Need more freelance writing clients? Try a tripwire offer.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

Freelancers, please heed the following awful truth. You should probably tape it to your wall or around your desk when you’re having a difficult time with prospecting:

Just because the market wants what you’re offering does not mean that they want it from you.

It’s also true – in freelancing and dating (so I’m told) – that we become more urgent and desperate in our approach when times get lean. Your first meeting with a new client is like a first date – don’t propose “marriage” right away. Stop assaulting prospects and new clients with pitches for doing a lot of business with you right away. (Of course, if they want to hire you for a big job, don’t play hard to get.) You have to build the relationship, and entice them to get to know you and your service offerings.

That’s where the tripwire offer comes in. The tripwire offer is an irresistible, super-low-ticket offer that helps to convert prospects into buyers. It gets the prospect to buy something small, and turns them into a client. It changes the relationship – once someone buys from you, and they’re satisfied, they will tend to buy from you again.

Note: The tripwire offer IS NOT A COUPON – it does not discount your current offerings. It is a special offer, designed to provide value in advance of using your key services.

A good tripwire offer is a “splinter” offer. It is a portion (or splinter) of your core product or service. It should be geared to addressing the prospect’s key problem. It provides a quick result, or solves a small problem. Once the person buys the tripwire offer, they become a client, and you can promote your main services to solve bigger problems.

Another key advantage of the tripwire offer is that it helps to address doubt:

  • Doubt in you (what you can do for them)
  • Doubt in themselves (their ability to achieve a goal)

The tripwire helps the client to achieve a little victory, thereby erasing both doubts. They now believe your ability to help them, and believe that they can achieve their goal. The client feels satisfaction – it’s a positive feeling toward you, and relief that their problems will be solved.

For example, suppose that I come across a client who needs their website rewritten from scratch. It’s a huge job, and it can cause a lot of grief as there are a lot of things to consider. My tripwire offer would be to revise one page on their website for a fee (say $50). I would make sure that the new page hit all the markets – solid, attractive copy that targets their desired client. Another option would be to create a brand new bio for their LinkedIn page (again, for a fee). It would make them look great, which makes them feel great. Then we can discuss a larger project after that.

Give the prospect a taste of what you can for a reasonable fee, and make them feel good about their issue and what you can do. You can create a few tripwire offers for your target market, or tailor one for a prospect you really want to work with. It’s up to you. Know your benefits, and know your prospect’s needs, to create a great offer.

Do you need help with creating a tripwire offer? Want to discuss other writing or editing needs? Let me know –


Seven keys to being a successful freelance writer

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

I’ve had a few one on one conversations with younger people looking to get into freelancing. Some of them are not happy with their current full-time job, but they’re afraid of giving up the “guaranteed” income of a job. We all know that nothing is guaranteed, but I get it. I came from a world where you were told that the goal should be to get into a good company and stay there until you retire. However, I fell into freelancing and have been doing it – almost consistently for more than 20 years.

I came across some great advice on what freelance writers (and others) need to succeed in this world, where there is no safety net or guarantee of work or income. 

  1. You must love your craft. If you want to be a freelance writer, then you must love everything about writing. It cannot be just a job that makes you money, as your income depends on the amount of effort you put into it… and loving the writing helps to put the effort you need.
  2. You need to have a service-based attitude. You want to do the best work for our clients and produce great material for your audience. You think of giving the reader what they want. (You can write for yourself, and should. But if you’re in business, you have to think about the client’s needs.)
  3. You must have confidence in your abilities. The “impostor” syndrome is common in freelancers – you never think you’re good enough or have the skills to do the job. That’s why you must believe in your skills, have pride in your results… and be humble and thankful for your clients wanting to work with you.
  4. Get training. You might have great natural ability, but it needs to be honed. And you need to learn what you don’t know to complement what you do know. Training will help you to understand the strategies and techniques needed to get a response from your writing. You can learn from others or learn on your own, whatever works best for you. 
  5. You must develop discipline to get the work done – right and on time. Being answerable to yourself is difficult for some as distractions are everywhere. It’s easy to let things slide when deadlines are far off and no one is there to crack the whip. But letting things slide regularly will doom you in the long run.
  6. Marketing is essential. You might be one of the “lucky” few who have clients banging down the door. But most freelancers must market their services regularly and search for clients. Marketing is more than necessary – it is part of your job, as are sales, customer service, accounting, billing, and so on. 
  7. You need support from other people – for encouragement, for financial support, to help get leads and clients, for companionship, for someone to provide advice, and so on. Freelancing can be a solo business, but you are never alone. Find a community of people who do what you do so that you can get support when needed. And hire professionals to help when you cannot do something yourself.

I could add more strategies on being a successful freelancer, but these will do the job. Follow them, and create a path that works for you, and you’ll get there.

If you need advice on freelancing, let me know – 


Are you overlooking a valuable source of potential work – past clients?

Photo by Caleb Oquendo on

How many times have you gone looking for new clients, sending out emails, making cold calls, mining LinkedIn, etc., during those quiet days and weeks? I’m sure it’s happened more than you like. After all, you have to keep mining for new clients… right? 

But are you overlooking past – both recent and not-so-recent – clients? After all, they did use your services, and they paid you, and presumably were happy with the result. Current and not-so-current clients are probably your best source of new work and repeat projects. So how do you get more or repeat work out of those clients?

You can ask. Sounds simple, because it is. You already have a relationship, so there should be no awkward introductions or requests for work. How about writing an email and saying: “It was wonderful working with you on PROJECT. Do you need any help with PROBLEM or OUTCOME? If there is anything I can do to help you in your business, just let me know.”

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And you’re asking in a nice way. Worst case, they have nothing going on… but you’re top of mind. And best case, you get more work coming your way.

Most freelancers never ask past or current clients for referrals to colleagues who could use your services. Warm referrals are a fantastic way to get new clients, as you get introduced by someone who has used your service already. Ask those clients for referrals to other businesses or people in their network that would use your type of service.

You could write: “Hi CLIENT NAME, how is business? What have you been up to? I hope that things are booming. I know that you don’t have anything for me right now, but do you know anyone who needs help with PROBLEM? As you know, I provide SERVICE and have experience with handling PROBLEM. I would appreciate a quick referral.”

Those are two great ways to get more business out of past and current clients. What tips do you have? Do you need help with writing an email to past clients? Let me know –


How to get better at prospecting as a freelance writer

Prospecting as a freelance writer
Photo by Andrew Neel on

It would be great if prospects contacted you every day to become clients and use your writing services. Some people are that good, or that well known, or that effective at lead generation (or that lucky). If you build a great lead system and website, you can get prospects to come to you.

But for most freelancers, you have to find clients through prospecting. It’s essential for keeping yourself busy and replacing clients that pay poorly, stop using your services or that simply disappear. So, how can you get better at prospecting?

  1. Make prospecting an automatic process. You can use automation or simply schedule it into your calendar. However you do it, turn prospecting into a habit, and that will lead to success.
  2. Think in terms of small actions. Big goals and projects – especially when they are your goals and projects – can be daunting. Work on prospecting goals little by little, day by day. Focus on the small wins instead of trying to get it all done at once. Take a small action today. What can you accomplish today, or in the next hour? Find something that you know you can do in the next 15 minutes – send an email, look up a prospect on LinkedIn, check out their website and write a few notes down. Book that 15 minutes (or whatever time period you can commit to) into your weekly schedule so that you do it every week. Then build up your frequency and time commitment.
  3. Focus on action, not outcomes. Take concrete actions to make them your goals. Do not state an outcome, such as number of leads that you need to get. You just want to complete the action, rather than concern yourself with the result (at least for now). Be consistent in those actions, and commit to the system you develop. The goal is to take the right action at the right time.
  4. Treat prospecting like a recurring project. It’s your client work (not yours), and the client expects you to do your work regularly. Schedule prospecting into your day or week, and make it a priority. Put a deadline on it and add it to your TO DO list. You already know that you have to complete your clients’ projects on time, so treat prospecting like that regular client. This will help to build discipline into your prospecting habit.
  5. Create a theme for each prospecting day. Focus on one theme – research, outreach, follow up, content marketing, etc. Do not try to do everything at one time. Do research only for your one day, and put all your research into one file that you can attack the next day. Write the theme days into your calendar, so you know that Monday is your research day, Tuesday is your outreach day, and so on.

Keep your prospecting goals simple and manageable, and you’ll develop a winning habit that will produce dividends. Again, focus on the action over the outcome.

Do you need help with creating a prospecting plan? Let me know –


How to get noticed as a freelance writer on LinkedIn

stay safe be kind inscription on stone
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

I use LinkedIn a lot – to write blog posts, find leads, network with people in my industry, research potential clients and more. It’s a great tool for helping me to grow my business and attract potential clients.

There are numerous experts who write a lot about getting noticed on LinkedIn and building your brand. Here’s what I’ve learned about how to make the most of this resource.

Be consistent

Show up consistently where your prospective clients hang out – in groups, for example. Be consistently visible – write regularly. Be consistent in your message – stick to what works for you.

Be disciplined

Set aside time regularly to market on LinkedIn, research leads, contact prospects, etc. Spend the time to make the network valuable for you, and to add value to your network. Schedule your time weekly, and use that time to add value – help people with leads and introductions. Connect others where you can.

Be yourself

Share your unique perspectives and views. Add commentary on other people’s content. Write interesting articles on what you know. Add your point of view to your articles. Send personal messages to your contacts, and get involved in conversations.

Tools are as effective as you use them, and LinkedIn is no different. It won’t be as effective if you just set up a profile and let it sit there. Make the most of the tools at hand, and get yourself out there.

How do you use LinkedIn to your advantage? Need help with writing great messages? Let me know –


Three-step system for finding new freelance writing clients

view of wooden steps taken underwater

I’ve written quite a bit about how prospecting and how to find clients as a freelance writer. It was a tough middle part of the year for me, and many others, as some clients slowed their output or shut down completely.

Although I have several strategies in getting more client work, I like this three-step system, which works pretty well.

1. Browse job boards daily

I’ve made a list of sites that have the types of leads and clients I like to work with. I have them linked in a web folder, and go through them in the morning or afternoon to find new opportunities. I search according to certain keywords, such as freelance, writer, editor, copy editor, etc. I also find companies that might hire for my role, based on other roles they’re hiring for. For example, if they need a technical writer or graphic designer, then they might need a copy editor or freelance writer who can handle other tasks.

2. Research the leads

There are some job postings where I’ll just apply and move on. However, in most cases, I’ll do research on the company on LinkedIn, find out more about what they do, make sure to get a contact name, and get as much detail as possible about what they’re looking for in this role. I’ll make note of some key terms and phrases to use when applying for the role or reaching out to a prospect.

3. Create a targeted email pitch

I use a script as the foundation for my reach out email. I’ll then customize the content of the email for the person I’m reaching out to, the position I’m looking to apply for, the skills I offer that match their particular needs, etc. The goal is to attract the reader’s attention and get a response (preferably a YES) to my email. Any response shows some level of interest, and gives me a contact for future follow-ups. The key is to personalize the email by highlighting a need or something that would make them interested in me. End it with a call to action so that it’s easy to reply. I also need to stand out in some way by tying my skills and experience to their needs or problem.

Would this approach work for you? Do you have your own way of finding possible clients? Let me know –


Adding humour and personality to your prospecting emails

box cheerful color cute
Photo by Pixabay on

Thanks to Lianna Patch of for her article on this topic.

I’ve written about making better use of your subject line to attract prospects and encourage clients to respond to your emails. A well written subject line can mean the difference between getting more responses and getting none at all.

One way to get more out of your email is to inject humour and personality into the subject line. The key is to employ YOUR sense of humour and YOUR personality when writing to prospects and clients. If it’s not your style, or it does not feel right to you for the client or the situation, then don’t do it. However, if you can apply your brand of humour or personality, then there are many opportunities to use smart, funny writing in your subject line to get results.

Following up with prospects

The followup can be powerful. Speak to the benefit of what they will get or the pleasure of working with you.

  • Working together will be a blast.
  • Let’s take your writing project to the next level!
  • Hey! Do you still want to knock out that killer email project?

Sending work to a client for feedback

You need to find out what the client thinks of the work, and what to do next. Show that you care, and inject some life into that subject line.

  • I’m dying to know what you think!
  • Voila! Your marketing materials are here.
  • You have an incoming telegram – your sales letter awaits your attention.

Thanking a client for a great project

Many people neglect to thank their clients after the work is done. You’ll be amazed at how much appreciation (and work) you’ll receive in return, as gratitude emails are very effective.

  • I just wanted to say… you’re the best!
  • This project made the top of my list of favourite gigs ever!
  • Think of this email as a box of chocolate without the calories.

Checking in with past clients

I do this every few months, and often find that I get a nibble after throwing out a few check-in emails. Sometimes, past clients need to be reminded of your existence, and how great it was when you worked together.

  • Danger! Danger! This email will explode if you don’t open it soon.
  • It’s a blast from the past, and better than reruns of your favourite Seinfeld episode.
  • This email will make you smile, as it’s a message from your favourite copy editor.

Sharing something to keep the flame alive

Some people like to share interesting articles or news with clients. Those are good, but adding some personality to your subject line will be the icing on the cake… and who doesn’t like icing?

  • Hey Mark! I thought of you when I read this.
  • I just read the funniest story, and I had to tell you about it.

Additional tips

  • Keep the subject line short and strong when possible.
  • lowercase the first word… didn’t that just stand out when you read it?
  • Use an emoji that fits… but just one.

What did you think of these email tips? Would you use them? Do you have suggestions of your own? Let me know –


Understanding the four main properties of nouns

In a previous post, I discussed the different types of nouns. Today’s post is about the main properties of nouns.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, nouns have four main properties:

  • Case
  • Number
  • Gender
  • Person


Case refers to the relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and other words in a sentence. While there is some disagreement about whether there are two or three cases, you only need to concern yourself with two:

  • Normal = no apostrophe: The principal is in her office.
  • Possessive = apostrophe: This is the principal’s office.


Number shows whether the noun refers to one object (fox, stick, candy) or more than one object (foxes, sticks, candies). Some nouns differ when describing one object (person) compared to more than one object (people).


Gender is not used as often in English as it is in other languages, such as French or Spanish, which have masculine and feminine accompanying articles. Other languages also refer to non-living things in the masculine or feminine, whereas English typically uses gender only for people and other living creatures.

Gender can be masculine (son), feminine (sister) or common (parent). In the masculine and feminine cases, a gender-appropriate pronoun can replace the noun (e.g., he for son, she for sister).

Many gender-specific nouns that refer to a person’s job or position have gender-neutral versions. For example:

  • Police officer instead of policeman / policewoman
  • Firefighter instead of fireman / firewoman
  • Flight attendant instead of steward / stewardess
  • Server / waitperson instead of waiter / waitress

Note: The English language is constantly being updated to address people who do not identify with either the masculine or feminine gender, or who are gender-fluid. I am not knowledgeable enough to cover this topic in proper detail. My goal is simply to explain the meaning of gender in the use of nouns.


Person refers primarily to pronouns, but also applies to nouns used with pronouns. A noun or pronoun can be in the:

  • First person = the one doing the speaking: I, David, swear that…
  • Second person = the one being spoken to: Girls, you are being…
  • Third person = the one being spoken about: That car belongs to…

Do you have any questions about grammar? Let me know –


Understanding the different types of nouns

flat lay photography of an open book beside coffee mug
Photo by fotografierende on

If you’re a writer, then you should understand the most important tools of your trade – words. After all, words are your bread and butter. Many writers focus on understanding and properly using verbs, as they drive the action. However, you should also be familiar with nouns and how to use them.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style 15, a noun is “a word that names something, whether abstract (intangible) or concrete (tangible).”

  • An abstract noun describes something that you cannot see, hear, touch, taste or smell (e.g., feelings, concepts, ideas or events).
  • A concrete noun¬†describes something that you can either see, hear, touch, taste or smell.

A common noun is the informal name of an item in a class or group – an apple, a box, a bridge. Common nouns are not capitalized unless they begin a sentence or appear in a title.

A proper noun is a person’s name (e.g., Frank, Arlene), or the official name of a thing or place (e.g., Toronto, CN Tower). Proper nouns are always capitalized.

Count nouns have singular and plural forms (e.g., boat / boats, pixie / pixies. loaf / loaves). When a count noun is the subject of the sentence:

  • The singular count noun takes a singular verb (e.g., the box is heavy).
  • The plural count noun takes a plural verb (e.g., the boxes are heavy).

Mass (noncount or collective) nouns cannot be counted. They apply to something that is abstract (e.g., love, pressure) or something that has an unknown number of people or things (e.g., the staff, membership).

  • When a mass noun is the subject of the sentence, it usually takes a singular verb (e.g., the population is large).
  • When used in the collective sense, it can take either a singular or plural verb (e.g, The group is difficult to please / The group of vendors are difficult to please). The singular verb puts the emphasis on the group, while the plural verb focuses on the individual members.

Do you have any questions about grammar? Let me know –


Six elements of influence for freelancers

Photo by Pixabay on

As a freelancer or solopreneur, you are responsible for attracting and retaining clients. You have a number of tools at your disposal for getting clients. One overlooked strategy involves increasing your influence – or your ability to get clients to come to you. Your influence serves as a magnet – it draws prospects to contact you and consider you for the services you provide. So how can you work on your “influence muscle” and get more prospects to see you as the solution to their needs?

Consider these six elements of influence, and work those muscles (all together or individually) to become more influential in your field.


Do something for someone else, and they will tend to return the favour. This is one of my preferred approaches. I will refer clients and leads to people, or help them find something they need – and they’ll be more likely to help me in the future. Reciprocity is a side effect of content marketing – you produce free useful content, and your readers / audience will feel obliged in some way to do something for you. Reciprocity involves giving now to receive later (but without making it feel like an obligation to do so).


People tend to follow or obey authority figures. It’s in our nature. What you need to develop is earned or demonstrated authority (NOT institutional authority) – your authority comes from your experience and showing your knowledge. Again, content marketing shows that you know what you are doing, which builds your authority.


We associate and do business with people we like. We want to associate with people we like. Become a likeable expert, and people will want to do business with you. Being likeable is subjective, but it’s relatively simple to achieve – be honest, be yourself, be friendly and approachable.

Social proof

People do what they see others doing. It’s why social networking websites do so well – people go where their friends and influencers go. When people say positive things about you (through testimonials or referrals), others will follow. Pay attention to what others say about you, and spread the word.

Commitment + consistency

When you commit to something, you tend to follow through and do it consistently. People are attracted to those who are committed to their craft, and who show that they are able to do it consistently. When you have a solution to a problem, and demonstrate that you can solve those issues consistently, prospects will want to work with you.


It’s the law of supply and demand. When a resource is scarce, or limited in time or availability, people will want it more. People tend to respond to avoid loss. Think of when you wanted to get something because it was running out. If you have a webinar or run a training course with limited seating or that is only available for a given time, it will trigger a response. This is my least favourite approach, as it can be used dishonestly and can backfire. But used properly, it can help with developing influence.

Build your influence, and you will attract prospects and grow your client list. Do it honestly and use the method(s) that work best for you.

Any questions or comments? Let me know –