How to get paid to write proposals with Val Geisler

Presented live on Tuesday, July 2, 2019

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In this live Tutorial, Val Geisler will share her cure for the common proposal. Val’s an in-demand email copywriter. Last year, she worked her butt off in The 10x Freelance Copywriter and built her authority like a champ… and now she’s running a fast-growing email agency with clients like Podia and Beacon. 

In today’s live tutorial, she’ll show us:

  • How she’s “charged for proposals” by replacing proposals with paid audits
  • The steps she takes to prep for and actually conduct audits
  • How she uses her post-audit recap call to pitch her services

Val will even share how she uses audits to know if she should walk away from future work with a client. 

Check it out below – it’ll be an incredibly high-value use of 20 mins.
And check out the audit questionnaire that Val uses with her clients here.


Wiebe: So
Val is going to be sharing some cool stuff with us right away. We
have our 20-minute guarantee, so we’re going to hop right into that.
Val, are you ready to talk about freelancing awesomeness?

Geisler: Yeah.
For sure. I want people to make money.

Wiebe: Yeah.
I think that’s a good goal. Cool. And you were in the 10x Freelance
Copywriter last year. You’ve been doing badass stuff before that and
since then. Things are going awesome.

Geisler: Yeah.
It was, it changed my business being in that program.

Wiebe: Awesome.

Geisler: Yeah.
And everything I’m teaching today is like a conglomeration of
everything I’ve ever been taught from different people, and how I’ve
applied it into my business and how it’s been successful for me, and
it’s what I teach now. So this is nothing new, or revolutionary, or
life changing in the way that’s like something I came up with. But
it’s something I use every day, or every week, that works all the
time. So I wanted to pass it on.

Wiebe: Yeah.
I’m stoked to hear about it. It’s not something that we teach in the
10x Freelance Copywriter, so I think it’s going to be a really cool
add-on for anybody who’s in it, or considering joining as well. So,
let’s see. Take it away, Val.

Geisler: Okay.
So, we’re going to talk about doing paid discovery. And for those of
you who don’t know anything about me, I am an Email Marketing
Conversion Copywriter and Strategist. I founded the Email Marketing
Masters Incubator, where I teach copywriters to do exactly what I do.
Because there aren’t enough people who focus on email. I’ve worked
with clients most recently like Buffer, Crazy Egg, AccessAlly, a
bunch of others. The reason I mention these particular clients, it’s
because I’ve done this audit for them. It’s a really valuable piece
of material you can add to your list of offerings.

really passionate about freelancers getting paid well for their work.
Too many people spend hours, and hours, and hours on proposals. I
have people come into my incubator and say like, “I spent six
hours on my proposal and it never works out.” That just breaks
my heart, so I want to fix that for you guys.

want you to get paid to write proposals. You shouldn’t be spending
all that time without getting paid for it, and there is very little
that I do in my business that I am not getting paid for. I have a
pretty fierce intake process, so if you want to work with me, fill
out a very long form with lots of detail, and that gives me an idea
if it’s a good project or not. And from there, then I book a
20-minute call, and that’s the max that I’ll do is a 20-minute call
to see if we’re a good fit. From there, it’s an audit, and the audit
is how we discover what goes on for the rest of the project, or if
there even is a project to be done after that.

do have to give me a lot of information coming into the audit, so
they want to be prepared. Typically audits are done, again, I’m
coming at this entirely from an email perspective, but you can do
this with websites, with funnels, really anything where there’s copy.
Quite honestly, really any kind of freelance or business. I know
videographers who do audits. I know podcast coaches who do audits. So
audit, paid discovery, whatever you want to call it, they have to
come into it with something in place for me to actually audit.

of my students work with people who are really young, or new in their
business, and so they don’t have an established funnel of emails set
up, and that’s what they want to work on. So there are other things
you can do in paid discovery, it might not necessarily be an audit of
existing emails. But maybe you’re doing a little bit of customer
research, researching their brand, their competitors, things like
that. But you should be paid for all of that time. You can definitely
sell paid discovery and audits at a variety of price points. Yeah,
Todd, paid discovery does equal audit, it just kind of depends on
what your area of expertise is. I do audits, because it’s email and
because I work with people who have established email typically
onboarding. So they have an onboarding that’s in place, but they know
it could be better. So I’ll go in and audit it, and see what needs to
change, what my recommendations are, and make actual recommendations
for them in the audit. Then the audit is followed up by a proposal
for paid work, if that is applicable.

the case of paid discovery, that might look like if they don’t have
something in place, maybe they don’t yet have an email funnel, or
they want to sell a course for the first time and they’re hiring me
to write their landing page. When you still want to do some paid
discovery around their brand, around their audience, their
competitors, the course itself, the content of the course, to know if
this is a project that you want to work on. So kind of everything
that you might be doing, plus a little bit extra, if you aren’t being
paid for this work. Think about all the things you do to get a
proposal ready, and then add some like bonuses onto that, and that’s
your paid discovery or audit.

first thing you want to do to do these audits, that last one I was
showing you is have an intake form. Have an audit questionnaire. I
actually have, at the end of this I’ll share a link, where you can
get the questionnaire I use. So you’re going to get a link to the
type form that I send to all of my clients, you can use that as a
baseline, make changes, it is pretty in depth. I’m asking a lot of
questions of them upfront.

want to get access to any relevant Google Docs that they have, so
that looks like tone and voice documentation they might have, blog
posts they’re really proud of, emails that they’ve written in the
past depending on, again, what kind of copywriting you do, you’ll
want to get access to any relevant information. And heads up, as we
all know with Google Docs, when you’re booking these audits, make
sure that you can access the Google Doc before the day of your audit
starting, so that when they fill out your intake form, go ahead and
click through with Google Docs, make sure you have access, so that
the morning of you sit down to do the audit, especially if you’re not
in the same time zone as your clients, just make sure you’re
prepared, so that you’re not asking them at the last minute for
access to those documents.

access to their ESP, their Email Service Provider, if you’re auditing
emails. Get access to their Google Analytics if you’re auditing
websites. So think about all those things that you would need for a
project and get access to those. Funnel management tools, maybe they
use Funnelytics, or Deadline Funnels. Really, those resources that
you would put together for a project, get them for an audit.

also do a full masters services agreement as far as contracts go at
the time of the audit that covers any future work that we do. I do a
separate smaller agreement for an actual project, but I send them a
contract that covers all of our work, so that way we’re covered,
we’re ready to go should they want to do a project. Then, the next
step of the audit is to do a sales safari.

is something I’m typically doing while they are gathering information
in their type form, or giving me access to all those things. It’s
something you can do a little bit in the background before you have a
lot of those details from them. But, the details help. So you want to
go into Facebook groups, or LinkedIn groups, if you have access to
certain Slack teams, places where their customers are hanging out. So
the sales safari is we’re looking at what their customers are talking
about, how they talk about the problem that your client is trying to
solve, a lot of the discovery work that we do as copywriters, you’re
doing in an audit as well.

necessarily to turn anything over to your client, you’re not creating
a huge research doc, but just using it as a good sweep of having that
knowledge and background going into the audit. Look at some keyword
comparison tools if you’re doing website pages, I don’t do those
because there’s no such thing for email. Amazon, [inaudible 00:09:29]
talks about Amazon reviews. Amazon reviews are a gold mine for
information, especially if your client is an author, and you can look
at book reviews. Competitors pages, existing customer research that
they have. You want to do all of that, look over all of it. Give it a
good sweep, it’s nothing to be in-depth.

was watching a video I did for the incubator last time, and told
them, this shouldn’t take more than an hour to go through all of
these things and just get a good idea of the brand. Then you want to
record your insights. I do a real quick overview in just a Google
Doc. Everyone does it differently, but I like to just take notes
without worrying about formatting or anything like that, throw them
all into a Google Doc, and then I go back and reform it into a
document later, which I’ll show you in just a second.

now it’s time to do the actual audit itself. As you are prepped, so
you have all those insights from all the access to everything, all
the sales safari, you have your notes doc started, now you’re going
to dive in and do the actual audit. The audit is going to look
different depending on what you’re doing. When I go into emails, I
log into their ESP, I have from them the sequence that we’re going to
go through. So my audits have a maximum number of emails. You might
say, “I’ll audit three pages on your website.” Or, “2,000
word blog post.” Or something like that. You know, you put your
limitations on it, but definitely set those limitations, because I
didn’t have them, and then I was slammed with a like 30-email
sequence, and wasn’t anticipating auditing 30 emails for that price

definitely set your boundaries on your audits. I go into the sequence
that they’ve indicated. I look through every single email. I make my
notes in that document, just kind of high level, I go through, I look
at subject lines, click-through rates, open rates, the actual
content, what’s inside, calls to action, format, all of those things.
I make overall notes for the entire sequence, then I make notes for
each individual email. It’s going to look a little bit different
depending on what you’re doing. But that’s how I do it through email.

I have all of my notes compiled, then I create an audit doc. This is
a mostly complete screenshot of what a audit doc looks like. I do
them in Google Slides, but you can do them however you want. I used
to send an Airtable document, I do this along with a video. I’ll show
you that in a second. But this is basically just laid out in a PDF, I
do emails, so I take screenshots, and I highly recommend, as you do
the audit, you grab some screenshots of what you’re talking about, so
that they aren’t looking at your audit document and clicking back and
forth through their website, or through their emails. Just make it as
simple as possible for them to follow along with what you’re talking

I grab screenshots of the email that I’m referring to, and I line
them up on each page. You can kind of see in this bottom one that I
do in-app messages too. And so sometimes I’ll group those together
depending on the content and the feedback. I look at different
sequences in some cases, like this was a conversion [inaudible
00:13:02] only had four emails. So I looked at those. I make
recommendations on where I think they need to add, what can come out,
so they had a couple of different sequences in this particular case.

also send a video. So I use Loom to record all my videos. Everybody
has different opinions about Loom, but use a video recording tool of
your choice. Record a video, preferably of your face along with you
walking through everything that you’re talking about. So you want to
go back and forth between, in my case, their ESP, their emails, and
the document that I’ve prepared. So I go back and forth, I read
through every email, I explain every line item of what I’ve written
into the docs.

doc is intended to be high level overview. The video is more detailed
information. I, in this particular case, because they had lots of
shorter sequences, I broke it up. This would’ve been, if you add up
all these video times, it would’ve been like over 35, 40 minutes in
video. And that’s a lot for the client to process, and to have to go
back through, so make it, again, as simple as possible for them and
for you. You don’t have to rerecord if you screw something up on a
shorter video. So, I send them that.

other thing I like about Loom is that I get to see if they actually
watched the video. Because we do a followup call. And so I wouldn’t
know that they have watched the videos before the followup calls, so
I get to see that record inside of them.

last part of the document, after the audit, is pages are in place, is
to talk about next steps. So this is where I am pitching the project.
In some cases, the audit is, that’s it, they aren’t really ready for
a project, or they only have so many notes that they can really
handle it in house. I’m not going to waste my time, or their time and
money asking for a project that they really don’t need to do. I don’t
want to hard sell somebody on something they don’t need, so I will
tell them that. Next steps in that case would be, “Hey, I think
you can handle this in house, here’s the checklist of things you can
get done. If you really want me to do it, here’s how we can work
together on that. But I really think you can handle it.”

most cases, I am pitching a next step. So next step here, and you can
see this is only a couple of pages, so it’s not the majority of the
document, it’s not taking up a ton of space, it’s just saying, “If
you want to work together after this,” and I will say that when
I have the call with them to book the audit, I do mention like I will
be putting this into the document. So it’s not a surprise to them
like, “Wait, what’s this pitch for a $12,000 project?”
That’s not going to be a surprise to them, because they’re
anticipating it. So I tell them how we work, and what the investment
is, and what next steps are on their part.

the last page, this 30th page in my case, there’s a link for them to
book their followup call. So it’s another way that I know that they
actually reviewed the audit, is that they got to this last page, and
they clicked that link and booked the followup call. If they email me
and say, “Hey, can we book our followup call.” I think that
maybe they didn’t read all the way through. So always schedule a
followup call, and I do this way because it gives them time to digest
everything instead of live presenting the information, and them
trying to think of questions in the moment. They can review
everything, pass it around to their team, collate all their questions
in one place, and then schedule a call. That call gets questions
answered in five, 10 minutes. Then we spend the rest of the time
talking about the project and the next steps, and it really becomes a
sales call.

that followup call is all about how I can help them. And I want to
give you that questionnaire I mentioned earlier, so you can go to my
new brand that I launched recently, it’s and you can
go there, /tt, for Tutorial Tuesday, and add your name to my email
list, I’ll send you the link to get that questionnaire.

Wiebe: Yay,
that’s awesome. Thank you, Val. And you went through that so quickly
without it feeling rushed. That’s amazing. We’ve chatted out the link
to, or Tutorial Tuesdays. Awesome, people are
fangirling, Val, over here. Mandy says, “That’s great.” One
of the things though that I would like to ask you, I’m just going to

[inaudible 00:17:28]

in front of the line, is okay, it’s more of a
comment and looking for your thoughts on it. So a lot of people will
want to put together something like this, but when I look at yours,
it looks really professionally done, and it’s very thorough without
being overwhelming, like really thought through from the clients
perspective. Like the shorter videos, so maybe they can share those
videos around particular team members who need them. What level of
quality should people be shooting for? Because I think a lot of
people charge a small-ish amount for an audit, and then they tell
themselves they don’t have to maybe do that much. So thoughts on
quality, or any coaching on quality you want to give there.

Geisler: Yeah.
When I left 10X FC, my audits were 750. I was doing them in an Excel
spreadsheet, and I did the kind of one big long video. Each audit I
did, I kind of refined that process, and I eventually raised my
price. Audits are 1525. So I think the audit is also a really great
benchmark for how much projects are with you, and that’s really
important when you’re pricing. And they’re also, it’s your first
presentation. I put as much work into this now as I did writing
proposals. So the way that you think about, if I’m going to write a
proposal for a 12K project, I want that proposal to look really
professional and well done.

I will say that jump in and do them, because the only way that you
know what you want to include, what was missing from the last time,
is to do them. So I’ve iterated almost every time. This one that I’ve
shared with you is what been my go to for the last several months.
But it really was refined every time I did an audit over the last
year. And it was with that refining that I raised the price.

Wiebe: Awesome.
Okay, cool. People who are struggling to get to that page, sounds
like just give it some time and it loads. But it is, it’s working for some. Just a heads up, Val,
that’s not working for others. It might just be a bunch of people
going to that one landing page at one time. So, people are otherwise
saying, “Nevermind, got it.” So it will get there.

[crosstalk 00:19:44]


Geisler: [crosstalk
00:19:44]. Yeah, and if you run to any problems with the website,
then just ping me, I’m on Twitter, @lovevalgeisler. You can shoot an
email to hello@fixmychurn and we’ll get you set up.

Wiebe: Awesome.
Thank you, Val. Thanks for that. Thanks everybody for attending and
participating in chat, and asking such great questions as always.
Next week, we’re having Amy Posner in to talk about being a freelance
copywriter. We all love Amy, so that’ll be wicked. Val, again, thank
you so much. Carrie, thank you too. And we will see you guys on our
next Tutorial Tuesday. [crosstalk 00:20:22] bye.

Hryniw: Thanks,

4: It’s

[inaudible 00:20:30]


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