This week on The Copywriter Club podcast, Marietta Gentles Crawford drops the secrets to standing out on LinkedIn without changing who you are. Marietta is a Brand Strategist and LinkedIn expert whose focus is on growing a strong personal presence *like a real human.* Amp up your personal brand and LinkedIn profile by taking notes and following along.
We also covered:
- The once upon a time of an about section. (Hint: It was called a summary section.)
- How to support the authority of your brand.
- Pulling quality traits from every experience you’ve had and why it’s highly-valuable to your clients.
- Why you should never have to chase your audience, and instead, keep them knocking at your door.
- What not to do on LinkedIn, so you can avoid being the pushy salesperson online.
- Why you shouldn’t change who you are from platform to platform. – Your voice should be the same everywhere you go.
- The secret to pitching to large businesses and landing the gig.
- LinkedIn for slackers 101 – Do more with less.
- How to turn your LinkedIn profile into a client lead magnet.
- Why LinkedIn is tried, tested, and true for growth and authority.
- The ins and outs of writing for yourself and why we tend to lose the clarity that we see in other people.
- The importance of visibility and becoming a highly sought-after copywriter. (People buy from who they know exists.)
- Why you shouldn’t chase squirrels and give yourself a break instead.
- How to structure your days for maximum productivity as a parent.
- The mistakes of underestimating how long a project will take and taking on projects just for the money.
- Defining what growth means for YOU, and why you need to run your business like a marathon.
- How to create more than just financial goals, plus the power of creating mistakes.
Hit the play button and soak up the brilliance that is Marietta. Prefer to read? Check out the transcript below.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Marietta’s LinkedIn guide
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: Is running a business, feel like a race against your competition or a race against yourself. You find yourself setting bigger goals, or working harder, and doing more only to figure out that you need to slow down and choose, maybe, a different race. Sometimes we chase the wrong goals, stuff like 10K a month, or six figure years, maybe even wanting to be a million dollar copywriter and our guests for the 238 episode of the Copywriter Club Podcast is personal brand strategist, Marietta Gentles Crawford. She compared her own business to running a race as we talked to her and she shared a lot of, really, good ideas for using LinkedIn more effectively.
Kira: Before we hear what Marietta has to share with us, this podcast episode is brought to you by the Copywriter Think Tank. The Think Tank is a private mastermind for copywriters and other marketers who want to challenge each other, create new revenue streams in their businesses, receive coaching from the two of us and ultimately grow to six figures or more.
Up until last year, we only opened a Think Tank once a year, but today we invite a few new members each quarter. If you’ve been looking for a mastermind to help you grow, go to copywriterthinktank.com to learn more.
Rob: Okay. So, let’s jump into our interview with Marietta with a first question about how she became a brand strategist and a LinkedIn specialist.
Kira: Okay. So, Marietta, we’d love to start with your story. How did you end up as a personal brand strategist and LinkedIn expert?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I really stumbled into it, to be honest. I was an entrepreneur as I call myself, I was working within different companies as a technical writer and trainer, and I usually ended up hated my jobs and felt like I wanted to make more money, or I wasn’t getting promoted, so I became what was called a job hopper at that time. And I was writing my resumes, and going through interviews, and through the whole interviewing process while I was trying to ruin my career, I realized that it was my communication skills that really allowed me to pivot in so many different directions from where I went to school.
I graduated with a degree in English and I was able to translate my skills into accounting, and then to pharmaceutical, to retail, to education, all over place. And so, I realized through the process that it was less about my skills and more about the qualities that people liked about me, why they would hire me.
And I realized that it was this whole thing at that time, we’re talking about 10 years ago, over 10 years ago, that was called branding. So that’s how I evolved into the whole process, because I became so great at it I started doing it for other people and charging, and that’s how I started on my business as a side hustle, helping job seekers.
Rob: So, tell us how you went about finding those first couple of clients that you started working for. What were you doing in order for them to say, “Yeah. I want to work with Marietta.”
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Now in 2021, or where we are now, I can say that it was content marketing. In 2014, around 2013/2014, LinkedIn was this thing that people didn’t know what to do with, everyone plopped their resume, or copy and paste it there, and we knew that job seekers were there. And then there was this thing called a publishing platform. I love to write. So, I basically, just started teaching what I know. I started talking about my experiences, how to land interviews. I really just started writing.
And as I was starting to write, I realized that people were sending me messages like, “Oh, okay. How can I work with you? I saw your article that was very inspiring.” Or people would find me on my website and say, “I saw your article on LinkedIn and I want to leave my job too.”
So, it became this thing that even before it was a thing, I was selling my skills through my expertise. I was writing about what I know, not only through my personal experience, but how it can help other people who were looking for jobs, who were transitioning career, who were starting businesses, and I was able to turn this into, “You know what? It’s more than just your skills. It’s about what makes you unique and what makes you different.”
And that’s how I was able to transition from not only because of having a side business, but in real business, and eventually working with entrepreneurs and small business owners who wanted to use LinkedIn to do the same thing.
Kira: Let’s talk more about LinkedIn. What’s, really, critical today, especially for the copywriters listening. If they want to build their expertise, they feel like they don’t stand out online anywhere and they want to focus on LinkedIn. They know their clients are on LinkedIn. So, what can they start doing today on LinkedIn? Especially because it does feel in a way really crowded on LinkedIn. It feels like there’s so many copywriters on LinkedIn. Is it even worth it? And what do I need to do to stand out in a crowd of platform?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I love that question. It is getting more crowded than now that people are like, “Oh, it’s actually cool to be on LinkedIn. Gary V is on LinkedIn, other writer are on LinkedIn.” But I would say that the thing for copywriters that are looking to leverage LinkedIn, or there to get a copywriting gig, whether it’s a freelance gig, an agency, in-house or their own business, is to start from the point of your personal brand. I’m going to remove the buzzword out of it. Because I know some people don’t even love the word.
Let’s start from a point of your personality, your characteristics, other than your skills, because the thing about it is that the reason why it’s hard for some people to stand out is because everybody is saying the same thing. If you are a copywriter and your niche is beauty, you’re going to pretty much say, hey, you have proven skills in beauty writing, you’ve worked for certain agencies or certain companies, you’re excellent writer. And that’s one of the favorite things I see when writers, we say, where excellent writers, and it’s like, “Well, it’s supposed to be.”
So, I would say start from what makes you unique. A lot of times it’s that story. It’s your personal experience that makes you a better writer and not necessarily those skills, like attention to details, and researcher, at maybe people may think, “Okay. This is what I’m supposed to focus on.”
Rob: In addition, then, to that personal, “Here’s how you get attention,” what do you do then on LinkedIn, maybe other platforms as well, but on LinkedIn, particularly, in order to build credibility and your authority so that it’s not just, “Hey, I noticed Rob on LinkedIn,” but, “Look, Rob is definitely the preeminent person in this industry.” Or, “This is definitely somebody that I want to connect with.”
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I would say first thing is taking an advantage of, about section, because it really a missed opportunity for many people who don’t necessarily understand the importance of it. For example, I like to show how LinkedIn has evolved, because if you recall, the about section, actually used to be the summary section which is a summary and then they rebranded it as the about. And this is a great opportunity for copywriters because that’s what we do. That’s what you do. You tell a story. You do it for your clients, you do it in a way to inspire people to act.
But, yes, it’s a missed opportunity for your own LinkedIn profile, where maybe you don’t tell a story about your unique skills or what brought you to the path that you are. So, I would say the first way that you can jump out and bring that type of credibility is using those 2,600 characters to build out a story about who you are, what you do, and who you help.
And then, that in itself is going to make you stand, out because everyone else is going to be saying the same thing. Maybe they had a little bit of information, maybe not, but if you can pull that compelling piece, that’s going to say, “Hmm, that’s interesting. This person studied in India,” or “This person wrote for promotional ads at one point in their lives.” These are things that’s going to connect in a different way than broad skills and expertise.
And then, I would say is provide social proof. LinkedIn really provides an opportunity for you to support your expertise, rather than to saying you’re good, to saying that you want work, showing it through your, maybe, adding pieces of that you’ve got out of your featured section, when you work with a client, making sure that you have recent recommendations that are aligned with the type of jobs and clients you want to attract.
So, really having a 360 picture of your brand, thinking of LinkedIn as an extension of your website, or your portfolio, and not just a separate social media platform.
Kira: Can you talk more about, the about section, in terms of the personality piece? I think some copywriters, write and have an easier time writing personality driven copy, but it’s not everybody’s area of expertise. And so, it sounds like we should tell a story. Can you provide any examples of what’s worked, maybe, for you, or for your clients with the story, and the about section?
Marietta Gentles Crawford.: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, for example… I can give you two examples. For a client that I worked with, she’s a business coach and she was an intuitive coach and some people may say, “Oh, that’s really woo and very soft.” But she also had a banking background. She also has a psychology background.
So I love advising people to use the opportunities to, even when you’re writing copy, and when we talk about cliches and someone, your audience or your reader make this plans over something, because they know that you’re going to say, “The writing is on the wall.” So instead of saying, “The writing is on the wall,” you really want to make an abrupt comparison by this really shaking out something they didn’t expect.
So, for me, everyone is an expert at branding. Some people may say, “Well, what does that really mean you’re an expert?” So, one of the things that I like to pull is that I have a technical background, and I worked in IT, and I worked for Fortune 500 companies. That does two things, it is braggadocious, because it’s all about, also elevating your experience and saying that, “I can help you because if I did it for Fortune 500 company, I can do that for your agency, or for your business.
Then it also shows that if someone is comparing you to someone else, they’re like, “Wow, this person has type of experience that I can’t even say that the other person does.” So, that’s one example that I do. And then for, let’s say, if you’re a copywriter and maybe your background is, you worked as a waiter or waitress at some point, you say, “Ah, that really isn’t important to what I did.” But maybe you stood out because the way that you used to memorize names or write orders, or something special about what you did, pulling those unique traits that add to your experience outside of detail oriented research and proven skills as a writer is those little tweaks that can make a difference.
Rob: When it comes to LinkedIn, I hear, maybe everybody hears this, but there’s always this new thing that you need to be doing. Like video on LinkedIn, or I’ve seen a few people have access to the new feature, the newsletter feature, where they can now send newsletters to their followers and that kind of thing, in your opinion, what’s the thing that is working now, or what’s the thing that we should really be focused on because it’s going to keep on working on LinkedIn, so we don’t have to jump from this new feature to that new feature, chasing an audience.
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I love it. I don’t believe in chasing an audience, and maybe it’s because I have been on the platform so long before it was cool. I’m like, “This is what’s worked for me. Writing articles. I’m a writer at heart. So, definitely videos are helpful, because it deals in content marketing. People are consuming information. You can get an idea of the personality, so it’s a great way to connect with people.
I will say that, to answer your question, I would say, what… The first question I would say to someone is, “What feels the easiest for you?” Because, I’m going to be honest, I know that I need to do more videos, but I don’t. I lean more to writing articles. So it’s not to say that you’re not going to try different things that may work, because you’ll always want to be open to that.
But if you’re going to be more consistent in writing, and adding your unique point of view, and the drawing in your audience from that place, and I would say, “Start there.” If someone is like, “I love writing for my clients, but when it comes down to writing for myself, I have nothing. I don’t know what to write,” then I would say, “Hey, if videos are easier for you, do it.”
I think first foundation, really, is starting from, “What’s going to make you consistent?” Because that’s going to have you see more results, than dumping from the newest things. For example, LinkedIn has the stories like you mentioned, so it like, “Oh, should I be doing stories now? Or should I be popping on polls every five minutes,” and that’s the actual poll feature.
So, it’s just a matter of starting from a place of where you’re going to be consistent, and gauging the reaction, and seeing what’s connecting with your network.
Kira: What is no longer working on LinkedIn? So, we should not do this, especially for people who maybe like me, or not, on the platform as often. But if I do jump in there, I should not do these things.
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Oh, I love this question. Don’t go on the platform and say, “Buy my stuff,” basically. When I hear about pet peeves about LinkedIn, the biggest thing I’ll hear some people say is, “I don’t check my DMs because every time I do is a bunch of people trying to sell things to me. There’s always a pitch, or you do upset somebody and you’re like, “Well, should I, should I not? LinkedIn tells me not to. I heard you’re so close to all these confusing things. And then you accept the person and they’re like, “Hey, I have XYZ that I’m selling, buy my book.”
So, I wouldn’t say for anyone who is interesting, I call it, “LinkedIn curious,” to start from a place of sharing, what you know, engaging with people first, and not just coming on when you have a pulse to share, or when you want to promote a group program that you have, because that’s not going to appeal to people who don’t have a relationship with you. They don’t know you, yet. They don’t like you, yet. They don’t trust you, yet.
Rob: And one final question from me on LinkedIn, how different do you think the audience is there, versus Instagram, or Facebook, or other places where we connect? Because, if you’re showing up, say on Instagram, and you’re sharing all this stuff there, or maybe you’re sharing it on Facebook and you think, “Well, I’ll just drop it into LinkedIn, everyone’s in there too, just to make sure I hit them.” We really talking to two very different audiences? Or is it overlap?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: There was an overlap. And I think that’s the biggest misconception, that what you use… It’s more matter of tweaking your approach and your strategy, but not necessarily your voice. Because some people feel, LinkedIn is like going into the corporate elevator, or going into a library, where you have to put on your best Sunday clothes.
I probably just makes up all these analogies, but they feel like it can’t be there itself, so maybe on Instagram, they’re showing more of their personality, their humor and their writing, a little bit more of their provocative writing and articles.
Then on LinkedIn, they’re like, “Well, I dunno if I should be doing this.” Or, I hear people say, “I don’t think that I can be myself on LinkedIn.” They make the tone very bland, or what they feel is acceptable. And what I would say is that we’re the platform, your voice, your brand voice, the who you are as a writer, as an entrepreneur, as a freelancer, someone who’s doing this on the side, your voice should be the same. Who are you are, who I see you, or meet you as on Instagram, should to be the same person on Facebook and should be the same person on LinkedIn.
Now that’s not to say that there aren’t tweaks. Because there are some times, maybe what approach, strategically, that may work for Instagram, and my best example for that is hashtags. So, for Instagram, you can use five million hashtags and they’re a combination of terms and names. Some people may take that same pulse and use those hashtags on LinkedIn, but it’s not going to have the same effect.
So, from a technical standpoint on a platform, it maybe be different. But when you think about who you’re trying to attract, who your target audience is, your voice should be the same, because those are the people that you want to connect with.
Kira: Okay. So, let’s talk about more visibility, PR, outside of LinkedIn. When I checked out your website, so impressive, and you have all these big name, logos as publications on your site you’ve been featured, I don’t have it in front of me, but by a lot of big publications, can you just talk a little bit about that? How did you get featured? What is, if we’re seeking similar visibility, how could we approach it? What should we do?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: And thank you for that. I appreciate that. And it humbles me, honestly, because when I did start to get both credibly markers, my first plan… I mean, when I was blogging and even when I was writing on LinkedIn, LinkedIn was my blog for a long time. That’s where I was able to just share my ideas. And then I started it, it didn’t happen overnight. And I feel like sometimes we’re in a culture of everything being, this instant gratification, where if you pay a certain amount of money, maybe you can get a Forbes column, or a Forbes feature, but when I started over eight years ago, I literally was writing on my blog and I eventually started pitching to smaller blogs.
And I remembered it was an industry blog called, a personal branding blog, that I started this. Really getting my feet wet, understanding how to play with headlines, and what’s going to work on list article. All the different things that was now starting to learn and take more seriously as a writer.
And then, I was able to pitch to bigger company. My first big, big one was The Muse as a career, I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Muse, but it’s a career website. And it took me three years to get from a byline on The Muse and I would send them a pitch all the time. It was about personal branding and I would hear nothing. It was radio silence.
And one day I was just like, I had an idea and I said, “I want to email them again.” And I just decided to be myself. I’m cheesy, and my writing, I reference 80s music, maybe food, because I love food and cheese. I love cheese. And I think I said something like, “Here’s some facts about me that you may think are amuuusing.” And play on the word amuse.
And as cheesy as that was, that’s when I got a response from one of the editors after three years of pitching them. And she said to me, “I love your pitch. I love how clever you were. A topic that you’re pitching we’ve done all over it, all we’ve done in all the time. And you come back to me with some ideas that are a little different.” And from there, that’s what I needed.
I needed a door, a foot in the door, which also educated me to realize that the reason why I wasn’t getting a response is because I was pitching the same old ideas, but once I just decided be myself, and then now I was able to approach it differently with other outlets, understanding that they hear the same things over again. So how do I stand out?
And that really was the beginning. From there I got featured, my articles got syndicated in Fast Company and E Inc. And then, once you do get that authority, it’s easier for you to approach another company and say, “Hey, I’ve been an E Ink and Fast Company. I would love to write this topic for Business Insider, and so forth.
Rob: Do you think that your approach to The Muse was because you were quirky, leaning into your personality a little bit, would that same approach work for, say Fast Company? Or for E Ink? Or do you have to tailor the pitch to the feel of the magazine? Or to the personality of the editor that you’re potentially pitching?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Yeah. Definitely, you do have to tweak and that’s a good point, Rob, even to the point where you talked about the platforms. What you’re doing for Instagram, for Facebook. I don’t know They’re very following instructions for anybody who wants to be in these publications. I said advice, is to find where they have the instructions and follow them to the teeth and adjust accordingly. For example, I love the Oxford comma. I am passionate, I’m passionate about the Oxford comma.
Rob: That’s why you are here.
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Yes. But can you feel the passion? Entrepreneur magazine, if I recall correctly, they don’t use, they specifically say in their style guide that they have published, that they don’t use the Oxford comma. So as much as I’m passionate about it, if I’m pitching or I’m sharing a story with them, obviously I’m going to hail a little bit and remove the comma that should rightfully be there.
So, it’s really about paying attention, editors get a lot of pitches, so, always be unique in your angle and then be mindful of giving them exactly what you want. The positive part about that is that editors are always looking for new content. So, where I’ve been able to build is also having a good relationship from providing good quality content. They don’t have to do a lot of edits, meeting deadlines. So these are things that add to making it easier each time.
Kira: Let’s talk a little bit more about your business and how your business is structured, because you are a writer, you’re a brand strategist, we have listeners who are in similar positions, how do you work with your clients today? What are those packages look like? Can you just talk a little bit more about how your business is structured?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I basically, am a partner, and a branding strategists for creative brilliance, Coaches consultants, copywriters, freelancers, experts who want to position their brands on LinkedIn. And a lot of times I work with people who are either LinkedIn curious, or LinkedIn terrified. They have no idea what to do, and it’s just like, they need someone to just make it seem easy. And as cheesy as it sounds, again, cheese, I like cheese, I make it fun. I’m make it a natural part of their marketing and not something that feels like it’s just another thing to do.
Because when you think about LinkedIn, it’s about relationship, and building relationships, and showing your authority. So, the way that I work with my clients is usually through a mentorship experience where we’re taking assessment of the brand, and we’re working to develop that profile. The things that we call out the personality, what are we going to pull? What are your three key differentiators that we want to make sure are present?
And then also, what is your strategy? Who are you trying to connect with? And then, what is the best way that you’re going to use that material, whether it’s writing, whether it’s videos, stories to connect with the people that you want to hire you.
Rob: And what are those packages look like? Let’s say I’m coming to you for help, I’m LinkedIn terrified, I know that I need help either figuring out my brand or how I’m going to show up, are there two or three different packages that I can choose from? How much does it cost to engage with each of those packages?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I’ve kept it simple and I’ve been niche resistant for awhile, but I’ve learned that sometimes keeping it simple is really good. My most high level package is a one-one adds two month experience, that’s 5,000. And from that I take my clients from the very beginning of the evaluating, that they want, not only to do for their brand on LinkedIn, but overall. Connect it to their business goals. So, I call it the evaluation stage.
And then, the next stage is the elevation stage where we start working on those things. Who do you want to attract? For example, you mentioned publicity. So, how do we position these people to, for when the Forbes person is looking, that journalist is looking for them, or they respond to editorial request, or some type of health thing, as someone is looking at their profile and saying, “Ah, this is someone I want to speak to.”
I actually had a client who was featured on cnbc.com based on her LinkedIn profile and the story-driven approach that we took. And then, the last stage is the execution stage, because a lot of times people are discouraged of LinkedIn, is that they read an article, they take a course or two, or maybe even a random strategy session, and then they build a couple of things here, a couple of things there, and then it’s just like, “Agh, I give up because no one likes my posts.”
And so, the third and the most important piece of how I work with my clients is usually through that execution art, where we’re really finding what is their personal debt. That’s the most intense way that I work with my clients. And then, the smaller way that I work with my clients is maybe those who just want to enhance their presence.
So maybe LinkedIn is not the most important part of their strategy there, but they know that clients are finding them there, maybe people are reaching out to the companies there, so they want to make sure that their presence is good. And that package is for $2,000. Where we’re still doing the evaluation, we’re doing the elevation, but the execution is more independently.
Kira: So, the first package is two months. Two months long?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Yes. Exactly.
Kira: Okay. I guess my question is. if you have a profile that you think is decent, like I did work with someone a while ago and I think my profile is good, maybe not great, it’s good, but I don’t do anything else on LinkedIn. I am a lazy LinkedIn marketer. I focus on Instagram, I focus elsewhere, so what is the minimum amount I should do? Because my people are there, we speak to copywriters, copywriters are hanging out there. I’d like to have some presence there, but I also, it’s not where I want to spend a lot of my time. So, I guess I’m asking you for a slacker lesson, on the minimum amount I need to do at this point to have a presence there without giving it a lot of effort.
Marietta Gentles Crawford.: I love it. And that excites me too, because let’s be honest. I mean, as much as I love LinkedIn, I don’t really have a bunch of time to be on social media all the time, either. So I want to make sure that everything that I do is effective, is focused and intentional. For the lazy LinkedIn approach, that we’re going to call this, I would say it’s all in making sure that you have a client attracting profile. That is going to do the job for you while you sleep.
So, if you don’t want to be on LinkedIn, or if you don’t want to be on it, for whatever reason you prefer Facebook, or Instagram, but you want it to work for you, then we would treat it as your website. Making sure that it’s dynamic, making sure that your social proof is there and also making sure you’re using it as a way to tell your audience what to do next.
One of the top things that are missing from the LinkedIn profiles, are call to action. People assume that when you put your LinkedIn 20 years ago, when you uploaded your profile, that people are going to look that link and the contact info. And one thing I must say, please check your links because links are evil and often they’re broken, or they have not been updated.
But one of the things I would say is, treat your profile like a lead magnet. Where you have, let’s say for the Copywriting Club, you have intro course that you have, or even when you have your Think Tank and you want to buy people there during a certain amount of time, when you have open enrollment or you’re doing a promotion, maybe that’s something you want to feature in the featured section, or feature in somewhere within your profile that’s going to buy that person and tell whoever’s finding you what to do next.
Rob: To me, it feels like one of the reasons that people shy away from being on social media, or places like LinkedIn, it’s because they don’t want to be self promotional. And I wonder where on the spectrum, personal branding, becomes self promotion, or you maybe even more overt, overly promotional, “All I do is I sell my stuff.” How do I square that, so that I have a great personal brand, but I’m also not afraid that I’m being self promotional when I share it?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I mean, I say this, basically the difference between self-promotion and personal branding, I’m like, “You’re in some way that you can be somewhere between Kanye West and mother Teresa.” There’s a nice little in-between there and that in-between there is starting from a place of adding value first and foremost. Making sure that when you do show up, you’re giving really quality information.
Adding value can sound fluffy as well, but, literally, teach what you know, because when you think about all the different platforms, when we compare Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn is the most tried and trued platform that has been there before, as far as what its goal is. When people go to LinkedIn… When people are going to LinkedIn about leadership, they’re going for articles, they’re going for content, they’re going for advice.
So, I would say first and foremost, make sure that you’re giving your best and not holding back, because whatever reason. And then, it is time for you to sell. And when it is time to say that “I have a mastermind open.” You’re coming from a place of like, “Not only have a mastermind open, I need to sell 10 spots because I want to make $10,000 a month, my quarter goals,” or whatever the case might be. But you’re coming from a place of, “I know my audience, I’m interested in what they need. I know I can help them, so this is why I’m sharing it with you.
So I think that’s the approach if you’re coming from a place of giving, and literally, just nurturing and building relationship, when it is time to sell, and we always talk about the 80/20 rule, but I would say most of the time that you’re showing up, showing up as an authority leader, showing up as a thought leader, but when it’s time to sell, when you are known as someone who’s adding value, and it doesn’t feel icky and it actually will connect better with people who’re following you.
Kira: So, let’s break in here to dig into a little more detail on a few things Marietta mentioned. So Rob, to me, one of the gems was really focusing in your LinkedIn profile on that one thing that differentiates you from everyone else. And I know we talked a lot about sharing your personality, but I think even more than that, it’s looking backwards and looking at your previous experiences, previous jobs, a lot of what you and I talk about when we go through our X-Factor training and looking backwards, so that you can figure out what you could highlight that will differentiate you from every other copywriter out there, based on those previous experiences, or jobs, or credentials that the majority of copywriters don’t have.
Rob: Yeah. We’ve talked a lot about LinkedIn on the podcast, and lots of ideas of the things that you’re supposed to be doing. And what I really liked about what Marietta shared is that it wasn’t focused on tactics, it’s really just being yourself, really emphasizing that thing that makes you different. And then following that up with co-necking with other people there and forging real relationships, not treating it as this business site where you have to put on airs, so you have to be somebody that you’re not, but showing up how you are, who you are, and making connections that can forward your business. And I really liked that direction.
Kira: Yeah. And I know from so many of our conversations with copywriters, oftentimes, and so many website critiques, because you and I have been doing more website critiques in the Underground recently, and when we’re looking at, especially, about pages, it seems like there are these details that are hidden at the bottom of, the about page, and a bullet that are so powerful, and so distinctive, and we hide those details too.
And so, it’s if you were like, we talked to Nicole Piper, recently, who’s was an executive for Nickelodeon and MTV, and that detail was almost hidden in her copy, and could be something really relevant to her audience. Maybe it’s not, maybe it is.
But I think the key is with the LinkedIn profile is figuring out those details that you’re currently hiding, that you don’t think are important, but are actually really important and worth adding to, the about section, or even adding to a headline, or even adding into the hero section of your LinkedIn profile.
Rob: Yeah. I think everybody who has tried to write their own copies, familiar with this phenomenon, that it’s so easy to write for other people, it’s so easy to see what makes other people different, but when we write for ourselves, we lose the clarity that we can see in other people. And as I was thinking about this, actually earlier this week, it dawned on me that, inside our heads, all of us are rational.
At least we think we are rational. Because we understand the reasons that we’ve given ourselves for the things that we do. But, the truth of the matter is that we’re emotional. Everybody else is emotional. We all base our decisions, or actions on emotions, and the things that we feel and we back it up with rationality. But again, when we’re in our heads, we can’t see the emotional stuff that would appeal to other people.
And so, it can often be really helpful to have a brand strategist or another copywriter help draw those kinds of things out when you write your, about page, or when you are talking about the things that really make you different. Because again, we know inside our heads, but we don’t understand how that translates to people outside. So, I’m not sure that I’m being really clear on that idea, but it’s a phenomenon that we all deal with and, oftentimes we need to talk to somebody or work with somebody else to get over it.
Kira: Well, yeah. I mean, it sounds like what you’re saying is, if this is something that you are struggling with, as you listen to this, it might be worth getting that feedback, whether it’s hiring a consultant or talking to a friend, or a colleague, or being a part of a mastermind group, like the Think Tank, or some circle where people get to know you and they can spot what makes you different, what stands out, those little details that, like you said, are so easy to miss, and when we’re looking at our own past, in our own brand, and personality, and business. So, I think the key is just to find that if you don’t have it.
Rob: Agreed. Another thing that stood out to me as Marietta was talking, is just how much we all need to be working harder to get visibility. I know there’s so many copywriters who are introverts. We like working from home because we can be alone, or all of those things that we talk about as copywriters. But the fact of the matter is, the best copywriters aren’t the copywriters who are making the most money. At least for the most part. I know I’m generalizing here, but the best copywriters aren’t the ones that are initially thought of. The people who are thought of and hired are the most visible copywriters.
And it’s better if you’re awesome at writing and you’re visible, but if you’re only awesome at writing, nobody can find you. And so, you do need to get this ability. You’ve got to be more promotional in your business in order to get yourself in front of the right clients. And, you and I have been thinking a lot about this recently because we launched our new training, the Underground. And we’ve been promoting the celebrity copywriter formula, which is our formula for figuring out, how do you get to that point where you’re getting in front of the right people? What are the things that you can do to get in front of that?
And so, whether you follow our formula, or not, visibility is a really critical part of getting noticed by the people that you want to work with.
Kira: Yeah. And visibility, really, it just starts to stack up too, and part of the reason we had Marriott on the show is because we found her and she has such credibility, if you land on her website, from the different media platforms that she’s been on. And so, it’s a no brainer decision even if you haven’t talked to someone before, when they have these big logos on their site to invite them on, and then you invite them onto your show and then they get more visibility. And so, it just starts to add up.
And I think the part about Marietta sharing her story about pitching different media platforms was really cool to hear, at least for me, because she mentioned she was rejected several times. I think she said for three years when she was pitching The Muse. And it wasn’t until she tried a different angle and became herself, her cheesy self, like I’m super cheesy. I love that.
And referenced 80s music, and just became more of herself and tried a different angle for pitching, that she started to get traction too, but it took three years. So, I mean, what I took away from that was just to keep trying, don’t give up, and try different angles, and try to be more of yourself when you make those connections to different media platforms.
But also, it does start to add up once you get that first one, and then the second one, and it gets easier. So, just keep trying to get in there until you make that first connect.
Rob: Yeah. I think what Marietta was sharing, dovetails really nicely with a couple of other interviews that we’ve done recently. What Bree Weber was talking about when she cold pitches clients, and she gets very personal, and we walked through an example of how she does that. And also, our interview with Selena Soo and how you can use that first landed interview, you leverage that, basically, to get the next one, and then to get the next one. You ladder yourself up until you’re on these really high profile sites.
It does take time. It does take effort. But maybe what Marietta is sharing here, as really, she mentioned being cheesy, how much she loves cheese or whatever, but putting your personality into that and being unique, being maybe a little bit weird, being different is a way to catch attention a little bit faster. So I like that.
Okay. So let’s go back to our interview with Marietta and ask about the things that she’s done right. In her business.
Kira: So listening to you, it’s clear that you have done so many things right in your business, and you’re having all these successes, what would you say has helped you? Beyond what you’ve done on LinkedIn, and what you’re helping your clients do, maybe even beyond the articles and the sites you were featured on, what else has been a key to your success as a small business owner over the last few years? Something that maybe we could learn from.
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I would say staying focused and not watching what other people do. Because I’ll give you an example, way back when I used to be a runner and I ran the New York City, my husband and I ran the New York City Marathon. Actually, it was the first time that New York City Marathon got canceled after Hurricane Sandy, and we ran it afterwards. Running a marathon is like two different stages. And the two different stages is how I think about my whole journey from being an employee to now being my own boss.
And the first part is the training. Literally, saying no to happy hours. Which was hard, because we had to do eight races before. You have to qualify to do the marathon, I mean, you have to run eight races. I mean nights, we would have to be asleep, because eight o’clock in the morning, we would have a race, obviously, I guess that whole thing helped me and stuff.
And so, I feel like I compared that training part to everything in my career as a full-time employee, as a consultant, to the point of being in a cubicle, crying in the bath, or crying in the bathroom, because I’m like, “I hate my job. I want to work for myself.” So being to the point, two years ago, when I was three months pregnant, and I finally was able to give my resignation, because I was ready to start my business.
That’s the first leg, is that training and that preparation. And then when it comes to running a business, I compare it to the actual start of the race. And I never considered myself a runner before, because I’m not fast, at all. So it’s like for those who don’t consider themselves a writer, sometimes, because, “I write, but I’m not really a writer.” It’s like, “I run, but I wasn’t fast.”
And there were times when, I remember that day, we started out on the Staten Island bridge, first time I’ve ever been on that bridge and we’re playing Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, I had goose bumps and everything, and you start a race, and you’re going, going strong, and then you’re watching this person pass you, and that’s what I used to do all the time. I would have somebody as a marker and I’m like, “Well, he’s not going to pass me.” And then he pass me and then, I’m like, “Okay. It is okay.”
And you just keep your pace. And sometimes you run faster, sometimes you have to slow down. And I would say, the hardest part of the journey was… You would think, as you get closer to that 26.2 miles, I feel the 6.2 was the hardest, but as I started running and it’s from morning to nighttime, my steps became slower, but they became more intentional.
And I finished, my husband and I finished, it took seven hours and 28 minutes, I believe, to finished that marathon. But my one goal was to finish it because I said, “We’re all getting the same metal. So whether you finished in three hours or seven hours in 28 minutes, we’re getting the same metal.” But also I said, I didn’t want to be taken by a bus. There was this bus that if you were injured, they scooped you up and took you there.
So I’m like, “All is, not going to be taken by the bus, not have to use the bathroom, and then finish.” So, I use this example now in the sense of, “I’m not looking at who’s beside me, I’m not looking at who’s ahead of me. I’m following my pace.” And I think that has kept me sane because in our world of marketing and online visibility, sometimes, to your point Kira, we talk about people as being outed, sometimes we’re just like, “Oh, I have to do what this person is doing to stand out.”
And if it doesn’t feel good, it’s not going to feel good. So, belongs, the long answer to that. But I would say what keeps me focused, is just being okay with my pace and what works for me right now, and finishing that race, even if it’s with slow intentional steps.
Rob: I love that story, because I do think a lot of times we get caught up in seeing what other people are building, and hearing other people’s numbers, and thinking that, either we’re falling behind, or that we need to be doing something differently. So knowing that, how do you then determine what’s the goal for you in your business each year or each quarter?
So that you are growing, maybe not necessarily revenue, although probably revenue, but that you’re growing your skillset, you’re growing the kinds of clients that you’re working with, the kinds of projects that you’re working is always getting better, how do you figure out what that goal, or that vision is?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I think this is how I feel, I mean, the reality is that now as business owners, you know what people are trying to compete and we’re trying to do the most because you have to be on clubhouse. The clubhouse I’m not even interested in. When people start talking about how it’s in hours and hours, I get really nervous and like, “No. I don’t even need to even know about it.” I have a droid, so it doesn’t even matter. But I say like, “How do you feel?” Because when we’re chasing so many squirrels, and we’re doing all the things, you’re not feeling good.
Or even if you’re working with clients and you’re not getting paid, I know that’s something that comes up a lot in the group. Sometimes it’s like, “Well, I’m working really hard, but this is not what I should be making. I’m not making a lot.” So I think that that internal check is, how do you feel? I think it’s unrealistic to say that if you love what you do, you’re always going to love what you do, because work is still work.
I want to sell seashells at the seashore, and write on my laptop. So this is still work. But if you feel good and energized by it, for the most part, that’s how you know, I mean, that’s how I gauge on, “I’m I on the right path?” And when I feel like I’m working too much, especially as a writer, if you’re working too much behind the scenes with someone else, you’re not doing things for yourself, or maybe spending time with your family and maybe you have to say, “Hmm, I wanted to make this goal. Maybe I wanted that 10K, or that 20K month, I need to slow down because I’m not feeling good. I’m not being present with my family or for myself.”
So, it’s going to look different for different people. But I think that we also have to be mindful of at Alan’s because with one great thing, you could be sacrificing, the other, which could actually be your health, and your own sanity.
Kira: To follow up that question. We’ve been talking a lot about productivity, time management, Rob, what’s the book that we’re reading? Oh, here it is. We’re reading, Done By Noon. So we can be done by noon in our businesses. So, I’d love to hear about your schedule, and how you structure your days. It sounds like, you mentioned you have a three-year-old?
Marietta Gentles Crawford.: A two year old. Yes.
Kira: A two year old.
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Yeah.
Kira: Okay. So how do you structure your week and your days so that you do feel good and you can get great work done? What does that look like?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: I really focus on what… I have to wake up early, I actually wrote an article about making fun of the fact that people don’t realize that you have to wake up three o’clock in the morning to be productive and run and drink tea. And I love anyone that can do it. I just can’t. But I do find that I often have to wake up early before everyone is up to get my work done. And then, I focus on what is the most important thing.
We talk about prioritization. Prioritizing. What are the top three things? So, I usually spend my day early morning getting things done as far as writing through my email list, and then I spend a block of time, maybe in the evening, on project work or connecting with people.
So, I keep it really focused and how I know if I’m doing too much, or I balance, and I use that word very lightly as often, is my measurement of, how present I am with my son. So, even for this week, this week has been a crazy week and it was so beautiful. I said, “You know what? I’m going to stop. What we’re going to do, we’re going to put on our jackets and we’re going to go for a walk.” 10 minutes. That’s all it was.
But, it’s being mindful of those things, because I think when we’re into the rush of doing everything, you can easily say, “I haven’t left the house for days.” I know you’re with your family member, your significant other, but are you really present? So, that’s something where I’m like, “I’m not perfect at it at all,” it’s really something that I struggle with, but I measure it by, “Okay. I am sitting down on a coach, or am I taking the time to pick a walk with my husband and my son?” And it feels good. So. trying to be mindful to do that more, but it’s not easy.
Kira: Yeah. While we’re confessing the things that don’t go so well, let’s go a little deeper. What are some of the… I’m not going to confess my things. I’m interviewing here. So, what are some of the things that you’ve struggled with in your business? Or some of the mistakes that you’ve made and you look back and you’re like, “Oh, I wish that I had done something differently. Or I wish I’d done something else. Walk us through one or two of those.
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Taken on projects that were not right for the money. When you’re a business owner, there’s ups and downs. I mean, there’s so many people that makes it seems like it’s always up, and, “I’m making six, seven figures and I’m a millionaire.” But the reality is that, there’re sometimes ups and downs for various reasons. It could be the personal life. It could be whatever is going on.
So, I think mistakes that I’ve taken at times is just, underestimating the time that a project will take. I mean, right now I have very clear packages, I don’t have that problem. But before I would charge per project or do freelance, both writing and so forth. And the projects seem like a great idea, but then you realize the work is always more than what you quoted.
So, then you end up doing so much work and then you realize that you got paid 2 cents for the whole project, and you’re burnt out and tired. So, that’s, definitely, a mistake. I mean, when I started writing, I used to do SEO writing and I remember getting paid $2 and 75 cents for an article, and it was, how to remove… Tattoo removal. That was the keyword and it was the worst writing ever, because they wanted it so stuffed with keywords.
And that’s how I started my writing career doing SEO writing. It was from those little platforms, you pick a project, like, “Oh, tattoo removal. How hard can that be?” And that was hours on a Sunday, trying to stuff, tattoo removal, into a 500 word article. And I’m like, “$2 and 50 cents?”
And so, lessons learned years ago, or maybe 10 years ago, so maybe that’s not the best use of time and what seems like it’s going to be a quick and easy project for the money if you need it right now, you’re probably better off saying no and positioning yourself as something that is more lucrative and a better use of your skills.
Kira: Yeah. It’s even hard to hear you say that and talk about that project, because it’s just so close to home for so many of us where it’s like, “Oh, I’ve been there, so many times,” and it can still creep up even when you’ve been writing for for years.
Marietta Gentles Crawford: Can I just say one thing, which is I still cringe one of the articles I used to write, was on structured settlements. It was my first job that I pitched on my own, independently, as a freelancer. And every time, to this day, 10+ years later when I see structured settlement commercials.
Kira: Oh yeah. I can relate. Okay. So, I’d love to hear about what you are excited about the next, maybe it’s the next phase of your business. What’s coming up for you? Any changes? Shifts? Or is it continuing to do more of what you’re doing and just honing in on what’s already working?
Marietta Gentles Crawford: It’s running my own rates, Is literally those steps in that marathon. And reminding myself not to look at who’s in front of me, who’s beside me, but literally just being more comfortable in my skin, being comfortable with my voice, and being comfortable with the expertise and how I know that I can help people. And that will continue to be my focus because when you trust your skills, when you trust what you can do and the results you can offer, then you just have to pull everything else to the side, because it’s not going to matter at the end of the day.
Rob: So that’s the end of our interview with Marietta. There are a couple of other things that maybe we should touch on Kira, just before we wrap up. I love the comparison of running the business to a marathon, and her experience running a marathon. The really good times in marathons, the people who are winning them are really close to two hours.
And so, even taking a slow approach to a marathon and finishing it in say, six or seven hours, I think is a really good metaphor for all the things that we do in our business. We do not need to run that race that we talked about at the very top of this episode. We don’t need to be chasing 10K months, or million-dollar-a-year, or whatever the thing is, our businesses need to work for us. And it’s okay if we take them a little bit slower than what everybody else around us is doing.
Kira: Yeah. And I know you’re a runner, Rob, so that speaks to you. I’ve done one marathon, so I can relate, but I chose the easiest course. I Googled, what’s the easiest marathon you could sign up for. I think that’s the slacker in me, and it apparently is the Chicago one. I signed up for that one because it’s so flat and that’s the only one I’ve ever done.
But yeah, I think it’s a great comparison to running your own business. Eat lots of bananas along the way, don’t pay attention to the other people around you, just do your thing. But yeah, I think what’s really cool right now, is it seems a lot of the conversations that I’ve been having recently with other copywriters, especially like copywriters in the Think Tank, and The Underground, have been centered around that same idea of, “I’m excited about growing, I’m excited about doing what I’m doing, but I’m not going to go at the pace other people are moving at, or I think I should be the speed in which I think I should be moving in this industry.”
And it does seem like so many copywriters are getting that and really living up to it. And I know that’s not easy, and so, many of us still struggle with it. I mean, I still struggle with it too, but I do think it feels like a shift in the conversation, at least that we’re having in the Copywriter Club around this, just this acceptance that, “We don’t have to play this game and we don’t have to keep pushing it.”
And I think maybe after 2020, and that difficult year for so many people, it’s like, we get it. It’s just not worth it. And it’s not necessary. And so, I like that, this change in conversation has happened and we can focus on what we want to do and not what everybody else is doing.
Rob: Yeah. Now I need to correct you because you said I’m a runner. And I think that that’s a real disservice to actual runners.
Kira: You are a runner in my mind.
Rob: I go out and I run, but I’m not sure that I would consider myself a runner. I actually liked spending more time on my bike, but yeah, I agree with everything that you’re saying there. Chasing somebody else’s business goals is not the right way to build a business. And we all know the things that we want, or at least, we can take the time to figure that out. We touched on that idea with Dave Ruel just last week I believe, and figuring out, “What is the vision for your life? What are the things that you want to do? Do you need time to spend with your kids? Or would you rather pour it into creating something really unique? Or being known for something?
We all get to choose those goals, and maybe your goal isn’t to any of those things. But, choosing your own goal, and running your own marathon, is really the way to move forward.
Kira: And it’s really cool to just think about the different types of growth that you’re talking about too. It’s not always financial, and actually some of the really ambitious, successful copywriters, the ones, maybe, we even have heard the name of, it’s really fun to talk to them and realize that the financial goals aren’t always driving them and it’s something else. And it’s often around time, and getting time back, or it’s about a lifestyle shift, or it’s about something else entirely different.
But I think the key is just to figure out what type of growth is important to you this quarter, or this year, and sometimes it’s financial, sometimes it’s health, sometimes it’s related to personal interests and personal development, or many other things. But you can be ambitious in so many different areas other than just financial gain.
Rob: And I think the other side of that too, is just being okay with making mistakes in our business. Because we’re all trying, we’re all growing, we’re all learning. And sometimes there’s this idea that, “I can’t launch this thing because it’s not perfect.” Or, “I’m not ready to do this idea that I have.” And you and I have said this, I don’t know how many thousands of times on the podcast and when we’ve been coaching people, but, we look at everything in our business as an experiment, and you try something and if it works, lean into it and do it more, and if it doesn’t work, it’s not necessarily a failure, but it’s an opportunity to learn and figure out what can you do differently that might move you forward towards that goal.”
And so, being okay with the idea that we’re going to make mistakes is huge. And I appreciated what Marietta was saying about, some of the things that haven’t gone really well in her business and some of the missteps that she had because we all have them, and it’s great to hear other share them. We say, “Oh yeah, I made that mistake too.” Or, “That’s something that I can avoid. And I’m going to figure out how to get around that in a better way.”
Kira: There’s so much power in just being able to make those mistakes and even in business, just to be able to say, “I’m going to make the most mistakes.”
Rob: We own that. We own that title.
Kira: I feel we can own that. And then, it’s like, “Yeah. And then, I’m going to help others. Maybe not make the same mistakes.” And there’s a business there, too. So, it’s something we can all embrace.
Rob: Yeah. Whether it’s fast growth, or slow growth, it’s all doable.
Kira: All right. So, we want to thank Marietta Crawford for joining us to chat about her business and to share a few ideas for using LinkedIn more effectively. If you want to connect with Marietta, you can find her at maribrandsforyou.com. That’s M-A-R-I-B-R-A-N-D-S-F-O-R-Y-O-U.com. You can also download her free guide about the four ways to profit from your personal brand on LinkedIn. And of course, you can connect with her on that platform too.
Rob: And that’s the end of this episode of the Copywriter Club Podcast, our intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Mintner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcasts to leave a review of the show. And perhaps more importantly, if you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business, and grow your business in the coming year, visit copywriterthintank.com. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.