TCC Podcast #246: Hustling to Grow with Hira Usama | The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #246: Hustling to Grow with Hira Usama

On the 246th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast, we’re joined by one of our newest Think Tank members, Hira Usama. Hira is a social media manager and content strategist. Hira began her freelance journey on Upwork writing e-books and immensely undercharging. She now takes clients’ social media platforms from ghost town to binge-worthy.

Here’s what we talk about:

  • Going from a content creator for an agency to freelance work.
  • Writing 4 e-books in one month while being pregnant and finding The Copywriter Club.
  • How she got hired at 17 years old and was published in a magazine.
  • How to effectively use online social platforms to expand your reach.
  • The benefits of outbound engagement and using hashtags to connect with the right people.
  • Social media strategy for the person who just doesn’t have the time or energy for engagement.
  • Starting the process of working with a new client and what it’s like to work with Kira Hug.
  • How to create effective content pillars and even mix in aspects of your life on social media. (Is there a method to the madness?)
  • The beauty and the struggle of the hustle game.
  • The truth about what leads to conversions.
  • Why we need to be social on social media. (Shocking, huh?)
  • How Hira uses Gary Vee in her approach to natural social media strategy.
  • Copywriters who have got a killer approach to socials and what we can learn from observing.
  • Why you absolutely need to be using swipe files.
  • Realizing that no one is going to be as excited about your posts are you.
  • The challenges of working on the other side of the world as your clients.
  • Tips on working with business owners when there may be a language barrier.
  • Creating a community for women who don’t have the means to work a standard 9-5.
  • The struggles of building your own brand when you’re focused on so many others. (the life of a service provider.)

If you want to ramp up your social media strategy and build a stronger online presence, listen to the episode or check out the transcript below.

The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:

Full Transcript:

Rob:  For most copywriters and content writers, writing comes pretty naturally to us, and that’s the one big reason that we all seem to choose this profession in the first place. There are a few exceptions who learn copywriting as a means to do something else, but for most of us, we’re pretty good writers and that’s why we are writers as a profession. But it takes a lot more than the ability to write to start a successful copywriting business. To do that, you have to hustle and add the skills to help you solve problems for your clients. Today’s guests on The Copywriter Club Podcast is Hira Usama.

That’s exactly what she did from landing her first content gig at age 17, to doing work today as a social media strategist. She’s always learning and trying new things, everything from SEO to social media. In this interview, Hira shares exactly what she did to grow a successful business while working from Asia as a new parent. But before we get to that, let me introduce my guest, I guess, kind of host. Since Kira asked some of the questions, she was here when we recorded. But Kira is on maternity leave spending some time with her new baby, and my guests interjector, commenter, whatever we want to call it, is Tamara Glick. Say hi, Tamara.

Tamara:  Hello, Rob. How are you?

Rob:  It’s good. I’m thrilled to have you joining us. Those of you who maybe are longtime listeners to the podcast know that we interviewed Tamara on episode 142. Tamara is a fashion stylist and also a content and brand stylist. She also serves her clients as a fractional CMO, helping them figure out their customer journeys and how they can improve their offers and all kinds of different things. You can find her at Tamaraglick.com, and I’m just happy to have somebody else talking about some of the stuff that we learned while we interviewed Hira.

Tamara:  This was such a fascinating interview. I’m really excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Rob:  Yeah, of course. Before we hear what Hira has to say, this podcast episode is brought to you by the Copywriter Think Tank. Now, Tamara, you’re actually in the Think Tank. You’ve worked with us in the Think Tank for a long time. We’ve talked about the Think Tank over and over, just promoting it, whatever. Give me your 30-second thoughts on the Think Tank.

Tamara:  Oh my goodness. The Think Tank to me is such an ideal incubator for someone who has built a business that they’re really excited about, and that does have legs and they’re confident that it does but they’re not sure what is going to happen next. You might be able to see the next step, but maybe not the staircase, and that’s totally okay because you need to have people around you who can support your vision, help see things that you may not be able to see as of yet.

Opportunities, potential roadblocks, new partnerships or new directions, and can support you along that journey. To me, the Think Tank is an ideal mastermind for copywriters and other marketers who want to challenge each other to create new revenue streams in their businesses, receive coaching from you and from Kira, and ultimately grow to six figures or more. Up until last year, the Think Tank was only open once a year. But now we invite a few new members every month. If you’ve been looking for a mastermind to help you grow, visit copywriterthinktank.com to find out more.

Rob:  Tamara, like I mentioned, you worked with us in the Think Tank, and help keep things organized and moving smoothly. You know your stuff while you’re with us in Think Tank.

Tamara:  Well, thank you.

Rob:  Let’s jump into our interview with Hira, and find out more about her approach to her business and social media.

Hira:  Like any other freelancer who was told in their childhood that, “Oh my god, you write so well, you’re so creative,” I had this dream that I want to write my own book and stuff like that. When I was in my first year of college, I came across this job opportunity for a copywriter. I still remember that red brick wall where it was just posted like a notice, and that was my first ever gig. I was around 17 year old, and that month I ended up making around $150 and I was so proud of myself. But that was a kickoff for something so amazing for years to come. I worked with two different agencies as a copywriter and content creator for around two three years.

Then I jumped off of that and focused on my studies. I was doing bachelor’s in applied psychology. I did that for four years, got married, then got pregnant and realized that I need to do something with my life. This cannot go on because I’m a really creative person, I just can’t sit still. I’m either writing something, reading something or watching something, and then I’m a thinker. I needed to put out my thoughts somewhere. I started by getting a few gigs on Upwork back then, and I wrote around four eBooks in one month when I was seven months pregnant, and I realized that I have to do something apart from creating really long form content.

I then got a few other gigs where I wrote blog posts and all of that. Yeah, that was around the time in 2018, when I came across the Copywriter Club, and I came across you guys and saw this amazing community where everybody was appreciating each other so much, and a lot of people inside that group, they told me that, “Oh, you write so well. Why are you under charging yourself? You should be charging around $150, $200, $300 for one blog post, and that just kicked off my desire to grow into something big, and I got a kick for social media strategy and content creation, again from Upwork. But that’s a really good kind, and that’s when I just realized that I love social media. I love creating content on social media.

It’s far easier to write a set of different posts rather than just write a one long form content. It’s just get very repetitive for me. Yeah, that’s when I … I didn’t choose to be a social media strategist. I’ve been flowing through and growing through that process of becoming a freelancer, then a content creator, then a copywriter, and ultimately, a social media copywriter and then a strategist. Yeah, it’s been very fluid for me.

Rob:  I love the progression. You answer’s like each step leads to the next one very logically. I want to go to the very first thing that you did as a 17-year-old. What did you do to get hired as a copywriter? There are people in their 30s, 40s and 50s that are struggling to get hired. How did you set yourself apart as a 17-year-old?

Hira:  I don’t know. I’ve been really good at creative writing. I won third position when I was in class one and that was the time my teachers really appreciated me, and I just started writing a lot of poems and a lot of essays and stuff like that. I used to do a lot of reading, and then I got published in a few local magazines as well when I was a kid. The writing part comes naturally to me. But what I did work on to set myself apart on that stage was working on how I do my research, how I structure my content, and how I make that relatable to my audience.

Those were the three things that I worked on back then. I’ve never shied away from learning. I’m always learning since the past 10, 12 years. I’m either learning through a course or just listening to podcasts, taking notes, learning from experts, watching YouTube videos, and how back then I used to do a lot of research on SEO just to help my clients rank their blog posts. I was always learning.

Kira:  Once you realize that you wanted to do more social media strategy after that first great client on Upwork, what did you do from there when you’re like, “This is it. I want to be a social media strategist. I’m going to build my business around this?” What were some of the next steps that helped give you that traction?

Hira:  Well, a lot of my clients then started coming in through referrals from that first client. But what I really did was I went ahead and, again, I got myself enrolled in two different courses, one by Rachel Peterson and another by Jenna Kutcher, and one was Instagram Lab, and the other one was Social Media United. Pretty basic stuff, but that basically allowed me to create my packages, structure my offers, get real on the kind of value that I’m going to add to my client’s social media.

Because social media is something that it’s right there, it’s in front of you, and whatever you’re posting, whatever you’re writing, whatever you’re engaging, commenting, you get to see the traction. When you hit post and when you hit publish, you just start to see the traction from right there. It’s either something is working or it’s not working. You can learn really fast on how to make social media work for you.

Rob:  Hira, let’s talk a little bit about the packages that you offer to your clients. What do those look like? What do they include? How much work are you doing to help them grow? I guess maybe the most important question, what are the results?

Hira:  Okay. Currently, I’m working on different social media platforms, but we’re mainly focusing Instagram and LinkedIn right now. We have had some badass results on Facebook and Twitter as well, but Instagram and LinkedIn are some places that I really enjoy. I’m really working with copywriters and coaches these days. For LinkedIn, we’re using LinkedIn to build B2B connections, and for Instagram, we’re using them to promote their courses or their masterminds. The two packages are mainly LinkedIn marketing and Instagram marketing, and that those two packages, because the platforms are very different, the packages are again very different.

But for Instagram, we do focus a lot on strategy, on outbound engagement, on graphics, and then of course, creating magnetic content for your audience. I do put special focus on personal branding because social media for me, it’s like the door to your room. When somebody lands on your profile, they see the aesthetics that you have, they see the language that you use, they right there see who you are as a person, and it’s a really authentic way to connect with your audience. For LinkedIn, the package is a bit different because we also include … We don’t focus that much on graphics.

I’m usually using a lot of links, memes, gifs, and personal photos, infographics, as well for LinkedIn. Again, the character limit is different. For Instagram, we can do really long form posts. If we’re doing a launch, the post itself is a mini sales page. But for LinkedIn, the character limit is different. You need to have the same idea, but to be able to communicate that in a few characters. The package overall include social media captions, graphics, strategy, a coaching session, monthly coaching session, a follow-up session, and an action plan and analytics report at the end of three months.

That is when we just sit down, see what’s working, what’s not working, and create. Maybe do what’s working, do more of that, and just stop where things are not showing any traction. Because for each client, it’s really different. The whole process is really different for each client.

Kira:  Let’s say I’m DIYing my Instagram, let’s just focus on Instagram, and I’m a copywriter, I’m showing up three to four times a week, I feel like I’m doing the right things, I’m posting maybe talking a little bit about what I do as a copywriter, but I’m not seeing any results. I’m not landing clients from it. I’m not getting the most out of it. What would you say we could be doing with our own Instagram to be more strategic and to get more out of it, even if we can’t hire someone to work with yet?

Hira:  Okay. For Instagram, I think the biggest mistake that people make that leads to the certain circumstance that you just told me about is that they don’t focus on holding conversations on Instagram. If you’re just showing up to a party, you’re going to different rooms, and then you’re coming out without talking to anyone, you’re not going to make any connections, you’re not going to get any sort of networking out of it. For Instagram, if you’re creating a caption and you’re adding all the right stuff. You’re adding hook, you’re adding a call to action. The call to action should hold space to add conversation, to keep the conversation going in the comment section.

If you know people are commenting and you’re not showing up to further ask them more questions or reply to their comments or reply to their DMs or reply to their reactions on your stories, then it means you’re not really responding to anything. Creating content alone on Instagram is not going to get you the results that you want. The second thing that I do with a lot my clients is outbound engagement. For example, you just use one hashtag from your industry, you type in that hashtag, and then you engage with the top 10 posts that show up for that hashtag. You go in each post, you leave a thoughtful comment, and by that thoughtful comment, I don’t mean just saying, “Oh, this looks so good.”

I do that myself, by the way, but it’s more useful to add some different viewpoint and add some different sort of conversation point to that original post so that you get noticed by other people who are watching that, who are reading that post. I guess these are the two main things that people just underestimate. They think that this is not going to get them any traction. But trust me, it gets you a lot of followers, it gets you authentic leads, and holding conversations on social media is the key to get leads. Forget about follower count, forget about everything for a moment, forget about looking pretty on photos on Instagram. What you really need is to engage with people. That’s it.

Rob:  Hira, if I’m approaching this and thinking, “Okay, I’m going to post some stuff, but I don’t have time to engage,” would you say that the posting is a waste of time? Or is there a place for people on Instagram who maybe don’t have the ability or who aren’t willing to make the time, is probably the right way to say that, in order to create that kind of engagement?

Hira:  Okay, When I say that you have to go in and engage with different posts, I’m just talking about 10 minutes a day, maybe even every alternate day. Because we underestimate how much we can do in 10 minutes. If you have 20 minutes to create a post or if you have 10 minutes to create a post, focus on the first five minutes on creating the actual post and publishing it, and then the other five minutes on replying to comments, on the outbound engagement that I just talked about, on replying to DMs. I wouldn’t say that creating content is a complete waste of time, but again people are really smart on social media. They know when you care and they can tell when you don’t care about them. If you’re looking to actually monetize your presence on Instagram, you need to show that you care.

Kira:  Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about the strategy that we’ve worked on together. I’ve been lucky enough to work with you on my own Instagram, which has been so much fun and so helpful to have access to you and to be able to work with you on it. When you’re working with someone like me, who may be a more difficult client, how did you approach strategy? When you sit down with a client, maybe you could use me as an example of how you think about content and strategy with one of your clients. Again, we could use me as an example or someone else’s an example how you’re approaching that.

Hira:  Okay. I guess with you an example, I’m also talking about and taking in regard most of the copywriters that I’ve worked with. What I do is I don’t believe in pushing you beyond your limits to a point where you’re not comfortable with. I don’t believe in holding you accountable to do a lot of IGTV or a lot of Instagram Lives to show the result, because I know that I have to play by your strengths and then add my elements to that. When you’re a copywriter and your strength is copywriting, so we’re focusing a lot on content creation and doing that strategically.

We do that by creating categories, different categories of the content, that you’d like to post. I know this might have been discussed on a lot of different platforms, but people just overlook the importance of actually categorizing your content, creating certain content pillars that would go on and support your Instagram strategy. For example, to break it down, when I’m working with a copywriter or when we’re working with you, we just … If we’re posting four times a week, which create four categories for that. We’re in one post, our main focus is to engage the audience. In the second post, we’re leaving a testimonial.

In the third post, we’re educating the audience, and in the fourth post, we’re doing an actual promotional post that looks somewhat like a mini sales page. When I’m working with my clients, I just play by their strengths. If somebody’s strength is showing up on camera and they can talk really well, or they have the time to do it, they have the energy to do it, I’d focus on that. If it’s something more visual, aesthetic, we’re working with a wedding photography brand or a celebrity or an influencer, then we focus on the aesthetics. It’s all about playing by your clients’ strengths and analyzing what they’re okay with, and then also pushing them towards doing more, but not more so that it puts them under a lot of stress and duress.

Rob:  Will you talk a little bit more about the content pillars? What do you mean by that?

Hira:  Okay. Overall content pillars look different for different clients again. The main content pillars that I usually use are different ways to promote your offer in a very authentic way, that also adds value to your client’s work. For example, one content pillar could look like creating posts out of the previous content that the client has published themselves. If it’s an old blog post or it’s something that we’ve just created now, repurpose that blog post into social media posts for different platforms. We can add a section where we book a free coaching call for 15 minutes every week, and that can lead to more sales.

It’s all about adding more stuff that allows your audience to see you in authentic ways. It can be through calls, it can be through your content, it can be through Instagram Stories, it can be you showing up on a live and talking about behind the scenes, about your offer, or maybe just a day in your business. You need to have certain content pillars, you need to have certain content categories that you can work out throughout the month. It’s not just you creating a post and publishing it. It’s different sort of actions that is allowing you to connect with your target audience.

Kira:  How do you find that balance between the business and then the personal side? For instance, my account is business, but it’s also that’s where I show my personal photos of family members and I do both in one account. I think the pillars make complete sense, so that helps clarify it. But I know other copywriters have asked too, how much is too much for personal or how much is too much for our business, and what’s that blend?

Hira:  Okay. When you sit down to create your Instagram account, you do a lot of research on your target audience, and you make points of what they are expecting to see from you. Then it is a blend of both, on how much you really want to show off from your personal side, to your target audience, and then what they’re expecting from your side. I don’t think brands can really grow without that personal touch these days. It’s crazy to expect someone to buy from you without them really getting to know you. Especially with copywriters, coaches and other content creators, people are really crazy to get a sneak peek of what’s going on in your personal life.

By personal life, I mean what’s your take on mindset? What’s your take on family? What a day in your life looks like? As a rule of thumb, what I do as I add one personalized message and one personal photo in every nine photos. You got to see that one selfie or one picture that is really authentic with an authentic message. In between all of that, business talk, promotions, and launch talk and educating your client, entertaining your client, you have to show up as who you are at the end of the day on Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Facebook. That goes for all platforms.

Rob:  Okay, let’s break in here and talk a little bit more about some of the stuff that stood out to us. The things that Hira was talking about. The first thing that jumped out at me, Tamara, is just the hustle getting started. As Hira was walking through her story, we hear this a lot on the podcast from people who know … They figure out this thing that they want to do, but there’s a hustle involved. It doesn’t come easily. You’ve got to go finding the clients, and I was just impressed with at such an early age, 17, where Hira is really starting that whole process of figuring out, not just that first project, but how do you keep them coming? How do you connect with clients? What do you think about that?

Tamara:  What struck me about this is how familiar it felt. That gave me a sense of relief because Hira’s journey is something that feels really familiar and you can also see the trajectory that she has had already. I think that that is just so fascinating to see that she started off in a place where it truly was one thing at a time. I loved writing, and so I did some more writing. I was published, so I continued to keep going on that path. I had people who believed in me and who liked what I was doing, and I kept pursuing it. I took some courses, and although they might have seemed basic, they really helped me to inform myself about how to create packages, how to serve clients, how to select clients.

Every new business is a hustle. Whether it is copywriting, social media, or creating a new sunscreen, it’s always going to have a bit of a hustle feeling to it. To watch Hira and to listen to her talk about the ways in which ones that built on the other. Now it looks so clear, but during the time of hustle, it really didn’t necessarily feel so clear. I think that just gives you so much hope about where you are in your own path.

Rob:  Yeah. It’s more than just learning. Obviously, there’s a lot of doing. Again, the way that she applied the skills that she’s bringing to the table, whether it was search engine optimization or social media, she’s basically looking for new ways to solve problems. I love that. Another thing that really jumped out to me as I was listening back to this conversation is what Hira was saying using social media for conversations. Now, I think a lot of us approach social media as a place to broadcast what we’re up to or our offers maybe, and the idea that it’s the conversations that lead to conversions, I think is really critical.

You can’t just show up and post and not engage in comments, and you can’t just post and not encourage people to respond in some way if you want to use social media, effectively. That’s not just true of Instagram, where Hira does most of her work, but it’s true on Twitter, it’s true on LinkedIn, it’s true on Facebook. If you want people to engage, you’ve got to start asking those questions or commenting back on the things that they’re posting in order to create those conversations.

Tamara:  I totally agree, Rob. I think what’s really interesting is the way that Hira talked about it really made me think about the fact that the first word in social media is social. When Hira talked about holding space for conversation and how you wouldn’t go into a party and leave the party or go to different rooms and not say a peep, not say a word, we’ll hear Hira talk about that, it just really drives that home. How you create your content, how you inspire a conversation, and how you hold space for that, whether it is on your post or in outbound engagement, which Hira talks about too, it’s really understanding how to be in touch with those that you feel are your best audience, your best collaborators, your best potential influencers, and doing that in a way that is natural and authentic and meaningful.

Rob:  Yeah. Hira said, I’m not going to quote this exactly, “But forget about follower count, forget about looking good on your photos, forget about all of that stuff for a moment, and focus on engagement and engaging with people, and that’s it. That’s the only thing that you need to be doing on social media.” I love that. I think that’s great advice. Okay, I made this list of stuff that jumped out at me. Another thing that jumps out is the type of content that Hira was suggesting that we post. She mentioned four different kinds of content in order to engage the audience. The first post was simply about engagement, and whether that’s asking a question or posting something that people respond to.

The second kind of posts are leaving a testimonial. That could be from clients that you’ve worked with or some somebody who’s promoting your work. The third kind of content was educational. Teaching something, and that’s, I think, an obvious opportunity for using things InstaStories and Reels where you can show up and act as the authority in your space, and then the last kind was just the actual promotional posts. Almost a sales page on Instagram or on LinkedIn where you’re posting your content. I love that because, for me, a person who does not engage very much on social media, it’s a pretty clear roadmap for the kinds of stuff that I should be doing or that I will be doing once I figure out how to do this stuff.

Tamara:  We will all be hanging tight and watching and waiting to see you develop your online presence.

Rob:  Yeah. But yeah, do you have other thoughts that, the content or some of the stuff that Hira suggests we share?

Tamara:  Yeah. I loved how Hira was talking about putting one personal post for every nine posts. I think for a lot of us where we have one social media account that maybe started as personal and then became business and now we’re wondering, well, how much of our own lives should we be interjecting into our businesses? But then again, we are our businesses. What’s that balance? Understanding that one post per every nine posts in your grid can be totally a personal post, really, for me gives me a lot of freedom to say, “Okay, well, here’s a boundary,” and I can enact that boundary really easily. Then it’s up to me to decide what’s important from a personal perspective, and what might be TMI. I really liked that.

I also really love that Hira talked a lot about playing to your strengths. Whether it is me taking care of my own social media, or my social media manager taking care of my social media, it’s important that the kinds of content that you create play to your strengths and not force you to do something that you should do for the algorithm, but rather it becomes a lot more fun and a lot more interesting when you want to do it, and of course, you’ll push a little bit outside of your natural comfort zone to play a little bit more in new arenas. But I think playing to your strengths and playing to a client’s strength as a social media manager, that just really hit me. Too often have I spoken to people who really want me to do things that I just don’t want to do, and it would make me feel so much better to have a social media manager who really understood that.

Rob:  I think that’s probably the missing piece for me too. Obviously, I don’t have a ton of trouble getting on to a podcast, we’ve done lots of video and that kind of thing. But holding a camera and recording myself in the morning a couple times a week, that is definitely not a strength, and there are other ways that I can engage in social media that maybe play to my strengths a little bit better. I think that’s a super smart approach when you’re working with clients, is not to force them into your template, but to figure out what’s going to work for their business and how they can engage naturally with their best customers. Anything else stands out to you from this first section?

Tamara:  One more thing, and that was when Hira quoted the great Gary V.. Now, I love me some Gary V., but he’s also he can be really intense. I don’t know if you noticed.

Rob:  Really intense. Yeah.

Tamara:  But she quoted something that almost didn’t even sound like Gary V. to me. You don’t have to create, you can just document, and that was like, “Really, I can?” Because there are so many times where I feel the pressure or I have felt the pressure to think of something net new, something brand new that nobody’s ever heard before, and that can be really tiring. But having permission to document what’s happening in my day, whether it is literally here’s my agenda for the day, or these are the kinds of work that I’m doing right now, and it’s really interesting, that is so permission giving and it does make it so much more simple a task to be on social media naturally.

Rob:  Yeah, I love that as well, and as I think about the things that I would document doing this, it fits really nicely into those four kinds of posts that she suggests. Testimonials are basically documenting the client experience. Education is documenting things that you’re learning or things that you’re sharing with your clients as you’re helping them move from where they are to where they need to be and making that transformation. Even the engagement stuff can all be documenting your processes, what you’re doing with the clients. It matches up very consistently with the other things that the Hira is teaching about social media.

Tamara:  Let’s go back to our interview with Hira and see who she thinks is doing social media really well.

Rob:  I want to ask maybe for some examples of copywriters who are doing this really well, in your opinion.

Hira:  Well, I really how Jasmine Star has positioned her brand. I don’t know if she is a copywriter or because she’s doing a lot of different stuff. Yeah, I don’t see a lot of copywriters who are killing it on social media. I don’t really know any of them. But I do love how Jasmine Star has created her Instagram. It’s so full of visuals, it’s so full of Reels, Instagram Reels, videos, written content. At the end of the day, it’s really about providing a lot of value to your target audience, because social media is something that you can lose your prospects attention in half a second.

You have to just grab their attention for enough time that they end up turning on the notifications to be able to see more of your content or show up when you’re going live or click on your stories to view what you’ve posted. It’s all about serving them in a way that really resonates with them, and a lot of research goes inside that. By research, I don’t mean you have to spend tons and tons of time writing stuff on your MacBook or on a piece of paper. No. When I talk about research, I talk about social listening, I talk about actually listening when somebody talks to you, when somebody leaves a feedback on your Instagram and somebody appreciates something or even criticizes something, or even expects a more from you.

For example, I talked about my Instagram. I was doing a lot of content creation for my ideal clients, and then I got a few DMs that people actually want to know how to build an online business, and that is when I understood that I have two different sets of target audience and I need to serve them both. I cannot just focus on my ideal clients. I do have people who are looking to sign up for my social media program. It’s a very simple course that I’ve created for a few of my South Asians mastermind members. You have to keep that blend, and sometimes listening to your DM section, that just helps. That is all the research.

Kira:  I think the hardest part oftentimes about social media in general is just taking the time to plan it out, taking the time to be intentional about it, to think about the different pillars and what content you should create and then actually sitting down to create the content. I know that’s where I usually fall down and that’s why it’s been really helpful to work with you and create that consistency. I can’t slack off as much as I would normally like to. But what do you recommend to copywriters who are struggling to schedule the time or plan it out? What is your approach to planning it out for your clients that could work for other copywriters if they’re DIYing it?

Hira:  Okay. For copywriters who have no such presence on Instagram, as of now, I would recommend them to just stop overthinking, get out of your head, just start posting. Don’t get caught up on the algorithm, on the nitty-gritties, because the stage of planning content comes when you start to see traction on your social media. You really have to get excited to get in that mindset that, “Okay, I’m going to set aside three hours every week to plan and create my content.” The first thing would be to just stop and think for a moment that nobody is as obsessed with your content as you are.

You can repurpose, you can recycle content, you can use an old blog post and create four or five social media posts out of that. I would just say for a copywriter is just starting out, start with optimizing your Instagram profile, pick a really good headshot that either shows your face or your brand logo, choose a name that is searchable that is easy to understand, choose your category, fill in your bio. Your bio is sort of your pitch, but don’t make it complicated. Make it really simple. I use a simple formula of I do this for this by using this. Just add your superpower at the end or the transformation that you’re providing to your clients that is allowing them to go from point A to point B in the client journey.

Just keep it simple, and then start by an introduction post. Start by introducing yourself, who you are, what you do. As Gary V. says it, “You don’t have to create, you can just document.” Don’t just get too hung over on the planning part if you’re just starting out because that can be really intimidating. How can I expect someone else to do that when it took me so much time to actually really get into that zone where I actually sit down and plan my content and I still don’t do that? Now, I’m not asking you to start with a blank document every time. There are templates. There are swipe files.

There’s so much stuff on that is available on the internet. But what you can do is just be authentic and choose that one ideal prospect and talk to them, have a conversation about the biggest pain point, the biggest struggle that they’re having, offer your solution, add a good call to action, ask them to take over the conversation from there, and just relax. Nobody is as obsessed about your content as you are. Don’t overthink it. That would be my advice. Then when later on you start to see traction, you see that you’re actually getting in leads, you automatically get into that mind frame of setting aside time to plan your content. Because otherwise, you won’t be able to manage it.

Rob:  Yeah, I’m a little disappointed to find out that not everybody is in love with my content as I am, Hira. It’s good wake up call.

Kira:  Yeah. Rob, I’m waiting for your content to show up on Instagram. Rob does not post anything on Instagram.

Rob:  That’s true.

Hira:  I know. I’m tagging Rob on your TCC photos, and I’m always clicking on his profile to see what else is-

Kira:  Nothing there. Nothing there.

Hira:  Nothing there.

Rob:  No, I really am feeling attacked here. Wow, ouch.

Hira:  It will be fine. I’m not really … It’s okay if Instagram doesn’t work for you. You can always opt for LinkedIn or something else. But you have to have one platform at least.

Kira:  Rob, do you have one platform?

Rob:  I have a podcast. I’m going to tell you about it.

Kira:  There you go.

Rob:  No, I’m not feeling attacked. I’m joking. But I realized that this isn’t something that I do. Having said that, though, I do want to change the topic a little bit because I know you don’t live in the United States. You’re living in and working out of Pakistan. Are there challenges that come with serving clients that are mostly on the other side of the world? Tell us about how you run your business and how you make that work for everyone?

Hira:  So many. So many. So many challenges. I was lucky enough to get inside the TCC community back in 2018 that allowed me to get inside the head of what’s going on in the copywriting world. But honestly, it is a huge challenge in itself. The timezone difference, as we’re filming right now, it’s around 1:00 AM over here, and that is the time when I’m usually working on my clients’ projects because that is the time when they’re online, when they’re awake. The second set of challenge was to understand my ideal audience and then to also understand my clients’ ideal audience.

Because living in a different country, I was relying on Netflix and different TV shows to understand the pop culture references, what’s trending these days. You have to make a conversation that seems relatable. Due to the huge cultural difference, it took me a long time to understand how we have conversations in USA and how they differ from Canada and how we have conversations in Australia. Yeah, you have to break it all down because every culture is different. My culture is completely different, and we have different sort of references, we have different sets of struggle. But again, yes, as a South Asian content creator, it is a huge challenge.

For anybody who is a South Asian business owner or a content creator who’s listening to me, I’m just going to put it out there that if I can do this, anybody can. I am the lowest person on the bar who could have achieved this. I just did it by not overthinking too much, not taking the criticism too seriously, and working with really good people because that is something really important. I was really intentional on choosing my clients who were helpful, who were flexible, who were also teaching me different things in different ways. Yeah, it was a struggle, but I love it. I love it now. I’m one of the few South Asian content creators and I just love it. I’d like to see more of us inside the copywriting space. It’s definitely increasing, but I would like to see that happen real fast.

Kira:  What other tips would you give to any copywriter or social media strategist who is also dealing with a cultural difference, and what else could they do? You already shared some tips like find the right clients, but what else would be useful if they are struggling right now and just getting started?

Hira:  The biggest struggle is English is not our first language. I guess the biggest thing that puts everyone off and they believe that they cannot do it is because there is such a big communication barrier and everything is based on communication when you’re interacting with a client or even if you’re working on a collaboration. The biggest challenge is working on your communication skills, and that will not happen overnight. Just like any other thing, just like your first blog post, I don’t think we can look back on our first blog post and feel proud of what we wrote that day. It’s a complete disaster.

You will not get the confidence by working on your confidence, you will get the confidence by repeating that set of action again and again. Get on that discovery call. Don’t even think about it if you blow it off. How many times do you think you can blow off a discovery call? Three, four or five times? I don’t even think that’s … That’s a lot. You are going to get better at it. Just don’t think that someone else is judging you because you’re communicating differently, because you look different, because your accent is different, because you might not understand the pop culture references or whatever.

I guess my advice would be to do things anyway. I was just like any other person over here. I was a mom who was looking to make it work. If I can do it, anybody else can. I know people are not even … They don’t even realize that I’m from another part of the world because, I talk that way or stuff like that. But it’s something that you need to … You need to, again, get out of your head, and not take yourself too seriously.

Rob:  If I’m not mistaken, you’ve actually started working with other women in a similar circumstance helping them build their businesses. Tell us a little bit about that, too.

Hira:  Yes. Okay. We started by creating a private Facebook community. Me and my friend, we created a private Facebook community to help women work on their mindset and get actual practical hands-on online skills that they can later translate into working online. Me and my friend, we’ve collectively managed to train a few social media managers. A few of them, I’ve actually hired to work for me as well, for my own personal brand, and then we’ve also managed to train a few copywriters. Again, it’s not going at a pace that I would have liked it to be, but I’m going to work on that this year. Due to the pandemic, a lot of different crazy stuff was happening. Our children were at home, they weren’t going to school, so we weren’t getting a structure that we wanted to initially create.

But the vision that we have is to have at least two, three, 4,000 women who are able to earn around two to $5K per month, and support their families, support their children’s education. Because women in South Asia or in Pakistan, they don’t have access to a lot of different opportunities. The pay scale is already … It’s very average. A lot of them, and including me, we cannot have a nine-to-five. We have to run a house, we have to look after kids and all of that. There’s this whole cultural difference. Ideally, I would like to help women put in minimum time and get maximum ROI on whatever project they’re working on.

Kira:  Where can we find more information about that, that community? For anyone who’s interested, is there a link we could go to?

Hira:  Yeah, yeah. It’s called Boss Babes Pakistan. If you search that on Facebook, you’ll get inside that group. There are a few trainings on that, but I’ve also launched a private course for women who have started earning that $400, $500, $600 per month, and now are looking to scale to 1K, 2K, 3K. The first step is to at least to have them able to earn $1,000 per month and then go off from there to work on a lot of different projects. Because I think the first $1,000 is the biggest struggle. Then after that, things become easier once you have that experience in your portfolio.

Rob:  What’s next for you and your business, Hira? What are you building or what are you starting to change? What’s the next thing we can look for?

Hira:  Yeah. The next thing for my business would be to, first of all, I want to work on my own personal brand more, because I believe I’ve been neglecting that for a while. People who know me might not think so, but I have a lot of other stuff planned for my own personal brand as well. Down the line, I do plan on writing a book, probably, again, for South Asian business owners, content creators, working through their mindset blocks, allowing them to gain access to practical hands-on skills and adding practical steps that they can take to change how their businesses look like.

Because the idea is to run a really stress-free business, a business that brings you ease, excitement, and joy. Something around that. I am also planning on becoming active on my blog again because I just love creating content. That is for my personal business. Focusing on my Instagram as well. I’m a social media manager, but it’s crazy that I just created my Instagram account in January. I made it public. Before that it was private. Yeah, growing that as well, working on different collaborations. I already am working as a … I got signed on to work as a content coach for a Global Leadership mastermind.

That is happening down the line. I’m probably going to join the Think Tank, work on creating more premium offers, and probably create a mastermind for South Asian content creators, or maybe anyone who wants to join who feels like they don’t fit in and allow them to work through those mindset blocks, and again, get those hands on skills that they need to structure their online business. Yes, currently I’m focusing on Instagram marketing and LinkedIn marketing for my clients, and these are the two basic packages that are going on during the rounds on my website. Yeah.

Kira:  Well, we appreciate your time, Hira, and I know we’re out of time, so we need to wrap. But it’s been so great for me to be able to work with you on Instagram over the past year, and you helped me grow my visibility on Instagram and stay on track. I really appreciate that. I appreciate you showing up today to share so much.

Hira:  Yeah, I love that. I love that when people come up to me and talk to me about actual results. Yeah, I loved working with you, and it’s great to see how the power of social media and bringing in the leads and bringing in all of those collaborations. Great things are happening for my clients. I’m glad that I got to work with you, and it’s been an amazing experience myself.

Kira:  All right. Well, thanks for your time today. Next we’re going to work with Rob on his Instagram.

Rob:  Let’s do it.

Kira:  That’s next contact.

Rob:  Let’s do it. That’s the end of our interview with Hira Usama. Before we go, I think we should touch on just one or two more things that Hira mentioned in the last half of our discussion with her. I initially asked her who are the copywriters who are doing this really well on social media? She didn’t actually mention any copywriters. She mentioned somebody who’s doing social media really well, and somebody who promotes social media, sells a social media product. Of course, Jasmine Star is going to do it really well. If you want to hear Jasmine’s thoughts about her business and what she does, check out our interview with jasmine. It was really good.

I don’t have the number at the top of my head, but excellent interview. But I think maybe we could mention just a couple of copywriters that we do think are doing some of the things that Hira is suggesting we do. Obviously, I’m not one of them. I’m very open about that. But as I started scanning through the Copywriter Club Instagram feed, there are people in our group and the followers that we follow who do this relatively well. People like Ash Chow, who it’s not only a nice looking page with the grid or how she posts photos, but she does exactly what Hira’s suggesting.

There’s a couple of personal posts, there’s teaching posts, she actually has a weekly ask Ash, almost a column, advice column that she does. It’s really cool. Danny Page does a really nice job of interacting with people on her Instagram. Erica Hollins is another. Christine Blubaugh. There are definitely members of the Copywriter Club who are doing this well. I didn’t see a lot of guys, I got to admit, as I was going through this and so I know I’m not alone in having Instagram be one of my weaknesses. But who stands out to you?

Tamara:  I have to say Ashlyn Carter stands out to me. Her page has … Oh, my goodness. She’s been rocking Instagram. It’s been a few years now, and I definitely recommend taking a look at her page, particularly because she’s done such a spectacular job of meshing professionalism, education, and her personal world, knowing exactly who her ideal client is and speaking to them directly in every post she creates. It’s a beautiful page. That’s true. She’s got a gorgeous grid, but it’s the content that I think that really makes the difference.

Rob:  Yeah, she shares some amazing stuff. Obviously, her team is really dialed in. She’s worked with some super smart people in building her social media presence, and I actually love seeing her stuff as well. Another little nugget, I don’t know, this is maybe not something for a ton of discussion, but it just jumped out at me as I was going back through this interview is when Hira mentioned that research is social listening. I actually made a note. Research equals social listening, because I don’t always think of research like that.

For the kind of content that I write, I’m doing competitive research or I’m going into product reviews, doing that kind of thing, but just the suggestion that research for social media is looking at the kinds of comments that you’re getting, looking at the comments and things that others in your space are posting or that your ideal clients are asking and posting, that all counts as research and can lead to really good ideas for what you should be posting in your social media. For what it’s worth, that stood out to me, and I think is a great suggestion.

Tamara:  Me too. This is the time where I think it is appropriate to be a fly on the wall at the party because that social listening exercise, that’s how you get the good stuff.

Rob:  Yeah. Okay, so what else stood out to you from these last couple of minutes?

Tamara:  Well, one thing that I really loved was when Hira was talking about the simple bio formula, and to put your superpower at the end. I do this for these people, and here’s my superpower. We have only so many characters, and that is a place to sell yourself, but it’s a place to sell yourself in a way that is charming, clear, and straightforward with personality. All the things that we want to impact in just a few characters. But I love that it’s a very simple formula. You don’t have to get fancy. It has to do the job, and it can sound good while it’s doing it.

Rob:  I think this also works not just in social media bios, but this can work at the end of an email, this can work in a lot of different places. Having that simple formula, I do this for this client. It’s a little bit similar to what Seth Godin says, “People like us do things like this.” That kind of thing I think is really easy way for people to engage and see what you do. I like that a lot.

Tamara:  Me too. It feels Hira really understands copywriting in general, and there were so many times throughout this episode where I thought she really understands and copywriters could learn a lot from her in terms of adapting what they already know to social media. It may be a long form post and it may be a short post, but there is an equivalence or an inspiration from the kinds of copywriting techniques that we use all the time and that Hira has really mastered in a social media context.

Rob:  One last thing that I think is worth noting is Hira’s work helping women in Pakistan create their own businesses. Where she lives, it’s not always easy for anyone, but women in particular, to find great jobs or high paying jobs. The work that she’s doing helping others to build businesses, I think is really commendable. It’s something similar to what we heard Chima Mmeje on episode 225 talk about. Whenever we see that, I think it’s worthy of calling out that there’s a bigger work here than just always making money for ourselves. There’s a lot we can do to help others in the community to help showcase the work of other people to the world, and I think that’s really commendable and so worth mentioning again.

Tamara:  I totally agree. The community that Hira is building is absolutely beautiful as much as it is powerful for its members. It is truly awesome to see.

Rob:  Yeah. Okay, we want to thank Hira Usama for joining us to chat about her business. You can learn more about Hira and how she helps her clients find customers on social media at Hiraosama.com, that’s H-I-R-A-O-S-A-M-A.com. If you’re in Pakistan, be sure to check out her Boss Babes Pakistan group on Facebook, where she teaches other moms how to start and run a freelance business.

Tamara:  Well, that’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Our 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 Podcast to leave your review of the show. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and finally achieve your goals, visit copywriterthinktank.com. We’re accepting a few new members right now, so get your application in. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

Rob:  Thanks, Tamara, for being my guest host this week. I appreciate it.

Tamara: It was so much fun, Rob. Anytime.

 

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