Quick Jump

How to become a freelance business (B2B) content writer in India?

Previously, we took a deep dive into what B2B content writing is. I shared a ton of stats on why it’s such a great – and lucrative – career option for those of us who want a more flexible career without compromising on earning potential. 

But like anything else, it has its pros and cons. So, what’s the real story? What does it really take to crack the international clients, the dollar invoices, and get your own bylines in reputed B2B publications?

My story: from corporate exec to B2B freelancer

My personal experience of transitioning from a full-time job to freelance writing was a decision fraught with the usual fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Having a full-time job accustomed me to several things: a cushy title that opened doors, a guaranteed salary at the end of the month, and a nice ecosystem of allies and team members who helped my work shine. 

But the flip side was not having the flexibility to live on my own terms. While my full-time job was remote, it did not allow flexi-hours – I had to be available from 9 to 5, and often much longer hours, to suit the needs of all the global team members who would join the zoom calls. 

As part of a larger machine, I obviously could not choose my own projects, assignments, or team members. While I loved my work, I often felt demotivated and burned out, unable to pursue many of my interests and passions because I lacked the mental or physical bandwidth after all those Zoom calls, PowerPoint decks, and Excel sheets.

Before I quit, I actually leveraged my official work title to guest post for reputed publications, which are always keen for content submissions from senior executives and practicing professionals. This helped me build a portfolio of work while still in my full-time job, and got me my early clients. 

While I was initially quite anxious about the unpredictability of my monthly billing, I’ve settled into a pattern where I more or less know where my minimum billing will stand for the next several months. A lot of it boils down to clients who trust you enough to share their upcoming content plans with you.  

Beyond that, it’s more about how much time and effort I want to put in. With two home-schooled kids and a wildly curious mind that constantly wants to learn new things, the answer is, not much. I have taken a call to take on only 4 well-paying clients at a time, and never direct competitors. I prefer to go deep with a few clients than wide with a big roster. I have a mix of per-project and short-term retainer-paying clients. It’s a formula I’ve arrived at with trial and error. 

Your story and bandwidth may be different. But with this workshop, you can learn from my experiences and be up and running faster.

The payoff? Today, I can choose my clients and the work I do. I decide my prices. I work at my hours (except for client meetings) and live a semi-off-the-grid life at my equine farm in Punjab. 

What about the money, you may ask? Since I have painstakingly built a portfolio of international clients, I bill in dollars and earn more than I did at my full-time job. I certainly work fewer hours. But even if I wasn’t earning more, the payoff in terms of flexibility and ability to live on my own terms would have been compelling enough for me. 

But be warned. It’s no cakewalk. The high pay and international clients take time, patience, and high-quality writing skills. But if you do this right from the get-go, with the right habits, practices, and attitude, it’s a very real possibility. Why miss out?

5 Keys to Becoming a Freelance B2B Content Writer in India

  1. Your mindset

Freelancing, like entrepreneurship, is not for everyone. But it combines many benefits of entrepreneurship with a lot less risk and unpredictability. The key is to set the right expectations and do an honest self-assessment of your skills, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses before you quit your day job. 

You have to master the art and craft of B2B writing – but you also need the right mindset. You may be your own boss, but you will also be your own PA, accountant, and lawyer. Forever. Unless you decide to start a content agency, which is a different path definitely possible if you are getting so much work that you can start sub-contracting to others. 

So be prepared for the long-haul. Building a successful freelance content writing career with great clients is not a side hustle or a short-term gig. Indrajit Deshpande, a freelance B2B content writer I’ve collaborated with several times in the past, says he got into B2B writing by accident, but persisted and focused on a niche before he saw success. “I quit my marketing job as I felt burned out and wanted to do something other than digital marketing. Though I was not a writer, I took a leap of faith and became a freelance writer without a backup plan. I landed my first freelance gig through an ex-colleague at an Indian marketing publication firm. In the beginning, I worked only with Indian clients, but as my writing with the marketing publication firm gathered more eyeballs, I started getting international clients. I’m currently working with international clients and a fantastic Indian SaaS company.” He does caution that the difficult part of freelancing is that it is a solitary gig. “You’ll be working on your own for the most part, with little to no guidance. You are responsible for everything, from getting clients to collecting paychecks and self-promotion.  All this too can cause burnout or affect your mental health if not appropriately planned.”

  1. Your skills

I had discussed the 10 traits of successful B2B content writers in depth here. Essentially, you can club them into three buckets: writing skills; technical and digital skills; and soft skills. None of these three is negotiable. This is not creative writing – it’s writing for businesses, and for you, it is your business. 

No matter how great your content is, you also need to know the technicalities of organic search (SEO), how to use a CMS, how to work with client teams on Slack or Discord channels, how to collaborate on a document with Google docs or on projects with Asana or Monday.com. 

Finally, soft skills. How to win clients and keep corporate clients with matrix organizational structures, how to talk to international clients so that you are neither too short nor too chatty, how to respond to critical feedback, how to negotiate your rates and handle delayed payments, how to manage your books, invoicing and deadlines, how to leverage your network to get work  – all of it matters.  

  1. Your process

One of India’s leading B2B SaaS freelance writers, Bani Kaur, speaks about following a structured process to create high-quality B2B white papers, blogs, articles, and eBooks. Though she specializes in B2B SaaS martech and fintech content, she’s actually a trained architect! She’s been spectacularly successful as a B2B freelance writer with enviable international clients because of her willingness to learn and improve her craft, much of which she shares via her LinkedIn posts. But it is also because of her meticulous approach to creating B2B content. 

A structured process, like Kaur’s seven-step process to nail a complex topic, will ensure you become a master at the craft of B2B writing. That said, it’s important to remember there are many kinds of B2B writing – blogs have a different process from thought leadership white papers, and even within blogs, a top-funnel blog would differ from a bottom-funnel article. So while the process is important, what you really need is a portfolio of tried-and-tested processes for each kind of content writing service you offer your clients. Document it, follow it, and keep fine-tuning it.

  1. Your work ethic 

Saurabh Garg quit his job in 2015 to become a freelance writer. Today, he makes upwards of INR 10 lakhs per month. How? In his post about freelance writing, he spells out his secret to success. Building strong relationships. Creating value for clients beyond the content. Being reliable and always over-delivering. 

You notice that many of them are to do with a superior work ethic. He writes, “Clients are people. And they seek other people that are easy to work with. They like the idea of being easy to work with. They love their peace of mind. It’s really simple. When you’re stuck in circles, who do you turn to? When you need something solved, where do you go? When you want someone to get you out of the soup without asking too many questions, who do you think of? Be that person. For others. For clients.”

I can totally back that up with my experience as a B2B freelance writer. My clients, often scarred by less-professional freelancers in the past, have grown to expect on-time, on-brief articles from me with minimum fuss or confusion. My process for predictable outcomes is to always share a strawman outline of the article or white paper before actually fleshing it out. It sets expectations, and saves time, confusion, and needless rework. 

  1. Your industry knowledge

This is contentious. Often, I am asked if one needs work experience in a particular industry to be a freelance B2B content creator in that space. My answer is that work experience helps, but it is not necessary. What is necessary to write a stand-out piece is a rigorous process and a certain depth of subject-matter knowledge. 

In the age of AI and ChatGPT, creating content is not enough. You have to create high-value content that brings unique information, perspectives, or insights to readers. Let’s assume you are a skilled writer who can craft a piece with a strong headline and a great hook. 

Holding the reader’s attention is important, but there is usually another very crucial goal for B2B content that you have to meet. Building brand credibility, trust, and respect. And that will come only from the depth of the content you create.

That is why I recommend picking a few verticals of interest and doubling down on being an expert in that field. For example, I am an experienced marketer, with expertise in martech, adtech, CX, retail media, and customer data. Most of my clients are in this space. 

Staying in my lane helps me get better and more knowledgeable about my verticals, and I can build a unique point-of-view and original perspectives about industry developments, which shows in my writing. It also helps me charge a premium.

While you needn’t have work experience in each vertical you choose, once you choose a vertical, develop expertise and constantly upgrade your industry knowledge in this age of AI-enabled content regurgitation. Especially in the age of AI-enabled content regurgitation.

Bonus questions I get asked all the time

  • Is the freelance content creator market saturated? 

Post-Covid, everyone, and their neighbor is a freelance content creator, LinkedIn thought leader, or both. Can you break out of the clutter and compete? Digital marketer and freelance B2B content creator Sherry says that while there are innumerable people who call themselves content writers out there, the combination of the right skills, talent, and expertise is rare. “After working with a couple of freelancers (with fancy LinkedIn bios), I realized there is a desperate need for writers who are genuinely passionate about writing and marketing. The need is for writers who strive to build a career in this field and aren’t just looking for a little extra money to cover their Zomato bills. We need dedicated writers continually working to improve their skills and knowledge. Being a writer myself, I could clearly tell the difference between these two kinds of writers by just looking at their writing.” 

So yes, there are dime-a-dozen content writers. But very few quality writers are in it for the long haul. Also, not all high-quality writers are the same. Just like there is a market for many cuisines and books, there is a market for diverse writers. 

For instance, I have a narrative style that is not very crisp or brief, but it is perspective-and-argument driven, designed to provoke thought rather than offer all the answers on a plate. Other writers are able to jump right into the topic, offering examples, screen-shots, and solutions for reader problems right off the bat.

Work on developing your unique style. There will always be a few good clients willing to pay for it.

  • How do companies choose freelance content writers?

B2B companies invested in content would usually have a dedicated resource to manage the content calendar. If they don’t have in-house writers or need to supplement their content volume with freelancers, they will first seek writers who have proven expertise in their field. They will want to see samples of your work- preferably for other paying clients, but if not, then at least a portfolio of samples you have created for fictitious clients. 

Prospective clients will evaluate not just your subject-matter knowledge, but also your  writing style; ability to create a flow and narrative; and the quality of your research. In business writing, data or examples must back all claims and assertions. These are not opinion pieces.

Beyond the writing, they will want someone who is easy to reach and responsive, without exception. Your ability to add value to their content topics and graphics; and SEO expertise are also key considerations. 

  • How much can I earn as a B2B content writer?

A B2B writer is a combination of a journalist, salesperson, counselor, problem-solver, and educator. And you are well paid for the effort, especially by large brands and international clients.

This is because B2B brands often have healthy budgets. Content is the primary way to establish their ‘thought leadership’ and get into the buyer’s consideration set. Clients also appreciate that each piece takes longer to write, and needs in-depth research, meticulous fact checks, and often, expert interviews and primary research. 

While average Indian clients pay between Rs.1 and 5 for a word, international clients can go up to Rs.15 or more depending on your expertise and quality of work; the industry vertical you have chosen, and the format you are writing in. For instance, research reports, white papers, and eBooks will earn more than top-funnel blogs. 

Deshpande says, “The easy part is the money. In my experience, B2B, especially tech companies, pay pretty well compared to B2C.” He adds this great tip. “Early in your career, it’s alright to work on less money if you are getting to work with a great editor. An editor providing constructive feedback is the fastest way to becoming a better writer. No course or book comes close to this.” 

  • What are the various options for a B2B content writing career aside from freelance writing?

Freelancing is one way to build a career as a B2B content writer. If you are looking for a mid-way arrangement between full-time and independent freelancing, try working for a content, digital marketing, or SEO agency, which often contract writers to meet their client’s needs.

You can also consider a fractional content writer role, where you give a client a few days per week either for a salary or retainer. 

Finally, writing for B2B brands is just one avenue. Equally lucrative is writing for B2B publications or websites of industry and trade associations. 

The process of getting work doesn’t change. Have a few writing samples ready before approaching a prospective client. Medium, WordPress, LinkedIn, Contently, and Notion are wonderful platforms to host your writing. I use Contently, but also have my own website. Deshpande also suggests Twitter, communities such as Superpath, and r/freelancewriters for great resources to improve your writing skills and spot paid opportunities. “There will always be some difficult clients, but it’s always a learning experience LinkedIn, Twitter, and a few Slack communities are my source for onboarding new clients.” 
In this upcoming workshop on How to Become a Freelance Business (B2B Content Writer), I will share all my secrets to kick-off your career, find your niche and win high-value clients.

Click on the image given above to check out our B2B freelance writing workshop!

Quick Jump

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.