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Clients have a number of ways to view the Writer Directory, including by rating, location, Twitter follower count, and most recently logged in. After a client reads your profile, he or she has the option to contact you by clicking on the Send Message tab. As someone who has been with Content Runner for two years and has landed excellent gigs that started with a single email inquiry, I encourage you to respond promptly and thoughtfully to each one.

The Year-Long Project I Almost Ignored

About 15 months ago, I received an email inquiry from a client who was looking for a writer to produce content about a specific type of diet plan. Although I had written some short articles on the topic a few years earlier, I didn’t feel especially qualified for his project. I almost deleted his email without responding to it, but something told me to give it a fair chance. I replied about my past experience and offered to produce a short writing sample for the company. It turns out this client was testing several writers and already had a writing prompt for each of them.

He liked what I submitted and I became this client’s go-to writer for the next year. If I had gone with my initial instinct to not answer the email, I would be out close to $20,000. However, I gained more than money working with this company. I am first on the list if they decide to undertake a similar project in the future and I got to know some great people in another time zone. Thanks to Content Runner’s transparency policy, this client agreed to be a reference for me when I applied for and was offered a part-time content marketing position with a local agency. I now divide my time between freelancing and my permanent position and I couldn’t be happier.

How You Respond Matters

I receive at least a couple of inquiries from new Content Runner clients every week. I always try to respond within 24 hours and to be as professional as possible. I thank them for reaching out to me and let them know whether I have experience with their particular niche. When I’m not the best fit for their needs, I let them know that right away so they can contact other writers. Some clients also contact several writers from various platforms for comparison purposes.

Just like at a traditional job interview, I avoid discussing rates in the first few exchanges unless the person specifically asks. I focus on what I can do for the client instead, typically by offering a writing sample or two. Since I save all of my written work, I have a large amount of previous work to choose from for this purpose. I make sure that it matches their requirements as closely as possible. If the person emailing me is vague in what they need, I will ask some clarifying questions to ensure that I give the best answers. I also encourage them to check my LinkedIn page and other profiles to get a better understanding of my work experience.

When it does get around to how much I charge for my work, I state the suggested rate from my profile but always stress that it is negotiable. A per word rate doesn’t mean much to me because the same number of words could take half an hour or two hours to write depending on the complexity of the topic. I come up with a figure based on the amount I would like to make per hour and quote that instead. If the client seems hesitant, I may offer to write the first article for a lower amount and calculate how long it takes me to complete. This enables me to either accept or reject the same rate in the future.

For clients that expect to have a significant amount of work, I find that offering to complete one article to see if it meets their needs works well.  Most of the time it does, but if not, they are professional enough to accept the work and find a writer whose background is a better match. No matter what transpires, respond in a professional manner at all times. Nothing about this is personal.

You Just Never Know

While most clients aren’t looking for someone for a year-long project, you never who could turn into a long-term client. I recommend treating every inquiry like a potential ongoing gig by responding in a timely, friendly, and professional manner. Don’t forget to show them your best work, whether they asked for it or not. Your response might answer some questions, but your past writing assignments show them what you can really do. Just make sure to seek permission from previous clients and to redact their name for privacy purposes.