Why You Need to Reach Out to All Clients (Current and Past) in the Next Few Days

Last week I wrote a blog post recommending that all freelance writers reach out to all of their clients right now. And I’ve been blown away by the successes that people have shared with me. More than 40 people have told me that the 20 or 30 minutes spent contacting current and past clients has resulted in new assignments — many writers landing more than $2,000 worth of work. And many other writers received a positive response from clients and expect new work this week.

I personally sent eight emails last week to past and current clients letting them know I was available — my sample emails are below. And from my quick outreach, I received $4,000 of new work and expect more assignments later this week. Because of the successes that I’ve heard about from other writers and what I’ve experienced personally, I wanted to share my advice with my ASJA friends and other writers.

My biggest recommendation to every freelance writer is to reach out to all of your current and past clients letting them know you are available. Most companies are either ramping up or hitting pause. The trick is that you don’t know which clients fall into which category. And the ones that are swamped right now can’t think straight, not even to contact a freelancer. I am spending today (in between writing rush stories) proactively reaching out to all of my clients.

Not tomorrow. Not later this week, but today. Even if you are swamped right now, I still recommend doing this, because things could slow down dramatically next week so it’s best to take the work while its available. 

And I’m not talking about just recent clients. I am talking about everyone you’ve worked within the past few years. If your work is really slow, then I also recommend following up on every LOI you have sent in the past two years with recent clips. See the template below for you to use as a start for following up on LOIs. 

Not surprisingly, health writers are in high demand right now, many with more work than they can handle. But technology writers also are swamped right now, especially those in the B2B space. I also expect that lifestyle writers are in demand right now as companies want people stuck at home to use their products to make this time more enjoyable, by spending more time on cooking, decorating or games. 

With many schools and daycares closing, I know many freelancers also are struggling to figure out how to continue working with kids around. I am going to update this article with coronavirus specific ideas, but check out this snow day article from a few years ago for ideas in the meantime. My biggest advice would be to take advantage of this weekend, if you have a partner who is not working, to get caught up and to look for one family (to reduce risk) you can trade childcare with next week.

Travel Writers, Meeting Writers and Writers Covering In-Person Events 

Writers in the travel and meeting space are the ones reporting the worst slowdown. My advice to you is, first of all, take a deep breath. Next, look through all of your clips to see what other niches you have experience in that you can use right now. I am betting that most of you have clips related to tech, especially those who cover meetings because there is a lot of technology used in meetings. You can use these clips to get work in technology. You likely have a lot of experience that you can use to quickly grab some other niches. 

When you reach out to clients you already have a relationship with, especially agencies or companies that have areas that are picking up, I would be sure to say that, since you are in the travel/meeting industry, many of your clients have hit the pause button. Be honest. People you have worked with for months or years are going to want to help you and will be more likely to give you work or a referral. 

Here are some tips you can follow right now:

  1. Be clear that you can handle quick turnarounds. The companies that have work now probably need it done ASAP. I recommend letting them know in the subject line and first few sentences that you can get the projects done right away. Yes, I know some of you don’t like quick turnarounds, but right now that’s the best way to get work.  Right now, I’m seeing companies wanting 24- to 72-hour turnarounds on work. 
  2. Acknowledge coronavirus. Your client’s business has changed just like yours. You want them to think about ways you can help them with communicating changes and information.
  3. Focus on offering to help with projects, not specific pitches. Companies have already come up with their messaging and angle. Odds are they already know what they need to produce, they just don’t have the manpower. 
  4. Refer work to other writers. If you are overflowing with work right now or know a client who is looking for writers, refer other freelancers. And if you don’t know any then post in the FB group to get some referrals. I promise you that if you refer work out, karma will pay you back tenfold. 
  5. Ask for referrals to other projects and departments.  If you work with agencies, I recommend asking if other projects need help as well because the project you work on may be slow, but another may be going crazy. The same goes for companies. Ask about other departments and products that might need help. Be sure to tell the client about any other niches you have that might be applicable and they may not be aware of. 
  6. Look for a technology niche. Even if your primary niche isn’t technology, I recommend looking for clips and pitching that angle to current and new clients. Check out this post about how to find a technology niche. 
  7. Keep sending LOIs to potential new clients. A lot of writers keep asking if it’s insensitive to send LOIs right now. NOT AT ALL. Businesses are trying to keep their doors open and those that need content need it right now. I would absolutely make sure your LOIs reflect the current situation — see the template below for inspiration. 
  8. Follow up on LOIs. This is actually a lot quicker than creating new ones right now. I would send a quick follow up to everyone you have contacted. See the template below for an idea. 
  9. Be willing to work extra hours and over the weekend. This could all change. And it probably will. This is feast or famine at its best. So work late and work this weekend. I mean, what else do you have to do with everything cancelled?
  10. Be flexible. The angle could change on what you are working on. The entire story could change. You will win lots of brownie points by being flexible and going with the flow. 
  11. Offer to help with internal communications. Companies need to also keep their employees up to date and many are creating new remote working guides. Point out this opportunity as well to help clients think of new ways you can help.

Templates to Help you Get Started

Here are a few sample emails that I used in the past couple of days with different clients. You can use these as a start but be sure to customize
for your own style and needs. 

Email for Current Client Likely to Have Extra Work 

Here is an email that I sent to a current client that I assume has a lot of demand right now:

Dear X, 

I wanted to reach out since I know that COMPANY NAME is working to quickly create content about how companies can use the product with new remote teams. A few of my clients hit the pause button due to the virus, so I am available for any quick turnaround projects that you have. I will be working this weekend and I am happy to work on any blogs or white papers that you need. 

Let me know if there is anything that I can help you with, and I can get started right away. 

Email for Agency or Large Company  

Here is an email that would work for an agency or company with many products/departments:

Hi X, 

I wanted check in to see if any of the projects that your agency works on need extra hands on deck right now. A few of my clients hit the pause button due to the virus, so I am available for any quick turnaround projects you have. I will be working this weekend and I am happy to work on any blogs or white papers that you need. 

While I have worked primarily for (insert agency name) on technology projects, I have extensive financial experience with clients including, Amerprise, Fidelity and Genworth. I am confident that I can help with any financial content as well as B2B tech. 

Let me know if there is anything that I can help you with, and I can get started right away. 

Follow up for LOI sent previously 

I recommend following up on LOI’s right now from the past year or two. I would especially contact companies who said that they will keep your information on file, since they were interested in working with you. 

Dear X, 

I wanted to follow up on our emails from last year to see if you need help with any freelance writing projects. I have experience writing B2B technology and my clients include Adobe, HPE, Microsoft and IBM.  

A few of my clients hit the pause button due to the virus, so I am available for any quick turnaround projects that you have. I will be working this weekend and I am happy to work on any blogs or white papers that you need. 

Let me know if there is anything that I can help you with, and I can get started right away. 

You’ve Got This

Yes, it feels scary. And being a business owner right now makes it extra nerve-wracking. Things are going to be a bit wild here for a bit. And as freelancers, we will just need to ride it out and be as proactive as possible. If you start to worry about work and the future of freelancing, use that worry proactively to market yourself.  And then head to the FCMW group on Facebook for advice and reassurance. 

I have no idea how the next few weeks are going to play out. But I do know from past experience that the freelancers who will do the best through this crazy time are those who are proactive and flexible. And that, as freelancers, the best thing we can do right now is stick together and help each other.