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EPISODE 90: STABLE: Build a Targeted Writing Business

by Jun 14, 2022Copywriter Collaborative, Podcast

Do you serve any client who will pay? Are you worried that niching down in your writing business will prevent you from making as much? We’re here to talk up the benefits of getting focused on a specific audience target.

We are hosting a free challenge for freelancers and content creators, kicking off on July 11, 2022. Click here to learn more about the STABLE Writing Business Challenge!

 

In this episode Jessi + Marie will cover:

  • Overcome your worries about niching down.
  • Learn the benefits of becoming more targeted.
  • Understand how to think about audience targeting.

This episode is Part 2 in a new 7-part series on Creating a STABLE Writing Business. STABLE stands for:

Strategic
Targeted
Appreciated
Boundaried
Lucrative
Energizing

Each episode in the series will talk about one aspect of STABLE, because you deserve a writing business that sets you up for sustainable success!

Plus, we invite you to join the STABLE Writing Business Challenge, a free challenge for freelancers and content creators kicking off on July 11, 2022. Within the challenge, you’ll identify your #1 biggest business challenge right now, so you can take strategic action to address it.

 

In this episode, Jessi and Marie talk about building a targeted writing business, with regard to who you serve.

After all, there are tons of potential clients out there. Just about every business needs content. How do you know who to serve? Should you ever say no to a prospect who comes knocking on your door, looking for help? After all, they represent cash in the door!

Back when we first started our business, we did a little bit of everything and served anyone and everyone who would pay us. The result? Well, we did start our business, and we did have revenue, but we also experienced overwhelm, constant scrambling, pricing issues, and inefficiency.

We believe niching down doesn’t have to be scary or carry an opportunity cost. When you create a narrower target audience for yourself, it’s easier to find clients, price your packages, and create systems (which means more time and energy across the board!).

So how do you do it?

Well, first, give yourself permission to stop serving anyone and everyone. Then, figure out the WHO and the WHAT. WHO do you want to serve? And WHAT value or ROI do you want to provide them with?

When you’re thinking about the WHO piece, consider our Target Audience Framework. The center of the bullseye is your Ideal Client. But you can also aim to attract those whose psychographics match up properly, and those pre-clients who would be a good fit. Plus, you can speak to those folks who won’t be your clients, but who will support you in getting connected with those ideal clients!



When you join the STABLE Writing Business Challenge, we’ll help you identify your #1 most important business challenge right now, so you can take the next best action. If your biggest challenge is audience targeting, you’ll know it by the end of the challenge!

 

Homework: 

 

Services/Products/Offers/Freebies Referenced (for affiliate links or list growth):

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the copywriter collaborative podcast, where we're digging into how you can build a sustainable writing business. We're your hosts, Jessi...

Marie:
...and Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy. When we started our business in 2010, we had no idea what we were doing. We just knew we wanted to write. Since then, we've learned a lot and we've grown into a successful multi-six-figure copywriting agency with a talented staff of writers and project coordinators. We've served hundreds of clients and we've seen it all. We wish we could have had a resource like this way back then. So we created it for you.

Jessi:
We're here to share our and top tips to help you achieve personal and professional success in the copywriting industry. Every week, you'll get valuable insights from us, members of our team, and special guests. Whether you wanna write better copy, create a stronger copywriting business that can support you financially or both, grab your earbuds.
Welcome back, and today we're talking about the second in a series of six episodes around the STABLE framework. So just as a quick reminder, STABLE is how you can build a copywriting business that supports you, gives you stability. And each of the letters in STABLE stand for a different aspect of stability that you can bring to your business. So the previous episode, which we'll link to in the show notes, was all about building a strategic writing business. Today, we're going to talk about the T, which is a targeted writing business. And then in future episodes, we're going to be talking about how you can have a business that makes you feel appreciated, how you can build boundaries in your business, how your business can be lucrative enough to serve you, and finally, how to build an energizing writing business.

Marie:
Absolutely. And stick around because we're going to be telling you how you can learn more about these and learn your next best step. So for today, we're talking about targeted. And this is something that is super important because a lot of people just really... you hear this loud sound? There's a helicopter going overhead.

Jessi:
Oh, I thought that was your dog!

Marie:
Sorry, listeners. Anyway, I got really distracted by that. This is an important topic because you don't wanna be distracted and scattered like I am, right. Because all businesses kind of need you. They need content that you can write. And so sometimes it's kinda hard to know who do I wanna serve? Where do I start? Like, do I wanna niche down? We originally kind of did a little bit of everything. We did grant writing, we did cover letters and resumes. We did curriculum writing. We did blog posts. We did like everything.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I think we did everything because we didn't really know a different way to do things. We knew when we started the business, we were writers. We knew we wanted to write. And we knew we wanted to make money writing and use that revenue to free up our options for, you know, maybe going full time. At the time, it was a side hustle for just being able to really be professional writers. And in those early days, we weren't really as concerned with what we were writing. And we were just really excited that we were writing and getting paid to do it. It was like a dream come true. And so when we saw opportunities, we were like, yes, we'll do that. And yes, we'll do that. And yes, we'll do that. The problem with that is it gets really distracting, really fast. You have a lot of different types of projects. It's not just the number of projects you have. It's that each project requires a different hat, a different type of creative brain work. It makes it hard to price yourself because you don't have that consistency of having enough of a certain type of project under your belt that you kind of get a sense for the time it takes, for the energy it takes, for the ROI, all of that. And it means that you can't really put systems and processes in place because you're constantly customizing everything so that you can meet everyone else's needs. So when we're talking about stability in your business and sustainability in your business, doing a little bit of everything for everyone is not going to help you as much as getting a little more targeted around what you're offering.

Marie:
Yeah. And I think there is or may be a place for kind of say yes to all the things. But, like Jessi said, it's not a sustainable stable place. It's useful for you if you are trying to figure out what you wanna do, and then you get to try these five things and you figure out, you know, I liked these two. I didn't like these three. Great now, you know. But yeah, definitely it's not something to keep doing forever because I think the fear that a lot of people have is if I niche down, meaning I am no longer a fit for some of the people who are coming to me for work or that I'm approaching for work that I've worked with previously, that means that that means I'm gonna make less money, right.
Like, I still hear this pretty regularly from people. I was actually out having dinner with a friend a few months ago and I mentioned that I run this company and we do copywriting and she's like, "Oh cool. Yeah. You know, I bet y'all could find lots of clients on Fiverr." And I like, didn't correct her because there's nothing to correct. She's right. We totally could find clients on Fiverr. So yeah, the fact that we don't take clients from Fiverr does mean that we are losing out on opportunities to make money from those places. That is absolutely true. And yet the reason that we don't is because we are able to, A, first of all, our target audience isn't there. B, we work with people who we're able to charge a lot more for because we give a lot of value to, not that the people on Fiverr don't give value, but we're just in a position where we are able to charge adequately for the value that we bring. And so it's actually easier for us to find clients than it would be fighting in the dog pile of Fiverr for probably less money at the end of the day. So niching down doesn't have to be scary. It can be very liberating.

Jessi:
Yeah. It's a quality over quantity thing to me, which isn't to say that you won't deliver quality to, the highest quality you can to any of your clients, whether you're finding them on Fiverr or Upwork or whether you're finding them in another way. It's just that when you are in a situation where you are, for example, competing through a bidding system where you have to create custom packages every single time where you have to reinvent the wheel every time, you end up in a position where you're often spending so much time on the logistics part of things and getting the clients in the door and figuring out how to do this project, that it's taking away time that you could be doing other things if it was more systematized.
I think that this isn't to say that if you're a writer who likes doing a lot of things you can't. A really good example is in our business we have content retainers. Those retainers are pretty broad. People can get a lot of different types of content through those retainers. Now all of those types of content are types that we're comfortable offering. We've done enough times that we feel like we really understand the ROI of those pieces of content and not only how to do 'em ourselves, but we've trained our team and how to do them. But it's still a whole menu of different things they could get. However, we've systematized it to the point where no one is coming to us and saying, I want these six disparate things and then we're creating a custom quote for it. We've created a package around it that allows us to be flexible with the type of content we're creating while also being simple and streamlined with what we're outwardly presenting to our clients and how we are onboarding them and working with them.

Marie:
Hundred percent. Also see the previous episode about creating your strategic offer, right? Because that will help with a lot of this stuff. But in order to actually do that, you kind of have to know who you're targeting, who do you wanna work with, right? So our first piece of advice around this is stop trying to be everything and do everything for everyone. Because that really does lead to this place of scattered and lack of sustainability. If you need to do that again at the beginning for just a little while to figure out what you're good at or what you enjoy great. But know that your goal is gonna be to niche down. So then after that, it's figuring out who that you're niching down to serve, and what. And so what do I mean by that is like, yeah, who do you wanna serve and what value or return on investment ROI do you wanna provide them with through the work that you do?

Jessi:
Yeah. There are so many different ways to approach this too. So one thing I don't want you to feel is that we're telling you this is the exact way to niche down. I think a lot of people in the marketing space try to present a one size fits all way to niching. And I think writing and content creation is the perfect antithesis to that in a way. Because you could niche based on audience. You could say, well, I'm only working with veterinarians who are local to me and I write copy for them. Great. Okay. That's a good niche. You could also say, actually, I just work with people who are in any industry, but who are specifically looking at SEO-optimized blog posts. So you're not necessarily niching based on industry and location, you're niching based on type of content. So there's not a wrong way to go about this, but having clarity on the path that you're on is really helpful for you to connect with the right people, for you to create the right offer that serves both you and them, price your packages, make sure you're conveying the ROI, It's not just, hi, I can help you write things. What do you need? It's Hey, you need these things. Here's how I can deliver that for you in a nice, pretty package with a little bow on top.

Marie:
Exactly. So one potential pitfall that we just wanna warn you about before you go skipping off into the wilderness to go work on who you wanna work with and what you want to offer them and what value that brings to them is there's a potential here of getting so focused on a very specific type of client that you end up truly saying no to people who actually might be a great fit for you. And I know that kind of sounds contradictory to what I was just saying, but basically what we don't want you to do is niche so far down that you freeze because you haven't found this exact person. So if you're familiar with the idea of the ideal client avatar, this is what we're talking about. You may find that an ideal client avatar is super supportive for you. And that really works for you. If so, great. Keep going on. If however, you find that saying, okay, I work with a woman who is 29 years old and is a dentist straight out of dental school and wants to own her own practice and, I don't know if that's actually the age people are when they graduate from school, anyway. And she has one child and two golden retrievers and she likes to eat smoothies and wear yoga pants. Like you're gonna get so zoomed in that you may say no to somebody who like, has all those things, but maybe she's got, I don't know, a horse instead of a dog, right? Or like she just... yeah. Sorry.

Jessi:
No, I have a very important clarifying question here.

Marie:
Yeah.

Jessi:
Do you eat smoothies? Or do you drink smoothies?

Marie:
Eee okay. So this is not at all a side tangent. It is super important. I prefer my frozen drinks to be spoonable as opposed to strawable.

Jessi:
Okay. I was a little thrown off by the word eat, but that makes more sense. Alright. Just had to get some clarity there!

Marie:
Reality check there. Anyway. So instead of adhering to the, I'm being a little hyperbolic with this idea of the ideal client avatar, but it's an exercise that allows us to get kind of creative around thinking of who that person is. And I think what can be really helpful about that is if you kind of know who they are and what motivates them, you can kind of imagine this person and write to them as you're creating your copy, your marketing materials, you know, as you're whatever. That's when it can be really helpful. But what's not helpful is when you're like, I'm not gonna work with this person cause I'm niching right now. And I'm not going to work with somebody who falls outside of what I've envisioned when actually they really might be a fantastic client for you. So our solution to that is the target audience framework.

Jessi:
Yeah. So if you've heard us talk about this in past episodes, I know we go into detail about it in Episode 10: What's Wrong with the Ideal Client Avatar. So give that a listen too if you haven't already. We'll link to it in the show notes. But the brief kind of focus that I kind of wanna draw your attention to in this episode is when we're talking about the ideal client avatar as it's usually taught, you're really talking about this combination of demographics and psychographics. So the demographics are things like geographic location, age, how many children they have, what their income bracket is, all of those things. The psychographics are how they think, how they feel, what they want, what their desires are, what their fears are, what their aspirations are. The ideal client avatar is both of those things.
We like to back it up a level and broaden it out a little bit to just the psychographics. To say like, if the demographics fit too, that's great. But if they don't, if there's not an exact demographic fit, but there is a really good psychographic fit, maybe give it a chance. Maybe give it a little bit of a look. When neither of those aligns, that's when it's kind of like, okay, that's not necessarily someone worth working with. I wanna give an example too from not the audience's perspective, but from the type of content you create perspective. In our business, for a very long time, we focused on website copy. That was our bread and butter. It was what we did was website copy. And we specifically did not do conversion copy. Not because we weren't good at it because we did conversion copy for ourselves in our own business all the time, but because we were a little scared of it and we were scared to offer it. So we did all these things for everyone, we did all of this different type of stuff, but whenever conversion copy came up, we were like, no, we don't do that. And on the one hand, if we had done it, it would've just been adding another thing to the pile, but we were not doing it for the wrong reasons. And eventually, we realized when we were writing website copy, one of the pages we were writing was services pages, which were essentially sales pages, just mediatized and adjusted a little bit for an evergreen page. And so we decided let's try doing a conversion copy project with a client. And it was actually a lot of fun and we liked it a lot and we got results. And so we tried another, and eventually, we added launch copy as one of our services. And you know, now it's one of our most sought-after services, even more so than website copy. So I think, I guess the point of bringing that up is it's important to get targeted on who you serve and what you're offering, but it's also important to remain flexible enough to allow for opportunities of change.

Marie:
Yeah. It's funny you bring that up. I know that you weren't in the zoom room with me when we were interviewing Aaron Wrixon on the podcast a few episodes ago, but he had an episode where he was talking about his definition of conversion copy, and it's like, literally anything that is designed to make someone or ask someone to take an action is conversion copy. So it's like we've been doing it all along even without just those services pages. So, I think you're right, like take a look at the reason that you're avoiding something and do be open to try new things. Do be open, cuz like businesses evolve over time. You're gonna evolve over time. Your needs, the industry, everything's gonna be evolving. So like don't pick something and stick with it like a dog with a bone forever and ever and ever just because Marie and Jessi said to do this, right. We're not telling you to do that. You're allowed to evolve your business. You're allowed to try new things. You're allowed to get excited about new types of projects. We just ultimately don't want you to spread yourself so thin that you're not serving yourself as well.

Jessi:
And that's where stability really comes in. And the STABLE program really comes in. To have a targeted writing business does not mean that it never shifts and evolves. It does not mean that you don't add services or get rid of other services. It doesn't mean that your services don't change in how they're structured or that your audience doesn't ever shift. What it really means is that you create a targeted starting point so that you can cut through the noise of trying to be everything to everyone. Get really focused on that starting point, get it to a place where it works, where it feels stable and then look at shifting and adjusting so that you're not trying to do too many things at once and then being buried under your own business.

Marie:
Hundred percent. So, if this is resonating for you or even if it's not but you're intrigued by these other topics that we're gonna be talking about in these episodes, we definitely wanna invite you to join the STABLE Writer Challenge that we're gonna be hosting here shortly. It is a free challenge. You are going to be able to identify your number one most important business challenge to address right now. Maybe it is audience targeting. Maybe it is being really targeted around what you're offering with ROI. Maybe it's something else that's really crucial to your success and stability. We're gonna help you figure out what that is so that you can point your nose in the right direction to take the next best step to really outfit your writing business for success and stability.

Jessi:
The link to join us in the show notes. We hope to see you there and continue listening, cuz we're gonna go through the other letters in stable and how they relate to building your writing business in a way that feels really good to you.

Marie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Copywriter Collaborative Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com/podcast, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on your favorite podcast app and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy copywriting.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 

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