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Selling Yourself As A Freelance Business Writer: Skills Or Knowledge?

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You know the secret to a long-term, and profitable, client relationship is delivering effective communication tools. But you may not realize that the impact of your writing has more to do with your skill as a writer than with your knowledge of the subject.

And unless you help your clients understand the value of your skills, you limit your opportunities to sell those skills again and again.

Every business has its own specialists, people who know more about their products and services than you’ll ever know. So why can’t they produce great marketing copy, clear user guides, or truly effective training for their employees and sales reps?

Because they don’t have the skills that you do, the talent for communicating with impact to achieve specific results. We’ve all met experts who “know their stuff” but can’t share their knowledge — perhaps your math or physics or French teacher, or an engineer or programmer in a company you know, or even your doctor, lawyer, or insurance agent.

At some point, a company realizes they need help communicating, educating prospects, customers, and their own employees about the benefits and best practices associated with their products and services. They go looking for outside help . . . and then they forget why!

Your long-term success depends on reminding them of that need for communication skills. Most of these experts, whether clinicians or programmers or engineers or legal experts are more comfortable talking to people just like themselves, rather than creative types like artists and writers.

Left to themselves, they’ll hire someone who knows a lot about their area but perhaps writes only a little better than they do. And a year or two later, they’ll be looking for someone else to help them when they realize that all the copy and training content and documentation they have churned out has produced mediocre results.

Help yourself and help your clients.

When you get an opportunity to talk to a prospect about creating effective communications for them, keep pushing the conversation toward the skills they need to pull it off. Make sure they understand their own need for someone different from the resources they already have in-house. Help them recognize that your skills complement their knowledge, that it is that combination that produces results in the form of higher revenues, more customers, or enhanced employee performance.

Even if you know their subject matter well, your skills are more important. After all, should their product line change, or new markets open, they may be dealing with a new body of knowledge in a year or two.

But their need for effective communication will remain, and, if you’ve positioned yourself as the “communication expert” of their team, you’ll continue to have opportunities for business from existing clients even as their business practices and markets change.

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