One of the things I love most about B2B copywriting is that you can leverage your background and career experience to get clients and fast-track your success.
You can’t typically say the same about most types of B2C copywriting.
You see, B2B marketers want good writers. But they’re not trying to beat a control. So in most cases they want to work with writers who have knowledge and understanding of the field, topic, or industry they’re writing about — the stuff you can’t teach someone overnight.
This is so important, in fact, that I’ve seen many B2B marketers hire relatively new writers mostly because of the industry or topic knowledge and perspective they brought to the table.
And you know what? This knowledge doesn’t have to be something big. In most cases, a hidden aspect of your background can work best. Or even taking an element from your past work experience and looking at it differently.
AWAI member Adria Schmedthorst is a great example. When I first met Adria, she felt stuck. She’d tried for a while to launch her freelance copywriting business. But she couldn’t get it off the ground.
“There was always something that I put up as a barrier,” she recently told me. “I also didn’t have anyone I knew to help me get started or anything. I didn’t have any contacts that I could use personally.”
Adria and I worked together in my B2B Biz Launcher 2.0 coaching and training program. We focused on positioning strategically in the medical and chiropractic space (she used to be a chiropractor). And we worked on developing and implementing a repeatable prospecting approach she could deploy on a daily basis.
It took some tweaking. Lots of action and persistence on her part. But it paid off — big time.
I just talked with Adria at Bootcamp last month. She had plenty of interesting assignments and an impressive number of referrals from happy clients. And some serious momentum going into next year.
Joseph Cole is another great example. By the time he and I met, Joseph had been freelancing on the side for three years. He’d landed about 10 copywriting clients and was generating freelance income.
Well, according to Joseph, not really. He wasn’t making progress. “I felt like I had reached the ceiling for me in self-study,” says Joseph. “I didn’t have a system that [enabled me to] steadily prospect and acquire new work.”
Joseph and I worked together through my B2B Biz Launcher coaching program to reposition his business. As it turns out, Joseph had experience working for nonprofit organizations — that insider perspective clients love.
But rather than going after nonprofit clients, Joseph leveraged his background and began prospecting for companies that sell to nonprofits.
This new angle has been a game-changer for him. Joseph was able to quit his day job last year to freelance full time — a longtime dream of his. We talked just two weeks ago and he’s booked solid with client work for the next few months!
Then there’s Daniela Llanos, another AWAI member. Daniela is a mechanical engineer with 10 years’ experience. But when she decided to launch her B2B copywriting business, she quickly realized that this venture was going to involve a different kind of challenge.
“I had a company name registered, I had a website, I had spoken to a few people,” she says. “But I hadn’t gotten a paid client — or an unpaid client for that matter. I was still buying as many programs as I [could] and not getting anywhere with basically most of them. And just sort of feeling no sense of direction.”
Daniela and I started working together about a year ago. She strategically positioned herself to highlight her engineering background and experience in the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry. And within a few weeks, she landed her first paid client — a critical milestone that propelled her business forward.
See Daniela’s full story here. And learn how this critical shift gave her the guidance, direction, and confidence she needed to finally get her business off the ground.
After coaching nearly 300 freelancers since 2012 I’m more convinced than ever that one of the most important elements of launching a successful B2B copywriting business is looking closely at your background and experience for key elements you can leverage.
As you can see from these examples, sometimes these elements are not so obvious. Very often it’s a nuanced aspect of your background or skill set. And in many cases that experience doesn’t have to be recent. Or it doesn’t have to be career-related.
I’ve worked with freelancers who had been out of the workforce for nearly a decade for a variety of reasons. Some had simply retired. Others had put their careers on hold for personal reasons. But they used what they had and combined it with relentless action-taking to get results.
Take Jeanne Noorman, a freelance copywriter from Michigan. Jeanne left the workforce for 24 years, 17 of which she spent homeschooling her kids. When she decided to launch her freelance business in 2013, she worried that her lack of recent work experience and professional contacts would dampen her success.
But Jeanne went for it anyway. We worked together to leverage what she did have in the way of writing skills and teaching experience. And by focusing on baby steps, she made incremental progress.
“My first projects were writing the web copy for a friend’s new business and a bio for another friend who was changing jobs. I did both projects for free,” she explains. “Since then I’ve capitalized on small wins. I network both online and in person, and I continually ask for referrals.”
Today, Jeanne’s business is thriving. She recently told me that she’s on track to have one of her best months yet. She’s particularly adamant about the importance of taking consistent action, especially when you don’t have a long, impressive career or professional network to leverage. “Spending time learning is passive,” she says. “You have to get out of your comfort zone and act!”
Sometimes this requires that you work a little harder (and smarter!) to find your first few opportunities. But once you land your first couple of clients, you can develop momentum quickly if you follow the right strategies.
The takeaway? As you get started on your B2B copywriting journey, take a close look at your background, experience, skills, and knowledge. Chances are there’s hidden gold in your past that could help accelerate your progress like nothing else.
And just as important, take steady, relentless action. Baby steps, compounded over time, will get you far. That kind of consistency can easily make up for any gaps in your work experience.
Editor’s Note: Tired of doing this all on your own? Need a clear path for getting results faster, landing your first few clients… and showing everyone (including yourself!) that you can do this?
AWAI and Ed Gandia have partnered to coach and mentor a handful of committed B2B copywriters. Our focus: to help you launch and grow your freelance business faster and with less risk.