TCC Podcast #401: Get Good at Finding Clients with Ryan Guthrie - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #401: Get Good at Finding Clients with Ryan Guthrie

Finding clients is hard. And it might even be getting harder. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. In fact, there are lots of copywriters who don’t struggle to book clients for weeks or months into the future. So how do you do it? On the 401st episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira and Rob talk with client acquisition specialist, Ryan Guthrie, about the three ways to get clients. We go into depth on this. You’re going to like it. Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.


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Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh: It doesn’t matter how good you are as a writer, if you don’t have good, high-paying clients, you will never have a successful copywriting business. It all comes down to your ability to attract, connect with, and get hired by business owners who will pay you to help them tell their story. And even though we’ve talked about this topic a lot on this podcast, it seems as if there’s always more to learn.

Hi, I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of The Copywriter Club. And for today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, my co-founder, Kira Hug, and I talked with copywriter and client acquisition specilist Ryan Guthrie. Like many of us, Ryan started out as a copywriter. But he cracked the code on finding clients early on, so other copywriters began asking him for help with their own pipelines. And he shared a lot of how he does it in today’s interview.

But before we jump in with Ryan…

We have a new gift for you as a listener to the copywriter club podcast. We went through the past 400 episodes of this podcast looking for the ideas that our guests have shared over the past couple of years related to finding clients. We pulled out a bunch of our favorites and compiled them into a new pocket sixed guide that will inspire you as you look for ways to attract the right clients to your business. Ryan shares how he does it on this episode. But once you’re done listening, or now if you are near your phone or computer, visit to download your own copy of this new guide.

And with that, let’s go to our interview with Ryan Guthrie…

Kira Hug: All right, Ryan, let’s start with your story. How did you end up as a client acquisition consultant?

Ryan Guthrie: By doing a lot of other things first. I started copywriting in February of 2020, which is an awesome time to start something new. But I was going to be a nurse, right? And I just kind of fell out of love with it. I didn’t want to go to work every day and see people having the worst day of their lives. And so I kind of dropped out of college a little bit. And my girlfriend at the time, who’s now my fiance, said, Hey, you’re a pretty good writer. Here’s this course that showed up on my Instagram feed. It’s an ad, take a look at it. So I took a look at it. And I was like, I can do this. Sure. It was a copywriting course. I can, I can do this. And so I like, fully dropped out of college and bought this course with all my savings to the horror of my mother. She was like, you know what, you go do this for a year and we’ll see what it looks like after a year and then we’ll talk about this again, right? So I did that, and so I worked at my regular job from like six to three, six in the morning, three in the afternoon, and then I would get home and I would just do copywriting stuff, right, from like four to like 10, doing hand copy and just trying to learn as much as I could going through this course. After about three months, I got my first client, and it’s a funny story, people always think they need to be super polished for that first client. I did my first sales call in the parking lot of a Trader Joe’s, And I took notes on the back of an organic cookie box. So just throwing that out there. That was my first ever sales call. I got that client. He paid me $400 for some emails. And then I was like, this is it. I’m a paid copywriter. I’m a professional. And I ditched my job. And then the next client did not come as quickly as I thought it was going to come, but the bills still kept coming. And so I was like, okay, we need to make this work now. So it’s kind of like an out of necessity thing. I just, um, did the client outreach stuff that I was taught in that course. And it, and it kind of worked. Um, it was much more of a, just, I can outwork my lack of talent kind of situation. And so after about six months, um, a little over six months, I hit my first 10 K month. And then a little over a year being in this career, I was starting to have those consistent 10K months. And funnily enough, I actually hired my mom for a little while to do some content writing for one of my clients that I didn’t want to do anymore. So it’s funny to see that come full circle. She was like, no, you have to go to college. And I’m like, hey, mom, I can hire you. She’s like, oh, OK. So that was fun. Did copywriting for a while. And then I had a client who was like, Hey, do you, you write all this other stuff for me? Would you help me write a book? And I was like, yeah, sure. 

No idea what I was doing again. Dove into it head first, learned how to do it as I was doing it, and we got through that project. I don’t know how it ended up being a pretty decent book, but it did. And I was like, I really like this. I really like these big projects. And so I kind of shifted to doing those big projects. I was like, I can help these people write their books. And then I know how marketing kind of works. I know how book funnels work. I know how this stuff works. I can show them how to do all that stuff. And so I went over into ghostwriting and I wrote for big consultants and agencies or for a politician, all kinds of really cool, interesting, fascinating clients. And then while this is all happening, I also actually became a coach in that initial program that I took way back in 2020. And I was just, every single time I would interact with another copywriter or another freelance writer or anything, it was, how do you get clients? You seem to be doing really well. How do you get clients? How do you get clients? 

I guess I’m just a nerd about how to get clients. I’m always listening to podcasts and YouTube videos and reading books and all kinds of things about getting clients. It’s actually very annoying for my fiance. We’ll be going on a trip and I’m like, I’m going to listen to a podcast. And she’s like, Oh no, you’re not. All right. And so I just started helping a lot of people with how to get clients. And I, I had results with things that I was doing and then I would teach other people and they would have results. And I was like, well, you know, I love teaching this stuff. Maybe I should just, Maybe I should do this. And so then I kind of became a client acquisition coach consultant. And that’s, that’s what I do now. I help copywriters and B2B service providers get clients. I work with people one-on-one to create really customized client acquisition strategies. Cause I know a lot of times you get into a course and client acquisition is, it’s a really small part of the course. And it’s like, what’s kind of the biggest hinge there is to success. And a lot of times with the courses and stuff, it’s just kind of like, it’s whatever worked for that person who built that course, right? It’s whatever works for them. Sometimes it doesn’t work for you. It’s not the right strategy, right? Like if you’re a kind of shy and timid person, you go into a course and they’re like, Oh, you got a cold call. And you’re like, uh, maybe not. And then you don’t really go anywhere. So I like working with people one-on-one and we build something that works for them. So that’s kind of my story from a 30,000 foot view.

Rob Marsh: I like it. You said one phrase that immediately stuck out. I immediately wrote it down in my notes, and that is that you had to outwork your lack of talent. Yes, very much so. Let’s talk about that because I think this is a very real situation that a lot of us find ourselves in, especially when we’re starting out or if we’re switching to a new niche or we’re working with a higher level client, there’s a learning curve. So yeah, talk to us just a little bit about your thinking around that and what you actually did in order to overcome the lack of talent because again, if you don’t have the talent to write or if you don’t have the talent to deliver the solution that your client needs, that’s a problem.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah. So I, when I started it, I kind of figured in my brain, I was like, okay, I’m at point a, I want to get to point B. I am probably going to have a certain amount of mess ups, screw ups in this period of time going from A to B where I’m, you know, I don’t really know what I’m doing right now to being a actually competent service provider. So I figured, okay, well, if I can just get through that as quickly as I can, that would probably be ideal. And so I did a ton of just outreach and, you know, cold emailing and networking and all kinds of stuff. And I got a lot of clients early on and like, kind of like to the point where I was like, I was working a lot. Like it wasn’t, it wasn’t looking a whole lot better than a full-time job, but I was able to learn so much by doing so much upfront. 

Working with clients while still kind of a newer copywriter. I wasn’t charging a ton. And so I was able to really get paid to learn right up front. Cause I, you know, I kind of came into this, I was an okay writer. I don’t. That’s kind of even stretching it. I was a B minus in English kind of guy. I was decent at writing, but it really wasn’t an awesome skill for me, especially in copies, different from regular writing, so I had to learn that. But how to do a sales call or a discovery call, how to do client communication, how to manage software. I’m probably the worst millennial in the world at technology. I’m terrible with it. So I had to learn how to overcome that with some things. And it was just, you know, I will, I’m going to put the work in. I don’t, I will try to just not freak out about it for as long as possible. It was quite literally just try to fake it till you make it in my head. Like if you just do this enough, you will get confident with it. And sure enough, I did. I just did the work, did the reps over and over again. And pretty soon I was confident talking to people, I was confident pitching people, I was confident working with people. If people said, hey, can you get this kind of result for us? I could confidently say, yeah, I think I can.

Kira Hug: So I just want to jump in fully and let’s just talk about client acquisition and what’s working today in 2024 versus maybe what was working a couple years ago. I’m more interested in what’s shifted or what hasn’t shifted.

Ryan Guthrie: Hmm, I’ll tell you what’s not working very well is when people just throw a little prompt into something like chat GPT. And they’re like, Hey, write me a pitch for this kind of business. And they copy and paste and send it to that business. I don’t know if you guys have received any of those kinds of pitches lately. It’s like, dude, this is bad.

Rob Marsh: I’ve seen several where I’m like, Wow, this is clearly written by an AI, somebody who does not know us. So yeah, we’ve definitely seen some of that stuff.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, it’s bad. And so I think right now we’re coming into this sort of, there’s AI going on everywhere. I was talking about AI, we’re doing a lot of things like mass, how can I reach as many people as humanly possible and create a message that just appeals to the broadest category of person possible. And what I’ve found is that when someone comes across a genuinely human to human pitch that was written specifically for them, that shows that you have expertise and that you know their business a little bit more than someone who would just run it through a spreadsheet, and that you’ve taken the time to actually establish an actual relationship and you’ve actually done a little bit of homework, goes really far. And so I think right now, especially, you know, some of the updates like to Google for cold email and stuff like that, I think we’re really coming into a sort of a time of hyper personalization and really focusing on the human to human factor.

Rob Marsh: So let’s, let’s dive into that. You know, let’s say that I am a copywriter who’s been, maybe I’m new to the business or I’ve, I’ve kind of exhausted my warm leads, the contacts that I have. And now I’ve got to find some clients in order to stay in business. What do I do?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah. So there’s generally there’s. three-ish ways that a business acquires clients, right? Paid advertising, inbound, and outbound. Usually for service providers like copywriters, we like to stick with outbound, some inbound stuff, and maybe a little bit of hybrid of those kinds of things. But I know outbound is going to be probably the fastest, most cost-efficient way to get a new client. So a lot of what I teach is outbound stuff. And so I know when you’re reaching out to someone, whether it be LinkedIn, cold email, I like email because like I said, not a social media person, not a tech person. So I like email just because it’s simple. There’s really, there’s five things that are going to go into your effective outreach.

And that’s number one is the audience. Who are you reaching out to, right? Are you reaching out to a company that can actually afford to pay you and values what you do? Or are you reaching out to a, you know, a local mom and pop shop that doesn’t really know a whole lot about marketing. So first you have to sell them on the idea of marketing. Then you have to sell them on the idea of your type of marketing, your copy. You have to sell them on all this other stuff. Whereas if you go to someone who already values copying, it’s a lot easier of a sale, right? A lot of, especially newer copywriters think, Oh, I need to cut my teeth on these smaller clients. Okay, sure. Go there, get your experience, get your portfolio, your samples, your testimonials, and then move on. Because the reality is charging more with bigger clients is a lot of the times easier than charging less with smaller clients. And so you really want to find an audience who, one, they can pay you, right? Look for a company that can actually pay you properly for the work that you do. Look for a company that actually values marketing. Look for a company that’s already doing marketing. Are they running ads? Do they have advertorials going? Do they have Facebook ads going? You know, are they paying for ads on Google? Look for a company that’s actually spending money on marketing. And third, look for a company that, you know, they use copy at some point in their customer journey, right? Some companies, their sales journey ends at a sales page. Cool. Good news for you. Some companies, it ends with a sales call with a salesperson. Cool. Do they use copy to move their customers along that journey? Look for those.

Secondly, just think about your offer, right? There’s a big difference between a copywriter who shows up on a client store and they say, Hey, I’m a copywriter. Do you need blogs? I can do that. Do you need an email sequence? I can do that. Do you need a landing page? Even though I don’t really know what a landing page means, but I can do that for you. Right. That’s really different from being a copywriter who shows them says, Hey, this is my offer. These are deliverables. This is the ROI that I can get for you. I’ve noticed some of the symptoms of the problem that I solve. Let’s talk about that. Right. Those are two very different types of offers you can do.

Third is messaging. What do you actually say to people? Hopefully, as a copywriter, you’re already probably pretty good at this, right? What do you need to say to a person to pique their interest, to get some curiosity going?

Fourth, you want to talk about social proof, credibility. Why should this person listen to you? Have you done anything that’s related to this client? Have you worked with similar clients in the past? Do you have any sort of results that you can kind of lean on a little bit, right? And even if you don’t, there are other things you can do. Like you can lean on industry standards. I know when I was getting started, I was doing a lot of email copy. And so I would lean on the fact that email is the highest ROI channel of any marketing channel. It’s like 38 or 40 times return on investment ROI. So I would lean into that. I would tell clients that.

And then last, your ask. What do you want them to do right now? Right. And I found that a lot more conversations will get started if you have a much smaller ask on that first outreach. Right. A lot of people are like, Hey, let’s hop on a call for an hour so I can sell you my stuff. Okay. Good luck. People are busy. Whereas if you say, Hey, you know, I had some ideas. Here’s one of them. I have some more. Would you be open to hopping on a 15, 20 minute call? We can brainstorm some ideas, right? There’s no hard pitch there. And then when I do actual outreach, it’s kind of broken up into two parts, right? You have the first part that is your personalized intro, right? But a lot of people just go to the case study section. They say, hey, great job on working with blah, blah, blah. And they leave it at that. That’s not very personalized.

What I like to do is I like to find something that they’ve worked on, some accomplishment they’ve done that I genuinely appreciate, that I genuinely think is really cool. And then I tell them that it’s really cool and how that applies to me, how it’s affected me. Keeping it still really brief, but really putting in the effort to let them know, hey, I actually care about what you do. I am actually benefited by what you do. I appreciate it. And then I move into seeing what symptoms of a problem are, I see that I can potentially help you with. Right.

So maybe if you’re a if you’re an email copyright, right, you go into someone’s website, and they don’t have any sort of email list opt in, with a lead magnet or anything, right? You just scroll down to the bottom and you see a Hey, subscribe to our newsletter at the very bottom. You’re like, well, I know that probably doesn’t do very well. So you can reach out to them, say something you really appreciate about them and say, Hey, I noticed you don’t have an awesome, like a opt-in for your email list. I’ve seen X, Y, and Z do really well for your types of businesses. Would you be open to just brainstorm some ideas with me over like a 15, 20 minute chat? And then that’s what you do. You talk with them. And I like to do sales in a way that’s very consultative. I, when I get on a sales call with someone, I pretend they just paid me a thousand dollars for that hour. And I try to help as much as possible. Right. I genuinely give them good advice, good strategy. And at the end, I just ask, Hey, we talked about all this. You can do it yourself if you want, but if you’d like someone else to do it for you, I’d love to work with you and help you with that. It’s a very low pressure sales process and it works really well.

Kira Hug: So let’s talk more about that piece of it. So your call to action is likely very low commitment. So let’s just jump on a call for 15 minutes. I’ll share one idea with you. So then you get them on a call for 15 minutes, and you’re treating it like a consultation and giving as much as you can. Are you trying to extend the time while also respecting their time and saying like, hey, do you have capacity to go over? I’d love to give you more ideas. How do you treat that time block?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, the idea is that you want to provide some sort of value, right? Almost like how if someone is coming inbound to you, oh, they got a lead magnet from you, something like that. I like to do kind of the same thing without bound. So usually what I like to do is that consultation strategy call with people. Some people would do a loom audit or SEO audit. It just depends on what their business is, right? So what I usually like to do is that initial consultation call where I just, I help them and I’ll say 15, 20 minutes at the beginning. Right. And then. I put a little timer on and once we get to 15, 20 minutes, I say, Hey, I, you know, I’ve hit my time, you know, we’re at 15, 20 minutes. I know we’re kind of in the middle of this. Do you want to just wrap it up real quick? Or would you like to keep talking 9.5 out of 10 times? It’s either yes. Can we please keep talking or, uh, I’m really busy. Can we, can we schedule a little bit more time to finish this conversation? Right.

Kira Hug: So at this point, you haven’t pitched anything. You’re just asking for more time and you’ve just given all of this value. Um, can you talk through now if they do extend the time, kind of how you’re framing the rest of the call so that you get to an ask at the end?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, so it’s at this point. It’s not It’s not pitching anything because I don’t know exactly how to form my pitch to their problem at this point It’s just it’s figuring out what the problem is. It’s doing that those those open-ended questions and stuff we hear about from sales trainers and stuff, right? It’s doing the digging, like, hey, what have you been doing? Like, obviously, if you’re willing to get on this call with me, this is enough of a problem that you wanted my opinion on some things, right? So what’s been going on with this issue, right? What have you tried before that hasn’t worked? What have you tried before that you are not interested in trying again? Has anything kind of worked, but maybe not fully? And you just talk with these people and you understand exactly what’s going on with their problem, what they’re struggling with. 

And then once you have a good idea of what’s going on, then you can kind of flip the script and you can go, OK, well, based on that, you can, you know, like mirroring, you can mirror what they’re saying to you and you can say it back to them and then you can say, OK, cool. So it sounds like, you know, ABC is happening. It’s that sound right? And they’re like, yeah. So, OK. Based on that, this is what I, these are some options of things that I think you should do to solve this problem or achieve this goal, right? Cause usually it’s either achieve a goal or solve a problem, right? Those are the two ways that people like to work with copywriters. 

So we’ll work on that and I will just tell them what I think they should do. If it’s, you know, their email list is not growing the way they thought it should. I say, okay, cool. Um, have you ever thought about doing a lead magnet? Oh, well, you know, you know, sometimes it didn’t work that well. Okay. Why didn’t it work? Do you think like, I just want to know, and then I can consult them and I can advise them on how to move forward with some of these things to solve the problem, solve the pain or achieve the goal. 

And once I think I’ve earned my thousand dollars, right. That I, that I pretend that I’ve been paid. We’ll get to the end. And I’ll tell them, like, OK, so I think you should do this. I think these are your options. If you’re willing to spend money on this problem, throw some money at this problem, you should probably do this option and get it done quicker. If you’re not super concerned about it getting done really, really quickly, and you want to not throw a lot of money on it, you should probably do this option. And that’ll take a little bit longer, but that’s the trade-off. You can do this yourself. But obviously, I reached out to you. I would love to work with you on this. If you want some help, I’d be happy to help.

Rob Marsh: This seems like a really good way to get that first project. So we’re talking maybe a $500 blog post, or maybe it’s a $3,500 sales page, or an email sequence, $2,000, whatever. You mentioned some of these larger projects, book writing, those kinds of things that you moved into. How does your approach change in order to land these monster projects that may be able to put food on the table for more than just a couple of weeks?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, so I mean, we can talk about both of them. So I mentioned a $15,000 a month retainer, that’s a pretty nice, chunky retainer, right? It started just like you mentioned, like with an initial project, you know, I usually advise copywriters to do that initial project with a new client, especially if they’re newer, because they can’t see some of the red or orange flags right away. So it’s like, okay, do the test project. And then keep in mind, the test project is mostly for you to figure out if you want to work with this person, right? You’re still kind of in control here. This is to make sure that you enjoy working with this person. They’re not going to micromanage you. They’re not going to be weird about paying you like all these different things, right? Do the test project. And then I always, before we even get started on the test project, I say, cool, this is the timeline. It’s going to be done in a week. Let’s schedule the next call to go over what was done and how we want to move forward if we do want to move forward. So I like to schedule that call before we even start working on that initial project. There’s you want to make as few places for a potential client to ghost you as possible, right? Because for whatever reason, if they can find someplace to ghost you, they’re going to ghost you. I don’t know why, but they do. So try to make as few of those places as possible, like to schedule that initial call after we do the test project. Right. So we’ll do the test project and then we’ll move into, okay, cool. You’ve seen what I’ve done here. What is something, that I’ve got my foot in the door with this. And now that I’ve worked with them a little bit, and of course, after that initial consultation call, right, you’re going to know more about the overall big problems that are, you can see from the inside that you couldn’t necessarily see from the outside when you were pitching them. 

So now you know more about what’s going on. You can say, Hey in my experience, I see all these issues going and this is probably what it’s going to look like if I were to go full bore and help you in every way that I can help you, right? So I could have $15,000 a month retainer for me. It was a big company that did lots of supplements and every supplement had a sales page. Every, every supplement had its own email sequence and they would cross sell and upsell like crazy. And so that $15,000 a month for me was sales pages and email, right? It was a lot of it. But that’s kind of what that looked like for the retainer side of things. But it started the same way that I talked about that initial. Value-based reach, reach, outreach, and then that consultative selling model. 

Now I also talked about earning $50 to $75,000 book projects, right? That is kind of middle of the road for, for a decent ghostwriter, right? I’ve seen ghostwriters charged 90,000, 120, 150. and up. It’s a very wide range. But, you know, you can start at like 10, 15 for something like a book, because you got to remember, like, it takes four to six months to write a book, right, if you know what you’re doing. And so I did the same thing. I would reach out to people who, because who, who, who in business wants a book, right? People that want to be thought leaders. They want that authority, the brand authority. They want to be seen as a thought leader. They want to use the book as a networking tool. Maybe they want to use the book as a, as a top of funnel piece of content. 

So I would do the same thing. I’d reach out to these people, do the value-based outreach and say, Hey, I think you have a really, really good story, or I think you have a lot of potential to teach people this unique angle that you have. Have you ever thought about writing a book? Would you be interested in maybe like a 15, 20 minute call? I’d love to brainstorm some ideas with you for a book that you could write. Maybe we could do a real quick brainstorming session about an outline or something like that. I created a nonfiction book planning guide that sometimes I would send to people like, hey, I have this freebie about how to write a book. Would you like it? I would love to see you create a book at some point, right? Maybe I can even go over it with you. Maybe kind of apply some of the stuff to this business of yours. Because I also know with freebies and stuff, if you’re going to give a freebie to someone, something I like to do is I like to offer, hey, I’d love to go over it with you and maybe apply it really specifically to your business. Because sometimes you send a freebie and then crickets, you’re like, did they just read it and just not get back to me? Was it not good enough? All these things. And you’re like, Oh, then I got to do follow up. Um, and so I like to go over my fees with potential clients. And so that’s what I did for, for these particular clients. I know with, with my range of 50 to 75,000, 50,000 is like a, it’s pretty basic, like how to business book, right? Like a sales book or like a leadership culture book or something like that. 75,000 is going to be like. I’m working with a doctor or someone like that. It’s a very complicated book that has to have lots of research go into it. Lots of additional interviews, lots of additional guest expert interviews, stuff like that. That’s going to be the book on the Sony 5,000 side. But I would get those clients the same way.

Kira Hug: So my dad wants me to help him write a book and it sounds like you’re telling me I should charge him $75,000. Yes.

Rob Marsh: You should charge him more than that because there’s all kinds of stuff that’s going to happen here. I see red flags all over the place. You need a PITA tax on this one, Kira.

Ryan Guthrie: With ghostwriting, it’s funny because a lot of people in the ghostwriting industry and book writing industry, they’ll look for a writer to do this. And if you’re not charging at least $20,000 or $25,000, they’re kind of like, you probably don’t know what you’re doing.

Kira Hug: Oh, that’s good to know. I kind of want to continue down this tangent and then we can get back to client acquisition, but what all does that entail when you’re working on, say, the $50,000 book project? Can you just go over what’s included, what you do, and give us an idea of that because I think that’s a really attractive package for many writers.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, of course. I certainly loved it. So with $50,000, I also… I put a lot in my offer that kind of separated me from most ghostwriters. So obviously the book, right? We’re going to come together. We’re going to do discovery calls. We’re going to figure out exactly what your goals are for the book, how you’re going to use the book, how you use the book to grow your business. What do you want the book to do for you, right? If you create this book and then every plan you have for this book goes perfectly, What does the next three years look like? Right? So we get really clear on that. We talk about the audience. We do the outline and finalize the outline. We do the interviews. 

Interviews are different depending on if you’re working with something like a business book or if you’re doing like a memoir. I had one guy, one time we were doing his memoir project and we were at like the end of his life in the book. And he just nonchalantly mentioned his time, uh, working as a contractor for the CIA. And I was like, Where was this when we were talking about your late 20s? And he’s like, oh, it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was just a little while. And I was like, you were a spy. You were literally as fine. You didn’t want to talk about that in your memoir. So with memoirs, I learned my lesson. I do all my interviews up front now before I start writing. 

But with business books, it’s like, do an interview, write a chapter. Do an interview, write a chapter. So you write the first draft, and the first draft is ugly. Even though the first draft, once I present it to a client, it’s been cleaned up a little bit. It would be horrifying if the client could see what the book looked like as I was writing it. All right, like some people are like, oh yeah, put me in the Google Docs so I can see what you’re writing. No, you’re going to let me go if you see what’s happening in the Google Doc before I get a chance to go through it. So do the first draft, and then we do a whole big editing thing. And I like Google Docs just because you can be collaborative so easily. Like, we’ll get on a Google Meet together, we’ll look at the Google Doc together, and we’ll just go through things together. And it’s very, very easy. So do that. 

And then we do the final draft. It looks all pretty and it looks like a proper book. And at that point, I kind of take a step back and I take on a real advisory role. I’m like, OK, cool. Let’s talk about publishing. Well, really, publishing is something you talk about at the beginning, because if you want to do traditional publishing, you have to put together a book proposal and get that kind of going. pretty soon. But we’ll talk about publishing. I have relationships with a bunch of book publishers, hybrid publishers, agents. If they want to do self-publishing, I know book cover designers, ISBN people, book launch people, audiobook people. I can connect you to everyone that you need to be connected with in order to write your book and to get it actually published, to get it in bookstores, to get it in people’s hands, to get it in your hand. If you want to make a whole big book funnel that is a self-liquidating funnel, cool, I know a guy to do that. 

And so once we actually create and write the book, I kind of become like a project manager for my client and I make sure that these other contractors do their jobs and we create this book together so that when my client is done working with me, they have an actual book they can hold. A lot of ghostwriters are like, oh, we wrote your manuscript. Here you go. Good luck. And so I kind of take it a step further. I make sure that they have the book in hand by the time we’re done working together. While we’re writing the book, I’ll do thought leadership consulting. Like, how do you use this book? How do you use it to get into a speaking circuit or something like that? And I’ll do a lot of guest experts and stuff like that, that I’ll reach out to on behalf of my client. I’ll network my client with those guest experts and stuff like that. So that’s kind of like what my holistic book writing package looks like.

Rob Marsh: And today, what would you charge for that typical package? If you were helping me write my book, let’s say it’s 10 to 12-ish chapters, we anticipate we can write it over the next four or five months, what would you be charging for that?

Ryan Guthrie: It would be $50,000.

Rob Marsh: Okay, $50,000. Okay, so one of the challenges with being a ghostwriter is that your name isn’t actually on the book in most cases. Sometimes it is. Sometimes you’re in the credits, you know, thank yous, that kind of thing. But, you know, Getting the word out that I just helped this guru write their book is a little bit different. In fact, oftentimes there’s a non-disclosure agreement as part of this because they want to be seen as the thought leader. So before we leave the idea of ghostwriting books, how do you market yourself as a ghostwriter? How do you get the word out there that you have helped create this massive value for your clients when it’s hard to do because of the limits placed on you as a ghostwriter?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, I kind of hit that head on. I tell my clients because they sign my contract. My contract has a pretty ironclad NDA in it that’s like, hey, I’m not going to talk about your book unless you give me express permission to talk about your book. I take it very seriously. I don’t mention books that I’ve written. Some ghostwriters, they put the titles on their websites and stuff like that. I don’t do that. I say, you know, you’re paying for me to be a ghost. I’m going to be a ghost. But also two things about getting clients. 

One, clients of the caliber that want a ghostwritten book, they can usually tell the level of expertise you have from the conversations you have. Like if you’re able to talk to them and you can talk about publishing, you can talk about word counts for chapters and how to break chapters up and how to have an overarching narrative and all this stuff. They get a feel for like, okay, this guy knows what he’s doing. He can, he’s probably worked with some, some decent clients. 

The second thing is that sometimes clients will be like, Hey, you know, I don’t want you to go into a public setting and, you know, shout from the rooftop that you wrote my book. But if you’re in a private one-on-one setting with someone and you’re trying to get them as a client, you can, you can drop my name. You can mention me. You can mention the book we wrote together. Just private, one-on-one, not anywhere public.

Kira Hug: Will you ask for that permission if it feels good with that client and you’re like, I’m pretty sure they won’t care? Or do you just wait and you’re like, I’m not going to mention, I’m not going to ask for anything unless they mention it to me first?

Ryan Guthrie: If it’s a project I’m especially proud of, yeah, I’ll ask. Like, hey, no pressure. We have our NDA in place. I’m not going to go blabbermouthing about our work together, but would it be okay if I talk about the work we did together privately, one-on-one with a client, with a potential client in order to get them as a client? And usually they’re like, oh yeah, that’s fine.

Kira Hug: So I guess I shouldn’t ask you all the books you’ve ghostwritten. That was my next question.

Rob Marsh: Not while we’re recording, maybe after.

Ryan Guthrie: I’ve written some sales books, some leadership books, like those how-to business books. I’ve written a memoir for a politician, which that’s a whole real fun story because that was like the worst client I’ve ever had in my life. So that’s fun.

Kira Hug: Okay. Can you just speak to why that was the worst client? Give us a good story about that. Can’t skip over that.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah. So imagine someone who when they’re facing the public, they’re this very charismatic, kind individual, and then behind closed doors, they’re the most self-obsessed, self-brandizing person you can imagine. That’s every politician out there.

Rob Marsh: Right.

Ryan Guthrie: So there was a debate. There was an agent that I was working through, because he was too good to actually do all the communication with me. So I was like, all right, whatever, man. And she claimed that she knew so much about the industry and how to write books and all this stuff. And I don’t think she knew anything, because she’s like, well, I want the structure to be like this. I’m like, well, I don’t think that’s the best way to go. I think we should focus on this, this, and this. She’s like, no. No, I’ve done this before. I’m like, OK. And then all these other like, well, I’ll teach you how to do all this stuff. I’ll teach you how to get into these big circles. And that never happened. 

And we got almost the entire book done. And then she took a look at it. And she’s like, well, I talked with so and so. And we think the last half of the book needs to be rewritten.  What do you mean? Where was, uh, where was this? I was giving you updates along the way. Why, uh, why all of a sudden? And they were like, do you want to fly out to this person’s, uh, you know, the state they’re in and, uh, get this really nice hotel that you guys can do the interviews and in person, they, they think they need to be in person. And I was like, uh, not on my own dime. No, that’s no, if you want to fly me out and you want to get the room. Probably still no, but I’ll consider it, but definitely not on my own dime. So it was just the phone calls at 2 or 3 a.m.

Kira Hug: How did you resolve the book?

Ryan Guthrie: What was that?

Kira Hug: How did you finish it then? How did you wrap up the book?

Ryan Guthrie: I wrapped it up with the full the text and it was a full completed manuscript. I said this is what we agreed to. This is what you commissioned me to do. I’m not going to rewrite the entire second half of this book. If you want to go bother another writer to finish this in your eyes, whatever, I’m done.” Okay. It was a very clean cut and I never even got a response from either of them, the agent or the person. After that, they just kind of like went cold turkey and I was like, all right.

Kira Hug: Is the book out there? Has it been published? No. Okay. Okay.

Ryan Guthrie: All right.

Kira Hug: Well, yay for boundaries. Well done with your boundaries.

Ryan Guthrie: Most of my contract was built from that relationship. Like, what do I never want to happen again? All of these things.

Kira Hug: Okay, I want to ask you just about stacking projects because, again, like you’re talking about a, you know, a big book project with the client, hopefully not nightmare clients like that, but really intense work and then retainers that are maybe 15k include sales pages and probably a lot of deliverables. So when you were doing that, how were you stacking projects so that it would work and it wouldn’t burn you out?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah. So I, I am a big fan of working part time hours. So I probably work maybe 25 hours a week. And so with retainers of that size, maybe two, two at a time, you’re going to stay pretty busy with two of that size. You figure you’re writing maybe a sales page in a week, week and a half. Um, Assuming that the client already sent you all the information and research you need to actually write the sales page, the client that I’m talking about that did the $15,000 a month, they were very cool. Before every project, they sent me an entire creative brief. They were like, here’s all the research and everything that we want you to use. If you need anything else, let us know. And holy cow, if I asked any questions, I had the information within two days. They were a dream client. So with retainers like that, maybe one or two at a time, if you want to do part-time work, I like part-time work. I know when I started doing the whole entrepreneurial thing, I was like, hey, I want my work to fit in around my life. 

I don’t want my life to have to fit in around my work. I want life to come first. And so I built it that way. And then with book projects, the interesting thing is that you can do an interview with a client, and then you can write their chapter. Say you do an interview on Tuesday, you have that chapter written by Thursday. Well, now your next interview isn’t until next Wednesday. So what are you, what are you going to do? So I usually recommend working with two, three, four clients at a time. Um, that way you can stagger the clients and you always have work to do, right? If you send something off to one client, they have to review it, revise it, give you, um, you know, editing requests or anything like that. Okay, cool. You can work with this other client while that’s happening. You can, it’s. It’s actually much easier to juggle that than you might think, just because these people are typically hiring a ghostwriter because they’re really busy. So if you give them part of that work to do, it might take them a couple of days, maybe a week to actually go through something and give you their feedback on it. So usually for me personally, I would do three to four at a time.

Rob Marsh: To make that work, you’ve got to be pretty disciplined about getting the work done though. A lot of copywriters would do that interview and then let it sit until you’ve got to deliver the chapter a week later. And it sounds like you do the interview and you’re sitting down writing. So do you have secrets around personal discipline, getting stuff done, making sure that you’re not procrastinating and using your time well?

Ryan Guthrie: I think the biggest secret I have to give is to offer a service you genuinely love to fulfill. For me, I loved writing books for people. I loved listening to their stories. I love listening to their expertise because when you’re writing a book for someone like that, you’re getting paid a very large amount of money to be taught one-on-one by them, right? You get to sit down on your Zoom meeting and they teach you one-on-one for that hour. I find that exhilarating, right? Like I said, big nerd. And so when we would get done with an interview, I would want to write the chapter right away. I’d want to get it done. I would want to write it. I wouldn’t want to wait because that’s just how my brain works. And so I think I naturally need a little bit less discipline because I just really like doing the work. I want to go do it as someone else. But yeah, if you If you kind of fumbled the ball on that and you don’t get the work done when you need to get it done, sure, you can do the next interview, right? And the client’s not gonna know that you haven’t written the last chapter yet. That’s your timeline. So you can do the next interview and then you can write two chapters that week, right? Or maybe they’re going away on a conference or something. They’re not gonna be available the next week for your next interview. 

So, okay, cool. You have two weeks now to write these two chapters or something like that. But then when you start adding in more and more clients, like you’re juggling four clients at a time, well then if you start letting things slip and things start building up it can kind of be a challenge to dig yourself out from that that hill so staying staying on top of and being disciplined just i mean like any other career you know be especially if you’re self-employed like you have to be on top of your time you have to be disciplined in that manner you’re going to run into a lot of problems

Kira Hug: Okay, so when you’re talking about these interviews, this is getting granular, but you’re talking about with the one, if it’s a business book, it’s with that client. So we’re going to schedule weekly interviews and you are setting up the questions to cover different topics. So it is chapter based and organized from the beginning with how you structure your interviews. You’re not necessarily like having this three hour conversation and then turning that, figuring out how to turn that into multiple chapters and pulling out the topics from there, right?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah. So we start with the, with the outline, we create the outline and we get pretty detailed with the outline. And I always make sure to tell them, you know, the outline is there to serve us. We’re not there to serve the outline. It will change naturally as this book evolves, as we write it, as we do the work together, the outline is going to change a little bit and that’s okay. So when we get the outline finalized, finalized, um, We’ll come together for the interviews right and say we’re doing the interview for chapter 3. Okay, we’ll show up to the chapter I like using lots of storytelling in chapters, right people remember and learn from stories better than anything else.  I say okay, do you have any stories about this particular subject that we’re talking about? Tell me like a time where you succeeded with it you struggle with it. You know someone that maybe you taught how to do this and they struggled they succeeded with it. Then we’ll talk about this topic and I’ll let them know what we’re talking about ahead of time. But I’ll sit down. I’m like, can you teach this to me? Like pretend you’re on stage. I’m the audience. Teach this to me. And they’ll start teaching me. And then, you know, I can keep it pretty on the rails, right? If they start to, and it’s a fine line too, because you got to realize you want to keep them on track, but also know that those, those real diamonds of information and storytelling, those happen in the tangents that they can go off of. Right. And so it’s, it’s knowing when to let them go off on the little tangents and when to keep them on track and keep them. teaching you the material that you’re going to need to write that chapter.

Rob Marsh: Speaking of tangents, we’ve kind of been on this book writing tangent. We started out talking about how to land clients. And when we started, you said there are three ways to do this, paid ads, inbound, and outbound. We’ve been talking about outbound pretty in depth. Let’s touch on paid ads and inbound and the role that those might play. Maybe not initially as you’re getting started in business, but ultimately at some point they become really big, you know, really important ways to attract clients to your business.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah. So paid advertising is the easy one. That’s the one that you want to go into when you want to scale, right? You have some capital laying around that you can invest in figuring out how to reach your target audience with those ads, right? They’re expensive. You’re probably going to lose a few thousand dollars figuring out exactly how to get those to work. With inbound, you can probably start doing inbound the same time you do outbound, you know, create content, do stuff, um, and realize it’s going to take a little while to actually get that, get that ball rolling. What I like to do, and I love direct outreach, outbound, for reaching very specific people that I want to work with. That’s fantastic for that. It’s not my favorite way to get clients, because you’re going to do a lot of it, right? It’s still quality over quantity, but quantity is still a factor. 

My favorite way to get clients is actually by building strategic partnerships, right? I build partnerships with people that they send clientele to me. I have people that have sent me Gosh, I think it’s five book projects at this point. Um, which if you do the math, it’s like $250,000 that this one person has sent me. And so that’s probably my favorite way. I think strategic partnerships is a way to combine the best aspects of outbound with the best aspects of inbound and you mesh them together and then you get to do very high leverage, um, activities that result in a lot of clientele coming in.

Kira Hug: So let’s say I want to do that. I want to do strategic partnerships. I’d like to have one or two clients by July. How would I break that down so I can get started today and build some momentum?

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, there’s a couple different ways you could do it. One of the ways that I would do it is I would find someone who offers a parallel service to me. but they don’t offer my service and they service the same type of clientele. So one of the ones that worked really well for me is I would go find book coaches. I’d find people that coach people on how to write books and I would reach out to them and say, Hey, um, I know you’re a book coach. Do you ever get those clients that come along that they want to write a book, but frankly, they’re just not a good writer. They don’t have the time. And so they’re frustrated because they want to write the book. but they can’t write the book. Do you ever get those people? They’re like, Oh yeah, all the time. So I say, okay, do you, do you help them write the books? Well, they say, well, no, we just do book coaching. They have to do the actual work. And I say, okay, um, would it make sense for us to maybe partner on this? When you get those people coming through your door and they can’t write the book themselves, um, you can white label my ghostwriting through your coaching thing. 

Say, okay, no worries. We have a ghostwriter that we can assign to, to help you with this book project. Right. So I would do that with book coaches. You can do it with people in the publishing industry, small independent publishers. They’re great to do this with, to be able to offer that to their clients. Acquisitions editors at bigger publishing houses. Those are great because they get paid when they acquire a book. And so they want people to have books coming to them. So they interact with someone who’s like, I want to write a book. I just can’t do it. And they have me in their back pocket and says, 

OK, don’t worry. I have a ghostwriter who can write your book with you, get it done four to six months, and then we can acquire your book. They say, oh, great. That’s awesome. Um, agents are another one agents I found are kind of, they’re kind of curmudgeony. They like, they have their people and then they stick with their people and they don’t ever want to like budge on that obvious generalization, but the few agents that I’ve reached out to, like, no, we have the covered. Don’t judge me again. Like, all right, no worries. So it’s finding those people who would, their business would do better by having access and being able to provide your service. Right. So there’s one. The other one that’s really, really fun to do is to do kind of what I call like creative collaborations, right? Find someone who has your ideal clients in their audience, right? For book-ghost writing, because I did a lot of leadership stuff, I would find leadership masterminds, right? Leadership seminars, stuff like that. And I would reach out to them and I would say, hey, do your people ever get interested in thought leadership type stuff? They say, oh yeah, all the time. I say, okay, cool. What do you guys do with that? They say, well, do a little bit here and there and some of this stuff.

And I say, Okay, cool. I’m actually a ghost writer. And I specialize in writing books and creating really powerful thought leadership assets and teaching people how to be thought leaders with their books. Do you think that would be something that’s interesting to your audience? They say, Oh yeah, that probably would be interesting. Cool. Can I, can I do like a free training for them? Can I put on a free workshop for them to show them how to maybe how to outline a book and how to use a book as a thought leadership tool? They say, yeah, that’s sure. That sounds great. So now you, get to go into their audience that they’ve spent years building.

You don’t have to spend years building this audience. You have to go over and borrow this audience and you get to demonstrate your expertise and help people with some sort of free training. I’ve done, you know, I use this all the time. I’ve done YouTube interviews. I’ve done guest blog posts. I’ve done guest newsletters, all kinds of stuff to get my expertise in front of people, help people genuinely. You don’t want it to just be a, Ooh, come buy my stuff. You ought to genuinely be something that’s like, Oh, that’s really helpful. Thank you. So I would do that with ghostwriting too with a lot of leadership stuff, a lot of like sales training organizations and stuff like that with people, their audience would be full of like sales trainers because I like sales. I’m a nerd. Um, so I would do that over and over again too. And those are sort of evergreen lead generators for you.

Rob Marsh: So a lot of that stuff works for books. Obviously, a copywriter who’s listening that doesn’t write books can figure out who are their strategic partnerships. One of the things that we hear a lot about from people as far as inbound goes is that you need to be creating content. We’ve talked to a bunch of people who are putting things up on LinkedIn on almost a daily basis in order to attract their clients or they run their own blog, that kind of thing. Has that ever been part of your strategy, Ryan? And if so, how have you done it? If not, why not?

Ryan Guthrie: It is never a bad idea to create content to start building your brand, right? I’ll say that up front. It’s never a bad idea. Creating content, it’s a very useful and versatile thing. for you to do for your business. It’s a good thing to do. I haven’t done it because I frankly don’t like it. I don’t like creating my own content. I don’t like managing my own content distribution channels. I don’t like doing these things. Right. And so I was like, okay, I’m not going to, cause my business, I am a firm believer that you should enjoy your business. Right. And so I was like, okay, if I’m doing all that stuff, I’m not going to enjoy it. Um, and so I was like, okay, I, I’m not going to. So if you, if you go to my, any of my social media profiles, you’re going to see this really funny pattern of he tried for a week and then he got frustrated and he gave up maybe a month ago by, and you’ll see he tried for a week.

Rob Marsh: And then he gave up again. Same pattern on my social media.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, it’s a it’s a curse fired to write some LinkedIn posts or something. And then he went like cold turkey on it and to do it again. Um, but that being said, right, like I don’t have a lot of content out there, right. That being said, um, I make multiple six figures from my services, not even including my like consulting package that I have going right now, just from copywriting and ghostwriting. I made multiple six figures with no content strategy, just knowing what to say and who to say it to what partnerships to build, who to reach out to, how to do that outreach. Right. So if you want to do it, absolutely go for it. It’s never a bad idea to create content, to create this, this, this brand building tool of content creation, right? Never a bad idea. If you really don’t want to, you don’t have to. Maybe if I’m going to scale up to seven figures or something like that. Yeah. It probably needs to become part of my, my arsenal at some point. I need to devote some time to doing that, but from where I’m at right now, it hasn’t been a big part of my strategy.

Kira Hug: Okay so let’s talk about mindset about client acquisition related to client acquisition because you know you talking about it can make it sound easy and you you know have built your confidence in that muscle over time. But it is something that just can wear a writer down very quickly, especially when it’s like, this isn’t working, or I’m being ghosted by everyone. And I did put in the effort. I did personalize the email. It took me an hour to write it, and I still haven’t heard back. And so do you have advice as far as how we can channel our mindset to stay in the client acquisition game and not just remove ourselves completely from it.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah. You can, the unfortunate reality is that you can put a lot of effort into it and it’s still not that good. Right. You might think it’s good, but objectively it might not be very good. Right. So there’s, there is that it has to be objectively good. Secondly, I like a lot of my, like I said, my value based outreaches, they’re based on being helpful and trying to solve a problem with my service. So if someone says no to that, They’re saying no to solving their problem. They’re not saying no to me. They’re not saying, oh, Ryan, you’re a terrible freelancer. You have no idea what you’re talking about. You know, go back to your day job. They’re just saying no to that service at that time. Right? I don’t take that personally. Fine. Cool. I’ve said no to services where I thought the person was, you know, they’re cool person. Cool. This is a cool service. I just don’t need it right now. Right. So it’s doing that. And I’ll say, once you get a system in place and you figure out something that works, that starts working consistently, getting those first few wins and knowing like, okay, if I send 20 emails, I’m going to get two people that are going to, going to work with me or, you know, something like that. Well, then it kind of starts getting a little exciting. You’re like, okay, I know that if I send a hundred emails, 15 people are going to get on a call with me of those five are going to want to work with me or something like that. Right. Then it kind of becomes a little bit less stressful because you’re like, Oh, I’m not just kind of throwing pitches into the void. I know that I’m going to get something back for this. That’s with direct outreach though. 

With building the strategic partnerships, it’s really cool because you can send these pitches out. I’ve never had someone be grumpy when they got one of those pitches, right? Because you’re just offering something valuable. Hey, would it be valuable for you if you could offer this service to your clients? Hey, would it be valuable for you if I taught your audience this thing, right? I’ve never had someone come back and be like, no, how dare you? Go kick rocks. No, because you’re offering something valuable. Because with people that create content, it’s the hamster wheel of death for content creators. They always have to be creating content, always. They’re always thinking about the next thing to create, the next piece that they can put together for their audience. 

And so if you come along, you’re like, hey, can I make something for them? They’re like, yes, please, please, give me a break, please. Please do this thing for me. And so doing those kinds of pitches, fun, to be frank, because a lot of people are really enthusiastic when they get back to you. I just had one person get back to me yesterday and they were like, you must know what you’re doing because I loved your pitch. And I was like, OK, cool. I kind of know what I’m doing.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, I think there’s probably an aspect here, too, where if you’re looking at this as building relationships, building friendships, It’s less about the project, which is really easy to reject and it becomes a longer term play where, and play is even the wrong word. It sounds like we’re being manipulative there. If you’re truly interested in helping somebody solve a problem, truly interested in giving them ideas, making that connection, having them in your circle of friends, relationships, your network, however you want to call that. It also changes the mindset here a little bit. So obviously nobody wants to be ghosted when you’re trying to reach out and create a friendship, but it’s not an immediate rejection, right? And if you can take that time to actually build a relationship, maybe that makes it a bit easier too. Not really a question, just kind of a comment on your approach.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, I think something that a lot of copywriters need to know is like, a lot of the people that you’re reaching out to, they’re genuinely just really busy. Maybe they had every intention to reach back out to, And just, you know, 17 fires popped up that they ought to put out. And they just, they forgot. That’s why follow up is so important. You have to follow up with people. I’ve followed it with people and they said, Hey, thanks for following up. I was meaning to get to this and I just genuinely forgot. And as far as the partnership thing, I use a kind of a dorky name, but I use the barbecue test, right? If I’m building a relationship with this person, the strategic partner, if we were both at a, at a backyard barbecue together, would I go hang out with them?

Rob Marsh: Yeah.

Ryan Guthrie: I want my relationships to be to that point. I would go hang out with them at a barbecue. Sure. And so I think keeping that in mind, if that’s where I want the relationship to get to is really fun. Cause a lot of my, my partners now for ghostwriting and copywriting and stuff, we have each other’s phone number and we’ll just text a meme that we think is funny. That’s really nerdy and really industry specific. And we just, we cackle about it because it’s funny. Right. I think getting to that point, I think doing business with friends is like the best way to do it.

Kira Hug: Yeah, I love that approach. And I know we’re at time, Ryan. So I have, I think one, maybe two questions. If you have time to go over. Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Well, I was also going to add, I don’t know if you remember your pitch to our podcast. But it was a really beautifully and masterfully done as well, of course, because you included a screenshot. You gave a review of our podcast and complimented our podcast with a genuine comment. And then you went further and you were like, also, I just gave you a review and you included the screenshot of you giving us a review, which is what we want, right? Podcasters want reviews. That’s how we gain more followers and listeners. So that was really cool. I don’t think we’ve had anyone do that before.

Rob Marsh: Maybe one other person, it’s been, yeah, it’s not very common. Bad pitches, very common. This is, yeah, a little uncommon.

Ryan Guthrie: Yeah, it’s like how, what can I send as an initial contact point? What can I send to this person that’s going to build a little bit of a relationship? What can I do that they want? What do they want? Okay, they have a podcast. What do all podcasters want? They want reviews. They want views. You know, people saying cool stuff about their podcast. It’s like, okay, cool. I will do that. I mean, all right. I’ve given you guys a five star review for like the last four years, because I’ve, I’ve listened a lot. So I was like, I’m gonna go take a screenshot and show them. Hey, I love and support what you guys do. And I’m gonna, I’m gonna show you that. I would love to come on and talk about some of my stuff, too, I think would be useful for your audience. And I love what you do. So good.

Kira Hug: I’m going to snag it. I’m going to do that with podcasts when I pitch podcasts too. My question is, you mentioned a couple of times working part-time is really important. Part-time hours is important to you and putting life first before business. I guess my question is just how do you manage that and keep that in check? Maybe it’s easier for you than I think a lot of us want to do that, but it’s just It’s a struggle. Business creeps in and all of a sudden we’re working constantly. So how do you keep that in check in your own life?

Ryan Guthrie: Ooh, very timely question. I spent all of last week in Disneyland with my family.

Kira Hug: That’s nice.

Ryan Guthrie: They’re a week gone. Personally, I like to take about a week-long vacation every month. I love going places. I love going on trips. It’s important to me. So I made that kind of a big thing I wanted to do. I want to take about a week every month to go relax, vacation. And so how do you do that when you’re managing a business, right? Um, for me, a lot of it. So with, with, it’s different if you’re going to be like copywriting or ghostwriting, it really depends on what kind of service you’re offering people. Cause like for me now with doing consulting, I just block off that week and I say, Hey, we’re not going to do any calls this week. And that’s kind of that. I talked to my clients. They’re like, cool. Scheduled for the next week. So that’s easy with copywriting. 

There’s a couple of different things you can do, do it up front. You know, have that week beforehand where you just like, Hey, I’m going to go on a trip this week. Um, and this, this also really pertains to like the quality of client that you get. Cause if you get a really quality client and you say, Hey, I’m going to go on a trip this next week. I want to do all this work up front. Is that cool? They say, yeah, sure. Right. As opposed to a not quality content, um, uh, not quality, uh, clients, then they’re going to be like, well, no, you can’t go. You can’t, you have to stay here with me and you have to do this with me. It’s so. The quality of your clients is gonna be a big thing there. With ghostwriting, it’s like, hey, do you mind if we push this one interview off for a week? It’s not that big of an ask when it’s a really big, drawn-out project, right? So it’s just, it’s having the confidence to know that you can take time off, like you don’t have to work all the time. That’s okay, you can take time off. You can communicate that to your clients, it’s totally fine. And just being prepared to maybe do a little bit more work this week, or maybe do a little bit more catch-up work or something like that, If you’re like me and you genuinely love what you do, okay, I get back to the hotel from Disneyland at 9 or 10 o’clock and I do maybe an hour of work just because I like it.

Kira Hug: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that. My last two questions that I’m going to kind of smush together, what is a struggle right now in your business because you’ve shared so many amazing things you’re doing well, but what are you struggling with today and then what’s next for you? What’s coming up next?

Ryan Guthrie: Ooh, I think a struggle right now. It is, it’s just finding out how I can structure things to serve my clients the absolute best that I can. Cause I know with, with courses and group coaching, like that’s, those are great. I’ve gotten a ton of value from those, but the most growth happens from one-on-one really in-depth, intimate, personal coaching consulting. So I’m like, how can I structure this? How can I offer the most value possible to my people? So that they’re like working with Ryan was the best investment I ever made. Right. So that’s, that’s a big thing right now. Not necessarily a struggle, but something that I’m working for, uh, towards and then what’s in the future for me, um, building this consulting thing. I actually, I’ve only been doing this for, uh, since February of this year. So this is kind of like a new venture for me. So it’s, it’s building this thing up and, and, uh, and seeing this thing be successful. Like the last two things were the copywriting, the ghostwriting, and now I’m doing this. I’m going to, I’m going to grow this one up. So that’s, that’s kind of what’s on the horizon for me.

Rob Marsh: So Ryan, if somebody has been listening, they wanna follow you or connect with you in some way, where should they go?

Ryan Guthrie: Ooh, they can head over to my website, They can connect with me there. If they wanna talk about potentially working with me, we can do a quick little discovery call if they want. They wanna send me an email, they can do that. That’s probably gonna be where I’m most responsive. You can connect with me on LinkedIn if you want. I might not get back to you as quickly, because like I said, I’m not a huge social media person. But you can do that also, but the website and emailing me, that’s probably going to be your best shot at getting a response ASAP.

Rob Marsh: Perfect. Thank you for sharing so much, especially, I wasn’t expecting a lot of the ghostwriting stuff, but as that came up in the conversation, I think it’s been really helpful. It’s got me thinking about a couple of additional things, ways that I might be able to help my clients and just opening up about more of the things that we can be doing to attract clients into our businesses, because it is a challenge for a lot of copywriters.

Ryan Guthrie: So thank you. Thank you so much. It was an absolute honor and a pleasure to speak with you guys.

Rob Marsh: Thanks again to Ryan for joining us to chat about finding clients and ghostwriting books. Before we wrap, let me just mention a couple of things that stood out to me. We talked about the three ways to get clients. There’s outbound, there’s inbound and paid ads. And of those, the one that gives you the most control is definitely outbound or reaching out to the clients that you want to work with. Oftentimes we call it pitching. Without bound, you get to choose who you pitch. You get to choose what kinds of projects to ask them about. You get to set the boundaries for the project. So it’s a really good way to get clients into your business. 

Look for clients who have money to spend, who are already using copy or who’ve worked with copywriters in the past. Show up with an offer, something that you spell out yourself, the problem that you solve, and don’t make your prospect have to figure out how you can help. We talked about how a lot of copywriters show up and say, you need a blog post. I can do that. You need email. I can do that. Well, that’s not the best way to pitch a client. You want to show up, showing them that you understand the problem that they have and that you have the right solution at a fair price. 

Ryan’s suggestion to always share social proof is also a good one. When prospects see that you’ve solved that problem before, you’re more likely to get their attention. Make sure when you do this, that you’re making a small ask. This is a huge mistake that copywriters often make. We ask for something that adds friction to the entire process, a sales call in particular. Hop on and we’ll talk about how I can help you. Better than doing that is to share an idea for free or share several ideas for free and then offer to share more. Don’t ask for a sales call, but maybe offer to discuss ways that you might be able to help, discuss a brainstorming session, those kinds of interactions that might create that easy yes for you. The bigger the ask you make, the harder it is for potential clients to say yes. 

And by the way, if you want help with this process, this is exactly what we share in the P7 Client Acquisition System. That system includes more than 20 different fill-in-the-blank templates that you can use to connect With your ideal clients, you basically just have to put in your information and send it out. You’ll learn how to create a pitching habit. You’re going to get tracking tools to help make sure that the follow-up process is easier, almost automatic, and a lot more. To find out more about this, go to, and you’ll see everything there that it includes. 

While we’re talking about this pitching and adding clients, pay attention to what Ryan said about strategic partnerships. We’ve coached a lot of copywriters who have connected with designers and agencies and other service providers in order to provide copywriting or content writing services to their clients. The right connections can be a goldmine for your business. And don’t sleep on connections with other copywriters because if they understand that you serve a particular niche or you solve a particular problem that they don’t do themselves, they may refer business to you as well. 

Finally, we talked a little bit about the sales call, making sure that it’s a consultative call. We want to treat that call like a roadmapping session, not a call to sell your prospect on all the ways that you can help them or on your skills or on the ways that you work. You’re asking about their problems and you’re having them outline exactly what they need. You’re simply figuring out what the problem is. Then you can suggest ways that you might help. That’s a consultative sales call. Okay. Thanks again to Ryan for sharing so much about his process for finding clients and opening up about what works right now. Also for going into detail on book writing. We didn’t expect to talk about that, but we did and we appreciate that. 

If you want to connect with Ryan, you can do that at As he said, he’s also on LinkedIn, but he’s not there all that often. So you might have to wait just a little bit if you try to connect with him there. 

That’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts to leave your review and let us know what you like about the show.


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