We modern humans have very little tolerance for crappy business ethics.
Companies that choose to exploit human labor, ruin the environment, do business with shady suppliers, or adopt creative financial practices pretty much get a death sentence.
And we have one specific entity to thank for that: the internet.
For better or worse, we have a torrent of information available to us 24/7. As with any type of news, business wrong-doing spreads like wildfire; our social media feeds are bursting with the latest corporate scandal within minutes.
Business is changing for the better because we now demand and expect better. And this wouldn’t have happened without the spread of information and transparency made possible by the internet.
OK, great. But what does all this mean for you, a freelance blogger?
Put simply, your work is an integral part of the spread of information. Blogs are read and shared. A lot. Primarily by GenXers and Millennials, generations characterized by their strong beliefs in business accountability, who now constitute over ⅔ of the workforce in the U.S alone. In other words, the people who now run companies and make business decisions with corporate responsibility and ethics at the forefront of their minds are reading your content.
Bottom line is, positioning yourself as a blogger who cares about — and is knowledgeable in — the profound social impact of businesses doing good sets you apart from other bloggers.
Having a solid understanding of how to write with this angle can definitely generate more clients for you.
And, speaking of, don’t forget about the good it will do your clients, of course! Highlighting the positive social impact of their product or service in your blogging can increase their web traffic, social media following, reputation, and revenue.
It’s a win-win.
So how can you best go about playing up your clients’ attributes and making them look like the rockstars they are?
1. Make a list of their key values (by reading their About page)
On your client’s About page — unless they really need to hire a new copywriter — you’ll find the fundamental reason they’re in business, what they hope to achieve, and how they help their customers.
An About page also outlines their core beliefs and values, as well as their long-term business goals. But don’t forget to pay attention to how they word these things, and their word choice, which will also tell you a lot.
For example, take a look at the About page for Smithereen Pest Management in Chicago. Their second sentence states “we offer partnerships with our clients . . . while simultaneously developing long term strategies for sustainable pest control.”
Their deliberate use of “partnership” and “long term strategies” implies they value both equality and commitment to positive change. If Smithereen was your client, you’d definitely want to add those key values to your list.
Once you have your list, use it to incorporate into future blog posts. Here’s how.
2. Weave the good into each post
Consider your client’s next blog topic, and go over your list to see which of the company’s values most closely aligns with that subject. Then think of ways to highlight it and weave it in. Here are some examples:
- Your client sells jewelry made by local artisans. His mission statement includes a commitment to using sustainable, locally sourced materials in jewelry making. He wants his next blog post to feature the best alternatives to diamonds. This is a perfect opportunity for you to reinforce how using diamond alternatives speaks correlates to his mission to use eco-friendly materials that help build the local economy.
- Another one of your clients is an accountant. On her About page, she says she’s committed to helping women-owned businesses succeed. Your next post for her will be about how much money it takes to be happy. You’ll want to Google what money / happiness / success means to career women, highlight that in the post, and emphasize how your client understands the needs of women in business.
You won’t always find an exact match, and that’s OK. The point here isn’t to try to force something to fit, but rather to consider the positive effect each of your posts will have on the community.
3. A positive impact can be almost anything — you just have to find it
You may be saying to yourself, “my client doesn’t have a whole lot in their About page, and I’m not really sure what kind of good they’re doing.”
But the truth is, unless you’re blogging for a snake oil salesman or a puppy mill (and dear God, we truly hope you’re not), the products or services your client sells are making a positive social impact in some way.
Good can be found just about anywhere; it doesn’t necessarily have to be “obvious,” like the work that a nonprofit does. Think social, environmental, cultural, economic, humanitarian, etc.
Here’s some other areas to explore if you’re still having trouble:
- Target Market – Who is the client specifically marketing to, and why? What are the needs or desires of that demographic and how is the client meeting them?
- Physical Location – Is the client urban, suburban, or rural? Why have they chosen that location? What features of the community, their company history, or their employees does this speak to?
- Primary Product or Service – What is the client’s primary product or service, and what is its purpose? What good does this product or service do for their customers, themselves (besides profit), and the greater community?
4. Suggest writing a feature “doing good” post for them
In addition to the ways in which their regular business is helping someone somewhere, your client probably donates time or money to a specific cause (or two!). Ask them what theirs is, and suggest doing a feature blog post on that.
This is something that’s best done at least 2-3 times a year to keep readers engaged and let them know that your client’s good work is ongoing.
For instance, if your client donates to the Feral Cat Coalition, you might think about creating a cute series of featured posts that follows their donations’ progress. Something like “Over the past 6 months, X’s [donations / time / energy] has improved Jax the kitty’s life in so many ways . . . check him out in his new, healthy digs!” Sure, this isn’t (typically) directly related to the client’s goods or services, but it tells a heartwarming story that energizes readers.
The emphasis here is on story.This is a buzzword that we’re hearing more and more in the marketing world. Companies now “craft” or “tell stories” rather than “advertise,” a shift brought about by Millennials’ unwavering demand for business transparency.
A catchphrase slapped on a picture of hot people at the beach doesn’t cut it anymore. People now want to know an in-depth reason why and how the product or service exists and, most important, is it ethical?
5. Research your client’s competitors and peers
How do you find the best strategies to play up your client’s good work?
Since you’re an awesome freelance blogger, you probably have a few tried and true general writing strategies of your own that you rely on, which is great. But go one step further – check out other businesses in your client’s industry and see what they’re blogging about.
- Pay attention to the angles the bloggers are using to present the client to the world in a positive light.
- Take notes on what you think works and what doesn’t. Those subtle, tasteful references to the good nature of their work? Totally cool. Blatant self-promotion with zero thought about the bigger picture? Not so much.
- Check out This Good World, a search platform designed for people who want to support businesses that are doing good in their community. This is a fantastic resource because it features businesses in industries across the board, from pest control (which is where I found Smithereen, by the way), to hardware stores, to breweries.
Have you used any of these techniques before? Or can you think of other ways to highlight your clients’ good deeds?