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:
- Go to Buzzsumo.
- Look up articles on your topic and find the most shared articles on the major social media platforms.
- Download the articles into a .csv or other database file
- Go to Contentmarketer.io and let it find email addresses for people interested in your topic.
- Use one of the site’s templates to send a message and reach out to the people who shared that article.
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.
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.