Get Prospects to Pony Up for Your Web Copywriting Proposal

By Pam Foster | September 8, 2015

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Website Content Audits

Close up of a contract being signed

Turn your web copywriting proposals into projects in their own right and land more clients.

Hi there! I’m Pam Foster, your PWA guest writer this month.

I have a confession to make.

When I started out as a freelance web copywriter, I used to spend a couple of hours — maybe even more — preparing thoughtful, professional proposals for new projects. I was anxious to put my best foot forward and win over new prospects, getting them excited about working with me.

So with each prospect, I’d have an initial conversation for about a half an hour, asking about their needs and why they called me. We’d take a look at their website together while on the phone, and I’d point out some items I could improve with my copywriting skills.

Then, the prospect would ask me to prepare a proposal, outlining what needed to be fixed … and what it would take to fix it, including costs.

I’d say, “Sure! Let me get back to you within a couple of days with a custom proposal.” We’d hang up the phone and I’d jump into the next steps.

  • I’d look around the prospect’s website from the perspective of the prospect’s goals, target audience, products/services, and business purpose (what the prospect wanted visitors to do, such as download a report or watch a demo video).
  • I’d make notes on the current content, with particular attention to the message clarity, value message, calls-to-action, search-engine keyword use, etcetera. I’d also make note of what was missing from the content to get visitors to make a purchase or other desired action.
  • In addition, I’d take a quick look at Google searches to find a few sites from the prospect’s competition so I could identify opportunities for the prospect to set his company apart from the rest.
  • Sometimes I’d even do a little keyword research to identify search opportunities.
  • Finally, I’d prepare a 2-3-page proposal/agreement document that spelled out my initial findings, how I’d fix them, and what it would cost.

I presented this wonderful proposal to the prospect, fully expecting them to love it and hire me. But sometimes, it turned out that they didn’t have the budget to hire me.

What? Whoa — that’s a lot of work (and wasted time) for prospects that aren’t serious about hiring a professional web copywriter. Yuck.

Have you done this too? Have you spent a few hours preparing a great proposal, just to be turned down?

If you’ve been disappointed like this, after all your efforts, I have exciting news for you.

Starting now, no more free proposals.

Instead …

Get the right prospects to pony up for amazing proposals that will make them eager to hire you.

The technique I’m about to outline will also weed out the “tire-kickers” who aren’t prepared to pay for your valuable work.

Here’s the way to get paid for your proposal: offer to start with a professional Site Audit.

In essence, a Site Audit includes everything you do anyway to prepare a proposal … but with more detail. And, instead of presenting just a proposal, you’re delivering a report that helps prospects uncover and understand new opportunities to improve their website results. It helps you present yourself as a valued consultant from the start (vs. just a copywriter.)

Here’s what you can offer with a Site Audit:

  • A thorough review of the prospect’s site content, measuring it against web best practices: You’ll evaluate the web pages to see if it speaks to visitors with solution- and benefit-oriented messages, if it uses the most relevant SEO keywords and sales copy, if it offers helpful, scannable information within a user-friendly structure, if it guides visitors with offers and links that generate action (conversions), and if it consistently uses a competitive brand voice and SEO approach.
  • A detailed report of the site’s strengths and opportunities: Give prospects a substantial written document covering what you find: specific strengths and opportunities for improvement. This report can include screen shots indicating what’s working on the web pages and what can be improved; where the prospect’s company ranks in search engines, what’s displayed when the pages appear in search results … and how competitors compare in search results and web-content strength.
  • A customized Content Strategy to boost SEO traffic and site conversions: Promise to review the report with your prospect and discuss strategic ways to improve results across all pages or in the most critical sections of the site. (And guess what? You’ll be the ideal candidate to make those content improvements, right?)

Now, instead of a proposal, you’re presenting a valuable report worth $2,000 or more to the prospect.

And that’s exactly what the right prospects are willing to pay for this information — anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000 depending on the type of company, their marketing budget, the age of the site, and how serious they are about making big improvements.

When you offer this report in the right way with new prospects, they’ll say, “Yes — lets’ get started! Send me your deposit invoice.”

Isn’t that a lot better than a free proposal?

So this month, we’ll focus on using a Site Audit as a strategic method for landing new clients.

This week, let’s just open the door to offering a Site Audit to new prospects.

To begin with, establish your expertise and consultant role from the moment the prospect calls you. Be prepared with questions such as …

  • What do you sell?
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • What do you want visitors to do? (Prompt them with options such as, “email us, download a report, buy our new product,” etcetera.)
  • Why do you feel your website isn’t working?
  • What’s the competition?
  • What would success look like for you?

After going through these questions, you may find your role is also part “therapist” as the prospect reveals hurdles and frustrations with the content.

That’s perfect, because now you can say, “I have a way to fix all your content problems!” Then, offer the Site Audit report. Go into detail on what it will include and how it will help the prospect — all the insights and benefits.

If the prospect is serious about improving the site, he or she will be excited about getting this information. So excited, in fact, that when you name your price for the report, the prospect won’t hesitate.

See how this works? Now you’ve set the stage for a consultative, lucrative relationship — with the prospect ponying up for the very first project: a Site Audit.

Next week, we’ll dive into some specific tools to include in your Site Audit toolbox.

This article is part the series: Website Content Audits

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