Where’s the Demand?

I just got back from speaking at the Copywriters Bootcamp in Florida. What a wonderful event. (Not to mention wonderful weather!) I got a chance to chat one-on-one with dozens of business writers and copywriters. Some, old pros who have been in the game for years. Others, talented people who are just starting out. I met one copywriter who has had tremendous success in the past couple of years targeting and writing for Microsoft Partner companies. Another writer I had coffee with writes for the gardening industry – a niche I wouldn’t have guessed was viable. She does very well. What those writers have in common is that they have “found the demand”. In other words, they have discovered a niche or target market where there are plenty of companies that need and, most importantly, want copywriting help. Legendary sales trainer Stephan Schiffman once said in one of his books that if you’re targeting a niche where there is a strong demand for your services, you can overcome just about any obstacle and succeed. But – and this is a big but – if you target companies for which there is little or no demand, then you’ll just be banging your head against the wall. You might as well be selling penguin traps in Nunavut. (As you may know, there are no penguins in Nunavut.) I can’t think of anything more frustrating, discouraging, disheartening, maddening than putting a lot of effort into a particular niche only to find out months or even years later that it’s a crappy market. So how do you determine, in advance, if there’s going...

When should you give up?

Last week, I had an interesting chat with a woman who is relatively new to freelance copywriting. She told me about how she launched her business after a ten year career in PR and communications. “Frankly, my corporate job was going nowhere fast,” she said. “So I decided to jump into freelancing with both feet.” She quit her job. Ordered some business cards and letterhead. Set up a website. And began an aggressive outreach program to land what she hoped would be the first of many clients. She contacted everyone in her network to announce the news about her new business – former colleagues, professional acquaintances, friends, family. “Even our lawn care company got letter from me,” she joked. Then she wrote and published a short special report related to her specialty (which is, coincidently, writing special reports) and mailed it out, with a cover letter, to a targeted list of prospects. But she didn’t stop there. Soon after that mailing, she began a daily program of contacting prospects by email and other means and introducing herself and her freelance services to them. Over a period of three months or so, she reached out to more than 400 prospects this way. And if that weren’t enough, she also became active on two LinkedIn groups where she was able to connect with more prospects, as well as a few potential referral sources. After four months of this kind of hard work and determination, you’d think she would have attracted all the clients she could handle. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, although she had several “hot prospects” in the...