The best (somewhat) hands-off approach to prepare prospects to buy from you

Selling is a tricky business.

Competition is everywhere. It’s hard to stand out among the gazillion other freelancers out there.

The overwhelming amount of advertising people are exposed to means that they can see a sales pitch coming a mile away.

And aggressive sales tactics turn prospects off.

So how do you turn prospects into clients if pressuring them to buy from you makes them think you’re sleazier than an overseas pharmacy pushing cheap prescription drugs?

Easy. Get them to come to you.

How will potential clients find me?

Welcome to the world of inbound marketing.

Unlike cold calling (or emailing) or direct mail, inbound marketing is exactly like it sounds; using marketing tactics that draw potential customers to you again and again until they decide to buy.

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Already doing inbound marketing? Let us know what’s working well for you in the comments below.

How is this a hands-off process?

While setting up an inbound marketing system is a very labor-intensive process in the beginning, once you have an effective system set up, many of the steps involved can be automated.

What do I need to start inbound marketing?

The basic components of an inbound strategy are things you may already have:

  • website
  • landing pages
  • giveaways
  • email marketing with autoresponders or a drip email marketing system

How does my website fit into this?

Your website is where most of the magic happens, so it’s important to have a visually attractive website with stellar sales copy to persuade people to contact you.

Other elements to incorporate into your site include:

  • at least one way to capture email addresses such as drop-down bars, page takeovers, sidebars and/or scrolling boxes
  • a compelling digital giveaway to get people to give you their email address – something like graphics, ebooks or checklists
  • landing pages without menus or navigation that collect email addresses 

Why do I want to collect email addresses?

Research from the credit bureau Experian states that for every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses get over $14 in return.

Getting someone’s email address is as valuable as getting someone’s phone number used to be.

Because today’s customer is less persuaded by sales messages, it is important to find a way for them to build trust in you. Educating them via email without begging them to buy something from you is the best way to do that.

What kinds of emails should I send?

You want to show your customer that you know your stuff without boring them with the technical details of what you’re doing.

Here are some great examples:

  • 10 qualities of a star __________________________ (fill your job title in the blank)
  • why people need a ___________________ (whatever product or service you’re selling)
  • blog posts (in order for this to be effective you need to write blog posts and send emails on a schedule)
  • case studies from satisfied customers

But I don’t have time to write all this stuff!

The great thing about the internet is that there are no 100% original ideas.  You can always curate content from other people you admire and link to it from your email.

But be careful! Linking to a direct competitor can mean you do the hard work of collecting potential sales leads for someone else. Make sure the content you are linking to doesn’t take away possible business from you.

If you don’t want to write or curate your own content, hire someone to do it for you.

Why do I need a landing page?

Unlike your website or blog, landing pages provide no way for a potential client to navigate away, eliminating distractions.

Your offer is front and center, and a user can either accept your offer or leave the site.

While there is a huge possibility you won’t get their email address, there is no shiny navigation menu to tempt them away before they decide to accept.

That’s why it’s critical to make your giveaway as compelling as possible. Make them an offer they can’t refuse and you’ll be sitting on your own freelancing empire in no time!

How is this hands-off again?

Setting up an inbound marketing system is a lot of work. It also requires ongoing testing and monitoring to be sure you’re capturing as many leads as possible.


Once you have a system in place, you can automate much of the work.

A few methods include:

  • using an automation tool like Zapier, which works on an IFTTT (If this, then that) line of reasoning to make things happen without you lifting a finger
  • lead generation systems that automatically send offers and sign-up customers on your mailing lists
  • drip email marketing systems that automatically send emails based on prospect behavior
  • marketing automation systems like Hubspot or Marketo

Practice is the best way to learn

Inbound marketing is a great way for introverted creatives to get customers come to you.

While it doesn’t replace traditional sales methods like cold-calling, it can be a useful tool in your client-getting arsenal.

Tell us what you’re going to explore for your inbound strategy in the comments!

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About Sharon McElwee

Sharon McElwee is a copywriter and freelance business coach dedicated to help people get better at making real money doing what they love. Check out her free e-course to earn an extra $1000 in the next 30 days.


  1. Loved this post! I’m in the process of creating an automated inquiry process using mailchimp, typeform, you can book me and google docs! I’m hoping it will make it easier and cut down on admin tasks! Paul Jarvis wrote a comprehensive blog post about he does this and it inspired me to do the same!

    I’m also hoping it will help when I take a month off next year, as everything will already be automated.

    • Sharon Pettis McElwee says

      Automation really helps keep costs down, as there’s so much a computer can do that you used to pay people for. Just make sure you test everything!


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