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More freelance writing gigs = more money in the bank.
Sounds great, right?
Only getting them can be the hard part, especially as a new freelance writer.
And you’re probably doing all the right things to find freelance writing work:
- Applying to freelance writing jobs online.
- Sending out well-crafted pitches that are designed to grab a client’s attention.
- Building your freelance writing network and making connections.
That should be enough to send a flood of freelance work your way, shouldn’t it?
I know. I’ve totally been there.
And what I’ve learned is that if you want to make more money freelance writing, there’s one really important thing you have to do:
How Following Up Can Get You More Freelance Writing Gigs
Here’s the thing about applying for freelance writing jobs and cold pitching. It’s totally a numbers game.
The more pitches you send out or the more jobs you apply for, the better your odds of landing a paying gig.
But all of that effort is wasted if you’re not following up.
Because the truth is, editors and brands and content managers and all those other people who could hire you to write for them? They’re busy.
Some of them are great about staying on top of their email but others, not so much.
So when you don’t follow up on a freelance writing opportunity, it’s a lot easier for them to forget you even exist.
But when you’re putting yourself at the top of that person’s inbox with a follow-up email, then it’s a little harder for them to overlook you.
I’m a huge fan of the follow-up. It’s definitely helped me get more freelance writing gigs over the years.
And it can do the same thing for you. When done the right way, following up means better jobs and better money.
Case Study: How a Follow Up Led to Two High-Paying Freelance Writing Jobs
So, this post is about helping you get more freelance writing gigs. But I thought I’d share some of my own experience with following up to show you that it really works.
Follow Up Example #1
In September 2015, I found a job posting for one of the biggest sites in my niche (personal finance). So I wasted no time applying.
Within a couple of days, I’d lined up an interview with the editor and I was super pumped. The interview went off without a hitch and I was confident I was going to hear back about becoming a regular contributor pretty quickly.
A few days went by, then a few weeks.
A month or so later, I sent the editor a polite email asking if he was still interested in working with me. He quickly let me know that he was staggering the onboarding process to bring on multiple new writers, but he’d be ready for me to jump in towards the end of the year.
Okay, no problem. More time went by so I followed up again in December and was told it would be another couple of weeks but I still had a spot on the team.
At this point, I decided to stop bugging him. I figured he would get back in touch when he was ready for me to start writing.
Only he didn’t.
I could have just written it off but I didn’t. Cause here’s the thing: I really wanted this gig.
I knew it was a job I could excel at. And okay, I’ll admit it, I wanted the clout (and the money) that I knew would go along with writing for such a highly visible site.
So in July 2016, almost a year after first making contact, I decided to email him one last time.
And seven minutes later, he wrote back praising me for having great timing. I was exactly what he needed at that moment and if I was still interested, he’d send me the onboarding paperwork so I could get going.
And just like that, I landed a dream client that I’m still writing for now.
Follow Up Example #2
Around the same time I was trying to land this gig, I was also emailing back and forth with an editor at another major financial website.
She asked me to do a writing test; I did. She asked for some sample pitches; I sent them.
She seemed enthusiastic and then…you guessed it. Crickets again.
And once again, this was a job I really wanted and I knew I was a great fit for. So I let some time pass. Two months later, I sent a follow-up email to gauge her interest.
Still nothing. Then about a month after that, she wrote me a very nice email telling me how swamped they’d been with reviewing applications but I was a perfect fit for the job and was I ready to get started?
Duh, of course I was. And just like the other site, I’m still writing for them today.
So what’s the point of these case studies?
Just to show you that if you want to grow your business you can’t sit around and wait for freelance writing jobs to fall in your lap.
You have to go and get them yourself, at least in the beginning.
Once you’ve established your reputation as a kickass writer, then clients start looking for you. But if you want to get to that point, you have to first become a master at following up.
So here are my best tips on how to do it.
How to Follow Up With Freelance Writing Clients (and Get Results)
1. Decide Which Gigs to Follow Up On
Not every freelance writing job is going to be the best fit. You might be applying for things that are outside your niche just because you need to have money coming in.
So how do you decide which pitches or job applications to follow up on?
In my case, I followed up when two things were clear: that the company was one I truly wanted to work with and that the job was one I could really be great at if given the chance.
Your criteria might be different. For instance, you might only be comfortable following up when you feel 100% qualified for the job.
That’s fine and you can totally do that. But you could be missing out on some great opportunities to stretch yourself as a writer and build your business.
Going back to my two follow up stories from earlier, both were for financial sites and both involved writing about investing.
Was I an investing expert? If I’m being honest, no.
And I’m still learning new things even though I’ve been writing in this niche for several years now.
But I didn’t let that stop me from going after either gig. And if you want to work with those dream clients, you shouldn’t let it stop you from following up either.
2. Get the Timing Right
Timing matters when you’re following up with an editor or a brand.
Do it too soon and you look desperate. Wait too long and you might fall off their radar completely.
A good rule of thumb is to wait 10 to 14 days after sending a pitch or applying for a gig before following up. But sometimes you might wait longer or follow up sooner.
In my first case study, there was a one-month gap between the interview and my first follow-up. I waited another two months before following up again.
I knew, based on what the editor had told me, that he was busy. And I didn’t want to bug the crap out of him and make him hate me before he’d gotten a chance to work with me.
The almost-a-year-later follow-up wasn’t really planned. One day I literally said Screw it, I’m going to email this guy again. The worst he can do is not answer or tell me to leave him the hell alone.
In the second example, I waited a month to follow-up after my initial contact. I would have probably followed up again in the second month, had the editor not gotten back in touch.
Both of these are large sites with a huge stable of writers and I knew the editors had a lot on their plate. So I waited a little longer before landing in their inbox again.
With smaller sites, on the other hand, I’ve followed up in a couple of weeks, sometimes less.
If you’re pitching multiple freelance writing gigs daily or weekly, using a pitch tracker can help you keep tabs on when to time your follow-ups.
If you don’t have a system for tracking pitches, you can download my free pitch tracker spreadsheet in the Freelance Writer’s Toolkit!
3. Keep Your Follow Up Simple
A follow-up email isn’t the time to give the editor a laundry list of reasons why they should work with you.
The ideal follow up is short and simple.
- Reintroduce yourself, mentioning the initial date you pitched or applied for a job.
- Include a brief line or two describing the kind of work you’re doing now.
- Ask them to keep you in mind for any other projects that might come up if the one you’re following up on is no longer available.
- Thank them for their time and consideration.
A few lines work fine for a follow-up email. It’s just enough to refresh their memory and not so much that they’ll feel overwhelmed with information.
Going back to that first case study, I emailed the editor with a subject line that said “Reconnecting”. Here’s what I wrote:
Hi [Editor who I would love to work with],
I hope you’re doing well. I’m not sure if you’ll remember or not but I spoke with you last fall about possibly contributing some articles to the Investing section. I didn’t hear anything for a while and got busy with other projects but I just wanted to check back with you and see if you still had a need for writers. I’ve included a few links below so you can see the kinds of stories I’ve been working on lately. Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.
At the bottom of the email, I included links to three stories I’d written recently that covered topics similar to what this site was covering.
And you know what? It worked like a charm.
Inside the Freelance Writer’s Toolkit, I’ve included a follow-up email template. So be sure to grab that if you need a little help writing your email.
4. Be Persistent–But Not a Pest
It’s tempting to send email after email when you’re trying to land freelance writing gigs.
But clogging up an editor’s inbox is a quick way to get on their bad side. Editors talk and you don’t want to get a reputation for being a nuisance.
When you’re following up, draw a line on how many emails you’re going to send.
I usually stick to two. if I don’t hear anything after that then I assume they’re not interested.
And if they become interested at some point, they know how to get in touch with me.
If you’re not sure how many follow-ups to send, try putting yourself in the editor’s shoes.
Ask yourself how many emails you’d want to get from the same person before you’d be ready to ship them straight to your spam folder. That can give you an idea of how many follow-ups you should be sending.
Are You Following Up as a Freelance Writer?
I hope so because it can definitely pave the way to more freelance writing gigs.
And if you’re not, ask yourself what’s holding you back?
Do you have a great follow-up success story to share? Or a mistake you want to warn other freelancers about?
If so, head to the comments and tell me all about it.
And please pin and share this post if it helped you!