The Power Of Networking For Building A Freelance Copywriting Career – Chris Allsop

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Interview With Freelance Copywriter Chris Allsop – HarisHalkic.com

What You’ll Learn In This Interview:

  • What Exact Steps Chris Took Starting Out Freelancing And Learning To Write Copy Part-Time
  • Her Single Best Investment During The First Years
  • How Chris Starts Working On A New Client Project
  • How To Start A Promotion With An Interesting Story Even If The Product Seems Boring At First
  • What Tips She Has To Make It Through The Hard Times Of Building Your Copywriting Career While Having A Job

Find Out More About Chris Allsop:

Mentioned:

  • Clayton Makepeace
  • Dan Kennedy
  • AWAI
  • Weiss Research

Transcript:

Haris Halkic: Hello everybody. Haris Halkic here, and my guest today is Chris Allsop, a freelance copywriter from Canada who specializes in copy for financial and business opportunity marketers. So, welcome Chris. It’s great to have you.

Chris Allsop: Thank you, Haris. It’s really great to be with you too.

Haris Halkic: Thanks a lot for agreeing to share sound tips on copywriting and your background story. So, that’s the thing I would like to start with. Please, tell us more about your story and how you got started in copywriting.

Chris Allsop: Well, I’ve got quite a varied background in that at one point I was working for one of the natural resource agencies in Ontario, Canada, which I’ve worked in tree planting program. I managed conservation areas. Then, ultimately, I worked at a university, University of Windsor.

Where I did fundraising for primarily engineering, and the faculty of engineering that they have there. So, I’ve got a pretty wide, I guess you could say, a wide background. I really don’t have a reason, other than that, I saw a letter that many people in Canada and the U.S. had seen that came from AWAI that said, that talked about the opportunity there is in copywriting.

I saw that letter, and I thought, “Wow. This is interesting.” And, I went to, AWAI holds an annual event every year that they call their bootcamp, and I went to that. I saw real people who were in copywriting. I saw what the business was about, how people, just all the different ways that people work in copywriting, and I guess you could say I was excited, and I thought, “Wow. I wanna do this, too.”

So, I started by taking AWAIs course in copywriting and just continued from there. That was how I got started.

Haris Halkic: That sounds great. It sounds like a great story. How did you manage this transition, because for somebody who is used to an employer and trying to become a freelance copywriter, this might be hard sometimes. Do you have any tips on that for somebody who’s maybe still employed and wants to start this journey of freelance copywriting?

Chris Allsop: Oh. Wow. I could probably talk for half an hour, but I will say this because anyone who works full time, and I know that you do, Haris.

How To Start Freelancing And Learn To Write Copy Part-Time

It is not easy to come home every night and work. Some nights you absolutely just can’t for whatever reason. You get home late. There’s your family. There’s all kinds of things. I guess there is a few important things, but important thing number one is that really, you really have to want to do it. I can’t put it any other way.

I got bit by the bug, if you will, when I went to bootcamp, and I saw that there were real people doing this, that other people had built a business on the side, that there were some people, copywriters, who were extremely successful. It just kind of woke up the entrepreneur in me, and it gave me the drive, which you really have to have.

Because it can be pretty hard sometimes to come home and have to work when you’ve worked all day. But, when you have that goal, and you can see the prize, and you keep, occasionally, you let yourself see that prize again, that helps you to stay motivated.

I just started out learning. Then, I gave myself small victories, if you will, doing small jobs with local businesses.

And, at first, I did a couple of them for free, because I just wanted to see if I could do it, and I could help them, and if I could apply everything that I had learned.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t sure if i had the confidence to say to somebody, “Please, pay me” when I was just starting out. So, I did that and I saw, “Yeah. I can do this.” So, I went on from there and started charging a little bit, and I also, AWAI, at their bootcamp every year they have a job fair, and they have many companies that offer spec assignments, as they’re called, where you do some work, maybe write a headline and a lead. You do that on spec, or for free, and if they like it, they’ll hire you, and I got a couple of small jobs that way.

So, I just kept building like that, and it’s hard, I will agree. When you’re working full time, you’re trying to work on copy jobs, and you’re also trying to learn and get better, too.

So, it’s a real balancing act, a real balancing act, and I just took it one step.

Then I would reinvest money back in to go to, let’s say, a seminar about video sales letters or a seminar with Dan Kennedy about information marketing.

Then, I would learn from that, and then apply more and just keep going, and I just kept expanding into different niches and working with different types of companies and just built my business step by step.

You Don’t Even Need A Website To Do This!  – Networking Is The Key

Haris Halkic: How did you approach the local businesses? Did you go to the business or a restaurant, for example, and ask them if you know, if they need a copywriter or someone to re-write their copy? Or, did you do it by cold calling?

Chris Allsop: In my case, I networked, because many communities, at least here in North America, and I’ll bet possibly in Germany or in Europe too, they have business organizations, networking events, different things like that, and I just networked at a couple of events like that, got to know people. For example, a couple of them were coaches, and I offered to rewrite their website and I helped them with some content. So, that they could have free content to give away on their website and get email needs, for example.

So, that’s how I found people. But, I also asked business owners that I knew. For example, I did work on a website, and it was a big project, for my financial advisor. So, I noticed her website needed a lot of work, and I talked with her one day about marketing and how she did her marketing, and we agreed that she would hire me to redo her website, and which I did and it was a great project for me.

Then, you ask those people, “Is there someone else that you know of who might be interested in having me work for them?”

Then, they recommended me to other people, and that was one way that I got into writing. Now, another way, though, that I haven’t used as much, but I know people have been extremely successful with it, is finding clients through LinkedIn, and just providing comments and helpful information to people, sharing of small reports that can help business owners in whatever niche you wanna focus in.

There have been people that I know that have had great success doing that too. So, there are many different ways you can use to approach to get clients. Another thing that I did that worked very well for me, I mentioned that early on I would reinvest some of the money that I earned to go to a seminar. For example, one of the seminars was, I took Dan Kennedy’s information marketing seminar, and in that seminar we were told to bring copy and Dan put you on a hot seat, and he critiqued it and told how to promote yourself better.

As a result of that, a couple of months later, I got a phone call, or an email from someone, and I’m thinking “Who is this person?” And it turns out that they were looking for a copywriter, and Dan Kennedy had recommended me to do their writing.

Haris Halkic: That’s amazing.

Chris Allsop: Yeah, it was amazing. They were a wonderful client for me for a long time, I’ve kind of gone, I guess you could say gone on, I’m a little bit too expensive now for them, but they were a great client for a long, long time. And that was just because I went to a seminar, I put myself out there, got critiques on my copy, which is always a little scary, and he made that recommendation.

So, you never know sometimes where you’re going to find clients, and a lot of times it’s that networking and meeting people and putting yourself out there. It’s all important.

Haris Halkic: So, it’s through … the main way how you get new clients, through recommendations and networking? Or is there anything else you are doing to get new clients?

Chris Allsop: For me, right now, I’m just networking and working with clients that I already know. Maybe I’ll backtrack a little bit and tell you my story. Two years ago … Let’s go back even further. About four years ago, I won a spec assignment with Clayton Makepeace, and that’s how I got into financial publishing, copywriting for financial publishers.

Two years ago, Clayton, at the time was working for Weiss Research, and he put out a call for copywriters to work with him in-house. I said I was interested, and I was hired. I ended up working half in the Weiss Research office and half from home. I got to work with Clayton, and I, of course, got to get a lot of training from him.

Weiss Research, in December, half of the division was sold, and that was the division that I was working in, so I left along with quite a few other people. I also had been working with Money Map Press, a team from Money Map Press, which is another financial publisher. We finished up that project, and I am just now working with clients that I’ve worked with in the past. Plus, I have a couple of new clients that I’m looking at once I finish up this project. Then those people came to be based on recommendations from other clients.

It’s kind of like a network, and it’s especially like a network in certain industries. Financial publishing’s one because there aren’t as many copywriters in financial publishing as there might be in other industries.

So that’s how I promote myself right now. I don’t even have a website.

Not saying that I’m never going to put one up, but right now that’s working for me so that’s how I’ve been doing it.

Haris Halkic: It’s amazing that you don’t need a website. That you have enough clients that don’t even need to bother with a website. That’s really cool. I like that. You talked about how you invested some of the money you made with copywriting, that you invested that into seminars and products to learn the art of copywriting. That’s something that I really liked. Is there anything that you could define as the one single best investment you made, be it a product or maybe it’s something you did?

Chris Allsop: Good question. I guess, probably the best investment I’ve made was joining AWAI’s Circle of Success. That was a real good basic foundation. And it also, when you’re a Circle of Success member, you get to attend other special seminars at a reduced rate. So it enabled me to get all kinds of basic fundamental learning, and also I was more able to attend live events, special seminars like Clayton Makepeace’s Video Sales Letter conference. And Dan Kennedy’s Information Marketing program. All of those have been very important to me. They’ve had a building effect, but the number one thing it was all based on, I guess, was the Circle of Success program that AWAI has.

Haris Halkic: That’s really amazing because I’m also on their list, and I read all the stories of successful freelance copywriters, and their stories how they get started. It’s so inspiring to actually be able to interview one of them like you. I’m really grateful for that.

Chris Allsop: Because I’ve stayed in contact, I usually go to bootcamp, their bootcamp, every year, I’ve developed quite a few friends. I can tell you many who have become very successful, and they started just like I did. And/or they actually did copywriting for a while, and then moved into doing a whole new business or something. They used their writing to take them into a whole new business. So it’s very interesting.

There are many pathways you can take to learn copywriting, to get into copywriting, and then to use it.

And that’s kind of the beauty of it. There’s no rules about how you have to go about it. You can do a lot of different things.

Haris Halkic: Yes, absolutely. Did this transition from employment to freelance copywriting, did it happen … How long did it take you to make this happen? Was it something that went on gradually, or was it something that happened overnight with a large copywriting gig like many people imagine? Maybe that happens too, I don’t know. But what was that experience for you?

Chris Allsop: For me, I left my job at the University of Windsor to actually go to another job, but that job was in copywriting, so I was working as a copywriter for Weiss Research for about two years, and then my position, when they sold the division. But so I was kind of put right into freelance that way, but I was pretty much ready to go into freelance because I had built the experience and the clients.

So it wasn’t a big issue for me just because I had such a nice group of clients to turn to. I was ready to go out and do it. Sometimes you … And I do know other people who have built a business on the side. They quit their job when they knew, “Yeah, I can make about the same amount of money if I go full-time now, or possibly make more money if I go full-time now.” A lot of people do it that way.

Haris Halkic: When you start writing for a client, for a new copy, are there some steps you do? What is it like when you start a writing session? How do you prepare for it?

How To Finish Client Projects Successfully 

Chris Allsop: That’s a really good question because I would say a good bulk of a writing project really is in the preparation and the research. I always start, if it’s a new client, I, of course, start with getting to know the client. I think every freelance copywriter, this is really important, to get to know the client. What do they like? What are their needs? How are they marketing now? Because ultimately, you can become far more valuable to your client if you understand marketing funnels and processes, and that type of thing. That you can make suggestions to them and possibly even say, “And I can write the copy for that, too.”

It’s that one step at a time, but you can always begin in getting to know clients and what they’re doing and why, it’s a great thing for you to do.

So that’s step one. And then you can have the goal, like I said, to help them with their marketing, but that can be a goal a little further down the road.

Step two is, of course, if you’re working with an editor of a newsletter, or if that’s what you’re promoting, or you get to know the editor. Whatever your product or service is, and then it’s lots and lots of research. And I mean Google, libraries, looking at similar books or topics in books on Amazon. Going and looking, walking through a bookstore and looking at magazines that might be in the niche that you’re working on, everything.

And just collecting ideas, both ideas for your promotion, the hook, the big idea for your promotion, you’re looking for proof. Looking at the language that the audience, that you might be writing to, what kind of language do they use? More importantly, what’s their pain points? Where are they afraid? What are they waking up in the middle of the night really worried about? And how can you look at helping them with … end that pain if you will, and when I say pain it could be fear of losing money too, right?

You want to help them in any way you can in that, so the more you understand where they are afraid, hurting, all of that, and how they word it, the better off you are. And then, of course, you need to, if you’re working let’s say in alternative health and you have a supplement, you really need to look at every ingredient almost of that supplement to find not only information about it, but is there an interesting story that I can open my promotion with?

So, research I guess, bottom line is next step, and it’s really key.

And after that, then I try to come up with some ideas and more than one idea, that I’ll talk with the client about. It’s wonderful when the client … some client, some companies they may have a small group of people that they’ll talk to, which I like because it’s more minds sometimes reviewing ideas, the better.

And then when we nail it down to one idea, of course then I start with an outline and a lead and a headline, and make sure that the client is happy with that. And of course then I finish off the entire promotion. And from there, you move into collateral copy, which is the cart page, traffic driver, emails, and all of that kind of stuff.

Haris Halkic: That’s great, that’s great. I think the listeners will get a lot of value out of this, thank you. You already talked about Dan Kennedy and Clayton Makepeace, is there a copywriter that’s your favorite copywriter, or maybe even do you have a favorite piece of copywriting?

Chris Allsop: Yeah, that is a tough question, because there are some really great copywriters out there, and they all do things in different ways, and that’s really … it’s interesting to look at all of them, but if I had to pick one, I would have to pick probably Clayton Makepeace or Dan Kennedy. Both have had a huge influence on my career. Clayton especially, of course because he has … I worked with him, and he’s taught me a lot. So I would definitely probably have to say Clayton Makepeace.

Haris Halkic: When you look back at your copywriting career, and at the point where you’re standing there, is there a habit that really made the difference for you? That contributed to your success more than any other habit?

Chris Allsop: Yeah, that … I think the most important thing is having goals in mind, and that would start with the goal of if you’re just starting out, I really want to learn how to do this, and I’m going to get through this course, and that’s my goal. And then just action steps to get yourself there. For me too, it was really important I think that I did go to bootcamp for AWAI, and I went totally cold. I hadn’t done any type of copywriting course, it was totally new to me. But when I went I realized, okay, this is something that looks exciting and interesting, and I really want to do it.

It kind of gave me the inspiration to keep going, and that was important too. But you definitely have to have a goal with I guess you could say some action steps, and also you have … especially if you’re working full time, you have to cut yourself some slack sometimes.

You have to understand that you may not be able to move as fast as other copywriters. There are some nights where you might be planning to write and something comes up and you can’t do it.

So you do have to give yourself a little bit of leeway, because a lot of things happen in life as we all know, and you need to be compassionate to yourself sometimes and say okay, couldn’t do it tonight, I am going to just … I’m going to go to bed early, and tomorrow night we’ll get back at it, or whatever, right?

All of that is important.

Haris Halkic: So, being disciplined and having self-discipline, but not putting yourself under pressure. That’s what I will take away from that, yes?

Chris Allsop: Yes, absolutely, exactly. I think you summed it up very well.

Haris Halkic: One last question, if someone wants to hire you or get in contact with you, or get mentored by you, what would be the best way to get in touch?

Chris Allsop: Well, since I don’t have a website right now you can reach me on LinkedIn, or probably through my email, which is Chris@ChrisAllsop.com.

Haris Halkic: Chris, thank you so much, I really feel inspired, and I feel like getting back home from a bootcamp or a seminar, or something like that on copywriting. So, you shared some great tips and it was really fascinating to learn more about your story. So thanks a lot.

Chris Allsop: You are welcome, and always keep in mind for you and our copywriting friends in Europe and elsewhere in the world, I know it can be tough to … Sometimes it’s a lot longer flights and everything else to get to some of these live events, but you can also go virtually too. They do have bootcamp now, for example they now offer it virtually so that you can attend by way of computer. So, something to keep in mind.

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