“Hi, my name is Christa Nichols, and Bart Miller told me to come over here and introduce myself and let you know I’m the best copywriter he’s ever worked with and tell you that if you need anything to come to me,” I said, putting my hand forward for a handshake.
The tanned, surfer-haired man in front of me smiled a wide smile and said, “Sweet! What kind of copy do you write?”
Lead Generation & Freelance Writers
I just spent a week in Orlando at Funnel Hacking Live, a digital marketing conference. One afternoon during lunch break, my business coach took me aside and pointed at a nearby table.
“Go over there and introduce yourself to that guy,” he said. “Tell him Bert Miller said you’re the best copywriter he’s ever worked with and that if he needs anything he should come to you.”
I’ve learned to trust my coaches, so I did. I ended up having a great conversation with an entrepreneur who’s launching a new book later this year. He needs a copywriter. I am a copywriter. Match made in heaven.
If only lead generation was always that easy, right?
Maybe the idea of approaching someone with that level of boldness is enough to make you want to find a rock and crawl under it. I know that was the case for me early in my freelance writing career. I would have rather died than pitch myself like that because I was afraid the person would laugh in my face.
Thankfully, as I’ve gotten more experienced and had a chance to write for some of the biggest names in the business, my confidence has increased. Today, having conversations with entrepreneurs and influencers about their sales copy needs is one of my very favorite things to do, and lead generation has gotten a whole lot easier.
The most important thing though is that I took that first step and got started with lead generation.
Lead Generation From Anywhere
Lead generation is one of the five core functions of a freelance writing business. The good news is, there are tons of ways to do lead generation as a freelance writer that are much less intimidating than my coach’s challenge to me. In this article, I’m going to break down a number of ways that freelance writers can collect leads without ever having to leave home or have a face-to-face, one-on-one conversation.
One of my favorite parts about being a freelancer is that I can work with anyone from anywhere. I don’t have to restrict my clientele to my local area. Although it might be tempting to think that brick-and-mortar businesses have it easy because all they have to do is talk to the people who walk through the door, I actually think it’s the other way around.
Because of the internet, I think freelancers have it easier. Think about it. All we have to do is send an email or a DM and we can be in front of someone new in an instant. That doesn’t, however, mean we should turn into Spammy McSpammerson. So what should you do for lead generation then? Let’s dive in!
Think of lead generation as making a trade. You are asking someone to give you something that they value – their email address. So you need to offer something of value in return. This does two very important things.
First, giving value shows your target audience that you are an expert who can help them with a problem that they have. By showing that you know and understand what they need and then presenting it to them in the form of a lead magnet, they begin to look to you for solutions. They realize they need what you have.
Second, giving value builds trust, and trust builds relationships. When you do lead generation and lead with relationship, you not only become somebody they need to work with, you become somebody they want to work with. Somebody they will choose over the competition because they feel they have a relationship with you and they trust you.
Make It Easy
If you want somebody to give you their email address, you have to make it easy. Any obstacle or extra stuff that stands in the way makes it harder and harder for someone to stay the course and follow through.
Lead generation does not have to be complicated for you or for your target audience. It’s actually very simple. Here’s what you need for simple lead generation:
- A lead magnet – something that offers value for free in return for an email address
- A place to store the lead magnet – I recommend Google Drive. Just don’t forget to set the permissions to “Anyone with the link can view”.
- A place to opt-in – This can be as simple as an email capture form or as robust as a full sales funnel with tripwires and upsells and downsells. My advice? Start small with free tools and grow from there.
- An email platform – You’ll need an email platform that captures the email address and automatically adds them to your list. MailChimp is free up to a certain number of subscribers, or you can go with a paid platform for more features and list-growing tools.
- A delivery email – Once they give you their email address, it’s time to fulfill by sending them the lead magnet. This is your chance to provide even more value by sending them an email that delivers the lead magnet and nurtures them to the next step in your value ladder, like booking a call.
The easier and clearer you can make it for your target audience to opt in for your lead magnet, the better. Don’t ask them for more information than you really need at this point. At most, ask for their name and their email address. You don’t need their mailing address or their phone number right now, and research shows that the more information you ask for in a free opt-in form, the fewer people actually opt-in.
Lead Generation Ideas
I know what you’re thinking right now.
“But Christa, what if I don’t have a lead magnet?”
Then it’s time to create one!
There are so many cool ideas out there for lead generation for freelance writers, and it’s easier than you think to create a lead magnet. It doesn’t have to be super complicated. A simple PDF download can work very well for lead generation. Canva is a great tool for creating attractive PDF downloads, and it’s simple and free to use. Here are my top ideas for things to offer as lead magnets when you do lead generation as a freelance writer:
Swipe Files. Pull together your best headlines or Pinterest descriptions or ad copy – whatever you’re good at – and put them all together in a Google doc for people to get ideas and inspiration from.
Checklists. Do you have a signature process that helps save time in your business? Certain things you always check for before turning a project over to a client? Use Canva to create a checklist for your target audience.
Case Studies. People always love seeing how someone just like them got a result. Put together a report of where one of your clients was before they started working with you and where they are as a result of working with you. You can make this a PDF download or a video case study. Don’t forget the call to action to book a call with you so they can see how you can work together to get similar results too!
Templates. Do you have a template you use for one of your writing processes? Or maybe a questionnaire you use to get target marketing information for your clients? Templates can be invaluable to business owners and entrepreneurs who have no idea how to get the information they need from their target markets.
Quizzes. Quizzes are fun. They just are – AND they get great engagement! You can use Typeform to create a free quiz that provides a result for your target audience. Make it juicy – something they can’t help but want to know the answer to – and they’ll be excited to give you their email.
Downloadable Guide. We may be creatives, but freelance writers still have systems and processes. Record one of yours in an easy-to-follow format, create it as a downloadable PDF. You’ll be providing a valuable shortcut to someone else that they no longer have to come up with on their own.
Simple Is Sustainable
Lead generation does not have to be complicated. In fact, the more complicated it is, oftentimes the less effective it is. When you are just getting started as a freelance writer, simplicity is your best friend, and done is better than perfect.
Make your list part of your livelihood by continuing to grow it with a simple lead magnet that offers value that your target audience will trade their email address for. After all, no one ever said, “Gee, I wish I had never grown my email list.”
And like I said above, it does not have to be hard. You want something that’s going to be easy for you to maintain and easy for your target audience to act on. It also does not have to be expensive. You don’t need all of the latest complicated and expensive software tools. You can bootstrap your lead generation, and that kind of lead generation is sustainable as you grow your business.
More From Christa Nichols
Want to learn more about how to attract your ideal clients straight to you? I have just what you need. Join me for the Client Attraction Crash Course, a free 5-day live event where I’ll walk you through my five secrets to attracting your first or next freelance writing project. Click here to sign up. Our next session starts soon!