Dayana Mayfield joins The Copywriter Club podcast for the 248th episode. Dayana is a SaaS copywriter who focuses on SEO and conversions. After deciding to pursue writing as a career to inspire her daughter to follow her passions, she found copywriting. If you want to learn how to grow your business through networking and online platforms, this episode is for you.
Here’s what we talk about:
- How copywriting and editing are completely different skill sets.
- Becoming the sole provider in a foreign country.
- What it takes to learn SEO copywriting and what the difference is.
- The pros of Upwork and going from $16 hr to $175 hr in 2 years.
- What you should do when you don’t have a copywriting portfolio.
- The better way to cold pitch and land new clients.
- How Dayana was able to save for 4 months of maternity leave in 1 year.
- Why you shouldn’t lower your standards when you need money fast.
- The future of copywriting. Is it still worth it?
- The benefits of verifying who you could potentially be working with.
- Misconceptions of the SaaS industry and why it could be the right niche for you.
- The proper way to vet your prospects.
- Why SEO is important and could keep your lead list hot and ready.
- Navigating manic bipolar disorder and having a successful business.
- How PR and SEO go hand in hand and why you need both in your business.
- Being multi-passionate and starting a second business.
- The difference between a vertical and horizontal niche.
- How you can find leads via podcasts and backlinks.
- What actually happens when you begin to niche down and position yourself as the expert.
Whether you’re reading the transcript or listening in, you won’t want to miss this episode.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
There’s more than one approach to choosing a niche, and the most common of course is choosing an industry to specialize in, but there are other approaches too like choosing a particular deliverable or a kind of project that you work on. That’s generally called horizontal niching. We’ve even seen copywriters niche by the customer that they work with. Our guest for this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is Dayana Mayfield, and she told us about how she’s adding a second horizontal niche to her business. We’re going to let her tell you all about it in just a minute, but first I want to introduce my guest host for this episode. That’s Tiffany Ingle. Hey, Tiffany.
How’s it going?
It’s going pretty well. Thank you for having me here. I’m really happy to sit down and have this conversation with you today.
Yeah, this is awesome. So Tiffany is a conversion copywriter. She’s worked in the nonprofit sector I think for like seven years before starting her own business. She writes conversion copy and she has a newsletter called Authenticity is Addictive. If you want to be on that or receive that, go to Tiffany’s website and sign up.
Before we talk with Dayana, this episode is brought to you by The Copywriter Think Tank. That’s our mastermind for copywriters and other marketers who want to do more in their business and their work. Maybe you have dreamed about creating a product or a podcast, or maybe you’ve thought about maybe starting an agency or a product company. Maybe you want to become the best-known copywriter in your niche, the person that high paying clients are always looking out for. That’s the kind of thing that we help copywriters do in the Think Tank. Tiffany is actually a member of the Think Tank, a new member. To learn more, visit copywriterthinktank.com, and maybe you can join this extraordinary group of business owners too. So let’s jump into our interview with Dayana and find out more about her business and the clients that she works with.
All right, so let’s kick off with your story. How did you end up as a SaaS copywriter, conversion copywriter, PR expert, all the things?
Yeah. So about six years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom and I had had my first daughter. And now this is a controversial opinion, but I didn’t want to just teach a daughter. This is what we do. We hope we marry a nice engineer that could pay all the bills. My sister-in-law gets pissed at me for saying that, but I was like, I didn’t want to teach her. Like what is that teaching her? Right? It’s like how is she going to have a good life if she doesn’t find a good guy? So I was like, “Okay, I really got to figure this money thing out.” And when I had graduated college in 2009, it was the recession. I come from a blue collar family. My dad’s a motorcycle salesman. I had no understanding of like talent. Like that businesses hire talent and that talent could be creative and you could make money for being creative.
So there was just no kind of understanding of the fact that you could actually make money as a writer. I think a lot of writers have that where you think it’s like the starving artist thing. So I was like 26. I was trying to figure out how am I going to make money? And I want to make money as a writer. And I want to show my daughter that you can make money doing what you love and what you’re good at. And so I started with editing because I was like afraid of like selling copywriting services. I kind of figured out what copywriting was because I was like, “Somebody is writing the back of this shampoo bottle. Who the heck is writing the back of this shampoo bottle? It’s the coolest job ever.” But I was like afraid even though I understood what copywriting was. I was like, “I’ll just do editing.”
So I got a copy editing certification from UC San Diego and then quickly realized that I was terrible at editing. You have to be like very nitpicky. It’s a completely different personality. There’s a difference between knowing where a comma goes and getting something ready for actual print publication. And I got my first B of my life because I had got straight A’s all through college. I got my first B in this copy editing certification. I was like, “This is not the thing.” So then I was like, “All right, I’m going to do like blog writing.” So I started pitching. Blog writing is a great start for a lot of copywriters. I started pitching local agencies to write blogs for their clients and then it kind of just went from there. You know how it goes. It’s like you got to just start pulling in clients.
So I did a lot of different things, email marketing, got into writing websites. And I was incentivized to grow my business super quickly because as a family, we decided to have my husband go back to school and get his PhD in architecture and engineering. And he has now founded a sustainable construction and engineering startup that takes kind of Roman architecture principles and is modernizing them to make structures last longer because Roman structures can last 2,000 years. Ours can’t. So his startup was all about making them earthquake-safe and modern so that we have less construction waste. So solving the world’s construction waste and longevity problem.
So I had to go from being a stay-at-home mom to being a sole provider in just a few months. So I was hustling. Yeah. And then I picked tech as my niche kind of slowly but surely. Living in Northern California, I know… Name any big tech company, I know somebody from college who works there. And so my relationships just kind of started going in that direction of like SaaS and software. So that was very fortunate that I picked a profitable niche within just a few months of starting.
I want to know more about the copy editing certificate. So I am terrible at editing myself, but what does it take to get a certificate in copy editing? What do you have to know? Or like what do you have to be able to do?
Yeah. So every UC, the UC system is like the University of California. So it’s like there’s Berkeley and Irvine and all the… There’s like I think 11 or 12 UCs. And so they all have those like continuation, like adult kind of continuation programs. So it’s not like you’re like in the bachelor’s program. It’s like their extension. So that was the one that I did. It was like UC San Diego extension. And it was $1,600 and it was a whole year. So I was doing this for a whole year during kids’ nap time. And so yeah, you had to take all four classes. It was like four classes spread over a year. And then I think as long as you got, I don’t know if it was a C or a B, but as long as you got a certain grade in each class, then you got the certificate. And so it’s their UCSD extension certificate.
And so that definitely gave me the confidence. I still think that certificates are great. Like when I started doing SEO blogs, I got the… A lot of people know this one. It’s like seocopywriting.com. Heather, she has a SEO copy certificate. I think it’s a smart way to start because it gives you the confidence. And if you don’t have like a portfolio or testimonials, it does give you something if you’re cold pitching clients or getting started on a gig site like Upwork, which I did. A lot of people hate Upwork, but I did do pretty well on Upwork for like two years and I got my hourly rate up to like $175 before I left. I would not use it now, but it is a nice start. Like I said, I went from stay-at-home mom to sole provider in four months. So for me, Upwork was an important part of that jump.
Can you talk a little bit more about Upwork? And I know you’re off of it now. It’s not part of your business now, but for copywriters who are on Upwork and want to grow fast and they may hear you say four months, how you grew so fast. How do I do it on Upwork? What’s some advice you would give them in that platform that could work today?
Just keep working on making your profile really, really good so that you’re getting invited to jobs as opposed to having to like fill out all of those applications. In the beginning, you will have to be filling them out, but just try to focus on your impact over effort. So just fill out the ones that are like easy, right? If somebody asks like eight questions and they want a whole paragraph for everything, just skip those ones and fill out the ones that are easy. And then always make sure you’re adding to your profile. So that could be having a great niche, having a specialization, having portfolio samples.
And then something that I did was I made my own portfolio samples before I had clients. So like when I was ready to jump from the editing to the writing side, at that point I didn’t know that I wanted to do software. So what I actually did was write travel articles. One thing I wrote was five places to take kids in San Francisco. I don’t remember what the exact headline was, but I basically made my own kid-friendly San Francisco travel article and then I used that on Upwork and in cold email pitches. So I think that there’s not really any reason why you can’t write anything, right? If you don’t have clients yet, write an email sequence, write an email course, write a website page, write a blog post. Like make your own portfolio. So I did a few of those and added those to my Upwork profile.
And then of course there’s just the truth that you can’t charge a ton in the beginning, right? Until you kind of have that confidence, you have that portfolio. I started with like $16 an hour, which is like terrible, but I just raised it. I was just raising every like few weeks after that. And maybe that’s not what other people should do, but that’s what I did. I started very low and then I just was like raising my rates like every month or every… Very quickly.
Yeah, I like that advice because I think Upwork sometimes gets a bad reputation among writers. In fact, we’ve talked down about Upwork too because it is a place where a lot of people get stuck working for low rates, working for bad clients. But I love that there are ways make that work. And the fact that you’re able to go from $16 an hour to $175 an hour. Yeah, it takes a little bit of time, but it’s good to hear those success stories, especially the advice to create that portfolio before you even start working I think is phenomenal.
Yeah, so that whole jump was like two years. That was like 2016 to 2018 was that $16 to $175, which is still pretty crazy, right? That’s still pretty fast, two years. And that did coincide with me picking my niche. So I would say I probably niched down into SaaS maybe within like six months of starting my business. For a while I just called it like tech copywriter because a lot of people weren’t really using the word SaaS. The word SaaS was like very new at that point. I think it really didn’t get used until maybe like 2014 or 2015, and it sounded silly. I can remember telling my husband like, “I’m not going to call myself a SaaS copywriter. What the heck is that?” And then once I realized that more and more people were using that word, I was like, “Okay, now I have to use this word.” But the niche helps a lot, right? It’s like picking, people talk about that all the time, a profitable niche where people do pay good rates. That’s a big part of it.
Okay. So I also want to ask about this transition period where you were the sole provider for your family. How did you make that work? Balancing… Basically, starting your own business or running your own business. Obviously your partner is off putting in tons of hours starting their thing and not bringing any money. So how did you approach work? How were you pitching clients? Like tell us the things that you were doing that really got you started.
Yeah. So luckily I had also done that SEO copywriting certificate, which gave me that confidence to share that it was going to be worthwhile, right? That there was going to be some sort of like ROI at that point. Now I do much more conversion copy and web pages and landing pages and A/B testing for SaaS, but at that point I was like mostly SEO. So I think it helped me to kind of raise my rates and have confidence because I knew there was like something valuable from it. So that could be anything. If it’s like email, okay, you’re going to grow your email list and increase your amount of leads, but just some way that you can sell like what is the point of this beyond just writing? So that helped a lot.
And then also we worked on keeping our expenses really low. The story gets a little crazier because during this whole thing, we were moving to Milan. My husband got his PhD at the Polytechnic University of Milan, which is kind of like the MIT of Italy. So it’s like one of the top engineering programs in the world. And so we were moving to Milan and I got pregnant with our second baby and I managed to save a four-month maternity leave within a year of starting my business. So I went full-time April of 2016, and my second baby was born May, 2017 and I had started my business and saved enough for a four-month maternity leave. So I was off from May to September. So we definitely kept our expenses low. I used like a budgeting tool. We only ate out like once a week. I didn’t shop at all. So I lived in Italy, but I didn’t shop. Being pregnant kind of helped because I was like, “I’m not going to spend a bunch of money on maternity clothes.”
Being pregnant definitely helps with reducing shopping.
Reducing shopping. It really does because you’re like, “This is such a short period of time. Why do I want all these clothes?” But I was definitely fearless with pitching, with cold email. And that again comes from that need to do it quickly. If I was transitioning from a full-time job, a lot of people make that transition over a year or two years or something. But once we made this decision, it was very, very quick. And so cold email was super, super important for me. So I would pitch agencies and then companies directly.
I definitely wanted to talk more about the pitching, but before that, before we move on, let’s just say I am a copywriter who hears you talking about how you saved four months of maternity leave and you did all this, again, so fast. What advice would you give to someone who all of a sudden might feel that critical need to make a good amount of money fast because they are now the breadwinner of their family or there’s some life change and now they need to pick it up and double their income? It sounds like one is reducing expenses, which makes complete sense. What else would you say could work across the board?
I would say too don’t be tempted to take on anything because you need the money so badly. Sometimes when we really need the money, we actually make like bad business decisions because we’re like, “I just have to take anything that comes.” And I did do that for a while. But then it’s like, at some point you need to quickly set standards, whether that’s like a certain company size. That was something that I started to do was like get away from these new launching businesses, businesses with no revenue. So start to set standards very quickly. I think that, yeah, people who need money fast, they’ll keep their standards low for too long because they’re just afraid.
And so also build up… As much as you can, try to build up that reserve of a few paychecks in advance, even if it’s just working two weeks in advance of your pay. Hopefully at some point you can get to working three months in advance, but even just if you’re working two weeks in advance, then trust yourself that you can say no to things and more things will come because the reality is like there’s still such a need for copywriters. I haven’t seen any signs of slow down in the market with like so many different people. So it’s like there’s a lot out there for you and there’s a fit for everyone and it’s basically you get to choose. Like do you want to work with the stressed out, newly launching business with no revenue or do you want to work with somebody who’s a little more dispassionate?
I like working with clients where they get that marketing is testing. They’re not expecting every single thing to work. They’re expecting to test things. The emotional stress of those two things is night and day. And this is especially true in SaaS where a new business costs a lot to make. Like you can spend $300,000. Hopefully, if you’ve hired the right development agency, it’s going to be close to $90,000, but you could spend $300,000 to $700,000 to launch a new SaaS. Those people are so stressed out. So pretty quickly I was like, “No, I’m not going to work with brand new products.” It’s just not worth it to me, right? Like as a mom, as somebody who I have bipolar disorder on the manic side, I’m open about that. It does mean that… You know what I mean? Stress can like trigger episodes which makes it hard to sleep. It’s not worth it for me to get involved with stressed out clients.
So I work with companies that are either funded or they’re already profitable. And I like them to have at least like 20 employees. If it’s like 20 to 1,000, I don’t like to go too big because then you get into all this corporate bureaucratic nightmares, but like 20 to 1,000 employees for a SaaS company is a good fit. And it’s so easy to check that in LinkedIn. And in Facebook, we’re all in copywriting groups, I love your group, and we always see those posts that are like, oh, this client’s not paying me or this is this and that, blah, blah, blah. And so much of it is because you’re working with a business owner that can’t actually afford to work with you. They’re working with you because they’re stressed out and they want something to work and they don’t have the time to do it themselves, but they can’t actually afford great marketing, right. So that’s the number one thing I would say is like keep your expenses low and keep your standards high.
And so as you think about that, you mentioned the employee number. Are there other things that you look for in a company when you’re establishing that baseline standard for the company that you want to work with?
That’s a great question because this is going to really depend a lot on your industry, right? There’s a lot of copywriters that work with coaches. So it’s like, how could you tell? A coach, they’re not going to have an employee head count on LinkedIn. Well, you could check their Instagram, right? If they have like 50,000 followers and 700 likes on every post, they probably have some money hopefully, right? Instagram is a huge platform for life coaches and of course graders and stuff like that. So that would be something you could check. You could also check like BuiltWith to just see what kind of like tools they’re running on their website, builtwith.com. Just check their website and see like what they’re using. Like if they’re using Wix and nothing else, they might not have like… They’re not spending a lot on marketing. They don’t have like kind of sophisticated things set up. But if you can see like they’ve got OptinMonster and they’ve got an analytics suite and some things like that, okay, they’re already kind of investing, paying something for marketing.
So kind of like sleuth around and see what you can find. Like for me in SaaS, it’s the head count and it’s also the level of complexity and like the audience. I do not love to work for SaaS companies that target software developers and engineers. A lot of people are like, “There’s no way I could write for SaaS companies. It’s way too complicated.” No, it’s not if the audience is not technical. It doesn’t really actually matter what the product or service is, it’s all about the audience because most SaaS companies, the target audience could be a solopreneur. It could be the head of marketing, it could be an office manager, right? So I really avoid working for SaaS companies that target highly technical audiences because I just don’t want to.
So that’s one. I’m trying to think of some other things. With SaaS, also the UX. I do not want to work with a SaaS company that has really bad design of their product. So I try to pay attention to like some screenshots that are available. I see if there’s like a demo video I could watch right away or sign up for a free trial. If the product is really crappy, not only do I want to not sell it, but it also shows you that they’re not investing money in UX and in design, which is like a really bad sign for a SaaS company. If they’re not trying to differentiate and impress their audience with design, that’s very bad news.
So yeah, you can kind of think about what are some of like the companies or coaches or consultants, whatever that you want to work with and check out their platforms. Like what does their social media look like? What does their website look like? What can you find out about them? And then kind of set that bar and try to figure out your own criteria and know what you will wiggle on and then know what you won’t.
I love that you’re sharing all of this because these are the questions that pop up so frequently, especially with newer copywriters. Like how do I know if they have money or not to pay me? So these are great tips. Could you also include what are a couple of questions you may ask on a sales call? And I know this is specifically speaking to SaaS companies, but what would be like two or three questions you could ask that would tell you right away if they have money or not?
Yes. So my favorite thing to ask, and I started putting this in my contact form so that I can get to this before I even waste my time on a call. And that question is how are you currently acquiring customers? Because that lets me know where they’re at. If it’s like, okay, word of mouth or not yet, then I typically don’t work with them. Maybe I would have a few years ago, but at this point in my career, if it’s word of mouth or nothing, I’m pretty much out. Then they might say… If they say outbound or cold email or sales team, then that tells me that they have salespeople who are doing SDR, sales development representative activities, they’re doing cold outbound, they’re doing cold calling, email, LinkedIn, something like that, but maybe they don’t have like content marketing set up, right?
So that tells me like I’m cool with that. That’s somebody that they’ve got sales working, which is very foundational for a B2B SaaS company, but they don’t have maybe some other channels yet. They don’t have ads yet. So maybe that’s an opportunity to work with them on ad copy and ad landing pages. If they say like every channel under the sun, then that shows me, it’s a very established organization that probably has 30 people on the marketing team. And that means I’m going to pay a bit more attention to what they’re asking me because then I might be interfacing with just one team. And so I want to pay attention to who’s the contact? Right? So it’s kind of that’s one of those questions where you can see where are they at already and where might they want you to hop in?
Another question that I ask in my lead form is what problem does your product solve? Because in B2B SaaS, that’s huge, right? Why does it even exist? So I like to see how much effort they put into answering that because then that will show me like are they just really lazy? It’s like, oh, it does this. Or they give me a few sentences, like why does this thing even exist? Right? And I did use to ask those questions on sales calls. I just put them in my contact form just to protect my time a little bit better. But yeah, so I would say for anybody listening to try to figure out what could you ask that shows what have they already spent money on? And then figure out is this business going to stick around?
For SaaS, it’s what problem does your product solve? But for something else, it could be what transformation do you provide? Or how do you retain your clients? Like if it’s a coach, right? It’s like, “Oh, so what programs do you have that retain your clients?” And they might say, “Oh, we have like this 12-month group coaching program that’s got 50 people in it.” And you’re like, “Okay, cool. So this coach kind of knows what they’re doing. They have like a program that brings in revenue every month,” versus they don’t have an answer to that question and then it’s like, okay, they might just be starting out and they’re just selling one-off sessions and maybe that’s not somebody that you want to work with. So yeah, poking around at what are they spending money on and how are they making money?
Oh, I love it. Listening to that to confirm that I’m doing a lot of right things in my own process, especially working with SaaS clients. So I’m glad to hear you repeat some of those things.
So let’s break in here and talk just a little bit about a couple of the things that Dayana has been talking about. The first thing that stood out to me, Tiffany, is when she’s talking about these certifications that she got first as a copy editor and then an SEO and the value of certifications for copywriters. Oftentimes I’ll see in The Copywriter Club Facebook group, people talking about, oh certifications don’t matter. Clients don’t really care about that stuff. And to me, the real value isn’t that you get a badge on your site or the clients are actually going to care, but it’s the things that you learn, but also the confidence that you gain as you study a skill and you start to do projects and explore that expertise and doing things. So certifications are valuable, but maybe in a different way than a lot of people think. What do you think about that? You’ve got a couple of certifications.
Yeah, exactly, Rob. I do have certifications from Copyhackers, and just like Dayana said, they helped me to feel more confident. And I think it depends on your personality. For some people they can just jump in and go for it and get clients, but then there’s other people who really want to have a structured approach to their learning and they’d like to have something to point to to say, “Hey, I am qualified to do this.” And that’s great.
Yeah, oftentimes when you go through a program where you get a certification, you learn a framework or you might get a set of tools, a process, something like that, and that can be really valuable too. So, again, impressed that Dayana went and got that as she was starting out in her business so that she could actually know what she was doing and it’s something that a lot of copywriters may want to consider in their business.
Another thing that really stood out to me, we’ve talked about Upwork several times on the podcast before, but Dayana’s advice about how to make Upwork work for you, improving her profile like over and over. Like every time she gets a project, updating that, raising her prices consistently, sometimes every other week or so. Just I think Upwork gets a lot of negative talk about it as a bad place where it’s price-driven, bad clients, and that’s not necessarily untrue, but there are definitely ways to make Upwork work for a copywriter that’s willing to go in there and do the things that you have to do with working with any client. And with our own personal websites, it’s really treating it as a channel for your business.
Yeah, Upwork is a tool. It’s a mixed bag, but it’s ultimately a place where you can dive in and see if copywriting is actually for you and see if you want to work with clients because it’s a lot different actually doing it than dreaming about it. So I’ve used Upwork before and I found some great clients there. And I also know some people who’ve been there making very little money for a long time. So it’s up to you. You certainly don’t have to use it, but if you do, you can find success by doing the things that Dayana did.
Yeah, you don’t have to be stuck there working for pennies for the word or terrible clients. There are ways to make it work. In fact, we talked with Danny Maguiles way back in episode 19 about his strategies for finding great clients and upleveling too. So if you’ve been listening to what Dayana said and thought, “Hey, maybe Upwork could work for me,” check out that episode as well. And I think I would just complete my thoughts around what Dayana was saying in that I really liked the way she uses Upwork or she used Upwork to level up from one client to the next.
So she wasn’t… Because she was raising her prices very constantly, because she was updating her portfolio there and her profile page, she wasn’t stuck working with the low budget clients, but she would leverage each one to work with a slightly better client until the point where she was billing $175 an hour, which for a lot of copywriters, not on Upwork, that’s a pretty good hourly rate. And yeah, so no complaints there about the success that she found and there’s something else that other copywriters might be able to implement in their own businesses. What else stood out to you, Tiffany, from the stuff that we’ve heard so far in the interview?
Well, I loved how she talked about exploring different types of writing before she settled on a discipline. I think it’s a really good idea to give yourself a chance to see what suits you before you settle into a specialty. And for her, copywriting happened to be that thing, but it could have been editing or blogging. And I think when you’re getting into business for yourself, the important thing is to make sure that it’s a business that works for you instead of trying to emulate someone else’s career.
Yeah, there’s this saying in the SaaS world where people talk about product market fit. Making the thing that you create work for the market so that people actually buy the thing that you create, but there’s also this idea of the founder product fit or the founder market fit where you the person that’s creating the product also need to like what you’re doing. And there’s no point in creating a business that you’re not going to love long-term. It’s like playing around with a lot of different ideas. We talk about that with Bree Weber earlier this year when she talked about the ideas that she was going through. She was experimenting with what she wanted to do to make money. And I think even once you settle into copywriting, exploring different niches, exploring different kinds of deliverables that you want to work on is also part of that process.
Experimentation keeps things fresh. And the thing that you start off doing that feels good is going to change, the more experience you have under your belt and the more that you improve your skills.
Yeah, I totally agree with that. And the more we play around, the more likely we are to find the thing that really is a good fit for us and for our business. One other thing that kind of goes along with what you’re saying there that really stood out to me is how Dayana really dialed in on her ideal client. When she was talking about who she likes to work with and who she doesn’t like to work with, that she’s very specific. She wants to work with companies that are funded and profitable. She mentioned, I think that she wanted to work with companies that have between 20 and 1,000 employees. So it’s that SMB space that people talk about.
Being very specific about your ideal client is really smart because as she pointed out, then she doesn’t take clients that aren’t a fit for her. She’s not working late at night or she’s not trying to do things that she really doesn’t like to do. She’s lucky that she’s gotten to that point in her business, or maybe lucky is the wrong word because she’s worked hard to get to that point in her business, but it’s something that I think more of us could really dial into who is that ideal client? Sam Woods talked about that in an old podcast as well, episode 13. And if you listen to that, he really goes all in on like exactly how much money, exactly how many employees, exactly where they are in their business and in launching the tool. So I think that’s something that more of us should be doing.
Yeah, I loved her advice to have high standards from the start because when you’re first diving in, there’s a temptation to just take anyone who’s willing to hire you, but that’s a mistake and it can lead to a lot of misery and the feeling that maybe copywriting isn’t for you when the issue is that you just need to be clearer about what sort of clients make you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Tiffany, is there anything else that stood out to you from our discussion or from what Kira and I were talking with Dayana about up to this point?
From a personal perspective, I loved hearing her origin story about how she was a stay-at-home mom, married to an engineer. I also had a season of being a stay-at-home mom, married to an engineer. And the reality is that 34% of stay-at-home mothers are living in poverty. And unfortunately, a lot of them don’t know how to help contribute to their household income while being a primary caregiver. So I think that Dayana’s story is really inspirational for any parent who is looking for a ticket into a better lifestyle through writing.
Yeah, when you shared that stat, I thought, “Wow, that’s amazing that many people are struggling at that level.” It shouldn’t be amazing because it’s in the news and we hear that kind of thing all the time, but having copywriting as a doorway to something better is… It’s awesome that so many of us are able to do it. And I agree. I think Dayana’s story about how she has grown her business from where she started to where she is now is incredibly inspirational and something that should keep more of us going.
Absolutely. All right, so let’s go back to our interview with Dayana and ask all about pitching clients.
Dayana, I also want to ask about your pitches. Now, you said that you were really fearless when you started out pitching and you had to bring in the work. I’m curious about what that looked like at that early stage in your business. And also how has that changed as your business has grown and you’re working with more mature clients, what do your pitches look like today?
So my top tip for pitching is to batch your customization. So I’m going to explain this like so. So as a website copywriter, I could look at a site and say, oh, it has nice design, but the messaging isn’t clear, or it’s too technical, or it’s missing out on headlines. Like SaaS websites, they’ll say like our features, why blah, blah, blah. You’re like, “That’s really missing… That headline doesn’t say anything. That’s like such a missed opportunity.” Right?
So for whatever you do, see if you can sleuth out some issues and come up with like three to five issues, and then you put that in a dropdown in your spreadsheet. So as you’re building your list of your target companies, select which issue they have and then you can send a custom email because it’s like it has that problem in the opener like, hey, I noticed on your website, blah, blah, blah issue. So it looks like it’s like you spent this time to write a custom sentence for each one, but you’re actually just selecting a custom sentence from a dropdown.
So on the copy side, that’s something I do, which if you think about it in email marketing, that’s like the segmenting your email list sort of thing, right? It’s just doing it for cold email. So segmenting your list and your copy is super important. In terms of finding the companies, figure out where they might be. So find a great podcast. So like this podcast if you want to work with copywriters, right? Maybe you’re an editor and you want to work for copywriters, you could cold pitch every single person that’s ever been interviewed on this podcast. You could go back hundreds of episodes and there’s a great list for you.
So finding those sources is a much better way to find leads rather than like sticking criteria in LinkedIn, right? Like trying to do searches in LinkedIn for certain companies. Find the source where those people are and then find 10 of those sources and all of a sudden you’ve got 500 or 1,000 leads. So that’s my top tip there. And like set a cadence, right? So it’s like, okay, I’m going to do five per day or 10 per day. Figure out what your goal is, how much time you have, and just make yourself do that. And that’ll also be good for your email deliverability so you don’t like freak out the email tech by like spamming all these people and it just looks like these normal conversations. And also with those semi-custom for sentences, you’re going to get higher opens and higher replies, especially because if it’s the first sentence that’s custom, it shows up in their email preview, right? So that increases the opens, not just the replies.
What they look like now is I have not been pitching for my SaaS copy business because I rank in Google for SaaS copywriter. So I have like more leads than I need, but I am beginning to pitch for my new business, which is exciting. So I’m starting to build a list for my new Pitch & Profit business, which is all about using digital PR to rank for SEO. So like a service that I’m offering is training marketing interns and assistants in digital PR because a lot of it is like manual grunt work. There’s just no way around the fact that PR is a lot of manual grunt work because there’s the research, there’s the pitching, there’s the follow-up. Yeah, so I haven’t started pitching for this business yet, but I’m excited to do it, especially because cold email was so important for my first business.
But yeah, I think that cold email is a great way to start. It gets a bad rap or rep, I don’t know, but it gives you better inbound marketing. So like that’s what I urge copywriters when they don’t want to do cold pitching, I urge them to do it because you can target who you want and then you’re going to get that testimonial, that logo, that case study, that portfolio piece, and then guess what? That’s going to make all your other marketing work better, right? Because if I just put SaaS copywriter on my website but I didn’t have amazing SaaS portfolio pieces, logos, and testimonials, why would anybody hire me? So use cold email as a way to make all your other marketing work way better because you get those foundational pieces that you need and you get to choose. People glorify, oh, I don’t pitch, I don’t do that. I don’t have to cold pitch.
So that’s cool if you’ve already built all these things up. But if you haven’t built up that foundation, what you’re saying is that you’re not necessarily like choosing what you’re going after, right? And then also not everybody is great at social media, right? Social media for me having bipolar disorder on the manic side is incredibly triggering. If I were on social media every day, I wouldn’t sleep. So I also get a little annoyed when people brag about not cold pitching because it’s like it works. It gives you that foundation of your portfolio, your testimonials, plus for a lot of people who struggle with social media for so many reasons, it allows you to build your business without having to be on social media. And there’s dozens of reasons why people struggle to be on social media.
I love that you’re sharing that because you’re right. Not every marketing channel works for every person. We’re all built differently and working under different conditions. And so there are different options we can take advantage of. Do you mind talking a little bit more about working as a business owner with bipolar disorder and how you’ve managed it? I mean, sharing one that you don’t go on social media as much or use it as a channel. What else do you need to do to navigate through the ups and downs of business?
Yeah, thank you for asking that. I think it’s a good conversation to have. At times it can feel like having like a handicap or a disability because we’re told to do all these things, right? It’s like if you want to grow your TikTok account, post one to three times a day or Instagram, do five stories a day plus a grid feed post. It’s a lot. So we’re told all these things and sometimes I get frustrated because I’m like, “Well, technically, I could do those. I’m creative enough. I know how to use these things, but the reality is I cannot do them.” Even with medication to help, which I’m on, I still cannot do those things or I just wouldn’t sleep and then I’m like all wigged out and then I can’t focus on work and then I can’t focus on being a good mom.
So I have to… Like I try to just be in social media just a small amount, like once or twice per week just for like 15 minutes just because you got to keep up with like messages, right? Because even if you don’t necessarily want social media to be a big channel, you can still get like messages and leads in there. So that’s one thing I do.
Another thing is like I’m very extreme on my schedule. So like on the days that I work past like 4:00 PM, I’ll just never sleep good and my brain will just get going with ideas and I just won’t be able to shut it off. So like I don’t work with companies in Asia. Like I’m not going to talk with somebody in Singapore because they’re going to have to talk to me at 5:00 or 6:00 PM. That can be a problem with Australian clients because like I could work with Australian clients and talk with them at 2:00 or 3:00, but they might have a lot of Asian customers because Australian companies tend to have a lot of Asian customers.
So then they might… If I do like the customer research interviews, because I do those with every copywriting project. So if I’m having to interview their customers at six o’clock my time, that’s not going to work. So I just ask them like, okay, if I’m going to do customer research, like where are your customers? Now, some Australian companies they’re targeting Americans more. So they’re like, “Oh, it’ll just be people in the US or whatever.” Right? So it’s just about my schedule. That’s really it, right? Because I want to keep to my schedule. So I work with a lot of European companies because like I’m in California, so eight o’clock in the morning for me is like 5:00 PM for them. A lot of Europeans work until 6:00 PM. It’s kind of like New York City like a little bit later schedule. So then that works well. Just keeping your schedule.
And you don’t have to explain it to anybody. That’s your Calendly schedule. It’s from… Or whatever tool you use. It starts here and it ends there. And if a client asks you for a sales call outside of it, then you don’t necessarily have to take that. And then I also just really pay attention not to overbook myself because if I’m even a tiny bit overbooked, the amount of anxiety is just absolutely not worth it. So I just use Trello to plan projects out. So when I’m like having a sales call, I just kind of look at my Trello board, I’ll just have a one column per week, and see how much is already in that week.
I think that when you’re in the beginning of your business, we’re all worried like how do I get more clients? How do I get more clients? But then you come to the point where you got to make sure you’re not overbooking yourself. And that’s a challenge, right? That’s like a constant juggling act and it’s like constantly trying to calculate things and figure things out. So I give that the time it deserves. I’m always looking at that Trello board and kind of moving things around and figuring it out. So make sure that you are taking care of yourself and have a system for very accurate scheduling and booking. Now I know some people have a VA doing that. That seems like an amazing feat to train a VA to book for you. I haven’t figured that out. Maybe someday I will.
Dayana, I want to ask more about digital PR and the work that you do there. As I’m thinking about my business or some of the businesses of copywriters who might be listening, like what should we be doing to get more digital PR? First question. And maybe a second question is how can we do more digital PR for our clients?
Yeah. So with digital PR, the first step is to kind of figure out your goals. Like do you just want backlinks and driving down the cost of backlinks to SEO posts and pages, or do you also want to get in front of new audiences and grow your email list or, you know what I mean? Get more people coming back to your site and grabbing a freebie? Like kind of figure out the goal first. For me personally, I like to do an and conversation instead of an or conversation. So when I look at digital PR, I want the backlink to a specific poster page, I want to get in front of a relevant audience, and I want to have something that I’m going to be proud to share on social media. So I don’t just want to get on any crappy, crazy-looking website and then have something that I’m not even going to want to share.
So I kind of like look at all three of those things. So that comes down to that research criteria, right? So if you want the backlink, you have to think, can you control the anchor text that’s linking back to your website? So like guest posts are a really popular form of digital PR because people can control the anchor text, but you can do that with a podcast interview too because at the end you can say, “Hey, go to website.com/page.” And then you’ve just controlled the anchor text because the podcasts hosts are going to link to that specific page, right? So then you get… And if the page is SEO optimized and if it’s short enough, then you’re going to get traffic from people listening because the URL should be simple enough. They can just type it in. Then you can get traffic from people clicking through from the show notes.
And then you can get traffic because if that backlink is going to that SEO page, you get enough of those backlinks plus the page is really high quality, then you can rank it in Google search. And then of course you can also share it on social media, stay top of mind with your existing audience. So that’s like the way that I look at digital PR is I want it to do all of those things for me. In terms of getting more coverage, niche is a big factor here, like getting clear on that expertise, having that media bio, knowing what your niche is, making sure it’s clear across all your social media profiles and your website. Just update that so that it’s like very cohesive.
And then a great first start is like pitching people and companies that you already know. So one unexpected source of publicity would be to be a case study. So for example, I was like… I’m not as into selling cold email at this point, but a couple of years ago, I was selling cold email as a service, cold email writing as a service for SaaS companies and I was doing cold email for myself. And so I was like, “Okay, I’m using Reply.io as the tool.” So I reached out to them and was like, “I’d love to be a case study because I’m getting like 80% open rates and 40% reply rates on my cold emails using Reply as the automation tool for like the follow-up and everything.” And so they interviewed me and then I was a case study.
So then I used that to sell my services, like my cold email services. If somebody would fill out my contact form and they asked about being… Or they asked about like if I could write cold email or they saw my cold email service page, whatever, then I would follow up in the follow-up email. I’d be like, “Oh yeah, these are my rates and like here’s this case study.” And that shows a lot, right? It’s like, okay, you’re a case study for a cold email software showing how good your cold emails are, right? So figure out how can you link your service to the PR?
Like make your PR as close to your service as possible so that it’s not just that little blip in the pan or a flash in the pan, I can’t talk today. Blip in the pan. Anyways. So that you can also use it in your sales, like use it in a nurture sequence, right? Because you could put it in an automated sequence that was about three tips for cold email. And then it’s in there and then at the end it’s like, “Hey, do you want me to write your cold emails? Just reply and we’ll talk or schedule a call with me here.” So getting really clear on what you’re selling and then just reaching out to whether it’s like other companies like that, a case study, or it’s a podcast interview, or it’s like a guest post, or you’re reaching out to entrepreneur and Forbes contributors saying, “Hey, I can contribute a quote.” Get very specific. Don’t use digital PR for like your top of funnel content. Use it for like the very bottom of the funnel of what you are selling.
Dayana, can you talk about your business as a whole and how you have approached building your business model because you have these two sides, right? It sounds like the PR side and then you have the services for SaaS companies. How does it all fit together and how did you approach it when you built it?
So I launched Pitch & Profit six months ago, and the motivation at the beginning started with wanting a horizontal niche. So I have a vertical niche because for anybody listening, the difference is vertical is the type of company or the type of business, right? So that could be SaaS, healthcare, law, life coaching, right? That’s a vertical. And then the horizontal is the type of thing that you do. So email copy, writing case studies, writing ads, right? Those are the horizontals. So I was kind of like looking at people whose businesses I admire like Tarzan Kay being known for emails, Allie Bjerk being known for tiny offers. So I was kind of thinking like, where do I want to go next? My SaaS copywriting business is an amazing foundation, but I was thinking like, how can I come up with something that’s more scalable?
And I personally don’t have enough sanity to run an agency. And everybody I know who has an agency is trying to like get out of it. Like they’re trying to like innovate themselves out of it. So I was like, “I’m not creating an agency. That’s just not what it’s going to be.” Right? So I was like, “Okay, what’s going to be my horizontal?” So I was thinking about different things and I was thinking about how I’m going to help my husband grow his sustainable construction and engineering startup. And I was like, “Publicity.” Like I love publicity. So that was how I came to choose this business.
At this point they are separate businesses though I do have some crossover with the clientele, like some SaaS clients that I’m selling them this new service. So what I wanted to do was like, okay, now publicity, how can I differentiate this? So I’m thinking, what can my differentiators be? So I decided they would be using publicity for SEO and then also avoiding agencies because what I noticed was it was very hard for me to do my own publicity. Like it’s so hard to DIY your publicity because it’s so much grunt work, right? There’s so much research and follow-up, but then I was also like, “Well, I’m not going to hire a PR agency because that’s pretty expensive.”
So then I thought, “All right, my differentiator can be training your virtual assistant or your intern in publicity.” And that doesn’t have to be monthly. That could be project-based. Like you could do a one-time project and hire a VA to make a list of 200 contributors who cover businesses just like yours. And you can connect with those contributors on social media, follow them, comment on their stuff and then pitch them, right? So that could be like a project-based. So that was how I came up with this was wanting that horizontal, choosing publicity, choosing those two differentiators of SEO and then freelancer training.
And then I was like, “All right, now we need the offers.” So I have three main offers. One is when somebody just buys the $400 PR team training course. The other is when somebody buys the course plus they want me for hands-on training. So in that case, I talk with the business owner or the head of marketing, we would develop the strategy, then I fill out the briefs for the VA. The briefs are part of my course, but then I fill them out so that the CEO or marketing person doesn’t have to.
Then I tell the VA which videos to watch so they kind of like have common grounds. We’re on the same page. So they know here’s the brief, which training videos to watch. Then we do two months of coaching for like implementation. Very specific like drilling down into their more like specific scenario. So with that package, I can charge more than if I was just doing the service because they’re buying the course too. So it gives me a bit more revenue, but part of it is scalable. So it’s like half of it is scalable because it’s a course and then half of it is not because it’s my time.
And then the third offer is like doing list building and like strategy for them if they just want like a quick start. So that’s like, okay, let’s talk through your strategy, figure out what you’re going for, and then I’ll build a list of ideal outlets and some story pitches and your media bio. The cool thing about that is that I do outsource part of that. So I outsource like the research and the context stuff to my VA and then I do like the headlines and the media bios and things like that. So it gives me a business that’s partly scalable, partly requires my time and then partly doesn’t because there’s things that my VA can do and there’s things that are just in the program right away.
I love this like broad look at your business and how it all fits together. It’s so helpful to see a business that’s built out so intelligently. And again, I have probably another dozen questions that we could ask about that, but unfortunately we’re out of time. So we may need to have you come back for a part two at some point or have you come into The Copywriter Underground and share more depth about how you’ve built this kind of a business, Dayana. It’s phenomenal. So thank you for sharing all of that. Barring that, if somebody wants to connect with you, find out more about what you do, how you do it, they’re interested in digital PR, your course, all of that, where should they go to learn more?
Yeah, so I would love to come back. We could do a debrief because this is six months in the making. So we could give it like a year or two years and it’s like, okay, can you switch all the way to horizontal as scalable? We could kind of dive into some good and some bad along the way. But to find me, you can go to pitchandprofit.com/seo-pr. And there you will find my SEO PR strategy and my checklist and services that you could buy, not even necessarily mine, but just information on like how do SEO PR go together? How do they not? All of that good stuff.
And to kind of wrap that up, just the quickest way that I like to explain SEO and PR is SEO is you telling Google who you are and then PR is other websites telling Google who you are so that you’re not just tooting your own horn. So Google has information coming from all over the place that this is the SaaS copywriter or this is the digital PR strategist so that Google has got it from all angles and they’ve got no choice but to rank you because you are the authority. So yeah, again, it’s pitchandprofit.com/seo-pr.
So that’s the end of our interview with Dayana Mayfield. Before we go, I think we should touch on just a couple more things that she was talking about. First, this idea of going back to… We mentioned it I think in the first segment, but she talked about it more here, this idea of fearless pitching. And when we’ve talked about pitching in the past, we’ve had guests that have come on and shared really good strategies for how to pitch, how to cold pitch, how to get through that process, but I love that she calls it fearless pitching because even with processes, even when we know we need to do it in order to attract those first clients, or maybe we’re even a year or two into our business and we’re at a dry spot and so we need to go out and find clients to fill those holes, we need to be fearless about it.
And that cold pitching process is one that it’s scary. The rejection is real, the time put in. And then we get that pushback or the rejection is hard. And so being fearless about it I think it’s just a nice frame for the idea of pitching and how we should approach it.
Yeah. And the other thing I really liked that she said as far as customization, her system works because she is very clear on the problems that she wants to solve for her ideal clients. And so that makes the pitching process a little less intimidating and easy to be consistent with on a day-to-day basis like she talks about.
Yeah, I agree. Her approach is smart and she’s doing a lot of things right. And I think that goes along with what she was talking about in finding leads in a way that works with her business. She sort of approaches it in a non-traditional way. So how she described finding leads by looking at podcasts versus LinkedIn, the leeway that that gives you or the additional in that you have as you pitch. Just again, another smart strategy that… I hadn’t ever heard of anybody using podcasts in that way. So something that I may try the next time I have to pitch.
Yeah, that was a very, very creative approach that she shared. And I think that definitely resonates with me. And for anyone who would love to add some warmth to their pitches, that seems like a really smart way to go about it.
Yeah, the other idea she shared that I thought was genius was reaching out to the creator of the tool Reply.io and offering to be a case study for them. What a smart way to get in front of tons of potential customers who need copywriters who will understand the tool that you use. And I’m not saying that other copywriters should reach out to Reply.io and do the same thing, but if you’re doing something amazing with ConvertKit or another email service provider, or if you’re using another tool in a way that is bringing results for you in your business or for your clients and their businesses, reaching out to some of those companies and offering to be a case study, offering to write the case study that gets your name in front of their client base, again, is genius.
Yeah, I agree 100%. I think that Dayana shows us that if you do a little creative thinking that there are so many opportunities to become more visible and to build your authority by just looking at your natural network and asking. The worst that will happen is someone says no, but you may end up getting a surprise like she did.
One last thing that really stood out to me, and I think we really had to talk about this a little bit, is just the addition of the horizontal niche and the vertical niche and doing different things in your business. So, as we talked about in the intro for this episode, vertical niching is when you choose a niche, let’s say like medical or aeronautics or coaches or something like that, and you go all in on that, versus a horizontal niche, which is maybe like I want to write email sequences. And it doesn’t really matter what the industry is. I’m just going to specialize on email or sales pages or blog posts or whatever the thing is. I like that she has created not just a vertical niche for her, but that she’s recently launched this site that adds a horizontal niche to her business. And it’s another way to experiment and play and do something a little bit different and maybe attract a different kind of client that she can serve and again, grow her business with.
That just goes to show that there are so many ways to grow your business and it’s important to stay open to the possibilities as you stay on your journey.
Let me say just one more thing about niches before we go. I just was recently going through the salary survey that we conducted earlier this year preparing it for the report that’s going to be shared with the Underground in the Underground Newsletter, and one of the most interesting things that comes out of that data is around niches. Specifically, we looked at copywriters or we asked copywriters to tell us if they had a niche and only worked in that niche, if they had a niche but also worked in a few other industries, and if they had no niche at all. And the copywriters who had a niche earned 96% more money than the copywriters who had no niche. And even that middle group of copywriters who have a niche but work in several different industries, different niches, they still earned almost 50% more than copywriters without a niche.
And so we often think that niches are going to limit our opportunities, are going to limit our ability to make money and the data simply just doesn’t prove that out. The best thing that you can do to earn more money is to choose a niche. And I’m going to be sharing more of the details of that salary survey in an upcoming episode, probably episode number 250 in a couple of weeks. So if any of that information is interesting to you, be sure to tune in in a couple of weeks. Okay, so Tiffany, is there anything else that stood out to you in this interview with Dayana?
Yeah, choosing a niche is very helpful. And I know that sometimes people hesitate to choose a niche because they think it’s going to limit their options, but it actually gives you more options. Just because you have chosen a particular niche doesn’t mean that you’ll never get opportunities to try something new. It’s just about positioning yourself and giving yourself focus and clarity in those early days so that you can grow your business faster. I just love how tenacious she’s been about her career. I find it really inspiring and I look forward to implementing some of her strategies in my own business.
Yeah, I agree, Tiffany. Tenacity and just the approach that Dayana brings her business is refreshing and something that we can all learn from, something that maybe we can do just a little bit better in our own businesses. We want to thank Dayana Mayfield for joining us today. If you want to connect with her or check out what she’s doing with her horizontal niche, go to pitchandprofit.com. And if you want her SEO PR checklist, go to pitchandprofit.com/seo-pr.
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 your review of the show. And if you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and finally achieve your goals, visit copywriterthinktank.com. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.
And I want to thank my guest host for this episode, Tiffany Ingle. Thank you so much for joining me and sharing some of your knowledge as we look back at the things that Dayana shared. It’s been awesome having you here.