The Best (And Worst) Ways To Get Freelance Copywriting Clients
Did you ever see the movie Talladega Nights?
It’s a decent Will Ferrell movie where the main character, Ricky Bobby is a racecar driver who gets in an accident and has to learn how to drive again.
There’s one part of this movie that accurately describes what the journey feels like going from zero to your first paying freelance jobs.
In the movie, Ricky Bobby’s father tells him the only way he’s going to get his confidence back is by driving — blindfolded.
So Ricky hops behind the wheel, throws the blindfold on and guns it.
He proceed to zig zag through the street, crashing into every parked car along the way… until he finally veers off the rode and drives his car through some poor, unsuspecting family’s living room.
That’s a pretty accurate representation of what it’s like when you’re just starting out.
You have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, or where you’re headed. You just step on the gas an GO.
You crash and burn a LOT.
And you probably look like an idiot to everyone who is watching.
Eventually though… you figure it all out.
My friend and CopyHour creator Derek Johanson summed this up perfectly in one of his recent emails.
He basically said that there is no “one path” as a freelancer… and the only commonality is that if you want to really make it… and really make this your career… you just have to get moving… and eventually, with enough effort and momentum, you eventually figure it out.
At the end of the day, you just have to throw on that blindfold, hit the gas, and start moving forward.
In my own career, I’ve tried just about every method there was to get freelance clients. And I’ll tell you this from experience:
There are a lot of GOOD ways to get clients.
And A TON of bad ways to go about this.
My goal with this short article is to try and make this process a bit easier for you. Let’s dive in:
The Worst Ways To Get Freelance Copywriting Clients
- Cold cold calling: Want to hate your life? Start cold calling businesses trying to pitch your services. I guarantee you’ve never heard a phone slam so fast. Do you really think you’re the Wolf Of Wall Street? Are you a maverick salesman? Do you have ice in your veins? Are you gonna put on your big boy pants and take em from zero to closed in 15 minutes? No you’re not. It ain’t happening.
- Cold email: I’ll admit, some people have great success with this. 99% of people… do NOT. While it may work sometimes, it is hugely inefficient and a big waste of time. It might take you 100–200 cold emails before you even get a reply. Some people do get clients this way… however this is not recommended if you’re just starting out. There are easier ways to make this happen.
- Direct mail: When I first started, I ran a couple of direct mail campaigns, just like all the old timers used to do. There was nothing better than handwriting 300 envelopes, licking each one shut, stamping each one with a first class stamp… only to receive exactly 0 responses and a ton of nixies. Can this method work? Of course it can. But your list matters. You have to know how to craft a “dream come true” offer for that list. And you have to have some chops to pull this off. Expensive and inefficient if you’re new.
Here’s why all of the above methods SUCK for getting clients:
The one guiding principle I try to obey at all times in my business is…
Approach Every Situation From A Position Of Power
Read that again, it’s extremely important.
All of the above methods are push methods. You’re pushing your pitch onto someone.
If you want to get better clients… who pay more… who you actually LIKE to work with… then you need to shift the power from their hands, to yours.
And there’s a few easy ways to do that.
The BEST Ways To Get Freelance Copywriting Clients
- Know the right people. The best way to get clients is to buy friends. Pull out your wallet, put your money on the line, and buy your way into groups, circles and networks that you couldn’t get into on your own. Important people know other people. That’s an advantage to you. This business is heavily based on who you know. Really, all businesses are… but copywriting especially. Remember: In life, there is NO justice, there is only power. It doesn’t matter if you’re a better writer… you have to know the right people to get into the game. You want to align yourself with winners. Movers and shakers. Hustlers. People who are hell bent on success. Buy their attention. Pay for it in cash. It’s usually a hefty investment up front, but over 85% of all the money I’ve made from my career has been because of the people I have met in my career. You’re not an island. You need to mix it up and prove yourself to be a valuable person in the eyes of others. And when someone endorses or refers you, it opens the door wide open and makes closing new business an effortless, friendly and fun process.
- Get Referral Partners. Attract an army of affiliates who can refer clients your way. Pay them 10% of your project fee. If someone told me I could trade them $500 for a $5,000 project, I’d do that all day. Actually, I already do do that all day. Instead of wasting time cold calling, I have friends and referral partners who have their radars up ready to refer me if they meet someone who needs the solutions I offer. And I gladly pay them. You should too. Oftentimes, you can even return the favor for them as well. It’s a win-win-win situation. Everyone wins. Everyone is happy. You are, the referrer is, and the client gets their problem solved.
- Apply for jobs. Here’s a novel idea. Find people who are actively looking for what you offer… and apply to solve that problem. What I’ve found in my career, is that most job applications are simply a series of hoops you have to jump through. And few people are willing to jump through these hoops. If 100 people are interested in a job offering, only 10 will take the time to apply. Fewer people will finish the process and follow all the directions correctly. And out of those handful remaining, most of them aren’t better than you. A lot of job postings aren’t for “throw on a suit and drive to work” positions… most people need part time retainers you can do from home. Plus, these are often for longer term gigs which helps you get more reps, faster… and accelerate your learning curve exponentially.
- Paid traffic funnels: If you have a productized service… that solves a specific problem… and delivers a specific, measurable result… then create a quick paid traffic funnel and start running ads to it. Get people to apply. Close them on the phone. Do the work. Deliver the result. NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WANTS TO HIRE A COPYWRITER. That’s like saying you WANT to hire a plumber. You don’t WANT to hire a plumber. You just WANT to pay money to have an unclogged toilet. Make that mental shift. Never sell yourself as a service provider. Sell specific results that people want to pay money for. And make it easy by placing ads that attract people who want to “buy” the solution (productized service) you’re offering.
- Demonstrate your ability with authority content. Imagine you walk into a restaurant… and they don’t give you a menu… and the waiter comes up a few minutes later and asks you what you’ll have. You’d be a bit unsure, right? Very few clients know what they actually want. But if you present them with options, examples or a menu… it let’s them visually see the “thing” they want to buy for their business. When you publish stories about what you’ve done for clients… it makes them easy to raise their hand and say “Hey, I saw the you did XYZ for Jimbob’s business… could you do that for me too?” When you share your successes with a story or a piece of authority content it positions YOU as the expert… and the guy or gal who can solve someone’s specific problem.
Is all this starting to make sense?
At the end of the day, you need to find ways to attract people to you. You want people who are somewhat presold on the value of what it is that you do.
It’s better for you, it’s better for them, it’s better for all parties involved.
I’ve learned (the hard way) that you can make a million different mistakes and figure this stuff out on your own… OR you can just take my advice and hit the “easy” button.