5 Days to Your First Client:
How to Pull Projects Out of Thin Air …

Jay White here, back with you for Day 2 of The Writer’s Life. All this week, we’re talking about getting a client in only five days …

Yesterday we touched on the Reactive Method of Marketing, and how you can leverage existing copywriter-wanted ads to get work.

But today, I want to talk to you about my favorite method of getting copywriting clients—the Proactive Marketing Method …

With the Proactive Method, you’re not answering ads from businesses that already need a copywriter. You’re taking the initiative and contacting potential clients on your own, and asking for their business.

This is direct sales 101, a giant leap forward from the door-to-door, pounding-the-pavement days, but with many of the same elements still intact. Because, we’re not doing this PHYSICALLY—we’re doing it VIRTUALLY.

And, it goes something like this …

You put together a short email that basically says, “This is who I am, this is what I do, this is what makes me different from other copywriters, and this is how to contact me.” That’s it. That’s all you need.

But, you don’t blast this out to the entire internet landscape. No, we’ll leave that to the Nigerian millionaires who are trying to send us money.

You send your email out to carefully chosen potential clients who would be most likely to hire because you’ve positioned yourself as the one-and-only choice for their copywriting needs.

So, how do you do that? Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you target the lowest-hanging fruit …

  1. Where do I have an extensive amount of experience that most other copywriters wouldn’t have?
  2. Where do I have an extensive amount of knowledge that most other copywriters wouldn’t have?
  3. Where do I have an extensive amount of passion that most other copywriters wouldn’t have?

What you’re doing here is leveraging what you already know and targeting those niches where this experience/knowledge/passion would make you the no-brainer choice for copywriting.

And, here’s the best part—you can use this method successfully, even as a rank beginner. Because experience/knowledge/passion in the niche will most likely get you hired—no matter how much copy experience you have.

For example, let’s say you and I walk into the office of a business owner who specializes in woodworking, and we both want to write for him …

So, he turns to me and says, “Tell me about what you’ve done, Jay.”

And I regale him about multi-million-dollar launches and highly successful training products and coaching students and blah, blah, blah.

To which he replies, “Impressive. So, how much do you know about woodworking?”

I scrunch my brow and say, “Well … I built a birdhouse once in shop class. Of course, I forgot to put a hole in it. And it fell apart before I got home.”

Then he turns to you and says, “Now, how about you?”

And your reply is, “Well, I may not be as experienced in copywriting as Jay. But, I’ve been working with wood since I was a kid. I grew up helping in my Dad’s workshop and I’ve built several pieces of furniture for friends and family. I love the smell, feel, and texture of wood. And I’m very familiar with the tools and language of the trade.”

So, what do YOU think would happen? RIGHT! They’d shuttle me out the door faster than you can say “two-by-four” and sit you down to discuss rates and availability. And, not because of your stellar copywriting skills. It’s because of your extensive knowledge of the niche!

You can see my point. The client doesn’t have to train you in their products or services. You won’t have to research the mindset of their prospect or customer. They won’t have to babysit you with all your projects. The client can simply hand you a copywriting gig and know with 100% certainty that it’s going to come back ready-to-market.

And THAT, my friends, is what a client really wants. No muss, no fuss. Just take it off my hands and get it done for me.

See how that works?

So, think about those three questions and start jotting down some niches you’d be a great fit for. And, if you have any questions or comments, make sure you post them.

Tomorrow, we’ll start writing the email you’re going to send.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: November 11, 2014

17 Responses to “5 Days to Your First Client: How to Pull Projects Out of Thin Air…”

  1. Superb post!

    Clean. Clear. Concise. Powerful.

    Now I have a fuller understanding of why experience in a given niche is vastly superior and more valuable to clients than copywriting skills. The trick is to strike the right balance between the two, and to make sure your clients - and the audiences they serve - benefit from both.

    Well done, Jay!


  2. Thanks Jay, your TWL articles are some of the most useful, even for someone who's been at this a while. Are auto responders still going strong?

    Pat McCord

  3. Knowledge and Experience have always been my challenge. With a patchwork of experiences, I don't feel knowledgable at all. I have a lot of good "common sense" in areas, but there is no true "depth" to my experience. Perhaps you have suggestions for quickly building that experience and knowledge base? Thanks!

    Guest (Liesa Malik)

  4. I have many interests and several expertises, most of them in non-lucrative areas.I've tried to develop as a niche that/those I know most about, but it just evaporates.This letter, suggesting focus on experience, knowledge, and passion. Still not narrow enough! Anyone else have this problem? How do you resolve it?


  5. when you spoke of finding clients proactively...how do we do that?
    o.k...find a niche you have experience with...then what?

    Guest (jeff)

  6. Thanks Jay. Very insightful piece. I can't wait to learn how to write the email tomorrow. Thanks again. Meanwhile, I'm a budding writer from Nigeria who takes no pleasure either in the trade of the "Nigerian millionaires who are trying to send us money" or any such aspersion that puts all Nigerians in that category.

    Guest (Gbenga)

  7. I spent 2 years in car sales. Over the time I was there the company introduced a CRM system which also had fairly average autoresponder feature. Average, because NO ONE knew how to use it properly. I remember thinking that if set up correctly this system could change the bottom dollar for the dealership quickly and with very little effort. Jay, you think I could be onto something here?

    Max Latimer

  8. Great article Jay. You helped to define what a copywriting niche is and how to find one that's right for you. Very helpful. ... Also loved your story about the birdhouse. I took wood shop in high school and absolutely sucked at it! So I can relate.

    Guest (Jeff Soufal)

  9. @Liesa Malik - It seems to me that "common sense" is a skill in high demand. To be able to write with a commonsense point of view should, in my opinion, be an asset. Perhaps even a niche. Technical manuals, instruction sheets, instructions of all kinds--most of these are garbage and could benefit from someone who offers a big dose of common sense.

    Guest (Christi Cassidy)

  10. Jay, that info was great,& I have to ask if My personal experience in customer service, & client retention would be a desired asset. that's what I know most about. Looking forward to more class time, thanks very much.

    Guest (Roger)

  11. Hi Jay, that was a great article. I am working my way through the accelerated program and absolutely love it. The only thing I am still stuck on is "how" do I find clients to send emails to in one of my niches? I google searched, but that was an epic fail. Any advice? Thank you!

    James S

  12. Hi Jay:
    Would that include having a passion/knowledge/ niche in mental health?
    Or sharks?
    Or the ocean?


  13. It sounds to me that it all comes down to "niche", knowledge and passion. You sprinkle in some copy writing techniques into a couple of "fine tuned" emails that are targeted at your "carefully selected" clients and then you let bake. Your client will either take the bait and you'll be real'em him in and be in business! Actually SEEING THE MONEY! Either that or you'll just have a burnt mess.
    Great work Jay! You may not have the answer's to everyone's questions but, you got them all thinking!

    Guest (The Missy)

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