Find Freelance Writing Clients

Having an in-between day?  Your big clients don't need anything new and you've finished up all the onesies and twosies?

That happens to all freelance writers. 

I detest scouring the job ads - a lot of them sound great, but at the very end they say, "This is an unpaid opportunity, but..."  Don't get me wrong; sometimes you find great opportunities when you're looking for jobs.  I certainly have.  It's weeding through all of them that makes me feel like I'm wasting time that could be spent making money, whether on a passive income site or writing for a semi-low-paying content site.

When I get fed up with scouring job postings, I go fishing.  Freelance fishing.

I throw my line out there and wait for someone to bite, and my bait is my freelance writing portfolio.  I don't like to spend money on the line, so I hit the classifieds and Craigslist.

I found that the following newspapers offer free classified ads - some of them have to be ads for services/goods under $250, and I'll tell you how to work that in a minute.

These are just a handful of newspapers which allow free ads.  All you have to do to find more is search "place an ad" on Google; while some of the results do charge (the LA Times charges $58 for a one-time Sunday ad) you'll find that smaller papers offer free classifieds for seven to thirty days.

I spent about an hour posting the same classified ad (with minor variations) in a zillion different papers yesterday, and got confirmation today that most of them will appear in the papers all week.

Sometimes there are certain guidelines for free classified ads - including things like:
  • The ad must be 3 lines or less
  • The service or product must cost less than $100, $250 or $500 (depending on the location)
  • Free ads may only appear online and not in print
  • Free ads may only appear in print and not online
So how do you make the bait work?

For 3-line ads, that generally means 75 characters or less.  How about this:

"$175 Press Release - free advertising
for your business."

For ads in which your product or service must be under a certain amount, get around it like this:

"$50/page web content, buy three,
get one 1/2 off @"

I've had a fair amount of traffic come to my site from free classified ads; I ran one in the Honolulu Advertiser and got about a dozen hits.  Conversion, not so much - but it got people there and they spent a reasonable amount of time reading my content.  That means they'll remember me.

I also found that if you can make something touch the readers in a particular area, they'll be more inclined to check you out.  I posted this in an Alabama newspaper and ended up getting a client:

"$50 web content written by
OIF Army Veteran -"

Sure, it's kind-of a cheap shot... but it was a good angle. 

Enough about me.  What do you use to advertise your freelance writing services?  Do you rely solely on the 'web, or do you put print ads out as well?  Please leave your comments here, and feel free to leave a link to your own blog or website!

© Angie Papple Johnston, 2010; if you are reading this anywhere but on or without my name as author, it's stolen.