Email copywriter Sarah Henson is our guest for the 163rd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. We first met Sarah a couple of years ago (at a copywriter conference) and have seen her make big changes in her business in the past year as a member of The Copywriter Think Tank. We asked Sarah about her successes, her struggles and how she’s pushed herself to accomplish more—even as she’s faced some big challenges in her life and business. We talked about:
• Sarah’s career path from actress to coach to email tech to copywriter
• her experience as an actress and how it helps her as a writer
• the “method actor” approach to understanding customers
• owning the title of copywriter and how she made the switch
• how she chose her niche (or how it chose her)
• some of the hurdles Sarah’s overcome on her way to the next level
• the big goals she’s set and what she wants to accomplish next
• what keeps her going especially when she struggles to make things work
• the mindset shift she’s experienced over the past 10 months
• a breakdown of the work she did to hit $11K in a single month
• comparison-itis and how Sarah has made sure it won’t hold her back
• struggles with balance and how to fit it all in
• the difference a community or mastermind can make in business
• what she’s building in her business right now
To get this one in your ear holes, click the play button below. To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And to read a full transcript, scroll down the page a bit.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts and 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 Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for episode 163 as we chat with email strategist and e-commerce copywriter, Sarah Henson, about the struggle of freelancing and having her biggest revenue month ever, building an effective email strategy, what she’s done to take her business to the next level, and how her past life as an actor has made her a better copywriter. Welcome, Sarah.
Rob: Hi, Sarah.
Sarah: Hey there.
Kira: Great to have you here. Sarah. Let’s just kick this off with your story. How did you end up in e-commerce and as an email strategist and a copywriter?
Sarah: Well, it’s kind of a convoluted story, which I think pretty much everybody who’s been on your podcast says it’s been a bit of a weaving tale, but to me, yeah, you touched on it, that I was an actress for about 12 years. And when I say actress, it’s not like I was super famous or anything like that. I was in the trenches, doing all of the auditions here, there and everywhere, getting gigs every now and again, but for 12 years, I was constantly going towards my goal and always getting little jobs here and there that just kept me going and kept me fueled all the time.
But then, as I got into my 30s, things started to change, and my priorities changed. I met someone and we ended up getting married and having children and the life of an actor going for auditions all the time and being available for tours and gigs and things like that is not really conducive to life as a mother, so I decided that it was high time that I had to kind of switch gears. And I actually ended up starting my own actors’ agency, because I knew a lot of what goes on in the industry and how it works and everything. And I thought I could be really helpful to help other actors to get work.
So, I started an agency. I ran that for about three years. And that was mildly successful. But I kind of, I think it was necessary for me to be able to kind of segue from acting, which was my passion, and I still have a little bit of a yearning deep down when I watch some stuff on TV and in the movies that was like, oh, that could have been me. But it was a way for me to let go of that big dream that I had of winning an Oscar one day and so I actually got to see a little bit more of the other side of the business, which wasn’t quite as pretty. So, it allowed me to let go of that dream. And then after, I decided to close the business down because it just wasn’t generating the revenue that I wanted.
I kind of switched gears again, did a business degree. And then I found the online world, which for many people is kind of like a rabbit hole, where you go down and you find there’s so many different things that you can do and the possibilities of what online business can actually bring you. And I ended up going into coaching. I’d never coached before. I’d never done any coach training, but I kind of bought into this idea that anybody could be a coach. And I thought that with all my acting training and the fact that I’ve been so resilient and always going for my dreams and never giving up was something that not a lot of my peers had about them. And I knew that that was something special that I had that I was able to kind of just keep going no matter what. And I thought that that was something that I could bring to the table as a coach, and I mean well, I say I worked as a coach for about a year. I had that business for about a year. But for some reason, I just couldn’t get it going. I couldn’t get consistent clients or anything. I had a few clients here and there but it really wasn’t where my strengths lie.
So again, it was a case of, okay, switching gears. What can I do, what can I double down on that I knew I’m good at. And during the time of actually setting up my coaching business, I’m quite a techie person. So I ended up going into virtual assistance work and helping people with their technical side of things. And that kind of led me to, ended up setting up a lot of people’s email systems and then I don’t even know how it happened. But some of my clients were just asking, ‘Can you just put together an email for me? I just want to say this, that and the other.’ And suddenly I started writing emails to people and because of my acting training, I could replicate their voice as well.
So I was able to kind of match what they were saying in a lot of their social media posts and write emails that then guided the two, either social media posts or sales pages and things like that. And that’s kind of how it all came about. And it was about 18 months ago that I was like, okay copywriting, this is the thing, this is the thing for me. And that’s where it kind of like started from there really, about 18 months ago, that’s when I declared and held up my flag that I am a copywriter. And then from that point on, it’s kind of evolved. And now I’m into strategy as well. So that’s how I got to where I am today.
Rob: That is a winding path. A lot of turns here and there.
Rob: I’m really curious, Sarah, about your training as an actor and how that has impacted what you do as a copywriter. Can you talk a little bit about the things that you learned and did as an actor and how that either effect client and how you’re dealing with the client or the work that you do or the voices that you echo.
Sarah: Yeah, sure. I mean, over time, as I’ve transitioned through all these things, the acting part of me has always been at my core, and I saw a lot of similarities into doing the research on ideal clients and prospects and things like that was very much like stepping into role as a character, the research that you have to do when you take on a new character because a lot of the times, if you got a script, you don’t get the backstory of the character. So it’s not a case of just making up. You have to kind of make executive decisions about what that character could possibly have done to get them to where they are today.
And so it’s very similar to actually putting on someone else’s clothes and actually stepping into that role. And that actually comes into play when you’re looking at, like for a client of mine, their prospects who I’m writing and my clients work for but also stepping into the role of my clients as well because then I have to also embody who they are to be able to replicate their voice and do that. So it’s kind of like a two fold system of actually stepping into both roles and doing all the research behind that to actually get to, like in a character understanding what motivates a character to do something, their behaviors and why they do stuff. It’s all very similar in copywriting. And that’s how I kind of use that skill in my writing and in the strategy as well. And it is not something that I can say it’s like a one, two, three step system. It’s kind of like an innate thing that just kind of comes to me. And it’s not something that… this is one of the things I was thinking. If I were to ever teach on this, how would I package that and I’m still working through how I can actually systemize that and say this is how it’s done. So I’m still working on that point.
Kira: Because when you actually do this, you’re stepping into the characters, like you’re feeling the characters right? I mean, you become the characters. Is that safe to say?
Sarah: Well yeah, definitely. I mean a lot of the time, if you had like a little camera in my office, well it’s actually my sun room of my house, watching me as I write, sometimes I actually just, I have to close my eyes and imagine myself in this situation and this is one of the things that the type of acting training that I did, it was in the Meisner technique, which not a lot of people have heard of, but I call it. It’s kind of a method acting, and it’s all about truth and honesty and being in the moment and actually embodying your character as if it was real. And so for me when I’m writing, it is a case of actually getting myself into the zone and I know a lot of copywriters need to get into flow and into the zone of writing but this is also actually getting into the zone as a character of actually changing my breathing. This might sound a little bit of woo woo, changing my breathing and imagining the situation that I’m actually writing about and how they’re going to be feeling if they’re coming up against the struggle or challenge and how that actually plays out and what will then motivate them to take the next step. So it’s yeah, I don’t know if it’s a little bit of other. I would like to call it a little bit of magic in there. I don’t know.
Kira: And how far does this extend? Will you take that character and embody that character and go to the grocery store or do you leave it in the office?
Sarah: Generally, it’s usually when I’m writing but sometimes they do come up especially when it’s a bit more of a challenge to write something. I have always found that disconnecting from everything is always the way that inspiration hits me. And often, when I’m in the gym, I will end up listening to podcasts and all sorts and then all of a sudden something will come to me and I’ll have to jump off the treadmill or off the Stairmaster and get my little notepad or my phone out and make a note of something because it’s just hit me there and then and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of I think it’s Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She talks about inspiration and creativity that moves through you and sometimes it’s like a breeze that you actually have to catch on the tail end of it before it moves past you, you have to catch it and it’s like if I don’t do it there and then, it will be gone and it will be lost so it’s kind of yeah, there’s no science to it. I don’t know if it’s because science is cool but yet it is that bit of magic that you, well that I, yeah, sometimes it comes to me when I’m in the gym, but I don’t intentionally take the characters with me if I ever go anywhere.
Kira: Okay, you mentioned 18 months ago is when really you pivoted and declared you’re a copywriter, which is sometimes so surprising to me to hear when copywriters declare they’re going to be a copywriter because I feel like you’ve been at it for years and years, just knowing you. So can you talk about what happened 18 months ago when you decided, ‘I’m a copywriter, I’m doing this for real. I’m going all in.’ What are some of the actions you took at that point to then move forward and take your business to the next level knowing that this is what you wanted to do?
Sarah: Well, it’s interesting because that transition of saying, I was a copywriter, like you say, I felt like I was a copywriter before then. But it was that whole imposter syndrome is like my clients knew me as their virtual assistant tech, online business manager to then call myself a copywriter or I know I’ve not been hired as a copywriter in itself so I couldn’t really call myself that but it was a case of actually, the transition point for me was, I’d been working towards building something for myself as a copywriter. And it was at that point where someone said yeah, and can you write me some emails? Right, okay, this is it. It was actually a little bit more than 18 months ago. It was January of 2018, I think it was and so okay, okay, I’ve got my first copywriting client. So that means I’m a copywriter.
And it’s almost like I had to have that validation to make it real. And it was at that point that I put my URL up and set up online, I changed my work because I was such a tech geek, it was so easy for me to change my website, pulled the old one down, put a new one up, I’m a copywriter, this is what I do. And it was just from that point onwards and it was just like one foot in front of the other, client after client, and it wasn’t a case of like bang, that was it, copywriting from that point on. It was a few months of transitioning some clients in, some clients out and I have to say I still have one client from the early days who I still do tech stuff for because I love her dearly and she’s almost like a friend but it’s all part of who I am and what I do.
Rob: Sarah, can we talk about how you have moved into a particular niche and I know you’ve been around a little bit with a few different ideas and have finally at least I believe finally landed someplace where you feel really comfortable. Talk about a little bit about that and the process that you went through in order to figure out what it is that you really wanted to work on.
Sarah: Well yeah, I mean to me from the start, it was always email from the start because that’s kind of how I got my start in copywriting was writing emails and it’s just focusing down on emails was quite a natural thing for me to do because it’s like that just easy breezy conversation with someone and I really enjoy and that lends itself to be. The acting side of things I’ve been able to communicate and connect with people on a more intimate level and then going into e-commerce, that wasn’t really a decision as kind of made up for me in terms of, I had some referrals. And then I started working with a supplements company. And I realized that what I was doing for that company, writing their emails and helping working through that strategy and everything, it was a case of this is something that I know I’m good at and I’m getting results for and actually why not use what I’m learning with this client to actually put myself out there as an e-commerce copywriter.
And it’s so much easier to then really focus in all your activities in your business when you’ve got a very clear goal of like, this is who I’m working towards, working for and working with, and it also plays very much into my philosophy of universal kindness, which is something I’m very passionate about is that I’m very interested in working with e-commerce companies that are mission driven, but also, they want to make an impact in terms of being kind to the planet, whether it’s sustainability or natural products, natural health or wellness, but also kind to animals because I also have a plant based diet.
I do things very naturally with my lifestyle as well. And so it was almost like I had to put all these elements together to figure out what this niche was that I was going to be serving. And so it’s come down to emails, what I love, e-commerce and selling products, natural products or products that have an impact in some way on the planet or humanity in general, being kind in three different ways to humans, to creatures and to the planet. And so like I say, it’s not like I just kind of came out of the womb as a copywriter and say I’m an email copywriter. It’s evolved over time and it chose me, I would say but it is a really good way to have that guiding light to be able to really focus your activities in your business, I think.
Rob: And as I listened to you talk about your story and the things that you’ve done, it feels like a really natural progression and things have been really smooth. It’s all made sense. It just kind of happened easily. And that’s probably not the truth. In fact, this is probably the case with a lot of our podcast viewers. We talk about our stories and oftentimes we hit the highlights but we forget some of the lowlights. Will you talk a little bit about some of your struggles because I don’t think it’s been all easy, right?
Sarah: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, one of the things, and I don’t know whether this is for all copywriters or whether it’s the creatives and creators in particular because I consider myself creative, having been an actress, but it’s strange because deep down, there’s a core belief about being able to succeed in what I’m doing. Otherwise I wouldn’t keep going. And that’s always been there. But there’s like a whole imposter syndrome. It’s like, every time I submit a piece of copy, I’m like, are they going to like it? Is it going to be right? Is it the right thing? And constantly questioning myself is like, Am I doing the right thing? Am I giving, producing good work? And yeah, I keep getting the results and it keeps affirming what I’m doing is good.
But the challenges for me have been along the way of actually, each segue or transition that I’ve done has come with a new hurdle that I’ve had to overcome. There was a time last year when I was really fully embracing the whole copywriting part of my business and one of my clients decided that they didn’t want to work with me, not didn’t want to work with me anymore, her business was going in a different direction and she didn’t need my services anymore. And she was kind of like my staple income and I just separated from my husband, I just moved out into a place of my own with my children. And that was kind of like the time where I realized holy crap, I’ve got to really figure this out because I’m on my own now. I don’t have any backup plan, other than getting this copywriting business properly going.
And I actually struggled with a lot of anxiety around that time and it is really debilitating because it’s almost like it’s not something you can control. I mean, yes, you can do some meditation and breathing and stuff like that. But those are the real challenges is when you wake up in the morning and you have this kind of feeling of dread about your day and the only thing you can do is just get up and get going and I have to say that probably having my kids around me is the one thing that’s kept me going, not because they’re like my shining light or anything, but it’s because when you have kids, there is no excuse, you have to get up in the morning, you have to get them ready and get them to school and it was a case of like, they kept me going.
And once I dropped them off at school that dread came in. I’ve got to sit down and get on with this work. Am I any good? And each stage in business, it comes with these challenges and these new, it’s breaking through that ceiling of what’s possible for you because you get to the point where yeah, you’ve done something but the next level is something that you’ve not done before. You can see it’s possible. But getting to that next level is such a, I wouldn’t say a struggle but it takes a lot of grit to just keep the faith that what you’re doing is the right thing, but also that you have got the gumption to actually get there.
Kira: Sarah, I’d love to hear about what comes next for you and your business. I know you’ve set some really big goals financially and just big life goals. Can you share some of those with us?
Sarah: Oh yeah, sure. I mean, I have to remind myself sometimes, because I’m in a think tank, and I see some big goals being set by other people. And I try not to compare myself with them because my situation is very unique in terms of well, everybody’s situation is unique. You can’t compare yourself with someone else. But I am very ambitious because, for one, I’m 43 and I don’t have a pension or anything like that. So, I spent a good 20 years of my life running around, doing things I love but not making a lot of money at it. So, I’m not in a position where I am set up for life or anything like that. So I’ve got some big ambitious financial goals, because I like what money does for people and it does for me, and one of the things that I mentioned earlier was that I did separate with my husband and I’m in the process of now buying my own house and for me to actually say that and the actual house purchase is going through next month so it’s all on track to go through and everything and this has been like the biggest thing for me so far.
And because when as an actress, I earned very little money, and for me to say that I’m actually purchasing my own house with my own money, with money that I’ve earned working from home and yet still being there for my kids. I pick them up from school every day. I drop them off at school every day. I’m there for them in the holidays. Yes, there are times where I put them in sports clubs and things like that, because there are days where I need to get on with work, but generally I am a full-time mom. And so, having that goal of buying that house has been the thing that’s been my guiding light through the last year and a half basically. But now, it’s kind of I’m at the point of like okay, so what’s next? So, I’m almost there with that but it’s just got a few ticks of the box and then that’s done and then it’s like okay, what next?
Now I’m not exactly sure what the future is going to look like in terms of my copywriting business then but I know that I want to create a lot of income streams so that I’m not reliant on just one thing, because I do love copywriting but writing for clients day in day out, and it’s draining. It takes a lot out of me. And I would like to be in a position one day where I’m not writing, all my time isn’t taken up with writing for other clients. I would like to be able to write for myself.
Whether that is in the shape of a course, I have no idea. I’m not sure if I’m a teacher, to be honest but I’d like to think that my creativity is going to come into it and who knows whether I may write a book one day, I might write a screenplay or a film, who knows but the fact that I’m able to sit in my house every day and write, which is an incredible gift really, and earn good money at it, and support my children and still be able to see friends and things like that, it’s kind of like it blows my mind that I’m able to do that and I’m forever grateful that I actually fell down that rabbit hole those years ago and found the internet because there are things, and I know that a lot of people especially copywriters, like their parents might say, ‘So what do you really do?’
My dad sometimes tested me, ‘I’m not sure what you do but are you okay? Do you need to borrow some money?’, and I’m like, ‘No Dad, I’m okay now. I really am. I’m not struggling when I was an actress. I’m doing really well.’ And like you mentioned in the intro to this, that I’ve just had my biggest month ever. I had, I think it’s an $11,000 month last month, and even six months ago, that would not have been possible for me. And you can tell the way I’m talking, it just honestly blows my mind that that’s actually possible. And I do see that it’s possible with other people as well. And that kind of keeps me inspired to keep going even through the tough times, in the times when I think, ‘Oh God, I just have another motivation to do this right now. I just have to keep going.’ And I think that’s one of my strengths is that resilience, and that’s always been with me and I have to thank my dad for that because he’s one of these people who’s just said, ‘You’ve got it in you, Sarah, you’ve just got to keep going. And you can’t let anybody get in your way in terms of bringing you down, say you can’t do something because no one else’s opinion matters. It’s only what you do in your life that matters.’
And as long as you’ve got, and this brings back to my kind of universal kindness philosophy is that if you’re kind to other people, if you’re doing good work, if you have your morals and your ethics in place, I don’t think you can go wrong, and just keep forging forward towards those goals. Yes, you may struggle, yes, you may have a [inaudible 00:25:26], yes you may have to take two steps back to go one step forward. It’s just keeping your eye on the prize and keep moving forward because that’s the only way you can do it really.
Rob: Yeah, I’ve seen a big mindset shift in you over the last year. And I wonder if we can talk a little bit about that because, like you said, realizing this kind of money goal, is it even possible is a big deal. Maybe having a home was a dream a year ago, but the fact that you’re actually making it happen and earning the money to make it happen, your mindset has definitely made a shift, and maybe you can tell us a little bit what was it that you did that helps you make that shift from where you were before to where you are now?
Sarah: That’s a really good question. What made the shift? I don’t know, it was just a case of I had to do something. I couldn’t rely on anyone. It is not a case that I didn’t feel like I could rely on anyone else. It’s the case that I didn’t want to rely on anyone else. I’ve always been very independent. And that’s been kind of maybe, my family will say that was kind of one of the things that they love about me, but also find it difficult about me because I’m so independent. I want to do everything on my own. And I don’t like to ask for help in things.
But that’s one of the things that I realized that is you do have to ask for help. And you need to find support in certain ways. And whatever that is, whether that is asking for someone to help you look after the kids or just reaching out to someone say ‘Hey, I’ve got a question. Are you able to help me here?’, because I feel like it is, again a bit woo, universal kind of karma. If you’re nice and help people and I try to help people, whether that’s in business online or just if I see someone, an old lady struggling across the road, I will actually stop and say, ‘Look, do you need some help?’ I will go out of my way to make sure that that person’s okay.
And I feel like if you did to other people, that will come back on you. And so that I’ve always felt quite, I found it quite difficult to ask for help from myself, because I think, ‘Oh, what if people think I’m trying to take advantage of them.’ But that’s one of the things is that I had to let go of the idea that I had to do it all by myself. And so that’s one of the things just like looking for people who’ve gone before you, who’ve done the same thing that can inspire you, whether they’re an official mentor or an unofficial mentor, because there are people I follow online who I consider them my mentors, but they have no idea who I am. But I look to them as the thing that shows me it’s possible and to keep moving forward in that way.
Kira: All right, so Sarah, about the $11,000, your greatest month I think there are copywriters that might hear this and say, ‘Well, how did you actually do it?’ Beyond the mindset shift that has happened and what you mentioned about asking for help and not doing it alone, in that particular month, what did you do differently surrounding that month? Did you raise rates? Did you sell more packages? Did you up your marketing game? What does it actually take to hit these really great numbers and have your greatest month?
Sarah: Well, it’s interesting because I’ve never really reflected on that before, what changed to actually make that happen, but I think it’s a case of putting in the foundational work because this is a long game. It’s not a case of I like to use analogies like push this button and this happens, it’s kind of like push this button, then a domino falls and then a leaf flushes off a tree, that kind of effect that a year down the line, something actually happens. And I don’t want that to sound like okay, you’ve got no control over this. But it is a case of, you have to put all the foundational pieces into play. And a lot of that comes from connections and conversations and just be really generous with your time and being a good person and being that kind of person, who people want to refer because that’s where most of my work has come from is referrals and connections.
And I make it a point to always do right by the people I’m working with. And that’s the only way that they’re going to refer you is if you’re doing good work and you’re reliable and you’re delivering on time, and that’s one of the things that I’m very, very, I don’t know if passionate is the right word but I’m on the money with like, if I’ve got a deadline, that’s it. I’m going to hit that deadline. I mean, I had a deadline yesterday for this big project I’m working on and I had to work for three days straight, really into the early hours of the morning to get it done. But I hit my deadline, and I delivered the copy the time that I’m supposed to, because I cannot allow myself to not deliver on my promises. And it’s kind of that integrity piece of actually doing what you say you’re going to do.
And I feel that that is kind of like at the core of being successful, is that if you’re going to be able to say, give a promise, and you can deliver on it, that is going to create all this good karma and people will refer you and it is a case of just keep on going no matter what. And if someone said to me, even six months ago, ‘You’re going to have an $11,000 month.’, I’d go, ‘Yeah, sure, right, okay.’ Yes, I see it’s possible. I see other people doing that. But yeah, I mean, to actually break it down, part of that is one of my big retainer clients I’ve got. Another part is a big project that I’ve just taken on.
Another part of it is lots of little things that just continue to kind of happen, like someone booking a strategy session with me because I’ve been referred by another person. And again, a lot of that work comes from referrals, even just like someone booking a strategy session from my website, it comes from someone else saying, ‘Oh, go to Sarah, she’ll be able to help you sort out your email sequence if you just book the session.’ And that comes from there, and I didn’t have to have a sales call for that. Someone referred me. I don’t know if that answers your question or if that’s actually helpful to anyone of how do you go from this to this. That’s how it happened to me. It’s very organic, but it is that constant, belief in yourself and doing good work.
Rob: Yeah, I think it is really helpful. I’m curious, my guess is that a lot of people who are listening are thinking, ‘Okay, connections, relationships, easy to say, but I work at home on my own, I’m alone.’, which you do as well. What are the things that you do to connect with human beings so that you can actually make those referrals happen? Are there places that you go or places that you hang out online? How do you foster those relationships?
Sarah: Well, I have to say, and this is not just blowing smoke up, [inaudible 00:32:43] or anything but The Copywriter Club has been instrumental in actually getting me to where I am now because that was my first foray into what copywriting was. I was introduced into the free Facebook group by someone and that was like the domino effect. I found and listening to your podcast and another thing was Copy Chief as well with Kevin Rogers. I kind of got into that community. So the community of The Copywriter Club and Copy Chief together, that has been the foundation of all my connections, without a doubt. I can trace every connection back to every connection, every referral and every job project back to that, without a doubt.
Kira: Yeah, and that’s where I first met you at Copy Chief. It was like late night at Copy Chief, I believe when we first met. So Sarah, can we talk a little bit about comparisonitis? Because you touched on it earlier. But I want to hear a little bit more about how you’ve dealt with this because there are these great communities, communities that we’ve created, other communities where you get to meet all these other copywriters and marketers and it can help you grow your business and get these big ideas but sometimes it can also hurt you where you start to compare yourself to everyone else and where they are, not knowing the backstory. So have you dealt with this personally in your business? And if so, how have you dealt with it?
Sarah: Oh, for sure. I mean, I think it’s impossible to actually go into any kind of business without comparing yourself and I don’t know whether that’s… I’m sure everybody, I was going to say if that’s a female thing or not, but I think everybody has that. Because you look to others to kind of guide the way and there’s no doubt that you think, ‘Okay, how did they do that? How did they manage to do that? Oh, I’m not going to be able to do that because I don’t have this, that and the other.’ And you compare your situation with them. But I think at the end of the day, you have to come back to the point of your own personal situation is absolutely unique, and no one has got all the different things going on in their life like you have and you’ve got to forgive yourself for times where you don’t do, you aren’t able to achieve the things that you want to in a certain timeframe or whatever, but also just keep going.
And that’s the thing is that one foot in front of another is like using what you see in other people as fuel as opposed to dousing the flames of your passion or anything like that, you have to allow it to fuel you, allow it to make though, okay, it is possible to do this. They may have had this, that and the other in place with them. Okay, maybe they had someone supporting them to help them in this journey. I don’t have that. So okay, so what can I do to to make up for that and you just have to, I think it’s a case of just thinking ahead and seeing different perspectives and seeing different ways you can approach things is having that problem solving mindset. It’s like, okay, rather than coming up as an obstacle, don’t get me wrong. You come up against an obstacle. Yes, you may have a pity party because it’s like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t do this.’, and you may have failed pretty bad for a few days or something, but it’s kind of like that get up, dust yourself off. Okay, how can I work through this? How can I, Sarah, use my skills because I know I’ve got skills and experience and my unique perspective on things, how can I use all of what is me and who is me to actually work through this?
And you will find a different path to someone else. But just having those other people who you’re comparing yourself to, use it as your light, as your guiding, as your anchor to know that it’s possible because it’s like trying to go into space or something like that. It’s possible. It’s been done before, and everything pretty much has been done before. Yes, there are pioneers who are doing the new things for the first time. But generally most things in business has been done before and it’s possible and you have to use that as fuel to keep you going. And sometimes, seeing other people do things and you make yourself, I can’t do that. It’s just a case of having to switch it around. It’s like how can I make this work for me so that I can do this or do it in a similar way or do it in my own way, my unique way to get to where I want to go.
Rob: I guess the other way to do that is to compare yourself to people who are failing and then that just makes you feel better. Obviously, I’m joking about that.
Sarah: No, but you’re having a point now because it is a comparison, because you have to compare yourself to two months ago or three years ago or like 10 years ago, because when you see how far you’ve come, it kind of like I said before, it blows my mind that I’ve just had this great month, or that when I think back to the times when I was waiting tables and working in bars as an actress, I used to scrap around for the change to be able to get my ticket into London when I used to live in London or I used to skip paying for my ticket on the train because I used to be able to get through the gates without being seen and I didn’t have a rail card because I couldn’t afford it at the time. And when I look back to those days where I had, literally I had very, very little money, and I was living in London as well and paying exorbitant rent, when I look back to that, it’s like how far if I come to that I’m now buying this house, which I’m scared to say the price of it is that it’s over a quarter of a million pounds. It just blows my mind that I, me, Sarah Henson, who used to be a struggling actress, now can afford to buy that house. It just, and that’s the end of the podcast.
Rob: Yeah, it’s an amazing transition for sure. Not going to let you end the podcast yet though, because we do have a few more questions. One of which is about balance. As I’ve seen you build your business and work hard and you’ve accomplished all of these things, you’re not doing it at the expense of also having a life. You still go to the gym, I know you do some pole dancing stuff from time to time, and you’re spending time with your kids. How do you balance everything so that it’s not just about the money and success but that your family gets some attention too?
Sarah: Well, I don’t think it’s necessary balance. I just think everything comes in phases. For example, I just said that I spent three days working solidly on coffee and that was over a weekend. And luckily, my kids were with my ex-partner at the time. But the thing is, it’s a case of like just being in the moment for what it is. And sometimes I work very focused on copies. Other times, I have times where I need to chill out and watch some Netflix. And then there are times where I spend time with my kids. Whereas one thing that I do have as non-negotiable is going to the gym because this is kind of going off track a bit but every year, I choose a word to focus on. And funnily enough, my word for this year is focus, because I feel like I’ve got quite a creative brain, I get ideas and sparks and I go off in lots of different directions.
And I thought this year I really need to focus my time and energy in the right places. And I decided that my health was pretty much my number one priority this year because like I said, I’m 43. I am pretty healthy, but if I want to make sure that I am going to continue to be healthy, I need to make sure that I am actually laying a good foundation right now. And that means getting strong in my muscles, being able to have a healthy diet and I chose that no matter what, that I was going to go to the gym and luckily, I think this is something that we’ve talked about in The Think Tank about habits and that is I’ve made it habit to go to the gym.
If I didn’t have my kids, it would be really hard to get the motivation to get up in the morning, go to the gym. It’s just the fact that my gym is on the way home from my kids’ school. So every morning I take the kids to school, I put my gym gear on and I go to the gym, and it’s just part of that routine that I do. And even, it was yesterday, I very nearly, I thought to myself, I’ve really got to get this project finished. I was like no, I need to go to the gym because it’s actually my space where I kind of just disconnect from it all. And then I’ve also got, like you said my pole dancing, which is just kind of my absolute pleasure. I love my pole dancing, not in the sexy kind of way. It’s actually a fitness kind of thing. I mean I used to be a dancer when I was younger. All through my teens and everything I did a lot of dancing, and since having kids, I’ve not really done much dancing.
So it was one of the things that I always wanted to do when I was younger was to do pole dancing because it’s so cool. And then I found a school nearby and I only do it once a week on a Friday night and it’s like the end of the week for my release of that. I just get on the pole and do some strange moves and it feels so good because it really helps my confidence because it’s just, I don’t know what it is about it. It feels so good to be able to, I was about to say master the pole but it can be wrong. Oh dear, but to be able to do the moves that I do on a pole, it feels so good because it’s core strength and just really taking control of it.
Kira: Yeah, you need some upper body strength to master that pole. It’s impressive. So Sarah, I want to ask about your experience in the think tank mastermind, which we’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’ve been in our mastermind, and we’ve been able to get to know you really well in that group. Can you just share a little bit like what has your experience been in that mastermind? And what should other copywriters look for in a mastermind? If they’re thinking about joining one, there are lots of masterminds out there, what are some questions they should think about before joining a mastermind?
Sarah: Oh yeah, sure. I mean, my experience of The Think Tank is when I joined, I was like, ‘Am I in the right place?’ I don’t think I’m in the right place. And I had such a wobble about whether I was doing the right thing, not because I didn’t think it was going to be valuable, but the people that were in there, I was like, ‘Oh my God, these people are so much further ahead than I am in business.’ And it was just a case of like, I don’t know, I think it was a case of just the fact that I’d invested some decent chunk of money into something that’s so big, it kind of just puts you in that place of like, ‘Oh my God, am I doing the right thing?’
But it has been amazing because it’s not that I couldn’t put my finger at this thing has helped me do this thing. It’s the idea for me that I’ve got this year long support that no matter what happens, it’s there. It’s almost like my safety net, my comfort blanket that I have got this team of people around me who are my team. They’re there for me and I’m there for them in the same way that are cheering me on, sharing their wins as well so that I can also see what’s possible. Get feedback on not only how copy, but also like pricing, things like that. It is invaluable. It really is to have a team of people who are on the same page as you, working towards the same goals, who are in it together and who are such a lovely bunch of people, they really are.
And in terms of like what to look for in a mastermind, I think it’s just a case of finding your tribe, finding the people that you know. I know you don’t know the other people that you’re going to be in the mastermind with but the people who are leading it like yourselves, from the moment I joined The Copywriter Club, the Facebook group, there was just something about you guys, the community that you had created that, I don’t know, it was just one of those things that I just felt attracted to you both. I’m in love with you both. It’s just that thing. It’s like feeling that vibe of like seeing who is hosting a mastermind or a community and finding those people that are actually going to you feel like you can gel with and you can see yourself in a way and I think that’s the only way you can actually choose a community to join really.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, and the feeling is mutual of course, Sarah, we love you as well. As I think about different masterminds, and certainly this sounds a little bit like an ad for The Think Tank, maybe we should have our podcast editor cut that out and paste it on every podcast, but it is important to invest in yourself at some level. And depending on where people are, sometimes that’s the purchase of a book or two or maybe it’s a course or maybe it is finding your own group of people that you can hold each other accountable or joining a mastermind, but it really makes a huge difference. I kind of want to ask something a little bit different and that is where do you see your business going from where you are now? You’ve had this awesome month, where you hit a best month ever. Obviously, you’ve talked about some of the goals that you set for yourself, but what changes or what things are happening in your business in the coming months?
Sarah: Well, my focus really is to be able to have a repeatable service so that e-commerce companies can come to me and I can write their email sequences. But it’s something that I’ve done on and off with projects here and there, but I need to kind of clarify the service so that is a repeatable thing. And so that’s what I’m working on over the next few months is to really hone in on this service so that I can make it repeatable, and once it’s repeatable, it’s easier. There’s no questions or there’s no fumbling around of how I do this and how I do that. It’s a structure that I can repeat over and over again.
So that’s kind of like how I see the foundation of my business over the next few months to the next year. But also I would like to embrace more of my creativity as well and have more conversations. And I know this is something that I’ve talked to you guys about is the potential of actually having my own podcast for the change makers in the e-commerce world who are really creating products that are helping the planet and really either helping the planet or helping people with their health and things like that, either vegan products and things, that talking to them about why they do what they do, and how they have then gone on to create a product that sells, the process that they’ve gone through from idea to getting out there and then marketing and things like that, but also to understand why they do that, the passion behind the why they do what they do.
That’s still like an idea in fruition at the moment and that’s maybe coming out some point next year. I’m having conversations with people at the moment to see if this is something that it was my jam or not, because that’s one of the things is like, with anything with copy is testing isn’t it? You have to test what works. And so that’s my process over the next few months is testing, having conversations with people and seeing whether that is something that is needed or wanted. But I feel like that is I’m really, really passionate about this kind of space of universal kindness. And even if it’s like talking to someone who owns a company that makes packaging that is biodegradable, that kind of thing and bringing that more to the forefront of people’s consciousness really so that people can understand they can buy products that are actually helping the planet, helping themselves, helping other people and just making that more accessible to people, I think.
Kira: Sarah, you probably have heard us ask this question before. What does the future of copywriting look like to you?
Sarah: The future of copywriting. I feel it’s more going to be about breaking down barriers because I’m the big, big fan of Instagram. I love scrolling through Instagram when I have the time, usually at night before I go to bed but I love seeing stories from people and seeing what they’re doing in their business and I feel like there’s an opportunity for copywriters and for marketers to be able to break down those walls and it’s a little bit like, I’ll bring it back to acting again is that whole idea of this kind of effect, movie effect of being able to step into the movie. You feel what that character is going through and you feel emotional and a movie can make you cry, it can make you laugh and everything. And I feel that there’s a bigger opportunity for copywriting to be able to break those barriers down and be more engaging, more vulnerable. Dare I say it, I’m using air quotes, more authentic but actually sharing more of what’s behind the scenes and why if we’re talking about e-commerce companies and copywriting for e-commerce companies, why they are doing what they’re doing and using that kind of philosophy behind the strategy of copy to break down those walls and share more and be more vulnerable, I think.
Rob: Sarah, this has been a crazy awesome interview. You’ve shared a ton of wisdom and some really, really good ideas that maybe others can follow. If people want to connect with you, speaking of human connections and forging those kinds of relationships, where should they go?
Sarah: Go to my website. My website is sarahhenson.co.uk. And you can get on my email list and listen to, well read about what I’m getting out to if I’m copywriting but also in the space of universal kindness, I share a lot about that. And I have a download of what’s working in e-commerce emails as well. So if anyone’s listening who’s in e-commerce and wants to know what lots of testing has resulted in over the last six months of a company that has a huge list, I’m going to be sharing that in one of my downloads so they can go there, sarahhenson.co.uk.
Kira: Thank you, Sarah.
Sarah: Thank you very 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 and full transcript and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.
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