All Posts by Lynn Swayze

2 Gary Halbert's 30 Day Copywriting Challenge (Intro Post)

The Gary Halbert 30 Day Copywriting Challenge

19 “Easy” Steps to Become a Seriously Badass Copywriter who gets clients… writes winning sales copy… and makes big bank every time

Among copywriters in the know, one of the most revered copywriters is Gary Halbert. He wrote massive controls and made more money with one letter than most of us dream of earning in a lifetime. Direct response copywriter Gary Halbert was most known for his record-shattering direct mail campaigns such as the “Coat of Arms” letter. He was also known for his print newsletter, “The Gary Halbert Letter” and the series of letters sent from prison called “The Boron Letters”. His name is up there among “the greats” of our industry. While not everyone likes his style, everyone likes the results he got for himself and his clients.

Today we’re going to discuss a very specific Gary Halbert Letter.

In it, Gary Halbert proposed a simple set of steps for aspiring copywriters.  Gary’s advice came after years of experience and having read many books on the subject. (Like most of us copy nerds, we started by consuming whatever we could find on the subject.)

Here’s a link to read a web version: http://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com/newsletters/zfkj_hands_on_experience.htm

(P.S. – If you haven’t bought any of the books and materials released by Bond Halbert and Kevin Halbert you should. They’re excellent.)

Anyway, here are the 19 steps Gary Halbert suggested his readers do within a 30 day period. 

1. Read NOTHING ELSE but this list of books:

  • “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins
  • “The Robert Collier Letter Book” by Robert Collier
  • “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples
  • “How To Write A Good Advertisement” by Vic Schwab
  • “The Gary Halbert Letter” (all back issues) by Gary Halbert
  • “The Boron Letters” by Gary Halbert
  • “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” by Joe Karbo
  • “Break-Through Advertising” by Eugene M. Schwartz
  • “7-Steps To Freedom” by Ben Suarez

He states that you must “rip through them”. No note-taking, no stopping, no analysis. Just pour the info into your subconscious and move forward.

Newbie note: I want to add here that the hardest one to find in this list would be Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. You won’t find it in libraries because (at the time of this writing, at least) most copies sell for around $1000 or more. Hopefully soon that price tag will plummet to a more reasonable level (thanks to upcoming supply changes) and you’ll be able to purchase it at a reasonable price.

I’d have added Schwartz’ “Brilliance Breakthrough” to the list, but alas, it’s not a book on direct response advertising. Perhaps Bencivenga’s “Marketing Bullets” instead?

2. Then, get a hold of the following ads:

  • “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?”
  • “What Everybody Should Know About This Stock And Bond Business”
  • “The Nancy L. Halbert Heraldry Letter”
  • “How To Burn Off Body Fat, Hour-By-Hour”
  • “At 60 Miles An Hour The Loudest Noise In This Rolls Royce Is The Ticking Of The Electric Clock”
  • “Why Men Crack”
  • “How To Collect From Social Security At Any Age”
  • “The Admiral Byrd Transpolar Expedition Letter”
  • “The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches”

He adds, “And, in general, anything you can get your hands on that was written by Gary Bencivenga, Dan Rosenthal, Joe E. Kennedy, Pat Garrard, Steve Brown, Drew Kaplan, Claude Hopkins, Joe Karbo, Ben Suarez, Joe Sugarman, Gene Schwartz and, of course, yours truly.”

If he’d have written this now, Halbert might have included copy by John Carlton or Chris Haddad. At least I’d hope he would.

3. Hand write each ad.

I know, I know. At least one “copy guru” disdains hand copying. They say you just need to follow a framework that works until you can tweak your own. I believe this is great advice if you’re selling said copy frameworks, but not so great for the individual who has no access to several hundred (thousand?) dollars to access these frameworks. Further down in this post I’ll explain why I believe hand copying works. For now, let’s pretend that you already agree with the power of hand copying.

4. Then, you’ll take your hand-written notes and format the ad.

We have something that Gary Halbert didn’t: access to a powerful personal computer and professional publishing tools. We no longer need to take a piece to a typist. So instead, recreate the ad from your written notes in a way that would make sense to the marketer or publishing house.

Gary insisted that this step was very important and actually described in basic terms what NLP practitioners have known for a long time. Again, I propose why this works below. For now, accept that I agree 100% with Halbert.

5. Go back and re-read each of the books and take notes.

Halbert says, “Write down every good idea, every important insight and every nugget of wisdom that is contained in all that material. What this means, my friend, is that by the time you are finished, you should have hundreds of notes.”

I imagine that a yellow notepad would work well. I like to type everything into outline form and then print them out. You could handwrite the notes as well. Just DO IT.

6. Go back through “the material” and write every headline on a notecard.

Apparently, Gary would keep notecards full of headlines and bullets and such in a box. Whenever he needed inspiration he’d sort through the cards until he got an idea. In fact, most of his “writing time” appeared to be doing thinking. Then, he’d finally get his lightbulb moment and write furiously until complete, like some mental regurgitation after an appropriate gestation period.

7. Then, find back issues of the National Enquirer and Cosmopolitan.

He says to write every headline used repeatedly on a 3×5 notecard. I imagine that you’d find some headline patterns in this process.  But what if you discovered these patterns and connected the dots yourself? Then you’d know them in your bones, wouldn’t you? Here he also recommends Jay Abraham’s headline list.

8. Go through the notes and put each headline and note (copy blurb, etc) on a 3×5 notecard.

You’ll end up with a big box o’ copy by the time you’re done with this step.

9. Then, take a few days off.

This will let your brain stew on the direct response copywriting soup you just fed it. After it simmers you’re going to actually write your own ad. But first… some other stuff.

10. Read every ad or direct mail package written on the product you’re going to sell.

Maybe not your specific product, of course, but the type of product. If it’s a supplement, read about other supplements like yours. If it’s a financial ebook, then you should read every ad and package you can get your hand on. I’d look at landing pages and launch sequence emails as well, if that’s the kind of copy you’re going for.

11. Examine the competitor’s product/service.

He says, “Next, carefully examine the product or service and find out everything you can about it. If it’s a book, read it. If it’s a product, examine it. If it’s a service, use it and ask questions.”

Here, you’ll do the same digging in you would on any other real job. What are the features? What are the benefits? Where’s the sizzle? Dig deep. What’s working in their stuff? What’s not  working? Put all the important bits on note cards.

12. Take notes on those packages and ads.

Halbert was a big fan of the notes, obviously. Take notes. By now, you should start noticing patterns.

13. Put those notes on 3 x 5 index cards (one note per card) and put all those notes in a shoe box.

I wonder how many shoe boxes Gary Halbert had in his study. And who got them? Interesting to see. You’ll make your own, of course, and someday someone will wonder why you had so many notecards laying around. Only you and I will know about the sacred notecard shuffle.

14. Rest for a few days.

Gary says, “Go do something else for a few days. And listen: If you have a good idea during that time, don’t verbalize it, don’t write it down, don’t tell anybody and try not to think about it. The idea here is to let everything ferment and boil and bubble up inside of you.”

Again, see the bottom of this post for my reasons why I believe this works so well. And before you think I’m nuts, copywriters like John Carlton and Parris Lampropoulos also believe in the power of the subconscious to do your hard work for you. For now, I’d simply take Gary at his word.

Also… DO NOT VERBALIZE OR WRITE DOWN ANY COPY IDEAS DURING THIS TIME. Keep them inside, where they’ll feed the brewing copy. Let it steep for a few days. Do other things. Read a novel by Chuck Wendig or something. Anything but the copy.

15. Now, you’ll write the first draft of your ad.

First he gives a few steps of prep. Call it Gary Halbert’s model for writing copy.

  1. Lock yourself in your office along with all your note cards.
  2. Do the note card shuffle with your product cards. Ask “so what” and “oh yeah” questions.
  3. Do the note card shuffle with the copy cards. Think about how you could apply the insights/examples to your project.
  4. Wait for the “Central Selling Idea” to form. Once it does, include it in the first sentence of your sales letter. For an ad, incorporate it into the headline.
  5. VERY QUICKLY write down the ideas that come next. Very likely you’ll have a whole sales letter pouring out of you. Write without worrying about grammar, spelling, or errant thoughts. This is a first draft and you want it all out on paper at this stage. He says, “Tell everything. Every detail. Every nuance. Every benefit. Every product feature. Every advantage.”

16. Wait a day or two.

Again, let it cool. You’ll spot a lot more if you take a cooling off period. (Stephen King does this with his novels, by the way, so you’ll be in good company.)

17. Rework the Frenzy Mess into something that resembles the following structure:

  1. Say something that gets attention
  2. Tell them why they should be interested. (Expand on the CSI)
  3. Tell them why they should believe what you’re saying is true
  4. Prove it is true
  5. Itemize and describe all the benefits
  6. Tell them how to order
  7. Tell them to order now

18. Edit again.

He says to check for grammar, spelling, concision, action words, etc. The very things that  the “Gary Halbert Method Part III”, will teach you.

19. Read it aloud and then edit again.

Some writers like to have the computer do the whole robot voice on the copy. There’s something about having another voice read it to see all the missing “the” and “a” and what-not that our brain automagically inserts into sentences when we read our own stuff.

Here’s how I broke Gary’s challenge down into 30 days:

Days 1-15: Reading the 9 books, hand copying the ads, and formatting the ads

Days 16-20: Re-reading and Notes Phase

Days 21: Putting notes on Note Cards

Days 22-24: Product research and note cards

Day 25-27: Rest

Day 28: Write copy

Day 29: Rest from copy

Day 30: Edit and polish

How quickly did you notice that this process mirrors what you’ll do as a copywriter? Most of your time spent will not be in the writing. It’ll be in the research, the stewing, and the editing. Copywriting training programs tend to focus too much on the writing itself and not enough on the headspace needed before you write and the polishing expertise you need after. Without enough mental game and fertilizing of raw information and “proven” ads and you won’t have a sturdy enough turd to withstand polishing. If there’s not enough grit in your polish afterwards, you will never see the truly shiny gold in your mountain of shit. Have neither and, well… you get the picture.

BONUS ROUND (After the 30 Day Challenge)

I’d  include in any ads by John Carlton that you can find. If you’re into web stuff, add Ramit Sethi. This… and maybe CopyHour… would be a decent next step after you complete the insane 30 day bootcamp.

6 Reasons Why I Think Gary Halbert’s Hands-On Method Works:

I want to preface this section by saying that I’m a huge neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnosis nerd. I’m not sure that one can be a truly effective, persuasive copywriter without appreciating the underlying psychology of persuasion and salesmanship. I’ve seen copywriters who “don’t believe in NLP” use clear NLP practices like mirroring and future pacing to lead prospects down the “greased slide” race to the buy button. And I think many copywriters love this stuff but are too afraid of appearances to admit it.

Here’s why I believe Gary’s speed copywriter plan works so well:

  1. By reading the books on direct response, you’ll forever change your mental models of how business, marketing, and advertising really works. You’ll be indoctrinated in the “direct response way”, which will forever separate you from all the other brand marketers and writers who will never be able to get the kind of results direct response will get…. no matter the medium. (DR isn’t dead because of the internet. Quite the opposite.) You want to create a mental model of success, not of failure. Remember that this grunt work will save you years of wasted time. Don’t worry that some of these books are a century old. The strategies… and human nature… are not new.
  2. By taking massive action, you will avoid newbie Inferiority Complex that plagues too many copywriters. Trust me when I say that many copywriters spend too much time in this beginning info glut “just one more book” stage. It’s too easy to rely on information and the need to just learn more and invest in the next shiny object, instead of doing the work and murdering that initial fear.  So many never climb beyond the minor leagues because they don’t get over their own internal bullshit. This is a bullshit free zone, you hear me?
  3. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between virtually doing something and doing it for real. By “doing copy” down to the typesetting and everything else, you are putting the memories in your brain. You’ll do ALL the steps… not just the theorising or the writing. And this will give you the courage and confidence needed to move forward as a professional copywriter. Your brain will rely on the feeling of having done it before. (I suggest you read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz for more information on this subject.)
  4. “Figuring it out slowly” is a lousy way to go about things. Instead of writing crappy copy for five years before you “figure it out”, why not model excellence from the start and give yourself a firm leg up? If you spend 30 days of hard work, isn’t that the same as “figuring it out” for a few months (or years) the hard way? 300 hours done in 30 days is still 300 hours. Or is there some magic to saying you sat in the trench mud for longer than everyone else? Look: each of us is running around in a state of hypnosis. We’re all entrenched in our own mental models of how to do something. This includes how we write marketing copy. Even after all these books, your model is likely to be immature at best. Even after you “go pro” as a copywriter, you will only very slowly change that mental model as you learn the hard way.  What if you could rapidly change that inept, inexperienced copywriter’s model and replace it with a better one – one of a professional, experienced copywriter? That’s what Gary Halbert’s recommendation will do for you. So you write out (via hand copying) a successful ad from start to finish. Do it enough times and you will form a new model of what a persuasive ad looks like. You will absorb (albeit subconsciously) the rhythm of a good ad. You’ll learn the structure… the voice… the connection with the buyer. Your inexperienced model will be replaced with one of a successful copywriter… those you’ve hand copied and studied. All that material will stir in your brain like soil, ready to feed your next copy project.
  5. Confidence boost once you go pro. The gems in the material are pieces of data you can point to as you move forward. When a client argues against what you know to be right (like when he shows your copy to his wife or niece, as if they know anything about copy), then you’ll have a wealth of proof to back you up. You can point to the direct response controls you studied and the books you read and feel confident that you are on the right track. Heck, you can point to the many hours you’ve spent elbow deep in copy. It all boils down to this: you must trust yourself and your decisions as a copywriter-consultant. If you can’t trust yourself and defend your decisions, you won’t get very far. This confidence boost is so, so valuable as a copywriter. It’ll help you make the kind of ballsy decisions that are needed in order to write innovative, control-beating copy.
  6. Work smarter, not harder. When you let things rest for a few days, what you’re doing (hopefully, anyway) is letting your subconscious do the hard work. It’s much faster than our conscious brain and able to access more raw data. How it works is you give your brain it’s marching orders – “I need a direct response package for an upcoming campaign” – and then do something else for a few days. Your internal computer will take all of the data and the ads and the note card info and go to work connecting dots. Don’t believe me? Try this: Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a great idea to a problem you struggled with before bed? Or had eureka moments while taking a shower, exercising, cooking, or working on an unrelated project? If so, then you’ve stumbled on what Gary (and I, for that matter) suggest you do. That’s your subconscious brain doing the hard work for you. You are a smart copywriter, aren’t you?

The Inspiration

The inspiration for this post goes to Jamie McSloy, whose timely tweet reminded me of Gary’s 30 day challenge:

I just posted a new article: The Gary Halbert 30 Day Copywriting Challenge https://t.co/cj25xorEuL

— Jamie McSloy (@JamieMcSloy) December 15, 2016

I’m going to go out on a limb here and proclaim that if this very intense deep dive into copywriting sounds abhorrent to you, then the career might not be the best fit for you. Those who succeed in the big leagues tend to be obsesssssssssed about copywriting, marketing, and tested advertising. No, the 30-day window isn’t feasible for most people. I’m not sure it was meant to be. I think Gary was trying to scare away those who weren’t passionate about the profession. And this passion for winning copy  is what separate good enough and A-Level copy.

I don’t know about you, but “good enough” isn’t good enough in my book.

Can you hack it? Care to join me? Tried it and have amazing results to share? Think I’m crazy? Join in the conversation by commenting below.

Write Copy Bullets that Hit all the Soft Spots (free ebook)

Do you want to write bullets that don’t suck?

Yeah, me too. The good news is that you can write better bullets with this FREE guide from Copychief.com member Dan Ludgater.

But first… what are bullets?

In copywriting, bullets are a way to communicate the benefits of a product or service. They’re also known as “fascinations”. Bullets break up the monotony of long paragraphs of text and incite curiosity in the reader. They allow you to state the benefits in a way that connects with the buyer.

Here are some example bullets from a Gary Bencivenga ad:

  • Why, according to studies, candidates with the best qualifications “on paper” usually don’t get the job. You’ll learn the factors that count for much more and how to use them to gain an enormous advantage
  • The simple 12-word sentence that will make you the #1 candidate more often than you’d ever believe
  • 11 ways to get interviewers to like you. (People only hire those they like!) …25 biggest interview turnoffs.
  • Worst times to schedule an interview – your odds of getting hired are very low.
  • A simple strategy to make yourself three times more likely to get hired

Get the Guide and Tips Today at CopyChief.com

About the Resource

Dan Ludgater is an up-and-coming copywriter and marketing funnel strategist who’s written for Kevin Rogers’ CopyChiefRadio.

Kevin Rogers is a best-selling author, copywriter, stand up comedian and the leader behind the copywriter’s forum Copy Chief. He’s known for the “60 Second Sales Hook“, a formula for writing stories that create an instant bond with your ideal buyers.

 

 

John Carlton and Kevin Roger's Market Research Secrets

TL;DR: Copywriters John Carlton and Kevin Rogers share their market research tips in this YouTube video.

Research is so important in copywriting. All of the copywriting training I’ve ever read suggested that you perform some basic market research first. Research differentiates flat, hyped copy from copy that’s so seamlessly powerful even indebted blokes decide to whip out their credit card and make the purchase.

It’s that important.

Thankfully, Kevin Rogers hosted a video with John Carlton to reveal master copywriting research secrets.

You’ll Discover…

  • The simple secret to smashing writer’s block (and why these guys don’t think it even exists)
  • Where to get the best source of product information… and why it’s not the CEO
  • How to become a “sales detective” …and get the real info before you ever write a lick of copy
  • Why John says that the top guy in any company is an unreliable narrator about his product
  • Where do you go for research online? Kevin Rogers weighs in.
  • What to look for once you’re inside a forum (Kevin gives examples to make this easy)
  • How to make your mind write your sales letter for you…even when you’re not sitting at your desk
  • Kevin’s “Secret Interrogation” method for determining if he’s done enough research
  • 2 phrases you must keep in mind when you write copy
  • Write copy in “twenty minutes” using Carlton’s bucket tip

 

Tips

  1. Create a hierarchy of credible sources within a company. Poke holes in any sales information you get.
  2. Find out why people return a product or service.
  3. Resources for information: Google, forums, books
  4. Interrogate yourself from two sides: 1) the sales person 2) the most skeptical buyer out there
  5. John Caple’s “so what” and “no” test
  6. Create 3-6 profile categories based on your research and write the arguments within those profiles, e.g., “the ex-smoker who wishes he could smoke again and is at risk of going bakc to smoking,” “the smoker who still is not ready to quit yet,” “the smoker who just quit and is a high risk”
  7. “Literally copy and paste their language into their copy… especially the slang”
  8. Don’t waste time stating the obvious (e.g., “Doesn’t it suck to be broke..”)

Quotes

“You are in the position of communicating the sales relevant elements of whatever it is that you’re selling.” – John Carlton on copywriting

“Get the information first. And then you want to start trying to poke holes in it, like a good detective…” – John Carlton on market research

“You have to be able to speak like a real person to them. And they’ll be sold much easier by someone who understands their situation and understands their needs rather than coming at them fully armed with the salesman’s bible from that corporation.” – John Carlton on copywriting

“To test my research I will interview myself on paper as the most skeptical prospect I can possibly imagine. So a conversation between the product owner I’m writing as and the most jaded prospect I can think of.” – Kevin Rogers on market research

About the Copywriters

John Carlton is considered a living legend among copywriters. He’s known for emotionally powerful copy that tells a story and keeps you reading… even when you’re not interested in the product or the market. He wrote ads such as the one about the “One-Legged Golfer”. His courses have launched the career of some impressive copywriters. His Marketing Rebel Club discusses everything from Facebook ads to writing a powerfully persuasive headline.

Kevin Rogers is a best-selling author, copywriter, stand up comedian and the leader behind the copywriter’s forum Copy Chief. He’s known for the “60 Second Sales Hook“, a formula for writing stories that create an instant bond with your ideal buyers.

5 Price to Win: Why Price Objections Are Never About the Price….

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Have you ever heard the following from a customer…?

I can’t afford this.

Your [product/service] is out of budget.

You are too expensive.

I’m going to go with a cheaper option.

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If you’ve seen or heard any of these, then this post is for you.

Here are the sobering, heart-stopping truths about price psychology…

Truth #1: Price issues are never about price.

When I first started freelancing, I had a hard time selling myself. I kept getting caught up in the usual things that tripped me up… namely, I kept focusing on me and my skillsmy experiencemy background.

Thing is… no one cares about that. No one cares about me personally. They don’t care how I do my copywriting, or what I used to train for it, or any of that stuff.

They don’t care about the technology.

They don’t care about the tools you or I use.

They don’t even care about the superiority of a method.

Your customers only care about how wonderful their life will be once their problem is solved.

The only thing your customer wants to be sold on is how great their life will be post-solution. They don’t want to know how you did it, really. Even if they’re buying a how-to guide, they don’t want to hear you talk about how you produced that lead magnet using a voice-to-speech software and then published it via a premier publishing company and then shipped it via Samcart. They don’t even care if it’s 30 pages or 150. They want to know how well whatever it is you’re offering will tie into their results.

There are three things you must prove:

  1. You are trustworthy
  2. You understand their problem exactly
  3. Your service / your product can solve their problem better (read: faster, more ROI, less work) than doing nothing, buying from a competitor, or doing it themselves

So if your entire pitch was about you… 

…how you would technically execute the solution

…your years of experience or certifications

…how much passion you have about the job

Instead of about your prospect’s end result…

…the kind of life he will live using your product or service

…how easy he would solve his problem using your service (as shown through testimonials)

Then you are likely losing sales.

 

Truth #2: There are three reasons people use price as an excuse

There are only three reasons that people have when they use price as an excuse.

Reason 1: They cannot actually afford your service.

Sometimes, people will look into your service because they do have a problem, but they’re still in research mode.

They don’t know anything about you or your price or what you do.

Sometimes they’re just looking.

They may not be ready to buy. So if they say they can’t afford it…maybe they literally cannot afford it.

Or maybe, they’re not your ideal buyer.

If you’ve built out a buyer persona and you’re targeting a specific customer, then your price will fit that buyer persona. By definition, a person who cannot afford your service is not your ideal buyer. Period.

Stay top of mind with this person (through retargeting, lower-price hands off products, and regular email marketing) but DO NOT lower your price because then you’re lowering your value.

They will not value you more because you gave them a discount.

Therefore, do not lower your price to win a sale.

If you really think this project or customer is a good fit, the best thing you can do is to continue to offer proof.

Offer hope that will get them thinking about their life after hiring you. Plant that seed.

Let them see your product as a sure investment in their future.

So let’s say someone cannot afford a product, but you know that they will make the money back quickly. If you can absolutely guarantee that they’ll make money, make sure that you’re reducing their risk so it’s a no-brainer that they will no matter what make that money back very, very quickly. Make sure you’ve highlighted your guarantee. Offer them payment plans.

But don’t ever, ever reduce your value by discounting.

Reason 2:  They do not value your service or the end result.

Some prospects want results without investing anything. They expect the moon but don’t respect anyone else’s time or energy. They’re soul-sucking vampires.

These prospects haven’t done their research about what you do or how you help.

They don’t know how much work it takes to become an expert in X like you have.

They don’t know (or care) how long it takes you to do what you do.

And they certainly don’t want to invest in their own end result.

So they want to 10X their income but don’t want to put in the 10% it’d take up front?

In my mind I’m thinking…sorry, they must not want it that bad.

Let’s take a look at my own story, shall we?

So far I’ve invested $12,000 in my copywriting training, in website building, books, etc. I want to be a full-time copywriter that makes millions for my clients more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my whole freakin’ life. Is $12K worth the seven figures I’ll make? Hell freakin’ yes.

Your prospects should be the same way. If they want the moon, they better be willing to pay for a rocket ship.

If you see these prospects…RUN.

These types of clients and customers are terrible.

They…

  • Will question you constantly
  • Will redo what you’ve done or disrespect your time and effort
  • Don’t actually know what they’re talking about but will talk down to you anyway
  • Will ask for refunds unnecessarily
  • Will complain constantly about the very things others gush about
  • Won’t recommend you to others or provide a referral

The best thing to do here is not sign them up.

And if you can, figure out what attracted them in the first place and disqualify them faster and earlier in the sales process.

Reason 3: You have not proven how what you do ties into their results and how it’s worth what you charge.

The good thing about reason number three is that it’s in your control. Unlike the other ones which rely on your prospect, this one you can fix.

So if you’ve built a buyer persona and know your prospect well…. You shouldn’t have this problem.

If prospects who have the budget and value the outcome are not choosing you it’s because you haven’t sold yourself well.

What do you do?

 Go back through all of your sales materials, your website, and your proposal and pull out every selfish, I-focused bit. Pull out all the feature-only content and rewrite it so that every “feature” has a so what attached to it.

Because remember, people buy for emotional reasons and justify with logic.

 Honestly, this is why copywriting is so freaking hard and is so expensive. Copywriting which pulls the emotional strings and sells without turning someone off is very, very difficult.

Truth #3: Price is a marketing strategy, so use it like one

Your pricing tells the world more than you think. It tells the world what you think of yourself. And it tells the world who you help.

First, pricing tells the world what you think of yourself

If you believe actual core that what you do is valuable and will benefit your customer then it is your obligation to sell it and if you believe that what you do is valuable and you will charge a price that is commiserate with that value when you charge to low you’re saying that you don’t believe that it’s any good.

Second, your price tells the world what you think of money.

If you’ve never made more than $1000 a month in your entire life, you’re going to feel shame selling a product or service for $1500 or $3000 or $10,000. Have you only made $250,000 as an entrepreneur? You’d likely choke at pitching a $350K project.

Your price reflects your own inner barriers if you let it.

This is why most of the top names in the industry raised prices incrementally….

…and also why each of them will recommend mindset books such as “Think and Grow Rich” and what-not to new followers.

Your mindset is everything.

Pricing fails happen when you get stuck on yourself.

Most people price to please themselves instead of the prospect.

Let’s say you sell to enterprise customers:

Do you think a company like Microsoft or Dell is going to take you seriously when you charge $150 per white paper…. Instead of the $1500-$7000 the industry charges?

Or $15 per hour to consult on business marketing?

The answer, of course, is no.

Your client knows that if you really understood the market….

and really understood the amount of work it took to produce a white paper….

And you really knew what a good white paper could do for a company’s lead generation efforts…

That you’d charge a good rate for it.

While you personally might not be able to afford to hire someone at $3000 to write a lead magnet, it doesn’t mean that your prospect can’t.

By focusing on you and your limitations instead of who your prospect is, what their budget is, and what their expectations are, you are missing out.

Your pricing must reflect the your ideal buyer’s expections.

Note, that you won’t meet everyone’s expectations. You shouldn’t!

Your goal is to sell someone very, very specific buyer a very specific outcome. That outcome… that happiness… has a price tag.

Find it, prove it, and then own it.

Remember, your price is not about you.

Third, your price tells the world who you help.

Let’s go back to the example of Microsoft. If you are a white paper writer, your market is pretty wide. Companies of all sizes need white papers written:

  • Small startups just barely launched
  • Enterprise IT companies who make millions in revenue
  • Software Development firms who’ve been in business for 25 years
  • Etc…

Now, if you price at $10,000 white paper you are essentially saying that you only work with clients who have a big budget and who get big revenue out of the lead magnet that you generate. You’re also saying that you’ll only work with clients who deeply value and need what you produce.

See how that works? It’s not about how hard or easy it is for you to write it. It’s about the results and how your customers perceive you.

Your price should be one way that you disqualify bad leads so you can qualify good ones.

Your price is a marketing strategy. Use it as such.

 

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The Surprisingly Easy Way to Come up with Content Ideas for Your Site

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Have you ever wondered how big sites come up with so much SEO-rich content for their site? How they seem to have articles for about any keyword you pop into Google? Or have you wondered how to come up with more content for your site?

Wonder no more!

I’m going to unveil the secret that big websites (think Ask.com, etc) use for generating SEO-rich content. You can use this same process for any niche site you have or even for your consulting site. Remember that the topics that you want to talk about aren’t necessarily the ones that your buyer (a non technical person, for example) want to read about.

Prefer video? Here you go! (Coupon code revealed in the video)

 

Determine your niche and pick keywords

Lynn Swayze content step 1

What is your site about? If you’re a technology consultant, this might be your particular technology  niche. The caveat here is that you need to focus on what your buyer is interested in. So if you’re a database professional, you should blog about how databases intersect with businesses. Off the top of my head, this might be how to determine which database software is right for them, how to hire a database professional, why they need to perform regular database restore “fire drills”, etc. So you’re not talking about the technology…you’re talking about how the technology affects the business.

Pull Down Some Keywords

step2_keywords

These keywords are what you’ll use in step 3. This is also what you’ll use inside your article (for SEO), meta tags, and article keywords. These keywords are ones that you’ll also use for AdWord campaigns and all that jazz. What you’ll do is go to a keyword tool. I used Spyfu for this, but you could also use something like SEMRush or Wordtracker or any number of free tools.

So what I did was go to SpyFu and type in a focus keyword. I need to populate my White Paper site WhitePaperSwipeFile.com, so I used “white paper” as the keyword.

Here’s what came up that seem most relevant to my niche site:

  • white paper
  • white papers
  • what is a white paper
  • white paper format
  • white paper examples
  • how to write a white paper

keywordgroups

I went ahead and exported the full list, which I’ll use for advertising, WordPress keywords, and step 3. This is much faster than sitting and brainstorming for an hour.

Find Questions

step3_questions

The next step is to find questions based on the keywords. I use a tool called “Storybase” to do it. What storybase does is generate phrases, questions, and related phrases around your chosen keyword. It’ll also show you that keyword’s audience profile, such as if the audience is mostly male and where they live. It’s useful information that you can sort through and export. I don’t waste time sorting and deleting the list for my own purposes, but I would for a client.

Write Content

The final step is to write content based on the questions and keywords you’ve discovered. The best titles simply use that question. For example, “What is the definition of a White Paper”? The next best option is to make the question a headline in the article or blog post itself. For example, you’d write “White Paper 101” as the title and have “what is the definition of a white paper?” as one of the headlines. Hello, search engine traffic! I would also make sure to add relevant keywords in the article where it makes sense. (Stuffing doesn’t work anymore, by the way. So don’t do it!)

Now, let’s say that you don’t want to write content yourself. Maybe the thought of writing content is worse than going to the dentist. Maybe you take a long time and you’d rather make $100+ per hour consulting than writing crap articles. Or maybe you quite literally do not have time for article writing.

What are your options when you don’t have time to write blog posts?

  1. Go to a content mill or budget site.
  2. Hire a content writer who knows what she’s doing.

The first option is one I see most often. “Go to Fiverr!” they say. Or use Textbroker or Freelancr and find a cheap writer who’ll do it for $5 a pop. But let’s back up a second – what is that article worth to you? If you get one new client from it, isn’t it worth more than $5? Or conversely, what’s the loss if you lose a potential client because the article is inaccurate or poorly written? I bet that lost value is much, much higher than $5. For some of you, it might mean tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. There’s also the chance that they’re simply using rewritten content that isn’t original. That’s bad too and can get you in hot water.

The second option is more expensive up-front but worth it long-term. And that’s to hire someone like me to write content. What I do is I’ll come up with 50 to 100 blog post ideas. Then we’ll collaborate on priority – which ones we’ll tackle first. We’ll also determine which ones we’ll post on your site, which we’ll curate to LinkedIn, Medium, or Quora, and which ones we’ll try to get published on other people’s sites. (Free traffic is a good thing!) I also write 100% original content every time, ensuring that your articles are unique pieces of thought leadership that accurately reflect you, your brand, and your offer.

To learn more, click below.

ArticleWriting

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Before You Quit: 5 Steps to Take to Secure Your Consulting Future

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Before You Quit

The goal of this website, and my consulting and books, is to enable you to quit your day job and pursue an independent career doing what you love. For technology consultants that I cater to, it’s transforming their years of enterprise experience into a lucrative career. Goodbye clueless bosses, failing contracts, and long on-call hours. Hello to working on interesting projects and a manageable work-life balance.

Before you quit, though, you have to get your “ducks in a row”, so to speak. Here are five things you must do before you hand in your resignation notice.

Step 1: Gather Social Proof

The first thing you should do is start to gather your social proof. This comes by way of recommendations on LinkedIn, testimonials on your blog or Information Packet, or case studies once you launch. These are essentially other people coming forward and vouching for you, your expertise, your personality, and your work. The more people and variety of projects you  have, the better you’ll fare when you finally go solo. So if you can, give and request for testimonials. And when you do, be sure to guide the people you’re asking. It’s perfectly acceptable to say that you want to highlight a certain skill (e.g., project management or how well you work with clients). Get as many of these as far back as you can.

And if you’re doing side jobs, be sure to get testimonials from them, too.  I’ll write a post on how to structure those shortly. Essentially, these testimonials MUST fast track the trust-building process and act as proof that you’re not some fly-by-night weirdo who put up a blog. You are an expert who gets results, and your testimonials and case studies help prove it.

Step 2: Build an Online Presence

The next step is to establish an online presence that aligns with your future role as a consultant. If possible, do this while you’re still employed. Beef up your LinkedIn profile. Build a Twitter profile that is technical and value-added. Clean up Facebook and build a professional Facebook page. Start guest posting or blogging on your own site. If you can, be a guest on a podcast. If you’re a Microsoft person, try SQL Data Partners. If you’re not a Microsoft person but want exposure, I may have an opportunity for you on my upcoming technical podcast. (Contact me for details.)

If you’re not sure what you look like online, you may want to employ some help. I fully recommend tools like Brand Yourself, which help you sort through and fix your search results. I’ve used their free service with good results. If nothing else, it will help you organize and make sense of optimizing your social media profiles for search engines.

At the least, you want an account on:

Guru Internet marketers recommend SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Blab, and others, but they’re not the best for new B2B marketers. Most tech consultants I’ve talked to don’t have time for excessive social media activity. Picking the accounts where you’ll see the most wins is the best bet. Start sharing industry articles, connecting with other professionals, and adding value. Whatever you do, don’t spam everyone with “buy my services!”-type posts. That’ll get you muted pretty quickly. Instead, work to build relationships before you need them. And give back liberally.

You’ll also want to build a basic website. I like self-hosted WordPress sites because I have full control and autonomy. WordPress.com has limitations on affiliate sales and plugins that I don’t like. There are other options, too. One of my clients had a plain HTML+CSS+JS site for a long time. Another used a less common CMS. One consultant friend I know uses Squarespace. I recently wrote a blog post about what to include in your consultant website.

Step 3: Write an Information Packet

If you’re like most technology consultants, a passive online presence is not enough. Even Adwords isn’t enough! You’ll have to do some outbound marketing (e.g., direct mail) in order to get results. One item you can send to prospects is an information packet. I’ll post about that soon. In short, it should have an introductory page, a page with testimonials, a page about your process, a pricing page, and examples/descriptions of past projects or work. I’ll write about a post about it soon, I promise.

Step 4: Nail Down Your Market

One mistake I see new technology consultants make is to try to sell to everyone. They want to offer the kitchen sink when it comes to services. They don’t want to turn anyone down. The problem is that marketing to everyone is really, really hard. You can’t meet everyone at the price point and timeline they need, nor do you have the experience (or personality!) for every job. So why try? Instead, you need to evaluate your experience, personality, and market and figure out what makes you happy. Would you prefer working for big corporations or small shops? Would you rather spend time teaching and speaking, or working in the trenches? Do you want to do work that requires travel or work that can be done in your pyjamas? Figure this out beforehand and structure your services accordingly.

And repeat after me: “I am a specialist who does… ” and then fill in the blank.  You are an expert in X, not a generalist. Got it? 🙂

Step 5: Get Comfortable with Your Value

What value do you bring as a consultant? If you’ve been an employed technology professional for a long time, you probably think in terms of features and technological additions. STOP RIGHT NOW. You’ll have a heck of a hard time pricing and marketing effectively if you stay in this mindset.

Remember that the value you bring is more than just the technical expertise. Think about it: what does your technical expertise do for companies? If you’re a programmer, you’re building software that increases revenue or saves money (via time, lost sales, automation, etc). If you’re a security expert, you’re preventing expensive data breaches or fixing past security flaws. If you’re a database administrator, you’re making applications run faster (saving money) and improving security. You’re likely also organizing the data better which could mean increased revenue if you’re talking sales trend data.

As an independent consultant, you’ll have to market and price based on the benefits of your service, not on the market value. No one cares about your technical expertise per se. They care about how your certifications reduce the risk that you’ll eff up their entire operation. They care about how your decades of experience will mean that you can get the job done faster. It’s a mental shift you need to make NOW before you end up client-less and penny-less.

Conclusion

The prep work required to move into consulting isn’t hard and can be fast tracked if necessary. But starting before you quit will give you a leg up and help you avoid costly slow times that’ll eat up your hard-earned savings.

Summary:

  1. Gather Social Proof
  2. Build an Online Presence
  3. Write an Information Packet
  4. Nail Down Your Market
  5. Get Comfortable with Your Value

Now go thee forth and make more money!

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If you found this post helpful, you should get on my mailing list. And please… share this with someone who needs kick in their pricing booty.

 

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1 Five Surprisingly Common Consultant Website Problems

TL;DR: Over the course of this article I’m going to describe the most common website flaws for consultants. There are many (including some that yours truly engages in), but these are the most likely to harm your long-term profitability. These are: a lack of an about page, no email list, no lead magnet, blogging for the wrong audience, and no selling. Read on to get the full scoop.


Table of Contents:
I. Why do I need a website?
II. Common mistake 1: No About Page
III. Common Mistake 2: No Email List
IV. Common Mistake 3: No Lead Magnet
V. Common Mistake 4: Blogging for the wrong audience
VI. Common Mistake 5: Not Selling
VII. Conclusion & Resources


Why do I need a website?

What’s the purpose of a website for consultants?

  • Is it to help with Google search results?
  • Is it to generate leads?
  • Is it to sell your products/services?
  • Is it to showcase your expertise in your field via media (articles, video, audio)?
  • Is it to link to your social media?

If you answered all of the above, you’re right!

And if you struggle with your website, you’re not alone. And also, I want to tell you right now that it’s not your fault. Website creation is purposely made complicated by designers, web devs, and people who make their living selling websites. If they made it sound easy, they’d be out of a job. So if you have in your head that you need to spend $10,000 in order to put up a blog, then you can blame them.

Should you spend some money in quality graphics? Absolutely. Is it necessary when you as a consultant aren’t profitable yet? No. it’s not. Spend money on other things like ads, direct mail, etc., but not on your website. Not at first.

Think of your website as your marketing real estate. It’s the one corner on the internet that you own. It’ll be yours no matter what social media platform is popular or how big you get. It will grow in usefulness the longer it remains in effect. And all of the information on the site is under your control. The layout, the content, the pages, the design. All of it.

Over the course of this article I’m going to describe the most common website flaws for consultants. There are many (including some that yours truly engages in), but these are the most likely to harm your long-term profitability.

Common mistake 1: No About Page

The most common mistake that I see is a lack of an about page or an ineffective about page. Your about page is the one part of your site where you can really talk about yourself. You want to tell your story and through the narrative answer the following questions:

Who are you?
I mean the real you, not your “business persona” version of you. As a tech consultant, do you have a degree in networking, or did you come from a liberal arts background? As a copywriter – did you start off in a different field altogether? What makes you uniquely qualified to do your job?

What do you do/sell?

What do you sell? Do you sell products, like books and courses? Do you sell services, like monthly retainer consulting about something specific? Why do you sell what you do, and not something else?

How do you help your customers?

Here’s an example I came up with on the fly just now for this blog post based on the “60 Second Sales Hook”, a template created by  copywriting mentor Kevin Rogers:

“Hi, I’m Lynn Swayze. I’m an independent copywriter based out of Charleston, Illinois.

For years I watched businesses I worked for struggle to make sales and generate leads. It seemed like everyone had the same problem: they spent entirely too much in advertising, got too few results, and ended up with clients that weren’t a good fit for their services. I knew that their had to be a better way for B2B companies to sell more of their products and services.

In my searching I discovered direct response copywriting. It was the piece that companies were missing! After spending thousands in training from the industry’s top copywriters and internet marketers, reading dozens of books, and hundreds of hours spent reading and hand copying time-tested ads, I learned what worked and what didn’t for B2B companies. 

Now I spend my time helping others apply time-tested marketing and copywriting techniques in their business. I write landing pages and website content, develop marketing funnels, and create lead magnets for companies of all sizes.

If you’re interested to see how I can help you, opt in to my waiting list and then HIT REPLY to the email you’re sent. Or, send me an email at lynn (at) lynnswayze.com and let’s get started.”

See… it’s not so hard! The hard part is opening up in the first place. Note that my about page example as a call to action that isn’t some version of “contact me”. It offers a low-threshold way for people to get more information without directly contacting me.

(P.S. – I’ll write an about page for you if you really want some help.)

Common Mistake 2: No Email List

Okay my tech consultants out there… this is probably your #1 problem. You hate spam and so instead of using email to foster conversations and build relationships with your prospects, you avoid it altogether. And you don’t sell. No one uses your “contact me” form. And there is no direct link between website visitors and sales because you didn’t build one.

Mantra: Your website = lead generation tool
Let me ask you really quick…. how many leads does your website generate? If you’re like many consultants, it’s well under 500 total. For one of my best clients, the answer was ZERO. So, let’s say that your website receives 200 views a month. How many of those views translate into prospects, let alone customers? You need to get this number to at least 3%, if not 10%. Ten would be awesome for most consultants. How do you do this? Well, you get a list.

Think of your email list as your future customer database. 
If you do it right, your email list is comprised of people who are your prospects. So, let’s say that you build a proper lead magnet (ebook, worksheet, white paper, etc) and it attracts your ideal client. Your ideal client wants the information and signs up. Now you have a list of individuals who have enough of a problem that they’re willing to exchange their email address for it. That’s a big deal!

Email doesn’t have to be spammy.
Now you can start to build a relationship with those clients. Show them your personality. Offer them value. And more importantly… you stay TOP OF MIND by emailing them at least weekly, if not daily. They won’t forget your name. When they think of a consultant who does what you do, who do you think they’ll think of? If they’re reading your emails every day, then they’ll think of you. They’ll forward your emails to friends. And they’ll refer you to others if they don’t hire you directly themselves. And when it is time to sell (a book you’ve launched, an opening on your waitlist, etc), it won’t come across as spammy because you’re now the friend who’s reaching out with something that’ll help them and not another cold emailing salesman.

FREE course -> “Charge What You’re Worth” by Brennan Dunn

I recommend Aweber for email management, but there are others that’ll do the job too, like Drip or ConvertKit or even Mailchimp. Note that you’ll need an @yourdomain.com email address instead of a public one like Google or Hotmail or Yahoo.

Common Mistake 3: No Lead Magnet

In order to get emails, you have to have a lead magnet. A good lead magnet can be used for PPC ads and for email signups on your page. A good lead magnet will provide value (just enough!) without giving away the whole farm. And it will help establish you as an authority in whatever it is you do/teach/sell.

TL;DR: You are offering something of value you have (information) in exchange for something of value they have (an email address/their information, their time). You are looking for those website visitors who raise their hand and are essentially saying, “Yes, I have this problem!” You are starting a conversation with potential prospects.

Common Mistake 4: Blogging for the wrong audience

Okay guys…. you know who you are. Those of you writing about the latest technical tool instead of about your customer’s needs. When you do the former, you are blogging to the wrong audience. So, let’s say that you lead magnet provides value to your ideal customer. Great. But if your blog posts (SEO magnets!) talk to your peers instead of to your prospects, do you think you’ll get opt-ins to your email list? No… no you won’t.

Talk to your prospects. Talk about how you’ve solved a client problem. Address a common question you get. But don’t talk about technical stuff no one but your peers care about. Save that content for where it matters – tech blogs and magazines where you can guest post. Your site should sell you.

Exception: if you want to sell books or training to your peers, then by all means blog about the technical, profession-related stuff. But in this case you’re still following the rule to blog to your customer, because your customer has changed. See where I’m going with this? 🙂

Here’s Jon Morrow’s secret for blogging success (from : https://smartblogger.com/stephen-king/):

“You want the formula for writing popular blog posts? Here it is: Jot down a list of blog topics you could write about. Circle the ones at least 80% of your readers would find irresistible. Write about those topics and nothing else.”

Common Mistake 5: Not Selling

This really goes back to mistake #1 and #2… many people hate selling. For some reason, it’s a big taboo to like selling. I don’t know why it is, but we all think of the sleazy car salesman when we talk about selling. It’s such a wrong mindset to have, though.

If your product or service actaully helps people, it is your OBLIGATION to sell them on it if they’re a good fit. (e.g., they can afford it and they’re ready for it). Why would you deny prospects the ability to grow their busines, improve their IT infrastructure, make more money, or whatever it is that your product does for them?

I think people get caught up in themselves and forget that they’re bringing value. They think, “No one would pay me $150 an hour to do this. I don’t know as much as [insert expert]!” Thing is, you know more than your prospects and clients and you will get them results. That’s what they’re paying for. Not for YOU, but for the RESULTS.

On your website, therefore, you have to sell. Make it easy for people to opt in to your list. If you sell a low-priced product (a book, for example), make it easy for them to buy it. Advertise it like you would someone else’s product. Talk about it at the end of your emails. Make sure that everyone who comes to your site is VERY CLEAR on what you do and how they can buy from you. Because people buy when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Conclusion

You’re probably making at least one of these website mistakes, and that’s okay! It’s never too late to fix a website that isn’t working. And if you get stuck, please reach out by commenting below. I love hearing from my readers.

Now go thee forth and make more money!
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If you found this post helpful, you should get on my mailing list. And please… share this with someone who needs kick in their website booty.

Useful Resources:*


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5 Hourly Billing is the Tool of Satan


Table of Contents:
I. Why do we engage in hourly billing?
II. Why don’t big names engage in hourly billing?
III. What’s the risk of hourly billing?
IV. Price Anchoring
V. How to Sell Using Price Anchoring (Quick 3 Steps)
VI. Conclusion & Resources


Why do we engage in hourly billing?

Tell me: What do all the “gurus” say you should focus on when you go about pricing your services? They talk about pricing per hour.

It’s not your fault. You believe it because when you started working, you were paid per hour.

A “job” = exchange of hours for money.

So then when we go out and start software consulting companies, marketing consulting companies, freelance businesses, etc.,…. we think about hours. Even when many bill “projects”, they still compute the price based on the # of hours it’d take and charge that.

Example: 3 x $100 an hour = $300 for a logo

Nooooooo…….. 

Why don’t the big names engage in hourly billing?

Look… there are consultants charging $50-100 an hour and there are consultants charging tens of thousands per day. Don’t believe me? According to my copy of Dan Kennedy’s Magnetic Marketing*, Dan charges something like $19,000+ per day to fix their marketing and build a direct mail funnel.

Why don’t they engage in hourly billing? They don’t because they would never get as affluent as they are charging hourly rates. I mean, some of these guys charge tens of thousands just to speak at an event. How do you think it would sound if they actually talked to people about what they made per hour?

What’s the Risk of Hourly Billing?

There are three risks associated with hourly billing: Commoditization, Profit Loss, and Inefficiency

Commoditization

The thing is, when you charge by the hour, you’ve essentially made yourself a commodity. A commodity is something that’s just like everything else. So when you say, “I’m a consultant who does X and charges Y!” Well, your client is only thinking about the rate. They’re not thinking about why you’re different or the results you’re going to bring compared to what anyone else can bring them. They’re only thinking about the rate. So they’re going to compare you to the next person who does X but charges Z, and they’re going to pick the cheapest one. Or, they’ll go with you until they decide they don’t want to pay your fee anymore.

Profit Loss

And then there’s the profitability ceiling…

Here’s an example where hourly billing goes wrong as applied to profitability:

Let’s say that you are one of the tens of thousands of IT consulting firms who charges between $100-$150 an hour to do IT stuff. (Software development, network infrastructure, whatever.) Now, when it was just you there was a lot of money to be made. You were bringing in 200K a year and had negligible business overhead (let’s say $12K a year for office space and training and such.) Great.

But you wanted to make more money. How did you do that? Well, you got more contracts at $100-$150 an hour, but you outsourced some of the work for $50 an hour. So now you have people underneath you making $100K a year and you pocketed the remainder.

The problem? As you hire people, you expenses go up and your profits go down. Now you have to hire people to do all of the business stuff, like accounting and sales and HR.

And the only way to make more money? Take on more contracts and hire more people. You can’t charge more, because that $100-$150K is the market rate for what you do. Your clients know that what you do is a commodity and can and will go elsewhere if your rate is too unjustifiable. So you just keep taking on more clients, hoping that eventually your costs will stabilize. Or maybe you pay people less, taking on more junior employees. Or maybe you make your employees work more while pocketing the rest.

Either way, it’s a quick train to burnout land.

In short: your profitability has reached its ceiling. Congratulations.

via GIPHY

Instead, what this company (and I swear there are tens of thousands out there like that fictional one I described) should do is focus on the end result they’re creating and point pricing to that. Instead of making only $200K for a year’s worth of work, they could anchor at $250K… $350K… $450K… and actually make a profit that doesn’t revolve around billing employees at 4x what they’re actually getting paid.

Efficiency

When you know that you have 10 hours to do a job and you’ll only get paid if you sit there for 10 hours to do it, do you think there’s any incentive to work faster or get better at what you do? No. It puts you at a moral dilemma. If you weren’t paid by the hour, you could buy tools or do things in such a way that you get your client’s work done faster and better. Instead, you are tied to hours because otherwise you can’t pay the bills. So will you buy a tool that will do the job better, or get the job done quickly so the client can reap the rewards quickly?

The answer is no, you don’t. Instead use up the hours you’re allotted because that’s the only way you make money.

There are only three ways to make money at that point:

  1. Charge only what time you spent, but over time be forced to take on more and more clients once you’ve reached the per-hour ceiling. (You become more efficient so your per-hour becomes less profitable.)
  2. Charge what was quoted, whether you actually used all that time or not. (Cheating and lying to your client – that’s bad mojo.)
  3. Take all the time allotted to do the job, and never break away from the working-all-the-time wheelhouse you wanted to get away from in the first place. (At this point, you might as well go back to your j-o-b.)

Instead of all of that drama, you could just price according to the project’s value, do the job in the time it takes, and deliver value quickly so your client can reap the rewards. No killing yourself, cheating yourself or your client, or being inefficient. Just work you want to do at a rate that pays your bills.

Sounds good, right? Then let’s look at price anchoring and how it affects your billing.

FREE course -> “Charge What You’re Worth” by Brennan Dunn

Price Anchoring

Price anchoring is the idea that the first piece of information you receive about something will create a bias that colors the rest of your experience. This is why it’s so hard to change your prices with existing clients, and why you have to anchor it to something else (e.g., your posted rates are now significantly higher than they’re paying, and you don’t want them to feel like they’re getting second-rate work from you because they’re paying less. Etc). 

How to Sell Using Price Anchoring:

Look at my previous post on pricing for more details, but here’s the shortcut version:

  1. Find out what their most painful problem is
  2. Discover and discuss what that most painful problem costs them or is worth
  3. Talk about your pricing in relation to solving that problem

The best way to achieve this is to price per project. What value are you giving in exchange for your fees?

Conclusion

Summary:

  1. Hourly billing reduces your total income and makes you a commodity
  2. Price according to value, not to yourself or market rates
  3. Use Price Anchoring to your advantage

I want to add something here: Something magical happens in your head when you stop thinking about hours. The first is that you become more efficient. The second is that you stop working so darn  much and you stop sweating it. If you’re bringing the value and end result you promised your consultants, then you’re doing your job. Who cares if it only takes you 20 hours? That’s your business. And if it takes you a ridiculous amount of time to do a job? Well, that’s your business (/problem) also.

The results are what you’re promising and what your clients pay for. Anything else is just a golden handcuff and a focus on the wrong thing (e.g., labor instead of the end result).

You want both you and the client to be on the same page and focused on getting a very specific end result. 

Got it?

Now go thee forth and make more money!

via GIPHY

If you found this post helpful, you should get on my mailing list. And please… share this with someone who needs kick in their pricing booty.

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3 How to Figure Out What You Should Charge


Table of Contents:
I. Why is Pricing So Hard?
II. Pricing is all Mindset
III. It’s Not Your Fault
IV. Price Anchoring
V. How to Sell Using Price Anchoring (Quick 3 Steps)
VI. Conclusion & Resources


Why is Pricing so Hard?

One of the most burning questions I had when I first got started in consulting was, “How much do I charge?!” I would go into cold sweats every time I thought about raising my rates to even close to what I knew I could charge.

Maybe you’re like I was. If you keep asking the same thing, you’re not alone. So many copywriters, consultants, and even service providers I meet ask the same thing. It’s a difficult thing to price correctly, and the reason is because you’re thinking about it all wrong.

Pricing is All Mindset

Pricing really is more art than science. There really aren’t any magic numbers that work for every person, market, or problem. Let’s look at the consulting realm:

There are consultants charging $50-100 an hour and there are consultants charging tens of thousands per day. Don’t believe me? According to my copy of Dan Kennedy’s Magnetic Marketing*, Dan charges something like $19,000+ per day to fix their marketing and build a direct mail funnel. Why such variability in what is essentially the same service?

The truth is, making more money as a consultant is entirely a combination of mindset + price anchoring + confidence. And the confidence in your rates is probably the most important of all of them.

It’s Not Your Fault

Look, it’s not your fault. What do all the “gurus” say when they talk about pricing your services? They say something like this:

“Price what you’re worth!”

But “Price What You’re Worth” leads to a line of thinking that goes like this:

  1. Last time I worked for a client/had a job, I made $X per Hour
  2. In order to pay my bills, I need $Y per Hour.
  3. The other guys I’m competing with charge $Z per hour, therefore I have to charge Z.
  4. I can’t get work quickly despite advertising my rates, so I must be too high. I’m going to charge closer to $X.

Yiiiiiiiikes people. This is bad. This is why we get that race to the bottom that every freelancer warns about. It’s bad mojo and it’s killing your business. (That and hourly billing, which is an evil handcuff.)

The truth is, there’s a better mantra you have to use when you price. Are you ready?

It’s simple: “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.” 

Seriously, stop thinking about youyour worth, your skills, your experience. Your prospects don’t actually care about that beyond the value of a story, which is what it takes to get them interested in you in the first place. Otherwise, it’s meaningless to most prospects, who by the way don’t know you from Scott down the street.

Instead, focus on themTheir problems, their goals, their pain pointstheir awareness level. Heck, even their budget, which is likely a h-e-double hockeysticks level above your own  meager need-per-month.

Have you ever read the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People?”* It’s a great book, by the way, and one you should grab immediately. The gist of it is pretty simple, and it goes like this: In order to be interesting, you have to be interested.

That is, people enjoy talking about themselves. They enjoy it so much that they’ll think you’re the greatest person since sliced bread if you’ll let them ramble. People are craving to be heard and understood. You taking a few minutes out of your day to do it will mean the world to someone else. And that’s how you create relationships.

So when you’re marketing, you had better be talking about them. Don’t talk about yourself. Talk about the problem that you solve. Which brings me to the next point: price anchoring.

Price Anchoring

Price anchoring is the idea that the first piece of information you receive about something will create a bias that colors the rest of your experience. This is why it’s so hard to change your prices with existing clients, and why you have to anchor it to something else (e.g., your posted rates are now significantly higher than they’re paying, and you don’t want them to feel like they’re getting second-rate work from you because they’re paying less. Etc). 

P.S. Eric Yu talks about the three benefits of price anchoring. I highly recommend you hop on over there when you finish with this post.

How to Sell Using Price Anchoring:

  1. Find out what their most painful problem is
  2. Discover and discuss what that most painful problem costs them or is worth
  3. Talk about your pricing in relation to solving that problem

For example: as of July 2016, I charge $5000 per month for my consulting and copywriting. It’s a terribly low number for the results I bring, but we all have to start somewhere, right? When I sell my services, I always anchor it on the goal revenue I’m going to bring them as a result of working with me. I point to what I’ve done for other clients (usually 3-4X my retainer) as proof of the ROI.

Then I point to what else they could spend their money on, which wouldn’t get them the same ROI. E.g., hiring an expensive “graphic-designer-slash-marketer” at $60K, who doesn’t know direct response like I do. Or a six figure CMO who doesn’t guarantee her work like I do. When I’m telling a customer (and looking them square in the eye) and guaranteeing that I’ll bring them from $100,000 annually to $250,000+ annually or I’ll work for free until I do

well… that $60K in exchange for “guaranteed” $150K+ they didn’t know how to get starts looking pretty cheap, doesn’t it?

This is why your landing pages, sales letters, etc have to have benefits. This is why any copywriter you hire will rip out your “features” and “years of experience” wording right away. This is why the big time consultants barely talk about themselves.

Here’s a free Freelance Rate Calculator from Brennan Dunn

Example: Look at Ramit Sethi’s about page – everything he talks about  relates back to solving your financial problems. He only shares enough to prove that he’s just like you and that he understands what you’re going through.

Conclusion

Summary:

  1. Pricing is hard because you’ve been misled by everyone
  2. Price according to value, not to yourself or market rates
  3. Use Price Anchoring to your advantage

Now go thee forth and make more money!

via GIPHY

If you found this post helpful, you should get on my mailing list. And please… share this with someone who needs kick in their pricing booty.

Useful Resources:


* this is an affiliate link. Just do some Google searching for the title if you’d rather those pennies stay in Amazon’s/whoever’s pockets instead.