Chris Orzechowski is back on the show for the 259th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. Chris has shifted his business into an agency and he’s become known as an expert E-Commerce Email Strategist. Chris breaks down what it looks like to run an agency without diluting the client experience. If an agency business model has been on your mind, tune into this episode.
Here’s how it all goes down:
- How Chris launched an agency at the beginning of a pandemic.
- The ins and outs of running an agency and who should run an agency.
- Why building an agency can come with a lot of relearning.
- The different types of agencies and which could be right for you.
- Solving agency problems. Is there a difference?
- Assessing the goals and milestones when running an agency.
- Do you have to dilute your work or client experience in an agency model?
- What does profit look like inside an agency?
- The different types of lead generation. What will work for you?
- How to hire and manage a team.
- Finding your strengths and weaknesses and executing an action plan.
- The 4 tools you need to start running a business today.
- The importance of SOPs and how it will create clear processes in your business.
- What does it take to write a book? Is it as difficult as you may think?
- How to get the upper hand in blogs and speaking gigs.
- The power of shifting your business when something isn’t working.
- Building authority and becoming known as the expert. How does it actually happen?
- How to make big vision goals less overwhelming and actionable.
- How to look at the big picture when you start to spiral into the unknown.
- Copywriters and email lists: Do you need one?
- The strategy you need to implement for email marketing.
- Are lead magnets still relevant?
- Advice for anyone who feels comparisonitis. – Hint: Patience is essential.
Even if an agency isn’t on your radar, this episode will give you actionable tips on how to run and grow your business. Hit the play button or read the transcript below.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Kira’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kira: Long time listeners will know this about us already, but occasionally we like to bring back quests who we’ve interviewed before to see what’s been going on in their businesses since the last time we chatted. Often business moves in ways they didn’t predict when we spoke a couple of years ago. And we’re doing it again this week. Chris Orzechowski is our guest for this episode of the Copywriter Club podcast, and as you’ll see Chris has a very different business than the one he talked about when we interviewed him before.
Rob: But before we jump into this interview, this podcast is sponsored by the Copywriter Think Tank, that’s our mastermind for copywriters and other marketers who want to think outside the box. Wow, we’re using a cliché to talk about thinking outside the box, that’s so inside the box. But, if you want to build new offers and revenue streams in your business, then the Copywriter Think Tank is the kind of place that might just be for you. So Kira, you asked me this last week, I’m going to ask you, why do you think the think tank helps copywriters experience real results?
Kira: Yeah. What comes to my mind first is that we help copywriters go from feeling like a business owner and acting like a business owner and thinking like a business owner to feeling, thinking, acting like an entrepreneur. And we’ve talked about this frequently with our accelerator program where you can shift from a freelancer mindset to a business owner mindset. But once we’re in the think tank, and we’re working very closely with the copywriters in that room and they’re surrounded by 25 other copywriters who are ambitious and building businesses and restructuring models and figuring out how to do it in a way that works for them, that’s where that shift from business owner to entrepreneur really takes place. And we’ve seen it with the think tankers that have been in there and how they’ve grown even since they’ve left the think tank. So that’s the big shift for me that I’ve noticed, from the people that show up in the think tank.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. If you want to be a great copywriter you study great copy writing. You surround yourself with good copywriters. But if you want to be a great business owner of a copywriting business, then you need to more than just copywriting. You need to study business principles. You need to be surrounded by people who are doing, not just interesting things, but successful things, big things, in their businesses. And that’s why something like the think tank helps so much. So I’ve you’re listening to us, talk about that. And if the Copywriter Think Tank sounds like something you’d at least like to know a little bit more about visit copywriterthinktank.com, fill out that form and we can just have a short call to talk about whether it’s right for you.
Kira: Okay. Let’s hear from Chris about what’s been going on in his business since we last talked to him about two years ago. I believe it was episode 112 of the podcast. A lot has changed for him.
Chris: I went from being a freelancer to having a simple team. And info products, a newsletter, all this just crazy stuff. A lot of growth. What happened was I was getting to the point as a freelancer where I’d done a lot of big multimillion dollar launches and worked for people like Jeff Walker and Tom Asraf, and I just started feeling like I just was doing the same thing over and over again. All these big launch projects, these webinars and everything, and it was fun. It was cool. But after a while I was just like, “I want another challenge. I want another mountain to climb.” I didn’t really know what I wanted that to be, but I just knew I wanted to see what else was out there.
So, I started obviously working on my own side of the business. Building my own list and creating products and those kind of things, which was cool. And it’s really exciting the first time you have an email list. I remember I did an affiliate promotion for Abbey Woodcock’s, one of her programs a couple years ago. My list was 273 people and I made 1,700 bucks. And I was like, “Holy crap, this is awesome. I can do this every week.” It was so cool. So I just knew that that was going to be the next step for me instead of just continuing to … Because there’s a few different paths that you can go. You can go super deep and become the high end freelancer and continue to raise your fees and the level of clients you work with. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for me I was like, “I want to see what else is out there.” Because I get bored. I want to hop around. I want to get my hands in different things.
So, I started doing that. I also started getting more leverage and removing myself from writing as much copy one on one for clients. I said, “You know what, I have this idea where I want to do an agency.” And I’m a big fan of mad men, so maybe that’s just reprogrammed my brain a little bit after watching it eight times. But, I was like, “You know what, I think I can do it.” And I was like, “Why not?” I’m 32 right now. When I started this agency, when I had the agency idea I was 29, 30. I was like, “What am I going to do for the next three decades? What am I going to do?” I don’t know, there’s nothing wrong with just continuing to do the same thing and becoming a master of the craft, but I was like, “I just want to see what else is out there.”
So, I said, I’m going to start an agency, and so I didn’t know when. But then COVID happened. And my son was born March 31 last year and it was crazy because we didn’t know if I’d be allowed in the hospital. I mean, I knew I was going to be there even if I had to elbow past the guard. It’s like, “I’m going to be in that room.” But there was a lot of uncertainty and my wife had to labor in a mask. There was this whole big … we didn’t know what was going on. It was very early on in the process. Everyone probably remembers what that was like.
And I remember I came home, I had this paternity leave plan. I was going to take two or three weeks off and do nothing. And with everything that was going on with the economy and the market tanked and all this stuff. I was like, “We’re taking zero days off.” I launched my agency the day I got home from the hospital. We put my son down for a nap and I got on the computer I said, “All right, let’s get some writers. We’ve got a few clients signed up. Let’s get it going.” And ever since then, just been pedal to the metal.
Rob: So, I’m really curious about that process because I know there are a lot of our listeners that even if maybe an agency isn’t right for them now, they’re kind of thinking, “Hey, maybe someday the agency thing would work for me.” Or they’re working with clients and they’ve got enough work that they occasionally bring in a junior writer to help out with various things. So they’re almost to that stage. Talk to me a little bit about, okay yeah, you launched the agency but there’s a lot that goes into that. Let’s talk about the first steps but clients, writers, other help and all that goes into running a virtual agency.
Chris: Man, it’s a lot. The main thing I can tell you is that you’ve got to know what you want out of it. You’ve got to know who you are, what you do, who you do it for. And what you want it to be. And those, it’s taken me 18 months to figure that stuff out. So it’s not like you listen to the podcast and then 10 minutes later you have it figured out. It’s going to take a lot of just going out there, closing deals, working on projects.
And I remember I was telling Kevin Rogers, who I do coaching with, I was like, “Man, every week I just get punched in the face.” Like just punched in the face with reality. Every week of all the lessons I learned as a freelancer, I had to relearn as an agency, which is the most frustrating and humbling thing ever in terms of rules of engagement with clients, like red flags and other things. Even stupid things like get your money up front. And a couple of times I didn’t do that and then it’s just a lot of things where like, “Oh my God, I know this lesson. I’ve learned this lesson … I’ve touched the stove, I know it’s hot. Why do I have to touch it again and burn my hand again?”
But in terms of the way you start out is you just start out very small, and you only hire what you need. So for me I knew that out of all the things in the agency, there’s a lot of different ways to build it. There’re agencies, like you think about old school advertising guys, you have an Ogilvy or you have a Gossage. So the Ogilvy is like he might, if he wants to, he’ll write and he’ll, “Oh, Rolls-Royce is coming in, and I want to write an ad for them so that’s going to be my project.” That would be his little pet project, his account. But he builds the team of writers and he is the name and the face and brings in the clients and sends them on down the pipe.
And then there’s the Gossage type agency where Gossage is the draw and he builds the agency around, it’s a support system for him and all the work funnels to him and his creative team. And there’s obviously all different kinds in between, but there’s those different models. And that’s what I mean when I say figuring out where you want to be, what you want it to look like. And then in addition to that, there’s also, do you want this to be an agency that’s going to be five million, 10 million, 20 million, 50 million, $100 million a year. What’s the level that you want to hit? You have to know that starting out. And that was one of those things I didn’t know and now I’ve determined what I want mine to be, because you’ve got to know where you’re going, because that’s going to affect the type of projects you do, the type of deals you structure, the type of clients, the order in which you hire a team. Everything single thing is going to fall in line.
And Austin Brawner was the one who first told me, he runs Ecommerce Influence podcast and the coalition and he’s a big eCommerce guy. And I was talking to him and he’s like, “There’re three kinds of agencies, there’s like the well agency, which they just want to bunch of clients and they’re just going for size. And so the owners can have a sellout one day and they can exit, they can merge with another agency or whatever it is. And they want to have the big business. And then there’s the boutique agency, which they only have a handful of clients and they go really, really deep with them and maybe they do rev shares or maybe they just do high end work and high end deals. It’s really custom bespoke. And maybe they only have two or three clients and have the team just to service those accounts. They work with them for years on end.”
“Then there’s the productized type service agency, which is you do the same thing. You solve this problem, here’s the solution. Here’s how you do it. You have your steps.” And then there’re obvious hybrids within all those approaches. But it’s figuring out what’s in those few models that I just mentioned who you’re going to be because that’s going to affect everything else you do from sales to marketing to operations to HR and finance and everything else from there.
Rob: And so, I’m going to assume you landed on productized service agency or some combination of that, and maybe some boutiquishness, I don’t know. But what’s the financial goal?
Chris: The financial goal for me I want to clear six figures a year from the agency in profit and I don’t really care if we get much bigger than that. I’m not trying to build … there have been points in this journey where I’m like, “You know what, we can do these kinds of deals, we could do this pricing structure and this kind of billable structure with the clients at this level and build this up.” But what I’ve done with the agency is every week it’s been a different thing. It’s been between learning the hard lessons, getting punched in the face every single week, it’s also like maybe this month we will work with folks and try to bring in these lower priced deals. Sometimes it’s like, no, those folks in the $10,000 month retains where we do our bespoke style of plain text, storytelling, brand, voice, emails like that. So I’ve hopped around and that’s the thing. For this process ideally you have to give yourself a little permission to hop around and say, “I need to explore this nook and cranny to see if this is actually where I want to go.
For us, we’re definitely more one foot in the boutique, one foot in the productize service, and that’s why also I don’t … This agency as it is doesn’t have to be a $100 million agency. And I don’t want to really build it with that intention because the certain thing too is, depending on the kind of work that you do, to get to that level you have to dilute it. You have to either dilute the work, not in terms of making it crappy, but there’s so many agencies out there, and I started to learn this, to where there’re agencies out there that they’ll have 300 clients and they’re going to send an email each week for that client, but they’ll just take the same email and swap out the header image and swap out one paragraph of text, and they just clone it 300 times and then they charge their client’s $2,000 a month, and that’s why they can charge that low of a price because they’re deliverable cost for that client is $100 a month because they’re paying a writer that they hire a clockwork $10 an hour.
So, you know what I mean? That’s where they are but … And that’s fine. I mean, I don’t care what people do. Good for them. But for us and the kind of work we do, we go deep with the brands. We pull out their stories. We either help them develop their brand voice or match their brand voice, and I love that kind of stuff we do and I love how we build the personality base copy around it. And that’s something that I never want to sacrifice. So for me I’m perfectly okay with keeping it bespoke, boutique, somewhat productized in terms that we know the core services that we offer and we don’t deviate too far from that. We can always just stay in our zone genius there.
Rob: Yeah, I love that. And the focus that you bring to your agency makes a lot of sense. Somebody shows up and says, “Hey, I want help with a webinar”, you’re probably not the guy to do it. Even though you could, I’m sure write a great webinar, it’s not the focus. So what does a typical engagement look like for you? When the client comes in the door, what are we talking about as far as what that retainer looks like on a month to month basis? How much work gets done? What are you charging the client? Spill some of those details.
Chris: So, retainers are usually between five and 10K a month, which is definitely … I didn’t know this at first but I’ve started talking to other people in agencies and they’re like, “You’re kind of at the high end.” And I was like, “Well yeah, we do high end work so I certainly hope so.” But usually that’s anywhere from 10 to 20 emails a month. And for eCommerce plans that tends to be a pretty good mix. I mean, there’re some brands out there where we’ve had some smaller retainer clients in the past where it’s like they’ll do seven emails a month. We’ll do seven emails a month. We’ll do an email a week and it will be three or four flow emails for them. We build it out slowly. So those are usually smaller deals.
But for a lot of clients who sell consumables, who have a decent amount of product line, usually between 10 and 20 emails. You might have anywhere from 10 to 14 broadcasts, or campaigns they call them, a month. And then a couple of flow emails that we’re either going to create from scratch or optimize. And then there’s obviously weekly revenue reports, analytics, those kind of things that get thrown in this ball. But, usually those are the range for those offers.
I mean, we’ve also done one-off projects too. We’ve gone back and forth for some clients. We really, our sweet spot and where I want to take in the future is more of the one-off projects. And those range anywhere from 6,800 to 18K. So it just depends on the size and the scope and they’re all a little bit different.
Rob: And a typical one-off product, or project, sorry, you’re talking about setting up specific sequences that are going to last forever, right? It’s not just, hey, write a campaign for black Friday or maybe it is.
Chris: We’ve done a few launches for clients where it is they’re a five figure, low five figure project and it’s a big launch. But most of the time, yeah, it’s queue automations. And essentially for a lot of these clients, sometimes we will set up some emails for them, a couple flows and things and they’ll start making extra … They have a client who’s making an extra 12 grand a month from one flow that we built. So it’s like, “Okay, would you pay us five grand for that one flow that’s going to produce 12K a month for you for however many years you run your business, if it stays the current level and doesn’t grow at all?” So that’s why we like the flows because it’s a good ROI for clients. It’s easy for them to see the value, and it’s one of those things where every day that they don’t have in place they’re losing money.
So, it’s not the only thing we’ve done, but for us, we just feel that’s our sweet spot in delivering the best value for people and giving them that asset that’s going to produce for them, because that’s what they want to buy. They want to buy an asset. They want trade money for an asset. They’ll trade money for campaigns and the jobs to be done type thing, but they’d usually rather have that in-house, and I don’t blame them, because there’s a lot of fixes that happen on the fly and oh, we need to change this promotion real quick. That happens. It’s the nature of business. You know how it is. But for us the automation is just the lowest stress, the most fun and usually the most lucrative.
Rob: And then how are clients finding you? Again, agencies have different approaches to this, but often times especially the higher level agency where you’re charging those kinds of levels, it’s referral based. I’m curious if that’s how you’re finding your clients or if people find you through SEO or do you advertise your services? What does that look like?
Chris: We’ve done all that. And the thing is they all work. It’s definitely some SEO. One of our first clients came from paid advertising, from You Tube actually. We’ve had clients come from Facebook. I’ve done trainings in other groups and presentations, webinars and things, we have clients come from there. A lot of referrals. Sometimes we’ll have clients who own a holding company where they’ll have multiple brands and then they’ll want us to work across the brands. So one client will turn into five projects. And then obviously I have my, I don’t know what is it magnetic field? The email list and the articles and the social stuff, and the books on Amazon. The combination of all that stuff together you just tend to grow this magnetic field where you get more impressions in the matrix essentially. So I think that’s part of it. Although that’s a little more abstract for people to understand. But it’s like you do a lot of stuff, people start knowing who you are and then opportunities come your way.
Rob: Yeah. I want to come back to that because I think that’s something that I’ve watched you do over the last three or four years that is pretty amazing, so let’s come back to that. So before we leave the agency stuff, I’m also curious about your team. What size is it? How do you engage with them? Again, thinking of people who might be listening and are thinking, “Oh, I’d like to do an agency thing.” Obviously you don’t go out and hire five people, but at the same time you need people you can depend on. So how do you manage that spectrum?
Chris: Yeah. And it’s hard. The thing is I’ve learned a lot, and you really learn a lot about yourself too, because if you … You’ve probably read The E-Myth. There’s the technician, the manager and the entrepreneur-
Rob: Yeah, great book.
Chris: Oh, it’s life changing. So I now know after going through this process. I was like, “Yeah, you get people, you manage them tell them what to do.” I’m a terrible manager. I learned that very early on in the process. I was like, “Man” … Some of my writers were like … I was like, “Okay, here’s the project, here’s deliverables. Here’s the big ideas that I’m thinking for the campaign, blah, blah, blah.” And hashing it all out and they’re like, “Okay, cool. When do you want this copy, boss?” Like, “I don’t know, whenever you can get it.” And they’re like, “What do you mean. Give us a due date.” And I feel weird doing that. I was like, “We’ve got to get someone whose job it is to manage the process.
And so, our team is 10 people and it’s according to the EOS system … which I love EOS and I’m sure you probably … you have a million books behind you, I’m sure you probably read those too … it’s phenomenal and like this accountability chart. So what I started to realize was a lot of sit in multiple seats. And it’s just going to happen, because you have a small team and until you have the size where you could hire one person for one seat with their five roles and responsibilities, you’re going to have some overlaps. Like with Angie Colee who’s our copy chief, now she … You probably know Angie, she was-
Rob: Yep. Angie’s awesome. She’s been on the podcast and love her to death.
Chris: Oh, she’s phenomenal. Yeah. She was my copy chief when I was at Jeff Walker’s, so obviously I know … I mean, she taught me how to write essentially, so she was leaving Jeff’s so I was like, “Hey, do you want a gig? I got a part-time” … And everyone’s part time, that’s the thing too. I was like, “We’ve got a part-time situation over here. We’ve got a few clients. I just need someone who can foster the writer’s growth and have eyes on every campaign.” Because that was the thing, I was just starting to get more clients, all the emails were running through me.
And it’s this big game of you start to realize you’re the bottleneck in every single process. And so it’s just solving one bottleneck every single week. So that was a big bottleneck. And once we got Angie in there, she did a phenomenal job. So she’s half copy chief and creative director and half account manager. And she liaises with the clients and she is like a unicorn I that regard. I will never find another Angie. That’s one thing I can say about it. She just knows how to handle the clients, knows how to have the tough conversations and set expectations and frame things. So she did a phenomenal job there.
And then we have Matt who was actually probably my first official hire. Matt Spangler, you probably wouldn’t know him in the copywriting world, but he’s just like I could throw any tech problem and he’s like, “Got it. Let me figure it out. Let me find a work around.” And he’s just good. He just knows like, “Okay, we’ve got these two softwares, here’s how we make them talk to each other. Here’s how we make them work. Here’s the workaround we’ve got to do.” It is like his brain just works that way. He’s brilliant in that regard. So any tech problem like, “Here you go Matt.” He takes that.
We have Cindy who my start off with my EA, now she’s my integrator. So she’s project manager, EA, but just really that integrator role in EOS and helps me just manage all aspects of the business. And she is the Asana queen and she also worked in a big agency before, a while back. And then I have six writers, Eddie Brune, Nick Yates, John Holtz, Amanda Lutz, Carrie Carr, Robert Lucas. And everyone is basically if we have a retainer client they’re on a retainer.
If we have one-off projects, which are 70, 80% of our projects, they get paid by the project and it’s like it’s almost a little bit of the Hollywood model. Where like when you go to make a movie, if you don’t own a studio, but you want to make a movie you hire a film crew, you hire an editor, you hire the actors, you hire the script writer. And everyone comes together, they do the project. You ship the project and then you can either do another movie or everyone goes and works on another, or whatever the case is. It’s kind of fluid, and for a while I felt bad. I was like, “I should have full-time people.”
But I’m in this mode now where I’m like, everyone talks about the future of work and what it looks like. And really, if everyone can just do what they’ve got to do and get their work done and do an awesome job, I don’t need you 40 hours a week. I just need you for when I need you and as long as you do a good job, I don’t care if it took you 10 minutes or 10 hours. I’d hope it takes 10 minutes for your own sake, but it’s that kind of mentality. So we’re completely asynchronous. We’re completely digital. There’s no traveling. It’s just basically, we don’t even have weekly meetings. We actually just started doing weekly meetings again after 18 months. But we didn’t have any weekly meetings. We would just meet up.
We got a project. Who has availability? Who is interested? We got the writers on the project. We do the kickoff call with the team. We do a kick off call internally and then we’re off to the races. Everything goes in Asana, everything is tracked, due dates and everything. The click stuff gets done, goes to Angie. Gives edit feedback. Edit’s made, shipped to the client. Client edits, shipped back, approved. QA’d, tested, scheduled, done. Boom.
Rob: Awesome. And then last question while we’re talking about agency stuff. You mentioned Asana, are there other tools that you’re using to manage it or is it all happening through Asana?
Chris: Asana, Slack, Zoom, Loom. Just those four.
Rob: So yeah, so small team, a few tools and a great business.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing. It’s like what you realize with an agency is there’s too main functions. It’s like you find people who have a problem and devise a solution for that problem and then you hire the team to solve that problem. Those are the two arms of the agency essentially. I mostly sit in the finding the people who have the problem and then coming up with the solution to the problem. And then most of what I hired for is people helping me solve the problem. So like I can write an email. I’ve written, I don’t know, 10,000 of them. I’ve done successful campaigns.
But for me, I viewed what is the thing I’m best at and my zone genius and the thing that I can help … My whole thing is what energizes me is going out and hunting the wooly mammoth and dragging it back to camp. Well, once it’s back at camp, I don’t want to skin it, chop it up, cook it and serve it to the village. I don’t want to do that part. I just want to go out and hunt all day. So that’s the realm that I stay in and I just always tried to say, anything that is not in that zone genius, I give to someone who is energized and excited and good at and can probably think of better solutions than I can because they have the bandwidth and the focus and the interest and possibly even the prior experience to help me with that.
Rob: Yeah. I love it. It’s a great model. So let’s shift the conversation a little bit and talk about some of the products that you’ve built, because again, I think maybe you were coming out with the first product last time we talked. I can’t remember exactly where you were on that. But, you’ve got a couple of books. One that uses a bonus when your people join your newsletter. You’ve got your newsletter. I think you’re even doing some training stuff if I’m following your emails and seeing what you’re doing. Selling workshops, that kind of stuff. So talk about how that impacts your business and what you’re doing with all of those kinds of things.
Chris: Yeah. So there’s this whole idea of selling, you look at like the logging industry and they generate saw dust and then they sell the sawdust and they put it into those little logs that you could throw into your fireplace and they put it in Impossible Burgers and other cellular stuff. They just take this essential garbage and put it in all these different places, sell it. They packed it in different places. Not that, that’s what we’re doing with the products, but it’s kind of the positive side of that idea. If you’re doing work, you have these bi-products, you create these systems. You create these results. You create all of these just bi-products of everything that you’re doing. The work that you’re doing. And what we’ve really done a good job of is we do something and we try to turn it into a SOP, standard operating procedure.
It’s like, “Okay, we have a process for getting results with clients.” That’s what my print and newsletter is. It’s like every month I just share a different campaign we’ve done that’s worked really well. So I’m like, “Here’s the campaign, here’s how it works. Here’s the framework for it. Here’s how you go do it for yourself.” It’s just always that process. So all the products, my first launch, my Email Copy Academy course, I’ve been doing this stuff high level. I’ve had retainer clients, I’ve done big launches. I’ve done all these things. I’ve worked a 100 plus clients at that point. So it’s like, “Okay, well there’s clearly a process here. Let’s just put it into a package.” And part of the process lives in your head, so you have to pull it out of your head.
And this is where my advantage is. And some people create products and they just, they suck. And some pre they create products and they’re really, really good. Like you guys have done an awesome job with all of our stuff and that’s why you have such a big following and get people such good results. Because there’s some people who get teaching and the art of taking that information, packaging it and selling it. And other people who just throw some slop together. And for me it’s my background as a teacher, that was one thing, I didn’t enjoy teaching, but I knew how to break something down.
I taught special ed. So I had to really break stuff down into manageable, digestible bite size chunks that I can give to someone. I had to teach kids to write who could barely write their own first name when I taught elementary school. So it’s like, how do you break a one page essay down to something that’s simple enough to where a third grader can get that, and get that skill, especially if they’re reading on a first grade level. So I took some of that knowledge about how to teach and always like, okay, what is the point of what you’re doing? How does it work. Break it down into the checklist or frameworks and then show examples and then give people the exercise to do.
So, every single product that we make is just that. We just say, “Okay, what do people need help with?” And it’s always when you look at what the demand is and people are asking me for coaching and asking me for all these other things. And I said, “You know what, I’m just going to create a course because people are asking for it. Let’s see how it sells.” And that was Email Copy Academy, that was my first course. And put a few hundred people through that. And that was a fun experience because I just got the basics down of like, what are the basics of … What are the foundational, fundamental skills of what I do when I sit down and write email sequence? And then soon I even added how I get clients and how I close those clients, talk to them on the phone. And it was a pretty big success.
Rob: One of the books is Sleep While You Scale. I’m-
Chris: Scale While You Sleep.
Rob: Yes. Sorry, Scale While You Sleep. Yes. I guess, the same difference, but yeah.
Chris: Too much information, I know.
Rob: Yeah. Make It Rain, which is I don’t know, if you sell that one, but you use it as a bonus when people join. Talk about the process of writing those. Did you just take the course that you had and turn it into a book or did you go deeper than that?
Chris: No, I just used Dean Jackson, I mean the books. And it’s funny because people are like, “I want to write a book.” I’m like, “Just pay Dean Jackson,” whatever, it’s three or four grand, whatever. I think back when I got it was 2,700. Which was still a lot. It’s nothing to sneeze at. But I said to myself, “Okay, I could pay this money and then be an author.” And that’s what I did. And no one else was an author. No one wrote a book on email marketing, so I said, “I’m going to be the guy that writes a book on email marketing.” And then I just did. And is it the best book ever written in the entire world? Does it rank number one on the New York Times best seller’s list? No. But does it need to be? Absolutely not. It gets the core of my philosophy and gives people some quick and instant wins and that’s all it needs to do.
So, I just did that and I just, part of it too is just a lot of copywriters who want to do this stuff, they just think they’ve got to be a somebody to go do it. But doing that stuff turns you into a somebody. That’s how it works. It’s not like I’m an expert one day, I’m going to write all these books. So email experts become experts, because they write books. It’s like they write the books and then people start seeing them as an expert.
Rob: Yeah. Let’s talk about that process a little bit, because again, like I said, I sort of watched you do that. At what point did you decide you wanted to step out on your own and sort of be that expert in the space. If I remember right, it started happening when you did the back and forth with Kim Schwalm. But maybe even you had roots before that. Talk about especially your intention in building that and how you’ve gone through that process.
Chris: Yeah. So originally I started doing all that stuff because I wanted to create a mote around my business. And say if I had a lot of content … I noticed all these guys that I learned from, you look like Dave Kennedy and like Frank Kern, all these people I looked up to. It’s like, well they have all this stuff. They’ve got these websites and they’ve got these articles, and they have these funnels. I’m like, “I bet if I wanted to hire them for anything, it’s going to be a lot of money.” And I said, “Okay, there’s definitely a correlation there.” Even though not an exact science, but there’s a correlation.
So, I said, “Okay, I need to produce content.” And obviously a lot of this, Kevin Rogers influenced in terms of teaching me about the importance of authority content, but I started back in 2016, I think January 2016 was when I first started publishing. And no one knew who I was, nor should they. I didn’t really do anything at that point. I was just writing articles. I’d probably written 100 articles before any significant amount of people even knew who I was.
But I realized if I just keep on writing, eventually I’ll probably get pretty good. Eventually, what am I going to write 1,000 articles and they’re all going to suck. Probably not. A few of them will probably be decent enough. I had done blogging before I started copywriting so I understood a little bit about, people like reading interesting stuff. So if I just write interesting stuff, more people start to follow me and know who I am. So the things is, I didn’t really know what I was doing. And even nowadays, it’s still like you figure it out a little bit more each and every day, but it’s like it just, the momentum. And it’s just like if you continue to write stuff, the first 20 articles might suck, but the next 20 might be pretty decent. And the 20 after that might be really, really good and people might love your stuff after that.
I just knew that, that’s was … I don’t know if that was true for everyone, but that’s always been true for me. The first book that I … I think it was okay. I think the second book was better. And I think the third book that I write is going to be phenomenal. But I’m not going to get to the phenomenal book number three until I write books number one and two. And the same thing as blogging and all the content stuff. So the goal with that was to say if I just write enough content, eventually I’ll have a blog. I might get some SEO if I stumble into it, and I have. Or at least I’ll have enough experience writing.
Or part of it too I remember back, it was like, when I was talking to clients, I did this thing where I was like, “Oh, it’s funny, I actually published an article about this recently.” They were like, “Oh, you did?” And I published it on my blog. It doesn’t matter where it’s published, it’s published. Because there’s something about that air of authority. I don’t know what it is. But it’s this weird human, like the way that we perceive experts and information. You know what I mean. I don’t know how to describe it really, but people are like, “Oh wow, this person publishes articles, so clearly they’re good at this.” And just knowing that one fact I said, “I’ll just publish a lot of articles.” And then I can say, “Hey, here’s an article I published. Check it out.” Because if I’m competing against you and you have no blog and no articles, and I have articles, I’m going to win that gig.
Rob: And then obviously that turned into books, speaking gigs, even more stuff as you’ve moved forward. So do you, at each step do you think, “Okay, got the blog. Got the articles, now it’s time for a book. And got the book, now it’s time for events.” Or what’s your thinking there?
Chris: So, part of it is like people talk about getting lucky. And a little bit of it’s getting lucky. I’m not one of these people who’s like, “It’s all this hard work.” It is a lot of hard work, but it’s also getting lucky. But the way you get lucky is by continuing to put yourself in the arena every single day, every single week. So I published a weekly article for years. And it wasn’t until maybe the second half of that process where all the opportunities started coming my way. Because when people see that you’re consistent and they know that you’re building the list and you’re getting momentum and so everyone … It’s not riding coattails, but they want to be on the rocket ship with you.
So that’s when opportunities start coming at … And the once you get the list, now you have the asset. And other people, like when if they have an affiliate offer, if they have a webinar, if they have a book go launch, if they have a summit, the bigger your list gets and the bigger your following gets, the more of those people you attract because they have a bigger asset that they can leverage themself. And that’s the way it is. There’s nothing wrong with it. It just that’s the game. If Seth Grodin wanted to promote your thing, that’d be awesome because he has a huge audience. That’s just the way it is.
If people start to say, “Okay, well who is starting to gain steam, momentum, and where is the impressions?” You talk about impression in the matrix, in the media matrix. Where is all the attention going. So the more of that stuff you start doing, the more attention you start attracting. The more people will get onto your list. The bigger your list grows, it’s like it just snowballs after a while in terms of the opportunities that you get. So part of it was just seeing like, “Wow, I’m doing more stuff and more people are starting to know about me and my blog and everything. And people are joining my list and now the list is 800 people and now we broke 1,000. Now we’re at 1,400 and then we launched a course, now we have 1,700. And then it’s now today, it’s only 4,500 or so, but it’s 1,800 customers. Or more than that actually, maybe 1,850.
So, it’s a significant amount of good list quality. But that’s the way it happens. It’s just part of in the beginning you take the small opportunities. Like I was going on podcasts that had zero subscribers. People were just launching. I was doing all those things because I said, “You’ve got to do this stuff before you get to the big leagues.”
Rob: It’s great to have Chris back on the podcast, and if you’ve been listening along you know he’s shared a ton of really good ideas. I in particularly really like the deep dive that he did on just building an agency. Thinking through what he wanted. The number of times that that changed. All of the roles in the agency. The challenges that come along with that. The businesses that he’s built. Setting goals around that. It really is almost like a master class on building your own agency, whether you just want to be a 1% agency with a few contractors, or whether you want to build something bigger with partners and perhaps even full-time employees. I think what he’s laid out here is a pretty good roadmap for at least thinking through what it is that you want. So that’s the big thing that stood out to me from that, from the last few minutes, Kira. How about you, anything jump out at you?
Kira: Yeah. I’m what I love about Chris and how he’s grown is that he’s taking on new challenges in his business. And he’s grown so much from the last time we chatted with him on the podcast. And it’s just really cool to hear him talk about another mountain to climb and finding that next challenge. Because even though for him, it’s one thing and it’s building his agency, and he’s doing it and it’s happening and he’s dreaming big and he’s actually doing the work to get there. But for all of us it’s different and my dream is going to look different than your dream, than someone else’s dream. So it’s just a good reminder that we can all look for the next challenge and that there is no set path for this thing that we all do as copywriters.
And it’s okay to say, “Hey, I’ve been doing this for a while. I love being a copywriter, but here’s the next step for me. And what I’m doing now, it doesn’t feel challenging like it used to and it doesn’t satisfy me in the way that it used to.” And that’s okay, but I think it’s easy to feel stuck where we feel like we have to continue doing the same thing to become an expert in that thing. But your expert status can evolve to the next thing as it has for Chris.
Rob: Yeah. He made almost a throw away comment at the very beginning when we started talking about the different paths that a copywriter can follow. He mentioned specifically high end clients and then his agency, but we’ve mentioned this a few other times, but there are so many ways to apply the skills that we have as copywriters and build a business that fits us. And you can go after high end clients. You can serve normal clients. You can start your own agency. You can work in-house or work at an agency. You can create your own digital products. You can create your own, physical products. There are just so many ways to apply copywriting, because it’s a super power and it’s needed by almost all businesses. I love again, how Chris spelled out how he’s taken his copywriting business and turned it into an agency. But like you were saying, there’s a lot of paths and I guess that’s why we do the podcast is because we like to see all the various paths that people are on.
Kira: Yeah. That is probably why we started the podcast and continue the podcast, because we are interested in it. And it’s cool too to have Chris here because he’s talking about what he’s done to build his agency and he’s excited about it. And he’s learned along the way and he’s had a lot of success, and it’s great to talk about agencies in a positive light because I don’t think you and I trash agencies ever, but we have had a couple of people on the show where agencies, the agency model maybe didn’t work out as well for them, or they chose not to do it. It can be really challenging like Chris shares with us.
But it’s also cool to hear someone talk about like, “Yeah, it’s challenging, but this is what I want to build and I’m going to figure out how to do it even if it’s difficult along the way.” So I think this is a perfect interview for anyone who is considering building some type of agency and wants, not a how-to but just to know the different options.
Rob: And then Chris also talked about how he has built his authority. I asked him specifically about that and we love talking about this, this is something we do a lot in our own think tank mastermind. Its something that we do in our own businesses. We try to help people figure out what is it that you want to be a year from now, two years from now, three years from now? And being really intentional about the things that will get you there. And for Chris, a lot of experts who have gone from wherever they started out, let’s call it zero, although I don’t think zero is the right word for it. But going from zero to 60 or to 100 and to however you want to look at that scale, takes intentionality and showing up every day. And Chris does it almost every day with a daily email to his list.
He talked about where he started out and the first things that he did to build that list. But I mean, it just, you need to be cognizant of where is it that you want to go. Otherwise, you’re just on that same treadmill and you’re not going to actually get to the place that will serve you in your business if you’re not thinking about it. You’ll end up somewhere and maybe it will be there, but the more intentional you are, the faster you can accomplish what you want to accomplish and the sooner you’ll get there.
Kira: It’s interesting that one of the tougher exercises in our accelerator program, when copywriters join is in the first module where they need to write down what their five year business goals look like. Or the business vision really looks like. And a lot of them are just like, “I don’t really know yet.” And that’s of course, that’s okay. I think it’s tricky to talk about those big goals, even a three year vision for your business, when you’re just getting started.
It’s hard to talk about it even when you’ve been doing it for five years or more, because often times we’re just so focused on what’s in front of us and that takes nearly all of our energy to work on the goal that’s right in front of us. To sort of step back and to have that vision and to take time to figure out that vision and even challenge yourself to think bigger in the way that Chris has, to really think in a huge way, that’s just most of us don’t do that. And so I think my takeaway would just be to take some time and give yourself some space to do that. And even to surround yourself with people who will challenge you to think bigger about what you want to do, because often times it’s hard to do that on your own.
Rob: Yeah. There’s that saying you can’t see the label from inside the bottle. Often it takes a coach or a mentor to help you see what’s possible and obviously we’re big on those sorts of things and it’s the kind of thing that if you’re struggling to see what the future holds, or what the potentials are out there, it may just be helpful to bounce a few ideas off of a friend or off of somebody who can give you that perspective. Chris mentioned a couple of people he’s worked with. Obviously, we’ve asked this question of a lot of people, the different coaches, the different training resources that they’ve had over the course of the last three years as we’ve asked people about that on the podcast. I think what it comes down to is find somebody who you trust, somebody who’s built the kind of business that you seem to want to build now, and get to know them. Ask them questions and use them to reflect back to you what the possibilities are for your business over the next year to three to five years.
Kira: Let’s get back into our interview and hear Chris’s advice to a brand new copywriter and what he would do if he had to start over.
Rob: If you were starting over or if you were giving this advice to a brand new copywriter who wants to follow the Chris Orzechowski path, what would you start with?
Chris: Blogging, I think. And it’s the thing that no one want to do, because it’s hard and it takes time and it’s slow. But dude, it just works. I don’t know man, when you have a blog, it’s just … And if you have a good blog. And the thing is, it’s not going to be good at first. And you’ve got to be okay with not being good at first. My first articles sucked. Some of them were terrible. I don’t even want to look back at them.
Rob: We should dig that up and link to it in the show notes.
Chris: Everyone’s going to go on. They’re going to be like, “Let’s go back to 2016 and rip on this guy.” Yeah, but that’s the thing. It’s like if you have the blog, you have a piece of digital real estate. It’s kind of like if you buy and empty plot of land then you build a house, that plot is now infinitely more valuable because now you could sell it, you could rent it. You could do all these other things. So it’s digital property. It’s owning spaces on the Monopoly board of the internet. The more of those spaces you own, the more money you’ll probably ultimately make, and that’s the first property you buy as your own. So I would just say that. And just give yourself three years and say, “Okay, nothing is going to happen in the first year.” But you’re going things you need to do. And by then year two you’re going to start to get some traction, by year three everyone’s going to know who you are.
Rob: Yeah. I love that advice. Okay. So let’s talk about the mind set shifts that you’ve had to make over the last couple of years going from freelancer, doing everything on your own to business owner. Expert in the space, especially around email. How did you have to change your thinking in order to make those changes?
Chris: Oh man, well there’s a lot of … That’s one of the biggest … the hardest part, because after a while it’s not about can you write and email, can you do a launch. That’s the least important thing after a while. It’s all about can you be … It’s funny. I remember back when I was reading one of the copywriting books, I’d see all these leadership books, I’m like, “Who reads this stuff?” Now I’m like, “Oh, I get it now.” Now I know why I’m reading Napoleon’s biography and all these other books of great people from history who have done amazing things. See how they just lead. It’s a different realm obviously, but how they make decisions and their mental models and their processes.
So that’s been the biggest thing in terms of I just did my core values, my five core values for EOS for my team. And that was one of those things, like I would never imagine doing anything like that. So the biggest mindset shifts have been, especially when you have a team, it’s like hire people who get it and are good at what they do. And if they get it. There’s people who, I’ve tried to hire from outside and nice people, but they just don’t get it. They’re not in the industry. They don’t get the products and get the way it works. Versus some hires that I’ve made.
Like everyone on my team now, they all have written copy, they’ve all done funnels, they’ve been through launches, they’ve done eCommerce and all these things. They get it. I don’t have to go in and train these people up. They get it. They show up and they know what to do and that’s one of the biggest things. And that’s anything you hire. You want to hire somebody to do your website, hire someone who’s done websites before. Don’t hire someone who’s like, “I think I can figure it out.” Don’t hire that person. Hire the person who’s done it and gets it. So that’s one thing.
Another thing too is just realizing you’re always the bottleneck when you have a team. And if you’re visionary … Not vision like Steve Jobs. I’m not talking like that. But just in the EOS term of visionary, you sit in that chair in the organization, then you need to realize that you need to set the vision, give it to people who get it and can do it and have done it before. And just give them the space and say, here’s the outcome that I want. I don’t care how it gets done. You figure it out. This is your baby and have fun with it. And then if you’ve hired the right person, their eyes are going to light up when they have that opportunity. So that’s the biggest mindset shift for me.
And another thing too is, swallowing the … or eating the humble pie of realizing you get to a point where you have your preconceived ideas about certain things. About the way that things should work or just in marketing like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that works. It’s so stupid.” I mean, you get to the point where you’re like, “You know what, I’d rather be rich than right.” And I just don’t care anymore about my ideas about like, “Well, I think that marketing should be this, or this person did this tactic and that’s stupid.” It’s like, “You know what, cool, if it works and it works for them, we’ll try it out. Oh, it didn’t work for us. Okay, we’ll try something else.” But it doesn’t mean it was a stupid idea. Just trying a bunch of things and seeing what works the best and just saying, “Okay, here’s the outcome we want, and the outcome is the only thing that matters, so let’s figure out what strategy and tactic we need to put in place to get there and let’s not leave any options off the table.”
Rob: And how has your thinking about money changed? Especially going from school teacher, where I know most school teachers never have enough. Now business owner, where you have maybe enough and obviously there’s plenty of potential out there to go get more. But how has your thinking there changed?
Chris: It’s changed a lot. That’s been the hardest thing. It’s not hardest, but it’s weird. Because I remember what I used to make as a teacher and I’m like, “Man, I could never go back. What would I do?” How would I ever go back to making 50 grand a year? Now there are months when we spend 50 grand. So it’s like that’s been the biggest thing for me was getting over that. And I think the thing for me, because what happens is when you go, you can become a freelancer and you can get to the point where you’re making 200K a year. Let’s say you’re making 20K a month and you’re clearing let’s call 15K profit. You’ve living the good life. You’re making 180K top line before taxes. You are, you’re taken care of. You’re good. And you’re probably low stress by that point because you know you’re in the groove. You know your projects. You have good clients you work with. You can choose the ones you want to work with. Life is good.
What happens is when you say, “I want to get to that next level.” That’s when it gets really hard. And what happens is you go from having those 70 or 80% profit margins to 20 to 30 or maybe even 40% profit margins. Which that is a hard pill to swallow because you’ll realize most months I start in the hole 30K. Not like minus 30K on day one, but I know with all of my expenses like, “Okay, we’re going to spend probably if we have some big expenses, the big outlay for a big project or if it’s like a website overhaul or like that. It’s like, “Okay, we’re going to need an extra five to 10.” So there’s months where you’ll spend more than what you used to make in a year and that is a little bit scary. But you have ways to recoup that money. You have offers and you have clients and all these other things.
So at first, the first 12 months or so is very hard. It’s just these ups and downs of like, “Oh, my God.” You lay awake in bed at night and you’re like, “Wow, we’re spending a lot of money. We’re making a lot of money too, but hope there’s some left for me at the end.” So it’s a lot of that. It’s a lot of hopefully that we don’t throw up on the roller coaster. But after a while you just realize you know what, you’re not going to die. And the worst thing that could ever happen is all of your clients fire you, all of your customers leave, you make zero dollars and then you fire everyone and then you just go take a client. That’s what I’d always tell myself. I said, “God forbid, if everything just fell apart, that’s just what I’d do.” Because I know how to write copy. And that’s the thing. It’s that nice security blanket. So that helps me sleep better at night.
And that’s also just knowing there’s going to be ups and downs. There’s going to be fat months and there’s going to be lean months. That’s just what’s going to happen. You’re going to have your big months where you have like I had a six figure month in July and it was great, and I was like, “Wow, this is really cool. We made over $100,000 this month in revenue.” In a 30 day period. I was like, “That’s pretty cool.” And there’s other months were there was one month where we made 75 and I think after I had to pay taxes that month too, and I think I maybe profited two grand that month. I was like, “Oh my God.”
Rob: Yeah. That happens.
Chris: Between the $19,000 tax payment and 50 something thousand dollars in expense, I was like, “Oh my God, I made two grand this month.” I mean again, that’s not how accounting works, because it’s the end of the year and there’s a lot of owners comp and those things. But it’s after a while you tend to be okay with that. I’ve just found this peace where it’s like this is just what it is. This is just business now. Because especially when you start reading. I read a lot of Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger and we’re reading … There’s in the Warren Buffet biography he’s talking about companies like Geico and all of a sudden all these claims came in or people were defaulting on things, all this stuff happened. And now they’re on the hook for $600 million. And the CEO has got to figure out how to save the company. I’m like, “You know what, I don’t have that problem, so my problem aren’t so bad.”
So, it’s all about reframing and saying like if you read about people who’ve done things that are 100 times or 1,000 times bigger than what you’re trying to do, it really puts … Not like, it doesn’t belittle you, but it just makes you more comfortable and say, “I can solve this problem. This isn’t hard.” Like, “Okay, we have an up month, we have a down month.” We have months where things were working really well. We have clients. We have profit. You’re smart with your … You learn to be smart with your money. Learn to say, “Okay, here’s how much I need to live. Here’s how much I have left over to invest. Here’s the money I keep in the war chest. Here’s the money that I have for future growth into the business and those kind of investments.” It just forces you to get good.
That’s the thing, all this stuff when you choose to get to that next level and you want to go to seven figures and beyond, it’s hard. It’s this profit margin and version where it flips. The majority of your money is now expenses rather than profit. But you get to a point where even if it stays a minority, in terms of the percentage scale, even if it stays at 20 or 30%, if the business grows and grows and grows, then all of a sudden now you have a $10 million a year business, that business is so much bigger than the 75% it was when you were only making 200K a year.
Rob: Yeah. Good shift to have in your business when it happens. Okay. So I want to maybe shift our conversation just a little bit and talk about the thing that you’re known for which is email. I’m always shocked at how few copywriters have their own email lists. And I know it’s a case of the shoemaker’s kids, some have shoes. We don’t take care of our own businesses. Even Kira and I, we don’t always email like we should, that kind of thing. But I’m curious your thoughts, what is the bare minimum that copywriters should be doing with email in their businesses? And not necessary for their clients. Although, it probably applies to the client’s businesses too, but in their own businesses.
Chris: Yeah. I think everyone has time to do one email a week. And the thing is, I email a lot. I email probably more than most people. There’s time when I’ll send like, I usually do about 40 or 50 emails a month to my list, various segments and things. But you don’t need to do that. As long as you’re writing good quality, what you can do is write your blog posts. It could just be an email. Really an email that you write and then post on your blog and then there’s your content.
So, I think everyone has a least one good thing to talk about every single week. Or at least you need to develop that muscle to be able to do that. I’m just trying to think of examples. I’m sure there’s probably some people I followed who … doing your substacks, you subscribe to these people who-
Rob: Yeah. There’re some really good lists.
Chris: All these people on Twitter who are starting to realize they don’t own their platform. They create a substack. That’s always the exodus to substack. And there’s a lot of interesting people like Edward Snowden has one. I’ve read a few of his and there’s some other ones that I’m on. But they’ll just do once a week or so, they’ll put out a really good piece of content. And I’m always looking forward to those new things that people are putting out. So it’s just about being, I hate to use the word thought leader, but if you want to be good at this and you want to rise above the middle of the pack, then those are the things that you have to do. So I think once a week is good to get started and you can maintain that consistency no matter how busy you are.
Rob: And so, if I were going to set this up as a new copywriter, I know I’ve got to do something to attract people to my list. Do you have ideas that you would share as far as what’s a really good lead magnet? What’s that whole signup process that I need to set that up for myself, what does that look like?
Chris: Ideally you want to do a lead magnet, but you don’t have to. What I’ve realized is as long as you’re just posting … If you’re someone that posts really good content people are going to want to sign up to get notified when new content comes out. So you don’t need a lead magnet. But if you’re not going to have a lead magnet, you need to have really good content that people can see when they go to your site and say, “Wow, I want more of this stuff.”
Rob: So, the content almost becomes a lead magnet in that case?
Chris: Essentially, yeah. I’ve been to blogs where it’s like, I like what this person has to say. So it’s not the list, it’s whatever comes in my inbox, cool. And again, that’s not what you want to rely on, but it’s just a matter of there’s some carrot you’ve got to dangle, whether it’s a good lead magnet, or just good content or it’s both. I try to do both. But, if you have both, it’s even just more gasoline on the fire. But as long as you have one of those two you’re in good shape.
Rob: Yeah. Okay, cool. What else, is coming for you in the future? What are you building your business, what are you changing? What’s next?
Chris: Good question. I never really know. I’m just, I’m-
Rob: A third book? Yeah?
Chris: I’m going to do a third book, yeah. I’ve got that in the works. Although I want it to be like a coffee … You know what, here I’ll show you. You ever have good cookbooks?
Rob: Oh yeah.
Chris: I haven’t read this one, but this guy makes stuff with fire. They’ve got these cool glossy pictures and nice … It’s not a cookbook, but I want it to be a coffee book that’s gloss, like a coffee table book. It’s a big project. I’m not sure if I should go to a publisher, try to do it myself. I haven’t even started to think about that, but I definitely want to do a third book. And one that’s really a thick valuable not just a 50 page … There’s nothing wrong with a short book. But I want a legacy piece. So it might be a two year process. So that’s a project I’m starting to do. The agency will continue to grow that and take on projects and do work for the client to come in.
And then there’s other stuff like it’s hard, because I’m about to sit down and do this, go through the EOS process and figure out core values, and one year, three year, 10 year vision, all this stuff. And it’s really hard when you start to think about this stuff because I used to operate my business not knowing what next month is going to look like, just in terms of clients and projects and other things. Now it’s like what do you want it to look like, 12 months, 36 months, 120 months. So I think for me we’re definitely moving more into coaching. More coaching and just creating programs for eCommerce brand owners and email marketers who just want to up level their skills.
And the big thing for me is, I just know what email has done for leverage in my own life. And it’s like what is it, Archimedes lever, right? Give me a lever long enough to move the world. But that’s what email is. If you are good at email. You know how to do email very effectively your life can be very simple and easy and profitable, no matter what your business is. Because you have a list whether it’s 400 people or 400,000 people. You have the ability to send emails to that list and make money. That takes a little bit amount of time to produce a great outcome and it’s highly leveraged and it’s something that it just, it’s like a super power. So we just want to arm people with that super power in many different ways as possible.
So that’s kind of vague. That’s like the abstract vision for it. But in terms of what that will look like, it’s just more programs more coaching. Just trying to create better and better offers. We always try to say, what is the dream come true also that we can create. And often creation is a whole nother science, in terms of how do you make it better, faster, simpler. How do you continue to do that. So it’s just this never ending process of how do we refine and come out with new things that people are just losing their mind over because it’s so awesome. So, that’s the big picture. But that’s what we’re looking to do.
Rob: Okay. Last set of questions. I know you’ve done a lot of coaching. And what I talk about, not you as a coach, but you’ve worked with coaches through this entire process of growth. I think particularly with Kevin, but with others as well and Kevin’s an awesome individual. He’s given a lot to the copywriting community. Talk about how that has impacted your business and how having a mastermind around you, coach to help you along the way. How has that helped you in ways that you couldn’t have done on your own?
Chris: It’s one of those things where you start to just, what do they say, success leaves clues. And earlier on in my career, I started to just realize that all the people who were really doing well, all have coaches. So I said, “I should probably look into that.” And then I started to, some people who were maybe earlier on who were just starting coaching, I who had lower price coaching programs, I would do coaching with them. But then with Kevin, I remember I joined Copy Chief probably in 2015-ish. Not when he launched, but maybe months after that. And I remember he launched RFL the first time and it was way less money than when I joined a few years later. So I was always kicking myself, but was like, “I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet.”
But then I got to the point where I was like, “You know what, there’s someone out there,” him, who was charging 50K for a project,” and I was like, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that. But I got to at least see how that’s done. And I’ve got to at least learn from this person.” And part of it is when you pay a coach you skip the line. You skip the line in terms of figuring out all the hard lessons yourself. You’re peering around the corners and getting punched in the face unexpectedly. You peer around all those things and you see … It’s just a shortcut. It’s just the ultimate shortcut. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to do work.
You’re going to have to do a lot of work. Probably more work than you had to on your own. But it’s going to get you to a higher level faster. And it’s people have solved the problems you’re trying to solve before. That’s why you think about all these venture capital companies. What they do is you get your VC firm to invest in you, eventually the business gets to a certain point and if you’re not the right person to take them to the next level, they just swap you out and put a new CEO in and then you’re still the owner, and you’re the board, but they just have the person who’s taking the company from 100 million to a billion. Or whatever the thing you’re trying to get to, because that’s what the game of business and life is about. It’s where do you want to get to? Who has done that? Just model what they’ve done? Or just have them give you the answers to the quiz essentially.
So that’s just the way I’ve always viewed coaching. And that’s one aspect of it. The other aspect of it is in the beginning when no one knows who you are, a good way for people to know who you are is to pay them so they know who you are. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s what everyone talks about networking. What is networking? Networking is getting into rooms where you can meet people and have people know you. So whether you have to go to a B&I meeting or you have to go to an event or you have to go to a conference, or you join a mastermind, or you join a … It doesn’t matter, it’s all the same thing. You’re paying something at the end of the day. There’s nothing wrong with that because eventually you pay to be in enough rooms you start to know people and people know who you are and then you have lead flow and you have a reputation. You have a network and all those other things and you’re taken care of. So that’s just the way it is.
And anyone can buy their way into any room they want. There’s several have maybe not some $100,000 a year mastermind, at least not in the beginning. But you don’t have to do that to get a good network of people and to get someone who could guide you who … A lot from people go to college. They go to college and pay 100 to 200K. And like me, I went to college, I got a master’s degree. I got a master’s in special education. And okay, well, that was kind of a waste right? I mean, I got a job for a couple of years, but I spent all that money and then people don’t want to do coaching. It’s like, “Okay, well you’re now starting a new career, and a new profession and you don’t want to do any higher education.”
That’s the thing that always boggles my mind. It’s like you’ve got to invest something. It’s like when you paid 200K for college education, pay five grand for a coaching program. Why wouldn’t you do that because this has some potential to get you to money a lot faster. I had to take dance appreciation and dance is cool, whatever that’s fine, it was an interesting class. But, I didn’t want to be a dancer, so why did I have to take that? But I had to pay $1,000 a credit hour at a college to do … So when you think about the things you’ve spent money on in the past, versus coaching and the expense for that, there’s such a higher ROI from the coaching, all those kind of things.
Rob: Yeah. I think that’s great advice. Last question. If you could go back to Chris just starting out, still teaching school, just starting to do the writing thing and give him some advice, what would you say?
Chris: It’s one of those where I don’t think I would change anything, but I’d just tell myself just have patience. And that’s another thing coming from reading all the Warren Buffet stuff is life is long. It feels short, but it’s long. Decades of decades to do this stuff. It just you don’t have to rush it all. Just keep working hard and keep working with that will and that zeal and that zest. But if it doesn’t happen today, it doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen. It’s just understanding the importance of patience in the beginning. And it’s kind of a catch 22, because if you were never impatient in the beginning would you still get to where you are? You always have those thoughts. But for me, now I’m at the point with my business where I’m a like even though we’re growing fast and everything’s happening, I’m just enjoying the moment and living with that patience and embracing that and saying like “It’s okay. Life is long. You have a long timeline and you’re going to make good things happen if you just keep on doing the right stuff.”
Rob: That’s the end of our interview with Chris Orzechowski. Let’s touch on just a couple more things that Chris mentioned in this last half of the interview. And I’ll start again, Kira. One of the things that stood out to me, as Chris is talking about starting over and what we would do different is that he really wouldn’t do anything differently. He’s do so many things right in his business and he specifically talked about blogging. The guest posting. Being out there as a writer and sharing his ideas. And I think that’s a really good starting point. If you want to be known as an expert, you’ve got to start creating content. And whether it’s blogging or podcasting or video or some other format, it should definitely be part of almost any writer’s toolbox as they launch and try to get known. But if you were starting out, or starting over, Kira, is there anything you would do differently?
Kira: I wouldn’t partner with this guy I met in a mastermind group named Rob Marsh.
Rob: Yeah, there you go. It’s all over right now.
Kira: Yeah, I mean, I feel like Chris too. I often say I wouldn’t really change anything. But you know what, I would. I would start growing a list early. I would start emailing, marketing to the list earlier. I would really focus on that. I mean, Chris is all about the power of a list and selling to your list and writing and sending emails daily. So I would have started on that earlier, and I think that’s so important for all of us to have that. It builds your confidence when you know you have that. So just for the sake of feeling confident that I don’t have to depend on the three clients I’m working with today, because I’ve got 200 people on my list who are excited to hear from me and might potentially purchase a future offer. So that’s one.
The second would be I would not have worked so many hours into 2018, 2019 when I was building with you, building the Copywriter Club and building my own copywriting micro agency. And I was doing both of them full throttle at the same time. And I don’t know, I wish somebody was like, “Hey, maybe you should chill out and not work every night. Maybe hang out with your family a little bit more.” So that’s what I would change, but I have learned from that time and have made changes in my own business and life so that I’m not in the same place I was in 2018.
Rob: So, another thing that stood out to me as Chris was talking is just how his ideas about money have changed. When he specifically talked about moving from a sole proprietorship, where he’s doing all the work and he’s making all of the money, it looks like he’s got a profit margin something like 70, 80%. Once you start bringing in contractors or employees and you start building the agency, so much of that money goes out to your contractors and your profit margins drop to 20, 30%. And that can be eye opening, as it was for Chris, that kind of a drop.
I guess the flip side of it and we didn’t really talk about is when you’re making 30% over the cost of say five or six employees, you’re still able to make more money in total even though the profit margins are lower, because you’re able to get more work done. You’re able to help more clients. You’re able to fulfill on more deliverables. And so while that shift happens, if you’re looking at the number specifically in your business, it looks like, “Oh no. Profit margins are dropping. It’s not going to be anywhere near what it was.” It’s just a different business model. And we’ve seen other who have built similar things like Brittanie MacLean, when she built her agency, saw the exact same thing. It’s very costly to run an agency. But it can still be profitable, you just have to adjust your mindset when it comes to money.
Kira: Well, I like the idea of shifting your mindset around money frequently. And maybe it doesn’t happen every week, but having some shift where you think about money, think about wealth in a different way. And for me, even today, Rob, the two of us sat through our think tank retreat and there was a presentation about wealth and investing. And so for me, even just being in that room learning about different ways I can invest as a business owner, which has been an area I have not been focused on, that was a huge shift in my mindset about how I view wealth and how I can take action to invest in my own business in the future. And so if you can find opportunities, whether it’s reading a book, or listening to a podcast, or attending workshops, or any type of event, or memberships, having those money shifts really can move your business forward as you shift the way you think about your own wealth.
Rob: Yeah, there’s just one or two other small things that I’d touch on. One, I think this interview with Chris pairs really well with the recent interview that we did with Liz Wilcox about email. So Chris’s philosophy and approach is slightly different, but I think they agree on a lot of things as far as documenting your day and talking about your business and success. And not necessarily having to write stories for every email. So if you haven’t listened to the interview with Liz, after you finish listening to this one, definitely go back, because they go really well together.
And then another thing that really stood out to me is as we’ve talked with people a second time, in their businesses, like Laura Belgray, we brought back a month or two ago and Kim Schwalm we recently brought back and now Chris, none of them three years ago when we talked to them thought that they would have the businesses that they have today. They have a different plan and I don’t know if that’s true of everybody, but again, going back to that idea we were talking about earlier, trying to see that five year plan of where you want to be with your authority, even with your business, things change so much.
And so being afraid to take a step forward, to try out a niche or to work with a particular client that might be challenging or to put a new product out there feels like such a big thing. It feels like you’re committing to something and in the reality is all of us change out businesses so much, so we should just try as many things as possible to see what we like, to see what works. To see what we want to do more of, so that we can actually iterate ourselves to that perfect business faster.
Kira: Yeah. I mean, it almost frees us up if we know that our business could look radically different in three years, two years, five years, and we don’t have to feel so attached to it and it just puts you in a more experimental mindset too. And I love the idea of just setting those big goals like we talked about earlier. Think really, really, really big and then also be totally open to the fact that your goal, that big goal you set may change completely, and that’s also okay. But to not set that big goal, I feel like that’s I don’t know, at least for me, I feel like I’d be missing out if I stopped setting those big goals. But I need to be aware of the fact that I will shift at any moment.
Rob: And endanger of almost repeating what we said a little bit before, at the very end Chris talked about why he invested in coaches and various things for his business and that is because he wants to skip the line. He wants to learn faster and grow faster, and certainly that is true. That is why we work with coaches, it’s why we find mentors. It’s why we read books or take courses. But also, I think we need to be really careful that if that coach or that book or the promise of whatever the thing is that we’re investing in is that you get to skip the line, you need to be a little bit wary, because there are very, very, very few successful people who have been successful without doing the work.
Without the trial and error, making mistakes, learning from those mistakes. There’s no such thing as a gold medalist at the Olympics who didn’t do all the workouts. It just doesn’t happen. And the same thing is pretty true in business. So while it is very smart to get coaches and mentors, every Olympic athlete has a coach and that helps you get to that finish line. It’s not without work. There isn’t really a way to skip the line, although somethings can be made easier and you can avoid a few mistakes.
Kira: Well, that could be a really long line, like a Six Flags Amusement Park and you can do the hard work to get ahead in the line.
Rob: Get the fast pass.
Kira: Right. But you could still duck under and move a little bit faster. That may be the worst, worst comparison here, but I think you can have both. Work hard and look for opportunities where you can move a little bit faster and skip the line. There’s nothing wrong with doing both.
We want to thank Chris Orzechowski for joining us on the podcast today. If you want to connect with Chris or keep up with what he’s doing go to the emailcopywriter.com and get on his list to get his daily email.
Rob: That’s the end of the Copywriter Club podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and song writer Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and song writer David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcast and leave a review of the show. And if you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and finally achieve your goals, visit the copywriterthinktank.com. Maybe I’ll just mention Chris actually spoke at our retreat last week. And his presentation all about building your first product and making six figures is part of the Copywriter Think Tank training now. So if you decide you want to join and participate in that, you can see that additional training from Chris. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.