Is B2B Copywriting for You? 5 Questions to Help You Decide
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Business-to-Business, or B2B, copywriting. This field has certainly been good to me over the years. And, in my opinion, it’s the best opportunity right now for those who want to start a freelance career and make a good income.
In fact, a question I get asked a lot is, “How do I know if B2B copywriting is right for me?”
Before I answer that, let me quickly debunk a couple of myths that might be holding you back from exploring this field further.
First, Business-to-Business copywriting is not boring. It’s not about writing “business-like” letters and — yawn — technical spec sheets. B2B copywriting is very exciting. Really!
I just finished writing a short video script for a training company to help promote one of their new programs. It’s going to be shot using professional actors, then posted on the front page of the company’s website. How great is that?!
Second, B2B copywriting isn’t necessarily technical. You don’t have to write about the durometer of polypropylene crank shaft valves if you don’t want to. There are thousands of B2B companies with products and services that aren’t the least bit difficult to understand.
Have you ever used Skype to make a phone call? Skype also has a B2B version of its service. Check out the “business” link on their website. Read the page. You can write copy like that, can’t you?
Now that those two myths are, hopefully, laid to rest, let us get on to determining if B2B copywriting is for you. How do you know? Well, there are five questions that will help you decide.
Do you enjoy writing for the Web?
You didn’t think B2B copywriting was just about ads, brochures, and white papers, did you?
These days, Business-to-Business companies spend far more money on marketing online than their Business-to-Consumer counterparts.
B2B companies are constantly churning out e-newsletters, emails, banner ads, e-zine ads, web pages, landing pages, online articles, blog posts, online videos, autoresponders — the works. And they’re investing heavily in social media, too.
If you like writing for the Web, B2B is a market you’d be a fool to ignore.
Do you like low-hype copywriting?
If you enjoy writing emotionally-charged, ginsu-salesman type copy, then the Business-to-Business market is not for you.
The B2B writing style is rarely hard sell; and usually focuses instead on facts, success stories, applications, specifications, and other soft-sell information.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t strong sales copy in B2B. There is. I write a lot of sales letters, emails, and website sales pages for my clients.
But the lion’s share of the work — and money — for copywriters in this market is in content: white papers, case studies (product success stories), websites, newsletters, trade magazine articles, and emails.
If you enjoy “soft-sell copywriting,” then the B2B market is a good fit for you.
Do you enjoy learning about new types of products and services?
What I like most about writing for B2B companies is the opportunity to learn about products that I would never have come across otherwise.
As a B2B copywriter, I get to sink my teeth into such topics as business consulting services, corporate sales training programs, industrial valves, forklift trucks, software products, and more.
For me, it’s fun to learn about new things.
For you, that may not be the case.
You might be more comfortable staying on familiar ground writing for companies that sell everyday consumer stuff such as yoga classes, vacation packages, toaster ovens, lawn care services, and so forth.
But, if you’re inquisitive and a fast learner, B2B is definitely for you.
Do you care about business people?
Business products are, of course, purchased by business people — small business owners, corporate managers, CFOs, directors, IT managers, and so forth.
So, you have to be interested in these people, and the issues that affect their businesses, careers, and lives.
If you don’t, then you’ll find it difficult — perhaps even impossible — to write effective copy that targets this audience.
For example, say you’re hired by a consulting firm to craft a brochure about its new sales training program. You can’t just go through the motions of writing about the features and benefits. You have to have a genuine interest in the target audience — sales managers — and care about the challenges they face in getting their sales teams to meet quota.
If business people and their goals and challenges mean nothing to you, stay away from B2B.
Are you okay with earning good fees for your work, but no commissions?
Some consumer direct-response markets will pay you an additional royalty or fee if the marketing piece you write does well. For example, if you craft a direct-mail letter that beats the control, you could pocket thousands of dollars extra in fees.
Not so in the Business-to-Business market. In more than 15 years of writing for B2B companies, I’ve had exactly one client who offered any sort of commission on top of my normal fee. Most B2B companies will pay you a flat fee for your copywriting service. That’s it.
So, you won’t be writing a single sales letter for a B2B company that makes you rich.
But, if you learn how to write effective B2B copy and promote freelance services effectively, you can make a very good income. Six-figures or more per year is a realistic goal.
So, there you have it. Five questions that will help you decide if B2B copywriting is for you. If you answered yes to most of these questions, take a closer look at this market. It’s booming right now.
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