We’ve invited Kirsty Fanton back on the show for the 316th episode! Kirsty is an ex-psychotherapist turned launch copywriter and on top of running a thriving copywriting business, she’s also a new parent. Her expertise in the psychotherapy world makes her the best person to chat boundaries around not just navigating parenthood and business, but creating better boundaries for ourselves as a whole.
Here’s what you’ll find in the conversation:
- How Kirsty’s business has changed since our first interview with her.
- How TCC programs helped her business reach 6-figures and introduced her to an incredible network.
- The shift her business made since having a baby.
- Preparing for maternity leave and how creating a passive stream of income helped her business.
- The process to create an evergreen funnel.
- How to step back and look at your business from a strategic perspective.
- How she built a business that worked around her life when her time was so out of her control.
- The tools she gained from being a licensed psychotherapist and how they can help you practice belief work.
- Are you holding on to this limiting mindset belief?
- The fine line of teetering two sides of business – how to avoid burnout.
- Why you don’t need to rely on having a large audience and how to make money from a small following.
- How to create an ecosystem of offers that supports your clients in all directions.
- What surprised her most about maternity leave and having a baby.
- Advice on how to implement boundaries from the expert and why they’re critical to your business (and life).
- Setting aside time for the big picture visions in business – where does it fit in?
- How to increase your reach and grow your email list.
- What to look out for when you’re trying to find a partner to collaborate with.
- The expectations vs. reality of parenthood.
Check out the episode below.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Think Tank
Kirsty’s free workshop
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Kirsty’s first episode 106
Kira Hug: If you are planning on taking a sabbatical for any period of time, whether it’s for maternity leave, paternity leave, or any type of leave away from the business, this is a conversation you won’t want to miss. I knew I had to talk to Kirsty Fanton, our guest for the 316th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast about her experience planning for and working through maternity leave after the arrival of her little one, Ollie. Kirsty and I had our babies roughly around the same time, give or take a few months. And it wasn’t the easiest of times to bring a child into this world. I mean, is it ever an easy time? No. Kirsty evolved her business during this time, despite the harsh reality of caring for a baby during a strict lockdown in Sydney. This entire conversation is a candid one about what worked, what didn’t work, and how we can all continue to grow our businesses in new ways as our lives dramatically change. You won’t want to miss it.
Okay, So today I have a special co-host. I am so excited to have Brandon Burton here. If you don’t know Brandon already, Brandon’s a part of our TCC team, has been in the community, growing the community over the past few years. You probably already know him, he’s been on the podcast before, but in case you don’t, he is a brand voice strategist for Introverted Experts, a podcaster, a new podcaster with a new podcast, which is very exciting, a father to a new baby, Zion. So part of the reason, Brandon, I’m so excited to have you here, is because we’re going to talk a lot about babies and maternity leaves and adjusting to business and work after having a baby. And so I’m really glad that you can add to this conversation. Thanks for being here.
Brandon Burton: Thank you for letting me be here. Yeah, it’s an exciting conversation. I think this is something I’m looking forward to.
Kira Hug: And how old is Zion now?
Brandon Burton: Zion’s three months so we’re still in that difficult blurry phase.
Kira Hug: Yeah, you are in it. Okay, perfect. So yeah, glad you’re even here to do this and have this conversation. All right, so before we jump into the interview with Kirsty, of course, the podcast is sponsored by The Copywriter Think Tank. The Copywriter Think Tank is our mastermind. It’s kind of like a hybrid mastermind where you have access to these 25 brilliant writers in the group. I think they’re some of the most generous creatives, smartest people, and I learned so much from them. So you have access to this incredible room. And then you also have access to coaching. So we offer group coaching on mindset, on systems, on scaling your business. We also have coaching on visibility. And then Rob and I also tackle just the regular business questions that pop up, off and on. And we provide one-on-one coaching as well in that mastermind.
So the reason I’m mentioning it now is because we host three retreats a year in The Think Tank, and those are the times where we’re all together as a group and we can really support each other, connect, learn, and create action plans for our business. And we have a retreat coming up at the end of January in New Orleans. And I’m really excited about it because it’s the first in-person retreat we’ve had for a while. We went virtual over COVID and now we get to finally hang out in person again.
So if you have any interest in taking your business to the next level and figuring out what that even looks like, what that could be for you, or if you’ve hit a plateau and you’re like, “I need to do something differently, but I’m just struggling to see what that could be,” reach out to us. We’ll have a link in the show notes where you can learn more about The Think Tank Mastermind and apply to jump on a call with our team and learn more about it. And the best thing is if you do this sooner rather than later, you could join us in New Orleans in January for this retreat. Okay. So let’s jump into the interview with Kirsty.
I would love to just start with the evolution of your business and if you can just kind of paint a picture of just as a quick recap of where it was in 2018 and then where it is today, before and after.
Kirsty Fanton: Oh, big question. So I think …
Kira Hug: Starting big, we’re starting really big.
Kirsty Fanton: I love it. So I think, okay, back in 2018, it might test my memory a bit, but I’m pretty sure if it is at the point in time I was thinking about, I had just either done or was in the Copywriter Accelerator, had really hit it off with you in particular. Obviously, I also like Rob, but I feel like you and I, I think because we had the chance to work together and you brought me on so kindly and so thoughtfully to a lot of launch projects, I think that was the point at which my business was really starting to take off. So through working with you and also through the Accelerator, I changed my niche, I started working with more aligned clients on more exciting projects. So I think I was still doubling in email-only copy for a little while in 2018. But by 2019 I had expanded to launch copywriting and I’m pretty sure 2019 was my first six-figure year as well. I think that’s right.
Kira Hug: Let’s just go with it. Yep.
Kirsty Fanton: Let’s go with it. Let’s lean into it. So I think at that stage, that’s right, yes. And 2019 was also the first time I launched Brain Camp. So 2019 was the first time I went from purely providing one-to-one copywriting services to also having an arm in my business where I had a group program, which is Brain Camp, which I still have today. So things are really taking off for me at that time. And I think things are really exciting. I was sort of stepping inside a whole new world of possibility and lots of big questions and what ifs and just sort of understanding what was possible and how much control or say I had over what I could do with my business, which was super exciting. And I always credit that moment and that knocking off of the blinkers to being part of the Copywriter Accelerator with you and Rob. Because I think without that I’d probably still be doing blog copywriting for big hotel brands and I wouldn’t be very happy.
How things have changed since then. So, God, they’ve changed a lot. So I worked with that model up until early 2021. I almost hit 200K, but I left the business in 2021 for about 6 months because I had a baby, Ollie, who is now almost 18 months, which is nuts to think that time has gone so quickly. And I had quite a rough pregnancy with him. So that put the brakes on things in my business sooner than I would’ve hoped. But I did manage to get a more passive income stream up and running before I went on maternity leave. And that was with two digital products, one of which is the Mirror Journal, which is a tool for reflective practice. And the other one of which is the Social Proof Sidekick, which is a tool that helps you collect, select, and leverage social proof so you can sell more stuff more easily.
So my business now post-maternity leave, post-baby looks very different and probably more different than I had anticipated before I had Ollie just in that the only one-to-one services I’m offering now, 18 months after having him one-to-one coaching and one-to-one strategy sessions. I don’t know if you have found this ever Kira, with your babies, two of whom are now quite big, that I just struggle to find the mental space that I know I need to do justice to big launch projects while also carrying most of the mental load for a very small human. So for that reason, I haven’t kickstarted the copywriting services in my business again. So my time is really just spent coaching other copywriters and other business owners, which I love. Brain Camp is also happening again once a year, which I also love.
And then I’m really spending all the rest of my time and energy on trying to build out a successful evergreen funnel for the Social Proof Sidekick and also trying to grow my list and build visibility. So I have a podcast with Amy Posner called Business Badassery, which is sort of like an agony aunt column for your online business. So people submit questions every week and we answer them. So it’s really easy for us, it’s really fun. And I’m also about to start a limited series podcast with the wonderful Zafira Rajan called Business After Baby, in which we’ll talk about how business shifts after you have a small human, and we’ll hopefully share some insights that might be helpful for people who are either currently or about to be in that situation where they are bringing a new life into the world. That was such a long response.
Kira Hug: But it’s so helpful because I had a grasp on some of that, but not all of it. And so let’s start with preparing for maternity leave because I’ve received many questions about this and most of the time I’m like, I did not have a plan. So I’m usually the worst person to ask about it. So I’m always curious how other people prepare for maternity leave, and what considerations you make about the business, how you think about your offers, how you think about your time. So what was that experience like for you and what did you do to prepare for it?
Kirsty Fanton: Ooh, such a good question. And it’s funny because I feel like I’m the opposite of you in that respect. I love planning. I’m such a planning nerd.
Kira Hug: This is why I love you and I think you’re amazing because I’m like the no-plan person and I’m drawn to people like you because it’s amazing. Plans are great, we should have plans.
Kirsty Fanton: But I mean they aren’t necessary because look, you just land on your feet all the time and that’s a pretty amazing skill as well.
Kira Hug: Do? I don’t know, Kirsty. I don’t know if I do, but what was your plan as you were thinking through it?
Kirsty Fanton: So my plan, so for a bit of context, my husband and I were trying to get pregnant for quite a while before it happened. So I did have the luxury of having time, but also at the point at which I was planning, I was also booked out 12 months in advance with one-to-one client work. So I mean it could have been problematic had I got pregnant really easily and I’m not sure how that would’ve worked. But what I did start doing was I based every decision I made from the point of actively trying to get pregnant around the idea that I would no longer have such control or command of my time, which is very true. I think if anything, I didn’t quite realize the scope of that shift once you have a baby and you’re the primary carer, time is just like, you have none to put it lightly. I’m sure it will change as I get old and already there are a few more windows opening up.
But I knew that I had to, in order for my business to still be making money, I really had to find a way to remove the need for me to be delivering services in real-time as a way of bringing money into the bank account. So that’s why I built and created the Mirror Journal, which really was part passion project I guess. It’s something I am just such an advocate of, reflective practice and it’s cheap. The Mirror Journal’s $49, so it’s not going to make me millions, especially because my list is so small. But my ultimate plan was to build an evergreen funnel for the Social Proof Sidekick, which is a higher-priced digital product and one that has I think a wider audience and probably a more ready audience because the outcomes are a lot more tangible than something like reflective practice.
So I had grand plans to launch that in a live launch and then build out a really solid evergreen funnel for it so it could make decent money while I was off on maternity leave and would give me some flexibility in terms of when and how I came back to the business. Unfortunately, what I didn’t plan for was that I had a pregnancy where I was sick the whole time, so nauseous the whole time, would have days where I would be on a call and then as soon as the call finished, I’d just collapse under the desk with a bucket because I couldn’t even get to the bathroom. So it was really tough. So that definitely put a dampener on the extent to which I could actually build out that funnel. So best laid plans.
In the end, I had the lowest key evergreen funnel in the history of the world set up for that product. But what it did do was it covered my expenses over maternity leave. So it meant that I was in no rush at all to come back from a financial perspective. And I would definitely advocate for thinking through what that could look like for you if you’re in the position of thinking about having a baby, are you going to have a baby sometimes soon. Just because I think you don’t know what your experience is going to be like. Every baby’s different, every parent is different and therefore every relationship between the baby and the parent is also different. And I feel like for me, it was good to have the space of not having to come back to work on a certain type of timeframe, but it was also really good to be able to dip my toes back into work and work on some stuff in my own business.
So stuff that didn’t have the pressure of client responsibilities attached to it when I needed to, because I also found that in the early days, as much as having your own person is wonderful and you love them so much, I did not love the act of parenting, especially when Ollie was little because you don’t get much back from them in those early days. So for me, work was almost self-care when I first came back to it because it gave me space just to be myself, to use other parts of my brain and to be seen for who I was, not just seen as someone’s mom, if that makes sense.
Kira Hug: Oh, that makes complete sense. I feel like I’ve clung to my business more during those transitions where I’m leaning heavily and feeling that pull into motherhood, which can feel wonderful and give back at times, but that’s when I’ve needed my business more than ever.
Kirsty Fanton: Yes. Oh that’s such a good way to put it. Can you just summarize all my thoughts and then they’ll be nice and crystallized?
Kira Hug: I do want to go back to your funnel because it sounds like it was bringing in money during maternity leave, so that’s attractive. Can you just break down the components of it for someone who might be listening who’s like, “Okay, I want to do something similar, this is how I need to think about it.” Especially for people who are less familiar or maybe haven’t put together their own funnel before.
Kirsty Fanton: Of course. And I should definitely acknowledge that the fact that I’ve worked in launches for most of my business life means that this stuff is my bread and butter. So it definitely gives me a bit of an advantage in terms of thinking through how to set up a funnel like this. But I would always, always, always, always, always recommend that if you are thinking about ever granting an offer, you should live launch it first because a live launch will let you test the funnel in real-time. And of course, you’ll be testing that funnel on what is most likely a more engaged audience. Because if you’re launching something for the first time, you’re probably going to be launching that mainly to the people on your list, all the people who follow you on social media. So there’s some relationship there. So basically if that launch performs well in that live format with that warmer audience, then you have a really good benchmark for, okay, this is something that I probably could evergreen. How can I replicate this funnel for cold traffic?
If it doesn’t perform well in the live launch with a warmer audience, it’s probably not going to perform well at all on a cold audience. And I’m speaking about cold audiences because when you are evergreening something, the key thing you need to make or to give that funnel a chance of performing is traffic. So you need traffic all the time going through it so that it can make sales continuously for you. So that’s the first thing I’d say.
So I did a live launch of the Social Proof Sidekick. I think it was in March. So really cutting it quite fine because I had Ollie in the first week of May, so was right up towards the end. But the live launch performed really, really well, which was awesome. My evergreening process was then really just setting up a lot of those open cart emails that I used during the live launch as an automation inside of my active campaign, that was triggered once people watched a workshop, which I then put on my website. And because I ran out of time towards the end of the pregnancy and also had no energy and all those sorts of things, the only way I actually drove traffic to that workshop was through a PS on my out-of-office email. And also I had my last post on Instagram before I went on mat leave as sort of a call to action to watch that workshop.
So like I said, super low key. So the traffic going through it was so minimal, but it was making enough sales that, as I said, it covered expenses while I was not working at all. So yeah, that may not have answered your question.
Kira Hug: No, that’s really helpful. So I didn’t know if you were running traffic, Facebook ads, but it sounds like you were driving traffic from your away message and that was covering the cost of your business expenses for those months that you were on maternity leave.
Kirsty Fanton: That’s right.
Kira Hug: Is that right?
Kirsty Fanton: Yes, exactly. Yes, yes.
Kira Hug: Okay. And now you’re ramping that up more, now it’s becoming a bigger part of your business?
Kirsty Fanton: Yeah, that’s right. So it was cool because I obviously didn’t get that funnel to the point that I wanted to ideally before I left for maternity leave, but it meant that I had a really good project to come back to once Ollie started daycare. So I’m currently in the process of testing Facebook and Instagram ads. So I’ve actually just had those running now for two weeks. The ads are not performing well. But it’s funny because I feel like a lot of people will be like, “Oh, that’s terrifying and scary.” But I’m like, no, this is great intel because I want to test and tweak and split test and do all the things to try and work out what the problem is and try and optimize things. Because interestingly, the traffic that is actually going into the funnel is, the funnel itself is still performing quite well. It’s just that the cold traffic isn’t converting. And I think it’s actually a problem with the Facebook ad content rather than the landing page just because there are so few leads actually getting to the landing page.
So anyway, it’s a good problem for me to solve, but I’m absolutely trying to ramp that up and I do have grand plans to have that funnel generate really most of the income in my business or the revenue in my business. I don’t know if I’ll get there as soon as I would like, but it’s something I’m working on and I find it really fun, which is super nerdy.
Kira Hug: I was going to say, you’re such a good marketer. You’re excited about running ads so you can tinker with it and optimize, said like a great marketer. So I love that. How did you get to this point where you’re looking at your business and you know you want to bring in most of your income through this funnel, thinking really strategically about it. I guess my question is how do you make that decision and how have you been able to think really big and step back from your business to make these big decisions and think like a CEO? What are the little things you’ve done along the way or more recently to help you make strategic decisions like this?
Kirsty Fanton: Oof, another great question. So I feel like part of it is mindset. And for me, I think the biggest mindset piece is that I have always thought, even back when I had first started business and was not doing much that was exciting, that the purpose of having my own business was that I could build a work life that supported my life outside of work. So I knew that that would mean a different looking or a different feeling business at different stages. So having that knowledge and that real strong belief about the business meant that once I had Ollie, and really I want to have the freedom of being able to spend the time I am not working with him, and I also need to have a business that respects or acknowledges the fact that my time isn’t under my control so much anymore.
So I feel like especially the last six months since he started daycare, as I’m sure you know Kira like he was sick every other week. So the stress of having client meetings booked on the calendar was what I just couldn’t handle because I would’ve had to reschedule at least 50% of those. So knowing that and thinking, okay, well what kind of business will support me working the hours that I can, and also not really being accountable to client meetings and those sorts of things while also hopefully allowing me to keep bringing in decent revenue? What will that look like and what assets do I have or what strengths do I have that I can put into action to support this vision?
So for me, being a launch copywriter and a launch strategist, obviously I know that world quite well. So I think for me it made sense to think about, well, what if I never build a green funnel for myself? What would that look like? Because selling a digital product in that way, once you get the funnel working, obviously there’s still time and energy involved in making sure it is still working, optimizing things, responding to customer service, et cetera. But I think that’s a lot of a lighter lift than those in-depth long launch projects. So I think that mindset piece was important and also being really honest with myself about what my skills are and what they’re not, and thinking through how that could look.
I also think too, it’s important to say that I can’t imagine being on the path I’m on now without having done all the work I did with clients early on and building up my expertise and my knowledge and my self belief and all those sorts of things. I think that’s really important because that allowed me to establish a name for myself in my niche. It allowed me to establish an audience, a reputation, all those things in addition to those skills that I’m now putting to work in my own business.
Kira Hug: Yeah, I really like the way that you said that, around how the early part of your business as a copywriter helped you establish your self-belief and get you to this stage. I feel like I talk to copywriters who oftentimes are building out this second arm of their business, which is around products, or it could be group programs, or it could be many different things, new revenue streams, very exciting. And oftentimes what they’ll say is, “Oh yeah, but I’m not going to give up client work. I’ll never stop doing client work. That’s so important to me.” And I respect that, and that is important to some people. But I also feel like there’s a lot of fear in that statement because it’s almost like it’s hard to let go of that piece because self-belief is tied to it and there can be many different things tied to it.
So for you, was it an easier process to let go of it, or did you have to … What are some of the steps along the way to help you let go of that mindset that many of us have around, I need to be a practitioner and constantly in there, and even grinding it out at times in order to continue to build this other side of my business, which is just not true at all? How did you navigate through that?
Kirsty Fanton: Oh, it’s such a good question because I actually remember speaking with you and Rob. Again, I think it must have been 2019. I feel like we need a calendar with Post-it notes so I can work out what we talked about when. But it was before I launched Brain Camp. I was on a strategy call with the two of you, I think, as part of the Think Tank, maybe. I was debating whether to launch a course that was on the psychology behind high-performing copy, which is Brain Camp, or one that was on online course design because I also have a background in educational design and lecturing at university and all that sort of stuff. That was also an idea I had. Anyway, I talked about that. I remember one thing you said in that, Kira, was, “Well, where do you see your business going? How are you going to split your time between client work and group programs, online courses?” I was like, “Oh, 50/50. It has to be 50/50.”
Kira Hug: I don’t remember you saying that.
Kirsty Fanton: Yes. I remember you being like, “Mm-hmm.” You’re like, “Well, I don’t want to squash this idea. Maybe it’s possible, but I have found that you really have to go harder on one. You can’t walk that line straight down the middle. It just isn’t really that feasible.” Such a wise thing for you to say. I wish I’d listened to you a bit earlier. But I do think, for me, I should also say that I love that you brought this mindset idea up, that you have to have a foot in both worlds because I also think that is something I had struggled with periodically.
For example, the university that I taught at when I was a psychotherapist, you had to be a practicing licensed therapist to also teach those subjects. So I feel like that belief has also been ingrained in me a little bit there. Even now, the last time I ran Brain Camp, which was a few months ago, I was like, “Oh, God, should I even be doing this because I’m not actively writing other people’s copy at the moment? Am I still qualified to do this?” There is still that little seed of doubt there. I think the fear that you’re speaking to can sometimes come from like you say, that lack of self-belief. I think the things I’m teaching in Brain Camp, for example, they’re things that come from the world of psychology and psychotherapy. There’s science in there. I know that those things are fundamentally true. I know that I’m skilled in them. It’s about thinking backward through that stuff for me sometimes.
I also think sometimes the fear in letting go of the one-to-one client work or project work comes from a fear of money, because I think when you do have an income stream in your business that’s working well, it can be scary to dial that down in order to make space for something that isn’t yet working at that same level. I think the alternative there is that if you try and keep that project work or client work at that same level while also building out this other arm in your business, you’re likely going to get burnt out at some point because the creation of a digital product or the creation of an online course or a group program and the delivery of those things does take a lot of time and effort and energy.
I think it is incredibly difficult to do both of those things at full capacity at once. I think sometimes, unfortunately, it is the kind of thing that you can only fully realize once you get there. When you are in that squishy corner of having to make a call, I think it’s sometimes then that you realize, “Ah, okay, I really need to step away from the client work a little bit if I really believe in this idea of what I’m creating over here and if I really want to see that through to fruition.”
Kira Hug: Yeah. It sounds like you made that call pre-baby, right? That was like, “I’m going into this. This is a change I need to make.” That’s what triggered it for you. Or was there a different moment?
Kirsty Fanton: No, I think that is what triggered it for me. Definitely thinking about what would support life with a small person and more limited, less reliable hours. But I guess, also, having had Brain Camp and having run that, I think it was maybe four or five times before mat leave, and knowing that people really got a lot of value out of that, and also, I guess, understanding that my background in my previous career has given me a lot of really unique insights. I guess. Knowing that stuff and understanding how I could position that into other digital products and offers, I think those pieces of the puzzle also helped as well. They helped justify the decision and give me belief, I guess, that I could create things that were really valuable and build out from there.
But I guess I should also say the challenge I’m up against now, and I knew this would be the challenge going into it, is that for all the years I’ve been in business up until just before maternity leave, the success of my business did not rely on having a huge audience because I could not serve that many one-to-one clients in a year. Brain Camp has always been capped at 20 people or less. Whereas, with digital products, because they’re obviously much smaller investments for customers to make, in order for them to have the same financial results from my business, I need to have a much, much, much bigger audience. I’m in the phase now of really focusing on trying to grow my list in order to support this new business model.
Also, just something to think about, if you’re listening and you’re wondering whether this kind of model might work for you, remember that if you are someone who, like me, has a really small, devoted, engaged audience that has been supporting your business and helping you hit your financial goals really easily, the game will change if you are looking to build a business that relies on products that need to sell at scale. Yeah. Just a side note there.
Kira Hug: Yeah. Would that have changed anything for you in the past, or is it more of just, “This is where I am today? I didn’t need to sell at scale, so, of course, I wasn’t going to focus on it, and that’s okay. Now I need to focus on growing my list.” I guess, is the advice for people to start earlier, or is it more to start where you are, and when you realize you need to sell products that are $27 a piece, then you shift? I mean, there’s not one way.
Kirsty Fanton: Yeah. There’s not one way. I mean, I wouldn’t change the way I’ve come about it because, really, my business historically has worked so well. I’ve had such a great time doing what I’ve been doing. It’s just, I think, acknowledging the challenges if you are someone who’s looking to make that shift, and you have historically made a lot of money from a relatively small number of people. Yeah. For me, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just this is the challenge I knew I’d be facing, and I’m actively trying to solve it at the moment.
Kira Hug: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about that first piece, how to make money from a relatively small but loyal following. For someone who hears that and says, “Well, I can do that. I’m not ready. I don’t need to sell to thousands of people, but I would like to have Kirsty’s business, the first stage of it.” What does that look like? What does it take? Does it take frequent emails to your list, something else, your podcast? What do you feel like is the right combination, or at least was the right combination for you?
Kirsty Fanton: Yeah. Such a good question. I think, really, the key thing is reputation because I think for my business models, obviously, I didn’t start there. I think in my first year in business I earned $60,000 or just under, or something like that. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t great. But I managed to scale it up pretty quickly from there as I worked on more and more launches, got really great results from my clients, had repeat bookings coming in, had referrals coming in, all those sorts of things. I think all of those pieces really are based on your reputation.
What results can you get for your clients reliably? How are you as someone to partner with on a project? If you get great results but you’re a bit of a pain in the arse to work with, I think that reputation is probably going to reflect that. I mean, thinking through that sort of stuff, I guess it wasn’t like I set out with that plan in mind. I set out with a plan of doing the best work I possibly could and improving on my work with each and every project. I think it was through that, that I got those great results, I got those great reputations, and then … Reputation. Sorry. Just one reputation.
Kira Hug: Many reputations.
Kirsty Fanton: Many, many. For all my different facets. Then it was about looking at how I could build in really natural points of repeat bookings into my projects and building out an ecosystem that facilitated an existing customer working with me again and again. For example, pretty early on, I started including a launch debrief call as part of my big one-to-one launch projects. I didn’t charge for that.
I actually really liked it for a number of reasons. First of all, because it meant I was guaranteed to get all the data insights and all the results. Second of all, because it meant that I could then use that call to step my client through what looks like it worked really well, what looks like it could be improved, and what suggestions I had for them for their next launch. If we had a good relationship, which nine times out of 10, we did, it was them on the call who would request to work with me again. “Oh, great. Can I book you for that next launch? I’d love to have you do this stuff.” That takes a client from investing … At the time, it was probably around $10,000 in the launch project to booking two. So there’s $20,000 from that client during that 12-month period, whatever it might be.
I also added day rates into my services pretty early on, too. They were great. Initially, I was just funneling existing clients into those as a secret backdoor service. For example, at the end of a launch debrief, if the launch had performed exceptionally well and the tweaks that the data was telling us we probably needed to make before the next launch were really bits and piece-y, I was suggesting if they wanted to work with me on making those tweaks, doing it in a day rate. Tested that service out with existing clients in that really nice, safe environment for a few months, and then launched that publicly. That also meant that, for some clients who were investing in a copywriter, perhaps for the first time, that was an easier investment for them. Of course, if my work with them during that day meant that they had a really successful launch, they then had more budget and then would likely come and book me for either a few more day rates or a big launch project.
I’ve also had clients that have joined me inside of Brain Camp. I’ve had Brain Camp students who have booked me for day rates. Basically, just a way of saying that my ecosystem of offers is really supportive so that once someone’s in, they are more than likely to buy more than one offer from me. Hopefully, that helps illustrate that, in that way, I don’t need a huge number of clients or customers to make really decent revenue.
Kira Hug: No, that makes a lot of sense. I didn’t realize that your launch clients were also joining Brain Camp, and then they could also purchase the Mirror Journal. Yeah. It’s a really strong ecosystem that’s really well thought out.
Kirsty Fanton: Oh. Why thank you.
Kira Hug: Okay, Brandon. Let’s go ahead and touch on a few points that stood out to us. What grabbed your attention from this part of the conversation?
Brandon Burton: It was great to hear Kirsty talk about the importance of doing all the work, getting the experience, as a way to then build a business that was flexible enough for the different stages in her life, especially how intentional Kirsty was before she got pregnant, creating those multiple income streams, that ecosystem of offers, and then managing the capacity between existing work and the things she wanted to build. I know you touched on it, but it does feel like something most of us are extremely reluctant to do. Yeah. This is just such a great example of what happens when you’re willing to take that leap.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I mean, that’s why I love Kirsty. I think you can hear it in the conversation, my love for her, because, I mean, not only is she just such a wonderful person, but she’s such a great example of someone who is intentional about the strategy and the decisions behind what she’s doing in her business and why she’s doing it and how it’s serving her, and even the purpose of her business to begin with. Why am I even running a business? Well, it’s to support my life. I think many of us start the business thinking that, but we can go astray along the way, and it feels like the business is now running our lives. She’s just been very clear and intentional with her planning. I think you’re right. You can see it in the phases.
The way that she broke down the phases, you could see where it goes from getting experience as a copywriter and then starting to specialize in launch copy, and then, once you’re feeling the momentum from that and gaining more clients, building a reputation. Then she started to experiment with different group programs and then introduce products, and then started to cut back on the one-on-one work, and then has since built this funnel that can really, hopefully, support her business moving forward. It’s just, again, so many phases in a short period of time, too. It’s just a good reminder that it’s okay for us to change the way we run our business. It’s expected in some ways. Even if it’s frequent changes, that’s what growth looks like. She’s such a great example of that.
Brandon Burton: Yeah. I think I would definitely underestimate how much that would change or could change. Having a business, I suppose, built with that much resilience. Yeah. It seems smart. It seems like something that a lot of us could work on. It also really stood out to me. I think most working parents would resonate with the feeling of not always loving the act of parenting.
Kira Hug: Yeah.
Brandon Burton: I mean, especially in lockdown or when expectations don’t quite match reality, or when the things that bring us energy and joy, outside of our kids, of course, are put on hold for a bit. I think for me, it was really refreshing to hear that said out loud.
Kira Hug: Yeah. It’s like, “Well, of course, I love my kid or love my kids. Of course. But I don’t love parenting every day.” I think it’s something that … not that we’re afraid to say it, but it’s just not always … I don’t know. It feels like it’s hard to admit that at times. Yeah, Kirsty just owns it because it’s true. Because it’s true. I appreciate that she shared how difficult it was during her pregnancy, how she was sick, and how, especially even on maternity leave during lockdown, a very strict lockdown in Sydney, how she coped with that because that is extreme during a very difficult time with a colicky baby.
She’s definitely pushed to her limit. I’m glad that she was able to share that because we don’t talk about that often enough. We just skip over it and talk about how much the end result or how lovely the baby is, but not that tricky part for so many of us. I wonder, Brandon, for you, you’re in the thick of it with a three-month-old baby. Did you do anything to prepare for this challenging stage? How did you approach it? How did your family approach it?
Brandon Burton: Not as well as we thought we did. We also thought, “We need to scale back and just appreciate that, one, this is definitely the very last time we’re doing it, and also, that, yeah, it’s always more demanding than you think it might be when you plan it.” Yeah. There are days when it’s not only just not easy, but it’s not that enjoyable. Zion’s actually a pretty good kid, and still, it’s hard to run a business. We moved houses before, and just getting everything ready and running and hopefully growing is really tricky. I’m grateful that these are conversations you guys are having on this podcast, for sure.
Kira Hug: Is there any advice you would give to any parents who are about to go through it, especially for the first time, and what they could do during the first six months, year, or 10 years?
Brandon Burton: No, I would just say, “Don’t listen to advice.” No. Yeah. It’s so hard to get right. There’s so much stuff you’ll hear and you’ll be told, and might work, but a lot of the time, you are just learning as you’re doing. Each time, we’ve just found the experience different and challenging in different ways. It’s just preparing yourself time-wise, giving yourself that flexibility, and then giving yourself even more because it’s almost never enough.
Kira Hug: Yeah. We talked about self-care with Kirsty, a lot about self-care throughout the entire interview. Is there anything that you’ve done to take care of yourself and even nurture your creative side, or, well, any side of you that just needs that care during that difficult stage?
Brandon Burton: I think the only thing that I focused on a lot more this time is making sure I had time for the stuff I said was important beforehand, because those are things that can quite easily to go out the window, and you can, or at least I can convince myself that it’s not that important anymore, or that new things have become more important. But this interview of Kirsty as well is a really good example of when you set out with intention and have a plan and decide these are the things that matter and these are the things that you wanted to follow through with, just making sure that that time is there, making sure that you’re still prioritizing the things that seem less important when there is a small, cute baby who occupies all of your day.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I mean, you’ve launched a new podcast during this time with a new baby, so you definitely are a great example of just figuring out your priorities and trying best to stick to them even during the difficult stage.
Brandon Burton: Trying. Yeah. Thank you.
Kira Hug: There is a quote from Kirsty that I do want to share because I think it captured this part of the conversation well. Kirsty said, “The purpose of having my own business was that I could build a work life that supported my life outside of work. I knew that would mean a different looking or a different feeling business at different stages.” That goes back to just those different stages Kirsty has gone through in her business and just being very open to all those stages, knowing that it will have to change in order to support life outside of work because life outside of work is constantly changing. We also talked about her funnel. I was really glad we had a chance to dig through and dissect her funnel. Anything stand out to you, Brandon, about that part of the conversation around her evergreen funnel?
Brandon Burton: First of all, just the idea and the reminder that to have an evergreen funnel, it makes sense to do a live launch first. I think that a lot of the time we have conversations around evergreen funnels as these alternatives to that live launch cycle. But yeah, really interesting that the lessons you learn from doing it live at least once, they’re worth it. It’s worth getting that data, that information, that feedback before you move it to evergreen. I just generally really admire Kirsty’s approach to growing based on reputation and working style. I suppose just another reminder that the quality of our work only counts for so much compared to the overall experience of working with us and the way people speak about our expertise when we’re not in the room. I think that’s a timely reminder, for sure.
Kira Hug: Yeah. It’s almost like we know it matters. We know reputation matters, but we forget how much it matters. I know because I’ve worked with Kirsty on multiple projects. She really does improve every time she takes on a project. I mean, it’s the whole idea behind tiny habits and small changes and just making an incremental improvement every time you do something. With her client work, I saw it firsthand. But she talked a little bit about it. It’s like, “This part of a project didn’t go as well. What could I do with this next client just to make one adjustment that could make it slightly better?” It takes the pressure off because it’s like, “Well, I don’t have to reinvent everything every time. But small improvements.” That goes for any type of business model. I mean, even for The Copywriter Club and our different programs. It’s like, “Well, what change could we make this time to improve it from last time?” That’s how you build that reputation over time. It’s those little changes you can make.
Brandon Burton: Yeah. I’m on Kirsty’s list. I know quite a few copywriters who have been in Brain Camp, for example. I think, yeah, hers is just a great example of what really well-written emails can do for business growth, even to a relatively smaller group of people. Hers have always been emails that other copywriters have talked about as being conversational and reflective and all the things that a lot of copywriters are aiming for. I think building funnels and building ways of working, but being really intentional about what people are saying about you and how your expertise holds up and what you are known for. I think that’s, yeah, a good takeaway for me as well.
Kira Hug: Yeah. Playing to your strengths, like Kirsty is, she sells a journal. We talked about it in our previous interview with her, about her journaling practice. Because she’s so reflective, she’s very clear on her strengths and her weaknesses. As she approached maternity leave, too, she was thinking through, like, “What can I do well, and what will I not be able to do well in this stage of my business? I will not be able to take one-on-one calls because the baby situation’s not reliable. But I can create digital products and build a funnel because I have that background as a launch copywriter.” I think that’s just something that I need to constantly remind myself to reflect on, today, my strengths and my weaknesses could be very different a year ago or even a decade ago. And am I evaluating it based on today? Because it’s constantly changing. So, that stood out. And then also going back to the funnel, I think she had a really brilliant takeaway that stood out to me, during her maternity leave, she was driving traffic to the funnel from her out-of-office email. She wasn’t running Facebook ads. It was from one out-of-office email, and that’s where she was sending people to the workshop and then the whole sequence. And so to me, not to say it’s easy, but it’s relatively easy for all of us to do that. I have an away message up right now. It’s a crappy away message that I threw together quickly, and I’m thinking, why don’t I just rewrite it and send people to a funnel because it’s up anyway? I think that’s something that we could all do once we have a funnel in place.
Brandon Burton: Yeah, super smart. And I think it’s just another great benefit of having really engaged email lists that people would send you an email and they’d get an out-of-office and they’d still be inclined to click. I think that’s another benefit of doing the work early on.
Kira Hug: Yeah. It’s like, why can’t your automated away message just be a sales email? Why not? It could be. It could be a hard sell, I don’t think Kirsty’s is, but mine might be. Okay. So before we wrap, I think one other idea I wanted to touch on is just the debrief call. This is something we talk about frequently in the Copywriter Club, how important it is to schedule a debrief call with a client when a project ends. So that you can touch base with them, you can provide additional value, you can talk about future projects. You can pull what you need from the project so you can get some feedback, and possibly get some data and results. And that’s a missed opportunity for so many of us. That’s something that if you’re not doing a debrief call, definitely consider adding that to your process.
Brandon Burton: I love that you can use it for your own business, and to measure your own results. And also to book repeat business, and to show opportunities for clients to work with you again. I think it’s the type of thing that once we now know can work and we’ve seen, it’s almost like a no-brainer not to do it. Definitely, that’s the thing that you note down from this episode, I’m sure.
Kira Hug: Okay. Well, let’s jump back into the interview with Kirsty to hear about what surprised her the most about parenthood and running a business.
I want to circle back because I want to make sure I get all my questions about maternity leave. Again, because I feel like it’s something that we don’t talk about a lot, which may be the catalyst for your new podcast.
Kirsty Fanton: Yes.
Kira Hug: But it’s something we haven’t talked about enough on this podcast. So to circle back. Okay, some questions you choose the one you want to answer, and then maybe I’ll ask you the other one. But what ended up surprising you the most? You had your plan in place, you move in, baby Ollie is here. What surprised you that you feel like, oh, I wish somebody would’ve told me about that or prepared me? Someone should have helped.
Kirsty Fanton: In terms of the maternity leave or in terms of trying to juggle work and Ollie?
Kira Hug: I kind of want all of it.
Kirsty Fanton: All of it, all of the above.
Kira Hug: Yes, all of the above.
Kirsty Fanton: Okay. I feel like for me, and again, I can’t stress enough that every person’s experience is going to be so different, but Ollie was such an unsettled baby. So for context, about the first four months of his life, he cried about seven hours a day. Sometimes it was seven hours straight, sometimes it was whenever he was awake. And obviously, I took him to the doctor and was like, “What’s wrong?” And the doctors, “No, actually nothing’s wrong.” They checked him out. It’s just that some babies are really unsettled. I think sometimes they call it purple crying, I think it used to be called colic.
So I feel like for me, if I had had someone tell me, “Yes, you may get a newborn that’s really happy to just be on their back or on their tummy on the floor for half hour stints, or maybe they just happily sit on you, and gargle and sleep,” or whatever they do. That is kind of what I was expecting. So I was like, oh, there will be little pockets of time then for me to write an email to my list, as a really nice creative outlet for myself. But if someone had told me, “That may be your experience, but you also might have a baby who does not have any chill,” I would’ve been more prepared, I think.
We were also in lockdown here in Sydney for the first six months of his life, so that obviously also impacted things too, because we could only go within a 5K radius of our homes, and we could only be outside to exercise. And you could only meet up with one person who wasn’t in your household. It was a pretty rough start to motherhood, I would say. So I think those things as well did impact my maternity leave, and my ability to do any of the things I thought I might do just for fun in my business. Because I’m a weirdo who really loves spending time in my business, so that really surprised me, I think. Trying to think of something else. I’m sure there were lots of things. I think too, maybe the other thing that surprised me was people had told me that when Ollie did start daycare, he would get sick a lot. People had told me that, but I hadn’t fully understood that that literally meant every other week. He got gastro after his second day of daycare, we all got gastro and then he got Covid. It was literally just constant. So I think that was also a shock for me as well, just how frequently he was sick.
Kira Hug: Oh my gosh, yeah. I think we just forget. Because I remember going through daycare with my two older kids, and it was the same thing. But now I’m like, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that bad.” It’s really bad.
Kirsty Fanton: It is really bad. But it’s funny though because even now Ollie’s been well for five or six weeks. Actually no, not that long. That’s a lie, three weeks. And I’m like oh my God, it’s amazing. So I can understand why people forget about how bad it is, Because as soon as you’re out of the trenches you’re like, oh, it’s fine. And I guess a lot of motherhood’s like that. While you are in it, it feels awful. The bad stuff feels awful. But in hindsight, I think it loses some of its sting. Maybe it makes sense as to why it’s hard to get really honest insights into a lot of the tough parts of motherhood.
Kira Hug: Yeah, we forget. That’s what happened to me, I forgot everything. Which is why I had homework, Because it had been seven years so I really forgot every detail. And I was like, it’s so easy. I can definitely do this again. It’s just time, seven years have passed and I forgot it. I also thought I was going with my first, with Harper, I thought I was going to take up a new hobby on maternity leave. I bought paints, I thought I was going to get back into painting on maternity leave. I wish somebody had been like, “No, no, no, no. You’re not going to have time to do that. It’s really cute that you think you have space to take on a new hobby.”
Kirsty Fanton: That’s so relatable though. I was like, I’m going to start Latin dancing. I don’t know why I thought that was a thing I was going to do, but no.
Kira Hug: Yeah, it seems like it could happen. But how did you take care of yourself, especially considering Ollie’s unsettled, and crying for part of the day, and you’re in lockdown? Early on, or maybe as you came out of lockdown and things got a little bit better, what did you do to take care of yourself so that you could stay sane, stay healthy, even just feed your creative side, nourish yourself? And especially just providing any specifics so we can pull ideas from you.
Kirsty Fanton: Sure. So unfortunately during lockdown, there really wasn’t much of an option. I could sometimes go for a walk or a run on weekends when Colin could take Ollie. That was it. So lockdown was hard. After lockdown ended, it was definitely for me the ocean is where I just get recharged. So walking down the hill and going for a nice leisurely swim, anything like that. Getting outside, I think, is just so important.
And things that sound so small, but I remember we had this, it makes me sad to think about, we had this list on our fridge of post-lockdown activities. And they were so simple. One of them was to sit on the grass with Ollie and look at the clouds because we couldn’t do that. We couldn’t do that. So even things like that, after those long months of being stuck without any options, just really felt like great self-care. And for me, I think it was more physical stuff that came before having time for creativity and that sort of stuff. It was almost like I needed to decompress a little bit. So having a swim in the ocean, sitting outside with a coffee and listening to a podcast down at the beach or something. So rejuvenating for me.
And then over time, definitely returning to work was self-care initially, 100%. Being able to sit down and write an email to the wonderful people on my list just felt like such a luxury and such a joy. Easing myself back into work, I think also was quite important for my self-care. So I started back, I think it was the end of February this year. And then my first and only thing on my calendar was launching Brain Camp at, I think either end of April or the start of May. That was my only task on the calendar, then delivering Brain Camp. I really took things slowly. And for me that felt like self-care because, well, for a few reasons. Because I felt like I was starting from scratch again, even though I wasn’t. But I think when you have some time off, I don’t know if you had the same experience, you come back and you feel a bit like Bambi, on these little wobbly legs and you’re like, “Oh, what’s this computer thing do?”
So doing that, and also just being really conscious of not overloading my calendar, particularly as a reality as we’ve spoken about daycare sickness came to light. So I knew that having lots of appointments or client bookings would really feel like a stressful thing. Really layering things back in super gently, and I guess as Ollie’s got older too, self-care is a lot more varied these days. Dinner with friends, drinks with the girls. I got a pedicure for the first time in my life the other day.
Kira Hug: Oh, wow.
Kirsty Fanton: Little things like that. I know, I felt a bit bad because my feet are gross. I was like, “Here you go. Please make my toes look pretty.”
Kira Hug: Because I want to touch on boundaries, you were generous enough with your time to come into our Think Tank retreat a couple of weeks ago and talk about boundaries. I think you’re one of the best people to talk about boundaries. And you connected the pieces for me as you were talking through that session because of your background in psychology and as a counselor, boundaries are such a big part of the work that you did. I never connected the dots that that’s part of what you bring into copywriting and into this business, and that’s part of why it’s your superpower. That really clicked for me. I guess I would love to hear maybe one of your top tips for setting boundaries for anyone who might be listening and just knows that they struggle with boundaries, they’re listening to you and they’re loving what they hear even about easing in, making sure that you protect your time and energy, but it’s just a struggle for them. Where could they start?
Kirsty Fanton: Yeah, such a good question. I think the best place to start with boundaries is always to pause and reflect, and ask yourself what are the conditions you need to do your best work? And I think the reason boundaries are so important is because when your boundaries are a bit lax, or they’re bleeding, or they’re getting trampled upon, because you are the tool through which all your work is done, the output that you generate is going to suffer. I think if you can start thinking about boundaries as a way to really help you generate and create your best work, I think for a lot of people that makes you more likely to actually hold up or respect your own boundaries, because you can see the direct result of those.
And you can also think about how that impacts your clients for the better. Because if you are someone who’s well rested, well protected, all those sorts of things, they’re going to get a lot better quality work from you. So with that in mind, have a think about what makes a day or a week or a project, whatever point in time makes sense for your business, what makes that feel really good for you? What makes that feel great to roll around in? Is it that you have really clear points of communication? Is it that you actually have a couple of hours in the day to get outside and go for a walk, or catch up with friends or something else entirely? Is it that things finish reliably on time at the end of the day, or whatever that might be?
You can also find your way to boundaries and what you might need by asking other questions. What makes a project feel uncomfortable or unsuccessful? Or what makes a week feel like one you just don’t want to have again? Building a picture of the kinds of influences that really dictate how you feel as you go about your day, or your week or your work. And once you have pinpointed them, picking one, anyone, it can be the smallest thing, and just experimenting with what it looks like to honor that boundary for a fortnight. I think starting small, taking it all as an experiment, and really keeping in mind that holding this boundary isn’t just serving you, but it’s also serving the people you serve. Because it means that they’re able to get better work out of you as a result.
Kira Hug: Yeah, and I really respect how intentional you are with your boundaries and also with how you think strategically about your business. Even going back to just thinking through, okay, well, I want to shift how I operate in the model of my business so it serves my life. So I’m going to build out this funnel, and I’m going to scale and focus on visibility. And so, I’m just curious how you set aside time for that big-picture thinking in your business. Is it something that you’re just, you’re creating space in your life to swim in the ocean and allowing thoughts to come in? Or are you scheduling time? Oftentimes we talk about CEO time in your schedule, where you’re sitting down and answering specific questions or working through any type of framework to think strategically and to get out of the day-to-day of life and business.
Kirsty Fanton: Another great question. It’s funny because I actually think before I had Ollie, it was more your first suggestions. I would have thoughts that would come while I was running, or swimming, or even in the shower. Or even I’d wake up sometimes at 2:00 AM and be like, oh, that’s a good idea. Let’s remember that in the morning, Kirsty, when you get up. But these days I think my brain space is just full of so many Ollie related things, that I need to be more intentional about setting aside time for that big-picture stuff. I actually have, if anyone’s interested, the Mirror Journal is all about this sort of stuff. It gives you really great prompts, very relatable business situations. When things aren’t working, at the start of a project, at the end of a project, when you’re trying to land on a price, when you have a big opportunity, all these sorts of things.
So for me, setting aside time to actually go through some of those prompts and look at what comes out, and then set the course ahead based on what I’m feeling, what I’m wanting my business to look and feel like six, 12 months from now, that’s really important to me. So I tend to do that, I’d love to say every quarter, but it’s more like every four-ish months, so it’s not a super time-based activity. It’s more just important that I know where I’m headed and I’m always checking in as to where I am on that journey. Because I think without that reflective practice and without that perspective, it’s very easy to get moved off course, either by yourself or by opportunities that might seem really great but don’t actually help you get to the place you really want to go to. So yeah, that’s how it looks for me at the moment.
Kira Hug: And you mentioned you’re working on list growth visibility. What does that look like when you sit down to work on it? How does that break down for you when you’re thinking about growing and increasing your reach so you can scale your offer?
Kirsty Fanton: Yeah, so for me, one thing I always advocate thinking about is the assets you have already to work with. Because yes, for me, part of the list growth is using paid traffic. So as I said, I’m experimenting with Facebook ads, et cetera at the moment, but I’m also wanting to strategically think about the assets I already have in place and how I can use those to help reach my goals.
So as an example that might hopefully help bring this to life a little bit, the podcast I do with Amy Posner, Business Badassery, really has just been something fun that Amy and I have done. But we’ve done more than a hundred episodes now so we’re like, oh, and we have really actually quite good listener stats. We often get a lot of really good reviews, et cetera. We obviously get lots of questions, so we have lots of things to tackle each week. So it is successful, but what I think we haven’t done with that is used it as a tool to grow our audience. We’re more, I think, speaking to people who are already in one of our circles. So there was a slight, I think, list growth at the beginning of that where people who knew Amy but didn’t know me, discovered me. And those who vibe with me joined my list, followed me on Instagram, whatever that might be, and vice versa for Amy.
But now it’s thinking about, okay well, how can we leverage that asset to actually help both of us grow our audiences? Because Amy is also in a place where that’s something that she wants to do. So what we thought of is bringing in a monthly guest to that podcast. Because of course when you have a guest on your podcast, as you guys would know, what that usually does is bringing an influx of new people for that episode because there are people who know our guest, who really like our guest, who are excited to hear them talk about whatever question we are tackling that week on the podcast, who don’t yet know myself or Amy. So by doing that, even that one monthly guest, we’re hoping that that increases the reach of our podcast and that those people who listen to the podcast and for whom it resonates, will then seek out myself or Amy and hopefully jump on our list.
So we also have little promos that Amy and I run individually on that podcast, with things happening in our business, so for free workshops, for example, or whatever it might be. So there are some really direct CTAs that will hopefully bring the right people from that podcast into the right places in our business. That’s just one example of thinking through strategically about how you can leverage the assets you already have to help you reach a goal you’re aiming for.
Kira Hug: Okay, so speaking of Amy, love, love, love Amy. And you mentioned that you’re starting a new podcast as well. My question for you is how do you think about and approach partners in collaboration with you and your business? How do you assess what’s a good opportunity, what’s a good collaboration? Especially considering your time is limited, and how do you approach those types of partnerships?
Kirsty Fanton: With Amy, I feel like we had quite an interesting journey to partnering on the podcast. I actually met her through you guys. So at the first very first Think Tank Retreat in, I think it was San Diego, she was there. And we hit it off, perhaps she’d already launched Copy Clinic. I can’t remember the timelines. Again, we need those post-its on that calendar. But I also joined the beta round of her Copy Clinic, so I had also met her a little bit there, whichever order that happened in. And then I hired her as a coach, so we also worked together for about three months in a coaching-coachee relationship.
And when that ended, we both knew that we liked each other very much, we respected each other a lot. We had similar goals for our businesses and similar interests, I guess, and similar favorite ways of working. So we actually ran a paid program together back in 2020 called Business Badassery. We loved working together, but that program wasn’t the most financially rewarding offer for either of us, simply because we were basically splitting the profits of the amount that we would charge in one of our own programs that we ran individually. So in terms of money for time, it wasn’t the best fit. But of course by then we had an experience of actually working together, we loved it and we wanted to find a way to keep that going, so that is how the Business Badassery podcast came about.
I think the thing that makes the partnership successful is that we both really respect each other’s boundaries. We have flexibility in terms of is if one of is having a tough month or has just a lot on their plate, the other one is more than happy to step up and pick up the slack, knowing that that’s going to come back around the next time that we need help or we need someone else to take the reins for a little bit. I think that kind of mutual respect is something that really makes our partnership work. And I imagine that’s the same for most business partnerships.
And in terms of the new podcast with Sefira, similar thing, I met her through you guys, through the Think Tank. I love her. She has also had a little girl, Alara, not that long after I had Ollie. So we’re also both in quite similar places in our lives and our business. And as you probably know, I think when you first have a baby, maybe it’s the same when you have a second or third, I don’t know, because they represent so much of your time and your life, it’s often also the thing you’re most excited about talking about.
So to find Sefira also in that space, and to know that we would love to create a resource for other people who are about to enter, or are thinking about how to enter that space of business and baby together, that makes it feel like the right time to launch that partnership, I guess. But also, you know Sefira, she’s so thoughtful, she’s so clever. And she’s also someone who has great boundaries, communicates them really well, and also respects other people. So for me, I think that’s a really key thing in working out who to partner with, and how that might work and feel.
And I guess the last tip is that as with all business relationships, whether that’s a partner or whether that is a new VA or an OBM, I always think it’s really good to have a trial period. So you’re not locking yourself in for a working relationship that’s going to go on forever. At the very beginning, you might want to start with, for example with Zafira-
Kirsty Fanton: … at the very beginning, you might want to start with, for example, with Zafira, a Limited Series Podcast. We’ll do six or eight episodes and we’ll see what happens from there. So yeah, I think that’s sort of what works for me, and probably what I’d suggest for other people who are thinking about it too.
Kira Hug: Yeah, you choose great partners. And I am all about just testing it, creating a trial before jumping all in, although, I guess Rob and I just jumped in completely. But that’s how Rob and I operate. But yes, I love that idea. So I guess I would want to know more about the new podcast. Can you tell us a little bit more about what to expect on the new podcast, and anything else that we can get excited about, so we can tune in to that podcast?
Kirsty Fanton: Yeah, of course. So, like I said, we’re recording our first episode next week. So, at the moment, everything I know about the podcast is in quite a messy Google Doc. But, basically, we’re hoping to create a helpful resource for business owners who are contemplating nearing or navigating motherhood, as a way to try and close that gap between expectations and reality.
We’re going to talk about things really honestly. And we’re going to talk about what’s worked for us, and what hasn’t, and hopefully share some ways to think strategically about how to prepare yourself and your business for life with a small human. So we’ve got, at the moment, I’m just in a Google Doc now. So I can hopefully give you some more insight into what the kind of things we’re covering. So there are some things I think that are probably quite specific to the time which we both had our babies.
So we’re thinking about having an episode that talks about how to operate in a world that’s changed on both a macro and micro level. So the pandemic has definitely changed the way we work. It’s changed the way businesses work, and how things are selling, and what support in your business looks like, and all those sorts of things. And of course, having a baby also changes things on a really micro level for your life, in terms of what life looks like at home.
We’re also going to talk about some of the really unique benefits and challenges of having your own business, as you become a parent. So for example, for me… And I don’t know if you found the same, Kira. But the fact that my office is here, at home, means that I am, I guess, the go-to person if something happens at daycare, and Ollie needs to be picked up, because I do have more flexibility with my time. If Ollie is sick, that often also means that I’m the person who will give up my workday to look after him. And, of course, there are some really great things about that. And there are some really challenging things about that, too. And I think that has really, since I’ve been talking about boundaries, forced me to really think about some new ones because, not only am I now having to protect my wellbeing, and my creativity, and my energy. But I’m also having to protect my hours that I have to do my work.
So yeah, we’ll be jumping into all sorts of things like that, in the hopes that it will really be just a valuable resource for people, and it will open up conversations that, maybe, aren’t being had that openly, at the moment.
Kira Hug: So when is this launching? Do we have a date? I know you’re recording–
Kirsty Fanton: I know you don’t have a date.
Kira Hug: I know you’re starting to record. I need a date. I need to know.
Kirsty Fanton: We don’t yet have one. I imagine it might be at the beginning of next year, the beginning of 2023, just because I’m thinking it through… By the time we record the episodes and get them edited, we have to get cover art, music intros, et cetera. I think it’ll be the start of next year.
Kira Hug: Okay. So we’ll just chat with the two of you, closer to that date. As we wrap up, I want to ask you this question, and I don’t know how it’s going to come out. I think, when I think of copywriters in the space, I think of what you mentioned about your reputation. Your reputation has been something that has helped you grow your business. It’s been very important, as you’ve built the business. And I think of you as a thought leader in the space. And I know that term, thought leader, can be very obnoxious. It’s probably better than calling you an influencer unless you prefer that.
Kirsty Fanton: No, no, it’s better. I mean, I prefer neither. But it’s better than an influencer.
Kira Hug: Or guru. I could call you gurus, yes. So we could go with any of those options, or probably some better options. But I do like thought leader, most of the time. I think anything around leadership, in a space, can be really helpful and meaningful. So my question around this is… Now I’m really… More of a comment. Thank you for being a thought leader in the space. But the question, really, is for other copywriters who are listening, and who also want to step into that role where you kind of move out of just being a freelance copywriter. And there’s no “just” in there.
Being a freelance copywriter, and you want to move into being more of a thought leader in a space, any space, what advice would you give to that person who’s like, “I’m kind of ready. I’m ready to share thoughts. I don’t really care about the title or what you call me, but I want to step more into a leadership role and kind of speak on a different stage in my business.” And I know that was a very rambly question. But it made more sense in my mind, when I asked it in my mind.
Kirsty Fanton: Oh, I love it. I mean, I think I understand what the question is. But, if I’m not answering the right thing, just let me know. So, the first thing I want to say is it’s not like I woke up one day, and was like, “I want to be a thought leader.”
Kira Hug: “I want to be a guru.”
Kirsty Fanton: I think, for me, it’s more been a process of leaning into everything that my life, up until this point and my life moving forward, has brought me in terms of perspective, and skills, and ideas, that are perhaps fresh or unacknowledged, I guess, in the world in which we operate, so copywriting obviously. But also, I think, the world of online business, and just trusting that, by speaking about those things, I’ll be able to resonate with more of the right people, because I think that is a thing.
The more views, ideas, and hypotheses you share, it means that you’re not only going to attract or resonate more deeply with some people. But you’re also going to repel others. And that can be scary, as someone who is perhaps more used to just operating in the space of serving clients and not doing so much that makes you visible or accountable to views, outside of that.
As you’ve spoken about, so many times on this podcast, you and Rob, it’s actually a good thing, because you can’t resonate with, or serve, everyone. I think one of the grounding factors of being successful in business, and having a fulfilling business, is simply working with the right people, so people who respect you and people who you respect in return. And, of course, the more known you are, and the more known your views and ideas are, the more chance you have of making that happen. So I don’t know that, that’s really a how-to answer. But, hopefully, it’s a bit of a rally cry, if you are feeling that urge.
Kira Hug: Yeah. No, I really like that. I think it’s… The last part, especially, is key, just sharing your thoughts and being known. That’s the hard part for many people. So that stood out to me. So, as we wrap up, I want to know how anyone listening could work with you, moving forward. It sounds like the best way is through Social Proof Sidekick. Where could people go to jump into that? Is that the best way to work with you? What does that look like?
Kirsty Fanton: Yeah, sure. So, at the moment, it is really a digital product. So, if anything in this episode about reflective practice has really piqued your interest, head to my website and click on the Mirror Journal tab. And you can read all about that there, and get a sense of whether that is a tool that might help you. Like I said, it’s cheap. It’s $49, but I get such good feedback on that, all the time, even in really tangible terms like, “Wow, that really helped me nail the pricing for this project.”
So that’s pretty cool, if you are looking to understand social proof on a much deeper, more scientific level and understand the psychology behind what it is, why it works, and how to optimize it, as well as get your hands on what I think is a really cool survey generation tool. So, actually, you can put details in about your business or the project you’re working on and go through and create a survey that you can send directly to either your customers or your client’s customers, in order to help you collect really powerful social proof.
Head over to kirstyfenton.com/free-workshop. And there is a workshop there that will take you through how to use Social Proof and, of course, give you the opportunity to buy the Sidekick, if you feel like you want more practical hands-on help. Like I said, I do also offer one-to-one coaching and strategy sessions. At the moment, they’re all booked out. But, if you want to jump onto my list… And, again, you can do that through my website, then, you will get a heads-up about when there are spots available if you would like my brain on your business, or my brain on your mindset, or a bit of both, I guess, as is usually the case.
Kira Hug: All right, Kirsty. Well, I want to thank you for giving me your time, again, a couple weeks after the retreat, where you so generously gave us your time and the Think Tank. And, just catching up with you, it’s been so great since I haven’t seen you since… In our timeline, I haven’t seen you since TCCIRL San Diego, back in March 2020.
Kirsty Fanton: I know.
Kira Hug: When everything was down.
Kirsty Fanton: Just before everything changed.
Kira Hug: We were there when everything shut down.
Kirsty Fanton: I know. At least that makes it a really easy point in our relationship to remember.
Kira Hug: I know. I can remember that one. And it was just really helpful to hear how things have changed for you, and all the lessons and insights you have to share. Again, I just respect how you move through the world and move through business with intention, with your boundaries, and thinking really big and strategically, but also being really realistic about what’s possible, too. I think that is equally important and, oftentimes, something I struggle with. So thank you for your time, and your friendship. And yeah, I’m just glad that we had some time to finally hang out.
Kirsty Fanton: Oh, me too. This has been so wonderful to catch up with you. I really miss you. And I wish we could meet in person so we could give each other a hug.
Kira Hug: I know. Hopefully sometime soon. All right. Thank you, Kirsty. That’s the end of our interview with Kirsty Fanton. But, before we wrap, of course, we want to talk about a couple more ideas that resonated with us. So, Brandon, why don’t you kick it off?
Brandon Burton: I really enjoyed the whole episode. But my biggest takeaway was definitely the question, what are the conditions you need to do your best work? I think most of us would say our best work benefits all the people around us, or all the people we want it to benefit our families, our clients, et cetera. So it feels like a guilt-free reframe on enforcing boundaries, which I know a lot of us struggle with, like I definitely do. So yeah, that’s, again, super, super smart.
Kira Hug: Yeah. What do you do, Brandon, to set boundaries for yourself?
Brandon Burton: So I’d say most of the struggles I have with enforcing boundaries just come with normal day-to-day family life. I don’t find it as difficult, anymore, for enforcing boundaries of clients. And I think a lot of that comes down to probably owning the process, knowing what comes next and why that comes next, and the importance of what happens if I leave out steps, or what happens if I over commit, or things like that.
I think, a lot of the time, enforcing boundaries, for me, is just around family life and making sure that I am able to show up when I need to show up and switch off when I need to switch off. And, a lot of the time, when I have my better days with that, it’s just because I’ve been able to shut off distractions or, I would suppose, prepare for things going wrong, which can happen.
Kira Hug: Yeah, definitely. And we talked a lot about big-picture thinking, and how Kirsty’s created time for that. This is something that is definitely a struggle that pops up frequently in our community, especially with anyone who’s taking care of family members or friends. For me, I’m always working on it. But I’m excited because today is the day where I have my monthly retreat. So you’re catching me on a day where I’m finally getting back into that, where I just check into a hotel for an evening and get, hopefully, think more big picture, and allow myself to work on projects that I don’t normally have time to work on, or just even journal, or just sit in my hotel room, or go for a walk, or go to a restaurant. It doesn’t even matter, but just have time to think because, in the day-to-day, it just doesn’t typically happen.
So that’s something that I got away from when Homer was little because it was just too tricky to do that. But, now that he’s 16 months old, I’m able to get back into that. And it’s amazing how it can recharge you and help you refocus and figure out what’s important, and what’s not important.
And, sometimes, I think it’s just helpful just to crash and watch Netflix because, sometimes, you just need to do that. You never know what you’re going to need to do. So that’s how I create space to think big. What’s something that helps you think big about your vision and your business, Brandon?
Brandon Burton: So I haven’t managed to get to do one of these CEO getaways. I think I feel a bit guilty about it, but I probably shouldn’t. And it ties into the conditions you need to do your best work. I think that’s something that I need to remember. I think the times when I am able to, often it’s just solitude if I can get time to myself, as in nothing going on, no sounds, nothing.
Kira Hug: Yeah, exactly.
Brandon Burton: I think those are the only times when I really notice. And I probably won’t recognize that I’m missing those times until I have them. And then I walk away with extra confidence, extra direction, extra ideas, that I didn’t recognize I was missing, but then fuel me for at least a couple of weeks, until I probably need to do the same thing again.
Kira Hug: Yeah, I’m a nicer person. I am a nicer mom. I am a nicer wife if I get this time. And, if I don’t, I am not as nice. But I get it. The guilt is a real thing. I’ve definitely felt that, and had to kind of work through it. And it creeps back up at different times, too. We all can feel that. So that is often the struggle with taking any time. To think about time for yourself is just the guilt that can creep in.
Brandon Burton: I like that way of looking at it though. I’ll just… If my kids know that, they might like me a bit more if I can take that break. Then, I think it’s an easier sell. So yeah, I like that.
Kira Hug: I think, once a month they’re like, “Okay, you need to go. Get out because you need to just get away from us. You are too crabby.” We talked a lot about partnerships. We talked about thought leadership. I think I had an awkward moment where I was like, “Kirsty, I think you’re a thought leader or an influencer.” I forget what I called her. But I…
Brandon Burton: Yeah, guru, I think it was.
Kira Hug: So they call her a guru? But I do think that she’s built her reputation in a way that has been intentional and has helped her move to this level, where people view her as a leader in the space. And that doesn’t happen naturally, for everyone. So I’m just curious, Brandon, what you think makes someone, or a copywriter, level up to that space where they are more of a leader in the space. What have you observed about that?
Brandon Burton: I think thought leader is the less-offensive word for most of us. So all of the thought leaders in our space, I think, are people who genuinely bring new ideas. I think you can build quite successful businesses, in marketing and copy, without necessarily bringing original ideas or takes to the space. And I think there are a lot of people who are able to step out of that and put their own spin on things and, in a similar way to Kirsty, has introduced new offers and new products, new business models, things that other people can be influenced and excited by, and inspired by. So I think anyone who’s doing that, no matter their audience size, no matter the amount of people that know them, I think that’s a great way to stand out and consider yourself an influencer.
Kira Hug: That is really well said. So I think we should just end there. That was well said. We want to wrap, just by thanking Kirsty Fanton for joining us on the podcast. If you want to connect, or grab any of her digital products, head to kirstyfanton.com, which we’ll link to in the show notes.
If you want more podcast episodes to listen to, right now, you could tune into Episode 106, which was actually Kirsty’s first episode, where we talked about her background, her story, her growth as a copywriter, and the role psychology plays in copywriting. And, if you want more episodes about psychology, and research, and copywriting, you could also listen to Episode 268 with Geoff Kullman.
And, if you want more information about our Think Tank Mastermind, you can find details and a link in our show notes. I also want to thank you, Brandon, for co-hosting with me. I appreciate you contributing to the conversation and being here with me today. So where could listeners go if they want to connect with you?
Brandon Burton: First of all, my pleasure. Thank you very much for having me. You can connect with me on Instagram @thebrandvoicestrategist. Or you can check out my podcast, at ourchildrens.world.
Kira Hug: Can you just tease the podcast and give us a hint what it’s all about?
Brandon Burton: Oh, you know what? I’m terrible at things like this. So the podcast is for parents who want to create a better future for their children. It’s basically a look at current events, and how those are likely to turn out in the future, and things we can do to make the most of them, or prevent them, or bring them forward. So it’s just people with kids who think that the world we have now, maybe, isn’t the one they want their kids to grow up in, and maybe want to do something about it.
Kira Hug: Okay. And, one last time, can you just… I want to add it, make sure it’s in my phone. Can you just give us the name one last time?
Brandon Burton: ourchildrens.world.
Kira Hug: All right. That is the end of the episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit. Please, please, please, please visit Apple Podcasts to leave your review of the show. I don’t think we’ve had many reviews recently, kind of a bummer. If you’re listening, and you like this episode, please leave a review. We really appreciate that. And we’ll see you next week.