Your B2B Success Path Roadmap
Level 1 — Just starting out
- New to B2B or freelance copywriting
- Fewer than five client projects
- Want guidance on getting started
Level 2 — Part-time Writer
- Completed the Secrets of Writing High-Performance B2B Copy program
- Five or more paid client projects
- Want guidance on growing your business
Level 3 — Full-time Writer
- Completed one or more focus training programs (Lead-gen, white papers, case studies, etc.)
- Have a steady client flow
- Want guidance on achieving your income goal
B2B Success Path Roadmap — Level 1
Step 1: Your Focus
There are two major areas of B2B writing: B2B direct-response copywriting and B2B content marketing. Choosing one of the two will let you focus on the type of writing you’re most interested in and help you get your business going faster.
You can, of course, choose to do both. Or, you can master one, and then add in the other later. It’s completely up to you!
B2B direct-response copywriting includes lead generation, website copy, email marketing, and website copy.
A B2B content writer focuses on projects such as white papers, case studies, email newsletters, video scripts, articles, and blog posts.
As we go through the Roadmap, you’ll sometimes see different resources recommended for the two focus areas.
Step 2: Your Foundation
Without a solid foundation, your business will struggle, especially in the critical early stages.
Whether you’ve chosen to focus on direct-response copywriting or content marketing, Secrets of Writing High-Performance Business-to-Business Copy will provide that much-needed foundation.
In the program, B2B Master Copywriter Steve Slaunwhite covers the key influencers of the B2B buying decision, the critical elements your copy must have to get a prospect’s attention, and how to successfully complete a B2B writing project.
As a B2B Writing Success member, you also have access to Steve Slaunwhite’s Quick Start Guide to 31 B2B Copywriting Projects.
This is especially helpful when you’re working on a project for the first time. You’ll find both direct-response copywriting and content projects in the guide.
Step 3: Freelance First Steps
In addition to understanding how to write for B2B audiences, you’ll also need to handle the business side of your freelance business. We’ll address getting clients in Steps 9 and 10 of the Level 1 Success Path Roadmap.
But first, it’s helpful to get a big-picture idea of how you’ll get from where you are now to where you want to be.
The 3 Roadmaps for B2B Business Start-Up Success Webinar gives you an overview of the journey to full-time B2B copywriter, whether you’re starting your business on the side while working a full-time job, jumping in full-time right away, or transitioning from another type of writing business.
Another helpful resource is the Getting Started Roadmap to Success. In Module 1, we cover the initial steps to take when making the leap into a freelance career.
Bookmark this link to a master list of all the content on the B2B Writing Success site related to getting started as a B2B copywriter or content writer so you’ll be able to access it easily.
Step 4: Choose Your Niche (Target Market)
Before you start marketing your services, it’s best to define exactly which types of companies you will market to. Defining your target market, or niche, can help you grow your freelance copywriting business faster and be more profitable.
Remember, this is just a starting point. You can change your niche in the future. But if you’ll pick one to start, you’ll have a much easier time marketing yourself and finding clients.
Pam Foster explains why you want to choose a niche, how to determine the one best for you, and where to find clients in your niche in this interview.
There’s a step-by-step process for choosing your niche in Module 2 of the Getting Started Roadmap.
In this webinar, Ed Gandia addresses four critical elements to look for before deciding on a niche, and explains how to find a market “sweet spot” that’s perfect for you.
And a full list of all the resources on the site related to choosing and working with a B2B niche can be found here.
Need more help? Pam Foster’s program How to Choose Your Writing Niche: Your Step-by-Step Blueprint for Choosing a Profitable Niche That’s Right for You helps you find a niche with plenty of high-paying clients where you can shine.
Step 5: Set Up Your Freelance Business
Now that you know who you’ll be offering your services to, it’s time to get the legal and accounting groundwork laid for your freelance business.
Don’t worry, we’ve made it easy for you. Just follow the process in Module 3 of the Getting Started Roadmap.
One tool that’s a must-have for every working copywriter is AWAI’s Essential Templates for Your Copywriting Business.
You’ll get six project management templates, six copy templates, and four marketing templates — every business-critical template you need!
Step 6: Your Freelance Website
One of the advantages of being a freelance writer is that you don’t need to have physical office space for your clients to visit. You do, however, need a professional website.
Setting up your website doesn’t have to be complicated or scary. Just follow the guidelines in these resources to get your freelance site up and running.
This module of the Getting Started Roadmap addresses setting up your freelance website.
B2B website expert Dianna Huff explains the options for setting up your site and fills you in on what B2B clients expect to see on your site in this webinar.
Here are other helpful freelance website resources:
Want step-by-step guidance to build your website? Rebecca Matter and Nick Usborne make the process easy in their program, Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days.
Even if you have no prior website experience, you’ll have your site up and running in less than a week!
What about samples? Putting samples on your site can add credibility and demonstrate your writing abilities to potential clients.
Even if you haven’t worked for a B2B client yet, you can develop samples for your portfolio.
Steve Slaunwhite explains easy ways to create a professional portfolio in this webinar.
And here’s a guide on how to write a case study without a client.
Plus, you can use any of the writing exercises in your copywriting programs to show off your skills!
Step 7: Social Media
Next, you’ll want to set up your social media pages.
One of the most powerful social media platforms for B2B copywriters is LinkedIn. If you only set up one social media account, make it this one.
Steve Maurer walks you through the process of setting up a LinkedIn profile that will attract your ideal client in this Roadmap for Success.
We’ll address leveraging LinkedIn to attract clients in Level 2.
Step 8: Your Professional Fees
Almost every new copywriter struggles with how to price their services so we’re going to make this step really easy for you.
One huge advantage of working in the B2B market is companies are accustomed to paying professional fees for copywriting services.
In fact, quoting a price that’s too low is likely to be seen as a sign of inexperience and cost you the job.
We’ve assembled all the resources you need to help you know what to charge for your writing services.
First, listen to this interview with business coach Ilise Benun. In it, she explains when to discuss price, what you can negotiate, and even how to overcome your money-talk anxiety.
Then review this module of the Getting Started Roadmap on pricing your services.
You can also check out AWAI’s 2017 Copywriting Pricing Guide here.
For guidance specifically targeted to B2B clients, Steve Slaunwhite’s How to Price, Quote, and Win B2B Writing Projects includes recommended price ranges for over 75 B2B projects.
Ilise Benun’s program, AWAI’s Simplest Guide to Pricing Copy Projects goes into detail on establishing your minimum fee, negotiating, and developing packages of services.
Step 9: Your First Client
It doesn’t matter how good a copywriter you are and how amazing your website is if you never get a client.
I have good news! It doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. Let’s look at how you can land your first B2B project quickly and easily.
- Reach out to your family and friends and offer to work for them for a reduced fee or on spec. If they like what you write, they agree to use it and give you a testimonial.
- Writing every day is an excellent way to improve your skills. So why not get paid too? Sites such as Upwork help you quickly land paid writing projects and as Don Holt discovered, the experience can be valuable.
- Contact marketing agencies in your area and offer to handle their work overflow.
- Directly contact companies in your niche and let them know you’re available for copywriting projects.
While it’s fine to take one or two free or low-paying projects, don’t make it a lifestyle!
There are hundreds of B2B companies willing to pay the professional fees you deserve. Once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of getting your first project or two, it’s time to start charging the fees you set in Step 8.
For more on landing your first client, see this module in the Getting Started Roadmap.
You can find a master list of all the resources on B2B Writing Success related to finding and landing clients here.
Steve Slaunwhite’s program Getting B2B Clients: How to Land Great Clients Fast in Just 6 Easy Steps will help you find the best prospects, avoid common mistakes when contacting them, and land more projects.
Step 10: Maximize Your Client Relationships
As you work with your first few clients, take note of the types of projects you enjoy doing the most. We’ll use that information in Level 2 of your B2B Success Path Roadmap.
This module in the Getting Started Roadmap will help you start off on the right foot with clients, interact professionally with them, and handle difficult client situations that sometimes arise.
For much more on maximizing every client relationship, Pam Foster’s Working with Clients Roadmap covers all aspects of working with B2B clients, from the initial contract to delivering a finished product that makes them say, “wow!”
For more resources on the B2B Writing Success site related to working with clients, go here.
You’ve done it! You’re now a working B2B copywriter!
From here, it only gets easier… and more fun. Be sure to revisit your long-term goal often so you never lose sight of where you’re headed.
B2B Success Path Roadmap — Level 2
Step 1: Fill Your Schedule with Your Ideal Clients
Now it’s time to set up your marketing system so you’ll always have a steady stream of high-quality clients.
Steve Slaunwhite recommends you develop your own “winning formula” — a set of marketing activities that generate the leads and referrals you need to hit your revenue goals.
In this interview, he discusses seven proven B2B prospecting strategies.
This webinar with Ed Gandia gives you the strategies to stair-step your way to higher-paying clients.
This module of the Getting Started Roadmap walks you through setting up a robust marketing system.
In Step 7 of Level 1, you set up your LinkedIn Profile. Now it’s time to use LinkedIn to attract your ideal clients. These resources will help:
Here are more resources to help you develop the perfect marketing system for you:
You can find even more on marketing your services here.
A caution here: Don’t try to do everything! Instead, select one or two strategies that fit your market and your own personality.
The real key to attracting and landing more clients is to market yourself consistently. Whichever strategy you choose, execute it daily and you’ll get results.
Step 2: Determine Your Needs to Go Full-Time
How much income do you need to make to quit your job and go full-time as a freelance copywriter? Or to have the financial security you want?
While freelancing has the benefit of personal freedom, there are financial considerations, especially if you currently have a full-time job with benefits.
A few things to take into account are:
- The cost of providing your own health insurance currently provided by your employer.
- In the U.S., your employer pays 50% of your social security taxes. As a freelancer, you’ll pay 100% of the tax.
- As a freelancer, you’ll have full responsibility for setting aside money for retirement.
- Unless you set up a corporation for your business, you’ll need to pay quarterly estimated taxes on your income.
- On the positive side, some of the expenses you’ve been incurring such as the cost of commuting, maintaining a professional wardrobe, or eating lunch out will go away.
For a very rough estimate of the income you’ll need as a freelancer to match your current take home pay, multiply your current salary by 1.2. So, if you’re making $100,000 today, a comparable freelance salary might be $120,000.
In her webinar on pricing, Ilise Benun goes through a calculation to help you determine what you need to make in total, and per hour you work.
Your CPA can help you find your exact minimum income needs.
If you’re starting your business on the side, try to save your copywriting income so you have a cushion when you make the leap to full-time freelancing.
Step 3: Sharpen Your Writing Skills
You have a solid foundation in B2B copy and content. Now’s the time to sharpen your skills in the project areas that interest you most.
Each year, the 4 Weeks to B2B Mastery Virtual Workshop gives B2B copywriters a chance to get focused training on the most popular B2B projects. (Check out the Live Blog from the 2016 event here.)
Participants have the opportunity to submit writing assignments for professional feedback. Plan to attend the next virtual workshop — it’s an easy way to develop your copywriting skills.
Get paid before you start writing web copy by charging for a site audit. Pam Foster’s Site Audit Roadmap guides you through a site audit project and sets you up as the go-to writer for their website copy.
For those pursuing direct-response copywriting, these focus programs are recommended:
For those pursuing B2B content marketing, these focus programs are recommended:
For an overview of B2B content: Crash Course in B2B Content
The following programs aren’t dedicated B2B programs, however, they address writing for online media, which is used extensively by your B2B clients.
Step 4: Maximize Your Productivity
True productivity is getting the tasks done that will move you toward your goals, not simply getting more done.
In this module of the Getting Started Roadmap, you’ll find strategies for a more productive day, ways to stay organized, and tools to help you work more efficiently.
Mindy McHorse, Executive Editor of Barefoot Writer explains how she avoids overwhelm here.
One of the challenges we face as freelancers is letting too much “home” creep into our home office. Steve Slaunwhite shares his advice for managing a home office in this article.
Keeping track of all of your projects doesn’t have to be complicated. Use this method — it’s low-tech, but it works!
In this podcast, Steve Slaunwhite talks about strategies to rev up your productivity.
For large projects, Jon Stoltzfus’ Project Management Roadmap will help you complete even the most complex project on time.
Establish good habits now, and your freelance business will have room to thrive.
Congratulations! You’re a full-time freelance B2B copywriter.
You’ve gained highly valuable skills that can secure your financial future and your independence!
From here, you’re able to work as much — or as little — as you want and still earn a very nice income.
For those who want to continue to increase their income… we advance to the Success Path Roadmap — Level 3.
B2B Success Path Roadmap — Level 3
Step 1: Building a Six-Figure Income
In the last module of the Getting Started Roadmap, discover how to achieve a six-figure income by increasing project and client value.
Step 2: Your Options for Maximum Income
Ready to go past six-figures? Maybe even to seven? It’s possible! Here are seven options for maximizing your income using your copywriting, marketing, and business skills.
- Become a project expert
Gordon Graham is known as “That White Paper Guy” and can command higher fees than other white paper writers because he is recognized as the top expert in his field.
Casey Hibbard specializes in writing case studies and has a never-ending supply of high-paying clients.
If there’s a project type you love, consider becoming a project expert and get top dollar for your services.
One caution — if you specialize in one type of copy, you may need to broaden your target market. Casey Hibbard explains the perils of “double niching” in this article.
- Broaden your B2B projects
If you’ve established yourself as a content writer, adding in direct-response copywriting will allow you to do more work for your clients.
In addition, lead-generation copy often pays more than other projects, so you’re making more per hour of work too.
- Expand your skills
Take your direct-response copywriting skills to an even higher level with AWAI’s Advanced Training program.
Dan Kennedy’s Business of Copywriting Academy shows you how to turn your copywriting career into a lucrative business where you get paid much more than you’ve dreamed of.
- Project Management
As a project manager, you’ll oversee all aspects of a client copywriting project or even a full marketing campaign.
Not only can you charge for the copywriting you do, you can also charge a fee for managing the project.
When you go beyond copywriting alone and add consulting services to your client engagements, you have the opportunity to greatly increase your income.
See how Mike Connolly has been able to add value to his copywriting projects as a consultant.
And in this video, Joshua Boswell explains the difference between being a copywriter and a “value accelerator.”
Another way to multiply your income is to become a copywriting agency and hire other copywriters to work for you.
This strategy works especially well in a niche market, where you can establish yourself as the go-to copywriting agency.
As your agency grows, you’ll spend less and less time writing, and more and more time marketing for clients. Or relaxing on the beach — your choice!
- Your own business
You may even have a business idea of your own you want to pursue. Christina Gillick has used her copywriting skills to promote her business ComfyEarrings.com.
Other writers have started information marketing businesses, Money-Making Websites, and a host of other business ventures.
Check out Ben Settle’s 10-Minute Workday program, which shows you how to develop a steady income writing just one email a day.
If you have a passion, you now have the skills to turn it into a successful business.
Step 3: Enjoying The Writer’s Life
You’ve done it!
Do you realize how far you’ve come? Think back to the day you landed your first client. When you were unsure of your ability to do this “copywriting thing.”
Look how far you’ve come.
Now you’re here. With a great income and the freedom to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want.
Enjoy what you’ve created! Celebrate it!
And most of all, share it with those you love.