Last month, Andrea Emerson and I regaled you with 30 minutes of tech errors valuable information about B2B writing. Clearly 30 minutes isn’t enough time, so here’s the follow up post to catch all the excellent questions that didn’t make it onto the webinar.
If you didn’t catch the webinar, you can see the replay (and get the homework) if you sign up for the B2B content writing list.
Your journey starts with my post on The Write Life detailing exactly why B2B writing is a good opportunity and what traits you’ll want to have in order to be a good B2B writer. Then you can tie up loose ends with the following questions and answers:
“How do you calculate ROI on writing? How can you convince businesses they’ll get a return on what they spend?”
ROI is difficult to identify from the outside of an organization, especially if you tend to be a piece-by-piece writer or if the organization isn’t good at tracking ROI, either. This may be an annoying answer, but I tend to avoid this question entirely by targeting organizations and departments who already know the ROI is good and already know they need writers (like companies with marketing and lead generation departments).
If you have to spend your time convincing a business they need a content writer, it’s a red flag.
If you really want to convince a client to hire you for B2B writing, you can get current statistics from HubSpot and the Content Marketing Institute and prepare a presentation or pitch reel for a new client.
However, I want to caution you: if you have to spend your time convincing a business they need a B2B content writer, it’s a red flag that the project will take more of your time and energy than it’s worth and that you’ll be held responsible for more than your share of the work.
“I have all those skills except the SEO skills, where I am at the intermediate level.”
Intermediate SEO is great! Even beginner SEO skills can get you through, and you can get those for free by reading this guide from MOZ or Googling “SEO Basics” and reading for exactly twenty minutes.
Personally, I got started just by understanding keyword saturation (tracking the number of times the word shows up in the post) and paying attention to how most people google things.
For example, an article titled “SEO for Fishing Companies” will likely perform better in search than an article titles “Your Fishing Company Should Learn About the Topic of SEO,” even if the latter is more interesting to the reader. SEO is the science of studying these kinds of scenarios.
“What do B2B clients expect to see on a portfolio to convince them to hire a writer?”
The most attractive portfolio is a well-organized one with clear examples that pertain to a prospective client’s business. That is, the person reading can easily see what kinds of writing you’ve done, where it’s been used, and who you’ve worked with.
You can get there by writing pieces “on spec” and setting aside an hour or two to make up examples of B2B writing as Andrea and I outlined in the homework.
“I’ve done plenty of B2B writing for appreciative repeat clients, but I’ve never found any who would pay $1 a word! Where are these clients hiding?”
Honestly, they’re probably hiding from you. Companies that pay well for B2B writing can be selective about the people they hire. They want professionals who don’t holler about their rate and who know the value of the writing they’re doing, so the first step is going to be to adjust your attitude about writing and sell yourself on the value of what you do (more on that in the closing below).
Here’s more insight from a Write Life commenter, Michael:
I’ve been freelancing for the past six years, following a career in public relations and marketing writing. It is possible to earn $1/word if you follow some guiding principles.
One, follow the money. Look for successful B2B companies in economically vibrant industries, like B2B software and other technology developers. Those firms typically provide fairly generous budgets to their marketing departments for external resources, part of which is to fund content development.
Two, like anything, experience and knowledge matters. Working in-house for many years, I was able to learn about a particular type of technology, as well as the industries that the technology serves. If you don’t have experience and want to work for a certain type of business with a certain type of B2B product or service, I guess research, blogging, and winning smaller projects could eventually help a writer demonstrate his or her ability to work on larger projects.
And three, I wouldn’t bid on a job as “I charge $1/word.” Instead, ascertain the scope of the project–how much research might be involved, the level of difficulty, how many review cycles may be required, and its general word count–then provide an overall figure as a bid if it justifiably warrants and equals $1/word. (And realize, too, that you must offer to work on some rounds of editing, and not just write a first draft and be done with it. That $1/word always requires changing, rearranging, polishing and additional work to those words. But hey, that’s writing, right?).
Michael’s best point is not to lead with a per word rate; I charge only by the project and never by the word, but the rate just works out to an hourly or per-word rate in hindsight.
Finding organizations that already know the value of content is also key, such as organizations that are already investing in content and have a great content marketing strategy in place (look for lots of white papers on their site and an updated blog).
“How do you get clips on Forbes and things like that?”
I’m very proud of the high-level clips I have on my website from sites like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and more. How did I get there? With a mix of skill, luck, and partnership. For me, this was a perk of writing for an agency that places posts for its clients. For you, you might place your posts the old fashioned way by networking with editors, Googling “how to get published on [site],” or writing for an agency, too.
No matter how you decide to go about it, keep strategy in mind. Your name on The Huffington Post might make you feel good, but if it doesn’t help your business (by getting clients who want to be on The Huffington Post or by reaching new clients who read The Huffington Post) it’s a futile exercise in time-wasting. Zero in on what you sense your customers want and spend your energy accordingly.
If You Want to Write B2B for the Money….
Some people are born for B2B writing because they love the audience and the writing comes easily to them… The rest of the writing community is just looking for a steady paycheck doing work they love as a writer.
“I just want to make a decent living writing for people and businesses, and I’m tired of this $20 and $30 per hour nonsense,” so to speak.
If that sounds like you, I am beyond excited to announce that I’ll be launching a course on just that in May called “Make $150 an Hour Writing.”
“Make $150 an Hour Writing” Mastercourse launches May 16th!
This will be a 4-week mastercourse that shows you exactly how I maintain a sweet hourly rate without charging hourly and without working myself to death — just four foundational pillars of writing and running a business I’ve used to maximize income writing about 15-20 hours per week.
I’ll start promoting the course and outlining exactly what will be in it soon, but for now just make sure you’re on the Five Figure Writer mailing list and you’ll get all the information about the course you need.
In the mean time…