying clients with your website: Content that’s compelling, clear, and focused on client needs and design that’s amazing (visually engaging, clear, and easy to navigate).

Use your client-focused marketing messages from Step 2 to create awesome content, and your brand to create amazing design. Read the rest of this step. Then go back and work on your brand statement and marketing messages.

If you already have a freelance website, it might be time for an update. Website design and content change. And most freelance businesses evolve over time.

Here’s what you need to do to attract steady, high-paying clients and get more referrals from colleagues—even in bad times:

  • Focus on client needs
  • Be compelling
  • Be clear
  • Write scannable content
  • Include the essential content for freelancers.

If you already have a client-focused LinkedIn profile, you should have much of the information you need for your web content. 

Write Compelling, Clear, and Client-Focused Content

Use client-focused marketing messages, include the essential web pages for freelancers, and write conversational, concise, and scannable content.

Compel Clients with Key Messages

Use your key client-focused marketing messages in your banner heads, banner subheads, blurbs (brief descriptions), and other subheads to highlight the benefits clients get when they work with you. A banner is the horizontal bar near the top of every web page on many modern website designs.

Include the Essential Web Pages for Freelancers

These are the essential web pages for freelancers:

  • Home
  • About
  • Services
  • Samples, Portfolio, or Work
  • Testimonials, Clients, or Testimonials and Clients.

You can combine and organize Services; Portfolio, Samples, or Work; and Testimonials, Clients, or Testimonials and Clients in different ways. I cover this below.

Your Home Page

Together, your Home page content and design quickly answer the only question that clients really care about: What’s In It For Me? Your Home page tells them:

  • What you do (your services)
  • Who you do it for (your target clients)
  • How what you do benefits clients.

You’ll draft your Home page last. But you should be thinking about your Home page as you write the rest of your content.

A compelling, client-focused freelance website Home page includes:

  • A header banner with your key message and a subhead (or blurb)
  • Images that contribute to your key messages (or no images)
  • Shortcut boxes
  • A clear call to action with your contact information
  • A design that’s optimized for multiple screens.

Logos and a banner are relevant, effective images for a freelancer’s Home page. A logo is a visual way to represent your business. A tagline is a memorable phrase or sentence that helps your target clients understand what you do.

If you don’t have a logo and want one, your web designer should be able to help you develop one or refer you to a designer who specializes in logo design.

A banner is a great way to highlight your key message on your Home page and quickly tell clients what they want to know. It supports both client-focused content and amazing design. The banner on your Home page is usually bigger than the banner on the other pages.

Make sure that any image you include in your banner is relevant and that your key message is clear. Freelance writers and editors often have banner images that obscure their key message, because they’re not designers. Sometimes the images they use make no sense.

Either of these problems will drive clients away—in less than the blink of an eye. Hiring a professional designer, which I cover below, will prevent this problem.

Home page shortcut boxes add more visual appeal to a website and let you highlight key content quickly. Each shortcut box is linked to a page on your website. You can use up to about 30 characters (with spaces) in the headline of a shortcut box and up to about 115 characters (with spaces) in each blurb.

Make it easy for clients to contact you with a clear call to action, your contact information, and a link to your Contact page. A call to action says what you want clients to do, for example, “Call or email me today.” The bar at the bottom of your Home page (and every page) is a great place for your call to action and contact information.

More and more people are using smart phones and tablets to view websites. Data can be slower on mobile devices and how fast your website loads matters. A professional website designer will take care of this for you and provide other technical assistance.


Start the About page with one to three sentences about how the client would benefit by working with you. Then, briefly include the most relevant (to clients) information about your:

  • Experience
  • Education
  • Awards and honors
  • Other professional accomplishments.

If you want to provide more information, link to a subpage with your resume or a longer bio. Include a professional headshot.


Services is an easy page to write. Select categories based on the type of work you do and use bulleted lists for services under each category. So sample categories could include:

  • Services (e.g., writing, editing, consulting, publication management, and training)
  • Projects (e.g., articles, blogs, continuing medical education, white papers, newsletters, social media, and web content)

Areas of expertise, topic areas, or therapeutic areas (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, banking, and financial planning).

Samples, Portfolio, or Work

This is another easy page to write. If you have samples you can share, use categories that make it easy for clients to find what they’re most interested in. Also use categories that let you highlight the type of work you most want to do.

If your work is proprietary, instead of samples, use a project list and/or brief project descriptions to show what you’ve done. Write about what you’ve done and the type of clients you work with without mentioning names of clients or specific projects.

If you’re a new freelancer, put a little information about your work on your Services page instead of having a separate page for this. Add a few paragraphs with some project descriptions and/or use samples like:

  • LinkedIn articles
  • Volunteer work for professional associations
  • School projects
  • Spec samples (a speculative sample that’s like a project you want to work on).

Clients and Testimonials

The Clients content is also easy to develop. Choose categories that let you highlight your most important services and interests, such as industries or types of work. Or just list your clients. Using a partial list of clients, under a subhead Sample Clients or Select Clients, is a good idea.

If you’re a new freelancer, you won’t have a Clients page yet. That’s fine. Add it when you’re ready. If you only have a few clients, instead of a separate page, add a Sample Clients section on your Services page.

What others say about you is far more powerful than what you say about yourself. Testimonials from satisfied clients help you attract more clients—because new clients want to know that other clients value your work.

You can combine Testimonials with Clients on one page, have two separate pages, or sprinkle testimonials throughout your website.

If you’re a new freelancer, you won’t have testimonials, or enough testimonials for a separate page yet. If you have one to three testimonials, sprinkle them throughout your website. Add a Testimonials page when you have about five testimonials.

Contact Information

Make it easy for clients to get in touch with you with contact information that’s easy to find. Use a simple Contact page. Include your name, email address, and phone number. I recommend that you also include your city and state, to help show that you’re running a real business.

Start your Contact page with a call to action (what you want the client to do). A call to action starts with a phrase or sentence that urges the prospect to take action now, like “Contact me today.”

And include your email address and phone number on every page. The bottom of each page is a great place for this.

Write for the Web

Writing web content is very different than other types of writing. Web users:

  • Scan, reading only 20%-28% of the average web page
  • Stay on an average page less than a minute
  • Often stay on a web page 10 seconds or less.

So if clients don’t find what they need on your website fast, they’ll leave—and move on to the next freelancer on their list.

Be Conversational, Concise, and Scannable

Along with compelling, clear, and client-focused content, you need to write for the Web:

  • Write like you’re having a conversation with someone.
  • Put your key marketing messages and other important information first.
  • Be concise.
  • Use banners, heads, and subheads to make your content scannable and help convey your key marketing messages.
  • Keep paragraphs short and sentences simple. On the Web, a one-sentence paragraph is fine.
  • Use simple, familiar words that your target clients understand.
  • Avoid jargon, and avoid or limit acronyms and abbreviations.
  • Use the active voice and lots of verbs.
  • Use bulleted lists, where appropriate.

Highlight Your Content with a Professional Design

If your content is compelling but your design isn’t visually engaging and clear, clients will move on to the other freelancers on their list. Here’s the truth. Many websites of freelance writers and editors have awful designs.

These websites look like they were designed by an amateur—because they were. Templates in drag-and-drop website builders like Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix make it seem like it’s very easy to design your own website. But if you don’t have knowledge of good design and the technical ability to adapt templates to a freelancer’s needs, your website will be amateurish.

Don’t Drive Away Clients 

Often, freelancers design their own websites because they think it’s cheaper than hiring a professional designer. But it may not be. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then it’s cheaper to hire a designer—because you’ll lose a lot of billable time by trying to design your own website. And you can’t put a price tag on the clients you’ll lose if your freelance website drives clients away.

Work with a professional website designer who has experience working with freelancers. Your designer will create a customized, visually engaging website for you. He/she will know how to modify templates to your needs and incorporate your brand to help you stand out in a sea of freelancers.

You’ll get back the upfront cost of paying for a designer many times over because your website will help you get steady, high-paying clients. And your designer can help you with the technical aspects of launching your website and dealing with those inevitable tech issues.

Key Elements in Freelance Website Design

Some elements of compelling web content, like heads and subheads, also contribute to amazing web design. Head and subheads let you use words and design to grab the attention of your target clients fast. Focus your heads and subheads on the needs of your clients and how you meet those needs. Clearly and concisely say what you do and how this benefits clients.

  • Other key design elements are:
  • Images that help you convey your key messages, instead of leaving clients wondering why they’re on your website
  • Design that looks good on different screen sizes (smart phones, tablets, and computers)
  • Home page shortcut boxes
  • Fonts that are easy to read online
  • Colors that create balance and harmony, and make reading online easy
  • Design that loads quickly, so you don’t lose clients
  • Easy-to-find contact information and a clear call to action.

How to Work with a Professional Website Designer

Getting recommendations from people you know and trust is the best way to find a professional website designer. When you see a freelancer’s website that you like, email him/her to ask who designed it. Also ask about your colleague’s experience working with the designer. Some designers are very talented, but they don’t listen to what you want.

Stay away from sites like fiverr when you look for a website designer. While the low price may seem attractive, your website won’t be customized to your business, and it won’t be nearly as effective in attracting high-paying clients.

Website designers know what makes good and bad design. So treat your website designer with respect and listen to his/her advice. But also be firm about what works best for a freelance business. For example, some designers insist on including a contact form and a blog, because business websites are “supposed” to have these features. Just say no.

Sometimes designers insist on a certain theme or design features because that’s the way they always do things. If it’s not what you want, just say no.

Be honest about what you like and don’t like when you’re working with your designer. Otherwise, you won’t get the website you want. 

Use Your Website to Market Your Business

Put a link to your website or your URL on all marketing materials, including your email signature, LinkedIn profile, and business cards. Including your website on your LinkedIn profile is very effective because a client who’s reading your profile is just one click away from your website. Make sure you put your URL under Contact info in your introduction card and again in About.

Learn More About Websites for Freelancers

FREE TOOL: Awesome Freelance Website Checklist 
Why a Website Designer Can Help You Get High-Paying Clients 
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at 3 Professional and Awesome Websites


Step 9. Meet People Who Can Help and Hire You

Who you know—a.k.a. your network—can be more important than anything else in getting steady, high-paying clients.

If you’re like most freelancers, networking is stressful—even scary. Many of us are shy. We like to work alone and usually dread leaving the safe cocoon of our offices to go to a networking event. Even virtual networking can feel uncomfortable.

But you need a strong, strategic network because clients use networking to find freelancers they can trust. If you’re not in their network or the network of someone they know, they can’t find you.

With the right networking attitude and some knowledge about what works best, networking will be easier and less stressful. It can even be fun. And like other marketing, the more you practice, the easier it will be.

Develop the Right Networking Attitude

Most freelancers, including me when I was starting out, don’t understand networking. So we have a bad attitude about it. And this makes networking harder for us. Once you understand networking, you’ll become more comfortable doing it. And you’ll get better at it.

Here’s the truth. Networking isn’t about “selling yourself.” It’s about getting to know people. Trying to sell your services—what we think we’re supposed to do—doesn’t work. And it’s very stressful.

But when you focus on getting to know people, networking is so much easier! You’re listening to the other person/people and asking questions. The pressure is off.

Give More than You Take

Giving more than you take is my golden rule of networking for freelancers. When you focus on getting to know other people and helping them without expecting anything in return, networking is so much easier.

And there’s proof that this works. In his best-selling book Give and Take, Wharton Management Professor Adam Grant reported that people who give their time, knowledge, ideas, and connections to others without expecting anything in return (“givers”) are more successful than people who think it’s a dog-eat-dog world and focus only on self-promotion (“takers”). Grant’s research shows that nice guys (and gals) can finish first, not last.

By giving, we build trust and establish our credibility. The result, over time, is more referrals and more new clients. Ways to give include sending links to useful content, connecting colleagues to other people who can help them, and referring other freelancers to clients.

The Little-Known Personality Type that Makes Networking Easier

Being an introvert makes networking scary and harder. But most freelancers who think they’re introverts are actually ambiverts. Ambiverts are part introvert and part extrovert. It’s easier for us to network than it is for introverts or extroverts because we know when to talk and when to listen. Introverts are too quiet and extroverts talk too much. But ambiverts are just right.

Find out what you are by looking up online and taking The Quiet Revolution Personality Test. Even if you find out you are an introvert, a little attitude adjustment can make networking easier for you.

Build a Strategic Network

Be nice to everyone you meet, but be strategic about how—and where—you spend most of your networking time. Focus on the people and places that will be most useful to you. But remember to give more to the people in your network than you take from them.

Spend most of your networking time and effort building relationships with the people who you think can become part of your strategic network, not meeting lots of new people briefly.

Focus on Other Freelancers

Make other freelancers a key part of your strategic network. They’re a great source of advice and support, along with referrals.

Other freelancers can help you learn what to do—and what not to do—in running your freelance business. They can help you handle difficult clients and decide whether a freelance opportunity is right for you. And they can provide support when things aren’t going well and celebrate successes with you.

Go to the Right Places

Go to places where clients are likely to look for your type of freelancer, especially professional associations. You can do some strategic networking online through LinkedIn, social networks of professional associations, and other online forums for freelancers. But in-person networking is best for building strong relationships when you can do it.

Tap into the Power of Referrals

Word of mouth, a.k.a. referrals, is really powerful. In my 2023 survey of how freelancers market their services, freelancers said that networking, where many referrals come from, was the #1 source of their best clients. Other surveys of freelancers and other small business owners have shown similar results.

Yet, just 31% of freelancers surveyed said they get at least 51% of their business from referrals. And 43% of freelancers get less than 25% of their business from referrals.

Freelancers get referrals from satisfied clients and colleagues. When you do great work, clients will start to refer you to their colleagues, within their organization and at other organizations. This step focuses on referrals from colleagues, especially other freelancers.

Be Active in Professional Associations

Professional associations are the easiest way to get referrals because they’re full of people who are working in your specialty(ies). You’ll meet colleagues and other freelancers who can refer work to you—and prospective clients too. When clients need freelancers they can trust, they often ask colleagues in their professional associations for recommendations.

Build Trust Fast by Volunteering

Volunteering for your professional associations is the quickest way to build the trusting relationships that lead to referrals, and to impress the prospective clients you meet. And if you’re like most freelancers, volunteering is much easier than other types of networking.

Look for information about volunteering on the websites of your professional associations. If you don’t find it, just email one of the officers and say that you’d like to volunteer. By joining and being active in professional associations, you’ll also be able to learn about your ideal clients and find ideal clients for your marketing.

Find the Right Professional Associations

Ask your freelance friends and your clients which professional associations they belong to and would recommend. Use the Directory of Associations to search for professional associations.

Before joining a professional association, check out the website and available resources, and try to go to a meeting or conference. Sometimes though, you just have to join a professional association for a year and see what you think.

Master Networking Events

Meeting people in person at networking events is the best way to begin to build strong, trusting relationships. And people won’t hire you or refer work to you unless they trust you. Networking events are especially important for meeting other freelancers.

Conferences let you make lots of key contacts in a few days and deepen relationships with current key contacts. And, of course, the conference content helps you stay updated with your industry or field and learn things to better manage your freelance business.

Networking events don’t have to be scary. If you prepare before the event, and do the right things during the event, it will be much easier—and more effective. To build a strategic network, you also need to do the right things after the event.

Before the Networking Event

Prepare for the networking event by knowing how you’ll introduce yourself, bringing business cards, and dressing to impress clients and colleagues. Your elevator speech is what you say so that people understand—in 30 seconds or less—what you do and how you help your clients. Include:

  • The benefit clients get when they work with you
  • What you do (your services)
  • Who you work with (type of clients).

Your business card is a powerful ad for your business—and a way for people to remember you.

Make sure your cards are clear, high-quality, and error-free. And make sure you have a complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile and/or website to impress the people you’re meeting when they check you out later.

How you dress for networking matters—a lot. People form opinions about you within a few seconds, based on your appearance.

And when you look good, you boost your self-esteem. This makes networking easier. Business casual works for most networking events, unless your clients and industry require more professional dress.

During the Networking Event

Go to the networking event with a positive attitude. Focus on giving more than you take.

Smile. This will relax you and make it easier for other people to talk to you. Pay attention to how you look and sound when you meet people. This matters much more than what you say.

How much someone likes you, according to research by Albert Mehrabian, professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA, depends on:

  • Appearance and body language: about 55%
  • Tone, volume, and cadence of voice: about 38%
  • What you say: just 7%.

Talk to people

Most people will be happy if you talk to them. Many, especially other freelancers, are shy. So be brave, and do this yourself. Talk to people who you meet in line and people you sit next to at a presentation, session, or meal.

Prepare what you’ll say when you first meet someone. Here are a few ideas:

  • Why did you decide to come to this conference?
  • What sessions are you attending?
  • How did you come to be a [WHATEVER THE PERSON DOES]?
  • What do you like best about your work?
  • You can also start a conversation by mentioning something about the person or simply saying hi:
  • Wow, I love your [NECKLACE, TIE, ETC].
  • “Hi. I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Lori.”

Know how to end a conversation 

Ending a conversation is harder than starting one. Here are some nice ways to do this:

  • It’s been so nice talking to you! Do you have a card?
  • I don’t want to keep you from everyone else, but let’s connect. Here’s my card.
  • I need to run to my session. Take care!

Take breaks when you need to. Being around other people all day can be exhausting for freelancers who are used to working alone.

Be reasonable about what you expect to get out of networking events. You’re not going to leave the event with a bunch of new clients. The real results of networking come from building relationships with people after the event.

After the Networking Event

Follow up and stay in touch regularly with the people you’re meeting. That’s where the real results of networking will come from. Soon after the event, follow up with people you think could be helpful to you (and you to them). Do this by inviting each person to join your LinkedIn network and/or sending an email to say “nice to meet you.”

Stay in touch with your new contacts and key contacts you already know regularly so that:

  • Clients think of you first when they need a freelancer
  • Colleagues think of you first when they have freelance work to share.

Be polite and professional, and focus mostly on providing your contacts with useful information and resources. Once or twice a year, mention your freelance services.

Master Virtual Networking

While I doubt that virtual networking will ever be as helpful as in-person networking, it has become more popular as a result of the pandemic. Also, virtual networking takes a lot less time than attending live conferences and other networking events.

Great ways for freelancers to network virtually include LinkedIn, social networks of professional associations, and forums for freelancers. Like in-person networking, focus on giving more than you take in virtual networking.

Networking on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is becoming a more popular way for freelancers to network. Having a big, relevant network (500+ connections) and being active on LinkedIn help you:

  • Rank higher in search results when clients are looking for freelancers
  • Showcase your expertise to clients and colleagues
  • Build your network of freelancers who can provide advice and support
  • Learn how to better manage your business.

Of the top five criteria LinkedIn uses in providing search results, common connections with the person who is doing the search is #2. So having at least 500 relevant connections really helps you rank high in search results when clients are looking for freelancers.

And a network of 500 relevant connections could give you access to at least 250,000 people, including lots of potential clients. Relevant connections are:

  • Clients
  • Other freelancers you know
  • Freelancers and other colleagues from your professional associations you haven’t met yet

Other people working in your industry(ies) or target markets.

If you don’t know a lot of people yet, don’t worry. By being active (covered next), you’ll meet relevant people you can invite to connect with you.

LinkedIn has three levels of connections: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree. The closer your connections are with the person who is doing the search, the higher you’ll rank in search results.

1st-degree connections are direct connections. Either you invited the person to connect with you or he/she invited you to connect with him/her. 1st-degree connections:

  • See each other’s connections (usually; this depends on the settings each person uses)
  • Can send direct messages for free
  • Automatically follow each other.

2nd-degree connections are connections of your 1st-degree connections. Having access to these people can give you a huge network. Say that you have 500 1st-degree connections, who each have 500 1st-degree connections. Your network is now 250,000 connections.

3rd-degree connections are people who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. If their first and last names show on their profile, you can click Connect to invite them to be part of your network. If only the first letter of their last name shows, you won’t have an option to click Connect. You can’t message them for free.

Following or Connecting

Following means that you will see some of the person’s content. When members choose Creator mode, Following is the default. You can still connect with these people. To do this:

Click on the person’s profile.

At the bottom of the introduction card, click More.

Choose Connect.

Add a personal note to invite the person to connect with you.

LinkedIn has a very complicated algorithm for deciding which content to show you. If you want to keep seeing a connection’s content, follow them and comment on it regularly.

Always Send Personal Invitations

Always add a personal note when you invite someone to connect with you. Mention what you have in common or why you want to connect. For example, you could write:

“I see we’re both freelance writers and I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn.”


“I loved your post on XYZ. Please join my LinkedIn network.”

If the person is a potential client, mention something about his/her career or company or something you have in common (like graduating from the same college).

Never click Connect under People You May Know. LinkedIn will automatically send the default invite. Instead, search for the person by name and click on his/her profile. Then click Connect, and LinkedIn will prompt you to add a personal note.

LinkedIn’s mobile app doesn’t prompt you to add a personal note to connection invites. But there’s an easy way to do this. Search for the person you want to invite. Click More. Click Personalize invite.

Be Active

Of the top five criteria LinkedIn uses in providing search results, activity is #4. Activity means sharing content and engaging with other people on your content and their content. Always be professional on LinkedIn.

Once you get used to sharing and engaging, it only takes about 10 minutes a day (Monday through Friday) to get results. Review your LinkedIn feed—the content that shows up when you click on your LinkedIn Home page—2-3 times a day. Comment on relevant posts by relevant people. And you don’t have to do this every day. If you’re super busy, it’s okay to skip a day or two.

There are several ways to engage with other people: like, comment, repost, or send (to a specific person/people). 

Commenting is the best way to engage others, and it’s easy to do. Just read the post and write a meaningful comment. Look for relevant posts by relevant people, like potential clients and other freelancers, to comment on.

Every comment is a mini-ad for your business because your name and the beginning of your headline show before your comment, along with your photo. This is one of the reasons why you need a compelling, client-focused headline (Step 6).

Once you’re comfortable on LinkedIn, share relevant content in posts twice a week. Relevant content includes:

  • Advice and tips about relevant topics and industries
  • News and updates about your industry or specialty(ies)
  • Comments and opinions on newsworthy topics or industry news.

Choose a few topics that interest you and your audience. For example, I post mostly about freelancing; productivity; mindset; and health, medicine and medical writing. If you consistently post about a few topics, then LinkedIn is more likely to show your posts to more people. And you’ll build a reputation as an authority on those topics.

In your post include at least a few sentences about the content, usually with a link to the full content (news, blog post, etc.). Use an image to increase the number of views and engagement. Also include your perspective or insights on what you’re sharing.

Sign up for e-newsletters, and you’ll have a steady stream of content ideas coming to your inbox. Professional associations are also a great source of relevant content you can share. You can also use this content to follow up with interested clients, clients, and freelance friends (Step 10).

Most of what you share should be non-promotional. When you do promote something related to your freelance work, make sure it’s relevant to your connections.

Prompt LinkedIn to share your posts more widely and increase engagement by responding to every comment people make on them. Very few people do this, so if you do, you’ll stand out. And people who comment on your posts are likely to accept an invite to connect from you.

Other Social Networks

The basic principles of building a relevant network and sharing useful content are the same for LinkedIn, social networks of professional associations (sometimes called online communities), and forums for freelancers. But these social networks and forums have more rules and guidelines than LinkedIn.

On LinkedIn, more than modest self-promotion and asking for business is bad. On other social networks and forums, it’s not allowed. Members are supposed to share and solicit advice and provide information that other members can use.

Here are two rules from two different professional association online communities I’m part of:

  • “Do not self-promote any individual, company, product, or service.”
  • “Do not post self-promotional messages, including offering services and seeking jobs (whether paid or unpaid).”

Learn More About Networking

Why Other Freelancers Should Be Your Best Friends 
12 Ways to Make Networking Events Amazing, Not Scary 
6 Tips that Will Help You Succeed in Virtual Networking


Step 10. Be First in Line for Freelance Work

Up to 90% of the time, clients aren’t ready to hire a freelancer when you first contact them. If you follow up, you’ll be first in line when they are ready to hire a freelancer. Staying in touch with current clients and colleagues also helps you get more freelance work.

Many freelancers miss out on getting steady, high-paying clients because they never or rarely follow up with clients who’ve expressed interest in their services but haven’t hired them. The single most important thing you can do to get these clients is to stay in touch with them regularly.

Here’s why. Freelancers provide B2B (business to business) services. Even if your clients are non-profit organizations, universities, or other organizations that aren’t businesses, the B2B rules still apply.

How Clients Buy Freelance Services

Clients rarely buy B2B services the first time they hear from a freelancer (or any business). That’s why sending one direct email and hoping that the client will hire you someday rarely works—even if the client said they were interested in your services. Marketing Charts says that 74.6% of customers take at least 4 months to buy a service or product and 46.4% take 7 months or more.

Most salespeople—79%—give up somewhere between the first and second follow-up, says Josh Turner in The Trust Equation. Now, I know freelancers aren’t salespeople.  Salespeople are trained in selling, and they like to do this. We don’t. Even if 79% of freelancers give up after one or two contacts—and I’m sure the percentage is much higher—that’s good news for you. If you follow up, you’ll stand out.

Be First in Line When Clients Need a Freelancer

Clients who say they’ll put you in their freelance database or keep you in mind for future freelance jobs aren’t lying to you or blowing you off. They just don’t need freelance help right now.

These clients are likely to hire you within a year or so if they think of you first when they’re ready to hire a freelancer. Here are two of my stories.

A few years ago, I worked on a big project for an Ivy League nursing school. It was so big that I had to bring in three other freelancers to help me. My contact there was someone I had worked with at another organization. He had been on my follow-up list for about a year when he called me.

After the project ended, he called me “an absolute pleasure to work with” and told me that he “couldn’t be happier with the final product.” But he didn’t need any more freelance help.

I kept him on my e-newsletter list and sent him a card at the holidays. Two years later, when a colleague at the nursing school needed help with another big project, he referred them to me. The colleague hired me after one email because she trusted the referral from my contact.

Another client, who I’ve been working with since 1998, hired me nearly two years after he first said he wanted to work with me. Between my first contact with this client and when he hired me, I had been following up regularly. Other freelancers who follow up regularly have similar stories.

Also follow up regularly with current and inactive clients and colleagues, especially other freelancers. Following up with current and inactive clients can lead to more freelance work.

And staying in touch with colleagues can lead to referrals. When I hear about a freelance opportunity that’s not right for me, the freelancers I think of first for the referral are those who have been in touch with me, or me with them, most often and most recently.  

Do Professional and Targeted Follow-Up

If your follow-up is professional, you won’t be bothering or annoying anyone. Clients often appreciate the follow-up because they need great freelancers—even if they didn’t need you when you first contacted them. When times are bad, follow up is even more important because clients hire fewer freelancers for fewer projects.

One of my new clients recently thanked me for following up with him (for the third time) because he had “a million things going on.” Keeping in touch helped him remember that he wanted to work with me.

An Easy and Efficient Way to Get Clients

Targeted follow-up isn’t about selling yourself. In fact, most of the time, you shouldn’t even mention your freelance services.

And it doesn’t take long. Depending on how many people you’re following up with, targeted follow-up should take you about two to five hours a month.

Most of your follow-up should be customized to the client organization or your contact person, or your freelance friend. Commenting on news is an easy way to do customized follow-up about clients or the contact person.

Ways to find news to comment on include Google alerts, the company’s Newsroom page, and LinkedIn posts. Another easy way to customize follow-up is by sharing relevant content like blog posts, reports, and podcasts. And while you’ll send the content to each contact person individually, you can usually use the same content for multiple contacts.

Sharing relevant content is a great way to follow up with freelance friends too. And if your freelance friends do similar work, you can send the same content individually to multiple freelancers.

Sign up for e-newsletters in your industry(ies) and target markets so this content comes right to your inbox and you don’t have to waste time searching for it. Also use this content in LinkedIn posts.

Generic follow-up—sending the same thing to everyone—works too. Developing your own e-newsletter is a great way to follow up with everyone on your list at the same time. Most of the content in an e-newsletter is useful and relevant, not promotional.

An e-newsletter lets you highlight your expertise and preferred work. For example, I love doing content marketing for hospitals, healthcare marketing agencies, etc. The feature story in a recent issue of my e-newsletter, Engage!,  focused on why patients don’t understand health content. The story shows that I understand patients and can help my clients communicate with them. 

A Friendly Reminder About Your Freelance Services

Once or twice a year, it’s fine to send interested clients and inactive clients a friendly reminder that you’re available for freelance work. But this must be part of your follow-up process and not the only time you contact these clients. Send a professional, low-key email.

You can also send a similar email to your freelance friends. Let them know what type of work you’re looking for and ask about what type of work they’re looking for. Only do this as part of your follow-up process.

Develop Your Simple Follow-Up Process

Now you know how to follow up with interested clients, current clients, inactive clients, and freelance friends. Next, you need to develop a simple process to make it easy to follow up regularly. Consistent follow-up requires three things: (1) Developing a list, (2) Scheduling the time, and (3) Developing your content library.

Put your targeted follow-up list in a tracker with a schedule for following up. You can do your tracker in a spreadsheet, a database, a Word document, or any other format that works for you. Record each follow-up, and any response you get, in your tracker.

Mark time for follow-up on your calendar—and treat it like a deadline for a client. Get it done.

Block out 30-60 minutes a week to look for news and review content for your content library (covered below) and 2-4 hours a month for following up with people (depending on how many people are on your list). Here’s what I recommend for your follow-up schedule:

  • Interested clients: About every 2 months
  • Inactive clients: About every 3 months
  • Clients: About every 3-5 months if you’re working with them regularly
  • Freelance friends and other colleagues: About every 3-4 months.

Having a content library ensures that you’ll have lots of content (blog posts, reports, podcasts, etc.) ready when you need it. Stock your library (a folder on your computer with the content or a list of links to content) with:

  • E-newsletters that are relevant to your clients
  • Relevant LinkedIn updates (I get lots of content for follow-up through LinkedIn)
  • Resources from your professional associations.

If something is timely, like an upcoming webinar, send it along right away. Otherwise, file it away for your scheduled follow-up.

Review Your Follow-Up Results

At least once a year, review your targeted follow-up list. Many experts recommend staying in touch with people for about two years. If you haven’t received any response from an interested or inactive client after that, you can take the person off your list.

But there are many stories about freelancers who got a steady, high-paying client after years of follow-up. So if you really want to work with a particular client who hasn’t responded to your targeted follow-up, it may be worthwhile to keep that client on your list.

Add new interested clients, current clients, and colleagues to your follow-up list whenever you get or meet them. Keep all clients on your targeted follow-up list.

Learn More About Targeted Follow-Up

1 Easy Way to Land More Freelance Work: Follow Up

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Next Steps

Congratulations on making it to the end of this guide! By now you should understand where to find steady, high-paying clients and how to develop marketing to attract them.

And I hope that by now you feel confident enough to start taking some of these steps of your own.

Ready to be the freelance success you were meant to be?

If you’re ready to take the next step, download one of my free ebooks. It will help you develop the compelling, client-focused marketing you need to build a stable, successful freelance business. 

Or consider a shortcut to success: my 7-week online course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve.

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Send my copy.

The Shortcut to Freelance Success

But the fastest, easiest way to start getting the clients you deserve and building a stable, successful freelance business is to take my 7-week online course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve.

Get everything you need to say goodbye to struggle and hello to success in the course, including:

  • 7 modules with 25+ video lessons focused on what works best for freelancers
  • Downloadable videos and transcripts of each lesson
  • Examples, templates, and tips to help you do what you’re learning
  • Homework to guide you in developing your marketing tools

Build the freelance business of your dreams faster with coaching based on your business, your goals, and your challenges. I’ll give you expert advice, cheer you on, and help you get to where you want to go.

Or take the self-study version. Either way, you’ll get a shortcut to success.

And you can start to see results in a few months.



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