This is a continuation of our guide to starting a 6-figure freelance copywriting business.
Click here to go back to the primary hub for this guide and get access to all the content.
OK, so you’ve got a professional freelance website and you’ve got the business systems to work as a pro.
The prior steps alone will help you generate a consistent pipeline of leads.
You only need a handful of samples and a good outreach process to hit $10,000 months.
However, what we eventually want to do is remove a lot of the manual actions.
We want to passively attract leads and reduce the amount of time we need to send cold outreach to clients.
And the best way to do that is through an effective content marketing strategy.
A well oiled content machine will help you generate traffic and leads on autopilot.
It also focuses on your strength as a copywriter - writing.
However, it’s not as simple as writing any old thing and throwing it up on your website.
In this section, I’m going to cover one of the best approaches to generating passive leads and keeping them engaged so you’re the first person they think of when they need a service provider.
The Hub-and-Spoke content model funnel
The Hub-and-Spoke model goes by a few different names.
- The Hub-and-Spoke model
- Content hubs
- Content groups
- Topic clusters
They’re all the same, really.
But the concept is the same.
What it aims to achieve is to keep you on track and producing content around a single topic your audience will find useful.
Which will speed the time it takes for you to be seen as an expert and get the reach you need.
A lot of freelancers don’t do this well. They write about what they think is interesting or what they want to cover.
Which doesn’t work to pull in people with a pain point they want solving.
Hub-and-Spoke stops the SaaS email copywriter from writing a piece of copy that’s focused on an unrelated topic like ecommerce product descriptions.
By keeping your content focused you’re going to attract your ideal customers to multiple pieces of content. And if done well, you’re going to attract those ideal clients at different stages of the customer journey.
That means you’ll get your name known by those who are just starting to research the best ways to implement your service, and you’ll attract those who are looking for the best service providers to hire right now.
Let’s go back to a real life example and run with our SaaS content marketer.
The core piece of content might be something like…
“The definitive guide to effective content marketing for early stage SaaS brands”.
That’s your hub.
Within that large piece, there will be certain things that need to be explained in more detail. Things that perhaps need a spin off explanation that’s not entirely related to your hub’s key message.
So, you’ll then produce Spoke pieces of content to explain those ideas and concepts in full.
An example in our SaaS content marketing piece might be around headlines.
In your key guide you might explain how headlines are a key part in getting people to click through to your content. And how a good headline can make or break an article.
You may also offer some guidance, but it’s not the place to list out 100 proven SaaS content headlines.
But that would be a great Spoke piece of content, where you could do a deeper dive that’s 100% focused on headlines.
You could create a supplementary piece that offers more detail and more actionable advice on headlines.
Perhaps something like…
- 101 SaaS content headlines proven to increase rankings and CTR
- How to find the perfect headline for your next piece of content
- How SaaS brands can use Intercom to find high impact article headlines
Notice how the hub is more general, but the spokes are specific.
Doing this allows you to cover everything in detail but use the hub as almost a table of contents. Which helps you cover all bases to be seen as an expert.
By linking the entire Hub-and-Spoke articles together through hyperlinks, you’re basically telling Google that these things are all related. This way they can all benefit from one another in terms of ranking.
Create a Hub-and-Spoke content model
Once again, we’re going to use SEMrush for this.
The first step is to brainstorm top level ideas about what it is you want to write about.
So, for the SaaS content marketer that could be things like…
- Content marketing
- Article writing
- SaaS marketing
Or other similar ideas.
We’re looking for short descriptions that are very general. If you’re stuck on ideas, use Google’s autocomplete or their “people also searched for” to get some ideas.
Again, we want top level searches here.
Keep the ideas general.
“SaaS content marketing” is good. “How to write articles that rank for SaaS brands” is not.
The hub article’s idea should be more general and have a higher volume of searches for it.
When you’ve got a few ideas you think could work, log back into your SEMrush account.
This time, we’re first heading to “SEO” in the left hand nav and then Keyword Research.
Type the keyword you’re thinking of using for your hub article in and hit search.
In the below, we ran with “content marketing”.
You’ll see that the volume of monthly searches here is 14.8k searches.
Which is OK.
Personally, I’d prefer a little more volume, especially for something that is relevant to so many businesses, but we’ll run with it for this.
There is no magic number for the search volume. It really depends on the size of the audience you’re targeting.
However, with the hub piece we just want something that’s not too narrow. If it has anything less than 999 monthly searches, it is definitely not a hub piece.
Run searches for all of your top level ideas and choose the one that you’re happy with.
Again, just make sure that it’s general and has high search, but is also very much related to your industry and the pain points they face.
If you’re really struggling, use the recommendations in SEMrush to come up with more ideas.
When you’ve got your best idea, head to the content marketing tab within SEMrush again and click on topic research.
Type in the topic you settled on for your search and look at the readouts. Make sure to leave it on the “cards” readout.
What you’ll find here are a bunch of ideas with general search traffic.
You can use these in two ways.
The first is to refine your core topic idea.
For example, the Google Analytics card has 1,000,000 monthly searches.
You could use that to refine the hub idea to something like “How SaaS brands should use Google Analytics for content marketing”.
Or, you could use that as a subheading within the core piece and a supporting, more detailed supplementary article.
And right there, you’ve got your first spoke piece for the hub of SaaS content marketing.
If we follow that approach and pull spoke ideas from the above cards alone, then we could end up with…
A hub piece focused on SaaS content marketing from a high level. Within that piece we have subsections that look at…
- Google analytics
- Landing pages
- Measuring ROI
- Social promotion
Then, to help offer more clarity, we build spoke pieces that could follow the below…
These 2 simple reports in SEMrush can give you everything you need to get a really detailed Hub-and-Spoke model.
Again, though. This is not a one-time thing.
If you want to be taken seriously as a freelance copywriter and business owner, you’re going to need to do this sort of analysis and writing monthly.
You’ll need to keep your own blog up-to-date and full of content.
You’ll need to show people that you can do what they’re paying you to do.
This process is basically a service you could sell to clients.
So, use it for yourself and continue to refine the process until it works every single time for you. During that process, start selling it to your ideal clients to get more initial revenue in and happy client testimonials to leverage.
Turning one time visitors into leads
Traffic is one thing, but the harsh truth about online business is that 99% of the people who hit your site today probably aren’t ready to hire you or buy anything.
You need to build the relationship with people and keep yourself top of mind for when they are ready to work with you.
And doing that through content alone is near impossible as you have zero control over when they’ll come back to your site - even if you use a great Hub-and-Spoke model.
Your topic cluster of content might cover all the bases, but you can’t be sure that your ideal clients are going to find your content through Google or that they’re going to click on your result if they do.
You need to do more. (I told you running a 6-figure freelance copywriting business wasn’t easy!)
What you need to do is capture email addresses and continue to nurture those relationships through an email newsletter.
This way you can continue to hold on to the interest the people who found your content had in solving that problem, and build yourself up as the most trustworthy, logical service provider for them.
Now, I’ve run countless campaigns at this point and there are, in my experience, only two really effective ways to generate a good number of email subscribers.
- Content upgrades on your most trafficked content
- Specific pages you direct people to that are directly related to getting their email address
I know a lot of people use general lead magnets across their site, but I find these to convert at a far lower rate.
It’s much easier to find something that would make the article the person is reading…
- Easier to action
- Easier to read/understand
- Cheaper to follow
Or some other such method of harder, better, faster, stronger.
Some of my favourites that I often use are…
- Adding templates to help people get the most out of the content and easily action it.
- Simple checklists to help users action the process themselves.
- PDFs of very long content (like this piece) so people can read at their own leisure.
And the tool I’ve found the most effective at helping me action these is OptinMonster.
OptinMonster is a great tool for generating email leads because it allows for really detailed personalisation.
For example, you can…
- Create popups that only show on certain pages (making the whole targeted content thing super easy).
- Create offers based on user behaviour (so repeat visitors see something different than first time visitors).
- Sync with all major email services.
- Create awesome in line opt-ins so it’s less intrusive.
And so much more.
For now though, let’s run though how to set up a very basic content upgrade.
To get the “MVP” or minimum viable product offer up, here’s what I recommend for that first piece of awesome content:
Step 1 - Look at the major actionable steps you want the user to take for this.
Step 2 - Create a simple checklist to getting this done in Canva (example listed below from one of my old offers)
Step 3 - Use this as your content upgrade
OK, so here’s an example of one that I used to great effect on this article about brevity in writing well.
Simple (and a little rough, but hey, I’m no designer), but it details the major steps. Took me maybe 15 minutes to create it and it’s helped me generate a tonne of email subs.
When you have everything created, sign up and log in to OptinMonster. If you have your own email service provider, you can sync them here for easy management.
If not, read on for setting up my preferred choice or choose to collect leads for manual export in OptinMonster.
Once that’s done and you’re all logged in and signed up, head to WordPress’s Plugins page and search for OptinMonster.
Install the plugin and connect your account.
Once everything is set up, head to campaigns and click on “New Campaigns”.
When you’re on the right page you’ll see the below.
Choose the kind of pop up you’d most like to use.
For content upgrades, I find inline is the best option.
Scroll down and choose the template you most like the look of.
You can hit preview for a better view of it if you want.
My advice, keep it simple. Simple works.
Then you’ll have to name your campaign. Give it something super simple and obvious.
Often, I just use the name of the article / page I’m going to be publishing this on.
Then go through and edit the opt-in to display the message you want it to.
Again, keep it simple and clear over all else.
You’ll then be given the option to assign specific targeting.
I would recommend, for inline, that you leave this page blank and simply move on. We’re gonna manually choose where this shows up.
The next step is to link this with your email service provider.
You want to link it to the campaign that will send the lead the lead magnet they’ve opted in for automatically.
When that’s all done, head to analytics and include your GA code if you have one.
Then, head to the final page to confirm everything.
On this page, you want to make sure it’s active and published.
Head back to Wordpress and then OptinMonster plugin options.
You’ll see your new campaign there.
Click on Output Settings to see the below screen.
Activate it and head back to WordPress. Make sure that the opt-in is also activated in the WordPress plugin.
When it is, pull the shortcode from the plugin dashboard.
Read through your article and choose points where you think the lead magnet makes the most sense.
Basically, where people are gonna be thinking “Man, this sounds great. Wish I had X to make it easier to implement though”.
At those points, follow the below steps.
Click on the small + icon to add a new block. Search for “shortcode”, and add id where you want the popup to show.
Paste your OptinMonster shortcode over into the block that shows up.
And just like that, your popup will show exactly where you wanted it to.
Do that with every article and you’ll not just have content that ranks, but content that generates leads for your business.
I’ve tried dozens of tools for this. And OptinMonster is seriously the only one I would recommend.
If you’ve not yet tried it out, be sure to give them a try through the button below.
Creating specific landing pages for lead generation
The other great option for generating leads is to create singular landing pages that collect an email.
The tool I’ve used for years for this is Leadpages.
Earlier in this piece I recommended Elementor for people who want a good deal of flexibility when it comes to designing pages on WordPress.
Elementor is great for those starting out, and it’s a good jack of all trades. But as your business grows, you’re going to need more control over the tools you use.
And the only way to do that, is to move from jack of all trade tools that give you a good grounding and into the specialist tools that are specifically built to do one thing extremely well.
In short, Leadpages is a drag and drop landing page builder.
However, it’s specifically for landing and sales pages,meaning it offers far more functionality when it comes to creating pages that are meant to sell.
I use it for all of my sales focused pages and I couldn’t be happier (especially considering the price).
The ability to build pages by simply dragging and dropping elements to where I want them makes design easy (especially when coupled with Canva).
I can also run A/B tests on the page to see what’s working, integrate directly with Wordpress for easily linked pages, and sync this with my email service provider to collect and nurture the leads.
There are, generally speaking, 3 big landing page builder services most online biz owners use.
I’ve used all of them, and they’re all great. But Leadpages is by far the most affordable and has all the functionality you need to build specific pages that get people to buy from you.
Here’s how I’d recommend you use it.
Right now you’re gonna be generating content that brings in organic traffic. And the lead magnets will be great for generating leads.
But we also want to make sales, right?
So, this is what I’d do.
In short, I’d set up a page that’s specifically for people to book a time with you to talk about helping them overcome their problem.
I’d first set up another campaign in OptinMonster.
This one a popup that’s site wide and is targeted at people who have visited your site multiple times.
We want to target those who keep coming back to jump on the phone because they’re interested in what you have to say and will have some trust in you.
You’re gonna want to follow the same OptinMonster steps as before.
However, this time you’re gonna choose “popup” as the template kind.
Choose a simple design and, when it comes to editing, you’re gonna focus on 2 things.
The first is that this popup is not to collect an email, but to drive traffic to a particular page.
The second is that the message will be very different.
I often drive people to a “free training” where they can watch a video I put together with some free tips.
The CTA of that video is to jump on the phone for more free tips (which is where we use the negotiation script in chapter 2).
Your popup should read something like...
“You come here often. Wondered if you’ve seen my free training on how to achieve X?
P.S - It’s a completely free 20-minute training. If you like it, we can jump on a free 15-minute call where you’ll walk away with at least 1 actionable idea to action in your business!”
When it comes to display options, make sure that you choose “returning visitor” under personalisation.
With that all set up and set to active through the OptinMonster WordPress plugin, you now just need to build out the Leadpage.
One of my favorite things about LeadPages is that you can use their prebuilt templates to get a clean, effective page created in an afternoon.
You can sort through the landing page templates and organize them by popularity, age, and (my favorite) conversion rate.
This means that you can pick from designs that have been tried and tested over hundreds of thousands of different websites, industries, and purposes. So, instead of reinventing the wheel and *hoping* that you’ll build a great page from scratch…
...just pick one that works.
Here’s the best bit though. You can get access to the templates I’ve been using to do this for years.
Here’s the general template I use to get people to book a call.
- A basic headline explaining what the page is about
- A free training video that explains my process and how they can action it (a simple embed of a YouTube video I put together)
- A CTA to book a free call (which directly opens my Calendly booking page as an overlay)
- Social proof
- Close section and secondary CTA
Here’s how the above the fold section looks.
And if people click on the actual button, here’s what they see.
By adding value through the free training, I find I can get far more people wanting to talk to me.
It’s a little more effort up front for a much better result on the back end.
As your content marketing starts bringing in more people, you’ll find more leads you can direct to this free training which will mean more phone calls and clients for you.
Again, sign up for Leadpages through the button below.
And when you have, shoot me an email if you want access to the page templates I use most often.
Keeping your leads warm through email nurture
So when you’ve got content that’s ranking and driving organic traffic, and you’ve implemented a lead capture service or sale spage tool, you’re gonna see your email list swell.
You need a good email marketing service to stay in touch with those people and stay top of mind.
There are - literally - dozens of options for a good email service provider out there.
I’ve tried a lot of them and I can say this with 100% confidence.
Don’t use Mailchimp.
It’s the worst of the bunch.
It has extremely outdated features and isn’t going to help you make money. The reason people flock to it is because their marketing is good and they operate on a freemium plan.
However, if you’re collecting emails you should be making money so the freemium thing doesn’t exactly make sense
I recommend you use Drip for your email marketing.
It’s primarily marketed at eCommerce store owners, but I use it for everything from lead generation and nurture, to launch sales sequences, and even newsletters.
The reason I recommend it is because it has some of the easiest automation features I’ve ever used and extremely detailed segmentation.
The thing is built to handle a lot of segmentation. We’re talking things like…
- Sending an email when a user views a specific page
- Creating specific up-sell and cart abandonment sequences to users who view product pages but don’t end up buying
- Lead scoring so you can identify those who are most engaged and ready to be sold to
And so much more.
It’s simple, effective, and has a wonderful user experience. Not to mention the live chat assistance is packed with awesome team members who have yet to fail me when it comes to support.
It might not be geared specifically towards content creators like ConvertKit, but we’re not creating content for the sake of it.
We’re doing it to sell products and services to people over the internet.
Which, in effect, makes us all ecommerce vendors.
Drip, being built specifically to sell things online through email, is the best option for any of us and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Here are the two things I recommend you do when setting up a new Drip account.
Warming up brand new leads
The first, is a basic email welcome sequence.
Something to introduce your new subscribers to you and to explain to them what it is you do best.
Here’s a basic email welcome sequence you could use.
When you’ve signed up for Drip, head to the “Automation > Campaigns” tab.
Click “New Campaign” and give it a name that makes sense.
You’ll now have the option of choosing from templates or using your own.
This is up to you.
To get something out fast, use a blueprint. They’re actually pretty good.
However, in time you’ll want to experiment with your own work. I mean, that’s what being a professional freelance copywriter running a 6-figure businesses about, right?
So, click on templates for now.
Then click on the top option.
It’s advertised as a free 5-day course. Which is actually kinda cool for a welcome sequence as it helps build authority and trust because you’ll be teaching something.
Ideally something about the freelance copywriting service you’ve settled on.
Click “Use this blueprint” to get started.
When on the next page, click “edit” on the right hand side to edit the actual emails.
You’ll find that all of the emails are written with placeholders.
The idea is for you to simply “fill in the blanks”.
However, we’re gonna need to do a little more as we’re not offering a course, but a welcome sequence.
Don’t worry, 90% of this is the same.
What you’re gonna do here is change any mentions of the course to talk about the service you offer.
So things like…
Thanks for taking my 5-day crash course on **TOPIC OF COURSE**
Will become something like…
Thanks for subscribing to my email newsletter!
Over the next 5 days I’m going to share with you the 5 biggest improvements SaaS brands can make to their content marketing.
You’re basically gonna switch everything to be about your service, but still hold on to a very teaching-centric approach.
When you’ve edited all the emails, head to the “Settings” page on the top nav bar. Fill out the details and click “Activate”.
You now have a welcome sequence.
All that’s left is to ensure your OptinMonster leads get added to this campaign when they subscribe which can be done on the OptinMonster integration tab.
Now on top the second email item I’d recommend.
Staying top of mind for the rest of your leads
As mentioned before, a lot of your leads aren’t going to be ready to buy from you right now.
A huge number still won’t be ready to buy after your welcome sequence.
Part of running a professional freelance copywriting business is knowing how to nurture leads and persuade them to hire you when the time is right.
The easiest way to do this is through a decent, frequent newsletter.
A few general rules of newsletters.
- Send them often to stay top of mind
- Make sure they’re valuable and entertaining above all else
- Don’t be afraid to sell
- Send them as frequently as you’re able whilst still maintaining quality
That means you could send them weekly, monthly, or - if you enjoy ruining your fingers like me - daily emails.
You choose your frequency. It’s based on your time and what you can manage whilst maintaining quality.
What should you send through?
You don’t need anything amazing and ground breaking.
Sign up to a bunch of people’s emails (like mine - you can sign up to it here) and see what they’re sending.
A lot of times it’s the same kinda stuff you’d find on social - just a little more well thought out and described.
If you’re deep in the service you provide, you’ll be able to come up with frequent ideas of what to write about.
A general overview of what you could send includes;
- Your thoughts on a new industry developments
- Short promos of newly published content (e.g. check out this piece I just published)
- Answers to questions people send it
Or anything else that adds value.
Here’s how to quickly send simple emails in Drip.
From whatever page you’re on in your account, click on “Broadcasts” in the top level nav bar.
On the right hand side at the top, click “New Broadcast” on the far right (that's the new editor which is better).
Give your broadcast a name and then choose who you send it to. At this stage, a newsletter should just go to everyone.
So choose a saved segment and then pick everyone.
Scroll down and you’ll see the “Edit email” box. Click begin and then choose your template.
For newsletters, I always scroll down to the bottom and choose a plain text option. It’s only listed as text on this one.
Then you’ll see the below.
Click the edit button on the right hand side to edit the email.
Write what you want and, when done, click Done Editing in the top right.
At the very bottom you’ll see the send/schedule button. Click that…
And then choose a time to send the email.
Do this frequently enough and you’ll start to be the person people think about when they think of the service you provide.
Do it well enough and people will reach out to you to say how much they enjoyed your emails and how much you charge for the service.
The best training you can get for this is to simply sign up to other service providers in your niche and see what they’re doing.
And once again, this is something that is not a one and done thing.
Email marketing should form a key aspect of your freelance copywriting business.
If you want to grow a 6-figure copywriting business, you need to do this frequently and well.
You can get started with Drip right here.