Guest Post – 6 Secrets to Landing High-paying Clients (Without a Portfolio)
Landing high-paying clients is one of the toughest challenges we face as freelancers.
You can try scratching out a living on freelance bidding sites.
But if you’re serious about growing your income and career, client outreach must be one of your daily tasks.
But what’s the best way of doing it, so you don’t waste hours sending unread emails or leaving endless voice messages?
In this guest post Nick Daniel, whose written for Dr. Sears, Agora Publishing and the Healthy Back Institute, shares his strategies for signing up lucrative clients who’ll pay royalties on top of your five (or maybe even six) figure fee.
Better yet, throughout his post you’ll find links to his new book, The Wealthy Health Copywriter – How to Earn $13,000 for Every Sales Letter You Write, which you can [amazingly] download for free. I’ve read it from cover to cover, and I can vouch that you’d be crazy not to get your copy. If you’ve any dreams of joining the top table of million dollar copywriters and writing for the highest paying markets, Nick’s book provides a blueprint on how to do it.
Just imagine earning $13k per sales letter! You’ll never find projects like that on a freelance bidding site. Outreach to premium grade clients is the only way to get them.
Take it away Nick..
By Nick Daniel, Author of The Wealthy Health Copywriter
You’ve sent dozens of emails to prospective clients. A week has gone by. Your inbox hasn’t budged...
Or you’ve cold-called twenty creative directors…and they’ve all asked the same question…can you send me a couple of examples of your work…?
Problem is, you’re a rookie, and you don’t have any real, market-tested examples of your work…
All you have is that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach… a sense of failure and frustration…
You know in your bones you’re a great writer – but how do you make people sit up and notice?
I’ve been there. It’s the same Catch-22 mind-warp every rookie faces…
How the heck do you get clients…if you don’t have any clients…?!
In my first few months of freelance copywriting, I was caught in the same nail-biting dilemma…
…until I hit on a strategy that actually worked…and landed me my first big client…
Today, I’m working for top clients in the health industry, including Agora Publishing, Dr. Sears (Primal Force) and the Healthy Back Institute.
(You can get a free copy of Nick’s book, The Wealthy Health Copywriter here)
Here’s how it worked for me…
1. Get the “Lucky to Have Me” Mindset
First of, it’s about shifting from the please-choose-me mindset to the you’d-be-lucky-to-have-me mindset..
Not only is this smarter (as I’ll explain in a moment) – but as a rookie copywriter, it boosts your psychological power.
It gives you the strength to go out and grab what you deserve…what’s rightfully yours… instead of waiting for the call that may never come…
It’s an attitude that should fill your emails, cold-calls and every other communication with prospective clients.
2. Pick a niche, and become an expert…
The second step is to pick a niche, and become really great at it.
Prospective clients are much more likely to take interest if you’re exclusive to a niche. Why? Because it means you take their business more seriously. It means you’re an expert, not a generalist.
It means you love the business they’re in, and you care.
I chose the alternative health industry. Within that industry, I chose to write long-form sales letters. Nothing else. No print ads, brochures or landing pages.
I chose long-form sales letters. For alternative health companies. Period.
And I made myself an expert. I read every book, watched every documentary, interviewed every big name. I built a copywriting website and filled it with related articles about sales letters and alternative health.
It was a start. It helped establish me as an expert. It helped define my niche in the eyes of prospects.
But it only really came into play when I implemented the next two steps…
3. Choose Your Prospects – Don’t Let Them Choose You
Early on, I made a common rookie mistake. I spread the net too wide…
Meaning, I sent hundreds of emails, and made hundreds of cold-calls, to hundreds of prospective clients.
I thought that by increasing the number of prospects, and marketing to all of them, this would somehow increase the response rate.
But I was dead wrong. As any savvy marketer will tell you – the exact opposite is true.
I quickly learned that 80% of the companies I was writing to (or cold-calling) were mis-fits. Some of them were too small, and had too few products. Others weren’t ready for a new freelancer.
There were a ton of reasons why we weren’t a good fit.
What a waste of time! I’d spend a whole week finding these companies, and sending over 150 emails. And I’d get absolutely nothing back…
So what did I do? I reversed my strategy.
First, I sat down and wrote an ‘ideal client profile’ – a description, in fine detail, of the kind of client I would love to work with.
It looked something like this:
My ideal client is a supplement-maker relying mainly on direct mail sales letters to sell product. They should be marketing at least 20 products. They should have a slightly anti-establishment approach to the alternative health market, and their products should be backed by a panel of experts (doctors and nutritionists). They should have anywhere between 250 and 1,000 employees.
Next, I made a list of the top 10 companies who fit this exact description. And I started marketing exclusively to them.
The first time I did this, I got a 60% response rate. Compared to a 4% response rate when I sent out those 150 emails.
I share much more about these strategies in my book, The Wealthy Health Copywriter...
What’s crazy about this is that, in the last 5 years, I’ve only marketed my copywriting services to 15 companies. Ten of those companies are now repeat clients. (I’m still working on the other 5…).
But to get this response rate, first I had to find ways to make these prospects sit up and listen…
4. Sneaky Stealth Marketing
The first step was to engage in some sneaky stealth marketing.
To do this, I found my prospects on LinkedIn or Facebook – or even got their email address by searching online. I connected with them. And then I sent them a trickle of information – articles, industry updates, links to my website, tips about hiring freelancers…
The aim was to get them to notice me – nothing more. I wanted them to see my name, and get a sense of what I was all about. Everything I sent them was strictly related to my niche.
5. Communicate Personally with the Prospect…
But to get that 60% response rate, I needed to go further.
I needed to communicate with each prospect on a personal level. I wasn’t going to simply ask for work. I was going to share something I knew about them…something they needed…a problem they faced, that only I could solve.
Put simply, my marketing strategy was to communicate in a personal way with each prospective client…and offer them something they sorely needed…over and over again.
To achieve this, I found out everything I could about the company. I analyzed their marketing materials. I examined – and in some cases used – their products. I found out about personnel changes in the company. I learned about new products coming onto the market.
And then I used this information as bait.
For example, if a recent promotion hadn’t done well (or looked like it needed improvement), I offered to improve it…
If a new product was about to come out, I offered to write a headline and lead on spec…
If there was a new creative director, and he needed to get up and running quickly, I offered to make his life easier by sending him a new headline and lead in record time…
This is what I mean about the you’d-be-lucky-to-have-me mindset. It’s all about offering value to the client, and making yourself indispensable…
I made sure to mention these insights in my email messages. I made sure to follow the rules of great subject lines. I made sure to follow the rules of great sales letters, like providing an urgent call to action and a P.S.
And sure enough, out of that 60% response rate – from just 10 emails – I had two clients asking me to write a headline and lead on spec.
When I turned them in, they were both accepted. I completed both promotions, and they both beat the control.
6. All it takes is ONE.
There’s no doubt about it – getting my first big client was tough. It took all these strategies – repeated many times – to make it happen.
But here’s the thing: all it takes is ONE…
All it takes is one big client. If your copy does well, you can leverage that client into getting you all the work you need, for the rest of your life.
If you’re working in the direct mail industry, it’s all about results – and using those results to persuade your next big client to hire you.
So when I did my second big marketing push – back to those same 10 prospects (actually it was 9, because by now I was already working for one of them) – I was able to say:
“My latest project beat the control by 15% and generated $300,000 in the first three months…”
Bang! That was all I needed…to have three more big clients asking for my services.
In other words, once you’ve landed your first client, things can start happening very fast...
Nick Daniel works for top clients including Dr. Sears, Agora Publishing and the Healthy Back Institute. You can get a FREE copy of his latest book, The Wealthy Health Copywriter, here: https://nickdaniel.leadpages.co/wealthyhealthcopywriter/