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If you’re a freelance web worker in 2013, man, these are exciting times. Am I right?
A few years ago, “going freelance” was a viable option only for those with a handful of skillsets: web developers, designers, illustrators, copywriters, and maybe a couple others.
But things are changing and changing fast. We’re in the midst of a web startup boom. Folks are launching innovative ideas all over the place. A few that caught my attention recently are Informly (your most important stats all in one view), Leeflets (a simple CMS, can’t wait to see the beta), Post Status (content stream of hand-picked WordPress News), Tweaky (marketplace for simple website tweaks), ManageWP (manage all your WP installs in one place), just to name a few of the top of my head. Everywhere you turn, someone is gaining traction with a new, pain-busting solution.
But this is not a post about coming up with the next winning starting idea. It’s about the opportunities this startup culture presents for freelance web workers.
Are you getting tired of churning out WordPress website after website for clients? Is managing SEO for clients getting more competitive and less rewarding? Have some specialized skills but don’t know how to package and monetize them?
Here a couple ideas that I think are perfectly under-served and ripe for some talented freelancers to go after and make a name for themselves.
Now, obviously I haven’t taken the time to validate these (you’d do that by talking with potential customers, etc.). But I can tell you these are things that I’d pay someone to do if they rock at that particular skill.
I’ll give you access to my Google Analytics account, my KISSmetrics, MixPanel accounts, and any other tools I use to track metrics of my startups, and you give me the actionable take-aways from that data. You analyze the data week to week, find the trends and patterns, figure out what’s working, what’s not, and put it in a simple report that’s easy for me to digest and do something with.
It’s so crucially important for startups to be data-driven these days. But many startup founders (like me) aren’t data hounds. I excel at wireframing ideas, building things, and strategizing. But when I start looking at rows and columns of stats, conversion rates, and the like, my eyes glaze over. I get it, I just don’t enjoy it. And when I don’t enjoy doing something, I don’t give it the time and attention it deserves. That’s where you come in.
You could give your clients weekly reports, customized to their situation. You can charge by the hour, or put together monthly retainer packages. Or maybe even charge a percentage of increased revenue you generate for your client. There are lots of ways to run with this.
Newsflash: (Killer) Content Marketing became insanely important in the last year or two. Much more-so than ever. Google’s algorithm changes, coupled with the increased reach of (real) social media (that is — real people recommending real content that gives them real value), makes content marketing a must for any web-based business. In other words, your startup better come with an awesome blog.
But building an awesome blog takes tons of time and dedication. Most startup founders and small teams don’t have the time, particularly if they’re bootstrapped. So it’s something that must be outsourced.
OK – so hop on Elance and hire a few writers, right? Well, it’s not that easy. A truly effective blog requires much more work than just typing 800 words on a weekly basis. Keyword research, topic research, editorial calendar development, expert interviews, source attribution, list-building, emailing articles, networking with other bloggers and influencers, guest blogging, social media promotion, article imagery, etc. ALL of these things need to be dialed in if your startup’s blog will be worth it’s investment.
So here’s what I’m suggesting to all of you freelance writers: Go beyond just being an “article writer” and be a “full service blogger”. Do all of the things I listed above. Your deliverable to the startup is an awesome blog that runs itself (run by you). Dayne at Ghost Blog Writers is on the right track with this idea. There has never been a better time to pursue this path.
Lets take this content marketing path a step further, shall we?
Building trust in your space by pushing out great content isn’t just about blog articles. Podcasts have been around forever, but seem to really be catching on with a wider audience in recent years.
A podcast is a very effective channel for building an audience and building exposure for your company. But like anything else, podcasting is a lot of work.
Sure, technically, it’s easier than ever. But creating and sustaining a killer podcast is no easy task. You need to plan show topics, schedule big-name guests, plan your questions or talking points, edit the audio or video, upload to YouTube or other channels, email your list, yadda yadda.
What if startups could hire a freelance podcaster? As a freelance podcaster, you’d dive into the startup’s space and learn everything you can about it. Research who the big names are, the hot topics, etc. Then you host and broadcast the show on a weekly basis, and build that audience for your client (not to mention, making a name for yourself in the process).
Every startup needs an engaging video to put on their homepage, explaining what they do in a 60 second nutshell. It’s as much about video production as it is about copywriting and marketing.
As a video producer specializing in web startups, you bring these mix of skills to the table and help your startup clients tell their story and convert more visitors to users.
I could go on all day brainstorming new and different business paths for freelance web workers, capitalizing on today’s rise of the small web startup.
I think it’s kinda fun to put together value packages and pricing models for these things. If anyone ever wants to bat some ideas around just for kicks – you know where to find me