Why is it that one copywriter gets paid $20,000… $50,000… Even $100,000 to complete a client project… While scores of others do almost the same work for $500 or $1,000?
Now, before you say that the answer is “results,” I’ll stop you…
Because those clients are cutting those checks BEFORE they get the results. Assuming we’re talking about project fees.
You might then say that it’s about their track record, or the reasonable assumption that they’ll get results.
That’s a little closer to the answer.
But still not quite there.
There’s an underlying force. And it’s more powerful than even a logical assumption of results.
The secret is in your REPUTATION…
And this makes all the difference. Between being a commoditized provider of a me-too service, and being THE ONE the client wants to hire, no matter what.
We’re going to start at the bottom of the ladder and work our way up, as we go down in this article.
What you need to do — as you read this article — is try to honestly assess where you’re at. And from there, look at what it will take to move up from your level to the next (and then the next, and then the next).
Hint: you should still get better at providing whatever result you offer through your products and services. But that’s not the key.
The lowest paid person in any profession has the reputation of SERVICE PROVIDER…
When a marketer goes on Upwork and they search for “copywriter,” they’re looking for a service provider. This is someone who will put words on a page, and hopefully they won’t be terrible.
It’s also pretty much the same for job fairs. Or anywhere else you’ve got a bunch of service providers in a defined space, competing for a smaller number of clients and projects.
When you’re a service provider, you have no reputation. You’re not valued for who you are. You’re valued for what you do. And what you do will never be as valuable as the same work done by someone who is valued for who they are.
Read that about 10X and let it soak in.
This (entire article) is probably more responsible for more of my success than almost anything else, including the copy I write.
The truth is we are all interchangeable. Every one of us. But the more that it’s believed you are unique and special and one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable and there’s nobody like you, the more a client will be willing to pay. If you’re a service provider, you’re on the wrong end of that spectrum.
The next step up is the SPECIALIST…
A service provider is often a generalist. They’re willing to take on pretty much any work that falls under the broad category of their service. This is the “will write for food” fallacy I talk about in my freelance copywriter career training.
A specialist gets clear about their core offer (again, see this training). They narrow down who they want to work with, and clearly define how they’re able to provide desired results, in a repeatable way.
In short, they develop a specialty.
They get better at fewer things. They establish their specialty and focus on getting clients results within that context.
The more they do it, the more likely it is they will become known for this. And suddenly they stand out in a crowd of generalist service providers. Because they do something that maybe one in a dozen (or fewer!) is able to do.
Plus, the more they develop that specialty, the better they get, through simple repetition and experience.
The next level is to become a CREDIBLE EXPERT…
Here we start to shift. From skills development, to PR — for lack of a better description.
It’s one thing to be able to do something.
It’s another thing entirely to be known for it.
What do you want to be known for? What do you want to have credible expertise at?
This tends to be an extension of your specialty. But the difference between having a specialty and being the credible expert at that skill is who is making the claim.
If you’ve got chops as a — let’s say — launch copywriter, and you tell me that, you’re a specialist.
If you’ve got those same chops but your past clients tell me that as they recommend you, you’re a credible expert.
It doesn’t just have to be clients, although a good referral strategy or case study is powerful in establishing you as a credible expert.
The more recognition you can get from outside sources, the more you’ll become known as a credible expert. And the higher and higher fees you’ll be able to justify.
You can take it to the next level by becoming a RECOGNIZED EXPERT…
Now this distinction, as compared to the last, is admittedly more subtle. And while I’m presenting this in steps, it is actually more of a big spectrum.
But the main difference between a credible expert and a recognized expert is in media.
If you’re starting to get media appearances in whatever the most relevant media is for your audience or market, you will move from credible to recognized. While both involve some level of outside endorsement or support for your expertise, credible tends to happen on a much smaller scale whereas recognized is about being the places that will get you recognized by your market (duh!).
And of course, here media can be a broad category.
Are you on podcasts? That’s media. Print? Media. On major niche websites? Media. On stage at industry events? Media.
The peak of the income pyramid is about becoming a CELEBRITY EXPERT…
This goes beyond just being in the media. At the last level, the media followed you for your expertise. At this level, they follow you because you’re you.
This is the epitome of reputation.
It’s also why the biggest celebrities in any niche tend to end up on top of the income pyramid. Even when they’re not necessarily the best at what they do.
Sure, they may have enough expertise to pull off whatever their product or service is.
But they’re probably, on average, not that much better than the average specialist or credible expert. And in some cases, you’ll find situations where a service provider can deliver more value than the celebrity expert. But that won’t invert the equation.
Here’s the fastest way to make more money for everything you do — with one warning…
If you want to increase your income, fast, you can’t just focus on getting better at your skill. You have to become better-known.
You have to focus on your reputation — and then your celebrity — in your target market.
But this comes with a warning.
If you are a fraud or incompetent at your skill, this will only get you revealed faster.
So this is not a license to skip skill-development. This is not a license to sell yourself as more than you really are. This is not a licenses to ignore the fact that you still must deliver value.
Rather, when you are truly providing value, this will simply get you to the top faster.
That’s the breakthrough.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,