How to Land More Freelance Writing Gigs From Agencies in 2024

I looked at my schedule and all I could feel was panic. I was fully booked last month. And this month WAS booked too — but one short email changed everything.

“Hey, Nicki. XYZ project is on hold. I’ll let you know if the client decides to relaunch.”

And just like that, 60% of my monthly income vanished.

Lesson one: Never let a single client book more than 30% of your time.

Lesson two: Always have an SOS plan.

The SOS plan that saved me was tied to agencies.

Agencies are amazing because they can send huge amounts of work your way on short notice. And in many cases, all you need to do is ask.

I sent a quick email to an agency contact, and the company threw some big projects my way — crisis averted.

But what if you have zero agency contacts? No worries! Landing agencies is easy when you know what to do and you do it consistently; consistency is often the hardest part of following a plan — at least for me.

Ready to find some agency gigs? Awesome! Here’s my four-step process.

1. Create a gold mine list

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If you want to land agency clients faster, it all starts with having a solid list. And the best person to build that list is you.

But don’t worry! I’m going to show you exactly how. Here are three places to “mine” for potential leads.

The Content Marketing Institute publishes an agency directory with 25 pages full of agencies’ contact information. Start there. It will keep you busy for a while.

And then, of course, you’ve got the “top” lists. Try searching “top content marketing agencies” or “top marketing agencies,” and you’ll have tons of potential leads. Here’s a link to one list to get you started.

Lastly, you can cruise on over to LinkedIn and search for marketing agencies, content marketing agencies and similar.

“Umm, how many agencies do I need on my list?” you might ask.

I recommend starting with at least 100.

I know it seems like a lot, but you’re not going to contact them all at once.

Instead, create your master list and reach out to 20 per week until you run out of prospects. By that time, I typically have at least one new gig.

And if you want more, rinse and repeat.

2. Make it easy for agencies to say yes

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When your email lands in an agency inbox, you want to make it easy for them to say yes. And the way to do that is to use research and positioning.

Make sure your niche and positioning align with the agencies you’re targeting.

With a solid foundation, you’re ready to research an agency before you add it to your list. And here’s why: Agencies are rarely looking for generalists. They’re looking for a technology writer, a health care writer, a writer with a background working with credit unions and so on.

Making it easy for an agency to say yes means checking out the agency’s client list before reaching out and ensuring your experience aligns with its clients. Does the company work with Microsoft, and you’re a technology writer? Awesome; highlight that in your letter of introduction — which leads us to our next point.

3. Create a slam-dunk marketing template

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You’ve made a big list of agencies and only selected agencies that align with your niche, right? OK, great! Now you need a slam-dunk marketing template. It’s what you’ll send to those agencies. Here’s what you need to include:

1. Something about the agency. “Hey, I noticed you do work with X, Y and Z companies. Do you do that all in-house or do you use freelancers?”

2. Something about you. “I’m a freelance writer specializing in {INSERT YOUR NICHE}. I’ve worked with A, B and C companies.” Pro tip: If you don’t have any big brands to mention, talk about your background, experience or what gives you credibility to write in the specific niche.

3. A call to action. Writing samples — always ask whether you can send writing samples. Why shouldn’t you ask to schedule a time to discuss potential projects? The answer is simple: It’s too big for a first ask. The letter of introduction is about starting a conversation, so resist the urge to try for a hard close.

And if you need help writing the letter of introduction, feel free to steal mine. Here’s the free template I used to generate $24,500 in new work. Give it a quick customization for your agency targets.

4. Create a foolproof outreach plan

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With a list of 100+ agency prospects, it’s good to have a marketing outreach system. Otherwise, it’s way too easy to start strong and then peter out. I love this advice from James Clear:

“With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.”

Set a weekly goal. I recommend 20 reach outs per week. In five short weeks, you’ll complete 100.

But here’s the thing: Life will do its best to get you off track.

The dog will get sick and need an unplanned trip to the vet. Your kid will be sick and stay home from school, cutting into your marketing time. Or you will get sick and need to take a break. That’s why I like Laura Vanderkam’s strategy in her book Tranquility by Tuesday. She says to give yourself a backup slot.

For example, let’s say you plan to market two days per week (sending 10 reach outs per day). In your planner, give yourself a third day — or a backup slot. Use it when the unexpected stuff threatens to throw you off track.

Remember that asking is not begging

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When I asked my agency contact for work, I was nervous. I worried I might look desperate, and they’d judge me for it.

Why isn’t she booked? She must not be that good.

But that wasn’t true. It was just fear (aka imposter syndrome) speaking up.

Here’s what was true: The agency had work to assign. And if I didn’t ask, they would have assigned it to someone else.

So don’t let fear talk you out of your plan.

Create a strategy to land agency clients and then work it consistently. And if fear tries to chime in, remember: Most of what fear says isn’t true.

Do you need help creating an ongoing marketing strategy?

Download the free template that I used to generate $24,500 in new work.

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