When I launched my freelance writing career over two years ago, I had no clients and my only clips were from content mills. I needed to start somewhere so I contacted the editors of local newsletters. Finally, one editor gave me an assignment profiling a records storage company in 700 words for $75. The pay was pretty low for the time I’d need to invest, but I said yes. I did my best work, researching the company, asking questions, getting photos, etc. The editor loved the piece and ran it with almost no changes.

A few weeks later, the records storage company called me. They needed someone to edit their website content, and hired me. I negotiated a great rate. That same day, I emailed my editor thanking him for the assignment, and asking him to keep me in mind for future work. He gave me another assignment for the next month: profiling a local child services company. Same word count, same low pay. I said yes and again prepared a thorough piece. My editor ran the profile and the childcare company called me, and contracted me to consult on web and social media content for four months.

This pattern continued for two years. I’m still writing for him because now almost every assignment he sent my way led to higher paying work. One led to freelance editing contract that paid $1000 a manuscript. Most recently, this editor recommended me to our community food bank and I now have a monthly contract with them. The formula was simple: I very openly let this editor know I was looking for extra work but I also made sure I completed his assignments to the best of my ability. He has repaid me with some very significant referrals. It is truly win-win.

Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan is a writing mom on the run. Best known as a children’s book author and writer, she also provides business writing, creative consultation & social media coaching. She is the owner of Sweet Tooth Communications, LLC, in Pittsburgh, PA. As a runner and triathlete, she relies on a tough physical challenge is a great way to spark incredible ideas. As a mom, she knows the value of humor and patience. Follow her on Twitter at @ElizPagelHogan and see her work at https://www.OneSweetWriter.com.