Every year, companies invest as much as $5.2 billion in a particular kind of marketing that requires a lot of writing: business-to-business (B2B) content marketing.
Do these companies write it all themselves? Rarely.
Often they’ll get the work done by bringing in external partners like marketing agencies, writing agencies, or – you guessed it – individual freelance writers. And that’s where you might thrive as a writer who helps B2B companies achieve critical outcomes highlighted in Content Marketing Institute’s 2022 State of B2B Marketing Report:
- Create brand awareness
- Build credibility and trust
- Educate audiences about products and services
- Build loyalty with existing customers
- Generate demand and leads
What kind of B2B writing needs to be done? And how can you set yourself up to do it, even if you don’t have business or marketing experience? Let’s look at how a great writing sample can help you can get freelance writing jobs in B2B:
- What is B2B Writing?
- What kind of freelance writing jobs are available in B2B?
- Why do you need a sample to land good freelance writing jobs?
- How do you write a B2B writing sample?
- A great writing sample might just land you a great client
What is B2B writing?
First, a quick primer. B2B writing is business-to-business writing where businesses sell products to other businesses. It’s different from B2C writing, or business-to-consumer writing, where a business sells products to consumers like you and me.
Of course, it’s always a human doing the reading. But humans who are buying products and services for their businesses or employers have different interests, standards, and needs from individuals buying food or products for their personal lives. And that’s why writing samples is such an important part of landing freelance writing jobs in B2B – you need to be able to show that you understand that difference and can write content with the appropriate tone and voice for an executive audience.
What kind of freelance writing jobs are available in B2B?
There are different kinds of freelance writing jobs available in B2B. Some projects might skew on the simple side, like a straight-forward search engine optimization (SEO) article that might define a term or provide background information on a concept. And some projects skew more complex, like B2B thought leadership writing, which strives to convey the ideas and insights of a specific company or executive through ghostwritten content.
There are also different kinds of employers offering freelance writing jobs in B2B. You might be hired by the B2B company brand itself, by an agency that writes for B2B brands, or for publications that speak to B2B companies.
Write for B2B companies
When you work for a brand as a B2B writer, you support the company’s marketing team directly and accept freelance writing jobs from the marketing manager. B2B companies reinvest revenue into the marketing budget for content, meaning there’s a pool of several thousand dollars they might invest in content projects you could work on each month. They’re open to your input about what to write (especially as you gain more experience), but mostly they’re hiring you to fulfill the marketing strategy they’ve generated and they know exactly what they want.
Write for B2B agencies
B2B marketing agencies take on B2B companies as clients, then they hire freelance writers to fulfill the work that needs to be done. When you work for a marketing company, you might serve many brands at one time, or only be brought in for particular projects.
Write for B2B publications
B2B publications create content for B2B executives, then they sell advertisement space, email ads, or content sponsorships to B2B companies that want to reach that B2B executive audience. Publishers are looking for professional, high-quality writing and a writer who can demonstrate a lot of skill in picking up a brand’s voice and creating content on a wide variety of topics.
Click here to learn more about the different types of ways to get paid to write as a B2B writer.
Why do you need a sample to land good freelance writing jobs?
There’s no traditional resume that can get you a writing job. The only way to get a second look is to show a potential client that you can write! And that’s why it’s so important to create a sample of your writing in the B2B niche in order to land high-paying freelance writing jobs.
Now, it’s possible to land a role as a freelance writer in B2B without completing a sample first. In fact, many people do. But when you take this route, you put your client in the position to be your first instructor and editor. Some clients are not up for that, so they will opt not to hire you. Others will be fine with it, but they will not pay competitive rates.
It’s up to you to decide what the best option is. But putting time into creating a writing sample forces you through those first milestones and struggles that come with writing in B2B and allows you to come out the other side at a higher pay rate. Clients who check out your LinkedIn profile or portfolio will be able to quickly see that you have done the work, considered the nuances of B2B, and may be able to help them with their long list of content to-dos.
Click here for an exclusive look at B2BWI’s holistic freelance pricing rubric that explains four levers you can use to charge a higher rate.
How do you write a B2B writing sample?
Creating a sample of your work without a client, boss, or job requiring you to do it is called “writing on spec,” or “writing on speculation.” You can create a writing sample for freelance writing jobs in three simple but difficult steps:
- Read examples of B2B content
- Brainstorm a niche, theme, and topic
- Write a terrible first draft
Before we go on, it’s important to note that you should never pass off the practice work you’ve done as real client work. It’s an ethical issue not just because you’re deceiving a client but because you’re undermining your credibility with yourself. And being able to believe in yourself and trust in yourself is critical in your ability to have a long, happy career as a well-compensated writer.
Read examples of B2B content
Start perusing news sources of B2B content such as individual B2B brands you find on LinkedIn, or some of the prominent B2B publishers today including Industry Dive, FierceMarkets, or SmartBrief. There are also niche trade publishers that you can research in your niche (if you have one) to find more ideas.
Explore a niche that fuels your curiosity
After reading 5-10 different articles, start to think of what niche you might want to explore. This can be based on past work experiences or, as is more common, by pursuing the niches that make you excited to learn more. Human Resources, Retail Technology, and Marketing Technology tend to be the most beginner-friendly niches, but try to keep an open mind about what might excite you.
Write a terrible first draft
There’s no way around this: your first draft will be terrible. This is one of the most important lessons you can learn as a B2B writer, which is that you must write and try it out even when it makes you feel silly or stupid. B2B is not difficult, it’s just mysterious. But as you pierce the mystery and learn new things at every corner, you will almost definitely feel like you’re a little dumb. It’s OK. You need to keep going. Your second try will be at least 10% better. Then the next time 10% more. Until suddenly you realize you’re quite capable at exploring, researching, and writing about B2B topics!
Want some feedback on your first clip? Click here to subscribe at B2BWI and I’ll be happy to read and share my thoughts on one writing sample you send my way.
A great writing sample might just land you a great client
We’ve all been frustrated by the Catch-22, “No one will hire me without experience, and I can’t get experience if no one will hire me.” But when it comes to landing freelance writing jobs, sometimes we forget that we can give ourselves the experience. It’s not easy, and it might be frustrating, but it’s possible to create your own writing sample and begin to build a portfolio that allows you to land high-paying work in B2B.
If you’re wanting to go deeper on this topic, check out these articles:
- Related: How Writers Can Easily Earn More in B2B Content Marketing
- Related: Break into B2B Writing and Ditch the Content Mills
- Related: Find Freelance Writing Jobs
This is a guest post by Sarah Greesonbach, Founder of the B2B Writing Institute. What does it take to be the writer they want to hire? Sarah explores that question with 2,000+ writers every week at The B2B Writing Institute, which offers career inspiration and writing instruction for B2B writers. .
Edited by Omer Redden, Editor-in-Chief.