How to Leverage Work You Do Outside Your Niche to Build Credibility
Can you relate to this?
You’ve picked a niche industry and have a specialized skill set that makes you the obvious and best choice for your targeted work in this area.
You’re ready, willing, and able to make a big impact. You’ve set a big-picture goal for your business, and you’ve got a strategy and tactics to get you there. But it’s taking longer than you hoped to actually break into the industry and get clients.
Meanwhile, you still need to put food on the table and pay your bills. And while prospects in your target niche aren’t lining up to hire you, other people are!
You don’t want to deviate from pursuing your goal, but you need some income.
What do you do?
If you’re like most copywriters I know, you take the work and are thankful for it.
That’s OK … as long as you can leverage that work to make it move you forward toward your goals.
So how do you do THAT?
First, before you say, “Yes!” to that new project, ask yourself these three questions:
Is it similar work to what I would do for my ideal client? For example, writing a technical white paper for a dental software company isn’t at all like writing email copy to engage a winery’s club members. It would take a lot of time and energy to research this topic and learn the lingo, so I would refer the dental project to another copywriter I know.
However, managing a social media campaign for the release of a new book does flex some of the same copywriting muscles as social media for wineries. So I could accept this assignment and leverage the experience when marketing myself within my niche.
Does this client face similar challenges as my ideal client? For this example, let’s look at how AWAI is similar to my ideal wine industry client. AWAI offers a membership and provides valuable content to retain those members. Sounds similar to a winery and its wine club members to me!
I can leverage the work I do for AWAI by showing how it relates to member retention, which is a big challenge for many of my ideal clients. This in turn builds my credibility as a web copy specialist and social media expert with skills that are valuable to the wine industry.
Is this an opportunity to try something new that I could offer my ideal clients? Perhaps I’ve never written a media kit before, but someone asks me to do it. Would this be something that I can learn and then offer to write for a winery? Absolutely!
I can leverage this new skill within my niche. So I would accept the job … and then run straight to AWAI to download Secrets of Becoming a Publicist by Melanie Rembrandt!
Now, why should you care about this leverage stuff anyway?
Because if you can make every bit of work you do matter – and make it move you closer to your goals – you’ll reach those goals more quickly.
So here’s the second part of the equation:
When you accept and successfully complete work outside of your niche, you must be able to show how your skills and experience benefit your ideal client. If he can’t see that correlation, he simply won’t care about any of these projects that you’ve done for others.
What may seem obvious to us copywriters – if I can write a successful autoresponder series for AWAI, I certainly have the skills to write effective AR copy for wineries – needs to be spelled out.
Where do you spell it out?
Testimonials. Samples. Case studies …
After you complete your project, ask your client for a testimonial. But be sure to guide her in the direction you need her to go.
For example, if you’ve done some autoresponders that were effective in getting a high click-through rate for a client – and if you know that this is a particular challenge for clients within your niche – you can mention that this is what you’d like the testimonial to focus on.
Most clients don’t know what to say and will appreciate the guidance. (Remember, they hired you – a copywriter – for a reason!) You could even offer to write something as an “example” for them to use as a template.
You’re asking for the testimonial in order to leverage your work and build credibility for yourself, so it needs to be focused on issues important to your niche market.
Samples can be powerful credibility builders, but you need to show the correlation if your sample is work done in an unrelated industry.
When you provide the sample, be sure to include a brief description of the project’s scope, purpose, and results. Show how this sample illustrates your expertise with projects that you will do for clients in your niche.
Connect all the dots for your prospects. Doing so will build more credibility than if you leave it all to their imaginations.
A third tactic for building your credibility with “outside” work is to tell your story in a case study.
Treat yourself like a client, and write a case study about the job you did for someone. (Brush up on this by reading Ed Gandia’s Writing Case Studies if you need to.)
We copywriters know all about the power of using stories. Harness that power for yourself by using your own case study to market yourself within your niche.
Building your credibility positions you to be the best choice for your ideal clients. Isn’t that what we all want?
When you can leverage similar work done for clients that face the same challenges as your ideal clients – and when you can build your credibility through testimonials, samples, and case studies of that work – you’ll move yourself forward to achieving your goals at an accelerated rate.
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