Content Marketing/Marketing/Writing

Why You Should Hire a Freelance Writer for Content Marketing

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

I have received several calls in the past few days from callers asking why they should hire a freelance writer and what the benefits are of doing so.

After one call, I created a quick proposal for a prospect to help convince her boss that hiring a freelance writer to help with content marketing was the right way to go.colored pencils in can msb

Here are 9 benefits I mentioned:

  1. While you may hate to write, freelance writers are passionate about writing and love it, which means they skip procrastination, fits and starts, and the constant rewriting that comes when you dislike the task.
  2. They free you up to concentrate on business development, strategy and the many marketing tasks you love to do.
  3. They cost less than hiring a full-time marketing writer. The freelancer writer is an independent contractor paying his or her own taxes.
  4. Veteran freelance writers have a system to produce written materials and adhere to a project schedule with little hand holding. Many can also manage your project.
  5. Freelance writers bring a fresh outside perspective, one that helps them think more like your audience. They aren’t steeped in your internal jargon or tied to ingrained marketing approaches.
  6. Freelance writers have an uncanny ability to understand, reach and engage audiences with their writing so they can help you better target your audience.
  7. Because they work with multiple clients, a veteran freelance writer brings knowledge gained at other firms and best practices, which can move your company forward faster. They can suggest ideas, improvements and channels that make your marketing materials stand out and demand attention.
  8. Finding a writer with industry expertise who is also knowledgeable about content marketing gives you a leg up on your competition. You don’t have to spend as much time learning about the new ways of marketing or spend as much time bringing the writer up to speed on your industry.
  9. Freelance Writers help you avoid falling behind. There is a cost when you do nothing: Marketing is changing rapidly. Today, B2B customers are two-thirds through the buying cycle before they engage a salesperson. That means they are doing research and seeking answers to questions before they are on your radar screen. Without fresh, helpful and thought-leadership content, you are falling behind your competition and losing customers.

Here’s a shorter answer: Hiring a freelance writer is a great way to create a steady stream of content on a variety of topics on a timely basis without having to add a full-time employee.

Can you think of other benefits of hiring freelance writers? Please share them in the comments.


Retired or Semi Retired Baby Boomer in Western U.S.?

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

I’m writing a story for Horizon Airlines magazine on what Baby Boomers – aged 52-68 – are doing in their retirement years and what tips they have to share for others contemplating retirement.

I’m looking for stories about:

  •  How you are taking charge of your health and dietcolored pencils in can msb
  •  What you’re doing to keep your mind sharp
  • Where you are traveling
  • How are you cultivating and nurturing your social life
  • How are you developing new friendships or learning new skills
  • Have you started a new business
  •  Moved into a retirement home
  •  Started a farm
  • How are you pursuing your passion


I’m looking for people in the Western U.S., specifically  including:  Eugene, Medford, Klamath Falls, Redmond/Bend, Coos Bay/North Bend, EurPalouse clouds (2) (640x427)eka/Arcata, and Redding.

Also Fresno, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, Boise, Sun Valley, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Lewiston.     And also: Bozeman, Missoula, Great Falls, Butte, Billings, Yakima, Walla Walla, Bellingham, Wenatchee, Port Angeles, Denver,  Sonoma County, Monterey, and the Reno/Tahoe area.

Seattle, too.

In addition to telling me your story, please include tips do you want to share with those getting ready for retirement.

I am also looking for expert sources who can talk about what Baby Boomers are doing in retirement.

If you’d like to share your story, please put your city and some idea of your tip or story in the subject line, and email me at:

Please  include your age, location and previous occupation in the email. I will select sources for the article based upon your responses, so be sure to include a lot of details.horses running outline (640x427)

Feel free to share this with your friends who are doing cool things in retirement or semi-retirement.

Or, you could leave me your story in the comments.

Your choice. Thanks for your help.






Freelance Journalist Wins 4 WA Press Association Awards

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

Once in a blue moon, I find I need to write a press release about myself. Here’s the latest, which I’m writing for my local newspaper.

 Freelance Journalist Wins WA Press Association Awards

Freelance Journalist M. Sharon Baker won four awards from the Washington Press Association for her online and magazine work.MSFT The One That Started snip (415x527)

The Anacortes resident won two First Place awards, a Second and a Third from the WPA, which is an organization of Washington State professional communicators including print and online journalists, public relations practitioners and students in these fields.

Baker won:

  • First Place, Features, food for “Seattle’s Pizza Wars”, a story about the growth of startup MOD Pizza and other new pizzerias that plan national rollouts, which ran in the March 2013 issue of Seattle Business.



  • Second Place General News for “Startup Generates Electricity from HVAC System Thanks to UW Design, Testing” for the University of Washington’s magazine, The Trend in Engineering.


  • Third Place Business/Technology for “The One that Started It All:,” a story on Microsoft Corp.’s efforts to help startups for ID8Nation’s Seattle digital magazine.


A former reporter with The Skagit Valley Herald, The Puget Sound Business Journal, and the defunct Journal American of Bellevue, Baker has been an independent journalist since 2001. Her recent work appears in Nation’s Restaurant News, Alaska Airlines magazine and Seattle Business, among other publications.

Baker is also a freelance content writer who helps companies connect with customers by writing case studies, white papers, web copy and other marketing materials.



Content Marketing

Beware: Freelance Writers Are NOT Content Strategists

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

Lately, I’ve stumbled across several freelance writers trying to recast themselves as content strategists.

To me the trend is disturbing and shows a lack of understanding of what a content strategist is and does.

Some writers may have been unduly influenced by several content marketing gurus, one of which suggested in 2009 that journalists should consider taking on that title. Only the advice was premature, and shows a lack of understanding of the job title.stopsign1

Additionally many from the traditional publishing world are co-opting the content strategist title, using it to mean they know how to creating engaging content that many people like to share on social media. But sharing doesn’t equate to sales.

The Content Marketing Institute issued an apology recently for its previous inability to distinguish content marketing and content strategy, and is making a large effort to educate marketers and others about content strategy and strategists and how it is different but related to content marketing.

Here’s the problem: Writers are trying to show that they offer more than just a commodity service, and are trying to show ways they can add value.

Here’s what one veteran writer advocating that writers should call themselves strategists said,

“If writers are:

  • Planning blog post topics
  • Setting the blog schedule
  • Designing the social media campaign to socialize posts
  • Writing blog posts
  • Utilizing SEO Keywords
  • Finding photos

Then you’re basically running every aspect of the blog for the client (so) that tag is appropriate.”

Editorial Strategist or Blog Content Manager More Appropriate 

These writers don’t understand that Content Marketing is not just using your blog to bring traffic in. They are operating as Blog Content Managers, not content strategists.

Maybe they should call themselves Editorial Strategists.

Creating content and directing content strategy are two related but very different disciplines, with “strategist” encompassing knowledge of measurement, nurturing, lead generation, marketing automation and data analytics in addition to content creation and content marketing.

Content Strategy: Mapping Prospects to Content, Measuring Success

Content Strategists create the strategy and plan on how to convert an audience into customers using many forms of content. They do not simply measure their success based upon traffic to their blog posts or social media accounts, which is what many writers are offering.

Real content strategists, working with the marketing team, create buyer personas through interviews with actual company customers. They don’t just ask company executives who the company’s target audience is.

The content strategist then creates buyer personas, which can encompass many different points of view and decision-making power. The Content Strategist also creates a plan on how to reach these different prospects based upon where they might be in the buying process, a process she’s hammered out and confirmed with the sales team.

Based upon information she’s gleaned from sales and customers, she then creates content for the different personas and different buying stages, using different avenues of content distribution. She understands where her prospects look for content and knows what kind of content they are looking for.

She has also learned how many pieces of content they need to consume before a prospect becomes a sales qualified lead, and she knows how to analyze data from a marketing automation system if the company she’s working for uses one.

The Content Strategist also knows that the process is fluid and dynamic, and understands that content and buyer personas may change and thus her strategy and execution must be flexible and able to change as the market does.

As you can see, this content strategist does a lot more than just manage a blog and social media distribution of the blog posts.

How do you know whether your writer is also a content strategist? Ask him what his process is for developing buyer personas, and how he measures success of his content. If he spouts social media shares as his only metric, then you know he isn’t a content strategist.

I’ll concede that some writers may have developed marketing chops and have the experience to call themselves content strategists. But I’m sure that only fits less than 1 percent of all freelance writers.

Have you run into writers assuming the content strategist title? Did they have any more experience than simply running a blog? How did you verify their claims?