Do you know where to find golden freelance writing clients?
You know, the kind of clients that make it possible to work less and earn more.
If you’re thinking that sounds impossible, you’re not alone. A lot of writers settle for freelance writing jobs that don’t pay well, drive down hourly rates, and leave you feeling broke after finishing a one-off job.
Been there? Done that? It doesn’t have to be that way.
When I started freelancing, I stumbled upon a little trick that helped me find my first golden client. This little trick transformed my freelance writing business, and helped me scale from earning nothing to $100,000 within a year.
The same little trick helped me land freelance writing gigs with companies like Google, Sony, GM, St. Jude’s, Goodwill, Verizon and dozens of smaller, but golden clients that pay well.
Want to know how to boost your freelance writing income, work less, and always have plenty of freelance writing work? Here’s the key to finding golden clients:
I’m Joshua Boswell. I’m a freelance writer, copywriter, writing coach, public speaker and founder of Copywriter Marketer. Watch the video to learn more about how the Freelance Writers Den can help you land high-paying clients.
Formula for failure: Work more, get paid less
It was 2007 and I was sitting in my little home office in Springville, Utah.
The phone rang. Two things happened:
- My heart jumped into my throat
- My stomach dropped out the bottom.
I had been a full-time writer now for just over two years. I was making a decent living, but I was in a huge debt-hole.
Two years earlier, I did a dumb business deal and sank myself $200,000 in personal debt, without any job, business or income to pay it back… and 6 children to feed (we only had 6 children at the time… tiny family, right?).
I knew this call was from a potentially great client. If I was going to get out of debt, I had to make way more than I was making.
I needed this client.
Have you ever felt like that…desperate for any client willing to throw a little money your way?
Here’s what happened:
Client: “Joshua, I looked over your proposal. The fact is, your prices are too high. I was looking for something more affordable.”
My heart sank and I felt sick.
Client: “But, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. Let’s drop your fee by 50 percent, and I promise to make up for it on volume. I have a ton of work to do and I promise to keep you busy.”
For a few seconds, I was super excited. There was a way to save the deal and get lots of on-going work.
Then my little brain started processing.
Me: “So, you’re saying you’ll pay me less than my standard rates, and keep me so busy that I can’t get any other great paying clients or have time with my friends and family?”
Needless to say, I turned him down. I didn’t get into writing to sit at my desk all day. And you shouldn’t either.
I told a highly-successful business friend about the call, and he said something I’ll never forget:
“If the money had been right, the deal would have been sweet. You actually want a client that will feed you consistent projects so you’re not wasting your time running around looking for money. You just need to find a client that will feed you assignments and pay you well.”
A lightbulb the size of the sun flashed in my mind. And that’s when I discovered the key to finding golden freelance writing clients.
Stop looking for typical clients: Do this instead…
I stopped looking for projects. I even stopped looking for clients.
Instead, I started looking for retainer clients. That’s the key that can change your freelance writing business forever.
At first I was terrible at identifying great retainer clients. When I got better at finding them, I realized I sucked at negotiating the deal. When I got better at closing the deal, I realized I needed to figure out how to manage my time better to really maximize the opportunity.
If you’re freaking out about now because you don’t have this skill set, get over it. You can learn how to do this.
Boost your income with retainer clients
So, what is a retainer client? Where do you find them? And how do you land the deal and manage your time to maximize the opportunity?
- A retainer client is a client that doesn’t want to hire you as an employee, but would love to have you stick around and write lots of stuff for them.
Use this to your advantage
Hiring writers is a pain! I know, I’ve talked to hundreds of marketing directors, editors, content managers, and publishers. And I’ve hired writers for my business. It takes a lot of work.
Learn to dance…it’s worth it
No matter how good your writing skills are, there is always a learning curve when you land a new client. It’s that period where you
- Figure out what the project is all about
- Do your homework and research
- Get to know your client and their unique nuances, and all that fun stuff.
I call it learning the dance, because bringing on a new client really is like learning a new dance.
All of this takes time, effort, and money, especially opportunity costs for both you and the client.
But it’s worth it when you find a retainer client willing to pay you well and keep you busy with plenty of freelance writing work.
Here’s an example: I had an agreement with a PR firm out of Washington D.C. The contract rate: $2,000 a month for 20 articles, not to exceed 750 words each.
At first, my rate worked out to about $25 an hour. But after a few months, I could crank out an article, op-ed, or press release in under two hours. That jumped my hourly rate to $50 an hour.
They liked my work so much and trusted me so much, I eventually moved to $5,000 a month doing up to 30 assignments a month. That’s about $166 an hour.
Because it only took me 30 hours a month to complete, I had time for more clients and still time to spend on things that matter most to me… like playing with my children, traveling, and private retreats with my wife, Margie.
4 reasons every writer needs retainer clients
A good retainer agreement is very simple. It says something like this: “As the writer, I’ll write up to 10 articles and/or blog posts a month for $2,500 a month.”
Some months you’ll write all 10 articles. Other months you’ll only write five, but the client still pays you $2,500 a month, because it’s so much easier than finding a new writer and learning the dance all over again.
Sounds pretty good, right?
When I started focusing on only working with retainer clients, four things happened:
- I started earning a lot more money.
- I was less stressed, because my retainer clients always had plenty of work and my income was a lot more consistent.
- I didn’t have to spend as much time on marketing to stay busy.
- I had more free time for things like playing with my children, traveling, and private retreats with my wife.
Learn how to find golden retainer clients
I’d love to tell you more…a lot more about retainers. But I’ve already been crazy long-winded enough. So, instead of writing another 1,000-plus words, I have a better idea.
Carol invited me to do a FREE webinar on retainer clients to give you the rest of the story. You’ll learn how to approach a retainer client, what the contract looks like, and best practices on closing the deal.