re you tired of working teeny, one-off writing jobs for small publications and one-horse businesses? To get the best freelance clients, you’ll have to stop wasting time on the small fry and target a whole different category of prospect.
These terrific clients aren’t in one particular industry, but spread through every type of business and organization. These are clients where the amount you earn from them tends to grow effortlessly over time. Unlike most of the solopreneur types, who tend to sputter out and go bust. Right?
The best freelance clients all have a single trait in common. Target only organizations that have this trait, and it will help you find ongoing work at great rates.
Let me introduce you to one of the best client types out there, no matter what type of freelance writing you do.
The best freelance clients are growing
If you want your writing income to grow fast, there’s a simple answer: You need to find fast-growing companies.
Why? Here are some common traits of fast-growing companies and why they’re some of the best freelance clients to have:
- Growth rate exceeds hiring rate. HR just can’t hire fast enough to keep up with marketing needs. Freelancers fill the gap.
- Expertise needs change. As they expand into new regions, products, and services, they need writing expertise their staff lacks—and turn to freelance writers.
- Ongoing work. An initial freelance gig with a fast-grower often turns into an ongoing relationship, as they continually have overflow work staff can’t handle. That means less marketing and more assignments for you.
- There’s profit in their chaos. Fast growth often means disorganization, which can lead to high rates for rush work.
- The budget balloons. Their marketing (or editorial) budget tends to grow over time, along with the company’s growth.
Doesn’t that beat having to constantly market to a bunch of flakey, floundering companies that give you one small gig and then disappear on you? I think it does.
My fast-grower story
Here’s how I discovered the power of fast-growing clients.
One of my first and best freelance clients was a fast-growing, global insurance and healthcare consultancy. I was originally brought aboard to do a revamp of their website. Two and a half years later, I was still writing—and had negotiated my way up to $95 an hour.
Every month, they’d have a new development: Opening a new office in Singapore—it needs a new landing page! We’re introducing a new piece of software or consulting service! Just finished a big client project and need a case study on the success! They always had more projects than they could handle in-house.
That’s the classic scenario in fast-growing companies, and why they’re some of the best freelance clients to go after.
Finding fast-growing publications
If you feel sad because you only write for publications, don’t cry. Some magazines grow fast, too. Yes, reports of the demise of all print have been exaggerated!
New magazines continue to launch and grow, fortunes change, and old-time publications take off.
Think of every magazine or website that covers U.S. politics, right now. The New York Times never made so much as it did last year.
Successful freelancing has always been about following the money. Targeting fast-growing publications is one way to do just that. Those publications tend to start new columns, add editorial pages, spin off new magazines, start a book division. Investigate the opportunities and you might discover one of your soon-to-be best freelance clients.
“Successful freelancing has always been about following the money.”
7 Ways to find fast growers
There are lots of ways to identify fast-growing companies. Here are a few tried-and-true methods:
- Local fast-growing lists. If you’re in a major U.S. city, check out the fastest-growing lists of public and private companies in your local business journal. They are a gold mine!
- The Inc. 5000. Heads-up, writers—the Inc. list rankings are compiled based on 3-year compounded annual growth. It’s a huge list of fast-growing companies! Cherry-pick companies in your chosen industries from it.
- E&Y Entrepreneurs. Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards are chock-full of leaders at the helm of fast-growing companies. That’s how they get nominated.
- Who’s getting money. When startups get venture-capital money, they usually raise it because they’re already growing fast, or they use that funding to accelerate growth. Use Crunchbase, AngelList, or the Venture Capital Association’s website to search up news of companies that recently scored investor money.
- Local & national publications. Read national and local business journals, business magazines, or the business section of your daily paper. Profile subjects are often chosen because they’re acquiring competitors, introducing new products or services, or busting other growth moves.
- Track media trends. For intel on fast-growing publications, check out the Association of Magazine Media’s annual factbook. It’s bursting with trend tips on which categories of publications are thriving. Watch for monthly reports on which magazines added the most advertising pages, too.
- Check out The Writer’s Market online. When you subscribe to The Writer’s Market with online support, you get access to online updates with breaking news on emerging magazines and growth trends. Great way to get ahead of the curve on publications that are on the upswing.
With these techniques, you should be able to quickly find a ton of good fast-growth prospects.
Industries with the most fast-growers
One of the beauties of targeting fast-growing organizations is they exist in every industry. But in an analysis based on the Inc. 5000 list, conservative think tank The Brookings Institution identified the sectors with the most fast-growers—here are the top five, in ranking order:
- Technology — You knew that, right? A new type of software comes on the market and explodes, seems like every day. The beauty here is there’s so much within tech, from hardware, SaaS, apps, mobile devices, smart appliances, and more. Including software, this niche has more than twice as many fast-growing startups as the next category.
- Advertising/marketing — I’m sure you’ve noticed the content marketing boom. The internet, YouTube, and the fragmentation of TV into hundreds of channels have combined to give us many new ways and places to reach customers. Messenger marketing-bot startups, anyone?
- Business services — You keep hearing B2B is a great area to mine—and here’s the proof. Over 2,000 companies in this arena made the Inc. 5000 fast-growing list. This category includes many industries—should be something for every writer in here.
- Health — It’s nearly 18 percent of all consumer spending, at this point. And no indicators people plan to stop smoking, drinking, sitting, and getting sick. This niche also overlaps with tech a good deal, with medical-records electronic solutions, biotech, medical devices and more.
- Government services — This is the most overlooked niche in all of freelance writing, serving government needs. In recent years, federal agencies have been under orders to outsource more...and under the current administration, the oodles of unfilled positions may be driving more freelance contracts, too. The bonus? Winning bidders are a public record, so you can look them up online and know who might need help with a big writing project for federal, state, regional, provincial, or local government agencies.
Hopefully, knowing where the big sectors are that generate many fast-growing companies helps you focus your marketing efforts.
Your pitch template for fast growers
Here’s the final thing that makes targeting fast-growing companies so beautiful: You know just what to say to them in your pitch letter!
These are companies that tend to crank out press releases about their wins. Read up, and then pitch away.
The basic template goes like this:
Hi [NAME] —
As a freelance writer who specializes in [their industry], your recent news about X Company’s recent [acquisition, completed venture funding round, new product, European expansion, etc.] caught my eye.
[Brief flattery zone here] Your company seems to be [on the cutting edge with new-product development, innovation in your industry, grabbing market share, etc.].
I’m wondering if you need help getting the word out about X Company’s success?
[Specific thing you have experience in, that you noticed they need: ie, “In all the excitement, I notice that your blog hasn’t been updated in a few months. That’s something I could get moving for you again.”]
[CTA (Call to Action) here — would it make sense to hop on a call, may I send you some clips, I’ll call you next week to gauge your interest, etc.]
Simple enough, yes? Also a plus for pitching these prospects: Those announcements fast-growers make usually have a marketing contact right on them, that serves as a good person to pitch. Boom!
Let fast-growers help you effortlessly earn more
Hitch your star to these fast-growing companies, and you should see your own freelance income grow as well. As you work with these companies, watch for new initiatives where you could pitch them more writing projects.
A final note: High-growth companies tend to be small and young. Qualify them carefully, to make sure they’re stable enough to be reliable payers. Asking for a 50% up-front deposit is a must here.
Longtime Seattle freelance writer Carol Tice offers 1,000+ free posts at Make a Living Writing, plus a free custom report to help you launch or grow your writing biz. She has written for Forbes, Delta Sky, Entrepreneur, Costco, American Express, and many others. Check out Carol’s portfolio at caroltice.com, and her community at freelancewritersden.com.