Copywriter and entrepreneur Nikki Groom joins Rob and Kira for the 121st episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Nikki is a high achiever who isn’t afraid of trying new things (like moving to America to start a business) so we asked her about her life as a copywriter and the new things she’s doing in her business. Here’s a look at what we covered in this fantastic interview:
• how she became an advisor, coach and marketing specialist
• why she moved to America to further her career
• what she does to prove her haters wrong
• what it took to get traction when she first started out on her own
• how she “forced” herself to quit by booking so much work she had to
• when she knew she had to double her rates (and how she did it)
• what she did to book herself out for three months at a time
• the mistake she made with her one-day package
• how Nikki has expanded her business beyond copywriting
• when you know you need to say “no” to an opportunity
• what she did to make a bigger impact (and get paid more)
• how we as copywriters can make a bigger impact with our brands
• why numbers are the wrong thing to focus on as you start to grow
• what she’s done to grow her own influence
• the difference between being a freelancer and a business owner
• what she does to develop great relationships
• what the future of copywriting looks like to her
Bonus… we asked Nikki a couple of questions about her podcast and what works when potential guests pitch her. These questions aren’t included in this podcast, but you can find Nikki’s answers in The Copywriter Underground.
To hear all of this and more, click the play button below, or download it to your favorite podcast app (we like Overcast). You can also scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Marie Poulin
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Intro: Content (for now)
Rob: This podcast is sponsored by The Copywriter Underground.
Kira: It’s our new membership designed for you, to help you attract more clients, and hit 10K a month consistently.
Rob: For more information, or to sign up, go to thecopywriterunderground.com.
Rob: 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 Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for Episode 121, as we chat with brand strategist, copywriter, and storytelling expert, Nikki Groom, about creating personal brands that create a big impact; how storytelling humanizes our business; what it means to lead with empathy; and how copywriters can increase their income and impact without sacrificing their relationships and lifestyle.
Kira: So, welcome Nikki, it’s great to have you here.
Nikki: Thank you! I am so excited and happy to be here.
Rob: We’re glad to have you.
Kira: We met in your mastermind that we’ll talk about. So let’s kick this off with just this story about how you ended up as a brand messaging storytelling strategist, creative coach, leadership consultant, all the things. How did you get there?
Nikki: Yes. Well first, I think it’s worth mentioning that there have been many, many iterations when it comes to the many job titles that I could attach to my work. And that’s chiefly because, over the course of several years now, I’ve just learned so much. And actually it’s kind of been this ongoing battle like, am I this? Am I that? And I’m kind of … even though I do have all of those labels on my website, I am kind of allergic to labels, cause I’m like, ‘Well, it doesn’t quite fit in this box. It’s like this thing, and a bit of this thing.’
But my entry into the world of work back in the day was kind of a fluke. I was 22, fresh out of university, and looking for a job. I’d done some part-time work in the past for the UK subsidiary of a global manufacturer. And a friend told me that she thought they could use a marketing manager. So, I approached them about it, and they went for it, and I found myself kind of thrown into this role that most of the people at the company at that time thought I was too young for. Now I look back and I’m like, gosh, I was only 22. I was a little baby. And not qualified enough for it. But what they didn’t know is that I always rise to the challenges put in front of me, and this was a challenge that I’d chosen.
And so, over the months and years that followed, I poured my sweat, and my heart, and my soul into learning everything I could about marketing. And if I didn’t know what something meant, which was often, I researched it. I sat through endless webinars. I watched what other people were doing really well, and I adapted it to fit our business goals. I guess you could say I was kind of scrappy, and I wasn’t afraid of going all out to get us where we needed to go.
And so, after about two or three years in that position, I remember my boss at the time said, ‘Nikki, the marketing’s better than it’s ever been.’ And that just meant the absolute world to me. You know, it’s the biggest compliment. In a way, I guess, it was the validation that I needed to prove my haters wrong, but I feel like I wasn’t even really thinking about them at that point. I was just really focused on what I was trying to do.
So, after about five years with that company, and back in the UK, and in that position, I kind of felt this sense of completion. Like I’d already done everything I could possibly do, I’d learned everything I could possibly learn, and I was ready to hand on the baton. I call this actually my five year itch. It seems to be quite cyclical.
So I went down to London for the day, signed up with a bunch of different recruitment agencies, got offered this great job in London, went back and told my boss about it. He was an awesome boss, he was one of my earliest mentors. And he said, ‘Well, I don’t think they’re paying you enough, and I think that you should wait and see if something else opens up for you.’ And he wasn’t to know this, but within a couple of months, the marketing manager for the US subsidiary, the North American subsidiary, sent out an email saying, ‘Hey everyone. I’m leaving in two weeks. It’s been a pleasure working with you all.’
And when I read her email, my stomach kind of did this flip. And I was like, ‘Could I move to America and do that job?’ You know, basically the same job that I’d been doing. Could I take that and transfer that and do that in America instead? And, my boss was kind of on the same page. He knew that I wanted this new challenge, so he was thinking that he could send me over there for like, three months, or maybe a year, and then he could get me back. He thought that maybe that would scratch the itch. I was only supposed to go… come over for a year, but my visa was initially for three years. And at the end of each year I was like, ‘Well I’m not ready to go home yet.’ And even though I’d left everything and everyone I’d ever known, it was… I just had this sense that there was sort of this …there was so much more potential for me here to really do what I wanted to do, and take things to the next level.
And so, after five years in the States, I felt that familiar itch again. And, I had been paying a lot of attention. I’d really thrown myself into social media, like all the different networks, at a pretty early stage. So, for example, I remember how Obama heavily leaned on Twitter to get elected, back in 2008. And I was like, ‘Hmm, what is this platform? Let me investigate.’ And I discovered tons of really incredible people, and influencers, and people building online businesses.
And, I’ve always enjoyed to write since I was a kid. I’ve loved that piece. And I saw all these people starting these blogs, and then building businesses off the back of them. And I was like, ‘I want that. I want to try that.’ So I’d been kind of paying attention for several years. And, I finally reached the point when I knew it was time to take on my next challenge, which was starting my own business.
Kira: Wow. Okay. A lot to dig into. So, I want to start with the haters, because you just kind of mentioned that you wanted to prove your haters wrong. And I was like, ‘What? What haters?’ So, can you just tell us more about your haters, and how that helped you ultimately grow in your position?
Rob: Yeah, seriously, who could hate you?
Nikki: Well, you know, I look back … I was really shy growing up. And so, being quiet and introverted, and shy, people often underestimate you. And so, when I was about 15 I think it was, I had gone to get some work experience at a local newspaper. Loved it. Got to shadow reporters. Wrote a whole bunch of articles that were actually published in the newspaper. And I remember that the report that the editor wrote up at the end, basically said something to the effect … you know, I got all these boxes checked, and … you know, great, great, great, great. But they said, ‘Nikki will never be a journalist, because she’s too quiet.’ Something to that effect, those weren’t the exact words, I probably suppressed those.
But I remember that it floored me to hear this feedback, because at that time, I did actually go on and do lots of little bits and pieces of journalism here, there, and everywhere with like regional newspapers, and radio stations, and stuff like that, until I graduated. And, at first it floored me, but then it fired me up. I was like, ‘I’m going to show you. I am going to show you.’ And actually, right before I got this job as a marketing manager, I worked as a reporter for my local television network. I wish there was still some footage, some of it is actually hilarious. If I could find … it was really corny.
But, back to the haters. So then, yeah. I went for this job as a marketing manager. And I just heard rumors that people were saying, ‘She’s not qualified. She’s too young. She’s only … ‘ this actually was the worst … ‘She’s only getting the job because she’s sleeping with the director.’
Kira: Hohoho, they went there … yeah.
Nikki: But, funnily enough, I think that I might have played into it somehow, because I remember being invited out to lunch, and being told, ‘Oh, everyone goes out to lunch together, to this pub.’ And, no one else being there, instead of being like, ‘Wait, what’s happening?’ But, you know, none of that was relevant. Because I knew that I could do the job that was in front of me. And it didn’t matter what they said, I knew that I was going to do it, and I was going to do it to the best of my ability. And, I was going to figure out. So, yes, it really bothered me. But, I tell you what, it was probably good that I learned pretty early on to let that stuff go.
So, yeah, if I held on to it, and ruminated on it, I wouldn’t have been able to put all of my energy into the work. So, yeah.
Rob: Well, it’s interesting you say that. Because, even people who don’t necessarily have haters in the real world, we often have haters in our heads as well. So, being able to overcome that, maybe that’s a really good strategy for overcoming all of that negative talk that we have for ourselves, is picturing them as people that we’re going to prove wrong.
Nikki: Yeah, I really like that idea. And you’re so right, by the way, because that is actually a topic that’s close to my heart. I was interviewed recently, and I found myself saying … I kind of came to this little epiphany. That, I used to talk about the fact that, for a number of years, I was in a relationship that was not overtly abusive, but certainly, emotionally abusive. And then, I came to this realization that I had been in an abusive relationship with myself, for pretty much my entire life. Because I’d been listening to those voices. I’d been listening to that self-hate, and believing the stories that I told myself about myself.
And so, it has definitely been, and continues to be, an ongoing journey for me. But, I think that’s so much of being an entrepreneur of, putting yourself out there in the world, or just doing what you love in general, requires you to really shine the light on those haters, whether or not you give them names. Someone told me that it’s good to give your gremlins names.
Whether or not you do that, I think it’s great to shine a light on them, and just really flip them on the head. Because so often, it’s as simple as that to really get yourself into that more positive place, where you can forge ahead, and do what you have to do.
Kira: Yeah, I mean, I’ve always had haters, in my head, for sure. And, haters in real life. And it fires me up. I mean, it actually really works, but at the same time, you have to keep it in check, so it doesn’t overpower you.
So, I’m curious to hear about the early days in your copywriting business, when you got to that point after your five years at the company, launched your own business. How did you find those clients early on? How did you gain traction, in that first year?
Nikki: Yeah, well first of all, I never describe starting my own business as taking the leap, because I didn’t leap. I took the next logical step. And so I had mentioned that for years, I kind of had been paying attention to what different people were doing online. We had been building a vault of knowledge, so that I was more equipped when I finally did take my business full-time, to know what to do. And so, years prior to that point, I had taken a WordPress workshop, and learned how to start my own blog. And I’d actually started writing on a blog. Although, at the beginning, it was password protected, because I was terrified of anyone reading my writing.
And then, I joined different groups. Worked with different coaches, in mainly group situations. And began to network with other people, and share, okay, this is what I’m doing, is it of interest to you? Doing a little bit of work here, a little bit of work there. And actually, in the year before I took my business full-time, I was literally working 8 to 5. And then going home and working, often to the early hours of the morning. By the way, I could never do that today. I’m too old.
But, I did it, because I wasn’t afraid of hard work. And I wanted to do whatever it took to get where I wanted to go. And so, by the time I took the next logical step, and started my business, I already had clients lined up ready to go. To the point that I’d actually intentionally, because I knew I wanted to quit, and to start my business full-time in January of that next year. And so, I had actually booked myself out, so that I wouldn’t be able to show up and do my full-time job. So I was forced to have that really uncomfortable, difficult conversation with my boss at the time.
And even that was this arduous process, because the first time I tried to quit, he talked me out of it. And I remember going back to my desk and sitting there and being like, ‘ah, yeah, I don’t think I quit.’ So, two weeks later, I called him back on the internal phone and said, ‘Hey, could I talk to you in the conference room again?’ And that time, I just remember, I got to the point in the conversation where I was like, ‘The only way I can describe this is, it’s just something that I have to do.’ And finally, he seemed to get it. And so finally he let me go.
But yeah, so I had those clients lined up. And, I was the new copywriter on the block. And charging way less than I could have charged, because I didn’t know any better. Or I was like, this bargain pair of designer shoes on the sales rack by mistake. So people snapped me up. And I began booking out. I was booked out for like three months at a time in that first year. And, this is this really odd little story. I could make this sound way cooler than it is. Like, ‘Oh, yeah, me and Lewis Howes, or BFF since … so we were just having a chat one day … ‘ It wasn’t like that.
I basically started my business and entered this competition on a blog. And to enter, you just had to post a comment. And I won coaching sessions with Lewis Howes, with Jonathan Fields, with Alexandra Franzen, with a whole bunch of other people. And so, about six months in, I finally came around to having my half an hour coaching session with Lewis Howes. And I swear, I feel like he was chewing gum or something during the call. It was probably the same conversation he had had with people like a gazillion times before. It was like so obvious to him.
He said, ‘If you’re booking out for three months at a time, then you need to double your rates.’ And it was terrifying to me. I was like, ‘What?’ And I came off the phone. He was like, ‘You know, you need to hang up, and then go on your website, and change it. Like what’s stopping you?’ I thought I had to have this whole conversation with everybody in my network, and brace them for it, and get them ready for it. I didn’t realize I could just like change the price on my website.
So I did it. And I did actually, though, because I wasn’t that brave, I did say to everyone that I had worked with prior, ‘Hey, I’m going to hold your rates ’til the end of the year. But, next year your rates will go up as well.’ So I just had that little buffer for myself, because I didn’t want to completely shoot myself in the foot. And it worked.
Kira: I was just going to say, was he really chewing gum, the entire time?
Nikki: No, I actually … that is not a fact. I actually don’t know that. He just sounded like, he could be doing the call in his sleep. Like, gosh, just double your rate, for goodness sake. It’s not that hard.
Rob: Kira, you’re chewing gum right now.
Kira: I chew gum on every podcast interview.
Nikki: That’s because she can do it in her sleep.
Rob: Nikki, I want to ask about landing those first clients. Because this is something that so many beginning copywriters struggle with, is maybe they get that first client, but then, finding the second client is so hard. What were the things that you did in order to get booked out so long, so fast? Were you doing something different than what other copywriters do today?
Nikki: I don’t know. But, this is what I did, and so, people can compare notes if they want. And I guess it’s also worth saying that everyone’s path into being a successful business owner is going to be a little bit different. But I do feel like there are certain lessons that you need to learn pretty early on. And so, one thing that I tried that was great for me, before I had any clients actually … and I wouldn’t recommend this for a prolonged period of time, but maybe for a specific amount of time, or maybe do it for a specific number of people. But I actually worked for free.
So, I didn’t do any huge copywriting projects. I think I just did like an hour of writing coaching on the phone, for a handful of people, in exchange for a testimonial. And I got those testimonials on my website. And suddenly I had this credibility. Like people had actually worked with me. And then, once you’ve got some of those testimonials, and once you’ve got a little bit of experience working with people, and once you’ve worked with that first paid client, and they’ve had a really great result working with you, and they really had a great experience, you can get that referral from them. Or you can get a testimonial with that referral, and you can start to build momentum.
Another thing that was really great for me, was when I first started out, I just listed out all the things that I could possibly do on my website. I just had the longest list ever. And it probably looked like I didn’t really know what I was doing, because I kept getting phone calls from people who … I would talk to them for like an hour, and then realize, ‘Oh, they just want me to work for free.’ Like they can’t actually pay me.
It was very odd, actually, now I look back on, I’m like ‘Wow, those people were cheeky.’ So, even though I had done a little bit of that, I didn’t want to be doing that anymore. And so, for me, it was really important to have a clearly defined package. I had this 24 hour turnaround package in the beginning. I think I was inspired by Alexandra Franzen. Later found out that was like killing me, and … yeah. That wasn’t so good, maybe we can circle back to that.
But, it was something that people wanted. I worked very quickly, with a lot of people in a short amount of time. I was priced really competitively. Probably, as I say, a little bit lower than I should have been. And people loved it, they lapped it up, and they told each other about me. And then finally, the third piece is that, I had mentioned those small group coaching groups that I was a part of. So, I had already been growing my network, both online and offline. But I started really doing that proactively. So, if I look at my Facebook network, for instance today I have nearly 5,000 connections. I don’t know all of those people. I started just really starting to reach out to people, to have conversations. And I found that the best place to do that was in these little groups, where maybe we were all in a Facebook group together or something like that. And I could answer questions that people had, or demonstrate my expertise. My friend Marie Poulin talks about it in terms of strategic generosity, which I really like.
So just being a decent human being, and helping others, helped people identify that I was really good at, and encouraged them to reach out about working with me.
Kira: So, it sounds like things were going really well at that stage. It sounds like you had lots of business. You had your package. Where would you go from there? Where did you go from there? What wasn’t working at that point?
Nikki: The 24 hour package was not working. People loved it. They could get an about page and a sales page in one day.
Kira: Oh, my gosh.
Nikki: Here’s the thing. And-
Rob: Sign me up! I want some of those.
Kira: Can we bring it back to life? That’s great.
Nikki: Yes. Okay. So that was crazy. But, here’s the thing. And I think you guys understand this, I know. And any other copywriter will understand this. That some days you’re feeling … like you work with someone and they … you’re like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to start writing for them. I’m feeling so inspired. They clearly know what they’re all about. They’ve worked with a ton of people.’ Like, ‘Okay, I’ve got this, I’ve got this. They gave me tons of copy gold.’
And then some days, you’d be like, ‘Ahh, what do I write?’ And you just feel more blocked. Maybe other things were going on. And because this is the thing. When you’re writing for a living, as a copywriter, you’re not only doing that. You have to run the business as well, and do all of those other things. Particularly if it’s just you at the beginning.
So, it just wasn’t feasible to keep going in that way. And, I was working seven days a week. And I didn’t ever have a break. And I was just exhausted and stressed. And of course, when you’re stressed out like that, and close to burning out, then you kind of snap at the people that you love, and you’re not really great to spend time with. And, you find yourself becoming increasingly isolated from your friendships, and stuff like that. And it’s not sustainable. So, I knew that something had to change, so at the beginning of that second year, I was like, ‘I am not doing that anymore.’
Looking back, maybe I could have been more strategic about it. Like I did think about turning it into a course, and teaching other people how to do it. And I did a weekend workshop that went really well. And I just never got around to doing anything else with it. I was just so ready to be like, to dust my hands off and be like, ‘All right, see you later. Let’s move on to the next thing.’
And then I began really focusing more on website copy, which became my chief offering for quite a few years after that.
Rob: And today you’re doing a lot of things that are working. Tell us about some of the ways that you’ve expanded your business beyond copywriting.
Nikki: Yeah. So, again, that five year itch strikes again! So, I realized that a lot of my love for copywriting had dissipated. And I think that was largely as a result of the fact that, I’m not just a writer. And even though that’s how I had started my business, that’s what I had started my business doing. I could bring so much else to the table. I mean, marketing across the world for like, 10 plus years, had taught me so much. And working with hundreds of entrepreneurs had taught me so much.
And, one of the things that I really loved to do, is … and it always interests me when you discover copywriters who don’t actually speak to their clients. It’s like, how do you do that? And so, that was actually my favorite part. You know, that real, that exploration, that discussion. And reflecting back to people, the potential I could see in them, and what I heard them saying about how they wanted to show up in their businesses, and the people that they wanted to serve. Like I really love that whole process.
I worked with a StrengthsFinder coach friend of mine, who said to me, ‘Well, do you realize your number one strength is strategy. And it actually runs through all of your other top strengths.’ It was kind of like this light bulb moment. Because I was like, ‘Oh.’ Like I haven’t really been calling that out. That is the thing that I love the most, that I do the most, that really benefits the people the most. And I’m not calling it out in any real way.
Around that time as well that I spoke to her, a series of different things happened. So, I began meditating, for one thing. And now I’m such a big fan of slowing down to speed up. I feel like you have to create that space in your business, in order to create what’s next. And even just slowing down for 10 minutes a day really helped me begin to do that.
I also started saying no to clients or projects that didn’t feel like a great fit for me. Because I was like, I keep getting trapped in the same cycle of, taking on all the things, working with all the clients, and then feeling really resentful. I don’t want to feel like that anymore.
So, I started to connect with people, and say yes to different projects that challenged me in new ways. Things that I hadn’t done before. So, for example, someone came to me and wanted me to help them launch their book. They had six weeks to do it, because they’d kind of got shafted by their publishers. I said, ‘You know what? I have … ‘ And I was totally transparent. I was like, ‘I’ve never done this before. But I know I can help you.’ It was a bit like my 22 year old self as a marketing manager for the first time. I just knew, there was something in me like, ‘I know I can do this. I know I can figure out.’
And so, we had six weeks, and we launched the book, and it went to number one in Amazon in four different categories. Now, people do that every day. And I like to talk about that particular launch as a happy confluence of events. But, it taught me, ‘Yeah, Nikki, you can do … you don’t just have to do this work. You can try your hand at different things.’
Then I … actually the next month, I was bought out by a company for the first time. And, they had me coach speakers for a global leadership event, around their stories. And so, that was super fun for me as well. It’s something really different. And so I began to look for ways in which I could … a friend of mine describes it as, ‘High value, low touch.’
So this idea of not immersing myself so deeply in doing all of this work, but pulling myself out, allowing myself to be more of that strategist. And visionary, which is just the place where I love to play in. And so, that led me to working at a high level as a brand, and messaging, and marketing strategist for businesses that were owning multiple seven figures. And I continue to do that work today.
Then, I also run, as Kira had mentioned earlier, a business accelerator and mastermind group for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to transform their vision for change, basically, into reality. By showing up authentically, revolutionizing their messaging, humanizing their marketing, and creating a movement that maximizes their impact.
And I continue to say yes to the really fun projects that come across my path. But just the other day … sorry, I’m nearly finished speaking … I’m like, and another thing!
But, the other day … I’ve been going back to this idea of leaning when to say no to things. I’ve been really looking recently at … again, a friend of mine had mentioned this concept of high quality no’s. And so I think at a certain point in your business, when things are going really well, you actually sometimes have to say no to things that maybe you really want to do, and sound super cool. So for example, there was an opportunity to emcee an event here that was going to be this huge tech conference. And I was like, no, it’s going to pull me away from what I really need to be doing. And, the other day, someone asked me. They start this great idea for a startup, and they’ve started million dollar startups before. They have the experience, they have the expertise. And they wanted me to come in as a marketing strategist.
And right now, it would just be too much of a stretch for me, and so I had to say no to that. But that feels really good when you can be at that point. When you can say no to the things that aren’t in complete alignment with your vision for where you want to go, and say yes to things that stretch you, and help you grow in new ways.
Kira: Hey, we’re just jumping into the show today to tell you a little bit more about The Copywriter Underground. Rob, what do you like best about this membership?
Rob: So, this membership community is full of copywriters that are investing in their businesses, and taking what they do seriously. Everything is focused around three ideas: Copywriting, and getting better at the craft that we all do. Marketing and getting in front of the right customers, so that you can charge more, and earn more. And also mindset, so that you can get out of your head, and focus on the things that will help you be successful at what we do.
There’s a private Facebook group for the members of the community. And we also send out a monthly newsletter, that’s full of advice. Again, on those three areas: copywriting, marketing, and mindset. Things that you can mark up, and tear out, put them in your files. Save them for whatever. And it’s not going to get lost in your email inbox.
Kira, what do you like about The Copywriter Underground?
Kira: So, I love the monthly hot seat calls, where our members have a chance to sit in the hot seat, and ask a big question, or get ideas. Or talk through a challenge in their business. Because we all learn from those situations. And then I also feel like, the templates we include in the membership are valuable, because who want to reinvent the wheel? And Rob and I end up sharing a lot of the templates, and resources we use in our own businesses. So, I would definitely want to grab those.
Rob: So if you were interested in joining a community of copywriters that are investing in a business and in themselves, and trying to do more … get more clients, earn more money consistently. Go to TheCopywriterUnderground.com to learn more. Now, back to the program.
Kira: So I want to talk more about the high value, low touch offerings. Because as you were talking about it, I’m like, ‘Okay, I want to do that. That sounds great.’ So, for any copywriter that wants to move in that direction of high value, low touch, what are some things they can do to move in that direction, put those offers out there, and start attracting the right clients who are interested in those offers?
Nikki: So I would say that the number one thing that you need to do is somehow create some space for yourself. So, a mentor of mine once suggested, setting yourself the goal. But this is kind of a challenging goal, to earn twice as much in half the time, so that then you can take a break, and take a step back, and create what’s next.
For me, that’s never worked. For me, I had mentioned I had started working on a different level with certain people. And so, they were paying me a lot more than I had ever got as, kind of being the, quote-unquote ‘hired help’. When I was just a copywriter that came in and was told, ‘Hey, go off and write that.’ I wasn’t getting paid as much as I could if I came in and said, ‘Hey, let me be in on that executive meeting. Let me come in, and let me give my opinion. Let me tell you what I see as possible for you. And then let me go off and write, or then let me work with your copywriter, and help them to write it.’
I found ways to work with people at a much higher level. And because I then had more income coming in, I was able to play with some of the things that I really wanted to do. And so, again, going back to that idea of the Mastermind group. I’ve always really loved … like for me, my blog has never really been a place where I’m like, ‘Here’s how you write a sales page.’ I think I did write a blog press like that once. But I’ve actually always really, really enjoyed learning something for myself, and then passing that knowledge back to people who might be like a step or two behind me, for instance.
And so, I love this idea of playing with creating some kind of leveraged offering. And initially, I thought it was a course. But, I really love to swim at the deep end, so the mastermind group made sense for me. And I will tell you … and Kira, you were part of that very first group that I led … it was really weird, not working my ass off like for 24 hours a day … no, I’m exaggerating. But, it felt odd to show up, hold the space. Help mentor people a little bit, or encourage them and support them in the ways that they needed. And then, hang up and walk away. It felt really odd. I think we have to be working really hard between a 9 and 5 every single day, otherwise we’re not going to earn the money that we need. And I think that that’s a fundamental mindset shift that has to happen. You can provide real value. And you don’t necessarily have to be killing yourself in the process.
Rob: So Nikki, one of the things that you teach is, all about creating a personal brand that shows up in really different ways, and creates big impact. How can we as copywriters do more of that?
Nikki: Someone said to me the other day … and I actually wrote this down, in case it came up in the course of our conversation today. Because, I think that this is such a great thing for every copywriter to think about. And here’s the thing, I have to just give a little side note here, because when I worked with that StrengthsFinder coach friend of mine, one of my strengths is significance. And so that means, I’m all about making an impact. And, this friend of mine helped me realize, actually not everyone cares about that. Like some people just want to earn a crap load of money. And then, go home and go to sleep at night.
For me, making an impact is a really big deal. And so, for other copywriters who feel called in that direction as well, who really want to make a difference in a meaningful way … this quote. A friend of mine said to me, ‘Starting to write things down transformed our entire civilization.’ And, maybe that sounds really melodramatic, but when he said that, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so right.’ And I felt like … tears pricked my eyelids, I got goosebumps, like all the sings like, ‘You’re hearing truth right now. And you need to share this with other people.’
I think that copywriters are so important, because we already know how to use words. We already know how to use words to break down barriers, and connect across cultural differences, and engage through our shared values. I feel like, the power of the written words. Like there is nothing like it in terms of connecting us with each other, and moving people into action, and strengthening and inspiring people to do more.
And so, I feel like there is such an opportunity. I feel like if there is … even beyond your business. And I feel like it does ultimately feed your business, because if people see that you are also concerned with the causes that they care deeply about, they’re going to want to work with you. They’re going to want to align themselves with you. They’re going to want to feed you business in some way, shape, or form.
And again, that’s not why you do it. But I think, just caring enough to use your voice about the things that matter to you … it’s just going to open so many doors for you, that maybe … maybe you can’t even see what it’s going to do for you right now, but I think it is so, so, so important.
Kira: What do you think the state of leadership looks like in our online marketing space today? As far as what you see that you’re excited about? Or, maybe what you see that’s not working, if you have any examples.
Nikki: Yeah. I think that there is this big focus on … I guess in terms of what’s made me not working. And I’ve recognized this in myself in the past as well. Actually I just wrote an Instagram post about this today.
But I feel like there’s almost this … there’s too much focus on numbers. Like we feel like we have to have … you know, if you look at any influences on Instagram, they have like almost a million followers. It’s like, ‘I can’t ever get to that point.’ And I realize, sometimes you just have to start small, and you have to start with the people who are already in your orbit. Who already care what you have to say, who are already engaging with you. Start where you are with what you have, and be real. And share something of who you are. Not from a place of ego, but from a place of, this is who I am, this is the reality of my situation. This is what I hope it can help you with. And, I think that goes a long, long way.
Rob: So, yeah, can we talk a little bit more about this growing your influence, and how we as copywriters can do it? How have you done it, and what do teach the people in your own mastermind?
Nikki: Yeah, that’s definitely how I’ve done it. And I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to want to build your list. And I absolutely think that all of us should be focusing on that in some way, shape, or form. But what I’m saying is that, the focus should be more on looking at the people who you most want to serve. Recognizing what they’re struggling with, and how they’re feeling. And then noticing how you can speak to that. How you can meet that need. And then creating value. So, if you want to do a webinar, well why are you doing a webinar? What do you really want people to get out of that?
And you had mentioned, Kira, right at the beginning, this idea of leading with empathy, which I talk about often. And really, that’s what it is, it’s noticing what people are struggling with. Noticing how they’re feeling. And then creating things that help people. And so, I’m not necessarily saying anything different to anyone else. But what I’m saying is, there’s a different emphasis. It’s more on … I hear it talked about as, human-to-human marketing. Which kind of sounds ridiculous, like of course we’re marketing to humans! But I think it’s really easy to forget that, and lose that connecting tissue, if you will, that brings us all together.
So, I don’t know if I am answering your question here, but feel free to ask more questions if I’m not being clear.
Rob: I think it’s good. The idea of the human-to-human, and the fact that we lose focus on that a lot, because we start to focus on things like names on the list. Or people into the funnel. And, we really do forget that it’s a human being on the other side of every communication. And so having empathy for that person, means not being manipulative. It means doing things that are in their best interest, in addition to the things that are in our best interest. So I really like what you say about those kinds of things.
Nikki: Absolutely. And thank you for saying it so much more succinctly than I just did.
Rob: I’m not sure that I did, but yeah, thank you.
Kira: So Nikki, why do you think more copywriters aren’t stepping into these leadership roles, and leading with the change they want create? And, being more vocal, and showing up and doing all those things that you teach, and help other entrepreneurs with? Is it fear, or what holds us back?
Nikki: I think that’s a couple of different things. I’ve been talking a lot in my work recently about owning your power. Really owning that sense of inner power, that propels you forward. I think there are a lot of us who wrestle with the imposter complex. And who maybe don’t recognize everything that they have to bring to the table. You know, the vision that you have. The bigger ‘why’ that you have. The mission that you have. And all of the strengths, and the skills, and the knowledge, and the expertise, and the experience that you bring.
And they don’t value the time that they have as much as they could. And so, I think a lot of it is beginning to use your time wisely, as we’ve talked about, and starting to look at opportunities where you can provide a lot of value, but not have to be so immersed in the work. Are there things that you’re doing that a thousand other people could do, for instance. And starting to look as well at what you enjoy the most. I think as well, really asking yourself, ‘Do I want to be a freelancer? Or do I want to be a business owner?’ Because at some point, if you want to really amplify your impacts, then you have to shift out of that freelancer’s mindset, to that other business owner. You have to begin seeing yourself as the head of your business, and the owner of it. And, act accordingly.
I feel like, if you forever immerse yourself in doing the work, and don’t ever use what you’ve learned on the ground working one-on-one with people to inform your signature process, and what you create next, then you’re forever going to be working on the ground with those people. Forever! So, I think that a lot of it is really shifting how you see yourself. And that’s what I’m really passionate about helping people to do. And so, I had mentioned earlier about really helping reflect back to people the potential that I can see in them. I love that the mastermind group, for instance, gives me the opportunity to do that. Because so often I think that that’s what we need in order to give ourselves that little extra push, and to stretch ourselves in a new direction, and in the way that we want, so that we can do what we want to do.
Kira: Can we talk a little bit about relationships? Because I feel like it’s come up in this conversation, and at least from the outside looking in at your business, and your growth, it seems like relationships have been such a big part of how you’ve grown your business, and doing as well as you’ve done. So, what would you say to copywriters … especially ones maybe just starting out … regarding how important relationships are to their business, and good places to start. And, just the impact it’s had on your business.
Nikki: Yeah, definitely. So, as an introvert, I have to say this that it would be way easier for me to never speak to anybody, and just keep my head down and do the work. And not have a conversation with someone that I don’t know. But, every single time that I’ve pushed myself to do it, it’s always led to great things. And so, I never can act with someone because I’m like, ‘I want to see what they can do for me.’ I just connect with them because I’m like, ‘They seem awesome. I feel like there’s ways that we can collaborate.’ Or I just kind of like to get a sense of how I might support them, because I think that we have some stuff in common. You know, it’s sort of going back to this idea of leading with empathy, really recognizing who the other person is, seeing them as everything that they are, and not just kind of a ticket to something else.
When I first launched my business full-time … I live in Rhode Island, which is such an obscure little state to start a business in. But it’s also … I should just plug it as well … it’s a very cool little state. And I convinced myself that there was no one else like me here. And there was no one else with an online business. And so, I was like, ‘Great! I’m going to prove myself wrong.’ And so I started just connecting with people. I’d connect with people on social media. I’d get referred to people. And I just started going on coffee dates. I’ve always found that way easier. You might be someone that loves to go to big events, and talk to all the people in the room. I am not that person.
So, I like to go on little tea or coffee dates, and not have to … I haven’t had a business card for years. I don’t want to have to need a business card. You know, very occasionally it might come up that I need one. And I’m like, ‘Hey, just give me yours, and I’ll reach out to you.’ But I love those hours, or a couple of hours with someone where you can really go deep. The same, I’ve done that online as well. So, I’ll say to someone, ‘Hey, I love what you’re up to. Can we get on a Zoom call, and can we chat?’
And, you know, again, you might maybe have in the back of your mind that they could be a client for you at some point in the future. But, maybe just go into it, just wanting to get to know them better. I will say that this has really worked for me, because in terms of my own business, I do have a significant network now. Certainly not anywhere as big as some people, but I have a significant network. And I feel like … I feel known in that network. I feel like people see me, and they understand me, and vice-versa. Like, there have been so many people that I’ve had on the podcast that I’ve been connected to for years, that I just felt really … I just felt like I already knew them. And they felt the same way. So we’d get on this podcast, and be like, ‘Why haven’t we ever spoken before? I’ve been following you for the longest time. We’ve been Facebook friends. And I love everything that you’re up to.’ And it’s just this mutual love fest.
But it’s really worked, because for years … and even though I’ve moved away from a lot of one-on-one copywriting, at least for now … in a lot of Facebook groups that I’m a member in, people will still put my name forward. So I still … even though I don’t actually have copywriting on my website right now, I still get people reaching out to me for copy. So, it’s a great feeling to then have these people who … they want to scratch your back, and you get to scratch theirs, and put their name forward when opportunities come up. It’s just really great, it’s just been really great. And it has been so important. And so I’m glad that you asked me about that, because I think it … yeah, it’s fundamental, really.
Kira: Yeah, and it’s one of the big reasons I joined your mastermind group is just that I had followed you, and was familiar with you, for a couple of years, at least. And, just really wanted to connect with you, because I love what you’re doing, in this online marketing space, and wanted to learn from you. So I am onboard. I feel like relationships have fueled my business, too.
So, at this point, I want to ask you a final question. It’s a big question. What do you think the future of copywriting looks like, based on your experience?
Nikki: That’s a good question! Let me think. So, the future of copywriting. I think that I would love to see every copywriter that’s listening, really start to make that shift from freelancer to business owner. And just start to look at their business in terms of, how can I serve people more fully, in terms of bringing everything that I am to the table. How can I create offerings that allow me to get back more of my time, reduce stress in my life, and … you know, someone talked to me once about this idea of creative play in your business. Obviously, we have to do bookkeeping, if we don’t have a bookkeeper. Or even if sometimes if we do, like we have to do some of the boring stuff. I get it.
But, finding areas of ease, and fun, and play in your business. When you literally wake up in the morning and you’re like, ‘Awesome! I get to do this all day today.’ Like, for instance, today I am editing a client’s book. And for me, like, call me weird, but that’s fun for me. I want to do that.
So starting to notice those things, and create offerings … and it might take you a little while, right? So you might want to just work with people intensively for two, three years, and really get a feel for your approach, and how you like to work with people. And then see what you can build out of that. See where you can take that in terms of speaking engagements, or creating courses, or online offerings, or … notice where you’re bringing more to the table than just the words themselves. Even though they’re incredibly powerful.
Rob: That’s awesome, Nikki. Thank you so much. If people want to connect with you, learn more about you, hop on your email list, where should they go?
Nikki: So, the easiest way to connect with me, I’m on social media pretty much everywhere as Nikki Groom. My website is NikkiGroom.com. I like to keep things simple. And hey, if you want to subscribe to the podcast, and check that out, you can either do that on my website, or as I say, just look for Movement Makers. I’d love to hear from you. I’m not one of those people that keeps myself behind this protective glass. I want to get to know you. So, if you’ve listened to this interview, and you want to get to know each other better, then shoot me a message, give me a comment, or a DM. Slide into my DMs … I should never say that, should I? Because I’d love to get to know you better.
Kira: All right, thank you so much, Nikki. I really enjoyed this.
Rob: Yeah, thanks.
Nikki: This has been awesome. Thank you both.
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show was a clip from Gravity, by Whitest Boy Alive, available at 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.
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