Nicole Piper is our guest for the 247th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. Nicole is a copywriter and direct response marketer. She started her career as a global brand development strategist working for companies such as Nickelodeon, MTV, and Pokemon. Now she focuses on writing for the health and wellness space.
Here’s what we talk about:
- Going through a divorce and losing your 6-figure job.
- Falling upon copy courses and becoming energized with everything you’re consuming.
- When you might be ready to go all in and give it your best shot.
- How following your gut can open up the doors to 100’s of possibilities.
- Feeling unsure about your copy and it falling into the hands of Kevin Rogers.
- Becoming Parris Lampropoulos’ cub and gaining an incredible and surreal experience.
- Manifesting two clients in one week by getting out of your own way.
- How to get comfortable with not seeing the entire path ahead of you.
- The secret to the fastest growth and success. Hint: It’s not by doing it alone.
- What you can learn from Nickelodeon’s marketing angle.
- How to find the best humans in the world who are collaborative rather than competitive.
- When it may be the right time to hire a content strategist.
- The 4 P’s and how it can bring your message to life.
- Where most copywriters mess up when making big promises.
- Why you should have someone read your copy out loud to you.
- The better way to break into the health and wellness space.
- The challenge of finding the right people for the job.
- The truth about being an expert to your client.
- The difference between prevalence and intensity is the solution to finding your ideal client.
Listen to the episode below or read it in the show notes.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Piper’s health coaching website
Rob: There’s this idea made popular by the movie, The Secret, that you can manifest things into your life simply by thinking about them. Actually, that’s a bit of a simplification of the idea of manifesting, but I think you get the idea. By focusing on things like money or say a nice home or great clients, you actually attract those kinds of things into your life. Now, we’re not so sure that it’s that simple. In fact, I think I’m on record as saying that it doesn’t actually work that way, but we do think that when you work hard and you focus on the right things, good stuff generally happens to you and your business.
Our guest for this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is copywriter, Nicole Piper. Nicole is a great example of this manifesting process, attracting opportunity and clients by getting to work and focusing on what she really wanted to happen in a situation where many of us would probably do the opposite. We’ll let Nicole share her story in a moment. But first, before we get to that, I want to just introduce the Copywriter Think Tank that’s the sponsor for this episode, and that’s our mastermind for copywriters and other marketers who want to do more in their business and their work.
Maybe you’ve dreamed of creating a product or a podcast or building an agency, or a product company, or anything else beyond just simply writing for clients, billing by the penny or by the hour. If you want to become the best known copywriter in your niche, that’s the kind of thing that we do in the Copywriter Think Tank. And because Kira is still on maternity leave, my guest host for today is Grace Baldwin. Grace is a member of the Think Tank. Grace, you can share a line or two about your experience, and just tell us what you think about that.
Grace: Sure. Hi everybody. Yeah, my name is Grace Baldwin, I am a B2B SaaS copywriter currently working in-house in the company. But yeah, I’m part of the Think Tank and it’s been a pretty phenomenal experience, and I’m super excited to be here.
Rob: We’ll talk more about surrounding yourself with community and that kind of thing in this interview, but if you’re interested in learning more about the Think Tank, go to copywriterthinktank.com, and maybe you could join this extraordinary group of business owners as well. Again, Grace, you can find Grace at heygracebaldwin.com. As she mentioned, she’s an in-house copywriter and a SaaS copywriter. She’s made amazing leaps forward in her business over the last couple of months, and so I’m thrilled to have you, Grace, to be my co-host for, at least the comments and the interjections here in this episode.
Grace: So happy to be here.
Rob: Okay. Let’s jump into our interview with Nicole and find out more about her business, the clients she works with and her story.
Nicole: Okay. Yeah, that’s actually … It was like cosmic or divine. That’s what I like to say when I look back on it, because I’ve been in the corporate world, as you guys know, for many years, 29 years. I’d always of dreamed of becoming a writer. I remember, every time I was just getting really sick of the whole corporate life, I would always like envision myself moving to some little village in the south of France where I would sit in a cafe and write a novel or something. I always like dreamed of that and I didn’t really know about copywriting yet.
I figured that would have to be like a retirement career. What happened was I was actually, this was in 2015, my husband had decided he didn’t want to stay married anymore. I was the primary earner. Again, I was still working in the corporate world. It was this really, obviously very stressful time with the company new and what was going on in my life. We have a son. My husband’s idea was that we would sell the house and we need to move someplace else. I was like, all right, I didn’t want my son going through his parents’ divorce, having to go to a new school somewhere, give up his childhood home and puberty all at the same time.
I thought that was a little much. I was like, let me control the things that I can and keep those stable. I figured, crunched the numbers like, okay, I can buy my husband out of the house. That way my son could stay in the school, in his home, and at least I can keep that part stable. I had worked out like doing this big cash out refi so I could pay off my husband. This was December 29th, 2015. He signed a quick claim deed. I’d actually waived alimony and child support, and I was trying to be amicable with all of this, and he was too.
I’d taken over the ownership of this house and big mortgage and all that on December 29th. December 30th, the president of company calls me into the office and lays me off.
Rob: So awful.
Grace: That’s awful.
Nicole: Yeah. Because here, like I said, I waived alimony and child support, so I had nothing. I remember just sitting there thinking, all right, the panic attack is going to hit any minute now, and it didn’t. The weirdest thing is, the only thing I can do is I can describe it as like I did … It wasn’t a voice that I heard, but it was a message that came across loud and clear, and that was, God’s not going to let you fall off a cliff if he doesn’t give you wings to fly. Now, I’m not a particularly religious person, but I got this very clear sense.
And all of a sudden, I just relaxed. What I was thinking was, I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it’s going to be good. That’s like a really key shift that happened. Because I had actually, a couple of months before bought a copywriting course and I had gotten on some kind of a mailing, and I bought the copywriting course. It was AWAI’s course, and I thought, wow, this sounds great. Maybe this can be my three to five year exit strategy from the corporate world.
Then here, I had the rug pulled out from underneath me. I thought, okay, let me do this, I’m going to study this copywriting thing, at the same time is find a job. I was like trying to replace a six-figure income. I would wake up 3:30 in the morning and I was just too excited to go back to sleep. I just wanted to get down on my desk and study this copywriting course. At the same time, I was going on job interviews. Every time I’m on a job interview, I’d feel really nauseous and just so not into it, and the copywriting thing just made me so excited and filled with energy. I finally decided I was just going to really pay attention to that.
I said, okay, I’m going to give it two years. I’m just going to work on this copywriting thing for two years and see if I can make this work and turn it into a viable business. I’m telling you, as soon as I put that stake in the ground, stuff just started showing up for me. It was extraordinary. There’s no other way to explain it. It was extraordinary. When I say stuff showing up, what I mean is like, I went to the bootcamp, AWAI’s bootcamp. I’m sitting there … I walk into the bar and I see Kevin Rogers, and I go up and I just start chatting with him. I’m like, “The real problem I have here, I took the six-figure course, and I’m doing all this training, but I really don’t know if my copy’s any good.”
And he’s like, “Well, you know what, why don’t you send me your copy. Send me something to look at and we have a conversation about it next week.” I said, sure. Then he left and I turn around and there’s Parris Lampropoulos. I knew he was a copywriter, but I didn’t know the players. I basically have the same conversation with Parris. We’re just chatting for a while. Then he basically says the same thing. He says, “I’d be happy to take a look at some of your copy.” I’m like, all right, fine. He doesn’t have any card, so I’m writing his email address on the cocktail napkin. Right. There was like a group of people around us. I thought they were trying to get to the bar.
I only realized later they were trying to get to Parris. Parris leaves, and there was someone there who came up to me and he said, “Did he just gave you his email address?” And I said, yeah. And he said, “Wow, that’s big.” I’m like, “It is?” This person is explaining to me who he is, why he’s such a big deal, and he says, “I think there’s a rumor that he’s going to be starting a new copy cub group next year, and I’m really hoping to be in that group.” I’m like, “Yeah, well, I hope you get it.” We exchange email addresses. So, I stay in touch with him. I send some copy over to Parris. It was actually a spec assignment for Boardroom, and he sends it onto Boardroom, and then Parris and I ended up having …
I had these like little reasons to drop him a note. Kevin Rogers was doing Bullet, the Podcast thing, so Parris was being interviewed. I was one of the people who submitted. He must have got like 400 bullets, and he picked one of mine. I dropped Parris a note about that. I’m like, oh, I’m so excited. I don’t know if you know this, but you actually picked one of mine. We had just a very occasional email back and forth. And then a few months later, he invites me to what he calls a pre-training. Now, I hadn’t gotten any clients yet. I hadn’t had any professional copywriting clients yet.
He invites me to this pre-training and he says, “Well, we’re going to read some of the classic books and would you like to be part of it?” I’m like, yeah, of course. I get into that, and actually, the email he sends out to everybody, to start it off, it had this other person’s name on it who was saying, he was hoping he would become one of his cubs. Actually, I’m sorry. It was before that email went out, I sent him a note, and I said, “Hey, have you ever heard of Parris’s pre-training?” He goes, “No, haven’t heard of that, but good news, I’m one of his cubs.” I’m like, awesome. Then I get the email and I see his name on it, so I’m like in the same group.
And I’m like, does this mean I’m a cub? I didn’t know. And it’s funny because Parris and I recently talked about this, because since I was so new to copywriting, he didn’t want to officially have me be one of his cubs because he didn’t know if I was going to make it. Yeah, so he had me like on probation, and I didn’t know, but yeah, that was four years ago, five years ago. Yeah. That’s how this whole thing started. Just like all of this stuff started showing up for me, and I’m like, all right, I’m in, and I’ve never looked back.
Rob: Obviously we’ve talked to Parris on the podcast and he’s spoken at some of our events. Just meeting him and having him take an interest, it’s just fun to hear how he does that. My experience with Parris is that he’s exceptionally generous and supportive of a lot of us who have a lot less experience than he does, so amazing story. Let’s talk about some of the other magical stuff that started happening to you aside from connecting with Kevin, another great guy. Somebody who’s given a lot to our industry. What else started to happen so that you did start finding some of those clients?
Nicole: Well, okay. I did submit some spec assignments, and it was funny because I got two clients in the same week. I went from not having anyone to having two clients. One was, through one of these spec assignments, and it was for Natural Health Sherpa. I did some work with Henry Bingaman was the copy chief there. I did a little bit of work for him. And then, I had actually gotten, this was through Kevin, through copy chief, I joined a team, Tech Guys Who Get Marketing, I think is what it’s called, and they were looking for a copywriter. I was the copywriter on their team. I got paid by the hour, and I was just doing like whatever they needed, because they would have different clients.
I wrote for, it was mostly autoresponders, emails, but there were some other things as well, some landing pages and all that, but it was like I was writing for people in finance, for grocery stores, for some … There was some beauty. It was like all across the board. I was with him for about a year, I’d say, and that I never actually cold pitched it. It was more like word of mouth type of thing where I would find out about something or recommendations with people or from people. Yeah, it was more word of mouth.
Grace: Looking back, Nicole, I know you mentioned that it sounds like this magic just started to happen and things started to happen for you, but now that you look back, could you attribute it to certain actions that you took or a certain mindset or a certain attitude, or anything that we could replicate, especially for newer copywriters who feel that hunger and determination, now that you can look back four years and say, this is what actually was happening that I just didn’t see at the time?
Nicole: Well, one definitely I think was this whole mindset shift. It’s funny because I had heard about this whole idea of manifesting. I had read some books, I’d watched The Secret and all that, but I was kind of like, stuff just can’t show up like that. Well, one of the things they really talk about a lot in this whole manifesting thing is this whole thing about getting out of your own way and allowing things to come to you. So, you have to like be receptive. I think that was like … That whole thing back in that conference room when I was getting the pink slip, and that whole shift when I was like, okay, I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it’s going to be good.
That alone just shifted my mindset from hoping something would work out, wishing for something, to expecting it. I think when you actually expect something to work, you find ways. I do think the universe conspires in your favor. There’s that saying, and I do think it’s true. The interesting thing is someone wants told me this and I think this is absolutely true. You don’t have to see the whole path ahead of you. You only have to see the next step or two. So, it’s like walking through the fog. When you take that step, the other steps will start becoming clearer.
Part of it is really just about showing up and just being consistent, and doing things. Okay, now what do you do? Obviously one is training. I think a big thing is getting with a group of people, an accountability group. That was one of the first things, when I was in my first bootcamp, I was like, I want to have an accountability group. I was on a mission to find some other people who would commit to, basically getting on the phone once a week and just talking about what we’re doing, helping each other and all that.
We’re still at it. This is four years later, actually five years later. Yeah, we’re still at it. That I think is a really big thing. And we’ve also like, we’ve helped each other, we give each other leads. That’s been important. I think also, just being with a community of other copywriters or other freelancers, where again, you can share leads, because a lot of people, all of a sudden are like, they get too much work and they’re like, they can’t take it, but they want to have someone that they can refer. I think that’s a really important thing.
Rob: Nicole, I wonder if, maybe you can’t even answer this question because obviously your experience is going to be different from everybody else, but being a total beginner, starting out in this amazing group of copywriters with Parris as a mentor, do you think that not having to unlearn bad habits or that you hadn’t been doing this in the past that, that gave you any kind of an advantage as you started to move forward, or were you at a disadvantage because you hadn’t been doing a lot of the stuff that maybe some of the others in this group had been doing along with you?
Nicole: That’s a really good point. I actually think it was to my advantage, because everyone else had been a full-time copywriter for at least, I think, two and a half or three years. Parris said that, when he first talks to people about being a cub, he warns them. He says, you’re going to lose money because you have to commit to the training, and that’s a lot of hours every week. So, you’re not going to be able to take on the same amount of client work. But then on top of that, you have to unlearn a lot of bad habits.
And he says almost everyone comes into his training having to unlearn stuff, and I didn’t have that. I think that’s a really good point. The other thing is that I didn’t have any paying clients at that point. I’m like, well, my income can’t get any lower. Definitely, Parris says practice makes permanent. If you keep practicing the wrong thing, then you’re just going to create those neural connections, where that you’re going to like automate bad behavior, so I didn’t have to unlearn anything.
Grace: I want to back up into your career before getting into copywriting, which we just skimmed over, and talk about your time at MTV, Nickelodeon. You’ve worked for such huge brands and the branding side. Could you just share a couple, maybe a couple key lessons or takeaways from that time in your career that has stuck with you and could be relevant to other copywriters and business owners?
Nicole: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because when I first started in direct response copywriting, and I told people that my background was brand marketing and branding, I heard this over and over again. It’s like, oh, branding and direct response don’t mix. I actually thought, okay, I need to like downplay that whole thing. Actually, it was in talking to Kevin, so Kevin Rogers. I did a program with him, a mentorship with him, which is actually another really important thing I didn’t mention before is getting a mentor is really, really critical, I think to help you, because they’re going to … If you have a coach like that, they’re going to see things that you can’t see in yourself, and they can really help you accelerate your growth.
Kevin was the one that really encouraged me to look at how to connect what I was doing with building brands with copywriting. It’s funny, because there are pieces that are so incredibly relevant, like the whole thing about picking a niche. That’s one, and knowing who your audience is and who you’re talking to. Those things are really, really critical. I think, for me, personally, it was when I started to do that, that again, things started showing up for me that weren’t there before. When I put the stake in the ground and said, okay, I’m only going to right now for health and wellness, that’s it.
It was really hard before to say no to any … If someone wanted to pay me, I wasn’t going to say no, but I realized it was hard shifting gears constantly, and you’d have to learn a new lingo, learn something new. When I just said no more, I’m just going to focus on health and wellness, that everything became so much clearer and I knew where to put my efforts, where to spend my time. But that really is something that, when you look at Nickelodeon’s history, that’s how they became the number one kids channel. Because initially, Nickelodeon, they were trying to be a TV channel that parents would like to put their kids down in front of.
So, they thought, okay, we’ll show child prodigies and these really exemplary kids, and the ratings were bombing, this was back in the ’80s. They probably wouldn’t have had a future if they didn’t take the time then to stop and reassess and they started talking to kids. They were trying to find out like, what’s going on in your life, just this type of stuff that we do as copywriters, right? Talking to our clients and customers. It’s like, what’s going on in your life? What’s important to you? What are your struggles?
They found out the kids really, they felt like they always had to try and fit in at school. They wanted a place where they were okay just being who they are, being themselves. So, Nickelodeon did a massive brand shift and turned into the channel that was really the place where kids were winners, no matter who they were. It wasn’t about the child prodigies, and it was about like humor and kid humor, and all that type of stuff. That’s what made Nickelodeon really become very popular. And it’s the same sort of thing. It’s like, pick your niche and really understand them so you know who you’re talking to, and what’s going to matter to them.
Rob: What were the specific jobs that you were doing with Nickelodeon and MTV? What were the things that you were doing in your career up to that point?
Nicole: Okay. I was working on, it’s basically licensing, so it’s building consumer products programs for each of the brands or the shows. Back then, my first job before I went to MTV, MTV Networks, which owns … Is MTV and Nickelodeon, right? I was working for the Hearst Corporation, a division of them on called King Features Syndicate. They have a lot of classic characters like Popeye and Betty Boop. That’s where I was learning how to do this thing called licensing. Then I heard, like Nickelodeon again, they were brand new really, on the consumer product scene. They didn’t have any international channels, but they had shows like Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats, and they were starting to build consumer programs around those, and they were selling them overseas.
So, they needed someone to help them build their consumer products programs internationally, and that’s what I had been doing at King Features. I got hired to actually lead the launch of that initiative. It’s all about really understanding kind of what the brand attributes are and finding products that are going to work well with those attributes and really bring them to life, because you don’t want to have like a disconnect between the brand and the product that it’s on. Right?
Rob: Okay. Let’s break in here for just a moment and talk about a couple of the things that Nicole mentioned, a couple of the things that stood out to me, Grace. First of all, is just this awesome community of copywriters that she was a part of and that we’re all a part of. She specifically mentioned Kevin Rogers and Parris Lampropoulos taking a look at her copy, no preconditions, no assumptions that they need to be paid for that. They were just willing to help. We talk about the Copywriter Club a lot. We have communities like the Underground and the Think Tank where people do that for each other all the time. I think it’s one of the cool things of being a copywriter is just copywriters are the best people.
Grace: Totally. Yeah. That’s one of the things that I love about this community too, is just everybody really is supportive. There’s more of collaboration versus competition. Yeah, I agree. I think that finding a community has been, at least for me, it’s been so important. I saw a lot of my own story reflected back in Nicole’s. Once I sort of found this community, things took off. It makes such a big difference just to be around people who are as interested in copywriting as you are. Yeah. It’s a really special room to be in.
Rob: It’s not just people who are just starting out. I mean, Kevin and Parris, they’re at the top of the game, and they’re willing to share. We’ve had others that are similar, Marcella Allison and Kim Schwam, and the people who have come and spoken at our events, everybody just seems so willing to help give others a leg up or lift them in some way. Sometimes they don’t have time to look at copy or to give direct feedback, but oftentimes, it’s encouragement, it’s support, sharing of leads. It’s just a great community to be part of. I think part of that, as Nicole was sharing her experience, is that when you’re able to interact with people like that, getting on a mentor’s radar, the way that she talked about how she got noticed by Parris, how she found ways to reach out to him constantly is all part of that.
Just the fact that it’s so easy to interact with other copywriters makes it easier maybe to get onto the radar of somebody that you want to work with or work for.
Grace: Yeah, definitely. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year, actually. Because in a weird way, the past year of COVID has been the most social year of my life, because I’ve somehow worked my way into these communities too. Finding the mentorship and just getting insight from people who have been in the business longer than you, it’s really phenomenal. I think that there’s also something to be said about the kind of special relationship you build when someone notices you to and says, okay, there’s something interesting here. I thought it was really funny that Nicole got noticed by Parris, but had no idea who he was kind of thing. Just to me, it was hilarious.
Rob: It’s interesting. Like you, I love Nicole’s story and how she connected with the right people at the right time. I think that is partly because she was expecting things to work out. When she was sharing her story of the breakup of her marriage and the purchase of the house, I was flabbergasted, the stress that I would have been feeling in that same situation, and yet she just had this expectation that things were going to work out. I think that kind of a perspective, as you’re starting a business, is really hard to have when there are bills to pay, you’ve got to make the rent or the mortgage payment, and maybe you’ve got kids or other family that you’re supporting, that can be really difficult to do.
I’m not saying that it’s easy for everybody, but having that kind of an outlook on life really helps, and keeping in mind, you don’t need to see the end. You don’t need to see a way to a million dollars or to six figures, or to working three days a week or whatever those goals are. You just need to see the next step or two, and keep marching forward, and keep taking that. Yeah, then you go from low-paid work to better paid work and keep stepping it up, just as you Nicole shared, everything just went from thing to thing to thing until she’s built a remarkably successful business.
Grace: Yeah, and I really loved what she said. She said, “I’ve shifted my mindset from hoping something would work out to wishing for something to expecting it. It reminded me a bit of Annie Bacher a few months ago sent out a newsletter where she said something along the lines of, some advice that her mom had given her, whenever she’s kind of in a situation that’s stressful where she takes a step back and says, okay, how do I want this to work out? It kind of reminded me of that. That’s something, I think, reclaiming these stressful situations and reframing them in a way that sets you up for success is something that I definitely took away from this episode.
Rob: Yeah. I think maybe a way to sort of wrap up this portion of our conversation is just, as advice to you, a listener, find a support system, whether that’s people, a community like the Copywriter Club, Facebook groups, whether it’s a mentor, a coach who can help tell you what you need to do differently with your copy or with your business, or maybe it’s just an accountability buddy. Somebody you check in with once a week or once every other week to make sure that you’re actually delivering on your goals. You’re doing the things that you’re saying you’re doing and you’re keeping each other moving forward. Whatever that is, I think that’s my biggest takeaway here, and it’s the thing that’s made the biggest difference in my business and with the people that we’ve worked with in our groups. I see it’s the thing that makes the biggest difference in theirs.
Grace: Exactly. It also doesn’t have to be something that you pay for in the beginning. I mean, not to like plug the free Facebook group, but the community in there is amazing. There’s also a big community on Twitter of copywriters that are always willing to just lend a hand. I think the hashtag is #copywritersunite on Twitter, and there’s a lot of people there that are having these conversations, and it’s totally free and a great way to connect with other people.
Rob: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. You don’t need to spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars. You can buy a book for $20 or $10 for an ebook, and you can find lots of free resources. In fact, we’ll link to them in the show notes, but there are free resources that we link to on the Copywriter Club website that are amazing resources for learning copywriting. Most free resources, you don’t get a lot of feedback on that stuff, but if you’re just starting out free, there are so many resources that can help you grow. I’m really glad that you mentioned that.
Grace: Definitely. Something that I’ve been thinking about in my own life is when you’re looking for a mentor and they’re looking for a mentee, something Marcella said in her presentation in the Underground a couple of weeks ago is that you’re really looking almost for like a mate for life, which is something that really stuck with me. I think that you are looking for a mentor, you should be looking for someone that you can have this kind of a relationship with. I was impressed by the fact that Nicole was saying that she’s still talking to Parris, even if it’s five years later, I think. It is a lifelong relationship, which I think is quite interesting.
Rob: Yeah. That’s definitely a great way to look at it. I know a lot of people sort of jumped from coach to coach, to coach, but if a coach is helping you grow and they help you get from say where you are today to your first goal or whatever, what’s to say that they can’t help you reach the next goal or the next goal? So, finding those relationships that can help you certainly, as I look at the coaching relationships that I have, I still feel connected to those who helped me get started out and would do anything for them. I’m relatively sure that they would do most things for me. I like that.
Grace: Let’s go back to the interview with Nicole and ask her about her framework.
Rob: One last question, I know you’ve brought some things from your branding experience into what you’re doing in direct response. I’m curious, what are the things that more copywriters should be doing when it comes to branding and getting ourselves out there? Are there things in addition to choosing the niche and really narrowing down that we can take from the branding experience and apply to our businesses today?
Nicole: See, the thing is, when I’m working with a health coach and I’m trying to help them develop their brands, so that’s where we talk about those four principles, the person, promise, process, and the pixie dust. The pixie dust is the magic that you bring to what you’re doing and how you get results. For a copywriter, really the way … I think there are a few ways that we can look at this. One is if you have something that you bring from, let’s say other experience. In my case, it’s the branding piece. Now, my pixie dust is combining the branding, direct marketing, and copywriting. I’m bringing those elements together and everything that I do for my clients.
If people have some kind of experience like a previous experience and the thing is, it’s often hard for people to see it in themselves. Like I said, when I first started, I was like, I got to forget my whole branding. I thought I had to forget the 29 year experience I had previously and I was starting from scratch. There is something that you can bring to it from your previous experience. But if you also, another way of doing it is, if you create an offer and then you could have some kind of magic in how you do that offer.
Because I think that’s one of the things, it’s like when you’re just like a copywriter and you’re out there trying to market yourself as a copywriter, well, why should I hire you versus someone else? I actually just hired someone. I hired a content strategist, and it was really interesting being on the other side of this. I had a bunch of people apply for the work, for the job, and the people that really stood out to me were the ones who were like they made me feel very confident that they knew how to do this. This was in their wheelhouse, it’s their area of expertise, and they let me know that. They could show it to me.
Versus other people who were kind of like, yeah, I can do that for you. I didn’t want that. I wanted conviction, this is what they do. Because you want to hire someone to do a specific thing, so you want that outcome. I think that’s where part of this whole positioning thing is becoming the expert in a certain type of copy or whether it’s a niche, or whether it’s email copy, or website copy, or whatever it is, becoming the expert. Then you have your way of working with clients and getting them the results.
Grace: Yeah. Maybe you can share an example of what they did or shared with you to show that they were competent and that they knew what they’re doing to help you feel more confident that they’re the right person to hire. If there were anything specific that they did, or maybe just even other examples of what we could all do once we figure out our pixie dust to show it and to prove it and to put it out there.
Nicole: Well, the person who I ended up hiring, what she did is she came back to me with a proposal, and she basically said … The idea was I needed someone who was going to take my content, so my weekly articles, optimize optimizing for SEO, and then also basically repurpose that content into other social media posts and posted from many different platforms. She looked at my website and she actually said, “You know what? There’s actually,” interestingly enough, she said, “There are things that are off-brand here. The images in your blog posts aren’t good for your website branding.” And see things … I’m not a visual brander. That’s not my area of expertise. I’m the other part of the branding. You got the part that makes you look good, you got the part that makes you money.
I focus on the part that makes you money. When she came back to me, she had pointed this out, and she’d also made some suggestions. She knew I was trying to drive traffic to my website. That was the goal here was to get people coming to my website. And she said your website’s actually loading a little slowly. I did some tests and I found these problems, and I was like, holy cow, I wouldn’t even have known about that. She brought this like extra layer. She just made me felt like she was going to look out for me. She knew what my end result was and she came with other ways that she could help me accomplish that than just what I was saying I needed done.
Rob: That’s a great example of that pixie dust, the stuff that you can add on top of it. I feel like we kind of jumped right through your process. Can we like revisit the four Ps and maybe go a little bit more into depth into what each one is and why they’re all so important?
Nicole: Again, I created this for health coaches. One of the things is whenever I work with a health coach, they’re like, I can help anyone. I’ve got this training in helping people with their health, so I don’t really want to … They have this feeling that if I pick a narrow niche, then I’m going to be leaving money on the table. There are a lot of people out there that I can help that I’m not going to be getting their attention. I always tell them it’s the exact opposite, because as marketers, we know. When you try to market to everyone, you really market to no one. But this is like a big problem for them.
I have to help them with that piece of it. I said, all right, let’s … The four Ps, first is the person. So, what problem do you solve and who do you solve it for? That’s the first thing we have to narrow. I have a whole process that I take them through of questions. I’ve got a matrix, a problem matrix, so they can kind of prioritize which ones are going to be better for scaling their business, that type of thing. The next P is promise. People, like I said before, people buy an outcome. This is the promise that you can make them. It’s like your brand promise. Then it’s process. The process gives people … It helps to build rapport and also trust that you know what you’re talking about. It’s like, I know how to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
I have a process that does that. Then the pixie dust, again, is that magic that you bring that can … It can basically explain why you get them results when other things they’ve tried haven’t or … Here’s the thing, when it comes … It’s much easier for me to give you an example from the health coaching world. A lot of times what people think the problem is in their health is actually a symptom. If the person can come in from that angle and just say, they say something like, okay, I have high blood sugar and I’ve got type two diabetes because I’ve got high blood sugar.
Well, the fact is that, even though that’s what the conventional medicine says, that, high blood sugar is a precursor to type two diabetes, it’s not. High blood sugar is actually a symptom of diabetes, and the diabetes actually happens at another level. It’s more at a cellular level, right? It’s like having that knowledge that is going to help a person see their problem in a new light and one that’s going to help them to finally get the results that they’re looking for.
Grace: I’d like go deeper into the problem matrix because that sounds really cool. What is it? Is that something that other copywriters could create something similar? How would we do that and do you set that up?
Nicole: Okay. Well, I got this idea from the book, Positioning by Trout and Ries. It’s basically you make a matrix, a four quadrant matrix, and you figure out like, one is prevalence, so how prevalent is the problem? The other axis is intensity. Is getting rid of that problem a nice to have or how urgent is it? Is it really messing with their quality of life? What I do is I have the health coaches go through all the different problems that they can help people with or desires that they can help them achieve. Whether it’s six pack abs or whatever it is.
Then it’s like, okay, now plot them out here on this matrix. How prevalent is that problem? Do a lot of people have it, and how is it in terms of intensity and severity? That’s how you kind of plot that out. Then they can actually see, all right, yeah. You want to have something that’s going to be hopefully high in both of those, and that’s going to help indicate what’s a better area for you to focus on.
Rob: Yeah. I love that approach to thinking about the pain that we solve for clients. I just think it’s obviously really smart to be able to figure out how to address that sort of stuff. I’m curious, because you’ve got these two sides of your business, one where you help health coaches figure out their messaging, and then you’ve also got the side of your business where you’re writing direct response copy for health and wellness companies. How different is your approach from one to the other, or is it pretty much the same depending on … It’s the same process that you go through for both?
Nicole: It’s very similar, because obviously when you’re writing copy, you have to know who your person is, the person that’s going to be buying the product. You have to have the promise of what you’re going to deliver, the result with if you buy that supplement or whatever it is. The process part, the way I would equate that to writing sales copy is also about how you get the results or explaining, because you have to explain some things in the copy, explain why this is going to get them results when other things haven’t. Whether it’s a combination of ingredients or whatever it is about that particular product and how it’s going to get you the results.
And then the pixie dust would really be the unique mechanism or the thing that you found about this in your writing. It’s like the angle that you’re going to use to show how this product is different from everything else.
Grace: Before we move on from your process and this framework, can we talk about promises? Because you’re helping your clients figure out the big promise and what they can use, and then you’re also doing it with your own copywriting. I don’t know, where do most of us mess up when it comes to making promises, even copywriters who’ve been doing it for years? Maybe the promises they’re coming up with are not as good as they could be, and how do you direct your coaching clients, the health coaches to make great promises? What’s some advice you give them?
Nicole: Well, it really comes down to knowing who their perfect client is really, really well. Because it’s that the Robert Collier rule, you want to enter the conversation they’re having in their head. What kind of promise is going to resonate with them, but then how do you also take away that skepticism? Obviously when it comes to health copy, people are making a lot of assumptions or there’s all that skepticism because they’ve heard promises before. So, it’s really about knowing what’s going to resonate with your ideal client.
Whether you can kind of say I’m going to give you this result without you having to do all of these things that you don’t like to do, or that you’ve tried in the past and haven’t worked. A lot of times it comes down to being more specific. This is actually a really good example also from a positioning standpoint. I was working with a health coach once, she was a nutritional therapist. Again, she can help people with all kinds of health problems. I said, all right, well, so who do you like to help? We did the whole matrix thing. What kind of problem is the most severe?
She’s like, “Well, I actually help a lot of people type two diabetes.” I said, “Okay, that’s good, so you can help … That can be your niche. The person you’re going to focus on, the problem is type two diabetes.” But then I asked her more questions about her who, like who she does this for. That’s where things got really interesting because she said she actually works with a lot of truck drivers, and truck drivers have to pass the department of transportation physical every year. As you can imagine, a truck driver is sitting on a truck. They have a tight schedule. It’s not easy for them to get exercise in because of just what they have to do and what’s available to them.
They can’t like go find like a healthy option to eat. They really have to stop at whatever, places on the road, which is usually going to be like a fast food restaurant. But she can help them lower their blood sugar so they could pass the DOT exam in as little as eight weeks. There she went from a promise of like, I can help you lower your blood sugar in eight weeks to I can help truck drivers lower their blood sugar so they can pass the DOT exam in as little as eight weeks without taking time away from your route, eating nothing but carrots and celery sticks or whatever else. You know what I mean?
We really got specific on the concerns that truck driver might have about what this person’s going to make them do. That, all of a sudden, a lot of people would say things like, first of all, it’s hard enough to just pick type two diabetes, but here now, if I’m just going to say truck drivers, but there are like 3 million truck drivers in the United States, and 500,000 of them have diabetes, so that’s a big market. She’s got plenty of people there. So, she’s now become the perfect person to help truck drivers with their blood sugar.
Rob: Yeah. I think the other side of that’s really interesting too, because yeah, she’s got an audience of a half a million people, but when they’re looking for somebody to help them pass the test, she’s the only one, so it’s not just that she’s narrowed her market, but she’s made herself the only choice for a half a million people to choose. It’s a brilliant approach.
Nicole: Yeah, exactly.
Rob: Cool. Okay. I want to go back to something that you mentioned as we started talking, you were mentioning some of your mentors, Parris and Kevin, you mentioned the accountability group that you’ve been part of. I’m curious, what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned from those people that have helped you grow your business, grow your skills, the biggest takeaways as you’ve worked with people who are farther ahead on the journey than you are, and that maybe you can share with us who are also behind those people?
Nicole: One thing that’s really important is investing in your training. I think that’s something that you should, as copywriters we should be doing, and business owners or people who are trying to build a business, we should always be investing in ourselves and learning new things because everything’s evolving. Now this whole iOS update, that’s changed things a lot, so we have to keep up. The other thing is, it’s really important to have other people read your copy. I mean, that’s really critical, and that’s one of the things … Again, that’s how I started that whole conversation with Parris and Kevin, was like, I don’t even know if my copy’s any good. I need someone who knows what they’re doing to read my copy.
It’s the same thing now. I was actually just speaking to another health copywriter and she … When she’s working with her clients, she doesn’t have anyone chiefing her. I said, “Well, let’s swap copy.” When you have someone else read your copy, sometimes I have someone read it out loud to me, so they haven’t read it before. Just like read the copy out loud to me, because then I’m going to hear things from someone who’s never read the copy before, where they’re getting tripped up on things and how things that might sound funny when I hear them through someone else’s voice. But the other thing is just seeing how the copy lands for people.
I might think something sounds really clear, like I’ve made the connection really well, and they might be like, I actually had a hard time following this. That’s really critical.
Grace: Yeah, that’s such a great point is, not just to share your copy, but I’ve never really asked anyone to read my copy to me, to just catch those little mistakes or where it doesn’t flow either. That’s great idea. I’d love to just hear more about you and your schedule and just how you plan your time. Maybe it’s just a breakdown, but you have this business where you’re helping health coaches and you’ve got your own processes and that’s its own entity, and then you’re in direct response copywriting in the health space. You also are a Cub, like we’ve talked about with Parris. I’m wondering, how do you fit it all in and how do you manage it? Is it like one priority at a time or you’re just juggling? How do you make it all happen?
Nicole: Yeah. Okay. It’s so funny. I’m like, I’m old fashioned. I’m just like a piece of paper to track my time and my schedule. I just put it all. I’ve got a sheet of paper that’s got the week on it, and then I block off what each section of time’s going to be. Now, I have a retainer client where I’m doing coaching for his clients who are health coaches, practitioners, and doctors, so we’re helping them build their funnels, lead gen funnels. I’ve got those, obviously those are like set times every week. It’s usually twice a day where I’m meeting with them, but then I like to have … It’s usually like a three hour chunk of time that I’m going to devote to my copywriting projects.
Anything that, I’m writing sales letter, whatever it is, I’ll have like three hour chunks of time, and I try to do it every day, five days a week, have that three hour chunk of time. I’ll put the time in for Parris training stuff in between those two things.
Rob: Nicole, one of the things that we get asked a lot from people in our communities, free Facebook group, is, what are the most profitable niches to be in? The question is obviously asked because they want to move into niches where people can make the most money, and the answers tend to be like SaaS, or finance, or health and wellness, nutritional products, those kinds of things. That area that you work in, and I’m curious, what advice would you give to somebody who wants to break into writing for these kinds of companies in the health and wellness space? How does somebody break out, get noticed, get hired by one of these companies?
Nicole: Again, for, I mean, my own experience was just getting in there and starting to get connected to those people. Again, that’s where groups like your group or Kevin’s group, or the AWAI’s bootcamp, where you’re actually, you have opportunities like assignments. I mean, that’s how I did it. I know some people, they actually do go out and send cold pitches. Obviously the very first few clients are the hardest to get, because there, it’s like, you don’t have a track record, so what are you going to do? But there are a lot of people, like I found, who are looking for writers who are just going to do easier projects for them.
So, it’s like really hard thing to get in there as doing sales copy off the bat. There, you usually have to have some kind of a track record, but if you can start working with someone like, if there are certain clients that you would be interested in working for, just start connecting with them any way you can, and maybe you start off just writing content, like writing, if they have a weekly article that they put out, where you can write that. And then, as they get to know you, then you can start looking at doing some other things for them.
Grace: We’ve talked about so many of the things that you’ve done right in your business, and let’s flip it and talk about what you struggled with or what you’re still struggling with today. What is the hardest part, now that you’re five years into the business, what’s been the hardest part?
Nicole: I think the hardest part for me has been finding people to do things for me and to do it well. I’ve had terrible problems with like website, and paying people to do my website and not getting the results I wanted. I think, for me, that’s been really hard, is just finding people that I can trust to do the work that I need done.
Rob: Yeah. I think that’s a broad challenge for a lot of us. What’s next for you, Nicole, in your business? Where does it go from here?
Nicole: I’m actually looking to create a scalable offer myself. It’s interesting, one of the things that I want to be able to do is do what I’m telling other people they should be doing. If I’m like trying to get these health coaches to build their lists and create a scalable offer, I want to do the same thing for my own business. I’m looking at building some courses. I’ve got some great ideas on how I could help health coaches in a way that’s more DIY, something that they can do on their own. Maybe like taking them through those four positioning principles and helping them come up with their pixie dust. That’s the next in line for me, and I’m hoping to have at least one course launched this year.
Grace: Yeah, and maybe, as a follow-up to that, how do you approach if you know that’s the end goal is to have that scalable offer, what are the baby steps to get there? Yes, launching the course this year, but what else are you doing to move forward in that direction, knowing that you’re doing many other things and you can’t dedicate all your time to that?
Nicole: Yeah. Well, anything that you find that you’re repeating to people over and over again, that’s a really good candidate for something that you can put into a course. Just with my clients, I’m seeing like how they’re struggling with picking a niche and coming up their promise and finding their pixie dust or whatever it is, anything involving their positioning, so that to me is a sign that, okay, this is something that, again, there’s enough people have this problem and need help solving it, that I can create something that I know how to do, so I can create a course around that, that will help them to do it.
Rob: Nicole, this has been awesome conversation, you sharing your process and lessons learned, and so much about your business. If somebody wants to connect with you or get on your list and find out more about what you do with health coaches, with your copywriting for health and wellness companies, where should they go?
Nicole: Okay. I have two sites actually. So, pipercopywriter.com. That’s one that’s really for copywriting. It’s just a landing page, but I actually have a download on there that people might be interested in if they’re interested in writing supplement copy, because I have kind of some tips there. The other one is Ppperwellnessmarketing.com. That’s my website where I am building that coaching business, helping health coaches with their positioning. That’s another place where people can find out more about me.
Rob: That’s the end of our interview with Nicole Piper. Before we go, I think we should touch on a couple more things. Number one, and I know we went into depth in this pretty deeply with Nicole, but her framework is awesome. These four Ps, person, promise, process and pixie dust, it walks through exactly what she’s doing with her clients. It’s very easy to talk about and to understand without knowing the details of what’s going to happen in the interactions with Nicole, and so it gives her something that she can easily talk about during her sales calls, also on podcasts and talks on her website. It basically just allows her to help … It allows her to talk about the way she helps her clients without actually getting into so many details that you lose the clients and the details. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I just really liked her approach to the process.
Grace: Yeah. I thought her framework was pretty genius. I like the four Ps, and I thought that the way that she broke it down was really … It was super easy to understand. I really liked the problem matrix and looking at your customer’s problem from a point of prevalence, so how widespread is it in the market, but then also how intensely is your prospect feeling it? This is something in B2B SaaS that I’ve experienced at least, where for some personas, for example, they might not be experiencing the problem so intensely, but other people are, and you have to figure out the right gauge because the problem will vary per person, and I liked the … That’s something that I really took away and I’m going to apply it in my own work.
Rob: Yeah. I agree. The problem matrix exercise is so useful for figuring out, is the offer that I have, is the solution that I’m selling a curative? Is it a painkiller? Is it needed right now to stop the bleeding neck or is it a nice to have, a vitamin, something that people are only going to buy if the money’s right and if everything lines up? I think walking through that with a client so that they can identify, and maybe even change up the offer so that you really are hitting a pain that’s deeply felt with your client, I think it’s really genius. I think if there’s only one thing that listeners take away from this episode of the podcast, using a matrix exercise like that to intensify offers to really identify the problem is an awesome idea, one that I’m certainly going to steal as well.
Grace: Yeah. I thought it was particularly genius too. This is another thing that was discussed in the episode was the importance of having a process. Over the last year, I’ve hired a couple of people, and the ones who had a process for things like a webdesign, for example, where I don’t have that experience, it makes such a big difference just to have that process and to be like, okay, I can trust this person and they know what they’re doing, and having been on the other side, which again was another thing that Nicole touched on, but yeah, having been on the other side, it’s quite interesting how much comfort you can get from working with someone who says, okay, this is how I’ve done it before. This is the whole way that I work through these kinds of problems. Yeah, and I think that this problem matrix, as part of her process, is just brilliant.
Rob: I’m really glad that you brought that up, because we hear a lot with the copywriters that we talk to and that we coach, that they need to have results before they can put this stuff on the website, or they need to be able to share that they actually helped somebody get a six-figure launch or they helped somebody have a $10,000 day or they’ve got I don’t know how many hundreds of downloads, or whatever the thing is that they’re trying to do. That’s not usually true. What clients want is to be able to trust that you’re actually going to do what you deliver.
A process, like you mentioned with you, it helps build that trust so that we can see as clients, oh, I know what you, the copywriter are doing because you’ve got this process that you follow every single time, or you’ve got these ideas and these frameworks that you’re going to walk me through every single time you do this, and so those kinds of things build trust in ways that are really helpful in working with clients before you have results, case studies, testimonials, that kind of thing.
Grace: Yeah, definitely. I think it makes such a big difference. And another thing that I took away from this episode too, and that this episode made me think about was the idea of expertise. I think that expertise is kind of blown up. A lot of people feel like expertise, okay, it means that you have to be the best out of everybody in the industry, but it also comes down to just having a great process and something that gets you results, or that having something that gets you results or gives the client what they need every single time, that’s also a form of expertise.
Rob: I’m glad you brought that up, Grace, because Nicole has obviously gone very, very deep on her niche. When she’s helping health coaches, she’s helping them go deep on their needs too. I love the example of a health coach who can help fix this diabetes problem, and she’s only working with truck drivers knowing that there are 3 million truck drivers in the United States alone, and of course, there’s probably another couple of million worldwide, but she doesn’t need to work with 3 million people to make a great living. She just needs to work with a couple every month or maybe a couple of hundred if she’s doing some kind of a group program. Going that deep on a niche gives her a clear advantage, and I was talking a little bit about this directly with Nicole on the interview, but it gives her a massive advantage in being able to go after a very targeted audience.
She knows what they talk about, she knows the words to use, she’s just going to connect very deeply with them, and she doesn’t have to worry about anybody else with a diabetes problem who maybe won’t use the same jargon, the same words, the same insider language, so it just gives her a huge advantage. That’s something that we as copywriters can do when we’re going after our ideal audience, our ideal client, is to go very deep on the niche. We don’t just necessarily, this is an example, but we don’t necessarily just work with coaching clients, but maybe there are people who help coach people with money problems or debt problems, or maybe it’s even beyond that.
Maybe it’s people who have marital problems because of debt and, or maybe it’s before you connect with your partner, how do you work out money issues? You can go so deep on a niche and be so specific, and there are still going to be millions of potential clients who need your help with that kind of thing. Having your niche locked down, I think, is a killer, killer way to stand out.
Grace: Exactly. I like how specific she got in that, when you niche down with this level of specificity, you’re able to use more concrete language that paints a picture in the minds of your ideal client, ideal customer and not your ideal client. Yeah, so that’s, I guess another takeaway from this is that there’s no shame, or not no shame, that you shouldn’t have this fear of niching down, because if you can get really specific, then you open up almost entirely new markets.
Rob: Yeah, when it comes to expertise, just knowing more than your client, but also, as copywriters, as marketers, we do have this expertise that oftentimes we’re afraid to step into, and so just understanding what we know, the value of what we know to our clients who don’t know that, and our ability to help them create businesses, to create profit out of the expertise that we bring to the table is really important. Grace, is there anything else that stood out to you?
Grace: Yeah. I really liked the suggestion of having somebody else read your copy out loud to you. I’ve never done that before, and that’s something that I want to start implementing immediately.
Rob: Yeah. I agree. I think the idea of reading your copy out loud, it’s great, because obviously you’re going to catch mistakes, missing words, that kind of thing when somebody reading back to you what you’ve written, but also, you start to catch a little bit of that tone that doesn’t always come across in just copy, but it’s that tone that people are reading your copy inside their head. They’re hearing the tone there. They’re seeing the words the way you laid it out. I think that’s a really, really good idea. When I was just starting out as a writer, I worked with an editor who used to read my copy backwards in order to capture mistakes or missing words, or typos, that kind of thing.
That’s a really great editing trick. It’s a little bit hard to do that as you’re doing a read-through on your copy. It doesn’t help you fill the flow. It doesn’t help you make sure that you’ve connected emotionally, but reading your copy out loud does all of that, and so being able to, or just doing that I think is another fantastic idea.
Grace: Yeah, totally. I loved it.
Rob: We want to thank Nicole Piper for joining us today. If you want to connect with Nicole or check out what she’s doing in her business, go to pipercopywriter.com. That’s where she focuses on her copywriting business writing for a health and wellness clients. She has a free lead magnet there that you might want to find if you are also writing in the supplement industry or in the wellness industry. And if you want to, you can also check out piperwellnessmarketing.com, where you can see what she does to help wellness coaches build marketing campaigns to attract their best customers.
Grace: 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 heard, please visit Apple Podcasts to leave your review of the show. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and hang out with me in the Think Tank, check out copywriterthinktank.com.
Rob: I want to thank Grace for joining me as a guest host, guest injector for this episode while Kira has been out on maternity leave. Grace, thank you very much. Make sure you check out grace at her website, which we mentioned earlier in the show, and which we’ll link in the show notes. Thanks everyone, and have a great week. (singing).