Living the Writer's Life: Dan Magill
Veteran Freelancer Shares 5 Tips for New Writers Struggling to Find Clients
It’s been seven years since we last checked in with Barefoot Writer Dan Magill. Since then, he’s been building his career and working on SEO blogs, fundraising campaigns, and sales pages. Because of his writer’s life, Dan was recently able to keep his 2-year-old son home from day care to enjoy extra family time before his wife started a new job. He also traveled to Nepal in 2017 to see a finished project he helped promote. You’ll love Dan’s five tips for new writers who are struggling to find clients.
How has your writing business evolved since 2015?
Quite a lot. Back then I was still getting going and learning not just how to get clients, but how to “do” this stuff — the difference between getting trained and being in the real world.
Today, I have a strong level of confidence about what I’m good at, my ability to deliver, how long projects take, and the quality of my work compared with others.
I have a real writing business making a good income, and I’m serving clients from a great variety of industries, and I am their No. 1 writer. I have mostly repeat clients, which is great, because I can count on a steady stream of monthly income — as long as I keep delivering for them.
What kind of writing do you do most these days?
I write a lot of SEO blog content for a variety of industries such as wealth management, internet marketing, front door marketing, and solar energy. I’ve written several hundred blogs now, and I’ve been able to continually increase my prices over the years.
I’ve also had the pleasure of writing some really long e-books and guides, some pushing 100 pages, to help companies at various points in their sales funnels, and I’ve done a number of sales pages, landing pages, online course pages, and general website content.
I still work with several nonprofits, too, writing fundraising emails as well as newsletters. I’ve developed my own Giving Tuesday email package, which I have marketed with decent success, and it comes with a money-back guarantee because it has worked so well. I’ve also written some direct mail.
What’s one of your favorite projects you’ve worked with?
I wrote a long-form sales page for a training course that was charging about $1,000 per sign-up. I wrote the page for about $4K. And they got about 75 sign-ups just in the first round. That client is a great client. My second favorite would probably be my top-performing Giving Tuesday campaign, which raised over $30,000 in one day. They were thrilled.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for a writer who is struggling to find clients?
When you pick a niche, you can go all in to become an expert. I wrote a book so I could position myself as an expert in fundraising for small and midsize shops. Then, I got a speaking spot at a local conference. I got four clients from that, and one of them has led to two others that I am still working with three years later.
Second, get involved in groups. I got into Magnetic Marketing, and I go to one of their local chapters. I learn a ton there, but I have also gotten a couple of great clients.
Third, I have used Upwork with pretty good success. I have some recurring clients that have paid me tens of thousands of dollars that came from there. The key is to price yourself high enough to weed out the bad clients and attract the ones who are willing to pay for quality work.
Fourth, once you get a client, go all in for them, especially early in your career. Experience and happy clients matter more than maximizing your paycheck the first couple of years.
Last, never stop learning. The more you learn, the better your writing will be, and the faster you will be able to produce it.
What inspires you these days?
I suppose what drives me, more than inspires, is the continual push to grow passive income. I am launching a new service niche in restaurant email marketing … my novel inspires me, as it’s my first creative writing in years … and my wife and I started a second business renting birth tubs to women who want to give birth at home.
Dan's Living The Writer's Life story was originally published in Barefoot Writer. To learn more about how you can start living your dream writer's life too, click here.
What help do you need to move forward with your version of the writer’s life? Let us know in the comments below so we can help guide you in the right direction.
I have been writing a lot since my school days on assorted topics, basically for my pleasure and of those who liked reading them. I won a few prizes from magazines which were meagre in terms of amount, but gave me inspiration and a sense of achievement. The thought of paid writing never crossed my mind. Now, I feel I should have done that when I see the amounts to be paid as fees for joining a certain course!