My 10 Biggest Mistakes In 10 Years Of Freelance Copywriting (Guest Post by Jason Strachan)
The following is a guest post from Jason Strachan. You may know him as the “Copywriting Prince”. You can find out more info about Jason at: http://www.the-copywriting-prince.com
If you’re new to the freelance copywriting game you’ll get a lot of value from this. Benefit from my f**k ups and you’ll be happy (and probably richer too!)
1: NOT BUILDING ASSETS –
If you’re not currently building your list, or creating your own product. Start today. Do something NOW the 10 years older you, will thank you for.
2. THINKING CLIENTS ARE YOUR FRIENDS.
They’re not. They just want you for what you can do them. And don’t really give a s**t about you. Find comfort in the discomfort. Be “friendly”… polite… courteous…. with your clients of course, but understand there is a ‘line’ and respect it.
3. NOT USING CONTRACTS.
If I was ever paid all the royalties I was due from copy I’ve written over the years, I’d be a millionaire. Nuff said, eh?
4. NEVER GUARANTEE SPECIFIC RESULTS.
As copywriters you SHOULD be confident about your ability to get something to convert.
You should be certain about your skills. That’s not the issue.
The issue is… in a successful marketing promotion the most important factor is…
‘The Traffic Source’ Not your copy. Doesn’t matter how good it is.
I once had a client hire me, and this well known traffic expert to build a funnel.
I created the copy. And it was good. The client hired a traffic expert…
And results were dismal. Who got 100% of the blame? You guessed it. Me, the copywriter. Even though I told him the targeting was way off! Does it make sense? No. Is it fair? No. But that’s the way it is.
5. NOT READING – KEY PERSON ON INFLUENCE by Daniel Priestly –
I’ve toyed around with specializing in multiple niches over the years. All with the idea of considering where the money was… The first niche, I considered was specializing in Why Women Buy * the actual domain name was why-women-buy.com Stupid.
Of course some men CAN write for women subjects. But I’m not one of those guys. I’ve since settled into men’s dating. Which is really just ‘self improvement’ for men. Which is cool, because it means I get paid to research stuff I enjoy reading about anyway.
6. NOT ADVERTISING. Yes, I know how stupid this sounds. But its more common than you think.
In fact, most top copywriters don’t advertise themselves or other products.
But you SHOULD. (even if you don’t need to!)
Here’s why… First of all, its good practice.
You get to test your copy with your own money, and get LIVE feedback. Which is the greatest copywriting teacher of all in my opinion. Secondly. it will force you to have to overcome and understand all the other metrics that goes into a marketing campaign. It was only when my own funnel was up at the end of last year did I fully begin to take note of the CPL — CPS – ACV etc.
I knew the terms before. But not so much.
What’s more… By promoting copywriting tools… Or your own gardening tips product etc.
You’ll open up new revenue streams.
7. BUYING INTO SELF HELP ‘ ABUNDANCE’ BULLS**T.
I used to be a big self help reader. And I realized this first hand, when clients I’d work with who were supposed to be of the “abundance mentality” Started ripping me off.
Claude Hopkins said it best: “Marketing is like warfare without the venom”
Its’ NOT abundant. There is a limited amount of money out there and you are competing for it.
Have you ever noticed that the people who preach abundance are always the ones trying to sell you something? That’s reality. And its a wonderful thing. You need to build your own fortress.
Take your biggest success stories in any niche. And publish a book… report… white paper…
Something of REAL quality you can build your fortress around.
Make THAT your thing. Own it. A hard copy book is best, I don’t know why. Nothing says authority more. Publish articles on it. Set up Facebook groups on it. Becoming the MAN or THE WOMAN for that ‘thing. Remember…
As Dan Kennedy always explained.. (I read this ages ago, but still failed to heed.)
“Start Narrow, Then Expand.”
You can start off as an expert copywriter for the Forex Niche or what have you. And once you’ve done that… You can EASILY take that credibility and expand OUT into other niches in the financial word. Like ETF’s… spread betting.. Precious metals etc etc.
8. NOT CHARGING WHAT YOU’RE WORTH…
When you’re starting out… and you’ve got no track record you’ll go through the ‘cheap whore’ phrase. That’s normal. But once you’ve built up a track record. Once you’ve achieved good results for clients. Raise your fees accordingly. For 3 years, I charged £3k for a sales letter. Despite increasing my skills constantly. Despite investing in more courses… mentoring etc and offering more value. Silly. Then, I learned there were people charging £25k. If my work converts just as well as there’s why the heck should I charge less? So, I charged the same.
I just wished I did it earlier. And forget about your hourly fees. Look at the VALUE you can create for clients… If its a sales letter you’re writing… enquire as to how much traffic will be sent to the page, ask about the source of the traffic? Is it cold leads (strangers?) Or is it people who know like and trust you who will be more predisposed to buying?
Ask about what type of conversion rates would they expect? Let’s say they say a conservative 2% response to their own list. If you achieve that… how much money will they make? And how many mailings could they do in 12 months? Ask about the long term customer value?
Create a complete picture of the VALUE you’re giving. Explore every angle they will profit from.
total it all up… Show it to the client in a perfectly logical way and charge a small percentage of that.
Obviously, the bigger the client, the better the relationship they have with their list… the better conversions will be.
9. NOT BUILDING TESTIMONIALS & REFERRALS INTO YOUR T&C’s!
Here’s the thing you’re never told…
Let’s say you charge $8k for a project with a client. And you do a stellar job. You make the client a boatload of new cash. Do you think that clients wants to see you progress and move on?
NO. Reality is, its NOT in that clients best interest to promote you to the world.
And again, this leads into Mistake 3 “why clients can’t be your friends’
In fact, if you’ve done a good job for them, at a good price… then the LAST THING they want is for you to become super business and double your rates. This is why very often, it can be extremely difficult to get a client to give you a testimonials. I’ve done million dollar launches for clients – and been threatened with ‘cease and desist’ letters for talking about it. These things do happen unfortunately. Which is why I recommend before you even BEGIN work on any projects you explain to the client upfront that after the successful completion of this project…
You would like a testimonial… and 3 referrals of people who may be interested
in your services.
OPTIONAL: You could also reward the client with a 10% of the project fee for any successful referrals. That way, once you deliver the copy, run the copy and hopefully got some great results
You can rightfully draw your clients attention back to your initial agreement re: your testimonials and referrals. Some still might not even give you one. But most people are decent and will.
10. WHEN THINGS ARE GOOD ACT LIKE THINGS ARE BAD,
WHEN ITS BAD, AT LIKE THINGS ARE GOOD.
In your freelance journey you’ll go through lots of good times and bad times. In the good times, when you’re swimming in cash… It feels like the gravy trains gonna go on forever…
(It won’t!) This is the time when you want to act like everything gonna be taken away from you… ACT SCARED. Concentrate on using your resources to build a fortress. To gain a huge foothold in your market.
When things are bad…Like when you’re just starting out and struggling to get your first client. Or … when you’ve been going a few years… and the client you were working for who was paying you great money decides to close his business or stops hiring you for any reason…DON’T PANIC.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive. Especially when you’ve got bills to pay and the wolves are at the door… but if you panic, you may spiral into desperation it will only make things worse. Bad times are like quicksand. The more you struggle, the deeper you sink. My advice? Add more pleasure to in bad times. Take 60 minutes pleasure breaks during the day — even 10 minutes can be enough.
To just go for a coffee. Listen to music. Mow the grass. Talk to your girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, wife, husband.. Or, if you’re single… go to talk to other attract single people for awhile…
CLEAR YOUR MIND. Go swimming… get a massage…Shit, Go buy yourself a really good burger!
(I know that might sound silly, but that a five guys burger, helped bring me through some very tough times!) When you act like things are good… (even when they’re bad) strange things happen. When you’re out swimming… or out eating that 5 guys burger, you’ll get ideas on how to improve your situation. I don’t know why this works, but it just does.
Heed these mistakes… and I wish you the best success in your copywriting career!