The question of getting into B2B content writing comes up frequently in our private Facebook community for 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success alumni.
So we invited Sarah Greesonbach (our guest in the Freelancer Spotlight last week) to share more about how to break into the B2B niche and how to price your services to make it worth it.
That’s right, we’re talking prices and we’re giving numbers. Read on!
Sarah will be answering questions in the comments, so don’t shy away from asking. And there’s a “Write for B2B” challenge for you at the end.
Take it away, Sarah!
You’ve heard about B2B writing, right?
The business-to-business content industry that’s paying writers a lucrative rate to develop copy for sales, marketing and blog posts with a business’s needs in mind?
Well, now that you know what it is, many writers wonder how they can take their current writing experience and break into this industry to serve clients with B2B writing needs.
While B2B writing is a specialized field, it’s not just for ex-business executives sporting trendy Benjamin Franklin glasses. Specialization is just a process of educating yourself and practicing what you learn. With a little elbow grease, you can specialize in B2B writing and become an excellent candidate for businesses looking to churn out targeted content for their products and services.
A little more than curious? Here’s a look at how to get started in the B2B content writing niche.
Step 1. “Spec” Your Portfolio
One of the biggest roadblocks to landing B2B clients is the fact that you haven’t written for businesses before. Not a problem! You don’t have to be paid to write in order to write for a business – you just need to educate yourself about writing for a business and set aside some time to develop clips “on spec.”
“On spec” means that you generated these clips as an experiment or example of the work you can do. It’s a common term for graphic designers, but writers can use it too.
Here’s how it works:
1. Create a portfolio site using WordPress, Contently, SquareSpace, Pinterest, or whatever works for you.
2. Get an idea of the niche or ideal customer you’d like to write for by considering the topics you like to write about or the past work experience you have.
3. Change your perspective a bit to think of the large businesses that sell to other businesses within this niche. (In many cases, it could even be a business talking to its customers even though this is technically “B2C” or business-to-consumers.)
4. Use these niches to brainstorm articles or white paper ideas these companies might be interested in. Here are some possible areas of B2B content writing, though the possibilities are limitless:
- Healthcare (Marketing, Big Data, New Research)
- Technology (IT Security, IT Software, Compliance)
- Data Analytics (Big Data, Data Analytics in Healthcare, etc.)
- Finance (Compliance, Taxes, Business Management)
- Marketing (All topics have niche marketing requirements)
- Business (Leadership, Human Resources, Organization)
For example, I might look for a Healthcare Marketing company (a marketing agency that helps Healthcare organizations market themselves online).
Then think of an article that the company should write for their clients, such as “How to use SEO to get more patients” or “Why you should use social media when marketing a healthcare company.”
Take a few hours to write an article using your research skills and then post it on your blog. You can put it in your portfolio and say “SPEC WORK: HubSpot Article” or something, as long as you’re honest that it’s something you made up as a sample and it is not commissioned by or affiliated with that company.
If you still feel you don’t have a good idea of where to start, check out your niche brands and read their blogs.
They are already doing content marketing, so the opportunity is there for you to “study up” on what they like and try out that voice and approach to content on your own.
Step 2: Spread the Work Around
Once you have a clip you’re proud of, why not use it as a launching pad for starting a conversation with that company? Let them know how you found them and that you’d love to talk about their content needs if they enjoyed the article.
This is a low-pressure way to make an introduction and let them see that you can think critically and communicate about their industry.
The bigger the company, the more work this strategy may take.
However, many medium and small sized companies don’t get the attention that large ones do.
They may be pleasantly surprised they were picked out of a crowd by a writer who is passionate about their business.
It seems like a lot of work at first (after all, you’re technically writing for free), but if you do this two or three times, you’ll have some solid B2B clips and a few reasons to email prospective clients or reach out on LinkedIn.
Step 3: Price Your Work Professionally
Writing for B2B clients is on a whole other level compared to writing regular blog post when it comes to pricing your work.
Multi-million dollar companies are placing their brand in your hands, and with that comes a higher level of professionalism and, yes, higher rates.
Your pricing will be based heavily on the industry you’re writing about (healthcare and finance pay more, content marketing a bit less) and your experience level (the client may want to take a chance on you because they’re getting a good deal on a growing writer).
No one can speak to exactly what to charge, because your situation will be so different every time you pitch your work.
However, businesses that set aside a budget for marketing (a good indication is the fact that they have a Chief Marketing Officer or a Marketing Manager) and that believe in high-quality writing will not pay less than $75-200 for a targeted blog post of 500-800 words. Some businesses go as high as $500 or $750 or beyond if it is for a particularly large client or difficult topic to write about.
White papers run even higher, from $600 for a simple 1200 word paper to $3,000-$6,000 for a more complex paper of about 3,000+ words.
If you’re reading carefully, you’ll notice I haven’t said anything about an hourly rate.
That’s because the absolute best way to price your services and achieve the ultimate flexibility is to exchange expertise for money, not time for money.
This is a core principle of my B2B Booster Shot course and one of the ducks you’ll need to get in a row if you want to build your own schedule and work on your terms.
Is B2B For Everyone?
Can everyone write for a B2B audience?
Nope. We’re all unique little snowflakes and we have different preferences, strengths and gifts for our clients.
But absolutely everyone can work through this process and see if they have what it takes (and if they like how it feels) to be a B2B writer.
Okay, it’s your turn – Pitch your own “homework assignment” in the comments below and I’ll give you some feedback on how to turn this into a sample B2B assignment you can use to pursue new clients.
Sarah Greesonbach is a freelance B2B content writer who has a passion for helping writers build businesses that actually make life better. She tweets@AwYeahSarah and blogs at www.FiveFigureWriter.com. Sarah is also the founder of B2B Writing Institute with a forever free-foundations course on B2B Writing.