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3 Marketing hacks I used to build a $5K/mo freelance business in 4 months

Table of ContentsUpdated Jul 11, 2016

In April 2015, I got fired from my full-time job.

By August, I had built a freelance writing business that was bringing in $5k+/month.

I didn’t have a degree, a network, or any experience running a business full-time.

But what I did have was an optimistic attitude, a willingness to learn and work hard, and marketing skills that allowed me to grow my income fast.

Ready to learn which marketing strategies I used to build a $5k/month freelance writing business fast?

Let’s talk about my 3 favorites, starting with the one that helped me the most as a newbie.

1. Utilizing cold emailing

I’m going to be real with you here – you can’t just send 10 cold emails every week and expect amazing results.

You need to cold email at least 20 people per day if you really want to build a clientele fast.

Now, I know what you might be thinking:

Cold emailing? I could never do that!

It might seem scary and time-consuming to reach out to tons of people you’ve never met before, but you need to do it anyway because it works.

And I’m not just saying that; I know from experience.

I made $800 from cold emailing alone in my first month as a full-time freelance writer.

Here are a few tips about cold emailing to keep in mind:

Use LimeLeads. My secret weapon when it comes to cold emailing is LimeLeads, a huge database of B2B leads. You can use it to search for your clients by industry and gather their contact information.

And just like that – you’ve got tons of email addresses and a solid way to market to your ideal clients!

Customize every email you send. Let’s face it – no one wants to get a copied-and-pasted email that was sent to hundreds of other people.

Talk about the specific results you can drive for each client you email, and mention something you like about their site to let them know you actually took the time to check it out.

Use the recipient’s name in your subject line and email greeting. An Experian study showed that personalized subject lines result in 26% higher open rates.

That simple action could make all the difference in the number of people who hire you to write for them.

Keep in mind that the quality of your emails is important and will determine how many leads you’ll be able to convert to clients.

You’ll get much better results from sending 100 well-thought-out emails to one target audience than you will from sending 200 thrown-together, untargeted emails.

2. Taking advantage of LinkedIn

While cold emailing is the best way to land new clients fast, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to set yourself up for long-term success as a freelance writer.

If you’ve never used LinkedIn before, you’re probably wondering:

How can I get the attention of my target clients on LinkedIn and make them want to work with me?

Here’s the 4-step process I used as a newbie freelance writer:

Step 1: I optimized my profile to sell to one audience. When I started out, I specialized in writing copy for IT service providers, so I put that niche in my headline and summary.

Step 2: I started adding my target clients as connections. My target clients were CEOs and marketing managers at IT companies, so I added them by sending connection requests and personalized messages.

Step 3: I used LinkedIn Publisher to share posts specifically relevant to my target clients. For example, one post I wrote was called “The ABCs of Content Marketing for IT Service Providers.”

Step 4: I started interacting and building relationships. After liking, commenting on, and sharing relevant posts from my target audience, I messaged them to talk about how I could help them with copywriting.

Whatever you do, don’t just add your target clients and immediately start spamming them with sales-y InMail messages.

You’ll be much better off if you focus on building relationships and establishing yourself as a niche expert first.

3. Creating a solid freelance writer website

When I first started out, I had a one-page Weebly site that I had thrown together to advertise my services. I didn’t have a custom domain or a strong brand – it was pretty basic.

I quickly realized that I needed a more professional-looking, branded site if I really wanted my freelance writing business to take off.

So, I started building a new site in WordPress right away.

Once I launched my new site, I started getting far more emails asking about my writing services.

Other than making the switch to WordPress, here are a few changes I made that improved my sales:

Bite-sized, relevant copy. I made sure all my copy was fluff-free and spoke directly to how I could help my target clients reach their business goals with my writing services.

Multiple call-to-actions. My first site only had one form clients could fill out to get in touch with me.

On my new site, I added multiple contact forms and buttons so they had more opportunities to contact me.

Better branding. Instead of simply using my name to market myself, I decided to use the name “Cutthroat Copy” to advertise my freelance writing services.

That name went a long way in helping me build a strong brand that showcased my personality and set me apart from other freelance writers in my niche.

And that’s all there is to it!

Seriously – if you use these 3 marketing tactics and hustle hard, there’s no reason you can’t grow your freelance writing business quickly like I did.

Do you have any questions about how to start and grow a successful freelance writing business?

Share in the comments section below, and let’s talk about it!

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Written by Jorden Roper

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Jorden Roper is the fuchsia-haired founder of Writing Revolt, where she shares no-BS advice for freelance writers and bloggers.

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  1. Lorena Grancelli says:

    Great tips Jorden!
    I am in the translation business and personalized emailing is one of my favorite marketing strategies.
    LinkedIn is a good option too, but I am still trying to figure it out.
    With regard to websites, the best tip would be to devote time and effort on SEO. Your website can be the best but it has to be seen!

  2. Hi, great tips. Do you have any other tips on how to get leads for emailing beside Limeleads? It’s pricey and lists only US based businesses. I’m looking to establish network in Europe as well.

  3. Luis Paredes says:

    Great post, useful and concise! I’ve already applied #3 -though mine is a “multimedia designer site” ;)- and I’m definitely applying the other two this very month.

    Thanks for the good advice 🙂

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Glad to hear that! Thanks for reading, Luis! 🙂

  4. Sebastien says:

    Hi Jorden,

    Great article thank you for the tips. Do you think that what you did would work for a design firm…

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Thanks Sebastien! And yep, I definitely think it’ll work!

  5. Great article Jorden,

    I always get stuck at what to include in my emails other than “hire me”! Any tips or suggestions?

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Thanks for the positive feedback! 🙂

      I have this blog post about exactly how I cold emailed clients my first month – it should help!

  6. Ora Monet says:

    I am floored! These are some seriously great tips, laid out nicely too. Thank you Millo & Jorden Roper! I previously thought about emailing but didn’t think it would be that beneficial to a freelance writer (no idea why I overlooked it lol). I have the website & LinkedIn account so I’m at least two thirds of the way there! Thanks again and good luck keeping up the momentum!

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Thanks so much, Ora! Sounds like you’re doing great – keep it up! 🙂

  7. lidia varesco design says:

    Great tips, thanks for sharing. I’m curious to hear more about your experience with LimeLeads as I see it’s quite pricey. I realize it would save time but are there benefits to using it as opposed to say, hiring a VA to research for a few hours a month? Thanks!

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Thanks so much, Lidia!

      I wrote this in-depth post about how I used LimeLeads, and it includes a link to get 25 free leads if you want to try it out:

      I can’t really say the difference in LimeLeads and hiring a VA because I’ve never hired a VA to do that kind of work for me. But I do know that LimeLeads (and cold emailing in general) was the #1 way I landed freelance writing clients as a newbie, so I always recommend it!

  8. Great tips Jorden, thanks for sharing. These tips directly apply to design too. You mentioned a solid freelance writer website. Can you share a link to it?

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Thanks Jack! Here’s a link to my site:

  9. Nicole Nagelgast says:

    Great article! How do you price your services? By the hour or do you have package deals of some sort?

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Thanks so much, Nicole! I typically charge a per-project fee for the client blog posts I write.

  10. love the tips jade, how many businesses were you emailing to get results?

    1. Jorden Roper says:

      Thanks Ricky! I don’t remember the exact number, but I know it was a LOT lol. I was a cold emailing machine!

      I definitely recommend sending 20+ personalized cold emails every day — more, if possible. Super tedious, but worth it!