Freelance content writing is a competitive vocation but one you can eventually turn into a full-time career. Once you have some experience working with clients, understanding the nuances of SEO content, and delivering assignments on time, you should start thinking about optimizing your work practices to scale your freelance writing business.
Here are 10 helpful tips to get you started.
1. Look Beyond Freelance Marketplaces
While popular marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and so on are good platforms to begin your freelance writing career, once you have established your credentials, you should stop paying commissions to third-party websites. It’s time to start building a roster of clients on your own to become a successful content writer.
Publish a few articles with your byline, build a portfolio, and advertise your skills to the right audience instead of competing in saturated markets. Think of it as increasing your exposure from the limited audience of buyers on closed platforms to everyone on the web.
2. Learn Content Marketing
This might sound like branching into a different profession, but it’s not. Good content marketing is integral to raising your profile, increasing your followers, building trust in your brand, getting bylines in renowned publications, improving your rates, and making a success of your freelance writing business.
You don’t have to become a marketer, but you should understand the nuances of online content marketing. Learn how to write SEO-friendly content. Yoast‘s content SEO guide is a good place to start. Pick up social media marketing basics, email marketing, and other promotion strategies like writing an eBook and creating a unique course with helpful digital marketing courses online.
Instead of pitching to clients on a 1:1 basis or just applying to jobs, changing your marketing strategy will bring recruiters to your profile.
3. Diversify Your Client Base
Take a break from the regular job portals and refocus your efforts toward a different target audience.
Look beyond large and popular publications or startups. Pitch your services and ideas to small and medium business firms looking to upscale their corporations. Use LinkedIn, Google Maps, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, and other online directories to find SMBs to pitch to.
Targeting Local Businesses
Local brick-and-mortar stores usually do not focus on online presence, especially in tier-2 cities and small towns. You can convince them to rethink their digital strategy and offer your services for local marketing campaigns, blogs, website updates, etc. These are one-off projects that can lead to more clients via referrals, and the competition is low. However, be discerning in the kinds of businesses you approach. Use apps to find local businesses near you.
4. Offer Value-Based Service Packages
Move away from the charging per word or payment by-the-hour models. While it works well in the short term, it’s time to explore value-based service packages if you want to raise your profile.
Don’t offer everything to everyone. Create custom service packages for each client. Track results, ROI, and other indicators of success. Use this data to convince your clients to pay you based on the value you bring to their business.
5. Have a Retainer or Two
Retainers ensure you’ll have a steady paycheck to look forward to even as you learn to negotiate better rates for other projects. The financial security offered by retainers affords you the wiggle room to hunt for better projects, be selective with your work and clients, and invest time in learning and improving your business.
Retainers might not always pay top dollar, but it’s a good way of ensuring a steady workflow and income, especially during lean working periods.
6. Team Up With Other Service Providers
Collaborate with freelance web designers, content marketers, and social media experts to develop comprehensive service packages. You can offer service bundles that take care of everything from A-Z and charge higher rates. Educate yourself about successful creative collaboration.
Take a cue from content agencies that offer service packages, including registering a business domain to designing the website, providing website content, optimizing the landing page, and everything in between. This allows them to quote much higher rates than what individual freelancers working in these fields usually charge.
7. Choose a Niche
Generalist freelance writing can pay well, but often not as well as niche freelance writing. If you’re good with a particular niche like mental health, wellness, or cryptocurrency. Focus your efforts on marketing yourself as the expert in this field.
Educate yourself in your niche, take online courses, grab a certificate, and read a few books. Write on different aspects of this niche and publish on online media. Join social forums on the topic, engage with people, share your ideas and learnings, troubleshoot problems, resolve doubts, and offer your expertise for free before you can charge for it.
8. Drop a Few Clients
When you start scaling up, you’ll need to drop the low-paying clients—even if working for them is super easy or you have a long-term association with them.
If you can’t renegotiate your prices, drop them and use that time to earn more via one-off projects. It’s just a good business practice to keep aiming higher; nothing personal about it.
9. Optimize Your Work Process
Document everything you do. Track your time, expenditure, earnings, and so on, before observing the data and optimizing your output. Do away with clients, projects, and practices with poor yields, and work on those that bring in more opportunities and income.
Documenting your work process helps you identify projects that take up too much of your time but earn less than others. This enables you to identify better projects and clients, create proper frameworks for successful work completion, and establish best practices.
10. Learn to Manage Multiple Projects
Working with multiple clients requires a disciplined work schedule. You must establish a routine and follow a proper work ethic to do justice to your retainers and one-off projects.
You need to be a self-starter who’s organized, stays on schedule, and delivers quality content consistently. Use relevant SaaS tools for remote workers to track your work, set reminders, manage your schedule, set up proper communication channels with all stakeholders, and stay on top of things.
Start Scaling Your Freelance Writing Business Today
Turning your freelance writing vocation into a successful business requires taking small steps in the right direction. Take one step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be halfway there, scouting for new sources of clients to pitch your services to, making better deals, and reaping rich rewards.