SEO client education: It’s your most important job

Client education is an SEO professional's most important jobIt doesn’t matter if you’re an SEO consultant, SEO copywriter, content writer, or social media coordinator that reads keyword reports – if you are helping clients with SEO, client education is your most important job.

In fact, I’d wager that if you’re struggling in your business as an SEO provider, client education is the missing piece.

Client education and managing expectations go hand in hand.

What do I mean by education? It can take many different forms, but the goal is to help your client get up to speed on what you provide, why you provide it, and how they’ll benefit. It’s not a sales page or a sales call. It’s helpful information that makes them a smarter buyer.

When I’ve had a difficult client relationship in my business, nine times out of ten it’s been because of a big difference between what the client expected and what I was able to provide. For example, as a copywriter, I can’t build your backlink profile or improve your offpage SEO. But I can make it easier for search engines to understand your site – and help your site visitors get where they need to go.

Client education is important in any industry – but it’s absolutely essential with SEO. Search engine optimization is complicated – and it’s always changing. Although the core of the process is growing a bit easier and less fragmented (pick your keywords, create great content and stay social), there is still enough change from update to update and from year to year for clients to get confused.

These changes can be jumped on by less than scrupulous providers to make a mountain out of a molehill. For example, when Panda and Penguin hit, questionable backlinks became the biggest problem. Unless a client has been paying someone to post backlinks to large, spammy directories there’s no reason they should be spending their time and their money on devaluing links when there aren’t many there begin with. They’d be far better off creating some great content and getting social to build genuine backlinks.

Since there are so many factors that go into SEO and some scum bags out there that are misleading their clients (either intentionally or unintentionally), your job as an educator becomes even more important.

Here’s how to do it, in three steps:

1. Always start the process with an intake call.

Do you get a lot of emails that look something like this: “Hi – I need some web copy. How much do you charge?”

Delivering a paragraph or two back with a quote isn’t going to have the impact that an official intake will. Start your relationship with a conversation so you can understand their SEO needs and determine if they need you, or another type of provider. This will also help you set the framework for how you are working together and let you explain the specific value that you provide.

2. Rather than being a service provider, think of yourself as a consultant.

It’s a subtle shift but an important one if you want to educate your client and take a more strategic role. When you’re “just a service provider” a client will expect to come to you, place an order and then get exactly what they ordered – no questions asked. These are the clients that will come to you saying “Here’s my keyword list and I want a blog article on X, Y and Z.”

But when you present yourself as a consultant, you’ll leave the door open to explain to them why jumping into blogging without a strategy is a bad idea. You can give them insight into how to make their pages better before they blog, how to create a blog strategy and how to improve their overall presence.

3. Produce lots of content – and then produce some more!

When it comes to copywriters and content, it’s often like the old story about the shoemaker’s children having no shoes. If your work days are filled with work for clients, how will you find time for your own work? Make time!

If you want to provide education for your SEO clients, you need to blog, create white papers and develop newsletters. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but it does have to be there. This way, your SEO clients are prequalified and educated before they reach out. They know the difference between bad SEO and good SEO because they’ve read it on your blog.

What steps are you taking to educate your clients?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing and owner of Six Degrees Content. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

image thanks to Digital Sextant (Brendan Riley)

Smart freelance writing tips – in Haiku

Freelance writing tips in HaikuRemember when I provided some SEO copywriting tips in Haiku? Well, I thought it would be fun to give freelance writers some advice – but do things a little differently.

The result? Here are 14 life, business-building and marketing tips for freelance writers – all in Haiku. Enjoy!

 

Don’t you think it’s time

To build a business you want

Nothing’s stopping you

 

Starting your business?

Consider your unique niche

What sets you apart

 

Choose your clients well

Give them high quality work

You will see success

 

Get paid what you’re worth

Don’t settle for less money

Know your bottom line

 

Hire savvy experts

Legal, accounting, business

They will help you grow

 

Market your business

You are your biggest client

Don’t let yourself down

 

Testimonials

You need them to prove your worth

Always ask for one

 

Embrace Google+

Verify your authorship

Don’t wait. Just do it

 

Measure yourself not

By others’ accomplishments

Set your own metrics

 

There will be bad times

They happen to everyone

They will also end

 

When things feel shaky

Take a break and recover

Things will feel better

 

Take care of yourself

Exercise, eat well and rest

It will keep you sharp

 

When the cash rolls in

Set up a savings account

You’ll be glad you did

 

Don’t let other folks

Get in the way of your dream.

Just do it. Right now

Yes, you can make more money in your freelance copywriting business without working so darn hard. The Copywriting Business Bootcamp  can help! Apply today – the next session starts June 3rd.

Scared of prospect calls? 5 confidence-boosting tips for freelance copywriters

Prepare for your freelance copywriting prospect call

You’ve got this! Here’s how to prepare for your freelance copywriting prospect call!

What can be the scariest part of a freelance copywriter’s job?

Picking up the phone and talking to a prospect for the very first time.

Writing web copy? Piece of cake. Sending an email? Easy peasey. Calling a lead to make sure they’re a good client for you?

Ouch. Email seems soooo much easier.

Phone time with a prospect is important. Sure, email is easy and quick – but you often don’t get all the answers you want. A 30-minute phone chat can provide insight into the client’s personality, highlight their real needs (as opposed to what they may say their needs are) and – most importantly – help you decide if you want to work with them.

The secret to successful prospect calls is preparation. When you’re prepared, you’ll feel less nervous. You’ll sound more confident. And you’ll be able to close more sales, more quickly. Even if you have to talk on the phone.

Here’s how to do  it:

– Don’t take calls out of the blue. Set an appointment instead. It’s great when prospects call and want to talk about their site RIGHT NOW. But setting an appointment is your best bet (especially if you have a hard time switching gears between writing and talking to people!) Instead of dropping what you’re doing, email (or call) the prospect back and set a time to chat. This extra time allows you to focus, prepare and do any necessary gear-switching.

– Gather basic information via email before the call.  Whether you’re talking with the client in a few hours – or a few days – try to get some information before the call. At the very minimum, you’ll need the URL. In a perfect world, the prospect shares what pages she’ll want you to write, what her current challenges are and her budget. This doesn’t often happen, but it’s great when it does.

When I’m setting the appointment, I ask for answers for up to three questions before the call. Do I always get the interview responses? No. But I’ve found that the more motivated (read: ready to buy) clients will respond. At this phase, resist the urge to send the client a multi-page questionnaire. You run the risk of the client ignoring your questionnaire – and your scheduled call time, too.

If you’re wondering, my three typical questions are….

Who is your target audience? Do you have multiple target audiences?

What are the top three benefits of your product/service?

What sites represent your main online competition? What are their URLs?

– Review the client’s site . What SEO writing elements are screaming “fix me?”  Do you see keyphrase stuffing? Is the content benefit-statement free? Is the blog gathering dust and there hasn’t been any recent posts for awhile? Make some quick notes – all of these tidbits represent great upsell opportunities. Don’t forget to write down what you do like, too.  It’s always better to tell a prospect, “You’ll want to look at X, but the way you’re doing Y is great,” than focus 100 percent on the negative.

Review the prospect’s interview answers.  Look for red flags like, “We don’t have much of a budget” or “We want to be #1 in Google for our search terms.”  If you’re a new freelance copywriter, a small budget could be OK – but if you’ve been freelancing for awhile, you may want to discuss pricing sooner rather than later. Additionally, if your prospect has unrealistic expectations (like #1 rankings for all their key terms), be prepared to provide a (gentle) reality slap.

Important note: If you feel the prospect isn’t a good match, send them an email and let them know. There’s no reason to hold a call if you know you can’t help them. It wastes their time – and it wastes yours, too.

Write down your talking points. Do you have a testimonial from a client in a similar vertical? Have you handled a similar situation before? Write down what you want the client to know. Forgetting to bring up an important point during the call is easy to do (trust me!)

You’ve reviewed the site, made some notes and gathered all the information you can. Now, it’s time for the sales call!  I’ll provide some of my favorite “how to sell to prospects” tips next week. Stay tuned!

Get advanced SEO copywriting and business-building training – plus, receive my SEO Copywriting Certification training for free. Sign up for the in-person training May 22nd. Hurry, early bird pricing ends April 30th at midnight!

 

Finding the fun in your freelance copywriting business

Find your freelance copywriting funYesterday, during what seemed to be my 100th pushup, my trainer said something interesting…

“I know you’re beat. You don’t want to do this. It’s time to find the fun and keep going.”

My first reaction was something like &##$&#. But then I saw her point – and realized the application “find the fun” has to freelance copywriters.

You see, owning a business is hard work. I’ve discussed before how some people think it’s all puppies and rainbows when they first start out. And then reality hits.

You have to pay taxes – even if that money was earmarked for something “more important” like a new laptop.

You have to do the writing – even if you’re tired, stressed and want to zone out in front of the TV.

You have to invoice clients – even though you would rather stick a needle in your eye than open your QuickBooks file.

You have to deal with late vendors, flaky clients and other irritating things.

Not to mention, you may love your business 99.9 percent of the time. But that .01 percent? Well…working as a Walmart greeter sounds more enjoyable.

The reality is that your freelance copywriting business will never be perfect. You won’t love it all the time. But you can certainly find the fun and silly in every situation.

For instance:

Were you hit with a huge tax bill? A friend of mine likes to remind me that paying taxes is a good thing. It means you made so much money that the IRS wants some too. Celebrate your success! Heck, you could even have a “I have to pay taxes” party!

Worried about how you’re going to pay taxes next year? Turn a scary unknown into a fun challenge. Pencil out different ways you can prepare  – like setting aside 15 percent of all income into a special “taxes” account. At the same time, you can set up a fun challenge like when you save X for taxes, you’ll take a couple days off. Or buy that laptop you really need.

Hate dealing with bookkeeping? Hire a super-fun accountant or bookkeeper to help. My E.A., Eva Rosenberg, has helped me for over 14 years. Eva has the remarkable ability to make the most grueling tax conversation fun and enjoyable. I come away from our conversations feeling inspired – and that’s worth every penny I pay her.

Are you exhausted and need a break? Build in a couple hours (or a couple days) of “just for you” time. Do whatever you feel like, whether it’s reading a book, getting a manicure or enjoying lunch without your laptop nearby. Once you’ve had some fun, your writing will flow much more easily.

Do you hate to sell? Think of ways you can reward yourself for every gig you land. Maybe you can get a massage, or purchase something that makes your heart sing.

Having a bad day? Stop what you’re doing and immediately focus on the positives – even if the only positive you can think of is, “Well, I brushed my teeth today” and “My cat didn’t wake me up at 3 a.m.” Depending how deep you are in your negativity hole, it may take some time to move from cranky into happy. Stick with it. It makes a huge difference.

Some aspects of our businesses are always going to suck. There’s no way around that. What we can do is control our reaction. We can search for the silly fun hidden at the center of our serious situation. Once we master training our brains, work (and life) will seem so much easier. Really.

What about you? How can you “find the fun” in one of your current freelance copywriting challenges?

Want to learn how to make your freelance SEO copywriting business more fun (and make more money, too!) Join me in Phoenix on May 22nd! Learn more about the in-person SEO Copywriting Certification training.

 

Feel weird talking about your copywriting rates? Get over it!

How to talk about your copywriting ratesDoes your stomach tighten up when someone asks, “What are your copywriting rates?”

The initial “money talk” can be hard for some freelance copywriters (both experienced and newbies.) I’ve seen copywriters go from confidently talking about their successes to saying something like, “I charge $150 per page – is that OK with you?”

Argh.

I’ve even seen freelancers talk to a prospect for hours, send them multiple emails and start brainstorming copy ideas…all without having the rate discussion. If the gig doesn’t work out, the writer feels burned.”Why did I spend so much time trying to impress this client when this person can’t even afford me?”

Does this sound like you?

If so, it’s time to get over the money stuff. Right now.

I get it. I really do. Talking about money can feel uncomfortable and weird. Growing up, the statement “you never talk about money” was burned into my brain. That can be a hard habit to break.

Plus, you want to bond with a new prospect, learn about their needs and build a relationship. Bringing up the money question can sometimes feel tacky or greedy. I’ve even had writers tell me, “I don’t want my client to think that they’re nothing but a big dollar sign. I’d rather not bring it up.”

Here’s the problem your rate reticence is causing:

1. If your rates are outside of what your client can pay, waiting until the last minute wastes everyone’s time. Not just your time – but your prospect’s time, too.

2. When you don’t sound confident about your rates, it’s like a flashing red beacon that screams, “I may work for less if you ask.” If you constantly have prospects ask, “Are you sure that’s the lowest you can go,” it could a sign that you need to change your approach.

Here’s how boost your copywriting rates confidence:

– Give yourself a pep talk. If you’re an established copywriter, remind yourself of your client success stories. Remember that you really are all that and a bag of chips – and worth every penny!

If you’re a new copywriter, think of all the copywriting books you’ve read, videos you’ve watched and blog posts you’ve perused. You may not have success stories (yet,) but you’ve spent hours learning your craft.

– Practice giving a rate range like,”My rates are between $X and $Y per Web page.” Don’t just practice saying it in your head. Practice saying it out loud in front of a mirror until it easily rolls off your tongue. If you can bring up the rate range talk earlier rather than later, you can quickly prequalify your prospect and save everyone some time.

– Consider asking a friend to role play with you. Yes, I know it feels weird to role play. Just know that a little practice can make a huge impact.

You can even have your friend throw out different scenarios like, “Can you reduce your fees,” or “I have a lot of work down the road – can you discount your rate this one time?” The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel when the situation really happens (And it will. Trust me.)

Does talking about money feel strange? Sure. Can you get over it and learn how to do it with style and grace? You bet!

Now go out there and land those clients!

Need a copywriting confidence boost? Why not get Certified in SEO copywriting? Learn more about this industry-endorsed training program!

 

 

Clearing your own path to freelance copywriting profits

Interview with Pam Foster on her niche copywriting experienceToday we feature an interview with Pam Foster, author of The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits and one of the expert instructors of the Copywriting Business Boot Camp.

As a highly successful freelance SEO copywriter focusing on the pet industry, Pam has long been a proponent of niche copywriting, and teaches one of the Boot Camp training modules on niche market specialization.

In this interview, Pam discusses her experience with niche copywriting, as well as why she made the move from her remarkable freelance pet copywriting business to her present in-house position.

Why do you tell freelance copywriters they should absolutely market themselves in a niche industry?

In my experience, being in a niche market brings three main benefits to your copywriting business:

1) You know exactly who you’re marketing yourself to. It’s much easier to create a prospects list, join a trade association where you can offer your services, network in LinkedIn Groups, and so on.

2) You set yourself apart from other writers and you get FOUND more often. For instance, if you’re the only SEO copywriter at a trade association conference, you can just bet you’ll get inquiries from all kinds of marketers attending the show. Plus when your website is optimized for THAT industry, you’re likely to be the only one (or among just a few) who show up on page 1 in Google search results. This means more prospects will find you!

3) Clients are so happy and relieved to find a copywriter who understands their business. You get their audience and their world, and this is worth gold to a marketer because they don’t have to waste time training you on their industry. Therefore, you can charge more for this value.

Is there enough opportunity for work if you focus on one niche market?

If you choose a niche that’s hot and thriving, such as software, senior care, gaming, sports, healthcare and many others – you’ll find clients that serve consumers, other businesses, possibly the government, and other markets within the niche. Plus most industries have a wide variety of retailers, suppliers, service companies, franchises, etc. Hot markets are FULL of opportunity!

And think about it. How many clients can you manage at any one time, or even in a year? Maybe a dozen? You don’t need hundreds of clients to run a successful and satisfying business. You just need a few.

Doesn’t it get boring to work in just one industry?

In my experience, no way.

Each client has his or her own products, services, market, mission, position and value within their industry. Plus each client has different needs/requests for you. One client could ask you to write blog posts twice a month, discussing the latest technology advances in their field. Another could have you optimizing their retail/e-commerce pages. Yet another client might need a series of emails and landing pages… or a whole new website. It’s never dull!

What’s been the most powerful way to attract new clients in your niche?

I have three ways that have worked fairly evenly.

The first is my own site. Using the Certified SEO Copywriting skills I developed through Successworks, I was able to optimize my niche-focused website, which includes about a dozen pages that talk about the services I offer my niche market.

Second, I’ve been blogging for three years, providing tips for marketers in my niche market. These blog posts have helped prospects find me in search engines.

And third, I’ve worked hard to connect with lots of industry professionals on LinkedIn and via trade associations. Those connections have paid off through referrals and work.

What’s the most surprising outcome of your niche focus?

Getting hired by one of my clients for a new full-time position they just created! (This just happened in January.)

I had been working with them as a freelancer for about three years, and last summer they told me they have enough content-marketing/writing work for someone to manage full-time. They were looking for a writer to join their staff.

When they mentioned this to me, I said, “I’m interested!” This surprised them and made them happy because I know their business inside and out. So we talked about it for a couple months and then it all worked out. I started in January this year and I’m thrilled!

Most copywriters dream about making the transition from their in-house position to working for themselves full-time. What motivated you to move from a successful freelance copywriting business to an in-house gig?

After about six years of being a freelancer, I was feeling too isolated. Even though I really appreciate writing in a quiet home office, I was yearning to be part of a team again. Ultimately I do enjoy collaborative problem solving and building something together… and while I was able to find that collaborative satisfaction with my clients, I was a bit envious of people who are part of a true working family.

So, when the opportunity came up recently to consider joining one of my pet-industry clients in a permanent content-management role, I jumped at it. Now I get to telecommute from my home office and do my best work, but I’m also part of an incredible team — we’re all working together to grow and thrive.

Finally, I’m keeping some of my freelance clients and doing that work on the side, with my employer’s permission. It’s the best of both worlds for me!

What has been the most challenging aspect of moving from freelance to in-house SEO copywriting?

My new job has plopped me knee-deep into LOCAL SEO and the SOCIAL aspects of search – two things I hadn’t been as concerned with before. So now I’m jumping in to learn these things as well.

Thanks to Heather’s ongoing certification calls and other resources, I’ve been able to get up to speed fairly quickly.  It’s a blast to learn new aspects of online copywriting. We never stop learning, which is OK with me!

More about Pam Foster

Pam Foster is the Managing Editor of Content & Communications at LifeLearn, Inc. She is the author of The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits, and one of the first freelance copywriters to become certified in SEO through SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program. As a Certified SEO Copywriter and Sr. Content Marketing Consultant, Pam operated via ContentClear Marketing and still runs PetCopywriter.com. You are welcome to network with Pam via LinkedIn.

photo thanks to Mosman Council

Discover how to run a thriving freelance copywriting business! Sign up for the Copywriting Business Boot Camp and learn more from Pam Foster and 11 other business-building experts! Hurry – classes start Monday, April 1st!

 

What baseball & poultry can teach you about handling SEO clients

How to apply concepts from baseball and poultry in handling difficult SEO clientsWhat do you do when you’ve got an SEO copywriting client with whom you don’t see eye-to-eye?

Perhaps you’re developing new content or maybe you’re just taking direction and making straightforward tweaks to existing copy, but at some point, your client asks you to do something you know is a bad idea.

Sometimes it’s because your client thinks she is an expert in not only her own business, but yours as well. Sometimes it’s because she’s trying to help but is simply misinformed or has information that’s out of date.

Either way, you know your ideas are going to be the more effective, but you don’t want to risk offending or angering your client by being rude about it.

Here are some tips on championing your own, superior ideas while making your client feel respected, comfortable, and enthusiastic:

If the idea’s a turkey

When the client’s idea is something that clearly won’t work but she is pushing you hard to do it anyway, vent to a disinterested third party before you address it with a client. This way you get to say all the snarky, insulting things you want, and get them out of your system so you can collect yourself before you ruin an otherwise perfectly good client relationship.

One funny example I can share with you is when a former client of mine really, really wanted to publish almost a dozen pages on his website that would feature “articles” brimming with relevant keywords.

He had no intention of publishing content that was well-written, useful, or necessarily relevant to his audience, and he didn’t even have plans to promote the content. He merely wanted to have the keywords all over the website so that, theoretically, the site’s Google ranking would rise.

Of course, anyone who’s read a little bit about Google’s Panda update knows that publishing low-quality content is pretty much worthless. It took me a few deep breaths not to yell about this particularly “fowl” idea.

Don’t be a lame duck

You may be just the hired help, but permitting a client to steamroll you even one time is dangerous because that will set a precedent for the client to do so all the time.

If you believe that the client’s idea will be detrimental to her business, steel yourself to say something. She hired you because she respects your expertise, so now is the time to show it off. Furthermore, you might be held responsible when things backfire down the road, so protect yourself by putting your reservations in writing.

Don’t be chicken either

You should be working on content that you’ll be proud to put in your portfolio, so don’t be afraid to stand up for it.

Your reputation as an effective copywriter could take a beating if you put out material that’s weak, not in keeping with best practices, or otherwise low quality. Don’t let a fear of upsetting your client deter you from raising the issue.

Show off your slugging percentage

Let’s say your client insists you use absolutely perfect schoolmarm grammar despite the fact that her target audience is unpretentious, regular people with average educations. You know that type of language will alienate prospects, so hit the books yourself.

Do your due diligence and provide your client with evidence from your own work with other clients showing how colloquial wording is more effective than flawless grammar.

Three strikes & you’re out

My rule of thumb for persuading a client to drop their bad ideas in favor of my superior ones is borrowed from baseball. You can argue – politely! – no more than three times for your ideas, but if you’re shot down all three times, you have to let it go. Either the client is too stubborn or you need to improve your persuasion tactics!

One last piece of advice: Always allow your clients to explain why they want you to implement their ideas because often the reasons they have can help you lead them to an understanding of why their ideas won’t work and which ones will.

When you know what their reasons are, you can come up with solutions to the problem rather than appear to be arguing for the sake of argument.

 

About the Author ~ Siân Killingsworth

Siân Killingsworth is a freelance copywriter, content curator, and social media manager. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she blogs about marketing for small business at www.sianessa.com and spends a lot of time studying various social media channels to guide her clients with best, freshest marketing practices. When Siân isn’t writing, she enjoys discovering elegant wine bars, traveling, and working on her lifelong quest for the perfect prawn burrito. Find her on TwitterFacebook, or email her at siankillingsworth@gmail.com.

 

photo thanks to allygirl520 (allison)

Upgrade your skill set and boost your income! Learn the latest SEO copywriting and content marketing best practices with SEO Copywriting Certification training.

 

Should you dive or wade into a freelance copywriting business?

High Dive Video Post : 031113Greetings and welcome to the final installment of Heather’s “how to start an SEO copywriting business” video series!

Last week, Heather discussed some questions you need to ask yourself if you think that you want to launch a freelance copywriting business. Today, she addresses how to make the leap!

Typically, freelance copywriters start up their businesses in one of two ways – by just taking the plunge, or by slowing easing into their new enterprise.

Here, Heather addresses the pros and cons of each approach. Tune in to learn which way makes the most sense for you!

The first way: Take the plunge

The first way that people will approach starting up their business is to just take the plunge: they quit their job one day then start their freelance copywriting business the next.

This is the big fantasy about making your new freelance copywriting lifestyle happen. I did this with my business. I was working for a company and I quit with $100 in my pocket.

I started my freelance SEO copywriting business a couple weeks later. For me, taking the plunge was successful – but I was also younger, had fewer responsibilities, and there was a lot more going on at the time to where it stacked the odds in my favor.

For you, it may be a completely different scenario.

So first let’s consider the pros and cons of diving right in…

Pros:

– You can focus 100% on building your business.

You don’t need to worry about having one foot in working at a “real job” and one foot in your business. You can focus.

Cons:

(And these are pretty heavy duty cons…)

– You probably won’t have a stable income for awhile.

Although you will read ads that claim you’ll start making $20,000 in your first month, this is not a typical experience.

In a lot of cases, people are losing money for a few month before they make a profit, because on top of losing your steady paycheck…

– You will have expenses.

You may need to buy a new computer, you will need a website, you’ll need to contact an attorney, get business cards – all of those things that cost money that were covered in the last video.

– It will take time to build your brand (unless you are already established.)

Just because you’re new on the market doesn’t mean that everyone will be thinking “Oooo! I must work with him or her!” It takes some time…and…

This can be highly risky if you don’t have a financial safety net.

If you went through the questions to ask yourself last week (on planning for a successful launch), and thought “Okay, I’ve got money in the bank and I can ride on this for awhile”  – cool!

But if you’re already feeling pretty tight, taking the plunge may not be the best way to start off. Instead, you might want to…

The second way: Have a “real job” and freelance in your free time

As with diving right in, here are some pros and cons of wading into launching your business.

Pros:

– You have a stable income while you build your business.

And that is wonderful! So even if your freelancing income goes up and down, you know that you’re getting a paycheck every couple of weeks.

– You can build your business gradually and with less stress.

One of the hardest ways to build your business is when you are scared to death that you’re going to be living under the bridge in a couple of months because you don’t have money to live.

So keeping your “real job” eliminates the stress of financial uncertainty and makes it easier for you because it is…

– Much less risky.

Now, a look at the cons…

Cons:

– You will work long hours.

You’ll be working at your “real job” during the day, only to come home and handle client projects at night.

– It may be hard to communicate with clients.

There may be some clients that you won’t be able to work with because they’ll need to meet with you during your “real job” work hours.

And finally…

– Some employers will not let you freelance.

This is something you’ll definitely want to ascertain, especially if you’re already writing content for your employer.

Although it may be tempting to be sneaky and freelance on the side, figuring no one will find out, and it’s in violation of company policy…well, you could be fired and that’ not a scenario you want!

Ultimately, the option you choose is up to you.

You need to evaluate how much risk you can take, how much money you have in the bank, and how long it’s realistically going to take you to get up and running before you actually start generating the income you need.

Thanks for joining me! As always, if you have a question or comment about this video post – or if you just want to reach out and say hi – I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at heather@seocopywriting.com, or find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

image thanks to cliff1066™ (Cliff)

Learn more about how to successfully launch your own freelance copywriting business from 12 of the world’s experts! The next Copywriting Business Boot Camp starts April 1st

Launching your freelance copywriting business: plan for success!

You need to plan before you can successfully launch your copywriting businessGreetings! In today’s installment of the How to start an SEO copywriting business video series, Heather addresses the subject in the broadest sense. That is: how and where do you begin? What steps do you need to take?

In her preceding video posts about starting a copywriting business, Heather discussed how to: define a niche market, ask for a writing deposit, deal with writing revisions, stand firm by your rates, protect yourself with a contract (no matter the size of the gig), and hone in on the services to offer your clients.

Here, she zeroes in on the overarching question: I want to start a freelance copywriting business. What do I do now?

Developing a plan is crucial

The smartest thing that you can do if you want to launch your own business is to develop a plan before you do it.

I’ve talked to many copywriters who have literally quit their job one day and started their freelance business the next! And while many were successful eventually, it proved to be a huge struggle at the beginning because: they were trying to get income in the door, it was an expensive time as their business was brand new, and they weren’t clear about who they wanted to work with…

So by developing a plan first, you can help ensure that you’ll be more successful more quickly! Here are five questions to ask yourself:

– Do you have a financial cushion so you can pay expenses + extra?

If you’re working at a real job now and you quit that job to start your own business, cool! But where’s the money going to come from?

Be realistic in asking yourself about this. Don’t set yourself up by thinking “Well I can cut expenses and only live on $500 a month.” If that’s not possible, that’s not possible! You’ll have to figure out some other ways to generate income while you’re launching your business. (We’ll talk about that more next week).

– Do you have funds for site design, business cards and other marketing materials?

In considering this question, you’re taking into account business start-up expenses, not just living expenses.

With business essentials like your website, you want to get them done correctly the first time. You don’t want to have to go the cheap route, thinking you’re going to learn to build your own site even if you don’t know what you’re doing, or get free business cards that have “printed free by X” at the bottom of them.

You’ll want to plan on having that money set aside so you can have a really nice, integrated branding strategy in place before you start.

– Can you launch with clients, or will you start from scratch?

I know some copywriters who have quit their job and then their ex-employer became a client – so they were able to start their business with a little bit of money coming in.

Other people are starting exactly from scratch, and so they need to figure out their target market, who they want to work with, and also how long it’s going to take before they get money in the door.

Which brings us to the next question…

– How much money do you need to make?

Do you need to replace your existing income? Can you possibly bring in a little bit less, or do you need to make even more?

Really give this question careful consideration, and again, be honest with yourself.

– Do you have a business/marketing plan?

If not, this is the time to create one!

Again, it’s about not starting out cold, figuring you’re going to be able to make thousands of dollars right off the bat.

The smartest thing you can do is first figure out what your target market is, what your unique selling proposition (U.S.P.) is, what kind of services to offer – all of those dimensions covered in previous videos – and then you will know what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, and really be ready to rock and roll!

Thanks for tuning in!

If you’d like to learn more about how to start a freelance copywriting business, you can get free advice delivered right to your inbox by emailing write4income@aweber.com!

And as always, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact Heather via heather@seocopywriting.com, or via Twitter @heatherlloyd.

 

photo thanks to mathewingram (Mathew Ingram)

Want to learn even more about starting a freelance copywriting business? Check out the 6-week, intensive Copywriting Business Boot Camp!

 

What John Lennon can teach you about a lifestyle business

John LennonWhen I say that I’m OK, they look at me kind of strange…

Surely you’re not happy now, you no longer play the game

– John Lennon, Watching The Wheels

I recently watched a television show about John Lennon’s career trajectory. For years, he lived the hard partying, rock-and-roll lifestyle. Then, after a life-changing trip, he released Double Fantasy in 1980. People say that Double Fantasy reflected his new-found happiness and stability living the “family life.”

I totally understand where he’s coming from.

Once upon a time, I lived “the game.” I’ve discussed before how I would travel three weeks out of every month, mess up my body with multiple time zone changes and generally trash my life at the expense of my career. Was it fun? Hell yeah. Did it take a toll? Yes.

Can I work that pace anymore? Nope. Not because I can’t. It’s because I choose to have a lifestyle business.

Want flexibility and freedom? A lifestyle business may work for you…

What’s a lifestyle business? I’ve read a few definitions that say, “The entrepreneur sustains her income at X, so she can enjoy a certain lifestyle.” For me, I see a lifestyle business being synonymous with flexibility and freedom.  You may choose to forgo a six-figure job – but you do it because you’d rather spend time with your kids. You may miss out on cool travel opportunities – but you happily do it because you’d rather stay home with your partner.

Does having a lifestyle business means that you’ll never make (big) money? Not at all. I know quite a few “hardly working” people who are raking in a huge income. I know others who work like crazy a few months of every year so they can play for three months at a time.

(For a first-hand account of a lifestyle business and life, check out Jennifer Cario’s blog A Flexible Life. Jen is also the owner of Sugar Spun Marketing, the author of Pinterest Marketing: An Hour A Day and makes killer cinnamon rolls.)

For me, a lifestyle business means I can work out in the morning, work a few hours when I’m feeling highly productive, and spend my evenings reading and relaxing. I don’t feel compelled to hit every conference anymore, or be away from home more than a week a month. Or build a huge team of writers.

Could I make more money if I worked more hours and built a bigger business (or even worked for someone else?) Quite possibly. But I don’t think I’d be as happy.

Will you still work your butt off with a lifestyle business? Sure – especially at the beginning. Choosing a lifestyle business doesn’t mean it’s all bon bons and soap opera reruns. It means you make different choices about how you spend your time.

You define your success

It’s funny, though, how some people feel compelled to apologize for their business choice. “I have a ‘lifestyle business,”’ they’ll say. “It’s not like a big agency or anything.”

Here’s the thing: You are the one who defines your success – not society, not your family – YOU. If your lifestyle business makes you happy and makes you money, rock on.

It’s much better than the alternative. I know many entrepreneurs who feel like they built their own prison – they started an agency because they thought they were “supposed to,” and now they’re suffering.

I used to be that way myself.

(I love this post by A.J. Kohn that discusses not comparing his “entrepreneurial journey” with others. I highly recommend checking it out.)

If you think that you HAVE to build a big agency – or you HAVE to work 20 hours a day, know this: You are the architect of your life. You can build a business around the things you love to do. There are many people loving their lifestyle business – and you can love yours, too.

If that’s what you choose to do.

Do I “miss the game” (as Lennon mentions in his song?) Sometimes. I’ll have moments when I’ll think, “I would love to be on a plane right now.”

And then I think about my life. I have a wonderful husband. I have wonderful friends. I am the healthiest I’ve ever been. Things are calm and happy and fulfilling.

I’m just watching the wheels go ’round and ’round. I really love to watch them roll.