2 Keys to Unlocking the Door to Your Perfect Client

This is a guest post by William Ballard 

In sports circles it has been said that the best defense is always the best offense. In other words, having the most points on the board is your defense, and the only way to have the most points on the board is to have an aggressive offense.

It’s the ones that are aggressive that dominate the field (or court). So, how do you become aggressive in your freelance writing business?

Well…the answer is twofold, 1) you must know your client better than they know themselves, and 2) you must know yourself better than anyone else.

You should have the second down pat, but we will get to that one last.

Know Your Client (and Their Readers) Better Than They Know Themselves

Before you ever pitch an article idea to a client (publication), you must know that client inside and out. In other words, thoroughly research that client’s vision and mission statement and adopt it, personalize it, and make it your own.

Know their audience. Know their demographics; know what age groups, gender, or perhaps even their religious preferences. Know there likes and dislikes. Know the voice and writing style of the publication.

When you do this, what you are doing is searching for the gaps of that publication that only you can fill. That takes us to the next point.

Know Yourself Better Than Anyone Else

Now, this point requires a bit of confidence on your part as the freelance writer. You need to be self-aware of what you bring to the table or to the market place. There are things that only you can contribute and no one else. You have a background and you have experiences in something. What you need to do is know those “somethings” like that back of your hand.

Of course, you should get the self-awareness part down first before you go looking and researching possible clients. Because without that knowledge of yourself you will not be able to find those gaps in the publication that only you can fill.

Example: True Story

I wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com where I took four concepts or principles that I learned in the Marine Corps and related them to business.

It wasn’t more than a day when that article had been published that a reader clicked on the links from my bio (in that article), came to my freelance writer and author website, and filled out my contact form requesting my writing services for a project that he was thinking about doing.

Now, this client is in the business of speaking, coaching, and training, but also has a unique angle to his niche. Because he is a former Marine, he likes to take Marine Corps principles, relate them to business, and then teach them to his clients in his seminars, etc.  He wanted to do a series of blog post that was or is similar to what I did in the article for Entrepreneur.com. This client wanted me to take the 11 leadership principles of the Marine Corps and do an 11 article series where I take each principle and relate it to business (filling the gap).

Here are the connecting links that make me the best writer for this type of job:

1)    This client is a former Marine, as am I.

2)    This client loves leadership development and business development, as do I.

When this client and I were talking and trying to negotiate price, I told him that the minimum I charge for blog post are $100.00. He then responded by saying that he knew that he could go to sites like oDesk, Elance, or Fiverr and get writers to write him content for much less. However, he also understood about the value I possessed from my background and experience in the Marine Corps.

In other words, the chances of him getting a writer from one of those sites mentioned who are a former Marine (or at least knowledgeable of the Marine mindset) are 1 and a million. He wanted someone with firsthand knowledge of what it means to be a Marine, as well as someone who is passionate about leadership and business. This is where I fill the gap for what he is trying to do with this project.

Not only does he want to do this blog/article series, but he also has a book that he wants me to help him write that is similar to the blog series in the sense that the book has to do with Marine Corps principles, but difference in the sense of what those principles are. In other words, the article series is about the 11 leadership principles, and the book project is about the 14 leadership traits of the Marine Corps as they relate to leadership and business.

Developing Your Aggressive System to Landing Freelance Writing Clients

When you get these two things down, what you are doing is learning to be aggressive in your freelance writing business. Overtime, being able to find those gaps that only you can fill will become your habitual system that you develop that brings in the clients, and allows you to be aggressive in your price negotiations.

Action Steps to Take With You:

1)    Self-Awareness and Self-Inventory – Make a list of things that you know from experience that no one else has. Believe me, there are some things that you have that no one else does. No one has your same background. It is important that you know and believe that. When you know your value and what you bring to the market place (or what you bring to the table) it becomes much easier to have aggressive confidence.

2)    Thoroughly Research a Client (Publication) Before Pitching an Article Idea – Know that client inside and out. Find the gaps that only you can fill. Then, and only then, do you pitch them with aggressive confidence. Notice I said, “aggressive confidence” and not pride or arrogance. You are not trying to destroy the client and make him or her feel that without you their publication is weak. What you are trying to do is add value to them and to make their publication better. Notice I said, “…make their publication better”. That implies that it is already better (or good), but that what you have to bring to the table is of value and will take their publication to the next level.


Author Bio
William Ballard is a Canadian-based freelance writer and blogger who offers both writing and designing services. He blogs on various websites and, if yousubscribe to his newsletter, he will send you a copy of the first few chapters of his ebook, The 21 Qualities of a Successful Writer: Develop Them and Become the Writer Everyone Wants to ReadJust let him know that you signed up through this article on Be a Freelance Writer.

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Francesca Nicasio

I'm a freelance writer specializing in blog posts, web content, and press releases for Internet companies. I also love helping aspiring freelance writers build their portfolio and find clients. Download my free ebook 25 Types of Writing Gigs that Pay Well (and How to Find Them) here to get started.

  • William Ballard

    Thank you Francesca for this amazing opportunity!

    I look forward to reading and hearing how this article has added value to your readers and audience.

  • William, you make some excellent points. It’s great when you can have a personal connection to your clients, too!

    • William Ballard

      Your absolutely right Lorraine! Connecting backgrounds is a very strong link in maintaining top quality clients.

      In fact, that sounds like an excellent idea for another article. We talk a lot about the writer being of outstanding quality, but what about the client? 😉

  • Hi William! Below is a comment from LindaJay, an active member of the Be a Freelance Writer community. (For some reason, DISQUS wasn’t letting her post a comment, so she emailed me instead.)

    Thanks for writing this informative post, William. I recently was referred to a new client by a friend. Asked an outrageous price for writing a white paper, and the client agreed! I wanted to point out a typo in the last paragraph — “make him or her fill [should be “feel”] , and also I have a question: Why use the word “aggressive” instead of “assertive”?


    • William Ballard

      Hi Linda Jay!

      Thanks for the correction, I see Francesca has taken care of it.

      And to answer your question about using the term aggressive instead of the term assertive is simply this: I opened the article with a sports analogy, using terms such as aggressive and strong offense and defense, so I wanted to close the article or wrap up the article bringing back my original thought of the sports analogy.