I'm a freelance business writer, who just happens to focus on Web writing. It has its perks - perks I've seen echoed by quite a few other freelance writers in the same boat. But first:
What are "Business Clients?"
When I talk about business clients (sometimes "corporate clients" depending on your target market), I basically mean any client that's not a "publisher client." A publishing-focused client generally contracts articles for a content-based website, online magazine, etc., where they'll earn through ad revenue or some other means (they may pay writers revenue share, by pageviews, flat fees, per-word rates, etc.).
Business clients, on the other hand, have another purpose in hiring writers - you're hired to help them reach a business goal with more direct results in mind.
For example, business clients may hire you to write press releases with the purpose of getting them media or blog coverage. They might hire you write white papers for online distribution to attract their own clients. Perhaps they'll hire you to write sales or marketing copy to directly help sell their own product or service.
Who Cares What Kind of Client They Are?
OK. Publishing clients are a little different than business or corporate clients, but why should you care? I mean, writing is writing, and as long as you get paid what's the difference, right?
The big differences are these:
- Business writing generally brings in more money, and
- Far more companies need some form of business writing at one time or another than those looking simply for content.
Obviously getting paid more is a nice perk, right? Here's an example, using my own most common form of writing - Even someone charging on the low end in press release writing can often bring in $.10 - .20 per word, where I see the low end of Web content writing more along the lines of less than $.05 per word. On the high end, I know press release writers charging well over $1.00 per word. Personally, I charge a flat fee, but it often works out to the $.50 - .60 per word range for that type of writing. Not too shabby, given that I still charge modestly in that particular specialty.
I also mentioned the strong demand. When it comes to focusing on Web content, you're limited to Web publishers for most of your client work. However, when you focus on business clients for your Web writing, you'll find that nearly all companies have some type of Web presence (or want to create one), and managing that often involves a need for strong Web writers.
These types of clients also don't have long lead times, like some larger Web publishers do, which can be nice.
You'll also often be asked to consult on the direction of the project before you begin, which allows you to essentially serve the role of consultant in addition to writing (meaning more income if you charge extra for that by the hour).
In many cases, I've found far more freedom in business writing than Web content writing as well - this goes back to taking on that consultant role. You'll often be hired for being a specialist by these types of clients, so they're turning to you for your expertise, and they'll often give you plenty of room to work creatively (although that obviously depends on the client).
If these perks appeal to you, what kind of writing can you actually do for these business clients?
Types of Business Writing on the Web
- Web Copy - General (such as the basic copy on a company's site, like their homepage copy)
- Advertising Copy (like that used in a pay-per-click campaign)
- Sales Letters (anything from software to e-books can be sold through online sales letters)
- Press Releases (many companies these days are looking to distribute news releases online)
- White Papers (it's quite common for white papers to be distributed on the Web in .pdf format)
- Product Descriptions (if a company is selling products online, someone has to write the descriptions to help make the sale)
Web writing also goes beyond actual websites. For example, you may be asked to handle email newsletters or internal communication distributed electronically. Increasingly popular is corporate blogging as well - you'll blog about company or industry news on the client's behalf.
As you can see, working with business clients doesn't even necessarily mean you won't be writing Web content - there's simply more at stake than the actual publishing common to so many clients in the webmaster group advertising for Web writers.
Give this client type a try, and I'm rather confident you won't be disappointed.