Brand expert and one-woman SNL skit, Rachael Kay Albers is our guest for the 160th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Fitting all the characters Rachael plays on her YouTube channel into the TCC studio wasn’t easy, but we managed. In addition to meeting several of the characters from her show (hey, Rachael’s mom and Brad!), we also talked about:
• how she went from law school to business comedian and content writer
• how Rachael found her first clients (it has to do with cam shafts and pepper spray)
• going from small clients to internet sensation (wigs played a part)
• what she did to grow her authority and get attention
• how her internet show has helped her grow her business
• the time required to produce a high-quality video show
• the simplicity of her earlier shows and how she evolved as she got better
• the different characters who show up on Rachael’s show
• the truth about how comfortable Rachael is on every show
• how to use comparison, exaggeration and specifics to be funny
• brand strategy and what Rachael does for her clients
• how she helps clients discover a brand that reflects who they really are
• the questions to think through as you develop your own brand
• the tools she uses to help her clients develop really good content
• how she collaborates with the different people on her team
• the other tactics she’s used to grow her business (besides the web show)
• the mistakes copywriters are making when it comes to marketing
We also talked about speaking on stage, the change she’s making to her business moving forward, and the future of copywriting. Want to hear it? Click the play button below or subscribe with your favorite podcast app. Prefer to read? Scroll down for a full transcript.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Upwork
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kira: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes, and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the club for episode 160 as we chat with content strategist and business comedian, Rachael Kay Albers about how she became the One-Woman Saturday Night live of business comedy, what it takes to build an unforgettable brand, the different kinds of humor that copywriters can tap into for themselves and their clients and creating content that people want to see.
Kira: Hey Rachael.
Rob: Hey Rachael.
Rachael: Well, hey there. How are you doing?
Kira: Welcome. I feel like I ever wrote the same for recorded that. I feel like I’m in the room with the celebrity, like an SNL celebrity.
Rob: Or 10 celebrities. 10 different celebrities.
Rachael: It’s so mutual. Yeah, there’s about 30 of us here. I got wigs and for every voice I do I’m putting on in different wigs. So just imagine that.
Kira: You’ve got great wigs and great costumes, which I definitely want to talk about. But let’s kick this off with your story. How did you end up as a creative director / digital strategist / business comedian?
Rachael: Well, I kind of came at it backwards. Because, the whole thing these days is… The dream is to quit your day job and go live in a beautiful place and drink Margaritas in a hammock. But I actually did kind of the opposite way. I was in law school, 10 years ago and it wasn’t working out. It was a bad move. It was the wrong choice. And I had done an internship in Southern Mexico, where I kind of learned about this type of theater that was being used as a tool for social change. And I was really attracted to that. So I decided to move to Mexico. And in order to do this non-profit work with theater and the arts and youth, and while I was there, I’m like, okay, so how do I stay here? I do I get some tacos. How do I keep doing this thing?
I had a background in marketing, I had a background in coding and design. And so, I decided to kind of hang my shingle. But it wasn’t because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It wasn’t because I was wanting to be a digital nomad. It was because I wanted to keep living in Mexico doing that work. And kind of fell in love with entrepreneurship. In the beginning I did not care about my business. I was like, whatever. I didn’t care about the online marketing world. I did my things, shut off my computer and I was done living my life.
But along the journey, I kind of fell in love with doing this work and running my own, what became a mini agency and… So that’s all she wrote. Here we are today.
Rob: Yeah. So before we jump all the way to where we are today, I’m really curious the switch and how you found your first clients. I can totally relate to the, law school was a mistake thing. I didn’t actually get into law school, but I took the LSAT, I had applied and fortunately my career took a different direction. Obviously, there’s something big that happens there as you decide to do something different. What did you start doing and how did you find your first clients?
Rachael: Well, before there was Upwork, there was something called Elance, where you could go on and find various odd digital jobs. And that’s exactly what I did. And in the early days, I was doing everything from copywriting and ghost writing to transcribing classic car videos. I learned a lot about cam shafts and torque and doing these weird jobs. I wrote back when it was popular to write these keyword-stuffed articles. I wrote keyword articles about mace and pepper spray. And I mean, I did it at all and I designed websites and I wrote courses for my clients and scripts for their webinars. And so, it was on Elance, just various odd jobs.
Rob: That’s awesome. Okay, so how do you go from lancer then to business comedian? Because, there’s another big shift there.
Rachael: You know what? I don’t know. So I got a few… As happens with these types of sites and kind of getting your first class, you get a few clients, the ball starts rolling, they start telling their friends. And then I was able to quickly stop getting jobs like that. Stop getting those $20 for a hundred keyword articles or stuff like that. And started really niching down into focusing on brand strategy and web design and development and overall content strategy. And that’s what I started to focus on. And that’s what I did up until I left Mexico, which was end of 2016.
When I got to the States, suddenly this whole world opened for me, that I didn’t have when I was working remotely out overseas. Because the internet speed is just a totally different universe down there. I think I have 10 megabytes per second or less. I was working on down there, it was like training in high altitude. Because I come back to the States where everything is lightning speed. Now suddenly, I can do video, I can access tools and things that I wasn’t able to do down there.
So I just started messing around with Facebook Live and my Facebook Live show was like me hopping on as a talking head, just chatting about marketing for 20 minutes every Wednesday. I started playing around with some different kind of funny formats. I did a live musical couple of years ago, Facebook live, the musical jumped on and literally performed a One-Woman Musical. I had costume changes, all of it was live. People freaked out. They loved it. It got tons of traction.
And that’s when a little bell road gate went off for me and I said, okay wait, wait, wait. It’s not enough to just be talking about marketing, It’s this entertainment value that really is the key to getting people to come back and share and comment and engage. So, that’s when I started… That’s when I bought a bunch of wigs. Bought a bunch of wigs, just got a green screen and decided to play around with bringing some characters into the show and people loved it. And that’s how I decided to pivot this show to becoming kind of like a little sketch comedy business show my show Awkward Marketing and gave myself the, business comedian. I just decided, that’s what I am. I am a comedian that talks about business. So, let’s put a ring on, you know what I’m saying? So, yeah.
Kira: So once you realized that you wanted to take the show to the next level and you bought all your wigs, what else did you do to really put it out there and put more attention into that show?
Rachael: Well, when I first brought the wigs out for their first walk around the catwalk, I did a huge big… It was actually two years ago, or was a couple of years ago. It was during Halloween. I did this huge five day promotion and I ran a giveaway and I put a ton of energy behind. I put ad money on it because I wanted to make sure if I was putting a ton of production into the videos that I was actually getting eyeballs on them, and I wasn’t just relying on the organic stuff. And that was enough to get people’s heads turned, so that when I debuted a full new season in this format, people were ready. Because I was building my list through giveaways and promotions and that kind of thing. So that when I kind of came out as, all right, this is the new format of the show formally, I had people kind of ready and waiting for it.
Rob: Awesome. So as you do the show, how does that impact your business? Do you find the… Clients see the show and they come to you or does it go the other way? How do they all come together and how does that play such a… I guess, what is the place that that plays in your marketing for your business?
Rachael: Yeah, so Awkward Marketing serves a few different purposes for me. Number one, before I had the show, I had kind of gotten this name for myself as the website girl. Okay. And I really wanted to distance myself from that, because when I work with my clients it’s so… We spend months together before we ever touch the website part of the project, working on brand strategy, working on marketing strategy, working on content strategy. So I needed it to be very clear to the world that when you’re hiring me, you’re hiring so much more than a web designer. Right?
And so, it’s fulfilled that purpose. It’s very clear now, people understand my brand about all these different things that I’m bringing to the table. So, it’s done that job and it continues to bolster that. The other thing I wanted to do was to be able to provide free content to the folks who were starting to be priced out of working with me one on one. Because as my prices have risen over the years, there’s so many newer entrepreneurs. And this is really a target audience of the show is, entrepreneurs in the first five years of business. Although certainly industry peers and colleagues love the show because they really relate to some of the bits that I do.
But the core audience that gets the most value out of the nuggets, are the newer entrepreneurs who, not only can they not afford me. I will tell them they shouldn’t afford me or someone like me in those early age. You don’t need to be dropping 5, 10, 15, $20,000 on your web presence in your marketing strategy in those first few years of business. And so, I wanted to create a resource for them.
And then third, the show helps me to train my clients to be better clients before they’re my clients, if that makes any sense. So, have you watched my show before you do become a client, you’re kind of indoctrinated, if you will, into my mindset and into my worldview and how I approach marketing. So, when you do become a client… And yes, I do attract quite a few clients through the show. People come to me and they have binge watched the show and then they want to hire me. They already know what to expect in many ways and they’re better clients. They’re there in the head space to really do this gritty marketing work.
Kira: So what is the production time look like for your show? And realistically the amount of time you have to put into it. And then what advice would you give to other copywriters who want to start a high production show? Similar to yours, maybe their own unique style, but at that high professional level. What advice would you give to them to start it off the right way?
Rachael: Kira, you do not want to know how many hours I’ve put into the show. And-
Kira: I mean, I love it. So it looks like a lot of time.
Rachael: It’s not. I would love to say that we’ve gotten it down to a science and in many ways I have. I batch out all of the different phases of producing the show. I don’t do it all at once, I do it in batches. But the reality is, it is a lot of time because it is my main marketing vehicle. It’s probably more time than any normal person would want to spend on their content. And I do… People ask me all the time, do you outsource this or that? And certainly I have help from my team in terms of putting together social graphics and scheduling posts and some of the promotional stuff. But when it comes to the show itself, I am writing it, I am performing it, I am editing it, I’m producing it. That’s all me.
And the reason is, because of the production value, it would be ridiculously unaffordable for me to get anyone to work on the show for me. But, I will say that with a little Asterix on it, it is a form of creative expression. People ask, ‘What are your hobbies?’ I don’t know, this is my hobby. I do this for fun as well as for business. It kind of checks both boxes. So I’m cool with the time that I put into it.
But here’s the advice I would give to somebody who wants to start a high production show. Everything I’ve done in this show has been in layers, right? So the show started in its humble roots as a really basic talking head, boring Facebook live show. That’s where it had to start. That’s where I had to start testing out content and tone and approach to see what I wanted to invest in next. And then I just kept layering and layering and layering, little by little, every week, every season. Because I have seasons of the show adding a new level of complexity onto it.
So, as I said, I started as Facebook live and then I moved in, I bought a green screen. So then I’ve figured out how to work a green screen. My early stuff is very simple, because I was just figuring out how to do the darn thing, right? Then I started layering on sound, making sure my sound was higher quality. And upping my production quality in terms of the video and in terms of my editing techniques. This last spring, I did a five episode series called the Top Five Worst Websites and every day was a different example of a bad website. And I did a Honey I Shrunk the Kids parody and a Jurassic Park parody. And that was the level of production on that. And editing, I could not even have dreamed of a couple of years ago.
So I wouldn’t jump into that complexity. I just, every single episode was like, okay, this episode is when I’m going to learn how to do a YouTube end screen. And this episode is what I’m going to learn how to do more fancy animations. And that’s how it has been doable. Instead of… I couldn’t have started where I am today, nor would I advise that. It’s just start simple. And then every time you do a new piece of content layer on one more level of complexity.
Rob: So Rachael, for people who haven’t seen your show, we should tell them, there are a lot of characters who make appearances in your productions. You mentioned the number of wigs that you own, the outfits. Do you have a favorite character? And maybe you could introduce us to a couple of the characters who show up, and give us a sense of the awkward things that they’re teaching about.
Rachael: Well, one of my favorite characters happens to be my mom. Sarah, G. Hi. Hello, great to be here guys. I don’t fully understand what a funnel is, but I’ll turn it around and I’ll put it in my car. So my mom is one of my favorite characters, and she is such a good sport about it. I’ve got a mom wig and a whole mom outfit and she’s a recurring character on the show. She comes back again, again, she’s a crowd favorite and she starts to get mad if she doesn’t see her on herself on the show for a certain time. She’s like, ‘Well, where-
Rob: In real life, real mom get mad
Rachael: … why I’m in herein here? What’s going on Rich. So she’s a crowd pleaser. And then my other fave who not, only is a character on my show, but I actually bring him with me live when I do keynote speaking, is Brad, ‘Brad the braggy bro. My name’s Brad Brusuckuss. I’m a growth hacker, scale King.’ So Brad, the braggy bro, he’s a favorite character and he’s a good example of… He was one of my first characters that I ever devised. He was in my top five Awkward Marketing characters. That is how I kicked off this whole comedy thing, was to kind of just tear apart the awful sleazy, manipulative marketing that we see out there. Shine a light on it and say there’s got to be a better way.
And so, that’s really the point of the show in many ways. It’s kind of shine a light on marketing mistakes. Or, what we’re told in the online marketing space is the rule. And to just take that rule and burn it and then take it out back. That’s what I do on the show. And so, Brad is a great example of, ‘You, we all know a Brad, we all knew five Brad’s.’ We see their ads in our feeds and so, he’s really fun to make fun of. Because everybody’s irritated by the Brad’s of the world. So, yeah.
Kira: So, it might be easy for someone to watch your show or to hear you on the podcast and just say, ‘Yeah, Rachael can do this show. It’s full of personality and this comedy sketch show, because she’s always had a big personality, really. She’s been a comedian and it’s just easy for you.’ What would you say to them? I mean, is it truly just easy for you and part of who you are and you’ve always been? Or is it something… Is it almost like a skill that you’ve had to learn over time to really bring in these characters and pull in their personalities and show up in this big way?
Rachael: So the character piece, definitely, is just how I exist in the world. If you’re sitting down with me for coffee and I’m telling you a story, I’m automatically doing voices and kind of just… My face is turning into rubber. And so that part is definitely comes naturally, I will admit. Certainly there’s a level of comedy that can be learned, but that’s just kind of a part of how I exist.
However, what I would say is, before I ever started getting on video, I was freaking terrified. And this surprises a lot of people. Because they see me out there being ridiculous like it’s my job, because it is, and they just assume that that part of it, the visibility piece of it, and the getting out there and… It’s not just about doing the characters, but doing them for the world in this particular way, was extremely uncomfortable for me to begin and continues to be extremely uncomfortable.
Every time I released an episode, I’m extremely nervous. And so, the visibility piece, I think whether you’re an extrovert and a theater kid like me, or you’re an introvert and visibility, it’s tough for all of us. So, I think that piece of the puzzle, I really had to warm up into. And that’s why it was good to kind of start with those very basic, simple talking head live videos. Because then I got super comfortable with being visible and in a live setting, you know people are theoretically watching right now. And so, doing that week after week, I think I did 30 episodes before I turned this into a pre-produced show, where I was putting on the big red button every single Wednesday, really help train me. So by the time I started to do with the pre-produced show, I was very, very comfortable on camera.
Rob: Obviously, you’ve made comedy a big part of your brand and how you interact with potential clients. You’ve talked about comedy, I think in some of your keynotes, the different kinds of comedy that we can use as writers. Will share a few of the ways we might be able to approach comedy maybe in a different way than you do, but we can put that to use for our clients and in our own businesses?
Rachael: Yeah, sure. I mean, I’ve got a couple rules that I like to lay out when I teach people about bringing humor and comedy into their copy, into their brand and even into their design. And one of the rules I like to whip out first is, sprinkle, don’t spray. So before I even talk about what are the types of humor that you can use in your brand and in your marketing, I like to start with, people get really nervous because they’re like, ‘Oh I’m not naturally funny. Or I don’t want to be perceived as not taking this thing that I’m selling seriously or the problem that my clients are facing seriously. And I like to say a little goes such a long way.
You don’t have to be a comedian getting up at the mic when you’re writing your web copy to bring a smile pitch to people’s face, and give them a dash of humor and make them feel warm and immediately kind of feel that human connection with you. So sprinkle, don’t spray. And really focusing on lightness over hilarity is my first recommendation. So it doesn’t always have to be laugh out loud, funny.
In fact, if you are not unnatural jokester for example, if comedy doesn’t come naturally to you, I wouldn’t start with pushing that too hard. I would start with just trying to warm up your copy, warm up your messaging with more human language. Because even that in and of itself, ends up, feeling funnier to people and just feeling warm and feeling human. Because I like to say, humor is a way that we naturally relate to each other as human beings. We want to laugh when you meet someone at the grocery store or at a networking event, even if what the person is saying to you is in laugh out loud, funny, our tendency is to smile. Our tendency is to laugh. Our tendency is to find the warmth and the humor in just little tiny micro communication.
So, just adding that lightness and just a little bit of human language is, I think, the first step. Different types of humor that you can use. Comparison is a really good one. And so, if you remember that old… Was it an Apple ad? Yeah, I think it was an Apple ad with that Justin guy. Now, I can’t remember his name, but it was an ad from 10 years ago, where you had this cool young hip guy. He was representing the Mac and then you had this old kind of stodgy, awkward guy and he was representing the PC. And they use these two kind of funny characters to show us this is the difference between a Mac and a PC.
And just the contrast between those two things and the way that they were using people to compare basically computers and the superiority of Mac over PC or whatever. That was a really funny humorous device. Another device that I see a lot and that I think is super easy to employ in copywriting is exaggeration. So when you’re writing ad copy, for example, exaggeration is a great way of kind of bringing some humor to describing your client’s pain points. For example, Oh, are you so tired that the last time you slept was 1999 right before Y2K. I mean, that is the dorkiest joke ever. I’m doing this on the spot guys.
Improv isn’t my number one thing, but that’s an example of exaggeration, right? Of just taking something and stretching it. And that’s something that I’m always finding myself going to when I’m writing an email. I’ll kind of write the body of an email and then I’ll be like, okay, where can I find the places where I can stretch out an example and really take it to the extreme, so that it becomes ridiculous and somebody really focuses on that and it brings a smile to their face.
This isn’t exactly a type of humor, but another thing. And I think… You guys have talked with Laura Belgray of Talking Shrimp, right?
Rob: Oh yeah, for sure.
Rachael: Yeah, I think I was listening to her episode on your show a couple weeks ago. I was just ‘brushing up.’ But Laura Belgray talks a lot about using specifics in your copy. And I think maybe she talked about that on your show where instead of saying, Oh, I was eating a sandwich with my friend, you can say, I was eating half a soggy tuna fish sandwich and a bag of Fritos with my friend Karen. Suddenly just the use of those specific details, in many cases, especially depending on the rest of the tone of the message that you’ve got, just adds a little bit of humor. Because we relate to it and we see it and we can picture it in our minds. And depending on the specific examples you use, that can even be a form of exaggeration, right?
So those are a few of the go to’s: comparison, exaggeration, just taking things to the extremes and finding ways to be specific. I just wrote an email yesterday where I was like, ‘Karen, you know, even your mom’s friend Karen with the embroidered cats sweatshirt who loves essential oils, will think dot, dot, dot.’ And that is a specific description using the Laura Belgray technique. But the way that I described it and the specific details that I chose to run in are bringing in our humorous. Right?
Kira: All right. So I love these tips and you’re talking a lot about your copy. But I also know that you’ve mentioned this, you focus on brand strategy design. There’s a lot you do for your clients in your business. So can you just give us an overview of where you spend your time and your business and if you’ve… It sounds like you have a team, what your team is focused on in your business as well.
Rachael: Yes. So, people come to us when they’re doing a big rebrand, a big shift in how they want to be seen and experienced online mostly. And so, what we’ll start off with, is overarching brand strategy. How do you want your brand to show up in the world? How do you want to be remembered when people are talking about you? What the heck are they saying? And then that bridges into naturally content strategy. Because then, typically, it’s part of a rebrand. We’re doing design work but it’s… And we’re focusing on the web presence.
So before we’re going to plan out your brand new website and all of the bells and whistles we’re going to put on it, we want to get clear on what’s the messaging on that website and how are you going to, not with just the evergreen website content, but how are you with your blog, with your podcast, with the ongoing content you’re putting out, how are you going to bring people to your site again and again? How are you going to earn their trust? How are you going make them remember you? So then we’ll focus on content strategy.
And then, once we’ve gotten that out of the way, that’s when we have the fun of doing design. So we will do that whole process with people. And I’m the creative director, so I’m the idea lady. I’m looking at the big picture. I am working one on one with the client. And then I bring in my team to help me implement things like, ‘Okay, now that we’ve got the big vision for the brand strategy, for the content strategy, what’s the design going to look like? What’s the copy going to look like?’ So even though I write my own web copy, I do not write copy for clients. I do create a direct that with copywriters that I bring on board to the projects. And I’ve got various other people on my team, designers as well as developers to help me implement the strategy that we put together.
Rob: So your own brand is really humorous, obviously, and has a lot of these other characters in it. But I imagine that’s not the case for most of your clients. In fact, my guess is that humor probably doesn’t work for a lot of clients or at least not outrageous humor. So talk to us about how you separate your thinking about branding and how you treat your brand from those of your clients. What do you do to draw their particular brand out of them, so that you can move forward with the content strategy and the fun design that you’re doing?
Rachael: Yes, you’re totally right that most of my clients aren’t humor brands, nor do they want to be. Although, a lot of people are attracted to me because of that. And they want a little bit of the sprinkle of that, if you will, in their brand. And I am never going to impose or enforce an outrageous approach to brand or content strategy just because I do it. In fact, I’d rather not like, ‘Hey, I got this locked down guys. You can do something else.’ I’m kidding. But really what the focus is, and what I say again and again is we help people create epic unforgettable brands.
In my case, this is what that looks like, it looks like a wall of wigs at a green screen and getting on cameras. The One-Woman SNL biz comedy. But for my clients, being epic and unforgettable takes so many forums. I just talked to a client this morning and we were talking… She’s an introvert. And in fact, I attract a lot of introverts. So people who never in a million years would want to show up the way I’m showing up in the world. But what they’re attracted to in me is the fact that I am confidently planting a flag and going full out with the direction that I’ve chosen. And that’s what they want my help with themselves. They need the help to feel more confident in planting their flag and being known for something and being unforgettable.
So I had this client this morning who was asking me like, ‘Okay, as an extrovert, how are you going to help me?’ And I think that actually, there’s a really wonderful synergy that happens when you bring people of different personality types like, ‘I’m going through a rebrand right now and my brand strategist is more of an introvert.’
So it works really nicely that she being introvert and me being the extrovert, there’s some melding of energies that comes together, and that she’s able to look in an intuit things about my brand from philosophy and way of looking at the world that I don’t see. Because I’m operating at this full blast level. And vice versa, when I’m working with my clients who are more often more intuitive, often more observant, and they’re spending more time listening than they are talking, I can kind of look at them and observe and say, Hey, here’s where you’re going to plant the flag, here’s your talking point, here’s the thing that you’re going to be known for.
So, I’m kind of looking for the things about… This is how any brand strategy works, right? You’re not inventing a brand from nothing. You’re figuring out what it is about your client that people love more than anything else. And let’s double, triple, quadruple down on that. Helping people discover that. And I think that a lot of people struggle with, because they will self identify one way. They’ll be like, ‘Well I want to be known for this.
And this is why you need an outside person to help you with your branding, and your messaging, and your content. Because what you want to be known for, what you think you should be known for, what you feel comfortable saying you are and do, does not and often… Most of the time doesn’t always line up with how other people see you and perceive you. So that’s my job, is to kind of, I like to say, become your brand’s best friend and see the little light inside you that other people love. And then let’s dial that up. Let’s put some gas on that thing. And it doesn’t mean we’re putting wig gas on the… It’s just about dialing that up according to your energy, according to how you exist in the world and doubling down on that thing.
Kira: And for newer copywriters that maybe they got to save up a little bit before they hire you or some other brand strategists to work with, are there some questions they should think through on their own in order to just figure out what that thing is, what the it factor is in their own brand?
Rachael: I think one of the things you can pay attention to is what do you find yourself repeating again and again and again that gets your clients to be like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the thing.’ I think that, typically, we get ourselves into these groups where we are saying the same thing over and over again to people. That’s typically, when we’re in our genius zone. And/or, when we are at the intersection of our expertise and what the marketplace really needs. Right?
So if you’re repeating yourself over and over again, you’ve kind of hit upon your strengths zone, but then also what other people… What their pain points are, right? And so, that’s a good place to start. I will say this, my best content comes from the stuff that pisses me off. Okay? People are always asking me, ‘How did you come up with this Rachael? And how do you come up with this joke? And I’m like seriously, it’s the stuff that boils my blood and makes me want to call my best friend and get on a rant and go get a gallon of wine and cry myself to sleep.
That’s the stuff. Because when I hit on that, I’m realizing number one, I’ve hit on one of my brand values. I’ve hit on something that’s vitally important to me. If I see something that’s like, for example, Brad, Brad the braggy bro, my Brad character. He came out of something that I was seeing in the marketplace again and again that was making me so angry. Slick, sleazy marketers taking advantage of people’s desire to build their businesses so that they’re willing to part with tens of thousands of dollars for the quote unquote secret. And then scamming them. Right? So, that made me angry.
But instead of going in penning a Facebook rant about it, I decided to turn it into something constructive, turn it into something that’s going to make the industry better, that’s going to help people and be the change that I want to see in my industry. Right? And so it helps you hit on one of your brand values. And as I said, then it also shines a light on… This is something that my industry needs to hear. And that isn’t being said enough.
So, I don’t know if this is directly answering the question about the it factor, but I think part of the it factor comes from dialing into your messaging zone of genius. And how I’ve dialed into that, is by paying attention to what makes me mad and what boils my blood and the stuff I would never get caught dead doing. And then saying, Oh, what is the lesson that I can bring to my clients? What is the way that I can contribute meaningfully to my industry? I’m not going to go whine about this. I’m not going to go complain about it. I’m going to do something better. I’m going to turn it into a funny episode. We’re all going to have some fun and I’m going to leave marketing a little bit better than I left it. You know what I’m saying?
Rob: Yeah, for sure. So once the branding is done, as you’ve gone through this process and maybe even the design is done and you’re starting to put together content strategies for your clients. I’m curious, what kinds of tools do you give your clients so that they can reflect their brand into the content they create? And maybe a secondary question to that is, what makes really good content, the stuff that people just can’t wait to consume beyond humor?
Rachael: Oh man, this is a chewy one Rob. Well number one. In terms of tools, I know that you just had Justin Blackman on the show, and one of the first things I would do is once we have the overarching brand strategy, I’d be like, maybe we should bring in Justin to create a voice guide for you. Because Justin has this amazing brand ventriloquist voice guide that he does, where he looks deeply into the content of a brand and then is able to create a whole manual for, okay, how do you… So that you can train your team and bring on copywriters to take that messaging and run with it.
Because we will create kind of a basic voice guide, but that is like the cat’s pajamas. That’s another level. And so, sometimes it does mean bringing in, even outside of my own copywriters, bringing in specialists who are going to help with the implementation long term.
So, one tool I give them. We’ll also, in the early content planning stages, we will create a whole visual map of what their content is going to look like for the next year. So we’ll break it down into months, we’ll break it down into weeks, we’ll break it down into topic areas. So they’ve got something tangible they can run with. So it’s like, okay, I know what I’m writing about. I know what I’m creating content on for the next year, now I just got to do it. So those are some of the tools that I bring in with people.
Okay. Part two, Rob, would be, what makes for great content? Well, you need some wigs and you need a green screen. No, I’m kidding. No. What makes for great content, I would say, I think the holy grail of content, is when you can bring entertainment and education together, right? And it doesn’t have to be comedy. There’s so many ways that you can entertain people and that you can grab their attention, other than just comedy. Right?
And so, I think if you can get people to forget they’re consuming content… I see with copywriters a lot, for example, on a bazillion copywriting email lists, right? I’m always getting these emails, like email 432, ‘why you need a content strategist.’ Or something like that. And it’s like nobody cares. Why are you giving me content that purely serves for you to sell your services to me? Or content strategy 101. Boring, No. I’m not going to take a class on what content strategy is right now. In this email newsletter like, please spare me.
So I feel like if you… Even by adding a little bit of humor or by finding a way of exploring the topic in a way that it hasn’t been explored before, I think a lot of people get hung up on how can I say something that hasn’t been said before? And I think that’s a lost cause. You can’t. Let’s just leave it at that. Everything has been said, people. I like to say, it’s not about what you say, but how you say it.
And so, just bringing in your unique perspective of voice, I know that’s super cliché, that’s going to put a unique spin on things. But this is where I like to go back to that what kind of stuff pisses you off. Because that’s the place where you’re going to be contributing a new perspective to your industry and have some fun with it. I mean, just to give a fun pop culture example, Jerry Seinfeld, when he started comedians in cars getting coffee. Isn’t that what it is? He didn’t just start an interview show, right? The interview show’s been done. He thought about a fun format for it. Let’s get these old vintage cool classic cars. Let’s go somewhere out in the world together. Let’s have an adventure. And I’m going to ask these comedians about their rise, their career trajectory and where they are and all that kind of stuff.
So, entertainment is… If you can merge entertainment and education, you’ve got the Holy grail of content.
Kira: All right. So Rachael, I know that you have… Do you have copywriters on your team or do you find subcontractors per project? What does that look like?
Rachael: I don’t have any employees on my team.
Rachael: Everyone is a subcontractor. But I do have a group of copywriters that I work with on a pretty… They’re with me all year. I bring them back again and again. So it’s not like I’m bringing new people in for each project. But yeah, everybody’s a subcontractor baby. And that’s how it’s going stay for the foreseeable future.
Kira: Okay. So, we’ve been talking a lot about collaboration and how to make it work with copywriters and different projects. From your perspective, what makes a copywriter a really great creative collaborator on a project? What works, what doesn’t work for you?
Rachael: When I’m working with our copywriters, we are in touch from the beginning of the project before any copies been written, before we’ve done any strategy, We’re talking before, during and after. And so, for me, there’s a lot of ways that copy and design go together. Some copywriters will do it that they will wait for the design to be done and then they’ll write the copy. In our case, we have the copy done first and then we do the design, because we want all of our design to be serving the message.
So that means, before I’m doing strategy calls with clients, the copywriter and I are having meetings. In the midst of the strategy, we’re having meetings. Before they write the copy, we’re having meetings. We’re going through the copy together before it sees the client, so that there’s a cohesive experience. And so, for the freelance pop copywriters working out there, I think finding partnerships with designers, you’re providing such a value. Because where I see copy and design specifically becoming mismatched, is a client will hire a copywriter and hire a designer and they’ll do it separately and typically on different timelines. And then the two don’t sync. And they’re not in service to each other and the designer is trying to fit a square peg in the round hole or vice versa. And so, I think collaborating from start to finish is super important.
Now in my case, I really value a copywriter that can fit into my process. Because what.. And that’s why I work with the same copywriters over and over again. Because now they’re part of the process and they understand it, and they’re in it. Because when I hate also having to happen is, in most of the time when we’re doing brand strategy, we’re asking some of the same questions that the copywriter’s going to ask, right? So that’s why I like to fold the copywriter into my process, so that we’re in communication, we’re not doubling up the same questions, the client doesn’t feel that they are doing the same homework twice and also they’re not being heard and they’re not being valued.
Here’s the thing that a lot of clients don’t expect when they go into a rebrand, is that it’s emotional work. Everybody gets super excited about a rebrand. Like, Oh I’m going to have a new copy and new colors, and new logo and new everything. But then actually, they have to take a magnifying glass to their business. And two weeks later, they’re having an existential crisis.
So the more we can kind of synthesize these the three pieces, the brand strategy, the copywriting and the design, the easier it is on the client and the happier the client is. So that’s really what I look for in a copywriter… And being able to go back and forth. And not having it be like, okay, the copy is done. And now that’s over and now we’re doing design, being able to have conversations midway through and say, hey, let’s tweak this lead magnet copy, can I move this around? Can you help me with this? Obviously, that extends the scope of a project for a lot of copywriters who will just do kind of, here’s the copy and I’m done.
But I think, building collaboration in with a designer, for example, into your proposals adds a mega value both to the designer and the team working on the execution of the rebrand or the sales page or whatever it might be as well as for the client.
Rob: So, with so many moving pieces, do you use tools as part of your process to keep everybody on the same page or are you using a VA? How do you keep everything straight so that it all happens on deadline, on time every time?
Rachael: I’m a basecamp girl, I’ve had base \camp for seven years. I know there’s sexier tools out there. Everybody loves tops out these days. But I’ve got everything locked into basecamp, and that’s how the magic happens. So, yeah.
Kira: All right. So, we talked a lot about your show and how you’ve been able to attract clients from your show. What is the other thing, other than the show that’s really helped you grow your business over the last, however many years and really gained traction over the last few years?
Rachael: I would say, I’ve started to move into more speaking. So doing keynote speaking and breakouts speaking and speaking more in events and conferences and even at different companies and incorporate. So, that’s been a big piece. I think that just in general, the theme is visibility. And again, this surprises people because I am such a drama queen these days. But I think in the early years of my business, I was hiding behind my computer. And I was hiding behind referrals, just kind of living in my little bubble. Just living off referral based business. And nobody knew who I was and nobody knew what was going on. And that’s a shaky place to be.
Because even though referral business is some of the best business to get because it’s kind of pre-sold or half sold before it comes to you. If you have someone you trust tell you, Hey you need to work with Rachael Kay Albers, you’re more likely to say yes to the proposal. Right?
But if that referral source dries up, whatever might happen, if they find someone else that they want to refer to, then you dry up, your business dries up. And so, when I started making visibility, whether it’s in my show, whether it’s in my blog, or in my email, just being consistent with email, being consistent getting out there and doing events, that has been the game changer for me. So, getting comfortable enough to get out from behind my computer and actually go out, whether it’s on video or in the real world and have people see my torrent face, which requires me to put on pants. Which is the most painful part of the whole thing, you know?
Rob: Yeah. There’s nothing worse than putting on pants every day. That’s awful. So Rachael, as you look out across the copywriting world, and you mentioned that you’re on a bunch of these lists. If you could wave a magic wand and kind of eliminate one mistake that we all seem to be making or one terrible thing that we should be doing better, what would that be?
Rachael: I would say, kind of living with your eyes and your ears shut. I think one thing that I see copywriters doing, is they kind of want to just live in the world of writing and they close themselves off to what’s happening in the marketing landscape. So, I have a friend who’s a copywriter and she was getting really frustrated, because she had all these clients coming to her from Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy. Right? She just launched this again, just a couple weeks ago, months ago. And a lot of her clients are coming to her and they’ve gone through Digital Course Academy and they’ve got this kind of mindset about their funnel and their email list.
And my friend, the copywriter was so frustrated. She’s like, I’m just not going to take any more clients who go through DCA because they have all these expectations and they want to talk about their opt-ins and their ‘I just want to write.’ And I’m like, girl, you’ve got to be paying attention to what’s happening in the online marketing landscape.
And I think this is not just true of copywriters, but anyone. You have to be dialed into what’s happening around you. Because when we talk about a website, the website in itself doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s stuff you’ve got to do before people get to the website. There’s stuff people do on the website, there’s stuff people do after they leave the website. And if you’re… So for me, web design being a big part of what we do, if I’m not understanding how that whole process works, I’m not going to build a website that’s going to serve my client as a tool.
So I think that copywriting is the same thing. You’ve got to be keyed in to what’s happening in social media, what’s happening in email marketing. You’ve got to have your finger on the pulse of what the big power players are saying, like it or not, right? Because I don’t love all of the famous names, I do love Amy Porterfield. I will say. I do have mad respect for Amy P. But there’s a lot of famous faces out there saying this or that about marketing. And I think the tendency is to just shut it off and to ignore it.
And I would say you got to have your finger on the pulse of that, even if all you’re doing is to be able to say to your clients, hey, I do it different and this is why. Because it’s going to get you X, Y, Z result. Because I’ve seen this or that. So I think, I’d like to see copywriters… There’s a lot of amazing copywriters who are already doing this. I’m not saying copywriting as a group are guilty of this, but I think copywriters will be well served and so are their clients if they had their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the online marketing landscape.
Kira: Yeah. So you mentioned keynote speaker, how did you start outputting yourself out there as a keynote speaker? I know some of that builds on previous speaking gigs and having a YouTube show definitely helps with booking speaking gigs. But I imagine… Well, did you start speaking on stage before you had the show or did you have the show first and that helped you step onto the stage?
Rachael: I had the show first before I started doing this formally as a piece of my business. And I’ll tell you what, my biggest mistake and biggest gift was going into it with a whole lot of ego and… I was like, well, I’ve got a bad run in theater. I know my stuff. I got this show. So people are going to beg me to get on their stage. No. Wrong. Okay. So, I went into the process with a ton of hubris thinking it was going to be super easy without realizing that the speaking game is its own universe, and I was essentially starting a second business. So that was a fun journey. That was a fun roller coaster, and I’m still on that roller coaster. Because it really has been… I’ve put a lot of time into investing into speaking as if I was starting a side hustle.
But just getting out there, I’ve got a lot of contacts in the speaking world now and again, it’s about keeping my finger on the pulse of how this industry functions. Because it’s a little different. And there’s two ways to approach speaking, speaking at conferences or events. And in that case, the benefit to you will probably not be in terms of payment, maybe you’ll get a stipend or you’ll get a small speaking fee. But speaking at conferences event, especially if you’re not at full… You don’t have a major name for yourself, that’s going to be good for visibility and clients, right? The goal of that should be getting new clients, getting people onto your list, that kind of thing.
And then the other side of speaking is speaking in corporate, speaking at companies coming in to speak to somebody’s marketing team about how to up-level their video content. And then in that case, you’re probably getting paid a little bit better, but you’re probably not walking away with many clients out of that. So, I’m kind of bridging both of those worlds right now. I’ve got my feet in both territories and kind of seeing where I want to go next with both of those things. But I kind of just got started by jumping in blindly with a ton of pride and no actual… And isn’t that the way to do it though? Isn’t that all do business? We started as really good, this is going to be great. I want to be a millionaire.
Kira: I think you have to start that way. Otherwise, you’ll never do it.
Rachael: Exactly. So, that was the blessing and the curse that has now… I’m like, what have I gotten myself into?
Rob: You mentioned trying to figure out what’s next in your speaking career. I’m interested in knowing what’s next for your business. Where do you go from here? What does the RKA show or the RKA business look like a year from now or two years from now?
Rachael: Oh man. So spoiler alert. I think you’re the first for me to say this. I’m just going to say it. I’m forking my brand. So RKA Ink, which is my agency that’s saying, we’re going to continue doing the branding services that I talked about before. But Rachael Kay Albers, the woman you’re listening to right now, I am creating a home for me and for my personal brand. Both of those things are kind of woven together right now, and it’s a little bit messy.
So now I’m going to have a home for the Done-For-You Services over at RKA Ink and then Rachael Kay Albers is where my show will live. That’s my speaking. That’s my consulting, my courses. So, I’m kind of branching those off into their own separate things so that there’s a little bit more of a separation of church and state, if you will. And to see, to be leaning… Because I would like to be leaning more in the direction of the Rachael Kay Albers side of things and letting my team grow and take on more of the Done-For-You stuff, which has been hard. Because I’m a control freak and I like having my hand in every single piece of the puzzle.
But as they say, what is the general wisdom, you need to focus on your area of strength. What can you, and only you do. Well, that’s the business comedy stuff. That’s the speaking, that’s the content. Only I can be doing that right now the way that I’m doing it. But it can only IB designing a logo or creating a content map. Probably not.
So hopefully a year from now, I’m doing a lot less of that, a lot more just traditional creative directing and I’m coming to a city near you.
Kira: All right. So we like to ask, maybe you’ve heard us ask this before. But, what does the future of copywriting look like to you?
Rachael: I really do think that the future, to go back to what I was saying before, callback, that’s a… You know what? Let me throw one more comedy trick in callbacks. If you could take something you talked about earlier and bring it back again and again, like a little device or a funny… If you talk about your mom’s friend, Karen with the embroidered cat sweatshirt, bring that back at the end of an email or the end of a page or the end of a blog post. People will enjoy that.
So call back to what I was saying before, I think copywriting and marketing in general, is moving into the direction of being just so much more human. And this is what the internet has done for advertising and marketing. People no longer have the tolerance for being talked to as the masses, right? Now that we have this personalized advertising coming to us, we no longer want to be treated like we’re just one in a sea of thousands. And so, people want to be talked to like people. And that is where copywriting is going, buttoned up stuffy business suit type language. We’re going to see less and less of that, even on buttoned up stuffy brand websites. That’s the truth.
So I think copywriting is becoming more human, more personal, more relatable. And as a result, more funny. And I’m here for it.
Rob: We’re here for it too. So, we’ve talked about your website, we’ve talked about your show. If people want to connect with you or learn more about you or see what you’re doing, where should they go, Rachael?
Rachael: Send me a message in a bottle. I’m typically by a large body of water most of the time. So, that’s a good way. But yeah, you can find me @awkwardmarketing.com. I’m Rachael Kay Albers is on Facebook and Instagram. Find me. call me. Text me. Send me a letter in the beak of a dove. I’m here for it all.
Kira: Yes. And if you have not seen Rachael’s videos, you have to see Rachael’s videos. You have to do that next. So, yeah. Rachael, thank you so much for hanging out with us and digging deeper into your processes and your business behind the show. I hope that we can see you soon at an event and meet you in person.
Rachael: Let’s chill. Let’s hang out.
Kira: Yeah, let’s do it. All right, thanks Rachael.
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive, available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript and links to our free Facebook community. Visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.