Upsells: The Secret to Instantly Increasing Your Writing Income Without Adding More Clients

As freelancers, we observe and read about others around us landing great clients — even as newbies. Or, quickly increasing writing income by turning a $2,000 assignment into a $25,000 paycheck.

When you read stories like that, you may wonder if the writer was just at the right place at the right time, or simply had good luck … and how you can find similar success.

Early on, I discovered if I wanted to land more clients, create ongoing working relationships, and expand my writing income, I had to grab opportunity and take full advantage when it presented itself.

I’m going to show you how you can do all this, too.

But first, I’d like to tell you a story that demonstrates how the best companies in the world do this all around you each and every day.

My husband went to Guitar Center to buy a classical guitar. But that’s not all he came home with. He also brought home a special travel guitar case, a guitar stand, and a foot pedal.

Have you ever had an experience like that? Where you went to buy one thing and ended up with additional items you hadn’t thought about purchasing?

Look around and you’ll see examples of what is known as an “upsell” everywhere you turn. Add a camera to your online shopping cart, and immediately a page pops up offering a protection plan that covers parts and labor from accidental damage.

Next, a web page with additional items appears showcasing what else customers bought when they got the same camera. (Extra lenses, a case, and additional filters, for example.)

Amazon is a master of this technique — reporting that 35% of their revenue is from their marketing upsell efforts.

That’s because it’s much easier to sell to existing clients. In fact, according to Marketing Metrics, it’s 50% easier than selling to new clients.

Plus, existing clients convert at 60-70%, compared to new prospects, who only convert at 5-20%.

This means, as a freelancer, the best time to ask for your next assignment is when you’re asked to do the first one.

But, it’s not just about increasing your writing income.

The best businesses offer relevant and valuable upsells that help their clients be happier with their end result. In your case (and this is key), your suggestions should aim to maximize your client’s results.

From your end, in addition to the potential of expanding your income, offering upsells will also help:

  • Position you as the expert. Upsells demonstrate your ability to come up with new ideas. They also reveal that you have a solid understanding of marketing strategy, placing you in a higher position of expertise.
  • Lessen price resistance. There is marketing strategy involved in offering an upsell, which conveys extra value. Your clients will view this as getting more for their money, whether or not they take your marketing upsell suggestions.
  • Give you an edge over your competition. When you go over and above what is asked by offering ideas that will help your clients get better results, you’ll come across as a stronger option than a competitor who offers nothing more than to complete a single assignment.

If your client is happy, it also creates a path for you to make more money, because it leads to more business and referrals for you.

But how do you know the right kind of upsells to offer?

How to Create Upsells That Clients Want and Will Gladly Pay For

Clients often present you with a list of items they need. The problem is often what they think they need and what they actually need are two different things.

Here’s the secret for how to create upsells that most people miss: When a client calls up and says they need an autoresponder series, web pages, or whatever … don’t just take their order.

Instead, prescribe what needs to be done to help them reach their goal with the best possible results.

Simply taking their word for it would be like going to a doctor because your knee is bothering you, telling him you need surgery, and so he takes out his scalpel.

In reality, you’d expect him to examine you thoroughly and prescribe what you need to make the pain go away. Because he’s the expert.

Similarly, clients need you to prescribe an appropriate solution for their problem. Plus, prescribing the right marketing upsells is one way to position YOU as the expert.

For example, a client of mine said they needed a sales letter for a high-end program they were selling. While a sales letter could help increase sales, I examined their sales process and determined they were leaving a lot of money on the table. They were missing a system to attract prospects, assist their salespeople, and follow up to move people to take action.

By prescribing a marketing upsell for what they really needed to increase sales, that assignment turned into creating a lead-generation report, a sales presentation, a better guarantee, and an email follow-up series.

And all the client thought they needed was a sales letter!

Here’s how to implement a marketing upsell process:

  1. Ask what their goal is. Do they want to attract more leads? Convert more leads to buyers? Or increase sales? You need to know precisely what they want to achieve in order to accurately prescribe a solution.
  2. Examine their current process. What system do they currently have to reach their goal? Examine the entire process from where the traffic comes from to how they convert prospects to buyers to how they follow up. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see missed opportunities?
  3. Diagnose and prescribe. What processes or systems could help them achieve better results?

Diagnostic Tools For Making Impressive Recommendations to Your Clients, Every Time

One of the tools I find useful for diagnosis, no matter what your client’s goal, is to create checklists. These help you thoroughly evaluate and consistently deliver great recommendations and marketing upsells. Plus, they help you avoid accidentally overlooking golden opportunities.

4 places you can use checklists to evaluate your client’s needs and increase your writing income are:

  1. Websites. Websites offer one of the greatest areas for improvement, as many companies (even huge ones) are committing dozens of mistakes that cost them tons of leads and income. The checklist I like to use to uncover missed opportunities on websites comes from Pam Foster’s Site Audits Made Simple, which not only includes a detailed checklist, but reveals the most common problems to look for during your diagnosis.
  2. The Marketing Triangle.

    In The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, Dan Kennedy describes his philosophy on what he calls the marketing triangle. He says, “Present the right message to the right market with the right media.” Based on this, the three-part checklist here includes evaluating the message, market, and media.

    First, look at the message to see what’s missing. For example, could you improve results by changing their offer and including bonus reports (that you write for them)? Or, could you create a stronger USP that attracts more of their ideal customers and sets them apart from their competition?

    Next, look at the market. Are they targeting the right people? Are there opportunities to segment their list? Or to create pieces to attract a particular segment, such as a targeted email campaign?

    Third, examine how they’re delivering their message. Are there different types of media that could open up new opportunities? For instance, if their audience is young, social media or an online ad will be more effective than the print ads they might be running.

  3. Traffic. Evaluate where their traffic is coming from and what else could be added to help them attract more buyers. You’ll find a great checklist in Brian Edmondson’s How to Build Email Lists, which gives you 12 ways to drive traffic and build your list … including ideas many smaller businesses aren’t as familiar with, such as banner ads and newsletter ads.
  4. Hot trends. Examine which trends can maximize the impact of your client’s marketing dollars. Some trends currently on my checklist are content marketing (especially in the nonprofit sector), customized social media content and Facebook advertising (especially for businesses marketing to professionals and the Baby Boomer demographic), and video marketing.

Beyond finding and prescribing upsells that address individual problems with things such as sources of traffic, media used, copy or copy strategies, and audience, another opportunity to upsell exists within a client’s marketing funnel strategy. Examine where there are problems in their marketing funnel and you’ll find more opportunities for marketing upsells to prescribe.

A 10-Minute Shortcut for Prescribing Upsells to Marketing Funnels Guaranteed to Get Results

It’s a fine balance when proposing an upsell. Proposing too much can cause overwhelm, and even cost you a client, especially if you propose things that don’t work. So, you want to propose things that will get immediate results.

The best way to do this is to avoid making things up from scratch and model what is already working.

Top-performing companies spend a lot of money testing in order to get the most effective and efficient marketing funnel.

You can find out exactly what they’re doing in about 10 minutes, and then use this as your blueprint following these steps:

Step 1: Look at your niche to see who the top competitors are in your market. Who else is selling what you want to sell, and who is the most successful? If you don’t know, look in ClickBank in their Marketplace. Find the category you want to sell in and look up the top-selling products.

Step 2: Buy the product and write down everything they do. What is their upsell? What is their offer? How is their landing page laid out? What does their copy look like? What are their traffic sources, and so on? Create a blueprint by writing down their exact steps in order, along with details about what and how they offer things.

Step 3: Compare their funnel to your prospective client’s funnel. What components is your client missing? For example, if the model you examined offers a three-pay option and two bonuses, and your prospective client only offers a single-pay option and no bonuses, then you might include an upsell to develop a new offer.

Or, if the model offers two upsells, and your prospect offers no upsells, suggest developing upsells for them.

After examining your client’s marketing, you may discover multiple opportunities for how you might create an upsell. Because you don’t want to overwhelm a client with too many choices, you’ll want to propose upsells which will provide your clients with the most immediate and obvious gain. Upsells which will increase your client’s income are a good place to start.

3 Sure-Fire Strategies That Will Increase Your Client’s Income

Most businesses think, “If I could just find more customers to sell my product or service to, I’ll increase my income.” However, because the easiest person to sell to is someone you’ve sold to in the past, there are a few ideas you can suggest which can increase income from their existing customer base that they might not already be using. Three strategies you can propose as an upsell are to:

Multiply their profit during the sale. If they aren’t offering an upsell, you could suggest they add one (or two) on a landing page. One option is to create a low-priced offer (such as, “Free book, just pay shipping”) immediately after a free gift offer used to generate leads.

Your client doesn’t have a book? No problem! Offer to write it for them … for an additional fee, of course.

An upsell such as this helps identify the most qualified prospects and can even help them speed up the sales cycle by offering another immediate and higher-priced offer after the low-priced offer.

You could also suggest a follow-up email sequence to give their customers a second and third chance to take the upsell.

Help them keep more money. Another way to increase your client’s profits is to cut down their refunds. One of the best ways to do this is to create a “stick” campaign. A stick campaign reminds the customer why they purchased the product by reselling the benefits immediately after the customer purchases it.

So, another upsell you can offer is to create a campaign with a stick letter and email series. The letter resells the benefits and is packaged with the product. The email autoresponder campaign gives tips that help people use the product or service. (You can find an example in Jay White’s Email Copy Made Easy.)

Create fast cash. One of the easiest and instantly impressive ways to increase a client’s revenue is to create a “lost customer campaign.”

“Lost customers” are people who have purchased in the past but haven’t bought anything from the company in a while. Since it’s at least five times more expensive to attract new customers than it is to market to previous customers, and since many businesses neglect this group who are already sold on their product or service … this is usually a great recommendation that can create an instant surge of cash for your client.

To create a “lost customer campaign,” write an email sequence or a combination of postcards and emails that drive previous customers to a landing page incentivizing them to come back and use their products or services again.

Now you know how to increase your writing income by confidently prescribing marketing upsells that demonstrate your value by revealing missed opportunities that are efficient, effective, and impressive.

So, will you start offering upsells? Did you have a favorite method of prescribing? I’d love to hear your feedback and am happy to answer any questions you may have, too. Leave a comment below.

One final thought …

While some will automatically take your upsell, not everyone will. That’s okay, though. Because even when a client doesn’t take your offer, a well-prescribed marketing upsell positions you as an expert that brings more value to the table … especially when competing against someone who does nothing more than take orders.

So, prescribe with confidence. When you do, you’ll close more sales, increase your writing income, build better relationships with clients, and will soon have a roster of long-term, happy customers who not only hire you again and again but also refer you to other clients.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: April 1, 2015

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