By Elaine Yue
“You’re an idiot.”
That’s what I told myself after I spent three hours writing a 500-word article for a content mill.
What did it pay?
A whopping $5.
When I had decided I would do some freelance writing to “make some extra cash,” I had no idea that writing a 500-word article would take hours.
There was no way I would make money like this.
I start to dig
By luck, I came across the Make a Living Writing blog. My entire perception changed.
I could actually make money writing!
I joined the Freelance Writer’s Den and read everything. I was sure these tips would bring me a high-paying gig immediately.
But I quickly realized I had a problem.
I had no idea where to begin.
All of these tips were great, but they were coming from veteran writers who already had a marketing plan in place. They already had prestigious clips and connections. One tweet and the gigs would roll in.
I had no clips.
I had no connections.
How was a newbie writer supposed to start?
Mind-mapping a marketing plan
I decided to mind-map a specific plan:
1. I answered:
- Who am I serving?
- What do they want?
- What fears keep them up at night?
- What problems can I solve for them?
- Where can I find them?
My mind map helped me organize my thoughts so I had a cohesive plan. Otherwise, I was left thinking, “I’ll try this technique” or “I should try that technique.” This process gave me a more concrete road map to follow.
2. I built a prospect list using Manta, Linkedin, Jigsaw, and Google. Using Manta’s data, I identified health supplement companies with $1 million-$5 million in annual revenue — my target audience.
3. I created a website with a blog to use as samples.
4. Using tips from the Den and Ed Gandia’s Warm Email Prospecting class (yes, I did find it through this blog, and that is Carol’s affiliate link), and working with the answers to my questions about customers’ needs (getting more customers, educating shoppers about health concerns), I created this email:
Congrats on becoming an Authorized Distributor of [Vendor] → trigger event
I read a press release that [Company] has become an Authorized Distributor of [Vendor] – congrats! → trigger event
I’m contacting you because I help nutritional supplement companies write newsletters, blogs, and marketing material that help convey their messages clearly and effectively to customers. And I have some ideas on how you can convey your message to your very specific and special target audience. → value statement
Let me know if you’re interested in discussing further. No sales pitch — just seeing if we might have a good fit. → call to action
Finally, a client!
When a client called me, I realized how great timing and an effective pitch were instrumental in landing me the gig.
He had been thinking about creating better content for his customers and increasing his Google ranking.
So when I said that I was a health writer who could write effective content, it was a no-brainer.
The gig: four blog posts and two landing pages for $1,000. Every month.
Tweaking my plan
I am by no means on easy street — yet. My marketing plan is still a work in progress. But for us newbies trying to escape the content mill trap, any plan is better than no plan.
So take all of the tips from the Den and other sources, create a plan, and I guarantee you will get your first client.
Elaine Yue is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in the health supplement and insurance industries.
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