Next to a knack for writing great copy, the number one key to success as a freelance copywriter is the ability to generate leads.
If you can do that consistently, then you have a good chance of attracting all the projects and clients you can handle. In fact, getting clients will seem effortless. (Well, almost.)
If you can’t do that, however, then you’re in trouble. Getting good paying work will always seem like a struggle. And, in fact, you may not land many clients at all.
So, generating a steady stream of good quality leads is crucial.
Leads, of course, are potential clients you have connected with in some way and who have expressed at least a modicum of interest in your services.
They’ve requested your special report, or emailed you inquiring about your services, or spoken with you at a networking event or forum, or done something else that indicates to you that they may — fingers crossed — hire you someday.
And, hopefully, that day will come sooner than later!
How do you generate leads?
I’ve had an opportunity over the past few months to talk with, and in some cases work closely with, dozens of successful copywriters. Here’s the rundown on lead-generation strategies that are working well these days.
1. Direct contact. This involves sending a short direct-mail letter to a list of prospects and following up with a phone call or email. (Or both.) It’s a lot of work, but direct contact is the fastest way to land a new client.
2. Referral sources. This involves building relationships with other professionals and companies who could recommend your services to their prospects and clients. Examples of good referral sources include freelance graphic designers, marketing consultants, printers, web developers — and, of course, your own clients.
3. Online networking. This involves your participation in blogs, social media sites (like LinkedIn Groups), how-to exchanges (MarketingProfs.com has one), and forums. The more targeted, the better. If you’re a healthcare copywriter, you’ll have much more success with a small, focused online forum exclusively for healthcare marketers than you would a massive general social media site like Twitter.
4. Articles in serious publications. By “serious,” I mean publications that your target prospects read to get information on marketing and communications. If you’re a software copywriter, for example, being a contributor to SoftwareCEO.com or some other popular marketing publication in that niche is going to get your copywriting services known to hundreds, or even thousands, of potential customers. You’re going to get some calls and emails. (Leads, folks, leads!)
5. Speaking. This involves giving talks at meetings and other events — live or online — that your target prospects attend. A copywriter I recently mentored did a presentation on SEO copywriting at her local chapter of the Business Marketing Association (BMA). The group was small; just 17 people. Yet she got four good quality leads, one of which turned into an opportunity to quote on a major project.
Of course, there are other ways to generate leads. But those five are, in my opinion, the most effective for copywriters. Especially these days.
So if you’re not generating enough leads, try one of those approaches.
They work well.