Freelance copywriting is more than just writing – it requires that you find paying customers and repeat business. Whether you are pursuing a full-time freelance career, or copywriting as a side-gig, you need to solicit paying customers. This article takes a look at freelance business development tactics for copywriters.
Create Your Recipe For Success
A business development plan is like a recipe for a special dinner event you are preparing. You decide on your evening’s theme, main dish, side dishes, accompanying drinks, appetizers and dessert. You plan out the table settings and music to set the mood.
Your copywriting theme is the industry niche you want to target initially. Will you target health care businesses? Hospitality? Table settings and music – your personal brand that you develop for your website and marketing materials. Your initial portfolio and own sales copy are the appetizers that “whet the appetite” of clients for your writing.
Think of the additional services you provide, like writing ads or email copy as your side-dishes.
Dessert? Well, that’s for you: repeat business from your customers. You really can have your cake and eat it too!
Plan how you will develop business relationships with clients, and then work that plan. Create action items, measurable targets and outcomes and a schedule. How many clients do you want within three months? How many professional network contacts do you want to have in six months? How many cold-emails will you send out each week? How many guest blog posts will you write each quarter?
Manage your time, and hold yourself accountable.
The point here is to work your plan. Put your sales hat on and focus on a process that wins paying gigs.
Freelance Business Development: Getting and Retaining Paying Customers
There is no pretending to be a freelance copywriter. You either have paying customers or you don’t. There is no shame in making money. The money–not the writing–is your reward. Honor the goal of getting paid. Set your eyes on that prize.
First, develop some basic copywriting credentials and get some training by earning a copywriting certificate. Next build a small portfolio of work to show to prospective clients. As Carol Rice notes in her article How To Become a Highly Paid Copywriter From Scratch, start easy. Reach out to businesses with people that you know and offer them some free copy or content. Write a blog or an email that will help them get more sales. Get the work delivered quickly, so you can use it in your portfolio right away.
Try to measure the success of this pro bono work, and get a few testimonials.
Once you have a portfolio and testimonials, your copywriting freelance business development activities will focus in two areas: “cold” business development and “warm” networking. Both are important strategies to building your business.
Networking involves building connections and relationships with potential clients, other copywriters, editors and graphic designers, as well as influencers in the industries you seek to write in. Focus particularly in any industry that you have experience in or are passionate about.
Join at least one professional copywriting organization, and follow and contribute on social media. Sophia de Albequerque also recommends in her article How to Build A Network As A Freelancer, read, comment and share other copywriters’ blogs, and offer to contribute to their blogs. Often, these professional relationships will lead to paid gigs.
Network in professional groups, online groups, conferences and other venues where your potential clients network. Participate, introduce yourself and pitch your services. Offer to help, and offer lots of free consultations.
“Cold” business development for copywriters
Good, well-paying clients exist outside of your network. An important key to building your clientele and getting higher paying gigs is to continually seek new business by scaling your research and writing skills.
This is where you get additional practice being a great copywriter: research, write, test and revise email and print copy you will use to solicit new business. Well written cold-emails really do work. This is what you do, right? Well, get to it and start writing and testing email copy. Eventually, you can template emails that you know work (get opened, clicked-through and result in consultations).
Aim high. Send your emails to upper-level decision makers. This requires research. Who is in charge? Who are the key decision makers in the business? Build a list, make notes and track every contact you attempt. Use your copywriting skills to develop personas – semi-fictional representations of your target buyers. Each persona may have different needs and require different strategies and language.
How many prospects do you need to reach out to? That depends on how much business you want, and how effective your copywriting is. To start, plan on reaching to at least ten times the number of clients or jobs you want. For example, if you want ten (10) paying clients in your first three months, be prepared to reach out to 100 prospects. As noted above, once you have tested your emails or written pieces and know what works, you can template these to send out in larger numbers.
Effective business development requires followup. Great copywriters (that’s you!) write great followup emails and send them out without hesitation. Test these as you would your preliminary copy, and then template what works for each persona.
Remember: What is the goal of your cold emails? Initial consultation calls. These are where you sell your services and close deals for new business. Once you have more consultations, you will get a better sense of your clients’ needs. Show the client how you can solve their needs (more leads, or more meetings) by writing and placing effective copy that will influence their customers into action.
Your consultation calls (and follow ups) are where you will close your sales. Prepare, test and template sales copy for each stage of your sales cycle. Be methodical and scientific – see what wins you clients!
Getting to Dessert: Winning Repeat Business
Another effective freelance business development tactic is to get repeat business from existing customers. You will win repeat business by not only providing effective copywriting, but by measuring success and following up with clients to see what new needs they have.
Measure what matters. Go back to what your client’s key needs were. More sales meetings? Document how many they had before your started, and how many are directly attributed to your copy. Highlight the success with them, and find you how many resulted in new sales for the client. Acknowledging the success will help the client see that they need to hire or retain you for more work.
Additionally, follow up regularly with your existing clients, and don’t be afraid to ask them for referrals.
Building and Maintaining Your Skills
Copywriting is a skill you develop, practice and continue to build. The same holds for freelance business development.
Read and pay attention to the sales copy you see. What do you like? What works? What doesn’t?
Practice your own copywriting for your business, and build your own copywriting and content team. Your team simply needs to consist of people who can help you with your craft: someone who can brainstorm with you, edit, do a little graphic design for your business development plan. Check in on new freelance business development strategies discussed in the Content Workshop blog.
We hope you enjoyed this article. Now go build your freelance copywriting business!
About the Author
Andy Gale – Content Workshop Certified Copywriter
More tactical than a mission plan to Mars, Andy Gale (MBA)is an influence writer and revenue builder. Contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation about how to build and launch your inbound marketing and sales system.