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Moving from journalist to B2B content writer

Have you ever worked as a journalist?

Then you’ve got what it takes to move into the lucrative field of B2B content writing.

After all, you know how to write fast and tell a compelling story to your audience.

Your interview skills are top-notch.

And, you’ve likely scanned through mountains of reports to find the perfect nugget for a story.

So why not take advantage of the biggest boom in writing that’s come along in years?

It’s called B2B content marketing and any journalist is ideally positioned to move into it.

Moving to B2B Writing

What is B2B content?

B2B content includes blog posts, case studies, e-newsletters, press releases, slide decks, video scripts, white papers…

In fact, B2B content includes any piece of writing that helps a company rise in Google’s search results and attract prospective buyers.

But it’s not sales copy. And there are never any “Buy now” buttons in the margins.

B2B content is designed to help business people understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.

It’s a lot like service journalism.

And there’s a desperate shortage of good writers who can produce it. That’s where you come in, as an experienced journalist.

The skills you already have

Let’s take a look at the skills you already have:

  • Understanding an audience
  • Doing quick research
  • Interviewing experts
  • Telling a story
  • Handling quotes and sources
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Writing in a concise and lively style
  • Following house style
  • Working with an editor

All these could be very helpful to you as a B2B content writer.

Some new skills you may need

Despite all those great skills, most journalists will need to learn a few new things.

Let’s take a look at the new skills you may need to develop:

  • Analyzing an audience
  • Understanding why B2B buyers buy
  • Doing in-depth research
  • Writing to persuade
  • Formatting documents for quick scanning
  • Handling reviews and comments
  • Parking your ego: you’ll never get a byline for a piece of B2B content

Three things you may need to “unlearn”

And you probably picked up a few attitudes in the newsroom that will hinder your success as a B2B content writer, including:

  • Sales and marketing is “evil”
  • Cover both sides of the story
  • Break it first; fix it later

These three beliefs will hinder your success as a B2B content writer. And here’s why…

1. Sales & marketing is not evil

Remember: Journalists’ salaries have been either subsidized or paid outright, for nearly 200 years, by advertisers.

Close to 50,000 journalists have been laid off in the United States simply because billions of advertising dollars moved from newspapers to the web.

Sure, there are dishonest marketers. There are misleading ads. But as a journalist, you’ve navigated ethically murky waters before.

And as a B2B content writer, no one is going to ask you to lie, cheat, or steal.

You can find organizations that respect your ethics.

You can avoid any industry that you despise, whether that’s tobacco, or arms dealers, or fur, or whatever.

Most “content” is sponsored by somebody, whether that’s the advertisers on a TV show or the client who hires you to write B2B content.

2. There’s only one side to the story

Forget telling both sides of the story. In B2B content, there’s only one side of the story: your client’s.

You can no longer resort to those journalistic cliches: “On the other hand…” or “But some critics say…” There is no “other hand” in these stories. It’s up to the critics to put out their own disputing content.

When you produce B2B content, your job is to tell your client’s story and help them reach their audience.

You don’t have to lie or distort the facts. But you do have to keep the focus on your client’s story.

3. Slow down and get it right

In B2B content, you don’t have to worry about getting the scoop. Accuracy is more important than speed. There’s no second edition where you can correct any mistakes.

Sure, you can upload a new version of your piece. But all those business buyers who saw the mistakes have already formed a poor impression of the company.

Your top priority will be to explain and persuade with facts and logic.

Take your time, check and recheck, polish and re-polish, and build a thoughtful piece that gets results.

A market that appreciates journalists

Don’t be ground down by the state of journalism these days.

The B2B content market needs your skills and companies will pay well for them. You’ll be respected and well-treated: a welcome change from most newsrooms today.

You can use this opportunity to make the money you need and put some aside to subsidize a truly great piece of journalism.

Plus, having your skills in demand for well-paying work gives you power and confidence to negotiate in any market.

Need more help getting started?

Worried that you don’t know the first thing about B2B content?

Check out my Crash Course in B2B Content.

This is a quick-start guide to writing the 12 most popular forms of B2B content, from blog posts to white papers.

The crash course describes each format, shows examples including a detailed video walkthrough, tells the going rates you can charge, and gives lots of tips to help you start writing that format right away.

Twenty years ago, before I became That White Paper Guy, I was a freelance journalist who wrote almost 1,000 magazine articles.

I still work with words, interview people all over the world, and tell stories with flair.

About Gordon Graham

Author of close to 300 white papers on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, from tiny startups to 3M, Google and Verizon. Also wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 50 5-star ratings on Amazon. And Gordon was recently named 2019 Copywriter of the Year by AWAI.

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