Category: Uncategorized

Need more freelance writing clients? Try a tripwire offer.

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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

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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?

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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
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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 –


Five ways to reduce your word count

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I work with various clients, and on different projects, where word count is important. Sometimes I need to shave a few words to fit a document on one page. There are times when I need to reduce thousands of words to a few paragraphs. I write and edit articles for Rental Housing Business magazine, where word count varies according to the number of ads. I also regularly summarize large amounts of content into smaller text bites for easier reading (e.g., study guides, websites, training materials).

Many people learned to write long essays in high school, college and university. In those cases, it was important to fill pages and extend word count. They don’t know how to say what they need to say in fewer words. Readers have short attention spans. Writing concisely is an important skill.

The following tips should help you to reduce your overall word count:

  1. Use the active voice instead of the passive voice.
    Passive voice: The course was taught by the marketing expert.
    Active voice: The marketing expert taught the course.
  2. Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs (e.g., extremely large, incredibly fast, unbelievably difficult, running quickly).
  3. Replace longer words, phrases, and idioms with shorter options. There are thousands of unnecessarily long words and phrases – the following resources should help:
    The Writing Centre
    Wordiness List
    Writing Concise Sentences
  4. Do not repeat the same point in different ways. Say it once and move on.
  5. Link to additional information online when you need to provide more details.

Do you have any tips on making your writing more concise? Let me know –

Building trust in your audience

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Whether you speak to people in person, or communicate through your publishing, advertising and marketing efforts, it is important to build trust in your audience. If they do not believe in what you are saying, then all of your communication will be for nothing.

To build trust, you must be authentic in your message, and know about the people who are receiving your message. This applies when writing, speaking, selling, marketing, and engaging with your audience.

Consider the following tips on building trust in your audience (there are many different ways to do so, but I like these methods):

  • Do not talk about your skills and services – demonstrate what you can do for your audience.
  • Use testimonials and case studies to back up your abilities.
  • Use terminology that focuses on your customers’ needs (benefits over features).
  • Always meet your clients’ expectations (exceed them where possible).
  • Stimulate their imagination by showing what will happen when they use your service.
  • When developing ideas, focus on imagination first, which precedes doing / buying / wanting. Imagination forms the foundation of ideas. Follow up with emotions, which help to personalize your ideas.
  • Create a positioning statement. Always take a position in your business and marketing – be clear in your position.
  • State who you are, who you will provide services to, what you stand for, what price you charge, and to what end you are aiming.

How do you build trust in your audience? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Six tips on giving a great presentation

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Good speeches, presentations, seminars, workshops, etc. have a number of common elements. Learning how to develop your presentation skills (particularly when doing PowerPoint presentations) can improve your career and help to make your subject more appealing to your audience – which should be one of your key goals.

  1. Stick to the main points. One solid piece of advice for giving a good talk is to keep your speech or presentation to a few main points. Base your talk on one central theme, and support it with a few key points. You can support those key points with examples, case studies, stories, facts, etc. For example, suppose you are giving a presentation on “Writing an effective email.” Your three key points could be:
    – Write a powerful, relevant subject line.
    – State your purpose in the opening paragraph.
    – Conclude with a call to action.
  2. Know your audience. It is very important to know who you will be presenting to so that you can tailor your speech accordingly. Don’t say the same things to different groups of people. Find out what people are interested in, and speak to those topics. Ask several key audience members what interests them, and what they want to get out of the presentation. Use the opening of your presentation to work in a reference to the situation. This will get your audience interested from the beginning of your talk.
  3. Provide great content. Focus on a few clear and specific points, and provide a lot of details to support those points. Organize details and examples to keep the talk interesting.
  4. Tell interesting stories. People remember stories, anecdotes, and relevant examples because they affect real people’s lives.
  5. Be enthusiastic. Show enthusiasm for your topic and your audience will care about what you have to say.
  6. Personalize your information. Customize the opening of your talk to your audience, and insert relevant points throughout to keep them engaged. Research your audience ahead of time, or talk to a few people before your presentation. I saw a comedian from the U.S. who made a number of jokes about things he saw when he came to town, and we laughed even more because we could relate to the content.

Do you have any tips for providing great presentations? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Should I create a workshop, seminar or webinar?

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I’ve always wanted to develop a workshop, seminar or webinar as part of my strategy to build my brand and grow my business. I also think that it’s incredibly cool, and great for your ego, to be a good public speaker. I’ve attended enough of these events over the years to understand that they are very effective in accomplishing these goals, as well as building your speaking and presentation skills and expanding your network. Webinars are also becoming a big part of growing one’s business, as you can reach a lot of people at the same time with very little effort (beyond creating the webinar).

Much like my issue with writing a newsletter, I’ve wondered about what I would present at a workshop, seminar or webinar that would encourage people to attend. There are many great workshops, seminars and webinars (and many average and bad ones), so I would want to put some thought into creating one (or several) that achieve my goals while entertaining and educating my audience. The goal is to give the people what they want so that they think of you again in the future.

So, what would I give a presentation, workshop or seminar on? Some ideas include:

  • How to write effective emails
  • Writing and editing your business correspondence
  • Becoming a more powerful writer
  • How to write interesting corporate newsletters
  • Writing more effective web copy
  • How to edit your own writing
  • How to publish information products

What do you think? Let me know at if you like any of these ideas or if you have any of your own suggestions for a workshop, seminar or webinar. I am very interested in pursuing this option, and hope to create one on a topic of interest at some time in the near future. Skillshare approached me about putting together a course, but I had to put it off as I did not have the bandwidth for putting it together.

PS. Check out my talk on better communication via email, given at the Editors Toronto meeting.

David Gargaro