Most people encounter B2B writing when they fall down the endless Internet rabbit hole of “how to get paid to write.”
There’s a reason for that!
Every year, B2B companies invest as much as $5.2 billion into their content marketing programs. And recent research shows that that investment is only going to grow in the years to come:
- 91% of brand marketers agree that expanding content creation capabilities is important to their organization’s long-term success (Skyword)
- 73% of those marketers will rely more on freelance creators over the next 1-2 years (Skyword)
- 52% of B2B marketers report their organization has only a small or one-person marketing team (Content Marketing Institute)
- 50% of B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity (Content Marketing Institute)
- Content creation is the activity B2B marketers are most likely to outsource, regardless of company size, content marketing budget, or overall content marketing success (Content Marketing Institute)
- The average annual budget for content marketing is $185,000, and 50% of marketing managers expect to increase that budget next year (Content Marketing Institute)
Source: Content Marketing Institute
If you want to build a career as a well-paid writer, it makes sense that you’re looking at B2B writing as a way to get paid to write. With just a little background knowledge about B2B marketing, you could be on the verge of an excellent freelance or in-house writing career with this type of writing.
In this guide, we want to break down the three most common ways writers get paid to write in B2B. First, there are the clients you’ll work with, which might be brands, agencies, or content publishers. And next, there are the most common kinds of marketing content you’ll write, which include white papers, blog articles, and case studies.
Be the Writer Brands Want to Hire
When you work for a brand as a B2B writer, you support the company’s marketing team directly. Since the average B2B company spends about 26% of its total marketing budget on content, that means there’s a pool of several thousand dollars they might invest in content projects you could work on. They’re hiring you to fulfill the marketing strategy they’re working on, and they often know just what they want. (Though they’re open to your input if you have experience with achieving the outcomes they want).
The title of the person who would hire you is something like the following:
- Marketing manager, content marketing manager
- Marketing director
- VP of marketing
- Director of marketing
The process of working with a brand looks something like this: they’ll start you with one small paid assignment, like a ghostwritten blog post. The quality of your writing is important, but so is your working style. Were you responsive by email? Did you do what you said you’d do? How graciously did you accept edits? Is your client’s life easier, less stressful, and a bit more fun?
When it comes to specialization, brands are likely to want to hire experts for specific kinds of content. For example, if you’re a white paper writer, tell them that! Then they can hire someone else for blog posts, someone else for social media, etc. This isn’t necessarily the case for getting paid to write by agencies, so it’s worth noting.
Want to learn more of the lingo of B2B writing? Click here to visit our resources section.
Be the Writer Agencies Want to Hire
B2B marketing agencies also hire writers. But the nature of the work is different because you don’t work for one brand; you work for a marketing company that serves many brands, sometimes as many as 10-15 at a time (even more at large, conglomerate agencies). When you start to work for a marketing agency, you might be “assigned” to a client. Over time they’ll expect you to learn more about their business, personality, tone, and style, and bring that into the writing.
The most important thing to note about getting paid by agencies is that they’ll often expect you to be a “jack of all trades” when it comes to marketing format. A client might need a landing page, then an email newsletter, then a blog post, then social media copy to promote that blog post, as well as a LinkedIn ad. And the writer they’ll want to write it is you!
Some people thrive in this environment, learning about a lot of different things at once. But others might feel frustration or overwhelm by having to switch gears so often. This might be why so many writers treat marketing agencies as a training ground to learn all about B2B marketing, figure out what they like, and then move on to freelance and specialize after 1-2 years in agency life.
Click here to see Influencer Marketing Hub’s in-depth list of the top B2B marketing agencies. Give this list a look and consider pitching them your services if you want to expand your portfolio of clients, formats, and industries. You’ll also want to note top content marketing agencies like Skyword, Animalz, and Influence & Co and boutique content studios like Fenwick and Campfire Labs.
Be the Writer Publishers Want to Hire
B2B marketing publishers are a fascinating hybrid of traditional journalism and modern digital marketing. Essentially, these companies create an ecosystem of excellent reporting on the B2B business world, publish 5-10 original pieces each day, then sell sponsorships of content and advertisements to companies that want to reach those audiences.
Here’s a fascinating scenario you might encounter as you start to work with these three different kinds of clients. It’s just fascinating:
A brand works with their marketing agency to pay for a paid advertisement on a publisher’s website. You might get the assignment from the brand, the marketing agency, or the publisher to complete that piece of work! Which is why it pays to diversify your client mix for all three kinds of writing.
Publishers are looking for slightly different things in their B2B writers than brands and marketing agencies. These organizations put out high-performance pieces at a high volume, so they need a writer who can jump right in. That writer will come in, assess the topic and the goal, interview experts, and turn around an extremely high-quality first draft that resonates with an executive audience.
The most important qualification you can possess to work with these kinds of publishers is to be an extremely good writer and extremely easy to work with. That means you can write well and quickly, and you can respond to email and schedule interviews within 24-48 hours.
Connecting with and doing a great job for these publishers is an excellent way to get paid to write, but it can come at the cost of predictability. Because publishers sell content as a product, the timelines are often very short and they can assign you to a project on short notice. For some writers, that’s exhilarating — for others, that is frustrating.
Some of the most prominent publishers today include Industry Dive, FierceMarkets, and SmartBrief. There are also many niche trade publishers that also offer sponsored content opportunities for brands, so when you’re considering different ways to get paid to write, you can typically research your niche to uncover even more opportunities.
Get Paid to Write in B2B
B2B marketers, agencies, and publishers use content marketing to do four important things: build brand awareness, secure leads, nurture leads, and convert leads. It’s all about helping the reader understand the company, make a connection, and choose to buy.
Here’s an image from the Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 B2B Marketing Benchmarks showing the types of content that are most effective at achieving these goals:
Source: Content Marketing Institute
Get Paid to Write White Papers
When you write a white paper for a B2B company, you’re helping them do one of two things: build brand awareness by establishing thought leadership or nurturing leads by explaining a product or service in-depth. Both of these purposes are valuable because it helps companies connect with potential customers in a beautiful, downloadable format. And according to the 2020 B2B Marketing Benchmarks from Content Marketing Institute, 55% of B2B marketers put out white papers within the last 12 months.
We often ridicule the term “thought leadership” as meaningless jargon, but it’s a helpful way of describing marketing content that shares powerful ideas with a prospective audience. In many industries, the strength of a company’s ideas or the leadership of their executive team is a huge draw of new business. Shaping those ideas, putting them into the white paper format, and sharing it with new customers is a great way to do that.
White papers that focus on products and services help companies introduce N.I.C.E products to marketing, products that are New, Innovative, Complex, or Expensive. This is the kind of content a potential customer would download to get more information about a company before they reach out to set up an appointment, attend a demo, or make a purchase.
Click here to learn more about how to get paid to write white papers in B2BWI’s free Foundations of B2B Writing Course.
Get Paid to Write Blog Articles
When you write a blog article for a company, you might be helping them do several things, such as: thought leadership and brand awareness; search engine optimization (SEO); or capture, nurture, and convert leads. And according to the 2020 B2B Marketing Benchmarks from Content Marketing Institute, 89% of B2B marketers put out blog posts and short articles within the last 12 months and 38% put out long-form articles of more than 3,000 words.
One of the most popular kinds of blog articles today is ghostwritten thought leadership. This is a scenario where you might interview an executive at a company for 30-60 minutes, and then write up their thoughts in a 500-750 word blog article. Another popular approach is to assign you a title and a content brief on a particular SEO keyword and topic, then ask you to deliver a 500-750 word blog article about it.
The length of a blog post can vary, too. Few companies publish short blog posts of 300 words or less any more for SEO reasons. More often than not, companies are looking for a range of 500-750 words, 750-1200 words, or 1200-1500 words for a blog post. Longer than that, you’ll often start to see it form into a white paper, microsite, or eBook for ease of reading. There are exceptions to this, of course, as some companies want to create cornerstone content that runs into the 3000+ word count range.
Click here to learn more about how to get paid to write blog articles in B2BWI’s free Foundations of B2B Writing Course.
Get Paid to Write Case Studies
When you write a case study for a company, you are typically helping them nurture and convert leads. This is because case studies are so specific and promotional about a company’s product or service that very few people want to read it unless they already have interest in the company already. And according to the 2020 B2B Marketing Benchmarks from Content Marketing Institute, 69% of B2B marketers put out case studies within the last 12 months.
Case studies are powerful not because they promise the reader will get the same results as the company in the case study. Case studies are powerful because they draw the reader into the story of what a company was able to accomplish as a result of having access to these tools or services. The WHO and the HOW might change, but well-written case studies connect readers to the universal WHAT, the outcome they hope to achieve for their company.
Click here to learn more about how to get paid to write case studies in B2BWI’s free Foundations of B2B Writing Course.
Plug into a system that needs content every month
The purposes and outcomes we’re writing about in this article are not comprehensive. Brands, agencies, and publishers use white papers, blog articles, and case studies (and many more formats!) to do so many things. Here’s a shortlist of content marketing goals that’s still not comprehensive:
Source: Content Marketing Institute
And that brings us to the real reason B2B writing is one of the best ways to get paid to write: more often than not, you’re plugging into a content engine that needs content from you on a regular monthly basis. You’re not out there hunting for new projects every month or every day like you might in other forms of writing. B2B companies investing in content marketing are doing so with a strategy and a plan, and they need your help to fulfill that plan. All you have to do is learn about B2B marketing and start practicing your B2B writing skills and you’ll be able to find regular, recurring clients to work with — and get paid to write.
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