Leverage Your Strengths for Faster Copywriting Success …
By Judith Culp | April 5, 2017
Getting started as a freelancer can be daunting. Learning the technical skills is only part of the task. Finding clients … the right clients … is more challenging. For me, looking at what I already knew was the answer.
I’ve spent over 35 years in the spa and beauty industry with a focus on wellness and education. Worn just about every possible hat. Employee, employer, independent contractor, manufacturer’s educator, instructor, lecturer, and writer. Using that experience seemed to make sense for the next chapter in my life.
Like most in this industry, I’d run my own business. Service provider, marketing, admin. I knew the trade from the inside out. Its needs, pains, and dreams. It was just a matter of turning that knowledge into a long-term retirement income.
Fortunately, I stumbled across AWAI and discovered copywriting. I stuck my toe in the water and took Joshua Boswell’s Simple Path to Success program. That was a game changer.
I’d had limited luck finding a client, but since I owned my own business, I could practice there. Maybe I could improve our web pages, improve our newsletter. It was a good place to start.
I dove through numerous AWAI classes. Looked for ways to apply persuasive writing techniques to my business. At the same time, I kept marketing myself to colleagues.
Fast-forward eight months, and I received a message from my shipping manager. He felt like there were more packages going out than before, so he ran the numbers. Gross sales were up 28 percent. Validation! My writing was making a difference, and my confidence jumped. It was time for me to stop keeping my skills to myself and go after more potential clients.
The rule of 80/20 …
Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing book was a real eye-opener for me as I started to pursue new clients in a more focused way. Following the 80/20 rule, at least 80 percent of businesses in my niche were probably not my ideal clients. Financially, they were too small.
I needed to find a way to reach the 20 percent that would be good potential clients — those that needed help, saw value, and could afford to hire me.
LinkedIn, trade publications, and trade associations turned out to be key.
On LinkedIn, I started connecting with managers in the spa business and those in the wellness travel niche. I spent time posting, following, sharing, commenting, and networking. I needed to expand my circle to include more management decision makers.
LinkedIn is a great resource to research companies. Learning their size and other demographics helped me spend my marketing time more effectively.
Regular use of LinkedIn has helped me open dialogs and develop followers. I received offers of FAM trips (the familiarization trips, or “getaways” paid for by businesses looking for writers to cover their products and offers) if I could make it to Europe. And, I got some serious client leads.
Another way I went after clients was to query the editors I knew at trade publications and establish deeper relationships with them. I pitched articles and now submit to those with an information and business focus that offer paid bylines.
Focusing on paid opportunities did make me say no to a publication I’d been working with for 25 years. I’d been giving them a monthly column, but had received little compensation or ROI. The publication’s readers were not my target market. As a result, with my new mindset, I chose to replace myself and give myself more free time to focus on the right client prospects.
As I researched better client opportunities, I found that there were more industry associations than I realized. They all have different targeted groups. But to succeed, I needed to focus on associations that catered to serious professionals.
One metric I used was to focus on groups that required paid membership, as I’ve found that paid membership shows commitment. Their conferences are more educational (and more expensive). But if members were willing to invest in these things, it likely meant they’d be willing to invest in my services, too.
So, I joined some of these groups. It’s a different environment for me, but this is where the “big boys” are. I intentionally moved away from the mass of small entrepreneurs and focused on medium to larger firms.
Joining these groups also gave me access to inside information not available on the open Web, like statistics, reports, and financials demographics. These were things I could use to hone in on that 20 percent and their ideal prospects.
I attended their conference as a service provider. My message — low key, soft sell, and get acquainted. Attendees were B2C and B2B vendors. I made connections in both groups. Within three months, I had a paying client, and it happened in a very natural way.
One day, I opened my email to see an e-blast from one of the trade associations I had joined soliciting contributors to share their expertise in its international trade magazine. I saw it as a golden opportunity to get my message, and name, in front of the magazine’s readers — my target group. Aside from payment, the value of this kind of exposure can be huge. Plus, not only did they like my first article … they scheduled more!
It also opened doors for me. With the relationship established, I pitched an idea to the editor. Two days later, I found myself talking with the association’s project manager. They wanted to partner with me. A webinar I did is now posted on their website and available to members as a resource. Additional resource materials are planned, mostly drawn from articles I’ve already written. All they need is a little repurposing … and it’s more free marketing for me!
I’m also taking steps to grow my reputation as an expert with the broader membership base outside of the article. For their next silent auction, I’m going to offer a couple of site evaluation gift certificates. I’ve done this in the past with a smaller group and received positive responses. It’s a high-value offer that doesn’t take a lot of time. Plus, regardless of whether gift certificate buyers hire me for other projects, they’ll have warm, fuzzy feelings and (hopefully) share my helpfulness with others by referring me to their friends in the business.
My takeaway for you …
Look at your background for your strengths and core experiences. Within them might be your quickest niche to get to your goals. Leaning on them gives you confidence. Stay focused on activities that will connect you to your target group. Learn from your mistakes and savor every victory as you continue to take small steps forward on the path to your writer’s life.
This article is part the series: Success Stories
- Part 1 (this page): Leverage Your Strengths for Faster Copywriting Success …
- Part 2: The Road to Copywriting Success Is Paved with Breadcrumbs
- Part 3: How a Niche Drives My Copywriting Business
- Part 4: Freelance to Full-Time — There’s Many Roads to the Writer’s Life