Money Bee Stories: Andra Zaharia – Content Marketing Freelancer
Welcome to Money Bee Stories. Money Bees is a weekly showcase of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and side-hustlers. This weeks Money Bee is Andra, a Content Marketing Freelancer!
Meet Content Marketing Freelancer Andra
Andra Zaharia is a freelance writer focusing on strategic content marketing that educates and converts. She switched to freelancing after working 10 years in digital marketing for tech and cybersecurity companies.
What is your business?
I’m a freelance content marketer focused on helping tech and cyber security companies educate their customers about their products and key issues in their field while growing their organic traffic.
For those who aren’t familiar with content marketing, my speciality includes building strategies for creating and promoting content that is relevant, educational, and helpful for a specific audience. This content can be blog articles, case studies, guides, etc.
I’ve been writing content for over 10 years and building content teams for 4 years and although management was very rewarding, I chose to develop my freelancing business to enjoy more autonomy and flexibility.
Content marketing as a role is extremely challenging because it requires mastering a wide range of digital marketing skills. In order to be a pro, you have to know how to write and edit well, and you also have to be proficient in SEO, marketing strategy development, digital PR, psychology, sociology, and industry knowledge, depending on the customer’s field or niche.
The best thing about being a content marketing freelancer?
One of the most exciting things about being a content marketer and working to build your own business is that you have the autonomy to choose the projects that you find most interesting and challenging.
I get to work with different customers and I learn a lot from pitching projects, explaining my process, and understanding their customers’ needs and expectations.
My business also gives me tremendous flexibility to develop my skills both as an expert and as a business owner, which requires very different know-how and a whole different set of abilities.
The worst thing about being a content marketing freelancer?
As a freelancer, you deal with a lot of unpredictability which can take up a lot of mental space and energy. You also have to be very disciplined and structured to build a steady income because you’re essentially exchanging your time and expertise for money.
Working as a company of one, as Paul Jarvis calls it, you have to divide your limited time and attention to both delivering for your customers and running your business which can be challenging.
What does an average day look like as a content marketer?
What I’ve found since I’ve been freelancing (2 months) is that days become very different from one another.
One day I might be focused on meetings and crafting proposals for customers, while also making time to connect to my community on Twitter or on Slack groups. Another day can be focused on writing or developing a content strategy, which requires deep focus and attention to detail.
Naturally, I try to dedicate time to that as well because it helps me connect to some of the most wonderful people in my field and beyond and learn how to fine tune my own mental models so I can make better choices myself.
How much can people expect to earn as a content marketer?
Income varies greatly in content marketing based on expertise, experience, industry, and geography. Here are some better numbers than I can provide from a 2018 study:
“In the United States, the average salary for content directors ranges from $42,000 to $155,000. Similarly, the average salary for a content manager spans $32,000 to $108,000. Average content marketing specialist salaries range from $25,000 to $95,000.”
Do you have any goals related to your business?
I believe in setting a few good goals, so yes, I definitely have them and use them to guide my choices and evaluate if I’m on the right path to achieving them.
One of these goals is related to my income. For my first year of freelancing, my goal is to build my revenue to match how much I was making as an employee.
I also have another goal that’s closely related to income: my goal is to establish 2-3 retainers with customers I enjoy working with, who challenge me to become better at what I do.
Another business-related goal is a bit more personal but just as important: I chose to become a freelancer so I could have more control over the kind of work I do and how I do it. This means that I will closely monitor both these aspects to keep myself from overworking and burning out which used to happen more often than I want to admit when I was an employee.
What has content marketing taught you?
This is just my beginning but freelancing is very intense because it’s a one-person show and because of the level of responsibility involved. So far I’ve learned a couple of essential things that I believe could help anyone, not just freelancers:
- Reach out to people who do what you want to do and learn from them. It’s invaluable to ask them about their process and how they handle important choices for their business. You don’t have to learn everything from doing it yourself and you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort you could spend on something else.
- Building your process helps you work better and produce high-quality results. This involves asking yourself the questions your customers will or listening to them when they do (and taking notes!). Based on that, you can create templates and break down your work into steps that show what they can expect, when, and what type of results you can deliver.
- Managing expectations is essential for both you and your customers. Being clear about what you do and how you do it shows that you’re a professional, that you’ve given your process deep thought, and that you master the essential aspects of your field. This type of transparency helps you build a trusting relationship and earns respect for your work and business.
- Nothing replaces doing the work. This is a lesson I learned a long time ago that’s only been reinforced by my recent experience as a full-time freelancer. The only way to get better at either your specialty or at running your business is to do it consistently and constantly, improving incrementally. This also involves listening to feedback, asking better questions, and your own way of doing things so you can get better each day.
- Spend reflecting on these questions: What is it for? Who is it for? Answering them for your business and your work results in powerful guidelines to help you clarify your audience and your niche. In order to become a respected and sought-for professional, you need to figure out where you fit in your industry and how you cover your customer’s needs.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into content marketing?
Content marketing presents a wealth of opportunities across industries, either through in-house roles or in freelancing. In fact, the number of available job roles has increased by over 30% in 2018 compared to the previous year.
If you’re looking to get into this field, focus on:
- Building a strong portfolio with samples from your work (content creation, content promotion, special projects, etc.)
- Read a lot, write even more. If you can’t do it in your current role, set up a personal project and work on that. The entry barrier has been lowering constantly through available free tools and a wealth of information shared by content marketing professionals for free.
- Get to know your community. Follow the best people in the industry, ask them questions and connect with peers from other countries or industries. Be helpful when you can, and focus on learning from every interaction.
- Find your niche. Whether it’s blogging or writing case studies, developing lead magnets or doing outreach for content promotion, figure out what you’re best at and what you enjoy doing the most and double down on that.
All these things will help become invaluable as you build your career in content marketing either in-house in a company or agency or as a freelancer.