Recently I busted the myth that Web writers don't get paid as much as print writers. Today let's tackle another one -- the issue of freelance writing rates between Web content writers and business writers (like me) who happen to focus on writing for the Web.
Often when I or other business writers talk about earning more money as a freelance writer, people comment with things like:
"But you're a business writer, so of course you earn more. I want to be a Web content writer, or blogger, or 'article writer,' or whatever."
Yeah? What's your point?
Here's the thing. If you think you can't earn as much as "business writers" you're fooling yourself. Guess what a lot of those business writers are doing? They're writing for company blogs. They're writing niche SEO content to promote a company in search engines. They're pitching feature ideas to magazines just like you would if you wanted to write for magazines yourself. They're ghostwriting feature articles picked up in magazines and major industry websites (I even covered this kind of work before here). They writing... you guessed it... content!
Misconceptions About Business Writing
Business writing is often confused with copywriting -- more specifically with writing sales copy. Is copywriting a part of business writing? Absolutely. But it's one type of business writing -- not the whole specialty area. When you work as a business writer, you have to be able to adapt to different types of writing that benefit your clients' business.
The bulk of my business writing work used to be press releases, because I ran an online PR firm and my full-time writing work kicked off by bringing along most of my former PR clients. But now the vast majority of my freelance writing work as a business writer is actually blogging.
Sometimes I'm asked to help launch a new blog -- coming up with the branding / domain name, choosing the categories, and creating the content. Other times I'm there to serve as a spokesperson for the company (usually ghostwriting short news posts to keep their customers updated about what's going on with the company). Sometimes they have me respond to reader comments, and sometimes they prefer to have regular staff do that once the posts are written. Sometimes if I blog for them I also tweet for them.
Sometimes I write beginner-level content that takes 20-30 minutes to write (introductory articles to business or finance-related topics). And sometimes I'm even hired just to write up my opinion on industry issues in my specialty areas. Why? Because those opinions ignite conversations, build organic incoming links, and get resulting organic traffic -- all things being done with a business purpose, and all falling under the umbrella of "business writing." (And let me tell you, that's an awesome job to have.)
It's All About Your Hourly
Do I charge less for this kind of writing than I do for writing press releases, pitch letters, newsletters, email marketing copy, or Web copy? No. Not really. I know how long an average project will take me in each category of services I offer, and I set my rates based on a set hourly goal ($150 per hour). Sometimes, especially getting to know a client's business well over the years, I exceed that significantly. And sometimes, like when I'm first putting research into a company to get to know them and their market, I just pull it off or come in slightly lower. That's regardless of the type of writing I'm doing. It's just how per-project pricing generally works.
I make as much writing Web content and blog posts as I make with more traditional forms of business writing. And you can too. Remember, you only make less than someone else (thinking on an hourly level) if you choose to. If you want to earn more you have to charge more, and you have to show clients that you're worth it. Web content is worth a lot more than some folks seem to think. And as long as you stay within that group's mindset, it will continue to be true. For you.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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