Get More Freelance Writing Clients With This Brilliant Networking Hack

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When I started out as a freelance writer, I created my own (appalling) website and started bidding for jobs on content mills.

Within a week I had made about three cents from my successful bids on content mills, but I had secured two well-paid commissions from my website — even though it was horribly designed and ranked absolutely nowhere.

How had I achieved this?

Honestly? Absolute beginner’s luck: A day or two after I launched my site, a local web design company did a search for content writers in my specific area, and my name came up.

After that initial success, I got my website redesigned by a pro, but I invested even more time and effort in a different form of marketing: reaching out to web designers.

Here’s why you should too.

1. Web designers’ clients are your clients

When you hire somebody to design a website for you, they leave you with what is essentially a shop window. But you still need to put stuff in the window.

That’s where writers come in. The client could put together their own web content, but in many cases it’s a bit like putting a lawnmower engine in a Ferrari: The website may look great, but it won’t perform as it should.

Most business owners who are willing to invest in a decent website will also be prepared to invest in good content, so when you reach out to website designers, you’re reaching out to a ready-made market for your services.

2. Strategic partnerships can help everyone succeed

Web designers don’t write content, so working with you means they can offer a comprehensive package to clients.

They can sell their services by offering the client a one-stop shop where a well-designed site goes hand-in-hand with quality content.

When my first website designer contacted me, he wasn’t doing me a favor. He needed my services to present a more well-rounded service to a major client. By teaming up with designers you trust, you can expand your client base as a team.

3. You don’t have a marketing budget

If you are like most writers, you don’t have the money to advertise.

By reaching out to website designers, you can piggyback on their marketing efforts to secure customers.

When they take out an ad in a local publication or advertise online, you benefit because more clients for designers means more work for you.

4. Everyone loves ongoing work

One of the best things about my network of web designers is that every one of them has generated repeat business.

Instead of wasting your efforts on pitching for one post here and one newsletter there, focus your efforts on building relationships with good web designers and you will have a stream of quality commissions.

Deliver quality work on time, and web designers will be happy to refer you to all of their clients.

5. You’ll attract quality clients

People who contract good web designers are prepared to pay more for quality work. They are also more likely to pay you on time.

The clients I have secured through web designers have never queried an invoice nor have I had to chase any of them for a payment.

As long as you continue to provide them with content of a standard that works well with an excellently designed site, the clients you secure through a good web designer will be happy to pay you properly.

How to connect with web designers

Conduct a search for web designers in your area. Target those with good reputations, and avoid those who sell their services based on price alone — their clients are willing to cut corners on their website design, so they won’t be prepared to pay you much either.

Make a list of all the viable options and input their names, email addresses and phone numbers in a spreadsheet.

Now, draft a pitch or query letter, telling each prospect how you admire their work (include names of websites they have designed; you will find these on their portfolio page) and would like to help them offer a more comprehensive package to clients.

Include links to examples of your own work and tell them how convenient it is for clients to have their website designed and content written by a coordinated team of professionals.

Let them know whether they can refer clients to you directly or offer clients a package in which content is subcontracted to you. In this instance, you will need to decide on a basic range of prices, depending on the number of website pages and the level of research involved.

How have you teamed up with other professionals to build your freelance writing career?

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Aoife O’Carroll is a writer with expertise in a wide range of writing disciplines, particularly in web copywriting and social media. You can find her on LinkedInor contact her at her ... . | @aoifecontent

Aoife O'Carroll
James Chartrand

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  1. Absolutely love #2! I’ve done several “lunch-and-learn” workshops in a couple of cities near my hometown, and I can’t say that I’ve seen an easier way to build a solid income stream quickly.

    In your case, you knew that the website designer could easily unlock a host of clientele for you. In the same way, I identified businesses in my area that serve the people I would love to be able to pitch my services to.

    I don’t know how you feel about this idea Aoife, but I offered my hosts / key referral partners who helped me set up the workshops a 10% bonus for each client of theirs that became a client of mine. This ensured they didn’t half-@ss things on their end.

    Worked like a charm! Everybody wins in this arrangement because (1) the business owner hosting the workshop gets to bring past clientele into the office, which typically results in repeat business for them (2) the business owners’ clients get a free high-value education and (3) I walk away with 2-3 solid leads who schedule an in-person appointment with me on the spot.

    In my first 4 attempts at following a partnership strategy just like yours Aoife, the results were $14,300 in projects.

    Bottom line: idea #2 WORKS!

    • Great idea, Joshua. It sounds like you’ve brought networking to a new level!
      I’m curious about these workshops you offer: What do they entail?

      • Hi again Aoife!

        Thanks for getting right back. Over at my site, I’m putting together the exact step-by-step process for anyone to do this (even including examples of successful / even unsuccessful events I’ve done).

        For now, I can give you a quick scoop — Step #1, identify the type(s) of people who have expensive problems, chronic frustrations, or unrealized dreams that your service fixes.

        Step #2, identify individuals in your personal network (“strong ties and weak ties”) who have a customer base, clientele, or formal network that includes the type(s) of people whose life / health / family / business you can improve through your service.

        Step #3, create an irresistible event that helps your target type(s) get started on the path to fixing that expensive problem, ending that chronic frustration, or achieving that unrealized dream.

        Step #3, create an irresistible “pitch” to share with the person you know with the network, customer base, etc. Focus on explaining how simple their role is (just deliver the event invitations), how it’s designed not as a veiled sales pitch but as a value-added experience for them to give their network. Act genuine and sincere because you ARE genuine and sincere — even if nobody hires you from the event, people still took away nuggets of wisdom. That is the mindset to have.

        Step #4, personally follow up with all the invited parties, show up on the day of the event, improve people’s lives, and schedule appointments with attendees who become leads for you.

        And there you have it! 🙂

        • Sounds great! Now to think of an “irresistible event”…

          • To create mine, I made a list of the top 5 burning pains, chronic frustrations, and unachieved dreams my target market has.

            To create the even title, pitch, and invitation letter, I used my past customers’ own language to describe the benefits of attending the event.

            So, the heavy lifting wasn’t done through brainstorming and creativity, but through systematic market research.

            I’d bet you could find out the same from your customer base. Cheers!

  2. Wow, Aoife!

    You know that expression all the kids these days use: Pro-Tip?

    Well this one is like a level above that. Ninja-Tip maybe?

    Anyhow, it’s brilliant and I can’t believe you shared it. I would have probably kept that one a secret so thanks for being so generous.

    It also starts a quandry of what other service providers are out there that could use a go-to content creator for their clients.

    Great stuff!

    • Thanks, Don! The bottom line is that web designers won’t refer clients to you if you’re not pretty good at what you do, so if the only way you can get work is by keeping your sources secret, you probably won’t last that long anyway. A

  3. Hello Aoife

    Thank you for this. Building a partnership with web designers is a brilliant strategy.
    Your readers might also be interested in looking at this piece about working with ‘influencers’:
    It explores several similar ideas.

  4. Brilliant! I’ve developed relationships with several boutique PR/Marketing agencies, and an SEO agency, and get random projects that fill out my schedule and pay professional rates for my writing. Projects have ranged from product descriptions to blog posts, and a how-to video for a site with marketing data services. I will have to reach out to some site developers now, too…


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