Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Now's the time for you to write for businesses

When you say the term 'freelance writer' most people - including writers - automatically think you're writing for newspapers and magazines. But there's an enormous, untapped market out there that is primed for enterprising writers - the corporate market.

This is the field I have been involved in for most of my 20 plus years as a writer.

If nothing else, I've learned that the major advantage of writing for businesses is the income. Businesses, by and large, pay far more handsomely than magazines.

Secondly, once you have written for a business, generally speaking, you become their principal writer. You have the ability to write a wide variety of communications for the one business. This could include customer sales letters, speeches and video scripts as well as internal and external newsletters, brochures, ads and more. That's the potential with just one business client. You can see how lucrative this line of work can be with just a handful of clients.

Now, using that same criteria, if you have one magazine as your client - that publication will work with a string of writers, including staff and freelancers. Whether you write an occasional article or a series of articles, it's unlikely you will gain the volume of work and income from one magazine as you would from one business.

Depending on the way a writer operates, freelancers approach magazines generally with story ideas or sometimes pitch completed articles. Either way, there's no guarantee the magazine will accept and pay you for your effort.

However, once you have written for a business, the chances are far greater that you will continue to work with them and you will increase the number of writing jobs over time. I have handled one-off writing projects for businesses, but in most cases, a one-off job has led to a long-term relationship.

With some clients, I manage several projects a year. With others, I work for them on a regular basis, and there's a few who I speak with virtually on a daily basis. That's one of the great things about being an enterprising writer - the work is consistent, but it's also interesting because it's varied.

As you can see, writing for businesses versus writing for magazines, can be a far more profitable and stable exercise. And, once you have a number of clients, the amount of effort required to gain new assignments is far less because existing clients will call you, rather than you calling them for work.

Another advantage to writing for businesses is the amount of time and energy required to produce your work. If you're writing for magazines, in most cases it is up to the writer to identify stories and gather their own leads. When writing for businesses, in most cases, the client will have a ready supply of writing activities for you. The business, for example, may be releasing a new suite of products which require press releases, ads, direct mail letters and brochures. Depending on how well you're briefed, the client will provide base information and contact names for you to gather more information. Essentially, much of the ground work is already done for you.

Conversely, some writers may argue that one of the advantages writing for magazines is that it's more interesting, because you can choose your own topics and write them any way you wish.

Certainly it's true that when you write for business - whether you?re writing a press releases or an ad - the copy must have a certain corporate spin and it must be approved by the client. When you write for companies, you do not have the journalistic integrity you have when writing for magazines.

Secondly, in some ways, you also lose that 'thrill of the chase' that you can have tracking down a newspaper or magazine story.

Some may say it's more glamorous to write for magazines than businesses. I think that's a personal opinion. For me, I have enjoyed working in both fields, but I find writing for businesses far more profitable and sustainable. For those magazine writers who are considering writing for businesses, but don't wish to give up journalism - I would suggest that do both, as I did for many years.

Writing for a couple of companies can pay the bills and give you the security to continue writing for magazines. In this business, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

No comments: