We’ve been saying it for years — writers run the web.
The internet depends on a wealth of content that’s worth reading, watching, and listening to.
And writers are the ones who put those words together. Who create and shape ideas, who teach us, who move us to action … while making all of it interesting and engaging.
It’s difficult work, and it’s necessary work if we want to attract and persuade the people who will become our customers.
So why do so many writers have a hard time making a living?
There are two ugly problems that keep writers from making what they’re worth, and I’m going to talk about both of them today.
Ugly Problem #1
The first ugly problem of freelancing is finding enough clients.
It turns out that getting really good at putting words together doesn’t always translate to marketing our own businesses.
Word-of-mouth can be a great way to find clients — but it’s not necessarily how you’re going to find the right number of clients to fill your schedule, or to find them when you actually need them.
We talk about freelancing as though it’s different from other forms of business … but it isn’t. Every business needs to have marketing systems in place, so you’re putting a compelling message in front of enough people, and converting a sufficient number to customers or clients.
“My clients love me” is not a marketing system.
Some day, if you’re very good, your marketing might be able to rest on your reputation alone.
You don’t have to starve before you get there.
Make sure you have a reliable way to get in front of people looking to hire a good writer. That might be spending time on LinkedIn, it might be cold-calling, or you could do the work to get onto our list of recommended writers.
The important thing is to make yourself visible to the kind of people who hire writers.
There’s another reason professional writers struggle, and it’s even uglier than the first one.
Ugly Problem #2
What’s even worse than not having enough clients?
Not having enough good clients.
Crummy clients burn all of your time, energy, and enthusiasm getting you to do ineffective work for lousy rates.
You won’t have the time, much less the emotional energy, to work on your own marketing. You’ll be too busy writing dreadful listicles for pennies — for people who don’t respect you or what you do.
What causes a lack of good clients?
Your marketing can’t just communicate, “Hey, I’m available.”
It has to communicate, “Hey, I’m different.”
Well-paid writers work hard to become true experts. Many of them specialize in desirable formats (sales letters, email sequences) or lucrative niches (healthcare, law). And they understand the structures that make marketing effective.
Well-paid writers don’t write dreadful listicles, because dreadful listicles don’t create great results for clients.
And knowing what kind of content creates results — and what kind of content should be kicked to the curb — is an important part of why well-paid writers deserve those great rates.
How to fix your positioning
Writers need to do two things to improve their positioning:
- Get very good at things that clients care about.
- Communicate that they’re very good at things that clients care about.
One of those, “sounds simple, is actually really hard” things, I know.
So how do you do it?
Well, getting very good is a matter of becoming a bit obsessed with your craft, and doing a whole bunch of it. Learn everything you can about persuasive copy. Read this blog, listen to podcasts, connect with writers whose voices you enjoy.
Study content strategy, then try it out. Write. A lot. Publish — on your own blog, on someone else’s blog. Experiment with copywriting projects. Pay close attention to what works and what doesn’t.
Once you’ve got the “being really good” part down, if you’re having trouble getting that across, you may just need a supportive community to get you over the confidence hurdle. In my experience, nothing quiets impostor syndrome better than finding a community of professionals who have your back when you’re feeling low.
So is Content Certification the answer to everything?
Right about now, you probably think I’m going to tell you that our Certified Content Marketer program is going to solve all your problems for you.
Well, it might … depending on what problems you’re having.
- It will get you in front of people who are looking for writers.
- It will teach you the strategies that allow you to get better client results.
- It will give you the opportunity to ask questions about specific hurdles you’re encountering.
- It will open a door to a supportive community that can help you find your professional confidence.
- It will show you models for marketing systems to find an abundance of really good clients.
Here’s what it definitely won’t do for you:
It won’t teach you the art and magic of stringing the words together. You have to bring that magic with you. This program is intended for folks who are already solid writers.
This is a particularly good time …
At this point, I’ve seen a lot of writers get fantastic benefits from the program. Which has been a lot of fun to watch, to tell you the truth.
But I have reason to believe that we were just getting started … because we’ve just started to offer done-for-you services at Rainmaker Digital, and we think the demand for “our kind of writers” is going to spike pretty dramatically.
Now I’m not going to make any guesses about precisely what the demand will look like for the upcoming year and beyond.
But I do know that if I was still freelancing and I had a chance to be on the list of recommended writers right as Copyblogger was ramping up their ability to offer writing services … I’d be all over that.
Here’s how to take the next step
Just add your email address below to be the first to hear when we reopen the doors to a new group of Certification students.