Following is a question I received from a new SEO writer (actually a couple of questions) about a week ago. Although it’s couched in marketing terms, the underlying question is a perennial one, ie “How do I ensure success as a freelance SEO writer?” My answer follows.
I wanted to ask you a question regarding the response rate for reaching out to … companies. I am using a slightly modified version of your template. I have reached out to about 150 companies over the past 3 weeks, but I’ve only had 2 interested responses (and I’m working on converting these guys into clients).
I’ve changed up my strategy a little, in the past week, and began e-mailing [other] sites that specialize in my niches. Hopefully this will produce better results.
Now, I know that not everyone is going to have the same results, but I am stumped as to why I am having such atypical results. I know that my writing samples are quality, and that my prices are not outrageous.
Do you have any additional tips for hooking people on the initial e-mail?
I’ve also created a free report to provide value to potential clients (and to justify my prices, lol). Do you think I should send this report with my initial e-mail, or do you think it best to wait until the company / person has responded?
Thank you and I appreciate any guidance / insight that you can provide.
Have a wonderful day.
Thanks T for writing in. I can never reiterate just how much readers like you make this blog so helpful by continuing to ask such insightful questions.
I’m going to answer your last question first, then circle back to the first one.
In answer to “I’ve also created a free report to provide value to potential clients (and to justify my prices, lol). Do you think I should send this report with my initial e-mail, or do you think it best to wait until the company / person has responded?”
My rule of thumb in email marketing is not to overwhelm prospects by sending too much info in the initial email. Your goal with the first touch is to get a response from them. So, stick with just trying to get them to reach out to you for SEO writing work.
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What I advise is waiting until your second touch – even if they don’t respond to the first one – to send the report. That way, it’s a follow-up, but a follow-up with helpful, free information.
Also, put the report on your site as a free download. That way, if prospects do click through, they’ll see it.
In answer to “Do you have any additional tips for hooking people on the initial e-mail?”
The one I outline in the SEO writing ebook worked well for me. The only other thing I’d advise is to target niche markets (as you’ve already started to do), and to continue marketing.
As I’ve stated many times, there’s a lot that goes into deciphering why one person can get 5 responses from 50 emails, while another receives 2 from 150, eg, rates, writing samples, what was said in the initial email, services offered, etc.
But more often than not, it’s not YOU; it could be that the people you touched don’t need your services, or they already have an SEO copywriter, or they’re in a bad mood when they open your email, or . . . a hundred and one other reasons.
Another thing I want to say about this to all new online writers is, if you’re new to business, you may not realize how easy starting an SEO writing business is – and how fortunate you are to be able to send out emails and get a response – and start getting jobs. Sometimes it’s days; other times it’s a few weeks.
BUT this is incredible!
Even the two responses this new SEO writer got – considering that it probably only took her a few hours to send these emails out and she’s already got two candidates on the hook and could ostensibly make money within the next couple of weeks – THAT’S INCREDIBLE.
I’ve started many businesses and let me tell you, I’m still amazed at how easy this one was to start – and grow.
So my overall message is, don’t get spoiled. Don’t think, “Oh, I sent out 100 emails and only got one response.” That’s a 1% response rate. FYI, the average response rate for direct mail is 1-2%. For email, it’s significantly higher, ie:
Average Open Rate: 23.3%
Average Click-Through Rate: 5.9%
Average Delivery Rate: 96.0%
Source: EmailStatCenter.com (June 2011)
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Success is always in the numbers. Even though you may “only” be getting two responses from 150 emails, then just say to yourself, “Ok, I have to send out 300 to get 4; 450 to get 6; 600 to get 8; etc.”
Is Hard Work Necessary?
This is doing what it takes to build your business, which brings me to my last piece of advice, which is . . . when you’re doing everything “right” and things still aren’t happening the way you want/expect them to, then there’s only one way to make sure that it will – and that is to work harder.
Don’t get discouraged, don’t compare your successes and (perceived) failures to anyone else’s. Dig in and work harder.
I subscribe to Bob Bly’s newsletter. He’s a millionaire copywriter by the way. A newsletter he recently sent out had the title, “Is Hard Work Necessary?” In it he wrote:
When your business or job isn’t going the way you want it to, buckle down and redouble your efforts.
You’ll be more productive, and at least some of your extra efforts will be rewarded – and hard work will have saved the day.
Goethe wrote, “Whoever strenuously endeavors, him we can rescue.”
Combine hard work with persistence – never giving up – and the odds of you getting the result you want increase geometrically.
I’ve always believed this, and it’s the best advice I can give to anyone who may be frustrated, impatient, discouraged, etc. with their SEO writing career (or any career).
Until next week!
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