36 World-Class Copywriters & Marketers Reveal Their 3 Top Tips for Lead Generation
Featured Writers & Marketers...
- Tom Albrighton – ABC Copywriting.com
- Laurence Blume – FreelanceCopywriter.co.uk
- Bob Bly – Bly.com
- Julia Borgini – Spacebarpress.com
- Peter Bowerman – The Well-Fed Writer.com
- Jeff Bullas – jeffbullas.com
- Cindy Cyr – Cincyrcopywriting.com
- Tracey Dooley – TraceyDooley.co.uk
- Linda Formichelli – Lindaformichelli.com
- Alan Forrest Smith – OrangeBeetle.com
- Pam Foster – PetCopywriter.com
- Shel Horowitz – FrugalMarketing.com
- Dianna Huff – HuffIndustrialMarketing.com
- Randy Kemp – B2BTechCopy.com
- Clement Lim – LimWriter.com
- Heather Lloyd-Martin – SEOCopywriting.com
- Peg Miller – b2bmarketingacademy.com
- Fiona Mocatta – Mocatta.org
- Nick Moore – Amp-Media.org
- Glenn Murray – DivineWrite.com.au
- Jake Poinier – Dr.Freelance.com
- Daniel Priestley – KeyPersonOfInfluence.com
- Dave Rogenmoser – JoinTheAlliance.co
- Konrad Sanders – The Creative-Copywriter.net
- Howard Smith – NoSloppyCopy.co.uk
- Joan Stewart – ThePublicityHound.com
- Darren Thackeray – DarrenPaulThackeray.com
- Kate Toon – KateToonCopywriter.com.au
- Sarah Turner – TurnerInk.co.uk
- Dean Turney – LondonCopywriter.co.uk
- Anne Wayman – AboutFreelanceWriting.com
- Wendy Weiss – ColdCallingResults.com
- Jay White – Email Copy Guru.com
- Troy White – SmallBusinessCopywriter.com
- Joanna Wiebe – Copyhackers.com
- Marcia Yudkin – Yudkin.com
Whether you’re just starting out as a freelance copywriter or a seasoned pro, your business is going nowhere without sales.
Sales are the difference between a successful business and an expensive hobby.
But how do you get those sales?
It all starts with leads. Generate enough leads and you’ll generate sales. Simple…but not easy.
The problem is, we all suffer with hang-ups, fears and doubts that can stop us dead in our tracks and prevent us from doing what we need to.
Our business becomes dangerously ill, needs intensive care and a powerful, effective, FAST cure.
That’s why I asked some of the world’s best freelance copywriters and marketers:
‘What are your top 3 tips that freelance copywriters can use to generate leads?’
I received 36 brilliant responses. So if there’s one particular lead generation method that makes you shudder with fear when you think about it – networking, anyone? – there’s plenty more that you can do instead to set you on your way to building a successful, profitable business.
I’ve listed the contributors below, in alphabetical order, for you. Either start at the top and work your way down, use the handy table of contents above to jump straight to your favourite copywriter or marketer, or use my at-a-glance tables below if you’re pushed for time.
Don’t want to spend time reading all these tips? No problem…
Some of the tips mentioned several times by different people:
- Prioritise quality over quantity in your content
- Specialise / become an expert in a particular niche
- Do what you enjoy
- Send them a personalised email
- Market yourself, consistently
- Engage in inbound marketing
- Get your SEO in order and drive traffic to your website
- Ask for referrals
- Understand what type of clients you’re trying to attract – and go after only them
- Position yourself in a specific niche industry
- Phone Prospecting (aka cold calling)
- Build relationships with clients and treat them beautifully
- Build a website
- Guest post
- Track your contacts
Some of the more unusual / rarely heard tips:
- Do exactly the opposite to what most copywriters are doing
- Go high-end, demonstrate the transformation, sell it and scale it
- Market as a business consultant
- Find three mentors online
- Get the basics right
- Direct mail
- Write a killer LinkedIn profile to act like a sales page
- Ads in e-zines
- Research the businesses / organisations / agencies you want to work with
- Partner with Designers
- Build an email list
- Create a free ebook
- Get onto the speaking circuit
- Be real (‘human’)
- Blog like you mean it
- Start locally
The suggestions below are particularly great if you’re a freelance B2B copywriter or marketer.
For brilliant advice on getting stories, features and news articles published on websites and in magazines and newspapers…
Tom Albrighton – ABC Copywriting.com
Tom has over 15 years’ experience of working with words, gained in publishing houses, design studios and as founder/director of ABC.
1. Prioritise quality over quantity in your content. Me-too listicles and reactive ‘what X teaches us about Y’ posts just won’t cut it any more. I blog far less than I used to, but when I do, I put the hours in and try to make it genuinely shareable and link-worthy. If your content doesn’t even get out there, it won’t bring you any business – and you’d be better off doing something else.
2. Use your specialisations. You don’t necessarily have to become ‘a specialist’ in just one area. But if you can see a way to position yourself as someone who knows a particular industry or medium, go ahead. Maybe there’s a landing page or a sales letter you could put together around that skill. As well as attracting leads of a certain type, you can also prime your existing clients to recommend you as the go-to guy for those gigs, so it becomes self-fulfilling.
3. Do what you enjoy. If you really hate in-person networking (as I do), there’s no point in forcing yourself through it when you could be, say, writing a killer mailshot. This isn’t about sitting in your comfort zone – it’s about making the best use of your time and motivation. Those are two of the most precious resources you have as a freelancer, so don’t fritter them away on stuff you feel you ‘should’ be doing. Put your heart into something you enjoy and you reap what you sow.
Laurence Blume – FreelanceCopywriter.co.uk
Laurence is highly experienced and has been a professional freelance copywriter since 2000, having spent the 18 years before that as a copywriter and creative director at some of the top marketing services companies in the UK.
1) Stop talking about being a copywriter and go to market as a business consultant. People need help driving business. That means identifying and delivering big messages. That’s what you do, isn’t it?
2) Productise. Telling people you are a freelance copywriter if they happen to need one gets you less response than saying you write fantastic sales letters, or make websites convert better.
3) Market yourself, dammit. It’s what you say you know about. Invest money on mailing, paid social, PPC etc. They work.
Bob Bly – Bly.com
Bob is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant with three decades of experience in business-to-business and direct response marketing.
1—Direct mail, either a sales letter and reply card in a #10 envelope, or a postcard with a phone number and link to a landing page.
2—Ads in e-zines published by major trade magazines reaching your target audience.
3—SEO to drive traffic to your web site featuring a prominent call to action on the upper right corner of the home page; e.g., www.Bly.com
Julia Borgini – Spacebarpress.com
Julia’s a self-confessed geek who’s been helping technology companies as a writer and marketing consultant for more than a decade.
My top 3 tips freelance copywriters can use to generate leads are:
Understand what type of clients you’re trying to attract.
Use the channels that make sense for that type of client. For example, since I’m going after technology companies, I tend to use a lot of social media like Twitter and LinkedIn.
Be consistent with your marketing and do it all the time….even when you’re busy!
Peter Bowerman – The Well-Fed Writer.com
Peter is the author of the quadruple award-winning book, The Well-Fed Writer (affiliate link) – a must for any aspiring or new freelance commercial writer. His popular ezine, blogs, teleclasses, and coaching have also helped to guide countless freelancers and self-publishing authors towards commercial success.
1) Partner with Designers (The Gift that Keeps on Giving):
Graphic designers who work for the same kinds of clients as we do often need copywriters (when the client isn’t supplying the writing, or when the writing they are supplying is awful).
A really good copywriter who enhances the value proposition of a designer, while delighting that designer’s clients may very well find themselves with a steady source of work.
I just finished a project with a graphic designer a month or so ago. When did we first work together? 1995. Over 21 years, she’s been my #1 most profitable client—by far.
2) Phone Prospecting (With a Different Attitude):
Forget the silly assertions by marketing “experts” that it’s an ineffective strategy for the modern age. Assuming you’re calling enough of the right people, it absolutely can work—largely because so few people do it.
But do yourself a favor, and focus on action, not results: Set a goal of X number of calls/day, and don’t sweat the outcome—NOT X number of leads or prospects.
The latter approach will just make you sound desperate if “results” aren’t happening, while the former, if done enough and consistently—and thanks to the Law of Averages—can’t help but get results.
3) Networking (With a Twist):
It’s easy to find networking events that are general in nature—meaning events with practitioners of all stripes.
While such events can be fruitful, they can just as often be a bust. If you are pursuing a particular niche, why not seek out networking events sponsored by that specific industry?
By definition, you’ll find a whole lot of industry-related practitioners, but, chances are, you won’t find many—or any—other writers.
And since everyone there, in theory, needs what you offer, it could be a far more productive outing.
Jeff Bullas – jeffbullas.com
Jeff is an entrepreneur, blogger, author, marketer and speaker. He is ranked the World’s #1 Business Blogger, #1 Global “Digital Marketing Influencer” – 2016 and #1 Content Marketing Influencer from 6M+ daily web updates in 2015 by Appinions.
Writing for living can be tough so you need to get smart to generate leads with digital marketing.
Here are 3 tips to grow your email list and brand awareness.
Create a free e-book that showcases your talent and also offers great value to visitors to your blog (or website) but asks for an email in return.
Create a popup using an app like SumoMe.
Then go and guest post on high profile bloggers so that you get visibility with their audience.
Cindy Cyr – Cincyrcopywriting.com
Cindy is an AWAI-trained copywriter who comes from a career in direct sales and advertising, during which she helped create 1748 ads and won more than 100 sales and recruiting awards. Cindy focuses on copywriting for websites, emails and e-newsletters.
1) Know your WHO.
Going after every possible person who could ever use your service is a waste of time.
Get a solid grasp on who your ideal client is, where to find them and what it is they truly desire that only you can provide.
2) Create an irresistible offer.
Create a lead magnet that you can offer prospects.
This can be a book, CD, diagnostic report of their website, or other kinds of gifts that are related to your copywriting business.
3) Put yourself into a category of one.
Figure out what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is that will compel people to hire you above others and be certain you can clearly and concisely explain it to them.
Tracey Dooley – TraceyDooley.co.uk
Well, the obvious answer to your most excellent question is ‘word of mouth’. Referrals are great because they are much further along in your sales funnel; they’re probably already looking for a copywriter, they know someone who has commissioned you to write for them (and hopefully thinks you’re wonderful)…and you come highly recommended to them.
So the next time you finish a copywriting project — and each time after that — pick up the phone or email your client and ask for a referral. However, don’t use the R word itself: for many people, the word “referral” has negative connotations. Instead, simply ask, “Who else do you know that would be interested in my services?”
The next most obvious way to generate leads is to network. Now, I’m completely rubbish at this. I’m fairly introverted (though I don’t come across that way, which is odd) and break into a sweat (glow?) just thinking of it, but it really is a great way to get business. And you never know who you might meet and where it might lead.
Turn up at niche groups, professional associations and so on. Work with other people in your field. Do or say something helpful or positive: people might start talking about you. Give out business cards…whatever…the idea is to get noticed — and for the right reasons.
Another way is to remind people that your (quite frankly, amazing) skills are still available to hire. Get in touch with people that have chatted with you about work in the past — whether or not they hired you at the time. Be polite. Say hello, enquire how things are going for them, maybe mention your recent work commissions, and let them know you have some copywriting slots to fill.
Linda Formichelli – Lindaformichelli.com
Linda Formichelli has been a full-time freelance writer since 1997, serving clients as diverse as Redbook, Travelocity, OnStar, Bay State Gas, and Pizza Today Magazine. She’s the co-founder of Renegade Writer Press, which offers books for writers and other smart people, and offers Freelance Writing Success Coaching at LindaFormichelli.com.
1. Use shoe leather.
I think too many writers rely solely on inbound marketing because they’re afraid to put themselves out there — but this is, in effect, waiting passively for people to find you. (Not to mention you tend to attract a lot of tire-kickers this way because you’re not pre-qualifying them.)
Instead, I recommend researching businesses you’d like to write for and approaching them with your offer. That way you’re in control, you’re choosing clients you’d like to work with, and you’re not stuck passively sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.
Sure, have an amazing website, a great LinkedIn Profile, maybe an email list with an enticing incentive…but the bulk of your marketing should consist of you going out and prospecting.
2. Use Volume Marketing.
When it comes to prospecting, no need to listen to the “marketing gurus” who say you have to use Twitter, or have to have an email list, or whatever. Pick the one or two forms of marketing you enjoy so much you’d be willing to do them over and over, and then work the hell out of them.
Do 30 cold calls a day…or mail out batches of sales letters every week…or build a compelling Twitter profile, reach out to prospects on there, and curate and schedule tons of helpful, interesting posts. I call this “Volume Marketing” (book and/or class coming on that soon!)
If you attempt to use every marketing technique/platform pushed by other people, you’re diluting your power and scattering your focus. You don’t need them all…you only need the one you’re best at.
3. Use your discretion.
The implication of “finding leads” is that you’re looking for quantity. But attracting loads of prospects who aren’t a good fit for you is just wasting time — time you could be spending on attracting the right clients.
Some examples of using your discretion to attract the right leads is posting a range of project prices on your website to “scare away” prospects who can’t afford you; picking a narrow niche instead of being a generalist; being clear on your website and in your marketing who you work for; or asking prospects to schedule a brief all with you before you’ll offer a project quote.
Being careful of who you deal with will result in higher-quality (and better-paying) clients for you in the end…and, even better, it offers the amazing side effect of making you look like an in-demand writer who can afford to pick and choose, instead of one who has to scramble for clients.
Alan Forrest Smith – OrangeBeetle.com
Alan is known for his eccentricity, honesty and trustfulness as a results-driven, problem-solving advisor, fixer and man who delivers unusually and almost-hard-to-believe results.
I really don’t have top three tips but i would advise any copywriter to do exactly the opposite to what most copywriters are doing. Most follow a sheep-like strategy that keeps them poor. This is good for nothing.
A copywriter has to learn the art of selling himself/services before he ever has a copywriting business more than ever because the world has become awash with a new breed of copywriter.
Pam Foster – PetCopywriter.com
When you look at online job boards or Google searches, you’ll find that companies are looking for copywriters who understand their industry.
Clients love to find a skilled copywriter who already knows their prospects’ needs and buying habits, industry trends and language, competition, etc. Therefore, to generate leads for your copywriting business — position yourself in a specific niche industry.
First, select a niche you know about: if you come from an IT background, write for IT clients.
Second, make sure your website reflects that niche so clients will find you via online searches (“IT copywriter”).
Third, “niche-ify” your LinkedIn profile, and connect with colleagues and groups in that niche. The niche approach has worked wonders for me in the pet industry, and for many other copywriters I know.
Shel Horowitz – FrugalMarketing.com
Shel is an award-winning author, consultant, and speaker. His consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company.
I’m a big fan of participating in communities, both in-person and virtual. Look for chances to show off your expertise, e.g., answering questions. Use a sig that explains your best strengths (online).
Listen helpfully to others (in-person) and look for chances to introduce them to others who can help them–they will want to reciprocate.
Dianna Huff – HuffIndustrialMarketing.com
Dianna has been a respected B2B marketing expert since 1998 and works with manufacturers large and small. She has won numerous awards and has an admirable vision: to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
The go-to strategy I’ve used for years is to write articles for publications my prospective customers read. This strategy has three components:
1. Finding the right publication – Since I work with small manufacturers, for example, writing articles for Gardner Media’s marketing blog is a great way to build my name and expertise with their manufacturing audience.
2. Staying on target – Write about topics that concern your prospective customers and show how you can solve their challenges.
3. Promoting your expertise – Create a blurb and link to the article for all your marketing assets: blog, e-newsletter, website, social profiles and even your proposals for copywriting gigs.
Randy Kemp – B2BTechCopy.com
Randy is a B2B technology content marketer and writer and a Hubspot-certified inbound marketer. Although semi-retired, Randy does take on interesting clients – “that come my way”.
Engage in inbound marketing via social media, generate and share free tips and articles in social media, and become recognized as providing expert advice – in social media groups (i.e. LinkedIn).
Clement Lim – LimWriter.com
Clement Lim is an experienced freelance copywriter and content strategist based in London, UK. He helps businesses around the world with their digital marketing strategies. Read more of his work at limwriter.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you want leads, you’re going to have to work for them.
It takes time to see the results, but if you do it right, you’ll get to a point where things start to snowball. Before you know it, you’ll be turning away work.
These are my top 3 tips for generating leads:
1. Narrow down your niche
If you brand yourself as a “freelance copywriter,” you’re competing with all the other freelance copywriters out there. So don’t do this.
Find a niche, one that you know lots about. Brand yourself as a niche specialist and people will instantly see you as an expert.
2. Establish your authority
Client testimonials and portfolio pieces from your best projects will show people what you’re capable of.
But say you’re just starting out, and you don’t have any portfolio pieces to show. As my friend Bamidele Onibalusi has shown, you can build your reputation by guest posting on industry blogs.
3. Build relationships with clients
When you approach a prospective client, you can jump right in and pitch your services right away. But understand that many people will not respond to this.
Instead, try this: Don’t pitch them right away. Just reach out to them. Ask them about what they’re doing. After you’ve struck up a conversation, can mention what you do. You might find they’re eager to know more.
If you want more exclusive tips on getting leads, check out my latest post on lead generation techniques.
Heather Lloyd-Martin – SEOCopywriting.com
Known as a fast-talking, high energy and tell-it-like-it-is redhead, Heather is highly respected throughout the world as a leading authority on writing copy that achieves success in the search engines and converts visitors into subscribers and buyers.
My top tip is to find three mentors online — folks who you admire, trust, and do what you do (or something similar.) Read their blog. Follow their tweets. Intelligently comment on their writing.
Offer your help without asking for anything in return. Maybe even send them a “Hey, I loved your article and it changed how I think about things” note.
Eventually, if you do it right, your mentors will notice your efforts and start responding to you. They may send short notes at first. But, that’s OK — you’re slowly building a relationship.
Down the line, your mentor may ask your advice about something. Or, they may ask if you can write for them. Or, they may be wiling to retweet your post to their 50,000 followers.
Because of your efforts, you’ll have a solid relationship with people who can improve your business and your life.
Peg Miller – b2bmarketingacademy.com
Peg is a marketing practitioner, consultant, writer and speaker helping B2B marketers excel at their craft through the B2B Marketing Academy, of which she is co-founder.
1) Build a conversion funnel on your website to capitalize on the inbound traffic you receive to your blog.
Execute a plan to collect email names so you can promote yourself.
2) Be bold about creating and “productizing” what you do, complete with price sheets. Be OK with sharing what you do with people you know.
Business opportunities can come from anyone you know. I have a consultant friend who found her largest client during a random conversation at a friend’s wedding.
3) To kick-start your business, schedule conversations with three people who you view as successful in your field.
Ask them how they got started, what they’ve learned along the way, and what tips they would tell someone who is starting out new. You’ll be surprised how much people in our craft are willing to share.
Be sure to pay it forward by sharing your knowledge with up and comers via meetups and other networking opportunities.
Fiona Mocatta – Mocatta.org
Fiona has written copy for print, online and social media for hundreds of happy clients and possesses a strong marketing background which means she can help with content suggestions and marketing ideas.
My three top tips for lead generation would be networking, networking and more networking.
Some networking tips:
Join groups, go often and don’t prejudge where your next piece of work may come from. Often it’s from the person you’d least expect.
Meet with members outside the group and get to know them. Be friendly. Be patient.
Go when you’ve never been busier. Go when you’d prefer to be on the sofa in your PJs. Go when you can’t bear the thought of any more stiff salmon or gastro pub-style burgers.
Enjoy it. It’s fun and it works. Good luck!
Nick Moore – Amp-Media.org
Nick is a freelance sports writer, Olympic News Service reporter and social media expert who has worked for clients including Nike, Adidas, Barclays, UEFA, the IOC, the FA, Manchester United FC, Liverpool FC, the MoD, Hyundai, The London Evening Standard, The Independent, FourFourTwo and Forever Sport.
Here are my tips for generating freelance leads:
1. Suggest something that will help the editor.
Simply sending a CV to a magazine/ client rarely generates direct work: no matter how dazzling it may be, they’re busy people with a job to do.
Instead, study their magazine/ content/ output and put forward some ideas that directly fit the sort of model/ kind of content they run.
It’s much easier for an editor to commission a job they like the sound of than for them to have to think of something for you to do. Make an editor’s life easy and they’ll come back to you again and again.
2. Email works best.
Phoning up an editor means they have to deal with you right now – and right now might not be the best time.
An email is something they can deal with in their own time, and is far more likely to be responded to.
They’re also easy to ignore, but wait a week or so before sending a follow up “did you get my email?” note – otherwise you might irritate them.
I generally see a couple of ignored emails as a sign of rudeness on behalf of an editor (it doesn’t take long to ping back a polite ‘no’). In that case, perhaps they’re someone you might not want to work with, anyway.
3. Get the basics right.
It’s much easier to delete your pitch/ email if you’ve spelled the editor’s name wrong, used poor grammar in the pitch or misunderstood their product/ magazine.
If you come across as lazy/ ignorant of them, they’re not going to trust you with writing something – and rightly so.
Take your time, learn their product (and its angles/ audience), and you’ll be far more successful.
Glenn Murray – DivineWrite.com.au
I’m a specialist website copywriter and started Divine Write in 2002 after working as a technical writer in software for 9 years. He’s been a full-time professional writer since 1994 and has written for over 300 clients.
My top tips would be:
Treat all your clients beautifully – always over-deliver. Repeat work is the best sort of work. Not just because it keeps coming back, but because the clients who come back tend to be the ones who are easiest to work with.
Get your SEO in order. It takes a lot of work to get to page one of Google, but once you’re there, you don’t have to work too hard to maintain it, and you’ll enjoy a pretty steady stream of new work.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Cold call, go to networking events and conferences, become an expert in a particular niche and offer yourself as a speaker or guest blogger on that subject matter.
Jake Poinier – Dr.Freelance.com
Copywriter and editor Jake Poinier is the author of several books on the business of freelancing, including The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid.
1. Cultivate complementary creatives.
As a writer, my best salespeople are the graphic designers, web designers, photographers, and PR pros with whom I’ve worked over the years.
Plus, as fellow creatives, they “get it”—they’re not going to send a crummy prospect.
2. Rethink referrals.
1) Instead of using the word “referral,” ask “Is there anyone you’d be willing to introduce me to?” That takes some of the pressure off.
2) Always send a handwritten thank-you note (not just email!) to someone who sends a referral, even if it doesn’t pan out.
3) Reciprocate whenever you can.
3. Avoid competition.
Job boards and marketplaces pit you against an unknown number of other writers.
That’s a weak position, both in negotiation and pricing. Instead, invest the time in the strategies—cold-calling, letters of introduction, networking, speaking engagements, etc.—that your competition is too lazy or intimidated to execute.
Daniel Priestley – KeyPersonOfInfluence.com
Daniel started out as an entrepreneur at 21 and built a multi-million-dollar event, marketing and management business before the age of 25. A successful entrepreneur, international speaker and best-selling author, Daniel has built and sold businesses in Australia, Singapore and the UK.
Step 1. Go High-end: You’re much better off being a copy writer for a small number of elite clients than being a writer for every man and his dog. A total of 12 clients who pay a high-value retainer (£500 – £1500 per month) would be a lot better than trying to win lots of small gigs.
Step 2. Demonstrate the Transformation: Select influencers and business leaders you admire, choose a blog they’ve written and send them a version of it the you’ve written – only better! Take a basic blog and add case studies, examples, analogies and flair. Send it to them on twitter, linked and email and say that you want to do this work for them every month.
Step 3. Sell it and Scale it: Get face to face with people or on Skype and sell your services. Make it easy to do business with you. Allow for a 3-6 month trial period and then ask for a referral when the results are coming in. Do that for 100-200 influencers and you should end up with all the clients you can handle.
Dave Rogenmoser – JoinTheAlliance.co
Dave started his digital marketing consultancy in 2014 and went from zero to $6,326/mo in recurring business in 57 days. He enjoys the freedoms of being a newly minted entrepreneur and when not at his computer growing his business he spends his time teaching others.
If you are starting out and have low funds, I recommend using LinkedIn to generate leads. Change your profile to act like a sales page, rather than a resume, and go through and message your perfect business owner.
Secondly, something that works very well is finding someone who can use your services, reaching out and offer to do an initial copywriting test for free. I recently had someone reach out to me and offer to write a 5 email sequence for free and test how it converted for me.
I took him up on the offer and after seeing the results of his 5 emails, I hired him on and paid him $15,000 for a project. Don’t be afraid to work for free if you think your skills are good.
Konrad Sanders – The Creative-Copywriter.net
Konrad is the CEO and Content Strategist at The Creative Copywriter, and has a pretty darn creative noggin on his shoulders. His gang of word-slingin’ cowboys know how to compel, convince and convert customers through the power of content. Follow him on Twitter, and read his delicious blog here.
#1 Brand Your Business
Sure, you’re a savvy wordsmith. A handy scribe. A marketing whiz. But so are the 2359 copywriters in the Professional Copywriters Network. And the 79,383 copywriters in the Advertising Copywriting Linkedin Group.
So what differentiates you/your brand from them/theirs? What makes you special? Better suited to your ideal prospect? More hirable? More trustworthy?
Are you the top copywriter in a particular niche industry? Do you specialise in any particular area of copywriting; e.g. eBooks or direct response sales pages? Are you so high-end that only Fortune 500 companies can afford you? Or do you focus on helping start-ups grow? Is your turnaround time ridiculously fast? Do you smile more than your competitors!? Are you just cooler or more creative than everyone else in the biz (apart from us)?
Differentiate yourself. Work out your USPs and unique brand values. Make sure these align with what your target buyers are looking for. Then splash them across your website and other marketing collateral. And don’t just tell them to your prospects with words. Tell them with design. Tell them with tone of voice. Tell them with carefully chosen brand-assets. Tell them with sensory experiences. And tell them consistently across all touchpoints, at all times (social media, emails, face-to-face meetings, phone calls, direct mail etc).
As a copywriter you’ll constantly need to brand your client’s copy. Brand your own business first.
#2 Partner with Agencies
The great thing about digital/design/advertising/inbound marketing agencies is: they often have big clients and big marketing budgets. This means that if you can get into their good books; they’ll do your lead generation for you.
Reach out to as many agencies as possible. Wow them with a cleverly-crafted email, then follow up with a phone call. Lots of agencies need lots of extra help lots of the time. It might take a while to find a good partner, but just one agency could end up sending you bucketloads of ongoing work. Especially if you’re good.
And make sure you tell them why you’re special and how you can add unique value – plus point them towards your uniquely-branded site, remember?
#3 Harness the Power of Influencer Marketing
If you want to build online authority and gain organic traffic to your site – then it’s time to start building relationships with influencers in your field. Other top marketers and content strategists who have a shedload of followers and authority can help build your influence, if you collaborate with them. Much like Paul’s done with this post.
This is a long-term game. If you’re after quick wins, and have the budget, then PPC might be a better bet. But influencer marketing – if done properly – will propel you into a place of power and authority, where prospects will come searching for you.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to influencer marketing; full of actionable wisdom by yours truly.
Howard Smith – NoSloppyCopy.co.uk
Expert copywriter Howard has been crafting world-class copy from his base in Surrey, England for print, online, advertising, PR and speeches for more than 16 years.
My top three tips are:
1 Research the businesses / organisations / agencies you want to work with. Look at their work, see what other people say about them and get a named contact.
2 Send them a personalised email. Make it brief, punchy and relevant and use their tone of voice. Add a link to, or sample of, your work (but don’t send reams of stuff).
3 Don’t just be a great copywriter – be a great person to work with, too.
Joan Stewart – ThePublicityHound.com
Publicity expert Joan works with small business owners, nonprofits and organisations that need to use free publicity in traditional and social media to establish their credibility, enhance their reputation, position themselves as experts, sell more products and services, and promote a favourite cause or issue—even without a publicist.
1. Write a killer profile that emphasizes your value to clients.
One of the best is direct response copywriter Bob Bly’s LinkedIn profile summary:
“Copywriting for me is thrilling…and the thrill comes from writing a promotion that generates more leads, orders, and sales than any other promotion that’s been tried for the product.” He then goes on to list a half dozen specialty areas that scream VALUE. By the time I’m done reading, I want to hire him. (And I have!)
2. The money is in the email list. Offer content-rich, fun email tips that teach people how to write. Many won’t bother and they’ll hire you. I love Ann Wylie’s Rev Up Readership newsletter devoted to business writing.
3. Get onto the speaking circuit. Create an entertaining program on sales copy writing, or storytelling, or any other form of writing that matches the needs of your audience. Those audiences are full of potential clients.
Darren Thackeray – DarrenPaulThackeray.com
Darren has a strong background in journalism which lends itself perfectly to advertising and marketing. He has worked alongside countless ambitious marketing agencies and design studios over the years and helped dozens of small businesses.
Tip 1 – Be real
Don’t set up a load of automated systems and expect dazzling results. An auto DM on Twitter is fine to open up a dialogue, but keep it down to earth and don’t expect new followers to blindly follow links because you tell them to. Get to know them first.
Ask about their business and take a keen interest. If you can, relate what they say to work you’ve done for similar clients in the past.
Tip 2 – Blog like you mean it
A lot of freelancers I know don’t have to blog, but its importance can’t be underestimated. Even if you site doesn’t get a load of traffic, think of a good blog as a kind of ‘social proof’.
If you manage to catch someone’s attention online or apply for a new freelance role or contract, the first thing your prospective employer will do is look you up online. Make sure everything (including all social media channels) points toward your website/blog and fill it with good, expressive content.
Don’t regurgitate – if you have a controversial opinion about your industry, share it. You’ll be respected for it.
Tip 3 – Start local
Some of my most valued clients ended up being hidden in offices on the high street where I live. I found them by locally filtering searches on the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter and following all kinds of businesses.
Upon following me back (which most of them did when they saw I was local), they’d receive a very welcoming, non pushy, automated message saying hello and thanking them for connecting. My response rate from local businesses was impressively high, and I’ve been working with many of them for months.
Bonus Tip – Approach Agencies
Agencies already have a huge client base ready to go, and every marketing agency worth its salt needs good copy.
Try connecting with local agencies any way you can, and offer them a really good introductory rate.
Just a few months working as a freelancer with an agency can massively broaden your portfolio and make you stronger on your own.
Kate Toon – KateToonCopywriter.com.au
Kate is an experienced SEO copywriter and SEO consultant based in Sydney, Australia. She helps small businesses, advertising agencies, and corporates (in Australia and across the globe) to produce great content. She also offers training courses and runs workshops.
Tip 1: Build a website
The most important step is to invest in a quality website – as it acts as an information resource proof point for prospective clients. Include contact details, testimonials, samples, a photo of yourself and start writing blog posts to build your content profile and showcase your writing skills.
Tip 2: Get involved
It’s important to let the world know you’re a copywriter and you’re available for business.
Get involved in networking meetings, local business events and in online business groups. It can feel like an uphill struggle at first, but slowly you’ll build your network.
Tip 3: Track your contacts
You don’t have to invest in any fancy CRM software, a simple spread sheet will suffice, but it’s vital to track names, phone numbers, calls, and connections.
That brief email exchange that never went anywhere could turn into a big fat project when you follow up six months later.
But my main tip is to be confident, if you’re not confident that you can win the job, you’ll never convince the client.
Sarah Turner – TurnerInk.co.uk
Sarah’s a freelance copywriter based in London, England offering a range of services to clients throughout the world. “I take my inspiration from Jimmy Carr, the well known philosopher/comedian who aims to say something funny in as few words as possible: ‘Venison’s dear, isn’t it?’ Genius.”
Certainly in the first few years I did a lot of networking. I didn’t meet many clients that way but I did meet a lot of marketing agencies, graphic designers, SEO guys, web designers etc. who recommended me to their clients.
During that time I also wrote a lot of blog posts, sent out an enewsletter and worked on my website. I also started using Twitter a lot.
For the last five years it’s all been word of mouth, repeat business and leads through my site and social.
So, in a nutshell, you have to put yourself out there for the first five years until you’re established. I’d suggest networking, social and getting a great looking site as my top three tips.
Dean Turney – LondonCopywriter.co.uk
Dean is an award-winning London-based copywriter with over 25 years’ experience. He’s held positions as head of copy at Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore and rapier London.
Do what Laurence Blume recommends – I like all his points.
And follow Tom Albrighton‘s advice too, particularly his second point about dividing up your specialisations.
If a client or agency is looking for a creative consultant/copywriter with experience in a particular field, then present yourself as a specialist in that area. Don’t waste their time showing them work in an unrelated market.
Gain a reputation as someone who does good, effective work and is easy to get on with. Then people will recommend you.
I know good freelance creatives who are also known to be difficult; they’re often short of work.
Keep in touch with old contacts. Not just via email and phone. Try to meet them.
Be helpful, for example by recommending a good designer or UX person, or by giving old clients a bit of news that could help their business. Then they’ll be more likely to recommend you.
Anne Wayman – AboutFreelanceWriting.com
Anne has been freelance writing for over thirty years. Her writing income “increases nicely each year”, and “I’m getting residual income in place as well”.
1. Set up a system to ask for referrals from past clients, friends and family, people in general. Get in the habit of asking often.
2. Make sure your website collects name, email, phone number at a minimum for any give-away or item you sell there.
3. Quarterly newsletter to past clients with some valuable info and ask for referrals in it.
Wendy Weiss – ColdCallingResults.com
Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™, is recognised as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling and new business development. She is the author of Cold Calling for Women and the Sales Winner’s Handbook. She has been featured in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur Magazine, Selling Power, Inc Magazine, Forbes, Sales & Marketing Management and various other business and sales publications.
Figure out what makes a qualified lead for you – and then spend your time pursuing only those leads.
If you get information later that tells you a contact is not really a good fit for you stop reaching out. There are only so many hours in the day.
2. Use the phone.
(I know you’re a writer and don’t like to talk… But you will convert more leads this way.)
Call. Leave a voicemail if you must. If you do not hear back call again. It can take 8 – 12 touches to get a lead to respond.
3. Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. (See #2 above).
Jay White – Email Copy Guru.com
In 2006, Jay launched his own freelance copywriting company specialising in autoresponder emails for the internet marketing niche. His unique writing style and talent for building a “bridge of trust” with prospects quickly established him as one of the most in-demand speciality copywriters in the business.
3 Tips on Getting Copywriting Clients Fast
#1) Forget “Niching” Yourself When Starting Out:
Most beginner copywriters are taught to specialize in a certain writing niche (B2B, emails, etc).
But clients don’t want to deal with 5 different writers who do 5 different things for them. They want ONE person they can hand everything to and forget about it.
So be that person.
Think of your skills as a tool belt, and you have a different loop for every different thing you can write. Whatever they need, reach for that tool. Very simple!
#2) Grab the Low Hanging Fruit:
Many copywriters that I coach want to go into certain markets (health and wellness, financial, etc).
And that’s all well and good. But to get clients quickly, leverage what you already have extensive knowledge in, extensive experience doing, or a passion for and approach those types of businesses first.
Do you love woodworking? Knitted all your life? Fished since you were a tot? Worked in an industry that you know inside and out? Have in-depth knowledge of a particular hobby?
These are the possible clients to target first, because regardless of your writing experience, you come in with a significant “bonus” over anybody else–you know their business, their market, their products, their services, etc inside and out.
And that’s HUGE–they don’t have to train you in anything. They just hand you a project and say “Who do I make the check out to?”
#3) Have a System:
Devote at least an hour a day to marketing yourself. Check the online job listings. Reach out to those who are a great fit based on what I talked about above.
Be both REactive and PROactive in your marketing, and make a goal to do it every single day for an hour. The jobs are out there, literally THOUSANDS of them.
All you have to do is find them and get in touch.
Want more free marketing training? Check out www.GetCopywritingClients.com right now…
Troy White – SmallBusinessCopywriter.com
Troy has been involved in sales and marketing for over 25 years and has helped, in the past decade, hundreds of small business owners generate more leads and improve their sales conversions with the ability to “Turn Your Words Into Wealth”. Troy’s writing has been mentioned on Forbes.com, featured in major publications and his online articles are read by thousands of people every week. Troy loves using a good story in marketing, and specialises in helping business owners find their ultimate story sequence to sell their products and services. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll love Troy’s techniques on his blog
1) Share your story and stop hiding! Everyone loves a great story, and you have one you need to tell.
It could be the story behind your business beginnings. Maybe it’s the toughest thing you ever faced in life. Often times it’s the story behind your driving force – or your “why”.
Share a good story and people will quickly learn to love you – and those people become great clients. PLUS: No better way to find ideal customers than to let them read your best work!
2) Interview an expert or write an article about people, celebrities, or movies that inspired you. Find people in your industry that have done good things – and ask them if you can interview them.
Read a great book? Tell others about the top 5 things you learned in it. Admire a successful entrepreneur or celebrity?
Then tell others what inspired you about the star and make it an action plan for others to follow. PLUS: No better way to find ideal customers than to let them read your best work!
3) Pick a niche and go after it. If you love to do martial arts as a hobby – then you should be writing martial arts related articles, blog posts and social media updates.
It’s a great way to capture the interest of your ideal buyers (in this example – owners and trainers of Dojos). PLUS: No better way to find ideal customers than to let them read your best work!
Joanna Wiebe – Copyhackers.com
Joanna is a co-creator of Copy Hackers, which helps startup founders, micropreneurs, marketers and copywriters boost conversions using words.
Everything starts with identifying your ideal client – who they are, what they’re struggling with, what’s failed them, how they measure success, what value they’re seeking, what price they put on that value.
From there, I’d recommend these three tactics:
1) make a short list of topics they search for and content they share with their team,
2) regularly guest post on those topics on niche-like sites they read, and
3) work your can off to get published on the bigger publications they read, whether that’s HBR or Inc.
Marcia Yudkin – Yudkin.com
“There are few genuine thought leaders in copywriting. Marcia Yudkin is one of them. She is also refreshingly unpretentious.” – Steve Slaunwhite, Author, Start & Run a Copywriting Business, Co-Author, The Wealthy Freelancer
Over the years, my best copywriting clients have found me:
1)Through my books or audiobooks.
2)Through in-person presentations I have given at conferences or adult-education classes.
3)Through teleseminar or telesummit appearances.
What all these lead-generation methods have in common is they give potential clients exposure to me as a person as well as a business expert.
These methods accordingly bring me clients who appreciate my distinctive qualities and who I enjoy working with. My worst client experiences tend to come about from someone just looking for “a copywriter.”
WOW. HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed to this post.
Please share this post if you think it was useful.
So, are you a freelance copywriter or marketer? What are your top 3 tips that others can use to generate leads? Leave a comment below.
Paul is an author, Olympic News Service sub-editor and copy-editor, copywriter, blogger and ghostwriter. He lives just outside London, England.