I met Jennifer Goforth Gregory at ASJA’s Content Connections conference and was immediately impressed by her knowledge about content marketing writing. For those of you who’d like to make more money from writing and feel like the freelance print market is drying up, this might be a great career path for you. Be sure to leave your questions for Jennifer in the comments section. Enjoy!
by Jennifer Goforth Gregory
I used to spend my days as a freelance writer writing queries to editors and then crafting articles to run in consumer or trade publications. And usually a blog or two for good measure. But today the majority of my clients are brands or content marketing agencies. Words like “deliverable,” “Return on Investment” and “brand” flow off my tongue. And in addition to writing articles and blogs, I also work on case studies, white papers and branded content. Like many freelancer writers, I have found nearly impossible to make a decent living writing only for publications and have branched into content marketing writing while continuing to write for traditional publications as well.
What is Content Marketing Writing?
Many writers are confused about what content marketing actually is. Content marketing is creating content that provides information for potential customers that helps develop trust in the company. While many people think of blogs and articles as content marketing, it can also be anything from an app or a music festival. Unlike advertising, the main focus of the piece is to solve the reader’s problems not to directly sell and good content marketing often only mentions that brand’s name on the top of the website or deliverable.
If you have been freelancing for more than a few months, you have most likely already written content marketing materials. Go back through your clips and find examples of content marketing writing that you can use as same. I will bet you a dollar that you can find some.
What is the Difference Between Content Marketing Writing and Journalism?
Topics. Interestingly enough, there are many more similarities than differences. One of the main differences is that your clients are companies and often have not worked with freelance writers. Additionally, you have to be aware of brand positioning and really understand the needs of your audience more than in traditional journalism. When writing for consumer publications, you typically needed to know the basics about who you are writing for, but in order to come up with effective content topics you really need to understand who you are writing for, what information they need and what challenges to they have.
Pay. In journalism, the editor typically told you what the pay rate was for the magazine and there was usually little (or no) room for negotiation. But with content marketing, companies pay by hour, project or word. It is important that you understand all three rate models and translate the project back into the hourly rate that you will earn to make sure that you are earning a good rate.
Niche. It is also essential to have a niche as a content marketing writer. A niche is actually just an area that you have specialized knowledge and experience, such as finance, hospitality or technology. But niches can be even more specific, such as fast food restaurants or international shipping. I have heard from many brands and agencies that niche and industry experience is the most important quality they look for when hiring content marketing writers. The good news is that you can have as many niches that you want (I have about 10) and you most likely can quickly find several niches already in your clips.
How to Find Clients
While queries used to the name of the game, most brands prefer letters of introduction for content marketing work. Instead of selling an idea like you did with a query, you are actually selling yourself. Spend time writing an excellent letter of introduction that includes your content marketing experience and highlights your niche. You should also update your website, LinkedIn profile and email signature with your content marketing experience before sending out LOI’s to increase the perception of an experienced content marketing writer.
After you have perfected your LOI, find companies and agencies to target for your content marketing services. Be sure to find a contact person for each LOI because I have never gotten a response from an LOI that I have sent to a generic email address. The member list on the Custom Content Council (www.customcontentcouncil.com) website is also a good place to start as is local marketing and web design firms. If you don’t’ hear back, don’t despair. I recently got two $1 per word assignments by simply following up.
Your turn: What would you like to know about content marketing? Leave your comment or question below!
Jennifer Gregory has over 18 years professional writing experience and loves helping other writers transition to content marketing writing. She has worked with a variety of national brands including American Express, Costco, State Farm, IBM, Linkedin, Intuit and Infusionsoft. Her work has been published in a variety of print and online publications including, www.Entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post, American Express OPENForum, FOX Business, MSN Money and Success Magazine. Learn more at her blog, The Content Marketing Writer.