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

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Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

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YOU MAKE MORE WITH LESS IN THE COPY INDUSTRY:

I got a recent PM asking about a specific niche for writing copy in. For myself, I write in the 'financial' niche. Meaning, I've written for advisors, consulted banks, financial publications, etc. It's enjoyable for me.

When it comes to making bank writing copy...you absolutely must, must, must choose a niche.

"But, then I'll miss out on other companies not in the niche! I want to write copy for Coca-cola!"

Okay...back the coke truck up. Here's the honest truth... Writing copy is a results business. This isn't like being an accountant where there is a tax code to follow, and you simply look up what's a write-off or not.

If you can't produce sales with your copy...you're out of work. Thus, NOW more than ever, companies NEED to know you have experience in a niche before hiring you. (at least the good ones)

I'll touch on more of what I mean in a second.

First... here are the top niches to write- in today:

Don't have a niche? Pick one of these:
  • Alternative health market
  • Financial market
  • Self-help market
  • Travel market
  • Wine and food market (think cupcake explosion!)
  • Small business software market
  • Commercial construction market
  • Baby products market
  • Senior healthcare market
  • B2B (could write white papers for $5,000 a pop)
  • Green/Eco clothing market
  • Gurus of anything (they regularly must market themselves)
  • Education market (colleges and universities)
  • Home maintenance, repair, renovation market
  • Jobs market
  • Magazine subscriptions/ Newsletters
  • Survival niche
  • Internet marketing/courses
  • Solar commercial solutions market
  • Commercial or residential furniture market
  • Christian market
(Any others? I'll edit the answer to add it. PM me)
What if I know nothing or don't have experience in an niche?

Here I'll touch back on the point above about companies needing to know YOU have expertise in a field. This is awesome for you when you believe the 'power of a niche' because you leverage your work with one company into another. If you did well writing copy for Coke, Pepsi would hire you on the spot.

If you don't have experience in a niche, but want to get in...it can be tough. For example, I write in the financial niche, as mentioned. This is a cutthroat industry. I get fired all the time from jobs because they say "umm..this sucks" . There's no BS here. Thus, if you have ZERO experience...you'll get metaphorically laughed out of the room.

What can you do?

- Build your own samples. Find running promotions and create your own spec ads around them, etc.
- Sell them with your own ideas. : If you have BIG IDEAS, they might just give you a shot

But, I would start with this last tip...

FIND COMPANIES WHO ARE ONLY LEARNING ABOUT COPY, SUCK AT THEIR COPY, OR ARE TINY.

1
. If they are just learning copy, they most likely don't have copywriters lined up out the door. Thus, you win by default.
2. IMPORTANT: Make sure a company is using copy. And not just on their website. Find their ads on FB, etc. and reach out about how to improve them.
3. Start with small companies with smaller budgets. Not as fun as landing 5-figure gigs, but this experience you leverage to bigger companies.

In other words (for Point #3), don't chase after the big dogs first. Start with small companies, build a portfolio, experience, and track record. (Big names already get pitched by 30-year pros, if you have ZERO track record, you're wasting your time reaching out).

[I'm currently collecting survey data about those who want to write copy full-time from home. I need your expertise and opinions. See what I mean -- Click here for survey.(Nothing to buy or spam)]
 

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mThree2K

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Joe, this info you are posting is absolute Gold for anyone starting out, thank you so much!

Enviado desde mi Mi Note 2 mediante Tapatalk
 

Argue

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Joe, excellent posts day after day. You're giving us so much value! This will definitely help me out in my own processes.
 
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Joe Cassandra

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GET YOUR PROSPECTS TO PAY YOU 30% MORE THAN YOU QUOTED [without asking them to]:

I just got off the phone with a now-new-client about 90 minutes ago. He was late to our phonecall for the 2nd time. I get ticked by very few things...stuff like that irks me. I was literally in the middle of typing up an email telling him 'forget it Jack...bye bye'.

Then, my phone buzzed.

He's on the other end and apologized a bunch for doing it a second time. I'm a gentle (maybe foolish) soul and forgave him in 5 seconds. Back to business.

We were discussing taking his old LIVE webinars and making an evergreen webinar that runs 24/7 to bring in some passive sales. Awesome idea, check! They're a smaller company with obviously a limited budget.

He's ready to sign a deal...

I spent 3-4 hours putting together IDEAS, STRATEGIES basically everything I would do...free...with a bow. It's no wonder

Let's rewind...
------------------
Our intro call he wasn't sure exactly what he needed, so I guided him. Then, when it came down to discussing price, he said he was comfortable paying $2,500 + 1% for a project like this.

*THUD*

In this space, one new customer could be worth $2,500...so the value is there for a great copywriter to charge more. In my head, I was thinking around $5k - $7k with a 3-5% commission. Hmmm....

NEW PLAN...

GOT IT! I'll put together an entire playbook for them to look at. I'll include:
- IDEAS
- OUTLINE
- STRATEGY
- THE WORKS!

After I provide all this value, I'll dive into the pricing and why $2,500 is diddly poo for a price. 8 pages later, at the very end, I stick in: $5,000 + 3.95%. [This company could be a regular, ongoing client. Happy to chop my fees a bit].

Fast forward to 11:30 am today...

------------
He's apologizing about being late again. All forgiven. He's excited about all the ideas. At this point, he says: "We actually feel comfortable paying $6,500 + your commission if we can delay paying out the commissions until we see the webinar works..."

I'm confused. He offered to pay more just to delay the commission a bit...

I wait in silence to make him feel I was thinking deeply about countering...really I was just doodling on my notebook...

After 30 seconds of silence...I follow-up: "Well...let me see...okay...you know what? I believe this will be a big hit and we'll do work together for awhile. Let's do it. "

He says: "Okay...we are also willing to pay you all upfront." [Oh, the cherry on top...]

I'm holding back my grin...I say:"Hey, sounds good. Let's get this contract done today, okay Mr. New Client?"
---------

DON'T BE AFRAID TO PROVIDE VALUE UPFRONT...
 

Olie Sins

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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.
So, the thing I'm not understanding is, how exactly do you reach out to a company to tell them you want to write copy for them? Which phone numbers are you calling when you call these companies, and who specifically are you asking to talk to?

Great story by the way. It's making me feel better about my decision to quit my job to pursue copywriting full time.
 

Invictus

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A.Mitchell

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Great thread! I'm getting into voice over work, copy and animations as my bootstrap j.o.b. I'm watching this and will be reading through it's
entirety. Wow, what a great place to be motivated!
 
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Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

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Great thread! I'm getting into voice over work, copy and animations as my bootstrap j.o.b. I'm watching this and will be reading through it's
entirety. Wow, what a great place to be motivated!
Thanks a bunch, definitely can use the tips in here for any freelance gig
----
Thanks @Invictus for pointing the other guy in the right direction...he obviously didn't read any of this thread...*searching high and low for that elusive magic pill*...

---------------------------------
THIS THREAD GOING FORWARD:

There's so much more to dig into with copy. And I plan to reveal all my secrets as time goes on...

However...

Right now, I'm in the middle of building a product around the lessons in here and more. You can view the progress thread ---> Progress Thread - Building a Second Income Before the Second Kid

Also...to add to the workload...

I'm starting about 4-5 new copy projects in the coming months. Everyone is getting back into the offices after the summer and ready to churn out copy for the EOY. If you've ever wanted to get into copy, the EOY and the Beginning of 2018 will fill your coffers. This is when copy is needed most based on my experience.

In August, I should clear over $31,000 just this month. I'm also in the running for an incredible opportunity with one company that may change my whole schedule and give me more freedom than ever. I'll update here if it happens or not.

In the meantime, follow the thread over there. I'll post more here once things slow down in the next 1-2 months.

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

If you're interested in copy, I'd love to hear your unhinged thoughts (especially if you wish to work for yourself writing copy).
Check out my survey here.
 
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Lukebrisbane

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I'm probably not in the position to pay anyone yet for copy-writing, but I'm looking to pay someone to help me craft some good copy for my email campaigns for my men's grooming business down the line. My store is www.arroleosi.com.au
If you take a look at the product descriptions i'm still using the retailer's product description, was looking to change that at a later date for SEO purposes but figured if anyone wanted some practise they could on my products.
Feel free to practise on mine.
 

Artie Bernaducci

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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 :)
 

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PizzaOnTheRoof

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This is one of the best threads I have ever come across! Who knew it was hidden here all along? lol

I've bookmarked it "THE ONLY POST YOU'LL EVER NEED ABOUT FREELANCING"

Any updates Joe?
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

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HOW TO DOUBLE YOUR COMMISSIONS WITHOUT SIGNING ANOTHER CLIENT AND 50% LESS WORK:

The freelancer treadmill...

Sign a client, do work, get paid, collect a commission (if you played your cards right), hit the pavement again searching for another client.

If you did a decent enough job, you may get re-signed by a client. But who knows. You could've knocked it out of the park, but the client is traveling, then gets sick, takes a vacation, all for the next 6 months and you hear nothing.

What can you do to earn money again and again?

That's where you can add this 'double your commission' trick.

It seems like a no-brainer...

Yet, so many copywriters are too lazy...

Here it is.

Offer to write an entire upsell funnel at no extra fee only commission.

Now, that's if you already got paid for an assignment already.

Say you met this amazing millionaire who runs a forum, writes books, posts articles/videos. He hires you to write a landing page that is a "Free + Shipping" offer. If you don't know what that is, it's one of those sleight of hand tricks we marketers play. "Hey, we will give you this free book...who doesn't like free books?...in return, all I ask is you pay $6.95 for shipping & handling."

I say it's a 'sleight of hand' because the book most likely is worth $6.95 if not less. However, humans love...adore...worship free crap. Shout "FREE" in the middle of a mall and watch all the birdies turn their heads.

We feel like we're getting a deal.

Anyway, I got off subject...

You write this F&S sales letter. Probably worth 1k-3k words, maybe a script for a video. (I'd charge around $2k-$5k plus about $0.50 per lead for those curious. The reason for the gap is 'how big is their list', 'how much do they plan to spend on ads'. Be flexible with your clients. Ask them these questions and if they don't answer them, they're sucky clients. Most people who know what they're doing will spill all their data without needing to buy them a beer. It's a pride thing I guess).

So, you're getting $0.50/lead. This is easy for the client to keep track of. If they say they won't pay the commish, raise your flat fee.

Ok, to the meat.

If the client knows anything about making money online, they'd know they should offer upsells. However, many don't.

Why?

I'd guess a couple reasons:
1) They don't have any other products
2) They never work
3) They don't have the infrastructure
4) They're too lazy to write the copy / pay for it

Here's the problem.

If your Average Order Value (AOV) is only coming in at $7 - $25...it's super duper hard to pay for traffic. Facebook/ad networks etc. are getting more expensive. $1/leads are gone, unfortunately. Competition has driven everything up.

That leaves your client in a predicament.

1) Your F&S copy better break records
2) Take major losses upfront in hopes of making it back down the line

These are both HUGE risks for your client. Everytime they sink a dime into ad spend, they're thinking "is this ever going to come back...probably not." But they know they have to do it because all the 'gurus' say so. Still, it's risky.

They're trapped, business will die.

Here comes you. You take some risk off the plate...first, you'll write the upsells for free and get a commission. (5-10%). second, you'll consult on what products should be in said upsell chain and you're willing to test different ones. Another risk, gone. Third, the infrastructure piece can be picked up in Clickfunnels or any of those basic software packages. (work fast, as they aren't cheap each month). Last, you know how to get them to convert. Another risk gone!

---------------------------
Again, I believe most business owners don't upsell enough because of the reasons above...but mostly because they're lazy/don't have the time.

If you can push their AOV up 50-100%...that's a gamechanger in the business.

What should your funnel look like?

Front-end (F&S in this example) ---> UPSELL #1 ---> UPSELL #2 ---> UPSELL #3
Under those ---> UPSELL #1 ---> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #1 --> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #2
Under those ---> UPSELL #1 ---> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #1 --> (accept) ---> UPSELL #2
Under those ---> UPSELL #2 ---> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #2

You can see where I'm going with this. Each Upsell needs a downsell. If it makes sense, if they accept a downsell, push them back into the upsell chain.

You want to be most aggressive on the first Upsell declines. At that point, you hit them with TWO downsells because you're simply trying to get them to buy one more thing.

---------
SIDENOTE:
Why does this matter?

Because we buy more from people we buy from. That's why the top advice the best marketers all 'sell' for thousands is this (I'll give it for free) ---> build a buyer's list as fast as possible. These are the folks that will pay you more as you build new products.

-----------

...back to it...

When you can get your AOV up higher, you can spend more on ads, which brings in more prospects, who become buyers, who buy more stuff, which gives you more money to spend on ads...you see the pattern.

On your first upsell, you're shooting for a 20-50% conversion. If you're converting less than that, it could be the copy doesn't connect to the initial purchase they made, or the product isn't good.

Upsells are easy money for you commission-wise because getting them to buy more with just a click of the button is a lot easier than getting them to buy your $6.95 F&S. It's weird, but true.

The proof?

If you can convert on cold traffic 1-3% on your first offer...that's a solid offer. Freakin' 1-3%, that's not alot. However, you should be converting that 1-3% who buy 20-50% on the upsell. That's up to 50X more conversion because the people already bought from you.

------------
There's a lot more I could say.

I'm passionate about this as I'm working with a company right now, and their AOV is near the bottom in the industry. So, they can't spend as much on traffic.

I'm helping them try to double it first with their upsells, which will lead to more money for ad spend and affiliate buys. It's a lot of fun.

INDUSTRIES THIS IS RELEVANT IN:
- Subscriptions/Publishing
- Ecommerce
- Software
- Consulting
- Anything online...pretty much
- B2B sales

Anywhere you could sell MORE of what you have, this would work.
 

GSF

Silver Contributor
Speedway Pass
Aug 25, 2012
274
765
292
HOW TO DOUBLE YOUR COMMISSIONS WITHOUT SIGNING ANOTHER CLIENT AND 50% LESS WORK:

The freelancer treadmill...

Sign a client, do work, get paid, collect a commission (if you played your cards right), hit the pavement again searching for another client.

If you did a decent enough job, you may get re-signed by a client. But who knows. You could've knocked it out of the park, but the client is traveling, then gets sick, takes a vacation, all for the next 6 months and you hear nothing.

What can you do to earn money again and again?

That's where you can add this 'double your commission' trick.

It seems like a no-brainer...

Yet, so many copywriters are too lazy...

Here it is.

Offer to write an entire upsell funnel at no extra fee only commission.

Now, that's if you already got paid for an assignment already.

Say you met this amazing millionaire who runs a forum, writes books, posts articles/videos. He hires you to write a landing page that is a "Free + Shipping" offer. If you don't know what that is, it's one of those sleight of hand tricks we marketers play. "Hey, we will give you this free book...who doesn't like free books?...in return, all I ask is you pay $6.95 for shipping & handling."

I say it's a 'sleight of hand' because the book most likely is worth $6.95 if not less. However, humans love...adore...worship free crap. Shout "FREE" in the middle of a mall and watch all the birdies turn their heads.

We feel like we're getting a deal.

Anyway, I got off subject...

You write this F&S sales letter. Probably worth 1k-3k words, maybe a script for a video. (I'd charge around $2k-$5k plus about $0.50 per lead for those curious. The reason for the gap is 'how big is their list', 'how much do they plan to spend on ads'. Be flexible with your clients. Ask them these questions and if they don't answer them, they're sucky clients. Most people who know what they're doing will spill all their data without needing to buy them a beer. It's a pride thing I guess).

So, you're getting $0.50/lead. This is easy for the client to keep track of. If they say they won't pay the commish, raise your flat fee.

Ok, to the meat.

If the client knows anything about making money online, they'd know they should offer upsells. However, many don't.

Why?

I'd guess a couple reasons:
1) They don't have any other products
2) They never work
3) They don't have the infrastructure
4) They're too lazy to write the copy / pay for it

Here's the problem.

If your Average Order Value (AOV) is only coming in at $7 - $25...it's super duper hard to pay for traffic. Facebook/ad networks etc. are getting more expensive. $1/leads are gone, unfortunately. Competition has driven everything up.

That leaves your client in a predicament.

1) Your F&S copy better break records
2) Take major losses upfront in hopes of making it back down the line

These are both HUGE risks for your client. Everytime they sink a dime into ad spend, they're thinking "is this ever going to come back...probably not." But they know they have to do it because all the 'gurus' say so. Still, it's risky.

They're trapped, business will die.

Here comes you. You take some risk off the plate...first, you'll write the upsells for free and get a commission. (5-10%). second, you'll consult on what products should be in said upsell chain and you're willing to test different ones. Another risk, gone. Third, the infrastructure piece can be picked up in Clickfunnels or any of those basic software packages. (work fast, as they aren't cheap each month). Last, you know how to get them to convert. Another risk gone!

---------------------------
Again, I believe most business owners don't upsell enough because of the reasons above...but mostly because they're lazy/don't have the time.

If you can push their AOV up 50-100%...that's a gamechanger in the business.

What should your funnel look like?

Front-end (F&S in this example) ---> UPSELL #1 ---> UPSELL #2 ---> UPSELL #3
Under those ---> UPSELL #1 ---> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #1 --> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #2
Under those ---> UPSELL #1 ---> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #1 --> (accept) ---> UPSELL #2
Under those ---> UPSELL #2 ---> (decline) ---> DOWNSELL #2

You can see where I'm going with this. Each Upsell needs a downsell. If it makes sense, if they accept a downsell, push them back into the upsell chain.

You want to be most aggressive on the first Upsell declines. At that point, you hit them with TWO downsells because you're simply trying to get them to buy one more thing.

---------
SIDENOTE:
Why does this matter?

Because we buy more from people we buy from. That's why the top advice the best marketers all 'sell' for thousands is this (I'll give it for free) ---> build a buyer's list as fast as possible. These are the folks that will pay you more as you build new products.

-----------

...back to it...

When you can get your AOV up higher, you can spend more on ads, which brings in more prospects, who become buyers, who buy more stuff, which gives you more money to spend on ads...you see the pattern.

On your first upsell, you're shooting for a 20-50% conversion. If you're converting less than that, it could be the copy doesn't connect to the initial purchase they made, or the product isn't good.

Upsells are easy money for you commission-wise because getting them to buy more with just a click of the button is a lot easier than getting them to buy your $6.95 F&S. It's weird, but true.

The proof?

If you can convert on cold traffic 1-3% on your first offer...that's a solid offer. Freakin' 1-3%, that's not alot. However, you should be converting that 1-3% who buy 20-50% on the upsell. That's up to 50X more conversion because the people already bought from you.

------------
There's a lot more I could say.

I'm passionate about this as I'm working with a company right now, and their AOV is near the bottom in the industry. So, they can't spend as much on traffic.

I'm helping them try to double it first with their upsells, which will lead to more money for ad spend and affiliate buys. It's a lot of fun.

INDUSTRIES THIS IS RELEVANT IN:
- Subscriptions/Publishing
- Ecommerce
- Software
- Consulting
- Anything online...pretty much
- B2B sales

Anywhere you could sell MORE of what you have, this would work.
Great post and very timely for me
 

bumble_bee

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 14, 2019
19
26
22
Powerful story. Thanks for sharing.



^ this was the golden nugget for me! Definitely got my brain whirring....

Does anyone have advice on how to approach potential clients who are using a competitor?

It’s something I’m going to have a crack at

I’m in the web design and digital marketing space

Just don’t wanna come across the wrong way

Eg someone who poaches clients....

This is basically what it is

What’s the best way to do it without looking like a dick head?
 
OP
OP
Joe Cassandra

Joe Cassandra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2013
401
1,890
554
31
Woodstock, GA
Does anyone have advice on how to approach potential clients who are using a competitor?

It’s something I’m going to have a crack at

I’m in the web design and digital marketing space

Just don’t wanna come across the wrong way

Eg someone who poaches clients....

This is basically what it is

What’s the best way to do it without looking like a dick head?
I understand why you feel that way.

I'd challenge you to approach it in a different way.

"What are my competitors NOT doing, that I do and/or do better?" Especially if it's something that the client craves for...you're not 'stealing', you're actually helping.

Neflix didn't "steal" Blockbuster customers. They made media faster, easier, and cheaper (I mean, one month of netflix = 2 blockbuster rentals...)

For what I do, as an example...

I find most 'copywriters...digital marketers...web designers..' basically ANY freelancer-type worker commits these sins:
1) They're late with their work
2) They ghost clients
3) Their work is inconsistent (really good, then really bad)
4) Jerks to work with

When I started out, I was writing horrible copy. Didn't convert. Sucked. Newbie-mistakes everywhere.

However...

Clients were happy to hire me again and again...and endure increasing fees from me...because
1) I turned in work when I said I would
2) I kept the client in the loop with updates and such
3) If something didn't work, I fixed it for free (obv most projects I get paid a royalty so it helped me anyway)
4) I was nice to my clients, easy to talk with, I picked up the phone with a smile and not the attitude of "why the hell are you calling me"..

This is not to toot my own horn.

This is a prescription for both your mindset shift and for those new to this type of work.
 
Last edited:

Brewmacker

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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@Joe Cassandra

Hey Joe! What a fantastic read, I have spent way to much time reading this when I should be working haha. But your lessons, tips and writing style had me hooked for the past few hours.

Though I have no intention of becoming a full-time copy writer, you have encouraged me to delve deeper into this field. Not only for my own entrepreneurial ventures, but this will also be very useful in my normal job where I have to sometimes steer people without the required authority.

Keep up it with the great updates.

Also how did you get on with the assholes who stole and published your work after firing you?

Kind Regards,

B
 

SpaceKing44

New Contributor
Jan 22, 2018
8
10
15
New Jersey
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.
I've been thinking about doing copywriting myself. I do have a blog; I started that in order to get over my fears of sharing my thoughts, and seeing what others thought of them. I'm glad to see such a well-written account of someone "going for it" and building his business 1 by 1. I do see that you build a great house with many small bricks stacked on one another. I feel it is good not to hate on small beginnings. Thank you for sharing!
 

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