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First Steps To Finding Customers

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by Gavin77, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. #1
    Hello,

    I'm fairly new to copywriting, and am in the process of establishing myself in the field and bringing in my first clients.

    So far, my plan is to order some business cards, put up my website, and then start handing my cards out to the businesses that I visit while doing everyday things, and also maybe do some in-person cold calling to various businesses I consider to be good prospects. Because I lack a portfolio, I plan to maybe offer Pro-Bono services to well known names to build up my resume.
    SEMrush
    Is this the main way you find clients, or do most of you here find clients through the internet alone? I may be a bit in the dark about some of this, but I would like to know some of the best ways to bring in business in the early stages.

    Thanks guys for any input about this
     
    Gavin77, Jan 12, 2015 IP
    SEMrush
  2. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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  3. WLEadmin

    WLEadmin Active Member

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    #3
    Sounds like a plan to me!

    The only thing I would change in your offline approach would be the portfolio. Just because you haven't written stuff for clients, there's no reason to do without - write some content for imaginary products or for random goods, then post that as your portfolio. Pro bono works as well, of course, but it'll take time to find those clients and a gap-filler will help.
     
    WLEadmin, Jan 13, 2015 IP
  4. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #4
    If you want to focus on copywriting, you're your own best client, at least in the beginning. Your freelance business needs copy written. You might create:
    • Marketing copy for your website
    • Sales pages for specific services
    • Copy for a client-focused newsletter
    • Conversion-centered blog posts
    • White papers
    • Case studies (though after you've landed a few clients)
    • News releases
    • etc.
    If you can make your own copy convert, you'll land clients. Start there before trying mock pieces, though that's an option if you have nothing else. Better yet, create a product of your own, write all the marketing copy, track conversions, and use it for a case study. Bonus -- you'll make some "passive" revenue in the process as the product sells. Just keep it focused on your target client base.

    You can always contact local nonprofits. I'm not a fan of free work, but it has a place (just not with people who would normally be paying you). Think in terms of volunteering or donations. If you'd happily support an organization in those ways, consider pitching a free project to them. But don't do that kind of work using your billable hours. Use the time you've allocated for marketing and PR, but what you're doing is ultimately PR work. Make sure the "client" is okay with you promoting the project, such as issuing a press release if there's any news value. It's about PR for your business and some volunteer assistance for the organization. Just note that you can't release a press release that speaks to a partnership of any kind without the other party's permission. So make sure you cover that up front. And always get a testimonial.
     
    jhmattern, Jan 13, 2015 IP
  5. Louise Findley

    Louise Findley Peon

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    #5
    I would also take a look at http://www.peopleperhour.com/
     
    Louise Findley, Jan 15, 2015 IP
  6. SCookAAM

    SCookAAM Active Member

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    #6
    Some very good suggestions, here.

    I do think that free work is ok - in your situation. That is to say - you do it for free but don't advertise that you did it for free. You only need to do this once or twice, and then charge.

    if something has value, it should be paid for.

    Also, don't be afraid to check out sites like ODesk - you can begin to market yourself for nothing, and even get a few low-paying starter jobs to create your portfolio.

    There is a process to those sites, but if you work them, they'll wsork for you.

    However, the big money - the best money - is doing exactly what you're doing. Get out there and hussle. You'll be amazed at how open people are to a writer. Just gotto a boatshow and talk to the dealers - take it from me :)

    Good luck
     
    SCookAAM, Jan 15, 2015 IP
  7. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #7
    Don't mean to challenge you, but I personally WOULDN'T recommend that site or rather any such freelance job boards where buyers are mostly looking for cheap labor at laughably low prices. Not saying all such sites are so but it's very rarely that you find good-paying work there. (Sorry, I tend to get a bit started when this topic comes up.;)) Odesk, as far as my experience goes, is much better than the others and you might wanna give it a shot. Anyway, such types of jobs do have a place esp. when you need to make a quick buck for buying a ticket to that evening movie you're excited about or when some bills are to be paid off urgently and you're falling short of funds or when you need to sustain your cash flow when a couple of checks bounce unexpectedly or some anticipated payments abruptly get delayed. Additionally, you can cut your teeth on such gigs before landing a high-profile copywriting assignment.

    Contact clients and website owners directly, search for and check into websites that need some really well-written content regularly, throw your own blog/website, spread the word through social media, connect with people from the industry you intend to specialize in …. blah blah blah. A lot has already been discussed on the threads I pointed out in my previous post here. Wondering where and how to find that lucrative market? :rolleyes: Take a look here – https://forums.digitalpoint.com/thr...-online-market-for-freelance-writers.2738323/. Maybe it'll help.
    From what I've learned so far, 'THE BEST WRITING JOBS ARE NEVER/SELDOM ADVERTISED'. Some clients don't even know their portal needs new content whomped up! You need to follow up with them and remind them about it from time to time. You can even search for something in your local market. Some businesses need an occasional touch up on their copy while others need their advertising material revamped. Heck, there are many ways to go about it! You need to be proactive and seek them rather than waiting for somebody to come at your door and knock!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    Content Maestro, Jan 15, 2015 IP
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  8. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #8
    The problem is that it usually isn't the writer who advertises that they did the work for free. What sometimes happens is that the "client" you did free work for will refer you elsewhere. But if they're referring you to people they know well, they sometimes mention to the other prospect that you wrote for them for free. And it sets lower expectations and makes some prospects think they can push down your rates. It lowers the value of your work in their eyes before they ever directly speak with you. So if you go this route, at the very least protect yourself with a contract clause that doesn't allow things like rates to be discussed with third parties. Not ideal, but it's better than finding yourself in a position where low-paying or non-paying work leads to more of the same.
     
    jhmattern, Jan 15, 2015 IP
  9. Louise Findley

    Louise Findley Peon

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    #9
    Thank you Content Maestro, I'm a newbie trying to help another i will gladly take on board your advice ☺
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
    Louise Findley, Jan 15, 2015 IP
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  10. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #10
    I think it's better to charge very low instead of not charging at all. And make it very clear at the same time that the low price is only an introductory offer valid for a limited time. So, when a client you worked for refers you to another one, the other person knows that your low rate is no longer applicable and the value of your work won't diminish in their eyes. Getting caught in a seemingly endless labyrinth of low-paying work is very frustrating indeed!
    I'm not sure how right or “ethical” the approach I specified above would be with non-profit or charitable institutions, social welfare establishments etc., but when these types of organizations refer you to a prospect, the prospect quite understands that your free or low-charged work was specific ONLY to the purpose of welfare/charity and doesn't bargain to bring the price down.
    Anyway, to me, a signed contract seems the best way out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    Content Maestro, Jan 15, 2015 IP
  11. Melisa455

    Melisa455 Active Member

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    #11
    Making a website is a good way to start prospecting.
    You can showcase your work on your website.
    If you have already done some writing for your client, you can get some testimonials from them and put on your website.
    *Do not upload the articles that you have sell on your website. - Articles that are sold does not belong to yours anymore.

    Printing namecards, cold calls, door to door prospecting is consider offline marketing. And you will have much more response by doing that.
    You can also use online as a mean to broadcast your services. Example the use of facebook, twitter etc. Or you can contact business owner via email etc.
     
    Melisa455, Jan 26, 2015 IP
  12. Gavin77

    Gavin77 Greenhorn

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    #12
    Thank you all so much for the responses, I am learning more and more about the process everyday.

    I also have a question about adding a client to your client list. If you provide copy for a lower ranking manager at a big company, can you put that company on your client list? For example, if you wrote some copy for a local bank manager at Chase, could you say that Chase is one of your clients? Just so long as the copy is directly for the business, would this be acceptable?

    I think it would be very helpful to have a few reputable names in your portfolio in the beginning to attract further clients.
     
    Gavin77, Jan 27, 2015 IP
  13. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #13
    I think there's no problem in going ahead and including Chase in your clients' list. The copy you're writing is for Chase and not for the (local) manager. A copy is something a company uses as the first point of contact with its prospects and this is the point where they create a first impression. A lot of how the potential business kicks off depends on how well-written a copy is (or lack thereof). So, I think it will be reviewed not only by the company's local branch manager, but also by members in the company's hierarchy at a higher position. All in all, what I mean to say is a larger part of the company is involved in and concerned with the copy than just the manager handling a local account. Your copy embraces this larger part and so I would second including Chase in your clients' list.
     
    Content Maestro, Jan 27, 2015 IP
  14. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #14
    Was the manager authorized by the company to hire you? Were you paid by Chase, or by the manager personally? If Chase, the company, paid you, then of course you can mention them as a client (well, as long as you haven't signed a strict nondisclosure agreement / NDA that forbids you talking about the project). On the other hand, I'd suggest being careful. If you were simply hired by a local branch, it's important that that's clear in any marketing material where you mention it (Chase Bank, Your City). If you make it sound like the larger corporation hired you for something on their national or international level when that's not true, you could run into trouble down the line.
     
    jhmattern, Jan 28, 2015 IP
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  15. Gavin77

    Gavin77 Greenhorn

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    #15
    Thank you Content Maestro and Jhmattern, very good points. I was speaking with a manager who is interested in having a lot of material created and re-written which will be used for training and various other things within the company. I will not be writing as a personal project for him alone outside of his company. The material seems to be more more internal use, and will be paid for by the branch's budget. I am still in the early stages and have to push for the work to be done, because it may not be an urgency for their business at the moment.

    Also, as copywriters, what are the most important legal actions to take in establishing yourself as a sole-proprietor? I am filing for my DBA within my county, and will pay taxes quarterly (hoping that I make money to even pay taxes on!). For a copywriter, is being registered as a business and paying your taxes the main concerns, or are there other things that need to be done such as having writers insurance? I am based out of Texas, and know that this might differ from state to state. I have read so much online that it gets confusing and I don't know exactly what to needs to be done.
     
    Gavin77, Jan 30, 2015 IP
  16. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #16
    As the laws and legal procedures involved in setting up any business differ for every state and country, your best bet would be to consult a reputable attorney from your area. I googled and came across a lot of pages that detail the stepwise process of setting up a copywriting business, but I'm not sure how much of it will be applicable for you. >:\ %)
    Yes, the more you cram yourself with information from different sources, the more confused you'll be.:) Maybe some authentic material bought from a law book store will help you more instead of searching the internet.

    Anyway, just my 2c. Hope it helps.
     
    Content Maestro, Jan 31, 2015 IP
  17. Rado_ch

    Rado_ch Well-Known Member

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    #17
    While logical I wouldn't be so quick in including this sweet addition to your portfolio. I have a couple of friends who were working for a local developer company in my country. It was a well-organized business so in time they started attracting lucrative clients. I know for a fact that at least 75% of them have a clause or preference their name not to be shared publicly, either as a client or a partner. Big companies can be a little sensitive about outsourcing parts of their work and may not want this to be known.

    My advice would be to speak with the manager in Chase and directly ask him if you can add them as a client. You can explain how valuable that would be for you and your future business and you may even throw them some kind of a discount for the favor on their side. ;)
     
    Rado_ch, Jan 31, 2015 IP
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  18. KylieSweet

    KylieSweet Well-Known Member

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    #18
    I think these questions will contribute on finding customers.

    Who is the real target users/audience?
    Where can we find them?
    How the content will use for the business goals?
     
    KylieSweet, Feb 4, 2015 IP
  19. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #19
    Actually, these questions pertain more to the content that will be composed rather than finding clientele.
    This exactly is the question that's asked, just in other words.

    I don't see how these questions will help to find customers. Can you explain please?
    Thanks.
     
    Content Maestro, Feb 4, 2015 IP
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  20. Jake The Competition Man

    Jake The Competition Man Active Member

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    #20
    yeah, I know that many companies don't like at all to see their stuff showcased in writers homepages. In theory they could also sue you if they are so picky. The best way before doing anything is ASK. Always ask, ask anything you've got in mind. So you are sure of your next steps.