“Hook” Your Ideal Clients

A key to succeeding as a freelancer is to look like a pro — even when you’re new to the field.

Today, I’ll show you how to build credibility and demonstrate your expertise to potential clients. As we did yesterday in our discussion on websites, we’ll use a communication format borrowed from the corporate world.

You've probably seen it by different names: white paper … special report … buzz piece … or bait piece. Regardless of what you call it, though, its purpose is to attract and hook your ideal clients.

How does it do that? Two ways. It serves as a lead magnet, helping you build a list of prospective clients. And, it gives your prospects a useful way to evaluate your work.

Attract Qualified Leads

When marketing your freelance business, one of your goals is to quickly and easily identify the people who are most likely to make good clients. The special report is a great way to do this.

You see, your report will be written to solve a problem for one person: the marketing director or business owner in your niche. So, let's say you do social media marketing for small businesses. Your special report could explain how small business owners are using Facebook and Twitter to sell more products.

Because your special report is so well-targeted, anyone who responds is essentially raising his hand, identifying himself as someone who could use your services.

Show Prospects What You Can Do

According to a recent study by Eccolo Media, more than eight out of 10 businesses find white papers (or special reports) either moderately or extremely influential in their purchasing decisions. MarketingSherpa has reported that nearly seven out of 10 prospects download a white paper as part of their buying cycle.

This is valuable information for "big business" service providers. It's just as important for freelancers.

Why? Because it helps us know the process our prospects go through when hiring a freelance copywriter. If we line up our sales process with their buying process, we may be able to shorten the time from first contact to first contract.

These statistics tell us that, in most cases, your prospect won't make the hiring decision based solely on the sales letter on your website, phone interviews, or emails you’ve sent selling yourself. He needs a low-pressure way to evaluate your skills and decide whether you're the right copywriter for his needs.

The special report gives him that opportunity.

Make Your Special Report Part of Your "Process"

Now, a few tips on using your special report. (To learn my five-step process for quickly and easily writing your special report, read my article, "How to Write a Bait Piece That Attracts Your Ideal Clients.")

You can use your special report in a variety of ways:

  • As a "bait piece" to generate leads for your freelance business. (I’ll tell you how to do this below.)
  • As a premium for responding to another offer, such as signing up for your newsletter or asking for a quote on a project.
  • As part of the information kit you give to prospective clients.
  • As a goodwill gift to existing clients.

For best results, make it a part of a consistent sales process. For example, using it as a bait piece, you could send prospects a two-page sales letter promoting your special report and telling them how they can get it.

A week later, call to see how they liked it (or offer to send it to them if they failed to respond). A week after that, send an email offering a 10% discount on their first copywriting assignment.

Keep in mind, the reason bait pieces work is that they don't try to sell. Instead, they offer helpful information that's immediately useful to your prospect. So, your focus is on helping your prospect.

Only after you've demonstrated your value should you begin a conversation about your copywriting services. But by then, your prospect has had a chance to get to know you or your work, and he may be interested in talking further.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the third important communication for building a professional image. For now, decide on a problem you can solve for marketers in your niche. And begin planning your special report.

Have you had success using special reports to look like a pro? If so, I'd love to hear what's working for you. You can post your comments below.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: March 13, 2012

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