When I started out as a freelancer, I didn’t have a plan B.
I’d made a huge jump from a 20-year career as a pharmacist to setting up my own copywriting business.
But I was full of optimism.
I knew I could write.
There was just the ‘minor’ issue of getting found, getting known, and getting hired. You know, the elements that actually bring money into a business.
But, I thought, how hard can marketing a freelancing gig actually be?
Obscenely hard, as it turns out…
(when you don’t know how)
Here’s where I went horribly wrong during that first year:
1. I built a website and expected them to come
Them = clients.
And, spoiler alert, they didn’t.
I was swamped not with a sudden influx of wonderful clients, but a dawning dread that I’d jumped headfirst into a freelancing business without the skills to build that business.
2. I tried to be everything to everyone
No surprises there. I’m a staunch people-pleaser.
You need a copywriter? I’d say.
No problem! I can write your website, blogs, social content, email campaigns, newsletters, video scripts, product descriptions, social media profiles, ad campaigns, industry articles, staff comms…
“Oh, you do all that?”
It turns out, prospective clients feel more secure hiring a “specialist”, not a “generalist”.
3. I hid behind my laptop
And in doing so, I became lost in a vast ocean of faceless copywriters.
I wanted to wholeheartedly believe that my sterling way with words would sell itself. How would showing my face make a difference?
But the truth is, prospects need to know, like, and trust me before they’re ready to become a paying client.
And how can anyone possibly know, like, or trust a faceless freelancer?
4. I wished, waited, and hoped for referrals
Despite starting my business with a total of 0 network contacts.
And although I used to blame this “unlucky break” for why I struggled to get my business cranking, I now realise that anyone can influence the amount and quality of referrals coming their way.
Even people starting out with an empty network.
5. I only wrote “how-to” content
I figured people needed to understand the inner workings of my craft to hire me to perform them.
When, in fact, they couldn’t have cared less.
With a lot of trial and error, I realised my prospects resonate with “problem-aware” and “solution-aware” content – posts that highlight (and solve) their challenges, fears, and desires.
Not content about how to become a shit-hot copywriter themselves.
6. I let my prospects decide my value
I made my rates a feature of my copywriting offers.
But in doing so, I was trying to sell prospective clients on my fee rather than the outcomes my writing would offer their business.
Then, in a desperate attempt to sign more clients, I devalued my services even further by cutting my rates.
I now focus on the outcomes I deliver – which are always worth a great deal more in the long run than whatever dollar value I put on them.
So there you have it.
And if a copywriter/marketer can make all these common blunders, you should never feel bad for falling into any of these marketing traps yourself.
We don’t know what we don’t know, right?
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