How Rebecca Matter, Pam Foster, and Facebook Helped Me Land a Big Web Client

On a beautiful October afternoon, twenty-two years ago, two young men met in college. They were both very much alike, these two young men. Both were better than average students, both were personable and both – as young college men are –were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

Recently, these men ran into each other – on Facebook.

They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had four children. And both, it turned out, were involved in selling.

But, there was a difference. One of the men was the Vice President of a mid-sized insurance company in Nashville, Tennessee. The other was a freelance copywriter.

Turns out, they needed each other …

What Made the Difference

As any self-respecting AWAI'er can see, the above opening is a feeble rip-off of the classic Wall Street Journal letter.

The story, though, is true.

I'm the freelance copywriter (of course.) And a chance meeting with my old college friend, Don, on Facebook, turned into my first big web client. You might think this is another article about using Social Media to snag copywriting business.

It is, in a way.

But more than that, it's about the power of having countless AWAI resources at our fingertips. The ability to grab a title off the “online bookshelf” one moment, and have a decent four-figure proposal accepted the next.

Let me explain.

Can Facebook Really Do That?

Two weeks ago, I was taking a 10-minute mental break from a project I was working on. I'm into routines, so I grabbed a cup of tea and checked my email (I know, I know … I can hear all you hardcore types screaming not to do this.) Then I checked my Facebook account (an even greater time-waster, right?)

Now, I'm not a Social Media guru by any means. I haven't read AWAI's program, Social Networking: The 21st Century Way to Find New Clients, by Jim Turner (I can assure you I will now, though!)

I use Facebook the way you probably do – to keep in touch with old and new friends.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my inbox message read: "Steve, I see you're a copywriter now. We need to completely re-write our website. Do you do that kind of thing? Give me a call when you get a chance. I'll be in my office all day."

Fire, then Aim!

Do I do that kind of thing? Absolutely!

It took me all of about 15 seconds to pick up the phone and give Don a call. He's the Vice President of a mid-sized insurance company catering to seniors, and they did have a pretty weak website.

He explained that the company wanted to launch a new site at their annual meeting for agents in January. They had a web programmer lined up, but didn't have anyone to write all the content. They also needed someone who knew about site architecture, Search Engine Optimization, and strategic planning.

I told Don that I could help with all of that, and he transferred me over to their marketing director, who filled me in more. I let them both know that I would put together a proposal and get back to them within three days.

Here's where the fun began.

I've had a fair amount of copywriting projects, and I've done some website work, including writing landing pages. But this project was bigger in scope and more involved than anything I've done before.

Find a Guru

Talk about scrambling! First thing I did was to log into the AWAI site, and re-listened to Rebecca Matter's 2009 Bootcamp presentation, "Landing and Pricing the Hottest Web Projects with Ease."

If you haven't had the privilege of meeting Rebecca, or hearing her speak, you're in for a treat. She oozes enthusiasm for writing for the web, and knows her subject inside and out. She also breaks down what can seem like cryptic language (SEO, PPC, landing pages, etc.) for the novice, making it easy to understand.

When I finished listening to Rebecca's session online, I had a better grasp of the project before me, and I had the confidence that I could do a great job on it.

But I still had one other problem. I had never written a proposal like that before.

Able to Leap Tall Buildings …

Solution? Another AWAI superhero to the rescue! This time … enter Pam Foster. You might recall that Pam was AWAI's Latest $10k Challenge Winner. She wrote "The Web Copywriter's Clear Path to Profits. 7 Steps to Working with Web Clients so They'll Love You and Pay You the Big Bucks." She is the resident AWAI expert when it comes to having a systematic approach to working with web clients.

I knew there was a reason I got involved with AWAI.

The next day, I completely devoured Pam's book, all 273 pages of it. When I was done, I knew exactly how to draft a web project proposal. Of course, I wasn't very good at it yet, so it took me another five or six hours to put the proposal together.

The result: a very detailed, professional-looking document that outlined in detail what I would do for the client. It also named a hefty fee (not Paul Hollingshead territory, but decent for me.)

The story ends well, as I got a call from Don a few days later accepting the terms of my proposal, with one exception.

I always ask for 50% upfront to start the project, with the remaining half due upon completion of the project.

Icing on the Cake

Since they knew I was leaving for three weeks in December, they sent me the entire project fee in advance.

So, hidden amongst that nice holiday story are three lessons:

  1. Don't listen to the copywriting experts who tell you not to check your email or Facebook during the day.
  2. Take advantage of the the AWAI resources we have at our fingertips (literally at our fingertips on the keyboard – everything I mentioned is available online.)
  3. When you are stuck in a precarious situation, there's almost always an AWAI superhero who will come to your rescue.

Here's hoping you encounter some social media serendipity in 2010. Happy New Year!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: December 28, 2009

2 Responses to “How Rebecca Matter, Pam Foster, and Facebook Helped Me Land a Big Web Client”

  1. Steve,

    Thanks for writing this article. It helped me understand how things work.

    Degrees and credentials can only get you so far. Work experience, ditto.

    What matters now is networking, that is, if you are interested in new clients.

    As far as networking is concerned, social media is the name of the game.

    This is what I learned from your article. I hope I am on the right track here.

    It's amazing how people can contact you out of the blue based on your social media profile. Cheers.

    Archan MehtaMay 15, 2011 at 8:51 am


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