Posts Tagged ‘Copyblogger’

6 Figures in Year Two: One Writer’s Success Tips

Posted in Blog on October 23rd, 2013 by Editor – 39 Comments

Ring the BellBy Shawndra Russell

If you’re a writer, you should be skipping in the streets, because we are needed more than ever.

Evidence: I was able to ramp my writing business to six figures by the end of my second year freelancing.

Some writers bemoan the fact that magazines and newspapers pay less per word or that attention spans are shorter.

If you want to write books, well, that’s a lost cause, too. More books than ever are published every day, so you have no chance of standing out, and fat advances have disappeared.

Plus newsrooms are shrinking, and becoming a staff writer is nearly impossible because no one hires salaried writers, right?

Snap out of it


This is the best time to be a writer because our words are needed more than ever. Copyblogger boldly declared  2013 The Year of the Online Writer, and I wholeheartedly agree.

As everyone desperately tries to make their voices heard, well-written, useful writing stands out.

The never-ending need for high-quality content means professional writers can write not only for media outlets but every single business on the planet — everyone is now in the business of storytelling and content marketing.

Maybe this isn’t the kind of writing you had in mind, but why not embrace it?

I’ve rapidly built a six-figure writing business because I write freelance articles and publish books — and provide content services for businesses. The content might be a tweet, Facebook post, or blog post, but no matter what it is, each item boils down to delivering stories in clever, engaging ways.

Expand your horizons

So how did I start landing these business-writing gigs? I pitched entrepreneurs the same way I do editors.

Small business owners are so overwhelmed that they aren’t creating job postings seeking writers. They just continue to push this need aside or slap something together and publish it themselves. The business owners I’ve approached have all been thrilled to hand over their content to-do lists.

I’ve written newsletters, blog posts, social media content, emails, website copy, brochure copy, guest blogs, and press releases for these busy entrepreneurs, and you can, too.

The very first entrepreneur I pitched was someone I’d read about in a local magazine. I emailed saying I loved his product and asked if he needed help with digital marketing. I worked for a low rate so I could get one client under my belt, and the rest is history.

I continue to work with small businesses but have also worked as the social media manager for a $2 billion global snack food brand. As writers, the possibilities for new sources of income are all around us.

Be the hero

You can be the hero for these business owners.

You can see if they don’t have a current blog, don’t have a solid social media presence, or need new website copy, and then approach them with your services. And you can deliver what they need because you are a content master.

Maybe this type of content is different than what you typically tackle, but if you want to break into six-figure earnings, you’ll accept the challenge and embrace these alternative revenue streams.

Have you tried online writing for businesses? How did you land your first gig? Tell us in the comments.

Shawndra RussellShawndra Russell is tourism and lifestyle brand journalist and the Savannah correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. She recently released the eguide How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days

How to Give Your Freelance Marketing Some GAS

Posted in Blog on May 8th, 2013 by Carol Tice – 22 Comments

Antique gas pumpEver send a pitch letter to a prospective freelance writing client and not get a peep of response?

I’ve been hearing from a lot of writers about this issue lately.

It seems like writers send a query letter or letter of introduction, don’t get a response, and then go into a depressive funk for six months.

That’s not a way to make a living as a writer. You’ve got to keep pitching.

Also, if you’re never hearing back… if you’re smart, you seek to learn how to do better marketing, improve your odds of getting a response.

My tips for improving your pitch

There is some basic advice I find myself offering repeatedly in these situations, and it goes roughly like this:

“You spend three paragraphs of this letter of introduction talking about yourself — places you’ve written, awards you’ve won, your writer website, your recent college graduation, and so on.

“Then, you ask if they might hire you. Basically, it’s all about you.

“You need to cut that down to a sentence or two, and replace it with more information about how you will solve the client’s problems.

“You seem to be using a template for these queries, where you say pretty much the same thing every time, with just a few minor changes. That’s often not a successful approach. Good pitches require studying your target and then talking to them in their own writing style, about their particular challenges and how you can solve them.

“If you research this prospect and find out what’s missing from their website, and pitch them that precise thing, you will up your odds of getting a response. For instance, read that magazine’s guidelines and see what topic in their mission statement hasn’t been covered much lately, and then develop an article idea about that exact thing.

“Use your research — whether it’s an abandoned blog you noticed, or lack of case studies — to show the prospect you ‘get’ their business or publication and really want to work with them.”

Then the writer redoes their pitch as a customized piece written in that market’s voice, about exactly what the customer needs, and presto!

Next thing I know, they’re writing to let me know they got a response.

The magic of caring

Until now, that was my usual, long-winded explanation of how to angle your marketing pitch to get a client interested enough to pick up the phone or email you.

Last week, at SOBCon in Chicago, I learned a much more concise way of thinking about your marketing that can really put booster rockets on your effort and up your response rate.

Copyblogger’s Sonia Simone summed up how to get marketing results this way:

“You’ve got to give your marketing some GAS. You know — Give A Shit.”

Well, that hits it on the head and takes up a lot less space, doesn’t it?

Most freelance writers’ marketing is all about them. It telegraphs that your main focus is you — you need a gig! Please, please hire me, because I need more income!

The thing is, prospects don’t care about that.

They care about their problems.

Instead, turn that around and present yourself as someone who identifies with their company culture, recognizes their pains, and approaches prepared to help solve them.

Spend most of your time talking about what you noticed about what they’re doing, and where you could help them do better.

And everything will change.

Does it take a little more effort to do that homework so you can show you give a rip about clients? Yes, it does.

But a bit more work to land the client is a better way to spend your time than sailing off queries into space that will never get a response.

Does your marketing show you care? Leave a comment and tell us how you give it GAS.


Here is All You Need to Know to Write a Sales Page

Posted in Blog on October 24th, 2011 by Carol Tice – 14 Comments

In a podcast I did a few weeks ago, GhostwriterDad Sean Platt said something that really stuck with me about how writers can beat the recession:

“If you can learn how to write copy that sells products, you’ll never go hungry.”

It’s so true. If you help companies make money with your words, you will always be in demand. There’s no recession for writers who can help drive sales.

Now, if you’re like I was a few years back, you may think writing sales copy for companies is akin to selling your soul to the devil. Joining the Dark Side of the Force.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret — if you focus on companies that sell things you like, you may well find it challenging and fun. I know I do. And I’ve yet to do a client project where I felt like I needed to take a shower afterwards.

Selling doesn’t have to feel sleazy. Just stick to the facts, and you won’t go wrong.

Have I convinced you to jump in and add writing sales copy to your arsenal of talents?

I think every writer should learn this skill — after all, you need to write a page like this on your own writer website to sell your writing services. Why not learn to excel at this skill and make more money doing it for others, too?

This is not a super-difficult type of writing to learn. In fact, I’m going to teach you the basics right here in this post.

Here is what you need to know to write a sales page:

Learn the basic structure. I’ve seen the format of a sales letter boiled down to this simple set of points:

“Here’s what I’ve got.

Here’s who I am.

Here’s what you get.

Here’s what customers say about it.

Here’s why you need it now.”

Here are a few tips on how to convey these important facts:

Listen to your customer. Aspiring copywriters can be baffled by how, exactly, they will write a sales letter the client will love. The answer is simply to buttonhole a key company leader and get them to talk to you about what they do. Ask them loads of questions — what makes them different from competitors? What do they love most about what their product or service does? Note key phrases they use. Then, make the letter sound just like them. Works every time.

Sell benefits, not features. What will the thing do for the buyer? That’s your emphasis. Read it from the consumer’s point of view and answer the WIIFM question — what’s in it for me?

Expensive products need longer sales pitches. If you’re selling a $1,000 product, you should write a long page. A $50 product might work better with a short page.

Include testimonials. Ideally, with pictures of the customers, which have been proven to increase conversion rates. You can blab all day, but one short testimonial from a celebrity — or barring that, someone relatable by the customers — will sell it better in just a few lines.

Remove objections. Think of the reasons customers might hesitate to buy this item now, and then address their concerns.

Offer a guarantee. Again, lots of study data shows that the guarantee offer removes objections and helps you make sales.

Use powerful language. As it happens, I recently came across this helpful list of the best words to use in sales copy.

Create scarcity. Are there only 50 of these left? Does the price go up tomorrow? Or maybe, as with the Freelance Writers Den, the doors are closing on Friday? If so, you’re going to want to prominently feature this fact.

Need to learn more about copywriting basics? Ask your questions in the comments below.

10 Best Articles for Writers – September 2011

Posted in Blog on September 28th, 2011 by Carol Tice – 14 Comments

Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of freelance writers who have great portfolios but low incomes. Which I guess is why I have sales and marketing on the brain in this edition of our monthly Top 10.

These are all pretty recent vintage…seems like the last 10 days or so were red-hot for interesting articles on the business of writing. Lots of new folks here to follow, too.


  1. 10 Ways to Get Your Affiliates to Sell the Crap Out of Your Product by Barrie Davenport on A-List Blog Marketing. This one makes a nice companion piece to my own recent post of affiliate marketing tips.
  2. Action! Can Our Hollywood Experiment Help You Make Money Blogging? by Joke and Biagio, on Problogger. You think you’ve heard every way to monetize a blog…but this couple have a unique model. Check it out.
  3. Cold Calling for Freelance Writers by Linda Stephens, on The WM Freelance Writers Connection. This one makes a nice complement to the recent guest post I had here about cold calling by volume cold-caller Sarah Maurer.
  4. Create an About Page for Your Blog That’s a Secret Freelance Sales Weapon — by Michael Martine of Remarkablogger. Most writer website About pages truly suck. They start, “I’ve wanted to write ever since I was 5…” and go downhill from there. Here’s a guide to how to give your About page a radical rewrite and make it into a real client magnet.
  5. Does Your Networking Come Across as Stalking? by Jennifer Mattern on All Freelance Writing. Learn how to keep those boundaries healthy, people.
  6. Sickly Sales Page? Try These 3 Copywriting Remedies by Amy Harrison on Copyblogger. I love the simple analogy here for how to make sales pages better. A great short course here on copywriting, all in one post.
  7. Should You Unfollow Everyone on Twitter? — by Laura Click of Blue Kite Marketing, on Pushing Social. Radical action! But I’ve been thinking about doing it, since I don’t have time to scroll back through the 500 people I’m following to cull the list down. To me you want it to be just about 3-4 dozen terrific thought leaders, so you have an amazing tweetstream. But then I keep spotting new people I think I should check out…and the next thing you know, it’s a mess again.
  8. Stop Selling and Start Telling — How Clarity Trumps Persuasion for Getting Sales by D Bnonn Tennant on KISSmetrics. This one makes a nice complement to Amy’s post above.
  9. The Top 5 Things That Bother Me About This Headline by Alissa Walker on Good Technology. Finally, someone discusses how Google has crushed the creativity out of article headlines.
  10. Word Count Limit Got You Down? Try These 6 Editing Tricks by Barbara Diggs on The Expat Freelancer. Here’s a great, short primer on how to write tight — which you should do whether your hitting your word limit or not.

Bonus news: For those who don’t already know, Copyblogger’s Jon Morrow has started a new site, Boost Blog Traffic. It’s not launched yet. But you want to register. If you have not yet experienced Jon’s genius, check out this awesome trailer on the home page for why you want to sign up .

Read any good articles for writers lately? Leave some more links in the comments and add to my list.