Do you wish your freelance writing business were growing faster?
Here are 4 email templates and a cheatsheet you can use this week to get your first (or next) high paying client…
When I first got started as a freelance writer back in 2009, I made some stupid mistakes.
“I hope no one ever finds out about this” mistakes.
Though I had plenty of confidence in my writing skills, I had, oh, six months of experience in the business world.
And I certainly wasn’t at the point where I was differentiating between doing the work and running the business.
“Money in my bank account? Great, I’ll spend it on stuff!”
Six months later… “What do you mean I have to pay self-employment tax?!”
I failed forward, and each and every fumble brought stress and anxiety.
That April in 2009, when I got laid off from my job, I had $486 in my bank account. I worried about money a lot.
It’s not like I was Warren Buffett or Richard Branson with a wealth of business savvy to pull from. I was making it up as I went.
I constantly second-guessed my decisions.
Was freelancing the right path for me?
Should I start looking for another full-time job?
Should I resign myself to a life of feast-or-famine?
It didn’t help that some of my freelancer friends who had been at it longer complained constantly about their clients. About how hard freelancing was. About chronic cash shortage.
To make matters worse, my own experiences seemed to confirm that writers worked at a disadvantage.
If you care about quality and genuinely want to serve your clients, then you have your work cut out for you.
Or if say what people want to hear, whether or not it’s true, then you’ll be just fine. Put lipstick on the pig and take it to market. It’s all about the money, baby!
I couldn’t bring myself to put personal profit above people, so I couldn’t help but wonder…
Do I have what it takes to succeed as a freelance writer?
At the time there was a lot of evidence stacked against me:
- Only a handful of clients
- No high-paying clients
- My teetering tower of credit card debt
- Occasional miscommunications with the clients I did have
- Being asked to revise (and keep revising) stuff I knew was perfectly good
- Going above and beyond only to get low-balled (again) on the next project
It seemed like no matter how hard I pushed, nothing budged. Not an inch.
A series of “just in time” cash transfusions kept me from bleeding out:
- $50 to write a band’s bio…
- $150 to write web pages for a local web hosting company…
- $25 to help a local non-profit with their annual report…
Certainly not enough work to pay off my credit card debt. Not enough to save for the down payment on a house.
Here’s the thing… I knew I had enough talent. Shoot, everywhere I looked I saw supremely CRAPPY copy.
Cheesy TV commercials straight from the eighties
Ugly billboards with terrible headlines
Email newsletters and blog posts full of typos
Web content so boring I wanted to punch my computer.
Geez… what does a guy have to do to find a friggin’ bone. I wanted to level up, and all of that mediocre writing PROVED that people got paid big bucks to put words together.
Why not me? What couldn’t I be the one they paid?
Getting high-paying writing clients would later transform my life.
I was able to do some of the things I had always wanted to do:
- Pay off debt
- Save more & invest (imagine that!)
- Travel more (how about Hawaii, Greece or Scotland?!!!)
- Work on my passion projects
- Give more money away
- Helpout family & friends
- Stop working on boring projects
- Walk away from difficult clients
- Take a true vacation at the beach with client breathing down my neck, ananxions
- Actually exercise the freedom the freelancing had always promised.
The question changed from “Can I succeed?” (like I said, you can lack talent and still get work) to a more tactical question…
“How do you go from barely making minimum wage writing stuff no one will ever read to running a friggin’ writing business that makes multiple six figures?
How do you get awesome clients to come to you?
Or is that crazy?
No. It’s not crazy. I can say that with confidence now.
Figuring out the process wasn’t easy. Like I said, I made many mistakes. But our mistakes are often the best teachers. Each flimsy failure can become a concrete building block.
Failures don’t stop coming either. Freelancing is hard. Anybody who tells you otherwise isn’t being candid with you.
With that said, eight years of trial-and-error have given me enough of those building blocks to construct something pretty amazing…
A sustainable content marketing and copywriting business that now averages $18,000 per month.
If I could sum up in one word the “secret” to success as a freelancer—the fix to that feast-or-famine” dilemma—that word would be “pipeline.”
Establish a strong, reliable pipeline of incoming clients and projects, and you’re in a position to do (or not do) all sorts of satisfying things.
Do take a vacation and truly unplug because you know things aren’t going to fall apart while you’re gone.
Don’t answer emails on the weekend.
Do hire an executive assistant to handle tasks you don’t enjoy.
Don’t put up with cheap, disrespectful, or unresponsive clients.
A strong pipeline gives you walk away power. If a new prospect lowballs you or a client starts acting weird, you remove yourself from the situation.
It’s not magic. You cannot avoid the hard work.
The key is focusing on one building block at a time. Don’t let the big plan overwhelm you or the dream dazzle you.
Focus. Execute. Focus. Execute.
As I mentioned, I didn’t have a lick of business sense when I got started. I didn’t even know what “freelancing” or “consulting” was.
I was a lyric poet, for goodness sake. I wrote free verse.
If I can figure out this whole freelance writing game, so can you.
Building a profitable writing business starts with very specific objectives. Many of them you can accomplish in 10-15 minutes while you juggle other responsibilities.
So let’s get started.
First things first, let’s hit the pressure release valve. I’m guessing you could use one or two new clients (the good kind)?
I’ll share step-by-step instructions to get your name out there and “recruit” several preferred clients (after all, “ideal” doesn’t exist) this week.
I’d recommend that you finish the first couple of steps today, even if you’ve only got 10-15 minutes to spare. Focus on incremental improvements. Execute.
To that end, I’d like to share two things with you should make getting your next freelance writing project less difficult: 1) 4 email templates, and 2) a cheatsheet how to use them.
P.S. Here’s a sneak preview…