B2B Writers International

How to Trade Up to Bigger and Better B2B Writing Clients

4 minute read

Did you know someone in Canada once ‘bought’ a house with a paperclip?

It sounds incredible, but it’s true. Inspired by the childhood game Bigger, Better, a man named Kyle MacDonald started with a red paperclip and decided to see if he could trade his way up to a house.

He traded the paperclip for a pen, then traded the pen for a doorknob. After a year and a series of 14 trades, he became the owner of a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan. (You can hear his TedX talk about his experience here. It’s a cool story!)

To me, this story shows that with enough creativity, time, and persistence, you can leverage what you have now to get what you want.

This is exactly how B2B freelancing works.

We don’t start with much — maybe a core set of skills, an idea, and some time.

We trade those assets for clients and paying projects. With persistence, we’re able to get better and better clients and projects.

So how can we end up with better clients?

Two things: we first have to start the trading process. And second, we have to be looking for ways to trade up.

Let’s explore how to do this through some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Tip #1: Figure Out What You Have to Offer

If you don’t know what you have to offer that might be valuable to someone else, it’s hard to begin the process.

When you’re starting out, it might be something as simple as writing blogs or emails.

But as you progress, you’ll want to refine your offer so it’s more and more valuable for your target audience.

For instance, with time and experience, instead of “writing blogs,” your offer might be “a 90-day content calendar for medical device companies.”

Build the best offer you can… then get paid to deliver that offer. Keep refining your offer, and you’ll be able to charge more and more for your services.

Tip #2: Connections Are Your Way In

Business owner and B2B expert Michael Katz likes to say that “your first client is probably someone you know.” 

Connections are your ticket onto the trading floor.

These “connections” don’t have to be fancy. They might be someone who owns a business… works as a marketer or executive at a business… or knows someone who could hire you.

In the first years of your business, you might get random projects in your business, since your connections are somewhat random.

But if you commit to a niche, and get to know more people in this industry, you’ll know more and more people who can connect you with the work you want. 

Tip #3: Capture the Wins

When I first began my copywriting journey, I didn’t think much about documenting client results or testimonials.

Now, this is a key part of my process. Every time a client gives me positive feedback, I document it. Any time I contribute to a big win for a client, I document it.

You should do this, too.

In the beginning, the wins might feel small. But this social proof is incredibly valuable for landing future projects.

Over time, you can continue to update your portfolio so your dream clients see it and can’t wait to hire you.

Tip #4: Leverage Client Experience for the Projects You Want

A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be targeting tech companies. And yet that’s exactly what I’m doing now! So how did I gain the confidence?

It all started with an agency who gave me a broad range of experience in different industries.

With that one agency, I worked on a lawn care project… a medical software project… a consulting firm project… and an engineering safety firm.

This broad experience helped me see what I liked and didn’t like. And my experience working with the engineering firm showed me I had a lot to offer technical clients.

How can you try this strategy for yourself?

With every client project, consider how it connects to the projects you really want.

Whether it’s project type… the industry… or a skill you’re developing on that project, use this as proof that you can handle bigger and better stuff.

Tip #5: Invest Back into the Business

When “trading up” to better B2B clients, you don’t need to spend much money. Most of the results will come from time and effort.

But as your business becomes more and more successful, you’ll have more resources to invest in new opportunities.

Here’s my own system as an example. I invest 30% of my net profits back into the business. This investment might be to attend an industry event, purchase a course, or buy software.

The goal of these investments is to improve your business so you can work with better clients and earn more in less time.

Your own system might vary. But the bottom line is with time, you can use some of your surplus resources to get better projects and clients.

Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

Let’s circle back to Kyle MacDonald, our paperclip trader for a moment.

Do you think he would’ve gotten a house if he wasn’t working at it intentionally?

No! He knew what his goal was, and at every point, he thought strategically about how to use what he had to get to the next step.

In the same way, you’ve got to keep your eyes on your own goal. What kind of lifestyle are you looking for with your B2B business? What kinds of clients and projects do you ultimately want?

Clarifying your ideal clients is a key part of trading up to better clients. If you’re not sure how to tackle this, don’t worry! In next week’s installment, you’ll learn how to clarify your ideal client.