For a lot of us, being a copywriter is something we just stumble upon accidentally. And for most beginners, it’s getting harder and harder to know what to do when you’re starting out. Our guest for the 221st episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is Delesia Watson. If you’re a beginning copywriter, or you want a fresh approach on how to approach marketing and the world of copywriting, then this interview is for you. To hear everything that Delesia shared, scroll down and click the play button. Or download this episode to your favorite podcast app. You can also find a transcript below.
We also talked about:
• how Delesia’s went from social media writer to copywriter
• Delesia’s start in Public Relations and how it helps her as a copywriter
• Delesia’s interview process that puts prospects and clients at ease
• A look into what her first year in business looked like
• Power of storytelling: Why it’s important
• Choosing the right words—what works and what doesn’t
• The importance of story and voice
• Underselling copy — what makes the website fail
• Pitching — how to get the right clients
• The kind of clients she works with
• Delesia’s secret to leveraging yourself without opening your wallet
• Her secret tip on how to market yourself
• A pet peeve—the one thing she hates doing the most in her business
• Can you succeed without knowing your niche yet?
• What Delesia wishes she knew in the beginning and what she knows now
• Rob and Kira’s advice to beginning (or struggling) copywriters
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
Ask For It by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
The Gary Halberd Letter
Free and Inexpensive Resources for Copywriters
Delesia’s Youtube Channel: Life is Deleesh
The Copywriter Club Website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kira: Who grows up thinking “I want to be a copywriter”? Somehow we all seem to arrive at this point in our careers after working as teachers, marketers, even professions like nurses and attorneys. Our guest for the 221st episode of The copywriter podcast is Delesia Watson, who like the rest of us, found her way into copywriting accidentally. But her background in communications, teaching, pageants and PR prepared her perfectly to make the jump.
Rob: But before we dive into Delesia’s story, this episode is brought to you by The Copywriter Accelerator. That’s our program for copywriters who want to build a solid business foundation for everything that they do. Members work through eight different modules all together, covering topics like branding, pricing, client management, getting yourself in front of the right clients.
If you’ve struggled to get traction in your business, or if you’re making a change in the kinds of clients that you want to work with, or the kinds of work you want to do, or you simply want to get better at processes and services that you sell, you owe it to yourself to learn more at thecopywriteraccelerator.com.
Kira: Let’s jump in and find out how Delesia accidentally became a copywriter. All right, Delesia, we want to start off with your story as we always do. How did you end up as a copywriter?
Delesia Watson: That is hard to say, accidentally. I wasn’t planning on becoming a copywriter or becoming a writer, I just knew that I was good at writing. And so my friends would ask for help writing papers and essays throughout my entire life. And then eventually I saw an opportunity to work with a smaller agency that was writing tweets. This is back in, I think 2015, they were writing tweets for thought influencers.
So I was writing these people’s tweets about technology or about business. And so that was something that I could add to my resume. And then from there, a friend of mine was working for a self-publishing company and she knew that I write and I’m always talking about grammar mistakes on social media. So she was like, “Hey, you should come help me copy edit books for this self-publishing company that I’m working for.” So I was like, “Totally, I would love to do that.”
And I think what really made me feel like, “Hey, I’m probably a copywriter now,” was connecting with a graphic designer. She needed a copywriter for the websites that she was designing. And so I connected with her and started to work with her on a few different projects. And so the bulk of what I do today is writing website copy.
Rob: So Delesia, I know you’ve got a lot of PR in your background as well. In fact, you’ve done all kinds of stuff, not only the copy editing and copy writing that you’re talking about, but social media, you’ve worked at an agency, you’ve done the account side. We talk a little bit about that previous experience, maybe particularly what you did in PR that makes you a better copywriter today.
Delesia Watson: Sure. So I went to grad school for PR and after I went to grad school actually I worked for several agencies throughout college and grad school. I did some in-house work and then worked for a couple years after grad school in PR. And what I really learned while working there was about the power of storytelling and the power of choosing the right words to say when you want to communicate about your business or your brand or about who you are and really being specific about who your target audience is and who it’s not.
Kira: Cool. And so how do you use that storytelling ability with your clients today in website copy? Do you have a unique approach or a way that you work with your clients in that website space?
Delesia Watson: I am an interviewer at my core, I love asking questions. I ask questions all the time in conversations. It’s how I get to know people, how I make people feel comfortable. And so I’m not thinking of it as a strategy, but it’s something that I naturally do. So whenever I take on a new client, I just interview them.
I spend time talking to them, asking about their life experiences, about their business background, about what led them to start this business because it’s primarily small businesses, entrepreneurs. And so hearing their story and listening to them tell about what’s made them who they are, their struggles, their achievements, that’s what really helps me get a grasp of the story that both they want to tell and that I think should be told to the audience.
Rob: And what’s the next step in that research process? Because I know this is going to feel very familiar to a lot of copywriters who do some kind of an interview, some kind of a get to know you when they’re working with their clients, but how do you take those answers that they give you and then turn that into copy that actually works for what your client wants to accomplish?
Delesia Watson: So they usually say certain things over and over again, like their own catchphrases that they don’t really think are catchphrases. So a lot of times I’m taking notes as I’m interviewing them, of course. And I take that and I just make those catch phrases pretty.
So they may say it in a different ways and then I’ll look at my interview notes and oftentimes I’ll actually replay the recording and hear the tone of their voice. And I use that along with what the feel of their mission or the feel of their values is to then craft their homepage, to craft their about page, so craft the service pages that they offer.
Kira: What would you say where do you think copywriters go wrong or maybe even some of the business owners that need to work with you and have not hired you yet? Maybe they’re DIYing their own website copy. Where do we mess up when it comes to website copy?
Delesia Watson: I think we either oversell or undersell. Sometimes copy can be very in your face selling to you like, buy here, subscribe here, sign up here. And I think there’s an art to the way that we soft sell, the way that we encourage people to join a community or sign up for a consultation or purchase a product without making them feel like we’re selling.
Because honestly, if I’m on social media and I see an ad, I can almost immediately tell that it’s an ad and then I’m like, “This is an ad. I don’t want to double-tap because it feels like an ad to me.” But if I see content that looks and feels genuine and authentic and organic, then I’m more inclined to engage with it. And I think many people are like that today.
Rob: So Delesia, I’d love to dive into the nuts and bolts of your business. As you got started out, what were you doing to bring in those first clients? And then what kinds of work are you doing today? How has that changed over time?
Delesia Watson: Sure. So when I first started, I was working full time for a nonprofit as I was doing a bunch of different roles. I was their communications director, I was also teaching in public schools for a health education program that we had in contract with federal government. So I was working with the graphic designer on the side.
And so that kind of boosted my confidence in my copywriting ability and actually came to a turning point in the work at the non-profit where I could either move into a new role or set out and do my own thing. And so obviously I was nervous. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, have I built up my side hustle to the point that I can just leave and not have any prospects?” And I felt like it was time.
I prayed about it. I’d been praying for months about it, I fasted. And I felt like, “Okay, God, let’s do it.” And so for much of my first year of copywriting, I was working with the graphic designer. But then I was pitching. I joined a bunch of Facebook communities and Listservs and all of these other kinds of places that people go when they’re like, “I need writing work.”
And so I joined them, and I think I just really mastered selling what I do. I shouldn’t say selling, but really telling my story and how it relates to the potential client or the potential business and sharing the experiences that I’ve had, what I’ve done and then sharing my portfolio and hoping and praying that they’ll get back to me.
Kira: And I’d love to hear more about that, especially it’s so helpful for newer copywriters to understand what was working, what wasn’t working. So in that first year, can you provide context when was this first year? Was it a while ago or recently?
Delesia Watson: So I’m actually still in my first year.
Kira: So you’re in it.
Delesia Watson: I’m in it. So I took the leap into full-time writing in mid-November of 2019.
Kira: All right. That’s even better because you’re in the thick of it.
Delesia Watson: Yes.
Kira: So let’s talk about the pitching and what you mentioned that selling yourself, it’s not always easy and figuring out the right approach, it can be tricky at times. What have you found works and what doesn’t work specifically so that anyone listening could possibly replicate that process?
Delesia Watson: Totally. I think the biggest thing is being personable. I competed in pageants for years, like 10, 15 years, which sounds crazy. But I competed in pageants for years and a lot of the skills I developed were soft skills. Like how to make someone feel warm and how to speak to that one person. And I think that that comes into play when you’re pitching, because I’m not selling, I’m offering my service, whether it’s a cold pitch or there’s someone who has mentioned that they’re in need of a copywriter.
So for me, what’s worked is being brief, telling them who I am, I’m a writer, this is where I’m based, these are the kinds of projects I’ve worked on, I’d love to be able to offer this service to you. Here’s a link to my portfolio, I’d love to hear from you. So I don’t send a super long email. I usually keep it brief and to the point and talk about how I can add value to what they’re already doing.
Rob: So you mentioned competing in pageants, which of course gets my ears up a little bit. This is unique. I’m not sure we’ve talked to any other copywriters who’ve got that kind of experience. Tell me in addition to those soft skills where you’re in the pageant performance and trying to make a connection with the judges, what kinds of things did you learn as a contestant that applies to that sales process or to the art of copywriting today, the work that you’re doing with your clients?
Delesia Watson: I think it applies mostly to being an entrepreneur and to being a businesswoman and working for myself. Because I was writing for a long time and of course I’m always developing my skills, but like I said, I competed for many years in pageants. And I was first runner up to Miss Virginia USA twice. But I competed in years that I didn’t make the top 10, I competed in years that I made the top 10, but I didn’t make the top five.
The first year I was first runner up. Then, the next year I came back, and I was only in the top 10. So I learned about perseverance and about not giving up. And the last year that I competed was the last year I had of eligibility, in the pageant world, they call this aging out. So I aged out of pageantry at 28. But for as long as I could compete, I went after it.
I was planning and preparing. I was having the conversations with myself that I thought I may have with the judges. I was working on fitness, I was working on bettering myself so that I could represent my city or my state. And I think that having that as a constant goal for several years and something that I was working towards and something that even when I felt like I had a setback, I still pushed forward.
I think that’s what has put me in the mindset to just keep going in business because I’ve done it before. And even though it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, I didn’t win Miss Virginia USA, I didn’t make it to Miss USA, I still feel a sense of accomplishment for what I was able to achieve and I’m proud of that. So I think if I apply that to my business, then I’ll be even more successful.
Kira: I imagine that you are great at sales calls because of that experience just with interviews and the pageantry. What advice would you give to other copywriters to help us show up in a more professional way and to carry ourselves well and with confidence, even if we feel like we’re shaking behind the scenes because it’s our first, not our first sales call because sales calls can be scary? So what tips could you give us based off your experience in the pageant?
Delesia Watson: It’s not a mind trick, I don’t want to say it’s a mind trick, but it’s literally all in your mind. If you think you can, if you think you’re capable, then you are. And you obviously don’t want to lie or be dishonest about what you can and can’t do. But some of it is like talking yourself into it.
And people say in order to be more confident, you just got to be more confident. And I don’t know if that really helps anyone be confident, but I think being honest with yourself about your skills, about what you’re really great at is half the battle and then showing up with that knowledge on a sales call is the other half, being authentic, being honest, being prepared. Preparation is a huge part of it too.
And then being okay no matter what. And in business it’s like, “Well, I got to pay the bills. So I can’t be okay if this doesn’t go the right way.” But in pageants they say different judges, different results. So on any given day, if the judges were changed, the winner could be someone different, someone who maybe wasn’t even in the top five or didn’t make the top 10.
And so it’s such a subjective competition, such a subjective experience that you can’t let it get to you. You can’t take it to heart because one panel says no. And so I’ve applied that to business. I’ve done cold pitches where they’re just like, “Oh we’re just not looking for that right now.” And I’ve been able to be like, “Okay, it’s not the end of the day.” I don’t feel defeated because I’ve gotten a few nos. Because honestly I got used to getting nos when I was competing in pageants.
Rob: Can we talk more about your pitch process and what goes into that? What kind of preparation do you do? What’s the message that you send to your clients and what does that conversation look like?
Delesia Watson: Sure. So I don’t do a lot of cold pitches, I mostly reach out to people that I know have expressed somewhere that they’re interested in a copywriter or copy editor or an editor or a writer of sorts. But I am into all things fashion, decor, lifestyle, travel, those kinds of things. So when I’m thinking about… like you think about, “Oh, my ideal brands to work with, my ideal companies to write for,” I have a list of sorts that I am working through of companies.
And many of them are small businesses that I have either found on Instagram or social media, or I’ve just come across. And so I reach out to them in the same way that I mentioned earlier and talk about what I’ve done, my background. My mother was a project woman growing up, she always had a home project that she was working on and she would bring me on to do all these kinds of things.
So if I’m pitching to someone in home decor, then I would talk about that and I talk about what I learned from it, I talk about the experience I have writing about it and then ask if they’re interested in having a copyright or the services I provide are something that they think that they may need. And then I wrap it up with a bow and send.
Kira: So with the lifestyle brands that you work with, it’s a space that I’m not as familiar with, or haven’t worked with those clients necessarily. What should we know if we’re interested in working with lifestyle brands and products in that space? What would be helpful for a copywriter to know before jumping into that space or preparing their first pitch and cold email? Are there any kind of rules that we should know before jumping in there?
Delesia Watson: I think the biggest thing is that they’re probably contacted a lot, especially in the age of influencing and influencers and bloggers. There are a lot of bloggers and content creators who are seeking to work with them, so they’re probably inundated with a lot of emails. And this is where the personalization and being authentic comes into play, but also being okay with rejection and it not going the way that you think it will.
And then I also think it’s important to consider their audience, who their audience is made up of and even their price point, their location, all of those things factor in. Like speaking to them and speaking their language so they know that you get it because you’re pitching yourself. They didn’t come to you, you came to them and you’re trying to convince them that they need you, that you’re going to add value to them. So doing your research and knowing as much as you can, even if you don’t include it in your initial email is super helpful.
Rob: So I know that you’re really still figuring all of this out, but what are you doing so that you can stand out from the competition in the copywriter space? You mentioned that a lot of the clients that you’re reaching out to are going to be pitched more than once by a lot of people. How are you building your authority? How are you establishing yourself as the expert?
Delesia Watson: That is a great question. And I don’t know if I have been doing that, if I’m being honest. I think it goes back to my experience in pageants, different day, different judges. It’s easy to look to your competition and size yourself up and feel inferior to what they’re doing or feel superior to what they’re doing. And I’ve kind of trained myself to not do that, to look at what others are doing and praise them for it.
They’re successful, they’re killing it. They have such great clients or they’re just getting started and they’re very passionate about it and very driven and being inspired by that. So I can’t say that I do anything differently to set myself apart, but just being who I am. My website is pink, which is my brand. So if you go to my website, my portfolio you’ll see.
I don’t think it’s super girly, but it is pink. And I think many copywriters choose websites or portfolio templates, or build portfolios that are more standard and black and white, but I love pink and that’s my brain color. So I chose to do that because it reflects who I am and my personality. So I always want to be authentic to that.
Kira: And I love your portfolio, so I want to make sure we highlight that too. Not every copywriter has a portfolio that they are showcasing on their website, so what was the catalyst for that? And then how did you approach the creation of that so that the portfolio does highlight your best work and is working for you and not against you? Can you just talk through that process?
Delesia Watson: Sure. So I was one of those copywriters who didn’t have a portfolio. I had writing samples, and for some reason I couldn’t figure out with my web host how to make a portfolio. And the day it clicked for me, I was like, “Delesia, are you serious? You could have done that a long time ago.” But I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is how I can put my work samples on here. I can put my work in my portfolio on here.”
So it’s not as complicated as you would think. I already had my own domain deleesh.com and I was blogging. I wasn’t a daily or weekly or monthly even blogger, but I had the site. And so I just added it to the existing site that I already had. And I sectioned it into… I had to decide am I going to do this by client or by project. And so I decided depending on what it was to do it both ways.
So I have some of the websites that I’ve worked on, I had those grouped together and then some of the… like if I’ve done business blogs, I’ve grouped those together under the header of whichever brand or business that was. After I did that, I was like, “I can really start reaching out to people.” Because before I was like, “Oh, let me attach this Google Doc or this PDF,” but now I can just link it. I can embed a link. I feel so fancy now and so like 21st century that I’ve gotten my portfolio together.
Rob: Another thing that I think you’ve done really well Delesia is social media. Your Instagram is on point. Maybe you can talk to us. We’ve been very open about our struggle with Instagram on the podcast in the past. And it’s something we should be doing better, but we haven’t. Maybe we’re getting better at it. But tell us about your approach to Instagram and social media and how it is that you seem to be doing so many things right.
Delesia Watson: I appreciate that. I didn’t know that I was doing things so right. For me, like in anything else, I’ve tried to show up as myself. I talk about the things that I care about. I use my Delesia voice whenever I’m writing captions, whether it’s on my feed or on my stories. I use y’all a lot because I’m from Virginia. So that comes out almost all the time.
I use sis, like I call my friend sis. So sometimes you’ll see that in my captions. And of course, I’m inspired by people on social media. But like I said, I try to consider like, what do I care about? What do I want? What would I want to see? And then I seek to create that, I seek to post that and talk about it. And that’s what’s helped me so far.
Kira: I would love to hear more about how you approach your business growth. And again, knowing that you’re in your first year, it’s easy especially in a first year to just get caught up in the hustle and looking for the next client and all the things I kind of did wrong myself in my first year. But what are you doing to stay focused and to build the business that you want? Is there anything special that you’re doing there?
Delesia Watson: That’s a great question. For a while, I think I was really caught up in the next client, pitching and looking for opportunities. And I recently had to tell myself, “Hey, focus on what you are doing. Be excellent with what you have.” And as you do that I believe more opportunities will come and that you’ll also be able to add those things to your portfolio and your work will be able to speak for you.
Because I think we can always be thinking about, well, I always can be thinking about the next thing. Like who do I want to work with next or what do I want to do next, what other skills do I want to gain? And because I am so futuristic, I have to check in with myself and tell myself to be more present, to focus on what’s actually in my hand right now.
Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about what you don’t have or what you wish that you did have instead of, like I said, being excellent with what you’re working on and creating quality content for your current clients. And if you don’t have clients yet, creating quality content for yourself or for your blog, or if you’re creating samples just so you can send them to people, so you can get started, being intentional about that and not feeling so pressured to look left or look right, or try to look forward into the future is what’s really helped me.
Rob: Let’s jump in here and talk a little bit about what Delesia just shared. So obviously I’ve never competed in a beauty pageant, nobody wants to see that. But every time that we present to a client we’re being judged on the things that pageant contestants are judged on, things like confidence and our ability to convince the client that what we have to offer is valuable.
Every time we pitch, it’s another opportunity for a client to choose us or to reject us. And often, as Delesia said, they’re inundated with pitches from other contestants. So a lot of the time it’s just being in the right place and the right time with the right offer. Let’s talk a little bit about that. How do we make sure that we can actually stand out from the crowd when there are so many other copywriters out there trying to attract the same clients that we’re trying to appeal to?
Kira: I think as far as standing out in a crowd and the standing out amongst copywriters, what has worked for me and what I’ve seen work for other copywriters is stacking the social proof and branding. So branding to distinguish yourself to connect with the prospect and then adding the social proof on top of that to make it a no-brainer decision so that your prospect feels confident that you can deliver what you say you’re going to deliver and that you’ve done this before.
Rob: I think that it really helps to be very conscious about even the look on our websites or the phrases, the words that we use because so many copywriters end up looking exactly like all of the other copywriters out there. We have lots of billboard images with fingers on keyboards or pens on notebooks. And there are definitely ways that we can stand out.
We’ve seen some copywriters do an amazing job just with the visual branding on their site, but also language, the way we talk to our customers, the places that we show up. Some copywriters are showing up in LinkedIn and doing really well there and completely ignoring other places like Instagram and vice versa. There are copywriters who are showing up and doing really well there.
So knowing where you’re going to show up and then also just having unique things to say. And I’m not necessarily suggesting that we need to reinvent the things that we do or the way we talk about them. But you talk about copywriting in a way that’s very unique to you and the weird trifecta that you talk about. I talk about things like sales pages for SaaS companies, which is something that not very many copywriters talk about. And there are other ways to do that too. So just being very conscious that we need to stand out from each other in ways that appeal to our target markets.
Kira: That’s such a good point though. I mean, it really is all about what you say and you’re putting out there, even more so than your website half the time. It’s like, how are you marketing and what are you saying in your marketing? I haven’t updated my website in a while or even updated my offers anytime recently, but when I’m marketing and I’m speaking on other podcasts, which is how I market today based off what I’m sharing and teaching and talking about, that’s how I attract clients.
And that’s what they’re coming to me for. It’s about what I’m saying today. And so thinking about what we’re putting out there on a daily basis, will it attract the right people? Is it going to attract people who want and are asking for the right offer from us? And so being really intentional about that, the same way that you would be in a pageant as far as what you’re saying and what you have to stand for, what your values are, what type of impact do you want to make and what you share in an interview on a stage.
Rob: And Delesia’s done a really good job with this on Instagram and on YouTube, the assets that she started to create, even just being really new in her business really helped her stand out from other people who are also a year or two in but aren’t doing the kinds of things that she’s doing that really sets her apart. So she’s done that in a way that gives her an amazing advantage for those clients that find her in those areas.
Kira: And I could hear on the interview, I mean, we’re surprised that she’s only been in business for a year because of the way that she’s positioned herself online as far as being professional, as far as having a really dialed in portfolio and then marketing consistently on Instagram. It’s not typical for someone who’s only been in business for a year to have that many pieces in place and together.
Rob: Yeah, exactly.
Kira: All right. Let’s jump back into our interview with Delesia.
Rob: So I’d love to go into this just a little deeper, because I think there are a lot of people that might be listening. They may be in their first year and struggling with the same thing, how do I figure out what to learn next or how do I figure out where to invest in my business? And I’d love, since you’re in the middle of this, to hear about your process. When you see an opportunity, maybe it’s a program or a course, or maybe it’s something else, how do you look at that and determine whether that’s something that you should be investing in now versus something that you need to wait on?
Delesia Watson: Well, I think if I see that it’s free, I think I should invest in that now. If I see that it’s more of a financial investment, then I take time to think about how worth it I think it will be. But for me, taking advantage of the free resources that I find online has been most helpful for me. And then there’ve been times that I’m like, “Oh, I shouldn’t invest in this course or invest in this program.” But only after I think that I’ve come to the point that I need to.
Because there really are so many free resources, so many Facebook groups, so many of those webinars that people are doing for free, so much information on Pinterest and on YouTube that you can be investing in yourself, you can be learning and growing without breaking the bank, without spending $99 or 399 here and there for different things.
And I’d also say to take what comes to you. I didn’t think that I would be a website copywriter, I didn’t think that that would be the thing that I was doing most. But I got started in it and it turned out that I was like, “Ha, I like this. And I could do this for many other small businesses.” So sometimes the thing that you think is your thing may not be your thing, and you have to be okay with that. And I think even being open to that and welcoming that can open more doors than you thought were possible.
Kira: I would like to hear about your struggles Delesia, because I think it’s also easy for anyone listening to be like, “Wow, she’s in her first year.” You have such a great mindset and approach to business growth and you have a great Instagram presence, you’ve got your portfolio. There’s a lot working well, which we’ve talked about. So what do you struggle with now as someone who’s in their first year? What are some of those harder moments about right now?
Delesia Watson: Totally. So working for yourself is hard. You don’t have a boss over your shoulder, you don’t have specific hours that you’re working, so you can be tempted to work nonstop or to procrastinate until the last minute. And I’ve been in both of those positions.
And when you’re working for yourself, you have to strike a balance between client work and admin work. And admin work is almost equal to, or more than the client work that you do. So I’ve been navigating all of that. And obviously I haven’t been doing it perfectly, but learning, creating a schedule for me that works and then it doesn’t work anymore, recreating the schedule.
At one time I thought, “Okay, so Mondays is going to be my Sabbath. I’m not going to do any work on Mondays. I’m just going to relax and then I’ll do work the other four days of the workweek. And then on whichever week in day I choose then I’ll work a little bit, but not too much.” And then I realized for a client that I was working with that that wasn’t going to work. And so I had to readjust. And so I think being flexible with yourself and not being so rigid about what you think you have to do and what’s required of you is helpful.
I opened my first business checking account and did all my taxes and all of that this year, which was, oh my gosh, insane for me to just figure out and navigate like, who do I go to, what do I choose? So it’s been fun for me though, learning about being my own boss. Starting something from the ground up has been fun for me, but it’s definitely been a challenge, especially when I was on the phone with the IRS on hold for an hour, not kidding.
Rob: Oh, geez. That sounds like a nightmare.
Delesia Watson: It was.
Rob: So let’s talk a little bit about how you have figured out pricing so far and how you decide what does a package include and how do you price it? I know it changes radically in the first few years of business, but what are you charging for the services that you provide today?
Delesia Watson: So first I do a lot of research. I look at what other people are saying that they’re charging in the Facebook groups that I’m part of or on the websites that I frequent. And in some cases I’ve lowballed myself, I’ve said, “Oh, I’ll charge $800 for this.” And then I found out that typically they charge $1,500 for this. And I’ve been like, “Okay, well, I won’t beat myself up about that. I’m just going to learn from it and grow.”
So next time I can say these are my rates. And being okay with some people saying, “Oh no, that’s too much. I’m not able to afford that right now.” And also being okay with people negotiating. I read this book called, what is it called? Women Don’t Ask is the first book, the second book is Ask for it. And it talks about women and negotiating. And it basically helps prepare you to be able to negotiate.
So when I’m setting my prices, I keep in mind that people may negotiate. And depending on who they are, then I’m willing to, of course. So that’s really helping doing research, learning from mistakes, being okay with growth in that. And I’ve learned that if someone responds quickly like, “Oh my gosh, that’s great,” with a price, then it’s like, “Huh, maybe I am undercharging.”
And I think a lot of people, especially starting out as entrepreneurs and as copywriters, you’re afraid to ask for what you think you deserve because you’re like, “Are they going to pay me for this?” And it’s kind of like what I’ve been saying. It’s like some people are going to say yes, and some people are going to be okay with it and some people are going to say no.
And some people are going to negotiate and you have to decide in that moment, if you’re willing to take off $75 to get this client, to get that fee, whatever the remaining fee is and to get that experience. So considering the client, the industry that they’re in, and of course your current financial situation is something that I would encourage everyone to do.
Kira: So as you look back at the first year as a copywriter in business, what would you say was the most, whatever we want to say, like up-leveled your business the most, the game changing moment? What was that one thing you did that helped you the most that you would recommend and share with other copywriters in their first year?
Delesia Watson: I definitely think finally putting my portfolio together just made me look more professional, being able to link it was helpful. So that gave me the confidence to even go after opportunities. Because before I’d be like, “Oh, I’d love to do that but they asked for me to link my portfolio and I don’t have a portfolio, I have writing samples.”
So putting my portfolio together gave me the confidence to do that, to pitch and to go after opportunities. But I think also realizing, hey, I’ve been writing website copy as I was doing freelance part-time for over a year now. I should just start saying that I write website copy. And before I was like, “Oh yeah I kind of.” And so of like being confident in speaking to what you have done and are doing is important too.
Like I said, sometimes opportunities will come to you that you didn’t have before, that you weren’t anticipating, but can be something that you really enjoy and something that there’s a need for. Businesses are popping up left and right. And so people are in need of writing. They aren’t writers themselves. They don’t know proper grammar and punctuation and they need help. So realizing that something that I was doing is also something there’s a need for made me go, “Huh? I should be more intentional about this.”
Rob: Can you give an example of that in your business, those opportunities that come along and suddenly you realize, oh yeah, this is something that I can help with. I can do and maybe, like you said, become more intentional about?
Delesia Watson: I think the writing for websites, I was writing for kind of anything before. And I’m still open to most things. As you know, I’m still in my first year, so I haven’t niched and that’s a thing that people are like, “You got to niche,” some people say. And others are like, “Eh, do whatever.”
But having a realization that people do need website copy was something that made me go, “Huh, I can pitch to… I can work in many different industries writing for websites. I can write for a home decor brand. I can write for a pediatrician. I can write for a dermatologist,” many different areas and avenues, which has also helped me learn so much more about different industries. Because I’m doing the same thing, I’m writing the copy for their websites, but in various industries.
Kira: Before we hit record Delesia, we were talking about your travel gig, how you’re working with a travel client right now. I’d love to hear about how that experience is going, considering that travel has significantly decreased recently. What has that been like for you? What type of experience has that been like working within the travel space right now?
Delesia Watson: So it’s brand new and I want to say that it was like accidental, but I believe it was a God moment. I was looking for a specific group chat on Slack and I ended up not finding that, but I found another one, it’s called Ladies Get Paid. And I was like, “Well, since I’m here, let me look at the job opportunities.” And so honestly, a week ago I was scrolling through and looking and I saw that the editor was looking for a writer in my area.
And I live in New York, but I’m home visiting my family in Virginia. And so I was like, “Well, let me just see. I don’t know what the opportunity is or how long it is, but I’m here now. So maybe, just maybe it’ll work.” And so I reached out and she followed up and so here I am, I’m in the DC area and I’m visiting different sites that are going to be included in a travel guide next spring.
And it’s been pretty cool to see places that I ordinarily probably wouldn’t have and to be able to write about them and travel to restaurants, which I love, to see new hotels, to see monuments and visitor sites. So it’s been pretty cool for my first time.
Rob: Knowing where you are today, Delesia, I wonder, is there some advice that you would give to five years ago you, or 10 years ago you that might prepare you for copywriting as a career? Maybe I’m asking, what do you wish you knew then that you do know now?
Delesia Watson: I would say skip grad school and start sooner. I totally do.
Rob: Me too.
Delesia Watson: I would have started sooner. You always think, “Huh, man, if I had done that then, who knows where I could’ve been now?” And I am where I am and I’m happy where I am, but I think I could have forgone grad school debt and started sooner and been “further along” in my career than I am now.
Kira: All right. So as we wrap up, I would just like to know what’s next for you? What are you working on? What are you focused on in your business?
Delesia Watson: I’m focused on the business side of it, like making sure that I’m organized in my finances, that my business filing documents are together. If anyone has filed an LLC, well, if you’ve done it in New York, you know that there’s still a publishing requirement which is insane. And so being on top of all that, but also, like I mentioned earlier, focusing on what I have in front of me and doing the best I can with that and knowing that doing that will prepare me for whatever’s next.
I’m also writing a book. I’ve written the first draft and half of the second draft. And I have a passion for women. I competed in pageants for years. And I always had great experiences with the women that I competed with. People are always like, “Oh my gosh, are they nice, are they mean? Do they try to sabotage you or put your dress on fire?” Like, no, they were all nice.
But I’ve always had a passion for women, especially the younger generation. So I’m writing a book, it’s about dating to really encourage women to be intentional about the relationships that they have and the way that they’re being treated. Because I think today we see a lot of people in relationships with people that you’re like, “Huh, why would you stay with that person? Why would you allow yourself to be treated that way?” And I always want people to be treated with respect and with honor. And so my book is encouraging women to think deeply about the relationship choices that they make.
Rob: So I don’t want to ruin the surprise for when the book comes out, but can you give us one or two points, things that you would be sharing with that audience in order to make that happen?
Delesia Watson: I was deciding like I think many writers are today, if I’m going to do the traditional route or if I’m going to do the self-publishing route. And I think I’m going to do the traditional route. I met with an author, which was a crazy experience and she gave me feedback on the book. But with everything else, I’ve just been doing a lot of research.
I haven’t been putting as much time into the book as I could, so I’ve been procrastinating a bit. But also doing a lot of research on the art of writing a self-help book, which there is, and how you really can write a book that actually moves people to do something and not just inspires them to think of it. But I want to move women to have the confidence to end a relationship that are unhealthy, that are toxic, that are abusive.
I wasn’t in a toxic or abusive relationship, but I was in one that wasn’t going the way that I wanted it to, and it wasn’t serving me well. And so I did that and I dealt with the fears of like, is he going to find somebody else? Are we never going to end up back together? All the what ifs. But I still knew that if I wasn’t getting what I felt I deserved that it was better to be alone than to be in that relationship. And so I want all women to come to that same realization.
Kira: That wraps up our interview with Delesia. I’d like to dig in a little bit, Rob, to what Delesia shared about taking advantage of free resources, because I know you and I talk a lot about investing in your business. I mean, we talk about it almost on every podcast episode because we believe in it and we’ve done it.
But what I really like about what Delesia shared is let’s talk about all the free resources out there and let’s talk about taking advantage of those before spending a ton of money. And it was just such a great reminder that you can really tap into the wealth of information that is currently out there on the internet and from fellow copywriters and colleagues, and you don’t have to spend and throw down a ton of money, especially early on in business when money is scarce. And I think it was just such a good reminder that we don’t take advantage of the free resources nearly enough.
Rob: If you’re just starting out, you don’t need to spend $2,000 on a copy course or $5,000 in a copy course. There are some really cool free resources. This podcast is one of them and there’s some other really good copywriting podcasts out there. There are several blogs where there’s lots of information about copywriting that’s available for free.
Some of them also sell products, but there’s fantastic information. There are things like the Bencivengo Bullets and The Gary Halbert Letter. So if anybody is interested in direct response or sales copywriting, those are both fabulous resources. They’re entirely free. They’re not really selling anything, they’re just out there. And we can link to those in the show notes.
And there’re even low cost, very inexpensive, say $5, $10 books and other resources that are maybe more accessible to people who are just starting out than the big expensive courses. And we’ll also link to our list of ultimate resources that is mostly free or low cost copywriting information that’s out there on the web. We’ll link to that in the show notes.
Kira: So Delesia shared her advice, the advice she would give to her younger self around starting sooner, skipping her master’s program and just jumping into the business. So, Rob, what advice would you give to your past self?
Rob: So what advice would I give? Well, I actually really like what Delesia said about skipping school. So I have an MBA. And while I don’t necessarily regret getting it, I’m not sure that the money that you spend for things like master’s degrees is recoverable in a business like copywriting. And I see people asking about this stuff all the time, should I go get a master’s in creative writing or should I get a business degree or whatever.
And to be successful in copywriting, I don’t think you need that stuff. Maybe if you want to be a middle manager, upper-level management in a big enterprise technology company, maybe you need that. But so I like that advice. But to me, the biggest piece of advice that I would give is to build my network faster and wider. So I didn’t have a network of copywriters.
Even though I’ve been doing this for 25 years, I didn’t really start focusing in on my copywriting network until maybe the last five or six years. And I think that that is a huge miss. And as I look back, that’s the thing that’s moved me forward the fastest. I would have gone all in much earlier. And I’m not saying that you necessarily need to be in a paid program, but masterminds are good places to do it.
Courses that offer some kind of a community aspect or group learning aspect so that you’re not just watching videos and not interacting with anybody else, but those kinds of things I think could have helped my business move forward a lot faster than it did. What about you? If you looked back and were telling yourself as you’re just getting started, what would you skip and what would you set to do differently?
Kira: All my advice to my past self is usually not related to business, it’s more about dating and don’t fall asleep on the subway at 3:00 AM, Kira, maybe don’t party so hard in your twenties. But I think mindset wise, it would be more earlier on in my career when I wasn’t in my own business yet and I was just starting my career post college.
And I think I would just tell myself, just stay the course, do not compare yourself to your friends who have these successful careers in Manhattan already, just keep what you’re doing and trust yourself. Because you’ll find the path that you should be on, which ended up being copywriting, but I just didn’t know it back then.
And so I think just feeling reassured that you’re on the right path, especially for anyone as before they feel like they’re a true copywriter just feels good because I think you can question yourself, especially as a freelancer, especially as a copywriter when you are surrounded by friends or family members who have more traditional jobs. And so I think it would be more just almost taking my hand and cheering me on back in the day. That would probably be how I would help my 20 something year old self.
Rob: So if somebody is listening to this and they’re thinking, okay, so I’m in that, I am the 20-year-old Kira. I am the 20-year-old Rob. Is there something that other than saying, well trusting yourself or find communities, are there resources or other kinds of things that maybe would help them jumpstart the advice that we just gave them?
Kira: Yeah. It would be get ready in experience, get clients, find the work. We talked to a lot of copywriters who are struggling or just want to get started and aren’t gaining that traction and it comes down to, they aren’t working with clients, they aren’t even getting paid. And sometimes you don’t even have to get paid just to get some experience.
So I’d say find people you can help and help with marketing, help with copy, help with design, help with anything in that realm where you think you can help them solve a problem. Because that’s where the confidence comes from. It’s from actually working with people and building that confidence when you give them a win and you can walk away to the next project.
So I think if anyone is struggling, go figure out how to help somebody and hopefully get paid for it, at least a little bit, and the next time get paid more and the next time get paid more. But don’t get stuck taking the courses and reading all the books but not actually helping somebody.
Rob: Well said. So we want to thank Delesia Watson for joining us to talk about her business. Every once in a while, we talk with people who are earlier on in her business and she’s doing so much really well early on. And it was just fun to hear that experience from her. If you want to connect with Delesia, there are a bunch of places to do that. Look for her on Instagram, her handle there is @deleesh, that’s D-E-L-E-E-S-H. She also has a YouTube show called Life is Deleesh, and you can check her out at her website, deleesh.com, that’s D-E-L-E-E-S-H.com.
Kira: That’s the end of another episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Our intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice, the outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Muntner. To learn more about how Rob and I can help you build a more successful copywriting business, visit thecopywriterclub.com. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.