In Part II, we discussed how to successfully target a niche and break into it. In this part, we’re going to examine how the numbers are shaking out.
Note: Here’s Part IV of this series.
Freelance Writing Jobs Applied for To Date: Number of Yeses, Nos & Maybes to Date
I missed some days, but I applied for 171 jobs in 14 days. Following is what the response has been.
- 1 weekly blogging gig for a content marketing company;
- 1 weekly blogging gig for an internet marketing site;
- 1 social media and writing gig (for a social media marketing firm), which I turned down. I’ll explain why below;
- 1 “write any time you want” gig for a content marketing agency;
- 2 “we don’t need you right now, but will keep your info on file” responses;
- 1 request for proposal for writing two ebooks per month for an employment site; and
- 2 “we like your writing style; take our test and we’ll get back to you” (I’m waiting on results for these).
FYI, I said in this post a couple of years ago that if you make 20-30 contacts per day (per week day) you should land 3-4 steady clients in 60 to 90 days.
My results were a bit better than this, so it’s good to know that the numbers are holding up. And never forget, marketing is all about the numbers. If you put your faith in that and hit your numbers, you will land jobs if your rates are competitive and your writing samples are up to par.
Overall, I got a 5.2% response rate; about 1.75% for actual gigs that put money in my pocket every week. And the two jobs I landed are in niches I know very well, so it doesn’t take me that long to knock out posts.
Applying for Freelance Writing Jobs Now vs. 2007 (When I Transitioned to Mainly Online Writing)
Although there is a lot more work out there now than back then, the response rates are lower. In my opinion, response rates are down for a couple of reasons:
(i) SEO content writing was still very new back then. It’s still new to many businesses today, especially small (micro) entrepreneurs. They don’t know what to call it, but they know they need it; and
(ii) Many clients are turning to content marketing agencies. Once they get a website or blog, instead of finding an individual freelance writer to handle their content needs, they’re using these all-in-one social media marketing and content suppliers.
I see their appeal. You can get everything from your weekly blog posts to your social media account management needs handled in one place, usually for one price.
Right now you may be wondering, “So what does this mean for freelance writers? If agencies are getting a lot of the work, does it mean it’ll be harder for the rest of us to get work?”
Why Content Marketing Agencies Mean More Work for Freelance Writers
“Au contraire,mon amour,” it means more work for freelance writers in my opinion – work that’s easier to get because it is in such a concentrated environment. Also, these companies need writers from many different niches. So they’re actively seeking freelancers.
On the flip side of the coin, you have many businesses who don’t like the content agency model. Either they’ve been burned by cheap mills before with bad/low-quality content; or they don’t like/can’t afford the fee structure, or they just prefer the more personal touch an individual freelancer can give them.
And finally, content marketing is THE way to market online these days. That’s what’s fueled the growth of content marketing agencies. And they’re here to stay. Proof?
One content marketing company raised $117 million last year, bringing its total capital raise to $157 million. Started in 2007, the company generated more than $200 million in revenue in 2014. Interestingly, about half of that revenue came from mobile devices (a good freelance writing niche to target by the way).
Interestingly, I had a conversation this morning with an old client from Canada. He’s a realtor specializing in the luxury market, which is kind of tough right now. He’s starting an internet marketing firm to stabilize his income, because he says he sees the need all around him (and he’s, of course, used the services of many of them).
Digital marketing, internet marketing, online marketing, web-based marketing – these are all names these types of firms operate under. They offer services like SEO writing, social media marketing, website analysis, content management integration, pay-per-click advertising – and a host of other services. It’s a whole new market that’s here to stay – just like search engine optimization and social media.
Now, I do see some consolidation coming – there are just too many of these firms starting up too quick. So in my opinion, there will be some shake out. But will they disappear? No. Not in my opinion. My point – online writing is here to stay, and …
- There are googobs of jobs out there, but
- The competition is stiffer, which means
- You have to be proactive in going after it; and
- The best way to do that is to specialize.
How to Succeed as a Freelance Writer in a Content Marketing Agency World
Niche. Niche. Niche. I can’t say it enough. If you specialize, especially in a high-paying niche, you can practically write your own ticket because for the rates that many agencies pay, they’re not going to get consistent, high-quality content.
Sure, they’ll have some writers with exceptional skills who’ll stay on, but many freelancers cut their teeth in these environments, then move on to find higher-paying, private clients once they’re more comfortable.
Also, clients who sign up with these agencies can be demanding and more often than not, the agency sides with them, not the freelance writer – simply because, that’s who’s paying the fee. So there’s a lot of burnout in this model.
Pros of Writing for Content Marketing Firms
Now to be clear, I’m not knocking these businesses. In fact, there are some definite pros to working with them, namely:
- They have lots of assignments;
- They pay regularly;
- You can build your portfolio;
- You gain experience working in a digital world; and in some cases
- You can work as little or as much as you want.
Cons of Writing for Content Marketing Firms
As mentioned above, there are some definite cons to this model as well for freelance writers, ie:
- You can wind up writing or free because a lot of these agencies give clients the final say as to whether or not your content is accepted;
- You can waste a lot of time pitching ideas because some of them require you to pitch ideas first, then wait to see if they’re accepted by a client before you write;
- The pay is lower than if you market for your own jobs; and
- In many cases, you don’t get a byline (the work is ghostwritten, the rights belong to the agency/client and you can’t use it in your portfolio).
Many freelancers use the hybrid method of working. What I mean by this is they keep a foot in the door at these agencies, using them as fillers for jobs in between marketing for their own higher-paying assignments.
About the Job I Turned Down
It was for a social media marketing firm. I turned the gig down simply because it didn’t pay enough. It entailed sourcing content to post for various clients, then writing short snippets of unique content to along with what you select to post.
I would have accepted it had it just been sourcing the content. I do that all day long for my social media sites and for some client sites. But it was the writing part that made me pause.
Even though they provided search results that matched the topics they want me to write about and they only wanted a couple of sentence of text to go along with that, you had to read through three or four articles to decide on the best one to use, then whip up the sentences.
The job depended on volume, and there was no way I could scale it to anywhere near I’d need it to be for me to earn a decent rate. I counter-offered, but they turned me down. So that was that.
Marketing Pays Off Long After You Stop
In a recent post on SeoWritingJobs.com, a freelancer reveals how a client she cold-called 9 years ago (yes, years!) still sends her work to this day. And consider this … research cited in the article linked to below shows that 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.
So marketing pays off — even if you don’t hear anything right away. I’ve experienced this first-hand throughout my entrepreneurial career.
Usually what happens is, it’ll seem like you’re marketing in vain; then all of a sudden, you’ll be hit with a deluge of work and you’ll be swamped. Then, you’ll probably stop marketing because you’re so busy, then you pump up your marketing and the cycle starts all over again. This is why so many freelancers live a feast-or-famine existence. I’m guilty of it myself.
Why 8% of Salespeople Get 80% of Sales
I was reading this article, which had some interesting marketing statistics, namely that 8% of salespeople get 80% of sales, and it’s because of the following:
- 44% of sales people give up after one “no”
- 22% give up after two “nos”
- 14% give up after three “nos”
- 12% give up after four “nos”
Are you ready to become an 8 percenter?
In Part II, I talked about how I keep the contact info of all the prospects I reached out to so that I could make contact again in 30 or 60 days. In fact, I reached out to about 20 of my old SEO writing clients from 2007. And you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be following up again soon.
Here’s hoping you follow my lead because it costs much less to keep an existing client than find new ones – a lot less.
Coming Wednesday …
Part IV: How to Brand Yourself as a Freelance Writer. Branded writers can command higher fees right out of the box, so stay tuned for that post, ok?
Now, share your results. How long is it taking you to land clients these days? How many marketing touches do you make per day? 1? 5? 10 or more? Please share in the comments section below. Tell us what you did that worked (and maybe not worked so well).
P.S.: I’m Ready to Start My Freelance Content Writing Career
I hope all is well! I just wanted to let you know that this month marked the first month that my writing income surpassed that of my day job.
Thanks to your help and inspiration, I have more work than I know what to do with and have successfully landed a number of clients that give me recurring work. Thanks again for your advice!
SEO writing changed the trajectory of my freelance writing career. It can do the same for you!