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How I Made Over $7500 From One Email as a Freelance Writer

how to become a freelance writer
Have you ever wondered how to become a freelance writer?

Maybe you think it’s a challenge to find clients for your freelance writing business.

Maybe you’ve tried your hand at in-person networking events.

Pitched editors and marketing managers of companies?

But the results are far below your expectations.

There’s a much better alternative you might be missing.

How I Accidentally Discovered Online Networking

In mid-2012, I received a request from an acquaintance to connect on LinkedIn.

I already had a LinkedIn account but it was dormant, with just 60-odd connections. I’d almost forgotten it existed.

When I accepted the request, I saw that many people were looking at my LinkedIn profile, and some of them fit my ideal client market. Over the next few days, I updated my profile, added a fresh photo and sent out a few invites.

As time passed, I received new connection requests.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when an editor from a reputed online publication added me. That was a glorious moment.

I instantly sent them a “Thank you” message. (Looking back, I was acting like a kid in a candy store, but never mind that.)   What happened after that was life-changing.

The editor replied to my message and said my profile looked interesting. No amount of in-person networking can provide this. Don’t get me wrong – networking events are great for boosting your confidence. But they don’t attract the targeted leads you want.

LinkedIn lets you pick and choose whom you connect with – the potential is unlimited.

 

How I made over $7500 with one email

 

In December 2013, an unknown person added me to her network. Her profile didn’t clearly spell out what she did.

I accepted the request and sent her this message:

Hi Name, How are you? Thank you for adding me to your network. I’d love to know more about what you do – and help you the best I can. Looking forward to hearing from you!  

She was looking for a writer.

After a few email exchanges, I found their pain point, offered my help and suggested what they could do next.

This company went on to hire me to write blog posts at $150 per post – all because of my small gesture of reaching out, asking if she needed help, and offering it.

Don’t wonder if they’ll hire you – that’s not important. Simply offer help that you’d ideally charge for. This is when you tell the client what you can do for them.

How they do it is entirely up to them. They may do it themselves, or hire you. Chances are – they’ll do the latter.

For example, guest posting was one of the things I suggested to this client, and backed it up with some stellar examples of what it had done for a few clients. She immediately asked me if I could help.

Of course I could!

Now that you know how I’ve made over $7500 from one email, here’s how you can do it too.

 

Step 1: Create Your Profile

 

1. Create a profile here.

2. Add a profile photo, and keep it professional.

3. Add your title – this is vital real-estate. Mine says “Blogger | Freelance Writer | Editor | Behavioural Specialist” because that’s what I do.

4. Ensure your Title and Summary have relevant keywords in the description so people can find you. For example, if you want to show up for “technical writer,” have these keywords in your title.

5. Add your websites in your profile. You can add a link or upload a file to give people more information about what you do.

6. Fill in your Experience, Publications, Skills and Endorsements (use rich keywords here), Education and any additional information you think will help boost your LinkedIn searchability and attract prospects.

7. Become a member of groups related to your industry. You might choose to be a member of “magazine writers” and “report writers.” According to LinkedIn data, group participants get 4 times more profile views. The more you comment and contribute to the group, the more profile views you get.

8. Ask for a Recommendation. [tweet_dis] The number one rule of networking is to give before you ask.[/tweet_dis] Give your clients something so good that they are compelled to write you a 5-star testimonial. You can also recommend others you’ve worked with, and ask them to return the favor.

Step 2: Check in Everyday

Log in to your account every day. Make it a part of your daily marketing hour. If that sounds too much, you can schedule 15-30 minutes every couple of days.

Step 3: See Who’s Viewed Your Profile

Under the “Profile” tab, you can see who’s viewed you in the past week. If many people from the IT industry are viewing your profile, it’s because you’ve used keywords related to that industry. Good for you if you’re looking for technical-writing jobs!

Step 4: Send a Message to Your Viewer

If you’re getting many profile views every day, return the favor and check out the profiles of those who viewed yours. Found someone who is an exact client match? Send them an InMail (paid LinkedIn feature). If you don’t want to pay for a subscription, you can add this person as a connection and then send them a message. (To send a request, they need to be in your “network,” separated by you by up to three degrees of connection.) If they are out of your network, you can still use InMail to reach them.

Step 5: Accept LinkedIn Requests

Don’t ignore requests from unknown people. LinkedIn isn’t a personal platform, so why ignore requests from prospects who might be interested learning a little more about you? Granted, not everyone is a prospect. But if you ignore everyone who wants to connect, you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. Filter requests and add people from your target industry – look at their profile and if it looks remotely interesting, give it a go. I accept most of the requests I get, except from people –

  • who have nothing in common with me
  • are from an industry I have no knowledge about
  • don’t have a profile photo (Seriously, add your real photo!)

 

Step 6: Send a Thank You Note

 

Once someone adds you, send them a “thank you” note. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just introduce yourself and ask how you can help. If you both have something in common, make it a point to include that. This shows you’ve taken the time to read their profile. A question most people cannot resist answering is “I’d love to know more about your business – could you tell me more?” The point of doing this is to get a conversation going. You want to engage them.

Step 7: Take the Conversation to Skype or Phone

Once you’ve had a few email exchanges, take the conversation to a more personal platform. Ask if they’d like to schedule a quick chat on Skype where you can discuss their business further.

People love that.

They want undivided attention from someone who can help them achieve their goals. Be that person. On the call, share helpful tips. You don’t have to share anything new – you can repeat what you discussed on email and reiterate it, using examples.

Tell them you’re in the business of helping people do exactly what you’re suggesting to them. If you do it right, you might’ve found yourself a client!

LinkedIn is your readymade platform to launch your business, giving you targeted leads that convert to revenue. 

In my experience, leads on LinkedIn pay much more than leads on job sites. It’s less time-consuming and less daunting to reach out to anyone on LinkedIn than in any other way.

LinkedIn helps you create a more focused network for your marketing efforts. Connections lead to more connections – and more business!

So go ahead and give it a shot.

How do you use LinkedIn to grow your writing business? Share in the comments!

About the author:  Pooja has been featured on Firepole Marketing, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. She teaches aspiring writers how to become self-employed, create wealth and live better lives by launching their online writing biz. Steal her free mini-course to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home.

Image: Money from email courtesy of Bigstockphoto

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37 thoughts on “How I Made Over $7500 From One Email as a Freelance Writer”

  • Marcy McKay says:

    Excellent, Pooja. I know many others in various industries that SWEAR Linkedin is the ticket. I have an account because of some contract work I did this past year, but you’ve got me thinking I should look at it in a whole new light. Thanks!
    Marcy McKay recently posted..Five Tips to Create the Right Writing Schedule for YouMy Profile

  • I love this post. So practical and step-by-step. I’m going to update my profile today.

  • G. Trigg says:

    This is a huge problem for me. I’m a sotware developer, so my LI profile is geared toward that. (And, NO, I don’t want to write about software. I know how lucrative it is, but at the end of the day I need to get away from it for a while. In fact, thinking I just had to write about software almost made me ditch freelancing entirely.) I’d love to be able to leverage it for freelance writing instead, but it’s too important for coding, and right now coding pays the bills.

    I do want to say congrats to you for discovering how to leverage the power that is LI. It’s been great for my software development career. I can’t tell you how many recruiter messages flood my inbox. (And I don’t even have a pic up. In my field you can get away with it, though.) There are many more people who view my profile but don’t connect or message. It’s an excellent way to put yourself out there.

    • Pooja says:

      Hey Gregg,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      You make an interesting point. If you’ve got multiple professions/interests, you can either create another page for your freelance writing services (although you’ll have to check with LI’s terms) or add a section under your software business bio in the same account (I actually do this for coaching and freelance writing).

      I know what you mean — I am from an IT background myself. I quit my job in 2009 and although I don’t “code” anymore, my IT skills come in handy big time. Clients don’t just want a writer these days — they want someone who can multi-task and is an all-rounder.

      I’ve went on to create many beautiful and fully functional WordPress sites; I do a lot of backend tweaking and help them with their technical hiccups to name a few.

      The idea is to use all your skills and “smoosh” them together to help the client. :-)

      All the best!

      Pooja

  • I have a question though. If I spend all my time writing my blog and freelance stuff, doesn’t that become like any other job that keeps you from writing your novel?

    It makes intuitive sense to make money from writing if you love to write – but if my goal is long fiction, time spent away from working toward that is the same whether I spend it working at Starbucks or writing ad copy, right?

    Am I wrong?
    Jack Cordwell recently posted..Summer versus Ten Thousand WordsMy Profile

    • Pooja says:

      Hey Jack,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      You’re right — if you want to write fiction, you’ve got to find other avenues to pay the bills. And that’s OK.

      I’m a freelance writer and I love what I do (with no plans of writing fiction for now), so I’m just sharing my story :-)

      And no, it doesn’t have to be working the same long hours. I average 6 hours a day whereas in my IT days I would go 10+ hours (including commute time).

      In short, this post is geared towards those who want to make an income from writing. But if fiction is your cup of tea, I urge you to read some other posts on WTD’s Fiction category — they’ve got a great collection!

      Hope this helps.

      Pooja

  • salma says:

    That was so Good pooja. I have a linkedin account but i never used it and didn’t give it any interest, you give a perfect path to achieve my dream. Thank you :)

  • Thank you for sharing the excellent advice Pooja. I have a question. Which category do you use when contacting people who view your profile?

    Thanks once again,

    Burlingtina

    • Pooja says:

      Hey Burlingtina,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m not sure what you mean by category — could you elaborate please?

      You can find who’s viewing you by hovering your mouse cursor on the “Profile” tab and a drop-down of “Who’s viewed” will appear :-)

      Pooja

      • Hi Pooja,

        Thank you for replying. Here is a better explanation.

        You click on a person’s profile, and get ready to send them an InMail. Under your contact information, there is a drop-down menu labeled “Category” right above the subject. The choices are Career opportunity, Consulting offer, New venture, Job inquiry, Expertise request, Business deal, Reference request, and Get back in touch. Which one of these categories do you choose when contacting someone who veiwed your profile?

        Thanks again,

        Burlingtina

        • Pooja says:

          Ah, I get it now. Thanks for clarifying Burlingtina.

          Ideally, you want to try connecting with them first instead of sending an InMail. That’s a much better approach to build connections because you have them on your LI network, keep a tab on their latest and stay in touch.

          If they are out of your network and there is no way you can connect, or if they don’t respond to your request and you absolutely want to have this person as your connection, use InMail.

          In the latter case, I’d say go with Get back in touch category and mention that you saw them checking out your profile. Were they looking for something? How can you help? … Start there.

          The other category I’d try would be “Expertise request” (if you are connecting with an editor and want to “pick their brains” — careful not to ask too much though; be respectful of their time).

          Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Experiment and play along with different categories, but as a thumb rule, instead of asking a favour at the first point of contact, choose a category that’s neutral or a compliment to them.

          Does that answer your question Burlingtina?

          Pooja

  • Suzan says:

    Hi Pooja,
    Thank you for sharing. I too have a LinkedIn account and a member of some groups but not active. You got me thinking it is time to act.

  • Karishma Sundaram says:

    Hi Pooja,

    I read your article in my reader, and I had to stop by to leave a comment! It is an excellent article, with loads of tips. Thank you for taking the time out to write out such a great post.

  • It’s really very complicated in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, therefore I only use internet for that purpose, and get the most recent news.
    schwinn tricycle replacement parts recently posted..schwinn tricycle replacement partsMy Profile

  • lainaa 2000 says:

    I am a business man dealing in direct marketing. I need to start a blog for my business purposes. For this I hope I do not have to have an exclusive web site. Kindly advise about books where the fundamentals are explained..

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  • Ali says:

    Hi Pooja,

    What an article ! You have just made me love LI from a grim history of hating it actually. I am surely redoing the whole thing from a new perspective. Cheers and Thanks

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