I’m opening up the mailbox and answering YOUR questions!

Most freelancers have absolutely THE WORST attitude on which clients they’ll take…

I guess that’s probably why most freelancers don’t make that much money.


Every salary survey I’ve ever seen for copywriters is pretty dismal.  At least, in comparison to what I know so many expect.

When so many people start freelancing — and especially freelance copywriting — they think, “I can run my own business.  I can get clients who’ll pay me well.  I may even get a scalable income.  This is going to be great!”

And yet, when they run into the brick wall of reality, they aren’t making any more than they were making as an employee.  But now they have all the stress of running a business.  Especially the stress of not knowing what next month’s income is going to look like.

Why?  Because they think they can serve everybody.

That’s not really the topic of today’s Mailbox Monday question — but that’s where I’m headed…

Remember: today is Mailbox Monday.  My weekly article where I answer your questions on marketing, selling, copywriting, business-building, and more.

Sometimes, you’ll get a very direct answer.  Other times, you’ll get the best answer I would hope you’d give me if our roles were reversed — even if most of my answer is a tangent off the main question.

To have your question answered in an upcoming Mailbox Monday, click here.

Here’s today’s question from the mailbox…


I’m still fairly new to freelance copywriting and have been focusing on email only. This is where I want to be and niche down to in terms of skill-set.

My question is, how when searching for cold outreach — in markets such as health, wealth, and relationships — do I find companies who are actually doing email marketing without wasting time in my search?

Is there a way to figure out by specific keywords in finding this out? Or do I just Google search companies within these spaces and randomly open a bunch of sites to find subscriber lists?

Is there an easier or more effective way? Sales emails, autoresponders, and infotainment sequences is my key focus for writing copy.

Thanks! Your blog has been awesome and a go to resource for awhile now.

– M

First things first, the direct answer…

Pretty much every company today uses email to communicate with their customers and prospects.

And if they’re a serious marketer and sell directly to their customers — as evidenced by a cart or ordering mechanism on their website — you know they use email.

Most suck at it.

By far.

But the idea of finding “companies who are actually doing email marketing” is not a very good goal.

Sure, you’ve niched it down by a super-broad set of basically most of the main direct-to-consumer direct response industries: health, wealth, and relationships.

But all that did was probably give you an even higher percentage of companies in those ultra-broad categories that use email marketing.  If 95% of companies with ecommerce capabilities use email marketing, probably 99.5% of companies in those categories do.

You’re far better off picking a focused topic, and in that focused topic picking companies you want to work for…

If you have The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid, turn to page 20.

Follow that process.

Basically, you need to pick an extremely narrow target market.  Narrow enough that they’ll all show up at one main trade show or industry event every year.  Not because you need to go there (although, yes, you should).  But because if you’re that focused, you could actually go out and find them.  Instead of typing “companies who do email marketing” into Google.

Then, find out who the top few companies are in this niche.  It doesn’t matter if you’re 100% right.  If you’re looking to get a foothold in a niche, getting gigs with anyone that looks like they’re a top player will be a good start.

Then, yes, sign up for a bunch of email lists.

Pay attention to the kind of marketing you get.

See which are marketing in a way that’s similar to the kind of marketing you want to help clients with.

Then reach out to them directly.

Yes, I’ve skipped a bunch of steps here.  Not because I’m trying to get you to buy my book (even though you should), but because the steps I left out are far less important than this idea of targeting a narrow group of clients.  And you should be able to figure them out, if you have this one cornerstone principle down.

Now for the rant…

I get so many questions along the lines of, “How do I get my first client?”

And what they most often reflect is inaction.

Most critically — inaction on that one crucial step of just picking someone to approach, and going to approach them and make a pitch.

One of the copywriters I work with, at dinner during my Financial Copywriters Workshop, talked about this.  And how he just didn’t understand it.

He said, “When I decided to get started as a copywriter, I just started cold-calling and knocking on doors until I found people who would hire me.  I didn’t have any copywriting work, so I had lots of time to do that.  I don’t need to do it as much anymore, but if I need more clients I’ll go knock on doors.”

The reason he’s successful and you’re not (if you’re the person I’m talking about here) is that he’s willing to pick a door and start knocking.

The sheer act of selecting a potential client gets you 80% of the way there…

Having a huge universe of prospects is an excuse.

If you narrow it down to one, you have to go see if they’re a fit.

They might not be.  And that’s okay.  Or, they might be.  And then you’ll actually have to do the work.

Either way, you don’t find out until you approach them.

If you have a huge universe of prospects, you can get away with not approaching and not approaching and not approaching.  Because you always have that possibility of figuring it out sometime in the future.

If there’s just one, you don’t have that liberty.  You know you need to approach them, and if you don’t you’re procrastinating.

I know this pain personally…

I spent years as a wannabe copywriter.

Learning and dreaming.  But not making it happen.

Then, I got fed up with it.

I reached what hypnotist Mike Mandel calls “threshold.”

I decided:

— Something needs to change.

— It has to be me.

— It has to be now.

And so I started picking potential clients I wanted to work with.  Choosing marketers I liked, and whose products I valued.

Then, I started pitching them.

And surprise, when I showed up with that intention, I nailed it.

They could feel the fire in my belly.  They could feel the fit.  And so we worked together.

Not every one was a success.  And I didn’t get all the clients I pitched.  But because they knew I chose THEM, they at least were interested.

The add-on benefits are immense…

I don’t have the room or the time to go too deep here, but…

— Being picky means you get to work with clients you like.

— Being picky usually leads to you developing a reputation in a market you want to work in.

— Being picky increases marketing ROI, because the audience is smaller and easier to find.

— Being picky teaches you to say no to clients who are not a fit, which actually increases your value and your happiness.

— Being picky with client choice also often leads to you getting to pick project type and scope, which sets you up further for success.

…  And that’s it for today.

Go find ONE client you’d like to work with, and pitch them…

In the process of narrowing it down, you’ll probably have a list of 20 or so.

Just pick the one at the top of the list, and go for it.

The worst thing you’ll hear is a “no,” and then you’ll have 19 more (plus the ability to keep making lists).

If you’re thinking about it, you’re not doing it.

Doing it will get you that breakthrough.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr