Content marketing is on track to be an industry worth $412.88 billion by 2021. This doesn’t come as a surprise given how easy it is to consume content now, whether it is videos, blogs or even AR content. And, being a freelance marketplace we can confirm this; we have never had a dearth of content writing projects on our platform.
At the same time, the number of content writers has increased significantly over. Hence, we often see a single content writing job receiving 100+ of applications. The question becomes — how do you stand out from other applicants? Well, for starters, get the basics of content writing down. Then, make yourself more employable — that’s what this post is all about.
Nine effective tips for landing more freelance content writing clients
As a freelance marketplace, we at TapChief, regularly interact with businesses who are looking to hire content writers. Based on that, we’ve identified different qualities, skills, and traits clients look for when hiring freelance writers.
1. Be up-to-date
Content marketing is ever-evolving. We keep seeing new content formats and distribution channels emerging all the time — from blog posts to AR videos and print magazines to social networks. Even the consumption trends are changing, and people are now consuming more content on mobile than ever.
So, you must stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your target domain. It will give you a competitive edge over other writers. For instance, if you are a sportswriter, knowing how to write podcast scripts will come in handy as it is the preferred mode of content consumption among sports fans.
Here are a few tips to help you stay up-to-date:
- Use free aggregator tools such as Flipboard, Feedly, Zest, Pocket, Refind, and AndersPink to keep up-to-date with the latest news and happenings in your industry and content marketing in general.
- Follow and engage with content marketing experts and stalwarts from your target domains on social media.
- Interact with your target audience, find out what kind of content do they like, and how do they consume content.
- Analyse the content published by the top players in your target domain, find out what’s performing well and what makes them tick.
- Use apps such as 10times, EventsHigh, Meetup, and Eventbrite to find out relevant events happening in your area.
2. Show that you are self-motivated
Sometimes, early-stage startups and small businesses may not have the expertise to run a content marketing campaign. In such cases, they expect the freelance content writer to play a more significant role right from ideation to the distribution of their content.
By conveying to clients that you can take care of the content creation process without too much supervision, you are taking off a massive load from their shoulders. In the end, you are enabling them to focus more on core business efforts.
Here are a few ways to show that you are a driven person:
- Tell clients that you can also do SEO, write social copies, and create outlines for social media creatives.
- Don’t wait for the client to come asking, submit everything from your portfolio, proposal, terms and conditions, proactively.
- Be proactive when it comes to researching the client’s target audience and also, sharing your ideas.
- Always try to do more than what is expected from your end, right from the first interaction with the client.
3. Show attention-to-detail
Imagine sending a poorly formatted project proposal with spelling and grammar mistakes. That will be it. Your chances of landing the content writing job will be next to none.
So, right from the first interaction with a potential client, prove that you are meticulous and thorough. It shows that you take things seriously and likes to do a thorough job.
You don’t have to attend coaching programs to develop this. Instead, merely do the simple things right:
- Keep your work samples in one place — categorised, sorted, and easily accessible.
- Every project proposal you send should be personalised, detailed, and comprehensive.
- Don’t claim that you are detail-oriented; prove it to them instead by ensuring your LinkedIn profile, TapChief Profile, resume, and portfolio are error-free, comprehensive, and up-to-date.
- Read the project description carefully, note down the points that stand out the most, and cite them in your proposal, assignment, and interview.
- Make a checklist before every client interaction; it will ensure that you don’t miss out on anything.
4. Display excellent time management skills
Companies often hire freelance writers when they are looking to scale up their content or marketing efforts. That means you will be expected to take deadlines seriously and manage your time judiciously.
Therefore, start proving to the clients that you have excellent time management skills right from the first interaction. Here’s how you can do that:
- Reply to their emails and messages within one hour of receiving them.
- Instead of explicitly mentioning that you are good at time management, refer to various instances where you have put your time management skills to back it up and even use a client testimonial to back it up.
- Ensure you never create a situation where you have to apologise for the delay. If you promise to complete a task before 6 PM, make sure you deliver it 15 minutes before that.
- Show that your turnaround times are better than industry standards.
5. Accept criticism gracefully
Quality of content is often a very subjective thing. It is tough to impress everyone with a piece of content. You might be pleased with how a particular article turned out, but it is not necessary that the client feels the same.
Keep these points in mind during the initial assessment and interviews, and all through the project:
- Prove that you can disagree well — well-constructed arguments, result-focused, and respectful.
- Don’t lash out at the client or take their feedback personally, ask yourself what you can learn from the situation.
- Pause for a minute and think if there’s anything you can learn from what they’re saying.
- Re-frame the way you take feedback from others, focus on helping your client and growing their business instead of just yourself.
- Plan ‘in-process time,’ time that’s blocked off for reflection to help you avoid reactive behaviour and thought traps like taking things too seriously.
6. Learn to create relatable content
Having amazing vocabulary and excellent knowledge of grammar is excellent. But, what good is that if your clients’ target audience can’t relate to the content. The very purpose of content creation is to evoke a positive response or create brand awareness. But, as you can see from the stat above, a lot of brands find it hard to produce engaging content.
So, you must show to clients that you can put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. You should be familiar with how they think, the problems they face, and their aspirations. Here are a few tips to help you with this:
- Interacting with your target audience should be part of your research routine.
- Make sure your writing style resonates with your target audience.
- Incorporate elements of storytelling to your writing — setting, characters, context, goals, conflicts, and more.
- Always look for fresh, intriguing angles, especially if you are creating content around a popular topic.
7. Adaptable to client’s requirements
No two freelance content writing projects are going to be the same. Some content campaigns are aimed at increasing brand awareness, while others might be more conversion-focused. You can’t approach the two the same way.
Brand tones vary all the time. Hence, communicate to the client that you can learn and adapt quickly to their needs and demands. Here are a few ways you can do it:
- Ask questions about their target audience, objectives, and brand positioning.
- Show clients that you cand handle multiple writing styles. For instance, if your default tone is a formal one, try to develop a quirky/informal one too.
- Make sure you critically read the job description, always.
8. Build a well-rounded portfolio
You may be a great writer in your own right, but if you can’t prove it to your clients, you may not get selected. Most clients will want to see your work samples before they actually hire you.
This is why you must curate and display your work samples in one central location — your portfolio. These days most clients expect you to have a portfolio. The best part is it is effortless to build one. You can use an online portfolio builder to create one or just create a Google Drive folder with links to your work samples.
Tips to keep in mind while building a content writing portfolio:
- Modify your portfolio according to the client you are pitching. For instance, if you are pitching a sports news website, include more sports-related articles.
- Source testimonials from past clients. They are a great way to build trust and credibility. After every successful project, reach out to the client asking for a testimonial.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your client, and make sure it caters to their needs. For instance, showcase your articles instead of merely providing links.
- Only pick the best work-samples. It is always best to showcase 2-3 great ones rather than displaying ten sub-standard ones.
- Always categorise your samples and explain the context of each one. Have a filtering option to make it so easy for clients to find and evaluate samples relevant to them.
9. Demonstrate integrity and professionalism
Due to the short-term nature of the engagement, it is common among clients to be apprehensive about the freelancer’s commitment. If you want to get hired, you must alleviate their doubts.
The best way to overcome this trust deficit is to show that you are an exemplary professional and always works with integrity. Here’s how you can do that:
- Always overcommunicate, right from the initial email exchanges to the interview, and afterwards.
- Clearly explain your terms and conditions, don’t make any changes to it after it was agreed upon.
- Explain that you are very serious about creating original content and assure them that you have no qualms following their plagiarism and confidentiality policies.
- Ensure everything from your resume, pitch templates, portfolio, and project proposals are not plagiarised.
The above list is not a comprehensive one by any means. There may be clients out there who will be on the lookout for skills, qualities, or traits that are not mentioned here. It is up to you to find out precisely what the client wants.
You need to rise above the noise and make sure your application grabs the attention of the client. And then convey that you are the right choice for the freelance content writing project.
You need to go beyond flaunting your experience and work samples. You need to show a clear initiative, strong motivation to succeed, and a great attitude to boot.