On the 294th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Nicole Morton joins the show to talk about her experience in product development and how it’s helped her build her copywriting career. From creating products to qualifying them in the current market to writing copy for them, Nicole laid out the whole process.
Here’s how the conversation went:
- How Dollies helped Nicole get her start in the product development industry.
- From idea to store shelf – How to qualify a product to get into the market.
- How product development can translate to building a copywriting business.
- The current trends in the copywriting and marketing industry.
- How to look for trends in your industry.
- Creating ideas for a product – How do we actually start coming up with ideas?
- The practical application for brainstorming names for your products.
- How to uplevel and refine your current skills as you build new ones.
- Identifying which of your skills are transferable and how you can leverage your background.
- Client acquisition – How to create a referral system.
- How to package “ideas” and “strategy” for clients.
- When it’s a good idea to go back to working a full-time job – Is it a setback?
- How to reframe “failure” and turn it into a positive.
- The benefits of going back into the workforce and how it can help you become a better writer and business owner.
- How to balance working a full-time job, a business, and personal life.
- Gamification – Can we add it into our business and personal life?
- What Disney does well and how we can add it to our businesses.
- Why we shouldn’t underestimate the skills that comes naturally to us.
Tune into the episode by hitting the play button or check out the transcript below.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Think Tank
Copywriting Income Survey
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Rob Marsh: I’m pretty sure it was Eugene Schwartz, who first suggested that copy isn’t written, it’s assembled. And a lot of copywriters have jumped on that statement, believing that the work that we do really isn’t all that creative. It’s like playing with an erector set or a LEGO kit. You’re just putting together a bunch of preexisting pieces to get the end product that will resonate with your customers. But that’s just not true. Yeah, we need to draw on research and connect with the conversation already going on in our customer’s heads, but creativity plays a really big part in creating the magic that makes that connection happen. Our guest for today’s episode for The Copywriter Club Podcast is Copywriter Think Tank alumni member and master of ideas, Nicole Morton. And what she shares about brainstorming, product development, having better ideas will help any copywriter improve the work they do.
Kira Hug: A quick announcement. This episode is sponsored by The Copywriter Think Tank that-
Rob Marsh: Surprise.
Kira Hug: So surprising. That is our mastermind-slash-coaching program, where you could have access not only to the two of us, but also to our team of coaches so that you have all the support you need as you build your business and create new revenue streams, create new products, create new offers with our mindset coach, our systems and growth coach, me and Rob. We don’t really have a name as far as the coaching that we do. But what would you say that the two of us specialize in?
Rob Marsh: Well, I think we are really good at helping people see the potential in their business and coming up with new ideas of how to grow in new ways. So whether it’s building your authority and getting yourself in front of different, better ideal clients, or whether it’s adding some new product or service to your business. We’re just really good at helping people identify the parts of their business where they could start to make really big strides. And I think as well, we’re good at helping them set goals, keeping them accountable and moving in a new direction or expanding the direction that they’re moving in.
Kira Hug: Yeah. And I think I’m good at pushing people. I don’t know Rob if you agree or disagree, maybe I’m actually not, but I think I’m good at it. I just like to push people out of their comfort zone and that’s what we also do in the Think Tank. We will push you out of your comfort zone.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. There’s no doubt about that because when people are saying, well, I’m thinking about doing this in a couple months or what if I do this next year? And you’re always the one like, what’s stopping you from doing it now? Let’s put the plan into place so that you can actually do it. What resources do you need? What team members do you need? What support can we offer? How do we do it? And you are really good at that.
Kira Hug: And if you have any interest in the Think Tank, now is the best time to join, like right now, because we have an upcoming retreat that’s about to happen. And also the investment for the Think Tank, it’s about to jump up. So the price tag’s going up in June. So if you are listening to this and you have any interest, reach out to us right away, and we can talk to you about whether or not it’s a good fit for you. You can head over to copywriterthinktank.com to learn more.
Rob Marsh: All right, let’s get to our interview with Nicole.
Nicole Morton: My story starts similar to just about everybody else. I just fell backwards into this industry. But I neglect to mention that I have a 20-year running start in product development and brand management through consumer packaged goods and branded collectibles and things like that. So I started out in a company making collectible dollies. So you used to be able to get the Sunday paper and you’d open up to the circular and you’d see the Elvis plates and the porcelain dolly. So that’s the company that I worked for. And I started out as an intern and I never left. They just kept finding spaces to put me. Originally it was in quality assurance and logistics. So I would be helping the team do sample checks and do quality assurance before we get all of our presale samples and communicating with vendors and setting standards for manufacturing and production.
And so it gave me a good insight into the manufacturing and distribution side of the product life cycle. But I always had an eye to move back toward product development because that was where the creativity was. So after about a year and a half in QA and logistics, I was able to move back over. And so my job there was to qualify concepts for development and then shepherd them all the way through the development process. Interfacing with vendors who would create porcelain and seamstresses, and wig makers, and prop developers, and get the samples done, and all the way through the manufacturing process, and then do all the sales support. We had a separate sales team and we had a separate copywriting team, which I at the time didn’t understand what the difference was, but I was always placed onto the teams that needed the most boost.
And they always happened to be sort of the black sheep product. So I ended up teaching myself Illustrator and Quark and being able to get assets for printing and packaging. And so I was kind of a Jack of all trades. And so it was such a great experience to learn all the facets of product development. I love conceptual development. We would do focus group testing. I would help all of the sales teams be able to market their product to gift stores and trade shows. And so I was able to have, I was able to touch the product development all along the cycle from the time that was an idea till the time it was installed on a store shelf in the toys or us down the street from us. So it was a lot of fun.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. This is really interesting to me because we haven’t really talked about the product development process a lot on the podcast. So I’m curious, you were mentioning that you were doing part of the qualification. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Like how did you figure out yes, there is a market for this. Yes, this is something that somebody’s going to buy or our version of this, it has potential, what did that process look like? And maybe how do we apply that in copywriting either with our clients or our own products that we’re trying to develop?
Nicole Morton: That’s such a great question. I had a little bit of a cheat code because this, just to kind of orient you in time, this is the late 90s, early aughts where branding just the IP boom was huge. And so you had parameters within which you had to stay. You couldn’t get too crazy with IP from Disney or Warner Brothers or MNRs, or whatever project I was working on. But we would do team brainstorming and we would have opportunities to do some trend watching. We would have subscriptions to industry magazines and kind of keep an ear out for, this is pre-social media, so you kind of had to keep an ear out for things that were happening in the entertainment sphere, trends in home decor, trends in fashion, trends in things like automotive and electronics.
And so we would come for these huge brainstorming sessions and we had a general idea of what we were trying to develop. So if it was for a particular artist, it was say, Robin Miller that she would have a certain parameter within which she could work. Her specialty was developing porcelain baby dolls from this age to this age, mostly Caucasian. So we would have to find themes that would fit the existing data. But then there were always opportunities to come up with really radically different concepts. For example, there was one time when we got a lead on a licensing opportunity for worldwide wrestling before they changed to whatever they are, WWE right now. So the opportunity to, how do you fold that license into a porcelain baby doll program? So we were coming up with wild ideas of like, porcelain dolls of little babies and little kids, like doing funny wrestling poses. Like in making a little diamond with their hands, for whoever had the diamond with their hands.
But it was always a convergence of trends that are going on in the marketplace, objectives for your clients, opportunities that we had and restrictions that we had, and market things that you can build, things that you could capitalize on. So it was really nice to have boundaries from within you could create, because when you don’t have that kind of structure, things just sort of spin-off into chaos. And those are the kinds of things that I’ve brought forward into my business and things that I advise my clients is that you need to have an ear to the ground for things that are happening that are relative to what you are doing. So how are people communicating? How are people taking in information? How are people processing information? How are people evaluating themselves amongst their competition? How are people evaluating themselves amongst industries?
Are there opportunities to shift from one place to another? And trying to make a matrix out of all these opportunities and seeing, what are low-hanging fruit? What are long-term opportunities? And evaluating them against your skills and talents to sort of see, what are things that you could try for? What are things that may not work? What are things … And you also have to have a bit of, assess your own risk tolerance as well. How much are you willing to invest when failure is an option? Does that make sense?
Rob Marsh: Totally makes sense. Yeah.
Kira Hug: Can you apply this Nicole to copywriters listening? So I guess as a two-part question, I would love to know what trends you’ve seen recently over the last year in the copyright and marketing space if any trends stand out to you. And then as a follow-up, how can we do this better and keep our ear to the ground for our own businesses as copywriters and also for our clients too, so that we can better serve our clients?
Nicole Morton: Yeah. I think one of the trends that we’ve been seeing over the last several years in our industry is the explosion of coaching and course creation, and how that is at the same time becoming such a huge category and also becoming extremely saturated at the same time. So taking the time to really dig into your points of differentiation and how you can communicate those outward are going to be really essential in positioning your messaging. And also how you as a copywriter can start building value for your clients. I think one of the things that we could be looking towards more is getting sort of a more of a macro look at our industry, not just what’s happening in writing. Like, are we talking about authenticity now? Are we worried about AI? I think we need to look broader and have an opportunity to look broader and see what’s coming down the pike from how electronics are going to be interfacing with us.
Thinking specifically of things like smart homes and smart technology. Or how are we going to start communicating now that remote learning and remote work are becoming more of the standard. Watching for large macro trends will get you kind of ahead of the curve of things that you want to start talking about and things that you want to start incorporating into your business. Or to have had the knowledge that Zoom was going to be so huge back in 2018, how could we have incorporated some of the virtual tools that we have at our disposal? And also when you’re thinking about how to sort of incorporate trends and information into your business, assess how those things are relative to your skills and talents.
So if you are someone who does really well with systems and processes, leveraging all of the technology that is at our disposal to create premium client experiences, for instance, or how you are collecting data, or how you are offboarding your clients to leverage information that you can be using for case studies and testimonials. Those are really important things that you can be building into your system and also incorporating into your standard operating procedures within your business.
Rob Marsh: So when you were doing the wrestling project, did anybody suggest a plate that you could smash over your partner’s head?
Nicole Morton: No, but just having somebody in like a little dolly in a pleather diaper was just, it was a bridge too far. But you have to have some of those absolutely crazy ideas because the rules of brainstorming is there are no bad ideas.
Rob Marsh: Right. Well, that was actually going to be my real question for you, is you are really good at ideas and piecing things together. And clearly, as you were just answering Kira’s question, there are a lot of things that go into being able to identify what might be coming next or ideas for your business. But when it just comes to idea generation, give us some thoughts around how you brainstorm, how you come up with ideas. Do you put constraints around yourself like you had in order to make the ideas more focused? Do you keep it more open? Again, I think that this is your X factor. It’s the thing that you’re really good at is just ideas. And so I’m curious about your approach to them.
Nicole Morton: Thank you. That’s so kind of you. There are times when restrictions are appropriate and there are times when there are not. And again, it all depends on your risk tolerance. So for me, when we’re brainstorming, all bets are off, anything is possible. But when we’re assessing strengths and weaknesses, when we’re assessing points of entry for new messaging and discussions, that’s when you have to have constraints, because like I said, creativity without constraints is just chaos. And ironically, it’s the constraints that you put in that allow you the freedom to be as creative as you need to be. So for instance, I love writing web copy.
I love writing web copy because a homepage has a very specific structure and function. And within that structure and function, I can be as creative as the IP for my client allows. And there’s a very specific destination to and from a homepage or to and from an about page or a services page. So that structure gives me the freedom to try new things and make seemingly disparate connections come together. And that’s where my creativity really plays into the whole experience that my client is going to have and what I bring to the table.
Kira Hug: Can we talk through a practical application for brainstorming? Let’s say I’m struggling in my business to figure out packages for my copywriting business. I want to come up with something clever, clever names. I want it to stand out and be different. What could I do internally, assuming I don’t have a team, I don’t have a business partner, what could be a process I walk through on my own to walk away with some solid package ideas?
Nicole Morton: That’s a tough one. Naming is probably the most difficult thing of all of our creative endeavors that we do as copywriters. And there’s a reason why people are specifically, that is their talent and skill set. But that being said, there are lots of tricks that you can employ. One of them is just free writing and just an absolute brain dump of everything that’s in your head. And the toughest part about that is when you have to teach yourself not to self-edit. Because a lot of us are very focused on results and as we’re going through this process will have a tendency to self-edit and judge the process while it’s playing itself out, as opposed to giving yourself the freedom and the permission to just let things flow out. Because of course not, everything’s going to work, but you never know if it’s that one thing that you pulled back on that might make the difference in making messaging that converts or connects.
So giving yourself the freedom to be expressive, putting in the reps. I mean, I refer back to Justin Blackman’s Headline Project often, because putting in the reps of 100 headlines a day for 100 days, what comes out at the other end is an ability for you to tap into that creative portion of you quickly because you’ve drawn from that well over and over, and over, and over again and it becomes second nature.
So giving yourself permission to be creative, putting in the reps and crowdsource it. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, chances are you have some sort of community at your disposal. You never want to operate in a vacuum. I’ve been very, very fortunate in The Copywriter Club community to have been a part of the Underground and the Think Tank. And I rely on my network heavily for feedback on my ideas, because I need a sort of outside counsel to give some sort of weight to how I prioritize my findings or giving me feedback. And maybe even seeing something that I didn’t see myself.
Rob Marsh: So we talked a little bit about your process for structured brainstorming. What about unstructured, daydreaming? Do you keep a notebook? Do you make space for that kind of stuff? And when I say that, I know you are extremely busy and so making space is maybe a luxury that a lot of people don’t have. But how do you allow for that creativity to happen in your life outside of a structured brainstorming session?
Nicole Morton: Really being open to fun. I am an absolute kid at heart. I make space in my day for entertainment, for playing with my kids. My kids and I are constantly texting back and forth ridiculous memes. Half of our conversations, if not more, are just quotes from TV and movies. So I’m constantly making space for fun and silly things in my day. To be more practical about it, I have a paper planner. I’m sorry to Dr. Suess, I am not a friend of the Lorax. I go through a ton of paper in a day in terms of Post-its and planning that I’m constantly scribbling down like a little scattered squirrel list of things that, ooh, I should look into that later or ooh, what about this.
And so trying to catch those fleeting thoughts before they get away from me is a habit that I’ve tried to cultivate over time. And it seems to work well because I joke that inside my head is just a nest of flappity wires and occasionally these things will touch together and the magic comes out. It’s because I have a storehouse in my brain of all of these little snippets of words and phrases, and images, and ideas, and trends that are all just like a big soup.
Kira Hug: Okay. So I want to know how you make space for fun. And I feel like this just comes naturally to who you are as a human Nicole. So maybe it’s not an answer. And I also know this is a challenge for me right now. And part of it is just, I have a 10-month-old, so fun, there’s a little bit of room for fun and I’m trying hard. But when you’re telling me how you do it, I’m just like, “Ah.” Give me a step-by-step so that I can have more fun because I just don’t know if it’s even practical at this stage in my life with the baby and growing family.
Nicole Morton: And it’s not. And part of that is making peace with that, that you are in a season of your life where your demands are very, very different than mine. But I do remember when I was there and I do remember what it’s like to have a 10-month-old and older kids, and trying to run a household, and I didn’t have a business to run at the time. So I understand why you feel like you do, but giving yourself the grace to, even if it’s five minutes, that’s five minutes more than you had yesterday. I just, for me it comes naturally because I am naturally very creative, very silly. Plus I enjoy the company of my family, my kiddos are some of my favorite people. And hanging out with their friends is an absolute joy, but it’s part of my personality.
I really enjoy creative endeavors, reading, watching films, playing video games. Yeah, some days the house looks like a tornado went through it and that’s the trade-off. And for me, that’s okay, for someone else that might not be and that’s perfectly fine. But you only get so many hours in the day and you have to prioritize. But when you can sneak in a TikTok, five-minute TikTok session and don’t get stuck going down the rabbit hole, that might be enough to spark some ideas later on down the line. You just never know where inspiration is going to come from, so you just have to be open to everything.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I like that. So I feel like we kind of got partway through your career story. I’m curious how you went from product manager and brand strategist to copywriter and brand strategist, and all of the things you’re doing today.
Nicole Morton: It’s a very roundabout story. So when I had my son, I took my maternity leave when I was working as a brand manager. And in the interim, there just happened to be an opening at his daycare for a temporary substitute for the administrative director. And I ended up staying at that school, you’ll see a trend, I ended up staying there for quite some time and decided that I wanted to go into education. I had put myself through my first master’s program on a teaching assistantship, and I always thought, “Wow, that would be a really, really gratifying career later on in life.” And so I went back to school, I got my master’s in education, and I was going to teach at a classroom, a first-grade classroom in a school where my brother-in-law knew the principal. And there were four upcoming retirements.
And my husband at the time came back at Christmas break and said, “Well, we’re moving to another state.” And so I had to put my education on hold, my educational career aspirations on hold. And in the meantime, I was always helping out friends with things. Like a friend of mine opened a beautiful women’s clothing and accessories boutique, and she needed help with a website. So I was like, “I can do that.” And then she was starting to do social media sales. And I was like, “Well, I can help with that.” And my parents are both realtors and they have residential properties that they rent like Vrbo style. And they’re like, “Well, we did a website.” And I said, “Well, I can help that.” So I’m always kind of dabbling in all of that. And then I had, I was at a point in my life where I needed a transition back into the workforce.
And I had been, for all intents and purposes, home with my kids for 10 years. And I happened to see an ad on Instagram for a course that said, can you write, but you don’t have a portfolio. So I ended up joining the course and learning the ins and outs and basics of content writing thinking that I was going to kind of parlay that into a career writing four or five blogs a week for four or five clients, times four weeks, times 12 months. And I thought, “Oh, we can make a living doing that.” And then came to realize the more I dug into content writing, and then by extension copywriting and realizing, holy smokes, that’s what I’ve been doing just about all along, going all the way back to my internship in the very, very beginning.
And so I made it a point to do a lot of skill-building, taking all of the copywriting courses, and by all, I mean, all the copywriting courses. That’s one of my worst traits is – I joke about it, calling it procrastinating that I’ll just buy, my poor credit card, I’ll just buy any kind of program that suits my fancy. But I did put in, for a good two years, skill-building and learning how to write conversion copy for websites, landing pages, sales pages.
And as I learned more about the process, that’s when I learned more about the TCC community and started to realize that this was something that I could really turn into a solid business and be able to grow and scale the way that I wanted to. And be able to help people communicate their message outwards and help people make an impact with their products or services. And the thing that I love most about what we do is the connections that we’re making, not just the connections from sales to the exchange of dollars, but the exchange of ideas and the ability to bring two interesting people together or two interesting businesses together.
Kira Hug: What has been your approach to scaling the way that you want to so it works best for you? What have been some guidelines along the way to help keep you focused on your path?
Nicole Morton: I think understanding what my skill sets are and how they translate into the services that I want to provide. So when I started to think about how I could leverage my background, it took me quite a while into the skill-building journey to realize that, no, I’m not just a copywriter. I actually have decades of experience that I can leverage into bringing services to the table. So when I started to think about where my skills and talents lie and how I can leverage those into services that people need, I started to realize that my approach to scaling would be sort of a modular approach, wherein I could help people understand their foundational messaging and positioning. So that would be building sort of a brand identity, not a visual identity, but a brand identity in terms of messaging and positioning.
And then, okay, well, now that we have that, how do you speak outward with that? Well, you’re going to need a website. So then we sort of snap that onto the original project. Well, now you need to draw people into your orbit. Okay, we’re going to need a lead magnet and we’re going to need a client acquisition funnel. Okay. And now what are we going to do with that? So it was a modular approach to not so much scaling my business as a larger enterprise, but more scaling my ability to serve people in bigger and more impactful ways.
And the fact that I could expand and contract that offer based on my ability to deliver, meaning that if I knew that I had things coming up on my schedule, or if I knew that I only had a two or three-day hole that I could fill with an hour consultation, I was able to be very agile in that respect, by understanding really what my needs were and what my client’s needs were. And really getting my arms around how long things take, and then being able to build in a little bit of buffer there, and really structure my deliverables based on what I was really, really good at delivering.
Rob Marsh: All right Kira, there’s a lot that we’ve covered here. A lot of ground that we’ve covered and we’re just halfway through. But of everything that we’ve said so far, what is the stuff that sticks out to you?
Kira Hug: Well, I wrote down in my notes that Nicole is one of my favorite people and I made a bullet where I said that. Because just listening to this podcast interview again, she really is one of my favorite people. She’s just such a positive, creative, brilliant, generous person. And I think she just embodies all that is good in this world. And so I just enjoyed re-listening to this episode and to all the creativity that she brings to the table. So let’s start with that. There are some other points that we can focus on, but Rob, what stood out to you?
Rob Marsh: Well, I’m not going to argue with that point because you’re right and Nicole is so creative. When we were doing the calls in the Underground where there were basically creativity calls and doing different exercises, Nicole was always showing up with really interesting ideas, new looks at the way that we were doing things. So I endorse what you said there. If you have an opportunity to be in Nicole’s world, you should definitely take that opportunity. But let’s go back to the beginning of the episode, because Nicole talked a little bit about the product development process and knowing or how to know what people will buy, keeping an eye on the marketplace, and then talked a little bit about restrictions and boundaries around a project. And this is something that Justin Blackman talked about at TCC IRL back in 2020, he gave this great presentation about how boundaries actually help creativity.
And I think a lot of times we think the opposite. It’s like, well, I don’t need, if I’ve got a restriction on budget or I’ve got a restriction on time, or I’m not allowed to write these things. Let’s say you’re doing a health promotion and the law, DSHEA law won’t let you talk about the diseases that your thing helps to cure or whatever. All of those constraints force us to be creative and actually make us more creative. And so I appreciated that she talked about the boundaries around her project and that there were limits based on the licensing agreement or there were limits based on the products that they could actually develop and how they had to push against those limits. But ultimately how that makes a product better or it makes us more creative as copywriters.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I almost think that one of the reasons I had kids and even got married is because of the constraints. I do better and I need constraints, otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Then it becomes chaos if there are no constraints in your life. And so I feel like this part of the conversation resonated with me. I also thought of Justin’s presentation from 2020 at IRL, because how do we get creative if there are no obstacles or bumpers in the way to kind of keep us focused, then it just leads to complete chaos. So I’m wondering for you Rob, how do you create those constraints? Or are they already there for you? How do you operate in that space?
Rob Marsh: I think a lot of the constraints are there already. If we’re writing a sales page, you’re limited in the medium possibly. So you’re not showing up with a color to add in People Magazine, you are showing up as part of a funnel online. Or conversely, if you’re writing an ad in People Magazine, you’re doing something that’s very different than selling something online. So I think a lot of the constraints are built into what we do already. I think there are obviously personal constraints that we can build into our lives. So that it’s like, okay, I need to build a structure around the time that I have to write or the time that I have to do coaching, or the time that I have to create something.
So we can do that. And then of course things like getting exercise and sleep, we can build constraints around that. Like forcing yourself to go to bed at a certain time. Of course, we can all stay up late watching movies, reading the book to the very last chapter. And then when we do those kinds of things, we remove the constraints that we might put on ourselves regarding health, exercise, that kind of thing. Then it shows up in our lives in other ways when we have no energy to show up or we can’t do the things that we want. So obviously constraints help us in a lot of different ways in writing as well.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I think I need more constraints as we’re talking through this, I just need more of them to keep me in shape and focused.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I could draw up a schedule for you. Limit your ability to go two blocks from your house, all those.
Kira Hug: I think I would do better in life. I think I could lead a better life if I had all the constraints. Okay. So I also like that Nicole mentioned having an ear to the ground. We talked about spotting trends, the importance of that. And I think when we talk about trends, it can feel really frivolous at times. And Nicole really reminded me of how important it is, because this is also why it’s important to niche down, which we’ve talked about enough. But if you don’t have a niche, then it’s hard to focus and figure out the trends and follow the trends because you’re trying to focus on everything. You don’t have one area to focus on. And the importance of focusing on trends is because our landscape is changing so quickly and in order to stay relevant in your marketing and even just to create offers that are relevant, it’s a must, we must be aware of the trends in our niche so that we can speak to them and adjust in our business.
Otherwise, our business isn’t going to last. So I think it was just a reminder of like, am I paying attention to the trends? Am I focused on that? Maybe that should be a bigger part of what I’m thinking about on a weekly basis when I sit down for my CEO time. It should be like, what is happening in the space that I work in right now? And for the two of us and for The Copywriter Club, it’s focusing on the copywriter and content writer space and paying attention to that. For someone listening, it could be in a different industry where you’re like, what is happening right now and how has that shifted over the last month? So I think that’s important. We haven’t talked a lot about that on the podcast.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. And I think it really comes down to a couple of different places where you want to search. So I’ve seen people that say things like, well, all of this stuff has changed in the copywriting world and it’s not always true because human behavior doesn’t change. But the way that we show up in the world or the mediums that we have do change, they’re constantly changing. In fact, I’ve heard other people who I think rightly say, if you can identify the next thing early on, you have a massive first-mover advantage.
So if it’s something like, hey, TikTok comes along and I’m going to play around with an ad on TikTok. If you’re one of the first people doing that, then you do accrue to yourself some benefits of being there. And back in the days, let’s say 15 years ago, when Google ads were a really big thing, a really good thing, the people who jumped into that made a lot of money. Today everybody knows that, people know how ads work on Google. So they click on them less. They’re far more expensive. That being first or being early advantage has disappeared. And it’s probably true of TikTok now too.
We’re far enough along and so many people have jumped into that. The question is, what’s next? Is there a new app, a new medium that’s coming along? Is there something that people are doing a little differently, with say sales pages or emails, funnels or kind of when people get into funnels they realize that’s where they are, and so is there something that we can do to minimize that? It’s looking for those kinds of trends I think that can really set us apart as copywriters. Because then we can go to our clients and say, hey, this new thing may be interesting. Nobody knows about it or very few people are doing it, or I just saw somebody testing this out. And this is maybe something that we would want to try.
Kira Hug: I don’t want to brag, but I was on TikTok before I was TikTok.
Rob Marsh: Wow. Yeah. Where can we see those videos?
Kira Hug: You can see it on my Instagram. I believe TikTok was Musical.ly previously.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, maybe. Yeah. It seems, that it sounds familiar. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I don’t know.
Kira Hug: You need to fact-check.
Rob Marsh: I’m not hip enough. I didn’t spot that trend.
Kira Hug: I could be wrong, but I was on Musical.ly when it took off in 2000 like 16. And I was doing all the dances and singing, and had it on my Instagram so there’s proof. And then when it turned into TikTok years later, I was like, “No, not interested. I already did this. I’m done. I’m not doing this.”
Rob Marsh: You are such an early mover.
Kira Hug: I might be an early adopter Rob.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Once people move in, you’re like, okay, I’m done. So whatever you’re doing now is the next thing that everybody should be interested in is what you’re saying.
Kira Hug: Yeah. What am I doing now? Yes, that is what I’m saying. So yes, trends let’s focus on trends and let’s have conversations about it in The Copywriter Club too. This is why it’s great to have copywriters as colleagues and creatives as colleagues, as you can spot trends and share, and talk about it. So I think that’s really fun.
Rob Marsh: There are some really good email lists that you can get on, people who are trend spotters, and look for that. So do a quick Google search for people to do it, get on their list and watch what they send you. A lot of it you’re going to read and you think, wow, that’s not going to turn into anything or these are crazy ideas or whatever, but in all of that stuff, there is whatever is coming next. And there are people who are really good at it and are worth listening to.
Kira Hug: Yes, that is true. Okay. So I also want to mention fun because Nicole is so fun, she’s such a fun person. And we talked a little bit about fun. We also talked about it recently with Carline Anglade-Cole. So fun does pop up in these conversations. And I feel like every time it pops up, I’m the one who’s like, “So how do you do it? I don’t understand fun. Tell me about fun.” So I don’t know. I’m kind of like, clearly, I have a problem because that’s always my follow-up question. You don’t ask that question. So I just think that you have fun all the time.
Rob Marsh: Well, I think maybe it’s the way that we think about fun itself because I think a lot of times when we think, okay, it’s got to be fun. That means that we’re laughing or that we’re playing, doing something that’s out of the ordinary. So we’re at an amusement park or we’re at a party laughing, playing games, whatever. But I think that there’s some kinds of fun that aren’t necessarily that, but they’re enjoyable. So reading can be that or writing, or just even alone time.
And I think a lot of us who are introverts, for us that’s way more fun than going to a party sometimes. So it really just depends on how we think about fun. Yeah, I think we should all laugh more. Maybe we should all watch some comedy in the morning or spend time with the people that we enjoy being around. That kind of fun is really healthy socially, but I don’t think that it necessarily means that we need to be tying balloon animals or riding roller coasters, or whatever thing is that we think of as fun in that other way that it’s defined.
Kira Hug: I can see you blowing up balloon animals.
Rob Marsh: I have a neighbor who does it, she’s really good at it. But yeah, not me.
Kira Hug: For some reason, I can see you doing that. That would be pretty cool. Okay. So yeah, you’re right. We need to redefine fun and what’s fun for you may not be fun for me. So I like that, I can get behind that. We also talked about brainstorming and of course, this is part of Nicole’s X factor. And even as I was thinking about this conversation, I reached out to her and I was like, “Can I hire you to work through a brainstorming session with me,” because she is the best, one of the best at brainstorming. And I like how she says it’s just kind of everything goes. Crazy ideas are welcome, you do not edit and that is how to brainstorm.
Kira Hug: And I think that is so hard for us. I know I self-edit. I have sat in brainstorming sessions, maybe you have too Rob, where we’re like, let’s brainstorm. Every idea is welcome. And then a couple of ideas are thrown out and then people are like, oh wait, no, that’s not going to work because of this. That’s not going to work. And it’s like, this is not a brainstorming session if we’re critiquing it. So I think it’s harder than we think it is and it’s so valuable and so needed.
Rob Marsh: Well, and especially when we use tools like Microsoft Word or Google Docs or whatever, back in the olden days, before these tools were so available, we wrote everything down on paper. And when you’re writing ideas down on paper, you can’t as easily erase or edit them. And so in a brainstorming session, you might have a pad of three or four pages of really bad ideas. But when we’re typing them into a Google Doc, it’s really easy, I’m writing a headline, I’m like, “Ah, that doesn’t sound quite right.” So you start editing before you even get all of the ideas out. And I just think incorporating more of the process like Nicole described could make us all much better writers. We have to give ourselves permission to just free write and not edit, not go back, not correct the mistakes, because we then sort of lose that edge of creativity that the best ideas come from.
Kira Hug: Yes, that’s a great point. I really, I should use paper and pen more often. So I’m going to do that. We also talked about so much.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. There’s a lot of notes here.
Kira Hug: There’s still so much. So I like that Nicole mentioned, she said, I’m not just a copywriter. I have decades of experience. And that is so important because so many of us forget when we start copywriting or we go into freelance for the first time, we forget all the experience that we bring to the table. And we’ve seen this, I mean, I’ve felt it myself. Rob and I have seen this with the copywriters we work with in the Accelerator Program. And it’s just like, you bring so much to the table. If you outline and write down all the job experiences from the time you were 13 to today, it’s a lot of experience and valuable skills, and problem-solving that you bring to the table. And so I’m glad that Nicole mentioned that and we can all just lean into that a lot more than we do.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Again, I 100% agree with what you’re saying. In fact, there’s this magical time when people are moving from whatever they did before into copywriting, where they have the beginner’s mind, everything’s new, they can ask all of the questions about, why are we doing it this way? And you start to see all of the things that you don’t know. And I think when we do that, oftentimes we make the mistake and ignore all that stuff that came before. And so we’re leaning into the learning, but if we can get better at combining the two, we’ve got the beginner’s mind when it comes to copy and marketing and selling, but we’re leaning on the experience that we’ve had in the past that helps us really step up as experts now. Before we know it, all of the things, again, there’s something magical that can happen at that point in time and we can do a lot more than we give ourselves permission to when we’re just starting out.
Kira Hug: And we kind of wrapped up this part of the conversation talking about how Nicole works with her clients. And she approaches her services thinking about them in a modular way and how they can kind of snap, almost like snap onto each other and the different packages can fit together. And I think that’s a cool way of looking at it as far as like, here’s where we start, here’s the first piece. And then like, here’s another package we could snap on. If you need help with your website or if you need acquisition, here’s another package we could snap on. And it feels agile and it feels creative and fun. And it’s just a different way of looking at your packages rather than just being like, here’s the 10K package and here’s the 1K package. Just think about how they work together and how you could sequence them together in different ways.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I think a lot of copywriters do this intuitively, but they don’t necessarily think about it like this. And I do think if we’re able to talk about it or maybe structure our websites a little bit more the way Nicole was talking about this process, it may help more potential clients see where they can fit into our business. So they don’t necessarily have to start with the first thing on the website and then move on to the next thing, and then the thing after that. They can say, oh, I don’t need thing one, or I don’t need thing two, but thing three fits my needs. And then maybe we bolt on thing one later or however it fits together. So I like that approach too.
Kira Hug: Let’s get back to our interview with Nicole to find out more about her client acquisition process.
Rob Marsh: So I’m curious how you have attracted clients to your business Nicole, because this seems a little bit more complex than saying, oh, I write web copy or I can help you with your social media. So what does the client acquisition for your business look like?
Nicole Morton: Ironically, it is a lot of referrals and I think I know why that is. Because there are a couple things that I’m really, really good at and one is showing up. I have cultivated a number of different networks in my industry and I repeatedly show up. I repeatedly help people brainstorm and build their business, and add value, and collaborate. I’ve had a number of different people from my local business incubator that I have worked on projects with for everything from branding to wireframing. And the same thing is the communities that I’ve become a part of in The Copywriter Club and elsewhere, I’ve gotten, almost all of my business has been referral-based. My clients will come back for new projects. I don’t have to do a lot of cold outreach, which isn’t to say that I couldn’t, that just hasn’t been a particular goal of mine. But I have been very, very fortunate to have cultivated really solid and very lucrative relationships with people in my network.
Kira Hug: Maybe this is getting too granular, but can you talk about how you show up and how you provide value, and you support others? Because again, I think this is just something that comes naturally to you and is part of who you are, but it is something that can work really well when you’re in a group and you want to get the most out of the group, and you want to get referrals. So could you just break it down as far as other tips related to that?
Nicole Morton: Yeah. And it really just depends on what is your intention. My intention with showing up in a group is never to sell myself. Teaching is my natural modality. I am naturally a people pleaser. So use that to your advantage if you need to. But my intention in showing up and being a part of these communities is just that, to be a part of the community. And when I see people who are struggling or who could use some help, even if it’s just bouncing ideas off or being a sounding board for other people in my community, that’s something that I feel very strongly about helping without the intention for reciprocity on the other end. I think that because I can think outside the box, creative problem solving is one of my greatest assets, I think it is very easy for me to show up and just give of my ideas. And it naturally creates trust and opportunities for collaboration down the road. It really just depends on what is your intention going into this interaction.
Rob Marsh: So you mentioned referrals and I’m curious other than the experience of working with you, which usually has a really great outcome, they enjoy the problem-solving. Is there something that you do to ask for referrals, to encourage those referrals or does it just happen naturally?
Nicole Morton: It happens naturally, but I am learning to build a process around that. That is something that I have not really fleshed out in the way that I have grown and scaled my business. So I’m trying to be very intentional in creating just as much nurturing as we transition out of a project, as we do transition into a project, and trying to systematize that process a little bit more. Because as I’m finding that people are finding, how people are finding me either by referral or by return project, being the best-kept secret, doesn’t serve anybody. So the more I can put some social proof behind my ability to convert and my ability to create ROI for my clients is getting me closer and closer to my goals of being a little bit more well known, and having more opportunities to meet new people, and try out new ideas and new ventures.
Rob Marsh: So I know this process isn’t solidified, you’re just starting to do it, but maybe this is a place where the brainstorming kicks in. But as you are thinking about what you can do in your business to make yourself more referable, case studies or social proof, that kind of thing. Are there other things that you are thinking about adding that maybe aren’t part of the system yet, but it’s like, oh, this is what I’m going to be doing and I think this is going to have a pretty good impact?
Nicole Morton: One of the things that I have really made an effort to do is understanding what needs I could serve in a different capacity. So for instance, I have the idea of modular services and these would be anything from, this could be six weeks to six months, depending on how big these projects are. But I can also turn things on a dime in a very small container. So I’ve had colleagues and clients ask, is there a way to, can I just sit on your shoulder and just have you walk me through this one thing that is getting me stuck and keeping me stuck?
And it usually ends up being one of a few things that I’m really, really good at. So it’s either messaging, positioning, figuring out your value prop, figuring out what your X factor is. And so I’ve been able to create this really small container where we can just sit and I’m laser-focused on their needs on one specific process. And we just brainstorm our way out of where they’re getting stuck to come away with an action plan for them to go forward and kind of punch through this thing that’s keeping them from moving forward in their business.
Kira Hug: Can you just share how you price something like that and how other copywriters can think about packaging something like that. Because for ideas people it’s sometimes hard to charge for that part of what we do. And so what are some other tips we can consider when we create our own packages around this type of consulting?
Nicole Morton: It is really hard because the thing that I do best is working one on one in real-time. And it’s really hard to package that when, it’s kind of like when you go to a movie theater and you buy your ticket in advance and you really, really hope the movie is good. So it’s that kind of experience. But I’ve done this enough times and I’ve practiced with enough people that I’ve gotten it down to a 60-minute container where I have a sort of an application that kind of hits on the major pain points of what they’re experiencing and kind of, because when you only have 60 minutes to work within, you need to hit the ground running. So the application kind of orients me and where they are in this discussion in their minds of where they’re getting stuck.
And then it’s 60 minutes of problem-solving that I record. And then they get, at the end of the session, I will give them a written action plan, a copy of the recording, a copy of the transcription of the recording. And then they have an opportunity to connect with me on a following Friday for a really quick back and forth email for if they need support for implementation. And right now that whole thing, right now I have priced at $399. So that’s taking into account the time that I need to prepare for an hour session, conduct an hour session, package up all of the deliverables after that and provide a little bit of post-project support. So it’s a really tight container and it’s nice to squeeze in between larger projects. So if you have a hole that you can see in your calendar for three or four days, maybe you might drop one or two of these sessions in.
Kira Hug: Let’s break it down even further. If I want to offer this for the first time and I feel like this is something I do well, what are you doing during the hour, especially when you’re problem-solving, do you have a structure in place or is it really like, you’re just, you’re brainstorming and it’s just whatever comes to mind? I think this can be really scary even if we know it’s our superpower. It’s just like, ah, how am I going to fill the time? And what if it isn’t valuable? How do I stay on course?
Nicole Morton: Absolutely. Because every time I do this, I’m like, “Okay, this is the time it’s going to break. This is the time that it’s not going to work and they’re going to realize I’m a fraud.” So I understand the hesitation going into that. But the way that I’ve structured, the application really digs into a lot of points of reference that you kind of build a boundary around. Where are you stuck? What have you done before? What has worked? What doesn’t work? What is your goal? What would be a win for you? It’s really getting granular on their experience, their expectations, what their goals are, how they can execute on those goals. What supports do they have in place to be able because we can brainstorm something that is absolutely fantastic, but will not work for their ecosystem whatsoever.
So you need to put a lot of constraints and boundaries into how you can create and execute on a solution for their problem. So getting really granular on those things and understanding what their tolerance is for risk, and what things that they are and are not willing to try. Either, not so much based on hesitancy, but what in their experience do they know for their audience, for their targets, things that are absolutely not going to fly. Take things off the table that I shouldn’t even be focusing my energy on. So it’s getting very granular on what their needs are, what their opportunities are, what their restrictions are and what their capabilities are.
Rob Marsh: Okay. So my next question is probably going to take our discussion in a totally different direction. But I know that you recently decided to move away from freelancing, exclusively for income. Obviously you still do projects with clients and you’re helping people do the brainstorming and figuring out all of the things you’ve just been talking about. But tell us a little bit about the decision to start working for a company again. And I think the reason I’m asking this is because a lot of people who have been freelancing when they move back to a full-time position, even a part-time position, sometimes they feel like that’s a failure or that they’ve given up. And my sense is you don’t feel that way at all and neither do I. But tell us just about that thought process and how you made that decision.
Nicole Morton: Yeah. I can see that feeling. And to be honest, I did have a little bit of that myself, because when you put all of your blood and sweat, and tears, and equity into building this little business or this not so little business to kind of pivot and go back in-house kind of feels like cheating, but it’s not. It really depends on what you need to maintain the lifestyle that is appropriate for you and your family. So for me, right now we are in a position, we’re in a season where we need a little bit more stability and a little bit more predictability than my particular business would afford me. Which is not to say that I can’t still do, I can’t still cultivate my business and maintain my network and still contribute as much as I feel that I can in a lesser capacity than I do now. For me going back to an agency, well, actually it’s not even going back. To be honest, this is my first experience moving into an agency.
So I’ve done it exactly backwards, which is par for the course. For me, it afforded an opportunity to get to know marketing on a different scale with large enterprise clients, which I have not had a chance to work with. I’ve worked with mostly small business owners and service providers. An opportunity to reconnect with my project management skills and an opportunity to work in a team environment, which is one of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur, a solo entrepreneur in particular is that, yes, I have a network that I can leverage for creativity and for feedback, but there was a piece of me that was missing this sort of team building and camaraderie aspect of being a part of a larger system.
So for right now, this is what is working for me and my family. And someone very wise told me that building your business is recognizing that taking this in-house is a choice for my business. Not just that I’m shelving my business, but I’m choosing to pivot my business and bring my skillset to a different environment. So when I reframe it like that and understand it, look at it based on the opportunities and the experience that it’s going to afford me, that when it’s time for me to transition back into entrepreneurship, it’s only going to make me a better service provider.
Kira Hug: As a follow-up to that and maybe this is too soon to answer because you’ve recently started this job. But how are you juggling both? One is, you’re juggling a full-time position and then also continuing to build your business on the side and building your brand and your visibility, even doing podcast interviews like this. How have you worked the two together?
Nicole Morton: It is really acknowledging what my bandwidth is. And so the advantage of working almost exclusively on a project by project basis, as opposed to, I’ve never really had a retainer per se, is that I can collapse and expand my bandwidth for my business as I see fit. So I knew that for, at least for the majority of this year, the only thing that I was going to have time for was to maintain my relationships within my network and take opportunities to keep my name top of mind. So in a podcast like this, maybe doing another round of hot seats in the summer for some creative problem solving with people who might have some opportunities to see how I work on the side. But large-scale projects, no, I understand what my capacity is and what my needs are in this season of my life. So being able to kind of shrink that down to the smallest viable monthly execution for me was super important.
Rob Marsh: And I know you made this transition for stability’s sake. But I’m curious like, okay, now you’re balancing sort of a side hustle of brainstorming copy as well as this in-house position. And of course you’ve still got your family and you want to spend time. How are you making it all work?
Nicole Morton: You have to sacrifice something. So I think I get to take a little less personal time. But again, for this season, that’s what’s appropriate. My youngest is, this is probably the second to last summer that she’s going to really want to hang out with me. So it’s just kind of, you just have to pick your battles. Right now it’s really important for me to show up and be excellent at this new position and to bring all of my skills and talents to the plate for them. And I come from such a different background within the large umbrella of marketing that I’m able to be impactful and really help and bring new ideas, kind of a fresh perspective to what they’re doing.
At the same time, I can still be impactful with my community in participating in group discussions and offering opportunities to meet after hours virtually or in-person and just kind of give of my skills and talents that way. So it really is, I can’t do everything and I can do things, a couple of things really well. So let’s do those and then just fill in the gaps as I can.
Kira Hug: You mentioned earlier that you love to play games. And so I’d love to know, what are some principles from gamification that we could pull into our businesses and maybe pull into our client experiences as well?
Nicole Morton: Ooh, that’s such a good question. I am fascinated with the idea of collection and completion. So one of the ideas that I have for this large modular scale project based deliverables is, for instance, including a map where my clients would be able to kind of watch their journey. And if it’s little pockets of things that they open with messages, or like little scratch off where they can only see what’s happening at different intervals of the project. So being creative in how you are executing your deliverables. Where are the little places you can include surprise and delight? I love this trend for course creators where we have badges. I am a magpie and I will collect all the shiny things.
So I’m highly motivated by completing those kinds of tasks. But, how can you bring surprise and delight? So is it how you interact with milestones? Is it how you onboard and offboard? Do you sneak little rewards or little gifts into your client experience? Ways that you can bring fun and whimsy, and delight into what could be a relatively mundane process. I think any little bit, even if you don’t consider yourself to be creative, I think there are little touches that you can bring into your business that would just kind of bring a little fun and whimsy into the experience.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I like that idea. One of the things that I know you love is kind of a background, one of the places you could have fun is Disney.
Nicole Morton: Yes.
Rob Marsh: In fact, you’re a little obsessed. If I’m not mistaken.
Nicole Morton: You are not mistaken.
Rob Marsh: As you have indulged that side of you and like you said, you’re a nerd advocate. You’re kind of a Disney nerd. Are there lessons from what Disney does at their parks or in their business that you apply to either your creative process or to your own business and the way you work with clients?
Nicole Morton: Oh, I love that so much. The thing that I am most fascinated about the Disney brand is their ability to bring complete immersion to any experience. And that would be either in the parks, on their website, on the Disney Channel, in their stores. The experience of being completely immersed in the brand I think, I don’t know anybody, I should say, I know very few other brands that do it as well as they do. And the fact that there’s always a little bit of wonder, and there’s a little bit of magic in all of the touchpoints in that experience, I think is really, really inspiring and speaks to the child in all of us.
I don’t care what you do for a living. I don’t care if you are an accountant or if you’re a long-haul trucker, everyone’s got a little kid inside them. And for me, it’s really easy to access that. But I think that that sort of experience of awe and wonder, and magic is something that I know I aspire to. And I really, really think that it is an exceptional customer experience.
Kira Hug: We talk a lot about visibility and building your authority in the Think Tank. And Nicole, you already mentioned that you hosted your own large-scale hot seat for your community members a couple of months ago. And so can you just offer some advice for anyone who’s listening and who wants to kind of step into their own authority and increase their own visibility? How did you work your way through that and do something that maybe felt a little uncomfortable initially?
Nicole Morton: I think that’s a really great question. For me, I know that my delivery is best executed in real-time and face to face. So for me, the natural extension of that is a, for a one-on-one container, it’s virtual coaching. In a one-to-many container, that could be a group coaching experience. Or when we want to execute that live and in real-time, what that looked like was a sort of a hot seat experience where I have a group of people on Zoom. I have a select number of people who have applied for a hot seat. And in that particular instance, they were bringing one of the six things that I really focus on in the small group, the one-on-one container that I offer in clarity catalyst coaching. It was very nerve-wracking and I needed a lot of hand-holding, but what it did was leverage my ability to think on my feet, to draw on my experience and to be able to bring my creative problem-solving skills to the fore. That particular venture is not for everybody.
So it really is going to be doing some soul searching about understanding what your skills and talents are, how you best leverage those and how you can translate that into making people understand who you are and what you do. So for instance, if someone is an excellent creative writer, that may be daily blog posts. If it’s somebody who is really good at research and discovery, maybe that is eBooks and white papers. And translating your natural talents into a medium that can get your exposure in front of either networks that you’re a part of or communities that you aspire to, start focusing on ways that you can execute on that and really leverage your communities to help kind of understand and affirm what you are doing best.
So what I mean by that is that we often joke that you can’t read your own label from inside the bottle, and you may need someone who knows you well, either if that’s a coach or a colleague, or even a family member, or a close friend who can kind of help you identify what your best skills and talents are. Because part of the problem that I’ve noticed as I do these small containers is that people assume that what they do well because it’s easy, is not valuable. And that may be the exact thing that you need to be leveraging to promote your visibility because it is so effortless for you.
Rob Marsh: So I’m curious Nicole, knowing where you are in your business and all the things you’re balancing, what comes next for you?
Nicole Morton: I think really understanding where I can straddle the large-scale enterprise marketing that I’m learning how to manage and taking those lessons and translating them into sort of a micro version that I can bring smaller scale to my clients. And if that is building processes around interactions, or if that is learning tools that are applicable not only to large clients but also can really be powerful for smaller clients. For me, it’s really just going to be just learning on the job and translating that knowledge into ways that I can continue to deliver and improve on the value that I bring to my clients in my business.
Kira Hug: And if our listeners want to work with you or get in touch, just chat with you, where should they go?
Nicole Morton: I am in all of the TCC communities. So I love to hang out in the TCC Facebook communities. I can, I think I’m Nicole Morton Agency pretty much everywhere on the socials. And I have a landing page for clarity catalyst coaching @nicolemortonagency.com/clarity-catalyst-coaching. If they wanted to learn more about our consultation that I have, if they’re looking for a way to kind of jumpstart their creativity or figure out a way to kind of push past something that’s keeping them blocked from moving forward in their business.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. You’re so good at the ideas. And I think if somebody is stuck for ideas or stuck for a way to put things together that they’re working on, an hour of your time would be well worth it. So thank you for all the answers that you’ve given us in today’s interview.
Nicole Morton: Thank you so much. This has been such a treat. I have been, this was actually a bucket list item for me. So thank you Rob and Kira for this experience, it’s been an absolute delight.
Kira Hug: And next time Rob and I are stuck on a problem, we are going to book a call with you Nicole because this is your superpower. So thank you again for the interview. We appreciate it.
Nicole Morton: Thanks so much, you guys.
Rob Marsh: That’s the end of our interview with Nicole, but before we wrap, what else stood out to you Kira?
Kira Hug: We talked about showing up and how you can use showing up as a way to get referrals. And this is something that I actually, I’m not great at this. I mean, I join a lot of different programs, masterminds, courses, and I think a lot of us it’s hard to show up and we make excuses. There’s probably some mindset issues baked into that as to why we don’t always show up.
But, with Nicole, we have seen her, she shows up. Like she joined the Underground and she showed up to all the sessions. She joined the Think Tank mastermind, and she was there in just about every session. And not just showing up, but participating, giving back, being fully engaged and not distracted. And in such a way that, I mean, we’re mentioning it in this episode because it’s not typical. And so I guess I’m just pointing it out because I strive to be more like that. I would love to show up because I see the benefit of it and what it can do to a group dynamic, and also how it can serve you if you’re showing up. Like she gets a ton of referrals because she gives back in such a good way and engages in such a positive way.
Rob Marsh: This is the big secret when we talk about, what does it take to grow your business, it really is about showing up. The best copywriter in the world is not necessarily the best paid copywriter in the world. If that person is not showing up, if they’re stuck in their copy cave writing for the few clients that they’re able to reach in their limited world, they can be the best writer in the world, but nobody knows about them. It really is all about showing up and being in places, sharing your knowledge where people can see you, where you can help them and they can talk about you.
And again, it’s the secret. If you’re afraid to show up, you probably won’t ever grow your business to what it could be. And that’s okay if that’s who you are, if that’s the way that you want to be in the world, then that’s great. But if you’ve got a bigger plan, if you want to have a bigger impact, if you want to be able to make money to spread it out to the charities that you love or to help your family in some way, or just your own selfish reasons, the way to do that is to show up and solve problems for people publicly.
Kira Hug: Yeah. And if you know it’s a struggle, like for me I know it’s always a struggle, then just start small and maybe it’s not showing up to a group session and participating, and giving back, and being active in the chat, and raising your hand. But maybe it’s just showing up and sitting in the back of the room or just sitting quietly in a Zoom room and that’s a win. So I think we can all improve in this area if we know it’s a struggle.
Rob Marsh: For sure. I think Nicole’s exact words were being the best-kept secret doesn’t serve you or doesn’t serve anybody.
Kira Hug: Yeah. Like you said, we know plenty of writers who are so talented and are still the best-kept secret and are struggling because of that, and not hitting their goals. So yeah, I think we’ve probably focused on that enough. But what else stood out to you Rob?
Rob Marsh: So we talked a lot about Nicole’s decision, moving from freelance entirely to taking an in-house position. And I just think it’s so important to echo this because a lot of people, as I mentioned when we were talking, they see this as a failure. And it is not failure to do something that’s better for you, better for your family, better for your income. That’s not failure at all. It’s just shifting the way that you’re using your talents. And maybe even focusing better on the things that you do. A lot of us struggle with freelance because we’re not great at finding clients or we’re not great at the backside business side of the things that we do as copywriters.
And if we can find an opportunity that allows us to thrive with the thing that we do the best, which oftentimes is copywriting, marketing, coming up with the ideas, those things, then it’s serving you and I wouldn’t think of it as failure. You might be learning, but if you’re putting yourself in a better position, it’s moving forward and it’s a good thing. And those kinds of in-house positions come with a lot of benefits, like real health benefits, for instance, vacation time, paid time off, you have a team to work with and bounce ideas around with, you get predictability and structure. So all of that stuff is a good thing if that’s the kind of position that you are comfortable working with.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I mean, you’re basically getting paid. I mean, Nicole’s getting paid right now to learn. And I mean, yes, she’s giving back to that agency, but she’s getting paid to learn and then can pull those insights into her business if she chooses to in the future. I think it’s just, we have a long career ahead of us. And so it’s actually more creative to think about, okay, well, I could go back into an agency or I could work for this company, or I could go back to school for a couple of years. Just thinking about all the opportunities and how it could fit together feels more creative. So it’s not surprising that Nicole was able to piece this together for herself and go back into an agency.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, no one’s career path needs to be linear. In fact, very few of our career paths anymore are linear. And like you said, we can jump into a full-time position somewhere, we can jump out when it suits us, we can go to school, we can do all kinds of things. And I think we should be more open to exploring those kinds of opportunities when they come along.
Kira Hug: Yes. So we also talked about working with a team and that was part of the reason that Nicole is excited to work at an agency because she has missed the creative brainstorming you can do with the team, team building. And so that’s something that, I guess this is just more of a share. Like I get a lot from that too, because we have a team with the Copywriter Club now. And it’s just interesting how you can change. I thought I just wanted to be alone and that’s why I wanted to start a business, was just to work alone and not have to deal with other people. And a couple of years later, I enjoy working with you, and Rob and I enjoy working with our team. And so you can do this in many different ways, you could join a team or you could start your own too, which is also really fun where you can kind of create that culture and build it from the ground up.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I’ve always had mixed feelings about a team. I was part of a startup that ended up being acquired and then shut down, and had to lay off a lot of people, and literally the worst day of my life. And at that point in time I swore I would never let that happen again. I was not interested in having people work for me. I think you knew that as we started working together, I was like, “No, we’re not doing teams. We don’t need a VA.” I pushed against that a lot. And I have to say I’ve changed my mind about that a bit. The people that help us with The Copywriter Club, this team is amazing. And every time we finish our weekly team meeting, I’m just so gratified that we have such smart people helping us do the things that we’re trying to do and helping the whole copywriting world get better at this thing that we do together.
Kira Hug: What else stood out to you in this last part of the conversation?
Rob Marsh: So we kind of ended up, but just by talking about stepping into your authority, increasing your visibility. I know we might be repeating that show-up idea just a little bit, but using that experience and leveraging that in communities, oftentimes it feels easy, so we don’t do it, but we underestimate the impact that has on our business sometimes because it’s so easy. So I just think it’s worth repeating whatever it is, especially if it feels easy, keep doing it, step up, get visible, be out there publicly because showing up is important. Again, sorry if I’m repeating something that we kind of talked about earlier.
Kira Hug: That’s important. And Nicole, she wanted to start kind of creating a space where she could create more impact and help more people beyond one-on-one services. So she created that event that we talked about, where it was really like a hot seat session. She invited a ton of people to attend, and it worked for her because she knew that she did well with hot seats. Whereas maybe hosting a presentation and running slides, although Nicole can do that well, she can do everything well, but she didn’t choose something that didn’t work for her.
She chose something that was fun, easy, and part of her X factor, thinking on the fly. And so when we’re thinking about stepping into our authority and focusing on visibility on a larger scale, it could be something that just works well for you and not doing what works well for everyone else. And I think for us, Rob, like for me, the podcast and what we’re doing today always feels easy and fun, and energizing, and that’s why we keep doing it. But there’s so many other activities we could do that are so draining. And so it’s different for everybody, but just focus on what does not drain you and energizes you as your marketing and scaling the business.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. That’s great advice. And like you said, Nicole does that thing well, so that’s what she starts doing. And I think all of us should look at our skill sets and say, okay, what is the thing that I’m doing really well? How do I do this publicly? How do I show this off? And in Nicole’s case, it’s brainstorming, it’s working through those problems in a creative way. For you, it may be copywriting. How can you show that to the world more? Or if you show up on video and you do that well, maybe you’re great with TikTok dances and you want to make that part of how you show up. All of these things are ways that we can get noticed and build our authority. There’s not really a bad idea if you enjoy it if your audience enjoys it and it’s getting you out there.
Kira Hug: I assume it’s a podcast for you too.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Probably podcasting for me. Maybe there’s a reason why we haven’t switched over to video. That’s a little bit more of a struggle, but I’d like to expand that too. I’d like to do more.
Kira Hug: Yes. If you want to connect with Nicole and we recommend that you do, because she’s awesome, we’ll leave her information in the show notes. And if you have any interest in jumping into the Think Tank, again, Nicole is the Think Tank alumni member, we recommend you do it sooner rather than later since the price tag is about to jump up. And you can do that by heading to copywriterthinktank.com. We’ll link to it in the show notes.
Rob Marsh: And if you’re thinking, wait, this can’t be the end of the episode. I want to listen to more-
Kira Hug: Anybody thinking that.
Rob Marsh: Be sure to check out our interview with Shannon McCaffery about product launches, that’s episode 124. And our episode with Parris Lampropoulos about what he’s learned from his mentors. That’s a really good episode, number 201, and how you can apply that to your own business. And before we leave, we just wanted to actually read one of the reviews that we got this week. We encourage you guys to listen and leave a review on iTunes. And this past week, Kylie Padwick left us a five-star review. Thanks Kylie. She said, I’ve been listening to this podcast for a long time now, but each episode brings something new and valuable to take away. It’s just a short review. And then she said, she loved the episode with Tyler J. McCall. That was one we recorded just a few weeks ago. So thanks Kylie for sharing that. And if you want us to mention you on the podcast, maybe leave us a review and we’ll see if we can do that.
Kira Hug: Yeah. We get really excited when we see those reviews. So thank you. All right. That’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. The outro is composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Muntner. If you liked what you’ve heard today, share a screenshot of the episode with your favorite takeaway and tag us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. So, okay. So take a screenshot of it and then post a little sentence or two about your favorite takeaway, and then please tag us. We appreciate it if you do that. We’ll see you next week.