How to Write a Bait Piece That Attracts Your Ideal Clients
One strategy for promoting your freelance business is to not offer your copywriting services. At least, not right away. Instead, offer a special report that solves a problem for your prospects and positions you as an expert in your niche.
Does this work?
It did for the financial services company where I worked as a staff copywriter. The sales team called them "prospecting articles," and they would send them to potential customers to build credibility and get a conversation started.
As a freelancer, I've benefitted from this same strategy. When contacting a prospect for the first time, instead of promoting my services, I offer my free report instead. This gives him the chance to get to know me before committing to a business relationship. And, the special report showcases my knowledge and copywriting ability, making it much more likely that I'll get hired when he needs a copywriter.
The fact is, people prefer to buy services from people they know, like, and trust. You can build trust by allowing your prospects to see your work and get to know you before offering your services.
And as an AWAI member and writer, you already have the skills you need to write a high-quality special report. I’m going to give you a proven method for getting it done quickly and easily.
Here’s my own five-step process for writing special reports.
1. Choose your topic
Your best topics will:
- Solve a problem (Example: how to write an e-book in seven days or less)
- Offer a blueprint to success (Example: a master marketing system)
- Share new research and explain how it affects your readers (Example: social media stats and what to do with them)
- Create an extended list (Example: 101 headlines for your swipe file)
Keep the 4 U's® in mind. Look for a topic that is Unique, Urgent, Useful, and Ultra-specific.
Need more help choosing a topic? If you've chosen a niche, consider solving a problem unique to marketers in that niche. If you specialize in a particular type of communication, such as autoresponder emails, write a how-to piece giving your tips and tricks.
For now, think big. Think about what you'd like to know … information that can help your reader make wise decisions … or a contrarian view to a common topic. Gather as many ideas as you can. Then, choose the one idea that will best show off your skill and knowledge.
2. Plan and Research
For me, planning and research go hand-in-hand. Sometimes I know what I want to say and look for data to back me up. Other times, I research first so I know what I need to say. If you're like me, you'll go back and forth between planning and researching until your outline looks balanced and complete.
Typically, your special report will follow a simple outline:
- Identify the problem. Remember the Power of One. You don't want to download everything you know in this one report. Solve one problem well, and you're more likely to impress your readers.
- Illustrate why a solution is needed. Show, don't tell. This is a great place to include a case study about someone who got poor results until they adopted your ideas. If you need guidance, Writing Case Studies is a great resource.
- Give the promised solution or information. This is the bulk of your report, where you deliver the goods. It needs to be logically organized and well researched.
- Tell the reader what to do next. Tell your reader exactly how to apply his newfound knowledge.
- Give information about your business. Include a blurb about you, the author. Be sure to include contact information and links to your social media profiles.
First, decide what you'll talk about in each section of your report. Then, look for gaps. If a section is weak, look for more useful information that could flesh it out.
When researching, try not to settle for secondhand information. Whenever possible, find the original source and read it for yourself. Here are a few places where you can find useful data:
- Recent studies, published within the last five years.
- Books by experts in the field.
- Comments by industry thought leaders.
- News sources.
- Industry associations.
- Trade journal articles.
3. Write the report
When writing your report, try to educate your reader, not sell to him. Rather than promoting your copywriting services directly, for example, leave him with the feeling that he needs a great copywriter.
Don't be afraid to share your best tips and techniques. By giving away valuable information, you prove you know what you're doing. In many cases, even if your prospect likes the information you provide, he won't want to do it himself. Instead, he'll hire you because he's confident in your abilities.
A few get-it-done writing tips:
- Write one section per day until it's done. Don't worry about the order you write them in. Complete the easiest one first and keep going until you're done.
- Write for a set number of minutes per day until it's done.
- Treat it like a client project. Give yourself a deadline and ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable.
- Don't wait until you feel like writing. Set a schedule and stick with it.
4. Let it sit for a day or two, then edit
Don't try to edit your work when it's fresh. You can see your work much more objectively if you set it down for a day or two before editing.
Read it over several times, each time focusing on a different issue. Make sure …
- You offer relevant, useful, and actionable information.
- The information all relates to the one topic you're addressing and solves a real problem faced by your target audience.
- The information is organized logically and clearly.
- You have no wasted words, tangents, or warm-ups.
- Your language is conversational and readable.
- You use the style and vocabulary of the people who will read your report.
- There are no misspellings or bad grammar.
5. Format it as a report
When formatting your report, keep it simple. Use no more than three different fonts and three different colors. If at all possible, round up a few professionally-produced reports you can use as a guide when formatting yours.
Use a traditional, easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman, for the body of your report. If you want, pair it with a plain, sans-serif font, such as Arial, for the headline and subheads.
Make sure you include:
- A cover page with a benefits-oriented title and your byline.
- The cost of the document in the upper right-hand corner. This adds value to your report.
- Copyright information. Format it as © [year] [your name].
- Contact information, including links to your website and social media profiles.
When done, ask some friends to review it for you. You might try the peer reviews we use here at AWAI.
And, there you have it: five steps to a special report you can offer to prospects to build your credibility and start the conversation about your copywriting services.
Consider sending prospects a sales letter "selling" your free report. A week later, follow up with a phone call asking how they liked it. Then, send an email offering a 10% discount on their first project.
Before you know it, cold prospects will become ideal clients, and you'll be on your way to your own version of the writer's life.
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