TCC Podcast #373: When Business Gets Tough with Rob Marsh and Kira Hug - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #373: When Business Gets Tough with Rob Marsh and Kira Hug

We’re talking all about online business myths and what to do when you’re struggling in your business on the 373rd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. This episode is a Kira and Rob only show—no guest. And they delve into the realities of running a business today. The path is seldom up and to the right (always growing) and often so challenging, you’re tempted to get a “real” job or at least something part-time until client work gets steadier. We cover a lot of ground in this one.

Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.

The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:

The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground

Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh:  Almost no one expects to launch a business and have everything go easily from the beginning, but after a few years, well by then, things should be getting easier, right? Well, not always, and not exactly. 

I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of the Copywriter Club. And on today’s episode of the Copywriter Club podcast, my co-founder Kira Hug and I talk about a couple of business myths. Like the idea that your progress should always be up and to the right. That is that things always get easier and more profitable year after year. Or the idea that replacing clients with products and passive income is easy. or the all-too-common belief that taking a job in-house is a failure. I also talked a little bit about how to prepare for a business downturn. If you struggle to find clients or your business hasn’t been growing as quickly as you hoped, you may want to stay around and listen to the end of this episode. 

But first, this episode of the Copywriter Club podcast is brought to you by the Copywriter Underground. You’ve heard me talk about this for the past few weeks. It truly is the best membership for copywriters, content writers, marketers of all kinds. And let me just give you an idea of what you get for what you pay every single month. First, there’s a monthly group coaching call with Kira and me where you can get answers to your questions, advice about overcoming any business or client or writing challenge that you have. When we do one-on-one coaching, we charge several hundred dollars an hour for that. it’s included in your membership. 

There are regular training sessions on different copy techniques. Sometimes that’s from Kira and myself. Sometimes that’s an expert that we bring in to talk about something they’re doing interesting in their business. All of those are designed to help you get better at this thing that we do. We’ve been talking about new AI tools and ways to use AI in the underground. even new tools, techniques, prompts that you can use to have AI help you get more done quicker. And on top of that, there’s this massive library of training and templates. And the community is full of copywriters who are ready to help you with almost anything, including sharing leads from time to time. What an amazing value that is. To find out more of what it includes, go to 

And with that, let’s get to our discussion for a few suggestions about how to prepare for the inevitable downturns and hard times in your business. 

All right, Kira, just you and me again today. And we’re going to talk about a couple of things. But before we jump into talking about recessions and making our businesses stronger and all of that stuff, I put together a couple of getting to know you questions that are maybe a little bit different. Let’s start easy. Mountain or beach vacation?

Kira Hug:  I feel like we’ve covered that one on the pod already. And I feel like last time you asked me, I was like, I don’t, I don’t know. I can’t choose between mountain or beach. Because the question stresses me out. So I remember it, but I mean, I would probably lean towards beach if I had to choose. I just, I like both. It’s hard for me to choose. 

Rob Marsh:  Why does it stress you out? 

Kira Hug:  Because I don’t like choosing. This is like anytime anyone asks me like, Oh, what’s your favorite song? What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite memory? How are we supposed to choose when we want to experience everything in life? So anyway, this is why I like to interview people and not be interviewed. That’s why. But what are you like? Mountain or beach? Which one would you prefer?

Rob Marsh:  I live so close to the mountains and so far away from the beach that I feel like vacation is getting away from what I have or what I know and getting to the thing that I don’t have. So, you know, I only see the ocean a couple times a year if I’m lucky. And so I’ll take a beach vacation any day. Even a mountain lake beach is a good vacation. I’m like you, I love mountains and you know, somebody said, Hey, yeah, we’ve got a couple of weeks for you in a cabin in Montana or whatever. I would take it. But beaches just feel vacation-y to me where mountains feel just a little bit more like regular recreation.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and I think because I moved, like it’s so weird to live near the beach. I’ve never in my entire life lived near a beach. And so now, you know, at this stage, living near a beach for the past year, and this is probably where I’m going to be for a while, I think I’m still getting used to the fact that a beach is a mile away like I could walk or jog to the beach and there are beautiful beaches you know a short drive away and so in some ways I think it’s just like it hasn’t fully set in that it’s right there like I don’t have to travel and it’s really cool at times after after work to take the kids and go to the beach and watch the sunset on the beach and it’s just again it’s like I’m like, do I live near a beach? I just can’t quite handle it. So I think that’s also why the question stresses me out and just, I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just moved too many times. So I’m like, I don’t even know where I live.

Rob Marsh: There’s something magical about just the monotony of wave after wave crashing in on a beach. And I think I could sit on the beach and just watch the waves all day long, all week long. It’d take me a long time to get tired of that.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and especially if you have, you know, if you’re there during a storm, it’s really fun when the waves are so big and crazy, like that’s a good time. Or again, like a sunset because everyone gathers and all of a sudden the beach is filled with, you know, with locals who want to experience it. So it is a magical place. So okay, I guess I would choose a beach in the end, even though I live near it now. That would be my pick.

Rob Marsh:  Beach. Fair enough. Question number two, this one’s a hard one. What’s your Bacon number? And just for context, everybody probably knows this, but there’s that old internet game of how many degrees to Kevin Bacon you are. And so I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about this, like how many degrees away from Kevin Bacon are you?

Kira Hug:  Yeah, I figured it out when you were going to ask me that. And I had to kind of figure it out and map it out. And I guess it depends. When you do it, does it mean you have to have had a conversation with someone in order to have that degree and that relationship?

Rob Marsh:  Let’s just call it a connection for now.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, but what warrants a connection? Is it you made eye contact? Is it you were within 10 feet of each other?

Rob Marsh: Well, for me, I think it’s probably going to be some kind of way where you can say, I am connected to this person. It’s like, I know this person from this thing or from this place. So maybe you talked to them, or maybe you do know them personally. But I will leave that up to you whether you go that hard on that definition.

Kira Hug:  OK, so I could be two degrees away.

Rob Marsh: That’s amazing. How? Who do you know that knows Kevin Bacon?

Kira Hug:  And how do we get him on the podcast? This is where I was in the vicinity of someone who has a relationship with Kevin Bacon. When I was in SAG for a year and in a movie called Sex and the City, I was on screen with Sarah Jessica Parker. who is one degree away from Kevin Bacon because they were in Footloose together. And so therefore, I am two degrees away from Kevin Bacon. And if we say, well, no, you didn’t actually talk to her. Okay, well then I did talk to Kim Cattrall, who was also in the movie, who did acknowledge me and made eye contact and she spoke to me. So that means I’d be three degrees if we’re getting technical. But do either of them remember me? Do we have a connection? No.

Rob Marsh:  Okay. So that’s definitely closer than I think I can get myself.

Kira Hug:  Do I win?

Rob Marsh:  I think you do. You win. Your bacon number is less than mine. So I think my bacon number is four. I had a roommate in college, Mike, who left to left Salt Lake City, went down to LA to become a producer. He may have done some acting as well. It’s been a little while since I’ve talked to Mike. He’s an awesome roommate, a really funny guy. 

He’s been a producer on shows like Real Housewives of New York City, and he produced Tori and Dean in Love with Tori Spelling. Tori Spelling is two degrees away from Kevin. She was in a movie called Soul Good with Octavia Spencer, who was in Beauty Shop with Kevin Bacon. So if I do that, I’m four links away. Now there may be somebody out there that I know who’s closer connected, but I don’t know who that is.

Kira Hug:  Okay. Okay. So, I mean, it’s good. You actually knew, you know, you knew the connections, which is better than what I do.

Rob Marsh:  I could definitely call Mike and just say, hey, it’s been a while. Let’s talk or whatever. And I’m sure he probably could call Tori and maybe Tori and Octavia. But that’s as close as I can do with just some quick looking today. Like I said, maybe there’s somebody I know who’s got a closer connection. I’ll have to ask around.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. Well, I think I’m just going to say I won it.

Rob Marsh: Last question. What did you enjoy most about high school?

Kira Hug:  Yeah, I was thinking about this and it was such a hard question.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’d be easier to say, what did you hate most about high school? I know. Most of us have something like that.

Kira Hug:  You know, I was a joiner. I joined every society, club, yearbook, sports teams. I tried out for everything. I just kind of went for it and was very busy in a good way where I just was connected to lots of different groups. I guess what I would say is that I liked being a part of different communities and not being in one click, right? It wasn’t just like I wasn’t just with the jocks, but I was friends with them. But then I also was in the art club and the poetry club and all these different circles and with the, you know, the running for secretary and president. So with that community, and I loved kind of jumping back and forth to all those groups and kind of never really fitting perfectly in one of them. So I think that’s just been a theme throughout my life. And I think it’s definitely started in high school.

Rob Marsh:  Nice. You were popular with everyone.

Kira Hug:  I was friends with most people. I will say that. I don’t know if I’d say I was popular. I was friends with a lot of people. Nice. What about you, Rob?

Rob Marsh:  So I think the thing that I enjoy most just looking back is my core high school friends are still my friends today. You know, so there’s there’s like three or four guys that I could call any one of them and they would help me bury a body or whatever the thing is that we’ve just been loyal for decades. So that’s probably the thing I like most. As far as like activities and stuff goes, I had a really cushy senior year where I had like four classes in the morning and then I had afternoons off while everybody else was finishing out. I guess I had taken enough credits so that I went home at lunch. I had a very easy laid back senior year, which is definitely the way to do senior year.

Kira Hug:  Mine was not laid back. I think I had a couple of breakdowns and like Jesse Spano moments where I was like, I can’t do this anymore. I remember crying. I was a waitress and so I remember crying at the restaurant with the owner and I was like, I can’t do all of it. I had to like pull back slowly because it was just too many activities. Basically, it’s my life now. So this is just a reminder that nothing really changes. We’re the same people.

Rob Marsh:  And maybe I’m still laid back and taking afternoons off. It doesn’t feel like it. I’ve got to get back to that.

Kira Hug:  Maybe that’s why when I messaged you, I’m like, where’s Rob right now? Oh, he’s taken off for the afternoon.

Rob Marsh:  Taking a nap.

Kira Hug:  That’s fun. Let’s go back to high school. Those are some good times that I would never want to go back to again.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I think I agree. There were definitely some good things that I would relive, but it’s probably not worth going back for.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. Also, what’s with burying the dead bodies? I feel like this is a reference that, you know, in one of our podcast episodes, I think you mentioned potentially killing your neighbor.

Rob Marsh:  No, I don’t think I’ve ever said that on a podcast. You’re outing me right now.

Kira Hug:  You said it. You’ve said it multiple times. Oh, maybe that was in a private conversation. Sorry.

Rob Marsh:  I would not. For the record, I would never. I would not kill my neighbor.

Kira Hug:  We can edit that out.

Rob Marsh:  I definitely have a neighbor who’s a little difficult to get along with. And like I said, I would never kill her. But I do know what it’s like to feel some anger towards a neighbor.

Kira Hug:  Yes, we are we promote nonviolence on this podcast.

Rob Marsh:  Nobody should be hurting their neighbors. In fact, yeah, I’m working on trying to get along with everybody.

Kira Hug:  So yeah, but it is funny how I feel like, I don’t know, I’m not gonna Stereotype and say guys just do this. But like my husband will say this too with his best friends. He’s like, yeah, we would like we would kill for each other and we bury bodies for each other. I’m like, I don’t say that about my friends like No, we’re great friends, but I’m not like I would kill for this friend of mine, but it just seems like anyway total loyalty among my friends, I guess so I doubt any of us would actually kill anybody.

Rob Marsh:  Maybe I have a friend that would. Who knows? Hopefully, hopefully not. All right, we’ve gone way, way beyond what those getting to know questions should have gotten us.

Kira Hug:  We’ve just cut out the murder talk and focused on what we’re here to talk about today, which is business has been hard for many copywriters. We’ve talked about that before. And so we want to talk about ways. I don’t know if it’s recession proofing, but just ways you can think about new opportunities, even when you’re in a difficult time. So Rob, I guess, how would you introduce this segment of the show? 

Rob Marsh:  Well, I think there’s a lot of different things that we can talk about and cover here. You got an email or had a conversation with a copywriter that we know recently who was thinking about taking on a part-time job and stepping not away from a freelance business, but trying to find something to bring in some additional money and some additional stability, because it has, for a lot of copywriters, been difficult to find consistent clients, to find consistent projects month after month. 

What maybe came easy four or five years ago, or even two, three years ago, has certainly been harder for a lot of copywriters. Not all. There are some copywriters who are still succeeding and doing really well. And I think they do some of the things that we’re going to be talking about in this episode to make sure that they’re doing well. But just this idea of finding some stability, because the economy has been a little rocky, We’re not in an official recession, but there are certainly some copywriters who are in a work recession of their own for a variety of reasons. In the coming year, who knows if there will be a recession? 

There are different predictions. I think TD Securities, which is an investment firm, says that there’s a 65% chance of a recession next year. Bankrate, I was just looking this up earlier this morning. Bankrate, which is a credit card issuer and financial company, says that there’s a 46% chance of a recession next year. So, who knows if it’ll actually happen. But all of us go through ups and downs in our business, and I think there’s this idea that once we get through that first year or two of freelancing, and we have a few clients, we know what we’re doing, we’ve got our system set up that all of the movement in our business is, you know, up and to the right. And it’s always growth, and it’s always going to get better. And the reality is, it’s more like a roller coaster, there’s ups, and then there’s downs. And you may forever really struggle with feast and famine. Where it’s like, you know, tons of work, and then no work. But also, also, that is sometimes what happens. is that we get busy fulfilling contracts and working for clients, and so we don’t pitch or we don’t network or create those connections. And so there’s a real up and down, and that doesn’t necessarily go away at year two or three or even seven or eight. It’s pretty constant, and it’s something that I think a lot of people don’t like to talk about, that freelancing is hard, and it’s hard a lot of the time for a lot of us all of the time.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, it’s just a good reminder that this is why a lot of people don’t do it. I definitely felt that, you know, over the last year, too, where I look at some of my, some of my friends and family members, you know, who are especially who are like near my age, and who are working for companies. And, you know, we could argue, well, they’re protected or not, because I don’t think you’re necessarily protected or have any future safety working for another company. And I’ve seen that firsthand. I do have moments where I’m like, wow, you know, they have this steady pay and they have insurance and they aren’t stressing like many of us are about what’s going to happen six months from now. And so I think it’s just a good reminder, like if we’re on this path, most of the time it’s not the easier path and sometimes it may feel easy and fun and we have that flexibility but for the most part this is harder and this is something that is not for everyone and also there’s nothing wrong with it not being for you and we also can jump off this track and take breaks and also pull in other jobs and take side jobs and take side gigs or maybe even just decide I’ve had enough stress I want to build my skill set and I’m going to build it within another organization and have some steady income get some experiences and then come back to the freelance world and then come back to my own business and there’s no shame in that and I think We’re talking about it more and more, that there’s no shame in it. But I know we still feel like there is, even though we’re starting to talk about it more and more.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I think there’s this idea that if I quit freelancing in order to work for an agency or in-house for another company, that I’m failing at something. And I don’t see that at all. In fact, we talked to Justin Goff a couple of weeks ago on the podcast. And he said he’s a big proponent of working in-house. I started my career in-house and then spent several years working in an agency. And really that time there gave me mentoring and gave me experience, gave me opportunities to work on all kinds of projects without having to worry about where is the next client coming from and having to take care of my systems and invoicing and all of that stuff. So it isn’t a failure at all. Sometimes it’s exactly the right move. in order to build your skills and get the training, the mentoring, the experience that you need in order to do whatever the next thing is that your career takes you to.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. And I think you made a good point about the financial gain and that we might not have growth every year. I think especially if you have seen it over the last few years, you’re just kind of expecting it. And you’re like, of course we’re going to grow 20% this year. And when you don’t see that, it’s really easy to feel like you failed or you did something wrong. Instead of just the market change and that’s how it is for most for most Copywriters right now, but I’ve changed my mindset a little bit to just think about okay. Well, how am I growing? With my skill set. How am I growing as a leader? How am I growing as an entrepreneur? We can grow in so many other ways other than just financially and even though that’s important. We got to pay our bills and I’m just looking at other ways at this point to really feel empowered in what I’m doing rather than feel defeated, which is really easy to feel during a year like 2023 where it’s like, okay, not paying myself as much as I did last year. So I’m failing when actually I feel like I’m a better entrepreneur this year and so much smarter and wiser than I was five years ago.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I think that’s important. There’s a lot of different ways to grow. Finances or income is not the only way. And making smart investments is really part of making sure that the next year or two become more successful or help you achieve something, some other goal that you have.

Kira Hug:  That being said, we’ve got to pay the bills. And so it’s all great to be like, oh, I’m empowered, and I feel like a real entrepreneur, and I’m solving problems. But if you are not getting paid, it hurts. And that’s just, I mean, you can feel it at every level. So we’re going to share a couple different ways that you can think about recession proofing and just think about growing in different ways and be more strategic in the year ahead. And some of these, we’re testing ourselves. Some of them, we haven’t tested yet.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. And before we jump into our list, there’s one other thing that I want to mention is some of us think, okay, I’ve reached a point in my business where I can move away from customers and I’m going to, you know, create something that’s going to bring in passive income, whether that’s a course or workshops or, you know, starting your own groups or masterminds or, you know, some other, mechanism for that. And we’re often sold this idea that that’s a natural evolution of what our businesses should be or could be, that we have clients for a couple of years, and then we start selling processes and systems or whatever to other people who are doing that thing. 

That’s not always the easy thing to do either because building a list, creating those assets, continually selling is a lot harder than most people who sell those, build a list type courses or create your passive income empire. type assets lead us to believe. And so that’s not always a way out either. If you’re thinking, OK, well, I can’t find clients, so I’m just going to create a course or I’ll create a system and sell that. That’s oftentimes more difficult than finding two or three clients to work with.

Kira Hug:  So you’re telling me I should not grow my list and sell courses, Rob? Is that what you’re telling me?

Rob Marsh:  Not saying that, but I’m just saying we need to be very clear about how difficult that is. You know, if you’re going to sell $6,000 or $7,000 worth of something to your list, well, you need a list of a few thousand, maybe 10,000 to 20,000 people or more. And there’s going to be a certain amount of churn every month, you know, where people leave the list or stop opening your emails. And so you’ve got to be able to grow that. And oftentimes that takes an investment to do. And so we’ve said this many, many times, there’s no such thing as passive income, but I think a lot of people sell this as a way to get away from client work. Or if you’re struggling with clients as a way to augment your business, it is possible, but it takes work and it’s not that easy.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. And we’ve been doing it since 2017. and we’ve built a solid list. I don’t know, we’re up to like 9,000 people maybe. Yeah.

Rob Marsh:  I mean active opening. Right.

Kira Hug:  Like legit people. I mean, which I think is incredible, but also, you know, compared to a lot of leaders in this, the online marketing space, it’s actually not super impressive. Like they’re talking about crazy huge lists, but it’s just a reminder that it does take a lot of time and it’s taken us a while and we have invested at different times in running ads and then we’ve, pursued it organically too and it just it’s all about patience and so it’s taken us a while too to grow our community.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, it takes time. So I just wanted to throw out that other thing, because oftentimes we can go in-house, or we can build this passive thing. And they may or may not be the right solution for you, but we should just understand what’s involved with that. OK, so let’s talk about this. If we are headed to a recession, or if we’re even headed to that feast and famine cycle where we might struggle to find clients for a few weeks or a few months, what are some things that we can do in order to insulate ourselves and our businesses against failure or that kind of struggle so that we can get through those periods of time where it is difficult to find a client or to find the right amount of work?

Kira Hug:  Well, one thing I would do is diversify as much as you can. And this is something where we talk a lot about niching down. And it could be the opposite in some ways. I would think about having two separate niches two separate audiences, which again is opposite of what we typically say, but I’ve found that it helps to have two different audiences because when one is maybe not buying, not interested, collapsing in some ways, the other one might be booming and vice versa. 

And so it gives you a little bit more flexibility than putting all your eggs in one basket and your audience just not showing up and not being able to afford your services or your products. And so it doesn’t mean that you have to go all in on both audiences, but you could think about how you could serve two and maybe lean more into one, but have the other one kind of as a backup where you’re still networking. Maybe you’re showing up to some events in that space. You have some packages out there. You are talking and maybe booking some projects for that audience. But you’re keeping two active and alive. And again, it’s not easy because it does take more effort. It’s hard enough to run a business focused on one audience. But I think moving forward, if you want to be more agile and a little bit more protected, this will definitely help.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I agree. I was thinking around something very similar. And you know, the first thing you want to do is not run out of money. That’s, you know, when you’re out of money, that’s when you start to panic. It’s when you’ll take any kind of work or, you know, you really start thinking, I got to get a full time job or do something else. And so you know, if you’re talking about having a couple of different clients, you know, maybe in different niches or different types of work goes along with some of the thoughts that I have around finding anchor clients, which may not necessarily be the kinds of clients that you want to work with your dream clients, those ideal clients that you really want to do the work for, but they’re consistent. They pay you, you know, enough money to make it worthwhile working for them. And you know, you can, serve them well, meet their needs. And so having a couple of anchor clients that are not necessarily clients that you love can go a long way to bridging that gap. And it’s just another way of diversifying who you serve and what you offer.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and we’re not saying take anchor clients that are awful clients, but ones that maybe aren’t like perfectly in the niche that you want to move into, or aren’t asking you to do the work that you’re most excited to do, but are stable and can pay you monthly and or project to project. And maybe there are even opportunities with those anchor clients to kind of upsell into larger projects here and there. So we definitely aren’t saying stick with the clients who make your life a nightmare, but maybe the ones that are just a little bit more stable and a little less sexy can go a long way during this time.

Rob Marsh:  Less sexy is a key here. There are industries that copywriters just simply don’t go into because they’re not the big, you know, finance or coaching or launch spaces that so many online copywriters talk about. But, you know, shipping containers or, you know, really boring businesses, the businesses that I think of, you know, that are always out by the airport, you know, they’re in these little buildings with no windows, whatever. Oftentimes a very profitable business, they need help with marketing. And if you can connect with those kinds of businesses as anchors, it can get you through a lot of different economic situations. And the other benefit from those kinds of businesses is they tend to not be as dependent on a really good economy. There are demands for those kinds of services, whether the economy is strong or weak. And so having clients like that can be really helpful.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, I mean, I thought about even adding a third audience client base to my roster just to be even more nimble. Because obviously, we serve copywriters. That’s one of our shared audiences. And then outside of that, I work with course creators, membership creators. And so that’s a whole audience. And then I’ve thought about those less sexy audiences that are maybe really stable and have you know, simple needs around email nurture sequences or email acquisition and potentially looking into that as a third option. So, you know, it may be good to think about, okay, do you have that second option, second audience you can go to? Is there even a third one you can just think about and maybe research a little bit just so it’s in your back pocket if you ever need to jump into that space?

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, good point. OK, another thing that you need to do in order to future proof your business against whatever is coming is work on your systems. You need good systems for acquisition of clients, for onboarding, for off-boarding, for getting referrals, for creating proposals, even for networking. If you have downtime because the clients aren’t coming in, spend it building these things that make your business stronger when the clients do come in so that when you do have that client, you can onboard them smoothly, you can get the work done more quickly. It just allows you to do more work, to do better work, and possibly to up-level your clients that you’re working with because the way you serve them improves. And so, you know, systems are important. Usually we don’t work on them until they break, but if you’ve got downtime, this is a good way to improve your business before things really do break down.

Kira Hug:  I would add to that, that makes me think of habits. And so along with systems, this is a really good time to strengthen habits. And I know, you know, we’ve talked a lot about habits and behavior design. And I’ve also, you know, struggled with habits, I get really focused on them, do them well, and then all of a sudden all of them have disappeared. So this is a time where I’m really focused on getting back into some really solid habits that help me stay focused and grounded, especially on days where you might have a harder day. And so you could look at your own habits to see if those are supporting your business right now, or maybe even hurting your business, and just, you know, evaluate where you currently stand with your own habits and routine.

Rob Marsh:  And when you’re talking about habits, there are personal habits, and then obviously there are business habits. Having a regular habit of pitching or of networking, creating relationships or posting content or writing content, obviously those are business habits, but there are also those personal habits that can detract from, like you’re talking about, what we’re doing. It can take time away from our business or it can take our focus away. And so having good personal habits is also critical. It’s not just one or the other, it’s both.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, for me, it blends together. If I’m nailing my personal habits, then I’m more likely to hit those business habits and vice versa. And so if it’s about showing up on LinkedIn once a week, and if I support my personal habits, it seems like it happens more frequently. So it’s a good way to solidify those during a difficult time.

Rob Marsh:  And while you’re mentioning LinkedIn, that’s another thing that we need to be doing to future proof our businesses. And that is we need to be getting out there. We have to be in the places where our potential clients can find us, whether that is pitching through messages or pitching through email or whether that’s posting content on LinkedIn or Medium or Facebook or appearing on podcasts. sharing your ideas, your frameworks, your thoughts about, you know, your industry, the niches that you serve, all of that stuff. You have to get yourself out there. And this is one of the hardest things about freelancing is we can be the best writers in the world and think, well, I did great work for client A. And of course, people are going to see that and find me. And that’s just not true. 

You have to be showing up and sharing who you’re connecting with. what successes you’re having, the work that you’re doing so that people can see you and find you. And then obviously, as they start commenting on your posts, or if they reach out to you, you want to nurture those relationships and turn them into something more profitable. Maybe not always as a client, but into a friendship or a relationship that can serve both of your needs.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and just focus on one platform. And if it’s not working for you, then shift to a different platform. If LinkedIn is not working, but Instagram is working, then switch and just focus on one if you’re time strapped. And I’d also say like just, you know, we’ve seen or heard from a lot of copywriters in our circles who End up talking to other copywriters on social media. And as much as we all love to hang out with each other, if that’s not your audience and not the audience you’re selling to, it doesn’t really help your business. So make sure the content that you’re posting is attracting your ideal client and not just a community of copywriters that want to support you but really aren’t helping you get in front of your ideal client.

Rob Marsh:  I think the big thing here is most clients don’t want to learn about copywriting, so you shouldn’t be posting a lot of how-to-do copywriting content. What you do need to be talking about, though, is solving business problems, marketing problems, and that sort of takes me to my next point, which is you need to be making more offers. We always have one or two things that we do particularly well. There might be as many as 10 or 15 things that you can do for any particular client. But when we talk about making more offers, this thing that you do, you need to be talking about it. You need to be putting it out into the world. and saying it in a way that maybe makes it new for people. 

So if you offer websites, one week or one month, you may be talking about all of the reasons that business owners need websites. And then the next month, you need to be talking about how websites help you attract clients. And maybe the next month, you’re talking about some other aspect of websites and a business problem that they solve. Maybe it establishes your authority. And in And then, of course, you’re always turning it to how you can help them with a better website or with a new website. But you’ve got to be talking about these things in ways that people can see this offer in a new way every few weeks, every few months, so that they’re not getting bored of the one thing that you keep offering over and over, but they’re seeing it and saying, oh, yeah, I definitely need more authority. Maybe it’s time to invest in a website. Right. So making more recurring offers.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and create offers based off what your client needs next. So you don’t have to lose your clients. You can work with them long term. And an example could be if you worked with a client you love on a launch or an evergreen email sequence, and then the project ends, that’s a good opportunity to think about the next offer. OK, we nailed this. This is going well. What else can I do to help this client next so I can continue working with them, even if it’s on a project basis? And so you can think about, OK, well, The evergreen sequence, email sequence, is working pretty well. But now, maybe we look at a cart abandonment sequence. And we look at a couple other sequences. Or maybe we revisit the sales page, because we know we could optimize the sales page. And so just continue to think about, what is the next problem I can solve for my client? And that’s something you can cater to that client. 

But also, then you have it in your back pocket when you’re talking to other prospects and in your own marketing to talk about all these other problems you can solve.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, solving bigger problems is huge. And I think we’ve had a lot of discussions on the podcast over the last year about what AI has done in copywriting and how it’s forcing a lot of us to think more strategically and to be more strategic about the offers that we make. what we’re writing today can be done by AI, or if we’re looking at it and saying, well, maybe AI can’t write that today, but it can certainly write it in two or three years, then we need to be looking up the ladder for what is the higher level thing here? If it’s not writing it, it’s got to be strategizing it, or it’s got to be a bigger business problem that you start to help the clients do. So this is a little bit of a mindset shift because, you in some ways, you’re not necessarily showing up as a copywriter anymore. You’re showing up as a marketing consultant or as a business strategist or as somebody who is solving different and more important problems than what you were doing this year or last year. And so, you know, going along with those other offers, you need to be thinking about bigger problems and what offers to structure around those.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and we’ve talked about this for a while, even before AI took off a year ago, about how even what we call ourselves may shift over time, and that maybe our clients aren’t necessarily looking for copywriters, but instead they’re looking to hire a client acquisition strategist. an email optimization consultant, right? They’re looking for different things or solutions, not just a copywriter. And I have a feeling, as AI continues to grow, that there will be less searches for copywriter. The terminology may change. And so I’m constantly thinking about, OK, well, how can I show up and identify myself to attract the right clients who need a problem solved but aren’t necessarily Googling and searching for a copywriter?

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I think that’s really the key too, is what is your client looking for? You know, if they go to Google and they say, you know, they type in their problem, that’s the kind of language we need to be using on our social media posts or in our websites so that we get found for that stuff. So if your client isn’t saying, how do I find a copywriter, which will pull up a bunch of copywriter websites, but they are saying, you know, how do I write a welcome sequence? And you, you know, are the welcome sequence person and can talk about that. And then you increase your odds of showing up in those kinds of searches. 

And along with that, you want to be writing on your own websites so that eventually when people go to an AI model and ask those questions instead of going to Google, the AI has associated your name or your business with email sequences or with writing websites or with creating sales pages or whatever the things are that you do. And so it’s not just social media, but it’s on your own. webpage or whatever landscape, whatever property you own on the web.

Kira Hug:  That’s what Christopher Penn talked about on our AI for Copywriters podcast, how as search changes. And like you said, Rob, we aren’t going to search on Google anymore. We’re searching using different AI tools and chats that we really need to make sure there’s published content regularly about us and our brands. And a good way to do it that he recommended is to speak more on other podcasts. Because typically, if you’re on another podcast, there is a transcription that is published. And so your name is showing up. And even if it wasn’t the best podcast interview, and even if it’s a small audience, it doesn’t matter because your name is showing up on that website. And so for that sake, it’s worth just showing up on a bunch of podcasts just to make sure that you’re getting published frequently, and that will show up in different AI engines.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, you don’t just want to be on LinkedIn or Twitter, which may not show up in an AI models data set. In fact, I think as far as LinkedIn goes, it specifically denies at least some AI models from scraping their content. So if that’s the only place you’re showing up, it’s maybe working today, but two or three years from now when our search habits shift, it may not serve you well. So you want to be doing it in both places.

Kira Hug:  And before we move away from AI, I think, you know, we can’t not mention that the importance of skill development in that space and AI and you know, I was listening to a podcast recently, an interview with Sam Altman, and of course he’s biased because AI is his living, breathing company and everything he’s focused on. But he did answer the question about what are the careers of the future? And that’s what I’m thinking about and obsessed with thinking about. And the only advice he could give was just to the people who will get hired and continue to get hired will have up-to-date AI skills and will continue to develop those skills. 

And that’s something that we can depend on, whereas we can’t say if becoming a copywriter is safe 10 years from now, or becoming a therapist is safe, or becoming whatever occupation you might be thinking about, but having those AI skills up-to-date will give you an advantage over everyone else, along with everything else you bring to the table, other skills you bring to the table, other experiences you bring to the table. And so again, of course, he’s biased, of course, he’s going to say that he wants us to all use open AI tools and platform, but it also makes sense, right? This is the way the future is going. So just continue to build those skills and bring that to the table.

Rob Marsh:  One of the things that we tend to do when we start to worry about the future is we pull back on investing in our businesses. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if we’re investing a lot of resources that we’re not using, or we’ve been spending money on skills that we don’t really need to develop. But it is also a critical time to invest in the right things and in doing the right things in your business. 

And so as you look at the year ahead and you think about, OK, I’ve only got so much money to invest in myself. How am I going to do it and make sure that I get the most bang for the buck? And you want to be looking for proven programs, you know, what others have used to succeed and build the kinds of businesses that you want to build. You know, you don’t, you don’t necessarily want to copy somebody who’s built something very different from what you are, but at the same time, you don’t necessarily want to have to follow a formula. It’s exactly what they did, right? 

So a program that gives you a little bit of leeway to build your own thing, but it’s a proven program where you can see several people or dozens, hundreds of people have used that method, that process, that framework, that information or expertise, know-how to do the thing that you want to do. That stuff is worth investing in. And it’s not always knowledge or courses or things that you need to learn. Oftentimes, it’s communities that you want to invest in. If you’ve been through three or four copywriting courses, chances are you’re not going to learn a ton of new stuff. You may get a new angle. You may have a bunch of new ideas or swipes or different things that a course might give you. But the ideas are going to be really similar. 

At that point, you might start looking at communities so that you can create that network or those friendships that pay off in different ways, copy critiques or leads that are shared or just advice and support, as opposed to knowing a little bit better how to frame a benefit so that it’s going to appeal to your customer or how should you overcome a particular objection. That stuff’s good. And if you don’t know it, definitely invest in those things. But by the fifth or sixth time you’ve done that, you know just about everything you need to know.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. And just, you know, because we walk our talk, I think it’s fair to share what we have invested in more recently, because I’ve cut back on a lot of investments, you know, over the last few years to be more strategic about it and really more thoughtful about it. And so the investments I’ve focused on more recently are coaching related, getting coaching support. Sometimes that’s mindset coaching. Sometimes it’s just strategic, you know, marketing, coaching feedback. And that’s what you and I get from the mastermind we’re a part of. And also of course therapy is always something I actively invest in but like those are the essentials and then anything beyond that it’s well how is this going to help grow my business or help me reach a specific goal and it needs there needs to be a connection to that goal with that investment.

Rob Marsh:  Absolutely. Mentors are almost always worth investing in. Find mentors that have done the thing that you want to do or who have helped other people do the thing that you want to do and make connections. And when I say make connections, yeah, you can buy their programs. You know, we love it when people invest in our programs and we can help mentor them. But sometimes it’s enough for now to join that email list or to, you know, listen to their podcasts or, you know, to follow them and do some of the things that they’re suggesting. And maybe six months from now becomes the right time to invest, or maybe it’s a little farther down the line. But don’t wait to make those connections with potential mentors in your future.

Kira Hug:  All right, I also shifted, I wonder how you feel about this idea, but I am focused more on local community building too. I know we mentioned the importance of community. But again, as we’re in this like weird recession time, I’m focused on my local business community, especially in Portland, Maine where I live to see what type of businesses need support, what do they need. I’m at the early stages of it, but I also have talked to a lot of other copywriters who have really shifted to a local focus on helping their community and those business owners. And so it just gives us, this is the, you know, just diversifying gives us more options. And even if you don’t shift your business to focus solely on local businesses, you could find one or two that could keep your business afloat and continue to build that side of your business.

Rob Marsh:  I think this all really comes down to the kind of work that you want to do. You know, some work is more applicable to certain local businesses, but the amazing thing about working with local clients is you can actually meet them in person and that does something different for the relationship. When you, you know, are sharing lunch and talking about the project or you’re showing up at their office or they’re coming to, you know, your meeting space or whatever, those one-on-one in-person relationships change the way that you work with clients and they can turn into some really amazing, amazing relationships.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and I’ve been really snobby about it previously, where I’m like, I just want to work with these big clients in the online marketing space so I can help them with these large launches. And I don’t want to focus on local community. But it’s really shifted to just be more open-minded and take what I’ve learned and take what we’re all learning from working with our clientele to the local community, where maybe they don’t have dialed-in email sequences cart abandonment sequences and landing pages that are dialed in. And we can take all this knowledge and help our local business community if you feel inspired to help that community.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I totally agree. It can be a really good source for ongoing clients.

Kira Hug:  Yes. OK, Rob, what else comes to mind?

Rob Marsh:  So earlier I was talking a little bit about how difficult it is to create passive income, but creating additional products goes along with that idea we were talking about a little bit earlier, making more offers. We can expand the things that we do. If you’ve been writing blog posts, You know, maybe expand and start writing case studies and white papers. In addition, it is a very similar skill set. You know, if you’ve been writing sales pages, why not expand and offer email sequences or sales emails or even daily emails for the appropriate clients? You can create information type products, and if they are niched properly, you know, so you’re selling them into your niche, they can create in-demand businesses as well. But like I said earlier, just be aware of how much work goes into, you know, finding those clients, creating the list, and the daily or weekly effort in selling those kinds of products.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, a couple other ideas I think we should cover, but they aren’t I mean, none of this is new, but I think it’s more important than ever. And one of them is your personal brand and how important that is as we all shift frequently. And maybe we have this offer one month and then the next offer, it’s something else. And maybe we’re even. pivoting from audience to audience as we need to. If one audience isn’t really working or unable to pay you, then you have to make that shift. But it’s so much easier if you have your personal brand in place so that you can kind of take your main network with you and you have that trust that you’ve already built. that could be connected to a list that you’ve nurtured and you take that with you no matter where you go and so you aren’t starting from scratch when you jump into a new audience and you have a little bit more foundational support because you’ve built your brand.

Rob Marsh:  Oftentimes when we talk about personal brands, the first thing that we think about are like creative photographs or, you know, interesting color schemes, what we’re doing on our website. And that’s not the only thing that goes into it. You know, if you have a regular daily email or if you’re posting on Twitter or Instagram regularly, those are also places where you show off your brand voice. And brand voice is as much of this, the story that you tell about why you do what you do, or the story that you tell about how you help your clients is critically important. And being better at framing what we do for the benefit of the people we serve so that people can see, oh, I get what the results are. I get how you’re transforming people’s businesses into something better. The better we are at telling those stories, the more we’ll attract the right clients to our business. Oftentimes, we talk about what we do, but we don’t frame it in a way that people can see the results that we’re producing for people.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, I agree. I mean, I love, I love a good brand photo shoot. But what’s more important these days is your reputation. And what do people say about you when you’re not in the room? How do they describe what you do, the value you provide? Even maybe some viewpoints, like who you are as a brand and as a person, what you care about, what you don’t care about, all of that matters, and will, again, be valuable and won’t fade away, it continues to grow with you, so it’s worth the investment.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I agree.

Kira Hug:  In addition to that, I don’t think we’ve mentioned this yet, but you hinted at it. It’s more important than ever to have a signature methodology, a framework. We’ve talked about frameworks on this podcast so many times, and this is a way to stand out so that you’re not just another copywriter. but you’re known for something. This is part of your brand and it could be just, I mean, there are many different types of frameworks, but this is something that people and clients come to you because only you can deliver this methodology that you become known for. And this is something that definitely can separate copywriters and make it a lot easier to sell prospects into why they should hire you over everyone else.

Rob Marsh:  This goes back to what we have talked about, what Todd Brown has said on our podcast in the past, and that is nobody looks for the second best way to do something or the third best way to do something. And so having your own signature methodology, a unique mechanism, whatever you want to call that, that you can talk about, that you own, that name that only belongs to you, is a way where you can talk about being the only or the best way to get something done. And it’s really critical to be able to do that, especially as competition grows, you know, even tighter.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and I’ve shared this before, but when I was really focused on speaking on different podcasts and I was talking about my weird trifecta framework, which is really like a brand positioning framework and something that 80% of us do, it’s not that different. But I was talking about it in a slightly different way, in a way that was unique to me and sounded a little bit different and was more focused on the outcome. When I did that on multiple podcasts, it made a difference. And that’s when I had a bunch of people, listeners from those shows, reach out. And they wanted that thing. 

They didn’t want all the other offers I had on my website. They wanted that methodology and that outcome that I described in those different podcasts, because that’s what sold them. If you can build this into your business practice where you’re speaking frequently about your methodology and testing what resonates, what doesn’t resonate, you can continue to tweak it, that can make a huge difference.

Rob Marsh:  Amazing things happen when you own a phrase like a weird trifecta or whatever, because when people go searching for that, whether it’s on Google or in the future on AI, all roads lead back to Kira. And if I want the weird trifecta, that’s the only place I can get it. And we should all consider having something like that in our own businesses.

Kira Hug:  And it’s not even a great name. I don’t even like the name. And it kind of just happened. And I just rolled with it. And it worked. And I’m only sharing that because I think we get so hung up on having the perfect name and the perfect framework. And I just stumbled into it and tested it. And it worked. But I would continue to, you know, continue to improve it over time. And it’s okay, if it’s not perfect, you can throw it out there and still find clients who still are excited to work with you. And I think it is kind of interesting.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I agree. Any last ideas, Kara, for things we need to be doing to future-proof our business against recession or feast or famine or even just a little bit of downtime?

Kira Hug:  One that we haven’t really mentioned, we’ve talked about community, online community, offline community, but the idea of a collective and forming partner collaborations is something that is really worth time and attention, and that’s oftentimes done with copywriters, between copywriters and designers. And we’ve seen copywriters recently who have done it really well and are continuing to stay busy because they have that formal partnership in place. And I think that is going to continue to be important where you have those relationships. It doesn’t have to just be with the designer, but it’s other partners who support your client and figuring out a package where your client really can work with both of you and get the maximum impact from that experience. And so that’s a really good opportunity to get leads from other places and to have some consistency with the right partners.

Rob Marsh:  This goes back to the idea of networking beyond copywriters. You know, if we’re connecting with other business owners, even other marketers that may be able to, you know, bring us onto a project or share leads, but even beyond that, just other business owners who can make the right recommendations for you or make the right connections. And then having those relationships like you’re talking about, you know, where you are the go-to person for a couple of designers in your area, or you are the go-to person to help with SEO content for a PPC slash SEO type agency. Those kinds of relationships also can be phenomenal and great anchor type clients when things get tough.

Kira Hug:  Yes, and I’m going to end on one other note, which we kind of have said, OK, don’t just hang out with copywriters. Don’t just form partnerships with other copywriters. But it’s worth noting that you can continue to build those relationships with other copywriters, and it can change your business. I recently interviewed Lanae Carmichael and she mentioned that I think, you know, 70% or maybe 80% of her business over the last year came from other copywriters in her community and the think tank and other communities she’s a part of. And that’s something that is so valuable and it’s not that hard for any of us to do because we all mostly like each other and we like hanging out and talking shop. And so continue to build that network. But be really intentional, too, about it. Like, yes, build real relationships and try to provide value for the other person, but also show up and clearly articulate what you do, who you do it for, how the other person could help you if they want to help you so they know how to help you. Most people want to help you. So that’s a really great opportunity, too.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, don’t only hang out with copywriters, but definitely hang out with copywriters. It’s an amazing resource. And one lead from a copywriter can completely pay for an investment that you make into a community or into a program where you’re able to connect with more copywriters. So it’s definitely, as long as you are putting in the effort to make those connections and to build those relationships, they can pay off 5, 6, 10 times what they end up costing you in the beginning.

Kira Hug: Yes, OK. I know exactly what we should share.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, share it. Let’s talk about one of the ways that we are helping copywriters right now, December, January, February, to accomplish more in their businesses and to prepare for things like economic downturns.

Kira Hug:  Yeah well I mean like I said we kind of we want to try our best to walk our talk and so a lot of what we share today we’re doing it or in the process of doing it and one of it is creating more offers so we’re looking at our community of copywriters you listening to see what problems need solved how we best can support you and so one of the ways currently that we can support you is through small group coaching. And so we’re kicking off with a small group coaching group, about five to six people, very intimate, who will meet with me once a week over Q1 to come up with a plan for Q1. So there’s a clear goal and measurable outcome that we’re working towards. And weekly, you’ll get the accountability support so you can implement and troubleshoot as we move through Q1. Because the reality is we don’t know what will happen. You may need to create a plan and readjust the plan midway through January. And that’s where it helps to have a group to support you and also someone to help hold you accountable and hold your hand through the process. So if you’re interested in having that type of support, that opportunity is out there and we can link to the page in the show notes so you can check it out.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, we’ll definitely have a link in the show notes. We’ll just give you a quick shortcut. Go to forward slash SGC for small group coaching, SGC.

Kira Hug:  Good job thinking on the spot and putting together. We’ll also talk about it in our emails, upcoming emails. So if you’re not on our list, jump on our list and you’ll definitely hear about it there. So that’s the easy way to make sure that you’re a part of this group.

Rob Marsh:  Lots of good stuff happening on the email list. So make sure you jump in there so you can hear from Kira and I even more. Kira and me even more.

Kira Hug:  Good catch. Good catch. I didn’t even catch that one.

Rob Marsh:  That’s, I do it all the time. I’m a writer, but yeah, I’m mostly a rewriter. So that’s.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. Same, same.

Rob Marsh:  All right.

Kira Hug:  Thanks everybody for listening. Yes. Great. Thank you.

Rob Marsh:  That’s the end of our discussion. Usually I would add a few additional thoughts, but we’ve pretty much covered everything that I had to talk about already. So I just want to thank you for listening. We really appreciate you showing up week after week to hear what we have to share. Hopefully it’s helpful to you in what you’re building in your business. If you found what we shared here helpful, there’s a lot more useful advice and insights inside the Copywriter Underground. You can learn more about that at 

And if you’re interested in getting short-term coaching from Kira and me in a small group format, forward slash SGC is the place to go to learn more about that. And that’s the end of this episode of the Copywriter Club podcast. 

The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. 

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcasts to leave your review of the show. Don’t miss our other podcast at 

You can also watch that on YouTube or listen wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We will see you next week.

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