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). 




My First Report: Successes Since July 19

10 Nov

I finally updated my spreadsheet where I track  assigned projects, queries and goals.

A little historical recap. In April I officially quit my job (with the intention and invitation to return) in order to visit friends and family on the mainland for a couple months.

Now, this job was ideal for graduate school; I worked two or three days a week and had plenty of time to study. It was not, however, ideal for pursuing my goals and developing personally or professionally.

I wanted needed a change.

Returning to Hawaii in June, I decided to embark on an experiment. My ultimate goal is to establish myself as as highly successful, professional writer. Instead of going back to work, and with just a little extra pocket change to tide me over, I chose to conduct a 90-day freelance experiment.

The rules were simple. If I made money, I would continue. If not, back to the drawing board. Failure was not allowed.

The morning after I made this decision, I had $2,100 in projects come in.

Talk about manifesting.

This morning, as I analyzed the last few months, I was pleased to see my success in numbers. Ready for the run down?

Queries: Part of my experiment included sending a query a day for 90 days. I stopped querying after two weeks. Despite knowing that focusing purely on work and losing momentum on marketing can create desperate dry spells, I had assignments coming in and graduate papers due. Necessity mandated work only, and marketing fell to the side.

Total queries sent: 15 (letters of introduction: 10, actual queries: 5)

Assignments: I was shocked that my initial efforts yielded such quality work assignments.

Total assignments received: 14

Closer analysis reveals that those 14 projects came from six clients with repeat projects at all but one publication. Cool.

Total Hours & Total Cash: These are the numbers I’m especially interested in. I worked a total of 234 hours since July 19, which comes to 14 hours a week (perfect with my school schedule), and includes marketing hours. My peak earnings were $66/hour and the least I earned was on one project at $20/hour. My average was $40/hour for a total of $8,994.  For an initial, part-time effort, I’m pleased.

The Verdict: Success! I’ll continue.

Some Evidence: 

See published articles here and here.

And the business I started: socialKINE

Goals Moving Forward: Since I’ve decided to take most of this month off to finish up coursework, I’m approaching my next three months with the following goals:

  • Three “Marketing Blitz” sessions (more on these later)
  • New and significant assignments from each of my previous six clients
  • Launch my two new projects (already in the works)
  • 2-4 new clients
I feel so blessed to have started down my path. I don’t know where it will lead, but I have a very good feeling about the future.

I’m on Twitter

4 Nov

“Create Twitter account.” Check. 

There’s a button, now, to the left where you can follow me if you should like. 



Whew! Time To Breathe

27 Oct


I’ve felt, for the past two months, that I’ve been caught in a tornado of new projects, grad school, and life events.

Here is the run-down.


  • 2 extremely fast turn around projects
  • 4 normal paced projects
  • 3 new, on-going clients
  • A new business venture


  • My last semester of coursework in graduate school
  • Lots of life events experienced with very close friends (a death, a baby, a big move, a breakup)
  • A trip to the mainland for my little brother’s wedding (last week)

In short, it’s been nothing short of exhausting. Even bliss can tucker you out. Though money is always good, I think I’ll be taking the month of November easier, in order to catch up on school and finally catch and keep up with my ongoing clients. More soon…




To All 10 of My Readers

11 Oct

Aloha readers,

After some site analysis, I have good reason to believe there are about 10 of you. (Mom, are you one of them?)

 I am honestly surprised by the numbers. Since I haven’t promoted this blog very much (which actually means, hardly at all), I’m thrilled to see a small little trickle of daily hits. 

You’ve been good company. I’m intrigued. 

Who are you? What brought you here? What projects are you working on? Anything you’d like me to write on?

Would love to meet you! Please begin your introduction in the comments below. 


My New Gig: About.com

4 Oct

Good news!

After a somewhat lengthy application process, I recieved word that I’ll be a new guide at About.com. (Hip, hip!)

I’m excited for a few reaons. First, it will be a fun way to explore one of my passions. Second, it will provide consistent income. Third, who knows what other opportunities it may lead to. 

Last night, I read a post from Danielle LaPorte entitled: thank you. i won’t let you down. It’s a must read. She delivers a powerful message based on an observation about this little starlet-in-training, Rachel Crow (see video below).


Dear Clients, Family, Friends, Loved Ones, Universe, and Buddy (our faithful dog who takes a daily walk with me):

Thank you. I won’t let you down.

I’ll let you know when my site goes live. In the meantime, any others About Guides out there? Tips to share?

Resource Roundup for Freelance Writers

20 Sep

Recently, I scouted out resources for freelance writers. Here are some of the best: 

The WritersDigest is one of the best print magazines for writers, and it has a pretty good website too. They also publish the Best 101Resources for Writers, which you can download when you subscribe to the weekly newsletter

Covering everything from blogging to freelance writing to technical writing Freelance Writing Jobs sends out daily listings.

FreelanceSuccess is a paid subscription newsletter but worth the investment for experienced freelancers.

For updates on the publishing industry few sites beat Media Bistro

Chris Guillebeau continually enlightens the world with his ideas and guides on how to live unconventionally. Here is his free guide to being an overnight success in 279 days. 

ProBlogger is one of the best resources for learning how to produce a profitable blog. Sign up for the newsletter and join over 167,000 hobby and pro bloggers.

Debi Ridpath Ohi (the old Inkspot editor) has generously published a Writer’s Guide to Twitter on her website. Bless her heart.  

And finally, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) on nurturing creativity: 


Anyone else out there? What are your favorites?


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