Whether it’s a severe recession like we had in 2008 or the global pandemic of this year, outside forces can impact our freelance writing businesses.
Don’t get me wrong: just the fact that you’re a freelancer provides some protection, because you’re not usually reliant on a single client (i.e., your employer) for 100% of your income.
Still, it can be hard to look past tomorrow or next week. I will show you, though, not only can you make it through, but it is even possible to grow your B2B client workload during uncertain times.
That’s what freelance medical writer Alexis Taylor did this year, taking her existing marketing strategy and pivoting to sustain and grow her business. You can use some of her tactics to help grow your writing business in an uncertain economy. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Change Your Marketing Copy
When the world around you is in turmoil, it makes sense that you change the way you speak to prospects. The same words and phrases that work when the world is fine don’t always work when it’s not.
That’s what Taylor did with her outreach emails. She tweaked the copy of her emails to focus on the changes in people’s online behavior and how she could help clients capture their attention.
2. Steer Clear of Hard-Hit Industries
Another way to grow your business in a bad economy is to avoid hard-hit industries and markets. While they could use your help to grow and survive, they probably don’t have the money to pay you right now.
Look for adjacent markets to your main niche to see if there’s anyone else you could be serving right now. For instance, if you write for the hospitality industry, look at food delivery services since they may have pivoted to serve different markets. If you work with retailers, look at e-commerce companies or logistics firms.
3. Pay Attention to Your Market’s Spending Habits
As the economy contracts, companies shift their budgets to maximize their investments. They may reduce paid advertising campaigns, but are still willing to invest in long-term content like blogging, articles, white papers, and more.
Because Taylor’s primary focus is the healthcare industry, she figured her business would increase right now (and she was right). She saw an increase in inbound requests for her services, which left her scrambling to vet them to find the legitimate requests. But she didn’t rest on her inbound efforts; she made sure to increase her outbound marketing too. That way, she knew she’d be the first person companies would think of or reach out to when they had a need.
Pay attention to what your target market is doing right now to be sure you’re offering the right projects and services. They’ll be more likely to work with you if you’re already aligned with them.
4. Spread Yourself Around
Freelance writers who only have a couple of clients or work exclusively in a single industry are at risk of significant problems when things go bad. Even though Taylor works for healthcare clients, she’s made sure to have multiple clients at all times. That way, if one goes dark or has to stop working with her, others can pick up the slack.
Having multiple income streams is essential for freelance writers, but it doesn’t have to mean entirely different products or services. You could do like Taylor and spread your work around a few clients, or you could have a few clients, a few coaching customers, and an info product you sell.
Expand your network with prospective clients through LinkedIn, create new connections, and have conversations with other freelancers. You never know who’ll be the one to connect you to a new client.
5. Ask for More Money
If you’ve been with your clients for a while, you might want to consider asking for a raise. The extra money from each future invoice could make a big difference to you. Your client already understands the value of your work and should be willing to pay more.
Give them a few months’ notice that you’re raising your rates, though. Don’t just announce it one day and expect them to pay. Your B2B clients will have to go through a few decision-makers for approval, so you want to give them the time to do so.
6. Pitch That Higher-Value Project Now
Upselling or cross-selling are sales techniques that can work well for freelance writers too. If you’ve been wanting to work on a bigger project for your clients, now is the time to ask. They may have a need for one, or at the very least, understand the value the project can bring them and be open to discussing it.
For example, you could suggest a five-page report they could use as a lead magnet or an email autoresponder series for a particular segment of their customers. These projects bring your customers additional revenue and increase your invoice totals too.
Write your pitch and then make your case. They might just say yes.
7. Write What Clients Want
To stay busy during uncertain times, you’ll need to write what your clients want. It might not be exactly what you’re used to writing or topics you’re interested in, but that’s what they need. Less essential topics or content types will get shelved for the time being.
For example, landing pages never go out of style, but the persuasive copy on them might need to be tweaked. B2B content marketers will need more middle-of-funnel content to keep people engaged and increase conversions. Longer form blog posts and e-books or white papers always work and may be something you need to learn how to write.
Seeing the economy go sideways can be scary, but if you follow these seven tips, you’ll protect your freelance writing business from it. There’s never a bad day to start laying the groundwork to ensure you’re not completely lost if a recession (or pandemic) arrives.
It might be hard to look past tomorrow or next week, but it is possible to grow your freelance writing business during uncertain times. If Alexis Taylor can do it, so can you. Take a deep breath and dive in.