I’ve gotten a whole bunch of questions recently about how to get started, get your first few clients, and make that leap straight to the six-figure freelance copywriter lifestyle.
Funny thing is, these questions always look so much different than all the others I get.
What do I mean?
Well, when most of my readers ask questions, they put some time and energy into the question itself. They have a salutation to the email. They make a friendly comment or two. They give context for their question. They ask it. And they sign off.
You know, like a real human communication.
Whereas the emails that specifically ask about getting clients look at little something like this:
Getting clients, and earning 6-figures
Yeah, that’s the whole email.
To find my first few clients
Again, that’s the entire email.
No intro. No signature. No nothing.
Now, maybe I’m getting emails that look a little bit different than the folks they’re approaching, trying to get as clients.
But I also think there’s a small chance [note the dripping sarcasm] that they’re putting about as much thought and effort into promoting themselves as copywriters.
WARNING: If you’re lazy in your communications, you will not get hired as a copywriter!
You don’t have to make every email sing. You don’t have to write incredible prose in every communication.
But you have to show you put some thought into it!
If not — clients won’t believe you’ll put any thought into your communications with them.
Oh wait — it’s Monday!
Okay, I already knew that. But this introduction is getting a little long in the tooth, and I needed a nice transition.
As a reminder — or a revelation, for those of you who are new since last week…
Every Monday here at Breakthrough Marketing Secrets is Mailbox Monday.
Where I answer YOUR questions.
And since I’ve gotten a handful of the “get started, earn six figures” questions from copywriters recently…
I figured I’d go back to my most popular post on the topic — which also happens to be only the fourth Breakthrough Marketing Secrets post EVER written!
This was part of what led me to write The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid.
It’s part of what led to the copywriter career training in BTMSinsiders.
Heck, I’ve heard countless stories of copywriters whose lives were transformed by the new attitude they got from reading this one post.
So without further ado…
My response to a copywriter looking for career advice…
From time to time I get copywriters approaching me for career advice.
I recently, for example, set up a coaching/copy chief arrangement with a copywriter, and helped her score a big opportunity with one of the major financial publishers. (She had the right attitude: she paid first, asked for advice after.)
And then there’s a guy who has emailed me a few times over the last few years asking for advice. And I’ve been a sucker and spent a little bit of time emailing back and forth each time. (I’m becoming more of a curmudgeon about this — don’t think about it unless you’re willing to pay my hourly consulting fees.)
So he comes around again in the last few weeks, asking for more advice.
Turns out he hasn’t done much of anything I recommended before, but it still bugs him that he’s not yet living “The Writer’s Life” and earning six-figures as a copywriter.
And now he’s questioning whether or not it’s worth spending an hour on the phone with me to get his questions answered.
Without saying it directly, he’s asking me if spending an hour on the phone with me will give him 1.) guaranteed entry into the high-paying direct response copywriting world, and 2.) guaranteed six-figure income… Which he broke down to $8,500 per month.
Listen, I get that you want it.
I get that it’s what you’ve been promised.
And I know for a fact it’s friggin’ real.
Those of us in the hallowed halls of direct response copywriting are NOT making it up.
However, you’re NOT going to get it just by buying an hour of my time, or buying a copywriting course (even the good ones that I own), or anything other than dogged determination and hard work.
Okay, here’s the email…
And he was nervous about “airing his laundry in public” so I have made sure that NOTHING in here is personally identifiable…
My response to your email will not be what you want. But it will be what you need.
What you’re asking me for is a magic pill or magic button that will get you instant copywriting success. You’re not going to get that by changing industries. You’re not going to get that in an hour on the phone with me. You’re not going to get that in this email, either.
And as long as you’re focused on the money you get instead of the value you create and provide, you’re never going to get it.
I read this on the first of every month: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/?page=full You would be well-served by reading it frequently and internalizing its “harsh truths.”
Eminem’s recent song Rap God has a line I have pasted on my wall, “Full of myself, but still hungry, I bully myself ’cause I make me do what I put my mind to, and I’m a million leagues above you.”
Without fail, the most successful people I know bully themselves. They don’t talk about it. You won’t find it in a self-help book, because it’s not an idea that the magic pill buyers want to buy. But from time to time they’ll let a line slip that talks about how hard they are on themselves.
You need to make yourself do the work.
Study the masters. Old and new. Learn the industry yourself. Nothing I can tell you in an email or an hour or a year will matter — you have to learn, I can’t teach.
Learn to sell. Get an in-person sales job. I used to sell newspaper subscriptions in grocery stores. I’ve also sold credit cards, appliance repair plans, IT training solutions, nonprofit donations, and more. Apply those principles in writing.
Do your own homework. If you rely on someone to do it for you, you will never earn six figures in this biz.
There are people in all sorts of industries earning six-figures from copywriting. I’m certain there are at least a few copywriters in your niche earning six figures, doing the same kind of work you insist you can’t earn six-figures on. The grass is always greener, my friend. Until you get there. You can either waste your life looking for greener pastures, or you can cultivate the one you’re in. You do that by focusing on providing real value, and not being caught up in “How can I create the six-figure writer’s life dream for myself?” It’ll come if you’re doing the right things. But spending all day obsessing about that is not the right thing.
Folks in the direct response field earn six-figures because of RESULTS generated.
You want to make $8,500 per month? I’ll show you the fastest, easiest way to do it.
First, find a client who will pay you 3% royalties on sales generated. Most beginning copywriters can get that. Then, find a way to make them $283,333 per month in sales. If you can get them to agree to a 5% royalty, simply make them $170,000 per month. They will be ecstatic to pay you $8,500 per month. You want to make twice as much? Make your clients twice as much.
If I want to make $1 million from a single piece of sales copy — which is my next big goal — I know how to do it. If I’m working for a client, I simply have to write a piece of sales copy that generates $20 million in sales at a 5% royalty. Notice, my focus is not on my $1 million. It’s on how I can make my client $20 million. They’ll be happy to write me that check for $1 million after that. And I will have earned it.
It’s not easy. Most direct response copywriters spend their first 5 or so years still really learning their chops and getting experience. They spend their next 5 getting really good. And those who manage to stick that out spend the rest of their careers getting rich. Even the legends — Gary Bencivenga, Gary Halbert, Dan Kennedy, Eugene Schwartz, (and so on, and so on) — went through this same process. Me and all the writers you mentioned are NOT new to this game, either. We’ve all had our learning curves. We all stuck with it. And all of us feel like we’re just getting started…
I’m not going to tell you anything more helpful in an hour on the phone than what I’ve just told you now.
If you take this to heart and use it, and change your mind about this whole thing, this email will be worth that six-figures you’re looking for. If you don’t, well, there’s nothing else I can do for you.
Wishing you the best,
There you have it. The secret to earning six-figures (or even $1 million!) while living the writer’s lifestyle as a freelance copywriter.
Or you can apply the same skills and start your own business. There’s even more opportunity in doing that! And if you want to make a fortune starting your own business, I have a magic easy button to sell you… All you have to do is push it before you go to bed tonight and you’ll wake up rich tomorrow. I swear.
Or you can get real about what it takes to be successful in business and marketing… Stick around.
Okay, Roy from 2017 back. Roy from 2014 had some pretty good advice there. Holds up today. Will hold up well into the future.
In short, what you put out is what you will get back.
And that even goes for those recent emails I’ve received, where my friendly correspondents have wanted the answer to the question of the life, the universe, and everything.
Your first step? Write emails with punctuation, full sentences, and entire thoughts.
Then? “Ask not what the market can do for you — ask what you can do for your market!”
And if you haven’t yet, picking up a copy of The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid would be really smart. When you get it through that link, you also get access to a free 1-hour training video revealing the #1 mistake I’ve seen freelance copywriters make over and over again. As long as you make this mistake, it’s much harder to make a good living at this — but the fix can be quick, easy, and life-changing.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,