Copywriter Rachel Greiman is our guest for the 184th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Rachel has worked almost exclusively with photographers since she launched her copywriting business a few years ago. We talked about how the niche found her, her unique process and more. Here’s most of what we covered:
• how she became a photographer and copywriter
• her work as a photo-journalist and the work she did
• the struggle she had in early days in her business as a copywriter
• how she charged $200 for entire websites—and why it was so low
• how clients found her as she launched her copywriting business
• why she works with associate writers and how she trained them
• what her business looks like today compared to those early days
• how she works with and pays her team and what she expects from them
• why she pays her team well and how it has helped her business
• how she trains her team to make sure they can deliver
• why she only takes one client at a time and her delivery schedule
• how she thinks about her “competitors”
• the “guide” she created to develop a second income stream
• what she learned from the process of launching a product
• the first time she ever met another copywriter and what happened after that
• what she’s done to take her business to the next level
• dealing with the virus and running a business in a time of disruption
• the reason to be optimistic about the future right now
To hear all the great advice Rachel has to share, click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript. Or subscribe at iTunes or Stitcher so you never miss an episode.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: This episode is brought to you by the copywriter accelerator, the 12-week program for copywriters who want to learn the business skills they need to succeed as copywriters, learn more at thecopywriteraccelerator.com
Kira: What if you get to hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts? Ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits. Then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work. That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the club for episode 184 as we chat with copywriter for photographers Rachel Greiman about the power of choosing a niche building and managing team, creating a completely different offer for her audience and what she’s done to take the business to a new level this year.
Kira: Rachel, welcome.
Rachel: Hi. Thanks for having me. Thanks for dealing with the last 40 minutes of tech problems with us. I’m sure that 90% of it was my fault. So…
Rob: Everyone is working from home these days and so the internet does not want to cooperate.
Kira: The internet is full. That is true.
Rachel: It is full.
Kira: So Rachel, we have been working with you and been able to get to know you through the Think Tank over the last 12 months. And we’re excited to share a bit more about your story and some of the wins and even some of the struggles. But why don’t we start with your story. How did you end up as a copywriter?
Rachel: That is a really great question and probably one I should have mentally prepared for knowing this, coming here. I just feel like it’s such a winding road and it always gets so long. I will try to condense it though.
Rachel: So I studied photojournalism in college, so writing and photography always went hand in hand for me. Like I was always doing both. And then after college I worked in the nonprofit field for a long time, almost a decade actually. And I would always get hired for one skillset, either writing or photography. And then I always ended up doing both together because at nonprofits everybody wears a ton of hats. So it quickly became apparent to me that both skill sets were married together kind of indefinitely in my life and I didn’t mind it. I really loved doing both. And then my last full time job, I was doing both together. I was the writer and photographer at a rescue mission in Denver, Colorado. And then I decided I wanted to pursue my own business and I decided I wanted to be a full time family photographer.
So I was just kind of putting writing off to the side for a while. And then I joined all the Facebook groups that one joins when they decided to become a photographer and everybody kept asking generic questions about writing. How do I write my about page? How do I write my homepage? How do I write this email to a client? And it was a very natural way for me to be helpful in these new communities. So I could ask my questions about running a photography business and not feel like I was merging. And so I started getting paid to help people write because it was a skill I had already learned in the nonprofit field. And then gradually it was like, “Oh, I guess I’m running a copywriting and photography business again.”
Rob: So can we jump all the way back and talk about photojournalism for a minute-
Rob: … because this is something I’ve never done. And I’m curious what were the assignments like and how much of it was photos versus writing about the things that you were taking pictures of? What were you doing?
Rachel: It depends on the semester honestly, because some classes were purely journalism and some classes were purely photography and there were only a couple that married them both. So it was basically like double majoring kind of alongside one another. But the photo journalism classes, I laugh so hard now. My husband and I, we moved back to Philadelphia last year after being in Denver for eight years. And Philly is actually where I went to college and studied photojournalism. So it’s been funny to be back in the city where I learned all of this. And the assignments we were given, would never fly now. They were so dangerous. It was like go stand in the middle of downtown and ask 12 strangers if you can photograph them and ask these seven questions and I want you to come up with this story about them.
And it’s like I was 19 years old with a very expensive camera around my neck alone on the streets of Philadelphia talking to homeless people because again, I’ve worked in the nonprofit field for a long time and I worked with homeless people in college, so I was interviewing random homeless men on the streets of Philly when I was 19 and I’m grateful for the experience, but it was a little extreme and probably would not be what is assigned now.
Kira: So Rachel, how did you juggle both businesses? So the photography business, which you originally started in, and then the copywriting business that quickly grew out of the communities that you were in. What did that look like in those early days?
Rachel: In the early days, I just did both of them poorly. If I’m being completely honest, I really had a hard time focusing because my heart was so into photography. I think because I’ve publicly set out to run a photography business, so I was so stubborn about making sure that, that’s what was successful and it just wasn’t. Copywriting came up really organically into this business and I refused to advertise for it. I refused to make it a part of my brand. It was just like if you heard about me and you inquired with me, I might work with you. And then even with that terrible business plan, I started making more money copywriting, then doing photos. And so it just became very apparent to me that I needed to let go of the focus on photography a little bit more so I could walk more confidently into copywriting and make more money.
Rob: Let’s talk about how some of those first copywriting jobs came your way. I know you are in all of the groups and you were doing things in there, what were the things that you’re doing and how did people start reaching out to you for work? How did you price those original projects and what were you doing?
Rachel: Oh my gosh, it’s laughable. A couple hundred dollars maybe I was charging for entire websites in the beginning because I didn’t… and I feel like I’ve heard this on your podcast so many times you grow up hearing writers don’t make any money and I think that kind of infiltrates your first crack at pricing when you start charging for writing. So it was like, “Oh well everybody can sit down and write an email. I might just be able to do it a little bit better so I’m not going to charge that much.” And the same thing was true for websites. So people would post in these groups. I would publicly respond in a comment and then they would message me privately back before Facebook had another folder where they all went and died and they would just say, “Hey, that comment was really helpful. Can I pay you to help me do this?”
And I was like, “Oh yeah, I guess.” And then photographers, they’re all in the same groups. They’re all learning the same things. They’re really, really good at being part of online communities. So my name just started to get around a little bit in that circle. And I was already in a lot of the groups they were in. So it was very easy to find me and contact me. And the one thing that I did with photography was I was good about blogging, so people would go to my blog, read that I knew what I was doing when it came to writing, and then people would want help with that. So yeah, a couple hundred dollars for a website maybe. And then that morphed into like, “Oh, I need to formalize this process and this needs to be an offering that I have to give to people.”
Kira: So Rachel, when did you actually start the copywriting side of your business? I just kind of want to… is it three years ago? Five years ago?
Rachel: I have to think here. I think I wrote my first site in 2016 for another photographer.
Rachel: So that was my first, somebody randomly messaged me, I was like, “Sure, I guess I can do this for you.” And then I did a couple more in 2017 like, I don’t know, maybe 10 and then, no, sorry, in 2017 I moved to Kenya for four months with my husband and I was there living at an orphanage, taking photos. Again, nonprofit world. I was still taking clients once a week for writing back in the States. Like it was the way to keep us having a little bit of income while we were overseas. So that’s when it really became like, Oh, I need a system for this and this needs to be a process because there was an eight to 10 hour time difference depending where people were in the States for me to be doing these phone calls, the internet was terrible. And I could only work for certain hours because of the internet. So I would say 2017 was when that fall when we lived in Kenya was ironically when everything really took off.
Kira: Wow. Okay. And then just to fast forward to today, can you just kind of give us a glimpse of where your business is today, what type of projects you’re working on, maybe even roughly what you’re charging compared to like the $200 you were charging in 2016. What’s it look like today?
Rachel: So today… well I got pregnant while I was in Africa, so I had a baby in the middle of 2018 and I was so busy the first half of 2018 I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m having a baby in June. I have to book everything.” So I was just out of my mind working. I hired an associate writer when I was 38 weeks pregnant I think. So two weeks before I had my daughter and I trained him when she was five days old with his first project. And so he was a godsend to me and is still with me two years later. And I’ve hired another writer since then. So I have two writers that write for my clients. I oversee all the projects, I help them do a lot of the initial research. And then I oversee all of their drafts and their comments and their back and forth with my clients. But they’re doing the actual writing.
I am pregnant again right now, I’m having another baby in June, so that’s why I brought on this other writer. And she’s been doing great in 2020 for me. I charge varying degrees of pricing depending on who they’re working with because I think it’s only fair that they’re paying for the experience. So to hire me, it’s almost $4,000 for a full website, which is usually five or six pages for a photographer. And my associates are then, I think my newer one is just over two grand. And then my other writer who’s been with me for two years is right in the middle of us. So yeah, it’s been a big difference. But this is after… I mean, we’ve written well over a hundred websites since 2016. So…
Rob: Wow! That’s a lot. And I mean, I definitely want to jump into how you chose your niche. It probably makes sense, but how that’s impacted your business. But first, let’s talk about your team because I think a lot of people have tried to bring on writers to work with them either as partners or possibly as subcontractors. And it does not go well and maybe even they’ve tried two or three times and it hasn’t gone well. But you seem to have something going on with writers that you found that is working. So what do you do? How do you train your writers so that they can deliver the experience that you promise with your copywriting website? And obviously people come looking for you, but now they’re working with somebody else so they obviously have to deliver something resembling what they would’ve gotten from you. What’s the training look like? How have you done that?
Rachel: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think it’s different for different niches. And I will never speak for any other niche outside my own because I’ve… other than maybe nonprofit because I worked there. But yeah, when it comes to writing for photographers I am not doing product sales or conversion copy in the very typical sense that a lot of the people who listen to this podcast will be doing. It’s not like e-commerce. Some of my clients are only booking 10 to 15 clients a year. So their process is very personal. And so the writing I’m doing is… not that copywriting is an emotional because it is, but it’s really personality driven and people are their brands when they’re photographers usually. So it’s a lot about empathy and I added a step to my process in 2019 where we interview their favorite clients that they’ve had.
So that is our research. Our research is not combing through thousands of product reviews. It is talking to two or three clients that they’ve had that they really connected with and figuring out how those clients talk about them. And so rather than looking for writers who are conversion copywriters and trained in that regard, I look for people who are really empathetic and who are very creative. So both of my writers are novelists and both of them have master’s degrees in creative writing. And so they are both technically writers, but they’re not what you would think of as copywriters. So I train them in how to sell. They are really good at weaving a thought. Obviously they’re storytellers and a lot of my photographer clients would call themselves that too. So I find that the writers that work best with me are writers who know how to weave a story and who just needs some copywriting elements woven into their existing knowledge. Does that make sense?
Kira: Yeah, it does. And I have so many questions about this because I agree with Rob. This is where it’s tricky for many of us to work with other writers, especially bringing them onto your team. So other questions I have. How do you position your associate writers when you’re talking to your clients initially? Are you talking them up more, especially if you don’t have time in your schedule to take another project? Or are you just like, “Hey, I’m not available for four months, but I have these two fantastic associate writers.” So how are you positioning them and then also even just pay, how do you structure that for their projects? What does that look like? Because I know a lot of copywriters struggle to figure out how much to pay associate writers.
Rachel: Right? Yeah, that’s a great question. And I trial and error. I messed up in the beginning. And that’s how I know how to do it now. So essentially I was 38 weeks pregnant when I hired my first writer and I was desperate and I paid him way too much. I made the percentage way too high that he got because obviously for the first couple of projects I was really involved and there was a lot of teaching that went into that. So eventually now, after two years, I’ve charged more for him and he’s obviously making more, but it took a while to get to a good spot with that. For me, I like my writers to make more than half of what the client is spending because they are doing the bulk of the work. And my writer has stayed with me for two years because I treat him really well and I like him to know that. That he’s getting the bulk of what I make.
I’m not profiting a ton on him. But it keeps my doors open because you have to think about all the intangibles outside of money that that brings in. And when people have a good experience with him, I get a review. That’s huge. I have 50 five-star Google reviews for one-on-one services because I brought more people into the fold. So that is awesome to have. He is eager to help me because he knows how generous I am with him. So this is like so counterintuitive to what I know a lot of copywriters do, but I don’t get on the phone with clients unless they want to. I don’t even offer it unless they ask. I sell almost always in my initial inquiry response because it’s so thorough and because photographers are usually… so by the time they reach out to me that they’re so anxious to get started, that a phone call isn’t necessary for me usually sometimes, but very rarely.
So basically I lay out the process and I say, “Hey this writer’s been with me for two years. I love him. This is when he’s available. This writer just started with me. And I’m available in September because I’m going on maternity leave.” So people want to work with me right now. And I’ve been booked for months. So a lot of people are going to my associates right now because of my maternity leave situation. But a lot of them might come back with a couple of questions about each writer. And their prices are different and they’re right there in that email. So that is a deciding factor for a lot of people. But at the end of the day, they’re still getting my eyes and my thoughts on everything that happens. So I think that’s really comforting to people as well.
Rob: So maybe there isn’t a formal process for this because you’ve only done it with a couple of other writers, but how do you take somebody who is a creative writer and train them so that they can add the sales portions that need to go on your client’s websites?
Rachel: Just like this simple structure of like, Hey, people need to be able to skim headlines and get the gist of something. Teaching them what a call to action is and why it’s important and where they go. I show them some of my favorite sites that I’ve written and I explain why they work. And then it’s honestly just like holding their feet to the fire when they write their first one. And so you should see the Google docs from their first couple of sites because if I over-explain every edit that I want them to make and why I want them to make it. So they might have a great idea and I’m like, “Okay great, how can we cut this to 25% of what you’ve said here? And let me explain why we need to cut it back.”
Rob: Totally. Makes sense. Yeah. It seems like you’re really hands on them as you’re getting them up to speed…
Rachel: Oh my gosh. Yeah. I make no money in the beginning on writers, but I would much rather do it that way and have like my writer that I hired two years ago, I barely have to touch his stuff because everyone loves it because he’s so good.
Kira: Wow. Okay. I think you’re talking about a dream business. You’re talking about no sales calls. I know. Like I want your business, no sales call. That’s amazing. You have no sales call and you just them lined up.
Rachel: Yes. But it also is like my process being a mom and this Kira, and I can’t speak for being a dad Rob, but it turns on this special magic in your brain of how can I do the most with the least? I have less time than I’ve ever had in my life. I have less energy. So the system and process needs to be so tied up in a bow that an idiot could do it because sometimes I am an idiot and I’m tired and under slept and that has just completely transformed my business.
So I mean I’m really rigid with my schedule and I do not budge for anyone. You start on a Monday, 100% of the time. If you hire me, you start on a Monday and your call is with me or my associate on a Monday and then they deliver your first draft the following Monday. Then you have from Monday to Friday to edit that with me or whichever associate you hired. So it is 11 days start to finish. I don’t care who you are or what your website looks like or what special unicorn you think you’re running. That’s how it works. So I think people love how fast it is. They love how efficient it is and they love… Oh and we only take one client at a time. That’s really important. And that does make people feel like a special unicorn because they if you hire me, you are the only person I’m talking to that week, you’re it for me.
So I think having all of those elements of saving them time, giving them… I hate that six week process where people are just humming and hauling, they’re like, Oh this week was really busy so I didn’t get into it. It’s like, great, you have five days. That’s all you get. That’s what you paid for. So people can really kind of buck up and do it if you only give them five days to edit something.
Kira: Yeah. Again, dream business. I love this and I kind of want to hear more about the scheduling, but at first I still have more questions about your team. So what are you responsible for? What are they responsible for and how do you handle things when something does go wrong, which something always goes wrong, whether a client’s not happy or maybe things get off schedule.
Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kira: How do you handle those situations when something like that may happen to an associate or to a project?
Rachel: Oh yeah. And that has for sure happened when somebody at the end of it is like, I’m unhappy or this isn’t what I expected. And I will just eat that on my time. And that’s where I’m not… this is where it’s not a dream business Kira. Get ready to not be so jazzed with me-
Kira: No, no way.
Rachel: … because a lot of times it’ll be on a Friday. Somebody’s like, “I’m just not comfortable with this.” And so I will just say, “Great, I don’t have a client next week or I don’t have a client this coming week. Whenever that is. Let’s revisit it then together, me and you” and my associate will bow out at that point because they have fulfilled their side of the contract. That’s the other thing. This is not their business. I cannot ask my associates to do more than what they signed up for. Oh, another thing is I never book them without checking with them first. So they 100% have the power to say no at any time to any client. There not on retainer with me.
And it’s a very human relationship between me and them. Because somebody wants I… this is a tangent, but I hate MLMs like multilevel marketing, sorry if that gets you in trouble. And somebody wants compared my associate writers to being MLMs and I was like, “Well first of all, they don’t invest anything in this other than what they agree to and they always get paid.” So there’s the big difference. But they have complete ability to say no at any point if they’re overrun or busy or it doesn’t work with their schedule. But once their week is done for my associates, they get to be done and I will then take the client and just kind of eat that time. And sometimes if I feel like what we’ve delivered is what was agreed on in the contract, then I’ll say, “I’m happy to work with you. It’s going to be an extra X amount for my brain on this.”
Rob: Wait, let’s go into that a little bit deeper. So you’re saying if the associate delivered copy and the client isn’t entirely happy, there may be a surcharge to work with you to smooth it out and fix it. Is that right?
Rachel: Yeah, it depends what happens. If I feel like we just got it wrong and it didn’t go in the direction that it was supposed to, then I might do something for free and just come in and give my ideas and suggestions. If I feel like the client didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, if they were silent for three days and then come in on a Thursday night and want, all these edits changed. It’s like, “Well, Hey, you knew for the past six weeks leading up to this that this was the week we needed your attention. So that’s on you. If you want my attention, it’s going to cost you this.” So it’s completely case by case, but my associates aren’t involved at that point. I will just take over.
Rob: Do you ever have to get your associates involved? Let’s say they maybe didn’t deliver what they were supposed to or at that point are you just like, “I’m cutting bait here and we’re going to get fixed and move on.”
Rachel: Honestly, that’s never happened. I’ve always felt like my associates have been… like have just gone above and beyond for even difficult clients that have a hundred little edits to everything or change their mind a thousand times. I feel like my writers, they want a good review too. They know that my business doing well keeps them booked.
Rob: Makes sense. So yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about then how the scheduling stuff came out of all of this because you run the really tight schedule and I guess is the first couple of clients, maybe even the first dozen clients. It wasn’t quite that tight. So how, how did that all come to be?
Rachel: Yeah, so that entirely came about when I was living in Kenya because of the restrictions on my internet availability I was like, “How can I make sure that this gets done?” I was able to access the internet at least once every day. So it kind of presented itself to me as I can give them a week of editing and check in everyday on the comments that they make because I knew I would have internet once a day. And so that’s still my process to this day. If they make a comment in the Google document, I will respond within 24 hours. So what was just me living in a developing country has translated really well and has stuck with me for two years.
Kira: I’d love to hear a little bit more about your niche, Wedding photography. If a copywriter is listening and is maybe interested in exploring that niche and working within that niche, what advice would you give them? What should we know about that that space? What not to do, what you should focus on. How is it quite different than some of the other niches out there? You’ve already hinted at a couple, that it’s not necessarily conversion copywriting, it’s more personality based, but what else do we need to know?
Rachel: Wow, first I would say, welcome, I’m happy to have you in this space.
Rob: Hello competitors, please join me here.
Rachel: Yeah. Honestly, I am as warm and fuzzy as you can get when it comes to competition. There are 100,000 photographers for every one copywriter that wants to work with them. So I’m really not worried about it. Not that I don’t think people are good or better than me. I’m just saying great. More of us to serve. As far as what’s different a lot. I mean, and that’s been actually a really big struggle of mine because I love learning about conversion copywriting and I like kind of the nerdery behind it, but I have had a really I’ve had to take a couple deep breaths and say, “Hey, that might just not be how that looks for my niche.” And being willing to say to someone, “Hey, my process doesn’t look like that. I know that you recommend that in your world, but it doesn’t really apply to mine.”
And kind of having the presence to suss out what makes sense for the eCommerce rater versus what we do because what we do is so personal and more than anything, you need to be likable as a photographer. There’s so many people that can make beautiful photographs. So it really does come down to just your UVP, USB, whatever you want to call it. The process of getting to that just looks a little bit different. I feel like I’m just saying the same thing over and over. I’m sorry.
Rob: No, it’s all good. So I know that you’ve been serious about approaching your competitors as not necessarily as competitors, but as others who are doing the same business and you’ve done a couple of projects where you’ve reached out to people for their input or to interview them. Tell us a little bit about that.
Rachel: Yeah, well that’s something that is still on the horizon. If I stop, I’m getting pregnant. It’s just hard to do all of these things at once. But I really, really love connecting with other people who serve the same clients as me. I think it’s so cool to… It’s amazing that we get to live in a world where the internet exists and we get to watch what other people are doing and we get to share with them. And it’s a numbers game. There’s just not that many of us serving this creative designer photographer community. And I just think there’s room for everyone. So I have several groups of copywriters that I’m in contact with sometimes on a daily basis who do exactly what I do. And I will get an inquiry that doesn’t feel right to me or doesn’t jive with my timeline and I will send it to them.
And it’s a referral group. It’s a support group, it’s a learning group, it’s everything. So one day I would love to have a podcast just like a single season where I interview other writers in my field and I can just kind of pump up their services for people that might want to use them instead of me because I really do believe that I’m not perfect for everyone. How conceited would that be of me if I say I’m the best writer for every photographer on this planet? That is just not true. And here’s the other thing, I write websites. I don’t do email funnels or sales pages or any of this stuff. I’m happy to give that work to somebody who loves it. So I just feel like there’s more than enough to go around and there’s no reason to be secretive with anything.
I have had this conversation that I just had with about my exact process with other copywriters. I’ve shared my inquiry email with other copywriters. I’m just not concerned that they are going to be the reason I don’t succeed.
Kira: All right. So Rachel, I want to talk a little bit about your guide. I know this is something that you worked on over the past year and you launched it. Can you first just tell us what is this guide? What was the idea behind it and then how… we can dig into the launch details too. How did you actually put it out there and get paid for it?
Rachel: Yeah, so as my prices increased, I noticed some people just saying, “I really want to afford this but I can’t, but I really need help on my website,” and I had nothing else to give them. It was like, “Well, this is the only thing I offer. So sorry.” So I just started making notes of little things that I saw coming up with everybody I worked with. Like common mistakes, common questions, advice I was giving people because I tend to give a lot of advice in my inquiry email when somebody reaches out to me to ask about services, I’ll just tell them like four things they could do to the website right away to make it better. And so I found myself repeating myself a lot. So I started this Google doc, this was, I don’t know, two and a half years ago. It was a long time ago. And eventually I was like, “Oh, I could have an offer for a couple of $100 that could really help people and be almost passive income for me.
So that’s where the idea came from. It really came out of a need that I saw. I never wanted to make a product. I did not want that headache. I did not want to launch anything. I did not want upkeep. I don’t even like the finances behind something random payments coming in. Like I love my process and I wanted to keep it there. But I also really love to help people. And Oh, that sounds like such a cheesy thing that digital online marketers say, but it’s so true. It was like these newer photographers who are coming to me that I didn’t think I was a good fit for. I knew they needed something.
Rob: So let’s talk about the impact that’s had on your business. You created the document and it’s robust. There’s a lot in it. How much do you sell it for and what is that done as far as another line of income for you?
Rachel: Yeah. So I sell two versions of it. One version is $199. That’s 50 pages. And then the other version is $299. And that’s an extra 10 pages of resources that I’ve used to learn more about writing myself. And then with that extra 100 bucks, you get lifetime access to my private Facebook group where all of my clients hang out. There’s probably 200 people in there almost now. No, 250. And I’m in there almost every day answering questions that people have about copy and giving personalized feedback. So it’s really like you’re buying access to me if you buy that bigger option. And what was your second question?
Rob: Just basically how has this created a second line of income for your business?
Rachel: Oh yeah. I mean, I’ve made… I launched it in October and I have profited the same amount that I made in total my first year of business.
Rob: Wow. That’s awesome. And the thing I love about this is that you’re not selling copywriting to copywriters or whatever. Like you’ve gone deep in your niche, you’ve found a product that works for the audience, that you serve the best and you’re teaching them some of the things that you know how to do, but it’s like the perfectly niched offer for your audience. It’s brilliant.
Rachel: Thank you. I mean I really have enjoyed seeing the results because I am not going to say that people buy my guide and they write the most compelling website I’ve ever seen. But the changes that I’ve seen on people’s sites from before and after are remarkable. And just little tiny things that as copywriters we don’t even think twice about are revolutionary for people who don’t know anything about writing. So being able to put that in someone’s hands, I’m very proud of that.
Kira: And how did you share it with the world in launch? I know launching, you’re kind of learning as you went along with the launch process, but what did you do to get it into the hands of the right people? What worked and what didn’t work?
Rachel: Yeah, I wouldn’t even call it learning. I would just say like stumbling until I decided to say go and I learned a ton. I did. Now I feel like I learned a ton. But again, I don’t know that I will be launching anything else, but I learned, okay, what I will say worked really well. I made a freebie one on one for you online marketers. You all know this. Probably a month and a half before I launched the actual guide, I made a free version, very, very baby version of it that people could download and had all of my past clients like blast it out on their social media and in their groups. I have an engaged following. It’s not a large following on Instagram, but I have an engaged following because I’m a photographer I am already existing in these groups where my clients are. So that was hugely helpful as well. If you can be in community online with the people you serve, that has been the most beneficial to me out of anything.
I will say that for one on one services or this guide. So that freebie got, I don’t know, maybe 150 new signups to my newsletter list and then this was the 11th hour hail Mary pass that really made a huge difference that I think. I did a huge giveaway on Instagram two days before I launched the guide and it was a last minute decision. I basically just gathered $500 worth of my favorite pieces of gear as a photographer, really valuable stuff that every photographer wants and uses like memory cards that are really fast and expensive. My camera bag, that is a national geographic camera bag that I love. It’s been all over the world with me. It’s incredibly convenient and helpful. It was like 10 things, some small, some big, and the guide was part of that giveaway. And in order to enter you had to follow me and like the post.
So it grew my following by a couple of hundred overnight. So that was like fresh audience to launch this thing to the next day or two days later I guess. So that was way more successful than I thought it would be. And then I had an email sequence for people that signed up for the list and then I had a launch sequence that went out to all of these new followers. The day I launched it and then I had a sales page and I would’ve never done any of that stuff probably if I didn’t know you guys for sure, but if I wasn’t part of the Think Tank and part of the… I knew that people that knew a lot more about copywriting were going to be watching this however closely or from afar. I was just like, “If these people that really know what they’re doing, open up my information, my website, my sales page, I want it to at least look like I tried.” So that really pushed me to make this bigger than I ever would have before.
Rob: Okay. So you mentioned the Think Tank. I want to go back to the first time we met you, which was a year ago at The Copywriter Club In Real Life. And if I’m remembering this right, you said that was the first time that you had ever been in a room with other copywriters. Is that right?
Rachel: Oh yeah. It’s the first time I ever met another copywriter.
Rob: So you came to the event. I guess my question here is after the event, I know you joined the Think Tank, but what were the things that you did to really Up-level your business so that when you were ready to launch your guide, you knew that people were watching you or you knew that other people were there. What were the things that you did in your business over the last year to really move it forward?
Rachel: And I want to rephrase, when I said I knew people were watching me, it’s because the Think Tank was very supportive and kind, not because I think I’m important. [crosstalk 00:38:12]. No, more just like I was putting myself out there in front of a group of copywriters saying, “Hey, help me on this.” So I knew people would look at it. So it was like, “That’s what I mean. No one, no one knows who I am and I’m fine with that.” But I mean in that world. So first of all, joining Think Tank obviously made me a lot more aware of my business, but I have this group called The Free Think Tank that a group of girls that are around my age, they’re all moms of young kids like me. And we met at TCCIRL last year in 2019 and we were all thinking about joining the Think Tank and only half of us did, but the group has gone on.
And so having that support from them has definitely up-leveled my business. Just having a group of people that I can go to that are very, very similar to me personally and professionally has been a game changer for sure. Oh and I rebranded my whole business. That was a huge thing. I forgot about that. When I launched the guide I was still working my photography website and I didn’t even have anything about copywriting very visible on it. So I think I had written for over a hundred photographers without anything on my website about copywriting and that was embarrassing and stupid. So I launched a new site that addresses both sides of my business equally. And that obviously changed the game for me too.
Kira: I would love to hear about your struggles over the years because I’m listening and you’ve had a lot of wins. You’re running this great business, you just launched a product. I know it’s not all easy. And I know you mentioned time is of the essence because you’re pregnant, you have a young child. But what else has been a struggle beyond time and giving more time in life? What has been a struggle as you’ve grown that you maybe you weren’t expecting?
Rachel: Yeah, I mean, I’m the last person that will paint a rosy picture. Like everything’s easy. And so I’m happy to talk about struggles. Something that’s been hard has been probably just showing up as a copywriter and being willing to be criticized. Not that I think this community is critical at all, but just opening yourself up, like calling myself a copywriter opens myself up to people’s judgment. And that was really hard for me because I don’t do what a lot of other copywriters do. And my niche is very different and I love to be liked and it’s very important to me to have the affirmation and I’m a very sensitive soul.
So knowing that some people probably judge what I do, that has been an internal struggle for me. Also, like you mentioned time, I mean there is a point this fall when I was launching my guide, launching my new website, still doing client work where my husband looked at me and he was like, “I did not sign up for this. Just so you know.” Because the baby would get home at five, I would have her until he got home at six and then I wouldn’t see either of them on until midnight. And it wasn’t the family that we… it wasn’t what we envisioned and I was just so committed to running after this.
And at that point I had just found out I was four weeks pregnant when I launched everything. So I was like, “This needs to be successful. This is my maternity leave next year. I need to make money on this.” So that was a hard, hard season. And to be honest, this is a really hard season. I don’t know when you guys are going to put this up, but it is the last day of March and we are all staring down a tunnel of unknown when it comes to this virus and staying at home and my industry… this is the first time I would ever, ever have a hesitation about niching. Niching has done nothing but fabulous things for my business. And I still feel like I made the best decisions I could have. And I really am proud of how smart I was in doing it.
But it’s really scary right now. You know what this is like your parents that first two years of your child’s life is so hard and it’s so exhausting. And I made a lot of sacrifices to grow this business to where it is because I wanted to coast. I was like, “I’m having a second baby. This is my time to coast. I’m not gonna push for the multiple six figure a year like I did last year.” And I’m not scared of our financial situation, but I am sad. I’m sad for what I expected this summer and the rest of this year to look like and what it probably is going to look like.
Kira: Yeah. Can you talk a little bit more about that too? Because not all of us are in that industry. We haven’t seen it firsthand. We’ve heard and we can imagine how rough it is right now. But what have you experienced and seen from clients or just colleagues?
Rachel: Yeah, I mean I’m in all of the groups, so I see what photographers are saying, what they’re struggling with, how they’re feeling and just being on the phone with some clients this week. I mean, people aren’t allowed to get married right now, you can’t gather, you can’t go outside in most of our country and so, and they don’t know when that’s going to change. So all of my clients are really scrambling for the right language to console people. But they don’t have the information either. It’s not like they can say, you know what, by X date, this is all going to be better and we can definitely do it this way. There’s so much grace that everybody needs to extend to one another within my industry right now.
And there’s a lot of photographers that I serve that are pretty new and so they don’t have that that bucket of income just sitting there for a rainy day or for a pandemic. And so it’s scary. And so, I think just the unknowns of it all, the unknowns of when they’re going to be able to shoot weddings that they had on the books, if people are going to be booking weddings. I mean, if I’m being completely honest, I go back and forth between thinking like, okay, this will all be over and I’m really hopeful people are going to get married again. Right? Like people are going to hire photographers again. Right? To has our world changed forever? Are we going to operate differently philosophically for the rest of my children’s lives? So yeah, I think people are struggling with existential questions. And they’re also struggling with am I going to get my deposit for that wedding that I had booked? It’s like little things to huge things.
Kira: All right, well we were going to ask you about the future of copywriting, right now we can’t even ask that it is unknown. So I think my question is not about the future of copywriting for your industry, but just more how are you handling that soon to go on maternity leave also knowing that your industry has changed dramatically and may change forever? Knowing that you still need to help people but also need to run your own business and grow your family. How do you stay sane and centered? What are you doing to just kind of manage that stress that you’re taking on from other people and also carrying?
Rachel: There’s a lot of ways that I do that-
Kira: Tell me all of it. All the ways.
Rachel: … unfortunately I can’t drink right now, which would definitely be one of them. I think something that I keep reminding myself is that I’m not in charge of this. Nothing I do or think or say makes this virus go away. And there are some really, really smart people in this world that are working on it and I can only have faith that they’re following their intuition and they’re following their God given ability to figure this out. So that’s a big one for me. Another one is just that there has been horrible things that have happened in the history of time and horrible things will always happen. But I have always chosen to believe that the horrible things never outweigh the positive things.
So there’s going to be a course correction here and maybe this pandemic itself maybe is a course correction for us in a lot of ways. So I know there’s so many silver linings to all of it and I do believe that but for me personally, it’s like I’m not the first person to have a child in an uncertain time and I won’t be the last. So for me, I am immensely proud of what I built. And I’m also holding it with very open hands and saying, “If this isn’t for me in the future, if what I’ve worked so hard to build doesn’t exist a year from now, am I resilient enough? Am I strong enough? Am I smart enough to do it again?” And I think that the answer is yes to that.
Rob: I think the answer is yes to that as well. In fact as I’m thinking about all of the stuff going on, I graduated from college in the 90s and the recession that put president Clinton into office, right? And then I was having my first child when the dot com collapse happened and stuff has happened before that has scared all of us. And while this is a different thing, it’s only just a thing, right? And it is something that we’re all going to be able to get over together. And yeah, it is going to hurt some people and we’re going to have to pull together and take care of those that it does. But we’re all going to bounce back and hopefully the bounce back comes in a matter of months and not over the course of years. But we’ll see what the future brings. I agree that the way forward is optimism. So I love hearing that from you Rachel.
Rachel: Well, it’s the only way to be and survive.
Rob: Yeah, it’s not really a choice…
Rachel: That’s all I’ve got.
Rachel: Yeah, exactly.
Rob: Rachel, if somebody wants to check out your new website this year or maybe even see what you’re selling with your guide or the website packages that you sell to photographers, tell us where they can find you.
Rachel: So my website is just greenchairstories.com. Like green, like the color chair, like the furniture stories, like the only word that exists…
Rob: And there’s a story behind that as well that we didn’t even ask you but it’s there on the website. So…
Rachel: Yeah. So yes it is. So yeah, you can go there or my Instagram handle is just @greenchairstories.
Rob: Thanks Rachel.
Kira: Rachel, thank you so much and it’s just been so fun to get to know you over the last year and I’m just glad that we have you in our world. So thank you so much.
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.