The Ultimate Guide to the Freelance Success You Deserve
A proven process for getting high-paying freelance clients
You’re talented. And you’re smart. So why is freelance success so hard?
The problem is, you probably don’t know much about running a business.
This isn’t your fault.
You’ve been busy building your skills and your experience as a freelance writer or freelance editor (or as another type of freelancer).
Sick and Tired of Struggling?
But freelancing is a business. So you need to be a businessperson too.
And effective marketing is a key part of running any business.
Because clients don’t just fall into our laps if we’re good at what we do.
Chances are whatever marketing you’re doing isn’t working. And you don’t know what’s wrong—or how to get the help you need.
So you end up taking whatever work comes along. Instead of finding the high-paying freelance work and clients you deserve, you struggle.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Your Guide to the Freelance Success You Deserve
Awesome, high-paying clients who need the help of talented freelancers are out there. This Ultimate Guide to Freelance Success shows you a proven step-by-step process for finding and attracting them.
It’s the freelance marketing process I used myself to become a 6-figure freelancer in 18 months. And hundreds of other freelancers are using this proven process to get the clients they deserve too.
Achieve freelance success with the right freelance marketing
The guide will help you learn how to create the right freelance marketing. And the right freelance marketing is what helps you achieve freelance success and build a stable, successful freelance business. You will have to work hard. But you won’t waste your time or effort, because my process is based on what works best for freelancers.
Here are the 7 steps to freelance success:
- Choose Your Moneymaking Specialty(ies)
- Find the Right Prospects
- Reach and Attract the Right Clients with Direct Email
- Write a Complete, Client-Focused LinkedIn Profile
- Develop a Client-Focused Website
- Meet People Who Can Help and Hire You
- Be First in Line for Freelance Work
After the description of each step, you’ll see links to more content with:
- Details about how to do each step
- Freelance success stories about how freelancers are implementing the steps.
But that’s not all. Many of the steps include free checklists, templates, and swipe files.
If a pipe in your home bursts and water is pouring onto your floor, are you going to call a handyman or a plumber? A plumber is the obvious choice, because you need a specialist in fixing leaks—not someone who does a little of this and a little of that.
When clients hire a freelancer, they want a specialist too, someone with expertise in the type of freelance work they need help with. And they’re willing to pay well for that expertise.
That’s why specializing is the fastest, easiest way to get high-paying clients.
- Are growing
- Need your freelance services
- Have professional associations that make it easy for you to find clients.
The best specialty(ies)
The best specialty(ies) is neither too broad nor too narrow for where you are in your freelance career. It needs to be just right. Most freelancers start out broadly and narrow down their specialty(ies) over time. It’s okay to have two or three specialties.
Industry specialization is a great choice for most freelancers because it lets you choose industries where:
- Clients can pay freelancers well
- There’s lots of opportunity now and in the future.
Freelancers can also specialize by industry(ies) and project or by project.
Picking your specialty(ies) takes time and effort. But if you do the work now, you’ll be able to get bigger, better freelance work—forever.
Learn more about specializing to achieve freelance success
It’s much easier to find high-paying freelance work when you have a clearly-defined specialty(ies).
Instead of taking whatever work comes along, you can choose the clients you want to work with. Start by making a list of prospective clients (prospects).
Focus on clients that:
- Work with multiple freelancers
- Understand the value we bring them
- Can pay us what we’re worth.
These are usually large businesses and some other large organizations.
Who will hire you now?
Focus first on prospects that are most likely to hire you based on your background, experience, and skills. Expand your list to other types of clients later.
Ways to find prospects
Professional associations, through their member directories, are the easiest way to make your prospect list. Member directories usually have all of the information you need to contact the right person—or someone who knows the right person—at the company.
You can also find prospects through:
- Leading company lists
- Online directories.
LinkedIn is a great tool for finding:
- The right contact person for companies/organizations you’d like to work with.
- More relevant prospects through “People Also Viewed.”
Build your expertise
Making a prospect list also helps you learn more about clients. So you can create marketing to attract them.
Developing your prospect list is work—but it’s worth it. Because you’re choosing high-paying clients who are likely to give you steady work.
Learn more about the right prospects and freelance success
Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Freelancers: See Finding Clients through LinkedIn
Once you have your prospect list, you’ll use direct email to get high-paying freelance work.
When done right, direct email really works!
You make yourself irresistible to clients by customizing each direct email to the client’s needs. To do this, you spend a few minutes on each prospect’s website. Use what you learn about the prospect along with what you already know about the industry and/or type of client to write an irresistible email.
How to write an irresistible direct email
Here’s what you include in your direct email:
- A compelling, client-focused subject line
- A sentence showing that you understand the organization’s needs
- 1 or 2 sentences about your most relevant experience and how this enables you to meet the client’s needs
- A link to your client-focused website (or your client-focused LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a website yet) so that the prospect can easily learn more about you
- A call to action that clearly says what will happen next (e.g., “Should we schedule a call next week to discuss this?”).
And it doesn’t matter if you’re not sure whether you have the right person on your prospect list. If you write an irresistible direct email, the person you contacted will probably forward your email to the person who hires freelancers.
Increase responses by following up
Most positive responses to direct email come from follow-up emails. About a week after your original email, send a polite, professional follow-up email to anyone who didn’t respond.
Doing this may feel uncomfortable, but it works.
Learn more about using direct email to achieve freelance success
Direct Email Swipe File, templates and examples of direct emails
Now you have a strong specialty and understand the needs of your target clients (your prospect list). You also know how to write irresistible direct emails that will get these clients interested in your freelance services.
But before clients contact you, they want to check you out. And colleagues who are thinking about referring work to you want to check you out first too.
So you need a strong online presence: Your LinkedIn profile and your website.
There’s another reason to have a complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile. More clients are looking for freelancers on LinkedIn now.
Your complete LinkedIn profile
A complete profile helps you rank higher in search results. A complete profile has:
- Industry and location
- Profile photo
- Current position
- Two past positions
- At least 3 skills.
You also need at least 50 connections.
Your client-focused LinkedIn profile
Write a compelling, client-focused:
- Headline with the right keywords
- About section (also called the summary), especially the first 220-270 characters.
The right keywords include:
- “freelance writer” or “freelance editor” [ or “freelance xyz”]
- Key services
- Industry-specific keywords
- Client types and their audiences.
Your headline—up to 120 characters— is the most important part of your profile. Clearly say what you do and how you help your clients.
About is the second most important part of your profile. On a computer, the first 220-270 characters or so show before a person has to click “see more” (about 102-167 characters on mobile devices). Build on your headline and offer a clear, concise, client-focused message in the first two sentences.
Your LinkedIn profile isn’t a resume
In About, be interesting and conversational. Use:
- Short, action-oriented sentences
- Short paragraphs
- Subheads (in all caps)
- Bulleted lists.
Learn more about your LinkedIn profile and freelance success
Free ultimate guide:
Clients expect freelancers to have professional websites.
A compelling, client-focused website shows clients that you’re the right choice for them and colleagues that you’re a professional who will do a great job if they refer work to you. Done right, your website will:
- Impress clients and colleagues by showing them you understand client needs
- Highlight your expertise, skills, and work (usually through samples)
- Show that you’re a professional who is running a business.
And if you have a client-focused website, you’ll be able to do less marketing.
Because when clients contact you, they’ll already know about you and your services. So you won’t have to actively “sell yourself,” the part of freelance marketing that freelancers hate most.
Your awesome freelance website
Like your direct emails, LinkedIn profile, and all freelance marketing, your website needs to focus on how you help clients meet their needs. An awesome freelance website has:
- Content that’s compelling, clear, and client-focused
- Design that’s amazing (visually engaging, clear, and easy to navigate).
Your content needs to quickly convey:
- What you do (your services)
- Who you do it for (your target clients)
- How what you do benefits clients.
Essential content for freelancers
Include the essential content for a freelance website, and make it clear and scannable. These are the essential web pages for freelancers:
- Portfolio, Samples, or Work*
- Testimonials, Clients, or Testimonials and Clients*
If you’re a new freelancer, you may not have much to include on a Portfolio, Samples, or Work page. Instead put a little information about your work on your Services page. Add a few paragraphs with some project descriptions and/or use a few non-client samples like school projects or projects from volunteer work. And you probably won’t have a testimonials and/or clients page yet. Add this later.
Attract clients with your home page
Your “Home” page is the most important part of your website. If your messages aren’t clear and compelling, and the design isn’t clean and engaging, clients won’t click further—or hire you. Along with what you do, who you do it for, and how what you do benefits clients, include:
- Images that contribute to your key messages
- A header banner with your key message and a subhead (or blurb)
- Shortcut boxes
- A clear call to action with your contact information
- A design that’s optimized for multiple screens.
Work with a designer
If you want to attract high-paying clients, then you need to hire a professional designer who has experience working with freelancers.
When you work with a professional website designer, you get a customized, visually engaging website that shows why clients should choose you to meet their freelance needs. You also save time because you’re not trying to do something that you don’t know how to do. And you get help with the technical aspects of launching your website and dealing with those inevitable tech issues.
Hiring a professional website designer gives you more time to focus on what you’re best at—your freelance work.
Learn more about your website and freelance success
Who you know—a.k.a. your network—can be more important than anything else in getting high-paying clients and building a steady, high-income freelance business.
Building a trusting, strategic network will help you:
- Get more referrals
- Meet more clients
- Get practical advice and support from other freelancers.
Be strategic and get to know people
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. Other freelancers are a key part of your strategic network. And professional associations are the best places to meet the right people.
Nothing beats in-person networking for building trusting relationships and a strategic network. But if you’re like most freelancers, networking is stressful—even scary.
With the right attitude, networking can be easier and less stressful for you. Networking is not about “selling yourself.” It’s about getting to know people. And when you to give more than you take, or help people without expecting anything in return, networking becomes much easier. And it works better!
Learn what to do before, during, and after networking events
Give more, take less
Giving more than you take helps you build strong relationships with colleagues. The people you help will remember you when they have a freelance opportunity or something else to share. It’s also easier to ask someone for help in the future if you’ve helped her or him in the past.
Get more referrals
Referrals are the easiest way to get freelance clients. You get referrals from colleagues and from satisfied clients. Always doing great work leads to referrals from clients. Referrals from colleagues come from networking.
But it takes more than casual interaction to get those referrals. Colleagues need to know and trust you before they’ll refer freelance work to you.
Referring work to other freelancers is a great way to increase the referrals you get. These freelancers will think of you first when they have a freelance job to share.
Get high-paying clients through professional associations
Professional associations make it easy for freelancers to get high-paying freelance jobs and clients. That’s where you’ll find people working for the companies you want to work with (clients) and freelance colleagues who can refer you to other clients.
And when clients are looking for a freelancer, they often ask colleagues from their professional associations for recommendations.
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 active networking.
By joining and being active in professional associations, you’ll also be able to:
- Learn about your ideal clients
- Find ideal clients for your marketing.
Networking for freelancers online
Online networking will never be as helpful as in-person networking but it has some benefits, including occasionally getting clients.
LinkedIn is the main way for freelancers to network online. Forums of professional associations and groups for freelancers also offer networking opportunities.
Clients are using LinkedIn to:
- Find freelancers
- Check out freelancers who colleagues are referring to them before deciding whether to contact the freelancer.
To rank high in search results, you need:
- A complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile
- A big, relevant network (500+ connections)
- To engage with other people (sharing content and engaging with other people on their content).
Learn more about networking to achieve freelance success
Free ultimate guide:
Many freelancers miss getting high-paying clients because they rarely or never follow up with clients who’ve expressed interest in their services but haven’t hired them.
Up to 90% of the time, clients aren’t ready to hire a freelancer when you first contact or meet them. But many of these clients will need a freelancer within the next 12 months or so.
When clients are ready to hire a freelancer, if you want them to choose you, then you need to be first in line. Being first in line means that the client thinks of you—and not another freelancer—at that moment.
Also stay in touch with:
- Clients you haven’t worked with for a while
- Key colleagues, a great source of referrals.
Be helpful, relevant, and persistent
Like networking, follow up isn’t about “selling yourself.” Most of the time, your follow up should focus on sharing relevant content or commenting on something about the client or your contact person.
Sources of news include:
- The company’s Newsroom page
- Google Alerts
- LinkedIn updates or tweets.
There are lots of great free resources available to you on the web, including:
- Industry updates
- Free tools.
Once or twice a year—as part of your overall follow up—you can send interested clients a friendly reminder that you’re available for freelance work.
Learn the 3-step process for getting more clients through follow up
Yes, You CAN Achieve Freelance Success!
If you want to achieve freelance success, then there’s one more thing you need to do.
Hundreds of freelancers, mostly writers and editors, have proven that my 7-step process works. But if you don’t do the work, then you won’t see the results. You won’t get more freelance work. You won’t attract steady, high-paying clients. And you won’t build a stable, successful freelance business.
Now this is important. You must have grit, the determination to push through the obstacles that all freelancers face.
And you must do the work it takes to succeed in any business. Most of that work is marketing.
Many freelancers avoid freelance marketing or do as little as they can.
That’s why survey after survey show that finding freelance work or finding better clients is one of the top problems of freelancers. You need to build the marketing habit.
Work hard now; Avoid worry and even more work later
But if you do the hard work now, you’ll set yourself up for freelance success.
You’ll have the right marketing tools to get the freelance work and high-paying clients you deserve. And you’ll know what to do when you need to actively find new business.
So won’t end up desperate like so many freelancers.
If you do the hard work now, then you’ll have less to worry about later. And you’ll be on the path to freelance success.
Learn More About Achieving Freelance Success by Doing the Work
Need Some Help Unlocking Freelance Success?
If you’re sick and tired of struggling and are ready to work hard, here are 3 ways to achieve freelance success.
#1. The Free Way to Achieve Freelance Success
You can learn how to achieve freelance success in this guide and in Mighty Marketer blog posts. The guide and many posts come from free checklists, templates, and other tools to help you. But you’ll have to put the process together yourself.
#2. The Easier Way to Achieve Freelance Success
Or you can get the fundamentals in one place: 7 Steps to High-Income Freelancing: Get the clients you deserve. My book covers the 7 steps in more detail than this guide and includes bonus content: free checklists, templates, and other tools.
Read the blog posts for examples of how freelancers are implementing the 7 steps and for more details and updates on some steps.
Read what freelancers say about 7 Steps to High-Income Freelancing.
Get my book on Amazon.
#3. The Easiest Way to Achieve Freelance Success
But the easiest way to get the high-paying freelance work you deserve and build a stable, successful freelance business is to take my 7-week online course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve.
The course explains the 7 steps in detail. You get assignments to help you apply what you’re learning and develop your marketing tools. And you get lots of handouts with templates, checklists, examples, and more.
In the coaching version, you get personal guidance from me, based on your business goals and challenges. I review your marketing and key course assignments. My students tell me that coaching helps them build their confidence and succeed faster.
The course is also available as self-study. This is best if you’re an experienced freelancer who is doing okay but you know you could be doing better.
Learn More About Achieving the Freelance Success You Deserve
Here’s a complete list of the blog posts and free tools to help you find the freelance clients you deserve.
Many blog posts include examples of freelancers who are using these 7 steps to get clients.
Book and Course
Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve (online course)