Getting “In” with Web Designers By Angie Papple Johnston

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For some of us, web content is where the money is. We create splashy advertisements, buy fabulous websites, and waltz into local businesses to announce, “I can get people to like your website.”
All of that takes time. A lot of time.

But there are people out there who already have an “in” with business owners whose sites desperately need your talent. Those people are masters of code, purveyors of clickable buttons and streamlined graphics. Those people are web designers.

When you find a web designer willing to contract with you, everybody wins. You get a steady stream of work and he has a new product to sell. He’ll mark up the cost of content packages and sell your services for you. Most importantly, clients are happy with their shiny, new websites and engaging content. When they’re happy with him, he’s happy with you.

My first web designer client found me (through one of those splashy ads I’d created) and it got me thinking: what if I found a bunch of these guys? I could make a killing. He had so much work backed up it took me a month to wade through it, my fingers flying across the keyboard and hammering out SEO page after SEO page – and then I started looking for more just like him.

Start Local

Stuck in a small town? Chances are you’re the only content writer who has bothered to contact local designers to offer writing services. Nestled in a big city? Again, chances are you’re the only writer who has reached out. Almost every web designer who agrees to talk to me, from El Paso to New York City, has only tried to find writers intermittently (or not at all) on those horrendous bidding sites or Craigslist. Very few web designers are contracting with the same writer on a regular basis.

Start with an online search – “web designer” and your city. Then do your homework.
What’s the Homework? Look through all the portfolios you find. An accomplished web designer has a portfolio with several pleasant-looking sites to his credit (including his own). Hit the “Contact Us” button, get the designer’s name and pick up the phone.

Break the ice by letting him how you found his site and that you’re a local, too. Be quick to tell him you’re a writer, not a potential client. Point out that you’d like to help him by providing discounted content services he can sell to his clients.

“I’m sure you know a great site can make a visual impact – but engaging content can get people to stay and buy things,” you’ll say. “You can add my services to your existing packages and subcontract the work to me. I’ll ghostwrite it while you pocket the additional profit, and your clients get a complete site.”

When you’re finished chatting, send a thank-you note with two business cards. A two-liner can get him to call you for a quote within a week.

Not brave enough to call yet? Though I have a higher success rate with phone calls, I’ve formed lasting relationships through email alone. Include links to your portfolio, your rates, a snazzy cover letter and your resume when you send the email.

Bulk discounts will take you far; if you’d normally charge $350 for five pages of content, let your designer know that every subsequent page is discounted until one, somewhere down the line, is free. He can charge his client whatever he needs to – and in the meantime, you command your usual rate without spending time finding work.

You’ll often find web designers who are absolutely starving for great copy – but some won’t even respond to you. Like any potential gig, don’t be disheartened if you find a few who can’t see the perks.

The First Law of Content Writing: for every content writer, there are ten needy and opportunistic web designers. So cast a net, content writers, and catch a designer or two.

Angie Papple Johnston is a freelance writer and former combat journalist for the U.S. Army. She has been widely published by the U.S. Department of Defense and civilian news outlets, and currently specializes in providing web content to attorneys and high-end retail stores.

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