The Dilemma New Copywriters Face
Bobby's dad drove him to his first Little League ball game.
All the way to the ballpark, Bobby sat quietly in the back seat of the station wagon. His gaze was split between looking out the window and staring at the floor.
The closer they got to the field, the more restless he became.
Dad parked the car and walked around to open the door. He knew what was going on in Bobby's mind.
Smiling, he asked, "What's on your mind, son?"
"Dad, after all the practices I've been to, what if Coach doesn't put me in the game? What if I sit on the bench the whole time? I'd feel like a fool."
He peered down at the ground, kicking the loose dirt dejectedly.
"Son, is that all it is?
Bobby looked tearfully up at his father. "No, Dad. There's something else."
Taking a deep, quivering breath, he confessed, "What if he does let me play, and I'm not good enough? What then?"
Acknowledge your fears and move on
Bobby's experience totally matches my early days as a freelance writer.
One minute I was worried that I'd never get hired to write. The next … I was worried about what would happen if I did.
If I never got hired, I would never realize my dream of the writer's life. But if I did, I might fall flat on my face. My dream would go up in smoke again!
What a dilemma!
But after finding the solution, my fears began to dissipate, and the awareness that I could be a successful freelance writer became real.
Once I accepted the reality and worked to make it happen, clients did start finding me. I did write successfully for them. And one more thing happened that really boosted my confidence.
Clients began referring to me as a professional.
That's going to be the thrust of the rest of this article. We'll look at getting found, and then getting good.
The reality is that both of these scenarios are fixable. Let's start with the first one — getting found.
Two forms of self-marketing
Getting found by prospective clients requires that they know you exist. You need to market yourself as a copywriter. No way around that.
There are two forms of marketing for anything that is sold or offered:
- Inbound or passive marketing means that the prospect or buyer comes to you.
- Outbound or active marketing is when you reach out to them.
Both have advantages and disadvantages. But one thing they have in common is that they're more effective if you have selected a niche or target market. Finding a niche is something many new writers struggle with in the beginning.
But targeting your efforts to a focused market improves your results.
Inbound marketing takes time and effort
Two major components of inbound marketing are your website and a LinkedIn profile. Because you're not connecting directly with your prospects, they have to find you. That said, if you consistently send out the right signals, they will find you. Let's look at these two methods of inbound marketing.
Your copywriter website
Your website is more than just an online business card. It is:
- Your online base of operations.
- Your online portfolio (with or without samples).
- Your online means of connecting (contact form, phone number, email address, etc.).
- Your way of getting found online by being indexed and ranked by the search engines. Indexing means the search engine has found your site and read it. Ranking is the "weight" or value it places on your site as compared to other, similar websites.
Your site must be written well since it may be the first impression prospects get about your writing. And we all know that first impressions count. The website must engage and speak to your readers for you.
As mentioned, SEO is writing your content and copy for the search engines. I use a different acronym for writing your site effectively for readers: REO.
REO stands for Reader Engagement Optimization. There is really no plug-in for good, compelling, and engaging copy. It's all up to you.
But for SEO, there are many plug-ins available for a WordPress website.
I recommend using WordPress for your website platform, with an SEO (search engine optimization) plug-in to alert the search engines that you exist. I prefer the Yoast SEO plugin. The free version works great, and it's easy to set up.
Adding blog articles to your website shows the search engines that you not only exist, but that you're alive and active.
Your LinkedIn Profile
A LinkedIn profile is like a miniature, one-page website. Much of the information from your website can be used on the profile. And some of the information is really easier to add and display on LinkedIn.
A website is an island in a vast ocean. A profile is an island in a large lake. Since LinkedIn is a platform that's targeted toward business, it's sometimes easier to "catch a fish."
It's important to use both effectively
In both a website and a LinkedIn profile, you get better results with the premium options. For a website, that means paid hosting (the price varies with the web hosting company).
A LinkedIn premium package gives you more information and better contacting options. For a freelancer, I recommend the Business Plus package. This is based on the information given by several LinkedIn coaches and professionals I follow.
While working with inbound marketing strategies is less scary, it's also more time consuming and slower than outbound marketing. But you do need to have your business online.
If you want to move faster, read on.
Outbound marketing is fast
You still need a website and/or LinkedIn profile. Prospective clients will want to see one. It adds credibility.
But developing a list of prospects and contacting them gets the word out faster. And here again, there are two way to do this.
- You can gather your list by searching the Internet and offline resources and developing your own custom list. However, this can take a lot of time.
- You can buy a list from a qualified list broker. This may cost several hundred dollars. But you'll get a vetted, qualified list of prospects.
Either one will work. And both will work better if you have a niche to target. What it boils down to is whether you want to save money creating your own list or spend money on a good list and save time.
The question is: How much time do you want to spend before making money?
But, now for the second problem.
"What if they DO contact me about my services?"
Learn your craft
The more you know about something, the more comfortable you feel doing it.
Professional copywriting is no different. Invest in good training materials. The programs at American Writers & Artists Institute are excellent. I'm a Circle of Success member there. And I've spent good money on programs designed to teach me the craft.
Subscribe to sites like this one, B2B Writing Success.
Understand that you definitely need to make an investment in your training. But, let me tell you this. You can get someone else to fund your training. I'm serious. Here's how I did it.
I paid for my first two or three programs out of pocket. Then I used what I learned to get some paying clients.
From that point on, the clients paid for my training. And my website hosting and LinkedIn fees. Learn all you can and apply it, and your business eventually will start paying your expenses. Just don't fall into the "professional student" trap. Take action.
And best of all, when a potential client calls … you'll know exactly what to do next.
Here's to your success!
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
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