A friend shared something from a Facebook Group, where a freelancer was talking about how they’d gotten on the phone with a business owner…📞
Then they’d ended up closing that business owner for some work, including copywriting.✍️
The problem, the freelancer shared, is that they’d never written any copy before.
This made my friend angry, which is why he posted the screenshot…😡
He felt as though the freelancer shouldn’t have closed the client for the copy work since he didn’t have any experience.
I didn’t agree, and so I commented:
“I’m kind of torn on this. I 100% get your point. At the same time, when I was starting out and freelancing on Upwork, I would pretty much take any project I could get.
Clients would say “you know how to do SEO?” And I’d say “oh definitely!”
They’d ask: “Can you build a website? And I’d say “100%.”
They’d wonder: “Do you have experience writing for SAAS/Medicaid/Virtual Servers/Women’s Beauty/3rd Party Last Mile White Glove Logistics/YOU NAME IT?” And I’d go “good news, I’m super familiar with YOU NAME IT and know I can crush it!”
So it’s tough. I get your point – people biting off more than they can chew. But at the same time, sometimes the best way to learn is to throw yourself into the fire.
I learned SEO and got clients ranked. I learned how to build websites. I read up on all kinds of businesses and niches and then modeled off what was working to write content. I did whatever it took to bring in money so that I never had to go back to a 9-5 job again. And I got results for the clients too. They kept hiring me for more projects and they referred me to others.
So for me, I guess my concern is less with someone having no idea how to do something they’ve been hired for (that stuff happens all the time, in the real world and online). My concern is if they’re going to be the kind of person who really, truly figures it out? Someone who obsesses over getting their clients incredible results?
If they’re that kind of person, and they’re smart enough, then I’d say “go nuts.”
But of course, if they’re the kind of person who is gonna go post in a bunch of Facebook Groups about what just happened, get a ton of advice they ignore, and then half-ass the job…
Then in those cases, yeah, they have no business taking the client’s money.”
I wrote that out and felt pretty good about it…
But then, in the same thread, another friend asked me:
“What if the plumbers did this to you, so that’s why your house is flooded now? Is it still okay if other people do this, even if it’s at your expense?”
Which is a super fair question.
See, that friend was referring to the fact that I had recently had to call plumbers back to our new house after a plumbing issue didn’t get resolved the first time..
So he was wondering…
“What if the plumbers I’d hired the first time had “lied” about their experience…”
Would that be okay?
It’s a good question…
The short answer is NO.
It wouldn’t be okay if they lied about their experience…
But on my end…
I never lied to clients.
Go back to the phrasing in my examples:
“Can you do this?”
“Do you know how to do that?”
And the answer would be:
“yes, I can do it” or “yes I know how to do this”…
Which was entirely true…
Because guess what?
I can read and follow instructions.
And there were plenty of instructions, blogs, videos, courses, etc. available for how to build a WordPress website or do SEO.
And even when a client asked “do you have experience writing for YOU NAME IT”…
My reply wasn’t: “Yes, I have experience writing for YOU NAME IT”…
My reply was: “I’m super familiar with that category and can crush it.”
So I basically answered their question differently…
With the assumption being: they don’t really care about my experience, they care about my ability…
And my answer was “yes, I have the ability to do this”…
Which was true.
I hope this distinction makes sense…
You can argue it’s a bit slippery…or that I’m being a bit of a “sophist” here…
But I think a HUGE problem lots of freelancers have when starting out is a lack of belief in themselves.
If you don’t have self-belief, then you’re constantly trying to disqualify yourself from opportunities.
“Oh no, I can’t write about XYZ because I’m not an expert!”
Here's the thing though:
Who the hell is an expert in XYZ though?
Literally your ENTIRE job, as a copywriter or marketer…
Is to understand a wide-array of topics/subjects/pain points/needs so well…
That you can then speak authoritatively to those things.
But you don't start off with that understanding…
It's part of your “discovery” process…
Something you actually get PAID to do…
Which is freaking awesome – especially if you are intellectually curious.
Your job is to give voice to the experts…not to be the expert yourself.
And with all that being said…
Let me go back to the question my friend asked me regarding plumbers.
Here’s how I replied:
“Hey, I put some more thought into your question about how I’d feel if my plumber did what I said I did.
Here we go:
Looking at the SEO example. From what I saw, if these clients on Upwork hired 90% of the SEO “Experts” out there, they probably weren’t going to get results. Lots of so-called “Experts” on Upwork were doing back-linking, or link spamming, not doing obvious stuff, and using outdated techniques. Meanwhile, I read articles, blogs, books, etc on SEO and saw that it really wasn’t that hard. Literally just check the boxes. I was smart enough to follow instructions and do what was supposed to be done. And it worked. I had personal injury attorneys ranked in the top 3 on Google in multiple competitive cities (which is HARD), I had a group of doctors ranked first on Google, I owned all kinds of keywords around crowdfunding, and I had multiple other victories. Honestly, I kind of miss doing SEO, it was so easy but also fun.🤩
Same thing with building websites on WordPress. WordPress made it very easy to build a website, so I was able to create sites that were significantly better than what most of my competition would have done. I saw these clients' existing websites and they were GARBAGE. I knew I could do better, and they were down to hire me. Especially since, let’s not forget, I wasn’t charging tens-of-thousands of dollars here lol. I was charging like $1,000 for a website. Maybe $3,000 on a great day.
For copywriting – when I looked around, I saw most copywriters in the forums and groups I’d joined bitching about clients. Complaining about work. Talking about how cool they were for getting money and then sitting around, waiting until the last minute to actually start writing. So I figured hey, if I actually work on this project each day, model off examples of what’s working, and really care, then I’ll probably give the client better copy than they would have gotten from someone with way more experience than me but who doesn’t give a *@#!.
For content writing, it’s the same thing as all the other things listed above. But this one is the easiest – because as a freelance writer, your job is LITERALLY to feign expertise in a wide variety of categories and topics, that way you can write about them.
Okay so how does this differ from a plumber?
I’m actually going to argue that it doesn’t.
It wasn’t like I was going out and applying for SEO jobs or Website Building jobs and lying about my experience.
Instead, I was getting copywriting and content-writing jobs…
And then after I’d nailed it for my clients, they’d often ask me: “Hey can you help me build a new website too?”
Or “hey can you help me with SEO as well?”
And I’d say “for sure!” and then I’d figure out how to help them.
To me, this is analogous to if the plumber came over and fixed a leak and then I was like: “Hey, my AC is making these weird sounds. I know I hired you for plumbing, but do you think you could take a look at that?”
If the plumber was very hands-on and technical and smart, they might go “yeah I can take a look.” And then they might see that it’s obvious the AC vent is damaged, and that’s why it’s making weird sounds…
And they’d see it’s as simple as unscrewing the vent and replacing it with a new one.
So they’d go “yep, I can fix it.”
In a case like that, would I be worried and freaked out that the plumber doesn’t have experience replacing AC vents? Nope, because I’d be like “he’s got a technical skill set and fixes stuff for a living.”
And in my case…
I had a marketing mind and was helping people to grow their business for a living. And I knew I was smart enough to figure the website or SEO out. So it wasn’t a big stretch to go from copy to something else, and my clients weren’t worried about it either.”
P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link