The Unusual Business Writing Niche That Pays $500 an Hour

Earn more in this unusual business writing niche. Makealivingwriting.com

My freelance career was off to a dismal start. It was nothing but low-paying gigs, flaky clients, and race-to-the-bottom bidding on content mill sites. Then I discovered an unusual business writing niche that changed everything.

Two small business start-up clients asked me to write content designed to attract investors to help fund their business ideas.

But these entrepreneurs weren’t looking for angel investors with millions of dollars. They were going to get funding in a different way. And they needed someone who could blend copywriting and business writing to ramp up.

It didn’t take long to discover that I liked this unusual business writing niche. Write copy to promote a business idea, help entrepreneurs, and see an idea turn into a physical product or service.

And the pay? It’s been two years since I discovered this unusual business writing niche. It took a little work to understand it, but now I regularly earn $500 per hour.

Curious? I’ve carved out a niche writing crowdfunding campaigns. And so can you. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s a crowdfunding campaign?

For the uninitiated, Kickstarter is one of several popular crowdfunding websites that help companies raise enough funds to create new products or services.

If hundreds of people each pledge a little, the campaign can confirm consumer interest and provide needed funds to make their widget.

Crowdfunding platforms provide an opportunity for market research, as well as a way to presell an offer and produce it using customers’ money instead of company capital.

One of those first Kickstarter campaigns I wrote raised nearly $9,000. And that was just the beginning. I went on to write campaigns that raised seven figures.

I was instantly hooked. For the first time, writing was tied to an outcome I could see. In the short span of two years, I’ve written thousands of crowdfunding campaigns and built a successful career around business writing and consulting in this niche. Here’s what you need to know to break into this niche:

How to find crowdfunding prospects

There’s more than one way to find crowdfunding prospects who need a freelancer to handling their business writing and campaign content. Here are ways I look for clients in this niche: 

Use freelance sites

My first clients were acquired on freelance sites such as Elance (now UpWork), Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour. When I posted gigs for campaign writing, I received orders within hours. You can use these sites to build your initial portfolio. At first, I had to sell with lower rates initially ($50 per campaign) to build my credibility. Then I started charging premium prices.

You may think of Fiverr as the home of $5 gigs, but below is an example of my prices on Fiverr to write crowdfunding campaigns now:

Develop partnerships

Kickstarter campaigns often require an array of freelancers to handle business writing, graphic design, web design, video, and social media. Joining forces with other freelancers can help increase your exposure and lead to more gigs.

Once you refer clients to your freelance partners, you can share notes to ensure a seamless campaign with a unified message. Currently, I work with a voice-over expert who gets many clients in the early phases of a campaign. Before he creates a video for a client, this freelancer often hires me to write the video scripts.

Ask clients referrals

Before completing a crowdfunding campaign for a client, I offer a complimentary press release in exchange for a referral to three of their peers. Then I offer those peers a consultation about crowdfunding. You’ll rarely encounter repeat clients in crowdfunding, so referrals are critical.

Offer free consultations

Busy business owners prefer to speak rather than type. They talk, you listen and process for key points. I offer free, 15-minute consultations to referral clients and indecisive clients.

Business writing tips to please crowdfunding clients

Once you find an interested crowdfunding campaign prospect, you need to turn them into a client. So how do you make the client choose you to write their campaign?

Crowdfunding services are needed within a small window of time. Clients are in the heat of growing their business, and they need funding…yesterday. And you need to be able to jump in and get the business writing done for their crowdfuding campaign done fast.

There’s a high learning curve, and a lot of pressure that goes along with launching a crowdfunding campaign. Here’s how to turn prospects into clients:

Make it quick

Reply to inquiries from prospects in a timely manner to close sales. I use an arsenal of canned replies to answer questions quickly without sacrificing integrity. Unlike other freelance gigs with multiple approvals, budgets, timelines, etc., a crowdfunding client is typically one person or a small team that makes quick decisions.

Make it easy to understand

I’m surprised how many prospects approach me seeking crowdfunding as first-timers with little knowledge of the process. They see it work for other businesses and know they too need funding and then they find you. So you can guide them through the process. If you’re not familiar with crowdfunding campaigns, go to Kickstarter or Indegogo and read through a bunch of campaigns to get familiar with the kind of content that’s required.

Here is a very typical initial inquiry from a client:

Present simple packages

For crowdfunding campaign copy, pricing per word or by the hour isn’t effective. It’s business writing and copywriting combined. Charging by the project or scope of work is a better way to go. I’ve also found that offering packages with a fixed price and explanation what’s included works well. I offer three unique packages based on campaign type and amount of funds needed:

Set your rates

The best way to price your crowdfunding writing is through flat-rate packages. Break down packages by campaign copy, perks, and video script lengths. Once you learn the intricacies of campaign writing, these gigs get easier – and your pay per hour rises dramatically.

In my first few weeks, I wrote a campaign for free, and it was worth it to gain the experience. If you can write one successful campaign that you can share with prospects, it’ll help you gain clients for years to come.

Once you retain a client, you’ll gather their information and write the campaign. I require 100 percent upfront when using an escrow account through a third party. But if I’m invoicing the client directly, I accept 50 upfront, with the remaining half paid when I complete the content (not the conclusion of the campaign).

How to write a crowdfunding campaign

When I landed my first crowdfunding client, I wasn’t totally sure what I needed to write. But I’ve done enough of them now to know most crowdfunding campaigns have three specific elements.

  1. Campaign copy for the body of the text
  2. Video script
  3. “Perk” copy (descriptions of the bonuses funders get at various pledge levels)

Each part is equally important – they should be a cohesive whole, with each section focused on the funders, the people who are ultimately going to put money on the line to support this business idea.

Campaign copy

The copy takes up most of the room on a campaign page, so start with the key elements of your client’s project, followed by their journey to this launch.

Then, highlight exciting details down the page to keep visitors engaged. Use lots of headers, visual components and bullet points to break up text blocks.

Video script

Video scripts should incorporate a personal message from the creator, showcase the project, and flow with the campaign copy.

Videos are usually 2-4 minutes, and my rule is to estimate 150 words per minute. I ask my clients how long they want their video to be and base my word count on their choice in length.  I don’t recommend campaign videos run longer than 5 minutes. The video must appeal to funders’ short attention spans.

Perks

At the heart of any campaign are the perks – the items funders get, depending on how much they pay. Often, they’re an exclusive or limited-edition version of a product or service. Each perk should pack a punch, because characters can be limited, depending on the platform, such as Kickstarter. Get creative on spelling, sentences, and structure to squeeze in the details. See the template for a typical crowdfunding page layout.

What to watch out for

You should never write crowdfunding campaigns on commission or on spec, dependent on whether the campaign brings in the desired amount of funding. Copy is only one component of a successful crowdfunding campaign.

The funding is based on the client’s ability to execute the campaign, and many factors will be out of your control. You may need to explain this to some clients, because they will ask you to write on commission. If you agree to write on spec or commission, you may end up doing a lot of work and not getting paid.

Tap into the crowdfunding campaign niche

Crowdfunding is a niche that provides great variety. One day I’m working with an author and entrepreneur, and the next, a dog trainer or restaurant owner.

Not only are the clients fascinating, but finding a profitable writing niche has also helped me achieve my freelance goals.

I’ve worked remotely from 12 different countries, and helped with crowdfunding campaigns all over the world.

If you’re able to work on tight deadlines, enjoy varied work, and know how to price yourself, this is a niche that can provide a great living. You’ll meet people in one of the most exciting phases of their business, and can play a critical role in their growth.

Got questions about writing crowdfunding campaigns? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

Kendell Rizzo is a freelance crowdfunding campaign writer and fundraising strategist.

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Proposal Writing: How an Unexpected Freelance Gig Paid $12,000

The lucrative land of proposal writing. Makealivingwriting.com

When I got a random phone call from a prospect about a proposal writing gig, I was curious.

“I need help writing an RFP [request for proposal] for a multi-year, multi-million dollar cyber security contract for a government agency,” the person said. “The deadline is in 30 days. Can you help me?”

You can make a lot of money doing this kind of work, right? That’s what I thought. But I had my doubts.

Months before this unexpected phone call, I did a lot of leg work to try and land proposal writing gigs and government contract work. And nothing happened.

I navigated clunky government websites and studied the jargon. I registered my writing business on sites like the System for Award Management and FedBizOpps where you can find contracts. I tried to land big contracts, then smaller ones without success.

It seemed like a lost cause. And then this prospect found me on one of those government sites for contractors.

I bid $12,000 for the work, and the client accepted. Here’s what the proposal writing process looked like:

Proposal writing basics

When a business or government agency needs goods or services, they often send out an RFP [request for proposal] to an approved list of vendors (writing is a service, you can be a vendor.) It’s why I spent so much time getting listed on those government contracting sites.

What is an RFP? It’s a document that describes in great detail what an organization needs and wants to purchase. For example: a website redesign, a remodel project, chairs and desks, computers, or in this case cybersecurity services. These are some common RFP requests.

Why an RFP? The primary reason businesses and government agencies use RFPs is to collect competitive bids for goods or services.

What’s in an RFP? A lot of writing. Besides quoting a price, RFPs also have to make a compelling case to help the contractor win the project and may require information such as:

  • Corporate history and information
  • Financial reports
  • Technical capabilities
  • Inventory availability
  • Case studies of similar projects
  • Customer service/support
  • Education, background, and experience of employees
  • Ability to meet project deadline
  • Warranty information

Fee factors for proposal writing

There wasn’t any time to waste when my prospect called. I was thrilled to learn the company had already won millions of dollars in contracts, and that my forgotten government profiles are still floating around out there, and still categorize me as a writer. I quoted $12,000 and the client accepted. There was no negotiation process.

Why such a high fee? It was a lot of work to complete this RFP and meet the deadline (4,000-plus words for eight pieces of the proposal, writing and editing a lot of technical content, and of course the drop-everything short time frame) The factors I considered were:

  • Level of effort: Took two writers, one editor to get the job done
  • Knowledge required: Government proposals for the cybersecurity industry
  • Time frame: Had to rearrange my schedule to accommodate the job on short notice. We had a couple of rounds of edits to tighten up the drafts. Some of the revisions were required in less than 24 hours, and the price reflected that deadlines were non-negotiable.

Steps to success

I knew that this job might segue to a great relationship with a new client that might offer future corporate writing opportunities at great rates. I had one shot, on a tight schedule, to provide outstanding service. Here’s what made the job a success:

Experience
The help this client needed was right in line with my past experience.

Teamwork
I maintain a wide network of writers and often collaborate, and so should you. Bigger opportunities depend on it. I reached out to a writer I met a couple of years ago in the Freelance Writers Den. I also enlisted my longtime editor, who has a strong government background.

Dependability
The three of us completed eight pieces of work for the RFP that the client was very happy with. And of course we met the deadline.

Value
The price I quoted reflected the expected effort and our expertise, but also the rather intense schedule shuffling we’d have to do to accommodate a very short timeline with virtually no advance notice.

If you want to land proposal writing gigs…

Get your name out there. Sign up on your neighborhood small business directory. Join professional organizations. Sign up on sam.gov and fbo.gov. Beef up your online professional presence on your website, LinkedIn, etc., to be more visible and generate inbound leads.

Get it done. When opportunity presents itself, be 110 percent reliable. Answer the phone. Return emails. Pay attention. Read the materials your client sends to you. Put the effort in to do a great job.

Be fair. Don’t shortchange yourself. If a potential client asks you to do a rush job, let your price reflect that. At the same time, don’t take advantage. Remember, the end goal is to land a great client that you can work with for a long time.

When this proposal writing assignment was complete, the client immediately asked if we were available to help on the next one. That is all the assurance I need to know that the job went well.

Have questions about proposal writing? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Kimberly Rotter is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor based in San Diego, Calif., who doesn’t watch TV. She also runs the website An Army of Writers.

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Business Writers: Did You Destroy Your Craft and ‘Sell Out’?

Business Writers: Did You Destroy Your Craft and 'Sell Out'?. Makealivingwriting.com

There are a lot of opinions out there about what freelance writers do. One of the big ones I’ve heard lately is that business writers are selling their soul and writing crap just to fill their bank accounts.

In other words, we’re not ‘real writers’ like novelists. Business writers are just paid copywriting hacks.

Writing for businesses also ruins our writing chops for any ‘meaningful’ personal writing we aspire to, such as poetry, essays, or novel writing.

I used to think like this. For many years, I was a reporter who thought advertising writers were part of the Dark Side of the Force.

By contrast, I was finding facts, revealing truths, enlightening readers with vital news and information they needed. Good stuff!

Then I happened into my first business writing gig, ghosting blog posts for a startup’s CEO, and decided to give it a try. Suddenly, I remembered how my first career as a songwriter went wrong, all because of a similar misconception I had about ‘selling out.’

Here’s what happened…

The 3 roads to writing success

When I was an aspiring singer/songwriter, back in the ’80s, there were basically three ways to pursue this career.

  1. Starve while you live in a garret above a shop and write songs.
  2. Work a day job and play your own songs with your band at night.
  3. ‘Pay your dues’ by playing Top 40 in bars multiple nights each week. Play with your band on the other nights.

I opted for path #2, working as a legal secretary at MGM during the day and practicing and playing my own songs at night.

Playing Top 40 crap all night? Puh-lease! That was definitely not for me.

My songs were brilliant and important compared with that garbage, and I wasn’t going to sully my pure little artiste fingers playing it. I was hot to skip the dues-paying phase and go straight to super-stardom.

What happened?

  • I didn’t get to perform much. Getting a booking wasn’t easy.
  • As a result, I didn’t improve rapidly.
  • I got older — old enough to tire of hanging around smoky bars ’til 2 a.m.
  • I won an essay contest and decided to go into another kind of writing.

Boom! End of rockstar dreams.

How to become a great writer

As the years rolled on, while I loved being a journalist, a little part of me was still sad that I hadn’t become an acclaimed songwriter.

I realized that if I’d been willing to ‘sell out’ and play Top 40 in bars, I would have gotten hundreds of additional hours of performing practice. That no doubt would have improved my performance confidence and my stage presence. My keyboard playing and sense of songwriting craft both would have improved exponentially.

Probably, all that work would have inspired lots of new songs, too. Playing Top 40 is a chance to study what makes a hit song, so those songs might well have been better than my early ones. (See also: Piano Man by Billy Joel, about his days grinding out piano-bar requests. Hmm…that sort of launched his whole career.)

I had refused to sell out. Victory! I was a pure artist. I was also an unsuccessful one.

Building muscles allows for heavy lifting

What had I missed with my ‘I won’t sell out’ attitude?

Just this: Writing improves your writing.

Over time, I learned how many truly great writers (business writers, copywriters, journalists, novelists, and others) had taken writing ‘day jobs’ and come out the better for it.

From Salman Rushdie’s stint writing copy for Ogilvy & Mather (other copywriting alums include Don DeLillo and Joseph Heller), to the time Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway spent as newspaper reporters, great writers seek out opportunities to write a lot. They write tons, and they learn.

Why business writers learn faster

Clearly, writing copy doesn’t ruin your fiction writing or turn the brains of business writers into mush. It gives you a lot of experience with crafting prose that holds peoples’ attention and moving their emotions in your desired direction.

This is a transferable skill.

Taking on the challenge of meeting a client’s writing needs makes you stretch, and grow. Yes, it’s not your novel — but it can be fascinating, challenging, and fun.

It’s an entirely honorable way to feed your family while you sharpen your writing chops.

Busting the myth of the sellout

Despite all the great examples of writers who earned fame and success for their novels later, the myth persists that doing other, more ‘commercial’ kinds of writing will ruin you for fiction.

I can only shake my head when I see comments like this one, which I recently got on my Facebook page:

Are business writers sellouts? Discussion on Make a Living Writing

I’d bet there are far fewer successful writers with the attitude you see above — who only focus on making themselves happy and won’t ‘sell out’ — then there are successful business writers, copywriters, and freelancers who seize any opportunity to write for a living. (And of course, you can’t help but notice all the grammar errors.)

Every assignment is a chance to flex those writing muscles and learn.

Here’s the thing about being a successful novelist — it’s not usually about expressing your opinion. It’s about serving a reader.

So is copywriting. So is newspaper reporting.

If I had it to do over again, I’d be belting out Heart, Madonna, and Whitney Houston songs, night after night, until I figured out how to win at the songwriting game.

Instead of spinning your wheels, if you feel like you’re getting nowhere with your writing career, try finding a client you can write for. Your payoff won’t just come in dollars, but in improved writing skills.

Are you a business writer? Let’s discuss the ‘sellout’ issue in the comments.

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Freelance Writing Forecast: Ride These Epic Trends in 2017

Writers: Ride These Epic Trends in 2017. Makealivingwriting.comLast year, I got out my crystal ball and created a freelance writing forecast that identified 12 hot writing niches for the past year. (You can check and see how I did.)

That post was one of the most useful posts of the year, judging from the traffic it got, so I’ve decided to do a new forecast for 2017.

But this time, rather than good-paying types of writing, I’m calling out the hot trends you should know about to earn well in the coming year.

How you take advantage of these trends and freelance writing forecast will depend on the kinds of writing you like to do and types of clients you serve. These are top-level trends that will affect all of us, whether you’re into blogging, magazine writing, or copywriting.

I’ve included action items that explain how to take advantage of each of these trends in the coming year.

The freelance writing forecast looks bright

The short version: I’ve never been more excited about the opportunities for freelance writers than I am right now.

Ready? Let’s look at the seven biggest trends coming down the pike:

 

1. Massive change

Whether you personally find Donald Trump terrifying or are excited to see him take office, one thing’s for sure — he has vowed to shake things up.

And I think it’s going to create writing opportunities that are, well, huge.

How will a new president impact the freelance writing forecast? It means every single business sector needs analysis, and they need it now. How will new policies affect their industry? Will these pronouncements really happen, or not? Businesses will be scrambling to reposition for success in the coming 4 years, along with progressive causes such as environmental preservation.

Once organizations figure out their angle, companies will need new RFPs and position papers, and nonprofits may plan different initiatives. The playbook is getting ripped up — and that means lots of fresh writing needs to happen.

Action items: Start building your rolodex of economic and business experts, particular for business or nonprofit sectors you specialize in, and you’ll be in the sweet spot when companies need help, or trade publications are desperate for stories. Read widely, so you know what’s already been said, and ask yourself what will happen next — then, pitch a story on it. If you write about or for government agencies, this could be an absolute bonanza.

Change is the essence of news — and there should be a gusher of it in 2017. Change = opportunity. Be ready to capitalize on it!

Not all of us are happy to see these changes come, but there’s no question that documenting and explaining the impact of those changes is going to be big business for writers.

2. The death of junk content

I’ve been wishing and hoping and predicting this one for years, and now it’s finally here. Google has killed the value of SEO-keyword-stuffed, low-value, 300-word content. The world of $5-$10 crappy blog post assignments is dying fast.

The final nail in this coffin? Automation has reached the point where short posts can be written by robot software, with an increasing degree of competence.

I get emails daily from writers asking me what to do next, now that junk content is dead. The answer is: Go after better gigs! My freelance writing forecast suggests that soon, more complex assignments will be all there is.

This trend is great news for talented writers, because the low end of the market is disappearing! All those $5 blog-post offers definitely had a negative effect on blogging rates overall. I believe we’ll have less work to do educating clients about professional rates in 2017.

Action items: Stop grubbing after low-paid blogging work. This is a fading ‘opportunity,’ anyway. Think of $100 as a floor for writing an under-1,000-word blog post — and get an ongoing retainer for a minimum of 60-90 days’ work. Think about how you can position yourself to get better-paid, better-quality gigs.

More and more businesses will stop wasting their marketing dollars on cheap, low-value content in 2017. Instead, they’ll focus more on riding the next trend in my lineup…

3. The rise of ‘Authority’ content marketing

Expect more businesses in 2017 to ‘get’ that the point of blogging is to build their authority, make them stand out from competitors, and deepen ties to customers. They need pro writers to create high-value, longform posts for that — hence the rise of $400 blog-post assignments.

In an effort to please Google — and due to the growing competitiveness of the blogging space — the pendulum has swung to extremely high-quality, longer blog posts of 1,500 words and up. I think it’ll be a long time before robots can write these — and that’s the big opportunity for freelance writers.

I am ecstatic to see blog posts finally get the credit they deserve for building businesses, and to see rates reflect the value of high-quality content to grow sales. This trend will only grow in 2017, as competition for top-notch blog ghostwriters intensifies.

Let’s face it — a 1,500-word blog post takes as much work as a 1,500-word article! These two forms of writing are increasingly converging. So don’t be shy about asking for a rate that truly compensates you for time spent creating authority posts.

Of course, the ultimate authority-building content is a book or e-book. And every company that hires a marketing consultant is being told their CEO needs a book. This is a vast authority-building opportunity for writers to snag projects at $20,000-$50,000 a pop. (Stay tuned in the coming weeks for news from me on an opportunity to learn and get into this mega-lucrative niche!)

Action items: See what you can do to get great longform samples to show clients. Write a long post on your own blog, if need be! Better than that is to guest post on high-visibility sites your prospective clients tend to read. If you’re interested in book ghostwriting, start cultivating clients you could upsell, or consider writing a book yourself, that you could use as a sample of your longform work.

Guest posting on top sites is going to be more important than ever in 2017, because of the next trend:

4. Inbound marketing

At this point, the great writing assignments find you. You don’t find them.

And how do they find you? Increasingly, through your online presence, especially, your presence on high-traffic websites.

Outbound marketing is great for building your business, initially. I’m certainly not here to discourage anyone from pitching a magazine or company they’d love to write for! Go for it.

But… if you play this right, the freelance writing forecast for the foreseeable future suggests that once you’ve got a portfolio and built your inbound marketing machine, the good leads should come to you, through your inbound tools.

I’m talking your writer website and LinkedIn profile, most importantly, though in some situations (especially for young writers targeting Millennial brands) it might be your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or another channel.

At this point, great companies and magazines with big, fat assignments don’t put out job ads. Instead, they’re trolling online, checking out writers’ portfolios and their online visibility. Then, they reach out to writers whose writing style and online track record are a fit for their project.

I’ve gotten all my gigs this way for years now, and hear from more and more writers who report the same.

Example: I was poached from my Entrepreneur blog to write for Forbes. I was hired by a mergers and acquisitions company off my Forbes blog for what’s been about $10,000 of business-plan and other marketing projects, to date. Alaska Airlines and Costco are just two of the major companies that hired me after seeing my LinkedIn profile.

Action items: Build up your online presence! Getting inbound leads is what makes being a freelancer truly the dream lifestyle. If you don’t have a writer website, now’s the time to get one (if you need help, got a couple recommendations on this page).  Improve your LinkedIn profile, and make sure your tagline has keywords for helping you get found there.

While we’re talking online presence, there’s another big freelance writing forecast trend to get on top of:

5. Social media matters

I hear from a lot of older writers who loathe social media. Don’t wanna be on it. Don’t wanna learn about it. OK, then — write query letters to pitch magazines and enjoy.

But here’s the thing: A ton of the freelance writing opportunity these days is online. And the goal of much online content development is to get a lot of social sharing.

One of the big things prospects are increasingly looking at when they’re considering who to hire is how active the writer is in social media — and how effective in getting people sharing, chatting, and clicking on links.

I can tell you, my clients are often hoping I’ll share what I write for them with my own 15,000+ Twitter followers. That interest in your social-media skills and reach is only going to grow.

That means learning how social-media platforms work, and building a presence of your own on them.

Action items: Pick a social channel to be active (or more active) on, and get rolling. No, it’s not too late. Yes, you can learn this. Pick a few social-media blogs to follow, and find out how to make social media work for you. Don’t forget to have fun! Social media is a playful place.

6. Online magazines

More and more magazines are either developing exclusive content for their online readers, or stopping the presses and becoming online-only publications, as Rogers Media did with four of their publications in 2016.

Remember what I just said about social media? Well, when print mags move online, they care about traffic and social shares, just like blogs. The growth of digital magazines is another reason to build your online presence, so you’re well-positioned for the growing online-article opportunity.

As publishing (and ad revenue) move online, more article-writing opportunity is digital. Don’t miss out!

This coming year may well mark the tipping point where the cachet of a byline in a great online magazine equals that of appearing in a quality print mag. Did you know there are Digital Magazine Awards? Take a look at some of the fantastic, beautifully designed winning entries. Get over any lingering print snobbery you’ve got lurking around, and I think you’ll earn more.

At this point, I’ve earned far more money writing for digital editions than I ever did writing freelance articles for print. Great storytelling will live on, online. Expect online rates for fully reported stories to continue to rise.

Action items: Research online magazines, and opportunities for online-exclusive articles with print magazine sites — and pitch them! If you have a niche hobby, I can tell you there’s a booming business in online magazines about everything from karate to crochet. If you’ve been trying to crack a big-name print magazine, getting into their online stable can be a great way to connect with those editors.

7. Multimedia

The rise of digital has also meant an explosion in video selling, charticles, slideshows, infographics and other visuals. You may think that’s a problem for writers, but it’s not.

All of these formats still need a writer. There’s good money in video scripts and writing video sales letters, creating ‘show notes’ from podcasts, editing transcripts, and more. As we continue to move from broadcasting to narrowcasting, the number of possible clients is exploding.

Example: The best traffic I ever got in three years posting for Forbes came from slideshows. Since I was paid partly on traffic, these were a big factor in the nearly $2,000 a month I earned. Don’t turn up your nose at writing clever, longish photo-captions! It’s actually fun.

There’s real money in image-driven writing — and these projects can give a big-time boost to your online presence.

Action items: Get visual! Think about where you connect with these types of writing. Learn more about what companies want from a writer in these formats. Create some samples, find a pro bono client or two, and then go for it.

Rates will rise — there, I said it

My biggest prediction for the 2017 freelance writing forecast is simply this: The marketplace is getting more competitive. That means rates have got to go up, as companies try to attract top talent.

They’ve already gone up, as with the appearance of $400 blog-post assignments. We’ll see more gigs at higher rates in 2017.

The tables have turned from 2009, when there were many desperate writers, few full-time jobs in a down economy, and less online marketing. Now, companies are competing in a strong economy to get the best writers — the ones who can help them stand out in what is now a raging din of online marketing noise.

The best online writers are increasingly quite expensive — if you can even get them. I often ask around my network of business writers to refer clients who want to hire me…and often, all the other writers I ask are booked up, too.

The other factor driving rising rates: Writers have simply gotten smarter. My sense is there are fewer suckers willing to work for peanuts. Unemployment is low in the U.S. What’s left on the playing field are mostly serious pros who want real pay.

The authority trend is skyrocketing demand for great writing that gets engagement and drives sales. In 2017, even more clients will have to pay professional rates to get sophisticated, writers with a proven track record of driving online engagement.

Action items: There’s never been a better year to aim high. Whatever size client you’ve been pitching, add a zero to your revenue target and move up (i.e. target $10 million revenue prospects instead of $1 million, or $100 million instead of $10 million). Ask for a raise, or raise your rates for new clients. Make the case that what you do helps that business earn more, and is worth real money.

Position yourself to work with bigger companies and publications that can pay better. Raise your online visibility. Great prospects are going to be out there, looking to hire a great, savvy writer. Will it be you? Take a closer look at the freelance writing forecast and decide where to focus your efforts in 2017 to move up and earn more.

Need help busting your fears, so you can take advantage of 2017’s opportunities? Join me and Linda Formichelli for Write Big in January, and get coaching and support:

 

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