In a packed session at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Gail Mercer-MacKay answers the question attendees asked her most – why do freelance writers miss the mark? There are thousands of technology companies who need freelance writers to solve their content management nightmares – you could be one of them. Learn how to build your own successful six-figure freelance career by solving the pain that technology companies have.
I’ve just finished attending my favourite conference of the year, Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, where more than 15,000 business, sales and marketing professionals gather to learn success strategies for growth.
The sessions I delivered were focused on teaching technology companies how to build frameworks that will help them turn out content on a regular basis. One of my tips? Connect with a freelance writer to help.
Technology Companies Are in Pain – They Need Great Freelance Writers to Solve that Pain
I was thrilled that my sessions were packed – we had to turn people away. But the reason they were packed was not because I am a particularly brilliant speaker; it was because the attendees needed to solve a really big problem: how to turn out great content on a regular basis.
But Freelance Writers Don’t Get Us
Attendees complained that freelancers deliver “fluff”. Their work typically lacks depth and doesn’t engage or educate the reader. The question that came up most was, “How do we teach freelance writers the skills needed to write for technology companies?”
Write From Confidence, Not Fear
What I have learned working with freelance writers over the years is that they are often intimidated by technology. Because they feel intimated, they write from a place of fear rather than from a place of confidence. The big thing that freelance writers need to understand is that technology companies don’t need you to “get” their technology on a technology level. That is, they don’t need you to understand bits and bytes, speeds and feeds, RAM, cache, versioning, coding, compression, format, etc. (the list of technology terms and acronyms generated by the computer industry is almost endless). They need you to understand how their technology is changing lives.
If You Don’t Understand It, the Audience Won’t Either
When you first connect with a technology company and earn an opportunity to write for them, you need to begin with some research in order to understand how their technology is helping solve clients problems. And don’t think that a simple interviewwith the technology company will find that answer for you. Most technology companies are so caught up in their own jargon, even they don’t know how to communicate their unique competitive advantage to you. They will speak to you in their own language which may leave you feeling even more confused than you felt at the start of the project.
You Must Be Able to Answer These Questions at the Start of an Assignment
Here are a few questions that you should be able to ask and have answered clearly when working with a new client in the technology industry.
- Who buys your solution/product? Could you describe a typical buyer for me?
- What industries or markets do you serve? Do you have a niche target like healthcare, government, financial services, etc. or is your product ideal for all industries? (Note: it is easier to write content for a specific industry rather than a generalist piece.)
- What is the pain you are solving for your customer? Why are they willing to spend money with you?
- Who are your top 3 competitors? What do you do differently that makes people buy from you and not them?
- Who are the experts in your industry? Who do your customers look to for thought leadership, research and guidance on trends?
- Describe a typical sales cycle for me? What are the steps you take to educate your prospective customer about how you can help them? What do they learn along the way?
- What are the 3-5 most important features that your customers like about your offering?
Once you have had an in-depth interview with the client, then you need to do some additional research. Look at their competitors and understand what those companies are saying. Read what industry experts in their field are predicting.
But – I cannot emphasize this enough – more than anything, you need to grasp why their customers are buying from them. What is the customer pain? Understanding that will help you write their story effectively.
Clarify the Pain, Begin with a Story
One of the trends in healthcare right now is telehealth services. That could mean anything from setting up a 1-800 service so that people with healthcare questions can speak to a qualified nurse or medical professional right through to doctors performing life-saving surgery remotely, even though they are not physically present.
Let’s use a common example in healthcare today. Videoconferencing. There are lots of competitors in this space, lots of companies building solutions that provide video conferencing so doctors in remote regions can access specialists in urban centers to guide them through tricky procedures. You could write a story that talks about bandwidth, speed, audio and video resolution – all important elements if the technology is to work well. But every competitor will pretty much have most of the technology components needed to be successful. So, how do you differentiate between your client’s product and that of their competitor? How do you educate and captivate the reader? How do you tell a story that makes your client stand out from their competitors?
You need to speak to the pain that their customers are facing: limited budgets, limited access to specialists, patients being sent on expensive air ambulance rides to urban city centers losing precious treatment time, patients being separated from families. Then you tell the story about how your client reduced or eliminated these pain points. Read the sample in the box above, and see how we focused on an actual family who benefited from a brand new teleservices solution. The opening grabs the reader right away, and is a story that people can relate to.
Find the Story and Tell It Well
There are hundreds of thousands of technology companies looking for great writers. It is a market that is ready and waiting for you. If you are interested in learning more or in being coached on how to establish a successful freelance writing business for yourself, visit my website and sign up for one of my programs.
Believe, Be Brave, Go Write