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I'm Christina Lyon, a coffee sipping, piano playing, beach loving, word-obsessed freelance writer and musician. I'm on fire for helping freelance writers get paid and small biz owners succeed online. When I'm not reading or writing, I play music and explore the beaches and wild trails along the California coast.

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You Landed Your First Freelance Writing Client – Now What?!

Christina Lyon

You landed your first freelance writing client! Pop the bubbly and blast the confetti canon, because you’re going places! It’s no secret you’ve worked hard, and this is a huge accomplishment and milestone in your freelance writing career. 

Your excitement might be short-lived when reality sinks in. You worked your tail off to land your first writing client, so what comes next? 

Obviously, you want to impress your brand new client so that they give you repeat business, right? Well, that’s precisely what I’m going to teach you to do in this blog post.

By the time your eyes devour the last sentence here, you’ll know exactly how to: 

  • Set reasonable deadlines and meet them.
  • Create a writing schedule
  • Manage your workflow
  • Develop strong communication skills
  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Exceed expectations
  • Ask for a testimonial
  • Follow up
  • Turn clients into advocates for your writing biz

 

Sound good? Let’s groove.

But first…

Why It’s Important To Impress Your First Client

As you likely know, finding your first freelance writing client isn’t an easy task, so the goal is to build up a roster of loyal, long-term clients. Doing so ensures that your workload and income are steady from month to month, which makes freelancing full-time a lot less stressful. 

But with 12 million registered freelancers on Upwork right now, what’s to stop your client from moving on to the next writer after you’ve completed their project?

You have the power to prevent that from happening, and I’m excited to show you how!

A screenshot of Upwork's freelance writers for hire.

There’s no shortage of eager writers for hire on Upwork, so you want to make your clients happy so they remain loyal to you.

Give your client a seamless experience working with you, and they’ll likely come back for more.

And it all starts with the first point of contact. 

Whether that’s a discovery call or a simple email inquiry, how you start the client interaction is essential.

In other words, you need to set yourself apart by impressing your client from day one.  

From there, continue to provide a stellar experience with excellent work ethic, writing talent, and your ability to go above and beyond.

Ready to get to work? Here’s everything you need to do after you land your first freelance writing client.

Set Reasonable Deadlines — And Meet Them Early

I’m not here to brag, but I’ve never missed a deadline. (ok, maybe I bragged a tad?) If so, that’s not my intention. It’s not because I’m some superhero writer with insane discipline!

In fact, as an incredibly unorganized, constantly frazzled writer, scheduling is not my forte. I know this about myself, so deadlines are sacred to me. Why? Because they are the ultimate gauge of a successful project!

Landing your first freelance writing client is the easy part, now you need to deliver.

Clients judge you by your timeliness and ability to meet deadlines. You can write the most beautiful copy, but if you turn in your work late, your credibility and reputation will instantly lose value. 

As both a freelance writer and client, I’d rather work with a good freelancer who meets deadlines than an exceptionally talented writer who fails to deliver.

If there are flaws in delivery, how can I depend on them to meet deadlines? I can’t.

I’ve encountered talented writers with little follow-through and efficient writers who meet deadlines— and the latter will always win. 

When discussing deadlines with your client, be honest with yourself. Don’t tell them you’ll have their piece ready to go in twenty-four hours because that’s simply not realistic.

My goal is to always deliver just shy of a week turnaround. Of course, when I first started out and didn’t have a steady workload, my turnaround was 2-3 days.

Ultimately, clients want a timely turnaround, but not if it compromises the quality of your work — which always comes first.

Shoot for a 3-5 business day turnaround, but give yourself more than enough time for writing, research, proofreading, editing, and communication with your client.

A flatlay of a calendar, pink roses, and phone. Staying organized is a key part of your freelance writing services!

Create A Writing Schedule

Once you have a set deadline, the next step is to create a writing schedule. A schedule is a critical tool that keeps you on track and breaks down the project into manageable pieces. 

The best strategy to do this is to work backward from the deadline and have a general idea of how long each step of the project will take. Be sure to give yourself time to:

  • Research
  • Write an outline
  • Create a first draft
  • Proofread
  • Edit
  • Second edit in Grammarly

 

Pick a time of day where your energy level is high, and your brain feels sharp. For some writers, early morning is when they feel the freshest! Are you a night owl, or perhaps you have a day job?

As some of you may know, I’m seriously NOT a morning person. I like to ease into my day with reading, sipping coffee, and basically waiting for my brain to wake up. I don’t get around to writing until about noon on most days. That’s what works for me, and I stick to it.

Luckily, we’re freelance writers and we make our own schedules.

If you’re like me, it’s important to find a groove that works for you. If you have a day job or prior obligations, find a window of time where your brain is sharp and you’re inspired.

When it comes to writing fiction and poetry, I get some of my best writing done in my sleep. đŸ˜‰

Side note: always keep a pad and pen (or the notes app on your phone) next to your bed at night for when mid-dream inspo hits.

Manage Your Workflow

Time management is indeed a struggle. Between finding writing clients online, working on projects, networking, and finding time to eat and sleep, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! However, you won’t get to endure any of these growing pains without landing your first freelance writing client.

Lucky for you, you’ve already done that! Now it’s time to create a workable schedule.

Managing your freelance workflow can be challenging due to your irregular schedule or obligations, but you will be amazed at how much you’re able to accomplish in one day once you have a plan in place. 

A simple trick to increase your productivity is to track your time instead of writing a to-do list. When you sit down to write, note what task you’re working on, what time you started, and when you finish. There are oodles of time-tracker apps to do this for you, also!

Try doing this for all your tasks, and you might notice that you wrap things up much more quickly than you expected! 

There are also tons of project management platforms designed to help you manage your workflow and maintain your sanity. Trello is a great organizational tool that allows you to manage your content schedule and see all of your tasks laid out at once. Plus, it’s free! 

An overhead shot of a woman writing a post it in her calendar. Creating a writing schedule is the first step after you've landed your first freelance writing client.

Impress Them With Your Communication Skills

Chances are, if you landed your first freelance writing client, you know the value of communication. Lack of communication is a serious deal-breaker when working with freelancers. And honestly, the same goes for clients, too! 

It’s no fun to collab on a huge project with a client, only to get ghosted mid-way through. Sadly, my friends, this happens a lot!

Communication is CRUCIAL.

Your clients will want you to make communication a priority. Yes, you’re running your own small business, but that doesn’t mean you should only check-in when you have the time. 

Ready to seriously impress a new client? Make yourself available to them and their busy schedule. This means responding to emails, phone calls, and questions promptly. 

I’m all for off-hours, and you won’t expect responses from me before 10 a.m., after 5 p.m. or on the weekends. 

There’s a balance between boundaries and open communication. A great way to avoid miscommunication is to clearly outline your studio hours.

Otherwise, if you’re available on a whim at your client’s every need, you’ll be on the fast track to burnout. And we don’t want that!

It’s absolutely reasonable (and necessary!) to set boundaries for yourself. You shouldn’t feel obligated to be at a client’s beck and call at all hours of the day. 

Set your available hours and ensure your clients know them up front. That way, there’s no misstep when it comes to communication.

Tip: put your office hours in your email signature, that way there’s always a reminder of when you’re available.

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

After you land your first freelance writing client, you want to deliver in spades so that they’ll be happy with your work, and hopefully, send you more assignments. Never pass up an opportunity to go above and beyond for your clients. It will set you above your competition and entice clients to send you ongoing work.

How can you under-promise and over-deliver? Here are a few examples, but the underlying goal here is to completely WOW your clients:

  • Set a deadline for your client, and an earlier deadline for yourself. I always submit my work at least one day before the agreed-upon deadline.
  • Self-edit your work, and run it through Grammarly to ensure it’s grammatically flawless
  • Send updates on your progress
  • If you know their website, include backlinks to their product or service pages, or related blog posts

 

However you go about it, exceeding a client’s expectations is always in your favor.  

When submitting a finished project, take extra time to make sure it’s formatted correctly and error-free. Most people who hire freelance writers expect to have to re-format submitted work and check it for mistakes themselves. Save them time, and they will be grateful! And grateful clients are much more likely to leave glowing testimonials! 

Even if you’re a great writer with exceptional editing skills, I highly recommend using Grammarly for your editing and proofreading

Grammarly has a free Chrome extension that knocks your regular old spellcheck out of the water. Not only does it catch spelling and grammatical errors, but it also checks the tone of your work and helps you avoid passive language. 

However, since this is your profession, it’s smart to invest in tools you use every day. I outgrew the free Grammarly pretty quickly because I noticed it didn’t take a deep dive into the editing process.

That’s why I upgraded to premium and seriously, you should too if you don’t work with an editor.

Exceed Your Client’s Expectations

Some run-of-the-mill freelancers see client work as merely something to get done as quickly as possible so that they can get paid. For them, writing and creating content is just a conveyer belt of work that they feel no connection to. But the really good writers genuinely care about the success of their clients. 

Think of yourself as a partner in their efforts, and do all you can to bring them closer to their desired results. 

When you combine solid research, focused planning, clear communication, and hard work, then you are bound to produce genuinely stellar content. And consistently writing stellar content is how you grow your freelance business, attract the best clients, and command higher rates. 

Ask For A Testimonial

As a professional freelance writer, your online reputation is everything. If you’re new to freelancing, clients may need to be convinced to trust you. They can quickly find thousands of other freelancers to work with, so why should they choose you?  

The best way to show prospective clients how awesome you are is by having other people do it for you! Requesting a testimonial can feel a little awkward, but if you’re proud of your work and the client is happy, they’ll likely offer to give you praise about your freelance writing services.

If you’re feeling especially bashful, try coming up with a template email you can send.

  • Start by thanking your client for choosing you for the project
  • Let them know you’ve enjoyed working together
  • Then ask if they wouldn’t mind writing a few lines of feedback that you can use in your portfolio.

Here’s a sample of how to request a client testimonial:

Hey (Client name)!

It’s been a true pleasure collaborating with you on this (project/article/piece). I couldn’t be more proud of the final product, which was undoubtedly the best it could be thanks to your clear direction and open communication.

My primary goal is to deliver the highest quality writing possible, and I thank you for believing in me to do that.

I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but I wondered if you’d be willing to write a short testimonial about your experience working with me?

It would be an honor to include your endorsement in my portfolio as a reflection of the caliber of clientele I aim to work with moving forward.

Your feedback means a lot to me. Thank you so much for your business, I look forward to working together again soon.

Best,

(your name)

If you hadn’t picked up on the flattery, take note. My mom always taught me that you get more with sugar than you do with spice (in large part because I’m a heaping spoonful of spice).

Point is, lead with niceness because essentially, you’re asking someone to do something for you. If your approach is respectful (and happens to make them feel good) they’ll be more inclined to deliver.

Keep the message short and sweet, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. 

Don’t Forget To Follow Up!

You’ve landed your first freelance writing client, submitted work, and completed a successful job. Bravo! But that doesn’t mean the work is over!

Following up with clients is a great way to stay engaged and provide that above and beyond service I mentioned earlier! Set a bi-weekly or monthly timer on your phone and simply check in with your clients.

Send them a brief hello via email just to wish them well. Think of your client relationships as seeds. Checking in is like water and sunlight that’ll help them flourish into new projects or referrals.

Bottom line: stay on their radar.

Show them you genuinely care about their satisfaction with your work, and that you’re not simply working on a gig basis. That’s called excellent customer service, and yes, it applies to you.

When you prioritize your client like this, they’ll keep you in mind for any future projects they may have. 

And honestly, this is SO crucial. Nearly every client that’s hired me for a one-off article has issued ongoing work to me. 

I once wrote a 1,000-word blog post for a beauty company that turned into a 35,000-word online encyclopedia. And guess what? It was my highest paying project to date.

A screenshot of my customer testimonials from freelance writing clients on Upwork.

Client feedback instantly endorses you as a writer and builds credibility to help you land more writing clients!

Turn Clients Into Advocates For Your Writing Biz

Congrats! You made it to the end of this post—pat yourself on the back. By now, you’ve probably realized that being a freelance writer isn’t relegated to just writing. There’s a lot of care and strategy that goes into your work after you’ve landed your first freelance writing client.

You’ll need to make time for excellent communication, networking, correspondence, billing, and following up with your clientele. 

Don’t forget to nurture your relationships with your clients. It shouldn’t feel strictly “business,” unless if you’re only in it to get paid. When you really invest in your clients, they’ll invest in you in return.

Now that you’ve landed your first writing client, you’re ready to seriously wow them. If you do so, they’ll become an advocate for your business and will likely refer friends in need of a freelance writer for hire.

They might pass along your contact information, and suddenly you’ve got your second client, and then your third! 

Before you know it, you’re writing full-time as a successful and highly praised professional freelance writer. And it all started with your very first client.

Now, who’s got the bubbly? Time to raise a toast to you, friend! Good work! đŸ¥‚

More Freelance Writing Resources:

A woman sits at a cafe working in this feature photo of what to do after landing your first freelance writing client.

June 25, 2020

Freelancing Tips

*This post may contain affiliate links, and I may receive a commission on purchases made through provided links (at no extra cost to you).

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by Christina Lyon

Hey there! I'm a coffee sipping, piano playing, word-obsessed freelance writer and musician on fire for helping creative entrepreneurs and small biz owners tell their stories with engaging marketing copy. Need written content? 

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