I got my first client from a freelancing site in the Netherlands. It’s something like Upwork – I tried that too – but here, clients are actually willing to pay you good money. So I received 100 euro for some creative web copy around 600 words. And actually I think I could have charged more. The client said it was a decent price. Maybe I could have charged double!
My big mistake was quoting based on hours at first — because I’m really fast, I’d quote a ridiculously low rate. Now I quote based on the value of what people will get. Because I’ve been in online business for about 6 years, I bring a ton of experience and strategy as well as a way with words. :) They’re happy, I’m happy, and my old “friends” now have to stand in line to book me. Bwahahahah!
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress”? Think about all of the mattress commercials and advertisements you’ve seen before. Do they lead with coil count or insulation padding details? Nah. They sell you on how comfortable the mattress is, how well you’ll sleep on it, and how much more productive and enjoyable your days will be when you are well-rested. They want you to positively frame their product, envision yourself using it, and negate any potential concerns you may have.
Problem: I need to reach more customers, while keeping my costs low. According to Forrester research, today’s customers distrust and resent marketing that interrupts or intercepts them. Engaging content marketing should be part of a natural conversation with current and potential customers, be relevant to their interests and behaviors, and build a continuous story over time. Content marketing pays dividends for a very long time, and this effect multiplies as you build out your content library.
Everywhere, there are people / small businesses trying to create their own website who get stuck and need help. As a copywriter, you are the ideal person to help them, because you don’t just give them “a website”. With copywriting skills you can give them something which delivers their message powerfully. (The technical side of creating a website can be easily learned – just sign up for free accounts with Blogger, Wix, Weebly…and play around with them to get familiar.)
The personal finance site Mint.com used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. According to entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi, Mint.com concentrated on building the audience for MintLife "independent of the eventual Mint.com product." Content on the blog included how-to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interviews and a series of financial disasters called "Trainwreck Tuesdays." The popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. "Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content."
I got my first writing gig on Upwork, helping a guy rewrite some content for his ecolodge website. The pay was only about 5 bucks each, but after I’d helped him with a few pages and blog posts he asked me to help him respond to his customer reviews on TripAdvisor for $125. I’ve gotten a few more clients since then, and not one of them has come from my website; it’s all either been through Upwork (mostly small-time) or from talking to friends and family (much more profitable).
Usually, businesses don't completely cease all other marketing activities and switch to content marketing cold turkey. In fact, most veteran content marketing programs typically incorporate other marketing techniques to complement their content initiatives. But the impetus for most of the companies I've worked with to initiate a content marketing program has been the need for a more cost-effective, predictable, and scalable source of traffic and leads than what they've been receiving from their current marketing programs.
Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solid is a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
You run an accounting firm that specializes in tax preparation, and business was lagging this year. You want to do better next year, so you start a blog on your website and publish posts about some of the common tax-related issues your target customer faces. You write a few posts a week, and eventually those blog posts start to rank in Google and other search engines.