Angie Colee is our guest for the 266th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. Angie is a copywriter and copy chief turned business and confidence coach who took a while to find her way into the copywriting role she is the best fit for. No matter where you are in your copywriting journey, you’ll leave with notes filled front and back.
Here’s what we talk about:
- How Angie went from working for the Oprah Winfrey network to underpaid copywriter.
- Do you have to have a degree to become a copywriter?
- Feeling stuck with projects and clients but using every project as a learning opportunity.
- How learning on the fly can make you a better writer.
- The power to walk away from toxic work environments and open the door to new opportunities.
- The different levels of copywriting. Where might you fit in?
- Shifting into a lead role and managing other copywriters.
- The difference between a full-time corporate copywriter and per project roles.
- Finding a team that respects your value, time, and expertise.
- How to deal with comparisonitis and feelings of not being where you think you should be.
- Why it’s a good idea to take on challenges before you think you’re ready.
- The importance of swallowing your pride as a writer and receiving criticism.
- Tips on being a better copy chief.
- How to look at what you can bring to big, successful businesses as a small business owner. Hint: Don’t assume you have nothing to bring to the table.
- Why you shouldn’t be intimidated by launching.
- Steps you can take to create stronger launch campaigns without exhausting yourself.
- How you can help others in copywriting communities even if you’re not an expert.
- The switch Angie made from copywriter to coach.
- Time management between clients, students, and your own business.
- How to get over writer’s block when the muse isn’t striking.
- The mindset blocks many face when they’re trying something new in their business.
Hit the play button or check out the transcript below.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Kira’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman
Mindset by Carol Dweck
Rob: Becoming a great copywriter doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, most of us have stumbled around a bit to get where we are. I spent time at a web startup and running my own SaaS business while Kira learned how to sell and clean cars at Enterprise Rental Service, she picked you up. So stumbling around a variety of jobs to find your way into copywriting is pretty common. But the good news? Through the missteps and the struggles, most of us finally arrive at something resembling a successful copywriting career, and our guest for this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is Angie Colee. Angie is a copywriter and a copy chief turned business and confidence coach who took a while to find her way into the copywriting role that she’s the best fit for, and the advice that she shared in our interview is fantastic. We think you’re definitely going to want to stick around to hear what she had to share.
Kira: But before we dive into this episode, TCCIRL is the sponsor of this episode. TCCIRL, our big event, our big annual event, is going back to in-person stage in 2022 and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s a two and a half day event where you get to connect and hear from other copywriters and marketers about the best tools and strategies you can use to grow your copywriting business and to enhance your own skills and mindset, and one of the best parts is connecting in real life with other copywriters that maybe you’ve bumped into online and you finally can connect in-person over lunch, over dinner, over coffee, over drinks. Tickets are limited and this is not like a faux scarcity thing. We actually have a venue that can only hold a certain amount of people so if you do want to attend this year, if you’re missing hanging out in real life with fellow copywriters, grab your early bird ticket. Now is definitely the time to do that.
Rob: Yeah, I am so excited to get back in-person live with everybody. We were I think the last conference before the virus shut everything down and –
Kira: We were. Yeah.
Rob: It’s going to be fun, so the event will take place on March 28th through the 30th. It’s in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m not a tax expert but The Copywriter Club In Real Life likely qualifies as a business deduction for your taxes so it’s a little bit like getting the government to pay you to come and hang out with us which is a pretty good deal. If you want to learn more or get your tickets, you can go to thecopywriterclub.com/tccirl-2022, that’s 2022.
Kira: And Rob, we haven’t seen each other since then, have we?
Rob: No. We haven’t. Not in person.
Kira: I haven’t seen you since March 2020.
Rob: So yeah, this might be the first time that we see each other in two years in person anyway, so …
Kira: Weird, okay.
Rob: It’s going to be good. But I mean, we’ve done this before. People come from all over the world, literally from Europe, from India, from Australia, and all over the United States and Canada. Even South America, it’s just a great place –
Rob: To build a killer network, so … One or two people from D.C. All right, let’s get into this episode. We started by asking Angie how she ended up as a copywriter.
Kira: Angie, we want to know everything about you. We want to know your story, we want to know how you ended up as a copywriter and now a confidence coach. Share the path please.
Angie: Hmm well, it’s long and windy, so buckle up. I wanted to be a screenwriter. I really thought I was going to be like Shonda Rhimes, creating worlds, Grey’s Anatomy, running things. I even worked for NBC Universal, CBS Films, Warner Brothers, TNT, TBS, like all of the majors. I was working down in Hollywood after I got my master’s degree, and then I got laid off from The Oprah Winfrey Network. Don’t hate Oprah though because it was in a moment of desperation after I got laid off that I remembered this one book from a random screenwriting class two years earlier called The Well-Fed Writer, and I still can’t explain to this day what made me go spend $20.00 I didn’t really have on a book at Barnes & Noble back in the day. Picked up this book, read it in an afternoon and thought, “I could probably do that,” and then proceeded to stumble my way and fail my way forward into eventually this career. That’s why you probably see that I’m a big proponent of you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a copywriter. I quite literally fell into it and decided this was something I could do and every bit of experience, I took that and leveraged it into the next level up and to the next level up and eventually I was running teams and eventually decided I didn’t want to necessarily be a copywriter anymore, I wanted to be a coach.
Rob: Okay, so what exactly were you doing for Oprah?
Angie: I was a digital production assistant, which is a fancy title for someone … You know wen shows solicit videos from you for a contest and 500 million people submit a video? Someone on the other end has to go through all those videos. That was what I did for The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Rob: You also mentioned The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. That’s a great book by the way and we’ll link to it in the show notes. But what specifically did that book help you to do?
Angie: Well, that’s the funny thing. Like I tried just about every prospecting method that he suggested. I mean I did cold calling, I dropped flyers, I sent letters, I went to … What is it, chamber of commerce meetings locally back when you could still meet with people. I joined online sites like Elance which I think is now Freelance.com but … Or Upwork. Joined all those sites, I tried everything and just kind of slowly but surely found clients, like through the online platforms I wound up writing the production script for Miss Black USA Pageant for a few years in a row. I took any writing project that somebody would pay me for, and then just basically kept leveraging that slowly and surely towards direct response which was where I felt really called the more I learned about copywriting.
Kira: And roughly what is the timing of this because I know many copywriters look at you and they’re like, “Hey, Angie is a top copywriter.” So did this take ten years, did it take five years, less?
Angie: So, I got my master’s degree in May of 2010. November of 2010 is when I decided to make a serious go at this business. Then I freelanced a little bit, largely unsuccessfully, with the help of generous unemployment funds until about April of 2012, which was when I got my first part-time junior role, and that was on the back of all of this freelance experience that I had just stumbled my way into, not knowing what I didn’t know. Which I thought was pretty cool, so I got a good foundation for about a year and a half working there part-time and I hit a wall with that role. Like I really am just somebody that just wants to go fast and figure this thing out and I was feeling a little bit stifled. It was a good role, it taught me a lot, but I had a set number of blogs, a set number of emails, and as many product descriptions as I could fit into the remaining hours, and after a while, that just got to be boring. I love them, it was a fun team, I don’t want to crap all over any opportunities, but …
So, I started applying for a full-time role. I found a hardware retail chain that was looking for a full-time copywriter. The interesting thing was the person that connected me to the job thought that I didn’t have enough experience, and I pushed back on her and was like, “I disagree with you and here’s why,” and I guess I must have made enough of a case for her to pass me through to the creative director, because I wound up ultimately getting the job. Had to figure out a lot of things on the fly there. I didn’t know how to write a catalog and then I was handed one and I had to figure out how to write it in three days and teach myself how to use Adobe InDesign, which was ridiculous. But yeah, and then made it clear from there that I wanted to be a senior and I wanted to train people and just … I kind of articulated the thing and then trusted that the path would appear. I don’t know that I consciously ever made that choice that if I will it, the path will appear, but that’s kind of how things wound up.
Then that was kind of a toxic work environment, the one where I graduated to senior, or I was promoted to senior and learned all these catalogs and print retail and all kinds of interesting stuff. I wound up quitting in December of 2016 and walking away from that job, and then four months later, when my second attempt at freelancing was kind of hitting some fits and starts, I was briefly considering going back. I even took a temporary in-house contract with them for a week to cover a colleague that was on vacation and I wound up getting fired from a job I didn’t even have when the entire creative department was let go. So talk about having some sort of inkling that things were maybe not working so well with the company and deciding to walk away just in time.
I was briefly heartbroken by that because I think I had in the back of my head, “I could always go back if this freelance thing doesn’t work out.” But then a week later, not even kidding, is when I got the offer to join Jeff’s team on a 90-day retainer so the universe has a very weird sense of humor when you put things out there and just try to make it work.
Kira: Okay. All right, so you joined Jeff’s team around 2016?
Angie: May 2017.
Kira: Okay, all right, and you mentioned different levels of copywriting. Can you just kind of articulate what those levels are in your mind for copywriters? I know there’s a different path for every copywriter, but what levels do most of us hit along the way?
Angie: So, I think there’s the raw rookie, just trying to figure out how to get paid to be a writer and you don’t even necessarily know what kind of writer you want to be just yet so you try a little bit of everything. So that’s where I was when I was editing people’s business plans and creating production scripts, whatever people would pay me for. As I learned more about the different types of writing, I found myself drawn toward copywriting, sales writing, and when I found this junior role, it became more about get as good as possible at writing, and the reps really helped with that.
So, I mentioned that I got a little bit bored in that role and I did, that’s true, but just having to crank, whether I was motivated or not really helped me to get good, which leveraged me into the full-time role with benefits and a salary in the San Francisco Bay area which was fantastic, and then learning different skillsets like how to be good at print media, how to fit everything that you need to say in a 30 second commercial spot, and not forget the name of the company. Totally done that before. That’s another fun story.
When I told my boss that I wanted to be … My copy chief at the time that I wanted to be a senior copywriter, he basically laid out, “Okay, so I need you to be good at delegating projects, overseeing junior writers, helping with the voice style guide.” So it was just kind of layering on levels of responsibility and then when I wound up on Jeff’s team I started as a copywriter and quickly became the team lead and then his copy chief as I gained mastery over his voice, worked with Abbey Woodcock actually to develop the voice guide and the training guide, and then brought on two more writers that you might recognize, Candice Lazar and Chris Orzechowski also were on the team and for a while we just cranked out promotions and launches and it was fantastic.
Rob: Can I ask about salary levels and what you were charging for the work that you were doing at this time? What were you charging per project and how did that change when you took a full-time role?
Angie: Okay, that’s a really good question. Because when I was first starting and I was trying to figure it out, I took anything that sounded reasonable. Like $85.00 to edit the script, sure, that seems like it makes sense. I didn’t have any concept of what it took to cover the bills, the business bills and taxes on top of that. So I wasn’t kind of operating from I would say a business health perspective, just like, “Oh, I could get paid to do this. Cool.” When I took the first junior role, I think I was making $22.00 an hour for 20 hours a week. When I signed on for my full-time role, it was a $68,000.00 base salary with a 15% bonus which was the most I had ever been paid in my life, so I was super happy.
That’s when I kind of hit the wall because as my skills grew in that role over the years that I was there, I discovered that the company had this arbitrary 6% merit cap, and that was one of the reasons that I ultimately wound up leaving, because I had written an email campaign, three emails, that made almost $10 million in sales and so when I went and said, “Hey, I did a bunch of research. Turns out I’m behind the salary curve. Can we make this work? Here’s the results and the value I bring to the company.” They were like, “No, 6%, take it or leave it.” I was like, “Really? I pay for my whole department and I can’t get … Okay. Okay.” So I don’t know if that helped or not. I took a little bit of a pay cut when I left that company and went to Jeff’s team, but the freedom trade-off to me was worth it and then Jeff’s team was incredibly generous with performance bonuses which has been my favorite thing for a while so …
Kira: Yeah, let’s talk more about performance bonuses because I think that’s a new concept for a lot of copywriters who haven’t worked on a team like Jeff’s. How should we approach it if that is something that we should consider and look out for so that we are compensated for that?
Angie: It’s a really phenomenal team and that’s what I loved about it was that they preached creative business about freedom and flexibility and then the team really had that on the back end too which was really nice. So I don’t know exactly how Jeff’s team calculated it because they had their own figures. I know when I was still in the corporate office it was 15% and it depended on a variety of targets including whether the company met their overall goals. The way I’ve heard some other copywriters structuring it is if you hit certain targets, you get certain percentages if that makes sense. So just for round numbers’ sake, let’s say we had a goal to hit $100,000.00 in sales. Well, that would be your flat fee, and if we hit $150,000.00, you would get X% bonus, if we hit $200,000.000, you got Y% bonus, and if we went beyond that, you could calculate from there. I know that that’s kind of speaking in vagueness but it’s kind of hard to quantify all of the potential bonus structures out there so I’m trying to perhaps oversimplify a little bit.
Rob: So, I’m listening to you talk about your journey and it seems so smooth from beginning to where you are now. Not a meteoric rise, but also not a snail’s pace either. Just naturally moving from one good opportunity to another. Things seem to happen just when they need to happen for you.
Angie: I’m glad that you said that too because I’ve struggled with that mindset-wise throughout the course of my career feeling like I should be further along, especially in comparison to some of my brilliant colleagues, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with or dining with. But I think one of the biggest takeaways that I personally have from this journey is it’s okay to be where you are right now, and that your path is your path. It’s okay to go at your pace. Nobody else’s pace applies to your particular situation, and I think … I’m not a superwoo person but I think that’s because you’re where you are until you learn what you need to learn in order to move forward, and so if you feel like you’re moving a little bit slower, look around and see what is this situation trying to teach me? Versus maybe, “The world’s out to get me, I’m stuck, I can’t move as fast as I want.”
I think that mindset was a big takeaway from all of this too because I remember being stuck at that corporate job, not being able to get a raise, feeling very frustrated at this toxic work environment, and telling one of my mentors at the time, you know him, his name is Kevin Rogers. I was feeling very stuck, very taken advantage of, very victim-mindset, and he recommended a book called Growth by Carol Dweck which kind of changed my entire approach to everything. To really sum that up at a high level, it talks about a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is very much like the world is against me, I don’t see any solutions, this is too much, it’s not my fault. Whereas a growth mindset looks for opportunities, even when things seem impossible and says, “Okay, what can I learn from this? How can I move forward?”
So, I read that book and kind of changed my approach and noticed how my career started moving faster. I felt a little bit more confident. Started taking steps toward getting myself out of this job for good, even though I had a mortgage in San Francisco, I didn’t necessarily feel safe walking away from a salaried job. But I felt ultimately that it was something that I had to do, thanks to this growth journey.
Kira: Are there any other examples of how that growth mindset showed up in your business or your life during that time?
Angie: I would say yeah, just being open to trying things in different ways and not being married to one thing just because it’s worked in the past or you’ve heard that it worked for somebody else. Actually when you guys invited me on stage last year at The Copywriter Club in real life, so that was at the start of the COVID outbreak and we had a speaker drop out of the morning panel and so I came on the panel, and one of the great questions that people asked was what’s the best prospecting method to use, and literally everybody on stage had a different answer for how they went about getting high paying clients and so when it came to me I was like, “My answer is notice that everybody said something different. It all works. It just depends on what works for you. What makes you happy to do this. I will never do another cold call again in my life.” I just won’t. I’ve tried it though, to see if it works, and it does work. It’s just too slow and too frustrating for me, and there are easier ways for me to do business. So just that really helped in terms of being open to trying something and not shutting it down before I’ve tried it and then once I try it, treating it like an experiment and seeing what data comes from this that can inform my next move forward versus win or lose.
Rob: What advice would you give to just starting out Angie, or to a new copywriter who wants the kind of career that you’ve built?
Angie: I would say step up before you feel like you’re ready. Because you’re never really going to feel like you’re ready. I wish that I had seen that for the lesson that it was at the time that I took the full-time copywriting role because literally two weeks in, the creative director came up to me and said, “Hey, so about that holiday catalog that we’re reviewing on Friday,” and it was like a Tuesday afternoon and it was like what holiday catalog, and he goes, “You know, Christmas, holiday catalog, we’re going to review it on Friday,” and I was like, “Seriously what catalog? What are you talking about?” That was how I figured out that I had to write a catalog in three days and teach myself a new piece of software and the lesson in that was opportunities present themselves, you can either make an excuse that I don’t really know what I’m doing or you can just kind of awkwardly fumble your way through it. That was not the most perfect catalog that ever existed. It’s not something that I really put in my portfolio and go, “Look, I’m a genius. Check this out.” But I figured it out and from that point forward became the company’s kind of go-to catalog writer as I got better and better at those skills and it all came from saying yes to an opportunity I didn’t feel ready for but I just kind of had to do.
Kira: What about advice for copywriters who are getting into copy chiefing and taking it at that level? I know we’ve heard so many positive comments from other copywriters who have been chiefed by you and learned from you and mentored by you. What does it take to be a really solid copy chief and what are some simple steps we could take if we’re moving in that role?
Angie: Oh, that’s great. I would say the best lesson that I learned from my first real copy chief was to leave room for people to solve problems in a way that you wouldn’t. Because when I first became a senior writer and I was training other people, I was really trying to get them to follow my vision and execute it the way I would do it if I were writing this project, and he took me aside and he was like, “That’s great. I get that you have a vision and it can work, but you do realize that there are dozens of potential solutions to this problem, right?” And theirs could work just as well as yours, they could not work as well as yours, but we won’t know until we try.
That was really an eye-opening moment in our practice I try to adhere to this day. Like your approach is going to be different from my approach just by merit of us being two different people, and your idea could turn out great, even if I can’t see the vision for it. So if you trust your vision for it, okay, sell it to me, and if we go through a couple of rounds of revisions together and I go, “You know what? It’s still not working. We need to come up with another concept,” that’s when we can switch in to a different vision or if I’ve got an idea that they can run with, I’m happy to do that. So that was a big takeaway.
Another big takeaway was being able to … As a writer myself, swallow my pride when a concept is not working. Roy Peter Clark and a lot of other good, talented amazing writing coaches and teachers teach this concept of kill your babies or kill your darlings, and I learned this the hard way when I wrote a post card campaign for that retail company. I can’t even remember what the joke is to this day, that should tell you how important this piece of writing was to me but I had written something witty and funny and I was convinced it was brilliant and it was going to make everybody laugh and we’re going to make millions of dollars, we’re all going to be rich.
And we go to this creative review meeting and my chief looks at it and he goes, “I don’t get it.” So I explain it to him and I’m like, “It’s funny, right?” He was like, “Aha. Yeah. I get that now. Could I have a new copy on my desk by this afternoon?” I was like, “Wait, but you just said that you got it. Why do I need to rewrite this?” And he goes, “Angie, are you going to follow the truck and explain the joke to everyone?” And I was like, “Well no, that’s stupid. Why would you say that?” And he goes, “Well, if I didn’t get it, I’m probably not the only one who won’t get it. That means it’s not clear enough and you need to rewrite it.” And I was like, “Ooh.” Punch to the gut, but it turns out he was so right.
Then I would say if you want to be a copy chief, leading with empathy. I don’t think that junior writers or people that have been at this for a little while set out to disappoint you if they blow a deadline, if they turn over a concept that doesn’t look like it’s been researched or worked properly. There’s usually something that’s happening in their head or in their life that has led them to this place where they didn’t turn over the draft on time and now the timelines have gone off the rails. So I tend to lead from that place of what’s going on, I’m on your side. Like this isn’t about making Angie happy, this isn’t about impressing me. This is about us teaming up together to do good work for the client and for their customers.
So, use me as the asset that I am. Don’t worry about making me mad. The only thing that’s going to make me mad is if you disappear, if you don’t communicate. If there’s something that you’re not getting and you don’t reach out for help, and I could have helped you with that, those are the things that I get upset at. I don’t get upset at you trying your best and just hitting a rough patch, not having motivation, not being able to work your way through this concept. Like that’s exactly what my role as a chief is for, to help you figure out those rough patches and get going again so that you feel confident in delivering the end product.
Rob: You mentioned that you worked with Jeff Walker. He’s obviously one of the biggest names in the launch world. How did you make that connection and what did you learn from the experience of working with him and his team?
Angie: That was actually interesting because I met Jeff through Abbey Woodcock. As I mentioned she had done his voice and style guide and his training role. I didn’t know who he was before I joined the team so I think I had a little bit of an advantage of not being super intimidated by, “Oh my good, he’s famous.” As I started preparing and doing the application materials and the writing tests I got a little bit more intimidated and I almost dropped out, but that’s another good story for another day.
I had to learn on the fly, and the great thing about Jeff was that he uses the process that he teaches to launch his own product, which teaches the process that he teaches. So it’s a great meta-experience to just be behind the scenes in the launch and the great thing about Jeff’s team is when you are coming on board, they have a policy that your first launch you watch instead of jumping into the deep end and trying to manage all these moving parts. That was a great thing because I was able to take kind of my corporate background and my experience in developing systems for growing teams and help systematize some of what we were doing with Jeff’s launch processes so that we didn’t have to recreate launches from the ground up every time, and I love also that Jeff is a big advocate of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Because I think a lot of people kind of get caught up in this, “We have to be new, we have to be new.” Why do you have to be new? If people like what you have, do you really have to create something new every time? It could just be the same product that people love. So he has the same core product that he’s taught for more than 15 years now. He updates it every couple years. We follow pretty much the same launch process, we tweak the messaging a little bit every year, and that’s about it. So I kind of loved how seeing behind the scenes of a big business like that, you could see the streamline happening and it doesn’t have to be kind of as complicated as it might look from the outside.
Kira: What else? What else did you learn from seeing behind the scenes of a successful company like that? Other lessons that we could take from not only Jeff but just the whole team that could strengthen our own copywriting businesses?
Angie: Oh, that’s a good one. I see this idea that these big companies have it all together and what could I, tiny peon copywriter, possibly hope to bring to these companies? Jeff Walker had been in business for over 20 years before I came on board and he had never had an abandon cart sequence before me. So don’t assume that just because they have this big business and they’re successful that they’ve been able to hit all of these milestones and implement all of these sequences. Sometimes you grow so fast that you just don’t have time to implement these things. Sometimes things have been working so well that you just haven’t had a need before now and then if somebody comes on with the experience that can lead a project. Like I tried to pitch it probably three or four times when I realized that we didn’t have an abandoned cart and I wasn’t getting a firm yes or no just because when it’s launch time, things go crazy.
So finally, I just wrote the whole thing and was like, “The abandoned cart sequence is ready for your approval.” I just kind of slid it in with the other deliverables as things were happening, and the first time we ran it, it recovered … I want to say 60 sales at $2,000.00 a pop, and then when you consider that you can rerun that every launch, I mean that’s a multimillion dollar asset in three emails that I created that didn’t exist before, and that’s not to say that’s something that I’m trying to brag about or that like, “Angie’s fantastic.” Don’t look at something from the outside and assume that you know what’s going on and that you can’t possibly add value. You can always find a way to add value and it might be a lot simpler than you think, like this abandoned cart sequence.
Rob: So many copywriters want to work on launches because they hear the kinds of fees that copywriters charge as high as $50,000.00 or $60,000.00 for a single project. Which of course isn’t a single project but in reality it involves several sales pages, maybe as many as 50 or 60 or more emails, webinar, video scripts, Facebook ads and on and on. But regardless of all that, where can copywriters go to learn more about doing this kind of a launch and how can they find these kinds of projects?
Angie: Well, you can’t go wrong getting involved in Jeff’s world because when people talk about launches, a lot of people in business pretty much follow his system and a lot of the other launch systems that you see out there are different versions that people have come up with that simplify or streamline one position or another. But basically it all is derived from the system that he set up and you might have noticed the three videos and then the sales letter and then the open cart week. That’s like the boiled down version of it. There are people in his community that have just started businesses or they’re kind of in that awkward growth stage and they don’t know how to implement this that are already in his world and because he’s such an evangelist for copy, they’re like, “Oh my god. Can I hire you?” That happened to me at events all the time. Like they wanted to hire Jeff’s copywriter and I’m like, “No. Thank you though. I’m very flattered. I actually have an extensive network of friends, I can introduce you to people, let’s talk budget, timeline, all that jazz.”
That said, I’m glad that you brought up that people want to get into launch copywriting usually because they hear this $50,000.00, $60,000.00 price tag and they’re like, “Hell yeah.” $50,000.00, $60,000.00 is usually for … It could be four to six months of solid work and I mean just one of the email sequences that we had for Jeff’s last launch before I left the team was approaching 250 pages with all the different variations in the list segments and stuff that we had going on. So I want to contextualize being paid $50,000.00, $60,000.00 for a launch package because I mean we’re talking writing the great American novel worth of launch copier to earn that much.
The potential is really huge, I mean I’ve heard of people charging that much and then multimillion dollar launch and everybody’s happy and performance bonuses, woo-hoo. But with any campaign that you undertake, there’s also the potential that the market could shift, you’ve been working for four months on something that’s never going to see the light of the day. That actually happened to us on Jeff’s team once where he had this promotion in mind, Candice and Chris and I were confident that we could nail it. We went full steam ahead and then when we turned it over to him, he was silent for two days and I was like, “Oh god. Here it comes. This is when they find out we’re frauds. We’re all going to be fired. Like that’s it, that’s the end.”
Then we were kind of looping on each other for a little bit too, like that’s it. This is fine, everything’s on fire, we’re all going to get fired, and so I wound up telling the team, “Okay, laptops off for the rest of the afternoon. Tomorrow we come back ready to kick ass.” I should probably have asked if I could swear on your podcast since I do it so freely. But I said, “F yeah, copy team, we’ve got this,” and that became kind of our rallying cry through the ups and down of launch world, which can be definitely up and down. So if you’ve ever seen me in the background have FYCT, that’s basically what that stands for. If you’re going to fail, fail big and then just keep going.
Kira: So, what would you say are the levels for launch copy … Like that, again, working on Jeff’s launch is so much larger, you can charge $50K, you can have performance payouts, but we don’t all start there. So how could someone who is new to the space start and what would that look like?
Angie: I think that a lot of people see the big multimillion dollar launches like Jeff does and think that that’s all that a launch is, and it doesn’t actually have to be that complicated. Some of the launches start with what he calls a seed launch which is basically just email only and selling a beta version of a product before it gets created and then having the people on your email list that bought into the product co-create it with you. So we’re talking about a couple dozen emails there and then maybe some sales pages. It’s a very light touch on that one whereas a lot of people see that joint venture launch that Jeff does where everybody in the internet universe is mailing for him as well and they’re like, “I want that. I want the multimillion dollar launch.” Maybe start with a $10,000.00 launch. Maybe start with a $5,000.00 launch, or a $500.00 launch, just to see if you can make the sale on something, and then leverage it up from there. Figure out what worked, what didn’t work. That’s really all it is is putting yourself out there, even if you don’t really feel like you know what you’re doing, three day catalog. And then seeing what happens.
Rob: Let’s jump in here and talk about a couple of things that stood out to us here, so we’ve been chatting with Angie. Lots of stuff jumped out at me, I started making a bulleted list Kira as we tend to do and somewhat 10 items, we don’t have to talk about all of them, but what stood out to you from what Angie was talking about over the last few minutes?
Kira: Yeah, well I mean, I don’t know. I love Angie, so I just … I enjoyed this conversation so much, and I love that she worked for Oprah and she also wants to be like Shonda Rhimes, which is similar to me. I can relate. There’s so much in this episode about mindset and Angie was cool enough to just open up and talk freely about her own mindset struggles and that’s what I really love about Angie is that she’s not afraid to go there and to get real and she … And to talk about all the hard stuff in her own mind and business, and so for me, that’s a lot of what I pulled out of this portion of the conversation. It was really like the noteworthy quotes that she shared. She said it’s …
Well, she talked about comparing herself to others who maybe had started in copywriting after her or even around the same time and she felt that pressure of like, “Oh, I should be ahead of where I am.” Which I think is common, I feel that, and so her quote that I wrote down and underlined is, “It’s okay to be where you are right now. It’s okay to go at your own pace,” and it’s such a simple quote but it’s so powerful because it’s easy to forget that and it’s easy to compare yourself to other people who are in entirely different situations and you don’t even understand the background of what’s happening in their situation. So why do we compare ourselves so frequently when it’s such a useless process?
Rob: Yeah, I remember a conversation a few years ago in the free Copywriter Club Facebook group where somebody posted who are these copywriters that are making six figures, I don’t even believe this is true. The person who posted was struggling to make maybe even mid-five figures and because that … When people mention this thing, it just felt so out of reach, and she didn’t believe it, and I think there is a lot of power here. Yeah, there are six figure copywriters. There are seven figure copywriters out there, but that doesn’t mean that we necessarily need to be at the same place they are, we don’t know what clients they’ve got, we don’t know what advantages they’ve got, and so comparing ourselves to them as opposed to maybe where we were six months ago or where we were a year ago is so much less helpful and just recognizing what Angie was sharing, slow and steady is okay. In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s preferred to overnight success simply because the learning proceeds at the right amount, you’re able to help your clients with bigger problems and as you learn how to fix those, then you can take the next step up and you’re literally leveraging your experience and your assignments to move on to the next thing which may be similar or may be slightly better but it doesn’t have to be zero to a million.
Kira: Yeah, and what’s cool to me about this interview is we … Backstory here, we interviewed Angie before I even had my baby. This was pre-maternity leave, this was from a while back, and we didn’t air it because there was a couple … We lost a couple audio clips that we had to kind of reorganize. But going back now into this episode, it’s actually a lot of key messages that I need to hear post-maternity leave where my whole world has changed and my parameters have changed and I have a lot more restraints right now timing-wise and energy-wise and so a lot of Angie’s advice just resonates with me even more right now because I can’t … How could I possibly compare my situation, how I work and how I show up and my own marketing and my own productivity to someone who maybe didn’t have a baby a couple months ago? Like it’s ridiculous, but we still do it, and I even … I catch myself doing it and so again, just like what Angie said about … She mentioned she doesn’t want to get too woo-woo, but it’s about learning what you need to learn where you are, and there’s always a lesson to learn, and for me right now, it’s about delegation and asking for help, which is something I’ve always struggled with, but I’m forced to do that now because I need that help more than ever.
So, I agree with Angie. There are always lessons we can pull away from wherever we are and look at what the situation is trying to teach us before we can move on, and so yeah. Just that resonated right now especially.
Rob: Yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to the whole growth versus fixed mindset. When you have a fixed mindset, stuff happens and it’s like … We feel like it’s out of our control or we feel like there’s nothing we can do versus that growth mindset, where we’re always looking for, “Okay, what can I learn from this situation? How can I improve my situation?” Even if it’s only a little bit, 1%, 2%, how can I make this a little bit better? What can I do to make the next thing work better, and that approach as an entrepreneur, as a business owner and as a copywriter just helps all of us I think build a business that serves our needs far better than assuming that here’s the path and I’ve got to be at this point by this point and I’ve got to follow that expert and do what they say … That just doesn’t work all the time.
Kira: Yeah. Yeah. What else, Rob, stood out to you?
Rob: So, one other thing that Angie said that you and I have echoed this several times but just the idea of stepping up before you’re ready. She was applying to work with Jeff Walker and her team and she felt like she wasn’t qualified or she wasn’t quite ready for that. We’ve done that in our business, we talk about taking on risks that maybe were … Oftentimes we are ready for it but we don’t feel like … There maybe some head trash going on, something else that’s keeping us from going back, but when you don’t feel ready, oftentimes it’s still okay or even best to step up, put yourself forward, throw yourself into the work, take on a project that feels maybe too big, do something that feels like a big commitment or that you’re putting yourself out there in a way that’s making you uncomfortable, because that’s where growth happens.
Kira: Yes, and my example of that would actually be I am throwing a party at my house in December for my husband because he’s got a big birthday coming up, he’s turning 50.
Rob: Wow. Old man.
Kira: So, I do not feel … He probably would hate it that I’m mentioning that. I don’t feel ready, this is all about me, this is not about him. I don’t feel ready to throw a party because of said baby that is not even five months old and the house that needs … Like is in the process of being totally reorganized, I don’t feel ready but I’m going to use Angie’s inspiration and motivation to step up and throw a really awesome party for him. So stepping up before you feel ready, because oftentimes once you set the date and you send that invite out, the paperless post invite out to everyone you know, you will make the party happen. So whether it’s for personal things like parties, which I love to throw, or it’s for business and professional achievements, I’ve never felt ready for anything. Motherhood, business, the event, TCCIRL, back in person. I don’t feel ready for any of it but we just kind of schedule it and work backwards and work baby step by baby step and do it and so I … Again like that message definitely rings true for me too.
Rob: Yeah, and I mean Angie in particular, she’s talking about forging these connections with people like Jeff. That’s a big part of it too. You almost never feel ready to start connecting with a big name, an expert in your industry, right? Like that’s intimidating, even showing up at events where these people are and yeah, once you meet them, get to know them, you’re like, “I don’t know what the big deal was. This person is cool,” or sometimes they even take you under their wing or whatever but connecting with big names in your niche, in the industry that you serve, in the copywriting world, in the marketing world, that’s another way where sometimes you just need to start doing it before you feel like, “Oh, well I need to be at that level too or I need to be a well-known copywriter or expert in my niche before I can start reaching out to these people,” and you don’t. You don’t, and Angie proved that you can make a lot of headway without knowing these people and just by again putting yourself out there.
Kira: Yes, and if you have your doubts, just think of Angie and her holiday catalog and how she was forced to figure out how to create a catalog in I don’t even know what she said, three days or a week? Something crazy, and you just figure it out. So I will think of Angie when I feel daunted by the next task.
Rob: Yeah, let me say one more thing about that too, because I think one of the reasons that we don’t make those connections or that we don’t step up before we’re ready is that we assume that we don’t have anything to bring to the table, and Angie mentioned this specifically, and she gave several examples where, “Okay, you may feel that way, I may feel that way, but when you start looking for problems to solve, things that just haven’t been happening, things in the business that you can help your client improve,” you start bringing those things to the table and she specifically mentioned the abandoned cart sequence that she did for Jeff’s team after 10 plus years that immediately contributes over six figures of income. Like simply identifying what’s a missing piece and where can I have an impact, make some changes is a really good way to gain influence in your industry or with the clients that you want to work with.
Kira: Let’s jump back into our episode and talk about what goes into writing for a successful launch.
Rob: What are the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to writing a launch copy?
Angie: Definitely a compelling email copy, scarcity and urgency and getting people to take action, having strong calls to action in all of your messages, and understanding that not all of the message goes in every element, and I think that’s probably something that I’ve chiefed people through kind of time and again. Like they want to write this email that is this long and explains all the things, and like I’m not going to read all that person on the end. You put Section A of it here, and then Section B if they get to the next page, and then the next step on the next page … You walk them through it step by step, don’t expect them to digest all of this and understand what you want. And also being able to understand at a high level what those steps are and how the person is going to experience it. I’ve often called this being able to take off your writer hat and put on your reader hat. If I’m getting this in my inbox and I’m reading it, does it make sense to me, does it compel me, what do I expect to happen next, does that actually happen when I click through, and that’s kind of the entire way that I approach strategizing the launch, like what do I want them to do next.
Kira: I have written those emails. The really long ones.
Angie: I think we’ve all done that.
Kira: Like let me put every message in this one email and just tackle it all at once. Let’s go back and talk more about mindset. I know you’ve already touched on that but you said you almost dropped out of applying to work with Jeff and it’s a story for another time, but I don’t want to wait for another time. I don’t know when I’m going to see you next, Angie. So can you just share how you dealt with that because mindset-wise, and then even just what you mentioned about the two days of not hearing from Jeff where you’re like, “Oh my gosh. We’re going to get fired.” How do you kind of work through those situations because so many of us, even if we’ve been doing it for a while, are so nervous to send a copy to a clients and it still causes anxiety, even when we’ve done it repeatedly. So how do you deal with that?
Angie: That’s such a good question.
Kira: I know that was like three questions in one, but …
Angie: Oh no, it’s fine. I’m here for it. We’ll figure this out. Let’s see if we can do this. So I knew when I applied for Jeff’s team that I was up against Chris Orzechowski. I did not know at the time that Chris was newer to copywriting than I was. He was just really, really good at talking himself up, breaking things down publicly, and so that’s kind of the first step that I want to point out to people that just because you respect someone doesn’t mean you know what their history and their experience level is and that’s not to put Chris down because he’s amazingly smart and brilliant and he’s worked like 10 times faster than I have in terms of his career growth and copy understanding. But that was an example of he was just new into copy and I looked to him and went, “I can’t apply. I can’t run against Chris. I’ve been doing this for seven years, but I can’t run against Chris.”
So, can you kind of see how head trash plays a factor there? In the end, I dragged my feet and I’d write on the test a little bit and I dragged my feet and I’d debate and in the end I decided the worst that happens to me if I turn this test in and they say no is I still don’t have a role with Jeff Walker. I didn’t have one before, so technically I’m no worse off, but at least I get the experience of applying for one of these big teams and seeing what it looks like. The best that happens is I work with this big team and it works. Even then for the first three months, as they were growing their team, there were a lot of communication hiccups, right? Sometimes they would get busy with a promo that I wasn’t yet involved in because I’m in training, and I wouldn’t hear from them for a while.
So, when my 90-day trial was up, I started nervously reaching out to everybody like, “I like it. Do you like it or is this still going to work?” Eventually Jeff called me which surprised me, like every time my phone rang and it was Jeff, I was like, “What did I do? Did I mess up?” He never called me because I messed up, but he called me and he was like, “So I get the sense that you are nervous and I don’t want you to be. Like usually if it’s not going to work out, I get a sense of it much sooner than now. I apologize for not telling you before that we were going to continue with you but I just want to let you know that your role here is safe. We are going to continue. If you need something to worry about because you’re an anxious person in general, I want you to worry about sounding different from everybody else in their inbox. Because you can’t create from a place of anxiety.” That really has stuck with me, you can’t create from a place of anxiety. If you’re just letting these thoughts kind of spiral and control you, you can’t really produce your best work.
So that’s kind of the mindset that I take now, that … The same reason that I told my team laptops off, let’s go get our heads on the street and come back and do this tomorrow, because you can’t create from that place, and we’re all circling the drain, really upset at this promo that didn’t go well instead of focused on how we could pivot, maybe reuse some of these assets that didn’t … Because you can always reuse copy. No time spent writing is ever really wasted. You can always find a way to use that moving forward.
So, like mindset is a huge, huge component of it, and I was super grateful when I decided to leave, they tried to keep me on, and they did keep me on for about three months after I said that I was going to leave. I wound up helping to hire my replacement, and helping Candice step up into the role as copy chief and I think I posted about it in The Copywriter Club too, my experience with people turning in applications for this team, and I heard after the fact, I think my biggest letdown was the really talented people that talked themselves out of applying because they didn’t have the experience or they thought they didn’t have the experience, but they did, and they were exactly who I was looking for and I was like, “Dammit. You should have just turned in the application.”
Kira: But they told you they just didn’t want to apply because they didn’t think they had enough experience?
Angie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). There were at least six different people after the fact that reached out and said, “You know what? You were so open about this whole process, can I send you my resume and you tell me if I should have applied?” And I was like, “Yes, the answer is yes, you should have applied.” Like if you have a skills gap which I don’t see one, you would have learned on the job, and would have picked it up just like that. I think that’s another mindset issue that I’d like to point out to people which is writing for a big name like Jeff Walker is just like writing for any client. So kind of step out of your head and stop cycling yourself out over, “Ooh, big client versus this is where I’m ready to play.” You’re never going to feel ready, so you might as well try and play big.
Rob: How do you get over the head trash? How does a newer copywriter go from I’m thinking about applying but I’m not qualified to I’m perfect for this job, or maybe not I’m perfect but if I’m not perfect at least I’m as good as the other applicants.
Angie: That’s an interesting story as well because I had joined another copywriting community when I was in the process of being promoted to senior copywriter in this day job and I didn’t say anything for four months, and eventually the community owner was like, “So you’re paying for membership here. Why aren’t you engaging?” And I was like, “Because there’s all these other brilliant people that have things to say and I can’t possibly contribute.” Again, I have years of experience at this point, but I am assuming that I’m somehow inferior to all these other people, and so this community leader said, “Look, I feel like you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to be an expert and you don’t actually need that. In case you’re waiting for permission, I hereby anoint you, Angie Colee, expert enough to go help people and I’m going to challenge you to answer questions that you feel called to answer and ignore the rest.” That’s kind of how I built my reputation post-corporate. We talked about my journey, how I leveraged all these skills and I kind of did it in a vacuum, just figuring out where to go next by myself and then when I joined a copywriting community, my name got out there just because I helped people where I could help them and I didn’t worry about what I didn’t know.
Yeah, and that has really stuck with me. I wound up telling him years later I feel called to write a book, I think I’m going to steal your title, Permission to Kick Ass, and that’s just going to be the name of the book and the podcast and the movement hopefully, just you don’t need permission but in case you’re waiting around, here I am. It’s granted. All right, let’s go do the thing.
Kira: I remember hearing you talk about permission to kick ass I think when we were in Cleveland together for the Titans masterclass. We were sitting at the bar and you had already worked on your book I think at that point, right?
Angie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It came from a mastermind challenge with a group of friends where we had all talked about writing a book and at the time we were all focused on a Dean Jackson 90 minute book where you set up the interview questions and you record it and you have the transcription and then you make it into a book and it’s quick and easy and the book is like this big usually but mine turned from 90 minutes into nine months of interviews and recording, and I think at last count I was somewhere around 80,000 words with the help of a talented ghostwriter to kind of organize that because that’s a massive undertaking for a first-time writer of a book-book, but yeah, three years in the making and I’m finally making some progress on that book, which makes me incredibly happy.
Kira: So, can you talk a little bit about … I think you mentioned this earlier but you aren’t necessarily focused on copywriting today. How has that transition been for you? I know you’ve been coaching all along and again we’ve heard so many positive comments about anybody who ever works with you, is coached by you. But was it hard to say I’m no longer focused on copywriting and I’m shifting to kind of burn that part of your career? How have you dealt with that, even just mindset-wise too, because that’s a big change. I know a lot of copywriters have had a hard time with that.
Angie: I’m glad you said that because that has been really hard too and I had found myself kind of in this cycle of here’s the income and the lifestyle I want to make, I found a client or clients that can help me get that, and then I’m unhappy because I’m spending all of my time servicing the client which that’s why you take their money, to help them, but then pushing my stuff to the back burner while I’m doing the work for them. So I get unhappy and I find a new client and then this process just repeats where I’m pushing my stuff off to the side so that I can earn money for them. So that was the first big disconnect that I had to make, and actually in January of this year, I walked away from a five figure a month retainer because of that. Like it was taking up all my time and I couldn’t work on any personal projects and I was just like, “Okay, this isn’t working for what I wanted.” I thought when we agreed to work together that I had communicated this is the time container I’m giving you and the rest of that is for personal projects because I have stuff over here I want to work on. But while I’m here with you, you’ve got 100% of me and then the rest of that time is mine.
It didn’t wind up working that way and that’s why 90-day trials, 60 to 90 day trials with retainers are I’m going to always harp on that. Find out if it works first before you commit to it for the long-term. That was scary, but I’ve got two clients that I’m on retainer with that they know I’m working on this podcast and this book on the side and that I do coaching calls and they’ve designed their companies to be not time-dependent, so I don’t have to be in the office or at my computer at certain times. As long as I get my work done, then that’s all they really need from me, and I think the world is moving that way which is great. There are a lot of places that are a little bit less tied to 40 hours a week and prove that you have been sitting on your behind in a chair. That’s great, yeah.
It’s still an adjustment period, I’ll be honest because I cut my teeth copywriting in Silicon Valley and it was hustle and grind and just work yourself into the ground and I have burnt out a couple of times and so I am in this sweet spot now where I can do probably 10 to 15 hours a week of retainer work, do some exploring since I’m traveling full-time, do some coaching and some consultation for my clients and then spend the rest of the time trying to figure out how to grow my own podcast, how to get my book finished and out there, and how to grow my audience so that I can eventually make my own offers and like I said, walking away from client work was step one. Learning how to talk about myself in a way that felt authentic and didn’t feel braggadocious but also selling from my heels like I worked on a thing and it’s really hard, would you consider doing it? That’s the next growth journey too. Let’s just say if you ever coach with me on that, I understand that very deeply. Talking about yourself is hard.
Rob: You do so many things right, but what have you struggled with in your career?
Angie: That’s a good question. You go put me on the spot like that, Rob. I love it. Maintaining production levels when I don’t feel particularly motivated. I think that’s something that we all struggle with and that’s a function of discipline, not waiting for a muse. Sometimes you just have to figure out a way to break through the block and I don’t necessarily believe in writer’s block, I’m one of those antagonistic people. You just got to work through the blocks, otherwise, they have a way of just staying in place. Let’s see. Feeling really passionate about an idea and working really hard, especially in corporate, to build a case and the potential of what this is going to do and never really knowing if they were going to get what I was going for or if it was going to perform the way I hoped. I remember in the corporate office I had … I was just getting into direct response really deeply and really thinking about sales and I had done this email campaign that had generated almost $10 million. So I wanted to do something even bigger. What else can we do in marketing?
And I had figured out that the marketing department had figured out that our average spender that didn’t have a loyalty account made a $24.00 average purchase, and our loyalty account members made a $33.00 purchase, and our contractors, because it was a home improvement chain, made a $50.00 plus purchase every time they went in. So I had this idea of, “Okay, if we could send direct mail to contractors within a certain radius of all of our stores, if even 1% of them say yes and they come in and spend, that’s a huge win for the company.”
So, my copy chief bought off on it, the creative director and all the marketing heads bought off on it, but they needed me to take it to one of the executive suites for approval, and the executive in question did all but pat me on the head and call me a stupid girl, and he basically said, “Oh sweetheart, if we divert money from one of these capital projects for your little pet project, then we’re not going to have money for vital things like …” They were in the middle of a big renovation project bringing all the stores up to date, and I was just like, “Okay. How do you decide in a moment like that if the executive has some insight that you don’t versus no, I really believe this project could work and that you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot by sweethearting me out of the door here without hearing everything I have to say.” Thankfully in that moment, instead of thinking that he knew something I didn’t, I took that as a sign of, “Okay clearly he doesn’t understand what marketing means, which is invest for returns. This kind of direct response marketing, we can expect returns. There’s a system and a formula here that if you follow, you can reasonably expect returns and if you don’t get the returns that you want, you can usually dissect it and figure out where it fell apart.”
So yeah. Having to go against the grain in an office where there were a lot of old, buttoned down dudes in a stuffy corporate culture that were like, “You’re too emotional. You’re too passionate. This project isn’t going to work, it’s dumb.” And yet I could keep coming back to them and saying, “Look this project generated this many million dollars and this project did this many …” Okay, I’m still too emotional, okay, cool. I’ll just be over here, making millions of dollars. Don’t mind me.
Kira: Calm down, calm down all the emotions. You’re well-connected to so many different copywriters in the communities you’ve been involved in, you’re friends with so many at different levels. What would you say you’ve observed is one of the biggest challenges, maybe it’s a pattern that you see with even copywriters who have been at it for five years or more, but they’re still struggling with this one thing. Has that been brought to your attention?
Angie: Yeah, absolutely. I would say over-complicating things. We are marketers and so we tend to think that we don’t fall prey to marketing tactics but we’re actually probably the most susceptible to marketing tactics, even though we’re super smart people and we are super in the know. One of the marketing tactics that you may be familiar with is copywriters having a niche thing and I see so many people … Like I’ve got friends like Chris Orzechowski that owns Ecommerce Email Copywriting, but so does Summer and a couple of other people that focus in that space and there’s more than enough business for all of them. But I’ve seen people go, “Well, I can’t do ecommerce email because Chris already does that. So what else could I do?” Okay, there’s owning your piece of it and niching down and then there’s trying to find your one square inch patch on the face of the Earth that you could own that nobody else could do, and that one is kind of impossible whereas sharing space with other people is totally doable.
I actually had a podcast interview with Linda Perry who also does mindset and confidence work like I do, and we actually talked directly to that. Like how can two people who teach the same thing come together on a podcast, and the answer is she has her style, I have my style, there’s more than enough work to go around. I can’t possibly help all the people that I want to, even as much as I’d like to believe that I’m Superwoman. So it’s totally okay to operate in the same space as somebody. It’s totally okay to not have your one special weird trick or your secret proprietary thing, and the secret to success is showing up daily to do the work.
I see so many people that are freaking out about the software, the AI is coming and we’re going to be out of a job soon. Well, I don’t think a computer is going to replace me, but if you’re worried that you’re not differentiated enough, maybe that’s an opportunity for you to find a space that you can own and make a voice for yourself and put yourself out there, that way a machine can’t replace you. That sounds kind of mean to say, but like don’t be afraid to step up and own your humanity in that way because there’s always going to be people that prefer working with people. Even when the machines take over, especially when the machines take over.
So, I don’t know. The limitations that I see most people suffering from, myself included, are largely self-imposed. It’s not for lack of opportunity, it’s not for lack of people that have money to pay you. It’s just to circle back to mindset, having this narrow definition of what success is and being unable to see anything outside of it and so you don’t take a step that takes you out of your box and out of your comfort zone.
Rob: So, what’s next for you, Angie?
Angie: Hopefully I become Oprah’s favorite thing and I never have to work again. But barring that, I’m going to continue working on my own podcast which I would happily have you guys as guests on. It’s also called Permission to Kick Ass. That’s been an interesting learning curve in and of itself and I’m sure you guys know exactly what I’m talking about because it’s a lot of work to put on a podcast. More work than I realized when I first signed on, but now that I’m getting into a groove, it’s a lot of fun. I’m really kind of enjoying being a show host personality and letting my guests shine which is pretty cool. I want to get the book out there and just expand my coaching practice and then see where it takes me.
I’ll be honest, aside from being Oprah’s favorite thing, one silly little dream that I have for the future, and maybe I’ll see you there, is I want to host ridiculous retreats for entrepreneurs that play as hard as they work, and so I’m thinking in a post-COVID world, my first one might be around zorbing where you just jump into a plastic bubble and throw yourself downhill. That strikes me as COVID safe, but … Dreaming them up.
Kira: I’ll go Angie. Yeah, I mean that sounds fun. Just because you mentioned it, can you tell us a little bit about podcasting, like what has surprised you the most beyond how much work it takes because we know so many copywriters, you know them too, who are starting their own podcasts and it’s so exciting but also sometimes there are some surprises along the way.
Angie: Oh yeah. When I was gearing up for the launch, I found myself just hitting this blocker so many times of am I doing all this work and they’re going to hate it, and just kind of … So I wound up doing probably the laziest podcast launch ever where I just … I told people about it, I asked them to help me spread the word, and then I released an episode a day for a week and then shifted into my normal production schedule and it was fine.
Then I think a week or two later, I was struggling for the third week in a row to write the show notes and the promotion emails and I was like, “I’m a writer. What in the hell is wrong with you, Angie? Why can’t you just sit down and write this?” It was a good episode too, it’s not like I’m trying to pull nuggets out of thin air, there’s plenty of material in this episode, but I just couldn’t write the thing, and I finally realized that my conscious brain had associated getting this episode live with book episode, record episode, get it edited, write copy, send it out. Like five concrete steps, and I’m sure you guys are well aware, booking has 10 steps and recording has a few extra steps and then getting it all produced in the right … Each of these has 10 to 20 little sub-steps underneath it that I was kind of ignoring in my focus on the big task to get done, and so I actually … That night, when I was struggling to write it, said, “Okay, I’m not going to write it. I’m going to write in the morning. It’ll be fine, nobody’s going to notice.” Sat down and made a video for my team and was like, “This is everything I have to do to get one episode live. Help.”
They turned it into a SOP basically and said, “We can help with this, we can get you a VA for this. You have to do this part, and here’s where we could probably integrate Zapier and other tech tools to automate this a little bit more.” I think that’s one of the things that some of my guests have complemented me for because once they book through Acuity and it’s an automated system, then they get follow-up emails that prepare them for the podcast and introduce them to this weird format because I don’t have a set list of question which makes people really nervous. It’s just totally conversational style, and I’m like, “No trust me, it’s going to be fine. As long as we can talk like people, it will be a good episode, it’s fine.”
But I send them emails reminding them that this is coming up, we’re going to have our podcast next week, it’s going to be tomorrow, here’s what to think about, here’s how to prepare, and then we’re still working on automating the, “Okay, now your podcast is airing. Here’s how to promote for this and get people to listen to it.” But yeah, you just kind of have to wade into the messiness of it and figure it out as you go because there’s no way to know all of this stuff before you’re in the thick of it.
Rob: Angie, this has been awesome. You’ve done such an amazing job just sharing so much really great advice. Where can our listeners find you and tune into the podcast?
Angie: Fantastic. So my personal website is permissiontokickass.com, all one word, no special hyphens or anything like that. I have got an audio loop vantage for those of you who would want to hear more of my voice.
Kira: I saw that, I signed up for that.
Angie: Oh, did you? It’s called 10 Days to Business Badassery and it’s kind of the high level lessons that I’ve learned in putting together a business and figuring out how to transition from corporate to freelancing and obviously I release a new podcast episode every week. It’s kind of astonished me how fast this has blown up. I will have to include a link because the link is kind of messy, it’s not really easy for me to just say, “Hey, go here.” But if you search for Permission to Kick Ass on all major streaming platforms, it’s there, it’s getting rave reviews which makes me incredibly happy. You can find me on Facebook, Angie Colee, LinkedIn, Angie Colee. You’ll find that I talk a lot about my travels and my cat and less business on social platforms, but that may change. We’ll see. We’ll see.
Kira: All right, well thank you so much Angie for giving us your time and I am really excited to see you in-person at some point. Hopefully maybe at one of your new retreats or some event and so thank you for being part of the show. We appreciate it.
Angie: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Rob: That’s the end of our interview with Angie Colee. Kira, again, lots of things jumping out at me. You want to go first? What stood out to you in this last half of the interview?
Kira: Yeah, well I want to go back to this, maybe it was from earlier but Angie, when I think about copy chiefs, we get a lot of questions from copywriters about copy chiefing, and I’ve been a copy chief on projects and oftentimes we hear from other copywriters who have worked with Angie about how she is such a great copy chief. So I’m glad we had a chance to ask Angie some questions about her approach to copy chiefing because again it’s a question that pops up and I know she’s great at what she does and so I’m glad she kind of dug in and shared a little bit about her approach and I like that she shared that when she works with copywriters, she wants to help leave room for the junior copywriter on the project to solve problems their way and so I think that oftentimes we get stressed out as copy chiefs and we feel like everything has to be done my way and it has to be done in my style and my approach, and while it’s important to create structure and processes that work for you as the business owner and as the lead copy chief, it’s also really cool to add opportunities for your collaborators and junior copywriters to add to the project and to add their creativity and their own problem-solving abilities and not to feel like you have to micromanage them.
So that part of the conversation was really helpful to me since I copy chief and I think to anyone else who is a copy chief, to go back to that part of the conversation and get some tips from Angie.
Rob: Yeah, this is a lesson I could have used early on in my career. There was a time when I was in my agency days when I was promoted from copywriter to an associate creative director and suddenly –
Kira: That’s cool.
Rob: My input on a project went beyond the copyright and there was a designer who wanted to do some stuff, I don’t remember the specifics of the project. I just remember that she and I disagreed on the way that we should solve this problem. I was new in my role, so I had zero experience in chiefing or directing the project, and I just remember saying, “Well I’m the creative director so it’s going to be my way.” Which –
Kira: Did you say that?
Rob: I did, I did.
Kira: Oh my gosh.
Rob: I know, it was horrible, and the designer actually cried, which I feel terrible about.
Kira: You should feel terrible.
Rob: But I mean the point here is obviously I could have used what Angie is saying, it’s like you have to give room for people to have their input on a project and yeah, there might be a time where you have to make a call and it goes against what somebody else thinks. But I in that particular moment did not leave space for somebody else to try to work through the things that I thought were right. Like I didn’t have that conversation and we didn’t work it through. I was way too immature and too new in my role and didn’t know that thing. So anyway, that’s a really long way of saying I 100% agree and I think Angie’s approach, if you are going to copy chief somebody else or you’re going to creative direct somebody else’s work, leave them space to solve the problems, don’t solve it for them and don’t impose the control from above unless there’s some real outstanding need for that kind of direction.
Kira: And just don’t make them cry.
Rob: Yeah, don’t be a jerk.
Kira: Like Rob Marsh. Don’t be a jerk. Okay, I have so many questions for you about that, but we will not shift…
Rob: Yeah, that will be a different episode.
Kira: …the focus of this conversation. I’m just trying to picture if you made her cry as you were standing next to her or you sent a text message, we can talk about that later. Yes, and I think that’s really important. Like give your copywriters the guidance they need to be successful in the project, and let them know the parameters but they can also get there a different way and we can all learn from it, so that’s why I like copy chiefing is because I learn from the copywriters I work with and that to me is the biggest benefit beyond the support they can provide and the outcome and the success of the project at the end. It’s like it’s a learning tool.
Okay, so what else stood out to you from this part of the conversation?
Rob: Oh, there are definitely more mindset lessons. So Angie shared the experience with Jeff where she was waiting for feedback for a couple of days and the advice that he gave her to stand out and then letting her know that she’s okay, that you can’t create from a place of scarcity or of anxiety or when you’re worried, about things and so you just have to make that shift in your mindset. Be present and be excited about the work and be ready to move forward, even if things don’t always turn out the way that you want to or you’re not getting the feedback that you need immediately and there’s so much head trash around rejection or this fear of failure and the more we can push that away, I’m not necessarily sharing great ways to do that, but when we can do that, then we’re able to operate out of a place of creativity, of generosity and the work that we do is just so much better and I think again, a great takeaway from some of the stuff that Angie is talking about.
And another thing that really jumps out at me too is the story that Angie shared about … I can’t remember if it was Home Depot or where but this home improvement place where she again identified a need, she did the work, she started solving a problem before others even knew that there was a problem. I love that approach. Now she obviously was shut down for all the reasons. Not senior enough, maybe it’s because of her experience or the person maybe was even just having a bad day, but that approach to work and helping our clients identify problems and solving them, figuring out how do you correct things that are going on and then being able to share that with a client, being able to do that in our own businesses, is really a huge step away from just being a service provider, just being somebody who writes the words, and towards becoming a business partner. Somebody who could be trusted to help their clients grow.
Kira: Yeah, and Angie shared towards the end of the conversation about how there’s space for all of us to do our thing, and her example that she gave us was how she had interviewed Linda Perry, another podcast guest on our podcast, on her own podcast. Even though Linda, Linda also focuses on mindset and confidence and does similar work to Angie, but Angie does not view that as a negative thing or as direct competition necessarily because everyone has their own unique style.
The same way Linda Perry has her own unique style and helps people and Angie has her own unique style and it’s just a really powerful reminder because especially in the copywriting space where we talked about this before but so many of us have our niche and there may be other people who do what we do and solve a similar problem and because so many of us do hang out and we know each other and we like to check out each other’s work and own marketing and we’re on each other’s lists, sometimes it feels like we shouldn’t do this one thing because someone else does it and we don’t want to get in their way or compete with them, and it feels like a negative thing. But Angie really reminds us that it’s not, like there’s so much work to go around for all of us and we don’t have to compete with each other in that way and everyone does have their own unique style. This is where your own humanity can shine through in the way that you operate and problem solve will be different than any other person out there and if you’re struggling to differentiate, maybe it’s just because you haven’t focused on your own unique x factor and giving that enough time and attention. Because it’s already there, but maybe you’re not highlighting it enough in your own marketing to differentiate you from everyone else out there.
But again, like Angie said, we all have it. We all have something unique to offer our clients that will attract the right audience. So let’s just make sure we’re sharing that if it feels like no one can see what we have to offer, but they see what so and so has to offer instead.
Rob: Yeah, and when you do that and start meeting other people, building a network, connecting and collaborating and treating this whole business not as one of competition but one where there are plenty of clients for everyone, that’s when other copywriters start sharing leads and pointing people to you who are maybe a better fit for you than they were for them. I’ve had this happen to me just this week where copywriters have reached out and said, “Hey, I’ve got a client that I think would be a great fit for you. Do you want to talk to them?” kind of thing, and it only happens because I’ve created some of those friendships and I’ve gone out there and of course reciprocate too with other opportunities for them.
So, one more thing, at the very end, Angie was talking about kind of this idea of podcast block. She didn’t necessarily call it that but just kind of getting stuck. I can totally relate to this, we’ve been doing this podcast now for five years. I think we literally recorded the first couple of episodes five years ago, maybe even this week, Kira, and like just knowing every step, there’s just a thousand things that go into everything and getting stuck. Again, I can relate to it, and pushing through … She described and getting things done, just another thing where I was just like, “Man, I love Angie’s approach,” and how she approaches her work is something that I can learn a lot from.
Kira: Well, where do you feel like you get stuck with the podcast?
Rob: There’s probably lots of places. I mean nowadays, because we have help with editing and getting stuff out, it oftentimes becomes just time to give the thought and research and time that it deserves sometimes can be a bit of a sticking point and I think you and I have talked about other ideas that we want to do for maybe different podcasts or different kinds of things that we can use our platform for and not having time for those kinds of things, again, because every step has a thousand other steps in it. So there are lots of little things like that.
Kira: Yeah, I think the key when it comes to podcasting is just to keep it really exciting and interesting for you. Whether that’s for Angie and her podcast, so many copywriters we know are launching podcasts or have their own podcasts and it does get hard and sometimes if you’ve done it long enough too, it’s not that it gets boring, but I know for us, like we have to keep it kind of new and exciting, otherwise, all of a sudden, it’s like, “Well is this really worth the time? Is this worth our team working on it and what we’re paying our team to work on it?”
So, I like that our team has figured out how to keep it interesting to the two of us and the big change that we’ve had recently which if you listen to the show, you’ve already notice is that we add commentary like this to every episode and now Rob and I are no longer in a monogamous relationship. We have other people co-hosting with us, and it’s fun, and we get to bring in these co-hosts who get to add their own perspective and personality to the shows, and like for me, I love chatting with you Rob about the shows, but you and I talk a lot, and so it’s been really fun to pull in these other experts and get to not only reconnect with old friends and copywriters we haven’t chatted with for a while but just make the show that much better and so I think if you have a podcast or this could apply to any type of media form, what can you do to keep it interesting and useful and exciting for you and maybe also in the process simplify because by us having other co-hosts, that means that Rob and I don’t have to be on every podcast episode which means we can get that time back to work on other things too.
Rob: Yeah, and if you’re listening to this and thinking, “Hey, I have an idea for Rob and Kira, what would make the show better,” send them to us. Let us know. Email us and tell us because we’re always looking for ways to make this show not just funnier or more interesting but more useful to you and your businesses.
Kira: 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 liked what you’ve heard, your feedback and support is greatly appreciated. Head over to Apple Podcasts to leave a review.
Rob: And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out Episode #208 with Ian Stanley. We talked in depth about mindset and copywriting with him and of course we’ve talked about mindset a couple of times with Linda Perry who we’ve mentioned, once on Episode 108 where she talked about her suitcase technique and again on Episode #234. Don’t miss out on those episodes. If you like what you heard today, those are a pretty good follow-up to that conversation. And if you’re thinking about joining us for TCCIRL in 2022, seats are limited to the room that we have. So we’ll link to this in the show notes but you can go to thecopywriterclub.com/tccirl-2022 to get your tickets. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next week.