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Finding your niche with Josh Garofalo

Josh shares how he built leverage to confidently start freelancing full-time and how Canadian freelancers can stand out from the noise by identifying a niche early.

Josh Garofalo is a SaaS consultant and copywriter at swaycopy.com. Since 2015, he has helped dozens of SaaS companies get more leads and sales, including clients such as HubSpot, Wave, Unbounce, and Hotjar.

In this episode, Josh and Mohammed talk about how Canadian freelancers can build a successful business by identifying a niche that can help them stand out from the noise.

Short on time? Skip to the parts you're most interested in.

[00:51] Getting started with freelancing

[06:58] Acquiring clients quickly by identifying a niche

[09:46] Finding a niche for your business

[11:32] Using your full-time job to create leverage

[15:48] Building a reputation within your niche

[17:58] Positioning yourself for the right opportunities

[20:36] Testing new business offerings

[25:00] Value of finding your niche and choosing your clients

[27:48] How Canadian freelancers can find their niche

[33:03] Considerations for freelancers as they find their niche

If you enjoyed the conversation, check out more episodes of our podcast. You can subscribe to Freelance Canada on Apple Podcasts or listen to it wherever you get your podcast. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the episode.

Mohammed: How about we get started by getting a sense of what is it that you do as a freelancer?

Josh: It's changed a little bit over the years, but I would say 90% of [current] my projects are me jumping in and doing a fairly intensive research and audit project. [That means] getting to know their customer, their market, their competitors, and their product just as well as anyone on their team.

When it comes to their customers, I probably get to know them a little bit better than many of them because I don't have the same biases and blind spots that they might have. The end of that project is a bunch of voice-of-customer documents and a really concise list of deliverables and findings — so, not the traditional fancy sales deck and a 100-page report that a lot of big consulting firms will put out. 

Following that, [I start] executing on some of the top priority items which might be core landing pages, email campaigns, sales campaigns, and things of that nature.

Mohammed: Got it. And how would you describe this as a title to somebody who is looking to hire somebody of your expertise?

Josh: SaaS Consultant and Copywriter. When I first started, it was just ‘SaaS Copywriter’ because, like most freelancers, I mostly took orders at that point. Someone would say they needed a homepage, I'd give them a homepage and not really ask any questions. As I've grown in the industry, it's become more of a consulting gig where they might come to me with a set of questions or, or even proposed solutions.

Then, I'll turn the tables around and question them on that and figure out if it’s really what they need.

It's a bit of an education process where I have to show them that, in order to solve the right problem and to solve it convincingly, when it comes to copywriting especially, it's important to really understand the voice of the customer.

Mohammed: You mentioned you are doing research and market insights; What is the thought process behind that? What is it that leads a company to invest in that or for you to even turn around and tell them to put money into that before they do anything else?

Josh: The trigger is typically a website that isn't converting; an onboarding series that isn't actually getting people to use the product properly; sales emails that aren't working. Then, they'll come to me and they're usually not actually looking for research — they're looking for that quick fix (i.e. “Redo the three most trafficked pages on my site and that's going to fix the problem”).

So, it's a bit of an education process where I have to show them that, in order to solve the right problem and to solve it convincingly, when it comes to copywriting especially, it's important to really understand the voice of the customer. So, how do they talk about their problems, their solution, or their ideal solution?

How do they talk about competitors? And how can I organize all of that and bring it all together in such a way that - whether it's me or something on your team — you can pull from all of this organized and analyzed data (that I accumulate through surveys, interviews, message mining, digging up competitors)?

How do we bring all this together and actually choose the right problems to work on and then make sure that the ideal customer is reflected in your positioning and in your copy?

Mohammed: This sounds awesome! And, how did you get started in this business or, more specifically, what has been your journey so far, and what was your launching off point?

Josh: It definitely goes way back. I won't go into too much detail on the childhood years, but if I were to glance through those quickly, some formative moments would have been: 

  • I remember writing a persuasive essay to keep school uniforms out of my school. 
  • I remember writing a persuasive letter to my mom and dad to convince them to give me a Nintendo64 for Christmas.
  • In junior high and high school, I was known as the guy who wrote love letters to the girls in order to get them to date me and, what a lot of people don't know, is that I also wrote them for my friends so that the girls would date them well. 
  • I used it to get into classes that I didn't have the prerequisites for.
  • I would reach out to entrepreneurs in town and get them to meet with me over lunch and they'd often end up paying for lunch because I was a kid and [they were giving] me some of their wisdom. 

And then it really kicked off in university where I studied Psychology and Physiology.

What really got me going were those psychology courses where we got into why people make the choices they do and how those choices are influenced. Those were the courses that really click for me. And then, my graduate program is what funnelled all of that into my current direction.

[...] The University of Waterloo has a campus in Stratford. And they had a Master's program there that was kind of an MBA but focused on digital business. That's where I cut my teeth and really started to think about startups and technology [in terms of] where I might end up working.

I got a job at a startup immediately after graduating. It was there that I was tasked with writing a copy for the website and some of our onboarding emails. And, like most copywriters, I thought writing for websites, emails were just one of many things that a marketer does.

I didn't know that people can make a good living by getting really good at this stuff. So, it was on that journey that I found Copyhackers and Joanna. I don't know if you remember back in the early days, she would sometimes run some competitions on her site, and I won one of those which got me a ticket to Las Vegas, where she was speaking.

I worked up the courage to talk to her and asked her what I should do next and she told me, “Start a website.” So, I started a website: swaycopy.com. It looked a lot different (and by different I mean a lot worse). When I started in 2015, it was just a cheap Genesis theme that I threw up in a day or two.

I had a job at that time so the goal was just to document what I was learning about SaaS copywriting on the job. That was, I guess, the official launchpad. Those first couple of blog posts is where I got my first clients on the side without really trying.

There were people writing copy for SaaS companies, but no one had decided to call themselves the SaaS copywriter. So, I did that. I ranked almost immediately.

Mohammed: Wait, you put up a WordPress website and you just got clients?

Josh: Yeah, [...] I don't think it's always that easy. But I think I did something that a lot of freelancers, especially, don't do and that is I chose a niche right away. I called myself a SaaS Copywriter on day one. 

Right now, that's not a novel thing to do — you get at least a few pages on Google [search] results. But, at that time, there wasn't really any. There were people writing copy for SaaS companies, but no one had decided to call themselves the SaaS copywriter. So, I did that. I ranked almost immediately. And, in my opinion, the posts that I wrote were fairly mediocre.

But because they were focused on an audience, when these SaaS companies and the agencies that work with SaaS companies came across my posts, they thought, “Here's a guy who literally focuses on SaaS companies. I haven't seen that yet. Maybe he'd want to work with us.” And that's where I got my first couple of clients on retainer.

Shortly after that is when I quit my job.

Mohammed: Okay. There's quite a lot to unpack there. So: you launched this website and you got clients, some of whom [turned into] retainers, and then you quit your job. That just seems like such a dream. It's [like] something out of an Entourage episode where everything just works out. It's like, “Okay. Yeah, now I'm a movie star!” 

Let's dive into the part about you [explaining] that you are a SaaS copywriter. How much of that was intentional versus [...] a result of just exploring?

Josh: It was quite intentional. Not because I thought I was going to land a bunch of clients right away, but I just thought it would be a good way to stand out in a noisy space and maybe get some readers on my blog. That was my initial goal. Because when I looked around at copywriters, especially once I knew that was actually a thing, there weren't many that said they wrote copy for a specific niche.

They were just copywriters who wrote all types of copy, including things that I would call more content like blog posts and they would write it for anybody who is willing to pay them some money. 

Throughout those high school years and even junior high, I was always interested in business. I was always reading business books. So, this idea of actually choosing something and focusing [on it in order to] stand out versus [simply following] the market probably came a little bit more naturally to me than someone who falls into freelancing. It was quite intentional. Once I started to move towards it actually being a business, there were lots of good reasons to actually double down and stick with this whole idea of being ‘The SaaS Copywriter’. 

Mohammed: What is it about [calling yourself a] SaaS copywriter that felt so obvious to you?

Josh: For one, I was working at a SaaS company so I wasn't doing a Google search [on], “Which niche is the most profitable copywriting niche?” Because I know people in all types of odd niches including the pet accessory and food industry. There [are] copywriters doing well there. I would never think of that. Really, SaaS is what I knew. And when I dug a little bit deeper, especially when I was starting to think about whether or not this was going to turn into a viable and sustainable business, and these clients that I got weren't just a fluke, certain things definitely stood out.

SaaS companies are a little bit unique in that you know that they have money and you can even know how much money they have because whenever they raise money, it's a PR spectacle. So, I knew at that point that I was going to be dealing with companies that, if they push back against my pricing, it's not because they're a mom and pop shop that literally doesn’t have the money. It's because [I’m not] doing a good enough job of explaining the value that [I bring]. That's a good problem to have. 

And when I thought about where a lot of these SaaS companies are and where I am, a lot of them are in the U.S., in cities [with a high cost of living], and they're used to paying super-high salaries.

I figured that would probably make them a little less price-sensitive, especially when I'm a Canadian charging U.S. dollars. And the industry's growing. I'm dealing with businesses and not individuals; people who are a little bit removed from each dollar that they're spending. They're thinking about ROI and not, “I worked so hard for that $2,000. I don't know if this is where I want to put it.” They're willing to experiment. So, all of those things worked together to make me double down on this.

I think this is one of the biggest mistakes that freelancers make, is that I had leverage — I had a full-time job and I was happy there.

Mohammed: Right. You [described your journey as], finding your niche, then being able to bring on clients quite quickly, bringing them onto a retainer, and then quitting your job. Walk me through those stages and what happened through that process.

Josh: Yeah, I get that a lot because it sounds like it was just a dream and it did work out really well, but there were some key things at play there. We already talked about why they found me and why they probably felt compelled to reach out.

And that's because, in a sea of sameness, I stood out as this person who was focused on companies just like theirs. I was able to do things like ask them to agree to a retainer, for example, and ask them to pay a rate that most freelancers definitely don't start at. These were not Fiverr rates, these were very healthy rates. With these two retainer clients, I was going to be doing quite a bit better than I was even at my full-time job. I would actually still be able to keep my job for a little bit, which I did. The reason that I [was able to do this], and I think this is one of the biggest mistakes that freelancers make, is that I had leverage — I had a full-time job and I was happy there.

When you have that type of leverage and can afford to say no, for one, you show up to every sales call much more confident. Two, you're able to ask for what you need to make that opportunity compelling. These aren't rates that are insane by any stretch of the imagination but, at that time, they were insane to me.

I was charging $100 USD per hour at that time. And I needed at least 20 hours commitment from each of these clients per month, and we're going to do that for six months. 

I was at a startup, I was employee number five or six. This was much more money than what I was making at the time and I still had a ton of free time to take on more work. The other thing that I would say — because I don't like it when people paint such a rosy picture of freelancing — that first year [or so] with these retainer clients was difficult. The one client was just difficult to work with [and] probably not who I would choose to work with today. 

We just clashed a little bit. The other client was actually excellent. They were an agency that worked with SaaS companies. Loved everyone on the team, but it felt a lot like a job because I had to follow their processes, which I completely understand.

That's the way most agencies will work with a freelancer. That was tough. And there was a leap of faith: if they decided to cut our [contract] short, I wasn't going to take them to court [because] I couldn't afford that. I [also] didn't know that there was going to be more work coming in while I was working with these two; it could have been a fluke.

But it did work out. I worked with both of those clients for about a year and a year and a half, respectively. I don't think I've had a slow time since, and that was 2015. So, it did all work out lovely, but I did some things right. I prepared in a way that many freelancers don't.

Mohammed: And for you, what did that preparation look like?

Josh: Well, it was choosing the niche. It was having a salary coming in so that I didn't need to say “yes.” It was actually keeping my job while I was working with clients in the early days to build up some extra savings. [...] There are things that a lot of freelancers don't do because they buy into this whole idea that [they’re] just going to quit [their] job, and then [they’re] going to figure out what to do, and it's all going to work out and [they’re going to] be working on the beach within six months.

That's just not the way it works. I would look back at 2015 me and say, “What a rookie. He sucked at that.” But, if you look at the entire market at that time of SaaS copywriters, I was already quite good because it was a fairly new idea.

That's the other thing: a lot of freelancers will actually quit before they even know what they're good at [or] before they're actually really good at anything that's a marketable skill. They quit before they know exactly what they want to do and who they want to do it for. I checked a lot of those boxes early.

I had clients lined up and it wasn't a sure thing, but it was as sure as it was going to get, for sure.

I've always made sure that if I spot a SaaS company, especially a startup, having some questions that I can answer, that I go out of my way and I try to answer that in more depth than other people would be willing to.

Mohammed: You mentioned that, as you had those first two clients, you started building up more. Were all the other clients also interested in a SaaS copywriter and was that the core aspect of business development? Did you step out of that SaaS copywriter niche at all?

Josh: I always stayed within the SaaS copywriter niche. I haven't moved from that at all. If anything, over the last two and a half years, it's been a process of making sure that people see me as a Consultant first and a SaaS Copywriter as a close second. As I've been able to get better at this thing, and I've seen inside a bunch of different companies, it's important that people don't think that they can just come to me and ask for 500 words on a landing page.

You're going to get a lot more out of me than that and you're going to pay for more out of me than that. So, that's been important. But, I've always stayed very close to this niche. I've always made sure to hang out where SaaS companies and other complementary service providers hang out online and offline.

I've always made sure that if I spot a SaaS company, especially a startup, having some questions that I can answer, that I go out of my way and I try to answer that in more depth than other people would be willing to. I don't do that as much now but in the early days, when [I was] trying to get my name out there, I was giving away a lot of solid advice and work for free, not because they would pursue me, which I would caution against. 

If you're new and a prospect reaches out to you and they want free work, I don't think that's going to work well in your favour. They're going to take [advantage] of you and you're not going to get anything out of it.

But if you see an opportunity where someone in your proposed niche has expressed a problem that you feel like you have valuable input and advice on, rather than give them the typical two-liner that someone else might give them, put some time into it and give them a full-page, maybe record a video or some audio. Go above and beyond.

Especially if it's in a public place, like a forum, where some of your future customers might be. That way you're solving their problem, but then there [are] dozens of other people who might also have that same problem [and] they can't possibly expect you to do it for them for free as well. That was a key way that I got my name out there and brought in more leads.

Mohammed: Right. [Not only were you able] to market yourself to your prospective clients, but [you also created] this reputation for yourself within that niche as well, which I think a lot of freelancers don't really think about. 

As you've been growing and shifting yourself more towards a SaaS consultant versus a SaaS copywriter, what has been the driving change behind that repositioning?

Josh: I would say it was [the] opportunity, really, that I became aware of through copywriting. Like I said, in the early days, someone would say they need XYZ. I would give them a price for XYZ and I would do it. But as I saw inside more and more companies, several dozen by now, I started to kind of pick up on the fact that what people were coming to me for, weren't always the biggest issues. 

[That meant that], for one, I was providing less value to my client than I could have if I were allowed to go in and solve the problems that I knew were there. And two, I was making a lot less money per client because they thought they needed just this small thing done, but by digging around, I realized there was a lot more that should be done. More important things, oftentimes, that should be done.

So, I saw some money left on the table. The other thing is, I would always do a condensed version of what I would do now in this initial research and audit project in order to write copy for clients.

I started to realize that all the voice-of-customer data, interviews, review mining, and things of that nature [not only] helped me write copy, but also provided a ton of value for them. Their own marketing teams would take my work and produce copy of their own. They would find ideas for features and blog posts and new pages that they might need to add to their website in order to address a sub-niche or something like that.

The value of the research that I was doing, even though it was condensed, extended beyond just me executing on [the task] that they came to me for. So, I'm a big believer that, if you're providing more value, you need to charge more money. That's just fair. And it's just good business.

[My transition was] gradual and it was [a result of] me learning on the job. I'm sure that, [...] once I've done this for a while, I'm going to start spotting some other opportunities to add more value. And when that happens, I'll adjust [as] I did before, and hopefully, it goes just as well as this transition has.

Now, I'm probably sending 10 to 15 invoices per year while making significantly more money. And that's because each client is investing a lot more money in me.

Mohammed: I think, at least for most freelancers, when a client comes to them and says, “I want this job done.” It's like, “Okay, I'll get it done.” And, you mentioned you had that experience in the past as well. At [what did you start] recognizing an opportunity to provide more consulting services, to be able to provide research and insights to clients, to not just write new copy, but actually look at the overall market, product, customer engagement, and all of these different pieces. What was that transition like? [Did the] client came to you, and say, “I need these 50 articles,” [to which you responded], “Why don't I do some consulting work for you instead?” 

I feel like that could get a little awkward. What I'm trying to understand is how did you turn those clients that are coming to you for copy into clients for your overall consulting work? Especially in those early stages.

Josh: Yeah, that's a good question. It was actually just like a flick of a switch; I just decided on a project that I was going to do it. But again, [it] goes back to [the fact] that I had leverage. I knew that I could pitch this idea, and I could name a healthy price. And if they said no and decided they didn't want to do business with me at all (because I kind of derailed what they came to me for), that was okay.

That's the base. You've got to at least have the freedom to test in order to find these other opportunities. I had this idea [and] I decided I was going to test it. [I was going to] separate the research and audit from the copy. 

The way that worked is, I had a client in 2017/2018 [who] come to me with the typical [request of], “We're going to revamp this website. We need you to rewrite these pages.” And I decided this might be an interesting opportunity to try pitching the idea of starting with research and audit and then executing on the website [and] maybe some other things as well.

So, rather than bake the research into my copy like I always did, I separated it out. I went through how I would actually extend this so that I could do this properly the way I would want to because I'm getting paid separately for it. I named a price, which at that time I believe was $10k USD.

And that [process] was, among other things, interviewing customers, customer surveys, message mining, organizing all of the data, then pulling out some insights and deliverables that we should work on. They actually said, “Yes!” They thought that was a really good idea because they felt more confident that we were actually going to tackle the right problems and that I would actually know their business and their customers inside and out so that I could actually do a good job.

That was the lightbulb moment. It worked out. They paid the $10k. I delivered the research and then [the] deliverables: the homepage, a product tour pricing, and I showed them that there were some onboarding emails that we should probably work on.

I charged my regular rate for copywriting, [which] I used to bake research into it. I charged that just for the copy after they had already paid a good amount for the research and the audit initially. And they said “yes” to that, too. At that point, that's when things really took off for me because I was getting paid really well for research and audit projects. And I was still charging the same for just the copy on subsequent projects. 

I know you didn't ask this specifically, but when I think about before I made this change, I was probably sending out 30 to 40 invoices a year. So, lots of small projects [and] working with a lot of clients. Now, I'm probably sending 10 to 15 invoices per year while making significantly more money. And that's because each client is investing a lot more money in me.

I'm able to go a lot deeper with each client. And it's kind of self-perpetuating: once a company has invested this much time in somebody, and once you have someone who really knows your customer and your product inside and out, when you have another need, you know who you're going to call. You're going to call a person who's already done it. Especially if they have gotten results (which is usually the case).

I have space now to explore a little bit. To go down a path that doesn't bear any fruit and then shift. And take a look at something else for a client without thinking about, “Shoot! I just burned a bunch of hours,” because it's all built into the price.

Mohammed: That's awesome to say the very least. And, what has been the mental shift for you? [...] What have been some of the changes you've noticed as a result of making the shift in how you approached your business?

Josh: Quite honestly, [I] working at an unsustainable pace for the first two years, for sure. Definitely, before I made the switch. I was pulled in too many directions; too many clients needing small, one-off projects [...], and that kind of held me down a little bit. 

I probably could have made the switch earlier if I had even more money saved up and I didn't really need clients. I guess the main shift that's happened is when we're able to go deeper with a client and charge a lot more money, it just creates space. I guess it'd be the easiest way to describe it.

I have space now to explore a little bit. To go down a path that doesn't bear any fruit and then shift. And take a look at something else for a client without thinking about, “Shoot! I just burned a bunch of hours,” because it's all built into the price.

Clients are paying me enough now to be able to explore a little bit more, to dig, to make some wrong turns, to take my time. I don't need to get a project out by the end of the week. I'm typically working with a client for four to eight weeks. Sometimes more than that.

We already talked about how [my revenue has] gone up, which is great. But the other thing is the pace — I don't work weekends as often anymore. I definitely take time off now. Whereas in years, one and two, it was hard for me to take time off. Whenever I would take time off, I would just be thinking about the money that I wasn't making.

[I’m] in a healthier place now. And, to be honest, it [needed to happen], otherwise I don't think I would still be in business. I probably would've gone back to the workforce — if I always had to work like I did [those first two years].

Mohammed: The place where you're at now and the path that got you there seems, at least on the outside, very much like the ideal scenario, at least for most freelancers. It's just like, “I put up a website, I got clients and I quit my job and then this one client came along and I charged them more for these two other things that I was already doing. And they said, “yes.” And [now] I take in fewer clients and I'm getting paid more and I have a lot more freedom.”

That just seems like such the ideal case. Not to say that there haven't been hardships along the way. 

How can other freelancers think about picking their niche or aligning what it is that they're good at with what the market is looking for and willing to pay?

Josh: Before I get into that, a good disclaimer would be that I completely understand that some people are forced into freelancing. Whether that's a disability that the workplace isn't willing to accommodate, an illness, a sudden loss of a job, [or other] inability to find work that forces you into freelancing, and I have no experience with that whatsoever.

I understand that if you are forced into it, a lot of these choices that I made are quite difficult for you. And you're forced to toil for not the best clients and not the best rates just to make ends meet. That wasn't me. When I got started, I had money in the bank.

I had a spouse who was also making money. And while I'm not comfortable making $0 while she does all the work and makes all the money, I knew that if this didn't take off, I wasn't going to lose my house or my car or anything like that. Worst case scenario, our savings rate would decline a little bit for a few months until I found another job.

I think that's important to put out there. But, for every person who is forced into freelancing, I would say there are several who choose to get started before they're well equipped for it. It sounds kind of harsh, but I have given this advice to some freelancers who have reached out and they were quite thankful for it.

[That advice is]: if you're not sure who you would want to serve and what you'd want to do for them, it's probably a terrible time for you to start your business voluntarily. You should probably work for companies or for agencies and [not only] get good at something valuable, but also figure out who you like working with, who you don't like working with, what type of work you'd like to do, what kind of work you don't like to do, and what you are actually really, really good at. 

Where do you get all of your compliments from? Collect a salary, build a network, have benefits, figure out what skill you're going to bring to the market as a freelancer, and exactly who you're going to serve, and then launch your company.

I think that is the best way to do it unless you're forced into it. And, as I said, if you're forced into it, I have no experience with that. There [are] probably better people to get advice for that. I don't think it needs to be a big mathematical multistep process because I think freelancing and consulting is the place to go once you have gotten really good at something for somebody.

I think it's a terrible place to learn what you like to do and who you'd like to do it for. And if you want to [go]back to [the] fundamentals, if you think about any other entrepreneur, do you start a restaurant that just serves food and drinks of all kinds for everybody?

Or do you start a restaurant because you want to serve this type of cuisine in this approximate price range to attract these types of clients on the street? Do you start a clothing store not trying to create clothing for a specific somebody? No, you launch your business when you know what you want to do and who you want to do it for.

I think it's the same for freelancing. I think that because the barrier to entry is so low, you get freelancers that think the cost of starting this business and figuring it out or failing is almost zero, but it's really not. It's wasted time and it's [a] wasted salary. If you spend two years not really getting anywhere as a freelancer and not necessarily paying all of your bills [but rather] accumulating debt (which is not unusual), that is an expensive failure that probably could have been avoided.

Whereas, if you worked those two years, got that salary, learned on the job, accumulated savings, even landed some clients before you quit your job, you'd be in a much better place two years from now, then that person who started ill-prepared.

That aside, some of the things that you'd want to look at, once you've decided what you want to do and who you want to do it for, make sure they actually have money and a need for it. you're not going to sell your services to somebody who doesn't need it.

Make sure that these people are readily available. Make sure you have a good idea of exactly how you're going to get in touch with these people. Ideally, you would say, “I already have a network in this because I've already worked with people like this in my job so that won't be too hard.” But, if that's not the case, at least have a really good idea of where these people hang out online and, especially once this coronavirus business is under control, figure out where they hang out offline as well.

Make sure that there are other people serving them. I don't recall there being necessarily SaaS copywriters when I got started, but there were people like Joanna Wiebe at Copyhackers who were doing work with SaaS companies and getting paid well for it. So that told me that there was space in the market.

I didn't see the fact that there were other people doing the work as a bad thing or as competitors that I had to crush. It just showed me that there was actually money in this market and a future for it.

I think it might be a mistake to just launch as a SaaS copywriter. It might be too late for that to be enough. But, I'm open to it if people want to give it a try and see how that works out. You can always narrow your focus a little bit more later. 

Mohammed: That was awesome. Thank you. What are your thoughts now on somebody looking to get started as a SaaS copywriter? You mentioned that now everyone knows what being a SaaS copywriter is. [So, for] copywriters who are thinking about getting into SaaS and who have the expertise, what should be their focus?

[To] narrow it down even more? To be a B2B SaaS copywriter for FinTech companies? Or perhaps you have some other approaches to how they can explore their niche?

Josh: What will often happen when I talk about my journey, which as you said, has been definitely favourable compared to what a lot of freelancers experience, is there is nothing magical about SaaS. So, make sure that you actually want to get involved in SaaS and that you have some sort of interest or background that lends itself to SaaS.

You're not just getting into it because you think like it's the place to be because it's not. It's just one of the places to be. So, assuming it's what you actually want to do, you want to stay on top of industry news and developments in SaaS because you care about it. I would recommend new freelancers today in the SaaS space to do what people do in most markets that have matured to some extent, and that is: go a little bit deeper. 

In 2015, it was enough for me to say that I was a SaaS copywriter to stand out. Now, if you say you're a SaaS copywriter, you're on page five of Google [search] and you're just one of many from all over the world who are calling themselves that.

That's not good enough. So, maybe focus, [as] you said, on a specific niche. I know some people have done exactly that. They focus on FinTech or they focus on SaaS marketing companies or some other industry. That's one way to specialize.

I'll never know as much about FinTech, for example, as someone who spends all of their time on FinTech. They should be able to win some of that market from the people who would be considered more generalists in the space — like me. The other thing would be to focus on deliverables. 

There [are] people who will do just white papers or just onboarding or just sales emails or outreach emails for SaaS companies. That person is going to be able to refine their process, their little slice of the pie, better than I ever could, because it's just one of the things that I do as a SaaS copywriter who focuses on emails and web pages and landing pages. 

I can't focus as much on email as someone who only does email. So, that would be another way to stand out [and] “steal” some of the business from somebody like myself. 

I think it might be a mistake to just launch as a SaaS copywriter. It might be too late for that to be enough. But, I'm open to it if people want to give it a try and see how that works out. You can always narrow your focus a little bit more later. 

We've talked about how my business, in five years, has changed trajectory a little bit. Choosing a niche is not a life sentence. You can choose it. No one is paying attention to you, really. So, if you don't like what's coming of it, choose something else, go a little bit deeper, or go a little bit wider. Experiment until you start having those sales conversations that you want to have.

Mohammed: I think that's amazing advice for those looking to get started and I think this is also a good point for us to start wrapping up. Before we do, I'd love to know where people can find out more about you and your work online.

Josh: Yeah. My website is swaycopy.com. If this whole idea of choosing a niche is something of interest, I have a completely free email series that I wrote because I was getting tired of answering the same questions in Facebook groups over and over again. So, it's free and at the time of this recording, there's not even a sales pitch at the end of it. 

You'll continue to get any other emails that I send out, but you can get that at swaycopy.com/freelance-as-a-business. [It’s] a play on SaaS, (software as a service). Social media-wise, @swaycopy on Twitter and you can look me up on LinkedIn.

Mohammed: Awesome! Thank you so much for your time, Josh. I really appreciated learning from you. I'd love to know what questions or feedback you have for me.

Josh: I mean, I thought you ran a fantastic interview. A lot of podcast hosts fail to dig a little bit when there's an answer given. And, I thought you did an awesome job of taking an answer that I gave you and then finding some threads to pull there.

Mohammed: Thank you so much for that!

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