It’s Mailbox Monday!
Every week I like to start the week off right to make sure I’m calibrated to your interests, your needs, your challenges, and the solutions YOU are looking for.
That’s why every Monday, I open up the ol’ mailbox and answer one reader’s question, here in my Mailbox Monday edition of the daily Breakthrough Marketing Secrets emails.
To have YOUR question answered — about business-building, marketing, selling, copywriting, life, enlightenment, whatever — you have to send it to me.
Email your question to [email protected], and I’ll add it to the queue.
Now, onto today’s question — about how to make money as a copywriter, fast.
After 17 years as a corporate consultant Tech Writer, my biggest challenge is sustaining a viable income stream (at least 6 or 7k short term) but which can get me to 10k within 6 months.
To this end, I’ve been studying copywriting and belong to several “high-profile” membership groups.
Shall we dive in?
Want to make money fast? Make sure you avoid the WWFF trap…
First and foremost, it sounds like you’ve been a professional (and perhaps even freelance) writer for an extended period of time here. While you may be trying to change focus, you already know how to get paid to write.
That’s good — and, frankly, it means you’re miles ahead of those who discover the field of copywriting from some other angle, who are just getting turned on to the idea that you can get paid to sit at home in your underwear, banging on your keyboard, and somehow have that translate to big fat checks showing up in the mail.
As I’ve said before, the whole idea of “get paid to write” is also a big TRAP.
It’s not a scam. It’s real. I just got another email from a client I haven’t done any real work for in 6 months, telling me that a check for thousands of dollars is on its way.
But here’s the thing.
There ain’t a client on the planet who’s waking up in a cold sweat, sitting bolt upright, in a panic, thinking, “I NEED SOMEONE TO PUT WORDS INTO A COMPUTER FOR ME!”
Sorry if I burst the bubble of your writer’s fantasy here.
‘Tis no business-builder who really cares about the words themselves. And if you’re a writer who wants to make good money from putting words in the computer, you can’t delude yourself into thinking it’s the words that are important.
It’s what the words can DO that makes all the difference.
It’s the RESULTS.
But novice and wannabe writers often don’t know this. Often, they believe the shorthand language used by many teachers of copywriting. That a business needs copyWRITERS.
And so they show up at a potential client’s metaphorical front door, holding a sign that says, “Will write for food.”
I call that WWFF — and it’s absolutely the worst offer you can make to a client.
Now I’ll note. In the high-level direct response world, the word “copywriter” is inside baseball language that says, “I write messages that sell.”
But outside of that? Saying you’re a copywriter is like saying you do gig work on Fiverr. It’s not really respected or valued at anywhere near the level that’s going to earn you the income you’re looking for.
When you promise WWFF, you’re leaving it up to the client to decide what they want to have written, what the success criteria of that is, how much it’s worth, that you are their best option to write it, and how they want to move forward.
This leads to piddly little projects that don’t pay the bills, and sad-sack wannabe copywriters who are convinced they were promised a house of cards work-from-home career opportunity.
Good news, there is another way…
Want income? Talk to people…
First and foremost, if you’re one of those writers who is afraid of the phone, get over it.
I don’t answer the phone much these days, unless the call is pre-scheduled and booked on my calendar during a block of time I pre-established for it.
However, I ain’t afraid of that phone, and in fact, I like it.
Because there is so much miscommunication that comes in interacting online. There’s so many missing links that you will never see or even understand that they were missed, if all you do is email or chat back and forth.
Get on the phone, or better, video, or better, in person. (e.g. Go to conferences.)
Meet prospective customers and clients for your services. Try to get to understand them.
If they don’t wake up in the middle of the night desperately in need of words, what do they wake up in the middle of the night desperately in need of?
What challenges are they having in their business right now?
What are their fears, frustrations, and failures — in terms of their business, and especially business communications?
What would their dream business look like? What desires do they have for their business that are currently going unfulfilled? What do they see their business looking like 3 years from now — what is its destiny?
If they could wave a magic wand and fix one thing about their business, what would that be?
What is their focus right now, for their business? What are their beliefs? What opportunities do they see, that they’d like to pursue?
What’s that one thing that they know they should be doing, that would get them great results in their business, that’s still not getting done?
Go deep on this conversation. Do it with 5 or 10 or 20 or even 50 prospective clients. What common narratives do you hear? What similarities are there? What’s different between them? Who sounds like a great client? And who sounds horrible?
On one level, every time you do this, you’re practicing and hard-wiring into your brain what an ideal consultative conversation looks like with prospective clients.
On another level, you’re gathering actionable intelligence that sets up the next step — what you’re actually going to sell that’s going to make you real money, taking advantage of your copywriting skills…
Establish your core value, and build a sustainable offer around it…
If you’ve done all of the above, you’ll have a very solid grasp of what clients in your market, in your industry want. And specifically, in those conversations, you’ll hear problems that can be solved and challenges that can be overcome with specific media-based communications.
If you want to sell copywriting services, the first step is knowing the problems you can help them overcome and challenges you can help them solve with copy. If they’re not waking up in the middle of the night needing words, what are they waking up in the middle of the night wanting, that your words can help them get.
Then, make sure you’re going to like the work. I can’t discount the X-factor that comes from being genuinely stimulated by the work you’re doing. I know when I haven’t been excited about a topic or category, I slog through it and the copy’s not as good. When I’m excited — as is the case with these essays, for example — I’m practically unstoppable and the quality is unparalleled.
Where do your skills and the clients’ challenges and opportunities intersect?
Package that. Turn it into a product (if it’s a service, product-ize it). Get really clear about what you can do to get the client what they want. Make that your thing. Figure out how long it takes to fulfill that service. Determine how many of those projects you can do in a month. Then, price accordingly.
Let’s say you want to make $15,000 a month. You identify something that a subset of your potential clients really need, and would consider to be a good value at $5,000. And it’s something that you could easily complete 3 or 4 projects of that type in a month.
Great! Now it’s your job to go out and find a bunch of clients who are happy to pay $5,000 for that.
Proactively attract them to you by reaching out.
You can reach out in a paid way. Such as through paid advertising. You can reach out investing time instead. Such as by tracking down ideal clients on LinkedIn. Whatever the case, figure out how many people you need to reach out to in order to get those 3 or 4 projects per month.
Frankly, most people over-complicate this. Or wimp out at important junctures, such as being willing to get on the phone with a prospective client, or not reaching out to enough people, or accepting one cheapskate client’s feedback that they can’t pay a high enough fee and lowering the fee instead of going to find a client who’s not a cheapskate.
If I were starting from scratch, wanting to make $10k per month as a copywriter…
First, I’d really hone in on WHO I wanted to work with. What industry. Who they are. How I can serve them.
Then, I’d speak with them to really make sure I was offering what they care about (and usually that’s not COPY).
Then, I’d build an offer around that, that fit what they valued and took advantage of my unique abilities.
Then, I’d go out and find the clients who thought my offer was a great bargain, and I’d focus on getting them the results I offered.
In short, I’d do the above!
I do go into a lot more detail on this, including offer structure, how this applies based on a bunch of different kinds of copy types and why clients buy that kind of copy (e.g. SEO, content, etc.) inside The Copywriter’s Roadmap To Building A Core Offer. While I show in that training how to make a bare minimum $5,000 per month, using the offer structures I lay out, the truth is that same principle can be applied to make $10,000, $20,000, $100,000 or more per month, depending on how you choose to apply it.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,