During the past year or so, as I have actively worked on building my freelance writing and media consulting business, I’ve done a LOT of networking.
I’ve been pretty consistent, attending at least a few events and scheduling several individual meetings with prospective clients every month.
But I got super busy in August and September, so I kind of slacked off on business development in favor of getting some actual paying work done. I’m now playing catch-up, on a mission to kick ass and ensure I have enough work to keep me busy through the end of the year.
Being out and about at networking events again means I’m giving the ol’ elevator speech about who I am and what I do over and over. And over. And over again. It gets better and more polished every time … at least, I hope it does.
It’s a sales shtick for sure, but I’m not hawking the latest in household cleaning products or a new car… what I’m selling is myself and my expertise as a professional writer and media consultant. Lemme tell you what… I’ve had to work really hard on building my self-confidence so that I truly believe in what I’m selling.
I’ve noticed that my pitch has evolved since I set out on my own as an entrepreneur. At first, I thought I would be writing all manner of marketing material — everything from billboards to resumés. I still do all of that, but I have refined my primary focus to concentrate on web content development and PR writing, such as press releases and media pitches. (Oh, and I am doing a lot of media relations and active event promotion, which is too cool.)
Not to be confused with a website developer — who designs the back end of a site, makes it pretty and professional — I am adept at writing the copy for web pages, blogs and other online material. This niche has turned out to be very lucrative, and in pretty dang high demand.
I’ve found that a lot of business owners don’t realize that when they decide to launch a new website, not only does it need to be technically dynamic and user-friendly, someone has to generate the messaging on it.
They often (erroneously) assume that the website company is going to do it for them. It’s a big surprise when they find out that they have to come up with all those words themselves.
Some web development firms have a writer on staff, so for an added fee, you can contract out the writing along with the design work. But most web companies are small shops and don’t have a dedicated writer.
I’ve also found that many, if not most, small and medium businesses either don’t have anyone on staff whose job is focused solely on marketing and communications, or that person is already so overextended on his workload that adding the duty of web copywriting would make his head explode.
Think about it, even if you have just a 10-page website, that’s 10 pages of copy, usually at 250-500 words a pop. That’s more words than most undergrad research papers! Add to the fact that not only do you have to write engaging copy, you also want to make sure it incorporates keywords to maximize SEO. That there is a TON of work, I am here to tell ya.
Enter Amy, Web Content Writer Extraordinaire.
I love writing original copy (or refreshing old material) for a brand, spanking new website. I approach it just like I would a news story. I “interview” business leaders and ask questions about their company. What does it do, how does it do it, what makes it unique, why should people care? (I am fortunate to have a business writing background, so I know a little bit about a lot of industries. From manufacturers to doctors, I love writing about them all.)
We discuss in detail the core messaging they want the pages of their site to convey, then I do some supplemental research and write it up. Usually, the web company provides me with a list of top industry search words to incorporate into the copy, which is not rocket science, but not always the easiest thing to do. My job is to make sure that inserting those words does not make the rest of the copy sound clunky. And that takes mad skillz. Or something.
I also love to write copy for company blogs and e-newletters. In our online world, content is king, so you can’t just put up a new website and let it stagnate. You must continually add new content in order to stay relevant and at the top of organic web searches in your industry.
For me, blogging is an exceptionally enjoyable form of storytelling because each post amounts to short bits of useful consumer info packaged in a conversational style. (Ahem, kind of like what you’re reading right now.)
Anyhoo, as I repeatedly recount my own “story,” selling my services to new, prospective clients, I invariably run into
someone who asks, “Huh. Freelance writing, eh? Can you make a living at that?”
Why, yes, as a matter of fact, you can. I do, and I am. And that is largely because of the huge need for high-quality online content that can only be generated by a professional writer.
I like it, I’m good at it, and doggone it, people just keep on hiring me to write it.
So if you know someone who needs help writing web content of any kind, no matter the industry, please send ’em my way. Or if you’d like to learn how I could help your company get some media exposure, use my contact form.
In case you couldn't tell, I feel very blessed to tell stories for a living!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.