Losing freelance writing clients is a real drag, especially when you're depending on them to make ends meet. It can be disheartening and might make you feel like it was something you did… like a sad breakup. But often, it has nothing to do with you.
Yes, losing clients really sucks. But as a freelancer, you'll have to learn to accept that every once in a while, it's inevitable. Things happen, clients change their plans or have their own unforeseen issues and need to pause or stop working with you.
While this kind of thing happens all the time and while there's not much you can do about it, it's still good to know what to do when you lose freelance writing clients.
Depending on the reasons your client offers for choosing to part ways or put projects on hold, you might be tempted to take somewhat drastic measures to try and keep them.
- Maybe you offer to drop your rate. (Hopefully just temporarily…)
- Maybe you offer a new service to take on more work than what you initially signed up for that may or may not really fall into your “wheelhouse” or what you want to be doing. (For example, maybe instead of just writing content, you offer to start planning, organizing, or publishing it.)
- Maybe you beg them to stay. (Don't do this… It's not a great look.)
There are several things you might do. And while I don't want to tell you to never, ever do these sorts of things, that's a decision you have to make for yourself.
But what I can tell you is that assuming a client will leave or pause for a while is a good mindset to have. Because it will happen. Someday. For some reason.
In light of that, here are 4 things you can do to be prepared for the worst – losing a client you were depending on.
1. When you lose freelance writing clients, it's important to stay consistent in marketing yourself.
When you first start your freelance writing business, you should be telling er'ybody! This is not the time to be shy and only tell your mom. Someone you know might know someone that needs a writer. And you could be that writer!
So don't stop consistently hollering about your business. When you're consistent, you will never feel like you're scrambling. But when you only post or remind your circle that you're a freelancer when you need work, you risk appearing desperate.
Instead, post a few times a week about your services and business on your social channels. (Or, if you're feeling really brave, make new profiles for your biz. 😉) LinkedIn and Facebook (no, really!) are great places to post about your expertise and services.
Consider sending some emails to former bosses, colleagues, previous clients, or other professional contacts you have that might help you reach more potential people.
This is a great opportunity to market your services as “exclusive” and show that you don't work with just anyone. Don't be afraid to share that you just had a client spot open up and you're talking with businesses who need help. Make the most of what you've got.
2. Reach out to competitors or similarly-niched businesses and pitch your services to fill your client vacancies.
Now, I say this with a small caveat: Be sure you're not breaking any contractual agreements on this. If your contract specifically states that you will not work with known competitors of your client within a specific time window, do not do this. You could get into big legal trouble.
But if there are no such specifics in your contract, reach out! Give this a try.
Be careful about how you approach these potential clients. You shouldn't mention your client by name, but rather that you have extensive experience writing for that particular niche.
Ask your previous clients for permission to use links for content you wrote as part of your portfolio. Send those links to the client you're pitching.
3. Keep working on your own portfolio with your newfound extra time.
If you enjoy writing for your previous client's niche, keep doing it. Build a strong portfolio of example content you can publish on your own blog or other public profile.
If there are other niches you want to break into, now is a great time to write some examples. This will not only strengthen your writing (more practice = more experience) but give you solid evidence of your ability when you apply for future gigs.
If you're feeling really brave, start pitching your ideas to publications that might publish them. You'll not only have a more prestigious place showing evidence of your work, but you'll get an actual byline and may even get paid!
4. Scour entrepreneur-centric Facebook groups, freelance writing job boards, and LinkedIn for writing opportunities.
If you've been hanging out with me for long, you know that I share a few freelance writing opportunities every week in my newsletters. They come from all over the place and are for writers with varying levels of experience.
Now that you have some idea of where to look for writing gigs, get your search party hat on. Don't sit on your hards! Start looking for opportunities that fit your experience and pay a reasonable rate. Remember that you can also send cold pitches to potential clients you think you’d like to work with, too.
Losing a client might feel terrible in the moment, but it's certainly not the end of the world. There is so much work out there and there are clients who are looking for someone just like you. When you lose a freelance writing client, don't wallow in sorrow for long. Jump back on the horse, get out there, and find a new (and maybe better 😉) client.
Everyone knows how Instagram works, but not everyone knows how to make the most out of it. Sometimes, it’s quite challenging to keep up with updates, write Instagram captions, and post content that will get the algorithm’s attention.
That said, it’s not surprising that many people overlook the importance of Instagram captions. After all, it’s mainly a visual social media platform and for many users, it stays that way – a place to share a funny video or a few photos with friends.
However, as a freelance writer, you can use Instagram to represent your (or clients’!) brand and get visible. This is where Instagram captions come into play.
Why Instagram Captions Are Important
The obvious main purpose of Instagram captions is to describe a picture or video. An Instagram post with no text can look dull and uninteresting. Adding an effective caption brings more context and life to your posts.
With that in mind, here are 3 reasons every business or brand should include relevant and strategic captions with Instagram posts.
You get a chance to tell your story.
Storytelling is a must when it comes to branding.
A well-written story inspires, encourages, and sells. It attracts the right audience, creates an emotional attachment, and turns people into loyal followers. A story makes you human.
The key, however, is to make sure you’re writing a relatable story for your audience that creates a deeper connection with them.
Captions give you the opportunity to show your unique writing and brand voice. This is a chance for you to stand out in the social media crowd and share your authentic values. All this creates space for a higher engagement and gives you a better understanding of your followers’ thoughts and needs. Which, in return, creates a better offer.
You become more visible.
Instagram’s search engine optimization (SEO) system works the way Google does. If your text contains searchable keywords related to your brand, you can easily get discovered through a simple search.
Not only that, but your posts will also appear in your target audience’s feed if they like or engage with similar content. (This is especially true of Instagram reels.) Ensuring your posts include well-thought captions can give you a significant chance to stand out among other businesses and similar posts.
You get higher engagement.
A good photo attracts, but what makes people stay is your photo description. It makes them keep reading, follow, and engage with your content. The more time a user spends hovering on your posts, the better it is for the Instagram algorithm. That leads to a higher chance of attracting more eyeballs to your content organically (i.e. without spending money to advertise).
In addition, if you’ve written a caption that invites engagement – maybe you ask a question or make a specific call to action like “save this post” or “send this to a friend” – your followers are more likely to engage and do as you ask.
No caption, no chance for much engagement.
How to Write Engaging Instagram Captions
So how do you write engaging captions that attract followers?
Let’s get to the juicy details.
Make your first sentence stand out.
When people scroll through their feed, they don’t see your post as an entire text. They see only a picture and the first sentence at the top of your post. That means…
Your first sentence is extremely important.
I can’t stress this enough: Your first sentence is CRUCIAL.
Remember that your goal is to write a sentence that will make people stop scrolling and start reading your post. Open up your caption with a hook that’ll catch your reader’s attention. It should deliver the main idea of the entire text, but not overwhelm or bore a reader. Keeping your first sentence simple, short, and on-point is the way to go.
From a follower’s perspective, it’s always nice when a brand asks for their opinion about products or services. This is a great way to do market research, invite engagement, and form a relationship with your audience at the same time.
Your primary focus should be on keeping your sentences as natural as possible. Nothing turns a reader off more than forced and robotic writing. Likewise, “fake” tones are always obvious and unappealing. You don’t want to sound too sales-y or too laid-back, either.
Consider your brand voice: Is it funny and punchy or is it serious and precise?
Think about the ways your voice may affect your audience’s decisions about the products or services you’re trying to sell. How do you want your audience to perceive you? What do you want them to feel when reading your content?
Keep your tone and style similar throughout all your written content to maintain your brand identity.
Don’t “water down” your captions.
Prioritize quality over quantity when deciding on the length of your captions.
Instagram provides you with a limit of 2,200 characters per single post. There’s no right or wrong length for your captions, but use the space wisely.
Here are a few key points for writing the main body of your caption text:
1. Add all the important information you want your audience to know. The key is to keep it interesting for your audience to read. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, but keep your text readable and easy to digest.
2. Provide value through your text. This is the quickest way to win your target audience. After all, people come for the interesting and entertaining content but stay (and come back!) for the valuable information.
3. Do your research prior to posting. Before claiming expertise on a topic, make sure to proofread for any misinformation and controversies. Be sure you know what you’re talking about.
4. Don’t forget to add keywords for better search engine optimization. You get discovered via the words you write in your caption and hashtags. Take the time to optimize your captions when writing.
Add a question or a call to action in the end.
To engage your audience with your content – meaning keeping them reading and commenting on your post – add a question at the end of your caption. The question could be anything from asking their opinion about the topic to encouraging them to tell their story that relates to the content of your post. People like talking about themselves; give them a chance to tell their story.
Another way to keep their fingertips in your comment section is to add a simple call to action at the bottom of your post. You can tell them to follow the account, leave a DM, or check a link in the bio. It’s a simple way to boost both engagement and the click rate on your account.
Offering Instagram Caption Writing Services
If you’re looking to start a freelance writing career (or add a new service), writing for social media is something you can consider adding to your portfolio.
Many businesses lack excellent copy on their Instagram because they’re not “good” (or comfortable) writers or don’t have time to devote to writing strong captions. There are plenty of business owners who are willing to pay someone to write captions for their brand!
If it’s something you’re interested in trying, simply add a spot on your services page with a short description of what you’ll offer. Start working on growing your own Instagram following to prove your worth.
To increase your rate, keep track of the metrics of your own posts. Once you have some solid data, you can market yourself as an experienced social media content writer.
As a freelance writer, you’re already primed to write amazing Instagram captions for your clients. It’s an incredibly valuable copywriting or content writing service. With experience and data to back up your expertise, you can build another lucrative side to your freelance writing business.
What exactly is search engine optimization? Why why does it matter? And what do you need to know about SEO as a freelance writer?
When you’re applying for freelance writing gigs, you may come across job postings that require or “prefer” experience with SEO. But if you don’t have a background in writing content specifically for internet searches, you might be scratching your head.
As a freelance writer, you don’t necessarily need to be a search engine optimization pro, but it will definitely behoove you to have at least a basic understanding of what it is, what it does, and why it’s important.
And more importantly, if you are super interested in it, offering SEO blog writing and copywriting services is a great way to charge a higher freelance writing rate.
Here’s a primer on what you need to know about SEO as a freelance writer.
What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
Whether your clients have an existing blog or they’re wanting to start one, they’re probably asking themselves, “Okay, well how does a search engine determine what’s a good ‘match’ and what isn’t?”
This is where that buzz phrase “search engine optimization” or “SEO” comes into play.
SEO refers to how search engines like Google and Bing “index” or keep records of a business website along with every other piece of content on the internet. From blog posts to news articles to videos to images – it’s all categorized and logged by search engines.
Here are the basics:
Search engines “crawl” across the web and “read” the content on each individual webpage to determine its main topic. They also look for key phrases, common question-answer strings, and straight-up single keywords (depending on the breadth of the search query) in order to churn out a list of top results.
It may sound complicated, but at its core, it’s pretty simple.
Still confused? Imagine SEO as a librarian.
If you’re still confused, let’s think about it in real-world terms. Imagine a search engine is a librarian. Here’s how it works:
- Based on varying criteria, the librarian (or, tfor our example, the search engine) reviews all the books (websites and web pages) he or she can and chooses a place for them in the library.
- You go to the library and ask the librarian for a book (website results) based on a topic you’ve given them (your search query).
- The librarian (search engine) comes back with a ranked list of all the books (websites) he or she thinks will best answer your question or fulfill your requests. The best matches will be at the top of the list; the worst ones will be at the bottom.
This process of a librarian making book suggestions is the simplest way to understand how SEO works.
Okay, but can my clients have a successful SEO strategy without a business blog?
Yes, but let me start by saying this: I’m a firm believer that every business should have a blog – whether it be simple or robust.
If your clients are on the fence or unconvinced about why they really should have a blog, here are a few points you can make when speaking with them:
- A blog plays a major active role in how search engines (::hint hint:: GOOGLE) review and index a website.
- An active blog tells search engines and potential buyers that a business is alive and well.
- By having an informative blog, your clients give their fans a place to gain free value which ultimately builds trust.
- By building trust, they position themselves as an expert in their industry, niche, or locale.
These are just a few of my arguments for setting up a business blog… If I sat and thought about it all day, I could bombard you with more. Suffice it to say, the reasons for having a business blog far outweigh the counter-arguments and “inconveniences” business owners cite for going without one.
But all that said… Businesses asking for writers with SEO experience are probably looking for blog content, so you may not need to convince them of anything!
Now let’s dive into how SEO actually affects your clients’ websites directly and why you should care about it as a freelance writer.
How does SEO actually affect a website?
Ideally, every page on a website should be optimized for search engines – not just the blog. By that, I mean every single page on a website – even the pages that seem meaningless – should have specific keywords or phrases that help search engines direct web surfers to that site.
The better, intentional, and more complete the SEO strategy is across their entire website, the more likely your clients will be to rank in search results.
Remember: Google (the search engine, let’s be real) is going to look at everything – there are no “secret drawers” it won’t open. (Technically, there are ways to direct Google not to log your pages, but we won’t get into that here.)
Now let’s think of Google as a snoopy mother-in-law:
- Your mother-in-law is coming for a visit and she’s very critical. She’s going to look at everything in your house (website).
- Getting compliments from her (appearing on the front page of search results) is hard to come by. So, if you want to impress her or, at the very least, get closer to being complimented, everything you’ve got should, ideally, be super organized (optimized for search engines).
- The closer to perfect your entire home (website) is, the better your mother-in-law will compliment you (rank your website on the first page of search results) and rave about you to others (consistently put your website on the first page).
So what does that entail?
- Intentionally optimizing every page link, from the home page to the blog posts to the “about” page.
- Writing page descriptions and meta descriptions for all pages, blog categories, and blog posts.
- Blog posts include at least one image, preferably a branded “featured image.”
- Giving images and videos uploaded to your clients’ websites or blog posts a file name containing the keywords they’re trying to rank for.
- Adding alt text to every image on your site.
The Open Secret to Writing SEO Content: Keywords
Writing SEO content for your clients is actually easier than you think. In fact, you’re probably already doing it without even realizing it much of the time.
The most important thing you can do (especially if you are the one suggesting content topics for your clients) is to do some keyword research. This is THE #1 key to a successful SEO strategy.
When we’re talking about search optimization keywords, there are two different camps: short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords.
“Short-tail keywords” are generally single words or phrases that encompass a topic. For example, “search engine optimization” or “chocolate cake” or even just “Miami.”
This is how SEO was fueled back in the day – before Google became so smart that engineers started thinking it had come alive. (Yes, that’s a real concern now!)
In the early days of the internet, SEO was in its infancy and not very “smart.” So these “short-tail keywords” were the only way to let search engines know what the content was about. As a result, content and copywriters used an early SEO practice now referred to as “keyword stuffing.”
“Keyword stuffing” means you use the keyword(s) as often as you can, even if it sounds or reads awkwardly. You needed to let the search engines know what the blog post or page was about, and the best way to do that was to make it blatantly obvious.
These days, this is not only unnecessary but a giant no-no. Google and Bing won’t “reward” sites that use keywords like this anymore; they’ll actually penalize them.
On the other hand, “long-tail keywords” are what are most used in today’s SEO efforts. This simply means looking for strings of keywords or phrases that are searched for most often.
Think about it: If you were looking for information on search engine optimization, you probably wouldn’t go to Google and type that in. You’d be more specific, right? You’d try something like “how to do search engine optimization” or “what is search optimization.”
Likewise, someone looking for something about chocolate cake might type in “gluten-free chocolate cake recipes” or “Hersheys cocoa chocolate cake.” Someone looking for things to do or places to go will specify what they’re searching for in their query.
Long-tail keywords are how we most often search the internet now. You do it all the time without noticing! Because when you type in a short-tail keyword, there’s no telling what kind of results will come back or how long it will take you to find what you’re looking for.
Long-tail keywords help internet users find exactly what they want with less effort.
How to Write SEO Content for Your Clients
If you’re offering SEO services or your clients are asking for SEO-friendly blogs, the main thing you need to know is what keywords they’re hoping to rank for.
It’s important to note (and remind your clients) that SEO is a long game – there’s no overnight success. It takes time, consistency, and dedication.
The internet is flooded with information now and it’s hard to rank for a lot of things these days. And it’s hard when you’re competing with bigger companies that may have had an internet presence for a long time. That said, it’s not impossible.
To write content for your clients, start by doing some keyword research and ask them what kinds of things their ideal customers or clients are searching the internet to find. I recommend using a tool like Ubersuggest if you’re new to SEO. It’s easy to understand and will give you a ton of information for free. Neil Patel, the creator of Ubersuggest, has some fantastic YouTube videos, too, on how to use and get the most out of it.
Once you know what keywords you’re going for, write content as you normally would. Use normal language and integrate your keywords in a way that feels and reads naturally – don’t keyword stuff!
When Writing Gigs Ask for “SEO Freelance Writers”
Can you apply for freelance writing jobs without SEO experience?
Yes, you absolutely can.
Obviously, not every gig is going to be asking for SEO experience. And those that do may not have a strong understanding of “all the things” any more than you do. If you have a basic understanding, you can probably apply for gigs that ask for SEO knowledge (and certainly for those that don’t mention it at all).
A word of caution, though: If the gig clearly states you need a strong understanding of SEO and it seems like they know what they’re talking about, apply but be forward about your level of understanding and experience. Having little SEO knowledge isn’t necessarily a non-negotiable for everyone. But you definitely don’t want to be dishonest about what you know (or don’t know, in this case).
And if you’re planning to offer SEO services, do your homework and make sure you feel like you've got a strong handle on how it works and how to do it well. These days, everyone wants search-optimized content, so this is a great way to market yourself and raise your rate.
Search engine optimization has a long name and instills fear in many new freelance writers, but it shouldn’t. Catching on to how it works and making it work for you and your clients is easier than you think.
Are you on a mission this year?
If you haven't taken the leap to start freelance writing yet, what's been holding you back? This isn't meant to be a rhetorical question – I'm legit asking you to answer.
Think about it for a minute, look at my list of “whys” below, and whisper or speak out loud (yes, OUT LOUD) the ones that sound like you:
- I don't know how to get started as a freelance writer.
- I don't have a freelance writing website.
- I'm embarrassed by my LinkedIn profile.
- I don't know how to build a portfolio.
- I have content I can use for a portfolio but I don't know how to, you know, make a freelance writing portfolio.
- I don't want to tell (or I'm afraid to tell) people I know that I'm a freelance writer.
- I don't want my job to know I'm side hustling.
- I don't feel like I have the right skills or talents to be a freelance writer.
- I don't know where I can find paid writing opportunities.
- I don't know how to apply for freelance writing gigs.
- I don't know where to find clients.
- I'm afraid of “cold calling” and pitching to businesses.
- I don't know how to run a business.
- I don't want to worry about how my taxes will change if I'm even partially self-employed.
- I don't know how to market myself.
- I don't know what options I have as a freelance writer.
- I don't have time to devote to working more.
- My friends and family don't understand why I want to start a side hustle or full-time business.
Girl, these are just excuses brought on by imposter syndrome. And you're not alone.
Find the Tiger in You
In the Chinese zodiac, 2022 is the year of the tiger. Now, I don't consider myself to be especially superstitious, but I kind of love embracing some woo-woo stuff every now and then.
And this is one of those times.
I was recently googling to find what “the year of the tiger” is supposed to mean for all us mere mortals. And I found something really encouraging from digital lifestyle brand and magazine, Pure Wow:
“The Year of the Tiger will be about making big changes. This will be a year of risk-taking and adventure. We’re finding enthusiasm again, both for ourselves and for others.”
2022 is your year to channel your inner Katy Perry and roar.
Ignore those things your brain keeps telling you are reasons why you can't get started.
Because you can. You just have to start. Take one step. Do the opposite of what you spoke out loud above:
Revamp your Linkedin profile.
Check out my list of surprising places to find freelance writing work.
Download my ebook to learn more about what you need to do to get started.
Start building your freelance writing website.
Pitch ideas for personal essays to publications you read often.
Heck, sign up for my email list! Let's be friends. I understand all the things that go with taking a leap and starting a business… and having friends and family who just don't get it.
I believe this is our year. Let's make it so.
I was recently reading an email from an entrepreneur I follow—Jessica Stansberry. The whole email was about 4 things she did to shift her mindset and as a result, her business exploded.
The one thing in her email that literally stopped me in my tracks was that she quit thinking about her business as a “little” business.
And hold the phone, friend… That is EXACT-A-LY the thing I've needed to hear.
I've spent so much of my freelance writing business as “small” and “nothing to boast about” because it's still a side hustle for me. And for a while, sure, that was probably the right way to think about it.
And I realized in that moment, reading that email, that I still let myself feel like an imposter, all these years later. I felt like less of a “writer” because I spent all my time writing for other people rather than writing for myself—writing about what matters to me and about how I feel.
All of this made me think of you, gentle reader. Because maybe you're still thinking small and not ready to consider yourself an “entrepreneur” or a “business person.”
But you are!
The moment you launch your freelance writing website, you're a freelance writer.
The minute you hit “send” on that first pitch or apply for that first gig, you're a freelancer.
The first time you tell someone you're a freelance writer, you step into entrepreneurship and freelance writing.
And for every first, there is a moment when we think small and we feel like we're kidding ourselves.
I'm no stranger to this: I've got a ton of experience and lessons behind me, I'm still, you know… thinking small. I don't think about the fact that I know what I'm doing or that, because I'm thinking of myself “only” as a side hustler, I'm rising to that level in my work.
I would be straight-up lying to you if I said I've got it all figured out, but I'm working on it. These are the steps I'm taking to upgrade my mindset and I challenge you to do the same.
1. When you talk about your freelancing work, omit the words “small” or “little” or phrases like “not a big deal.”
I still hold a full-time job, so the “side hustle” fact of my business remains. It might remain for you, too. But that's not what needs to change about how I think about my business.
I am thinking and talking about my business in ways that assume it's going to be – and that it already is– successful. I'm running a side hustle, yes. But it's not “small.” It's a business and I'm remembering to treat it like it's thriving.
Whether you've been hired or are still looking for that first opportunity, don't fool yourself into believing you're just a “small” operation.
2. Tell yourself in the mirror that your business is awesome and super-successful.
This sounds ridiculous but there is something so powerful about saying things to your own face. 😂
Trust me: You can write it down or say it aloud in your affirmations, but actually looking yourself in the eye in the mirror and saying it to yourself makes you believe it on a deeper level.
Here's the secret: If you feel stupid, you're doing it right. 😉
Don't know what to say to yourself? Try this:
“My freelance writing business is not ‘small' or ‘not a big deal.' It's a big deal. I'm going to meet my goals and achieve my dreams because I work hard and I help people [fill in the blank here with what you do].”
I mean, have a real Ron Burgundy moment.
3. Start spending time with other entrepreneurs.
You don't need to follow or necessarily spend all your time with other women, but being part of a dynamic circle of other ladies who are running businesses and who get the ins and outs of business life will build you up more than I can say.
This is especially true when you spend time not just with other entrepreneurs but with other writers. Make freelancing friends, not enemies!
I've been lucky enough to work with some great women over the years and I still try to talk with them on the regular. I'm making new connections this week, too, reaching out more, and befriending a “competitor.” Because you know what? There's plenty of business to go around and we don't do or offer exactly the same things.
Make friends with other entrepreneurs and other writers! It will change your life and help boost your mindset.
So that's what I've got for you. Three simple ways to stop thinking “small” and upgrade your mindset surrounding your freelance writing business.
Give it a try for a few days. Hit me up to let me know how it's going – find me on LinkedIn or Instagram, or send me a message. I can't wait to hear from you.