In the early days of my career, I managed a pool of freelancers and assigned content writing projects to them whenever a client of mine pulled through.
Being in charge of sales for the department, I had the liberty to set rates for clients and writers– or at least, I expected to. The reality was quite different.
For starters, I was expected to maintain a 50% profit margin at all time. I was also expected to quote prices that the client thought were decent. And whenever I was asked to drop client prices because they were a friend of the company or a senior colleague's acquaintance, I had to do it at the cost of my writers– because I had to maintain that profit margin.
Being a freelance content writer myself, this put me in a ridiculously tight spot. I knew many freelance content writers in my team deserved to be paid higher than they were. I tried to beat my boss down at every meeting, tried to convince him to stop offering absurdly discounted rates to clients because my writers were suffering. In the end, I was almost always the one to be beaten down.
It would've been great if this was just at the content writing company I was working for. But it isn't.
There are plenty of companies out there who are on the prowl for innocent rookie writers looking to start earning money. And when they jump in, they never come out. And if they come out, they have nothing to show for it.
Freelance blog writers and freelance marketing writers, take it from a former rookie content writer– don't sign up for the first content writing agency you see. Better still, pick and choose your own clients and make sure you can talk to them personally.
If you think you're not ready for that leap, or you want to test out a few content writing companies for yourself, I'd like to offer you some advice:
If they don't tell you who the client is, don't do it
It only means they want you for your words, not for your talent, or skill, or ambition. If they can't trust you enough to disclose their client's name, they won't trust you at all. They might suggest that the client wanted confidentiality, but when it comes to great content writing, the rule of thumb is to know your customer. And if you don't even know their name, how are you truly contributing?
There's a fine line between average content writers and shining stars in the content industry. To cross that line, you have to show your client you care by asking all the right questions. Even if you're the third party in the equation and have to deal with a content manager or editor.
That doesn't mean you go around asking people 'how do you like your eggs in the morning?' It's more about trying to understand their goals and values and how your writing can help them achieve that benchmark.
This entails respecting deadlines, sending in your best effort and taking your work seriously. Content isn't all fun and games, its the backbone of entire businesses. If you're having to deal with a content manager, understand their position and try to be as helpful as you can. There are chances the size of Jupiter x 10 that they'll come back to you with better work, a glowing recommendation or higher pay.
And that's all you need to start collecting your own little kitty of clients, for now. It's an uphill climb, but it will be worth it.
How did you go about finding your first content writing client? Let me know in the comments or through an email!