How to start a content writing business in 2021?
After a point as an expert content writer, your career can get monotonous. We often wonder what is the next thing on our checklist?
Is it a bigger paycheck?
Is it a career change?
Or is it starting your content writing business?
There are many content writing businesses in the market, and thus starting a new one may seem pointless. Well, if that were the case, nobody would ever start a new business due to the tough competition. And what if I tell you that there is enough cake for all of us?
Blogs are among the primary three forms of media used in content strategies today.HubSpot, 2020
Since blogs are such an integral part of content marketing, content writing will hold the test of time. Thus, you can stop questioning the idea and embrace it. The next question in your head might be how to start a content writing business and the steps you must keep in mind to create your own. Well, glad you clicked on this blog, we will discuss how to start a content writing business.
- What is a content writing agency?
- Do this before you start an agency
- Gain clarity about your goals
- Define your processes
- Hiring your team
What is a content writing agency?
A content writing agency is an agency that focuses on delivering various content pieces like blog posts, video scripts, social media posts, emails, white papers, eBooks, etc., on helping other businesses with their marketing effort. The clients can range from companies that sell products and services to individuals maintaining a digital persona or brand, aka influencers. The content for each client will differ since the intent for the use of content is different.
Businesses aim to sell their products, and therefore their content will be educational with a subtle reference to their product and nudge of encouragement to buy their products. At the same time, a public personality, founder of a company or an influencer’s content will be focused on curating information for their audience.
Moreover, the focus would be on quantity of the content to be consistent on their respective platform. The content would also be platform-specific- thus, if your agency is supposed to write YouTube scripts, the content will be longer, but if you need to write scripts for Instagram reels, the content will be short.
Once you understand your clients, making money will be a heck of a lot easier than before. Another factor that will help you earn more will understand the role of content in content marketing.
Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads.Demand Metric
Business is simple: the more you can contribute to the success of other companies, the more you can earn. Thus, as a content writing agency, the more you focus on delivering quality content, the more you can make.
Plus, the demand for content now is enormous, considering that 7.5 million blogs are published every day. If there are so many blogs and every business wants to reap the benefits of content marketing, the amount of content they need rises every day. Thus, the demand for your services is increasing, and it is the perfect time to start a content writing agency.
Do this before you start an agency
You cannot build a kingdom without laying the foundation first. Thus, before you start taking steps, you need to lay some groundwork to make your agency the go-to place for their content needs. So, these are the two things you need to do before starting an agency:
Pick a few niches
People who started their agencies in the early 2000s had an advantage over us: they began when the algorithms were not that advanced. So, they wrote a blog and stuffed a bunch of keywords to rank on google. However, today, the algorithms are refined, and the competition is tough. Clients want to put their money on experts at what they do, and thus you need to leverage that factor.
Therefore, look back on your career and see the niches you enjoyed working on the most and the ones that pay the most. Or you can check our blog on 8 best content writing topics in 2021. When you find those niches, note them down and brainstorm the services you would like to offer in each niche. If you are confused about the service type, this list will help you:
· Blog posts
· Social media posts
· Video scripts
Another thing you should consider is if it’s sustainable? You have to realise that you are in it for the long haul. Thus, researching the longevity of the industries you are picking will also help you prevent any heart attacks later down the years. After all this hard work (kudos to you), determine your unique selling proposition. What separates you from your competition will be your USP and will help you win over more clients.
Analyse your strengths and weaknesses as a business person
An expert content writer has excellent skills in terms of writing, but as a company owner, you need to do more than just writing. You can sustain a content writing agency on your writing skills, but if you want to scale and increase your content writing business, you need to acquire the following skills too:
Marketing: You may have an idea about marketing, but as a business owner, you need to have a person on your team who has a more profound knowledge of digital and content marketing. You may hire a marketer, but as a new business, resources at your disposal are few, and thus you may have to acquire marketing skills. No worries, there are free courses available online that can help you understand marketing better.
Project management: I am pretty sure that you want to eventually take yourself away from the business without the content writing agency falling apart. And that is possible only when you have systems in place to manage your project. It not only removes dependency but also allows for a seamless experience. Moreover, it will help you scale more and faster. Thus, always have processes in place and document them.
Accounting: Accounting is like the boring part of the business but also the one that can make or break your business. If you do not manage money, you will run into trouble. You need to follow tax regulations, pay your employees, maintain an emergency fund, send invoices to your clients, etc. Thus, you can either buy software to manage it for you or take a course on accounting. They are available online, and they will help you initially. After you have some moolah in your account, you can hire an accountant.
Leadership: Let’s bust a myth for you: leadership is a skill, and you can become a leader. Yes, some people are natural leaders, but you can acquire the necessary skills if you want to become a leader. You need to polish your people skills and motivate your team when things seem too dark. Moreover, since it’s your agency, you will develop a fierce urge to protect your company. Thus, you will develop some leadership along the way naturally. However, you can become a better leader by observing the present and past leaders.
Communication skills: Managing a team and leading them is one thing; managing clients is another thing. If you have freelancing experience, you know how to deal with them. If not, you need to learn how to negotiate, communicate, and keep your clients happy. Books and courses will come to your rescue if you feel it’s out of your hand.
If you cannot handle all of these aspects alone and just want to stay on the creative side of things, you can find a business partner who is the yin to your yang. The business partner can handle aspects of the business you are not comfortable with, and you can take care of the company’s creative side.
Gain clarity about your goals
If you made it this far, kudos to you, you have a strong foundation for your business. We can start working towards defining and gaining clarity on your goals. The more clear and defined your goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. Moreover, we will also talk about your priorities and finally draw up a business plan. Let’s get the party started!
What was the reason?
There must be some reason that pushed you to either quit freelancing or working full time. It may be because you were bored of your 9-5, wanted to earn more, wanted to scale your freelancing career, wanted to build a business and have control over your free time, etc. Whatever your reasons, gain clarity about your motives.
Why? Because you need to understand your motivation and introspect a bit to formulate your goals accordingly. If your goals and reasons are not aligned, you will find it harder to achieve your goals since both are clashing.
- If you want to become independent and have more free time, your goal would be to automate and delegate as much as possible.
- If you are bored, your goal should be to work with clients that excite you.
- If you want to earn more, your goals can be working with international clients that pay more than the Indian ones.
Thus, defining your motivations/reasons/priorities helps you make better goals and avoid the constant inner-clash.
SMART is an actionable framework that helps you gain clarity for your goals. The vagueness of goals often results in not achieving your goals, and that’s NOT what we want. Thus, making goals according to the SMART framework looks like this:
- Onboard two clients this week
- Hire 3 content writers in a specific industry within two months.
- Get ten blog posts from freelance writers and in-house writers within one month.
- Make a month’s worth of content calendar for Instagram within a week.
Thus, making SMART goals in alignment with your priorities will increase the chances of achieving the goal.
Goals are not enough to do a successful business; you need a business plan. It not only protects you but also helps you succeed faster. A business plan indicates your seriousness and commitment to your business. When you initiate a discussion with a financial institution for a business loan to scale your content writing agency, the bank will ask for it. When you look for a business partner (now or in the future), you need a business plan.
As a freelancer, you may have a business plan ready. You can tweak it a bit to accommodate the scale of the content writing business. If not, you can start making a business plan. You can find plenty of resources to create business plans, and the internet is your oyster!
Define your processes
This is probably the step that people don’t particularly like because it lays the importance of processes that may seem like creativity-killers. Creativity dies under rigidity, right? Wrong!
Processes will help you hone your creativity and give you the necessary canvas to create content. Imagine if an artist was assigned to paint without a canvas; the stress of picking the perfect place to paint would be exhausting. Using a canvas limits the area they need to paint but paradoxically frees the artist’s mind to paint their masterpiece.
Similarly, processes give you the necessary limitations to free your mind to hone creativity and write amazing content. Thus, processes are essential for a content writing agency. Plus, processes will help you delegate work faster and scale better than not having them.
Building and documenting processes
It is not enough to build processes, and it is also necessary to document the processes. It is one thing to create a strategy and completely different to document them. Do not let your processes be limited to your employees only because they will get diluted when you hire more people. Thus, document your processes, and spare yourself the work to explain everything to your newer employees.
A process framework for a content writing business
Here’s a general framework you can use to build your processes. Tweak it accordingly; here is just a generalised guide to help you:
Identify high-frequency tasks: There are some tasks that occur frequently and are easiest to standardise. They can be client onboarding, hiring, invoicing, content creation, keyword research, etc. As I said, you can have more or fewer tasks that are high-frequency.
Document: Once you have a list, make a Google doc or sheet to document the process. Google docs and sheets are better ways of documenting since you can give access easily. Google sheet is more functional and is capable of building checklists too. Thus using Google sheets is a better way of documenting it.
Automation: If you are able to automate any part of the process, do it. Maybe not immediately, but eventually when you have the capital to invest. Automation will make your life easy and is cheaper in the longer run. You can automate accounting, analytics, email marketing, etc., to help you build your content writing agency’s growth.
Templates: If you can make templates for various aspects of your business, do it to save time and energy. PPTs for pitching to clients can be a template and help you pitch your services with a bit of tweaking. You can also make templates for each niche you are targeting to increase your chances of conversion. You can also create templates for your social media posts to save time and energy. Moreover, if you are tight on resources, making templates will save costs too.
Share: You’ve done the hard part, now is the time to share the processes with your team. Just create a Google Drive folder and share the access of the entire folder with the person. You can even add a “how to use the folder”, to erase any doubts. It will make onboarding easier for you and them since you save time and the new employees can refer to the documents when in doubt.
Make changes: Are your processes working? The only people who can tell are you and your team, and thus you should ask for changes and revisions—experimenting with what works and what doesn’t will help you create better processes that give your results. Go with your experience and gut, and if something doesn’t work out, know that it’s part of the process. You can use the feedback to improve your processes.
Hiring your team
You can start with just yourself and your partner, but you need to hire a team when you begin bagging big clients. You may have employed on and off freelancers, but eventually, you need a stable team that will stay by your side and bring higher efficiency to the table.
And it may seem expensive to hire people, but you need to understand that the right people who fit in with your culture and are good at what they do will bring in immense value that will drive up your revenue. Good employees are like an investment. Plus, you eventually want to create a machine that works without your involvement, which requires employees.
So, now that we have established that hiring employees is the way to go forward, you need three kinds of employees for your content writing business:
- Content writers and editors
- Support staff
- Strategists and marketers
Content writers and editors
The backbone of a content writing agency is content writers and editors (no shit, Sherlock). Therefore, the first set of people you will hire will be writers and editors. Content writers will follow the brief and write content, and editors will edit it and make changes accordingly. Initially, you might hire only writers, and you can act as the editor. Eventually, you will have other responsibilities and thus need to hire editors.
The hard part is finding good content writers and editors. A job application will reel in many candidates, making it challenging for you to find a match. Instead, you can use LinkedIn, Instagram, and job portals to look for writers. Albeit, it is a lengthy process, but eventually, it is better than posting a vacancy. You may try job postings too, and see which one suits your needs. However, looking for writers on the internet is better.
Moreover, instead of asking for long samples, ask for their portfolio to gauge their writing styles and thought processes. If they do not have a portfolio, you may ask for short samples. Once you find their work adequate, onboard them and start growing together, do not forget to protect your intellectual property and client information through contracts and NDAs.
The next group of people you require is under the category of support staff. IT support, accountants, account managers, HR fall under the support staff category. You can decide to hire full-time or freelancers for each of these categories. Depending on your content writing business’ needs, the number of people you will rely on, and only you and your business partner will help you.
Strategists and marketers
This category is the one that will help you increase your presence and market your services. They will also help shape strategies for your clients, and you can add their services to your business. Since they complement your current services, their addition will help your clients immensely. Moreover, they will help establish your brand’s growth too, and since your expertise lies in writing content, marketers and strategists will assist you in the skills you lack.
You made it this far. Congratulations, you are ready to rock the content writing space! Look, I won’t try to claim that the journey won’t be challenging and you won’t have days when you want to quit. But, nothing that’s worthwhile is easy. We have limited control and can only prepare ourselves for the challenges of everyday life. Plus, building something from scratch is equally exciting and terrifying. Both emotions are there to help you make the best of your situation. Content starter wishes you all the best for your journey.