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The following email was sent to me by an up-and-coming freelance copywriter. I’ve decided to share the email and my response because they may help other copywriters beginning their career. I hope you find the information useful.
Susan Greene | Freelance Copywriter | Orlando, Florida
First off, I love your website. It’s quite thorough, and I hope one day to be able to build mine out to that extent.
My name is Valerie, and I’m a high school teacher and freelance copywriter. I’d like to grow my freelance copywriting business to one day make it my full time occupation. I’ve been told I need to choose a copywriting specialty to begin marketing my services and establish a foothold in the copywriting field.
I’d like to run my idea for a specialty by you. Specifically, I want to do real estate case studies. I know a lot about real estate because both of my parents were realtors.
My concept would be to would interview buyers and sellers after the closing and get their information and testimonial. The case studies I write would be positive, true stories that demonstrate the value provided by the realtor.
My clients would be realtors, who presumably could use the case studies I write to help grow their business.
In a networking group I attended this week, one commercial realtor and one residential realtor thought this was a wonderful idea (and I hope they’re not stealing it!). My questions to you are:
- Do you think there’s a market for this type of writing? Is it a viable niche?
- Is this something that I should approach individual agents with, or something to present to an agency?
- What kind of price point should that involve?
I’m thinking I could sell this writing service at $500 per case study. I know technical case studies can easily sell for twice that, so I feel this is a reasonable fee, particularly when you think that getting even one new client from it could result in thousands of dollars for a realtor.
For the $500 I would format the questions, conduct the interview, write the story, get the signoffs from the agent and the buyer/seller, and turn over all drafts and notes, including audio.
I know you’re quite busy, but any advice you can give would be sooo appreciated.
Thank you in advance for your time!
It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for the compliment on my website.
Your idea as a real estate copywriter has merit, and the case study angle is an interesting niche to pursue. If I may play devil’s advocate, here’s where I think you’ll have difficulty.
Most realtors are self-employed. Even if they are working for a broker, they are covering most of their own marketing expenses, and for that reason, they are notoriously thrifty.
They can find ways to justify the expense of advertising a specific listing, as that will tie directly to a sale. However, what you’re proposing would be less direct, and I think you’d meet resistance, particularly at the $500 price point, even though that’s far less than what industrial and tech corporations are willing to pay for case studies.
The difference is the industrial and tech businesses are spending someone else’s money, presumably from their company’s marketing budget, while the realtor is spending his or her own money. It’s always harder to get someone to reach for his or her own wallet!
It’s interesting that the realtors in your networking group thought the case studies were a wonderful idea. But you neglected to pose the all-important follow-up question: “Would you pay for them?” The fact that they didn’t immediately say, “I’d like to hire you to do that for me,” suggests their answer would be “no.”
Until you actually start talking with realtors, you’re only dealing with hypotheticals. So why not test your idea? Start contacting realtors and see what kind of reception you get. You might even offer the first few realtors a great deal so that you get some case studies to use as examples of your work.
You should also test your idea with different types of realtors. Someone who specializes in selling condos or small homes may not have the revenue to justify hiring a freelance copywriter, but a realtor for upscale homes or commercial properties might be receptive.
As for price, again, you need to test what the market will bear. What are realtors willing to pay? You won’t know until you try marketing your services. And once you determine that price, you have to see if it’s high enough for you to justify your time and make a profit.
It might be worth your while in talking with realtors to find out what kind of copywriting they would be willing to pay for. You might find that while they’re not interested in case studies, they may have a need for web copy or ads.
With regard to turning over all the drafts, audio interviews and notes, I don’t see this as a selling point. Realtors aren’t interested in plowing through that material. Most lack the experience and writing skills to make something useful out of it. They would want something turnkey with regard to marketing, done for them completely.
One last point. Many realtors won’t see the difference between case studies and testimonials. They probably would be more inclined to go with testimonials because these are more familiar to them and presumably are shorter and therefore cheaper. You’d have to make up the difference in price then in volume. More food for thought.
Valerie, a market exists for case studies, and it’s a great niche to pursue. I’m just not sure if realtors are the best prospects because based on my personal experience, realtors tend to be frugal.
I hope I’m not raining on your parade. I’m just trying to give you my honest impressions. I’d love it if you could stay in touch and let me know if you’re able to make a go of this idea.
I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
Wow! Thank you for that. My parade isn’t rainy, I promise!
You’re right. The two realtors who said they liked my idea, although supportive, didn’t offer to hire me.
I also thought back to some conversations I’d had with another realtor who was new to the business. She explained that after her broker took his share of her commissions, paid for advertising, and covered the costs of things like signage and food platters for open houses, the remainder was minimal.
Maybe I would do better to explore doing real estate copywriting and marketing in general or doing case studies for the homes industry in the form of construction, HVAC, smart homes, etc. Those businesses might be better able to afford case studies.
And while yes, the price point for tech or industrial case studies is attractive, the money’s not my only motivator. Feature stories are what I love to write, and I (want to) believe there is a place for a form of it in the business writing world.
Once again, thank you so much for your insight! This was what I needed to hear!