This Will Put You in Total Control Of Your Freelance Writing Business

Welcome back!

This week I’ve been helping you add a retainer deal (or two!) to your list of services, to ensure you have some revenue you can count on month after month.

What’s most interesting about today’s opportunity – besides the fact that companies spent more than $118.4 billion on it in 2013 – is that many writers don’t think to set it up as a retainer. They approach the projects piece by piece.

Which always surprises me …

Because companies need it on an ongoing basis!

You see, Google now insists that a website have quality content (and an ongoing stream of it) or its search engine rankings will suffer. And, if a business can’t be found on Google … well, they may as well close up shop.

That’s why the third retainer opportunity I want to make sure you consider is content marketing.

Content marketing is essentially “selling without selling.” Instead, businesses educate their readers with stories, metaphors and simple advice in the form of new articles, blog posts, emails and so on.

Ultimately these pieces of content are moving the reader toward the sale …

But in the meantime, content gives the company the opportunity to build a relationship with the reader, and demonstrate their expertise, so that when the opportunity to buy does appear, the reader is open to it and ready to take action.

Now, here’s what gets me most excited about this type of retainer deal …

Of course – like the others – there’s the monthly revenue stream you can expect to receive month after month.

But, according to AWAI member and content marketer Mandy Marksteiner, there are other benefits, too …

For starters, it’s a win/win for you and your clients, because it makes them commit to a regular marketing schedule. Good ongoing marketing activities help them realize more success, and they see you as the person who helps make their ongoing success possible.

Next, clients see you as someone on their team who provides a “big-picture strategy” to achieve their goals, rather than someone they hire every now and again for a project here and there.

And finally, it can make the “pricing game” really simple …

Mandy, for example, put together three packages for clients: 1) An “entry level” package; 2) A “more advanced” package; and 3) One for extremely motivated clients. Pricing ranges from $200 to $2,000 per month. She offers a discount for six-month and 12-month agreements.

After meeting with a new client, she simply tweaks the appropriate package deal slightly to customize it to their needs.

No more worrying about “how much to charge”!

Interested in landing a few of these deals yourself? Here’s your way in …

Read the content already published on websites that interest you.

After all, you’re going to be writing a lot about the topic. It may as well be something you’re interested in!

Next, determine who their audience is and what they’re trying to ultimately sell. (Trust me, if it’s a company who values their content enough to pay quality writers, they’re selling something. If not, move on … you want to write only for companies with something to gain financially.)

Next, put together a list of topics you could write about, and send them along with a few sample pieces of content.

And don’t worry if you’re just starting out …

Your samples don’t have to be from past clients. Any examples of your writing will work, assuming they’re examples that fit the client’s style.

Then, once the conversation gets going, you can present the idea of a retainer deal, where you’ll submit a piece of content every week for a flat monthly fee.

Now, fees can range greatly, depending on how much content you’re providing on a monthly basis. But, when you figure you can charge $100 to $500 for each piece, you can easily see just how fast a retainer deal can add up.

Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger and author of AWAI’s Content Mastery: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Highly Paid Content Marketing Strategist, is also an advocate of retainer deals. One of the simplest deals he recommends in the program is writing one blog post per week in exchange for $500 to $800 per month.

So, which of the three opportunities we covered this week are you most interested in doing on retainer? Share with me here, and feel free to ask any questions you have, too.

I’m happy to help you choose or get moving forward!

And then make sure you don’t miss tomorrow’s issue …

I’m going to answer some of the most common questions people have about retainer agreements to ensure you know how to navigate them properly.

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Published: April 17, 2014

20 Responses to “This Will Put You in Total Control Of Your Freelance Writing Business”

  1. Greetings Rebecca,

    I'm a newbie to the AWAI Family, and You have been so resourceful with bringing to us this extraordinary piece of the BIG puzzle. I love writing about GOD, self-help, empowerment, edification etc...So I'd love to blog daily or weekly for Christians sites or same in nature. Tell me your thoughts and I'd love any suggestions you may have.

    Thanks for sharing


    Tekesha Austin

  2. Hi Rebecca!
    Thanks so much for this week's info on retainer deals - I'm super excited about them! I really want to work in the nonprofit niche, and I'm wondering if there's anything different, I guess, about retainer deals within that niche . . .is there anything extra or different about the approach when it comes to fundraising vs. selling here? Or is it pretty much the same approach?

    Thanks so much, Nicole

    Nicole Swinford

  3. Dear Rebecca, This weeks articles have been very helpful to me. I feel like a kid in a candy store.
    I'm a Christian author and writer with experience in the business world.
    To get my foot into this interesting world I would like to start with
    1. e-newsletters then
    2. blog posts (have been doing them but need better paying clients lol)then
    3. Social Media The three could be a nice package to offer the client.
    Thanks, Retha

    Retha Groenewald

  4. Hi Rebecca! I love the idea of helping clients build relationships and grow their businesses, so I believe that the Email Newsletters and Social Media would be best for me. They address things I want for my own business, ongoing relationships with my clients. I've got to get some clients first. I'm a newbie, or I will be. This week's articles have been great. Thanks!


  5. Hi Rebecca,

    I am genuinely grateful to you for bringing us these nuggets on landing retainers, which are presented in such a clear and concise way. The strategy will be easy to execute even for an aspiring new copywriter like me!

    I can feel myself gravitating to the idea of doing E-letters and blog posts on a weekly basis for clients, to start off.

    The tip re: pricing in packages is brilliant too. Once again, thank you so much for passing on your insight.

    Guest (Lee Nourse)

  6. Hello Rebecca :)
    I've been working on the 6 Figure course and Copywriting 2.0 since February. I've been deeply contemplating a niche. My range of expertise and interest is wide. Stumped on what industry to write in, I realized that all of my interests are services.
    I also discovered that I'm happier story telling, information sharing, etc. When I saw your article on e-newsletters I knew I had found my entry point into online copywriting.
    Perhaps my next step will be content writing?


  7. Hello Rebecca,

    I guess I'm echoing much of what has already been stated, but I really appreciate this week's topic on retainers. Honestly, each time I open my email and find the messages about things to incorporate in my writing business it's like drinking from a fire hose, and I almost feel overwhelmed. But, I'm trying to grasp as much as possible--sort of like trying to find your spot to jump in when others are turning a jump rope for you! Thank you for the valuable info!


  8. Hi Rebecca, I've decided to focus on e-newsletters and information marketing for alternative health providers. In order to market my skills, I'm thinking of offering a free report to opt in to my list, writing a blog and posting on social media. I've been toying with the idea of webcasts and interviewing marketing experts or other practitioners in the field. I would love to leverage my interviewing skills in this way, but I'm stumped for content. What kinds of topics would you suggest? Thank you

    Stacey Hawkins

  9. Hi, I'm still new to AWAI (working through the foundation course still) but decided to try for work even before finishing the course. I found a local company that had posted on craigslist for a blog writer. After sending the owner a sample, I've now done several posts and am enjoying it. I'm doing it on a per word basis for now since I wanted to build a "portfolio", but I'm liking the idea of trying for an e-newsletter gig at a set rate. Thanks for the ideas! It is all achievable : )

    Ken McG

  10. Hi Rebecca, I love the tips on niches and various programs available. I am feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information, and know I'd feel better if I could just choose one to start. I need to make a minimum monthly amount....and I need to start doing that like yesterday. I'm still finishing the 6 Figure program, but what would you recommend to a newbie and what's the best way to build a portfolio for potential clients, when I'm still green?

    Shawn Moore

  11. So glad to hear about the Christian Copywriter FB - I immediately requested to join the group.
    I was also wondering where to find clients - specifically for the Christian market. Wasn't sure what to Google search lol.
    Thanks for the info. :)

    Retha Groenewald

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