No Experience? No Prospects? No Problem: How I Snared a $6,000 Client My First Week as a Freelance Copywriter …

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I hear it all the time from my copywriting coaching students …

"But Jay, I don't have any writing experience to speak of yet. Who's going to hire me?"

Legitimate question — and one I'm sure we all struggled with when just starting out …

However, there IS a way you can completely bypass the whole "experience" barrier and start getting clients quickly.

How do I know? Because that's the way I did it. Let me explain …

Back in January of 2006, I officially launched my career as freelance direct-response copywriter. I gave up a good job to spread my wings and go out on my own, and I was basically starting over from scratch.

Which means I had ZERO presence, ZERO prospects, and ZERO knowledge on how to get either.

So that first Monday, I did what many of us have done — walked around my house with my head in my hands thinking, "Am I COMPLETELY insane?"

(Sound familiar? I'll bet there's a lot of nodding heads out there.)

But on Tuesday, I had an epiphany of sorts …

I put together a list of 11 targeted prospects and sent all of them the same basic message, only changing the name of the recipient. These went out at 9:00 a.m. that morning.

By noon, I had already received THREE responses to my inquiries — an unheard of rate (27%) for this type of marketing, especially in just three hours.

One of those prospects was especially interested. And by Friday of that week, I had secured my first freelance gig for $6,000.

That job led to more and more work. And over the next few months, I made around $25,000 just from this first client.

Not a bad start, eh?

So, let's review:

Monday — clueless and lost

Tuesday — idea and implementation

Wednesday/Thursday — back and forth with potential client

Friday — A gig worth $6,000

And that all happened to a guy who had ZERO experience as a freelance copywriter.

So how did I do it? Easy …

Instead of focusing on what I DIDN'T have, I focused on what I DID.

You see, I had a more in-depth knowledge of this niche than most copywriters, and I knew I could knock it out of the park pretty quickly if given the chance.

So, I crafted my marketing message to focus on my NICHE experience — not my WRITING experience — and the prospects came out of the woodwork to talk with me.

Truth is, most clients could care less about how much you've written or who you've written for or any of that stuff …

What they REALLY want is someone who knows their market inside and out … a writer who can talk to their prospects and customers in a way they can instantly understand and respond by taking action right NOW.

Your prospects don't want to have to train you in their business — they just want to hand you a pile of projects (the same pile they've been staring at for weeks, wishing somebody would take it off their desk) and say, "HERE — now who do I make the check out to?"

See how this works?

So, before you start marketing yourself, think about targeting those niches where you can leverage one (or more) of these three things:

#1. More KNOWLEDGE Than Other Copywriters

Look, we all know more about some things than other people, right?

So, think about that for a moment — what little tidbits can you mention in water cooler conversation that make people say, "Really? I had no idea!" These could be potential niches for you.

Were you once a circus clown? Did you travel around the world on a sailboat? Or climb Everest? These are things that make a potential client perk up.

And before you say, "Yeah, right Jay — who's going to hire me based on anything quirky like that?" Consider this …

I currently have a student who once skated in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. And guess who's she writing for now? Yep — the Olympic Channel.

She scoffed when I suggested targeting that niche. But sometimes, that's where you find the hidden gold mines.

#2. More EXPERIENCE Than Other Copywriters

This crosses over a bit with knowledge, but think about your current or past job experience and how you can leverage that …

What industry was it in? Did you manage people? Was there technology involved? A special skill set? All these are things you can leverage to catch the eye of a potential client in those same niches …

And before you tell me how you want to get away from that "old world" and do something new, remember — you don't HAVE to do it forever.

You can just take a few easy gigs to get going and build some momentum, then you can let those clients slide away while you focus on what you really want to write about.

That's what I did in the beginning stages. I didn't want to make a career in that first niche. But I knew I could get hired a lot faster there.

So, I did the whole "grin and bear it" thing for a few months to pay the bills while I marketed myself in other areas. And when those new clients started coming my way, I let the first one go and never looked back.

#3. More PASSION Than Other Copywriters

Here's a place that can be both fun AND lucrative …

Think about those things you're really passionate about. Maybe it's a hobby. Or a side interest. Or even a political or religious affiliation. Something you've always enjoyed doing or being a part of, but never really thought about as a niche choice.

For example, years ago I was really into golf. So I figured, "Why not see if I can find work there?" I made some inquiries and landed a gig with one of the top golf marketers online.

And right out of the gate I was BLOWING them away with my copy. Why? Not because I was more talented or experienced. But because I was passionate about the game and knew the golfer inside and out. And that translated easily into my copy.

In fact, it wasn't long before I secured a HUGE retainer with this client that lasted for several years. And the best part? In the mornings, I would write about golf. Then in the afternoon, I'd grab my sticks and go play 18.

Talk about the copywriter's lifestyle!

So you see, getting clients when you have no writing experience doesn't have to be a struggle …

All you have to do is leverage what you already have instead of worrying about what you don't. And when you make this simple marketing mindset tweak, don't be surprised if your copywriting career takes off like a rocket!

You ready to jump on board? Let me know how I can help you get going by posting a comment below.

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Published: December 5, 2017

8 Responses to “No Experience? No Prospects? No Problem: How I Snared a $6,000 Client My First Week as a Freelance Copywriter...”

  1. Hi Jay..thank you for those thoughts..I'm working through your insightful Email Copy it! I've worked in the travel/tourism industry (Norwegian Cruise Line) and considered that as a start..YET I LOVE ballroom dancing..was a student with Arthur Murray studio..competed in Las Vegas! confused about that being a viable beginning..please..some thoughts? thanks Joan

    Guest (Joan Rothstein)

  2. Getting that first client by making use of ones expertise, knowledge and personal experience makes total sense and makes this first big step much more doable- Figuring out what useful knowledge, experience and expertise one has is much harder if one has never been a professional anything. This is where I'm having trouble.

    Guest (Joanne Lefferson)

  3. Jay-I was so excited to read your article, because my lack of any type of work/career experience has been a major block in choosing a niche. I was terribly disappointed when it turned out that your lack of experience was as a copywriter, not in terms of a career. Isn't there anyone at AWAI that can come up with some advice on choosing a niche that DOESN'T start with some version of "what is your work experience"? I can't use what I don't have!

    Guest (Karen)

  4. My problem is too many choices - mostly out of date. My IQ is 160 so I try things, excel at them, then move on.

    eg. I used to do photography darkroom work, research assistant in nutrition, electronic design, computer programmer, dog training, desktop publishing and creating websites and writing articles for the websites.

    The only thing that isn't out of date is alternative health - I'm familiar with the language, because I read about it each day. But I don't have any health qualifications.


  5. This is exactly what I needed to know! Your article confirms that I'm headed in the right direction...thanks for sharing this important piece of information with future successful freelance writing entrepreneurs!

    Guest (Muriel )


    Hi Jay:

    What an interesting disclosure of how you got started in email writing. Three (3) things you stated stood out to me.

    1) You had triple zero experience in presence, prospects, and knowledge.
    2)Focus on what you have versus what you don't have.
    3)There was an unexpected five day turn-around with first client.
    Super, duper, verbiage and a great motivational tool.
    While no two experiences are the same, I'm just challenged enough to see if my experience will begin to line up with yours on this particular genre of email writing.
    Expect my comment(s)...later.


    Guest (Linda)

  7. This is awesome. I used to do medical transcription. Maybe that could be a niche for me. If not, I certainly get the idea. Thanks for sharing.

    Simone Hardy

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