Attorney and contract expert, Christina Scalera is our guest for the 114th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. We’re grateful Christina took some time to explain why we (copywriters outside of the EU) might not need to worry too much about stuff like GDPR and what we really should be worried about instead (if you write sales pages, you’ll want to hear what she says). Here’s what we talked about:
• how and why she started the Contract Shop
• the risks of working with generic legal websites or big law firms
• the #1 thing Christina did to grow her business quickly
• the contracts you absolutely need in your business
• what you need to know and what you can safely ignore about GDPR
• what can happen if you don’t have the right contracts in place
• the benefits (besides legal protection) you get from contracts
• the ins and outs of client privacy
• a few things to know about working with affiliates
• legal risks when it comes to sales pages and sharing results
• working with subcontractors—what you need to know
We covered a lot of tricky topics and Christina helped us understand where we need to spend time reducing our legal risks—and how to do it. Ready to listen? Click the play button below or download this episode to your podcast app. And if you prefer reading, you can scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Contract Shop
Shades of Gray
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
Rob: This podcast is sponsored by The Copywriter Underground.
Kira: It’s our new membership designed for you, to help you attract more clients and hit 10k a month consistently.
Rob: For more information or to sign up, go to thecopywriterunderground.com.
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, and steal an 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 114 as we chat with attorney and founder of The Contract Shop, Christina Scalera, about the importance of contracts, GDPR and other privacy regulations, what we need to know about trademarks, building and growing more than one online business for creatives, and why she collects abstract art.
Kira: Welcome, Christina.
Christina: Hi, guys.
Kira: All right. Great to have you here. Let’s kick this off with your story. How did you end up building The Contract Shop?
Christina: Sure, yeah. I got out of law school and I landed my dream job. It was perfect, and it was the job that everybody wanted to get, and I felt so lucky. But unfortunately, a lot of different things were happening at the same time, and I ended up with a couple different health complications and basically had a doctor tell me something had to give. The only thing that I could give was my job.
I had to figure out a different way to make a living, and that was where I really stepped into the creative economy that … Well, not as it exists today, but what we know of it. I decided my first foray into this economy would be as a private yoga teacher, because I had a friend in DC, and she was a former business attorney turned private yoga teacher in DC, and I was living in Atlanta at the time. I was like, ‘Great. I can do that.’ She kind of helped me out with that and everything. But long story short, I didn’t make any money. Not a big shocker there. It’s hard to make money as a yoga teacher. Not impossible, but difficult.
To pay the bills, I kept doing legal work on the side. This yoga studio thing wasn’t a total wash. I got a lot of clients that were yoga studios in the area that needed different contracts reviewed, or were doing some licensing, things like that, that I had done in my corporate job. In the process, I felt like … Maybe you guys have felt this, too, but I was feeling that tug of the mid 20s, quarter-life crisis, like, ‘Okay, I’ve done all the school. I’ve done all the things. I’ve checked all the boxes. What’s next?’
I was really on this searching path and kind of stumbled into the creative world maybe that you guys are more familiar with as copywriters working with those kinds of creatives. What I mean by that is The Rising Tide Society was just starting. I think I was one of their first 700 followers, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is really cool. This account has 500 followers overnight.’ Then the next day it had 20,000. It was so crazy to watch. Just got in really early with them, went to some conferences, like Creative at Heart, A Loom with Bonnie Bakhtiari, and just kind of different … Making things happen. I was just really searching for some kind of answer and solution, what would be what I actually end up doing.
It was at these places that I started to meet people. I started to have conversations. I started to talk with people. I started to ask them what their problems were, where they were struggling. Eventually, it would always come out that I was an attorney, and that was when kind of the floodgates opened, so they would ask me all these questions, and they would have all these just needs, and I was like, ‘Wow. This is such an underserved community. This is ridiculous.’ They either are up against these big law firms … When you Google contract help, you find a big law firm that costs thousands of dollars to help you, or you find LegalZoom.
I was like, ‘There has to be some kind of in between.’ I really looked around, and there were a couple people out there that are doing something similar to what I’m doing, but not many, and I felt like I could do it better, honestly. That was really how The Contract Shop started, is just people asking me, ‘Hey, can you work on this thing, but I can’t pay you, and I can’t afford it,’ and I was like, ‘Well, I’m not going to work for free, so what’s an intermediary solution I could give you?’ That was how the templates kind of came about.
Rob: Sweet. You mentioned LegalZoom, and I know a lot of people … There are others, too, but I know a lot of people sort of rely on them. What’s wrong with depending on contracts from LegalZoom as opposed to working directly with an attorney? You also mentioned the expense and the hassle of hiring an attorney from a large firm can be tough. I know you’re fitting sort of in the middle, but help us understand sort of the risks and rewards of the other two options.
Christina: Yah, sure. I love this. No one’s ever asked me this.
Rob: Oh, good.
Christina: That’s why you guys are good copywriters. Yeah, so I don’t have a problem with LegalZoom. I think it’s a fine solution. I think where I stand out as different and as a better solution is that what I offer to my audience is more tailored to what they’re doing. If you go to LegalZoom, from the last time I checked, and I’m not there every day, but last time I saw, they had a general independent contractor template, and that was about as close as it got to what you guys would offer as copywriters, for example, whereas I’m in it every day. I’m working with copywriters. I’m always desperately looking for new copywriters, FYI, but that’s a different story.
I’m always constantly hiring new employees, independent contractors, and so I’m in it with people, and I have a lot of friends that are copywriters, so I’m constantly hearing about the struggles that they have. I have clients who are copywriters, so I’m constantly seeing what they’re coming up against. I’m able to inform my templates with all of that information and feedback in a way that a LegalZoom, I haven’t seen. Maybe they’re doing this now, but I have never seen them be able to do this on such a personal level.
That’s something that I really am proud of about our products, is that they are just so personalized to the industries that they serve, and I’m always updating them maybe in a way that bigger companies would just kind of forget about their products, like it’s done, it’s up there, it’s running, good enough, bye. I’m always in there. I’m always like, ‘How can I make this a better product?’
Then as far as big law firms go, I think it’s just … I mean, I feel the struggle of finding a copywriter, but you guys would probably find the struggle finding an attorney, or maybe you’ve tried to find a good graphic designer or a good web designer or any kind of service provider, and you know how hard that is if you’ve ever looked in earnest. There’s better solutions, thanks to people like you who are educating their audiences and providing these awesome communities for people like me to reach within and kind of try to find someone.
But to find an attorney, it’s a very difficult thing to do, because you don’t necessarily get to see the end result, and in the instance of, say, licensing agreements, you don’t really get to see directly how the licensing agreement impacted your business. Was that a good attorney? Was it a bad attorney? It’s really, really difficult for somebody who’s not an attorney to determine.
That’s where I really like these templates, is because you’re the one who’s actually delivering them, and so I can customize them so far, but you can add your voice. You can add your services. You can add your just unique value proposition and special touches to the process, and we try to walk people through and show them how to do that as well when they purchase, just as like a little bonus feature. I think that’s the difference between those two other options.
Kira: It sounds like you have an intimate understanding of this creative online space that we’re all playing in that probably a lot of attorneys don’t understand, and that sounds like that’s the difference in working with your templates, and even working with you, is that you get this space. You get the needs of copywriters, and resources like LegalZoom might not. Maybe they just haven’t targeted us as well yet.
Christina: Yeah. I think it’s just really difficult when you’re that kind of company. I know they’re privately held. I feel like it’s difficult for them to go to not their board of directors, but whatever would serve as something similar, and they’re the ones who are guiding the ship, whereas with me, I’m a lot more nimble. It’s just me and then my team. If I want to pour more effort and heart into one of our products, like our copywriter template is one of our bestsellers, I can do that. I can go and I can interview.
I’m really on the front lines with the copywriters as they’re booking their clients. I’m following them on Instagram. I’m seeing their successes, their failures, what they’re excited about, the kinds of rants they go on about their clients. Those are all things that are informing what I’m doing, so I don’t see it as impossible for a big company like that. Honestly, I think it’s just something they’ve never thought about. You’re welcome for the idea, LegalZoom.
Kira: Right, LegalZoom, listen up. We’ll dig into these templates, too, and the contracts that we need as copywriters that are most important, but I’m really curious to hear more about the first few years in your business, because it sounds like you started three years ago, or maybe even less than that, and it also sounds like you’ve taken off quickly and have a team. I’d like to hear about how you really grew fast. What do you think was the one thing you did really well to grow, if you can narrow it down to just one thing?
Christina: Yeah. I don’t think your listeners are going to like this answer, but I’m just going to be really honest. I invest almost everything that I make back into my business as soon as I can, and then some. I have not been afraid to take on debt. I haven’t been afraid to take risks. It’s, I understand, not a lot of fiscal … The personal finance bloggers would be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is horrible.’ But that’s really the key to growing fast, is just pouring everything that you make back into your business.
Christina: I love Mike Michalowicz and his Profit First model, and that’s definitely something that I want to do, but I very, very intentionally and strategically not followed a model like that, and that will shift next year. But I’ve wanted to grow fast, and I’ve wanted to pour everything that I could into this business to grow it really quickly. That’s, honestly, the secret behind it, is spend … I’ve spent a lot of money on copywriters. It’s all money well spent.
Kira: Of course.
Christina: I’ve worked with some amazing people, like Leona Patch at Punchline, and Chante Zakariasen, Ashlyn Carter. It’s been great to work with these people. They definitely have moved the needle forward, particularly in instances where I am just dragging, and I just cannot bring myself up out of some funks. I mean, you guys know. You just get in funks with your business sometimes. It’s just so amazing to have a community like the one you’ve cultivated to lean on and just reach out to somebody and be like, ‘Guys, I need someone to take this off my plate,’ and there’s someone there.
Kira: Digging into that specifically, for a copywriter that’s listening and is like, ‘Okay, then I am willing to invest in my business, because I do want to grow fast,’ what would you say some of those key investments should be for copywriters? Because you know us well. We don’t really have to invest in other copywriters, necessarily. But what were some of the other key investments you made early on?
Christina: I mentioned copywriters because I actually am a really good copywriter myself. I don’t offer services or anything. But just having somebody to come up with the framework, and then I can add my personal stories and voice, is probably the most life-giving thing that is happening in my business right now. Well, other than having organizational team members. I have two people on my team that … One is a pure project manager. All she does is make sure that things get done.
If we need to hire someone to coordinate tasks or to fulfill tasks, she’s the one who’s finding those people, getting my approval, and we’re hiring them, and she’s managing them. That’s huge. She’s also looking at our P&L every month, and making sure that we’re hitting our target numbers. Her name is actually Yasmin Geshafin. I shouldn’t give away all my names, because they’re all going to hire everyone…
Kira: No, give them to us, please.
Christina: Then the other gal, actually, she started as a copywriter for me, and now she just manages all of our content. I get a lot of asks to do speaking engagements, or guest blog posts, or add bonus presentations to people’s courses, things like that, and so she’s managing all that, in addition to our blog, and then any other guest posts or content that’s coming out. I think having those three pillars has been really foundational in just giving me time and life and creative energy back.
Then I think the other people that I have on my team that are … I’m not trying to diminish anyone’s role. I think everybody is so important, and I would just cry if anybody left, but just having people to fulfill any kind of role or task that you don’t need to be doing, it sounds so cliché but it’s true, like graphics. You know, I was spending hours on graphic design before I hired a graphic designer, and it was like, ‘Why?’ I’m not even that good at it.
Just getting those things off your plate and really giving somebody else the opportunity to make money and support their family, those are the things that I think are really important to keep this creative economy going and give you life back so that you can focus on what you are good at.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. It’s funny, because we work with so many other creative people, it’s interesting to see people who are struggling to make it in their businesses, but they’re not willing to pay for the same kinds of services that they’re hoping that clients will pay for working with them. It’s almost game-changing when you’re willing to invest in your business that way.
Christina: Yes. Starting small, I think, is a huge component. When I first started, I tried to outsource everything all at once to one person, and that was the biggest mistake ever. I think one of the first things I … After that period, one of the first things when I got strategic about outsourcing was the graphic design, because I was just … Literally, I looked at my calendar. I did a time tracker exercise. I was spending upwards of eight hours a day designing freebies and blog graphics and everything like that, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I could pay someone 30 bucks an hour and they would be thrilled to have some work and a client on their plate, and I wouldn’t have to do this anymore.’ That was really a game-changer.
Rob: Yeah. Let’s talk about contracts. At The Contract Shop, you guys have lots of contracts. I’m guessing that we don’t need all of them, but as copywriters, what’s the baseline? What kinds of contracts do we need to really run an effective business?
Christina: Well, obviously, you need our copywriting contract template, which you guys should go to their show notes to get the link for, because they’re maybe going to be an affiliate, so definitely support our affiliates like that. But yeah, I think it’s just important for anybody, whether you come to our site or not, to have a couple key component legal documents, really, in place when you’re working with people.
One thing I didn’t share, bad copywriter move on my part, but I didn’t share actually the inspiration for what started The Contract Shop, and it started when I was doing this private yoga thing, and trying to find my way and whatever, but I got two clients that were interested, so I did all the hard work. I put myself out there. I networked. I’m kind of a naturally introverted person, and so it was really difficult for me to do this. I was really proud of myself. I got out there. I got the clients.
But then it came time to send them a contract, and literally two clients willing to pay me thousands of dollars each for private yoga sessions in their home, and I could not send them a contract. It took me two weeks to get something back to them. By the time they got it from me, because I wanted it to be perfect … I was doing it in Photoshop, and editing a Word document in Photoshop is just a nightmare. I wanted it to be beautiful. I wanted the content, obviously, to be perfect, because I was an attorney, and they were just looking at me incredulously, like, ‘What do you mean? You still … Wait, what? You fell off the radar. We don’t want to work with you. You’re flaky.’
That really was the inspiration for me, because I don’t want anyone to ever have that experience. If you’re new, and you’re starting out, and you have people … When you’re first starting, it just feels like you’re shouting into the void, and so when it finally catches and you finally have people that are interested in what it is that you’re offering, that can be really exciting, but then there’s also kind of that like, ‘Oh, crap,’ moment where you have to realize, ‘What am I going to send to this person? What happens now?’ There’s no official published guideline or course or degree in onboarding clients.
To have a resource available for people where they can download a contract and in 10 minutes or less they’re on their way and working with clients, that was something that I wanted during that time period in my life when I just could not get my ish together.
But the key documents I think everybody needs to have, again, whether you get them from me or not, I don’t care, I just think you need to have a client contract, which is obviously the contract that you send to your potential clients and that they sign, and that is really a list of expectations on both sides of the line, what you expect from the client and then what the client can expect from you, when those things are going to be delivered, how it’s going to happen. That’s the first thing, is your client contract.The second thing is any kind of terms and conditions for your website, or if you’re selling any kind of online course or digital offering, like we sell templates, so maybe you sell some kind of email sequence template, or sales page template or something like that. So, if you have anything for sale like that or if you just have a website, maybe you’re not even offering something for sale, it’s really important, in my opinion, to have a terms and conditions page on your site.
I like to just link this as the contractshop.com/legal, so I can throw it up on any kind of lead pages or ClickFunnel pages or off site pages. I just know the URL. The terms and conditions helps to tell your audience what they can and cannot do with your website, on your website, and with the content that’s featured there.
So, it’s really helpful for people to know, are they allowed to repost blog content with credit to you? Are they allowed to share quotes that you’ve offered on your own website? Are they allowed to use your website as an example in like a blog round-up article?
This is really where you get to be king or queen of your castle and make up the rules and let people know what those rules are through your terms and conditions.
Kira: Okay. Cool. Hey, we’re just jumping into the show today to tell you a little bit more about The Copywriter Underground. Rob, what do you like best about this membership?
Rob: So, this membership community is full of copywriters that are investing in their businesses and taking what they do seriously.
Rob: Everything is focused around three ideas. Copywriting and getting better at the craft that we all do. Marketing and getting in front of the right customers so that you can charge more and earn more and also mindsets, so that you can get out of your head and focus on the things that will help you be successful at what we do.
Rob: There’s a private Facebook group for the members of the community and we also send out a monthly newsletter that’s full of advice, again, on those three areas: copywriting, marketing, and mindset. Things that you can mark up and tear out, put them in your file, save them for whatever and it’s not going to get lost in your email inbox. Kira, what do you like about The Copywriter Underground?
Kira: So, I love the monthly hot seat calls where our members have a chance to sit in the hot seat and ask a big question or get ideas or talk through a challenge in their business because we all learn from those situations.
Kira: Then, I also feel like the templates we include in the membership are valuable because who wants to reinvent the wheel and Rob and I end up sharing a lot of the templates and resources we use in our businesses. So, I would definitely want to grab those.
Rob: So, if you were interested in joining a community of copywriters that are investing in their business and in themselves and trying to do more, get more clients, earn more money consistently, go to thecopywriterunderground.com to learn more. Now, back to the program.
Kira: And, if you are listening and you do not have your client contract or maybe any of those in place, it’s okay, don’t freak out. We’re going to work on that today, but I didn’t have a client contract in place for a long time. I was taking work. Luckily, I had no major issues. I’ve heard horror stories, but what really was the catalyst for me to get my act together was just that charging more. Like I wanted to charge more. I wanted to have these big packages.
I wanted to charge $10K for this launch package and I just got to the point where I realized, ‘If you don’t even have a contract and you’re quoting these high amounts with clients, like there’s so many question marks and so many doubts your client may have if you’re not sending over a contract, which they assume you will send over.’
If you don’t feel that urgency to line up the client contract, at least feel the urgency around this could hold you back from raising your rates and feeling really confident when you raise your rates.
So, I’d love to hear from you just the benefits of having a client contract because I know there are many. For me, it was confidence, peace of mind, but I’d love to hear from you just why should we have this other than the legal ramifications.
Christina: Yeah, well, the legal ramifications, those are huge, right? Like, I always use the example of a girl who called me and she didn’t have a contract. This was like a hobby business. She was a photographer, but, I mean, this applies to any service-based business.
With copywriters, I think it would happen with IP and not what I’m about to tell you, but anyway. So, this gal was a wedding photographer and she went to go photograph her bride. It was like her second or third wedding ever as a lead shooter.
It was in a hotel and the family had hung the dress from a sprinkler in the ceiling. So, she took the dress down. She went outside to put it in natural light. Yeah, you know where this is going and took some beautiful photos of the dress. She hung the dress up where the family had hung it and lo-and-behold, the sprinkler system went off and when sprinklers go off in hotels, it isn’t just water. It’s like this black gunk.
So, the dress is now covered in black gunk and then the sprinklers don’t just stop. So, about $400,000 worth of damage to the hotel and three soaked layers or floors of the hotel later, she and the family were just kind of like sitting there with their hands under their butts thinking, ‘Who’s responsible for this?’ So, a contract could have prevented that by putting the liability onto the family for instances like that.
That’s where it can really help you, obviously. Business insurance would have been helpful there too, but those kinds of things can really help you.
So, if you’re a copywriter for someone and you’re writing something and you accidentally or you intentionally, which happens more than you would think, use someone else’s content or structure or something like that, and the client gets alleged of basically being a copyright infringer. Who’s going to be responsible for that?
So, the contract can help alleviate stuff like that, but more importantly, like you said, Kira, I think it’s so important to have a contract because it does display that you’re a professional. It displays that you have systems in place, which is a great indicator to your clients that their work is going to be done on time and well.
It’s also an indication that they can trust you and my favorite thing, because I’m such a list maker, is I love the list making aspect of having a contract. Because there’s a list on both sides of what you expect from them and what they are obligated to do for you as well.
There’s no doubt as to, at least in my templates, I can’t speak for anybody else, but in my templates, I really emphasize putting in exact numbers and not just like percentages or 30 days from the date of booking. So, it has prompts for you to put actual numbers into these places and I show you how to do that because I think it’s really important to be as specific as possible so that there is no ambiguity.
Like, you know exactly what money is coming in on what day and how you’re getting paid and the client knows exactly when they need to pay you, how they need to do that, what they’re going to be getting, when they can expect roughly, their first drafts, second drafts. Like, how many revisions are allowed, what is and isn’t allowed, when you can be contacted, what your office hours are.
And, it just really is this nice foundation for setting up boundaries with your client, which are critical for any of you out there who have already found out what boundaries are and you don’t have any.
If you having a problem with clients that are unhappy with your work or clients that are just too demanding or that just want one more thing, then a contract can really help to clarify those things and serve as a scapegoat so that you can always point back to the contract and you’re not the bad guy, the contract is really the bad guy.
Because you’re like, ‘Well, you signed this thing and we said you had two revisions and you’ve now had five, so we’re going to have to start charging you for these extra revisions.’ It’s a lot easier to do that and then the person’s like, ‘Oh, dang, I did sign that.’
Then, it is to say, ‘Hey, you know, we usually only do two revisions. We’ve already given you five, so we’re going to have to start charging you.’ Then, the person’s all angry because they’re like, ‘Well, you haven’t charged me yet. Why are you going to charge me now?’
So, I think it’s a lot easier to point back to something that’s written down and what I would call permanent rather than something that is just kind of like how you two have been operating so far.
Rob: So, let’s talk a little bit about privacy. We mentioned it in the intro and you mentioned GDPR. I’ve got a lot of questions around this. A lot of them hinge around as American businesses or as businesses outside of the EU, what are the responsibilities as far as GDPR goes versus those in the EU. What are the risks?
Obviously, this is important and it’s probably something that’s going to become even more important as other governments do something similar, but could you just kind of walk us through that and help us navigate this kind of weirdness that’s going on right now?
Christina: Yeah, for sure. So, I’ve been watching this really closely obviously and what’s really been interesting is that the solo entrepreneurs and the small business owners have paid way more attention to this than the Googles and the Facebooks and the-
Rob: That’s really interesting.
Christina: … The hotel chains and the financial institutions and, so the one that I’m saying should be paying more attention or that I thought would be paying more attention to it, those are the ones who this regulation was really crafted for.
It wasn’t crafted to come after the small business marketer, who is already drowning with a to do list and is already having a problem getting seen by more people. Right? I mean, you guys, we all know, like that’s our struggle every day is how do we get in front of more people?
So, just to like ease people’s fears, I hope that helps a little bit, because it wasn’t crafted specifically to come after us that are listening to this podcast.
It was crafted to make sure that the Wells Fargos and the Marriotts and the hospitals, the Kaiser Permanentes and the Facebooks and Googles and those kinds of institutions where really sensitive, very specific, health or financial information is housed, that they’re taking care of your information.
So obviously, it still does apply. I’m not saying that it’s not applicable if you meet certain qualifications. So, a couple of those qualifications are whether or not your audience is in the EU and you know about that. So, for example, if you have like three people that come to your website a year from EU, it’s very likely that this GDPR stuff does not apply to you.
If you have one purchase on your shop or of your courses every year, then it’s very likely that this does not apply to you. If you have never advertised in any kind of Euro or any kind of like EU currency, so the British pound or the Euro, it’s very likely that, or, in their respective languages.
So, if you’ve never intentionally made a Facebook ad in German or in Spanish or Greek or anything like that, so if you haven’t done those things that I’m just listing here, it’s very likely that this does not apply to you. So hopefully, that can be a sigh of relief for most people out there who are serving a primarily Australian, Canadian, or US based audience.
That being said, like you mentioned Rob, this is definitely the way that the internet is shifting. So, putting aside how I personally feel about this, because I have some very strong opinions about other countries or unions enforcing laws in foreign jurisdictions.
I think it sets a really dangerous precedent, but putting my opinion aside, I think it definitely is the way that things are moving, especially because privacy has been so neglected and I do think that big companies … Even though I might like the GDPR personally for my business and for my clients, I do understand why people are upset and why this regulation is coming into place.
It’s because the big companies of the world that have neglected to update their servers or who have neglected to invest in SSL encryption on their sites or have failed to basically secure their customers or their patients’ assets, they’re really the ones that have prompted, I guess you could call it, need for this regulation and that’s the reason why it’s come about and the reason why we’re just going to get deeper-and-deeper into this kind of stuff. It’s not going to go away.
So even though I listed the factors where it may or may not apply to you, even if it doesn’t apply to you today, it may in the future as the US or more likely Canada or Australia, but I think Canada’s going to adopt the next wave of this first. When they do that, we will have to be cognizant of it.
If you’re already paying attention to this very, very strict new regulation that came into place, then you’re probably in a really good spot so whenever something comes out from the US or Canada or Australia, et cetera, you’re not going to be as concerned, because you’ve already taken care of that and really figured out how to deal with it and move on.
I’m really impressed, I have to say, I’m really impressed with a lot of email service providers. I’ve noticed Infusionsoft when I opt out of people’s emails, it gives me the option to like tell me what data like Infusionsoft has on me and then if I want that marketer to save or erase my data.
So obviously, these email providers are just coming out with it blanketed right now because it’s really difficult to tell where an email subscriber is accessing or is located on a regular basis, but I’m really impressed with the new software and features that are coming out that are adapting for the regulation and just making it easier for people to comply.
Kira: Cool. So, there is no GDPR police that’s going to show up at my front door, right?
Christina: Technically, no. So here, this is what would really happen. So look, I don’t want to undermine the fact that this is important and we should pay attention, but I also don’t want people to be like shaking in their boots scared because-
Kira: Right, because there’s a lot of fear about it and I feel like I have zero. I have no fear about it because I agree with you. I don’t think it’s targeted at small business owners that are trying to make a thousand dollars a month and have like very small lists, but I do want to be aware of it.
So, what is the bare minimum I should do as someone whose like, okay, cool, this is happening. I’m not worried about it, but I do need to make sure I’m doing these three things in my business, just to follow.
So, full disclosure, we have one. I’m not telling you, you have to download ours. There’s lots of great ones out there, but it definitely has to be tailored to the GDPR if the GDPR applies to you or if you’re just scared and you’re worried that you might have people visiting you from the EU as you become more visible, et cetera. So, I think that’s a great start.
The second thing to do is to make sure that people understand that they are entering into some kind of marketing or promotional communication. So, there’s a lot of attorneys out there on different podcasts and I won’t name names, but they think that they spread this information that’s technically true, but it’s like the most conservative version.
So, the way the law works, just FYI, break this down. There’s black and then there’s white, right? I love black-and-white answers, but unfortunately, the law operates in the middle, in the gray area. So whether something’s more black or something’s more white, we’re like what shade of gray it is. I hate that book on a side note.
Kira: Rob loves that book. It’s okay.
Christina: Oh my gosh! No, it’s horrible writing.
Rob: How did we start talking about Shades of Gray? That’s crazy.
Christina: I know. You never know what you’re going to get out of me.
Kira: It’s more exciting than GDPR though, right?
Christina: So, the GDPR is kind of in this gray zone, and so what a lot of attorneys are suggesting, and I’m a little less conservative, so a full disclosure if you’re like, ‘No, I have to do everything by the book and make sure everything is zipped up and buttoned and perfect.’ Then, maybe you don’t want to listen to this.
But, like the black version, like the absolute, ‘We know this is absolutely fine,’ is to get people to opt in for like a freebie or a content upgrade or your email list and then you send them one email that includes exactly what you told them you’re going to give them. Then, from there, you ask them if they would like to receive further marketing communications and actually sign up on your newsletter list.
So, that’s like technically the black answer, but like I said, the law operates in this gray area, so we’re not really sure what’s okay and what’s not because the GDPR has never been very clear about this.
In the, what is it? Like four months since it’s come out? There hasn’t been any extra guidance and so this really remains to be seen and determined. So, I think personally, I’ve just been adding like a checkbox to our marketing communications, so it’s like, name, email, checkbox. Like, you can send to receiving marketing communications from Ross, Berger … Right?
I see a lot of interesting stuff happening with like sponsored posts and we can talk about that in a second. So, what would happen is someone would have to report you and you’d probably have to get multiple reports in a very short amount of time. This is the same way that email complaints happen too, where the FCC would start to take notice of you. That’s how you would finally get onto to somebody’s radar to say that you’re not GDPR compliant. If you’re not getting these complaints, which I don’t even think most people know how to complain because it hasn’t been very well explained. It’s not something that I would be freaking out, staying up at night over.
Kira: No, this is great because we haven’t really covered GDPR on our podcast yet. We feel like we’re covering it adequately and there are other reasons to stay up and stress at night. Usually it’s about client projects.
Christina: Yeah. I’d be a little more concerned about the clients.
Kira: Let’s talk about FTC and what you mentioned, referenced that.
Christina: I don’t follow Kim Kardashian. Don’t shoot me everyone. I know she got in trouble with the FTC last year for failing to disclose things. I noticed shortly after, Instagram came out with a feature where you could add that a post was sponsored. Instead of a location, right underneath your username, it says sponsored by, and you put the sponsor in there. I see a lot of people that do like hashtag ad. We see this on Instagram. This is something to be mindful of that you need to follow adequate disclosures according to the FTC. If you are doing sponsored posts, you need to make sure that everybody knows that there’s an affiliate link where it’s a sponsored link. You’re being paid in some way. If it’s not a very obvious disclosure, then it’s not sufficient. It just needs to be obvious to the person who could be scrolling through your Instagram feed, or your blog.
More than anything, honestly you guys, I see this on sales pages all the time. Sales pages are scary to me, because they make all kinds of claims. They highlight the best examples. Then, they don’t have any kind of disclosure about the fact that these are not typical results. That’s where you can really get into trouble if somebody were to report you to the FTC. The last place I see this a lot, just FYI, is when people are sending emails. You have a newsletter and the address at the bottom is some random address that’s not yours. I know one blogger, she signed up. She exported all of her LinkedIn contacts and then imported them to her email list. If you’re doing stuff like that, those are not okay practices.
Yeah, I think especially for copywriters, you really need to be mindful of what is going on in your sales pages for your clients, and making sure that if you do have those outrageous. That’s awesome that clients got such great results, but if you do have those more, I don’t want to call they hyperbolic. That’s not the right word, but those really awesome testimonials, that are like I went from zero to $100,000 in 30 days because of Kira and Rob’s program, if there’s something like that on a sales page, it also needs to be accompanied by some kind of disclosure. Not a disclaimer, but a disclosure that these are not typical results.
Yes, this person worked really hard. You were part of their journey, but there were other factors going on between making zero to $100,000 in 30 days. While your program may have been a great contributor and lead the way and given them the framework, they still had to do some kind of work. Just disclosing that it wasn’t just like they bought the program and then manically they had this result, is really important.
Rob: Yeah, let me ask about some specific wording there, because like you said, we don’t see a lot of it in a lot of the sales stuff that we do. Do you need to use the words, results not typical? Is it sufficient to say, this is an atypical case. This is only one of our students had this kind of result. How much massaging of those kinds of terms? For writing a sales letter, and you say results not typical, that’s almost like saying, this was a unicorn and you’re not going to get that result. That’s also not the message that we want to send in a sales page.
Christina: Right exactly. This is where lawyers totally suck. I get it. I mean, I’m an onliner too.
Kira: You’re killing the party here.
Christina: Yeah, I have to do that. This is why I get it. I’m in there. I’m doing launches. I’m writing copy. We have sales pages. The interesting thing is, I don’t know if you guys know about Frank Kern. I think he started as a copy writer. He did an experiment, and he’s been testing this for the last five years. He said that having a disclosure on a sales page hasn’t affected his conversion rates.
Christina: Yeah, I thought that was interesting. I don’t know how true or not it is. He didn’t really go into detail or like state empirical facts, which I really love. I’m a nerd like that. That’s what he said. Take it at face value. I think a great way to do this without killing your sales is to have it on the page. It doesn’t need to be after every example. It just has to be somewhere obvious and available for the public. You could have your great testimonials and then in the section underneath that, there’s some kind of disclosure that says these results are not typical. Here’s what you can actually expect.
I mean, there’s definitely ways, like you said Rob, to massage this and bring people back into the fold and let them know that yes, these are exceptional case studies. We would love to feature you here too. There are certain things that they did that the program inspired them to do, that they did on their own. You’re just basically telling people that this is going to take work, which is already probably in your refund policy anyway. 14-day refund but only if you show me your work and blah, blah, blah.
It’s kind of a spin. I like to think of it as a spin on that, if you have something like that in your refund policies already, where you’re telling people this is what they can expect. This is exactly what your goal for them, to get out of the program is. The case studies and the testimonials on this page are people that had really good results and that’s why you decided to feature them. Then, this isn’t the typical person that’s coming out of your program.
If you do it well, it can help to build trust with the purchaser. They’re like, oh okay. This person is being upfront and honest. I’m just an incredibly irreverent, I don’t know what you would call it. I try to invite a lot of humor and irreverence into my sales pages. I’ll have something like, disclosure. By the way, these totally suck, but I have to tell you that, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can do things like that. It doesn’t have to be like a textbook disclosure that you download from somewhere or you take from somebody else and adapt to be your own without changing much. It’s really boring and kind of dry.
Rob: Okay so just one more quick clarification on that. You’re saying that putting that kind of disclosure on a terms and conditions page is not sufficient or putting it somewhere else, on the guarantee page, is not sufficient. It needs to be on the actual page that makes the claims to make the FTC happy.
Kira: I will add that I think that adds. It helps with trust anyways. I’m just thinking through why this worked for Frank Kern too. I think it’s just when you see that, I would be more likely to trust that person behind the sales page, than if they don’t include that. Maybe you just don’t think about it if you don’t see it. As soon as you see it, you know that they’re following some type of rules. They respect the testimonials enough to be really transparent about it. I see how that could actually hep with conversions.
Christina: Yeah, and I think Amy Porterfield. I’ve seen some of her sales pages. I think she does this pretty well, which isn’t surprising. Yeah, I think there’s just definitely tactful ways to do this that like it’s part of your sales page. I think that’s where people get freaked out about legal stuff. They’re like, oh this has to be super serious and buttoned up. Then, it reads as this weird alien on your sales page, versus the awesome other text that’s there and copy. This is like, it doesn’t fit. Of course, it stands out like a sore thumb. People are really into it. They’re reading the sales page. They’re going through. They’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah. They get to this horrible legal paragraph that’s super formal and stuffy. They’re like uh. Of course, that would turn people off. As for anything else, I don’t think so. No, if you can be creative about it.
Kira: I know there are other changes you need to make in order to speak to the guidelines too. Even, changing the verbiage to saying hey you can do this with my product to saying you could do this with my product. This is possible. I’m not guaranteeing that you can do this. Some changes that I’ve made over the last few years. Do you have any type of sales page template that addresses some of these FTC guidelines and mentions all these terms that we need, the disclosures, and even the language that we should be aware of when writing a sales page?
Christina: I don’t right now, but that’s actually something that within the past week and this conversation has cemented it. I’m going to throw it in with our copywriter contract template and then we’ll sell it separately too for a lower price point if somebody already has a contract they like. Yeah, you can expect that to be up on our shop in probably the next month or so, probably before this podcast comes out.
Kira: I know we need to wrap soon, but I do want to ask you about, this is a selfish question for me. What do you recommend around subcontractor contracts? A lot of our copywriters are growing or working with subcontractors, and I know I haven’t set anything in place that with my contractors, on projects, other copywriters that I hire. What do you recommend just to help, even keep those relationships and those projects smooth and everything good, and everybody happy along the way? What would you suggest?
Christina: Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing here that stands out is the copyright aspect. One of the things that I think a lot of the people forget is that when you’re hiring people, it’s not automatically considered a work for hire. It needs to actually state that in order for the work to become yours, and or there needs to be some kind of copyright assignment in the contract template so it says explicitly. Sorry, I keep saying contract template, but in your contract with your contractors. It would say something explicitly about how any and all works created by the subcontractor for the company, which is presumably you or me or whoever is hiring the subcontractor, any of those works that are created in the course of your engagement with them are expressly assigned to your company. That’s the biggest thing that stands out, just to make sure that you have, not like you Kira but just you guys listening that any of you that are hiring subcontractors out, have all the rights and access to the materials that are created for you, on behalf of the clients you’re serving, even if you aren’t creating those yourself.
For example, any kind of checklist or standard operating procedures or the actual work product and deliverables themselves. Those are all really, really important in my opinion, to get not just the access to, which it sounds like you have now, but also the full rights to use and then to have that. That way you can either transfer it to the client, if that’s what the client’s chosen and paid for, or you can keep it yourself. I don’t know what you would do as a copywriter. I guess you could reuse it as a template and just take out their pertinent details if they decide not to buy the copyright. Copyright is a whole other conversation. I hope I’m not confusing anyone.
Rob: Yeah. Obviously there’s all kinds of things we can ask about trademarks, copyright, that kind of thing. I think we’re running out of time. I’m going to shift, totally change the subject here, and ask you about abstract art. I think you’re a fan. Tell me what it is about abstract art that you like and what does that do for you personally?
Christina: Oh my gosh. Britt Bass can take all my money. I love that girl. She is one of my favorites. You can buy one of the paintings I bought from her is on a May design notebook now. You can buy that. It’s called the Basslet. I don’t know. I used to think that art had to be like really formal, and like show something. I would never buy it unless it was a horse or an eagle or a hawk. It had to be something. I can’t remember where I was. I may have been in her shop in Roswell, Georgia. I was just like, I’m going to buy this. I did. It was the best purchase, just for me selfishly that I’ve ever made. I was so happy I did it. Ever since then, I’ve really tried to incorporate a lot of abstract art into any kind of branding that I’ve done. The Contract Shop, we just switched our site. We’re slowly adding elements back in. It has a lot of swatches. I want people to feel like I’m throwing watercolor at them, and paint. I love that like messy, but it all comes together feel, like Anthropology is great at cultivating that, rather than something that’s more clean and prim and proper, like Joanna Gaines who I also love, but I’m like more of a rough around the edges kind of design person.
Kira: I feel like I’ll know I made it in life when I can just buy art freely in galleries and just shop for art on the weekends. Yeah, I made it. Life is good.
Rob: Velvet paining of Elvis hanging over my couch doesn’t count?
Kira: No Rob. You haven’t made it yet, sorry.
Rob: But it glows in the dark.
Kira: Alright, so can we hire you or work with you individually or is it purely templates? What is available to us if people are in love with you and just want to work with you and get everything straight in their business?
Christina: Yeah, we didn’t even talk about. I have two different businesses. I have The Contract Shop, which obviously sells the templates. Then I have a law firm called Scalera IP Law. If you want to work with me you can email me at email@example.com and we can get you connected to one of my attorneys. We’re actually a firm. It’s not just me anymore. Yeah, if they want to work with me, they can go there. They can go to scaleralaw.com or I think the best place honestly to find me is thecontractshop.com. If you can just remember that and I get inquiries all the time for legal services there anyway. If you can just remember that, I think that’s probably the easiest place to access.
My goal is to make it so easy for people that are on The Contract Shop to find the answer to their question, via our blog. We have been blogging twice a week for the last two and a half years. We have a lot of great content and free articles. Through one of our lesser end products, or even through a template, which I always say, I hate doing custom contract templates because obviously I can do it, but it’s like reinventing the wheel every time. Then, it only gets put through the ringer with one person versus 200 people who have bought our copywriter contract template and 50 of them have given us feedback and told me what needs to be fixed and updated and changed. This language could be better, and blah, blah, blah.
I love the templates and I actually just switched from a custom website, a custom Shopify site to a template for this exact reason, because it’s basically like crowdsource development. It’s unbeatable. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of resources out there that I try to provide, and then I always tell people. If I’m not a good fit for you, because I’m more expensive now than I used to be, here’s all these other attorneys that might be a better fit for you. Yeah. Don’t be shy. I love talking to people, connecting with new people and if you’re a good copywriter, please reach out to me and tell me that you want to work with me, because I am always looking for somebody, I feel like these days.
Kira: This has been great and I do feel like we should bring you back, six months or whenever and just even talk about the business growth that you’ve had. I love the way that you’ve built your authority. I think we can really dig into that too. There’s a lot to cover. This has been really helpful. I’ve learned a lot. There’s a lot I need to work on in my business. Thank you for that. Yeah, we really appreciate your time.
Rob: Yeah, thanks so much Christina.
Christina: Thank you guys. I’m so grateful that you brought me on.
Rob: You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music of the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive, available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.
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