This past October, I found a new copywriting client. They had already gone through two sub-par writers, so they were wary of hiring another freelance writer.
I did a paid trial piece, using the voice I saw on their blog.
It turns out, they didn’t like their voice and wanted to go in a different direction. They asked me how I saw myself “fitting in” – a clear sign of doubt.
So I asked for a meeting. Drawing on my background as a slam poet, I paid attention to the way the client spoke and asked questions about their desired voice. The client left the meeting hopeful and satisfied. I won their trust, and I did it using slam poetry.
Here’s how — and why — I became the one writer this client wanted to work with:
What is slam poetry?
Slam poetry ain’t your mama’s poetry.
Poetry is what makes English students want to light themselves on fire (although you can get paid to write poetry).
Slam poetry is hip-hop music’s eccentric cousin. It’s about wordplay and storytelling, not strict adherence to an arbitrary structure.
Find the right voice
My client’s primary concern was voice.
In copywriting, a business’ voice can impact sales. This client thought their voice was too formal, and they wanted more modern content.
Slam poetry has helped me master voice. If you’re struggling with your “writing voice,” listen to different poets. You’ll uncover the devices they use to create a distinct voice, and you can try different tactics to help you do the same.
Choose words wisely
The words you choose convey a lot of information about you.
If you want clients to identify with you, you need to talk like them. Spoken word works by using the right word in the right place at the right time. Certain words have persuasive power, and certain other words can have negative connotations.
I noticed that my client used warm and casual words. By choosing more informal language, I was able to connect with her on a personal level.
Pop-culture shortcuts build rapport
Who doesn’t love a well-placed pop culture reference? Spoken-word poetry, a performance by nature, is all about speaker-audience interaction and shared stories.
Pop culture references are a great way to quickly create solidarity with your audience.
My client said she’d send me an email, to which I replied, “awesome possum!” Unbeknownst to me, that slang term’s been around for decades. So my client, who is 20 years my senior, laughed and said that she hadn’t heard that expression in years. This one little phrase established an instant rapport!
Slam poetry might seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite easy. It doesn’t follow traditional rules, so you don’t need to know anything about sonnets to write it. The tools you learn from slam can even net you new clients.
In just two short weeks I’ve already earned an extra couple hundred dollars – and I owe it to slam.
Have you ever used an unusual hobby to get a new client? Let us know in the comments below.
Mike Straus is a Canadian freelance writer and slam poet who lives in Kelowna, British Columbia. He writes copy for small- and mid-sized businesses all around the world.