How I'm Searching for My First Client
It's been a few weeks since I've launched this freelance writing/virtual assistant website. To be honest, I did get side tracked for a little bit. After spending hours upon hours working on this site, it was a relief to finally have it released to the masses (or the 1 or 2 of you) and then I wound up getting a toothache.. one that just wouldn't stop. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and tried waiting it out but that didn't work out so well for me. I was in pain and I don't know about you but when I am in pain, I am not really able to focus on much. I finally ended up at the dentist's office last week and had to have a wisdom tooth yanked out. I swear, going to the dentist feels like being in a horror movie at times. I wasn't put under, I was awake and fully aware for the entire thing. eeeeek!
Now that I am back to my normal self, I am going to share with you some of the things I have done in an attempt to start bringing in some extra cash and get this freelance writing and virtual assistant gig off the ground. I am not expecting it to just happen overnight but I know I could have and should have put more effort into it these last few weeks than I did, but shit happens. I would much rather be working on this than dealing with a searing wisdom tooth.
Before I launched the website, the first thing I did was start a Facebook fan page for this business. You can join us here. I share information about my own website and services along with information I come across revolving around writing or starting your own virtual assistant/social media management business.
The second thing I did was post a couple of ads on Craigslist. I picked the closest bigger cities in my area and then advertised my services in a creative way. I learned the hard way not to post the same exact thing in different cities. I did this and the second ad was deleted for duplicate content. I may eventually try some other cities to see if that helps. I did get a response the other day. The guy told me he had a website for his small business and needed some professionally written articles on the site going into detail about the services he provides. He asked for my rates. I messaged him back asking him for more info such as how many articles or pages he needed written and approximate word length just so I could give him a more accurate quote. He responded with, "can you provide me with your basic rate?". I wasn't quite sure how to handle this but I ended up responding with one of the package deals I have on the website for five 500-800 word articles. That was 2 days ago and I've yet to get a response.
What are content mills?
I really wanted to stay away from content mills. If you don't know what they are, content mills are websites where businesses advertise work that they need such as content creation for them to use on their websites. Writers "bid" on the job. These content mills have members from all over the world and unfortunately, many writers are willing to write 500 or more words for a mere $5 or for $3-$5 a hour. The majority of these articles need to be seo and keyword laden to drive traffic to whatever website they are being used on. Unfortunately, unless you are willing to work for peanuts, you won't get much from these content mills. That being said, I've read stories of people who started out doing jobs for peanuts but ended up connecting with a bigger client who had higher paying jobs for them. I guess it depends on if you are willing to take the chance. I've worked for peanuts in the past just to generate some type of income however, now that I do work full time and have limited time to work on this side hustle, my time is a lot more valuable to me now and I refuse to work for pennies.
That being said, I have signed up for a few of these content mills and freelancing websites. Upwork was a website I have heard a lot about, so I signed up for them. You get a limited amount of "bids" each month that you can use to bid on a project. They have all types of jobs available including graphic design, administration, website design...etc.. I have only bid on a few jobs so far because most of them are too low balled for me. For instance, I saw one job listing that was looking for someone to proofread, edit and pretty much re-write some articles for $1/100 words. That equals out to $5 for 500 words. Proofreading is pretty simple but editing and re-writing can eat up some time. My time is worth more than that. A few other sites I have signed up for are Guru, and Freelancer. There is almost always some type of catch somewhere. For instance, on Guru an Freelancer, you can improve your profile by taking skills tests that will prove your knowledge or performance with certain skills but these skills tests cost money, and some job postings require that you pass specific skills tests.
I signed up for XPlace yesterday only to get through the sign up process to find out I have to pay. Many of these freelance job sites require a membership fee in order to gain access and or apply to the jobs. I can see pros and cons of requiring a membership fee. I'm sure it is a great way to keep the thirsty workers wiling to work for pennies, at bay but I refuse to pay to find a job especially being a struggling single mother. You don't have to pay to apply for a job in the 'real' world. My way of thinking is that a worthy client will be willing to pay more in order to receive high quality products in return.
Using LinkedIn for Freelancing
I am new to LinkedIn also. I have made a profile, listed my skills and job experience and what services I have to offer. I've added a few people and I've joined a lot of groups centered around freelance writing, entrepreneurship, virtual assistants and any of the niches I have decided to focus on. I replied to a post in a group that was offering pay and free products in exchange for product reviews on Amazon. The pay wasn't great but you got to keep the product that you review so I thought it could be fun. The person messaged me back telling me that I had to pay for the product up front, write the review and then I would be paid. Uhh, no.
I think I need to finally break down and make up a calendar for each day. I feel like there are soo many things that I need to do, at least until the jobs start coming in. I need to continually post on all social media sites. Even if I use an auto-poster, it still takes time to create each post. I need to take time to go through the few job sites I have joined. I need to be more active on LinkedIn and Google+, keep up with this blog and I try to read as much information as I can on Pinterest and the various freelance groups I am in on Facebook to learn as much as possible and get more ideas. Eventually, I want to do a couple of e-books, plus finish my auto-biography I just turned 40, the clock is ticking. I feel like I don't have time to get what I need to get done. I try to work on things even while I'm at work on my 10 minute breaks and lunch breaks. I need to make a schedule and work on one thing at a time. The thing with the job boards though is that you need to bid on new jobs as quickly as you can and it can be difficult to do them just a day or two each week. Eventually I will figure out what works best for me.
Be sure to leave comments and let me know of any experiences you have with job lead boards and/or using LinkedIn and social media for landing your first freelance clients. Maybe you have some insight you can offer or some good leads that I may not know about yet?