One of the most draining projects on most freelance writers’ to-do lists: pitching. I don’t know about you, but it’s exhausting to constantly think about the next story idea, the next pitch, the next contact — and the next rejection.
That’s why 80 percent of my writing work is blogging for companies.
Now, before you start to hyperventilate because corporate writing is the actual worst, hear me out. Businesses have blogs. Just like this blog, the Huffington Post, or that fashion blog you love to hate.
And many companies are jumping on the content bandwagon. Some of my favorite blogs are just part of a business’s content strategy — their desire to be a voice in the design/cooking/accounting community. And, as a writer, you’re good at that. Especially if you already have a voice in said community.
Think of it another way: Do you know who needs stories told? Companies. And do you know who pays way better than traditional media outlets? Companies!
What is brand blogging?
You’ve probably seen the inevitable Company Blog Fail: The ones that only post about new hires or haven’t been updated since 2010. But trust me, good company blogs exist. Some of my favorites include Etsy, Evernote, The Freelancer and ModCloth.
“Writing for a company runs many parallels to journalistic writing — you need to do your research, check all your facts, and tell a captivating story,” says Shannon Byrne, Chief Content Officer at CloudPeeps.
But there are differences when it comes to writing work you may have done in the past.
“With business writing, you focus on the business impact of content,” adds Byrne, “How much traffic it’s driving, for what search phrase and whether it’s converting.”
While some brands act like personal blogs, others like content farms, and others still like major publishers, writing for businesses usually allows more flexibility for freelancers.
“Those lines between business and journalism are blurring,” says Byrne. “Companies are more focused on letting quality content speak for itself and eventually convert, while media is still focused on quality, but also paying more attention to being found online.”
What brands look for in freelance writers
While some brands just want a good writer to churn out customer stories, most legit company blogs look for expertise — not only because experts tend to write better about their subject, but also because hiring industry-specific bloggers gives them access to untapped platforms.
Spend any time on the internet and you’ll see popular home bloggers contributing to paint company websites, or fashion bloggers posting weekly outfits for Jeans Company A.
Jordan Teicher, Associate Editor at Contently, advises, “The best way to differentiate yourself is by having your best work published by big-time names at the top of your portfolio. This is how you hook someone to explore your work in more detail.”
Along with having the chops to actually do the writing, you also need to prove you’re adaptable.
Brands, much more than traditional editorial jobs, are also going to want more control over your style. “Brands are looking for people who will quickly pick up their brand’s voice,” says Byrne.
Along with presenting yourself decent writer with samples and a portfolio, you need to show that you can adapt your writing style for the task at hand.
How to find corporate blogging work
If a company has a top-notch blog, you can often find to find a form on their site calling for writers. Houzz is a great example — its submissions page is a one-stop shop for the variety of ways you can contribute to this home and garden site.
The Layout, Flywheel’s design blog, makes it super easy to contribute. They created an online application that even suggests articles if you’re unsure what to pitch. “Of course,” says Morgan Ryan, The Layout’s editor, “if you have an original ideas, we’re open to hearing those too!”
You’d be shocked though (or not at all shocked) how many companies do not, in fact, have their stuff together. Most corporate blogs aren’t read by anyone, never mind follow best practices.
That doesn’t mean you can’t help. I’d even argue these are actually the blogs you want to target.
“It never hurts to ask,” says Ryan. “Even if a blog isn’t publicly hiring freelancers, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes or what they’re working on for the future.”
And, like anything, build relationships. “Identify the thought leaders in the verticals you’d like to work in and connect with them,” says Byrne. “Interact with their content, ask them questions. If they’re local, invite them to coffee. With these relationships, you’ll most importantly learn from them, but also get your foot in the door to secure guest contributor opportunities on respected industry blogs and publications.”
I’ve gotten all my corporate gigs through referrals or platforms like CloudPeeps and Thumbtack. In my experience, companies posting to freelance marketplaces have a clearer roadmap of what they want for their blog — and what they want to get out of the effort. I’m more likely to get referred to a company that doesn’t yet know what they want, but knows it needs professional help.
I make anywhere from $50-$100 per hour writing content for corporate blogs, and the first time I realized this price phased absolutely zero marketing staffers, I was hooked.
“When you’re doing brand work as opposed to editorial work you have a better chance of being compensated, and odds are that compensation will be worthwhile since a lot of these companies have bigger marketing budgets than strictly editorial publishers,” says Teicher.
Since Contently, where Teicher works, connects writers with clients as well as commissioning work for its own site, pay can vary. But if you’re going to contribute to The Freelancer blog, you can expect to get paid between $200 and $350 per article.
Flywheel’s blog pays up to $150 per post, and they offer tons of ideas to choose from.
CloudPeeps currently doesn’t pay contributors for their blog (they’re still in start-up mode), but they do have a fantastic platform connecting freelance content pros to awesome gigs. I was recently hired on their platform myself.
My absolute best advice to snag this kind of work is to start reading the blogs of brands you love. Find the editor (or the marketing manager or intern) online. Connect. Offer to write a few articles on a per-post basis to show them what you can do.
While personal connections are precious, putting some effort into building connections with branded blogs is worth it for long-term freelance health and peace of mind.
Have you ever been hired to write for a corporate blog? How was your experience?