In the 188th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira and Rob talk with Gin Walker on how her experience as a stage actor influences her writing process, her REACH framework, the misunderstanding that turned her into a copywriter, and what she does to manage the competing interests in her life. Here’s the outline of what we covered during this interview:
• the airplane discussion that “mistakenly” turned her into a copywriter
• the podcast that helped her discover what copywriting is
• the difference between copy editing and copywriting
• how she landed her first few clients after she made her career switch
• what she did to build on her initial success and grow her business
• how attending TCCIRL changed her business
• how being an actor has helped Gin as a copywriter
• how she uses her R.E.A.C.H. framework as she works with clients
• what she does to manage all the competing interests in her life
• how her business has changed over the past year
• what her business looks like today
• the mindset issue she struggles with and how she deals with it
• her experience as the closing speaker at TCCIRL
Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club In Real Life
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: This episode is brought to you by The Copywriter Underground, the place to be if you want to master marketing mindset and copywriting in your business and hit 10K a month without losing your mind. Learn more at TheCopywriterUnderground.com.
Kira: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the club for episode 188 as we chat with copywriter and TCCIRL closing speaker Gin Walker about her journey to copywriting, the advantages that she gets from being a stage actor that apply to copywriting, her reach framework, what she’s done to grow her business this year, and what she would do differently if she had to start over today.
Kira: Welcome, Gin.
Rob: Hey, Gin.
Gin: Hello, guys. How are you doing?
Kira: Good. Great to have you here. We have known you for a while. You were in the Copywriter Accelerator program, and then the Copywriter Think Tank Mastermind, and most recently, you spoke on stage at The Copywriter Club in real life in San Diego. So, we’ve seen firsthand how you’ve grown in your business, and I’ll be fun today to share a little bit more about what’s been happening behind the scenes. So, why don’t we start with your story and how you ended up as a copywriter?
Gin: Right. Sure, absolutely. Well, it’s been relatively recent that I transitioned into copywriting in fact. I started out in educational publishing. I was a copyeditor for the longest time. Decades, in fact. So, yeah, I’ve been altering minds with word power for a little while. I was a copyeditor, as I say, and a commissioning editor. I was also a kids’ science author within that educational field.
I went into that basically straight from university, straight after I graduated way back, and I worked up from the bottom there. But then I went freelance, in fact. I worked in-house at a couple of large educational publishers in the UK, this was. But then went freelance way back in 1995.
Well, I continued to work with various publishers that I had worked for in-house for a little while, but then it branched out and I was working for various educational publishers. Because I got myself into really quite a narrow niche by accident, and I didn’t even know what niching was in those days, to be fair, but I was working as a science editor. In fact, people often used to ask me, “How did you get into publishing when you had a science degree?” Because I did [inaudible] biological sciences at university for my first degree.
Yes, the fact that I did sciences doesn’t mean I can’t read and write. But nevertheless, it was relatively unusual to be working in the publishing field with that kind of background. So, yeah, I did end up doing similar work for various publishers, especially biology books, but also chemistry, physics. This was at the school level, the kind of high school level. But during all that time, even when I’d gone freelance, I was still very much in the order taker, basically outsourced employee mindset. I was there exclusively for my clients and I had no concept that I had really any control over the direction of my business.
It was great. It was actually hugely flexible at a time when I was moving house a fair number of times. I had four kids during this period when I was working as a freelance editor. I even moved continents. I moved here to the US and I live in Colorado. It was incredibly flexible and it meant that I could work when it suited me. I was never short of work because, as I say, I’ve got myself into this fairly narrow niche that meant I was pretty much always in demand, so that was great. But, as I say, I wasn’t earning a whole lot because I had no concept that I could actually ask for any more than I was offered for any particular project.
Fast forward through all of that, it really was, as I say, great for the time, but by four, five, six years ago, I was really wanting something new. By that time, I was living here in the States, still working for British publishers for the main part, although they were publishing internationally, so the books went all round the world. But I was aware at that point that I needed some kind of structure or some kind of career path. I wanted to feel like I could make progress because I was just starting. I was on this plateau.
I thought at the time it meant that that would, for me, would mean going back in-house to work for some sort of publishing company. I did actually get the job here in Colorado, in-house, for a very brief time. It was awful to be fair, and showed me by that time, to be honest, I was entirely unemployable. I could not work in-house doing something that I didn’t feel invested in, I didn’t feel was worthwhile. I didn’t feel it was creative. I didn’t feel that my input and my expertise by that point was really being used. It showed me that I needed to do something for myself. I needed to build something for myself that would fulfill this need to be creative and to do something that was worthwhile for me.
The reason that I got into copywriting, because at that point I still didn’t really know what copywriting was, I was still working on this editorial plane, so to speak, I was mistaken for a copywriter on a plane, basically. I was on a flight back from London here to Denver. As I was sitting next to this guy and inevitably the conversation started, “Oh, what do you do” sort of thing, and I explained that I was a copyeditor. He had heard not copyeditor but copywriter, and he actually ran a company that helped startups get to the next level, so he was involved with people who needed copy for websites and so on.
But we did exchange business cards by the end of the flight, and so the next day he actually emailed me and said, “Oh, I think I’ve got some work for you.” It was funny because obviously I knew, but I didn’t do what he thought I did, and yet I knew I could. But because he did suggest that this might be a regular thing that he’d need me to do more, I went away and thought, oh my goodness, well I really ought to find out what this thing is that I don’t do. Hence my research began into copywriting and what it was all about.
As soon as I started diving in, oh my goodness, it really justified that initial feeling that I shouldn’t say no to this guy because I felt this is what I should have been doing all along almost. It was using so many skills that I already had, but in a much more creative way and helping people to get their message across was something that I was really passionate about.
But yes, so that is when I first discovered this amazing podcast, in fact. This was my very first, almost one of the first podcasts I ever listened to. I wasn’t really into podcasts at that time. But when I discovered this one, you’d only just begun in fact. I think I only had to catch up, I don’t know, half a dozen episodes or so. This is how I discovered what copywriting was.
Then, through The Copywriter Club, also the Facebook group and so on, I started to hear about Joanna Wiebe and various other amazing people. I got into Copy School very early on and started all that training. The rest is kind of history in a sense. I feel like I’ve been on a fabulous ride ever since.
Rob: Yeah, awesome. Thanks for saying such nice things about the podcast. We definitely appreciate that. I’m curious, Gin, are there skills that you learned or developed as a copyeditor that directly apply to what you do as a copywriter today, or are they so different that it just was sort of a career change, one led to the other.
Gin: They are extraordinarily different in fact. When I was editing for educational publishers, and it does depend on the kind of copyediting you’re doing of course, but I wasn’t working in magazines or, I mean that’s more [inaudible] editing anyway, but I was working in books mainly. There was online stuff as well, but that was very much at the beginning of online educational stuff. I was editing author’s books. Authors were commissioned to write stuff and I basically helped them get it better.
But a lot of that role, in fact, was more of a project management role because I would work with the authors, I would work with designers and illustrators and photographers to bring together all the elements in the right order. There was a massive long process involved to create an educational science book. They’re all very, illustrators and photographers, very highly involved because these books were very highly illustrated.
The project management side of things was one of the key elements in fact. Because in my mind this was very different to what we understand to be copywriting, what I understand to be copywriting now, for the longest time I didn’t really appreciate how much of what I had learned as a copyeditor in my previous life, so to speak, could be drawn into my new role. So pivoting into this new place, I felt like I was starting all over again, and in many ways I was, and that was exciting, so it took me a little while to realize actually lots of what I was doing in my editorial roles was applicable.
As I say, the project management, the organizational side, the process side of things was very much applicable. Working with other people in a team, of course as a copywriter we did that all the time. We’re working with other people in different roles, so all of that stuff does come in. Indeed, even the writing, even the crafting the words, so to speak, crafting the structure of a piece of writing, it wasn’t doing the same thing because that kind of writing was not necessarily designed to create an action, so to speak. I was writing for educational purposes to create ideas and understanding in my readers’ minds of course. But I wasn’t actually wanting them to click a button or anything like that. So the [inaudible] side of things wasn’t really there.
But nevertheless, to construct a piece in a logical and engaging way in order to create that picture and that understanding in the reader’s head was definitely applicable, and I didn’t understand that for the longest time. I dismissed it.
Rob: Okay, so then as you started to make the transition from copyediting to copywriter, you started learning more about the craft and what was involved, how did you land your first few clients?
Gin: Very early on, I was drawn to the idea of getting in with a community that would support me. Having discovered the podcast, and then of course the Facebook group, I felt like that was a great place to start. That was a community in its own right.
Then I got myself to the very first TCCIRL in New York. I met some amazing people there. This wasn’t necessarily my very first client but I did, I met up with a person who actually happens to live here in Denver and she’s obviously a copywriter but she runs a micro agency. So having got to know her, actually in one of the dinners at TCCIRL in that very first year, we became friends and I got some early work with her, which was hugely helpful. It was mostly blog posts and so on at that stage and then went on to write several e-books for her.
She was in the environmental space, which I was really interested in, especially in the beginning. As a niche, I don’t necessarily focus on that these days. But I was particularly interested in that back then, and also the technical side of it. Because of coming from a biology and a science background, I felt that that was an area that I should be exploiting. So to work with her for this energy company in fact on these fairly technical e-books and blogs was really helpful in the early days.
It was fairly regular stuff that really boosted my confidence that I could write at all in this new way. The money all helped as well. That wasn’t, as I say, the very first job that I got. I can’t actually remember what the very first client that I got. Well, actually, I suppose it would’ve been the guy I met on the plane having done this initial job for him. I did then write some website company for one of their startups. That was probably one of the earliest jobs that I managed to land. I don’t know how I landed it really.
Kira: I believe that airplanes are the best way to find clients. You have undivided attention. Usually, yeah, if you don’t have your family in tow and you’re not managing children. But whenever I travel on my own, I feel like if you pull out the right book, it attracts the person sitting next to you, you can have a really great conversation then. Like pitch your work and you offer.
Okay, so let’s talk about what you would recommend to copywriters just getting started today. So, newer copywriters, based off what you’ve done and your experiences and your pivots that you’ve made, what would you do if you were just starting out today and it wasn’t 1995, what would you do differently? What would you focus on?
Gin: Looking back, I did make missteps, but I don’t feel that any of them were a waste of time. Each step led to the next, and each misstep showed me where I’d gone wrong in [inaudible] and therefore what wasn’t working for me, and it showed me, therefore, where I perhaps should be focusing my attention.
So, one thing I definitely did right, and I would certainly recommend to anyone, is to find your community. Also get some training and some knowledge under your belt to give you the confidence that you can actually do this. From that base of having that backup, so to speak, being part of that family, that also gives you the confidence the, I found, and I certainly recommend this to anybody else, to reach out to people even when you’re right at the beginning and you feel like, oh my goodness, who am I to talk to this person? Or why should they help me? Why should they even give me the time of day?
People are so open to people reaching out and they want to help. For example, this was way back. I was part of The Copywriter Club Facebook group and I noticed that [Rye] Schwartz had posted in the group that he was going to be in Denver. He was sort of reaching out, saying, “Hey, what could I do?” I was so at the beginning of my journey. I wasn’t even really able with a straight face to call myself a copywriter at that point, but it took all my courage to reach out to him, just recommended some things that he might like to do over weekend. Not only did he message back, he phoned me. He called me. Oh my goodness, Rye Schwartz is on the phone. What am I going to do?
I picked up and he suggested that we should actually get together for a coffee. It was so brilliant. It was just amazing. He was so giving and so helpful and gave me so much great advice at that point. But it wasn’t even the kind of technical advice, do this or why don’t you try that, it was just that confidence builder of speaking to someone who believed in me at a time when I didn’t really have any belief in myself at all as a copywriter. So that was extraordinarily helpful. Then of course meant that I met up with him again at TCCIRL and we still keep in contact, so that’s fantastic.
The other thing, talking about reaching out, that was huge for me, this is an interesting exercise in reframing really, the second TCCIRL, which obviously I was very keen to be at, didn’t happen for me because on the day that I was due to fly to New York, to Brooklyn at that time, there was a massive storm at Denver Airport, a freak cyclone thing, and all flights were canceled. All flights were canceled. Mine was one of the very last to be canceled, so I was very hopeful for a while that I was going to be the lucky one to get out. But of course it was canceled in the end, by which time there were no flights out of Denver for the next three days. So I missed it completely, so I went home and felt sorry for myself for about an hour.
Then thought, hang on, how can I make this work for me nonetheless? What I did was I actually reached out directly to people that I was hoping to bump into at TCCIRL, including people like Joel [Clucky] and Tarzan and Hillary [Bice]. They all messaged me back, bless them, and they’re all so gorgeous and helpful, and I actually ended up working with Tarzan. I actually ended up doing some Facebook ads with her, which was amazing.
In fact, she said to me, I made some comment in my message about I would sell a child to work with you. Of course, not one of my own. That would be so wrong. But I don’t know, she appreciated the joke. She said, “Well, do you do Facebook ads?” Then I had to confess I’d never done Facebook ads in my life at that point. But I said, “I’m a quick learner.” She said, “You’ll be fine.” So we learned together basically. She showed me how to write Facebook ads for her business. That was such a … But that wouldn’t have necessarily happened if I hadn’t, well it wouldn’t have happened at all if I hadn’t reached out, but I might not have reached out in that direct way had I actually been at TCCIRL. I probably would’ve nervously got up and said, “Oh, hi, Tarzan. Big fan.” Then just faded into the crowd.
But because I made a bit of a stand and decided that I was going to use this rubbish experience to my advantage, that’s a great thing that came out of that. So I’d certainly recommend reaching out to people, and if you can do that from the basis with a foundation of a community behind you, that’s all to the good.
The other thing, if I were starting again, I would certainly be more careful about is setting aside time to work on my own business. Because even now I have the most terrible trouble of getting out of that kind of outsourced employee mindset where basically I’m here exclusively for my client’s benefit. I’m at their bidding. So whenever I have client work, which fortunately, as I say, I have been lucky enough to get plenty of client work, it means that I’m so bad at carving out time to work on my own business. Even when I do put it in the calendar, it always gets overridden by my client’s priorities. Which is great. I obviously am passionate about doing everything I can for my clients and making it an amazing experience with them, but I’m bad with boundaries.
I’m getting better, but I have always been bad at that simply because I think I have this, as I say, this order taker mindset so that I’m always there for everybody else and not thinking about how I need to strategically move forward in my own business. That actually is probably the key thing when you’re starting out in a new business is to realize that you do have that control to decide who you want to work for, how many hours a week you want to be spending on client work, the kinds of work that you want to do.
All of that is in your control. You can design your own life and it’s taken me the longest time really to get to that point and to understand that not only that that’s what want to do, but that I can do that, and that when I show up in the world with that understanding, that things fall into place for me much better in the way that I want them to. Does that answer any question?
Rob: I think that answered a couple questions.
Kira: You took all my questions with that answer.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. So, there’s a lot of things that I want to ask about how your business has developed since you first got your start but another thing that you didn’t mention as you were talking about how you got your start that I know about you is that you’re an actress. I think a lot of people are probably listening to you as you answer and think, “She sure sounds confident to me. How was she struggling with confidence at one point?” You’re pretty good about getting up on stage and at least taking on a role, and that’s something that a lot of us introverts, we’d be like there’s no way, that’s just not something that we would do.
So, we talked just a little bit about how being an actor has helped you in your copywriting business and possibly as far as reaching out for clients, but also in taking on roles in the different things that you’ve done on stage, how has that helped?
Gin: It’s taken a little while for that to sink in and to realize that lots of the things I do as an actor are hugely helpful as a copywriter. The obvious one I guess is the fact that as an actor when you’re first studying a role and you’re getting into character, so to speak, you’re getting into that person’s head. The role that you’re playing, you have to feel their world. You have to feel their pain and their aspirations and their desires and their hopes for how their life is going to be. Also, what’s in their way? Their objections, their obstacles, as well as their whole context, their whole environment, their given circumstances, so to speak.
So, understanding all of that about your character when you’re starting to work on a play, for example, is so very similar of course to the research that we do into our ideal customers and the pains that they’re feeling and the stuff that they’re coming up against and how they want to change their lives. So that aspect of things is huge, and actually has helped me to develop a framework that I use for full research to frame my customer research. Not only my customer research actually, but also to understand my clients.
I use this framework. I call it the REACH framework, which is an acronym obviously. R-E-A-C-H, and the R is for role, so it’s understanding the character, the personality of the person that you’re thinking about, whether that’s your ideal customer or your client. So understanding what their values are, what they stand for, what they stand against, what their world view is, what they hold dear. Also how their backstory has affected who they are and where they find themselves in the world right now.
Then the E is for environment, which is that context thing. That’s given circumstances. Where are they now, your prospect or your client? What is life like for them right now physically, geographically almost, but also emotionally. So it’s their family context, and their roles and responsibilities, their cognitive ecosystem. What is it they’re seeing, hearing, and saying and thinking? What messaging are they receiving in their world right now? Who do they admire? Who influences them? All that sort of thing. That’s all part of their E for environment.
Then, the A of REACH is for aim, which in actor speak would be their objective. In that case, usually we’re thinking about their objective within the specific context of the product that you’re offering, or from your client’s point of view, it’s within the context of their business, what are they trying to achieve in terms of their business. Or even within the context of a particular project you’re working on together. What is their objective? What do they want to achieve? What’s the tangible outcome that they’re after? How will it feel? What will it actually viscerally feel like when they reach that kind of moment of highest pleasure, as Rye calls it. That transformational moment.
Then, the C is for challenges. That’s what the obstacles and struggles that the person is facing right now. What’s holding her back? What excuses is she making for not having succeeded yet? What has she already tried? Why can’t she progress towards this aim, this objective that she has?
Then, the H of REACH is for hidden depths, the hidden agenda. What’s going on underneath? What’s the deeper motivation or emotional benefit that the person is hoping to achieve? Because what’s at stake? What are her biggest fears around the struggles and why is it important? It’s that kind of why and why and why thing where you keep digging down deeper and deeper to find people’s really deepest emotional motivation.
That’s my framework and it’s basically a checklist really because I use that to summarize and organize aspects of customer research that I do, and also when I’m working with clients, our initial kick-off call where I get to find out more about them and their businesses and their hopes and aspirations and so on. I use this framework to make sure I tick all the boxes, so to speak, in terms of understanding every aspect of their world. Then I can use that to frame and to feed into all the messaging that I work with them on. So that’s one aspect of acting that has really, really helped directly.
In terms of a businessperson, people assume I am very confident and extroverted, and I have to say, from my end of things, it doesn’t often feel that way. I do love my alone time. I don’t know whether I’m an introvert or an extrovert. I know it’s a spectrum. I’m probably somewhere in the middle. But I love to be alone. I love that. That is something that does revive my energy and so on.
On the other hand, I do love talking to people and I’m very happy to do that. I’m very comfortable to do that. I feel like training as an actor has helped me to do that, to grab attention, for want of a better word. To be seen and be comfortable being seen. So it’s certainly helped there.
Also, working together to create something amazing. As an actor, there are prima donnas that we could all think of I’m sure in the acting world, but basically it’s a very collaborative process working as an actor with your fellow scene partners, with directors, with backstage people. I work as a theater actor rather than, I’ve done the odd bit of film work, but it’s mostly within the theater context. And it is, it’s such a family and a team atmosphere. It’s absolutely brilliant. I love all that. So that’s really helped, being a collaborative person.
The other thing I think also is, as I say, understanding that you are playing you. You’re doing your thing, your role, and rocking it hopefully, so you shouldn’t try to play someone else’s part. That whole comparisonitis thing, if somebody else is doing something amazing over there, that’s fantastic. Good for them. They’re being them out there on the other part of the stage, what have you. Your job is to be you and to react to them, interact with them, play off them, collaborate and complement what they’re doing rather than thinking, “I have to be like everybody else,” because you don’t. If you do try that, it’s going to dilute your message and not be effective anyway. Also, it just makes you feel bad.
So, I feel like that part of being an actor has also helped as my own character, my own role, and not trying to be everybody else.
Kira: Yeah, I love the way that you’re reframing it and viewing, at least is sounds like viewing the competition, the so-called competition, on the stage and that they’re on the stage too, and that’s great, and you’re on the stage, but you do have different roles and you show up differently and you have different parts. I think that’s a really great way of looking at it.
Gin: Exactly. Exactly.
Kira: Gin, I know we had talked to you in the think tank, I don’t know, maybe six months ago, and it was really about you doing so many different things. You’re so excited and passionate about a lot of different areas of your life, like acting and performing, and I know at one point you were leading aerobic exercises and have a group program, and then many other things, plus family and business.
I feel like I’ve seen a big change over the last six months where you’ve stepped it up in your business and have stepped into this new space in your own business. Can you just talk about what that looked like for you, even mindset-wise, or decisions you had to make around what to say, know to, or how to start focusing?
Gin: I have always been a person who is always trying out different things. Oftentimes, all at the same time rather than going from one to the other. I’m not a personal trainer but I take group exercise classes. So yes, I do enjoy doing that, but I had to understand that I couldn’t do everything.
I love being an actor as well and I don’t think I can ever completely give that up, but I do have to be really careful about how I balance my time because acting especially, when you’re in rehearsal for a play, it takes up so much time. Usually it’s evenings, but effectively you’re doing two full-time jobs if you’re doing that and a day job as well. Most of us are as actors because, unless you hit the big time, it’s not usually enough to help your family out.
So yeah, I do have to be careful about selecting what it is I want to focus on, and I have got better at that. I now don’t do the exercise classes at all in fact. I regret it from the point of view that I miss all the people that I used to work with at the studio. But again, that did take up a lot of time because, in order to do it properly, you have to plan your classes, you have to put a lot of time and effort into getting it just right. People certainly appreciated that, but it meant that I was not spending time on my business as I really needed to.
So I have dropped that, and it is always hard for me to say no to things, but as I say, it’s something that I got better at and that I have decided needs to happen in order for me to focus on taking my copywriting business to the next level.
The think tank has certainly been amazing for that. It really did help me, not just focus on my business, but different areas within my business that helped me decide where I wanted to reach out and develop. Because when I started in the think tank, just over a year ago, I definitely felt like the stupidest person in the room. But I suppose at that point at least I was in the room and not peeking in the window from outside with my nose pressed against the glass thinking, “What are they saying? What are they saying?”
But I never at that point really felt like the confident business owner that I feel much more closely like now, if you sort of mean. I still wouldn’t say that I have 100% confidence in myself at all. I’m still very much battling with the imposter syndrome, but I don’t think that’s unusual. I think even Rob [Braddock] at TCCIRL was saying that every project he works on he feels like, uh-oh, this is the one where I get rumbled. This is the one where they find out I don’t know what I’m doing. I definitely sympathize with that. I still have that.
But I do, by the end of my year in the think tank, it was amazing the transformation I felt in terms of my identity, myself as a business owner. Because actually, in my family especially, I come from a family of teachers and of engineers. On my husband’s side, it’s all engineers and people who’ve basically always been employed. There’s no one in my family that has ever owned their own business or started their own business. Except for my older brother actually, but he lives abroad and I haven’t seen him for the longest time. It’s not that we’re not close but he doesn’t talk much about what he does, so I didn’t realize until quite recently that he has a couple of businesses in fact.
But my experience of being close to the business mentality, so to speak, was very slight. I didn’t know anything about it, so my confidence in being able to do it to start with was nonexistent, so it has been amazing to find myself in a place where, yeah, actually I do know what I’m doing. Not only do I know what I’m doing, but people are asking me for help and advice, and that feels lovely. That feels so good to help other people, to reach back and help other people take that step.
Rob: Can we talk, maybe get a little bit more specific about some of these changes? So, obviously you were in the think tank. You were making changes to your mindset, to your business. But specifically, what were you doing that made the difference?
Gin: I wanted originally to work with clients who ran ecologically-conscious brands, big-hearted brands that were particularly involved with green technology and so on. That felt right to me at the time, or felt like something I should get involved with. Because of my science background, and also it just felt like [inaudible] the right thing to do for the sake of the planet and so on.
But as I went on, and this is something that the think tank and working with you guys, the coaching and so on, and also the whole group of people helped me to understand that actually that wasn’t at the core of what I wanted to do. The kinds of people who I wanted to work with, that wasn’t their defining feature, if you sort of mean. It wasn’t that they were sort of eco warriors or green tech giants, it was something else.
What helped me to identify exactly what it was that was the defining feature of the people I want to work with was going deeper with you guys and understanding, looking at my past and my history and all the things that fire me up right now, learning and the transformational power of learning is what really fires me up. These days, I work with coaches and educators and change makers who are teachers basically and who are involved with helping people transform their lives through learning.
They usually are actually, the people that I tend to work with, happen to be people who are very socially conscious and big-hearted in any case. But the defining feature for me was the fact that they’re involved with helping other people transform their lives through learning. That’s something I’ve always done. As I say, I’m always trying different things, I’m always learning new things, and that’s what fires me up. There’s always something new, always something different to add to my repertoire, so to speak. Some of which are truly transformational and can completely change the direction of your life. For example, getting into copywriting and learning all that.
Others may not be that radical, but nevertheless it all helps you to experience life in a greater way, in a deeper way, in a more profound way. So, it was working with you guys inside the think tank that helped me to understand what it was about me and my passions that translated into the common factor of the kind of clients I wanted to work with and the kind of work I wanted to do. So that’s been really helpful.
Kira: I’d also like to hear just what your business looks like today. Those are the types of clients you want to work with, but what types of projects are you working on today? How do you spend most of your time, and what type of business are you building? What does it look like at this point?
Gin: Yeah. Well, as I say, I love to work with seasoned coaches and educators and change makers. I love to help them try to break through the bounds of what they’ve tried before and try new ways of opening their audience to this transformative magic of possibility, what they could do differently to make their lives better. There’s always a better way of doing things. There’s always a right way to say things, and that really comes in to copy that I’m constantly trying to edit and make things better, make things say, get across the message exactly as I want it.
Of course, you get to that point, you think, yes, that’s it, I’ve got it. But I always feel like there’s another place to go with it. But for now, for the messaging that we want to get across right now for example, this is the best way to do it. This is the best way of saying it. Things are, as I say, constantly evolving. But I love helping my clients get to that place where they think, “Oh, yeah, I thought I had this. I thought this was fine, this was working, but now it’s even better. Now it’s going to be even more persuasive or effective.”
Mostly lately, I’ve been working on launch copy and sales copy. I’ve also been doing a deep dive into the messaging for one particular gorgeous client, and that has gone right across like from her website to her, she has a membership which she wants to make evergreen, so we’re working on email sequences and so on to help her get her membership get in a regular input, even though it’s not going through that launch process every few months.
So that’s been awesome. But what I have really been investigating lately and getting quite fired up about is, and this comes back to the acting thing as well I think, the clients that I work with, I’ve found whoever they were, whatever their background and the project on which we were working together, it kept coming up that people hate writing their own about pages. They hate writing about themselves basically. Even if they get a copywriter to do it, nevertheless it’s a very painful process for them.
Speaker bios as well. People who want to get out there and get more visible through speaking on stages, or getting on podcasts, you always need a bio to open doors for you, and people hate doing that. They hate writing about themselves in that way. So this was something that occurred to me was a need that people needed help with, but also something that I actually really love doing because, again, it’s that kind of getting into your character’s head. I mean, your character being your client, for example, if you wanted to write their about page or their bio, you’d need to get into their world and understand what it is that they want to achieve.
Also, and this really appeals to me, how to connect that to what their audience needs to hear. So it’s not just about understanding your client’s character, values, dreams, fears and passions, what she stands for and so on. It’s also understanding what her audience needs to know about her in order to fall in love with her. That involves understanding their hopes and dreams as well.
Then, the connection between those, the conduit so to speak, to communicate, what the client needs to communicate to their audience is finding that story, that differentiating angle in amongst your client’s background, in amongst all the research that you do with them, the interviews you have with them, finding that story that will communicate those things and differentiate your client from the crowd, so to speak.
This was something I’m becoming really interested in and I’ve actually put together some packages which I’m going to be launching very shortly to help people, literally to write their bios and their about pages. Originally I was thinking with about pages, you know, people aren’t necessarily going to want to buy just an about page, so that’s going to be quite a difficult sell. They’d want all their website copy, for example.
But in fact, again, research has uncovered that people having gone through a kind of complete website rework a few months down the line or what have you, are nevertheless not happy with their about page and it’s not doing what it should, it’s not making that connection with the audience right away. It’s a well-known statistic that your about page is the second-most visited page on your website. People go there directly after the homepage. That’s where they land and the about page is usually where they go next.
That’s their first time of meeting you. It’s the first time that they’re understanding who you are and what you can do to help them. So it’s really important to get that messaging, get that story, that differentiating story really sharp and clear and get that message punching through right away on your about page.
So it’s something that, if it’s not working for your website, it’s probably harming your business quite significantly. So, it’s something that I would love to help people with, and that’s what I’m working on right now.
Rob: Gin, would you share something, maybe your biggest failure or the thing that you struggle with most in your business?
Gin: It’s a mindset thing. It’s this imposter syndrome that just won’t go away. It has been just this idea of even thinking of myself as a writer, as a creator rather than a … As I say, having spent so many years as an editor where I was taking other people’s work, really, and doing something with it. But thinking of myself as a writer and as a business owner, as someone building and creating something from myself, of myself, and putting it out into the world was the hardest thing for me to grab hold of. That identity thing is one thing I do still struggle with but I’m getting more comfortable with the idea.
But the imposter syndrome, as I say, also comes up specifically to do with skills sometimes and I don’t know why. Because when you look at the evidence, people do say great things about your work. You get great results. You have wonderful testimonials, what have you. You have clients who are really happy with you. You’ve done this amazing thing. When you look back on the progress that you’ve made over the last few years, or what have you, it’s amazing. It’s incredible to find yourself where you are.
Nevertheless, every time a new client comes along, every time a new project comes along, I am still finding myself second-guessing myself and thinking, oh my goodness, can I do this? As Rob Braddock said, this is the time when they’re going to find me out. They’re going to realize I’ve just conned them into believing that I’m actually a competent copywriter and it’s all going to fall to pieces.
So I do still struggle with that and it does manifest as a physical pain, a physical tension in my chest. Again, I’m guessing that lots of your listeners will perhaps relate to this as well. Sometimes, it’s literally hard to breathe. But I have to, as I say, give myself the evidence that this is nonsense. This is just a story I’m telling myself. This is rubbish. I can do this. Not only can I do this, I can do it better than I did last time and I can perhaps do it better than many other people.
One thing that I think is a great thing to do here is to actually keep a record of that evidence. So when you get an email from a client saying, “Hey, great job,” or when you have a lovely testimonial, or when someone on a Facebook group shouts you out for being amazing at what you do, take a screenshot. Keep it in a folder. Keep it in a file and have that as your evidence folder for when those moments of not quite being able to breathe because the anxiety is getting to you. When those moments happen, you can pull it out and go, “Look, no, I can do this.”
Also, as I say, remind yourself where you were two, three, four years ago and how things have changed for you. The progress that you’ve made. I have to say, actually being on this podcast is a big moment for me from that point of view, because when I first started listening to you guys, as I say, way back in beginning of 2017, it didn’t take me very long to think to myself, “I need to be on that podcast. That’s what I need to do.” And here I am. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know how that was going to happen. I had no idea that I would ever make the progress that I have made. But here I am. I’m on your podcast and I’m so thrilled. Thank you, guys. Thank you for everything.
Kira: Thank you.
Rob: We’re thrilled too.
Kira: So, Gin, I just have my last question because you mentioned you were at our first ever TCC In Real Life back in, that was in Manhattan in Chinatown, and then you missed the second one, which we were bummed that you missed it, and then you were back in San Diego this March before everything shut down.
So, because you have that experience going and then also not going, can you just speak to the power of in-person events and how it did help you as a business owner beyond some of the connections you already mentioned, like with Rye Schwartz and making some of those connections and reaching out to people, how else can those in-person events help copywriters, especially events where you meet other copywriters? Can you share a little bit of your thoughts on that?
Gin: Yes. The thing is, the greatest things that come out of these types of events are not the things that you expect. They’re not the, as you say, you hope and expect to make contacts and to meet people and so on. But somehow it’s more than the sum of the parts because it’s not just meeting these people, it’s the sense of underpins, your sense of identity and confidence in who you are.
I certainly found that even more so at the most recent event in San Diego. I just felt I belong here, these are my people, and I am a copywriter, and I am a successful businessperson, and this time I am a speaker. That was an astonishing experience to be out there on the stage.
It just justified all the learning and all the progress that I’ve made. Literally, some of the ideas that come up, not just from listening to speakers on stage, but those conversations in the bar afterwards, those dinners that you go on, the people that you connect with. This is making connections, but it’s not just making friends in that way, and potentially business connections for later on, it’s the ideas that come up in those contacts that you think, oh my goodness, yeah, that’s exactly what I needed to know. Or a new direction that I could think about this particular problem in, and so on. So it’s all those unexpected little bits that come out of it.
One thing that I would say, the VIP day that we had at the end of TCCIRL that I was lucky enough to be a part of, where [Prana Maddock] was helping us to process what we all learned and to commit to taking action and to doing something about what we’ve learned over the next few days, that was hugely helpful as well. Because one thing that you come away with all these amazing ideas, as I say, from just conversations and from speakers and so on, and it is wonderful how they all tie in together and create something greater than the sum of the parts.
But the next thing is actually taking action on it and putting it into play in your business. So that’s something that certainly came out of this latest one much more for me, that all the ideas in the world are not going to happen unless you take action on them. Even if it’s just a little bit. Even it if’s just tiny little steps that you take along the way, just to take those first steps, the next one that will follow, and then the next one will follow, and then another door will open, and then something else will happen. Everything evolves in that way, but you have to take the first step.
So, taking action is something that really came out of this latest one for me, for sure.
Rob: Yeah, I like that. That’s maybe a really good wrap-up for all of TCCIRL, but also for this podcast because, yeah, we can talk, we can learn, but if we’re not actually taking action, it doesn’t have an impact. So, Gin, if somebody wants to reach out and connect with you the way that you did with Rye and so many others at TCCIRL, where would they go to find you?
Gin: My website is a great place, and there will be details on that about these new bio packages that I mentioned earlier, and that is simply GinWalker.com. So G-I-N-W-A-L-K-E-R.com. I’m also there on Facebook of course, as Gin, which is my personal one, but I tend to use it for also some business-y things. I do have a business page there as well, but I think the personal one’s probably best. Just Gin, again.
I am on Twitter, I am on Instagram. I spend more time on Facebook and Instagram than I do on Twitter, I must admit. I’m on LinkedIn as well, so I’m available in all the usual outlets.
Rob: So we’re going to definitely reach out and find you there for sure.
Kira: Yeah, and your new website’s launching soon, so we can look forward to that too.
Gin: Yes. Absolutely, yes indeed.
Kira: All right, well thank you, Gin, for spending time with us and digging into your stories and your experiences. Really appreciate it.
Rob: Yeah, thanks, Gin.
Gin: Oh, it’s been such a pleasure. Thank you. Thank you so much, guys.
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive, available at iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing at iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit TheCopywriterClub.com. We’ll see you next episode.