Writers know that nothing can match the thrill of seeing your words printed and bound between the pages of a national glossy, or better yet, perched on a bookshelf in a full-color wrapper. Unfortunately, for many of us, those experiences – and the resulting financial rewards – are few and far between. If you are passionate about making a living as a writer and if you are willing to accept relative anonymity for a steady, very comfortable income, why not reinvent yourself as a web site writer?
Not only does this work enable me to pay the mortgage, but I have endless variety and a creative free hand in my work, I meet great people, and I earn tremendous respect for what I love to do. In addition, my clients frequently ask me to do other writing work, from press releases to brochures to blog entries. And, they become the best ambassadors on my behalf for referral assignments of all kinds.
If you think you’d like to try writing web sites, here are a few tips to get you started:
Go to the Source: Web Developers
Because re-launching a company web site is a mammoth undertaking, often web developers are responsible for the entire project, including recommending a subcontractor to write the content. So, let them do the business development for you. Once you establish a relationship with a web developer, you will be on the short list of those they recommend. If you deliver, they will come back to you time and again.
Desperately Seeking Developers
Try the Book of Lists for your particular city, published by bizjournals.com. Read the descriptions to determine if the developer concentrates on a particular industry niche, and if that niche corresponds to your interests or abilities. Check out the web sites of the clients they disclose and gauge the published writing styles against your own. Contact the developer to offer your services; include examples of work that might correspond to their respective clients’ needs.
No links or clips? No problem!
Don’t let a lack of clips or links discourage you. If you don’t have any relevant work, offer to rewrite a page “on spec” to prove your talent. Feel free to provide more than one sample for the same text; this shows your versatility. One of your versions might be the fresh perspective that fits perfectly with their client’s new image campaign; or it may be suitable for a different client. If nothing else, you’ve brought yourself to their attention.
The More, The Merrier
Often, web site copy is reviewed by a committee or a group of people who provide input. This lengthens the feedback process and may cause you down time. To ensure that you are consistently working (and consistently billing), if you are highly organized and dedicated, accept more than one client at a time.
The Going Rate
Fees can be negotiated hourly, per-section, per-page or per-project, or the client may request an estimate from you for the entire contract amount. Often the developer will have information about the client’s budget and can advise you. Consider also setting a “not to exceed” amount so that you have the option to renegotiate if necessary. An experienced content developer can command upward of $15K per web site, for work lasting 3-4 months.
A Final Word
I’ll admit that, no matter how lucrative, my web site writing career hasn’t replaced my dream of winning the Pulitzer Prize. But until that day comes, it certainly has bolstered both my bank balance and my confidence as a writer.
Karen Di Prima is a freelance writer, and the author of white papers, feature and business articles, thousands of press releases, hundreds of brochures, direct mail pieces and marketing materials and numerous web sites. You may contact her at karensdiprima – at – aol.com.