Freelance writers who phone in their work or fail to acknowledge the intricacies of business relationships won’t last long in this field. Trust me.
I once worked with a freelance writer who argued with every piece of criticism he received and who refused to incorporate the in-house style guide while writing.
According to him, AP Style beat all. Never mind what the client wanted.
You’re probably not like that guy. You have a genuine desire to impress freelance writing clients not only with your copywriting acumen but also with your professionalism.
If you’re not sure how to accomplish those goals, these 25 simple strategies should put you on the road to success.
What You'll Learn
- 1. Prepare a Proposal
- 2. Do Your Homework
- 3. Use Industry Jargon
- 4. Present Some Comps
- 5. Suggest a Content Strategy
- 6. Conduct Some Keyword Research
- 7. Supply Social Media Posts
- 8. Include Internal Links
- 9. Share Clients’ Content
- 10. Suggest Content Partnerships
- 11. Summarize Deliverables
- 12. Provide Formatting Guides
- 13. Send Proper Invoices
- 14. Tweak Titles
- 15. Create an Internal Style Guide
- 16. Establish an Editorial Calendar
- 17. Suggest or Supply Images
- 18. Use Branded Terms
- 19. Collaborate With Other Team Members
- 20. Constructive Criticism
- 21. Offer Constructive Criticism
- 22. Schedule Regular Calls
- 23. Organize and Share Your Workflow
- 24. Incorporate Hard Data
- 25. Update Old Content
- Impress Freelance Writing Clients With Good Manners
1. Prepare a Proposal
Early in my career, all freelance writing assignments started in the same way. A prospect emailed me to inquire about my services. I sent him a list of my rates. He either hired me or didn’t. Then I was off and running.
Is that method easy? Yes. Is it straightforward? Absolutely.
But professional? Not so much.
A formal proposal is the perfect way to impress freelance writing clients from the get-go. It shows that you take your craft seriously and that you’re interested in more than just writing words. You want your words to produce the desired outcome: More traffic, higher conversion rates, wider brand recognition.
A freelance writing proposal doesn’t have to be a 10-page document. Just lay out the basics:
- What type of content will you create?
- When will you deliver the content?
- How will the type of content you recommend benefit the client?
After you submit the proposal, the client can request any changes or accept it as-is. Assuming you get the job, of course.
2. Do Your Homework
Most freelance writing assignments still start via email or some other digital communication. Use that to your advantage.
You don’t have to think on your feet or make assumptions about the prospective client. Instead, you can engage in what I like to call Google Stalking.
Yes, that’s a real thing.
Learn as much as you can about the client. What type of business does he run? Has she published other content? Can you discern the business’s USP from the sales copy on the company’s website?
The more you know about a prospective client, the more you can tailor your first impression to appeal to him.
Don’t just research the client, though. Use what you’ve learned to impress the client.
You might say, for example, “I understand that you offer housecleaning services. Can you tell me a little bit more about what clients can expect from you during a service visit?
It shows initiative. It shows you care. And it shows that you’re professional enough to avoid walking into a conversation blind.
3. Use Industry Jargon
Building on the previous point, I encourage you to use industry jargon. We’ll go with the housecleaning service example (and continue that theme throughout this article, just for consistency’s sake).
If you know what “white-glove service” is, you’ll instantly endear yourself to the client. (In case you don’t know, it’s a term that applies when a client or supervisor runs a white-gloved finger over a surface, such as the top of a picture frame. If the glove comes away clean, the housecleaners did their job.)
There’s a caveat here, though, and it’s a big one. Only use jargon if you’re sure—absolutely, 100 percent, without-a-doubt sure—that you know what the word or phrase means.
Using jargon incorrectly will brand you as pretentious, arrogant, and a bit of an idiot. You’ve been warned.
4. Present Some Comps
In the real estate industry, comps refer to nearby homes that have recently sold. Realtors use comps to determine reasonable proces for a house that’s going on the market.
A real estate agent looks for houses of similar construction, square footage, locality, and condition.
You can use this strategy to impress freelance writing clients. Peruse other businesses in the same industry as your client. Look for businesses of similar size, length of time in operation, product or service offerings, and goals.
You can then show your client their content. What have they done right? Where have they gone wrong? How can you create better content for your client to beat them in the SERPs and to present them as the better business?
5. Suggest a Content Strategy
Some companies—especially large ones—will have a content strategy in place before you get hired. In this case, you don’t need to prepare or suggest one for them.
However, the majority of your clients won’t even know what a content strategy is or why it matters. Use this fact to your advantage.
Recommend a content strategy that includes as many details as possible:
- Frequency of blog and social media posts
- Upgrades to old or outdated content
- Topics to cover and keywords to use
- Ideas for content seasonality
- Content length recommendations
- Short- and long-term goals
Your client doesn’t have to accept your content strategy as-is. Many won’t. But the fact that you took the time and made the effort to do this will cement your positive impression.
6. Conduct Some Keyword Research
Again, moving deeper into the previous tip, lets talk about keywords for a sec. Yes, they still matter.
You don’t have to spend hours compiling lists of keywords along with their competition, search frequency, and PPC value. That’s too much work when you might not even have gotten the job yet.
Use a tool like Ubersuggest.io. It’s fast and simple.
However, you can suggest a few long-tail keywords that you might want to target based on what you believe the client needs.
For instance, you could mention that you don’t see certain location-based or long-tail keywords targeted in the client’s older content. You might suggest “housecleaning services in Tulsa, Oklahoma” or “deep cleaning your home.”
This just gives the client a taste of the depth of service you provide.
7. Supply Social Media Posts
Unless your client has a social media manager or a background in social media, this aspect of the business is likely a drag. Take some weight off your new boss’s shoulders by suggesting social media posts for every piece of content you submit.
It might look like this if you’re writing about deep cleaning your home:
Facebook: Does your home need a deep cleaning? Check out these 10 tips for chasing away the dust and making your surfaces shine. [link]
Twitter: Housecleaners share their tips on the perfect deep clean. #cleanhome #springcleaning [link]
LinkedIn: Every house needs a deep cleaning every now and again. Frustrated by your lack of cleaning skills? We’re here to help with 10 tips that will make you an expert in no time. [link]
It only takes a few minutes to dash off these suggestions.
8. Include Internal Links
You aren’t just writing words for words’ sake. As a freelance writer, it’s your job to help your clients reach their goals.
This includes ranking higher in the SERPs. If you’re not paying attention to SEO best practices, your client will wonder what she’s paying you for.
When you’re writing content, sprinkle in at least a few internal links to other articles or piece of content on the client’s website. I recommend a minimum of three.
Remember that links at the beginning of an article are more valuable than those at the end. Front-load links to high-page-authority pieces of content for the best SEO results.
If you really want to impress your freelance writing clients, don’t hesitate to promote the content you write for them. Share it on your own social media accounts. Leave comments on the blog posts.
You don’t have to disclose that you’re the author. In fact, you can’t if you’re writing under a ghostwriting agreement.
But you can give the content a little nudge and more visibility. It’s a nice way to show your support for the client and his company.
10. Suggest Content Partnerships
At one point several years ago, I was writing for an HVAC company, a mold remediation service, and a residential construction company at the same time. It presented a golden opportunity to help out my clients.
I send emails to each of my clients to ask if they would be interested in content partnerships. They all agreed. I then introduced them to each other and suggested cross-linking posts.
They (read: I) even wrote guest posts on each other’s blogs. They all got access to the other companies’ audiences, which built brand recognition. Since they were in similar (but not competing) industries, the partnerships made sense.
You can do the same once you start to build your roster of clients. Remember: You’re not alone.
11. Summarize Deliverables
Here’s a common description of deliverables on a freelance writing contract:
The freelancer will provide three articles per week, each between 500 and 750 words.
That’s it. End of story.
It’s not good enough.
Here’s what I would recommend:
The freelancer will provide three articles per week, each between 500 and 750 words, to be delivered on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by 12 noon CST. The client will receive article titles and three-sentence summaries exactly one week before the delivery date for approval. The freelancer will allow 48 hours for any changes or substitutions based on the client’s preferences.
See the difference? Specificity is your friend, especially when it comes to impressing your freelance writing clients.
12. Provide Formatting Guides
Believe it or not, some companies don’t use WordPress. They don’t understand the difference between an H2 and a blockquote.
When you create your content, leave notes in brackets explaining any formatting that should occur. For instance, after a subhead, include [h2] afterward, even if you’ve formatted the text as H2 in Google Docs or MS Word.
The only exception is when you’re given access to the client’s CMS. In this case, it’s your responsibility to format the posts correctly.
13. Send Proper Invoices
Let’s talk about invoices for a second. Yes, they’re still necessary.
First, you need to talk to your client about her payment schedule. Do you receive payment on a specific date each week or month? Does the client pay on a Net-30 or Net-60 basis?
Once you have these details, prepare a professional invoice before you’re due to be paid. It’s as much for your records as for theirs.
14. Tweak Titles
Some freelance clients will send you article titles. In other words, the client handles the ideation and you produce the content.
However, you can use your knowledge and skills to make alternate title suggestions. Maybe the original isn’t SEO-friendly, for instance, or perhaps it isn’t as specific as it should be.
The client might not take your suggestion, but he’ll be impressed that you made the effort to improve upon the original.
15. Create an Internal Style Guide
Styles guides are essential for anyone who creates content. They ensure that the brand image remains consistent and that client preferences are upheld.
Your client, for instance, might prefer that you refer to employees as “maids” instead of “housecleaners” or that you call customers “clients” instead.
Those details go in the style guide.
Get in the habit of creating one for each of your clients. Keep it in a Google Doc so you can share it with the client.
16. Establish an Editorial Calendar
As a freelance writer, I was never happy unless I knew exactly what copy my client would receive at least a month in advance. Not only did it allow me to work ahead when the time allowed, but it also allowed me to shape the content strategy in a dynamic way.
Content can tell a story even when posts are published on different days. You can build up to something, create a series, or otherwise tie posts together. It’s also helpful for internal linking.
Use Google Calendar or a similar tool to share your editorial calendar with the client. You’ll thank yourself—and impress the client.
17. Suggest or Supply Images
Text-only content doesn’t work anymore. People expect images when they click on an article or blog post because it’s become standard in the industry.
More importantly, images add style, flair, and dynamism to a piece of content. They attract the eye and keep the reader grounded in the content.
If your client has an account at a stock photo site, suggest images by including the URL to specific photos in the content. Alternatively, you can source free images from sites like Unsplash and Pixabay.
18. Use Branded Terms
Remember how you did your homework earlier and researched the client? Once you’re hired, use that research to improve the content you deliver.
Specifically, use branded terms. Taglines, slogans, branded hashtags, and more can help increase brand awareness and make your content more appealing to the customer.
19. Collaborate With Other Team Members
Your clients likely work with other professionals, from designers and coders to editors and project managers. If you can collaborate with them, your content will become increasingly effective.
Maybe your client needs an e-book to use as a lead magnet, for instance. Ask if you can speak with the designer on the project so that your copy will translate well to the finished product.
Similarly, you don’t want to be cut off from the people who create the content strategy or editorial calendar. On projects like this, you’ll want a way to communicate with those people and add your own suggestions to the mix.
20. Constructive Criticism
I don’t like to get criticized. You probably don’t either.
But here’s the rub: Everyone can benefit from constructive criticism. Everyone.
You’re not a special snowflake who can turn out perfect copy every time your fingers touch the keyboard. Neither am I.
Ask your clients to be candid with you about your performances. Specifically tell them not to pull any punches.
Say something like this: “Listen, I want to help you meet your brand objectives and establish your company as the ideal solutions for your clients/customers. If you need me to change something, tell me. I want to know how I can better serve you.”
Of course, you don’t just want to say it. Mean it, too.
21. Offer Constructive Criticism
It works the other way, too.
Let’s say that you run a housecleaning service in Bright Beach, California. You’ve created a website and blog and published 300-word articles geared toward company news and accolades.
You hire a freelance writer to continue producing content in the same vein. “We want to publish timely pieces that help our clients save money and celebrate our successes,” you say.
Wouldn’t you want the freelance writer to suggest a different strategy?
Turn the tables and become the freelance writer. You might say, “Timely and newsworthy pieces are great. We should definitely continue publishing them. In terms of SEO and passive web traffic, though, meaty evergreen pieces tend to perform better. I’d suggest publishing at least two or three how-to or listicle pieces every week to keep bringing in traffic from Google and social.”
See how it works both ways? Don’t be afraid to educate your clients.
22. Schedule Regular Calls
Email just doesn’t get it done. I wish it did, but it’s so inefficient that it might as well not exist when it comes to communicating with a client.
I recommend asking your clients to commit to weekly or monthly editorial calls. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes to get up-to-date with any changes and to discuss strategy moving forward.
Not only will you get more accomplished and create better content, but you’ll establish a more personal relationship with your clients. That’s always impressive.
When I first discovered Trello, my life changed. That sounds dramatic but stick with me.
Trello is a free organizational tool that lets you keep track of project workflows.
I recommend using a similar setup to keep track of your workflow and to share your progress with your client. The client can see, for example, when you’ve started working on a piece of content, when you’re proofreading it, and when you’ve submitted it for approval.
She can also see what other content remains in the pipeline. It’s gold.
24. Incorporate Hard Data
This is a little different from the other tips on this list, but it’s so important that I can’t not mention it.
When you’re writing content for freelance writing clients, you need hard data. Every article or blog post you create should include at least one number or statistic.
There are a few reasons for this. For one, articles with hard data attract more backlinks, which makes them great for SEO. They also lend credibility to the publisher (your client).
25. Update Old Content
When you’re working as a freelance writer, you don’t have to focus exclusively on new content. What about the existing content on your client’s website?
Suggest updating old content with fresh references, statistics, and advice. Even evergreen content can grow stale as best practices change and the vernacular shifts.
Offer to update that old content yourself. Not only will you impress your freelance writing clients, but you’ll create an extra revenue stream.
Impress Freelance Writing Clients With Good Manners
Here’s a bonus tip — and one I wish I didn’t have to include.
If you don’t have good manners and etiquette, you won’t impress your freelance writing clients. It’s almost impossible.
Your clients expect you to know how to be professional in all communications. They expect you to know how to correspond appropriately.
Deadlines aren’t merely suggestions. Emails aren’t meant to languish in your inbox until you feel like responding.
Treat your clients like human beings.
If you don’t know how to impress freelance clients, you won’t last long in this industry. There are too many savvy professionals who will blow you out of the water.
In my experience, the smallest details make the biggest differences. Strategies like preparing professional documentation and setting aside time for editorial calls can make you look more polished and experienced.
That’s what you want, right?
Impress your freelance writing clients by preparing professional invoices, proposals, and editorial calendars. Submit images, social media post suggestions, and formatting guidelines with every article you write.
Keep a style guide, share your clients’ content, and don’t be afraid to give or accept constructive criticism.
All of these tips will make you a better freelance writer. More importantly, they’ll convince more clients to say “yes” when you ask them to hire you.
How do you impress your freelance writing clients? Any tips for the class?