#176: Sonia Simone on Becoming a Higher-Value Resource for Your Clients

Content marketing is now a mainstream strategy.

It’s no longer a “nice-to-have.”

It’s a “must do” for most businesses in today’s trust economy.

This increased demand has created huge opportunities for writers everywhere.

But it has also commoditized a lot of the work and given rise to content mills and rock-bottom fees.

Fortunately, we’re not doomed. There’re still lots of great opportunities! But only for writers who understand how to become a higher-value resource for their clients … how to position themselves that way … and how to go after these clients.

That’s what my guest this week will share with you. Sonia Simone was a founding partner of Copyblogger Media (now Rainmaker Digital) when it formed in 2010. Today, she serves as the company’s chief content officer.

Sonia is a very smart and seasoned content marketer. She has a long background in traditional marketing and a finger on the pulse of content marketing.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself and your role at Copyblogger

Sonia was a regular reader of Copyblogger. Over time, she got to know the founder Brian Clark. When he re-launched the company about 10 years ago, she became a founding partner.

Sonia is also the executive publisher of the Copyblogger blog and chief content officer. She develops the company’s content strategy and oversees the development of courses.

What are some of the most common challenges that content marketers have to overcome?

The amount of content out there is a continuing challenge. Much more is published than will ever be read, listened to or watched.

The solution to this challenge is to keep writing good content. This sounds simple, but people don’t do it.

“Artisanal” content that’s carefully crafted, clear and interesting is what’s winning and getting results.

What is the end goal of this content? To get everyone to read it? To engage with it?

Bad content is used to fill empty spaces in your content calendar. Good content has a goal.

There’s a role for content at every stage of the customer’s journey, from awareness to education to presenting your solution to closing the deal.

How can we add more value to our relationships with clients as opposed to being order takers?

You have to cultivate that mindset.

Educate yourself. Learn how to drive the conversation with your clients to become a strategic partner. Start using the language of content marketing and marketing strategy.

Look for ammunition you can use with clients. Collect articles you can send out proactively or use when clients push back. Be diplomatic but arm yourself.

You have to earn the role of trusted advisor to your clients. It starts with positioning. But then you have to walk the talk.

Your position at Copyblogger requires you to keep your finger on the pulse of content marketing. What trends are you seeing?

Artisanal content and long content are growing trends.

But longer isn’t always better. Don’t pad your content to reach a certain word count. The only reason to create long content is because it answers your customers’ questions more effectively.

Is it better to create more general “lay of the land” content or pick one topic and go deep?

It depends on the prospect’s stage of awareness. What’s needed? An overview? Or something more in depth?

Some organizations struggle to keep a consistent tone with their content. Their content sounds like Bob Ross and their sales copy sounds like Tony Robbins.

It will be more cohesive if one writer owns the whole thing, which creates an opportunity for freelance writers.

You can divide content marketing into three broad areas: strategy, content and copy.

If you can master all three, you increase your value. Clients don’t want to have to deal with three different writers.

It’s easier to get in the door with content than sales copy. But you can move into sales copy.

What stops many content writers from owning more of the conversion piece is lack of confidence.

How can we start moving in that direction?

You’re better at what you do than you think you are. You know how much there is to know about writing, which makes you feel that you don’t know enough. But you probably do.

Take a just-in-time approach to education. Learn something and then pitch it. “I want to try this out. I want to pitch it to you for a reduced fee. Can we give it a shot?”

What will give you confidence is success. You have to put what you’ve learned into practice.

Clients are impressed when you show that you’re a student of copywriting. It differentiates you.

Often, the best writers suffer from impostor syndrome the most. Don’t be afraid to own your own skills.

Many people with impostor syndrome try to go it alone and tough it out. Get a more objective perspective by joining a program, group or community. You need someone to hold up a mirror to your skills.

What kind of courses do you and Copyblogger offer?

Many Copyblogger courses are aimed at helping people become more strategic.

Copyblogger also has a lot of excellent free advice and content.

Find more on their website: Copyblogger.com

Sonia also offers her own writing courses, including courses that help writers get back some of their writing mojo.

Sonia’s website: Remarkable-communication.com


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