Often, beginning copywriters aren’t sure where to start when it comes to prospecting. You may be feeling like that too.
You know there are thousands of businesses who need your services but where do you find them?
You may even be intimidated by the entire idea of “prospecting.” That’s okay. It’s totally normal to feel nervous about something you’ve never done before!
However, I invite you to set such fears aside for a moment and consider another perspective.
A perspective in which all you do is have simple conversations with the types of people who need the type of writing you do.
That doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
You have experience already doing this. Think about it, have you ever asked a family member if they wanted ice cream? Imagine, you head to the kitchen, take the ice cream from the freezer, and spoon some into a bowl. Then your spouse wanders through and you ask if they would like some too.
Whether they say “yes” or “no” is fine, right?
It’s not much different when you’ve identified a good potential prospect.
You don’t yet know if they want ice cream, so you ask. That’s it.
When it comes to communicating with potential prospects, it’s only different because your “ask” is likely coming via email. They don’t know you’re standing there ready to scoop cold, delicious ice cream out for them. Instead, you’ll start with a little introduction.
Here’s what’s important to let them know:
A) That you exist
- B) You have their favorite flavor of ice cream
- C) You’re happy to share some with them
The “Ice Cream” Method in Action
By now you’re probably thinking something like, “Jen, how am I going to find people to ask?” or something like that, right?
Here’s an overview.
Let’s say you have experience blogging for Human Resources and Recruiting companies, so you decide to set your sights on those types of businesses.
First, make a list of all the people you know in the industry. Even if it’s only one person, it’s a start.
Next, go to Google and type in “Content marketing + HR” and “Blogs + HR.” This will give you dozens of potential companies.
Take a quick look, do they have an active blog? Great! Can you share a blog post idea or two suitable for their blog? (Hint: Overworked marketing people appreciate a good idea!)
Third, use LinkedIn to find a marketing person at the company to share your idea with. Search for titles like “content manager” and “marketing manager.”
Then, in your short note to them, you can say something like “Hi Caitlin, I enjoyed the recent piece on your blog about x. I’m a writer in the HR space and wondered if you’ve considered a post on y? Love to connect.”
It only takes you a few minutes and nearly every business I know needs a stream of content and sometimes, they’re out of ideas. By showing up with an idea, you just might find yourself with a new client!
In essence, you’re saying, “Hi, I’m Jen and I’ve noticed you like ice cream. I happen to have experience with this type of ice cream and wondered if you’ve tried this other kind?”
As you can see, I don’t even offer any ice cream in the initial message, yet, you’d be amazed at how often this can turn into work.
Sometimes I don’t hear back, other times, I get a response like this, “Hey Jen! Great to hear from you, we’re looking for help with our content so great timing. Can we have a quick chat next week?”
Yes. That happens.
There are millions of businesses who need your help. There are millions who will value what you can do for them. Your job is to focus on who wants what you can offer. No point in offering ice cream to people who are dairy intolerant, is there?
Your Action Plan
I invite you to indulge in a little exercise. Even if you have no writing experience at all, you’ll be ahead if you do this because it will help you narrow your focus so you can make progress quicker.
Write down 3-5 criteria you’d like prospective clients to have. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Except that most new business owners struggle with this. So, write down what immediately comes to mind and then revisit it in a few days.
By the way, if your first thought is “one who pays,” you’re not going deep enough!
Here are three of mine as an example:
- Have an ongoing need for content
- Have a marketing department
- Have a process for working with freelancers
Over the years, I’ve learned that I prefer working with established organizations who have processes in place. Other writers I know enjoy the excitement of working with new start-ups.
As you gain experience, your criteria may change and that’s okay. What works for you today, may not work for you in three years. The beauty of the writer’s life is that you have the freedom to choose!
Once you have that criteria, put together your “would you like some ice cream” approach to reach out to those prospects.
Then start sending out those invitations.
And remember, if they say no, it’s no big deal. They just weren’t ready for ice cream right now.
But if they say yes, you’ve got yourself a client.
What about you? Have you thought about creating criteria for your clients before?