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How to Define Your Value Proposition for Clients

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valueproposition“Why should I pay you X just to write me an article?” It’s a question we’ve all heard plenty of times, but many of us struggle to provide the right answer.

Spend enough time trolling job boards for work and you’ll start to believe quality freelance writers are a dime a dozen. Why would somebody pay you $100, $150, or even more to write for them, when a friendly freelancer in South Dakota is willing to churn out content for $4 or $5?

Let Me Share a Little Secret….

You might call yourself a freelance writer, but your actual writing isn’t the most important part of the service you provide. No, you’re selling a service that generates results for your client.

Blog posts don’t simply fill an empty website with words—they serve a purpose! The same can be said about any writing you offer to clients; from magazine articles to brochure copy, all of the the words you write perform a valuable function. For example, a feature story should keep existing readers interested and pull in a wider audience. A well-written flyer should entice would-be buyers.

Surprise, You’re a Marketer

The need for competent web writers continues to soar upwards, as businesses invest in content marketing. Notice, I didn’t say they’re paying for pretty prose. Nope, your customer needs you to write copy that converts and ultimately, lands them more money in the bank. Cha-ching.

It’s not about the writing; if your client doesn’t get that, they’ll baulk at paying you a decent wage.

It’s not about the writing itself, and if your client doesn’t get that, they’ll probably baulk at paying you a decent wage for your work. Unfortunately, many freelance writers don’t even understand what they’re selling. Buzzwords like traffic and engagement get thrown around like cheap candy at Halloween, but when it comes right down to it, the average freelance writer just knows they need to form coherent sentences.

Don’t fall into this trap, or you’re bound to be stuck in pitching hell for the rest of all eternity. Instead, clearly define your value proposition for customers. Not sure how to do that? Use the steps below to work it out.

1. Work with the Right Client

Listen, not to be a buzzkill, but a lot of clients just aren’t right for your business. Don’t waste your time trying to get a bad client to pay you more—it’s not gonna happen!

Treat your freelance writing like any other business operation. Define a target audience for your services, and then, put on your sales hat. Ask yourself, who would benefit most from my services? Here’s a little hint: everybody is not the right answer.

The right clients do not use content mills to populate their websites with boring content, and they don’t hover on Craigslist with job offers paying $5/post. Figure out who you want to work with and why. Ready, set…knock!

2. Address Pain Points

Before you do anything else, ask yourself the following question: why does this client need my writing services? The answer to this question is also the key to earning more money as a writer. Figure out why your skills are valuable.

Marketing solves a variety of different challenges. Well-written content results in more organic search traffic, helps turn casual visitors into qualified leads, and builds authority with readers. Those are three reasons you deserve more than $3 or $4, right off the bat.

Beyond the overall value of content creation, get specific with how that value can meet the needs of your customer. (If you haven’t already chosen your writing niche, get on it!) What do you bring to the table that somebody else can’t? Don’t be afraid to get really, really precise. This is how you stand out from the crowd.

For example, let’s say you’re a CPA or CFA. You’d make a great blog manager for a financial services firm, thanks to your experience, and you’ve decided to reach out to some potential clients. Now, how do you pitch this?

Too many query emails read like this:

Hi, I’m Lisa, and I’m a CPA. I know a lot about money management, and I believe I could deliver real value for your customers.

Well, great. Lisa knows how to write and thinks she can deliver “real value.” What the heck does that mean?!

Let’s give it another shot, shall we?

Hi, my name is Lisa. I’m a certified public accountant and have more than five years of experience guiding consumers to make better financial habits. By contributing to your blog, I’d establish your firm’s credibility through educational content and engage potential leads in conversation. I’m confident my posts would also boost your existing page rank and enlarge your audience. With time, this should lead to more sales for your business.

Whoa, Lisa’s worth suddenly just shot up, right?

3. Make it Easy to Get Started

So, you’ve made your pitch—don’t make your customer jump through 100 hoops to get started. Provide a really simple way for your client to bite.

Think of a traditional cover letter, when you sign off by inviting the recruiter to get in touch with you at their convenience. You want to provide the same suggestion when you pitch a potential client, but make it a bit more direct.

Gina Horkey provides a lot of great tools for new writers looking to get into the pitching game. In many of her pitch examples, she simply writes, “Hit reply to continue the conversation.” That’s a great way to show clients you’re ready to put the ball in motion.

Maybe you want to provide a short list of topic ideas you’ve generated? Perhaps you’d like to suggest hiring you for a one-off post, giving each of you a trial period to see how the partnership works out (this is a favorite method of mine.) Make that customer eager to take the next step and explain what you need to start working.

Put it into Practice

Okay, so you’ve hammered out the finer points of your value proposition–now what?

First, learn how to respond to the aforementioned question, “Why do you charge X?” If I sense trepidation on the part of a lead, I try to hammer home the selling points I mentioned under step #2. I shoot them an email that looks something like this:

Hi Tom,

I know that number can appear a bit intimidating at first glance. Let me explain how my content will work for you.

Before I begin writing, I thoroughly research the topic at hand and take some time to gather the long-tail keywords that will help your post rank highly in search traffic. I rely on a number of SEO tools to maximize the impact of my posts, and I’m well-versed in using headlines, keywords, and backlinks to reach the largest audience possible.

With time, you’ll see that these posts pull in lots of organic traffic from the search engines, while also converting your visitors into future buyers. Best of all, while you only pay me once for the blog post, you’ll be pulling in traffic as long as the article remains live on the web. Compare that to traditional PPC campaigns that charge you for every single visitor who comes to your blog!

If you’ve properly qualified your clients, you’ll probably find that this conversation takes place less and less.

Finally, remember that not everybody says yes. Some clients will ultimately pass over your work and go with another freelancer. That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, it simply means it wasn’t the right fit. Take a deep breath and try, try again.

What are your foolproof tips for demonstrating your value to clients?