Being a proofreader is more than just working with content. If you want to start freelance proofreading you’ll have to dedicate a big portion of your time to finding work and connecting with potential clients. There’s a lot of hustle going on in the background!
I always tell students in my free masterclass that it takes time and lots of effort to find work, but once you start, you’ve got the ball rolling. Freelance social media and content manager Thalassa van Beek is an expert at client acquisition. Not only is she a successful freelancer, but she also teaches people how to attract freelance clients. Read on for her pro tips!
If you’re a freelancer, you know exactly what it’s like: You have to put a considerate amount of time into client acquisition or else you will run out of money. Browsing job boards, applying for projects . . . the chase can be exhausting. Especially in your early days, you will have to do it every single day. Heck, when I started, I spent 30 hours per week finding my first few clients — and that was in addition to my full-time job!
It is definitely the way to get started, but it’s not how it has to be throughout your entire career. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if potential clients would reach out to you, instead of you having to reach out to them? Well, that’s possible! And the way to do that is by becoming known as an expert.
Now there are a couple of reactions that you could have to that statement. Either you’re thinking “But I’m not an expert yet!” Or you’re thinking “Everyone is claiming to be a guru today, I don’t want to be like that.”
Those were basically my own two thoughts. Or, maybe you’re simply thinking “Yes, that sounds reasonable,” in which case you’re good to go.
If you have any of those limiting thoughts, there are a few things you should consider. First of all, it’s not about what you claim to be. The truth lies in what your audience believes you are.
In other words: It depends on who you choose as your target audience. If you know only a bit more than the people in front of you, you actually are an expert to them. You can help them with whatever it is they’re stuck with. You can share your knowledge and lessons learned from your experience, you can offer your services. You can provide value.
I work in social media and content marketing. I’m not the most successful freelancer the world has ever seen, but I make a decent living out of it (currently over €6000 per month) and I got there rather quickly. In addition, I made sure all my work is location independent, so I can (and do!) travel a lot.
This puts me in the position where I can help people who are struggling to get started as a freelancer and particularly the ones who want to do so while travelling.
Ask a 6-figure-making freelancer whether or not I’m an expert and he would laugh in your face, but ask an aspiring digital nomad, and there’s a pretty good chance he’ll say I may be. So that’s my audience, that’s the people I can provide value to.
Understand who your target audience is, because to them, you actually are an expert.
For the next limiting belief — your refusal to call yourself an “expert” because it reminds you of all the “gurus” out there who apparently all went from pizza boy to multimillionaire in 2 months. Well, like I said before: It’s not about what you claim to be, it’s about how others see you.
I have never called myself an expert, I just share my story and experience, help people where I can, and people pick up from that that I actually know what I’m talking about. They see me as an expert, and based on that, they decide to work with me. That goes both for my marketing services, as well as my help to aspiring freelancers.
You have to get out there in order for other people to discover your expertise.
So how do you do that, “getting out there”? Let’s get into that.
First of all, we go back to lesson #1: Know who your audience is. Better yet, decide on which specialty you’d like to focus. Do you want to proofread novels? Academic theses? Technical website content?
Based on that, you can now more clearly identify your exact audience. And once you know your audience, you can understand where to find those people and what type of content to serve them.
Before going into your audience pools, there is a 3rd lesson though.
Phon’s Note: If you want to learn how YOU can start working from home, I have a FREE masterclass on proofreading, copyediting, and marketing.
Have a clear online presence
You need to make absolutely sure that all your online presences clearly show what it is that you’re doing, and even better when they all point in the same direction, whether that’s your website, your own Facebook group, or somewhere else. Have a very clear LinkedIn title and up-to-date profile that shows results.
Have a cover photo on your personal Facebook page with a link to your website, group, or lead magnet. Have an email signature that includes a link to the same point. In other words, whenever or wherever people try to find you online, make sure they find your information easily and that it’s consistent.
Got that sorted? Good! Now it’s time to dive into your audience pools. These are my personal favourites.
Facebook groups — and in some cases LinkedIn — are great places to show your expertise in a gentle, non-threatening way. Find groups for authors, masters and PhD students, tech startups, or whatever else your audience is.
Whenever they have questions that you can help with, even when it’s not directly related to proofreading, answer them. Help out wherever you can. And every now and then, start a discussion with a question or statement that relates to your expertise.
Make sure that you don’t hard-sell your services. Instead, you could comment with things like “I work as a proofreader, and what I often see in my work is that . . .” If you provide value often enough, people will start to notice you, get curious, click through to your profile and find your website, lead page, or whatever you have everything pointed to.
Can’t find any good groups? Search again, because there are groups for everything. Still nothing? How about starting your own group such as “Writing tips for PhD students” or “Content writing for tech startups”. Give tips on writing, and offer your services as a proofreader. The good thing about having your own group compared to being in someone else’s group, is that you’re free to promote your services and you’ll be seen as an expert from the start.
Another way to get your name out there is to write guest articles for blogs and magazines. Where is your audience getting its information from? Which blogs are they following? Are there industry-specific magazines? Perhaps university newspapers?
Knowing your audience, you also know some hot topics and challenges they often face, so make sure you can always write about that. For example, I can talk for hours about client acquisition and pricing strategies for freelancers, and about Facebook advertising when it comes to my social media services.
That’s great, because for both audiences, these are the topics most people have questions about. It could also be something as simple as “Why it’s worth investing in a proofreader.” You can take the same topic, and rewrite it every single time, adjusted for each publication. And once you have a topic you can confidently write about, and you know that the topic speaks to the audience, it’s easy to pitch it.
Interviews and Q&A Sessions
Having your favourite topics to talk about isn’t only good for writing guest articles, it’s also your “in” into interviews and Q&A sessions. Find the relevant podcast shows and YouTube channels and pitch a Q&A session.
Did you know that many Facebook groups do live Q&A sessions with experts? A few weeks ago I was invited to one in a very engaged, 16K group full of my target audience, and because of it, my own group got a huge boost.
Workshops & Presentations
Don’t forget about offline opportunities like giving workshops and presentations. Find Meetups, conferences, chamber of commerce events, coworking spaces, and universities where you can find your audience, and offer them a presentation or workshop for their members. It’s probably the best way to get immediate connections and to be seen as a real expert. If people like what they see in the workshop or presentation, they will definitely come up to you afterwards to learn more about your services.
Of course, doing this isn’t gonna work for you overnight. If you want clients now, you will have to do the chase. But the above is a long-term strategy. Start early with some PR opportunities, so that in 6 months from now, if people try to find you online, you will be everywhere, including Google. If people type in your name and find all these different publications and appearances, they will definitely see you as an expert, they will want to work with you, and they will get in touch. No more chasing for you.
About The Author
After leaving a 9-5 job that wasn’t making her happy, Thalassa started working about two years ago as a freelance social media & content manager. After travelling and working remotely for some time, she recently made her 5-year long dream come true: officially moving to her beloved city, Barcelona, Spain. When she is not busy working on her clients’ or her own projects, she’s either enjoying everything the city has to offer, or going out of town on trips. After all, wanderlust never fades.