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    Getting a Freelancing Gig Checklist

    getting a gig checklist

    Breaking into freelancing and landing your first few gigs can be tough.

    There are tons of client-getting strategies out there. But sometimes having TOO many options can be overwhelming.

    This checklist will show you FIVE of the top strategies for landing your first clients.

    If you spend time on these five things, you should start to see opportunities popping up.



    Step 1.) Post on Facebook

    The goal here is to see if we can get a quick win.

    Fill in this template and post it on your personal profile:

    Make tweaks as necessary, but try to follow the general structure of the template. Don’t overthink this!

    Here’s an example of what your finished post might look like:

    This is the quickest, lowest-risk way to drum up work. You have nothing to lose, and you’d be surprised how often it works!

    If you don’t get any bites, don’t get discouraged. Just keep moving down this checklist.



    Step 2.) Reach out to your “short list”

    Now we’re gonna take a more personal approach that’ll be hard for people to ignore.

    Make a list of 30 of the most “connected” people you know, and add them into your Copywriting Command Center spreadsheet (click image to open).

    copy command center spreadsheet downloadCommand Center: File > Make a Copy

    Depending on the type of freelancing you want to get into, this could be:

    • Business owners
    • Other freelancers
    • People who work in marketing
    • People who you know have a lot of friends
    • People who work in the industry you’re interested in

    If you’ve lived on this earth for at least a couple decades, I guarantee you know someone with useful connections.

    The closer you are to the person, the better.

    If you’re blanking on ideas, try this:

    • Open up your phone contacts and Facebook friends list
    • Take each name you find and plug it into a LinkedIn search
    • Look for people with jobs that may have useful contacts
    • Send a connection request and add them to your Command Center

    Here are a few I found in my contacts after searching for 5 minutes.

    linkedin contactsI had no idea these people had these jobs.

    Once you have a list of 30, start reaching out.



    Phone calls are the most effort, but they’re also the hardest to ignore.

    difficult to ignore to effort graph

    Make your calls with a genuine interest in catching up with your contact (i.e. don’t just call to exploit their position). Then after some chit-chat, naturally bring up work.

    Ask them what they’ve been working on, and they’ll likely do the same.

    Here’s how that conversation might go:

    This would obviously be the best-case scenario. But even if they don’t know anyone right at that second, the important thing is you’re getting your name out there.

    Depending on who you’re reaching out to, a random phone call might be weird.

    In that case, a personalized email is the next best option.

    Here’s an example of what to write:

    If you don’t hear back from them after a week, follow up with this:

    Step 1 and 2 are THE easiest way to get gigs with no experience. Since your network already trusts you, they won’t ask to see your thin (or non-existent) portfolio.



    Step 3.) Apply on Upwork

    Upwork tends to get a bad rap, but there’s no denying it is full of opportunity.

    We actually just had a Copywriting Course member land a big ongoing client using Upwork.

    adam getting gig post

    Adam’s experience isn’t unique. When just starting on Upwork, you’ll have to send out a LOT of proposals. If you can’t compete with other applicants based on reviews and experience, your best odds are to look for jobs you’re specially qualified for.

    If you have experience with construction, this job would be pretty easy to nab:

    gig post upworkThere are some gems on Upwork if you’re willing to search.

    You’ll quickly realize there are also a bunch of crappy gigs on Upwork:

    upwork crappy gig

    That said, if your brand spanking new with zero reviews, these types of gigs could be an easy opportunity to TEMPORARILY boost your reviews and beef up your portfolio.

    Your goal for Step 3 is to send out 50 quality proposals.

    Here’s what a quality proposal looks like for the construction job listing above:

    cover letterNo need to overcomplicate things. Just show them why working with you is the right choice (and follow any specific instructions).

    Whatever you do, don’t just blast out the same template to 50 different people. By personalizing each one, you’ll put yourself ahead of half the other applicants.



    Step 4.) Cold email (local) agencies

    Unlike Upwork, this is a way to find gigs with almost zero competition.

    Start by making a list of 50 digital marketing agencies in your city and surrounding area (add these to your Command Center as well).

    Just do a Google search for “Digital marketing agency [CITY]”. You’ll get something like this:

    google search agency

    If you’re from a small town, it’s ok to branch out to other areas.

    Make sure to click through to each website and write down some notes.

    Check their About page to find any “personalization nuggets” you can sprinkle in your cold email. These could be things like:

    • Anything you have in common (e.g. university, town, favorite ice cream, etc.)
    • Anything quirky or interesting about the agency
    • Any values or mission statements
    • Anything else you can mention that shows you’ve done your homework

    You want to make it SUPER obvious that this isn’t a spam email you blasted out to 1000 other agencies.

    Once you’ve compiled your list and research, it’s time to reach out.

    Create a template in Gmail for your base message, then add in personalization.

    email template


    Here’s what your cold email might look like:

    Follow up three times (at least) if you don’t hear back

    Try to keep your cold emails short, sweet, and to the point. If they’re interested, you can go over the rest of the details later.

    Once you get some clients under your belt, you can add those into your cold emails as a form of social proof.

    Here are loads of other cold email templates you can use for inspiration.



    Step 5.) Go the extra mile to impress dream clients

    Most people think you need to “work your way up the ladder” to work with your dream clients.

    And while experience helps, it’s not always necessary. By going the extra mile and wow-ing them with your effort, you might be able to skip the grunt work and jump straight into your dream job.

    job applicants

    Start by making a list of 30 dream clients you’d love to work with.

    These can be:

    • Celebrities
    • Influencers
    • Companies you follow
    • Fortune 500 companies
    • Big companies in an industry you’re interested in

    Next, find the owner or hiring manager’s contact information by poking around LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, the company’s website, Hunter, and TruePeopleSearch.

    For example, a 2-second Google search helped me find the hiring manager for Google.

    hiring manager at googleIt’s not always this easy, but if you’re determined, you can find anyone.

    Finally, do whatever necessary to make it IMPOSSIBLE for them to ignore you.

    This will vary depending on the situation, but here are some ideas:

    • Send a piece of snail mail to their house/company
    • Periodically email them helpful stuff to get on their radar
    • Make friends with their friends, then ask to be connected
    • Write out a complete sample (email, article, etc.) matching their style
    • Figure out where they’re going to be (e.g. conferences) and visit in person
    • Build a relationship with them naturally on Twitter before asking any favors

    By putting in extra effort, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.

    One of our Copywriting Course members, Shaggy Eells, used this technique to advance deep into the application process to write for The Hustle. He’s new to freelance writing and is now competing with big-name editors of well-established companies.

    the hustle email

    If you’re willing to make the extra effort (and have the skills to back it up), your first client could be a BIG client.

    Since this step is much more time-consuming, start with your top five dream clients, and focus on them.

    Creating a plan of attack

    Remember, this is a process. You’re not going to blast through all this in one day.

    Here’s an example of how you could approach it:

    Day 1: Public Facebook post

    Week 1: Outreach to “short list” (5 per day)

    Week 2: Upwork proposals (7 per day)

    Week 3: Cold email agencies (7 per day)

    Week 4: Impress dream clients with extra effort (1 per day)

    We’re talking one hour per day tops. Following this plan, it’d be hard not to drum up some interest within one month.

    If you notice you’re getting more nibbles with one strategy, double down on it.

    Once you land your first few clients, finding work gets easier because you can leverage those projects into more work.

    Until then, it’s a numbers game.

    getting gigs triangle


    It’s easy to get discouraged and give up if you don’t see results right away, but keep on truckin’!

    There ARE clients out there who would be happy to have you solve their problems…

    All you need to do is find them.



    How to find opportunities everywhere you go

    If you have decent skills and continue working through these five steps regularly, you will find work.

    That said, building a freelance business is more than just cold emails and job boards. This can’t be a secret side hobby you keep to yourself...you need to tell the world!



    Share it with EVERYONE you chat with in everyday life.

    Practice ways to casually slip it into every conversation you have.

    Like this:

    • “How are you? … I’m good too. Just had a cool meeting with one of my writing clients…”
    • “What’d you do this weekend? … Me? I had a quiet weekend catching up on client work…”
    • “No way! That reminds me of a client I had…”
    • “Your back hurts? I did a ton of research for one of my chiropractor clients and learned that…”
    • “This taco is so freaking good! It reminds me of my food truck client who…”

    With practice, you can steer almost any conversation towards your freelance work.

    Better yet, steal a page from Gerard’s playbook (another one of our students) and give t-shirt marketing a try.

    copywrting clients tshirt gerard

    That $22 t-shirt landed him $5,000 in copywriting clients!


    Freelancing is like fishing. The more lines you have in the water, the more likely you are to get a bite.

    Grab those fishing poles and start casting!

    fishing stickman



    Getting a Gig Checklist


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