When I started freelancing I thought I had to look for gigs far, far away. I live in Italy — a country where freelance is still a synonim for penny-pay— so that might be true to a certain extent, but 'far away' is NOT the only place you can go prospecting, much like browsing the Writers Market isn't the only way you can find markets to pitch.
Think your country.
Think your region, your state. Your city.
I found Italian and non-Italian (US, East Europe) clients and I was happy to work with each and every of them, no matter the site or the difference in pay rates. Freelance opportunities are everywhere and every business can use a quality-delivering, reliable freelance writer.
If you work locally, in particular, you work to build a solid reputation where you live and open for more opportunities. Because people talk and word-of-mouth is more powerful than ever, especially among people who appreciate your work.
Where to look for local clients?
1. Among old school teachers. Perhaps you still keep in touch with them. Do they need someone to write for their academic website? Perhaps a resume and bibliography rewrite? Ask them if you can help.
2. Your old school website. Does your old school have a website? If so, do you think it may need a consultation to improve visibility and accessibility? Call them and ask if you can offer your freelance services.
3. Family acquaintances. Do your relatives know of business people you can pitch? Ask them to help you by acting as intermediaries and getting you in contact.
4. Local stores in your town. Not the big ones, they may have their own copywriting staff already. But the less known, the handmade collectibles
5. Your favorite books' publishers. There are books you just fell in love with, so much that you fell in love with the publisher too. Is there anything you can do for them? Contact them, ask!
6. Your neighbors. Spread business fliers and cards in your neighborod, make a special discount just for them. Should they need your services, they'll contact you.
7. Your friends. Regularly email or call your friends for a chit chat, and ask them if they need a writer. Time may come they really do!
8. Your parents' friends. I did, with my mom's colleague who needed a web designer and a web copywriter. Your parents may have good prospects among their friends circle. Just ask, you never know.
9. Your volunteer association. I offered to contribute an article to a writing school I volunteer at as a cartoonist and they accepted. Nonprofits always seek new contributors in every field, and although sometimes you won't get paid for your work, it's a good way to build a portfolio of quality clips. Ask your volunteer association, they might need you.
10. Other nonprofits in your area. Charities, religious institutes, churches, student groups, animal shelters and so on. They may need a good advertorial or brochure copywriter to get the word out and touch people's sensitive souls.
11. Your town hall. It's like writing for the government, but at a smaller scale. Ask whether they need a freelance copywriter: chances are you may get one or more decent pay gigs.
12. The restaurant you go eat at on special occasions. Local restaurants need exposure to attract more clients, and that's exactly what a good copywriter can do for them. Plus, you're an affectionate client, so they'll be more than happy to listen to what you have to offer.
13. Your favorire videogame's website. Is there a videogame you like playing on weekends or whenever you have a little free time? Search for a website (local is better) dedicated to the game and email the webmaster, asking if they need a freelance contributor who's also an obsessed gamer. You love the game, so you have good chances with that.
14. Your car repair shop. Next time you visit your car repair shop for a car check up, ask if they need a copywriter to provide more exposure to the business. Analyze their fliers and posters: maybe they need better advertorials? The slogan doesn't work? Offer your services.
15. Your husband's/wife's clients... provided that your spouse is not a freelancer in your same field! They might be, but unless they're willing to share clients with you, I wouldn't ask. 😉
16. The copy shop in your town. Copy shops sometimes need better media exposure and better slogans. Since they can help you with your business (prints, business cards, etc.) why not ask for a partnership? You use their products, they offer you a discount and take your advice, and both spread the word about each other. Even better if you can refer clients to each other.
17. Your doctor. Do they have a website that needs a re-touch? Do they need a new brochure or business card? They help you stay healthy, you can help them stay in business!
18. Your kids' teachers. Next time you setup an appointment with your kids' teachers, ask them —before you leave— whether they may need a freelancer to help them with their work.
Everyone may need a copywriter or a blogger. The truth is that the world is filled with opportunities we often don't see, even when they are right under our nose.
- 18 Local Prospects You May Not Have Considered To Pitch - May 5, 2012