Say Good-Bye to the Low-Paying Grind – and Hello to the Expanding World of High-Quality Content for Reputable Companies and Publications
Content mills are dying. So is product marketing. And some forms of journalism are on life support.
But you know what’s just now coming on the scene like gangbusters? Content Marketing.
And with it comes the demand for high-quality content.
Why? Because only quality content matters now – to the two entities that matter most: The readers and Google.
Unless it’s quality, no one is going to read your content. And if it’s not high quality, Google is going to rank it so low that it will virtually disappear.
This isn’t a prediction. This is happening now. The last few Google updates set this in motion for good. And future updates are expected to be even more unforgiving to the blatant abuse of SEO – with its keyword stuffing and focus on quantity versus quality.
Add to this the reality that today there are volumes of high-quality content available on every subject under the sun. Why would anyone spend any time reading low-quality content?
So what is a freelance writer to do? Transform your career from the low-paying thankless grind to the new well-paying world of Content Marketing – where companies need a never-ending supply of quality content to attract customers through blog posts, articles, ebooks, and more.
If you don’t think you can make this shift, you’re wrong. Freelance writers – who see the writing on the wall – are doing it every day.
Here are seven ways you can, too.
1. Change Your Attitude – You’re Worth It.
Recently I communicated with a freelance writer who had signed up with one of the many online freelance writer marketplaces. But he felt that the good-paying jobs (largely from major companies and publications) were going to the writers with more experience.
While waiting for his big break, his philosophy was to continue working for the low-paying content mills – and to “always be writing” (his words).
I cringed. This is a terrible philosophy for a freelance writer. It will lead to burnout, disillusionment, and the poor house.
When I started freelancing, my attitude was: I am a great writer and I deserve to charge a decent fee for my services. If I am going to do this for the long-haul, I didn’t want to be poor – or “always be writing” for a low pay. And for my entire three-decade career, I have found freelance projects that have paid well.
Naturally, I didn’t start freelancing at the top rate in my marketplace and niche. But I increased my rates to the highest possible level as quickly as I could.
It should be noted that when you work for content mills, you completely forfeit the opportunity to raise your rates. You get paid what they pay. Period. Never a good long-term strategy.
So if you are stuck in the content mill grind, please look first at your own attitude. Until you change that, you’ll never be able to move onward and upward as a freelance writer.
2. Drop Your Low-Paying Jobs Now!
As soon as you change your attitude about being a freelance writer, the next step is to drop every single low-paying freelance project – immediately!
This is critical. You must turn your back completely on ALL low-paying content mill jobs. There is nothing to be gained – and so much to lose including:
- Your valuable time
- Your income
- Your self-worth
- Your morale
Here’s what I mean about your valuable time: Time is our greatest asset. And it’s a limited commodity. We only have so much time in a day, week, month, year, and our lives. Any time we waste is wasted forever – because we’ll never get that time back.
Every time you write a low-paying article, you’ve just spent valuable time that you could have spent finding new clients and writing for high-paying jobs.
Here’s a simple math example: Say you write a content mill blog article and get paid $25 (I’m being generous, as that is the high end). If you spent the same amount of time writing for a reputable, well-paying company you could have earned $100 to $300 for a blog post of the same length.
Similarly, continuing to write content-mill-level jobs will keep you mentally a “content mill writer.” This will lower you self-worth and morale when looking for better-paying jobs.
So cut the low-paying job cord now.
3. Write a Few Stellar Projects – Any Way You Can.
High-quality work begets more high-quality work. Translation: You’ll never find high-paying jobs with your content mill writing clips.
You are going to need some high-quality writing samples to show your prospects. If you don’t have them already, here are a few ways to get them:
- Good Clients. Find a few great clients and just start working for them.
- Good Magazines. Write for some reputable publications in your niche even if it’s for low pay. Note: This is not the same as content mill writing. The fact that you have published in a reputable magazine is impressive.
- Non-profits. Write pro bono for non-profits, preferably in your niche.
- Targeted Prospects. Write a project or two for free or a low introductory rate for companies in your niche.
Your goal should be to get just a few great clips, then move onward and upward, financially speaking.
4. Create an Awesome Blog – and Use It.
Every writer needs a blog today. This means you. It’s nearly impossible to market yourself without one.
But there’s a catch: It needs to be high quality. Why? Because it’s a reflection of the quality of work you produce. Your potential clients will look at it and judge you – instantly.
If you are wondering about how to produce a blog that will impress your clients, send me an email. I’m creating an online course to guide freelance writers on how to launch a great blog, called Blogging Best Practices for Freelancers. It will be launching soon and I’ll give you a special pre-launch price.
5. Become an Authority in Your Niche.
People respect authority figures. But guess what? So does Google.
So it’s worth your time to become an authority in your writing niche. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Write articles for industry publications in your niche.
- Write guest posts for blogs your target clients read.
- Give talks on your expertise, then promote the videos or slide shows.
- Connect to the main people in your niche on social media.
- Maintain a strong presence on social media.
6. Build a Huge Prospect List.
You’re going to need a great prospect list to find your dream clients. This will require some research. You need to know:
- Company name. One of my targets is software companies in my city. So I stay as current as possible on who’s out there.
- Phone number. In my niche, many software companies only list their customer support number on their websites. So I often have to do a bit more digging to find an actual office phone number – or, the Holy Grail, the direct number to my contact.
- Contact name. In my case, my contact is the person in charge of marketing.
- Email address of contact. This one is tricky and, in fact, I’ll be writing a separate blog post about this soon – as I’ve recently found a cool way to find MOST email addresses.
Needless to say, I spend a lot of time online, off-line, and on the phone building my contact list and keeping it current.
To make this work, you’re going to need a database for tracking and organizing your prospects. I used to use a customized software program, but without tech support it’s challenging to keep the software current. I tried Salesforce for a year and hated it. So now I’m just using an Excel document. It simple to use, low cost, and works great for what I need.
7. Regularly Touch Base with Your Prospects.
The first contact with your prospects is your introduction. You can either introduce yourself with a phone call or an emailed letter of introduction. I used to prefer cold calling (as you’ll learn if you read my book – cold calling allowed me to build and sustain a great freelance career for decades).
But lately I’ve seen the advantage of contacting some companies with an email first – especially if they are impossible to reach with a phone call.
A cold call offers the advantage of finding out if the company is a true prospect or not. I’ve received thousands of “no thank you’s” over the years. And I don’t mind at all, because then I know not to bother marketing to the company.
Sending a cold email is more of a crapshoot – because unless they email you back, you really don’t know if they are a hot or cold lead.
After the first contact you make with a company, you need to set up a regular contact schedule. That could be anywhere from monthly or a couple of times a year, depending on your market and niche.
So freelance writers, are you up to the challenge of moving your low-paying career into high-paying gear?
If you are, I believe you will succeed – because the most powerful force of all is determination.