A six-figure freelancer on how to optimize your website for content marketing success with simple tweaks that land more work and better pay.
Are you ignoring the potential of your writing website? If you are, your content marketing success is at stake.
For most freelance writers, their website is a secondary thought, something that acts as a showcase of their work. It’s for when clients want to see it, but not a money-making client-pulling magnet.
Yet I can tell you from experience that no matter the meager amount of traffic you get, if you spend about an hour or two making some very simple tweaks you’ll find your client list and income increasing, guaranteed.
If you don’t have a website at all yet, go read this pronto and then come back here so we can optimize it for content marketing success.
If you do have a website and would like greater content marketing success while reducing the time spent marketing, here are six simple tweaks.
You’ll be overbooked before you know it.
Tweak #1: Highlight your areas of expertise
(Time taken: 10-15 minutes)
One of the things you’ll hear me say repeatedly both on this website and in The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing is that you need to specialize. Content marketing success is about optimizing a niche. One of the easiest ways to do this is with your website.
We’ve talked about how specializing can actually bring you more work and enable you to do it in less time (are you the neurologist or the general practitioner?), so don’t worry about losing clients and don’t make the mistake of having your website be too generic. Make it clear what topics interest you and where you have experience. More than anything, that will help you stand out and land the top assignments in your chosen specialty.
Tweak #2: Showcase your content marketing experience
(Time taken: 5 minutes)
We’re all journalists here (well, most of us, anyway), so we’ll be talking about ethics and discomfort a lot. If you haven’t already, first go read this article in which I talk about the ethical minefields you’ll need to avoid as a journalist who moonlights as a content marketing writer.
Done? Now you have a decision to make. You’re either going to keep feeling uncomfortable with content marketing and will not do it at all (which is fine) or you’re going to learn everything you can about toeing the ethical line, become comfortable with it, and then proceed without feeling the need to hide anything.
And this includes on your website.
Every time a journalist (yours truly included) is told to include content marketing clips on their website, they balk. If that’s you, you need to understand that you can’t reasonably expect content marketing success if you try and hide the fact that you do content marketing work. That would be silly, right? Yet, so many journalists I know try to cover up the fact, like it’s a dirty little secret. If it’s a dirty little secret, you either have mindset issues or you’re crossing ethical boundaries. Go fix that problem, then invest five minutes updating your about page and homepage with mentions of some content marketing experience.
If your specialties in content marketing and journalism are polar opposites of the other and you have clearly demarcated work and clients, consider having a separate website for content marketing. That’s overkill for most writers I know, but it will help you streamline your clients if you find that most of your work comes through Google searches or recommendations.
Tweak #3: Tighten up your niches with keywords
(Time taken: 5 minutes)
Niche down your niches! Are you a technology writer? That’s not specific enough. Tell your potential clients what kind of technology you specialize in. Finance? Is that personal finance, the stock market, or start-up capital? Maybe it’s all three. That’s great. Mention it. Be specific. Not only does niching down, so to speak, help potential clients understand what assignments you’re going to be truly good at, it’s also going to really help you with optimizing your website for specific keywords that clients might be plugging into Google to search for the right freelancers.
For instance, an agency client of mine pegged me as an international development writer and left it at that. Soon after, I was hired to work on a project on agriculture in the developing world. Another editor must have added “agriculture” as my specialty because suddenly I’m getting tons of agriculture-related projects for clients that are both US-based and elsewhere.
Content marketing success is about being really specific.
Tweak #4: Mention the brands you’ve written for
(Time taken: 5 minutes)
Again, if you have a content marketing page (or an entirely separate website) don’t forget to mention which brands you’ve created content for, be it small-scale businesses, non-government organizations, multinational corporations or even governments. If you’ve got a wide variety of clients in your resume, this can actually help you because it shows that you understand the content needs of both big and small businesses and have the ability to customize based on need and not only subject.
Tweak #5: Add clips that showcase previous content marketing success
(Time taken: 10-15 minutes)
Like with everything else, this is a super easy step if you have content marketing clips. Just add them to your portfolio. I’d organize them by category but many people do organize it into a separate “content marketing” header. If you don’t have content marketing clips yet, take note of whether you’ve ever done guest blogging for a big recognizable website or sold anything through your own blog. You may have content marketing experience and not even know it!
Tweak #6: Optimize your website for relevant keywords
(Time taken: 15-60 minutes depending on experience)
Search Engine Optimization isn’t the sexy stuff freelancers get into writing or journalism for, but it can be the essential bit that keeps the business ticking. Like with accounting, marketing and other less pleasurable aspects of your business, SEO is increasingly the key to being found by clients in areas of your expertise. Sure, you’ll be marketing your ass off (and in my book, I guide you through every step of how to do so effectively), but making sure your website is optimized and primed for success is a very simple and effective way to generate a lot of revenue with no additional work. Who doesn’t like that?
So, those are just some of the basic things you can do to ensure content marketing success. In The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing, we’ll go a whole lot deeper so that your website can become a sales tool for you, bringing in the clients and work while you focus on the writing.
How to Pitch: Pitching guidelines for 200+ publications
We know that finding markets to pitch your story ideas, understanding what they’re looking for, and making sure they pay an amount you’re comfortable with can be the most time-consuming and frustrating part of the job. So we’ve tried to make it easier for you.
Here’s a list of publications, organized by subject and with a note of their pay rates, each with a link to their guidelines.
Natasha Khullar Relph
Publisher, The Wordling
Natasha Khullar Relph is an award-winning journalist and author with bylines in The New York Times, TIME CNN, BBC, ABC News, Ms. Marie Claire, Vogue, and more.
She is the publisher of The Wordling, a weekly business newsletter for journalists, authors, and content creators.
Natasha has mentored over 1,000 writers, helping them break into dream publications and build six-figure careers. She is the author of Shut Up and Write: The No-Nonsense, No B.S. Guide to Getting Words on the Page and several other books.
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