If you’re a regular LWB reader then you’ll know all about the various radical thoughts that have been running through my head over the past few weeks.
Two posts in particular have given a strong hint of how things will be changing in my business in the near future: How I Plan to Revolutionize My Online Business and My Thoughts on the Future of Leaving Work Behind. If you haven’t read them yet I encourage you to do so now.
My announcement in this post represents a huge milestone in my business. It represents me stepping away from something big and stepping into something bigger. It represents positive change and major growth. Most importantly, it takes me a step closer to what I consider the truest and purest form of the Leaving Work Behind concept.
Announcing the Launch of Clear Blogging Solutions
Let’s get the (rather exciting, for me at least) formalities out of the way first.
Today I am delighted to officially announce the launch of my new content marketing agency: Clear Blogging Solutions.
Clear Blogging Solutions provides content marketing services to bloggers and small businesses who understand the value of content marketing but need assistance in terms of execution (whether that be because they lack the expertise or simply don’t have time to do it themselves).
Our core service offerings are blog article writing (on just about any topic), and social media management and development. We also provide other services to ongoing clients, such as eBook development, link building, copywriting and WordPress website maintenance.
If you’re a blogger and you need help in producing and/or marketing your content, we can help. If you’re an online startup who needs a content marketing solution so that you can focus on the areas in which you can benefit your business the greatest, we can help. If you’re a small business who is looking to establish or develop your online presence, we can help.
Now I want to explain why and how Clear Blogging Solutions came about.
The Problem With Freelancing
I love freelancing — it completely changed my life.
In September 2011 I was seriously fed up, having failed consistently in my make money online efforts for around six months. I was desperate and willing to give anything a try. So I tried freelance writing.
I’m not going to get into the specifics here (read this, this and this if you want to learn more about the story of how I built a freelance writing business out of nothing), but I went from earning nothing to making thousands of dollars per month in just a few months. My freelance writing earnings peaked in May 2013 at $6,206.
That peak month worked out to approximately one and a half times the monthly salary in my last job in about one third of the hours. My equivalent hourly rate was $152 (slightly below my record of $161 in June 2013). I still have to pinch myself.
However, there was a problem with this business model — it isn’t scalable. I only have so many hours available, and quality writing is mentally taxing work that you can only do so much of before you burn out.
Not only that, but I was compromising my other projects in an effort to squeeze every last penny out of my freelancing business and keep breaking income records. Not a good recipe for long term growth. I was obsessed with numbers (I broke my income record four months running) and had lost sight of the bigger picture.
A Time for Change
I have known for a long time that freelance writing isn’t a scalable business model, but I’ve never been able to see an obvious route into converting my assets (i.e. my writing/business skills, client base, contact list, website, etc.) into a scalable business model.
The obvious route was to take on writers and work in a more editorial-style role. However, my major concerns were that it would be a labor-intensive job and that quality writers could not be found for reasonable prices (i.e. prices that would still allow me to make money).
My opinion on that front changed quickly when I put a call out for paid writers for my online dating authority site. I received around ~30 applications, and while the majority weren’t suitable for my needs, there were a healthy handful of writers who I felt were pretty damn capable. More capable than I was expecting, quite frankly.
Although I had originally intended to hire one writer, I ended up hiring two (and really wanted to take on another one or two). My attitude towards the quality of available writers changed overnight.
This greatly reduced the reasons to not go down the “blogging agency” route. I was now faced with a more manageable problem — teaching my writers how to blog effectively and trusting them to be organized and reliable (in fact, that was what inspired my recent post on seven fatal mistakes that freelance writers make).
In short, I could potentially see the basis for a successful and scalable business.
The Birth of a New Business
So I decided to test the waters.
Working with my dating site writers was remarkably similar to the dynamics of a blogging agency — I just happened to be both the editor and the client. From that experience I knew that there was potential. Since I was already turning away new client requests at this point I figured I had nothing to lose by redirecting new clients to my writers.
The idea was simple:
- My writers communicate with the clients directly.
- Their work goes through me and I act in an editorial role to ensure that everything is up to scratch.
- Clients pay me directly and I pay my writers at their desired rate.
- The writers can talk to me if they have any questions or need any further assistance. Similarly, the client can talk to me at any point if they so desire.
The writer is paid at their desired rate and the client gets a top quality end-product that is to my editorial standards. I get my cut for attracting and landing the clients and doing the editorial work.
In this way I might spend fifteen minutes editing a piece rather than two hours writing it. As the writers get better and a level of trust evolves, my involvement can be relatively limited. I can work with far more clients and generate far more revenue in far less time. At least, that’s the idea.
Within a couple of weeks I had landed two new clients through the Clear Blogging Solutions brand. Things were underway.
Clear Blogging Solutions has been in existence for a few weeks now — this is essentially the “hard launch.” It is my intention to grow the business exponentially from this point onwards, but that will of course rely upon the number of client referrals I receive and successfully convert.
At this stage I am negotiating with a few prospective clients and expect for a proportion of those deals to go through. I am hoping that this post will generate further interest and that my bylines across the web will bring in further enquiries. I may also dabble in “cold emailing” to targeted prospects, but I’ve not made a decision on that front yet.
The issue is certainly not with the quality of my solution. I am extremely delighted with the pool of writers I have already gathered and know that with my editorial oversight, we can produce a huge amount of high-quality content. The issue will be in effectively advertising our service to those people that will be interested by it.
I expect to obtain referrals from three main sources:
- This website (see the “Blogging Services” link in the navigation bar)
- Bylines on blogs that I currently write for
- Referrals from existing clients
I would also like to set up relationships with content marketing firms who need writing services and partnerships with web design / SEO agencies and the like. If you own such an agency, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I’m taking a relatively laissez-faire approach to marketing at this stage. I feel like I already have a pretty good “web” established that may be able to drive a decent number of prospective clients to the business. Only time will tell if that is the case.
What About My Existing Clients?
I have no intention of stopping my writing work with any of my existing clients. I love working with them and hope to continue to do so.
I feel like my own writing work is at a manageable level — just because I have created a scalable business model for writing services does not mean that I cannot still offer those services myself.
Having said that, working with a talented writing team does help me to make the whole process easier. When appropriate they can help me with research, planning and content production. The client will always get the same top quality product they have always received. In fact, with my additional resources I can look to provide even more value. It’s a win/win situation.
Having said that, I have been in touch with all of my existing clients already to let them know of the new setup. I certainly don’t intend to keep anyone in the dark.
Do You Want to Work With Me?
I am currently building a database of writers to pick from when working with new clients. As I said when I was looking for writers for my authority site:
To put it simply, I want to find me, circa September 2011 — a hungry freelance writer who has raw talent but little experience. My offer to you is simple: The opportunity to earn money and improve your blogging skills.
I’m looking for people with solid writing and blogging skills. Particular areas of expertise are beneficial but not necessary. Competition is pretty high but I will carefully consider every single application I receive, and if I don’t have anything for you right now, I may well do at some point down the line.
If you are interested in applying then please fill out this form. I will be in touch if I feel there is an opportunity for us to work together.
What Do You Think?
I would love to get your feedback on this major new direction in terms of my writing business.
Do you think it is a good move? Do you foresee any potential pitfalls? Is there anything that you would do differently or additionally?
Please don’t be shy — share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!