Jenn Prochaska is our guest on the 307th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Jenn is a copywriter who specializes in message strategy and websites. This episode is truly an inspiring journey as we hear how Jenn has navigated her way through addiction, motherhood, and scaling a thriving business. This episode will leave you with wisdom, practical business advice, and even a email marketing strategy…
Here’s how the episode goes:
- Jenn’s 25 year background in sales and marketing and why she went from LA back to Cleveland.
- The journey to getting sober and realizing the “cushy” job didn’t bring happiness.
- Going back to school to get a Masters in creative writing and rediscovering old passions.
- Making big changes in adulthood and investing in yourself.
- Working for agencies, being a lead copywriter, and diving into freelance copywriting.
- How tires helped her learn about educating an audience, urging them to care, and how to incorporate benefits.
- Why is addiction misunderstood?
- Doing better vs. doing different – is there a difference?
- Jenn’s systems and processes to make hard decisions and being a successful integrator.
- Being a good parent vs being a good business owner?
- The aha advice Jenn got from Rob about writing expectations.
- Getting permission to shut Shirley up (who the heck is Shirley?)
- Mapping out workflows and finding holes in your process.
- How Jenn created her unique framework and niched her business.
- How Jenn’s support, community, and mentors have helped silence her limiting beliefs and strengthened her mindset.
- Jenn’s morning routine as a parent and business owner.
- Communication and boundaries – and how it helps Jenn become a better entrepreneur.
- The power of the Think Tank community.
- Jenn’s FORTY-week drip sequence? How did she do it?
Tune into the episode by hitting play or reading the transcript below.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Rob Marsh: Life is messy. Sometimes life is really messy. And it can take a while, sometimes even years or decades to figure things out. And as we’ve interviewed copywriters on this podcast, many of them have described long winding, sometimes really messy pathways that they followed to get to where they are today.
Today’s guest on the Copywriter Club podcast has a path like that. Jenn Prochaska shared how she went from LA’s music scene to a somewhat more sedate and fulfilling role as a mom copywriter and brand strategist, and how it took more than a decade to figure it all out. We talked about a lot of things in this episode. Everything from addiction to creating and scaling a business that fits the life you want to mindset and a lot more. We think you’re going to like it.
You’re also going to hear a lot of voices in this episode. That’s because Kira interviewed Jenn while I was on vacation. And invited copywriter, Erin Pennings, to join her to ask questions. So, you’re going to hear Erin, you’re going to hear Kira. And now as we’re recording a few additional comments to go along with this interview, Kira’s on vacation and I’ve invited copywriter, Juliet Peay, to join me to share her thoughts. Juliet, thanks for your help. Welcome to the podcast.
Juliet Peay: Thank you so much for having me. I’m glad to jump in and hope Kira is having a blast. She deserves it.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. She definitely deserves it. I mean, we should all take more vacation, I think. So, this is fun. Before we get to our interview with Jenn, we just want to make you aware of a new copywriting business training available from the Copywriter Club and Jamie Jensen. We mentioned this a week or two ago on the podcast.
The first program that we are presenting from Jamie is called Create Your Six-Figure Copywriting Business. And if you’re tempted to join the copywriter accelerator, but you held off because maybe the timing wasn’t right or something else got in the way, this might be a fit for you. So, check it out at thecopywriterclub.com/learn, and that will take you directly to that page.
Juliet Peay: Okay. Let’s get into the interview with Jenn Prochaska.
Jenn Prochaska: So, I have been in sales and marketing, traditional sales and marketing for 25 years, which if you do the math, I was here before Google. I was here shortly after Yahoo. There was still AOL. And I worked in the music business out in Los Angeles for about four years after school, after college. And came back to Cleveland. Stayed in the music business, doing a variety of things.
And then ended up as an account manager for a digital marketing agency and had a really great experience. Learned so much about websites and the online world and all of that good stuff. And then in 2006, I got sober. And I’ll go into a little bit more detail here. So, I had to call, as part of my 12-step recovery, I had to call somebody every day. So, I would call on the way home from work.
And about six months in, she’s like, “All you do is complain about your job. Is this really what you want to be doing?” And it was like, silence. Oh, I didn’t realize that I was doing that. And because I was making really good money. I had big-name, NFL, NHL clients, all that good stuff. And I was like, “Oh, I’m not sure.”
Meanwhile, I had another conversation with somebody on a Saturday afternoon as I’m sitting in my apartment. And I’m like, “I don’t know what to do. I’m really bored.” I didn’t have any hobbies. All I did was work and drink. And she was like, “Well, what do you like to do?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. Drink.” And she’s like, “Okay. Well, now that you’re not drinking, why don’t you make a list?” And at the very top of that list was writing and reading. And I was like, “You know what? I really liked that.”
So, through a process of about a year, I took a creative writing course at a community college and fell in love with that. Did some soul-searching, did some research. And about a year later, I quit my well-to-do job. And I went back to get a degree in creative writing, much to my mother’s dismay. She was like, “You’re going to what?” I mean, because I’m 32 years old at this point. And I was like, “I’m going to be a writer.” And she was like, “Oh, oh, oh, okay, okay.”
And I did, and it was great. And I got my master’s in creative writing, which doesn’t mean much except that I got to leave the world for a little while and explore something that I had gotten away from. When I got out of school, I had to earn a living. And I discovered copywriting and content writing and all that.
So, I got hooked up with a personal agency, The Creative Group. I think they’re owned by Robert Half International now. It’s a temporary agency that hires creative people and then places them in various places. So, I worked at the Cleveland clinic and got some fantastic experience there. Great marketing group of people. And then got hired in-house as a copywriter team lead. Worked in-house for a little while. Well, for a long while, actually. Six, seven years writing about tires, which is actually a lot more fun than that sounds.
And I went to a shopper marketing agency for a little bit. And they fired me because it was a super toxic environment. That’s a long story short. We’ll leave it at that. And I was three months pregnant. And I said to my husband, I was like, “I’ve been wanting to do this freelance writing thing.” And I think the universe just gave me a huge shove out the door to try it. And he fully supported that.
I found this podcast by a group called The Copywriter Club. And then I found the Facebook group called The Copywriter Club and truly, TCC kicked off my freelance career four years ago. I knew how to write. And I knew some, obviously, and I knew some best practices, and I had all this marketing and sales experience, but I didn’t know things like conversion copywriting existed. I was executing on that, not knowing. I didn’t know that you could be a launch copywriter or all these different kinds of writers.
And so, as opportunities would come, I would sell myself. “Hey, do you do this kind of writing?” “Yes, yes, I do.” And then I would come to the Facebook group and I would say, “Oh my god, I just sold this. I don’t know how to do this.” And your community would, and this is a free Facebook group. And your community would give me direction, and it snowballed. And here I am today. That’s a super long story, but that’s how I got to where I am today.
Erin Pennings: There’s so much that you say that I can relate to. So, I want to know more about writing about tires. Of all the amazing things that you just dropped, I have questions about writing about tires and what that looked like. And I mean, it’s an important stepping stone in getting you to this point.
Jenn Prochaska: I love that that’s what you pulled out of that entire story. I love that. This is amazing. It’s awesome. So, I wrote for a fantastic company called Dealer Tire, and they sell tires solely through the dealer chain. That’s their market; that’s their niche. They support dealers.
What I loved about writing about them is that, first of all, the general population, they don’t know about tires. I didn’t know about tires. I had no idea. They don’t care either and they’re ridiculously expensive. So, to be able to educate people on one, why you need to care. Two, why they’re so expensive and the benefit to you. We talk a lot in copywriting about features and benefits. I mean, this was really benefits oriented, and then why you should go to your dealer to get them on.
And there’s such a commodity, but yet once you get into it and once you learn about the product and the safety of it all, I mean, there are things that I do now. I’ve changed out a winter tire. I’m in Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve never changed out my tires until I worked at this company. Especially after I had my first child while working there, I was like, oh, I need winter tires because now I know.
Kira Hug: Okay. Now I need winter tires. Because I’m moving to Maine.
Jenn Prochaska: Yes, you do. They make a difference. They’re softer. They make a difference.
Kira Hug: You’ll be my go-to resource for this. You mentioned how your recovery process was a big part of you leaning into your life as a writer. I’m just curious to hear kind of what led you to seek help and get to the point of saying, “I’m ready for the recovery point,”, especially for any listeners who may be struggling as well or may have a friend or family member who’s struggling.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. I could talk about this all day. The reason why I left Los Angeles, I left in December of 2001, was because September 11th happened. And I was in the throes of my primary addiction. If I had to pick one, which is food. And I’m in recovery from an eating disorder; I’m recovering bulimic and a compulsive overeater. And food addiction is very misunderstood but suffices to say; you can’t stop when you’re eating. And I couldn’t. I was 70 pounds heavier than I am today. I was suicidal.
And on top of that, September 11th happened. And I didn’t have the faculties. I didn’t have the skills to process any of this, and I’m 3,000 miles away from my family, which is here in Ohio. So, I literally packed everything up and moved back home to Cleveland. I found recovery for my food addiction in a 12-step program. I didn’t know anything about them until then.
My drinking was still a problem, but my thought process was, well, I drink because I’m fat. So, really the problem is that I’m fat. And it wasn’t just being overweight. This is not a fact-shaming thing. This isn’t even a health thing for me, it was my life. Being overweight and eating the way that I was eating and binging. And then occasionally, at this point, it was occasionally purging was preventing me from living any kind of a productive life.
Although on the outside, I had the job, I had the car, I was making good money. But on the inside, I felt horrible. Five years into my recovery from food, again, I thought as soon as I lose the weight, I won’t drink like I’m drinking because I won’t need to anymore. Only the opposite happened.
I had a great job. Again, I was making great money. I was living on my own. I was the party girl. I was a fun drunk. People would tell me that. They’re like, “You’re great to hang out. You’re super fun.” No matter what happened during that day, at the party, at the friend’s house, I could have had a fantastic time. I could have been crowned queen. I would go home and I would feel so bad about myself that I wanted to kill myself. Nothing was ever good enough. I certainly made some decisions in my life that were not in line with the values of who I am.
And I didn’t want to live that way anymore. I did not want to give up alcohol at all, but I did not want to live the way that I was living. So, I went to the 12-step group and I made it very clear that I was not happy to be there. And they were like, “That’s okay.” And I found a group of women who are still my support 15 years later on November 30th, 2006 is my sobriety date.
And I would say the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. It doesn’t matter how much you drink it. I wasn’t a daily drinker. It doesn’t matter what you drink. It doesn’t matter how you act when you drink. All that matters is when you drink or drug or eat, can you stop or moderate when you want to? If you can’t, potentially, it’s an addiction. So, I would just encourage people’s mental health. Luckily today, in 2022, it is a huge conversation topic. And it’s open, not as open as I think we can get to, but addiction is still very much misunderstood.
So, I would encourage people if they feel like… and people have come to me in all of my areas of life, which is my favorite gift. When someone says, “Hey, I want to talk to you about this.” Conversations are always confidential. And it’s like, I just go into a completely different zone because this is life. This is life or death.
So, we can’t control it. We can’t cure it. We didn’t cause it, but we can be in recovery. And I’m here to tell you that at 32 or 31 when I got sober, life changed. And to say all my dreams came true was kind of cliché and Disney magic, but truly, I can say that.
Kira Hug: Okay. So, two questions as a follow-up. So, you said addiction is misunderstood. I just would love to hear a little bit more about what’s misunderstood about it and if you can speak to that. And then you just mentioned how your life changed. I can’t help but wonder, can you just share an example of that? Because it does sound so transformative. And so, I’d love to make that more real for us listening.
Jenn Prochaska: So, I think food addiction is more misunderstood than alcohol and drug addiction. And my disclaimer is that because I’m in 12-step, I believe wholeheartedly in the disease model, which says that it is as much physical as it is mental.
So, I’m wired to be an addict. Oh, I could get on my soapbox about food addiction. Some ingredients, even though they have been proven to be addictive, remain heavily used in several foods. Sugar is in everything or a lot of things. You really have to. And white sugar is addictive, white flour. Well, flour is addictive. Some tests show that cheese can be addictive.
The point is that all I know is that for me when I ingest certain things, I can’t stop eating. I can’t stay on a diet for very long. Alcohol addiction, I think it’s a little bit more understood. The courts send people the 12-step groups. Doctors and psychologists will refer you to 12-step groups.
And by no means is the 12-step group the only answer or the only solution. I know several people who’ve gotten sober through their churches or through other programs. I don’t think it matters how you do it. This just worked for me. I think it’s misunderstood in that we think we can prevent it or that somehow the person who is addicted is doing this to people. And when somebody eats cancer, you don’t say, “Well, if you really wanted to shrink the tumor, you would. But I think you’re being selfish and you’re not.”
But when somebody’s an addict, that’s essentially what people say to them. And that’s pervasive in all areas of society. And I don’t have answers for all the problems. I don’t have solutions for all the problems. But I can tell you that in my experience when people believe that we’re just wired this way and that only a spiritual solution can keep me from doing what I’m naturally created to do, that works. So, an example. Oh, my goodness. There are so many different examples in my life today. So, along with food addiction, certainly comes body image. And I know a lot of people have body image issues or whatever, and they don’t have to be addicts to have that, certainly. But I don’t know this is what’s coming to me. So, I guess this is what I’ll share.
At one point, my daughter, who is now eight, was probably five at the time. She had a birthday party and it was a swim party. And I went with her and I have, at the time, would’ve been an infant. And I got in the pool with her. I brought my bathing suit, and I went in with the kids. Do you know that I was the only mother in her bathing suit in the pool? The rest were all men.
None of them by the way were built like Hercules. They were normal looking men. All the moms were standing there, fully clothed, outside of the pool. And my daughter looked at me, she’s always been very aware and she said, “Mom, you’re the only mom in the pool.” And I went, “Yes, yes, I am. And aren’t we having fun?” I think that’s a problem. I think it’s a problem that, for some reason, these women did not feel comfortable enough to put a bathing suit on and go swimming with their children at a party.
Prior to my recovery, I would’ve been standing next to them. And I would’ve been looking at all the bodies and I would’ve been comparing and contrasting and it doesn’t matter what I look like. I would’ve come out losing. Now, I’m like, “You know what? I’m not even thinking about my body. Let’s go swimming.” That’s an example on that end.
Drinking wise, I mean, my whole life changed because my social life changed certainly. And there’s so much that is taught in recovery. Perfect example, I came in with all these arguments because that’s how I’m built too. Well, what about this and what about that? What about this? And those who had been sober for decades longer than I had been were like, “That’s great. How’s that working out for you? You’re right. Okay, Jenn, you’re right. How is that working for you?”
So, fast-forward to a year ago, my business, my writing business was booming with clients and I was miserable. I couldn’t get everything done. I was not a nice person. I was not a nice mom. Everything was chaotic. And I kept thinking, “Well, I just need to do this and I just need to do that and I just need to do this. And I know the answers.”
And what came back to me when I would take time to meditate about this was, “That’s great, Jenn. How’s that working out for you? If nothing changes, nothing changes. You have to do something different.” And that’s when the Think Tank came into my consciousness as a possible solution.
So, all my knowledge doing the same things over and over again wasn’t building my business. I needed to ask for help even though, quite frankly, I wasn’t at all sure that you all would be able to give it to me because I thought that I knew everything. And here I am to say that I was wrong; happily.
Erin Pennings: So, I have a follow-up question and it ties into several things that you’ve just said. Not being a nice mom is something that I think resonates. So many of us feel like we are torn between being a good parent or being good in our business. And so, when we were on stage together at TCCIRL this year, you sat up and you talked about an experience you had when your daughter was on the bus. Can we dive into that story at all?
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah.
Erin Pennings: Cool.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah, absolutely. I might cry because I cry pretty easily, and these are topics that are near and dear to my heart. So, yeah, part of the reason why I wanted to be on my own was to have the flexibility to be there for my kids more.
So, I had all this business coming in. And my business, The Write Difference, had its highest grossing year in four years today. My take-home pay, FYI, was the lowest that it had been in four years, which shows you that I was in project management mode and I’m an awful project manager and I hate it. And I was working day and night and I just kept thinking, just one more night, I’ll finish this project and then I’ll be okay. I’ll never have to do this again. Just one more night. “Kids go over there and play. Mommy needs to work. This is just one more project. And then I’ll stop and then I’ll play with you.”
And that went on for a really long time. And again, my now eight-year-old was not happy with me at all. And I noticed one morning when I got her … Because I went into blinders mode. I’m type A as it is. So, you put type A and blinders and it’s not a pretty sight. And I just kept thinking there was going to be this end. Just like with my drinking. “Well, this is the last time I get hammered and make an ass out of myself. The next time I’ll be different. The next time I’ll have wine instead of beer.” Same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
As I put my daughter on the bus, she wasn’t waving goodbye to me anymore. And when I realized that, I was like, “Oh, my god, she’s not waving to me.” When I got into the Think Tank, my very first meeting Rob and Kira asked me, “So, where are you in your business?” And I talked about it. “Where are you in your lifestyle?” And that’s when I was like, oh. I mean, I’m not swearing at my kids. I’m not beating. It’s nothing dramatic, but I wasn’t being kind. I was ordering them around because all I wanted was for them to go to bed so I could get work done, just one last time, every day, all day, weekends.
And after that phone call, the very first phone call. After that phone call, I can remember just sitting here with this big relief. And I was like, “You know what? I don’t know what I have to do tonight, but it doesn’t matter. I’m going to play with my kids.” And then the next night, the temptation to work and I was like, “I’m just going to play with my kids, even if I go out of business.” Because that’s the fear. I’m going to go out of business. Well, whatever.
And after a few weeks of working with Think Tank and working with all you guys, I put my daughter on a bus and she waved goodbye to me. And I was like, “That’s what it’s all about.” And then she started this thing where she would wave me until she absolutely couldn’t see me anymore. And I was like, “That is worth more than $10,000 a month than …” And I’m here to tell you that now that you can have both. I don’t have to choose one or the other. But at the time, what I was doing wasn’t working.
Kira Hug: Oh, okay. I can relate to that. And it sneaks up, too. At least for me, it’s like I can get out of it and start playing and getting back into that mode and improve those relationships, but then I get sucked back. So, I guess my question is, what changed for you? Was it just that the motivation was so high to make that change after that call that you were able to just start creating, rewiring and creating some new habits where you were focused on them in the evenings or what shifted for you? Because it’s a hard shift when you feel that anxiety and it feels like the business will fail if you don’t do it.
Jenn Prochaska: It’s so interesting. And the Think Tank for me has been so much recovery. There’s so many parallels. I had hope. I had hope after that phone call. First of all, on that call, you said to me, you were like, “So, it sounds like brand strategy is what you really would like to do.” And I had this reaction. The same reaction that I had 15 years ago when someone was like, “It doesn’t sound like you like your job. Are you sure this is what you want to do?” It’s that moment of clarity.
And I was like, first of all, I could do that. I could just focus on brand strategy. The other thing is that I listed off all my clients and both of you guys were like, “That’s too many. You have too many.” And you kind of know that, but you guys are writers. So, for you to be able to– I just kept saying to myself, “Jenn, you got to do better. Jenn, you got to do better. Jenn, you got to do better.” Not true. Jenn has to do different. Jenn has to do different.
So, after I got off the call, I had hope. I was like, I don’t know how this is going to go, but these people they’re going to help me. They’re doing it. They’re achieving it. Maybe not 100% of the time. I mean, there’s still sometimes when I say mommy has to work. But I play with them first.
And that comes from Tiffany, you guys had on talking about she homeschooled. And she talked about homeschooling on the podcast and I messaged her some of what was happening at home. And she was like, “Play with them first.” It such a simple, oh, because once I play with them and they’re by priority anyway, once I play with them, then they’re okay to do something on their own. But otherwise, they’re constantly like, because I’m not giving them any attention, and they’re only home for two or three hours then. So anyway, in the evening, again, small shifts.
So, no, I guess my attitude changed immediately because I realized in talking to somebody else what was happening, I didn’t know that this was happening. I was just in mode. And then when because you guys said, “Well, what do you really want to do?” And that’s when I was like, “Oh my god, I want to devote some time to my kids.” It was almost like admitting it to yourself like, “Oh, this is a problem. This is a problem. But there’s a solution. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I’m just going to do what I’m told.”
Erin Pennings: So, when you’re sitting at home that night and the first thing you did was spend time with your kids in your personal life. What was the first thing you did in your business to start angling towards that?
Jenn Prochaska: Great question. I wrote out my clients in how much revenue they were bringing in every month because Rob and Kira were like, “We think you need to let go from some of your clients.” I built my business on agency work. I have some agency experience and I know several people who’ve left their jobs and started their own agencies.
So, I have a very good friend and mentor who owns an agency and he taught me so much about branding and brand strategy. I reached out to him immediately and he had worked for me. But what was happening was his business was growing as well. And he really needed somebody who could devote more time to it.
And when you work, when you’re a couple of links down in the contracting chain, you’re like the subcontractor of the subcontractor. The opportunity to make money at the margins and at the level that you can with a draft client just isn’t there. And agencies move fast. I mean, you guys know, you got to turn that stuff around in 24 hours, 48 hours. And it can be a great experience for sure.
But anyway, I wrote out my clients and how much money they were bringing in and what type of projects they were bringing in. And then I looked at them critically. And I could say, “Okay, is this someone that I can let go? Is this someone I can keep? But maybe I need to bump my rates. Is this work that I like, how about that? Do I enjoy this work?” Oh, what a question to ask yourself. And then, I was able to review some of that with you guys again and to make some very hard decisions and some hard calls.
Erin Pennings: I think you also spent, after you made some of those hard calls, you spent a lot of time diving into your process too.
Jenn Prochaska: I did.
Erin Pennings: I learned a lot from you this year in the process. Can you talk about what that looked like?
Jenn Prochaska: That is so ironic. Yeah. I have had enough of that. They say you’re either a visionary or an integrator. And the visionaries are the dreamers and the creative. The integrators are the systems people and process people. And I have enough integrators in me to know that I need these processes.
And so we did a red, yellow, green exercise at one of the Think Tank virtual retreats. And it confirmed what I suspected, which was the area that’s really holding me up on my processes. I had no idea what was due when because I was keeping it in my head. I had no idea what’s my capacity was. People would say, “Can you do this?” And I’d say, “Uh-huh.” And then, that’s why I ended up working so much because I didn’t know if I could do it. Maybe I could have done it next week and not this week. I don’t know.
So, I started building some of that out. I used ClickUp, and I started really getting the ClickUp. And I started, I’m a Full Focus Planner user, Michael Hyatt’s productivity system. I really started time blocking to notice, okay, in my head, I think I can write four blog articles today. That’s not going to happen. I’m telling you that maybe two articles, hardcore focus, maybe two, but that’s my capacity.
And even that, my brain, my inner critic is very loud. My brain was like, “Well, that’s not enough.” And then I would bring it back to you guys in the Think Tank. And I think it’s Rob who said Stephen King, the best of the best only writes four hours a day. And I was like, “Oh, my god.” It gives you permission.
When I joined the Think Tank, I did not think that I needed the community. I was like, I know a lot of people. I was so wrong. I didn’t think I needed the mindset. I was so wrong. For you guys to be able to say, “Listen, I’m good to write for three hours a day in the morning.” Some people may write in the afternoon.
So, yeah, so, I looked at my processes and I started mapping out my workflows and how I wanted things to work, and where’s my customer experience, and where were the holes? And what that did at the same time, I was looking at my pricing and I was looking at the types of clients I wanted, because all of that all fits together. And it was so much fun and it was great. And every step of the way, when I’d hit a snag, I’d reach out to the group and somebody would get more than one person would give me their feedback and then I could incorporate it. Take what I liked and let the rest.
Rob Marsh: All right, Juliet. So, let’s just break in here and talk about a couple of things that maybe stand out to you, stand out to me. There’s definitely a lot of stuff that we can touch on here. The thing that first stood out to me or was maybe the biggest like, oh, that was brilliant, is when Jenn shared the thought, when she said, “If you don’t do something different, nothing changes.”
And sometimes, that involves asking for help. Sometimes that involves changing up clients that you’re working with. Maybe it’s even the city that you’re living in, relationships. If you don’t do something different, nothing changes. And I like how Jenn has approached that in her business by making some pretty substantial changes and realizing that she can create the business that she wants. But in order to do that, she had to change some pretty big things.
Juliet Peay: Yes. That really stuck out to me, too, about not just doing better but doing something differently. Because we already put so much pressure on ourselves to improve, improve, improve. And I know that Jenn is a strong high achiever and she’s incredible. But you see through her story that she has even had moments where she’s just like, “Okay, I have a great job, but something isn’t right. Now, I have a business and it’s scaling, but I’m missing out on time with my kids.” It’s not always about being perfect or being better. It’s just finding those things that need to just shift a little bit.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I think we see this a lot when we’re talking with copywriters, particularly in the Think Tank. But in all of the programs that we’ve worked in, is that oftentimes we’re thinking, okay, if I want to make more money, I need to do more of the same or I need to do bigger of the same. And oftentimes, that’s not the answer. In fact, most of the time, that’s not the answer. It’s not, “Hey, I’ve got to spend more time working on my mindset. Maybe I’ve got to do something different when I’m taking an approach to my mindset or I don’t need bigger improved processes. Maybe I need an entirely different process or a different product or a different client.”
So, all of those things, it’s just really smart in a way to take a step back. Sometimes it can help to have a coach or a mentor or do this with you, but take a step back from your business and take a look at all of the things that are going on. Kind of what Jenn described doing in her business and saying, “Oh yeah, I don’t need these many clients or I don’t need to only focus on copy. I can focus on brand strategy.” And having somebody reflect that back to you can be really helpful.
Juliet Peay: And I think we miss out on how much permission we have to just make those decisions. I know at TCCIRL, which we talk about a little bit, Jenn talks about is just the reminder that this is our business. We can figure out how we want to do it. And we’re in a sales marketing world. So, every single program out there is going to say, “You need more of this to achieve. You need more of this to achieve. You need more of this to achieve.”
And I think we look at what other people are doing. And sometimes, it takes a moment to, like you said, step back. And like Jenn said, just, okay, what do I want? And I love how her friend challenged her and was like, “All I do is complain.” And she’s like, “Oh yeah, maybe I could do something different.” We forget that we have more power and more control than we give ourselves credit for.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I think that’s really wise to see that because we do. We get tunnel vision. And we start doing the thing and we do the thing the way the thing is done. And we forget that we can create this business anyway we want. So, what else stood out to you, Juliet? As you’re listening to Jenn talk about her business and all the stuff that she’s gone through, what jumped out to you?
Juliet Peay: One thing that jumped out to me a lot was the community and just the voices around you have such a strong effect on the decisions that we make, even when she was talking about writing for tires. And she decided to get better tires because she was just in that world. She was influenced in that way. So, I think choosing those communities that we put ourselves in are really crucial to our success and our mental health and just making sure that we choose the right people to be around because they influence us. They speak into our lives.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Obviously, we’ve talked a lot about that on the podcast over the last 300+ episodes, having a community. I’m curious Juliet, because you’ve done this in your own business too. How do you find that community for you? Because there are so many choices. There are so many focuses. Some of them are good fits. Some of them are not good fits. How do you select the communities that work for you?
Juliet Peay: For me, I think it’s knowing somewhere where I am getting resourceful support. So, especially I know Jenn and I both came to the Think Tank because we were first in The Copywriter Club, the big Facebook group. And that’s of course, kind of how everyone ends up in the Think Tank. No one finds it on Accent.
But being somewhere where people are willing to give back and give to each other, any community that is hazing or has some type of secret society vibe or something that’s just not helpful probably isn’t the best community for people to be in.
But when you can tell on the ground floor in those bigger pools, because there’s a million Facebook groups that have 20,000 people in them, but ones where there’s just a good culture, there’s a good respect for one another and people that are really there to be helpful and be helped, you give and take. But I think that that really sets things apart based on, I guess, what you see on the surface level is what you’re going to get as you go deeper and deeper in. So, if you want to get in really deep, make sure that you’re in the right place.
Yeah. I like that. I would add to that, too. Look for people who are building the thing that you want to build or who have built the thing. As I look at the mentors that Kira and I have chosen as we’ve built this, The Copywriter Club together, people like Joanna Wiebe and Brian Kurtz and Todd Brown, they’re doing a lot of things that we think, “Hey, we could do something similar, different, but similar. Or we could use their expertise to help us to get from where we are to where we want to go. They’re going to be the kinds of people who can reflect back to us what we’re doing wrong, what we should be doing different.”
Rob Marsh: Just like what Jenn was talking about earlier about doing not more of the same, but doing something different, not doing better necessarily, but choosing a different path and having somebody who can reflect that back has been really helpful for us.
Juliet Peay: Absolutely. I totally agree with that. Yeah. Definitely finding people that are just a little bit farther ahead of you. I think sometimes we get a little starstruck from people who run huge companies and we think how are we going to get that far?
And it’s kind of like when you see, this is a weird example, but the fitness models on Instagram, who it’s their job and they’ve been doing it for 10 years and we think, “Okay, if I buy a vitamin, I’m going to look just like that.” And it’s kind of like, “No, if you find someone who’s just a couple steps ahead of you and try to get in their arena because those will be the most useful to actually help you with the problems that you have now.”
That’s actually part of my background. When I got out of college, I talked to a bunch of CEOs of marketing agencies and all their advice was like, failure is part of the journey. And I’m like, okay, that’s not telling me. It’s true, but it’s a little too high level to be tactical and implementable from the stage I was in. And so, I love that about all the communities that I’ve been a part of. And The Copywriter Club is, you’re in great company.
Rob Marsh: I can’t wait to bring you back on to the podcast as a guest because we should definitely go way deeper into the failure as part of the process. Yes, no, that would be an interesting discussion. So, one other thing that I just want to point out that I pulled from what Jenn was sharing, is the idea of where she talked about getting sober, addiction. She talked about body image, addictive ingredients. I think this is a really important discussion to have.
And I’m approaching that from a point where I’ve never had an alcohol addiction, that kind of thing, but there are also all kinds of things that we’ve become addicted to. I do think I have a sugar addiction. I’ll flat out admit that, which is why I go through periods where I don’t eat any sugar because, yeah, I just like, Jenn describes, it’s like I start eating sugar and I just can’t stop. I know that’s probably a story inside my head, but for whatever reason.
But there are other things too, like hustle culture and bad business practices or feeling like that we’ve got to show up for our clients at all times of the day or provide extra value. Those are addictive behaviors too.
And so, I think being able to take a step back and say, “Okay, what parts of my life, whether it’s something I’m consuming internally or something that I’m doing are supporting me, helping me to grow, helping me to be better.” And I just appreciate Jenn raising this issue for us to think about. I know her addictions are maybe more substance based, but we all have the potential for addictions to almost anything.
Juliet Peay: I love that Jenn invited us so much into her story. And it really just goes to show that you don’t know people until they tell you who they are. And I’ve seen Jenn post the Think Tank about healthy eating and stuff. And I just thought like, “Oh, she’s probably always been super into that or whatever,” but hearing her story, it’s a little shocking. You don’t realize how much depth someone has until they invite you into that. And so, I really love that she was vulnerable in sharing that with so many people because that 100% might be that breakthrough for somebody else.
And the way that she just talked about it as just different… I mean, it’s coping, it’s coping. We have different anxiety, and I think it was interesting to hear her go from coping with life through addiction in different areas. And then sometimes I think as entrepreneurs, our business becomes our own coping because we know we’re doing good at it. We’re getting money. There’s so much I feel like every time an invoice is paid, it’s that instant gratification of, “I’m not terrible.”
And if you don’t get that, especially in the corporate world, if you’re never told that you’re good at anything, and then you start writing and everyone’s amazed, you can become addicted to your business. And I think that’s a little bit of what Jenn spoke too, as well in having that anxiety of is the work going to get done? Are the client still going to respect me?
And I know she talks later in the episode about the mindset to be flexible all the time. But then when you look at what else you’re missing out on life because you’re addicted to your business, then you question if your business is worth it. So, she gave us so much and, I think, walked us through just such a beautiful story and a beautiful journey.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I agree. And we saw how that reflected on her relationships with her kids too, which is, I mean, heart-wrenching in a way, but also knowing that you can get through that. You can address it and have those things turn out okay.
Juliet Peay: Yeah. Absolutely. Because I think we go into freelancing or in growing a business because we want more time with our kids or we want more time to go on vacation. And then we go in a year later and then we’re like, “Wait, do I have the life that I want?” It’s the 9:00 to 5:00 to 24/7. And I think we’re always like, “No, that’s not going to be me. I’m going to make six figures and I’m going to be sitting pretty.” And then reality hits and Jenn talks about later is your kid’s not waving to you anymore. And you’re like, “Wait, what happened? This was not what I intended at all.”
Rob Marsh: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Really good to point that out. Anything else that stood out to you, Juliet, from this first half of the episode?
Juliet Peay: Oh man, I could go on forever. I definitely am going to set up a call with Jenn and just, I don’t know, have some girl talk, girl time with her because I just love how much she shared and want to tell her directly how much it meant to me. But I think we have covered quite a lot. Let’s get back into the interview with Jenn to hear more about her brand messaging framework.
Kira Hug: I want to go back to the brand messaging piece and a lot of what we’re talking about is permission. And so, how has your business shifted since you gave yourself permission to lean into messaging? What have you done to lean into that part of your business?
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. Everything is reworked. When you get sober, they often tell you they’re like your whole life and year is going to look completely different. And that’s how I feel about being in the Think Tank and really working, everything is different in such a wonderful way.
This is the metaphor I always use. This is the messy middle, what I love to call the messy middle that I think I might be in forever. I’m just always in the messy middle. Thank god. Because the alternative of where I was headed, I wouldn’t even get to be in the messy middle. The messy middle is a gift.
When you’re organizing a room and you take everything off every shelf and out of every drawer and you’re looking at it holistically, and you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to keep this. I’m going to get rid of this. This is going to go here. If I put a shelving unit here …” Somebody walking by is like, “Wow, Jenn, you made a mess.” And you’re like, “No, no, I didn’t. There is no mess here. I know exactly what is going on.”
And if you stop, you’re in trouble because then you’ll forget what pile is which. But if you just keep going and putting stuff back, it’s wonderful. That was my business. So, yes, while I was doing the operation side, I was also like, I can’t sell brand strategy. Nobody wants to buy it. They want to buy a website. But in order for me to write a website, I need to know the brand strategy.
So, I watched a video that Mel Abrahams did and that you guys supplied and it was all about frameworks. And so, I created this metaphor. And I don’t know if you remember Erin, but the first one was the pirate thing. I had this whole pirate thing because I did an X-Factor workshop. And you guys were like, “Oh my god. It’s like, you’re the brand cartographer and the treasure map and all this stuff.”
And I wrote that out and you guys were so generous with your time and feedback. And I hated it. I was like, “I am not a pirate. This does not work for me.” All I kept picturing was the PAW Patrol episode with the pirates because that’s what we watched day and night, PAW Patrol, but there was something there.
And one night at 10:00 at night, my kids were asleep. So, I played with them, done my thing. I got this inspiration. And I picked up my computer, and in two hours, I had my new framework. And it was the Message Passport. And so, everything became travel. I loved the idea of traveling and the journey to finding your brand development in your voice.
So, in order to travel the world, you need a unique identifying message. You need to be memorable, differentiated, and consistent, just like we do in marketing. So, I took my brand strategy components and I put them in this Message Passport. So that when I talk to people, I have a relevant idea that people already accept as truth because they understand it. And then, I can compare my brand strategy to that. And hopefully, they’ll see the importance and why we have to go through this process and the value in going through this process. So, everything is completely different.
Erin Pennings: And I think the pirate was an interesting portion of the messy middle with you.
Jenn Prochaska: It was, it was and it was fun. And you know what, there’s value in that and I kept going with it because I wanted to shut my inner critic up. And I was like, “I don’t want to quit this because of my inner critic.” I’m always; it’s so hard to write for yourself because I’m blaring, this sucks, as I’m writing for myself. So, I ran it through and it’s a perfectly valid metaphor. If anybody; everything wants to take it. It’s great. It’s just not for me.
Erin Pennings: So, you’ve mentioned your inner critic a couple of times and-
Jenn Prochaska: Her name is Shirley. I’ve named her Shirley.
Erin Pennings: Awesome. Tell me about Shirley and how you’ve learned to recognize when it’s Shirley talking? Because I think that’s the other really hard part for people. Is it my inner critic? Or is this my common sense? Which is it and who do I listen to?
Jenn Prochaska: That is a great question. And I’m not going to have an answer because I’m not sure yet. I’m still learning. But I will tell you that when I take whatever is happening in my head and I ask somebody if I reach out to you and I’m like, “Erin, this is what I’m thinking,” what will come out is usually, but Shirley is saying that. And I name it just so people don’t think I’m weird. I named it Shirley in the movie Airplane because I need to laugh about this. So, life is so serious.
So, every time I say Shirley, my inner critic, I giggle a little bit inside. And I think that lightens the load. I don’t walk around talking to Shirley. People would be like, wow. But when it comes out of me, when I’m talking, when I’m collaborating, or I’ll say, “Hey, this is an idea I have. What do you think?” Usually, that’s my, my inner critic can just go away.
It’s like there’s this saying, what is a problem shared is a problem halved, and we’re only as sick as our secrets. When we keep stuff in our head, things are bigger, better, and bolder than they probably need to be. I mean, that’s where shame comes from. That’s how shame works. We all think we’re the only ones. We all think we’re in certain negative adjectives.
And the truth is, there is not one person on this planet who has thought done, not done, not thought, felt in a way that is truly unique. It just isn’t. And we find that out when we talk. And I think that that’s what the value of a community is when we can bounce these things off each other.
Sometimes I’ll go to Think Tank; we have our Slack channel, sometimes I’ll go to type something and I’ll get my answer as I’m typing. I don’t even need to hit send. I’m just like, “Oh no, no, that’s not good.” That’s not my inner critic talking. That’s actually legitimately not good. Other times I’ll run things by. And I think emotions, I think we need to be in touch with our emotions a little bit more than thought. Sometimes… for me. If I feel good about something, that’s enough for me to shove my inner critic and thoughts.
Kira Hug: Because we’re talking about mindset, what else do you do to continue to work on your mindset and limiting beliefs? What else has worked for you?
Jenn Prochaska: Being honest, open and willing. Honesty actually comes pretty naturally to me. I’ve never been a closed book. I’m pretty open about sharing how I’m feeling, and what I’m thinking. Being open enough to hear other people’s thoughts on all of that is essential and being willing to be uncomfortable for sure. The reason why I didn’t write when I was drinking was because I didn’t think I was good enough to be called a writer. Writers are creative. They’re cool. They’re fun. You are none of those things, Jenn. That’s what was happening to me.
When I could clear the path and be open to something, maybe I am cool and fun and creative. But even saying that there’s like that little voice, yeah, that little voice. I know that little voice is my inner critic, because the universe does not need us to feel bad about ourselves. How can we be of service to others if we feel bad about ourselves?
So, there’s a lot that I do in my recovery. Abstinence is the word that’s used for when you’re free from compulsive eating. So, abstinence and sober, then I quit smoking a while ago too. So, I stay away from my addicted substances one day at a time because they are spiritual programs. There are meditations I read. I have a power greater than myself that I call god.
And so, I recently started journaling again because what I just said that as soon as it comes out, I can see it for what it is. I listen to Linda Perry’s podcast, there’s a plug. I listen to her podcast because she speaks to me. I really enjoy what she has to say.
And I really reach out to you guys to the TCC community, whether it’s the big group, the underground or the Think Tank, or just a couple people, I reach out, not for validation. I don’t need you guys to tell me I’m okay. I know I’m okay. I know I’m worthy. I know I’m loved, all that foundational stuff that has become somewhat cliché, but it’s still necessary. But I can reach out and ask what do you think of this idea? I don’t want to do this. And then they’ll come back and say, “Well, that’s a mindset issue.” Okay. Well, help me work through that. What do I got to do?
Erin Pennings: So, you just mentioned several things that you do with mindset. How do you start your day most days?
Jenn Prochaska: Well, I also work out. Really being physically active is important to me. I am 47 years old and staying in shape after two full-term pregnancies and being 47 is a little bit more challenging than it was when I was 25. So, I try three to four times a week. I wake up and go to 6:15 workout class, come home, shower.
I actually then go right into waking the kids up. My kids need some time to get ready for their day. So, to watch TV or play. They’re eight and three now. I get them ready, get them off to school or camp, depending on the season. I come back and open up my computer. I open up my full-focus planner and look, “Okay, what are my big three for today? What are the three things I need to do?”
I do have a meditation book that I read every day and I’m in an email group with some recovery friends. And we reflect on that. Coffee is the short answer to your question. And then I go into my day. I’ve improved. Focus has been my word for 2022. So, I’ve been using the focus on my computer and shutting things off and really trying to, what are the big three things that I need to get done for today? Let’s start there. I use Brain.FM; excellent tool, thanks to the TCC podcast for just getting me in the zone.
Kira Hug: I don’t know what this question is, but we’ll just see what comes out. So, you said you can have both; these are not your exact words, but you can have your daughter waving to you and a strong relationship and you can also have the 10K plus months in your business. And so, I guess, could you just speak to what you meant by what you can have both and what that looks like for you today? The business success that you’ve had. I guess I just want you to brag a little bit about what you’ve been able to accomplish in your business, too.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. So, by looking at all my clients and seeing which ones were not profitable, I hate to use that term because I loved all my clients. I mean, I’ve been very blessed with some great work, but some are more profitable than others. So, taking on the bigger projects, the projects that I’m good at. So, I don’t niche my industry. I niche my services. I have no desire to niche my industry. I feel like that’s a little bit of hearsay, like blasphemy. But I really enjoy learning new things.
And I think that I can bring those questions, those basic questions to my clients that break through their curse of knowledge and put me in their ideal customer position a lot faster. So, I do my Message Passport, which is brand strategy and websites. The two addendums are parts of my website, copy that I do are SEO and blog articles. I still write some other things for people. But generally speaking, those are my services. And by being able to focus on those kinds of services, I can do them much more efficiently and I can charge a little bit more because I’m more efficient.
I do have one client that I do product descriptions for and I just love them and I love the work so I keep it. Being able to spread out that work, though, it’s so fun. Because when somebody comes to me and they give me a job, I think they’re going to want this tomorrow. But I’ve really started saying I can get to that next week. And I do it just like this your listeners, you can’t tell that I’m clenching my fist. Like, “Oh my god. I just told them next week. Oh, okay, thanks.”
They’re fine with that. There’s an occasional emergency. They just want to know when it’s going to happen and they want it to happen when I say it’s going to. So, doing that has greatly helped my work capacity.
And then it frees me to be with my kids. Every once in a while, though. I mean, new habits are hard. Or if my kids are chilling and watching TV, the temptation for me is to grab my computer and work because I figure, well, they’re watching TV. What I have learned is that they want me to watch TV with them so that we can talk about when Marshall and Skye save the world. So, that’s probable to throw weapons for anybody who might not know.
So, I’m not the master. I certainly wouldn’t teach a masterclass on this, but I had to make the decision of what was really important. And I had to be willing to say, “You know what, maybe I’m not going to hit a 10K month today.” And there were many months I didn’t and I would come to the community and I’m like, “I’m worried about money. I don’t have money coming in. Great. Message Passport’s awesome. I’ve rewritten my website. I’ve rebranded, but I don’t have money coming through.”
I got leads from you guys. I mean, Erin, you sent me a client my way. That has been fantastic. That’s the value of the community. So, yeah, I mean, there’s got to be a boundary somewhere that there just has to be. And I don’t know that I can answer that for anybody else, but for me, it’s a time boundary. When I go to pick up my kids, I’m done working 90% of the time.
Erin Pennings: It sounds to me that communication is really important in managing those boundaries. Can you talk about how you’ve had to change to more than just saying I can’t do this till next week or I can do this next week? What other communication changes have you had to make?
Jenn Prochaska: I don’t know. I don’t know if there are any other ones. I mean, a lot of it was just mindset for me. Just being okay. And Linda has been a great help with this. I mean, I came to her and I was like, “I can’t stick to a boundary to save my life. Why is that?” And she prompted me with some questions and then I discovered why. It’s because I was trying to be flexible. And that’s what I was taught, be flexible, be flexible.
And there’s some value in that. In life, you got to be agile. If plans don’t happen the way you want them to, you got to be flexible. Absolutely. But my brain took that to the degree and let people walk all over me. And a client is never doing this to ruin our lives. I mean, it’s not like they’re like, “Well, you better work morning until night to get it done.” Nobody’s saying. That’s me.
So, I think maybe to answer your question, Erin, it’s the communication with myself. And what am I telling myself before I have to say, “Hey, I have an opening next week or the week after, am I beating myself up afterward? Because then we need to work on that.” No meeting Monday. I started a new no-meeting Mondays. It’s glorious. It’s been like three weeks. It’s all have been! Three weeks. But I look at this and–
Kira Hug: It’s been a great three weeks though, right?
Jenn Prochaska: Yes. You know why? Because I spend Monday getting my week together and I write on Mondays. I’ve never before had time to actually sit down and write. I’m one of those people that want to continue to write. I don’t want to hire a bunch of writers and not write. I want to write. So, I do this. I’ve actually been able to write on Mondays. It’s like working out on Mondays is a great way to start out the week. Otherwise, I feel like I’m constantly trying to catch up.
Kira Hug: Yeah. That’s what I call it, me Monday, me Monday, my Monday. Then my friends are joining me on Mondays to work together. So, then they call it we Monday, but-
Jenn Prochaska: Awesome.
Kira Hug: No meetings involved. And I actually look forward to my Mondays. I have never looked forward to Mondays throughout my career. And for the first time, I’m like, “Oh, it’s going to be fun. I can’t wait for Monday.” So, I’m with you there.
Kira Hug: I guess as we’re talking, I’m wondering, you’re doing so many things well in your business and things, I mean, it’s like this success story, this transformation, what is a struggle today? You’ve been working on so much, but what is still a struggle that you’re working on in your business?
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. Absolutely. So, in rebranding things and I still need to, I just rewrote my new lead magnet. I need to write my welcome sequence. I have a teeny tiny little email audience that I need to re-engage. I have a 40-week drip campaign that sends … My ideal audience is small to medium-sized businesses. Usually I work with the owner of the business, they have been in business for a year or two. They are content marketing tips and writing tips and brand strategy tips. So, it just drips out over 40 weeks. I need to apply my travel theme to all of those.
I also need to get myself on video, which is why arriving here told me in my last coaching call. I had somebody else just tell me that; she’s like, “You really should be on video.” I’m like, “Ha, I’ve heard that before.” My social media account has been stagnant.
So, it’s marketing my own business. And because brand strategy is an uphill battle to sell, it’s really educating. And because I do love working with small businesses. There’s some education that has to happen there. So, my own content marketing is a struggle to get done and still write for my clients. I struggle. I want everything right now. I’m a three. I think any brand… Isn’t that super-ambitious?
Kira Hug: Yes.
Jenn Prochaska: Yes. I’m a three. I’m an impatient three. I want everything. That’s a struggle. I swear to god, and you guys know this more than anybody. As soon as I get a time period where my client work is done and I’m ready to really focus on my business, one of my kids gets sick and I got a kid at home. I mean, my toddler, all winter was on all the Think Tank meetings. Sometimes clothed, sometimes not, because of being sick with various things.
So, yeah. I heard this, I don’t know where, you’re never going to achieve balance, you’re going to achieve harmony. So, I can say that my work-life harmony is there. Sometimes off balance a little bit. So, I struggle with that. And I struggle with the patience and truly believing that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at all times. And that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. I believe those things intellectually and philosophically. But in my business, sometimes I’m like, really, because I wanted this today.
Erin Pennings: I had a question on your drip sequence and I still want to know more about how you develop that. But what you just said triggered this other question. So, I have two for you now as well. And that is, how do you trust the process when you want results right now? How do you take a deep breath and sit back and own into it?
Jenn Prochaska: The answer for me is spiritual. I mean, I believe that there is a power greater than myself. Whether it’s the universe, nature, god, there’s something out there. When I look at the stars that are bigger than me, that’s all I need to know. I believe in the collective.
I’m one spoke in the wheel on this earth, which is reassuring. But at the same time, I’m a spoke on the wheel. I’m here to support, right? My purpose is to be of maximum service and to help others. If I am feeling self-pity or beating myself up, which I do pretty well, although I’m getting better, if I’m in that negative state, I am not of maximum service. How am I modeling healthy living for my children? How am I there for my friends? I have a friend going through something pretty serious for now. I can’t be there for her if I’m wallowing in my own BS.
And I have proof. I have so many instances, I mean, how I got together with my husband. I’m sure you do, too. If everybody thinks about “bad things” that happened in their life. And I’m not talking the truly tragic because I don’t want to, but a job that you didn’t get or a client that turned you down and you really thought that that client was going to be their client. If you look at what happened, what was the ripple effect of that seemingly negative experience, I bet you can find some gifts.
And I had so many experiences like that in my life where what I thought was the best for me, Garth Brooks calls it Unanswered Prayers. Some people call it serendipity, call it fate, whatever it is, where the ripple effect of that seemingly bad thing actually produced some gifts. And everything leads me. Everything in my life, even the stupid stuff that I did with my drinking, the harmful things that I did, everything leads me to this moment right now.
And if I change anything, if I stop for a cup of coffee where I didn’t stop before, like the butterfly effect, everything changes. My kids change. And I don’t want that. And all the lessons learned make me who I am today because of everything that I have gone through. And I mean, I’ve had friends who passed away. I’ve had miscarriages. I mean, we experience life in this life. I can turn around to somebody else who is experiencing that and say, “I’ve been there and you can get through it because I got through it.” I got so far down in my answer that I don’t even remember what your original question was.
Kira Hug: Jenn, can you be my life coach?
Jenn Prochaska: How to trust that we’re right where we’re supposed to be. I mean, I guess ultimately, it’s faith. I can choose to trust that or I can choose not to. When I don’t trust that, my life is a mess. When I trust that, my life is not.
Kira Hug: Erin, did you have another question? I thought you said you had two.
Erin Pennings: I did have another question. And you mentioned that you have a 40-week drip sequence, which is kind of changing the topic drastically now to go back to that. But I want to go back and talk about that because I think a lot of people have a hard time figuring out what to say to their email audience and how to nurture people. So, can you speak to how you developed that and how you chose what was going into it?
Jenn Prochaska: Yes. I took my brand strategy, ultimately, my process and I broke it down into bite-sized chunks. So, I am a very firm believer that you have to start really, really broad. So, brand essence, what us old school branders call this, or my guiding force. That’s what I’m calling it in my reframe or north star, whatever you want to call it. It’s super broad. For me personally, it’s empowerment. So, you got to start there.
Jenn Prochaska: And then from there, I can talk about, well, what value do I bring to my clients? What emotional value do I bring to my clients? What tangible value do I bring to my clients? Who are my clients? All of those things that we writers go through in our process, I broke it up in bite-size chunks. And the reason why it’s a drip is because I believe that it has to happen in order or that that’s not the right way to say it. I believe that it’s helpful to happen in order.
So, I mean, could you do your competitive review before you define your ideal customer? I guess so. But I just broke them up so that my whole thing is that you’re a busy entrepreneur, you’re a busy business owner, and you don’t have time for a dissertation. You need a quick, actionable content marketing tip. And that’s what I give them.
And I’ve had a lot of people respond to me and say, “I love your tips. Thank you so much. I never thought of it that way.” So, it’s just taking my whole process. And here’s where the curse of knowledge really hurts us when we market for ourselves. It’s so intrinsic. Each of our processes is so intrinsic in us that the idea of breaking it up into 40 bite-sized chunks sounds daunting.
But when I actually sit down to do it and I just start writing out my process, I can pull … My emails only have one idea in each and they’re never longer. My longest, maybe 600 words. And that may be because there’s an example. But I’m not an email expert by any means. That’s just how I chose to do it.
Kira Hug: All right. So, as we start to wrap, I want to hear about what you’re excited about right now. It might be something that you’re working on, something coming up. What is that?
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. I am excited. I just finished up writing a strategic plan. I contracted a fractional, she calls herself a fractional OBM. We took all of the stuff in the Think Tank that I decided on the specialties, my positioning, all that stuff. And she helped put it in… All these big plans that I have and we put it into a big strategic plan and all the goals and everything.
I mean, I wrote my vision statement, my mission statement, my DEI statement, which I didn’t previously have. And it was so helpful to have somebody help drag that out of me. And my vision is amazing. If I achieve this vision, I’m coming back and doing another episode because this vision is pretty sweet of what I want for myself. I have revenue goals. I have legit revenue goals. I actually sat down with myself and my accountant and we pulled numbers, which is not my favorite activity.
I know exactly how much money I need to make, the business to gross if I wanted to take home this amount, hire this person, et cetera. Every month I have tasks, just like we do in the Think Tank, your monthly goals. But now I have everything laid out and she’s going to start to be my fractional OBM in September. And she’s going to take all my systems that I’ve started, because I’ve set up Dubsado. I have ClickUp and she’s going to optimize them and put them all together and make this magical thing happen on the backend.
And then after that, I’ve already talked to a marketing coordinator that I’d like to bring on maybe Q2 to help with my visibility. So, I’m super excited to get stuff implemented and to have help and to acknowledge that I can’t do it all. And that’s okay. And even if I could, I wouldn’t do it well. I mean, that’s just how it works. So, I’m super excited to finally scale my business.
Kira Hug: That’s a huge win to hire, help seek it out, that’s amazing. Because you’ve teased it, I just am so curious to hear what your vision looks like. If you can share the sneak peek, anything you’re willing to share with the world.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. Absolutely.
Kira Hug: Just a piece of it.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah, yeah. It’s so funny because this had to go through four rounds because she was basically like, this is not a vision. Go back and do it again. This is not a vision. Go back and do it again. This is not a vision. I would like once a month to have a spa day just for me. That’s part of my vision. I would like to be able to take vacations and get paid and know that the business can still run without me.
I would like to speak on stages, to talk to entrepreneurs and small business owners and help educate and empower. This is where my essence comes in. I want to help empower people through that. I want the time to read books, maybe write a book. I also would like to get back to my creative writing.
I want to be able to step out a little bit more and really help small business owners stop wasting their marketing dollars. I see it all the time. My ads aren’t working. Really? What’s your messaging? Let’s talk messaging, let’s talk audience. And I mean, this is stuff we’re all always preaching. I really want to help and empower people to understand messaging and brand messaging and why it’s important. And in order to do that, I have to get out of the day-to-day stuff of my business.
And also, part of this vision is, personally, to travel with my kids and to take them to Europe and go on a weekend trip and take them and help enrich their lives through stuff. That’s some of my vision. There’s more to it. There were some really lofty things in there. But those are the basics. And I think even saying them, they’re attainable.
Erin Pennings: So, Jenn, this has been amazing. You have unpacked so much information. Where can people go to connect with you to learn more or find you online?
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. My website is thewritedifference.com and it’s W-R-I-T-E, Write Difference. That is my handle also across Instagram, Facebook. I think Twitter it’s like thewritediff, but truly anybody can email me at J-E-N-N at thewritedifference.com.
Kira Hug: Thank you, Jenn, for being a part of the Think Tank community, a part of the underground and part of this conversation. Yeah. This is one of those interviews where I’m like, if we ever lose this file, I’m going to flip out. It’s so good and it’s been nourishing.
Jenn Prochaska: Thank you.
Kira Hug: It’s been nourishing to my soul. So, thank you for giving us your time today.
Jenn Prochaska: Thank you.
Kira Hug: Thank you to my co-host, Erin Pennings.
Erin Pennings: Thank you for having me as a co-host. This was so much fun. Jenn is one of my favorite people.
Rob Marsh: That’s the end of our interview with Jenn Prochaska. Juliet, I’m coming back to you. What else stood out to you from the second half of the interview?
Juliet Peay: Oh, my goodness. So much again. I mean, just where it goes from her inner critic and having her community to reflect upon in the Think Tank and just her framework, all of the things, I could talk about it for forever. So, I know around the inner critic, what were your thoughts or reflections on that part?
Rob Marsh: Yeah. So, it’s interesting because as I heard Jenn talking about this, it actually took me back to something that I was reading yesterday, all about the voices that we hear in our heads. And we always have that voice running. And for a lot of us, that voice is oftentimes negative. Oh, don’t do that. You shouldn’t have done that. That was a foolish thing. Why are you eating French fries now? You should be eating a salad.
And the idea that that inner voice, most of us think of that as us. And that’s actually not the case. We are the person listening to the voice. There are kind of two personalities in our heads. And that critic is not us. It’s not reflective of who we are. And oftentimes is telling us all of these things about us that aren’t even necessarily true.
And so, taking a step back and realizing, “Hey, the person who’s listening to the voice, that’s me. And I have the opportunity to say, wait a second, that’s not true.” Or actually, maybe that is true and I can address it in this way, but really separating ourselves from the inner critic.
I love that Jenn named it. She kind of shames it in order to shut that off. That seems to work for her. But just even realizing that that voice inside our head is not us. We don’t have to listen. We don’t have to believe. And we can listen to those stories that it’s telling us and address them, yeah, okay, maybe this is something I should change. Maybe it’s not true. But just again, taking that step back is maybe the first step in addressing the critic.
Juliet Peay: Yes. I find it so interesting kind of the power play between critical thinking and emotional thinking and where the inner critic kind of fits within that. Because when your blood, sweat and tears is in your business and in your life, it feels so emotional. But then sometimes you have to step back and think critically about what do I want.
But then as she’s developing her framework and she’s kind of going with this pirate theme and she’s like, “This is cool.” And then emotionally, she’s like, “I’m really not connected to this at all. It might be a good idea on paper, but it’s time to really listen to myself.”
So, it’s kind of funny the inner critic versus our intuition, which one do you listen to? And I agree. I love that she named it Shirley and she can just be like, “Nope, that one’s Shirley. That’s not Jenn.” What is Jenn saying? And she brought that out so well.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. And there’s a practice here. Taking the time to actually hear the voice, identify that it is not you, that it’s something different, it takes practice to get that right and to stop listening and separate herself. So, I love that Jenn talked about that and how she’s addressed it.
Another thing that really jumped out to me when Jenn’s talking about is her approach to her work, where she said, “What are the three big things that I need to get done today?” And this is really similar to something that we teach in the Copywriter Accelerator. And of course, there’s all kinds of different approaches for getting things done. And no one is the right one. It’s what works for you.
But having those three things like, okay, here are my three bullets. If I can get through these three things, today’s a success. Actually, sometimes it’s one thing. What’s the one big thing I need to get done today that tends to work for me a little bit better. But knowing from the very beginning of the day, the very beginning of the week, these are the three things I’m going to get done, and then the rest of the day is a success. I like that and I like that approach.
Juliet Peay: Yeah. I like that too. And I think it’s important how we write down what that task is. Because for me, I have been following kind of a focus three, very similar productivity tips for a long time. But my issue is I would write down website copy for client on Monday. And my brain was telling me, “So, finish it on Monday.”
And so, if I didn’t get it done, I would be just stressed out and I’m like, “Okay, I worked on it.” Why am I so frustrated that I didn’t get it done when it’s not due until the end of the week or next week or whatever. And I realized, I need to be more careful with my language. Start the website copy or three paragraphs with this website, just getting a little bit more specific on what that goal and task is for the actual day. But yeah, the more that we can break things down, the easier it becomes.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I like that a lot. One more thing that I want to just point out. And again, we’re kind of coming back to this because we talked about it earlier, but just that power of the community. Jenn talked about the Think Tank and what that has given her.
I know that there are all kinds of communities, as we wermentionedhere are all kinds of different influences. But identifying the community that can be supportive for you is just so important. As I think back on my career, it’s one of the things that I wish I had done sooner. I wish that I had found that community sooner.
That’s why Kira and I created The Copywriter Club; to create that community that we felt like was a fit for us. And hopefully, it’s a fit for so many others. But it’s just so critically important to have people around you who can support you, who can cheer you on, who can point out when you’re maybe not doing something quite right, who can give you ideas when you need ideas to try, all of the things, the community is just so critical.
I mean, while we’re talking, I don’t know how to put five exclamation points after my sentences here or underlined it three times, but it’s so important for the success of our businesses.
Juliet Peay: It’s huge. Being in the room with people that get it and that you’ve again, feel safe to talk through your struggles. What I love about the Think Tank is I can say anything from I’m really struggling with coming up with a framework. I know this is important for my business, but I don’t feel like it’s good enough. And having somebody look at it and be like, “This is amazing.” It just gives you that boost of confidence.
But also, days where you’re like, “Okay, my workload or the specific client is just really getting under my skin. And I don’t know what to do.” Having somebody else … I’m finding in the Think Tank that even week by week, it’s like, “Oh, I dealt with that last week. Here’s the process that I followed or here’s the mindset break that I had.” There’s so much support in community. And, of course, we have the best leaders ever.
You and Kira and Linda and Johnny are just there to help us rise to the occasion, but we’re not rising to the occasion uninformed. We have so much backup with the resources and the help and the coaching that it’s incredible. And I’m just honored to be in there with Jenn. I know she’s graduating, but it’s been great to be alongside someone who I admire and respect so much.
Yeah. And I didn’t necessarily mean for that to become an ad for the Think Tank because there are different communities and not every community is a fit for every person. But finding the community that works for you is critically important. I’m glad we’ve been able to do that for so many copywriters with the Think Tank. What else stood out to you?
Oh, well, I was going to say as far as community, I mean, Jenn spoke to her recovery community and just other community she’s been a part of, and there’s just so many that are out there for people to link into.
So, I’ll say another things that stood out to me a lot was when she said nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. And also thinking through that butterfly effect of: Am I in the right place at the right time? And what if I should have done something differently? And again, just all that anxiety that we can think, okay, well now I’m motivated. How do I get in the right place at the right time? And it’s just taking a breath and realizing that just as much fear as we can have for something, there’s also a part of fate there too.
And we don’t have to be in a rush. We’re here for a while. We can let down for a second instead of worrying, what if I miss a client email or something that needs something? Well, what if I miss time with my kids? I think she just put everything in such a wonderful perspective with what she was saying there.
And then another thing that stuck out to me that I loved in thinking through at the beginning, when she talked about the critical thinking of what clients are not a great place to be in my business right now, I might have to have a hard conversation. Later in the episode, she talks about asking what emotional value do I bring my clients? What tangible value do I bring my clients? Who are my clients? And just thinking through how do we help each other and how do we support our clients emotionally?
Because sometimes, a client comes to you with a copy problem, but they really have a business problem or a confidence problem or a questioning problem. There’s so much that can be brought to the table that is emotional. And it’s not always sales and results. Sometimes it’s just kind of being a friend for people.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I think that’s really important. In fact, almost always, it’s never a copy problem. There’s almost always another thing underlying. It’s a business problem. It’s a psychological problem. It’s an emotional problem. There’s so many things that copy helps address and being able to understand where your clients are coming from. And that comes from having that healthy client relationship where the client doesn’t just show up and say, “Hey, I need a website.” And you say, “Okay, great. I’ll write a website.”
But actually taking the time to understand the business, to ask all those questions about what’s going on so that you do understand, “Hey, the reason I need a website is because my life partner doesn’t believe in this business that I’ve created. And I need something that says, ‘Hey, this is real,’ so that I can show him or her that what I’m doing isn’t a waste of time.” And that’s a need that is so separated from web copy. But web copy helps address that right there needs like that all over the place. So, I’m glad you pointed that out.
Juliet Peay: I love too, when Jenn said that if anybody ever wants to talk to her about recovery or anything, she’s like, “Okay, shifting gears, this is confidential. This is real life.” Remembering sometimes that we live in real life. We’re not all just our own personal brands. I mean, that’s a lot of how far business can go, but we’re people underneath that. And just that she’s just so genuine and authentic. And I’m so excited for her story to be shared.
Rob Marsh: I agree, I agree. We want to thank Jenn Prochaska, for joining us on the podcast today. If you want to connect with her, you can find her at the Write Difference. W-R-I-T-E, thewritedifference.com, which we will link to in the show notes.
And if you want to listen to a couple of more episodes, a lot like this one, check out episode number 301 with Tiffany Ingle about brand messaging. In episode 270, I interviewed Kira and we talked all about navigating business and motherhood. Or you could head all the way back to episode 82 with Eman Zabi, all about slowing down to climb to the top. That’s a really good episode. I’m going to have to go back and listen to it. It’s been a little while since I heard that one. So, we’ll link to all of those episodes in the show notes.
Juliet Peay: And that’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcast to leave your view of the show.
Rob Marsh: And if you want to find out even more about the new learning resources we’ve added to The Copywriter Club, head over to thecopywriterclub.com/learn and check those out. We’ll have even more programs to share there in the coming weeks. Thanks for listening. We will see you next week.