To be a successful freelancer you need two things—the ability to provide quality work and clients that are willing to pay for that work. When I decided to become a full-time freelancer, I was certain I could provide writing that would make my editors happy. The right preparations also gave me the confidence that I would have a solid client base to get me started. Here are my three main sources for freelance assignments:
Former editors and co-workers: I get the bulk of my work from editors I worked for as a full-time staff reporter. I try to never burn a bridge and have always left my past jobs on good terms. Remember, it is a small world! About a month before I hung my own shingle, I e-mailed all of my former employers and co-workers and let them know I was going freelance. Several wrote back right away and told me they’d add me to their stable of writers.
Alumni contacts: When I first got involved in my alumni networks, securing work was the last thing on my mind. When I moved to the D.C. area, I suddenly realized I didn’t know anyone here, so alumni events were a great way to meet new friends. Without intending to, I’ve actually found several assignments and steady clients. My advice is to sign up for alumni listervs and make time to attend events. I’m not able to attend as many events as I’d like right now, but I do keep track of when and where alumni are getting together and plan to make it when I can. I’m also a member of Northwestern’s Alumni Admissions Council and devote a weekend to interviewing applicants and additional time throughout the year reaching out to potential students. It is a fun way to meet alumni from different schools within the university and stay connected to the school.
Referrals: Happy customers will typically pass on your name and number when asked. Don’t be shy about asking them to pass on your information if they know of someone looking for a writer.