light-bulb-momentIf I were to come across this title, I would be thinking “yeah right.” But I assure you that this is true and the way it was done was not revolutionary or difficult in the least.

What got me thinking about this post was a comment by Mark (Wizzer) from 6M Profit Method on my last post titled My BS Revealed: Time Management Tricks for The Overachiever. Wizzer says:

I think the BIGGEST mistake far too many people make is not seeing things through to the conclusion. I’ve done it myself this week – created a site, found the content, amended a header etc but something real important stopped my from ftping it and promoting. That real important thing was I didn’t like some of my copy. As you say Bullsh** – it needs to go up NOW and the changes made later. Thanks for the kick up the ****.

The reason this comment got me thinking was because there was one very critical thing that I did to promote my copywriting business that I procrastinated about due to of some sort of fear that I was harboring. But once I pulled the trigger, I instantly generated a steady stream of income for 1.5 years. That thing cost me 15 minutes of time and a grand total of $0.

When I first went into business for myself as a freelance writer, I did not have the confidence that I have today. Like Mark, because I didn’t feel like I was “ready” I was hesitant to promote myself and was limiting my own potential.

The old way

Before I had this epiphany, I would scour Craigslist every day, responding to companies that needed copywriting and having them not write back to me 99.9% of the time. After a while, I just became accustomed to this and also grew accustomed to not making any money. This is dangerous thinking. Now that I know it doesn’t have to be like that, I wouldn’t put up with that for one second.

The epiphany

One day while driving home from dropping my daughter off at kindergarten, I thought about something that my one single solitary client told me when they called me. They said, “We hired an SEO company and they told us to find a freelance writer to write 10 pages of new content for our site.”

As glad as I was that the SEO company had instructed them to do this, I also couldn’t help but think that the SEO company was missing out by not finding the freelancer themselves. Surly they could earn additional profit by hiring their own freelance writer and marking up the fee to the end client.

Then it hit me… if this SEO company didn’t have a freelance writer on hand, maybe there were others just like it!

The formula

Identify a resource that already has the business you need
+ Allow them to expand their service offering by rebranding yours
+ Make the partnership profitable and stress-free for them
= Free marketing and money

The stall

Though I knew this was a great idea, I STILL went back to my desk and continued to look on Craigslist. I did this for several days. Why? The answer probably lies deep in the crevices of our subconscious mind – somewhere in the “fear” section. The excuses that I was telling myself were:

  • I need a website first
  • I need to get some kind of email marketing software
  • I need to come up with some sort of sales pitch
  • I need more in my portfolio
  • No one will really want this
  • I’m not good enough

The execution

All of these things, I figured would take several months to complete. The last 2 lies in the list allowed me to procrastinate indefinitely. About a week later, I had not received any leads from Craigslist, realized that I was more broke than ever before, and decided that I just needed to pull the trigger.

That day, I wrote on my “to do” list “contact 5 SEO companies.” Of course, I put this off until late afternoon. About a half hour before I had to pick up my daughter from kindergarten, I bit the bullet and sent a very simple text email to 5 SEO companies that I found on Google. The email ONLY covered the basics,

  • This is my name
  • This is what I do
  • These are my rates
  • Feel free to mark my rates up to your customer
  • If you need me here is my contact info

No sales pitch. No flashy graphics, no html template, no links to a website. Just the FACTS. This took a grand total of 15 minutes.

The results

Within 10 minutes I already had a call from someone who desperately needed what I had to offer. While on the phone, I mimed to my (then) husband to go pick up our daughter from school – I was busy revolutionizing my life. That one contact paid all of my bills for almost a year, allowed me to build a huge portfolio, and I am still working with them today.

At one point, they decided to change their strategy and offer their clients less copy which meant a significant decrease in work. I didn’t freak out one bit. I just sent the email out again to another 5 potential contacts (10 minutes) and that same day connected with another person who happened to be actively searching for a copywriter online at the moment my email came in.

That was the last time I ever advertised. These 2 contacts plus the people that they’ve referred to me have kept me so busy that I can’t even handle any additional clients.

In Short…

Pull the Trigger

My first word of advice is PULL THE TRIGGER, if you’re making excuses to yourself about why you’re “not ready” to move forward. You are.

Work Smarter at Marketing, Not Harder

My second word of advice is WORK SMARTER AT MARKETING, NOT HARDER. I am very accustomed to paying $0 for advertising and I refuse to spend a lot of money on it. In my last post, I mentioned that I had tried PPC for the first time. This was a little experiment in which I spend $25 over 2 days. My ad resulted in one lead but then the lead wrote back to say that he found out they already had a service like this.

Don’t Spend Tons of Money Generating Leads, Reduce Your Rates and Rev Share with Those That Are ALREADY Generating Leads

I will not spend one more cent on PPC. Not because I don’t think PPC is effective, but because I know there is a better way. Instead, I’m going to allow companies that already have traffic and allow them to ‘re-brand’ what I have to offer and earn a cut. This will allow them to bulk up their service offering, do nothing, and earn money.

Be Humble

If you are going to allow someone to rebrand your product or service, who cares if the end user knows they are getting your product from you. I’m not worried about building a brand. I don’t have the desire or the resources to build a powerful brand – that takes a lot of time and money. I just want to continue living in Palm Springs and earning a comfortable income. I don’t mind one bit if someone else takes the credit for what I’ve done.

This is how I’ve built a successful freelance business. But I’m not saying it’s the smartest way to build a business. At one point, all I wanted was to be a freelancer with a full plate.

But now that I’ve got it, I realize – as I have before with other goals I thought I wanted and then achieved – that there is a much better way to build a business. Applying these same techniques to a business that is designed more for AUTOMATION – where you can take yourself out of the picture and will still produce – is much more logical. My next goal is to replace my freelancing income with passive income by July of 2008.

Read the original comments discussion here