“Help, I’m stuck!”
Ever feel that way? No matter how well your copywriting business is going, there’s always something you could be doing better, right?
Over the past year I’ve had hundreds of conversations with aspiring copywriting rock stars. I love having these “personal conferences” and helping people get unstuck, whether they’re just starting out or at the six-figure mark and beyond.
(And just for the record, I had an A-level copywriter this week help me get unstuck on something. I think we all need someone to check in with on a regular basis.)
Anyway, I take notes during every conference, and it hit me this week that almost every “stuck” situation can be traced back to one of 11 clear steps. Do these 11 steps in order when you’re first starting out, and you’ll set yourself up for success. Go back and review them every three months and you’ll continue moving forward. Overlook any of the 11, and you’ll hit a plateau, or worse.
A word of warning: this isn’t a catch-all formula. I’ve probably missed some (and feel free to tell me in the comments below.) And I’m just scratching the surface on explaining each one. I’ll probably develop these 11 into some kind of e-book soon.
For now, take care of these 11 steps and you’ll do quite well. You might even want to print this part off, laminate it, and hang it where you can see it from your desk.
Copywriting success in 11 clear steps
1. Figure out what you’re good at and how you’re going to help clients.
Not just figure it out, but be able to articulate exactly why someone should hire you. For example, “I’m really good at helping businesses uncover their true unique selling proposition and conveying it in a fresh way to help them draw in more customers.”
2. Figure out who your audience is.
Make sure there’s a demand, and if there is, how competitive it is. Better to investigate upfront to find a lesser-known niche with a huge demand than to follow the masses to an over-saturated niche. By the way, you can always change this, you’re not locked into anything.
3. Make your offering clear.
I like the idea of having three simple packages with fees so prospects know exactly what you’re offering.
4. Now get your website situated.
I see a lot of copywriters put the cart before the horse, spending a lot of time on their website before getting the first three items determined precisely.
5. Create your marketing and sales funnels.
Not sure where to start with this? Dan Kennedy and the Glazer Kennedy Insider Circle (GKIC) are the place to go. A simple framework: Offer something of value for free on your website, build your list, engage your audience, continue offering value, and market to them regularly.
6. Be likable.
The real reason one copywriter often gets hired over another? The client likes that copywriter more. Plain and simple. It’s not always who has the better website, stronger reputation, or better offering.
Can you learn how to be more likable? Absolutely. Start by re-reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
7. Communicate effectively on the phone and via email. In other words, learn how to sell.
This is probably the biggest reason copywriters don’t make more money. You can be the best copywriter and marketer, but somewhere along the line you have to communicate one-on-one in order to secure a project.
That requires sales skills, something severely lacking these days. I learned it by giving over 10,000 one-on-one sales presentations by the age of 23. I’ll be coming out with an e-book on selling for copywriters next year, but for now, focus on two skills: listening, and the art of asking questions.
8. Make it easy for clients to work with you.
In most cases, a simple, quick proposal should just be a formality after you’ve made the sale on the phone or by email. Some copywriters hide behind their proposal, spend way too much time on it, and make it way too long.
9. Give them a reasonable price.
I can hear the objections already on this one. “I’m going after high-quality clients who will appreciate my services and be able to pay my high fees.”
You can charge whatever you want, but it can’t be more than what you’re ultimately going to deliver. In other words, if you’re not an A-level copywriter yet, you can’t charge Bob Bly-type fees. It also has to reflect the supply and demand of the marketplace, unless you’re in a total non-competitive situation.
I’ve been talking to a lot of copywriters lately who are missing out on keeping a full pipeline of work. Their fees aren’t justified and they’re spending too much time writing proposals.
10. Give the client something extra.
Write two versions of the email letter so they can test them. Provide 20 headline ideas when they only asked for 10. If you’re just writing a home page, give them some quick copy for the about page, too.
11. Follow up.
Review every project with the client once it’s over. Get feedback, suggest further ideas, ask for a testimonial and referrals, and most important, secure the next project.
Use these 11 steps as a checklist to see where you may need to polish your skills or take a different approach.
I’m curious. Which of these eleven is most challenging for you? Which one do you think you have down? Your comments here will help me in the one-on-one work I do with copywriters, and also in developing this into a larger manual of sorts for helping you build your Personal Brand.