It's Monday -- that means it's time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

It’s NOT Monday — but I’m going to treat it one — and that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

Are we having fun yet?

I’ve enjoyed knocking out all these questions from my mailbox, making sure I’m getting YOUR biggest questions answered.

Just a reminder.  Normally every Monday I open up my virtual mailbox, looking for your biggest questions on marketing, copywriting, selling, business, life, whatever…  And I answer them in a special Mailbox Monday segment of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.

You can get your question answered by emailing me at

When I get questions, I add them to the queue.  But the queue had grown so long, I’m answering questions all week long.  Send yours in today though, and it will be answered within the next couple weeks!

I’ve also been compiling some incredible ideas for future issues, so keep your eye on your inbox around 4 PM Central every day for my next big gem!

On to today’s question…

Hi Roy,

I enjoyed your recent emails on positioning. They are especially relevant to me right now as I’m trying to get my first paid copywriting gig with zero experience.

You must get asked all the time about how to get started. How do I position myself and sell my potential client on me, and what I can do for them with no experience or evidence to back it up?

Thanks for your time and the wonderful emails.



Why is this question so common?

I mean, I was there once.  So I guess I should understand.

I discovered copywriting in very early 2005.  And my way to go from zero to some experience in marketing was to start applying for marketing jobs.  I used a really good cover letter — because my resume was irrelevant — to get in the door at a multi-million dollar IT training publisher.

But even with that gig, I was scared for a long while about getting my first freelancing gig.  I spent a long time dreaming, wondering how the heck I’d get that first client.

And yet…

I write all the time about how you need to “Just Do It.”

Go out there, and make it happen.  Ask 100 potential clients, if that’s what it takes.  Get your first experience under your belt.  Learn from both the failure and the success.  Then, get another.  And another.

When you actually take action, you can stop asking about how to get going.

And when you’re taking action, that’s when the REALLY VALUABLE questions start coming through.

That said, I still want to answer the question, because that’s what I do!

Here’s the #1 positioning secret for selling yourself with zero experience…

Remove the risk.

That’s it.  You’re a beginner, and you shouldn’t lie about it.  You don’t have to broadcast it to the world, either.  But you shouldn’t lie about it.  You certainly shouldn’t make yourself out to be someone you’re not.

Now, I’d argue that you probably DO have relevant experience.  It’s just not the traditional experience you get with a ton of time in the field.

— What work experience have you had that you can MAKE relevant, even if it’s not the same as what you’re offering?

— What life experience can be made relevant?

— What examples do you have of where you used the same skills in your personal life?

These are only slightly relevant to potential clients, and shouldn’t be the main thrust of your selling argument, but they can be supporting arguments.

That said, let’s go back to that whole “risk removal” thing.

(And this is what I teach in The Copywriter’s Guide To Getting Paid, in the chapter on how I got my first client.)

Here’s how you remove the risk of a client’s first transaction with you…

In short, ask them to pay you only AFTER they’re satisfied, AFTER you’ve delivered the value that you said you’d deliver.

First, you want to know what that value is.  I tend to work and think in the context of ROI-oriented services.  It’s what I do.  It’s what a lot of my readers do.  It’s the area where there’s the most money in copywriting.

So what I’m talking about is things like sales copy, lead generation, and so on.  Items where there’s a measurable result, that leads to money in the bank.

The nice thing about this is that you know what value it can deliver.  More customers.  More sales.

You either succeed at delivering that value, or you fail.  But it’s a clear picture, once the dust settles.

So, let’s say you’re doing direct response copywriting.

Let’s say you’re offering to write a new version of someone’s sales letter or VSL script for them, with the goal of generating more sales than what they’re doing now.

Here’s how you offer your service to them in a way that puts the entire risk of the transaction on your shoulders…

— On my time and at my expense, I’m going to put together a new video sales letter script for you.  This will cost you nothing, and you’ll be under no obligation to use it, unless you think it will increase your sales.

— If you like what I put together, I will make any edits for legal or factual reasons in order to finalize the script.  Again, this is at no expense to you.

— Once we’ve created a final draft of the video sales letter script, I will assist with production.  Again, at no  expense to you.

— In order to test the video sales letter, I will write up to three promotional emails, as well as any necessary small ad copy, so that you can test my video sales letter against your current control.  Again, I will charge you nothing for this service.

— Only after you’ve approved my copy, tested it, and it’s beat the control — meaning it’s making you more money than you would have had otherwise — will I ask you to pay me a $#,### advance against a #% royalty on the sales it will generate for you.  (Fill in your numbers.)

— In short, I acknowledge that I’m new.  I know it’s a risk to hire new talent.  However, I believe I’ve got the chops to write you a bigger winner than you’ve got right now.  And in order to prove it, I’m going to take on nearly all the risk of our first project.  You will ONLY pay me when you’re already earning money as a result of us working together.

When you are new and inexperienced, you ARE a risk…

The good news is that today, in the world of online marketing, the financial risk of working with new writers is lower than ever.

In the days of $1+ per piece direct mail, testing a message to the 5,000 to 50,000 needed to get reliable results made hiring new copywriters a very questionable decision.

Today, you can spend $100 on Pay Per Click to sell a $49 product.  And if you didn’t sell any, you can cut your losses there.  If you sold one or two, you see if you can improve.  Three or more and you’re off to the races.  The media cost to test new copy is dirt cheap.

But if you want them to pay you $5,000 or more with zero experience or track record, you’re going to have a lot of trouble.

You have to do something BIG to get over that hurdle.

The good news is, this is only a problem once…

When you have zero experience or track record, it only takes ONE success to have something to point at.

This makes the second selling job easier.

Then, you keep moving forward.

You add success on top of success, then you forget what it was like and start to wonder why people ever had any trouble getting started in the first place, because it’s now so far in the rear view mirror you can barely remember.

So, bite the bullet.

Find out a way to take on all the risk of the first transaction, until you’ve proven to the client that you can deliver.

Then, just do it.  And build from there.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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