15 min read

Building a outbound freelance client generation machine

This is the exact outreach process I use to land freelance clients on demand.
Building a outbound freelance client generation machine

Step 1 to building a profitable outbound engine is to know what you’re selling.

Thanks to steps earlier on in this guide, you should know…

  1. The niche you’re targeting
  2. The deliverable you’re going to offer

And that should give you your elevator pitch of who you are - something like “I’m a content marketer for SaaS brands”.

That’s already put you above 90% of the freelance copywriters out there.

Now, we need to understand exactly what it is you’re selling and how much you’re gonna charge for it.

I’ve got a full, detailed explanation on how to figure out how much you should charge here.  However, in this piece I’m gonna offer a very quick overview of the steps.

Step 1 is to turn your generic elevator pitch into something that’s related to actual business metrics like revenue.

Again, I’m running with the content marketer idea here as blog writing is the easiest area to get started in.

Let’s imagine you’re a content marketer for SaaS brands as mentioned above.

To figure out what it is you offer, we need to ask Why 3 times. This will tell you what you need to know about your clients and how you can help them.

We’re gonna start with why should your ideal clients hire you?

In terms of blog writing, it’s to help them with the updates on their blog, right?

Ok, so why do they need regular updates on their blog?

Generally it’s to rank better and increase their reach and impact, right?

Good. But why do they need to increase rankings, reach and impact?

So that they attract more people who might become customers.

Ding ding ding.

That’s what people are paying for when they pay for content.

They’re not paying for words on a page, but for the results those words drive.

Ask yourself why someone needs your service 3 times and you’ll usually find the actual reason they’ll open their wallets.

OK, so now we revert back to the service.

Now you need to ask how you’re going to help people achieve that end goal with your copy.

In the case of a content marketer, that could be an article and an associated lead magnet to get people who read the article to sign up for an email list.

You now have the makings of a service that’s actually going to provide a real business benefit to your clients.

You could attempt to sell that directly to your potential clients as is.

Simply start emailing people and say “I offer this combo of an article and lead magnet to help you generate more qualified leads that turn into customers”.

But not everyone is gonna need the full service.

So, we break it down into 3 tiers.

When you have all three of your tiers sorted, you’ll want to display them on your website in the below fashion.

I’m sure you’ll have seen this kind of approach used across the web.

Tier 1: The “budget” tier.

This is a simple offer where the client gets the minimal amount of work you offer.

Tier 2: The “primary service” tier.

This is what you want people to purchase because it’s best for you and provides the best results for them.

Tier 3: The “high roller” tier.

This is a higher priced tier that is a complete management of everything for your clients. Few people will go for it, but when someone does it’s a nice payday for you.

So if we put this into real terms for the above example we could have…

  • Budget tier is 3 articles that are created on a high potential topic and that promote the client’s already existing lead magnets.
  • Primary service tier is 3 articles created on a high potential topic that promote a brand new lead magnet you also create.
  • High roller tier is 6 articles that form a Hub-and-Spoke model and offer a new lead magnet you create specifically for the client.

You’ll pop these three tiers into a pricing page you can direct interested leads toward when they want to know more about your service.

When it comes to pricing, you’re gonna need to play around a little. The full guide on figuring out profitable but fair prices can be found here.

However, in short here’s the process you wanna take.

  • Step 1. Figure out how much you need to earn to cover all costs.
  • Step 2. Figure out how long it will take you to complete all deliverables.
  • Step 3. Analyse how many billable hours you have in any given week.
  • Step 4. Total costs / billable hours = your hourly rate.
  • Step 5. Calculate how many hours for each deliverable and multiply by your hourly rate.
  • Step 6. You now have a base cost for each deliverable.
  • Step 7. Scale up the price for your deliverable to make the middle package a no brainer deal through tweaking the value ratio of price <> deliverables.

It might seem restrictive to do it this way, but it actually makes the whole process so much easier.

The client knows exactly what they’re getting for a set $ amount.

You can create processes that enable you to more easily scale your business, effectively increasing client results while decreasing the time you spend working.

There’s also a subtle psychological element to pricing your services this way.

Also, it allows you to effectively plan things out.

When you know the set price and times, you can start to predict things.

Like how many clients you need to hit the $8,333 / month level that would get you to 6 figure freelance copywriter level.

And, subsequently, how many cold pitch emails you need to send to land that many clients.

Here’s how to get that level of clarity.

Finding the right people to hire you

You now have everything you need to start doing proper cold outreach.

To summarise that is…

  1. You know your niche
  2. You know the service you offer
  3. You have definite price points on what it is you’re gonna charge for that service

Now all we need to do is get your offer in front of the people who have the power to make decisions in your niche.

How to build a preliminary outreach list

This is a surprisingly simple process.

First, know that you are only targeting decision makers.

Ignore any advice that tells you to focus on other writers. They often don’t have the budget or authority to hire you.

We’re specifically targeting people with titles like…

  • Founder
  • CMO
  • VP Marketing
  • Head of content
  • Chief copywriter

Basically, people who have to get results and are given a budget to achieve them.

The first thing to do is head to LinkedIn. We’re gonna use Boolean search to quickly generate a list of people who are decision makers in your industry.

I did a great interview with Vanshika Mehta on this which you can watch below.

What you’re going to do is look specifically for the companies these people are working for.

You can do that through a regular search as Vanshika explains, or through the groups you’re a member of.

As you can see below, I searched for SaaS in a CMOs group to get these results.

All I’m trying to do is get a quick look at the companies.

What we want to also add to that list is their email address.

The easiest way to do this is with a tool called Snov.io.

This is an incredible tool - undoubtedly the best out of all the tools I’ve tried - for finding the email address of your perfect freelance copywriting clients.

You can download it as a Chrome extension and it’ll work directly from LinkedIn.

So all you need to then do is click on the person’s name to open their profile and click on the Snov.io extension.

Click the button that says find emails and save before moving on to the next one.

Do this with 50-100 people before checking your Snov.io list.

When you do, you’ll find a few email addresses that don’t have the “green light”. That means they’re risky and Snov.io isn’t 100% certain they’re correct.

You can also see from the email address that it’s likely not right.

This sometimes happens, and it’s simply because the guy I’m researching added a bunch of extra qualification to his name.

Don’t worry though, the next step is where we’re qualifying and cleaning the list.

How to qualify and clean your preliminary cold outreach list

In your Snov.io account you’re going to see the 50-100 people you’ve collected.

Not all will be good fits, not all email addresses will be correct.

What we’re gonna do now is maximise the chance that…

  1. The email address we have is correct
  2. They’re actually likely to pay for your service

When you’re in Snov.io, make a note of the company name. Open a new tab, and head to their site.

For ALL prospects we’re first looking to see if they’re already investing in the service we offer.

You only want to approach clients that are already pumping money into the service you offer.

A lot of freelancers mess this up. They approach brands who obviously don’t value their service and so are almost impossible to sell on improving it.

Yes, we know that implementing a blog, email series, sales page or whatever can help their business, but you can’t change their mind and get them to implement it.

It’s much easier to convince someone already investing in something to improve it than it is to get someone who doesn’t value something to start.

So, when you land on the website you’re going to look around quickly to see if they have a lot of what you’re offering.

In our content marketing example, I would head to their blog and see if it’s frequently updated.

From the look of that blog, they have daily articles going up.

Which is exactly what we want.

If they’re publishing daily, they’re gonna need help to maintain quality and get the most out of those assets.

So that’s a big green tick for this brand.

If they’re not investing in what you offer, delete them from your list. They’ll just be a waste of time for you.

Now let’s look at the broken email address for this company.

I couldn’t pull his proper email from LinkedIn, but now that I’ve qualified this business as a potential good client, I’m going to click on the Snov.io extension.

Because you’re on their site, you’ll end up with a larger list of names, many of which should be verified (with a green light).

These people aren’t who you’re searching for, but that’s Ok.

Cause what we are looking for is the company email format.

As you can see below, the company format for Omnicell is firstname.lastname@omnicell.com

I just apply that email formula to the CMO we found and boom, we’ve got a good chance of hitting his inbox.

Once you’ve got the emails of around 100 qualified leads, you’re gonna export them to a Google Sheet from Snov.io so we can make a few last minute amendments before sending anything.

Seriously, 100 people are needed here.

If you’re not emailing at least 100 people you can’t tell if the email you’re sending is actually working or not.

As mentioned in a recent piece, it took me 100 emails to land 3 new clients.

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This is one of the major issues I see freelance copywriters stumble on. It’s the biggest thing that stops them from breaking $10,000 / year, let along grow a 6-figure copywriting business.

They send 3 emails and, when they don’t get a yes, they quit.

Cold outreach is a quality and quantity game.

If you’re not doing the numbers, you’re not gonna get ahead.

You’ve got to push through the rejections so you can get the ~5% conversion rate.  

Try Snov.io completely free here

Now we’ve got a list of 100 or so people, it’s time to start our cold email outreach process.

How to systemise your cold email outreach

Over the years I’ve tried all sorts of things for my cold outreach game…

  • Mass emailing from an automated provider (LemList is the best I’ve used)
  • Tracking through simple Gmail addons (not recommended)
  • Organising my outreach in Google Sheets (definitely not recommended).

All of it helped me get better, but ultimately they all took a tonne of time to manage.

Cause here’s the thing. If you wanna grow a highly profitable online copywriting business this year, you’ve got to have well established systems and processes.

HubSpot’s free CRM is a great way for small business owners to create a solid process and get real results from their own cold outreach plans.

I now have a system using their free CRM that allows me to send cold outreach emails to between 100-150 people every month in as little as 3 hours per week.

All of these emails are fully tracked, easily personalised, and thanks to HubSpot’s deal flow system my job is brainless.

All I have to do is move each and every lead one step to the right every time I log in.

If you want to predictably land more clients, you need to be running cold outreach campaigns.

Here’s a quick overview of what it is that I do to make this work and systemise this outreach.

Clean up your lead data

Go to your Google Sheet and make sure that all of the columns are correct.

At the very minimum you’re going to need the below columns set up and populated with the correct information for each one of your 100 people.

  • First name
  • Surname
  • Email address
  • Business name

If you want to include any other details about them (company URL, revenue numbers etc) you can.

But the above are the absolute minimum needed. Thankfully Snov.io will make it easy as they help populate all of the above for you.

If you’re going to use HubSpot’s deal flows (which I recommend you do) then make sure you’re also including the right details for the…

  • Deal flow name
  • Name of the deal
  • Value of the deal

Import your cold lead info into HubSpot

Once it’s all done, you’re gonna need to hit the download button in the main file menu, then select download as Comma-Separated Values (or .CSV).

That will give you a sheet that, frankly, will make no sense to you right now. But that’s OK.

Head over to your new HubSpot account, click on contacts in the top level nav bar, then on “import” in the top right.  


Then follow these steps.

Click “start an import” and then “file from computer”.

After that, select the number of files you’re important, which will be 1.

Then you’ll be asked about the “objects” you’re important. We’re important multiple objects as we’re doing name, email, company, and deal data.  

Then you get to select what information you’re importing.

I recommend you import company data, contact data (obviously), and deal data.

You’ll then be asked to import the file, This is the /CSV file you created earlier on.

Drag it into the upload area here.

Once that’s done, you’ll just need to confirm the columns you selected line up with the way HubSpot recognises information.

Go through the list and make sure the right information is assigned to the right column.

When that’s done, scroll down and click next.

If everything is done right, you’ll be asked to confirm and then it’ll upload everyone.

And if you added the deal stages, you’ll see something like the below when you head to “Sales > Deals” in the top level nav bar.

It’s from this screen that I manage my entire cold outreach process. This is, pretty much, the beating heart of my 6-figure copywriting business.

Thanks to HubSpot CRM’s template features I’m able to bring up a template that’s 80% complete in a few clicks. A short bit of personalisation and I can get it sent.

Then, my job is to check in on this twice per week and simply move each card one level to the right.

Simple, but highly effective way of tracking emails and where people are in your pipeline.

HubSpot is the best tool I’ve ever used for this and it allows for the perfect balance of personalisation and “at scale” sends.

You can sign up for a free HubSpot CRM account below.

Sign up for HubSpot’s free CRM here


What cold outreach emails should you send?

With everything set up in HubSpot, you now just need to put some time aside to send the emails.

Again, this is where a lot of freelancers fall and end up taking no action. So here’s a quick overview of what it is you need to do.

The tempo and number of cold email pitches

First, know that you should be sending emails to people in batches of 100.

Any less and you’re not gonna see the results you need.

Also, you’re not just pitching them once and expecting a positive response.

You’re going to reach out to each person a maximum of 3 times.

Why?

Cause people are busy and responding to freelance copywriters isn’t their top priority.

We’re growing a freelance business here and you need to treat it as such.

You’ll know from your own personal life that the businesses you buy from will follow up with you multiple timers to secure the sale.

Do the same thing.

3 emails is the perfect balance between persistence that gets the response and annoying spam that loses you the deal.

In between each send you’re gonna wait 3-4 business days.

After years of trial and error this is what I’ve found to work most effectively.

The follow ups are key. I get around 70% of my responses from the first follow up.  So don’t skip the follow up sends.

Too many freelancers I speak to who fail, fail because they never follow up.

Here’s what you should cover in your cold email pitches.

Email 1 - Sent today

  • A personalised icebreaker
  • A value add (something that they will find useful)
  • A little about you
  • A question related to the service you offer

Email 2 - Send IF they don’t respond in 3-4 business days

  • A short hello
  • Reminder of last email
  • Reiteration of question posed

Email 3 - Send 3-4 business days after email 2 IF they’ve still not responded

  • Notice that this is your last outreach
  • Reminder of Q
  • Mention of your services if they’re ever in need

That is, basically, the tempo and approach I’ve used to generate large deals and a 6-figure copywriting income.

If you want more guidance on it and want to get a hold of some of the templates I actually use, you can grab the whole bunch through the below button.

If you make the purchase, you’ll get all the templates and a video walkthrough of how to set up HubSpot properly to do all of the above.

It’s pay-what-you-want with a minimum purchase of $10.

Get the email templates and process I’ve used to break 6-figures


From the above outlines and, if you purchased them, the email templates in Make Them Listen, you’ll notice one thing.

The call to action is not a “hire me for writing please!”.

We don’t do that here.

Why? Because it’s spammy, and it’ll get your message deleted more often than not.

The CTAs we work to are to get people on the phone to discover if we can actually help them.

Out of all of the companies I’ve emails over the years, I’ve probably only really been able to help 10% of them. And only half of that 10% have become my clients.

You have to take the focus off selling and turn it onto providing value.

If you provide value, you can then both see if working together would be a logical fit.

Which, when it is, leads to a better working relationship and higher freelance fees for you.

So, what is the CTA we use to figure this out?

We ask people to jump on a quick 15-minute phone call to see if we are able to help their needs.

We offer free advice over the phone and then ask if they want us to help them action that advice.