5-figure project


copy projects

Since I’ve started writing copy (self-employed), I’ve gotten a bunch of emails/DMs asking about various topics of freelancing. (Hate the term freelancing as it always is associated with ‘broke’ and ‘living with mom and dad’ — not true)…

I used to work as an accountant and made something like $58,000/year. At this point in 2017, I’ve already surpassed that and we’re not even 5 months into the year.

You don’t have to starve to freelance, but you do need to be doing LUCRATIVE projects.

It’s much better to have 10 clients that make you $100,000 than 500 clients making the same. 

Because your hourly rate with the 10 clients will be significantly higher (10X as much I’ve calculated)

Here’s how you get those copy projects.

1. TARGET ONE NICHE: I’ve had DMs about ‘how do I pick a niche.’ It’s fairly simple….
—> Find a niche that uses copy on a daily basis.


  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Survival
  • Marketing
  • Info-marketing
  • Golf lessons
  • Watch infomericals, target those companies to do VSLs
  • Relationships/Sex
  • Playing an instrument
  • Technology/Startups
  • Any business that sends regular emails out to clients (look for ones that already use good copy)
  • Any subscription business on the planet
  • Any guru in any niche imaginable
  • Any expensive product that needs explaining for someone to buy (not as much emotion for example, a pizza)

That’s just a small list. You have to do your research to figure out:
—> What could I see myself writing about everyday and not get bored?
—> (MORE IMPORTANTLY) Where can I find the niche that meshes perfectly with their needs & my fees

I write in the financial publishing niche. It’s a ton of fun to wake up and write about options and mutual funds…that’s just me.

For newbies, I probably wouldn’t recommend the financial niche as it’s very cutthroat. If you don’t produce killer ROI right out of the gate, expect to be summoned to the guillotine (known from experience).

But, I work at will because the industry is DESPERATE for good writers.

Actually, every niche is DESPERATE for good writers because consumers are as SKEPTICAL as ever. 
No more can you just slap on your packaging: “We have the best product ever!”

You need to be more persuasive and creative than that. Now more than ever as our attention span plummets to near squirrel-like levels.

KEY: Research. Research. Research the niche you want. It will take time. It will take talking (yes you have to talk to people even as a write) and asking about the industry. No way around this. Go to industry events. Reach out to industry peeps on Linkedin with a quick message.


Every marketing director wants “BIG IDEAS.” They wake up in the middle of the night sweating because that ‘next great idea’ won’t show up when they need it.

Every TV commercial you see in the middle of Sunday’s game came from someone’s “BIG IDEA” . Most suck which proves how hard it is to produce BIG IDEAS.

It’s up to you to bring these BIG IDEAS. Here’s an absolute promise/guarantee:

You could be a 100%, absolute beginning copywriter and land a 5-figure project tomorrow if…
You bring a BIG IDEA to a company right now that could produce more sales

That’s an absolute promise. I just wrote a promotion that brought in 6-figures and the reason it did well (and fast) — BIG IDEA.

Think about it: Say a company sells golf clubs. How many different ways can you sell a club? “Hit the ball 50 yards farther!” “Show off to your buddies!” “Pick up the cart girl with your long shaft!” 

Those have all been done (haven’t seen the third one yet…), but if you can figure out other angles to sell a driver, you’d get a gig tomorrow

If you can provide value upfront, it proves to the CEO, copy chief, marketing director you’re invested
What to look for when sending a BIG IDEA:

  1. A product that long copy would work great for
  2. Ideas to create a funnel or webinar around (include potential upsells/downsells)
  3. Potential websites and lists they can promote to

In essence, take all the hard-thinking off the table and show them WHAT they can do. Your job is then to sell them on HOW you’re the one for their copy projects.


All my clients I work with virtually. I used to have clients ‘in-town’ and hated it. Visiting them at their beck-and-call, etc…not what I want to do and normally they’re a waste of time.

I’ll talk about actually getting clients to agree to a phonecall in another post, as that’s a whole other topic.

When you finally get a potential prospect on the phone, you’re doing these things: 

  1. Immediately getting them to trust you
  2. Immediately convincing them you’re the right person to do the job
  3. Getting a budget/agreement right away

#1. Get them to trust you
This starts before you pick up the phone. In any initial emails, make sure you’re prompt and you’re taking the initiative to send the calendar invite and outline what you’ll talk about. Executives are busy and don’t want to do this minutiae.

Remember, the entire interaction from start to finish, they’re asking: Can I work with this person? Do I like working with this person?

Right when the call starts, make sure you have a smile and enthusiasm shining through the phone. This is music to the subconscious as the other person can sense you’re excited to talk and you’re someone of both authority and interest. People are drawn to those who sound enthusiastic (best speakers ever were all enthusiastic).

Next, you’ll need to take control of the call and make them feel you know what you’re talking about. If you just make it a : ‘They ask me about myself’ and ‘I answer’ , you lose strength pretty quick. You look like an amateur.

Instead, YOU BE THE ONE ASKING QUESTIONS. If you’re a beginner with little experience, this is massive. Because the worst way to lead off a call is:

” So Joe, thanks for setting up this call, tell me about yourself”
” Well, I’m new to this and just getting my feet wet, but I’d love to help you out…”

DEATH. You don’t want to bring up your inexperience until later in the call after they already discovered they like and trust you. 

Another major brownie point: PROVE TO THEM YOU’VE LOOKED AT THEIR PRODUCTS AND SITE. Sounds obvious, yet it surprises me again and again when a prospect asks “Have you looked at our site?” This means they’ve talked to other vendors who have not looked at their site!

WHAT TO DO: Mention a blog post the prospect wrote, mention an idea you heard them discuss at a talk they gave. This makes the prospect feel you’re absolutely serious.

It’s the difference between the spam emails you get: Mr. Business owner, I’d love to help you build out your ecommerce platform.

WTF? I’m a copywriter, I don’t sell ecommerce!


Hi Joe, I read your article on landing 5-figure contracts and especially liked your point about proving ‘you looked at their products and site.’ You do most of your selling through email and not as much inbound. There’s a few ways you could attract your financial niche prospects without having to cold email and would be much faster. I have a few big ideas that could help…

Now, i’m interested….

Easiest way to build trust: Ask them questions, listen, respond, and share ideas to help them. That’s all

#2: Convince them you’re the right person for the job

Especially, as a beginner, this can be tough as there’s always someone better out there. When you’re laying out your ideas, you want to create a breadcrumb trail leading to the prospect saying : “Oh, I really want this. This would really help.”

Much like in a courtroom, you’re laying out your idea and your case.

I notice you have some cheaper priced goods and then you have your premium products. Many of the top experts in the ecommerce space have had tremendous success doing this; Set up a sales page pitching your lower priced offerings. Then, after the sale, immediately upsell them on the higher priced. Why? Psychology says you’re more likely to buy again from a business right after you just bought something. It’ll take some work and some killer copy, but the bonus is you can run it again and again on auto-pilot rather than mailing out new advertisements all the time. Usually, you just need the right BIG IDEA. I was thinking about it and thought: [INSERT BIG IDEA]”

Right there, in that paragraph, you’ve hooked the prospect. Most likely their next question won’t be: “Show me samples” but rather” How much do you usually charge for this?”

KEY POINT: Don’t spend the call talking about your experience or lack thereof. Prospects ask about that when they are not fully sold on working with you (or anyone). Deflect those questions into BIG IDEAS.

#3 Getting a budget/agreement right away:

Your ideal scenario would be to hook a prospect on the first call and agree for them to send a contract over. For many, they might not want to jump the gun on a 5-figure project right away.

However, if you find good prospects who regularly use copy in their everyday-marketing activities, it’s entirely possible to close a 5-figure deal.

When I say 5-figure deals, it could be encompassed of:
1. Fixed fees only
2. Fixed fee plus commission
3. Commission only

I normally opt for #2 as you get a healthy upfront payment plus reward for good work. If you’re new, working on a tiny upfront fee plus commission might be a way to get your feet wet. If it’s a ‘fixed fee’ only, make sure you jack up the price as much as you can to entice them to take option #2.

I wouldn’t normally recommend #3 unless it’s a last resort and there’s not a bucketload of work involved. If a prospect wants you to work 20+ hours commission only, it usually means they’re not 100% sold/serious. You want them to be taking a risk just like you’re taking a risk.

Never be the one to take 100% of the risk.

Normally, the prospect will bring up budget, but I say to try and bring up budget first and get a ballpark.
“Jack, I’ve seen some of your video sales letters in the past, what do you normally feel comfortable paying for something like that?” 
Then, be quiet.

They may be silent for a bit curious if they want to open their accounting ledger to you, but most will be happy to tell you. After which, you reply either:

“Tell you what, I feel like I’d charge a bit more, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up, I’d be happy to do it for that price too.’ 
Hmm, I’d figure you’d pay a bit more for it. How about I put together a few options for you to look at?”

For the first response, you’re going for the quick sale. The second is so you don’t paint yourself into under-charging. After the second response, I’ll normally go away and put together a 3-tiered option (with #2 being the ideal solution to pick and psychologically pushing them towards that).

For some, they may just want to see a list of ideas first and then chat with their team about it. This is not the ideal solution, but before you agree to do that and spend time thinking of ideas, make sure you ask them point blank:

“Jack, I’m happy to put together some ideas for you. But, can I ask you an honest question: If I do send these over, can we agree on a time to chat over the ideas next week? The reason is sometimes I’ll put together a proposal and ideas for someone, spend hours doing it then hear nothing. I understand timing can be an issue with other priorities, but for you , it’s best to figure out ‘yes or no’ as soon as possible rather than me following up with every week, you know?’

All you’re doing here is making sure they are 100% serious and not just ‘action-faking’ in order to get off the phone. You’d rather hear a straight-up “NO” than waste your time putting together stuff no one will ever look at.

This post is long enough, I’ll share more ideas and go deeper into some of these as time goes on.