How many times have you landed a writing gig but the project turns out to be a one-time deal? You deliver well-written content on deadline, and cross your fingers hoping this gig will lead to more work. While your client is grateful and pays timely (which isn’t much), he can’t offer you future work. Then you land another client and the same thing happens again. This frustrating “one-off” cycle begins and it’s difficult to earn consistent income. Does this sound familiar?
The good news is that companies need qualified writers and there is high demand for organic content. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B organizations rely on content marketing for brand building and demand generation. Without well-written content, companies can’t effectively market their products and services. As a professional writer, your skills and talents are a viable asset to these companies.
As a freelance writer, your best investment is to target long-term writing partnerships. When you are retained as a contractor, companies agree to pay you a specific amount of money (usually on a monthly basis) for your writing services. Just like a lawyer, you are retained by a company for your writing expertise and knowledge. The strategic steps listed below help get your foot in the door and retain long-term writing contracts that generate steady income.
Step 1: Conduct Your Research First
It would be nice if a long-term writing contract just magically fell into your lap, but the reality is you first need to do your homework. If you live in a big city, what are the largest industries and corporations? Even if you live in a rural area, you can still target companies that are located in a different city or state. Some companies prefer to hire remote contractors because it’s more cost-effective to hire off-site writers. Local business journals print a book of lists that feature local companies (by company size, industry, revenue, etc.). This is a handy list and a good place to start when researching companies.
Don’t limit yourself to large corporate entities. Boutique marketing/PR agencies and small to mid-sized companies also need consistent writing help (especially copywriting). Search online for digital publishers, magazines, and newspapers. Online publications are always looking for reliable, professional writers who can write quality content on a monthly or weekly basis.
Step 2: Market Yourself as a Niche Writer
You have a better chance of finding a long-term writing contract, if you market yourself as a niche writer. If you specialize in financial writing, go after the industries that value your writing expertise (i.e. banks, financial institutions, and investment firms). You don’t always need a specialized degree either. Companies want experienced industry writers who understand their lingo, and can succinctly write about their industry. If you had a past career in a specialized industry, look for publications that need long-term writing experts for a specific niche (i.e. About.com).
Step 3: Hit the Digital Pavement & Strategically Network on Social Media
When it comes to social media, it can be both friend and foe. Make social media your friend and use social networks to your marketing advantage. Create a Facebook page and post helpful tips for business leaders, and follow the movers and shakers on Twitter. One of the best social media platforms for freelancer writers is LinkedIn. Join LinkedIn’s groups and answer “expert” questions, and share your expertise. Don’t just hang out in freelance writing groups.
For example: if you are a copywriter, join web designer and developer groups. Designers and developers contract with copywriters to write web content. First, introduce yourself and then actively participate in the group. Don’t blast out desperate “please hire me” posts to group members. When networking, the same offline rules of professional etiquette apply to social media.
Step 4: Show How Your Writing Skills Can Improve a Company’s Bottom-Line
You impress the company’s marketing director and he’s interested in interviewing you. How do you win him over and seal the deal? Show him how you are a valuable asset to their team. Your goal is to establish a long-term “team player” partnership, so think in terms of return on their investment. Pitch your writing skills from a sales perspective. Content marketing is vital and keeps companies afloat. It all comes down to money and their bottom-line. How can your writing skills specifically help increase sales, land more clients/customers, and make them look good?
Step 5: Write a Concise Proposal & Vet the Company before Signing a Long-Term Contract
It’s helpful to write a concise project proposal so the company understands your role and goals as their writing partner. Be very clear about your hourly or per project rate. This also saves you from legal hassles down the road.
Ask for references from other contractors who work for them (so you can find out how they treat their contractors).
Remember to always read the fine print of any contract. If you don’t understand the contract, hire a lawyer to read it before you sign on the dotted line. It’s important to always vet the company and make sure they are a credible, legitimate company before you work with them.
By following these steps above, you can leave “one-off” projects behind and moves towards establishing a long-term contract that generates consistent income. It’s not only a win-win partnership for you, but for the company who values and appreciates your talents and skills as a professional writer.
About the author:
Therese Pope is a copywriter and digital content strategist located in Northern California. She partners with a variety of companies and industries throughout the United States. Her area of specialty is restaurant and hospitality writing, and writes for publications that focus on the wine and craft beer industry. She also writes wellness and lifestyle articles and is a certified Zumba instructor. Follow her on Twitter @TheresePope or The Gold Country Foodista
Check out her marketing and writing-related posts on her blog: http://zenfulcommunications.blogspot.com
Also by Therese Pope:
1. How to Hire and Work with an Editor (article)