Ask-a-Freelancer: Mike Christie

ask-a-freelancer Jun 02, 2021

What do you do?

I’m a direct response copywriter and email marketing specialist. I write copy that is designed to get people to take action. I specialize in email marketing, designed to get people to click, call, or come in. This is different from other content because it is more salesy and very specific. I tend not to go out of my lane - I want to be seen as an expert so when people hire me, they know what they’re getting. 

My primary source of new business is through Upwork. I used to look for clients on my own and that was challenging. Upwork allowed me to become as busy as I wanted to be by simply applying for jobs. If you want to make it a full-time job, Upwork is the best platform for that. They take 20% of your billable fee, but not having to look for clients or collect money, saves you so much time. You never have to send invoices or send a reminder, someone hires you, and you’re guaranteed to be paid. 

How did you get here?

I retired from Wall Street in 2021. I had my own personal training business from 2013 - 2016, did all my own marketing. That’s where I learned how to write. When you’re an entrepreneur and doing everything yourself, it is very expensive to hire people to do things. I decided to get certified in direct response copywriting. I got injured and couldn’t lift weight anymore, so I had to end that business and get a different job. I decided to do freelancing copywriting for email marketing and got certified with Hubspot as a marketing specialist. I’ve written emails for hundreds of different clients, the more I write the better I get. The way I write now reflects the knowledge I’ve developed - what works and what didn’t work. Clients expect conversions. You learn very quickly as a freelancer that you have to be focused on results for your clients. That’s not true with all forms of writing, blogs, newsletters, but with “click here to buy” emails...they better click. It is fun to see the results, but there’s also the other side - keeping your fingers crossed that it will work. I’m happy and comfortable as a freelancer. What I love about freelancing is the freedom it provides and my ability to control my schedule. Some people work for money, I just want to have a good lifestyle. I like to work and play, sometimes more play than work. 

What mistakes did you make along the way that others should avoid? 

Taking on the wrong client. When I first started I would take any job that came along, as I started working with them I realized that they were not the right clients. They had unrealistic expectations, weren't transparent about their business or their budget, etc. The most important thing is to have a happy client, someone who is thrilled because you delivered results. There are some people you shouldn’t work with based on personality or style. The way I do this is I do a free sample. When I do a free sample the client can see my style before they hire me. You can’t change your style for the client. The client has to fit your style as a writer. I’ve had people who aren’t a good fit and I’m glad because I don’t have to worry about taking the wrong jobs. Be really selective about who hires you, ask all of the questions upfront (process, expectations), and do a free sample. This has eliminated the problem of working for the wrong client. Don’t be afraid to do something initially for free. Give something to get. I want to give you so much value upfront for free that you’re begging to hire me. 

Also, I never work on a fixed-rate contract. You’ll get a lot of clients that want to work at a fixed rate. Only work on an hourly rate. What happens is that they add on work - they change their mind and change the scope. Clients pay me by the hour for as long as it takes. 

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