I started my freelance journey by studying direct response copywriting.
And even though my business quickly evolved away from direct response, I’ve always admired the profession.
Because if you can sell on paper, you can write your own ticket—as long as you’re willing to put yourself out there.
My guest today is a great example of this. Stefan Georgi is considered one of the top direct response copywriters in the world.
Since he started copywriting in 2011, Stefan’s words have grossed over $700 million in sales for himself and his clients.
In today’s podcast episode, Stefan shares the story of how he migrated to progressively better clients, raised his fees and multiplied his options for earning income.
Whether you’re a direct response copywriter, a content marketing writer or any other type of marketing professional, you’ll enjoy this conversation—and come away with an understanding of the mindset that drives these ultra-high earners.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
Tell us the story of how you discovered copywriting
Stefan was in Las Vegas when he sat next to a girl at a poker table who explained she was a copywriter. Stefan had to Google the term. The two of them hit it off. He took a corporate job in South Florida, she came down to visit and ended up staying. (That girl later became Stefan’s wife.)
While Stefan was working long days as an outside sales job in the Florida sun, she was earning a thousand dollars a day in their air-conditioned home. He wanted to do that too.
Stefan started offering a service to write copy for sales pages. One morning, he woke up to $298 in his PayPal account from a client. He quit his corporate sales job a few months later.
Today, Stefan is one of the top direct response copywriters out there. He’s grossed over a hundred million dollars in sales for his clients as well as his own companies.
He also teaches copywriters and business owners how to scale their funnels, businesses and offers through the power of effective copywriting.
How did you balance the need to earn with the need to learn the craft?
Stefan did three important things when starting out.
- He modeled his work on what was working.
Stefan looked at top performing ads and used them as a model for his own writing.
- He took almost any work that came his way.
Not having a niche exposed him to different businesses and styles of writing. It helped him figure out what worked and what didn’t.
He made his focus experience and exposure rather than income initially.
- He quickly raised his rates as he found his footing.
Stefan started by charging $15 to 20 dollars an hour on Elance (now Upwork). Soon, he started going after prospects who were looking for more premium work.
A lot of his proposals were getting accepted, and no one was balking at the price. So he raised his rates to $30 an hour, then $40, then $50.
He didn’t worry about experience. He just kept raising his rates, waiting for people to say no. No one ever did.
Over time, he ended up getting so many referrals he stopped using the platform.
What other tools and sources helped you get better at your craft?
Stefan was lucky to have good clients who mentored him. They gave him feedback and pointed him to resources.
He also had a lot of practice.
Eventually, Stefan created his own methodology, called the RMBC method.
When did you start feeling like you know could take your business to the next level?
One of Stefan’s mentors shared with him the amount of revenue that his copy was generating $1M in revenue.
This was a huge revelation and validation of what he was doing.
What advice would you give to someone where maybe the results aren’t as visible?
Try to get whatever data you can from clients. Ask for testimonials.
Look for some kind of unique differentiator. What is your specialty? What are you the best at? Why do companies come to you? What do they say about you?
Find a reason or story that differentiates you. Explain why you have a greater mastery and are better at connecting with the market than other content writers.
Narrow down your area of expertise will help you command higher fees.
Are we moving to a world where, if we want to do well, we have to go beyond copywriting to consulting?
You should be consultative with your clients. But there are so many consultants out there, it’s easy to ignore them versus a great copywriter.
A client who truly understands the power of great copy will be more interested in a great copywriter than another consultant.
Direct response is underutilized and underleveraged. Stefan sees it going more mainstream.
He predicts you’ll see a broader application of direct response concepts that are proven to work around conversions, average order value, engagement, storytelling, connecting emotionally, etc.
More and more brands will start to apply them to their benefit.
What advice would you give an experienced copywriter whose hit an income plateau?
The first question to ask is why. Why are you stuck?
Is it clients? Positioning? Niche? You need to identify the source of the problem.
People can get a little bit passive when they’re stuck. They say they don’t know why they’re stuck. But if you push, they already have an inkling.
One good client can often get you unstuck.
If you’re in a niche that tops out at $10K for your service, you may need to shift to a different segment of that niche to find someone who will pay $25K or $30K.
Also, ask yourself if you even want to continue to be a freelance copywriter.
If you do, great!
But if you don’t, maybe it’s time to look for a new venture.
Stefan started his own company (and then more companies after that) because he hit a ceiling with what he could earn, even though he was making really good money.
Stefan does caution against thinking that starting your own agency is always the right move.
Agencies sound easy. You figure you’ll get people under you, you’ll take on more business and your margins will be higher. But often, you end up overloading yourself.
Marketing and sales is a great skill to have in building your own business. So think about ways you can diversify and apply your skills to other areas.
Tell us how you’re helping copywriters these days?
Stefan’s mastermind group: Copy Accelerator.
Stefan’s Facebook page: Justin & Stefan Talk Copy.
Stefan’s email list: https://www.stefanpaulgeorgi.com/subscribe/
Stefan also has a course called the RMBC method.
He also has a weekly podcast, called The Road to a Billion. Search for it on YouTube or iTunes.
By the way… whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:
1. Grab a free copy of my book.
It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here
2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.
I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected] and put “Case Study” in the subject line.
3. Work with me privately.
If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.