SEO Copywriters: 3 Ways to Proceed When Faced with Clients Who Know Nothing About Internet Marketing / Content Writing


Today, I continue to answer the slew of questions that have come in over the last week or so. Today’s question is a doozy – and could really be an ebook within itself (hmmmm, my wheels are turning). In the interest of time though (one of my best friends is visiting from New York, and my work days are shortened for the next week or so), I’m going to give an abridged answer.

The following is a problem a lot of freelance writers (especially SEO writers) have, and in my opinion it’s because many prospective clients still don’t understand the role of SEO copywriters. Following is the exact question (it’s a long one). My response follows. This new SEO article writer wrote:

Hi Yuwanda,

I’m a new SEO writer following your “Make $250/day and $50-75K/year Writing SEO Articles” e-book. Well, it works! I’ve got my site up, I’ve been diligent about my article marketing, I got my first order within a week of marketing and queries, the client paid me (cha-ching!) and left me a nice testimony (emphasis added).

Right after that I got awarded a feature writer position for an online news outlet. Now a potential client is asking for a big project and possibly a long-term commitment. I do not know how to approach this project. I would appreciate your thoughts.

It’s a church. They have a bookstore and want a website with an e-store. I told my contact that I am not a web developer, but I know how to write SEO content for pages and sales copy. If they want a blog or fresh content, I could write that for them. I gave him my website address with my rates page, bio, etc.

He emailed me back, wanting to know my professional background, magazines and companies I have written for, and “did he miss this information on my website?”

He did, but I sent him links to sample articles on my bigger client’s websites, and told him where my print articles have been published. I explained that I was self-employed, and a bit about what “freelance” means. This is a person who started out his initial inquiry with a “I know nothing about the Internet and you do” kind of thing.

He emailed me again with this: “For the executives on the bookstore board, can you make a more powerful presentation that they can easily see and say, “Wow! She’s really the right person.”

I know where the guy is coming from, having been in churches all my life. This guy basically got suckered into the “talent scout” position in the search committee for someone to get their new website up. Most likely, the “executives” are retired businessmen and older professionals who are email literate at best. They do not know what they want, other than “a website,” and they do not know who to trust.

I am assuming what the board wants to see is site analytics. Traffic increases, conversion rates, customer satisfaction statements, etc. I don’t have that. I can tell them how SEO and backlinks work, but I am not a web developer.

I would love to have this client project, but I am not sure what to say or do at this point. In you e-book, it sounds like it’s supposed to go like my first client did: “I need X articles, here’s the keywords, when can you have them ready?” Done and done. I did not read anything about putting together a big project proposal with charts and graphs in a board room.

What do you suggest I do from here?

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My Answer

Before I answer this freelancer’s question, ie, “where do you suggest I go from here,” let’s back up a bit.

As I mentioned above, many clients who aren’t used to working with freelance writers, especially SEO writers, may be confused about exactly what it is we do.

I touched on this in last week’s post which dealt with how to determine which services to offer as an SEO writer, writing:

You see, many clients don’t understand the difference between a full-fledged IM firm and an SEO content writing company.

Internet marketing firms charge thousands of dollars for the services they offer – especially stuff like web analysis and devising an SEO content strategy. And the reason is, they have to analyze the “big picture,” then figure out which parts need to be tweaked, revised, added, deleted to get a website’s rank to improve. This includes delving deeply into a site – analyzing everything from its navigational structure, to its content offerings, to its products and services.

My firm can fulfill the SEO content needs of this “big picture” analysis. And, that’s the reason that when IM firms come to us, they already know what keywords they want us to write on, how many articles a site needs, how often, etc.

This is what it sounds like this freelancer’s potential client needs – an internet marketing firm that provides a wide range of services.

SEO Copywriters: 3 Ways to Proceed When Faced with a Client Who Wants You to “Do Everything”

As an SEO copywriter, this freelancer can proceed in three ways. She can . . .

I. Clarify service offerings: Do this by explaining the difference between an internet marketing firm and an SEO writing company, as I spoke about in last week’s post. Then, tell the client the exact services her SEO WRITING company provides.

This would be my advice for this freelancer because by her own admission, she’s new. When you’re new to SEO writing, there’s a lot to learn. And, it’s not because learning the ins and outs of SEO writing is difficult; it’s all the other stuff that comes with it, eg, running a business, setting service offerings, invoicing clients, setting and meeting deadlines, etc.

FYI, a lot of this is discussed in How to Build a Six-Figure Freelance Business by Outsourcing (The Freelance Writer’s Outsource Package).

I always advise that freelancers get some time under their belt just learning “how to freelance” before doing anything like bringing on other freelancers, teaming up with others, etc. – which brings me to my next suggestion.

II. Team Up: Team up with an internet marketing (IM) firm to provide everything the client wants. She can handle the content needs; the IM firm can handle everything else.

III. Expand Service Offerings: Provide everything the client wants. I strongly advise against this if you don’t know search engine optimization inside and out. One of the reasons SEO consultants and full-fledged internet marketing firms charge so much is because there’s a lot to know – eg, keyword density, page rank, black hat tactics, white hat tactics, organic search, pay per click, site navigation, web development – the field is vast.

See this post to gain further insight on what to do when you’re confronted with clients who don’t know what they want – from a consultative standpoint.

More related reading: SEO Copywriters: How to Make an Extra $61,880 This Year.

UPDATE: I logged on later in the evening to find the following email from this freelancer. She wrote:

Excellent! Thank you!

I did exactly that- tutored him, using the analogy of a home builder, and me as a sub-contracting plumber. I told him what to look for when shopping for a SEO copy writer- all things I provide: originality, native English speaker, meets/guarantees deadlines, voice, etc.

While I was waiting for a reply, I contacted a fellow copywritng buddy and asked if we could team up if this project turned out big- of course she said yes. I also contacted a small web design firm I know so I could be ready to offer more than I could do.

He did reply with a “WOW!” He was complementary, had passed my “tutorial” on to the committee, and said he had received encouraging comments so far.

I love the idea of offering something like an article marketing package for them. This way I could capture at least some of that project. Thank you so much for that idea and all of your suggestions.

Although this SEO writer took the route I least advised, she obviously had been giving it some thought and had some contacts she could reach out to, which is great. I emailed back thatt I hoped it worked out for her, and asked her to keep me updated so I could share her progress.

If she does, I’ll post it right here, of course. So, stay tuned!

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P.S.: Earn $250+/Day Writing Simple Web Content? Here’s the blueprint I used to start my SEO writing career.

P.P.S.: Don’t Know a Thing about SEO but Want to Start this Recession-Proof Career? Get SEO Copywriter Training.


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2 Comments so far

  1. […] Update 2/23: Get the answer to this SEO writing question. […]

  2. […] This is a good example of a time when a consultation fee might be in order. […]