The Magic of Turning $1,000 Into $40,000

If you get a project, what do you have?

A check for writing fees … maybe some royalties.

If you get a client, what do you have?

Several writing fees … and some nice royalties.

If you get a partnership, what do you have?

Residual money in the bank for years to come.

Today, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a story about how I turned one project into a client, and then into a partnership. In doing so, I magically converted $1,000 into $40,000. Of course, the moral of my story is that you can do the same thing.

Here’s my story …

Bling! It was 5:30 a.m. and I was already getting emails.

Bling! Bling! All right already! Setting my book down, I opened an email from some guy named Dave.

“I read your profile at and wondered if you’d consider looking at a writing project I’ve got to get finished. It’s dealing with … ”

Aaaahhh! Music to my eyes! Would I be interested in a writing project? Do fish like water? Yeah, you bet I would!

I was tempted to give the guy an instant reply and slobber all over him, begging him to actually give me the project. But, it was early in the morning and I still had some will power left in me, so I restrained myself.

Instead, I went over to his website and started a three-hour research project on Dave and his market. I printed out every last word on his website. I went to five of his competitors’ sites and did the same. Then I actually read all those words! “Gasp!” you say, “That sounds like work!”

Well, it was work … but stay with me, because there are two years of residual checks at the end of this story … and I’ll tell you how you can get yours.

Finally, after going through all of this market research, I sat down and cranked out a short email to Dave.

“Dave, sounds like a great project … I’m looking forward to it. You know, I took a minute to go over your site. It looks like you have a killer product here. But I also read up on some of your competitors. It seems like there’s a gap in the market that I think we could fill with not too much effort and probably double your income. When do you have a minute to talk?”

It wasn’t 10 minutes before I got an email back …

“Here’s my cell number. Give me a call anytime.”

Hahaha … I figured the “not too much effort and probably double your income” line would nail him!

Twenty minutes later, I was on the phone blowing his mind with my market knowledge and pointing out two simple things we could do to knock a few balls out of the park together.

Less than 24 hours later, I fired off an agreement to handle all of his marketing. Over the next two years, that agreement would make me over $40,000 … and still counting because of the residuals I get each month!

And can you believe, Dave thought he only wanted me to finish up one $1,000 writing project for him?

It’s a story I could tell again and again. Not long after I started writing copy, I read an article by Michael Masterson about the value of back-end businesses. The idea is that once you get customers or clients in the door, you develop that relationship for all it’s worth. You do it with sincerity and integrity … honestly but relentlessly. It is a well-known fact that an existing client is much more valuable than a prospect.

So, I decided that if I was going to go through all the time and effort to land a project, I might as well do a little extra work to turn it into a client. And hey, if I was going to secure a client, why not see if it could turn into a partnership?

That’s how I turned a $2,500 project from Corel into a multi-year, $52,000 client. It’s how I took Sony from giving me a $500 press release, to cutting me several checks for well over $12,000. And, to Katie and Rebecca’s joy, that’s how I turned a $2,000 assignment into over $25,000 in fees and royalties from AWAI over the past few years.

I could list others, but here’s the point: About 80% of my copywriting income has come from my “back-end” business … my efforts to turn each project into a client, and each client into a partnership.

At Bootcamp in November we’ll go into great detail on exactly how you can do this, too. But, for now, let me just summarize with my 7-point approach to magically turning projects into clients, and clients into partnerships …

  1. Self Image. Grab a piece of paper. Write your name down and put, “Copywriter” next to it. Now add “Copywriting Consultant.” Sounds nice. Now put down “Marketing and Direct Response Consultant.” Ooohh … sounds even better. Now something like this, “Joshua Boswell, Successful Entrepreneur.”

    If you only ever see yourself as a copywriter, you’ll likely only ever get “projects.” If you’re a consultant, you’ll get “clients.” But, if you’re a successful entrepreneur – one of the movers and shakers of the world – you can do it all … plus wrap a few partnerships into the deal.

  2. Research. Within the first or second conversation with a potential new customer, you had better know their business and their market as well as – or better than – they do.
  3. Interview. No, no, I’m not talking about them interviewing you … I’m talking about you interviewing them. What is their current need? What keeps them up at night? What is their real objective? What is their sales process? What is their number one pain point?
  4. Sell Solutions … Not Copywriting. All of this research and interviewing has a purpose. Look for the weak link in their marketing, in their approach, in their copy … and provide them with a solution. Remember, it’s always about them, and never about you. Sell them a solution.
  5. Assumptive Expectations. From the first conversation, begin talking about “working together” and “when we put this together” and “I can see how we could bump the response on this,” etc., etc., etc. From day one, you are part of the team, looking out for their best interest.
  6. Maximize Profits. The entire name of the game is profits, profits, profits. Your job as a consultative entrepreneur is to discover where they are missing out on profits, and give them the tools to capture those missed income streams. It might be a new email series, a revamped letter, more market research, better products, or whatever. You find it and tell them about it. They will love you … and pay you for it!
  7. Over Deliver. In all of this, your very most profitable approach is to put your client first and foremost. Serve them and forget yourself. Give them your very, very best insights, knowledge, information, and writing. Bob Bly is one of the best in the business, but he is also one of the most honest men I know. He always gives far more than is expected. It’s a lesson for all of us.

Is all this a bit more effort? Yes. But, it’s far less effort than constantly marketing yourself and forever wondering where the next project will come from. Use this simple 7-step approach, and I can promise you your projects will become clients, and some of your clients will turn into partnerships … and then your writing fees will turn into years of solid money in the bank.

See you at Bootcamp!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: August 15, 2008

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