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Which Freelance Writing Services Should You Promote Most?

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I was talking to a new freelance writer recently about getting started in freelancing. One of their questions to me was about which services they should promote the most. In their case they wanted to offer both Web content and Web copywriting services. On the surface, there seemed to be three solutions:

  1. Promote the one you enjoy doing the most.
  2. Promote the one that pays the most per project.
  3. Promote them both equally.

They understood they would be working with two different target markets (and that's a great start -- a lot of new writers don't get that in the beginning). In cases like that, promoting them both equally from Day 1 might not be the best option. It could lead to the writer spreading themselves too thin. After all, at that point you need to start building a reputation around the service(s) you're offering, and it's easier to do that when you narrow your focus.

Here's what I suggested:

  1. Forget about what you like most. It doesn't mean there's a big enough market for it. That's not to say you won't focus on that service, but that liking it shouldn't be your primary reason for picking it. If you don't like one of the options at all, then why are you doing it in the first place? It's reasonable to assume that as a freelancer you like all of the options well enough that you won't start to hate your job by focusing on any one of them in particular.
  2. Forget about per-project rates at this point too. Instead think about your overall income potential with each service. That includes not only your rate, but the average time it takes you to complete each type of project and the size of the market for that project.
  3. Give added emphasis to the type of writing you're more qualified to do. If you don't have any education, experience, or other credentials that would demonstrate value to clients, then what's your selling point going to be? (Remember, price is not a smart selling point for services!)

Let me use myself as an example. The bulk of my income right now comes from press release writing and blogging. Professional blogging is something I fell into as clients found me through my own blogs. Press release writing, however, is what I initially chose to focus on. I had good reasons: I knew what I was doing, there was a huge growing demand for online press release writing and not many people specializing in it when I started, I had a degree in PR and ran an online PR firm at the time, I had training in "white hat" SEO principles, and I had plenty of experience. Even if I wanted to focus on blogging then, it wouldn't have made sense. My selling points fell more in line with press release writing.

Two of my favorite types of projects are actually white paper writing and ghosting feature articles for clients to pitch to trade publications. Yet I don't even mention those services on my business site. Why? First, those projects have longer lead times where you really need to get to know your client's business in depth -- therefore I choose to only pitch them to existing clients I've worked with (it improves my bottom line significantly when I already know the company, products, and services well). Another reason is that even though I may charge more for those projects, they take much longer to complete than something like a press release or a blog post. Therefore I can actually earn more blogging at $100-200 per article in a month than I could earn with a $2000+ white paper, while putting in fewer billable hours (white papers can certainly take more than 10-20 hours).

Please note: That is not to say you should use that excuse to justify taking on low paying jobs (saying "but I can write four of them per hour"). That's another topic entirely, where you need to consider your reputation, the burnout factor, and other issues.

There really is a lot to consider. First and foremost remember that you're in business. You need to make money. But you should also enjoy what you do (otherwise, why not just work a 9-5 job for someone else?). You need to strike a balance.

So tell me... what service do you promote most heavily, and why did you choose it?

5 thoughts on “Which Freelance Writing Services Should You Promote Most?”

  1. This scenario is similar to my current case, but I’m a bit unsure about mine. I mentioned it over on Query-Free Freelancer-I want to be a freelance humorist, primarily. ‘Course, I’m concerned that it may not be enough (my other writing friends/mentors have mentioned that diversifying a bit is expected to pay your bills). I mean, this is humor we’re talking about here-while it’s great, it’s something you have to make demand for, and people don’t ask for it quite as often as, say, copyediting (which I’ve been thinking of offering on the side).

    I guess I’m not exactly sure what to do. Should I push ahead with my humor writing goals, even if I’d probably get more work with copyediting? I’m not even sure if I’d like copyediting in the long run-it’s just something I figured I was good at. In this case, it seems like passion vs. security, and if anything, I’d like both :V

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  2. I can tell you that from my time with one of the content networks, it was a humor site that earned the most for the writer (don’t quote me on this, but I believe at the time they were either earning 6 figures or close to it). So there’s money in humor writing — it has a natural ability to bring in repeat traffic. The trick is figuring out how to monetize it. In that sense, your own site could be a worthwhile investment. I know you have one already. Maybe you could try to mix it up a bit (short funny observations, cartoons, etc.). Long posts and humor don’t always go well together. So I’d suggest more variety.

    Before making a final decision on humor vs copyediting, make a list of potential clients (and even types of clients) for your humor writing. Who would want to hire you? Look at magazines. Look at websites. Look at blogs.

    Better yet, why not find ways to combine the two? Can you write persuasive, but humorous, copy? It might give you a unique selling point in copywriting / copyediting, and it might attract the bigger budget clients who need interesting copy written (think about creative companies in music, television, film, etc).

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  3. Well, I have been interested in combining information with humor and using that as a selling point-we all remember the funny stuff, and that increases chances of retention for other information. That would be a pretty good angle to start with, I think. Either I can punch up normal stuff or write about certain topics I know about with a comedic slant (like time management and self-development).

    Reply
  4. This scenario is similar to my current case, but I'm a bit unsure about mine. I mentioned it over on Query-Free Freelancer-I want to be a freelance humorist, primarily. 'Course, I'm concerned that it may not be enough (my other writing friends/mentors have mentioned that diversifying a bit is expected to pay your bills). I mean, this is humor we're talking about here-while it's great, it's something you have to make demand for, and people don't ask for it quite as often as, say, copyediting (which I've been thinking of offering on the side).

    I guess I'm not exactly sure what to do. Should I push ahead with my humor writing goals, even if I'd probably get more work with copyediting? I'm not even sure if I'd like copyediting in the long run-it's just something I figured I was good at. In this case, it seems like passion vs. security, and if anything, I'd like both :V;. All the best!!

    Reply

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