One of the questions I’m always trying to answer for new writers is, “How do I make sure I’m the writer they want to hire?”
The answer to this question is going to take a whole career to figure out. (Hence B2BWI). But I enjoy breaking that process down into simple parts whenever I can.
One area of focus that can greatly increase your chances of being the writer they want to hire is by building B2B writing processes.
B2B writing processes refer to any part of your business relationship with a client.
You might have templates and quick start questions for the writing work you’re doing. But do you have templates for creating a client proposal, or quick start questions for your prospecting call?
Those are specific processes you can develop once and then use over and over again. The result is that you get better and faster at that part of the work, and the clients you work with will get a smoother, more consistent experience.
Levels of B2B Writing Processes
In the Holistic Pricing Rubric for B2B Writers (download it here), you can see the evolution of B2B writing processes for most writers from beginner to intermediate to advanced:
|Beginner||“Seat of Your Pants Planning”|
When you first start out, you’re willing to give it your best shot, but you’re more or less making it up as you go.
|Intermediate||“Pretty Darn Good”|
When you get some experience, you can now guide your clients in the right direction. However, sometimes you still feel a little unsure if you are really the one leading the conversation or the process.
|Advanced||“Seamless, Reliable Experience”|
When you have achieved process mastery, you have “operations” and “processes” you walk clients through so they have a controlled experience and know what to expect from you.
In the beginner stage, you are going along with the client’s processes (if they have them). If the client doesn’t have them, it’s the Wild Wild West and things can feel chaotic. Boundary problems might pop up. Scope creep is imminent. You may or may not know when you will be paid.
In the intermediate stage, you have done this before. You may not always know the best next step, but you know what “normal” should feel like, so your instincts can tell you to check in with a friend if something not-normal is happening. You can also clearly tell clients what the next step is, wherever you are in the process of working with them.
In the advanced stage, you are bringing a client through a curated experience. You calmly and confidently let them know the terms of working with you (even if you are flexible about some of them). You bring the process, the next steps, the operations that allow them to have a successful content experience with you.
Processes Every B2B Writer Needs
There’s no rule book to follow about processes. But in 10 years of working with every kind of client a writer could possibly work with, I have seen some patterns arise that have allowed me to deliver a very finely tuned client experience.
I have a lot of clients come back to work with me and refer me on to other people — and those are the two signs I look to in order to see if my processes are good ones.
I’ll update this list the more I think about it, but here’s what I consider to be the important B2B writing processes you want to get in place over time in order to become more and more in-demand:
B2B Writing Process #1: Project Proposals and Invoicing
When a client first reaches out to you, you know how to move them from a prospect to a client.
First, you have a few go-to questions that help you run an efficient prospecting call to see if you’re a good fit.
Then, you have a basic framework of the projects you work on that you can quickly share with a client as a project proposal.
And finally, you have a process for invoicing for the work you do so you can get paid when you need to.
B2B Writing Process #2: Scheduling and Capacity Planning
When you add work to your calendar, you have a strong sense of when you’ll get it done and how long it will take you. You’ve already blocked out your vacations, time off, and research time for other projects.
When you stack projects into your calendar, you know if you’ve built a reasonable workload for a given period of time.
B2B Writing Process #3: Using Technology to Organize Content
When you get new information from a client in your inbox or by phone, you have a system you use to capture that information and keep it safe for when you need it.
If a client sends you 10 PowerPoints “for research,” you have a place to put them where they won’t get lost, and you’ll see them when you are ready to get started writing.
B2B Writing Process #4: Editorial Processes
You know how to break one big project into four or five reasonable steps. You can help a client navigate their team through those steps, and you can do so confidently.
When they want to circumvent those steps, you can tell them why that’s not a great idea and the consequences that might come about if they don’t follow a clear editorial process.
Writing Processes and Systems Evolve Over Time and Become “Yours”
Like I said, this list can’t be comprehensive. But when I think about the absolute minimum you need to be able to offer a client a smooth, enjoyable experience… it includes these four parts!
The processes and systems that will make up your client experience will morph and change over time. It will rarely be perfect. But every time you take a new prospecting call, job interview, or SME interview, you’ll know you’re contributing to a system you’ll be able to use over and over again… and that’s a beautiful thing.