GUEST POST: Why 2008 Has Been a Good Year For Me, and How Every Year Can Be Good For You…

By Joseph Ratliff

There’s no doubt, it’s been a tough year for most businesses.

The economy sucks, and many business owners are feeling the pain at the register.

That’s precisely why it’s been a good year for me, because I know that businesses need my copywriting services now more than ever. Now, I’m a direct response marketing copywriter, so my writing has much to do with the success or failure of marketing campaigns.

With my role being so critical in a business’ success, I market my services to that point exactly.

But this post isn’t about me. It’s about you, and the opportunities you must recognize in this “state of the economy.” Here’s the key:

When I started to notice that the “reason why” clients were hiring me started to change, I simply needed to change my “reason why” to match that of my potential clients.

It’s called message-to-market matching, and it’s a skill you must master for the long, tough economy ahead or suffer the consequences.

So, how do you match how you’re marketing your copywriting services to your potential market?

You ask them. It really is that simple.

Simply interview the type of client you want to serve. Ask them about their business, talk to them as “business owner to business owner” and they’ll start to reveal to you the very problems that you need to be solving with your marketing so you can skyrocket your freelance copywriting business.

It really boils down to starting a conversation, and just talking naturally to your potential client. Don’t sell anything, don’t “try to do” anything. Just talk to them about their favorite person: them.

That’s the secret, the very simple secret, that has my 2008 ending very well. I want yours to as well…so…

Do you use any methods that are working/not working to gain clients? Why/why not?

Have you followed this strategy and asked your clients to tell you about their businesses? If so, what came out of it?

Are there any obstacles that if you overcame them, you feel your business would skyrocket? (Think in terms of how you interact with people, what types of objections you’re facing etc.)

Joseph Ratliff is a Lacey, WA-based internet business growth specialist, direct response copywriter, and editor of The Profitable Business Edge 2 blog. He has been writing copy for over 7 years, and coaching online (and offline) business owners for the last 3 years to increase profits with their marketing. He uses a special marketing methodology when he works with each of his clients that is guaranteed not to fail, or Joe keeps working with you until it does, for no additional fees. For all the details (and to check out his blog), visit and click on “Coaching Services.”

13 replies
  1. Craig
    Craig says:

    Great post, Joseph. I think your post highlights one of the true advantages of being a freelancer, solo-preneur, micro-business – whatever you want to call it. If I need to change my marketing tactics, business message or target market, I have a quick meeting with the:
    Marketing Manager (me)
    Operations Director (me)
    Vice President (me)
    CEO (you guessed it… (Me)

    And make the changes. Not having to wait on a committee or wade through syrupy levels of bureaucracy to implement minor (or major) changes gives us a level of agility that agencies and firms can’t hope to attain.

    This advantage is there during good economic times. During the bad – if done properly – can really put you ahead of your competitors. And fast.

  2. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:


    You’re absolutely right…we have the flexibility to simply change our marketing message, without the red tape associated with it in larger companies.

    We can move, and fast 🙂

    Thanks for the contribution.

    Joseph Ratliff

  3. peter
    peter says:

    Yes, thanks Joseph (and Craig!),

    Don’t be fooled by what appears to be the simplicity of what Joseph is saying here. A lot of lessons here, not the least of which is that when you focus on the needs of the client (benefits) as opposed to what YOU offer (writing services), you’re going to get a more receptive audience. Asking a client what they want to accomplish, what keeps them up at night, and where they envision taking their business opens the door to being a partner, not just a vendor…

    It also underscores that, not only DON’T you have to be a slick salesperson (with all the baggage that accompanies the term) to succeed in this business, but that doing so will ensure you DON’T succeed. Rather, you’re simply matching your skills to a client’s needs (which is what true “sales” in ANY arena has always been about, despite the bad press to the contrary, earned by the bad players), and the client-focused conversation you have with them uncovers how you can indeed mesh the two.

    And great point, Craig. As solo practitioners, we can be much more nimble than a big company can, and can quickly evolve our approach as circumstances dictate.


  4. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:

    Yeah PB, it’s most important to be viewed by your potential client as a “partner” rather than a copywriter.

    Then, that opens doors to repeat business as well…easily…as you become a “part of their business” rather than just a “one-shot” copywriter.

  5. Steve Rainwater
    Steve Rainwater says:

    Partner is a term I really like. I frequently use it, but I always have it in mind both in determining the type of client I target, and how I approach them in the development of our relationship.

    I had a meeting last week with a firm launching a new product which has been 8 years in development and is very cutting edge in their industry. Someone else had referred me to them as a person who could write an article or two and help them get some media exposure. When the meeting started (with a director level executive involved with the product development), I think I was respectfully viewed as a “writing resource.” After spending a good portion of the one hour meeting asking – and listening, regarding the product, their relationship with it, their proposed direction/goals, where it is in development, etc…and asking about their overall business (and industry in which I have not previously worked), I did not come away with an assignment for said articles. Instead, we are having a follow up meeting with the VP of sales and mktg. to discuss broader strategy and determine some priorities for how to proceed. I’m reasonably sure I’ve begun the process to become a “partner” in their overall marketing efforts. A lot more fun, and more likely to provide a stream of work over time.


  6. peter
    peter says:

    Great stuff, Steve,

    It’s a great feeling to go from being perceived as the “help” to something a lot more valuable. Just underscores what clients are looking for and what they’ll reward. I’ve got a client like that now, a guy with several businesses. Right now, ostensibly, I’m doing a brochure for a new business of his right now, but he truly wants to know what I think about a lot of side issues and I can see, very clearly, how much value I’m bringing to him – AND his business. That’s when the business can’t really get fun – and profitable. Hope it turns into a big one for you. Just make sure you’re proceeding with clear objectives and with roles and FEES well defined.


  7. Michael Kurko
    Michael Kurko says:

    This is a great reminder on the importance of benefits (what the client needs) over features (what we tell clients we can do for them).

    I made this mistake in one of my earliest attempts with copywriting. My client wasn’t really clear on what she wanted, so I took it upon myself to decide for her. I was so eager to help her business succeed, I drafted a whole marking plan in my head. After about a month of back-and-forth and failed drafts, we both walked away frustrated: me with a kill fee and her without any workable copy.

    This experience taught me a valuable lesson: listen, listen and then listen some more. Even if you think you know what the client needs, always find out what they want first. It takes asking the right questions and sometimes a little prodding, but at least you’ll give them what they really want. You can use your expertise to accomplish their goals (not yours). One project won’t accomplish all of their marketing needs. Even longer campaigns require more listening and reevaluation.

    Thanks, Joesph, for reminding me that my best tools as a copywriter are my ears and not my mouth.


  8. Joseph Ratliff
    Joseph Ratliff says:


    Excellent assessment.

    Your best tools are your ears, and your pen/word processor 🙂

    But one more thing…

    It’s also the “tone” you set for yourself when you are talking to potential clients…be a business owner when talking with them…they don’t get to talk shop that much. When you talk to them business owner to business owner…they respond much more differently than if you approach as a marketer, or a copywriter “selling them something”.

    Great comments…let’s have some more!

    I love this stuff.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] a match. Match what you’re offering to what your clients need. Don’t know what they need? Ask […]

  2. […] Bowerman has a guest article called: Why 2008 Has Been a Good Year For Me, and How Every Year Can Be Good For You… – read it closely, it’s about starting a conversation with potential clients. How to you […]

  3. […] Peter Bowerman, author of several books including one of my favorites… The Well Fed Writer … actually invited me to write a guest post over on The Well Fed Writer Blog. […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image