How To Sell Copywriting
You’re a copywriter wanting to market your services. There are many types of projects that fit under the copywriting umbrella—ad copy, promotional copy, product descriptions, and more—but the purpose is always the same: copywriting is designed to sell. And you know your skills can help businesses to sell.
The problem is that you aren’t sure how to sell your own services. You want to attract clients, but your sales process may be a bit haphazard. It may be a bit unpredictable. You may not have a process at all.
So, how do you market your digital copywriting services? First, you must know what your potential client needs. Second, set your pricing according to the business problem your prospective client is facing. Third, develop a sales process that allows your prospective client to make the decision quickly and confidently.
This video and the article below will give you a streamlined baseline for how to think about selling your services more effectively. Let’s get started.
How Do I Market Myself as a Copywriter?
Let's start at the beginning: What is the most effective sales strategy for digital copywriting services? How should you be thinking?
I think there are two important points here.
- The first is to remember that the person who buys your copywriting services is a person. That person can reflect any age, gender, social status, and interest, but at the end of the day, it is a person trying to make a buying decision. Any information you offer is designed to help this person make that decision as quickly and as confidently as possible.
- The second major point is to remember that your best client is doing digital marketing already. There's some level of web presence that exists, and they're trying to optimize it.
So to think about that for a second, your best client might be:
- in the content business, like the Wall Street Journal, making thousands on storing thousands of articles on their site every day.
- in the e-commerce business, like Nike, selling thousands of skews every single day.
- in the software business, offering different kinds of apps and downloads and software tools.
- running a membership site, with the majority of their offering and interaction with clients behind a paywall.
Your best client may operate in one of these models or some hybrid of these models. But the point is that your best client already has an existing web presence, and they want you to help them better optimize, to get even more value from that presence.
Know What Clients Need
What do these clients need? What might they be looking to buy? Let's put them in three categories here:
- Beginner. The beginning client already has an existing client base, but their web presence may not reflect the way e-commerce is currently done, so they may use the phrase, “We want to put ourselves out there.” They want to use their web presence to push beyond their normal community, their normal physical location, their established organic opportunities.
So for them copywriting means expanded reach. The beginning client knows that they don't have the quality content they need, and they're willing to make the initial investment. It becomes your job to quantify what that core investment needs to be and what they can expect from that initial investment of time, energy, and money.
- Intermediate. The intermediate person has most likely made the initial investment, but it was an imperfect investment. They have some marketing copy, and it more or less works, but it could be better. Perhaps it’s outdated and doesn’t reflect their current offerings. Maybe it’s lackluster and needs some polishing. There is probably some version of a break/fix that needs to happen in their world.
Someone needs to look at the copy, look at the content, and fix what’s breaking so it happens more efficiently and they can begin to depend on it more. Do you know what I mean? The intermediate person more or less is looking for a break/fix solution.
- Advanced. The advanced client is looking for volume and/or speed. They already have ad copy, promotional copy, product descriptions, all of that. Their copy works and they know it works, but now they need more, or they want it to bring faster results. And they have metrics in place to measure those things. So they start using terms like ROI (return on investment) or ROAS (return on ad spend).
They're comfortable spending money, and they know they may have to make a significant investment, but there's a way that they measure the investment when it comes back. And so you've got to be willing to look at their situation, see what has the most opportunity for return, make the improvement and measure the return.
A Classic Mistake You Don’t Want to Make
Now here's a really important point that I have to call out here. It's a classic mistake that we make when we sell digital marketing-related services. It's important to sell to the sold, not to the stubborn. What you want to be able to do is sell to people who are already using written copy.
The mistake that we make as experts is that we see the opportunity—if a company would just do this, if a client would just do that—and so we begin to “evangelize” things to clients. The trouble is that the person you’re selling to hasn't already understood for themselves that an opportunity is present.
If you're selling to stubborn people, that means you have to convince them that having professionally written copy is a good idea. And if you have to convince them, that's heavy lifting on your part, and if you have to convince them, then they don't pay the premium for it.
You want people who are already sold on the idea that copywriting investments are profitable investments and that if they invest with you, they can see a compounded return on their effort. You want to sell the people who are already sold. Be careful of becoming an “evangelist” and selling to people who are stubborn.
How Should I Price My Copywriting Services?
Writing is one of the most difficult services to price—partly because there are many different kinds of writing (even different kinds of copywriting) and partly because there are many different ways a writer can charge. Charging per word is not generally recommended, but the basic framing of hourly, project-based, and retainer-based is always sound and will always be appropriate. You can choose from those three, as they relate to your clientele and to your company.
Let's look at project-based pricing with the help of this up-to-date guide. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on just two of the many categories of copywriting: email copy and web-page copy. Looking at rates for writing emails and newsletters, we can see fees ranging from $100 to $2,000 for a single email. Similarly, copy for web pages may cost anywhere from $100 to $3,000 per page.
In both cases, there is quite a spread. You can sell for more than that if you choose. You can sell for less than that if you choose. But you get an idea of where the sweet spot is for how the pricing of services is typically structured. If you think about it in project-based terms, it'll fit somewhere along this scale, typically in between $100 and $3,000 per email or web page.
Now let's talk about why that price range might exist. If you want to charge more for your services, make the prices go up, what do you have to do?
- Scope: You’ve got to be willing to take on more scope. These could be simpler projects, just done on a larger scale. So instead of writing one email per week, maybe you are writing three or five. Instead of writing web-page copy for one product line, you’re writing it for multiple product lines. Larger scope allows you to drive the price up.
- Complexity: If you want to drive the price up, you’ve got to take on more complexity. Maybe you're writing copy for only a few web pages, but you’re focusing on SEO keywords and sales conversion. You’re writing copy for fewer products, but the descriptions are more detailed. Well, those things make a project more complex, and that allows you to turn up the price of your services.
- Opportunity: Another element that allows you to charge more for your prices is opportunity. That could be a matter of revenue, or it can be a matter of cost. So if there's a marketplace opportunity that your client is aware of and your copywriting skills can help them acquire that opportunity, well, that's worth revenue to them. That's worth more to them.
If they know that not having professionally written copy on their website and in their marketing pieces will cost them money, if there's some sort of marketplace repercussion, they're aware of that cost. When you’re saving them from paying that price, again, that allows you to increase your own price.
So if you want to charge more for your services, be at the high end of the band, these are the kinds of things you need to watch for.
Now, what kinds of things drive the price down? If the price is cheaper, why might that be the case?
- Existing Copy: If your client has existing web content, if they have ad copy, if they already have assets that just need to be refreshed and updated, the project is easier to execute. There's no need for a premium to be paid if they've already paid the premium in the form of existing copy.
- Existing Organization: Another thing that can drive the price down is if your client has an existing organization. I'm talking about people. If they already have people in place to do the marketing, if they have workflows in place, then they don't need your marketing savvy; they just need your writing skills. Those things help keep the price down and a bit more manageable.
As you think about working with clients and finding a price point that makes sense, all of these options need to be considered, because at the end of the day you're trying to solve the problem facing your client. If your client has challenges that drive the price up, so be it. If your client has things in place that keep the price more moderate, so be it. What's most important is that your pricing reflects the scenario your client is experiencing.
What Should My Copywriting Sales Process Look Like?
If you're looking for a step-by-step process to sell your digital copywriting services, what might that look like? Well, it begins by identifying the right people. From there you make contact, that contact leads to a conversation, and that conversation becomes a closed sale. This is pretty much how the process works.
Now the mistake we make is that we normally have the wrong mindset as we move through these steps. Let's look at how you should be thinking as you take each step.
- Identification: When you identify people in the marketplace whom you may be able to serve, what you're looking for are problems you can solve. These are cases in which a company has an existing web presence, and you can tell by looking at their website and marketing pieces that the writing is not 100%; some things could be improved. So there's something about their scenario that reflects a problem to you.
- Contact: So when you reach out to make contact, the offer that you're making here is an offer to have a conversation. So if they need better writing, you ask, “Hey, would you like to talk about it?” That's all you're trying to do. You're not trying to sell in this context. You're just trying to see if a conversation makes sense.
- Conversation: When you talk to that person, you are confirming that the content issues that you see are actually a problem for them. If you're correct and the issues exist, you can move forward. If not, then you should try to understand what's really going on so you can propose the next course of action. This conversation is about confirming, not forcing their hand to move forward as a client.
- Sale: When they decide to become a client, when they decide to close, then the work begins immediately. You don't introduce any other bureaucracy; just get started writing better copy to solve the problem that you found in the first place.
Now, timeout for a brief sanity check here. I know that what you're looking at here looks really, really simple. We under-appreciate how simple and how elegant the sales process can be.
The number one mistake that we make is trying to force people down this chain of events. We're so focused on making our sale, hitting our numbers, getting that closed deal, that we don't leave enough space for the person on the other side to move down this process with us. So yes, this process can be quite simple, but it's really important to navigate it in a professional way so that both parties can be comfortable with the conclusion that's made in the end.
How Do I Acquire Clients for My Copywriting Business?
So if you're excited, you're focused and you want to start this process right now, what do you do? I recommend that you go with tried, true, and proven approaches.
- Go with friends and family. There are people in your network who know who you are and respect your writing skills, and it makes sense for you to reach out to friends and family first to get your initial point of momentum.
- Use social media. You have people who follow you, who have connected with you, who are in your online networks, and it just makes sense to leverage those networks to build on your initial momentum.
- Use freelance networks. There are various networks that are designed to put people in front of you who are ready to make the buying decision. You can bid on that work and get your initial opportunities from platforms like Upwork and others.
Are there nuances? Yes. Are there complexities? There certainly can be. But whatever process you choose to go forward with, what’s important is the essential insight that you're using your process to help this person make a buying decision. The easier you make that decision for this person, the faster they can say, “Yes,” and work can begin
What Should My Digital Copywriting Business Model Look Like?
You know, I’ve found that copywriters fit into one of two categories—valued copywriters and undervalued copywriters. Well-paid copywriters and underpaid copywriters. What’s the difference, and how do you make sure you’re on the valued side?
Two Main Types of Copywriters
I can see how a copywriter could be undervalued, because the work seems easy to do. I can type into a keyboard and create some copy and send it off. If I choose to outsource it, then it’s just because I don’t want to do it. You know what I’m saying? I don’t want to write that long article. I don’t want to write that long white paper, or whatever. I’ll just hire someone else to do it.
On the flip side, valued copywriters know that digital marketing is expanding every day. It involves more and more tools and strategies every single day. All of those strategies require some level of copy. The level of versatility required of a copywriter today is greater, broader than it has ever been before.
The rub for you is: How do you structure your services to show that you have that level of ability? How do you maintain your premium standing in all of that? Let’s look at a few examples.
Example Copywriting Service: Writing an Autoresponder Series
Let’s look at a really straightforward example. Let’s think about writing email follow-ups, like an autoresponder series. Before you go off writing an autoresponder series for anybody, let’s look at the process of getting that done. Show your client the methodology that you use to get to the highest level email followup copy you possibly can.
- Establish a measurable outcome. When you get to the end goal, what you have here should be measurable. It may be a number of messages you expect, a response you expect, an open rate you expect, a click-through rate you expect, what have you. In your process, everyone needs to know what you’re working toward, so we need an objective set of metrics we can all agree on before we get started.
Now you can begin to work backwards.
- Establish your process. You can’t measure anything until you actually have installed the copy somewhere. It has to be inside a platform to be sent out. You can’t put it into a platform unless it’s been drafted in some way. You’re going to have to draft it and get it approved by whoever is involved in that process.
Before that, the client has to send you some information. “Send me the current copy you’ve got, what you’ve thought about, what you’ve tried, et cetera. We can begin from there.”
The idea here is that you’re showing your client that there’s a process involved with getting to the end result. There’s no magic here. You need your client engaged in each of these steps. When you’re working with premium clients, they actually want to be engaged. They want to know what’s happening here.
You also need to reflect back to them that you can handle the process as needed. If they need follow-ups, if they need meetings, if other people need to see the copy, et cetera, you can handle that somewhere inside your process.
Example Copywriting Service: Writing a Video Sales Letter
Let’s look at another example: a video sales letter. At its simplest, a video sales letter is a series of slides with someone’s voice recorded over top of them.
Again, before you go launching into a video sales letter, you’ve got to show the client the process of getting to the highest level video sales letter possible. Keeping people’s attention for five minutes, seven minutes, 40 minutes, or whatever, is a lot harder than it sounds. You understand that. Reflect that in your process.
- Establish a measurable outcome. When you think about the video sales letter, there needs to be a series of objective metrics you and the client agree on before getting started. The video should be a certain length or a certain number of slides; it should get a certain response, or whatever. However you need to work, there should be objective metrics that you are prepared to be held accountable to.
Now, you can work backwards.
- Establish your process. You know what you want to have happen here. Going backwards, you’ve got to get this voice-over thing done. It has to be your client’s voice over these slides. It’s their business. You need a process for that.
Let’s go one step before that. If slides aren’t made, then no one can do the actual voiceover. Someone has to make the slides and get those approved.
Before that happens, you need to be clear on a client’s voice and tone. What do they want to communicate? What is most important? Establish those main bullet points.
Laying something out on a website so it looks cute is one thing. Being able to deliver your services in this way is something different. You need your own process for how you establish a client’s voice and tone and get to the end result efficiently, not after 19 different meetings.
Working forward this time, your process goes something like this:
- Officially establish the voice, tone, and major content points.
- Then you can move into drafting the slides. Use your templates, your tools, your tricks, all those things that copywriters know about, so you can effectively and efficiently create relevant slides and get them approved.
- Then you get to the voiceover, and here’s where it gets tricky. You know that any homework you give to the client is up for debate; you may or may not get it back on time.
What if, in your process, you set a date and time early on that says, “Hey. We’re going to do the voiceover together on X date, X time”? You don’t have to be there with them physically. You can be on the phone. You can do it via Skype. The point is to make sure that the client doesn’t break your timeline. You hold the client accountable. You’re there with them.
- Now the VSL can get launched when it’s supposed to.
- You can begin to measure your metrics.
Your job is to outline your process for the client so they know what their involvement is at each step. If you don’t show them this road map, they assume they can just send you some stuff and you’ll write something, and it’ll cost 200 bucks. You know that’s not fair nor appropriate.
If you’ll accept the challenge of getting this organized, if you present yourself with this level of professionalism, then your client will appreciate you as the premium-level service provider that you deserve to be.
You know, I've found copywriters to break out into one of two categories, either valued copywriters or undervalued copywriters. What's the difference and how do you make sure you're on the valued side? Stay tuned in this video.
Two Main Types of Copywriters
Hey. It's Alzay Calhoun with Coveted Consultant. Yeah. I find copywriters to break out into one of two categories. Well paid, valued copywriters and underpaid, undervalued copywriters. What's the difference? I can see the case for how someone may end up being an undervalued copywriter, because the work seems easy to do. I can type into a keyboard and create some copy and send it off. If I choose to outsource it, then it's just because I don't want to do it. You know what I'm saying? I don't want to write the long article. I don't want to write the long white paper, or whatever. I'll just hire that guy to do it.
On the flip, the valued copywriters know that digital marketing expands with every day. It involves more and more things and tools and strategies with every single day. All of those strategies require some level of copy. The level of versatility required in a copywriter in today's time is greater, broader than it has ever been before. The rub for you is: How do you structure your services to show that you have that level of ability? How do you maintain your premium standing in all of that stuff? Let's look at the board and see a few examples.
Possibility: Writing an Auto-Responder Series
Let's look at a really straightforward example. Let's think about writing email followup, like an auto responder series. Before you go off writing an auto responder series for anybody, let's look at the process of getting that done. Show your client the methodology that you use to get to the highest level email followup copy you possibly can. When you get to the end goal, what you have here should be measurable. Either it's a number of messages, or it is a response that you expect, or an open rate you expect, or a click through you expect, what have you. In your process, everyone needs to know what you're working towards, so there's an objective set of metrics we can all agree on before we get started. Now, you can begin to work backwards.
You can't measure anything until you actually have installed the copy somewhere. It's got to be inside a service to be sent out. It's got to get into a service. You can't put it in a service unless it's been drafted in some way. You're going to have to draft and get it approved by whoever is involved in that process. All right? Before that, the client's got to send you some information. Send me the current copy you've got, what you've thought about, what you've tried, et cetera. Then, we can begin from there.
The idea here is that you're showing your client that there's a process involved with getting to the end result. There's no magic here. You need your client engaged in each of these steps. When you're working with premium clients, they actually want to be engaged. They want to know what's happening here. You also need to reflect back to them that you can handle the process as needed. If they need followups, if they need meetings done, if they need ... Other people need to see the copy, et cetera. You can handle that somewhere inside your process.
Possibility: Writing a Video Sales Letter
Let's look at another example. Let's think about a video sales letter. Again, before you go launching into a video sales letter, you've got to show the client the process of getting to the highest level video sales letter possible. In its simplest video sales letter, is a series of slides with someone's voice being recorder over top of them. Keeping people's attention for five minutes, seven minutes, 40 minutes, or whatever, is a lot harder than it sounds. You understand that. Reflect that in your process. When you think about the video sales letter, there's got to be a series of objective metrics you could agree on before we get started. The video should be a certain length, certain number of slides. It should get a certain response, whatever. However, you need to work, there should be objective metrics that you are prepared to be held accountable to. Now, you can work backwards.
You know what you want to have happen here. Going backwards, you've got to get this voiceover thing done. It's got to be your client's voice over these slide. It's their business. You've got to get a process for that. Let's go one step behind that. If slides aren't made, then no one can do the actual voiceover. Someone's got to make the slides and get those approved. Before that, you've got to get clear on a client's voice and tone. What do they want to communicate? What's most important? Establish those main bullet points, et cetera.
Laying this out on a website so it looks cute is one thing. Being able to deliver your services in this way is something different. You need your own process for how you establish a client's voice and tone, and get there efficiently, not 19 different meetings. Officially establish their voice and tone and major content points. Then, you can move into drafting the slides. You use your templates, your tools, your tricks, all those things that copywriters know about, so you can effectively and efficiently create relevant slides and get them approved.
Then, you get here to the voiceover and you know that any homework you give to the client is up for debate. You may or may not get it back on time. What if, in your process, you set a date and time early on that says, "Hey. We're going to do the voiceover together on X date, X time." You don't have to be there with them physically. You can be on the phone. You can do it via Skype. The point is to make sure that the client doesn't break your timeline. You hold the client accountable. You're there with them. The VSO can get launched when it's supposed to. You can begin to measure your metrics.
Your job is to outline this for the client so they know what their involvement is at each step. If you don't show them this road map, they assume they can just send you some stuff and you'll make a letter, and it cost 200 bucks. You know that's not fair nor appropriate. If you'll accept the challenge of getting this organized and you'll present yourself with this level of professionalism, then your client will appreciate you as the premium level service provider that you deserve to be. I'll see you in the next video.