The Secret of the Double Pipeline

Bob Bly here on our last day together this week.

So far this week, I’ve shared my experience regarding what it takes to make it as a freelancer in 2015, how to compete with pros as well as newbies, and what I feel should always be front and center as you work with your clients … always delivering your very best work.

Today, I’ll give you some tips for keeping the client pipeline full.

In marketing, a pipeline is the number of potential new clients who have expressed some level of interest in hiring you for a copywriting assignment.

The mistake most copywriters make is to do only enough marketing and promotion to fill the pipeline. So, if the expected number of deals close, they’ll have enough work to keep them busy.

I tell copywriters to double up on their marketing. That is, to do enough promotion so they generate twice as many leads as they need for their pipeline to stay full.


Because, when you have just enough projects offered you to generate your target income, you essentially have to take on every job and client who comes your way.

That means you can’t pick and choose. You take on the job whether it’s a great fit for you or not. Or, whether you like the client or not. Or, whether the terms – fee and deadline – are favorable to you.

The result? You end up doing a lot of work you don’t enjoy for people whom you don’t like. And, who wants that?

When you double up on your marketing, you fill your lead pipeline with twice as many opportunities as your schedule allows you to handle.

As a result, you can pick and choose the jobs you take and the clients you work for.

You work only on projects and for clients that are an ideal fit for you. That way, you’ll have greater job satisfaction and happiness.

I hope we can continue the conversation from this week in person at Bootcamp in October.

In my Thursday night presentation, I’ll share a few of my favorite go-to strategies for getting copywriting clients and filling your lead pipeline to overflowing.

One of them, which I’ve been using since 1982, is to generate inquiries by offering a free special report or other content relevant to the prospect’s marketing needs.

For instance, to attract manufacturers and other industrial clients, I offered a free special report, “Industrial Copy That Sells,” which you can download at no cost here.

Free reports and other how-to content you give away to generate inquiries from potential copywriting clients in your niche are called lead magnets or bait pieces, and the strategy of offering them is known as content marketing.

Back in 1982, my #1 marketing channel for getting new copywriting clients was direct mail. The format was simple: a 1-page letter in a #10 envelope with a reply card.

My first mailing to a list of ad agency creative directors back then pulled a 7% response and $39,000 in assignments.

I still do one or two small mailings every year, not because I want or need the leads but to confirm that direct mail still works for marketing copywriting services. And it does. Recently I sent a letter to 88 newsletter publishers (one of my markets) and got a 6% return, all responding with the reply card.

Search engine optimization (SEO) can also help keep your marketing pipeline filled. Optimize your web site for your niche (e.g., agricultural copywriter) and put a prominent call to action (CTA) on your home page. Take a look at the yellow box in the top right corner of my website as an example.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for success this week. Let’s keep the conversation going by posting a comment or question here.

About the Author:

Bob Bly has been a copywriter for 36 years, is the author of 85 published books, has a BS in chemical engineering, and writes both B2B and consumer direct response. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s Top Copywriter.”

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Published: August 28, 2015

8 Responses to “The Secret of the Double Pipeline”

  1. You have offered some fantastic practical advice here. I am waiting for the instructions to take advantage of the free down load. I think it will be extremely helpful.

    Guest (Amy )

  2. It seems obvious, but I've never heard anybody articulate the idea of the "double pipeline."

    Thanks for the reminder, Bob, and thanks for everything you do for copywriters.

    Steve Roller

  3. Bob, I appreciate your taking time to write the daily articles in "The Writer's Life" this week. I have bought "The Copywriter's Handbook" and "Secrets of a Freelance Writer". I cannot afford to attend Bootcamp this year, but I hope to meet you face-to-face sometime.
    Michael Kerr

    Michael Kerr

  4. What would one put in a one-page letter to sell oneself as a copywriter? Is the reply card stamped/postage paid?

    Mel Woods

  5. Great articles, enjoyed following them all week. Like your website too, its clear and simple at first glance.


  6. Is it possible to get a look at your prospecting letter and reply card? I have what I think is a good letter, but am open to suggestions on how to improve it, and would really like to see what your reply card looks like.

    Thank you for the great info this week. It's been helpful as I embark on this career.

    I've sent out two prospecting emails today, got very polite "no's" from both, with a promise (also from both) to contact me if things change. The great thing is, I got 100% response!

    What (and when) would you suggest for follow up with these polite rejections?


  7. Like an hourglass: two vessels. Or a grain of wheat? Save for what's sown whence much fruit is borne, it longs as just a single grain. The trick therefore, is in but the squinch of the hourglass insofar as that which eagerly aligns eternity's returns is hope's to better stay each and every new lead. Sustaining a perpetual now, if you will. Or even if you don't lest otherwise jinxed. And the hourglass, mindfully by turn, dumbbell-like, duly bookending prosperity's handle.

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  8. I'm a published poet. Due to circumstances, I stopped writing for 6 years. Was rein spired by contemporary music. I live & breath writing. I want to expand my wings & go into even more areas of writing, such as creative magazine journalism. Now, I'm looking into copy writing. Your site is VERY helpful in filling in the blanks, so one mighty big thank you!!!

    Guest (Carol Vevle)

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