TCC Podcast #158: From Content to Email with Samar Owais | The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #158: From Content to Email with Samar Owais

Samar Owais, content expert and email copywriter is our guest for the 158th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. This one has been a long time coming… this is our fourth attempt to make this interview happen and it is worth the wait. Kira and Rob ask Samar about a lot of stuff from email to being the only person at TCCIRL with a hijab. Here’s the list of what we asked:
•  how Samar built her content business and charged $1000 per blog post
•  what content writers should be doing to build their business
•  why she “transitioned” from content to conversion-oriented email copy
•  what she does to find clients for her business right now
•  what email sequences should use in their business
•  the 4 phases of her process and what she accomplishes in each phase
•  the things she struggles within her business
•  how she storyboards emails to make sure the sequence does what it should
•  how she tracks her success—and gets access to all of her client’s numbers
•  why she offers to help implement the emails she writes
•  how she packages her services and what she charges for an engagement
•  her writing process and how she applies her strategy to each project
•  the impact of the pivot—from content to email—on her business
•  her experience attending TCCIRL last year (and why you should go this year)
•  what she experienced as the only hijab-wearing Muslim woman at the event and why we need more people from all backgrounds at all copywriting events
•  how she deals with self-sabotage and how we can stop doing that to ourselves
•  who she relies on to help her get things done
•  her advice for anyone who wants to specialize in email copy
•  what’s next for Samar in her business

Like we wrote above, this one is worth the wait. To hear all the advice Samar had to share, Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript. Or download the episode to your favorite podcast app (and don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss future episodes).

 

The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:

Paul Jarvis
Copyblogger
Copyhackers
Val Geisler
Prerna Malik
Eman Zabi
TCCIRL
The Copywriter Underground
Chanti Zak
Samar’s website
Samar’s Twitter
Kira’s website
Rob’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground

 

Full Transcript:

Kira:   What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal and idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.

Rob:   You’re invited to join the Club for episode 158 as we chat with copywriter, Samar Owais about going from $5 blog posts to assignments that pay more than 50 times that much today. How she finds good clients, willing to pay her rates. What she did to write for clients like Copyblogger, Men with Pens, and Mercy, and how she stays productive while raising a young family.

Hey, Samar.

Kira:   Samar, welcome.

Samar:           Hi, guys, how are you?

Kira:   So good, so good to talk to you. This has been a long time in the making. I think this is our fourth attempt to make this interview happen, but I’m feeling, I think we’re all feeling good. This is going to happen and we’re really excited to talk to you today. So, let’s just kick off with your story. How did you end up as an email copywriter?

Samar:           Mostly through trial and error. So, before I was an email copywriter, I was a content writer. I spent about eight years building my business and authority. Wrote for clients like Paul Jarvis, and big brands like Marriott and Intercontinental. Got published in places like Copyblogger and Founder. My business as a content writer was at a pretty sweet spot, to be honest. But then, three things happened.

One, I got more interested in pursuing the ROI of the content that I was writing, but my clients weren’t. Two, I hit the ceiling at $1,000 a blog post, and couldn’t seem to find clients willing to pay me more than that. And the ones that were paying me a thousand dollars expected the sun and the moon, without measuring the ROI again, so this was really frustrating. And three, I’d begun to hate waking up in the morning and writing content. There was just no joy in my workday anymore, and I thought I was just burned out.

So, as I was grappling with all this when Joanna Wiebe, Copyhackers launched her 10X Freelance Copywriter Course. I figured if there was one person who could help me break the $1000 ceiling and teach me how to convince clients to measure the ROI of the content that they were publishing online, it was Joanna. So, as I worked through the course, I realized that it wasn’t that I was burned out, it was that I was just no longer interested in writing content anymore. And that’s when I started experimenting with writing other kinds of copy. I tried my hand at landing pages, hated that. I tried writing a sales page. I sucked at that. And I didn’t even want to touch writing website copy, because I had no idea how to measure the ROI of that, and it feels too much of a hassle.

Around this time, I started talking to Val Geisler. She was in the 10X course with me, and Val is incredibly focused. She took everything Jo taught us in the course and applied it. And as a result, she was seeing this incredible growth in her business, to the point where she had more work than she could handle and was looking to subcontract some of it. So, I reached out to her. I told her I wanted to try my hand at email copywriting, and that even though I had no experience, I was a fast learner, never missed a deadline, and I didn’t make the same mistake twice.

So, Val being the amazing person and entrepreneur that she is, took a chance on me, and she gave me two weeks to write an email sequence. I think it was a re-engagement email sequence. I spent the first week just learning about email copywriting. I think it spent four to six hours a day, just consuming as much as information as I could. And I loved every minute of it. But the time I wrote the sequence, I’d found my copywriting specialty. And that was almost two years ago. I haven’t looked back since.

Rob:   Wow, okay. So, a lot to unpack here, but before we jump into email, I’d love to go talk a little bit about content, and the content that you’re writing, because I imagine there are a lot of people who heard you say, ‘$1,000 per blog post,’ that just about swallowed their lunch, in one bite maybe. We see people who are struggling sometimes, to make a hundred dollars per blog post, and so can you talk a little bit about how, when you started out, you were able to up-level your business to the point where you could get $1,000? What did you do? How did you find the right clients? What was the kind of content you were writing?

Samar:           So, I guess posted a lot. And I wasn’t as prolific as Prerna (Malik) was in her guest posting, but I was extremely strategic. So, I would only hit a guest post on the blogs that were read by my prospective clients. So, mostly marketing and small business blogs. So, I guest posted on Copyblogger, and it was this humongous, 5,000 plus word blog post, which went onto stay in their popular blog post roster that was at the site of their main homepage for 12 months. And it kept bringing me clients. Every month, I would get queries from prospective clients, who would ask me, who would defer to that blog post.

And every few clients, I would just keep raising my rates. And it would scare me so much, like $450, $500, $700 and every jump I would be sweating. It’s like, ‘They’re not going to accept it. They’re not going to accept it. They’re going to see right through me.’ But they kept accepting it. But also, their expectations also just began to balloon. So, that $1,000 blog post may sound like a lot of money, but it required me interviewing 30 people, and putting together listical of quotes, of experts, and if you’ve ever … You guys do interviews with the podcast, and you know how hard it is to get somebody to give you a quote on email. And I mean, just this podcast took two years in the making, so you can imagine how hard it was.

So, it was gratifying when it was done, but that entire process was just too much of a hassle for me, and I was at a point where I wasn’t willing to work at those rates anymore, and I wanted to charge three times that for the amount of work and hours that I was putting in. And obviously, I couldn’t find anybody.

Kira:   Okay, so I know you’ve pivoted and again, we’re going to talk about email. But, before we wrap this up, what would you do differently, if you were still interested and excited by the content side okay of your business and building that out, what changes would you make, to make that work for your business today?

Samar:           I would be making myself more visible. I would be hosting webinars, talking on podcasts about getting ROI from the stuff that you publish online, and just tying the concept of money to my work. Because when clients see that your work can get them more business, more money, it’s a lot easier for them to justify the expense to themselves, to their bosses, to whoever is calling the shots.

Rob:   Very cool, so switching a little bit now towards what you’re doing today, aside from subcontracting, how are you finding clients? How have you made the switch from finding content-based clients to email based clients?

Samar:           Okay, so two ways. Referrals and pitches. I let my clients and connections know that I was working as an email copywriter now, and that I have an opening, and ask for introductions. And one of the things that I do is that I’m always looking for gaps in my prospective clients’ email funnels, and then I pitch them. So, that’s how I landed Copyhackers as a client. I pitched Jo to email sequences that I realized she didn’t have in place. And she said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ And so we did it.

Rob:   So, yeah. A follow up to that then, let’s talk about the specifics of that pitch that you make. What are you saying in that outreach to a potential client, that people are responding to yes. Is it just, ‘Hey, I notice you’re missing something and I can do this,’ or are you going to more in-depth in trying to create a relationship? What does that pitch say?

Samar:           Okay, so the upside of this was that I already had a relationship with Joanna, in the sense where we weren’t friends, but she is a mentor of mine since I’m in her course. And I kind of was, I messaged her and said, ‘Hey, have you realized that people are leaving the course, now that all the modules have been released?’ And she said, ‘Yeah.’ And then she said, ‘I see a pitch in your future, Samar.’ And four hours later, I sent her this formal pitch in her Slack channel, and we had this whole negotiation. She put me through the ringer, to be honest. She was really testing me out, and yeah, so I just told her, I’m very passionate about her course, 10X Freelance Copywriter. It has been instrumental in my growth in the last two years in my business.

So, I told her, ‘Look, Jo. It breaks my heart to see all these people leaving, because they don’t realize all the other value you and Amy are providing.’ So, I want to do something that keeps them there, that makes them use up all the resources that you’re giving them, instead of just leaving the course at the end of it, and then not reaping the benefits. And so, I just kind of highlighted all the stuff that her course can do for the students, and all the wins that they can get and pitched that.

Kira:   All right, so how else did you build up this business? Landing this project with Jo, working with Val. What else were you doing to shape your packages and really figure out this new business?

Samar:           Again, it’s going to sound very cliché but, trial and error. I have this habit of stalking freelancers I look up to, right? So, I will go through their websites, I will follow them online, I will listen to every podcast interview, ever guest post that they publish, and I just learn. I am a voracious reader. Not of books, surprisingly, that has really gone down as I’ve become a parent, but online reading is my jam. So, I keep taking notes, and I keep noticing all these little things. And that’s how I’d created my email strategy and copywriting process. And so, that’s how I kind of built it. And every time I would create something, like a package on my process, I would test it out on the next client and then adjust it accordingly.

Rob:   So, I want to ask if there are email sequences that copywriters aren’t necessarily writing for their clients, but should be writing for themselves. What are we missing as far as email goes in our own businesses?

Samar:           I think you’re missing, most copywriters, including me by the way, I don’t even have an email list set up on my website right now. Which is in the works, but it’s like the cobbler … What’s that saying? The cobblers don’t have …

Rob:   Yeah, the cobbler’s children have no shoes.

Samar:           So, yeah. Yeah. So, I’ve been writing these amazing email sequences for everybody and getting my ecommerce clients these great results, but I don’t have anything to show for it except for my portfolio. So, yeah, but the one thing that I had planned on doing, is a nurture sequence. Because, it’s nothing builds up the no trust factor like a nurture sequence. And then at the end of it when you make an offer to whoever’s subscribing, and then it’s just a natural progression of, ‘Hey, sure. I’d love to work with you.’ Instead of just being in somebody’s list and then out of the blue getting an email, ‘Hey, I’ve got an opening next month. Who is interested?’ So. It’s kind of like that.

Kira:   Okay, I’d love to hear more about your process, because you mentioned that you pulled inspiration from other copywriters you respect. So, what does that process look like today? What are you doing differently in your process, and maybe other writers?

Samar:           So, my process has four phases. Phase one is audit and analysis. I do not move forward with projects without it, right? So, I don’t care if you’ve had somebody do your audit first before. I want to do my own. Because, a lot of times, people don’t look for things … I mean, because I’m the one handling this particular project, I know what I want to look at, and not somebody who’s just doing a general audit. So, I do an email by email audit, of usually up to 12 to 15 emails in a sequence, and find out what’s working, what’s not working. Identify the money gaps and come back with recommendations on how to fix what’s broken, optimize what’s not, and identify areas where we can increase conversions.

Phase two is discovery and strategy. In this phase, I talk to my clients and everyone involved in the email decisions that they make. I talk to their customers, collect the OC data through surveys, interviews, reviews, competitor research, et cetera. And once I have everything I need, I sit down and mind that data, which helps me in creating a strategy, mapping out the email sequence, complete the segmentation and stuff, and creating a storyboard that has details about each email.

Phase three is copywriting and editing. This is my favorite part. It’s where my copywriting chops come into play, and it’s purely creative. By this phase, I have everything I need. The storyboard tells me what I need to include in each email, so I just have to sit down and write the emails I’ve been thinking about for weeks, by this point.

Phase four is implementation and testing. Now, most clients have their own people doing this. But, if they don’t, then I go in and implement the emails and set up their sequence. Then, in 90 days or once a certain number of subscribers have been through the sequence, we go in and see how those emails are performing, and how they can be further tested and optimized.

Rob:   So, it sounds like you’ve got everything going really well in your business, Samar. Tell me, where are you struggling? What isn’t working, and what things can you be doing to improve?

Samar:           I’m struggling with financial planning, which sounds shocking, right? But I am really bad with money. So, it’s to me, two plus two equals five. I have no financial system in place, like money comes in, I use it as I need it. I put aside a certain amount for taxes, now that I’m in a country where I have to pay taxes. And yeah, I’ve been trying to get better at it, and I’m reading profit first, and trying to implement it, but it’s really slow going. So, my biggest struggle right now is learning how to manage my cash flow better.

Kira:   All right, so I am going to go back into the process, because you mentioned a lot that was really, stood out to me. So, with your audit, where do most of us kind of fall short when we’re providing an email audit in that initial phase? Where and how can we improve that, so we’re doing a great job in that first phase with the audit?

Samar:           Okay, so there is, I treat my audits kind of in a two phase way. Where one, I’m going email by email, I’m checking subject lines. I am looking at the preview text, the opening line, the call to actions, everything, right? But then, there’s the bigger picture, where I see the entire sequence as a whole. I map it out in a flow chart, and I see how everything is connected. And I think that is where a lot of audits may be lacking. So, it’s when I see the big picture, it lets me see the gaps. It lets me see areas where we can optimize certain things, and it just helps me see, come up with a better strategy, basically.

Kira:   Okay, and then you mentioned your storyboard, you mentioned flowcharts. Can you talk through what this storyboard looks like, what tools are you using, are you actually sketching this out?

Samar:           Oh, yeah, absolutely. So for my flowchart, I use a service called Whimsical. It’s about 10, $12 a month, but it is really, it makes mapping out email sequences incredibly easy. And because when you’re going deeper into segmentations, it just, you know how all these things start branching out, and it gets a little out of control. So, paper and pencil doesn’t always work out. So, Whimsical for mapping out the sequence, and then I just use Google Sheets to create the storyboard. I create a column for the number of emails, the delay in the emails, the title of the email. Notes, what’s going to be in the email. The CDA, delaying, stuff like that. And then I share it with the client, get their final approval, and before I start writing.

Kira:   Okay, and then the last pieces, testing the optimization. Of course, we all know what that means, but can you talk through what that actually looks like for your clients?

Samar:           Depending of what we’ve decided, right? Certain number of days or subscribers going to it, we hop on a call and go through the results with the client. And we identify areas where we think, ‘Okay, so this should be performing better,’ or you want to test something out, because when you’re creating a strategy and when you’re writing email sequence, that there are a lot of ideas flying around, right? And I always have a running list of ideas that we want to try later on, but if we do it now, we’re going to get distracted. So that list, it’s pulled up in that call, and then we go through and see what we want to test out. Sometimes, it’s email subject lines. Sometimes, it’s testing out a text email versus a HTML based one. It’s kind of like that.

Rob:   And how do you measure success at the end of a project?

Samar:           It needs to perform better than it was before.

Rob:   Yeah, I mean, I think that’s usually pretty obvious that we want to get that, but I think a lot of copywriters that we talk to also say, ‘I don’t even have access to the numbers, so how do I know if something is performing better?’ You always get access?

Samar:           I do, most of the time. So when I’m on the discovery call, when I fill out the intake form myself on the call, I don’t send it to the client to fill it out. So, when we’re on our project kick-off call, that form is right there in front of me, and I’m, as they’re telling me all that info, I’m putting it in. So, I ask them, what are your stats right now? What are your email stats right now? So, either send me a screenshot or just tell me, and I’ll record it right here. So, a lot of times, they just sign it and they start telling me that stuff. And then when I’m, because sometimes I offer to implement the sequence, which means I get guest access. And I keep that guest access, so I have access to the stats that come in.

Kira:   Gotcha, yeah. So do you think that implementation piece is worth doing, even though I can see where oftentimes as copywriters, we want out of that piece, because there’s so many little things that could go wrong? Of you, has it been worth it to handle implementations, so you can get those stats?

Samar:           Yeah, so as an email strategist and copywriter, one of the things that really tripped me up in the beginning was that I don’t know how to implement … There are so many email marketing services out there, right? I don’t know how to do all of them. So, I tend to, I went out and found people who knew those particular ones that I was working with, right? As soon as I sign a proposal, get a signed proposal from the client, one of the first things I do is I go out and find somebody who knows that email marketing software that my client is using, inside out. So, and then sometimes if I’m swamped with work, I outsource it. If I’m not, then I just pay them an hourly fee, and say, ‘I might have questions. And I want you to get on a call with me if I need it.’ And they’re more than happy to help.

Kira:   Yeah, that’s a great idea. So, I don’t think you actually shared this, but how have you packaged your services? Do you package it by the type of sequence, or are you customizing each package that you sell?

Samar:           Not really. So, my email strategy and sequence, strategy and copy package is a certain amount right now. I don’t mess with it, right? But if we’re on a discovery call, and I notice that the client is going to need a lot more segmentation than the cost of my package right now, then I give them a custom quote. So, as one email sequence with strategy and audit and everything, the whole shebang is about $4500 right now. And the more I’m doing them, the more I’m realizing that I’m not charging enough. But for now, until at least January 1, these are my rates. And the audit on its own, like one of my packages is just the audit, which is often the first step when we start a project, so it the client just wants to test out the waters, they can get my email conversion audit and see how it goes. And if they like it, and they want to work with me, then the cost of the audit is adjusted in the cost of the project.

Kira:   Gotcha. Okay, so the $4500, what does that break down into? Maybe I missed it, but how many emails and what’s included?

Samar:           12 emails.

Kira:   12, okay gotcha. Okay, so there’s a lot in there. And what advice would you give to other copywriters who maybe are newer in the email space and are trying to figure out how much to charge for their packages, how much to charge per email, and struggling to figure out what that should look like? What guidance would you give them?

Samar:           As far as rates are concerned, I always say, ‘Charge a number that will make you get out of bed in the morning.’ It could be anything, right? It’s perception, it’s context. But when you’re just starting out, maybe charging $300 an email seems like a mountain to you. So, start low. Start whatever gets you clients, whatever gets you testimonials, whatever gets you results. Just as you keep building your authority and stacking up that social proof, keep increasing your rates. I started at $5 blog posts, so let’s be honest. As long as you don’t go back, you keep stepping up, it’s fine. Charge whatever.

Rob:   Awesome, cool. So, I’d like to talk a little bit about the writing of the emails. Do you have tricks or tactics, or things that you rely on to take say, an existing email sequence that somebody has got, and you know that you can apply these and dial it up? What are you doing to make sure that …

Samar:           I probably should but I don’t, because when … Strategy is such a fluid thing, right? When you go through something, when you’re auditing the whole thing, you get these ideas. So, a lot of times, a single email is packed with information, right? They’re asking their subscribers to follow them on social media, reply and share what their biggest frustration is, and then there’s a little bit about the products that they’re selling. And I’m like, ‘That’s three separate emails.’

So, it really depends. I do have these swipe files for email subject lines, which I keep noting. My inbox is the biggest but whenever I come across a good subject line, or an opening line, or preview text, I just include it in my Google sheet file that I have for this. And because subject lines are the one thing that really trip me up, and that’s the one thing that I feel I need to keep going back, and working on my skills on.

Kira:   So, what would you say, Samar, as far as the impact of this pivot you made in your business? From content to email, how has that impacted you financially, personally, professionally? Yeah, just share the results of this change you’ve made in your business.

Samar:           Last year was my first year as an email copywriter, right? And the pivot looks scary. Even after I made the move from content to email, I keep leaning on my content work because that’s where my authority was. That’s where I was getting the bulk of my income from. It took me a full year to replace my content work with email projects, and even then there were lean months where it was so tempting for me to go back to taking on content work. But, one of the smart things that I did was that, I saved up like crazy, the year I was taking on content and email work both, and it allowed me to save up six months of reserve and attend TCCIRL.

Rob:   Yeah, let’s talk about that, our experience at TCCIRL. We love talking about that event. What was that like for you, being there?

Samar:           It was incredible. Okay, so I’m going to take it from the top, right? The first thing, we’re having such a long flight without kids. I was in heaven. My bag was so light, I kept checking if I’d missed anything, but then I realized it wasn’t filled with extra bottles, there were no snacks. That’s why it felt light. I was traveling alone. I didn’t have any kids with me.

Kira:   It’s nice, right?

Samar:           I just kind of caught up on my sleep, all the way over to New York, because it felt like I hadn’t slept in days, the entire excitement of going to New York, and making sure my kids were with relatives for the 10 day separation. And this was the first time that I was leaving my kids. So, it was really stressful. But then once … I got there a couple of days early because I have some family in Philadelphia that I wanted to meet. So, I was rooming with Eman Zabi at TCCIRL, and it was such a blast. I mean, Eman is a gem of a person. Even before I had got in there, she had sent me a video of the whole entire room, and I knew what to expect when I entered the hotel.

So, yeah, and TCCIRL, the conference started and I got to meet everybody I had been talking to in the main group, and then the underground Facebook group. So, it was just this amazing, once in a lifetime experience for me.

Kira:   And before we jumped on the call, we were talking about representation at events. Can you talk a little bit about kind of your take on representation in communities like our own, and events like our own?

Samar:           Yeah, sure. So, one of the things that really struck me out was that I was the only hijab wearing Muslim woman there, right? So, not the only Muslim woman but somebody who was very visibly Muslim. And it kind of just really, really struck me because the copywriting community is so huge, and then it made me start thinking back, right? Even online, I don’t see that many women who look like me in the copywriting world. So, I kind of just really, it was a jolt to the system. And not something that I had actively thought about before that moment, when I walked into that hall and saw all these seas of faces, and nobody who looked like me.

And it’s not that these women who are visibly Muslim like me are not there. They are. They reach out to me on Facebook and they are working. They’re doing good work. It’s just that everybody is so scared of showing up online, and I can totally understand. Because, every time I show up online, it’s not spontaneous for me.  I think about it a long time, before I will post a tweet or even remind somebody, respond to somebody. So, it’s slow going, but I hope that as the years go on, it’s seeing people like me in conferences is not a novelty but more like a norm.

Rob:   Yeah, we definitely hope for the same thing. We are very conscious in trying to make sure that our event appeals to a broad range of people, that the speakers are representative, and so we echo what you’re saying. We would love to see more people of all different ethnicities coming from around the world. We want those people, not only in the audience but on our stage as well. And I think there’s a huge opportunity for us all to get together as a copywriting community from so many various places and share what we have in common and celebrate that.

Samar:           Yeah, and I just want to say that TCCIRL was incredibly welcoming. Chanti was my dinner host, and when she emailed us asking what our preferences was, I told her I would love it if we went to a halal or a kosher restaurant, but totally fine if we didn’t because I was there for the company more than anything else, right? And every place has salads, so that’s fine. But she chose the most amazing kosher restaurant, and that was the highlight of my visit. The food was just incredibly out of this world. If I ever go back to New York, that’s one of the first places that I’ll be going to. So, thank you, Chanti, and thank you guys for creating this incredibly welcoming conference.

Kira:   Can we talk a little bit about what you shared, about before you post anything online, you don’t just post randomly. You really think through what you’re posting. Or, at least, that’s what it sounds like. Can you just talk a little bit about that, because I think a lot of people can relate to that. Just even around feeling uncomfortable being visible and sharing our opinions, and potentially being attacked. So, what is your thought process before you share something or step into that visibility?

Samar:           So, I’ve been incredibly lucky in the support system that I have in my copywriting peers, right? So, there are two or three people that I trust implicitly, and whenever I spend more than half an hour on a tweet … That’s literally how long I’m spending, by the way. Sometimes. So, and I know it’s better, instead of agonizing over it, it’s better to send it over to them and see what they say, and 100% of the time, they’re like, ‘This is great. Why are you even thinking about it? Just tweet it out.’

And so, I’ve been forcing myself to be, to embrace my unique experiences and share some of my world online, and so far, it’s kind of been okay. Nobody’s come right out and threw rocks at me or anything like that, or said, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ Technically they can, because I already am where I came from. But, it’s just, not all my fears have been realized. So, to anybody out there who’s struggling to post online, show up as themselves, just do it. And if you’re really scared, just think about it this way. Pick Twitter. The timeline moves so fast, 98% of the people won’t even see it. So, just start posting.

Rob:   So, Samar, it’s been a little while since you posted this, but in the Underground a while ago, you posted about self-sabotage, and I think this is something that a lot of copywriters, including myself at times, we do this where we sabotage our own best efforts. Will you talk a little bit about that and your experience?

Samar:           Yeah, for sure. So, my first year as an email copywriter was really good, financially. But I decided to take December off because my sister was getting married, and [VC 00:32:18] weddings are this huge affair. They’re exhaustive and drawn out affairs and the festivities can last anywhere from two weeks to a month. So, I knew that because this was my baby sister and the last wedding in our family, we were going to go all out. And so I planned on taking December off, and I worked incredibly hard and saved aggressively.

But then, in the middle of all this, I realized that I hadn’t planned on having any work for after the break. And suddenly, I went from being this busy, slightly smug email copywriter to a work-less email copywriter. And the panic set in. And then self-doubt started knocking on the door. And I started wondering if I was scared of the success I’d seen, because I couldn’t come up with any other reason for not planning after the wedding. Like after December, what happens then? I wrapped up all my projects like I was shutting down business. And I just, the day I realized that, I felt like such an idiot. But, and I started asking myself, ‘Was this my way of sabotaging myself, because I’d been struggling so long, financially?’ And yeah, so I had all these thoughts going through my head, when really, I should have just been doing the work.

Kira:   So you feel like self-sabotage was just, it was getting in the way, but not actually serving you?

Samar:           Yeah.

Kira:   Gotcha. So, I want to pivot a bit and ask about your team. I think you said, ‘We,’ a couple of times. I’m not sure if you have a team. I’d like to hear about the structure, if you do have support, and also what your schedule looks like, because I know, I have young kids, you have young kids, who I think are even younger, and it’s challenging for all parents to juggle that early childhood with business. Early businesses, too. So, how do you make it all work, too?

Samar:           I have a VA, and then I have this incredible person I sometimes outsource implementation to. So, as for managing my time, it’s really strange because both my kids go to school, but they both have very different timings. So, my three year old goes to school during the conventional time, which is 8:30 to 12:30. But, my oldest, my older kid goes to a school, which has an afternoon shift, so she goes at 11:00 and she comes back at 7:00. So, my day is kind of broken up in chunks, where I work after sending the little one to school until 10:30. So, 8:30 to 10:30 is my catch-up time, right? I check my email, I catch up on any correspondences that have come through the night. I YouTube a little. I have breakfast while I’m sitting at my laptop, checking my email and stuff.

And then once she leaves, the older one leaves, I get down to real work, right? And then I get my mom to pick up the younger one. So, that gives me a few more hours to work. And I’ll be honest, one of the biggest support to me, is living walking distance from my parents. It is a blessing. If I have a deadline, all I have to say is, ‘Mom, can you please watch baby cub,’ and it’s, ‘No problem at all, sure, yeah, send him over.’ And then I have the entire day to work. And so that’s kind of how, I work in chunks, basically.

And I am an expert napper. So, if I haven’t been able to work during the day, for whatever reason, if my kids are not feeling well or anything. So, I take a nap in the afternoon, or even six pm, and then I work through the night.

Kira:   Yeah, I am an expert napper as well. It’s a special skill set. Now, we’ve talked a lot about email and the pivot you’ve made in this conversation. For a copywriter who’s considering that niche, and really wants to jump into email, but also knows that a lot of … seems like there are a lot of email specialists out there, what advice would you give them so they can really specialize and make it work for them in their business?

Samar:           There is really no qualification that you need to have, to become an email copywriter, right? Just keep doing, just call yourself an email copywriter, and then it doesn’t matter what other work you’re doing. You got to put food on the table. Keep taking content work if that’s the work that’s coming your way, but keep marketing yourself as an email copywriter. So, eventually the work will start coming in. Until then, do whatever you have to do.

And I know it sounds simplistic, but that’s the truth of it. That’s how I did it. And once you decide to specialize as an email copywriter, find a way to fast track your growth. For me, it was working with Val and taking Joanna’s courses. But for someone who’s just starting out, and may not have the money to invest in courses, there are plenty of online resources that will teach you almost everything you need to know, to get started and start getting your client results.

But the fastest way that I recommend is, identify the experts in your specialization and stalk them online. Read everything published by them, get on their newsletters, attend their webinars. Listen to their podcast appearances, read their guest posts. Consume every bit of free content they give away. And when you follow someone to learn from them, it’s like a thread that keeps unraveling and giving you more information to work with, right? So, take social media, for example, keep an eye on the conversations, the experts in your niche are having, and the people that are responding to their tweets are commenting on their LinkedIn updates. You’ll find a goldmine of problems that your prospective clients are looking to solve. And it’ll also give you the list of prospective clients that you might want to pitch later on.

Rob:   Yeah, I think that’s great advice. So, what’s next for you in your business, Samar? What are you building, what fun things are you doing to grow?

Samar:           I’ve actually been sitting on a couple of collaboration ideas, that I cannot talk about right now.

Kira:   Oh, no.

Samar:           Yeah, because I’ve been sitting on them a long time, and they don’t seem to be moving forward, but that’s one of my things for 2020. I want to do those two things that I’ve been talking about. One is related to representation, and I think Kira, I’ve told you a little bit about it, too. But, the other is, doing a few webinars now on emails, and just talking to you guys has given me a few ideas. But other than that, I’m just focused on client work right now. Nothing else.

Kira:   So, Samar, we’d love to know what you think the future of copywriting looks like.

Samar:           It’s definitely not an AI, I can tell you that. On a serious note, to me, the future of copywriting is in copywriters being more selective in who they work with. It’s in them caring about their clients’ business, and being a strategic partner rather than just a copywriter.

Rob:   Yeah, I love that answer and I agree. AI may be a tool that we use, but if you’re not building a relationship with your clients, none of that even matters. And maybe even more importantly, building a relationship with your clients’ potential customers, who we’re trying to connect with.

Kira:   Great, well that’s a positive outlook on the future of copywriting. We still have jobs in the future. That’s good. So Samar, where can our listeners find you if they just want to reach out, or maybe follow you very closely online? Where should they go?

Samar:           Two places, one is my website, samarowais.com. And the other place I hang out is on Twitter. So, Twitter.com/samarowais.

Kira:   All right, Samar, so we’ve been grateful to have you in our groups, too. In The Underground, we’ve been grateful to have you in there, and then The Copywriter Club, and helping so many people within those groups, so thank you.

Samar:           You’re very welcome.

You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music from the show is a clip from Gravity, but Whitest Boy Alive. Available at iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing at iTunes, and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.

 

 

 

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