By Katie Barry
I wish I had the secret to finding editing work as a freelancer. If you take this one magic step, clients will line up at your door! They’ll throw money at you, and you’ll never have to look for work again.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. The past few months, however, have reminded me of one of the greatest marketing lessons available to freelancers: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In the past few months, I’ve added three clients to my roster: two ongoing and one project specific. I found each client a different way.
Client A: The Cattle Call
A job listing appeared on an editorial organization’s job list. I applied. I got it. It all happened within the space of about two weeks. I’ve been working with them for almost four months now. They don’t send a large amount of work, but it’s steady, interesting, and they pay promptly!
Client B: SD/PEN Member Services Directory
A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by an author who found my member directory listing on the SD/PEN website. We exchanged some emails about his book project, and I’ve since completed editing his manuscript. At the end of the project, I referred him to David Wogahn of AuthorImprints, who spoke at an SD/PEN program meeting last November, to help with the author’s next steps (including obtaining an ISBN). The author was easy to work with and passionate about his subject matter, he paid promptly, and, again, the work was interesting. Being able to pay it forward with a referral to David made the work all the sweeter.
Client C: Colleague Referral
I’d been hearing for a while now about a colleague’s great client. The client was interested in expanding their network of freelancers toward the end of last year, but they ended up being too busy to go through the process of hiring someone at that time.
Out of the blue, a few weeks ago the client contacted me to see if I was still available and interested. I was. They are now a source of ongoing work. Again, the work is interesting, diverse, and although my first payment hasn’t come through yet, I am confident I’ll be paid on time, as the client has a long track record with my colleague.
Inquiries Don’t Always Pan Out the Way You Expect
I’ve also had inquiries via LinkedIn, and a couple of others through the SD/PEN directory recently. Although these specific inquiries haven’t turned into work for various reasons (in one case, the author wasn't ready for the book to be edited; in the other, I wasn't interested in going back to full-time, in-office work), I’ve made more connections, and there’s no telling where they may one day lead.
Last year, I applied to a cattle call and didn’t get a response to my cover letter and resume submission—until about nine months later. That client had kept my information on file and contacted me when they needed more help. That client is now part of my regular client base. Another prompt payer with interesting work. And nothing that I had planned for.
The only secret to finding work is to constantly be looking for work—and to look for it in a myriad of ways. Five years after launching my freelance business, I have a great network of clients and colleagues, and know that there might be a surprise in my inbox on any given day. I wish the same for all of you!
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