Marketing Yourself Without a Resume
What You MUST Know About Marketing
Your Freelance Copywriting Services

You’ve spent countless hours studying the intricacies of copywriting. After all that hard work, you’re ready to promote yourself as a response-exploding, sales-boosting machine.

But there’s one slight problem. You’ve got no clue where to begin.

“Maybe I should create a resume,” you think … Or perhaps a stellar bio.

Rather than tell you what potential clients are looking for, let me give you an inside look …

What follows is a recent email exchange between Porter Stansberry, head of a wildly popular investment research newsletter, and a potential job candidate. Pay special attention to Porter’s response …

From Porter’s mailbag:
“Do you have any job openings? I’m a graduating senior at Notre Dame, and I’m applying for jobs … I would really enjoy doing investment or economic research, and if you guys needed someone at the office, I would love to speak with you (or someone from your firm) about working at S&A. My GPA isn’t exactly a 4.0, but that has more to do with the fact that I had already passed out of many first- and second-year requirements when I got to college, and couldn’t get into most of the finance classes I wanted because I was too young – stupid bureaucracy. Once I got into the finance, accounting, and economics classes, I was a star. Anyways, if you have any openings around the office you think might be good for someone like me, or have any general ideas you would care to share about careers in finance, I would be all ears. Thanks!”
– Paid-up subscriber’s son Patrick B.

Porter’s comment:
“Don’t waste time talking about what you did or didn’t do in college. No one cares. What we care about, like any other employer, is what you’re willing and able to do for us now. What skills do you have? Can you use a Bloomberg terminal quickly? Can you make an Excel spreadsheet dance? How familiar are you with poker and other forms of logical gambling? How many stocks have you purchased on your own account? How familiar are you with the SEC’s database? How many different types of businesses do you know well? How many newsletters have you read in the past? How many investment books have you read? Which ones did you like? …”

Most copywriters think they have to write a formal resume and send it out to hundreds of potential clients in hopes that someone will call back. But as you saw in Porter’s comment, this is a backwards way of going about it.

Because the truth is clients don’t care about you. They care about what you can do for them. That’s why you don’t need a formal, self-serving resume or bio.

Jeffrey Fox, in his book, Don’t Send a Resume: And Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job, explains that landing a job (or client, in your case as a freelancer) is a sales process.

You’re the product, and your future client is the potential buyer. As a copywriter, you have to sell yourself to the person who hires freelance/in-house copywriters.

I know the thought of selling yourself might be a little scary.

But if you follow the steps I’ve outlined below, you’ll find there’s really not much to it. These steps were taken from Fox’s book, and modified slightly for landing copywriting assignments …

  1. Research 10 companies you’d like to work for, and then narrow it down to three that are a perfect match for you. There a few great places you can find this information. The most comprehensive is Target Marketing’s Directory of Major Mailers. It gives you mailing addresses and what the company mails, along with key personnel contacts. Another great place is the Direct Marketing Market Place. Chances are your local library has a copy in the reference section. Or check out the Who’s Mailing What! Archive, the world’s largest library of direct-mail data and packages.
  2. Find out the name and contact information of the person who hires freelance/in-house copywriters. To get this information, you’ll actually have to call the company and ask.
  3. Uncover the company’s needs and wants. Find out who their customers are, how their business works, and – more importantly – how you can benefit them by filling some of their needs, wants, and desires. The best way to do this is by researching their competitors. What kind of promos do they currently have out? Are their products better or worse? How could your potential client reach more prospects and get them to buy now?
  4. Write a sales letter directed to the person in charge of hiring. It should be very personal. Make him aware that you know the company, like the company, and have something specific and valuable to offer. This can be in the form of a free report, white paper, or free consultation. The goal is to get this person to contact you one way or another.
  5. Listen. Once you’ve contacted the person in charge of hiring, listen. Don’t talk too much. Ask questions. Delve deeper into his problems, needs, and wants … and offer solutions as to how you can help him achieve his goals.
  6. Write a proposal. This is the best-case scenario: after speaking, the person in charge of hiring copywriters is very interesting in hiring you for an assignment. All he needs now is your fee. Instead of just blurting out a price while on the phone, let him know you’ll send him a proposal within 24 hours. In this proposal, show how much value you’re going to provide to him and his company. Show him how much you’re going to deliver, along with your asking price for all these wonderful benefits. If he accepts your proposal, then congratulations! You just landed a bona-fide paid assignment. (If this person isn’t interested in working with you at the present moment, simply put his name and contact info in a database. Then make sure you follow up in a few weeks and see if his copywriting needs have changed.)
  7. Send a “thank you” note. Regardless of the outcome, always send a “thank you” note. This will set you apart and position you as a true professional.

And remember, always think in terms of why the company should hire you. As Fox says, “If you don’t know why the company should hire you, it’s a good bet the company won’t know either.”

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: February 2, 2009

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