Femtech Copywriter Lanae Carmichael is our guest for the 371st episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, and Kira and Rob asked her about finding her niche and framework (which Kira got a little too much pleasure from making Rob name), user testing copy before you present it to the client, and how she landed 50% of the work she did this year from other copywriters.
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A few links related to this show that you should definitely click:Lanae’s Website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob Marsh: What’s your best source of leads? Where do the majority of your clients come from? As you look back on the past year, it’s a question worth thinking about. Do clients easily find you based on your social media presence or your LinkedIn profile? Do you seek out the people and brands you want to work with and pitch them on a project? Or maybe you benefit from referrals from past clients and other people who know you.
Hi, I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of The Copywriter Club. And on today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, my co-founder, Kira Hug, and I interviewed copywriter Lanae Carmichael. Near the end of our interview Lanae said something that surprised us. She said that more than half of her clients this year came from other copywriters. This isn’t a new idea. We’ve talked about it before on the podcast. But 50% is a big number. Lanae shared what she did to put herself in position to get those referrals and it’s something any copywriter can do. And we talked about a lot more than that. You’ll want to keep listening to this episode.
But first, this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is brought to you by The Copywriter Underground. It is truly the best membership for copywriters and content writers… let me just give you an idea of what you get for $87 a month… first there’s a monthly group coaching call with Kira and me where you can get answers to your questions, advice for overcoming any business or client or writing challenge you have. There are weekly copy critiques where we give you feedback on your copy or content. There are regular training sessions on different copy techniques and business practices designed to help you get better. And we’re adding a new monthly AI tool review where we share a new AI tool or a technique or prompt you can do with AI get more done. That’s on top of the massive library of training and templates. And the community is full of copywriters ready to help you with just about anything… including sharing leads from time to time. Find out more at thecopywriterclub.com/tcu
And with that, let’s go to our interview with Lanae.
Kira Hug: Let’s kick off, Lanae, with your story. How did you end up as a copywriter?
Lanae Carmichael: All right, so I started out as a marketing consultant at a small TV tech firm, or a marketing specialist. I don’t remember what my title was there. But I was very junior on the team, and I was primarily doing their internal communications. But slowly over time, I started working with the COO, and we were doing executive video scripts, and I was doing some change management communications as the small TV tech firm got bought out by a new company. After three or four years of working with that marketing team, I got pivoted into the product marketing side, and that’s where I discovered branding and positioning and messaging, and I loved it.
Shortly after that, I had my first baby, and I knew I didn’t really want the corporate lifestyle. I had friends that were in the copywriting industry. I didn’t really know what the word meant, but I was already doing it. as is the story that so many copywriters have. But I was living in the Bay Area at the time, and there were startups abundant all around. And so I was on Angel’s list, and I just started pitching. And pretty quickly, within two weeks, I had landed a year-long contract doing email marketing. And I didn’t realize at the time how lucky it was that I kind of just fell into that great client, really good pay, year-long contract. But it worked out really well, and I had a knack for it. I took a bunch of copywriting courses to build up my knowledge while I approached the projects.
And within four months, they had tripled their email open rates. And there was a new revenue stream coming in through that email marketing. So I worked myself out of a job. They hired someone else full time. And I moved on and started taking on other clients. And yeah, that’s kind of where it took off.
Rob Marsh: It’s interesting, you got a great client right off the bat. So many people struggle with $25 blog posts and really have to figure out pricing. How did that affect you as then you went to find other clients? Did you go through that low price, terrible project struggle or was it smooth sailing?
Lanae Carmichael: Yes, I think I lucked out finding that client because it gave me the surge of confidence I needed and frankly, some income to play with, to buy courses and learn more. And so I do feel so grateful for that. And for my friends in the industry, because I was sending examples to them to land that client so early on. But I definitely did go through websites for $100 and blog posts for way too cheap. I’ve been through that pain as well. Pretty early on in my career, I went to a conference for creative entrepreneurs. And that was really nice because I felt like I got exposure to what people were doing in the space. There weren’t very many copywriters there, but it was still a great arena to be in and understand how people are running a freelance business on making it work, making good money. And so I think that did give me the confidence to charge appropriately and say no to some projects. But I definitely had a messy meandering through there.
Kira Hug: Can you talk a little bit more about working yourself out of that job? Because I think that’s something that many of us end up doing. And in some ways, maybe that’s a win. Like, that is success. We should all work towards that goal of working ourselves out of a job, because that means you did a great job. I guess, how did you look at it at the time? Was that a big blow? Or did that feel like a win? And how did you process that when you were doing your job? How did that you ended up losing your job?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I was doing all of their email marketing, the weekly promo emails and the bigger campaigns. And as it closed out to the end of the year, our contract was not for a set time. It was just month to month. It ended up running for about a year. But I didn’t know that it was coming to an end. So initially, I was pretty devastated because I thought that it was a performance-based thing. It seemed sudden. And then I emailed her and I just, we had a pretty good working relationship. So I said, do you mind sharing more of like why this is coming? Because initially she just sent an email like through our Asana communications. So we jumped on a call, and that’s when she shared, hey, we’ve seen a lot of revenue coming from this. We want someone that can focus on this full time, and we want to bring them on sight, like to work at the office. And that wasn’t something that I had been willing to do and couldn’t do at that time anyway.
So when I got that piece of information, it did feel like validation. It felt exciting to me, and there was, she’s been giving me great testimonials after that. we were able to preserve the relationship and it did end up feeling like a win. So I would say, and I’ve done this recently too, as I’ve gotten turned down from anything that I’ve applied to, I’ve asked why. And I think just following up with that, the bravery, the courage to ask in a kind way can give really interesting insight. Like sometimes I’ve been told, that my experience wasn’t the right fit for their clients in terms of project or industry. Other times it was the pricing was more than they could afford at the time. But I think we tend to make up stories in our mind of why people say no to us. And so whenever I can get clarity and ask, your confidence and motivation to keep pitching can really increase.
Okay, so this is an idea more of us should definitely do. So I want to be specific about how you ask. Are you doing that on a call? Do you send an email? Exactly what are you saying to get the person to give you that feedback?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, so I’ve done it a few different ways. I have done it on a call when if we’ve like if I had a live call to deliver the proposal and we’ve already spoken on the call, then I feel more comfortable making that ask, hey, can we jp on a 10 minute call to discuss? Often, it’s usually just responded to over email. I think that takes the pressure off. It’s It can make someone uncomfortable to have to tell you why. But I find if I ask in a way of looking to improve myself and put the onus on me, like, hey, as I’m continuing to pitch and try to land work, what were the gaps that you saw in the materials I send over or in my portfolio so that I can hone those skills more, better serve you in the future? I think asking from that angle really lowers the fear on their side because then they’re helping you and responding is something everyone wants to. They want to graciously help. People usually like to give.
Kira Hug: Well, before we move on from that, can you just play it out and kind of share an example of maybe some feedback you received and then how you actually implemented that change and made that change in your business and what that looked like?
Lanae Carmichael: Sure. One of the companies that I pitched about a year and a half ago wanted a full marketing campaign leading up to an event. We were repositioning the messaging across all their channels. The timeline was really tight. I have more elongated timelines for myself, just knowing what I have to work with and everything on my plate personally right now. They mentioned the timing, they mentioned the pricing, but then they also mentioned that they wanted someone with more understanding of investing because it was for an investment firm that worked in the industry that I work in, but I wanted to build that skill. Since then, I’ve actually done some blogging for a wealth management firm and I’m kind of exploring avenues to play around and build up. that side of things, because I do think for my industry specifically, if I can get in with the investors that are investing in the startups that I want to work with, that could be a great win for building my referral network. So that was an example of an area that was highlighted that I have actively been trying to work on. I don’t have a great win to report there yet, but that’s an example of what, opened my eyes to an area I could work on.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’s really smart. Okay, so you mentioned your industry, obviously connected to investors. Let’s talk about that. I mean, obviously you didn’t start in the niche that you’re in, but you have a niche that you work primarily in. You take clients outside of that niche, but talk to us a little bit about how you figured out what niche you wanted to serve, that process that you went through, and then what it is that you do or who it is that you serve.
Lanae Carmichael: Okay. Yeah, I love talking about this. And I have you guys to thank in large part for that. I had been working with ed tech companies, so K through 12 education, and then some lifestyle consumer products that were primarily marketing to that same audience, moms of elementary aged young kids. I defined my client list based on who their audience was rather than what industry or niche they were in at the time. And that had worked decently well. I had worked with a couple companies where I just felt so excited about what they were doing. And when I joined the Copywriter Accelerator program, we did the X Factor module, and through that, there was a lot of questions. And I really took my time on those questions. I think I turned it in like two or three weeks late. because I was just really going through it again and again and again, and I called up past bosses that I had, and I talked to my husband, I talked to my friends, and I just really was trying to understand how I come across personally and professionally and any threads that could link that together and one of the things that kept coming up is my friends always come to me if they want to talk about sex and They always come to me for vulnerable conversation like not afraid to shine a light in the dark corners and talk about things that maybe bring shame or embarrassment I am a pretty open book about that and then another thread was like feminism and empowering women, whether that looked like the way I was talking to my kids and teaching them about bodies or a lot of emotional labor that women do in the home. I’ve done a lot of reading on that side of things. And so as I looked at all those threads and then the clients that I had most liked, I found that women’s health in general was a broader topic that I was really interested in. That coincided with my own personal health problems that I was dealing with at the time. So I was experiencing firsthand the pain point of some doctors being a little bit more dismissive of women’s pain. And so I was personally aligned with the pain points of the customers and then had all that rich information from the X-Factor module to find the common threads. And when I found out that Femtech was its own emerging industry, it seemed like a no-brainer.
Kira Hug: OK, so many questions to ask. I’m going to go with this one. Why do you think that not all women, but many women feel uncomfortable talking about some of those topics or shining a light into the dark corner? And I’m curious, like, why do you feel comfortable doing it? So if you can speak to both, that would be great.
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah. So, these topics have been stigmatized for a very, very long time. And I think that We are influenced by marketing and the media more than we would like to admit. And when things are not represented, it’s very easy for us to feel ashamed or to feel alone or to not recognize how large the problem is. I think we saw that with infertility for a long time. I think that’s finally being more openly discussed. Although, de-stigmatizing something does not get rid of the pain and sensitivity that happens in individual lives. But it does make it more likely that you can reach out for community and find solutions and answers. But yeah, I think a lot of it is the way that we’ve been marketed to. You’re told that you’re not enough or you’re too much, whereas men, the marketing is very different for them. So those internal messaging that they’re absorbing from a very young age, from the books they read and the shows that they watch, the way that their parents have been raised and influenced and how they’re talking to their child or treating their children, I think that women are more marginalized, and so they’ve absorbed that. There’s more expectations for what is ladylike or how a woman should behave. And so I think it’s more likely to feel shame or embarrassment when we don’t add up to what we have in our brains as how we should be, put that in quotes, because we should just be ourselves. That ended the first part. Can you remind me what the second part was?
Kira Hug: I’m just curious for you, why you have bypassed all the marketing messages that have trained many of us to not feel comfortable to speak about. What’s helped you feel empowered to talk about those things that maybe most women don’t talk about?
Lanae Carmichael: So certainly I, it was not immune to all of those messages and growing up I think I very much was a huge people pleaser and still am working on shedding some of that. I stepped into a lot of those mentalities of worrying that I was too much or not enough, blaming myself when something was dismissed or went wrong, minimizing your own pain points. I think that’s something that everyone experienced and I wasn’t immune to that. I think the difference was one of my strongest values since I was very little in this sense of like candor or honesty and speaking really openly and directly. And then tied to that, I have a deep need to be understood. And so I think that those two kind of go together. I need to be understood and I need to be honest. And so I share pretty openly. And honestly, I also, for better or worse, I don’t know if this is healthy, so any therapists listening, feel free to DM me if this is wrong, but I bond a lot through shared vulnerability. I think when we share our struggles and we trust someone to hear our struggles, there is a bond there, an empathy, a trust. a confidence in that relationship. And so I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve usually been able to take the first step in that and open up and then it allows that safe space for others to then share back.
Rob Marsh: And how does that translate into your copy writing for your clients in that industry?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah. So a lot of the clients have, the founders often show up with a clinical background or a research background. And so they want to make sure their brand is credible. They’ve been dismissed in boardrooms from the investors on why this is even needed. And so there’s a lot of science talk and clinical back studies and information, which is necessary, but learning to really sanitize their messaging in a way that connects with these sensitive pain points that women are feeling has been key. And a lot of them have experienced it themselves. And so while they can understand it, they are not their only client. And sometimes they’re not their ideal client. They felt the pain. One example was a company I worked with that was targeting postmenopausal women, but their product would work really great for postpartum women as well. And so that’s a very different age demographic. And so if we want to hit that market, we need to have messaging that is either inclusive or in addition to. to target that additional market. And so that’s one example of sanitizing your brand, really understanding your audience and their pain so that you can speak to it. And I do that through a lot of user testing and voice of customer research to try to really grab the emotional phrasing that their customers are using.
Kira Hug: I love that you found this niche that you’re so passionate about. I mean, I think that’s what we all kind of want and aim for, but not everyone, not everyone finds it. So it sounds like this happily ever after story, but we also know that it’s an emerging industry and space. And so it’s tricky to navigate a new space where you don’t have easy answers and you have to build relationships. So what did that look like for you when you’re like, this is what I want to do. I love it. I love everything about it. I know I can help this, this niche or this market. Like, what do you do when you jp into a new market? How do you build those connections and build a business?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah. For me, LinkedIn has been the best platform for that. , I, Well, first I Googled and tried to find any white paper I could because whoever was writing the white papers, I would go and try to connect with them on LinkedIn. Often it was like, I think McKinsey Consulting had done the first one that I had read. And then I looked for podcasts that were on that topic and there were only like six or seven at the time. So then I went and followed all those podcast creators. Through that, I found communities on Slack or in other spaces where I could join the conversation. So that was kind of the first start for me, just Google searching and looking online. The Femtech community specifically is very collaborative. It’s all women led and There’s really this idea of collaboration over competition that I know we hear all the time, but I feel like it’s very much lived in that space. Everyone is working to bridge the gender health gap, and growing our businesses along the way is like a perk. But I’ve seen doctors that have left huge salaries to do a startup for eight years. It’s very much a labor of love with an impact-driven mission in mind. I think embodying that, being personally excited about the industry, being willing to give yourself, whether that’s discounting your prices or jumping on a consultation call on occasion be savvy about it. But the idea of collaborating with others and building connections has been great. I’ve done a lot of coffee chats with no expectation, no pitch, just building the network.
Rob Marsh: And as you’ve worked with your clients, you’ve built out a framework that is interestingly named. Actually, it’s a very cool name. Tell us about your framework. I know Kira really wants me to say the name. Well, you guys think I’ll be embarrassed by it, but we’re talking about normalizing conversations, words that have been marginalized, right? So it’s the G-Spot framework, and it’s a great, it’s cool. Talk about developing that, what it means and how you work with your clients using your framework.
Kira Hug: And it is the best name for a framework I’ve ever heard.
Lanae Carmichael: Thank you. Thanks for saying it, Rob, getting it out there. Yes. So I developed the brand G-Spot framework, and this was just a way to speak about the process that I go through to help a brand figure out their unique messaging. So it starts with their goals. The G in Gspot is your goals. What are your goals for business growth, your goals for your marketing this year, and then the goals for this specific project that we’re engaging on. And then once we’ve outlined our goals and gotten clear on that, we move into stance. Stance would be your brand values or your big picture mission, the core of who you are and why you’re doing what you do. From there, we move into positioning and packages. And this is your position in the marketplace, how you differ from your competitors, whether that’s price, niche, deliverability, customer service, community. All of those are areas to differentiate. Many of the brands in Femtech are first of its kind or category design brands, meaning there’s not really anything else out there that exists in the same way. And so there’s a really interesting opportunity to differentiate. But in order to do so, you kind of have to borrow from companies in different industries to make comparisons that are clear to the consumer. So figuring out how to word that and what analogies we can use to describe what they’re doing. And then These questions that I walk them through for positioning, what do you like to talk about? And then what do people ask you for? What are the questions that are coming up in your focus groups and user research? Thinking through things like that has been important. And then the O is for your one and only reader. This is who is your audience? We all have been through this as copywriters, but helping our clients understand that can be different. And I like to push on their audience’s pain points because often the brand thinks they’re solving a problem that is different from the problem at the point of the audience purchase. So one example of this, I was listening recently to the founder of Lomi. It’s like this electric compostable product. And he was saying they wanted to solve compost and make it easier for people to compost. And the pain point that they found that kept coming up for their customers was fruit flies. Now, that is like such a deeply hidden pain point that they hadn’t been talking about it. But the customers that were buying this expensive product already were composting, so they didn’t need to get them on board to sustainability. They needed to talk about the pain at the point of purchase, which for them was fruit flies. So I like to use that example and then talk my customers through what they think the problem they’re solving is. And then through deep customer interviews, understanding their one and only reader, adjusting the messaging to talk about that highest point of pain that their customer is experiencing. Then once you understand your one and only client, their fears, their goals, their dreams, then we move on to tone. This is your brand personality, how you want to come across, the voice of your brand, and then how we can differentiate the tone on different marketing channels. I think there’s a lot of talk about brand voice. To me, brand voice is the person. and the tone is slight nuance in how that person is coming across. Like here I am in my copywriter voice, but I also have a mom voice. I’m the same person, my vocabulary is probably the same, but my tone can vary a little bit. So how you talk to your customers on your website clinician page versus how you talk to your customers on TikTok, how do we create brand cohesion but have tone variation to hit the right market?
Kira Hug: Can we go back to the fruit flies? So what is this product? I have a fruit fly problem with our compost right now. Okay. Yeah.
Rob Marsh: Fruit flies love compost. Like it’s that irritative stink, right? Like, yeah.
Kira Hug: So now we have all these fruit flies in our kitchen and I can’t stand it, but we want to compost.
Rob Marsh: And so… Do you compost inside or outside?
Kira Hug: Well, we do both, but like we have the little one inside and then you have a big one outside, but you gotta take the little one to the big one. And so Lanae hook me up.
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, it’s called Lomi. I don’t have one myself, but my daughter wants it really bad. So we’re getting lots of pressure. Okay. Okay. It’s $400. It’s kind of expensive, but it automatically, you like at the push of a button, it turns all of your compost scraps into usable soil within like an hour or something.
Kira Hug: I don’t know.
Lanae Carmichael: You what? And then you have no replies because it doesn’t sit in there and stink and leak and all the nasty stuff.
Kira Hug: I’ll add that to my holiday list, Rob, if you’re paying attention. Oh you know what?
Rob Marsh: It’s definitely on the gift list for you guys.
Lanae Carmichael: They’re having Black Friday sales right now.
Rob Marsh: This has become a composting podcast. It’s not even my industry. You should get a bonus for this.
Kira Hug: So to go back to your framework, I love I mean, we talk a lot about frameworks on the podcast and with think tank members and we love them. But yours especially is great because, again, it’s a catchy name that relates to the industry you’re working in. And it’s also easy to kind of grasp what you’re talking about. Like sometimes they can become too long or too much information, too overwhelming and like yours is kind of bite size where we get a really good flavor of what you do and it’s exciting and it’s interesting but it’s not too much information or like you don’t lose us when you’re talking through it. So I think it’s just a really great example. How have you used it now that you have it? What are all the ways you’re using it to grow your business?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, so I have started doing what I call a brand strategy call or a brand clarity hour. And when people jump on that call, it’s a 90 minute call where we just kind of live brainstorm together. And I have a series of questions that I go over with each of my points of my framework. to define their goals, their stance, their positioning. And so we go through that together. And by the end, they have a clearer picture of who they are, what they’re about, and what they’re trying to communicate to their audience. And that is often the phase one of doing a fuller brand strategy project. or like a website messaging project. So I have used it honestly for myself to have a good process to go through as I’m working on client projects. But then in client facing, I mean I use it on my LinkedIn, I use it in my content to lead with like how I work, what I do, the benefits I can bring to your business. and then in my clarity hour calls. So kind of three ways there. But it’s really, I think the biggest benefit I’ve seen has just been for myself. I show up more confidently when I talk to people about my process and what I do. And I think it instills confidence in them just knowing that I’ve done the work to think out a framework and speak about it.
Rob Marsh: You may have just kind of answered the question, but I’m curious how prospects respond to the name when you share with them. It’s not exactly risqué, but it’s also not the kind of thing that you would necessarily talk with your grandfather or grandmother about, right? So, I mean, yeah. I mean, G-spot, right? It’s a cool name. I care as dying hearing me say this. Like, it’s not that big of a deal. I can think of a lot of words I’d rather not say than G-spot. But I’m just curious, like how that resonates with them and does it turn anybody off when you share it?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, so I think it’s landed pretty well. Most people, they either like, ha ha, they laugh at it, or they’ll say, oh, that’s so interesting, because it’s targeted at this idea of something that feels really good and the right spot, like you’ve narrowed in at the right area. And then this idea of getting your customers to say yes, that kind of, it’s very clear, but it also has some cleverness that makes them laugh. And for my audience specifically, Talking about sexual wellness, sexual pleasure, vaginal health is not at all taboo. So it’s landed pretty well. Has it turned some people off? Probably, but I’ve not heard that. They’re maybe too polite to let me know or to tell me. I think the downside that I’ve seen is the creepy LinkedIn messages that come in.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, that’s bizarre to me. I mean, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s just, I mean, there’s, I think, I can think of some like great jokes to make about it… it’s not make believe, right. Or, I can help you find it kind of thing. But the creepy stuff just, yeah, boggles my mind.
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, there’s been not too many, but there’s been a few times I’ve had to block people on LinkedIn from the message. I’ve actually been surprised that I haven’t been shadow banned because one of the huge things in this industry is what we call algo-talk or speaking in a way that makes the algorithm happy so you don’t get blocked and censored. Using anything like the word sex, the word vagina, even G-spot, a lot of people lose access to their LinkedIn account temporarily. by the content they’re creating, even though it is in service of health and wellness and not just strictly adult entertainment. But it’s been an interesting thing to kind of navigate.
Kira Hug: Yeah. And while we’re talking about Femtech, can you give more of a state of the union on that space? Like if I’m interested in that space and I’m thinking about jumping into it, what is happening now? Like what should we be aware of before we make a decision even to jp in and pursue that space?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, Femtech is growing rapidly right now. In 2020, it was estimated to be worth $51 billion, but it’s projected to be worth $103 billion by 2030. There are a lot of companies that are growing. You have a few unicorn exits that we’ve seen, like Maven is an example everyone points to as a unicorn company. this area. There’s a lot of seed stage just starting out. There’s some series A going on. Investors are finally being more willing to look at femtech companies and invest in them. So it’s definitely growing. But with any emerging industry or VC-backed startup, there’s a lot of trial and error. A lot of companies are still finding their product market fit. As a copywriter serving this industry, one of the things that’s difficult to see is copy that never quite makes it live or that gets rapidly changed in six months, not necessarily because it wasn’t good or wasn’t working, but because a stakeholder or an investor has taken the brand a different direction. So there’s a lot of interesting things there. And I think landing clients, the nurturing process for me has taken a lot longer because a lot of them aren’t even familiar with the world of marketing. So there’s a lot there. And the ones that are, They know just what they’re looking for or they want to do it themselves because they have experience and budgets are really tight. So I think network has been huge and then a lot of clearly communicating your value and sharing a vision so that you can really be a part of their mission and show them that you’re on their team for more than just the project invoice.
Rob Marsh: Before we move too far away from the framework, the last step in your framework is tone. And obviously, the G-Spot framework is part of that tone. But you also are pretty clever with some of the headlines on your website and the way that you’ve played in the Femtech space as well. I know you’ve experimented with those, maybe toned some of them down or dialed some of them up. I’m not sure that this is a question so much as me saying, I think it’s clever the way that you have built that into your website. And hopefully, like your framework, it’s attracting the right people to you.
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, thank you. It’s been interesting with my website because I did go, I dialed it all the way up and was really cheeky and I have a lot of like play on words there. And I’ve had some people that absolutely love it. And then I actually had one client that hired me and specifically said, like, I don’t want my voice to be at all like yours, but I trusted you that you would know how to do it. So that was interesting. I don’t know if that’s everyone’s reaction. Probably not. But I was glad to see that it didn’t turn her off, because she was a great client to work with. But she just made it clear she doesn’t want that kind of cheeky style. And then I have worked with some that definitely hire me and say they want the tone. They want some of that cheekiness in there. Yeah, if that answers your question.
Rob Marsh: I’m not sure it was. Like I said, I don’t know that there was a question as much.
Lanae Carmichael: I got to talking and wondered if I lost the point.
Rob Marsh: I think the thing that I like about it, though, is that we should give ourselves permission to play. We don’t always have to be 100% serious or we don’t have to avoid what might be dangerous words or might be offensive to some, especially when it could help you attract the right people in your audience. like encouraging more people who are listening to do more than just the typical, I help you find the right words for your message kind of thing and just really go in on a tone or a voice that works for your brand.
Lanae Carmichael: Yes, you have to find a way to stand out and differentiate. The copywriting industry is getting more saturated as well than when I started in 2018. I think all copywriters need to work on building a bit of a personal brand that goes along with the work they’re doing as a business. With that, coming up with your own brand tone of voice that is distinctive from all the other copywriter websites you see is really important. And I’m glad you touched on play because that’s something that I actually have really loved about copywriting lately is because my work this year has been a little bit slower. I feel like I’ve leaned into giving myself space to play, whether that’s playing with my own copy or even with client projects. I don’t always have a tight deadline with a project coming right up again. And so I let myself play around with the copy and with the tone of voice and maybe I have three or four different brand personalities that I’ve used and how does that show up in their marketing? What difference might that make? How does that resonate? And I think most of us got into copywriting because we liked to write and we liked some of that creative aspect. But then we get bogged down sometimes by being strategic or diving into the research or making sure we’re collecting all the right data, which I also love. But getting back into that play and that creative space with my writing has been really fun this year.
Kira Hug: To go back to what you were saying about attracting some clients who hired you and told you, I want to work with you. I trust you, but I also don’t want to sound like your voice. I think that’s also normal. And I think it’s a good point because I’ve had clients say that to me too. Maybe not in those words, but it’s like, I want to sound different. Here’s my voice. totally different from your voice but I know that you can do this and so I think it’s a good reason to embrace your own voice because it does that’s your portfolio that shows that you understand voice and tone and that you can do it for other people and and you can move in different ways and create different voices and tones so Appreciate you sharing that. I want to go back to what you’re saying about it being a slow year. It’s been a hard year for many copywriters. And how have you maneuvered through this year that’s been rocky for many? Like, what have you done? What’s worked? What hasn’t worked? How have you stayed afloat? What has been a success or a win throughout the year?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, so early on this year, I focused a lot on pitching. And not a lot was coming from it. My closing rates were a lot lower. And so I got kind of discouraged. And that’s when I pivoted to just networking and content creation. So I was posting more on LinkedIn, just things that I found interesting that I was reading in the space, and then doing coffee chats and just building my network. And from that, I actually learned some ways that I could stand out and play around with my own marketing and how I present myself because as I was answering questions from other people in this space, I got insights on what they were looking to me as an expert on, what areas they wanted my advice on. So that was really helpful. And then I developed this new offer, my VIP day offer, which I know lots of copywriters have a VIP day. I started doing a full brand strategy in one day. And this has taken off. It’s been really fun. And I partnered with a designer. And so she can then provide the visual design and the brand identity. And this has worked really great for solopreneurs who know they need to redo their brand, but maybe don’t have a $12,000, $20,000 budget to do it. And they’re on a timeline often they have other deadlines going on and they need their brand to be done yesterday. So this is a way that within two or three weeks, we can get you a strategically backed, beautifully designed brand.
Rob Marsh: Talk about how you do that in a single day, because that, in some ways, kind of boggles my mind a little bit. I have a hard time writing three or four emails in a day. So to come up with an entire brand strategy to go through that, tell us what you’re covering and how you do that.
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah. I think an important thing is to find the right fit client. And it tends to be a solopreneur that has a little bit more of a personal brand rather than a corporate product-based business where you’re looking at all the different product features and the various client audiences they can reach. So I think vetting my clients to make sure they are a good fit so that I can be successful is a big part of hitting that right. And then I have, I’ve templatized my process and my delivery. So I have a client presentation that is already kind of set up and templatized. And then I just need to go in, I do all my work on Google Docs and different research programs, and then I just plug it into the template so it looks beautiful when I deliver.
But how it starts, we do the questionnaire and kickoff call a week before. And so I have all that information. I read through it, but I don’t necessarily act on it. I just let it percolate in my brain for a week or so, having read through it and spoken with the client personally. Then in the morning, I start my morning at about 8.30, 9 a.m. on my VIP days, and I give myself two to three hours to just research. I already have an idea of what specifically I need to research because I’ve done it before for past clients. And so I dive deep. I’m looking for market insights. I’m looking for four to five competitor pages to analyze. And I am looking at any of their content or copy that they’ve already written. to plug into various programs that I use to help me analyze voice. And so I spend two or three hours gathering up my research. And then from there, I go to my slide deck presentation and see what I have enough information for to fill it out. And then there are often gaps and areas that need more development. So then I go back in to the research side.
What’s included there is I have a mission statement, a vision statement, and then I have a bio for the solopreneur. I also include a USP graph of like you sit in between these three different content areas and you’re kind of the expert drawing on all of these three. So I really suss out all the aspects that they’re talking about in their industry that might set them apart. I do a competitor analysis with Market Landscape Insights. So I often am reading studies, reports, things in the news recently that touch on their industry and trying to quickly, concisely gather what is the audience already hearing and what do they need to hear from you to be ready to engage. From there, I go into what I call marketing tidbits, and I call it that because it takes the pressure off of me to have them be finished, fine-tuned messaging. But often, as I’m writing their taglines, their positioning statement, and their vision statement, I have all of these other ideas for little phrases that I’m not quite sure where they go or what to do, but I think they’re really useful or succinct or clearly describe something.
Sometimes they turn into website headlines. Sometimes they’re just subject lines for an email. But I include a couple of pages of what I call these marketing phrases or marketing tidbits that they could use and sprinkle in. And then I have a tone of voice where I’ve analyzed their cadence and their rhythm and their type of voice and their brand archetype. And I give ideas for how to embody that voice on different marketing channels, whether that’s show your face a lot because your brand is really, really personable. Don’t be afraid to show up with no makeup because people are expecting a lot of authenticity from you versus someone who’s like you’re leaning hard into credibility. Maybe you always record from your office and you’re dressed nicely or finding ways to share the content that they could share and the way that they can show up on other platforms to embody that brand voice and have a consistent feel throughout their digital presence. That was a lot. I just fire hosed you.
Kira Hug: Sorry. No, it’s I mean, well, you’re doing a lot in that day. So what are you charging? If you’re comfortable talking about how you’ve priced it? Or how you’ve thought about the pricing for it? How are you selling it? How are they hearing about it?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, so I price it around $2,000. I’ve done it for less than that before. And then it’s more if you’re adding on the designer package to go along with it. So when clients will book the strategy and the design, both me and the designer actually take a discounted rate so that it’s more affordable for the client to get the full package. So how am I finding those clients? I think partnerships have been huge here. I’m involved in multiple Facebook groups, and then I’ve joined two other online communities for graphic designers so that I can build out some of those partnerships. And then I have my designer who I’ve partnered with on multiple projects, and she will sometimes bring her design clients to me to do the brand strategy side of things. So we’ve shared that way. And then Instagram. I have a small Instagram, but I’ve had it for years and there are many people on there that are loyal and that follow regularly. And so sharing it on there has gotten me some clients as well.
Rob Marsh: Ultimately, how many of these could you do a week or a month if all went well? I know we talk about VIP days, but it’s probably not five. You couldn’t do five in a week, I’m guessing.
Lanae Carmichael: No, no. It’s intensive, the emotional energy that goes into it. And I’m actually looking at maybe making it a three-day thing because I am at my desk and I barely take a break to pee. I am just so focused and in the zone to try to get it done in eight to 10 hours. And I give myself about an eight to 10 hour timeline before I record the loom video and send them the deck. I could probably do three a month, maybe four if I had really mapped out my time. I think there’s a lot to be said for the time it takes just sitting in your brain slowly thinking about it in the shower or whatnot. I don’t think I could do more than one client in a week because I need so much of that focus and all my thoughts as I live through life and have daily experiences and conversations. I know that that’s coming in the background, so I’m thinking through how this client’s products, services, brand may impact whoever I am talking to. It’s not a conscious, active thing, but it just happens, and I think there’s a lot of value in that. I’d say four would probably be the max in a month.
Rob Marsh: So as you talk about that, I mean, it’s clear you’re not just copywriting. This is brand strategy. It’s like a higher level of serving your clients. And as you’ve made that transition in your business over the last year or two, like has that required any mindset changes or is it just like, nope, this is all sort of kind of one big ball. I’m just focusing a little bit more over on this side.
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah. , It hasn’t taken a lot of mindset shift for the VIP day strategies. And I think part of that is because it’s where I love to live. I have to cut myself off from the research side of things. And so going deep into that and into the strategy and the big picture messaging feels so much more rewarding when we do, say, work on a website together. Because I know that’s all dialed in and backed by something real and not just throwing darts at the wall. which so much of marketing feels like. It’s been fun for me. The times that I have dabbled in strategy and differentiation for the VC startup backed brands, that takes a little bit more mindset work because I think there’s more at stake for me. I care so much about those products making it out into the marketplace in real life that I can get in my head a little bit. Not to say that the service providers services aren’t important to me, but There’s something that didn’t exist that may not ever exist that I think needs to exist to help women’s lives get better. So I think there’s more riding on the strategy there.
Kira Hug: And maybe just to summarize how you’re getting clients, because again, this is what copywriters are asking for. It sounds like it’s a lot of meetups, coffee meetups through LinkedIn with no agenda. So just you’ve been building your network. And then you’ve been strategically joining different communities with a lot of designers to just build those connections. So maybe they’re sending you strategy work and then they’re taking the design work. And you also have this partner, this reliable partner who is also your designer to who’s sending you leads. Anything I’m missing there that is working for you right now?
Lanae Carmichael: Nope, that’s about it. And I actually mapped out before this call my projects this year, and 50% of my projects have come from other copywriters. So I think we can’t neglect our writer community, because I’ve had copywriters that have wanted a more cheeky voice, personality-infused voice, and that wasn’t their strong suit. And so they sent them my way. I’ve had copywriters that are just, their plate is full, or they have a retainer client who’s taking up too much of their time that month. And then I’ve had some that know I love working in the femtech and sexual wellness space. So if they have clients adjacent to that, they’ll send them my way. So yeah, that’s been huge for me. And actually, it was surprising. I don’t think I had consciously realized that till I sat down to write it out. And then, yeah, design partners. have been really beneficial for me. LinkedIn coffee chats, building my network and then industry specific spaces. So I’m in that a couple of Femtech specific Slack channels and LinkedIn channels and those have been really useful as well.
Rob Marsh: Talk a little bit more specifically about how you’ve connected with some of the writers who are giving you those leads. So I can trace at least six figures over the years coming from other copywriters, and most of them have come from people that I’ve met in paid groups. But I know that’s not the only way. I know you’ve created a free mastermind with a few people that you met at one of our events a couple of years ago. You’ve been in some of our paid groups, but where else have you connected with people who are willing to share leads?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, so Accelerator and Think Tank through your program have been so beneficial to me. When I was in the Accelerator, like you said, I formed a group with two other copywriters and the three of us keep close tabs on each other and we bounce ideas off of each other. It’s been really great to have that business support and a friend who knows your business deeply. And so they can talk business with you, but step into that peer friend role rather than a coach. It’s been a really unique relationship that I value a lot. And then the think tank, the 50% of my work this year that came from other copywriters, the majority of that were think tank copywriters. And I think investing in a community helps you show up more. It personally benefits you because you are accountable to the money that you spent. But it also creates a group where everyone is taking themselves, their business, and other people in that group seriously. And so there’s a great opportunity to just be aware of who else is out there and what they’re doing because you’re in close contact with them. So that’s been really useful. And then I do have some copywriters I’ve connected with on Instagram just by following their content. I think there’s very few copywriters that I see on Instagram that I feel this like connection to anymore. I think that used to be the case. I think I don’t search for it as much anymore. I search more for clients. But there have been a few over the years that have really stood out to me as having kind of that strategy background in their approach to client work and that impact drive to them. And so as we’ve connected, we have a similar approach. And that’s been useful as well.
Kira Hug: We haven’t focused heavily on research, but you did mention user testing that you dive into user testing with your clients. So can you just talk a little bit more about that, how you do it, how that’s helping you and the projects you work on?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah. So I’ve been trying to work this into my project fees whenever I’m doing a website specifically, that’s when I found it to be most useful. And so I will add a couple hundred onto the project fee to give me some money to play with for user testing. I use usertesting.com. I know they’ve changed their pricing model recently, and I haven’t done a project there in the last quarter, so I’m not sure what their pricing is like now, but it used to be $50 to run a test, and I think you could get 5 to 10 responses, which was super useful. Even 10 responses can give you great information. And so I would play with my audience demographics, try to zero it in, make my requests and questions as specific as I could. And I would only test like one page at a time. You’re not testing a whole brand or a whole website. I would test the copy for one page. And they actually send a video recording of themselves going through it and talking through each aspect. So I can see in real time when they’re getting confused or when they’re starting to lose interest or when something really landed and resonated for them. And that’s been really great. And sending those recorded user tests with the insights after I’ve watched it to the client has made a huge impression and honestly is valuable to them with or without the website copy project that we continue doing. later.
It’s great insights and something they honestly haven’t often thought to do or can’t afford to do at like a huge focus group agency to pay money to do that. So that’s been really useful. And then because I work in Femtech and have my own group and community of people who I talk to openly about those things, I frequently text my friends and network asking them probably way too personal questions and how they might react to certain headlines. So I know that’s not the best testing, but that paired with the usertesting.com and then the voice of customer research that I do has been really insightful. And then the last thing I would add is when clients can, they’re not always comfortable, they don’t always have the data, but I like to talk to people who did not purchase. So if they have a list of someone who was interested, and abandoned the cart or stopped their subscription after the free trial, I try to get on the phone with that person or send an Amazon gift card so I can email and send them a survey because there’s so many rich insights from those who did not convert that can help us fill in those gaps.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, for sure. OK, so you said you share the user testing video with your clients. At what point do you share that with them? Do you share it in the middle of the project, or as you’re presenting copy, do you share the video and say, OK, I addressed these issues, and here’s how I did it? I’m curious about that back and forth.
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, so I sent it when I did my research and then I do like a key messaging outline before I’ve actually started the draft of the copy itself. And in the key messaging outline, I also would just send links to the videos and then I had like a paragraph of what I thought were the important messaging insights from that video. And there have been times that I just sent my insights and I didn’t send the video itself. And that hasn’t been an issue either. Honestly, they don’t really know either way. But yeah, it could be your call on what you want to send. There were some times that I felt like I was getting a message by someone’s facial expression that looked confused. that felt clear to me, but if you send that to the client, they’re like, Oh, you can’t make that decision just based off of their face. So you definitely want to have more than one response where it’s mapped. So you’re not just have like an outlier person there, but yeah.
Kira Hug: So where are you going next in your business? Like what is coming up for you? How do you, how do you envision the future for your business and how do you put together those pieces strategically?
Lanae Carmichael: That’s a great question. I’ve been reflecting a lot on my business the last few years and where I want it to go. I would love to continue doing more of my VIP day and brand strategy services, I would love to get into a space where I can provide more of those strategic insights for product-based businesses. That’s something I’ve been exploring and looking into. And I think continually investing in communities is really important because that’s areas where I’m able to grow and stretch and get inspiration for new ideas.
Rob Marsh: My last question for you, Lanae, I know you’ve experimented a bit with AI in the way that you research, write copy. Is there anything different or interesting that you’ve been doing with those tools that is worth talking about?
Lanae Carmichael: I love brainstorming with AI, and I’ve been playing around with lots of different prompts. I don’t know that I’m using it any differently than other copywriters. In my VIP days, often I will test ideas or quickly try to generate directions for positioning that I can then play with on my own and validate through the research that I’ve done. It’s been really fun to play with, but I don’t have any unique insight, I don’t think, on how I’ve been using it.
Rob Marsh: I think even like, as you said that you’re using it on your VIP days, I’m like suddenly I’m clued in. Oh, I can see now like how you can actually get it done in a day because it could speed up that brainstorming process or that ideation process tremendously. Yeah.
Lanae Carmichael: One of the things I have done there is I feed it so much information, like the research articles that I’ve done, some of the brand voice articles. I feed it, I prime it, I prep it for a good long time, but then I’ll ask it for like branding themes, like just overarching themes that could tie it together. And it’ll usually spit out, five to six, maybe one of them is decent. And then I can like flush it out and build on it. So I have loved using it for that. And then one way that I’ve, now you’re spurring my memory. One way that I have used it recently is finding LinkedIn posts from other creators that the storytelling is really good, but the story is very vastly different than my life, right? It’s a personal story. And I will plug it into ChatGPT and say, following this format, like, hook and then a short phrase. Following this format, please write a post in my brand voice on this topic and then feed it lots of bullet points so they have all the rich information it needs to say something. Using it as a formatting tool to help me formulate posts and create structure around my content more quickly has been really useful.
Kira Hug: This is more of a selfish question for us, but we’ve worked with you in the Copywriter Accelerator and now the Think Tank, and I’m just curious, like, what has been the biggest benefit to you outside of what you already shared? You mentioned the community and 50% of your work coming from other copywriters, but what else maybe has surprised you as a benefit you weren’t expecting?
Lanae Carmichael: Yeah, something that has surprised me is a lot of the mindset work. I didn’t realize fully how much reframing things could change your business. I think in Think Tank this year, reframing productivity has been really big for me. Early on, I felt like I wasn’t productive if I didn’t have like a client project active going. And this year has been slow as you know, but reframing productivity has allowed me to keep my motivation up and to keep moving forward and creating new offers and creating new things that have kind of enlivened my flow and getting me more sales. So Having a group of people there that know you, know your skills and capabilities, and can help you creatively reframe things in your mind to keep that confidence and morale up has been really beneficial.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s a great group of people. One of my favorite groups to hang out with, for sure. Lanae, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk so much about your business and your frameworks and just open up and share so much. So thank you.
Lanae Carmichael: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
Rob Marsh: That’s the end of our interview with Lanae Carmichael. I just want to add one or two thoughts to this conversation so that you have a little bit more to think about as you apply some of these ideas in your own business.
Obviously we talked a lot about being bold with your brand. Lanae’s idea, the brand G-spot framework, is fantastic. Obviously, there’s a connection to the work that she does in the fem tech and the sex tech space. That kind of playful wording is the kind of thing that can really connect with the right clients. And those are certainly the clients that she wants to work with. And so as you think about your business and the clients that you want to appeal to, what can you do to be bolder with your brand? And just a few ideas, avoid small promises. The number one thing that I see on copywriter websites, especially those with just a couple of years experience, but it tends to last because we get working and we’ve got clients coming in and our websites don’t change. This is even true of my website, which hasn’t changed in a long time, but avoid small promises. You don’t need to be saying things like, I help you find the right words or I’ll help people find you. Like, be big with that promise, as big as you can possibly be, the number of clients you can help attract, the impact that you’re going to have, that your work has for the clients that you work with. And then avoid the expected imagery. A lot of the imagery on Lanae’s website evokes feminine thoughts and ideas. And again, most copywriters don’t do that. We see a lot of coffee cups, we see notebooks and old typewriters and, you the same old, same old. And so as you think about your website, at some point, you want to break out of that expected imagery and show up in a way that really stands out.
Lanae also just off the cuff mentioned Angel’s List as the place where she found her first client. This is a great tool for finding clients to pitch in the tech world. It includes information about who’s been funded and how recently and how much money these clients or these potential clients have. So you can find clients that are investing in marketing. Obviously, this is publicly available information. It really is only focused on the tech world. So you’re not going to find coaching clients or clients outside of technology and SaaS. But if you work in technology and SaaS and you are pitching for clients, Angel’s List is a good place to find them. So it was nice to hear Lanae mention that.
And then finally, asking your clients at the end of a pitch that they said no to. or that conversation where now’s not the right time, asking them why they’re saying no is a brilliant idea and more of us need to do that. But to really make it work, you can’t just say, why didn’t you work with me? You’ve got to change your process based on that feedback. One thing that we’ve seen with some copywriters that we coach and work with is as we give them ideas, thoughts, things that they might do differently or change different approaches. Occasionally a copywriter will come back and say, that won’t work in my industry. That won’t work for me. Or there’s all of these reasons why I’m doing it the way that I’m doing it. And that idea, there’s just no way that’s going to work without actually trying that idea. It’s true. Some of these ideas may not work. We don’t know everything and markets change and clients are different, but When people give you that feedback, why they said no, you need to trust that it’s correct and try to change your approach. Maybe it’s a slightly different pitch, maybe it’s a different product that is the right kind of a product, or maybe there are timeline issues that you can adjust. So be sure to ask clients why they’re saying no, but also make changes in your process, in your products, in your business to implement that feedback so the next time, the next client is going to say yes.
Thanks to Lanae for joining us to chat about her business and VIP days and being bold with your marketing so that you stand out to attract the right clients. and help other copywriters see who you are so that they can give you leads. That’s just an amazing, for Lanae, 50%. That’s an amazing number of leads and making sure that you’re in the right communities and you’re connecting with the right people is a great way to do that in your own business. If you want to connect with Lanae, be sure to check out her profile on LinkedIn. Just look for Lanae Carmichael, or you can find her business website, Viviamarketing.com. and if you go there you’ll see some of that cheeky language that we talked a bit about that she uses there to attract the right customers and to repel some of the wrong ones.
She’s also on Instagram but she’s not as active there so you can check her out there. You know what else you should definitely check out is the Copywriter Underground. Go to thecopywriterclub.com/tcu to learn more about the best community for copywriters who want to improve their business skills and their writing skills and honestly it really is a phenomenal community. People helping each other out, and as Lanae shared, sometimes even sharing leads there, the resources there are an amazing value.
And 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 was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner.
If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcasts to leave a review of the show. Don’t miss our other podcast at AI4CreativeEntrepreneurs.com. You can also watch that on YouTube or listen wherever you get your podcasts. There are a couple of new episodes of that you’ll definitely want to check out. A lot is happening in the AI world.
Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.