Once you go into freelance writing, are there other options besides writing that can open up?
For writing, all you need is a laptop and a notebook to do your job; you don’t need a stationary office with the desk chair and whatever. It’s also true of the actual work that we do. We are not stuck in one position.
I teach my writers to start freelancing as bloggers for hire, offering the service of writing blog posts for businesses to use as marketing tools. It’s a great entry point because it’s low risk for them and the clients. It’s a good starting point–the barrier to entry is fairly low.
I got started with freelance blogging back in 2010 and pretty quickly I was doing other things that weren’t writing at all. In another post, I listed what you can write as a freelance writer besides blogs, and in this post I want to share about other services you can offer as a freelance writer, tangential to writing, that you might find yourself drawn to.
Get Comfortable With Being A Marketer
Something that you may not realize, especially if you’re new on the scene, or something that you might resist–I resisted this for a long time–is the understanding that when you are a freelance blogger, when you’re going out there and writing blog posts for businesses to use on their own blogs, you have entered the realm of digital marketing.
I used to be really put off by this concept of marketing.
I talk about this a lot in my new course, Client Bound. I was really resistant to the idea that I had anything to do with marketing because to me marketing was a dirty word. I thought marketers were people like used car salesman and pushy advertisers. The people who wrote terrible scripts for radio commercials. Awful!
Marketing wasn’t something I wanted to be associated with. It took me a long time to realize that as a blogger for hire, I was a marketer. I was writing marketing material for other businesses to use in their digital marketing plans.
I want you to open up to this idea that you are now a digital marketer. You are a highly specialized one. You have a niche. Most of my readers or listeners start off in blog posts. We are freelance digital marketers in the copywriting niche, specializing in blog posts, maybe even burrowed even further down into a niche.
But once you enter this digital marketing world, there is a whole lot more going on.
Digital Marketing Niches (or, other ways to get $)
If you start paying attention, you will see that there is so much going on under this digital marketing umbrella. Maybe you’ve even taken a look and gotten kind of overwhelmed, which is really easy to do these days because there is just so much content being shoved at us about all the different facets of digital marketing. I want to lay out some of the things that you may find yourself pulled to, drawn to, interested in, or curious about.
As a digital marketer, as someone who is comfortable with writing, one of the things that may be easy for you to move into is Facebook ads. Facebook ad copy is very valuable and hot right now because a lot of people are running Facebook ads and they don’t know what to do with their copy.
If you get curious about the ads that are hitting your newsfeed, pay attention to the ones that you want to click more on and read all of, versus the ones that you just keep scrolling past. Facebook ad copy is an interesting niche to get into.
Now that I’m running my own Facebook ads, I’m realizing just how important and special the service is. The ideas and execution are different than blogging. It tends to be a lot shorter and you get your results faster. You get validated or not validated within a couple of days for the most part. It’s much faster paced. And when you have a winner, it feels awesome.
I sort of fell into the funnel building world. I know a lot of people who started off as writers who got really interested in what was actually happening with the pages that they were writing. So they moved into building these funnels. They’re called sales funnels. Most of the people I know use a software called ClickFunnels. There’s also Beaver Builder and Kartra. I think Kajabi has some now and there are a few others. You can even build funnels on WordPress.
If you think of a website as a collection of pages that all fit together, a sales funnel is like a trail of pages. You start on the sales page, then go to the order form, then to a special offer, then maybe to another special offer, and then to a confirmation page. There’s a specific order that they fall in, just one page at a time.
To build these funnels, the first thing you’d do is learn how to write the copy for the different funnels. If you find a client who needs that, you may become interested in building out these funnels.
Something that I dabbled with early in my career was graphic design. I was writing blog posts and wanted to make an image to go with them or a button or banner to say, “hey, if you liked this blog post, you can download this.” That’s a content upgrade. Making those images that you set onto the pages is graphic design.
That’s a great service, if you can pick it up to turn around as an upsell to your blogging clients. You can make pins, you can make buttons. There’s a lot of graphic design that can go along with a blog post. You may find that you enjoy working with bloggers and you’re making blog headers and social media icons and all kinds of things like that. If you’re drawn to the visual side of things, that’s really easy to pair with your writing services.
If you are extremely drawn to the design side of things, you could go into web design and then you’re a powerhouse, you’re a double threat, and it’s pretty easy to pick up a third skill and make yourself a triple threat of web design. You can design a website, you can write all of the copy for it, and then maybe you can do all of the tech hookups in the back end for the email list and the plugins and the whatever.
That makes you a triple threat!
You can sell really expensive packages that way. You are just a complete powerhouse and you can charge thousands and thousands of dollars for these projects because it’s a full website start to finish, completely custom with all the bells and whistles, et cetera.
I know some really good designers and developers who have courses and stuff. If you want to learn about that, you can always get in touch with me. I’d be happy to make recommendations.
Virtual Assistance (VA)
Another digital marketing area is general VA services. A lot of times people get started as a VA and then their clients want them to write stuff as part of their VA duties. They find that they then move into the writing piece or they start off with the writing piece, marketing themselves as a writing VA. Sometimes there’s a lot of overlap between these roles.
As a VA, you’re offering administrative support to a blogger or a small business entrepreneur. A writer might want to specialize in being a VA for bloggers because you understand the blog content and then can pick up the VA services. You can can be a really powerful asset for a blogger’s team.
A blogger’s VA might do email management, keep the website updated, monitor plugins, maybe make recommendations for plugins. You may be not only writing content but also formatting, uploading, scheduling, and publishing it. Maybe you are the one making the content upgrades and the button for people to click on to get the content upgrades. The one setting up those email lists and connecting the content upgrade on the blog post to the email list. Doing the delivery, getting them on the main list, and all of that.
There are so many moving pieces behind the scenes of any online business, but especially a blog, so this could be a really interesting place for you to plug into.
The downside to VA work is that it doesn’t pay as well as freelance blogging. A lot of bloggers I see don’t want to pay more than $30 to $50 a post, unless you can find the really successful ones who have their content machines built and are publishing day after day after day–they may have enough income and may understand the value of what you do enough to pay $100 or $150 a blog post.
But I’ve found very few blogger clients, at least not business clients, but bloggers who will pay more than about $150 to $200 a blog post, which is still pretty good money. That still could be 15, 20 cents a word, which is a great rate, but they’re a little bit harder to find, although they are out there.
Other VA services that you might add include things like email management, customer support. If you’re really familiar with the blog content, then you can answer a lot of customer questions because you’re familiar with the scene. You know what’s in the blog and can answer this question. Customer support might be a good tie-in for you. Although support doesn’t pay as much as writing, or it shouldn’t.
Good writing should command higher rates than customer support unless you’re a customer support specialist, in which case the sky’s the limit. But generally speaking, customer support doesn’t get nearly the hourly rate that a good freelance writer should get.
However, work is work, and the more invaluable you are to a person, the more valuable you are and the more stable your job prospects are. It’s all about whatever your goals are for your business.
Project Management VA
Finally, as an experienced VA or as an experienced writer, you may find yourself slipping into more of a project management type of role. A project manager is more than just the writing. You are the one coordinating.
Your client might come to you and say, “Ashley, I want to launch a course and I’ve got all this stuff written for the course. But I need it to be organized and uploaded to Teachable. I need someone to do the emails and can you just tie it all together for me?”
And then I’m like, “Sweet, awesome. I will totally manage this project.” So maybe it’s all on me.
Or, maybe we have others. So I coordinate with the email person and say, “Get these emails uploaded.”
Maybe there’s a website person and I coordinate with a website person and I say, “We need a new page for this.”
And maybe I say to the graphic design person, “We need this, this, and this visual; we need this logo; we need these buttons.”
(NOTE: I probably would add a “please” and “thank you” to all these commands I issued so that things would get done on time without tiny voodoo dolls of me being made by these people.)
I’m the one who is going to everybody delegating all the stuff, making sure the project happens, and then I can turn around to the client and say, “We will have this done for you by six weeks from now. I’ll let you know if we have any snags and I’ll send you status updates.”
That’s what being a project manager might look like. You might find that you are really skilled at getting everyone to do their stuff. Being a project manager may suit you and you can be the project manager type role and still be the writer.
If your client comes to you and says, “I need a course,” you may be the one to write the emails, write the courses and all of the promo stuff, the content for the new website page, et cetera. You are also the one who is turning around and getting the graphic design done, getting the tech hookups done, getting the email, the implementation done.
While you are also still the writer, you take on the responsibility of this project. That looks mostly like a writing project with some other stuff. Either you can do that other stuff or you can turn around and outsource the other stuff. That’s what being a project manager might look like for you.
Other VA Types
Those are the VA services. It’s administrative support but can go way beyond, into project management, team management, even into Facebook community management, where you take on a prominent role in managing the activity in your client’s Facebook group or page or responding to comments. There is so much that you can do.
You can go into this as a writer and find that your responsibilities expand in the editorial capacity or you may find that you enjoy other aspects of the editorial side of things. That includes things like proofreading. Maybe you want to be an editor. Maybe you started off writing and editing posts for clients and then you decided you liked doing that and you wanted to do it for larger projects like books or smaller projects like social media.
Do you enjoy formatting?
It can mean a lot of things. Formatting is getting the text ready for its final destination, but that’s not a formal definition. That’s how I think of it. Formatting might be anything from putting the bold and getting the HTML set up for a blog post to publishing on WordPress all the way to the other side of taking a book manuscript, marking out the chapters, and getting it ready to upload on Kindle.
Kindle formatting is a thing and people pay decent money for Kindle formatting!
You may find that you like other types of work that go along with the writing. If you find a client who is into ebooks, you may find that you like the formatting piece, and getting it ready to publish. It’s kind of like a puzzle. You’ve got all these steps and things that could go wrong. You upload it and see if you got it right–sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t!
I found formatting infuriating. I hated it. But I know a lot of people really like that sort of nitty gritty minutiae of “is the comma in the right place?” and “are all the little code snippets in the right place?” I’m happy to outsource that, but some people love that stuff.
You may find that you really love the process of doing all the peripheral stuff to get a book ready to launch on Amazon. So you like the book description, or setting up the Amazon ads, there’s a lot you can do with book editing. Maybe you write the manuscript, but then you also get into writing the book description.
There’s one other thing. The main question I get is how do I get into editing? You start offering it. You find editing clients similar to the ways that you find writing clients.
If you really dig the blogging niche, whether you’re doing corporate blogs, or you’re working for a blogger, you may ascend the ranks into blog management. This is when you’re more an editor-in-chief, setting the editorial calendar, editing everything, sending everything to publish, doing the schedule, and managing the contributors.
Maybe you do a little bit of project management because you are requesting the pins from the graphic designer for all the blog posts and dealing with the person who does all the formatting and uploading. By the time people are hiring an editor-in-chief, they have staff doing the less expensive things like uploading posts.
We just covered a ton of ground! I’m curious to know which of these things sound interesting to you and what you might like to pursue.
A big question I get all the time is how do I find these clients? It’s the perennial question of any freelance service provider. I have something for you if you are stuck in that finding clients mode.
It’s my new course, Client Bound, and it’s all about how to find freelance writing clients. These are the types of clients whose gigs are going to open doors for you so that you can get into blog management, VA services, Facebook ads, or any of the other digital marketing things. You can find it at copy chatter.com/clients.
I recommend that you go check out my course. I invite you to come join us in my Facebook Group, The Inkwell Guild. Hang out with us, and get your questions answered. Maybe even have your question or your story featured in a future episode of my podcast!