10 Ways Freelance Writers Can Cash in by Working With Small Businesses and Startups

By Aubre Andrus January 14th, 2015

While people are usually very willing to admit they don’t have an artistic eye, those same people aren’t as willing to admit they can’t write—or, at least, can’t write well. There’s an art to creating editorial and marketing content, just as there’s an art to graphic design and illustration. For small businesses, hiring a professional writer is as worthy an expense as hiring a professional designer or a lawyer. So what are you waiting for? Start pitching your services.

Below, we’ve outlined 10 practical ways freelancers can get paid to help out small business. We’ve also included some estimates for how much you could earn, according to pricing information from New Jersey Creatives Networks.

1. Create a name or a tagline for a company or product

Many small businesses focus too much time on the name of the company and not enough time on the tagline. Experienced writers know how to get a point across as concisely as possible while keeping a little flair. Share a handful of ideas for a few hundred dollars and let the business pick its favorite option.

2. Manage social media content

Typically, a freelance writer can draft social copy for any company or personal brand for a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars per month. Since writers have to constantly come up with story ideas, we have relevant experience and should be able to brainstorm interesting, shareable content that plays well with that brand’s target audience.

3. Copy edit presentations

For companies looking to generate buzz or prepare for important meetings, a writer can help polish a pitch and clean up any typos for keynotes and business presentations. Early-stage startups might not have the finances to hire a full-time writer, but freelancers can bring plenty of value as copy editors who earn between $30 and $50 per hour.

4. Draft email and promotional copy

Writing a good headline has now become an art and a science. The same skills freelancers use to draft precise pitches for magazines and newspapers can be applied to a company’s latest email or homepage promotion. This kind of work could range from $150 to more than $1,000 per project.

5. Blog/ghostblog

Blog posts are a great way for a small business to create content that can then be shared across its social channels. Remind them. Even if you don’t get a byline, being able to diffuse relevant business points into an engaging 500-word post can be lucrative.

A standard 500-word blog posts can vary from $50 to $300 depending on the writer’s experience and how much research the post requires.

6. Research and fact-check

Even if a small business or a startup doesn’t need you to create content, there’s a good chance they’ll need you to refine their work. Those who know how to gather research and check facts—common skills for freelancers with editorial backgrounds—typically charge about $20 per hour, which can add up quickly depending on the scope of the project.

7. Write Kickstarter copy

When it comes to crowdfunding, small businesses have three things at their disposal: one video, a few images, and a lot of words. A freelance can help pen a concise script and draft a call to action that will turn visitors into backers. Another selling point for writers: It’s always helpful to have an outside source translate the endless details and benefits of a product into easily digestible copy.

8. Develop SEO-enabled content

Smart freelancers not only understand how to write a great story but also how to make sure that story gets seen by the right people. SEO is no longer just about jamming in certain keywords, and understanding the nuances of search rankings and Google’s algorithm gives you a huge advantage over competitors. If you bring SEO skills to the table, even if you are just advising or editing content, you can justify increasing your rate.

9. Build a press release or press kit

Pitching an article idea and writing a press release both come from the same place: the need to inform and persuade. Experienced freelancers can take major bullet-points about important people and events and turn them into a narrative. This kind of writing can vary widely in pricing, so consult others who have completed similar work for advice.

10. Draft a résumé or LinkedIn profile

These days, business owners need a professional online presence as well as a ready-to-go résumé. Both can shine with the help of a professional writer. It’s hard to write about oneself, but a writer can market a business owner’s skills and experiences in unexpected ways. Remind business owners that the $100 to $200 they spend on a professionally written online presence is its own form of affordable advertising that can lead to long-term benefits for lead generation and networking.

Image by Tom Magliery
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