The Mad Scientist Experiment That Rocketed My Career

Apparently, even though I’m a copywriter, I’m a lot like Dexter of the TV cartoon Dexter's Laboratory. A “Which Mad Scientist Are You?” website told me so after I took their Mad Scientist Personality Quiz.

So what does this have to do with being a successful freelance copywriter? Let’s take a quick look … it will have important meaning to you if you’re trying to build your copywriting business. (I promise.)

The Mad Scientist website said, “Dexter is a boy genius who maintains a state-of-the-art lab behind a bookcase in his room.” OK, so this applies to me because I do all my freelance copywriting on a new MacBook Pro that sits on a desk between two bookcases in my room. Check.

“Dexter is brilliant.” Well, I like to think so when it comes to writing copy that works wonders for my clients. :-) Check.

“He is somewhat self-conscious and perhaps a little shy.” This is true as well – I’m always concerned about doing a great job, and I don’t focus on myself when helping my clients improve their web content. Check.

“His glasses, black high-heel boots, and lab coat complete his 'look'.” I wear glasses for distance, and occasionally I wear black boots. My office ‘lab coat’ is more like jeans and a comfy sweater. Check.

Now, you could make the correlation that because I’m like Dexter, I’m a Mad Scientist copywriter. But why should you care about this anyway?

Because last year I decided to try an experiment with my freelance copywriting business, and it created surprisingly powerful results that still astound me.

It wasn’t exactly a “Mad” experiment, but it was scientific. And quite profound. So I thought you might like to know what I did, and how you can use this experiment for your own copywriting business. I followed the classic steps to conducting a scientific experiment … and applied them to my freelance copywriting business. You can do the same thing. Here’s what it looks like:

  1. RESEARCH: Investigate the topic: in this case – how to land more clients that are perfect for you.

    • Look at your track record of getting great clients so far.
    • Look at what others have done to get bodacious clients (your AWAI peers, for example).
    • Consider what the gurus say about marketing yourself in a growing field of skilled copywriters.
    • Think about the ways you’ve tried to approach prospects, and what has or hasn’t worked.
    • Review your business goals and identify the gaps in what’s actually happening.

    You have a clearer picture of your efforts so far, so you can move on to the next step.

  2. PROBLEM: Identify the struggle you wish to overcome.

    In the case of building a lucrative freelance copywriting business, the problem for you may be:

    “I’m not sure exactly WHO to market my services to … so I can attract a steady stream of great clients who are fun to work with and who pay me for the value I provide.”

    Or something along those lines. Once you’ve nailed the problem you’re trying to solve, you can take the next step.

  3. HYPOTHESIS: Create a statement you’re trying to prove or disprove within the experiment.

    Based on my problems, the hypothesis I chose to test was:

    “If I focus my web copywriting business on one specific niche industry that’s thriving, with lots of companies in a field I really enjoy – I will attract more clients and projects that are fun, rewarding and lucrative.”

    Your hypothesis may be different. For example, you may want to attract clients for a certain type of writing, such as Public Relations writing, Social Media writing and project management, etc. Or you may want to build a thriving business around writing and building websites – the complete soup-to-nuts offering.

    But for this experiment, I wanted to see if a “niche-industry focus” would be more successful for me … as it seems to be for many other copywriters.

  4. EXPERIMENT: Develop actions that help you prove or disprove the hypothesis.

    Once I identified a clear hypothesis (a niche-industry focus will propel my success), the experiment was a blast. Here’s what I did, and what you can try too.

    • Conduct industry research to identify a strong, growing niche market that’s perfect for you. (For me, it’s the pet industry.)
    • Create a new business name focused on your niche industry.
    • Create a logo and tagline that helps marketers quickly identify you as an ally.
    • Build a website that’s focused on the value you offer marketers in your niche industry.
    • Create a marketing campaign that reaches out to your target audience in a way that generates a call or email to you. This campaign may include:
      • Direct mail letter package
      • Special report
      • Clever giveaway that catches your prospects’ attention
      • Postcard
      • PPC (Google AdWords) campaign
      • A referral request email to all your business connections
      • A press release announcing your business
      • Social media profiles in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
      • Attending trade shows and other business functions where your prospects congregate
      • Other
    • Steadily work the plan by taking a single action each day; something that propels you forward with this experiment.
  5. RESULTS: Keep track of all activities you tried, and the results they generated. For example …

    • What worked the best? Or the least?
    • How many new prospects did you meet?
    • How many responded to your direct marketing efforts?
    • How many called or emailed you after finding your website?
    • How many referrals did you receive?
    • How many new clients did you land?
    • What’s the dollar value of your new work?
    • What does the momentum look like? (Positive?)
    • Are you now too busy to continue tracking this experiment? (That’s what happened to me.)
    • Are you ready to just call it a success? (That was my experience!)
  6. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Were the results what you hoped for or expected?

    This can be a discussion with yourself, your family, your colleagues, and/or your friends. It can be as simple as, “Wow – this experiment ROCKED and I’m busy now!” Or you can tell AWAI about it in full detail, or post it on one of the copywriter forums; even shout it to the rooftops. Whatever you wish!

The main point is, by following a clear and focused “Mad Scientist” path like this, you may achieve far more success than ever before. Just as I have.

How to Choose Your Writing Niche

How to Choose Your Writing Niche: Your Step-by-Step Blueprint for Finding a Niche that’s Right for You

Need to pick a niche for your freelance business? Learn how to do it once and for all, and watch your business grow. Learn More »

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Published: March 7, 2011

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