Clearing your own path to freelance copywriting profits

Interview with Pam Foster on her niche copywriting experienceToday we feature an interview with Pam Foster, author of The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits and one of the expert instructors of the Copywriting Business Boot Camp.

As a highly successful freelance SEO copywriter focusing on the pet industry, Pam has long been a proponent of niche copywriting, and teaches one of the Boot Camp training modules on niche market specialization.

In this interview, Pam discusses her experience with niche copywriting, as well as why she made the move from her remarkable freelance pet copywriting business to her present in-house position.

Why do you tell freelance copywriters they should absolutely market themselves in a niche industry?

In my experience, being in a niche market brings three main benefits to your copywriting business:

1) You know exactly who you’re marketing yourself to. It’s much easier to create a prospects list, join a trade association where you can offer your services, network in LinkedIn Groups, and so on.

2) You set yourself apart from other writers and you get FOUND more often. For instance, if you’re the only SEO copywriter at a trade association conference, you can just bet you’ll get inquiries from all kinds of marketers attending the show. Plus when your website is optimized for THAT industry, you’re likely to be the only one (or among just a few) who show up on page 1 in Google search results. This means more prospects will find you!

3) Clients are so happy and relieved to find a copywriter who understands their business. You get their audience and their world, and this is worth gold to a marketer because they don’t have to waste time training you on their industry. Therefore, you can charge more for this value.

Is there enough opportunity for work if you focus on one niche market?

If you choose a niche that’s hot and thriving, such as software, senior care, gaming, sports, healthcare and many others – you’ll find clients that serve consumers, other businesses, possibly the government, and other markets within the niche. Plus most industries have a wide variety of retailers, suppliers, service companies, franchises, etc. Hot markets are FULL of opportunity!

And think about it. How many clients can you manage at any one time, or even in a year? Maybe a dozen? You don’t need hundreds of clients to run a successful and satisfying business. You just need a few.

Doesn’t it get boring to work in just one industry?

In my experience, no way.

Each client has his or her own products, services, market, mission, position and value within their industry. Plus each client has different needs/requests for you. One client could ask you to write blog posts twice a month, discussing the latest technology advances in their field. Another could have you optimizing their retail/e-commerce pages. Yet another client might need a series of emails and landing pages… or a whole new website. It’s never dull!

What’s been the most powerful way to attract new clients in your niche?

I have three ways that have worked fairly evenly.

The first is my own site. Using the Certified SEO Copywriting skills I developed through Successworks, I was able to optimize my niche-focused website, which includes about a dozen pages that talk about the services I offer my niche market.

Second, I’ve been blogging for three years, providing tips for marketers in my niche market. These blog posts have helped prospects find me in search engines.

And third, I’ve worked hard to connect with lots of industry professionals on LinkedIn and via trade associations. Those connections have paid off through referrals and work.

What’s the most surprising outcome of your niche focus?

Getting hired by one of my clients for a new full-time position they just created! (This just happened in January.)

I had been working with them as a freelancer for about three years, and last summer they told me they have enough content-marketing/writing work for someone to manage full-time. They were looking for a writer to join their staff.

When they mentioned this to me, I said, “I’m interested!” This surprised them and made them happy because I know their business inside and out. So we talked about it for a couple months and then it all worked out. I started in January this year and I’m thrilled!

Most copywriters dream about making the transition from their in-house position to working for themselves full-time. What motivated you to move from a successful freelance copywriting business to an in-house gig?

After about six years of being a freelancer, I was feeling too isolated. Even though I really appreciate writing in a quiet home office, I was yearning to be part of a team again. Ultimately I do enjoy collaborative problem solving and building something together… and while I was able to find that collaborative satisfaction with my clients, I was a bit envious of people who are part of a true working family.

So, when the opportunity came up recently to consider joining one of my pet-industry clients in a permanent content-management role, I jumped at it. Now I get to telecommute from my home office and do my best work, but I’m also part of an incredible team — we’re all working together to grow and thrive.

Finally, I’m keeping some of my freelance clients and doing that work on the side, with my employer’s permission. It’s the best of both worlds for me!

What has been the most challenging aspect of moving from freelance to in-house SEO copywriting?

My new job has plopped me knee-deep into LOCAL SEO and the SOCIAL aspects of search – two things I hadn’t been as concerned with before. So now I’m jumping in to learn these things as well.

Thanks to Heather’s ongoing certification calls and other resources, I’ve been able to get up to speed fairly quickly.  It’s a blast to learn new aspects of online copywriting. We never stop learning, which is OK with me!

More about Pam Foster

Pam Foster is the Managing Editor of Content & Communications at LifeLearn, Inc. She is the author of The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits, and one of the first freelance copywriters to become certified in SEO through SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program. As a Certified SEO Copywriter and Sr. Content Marketing Consultant, Pam operated via ContentClear Marketing and still runs PetCopywriter.com. You are welcome to network with Pam via LinkedIn.

photo thanks to Mosman Council

Discover how to run a thriving freelance copywriting business! Sign up for the Copywriting Business Boot Camp and learn more from Pam Foster and 11 other business-building experts! Hurry – classes start Monday, April 1st!