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Making Money As a Corporate Freelancer
By Shirley Kawa-Jump
This article originally appeared in The Rock
One of the fastest-growing and most-lucrative areas for writing is corporate writing. If you have some understanding of marketing, a flair for words and an ability to meet short deadlines, this is a great area to consider. Many freelance article writers divide their time between articles and corporate writing because they’ve realized that corporate freelancing provides the closest thing to a traditional, steady paycheck. I’ve been doing corporate writing as a major component of my business for nearly 5 years now and have built up a strong clientele base. This gives me continual income and allows me to be home with my two children.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Get educated: Before you start looking for work, be sure you understand the terms of the marketing and advertising world. Get Bob Bly’s book or any of the books in the Guerrilla Marketing series. Both present the information in easy-to-understand terms. You should know the difference between a white paper and a press release, understand the basics of brochure layout and be familiar with terms like target audience, market analysis and top-of-mind awareness.
Find clients: If you have some writing credentials already, then you can approach the local marketing and advertising agencies first. Find out if they use freelancers and try to arrange a meeting. Be forewarned — most agencies work on tight deadlines and need turnaround of copy in a day or two. If you don’t have any experience yet, then call non-profits or small businesses and offer to do some pro bono work to build up your portfolio. Once you have some work under your belt, you can start approaching small to medium-sized businesses and subcontract to them.
Also consider approaching local writer groups to find published authors who need a publicist to write and send out press releases or review kits. Keep an eye out for small businesses that don’t seem to be doing any self-promoting (read the business section of the paper every day and you’ll see the regulars, who announce everything down to a new stapler and those who never do any publicity). Try to pick companies that have something coming up — an anniversary, an expansion — anything they might want to announce and then approach them about doing a press release, direct mail letter or flyer.
Do it all: The key, financially and convenience-wise, is to offer ‘turn-key’ service. This means you handle everything. As a publicist, this would include the distribution of press releases. In most cases, its easiest and most efficient to use online wire services, either BusinessWire or PR Newswire (both have websites). These are distribution services that hit all the local and trade media for you. It’s about $100 to join and $90 to send a 400-word release to local and trade pubs in one state. If you have a client who does a lot of releases, this is the best option overall.
With marketing materials, turn-key service means you work with the graphic designer and the print shop to coordinate the design and finishing details. Note that you don’t have to do the graphic design yourself — you can partner with a designer and make money on the hours you spend coordinating.
Promote your business: Don’t forget to send out press releases on your business. Do up a flyer and send it out to the small businesses in your area. Make sure your business cards talk about your copywriting work. Join business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and network. Keep reading about the industry, attend meetings of marketing communicator groups, and try to stay ahead of trends so you can bring the best and greatest service to your clients.
Corporate freelancing is a broad area that can encompass a wide variety of writing needs. I have done everything from letters of recommendation for CEOs who didn’t like to write, to scripts for audio visual presentations. Although I do have meetings about three times a week, the majority of my time is spent at home, working around my kids and their schedules. It’s a flexible and lucrative job that virtually anyone with a flair for writing and creativity, plus a basic understanding of marketing and business, can do.
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