The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

NOTABLE! 6-Figures In 12 Months Copywriting. Quit Job. Here's How I Did It:

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
I stumbled back on the Forum from some late night reading. Figured I could share my story. Even if it helps just one person.

In no way am I some 'hot shot millionaire.' Not even close. But, this past year has been life-changing, and could help you.

If you look at my profile, I haven't been on this forum for a couple years.

You can browse through at past threads and failures I've tried (I put them on my Linkedin as well). I don't hide them. Because failures make you who you are.

I'm not a manufacturer, a designer, an engineer, coder, or even an average handyman.

I discovered, from my failures, I love writing sales copy and I'm good at it (goal: be the best).

[You can only connect the dots looking back...]

Growing up, I always wanted to be an accountant...yuck...Kids in middle school laughed at me when I told them.

I imagined looking sleek in an expensive suit, pulling up in my Mercedes to a Fortune 500 office. Then, walking into my CFO office...the slowlane reeking through my white shirt.

Well, there was I problem...

I found out I sucked at accounting.

My last job, working in a CPA firm in Dallas, my boss subtly mentioned multiple times it wasn't right for me. The first time was after I took "too much initiative." The firm was planning on spending 5-figures on a new Wordpress site.

Outraged... I went home. Next, I pulled up ThemeForest, and spent the weekend creating a great, new site for just $50 with sub-par design skills.

Monday rolled around and I got an angry call due to potential "SEC" violations that could happen as I had made the site live [didn't even know there was an 'on' button].

That incident pushed me into finding more about myself and what I loved. After many more failures, I found my love of copywriting.

Slow burn of getting clients:

There's two routes you can go as a copywriter:

1. Make your own products and promote (think Clickbank)
2. Or, pick up clients one-by-one

I picked door #2.

Worst mistake I made starting: I was a 'general' copywriter. I reached out to local businesses, any company I thought interesting...etc. I made crummy YouTube videos for each prospect telling thing what their ads are doing wrong.

Another tactic: I'd go through their site and make suggestions on things they could do to increase conversions. Great value, right?

Terrible idea. Giving away the milk is dumb. Not good salesmanship. Learned that the hard way with lots of wasted time.

Moving along...

I managed to pick up a few clients from cold outreach. Not much. A few thousand bucks here and there.

During that time, my wife and I had a child, and were wanting to move across the country back near my family in Georgia. My wife stays at home so it's my job to bring home the cake.

After squirreling away $15,000 in savings from client work, I sat down with my wife. We picked a date...Feb 1, 2016...for me to quit my accounting job and do copywriting full-time.

Mind you --- $15,000 is around 3-4 months of living expenses with health insurance, student loans, car payment, a baby etc.

Still...I had toyed with entrepreneurship for years. I heard the older you get, the less risk you take. Plus, I saw the Steve Harvey video about the "Jump" and I knew it was time to fly or die.

----------------

Before I go on...you might think: "Freelance writing is not fastlane!"

If we're getting down-to-earth technical...sure, it's not.

If I stopped writing tomorrow [minus commissions from promotions] I'd make $0.

But, I feel this step in my life (at the age of 29) is not the last step in terms of my entrepreneurship ventures.

On my goals list (I read everyday)...I include other income streams I'm working towards:
  • Option trading
  • Speculative stock trading
  • Real estate investing/flipping
  • Helping my wife open a bakery (she's an incredible baker)
  • Screenwriting (I believe we're entering a new 'golden age' of TV...more and more networks need great scripts. Screenwriting is my budding hobby when I'm not copywriting for work...interesting life I lead...)
It's just the start. I'm enjoying the journey and getting to work when + where I want.

What I've always struggled with: Not being gracious for this moment and what I have.
It's a typical American mindset. Never having enough.

I know some on here aren't spiritual/religious, but I find having a relationship with God helps my relationship with my wife and daughter.
-------------

Anyway...

Back to juicy parts.

For the first few months of self-employment, you feel weird. Suddenly, you don't have a boss breathing down your neck. You don't have to pretend to like your cube-mates.

And...most of all...

You don't have to sit in freakin' traffic 2 hours/day. Geez, what a time suck. Great time to catch up on podcasts, but that's it.

Being self-employed frees you from that.

But, you get new worries.
  • What if we go broke?
  • What if I really suck at this?
  • What if we have to move in with my parents? My wife would probably leave me.
You're ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE THESE QUESTIONS. There is never a perfect time to quit your job and start working for yourself.

It's like having a baby. You can plan until the cows come home. At some point, you just gotta bite the bullet.

One of my first days, I was paralyzed. Laying on our bed, heart pounding, looking up at the ceiling. My wife walks in and asks, "What are you doing? "

With short breath, I admit, "I don't know what I'm doing...I can't do this..." A moment of self-pity. It happens. We talked. Long-story-short, I pulled up my boots and kept going.

For months, we slid by. I had a few projects here and there. Reaching out cold to companies (hundreds) and getting little back. Still being a generalist.

Then, I had an epiphany.

I hated accounting. But, I loved finance. Stock markets, Motley Fool, all that jazz...it's fun for me to read and watch. Money makes the world go around. Understand money, you understand what's going on in the world.

"I'll write copy for financial companies" I claimed.

Great, right?

I figured: 'Financial advisors need more clients all the time. I'll write for them! Have a zillion clients! Bwhaha!'

Well, I talked with over 50 FAs on the phone. Zero wanted to hire me! A few even said "Yes, send over the contract." We had agreed on the price and everything. Contract sent.

Never heard from them again.

What I found: FAs are: Conservative, money-tight, understand ZERO about marketing or its importance, and have probably been burned before.

Okay. Panicking again with a failed niche...

I reached out to a random gold company with a $2 bill attached to a direct mail letter. It worked!

This gold company needed copy to opt-in for an ebook for their gold IRAs. Suddenly, a whole new door opened. Because that company introduced me to financial publishers.

You know them: Agora, Stansberry...etc.

They need copy ALL THE TIME...and they pay well for it + commissions.

Before some of you start with the hate: "Oh, those financial publishers are all scammers. They say you can get rich, rich, rich. BS!"

I'm not going to touch on this much.

Yes, some financial publications are iffy. Some Agora copy makes some bold claims. But, Agora is a 9-figure business...and has been for awhile. They do have some unhappy campers...but, many aren't.

I've seen behind-the-curtain of many publisher products, and many are very good. Especially if you don't know much about investing or have the time to do all the research.

Yes, some analysts' products pick wrong stocks more often than not. Every industry has their good & bad companies.

I digress....

The point to take from this:
Find an area that already pays for what you offer!!!

I wasted months and months trying to "educate then sell..." It's a tough hill to climb my friend.
If someone doesn't already understand why they should eat organic over pizza...it's a much tougher sell than someone who already buys organic!

Find someone already buying what you want. Then comes the real moneymaker...

The beauty of a 'niche'

Sure, having a niche means you know more about the industry than others blah blah.

But, the real riches is something else...let me tell you...

When you work in a niche, you can leverage one client into all the others!

If you say: "I worked with Toyota..." going up to Nissan is a much, much easier sell. Because they know you speak the language. You already understand the industry.

Today, I work with mostly financial publications. Picked up a few other clients in other industries from referrals. But, mostly just target fin pubs.

In the last 12 months:
  • Made over 6-figures just in copywriting fees (not commissions)
  • Written 6-figure promotions
  • Used my healthy fees to invest in our old house before selling it. Saw a 300% return on the investment [wouldn't make enough at the J.O.B. to do this]
  • Moved to GA, bought my wife her dream house
  • On track to make 6-figures again this year working from home at my own pace
Main Lessons:
  • Accept where you are now. Put a little effort each day. I wake up excited on Mondays to work. I stay up late excited to work. Do I stress about failing still? Yes. Duh.
  • Failing is always, always, always part of the process. Every time. 100% of the time.
  • Try to leverage clients into each other. Much easier sale.
  • Sell to people already buying what you sell. Once you get that running...then, broaden
  • I started off worrying "This isn't fastlane." But, I'm building up my capital into more passive streams in the future. I'm accepting where I am now and taking strides to get where I'm going
  • You will always think you're going to fail. There will never be an absolute best time to start a new venture/work for yourself. You just have to trust yourself, God, the universe. As humans, it's funny. If you're ambitious and driven enough, you figure shit out. You just do. Yes, hard times will come. But, we're survivors. We figure out how to survive.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Argue

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 1, 2016
646
2,352
555
28
NYC
One word: amazing!

Q: if you don't mind, how did you get good at copy? Did you take an online course or read several books?

Thank you for posting this! :thumbsup:
 

lowtek

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Oct 3, 2015
1,595
5,100
1,280
37
Phoenix, AZ
Love it. Great work.

After you get your process worked out, perhaps think about creating a productized service around your copywriting process. Check out the book "Built to Sell" to get the basic concept.
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
One word: amazing!

Q: if you don't mind, how did you get good at copy? Did you take an online course or read several books?

Thank you for posting this! :thumbsup:

In terms of writing long copy for clients...it was all 'trial by fire.'

I've been fired from multiple long copy projects when I first started because I was still learning. They looked at my first draft...said 'meh, not going to work out...' and fired me.

You just get used to it...get better...

It's very cutthroat. That's the truth when you start writing copy for companies doing millions of dollars. I wish I could say you can perfect your craft on cheap Upwork gigs, but I feel you will learn faster when the stakes are higher. But, that's just me.


Exact steps for writing copy...that could take forever.
I wrote a post on Quora I'll put here: https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-learn-copywriting

--------------------
QUORA POST:
First.

You have to love to write. You'll be writing over and over. You'll be editing. Clients will look at a piece you spent 5 hours and in 2 minutes will put red lines through it.

You'll feel like a failure, but that's what you deal with when you get into the "creative" world. Everyone has an opinion.

As Don Draper says in one of my favorite interactions talking about copywriting and its process, "People think monkeys can do this"

Does Sex Sell? (youtube)



When talking about writing copy, "They can't do what we do, and they hate us for it."

Point is? You need thick skin because what you do will get changed by everyone from the CFO to the janitor. Be ready to stand behind your work. Writing can be one of the most vulnerable things you do.

How do I become a Master?

Read and learn from the best:

Read: Gary Halbert, John Carlton, David Ogilvy's books, Joseph Sugarman's book, Bob Bly has a great (long) book on all the tactics of copywriting.

It doesn't stop there. Keep going.

Reading a book is only 5% of it. Look at ads you see in magazines, newspapers, on TV. Is what is written interesting and making me want to act?

Open your junk mail (yes all those Time Warner Cable bulk mails sent out) and read their copy.

Typically, it's horrible. Alot of *flash* and *huzzah* without any substance. The reason for all this?

You see what others are doing and what NOT to do (and what you should be doing).

That's another 10% (notice we're only at 15%).

If you don't absolutely love reading copy others do to learn from it, you're not going to enjoy this profession. Gary Halbert typically tore out ads he thought were great and kept them in a "Swipe" file. Every time he wrote copy, he pulled them all out for inspiration.

Pick up a Pen

For every new piece of copy, start with a brain dump. Look at the product or service, describe the benefits, what does a customer feel when using it, WHY should they buy it.

A secret?

Write down every reason a customer will say "NO" and then in your writing, subtly, answer those questions.

This is the brain dump process. You aren't editing. All ideas are "good" at this point.

Next...

Step away. You need time for your brain to organize thoughts. Go read, go walk, go play, go have sex. Anything but thinking about what's written. It's called the Incubation period.

What you'll find is you'll be taking a shower, walking, having sex, then EUREKA, an idea will hit that will connect different ideas together.

You'll jump out of shower (or the bed) and go and write some more. Here you are still not editing yourself, but developing your flow.

Write your Headline

This is the most important piece. Have you ever caught yourself flipping through a magazine and realize you've skipped most of it?

Sure. Want to know the reason?

Because the headlines didn't GRAB you. They didn't reach out of the page and catch your attention to tell your brain "Hey, this is interesting."

You'll have this same issue unless you develop a grabbing headline. Here's 38 headline ideas/templates: Professional copywriter and marketing communications expert.

EDIT

The last step in the process is to edit down everything. Take out words. Replace words with ones that have deeper emotion.

Trim the fat. Read everything out loud and hear how it sounds. Normally, you'll find the awkward phrases, the weird sounding words etc.

Mastering?

You become a Master when you understand how to do all this over and over and over and perfecting it over and over.

Soon, your writing gets better. Ideas come faster. Your hourly rate goes soaring.

Mastering is simply taking something (much like a shooting movement in basketball) and repeating it until you know how to do it very well.

  1. Mindset. Know you will Fail
  2. Must love writing (and editing)
  3. Read from the greats. Read copy you see all around you (paper mail, company emails, tv and radio ads. etc.)
  4. Start with brain dumps of every idea in your head. Stretch your mind. Soon more ideas will come all the time.
  5. Incubate all the time (looks like you aren't working, but your brain is. Endure the taunting comments from the non-creatives)
  6. Put Eureka idea in action. Make each sentence compelling enough they want to read the next one.
  7. Create a headline that catches (but doesn't lie)
  8. Learn to edit yourself (I still struggle with this), but edit edit. It's tough to read your own writing. Everything sounds like crap at first. As you get better, you'll feel more confident.
Enjoy it

--------------------------------------------
 

Argue

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 1, 2016
646
2,352
555
28
NYC
In terms of writing long copy for clients...it was all 'trial by fire.'

I've been fired from multiple long copy projects when I first started because I was still learning. They looked at my first draft...said 'meh, not going to work out...' and fired me.

You just get used to it...get better...

It's very cutthroat. That's the truth when you start writing copy for companies doing millions of dollars. I wish I could say you can perfect your craft on cheap Upwork gigs, but I feel you will learn faster when the stakes are higher. But, that's just me.


Exact steps for writing copy...that could take forever.
I wrote a post on Quora I'll put here: https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-learn-copywriting

--------------------
QUORA POST:
First.

You have to love to write. You'll be writing over and over. You'll be editing. Clients will look at a piece you spent 5 hours and in 2 minutes will put red lines through it.

You'll feel like a failure, but that's what you deal with when you get into the "creative" world. Everyone has an opinion.

As Don Draper says in one of my favorite interactions talking about copywriting and its process, "People think monkeys can do this"

Does Sex Sell? (youtube)



When talking about writing copy, "They can't do what we do, and they hate us for it."

Point is? You need thick skin because what you do will get changed by everyone from the CFO to the janitor. Be ready to stand behind your work. Writing can be one of the most vulnerable things you do.

How do I become a Master?

Read and learn from the best:

Read: Gary Halbert, John Carlton, David Ogilvy's books, Joseph Sugarman's book, Bob Bly has a great (long) book on all the tactics of copywriting.

It doesn't stop there. Keep going.

Reading a book is only 5% of it. Look at ads you see in magazines, newspapers, on TV. Is what is written interesting and making me want to act?

Open your junk mail (yes all those Time Warner Cable bulk mails sent out) and read their copy.

Typically, it's horrible. Alot of *flash* and *huzzah* without any substance. The reason for all this?

You see what others are doing and what NOT to do (and what you should be doing).

That's another 10% (notice we're only at 15%).

If you don't absolutely love reading copy others do to learn from it, you're not going to enjoy this profession. Gary Halbert typically tore out ads he thought were great and kept them in a "Swipe" file. Every time he wrote copy, he pulled them all out for inspiration.

Pick up a Pen

For every new piece of copy, start with a brain dump. Look at the product or service, describe the benefits, what does a customer feel when using it, WHY should they buy it.

A secret?

Write down every reason a customer will say "NO" and then in your writing, subtly, answer those questions.

This is the brain dump process. You aren't editing. All ideas are "good" at this point.

Next...

Step away. You need time for your brain to organize thoughts. Go read, go walk, go play, go have sex. Anything but thinking about what's written. It's called the Incubation period.

What you'll find is you'll be taking a shower, walking, having sex, then EUREKA, an idea will hit that will connect different ideas together.

You'll jump out of shower (or the bed) and go and write some more. Here you are still not editing yourself, but developing your flow.

Write your Headline

This is the most important piece. Have you ever caught yourself flipping through a magazine and realize you've skipped most of it?

Sure. Want to know the reason?

Because the headlines didn't GRAB you. They didn't reach out of the page and catch your attention to tell your brain "Hey, this is interesting."

You'll have this same issue unless you develop a grabbing headline. Here's 38 headline ideas/templates: Professional copywriter and marketing communications expert.

EDIT

The last step in the process is to edit down everything. Take out words. Replace words with ones that have deeper emotion.

Trim the fat. Read everything out loud and hear how it sounds. Normally, you'll find the awkward phrases, the weird sounding words etc.

Mastering?

You become a Master when you understand how to do all this over and over and over and perfecting it over and over.

Soon, your writing gets better. Ideas come faster. Your hourly rate goes soaring.

Mastering is simply taking something (much like a shooting movement in basketball) and repeating it until you know how to do it very well.

  1. Mindset. Know you will Fail
  2. Must love writing (and editing)
  3. Read from the greats. Read copy you see all around you (paper mail, company emails, tv and radio ads. etc.)
  4. Start with brain dumps of every idea in your head. Stretch your mind. Soon more ideas will come all the time.
  5. Incubate all the time (looks like you aren't working, but your brain is. Endure the taunting comments from the non-creatives)
  6. Put Eureka idea in action. Make each sentence compelling enough they want to read the next one.
  7. Create a headline that catches (but doesn't lie)
  8. Learn to edit yourself (I still struggle with this), but edit edit. It's tough to read your own writing. Everything sounds like crap at first. As you get better, you'll feel more confident.
Enjoy it

--------------------------------------------
This is excellent. Thank you for taking the time to provide the forum with this insight!

P.S. two pics are not working.

 

Argue

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 1, 2016
646
2,352
555
28
NYC
It's just a thumbnail of the YouTube video. nothing important
Oh I see. Gotcha. All in all, I can't thank you enough. The next few weeks will be busy because I'm going to be learning copy, trying to understand this magical thing called copywriting. :thumbsup:
 

SquatchMan

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 27, 2016
453
1,651
468
Nowhere
It's very cutthroat. That's the truth when you start writing copy for companies doing millions of dollars. I wish I could say you can perfect your craft on cheap Upwork gigs, but I feel you will learn faster when the stakes are higher. But, that's just me.
Love this part. This is what it's about right here.

On top of bidding on huge jobs. You also quit your job, moved across the country, have two mouths to feed, and only three months of living expenses.

The stakes can't be any higher.

You either rise to the occasion... or stick your hand out and ask the government for a handout.
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
Love it. Great work.

After you get your process worked out, perhaps think about creating a productized service around your copywriting process. Check out the book "Built to Sell" to get the basic concept.
Yeah, I've been thinking of some info product to sell..

At the same time, I have the limiting belief I don't have enough 'know-how' yet to deliver a truly good product.

Non-fluff stuff, ya know?

Might be a few more years before that happens.

Too many subpar info products out there from non-experts. I think the landscape will change in the next 5 years..it will be fun to watch.

Sent from my SM-G928V using Tapatalk
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
Love this part. This is what it's about right here.

On top of bidding on huge jobs. You also quit your job, moved across the country, have two mouths to feed, and only three months of living expenses.

The stakes can't be any higher.

You either rise to the occasion... or stick your hand out and ask the government for a handout.
If you've done any sort of self-development, when you get thrown into the lion's den, you find a way out.

Fight or flight.

To many people choose flight and wait for someone to bail them out (big banks included). What you also find is you figure out how to live on what you have.

The old adage about your expenses inflating with your income is 100% true. If you're looking to work for yourself, your best start is to learn how to live on much less.

Trust me. You won't be any "less" happy.

And then, yes, make the stakes big. I mentioned my new hobby is learning how to screenwrite. A big thing you learn about any successful show (drama more than sitcom) is this...

The stakes must be high or the show sucks.

Breaking Bad: Walt is surviving by committing felonies.
Sopranos: Tony needs to keep his family while being head of a large organized crime ring. LOST: Will they get off the island or succomb to its dangers?

Humans will do things they never thought they could when the stakes are high. If you start Plan A with Plans B,C,D,E in place as well...the stakes are too low. You give up wayyyyy faster.

Learned from experience.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
BIG IDEAS & HOW TO GET THEM: PART I.

I've had some peeps reach out and ask about copywriting. @SinisterLex has plenty of posts about the 'how-tos' of writing copy. Some of which I'll probably re-hash at some point. But, he's laid out a GOLD thread on how to get going copywriting.

I'm breaking this into two parts just because my initial post was pretty lengthy. It's easier to digest smaller posts.

When it comes to writing any sort of interesting copy, it all comes down to a BIG IDEA.

If you're looking for a truckload of clients... come at them with BIG IDEAS and you'll nab some clients even if you've never written a lick.
If you're looking to sell your products, a BIG IDEA for copy or a video could be the differentiator.

I'll show you how in just a minute...

First, let's look at the MF.
MJ's BIG IDEA was presenting 'how to be an entrepreneur and make money' (in a very general sense) as being in the Fastlane, Slowlane or Sidewalk.

Because, think about it...

How many different ways can you sell a car or a bar of soap? Car? Car battery? At some point, you need to present an idea in a freakin' different way. It'll be the only way to resonate and get through to the ever-ADD consumers.

HOW NOT TO BIG IDEAS:

Here's the common way people think they have good ideas --- Sit and think. "The more I think about it, the more ideas I'll have."

After an hour of bad ideas, you give up and call yourself 'not creative enough.' Another common antidote: take a shower, go for a walk, have sex...

I admit, walking around, showering and sex have brought on some good ideas, but not consciously. I talked a bit about that above, but I'll rehash in a second.

Most of your bad ideas will come from sitting around and shouting Eureka! They're going to be found in a very different way.
Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. But from someone who must come up with BIG IDEAS regularly for copy purposes, I'll share with you my process.
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
BIG IDEAS & HOW TO GET THEM: PART II

HOW TO HAVE BIG IDEAS:

The secret to BIG IDEAS on a regular basis. Ones you can write eye-catching copy about. Ones to boost your commerce business or sell that sputtering listing...

Research.

Yes, as non-creative as it sounds. Actually, it sounds pretty boring. Research...sitting in front of Google, reading a book, talking to experts...that's where your BIG IDEAS come from. The 'creative' aspect comes from taking a BIG IDEA and growing it into a compelling sales piece.

Wanna know the most famous big idea in advertising ever?




This was written by ad legend David Ogilvy. Ogilvy went through over 30 ideas that were rejected before coming up with this headline. Guess where Mr. Ogilvy came up with this idea?

He didn't. It's one of the biggest lies in the industry.

Ogilvy found this line in one of the manuals for the car. Actually, a mechanic made up this quote. Ogilvy was reading the car manual as part of his research, and BAM BAM!

The "Genius" comes from Ogilvy yanking this line out of a boring manual. After which, he created a compelling, informative ad that drastically increased Rolls Royce sales.

How do I do research?

There's no playbook for coming up with BIG IDEAS. But, here's how you can start: Let's use an example to be concrete.

What if you have a common service. Say a painter. You paint residential homes around town. There are 10 other painting companies you compete with. You don't feel special. But, you are.
  1. Pull up Google. Google will be your best friend for the next 10-20 hours.
  2. Start researching basic questions: Why do homeowners hire a painter? How much do they spend? What are the common colors? What horror stories are out there? Any government laws about painting (or, even better, about to happen)?
  3. Watch talks given by painters (fun, huh?)...what insights do they have?
  4. Talk to your customers. Ask them simple questions like you researched
  5. Read 1-3 books about painting, residential painting
  6. Watch HGTV and listen to what homeowners say about paint, paint colors, what it does to the room
Now, you might ask: 'Ok, WTF am I doing with all this basic information???"

I'll tell ya.

You're looking for a golden nugget somewhere. Keep everything you research (even if you've heard it before) in a Google doc. After digesting all this information, step away for a few days. Let your subconscious take over.

[HINT: This is when a walk or sex might generate a BIG IDEA]

At some point, you'll piece together an idea. You pull a bunch of data together and discover something: A house painted blue fetches 5% more in the sales price than a brown house (NOTE: MADE THIS UP).

Suddenly, you have a BIG IDEA.

TWO MEN SOLD THE EXACT SAME HOUSE, EXCEPT FOR ONE, SMALL DETAIL. ONE OF THEM MADE 5% MORE ON THE SALE(This 5% equated to an extra $20,000 in cash at closing because of this one, small detail)

That headline could get cleaned up a bit, but you get the point. You have a BIG IDEA that's different than your competitors.

Guess what? Those people selling their homes WILL ABSOLUTELY READ YOUR SALES PIECE.

"But what about the people who aren't selling their house?" Write another frickin' letter about another BIG IDEA! You can do more than one!! After awhile, it's a ton of fun.
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
HOW TO KEEP CLIENTS EVEN WHEN YOU $%*# UP

I was writing some Facebook ads for a client around $500 for a batch of 5. These are like word puzzles for me...quick...punchy...fun. I wrote a couple of their top ads in a short time, and they liked it.

They decided to bump me up to a long sales letter for their Black Friday sale which always sounds like it brought in a huge flow of customers. I was still new to writing long sales letter, but I learned as I went (HINT: You'll do this with every entrepreneur adventure).

After 2 weeks, I turned in a letter. I beamed. It sounded awesome. Shocking headline, all that juicy stuff.

Black Friday came and went when they'd run the letter. Crickets. I half-expected to see an email pop up saying "This is the best damn thing we've ever done..."

Tuesday or Wednesday following, a *bing* popped up on my phone. Believing my triumphant day was coming, I opened up the email.

"This was our worst performing letter ever."

Instantly the day went from high to deep, dark low.

Fast forward....2 months later, they hire me for an even longer sales letter at a higher price.

WTF happened?

I'll tell you...
--------------------
Every customer deserves A+ care. Companies are notorious for treating new customers like kings/queens and brush off their old customers. That's messed up because it's 30x as expensive to get a new customer than keep an old one.

But, shareholders want to see "customer growth" so that's where their flippin' attention goes. (Seriously, Wells Fargo, I've had the same bank account and numbers with you for 25 years since I was 4...I get nothing for it...but new customers get presents and candy...WTF?)

---------------
With this client, I met with their marketing guy in person. We chatted and meshed well.

When I was writing the FB ads, I did well. I GOT THE WORK TO THEM ON TIME. And, I took criticism and feedback well.

In other words, I was great to work with. I'm not the best copywriter in the world yet, but I'll get there. In the meantime, I can be sure to have the best customer service.

Because apparently, most copywriters have horrendous customer service.

One current client who pays me mid-5 figures per year in work told me: "We hired this A-list writer. This guy travels around giving talks at conferences and such. Well, we started a sales letter with him. 6 months later, we still don't have the first draft. This 'A-List superstar' keeps telling us he'll 'get it to us next week,' then NOTHING. On top of that, when my client gets frustrated, the effing guy pushes back with ' Hey, you can't rush creativity!'

Are you kidding me? How do you even keep clients doing that? Treat your customers well, they'll forgive you when you screw up.

And newsflash: You actually CAN RUSH CREATIVITY. Read my post above about BIG IDEAS.
 

Scot

Salad Dressing Empire
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 10, 2016
2,925
13,469
2,796
Florida
HOW TO KEEP CLIENTS EVEN WHEN YOU $%*# UP

I was writing some Facebook ads for a client around $500 for a batch of 5. These are like word puzzles for me...quick...punchy...fun. I wrote a couple of their top ads in a short time, and they liked it.

They decided to bump me up to a long sales letter for their Black Friday sale which always sounds like it brought in a huge flow of customers. I was still new to writing long sales letter, but I learned as I went (HINT: You'll do this with every entrepreneur adventure).

After 2 weeks, I turned in a letter. I beamed. It sounded awesome. Shocking headline, all that juicy stuff.

Black Friday came and went when they'd run the letter. Crickets. I half-expected to see an email pop up saying "This is the best damn thing we've ever done..."

Tuesday or Wednesday following, a *bing* popped up on my phone. Believing my triumphant day was coming, I opened up the email.

"This was our worst performing letter ever."

Instantly the day went from high to deep, dark low.

Fast forward....2 months later, they hire me for an even longer sales letter at a higher price.

WTF happened?

I'll tell you...
--------------------
Every customer deserves A+ care. Companies are notorious for treating new customers like kings/queens and brush off their old customers. That's messed up because it's 30x as expensive to get a new customer than keep an old one.

But, shareholders want to see "customer growth" so that's where their flippin' attention goes. (Seriously, Wells Fargo, I've had the same bank account and numbers with you for 25 years since I was 4...I get nothing for it...but new customers get presents and candy...WTF?)

---------------
With this client, I met with their marketing guy in person. We chatted and meshed well.

When I was writing the FB ads, I did well. I GOT THE WORK TO THEM ON TIME. And, I took criticism and feedback well.

In other words, I was great to work with. I'm not the best copywriter in the world yet, but I'll get there. In the meantime, I can be sure to have the best customer service.

Because apparently, most copywriters have horrendous customer service.

One current client who pays me mid-5 figures per year in work told me: "We hired this A-list writer. This guy travels around giving talks at conferences and such. Well, we started a sales letter with him. 6 months later, we still don't have the first draft. This 'A-List superstar' keeps telling us he'll 'get it to us next week,' then NOTHING. On top of that, when my client gets frustrated, the effing guy pushes back with ' Hey, you can't rush creativity!'

Are you kidding me? How do you even keep clients doing that? Treat your customers well, they'll forgive you when you screw up.

And newsflash: You actually CAN RUSH CREATIVITY. Read my post above about BIG IDEAS.
Damn who does this guy think he is, Don Draper?

Good customer service always sells.
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
Damn who does this guy think he is, Don Draper?

Good customer service always sells.
There was a thread by @JackEdwards that was popular a few years back (not sure what happened to him...perhaps some forum drama), but he started a business from scratch in an industry.

One of the ways he got new customers was simply being an alternative to the prospects. For so long, the prospects put up with bad customer service because they had no other choice. When he came along, it was a cinch to sell them.

Think about your phone and internet. You feel trapped using Time Warner Cable or AT&T (notorious customer service toilets)...one day...they're day of reckoning will come where someone needing as good a product with better customer service will destroy them for good.

It's already happening.

Google unseated all the earlier search engines because they did something better. Somewhat pseudo-customer service...their site never crashed or sputtered. They win.

In the financial industry I write for, they're starved for good writers...not enough good ones (it takes awhile to get good at copy)...so they put up with shitty customer service just to get their copy.
 

Elemental

New Contributor
Jul 9, 2016
8
8
16
28
Your posts are wonderful Joe and as someone who has recently started learning the trade, thank you for sharing your motivating story of success!

Regards,
R.
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
Your posts are wonderful Joe and as someone who has recently started learning the trade, thank you for sharing your motivating story of success!

Regards,
R.
Thanks for the kind words...I'm going to continue to update this thread with more helpful tips. Some peeps have DM'd me with specific questions that I felt would be best to just share here.

I'll update more in the next few days with more help,

awesome story. thank you. copywriting might not be fastlane but it sounds like "freedom lane" anyway
My wife's been sick the past 3 days. We have a 2 year old, so it's crazy town here.

Rather than having to 'ask off work' or 'oh $%#* I have to use vacation days for this....really??" I help my wife and daughter during the day and work in the evening at my own pace. Or, just take the day off.

So, yes...not fastlane yet...but freedom for sure.
 

GMSI7D

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 27, 2016
993
1,887
547
43
Lyon, France
Rather than having to 'ask off work' or 'oh $%#* I have to use vacation days for this....really??" I help my wife and daughter during the day and work in the evening at my own pace. Or, just take the day off.

So, yes...not fastlane yet...but freedom for sure
.

this is the wonderful thing ! when your family needs you, you will find the time without asking an angry boss for a vacation.

just this reason alone is worth the work you are doing. this is part of freedom

you know, your story is so inspiring that i am thinking about doing some work like yours as a freelance

yes it is difficult and many guys fall along the road. i know

but i don't want to be rich in the first place. i want to use my time as i wish

the worst thing is being a slave of a stupid boss who is telling you what to do with your precious time.

i can't stand that anymore. this is insane.
 

kytro360

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Sep 28, 2016
69
76
110
This is super inspiring! I've dedicated this summer to going back to the fundamentals and made it a goal to read all of my copywriting books a minimum of 10X. That way all of the information is permanently tattooed to my brain.

I also want to get into freelancing so that should be fun :)
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

DB35

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 7, 2015
4
7
20
39
Columbus OH
I stumbled back on the Forum from some late night reading. Figured I could share my story. Even if it helps just one person.

In no way am I some 'hot shot millionaire.' Not even close. But, this past year has been life-changing, and could help you.

If you look at my profile, I haven't been on this forum for a couple years.

You can browse through at past threads and failures I've tried (I put them on my Linkedin as well). I don't hide them. Because failures make you who you are.

I'm not a manufacturer, a designer, an engineer, coder, or even an average handyman.

I discovered, from my failures, I love writing sales copy and I'm good at it (goal: be the best).

[You can only connect the dots looking back...]

Growing up, I always wanted to be an accountant...yuck...Kids in middle school laughed at me when I told them.

I imagined looking sleek in an expensive suit, pulling up in my Mercedes to a Fortune 500 office. Then, walking into my CFO office...the slowlane reeking through my white shirt.

Well, there was I problem...

I found out I sucked at accounting.

My last job, working in a CPA firm in Dallas, my boss subtly mentioned multiple times it wasn't right for me. The first time was after I took "too much initiative." The firm was planning on spending 5-figures on a new Wordpress site.

Outraged... I went home. Next, I pulled up ThemeForest, and spent the weekend creating a great, new site for just $50 with sub-par design skills.

Monday rolled around and I got an angry call due to potential "SEC" violations that could happen as I had made the site live [didn't even know there was an 'on' button].

That incident pushed me into finding more about myself and what I loved. After many more failures, I found my love of copywriting.

Slow burn of getting clients:

There's two routes you can go as a copywriter:

1. Make your own products and promote (think Clickbank)
2. Or, pick up clients one-by-one

I picked door #2.

Worst mistake I made starting: I was a 'general' copywriter. I reached out to local businesses, any company I thought interesting...etc. I made crummy YouTube videos for each prospect telling thing what their ads are doing wrong.

Another tactic: I'd go through their site and make suggestions on things they could do to increase conversions. Great value, right?

Terrible idea. Giving away the milk is dumb. Not good salesmanship. Learned that the hard way with lots of wasted time.

Moving along...

I managed to pick up a few clients from cold outreach. Not much. A few thousand bucks here and there.

During that time, my wife and I had a child, and were wanting to move across the country back near my family in Georgia. My wife stays at home so it's my job to bring home the cake.

After squirreling away $15,000 in savings from client work, I sat down with my wife. We picked a date...Feb 1, 2016...for me to quit my accounting job and do copywriting full-time.

Mind you --- $15,000 is around 3-4 months of living expenses with health insurance, student loans, car payment, a baby etc.

Still...I had toyed with entrepreneurship for years. I heard the older you get, the less risk you take. Plus, I saw the Steve Harvey video about the "Jump" and I knew it was time to fly or die.

----------------

Before I go on...you might think: "Freelance writing is not fastlane!"

If we're getting down-to-earth technical...sure, it's not.

If I stopped writing tomorrow [minus commissions from promotions] I'd make $0.

But, I feel this step in my life (at the age of 29) is not the last step in terms of my entrepreneurship ventures.

On my goals list (I read everyday)...I include other income streams I'm working towards:
  • Option trading
  • Speculative stock trading
  • Real estate investing/flipping
  • Helping my wife open a bakery (she's an incredible baker)
  • Screenwriting (I believe we're entering a new 'golden age' of TV...more and more networks need great scripts. Screenwriting is my budding hobby when I'm not copywriting for work...interesting life I lead...)
It's just the start. I'm enjoying the journey and getting to work when + where I want.

What I've always struggled with: Not being gracious for this moment and what I have.
It's a typical American mindset. Never having enough.

I know some on here aren't spiritual/religious, but I find having a relationship with God helps my relationship with my wife and daughter.
-------------

Anyway...

Back to juicy parts.

For the first few months of self-employment, you feel weird. Suddenly, you don't have a boss breathing down your neck. You don't have to pretend to like your cube-mates.

And...most of all...

You don't have to sit in freakin' traffic 2 hours/day. Geez, what a time suck. Great time to catch up on podcasts, but that's it.

Being self-employed frees you from that.

But, you get new worries.
  • What if we go broke?
  • What if I really suck at this?
  • What if we have to move in with my parents? My wife would probably leave me.
You're ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE THESE QUESTIONS. There is never a perfect time to quit your job and start working for yourself.

It's like having a baby. You can plan until the cows come home. At some point, you just gotta bite the bullet.

One of my first days, I was paralyzed. Laying on our bed, heart pounding, looking up at the ceiling. My wife walks in and asks, "What are you doing? "

With short breath, I admit, "I don't know what I'm doing...I can't do this..." A moment of self-pity. It happens. We talked. Long-story-short, I pulled up my boots and kept going.

For months, we slid by. I had a few projects here and there. Reaching out cold to companies (hundreds) and getting little back. Still being a generalist.

Then, I had an epiphany.

I hated accounting. But, I loved finance. Stock markets, Motley Fool, all that jazz...it's fun for me to read and watch. Money makes the world go around. Understand money, you understand what's going on in the world.

"I'll write copy for financial companies" I claimed.

Great, right?

I figured: 'Financial advisors need more clients all the time. I'll write for them! Have a zillion clients! Bwhaha!'

Well, I talked with over 50 FAs on the phone. Zero wanted to hire me! A few even said "Yes, send over the contract." We had agreed on the price and everything. Contract sent.

Never heard from them again.

What I found: FAs are: Conservative, money-tight, understand ZERO about marketing or its importance, and have probably been burned before.

Okay. Panicking again with a failed niche...

I reached out to a random gold company with a $2 bill attached to a direct mail letter. It worked!

This gold company needed copy to opt-in for an ebook for their gold IRAs. Suddenly, a whole new door opened. Because that company introduced me to financial publishers.

You know them: Agora, Stansberry...etc.

They need copy ALL THE TIME...and they pay well for it + commissions.

Before some of you start with the hate: "Oh, those financial publishers are all scammers. They say you can get rich, rich, rich. BS!"

I'm not going to touch on this much.

Yes, some financial publications are iffy. Some Agora copy makes some bold claims. But, Agora is a 9-figure business...and has been for awhile. They do have some unhappy campers...but, many aren't.

I've seen behind-the-curtain of many publisher products, and many are very good. Especially if you don't know much about investing or have the time to do all the research.

Yes, some analysts' products pick wrong stocks more often than not. Every industry has their good & bad companies.

I digress....

The point to take from this:
Find an area that already pays for what you offer!!!

I wasted months and months trying to "educate then sell..." It's a tough hill to climb my friend.
If someone doesn't already understand why they should eat organic over pizza...it's a much tougher sell than someone who already buys organic!

Find someone already buying what you want. Then comes the real moneymaker...

The beauty of a 'niche'

Sure, having a niche means you know more about the industry than others blah blah.

But, the real riches is something else...let me tell you...

When you work in a niche, you can leverage one client into all the others!

If you say: "I worked with Toyota..." going up to Nissan is a much, much easier sell. Because they know you speak the language. You already understand the industry.

Today, I work with mostly financial publications. Picked up a few other clients in other industries from referrals. But, mostly just target fin pubs.

In the last 12 months:
  • Made over 6-figures just in copywriting fees (not commissions)
  • Written 6-figure promotions
  • Used my healthy fees to invest in our old house before selling it. Saw a 300% return on the investment [wouldn't make enough at the J.O.B. to do this]
  • Moved to GA, bought my wife her dream house
  • On track to make 6-figures again this year working from home at my own pace
Main Lessons:
  • Accept where you are now. Put a little effort each day. I wake up excited on Mondays to work. I stay up late excited to work. Do I stress about failing still? Yes. Duh.
  • Failing is always, always, always part of the process. Every time. 100% of the time.
  • Try to leverage clients into each other. Much easier sale.
  • Sell to people already buying what you sell. Once you get that running...then, broaden
  • I started off worrying "This isn't fastlane." But, I'm building up my capital into more passive streams in the future. I'm accepting where I am now and taking strides to get where I'm going
  • You will always think you're going to fail. There will never be an absolute best time to start a new venture/work for yourself. You just have to trust yourself, God, the universe. As humans, it's funny. If you're ambitious and driven enough, you figure shit out. You just do. Yes, hard times will come. But, we're survivors. We figure out how to survive.
That was a GREAT post Joe. Really needed to read that right about now.
 

TylerH1994

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 16, 2017
96
182
144
25
Wichita Kansas
This is super inspiring! I've dedicated this summer to going back to the fundamentals and made it a goal to read all of my copywriting books a minimum of 10X. That way all of the information is permanently tattooed to my brain.

I also want to get into freelancing so that should be fun :)
Or..

You could just re-read them once, make it a goal to implement the main takeaways consistently, and take action.

Otherwise, your whole summer is gone, and all you've done is read. That isn't adding any dollars to your bank account.
 

Argue

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 1, 2016
646
2,352
555
28
NYC
This is super inspiring! I've dedicated this summer to going back to the fundamentals and made it a goal to read all of my copywriting books a minimum of 10X. That way all of the information is permanently tattooed to my brain.

I also want to get into freelancing so that should be fun :)
Best way to remember anything is to apply it. And why wait until summer? Why not start now? Just read a page and apply the knowledge you learn--today. Hit up a restaurant or business who needs copy and offer your service for free. That way, you learn along the way and you're applying the knowledge you're learning from the book. The worse way to learn is to try and remember everything unless you're using mnemonics. Also check out @SinisterLex thread about freelancing. He shares a lot of insightful info to take action.

The formula should be:

Learn the basics + learn by doing + apply knowledge = tangible results

Waiting for summer + reading all summer long = time wasted/will power diminished

Just my .2 cents.
 

kytro360

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Sep 28, 2016
69
76
110
Best way to remember anything is to apply it. And why wait until summer? Why not start now? Just read a page and apply the knowledge you learn--today. Hit up a restaurant or business who needs copy and offer your service for free. That way, you learn along the way and you're applying the knowledge you're learning from the book. The worse way to learn is to try and remember everything unless you're using mnemonics. Also check out @SinisterLex thread about freelancing. He shares a lot of insightful info to take action.

The formula should be:

Learn the basics + learn by doing + apply knowledge = tangible results

Waiting for summer + reading all summer long = time wasted/will power diminished

Just my .2 cents.
I'm on summer break already so I've been doing this. Also, all of the top copywriters I've spoken too told me they recommend reading copywriting books a minimum of 10X so you know the fundamentals inside and out.

I'm reading AND applying what I learned. I write the copy for two online businesses I have so I'm not just sitting around all day. I've been itching to get into freelancing and have put up a Fiverr gig and have been looking for jobs on UpWork but it's harder than I thought it'd be.
 

Argue

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 1, 2016
646
2,352
555
28
NYC
I'm on summer break already so I've been doing this. Also, all of the top copywriters I've spoken too told me they recommend reading copywriting books a minimum of 10X so you know the fundamentals inside and out.

I'm reading AND applying what I learned. I write the copy for two online businesses I have so I'm not just sitting around all day. I've been itching to get into freelancing and have put up a Fiverr gig and have been looking for jobs on UpWork but it's harder than I thought it'd be.
Nice. My bad if I jumped to conclusions too quickly. Keep up the good work. :thumbsup:
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
GET TOP-OF-THE-INDUSTRY CTR RATES WITH ONE SMALL TWEAK:

When I started writing copy, I had a nasty tendency. It's a common pitfall that absolutely craters your CTR rate for emails, google ads, FB ads, whatever...

But it also doesn't make sense when you think about it...

Don't make this slip-up and miss out on thousands of sales simply because dozens of hungry customers didn't click over to your product.

The pitfall?

Trying to stuff everything into one email or ad. Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at your prospect begging: 'Please just one of these arguments stick!!!'

LET'S LOOK AT AN EXAMPLE:

Here's a common thing I see every freakin' day when I open the Cherokee County Newspaper here in Woodstock, GA. (I love seeing the copy in ads, don't you think that's fun too?)

An ad you'll see:
ARTHUR'S LANDSCAPING & PAINTING COMPANY: We can do it all! Clean up your garden, trim your grass, make your front yard look beautiful! Plus, we can make your inside look fantastic as well. Any room painted now is 30% off when you mention this coupon. Let's get your house ready for the summer. Hurry!!

That's a pretty good example of a local ad you'll see. This isn't a real ad but definitely sounds like the many you'll see.

What's the problem? This company wants to 'be everything to everyone' especially in this ad.
"Ok, if someone needs landscaping, we will get them...and if they need painting down, we do that too. Both? We'll be rich!!"

Compare that to the ad right next to it:
George's Landscape & Design: For the past 25 years, your neighbors in Cherokee County have seen their plain, overgrown yards transform into beautiful gardens and miles of lush grace. All because we want to make your home in our growing county look incredible. Dawn W wrote us: "All I hear when I'm in my new garden is 'Dawn, your front yard is incredible!' Thank you George's!!!" Send a picture of your frontyard to jack@gld.com and we'll send you ideas on what you can do."

See the difference? Both of these ads were written off the top of my head, but you can see which sticks out.

The first ad tries to do everything at once.

The second focuses on just one customer. The one who is embarrassed to look out into their yard. There's lots of psychology built into that second ad.

LESSON:
When you write your next FB ad or email...ask yourself this question:
- Is there one, and only one, point I'm trying to make in this ad/email?

It doesn't mean you can't write a long email/ad, just keep it focused. There shouldn't be '3 Parts' to an email/ad. There should just be ONE part. Your sales letters can have multiple parts (but one main idea).

If you need examples or help, just post below your ad/email.
 

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
29,491
102,743
3,751
Fountain Hills, AZ
WTF, I think I might need to hire someone (or find more moderators) who can better spot these gems. I keep missing them.

Thread marked NOTABLE + Rep! Thanks @Joe Cassandra
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,915
554
31
Woodstock, GA
GET 5-FIGURE PROJECTS LIKE CLOCKWORK:

Since I started this thread, I've gotten a bunch of emails/DMs asking about various topics of freelancing. (Hate the term freelancing as it always is associated with 'broke' and 'living with mom and dad' --- not true)...

I used to work as an accountant and made something like $58,000/year. At this point in 2017, I've already surpassed that and we're not even 5 months into the year.

You don't have to starve to freelance, but you do need to be doing LUCRATIVE projects.
It's much better to have 10 clients that make you $100,000 than 500 clients making the same.

Because your hourly rate with the 10 clients will be significantly higher (10X as much I've calculated)

Here's how you get those projects.

1. TARGET ONE NICHE: I've had DMs about 'how do I pick a niche.' It's fairly simple....
---> Find a niche that uses copy on a daily basis.

Examples???
  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Survival
  • Marketing
  • Info-marketing
  • Golf lessons
  • Watch infomericals, target those companies to do VSLs
  • Relationships/Sex
  • Playing an instrument
  • Technology/Startups
  • Any business that sends regular emails out to clients (look for ones that already use good copy)
  • Any subscription business on the planet
  • Any guru in any niche imaginable
  • Any expensive product that needs explaining for someone to buy (not as much emotion for example, a pizza)
That's just a small list. You have to do your research to figure out:
---> What could I see myself writing about everyday and not get bored?
---> (MORE IMPORTANTLY) Where can I find the niche that meshes perfectly with their needs & my fees

I wrote in my initial post (page 1), I write in the financial publishing niche. It's a ton of fun to wake up and write about options and mutual funds...that's just me.

For newbies, I probably wouldn't recommend the financial niche as it's very cutthroat. If you don't produce killer ROI right out of the gate, expect to be summoned to the guillotine (known from experience).

But, I work at will because the industry is DESPERATE for good writers.

Actually, every niche is DESPERATE for good writers because consumers are as SKEPTICAL as ever.
No more can you just slap on your packaging: "We have the best product ever!"

You need to be more persuasive and creative than that. Now more than ever as our attention span plummets to near squirrel-like levels.

KEY: Research. Research. Research the niche you want. It will take time. It will take talking (yes you have to talk to people even as a write) and asking about the industry. No way around this. Go to industry events. Reach out to industry peeps on Linkedin with a quick message.

2. SEND PROSPECTS BIG IDEAS:

I wrote a prior post above about 'how to have big ideas' because that's what every single marketing director wants. They wake up in the middle of the night sweating because that 'next great idea' won't show up when they need it.

Every TV commercial you see in the middle of Sunday's game came from someone's "BIG IDEA" . Most suck which proves how hard it is to produce BIG IDEAS.

It's up to you to bring these BIG IDEAS. Here's an absolute promise/guarantee:

You could be a 100%, absolute beginning copywriter and land a 5-figure project tomorrow if...
You bring a BIG IDEA to a company right now that could produce more sales

That's an absolute promise. I just wrote a promotion that brought in 6-figures and the reason it did well (and fast) --- BIG IDEA.

Think about it: Say a company sells golf clubs. How many different ways can you sell a club? "Hit the ball 50 yards farther!" "Show off to your buddies!" "Pick up the cart girl with your long shaft!"

Those have all been done (haven't seen the third one yet...), but if you can figure out other angles to sell a driver, you'd get a gig tomorrow

If you can provide value upfront, it proves to the CEO, copy chief, marketing director you're invested
What to look for when sending a BIG IDEA:
  1. A product that long copy would work great for
  2. Ideas to create a funnel or webinar around (include potential upsells/downsells)
  3. Potential websites and lists they can promote to
In essence, take all the hard-thinking off the table and show them WHAT they can do. Your job is then to sell them on HOW you're the one for the job.

3. SELLING THEM ON THE PHONE:

All my clients I work with virtually. I used to have clients 'in-town' and hated it. Visiting them at their beck-and-call, etc...not what I want to do and normally they're a waste of time.

I'll talk about actually getting clients to agree to a phonecall in another post, as that's a whole other topic.

When you finally get a potential prospect on the phone, you're doing these things:
  1. Immediately getting them to trust you
  2. Immediately convincing them you're the right person to do the job
  3. Getting a budget/agreement right away
#1. Get them to trust you
This starts before you pick up the phone. In any initial emails, make sure you're prompt and you're taking the initiative to send the calendar invite and outline what you'll talk about. Executives are busy and don't want to do this minutiae.

Remember, the entire interaction from start to finish, they're asking: Can I work with this person? Do I like working with this person?

Right when the call starts, make sure you have a smile and enthusiasm shining through the phone. This is music to the subconscious as the other person can sense you're excited to talk and you're someone of both authority and interest. People are drawn to those who sound enthusiastic (best speakers ever were all enthusiastic).

Next, you'll need to take control of the call and make them feel you know what you're talking about. If you just make it a : 'They ask me about myself' and 'I answer' , you lose strength pretty quick. You look like an amateur.

Instead, YOU BE THE ONE ASKING QUESTIONS. If you're a beginner with little experience, this is massive. Because the worst way to lead off a call is:

" So Joe, thanks for setting up this call, tell me about yourself"
" Well, I'm new to this and just getting my feet wet, but I'd love to help you out..."

DEATH. You don't want to bring up your inexperience until later in the call after they already discovered they like and trust you.

Another major brownie point: PROVE TO THEM YOU'VE LOOKED AT THEIR PRODUCTS AND SITE. Sounds obvious, yet it surprises me again and again when a prospect asks "Have you looked at our site?" This means they've talked to other vendors who have not looked at their site!

WHAT TO DO: Mention a blog post the prospect wrote, mention an idea you heard them discuss at a talk they gave. This makes the prospect feel you're absolutely serious.

It's the difference between the spam emails you get: Mr. Business owner, I'd love to help you build out your ecommerce platform.

WTF? I'm a copywriter, I don't sell ecommerce!

VS.

Hi Joe, I read your article on landing 5-figure contracts and especially liked your point about proving 'you looked at their products and site.' You do most of your selling through email and not as much inbound. There's a few ways you could attract your financial niche prospects without having to cold email and would be much faster. I have a few big ideas that could help...

Now, i'm interested....

Easiest way to build trust: Ask them questions, listen, respond, and share ideas to help them. That's all

#2: Convince them you're the right person for the job

Especially, as a beginner, this can be tough as there's always someone better out there. When you're laying out your ideas, you want to create a breadcrumb trail leading to the prospect saying : "Oh, I really want this. This would really help."

Much like in a courtroom, you're laying out your idea and your case.

"I notice you have some cheaper priced goods and then you have your premium products. Many of the top experts in the ecommerce space have had tremendous success doing this; Set up a sales page pitching your lower priced offerings. Then, after the sale, immediately upsell them on the higher priced. Why? Psychology says you're more likely to buy again from a business right after you just bought something. It'll take some work and some killer copy, but the bonus is you can run it again and again on auto-pilot rather than mailing out new advertisements all the time. Usually, you just need the right BIG IDEA. I was thinking about it and thought: [INSERT BIG IDEA]"

Right there, in that paragraph, you've hooked the prospect. Most likely their next question won't be: "Show me samples" but rather" How much do you usually charge for this?"

KEY POINT: Don't spend the call talking about your experience or lack thereof. Prospects ask about that when they are not fully sold on working with you (or anyone). Deflect those questions into BIG IDEAS.

#3 Getting a budget/agreement right away:

Your ideal scenario would be to hook a prospect on the first call and agree for them to send a contract over. For many, they might not want to jump the gun on a 5-figure project right away.

However, if you find good prospects who regularly use copy in their everyday-marketing activities, it's entirely possible to close a 5-figure deal.

When I say 5-figure deals, it could be encompassed of:
1. Fixed fees only
2. Fixed fee plus commission
3. Commission only

I normally opt for #2 as you get a healthy upfront payment plus reward for good work. If you're new, working on a tiny upfront fee plus commission might be a way to get your feet wet. If it's a 'fixed fee' only, make sure you jack up the price as much as you can to entice them to take option #2.

I wouldn't normally recommend #3 unless it's a last resort and there's not a bucketload of work involved. If a prospect wants you to work 20+ hours commission only, it usually means they're not 100% sold/serious. You want them to be taking a risk just like you're taking a risk.

Never be the one to take 100% of the risk.

Normally, the prospect will bring up budget, but I say to try and bring up budget first and get a ballpark.
"Jack, I've seen some of your video sales letters in the past, what do you normally feel comfortable paying for something like that?"
Then, be quiet.

They may be silent for a bit curious if they want to open their accounting ledger to you, but most will be happy to tell you. After which, you reply either:

"Tell you what, I feel like I'd charge a bit more, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up, I'd be happy to do it for that price too.'
or
"Hmm, I'd figure you'd pay a bit more for it. How about I put together a few options for you to look at?"

For the first response, you're going for the quick sale. The second is so you don't paint yourself into under-charging. After the second response, I'll normally go away and put together a 3-tiered option (with #2 being the ideal solution to pick and psychologically pushing them towards that).

For some, they may just want to see a list of ideas first and then chat with their team about it. This is not the ideal solution, but before you agree to do that and spend time thinking of ideas, make sure you ask them point blank:

"Jack, I'm happy to put together some ideas for you. But, can I ask you an honest question: If I do send these over, can we agree on a time to chat over the ideas next week? The reason is sometimes I'll put together a proposal and ideas for someone, spend hours doing it then hear nothing. I understand timing can be an issue with other priorities, but for you , it's best to figure out 'yes or no' as soon as possible rather than me following up with every week, you know?'

All you're doing here is making sure they are 100% serious and not just 'action-faking' in order to get off the phone. You'd rather hear a straight-up "NO" than waste your time putting together stuff no one will ever look at.

This post is long enough, I'll share more ideas and go deeper into some of these as time goes on :)
 

Ika

Busy Idiot
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Aug 9, 2016
271
901
320
Germany
Wow, what a thread! I sadly don't have the time to answer to each post, but thank you for writing all of this down! Really great insight.


A thought I had while skimming through it:

I'm not a copywriter, I'm a webdesigner & developer.

While reading I was telling myself:
"Man he is lucky (ha!) for choosing copywriting - he now has skills to write great copy in his emails and proposals. He can sell more easily because he knows how to persuade and bring across his points."

But then I realised that it is a massive opportunity for every freelancer except copywriters!

Naturally freelancers have one main skill, they are really good at the thing they sell, be it design, development, analytics or what ever.
Normally they don't have the time or interest to learn another skill that doesn't directly support their main skill.

And that is a huge opportunity!
Because most of your competition is really bad at it, even the smallest improvements in copywriting-skills will highlight you in the masses. Put in the right mindset and you don't have to be a perfect writer!

As a copywriter your main skill is writing, and thus most of your competition will write great emails and proposals - meaning you have to work much harder to get the sale.
(well, atleast every good copywriter competing at a high pricepoint)


My point is, even as a non-copywriting freelancer you should pay attention to these kind of threads.
First because a lot of the tips are not focused on a skill but on a mindset and will thus help you, no matter what you do.
Second because the content focused on copywriting will help you with your (written) sales process which will give you a huge advantage.


Maybe this helps someone
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.


New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Sponsored Offers

Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
-- HALLOWEEN SPECIAL STARTS TODAY! Get any of my courses at Udemy's current best price through Friday! Use code: HALLOWEEN Use any of the links...
Top Bottom