Q & A: How Do I Identify Potential Clients? What Do I Say to Them?

18 Nov

I decided, this week, to answer one of the questions that was posted in the comments last week by John Varghese.

John asked how I identify potential clients and what do I say when I write to them?

Well first off, I’m excited that my work is generating a question or two. I don’t know if I yet have the credentials that would qualify me as an expert in this field; this could all be beginner’s luck. But I will say this, I have my eye on the goal and am confident that with the right efforts I’ll continue to be successful. 

Okay, here’s what I do. I have this concept that I like to call “working thickly” and I’ll write a post on this one day soon. Anyway, what this means it that I mine my connections and try to make sure I’m taking full advantage of my opportunities. So, for example, I was published in one popular, regional publication. From there I began working with two more clients who are under the same publishing company. Once you have an in, it’s really easy to write another editor within the same parent company and say, “Hi. I  write for your sister publication. Would you have any need for a freelance writer as well?”

My second tactic, which has been successful, is to query trade publications. It’s fairly easy to make a good base rate in trades, since I’m working for publications in industries with which I am familiar. Once you have your first good clip, you can leverage that to establish your credibility a serious writer.

Typically I will seek out markets within my fields of interest. Right now these include sustainability, travel, food, and lifestyle. I’ll continue whittling down my niche even more as I continue to build my client base and develop my expertise.

If a market that I’m interested in turns me down initially (like two did before I had my first clip) then I’ll touch base with them a couple months later (like I did with those two publications, and now I work for BOTH of them). I just identify what I want and keep going after it in creative ways.

Okay, what do I say to potential editors? Well, if it’s a full query letter then I pitch the idea and give background on myself. But, honestly, I’ve found a simple letter of introduction works best. Typically this letter of introduction will be under five sentences. “Aloha, my name is Tara Zirker. Here’s something I like about your publication or website. I’m a professional freelance writer based in Honolulu with credentials in X, Y, and Z. Do you currently have need for a freelance writer? I’ll look forward to hearing from you!”

I always like the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) approach.

But really John, I’m just kinda winging it as I go and enjoying the ride. I try to learn from the best (maybe within the next couple weeks I’ll start some giveaways for books I’ve found very helpful), keep an attitude of plenty, and stay consistent in my efforts.

Anyway, thanks for asking a great question. 

Hope everyone had a successful week! 

Keep looking for my posts here once a week (usually Thursdays or Fridays). 




One Response to “Q & A: How Do I Identify Potential Clients? What Do I Say to Them?”

  1. John Varghese November 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Thanks Tara. And thanks for the mention.

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