Hey there Rainmaker, it’s Tuesday!
But, I’m going to pretend it’s Monday. Because Mailbox Monday sounds a lot better than Mailbox Tuesday. And I’ve got a nice little queue of folks who’d love to have their questions answered.
(For those of you in the US, I hope you enjoyed a little R&R over the long Labor Day weekend… For those of you NOT in the US, I hope you had a great day and weekend, too!)
Remember, Mailbox Monday needs your help to be awesome! Send your questions on business, marketing, copywriting, selling, life, the works to Roy@RoyFurr.com.
I thank you in advance!
Now, on to today’s question, where we go even deeper on Copywriting Royalties and How To Get Them…
Without further ado…
I’ve been reading all your materials online and your stuff via AWAI – thanks for sharing!
I’m still trying to get a handle on copywriting royalties and how to break into the direct response market where it seems these live.
I’ve been a B2B copywriter for some time and have been quite successful but am ready to shift my change from one-on-one writing projects to ones that might generate ‘residual income’ with royalties. I read both your previous pieces on copywriting royalties here and here and found them great starting places.
My questions are:
— How or where does someone find companies willing to pay royalties (like what kind of companies do pay them or what industries?)
— How do you negotiate royalties if you’ve never done it before, such as what’s the right way to approach the project?
— How does someone start if they don’t have tested materials? I can write and have done well writing but most examples are not direct response pieces.
— What kind of samples or proof points could I use to say ‘I’m your writer” for the projects without the real proof of solid “10% increase of sales,” etc.
— Any other recommendations on how to break into this area?
If there are sources you can recommend for this info or could write an update for newbies, I’d be really grateful!
Veronika, thank you for these specific questions that let me expand on the royalty discussion!
I’m going to go ahead and use that as my structure of today’s piece!
How or where does someone find companies willing to pay royalties (like what kind of companies do pay them or what industries?)
The most common companies who pay copywriters royalties are the direct response publishing industries. This includes financial/investment publishers and health publishers. There are also opportunities in the work at home and business opportunity niche, as well as a handful of other niches.
The industry question is good, but it isn’t the most helpful here, because there are folks within those industries who refuse to pay royalties, and plenty of folks outside of those industries who do.
Here’s an even bigger indicator of whether or not you can earn royalties from any specific company.
— Do they know what a “copywriter” is? Do they value copywriters?
— Do they know what “direct response” or “direct marketing” is? Is it their “religion”?
— Do they recognize the primacy of copy? That is, if their business is driven by advertising results, do they recognize the value of copy in creating those results?
The more avid, adamant of a direct marketer you’re dealing with, the more likely they are to value copywriters at a very high level. The more they value copywriters at a very high level, and recognize that great copy creates great business results, the more likely they are to want to pay royalties.
If they see you as a salesperson who is bringing customers and profits through the door, they will reward you to keep you around.
If you have to tell them what a copywriter is, to convince them to track their advertising results, or twist their arm into believing that copy can actually make sales… They will not pay royalties.
How do you negotiate royalties if you’ve never done it before, such as what’s the right way to approach the project?
If you come in like a lamb, you’ll be led like the lamb to the slaughter. If you come in like a lion, you’ll be respected.
The reality is that you can’t approach a potential client, and tell them it’s your first time asking for royalties. They won’t give them to you.
You should talk to them about their needs, what challenges they’d like to overcome, and how your copy can help.
Establish the need first. Get them wanting to work with you.
This is a consultative selling process.
You’re getting inside their business, identifying “problems” that can be solved with copy, and offering to solve them.
This could be that they have copy that could be better…
It could be that they have a steady stream of new products that always need copy…
It could be a lot of things…
You talk to them, and try to figure out what they most want in terms of marketing and sales results in their business.
And then, you show them how effective copywriting can do the job of a good salesperson. You show them how the right words can do a better job of convincing their prospect.
Most businesses get this. It’s not rocket science.
But you have show them that YOU get it, too.
Then, when the conversation comes around to your services and price, you say, “Well, the way I work is on a fee plus royalty basis. My fee for this project will be $10,000, and my royalty is 5% of gross sales minus refunds.”
Maybe your numbers are different, but you get the point.
At this point, you shouldn’t be trying to convince them of anything. You’ve already convinced them of the value of your service, if you’re getting to the price conversation (at least you should, if you adopt a consultative selling approach).
What you need to do now is lay out the terms of the deal: If you want to work with me, here’s how I work.
Like it or not, it’s all about power. If you take the power in the relationship, you can demand royalties for your participation. If you give the client the power, only a very small portion of businesses will be willing to pay them, and they’ll almost always be the lowest rates.
How does someone start if they don’t have tested materials? I can write and have done well writing but most examples are not direct response pieces.
You can write on spec. You can follow my irresistible offer letter format to create your own similar opportunities.
You can also create a little online side business of your own, to start selling something (anything) online using copy, to help boost your skills.
Mostly, go out there and fail.
You’re going to do it. Even the BEST direct response copywriter in the world, Gary Bencivenga, only won — on average — 7 out of 8. That was after three decades in the biz, rising to the highest heights. And still, 1 in 8 were losers.
Most top copywriters — in head-to-head tests — lose as many as 50% to 60% of their tests.
When your advertising is measured, the market can be quite unforgiving.
But you should actually gain confidence knowing this. That you will fail, and it will be okay, and you’ll get back up and try again.
The biggest thing is, if you want to be a direct response copywriter, that you need to write direct response copy that gets tested in the marketplace.
In the beginning, we all did it for table scraps.
We got paid small fees to write promos that had a long shot at winning, as we gained skills. We worked like dogs to start to establish ourselves.
And then, we found a groove.
That’s when your fees go up, and your royalties, too. That’s when you get the big projects, with the big opportunities.
But it doesn’t come without the hard work, first.
Also, don’t overlook the recommendation to copy winning ads by hand. It will help you develop your skills faster than almost any other method.
What kind of samples or proof points could I use to say ‘I’m your writer” for the projects without the real proof of solid “10% increase of sales,” etc.
See the comment above about irresistible offer letters.
You might also want to read my post that talks about your risk profile that clients consider when deciding whether or not to hire you as a copywriter.
This is the same reason we offer money-back guarantees in direct marketing. It’s the same phenomenon that makes people sit on the fence, rather than buy a product that might be exactly what they want.
Anytime anybody is buying anything, we get nervous. There’s a risk our expectations will be missed. There’s the concern we’ll be made to look like a fool.
More than the financial loss, I think this underlies a lot of client concern about hiring new copywriters.
Will they take a long-shot on a newbie, spend a ton of time working with them (that wouldn’t be required with a pro), and still get zero results?
“You don’t get fired for hiring IBM.” That’s a famous phrase in big business. Even if the tried and true is not the best solution, you seldom get in trouble for going the safe route.
Most clients think the same way when hiring copywriters.
Samples of writing work that are not direct response, that don’t have any performance data tied to them, won’t really help.
The best thing you can do here is acknowledge that you’re a risk (internally, if not to the client, per my comments above), and make as irresistible of an offer as possible.
Also, I find that it’s easier for new copywriters to get their first couple projects with clients who are smaller (under $1MM) than bigger. While this can sometimes conflict with a client’s willingness and ability to pay royalties, it can make a good starting point for getting some ROI-focused marketing under your belt.
Any other recommendations on how to break into this area?
Just do it. Don’t wait to take action. Don’t spend all your time getting ready.
Take massive action. Move forward with reckless abandon.
Go play on the playing field that’s a level up from where you’re at, and leave it all on the field.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets
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