A month or so ago when I asked what you wanted me to cover in upcoming blog posts, there was one question that kept coming up: How do I find high-paying corporate writing gigs? Some of you were fed up with writing for small business (I hear you), some of you had had some interest from potential corporate clients and others just didn’t know where to begin. I am in no doubt that a lot of my financial success has come down to the fact that I have regular, high paying corporate work that comes to me. So let’s jump in.
How to find high-paying corporate writing gigs
Before we start, I want to get one thing straight.
This is not an exhaustive ‘how to’ blog post.
The way to find great paying writing clients is multifaceted and complex.
And I cover it all in my forthcoming course, but given that so many of you got in touch asking the same question, I thought it was important to start and address this huge topic.
Why write for corporate clients?
I know some (actually, I can think of two) full time freelance writers who only write feature articles for newsstand, digital and trade publications.
They don’t do any corporate work at all. No sponsored content, no blog posts for companies, no case studies for corporations, no articles for corporate custom content publications.
I get it. I admire it. But for me, I want a career in freelance writing and I want it to pay well.
At least 50 per cent of my writing is feature articles for magazines, newspapers and digital outlets, but one of the keys to making really good money as a freelancer has been fostering my relationships with my corporate clients.
I like my corporate clients – they are good to deal with, they pay well (and on time), the briefs are clear and the work is enjoyable.
Last year I ended up writing for four different people within the same organisation.
I think it probably took me about 18 months to get to that point.
And last year I think I earned over $40K from that single corporate client.
But let’s also acknowledge this fact:
It takes time to find high-paying corporate clients.
And it takes time to build relationships with them.
And there’s one more thing:
There is no one way to find high-paying clients.
There are hundreds of thousands of companies who will pay well for your writing services – you just have to find them.
I know, I know.
That sounds easy doesn’t it?
You “just” have to find them.
What you need to do to land clients who will pay you well for your writing
The more time and effort you are prepared to put into finding corporate clients that pay well, the more likely it is that you’ll be rewarded for those efforts.
Spending five minutes on LinkedIn connecting with possible clients every month or so, or sending out three letters of introduction isn’t going to do it.
You have to be systematic and you have to be strategic.
There is no one database of high-paying clients (oh how we wish there was right?!) – you have to do the hard yards – you have to find them.
But there are ways to do it.
Here’s one way that I use regularly.
1. Focus on one, very specific area
You definitely don’t have to have a niche to be a successful freelance writer, but for the point of this exercise you need to put some constraints on yourself.
I think sometimes people equate corporate writing with something boring, jargonistic and capitalistic.
That hasn’t been my experience at all.
I’ve written about all kinds of things for my corporate clients – predictive policing, schizophrenia, work place injuries, recruitment, ear health, luxury travel, credit cards, the sustainable house of the future – the list goes on.
So ask yourself, what corporate area do you want to write about?
Then you have to ask , does that area have corporate clients who can pay me what I am worth?
Lots of people come to me as lifestyle writers who want to translate their feature writing into corporate writing, but being a generalist lifestyle writer doesn’t always translate into high-paying corporate work.
But usually they can pick an area that you have experience or interest in within lifestyle and leverage that to land their first corporate client.
For example, they might choose health.
Health writing can be a super high income area – but you need to specify which part of health you’re going to focus on.
Women’s health? Mental health? Health insurance? Paediatric health?
(And don’t forget Jennifer Gregory’s advice of adding technology to any niche you are writing in)
Let’s use mental health as an example.
You want to find companies that are producing content in this area – remember, this doesn’t have to be blog posts, it might be white papers, annual reports, newsletters, research reports, brochure materials and so on.
Now, you probably don’t want to target mental health services (because they are usually so stretched with providing support that it’s going to be unlikely that they will be able to work regularly with a freelance writer).
Instead, you probably want to look at government bodies focusing on mental health, foundations, associations, and private companies.
A quick Google search looking for the top mental health organisations in your country will probably be a great place to start.
2. Start a list of the organisations who are producing content in this area
I would work my way down this list and look at what kind of content these organisations produce.
Of course, not all are going to be producing regular, high quality blog posts, articles, or newsletters, but your aim is to look very carefully at their messaging, what resources they have that are available for the general public.
3. Reach out to a specific person
Then I’d reach out to a particular person at the organisation or company via LinkedIn (here’s a post about how I got a $2/word health writing gig on LinkedIn).
If you’re not sure who to get in touch with, use LinkedIn as a search engine – search for the company name plus “communications manager” or “digital editor” or “content manager” or “marketing manager” and see what comes up.
Send them an invitation to connect.
At this stage via LinkedIn I never hustle for work. I just say something like:
My name is Lindy Alexander and I am a freelance writer specialising in producing mental health content for blogs, newsletters and eDMs. I’ve really been enjoying the blog posts on [your website] and was wondering if you’d like to connect.
It’s a pretty simple, polite request to connect.
If they accept my invitation then I send a response back thanking them for accepting my invitation and asking if they ever use freelance writers to produce their content.
I can’t tell you how many times this has resulted in me landing high-paying corporate gigs.
But does it always result in great outcomes?
I think you know the answer to that is a big NO.
4. Rinse and Repeat
There are so many opportunities.
Think about that mental health example.
You could think about mental health in the workplace, mental health start ups, mental health apps, medications for mental illness …. think of how many companies are in each of those spaces and you’ll see the potential of drilling down and targeting specific companies.
But I also know that it can get really disheartening to reach out to people and hear nothing back.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you or your writing.
It just means that your query about producing content for them wasn’t right for them at this time.
Finding freelance writing work that pays well is not about sending out 10 letters of introduction and then losing faith when no one wants your services.
This is an ongoing process that you’ll need to do every week.
Yep. Every single week. Multiple times a week.
That’s even when you’ve got regular, high-paying clients.
I’m still sending out letters of introduction and connecting with people, because I know at any moment my anchor client could disappear, for whatever reason.
It is absolutely possible to earn a great income from freelance writing and from corporate writing, but you need to be persistent.
These great gigs are out there, but they are not just going to drop into your lap.
Do you have high-paying corporate writing work? Is there anything else you’d add?
Why am I’m so rubbish at self-promotion? That’s rhetorical, but I’m inspired by this post and your no-nonsense approach. Time to get on my big-girl pants and give it a shot. After 12 years, I’m sick of being broke. Thanks for the inspiration.
Hi Cari, it’s not just you who struggles with self-promotion. It really helped me to think of my writing as helping and serving clients, rather than promoting my services to them. Go well 🙂
I love the idea of using LinkedIn as a search engine. As I identify prospective client organizations (often by using your “top organizations” tip), I search for their editors or communications directors. Those people’s profiles often tell me a lot about the organization–what kinds of written material they produce, and what they want it to do for them. I can also get a sense of the person, which helps me know how to approach her (usually) and how likely I am to like working with her.
Thanks so much for your comment Sandra – searching for editors or communications directors and then checking out their profile sounds like a very solid way of gathering information about an organisation.