Why Small is the New Big
for B2B Copywriters

When I started writing copy for business-to-business (B2B) companies about 15 years ago, my plan was to land at least one big, whopping corporate client. I figured a large multinational company with billions of dollars in sales would have plenty of work for me.

And I was right.

I eventually landed UPS, a huge F-100 company, as a client. They regularly spent millions of dollars each month on advertising and marketing. For many years nearly half my freelance income came from that one account.

But things have changed in the freelance copywriting and corporate worlds since that time.

It has become much harder to find your way into the corporate fortress, figure out who it is you should be talking to, get a meeting with that person (good luck), and then convince him or her to give your copywriting services a try.

The competition is also more fierce. A few years ago, a corporate marketing communications manager might get a couple of calls or letters a week from freelance copywriters looking for work. These days, that number has increased by at least a factor of ten.

Now don't get me wrong. The effort is worth it. Landing a big corporate client can provide you with a steady flow of work that can be the foundation of your business.

But over the past couple of years, I've noticed an emerging niche in the copywriting market where there is little competition and yet a lot of work available.

Small B2B companies.

By small, I don't mean ma and pa shops. I'm referring to companies with annual sales in the $2.5 to $20 million dollar range.

Why are companies like these such a great niche for copywriters right now?

Over the past few years, the volume of marketing communications these smaller B2B companies need to produce to remain competitive – everything from emails, ads and web pages to brochures, case studies and white papers – has, in my estimation, doubled. Perhaps even tripled.

So they need a lot of stuff written.

At the same time, these smaller B2B companies don't get targeted by freelancers as often as corporate marketing departments do. In fact, one of my best clients, a small B2B company owner, told me recently that he gets just two or three enquiries a year from copywriters. I'm certainty not worried about someone stealing my client!

Finally, I've noticed a trend amongst these small B2B companies. They are increasingly outsourcing copywriting work to freelancers, rather than tapping their already strained in-house resources or going through an expensive ad agency.

It all adds up to a lot of demand. Yet, for the moment at least, not a lot of copywriters taking advantage of it.

So if you – as a trained B2B copywriter – were to approach small business-to-business companies in your area, you would have an excellent chance of getting your foot in a few doors. You might even be able to quickly position yourself with these companies as the local go-to B2B copywriter.

This strategy has certainly worked well for me.

I no longer write copy for UPS. Instead, my biggest client these days is a small B2B company that produces business development programs for Realtors. They may be miniscule compared to a Goliath like UPS. Yet, I get tens of thousands of dollars in freelance work from them each year.

So small really is the new big for B2B copywriters. Big as in big opportunity!

How many small B2B companies are located near you?

Before I wrote this article I did some research on InfoUSA.com, an online business information service. According to their data, there are approximately 900,000 companies in America that sell B2B products or services and have annual sales in the $2.5-$20 million range. Obviously the distribution across the country is not even, but no matter how you slice it, you can expect to find thousands of these companies in your State.

That's a lot of potential clients in your local market.

And although a small B2B company can't give you the volume of freelance work that a large corporate client can, you can still do very well. In fact, landing just two or three of these companies as clients can fill your schedule with all the good-paying projects you can handle.

One caveat, however. These companies may be small, but doesn't mean they settle for just any copywriter. They want to work with professionals who are good at what they do and trained in the best practices of writing high-performance B2B copy.

So, if you're a trained B2B copywriter, consider introducing your services to smaller B2B companies in your area. But do it quickly. The window of opportunity is wide open right now. And there's no telling when it will close.

[Ed. note: Steve Slaunwhite is a successful B2B copywriter with over 15 years of experience with a client list that includes UPS, Hoover's Business Information, Forbes, Mitsubishi, NCR, Symantec, and dozens of others.

He's also the expert behind AWAI's Secrets of Writing High-Performance Business-to-Business Copy, which he’s filled with insider information found nowhere else. Steve not only shows you how to write copy for one of today's hottest markets … you also get access to his advice and tutorials through the private members forum.]

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Published: October 23, 2009

1 Response to “Why Small is the New Big for B2B Copywriters”

  1. So, why the emphasis on local? Isn't part of the beauty of copywriting the ability to work from anywhere? Maybe for the initial intro, but are we limited by location?

    Jeff HarrellOctober 24, 2009 at 3:03 am


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