If you want to become a query-free freelancer, you can't just wait around hoping clients are going to find you. You need to create demand for your work.
Today I'm going to share a story about how I not only did that, but how I created demand in a relatively new market by identifying a need and choosing to fill it.
Those who have known me for a while know that my most popular service over the last few years has been press release writing, especially for web-based clients.
Here's how that came about. You can use a similar approach to create demand for your own writing
In the Beginning
I used to run a music PR firm. I worked with clients throughout my local and regional area.
It was an incredible experience. It's an area where everyone literally knows everyone else in the local scene, so word can spread easily.
We had a few well-known publicists in the area working with indie artists already, so I needed a way to reach out and keep making connections.
I knew I needed to increase my visibility if I was going to create greater natural demand for my work.
So... I launched an indie music webzine.
It got off to a decent start, and it wasn't long before I had artists soliciting reviews and interviews on a regular basis for the monthly issues, growing my network organically.
In turn, it started bringing in a decent amount of work without me having to solicit clients.
Yet I knew I needed to keep growing.
So I turned to a webmaster forum to ask for advice on improving the site and my promotion of it.
As I spent time in that webmaster community learning and improving my own site, I noticed discussions cropping up among online entrepreneurs.
They were interested in press release writing, but they didn't understand it. That's putting it mildly.
There was very little demand from that group at the time to actually hire people, but the discussions became more frequent.
The few press release writing jobs advertised in the community seemed to get picked up by generic web content writers (the "Sure, I'll write you over-hyped, keyword-stuffed garbage content for $10 and throw it into a press release template" kind of writers).
There was a need for better information.
I, very assertively, started taking part in press release discussions there, trying to educate the market about how to use them appropriately and effectively--how focusing on real coverage and exposure could actually also do more to help their SEO efforts (since they were releasing garbage in the name of SEO).
It didn't take long before the general buzz started to spread with that group about press releases (not just in that community, but all over the web due to the growth of distribution sites like PRWeb).
Because I stepped into that market, building my visibility and authority status in that community early on, the work started flowing in naturally. And even though I charged over 10x what other generic writers did, I kept landing new clients because no one else with legitimate PR expertise was even targeting that client base at the time.
It played a role in my move from music PR to online PR for a wider variety of clients. That's what happens when you get your name and experience out there in front of a group of under-targeted prospects.
You create your own demand.
And while I still work with indie artists, authors, and other creative professionals, small to mid-sized online businesses have become my primary focus now, and they have much deeper pockets than many writers realize.
Plenty of Opportunities Still Exist
This is something you can do too.
Let's say you're a sales letter writer (great money there if you're good at what you do).
It doesn't matter how many other sales letter writers are out there.
All that matters is how many competitors are focusing on the same target market in the same places.
You may very well find client groups that have a demand for the service, but who aren't being exposed to qualified writers. They're itching to find someone like you, but no one's making it easy enough on them.
When you combine project types with niche or industry expertise, you can build a specialty all your own.
Take some time this week and try to identify at least one place where you might be able to find potential clients, but also somewhere not saturated by your competition.
If you find a community like that, join it. Start contributing--not advertising, but really contributing.
Show off your expertise by educating your target market. When you teach them what you actually do, and what it can do for them, they'll have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into your projects.
Not only will you show them that you can handle the job, but you'll show them why you're worth paying a professional rate.
Consider it a challenge. See what you can come up with.