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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!

 

How to Raise Your Freelance Copywriting Rates

raise your freelance copywriting ratesYou know it’s time.

You’ve gathered some great case studies. You have fantastic testimonials. You’ve studied your craft, taken classes and honed your skills.

So, why is it so hard to tell your clients, “I’m raising my freelance copywriting rates?”

I get it. I really do. The good news is – your clients (probably) won’t tell you to jump in a lake. The bad news is – you may lose some folks, especially if you don’t raise your rates the right way.

Ready to take the plunge? Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking of raising your copywriting rates.

1. Should you raise your freelance copywriting rates? Or change your target market?  Are your current small business clients paying you $75/page – and you think your rate should be closer to $400/page?  There may be a disconnect there. You may be worth every penny – but your small business clients probably won’t be able to afford you. If you’re looking at a major rate hike, carefully consider your current niche. Will it be able to generate the income you need? Or is it time to consider a new target market with deeper pockets?

2. How much more do you want to get paid? Clients tend not to care much about small, graduate rate increases. If you want to raise your rates 30-50+ percent, you may receive some kickback. That doesn’t mean that you would never get a 75 percent rate increase. It does mean that will need to clearly demonstrate your profit-driving expertise – and how you’ve made your clients’ lives easier.

3. Ask yourself – would YOU give you a raise? If you’ve missed deadlines (even if you had a good reason,) had repeating quality issues or had any weird “stuff” happen, a rate raise will be touchy. In this situation, your client will not remember all the wonderful things you’ve done for them. They will remember exactly how and when you’ve screwed up. Best case scenario, you ease into a rate raise very slowly and have a few glitch-free months under your belt first.

4. Consider who you’ll lose. You may have a wonderful small business client that you love with all your heart. But, their micro budget can’t pay your bills – and you honestly can’t afford to work with them anymore. It’s always hard to “fire” a client that can’t pay your new fee. But know this –  you’ll have to let them go if you want your business to grow.

5. When would the rate raise become effective? Never send a client an email that says “Just so you know, I’ll be raising my copywriting rates next month by 25 percent.”  No client likes a rate raise (even if they think you deserve it!). They’ll like it even less if you don’t give them time to plan and budget.  It’s good to give your clients three months notice before your rate change becomes effective. (Working with a new client? Why not charge them your new rate now?)

6. Keep your “I’m raising my rates” email professional.  You may have a huge IRS bill, need more money to make your bills and have tons of child-related expenses. Don’t use your personal life as the reason to raise your rates. Your clients won’t care – and bringing that stuff up makes you look extremely unprofessional. And for goodness sake – don’t beg for a rate increase or say, “I really need the money.” That’s a sure way of getting fired…for good.

When you’re ready to take the plunge, write a very straightforward and friendly email. Recap your successes, outline your new copywriting rates and when they’ll take effect. Will you lose some clients? Sure. Will it be OK? Yes.

As my father used to say, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Isn’t it time to finally make the money you deserve to make?