Make the leap from journalism to content marketing and start earning average rates of $1 a word and up.
The leap from journalism to content marketing is an obvious one.
Think about it—both use the same storytelling and research skills, both kinds of work require you to become an expert on the topic very quickly, and both require delivering value (entertainment and education) to the reader.
For this reason, journalists are highly in demand in the content marketing industry. We possess the unique skills that are required to tackle an issue, tell a story, or take a controversial stand. Not to mention deliver information in an entertaining and engaging manner.
If you’re a freelance journalist looking to supplement your income (and there’s certainly a lot of money to be made in content marketing, with average rates easily hovering around the $1-a-word mark), content marketing is a fantastic industry to dip your toes into—or go all in!
Here’s how you can make the leap from journalism to content marketing in seven simple steps.
Step 1: Learn about content marketing
Before you do anything—update the website or send out that first letter of introduction—make it a point to learn about content marketing. Exactly what you’re doing here. Take it a step further, though. Don’t just learn about what content marketing is from a writer’s point of view. Learn why a business would need content marketing and what roles writers and journalists can play.
Why are journalists so in demand for content marketing work? What kind of storytelling is required? What makes businesses hire certain writers over others?
When you look at the subject from the business point of view, you’ll be much better equipped to write in ways that fulfill the needs of your client.
So, learn. Go through this series. Read my book The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing. And start getting into the head of your client. (In my book, I streamline all the information for you, of course.)
Step 2: Pick a niche
In the next article in this series, I’ll talk about why you need to pick a specialty when transitioning from journalism to content marketing. You’ll find several ways to develop niches that interest you. This is one of the most important things you’ll do as a content marketing writer, so don’t miss this crucial step.
Step 3: Update your portfolio
If you’re moving from journalism to content marketing, you need to get noticed by a new set of clients. That means putting up your clips on websites such as Contently, eByline, or Skyword, all of which are great starting points for getting a few content marketing clients.
You’ll move beyond them at some point and start building your client list directly, but they’re fantastic as a first step into the market. The pay for most projects isn’t bad either.
Step 4: Be aware of conflicts of interest
If you’re a journalist, or aspire to be, you’ll need to navigate a few additional minefields. Content marketing doesn’t put up many ethical issues for people who like to think of themselves as pens for hire and will write anything, for anyone, as long as it pays.
If you’re reporting stories for news media, however, you’ll need to be mindful of any ethical or conflict of interest issues that may come up. Here are some ethical issues you’ll need to watch out for as a journalist who also wants content marketing clients.
Step 5: Update your website
In this article, I discuss six tweaks that will set your website up for content marketing success. Needless to say, you’ll want to make some updates to reflect your newfound interest in content marketing and the desire to get more of it.
Step 6: Start marketing to agencies
In addition to creating portfolios on websites such as Contently, this is now the point at which you’ll start targeting agencies you know have content marketing clients. (I will teach you how to find them and write an effective letter of introduction in The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing). This is your first step towards finding your own clients and getting a bigger share of the pie.
Some people will send hundreds of letters of introduction and while I’m definitely a fan of numbers, why work harder than you need to? I teach my students how to write a Letter of Introduction so perfect, you get the biggest bang for your marketing buck. That is, fewer letters of introduction sent for more regular clients. With content marketing, it’s all about the regular clients.
Step 7: Find clients directly
This is the last step of the process. It’s what makes you a serious content marketing writer, cuts out all the middlemen, and leaves you with a sizeable chunk of the profit. Higher pay, better assignments, and a lot more control over your work.
Sounds good, right? If you’re interested in content marketing writing, this is the level you want to reach—quickly—to start earning those $300-400 hour gigs that others, including me, are talking about.
That’s right. $300-400 an hour. There’s good money to be made in content marketing if you can find the right clients and the right projects.
In my book, The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing, I show you how.
Natasha Khullar Relph
Founder and Editor, 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 founder 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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