5 Data Points All Freelance Writers Should Know on Their Work
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5 Data Points All Freelance Writers Should Know on Their Work

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If you’ve been in the game of hustling for a while now, you probably have an elevator pitch for your services. We bet you have a pretty stellar portfolio to showcase your breadth of work and highlight your niche. You likely have some canned auto-responses for incoming inquiries and for managing the expectation of publicists.

But what about data? For most wordsmiths, language is the easy part. The tricky learning curve is understanding how numbers contribute to our bottom line, build our business and help convince potential clients to sign up for our services. After all, with a gig economy that’s continuing to grow, competition has never been fiercer.

These data points will set freelancers apart from the noise:

Data points all freelancers should know: How you helped a client meet their goals.

1. How you helped a client meet their goals.

When you first onboarded your corporate client, they didn’t have a blog. They also knew very little (read: nothing) about optimizing content for search engine optimization success. After six months of working together, advising them on best practices and creating strategic pieces of magic, they’re now ranking for two keywords.

By improving their online footprint, you’ve helped them to bring in new business, meet objectives and become a leader within their industry. You can talk about what happened, how you did it and why it worked in detail but it’s essential to put these figures into your proposal, recommends freelance writer Ashley Davidson.

The only hurdle for many, of course, is sourcing the data. Though it may feel like an overstep, you should feel encouraged to check-in with your clients (whether current or former) to track your successes.

As Davidson notes:

Any time we show how our work contributed to a client’s goals — increased sales, led to a sold-out event, etc. — is great, but most times we’re not privy to that information. We submit the piece and unless there are edits, it’s radio silence.

So break the white noise and get vocal. Explain why you’re using the info, why it’s supplemental to your growth and offer to keep their information private. After all, you can express in figures, without revealing a name if you’ve signed an NDA.

2. How you can use past data to inform future data.

Once you become your own boss, staying on top of career growth typically falls fairly low on your priority list. Considering you’re balancing current commitments while also trying to attract more work, as well as paying your taxes and, ya know, sleeping, setting goals can feel like a time-waster.

But if you ask freelance writer and consultant Katherine Conaway, it’s anything but. Here’s the deal: the longer you’re ‘in business,’ the more you learn about meeting the needs of those who hire you for your brilliance. What you’re hoping to prove to potential clients is that you’re the solution to the problem they want to solve.

That’s why Conaway says having data that reflects how you’ve strengthened your approach through trial-and-experience is a super-smart strategy:

It’s finding the best words to communicate the information in the way your customer/client needs you to for their customers/clients. If you’re not approaching the work with both of those needs in mind, you’ll consistently miss the mark. But if you are able to understand those needs, priorities, and styles of communication and effectively incorporate them into the writing you’re doing for them, you’ll deliver quality work your clients are happy with. And that will lead to repeat business and referrals.

Data points all freelancers should know: How your content was received on social media.

3. How your content was received via social media.

Regardless if you are active on Facebook or understand how Instagram stories work or not, you can’t completely shun social media in the digital age. After all, the majority of traffic to most publications and websites is filtered through various platforms, meaning the way eyeballs read your content is via these clicks.

And since these numbers ultimately lead to clicks on advertisements that fund the budget to hire freelancers, tracking your social engagement is helpful. This is true whether it’s a magazine story or blogs written for a brand.

Davidson advises:

You can tout the number of shares, likes, and comments to show how engaging your piece was. Clients want to know that the content they’re creating is leading to engagement with their audience and by sharing a track record of engaging posts, you can attract new clients or more work from existing clients.

4. How large your reach could be.

You may not realize that reach plays a factor in client retention, but freelance travel and food writer Melissa Curtin says it can help to build trust. How so? Consider a hotel chain is bringing you on board to develop blog content for their website. This requires local knowledge, SEO expertise and the ability to develop a content calendar. But, say in the future, they want to expand to another city.

When you can chime in and offer a recommended reporter in the area, they will be stoked — and have further confidence in their hire. Curtin says networking, attending events and expressing your position within your ZIP code or industry is part of a freelancer’s job description. Plus, it could lead to opportunities. “You may be sitting next to an editor that you can pitch a story idea or a PR person that wants to work with you with one of their clients,” she continues.

How do you put that in numbers? Consider having a page of your proposal that discusses the professional groups you’re part of, the writers you’re connected to and other information relevant to your business.

Data points all freelancers should know: how much traffic your content gets.

5. How much traffic your content earned.

Sometimes, volume is the goal. Other times, it’s exposure. Perhaps for some instances, it’s a click that leads to a purchase. Whatever the case, traffic is one of those numbers that all writers should keep a pulse on. But like other info, it’s not always readily available and it may require an ask on your part.

As Davidson explains:

There’s no doubt your clients are tracking this, so if you can’t see a number on your article, it’s worth asking the client. They may or may not give it to you, but if they do, it’ll help you showcase how your best-performing posts attracted thousands of readers.

What about with non-journalism work? Reach out to your clients to see any/all traffic-related figures they are willing to share. Again, when you offer for their name to be withheld, they are more likely to shell out the goods. Consider asking for traffic figures, keyword ranking changes over time, newsletter click-throughs and any other tracking you believe beneficial to your work.

If you want to keep your business growing, make sure you know these all-important data points about your work. #freelancing Click To Tweet

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Lindsay Tigar

About Lindsay

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established travel and lifestyle journalist, editor and content strategist. Since uprooting from Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 to Manhattan, Lindsay's work has appeared on several websites, including Travel + Leisure, Vogue, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Self, Refinery29 and countless others. While she is always up for the challenge of any assignment, her main areas of focus include travel, wellness, career, psychology, love and healthy living.

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