How to Look like the Pro Freelancer You Are (Lesson 3 of 4: Client Data)

Presented live on Tuesday, November 30, 2021

One of the reasons you might like conversion copywriting is its focus on research and data.

After all, if you’ve ever tried writing copy without research or without real data about leads and customers, you know what an absolute pain-in-the-a$$ guessing game that can be.

The kind that makes you question every life choice that brought you to this lowly state.

Only trick is…

To use research and data in your copywriting process…

You actually need your clients to hand over files and links galore.

The Excel files filled with raw survey responses. The links to UserTesting, and FullStory recordings. The PDF report their analyst put together of the pages with the highest conversion rates vs exit rates on their website. The breakdown of their acquisition funnel.

(To say nothing of their brand guidelines and editorial style sheet. Their internal persona decks. Their value proposition legwork. And all the dozens of reports, plans and even guides their marketing team is working on. All of which your brain desperately craves.)

Your client has them.

So why is it so hard for them to send you everything you need to do your job?

We’ll cover exactly that in today’s Tutorial Tuesday. This is part 3 of 4 in our mini-series about How to Look More Pro as a Freelance Copywriter.


View the lesson pack for this training here:

Lesson 1 of 4 of the How to Look like the Pro Freelancer You Are series

Lesson 2 of 4 of the How to Look like the Pro Freelancer You Are series

Lesson 4 of 4 of the How to Look like the Pro Freelancer You Are series

Introduction [00:00]

We’re going to talk though, precisely about one thing today, and that is the part of the process when you’re a freelance copywriter working with clients, and you need to get them to give you things.

Like, and I don’t mean money. That’s a whole other story. It’s a good story though, but I’m talking about when you need them to deliver to you the research that’s required for you to do your job. Or oftentimes we’ll do original research, as you should, very often. But other times they already have a bunch of stuff, and it’s not even always research. Sometimes it’s just like part of the research and discovery process, is the discovery side of things where you are learning about their business.

So you have to get them to send you their brand guidelines, if they have an editorial style sheet, if they have a report on what just happened in the last year, or a vision statement, or vision deck that the founder put together for what’s going to happen going forward. So it’s up to you to get those things.

And clients can get really excited about this in the beginning and then kind of just fail to give you stuff. So the real question is, why aren’t they giving it to me? And how do I get them to give it to me? And that’s what we’re going to tackle here today. And a lot of it does have to do with, again, the look more pro. So let me share my screen. I’m just moving monitors around right now.

So this is where you’ll see everything. You already saw this today when you said, yes, I’m going to join today. This is where we’ll put– So lesson one is in here, lesson two is here as well, and then lesson three will go in here. You can follow along if you would like to open up these Google Slides to look through them, just don’t edit them. I think you’ve only got View Only, so that should be OK.

Why is Your Client Withholding? [01:43]

So here we go, we’re diving right in again. This is lesson three of four. Why is your client withholding? Why are they keeping things from you? Why aren’t they giving you the stuff you want? This is my dog, Hunnybear and Hunnybear has real questions about why clients withhold. So she’s here to support us, and she’s like the greatest thing in the world. I know everybody who has a dog or a cat or anything is like, no mine is. And I get that, that’s fair.

Your Client Doesn’t Understand Why You Need This Information [02:07]

So why are they withholding? One of the reasons is obviously they just don’t understand why you need this stuff. So often when you’re working with somebody someone brings you in, right, someone hires you, and they’re so excited to work with you. But then they have to get back to their job and they say, oh, you’re going to be working with Susan on this, or Muhammad on this, or whoever that person might be. You’re going to work with them directly. Bad? Kind of, because that person didn’t buy into working with you. They might think, oh, it’s a copywriter. So we’ll give them some stuff to write. Like, do we give them blog posts to write, like that kind of stuff?

So you have a lot of educating to do with Susan or Muhammad. They just don’t understand. So you have to help them understand why you need this stuff, that it’s an important part of your job. And that has a lot to do with those earliest conversations in your kickoff call, are you having a kickoff call with all stakeholders? Are you standing up confidently and making sure that the right people are invited, and that they actually know why they should show up for that meeting, that kickoff call, so that they do.

If you don’t have that group buy-in out of the gate, everything else is going to be far more difficult. If you’re in 10x Freelance Copywriter you already know these things because we talk about the stuff all the time. If you’re not though, that’s why we have this tutorial for freelancers. So they just don’t understand why you need the stuff. It’s your job to help them understand that your value is not in wordsmithing.

Don’t even bring up wordsmithing or making things sound good or any of that stuff, because it will quickly devalue the work that you’re doing, even though all of that stuff is valuable, making things sound really good is really critical for getting that high converting copy to be read by your prospect. Even still, soon as they hear that, they think you’re creative, you’re a starving artist, et cetera, et cetera. So you need to make sure that they understand who you are, what. You do That’s step one. Another reason that they might not– or reason one.

You Haven’t Signed an NDA [04:10]

Another reason is that you haven’t signed an NDA yet. So oftentimes, like even with a brand new lead you might need research. So if you are again, a 10xFC, and don’t worry, this is not a sales pitch for 10xFC but if you’re in it, then you know that you have the 15-minute intake, the initial call with your lead, where you decide if you’re even going to work together or not.

Then you have your one-hour consult with them. Before that meeting you’re supposed to get research from them. You’re supposed to get any data that you need in order to have a really good conversation with them about what they need to do with you to get the results that they want. If you don’t have an NDA out there, they’re not going to send you stuff. Now it might be you’re like, oh, I do send an NDA, Jo. Cool.

You’re Not Making it Easy for Them to Sign the NDA [04:53]

Do you make it easy for them to sign that thing online?

A lot of people send me things and then I have to download it, I have to put it into my own signature tool and then go through the process of sending it back to you. That is a giant pain in the ass and that’s– Any conversion copywriter would know that is friction. You are trying to make it as easy as possible for your client to say yes to every single thing you ever want them to do. As soon as you start introducing friction, now it feels hard to work with you.

So make it really easy all the way through to work with you. And that is send that NDA along, make sure that it is in a form that they can actually sign it online without doing any work. That way, now they’re ready to actually share things with you. And because you look pro, they’re not scared to share things with you, you’re not going to let it get out there in the wild.

People are Busy [05:46]

Of course, they have to go get a bunch of people on their team to gather it up and those people are busy, so that can be a big barrier as well. And, of course, the final note is that you’re just not making it very easy for them to give you the stuff that they need to give you in order for you to do your job. My timer went off in the room. And Angela is working from home today and she’d normally come running through here to turn my light back on. It’s on auto turn off. But that’s OK.

And you don’t have Hunnybear at the office?

I wish, they don’t allow dogs in the office.

He can just go run around.

Oh that would be so– I mean, I’d get nothing done though. I would get nothing done. That dog is like, look at me, pay attention.

How to Make it Easy to Get the Data You Need [06:28]

So let’s move on then to how to make it actually easy for them? How do we do that?

Set Up a Client Portal [06:32]

Set up a client portal. I am shocked at how few client portal solutions there are out there.

And that’s one of the reasons Packs exists. We needed a place for the Copyhackers Agency side of the business, for clients to put all of the research that they were sending us and for us to put things that they needed access to as well, instead of just emailing things around or putting them in a Google Drive or something like that, because you can’t put links in Google Drive. That’s a problem. You can’t put links in a Dropbox. So where do you put all those important links that you have to share with your client and that they have to share with you?

So we want to make sure that we have a nice simple client portal set up for them. And then actually walk them through it. And it might feel like, oh, no client has time for that. Do this in that early meeting, in that kickoff call that you have with them, if you’re using this for a lead, where you’re still collecting research so that you can have that one hour call with them. Then walk them through this in that 15-minute call just really quickly. And that means having this ready to go which is part of being pro. You are always ready to handle these challenges with clients.

And they’re like, damn, that person’s organized. And then they want to give you more money and more work.

Give Them a Clear List of What You Need [07:43]

So in that client portal you want to give them a clear list of what you need from them. So this is part of making it easy for them. Don’t make me guess what you want, don’t make me think back to what you want, don’t even make me go refer to the email that you sent it in. Put it all in one place so that I can easily find it. And if it’s in a single link then I can share that in Slack with my team and go, hey guys, here are the things that I need, who can help me get this, and put it in that client portal.

Link to an NDA Your Client can Sign Online [08:10]

Make the first item in that portal a link to an NDA that they can sign online. Easy, it’s a link, they click it, they go read it, they sign it, it’s done. Now they can add in everything they need. And once you have this portal in place, it becomes the single source of truth for all of your work together. It’s where you put your research that you have as well. It’s where you put your recommendations report, it’s where you put your drafts of copy, it’s where you put your final copy. It’s where everything goes.

And now your clients always know when it’s time– like, where did that go, or where is that document that you sent, or does anybody have that results or that recommendations report you put together, or he put together, or they put together? It’s in that one link, your single source of truth, super-duper easy. So be sure to always put your files for them in that same portal.

Use a Thumbnail and “Calling Card” [08:58]

And then look more pro with a thumbnail, so actually make it look good, and a calling card so they remember who you are. And that’s one of the bigger things.

A lot of the stuff feels like, oh, that’s a no-brainer, of course I’d do that. But almost nobody actually does this work as a freelancer. So if you do, you look so much more pro than any other freelancer out there. To the end that even if you don’t have this great history of clients, even if you don’t have a portfolio to show, you look like you’ve been doing this a long time because you have all of these things sorted out. You’ve made their lives easier. It feels like, wow, this person must really know their stuff because look how easy it is to work with them.

So this is one of those shortcuts in overcoming a small portfolio if you’re really, really new to the game, or if you’re just getting back into it, or if you have a lot of experience but it’s from working in-house like you worked for a tech company as their copywriter or their content creator or something, and you want to get out there now and freelance but don’t have any clients. If you look pro this is a big shortcut. People will question you so much less if the whole experience of working with you feels really professional. So a client portal–

There’s Hunnybear with Lily. Oh, they’re so cute! A client portal helps that strong lead feel committed as well. So when they see their name in your client portal, it already feels like they’re working with you. It feels that much closer. And even if they choose not to, it’ll feel harder for them to say no to you and easier for them to say yes to you. And that’s a big part of actually getting people to say yes to you and take that leap of faith, that you are the one that they should give the money to, give the work to, and work with for the rest of the year or the month or whatever it might turn into.

Example of a Client Portal Using Packs [10:55]

So we’re going to now go look at what this client portal could look like. Now if you already have a portal, absolutely cool. I’m going to show you– of course this is all brought to you by Packs. And I’m going to show you how to do this inside Packs, because it’s really, really straightforward. So here is a simple portal. You can share it easily just by going in here and choosing. Now you’re going to want to collaborate with your client. We’ll show you this in just a second.

But this is the core. You make this as a template and then any time you have a new lead, you duplicate this pack and you use that new version. But set this up, all of this can change, all of this can be modified once you duplicate it. But this is your starting point. What you have here is client portal. After this you’ll go in and put like IBM Creative Services, if that’s the client that you’re working with or whoever that might be, whatever you put that name in there. But this is the template that you start with.

We have a quick little note, “Hi there, looking forward to working with your crew. This is where I’ll store all of the assets that we use for our projects. Please add links, files and other info I need here. Thanks, Jo.” And that’s something that you can update, of course, for any new client that you have, if you have additional information to add.

This is the kind of thing that you would usually put in an email. All of this here is like, you would normally send an email to your client go, hey, thanks for the great talk. Here are the things that we need from you in order to move forward. And then you would put a massive dump of stuff. And they would have to look at the email, go find the thing, and keep going back and forth, text somebody on their team, forward it, Slack somebody on their team to get those things. And in this case, it can all just go right here.

Invite People to Your Packs Team [12:37]

It does require, of course, that you then invite those people to be part of your team. And this can feel like, oh, why would I do that? This is where they actually do feel like they’re working with you, so you invite them. I invite Paul, let’s say, whoever else I might invite, there you go Paul. But let’s pretend Paul’s the client. Let’s pretend that Paul works at So I go ahead and I invite Paul. And now Paul can come in here and add in all of this stuff easily.

So we do the Share Pack, you turn on Collaborate right here. And then all you need to do is copy this link that you’ll get when you turn on Collaborate. You want it on Collaborate because this is turning into a client portal where they put things and you put things. So you can absolutely go ahead do that, click Copy and then after that client call you can say OK, here’s what I need from you, click here. And that’s it, that’s the whole focus of the email that drives them here. They can see everything, they can share this around.

Now what are you actually asking for in here? You have this link to the mutual nondisclosure agreement. So it’s a simple link in here that opens up. In this case, we use Adobe at this point. I do not love Adobe, I’m not going to wait for this to load. I don’t love Adobe’s tool but we use it right now. We’ll probably go back to RightSignature at some point. But the point is, it’s a single place that they can go online, hit sign and move on with their lives.

And then you’re asking for exactly what you need here. And, of course, when you walk your client through this, you can just show them, this is where you’ll put your brand guidelines. They can drag a PDF onto the page, they can link to anything on their internal site or whatever it might be. You’re going to want their brand guidelines, their customer avatars, personas, jobs to be done profiles, whatever they have, they go there, insights into their core offerings.

So as you’re walking your client through this you’re like, OK, what do I mean by insights into your core offerings? That’s like if you have a product messaging map, if you have a product feature roadmap, if you have a history of where the product has come from, put that in here. And now they know, and they’re starting to think through what those things might be.

Internal presentations to update the team and set the vision for the team, this is something that you might not be asking for at all. But this will be eye-opening for you when you actually do get that from your lead or your client. And you can see like, wow, that’s the vision that they have, and how you can start bringing them closer to that. It’s really, really incredible. So don’t sell yourself as just a freelancer. You’re really going to be a part of their team. You just kind of lift out of their team and then lift back into their team, and that’s a good thing. That’s the whole point of freelancing at all is you get to lift in and out, but they can treat you like a member of their team too. And that’s what the NDA covers.

And then any recent research and data, you have raw survey responses, you ask them for those, the link to their Google Analytics, you tell them who to invite there, then they can put the link right in there, and then links to user recordings. So those are the starting point for that research data. You might have other things that you want from your leads, or your clients, but that’s the starting point for it.

And it might not be for you. It might be you just want to look at other user tests if they have any of them. And if they don’t, that’s cool, but what they see here is, wow, this person knows what they’re looking for. They’ve done this before because they’re asking me all the right questions. And you just keep doing this again and again. You write this out once and then you duplicate it whenever it’s time.

Make Your Pack Extra Pro [16:10]

Now how do we actually bring this up a notch? You make sure that they associate this with you. When people are hiring freelancers they don’t always talk to three or four, but sometimes they do. They’ll talk to three, four, five, and they’ll be interviewing a bunch of people. Those people, you need to work harder than those people do at looking professional, and it is noticeable.

So put in here your phone number if you have a phone number that you’re willing to let your clients call you at. This is private to that client, put it in here. If you’ve got good proof on Twitter, if you have a lot of people following you on LinkedIn, or you look really good on there, put in the spaces that you look best. Put your email address in there, put your website in there, whatever you want to put in there to make it look more the biz.

And then finish it off by editing your thumbnail. So your thumbnail is that thing that when they open up Packs, when they see this, they’ll look at the front of it and– I’ll show you as soon as we do it, but they’ll be able to see your smiling face there, loving your smiling face. So all we’re going to use here– so so far today, we’ve used Packs.

Making Your Thumbnail in Canva [17:18]

Next we’re going to use Canva. So again we’re focusing as freelancers on using the most affordable tools possible to get the job done really, really well. All you want to do in Canva to make that thumbnail– if you use something else that’s cool, but Canva is pretty universal at this point. Go in, choose a YouTube thumbnail, it’s about the right size for the thumbnail that’s you’ll use in Packs, and then just make it, make it look how you want it to look. This is a template where I just dragged in my picture in there. You put your picture in there, replace it with your company name, put your logo on here if you prefer to, and then a little note like that.

So then you download it, and I’m just going to quickly add it in here as our thumbnail. Oh, I already did. That’s right, I did this in advance. So here’s what we have, “Let’s Work Together.” This has been modified because it was about like that when I loaded it up and I just had to modify it and put it in place. And then you save, you can add a description if you’d like to as well.

But then once you do that, let me save that, then you’ll notice this here because I have a lot of Packs, of course, but now I have this. And if the person you’re working with uses Packs for other things already, even if they don’t, they can still go to this main page now that they’ve got access to your Pack and see this very pro-looking picture right there. You stand out, your face is there, nobody else has their face there when they’re just asking for something.

An email sure as hell does not let you do anything like this. So that is the whole focus of getting that client portal in place. Again, make it a template, duplicate it any time that you have a new lead or a new client that you want to work with. And then just make sure that you invite that person here and go ahead and use it with them. And then when you’re no longer working with them, then you can just remove them from your team. Doesn’t cost anything to add a team member or 15 team members to Packs, you can do that as long as you want with as many clients as you want.

Thanks, everybody, hopefully we will see you next week, enjoy your Giving Tuesday. Thanks, everybody, bye.


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