Having a well-defined target audience is a critical first step to freelance success.
But it doesn’t end there. Because once you’ve identified your audience you now need to find some prospects to contact.
That’s where many writers get stuck.
If you’re in that situation now (or if you’ve ever been there), you’re going to get a ton out of this podcast episode. My guest is the brilliant Jennifer Gregory, author of the new book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer: Find Your Perfect Clients, Make Tons of Money and Build a Business You Love, which I highly recommend.
In this interview, Jennifer details her three-step “Audience First” method for finding potential clients. Her approach is both simple AND incredibly effective — and it’s something you can start using right away.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
Tell us what do you do and the types of clients you serve
Jennifer Gregory has been freelancing for about 10 years, mostly in content marketing. She serves mostly B2B technology clients, such as AT&T, Hewlett Packard, Verizon, Adobe, Samsung, and IBM.
Jennifer runs a blog where she shares how to make money as a content writer and how to find clients. She also serves as secretary of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
We talked to Jennifer a couple of years ago about how she took her income to six figures.
Do freelance writers need to have a clearly defined target market or niche?
You need to have a clearly defined target market. However, you can have as many target markets as you want. You can be a generalist and have subspecialties, but you have to present yourself as an expert in a niche to each potential client.
To do this, Jennifer has a landing page for her portfolio with links to six different niches. Each niche has its own page with relevant samples.
If she’s sending a letter of introduction (LOI) to a prospect, she’ll send the link to the relevant niche page. She finds that this method works well. Many prospects don’t even realize she writes for a number of niches.
Why is it so difficult to identify potential clients in content marketing?
It’s challenging because the possibilities are infinite. Every business needs content, so it’s hard to know where to start. It can cause analysis paralysis.
Also, many prospects are “invisible.” You don’t even know that they exist—especially in B2B—until you actively look for them.
Tell us about your method for finding potential clients
Jennifer’s method consists of three steps.
1. Identify an audience you’re already familiar with
Think of an audience you’re already somewhat familiar with and then narrow it down a bit. For example, if your audience is “seniors,” you can refine that further to “seniors who need aids in their homes.”
2. Come up with a list of products and services that audience would buy
Go deep and wide when formulating your list.
For “seniors who live in their homes,” for example, products and services might include things like porch rails, medical alert devices, and specialized financial services.
Supplement your list through research. Talk to people in that audience and see what they come up with.
You can also look at publications that are geared to that audience and see what’s being advertised.
3. Identify the companies that provide those products/services
Include not just B2C companies but also B2B.
For example, if your audience is mid-size CPA firms, your products/services list might include IT services, software packages, and document-finding software.
Identify trade publications for CPA firms and look at the ads.
Also, look for conferences that your audience might attend. Look at the vendor list and see what they’re selling.
This process is often easier if you already have some personal experience with the audience. You should also consider your past jobs.
Why do you suggest looking for a technology angle for every market we’re considering?
Writers often think they need to be high tech to write technology. But that’s not true. Usually, we’re writing for a non-technical audience.
For example, consider hotel property management software. The people buying this technology aren’t tech geeks—they’re hotel geeks. If you know the hotel audience, you can write on this topic because you’ll be writing about how to use the software to run their business. You won’t be doing a deep dive into the intricacies of the software itself.
You can often charge more for this kind of writing because it’s more specialized and there’s less competition.
Think about what you bring to the table that can’t be learned overnight. If you’re already in that market, you already have insider knowledge.
What are your thoughts on going after agencies for some of this work?
Jennifer recommends that writers work with both directly with businesses and with agencies. There are benefits and downsides to both.
Don’t assume you’ll make less money with an agency. They take a cut of the amount paid by the client, but they also do some of the work on your behalf. When you compare rates, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
How do we find agencies to work with?
Look for agencies that are either local or in your niche (or both).
Include public relations agencies, advertising agencies, marketing agencies and content marketing agencies in your search. All of these agencies offer content marketing to their clients.
Many agencies specialize in certain niches. With a bit of research, you can often find lists of agencies that you can use as a cheat sheet. For example, The Content Marketing Institute website has a big list of agencies.
This process works well both for writers that are just starting out and for seasoned writers who want to step up their prospecting game.
Tell us about your new book
Jennifer started her blog five years ago. She’s finally turned it into a book: The Freelance Content Marketing Writer: Find your Perfect Clients, Make Tons of Money and Build a Business You Love
The book walks you through the process of building a content marketing business.
Tell us about your blog
Jennifer writes about how to make more money as a content marketing writer. She also has many guest posts that illustrate how people are using her techniques to succeed.
By the way … whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:
1. Grab a free copy of my training class for writers who are new to freelancing.
It’s called “The 3 Magic Levers: How to Get Your Writing Business Off the Ground and Land Your First Paying Client.” — Click Here
2. Download a free copy of my book for ESTABLISHED writers/copywriters.
You’ll discover how to quickly and predictably reawaken dead leads, generate new client opportunities and convert not-yet-ready prospects into freelance writing clients. — Click Here
3. Join our “Get Better Clients Academy”
You’ll get a personalized action plan based on where you are today in your business. Plus all the tools, scripts, checklists, cheat sheets and templates you’ll need to escape feast-or-famine … grow your income … and land clients who love and respect you. — Click Here
4. Get your website DONE!
If you’ve been struggling to get your website done … or if you’re not happy with what you’ve got today… let my team and me build you a beautiful website for your writing business. We’ll do all the hard work! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org … put “WEBSITE” in the subject line … and I’ll reply with the details.