Today’s Mailbox Monday question is all about getting back on track when your current path isn’t getting you the results you want…
To have YOUR question answered in an upcoming Mailbox Monday issue, shoot it to me at [email protected].
Pretty much any topic is fair game — especially marketing, copywriting, selling, and business-building.
Now on to today’s question…
You said to ask anything so . . . here goes.
I’m struggling with focus. How do I know when to let something die and when it’s about to take off? When it’s right for me and when it’s just keeping me from what I’m supposed to be doing?
I’ve focused on writing email autoresponders since May (thanks for recommending Jay White’s program btw), and got two clients in August.
I thought I finally had my breakthrough. But since then, crickets. Nothing has changed in my approach, is that the problem? I’ve emailed over 150 different sites in a niche, should I go in a different direction? Should I work on marketing myself in a different way?
My plan is to make a living with copywriting until I get my fiction going. Is the silence because my heart isn’t in the copywriting? It is, just not as much as in my books.
I’m sure your article, Why Did You Choose Your Path?, is what I should read half a dozen times to find my answer. But if you have anything to say, that would be amazing.
The fact that you’re doing SOMETHING is great… The fact that it’s getting you nowhere is a problem…
Here’s something that may or may not come as a shocker: Most people don’t take action.
Folks in government, whose jobs are to make sure EVERYONE is served, really hate this. They hate that given an opportunity, most people won’t act on it. So you end up with regulations like the one where testimonials are supposed to represent the average user experience, which sucks for marketers because the average user doesn’t do jack squat.
Talk to someone with extensive experience in publishing and selling information though, and you’ll get a different picture. 80% of people, given exact instructions on how to maximize an opportunity, will do nothing with them. Only 20% will do anything, which means that by doing ANYTHING you’re automatically in a superior group! And if you do a pretty good job, you’re probably in the 20% of the 20% (4% of the total) who will start to see good results…
So the fact that you’re dedicated to taking action is GREAT — and the fact that you’re considering adjusting course to get better results is EVEN BETTER!
Copywriting — including autoresponder copywriting — is a very real and potentially lucrative opportunity, if and when you figure out how to make it work for you. (I’ll address the whole fiction dilemma below.)
So let’s talk about the information you’ve given, and how best to course-correct to get you better results…
It’s critical to break down this problem, and figure out where the lack of response is coming from!
I’m thinking of this like a sales or marketing funnel, which is exactly what it is.
And if I’m looking at a marketing funnel, I’m not just looking at what’s going in and what’s coming out and deciding YES or NO based exclusively on that.
What you know right now is:
— You started out with 2 successful projects…
— You’ve sent 150 emails to “sites in a niche…”
— And you’ve gotten zero results from those 150 emails…
Breaking it down, we know you’re at least a good enough copywriter to have those two successful projects under your belt. That’s great.
But there’s some missing link that’s leading to the end result of you not getting response on the emails you’ve sent since.
Here are some questions raised, and my reaction…
— What are the “sites in a niche” and how did you find them?
There are a lot of ways to define a market. I don’t know what “sites in a niche” represents. Are these 150 sites you found on Google? How did you pick them?
When it comes to finding gigs as a copywriter, it helps to find someone who is already paying for copywriting, or at least recognizes the value in doing so. While in some niches you can assume that most companies hire copywriters, there are a lot of niches where it’s less common practice.
Also, in a lot of niches, there are a lot of sites where the person behind them has many motives to make them look bigger and more successful than they actually are. If you’re seeing this polished public face and that’s all you see, you may actually be reaching out to someone who doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to hire you at any rate that would actually make sense for you.
You may need to approach this from another angle, and try to identify companies that are already successful who would have the ability to retain you.
Also, there’s the whole “autoresponder” thing. Are they already using autoresponders? Would it require them to change the way they market to take advantage of your skills? (This can be a losing battle — big time!)
Big picture: you want to find prospects who know they need what you offer, and who are ready, willing, and able to hire someone to help them get it!
— Did your email offer them exactly what they wanted?
If you’re in one of the big direct response niches, like finance, health, or business opportunity, you will be able to find a ton of potential clients who know they need a copywriter.
In the vast majority of businesses though, the folks in charge are often clueless about the difference between a “copywriter” and a “copyrighter.”
That is, they don’t know they need copy. And so it’s a losing battle to go in there offering to write copy, or trying to sell yourself as a copywriter. You’re not speaking to the conversation already going on in their heads. You’re using language that’s relevant to insiders in your industry, but that’s completely irrelevant to your potential client.
What do they know they need?
If they have a website, they want more sales from the website. They want more of the people who visit the website to buy from them. If they’re already getting people signing up for their emails, they want more of those people to become customers.
Maybe if you already see them using autoresponders, you can talk to them about how to improve performance. But unless it’s clear that’s what they’re doing, you probably shouldn’t even say the word “autoresponder” in your first message.
Rather, maybe your intro is something like this?
“I see you are collecting email addresses on your website. Do you feel like a lot of the people who sign up should be interested in your products, but for whatever puzzling reason never convert into customers? I have a few ideas that could help you convert more of those email prospects or leads into paying customers, if you have 10 minutes to chat on the phone…”
Which brings me to…
— Are you making an offer that’s easy to say “yes” to?
Actually, the message above MIGHT BE too direct. I usually succeed with direct messages selling my services (or at least I did when I did a lot more of that).
But if you listen to Dean Jackson’s More Cheese, Less Whiskers podcast, you’ll realize that sometimes even what I wrote above reveals your hand a little much.
The principle is the same though. You want to make it as easy as possible for YOUR prospect to respond in the way you want them to.
I like offering a very short introductory phone call. I recommend using a service like Calendly or TimeTrade that makes it easy to just click through, select a time for the phone call to take place, and have it entered into your calendar in just a few clicks.
So you can basically say, “I want to give you my ideas for converting more website visitors into paying customers. It’ll take less than 15 minutes. Click here to block off 15 minutes in my calendar for a quick call: [[ LINK ]].”
This is low-pressure, doesn’t require them to say “yes” to hiring you, and is a great way to get the conversation started. Once you’re talking to them about what they want, then you can bridge the divide to let them know that the way they get what they want is with autoresponder copy that you will write for them.
Going back to the big picture, you want to get Dan Kennedy’s 3Ms right. Message, market, medium.
— Is your message right? Are you speaking in their language, about what they care about? Is it making an offer that’s easy for them to say “yes” to?
— Are you speaking to the right market? Is it buyers of your services? People who have the need? And the financial ability to hire you?
— Finally: are you using the right medium? This wasn’t addressed above, but is the email getting through to the decision maker? Do you need to reach out in some way that’s not email to get noticed? (It’s harder, but that’s why it often works better.)
Break down ALL the steps of the process, and try to isolate the point of failure, using my questions above.
Finally, the “heart” question…
You mention that your heart is in fiction — is there a way to simultaneously apply your copywriting in fiction?
I STRONGLY recommend the book Write, Publish, Repeat for anyone serious about writing fiction in a way that will lead to financial success. It’s written by a couple copywriters who quit copywriting to build a successful fiction publishing business around their writing. There’s a lot to learn from there.
If you want to make fiction work for you financially, maybe you can also use it as a “sandbox” for your copywriting skills as well. I had sandbox side projects going from very early in my marketing career, and they taught me a TON — making them worth far more than the revenue they generated.
But, they also generate revenue! So maybe you can see yourself as a copywriting client, and make sure you’re applying your email-writing skills toward your fiction writing as well, to sell more of your books.
I understand the need to pay bills. But I also know that FOCUS can stand for “Follow one course until success.” And the more you split your focus, the further out success remains.
I wouldn’t give up on copywriting yet, especially because it can pay the bills as you develop the fiction thing. But if that’s your long game, also make sure you’re not giving up on it.
Hope this is helpful.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,