For the 46th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, our friend, copywriter and comedian, Lianna Patch stops by to tell her story (she starts at the very beginning) about making copywriting her career. During the next 40ish minutes share also shares:
• Why she chose humor as her “hook” for copywriting clients
• her snarky answer to the dumbest question Rob has ever asked
• the enormously helpful life hack that would freak out AA
• how the rules of comedy can improve your copywriting
• how to be funny without being nasty
• what she did to land her first (and second and third) speaking engagements
• how she deals with projects that scare her
And we cover a whole lot of other ground too. Like what brands are doing a good job with humorous copy and the advice she has for new copywriters. Plus, Lianna is the first guest to tell a joke on the podcast. As you’ve come to expect, this is another solid episode packed with ideas you can put to use in your business. To hear it, click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Mastermind
Lianna’s Sustainable E-Commerce Post
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week
Boomerang for Gmail
5 Ways to Be Funnier in Your Copy
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Airstory, the writing platform for professional writers who want to get more done in half the time. Learn more at Airstory.co/club.
Kira: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failure, their work processes, and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Rob and I do every week at the Copywriter Club Podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the club for episode 46, as we chat with freelance copywriter, Lianna Patch about the challenges of leaving an agency job to strike out on her own, getting attention at conferences, her copy optimization service called Snap, and whether there’s a place for rubber chickens and whoopee cushions in copywriting.
Kira: Hi, Liana. Hi, Rob.
Rob: Hey, guys.
Kira: How’s it going?
Lianna: Good. Thanks for having me.
Kira: You’re welcome. I think a good place to start is just finding out if you were funny as a kid, and what you wanted to be when you grew up. I feel like that’s the question I want to know.
Lianna: Oh, okay.
Rob: Did you always have a buzzer in your hand for handshakes? And rattlesnake eggs to hand the kids at school?
Lianna: I think I was the unintentionally funny kid. I still have this expression, like I still have serious resting bitch face. My parents used to call me Little Miss Thundercloud because my resting face. I would say things that I thought were very serious and they would laugh at me, and then I would go, “Don’t laugh.” So, it’s kind of like a 180 from there.
Rob: Tell us your story.
Lianna: My story? Well, my dad loved my mom very much and so after they had my brother they were like, “This one’s a dud. We should probably try again,” and then I was born. Fast forwarding to now, I’ve worked in a couple agency settings, it didn’t seem to stick. I was doing my own stuff on the side throughout, and then everything kind of gelled when I took the first Copywriter Mastermind with Joanna Wiebe and I started to figure out that I should pinpoint humor, and that I should focus just on copywriting because I had noticed that I was getting way too deep into editing, especially publications editing, and I hated it so much. But, then I looked at my work schedule and it was like, “All I’m doing is editing magazine and I’m not writing anything.” So, I sort of refocused, rebranded, and I’ve been writing fun, and funny stuff, and much more conversion copy oriented stuff since then.
Rob: So, Lianna, you said that during the Mastermind you sort of figured out that you wanted to focus on humor. What was that process and why did you land on humor as opposed to something else?
Lianna: I think there was some of that soul searching stuff that all of the online gurus are always telling you to. Like, “What do you love doing the most? What makes you happy? What doesn’t feel like work?” I had also just interviewed one of the people who runs the comedy theater here, that I eventually got involved in, and I had a good time chatting with him and then he said, “Why don’t you come take a class?” so, I did that and then i ended up taking all the classes and graduating from the Conservatory, and I’ve been doing improv, and sketch, and stand-up since then. It was like, “Okay, I’m already doing comedy in my life, why don’t I try to make my work more fun? Who says I’m not allowed to do that? Why isn’t anyone doing that?” There are people, for sure, already doing humor copy, but I thought there was a little bit more room for me to squeeze in.
Kira: So what has the evolution been like for you to really create these services and almost like prove to the market that it’s important? I imagine it hasn’t been easy.
Lianna: I’m still figuring it out. When I think about where humor copy works best … obviously when you’re right in the call to action it’s probably not a good place for humor because you don’t want to distract anybody, you want them to just click through, you don’t want to be clever over clear. But I think there’s a lot more room for humor in emails, obviously social posts, and lately I’ve been doing a lot more funny content. So, when people come to me for long form content, I make sure ahead of time that they’re okay with me being kind of weird and a little bit … I think, not offensive, but occasionally a little bit borderline. One time I did a long form content piece that I worked so hard on and then I saw the edited draft and they had just cut out all my jokes.
Kira: Oh, no!
Lianna: Yeah, and I had checked with them ahead of time to make sure. It was like, “Did you come to me for my style?” And they were like, “Yes.” They came to me, so when I saw the final draft I was like, “Wait, what happened?” Now I try to make sure ahead of time that people know that they want me, they don’t want just regular old-
Kira: Well, it’s all so obvious on your website. It should not be a surprise.
Lianna: Yeah, hopefully.
Rob: Anybody that lands on your website and then wants serious copy, there’s some serious understanding issues, right?
Rob: Let me ask this question: What’s so wrong with boring copy? For 99% of copy out there is boring, or at least plain and simple. What’s wrong with that?
Lianna: Boring inherently is terrible, isn’t it? Who’s like, “You know what I want to do? I want to read a really boring book. I want to watch the worst movie.” If you can make it better, why not? If there’s an opportunity to entertain along with educating and informing, and building a relationship, why not? I think there’s different ways to do it, you don’t have to be kind of obnoxious and absurd about it. But that’s my favorite way. You can be sweet and helpful and still lighthearted. There’s a lot of different ways to approach it, but all of them I think are better than just corporate robot copy.
Kira: Yeah. Do you think that we are all funny in our own way? Or are there shades of gray? I feel like we almost put ourselves into these categories of like, “Lianna is funny, but I’m not funny so I can’t even approach this with a sense of humor.”
Lianna: Oh, man. This is the question, “Is everybody funny? Can everybody be funny?” I think so because everybody laughs, right? Some people laugh more than others, everybody has a different sense of humor. But if you spend a couple weeks mindfully paying attention to what you find funny, and what makes you laugh, then you can start to find patterns in that and maybe emulate it, you know? Not everybody thinks the same things are funny but everybody has a sense of humor. I hope. God, I hope.
Rob: If we were thinking, “Hey, The Copywriter Club website I pretty boring,” it’s just transcripts or whatever. Or my own personal website is maybe a little bit plain, it doesn’t bring out my personality. What sort of things could I do, or could Kira and I do, or another writer do to start to be funny in a way that’s natural?
Lianna: Starting with that process of figuring out what is funny to you, that’s the good baseline. Then, looking at your favorite movies, and books, and podcasts, and comedians, and figuring out … I know I’m just repeating myself, but what you find funny and then taking a risk. Take a calculated risk somewhere in the copy where you say something that is gonna be divisive, and see how people react. I’m sure that I get tons of people coming to my site who take one look at it and they’re like, “Nope. Not for me.” But then the people who do get in touch with me say things like, “I loved your website copy.” I finally added that question to my intake form. You know, “Why are you interested in working with me specifically?” It’s the last question on the intake form and most people who answer it say, “Because I like your website copy. Because you’re funny.” Someone wrote to me the other day and they’re like, “You seem warm and friendly, and it feels like you’re approachable.” And that is 100% what I’m trying to accomplish.
So, I think you know just being you, which is the advice that everybody gets, “Just be you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.” But, really, do. Make a joke that you think is funny. Be self indulgent and see who it attracts.
Kira: It seems like there’s some confidence in there, too, and a mindset switch that you need. Because especially a lot of new copywriters might feel intimidated to put out that joke on their website because they think it should be a certain way, or maybe they have a strange sense of humor, and they’re worried that no one will actually connect with their sense of humor, so it’s almost like they have to just really build their confidence enough so that they’re willing to kind of put it out there. That doesn’t happen immediately, right?
Lianna: Might I suggest box wine for that? That’s a really helpful life hack that I’ve discovered. I honestly wish that I had done more of that confidently putting myself out there sooner, because for so long my brand was kind of just like, “Meh.” I feel like that was a lightyear leap ahead for me. But, there is always the person at the open mic who goes up and confidently tells the worst, most offensive jokes, and you don’t want to be that person. So if you’re not sure, ask a friend, ask someone who’s opinion you trust. Like, “Hey is this funny? Is this over the line? Is this connecting the right way,” and not just making people think, “Wow, this person is weird.”
Rob: Lianna, you mentioned that you’ve done comedy theater, you’ve done improv, and sketch, and even stand up, so I think a lot of people would say, “Well, yeah okay, it’s easy for you because you’ve had this training on how to be funny. What about the rest of us?” What are some lessons from improve and sketch that we could take, without necessarily taking those courses, to make ourselves funnier? At the very least, to make some of our copy funny?
Lianna: Well, first get drunk and that’s really…
Kira: You know, I’m sorry. I keep saying that, “I’m sorry everyone.” That is clearly gonna be the headline for this podcast.
Lianna: Get Drunk, Write Funny, and other sentences that aren’t really … The baseline rule of improv no matter where you take it is, “Yes, and?” Say yes to your weird ideas. Say, “Okay, if this is so, then what else is true?” So, instead of editing as you’re writing, or instead of criticizing your own jokes as you’re writing, just keep going with it. No one has to see it. See where you end up because, just like when you’re writing and you discover, “Oh, I can just actually cut this whole first intro paragraph because I don’t need it,” you might end up in a place with funny writing where, you know, you end up somewhere good but the first part you can just scrap. You don’t need the lead in. Saying yes and seeing where it takes you is useful, always making jokes or centering your writing around what you already know, it’s so much easier to make jokes about what’s familiar to you. I can make jokes about cats because I can’t get away from them.
They follow me down the street. That happened this morning actually. I ran into a cat and it was like, “Take me with you.” I was like, “I wish I could.” And inbound marketing of things like that. It’s easy for me because I spend all day living in this world, and I can’t make jokes about other things because I don’t have that knowledge to reach for. I can go on because it’s all tied together I think. Specificity is so important, and it’s easier to be specific when you know a topic. If you watch some really great stand ups it’s the word choice that they use when they deliver a line. It’s not even that the line itself is super funny but it’s the words, the specific words that they choose along with their delivery that makes it so funny. I’m just rambling now.
Rob: You mentioned that, too. But I think this is maybe one of the things that I struggle with in comedy, because so much of comedy is the expression on your face, or the way that you’ve moved your body. It’s physical, right? That is really hard to deliver in copy so that a joke doesn’t fall flat, or come across as maybe sarcastic, or nasty. I’ve been joking online with people and I look back and I see what I wrote. What was meant to be sort of sarcastic and funny was like really biting and mean.
Kira: Are you talking about our messages back and forth, Rob?
Rob: Not between you and me, no. But how do you bridge that? Because we don’t want to come across as mean, but we do want to be funny.
Lianna: That’s interesting to me. When I was doing a lot more editing I wrote very grammatically correctly, and by the book, and I punctuated correctly, and things like that. One huge thing that I’ve noticed myself start to do is accept the internet parlance of lower casing a word, or a sentence, or leaving off punctuation, or punctuating intentionally incorrectly, or using emoji, and things like that. I think you can make those tone shifts in your writing, but you have to be willing to not write by the book grammatically.
Rob: So, no more all caps for me?
Kira: Stop screaming at everybody, Rob!
Kira: We’ve talked a lot in the Facebook group and in the podcasts about choosing your niche and how important that is. Or maybe you don’t need to do that. But it sounds like that plays into what you do, because if you can be funny, or when you really known a topic, or you know your content better than anybody, it seems like that really supports the argument that choosing a niche could help you as a copywriter because you have that deep understanding so you can crack the jokes because you know it better than anybody.
Lianna: Hopefully. I don’t know it better than anybody.
Kira: Or am I just putting a lot of pressure on all of us?
Lianna: Oh, my god. I’m so uncomfortable.
Kira: You mentioned the tip: Be specific. Can you just explain that a bit more, and how we can do that as copywriters? Are there any exercises we can use to help us with that?
Lianna: Get drunk. No, I’m just kidding.
Rob: I just had a little too much to drink this morning.
Lianna: Guys, it’s 11 o’clock, okay? We don’t start drinking for another 15 minutes. I have work to do. Actually, I was thinking about is last night because I was trying to write something and I was just … You know you’re like brain dead by the end of the day. I was trying to describe our copywriting “trifecta,” which is what they’re calling it at CTAConf this month.
Kira: I’m not laughing at you. I like it.
Lianna: Oh, I know. I didn’t call it that. Don’t worry. I kind of like it, trifecta makes me feel like a fancy cake. But, I was like, “Okay, how do I describe this? I don’t have any words?” Sometimes when I’m tired and I just have to get the framework for something out I’ll just use a bunch of hyphenated adjectives in place of the word that I’m looking for, or pick a noun that kind of gives me the feeling of what I’m looking for but isn’t quite right yet. That sometimes ends up staying in the writing because giving myself that leeway to be a little more relaxed, and a little more vague with it will sometimes help you find a funnier angle. For instance, I was trying to describe what the feeling of seeing three copywriters in quick succession helping you go from customer research, all the way through edited, publish-ready copy would be like, and I think I ended up calling it A Three-Part Slam-Dunk Conversion Copywriting Whirlwind, which isn’t right, but it’s an image, you know? And it kind of give you the sense that it’s gonna punch you in the face with copywriting knowledge.
That’s what I was going for. I don’t know if that’s gonna make it into the final draft but just giving yourself some leeway to choose weird words can help you be more specific sometimes. Does that make any sense at all?
Kira: It takes off the pressure immediately, right? So you have some space to kind of figure it out, and then come back to it as well. Sometimes I feel like I force myself to figure it out on the spot and then I can’t really nail it.
Lianna: Yeah, I know that sometimes I know that I just need to get past that and move on to something else, and come back to it later and I’ll have that idea of what I was trying to say. I end up with many hyphenated adjectives and then sometimes instead of using an adjective I’ll just quote the feeling that I’m feeling. I’m trying to think of an example. It’s an easier way to get into your reader’s head, too. So instead of using a word you can just be like, “I know you’re feeling exactly this way, so I’m just gonna put it in quotes and shove it in here.” Kind of a shortcut.
Rob: It feels like a lot of writing funny is actually rewriting over and over. I think this is true of most professional comedians is they rework a joke, and change the words to see how an audience responds, and re-tweak it again and again. People like Jerry Seinfeld, who may actually work on a joke for months before they’re ready to sort of roll it out. It sounds like that’s maybe some of your same process. Maybe not for months, because very few clients will wait that long, but there’s gotta be a lot of rewriting and reworking in order to make the joke fall correctly.
Lianna: Yeah, I definitely don’t rework that intensively, but I think it comes down mostly to editing and figuring out wen it’s appropriate to have a joke, and when you really just need to kill your darlings and cut the fluff, and move on. I just finished up a piece, actually it went live today. I just got an email about it. It’s a little bit over 5,000 words on sustainable eCommerce, which doesn’t sound like the liveliest topic in the world, but I had such a great time writing it. I worked with some really great editors, and so they went through and they marked places where they’re like, “Hey, I think this is a little distracting. Maybe just cut this parenthetical aside about yourself.” Because that’s another way that I like to insert myself into content, is just make a parenthetical side here and there. But, they really helped me polish it down to what it should be, rather than the sprawling draft that I delivered. It wasn’t crazy but there were a few too many jokes in there. So, I think editing and being merciless in that regard definitely helps.
Kira: I think that just shows you the power of editing and that every copywriter should have some type of editor, whether you have someone who’s on your team, or you just reach out to one of your copy therapists, or copy partners to get feedback. I’ve received feedback from both of you on many projects, and it’s always helpful. If I’m stuck somewhere you kind of help me through it and I think we all need that.
Lianna: I can’t imagine not needing that.
Kira: So, I want to backtrack a bit. You mentioned earlier that you had wished you had kind of put yourself out there more. You’re obviously doing it now. I’m just curious, what was the catalyst for you to help you kind of get the confidence, or whatever you needed, to start putting yourself out there in a bigger way, and really start landing these big speaking engagements, bigger projects, what shifted for you? Because there are probably a lot of copywriter who need that, whatever it is.
Lianna: Being in the Mastermind with a group of friends and peers helps so much. Because it was like, “Okay, finally I’m not alone out here. I have external validation that what I’m doing is not terrible, and that maybe I should try fort things.” That’s one side of it, like being surrounded by other writers who can build you up and help you and direct you, and validate that what you’re doing is not stupid, which I constantly need. Do you all know Aaron Orndorff?
Rob: I’ve heard his name. I don’t know him.
Lianna: He’s the guy that says, “Let’s get rejected.” That’s his catchphrase. His thing is like, “Just try, and let’s get rejected. Let’s collect ‘nos.’” I think it was a combination of just being exasperated with my anxiety, like living with anxiety and constantly cutting myself down before I even gave anybody else a chance to do that. Just being like, “Hey, why don’t I just try?” Why don’t I just pitch on Unbounce, on speaking next year and just see what happens? Even if they say no, maybe I will have formed a relationship for the year after that? Or maybe I’ll just write to this person and be like, “Hey, I think you’re super funny,” or “Hey, I think you’re super smart. Just wanted to tell you that.” Not ask for anything, just connect and that kind of thing. So, that’s how I started that. It was just a combination of being tired of being my own worst critic, and having peer support.
Rob: Now you’ve been picked up by two or three different conferences, if I’m not mistaken? You’re speaking all over the place in the next couple of months.
Lianna: Yeah. I’m excited. I spoke at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week here in March, which was fun. That was the second time I spoke here with a friend of mine who’s a graphic designer. She did all the stuff on my site, she’s amazing. I spoke at Conversion World, which is a virtual conference. That was just me in a room with a headset, being funny to a webcam, which was, “Ugh.” Recordings are available.
Kira: I want to see that.
Lianna: Sure you do. I wasn’t even able to watch it all the way through, but I had a good time. Some people wrote to me and they were like, “Never though about retention marketing that way.” I was like, “Okay, great. One person got value from this.” That’s the other thing, as long as one person can get value from it, then that’s fine. The first time I ever went to a stand up open mic, my best friend was there, and she sat in the back. I just told all my jokes to her, and they landed super well because I was relaxed and I was just having a conversation with my friend. So, that’s kind of the way that I’m trying to approach speaking. I’ll be at CTAConf later this month, talking about how to edit your own writing, and a couple of things you can do to hack your dumb brain when you’re editing your own stuff. Should I just keep going?
Kira: I’m making a list, okay? I really want to hear about the impact. If you can speak to the impact of these speaking engagements, and I know some of them are coming up still. But, just how they’ve changed your business, if they have? Also, I’m stealing two questions here, how do we get started? If someone listening wants to speak onstage and they know they can be decent they just haven’t done it yet, what are some of the steps they can take to potentially speak on a big stage over the next six months, or over the next year?
Lianna: In terms of impact, I wouldn’t say life-changing impact. I’ve definitely been approached by a couple people, potential client work, I’ve made some really cool connections with people all over the world. Somebody tweeted a photo of his laptop watching my Conversion World broadcast in South Africa with Cable Mountain in the background, and a glass of wine, and I was like, “Oh, you’re so cool.” Then we ended up getting on a call, and it was really cool to meet him. He runs an eCommerce optimization agency. In terms of getting started, first get drunk. You guys, it’s a call back. It’s my one joke. I’m sorry. I’m sorry everyone listening. Figure out what your most interested in exploring and then just do some research. I like to use DeepDyve and look up scholarly articles related to marketing research and marketing psychology, and buyer psychology, and figure out what the latest news is, and what the latest findings are saying, and try to integrate that into what we already know, and what works best in practice, and just put together a talk outline for 15 or 20 minutes for yourself.
If you want you can give it to a friend and say, “Are there any pieces of this that don’t make sense? Am I jumping from topic to topic without making a connection? Is it too heavy in one area or another?” That’s how I start to put together talks. I’m just like, “What’s interesting? How can I give good context around it? Then how can I make it entertaining to watch and hear?”
Kira: So, all of this, are you putting together this presentation before you’re even pitching it? So you have the presentation and you can really speak to what you can deliver. Is that the process?
Lianna: Sometimes. If you know that you’re putting together something that will sit really well at a conference definitely pitch something. Or if you already have a couple of presentation, like I have a few now that I’ve pitched here and there but I wanted to do for Unbounce, a presentation on humor in copy, but they needed someone to talk about editing, and I was like, “Okay, I can talk about that, too.” Maybe this is the first time I speak at CTAConf, maybe next year I get to speak on humor copy. I hope they’re not listening because that sounds really presumptuous. [crosstalk 00:23:09] Hey, guys. I’m very grateful.
Kira: Hopefully next year all three of us are speaking at CTA.
Kira: So, you did pitch yourself then to Unbouce?
Lianna: I did. Basically right after the conference last year. Because I went and I was so excited to see everyone, especially Amy Harrison, who is so funny and so smart, and such a great writer. I was kind of fangirling, and I went up to her at this event at the conference, and we were at this science museum and I was just like, “I think you’re so cool. Let’s hang out.” Then I pretty much followed her around like a puppy through the museum and she was just like, “I can’t get rid of this person. Why is she still here? Give me more wine.” Then we became friends and I think probably again in one drunken fit of pique one night, I was like, “Hey why not me?” I emailed Unbounce and I was like, “How do you go about pitching for this? I’d love to just know how it works.” So, it actually took a lot of emails because I think the conference management changed hands four times over the course of the next few months. I started talking to them probably in September-ish? I decided to follow up one last time early this Spring.
I was like, “It’s probably nothing,” but I have Boomerang for Gmail, so the email came back to my inbox, and I was like, “I’ll just send one last email.” That last email got to the right person, we had a Skype call, and I said, “Okay, I’ve given this some thought. Here’s how I think I can fit in with your existing speakers. Having heard what they’re already talking about, here’s where I can cap it off.” And they said, “Okay, sounds good. Let’s do it.” And I was like, “What? Really? Me?” But, persistence, you know? Polite, sweet follow ups because people are busy. That worked for me.
Rob: So, Lianna, you maybe have just sort of answered this question but I’m wondering, do you do anything unique in your pitch process? Or do you just follow what they ask for? Send the outline, send an email? What are you doing to make yourself stand out from everybody else who’s pitching?
Lianna: In terms of talks I’m trying to be as open as possible and ask for feedback. If I pitch an idea, I’ll say “We could do this, or we could do it this other way. What do you think?” Or, “Here’s a different angle.” Or, “I could also talk about his element of if, or focus on this.” So, I try to keep the conversation open and not super formal, which is actually how I’ve been writing all of my emails for awhile. I think it gets really good results because first of all, people remember that they’re talking to a human, and second of all say, “Oh, good. Okay this person is really invested in making our event, or our content piece, a success. Let’s pick an avenue and go with it.” You can also think of it as just throwing so many choices at them that they can’t say no. “Please, just pick one! I’ll do anything!”
Kira: But, it worked. That’s the incredible part, it worked. I think even what you said you attended to the conference, and I think that probably helps too. If there’s an event that you want to speak at the next year, actually go so they can put a face to a name, and you can build a relationship. It’s just a reminder to me, I’m thinking I should really go to more events and conferences and build more relationships.
Lianna: As long as you’re a personable person while you’re there. Because it’s so hit or miss for me. Sometimes at conferences I’m like, “I’m killing it right now. I am so charming everyone in this room is in love with me,” and then other times I’m like, “I can’t. I just can’t. I’m like a shrub in the corner.” People come up to me and they’re like, “Hi, what’s your name?” And I’m like, “Don’t talk to me please.”
Kira: Okay, that’s kind of hard to believe.
Rob: Very hard to believe.
Kira: I doubt it. Name the conference where you were a shrub? It does not exist.
Lianna: Conversionxl Live the first time I went.
Kira: Okay, you were onstage singing karaoke and we were all in awe of your angelic voice.
Lianna: Kira, you know what they had at the karaoke party? You know what they had? Wine.
Rob: I’m really glad you guys brought up the singing though, because there’s a video that we want to link to in the show notes that makes me laugh. Yeah, you’re gonna want to check out-
Lianna: Wait, it makes you laugh? Are we talking about the same video?
Rob: I think so.
Lianna: Oh, no. My acapella video?
Rob: That is correct.
Lianna: It makes him laugh? You’re so cruel, Rob.
Rob: I don’t do humor very well, unfortunately.
Kira: Okay, so back to your presentations, your talks, and these are actually selfish questions because I’m preparing for a talk in the Fall and I have no idea what I’m doing. How do you prepare once you’ve landed the speaking engagement? CTA is huge, so you don’t want to mess it up, right? How do you prepare so you know you’ll nail it?
Lianna: I spent about a week just freaking out, like a week on full-blown anxiety attack. Then I went and got prescribed anxiety medication. True story, guys. It’s a real problem. This is just kind of an aside, this was me realizing that freaking out to the point where you are having nightmares is not a normal response to good news. So, it’s like, “Okay, my neurotransmitters are out of whack. Let’s go fix that.” So I did that. Then, I started, the way that I start with at lot of projects that scare me and excite me, which is paper. Instead of opening the Google Doc, I just grab some Post-It notes or a scrap of paper, and it feels like less pressure to start jotting down notes. That’s also less distracting because when you’re trying to avoid something that scares you, you can find yourself on Facebook extremely frequently. I don’t know if anybody else has experienced this ever?
Kira: You end up on The Copywriter Club Facebook group.
Lianna: Yeah, pretty much. Because I have blocked my news feed on Facebook, so now it’s just group stuff in my notifications. So, I do spend some time on The Copywriter Club. I’m not being paid to say that, I promise.
Kira: I want to know where you’re spending most of your time in your business today? Because you have multiple businesses too. Could you just speak to what services you’re selling today, and what you’re building, what your focusing your time on?
Rob: Yeah, tell us about Snap and what you’re doing with James?
Lianna: So, Snapcopy.co is my other copywriting business that I co-run with James Turner who is my business best friend, who we all know is just so wonderful and sweet, and incredibly smart and talented. So, Snap is conversion copy on demand, and we write small projects. So we write things like Facebook ads, and headlines, and taglines, and we also optimize larger projects. So when clients already have copy for a landing page but it’s not converting, they’ll bring it to us and we’ll give feedback on the whole look of the page, like the UX and the layout, and the graphics, and then also make suggestions for improving the copy and making it more action oriented so that people convert.
Rob: Is that an opportunity for other writers? If people wanted work on small projects should the be reaching out to you and James? Or is the game locked? Tick-tock, game’s locked?
Lianna: It’s not locked but we are lucky to know many very accomplished conversion writers, so we have some people that we can reach out to when demand gets too high. But, we’re always open to it. Email us. If we can grow the business to a point where we can hire everybody, awesome, we’ll do it.
Kira: Awesome. In your business, your services, how have you packaged them? I know you have some consulting and then you have … Well, why don’t you share that?
Lianna: So, I have a couple packages, I also have a thing on my wall right now that’s Things That You’re Gonna Get Done by the End of April, and one of them is “Put up more packages on your site.” So, I’m really nailing that you guys.
Rob: It’s June 1st today so …
Lianna: It literally says, “Launch Punchline Packages.” Like, deadline for all of them: June 17th.
Kira: Okay, you’ve got some packages on your website, I mean it looks good.
Lianna: Yeah. One of the things that I got interested in kind of organically, I was researching it for my Conversion World talk, was retention emails, and SaaS onboarding and retention email sequences. So, when you sign up for service and you get those emails once every couple of days that say, “Hey, can you log back in and do a thing?” So many of those are so bad and I figured it’s out of some company’s budgets to have all of those written from scratch, and have all the research done from scratch. But if they already have them and they’re not working why not offer a package where I can go in and say, “Well, clearly this incredibly boring subject line isn’t gonna get anybody to open the email, so right there is a fail for conversion. How can I go through up to six of your onboarding emails and make them better? Make them more interesting and engaging, and funny? Dare I say it?” So that’s one of the packages that I’m offering.
Then I have a road mapping session where people who are just kind of at a crossroads or just not sure where to go next can book an hour of my time. One of my agency jobs was Director of Inbound Marketing, so I have strategic background that I can say, “Here’s where you should focus your effort. Here’s what your first priority should be. Don’t blog every week if your blog isn’t getting any traffic. That’s not where you should be spending your effort.” Stuff like that. That’s one of the other things that I do.
Rob: So, Lianna, before we start to wrap up, I want to go back to humor a little bit. Are there companies that are doing humor really well that you look at and say, “These guys are nailing it”?
Lianna: For sure. I should have put together a list. For instance, FootCardigan, which our friend, Jen Havice told me about, they sell socks and they just sent me an email today with the subject line: Your Dad Called, He Wants You to Save Some Money. That kind of weirdness stands out in your inbox. The whole email, I’m looking at it now, is so weird. They’re doing a great job. There are some SaaS companies using humor. Wistia has some fun retention emails where they send you a picture of a cute dog at a computer where it’s like, “Do you need some help? Because you haven’t posted a video yet.” It’s kind of hit or miss, and what did I buy the other day? I bought something and the whole lead up to the checkout was so funny and fun. Oh, it was Dropps. It’s a laundry packet subscription. Like a laundry detergent pack that they’ll send to your house. I don’t know, guys. I don’t do that much laundry. I’m not that much of a filthy animal but I might need a subscription to laundry detergent.
But they have such a funny marketing video and their website copy is good. I was like, “I can’t wait to see what the checkout process is like, and I went through it and I get to the end of it and it was like, “Thank you for your order. Your confirmation will be sent to your email.” It’s like, “Oh, what a letdown.” So, yes, many companies are doling it but they’re not being consistent about it in the way that I think would be the most effective. Why not make it enjoyable all the way through?
Rob: Yeah, and even for retention, right? Because you keep going on through the entire customer relationship.
Lianna: Yeah. Like when you’re super charming up front with someone on the first date, and they’re like, “I can’t wait to see them again.” Then the second date you’re like, “Actually this is the real me. I am terrible.”
Kira: That’s good.
Lianna: The bait and switch.
Kira: Okay, so I have one last question for you. Because we have lots of new copywriters that listen to this podcast, what would be your advice to them to help them get started and really gain some traction, and figure out what they’re good at, and put themselves out there? No pressure.
Lianna: In terms of writing funny copy or in just…
Kira: In general what you wish you would have heard when you were starting out?
Lianna: I think just figuring out what feels like the most fun when you’re working. Because I ended up in that spot where I was like, “Everything that I’m doing feels so much like work that I’m actually not taking deep breaths while I’m doing it.” Like, while I was editing I was just holding my breath and getting so angry at these poor hapless writers who’s work I was correcting. They were nice people but I was like, “Aah! This is so bad! How can you be so bad?” Then I looked at it and I was like, “What do I really love doing? I love writing weird stuff.” And at the time, the only place I had been able to be weird was in the captions for this weekly blog that I was doing for a now defunct site called Fame Quarterly. I was just rounding up items on Etsy, either that I loved or that I thought were really stupid, and then sort of making fun of them while saying why I would buy them and then linking to them.
I was having the most fun doing that. It never felt like work and I always looked forward to it. So if you are taking on a bunch of projects as you’re deciding on your niche, what feels most fun to you and who are the most fun clients to work with? Who’s calls do you look forward to? Who’s calls do you… That kind of thing really helps.
Kira: That’s great advice for all of us.
Lianna: You know when you need money it’s like, “I can’t really pick and choose.”
Rob: Who needs money?
Lianna: Money is just a social construct you guys.
Lianna: We don’t need money.
Rob: So, Lianna, I have one last question for you and that is, will you tell us a joke?
Lianna: Oh, okay. I will tell you one joke and it’s for all you inbound marketing people out there. Get ready.
Rob: We actually have time for your whole stand up set. We’ve got seven or eight minutes.
Lianna: It’s too bad that, I don’t think we do, Rob. I don’t think we have time. It’s a shame because I was totally ready to do that.
Kira: Next time. Next time.
Lianna: Yeah. Actually my whole stand up set, like my most recent one is about basically dating and my uterus, so nobody wants to hear that especially…
Kira: Oh, I do. I definitely do.
Lianna: Whoo! It’s a good time for everyone. I like watching people’s faces in the audience. They’re like, “Who is she? Why is she telling me so much about her internal organs?” Anyway, have you guys heard the one about the funnel who broke up with the landing page because they had different beliefs?
Rob: I have not.
Lianna: Yeah, it’s such a shame because the landing page just wasn’t interested in converting.
Lianna: Ugh. You can’t see me but I’m pulling my collar out. Suicide.
Kira: If our listeners want to hear more from you and maybe perhaps want to see you on video, and read your content, where can they find you?
Lianna: They can find me at PunclineCopy.com. I have made one video that has me talking about funny copy. I love it, too. It’s so fun. I make videos for my sketch group and I was like, “Hey, why don’t I make videos for myself?” And then I made this one, and had such a great time with it so there will be more as soon as I get past all of these conferences. There will be more videos, but for now there is a video about Five Ways to Be Funnier in Your Copy, and it’s on my site under Watch and Read where I’ve collected, very egotistically all the things that I’ve written that I like.
Rob: We will link to that in the show notes.
Kira: And thank you. Thank you for hanging out with us. You’re the best.
Rob: Lianna, thanks.
Lianna: You guys are the best. Can we just keep hanging out?