3 Content Marketing Tips to Level Up Your Freelance Income


3 Content Marketing Tips to Level Up Your Freelance Income. Makealivingwriting.com

Many freelance writers find themselves in a tough bind. Even the good writers.

No matter how great your writing is, you aren’t making enough money. You write too many words for far too little money. You spend way too much time looking for the wrong gigs. It feels like you’re running in circles, going nowhere.

Does this sound familiar to you, dear reader?

Here’s a secret I want to let you in on: You’ll land higher paid gigs by providing more than just quality writing. By understanding that the value you’re providing matters, and the solution isn’t necessarily more words.

The solution to getting paid more is to give your clients more of what they want: more traffic, links, leads, and ultimately sales. And you can do that when you apply content marketing strategies to running your freelancing business.

I know, because my first seven blogs never made a dime. But things have changed with my latest blog, The Storyteller Marketer, because I started using three key content marketing strategies to grow my business. Now I command rates 15 to 20 times higher than a lot of other writers.

Not only that, I began to connect with New York Times-bestselling authors, TED speakers, and the who’s who of marketing. All by changing my perspective to think like a content marketer instead of ‘just a writer.’

What changed? Here are the three things I did to help me take my freelancing business to the next level:

1. Understand your client — then, help them

Your first thought needs to be for the client. After all, they’re the ones paying you the big bucks.

So, what does your client want? It’s probably one of the most important questions to answer before you write a single word. And it’s pretty simple to find out. Ask your client what they want and shut up. I don’t mean to sound rude. But the more you talk, the less time a client has to tell you what they want or need.

Ask questions. Listen.

When your client speaks, listen. Use your two ears to key on what they’re saying. Listen to what their problems are. Find out what kind of a budget they have. Ask follow-up questions to identify any other concerns, wants, or needs.

For example, you might think your client wants more content or a longer sales page. But unless you have Jedi-mind powers, there’s no way you can really know unless you ask. If you want to leverage the power of content marketing to grow your business, you have to understand what your client’s goals are to help them succeed.

Know how online marketing works

Just because you’re a great writer, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to generate traffic, leads, and sales for your clients. Great content and well-written copy can do that. But in today’s tech-driven world, having the writing skills and an understanding of online marketing can land you more lucrative gigs and better-paying clients. Step away from being a writer for a minute. Highly paid content writers also:

Learn SEO basics

It’s changed a lot in just the last few years, and will likely keep evolving. And it’s not as hard as you might think. Understanding SEO could be as simple as doing effective keyword research, on-page SEO (such as strong content, title tags, image tags, and keyworded URLs), and link-building (the art of creating content so strong that popular sites will link to it). If you can show your clients how these factors all work together to grow their business, you can obviously charge higher rates.

Know how to do social media outreach

If you want to help a client dominate social media, here’s a simple process:

  1. Go to Buzzsumo.
  2. Look up articles on your topic and find the most shared articles on the major social media platforms.
  3. Download the articles into a .csv or other database file
  4. Go to Contentmarketer.io and let it find email addresses for people interested in your topic.
  5. Use one of the site’s templates to send a message and reach out to the people who shared that article.
This is the exact strategy I used to promote an article to boost shares 252.4 percent. This is just one of many content marketing strategies you can use to tap into the power of social media to help your clients reach more people.

Study up on building backlinks

While there are a number of effective ways to get valuable backlinks (links to your site from popular ones), the first step is simply creating a great go-to resource like a website, blog post, article, or ebook. You’ll use that to reach out to bloggers you want to connect with.

When they write a relevant article, your resource becomes something they may reference with a link. Although this approach can take longer, it’s a highly effective way to help your clients build relationships and generate traffic.

When you take the time to understand what your clients want, have solid writing skills, and understand online marketing, you’ll get better results for your clients. You’ll also look like a hero and your reputation as a content expert will spread. And you don’t need to master everything — just enough to get more results for your clients.

2. Value your skills

When you spend all your time writing for low paying gigs, not much is left for promotion. It’s a vicious trap that saps creativity, slows productivity, and makes it hard to make a living.

Initially, I thought that getting $50 writing gigs would be great. After all, I’d get paid something on top of the free exposure.

Then I stopped myself, and asked this question:

To earn a full-time living from writing, how many $50 articles would I need to write?

Even at just $3,000 a month, that would mean I would need to write 60 articles in a month. Or 2 articles every day. That would take a lot of my time to write all of those articles. Not to mention that would be a lot of time spent finding those leads.

So I researched whether others earned more, and looked at what they charged per article. In doing so, I found out some people make five times as much as the $50 per article rate I was earning, and more. It made me realize that I could do work that matters, be better paid, and devote more time to delivering value to each of my clients.

Think of it this way: How much more freedom would you have if you received $300 more for every writing gig you did? It could be a total game changer for some people. And it’s not as hard as you might think. When I realized I was stuck thinking that I was only worth $50 per article, I changed my mindset and started looking for better clients.

Once you figure out what your clients want and know how you will provide it, the best way to command a premium price is to simply make the ‘ask’. Not every prospect will agree, but that’s okay. Your work isn’t for everyone. If you value your skills, listen to clients, write great copy, and deliver on what clients want, you can charge pro rates.

3. Build relationships with influencers

Influencers have been my secret weapon. With a good relationship, people with big email lists and social-media followings will help you promote it – as long as you choose the right influencers for your topic. They’ve helped me do everything from send traffic to create backlinks. 

I’ve connected with over 1,000 influencers, including entrepreneur Ramit Sethi,  best-selling author and business expert Dan Pink, and the CMO of GE, Linda Boff.

The trick to influencer marketing is to focus on being a genuine human being. Don’t see them as simply a marketing tactic.

Time and effort worth the investment

Like any great work, building relationships takes time and effort. The best relationships are both friendly and reciprocal. You have something to offer the influencer — just figure out what it is.

Your value may lie in sharing ideas, or being their case study, or even in introducing one influencer to another. Take your time, keep connecting with them, and even connect your audience to the influencer by sharing and discussing her posts.

An important thing to remember: You cannot approach influencers as a means to an end. They are people, dedicated to their careers, and carefully mindful of their audience. They have integrity, and deserve your respect.

Content marketing savvy = higher income

If you want to level up your freelancing income and transform your business, put these three content marketing strategies into practice:

  • Focus on being a better listener; ask questions to understand what clients need.
  • Value your work — and get past any fears you may have about asking for pro rates.  
  • Take time to build and nurture relationships with influencers.

Have you used content marketing strategies to grow your freelance business? Share your tips in the comments.

Jason Quey helps Internet entrepreneurs connect with influencers, experts, and linchpins, to rapidly grow their business together on The Storyteller Marketer.

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  1. Brandon Albright

    Hey Jason. Thanks for the great article. I am new to the business and am not quite at this stage yet, but articles like yours really helps me focus on my development as a freelance writer.

    • Jason Quey

      Hey Brandon, glad you found this article helpful!

      I found it most helpful to simply get out there and start trying things out. Taking action has always helped me get better results than just reading articles and hoping.

  2. David Geer

    I like the depth / detail of this article and the extra links you added. Good job!

    • Jason Quey

      Glad you found it helpful David!

      I try to go by the philosophy that if an article doesn’t help you take some kind of action, then perhaps it should not be written :).

  3. Todd

    How does Contentmarketer.io “find” email addresses? I know it can find twitter accounts, but I haven’t seen the email address feature.

    Is there something I am missing?

    • Todd

      I see, I see now. It is a part of a different plan. It is a great app for sure. It made me become a big fan of Sujan Patel.

      I would agree, learn some online marketing strategies and offer more value based on that. This has caused me to go back and think about the copy on my Freelance Writing page.

      • Jason Quey

        Yeah, there are different plans for ContentMarketer.io.

        Glad this helped you to think about what you can do to improve your freelancing! Let me know how it goes.

  4. Sherry Gray

    Great post, Jason! This might be the most important thing a writer needs to know: “When I realized I was stuck thinking that I was only worth $50 per article, I changed my mindset and started looking for better clients.”

    Stop selling yourself short is my favorite tip for struggling writers 🙂

    • Jason Quey

      Thanks for the input Sherry!

      Yes, I never realized how important having the right mindset is to being successful.

      Whenever I do so, new opportunities come up. If you try it sometime Sherry, let me know how it goes. 🙂

      • Carol Tice

        For every writer I’ve ever coached, the lightbulb moment is, “I get it now — I need to treat this like a BUSINESS. Because it is one.”

        • Jason Quey

          Very true Carol.

          I think too many marketers make people believe this is easy money.

          But as we know, it takes a lot of hard-work and labor… but all worth it in the end 🙂

  5. Joe

    Thanks for the link to Content Marketer. This is something I’ve been meaning to do, but always put off. This info makes the job easier 🙂

    • Jason Quey

      Glad I could make things easier for you Joe!

      Sometimes all it takes is the right idea. More often than not, I find it’s all about learning through doing.

      It can be painful, but I find it’s well worth the price.

      • Joe

        Right on! Where’s the link to the $17/month option?

  6. Michael Tevlin

    Thank you for writing a helpful post. This article hit me right at a moment when I’ve been thinking of honing my content marketing strategy edge. I focus on being a really good writer, but now I want to be able to help clients get more of what they want — as you noted, traffic, links and leads. My question: What’s a good way to get smart fast about content marketing strategy? Since I’m academically inclined, I’ve looked at the curriculum for the Content Marketing Institute. It looks pretty darn good. I’d appreciate any recommendations on books, classes or other resources.

    • Jason Quey

      “What’s a good way to get smart fast about content marketing strategy?”

      1. Check out the Content Promotion Summit (picture above). There are over 70 marketers who are sharing their wisdom. If you get it today, it’s also free.

      2. Get out there and start trying things out. You can learn some things from blogs, books, classes, etc, but experience is a better tutor.

      3. Do yourself a favor and see point 1 and do point 2 🙂

      • Carol Tice

        Totally agree with Jason — successful content marketing isn’t in a book somewhere — you get it out of your data from trying things, seeing what YOUR audience responds to, and optimizing from there.

  7. Rai Rose Cornell

    Hey Carol,

    An idea popped into my head as I was reading this article. I responded to your Den bootcamp survey today and remembered that the Den has an SEO Bootcamp. When thinking about new bootcamps for 2017, would it be time to revise the SEO bootcamp since, as Jason says in this post, SEO has “changed a lot in just the last few years.” I haven’t yet done the SEO Bootcamp and don’t know when it was recorded. But that may be something to think about if SEO is as important as Jason says. Content marketing is definitely on my “To Master” list right now!

    Thanks for this great post, Jason! Love the detail!

    • Carol Tice

      We don’t have an SEO bootcamp, Rai — but we hope to soon. 😉 Maybe you mean the social media one?

      • Rai Rose Cornell

        Oh you must be right! I must’ve confused the two. Well, then perhaps an SEO bootcamp would be a great addition! I think it’s something many of us don’t quite understand but it could really help with content marketing, as Jason suggests.

    • Jason Quey

      Hey Rai,

      Thanks for the kind words and glad you found it helpful!

      If you want to master content marketing, you should check out the content promotion summit. It’s free today (link is in the picture above the comments).

      Hope that helps you master SEO and content marketing!

  8. Lindsay Pevny

    This speaks so loudly and clearly to me – right now my typical client gets $50 blog posts, and while it was a huge accomplishment when I went from $20 to $50 last year, I’m thinking the same thing – I’d still have to write a ton of blog posts to make more money, and I’m sometimes struggling to keep up with my workload as it is. Besides, my clients aren’t always getting tons of traffic to their blog with my work, I’d really like to provide more results for them. Thanks for this post, Jason!

    • Jason Quey

      My pleasure Lindsay!

      If you are looking to help your clients get tons of traffic to their blog, check out the Content Promotion Summit. My partner Cody and I created it for people just like you (Carol is part of it too). It’s free today, so I’d recommend you get it now.

      Glad you found the post useful!

  9. Hephzy Asaolu

    Wow! This is a great post! Every writer should learn how to do content marketing. I read a lot about it last year and it really helped me to write better content. Thank you Jason.

  10. Jason Quey

    Glad you found it helpful Hephzy!

    I agree every writer online should learn how to do content marketing, which is why my partner Cody and I created the Content Promotion Summit (link in the pic above).

    But, from what I’ve seen, only some of the smartest take that information and apply that into action.

  11. Riannon W

    Great post! I’ve never heard of Contentmarketing.io before, but it sounds like it’s something worth looking into. Thanks!

    • Jason Quey

      Thank you Riannon!

      Yes, ContentMarketer.io is quite a powerful tool. I’ve found the Notifier part of Connector to be a great way to notify influencers of a given post on Twitter.

  12. Brian Robben

    You’re absolutely right. A huge mistake is immediately asking influencers for something when you haven’t established a relationship. It’d be like asking a stranger to get you a job. Uhh, what?

    So you can keep the professional benefit in the back of your mind, but being a helpful resource and friend should be at the top of your mind when reaching out to influencers.

    • Jason Quey

      Great insight Brian. The more value you give, the more value others are willing to give to you.

    • Carol Tice

      And yet, that’s what about 90% of bloggers do. I get at least one reach-out like that a day, that boils down to essentially, “Hello, total stranger. Would you please do something for me?”

      People don’t do that in real life, so I’ve no idea why they do it online…but if this is you, just stop!

  13. Morgan

    These are really good guidelines for content marketing! Getting to know your clients well will really help you better understand their needs and how to meet them. Nice work! Thanks for the help!

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