How The Explosive Growth Of Content Means More Earnings For Writers
The Growing Trend
In October 2017, the research firm Technavio released a comprehensive 83-page report entitled Global Content Marketing Market 2017–2021. For many, this was exciting news. The report showed the explosive growth of content marketing. And it’s a trend that is not slowing down.
It was only a few years ago (2016) when this market was hovering at around $216B. Today, that market is growing and it is predicted to be at $412.88B by 2021. And the trend is only getting better. Countless research firms have verified that the amount of businesses that invest in content marketing nearly doubles every year. Business leaders are seeing the light, and it clearly points to generating more content to attract ideal customers. In fact, Tony Silber (the former VP at Folio) said:
“What’s the new currency of advertising? It’s content.”
Why This Is Happening
Over the last few decades, marketing was forced to make a shift. Consumers moved from traditional media to digital media. They started to tune out TV, radio, and magazine ads and tune into the content on various digital platforms. A lot of the same kinds of ads were on this new medium, but that has evolved to more sophisticated forms of advertising and promotion.
Everyone’s eyeballs are on their phones, computers, or smart devices. Apps like Instagram and YouTube are getting all the attention, and so they’re the perfect place for advertising. However, people don’t go to these platforms for ads. Consumers want to connect, communicate, laugh, and learn on these platforms.
In contrast to traditional media, consumers want more control over their screen-viewing experiences. They don’t want to be forced to view countless ads. In fact, 27.5% of internet users have an ad blocker (eMarketer).
The challenge for advertisers was to find a way to connect to consumers on popular sites and apps without turning the consumers off. And the answer was content marketing.
Content Marketing Is Vast
The good news is that content marketing is still growing at a rapid pace, and it has a low barrier of entry. Boutique agencies are popping up all over the world. Even teenagers are cashing in on the great equalizer that the Internet is. Content can be outsourced or crafted by any individual who can address consumers the right way. And content is needed in nearly every industry.
The Content Marketing Institute recently reported that 86% of B2C brands now employ content marketing. There are similar numbers for B2B brands as well. But when the research says that content is a $413 market, what do they mean?
Several marketing research firms are currently analyzing the splintered world of content. These formats include video, social media, podcasts, email newsletters, and articles. The majority of this $413B market is likely to be in a video. However, the written content is also a sizable market.
Written content can come in many forms. For example, it can be a short narrative in a sponsored post within Instagram, or it can be a long-form article in a large publication. This is called Brand Journalism. That is, consumers are connected to a less-direct marketing piece that includes the brand while offering up an interesting story.You can make the hero the customer, the brand, or the company. It’s up to you and the client.
The neuroeconomist Dr. Paul J. Zak says our brains are wired for story. I believe him. We’ve all seen how branded content receives massive engagement. Ultimately, it’s a less intrusive way to market, and it offers greater value to the consumer on different levels. In time, brand journalism metrics will be improved with more data and analytics. But it’s a fascinating story that will sell the brand message.
Like most writers, I argue that brand narratives and storytelling are considered high art. There’s a fine line between an obvious hard sales article and something with a real story that happens to include a brand.
At it’s finest, consumers get to see how products are integrated into real life. For many, the gold standard for mastering branded content and marketing is Red Bull. The Red Bulletin perfectly overlaps brand messages or product placements with real stories consumers want to read.
They often cover events better than most traditional publications. And the bonus for the consumer is that they don’t consistently and shamelessly promote their product in front of them. It’s subtle and you often don’t even see their product anywhere.
Brands need to constantly need to connect with consumers, no matter what buying phase they’re in. With B2B companies, a Demand Gen Report (2016) showed that47% of buyers viewed 3–5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. That’s a lot of content. This is why Gary Vaynerchuk emphasizes the task of pushing out dozens of content gems every single day.
Freelance Writer Heaven
Since writing is in such great demand, freelance writers are finally given a golden opportunity to earn a slice of the $413B content marketing pie.
With the advent of content mills, outsourced writing, and in-house content marketers, isn’t it hard to make a living as a writer?
This is where programs like the WritingIncomeAccelerator.comreally shine. They target the right kinds of businesses and people to market their services to. Writers here know how to communicate that they’re writing a premium article for a premium price. They charge $1,000 — $3,000 per article and get paid upfront.
And this is what most writers don’t know how to do. They don’t know how to market their craft and command a price they deserve.
Many writers get stuck on the treadmill of competing for low-bid jobs on a place like Upwork or other sites. Every day they’re competing against intelligent writers from an impoverished country who are willing to write 800 words for eight bucks! There is nothing wrong with these writers or these wages — unless you’re from a first-world country. That’s not even getting paid minimum wage.
From an overwhelming amount of data points and experience, I can say that there are countless companies and personal brands dying to find a good writer and pay them what they’re worth.
It’s surprising how many of these companies exist. Students coached in the Writing Income Accelerator help these companies connect the dots to their branded content needs, and offer up the perfect package for them. Most clients are happy to pay a premium to these writers because the value and Return On Investment are so high.
How Brands Benefit
From a company’s point of view, freelance writers beat most alternatives. Often, companies are solicited by traditional magazines or public relations firms to pay a hefty fee — only to get a few words written about them in some generic article.
Just like Red Bull has done, companies need to control their brand narrative and tell the stories they want to tell. They need to create their own media platforms and hire the best content creators to generate great work. And sometimes they just need to hire a good writer to publish their unique story on a popular website like medium.com or ThriveGlobal.com. The best training will teach you how to start these easy conversations and/or attract clients to your services.
But can’t in-house marketing teams or DIY marketers do all of this?
Sometimes stories sound like a long advertisement if companies are telling it. Brands need a third party writing these things up. Truth be told, most in-house marketers don’t want to do this kind of work. Their roles often require more large-scale, direct marketing tasks. They often welcome outside writers to knock a few articles out on retainer. That could be you!
Brand Journalism On Medium.com
You’ll read a lot about so-called experts who tell you to publish on Medium. They might tell five reasons why brands should do it. However, there are also five strong reasons not to. Brand journalists are more than just a crafty pen. They can advise companies about the pros and cons of publishing on Medium.
The biggest reason not to is that you’re building a traffic empire on someone else’s land. If Medium policies change or if your account gets hacked and all your stories disappear, all those wonderful SEO results are toast. But there are several white hat ways around this that you can advise brands on.
Branded content is nothing new on Medium. In fact, some of my favorite writers on Medium have their own style of branded journalism and they’re wildly popular. Gary Vaynerchuk comes to mind, but look at what Aytekin Tank is doing here.
Aytekin is the founder of JotForm and his Medium articles on productivity are fantastic. I’m betting some of his articles are even curated despite Medium’s “strict” no-ads policy. Everyone recognizes that his articles provide genuine value and improve the platform. Aytekin barely or never mentions his product, but you know it’s there (at least in his bio or Call To Action). And now I’m a customer of his productivity tool JotForm. Imagine that?
The Time To Act Is Now
Will this opportunity last forever? Probably not. I’m seeing amazing content produced by editors working with artificial intelligence. I’m also seeing a lot of seasoned journalists and professional writers turn to the freelance brand journalism business model I’ve been teaching over the years. Dozens of industries, thousands of companies, and millions of personal brands still need writers (just like you?), so the time to act is now.
Sadly, not a lot of people know exactly what they’re doing in their writing business. And when the word gets out this $413B opportunity, it’s going to be a firestorm of competition. Sure, the majority of writers will fight for scraps of poorly-paid jobs. However, great writing (or any craft really) will always be in demand. And the brand journalism market is far from saturated. However, do you want to wait until it is?
The freelance writing business model has been officially disrupted.
It’s about time that the tide of demand is pointing toward writers. Every day more writers are reaching their six-figure goals without ever having to leave their homes. This truly is remarkable.
I sincerely think there is a writing revolution going on. It’s just starting now and writers in some programs are making in excess of $10,000 a month. (By the way, that’s only 4–8 articles total.) I’ve never been a fan of Medium’s Curation model. I mean, it’s super easy now and it’s not a big boost in revenue. Are you really going to get excited about $100 an article each month?
However, I do know that these articles add up and the royalties can be immense. It’s rare, but some Medium writers earn over $15,000 a month. Moreover, following the curation standards is great for publications too because of the exposure to more readers. I can respect that.
But I’ve only got 30 articles on here, one accidentally curated, and I make several thousand dollars an article in less than a week. (And I ain’t special, my clients are.) Maybe I’m just impatient, but I’m into quality, not quantity. And I want to get paid now!
Content marketing and more specifically brand journalism just work. Now that this $413B infusion of the market is being taken seriously by writers, the sky’s the limit with our income.
What I love about brand journalism is that you don’t have to be a full-time professional writer to be successful. As mentioned, there’s training on how to run a brand journalism business. If you love writing, business, and storytelling it’s time to take a slice of that $413B content marketing pie.
- Find training on how to set up a brand journalism business.
- Learn how other brand journalists craft their stories. (Check out Nicolas Cole and Kaleigh Moore for starters.)
- Zero in on your niche and expertise. That’s your advantage in this space.
- Use your training to connect with countless companies who need to move their brand forward via branded content.
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