The Secret Source of Never-Ending Customers for Freelancers
Nine out of ten freelancers will tell you that their biggest challenge is finding new customers.
And not just any customers – we’re talking about the good customers, the ones that really want to work with you, trust you to do a good job, listen to you, accept your guidance, and have a budget to pay for it all!
But finding customers like this isn’t easy, and that’s why so many freelancers find themselves pounding the pavement from networking event to networking event looking for their next lead.
And so they turn to the internet and blogosphere.
The promise seems to be that if you build a thriving online audience or community, you’ll have a never-ending stream of customers. So freelancers bite the bullet, add blogs to their websites, and work hard to update those blogs on a regular basis.
Except that most of those blogs have no readers, generate no business, and are nothing more than a giant, frustrating time-suck.
What are they missing?
Go to Where the Eyeballs Are
The answer is that they’re blogging in the wrong place!
Why the wrong place?
Simple – because their blogs have no readers, and no subscribers… so who are they really writing for?
They’re writing for the hopes that someone will miraculously stumble onto their post, love it, tell their friend, who’ll tell his friend, who’ll tell Seth Godin, who’ll blog about it and turn their blog into an overnight success. Except that seriously – what are the odds, right?
The fact is that, even though there are exceptions, generally speaking your stuff is not going to go viral until you reach a critical mass of readers who like it and can spread the word.
Until then, you have to go where the eyeballs already are, and that’s other blogs. They’ve already got thousands, tens of thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of readers.
So why not just write for them?
And I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not as hard to get in as you might think!
Find Your Target Blogs
The first step is to find your target blog, and unfortunately, the few freelancers who realize that they should be going the guest-posting route blow it at this very first step.
How do they blow it?
By trying to write about their field (writing, design, etc.) on freelancer blogs related to their field, like FreelanceSwitch, Smashing Magazine, and others.
Why is that a bad move for most freelancers?
Because you don’t want to build a following of your peers – you want to build a following of your prospects and customers! (That’s why I’m writing here – I help freelancers with their marketing, and I help freelancers with their guest posting, which is exactly what this post is about!)
So where should you be guest posting? The answer is wherever your target audience is likely to be hanging out.
If you’re targeting small business (though you should really have a more specific target than that), you should go after marketing blogs, small business management blogs, and any other blogs that small business owners are likely to read.
If you’re targeting a more specific niche (like you should be!), then that niche probably has blogs catering specifically to them. That’s who you should be writing for!
Research and Give them EXACTLY What They Want
Once you’ve found your target blogs, it’s time to start doing some research to see what the readers of that blog like to read. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – just see what they have responded well to in the past, and use that as a base.
You do that research by looking at what posts have performed best in the past, as measured by comments, tweets, Facebook likes or shares, and any other metric that the blogger is tracking (after all, those are the metrics that probably matter most to the blogger).
Make a list of the top performing posts, and then look for patterns:
- What are the posts about? You’ll usually find that a good portion of the most successful posts on a site are about the same 1-3 topics. So why not write about how your work can relate to that topic?
- What do the headlines look like? You’ll also probably find that a good portion of the most successful posts on a site share the same 1-3 headline structures. So look for similarities, and model your headlines after that pattern.
Once you’ve got a good sense of what to write about and what your headline should be, you’re ready to approach the blogger and offer to write the post for them.
Offer the Post to the Blogger
Rather than talk you through all the intricacies of making the approach, I figured I’d just give you a template. This is the exact template that I use to reach out to bloggers for the first time, and it’s the exact template that I teach my students to use as well. If you use it properly, it works like a charm:
SUBJECT: Guest Posting on [BLOG NAME]: “[HEADLINE IDEA]”
Hi [BLOGGER'S NAME],
I only recently discovered your blog, but as you know, I really like your stuff! [ALTERNATIVELY, I'VE BEEN READING FOR A WHILE, ETC.]
I’ve been thinking about writing a post about [SUBJECT], and it occurred to me that it would be a great fit for your audience. Here are a couple of ideas for the headline (which can be changed, of course):
To get a sense of my writing, you can check out [YOUR BLOG], or my recent guest post on [BLOGG YOU’VE GUEST POSTED ON] – it got over [NUMBER] comments and [NUMBER] tweets [OR OTHER PERFORMANCE METRIC].
What do you think? Shall I write up a draft?
Now, like I said, there are intricacies to using this template that I can’t go into in this post – stuff like not triggering defense reflexes of bloggers protective of their audience, not being too pushy, etc. That stuff is covered in my training, but you don’t need to worry about it – as long as you don’t mess with the template, it’ll do all that work for you.
From this point, you’re a hop, skip and a jump to getting published, getting in front of a large number of valuable prospects, and starting to build that loyal following and corresponding stream of customers.
So what’s next?
Three Possible Next Steps (Two Good, One Bad)
There are three possible next steps that you could take. Two of these options are great for you and your business, and one of them is terrible. Let’s start with the two good ones:
- You could get started finding your blogs, researching them, proposing posts to them, and getting closer and closer to seeing results.
- You could get help doing all these things. If you need more guidance, that’s fine, and I encourage you to check out my training as a starting point.
- You could do nothing.
Both of these options are great, and I encourage you to do one or the other. Here’s the option that I think you should absolutely stay away from, at all costs:
If you do nothing, you will get no results. Reading this and understanding that it’s a good idea is a start, but without action, it won’t take you very far. So take action. You don’t have to buy my program (or anybody’s program) – you can just take what I’ve shared in his post, and get to work. So get to it!