Why Selling Writing Doesn’t Get Results

Why Selling Writing Doesn't Get Results

Selling writing is hard.

It isn’t that there’s too much competition or the market is saturated or clients aren’t buying or that your skills suck. There isn’t, it isn’t, they are, and they might, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that selling writing is hard because your clients don’t really want to buy words.

They want to buy results.

Now, you can’t sell results. On-demand result production is way outside your realm of ability. Why? Because no one – NO ONE – can get results out of words until the right readers see them.

Here’s the problem, though: Many clients won’t let your words get those eyes.

You see, most clients hire writers thinking they’re buying writing that gets results. So, results are what they pay for. And on delivery date, what when they get a document full of little black words on a white background…

That doesn’t look like results.

So clients are often disappointed. They thought something would happen when they opened that document. They expected an experience – but what they got was pretty boring. And they’re disappointed. They’re disillusioned. They thought they’d get jazzed and excited and hear angels sing.

Angels don’t sing until you hear the ka-ching.

Here’s what happens: Some clients start wondering what they paid all this money for. They might think they wasted it. You know they didn’t waste their money, because you know they’re going to make money…

As soon as they put your words up on the web.

But when clients aren’t feeling the music, they won’t do that. They’re still back there waiting for the angel show and thinking something’s wrong.

Very often, they think that something wrong is you.

They ask you to revise the work. Or they tweak it themselves. Or they ask for their money back. (Problem is, you can’t really refund tickets on a show that hasn’t happened yet.) They can’t tell the difference between okay writing and awesome writing.

All they see are words.  Not results. (And definitely no angels.)

There’s a huge disconnect between writers and clients. You both have very different expectations of what’s going down when you’re hired. You think they want killer web copy.

They think you’re going to change their life.

Or make their problems go away. Take away their worries. Pull them out of the red. Write words that charm their heart. Make them fall in love with their own business all over again.

But you weren’t hired to charm them. You’re not their inspiration. You can’t make them fall in love. You’re their writer, and you were hired to write words that convert prospects into customers.

Ahhh, conversion. That’s the key. That’s what you need. Conversion is the ultimate test, the measure and proof of your work. No conversion? No good. Lots of conversion? Lots of good.

How does your client get conversion? When do results happen? When your words get up on the ‘net, which is why you need your clients to be committed to the plan.

Many aren’t, though. Commitments are tough.

Sometimes even tougher than making angels sing.

Sometimes people want to lose a few pounds. They want a slimmer, trimmer body that doesn’t give them grief – but getting trim after years of packing it on isn’t easy.

First they have to decide they really want to trim down in the first place. Then they have to dedicate themselves to an exercise plan. Last, they have to put that plan into motion and stick with it.

They have to commit.

Now, no one sees results on day one. They might not see results on day two or three, either. Maybe not even after a week. And that’s when some people get discouraged.

So they give up. Quit. They don’t even give their slim-down plan a chance. “This isn’t working,” they mutter. “Forget it.”

And they go back to whatever they were doing before.

Kind of like what happens in the web writing industry.

People need to have faith that sticking with the plan gets results. And that’s the other thing about the disconnect between copywriters and clients. You already know your copy gets results. You have history, past clients and tangible proof.

Your clients? They’re taking a leap of faith.

Some of those clients know that web copy is just a marketing tool. They know it can’t produce results out of sheer existence. It doesn’t make angels sing. It’s web copy. It needs to get on the web where prospects can read it.

Most people? That’s not how it goes down. They can’t wait for delivery, they’re excited to read, they open the document with shining eyes, they brace for exalted, joyful chorus and…

They stare at words. Crickets chirp. Where are the results?

You aren’t selling results. You’re selling writing.

It’s difficult to sell writing because you can’t produce those immediate, tangible results clients expect. All you can give them are the tools that create results: your words.

The rest is up to them.

My friend Peter Shallard knows this well. He doesn’t sell results to his clients. He can’t produce them. Results are up to his clients.

Peter sells the tools, the education and knowledge his clients need to create results. The clients? They need to commit, believe in his tools and stick to the plan so they can see results.

Just like that dieter needs to stick to his plan.

So if Peter’s clients expect overnight miracles or instant, life-changing experiences, they may be disappointed. And if they look at a technique and don’t believe in it, don’t like it, or decide not to try it, then it has no chance of success.

Nothing changes. No results.

Kind of example like writing that never makes it to the web.

So how do you get your clients to commit?

Web copy needs to get on the web so it can do its job. Your clients need to give it a chance, just like Peter’s clients need to give his tools a chance. They need to stick with it, commit to the plan and believe results will happen.

How does Peter get his clients to commit when he can’t produce results? Here’s how – and here’s how you can do the same for your clients:

He guarantees his services and offers a full refund: “There’s no risk. I guarantee my services, because your satisfaction and comfort is important to me. If you feel that you aren’t getting value from our consultations and haven’t received advice that helps you move towards your goals, I’ll refund your current month’s payment in full.”

He lets people test his services free of charge: “If you’d like to go for a test drive before selecting a more complete and rewarding package geared towards larger results, then my Next Step Challenge is the perfect option for you. Pick one question (related to business; I haven’t discovered the meaning of life yet) that you’d like help with, and I’ll provide you with a free report that tells you where you’re at now, and why… plus some tips and tricks to get away from there and onto better things.”

He sells based on desired results, not on tangible output: “Several of my clients achieve phenomenal insight and understanding within just one or two sessions. Some move on quickly and don’t need me anymore – which is the point, here. I’m just a facilitator to help you get unstuck and progressing closer to your goals.”

He’s clear and specific about what he provides his clients: “I learn about the goals you have, your frustrations about not being able to reach them, and the obstacles in your way right now. Then I help you understand why this is all happening – but more importantly, how to reduce, eliminate and prevent these issues from holding you back.”

He points out that results depend on the client: “It really all depends on you, and how BIG you’re prepared to think. Some clients are so energized about reaching goals that they’re off getting results almost before they even begin. Some clients require a few back-and-forth consultations, and others prefer to consult for a month or two to be sure they’re solid and ready to take on the world.”

He clarifies his ideal client and who should work with him: “People who enjoy working with me are those that don’t like to waste time, who are progress-focused, and who feel determined to get the tools they need so they can apply them to their business or career and see results.”

If you want to sell words to your clients, they need to understand that results aren’t within your control, that your words need a chance to be seen, and that angels don’t sing until the show’s on.

So don’t sell results. Sell a marketing tool that can be used create results.

Make sure you tell this to your clients too. Make sure they understand what they’re buying. Make sure they’re clear on what they have to do every step of the way. Make sure they know to give the plan a chance.

And make sure your clients commit, so they can put your words on the web and produce the results they want.

Oh, and hear those angels sing.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.