TCC Podcast #398: Figuring Things Out with Lauren Esmay - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #398: Figuring Things Out with Lauren Esmay

The number of people who have listened to all 400+ episodes of The Copywriter Club is likely small. Probably fewer than 100. But today’s guest on The Copywriter Club Podcast is trying to add to that number. Copywriter Lauren Esmay has been listening to every episode and posting about them on LinkedIn. We talked about that as well as how she’s built her business over the past few years and what’s coming next. Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.


Stuff to check out:

The P7 Client Attraction System
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground


Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh: In the next couple of weeks we’ll post the official 400th episode of this podcast. Unofficially we’re already past that number as we’ve had a handful of un-numbered episodes posted between the official one. If you were going to listen to every episode, I estimate it would take you about 14 days or so without stopping to eat, sleep or do anything else. I’m not suggesting you do that… but I’m not NOT suggesting that you do it either.

Hi, I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of The Copywriter Club. And on today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira Hug and I interviewed copywriter Lauren Esmay. Lauren recently took it upon herself to listen to every episode of this podcast and she’s been posting her take aways from each episode on LinkedIn. Looking back on what she shares has reminded me of a lot of great, forgotten advice and ideas and insights shared by so many smart copywriters over the years. And as you’ll see as you listen to today’s episode, Lauren has used this content tactic to connect with a who’s who of experts in the copy and marketing world. That’s not all we talked about, so stick around to here more about Lauren’s story.

Before we jump into the interview, you know I’m going to talk a bit about the best copywriter community The Copywriter Underground. We are working hard to make it the most valuable copywriting community and training vault available anywhere. So we’re constantly adding the latest information and help for our members.

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And with that, let’s go to our interview with Lauren.

Kira Hug: Lauren, how did you get started as a copywriter?

Lauren Esmay: So first, thanks for having me. My way into copywriting is much like many other people I’ve talked to. There was no linear path. I have several degrees in psychology and I went to med school for a bit. I did a lot of different things that I’m just like, I know I want to help people and this is how I’m going to show up. I tried to find places that I thought could make me financially successful and I just kept realizing that I was not happy in these places. And at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the place that I was working for—we took several different crisis lines including high risk suicide crisis lines and veterans crisis lines. It just became very overwhelming for me. And I also had just started my PhD. I’m like, well, what am I going to do? Like I need money. I can’t afford to quit. And one of the projects that I had started for the place I was working, the nonprofit, was putting together a resource list when a lot of the inpatient treatment programs began to get capped for their wait list. 

So we had to find plan Bs for these people that needed immediate treatment. And that’s when I started looking at these websites and I was like, these people have credibility with their degrees and 20 plus years of experience, but it’s 2020 and so much lives online. I don’t trust this enough to put this into my resource list. And I was trying to, I’ve always been a very analytical person. And so I was trying to distinguish, well, what does this website lack that others make me feel like I trust that person? So I’m going through this and I have three different lists of this is definitely someone I’m going to put into this resource list. This is someone I’m going to call and talk to them more about what they offer and how they can help these clients. And then the third list of absolutely not. And around the same time, my husband, who is also a therapist, was beginning to think about going into his own private practice and when I decided that I wanted to quit my job, I was like, well, what if I try to make your website? And he’s like, well, I have no interest in that. So if you think that you could do it, I’m all for it. So around that time, just because of algorithms I started getting ads for copywriting courses. I found a really cheap, like $500 copywriting course. And I was like, well, I’m going to try this. And if I decide that I don’t want to do this, I feel like at least I can build a few skills. And that was my entryway into copywriting, I started finding a few different other therapists that I knew were transitioning into private practice. And I started writing websites.

Rob Marsh: You bounced around a bit, like med school, PhD. Was this just a process of finding the thing that you wanted to do or what else was going on?

Lauren Esmay: So it’s interesting, looking back at like even electives that I took in college, like I took creative writing courses. I took a lot of statistics courses that I didn’t need to take just because I have always enjoyed things like analytics and measuring different outcomes… I took several philosophy courses I didn’t need because they were heavily relying on writing and seeing different points of views. I think I’d always been interested in writing, but I grew up thinking you can’t make money writing. Anytime I would take time away from work, I’d be like, I don’t want to go back to work because I’m not interested in this. This isn’t fulfilling to me. 

And so when I started doing these projects, and some of the projects, even in the beginning, I was getting paid more for one project than I would get paid in a month at my other job. And I was like, I could easily live off of this just like with the experience I have right now. During this time as well, I’ve still been finishing my PhD. So I’m in the dissertation part now. It’s been a lot of switching from academic writing to copywriting, which I learned is not as easy as some people may think. And so I jumped around a lot. And I think that I used to think that learning was linear, but a lot of times learning now is like learning what you don’t want in life to get to where you are happy and to get to the path that you want to be on.

Kira Hug: Yeah, and Rob, I don’t think you know this, but Lauren and I went to the same college. We both went to Virginia Tech.

Rob Marsh: Oh, nice. You were like best friends at school, right?

Kira Hug: I wish. No, I was a couple year ahead. Only a few years. Only a couple years. But the statistics classes, I definitely took the only one I had to take, and then I missed the exam somehow. So I was probably in the art gallery at the time, missing my exams. So a different experience there. But I’m wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more about your experience in the academic world, especially since you’re currently in your PhD program and wrapping it up. There are probably other writers who are interested. We’re all into personal development and learning. And so that could be interesting to other writers. Like, what do you wish you would have known or someone would have told you before getting into that path? Maybe even just with med school to both speaking to both.

Lauren Esmay: Sure. I think it’s important to know too, that I grew up in a very rural part of the Southwestern part of Virginia. And so it’s a place that most people don’t get out of, but if you do, you never return. I just knew growing up that if I wanted to be financially successful and in better shape than when I grew up, that I needed to go to college. And also, I think that I entered college right as the recession of 2008 was in its full swing. And so it was, it was heavily being pushed on kids as young as middle school to know exactly what they wanted to do for the rest of their life—I just turned 35—and I think that is completely ridiculous because I clearly had no idea what I wanted at that time. 

I actually chose Virginia Tech because they have both a nutrition program and a psychology program, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I went to a school that offered both. So if I switched majors, I didn’t have to switch schools. And ironically, I switched out of the nutrition major because they were going to make me take organic chemistry, which I needed to take for med school. So I ended up taking that. In taking organic chemistry, that has honestly taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life and that was—I just loathed the fact that I was going to have to take organic chemistry. I heard all the horror stories, all of the like, I failed three times before I finally passed stories—I did try to take it during a summer course, which I definitely don’t do not recommend unless you’re really into chemistry. But I took both semesters, took both labs, and I did fine. What I learned from that is it didn’t matter how much I didn’t want to take something or go through something in life. If I put my head and time and effort into it, I can succeed. I stayed up A lot of nights thinking, I don’t know why I’m doing this. But even though I decided to leave medical school, I think that was like one of the most important things that I got out of that few years. 

And I think that however many years now, like 12 or 13 years since I left undergrad, I think that we’re starting to see things a lot differently instead of like, well, you have to go get this degree and this degree. And then maybe a third degree if you want to be financially stable. And I think for me, it was always looking into a lens of I needed this education to prove myself. I needed this education to prove myself that I was smart enough and that I knew what I was doing for jobs. And especially in this field and copywriting and even in marketing, like people have lots of different degrees. And one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is most of the time, no one cares about if you even have a degree, they just care about your experience and your work, like what you’re able to do. And I think that honestly, academics for me has gotten in the way because I keep thinking, well, I’m smart enough. So why can’t I get these jobs? And it’s because I’m not actually showing up and haven’t done some of the work when I was first trying to pitch people. I think for me, one of the biggest things that I would say to someone in academia right now is if they are considering switching over, is make a few spec pieces in an industry or two that you’re really interested in, whether it has anything to do with your academic background or not. Learn a little bit about copywriting. There’s tons of free resources out there on the internet. And just start talking to people about like what you can do for them and ask around because like, especially like in my earlier parts, getting into copywriting, I just had to like talk to a few people that I knew and if they didn’t have a business, if they needed help, they knew someone that did. And that was really hard for me because I’m really introverted. And I also struggled with this, this idea of like, well, if they see that I’m asking for this work, then they’re going to think that I failed in this academic pursuit. And I’m sometimes so hard on myself that I’ve gotten my own way. But I would just say like, go for it and at least try some things out. Because even if you decide that it’s not for you, and you don’t like doing the work, you’re not going to know until you try and get your hands dirty, so to speak.

Rob Marsh: That’s good advice. So Lauren, since you got to that point where you’re seeing those websites, you can make more money doing this than the day job. What have you done in your business to start to grow and develop what you are building today?

Lauren Esmay: So that’s, I mean, if I could go through each step of the way of my process, I can tell you that I have been my biggest obstacle during all of it. Um, And I that’s something that even a few months ago, I think that I would have been too insecure to even admit, but I’m starting to see that it’s actually like a growing point as I’m talking to people that are just starting out. Because I think that there’s a lot to be said about just trying to jump in and get experience. So honestly, I think it was just really overwhelming when I left. the mental health field. I was just completely burnt out and I wasn’t really sure. I kept saying, well, what if this doesn’t work out? Then what am I going to do? And I was still applying for jobs in the mental health field. And I’m completely serious when I say, like, I applied to over a thousand jobs during probably like that first year. And I kept running into this, this obstacle of, I didn’t want to pour my heart and soul into what I was doing for work because I was still completing my school. And so I think that I was just like applying to jobs that I was overqualified for. And so I wasn’t getting jobs that I was applying for, even though it’s like, I need money.  I kept this mentality of, well, if this works out, this is what I’ll do. This is what I really enjoy, but also I’ve spent so much money and time in school. So like, I don’t want to shed that identity. And a lot of times I just kind of get hung up on in this rat race of, well, this is my identity. This is what I’ve spent so many years working for. Instead of going back to these reflections of like, but this new thing that I’m doing that fulfills me in a way that none of these other jobs have ever done. Like that’s what I need to be spending more of my energy on. And so, um, you know, I kept taking projects, um, about this time last year, I started working for a marketing agency, um, that needed some help. And I think that I was kind of using that position as a way of like, well, if this is something that I like also doing in other niches, then I’m going to get really serious about my business. And so I started that job last May. And then when the accelerator opened up this last September, I was like, I’m going to do this and really kind of go back and build like the foundation of my business that I felt like I had just kind of jumped over some of the key important parts because I felt it was too hard or like, well, that’s for like real business owners. I’m not a real business yet. And the accelerator really just made me think, like, change my, my way of thinking instead of like, if this works out to this is going to work out, this is my business, this is my career path, this is what I want to do with my life. And so going back and like building those like key foundations was like, the biggest thing that’s really been helpful for me in the past, I guess, eight months now, um, to just kind of have that structure and have people that were kind of along the way, because up until that point, I wasn’t talking to other people that were copywriters. I wasn’t even in the marketing agency that I was working with. No one really knew what copywriting was. Um, and so it was just a way for me to kind of take a step back, see the bigger picture and kind of rebuild. Um, and from there, I’m busier than I ever was in like the first two years.

Kira Hug: Okay. There’s a lot in there I want to talk about, but I can’t skip over your applying to 1000 jobs in the past. You said in a year or roughly a year.

Lauren Esmay: Yeah. Like I, so, um, here, I think, you know, this about me that, uh, I’m a, I’m a huge animal lover. I have two dogs and three cats now. So it’s a mini zoo, but one of the things that I did when I was working out in Portland when I first started this crisis line position was I would work from 6 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and I just needed something else before I went home, something that would get me in a better frame of mind. So I started walking dogs. I would walk at least a dog before I went home to also just kind of make some extra money. And so like I was, I started walking dogs and taking care of animals again on the side. So that helped. But, um, I would typically walk a few in the morning and some in the evening, but like from eight to five, I was applying for jobs and tinkering my resume and, doing all this stuff that looking back, I’m like, I feel like I wasted so much time. But at the same time, I think it gave me a real glimpse into the job industry and where it was in 2021 and 2022, which also has shifted how I see job security.

Kira Hug: Okay. Well, let’s talk a little bit about that because my question, I guess, is just how do you deal with that type of rejection, like a thousand jobs. And I ask that because you also are really great at pitching and developing this discipline that we’ve seen firsthand, where you are, you’ll pitch five people a day, three people a day and do it consistently. And you don’t seem to get down about any rejection involved in that prospecting system. So I guess like, how, how do you view that after applying to all those jobs? And then I have the follow-up question about the market, the job market, which we can, or job security.

Lauren Esmay: Okay. Um, I guess I’ve never really thought about this, but I think that all of those rejections really help strengthen, like how I am rejected. So, um, at that point I had never not gotten a job that I had applied to. So that was really hard for me because I’m also, Super perfectionist, which is something that I work daily at shedding. And so, like, you know, I applied for a handful of jobs the first week thing and okay, well, within a week, I’ll hear back from something. No, because at that point, I hadn’t applied for jobs in like, five years. And I was not used to not getting accepted into a school or a job that I applied to. And I was like, well, this is strange. And so I started applying for more and I kept getting rejected and I got really down on myself about it. Um, but, um, my husband was always like, well, if they’re not responding to you, then that’s also not the type of person that you would want to work with because he knows how much I value communication. And, um, you know, I even went through a few courses on teaching me how to, um, redo my resumes at, you know, in this job market that still wasn’t landing me anything. And, um, I think what it, I think what it really taught me is that. I can handle rejection and be okay with it while still continuing to to work on the things that I do love whether that was at some points I had started just like filling my days with taking care of animals because that was paying me money instead of like focusing on only applying to jobs But also at the same time, I think that if I would have gotten one of those jobs full time, then I probably would have stepped away from copywriting. And I don’t think that, um, looking back, like, I don’t think I would have been happy with any of those jobs. So I would have just kept, you know, reinventing the wheel to get to where I am now just much later.

Kira Hug: And about job security, you said that gave you a glimpse or changed your view on job security. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Lauren Esmay: Yeah. So, Um, and I mean, even in this last position that I had with the marketing agency, um, that kind of solidified this as well. I think society conditions people that if they don’t have a 40 hour a week, nine to five job, then they don’t have a real job and that freelancing is not a real job. Iit’s not job security. It wasn’t secure for me to waste my time on all these job applications. Then I would just like, you know, I applied at first to several with like the method that I’d always applied to. I was like, well, why aren’t I like at least hearing something back? And, um, then I was like, okay, well maybe I’ll go in and change this and I’ll change that. So I was like, you know, doing AB testing just with my resume. And I was like, Well, I’m actually making money doing freelancing, and I’m not making money applying to jobs. And especially in today’s age, I hear my friends struggle with it all the time that some of them have just gotten laid off out of nowhere. So if I’m, if I’m the one in control of who I’m working with, and who I’m pitching, then that gives me job security, where other people that may have nine to five jobs don’t have job security that, you know, their companies are struggling financially. So they’re laying them off. And, you know, that can definitely happen to us as copywriters, but we typically have two or three or more people that we’re working with at a time. So if one person has to back out and can’t go through with a contract, um, we still have these other people that we can fall back on.

Rob Marsh: Yeah. It sounds like, you know, if you’ve got to choose between applying for and being rejected for jobs versus applying for and being rejected by potential clients, I mean, you might as well go for the one that brings you joy, right? Right. Exactly. Yeah. So let’s talk about how you go after clients then, because clearly, you know, that level of rejection and the number of times that you tried finding jobs has an impact on your approach. What are you doing as you go out and pitch?

Lauren Esmay: So I started probably about a year ago, I started making small lists of people I wanted to work with. And I’m going to be completely honest with you and tell you that because I have primarily worked with therapists, I was mainly working or looking for clients in the mental health space. And that isn’t financially viable. I definitely learned that if I want financial security, I need to be talking to people that have more money that they can pay me. That’s where I’m currently pivoting right now in my career. One of the niches that I’ve done some work in is the psychedelic industry. Last year, I went out to Denver for a psychedelic conference and kind of as a way of like, that’s it when, cause I still plan to use my degree when I complete it as kind of like a side thing. And that’s where I would like to show up is, um, helping research in psychedelics specifically for mental health issues. And so I went out there on like a student pass and. I am typically someone that I go to these conferences with and I’m overwhelmed and I don’t talk to people. But I was, I almost kind of felt like, well, these people are kind of like me, they’re kind of weird. You kind of have to be a little weird to be interested in some of that stuff. And I was just able to have these like genuine conversations with people. 

So I remember one day I was like, it’s just my mission to go to like the expo and get all of the marketing material that I can, so I can save that for later use. And so over the past, I don’t know, several months, I started really increasing my own process and system with who I’m putting into my leads that I want to be working with. So what I’ve done over the last, I would say, three months is I kind of divided them into people I felt were people that if I get a rejection, I don’t really care. It’s kind of just like a safe budget people that I’m actually interested in. Maybe not even working with right now, but having ongoing conversations with, and then people that I want to eventually work with that I don’t feel comfortable reaching out right now. And so I’ve kind of toyed between the people. that feel confident that i can at least get some response with and the people that i’d like to at least start building a relationship with and it’s been interesting to me over the last especially i would say two months of shifting how i see pitching um i used to pitch in a way of like oh i’m a copywriter i’ve especially if i was like pitching therapists or people in the mental health space I spent 10 years in the mental health field. I would talk about some of the work that I’ve done in building websites, but I would never talk about what I could actually do for them. And it was, it was a pitch and it wasn’t, they weren’t good ones. And sometimes I would get responses, but most of the time I wouldn’t. And so probably, Two months ago, I started personalizing them a little more, and I think that that started getting higher responses. But what I’ve done recently is just don’t even really worry about the pitch in the first email. Just tell them like, you know, like, this is what I do. I’m reaching out to talk to you about X, Y, or Z. That’s typically something about an interest that they are working in. And people love to talk about themselves. And so it creates a very genuine relationship and conversation to move forward. And that’s where I’ve found the most success. And I think a lot of people are struggling to find clients right now. And I don’t see a no as being no forever, I see it as, I don’t have the budget right now. So it’s no for now, but maybe not even in a month or several months. So that’s where I really pivoted with my pitching process to just see what wasn’t working, things that I could change that were working. And honestly, just having genuine conversations with people is a much better way to find clients than to be like, I need this money right now.

Kira Hug: Can you share just some specific language? You don’t have to read a pitch out loud, unless you want to, but just like, what are some of the key elements of this new version of the pitch?

Lauren Esmay: A lot of it goes back to, um, a lot of roles that I’ve been in in the past to have been in training roles. And for me, I understand that. I need to get someone to really listen to me i need to start off with a compliment before i go into constructive criticism so a lot of times i’ll tell them how I found them what i really appreciate about their website or what they’re doing for whatever community they belong to and then i’ll go into more like you know, this is what I’ve, uh, helped other people do. And here are a few like suggestions that you may be able to implement to, to like, um, help your website. And sometimes I was just like adding a few pictures of themselves because especially like, and it’s a, especially in the psychedelic world, it’s a fine line just because of all of the, you know, rules and regulations around it. So a lot of people don’t want to really have their face being seen. But even just having graphics in general can be helpful instead of just like only words, because that seems kind of sketchy. And another thing that I started doing two to three months ago was adding in loom videos just so they can also see that I’m not I’m not a spam bot that have a real face. I talk like a real person. And I think that for me, at least like, and probably this is because I worked five years on crisis lines that you can tell a lot about communication and someone’s voice and tone. So for me, that’s what that translates to. And pitching is, I’m not coming in with like, this is why you need to hire me because I can you know, do so much better with your website and give you lots more business, but it’s more of a like, uh, I’m here to encourage you to, because like, I see that you also want to make your business more financial or financially stable or whatever it seems like they’re going for. Um, so it’s just like being able to have, I don’t know, more of like a, almost like a conversation with them, um, before, ever being on like a, a one-to-one video call with them.

Rob Marsh: So I’m going to change topics just a little bit. You mentioned writing for this particular part of the health world—psychedelics and those kinds of things. Obviously there are some restrictions. A lot of copywriters know about the restrictions in law called DSHEA. And obviously there are some other restrictions when you’re writing in any kind of health field around privacy, but talk about some of the differences in reaching out to those clients and working for clients who have psychedelic products versus say, you know, just any old product. What are you having to think about differently?

Lauren Esmay: Most of the people that I have reached out to have, I’ve at least know someone else that has been connected with them usually. Especially with psychedelics. I feel like this is where I also leverage more on my academic background. For me at least it’s like, well if I have if I have an understanding as to like why psychedelics are useful right now and can connect with them in that way then they see it as I’m a more credible source than a person that’s like, oh, I want to work with you because I want access to free mushrooms to get high for recreational purposes. Because I’ve gotten those emails before and not only does it make me want to delete them super quickly, it makes me want to write really, I don’t know, strong wording back to them because those are the types of people that are holding the psychedelic community back. So one of the things that I started doing almost a year ago was there is a non-profit organization that I began writing blogs for. And this particular non-profit, they fund research for psychedelics specifically for opioid use. disorder, like the treatment for opioid use disorder. And so I was able to talk to them about my background, specifically like in mental health, and also talking to them about psychedelics in general and where I am stronger with the research. And so What I do for them right now is I write their blogs to not only educate the public, but also kind of meet the public where they are. So a lot of times I’m throwing in stats about veterans or younger people with substance use disorder so they can really relate to those types of people. Because I think that unfortunately, almost all of us know people that have fatally overdosed. I think most of us also understand at least some of the struggles of veterans, especially returning from war, and that’s where a lot of the research is. So it’s a way to kind of show up in an academic sense, but also connect with people. And I think that in the psychedelic community specifically, there’s kind of two tracks. It’s either for recreational use or only for academic use. So being able to merge those two right now, I think, is extremely important. So being able to show people those examples of where I have written to merge those two has been really useful. And just having an honest conversation to the people I’m pitching I think that’s been really helpful that I’m not just like cold pitching out of nowhere, that I have people to back me up.

Kira Hug: Let’s talk about your wins from prospecting. Now we’ve talked about how you do it, what you’re doing, but you have had some success and I think sometimes it’s positive to hear that because so many writers we know just give up on prospecting after a couple of pitches.

Lauren Esmay: That’s where over the last few months, changing the way I’ve done it has been extremely helpful. I think before the beginning of this year, I’d only gotten one or two clients from cold pitching, I guess only one. And so that was like, kind of my goal when I started coaching with Kira was I wanted to get like one cold prospect because it’s like I to me is like I have control over who I work with, but I also need to be able to get those people to respond. And so. I guess over the last. Three months, I’ve had six or seven wins with prospecting that I’m like actually doing work for the people now, but out of those out of a lot of those people I’ve at least connect with on LinkedIn, or I have engaged in a back and forth conversation with them via email about, you know, what their next project is, when they plan to launch it. So I have those in my calendar to like, go back and like, follow up with them, you know, and whether it’s two weeks or three weeks, and another member of the underground started talking about how she creates follow-ups as she’s writing the pitches. And I think that that’s also been really helpful, not just in a time-saving way, but at least for me, I’ve already formulated the language from the initial email. So I try to match that language throughout the two follow-ups that I write out. And so that way it’s like a continuation instead of like, oh, I’m reaching out again. So it’s a lot easier to connect with as well.

Kira Hug: Yeah, and you not only are prospecting, you’re building your visibility and kind of making these connections, but also showing up, sharing your expertise on LinkedIn and in other ways. So how do you approach that element of it and the visibility piece in a way that works for you?

Lauren Esmay: I think that when I, I realized that I needed to start showing up because I don’t know who said it, but someone was like, no one knows that you’re out there ready to work unless you tell them. And I was trying to figure out, well, which platform do I want to really show up on? And I also used to kind of be in the mindset, well, I don’t feel like I have anything to share with the world that anyone else has it. And I found that to be not true. Um, because even though someone may say something in a very similar way, um, I have my own way of saying it. And, um, that may resonate better with someone than, um, someone even more credible than me that says the exact same thing, just maybe a different spin or different wordage that I use may connect with someone, um, in a, in a more positive light. So, um, I started, I want to say maybe late January or early February, I started a challenge of, I was going to post on LinkedIn daily and I didn’t know what that was going to look like. And then, I don’t know. I got this crazy idea that I was like, at the beginning of the year, because I had been in the accelerator and realized, I’ve kind of jumped from step one to step five, and so many of these processes, but I’ve also left my business at step one on so many. So I wanted to go back to the foundation to step one on everything and then begin to build. 

In my head, it was like, well, what if I went back and started listening to all of the old Copywriter Club Podcasts? And this feels really meta right now. It was either right before the beginning of the new year, or right after I started listening to them. And it became my like, workout buddy—that’s what I would listen to as I was working out. Or just doing mundane tasks at home. And I started realizing that because I was in the mindset, I was like, I feel like so much of this is going to be outdated that I’m not going to be able to get too much. But what I started realizing is while we’re in a different, like financial climate and even digitally, we’re in a different environment. I started realizing that a lot of these key concepts were useful no matter if it was 2016 or now. And so I was like, I had started connecting with people of different stages in their copywriting career. So I just started doing like a few recaps of like, I knew that doing 10 and in a recap was going to be too much. And even now sometimes I feel like having five people in a recap is, I can’t get out everything I would like to say about that person. So I started posting two times a week and I would recap five episodes for each post and pulling out one thing that I thought would be useful and just talk a little bit about it. So if someone wanted to revisit, like, well, I’m interested in just I know a topic that’s been talked about a lot is cold outreach, I can go back to this episode and listen to what this person has to say. So I started doing that. And I think that even in listening to a lot of these older episodes, it started helping me where I felt like I could generate ideas. And where I could generate content that I wanted to talk more about. And so that’s where I’ve consistently shown up and I think that where I want to go from here with that is I haven’t done the best job of talking to the like the audience of the people I want to be working with so I think that that’s where I’m going to start shifting in the next week or so of where I’m posting that it’s tailored more to the people I want to be working with instead of the people that I’m working in the same field as.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, I think that’s probably going to be a smart shift while we’re talking about this project of you reviewing the old episodes of the Copywriter Club Podcast and posting your takeaways. I know you’ve posted about 40 or 50 of them. You’re getting close to 50 of those that you’ve listened to so far. Like what are the top two or three takeaways?

Lauren Esmay: Today, I think I just recently posted up to 80.

Rob Marsh: Oh, okay. So I’m behind. LinkedIn hasn’t told me your most recent posts. So, okay. Well, yeah, let’s, let’s say of those first 80 podcasts, and that’s probably our first year, a little bit more than our first year, because we used to post two a week, but way, way back in the day. What are your favorite takeaways?

Lauren Esmay: One of my favorite people to listen to is Tepsi. She just needs to go by the name Tepsi because that in itself is a brand. And I said a little bit about this when I talked about Tepsi was that I used to have a very unique name that was my entire personality and my entire brand because I grew up running cross country and playing softball. So, if they said my name and my district and even my region, sometimes they knew exactly who they were talking about. And I think that she does a really good job at the opposite of what I was saying about myself. I feel like I’ve often done this thing of second guessing myself and just not feeling like I could show up and do this work. And she, I think the very first episode she was on was like 26 or 27. And she talks about how she just took on this project that she wasn’t really expecting to fall in love with. And she loved it in that she’s like, this is what I want to do. And she never really looked back. And she just shows up with a lot of confidence that I feel like I’ve often struggled with. Then in this last episode, I think it was like 70 something that she was on. She talks about how she went through a depression and how that impeded her workflow and systems. And I think that that’s really important to talk about in this space. And not only just from a mental health aspect, but I think that in our line of work, we often get burnt out and unlike a nine to five, we don’t just have another team member that can help us with some of our projects. Like it’s all on us. And so, um, learning how to navigate burnout and like when stuff like that comes up, she, I think that she does a really good job at talking about that. And then I feel horrible that I don’t know how to pronounce this name, but it was a more recent episode that I listened to.

Interestingly enough, like in almost every episode, it’s like, Oh, I can identify myself with that. And I can, I can see myself in that. But in episode 82 Eman Zabi, I think that’s how you say it. I think that she was 23 when she was on the episode and she talks a lot about showing up in an outdoor industry that was formerly kind of dominated by males. And I learned so much from her episode. It is one of the more recent ones I’ve listened to, but I think that even in months, this will still probably be one of my favorite ones because there are so many parallels of our lives. 

I feel like she also shows up in this way that, it’s kind of the opposite of my own insecurities and places that I have failed to show up in my business. And so I’ve learned. So much from that episode and also just kind of planning out where I want to go from here and how I see my business changing and even the next month or two. But I also, I say that, and I really enjoy listening to some of these people that like, have been in the business since before I was even born because it’s, to me, it’s like, this is a field that you can really learn from some of the, like, hardcore experts. And a lot of their advice is still very solid today.

Kira Hug: Where does this project go from here for you?

Lauren Esmay: When I first started it, I wasn’t even sure I’d make it to 50. And in the next couple of weeks, I’ll obviously be getting to 100. And a month ago, I was even thinking, well, maybe I’m just going to stop at 100. But no, I don’t think I can because I didn’t plan to stop listening to it. I just don’t like another aspect that I have also started doing is like when I post each post, I do tag each person in it. If they have LinkedIn, then I’ll send her a connection request and thank them for their advice that they had on the podcast and just kind of tell them like where I am and ask if it’s okay to connect. And I feel like over the last few weeks I’ve had at least 80% of people not only like accepting my request, but also we have a little bit of a conversation. So I think I’m just going to continue doing that. Because one thing I did forget to mention that I think is really important is I did mention I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s really hard sometimes for people, especially in academia, to go from the top of something to just you’re kind of in the middle or in this situation, kind of starting all over. And I realized that I constantly was surrounding myself with people that were on lower levels than me, which, um, I think that that’s where a lot of my insecurity of trying to reach out to people that knew more than me, um, came from. Cause I was like, well, they’re just going to think that I’m really dumb and inexperienced, which isn’t true at all. And so I think that there are a few people throughout the episodes I’ve gone back and listened to that one of their top pieces of advice is to surround yourself with people that are at higher levels than yourself. And once I started doing that, that’s where I started getting some really good feedback and learning the bigger pieces that I felt like were missing.

Kira Hug: What would you recommend to someone who wants to do a similar project? Not this project, but something that’s a big overtaking and, um, or undertaking and maybe a little overwhelming at the beginning. What would you, what advice would you give them?

Lauren Esmay: Just start it. I think that, um, we procrastinate on starting because we think of all the ways that, um, it’s not going to work out or that you’re going to get bored by it. And maybe you do. But I just think that instead of looking at those drawbacks of it, try to look at the positives that you can get out of it. I recently read a book called success through failure and I picked it up at a used bookstore and the title of it was interesting to me. And I was like, well, I’m going to read this. I don’t even know what it’s about, and I’m going to read it. And it turns out that it was written by a Duke professor in an engineering department that he based his whole career on investigating how bridges were built, and more specifically, how they failed, which was incredible timing that I finished the book the day before the Baltimore Bridge collapsed. And this professor passed away last year, but I was thinking he would take that and run with it. And so it’s what he teaches, he taught in a manner of like, okay, so this bridge collapsed, but there are so many things you can learn how it collapsed. And you can also learn the things that were implemented as to why it stayed up as long as it did. And so by combining those two, you can move forward. And so one of the things that I’m really challenging myself as a perfectionist is, okay, so this thing didn’t work out, but it’s not all invalid. So what did I, what did I learn through the process that I can take with me to my next project?

Rob Marsh: Lauren, as we wrap up or come to the end of our hour together, earlier you mentioned your work on crisis lines. And I’m curious, really two questions. One is what you learned from that experience that informs your copywriting. today, and I guess two is just your professional opinion. Obviously, the last few years have been rough on a lot of people, and a lot of people have found themselves in crises. So if there is just advice that you have for anybody who’s struggling, those two questions.

Lauren Esmay: Sure. So one of the things that I have taken with me is And I think you can remember that I had a really difficult client that was just driving me bonkers when we first started the coaching together. And what I took away from my work in crisis is it’s all going to be OK. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but just like talking to someone about this and brainstorming with other people that have been in that situation or not, like just surrounding yourself with community is one of the strongest things that a person can do. And also on that note, I also just learned to like work really well under pressure, which is something I don’t think many people are necessarily born with, but it is something that we can work on to become better at. And then my professional advice is kind of similar, just like surrounding yourself with community, because so much has happened in the last few years, with the pandemic, and then even in the job industry, as we were talking about earlier. And I think that it’s, it’s really hard sometimes to navigate that because you feel like you’re the only one in the situation and maybe you’re the only one with this specific situation with all of the unique parts of your life, but other people are, maybe they’re not struggling in the same ways, but I think at this point we all have our things that we’re going through and being able to have a support system is really useful and crucial right now. And that can be hard, especially with introverts, because it can be difficult to, you know, kind of reach out and say, Hey, I’m struggling with this thing. But I think my experience has been, whether it’s professional or just relationships in your personal life, most people are willing to talk to you and, and help out where they can.

Kira Hug: And where do you, where are you going next in your business? You mentioned that you had some ideas from. podcast you were listening to.

Lauren Esmay: Another thing that I’ve just really honed in on the last few months is, um, niching doesn’t necessarily have to be by industry. It can be by a variety of other ways. So I’ve recently looked at what my clients have given me for feedback and they all have this same sort of comment. that I work in a very holistic way that I’m not only interested in just one particular aspect. I look at a very broad view of things and then I kind of narrow it down, take it back out, see what is there. Like when we zoom back out and just keep working with that. And I do a lot of work and just like following up with my clients after we’ve done the offboarding process. So I’m learning how to use those same skills and like what I have done for these clients as a way to make that my niche instead of particularly like working in one industry. So I’m expanding a little bit in the types of industries that I’m working with. I think probably in the next few months there can be a little more that I’m doing with in terms of helping people understand the true meaning of authenticity.

Rob Marsh: Lauren, if anybody wants to connect with you and create one of those authentic relationships you were talking about today, where should they go?

Lauren Esmay: You can find me on LinkedIn. It’s just my name, Lauren Esmay, E-S-M-A-Y, or you can find me at

Rob Marsh: Awesome. Thanks, Lauren.

Kira Hug: Thank you, Lauren.

Rob Marsh: That’s the end of our interview with Lauren Esmay.

I’ll just emphasize a couple of things before we wrap.

First we started out talking about education and the need for degrees to demonstrate our capabilities and skills. That is still true for professions like doctors, counselors, and lawyers. 

But for entrepreneurs, copywriters, content writers and even many marketers, those credentials matter a lot less today than they used to. It’s not likely that a copywriting client will ask to see your degree or your grades. But they do care about the quality of your writing… and your ability to help them sell their products… or attract more subscribers… or reduce cancellations and refunds… or keep people reading their content and increasing time on site. That’s the stuff that matters for you and me. 

I’m not saying don’t go and get that degree. Heck I have a couple myself… and investing in your own education is almost always a good idea. Just keep in mind, it’s not a requirement to be a good copywriter.

We also touched on Lauren’s prospecting wins as we talked. If you struggle to pitch and win clients, you might want to use the system that Lauren used… it’s called the P7 Client Attraction System. I’ll link to it in the shownotes. You can also find it by visiting You’ll learn how to use the connetion spectrum to warm up your contacts so they welcome a pitch to work together. It works. In fact it’s guaranteed to help you land a client in 30 days. So check it out.

Finally, we started out by talking about Lauren’s mission to listen to all 400 episodes of this podcast and share her take aways on Linkedin. As of this week I believe she’s posted insights from the first 110 episodes. Her effort in sharing those is commendable, but what’s really impressive is how Lauren is using this project to build her network. We’ve talked to some very successful copywriters and marketers. And as Lauren reaches out to those who have linkedin profiles, she’s building a network of highly talented experts that may turn into additional opportunities at some point in the future. You may not be able to do exactly what Lauren is doing, but reaching out to experts after you’ve heard an interview or read something they wrote, is still a good strategy for building your network. This is something I’m definitely going to be doing more of.

Okay, thanks again to Lauren for joining us to talk about her business. You can find her on Linkedin or on her own website:

That’s the end of this episode of the copywriter club podcast.

If you enjoyed this interview, please share it with a friend or associate who might also enjoy it or learn from it. And you can always leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice.

The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner.

Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next week.


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