“What if every client you’ve ever worked with was still a client today?”
When a mentor asked me that question recently, it felt like a shot to the gut.
What hurt the most was the question instantly brought back every lost deal, every missed deadline, every time I let something slip that I could have saved.
My guess is you have ghosts of clients past that haunt you, too.
We all do.
Because when we start traveling down this road of freelancing, we focus on the craft, not on the business…
We're completely focused on 'is my work good enough?'... and we never spend any time thinking about 'what's the right way to run my business?'
… Which means even if things are going great right now, there’s a huge blind spot in our business.
And like most blind spots, you don't see them until it's too late.
To reveal it is a costly, painful process.
For me it was to the tune of $10,000.00.
But, for you it doesn't have to be that way.
Right now is a great time to be a freelancer.
As more and more companies experiment with new marketing and advertising channels, the demand for what we do continues to grow.
Plus, we have the advantage of access to more writing resources than we’ll ever need.
When top freelancers sit down to write, they start with templates, checklists, and the voices of teachers to get started.
That's because, thankfully, over the last century, hundreds of our predecessors have recorded their templates, strategies, exercises, checklists, and more… built from years of experience.
Even a new freelancer gets to shortcut the learning curve with books, courses, conferences, support groups, mentors, and more.
Or when you open a new window to reply to a nasty email from a client?
What does your page look like then?
The thing nobody tells you is that to be a successful copywriter, you need three distinct skills --
1. How to be great at your craft
2. How to find paying clients
3. How to run a business
A quick google search and you’ll find a lot of resources on #1, a few on #2, and basically none on #3.
Which is fascinating to me because it’s the most important component of becoming a successful freelancer.
Where do you learn how to create a proposal, what to include in your contract, the sweet spot of client communication, or how to get amazing testimonials?
Ask any successful freelancer where they learned these skills and their answer will be the same: “by messing it up enough times”
Wouldn’t it be better if instead there was a way to shortcut the trial and error?
What if it was possible to capture the years of accumulated knowledge of people already in the business who already made the mistakes?
That’s exactly what I set out to do.
Turns out, you get a pretty great business.
A few years ago, I had a rapidly growing copywriting business.
I had worked with some of the biggest names online and my work was good. I worked on launches that beat projections by 7-figures, I beat controls by names I had idolized, and my business was booming on just referrals.
It wasn’t the work.
It wasn’t finding clients.
It was everything else.
I would regularly miss deadlines. I constantly found myself working on weekends and in the evening. I got screwed out of thousands of dollars because I didn’t protect myself with my contracts and proposals.
I’ll be honest. I lost clients -- good clients -- because my projects were a mess!
Neil Gaiman once said that clients want 3 things:
… but they’ll settle for two out of three.
I found that to be the case at a certain level, but when you play the game at the top...
...when you get the big contracts with the dream clients…
... They want all three.
Clients loved me and liked the work, but some were fed up with my disorganization.
Other clients took advantage of my lack of business skills and underpaid me -- or didn’t pay at all.
KC spent the last 20 years protecting government officials during dangerous trips overseas, standing up multi-agency natural disaster responses, and breaking down extremely complex and critical problems into workable chunks.
He is, at his core, a "systems and process" guy.
His biggest challenge to date?
Managing a copywriting firm (mine).
When he came on board, KC started asking questions about systems and templates and schedules.
I didn’t have answers for any of them.
So together, we came up with answers.
And as I started using these systems, my colleagues began to ask how I was doing it. How did I know what to work on Feburary 12th for a June 1 launch?
How did I come up with my prices? What did I do when I had to create a proposal or a contract? What did I do when the client was upset, didn’t pay, or wouldn’t provide research material?
So KC and I answered their questions.
Sharing our copywriting systems with Brian Kurtz's Titans Masterclass, The Copywriter Club, and Copy Chief
And we began to see that I wasn’t the only one that didn’t know what I was doing when it came to systems for freelancing.
In fact, EVERY SINGLE ONE of the freelancers we talked to was struggling in that area.
So we took our work and combined it with resources from experts. Successful freelancers who had learned the lessons like I did -- the hard way. Lawyers. Productivity specialists.
And we tested it and found that our systems could be used successfully across niches and specialties.
Copywriters. Designers. Developers. Photographers.
For new freelancers and people that had been in the game for years... and everyone in between.
We guest taught for coaches. We even set up internal systems for big teams.
Abbey was a key member of my team during a time of explosive growth. I needed to grow my content team and leaned heavily on Abbey to conceptualize, build, implement, test and improve our backend processes. The systems she created to hire, train, and evaluate writers are now a daily part of operations.
Writing great copy isn’t just about the words on a page. It’s about taking feedback, consistently improving, and learning to master different voices. Abbey can do all of these things, and most importantly, she’s a pleasure to work with.
-Ramit Sethi, NYT Best-selling Author, CEO GrowthLab.com
And now, for the first time, we’re making everything available to YOU.
The Freelance Co-op isn’t a course that will take you 6+ weeks to slog through.
It’s the resources, templates, checklists, and training you need, when you need it.
Just log in and get instant access to exactly what you’re looking for.
Looking for a contract template for a royalty deal?
Trying to figure out how to get better testimonials from happy clients?
Landed a new project and want to know how to price it?
Have a live event coming up and you want to land some clients?
Looking for a new project management software that freelancers are already using?
I’ll be honest with you. The top freelancers in the world did not use The Freelance Co-op to build their business. They used good ole fashioned trial and error to figure out how to word their contracts and how to manage their projects.
And if you want to follow in their footsteps, you’ll figure all this out, too….eventually.
But think about what just one poorly written contract could cost you.
If you’re not sure, I’ll tell you what it cost me. Over $10,000.
And that was just from one missing line!
What about a missed deadline? That could cost your final payment, working with that client again, and future referrals. So one badly-conceived project calendar could easily mean a loss of 6-figures or more.
I’ve been there. And so have many before you.
In fact, the freelancing community has a proud tradition of not getting paid, losing clients, and undercharging.
And these are some of the best, most successful freelancers in the business today!
How much would you invest to save $2,000…. $10,000… $70,000.00!?
We invest hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars each year for training on our craft...
...thinking that doing the best work is the secret to getting the best clients.
Few of us invest even a fraction of that into becoming better business people.
And, yes, you need to be great at your craft.
But what nobody tells you is that good client communication, contracts, and processes do MORE to help you find, keep, and retain great clients than the newest "ninja tactics."
The best clients only work with freelancers that have stellar reputations, who are able to deliver because they have their business handled.
More often that not, losing a client is the result of a business issue NOT a quality of work issue.
That ends now.
A monthly membership to the Freelance Co-op means that you have access to:
And at $297/month, that’s a lot more affordable than the $10,000+ pricetag of trial and error.
My $10k mistake would pay for Freelance Co-op for 8.5 years!
For my colleague Marc's $70K mistake… he could have been a member for the rest of his life!
If you have a specific or unique question, you can ask in the community of real, working freelancers (not “hobbyists” whose answers give away they haven’t actually worked with a paying client before).
Tricky client issue? One of us has faced it before.
Looking for a partner on a project? We have members across dozens of niches and hundreds of specialties, like:
We also have a panel of experts on hand to answer your questions about special situations involving legal, accounting and taxes, and hiring.
And if you need something and we don’t have it… we’ll find it for you. Over the past decade we’ve built relationships that allow us to be no more than an email away from experts in just about every field.
There’s nothing I hate more than chasing down unresponsive customer service to update my billing information or cancel my membership. If you’re not a fit for The Freelance Co-op, you can cancel your membership right from the site, instantly.
No “Save the Sale” videos. No emailing Customer Service. No “Are you sure?”
Now, y'all would guess that more often than not, the highest paid player on an NFL team is the quarterback. And you'd be right. But what you probably don't know is that more often than not, the second highest paid player is … a left tackle. The left tackle's job is to protect the quarterback from what he can't see coming. To protect his blind side."
-Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
If you live in the US, or know basically anything about American Football, you know that Joe Montana was one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
He was talented, smart, and quick.
But he had something more. He had Bill Walsh, his coach.
And Walsh made it his mission to recruit the best left tackles in the league.
That strategy gave Montana an advantage no one else had -- an extra half second to make a pass.
Yes, of course Montana was talented. One of the greats.
And he would have been successful no matter what.
But he also would have been sacked a hell of a lot more.
With his blind side covered, Montana could just do what he did best. Every time he stepped onto the field.
That’s something you just can’t put a price on.
And that’s what we want to do here at The Freelance Co-op.
You do what you do best.
We’ll help you cover all the other stuff.
I’m laying it all out there.
Every flaw, every mistake…
And every gorgeous curve of my business.
Because you know what I've learned working with "gurus" at every level?
Most of them don’t share what they’re actually doing. At least not right away.
They’ll teach you what they did last year… or what their students are doing.
I’ve been behind-the-scenes in these businesses and what they teach and what they DO are two very different things.
If I can save ONE freelancer from just a single $1,000 mistake, I’m going to do it.
If that means sharing the contract I negotiated the day before, it will be up on the site. (Like the walkthrough I do inside Freelance Co-op of an actual $24,000 proposal with royalties that a client accepted... I share ALL the details)
If that means recording a personal session with one my coaches or mentors… the guys I pay $15,000/yr to talk to… I’m going to do it. (Like the Freelance Co-op exclusive interview with Brian Kurtz, former CEO of Boardroom on How to Structure Better Deals.
If that means sharing as soon as I screw it up (and I’m not so naive to think I’m done screwing up)... you’ll get the lesson without the pain. (Like a huge mistake I made in my taxes -- I talk with an accountant to sort out the situation, and you get to listen in).
Plus the experts, the resources, the tools, the software, and the systems that are being used RIGHT NOW not just in my business, but by:
There’s a phrase that people sometimes use to comfort you after you make a huge mistake.
“Well, kid, now you’ve earned your stripes”
People have said it to me… and if I’m being honest, I’ve probably said it to other people.
But what if you didn’t have to get shot on a battlefield to rise up the ranks?
What if you could skip that part?
What if success didn’t mean losing money, working weekends, and missing deadlines?
Edison failed thousands of times to get the lightbulb to work.
Now all we have to do is hit a switch.
I think it can be like that in business, too.
If you listen to just about everyone else, that sounds impossible.
But I have to find out.
Can you be successful without falling on your face?
What if it’s not about getting back on the horse when you fall, but instead learning how to stay in the saddle?
I’m going to find out.
Do you want to join me?