Four Freelance Writing Projects that Elevate You to Valued Consultant
All too often, writers tend to think of themselves as playing a small role in a company’s bigger marketing picture.
But we’re more than just paid writers.
Consider this …
- Drives commerce.
- Can determine whether a company succeeds or fails.
- Finds new prospective customers for a company.
- Turns prospects into buyers.
- Keeps those buyers satisfied.
- Is often the highest-paid member of the team.
The truth is, writers play a critical role in a company’s overall success. And when you change your mindset from being “just a writer” to realizing you are an important member of the team, it will move you higher up in your career and on the pay scale.
And the easiest way to do that is to become a valued consultant, a strategist … a partner. In other words, you plan out a content strategy and get paid for doing it.
We’re not talking about a “one and done, here’s your article” either.
But rather, “I'm here, I’ve got your back. And I'm going to create a strategy to grow your business and your income.”
It’s easier to become a valued consultant than you think. In fact, there are four steps you can follow that help you reach this career milestone.
But first, we need to understand why businesses need your services as a valued consultant. It all stems from the explosion of online content …
The Evolution of Online Content
These days, just about every marketing campaign a company puts together is really a complex beast with dozens of moving parts. It has evolved way beyond simply focusing on the actual product or service.
Gone are the days where a business can simply advertise a product or service on one media channel. Nowadays, every product or solution creates a much bigger ripple of social media marketing, blog posts, and video scripts.
Marketing now demands multiple types of content across multiple channels.
A successful marketing strategy helps a business to create a brand. And a critical component of successful branding is content. It needs to flow seamlessly in a common “voice,” the voice of the business.
Who creates all this content?
Well, a business might use a mix of in-house and freelance writers. They might use one writer for social media posts, another for blog posts, another who specializes in video scripts, and so on.
They could have dozens, even hundreds of writers.
This applies equally to small businesses. They might need writers to create social media posts, blog posts, videos, promotional emails, and e-newsletters. So even a small business might need two or three writers.
But who gives them direction?
Someone needs to coordinate the content, and the writers.
You, The Strategist
This is where you come into the picture. Instead of “just” writing, step up to the role of valued consultant. Become the coordinator, the planner, the organizer … the strategist.
Businesses need someone to:
- Develop a content strategy.
- Create an Editorial Calendar.
- Manage the writers.
- Ensure the content uses a voice consistent with the business.
They need someone to make sense of the bigger picture and bring all the pieces together.
That “someone” could be you.
Then there’s the business website. This is their virtual shopfront, the “home base” if you like. It’s the central hub on which every business should create their brand.
So a website needs to do its job. It needs to attract prospects and provide solutions to their problems.
But what if it doesn’t?
Well, someone needs to figure out why the site’s not doing its job. It could be the way information is presented on the site, how smooth the path is from landing page to shopping cart (the user experience), or a combination of both.
This is another lucrative avenue for you to move from writer to strategist.
And finally, there’s social media. Two things stand out with social media:
- It’s incredibly time-intensive.
- Every business needs to be on social media.
Yet very few businesses have a social media strategy. They simply don’t have the time. So that’s another opportunity for you.
We’ve mentioned content marketing, branding, the user experience on websites, and social media. There’s no way a small business owner will have the time to do all this!
The same goes for many larger marketing teams. They’re crazy-busy already, without needing to worry about this extra workload.
This is where you come in.
This is your chance to step in and provide that much-needed direction … an opportunity for you to move from writer to valued consultant.
Instead of saying, “I want write for you” you can say, “Hey, I’ve come up with a way to get way more traffic to your blog (or engagement on social media, and so on).”
That’s a shift in mindset for you … but more importantly, for your client. Now you’re providing guidance, you’re providing a strategic plan.
Most importantly, you’re making life easier for your client.
Your client can concentrate on their business, knowing you have their back.
By taking the burden off a client’s shoulders, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success. Why?
Because once you show you’re the strategist, the planner, the valued consultant … they’ll want to hold onto you forever. And they’ll be willing to pay you handsomely for your expertise.
So what freelance writing projects can help you step up from writer to valued consultant? A great place to start is with site content audits.
1. Site Content Audits
A site content audit isn’t a technical audit … you know, one where programmers dig deep into the bowels of a website.
Rather, you analyze a website to see how the content’s working, identify gaps, and highlight what’s missing.
So many businesses spend thousands of dollars on a new or redesigned website, only to find users:
- Click away.
- Abandon the shopping cart.
- Don’t click through to other pages.
In short, they don’t take a desired action.
And these businesses have no idea what’s wrong with their site or how to fix it. That’s where a site content audit can help them. It identifies these points of resistance and provides solutions.
You’re looking for ways to improve the website.
You don’t need to look very far to find a website that somehow just doesn’t feel right. These are usually the sites which you click through to, take a quick look at, and then click away. And once you’ve done a site content audit, you’ll very quickly identify why users click away from these sites.
A good website helps users quickly find what they need.
Users want their problem solved, whether it’s the answer to a question or a seamless shopping cart experience. By identifying these barriers, you can help businesses create websites which users will come back to time and again.
A site content audit transforms the potential of a website, way beyond just the copy. It’s how the copy feels, how quickly it makes an impact with the user.
So how do you conduct a site content audit?
The Site Audit Process
You start with a checklist. Pam Foster likens it to a Midas Muffler Courtesy Checklist. They check the oil, the tires, battery, fluid levels, and so on.
A checklist for evaluating a website’s content should contain the following:
- Is there a clear headline?
- Is the copy helping the site visitor?
- Is there a call-to-action?
- Are all contact details there?
- Are the contact details in the right spot?
This is only a small sample. The full checklist covers 21 critical components and identifies if any are missing or need to be improved.
Once the audit’s done, you write a report and present it to the client. This report would typically contain things like:
- What should be fixed.
- What’s missing.
- What are best practices out there.
- What’s the competition doing that’s better.
- How you’re going to fix it.
From there, the client can either arrange to make the changes or hire you to do them. (We’ll talk more about this in a minute.)
The Benefits of a Site Content Audit
A site content audit goes well beyond the copy. You’ll be helping clients draw more traffic to their site, gain higher rankings on Google, or even converting visitors to actual buyers. How so?
Paraphrasing an old saying … “You don’t have to be the best to win. You just need to be better than your competition.” And that’s why you analyze competitors’ websites during a site content audit.
You look at what the competition is doing better than your client, then recommend your client adopts these methods. When combined with all the other website changes you’ll recommend, this approach will give your client their best chance to beat out the competition.
The fees? If you’re starting out, you can charge around $1,000. But then you can quickly move up to $1,500-$2,000 per audit, sometimes more.
The report you turn in could be up to 10 pages, highlighting the main points which need attention.
Then you walk them through the report as a consultant. “Here’s what I found. You’re missing a headline here. Your homepage doesn’t tell the visitor why you’re their best option,” and so on.
The beauty of this approach? Once you present the report, the first thing they’ll want to know is how to get their site fixed. Your response? “I can help you with that.”
You’re in a prime position.
After all, you’ve just shown the client how you can help them … you’ve just proven it by conducting a site audit. So they’ll want you to fix it.
This is the beauty of a site content audit. You get paid once to conduct the audit and then again to fix the issues.
And this work often leads to other work.
They might want to redesign their website or move it to a mobile-friendly platform. So they’ll want you working on this project.
Then you look for other opportunities … propose a blog, videos, an e-newsletter.
A site content audit positions you as an expert in the mind of the client. Now they view you as a valued consultant, a partner who helps them grow their business.
You become their consultant … and their writer when they need copy written.
And because you’ve expanded your role from a writer to a consultant, you can easily charge more for your writing services.
Site Content Audit Resources
Go to 15:15 in the webinar, Freelance Writing Projects that Elevate You to Valued Consultant. Pam explains more about the site content audit opportunity.
2. Content Marketing Strategy
Earlier, we saw how online content has exploded in the past few years. This has created the need for content marketing strategists — the next role you can use to elevate yourself to valued consultant.
A content marketing strategist is someone who can coordinate the endless content which marketing campaigns demand.
First up, let’s clarify what content is.
Content includes full-length articles, attention-catching blogs, engaging social media posts, scripted videos, and newsletters. In other words, things prospective customers read to get information on a specific topic, to get answers to questions.
But also keep in mind that the content you develop is “pre-suasive,” meaning it generally pre-sells the reader on the opportunity awaiting them.
People often think copy sells but content doesn’t. Not true.
Content plays a huge role in leading the prospect towards the sale.
Brain Clark from Copyblogger says content’s job is to get the buyer 80% of the way there, so the sales letter can close them.
Content is 80% of the game!
So when you’re writing content, you should ask, “What’s the intention of this content? What’s the journey we're taking them on?”
Because as a writer, you need to understand it's not just a blog post, not just a newsletter, not just an article.
Rather, it’s one piece in a complex campaign … one piece in an extensive conversation, designed to move the prospect closer to purchasing a product or service.
A content marketing strategist looks beyond the next blog, the next video script, the next newsletter. They ask questions:
- What’s our intention?
- Who are we talking to?
- What problems are they having?
- What questions are they asking?
- How can we build editorial content that meets them where they are at this point?
- Are multiple prospects at multiple places in the buying journey?
For instance, Rebecca Matter, President of AWAI gives the example of selling infant safety products. Where are parents in the buying journey? They could be:
- about to have a baby,
- just had a baby and are exhausted and terrified,
- past the first stage and settling into this strange new world.
So the prospects are changing, they’re dynamic. Where they are in their journey determines what content is appropriate for them.
Understanding this is a content marketing strategist’s job.
Then they address these questions by planning a content strategy. How? With an Editorial Calendar.
The Benefits of a Content Strategy
The Editorial Calendar is the roadmap, it drives what content is needed by when. And everyone involved knows what’s next … what’s going out on which channel this week, next week, next month.
A content marketing strategy helps identify any content gaps. And it gives you more credibility with your client.
They can relax, knowing you have them covered. You’re bringing in new enquiries, new prospects, new sales. So they’ll want you stick around.
You can charge around $5,000 for the strategy. Then you can either manage a team of writers, do the writing yourself, or a mix of both.
And being a content strategist is the ideal set-up for a retainer deal.
A content marketing strategist walks in the door at a high level. Your perceived value is way higher than a content writer’s. You understand their project and the big picture from start to finish.
So you’re worth a lot of money to a client.
Content Marketing Strategy Resources
Go to 28:58 in the webinar, Freelance Writing Projects that Elevate You to Valued Consultant. Here, Pam and Rebecca explain more on the content marketing opportunity.
3. UX Copywriting
Smart businesses are embracing UX (user experience). What is UX? It can be summed up in four words … the user comes first.
It looks at the entire customer journey, to ensure every touch point is smooth and straightforward for the user.
Think of it like you’re kayaking down a river. You want the trip to be smooth and easy from start to finish, with no obstacles. But if there are dam walls and shallow pools in your way, then you’ll either give up or never return to this river.
UX is about making that trip the smoothest, most hassle-free experience it can possibly be.
UX used to be just a design or technical field. But now, UX copywriters are emerging. How are UX copywriters different?
Well, UX copywriters don’t write content in a vacuum.
They advise clients on how to enrich the customer experience throughout the entire buying cycle. A UX copywriter’s content fits neatly into one smooth buyer journey.
Let’s take a look at how this works in practice.
A UX copywriter always asks, “What’s the experience for a site visitor?”
Not only the content, but how quickly a company responds to an email … how smooth the path is from a free report landing page through to the download … the purchasing experience in the shopping cart.
What’s the user experience at every touch point? It is smooth or are there dam walls in the way?
As a UX copywriter, you’re in a unique position to offer an experience rather than simply offering content.
And because you look at the user journey all the way through, you ensure your client’s website flows smoothly … no matter which path the user takes.
UX goes well beyond a client’s website. It’s a philosophy smart companies are adopting to ensure every touch point is a positive experience.
The Benefits of UX Copywriting
As part of this bigger UX picture, a UX copywriter can offer audits.
You report on what a client’s site looks like to a user. Then you make recommendations … just like a site content audit.
But the difference is, a UX audit looks at the entire journey from start to finish … and every step in between.
And UX is never “done.”
You can be their UX manager, continually monitoring touch points and making changes as needed. Do the new emails get opened more, are cart abandonments decreasing, and so on.
UX design and UX programming are already well-established fields. However, UX copywriters are few and far between. You’ll have little competition and the fees are amazing.
Here’s a few examples (from Heather Robson, Managing Editor of Wealthy Web Writer):
- E-commerce audit (the shopping cart buying experience): $1,000-$2,000.
- Mobile audit (the user experience on a mobile phone): $2,000-$3,000.
- Complete website audit: upwards of $10,000.
Why the high fees? Because all the small changes you pick up and report on can make a huge difference to a client’s bottom line.
In the eyes of the client, you’re providing plenty of value.
So as a UX copywriter, you’re ideally positioned to take the next step and become a valued consultant.
And you’ll be one of the few copywriters who truly understands UX principles. Businesses understand this, so they’ll be willing to pay premium rates for your services.
UX Copywriting Resources
Go to 41:45 in the webinar, Freelance Writing Projects that Elevate You to Valued Consultant to learn more about UX copywriting.
4. Social Media Management
If there’s one thing pretty much every business knows, it’s that they should be on social media.
After all, it’s where a company’s prospects hang out … where they’re searching for answers to their questions about products … where they’re making buying decisions.
And it’s where a company can build trust, awareness, and engagement with prospects and customers alike.
But … social media management can be a full-time job. Honestly, what businessperson has time to add social media management to their already frantic schedule?
This is where a social media manager steps forward.
A social media manager maps out a strategy. They ask questions like these:
- What are you doing with social media now?
- What are you using it for?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What’s the intention, what are you trying to achieve?
From this information, a social media manager can decide which social media channels are most suitable to achieve those aims.
Then they build a social media strategy for a business, based around:
- Brand awareness.
- Acquisition of prospects.
- Community within the page or group.
- Servicing an audience.
- Being there for the audience.
- Creating assets like graphics and videos.
And finally, creating a content calendar … what posts to publish on which social media channels.
The Benefits of Social Media Management
Social media management can bring in a whole new bunch of prospects to a business.
You can do the strategic planning. Or you might be the moderator, write the ads, create content … or you might choose to take it all on and manage a bunch of freelancers to help you.
And as a social media manager, you can set up a retainer deal. You might agree to 10 hours per week, on a monthly retainer of $2,000 per month, for instance. It depends on how involved you want to be.
The other opportunity?
You know the audience, you know their pain points, their questions, their needs. So you’re in an ideal position to write other content for the business … blog posts, articles, newsletters, and so on.
Social Media Management Resources
Go to 47:41 in the webinar, Freelance Writing Projects that Elevate You to Valued Consultant. You’ll learn more about why social media management is such a great option for writers.
How to Lock in Lasting Relationships
So, how do you become a client’s valued consultant and lock in a lasting relationship for years to come?
First up, assume clients need help … because they do. They’re overwhelmed.
They already have full-time jobs, trying to run and grow their business. They don’t have time to learn and manage all these different marketing channels.
More buyers than ever are online and the competition is high. No wonder so many businesses struggle to compete. They might throw a pile of money at ads, copy, and websites …
But they don’t get the results.
Why? Because they don’t know how to do it … and they don’t have time to learn.
That’s where you come in.
You don’t need to approach companies, cap in hand, pleading for work. They need you.
The other thing you should do is research their audience. Find out:
- Who they are.
- What they’re looking for.
- What they’re hoping to solve, find, or achieve.
- How they’re looking for a solution. Are they into social media? Are they on their phones?
- Where are they looking?
- What do they know or believe to be true about that business category?
Once you know this, you can help a business to help their customers and prospects … and you can reassure the audience that the business is there to help them.
So many businesses don’t do this. They need you to do it for them.
(If you’d like to hear Pam and Rebecca’s ideas on more ways to lock in lasting relationships with clients, go to 56:05 in the webinar, Freelance Writing Projects that Elevate You to Valued Consultant.)
Being a valued consultant is like being a superhero to your client. You’re the person who brings in fresh ideas, shows the client what their competition is doing better, shows them how to stand apart, and creates a strategic plan for them … and guides them.
In other words, helping them in every way possible.
When you’re a consultant, you’re invested in them. You’re not just saying, “I’ll write some blog posts.” Instead, you’re proposing a plan … a strategy to grow their business. You want them to succeed, to grow, to thrive.
In return, they’ll be more than happy to pay you handsomely for your efforts.
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