How to Still Close Freelance Clients During a Recession

Every freelance writer knows the struggle of finding clients that offer regular work and pay well.

It seems almost impossible, at times.

And when there’s a recession going on, it feels like the entire freelance ecosystem has just dried up.

Everyone’s getting laid off, you think. Who’d want to hire a writer now?

But here’s the deal.

No matter what the state of the economy is, there are always clients out there looking for freelance writers.

And we don’t mean content mills that pay you $5 for 1000 words. We mean professional clients who value the end results that good writing brings in.

And yes, you can absolutely close deals with them – as long as you take the right approach.

Here’s how you can still sign on clients who pay well and have a solid pipeline of work.

1. Target the right people at the right time

Most freelance writers target online job boards for new writing projects.

Which is okay when you’re just starting out. Job boards almost always have a variety of writing jobs on offer, and they certainly pay better than most content mills.

But here’s why you shouldn’t rely solely on job boards for new clients.

Clients on job boards are usually looking to save money rather than invest in quality writing. The projects you get will typically pay much lower than the market rate and involve super-tight deadlines.

Plus, you’ll be competing against tens of other writers – maybe even hundreds – which means your chances of landing any one job are pretty low.

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Another type of writing to avoid is the big projects. The ones where you have to submit a ton of work (say, 100 blog posts), within a tight deadline.

Projects like that just drain you out. You’re working day and night, struggling to finish a crazy amount of work within a matter of weeks. And then there’s the business of waiting for your payment (because it’s almost always late).

So what should you target instead?

Look for retainer clients who offer a regular volume of work every month.

As a freelance writer, you should aim to have at least one retainer client at any point in time.

That way, you don’t have to struggle to pay your bills – you know you have a certain amount of money coming in at the end of the month.

2. Specialize everything from your niche to your type of writing

The best way to get high-paying clients is by giving them the value they’re looking for.

So instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, pick a writing niche of your choice and only pitch clients looking for writers in that niche.

Do whatever it takes to build up your writing prowess. Write guest posts for online publications, take up online writing courses to boost your skills, deliver all your projects on time.

What you want to be known as is a professional writer in something very specific, like a “B2B” + “content marketer”:

You don’t want to be a generalist writer who sometimes writes for fiction and non-fiction and business and insurance and romance and more. Because that tag line will scare off high-paying clients.

3. Always try to charge higher rates

There are basically two ways to earn more money as a writer – write more, or bump up your rates.

You can definitely write more, but there’s only so much extra work you can take on before you burn out.

Which is why you should consider increasing your rates.

Now here’s what you might be thinking: “But I might lose out on a lot of clients if I charge higher rates.”

Which, to a certain extent, is true.

But here’s what you should be thinking about instead.

You know what you’re writing about.

You have proven experience in the field you’re writing about.

And you deserve to be paid top dollar for it.

And the best clients – the ones who want to build relationships with top writers rather than hire people off job boards or content mills – are ready to pay you top dollar for what you know.

According to ClearVoice’s study, there is a strong correlation between rate and quality (or lack thereof).

Image source

So sure, you might lose a few clients in the short-term. But those clients wouldn’t have recognized your worth anyway.

Instead, focus on delivering high-quality work that’s worth the amount you charge. And watch the money flow in every month.


Getting new clients that pay you well can be a challenge at any time, especially during a recession. But it’s important to keep in mind that good content always has a high value in the market.

And remember – the best clients are willing to pay you what you deserve for writing that delivers results.

So don’t waste (all) your time chasing after job boards. Define your niche, target the right clients and charge the rates you deserve. You’ll find the right kind of work soon enough.

Good luck!

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