Fun fact: If you want to charge a high rate for your writing, your writing needs to be worth a higher rate.
There are a lot of ways to get to this point: deep experience in a certain industry (also known as specializing); high demand for what you do in a particular format (another way of specializing); or creating an obscenely valuable client relationship.
Today, I want to focus on that last one: creating an obscenely valuable client relationship. Because even if you have not specialized and you are busy trying out writing topics and formats to see where you want to go with your career, there are plenty of things you can do to make a client relationship more valuable.
That is, there are things you can do to make each assignment you turn in a little punchier and get your clients to say “Wow!” a little more often.
Before we get started, please note that these are all things you do after you have negotiated a high rate for your work. The negotiating part is a whole separate wild cat, and that part requires you to target better clients, work on your confidence, and negotiate well.
What we’re talking about today is the “value add” that makes you worth the price — not the product description that sells your services.
These ideas will allow you to step into an assignment and impress clients so much that they have an authentic desire to keep working with you. This is how you get to a level where your clients can’t imagine life without you or that they start to suspect that the other writers they work with just don’t measure up. So, listen up:
1. Add social suggestions to the article (tweets, posts, etc)
Don’t let this get too complicated in your mind; I don’t mean to suggest that you should work for free or be your client’s social media strategist. In a situation where a client wanted to contract you to write tweets as part of their social media management program, you should charge for that.
What I mean here is that after you write an article and you’re knee deep in the topic, it might take about three seconds to add three tweets to the top of the article. But to your client — especially if it’s a small client — you just saved them a half hour of reading through posts, thinking of what to say, and writing it out.
If it takes you five seconds and saves your client a half an hour, it’s win-win.
Here’s an example: One client I work with manages the company blog and runs all of the social media profiles. She’s a busy lady. So, imagine what a relief it is to receive a blog post that has 3-4 tweets just sitting there, ready to go, at the top of the article. It took me about 5 seconds, but it brought a lot of thoughtfulness and value to her day.
Is this a professional social media strategy? Not really. But it is a small task I was able to take off her to-do list because I genuinely care about her stress level. Win-win. If she were to request to always get five tweets, or to want to get on the phone to talk tweets, I’d start talking about a small retainer. But if there’s something I can do in a few seconds to make her life easier, I’m all about it.
2. Add multiple titles with the same keyword (and use keywords)
Even if you got the pitch approved with one article title, go ahead and include 3-5 different titles that use the same keyword.
First, you never know which title will resonate with your client better or which they’ll think appeals to their audience better, so this will save you a lot of back-and-forth about better title options. Second, since every blog post you write for a client needs to have some kind of SEO value to be valuable to them, this practice allows you to show your client that you’re a professional, aware writer.
Speaking of SEO: when you take an assignment, always ask what keyword they’d like to focus the article on. If they don’t have one, it’s up to you to suggest one after you write the article.
If your client doesn’t have a keyword in mind, it’s up to you to suggest one.
If you’re familiar with the industry, the keyword you pick might be obvious. If you’re not, you can use Google AdWords to find a good one. Then include a note in the article about why you picked the keyword. (Note: You may have to create an account and pay for an ad campaign to use the keyword tool, but creating a test campaign can cost as little as $1 or $2, which is totally worth it in my book).
3. Kick off articles with statistics related to the client’s target market
Why? Statistics are the currency of business. Especially in the B2B world, everyone needs to validate their purchases and decisions to someone else. Since statistics allow people to see just how important or pressing a topic is to the wider world, kicking off an article with a statistical source gives the topic (and the article) an immediate sense of professionalism and urgency.
Not only does adding statistics add value to the reader, but it also boosts your client’s view of how the article will be received. In fact, this tip is so powerful that when I first started kicking off B2B articles with statistics, I would regularly get feedback like, “That was your best article yet!”
Find statistics by Googling “[your topic] statistics.” Also, read competitor’s blog posts and look at what sources they cite. You won’t want to use the same statistics unless they’re particularly relevant, but you can review their sources to see if there is anything there that works for your article.
4. Share the article when it’s posted
If you have a few contacts in your network in the industry you’re writing about (or even if you don’t), share the live article. This gives your client more views and shows them that you follow up and participate on your work — you’re not a one and done kind of gal.
This is also why it helps to eventually niche or specialize your writing. When you specialize, you can start building a network within your niche. That way, when you share a post on digital marketing with your network, a bunch of digital marketing specialists will like it, share it, or read it, and your client will see that you’re a valuable connection to their target audience. Otherwise, it’s just your mom and a few friends that will check it out (which is still viewers, so it’s not bad, but it’s not as ideal as a professional network).
5. Subscribe to industry things and let clients know when they’re mentioned
Even if you haven’t specialized, go ahead and sign up for some newsletters and industry information sources whenever you sign on a new client. For example, if you start writing copy for a marketing company, sign up for updates from HubSpot; if you start writing for a local horse riding club (?), sign up for an equestrian magazine or nonprofit newsletter.
You’ll end up on a lot of crazy, random lists, and that’s okay: it widens your perspective of the work you’re doing for your client, will give you tons of great pitch ideas, and will help you keep an eye out for mentions of your client (if they’re big enough) or mentions of things your client is interested in (which all clients have).
Sign up for some newsletters and industry information sources whenever you sign on a new client.
Recently, an industry newsletter I subscribe to linked to a client’s blog post. I didn’t write that blog post, but I forwarded the newsletter to the client and said “Great job, they featured you!” It wasn’t on her radar, so it made her day to see how her work was getting around.
This is another value add that positions you as a professional in your field — a valuable resource that keeps them informed, not just a monkey who delivers words on time. (You do deliver posts on time, don’t you?)