See Bad Writing Online? Offer to Fix It! By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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See bad writing online? Offer to fix it. That’s how I’ve won numerous web content writing jobs from companies. Finding the work is easy. Anytime you’re online, take note of sites lacking content or whose content could use improvement. Most of these are the sites of small business owners who likely made the sites themselves with the help of a tech savvy friend.

Study the site to understand its tone, both in its appearance and in its text. Is it whimsical? Serious? Sentimental? Write a similar-sounding pitch to email to the site’s owner. For example, when I stumbled upon a retail site recently, the little content it contained sounded snappy and witty. I began my query, “I’ve never been coy. I’d like to write product descriptions and other web copy for you.”

It pays to get right to the point because small business owners are busy. I complimented his products, then added, “I think you could do more business with better web copy.”

His product descriptions didn’t match the tone of the home page. I envisioned cheeky descriptions that matched the rest of his text. I mentioned my experience relating to his industry and in writing product descriptions. I embedded links to my writing, and my rate per product description.
Many business owners mistakenly think that web content development is an all-or-nothing affair. I’m happy writing whatever they need. Most web pages contain no more than 300 words, so charge a rate that you would receive for writing a 300-word article (provided that specific page has around 300 words) with a cushion built in to cover the time you spent pitching the idea. Then, work down from there for pricing smaller pieces of content.

Within a day of emailing the retail site, I received an affirmative response. We exchanged an informal, emailed contract. I completed the work within 24 hours. The next day, I received his PayPal payment.

Another time, I noticed that the site of a local service-oriented company lacked content. Since I was calling the owner for an unrelated interview, I asked if he’d like more content. We had enjoyed our conversation so he was primed to say yes and did. (This experience taught me that any familiarity–however short-lived–can improve the chances of a pitch’s acceptance.) The company owner seemed thrilled someone would help him and for far less money than he had imagined it would cost.

Many small business owners assume that hiring a writer costs a lot of money. Charging affordable rates helps me win more work, but I never go too low. I also don’t work on websites that would challenge me with a huge learning curve since that gobbles up too much time, and lowers my profit.

Since web content requires periodic freshening, I’ve learned it pays to stay in contact with business owners. If I don’t hear back from a client for a while, I send him a friendly email. I may not even ask if he needs any new writing. Oftentimes, he emails back with a request for more writing.
Whether I’m writing taglines, product descriptions or an entire website, writing web copy adds to my writing income. It’s worth a few moments to jot off a quick pitch.

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant writes from her home in Upstate New York. Visit her online at http://www.skilledquill.net.