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What You’ll Learn In This Interview:
- How Dan Got Published On Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine And Other Sites To Build His Brand
- His Way To Full-Time Freelance Copywriting
- Discover What Two Social Media Sites He Uses To Find New Clients (Facebook Is Not Of Them)
- What Does A Normal Working Day Look Like For Dan?
- In The Interview Shares A Habit He Uses To Build His Copywriting Business
Find Out More About Dan Marzullo:
Read The Transcript:
Haris Halkic: Hi, there. Today we have Dan Marzullo, a copywriter from the United States, from Colorado, right? Thank you so much for taking part in the interview series, and let’s just start with your story, your background story, how you got into copywriting, basically.
How Dan Became A Freelance Copywriter
Dan Marzullo: Sure. Yeah, so right now I’m working full-time as a professional copywriter. So working with several different clients in different industries. We cover everything from healthcare and mortgage and finance, real estate. You name it, pretty much.
And my primary role and I create content to support the marketing efforts for different businesses. So typically what that looks like is blog posts, articles, advertisement copy, newsletters, good stuff like that.
So I got my start several years ago. I was … I kind of approached it from the fitness side of things.
I was running a fitness and health coaching and promotion and business, so I was doing a lot of writing for that, a lot of articles and things to just kind of grow the brand and promote what we were doing. And at the same time, while I was kind of doing that, I was a health promotions coordinator for a local company. So that’s kind of really what kind of drove the copywriting was I was doing … creating all the copy for their marketing materials. We were doing a lot of stuff to kind of educate their clients.
So a lot of email stuff and just written text to kind of spread awareness about different things we were talking about. And I just really kind of fell in love with that side of the industry. Really enjoyed writing and marketing. Those were kind of two passions that were starting to blend. So I kind of took a step back from that and started on the side part time doing some copywriting for some clients that I had found and just kind of slowly grew from there and compounded. And now I just kind of run that full-time. We work with different clients kind of across the US and around the world, too.
Haris Halkic: So and then did you have a job before that? Or were you always an entrepreneur and doing your thing?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, sure, yeah. So I did, when I was running kind of a fitness coaching business and then kind of while I was doing that, I was also employed with that local healthcare company, so I was kind of both at the same time and then just kind of pivoted from there.
Haris Halkic: And you just enjoyed copywriting and decided this is your path?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, I just, it just started growing, so I just kind of pursued that and then was able to kind of commit to that 100%.
Haris Halkic: Okay. And we basically, we met on Instagram, you could say. And I was looking through your pictures and I’ve seen your office, basically, your home office where you work, right? And so that’s really interesting to see how a copywriter works, where he lives and what he does. And how has that worked for you so far? Because I’ve seen you’re very active on Instagram.
Dan Marzullo: Sure, so how has Instagram worked, or what do you mean?
Haris Halkic: How has it worked for building your positioning or getting clients and building basically your copywriting career?
Dan Marzullo: Sure, yeah, so I would say social media has definitely been a huge part of kind of my strategy.
I’ve been able to build several relationships and get new clients from Instagram directly. And you know, LinkedIn, Facebook, so I make it a point to really stay active on there. I post some good-quality content regularly to just get more exposure, and yeah. Leads to new connections and opportunities.
Haris Halkic: So you actively approach businesses on Instagram, or you just share your story?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, so a little bit of both. Kind of documenting the journey, and then I would say a majority of the kind of business development outreach that I do is through LinkedIn. So that’s kind of how I find the majority of my clientele.
Haris Halkic: Okay, that’s also a great segue into the next question, which is how do you get clients as a copywriter? What are your favorite ways or the ways that work best for you to get clients?
How To Get Copywriting Clients Using Social Media
Dan Marzullo: Sure. Yeah, so there’s definitely a ton of different approaches, which I’m sure you know, and different things work for different people.
For me, my biggest priority is social media, so I focus on a lot of outreach on LinkedIn. So generating business, it kind of comes down to identifying people in my target market, which is usually marketing agencies.
I build a lot of kind of subcontract work for clients of agencies, so reaching out to them directly and building relationships and even seeing if they need help or extra support, is kind of the number one strategy that I use to kind of bring in new business and just learning how to utilize the search functions and being … get more prospect on LinkedIn. That’s kind of how I would kind of get most of those opportunities, I would say.
Haris Halkic: So you do some research on some companies. So you would just approach agencies, or what are maybe some steps that you could share? Because every second freelance copywriter I interview, they always say to me, “LinkedIn is one of the approaches I use and it really works.” LinkedIn seems to be something that you should definitely be doing as a copywriter.
Dan Marzullo: Absolutely.
Yeah, so essentially, I’d say the first step is really kind of really narrowing in and knowing who your target customer is so that you can kind of attack that on LinkedIn. If you just kind of go in blind and you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna work with everybody,” that’s great, but you can’t really put together a strategy to reach out to specific people and move forward.
So for me, it’s understanding exactly who I want to work with and then putting together that target customer profile, and then just doing some research and some due diligence to kind of get out there and find those people, connect with them, talk with them, engage with their content, and then try and set up a meeting. That’s always the goal is to get them on the phone and see if you can support them in any way.
Haris Halkic: Okay, okay. But it’s not just cold calling, cold emailing that you do. Or is it a part of it? Or do you just do it step by step and then get interested and then the content and just leave a comment here and leave a comment there basically?
Dan Marzullo: A little bit of both.
Haris Halkic: Both? Okay.
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, yeah. A little bit of both. I do some cold emailing. And then just LinkedIn connecting, and yeah. You can usually take the conversation from LinkedIn to email, so that way it’s not 100% cold outreach, it’s, “Hey, boom. I’m Dan, here’s what I do.” And then kind of connecting with them, getting their info, and then taking that conversation to email, and then hopefully getting a meeting from there.
The Secrets Of Getting Published On Forbes
Haris Halkic: And I’ve seen you, you’ve also … you’ve written for Forbes. And other high-profile, famous, let’s say famous, Websites. How has that worked for you for getting clients or raising your profile in a way, just become … yeah, getting known.
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, so I would say that’s just been crucial in kind of building my brand as an authority as a copywriter. So my biggest reason for writing for these publications is to kind of show that credibility right off the bat.
If you’re approaching a potential client, you say, “Hey, here’s what I do. Here’s my portfolio. I write for this, this, and that.” And you see those big brand names and kind of instantly builds that trust and that credibility so that they get excited to work with you.
So I’d say, yeah, I’ve gotten some clientele from some of those features, but the majority of the focus is just to be able to kind of build that credibility to get those clients to want to work with you versus the other writer, right? So …
Haris Halkic: Okay. So I suppose Forbes was not the first on your list? You had other sites before that and then you said, “Okay, I’ve already written for these sites, and would you be interested in publishing something from me?” Was that the way how you approached them, or say, “I’m a copywriter, want to write for you. I have this article already prepared.” How did you get published there? Because I guess it’s not that easy to get on Forbes, so is it?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, it’s tough. And so my first publication featured in kind of a major media outlet was Entrepreneur Magazine. And so really, I get a lot of those questions from writers. “Hey, Dan, I’d love to get an article in Forbes or Entrepreneur. How do I do that?”
It kind of comes down to doing the work to get out there and find those editors that are kind of in charge of featuring from different contributors and emailing them directly and reaching out with a pitch.
So a lot of times, like my first feature in Entrepreneur, I didn’t have a ton of awesome links from other publications yet, but I had a really good article topic that they wanted in their magazine. So if you can pitch them a really good idea for an article, that can really help you kind of get your foot in the door on that first one. So then once you do that, you can start approaching other ones and in that pitch for Forbes, for example, you can say, “Hey, I’ve already written for boom, boom, and boom,” and they’re gonna see that, and that’s gonna increase your chances even more of kind of getting on their radar.
Haris Halkic: And we’ve already talked about LinkedIn, but just one more question, because I looked at your profile, and you have a lot of great recommendations there. Is there a special strategy, or do you just ask every client that’s satisfied with your work, “Hey, would you recommend me on LinkedIn?” Or do you have a special strategy there for getting recommendations? Because I think if you’re already doing your approaching of new clients, new companies on LinkedIn, it helps to have maybe 50 recommendations, they’re like, “I guess it’s a good thing to have.”
Dan Marzullo: Exactly. Have a little bit of credibility. Yeah, honestly, I don’t really have a strategy for that. I just kind of, as I think about it, I reach out to clients and ask if they don’t mind leaving me a nice recommendation. So yeah, that was purely just kind of as it comes. I don’t have anything, any process that I follow to kind of get them. It’s just kind of a client relationship type approach.
Discover How Dan Learned To Write Copy
Haris Halkic: Okay. Okay. And how did you learn copywriting? Are there some resources you could recommend? Are there books? Are there teachers? Seminars, boot camps, whatever?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I’m pretty self-taught as far as copywriting goes. So I would say number one resource which most people are familiar with: HubSpot, definitely. They have some great different courses on inbound marketing, SEO, things like that to kind of help build that skill. So I would check them out. They’ve got some great resources.
Other than that, my favorite copywriter that I learned from and follow, Neville Medhora, he has some great stuff out there and he teaches other copywriters to be more effective in their writing.
And then other than that, just following social media content marketing authorities and learning different strategies from different people. I like to take different approaches to kind of build your own strategy behind what you’re doing.
Haris Halkic: And when you start a writing session, do you have a procedure that you go through? Do you have some basic steps or do you meditate before writing or something like that? What’s a way you prepare for writing? How do you start?
Dan Marzullo: Sure. So it’s, yeah, it’s nothing super structured. Usually kind of starts talking one-on-one with the client and figuring out, okay, what are we trying to do with this piece? If we’re writing an article, what’s the goal? Are we trying to drive some conversions for a product? Just bring more awareness? So kind of really getting the details of what they want the piece to accomplish, and then kind of going from there, so a lot of times that’s doing some keyword research to figure out what we’re gonna put in that article and then typing up a short kind of basic outline. And then just kind of getting to work.
I’m actually pretty old-school. I don’t … I write everything out on a notebook first. Like the whole article, and then I’ll transfer it and type it up online, but I just … I can kind of flow better if I just sit down with a pad and paper and just write away, and then kind of clean it up on the computer and do a couple rounds of edits and send it off to the client. It’s pretty straightforward.
Haris Halkic: Okay. So I’ve seen that on your Instagram that you do a lot of handwriting. Is that one of your secrets to success? Because a lot of copywriters swear that handwriting is the thing to do.
Dan Marzullo: Right, right. I agree.
Haris Halkic: It helps you? Did you do that when you started copywriting, when you started learning, or … ?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, I just … so I would start writing the outlines on paper, and then the outline kind of sparks the details, so you end up kind of writing the article while you’re doing the outline. And next thing you know, you have half of it on paper. So … And I’ve tried … Okay, writing the formal outline right on the computer, and it’s just … it doesn’t work as well. You’re slower and ideas don’t flow, for me anyway, as well as just scribbling, so …
Haris Halkic: Okay, but you hadn’t used it for your, let’s say, phase of learning copywriting, this whole thing where you put … take an ad or an idea or a sales pitch, sales meta, and you just write it out in your own handwriting? Had you used it or not? Because I have some copywriters who say it’s the thing to do, others who say, “I’ve never done it.”
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, yeah. No, yeah. I mean, if there’s like … if a client sends over kind of like a mock-up of, “Hey, we’re gonna run this banner ad and whatever and we need seven words of copy or whatever for it.” I’ll kind of look at the image or the design from the graphic designer and then just kind of start sketching things up on paper and writing it out and then once I get kind of something good, then I’ll kind of transfer that over to the computer.
Haris Halkic: Okay. Great. And do you have a favorite copywriter or maybe piece of copywriting that you really like or admire or something like that?
Dan Marzullo: From me or from somebody else?
Haris Halkic: From somebody else. It could be also one that you wrote that you’re really proud of, if you have one, sure.
Dan Marzullo: Sure, yeah. So I would say from somebody else, I’ve got it over here. What’s it called? It’s … oh, yeah. So Neville Medhora wrote a really simple book that was … it’s literally just called “How to Write Better.” And it’s probably, I don’t know, maybe 30 pages tops, and it’s just super basic and to the point, but I mean, it’s really kind of the best outline to kind of follow when you’re kind of developing a process.
Haris Halkic: Okay, cool.
Dan Marzullo: Yeah.
The Lifestyle Of A Freelance Copywriter
Haris Halkic: And could you maybe talk more about your lifestyle as a freelance copywriter? What makes it so special and how’s a normal working day, writing day, for you?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, sure. So yeah, my day-to-day is pretty straightforward. It kind of varies a little bit depending on what projects are going on, but typically I always start the day just before 5:00 AM and go right to the gym, get my workout in and done so that I can come home and focus on work the rest of the day.
I think that’s super crucial for just kind of starting the day energized and being productive, as you know, get your heart rate up and get a nice workout in. So that’s kind of step one.
And then I try to reserve … mornings are more creative stuff. It’s usually business development type things, or if I have an article to write, start drafting that up right away before the tasks kind of start bogging you down and your energy starts dropping, so kind of getting the most important things done first and knocking those out is usually my strategy.
And then as the day progresses, tackling things that require a little bit less energy or mental focus. It totally depends on the day. Sometimes I’ll quit 5:00. Sometimes 7:00. Sometimes 9:00 if we’re trying to hit this deadline or something’s going on. And then after that, it’s just pretty typical stuff. Just kind of finish off the work day and just kind of unwind and decompress a little bit for the rest of the night.
Haris Halkic: Okay. Okay. And if you had to name a habit that has contributed to your success more than any other, if there’s one, would you say it’s this way of organizing, structuring your day, or is it something else that you do that really works for you?
Dan Marzullo: I would say for me, yeah. Making a conscious effort every single day to do a little bit of business development activities, so whether that’s an outreach or whatever. Just to kind of always keep that pipeline full, because you can get bogged up with clients and then you’re working, you have all these awesome projects and then boom. You lose a couple, and then next thing you know, you’re kind of … your schedule’s a little empty.
No matter how busy I am, I try to make sure every single day I do some of those activities so that I keep that revenue coming in and keep that pipeline full.
Haris Halkic: Okay. So you do that first, your revenue-generating activities? Is that the first thing?
Dan Marzullo: Typically, yeah. Typically.
Haris Halkic: Okay, great. Makes sense.
Dan Marzullo: Right. Right. Important stuff first, you know?
Haris Halkic: Right. And if someone wants to get in contact with you or wants to reach out and then hire you or get coached by you or … what’s the best way to get in touch?
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, so I would say definitely reaching out from my Website. If they just went to DanMarzullo.com, you can find all my contact info on there. That’s a great way to kind of learn more about me and what I do, and then kind of reach out if it’s something they’re interested in exploring.
Haris Halkic: Okay. Great. Great. Well, thanks so much, Dan.
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, no problem.
Haris Halkic: I like doing this, and thanks for sharing your tips on copywriting, basically getting clients. I think this is really helpful for the listeners and this is great. Thank you so much.
Dan Marzullo: Yeah, no. Thanks, Haris. I appreciate you taking the time and having me, and I hope … yeah, there was some value in there for some of the other listeners, so … sure.
Haris Halkic: Yeah, sure. Thanks.
Dan Marzullo: Alright. Have a good one. Thanks.