In this episode, T&F's senior copywriter, Ryan Schwartz walks us through how to Create An Automated Referral Network.
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Ryan Schwartz –
So today's agenda, we're going to talk about two key trends that I see as driving growth as a marketing freelancer and two corresponding practical steps you can take for bigger scopes and better clients. And I am happy to hang around for some Q&A. If you guys got some Qs that need some is As.
So trend number one last cooks in the kitchen.
I know that picture is in the kitchen, but I love green velvet chairs and how to use the picture. I won't apologize.
But my one and only rhetorical question for today – would an integrator, project manager, marketing director or CMO rather have for contractors or freelancers at $10,000 each or two at $20,000 each? Or one at $50k? Managerial bandwidth has a massive an exponentially variable cost.
In most cases a CMO, a marketing director, an integrator is going to rather work with less people at higher budgets per person.
So this means something for us freelancers, right?
What's this meaning?
It means there's going to be less cooks of the kitchen, or at least that's where leaders and integrators are preferring to move towards.
So they want to work with fewer team members, fewer freelancers, with both wider and deeper skill sets – rather than managing a bunch of specialists which can create greater management costs, greater potential for breakdowns, greater bottlenecks through human variability.
Further a few of the things I've noticed, the handoff and chill approach is dying.
They want these freelancers and contractors to stay for the full meal, not just deliver an asset and then disappear into the cold, dark night.
Project managers would rather have a fractional team member or a retainer or a freelancer who can integrate with their core team for the duration of a mandate or a project.
Whether that project is a launch, a funnel builder website, a wedding album, that's your space, and they want to keep them around, right?
Not only is there a cost to managerial bandwidth of having a lot of cooks in the kitchen, there's a managerial cost and an H.R. Cost to reassuming the search for more talent to bring in right.
So they want deeper scopes, longer mandates, and they want to keep you around.
This is good news if you're willing and able to align with this trend.
So the big reason why – a project needs evolve, right?
If you're a copywriter, your deliverable is in a google doc. If you're a designer, your deliverable isn't a PNG. It's an outcome. Right. And the only way to actually own that outcome, take ownership of that outcome.
And that's what you're really getting paid for. Taking ownership over an outcome is to be present until that outcome is produced. Whether that is to launch the website, the funnel optimization or a wedding album. Your job is to make sure that outcome gets produced, not just hand over a Google Doc or a PNG.
So the action step is resolve to create offers, packages and price points where you can integrate into their team for the duration of the project. Meaning attend their stand ups, create project based stand ups with the relevant stakeholders and people for that project and bake overseeing and supporting implementation and optimization into your scopes.
What this means for you as a freelancer own an outcome not an asset, right?
On the success of a launch, not the hand off of the Google Docs sales page. Understand that no single asset exists in a silo, right? It exists within an interdependent convergent ecosystem. And what this also means ultimately is less clients for you and less contractors for them by taking on fuller and more complete scopes.
Now, I never understood people who are trying to get 10, 15, 20 clients versus five, six, seven incredible ones that you could go deep and do incredible work with. And maybe this is just personal preference because I'm kind of an introverted Canadian who just wants to hide it in my copy cave, but like I don't even think I can remember ten people's names simultaneously. Let alone have ten ongoing client relationships.
So this is really going to be a sound strategy for freelancers who would prefer to go deep, achieve outcomes, maintain outcomes, build upon them, and deeply partner with three, four or five incredible clients rather than constantly hunting and trying to find new ones and building relationships from scratch.
So let's go deeper into this topic here of how no single asset exists in Silo, because I think it's one that a lot of freelancers don't get until they get.
Someone might hire you or want to hire you to write a long form sales page.
And an inexperienced freelancer may take that task right kind of how a chef would take a task at a restaurant, right? This is the one thing I got to cook.
But the thing is, is that doesn't exist within a silo. Within that long form sales page, there is audience research and the synthesis of that into a workable document or a workable system.
There's likely an offer that requires a degree of optimization to make sure that it's ready to be presented to the market. There is the live chat conversion playbook. If you have a live chat running on that page, what's that first message saying? Right, that pops up on the bottom of the screen? What is the chat flow? Who's managing that? Who is overseeing those chats?
There's a lead scoring rule set up, right? If someone lands on that sales page and has a session for more than 2 minutes, do we leads for that onto our CRM? If so, by what score? What do we do when people cross that lead score threshold? These are things to think about within the ecosystem, right?
There are the sales emails, right? What automation and segmentation strategies are we running those with?
They're the ads. They're the fulfillment emails or the abandoned cart sequences are retargeting ads, and it goes on and on and on and on.
Now, I'm not saying you have to be able to do every single piece within that ecosystem, but why wouldn't you take ownership over as many of those elements that affect and impact the one that you are responsible for taking on?
Right. So there's no such thing as being hired to write a long form sales page without having a deep, intimate understanding of the audience and taking the steps to get there without having a stellar offer that you feel confident will perform in the market and without having the right sequences in place to make sure that the traffic that's landing on that page is primed and empowered to read it.
And those who didn't buy there have the opportunities and the follow up opportunities to actually close a little later on.
So nothing exists in a silo.
And some questions for you to reflect on as you maybe reconsider what your offer is and what you're being hired for is what is the outcome, not the asset that you're being hired to support?
Right? No one gets hired to write email copy. They get hired to support a successful launch.
How can you take greater ownership of that outcome? And what would your optimized offer look like in scope And the support you're providing within the duration of your mandate, access to you within iT? Maintenance, optimization, all these things what would your optimized offer look like in the highest level, and how can you consult on strategize, advise on the lead that outcome versus just having that task taker mentality – who is there to receive marketing tasks and check it off, right? How can you actually take a strategic and leadership position on the outcome that you're being hired to be an expert on?
So here's the strategy I'm going to propose. I call it outcome based upskilling. Now there are no shortage of things one can learn in the marketing space in upskilling your craft as a freelancer.
But what I would encourage you to do is to do it strategically based on what you see your ideal offer or ideal scope being right.
So what tangential – I think I'm getting that word right, tangential to tough one. What tangential pieces of the outcome can you get better at or find a partner on? Right. So whether that's doing funnel automation, even if that's doing enrollment calls or building out the pipelines within the CRM even if you're writing webinar copy, right – For the webinar itself, can you get really good at doing the Zoom integrations? Can you get really good at doing the post webinar segmentation of who attended, who didn't, and how to follow up with them?Once again, that would be owning the outcome, not just writing a webinar right?
So outcome based upskilling – where do you still have some skill gaps based on the outcome that you are poised to create?And how could you fill those gaps.
So that's the first strategy to keep in mind. That's something to draw on as it corresponds to what your ideal offer is.
Trend number two, and this is the one that, you know, outcome based upskilling is something that you're going to plan to do over the next two months, six months, a year.
It's going to be something you're constantly optimizing. Trend number two is something that I think you could take away some immediately practical insights on. And we're going to give you some practical work at the end of this.
But how are high end clients hiring right now?
Of course, there's no one size fits all but I'm going to give you my own personal experience based on about $75,000 in referred contracts in January and February alone.
So where are these big dollar deals being made?
I'm not seeing them being made over Google. I'm not seeing them made over people's contact forms on their website. I'm not seeing them being made on crowdsourcing posts on Facebook or LinkedIn, and not so much in cold DMs or pitches. Not to be confused with one set aren't cold. But high value freelance deals are being made via relationships, warm intros and referrals so if someone wants to hire a copywriter to own the success of their launch or their evergreen funnel, they're primarily asking folks in their mastermind, trusted peers, their own coaches, their own partners, their own affiliates.
They're asking other members of their team. Right? They're asking the media buyers if they know anyone. They're asking the designers, the automation specialists, the marketing tech. They're asking their past or current freelancers. Right. If they know anyone to pass the torch. And we're going to talk about that in a moment. They're asking paid communities they're part of and they're asking other industry friends they trust.
These are really the places where these deals are being made more and more, at least the very high value ones in my experience. So the question for you is, have you set yourself up to be mentioned in these scenarios? And if not, can we resolve to create what I call an automated referral network where you become the automatic knee-jerk referral?
When someone asks, hey, do you know a copyright lawyer who can do X? Do you know a marketing automation specialist or a media buyer or an accountant or a photographer or a designer who can do X right? How do you set yourself up to be that knee-jerk referral and how do you do that strategically versus leaving it all to chance?
So how do you cultivate an automated referral network?
These are the five ways I did it quite accidentally and then had to reverse engineer how I built my career you know, on the other side of it.
But past and current clients, right, have postmortems with your current clients. Don't just start a project and with that would be following up to evaluate the success of it, see what needs to be done, see what could have been done better if things went superbly well. That is a place to ask for referrals to create case studies.
Other copywriters, other freelancers. So this is what I call the torch path succession plan. So around 20. Yeah, 2017 was really when I was at the peak, peak, peak of my copywriting business, just booked solid for six months at a time, launch after launch after launch and just really had a world class roster of clients that I loved.
And then, and then Sue got pregnant. That's really the blunt way of saying it. And I knew that my productive work hours were going to be drastically slashed and there was no way I could continue having that load that I had. Right.
So that was an opportunity for the torch pass. What other copywriters did I trust enough to hand off these clients that I loved and trusted and wanted them to have the best possible experience right.
And naturally, there were a few people who I was cultivated within their automated referral network, right? They were students of mine. They were past collaborators who were just constantly keep me up to date on what they were doing. They would send copy, they were working on things that were working and essentially just made them very easy to refer out.
You know, at a time when I didn't have a lot of mental or emotional bandwidth to make that evaluation myself. So they stayed top of mind in ways that you can certainly stay top of mind. Other aspects of your automated automated referral network collaborators and other team members on each project, right?
So if you're a copywriter, get to know the designer, get to know the integrator, get to know the automation team, the MarTech team, the development team, the media buyers, those running the ads, build relationships with everyone who is touching pieces of your project with everyone who you are actually in collaboration with.
Because remember, nothing exists in the silo and it's simple – come onto your project and simply have those one on one conversations asking how you can make their job easier. If you are writing, copy that ultimately needs to be designed and all copy I think needs to ultimately be designed to some degree. How that's how with the designer, right?
How would they appreciate a hand-off? How would they appreciate collaborating to make sure things get translated well onto the page? These relationships become so valuable. When I think about my own relationship with traffic and funnels. This is how I met Chris Evans. Like eight years ago now, we were working on launches and funnels together right? And these relationships come when you're deep in the trenches working towards common goals and then make the time to reach out to the other people collaborating on it.
The incredible CMO at Traffic and Funnels, Dane. That's how I met him. Right?
And you build these relationships and this trust by getting to know the folks that you're going to battle with on these projects.
So this is probably the easiest way for you to cultivate your automated referral network is go deep and go deep in your collaborations with other people on the teams that you're plugging into.
And of course stay top of mind by keeping your own mentors, coaches course creators and the with your progress and wins. That's what made it super easy for me to do a torch pass, right? I didn't have to think and try to remember who is doing what folks just kept me posted on their own wins and their own successes.
And it became so easy to just make that connection when new opportunities were coming out.
Offer to speak present share for your clients, masterminds or courses. Right. So get in the habit of speaking to paid forums, right?
So if you help launch a client's membership site, right? Can you make the offer? Right? Can I teach on this topic to that membership to that mastermind where, you know, you're speaking to other people who will have that need and ultimately people who've already invested, right?
This is an incredible place to build that automated referral network.
Then bonus action step – This is the very first thing I ask anyone I mentor. I was going to say mentee I don't ask people to mentee people I mentor to do as a freelancer. Right? Like Create your own dream ten. The dream ten clients that you would absolutely love to work with.
Right? Who inspires you? What brands do you consume? What missions do you fully align with? And it's worth taking a moment to know if you could work with those ten people. If this was your roster of you and deep with who would they be? Right. And then don't keep it with keep it to yourself. Let that be known to every other freelancer you engage with inside this group, inside any memberships or mentorship apps or programs you're part of, and you dramatically increase your chance of getting that intro.
Being the person that someone forms that link when that opportunity arises. So that's going to be the invitation today, as silly as it might sound to some and how impossible it might seem to some, create that dream ten because if you don't know it, the people who would ultimately refer you to that person certainly don't know it. So take that 20 minutes, create your dream ten and then bonus points – the ten on your list, see how you can maybe reach out.
Right? Do they have a product of course, or a program you already use? If so, be active in their communities. People notice these things, right? People notice when others are active actively engaging in their content whether that's on the side or on the free side, names start to pop up and show up in awareness.
Leave bad ass review-If it's an e-commerce product that shows off your copywriting skill, write the most epic testimonial they've ever seen unsolicited, right? If you use a program or a product for a company that you love, write a badass testimonial and send that to their team.
I guarantee you you're going to get on their radar, connect and build relationships the offering could be a case study, similar vein there, and then note and make the note of what gaps they may have in their marketing or copy that you can help fill and I promise you, pretty much every company has gaps and they know they have gaps.
As a copywriter myself, I know I have gaps, right? I almost cringe when people hit my new subscriber initiation sequence that I know I haven't updated in over a year and probably has at least one broken link in there. But it's become too low priority for me to dove in and do it on top of everything else. So I know I have gaps right and most people aren't going to be insulted if you point out their gaps and offer genuinely wants a relationship and trust has already been established if you offer to jam on just what you've noticed and where you might be able to help.
Right? So these are genuine ways of building relationships with those who may be on your top ten and how you can possibly come in and offer to work with them in some genuine way.