For most of my freelance copywriting career, most of my “new business” has come from referrals.
Someone I know tells someone else about me.
An introduction is made.
And business happens.
After 5 years of doing this, I have a nice little network of people who keep me beyond busy with work. And that network grows almost every single day.
Every day more and more people are finding out about Chris Orzechowski.
They’re hearing about the projects I’ve done and the wins I’ve gotten for my clients. They’re hearing about how I bend over backward for my clients and do everything in my power to make their campaigns a smashing success.
The thing that most people don’t realize is that…
All Of These Referrals Are Orchestrated. Engineered. Initiated By The Actions I Perform.
You see, what I’ve learned is that getting people to refer copywriting clients to you isn’t accidental.
You need to create opportunities for these “random referrals” to occur.
You need to create scenarios where people hear about a problem someone is having… and immediately think of YOU.
And I’ve done a pretty decent job at that so far in my career.
So that’s what I want to teach to do today.
I wanna show you HOW you can amass an army of eager referral partners who’ll keep you so booked up with new clients, you’ll live 24/7 on the edge of a nervous breakdown because you have no idea how you’ll be able to handle all this extra work coming your way.
How’s that for a subhead?
A few things have to happen if you’re going to be seen as the “go-to” guy or gal copywriter that everyone wants to refer clients to.
First, people need to know you.
Second, you need to demonstrate that you are someone who is capable and lives by the pro code.
Third, you need to be likable.
And fourth, you need to create opportunities for people to get involved with you.
Let’s break this down one at a time…
Step 1: It’s Not About Who You Know.
It’s About Who Knows YOU.
There’s that old saying: it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
But in my opinion, who YOU know doesn’t mean shit.
I’m an extrovert. I meet a lot of people.
I know that every single person I meet isn’t going to remember me.
Unless I can do something to be remembered by, there’s a slim chance they’ll remember who I am.
Now, I’ll say this…
What I’m about to tell you is great for when you’re first starting. But if you’re desperate for client work… you’re gonna have to get the ball rolling somehow. You can’t steer a parked car.
I’m always into the LONG GAME. Which is why I made the decisions I made.
Here’s a few examples of how to play the long game with clients and win…
What I started doing early on in my freelance career was focusing on building strong relationships with a few people.
I remember years ago, I saw a guy in a Facebook group asking for feedback on his copy. He needed help with his bullets and his headlines.
I had no clients at the time. In fact, at that point, I had never even had someone pay me to write for them. (I’d done a few free gigs at that point.)
So I told this dude, “Hey, I’m gonna rewrite your copy for you… and we can also hop on a call and go line-by-line thru any other piece you need help with.”
I rewrote the copy, sent it to him, and said when do you wanna chat?
That was the start of a great referral relationship.
I jammed my foot in the door.
I didn’t ask, I just went for it.
I knew it would suck not getting paid. But I also knew that there was a chance this person would either hire me in the future… or they’d tell someone about this awesome copywriter who helped them solve their problem.
And guess what?
He did hire me months later.
And he’s since sent me a half-dozen worth of clients over the years.
There was another Facebook group where I offered up to write a few short autoresponders for free.
A few people took me up on the offer. One of the guys was an up and comer in his industry.
After I wrote his email sequence, he actually invited me to come and give a free training to his coaching students.
So with these two examples, I went from a guy who couldn’t get paid to write copy…. to a guy who is now getting gigs referred to him (PAYING gigs) and who is also giving trainings to groups of people on his expertise.
These are just two small examples of things I’ve done (things YOU can do, too.)
Do you see how easy it is to get noticed?
These two guys have become friends in this industry and are now what I would consider “influential allies.”
Getting Booked AF With Client Work Is All A Simple Numbers Game.
I was a math teacher before I was a copywriter.
For four long years, I taught a lot of maths.
So I knew that numbers were important.
And like most things in life, there’s probably some sort of mathematical equation that can explain how it works.
And getting copywriting referrals ain’t no different.
What I started doing was every time I felt I made a positive impression on someone… where I thought they’d remember who I was… and I felt like they liked me… and I thought we could build a long-term relationship… and I thought that they might refer work to me one day… they went on to my “influential allies” list.
I recommend every copywriter create one of these.
An influential allies list is just a list of people who I know would sing my praises if they were ever asked about me.
I figured that for every person who fit the above criteria on that list… they’d refer me an average of two clients over the course of the year.
How did I arrive at this number?
Well, after I got 10-15 people on this list, I started doing some rough calculations on how many clients each person had referred me. I think it averaged out to about 2 per person.
So that’s what I rolled with.
Now, here’s the crazy part…
I realized that if I could win over enough of these influential allies, I would never go hungry. And I’d maybe one day be able to leave my day job.
Eventually it got to the point where I had ~32 people on my influential allies list.
And you know what?
I was getting referrals on a weekly basis.
Think about it: 32 people x 2 referrals per year = ~64 referrals or 1.23 referrals a week.
Now I KNOW this is not perfect math. And I KNOW that I did not have complete control over this process.
It’s not a concrete science.
But that’s just the way it seemed to work out.
Think about it this way…
If you get 1-2 client coming to you every week JUST from referrals alone (not counting other method of lead gen), how many of them do you need to close to hit your income goals?
The math is in your favor.
Step 2: The Public Demonstration
So if the key is getting influential allies who are connected with people you don’t know – people who might need copywriters – how do you attract more of these people into your life?
I’m a YUGE Gary Bencivenga fan.
For many reasons.
I met him and his wife at a conference a few years back and I can honestly say they are two of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.
Gary is also the best copywriter alive. They guy has god-like abilities.
He’s written before in his Marketing Bullets about the importance of proof in advertising. And he tells us that one of the most powerful forms of proof is a demonstration.
That’s why infomercials are able to sell you something you didn’t even know existed that solve problems you didn’t even know you had in 30 seconds or less.
I didn’t think being a service provider changed the effectiveness of this technique.
I knew there were ways to demonstrate my abilities so I didn’t have to TELL people about the stuff I did…. I could show them instead, which is always much more powerful.
I started demonstrating.
I started giving free trainings about how to write better copy.
I started publishing articles on the subject of copywriting.
I started adding in “free consulting” in addition to the copy I wrote for my clients.
And I started sharing case studies of the stuff I’ve done with other clients.
Eventually, people started to realize that I knew what I was talking about.
And this is how word starts to spread.
I didn’t just say “Hey, I’m good at copy, benefit benefit benefit, blah blah blah.”
All I said was, “Oh, you got this problem? I helped someone solve that problem. Here’s how I did it…”
That was the first part of the demonstration.
The second part was treating every client’s project like it was the most important project in the world. Meaning… living the pro code.
Showing up every day, doing what you said you’d do at the time you said it’d be done.
When people realize you are someone who does a good job, meets deadlines, sticks to your word, and hustles to make their project a success, they can’t wait to tell people how awesome it is to work with you.
Step 3: Be Likable
For some reason, most copywriters try to compete on FB to see how can be the copywriterist copywriter.
They self-aggrandize and beat their chest like no other species of human I have ever seen before.
They have an attitude.
They act like their shit doesn’t stink.
I think some of them actually think they possess the Midas touch and that their copy is the sole reason a campaign did well (hint: that’s usually not the case).
But the guys who are usually the most vocal on FB… the guys who are constantly LECTURING YOU about how to run your business… and point out all the mistakes you’re making… and who preach from their copywriting ivory tower… well, from what I’ve seen in “behind-the-scenes” copywriting forums where they can take their mask off… a lot of these guys have no clients. They’re dead broke. Their own businesses don’t work… yet they have they somehow have the knowledge and high ground to lecture every other entrepreneur and neg people into becoming clients?
That was never really my bag.
I took the approach of being likable. I wanted to be a pleasure to work with. I always wanted to make it an enjoyable experience for my clients.
And if you are likable, you don’t have to beat your chest on FB to get attention.
If you are cool and fun to work with, people will want to hire you over and over again.
And they’ll want to tell others about you, because you are a cool dude or dudette.
Read How To Win Friends And Influence People if you aren’t a likable person. And make yourself that way.
One last point here…
In one of John Carlton’s books – I think it was The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together – he talked about the importance of being friendly to everyone at the office at the companies he was working with.
He would talk to the receptionists.
He would talk to the customer service people and the accountants. He would make friends with everyone he could. And they would go out of their way to solve problems for him… like expediting a payment he’d normally have to wait for.
It’s something small, of course…
But I think being a likable person and someone people enjoy talking to is like compounding interest.
You won’t feel the effects today… but years down the road, you’ll be amazed at how large your network is of people who like you and support you (and who REFER clients your way FOR THE SIMPLE FACT THAT THEY LIKE YOU AS A PERSON. It doesn’t matter if that’s not a rational explanation – that’s just how the world works, my friend).
Step 4: Create Opportunities For People To Refer
Wanna know the real secret why I’m about to get so many referrals?
People know exactly WHY they should refer someone my way.
It’s because after years of “figuring it out” I finally know WHO I am, WHAT I offer, and WHO I can serve.
If you don’t know those three things, you’re not going to get quality referrals.
People know I am a guy who creates evergreen, automated, behavior-driven email sequences and funnels. They also know that from time to time I double as a “launch guy.”
I am NOT just a copywriter like the great unwashed masses.
I specialize in a few things.
Being that I have that clarity, my influential allies know who would be a good fit for the kind of work I do… and they know who wouldn’t be a good fit.
They filter a lot of clients for me, without me ever even knowing this process is happening. And that’s because I’ve done a great job of not only adding value to their lives…. but also because I’ve demonstrated what I am capable of… and what I am not.
If you are a generalist, you’ll get a lot of general referrals.
If you are a specialist, people will only send you clients who are a perfect fit for your specialty. They won’t waste your time introducing someone to you that they know you won’t want to work with.
Do You See Now How Simple It Is To Engineer Referrals?
Getting referrals for your freelance copywriting business is not an entirely random process.
To me, it’s an algorithm you can build.
You just have to go out and get started.