How to Grow Your Business After Specializing

Presented live on Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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Specializing or niching narrows your audience…

But it can actually help grow your business too – IF you do it right.

The truth is the real work starts AFTER you’ve chosen your specialty…

Because now you’ve gotta let the world know 1) who you are and 2) what you’re all about.

Special guest, Eman Ismail is going to share 3 steps you should take AFTER specializing…

So you can narrow your audience and grow your biz at the same time.


Introduction [00:00]

Joanna Wiebe: We’re promoting today Eman. Someone’s excited to see you here. She is here to talk with us today about how she has grown or freelance business from not a whole lot. Not a whole lot if we’re being honest.

From not a whole lot there to awesomeness. To feeling really confident and having a business. And an actual model, something to go forward with and build on. Oh, Shannon also said she loved your TCCNIRL talk.

Eman Ismail: Aww. Thank you.

Joanna Wiebe: I love those guys. Kira and Rob and everybody there. It’s a good time.

Eman Ismail: yeah it really was.

Joanna Wiebe: Right, are you ready to share with us?

Eman Ismail: I am ready. I am so excited to be here. Thank you for coming.

What to Expect in This Tutorial [00:57]

Eman Ismail: So, as promised, I am going to be talking about how to nail your niche. I’ve named this the copywriter’s guide to nailing a niche fast. But like Jo said, honestly, this is applicable to any and all freelancers.

No matter whether you’re a copywriter or not. so let’s get started. Before I kind of dig deep into this and introduce myself, I want to ask you if you have niched down or specialized? Actually, before I do, I just want to say I know in 10x Freelance Copywriter, Jo talks about niching versus specializing.

And Jo tells you not to niche in 10x FC, so I just want you to know, Jo and I are on the same page. I have called specializing, niching. So I’m using the terms interchangeably here. And so tell me, if you have niched or specialized already?

So A is a yepp! B is no, but I’m not sure I should. C is not yet, but I plan / hope to.

Joanna Wiebe: We are getting loads of As and now Cs, so it’s really torn between A and C. although there are a couple of Bs in there.

Eman Ismail: You know, you may be convinced by the time I finish.

Joanna Wiebe: Nice.

Eman Ismail: Oh Joanna says, Eman inspired me to niche to email. Oh, that’s amazing.

I love it. Okay, so let’s keep going on.

Building a Freelance Copywriting Business [02:21]

Eman Ismail: Hi, I am Eman Ismail. l, as Jo said, I am an email conversion strategist and copywriter. Over the past year, and not even a year honestly, probably eight or nine months, I’ve worked with some amazing brands. I’ve written emails for Being Boss, Interact – the quiz platform, Belinda Weaver, Copyhackers.

I’ve written an email for Jo over at Copyhackers. And Susy Ashworth, if anyone knows Suzy, a coach in the UK. Samar, Sheepers and I’ve also done workshops for Lloyds Bank. Today,I am really known as an email specialist. When people think about me, they think of email.

I run a Solely VIP day-based email copywriting business. I don’t do anything else anymore. I only have VIP days and email audits, I’ll get into that in a minute. I charge £3,250 and 4.5 day rate or $4.5k in dollars.

This quarter I made more than I made in an entire year at my old job, and the same applies to last quarter as well. Actually, I just did my tax returns and I was shocked to find my revenue from April to April, which is the UK tax year, has increased by 258%.

Right from last April to this April. So it’s been a really big year for me. I just had my first five-figure launch with an email list of under 1000 subscribers, which I’m super excited about.

But I’ve got to be honest and tell you that things will not always be this way, as Jo pointed out.

Back in September 2018 I just quit my full-time job to become a full-time copywriter. But then I was charging £15 an hour now I had a lot going on and I had my son, who was two at the time, and I was having to commute to my job.

When I was working a full-time job as a communications-almost-manager for a charity. I was commuting every day for about two and a half to three hours. It was really hard. I was getting home super late. I was out for 12 hours a day, getting home and my son would be asleep every single night.

I was just depressed. I was super depressed and I didn’t know how to make things better. I asked my manager if I could work from home a little bit more, he said no. So that was great. I asked him for a pay rise as well, because I was working evenings and weekends and just not being paid for any event and thinking this is kind of crazy.

To which he said you can have a pay rise, but not right now. I want to ask them for a seven-figure, he said you’re not quite there yet. And I actually went into freelancing and made the amount that I’d asked him from within about 11 months. So I am super proud of that milestone, because I showed him.

But you know at that point, I was still charging quite low. To the point that you know finding clients wasn’t an option and wasn’t it the difficulty sorry that was never the issue. The difficulty was the fact that I had all these clients and I had no more hours to work. But I still wasn’t making very much, so I had a lot of work to do there.

I actually worked with Belinda Weaver to increase my rates and she helped me do that which was amazing. However, I was still in the feast and famine mode. I kinda was just living in that mode. And I was like, I don’t know where I’m going to find my next client from.

So I kind of went on like that, until I got to December 2019 when I decided to specialize in email. I was super excited to do that because I’d fallen in love with email. But I positioned myself as someone who was helping six plus figure online business owners and ecommerce brands fire up their conversions. Evergreen their sales and turn fans into superfans.

But I had zero access to any six plus figure online business owners or ecommerce brands. And I had no idea how I was going to do any of this. Then Covid hit and I had very few clients. By May, I made a profit of $400 and that was my worst one by far.

Obviously, childcare closed, I was taking care of my son while I was working full-time. It was really difficult. But I kept on with the email stuff and by July, everything changed. Niching changed everything for me and when I’m looking back now it’s been less than a year that I have been truly working on this.

And I have rebranded as an email conversion strategist and copywriter. I am in the best financial position I’ve ever been in my life. Obviously there’s always more money to be made, but we’re working on that.

But you know the drastic changes that have happened over the past year, I think, can really only be attributed to me specializing and really focusing on one area which is email. For me, obviously it came with a whole load of hard work, which I don’t think I need to go into.

But when I really look back, I think it was niching that changed everything.

3 Steps to Take After You Specialize [07:32]

  1. Become your own client
  2. Control the narrative
  3. Streamline your services and processes

Eman Ismail: So, most people think about niching as the end. So you think, okay I finally picked my niche, this is the end. But actually it’s the beginning. There are so many talks and presentations that talk about how to pick your niche,how to choose it and the fact that you should have a niche.

This presentation isn’t going to do that. Today I’m going to talk about what to do after you’ve chosen your niche. So you can nail your niche and do it fast and well, pandemic or no pandemic

In this talk you’ll learn the three steps you need to take so you can nail your niche fast. The first one is to become your own client. The second is to control the narrative and the third is to streamline your services and your processes.

Step 1: Become Your Own Client [08:14]

Eman Ismail: Let’s get started on the first one, become your own client. Story time, Kenan and Kel was like my favorite thing in the world growing up, so I had to put them in here. I don’t think Jo remembers because she reviews so many people’s stuff.

But when I first decided to specialize in email I tried to free write my own website and I didn’t put much effort into it, honestly. I was working on other stuff and I was like yeah, this will do. I will just submit it, it’s not the worst thing in the world.

I mean I know it wasn’t amazing, but I know it’s not the worst thing in the world. Apparently it was. When Jo looked at this, she tore this copy to shreds. To shreds. One of the things that Jo said to me was you have put very little effort into this. And it was, it was true.

I’m so embarrassed right now, but it was true. I hadn’t because I was focusing on other stuff. Jo asked me why I wasn’t putting energy into my own work, but was into other things. And she also asked me why I was finding it so hard to write my own website. If I know my audience correctly,

I should find it very easy to write my own website.

It should be the easiest project I’ve worked on. So I went back to basics, I started from scratch. As if I were writing a website for a client. I started from the very first stage, doing research, went back to interview surveys, the whole shebang.

Now I have a website that I am really, really proud of. But this taught me so much. It taught me that your business and my business deserves your time and respect. You have to stop putting your business last, you have to start putting it first.

If you want to be successful in your niche, your business has to come first, even before clients. You need to hire yourself, as Jo teaches those in 10x FC because the only other option is to stagnate and make very, very little progress.

You need to block out time every single week for your own business, for your own business growth. And you actually need to stick to it. It’s one thing telling yourself okay I’m going to stick to doing two hours here and there, for my business, or every Thursday.

But you actually need to stick to it in order to see growth because this means to be consistent. I use theme days, thanks Jo, and I spend most of those days working on my own stuff. Fridays as well sometimes.

And because I have a kid, that kind of moves around, but I’m always making sure that I am spending a good deal of time growing my own business. I want you to remember, and if you don’t already know this, I want you to know that all your working hours should not go to clients.

You should be blocking out this time for yourself, and know that blocking out two full days for your own business stuff is not crazy. I am my own client, to the point that I have these folders in my Google drive. and so you know you go to my drive and I have active clients, 2020 / 2021 clients.

And then we have Inkhouse, because that is how much I am my own client. I’m currently working with Linda Perry and she said something that really struck gold with me. She asked are you staying in integrity with yourself?

Because it’s so easy for us to keep the promises that we make to everybody else, whether it’s our family, our friends, whether it’s our clients. When it comes to keeping the promises that we make to ourselves, we break them. And they’re often the first promises we break.

Do not break your own promises to build your own business. Because your business is the one that will suffer.

Step 2: Control the Narrative [11:46]

Eman Ismail: Number two: control the narrative. Jeff Bezos says that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. I say your niche is what people say you do when you’re not in the room.

Your job is to control what people say about you when you’re not there. So if you think you’re an email specialist but people are talking about your sales pages when you’re not in the room, you’re really not an email specialist.

You’re closer to being a sales page specialist. What can you do to make sure that people see you as the expert that you are in your specific field?

First, are you going to tell everyone what you do. Everyone. Like I said, when people think Eman Ismail, now they think email. I don’t talk publicly about the things that are not related to my niche. You’ll only ever hear me talking about email and that’s because I want people to get that message in their heads.

I do email. I don’t do anything else. I also say no to any other work that comes my way. And a lot of the work comes my way. Sometimes, I’m going to be honest, sometimes I’m still like, damn I really want to say yes to that. But you know what the great thing is?

I can say yes to it if I want to. But I don’t need to tell everyone else. I don’t need to tell the whole world that I’m working on stuff that isn’t email related. As long as my public facing thing is email, that’s what needs to happen.

All of this is because you attract what you talk about. So if I talk about emails, I’m going to attract email clients and email projects and speaking opportunities that revolve around email. If I’m talking about blogging and sales pages, that’s what I’m going to attract.

And then we get frustrated when we get clients asking us to do their blog posts or their sales pages when that’s not what we want to do. But it’s not their fault. If you’ve got blog posts in your portfolio, take them down so that people aren’t seeing the blog posts that you’re writing, if that’s not how you want to be viewed.

Give yourself the label before you’re ready, because if you don’t, no one else will. I did a big podcast interview for a podcast called Being Freelance, that’s big in the UK for freelancers. And I was not ready to call myself an email strategist and copywriter when I did this interview.

But I forced myself to, even though I felt like a fraud because I just had a label. I don’t even think I’d even had one email client by that point. But I knew that this was going out to a whole bunch of people and I needed to control the narrative. And if I did not give myself a label, nobody else would.

Last thing on this topic is to manage how people talk about you. So you can control how people talk about you by giving them the language that you want them to use when they’re talking about you. Whenever I’m asked to do any speaking opportunities and podcast talks, that kind of thing, I always send across my media kit.

It includes a short bio, a media bio for podcasts and a media bio for speaking events. This way I tell people how to introduce me so that the people listening know what I want them to know about me. Not what the interviewer or the host wants them to know about me.

Step 3: Streamline Your Services and Processes [14:42]

Eman Ismail: Third: Streamline your services and your processes. Avi web says, do they want your service or a service? I heard him say this, and I said oh my God, I need to write that down. It’s amazing.

Because the thing is, if you’re focusing on everything, you won’t do anything very well. So think about when clients come to you, are they asking you for a service? like are you what I like to call a McDonald’s drive thru, where you just offer anything and everything?

Or are you very specifically offering something? Does the client want your service or just any old service that anyone can offer them? What you need to do is pick two or three core services to offer. I mentioned that I only offer two services. I do all kinds of emails but I only deliver them as VIP days. Then the only other thing I do is email audits. Now, the great thing about niching or specializing is that you don’t have to be amazing at everything anymore. That pressure has completely lifted from you.

You need to be great at the thing that you are specializing in which takes a whole bunch of pressure off of you. And the fewer services and offers you have, the better you can deliver those offers and services.

Often, people say, well, I make less money if I only offer two or three services. The truth is, you are likely to make more, here’s why. Streamlining your services means you become an expert faster, because you’re doing the same things over and over again. You get to charge a whole lot more.

And love your work a whole lot more because you are no longer working on projects that you hate or you don’t enjoy. Projects that you resent and you start resenting clients as well. That’s also the other great thing about niching. You save a lot of time and you learn to write a whole lot faster again because you are doing the same things over and over again.

Last week, I did £2000, nearly $3,000 worth of work in about five hours because I had done it so much I could just do it quickly. It also means that you can better qualify potential clients. I get on very few sales calls a month, but I know that when I do get on them, I’m likely to close the ones that I do go on.

The last time I checked it was something like two out of every three sales calls I get on, I close. But I only have like four or five sales calls a month. I have a lot more inquiries than that, but I say no to.

Probably like 80% to 90% of people that get in touch with me, I don’t even get on a call with them, because of my rates. Because I’m an expert, and I can charge more, I don’t need a million clients a month. I need three for a great month and four for a let’s party month.

When you streamline services, you have simplified processes and systems that means a better customer experience. That means you can charge higher rates because remember your clients aren’t just coming to you and paying you higher rates for the copy that you deliver. It’s also the entire experience that you provide.

Summary [17:50]

Eman Ismail: So the three steps to nailing your niche fast are to 1) become your own client 2) control the narrative and 3) streamline your services and your processes.

The last thing I want to leave you with is that you will never feel ready, but you have to do it anyway. And I mean there was just so much that I wanted to include in this. Like so much, I feel like there’s a digital product in here somewhere. It’s coming eventually. But I couldn’t fit everything inside. So what I’ve done is I’ve created a bonus step that tells you a bit more about how to get new clients in your new niche.

So if you want to go get that bonus, go to

Joanna Wiebe: Thank you, and thanks everybody for coming out for participating so well in chat and asking so many unanswered (sorry) questions. We will see you next Tutorial Tuesdays, which is our last one before we go on summer break.

So we’ll see you next week to talk about LinkedIn ads. Crazy! Thanks, Eman. Thanks everybody thanks, Ange. Bye. Have a good week.

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