Copywriting and copyblogging are two highly lucrative writing fields yet too many freelance writers continue to “grind it out” at small-time blogs, “mom-and-pop” businesses and non-profits. In some cases, these freelance writers assume that they don’t have the right credentials to land a corporate gig. In other cases, they are intimidated by the corporate world and its profit-centric terminology such as ROI, KPI, sales copy, landing page, marketing collateral, etc.
However, aside from being prefaced by the word “copy,” copywriting and copyblogging still involve writing well for an audience. Good writing and blogging skills are in dire need at many companies because the marketing departments there usually don’t have enough time and/or resources to employ an expert writing team. A business’ first focus is to sell product. Maintaining a website, generating marketing collateral and producing white papers all take second place.
That’s where you, the freelance writer, come into play. Here is a step-by-step outline on how you can score some high paying corporate clients and substantially increase your income.
Research potential corporate clients.
One of my favorite web surfing activities is to look up corporations in my niche writing fields and analyze the quality of their copy. You can also start engaging in such research by going online and finding businesses that interest you or are in your field of expertise. Peruse each company’s website and blog (if available). Take notes on what you see being done really well and those areas that need improvement. Also, take stock of whether each company has a social media presence (e.g., LinkedIn profile).
Crunch the corporate numbers.
Use LinkedIn to further research each of your companies in terms of employee numbers, years of operation, etc. Most important of all, find out what the annual revenue is of each company you research. Publicly traded company revenues are easy to find because these numbers must be published for shareholders; however, privately owned companies are harder to crack.
Luckily, online sites like Manta and Hoovers provide revenue data (as well as in-depth research services for an extra fee). My personal favorite is Data, which is owned by Salesforce, a software company that produces sales tools for a good majority of North American corporate and business-to-business salespeople.
With your revenue finding tool(s) of choice at hand, focus on companies that generate at least $5M-$20M in annual revenue. These are the companies that will have enough money to pay you, the freelance writer, but not enough money to create and pay for a dedicated marketing department.
Finally, use LinkedIn to find the names of all product and marketing managers and communications managers/directors. These are the individuals to whom you will eventually be sending your emails. Find out everything you can about these select individuals, including what they are talking about on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Take stock of corporate news and events.
What if your company of choice has $1M in annual revenue but just received $10M in venture capital (VC) money? The world of business is fast-paced and this is exactly why you need to keep on top of corporate news and events, especially when they involve any kind of money exchange. When a company receives VC money, this money is like “mad money” and is typically spent on all kinds of items, including copywriters and copybloggers.
Alternately, the company might be sponsoring a conference or art fair nearby where you live. Such events are golden opportunities for you to get out and network with a potential new client; however, if you don’t keep abreast of these opportunities, you’ll never take advantage of them.
You can keep tabs on industry news by following companies on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You can also use Google Alerts to send you daily notices from the companies you follow. Finally, some companies send free newsletters to their online subscribers; if your select companies offer such newsletters, be sure to subscribe.
Pimp your website and LinkedIn profile.
It goes without saying that if you’re going to track companies, you also need to have them track you. Be sure to create a professional website and SEO it to match whatever industry you’re targeting. It goes (almost) without saying that you should also use your website to feature your clips. On LinkedIn, create a thorough professional profile that not only features your work and writing ambitions, but also carries a few recommendations from former corporate clients. If you have not yet landed any corporate clients, try contacting your former corporate employers for a good work recommendation or two.
Soft-sell to your potential corporate clients.
Now it’s finally time to get down to business and actually soft-sell to your potential clients. My favorite tool for this job is LinkedIn InMail. I like using LinkedIn InMail because it’s able to target anyone on LinkedIn regardless of whether I’m connected to that person or not. Also, unlike regular email, LinkedIn InMails are not as widely used; thus, my target has a greater chance of seeing my message and opening it. LinkedIn InMails must be purchased as part of a business subscription plan so they are less likely to be used for junk/spam emailing purposes. In other words, your target client is very likely to open these emails up.
What do you write about in your InMail or just your email? It’s best to make your message short, sweet and to the point. Write your target client about how you noticed that his/her website contains great information on XYZ, but some of the information on Z is misspelled or outdated. Offer your copywriting/copyediting services and mention that there’s more information on your website. Alternately, reference this client’s corporate blog and how it has not been updated for the last six months. Mention your expertise with copyblogging.
The bottom line here is that you are pitching your services to the clients but using a soft-sell approach. You’re not sending a resume or anything concrete. However, if the client writes you back asking for more information, by all means you can forward your resume and clips to him/her.
What if you send your InMails or emails to 10 potential clients and no one responds? Don’t fret. Be patient, continue following these potential clients on various social media platforms, and publish content that these clients might view as relevant to their businesses. After a month goes by, write your prospects again. This time, mention some industry news or statistic instead of pitching your services. Alternately, bring up something that you’ve accomplished that relates to their business. Such corporate small talk is an art form in itself and helps keep you fresh in your prospects’ minds for future work opportunities.
Using this approach over the past year with about 50 target companies, I received roughly 25 responses and eventually landed 5 clients. Those clients have greatly improved my yearly income as a freelance writer. Furthermore, these clients often refer me to other corporate clients, generating more work for me without my having to lift a finger. Therefore, I believe that the approach outlined above can also help other freelance writers improve (dare I say explode?) their writing income.
Halina Zakowicz is a freelance writer at Haelix Communications who specializes in biotechnology, investments and e-commerce. She has been a copywriter and copyblogger for several companies including Promega, Clontech and Boster Immunoleader. She is also a featured blogger at I’ve Tried That and ThePostdocWay as well as a freelance newspaper reporter.