How You Can Promote Your Freelance Writing on Social Media

When I started freelance copywriting in 2016, I had zero clients.


I had zero professional writing experience.


I had zero sales experience.


Needless to say, I was a little nervous. (That’s an understatement. I was terrified.) I wasn’t sleeping well in those days, and I was constantly jittery because I was living on a diet of coffee and cigarettes. With nightmares every night and a constant feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere in life, something had to change.


I had to learn how to do professional writing. I had to learn how to sell professional writing. And I had to straighten out the undisciplined mess of my life and make myself into something respectable.


Why am I telling you all this? It’s not because I’m trying to show off what I’ve done since then. It’s not because I love talking about myself. It’s not even because I’ve got a perverse love of sharing things I’m ashamed of.


I’m telling you this because if I can build a successful freelance writing business, you can too. It takes time and dedication. It takes patience, planning, and a lot of hard work. But if you really want to, you can live your freelance dreams.


If you make it happen, it won’t be a dream anymore.


Anyways, to business: I’m here to tell you about how to promote a freelance writing business on social media. What I had to learn with months of trial and error, I’m going to tell you right now. I’ve developed these strategies over the course of the last year and a half, and I’m still developing them even now.


With these methods, I’ve managed to build up a steady stream of traffic to my website. Some of the visitors to my site have chosen to contact me to hire my services. And some of those clients have become long-term partners.


It all starts with successfully driving traffic to your site. And today I’m going to tell you how to use social media to do that.


Put Together Your Customer Persona

What’s a customer persona, you ask?


It’s pretty simple, but it’s one of the most important concepts in marketing and copywriting, so you’re going to want to understand it perfectly. You’re a writer though, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to catch on.


A customer persona is a detailed description of your ideal reader. You want to get to know this person in detail before you ever put your marketing plan together. You want to be able to know this person so well you could predict their thoughts.


Who is your ideal reader? What’s brought her to your website? What’s she worrying about right now, and what does she need to hear from you?


It’s important to know this stuff. Because you’re not writing for just anyone. You’re writing for one person. You’re writing for the one reader who will light up as soon as she reads what you’ve written. The person who’s heart will go pitter-patter just as soon as she sees your words.


Remember: you have to write as if you were talking to someone right across the table from you. That’s why you want to go to the effort to imagine this person in as much detail as you possibly can.


You need to be writing for someone you know well, in other words. This person is your friend. You need to be able to express a real and warm affection. We all feel a little oppressed by the roles we have to play in our jobs, in our lives, and in the world as a whole. We’re all longing for a connection that’s deeper and more real.


So take the time to get to know the kind of person you’re meant to work with. Take the time to learn what this person is afraid of. What this person wants. What this person dreams about at night.


Know their business needs. But above all, know their human needs. That’s how you learn how you can truly serve the people you’re meant to serve.


Marketing Your Website/Content—Draw Clients Passively

Now that you know who you’re reaching out to, you need to go on social media and find ways to reach them. I’ve gone in-depth about my methods on this in an earlier post, but I’ll give the short version here. This is the funnel I use to attract visitors to my site.


  1. Spread a wide net on Twitter
    • With Twitter, I try to get my content to reach as many eyeballs as possible.
    • One of the ways I do that is through posting links to my site, but also by sharing links to sites with great content.
    • I retweet content from people who retweet my content. That way we extend each other’s reach and multiply our effectiveness. (When freelancers work together, we can make things easier for all of us.)
    • Every once in a while I share a link inviting interested Twitter followers to follow a link to my LinkedIn account.
  2. Funnel the Twitter audience to LinkedIn
    • I accept the invitations from people who add me from Twitter, and I make an effort to get to know them.
    • I post links to my site, but I also share content I’ve found in other places. I make sure it’s the kind of thing that appeals to the people I’ve gotten to know in my customer persona.
    • It’s important to keep active in the LinkedIn community. I join groups, comment on posts, and share things I find valuable. Especially when I want to get to know someone better (we’ll talk about this later) I find little ways to help them. Everyone is going to like it when you “Like” or share a post for them, or even add a thoughtful comment with some clear thoughts and observations. It’s the things like that that set you out of the herd.
  3. Produce quality content
    • You’re going to need to put some content up somewhere. That could mean starting a website. It could mean doing long-form LinkedIn posts. It could mean starting an account on Medium. But you need some way of building up an audience and somewhere to direct them where they can take a look at your work.
    • Now, I mention creating quality content—that means writing the kind of thing your ideal customer would like to see. And as much as it pains me to say it, that means you can’t use this place to express yourself freely. You’re here to share valuable knowledge about how to do something. Believe me: I know how that pains you. (It sure pains me!) But the content you put on your site isn’t about you. It’s about your reader.


This is only the briefest outline of the kind of thing you’re going to need to get together to have a viable website, but it should give you an idea of the process.


When I was building my freelance writing business, one of the constant things I had to contend with was a constant feeling of being overwhelmed by all the things I had to do.


So if you’re feeling that way reading the outline I’ve put up there: don’t worry about it. What you’re seeing here is a refined process that I’ve built up over time. You can start slowly. When I was just starting out, I was just as overwhelmed as you are now.


Be real.

Direct Outreach—Find Clients Proactively

But let’s say you don’t have a ton of time to wait around for clients to come along organically. You’ve got to rustle up some new business fast.


Don’t worry about it. There are ways of doing that. So now I’m going to tell you how to get clients through direct outreach while you’re building your system for attracting clients passively.


First off: you need to get your list together.


What list is that? It’s the list of your prospects. These are the people you’re going to directly reach out to. You’ll want to know their business, their name, a good email address, and all of that. (There’s a lot that goes into that process, and I’ll tell you about it in a few weeks.) But beyond all those technical details, you’re going to want to know a little about the people you’re talking to as human beings.


It all comes back to what we were talking about with the customer persona. You want to make sure the people on your list match that customer persona pretty well. You could talk to everybody on God’s green earth without finding someone who matches your persona precisely, but you want to make sure you’re reaching out to the people you’d like to work with.


Now that you’ve got your list together, you need to put together the message you’re going to send them. It should be interesting, useful, and speak to their needs. Remember: the goal here isn’t to shoot them an email and immediately turn that into a sale. It’s to start a conversation.


Just a little side note here: sales becomes immensely easier if you don’t think of it as selling. It’s a mistake to frame the situation as, “I’ve got to make these sales, because if I don’t make these sales I won’t be able to eat, and if I can’t eat I’ll die, and if I die it’ll hurt a lot and people will probably make fun of me at my funeral…” When you’re selling, you’re trying to start a relationship. It’s a business relationship, sure, but on its most basic level it’s a relationship between two human beings.


So when you write your email, you don’t want to hide your intentions, but you also don’t want to overemphasize them. You come off as manipulative if you hide your intentions, but you come off as desperate if you push the sale too quickly.


The point is this: your prospects are smart and busy. If they’re interested in what you’ve got to offer, they’ll reach out to you. If not, they won’t. You have to let go of the outcome.


So you write up those emails and send them out. I’ll write a full blog post about this in a few weeks, but when you’re sending your emails you want to make sure you personalize them. Do you like getting obvious cookie-cutter copy/paste emails? Neither do your prospects.


Take the five minutes necessary to get to know a little about your prospects as people. Let that shine through in your emails. You’re reaching out to real human beings. Act like it.


Remember: You Can Do This

I realize you might be reading this and thinking, “Oh my God, how can I possibly do this?”


And it’s no wonder! This is a lot of information to process all at once, and it’s not easy to do all at once. But you can build up your systems day by day and eventually come up with something that works.


You don’t even have to quit your job to start out. You can start out small, only taking one or two clients at a time till you figure out how to freelance on a full-time basis.


Even though it can look overwhelming at the beginning, it’s not nearly as tough as it looks.


At the moment, you’re probably feeling some serious fear of the unknown. I bet you felt the same way before you learned how to ride a bike. Think about it: riding a bike is a complicated balancing act, and you probably had many accidents in the course of figuring it out. You probably had to have training wheels while you were learning.


But now you know how to ride a bike easily. You don’t even have to think about it. You just hop on the bike and you’re on your way, with the wind in your hair and your legs pumping up and down in time.


It’s just the same with freelancing. Start small. Build a small system that works, then expand it once you’ve done that. It’s not a dream. It’s something you can have if you commit to it.


Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about freelancing. I’m always trying to tailor this blog to your needs, so I’d appreciate the help.


And I know some of you don’t like to post publicly, so feel free to contact me by email at if you’d rather do it that way.


Good luck, and good copywriting!


The 3 Crucial Rules for Beginning Copywriters


So you want to be a copywriter, eh? Join the club.


Copywriting means different things to different people. Some people write cheap, useless, badly-written blog posts for their clients and call that copywriting.


(Luckily their clients don’t pay them very well for their trouble, because they know what they’re buying.)


You don’t want to be that kind of copywriter, do you?


Of course not. And there’s no reason you should be! There’s no reason a clever, forward-thinking writer should have to work for peanuts. There’s no reason a clever, forward-thinking writer should have to work on projects that aren’t challenging or interesting. There’s no reason a clever, forward-thinking writer can’t make a very good living from freelance writing.


I hope you’re detecting a theme here. It’s clear as day: if you want to make a good living as a copywriter you’ve got to be clever and forward-thinking.


And what does that mean? Well, I’m glad you asked.


First off, it means becoming a copywriting master. It’s not enough to have run-of-the-mill skills and a run-of-the-mill plan. You need excellent skills and an excellent plan.


Would you go into battle without a plan and expect good results? Of course not. Then why would you go into your copywriting without a plan and expect good results?


I want you to imagine something: imagine you’re the most brilliant copywriter to ever live. Your words weave a magic spell that makes your reader helpless to resist you. Every line you put down is so perfect that your readers can hardly wait to throw their hard-earned greenbacks at you. You have such brilliant powers of persuasion that you can get anyone to do anything.


That’s a nice image, isn’t it?


Unfortunately, it’s impossible to write copy that’s that persuasive. You can’t write anything that’s going to convince people to buy something they never wanted in the first place. That would be wrong and unethical, first of all. And second of all it would take more persuasive power than any human being could possibly have.


No, friends, I’m not going to claim that good copywriting can spin straw into gold. You won’t be retiring to a beach house in Tahiti next week.


It won’t be easy. It won’t be overnight. It won’t even be automatic. But if you follow the principles I’m about to set out for you, you will be able to improve your copywriting.


And that’s the first step.


The Golden Rule of All Copywriting: Know Your Mark

Imagine you’re on vacation at the beach in Saint Augustine, Florida. You’re looking out at the iron-gray waters of the Atlantic, lying with your head up and a tasty drink at your side. You feel the sunlight on your skin, all shiny and warm in the afternoon.


You’re daydreaming about dolphins. You don’t have a care in the world. You wonder if you can find a service to let you ride a dolphin…


“Excuse me,” says a salesman who appears out of nowhere, “Would you be interested in buying a full-length winter parka?”


What do you say? Would you be interested?


Of course not! This guy doesn’t have a clue who you are or where he is. What’s he doing, interrupting a perfectly good day by asking you if you want to wear a winter parka? What an idiot!


You don’t sell winter parkas to vacationers on the beach in the middle of the summer.


It’s not that it’s a bad parka. It’s not that these people will never need a parka. It’s not even that they’re constitutionally opposed to buying a parka. It’s just that the salesman was clueless about context.


If you want your mark to buy from you, you’ve got to make contact with them when and where they’re receptive to your message.


People want to buy things. People like to buy things. But they don’t like to be sold to.


That’s why it’s your job to know who you’re dealing with, what they want, and how it’s going to help them. But most importantly, it’s your job to know these three things about your mark:


  1. What are their pain points? The mark who is on the point of buying from you has one big problem you can solve for them. They want to buy the reassurance that you know their pain and know how to resolve it. So you must understand their pain.


  1. What are their dreams? Maybe they want to retire to a nice place on Key West. Maybe they want to write pretty love poems every day. Maybe they want to be rich enough to buy the Earth itself. Whatever it is, you want to know what your mark wants and how buying from you will move them closer to their ultimate desire.


  1. What are their fears? Are they afraid of getting kicked out and having to live on the streets? Are they afraid of failing to live up to their potential? Are they afraid of missing out on the biggest chance of their lives? Sometimes people need their fears to encourage them to take action. Know their fears so you can deploy them when the time is right.


Action Step: Imagine your ideal client. With that client in mind, answer all three of the questions I just laid out. The more in-depth the better. (You can never have too much knowledge!) Write at least a paragraph in answer to each question. You’ll be surprised what you can already discover!


The Second (But Equally Important) Rule of Copywriting: Know Your Product

Let’s go back to your salesman on the beach. Just for the moment, let’s pretend you’re not entirely uninterested in what he has to say.


“What’s so great about that parka?” you ask.


“Well, uh…” the salesman says. He looks down at the parka in his hands. He scratches his nose. He says, “Well, it’s got really nice pockets!”


You’re not having any of this. “So does every parka I’ve ever seen. What’s so great about this one?”


Our salesman doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t know his product. He only knows he wants this scenario to end with you holding the parka and him holding your cash.


A clever, forward-thinking copywriter always knows the product.


That means all the “dry, boring details.”


That means all the exciting benefits the product has.


That even means anticipating all the objections a prospect might have before purchasing.


You want to know your product so well that when you close your eyes you see the design specs on the back of your eyelids.


Okay, I’ll admit it: you don’t have to know it that well. Don’t tattoo any design specs to the inside of your eyelids. But you get the point.


In order to be an effective copywriter, you need to know the product you’re selling in detail. You need to know what it does. You need to know all the problems with it. You need to know.


A professional copywriter takes time to get to know the product. If it’s something you can try out for yourself, go ahead and do that. If it’s something (such as a staffing agency) that’s way beyond your needs as a freelance writer, take the time to get to know the process and the people.


Maybe you won’t use all this knowledge, directly. But it’s important to know this stuff, because it’s going to color your copy in ways you can’t anticipate.


I know that sounds vague, but you’re a writer. You know exactly what I mean. Sometimes when you’re writing, the spirit takes you and you end up producing a phrase you never thought you could have found before. And what’s true of writing a poem or a story is still true of copywriting: it’s when you fondle the details that you get your best results.


So get to know the details. Even if you don’t use them directly, the knowledge will come through in the authority of your tone.


Action Step: Imagine your ideal client again. Why are your copywriting services absolutely what your ideal client needs? Why might your ideal client object to buying from you? How do you plan on meeting those objections? Answer these questions, and you’ll be on the right track.


The Third (and Honestly the Most Important) Rule of Copywriting: Write the Best Words

Much as I’d like to return to our salesman on the beach, that analogy isn’t going to work here. I want to talk to you straight out, writer to writer.


Copywriting isn’t a form of expressive writing. You’re not here to express your personality or to develop your own unique style.


Copywriting is about writing the words that cause your reader to take action.


Every expressive writer’s heart sinks a little at those words. Believe me, I know that pain: when I put on my “copywriting hat” I have to take off my “novelist’s hat.” And I won’t lie to you. It stings a little.


It stings because I’m using words as tools instead of as a free play of expression. It’s worth it because it pushes my writing skills to the limits, so I learn things I never would have learned any other way. (Not to mention the fact that it pays the bills!)


The reason I’m telling you all this is because I want you to understand that copywriting is a different type of writing from any other. It’s as different from poetry or fiction as poetry or fiction are different from each other.


It’s got a different texture. It’s got a different structure. It’s got a different set of conventions and a different method of preparation.


You’ve got to learn how to make words cause action. When you put on your “copywriting hat,” you not only have to make your readers feel, but you’ve got to convince them to do something. It’s quite a challenge, and it gets harder every day.


You’ll have to seize your reader’s attention.


You’ll have to arouse your reader’s desire.


You’ll have to make your reader afraid of not acting.


And you’ll have to become the best at it. You’ll have to become so good at it that it becomes second nature. You’ll have to become so sure of yourself and your writing that it all comes off as if you’ve never felt a twinge of self-doubt in your life.


It’s quite a challenge. But if you can learn how to connect with your reader, you’ll be able to do things you’d never have thought you could.


You’ll be able to help people find solutions they’d never have been confident to seize otherwise.


You’ll be able to amaze your clients with your clever words.


And most importantly, you’ll be able to make that dream of making a good living from writing into a reality.


Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about copywriting. I’m always trying to tailor this blog to your needs, so I’d appreciate the help.


And I know some of you don’t like to post publicly, so feel free to contact me by email at if you’d rather do it that way.


Good luck, and good copywriting!


How Can You Put Guest Posting to Work for You?

Every great blogger sits on the floor when typing. Obviously.


If you’ve been blogging or freelance writing for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about guest posting. Maybe you’ve thought about putting it to work for you but weren’t sure how to start.


If that sounds like you, you came to the right blog. I’ll let you know all you need to know about how to get started on guest posting, but before that I’ll help you figure out if it’s right for you.


Simply put, guest posting is when you write a blog post that appears on another blog. Usually it’s a more established blog with a regular audience, although this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.


If you’re running a website and need to increase your visibility, guest posting can be a serious help. I’ll get more in-depth about the benefits of guest posting in the next section, but for now you need to know that guest posting will expand your network, increase your traffic, and improve your SEO rankings.


Guest posting can help establish your reputation or build your authority in your niche. It’s a tried and true method for getting your name out, and it’s got some serious benefits. So let’s get into some of those benefits, shall we?


Why do Guest Posting?

Like I said in the last section, guest posting has three main benefits. These are:

  • Expanding your network.
  • Increasing your site’s organic traffic.
  • Improving your site’s SEO rankings.


Expanding your network is an indirect benefit that comes from a guest posting strategy. Every blogger or website you work with in your niche becomes another possible source of referrals and recommendations. If you do a particularly good job on the post (or if it happens to go viral), they might even ask you to post again. That’s always a plus!


But the main reason most people are interested in guest posting is because they want to improve their site’s traffic and authority. Most guest posts do this by allowing you to include a do-follow link to your site and one or two of your social media accounts.


Of course, those links are going to bring you direct traffic, but they’re also (and perhaps more importantly) going to increase your SEO rankings. Particularly as you cement your reputation and start guest posting with more and more authority sites, you’re going to improve your rankings and draw in more search traffic.


So on the whole, the reason you do guest posting is the same as the reason you do any other kind of marketing: because you’re trying to get the right people interested in your offer.

Long-term Guest Post Strategy

Now, in a perfect world you’d be able to type up a guest post, send it to the highest-authority blog in your niche, and get your work appearing in all the hot blogs by this time next week.


Of course, that’s not the world we live in. In this world, great things have to start small.


So you have to start small. Don’t worry, you’ll get to the big leagues eventually, but you’ve got to start out guest posting for the blogs a little closer to your level.


Start out by writing up a list of the blogs in your niche you’d be most interested in blogging with. Then the ones you’re a little less interested in blogging with. Then the ones you’re a little less interested in than that.


The idea is that you want to get a list together where you’ve got a small number of top-tier blogs you’d like to write with on the top, a larger number of middle-level blogs below that, and a bunch of smaller (but still credible) blogs at the bottom.


If you’re feeling lucky, you can send your first post in to your top-tier blogs. If they won’t take it, try the middle level, and so on. In the long term, you want to be able to post with any of the top-tier blogs you want, because they’ll repay your efforts the most.


But you’ve got to start where you can. So start somewhere!


How to do Your Guest Post

Every blog is a little different, so I can only give you some basic guidelines here. When you’re ready to put your guest posting strategy to work, you start out by looking up the guidelines for the blog you’re interested in and follow them.


If anything I say here conflicts with the process for a blog you’re interested in, trust their process more than my words.


Generally, bloggers will want you to either reach out to them with a pitch before sending in your post, or else they’ll want you to send a full article. Whatever their preferences are, it’s a good bet that following them will give you the best odds of getting the guest post spot you’re after.


And I know this should really be obvious, but unfortunately I’ve got to say this: make sure your guest post is on a topic that’s relevant to the blog you’re interested in. No matter how good your article on woodpeckers is, it’s probably not going to be appropriate for a blog about retail selling.


Take a little time to acquaint yourself with the blog you’re interested in before you pitch them. It doesn’t’ take long, and it’s always worth your time.

Get the word out!

Interested in Guest Posting With Me?

Just in case you’re wondering, yes I do accept guest post pitches. Feel free to contact me at with any pitches that have to do with freelance writing. Please mark your pitch clearly with the subject line “Guest Post Pitch.” I’ll do my best to choose the best pitches and reply to you within a week at the latest.


Generally, I prefer guest posts that have to do with strategies you’ve used to successfully find freelance writing work in the past, although I will consider anything that’s got to do with the freelance writing life.


I hope you’ll find a lot of value in guest posting as a blogging strategy. It can work wonders for your website, and for freelancers it can be a wonderful way to spend those times when business is slow. Just pop out a few guest posts, and by the time they get posted you’ll have more clients than you know what to do with!


How to Build Your Email List

Used correctly, email can be an amazing sales tool. Even in the social media age, email selling is the standard by which all digital marketing is judged.


If you’re new to digital marketing, it can be hard to tell where to start with your email selling. And with so much information out there on the subject, it can be hard to tell where to start!


Never fear. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do with this blog post: I’m going to come up with a short guide to how you can leverage your online presence into effective email selling that helps you to improve your service and learn about your ideal customers all at once.


Of course, I don’t want to hype this up too much. Email selling has been around a while, and it’s definitely not a quick fix method. But if you’re willing to put in the time and the effort to get a good email campaign going, you can turn this into a highly effective tool for driving sales.


So as you keep on reading I’ll let you know exactly how to leverage your website into an effective selling tool.


Build Traffic with Social Media

Naturally, this whole thing isn’t going to get off the ground until you get some traffic to your website. And while there are many ways to do that, we’re going to focus on social media here.


Social media is an indispensable tool for digital marketing. It’s often the first point of contact between you and the people you’re meant to serve.


With your social media efforts you’ve got two things you’re most interested in: driving traffic to your site and making connections with prospects and other networkers.


Now, this article isn’t about social media marketing, but the point here is that an effective social media strategy will drive plenty of traffic to your site. So you want to be visible on social media. You want to be posting, commenting, and engaging with people. Actively.


Of course, I can’t tell you exactly how you should do that. The thing about social media is that you’ve got to develop your own style. If you’re doing it the same way everybody else does it, you might as well not even be doing it.


All I can tell you for sure is that you should commit to at least posting once per day on every site you or your organization is on. That will force you to develop your own unique approach.


Attract Prospects to Your Site with Quality Content

But what’s the point of having the social media in the first place if you’re not driving traffic back to your site? And how are you going to drive traffic back to your site unless you’ve got some great content to show your followers?


Welcome to the wonderful world of content marketing.


So what’s content marketing? Well, the short answer is that it’s informational content on your site that attracts readers (or viewers, or listeners) and gives them useful information.


Blog posts. Videos. Podcasts. How-to articles. Ebooks. All of that is content marketing.


Let’s assume you’re using blog posts. You want to drive your ideal prospects to your site. How do you do that?


Well, you write content that matches what your prospects need to see when they’re ready to buy from you. You educate them about what they need to know in order to understand your offer and what it can do for them.


The best part of this strategy is that web content lasts a long time. With a solid posting schedule and a good content strategy, you can turn a small site into an authority site and a recognized thought leader in your industry.


Build Your List with Gated Content

So you’ve got your traffic flowing into your site with your content. Now what?


Now you want to convince those visitors that it’s worth their while to send you their email addresses. You want to open up that flow of communication and foster that relationship.


How do you do that? Gated content, of course!


Gated content is content that your prospect can only access after they’ve performed some action. It could be signing up for an account, subscribing for email updates, or any one of a million possible things. In this case we’re assuming you’re offering them something in return for their email address and permission to contact them.


So what do you offer them? It’s got to be something your ideal prospect would want, and which will help educate them about the value of your offer. My personal favorite kind of gated content is an eBook lead magnet. It could be a how-to guide or a valuable bit of data.


If you use a how-to guide, stick to a subject your prospect will be interested in. Let them know how to do something they’d like to be able to do on their own (even if you and I both know they should go ahead and hire you if they want the best results).


And After That?

Once you’ve got your lead magnet ready and got it building your list, you need to start sending out emails. This is another thing where you’re going to have to work out your own plans. At the very least, you should reach out to your email lists once every month. (If you contact them less than that, some of your subscribers might start to forget who you are, and unsubscribe just as soon as they see your emails.)


Try not to be too salesy with your emails. Unless you want to be. It’s important to find an approach that works for you and go with it. I’ve seen some people go as shamelessly salesy as it’s possible to be, and I’ve seen some people run their email marketing in a much more subtle way. It depends on your style.


The prospects you’re meant to find are the kind of people who will appreciate your style. So feel free to experiment until you find the voice that works. When it does, you’ll know.


What are Case Studies? (Part 3 of 3)


We’ve spent the last couple of days talking about what case studies are and how you can create one. Now, that’s great and wonderful, but in the end there’s only one real question: what are you going to do with your case study once you’ve got it?


I think we can all agree that that’s the real question here.


And what’s the answer? Here’s the short answer: plenty. A well-written case study is a versatile marketing tool, so it’s not really limited to one use.


I’ve taken a little time to get together ten of the most common uses. But before I do that, I’ve got a little admission to make: a case study is usually only cost-effective in an industry where you’ve got a high Customer Lifetime Value. So if you’re selling bubble gum, you might want to move along.


Now that we’ve got that caveat out of the way, here’s our list:


  1. Build credibility for your solution.

This is the value of the interview. if you want to show your prospects why your business is great, who are they more likely to believe: you or your customers?


That’s pretty obvious, I know. If they’re going to be putting their money on the line for your solution, they’ll want to hear from your customers. They’ll want to hear about how your business has added real value.


With a case study, you’ve got an accessible and compelling way to demonstrate that value. And if you pepper your case study with the customer’s own words, you add another layer of trust and credibility.


  1. Prove your industry knowledge.

How many of you have ever had a prospect who was just perfect for your offer, but they kept dragging their feet and saying, “But I don’t know if it will work for me.”?


We’ve all been there before. And we’ve all wracked our brains now and again, trying to come up with a way to dissolve that resistance.


When your prospect reads your case study, they should see a person a lot like them, in a company a lot like theirs. That way, when they see how your solution worked for this other company, they’ll be able to understand how you can help them.


And if you can make it personal to them, you can build a relationship.


  1. Engage your prospect’s imagination.

We’ve talked about this before, but one of the most important things about a case study is that it’s a story.


Now why’s that so important? We’re all human beings, right? Well, as human beings we’ve evolved to pick up information through stories.


Why’s Harry Potter so popular? Why did Disney pay George Lucas a billion dollars for the rights to the Star Wars franchise? Why do people dress up in elaborate costumes to go see the latest Marvel movie?


Simple: because it’s a great story. With a case study, you have a chance to tell your prospects a great story.


Now, I know it probably won’t be anything as dramatic as stopping Voldemort or blowing up the Death Star, but your story has a drama and a value of its own. The people who are meant to work with you will recognize that drama and value.


But they’ll only recognize it if you get that case study.


  1. Educate your prospect about your offer’s value.

Let’s face it: sometimes your prospects don’t immediately understand the value of your offer.


Maybe it’s an older prospect who doesn’t understand your software. Maybe it’s a first-time business owner who can’t see why this equipment is necessary. Maybe it’s an executive who’s worried about passing up a major chance.


Here’s the thing: we’ve all got our areas of expertise, and sometimes you’ll be working with a prospect who needs your solution but just doesn’t get your offer.


With your case study in hand, you can show those prospects why your offer will help them. When they see the way your solution has resolved a problem similar to theirs, they’ll be much more interested in discussing what you can do for them.


  1. Accumulate social proof.

In his classic book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini spends a chapter on the concept of social proof. He says the principle of social proof “states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.”


So how does a case study create social proof? That’s simple enough. When you show your prospects that others like them have benefitted from your offer, it’s much easier to convince them they could benefit.


When you were a newcomer, it was hard to show a prospect the value of your solution. But now that you’ve built a base of loyal clients, you can leverage that social proof to scale your business.


Case studies are a way for you to get that leverage.


  1. Learn what your best customers value in your offer.

This is a bit of a hidden benefit, but if you think about it for a minute it makes a lot of sense. Think about it: if you’re trying to improve your business, what do you want to know?


That’s obvious, you think. You want to know about the problems customers have with your offer and what you can do to improve it. It stings to hear those customer complaints, but they’re awfully valuable, right?


That’s a good answer. But it’s not the whole story.


Of course you want to know what your unhappy customers think you’re doing wrong. But isn’t it at least as important to know what your happy customers think you’re doing right? Of course you want to know what you need to change. But isn’t it at least as important to know what needs to stay the same?


A solid case study can get you that information. Sure, it’s mostly a marketing tool. But it’s also a valuable insight into what excites your best customers.


  1. Repurpose your case studies (Both on- and offline).

Now, a lot of the things I’ve been talking about here are geared toward softening up a sales process. That’s definitely one of the strong points of a case study. But it’s not the only use, and more often than not it’s not even the main use.


Post your case studies on your website. Convert them into infographics and YouTube videos. Blog posts, podcasts, press releases, you name it! With a little extra work, you can get out feelers on all your marketing channels.


And when you do that, you can have a self-selected group of warm prospects approaching you. In that way, case studies make a great hammer in your marketing toolbox.


  1. Remind yourself what your business is all about.

Now, I know this isn’t really a business benefit. But doesn’t it happen sometimes that we forget what we’re in business for? We find that routine that works, and we fall into it so deep we lose track of what it’s all about.


It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday. We get so caught up in running our businesses that we start to forget they’re about people.


Your business is about serving people, in the end. So sometimes the real value of the case study can be to show you the difference you’ve made. Because we’ve all got to take care of business, but in the end “taking care of business” is just another way of saying we take care of each other.


Business is about the relationships we form along the way. And at its best, a case study can be a way to remind us of that.


As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you and your endeavors. Be sure to take a look at yesterday’s article if you want to know more about case studies. Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions. You can reach me in my comment section, or if you like you can email me at


What to do if you Have to Use Cold Email Selling


People will tell you cold email is spammy.


People will tell you cold email is disruptive and annoying.


People will tell you that when you send cold emails, you kill that little part of your soul you wanted to keep safe and secure from the corruption of the cruel, harsh world we all live in.


But the truth is different from that.


Here’s the truth: cold email is spammy, annoying, and soul-destroying. But sometimes you have to do it anyways.


It’s not your fault. It’s the world’s fault. You’re a special, wonderful little creature, and it’s not your fault you’ve got to rustle up business somehow.


So here are the facts, bub: you’ve got to make some sales, and you’ve got to make some sales quick. That means you need to get yourself together and start sending some cold emails.


Are you ready? Me neither.


So if you’ll pick up your soft blanket, your teddy bear, and your motion sickness bag, we can get this unholy thing over with.


In this article, you’re going to find a few things:


  1. A guide to identifying your prospects
    1. Understanding your offer/customer
    2. Customer personas
    3. Building your prospect list
  2. A guide to contacting your prospects and getting responses
    1. Subject lines
    2. Tactics for short letters
    3. Tactics for long letters
  3. A guide to turning responses into sales.
    1. Keeping control of the conversation
    2. When to go for phone calls or Skype sessions
    3. How to close the sale


How does that sound?


Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s much worse.


So: put on the inspirational music, plaster on your fake smile, and come with me through the first circle of the Inferno.


Identifying Your Prospects

You want to get your business going, and that means you need to get your prospects lined up. You need to get a nice, fat list of ideal prospects all ready to hear your pitch and snap up your products or services.


How do you do this?


Well, if you’re a brain-dead numbskull and you deserve to have your brain driven in with a sledgehammer, you’ll reach for the phone book and start contacting businesses one by one.


(Yes, phone books still exist.)


If you’re a little less dumb, you’ll get a customer persona together before you even think about taking a look at your prospect list. I’ll tell you all about customer personas in just a minute, so don’t you worry yourself about that.


Once you get your customer persona together, you’ll want to go online to get your actual list together. If you’re a savvy internet-user and you’ve gotten together a good customer persona, you can take out a lot of the pain of cold emailing.


Because let’s be frank: cold emailing is nobody’s favorite method of selling. But it can be effective, and it can be quick. If you’re smart about it, you’re not going to be bothering anybody.


Put it this way: the better you get at cold email, the less you’ll feel like you’re spamming people. And this is literally true, too: because spammy emails don’t succeed.


A lot of the problem of cold email is the problem of getting out of this mind-set that you’re doing something wrong.


Ask yourself these questions if you have any doubts:


Am I selling a quality product or service?


Am I contacting people who are likely to be interested in my product or service?


Am I approaching these people in a way that makes it easy for them to choose whether or not they are interested in my business?


That’s what it takes to avoid your cold email becoming spammy. Those are the problems we’re here to solve with this article.


Customer Personas

I want you to imagine something: I want you to imagine the kind of person you would most like to sell to. You know the kind of thing I mean.


What kind of business are they in? What kind of problems are they facing? What’s the size of their company?


That’s the image you want to have in mind while you’re identifying your prospects. That’s part of what I’m talking about when I talk about a customer persona.


The first part of getting a customer persona together is getting to know their company. You want to define the types of companies that are most likely to benefit from your service.


That’s simple enough, isn’t it? Sure it is.


What you’re doing here is setting up a list of criteria for businesses to show up on your final prospect list.


Is the company too small to get any value from your product or service? It’s off your list.


Is the company in an industry that’s outside of your niche? It’s off your list.


When you’re putting these criteria together, it can feel like you’re being a little too restrictive. But don’t worry about it: it’s better to start with a list that’s too targeted than one that’s not targeted enough.


Now that you’ve got your basic customer persona together, it’s time for the fun part: now you need to get into your ideal customer’s head. It’s important to get to know as much as possible about the kind of person you’re dealing with, so you can know how to sell to them.


You want to ask yourself questions like this:


  1. What kinds of problems does this person work with all day?
  2. What kinds of fantasies does this person have?
  3. What are the everyday aches and pains that this person deals with?
  4. What is it about my product or service that really makes it indispensable for this person?


These questions are important. These questions are crucial. Because with cold email, it’s extremely easy for you to forget you’re selling to human beings. (That’s when your emails start getting spammy.)


If you can get into your ideal prospect’s head, you’ve got a fighting chance of using your cold email tactics to reel in more sales than you thought possible.


Hunting for Email Addresses

Now, you’re ready to actually go and get your list together. Remember: as you’re making this list, you want to contact the person who is most likely to be the decision-maker.


Maybe that sounds obvious, but let me tell you this much: when you’re doing it, you’re going to feel a real temptation to cut this corner and go for the generic company email. In the moment, it feels like you’re saving time and effort.


So I want you to remember an important truth that’s served me well as long as I’ve been smart enough to know about it. It’s a little truth I like to call NEVER trust your feelings.


Now, this is going to take us a little far afield, but I think it’s worth emphasizing: your feelings have never, and will never lead you anywhere you want to be. Let’s be honest: if you listened to what your feelings told you, wouldn’t you be lying in bed all the time crying your eyes out and eating ice cream?


(I mean that seriously. It’s a serious question. Am I the only person on Earth who feels like that all the time?)


So if you want to make it anywhere in life, you stuff those feelings deep, deep, deep down where you can resolve them healthily sometime long after you’re dead.


Now back to the point. You’re going to want to contact someone who is:


  1. A decision-maker capable of hiring you.
  2. In a company that fits your ideal customer profile.
  3. At a personal business address.


Once you’ve found the address you’re using, you’re going to want to list it on a nice spreadsheet so you can keep track. You can think of them as your hit list. You can think of yourself as the Eighth Air Force, and this is the list of targets you need to bomb.


Or you can just take that list and act like they’re a bunch of contacts you’ve got to email. It’s up to you.


If you’re wondering how many emails you need to send, I’d say you can’t come up short if you get a list of about seven billion prospects. The more the better. Remember: in world domination cold email, your business is to make everyone in the world bow down and worship you aware of your services.


So put it this way: make sure you’ve got enough prospects to be statistically significant. I can’t tell you what that means, because I’ve never taken a statistics class, but I can tell you it doesn’t mean making a list of ten people.


See what you can get done in an afternoon. It’s an iterative process, you know?


How to Make Contact

Anyways, so now that you’ve got your hit list all lined up, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to take care of them. You’ve got to imagine yourself as Lee Harvey Oswald just about to pull the trigger or Donald Trump with his finger on the big red button.


Or whatever works for you.


You’ve got to write up your letters, no matter how you think of it. Writing your letters is the fun part of the process because it’s where you make sure you can really jive with the people you’re selling your services to. You want to make sure you’re on the same page, and that you can get along with this person.


So that means you need to write a letter that does two things:

  1. Makes them curious about your offer.
  2. Makes them want to reach out to you.
  3. Compels them to open up their wallets and give you all their money.
  4. Drives them to tell all their friends and business acquaintances about your amazing service.


There are two ways of doing this: I like to call them the short letter and the long letter.


(Word to the wise: never write a medium-length letter. It’s bad form, it’s disgusting, and it’s outlawed by the Geneva Convention.)


Anyways, let’s get to fundamentals and execution, okay?


Tactics for the Short Letter

The short letter is very short. If your letter is longer than 100 words, you’re getting too long. You want to aim for something in the neighborhood of 30-50 words, full of punch.


You want to use simple sentences. Should you ask rhetorical questions? You should ask rhetorical questions.


Should you make sure the reader feels an overwhelming need to get back to you? You should make sure the reader feels an overwhelming need to get back to you.


How do you do that? Simple. You ask some questions that draw out your recipient’s imagination. He or she should feel compelled to wonder what your message is about.


What am I saying here? I’m saying you don’t spell out why you’re contacting them. You let them figure it out. You write something like:


Hi Jeremiah,


I really like your website, first off. You’ve got a great setup, and I think the product descriptions really let me know why I might consider the Acme Stretching Rack for all my inquisitorial needs. You don’t always see that kind of family-friendly atmosphere around dungeon equipment, you know?


Anyways, I was wondering if you could do me a favor. My name is Geofrey Crow, and I’m a writer with Crow Copywriting. Could you help me get in touch with someone who can talk to me about content marketing?





This is a little on the long side for a short letter, but you see the basic moves here. With the short letter, the whole point is to prompt a response from the reader.


You’ll especially want to look at the end. Now, we’ve already taken care to make sure the reader is likely to be our decision-maker, but we’re not approaching him or her in a salesy way. We’re just asking if they’ll help us get in touch with the decision-maker.


Another point you’ll want to notice is that we haven’t said we’re trying to sell anything. The reader can definitely figure it out from reading it, of course—never forget that your reader’s a smart person. But we haven’t said it, and that means we’re not pushy.


It also means the only people who will respond will be a self-selected bunch who is at least a little bit interested. And that means everything when it comes to our sales cycle.


Tactics for the Long Letter

Now, the long letter is like the short letter, except everything is different.


Instead of aiming for a start to the process, with a long letter you aim to make the whole sale all at once. That means you’ve got about a million things to do, and there’s no way I could possibly cover them in this little section. But I’ll try to give you the basics right here.


With the long letter, your goal is to create something that beats your prospect over the head with how wonderful and valuable your offer is that they feel compelled to capitulate and buy your offer.


It’s about making your offer so desirable and so low-risk that they won’t be able to contain their enthusiasm. It’s about strapping them to the hospital bed and pumping them with an IV full of so much value they beg to be allowed to buy your offer. It’s about demonstrating what you can do with such force and such strength that they can’t help but feel that they need to put your offer to work for them.


When you do this, you’ve got two main things you’re working on: 1) you want to generate buying desire, and 2) you want to lower the fear of purchasing.


Those are important, but there’s one thing you want to do above all else: you want to command your reader’s attention. You want to have your prospect wrapped around your finger. You want them breathlessly holding on to every single word you’ve written.


People are always talking about how hard it is to get attention these days, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. No wonder it’s hard for them to get attention when they’re writing the same boring old drivel that makes you want to throw up.


(And have you ever tried writing that awful stuff? It’s worse than driving silver needles through your hands.)


So when people talk about the attention economy, there’s nothing to worry about. The fact is, you don’t want the whole world to pay attention. You want your ideal customer to pay attention.


Because the really wonderful thing is when you’ve got that attention. When someone’s tuned in to your message just right. When it’s not just some message you dreamed up because some marketer told you it was a good idea, but it was actually your message.


When you can command attention like that, you can close the sale.


How to Close the Sale

Now, with the long email you’re working an entirely different cycle, so I’ll have to tell you something about that some other time. With the short email, your sales cycle begins as soon as you get a response.


Usually it’s going to be something lukewarm, like, “Well, we’re glad you contacted us. Maybe you could send us a portfolio and we can see if we’d work well together.”


That’s not a bad answer to get. It’s an answer you’re going to get a lot. In fact, it’s an answer you’re going to get so often that you’ll probably want to come up with a semi-standard response.


As you move through the sales cycle, you’ve got to define your goals. You need to map out an ideal email exchange. You’ll want to know things like:


  1. How are you going to take control of the exchange? (i.e., How are you going to frame your questions leading to the sale?)
  2. How are you going to ramp up your prospect’s desire for your offer?
  3. How are you going to lower the prospect’s buying resistance?
  4. How are you going to make the transition into closing?


So if your first goal is to take control of the exchange, you’re going to have to figure out why your prospect is going to want to buy your service in the first place. You want to go after some particular pain points, and you want to fasten on them.


Now, unless you’ve got a really perverse love of confrontation, you’re going to have to work yourself up in order to get this done. Because the fact is: everybody hates selling. It’s the reason the people who are good at it make so much.


Because let’s be honest: no matter how great the product or service you’re selling, there are moments when it’s going to feel manipulative. You’re going to feel slimy and weird, and you’re going to hate every minute of it.


You’ll wonder why I’m saying that in a guide to cold email selling. I’m telling you that because I’ve seen other people peddle a lot of doublethink about how “if you’re uncomfortable with selling, it must be because you don’t believe in your product.”


That’s a load of bunk, first off.


The best salesperson in the world didn’t love selling when they started out. But here’s the thing: with time, and effort, and a lot of practice, they got better at it. Eventually they got good enough at it that they started enjoying it.


It’s a little like learning to enjoy coffee, or beer, or chewing on rocks till your teeth grind away. Email selling might sound like an unbelievable nightmare right now, but with practice you’ll be able to do it. And once you start succeeding, it’s easier to continue succeeding.


Just remember: the beginning is the hardest part of any process. If you can make it through the beginning, you can make it through the rest of the process. It’s a matter of grit and determination.


Phone Calls and Skype Sessions

And speaking of grit and determination, it’s time to mention the only things worse than selling via email: selling via phone, Skype, or (horror of horrors!) face to face. We all know you started a business because you wanted to avoid human contact for the rest of your natural life. What’s with all these prospects who want to actually interact with you?


Well, I’ve got a simple solution to that: tell them you’re dead. You’ll never hear from them again after that.


Much as I hate to say it, you’re probably going to have to show your face to your customers at some point.


Now, I know this is like pulling teeth, but you might even want to suggest those meetings yourself. Granted, you’ll probably rather smash your head under a tractor trailer’s wheels, but it’s what you need to do.


If they’ve expressed some interest but they’re still not buying, there’s probably part of them that thinks you’re a slobbering caveman who’s trying to land them in a Nigerian prince scheme.


(Now, of course the fact that they think that about you makes you so angry that you want to get your hands around their throats and let them have it. But you just have to accept it. It’s what people think. Just fill your little voodoo doll full of needles and get over it.)


Just remember: everybody hates business meetings. The person on the other side of the Skype screen is dreading it just as much as you are.


So as long as you can remember that, it means you’re dreading it just a little less than them. And if you can dread it a little less, you can force yourself through the process to the sale. Remember: you’re responsible for everything, if you fail to make the sale it’s entirely your fault, and if you don’t manage to make sales your entire business will die horribly.


But no pressure though. Remember: confidence is key.


How to Make the Close

Making the close is a matter of following through with the momentum you’ve built up from your masterful treatment. You’ve worked yourself into all your customer’s pain points, you’ve met all their objections, and you’ve demonstrated the massive value of your product or service.


Things are going pretty well. That means you’re ready to close the sale. How do you do that?


For starters: you ask for it. You (as in you) have to ask the prospect (as in the prospect) to agree to the sale. There are plenty of ways to do that, so don’t worry.


Here’s the thing you have to remember: if you’re far enough along that you can make an ask without immediately getting shut down, you’re getting close. So ask early and ask often.


Remember: you have to do this. I know there’s a part of you that’s thinking, “Oh please for the love of God and all his angels, don’t make me do this! I’d rather die than do this!”


Every time that thought strikes you, I want you to imagine something: I want you to tell yourself that if you back off now you’ll be the sorriest, lousiest, most pathetic piece of trash that ever deserved to get shoveled off to pollute the Pacific Ocean.


It’s a matter of pride. You have to push yourself through the sequence.


Because in a way it’s not even about the sale. The sale is the dopamine rush at the end. The sale is the reward. But the sale isn’t really what it’s about, psychologically speaking.


What’s it about? It’s about being willing to push yourself through something you hate. It’s about facing that craven, cowardly, submissive part of your soul and doing all you can do to kill it. It’s about willingly putting yourself under the massive psychological pressure that goes into closing the sale.


In the end, selling isn’t about the sale. It isn’t even about the money.


It’s about self-respect.


Conclusion: Remember it’s an Iterative Process

I know you might be thinking this article turned out to be less of a how-to guide on cold selling than a pep talk on forcing yourself through it.


And you know what? You’re exactly right.


Because cold email selling isn’t complicated. I can let you know the basics, but the basics really aren’t the important thing. The important thing is committing to mastering the process and getting it done.


You’re going to send out a lot of emails before you master the process. You’re going to get told NO! more times than you’ll want to count before you master the process. You’re going to get told no more times than you’ll want to count even after you master the process.


The techniques are easy to describe, but they’re tough as nails to master. Mastering the process is a matter of forcing yourself through it, again and again and again.


You need to learn the selling process so well you can go through it in your sleep.


You need to kill that part of yourself that wants everybody to like you. The part that thinks it’s going to die if one person doesn’t approve of you.


You need to take your mind and turn it into a hammer with one purpose: to drive the value of your offer into your customer’s mind.


Remember: it’s a mental game, and winning the game is a matter of practice, persistence, and an absolute dedication to holding yourself to a high standard.


You can’t worry about things like seeming “salesy” or being “pushy.” When you go in to sell, you’re facing two possibilities: when you walk out of that room, either you’ve made the sale, or you’re going to be figuring out why they said no.


That means you have to force yourself through the whole process every time. You don’t have the option of leaving a customer alone after they say, “Maybe.”


Maybe means you haven’t sold them yet. Maybe means they haven’t said no yet. Maybe means you have to keep going, because you can’t allow yourself to take maybe for an answer.


Now go make sales. Let me know if you have any questions.


How to Work on ROI and Improve Your Measurements

It’s unavoidable. When it comes to marketing, your clients are always going to want to know about ROI.


(Believe me, I understand the pain here. Not only do they want you to work for them, but they also want results!)


ROI stands for “Return on Investment.” It’s a technical term dreamed up by a bunch of accountants to rob marketers and copywriters of their precious beauty sleep. If you’re interested in math, here’s the formula for ROI, courtesy of the wonderful people of Investopedia:



The trouble for advertisers and marketers is that it’s difficult to measure ROI precisely. It’s hard to measure things like brand awareness. Nobody really knows how effective a TV ad is, for example.


There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. With targeted and easily-trackable forms of advertising (like direct mail or social media ads), it’s easy to track your ROI all the way down to the second decimal.


If you’re not working with that kind of advertising, you’re going to have a little more trouble proving the effectiveness of your efforts.

Hootsuite has a few great suggestions for how to solve this little problem for social media marketing. It’s a matter of finding the metrics you can work on that guarantee the effectiveness of your social media strategy over time.


When it comes to planning a social media strategy, there’s no straightforward way to optimize for ROI. So it’s helpful to use metrics like your conversation rate, which is where you take the average number of comments per post and divide that by your number of followers (or likes, etc.). This kind of thinking lets you get a strong measure of how engaged your following is.


How does that sound to you? How do you go about proving ROI to clients?