What Is Content Marketing?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
-Maya Angelou

Content marketing is an area ripe for well-paying work for freelancers. But what does that mean to you?

What is content marketing?

Companies are finding that customers don’t want to have products and services pushed in their faces. They want to be pulled in and have quality interactions. That’s the goal of content marketing.

Rather than heavily advertising products, most business now have blogs used to inform and educate customers. They tell stories through the content to inspire loyalty. They keep product mentions to a minimum.

For example, a mattress company may have blog posts about sleep and health, quality pillows and the top 5 features to look for in a mattress. A hospital shares information about diseases or procedures. Build-a-Bear talks about play and parenting topics.

What skills does a freelancer need?

Being able to write informative, compelling content and to tell stories is a key component in content marketing. But content marketing also includes videos, infographics, white papers for download and newsletters you can subscribe to.

Consider content marketing if you have some combination of these skills:

  • Copywriting
  • Interviewing
  • Social media marketing
  • Content planning
  • Broad or in-depth SEO knowledge
  • Videos
  • Infographic design
  • Ebook writing
  • Email campaigns
  • Newsletter writing

How do I get started?

Some companies post content through internal marketing departments. However, many of them contract with agencies that contract with freelancers. There are numerous sites that hire writers, photographers and designers to develop marketing content for their clients.

These sites are great for freelancers. They save you the time and effort of seeking out individual clients. Instead, you apply to a content marketing firm, share some samples and choose your niche(s). Once accepted, the firm attracts businesses and either matches you to their clients for ongoing work or posts assignments you can claim in a marketplace.

You can also reach out to individual businesses in your area and pitch writing services. Your chiropractor, nail salon, kickboxing gym, favorite boutique may all be in need of writing services, they just don’t know it yet. Pitch how you can help them by writing blogs or preparing infographics for their website. List your rate or a bartering arrangement.

Pursue multiple angles at once. Reach out to businesses, and apply to more than one site. It takes time to get started and build up consistent work. You may also get rejected. If that happens, take a look at your samples. You can contact me for coaching to learn how to get your portfolio started.

How to Get Started with Article Writing Sites

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
-Robert Benchley

Online article writing sites are great ways for part-time freelancers and parents working from home to grab extra work and stay relevant while handling competing responsibilities. However, you've probably found that not all sites are created equal.

Working for pennies isn’t worth your limited time. Content mills and sites where you bid on jobs such as freelancer.com, odesk, elance, Demand Media and others don’t value the time and expertise writers bring to the table.

How To Get Started

Apply to 2 or 3 sites best suited to your experience and availability. Some are good for certain niches, while others are good for beginners who want to expand their portfolio. You can sign up for sites that look for proofreaders and copyeditors as well. Scripted, contently,  and compose.ly are a good place to start. They take writers in a range of specialties.

The application process can take an hour or more, and then you wait to hear whether you're accepted. Because it can take time to build up and get consistent work through these sites, it's best to apply to more than one.

Keep a list of your best samples or write new ones. When you apply to these sites you have to demonstrate a basic understanding of English. Then, you have to share your work. Some give you a prompt and ask you for original writing, but most want you to share links to published work. Providing links is best. Otherwise, you are providing original work for free.

If you don't have any samples yet, now may be a good time to start a blog. Write posts on topics related to your preferred niches(s) that you can link to in your applications.

Don’t undervalue yourself. You're freelancing because you want extra income or more time at home with your kids. If payment seems to low (I recommend staying above $0.10 per word), don't take it. The exception is if the site seems reputable and you can produce an article quickly. You may be willing to accept a couple low-paying articles to get some samples under your belt, but quickly move on.

Evaluate the level of writer-client interaction. Communication with the final client varies. Some sites list mostly one-off jobs. You write the article, submit it through the site, and you’re done. You never interact with the intended company. Other sites work more like agencies, where you work on a long-term program with one client and an account manager. These are my preferred set-ups, because they tend to value your experience. Sites like skyword work like this. Many are a hybrid.

These sites are just one egg in your basket. You'll also want to pitch articles to individual publications or applly directly to some businesses. Starting any freelance business takes a lot of trial and error to find the best work/life balance for you.

Have you tried any of these sites? Please share your experience and even rates to help others.