4 Secrets You Need to be a Successful Web Writer

Writer typing on laptop with smartphone on table

Web writing is a foot in the door to a massive industry … $335 billion and growing, to be precise. In fact, it’s supposed to reach $515 billion in less than three years!

Trained web writers are in big demand. With over 30 million businesses in the U.S. and less than 100,000 writers available (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), web writing is booming.

And that figure of 100,000 writers is more likely cut in half when you remove authors and journalists. So, we’re looking at around 600 businesses per web writer!

Then factor in all the companies who use multiple freelance writers … the opportunity gets even bigger.

To be a successful web writer, you need to learn the foundational web writing skills. But that’s the easy part.

You see, successful web writers have four things in common … Four secrets that lead to long-term success and income growth. Let’s find out what they are.

Secret #1: Specialize

Successful web writers specialize in one niche.

For example, they might be travel industry writers specializing in content marketing for travel companies … B2B (Business-to-Business) writers specializing in email writing … industrial safety writers specializing in electrical safety equipment … financial industry writers specializing in social media and so on.

Why is a specialization important?

Imagine a company sells household furniture. They need a web writer for a series of blog posts on their furniture range.

Now, two web writers apply for the project.

The first specializes in web writing for furniture companies, mainly writing email campaigns and managing social media channels.

The second writes blog posts for businesses. They don’t specialize in an industry, rather they prefer to only write blog posts, writing across several unrelated industries.

Which one will get the gig, all else being equal?

The first one will … every time.

A business would much rather work with a web writer who knows their industry. They want someone who knows the difference between a camelback lounge and a chesterfield lounge … they want an expert.

The business doesn’t care so much whether the first applicant has written blog posts or not. Instead, they want an expert who understands them and their audience.

This is why specialization is so important. You’ll be perceived as an expert in your niche and you’ll be able to charge accordingly. More on this later.

Secret #2: Generate Ideas

Marketers are busy people. They’re generally juggling dozens of tasks at once. Think how you can help them. Come up with ideas for content.

For example, imagine you’re writing a weekly blog for a company who has luxury hotels in Washington and New York. The company provides you with a list of blog post ideas and you bring these stories to life.

What if you turn this around and provide them with ideas, instead of just them feeding ideas to you?

Spend some time brainstorming ideas for blog topics. It could be a series on the top three places to see in one day, a series on luxury shopping destinations, a series on available city tours, and so on.

Then pitch your ideas to the company.

Chances are, they’ll love it. The marketing team might want you to take a slightly different angle, but that’s okay.

By doing this, you’re perceived as more than just a web writer. You become an important part of their team. Before long, they’ll be contacting you for more ideas.

If you become their idea-generator, they come to rely on you. And it’s a win-win. You’ve helped them by easing their workload and you have work scheduled well into the future.

Secret #3: Look for Opportunities

In a similar vein, a successful web writer always looks for opportunities.

Staying with our luxury hotel chain example, imagine you notice their pages aren’t optimized for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Offer to optimize their pages.

Or perhaps they don’t post to Facebook consistently. When they do, the posts are poorly written. Offer to manage their social media channels.

If you’re more technically minded, look at their bookings page. Is it easy to use? Does it provide a smooth experience for the user? If not, offer to fix it for them.

Do they use email to keep their guests informed of the latest deals? Who’s in charge of their email campaigns? Offer to write their email campaigns.

When a subscriber signs up, do they get a series of automated welcome emails which explain more about the services the hotel chain offers? Are the emails warm and friendly or cold and impersonal? Offer to re-write their email welcome sequence.

The possibilities really are endless.

A successful web writer will look for these opportunities. And once they see an opportunity, they’ll pitch an offer to the client.

But what if you don’t have the skills needed? Easy. Say yes to the project, then learn the skills! Take the relevant AWAI program and be up to speed in no time.

Confession time … I’ve done this before. I simply blended the course fee into my price, took the course to learn the specific skills needed, then completed the project. I was effectively paid to learn a new web writing skill, one I can use for future projects!

A client won’t always accept your proposal. However next time they need web writing done, you’ll be the first person they contact.

You’ve shown that you’re way more than a blog writer … you’re an expert who cares about their company and understands marketing strategies.

You’re a valuable part of their team. Speaking of value …

Secret #4: Charge Premium Rates

Perceived value is important to businesses. If you charge too little, they’ll see you as a low-value, low-skill writer. This perception is especially true within big companies.

Low rates bring to mind the content mills, where you’ll be lucky to get $50 for an 800-word blog post. Thanks to content mills, businesses perceive low rates as equaling poor quality.

Use this to your advantage.

Show the prospect you understand their industry, show them you’re a specialist rather than a generalist who writes for anyone. Show them you’re worth their investment.

Pitch your rate at the higher end of the scale. And throw in a bonus. Here’s an example.

When I started out, I approached one of my dream clients in my niche. We agreed I would send them a proposal to write one blog post per month for the first six months and then we’d review the arrangement.

How did I prove I understood their industry? By pointing them to my Money-Making Website, which is directly related to their industry specialization.

I quoted $425 for each blog post, minimum 800 words. Definitely at the high end of the scale.

Then I added two bonuses. If they wanted additional blog posts within a calendar month, I would charge $375 each for those.

I also offered to optimize every blog post for SEO and include SEO-optimized images where appropriate. This had a high perceived value, with little cost to me.

Interestingly, we didn’t even discuss rates. Instead, we spent most of the phone call discussing SEO and the best ways to measure it! They were excited to find a web writer who understood SEO, knew their niche, and who could take some of the workload off their overloaded in-house writer.

Remember, this happened when I first started out. In reality, I was far from an SEO expert. But I knew enough to muddle my way through while I got more training.

Successful web writers know the importance of charging premium rates. They know the best businesses are the ones that understand the value of web writers. They know premium rates mark you as someone who’s a step above the rest, someone worth paying for.

They also know that when a prospect or client pressures you to drop your rate, then you’re better off walking away.

Getting Started

So, now we’ve uncovered the four secrets of successful web writers, how do you join this “success club”? How do you get started?

Here’s a few resources for you …

Start by taking a look at the opportunities available to web writers, presented in this comprehensive webinar. The tips and ideas are still highly relevant today.

Here’s a more personal viewpoint … how I started in web writing and the opportunities it has presented along the way. You’ll find some useful ideas here. Plus, you’ll see how web writing can lead you down new and exciting paths, opening a world of opportunities you never knew existed.

And if you’re after some projects to get your teeth into, go here to see 10 projects to get you started as a web writer and where to find prospective clients.

You can be a successful web writer … You can have a fun and exciting career. Just remember these four secrets:

  1. Choose a specialization (niche),
  2. Position yourself as an ideas person,
  3. Keep an eye out for other ways to help clients, and
  4. Charge what you’re worth.

Do these four things consistently and you’ll be on the path to living the writer’s life as a successful web writer.

Do you have any questions about the four secrets you need to be a successful web writer? Ask us your question in the Comments and we’ll help you out.

The Digital Copywriter's Handbook

The Digital Copywriter's Handbook

Learn how to become an in-demand online copywriter for companies big and small. Online copywriting expert Nick Usborne shows you how to write web copy that converts. Learn More »

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Published: July 16, 2020

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