Imagine you received this email from a potential client…
I have an ecommerce business I’m about to set up for my very profitable offline shoe store and I’m looking to use content marketing as my main marketing model. I’ve read a lot about it and I’m convinced that it works.
I was wondering if I could hire you as a freelance writer to help me with posts for the blog. The thing is I’m not fully setup yet. So I’m in the process of gathering a team of people who would help me kick-start this online project.
If you’re interested, let me know how we can work together and send me your rates.
As a freelance writer, your first reaction would be, “Yay! A new client! He’s asking for my freelance writing rates. Let me give ‘em to him.”
Am I right?
Well if you did that, you’d be short-changing yourself, big time!
Let me explain…
Being a jack of all trades really isn’t a bad thing.
With this diminishing economy, increase in daily expenses, bills to pay and yet an inconsistent inflow of clients, you need to become more than just a writer.
You need to evolve into an all-in-one solution for that client with a problem. A client like Jim in our example above.
So how do you do that? How do you provide more than every other writer you know?
Increase Your Intrinsic Value By Learning More
Your perceived value is increased once you raise your rates. But perceived value is not real value — it’s only perceived. If the quality of your service doesn’t increase with your rates, then your perceived value is a fraud!
What I’m referring to is the real value of what you have to offer. Your intrinsic value is what qualifies you to earn more. Empowering yourself with more skills makes you more than just another writer on the block.
Taking a cue from our client above, Jim, what other skills can you learn as a writer to earn extra income for your services?
Here are 4 skills you should learn and master. Feel free to pick anyone.
1. Social Media Management
I still haven’t been able to fathom how people can spend hours on social media. It’s probably due to the introvert that I am. For some people, including freelance writers, social media has become a natural habitat for them.
Instead of limiting it as just a place to hang out, why not make it as an extra income stream?
Here’s what I mean…
From Jim’s email, he stated two key things:
- He’s in the process of gathering a team.
- He’s interested in knowing how you can work together.
This opens you up to pitch services beyond freelance writing. Since he’s still gathering a team, he’ll need someone to setup and probably manage his social media accounts. As an entrepreneur, he may not want to do this himself. Why not help out, at an extra fee?
Since working with social media is natural for you, adding it as a service and becoming better at it over time would do your freelance business a lot of good.
And you won’t be the first to carry the title “Freelance Writer And Social Media Expert”. Here’s a list of such service providers on LinkedIn, in case you’re in doubt.
2. Content Strategy
According to Content Marketing Institute, only 35% of marketers have a documented content strategy. Here’s what that means…
65% of people are running their online businesses blindly. So, a content strategy puts you in the right direction.
From Jim’s email, it’s evident that he has never implemented a content marketing strategy before. As he stated, “I’ve read a lot about it and I’m convinced that it works.”
If you have a blog and have grown its audience steadily using guest blogging or any other lead generation strategy, then you’re in a good position to develop a content strategy for a client like Jim. You’re the best person to put him in the right direction.
Jim wants to set up an online shop, so he’ll need an audience. To get that audience, he’ll need an overall strategy that works.
The good thing about offering content strategy as a service is that you don’t have to do the work. The client is simply paying for your expertise and advice. He’s paying you to put him in the right direction.
In one of his newsletters, Bamidele stated how he earned an extra $500 by helping a UK based PPC marketing agency with their blogging strategy.
A content strategy for a client like Jim would look something like this:
“For an ecommerce business to succeed, it needs buyers. These buyers also have to be engaged.
Since Jim sells consumer products, Facebook would be an appropriate social network to set up on (that’s apart from his ecommerce website of course). It would only be normal to engage and retain Jim’s audience on a platform they’re used to.
Therefore, Jim will need a social media content curation plan, a calendar and also a Facebook store. Depending on what solution he built his site with, he could use Magento’s Facebook store or set up with Shopify’s Facebook store. This way, buyers are retained.
For traffic to his blog, Jim would need to make guest posts on authority websites that have shoppers as their audience. Preferably, websites with an audience interested in fashion would be a great pick. So research would be needed.
To retain the visitors that eventually come to his ecommerce website, he’ll need to convert them to subscribers. For this, Jim would need tools like Mailchimp or Aweber. He’ll also need to offer something of value in exchange for their email addresses. This could be a discount on purchases, a contest, or a free report on “5 Types of Shoes You Must Never Wear If You’re Above 20” (that is, assuming he is targeting 20 year olds and above).”
From Jim’s email, all he wanted was a freelance writer to write blog posts. By offering content strategy as a service and advising him with a strategy similar to the demo above, Jim would realize he also needs guest posts, social media content as well as a free report. As a freelance writer, that’s more earning opportunity for you.
3. Project Management
In mid-2013, I received a call from a client I had worked with for over a year. He wanted me to manage his content marketing project and his team of writers so he could focus on other key areas of his business.
This is exactly what a client like Jim needs. He has a profitable shoe store. So with the ecommerce arm, he’s probably looking to scale up. The last thing he’ll want to do is to micro manage his writers and designers.
That’s where you come in.
Being that Jim is new to online business, he may not know what is involved in managing a content schedule or ensuring that only quality content gets published.
With your freelance writing experience, you could bring this to his notice and open more doors to a better opportunity. This way, you not only provide content for a client like Jim, but you also ensure that his whole online business is content-healthy.
You become his superhero because this would give him more time to focus on key areas of his business. And it would put more money in your pocket.
Managing a content marketing project can be tedious, especially when you’ve never done it before for a business like Jim’s. So if this skillset is something you’re interested in, practice with smaller businesses. If you have a client who you know could use a little help, make the proposal. Practice always makes perfect.
Here’s a guide by Content Marketing Institute to help you get started in managing content marketing projects: Managing The Process.
4. Using A Content Management System
I’ve worked with a variety of freelance writers in one lifetime. While some don’t know how to conduct in depth research, placing hyperlinks in articles is tough for some others.
While some clients require their writers to send articles via email, others are required to use Content Management Systems like WordPress to publish the articles. WordPress is the most popular CMS and has been around since 2003.
To be in charge of your writing career, you need to be able to present your work in a professional way to clients. Learning basic HTML would go a long way in helping you package your services.
And this isn’t hard at all. You can learn how to use a simple CMS like WordPress by simply starting your own WordPress blog.
The need for you to start a blog is not only so that you attract your own clients, but also so that you know what blogging involves.
If a client like Jim is looking to ramp up his content marketing project, it means he’s going to have a lot of content to publish. This is where he’ll need someone like you to help publish not only your own posts, but also posts by other writers on the team.
The first step would be to find out what solution his website was setup with. If it’s a CMS you can learn to use, then propose to publish your own posts. You could also offer to publish the post of other writers.
This is particularly useful for freelance writers with good editing skills. Most times, an editor is responsible for publishing content for clients. And I don’t need to mention that experienced editors do get paid well.
Stats by Freelancers Union show that there’s a rising demand for freelance writers now. But these stats by Digital Marketing Institute show that more companies are looking for content marketers. While a freelance writer has the unique ability to create quality content, a content marketer has, added to quality content creation, one or more of the skills mentioned in this post.
The good thing is you don’t have to master all four skills to earn extra income. You can greatly increase your perceived (and actual) value by making just one skill an add-on service. Some clients will only require your writing services, but for a client like Jim, you’ll be more than just another writer on the team churning out content.
With the many problems you help Jim solve, you’ll be a typical example of a writer who is in charge of his career.
So what’s the next step to earning extra income? Out of the four skills mentioned, pick one you’re comfortable with. The demand for professionals like you increases every day as more people consume digital content. Clients are looking for writers with more than just writing skills.
Only one of these skills can put you ahead of the pack. By increasing your value and ability to earn extra income, you’ll attract and only work with clients that can pay value for your services.
You can be a jack of all trades. But as a freelance writer, you’re already a Master of One.
Lanre Solarin is a WritersInCharge team member and a freelance writer who helps creative professionals generate leads online using content marketing. Do you want more clients? Download your free copy of his “Get More Clients” guide to start attracting clients online.