Freelance Marketing 101: Finding Better-Paying Clients
Are you stuck in a $10-per-article job rut? Have you wondered where all the great-paying clients are hiding?
Many of my fellow writers and blogger friends often tell me they have a nearly impossible time finding gigs that pay more than $10-per-article. They wonder how I find the better-paying jobs, and what my secret is.
The secret is this: Most of the great-paying gigs aren’t advertised.
You have to go hunting for them, understand how your ideal client thinks, and figure out what you can offer them. You have to actively go after these clients, find them, and then reach out to them. I promise you, most of them won’t be popping up on Craigslist or other job boards.
Understanding How Your Client Thinks
The best gigs come available when an editor, marketing manager, creative director, etc. is sitting at their desk, frustrated and downing cup after cup of coffee. They work for a major publication, company, or organization. They’re starting at their ever-growing pile of work, lamenting…
a) The fact the writers they used to be able to count on now just turn in mediocre work. They’re often behind on the deadlines, and they don’t really understand how to follow direction. In fact, one of the first freelancing writing gigs I got resulted from the content manager being frustrated with the quality of work his writers were turning in. I was originally hired to re-write the work that others had done, and then was contracted to create unique content.
b) How understaffed they are, since it’s making it hard to get everything done by the deadline. Everyone is overworked, since they had to pick up the slack from the people who quit or were let go. Small businesses and startups tend to have this problem quite a bit, it seems. Hit them up at the right time, and you are likely to be able to pitch a story they would find relevant.
c) The fact they have been unable to find some quality writers to add to their team. They need new writers, but don’t really have the time to go hunting for them, and certainly don’t have time to sift through the flood of emails that would come from posting an add on Craigslist or some other job board.
You see, the clients who are able to pay the professional rates often need new writers but don’t have the time (or energy) to go on a hunt for them. This means YOU have to go to THEM.
What Can You Offer?
One of the best ways to get those better-paying clients is to niche down and find a specialty. I’ve talked about the importance of specializing before, but it’s definitely worth covering some more. Having a specialty makes it easier to build credibility within your industry.
It can certainly be tempting to apply to as many job postings and gigs as possible, but being a generalist won’t get you as far as being a specialist. Most editors, managers, and companies are less likely to want to hire a generalist who may or may not be able to get the job done right, as opposed to going with a specialist who has plenty of experience writing about that particular subject area.
Finding your niche could come from a particular subject area, or it could be a specific type of writing services. Some examples of lucrative projects include:
· Website marketing copy
· Blog posts
· White papers
· Press releases
· Print marketing materials
· Digital marketing materials
· Trade publication articles
· Ghostwritten articles and blog posts
Typically, these projects are paid in one of two ways: By the hour, or by the project. This is generally up to you, though many publications have a set rate. (Personally, I prefer to charge by the project.)
Having the ability to specialize in a few different types of writing, or having a couple different niches you specialize in, offer some key benefits that will help improve your freelancing. These benefits include:
· Earning better pay than you would earn writing for content mills: Since there is a larger budget to work with, the company will be able to pay you professional rates. This means not being stuck writing thoroughly-researched, long-form content for $10 a pop. Content mill clients are also less likely to cover the PayPal fees, so you lose out even more.
· The companies tend to show respect: Most companies and agencies (such as marketing automation companies) work with business clients. As such, they value the skills, time, and expertise that good freelance writers have to offer. This is opposite of content-mill-type of clients, who will try their best to not have to pay more than a sparse $20 per 1,000 words.
· More likely to have a steady stream of work: The most steady work I have comes from marketing (and marketing automation) companies and agencies. This gives me plenty of opportunity to continue to improve my skills, learn about the industry, and educate myself about the various products and services these companies have to offer. As such, I become more valuable to that company, as well as to similar companies and agencies.
Finding Good-Paying Clients
One of the best (and frequently overlooked) niches is trade publications. Trade publications cover a particular industry in-depth, for business owners within that field (B2B). BCA Insider, for instance is for billiard retailers, and Water Efficiency is for those in charge of handling water conservation and management challenges. You can find hundreds of trade publication titles at freetrademagazines.com. If you have knowledge related to that particular industry, you may want to think about marketing to trade publication editors.
The trick to finding a good-paying company is to think big. It can be intimidating to market yourself to big companies, so many new writers get stuck writing for solopreneurs, tiny startups, or small businesses. While these may provide some work, they simply don’t have anywhere near the budget that big companies do. As such, you won’t be able to earn much.
So, how big are we talking? You want to aim for a company that has at least $1 million, though $10 million is really what you want to aim for. Depending on where your writing career is at the moment, you should be able to find a category within one of the above categories, or at least somewhere in the middle.
So, how do you do that?
To get started, you want to narrow in on target industries where you have some experience or are able to find the business owner to be accessible. These options include:
· A company you have some personal experience with.
· An independently owned store you shop at. (If you know someone who owns a shop, you may want to start there.)
· A small business in an industry you where you were once employed.
If you have some clips under your belt, and are ready to move on from the small-business clients, it’s time to start hunting. Some places to check include:
1. The business section of your local newspaper. Grab a paper, settle in with some coffee, and make a list of: Growth, acquisitions, new locations, new products being showcased, and any new funding that has been given. All of these things are likely to lead to new marketing efforts, which means a bigger marketing budget. These companies could probably use a freelance writer as part of their marketing team, so get in there!
2. Your local business weekly or examiner. As a Tacoma freelance writer, I regularly check the business examiner for my area. This site is all business, all the time.
3. Press release directories and websites. Sites like prweb.com give the latest press release news information for a large variety of industries. They update quite frequently, so you have plenty of opportunities to find companies that just expanded their budgets.
4. Niche job boards. Now, I know I said that it’s best to avoid job boards, but there ARE some that are actually quite helpful. I’m not talking the general sites like Craigslist, HireWriters, or Upwork, though. Instead, you want to look for the boards that are industry-specific, or where the listers have to actually pay in order to post their notice. Since they have to pay to post, they will have better-paying gigs and jobs available. I recommend checking Gorkana Jobs because they have A TON of industries, niches, and options. They have everything from B2B to Law to Sports to Technology.