So you want to become a freelance content marketing writer?
Before I get into the 5 basic steps to becoming one, there are 2 myths I’d like to shatter.
- You don’t need a degree in English or Marketing or any particular degree for that matter to become a content marketing writer. Recently somebody told me they had imagined that I had degrees in English which is why I was a writer. No – all my degrees are in the healthcare field and science. No particular degree qualifies you to become a writer.
- You need fancy equipment and tools to become a content marketing writer. One lady told me she had a second-hand laptop and did not think was good enough to write with. As long as you can type on the computer (and in most cases, you can connect to the internet), you are good to go. I repeat, you DO NOT need fancy tools.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk define what content marketing is.
What is content marketing?
According to The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a “strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
So, as a content marketing writer, the written content you create for your clients has to be valuable and relevant to the overall business goals of the client.
And ultimately, that piece of content should make their business profitable.
This means you have to be adept at writing persuasive content that creates interest and makes people want to take a step beyond reading free content.
This is the topic of another post!
For now, let’s focus on how to become a freelance content marketing writer from scratch.
How to become a freelance content marketing writer from scratch
Decide what you want to write about
You might have heard this being referred to as “picking a niche”.
And even among seasoned writers, there is still a debate around whether or not writers should have niches.
I am in the camp that believes you should have a niche that you actively market yourself in.
However, I encourage you to be open to new opportunities when they do come your way.
For instance, I have been writing for the healthcare and wellness space for about 4 years now.
I market myself as such: it’s all over my LinkedIn profile and most of the inquiries I get about my services fall into the health and wellness spaces.
However, I have also written for the e-commerce and personal finance industries and made a decent income doing so.
When it comes to picking a niche to write in, I suggest you consider the two factors below.
- What’s your work and/or educational experience? My educational background is in science and healthcare. These come easily to me because I have spent over a decade in these industries. Think about your experiences and where they would fit.
- What kinds of publications and books do you like to read? I’m talking about your interests and passions here. You must be interested in what you write. Every time I am in an airport, I find myself drawn to entrepreneurial books and magazines. Therefore writing about personal finance, e-commerce and entrepreneurship come easily to me.
Create samples of your work
Now that you’ve decided on which industries you would like to write in, create samples of your work.
If someone is going to pay you to write for them, they are going to need to see samples of your work.
If you’re starting from scratch, I recommend that you create 3-5 samples.
If you plan on writing blog content for your clients like I do, then you should create samples of blog posts you can show to potential clients.
Here are a few ways to create those samples.
- Start your own blog and exhibit your writing prowess
- Start publishing through the LinkedIn blogging platform or on a platform like Medium
- Offer to guest post on other people’s blogs
Guest posting on other people’s blogs, gave me the boost in confidence I needed to pitch potential paying clients about my writing services.
So I highly recommend it if you are just getting started and need to create samples and proof of your writing.
Create your writer website
Once you have 3-5 samples written, create your writer website.
Your writer website does NOT have to be complex. In fact, it could just be a writer page like mine here.
On your writer website, you will
- Provide background on your experience and why a potential client should work with you
- Display your writing samples
- Give them a call-to-action on how to reach you to work with you.
Well, while I highly recommend having a writer website – especially a self-hosted WordPress website – I also realize that sometimes people don’t have the resources to create one.
If this is you, then creating a free website through WordPress.com or Wix will do for now.
The thing about these free websites is that the domain ends up looking unprofessional.
For instance, which one of these below would make you more likely to trust me:
Chances are you chose B.
So even if you do start with a free website, switch quickly to one you have more control over.
Time to find clients!
Now that you have created samples and a writer page, it’s time to pitch clients.
Your future clients are looking for someone who will create content that will attract potential clients into their business that they can ultimately convert into paying clients.
This is what you want to sell in your emails to the potential client.
How can you help them meet that goal?
In my experience, I have found that the samples I share when I pitch clients do the heavy lifting for me when I pitch.
Nonetheless, you have to pitch to start getting paid as a content marketing writer.
Deliver high quality work
The real work of being a freelance content marketing writer starts when you land your first client.
It is time to bring your A-game!
“Wow-ing” that client is likely to keep them coming back for more. So make sure to do your best here.
Ask for feedback from them.
This was the mistake I made when I first started.
Although I know I delivered good work, I did not ask for feedback from those early clients to find out if my work was satisfactory.
My clients tend to stick around for years (my best clients have been with me for at least two years) but not asking for feedback did cause me to lose a few in the beginning.
So make sure to ask for feedback so you are delivering work clients are 100% happy with.
And of course, from here on out, it is a matter of rinsing and repeating to continue to fill your calendar with clients and work.
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