Nicola Moors brought so much to the 236th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. Nicola started her career as an investigative journalist who wrote about topics that are not easy for everyone to tell or to write. In her time as a journalist, she was able to gain essential skills that make her a great and sought-after copywriter today. Dive into this episode to uplevel your “interview” skills.
We also talked about:
- How becoming a copywriter leads to more things you love.
- Creating a safe space for women to share stories that severely impacted their lives.
- The challenge of making stories unique and different from each other.
- Why you should never call an interview “an interview.”
- How to replicate someone’s voice without a brand guide and do it effectively.
- Mental and emotional stability when writing about mentally exhaustive topics.
- Why it’s vital to separate yourself from the story, so you can help people share their experiences in an impactful way.
- The best way to find captivating hooks that pique interest.
- The importance of letting people speak more than you do.
- The advantages of Facebook and finding your first few clients.
- Why backing yourself is the key to your own success.
- How to grow with a network of supportive copywriters in a lonely online world.
- How being cheeky and upfront will get you what you want and boost confidence.
- The truth about the stories you tell yourself and when it’s time to let them go.
- The back and forth of being both a procrastinator and a perfectionist. – Can they live in harmony?
- The better way to get testimonials and feedback. (Hint: It’s all about making it less work-like.)
- The plus side to being organized and putting together systems that streamline.
- Why it’s important to celebrate your own wins as much as your clients.
- The secret to nailing Kira and Rob’s voice. Is it possible?
- The trick to making your previous clients feel special and remembered.
- Reversing into brick walls. – Ever done it?
Be sure not to miss this episode whether it be by listening or reading the transcript.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Brand Voice Buddy
Rob: This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but a lot of copywriters get their start in the world of journalism, whether they earn a degree or actually work writing news stories. As reporters, they learn how to find a story that readers are interested in, how to research and find important details and how to find a hook and tell a story, all skills that we need as copywriters. This week’s guest for the 236th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is think tank member, Nicola Moors. And as you might expect from my intro, Nic was a reporter before she made the leap into copywriting. We asked her about what she learned from that experience and what she’s done to grow her copywriting business so quickly since going full-time early last year.
Kira: Before we hear what Nic has to say, this podcast episode is brought to you by the Copywriter Think Tank. The think tank is our private mastermind group for copywriters and other marketers who want to challenge each other, create new revenue streams in their businesses, receive coaching from the two of us and ultimately grow to six figures or more. Up until last year we only opened the think tank once a year, but today we invite a few new members each quarter. If you’ve been looking for a mastermind to help you grow, email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an interview.
Rob: Okay, so let’s jump into our interview with Nic and find out why she left the world of journalism for life as a copywriter.
Nic: The truthful story is very on-brand for me. So I think you’re going to like it. So basically I was working as a journalist and one of my colleagues was always typing, always working and she had a website. I was like, ooh, and she called herself a copywriter. And I had no idea what that was. And she said that she wrote blogs for these companies and she got paid X amount to write blogs. And I thought, oh, that sounds like good because I would like to have actual money to buy more wine. Literally, I just wanted to buy more wine. And so I said to her, can I have their contact details? They didn’t want to work with me, but I was really intrigued by the prospect of doing this copywriting. And I’m using air quotes now, which you guys can’t see, but I had no idea what it was.
And so I literally just started my business. I enrolled with the government, with HMRC, started my business. I think the next day I just started this copywriting course just to see what copywriting was about. And then it went really well. The first day I opened my business, I got a client in a Facebook group and I was so happy. So for the next 18 months, I worked as a journalist while doing copywriting on the side. So literally working evenings, weekends. And being a journalist, I was expected to work longer hours anyway. If we have a story in America or a breaking story, we have to be there to cover it. It’s just part of the job. So I was working a lot of hours. And then at the end of 2019, it got to the point where I was earning enough as a copywriter to say goodbye to journalism. And so last year in February, so February 2020, I took my business full-time and became a self-employed copywriter. But literally, it started because I wanted to buy more wine and go to the pub more. But yeah, that’s my story.
Rob: What’s the fake story, the one that was supposed to be better than that.
Nic: I guess it probably still involved wine, but genuinely, I think people think I’m saying that to be funny, but that is literally the reason why I wanted more money and to earn more.
Kira: You couldn’t afford wine at the time, or what was the deal?
Nic: I could, but where is the limit? There is no limit to wine. It was a case of, do you want to go from buying the cheapest wine, which as we all know tastes like vinegar, isn’t very good. Or if you spend a couple of pounds extra, you can get some really good wine and that’s a level I was aiming for. Seven pounds a bottle.
Rob: Yeah, nice.
Rob: So as you were telling your story, Nic, you kind of skipped over this whole reporter thing and I happen to know that you did some pretty interesting, pretty odd type stories or whatever. Tell us about your experience as a reporter. Maybe some of the stories that you chased down, but more specifically, what skills you were able to develop as a reporter that now you use in your copywriting.
Nic: Yeah, that’s a good question. I like that. I mean, it wasn’t until I had been a copywriter for a while that I really realized, oh, it’s actually loads of things I had learned as a journalist that really translated over because as a copywriter you’re not really taught how to find the hook. But just to backtrack. So when I was a journalist, I worked at a press agency here in the UK. So we wrote for all of the national magazines and newspapers. So over a dozen publications and we syndicated around the world as well. So it was our job to find stories that the magazines would want to publish, but not only find the story and convince the interviewee to speak out. Often I did quite a lot of crime stories so often it was really horrific things. I worked on acid attacks, murder stories, women who had been raped or abused by a boyfriend or whoever.
So I had to convince these women to go on the record and actually speak out and tell their truth. And then not only that, but you have to find the hook to the story. So you have to dig deeper and say, okay, so this thing happened to this person, what is that one detail that is going to differentiate this crime story or this weight loss story, or this love rat story. Love rat is what we call cheating partners.
Kira: Wait. What do you call it?
Nic: It’s a love rat. It’s what we call it in the UK.
Kira: Love rat.
Nic: Yeah. It’s a love rat story
Kira: Interesting. All right. Carry on.
Nic: Not only did we have to find this story, but we had to find that one detail that would differentiate it from all the other stories like it. Find it and then pitch it to the magazines and they would say, yes or no. But that’s literally how we worked. And so knowing that I worked on a lot of hard stories, it really gave me a really good background, one, in interviewing. So I became great at getting people to open up at really often difficult topics, get them to trust me. Usually, it was over the phone. Sometimes we would do it face-to-face. Finding the hook, so what is this thing that makes this person or this story you unique. What is going to differentiate it? How does it stand out from all of the stories that you see in the magazines and newspapers? Storytelling, the features that I wrote, they’re first-person real life feature.
So it’s literally, I did this, I did that. And so not only do you have to tell the story so that the reader can visualize it and see what’s going on, you have to inject emotion. And there’s a lot of showing and not telling. It’s a real skill. We did newspaper articles as well, news stories, but the first-person features were really the ones that we did the most. So as well as those, which directly influenced the copying really helped, that I could translate that over to copywriting. There was also voice as well. Because we wrote for so many different publications, each one has their own style guide, but coming into a press agency, you’re not told or given a style guide saying this publication writes like this or this one. And it was often really, they got as granular as some publications use double-quotes, some use singular.
It’s really tiny details like that, that you just had to pick up on. And so I created accidentally, like had my own system to replicate that voice, which I use as a copywriter now. I didn’t even realize I did it. It just came naturally to me and it wasn’t until clients were saying to me, oh, I don’t have to edit this. You sound like me. Or how did you do that? Like, no one else can do that, that I really realized that I did it. To be honest, it just never came to me before.
Kira: Okay. I’ve so many questions about your background as a criminal investigator. I mean, the first one is just, how did you take care of yourself and manage your own mindset and emotional stability as a reporter who is working on these really horrific crimes? How would you handle that because it’s so hard to explore those topics?
Nic: Yeah. I mean, I smoked at the time. That probably had a lot to do with it, but I don’t think I teared, to be honest. I think working in that industry, you have to be a certain kind of person. And I’m actually a really sensitive emotional person. I cry at dog adverts on the TV. Britain’s Got Talent, I cry at that when someone has a sob story and I’m like, oh my God, she’s so good. So it was really hard for me to actually take a step back on these stories and not get emotional. I remember once. One story that really sticks out to me was a story about a mom who was raped by somebody that she knew. This guy then preyed on her son years later. And her son tried to kill himself and blamed himself for what happened.
I just remember leaving this woman’s house and I remember calling my boss and I was just sobbing on the train home. It was just so horrible. Just the thought that someone so young could have so much guilt on their shoulders. Not that it even passed to me, but when you’re seeing that raw emotion right in front of you, it’s hard not to get affected. That night I remember getting home and I think I did have a glass of wine and some chocolate just to sort of calm myself down, but it got to the point where I really had to separate myself. One of the last stories that I did was about a guy who shot his two-year-old in the head. And that one, how can you hold the emotion back with that?
But it’s difficult because as a journalist, you’re there to do a job. You’re there to help this woman. I say women because we did work with women or women’s magazines so that was the primary audience. So we were there to help these women speak out. And by speaking out, they often encouraged other people to come forward to the police and report their own incidents. So I had to keep reminding myself that I was there to do a job, but I don’t think I did look after my mindset very well. That is the truth. And it’s something that now, sort of in the last six, nine months that I’ve really come to recognize, but there was a lot of numbing feelings and just pushing it to the side because I just thought this is more important. My feelings, not that they don’t matter, but that they’re not a priority right now.
Rob: So as you were working on these kinds of stories, Nic, where did you go to find story ideas or to identify people to talk to in order to get the stories out? What was that research process like?
Nic: Facebook groups, interestingly. That was the majority of places that we found the stories. Sometimes it was the national newspaper stories. So they would only really report on really big national stories. The ones that were particularly horrific or I don’t know, maybe the person had gone missing. And so they were then following that story up through the court case. So we found those, but they would have a lot of competition from other reporters and journalists because when you’re selling these stories to the magazines, only one magazine can publish the story. So therefore only one journalist gets to speak to the person. So it’s really competitive. So the nationals and the local newspapers were for the bigger stories that everybody had heard of. But then I would go into Facebook groups. So often just ones where maybe general women groups, or sometimes it would be specific groups for a specific condition that the magazines might like to report on, that got quite a lot of media interest. But that’s really how we found people. It was going through a lot of comments, looking for things that were interesting, and then contacting them, often quite delicately. But just saying, hey, would you like to speak out about this? My name’s Nicola, I write for these publications and I’d really like to raise awareness of whatever it was that they were talking about.
Kira: From that process in your time as a journalist, what are you doing today to figure out the hooks when you’re working on projects? What could we do better as copywriters to find the hook?
Nic: Ask questions. That’s really all that it is. That’s what I found, particularly when I was a journalist. Okay. So you’ve got the surface level. This is what the story is. So it’s just asking questions to keep going down layer, by layer, by layer, until you get to the one thing that makes them unique. I wouldn’t say I have a particular framework for it. It literally is just in the research process. And then not only that, but you’re looking at their competitors. What are their competitors doing? What are they not doing? How does that compare to the client and then going from there? Okay. So what are they doing that they aren’t doing and vice versa. It’s really a lot of digging, asking questions, and comparison as well to the market, and what’s already out there.
Rob: While we’re still talking about your reporting, Nic, how much writing did you actually do as a reporter? Were you responsible for a certain number of words per day or per week? What did that look like?
Nic: No. So we didn’t have specific words. It was really just whatever stories we were working on at the time, but once we had done those for the magazines, we would then repurpose them for the newspapers. So feature magazine articles were roughly about 1,000 to 1,500 words. And the newspaper articles were about 800. If you were writing a feature for a newspaper, they would say we need this story by 5:00 PM today. And you would have to just crank it out. And not only that, we’d have to do read-backs as well. So that’s where you read the story over the phone to the interviewee to make sure that they approve all of the quotes. So again, I got used to writing very quickly. And then it’s also the legal side of it as well, which not a lot of people realize, but for my job, you had to have sort of your media law qualifications so you don’t say anything that goes against contempt of court, for example.
So when cases going to trial over here, when the case is still active, there’s only so many things that you can report on. I think you have a different system in the US. There’s a really fine line of things that you can say. And even once the case has been over, if they haven’t been convicted of a certain crime, but the lady or the victim who was involved said that they did that, you can’t say that because they weren’t convicted of it. So there’s also a lot of law things to consider as well. So yeah, that was a lot.
Kira: Can you talk about the interview techniques and maybe we can pull some ideas to help us have better interviews where our clients open up and maybe talk about just harder stories or whatever it is that might feel more vulnerable since you were so good at that. What were some of the techniques that helped you allow your interviewees to open up to you?
Nic: Sure. So I always started off with a little bit of small talk. It might be an English thing, but we love small talk over here. So talking about the weather. Often we contacted people over Facebook. So if you see like a little girl or a dog in that profile picture. That’s obviously their dog or their child, so ask them about it. So just really getting them to open up about topics that they felt comfortable and just so they could see you as more of a friend. And I would always start by framing off the chat by basically saying we’re going to be chatting for X amount of time. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about something, you don’t have to go into it. We’re not going to go into any detail. With the cases that I did, you didn’t go into detail because there was obviously a lot of horrific details, but with copywriting, you do want to go into detail.
So that was something that I did, but I think with the copywriting when you’re doing those interviews, yeah, let them know how long they’re going to be on the call for. What it is that you’re actually going to do in terms of with the words that they say. Is it going to be published anywhere? I mean, we know that it’s not, but they don’t, and they might hold back from talking if they think it’s going to be published somewhere. So I just let them know, I’m recording it just to get it transcribed. It won’t be published anywhere. It’s just for my notes. But really just make them feel comfortable being in your presence. One of the things I always say is I’d never call it an interview. There are two types of interviews; job interviews, and police interviews, and both of those are very stressful situations.
I mean, I’ve never had a police interview, so I can’t confirm fully, but I imagine. And so when you say to somebody I’d like to interview you, immediately they’re going to freeze up because you don’t associate the word interview with anything pleasant. So I just simply say, would you be up for a 30-minute chat or a conversation or Zoom call. Just keep it really casual. You want them to feel comfortable at the end of the day. And then in terms of the actual questions. So I try not to ask why questions. Sometimes they just come out. But I find like with why; you’re basically presuming the answers. So it’s like, well, why is that important to you? You’re presuming that thing or whatever is important to them. So it’s how can that matter to you, would be like a softer way of putting it.
One of my pet peeves with interview questions is when people ask the question and then they give an alternative to the question. So they would say like, okay, do you like daytime, or is it that you are a nighttime person? And then they sort of feel like they have to fill the space and carry on with the question. Whereas if you just don’t give them the alternative, let them answer with their own words. And another thing as well is, let them speak more than you do. I’ve seen so many interviews where the interviewer just keeps talking and says their question, and then they feel they have to describe it and explain it for five minutes. Just ask the question and be quiet because there’s like a thing in psychology, people feel empty spaces. Even after they give their answer, if you want to dig a little bit deeper, one thing that I have used in the past is I just stay silent for a couple of seconds and you’ll find that they will actually continue and explain a little bit deeper and explain a little bit more and you get a few more golden details. That’s some of my techniques, that I like to use.
Rob: Nic, when you were just getting started, how did you find your first client and how do you get your clients today?
Nic: The business was started in June 2018, but I went self-employed last February, which was really great timing on my part. I don’t know what I was thinking. There you go. It all worked out in the end there. So with the Facebook group, I literally joined a Facebook group. I think it was one local. I presume that you guys have them in America, you have local business groups. So I live in a city called Birmingham. So there’s Birmingham Business or Birmingham Entrepreneurs, for example. I mean, I don’t know if they’re real groups. I just made them up. They’re the type of keywords that I was searching for. And the one that I joined, I think was actually one down south somewhere, but it was a local Facebook group for small businesses basically. And off the top of my head, I think I literally posted in there saying that I was a copywriter and did anybody need any help.
It was as simple as that. I hadn’t given any value, which is obviously really bad marketing now I realize. There was absolutely no value whatsoever, but I asked. I literally asked outright and somebody commented that she needed a website page. I think it was a home page and an about page and could I help her. She was a yoga instructor. And I said, yes. And so yeah, that’s literally how it went. Now, do I get any clients from Facebook groups? I don’t think I do. Most of my clients come from referrals. If not all of them, all are like past clients coming back for more. But yeah, Facebook groups was how I got my first, I would say, five to 10 clients. And then from there, one Facebook group client then referred me to another, who referred me to another one and it just sort of spiraled up really from there.
Kira: So we started working with you last March in the think tank, and I didn’t realize at the time that you had just gone out on your own the month beforehand. Can you talk just a little bit about why did you jump into the think tank in March? We didn’t really know you well at that point. You were kind of fresh out on your own and your own business so why.
Nic: So why this is so funny. So when I think back, I really came across you and Rob I would say January of last year. And I think I had heard someone talk about you. I was like, oh, let’s who The Copywriter Club is. And I hadn’t bought anything from you whatsoever. I hadn’t joined the Underground. I wasn’t in the Accelerator and I got your email and it was the thunder one. And I still remember it. And it was a thunder email talking about the think tank. And I thought, ooh, this sounds fun. And I read the brochure about 10 times. I’m one of those people that has to read every single word. And I don’t know, something about it just really lit me up. I can’t describe it other than that. And I remember reaching out to you and you saying we should get on a call and I just had such a good feeling about it.
I’m the kind of person where I have to follow sort of what my gut is telling me. My gut was telling me to do it. It was a bit of a leap at the time because I had only been self-employed for a month. But to be honest, I don’t even think trust was involved because I don’t even think I knew you guys well enough to trust you at the time. Just to be honest. It was just a really good gut feeling that I had that was telling me to go for it.
And I’m so glad that I did because my business has grown an insane amount in the last year, even during the pandemic. And I know that being in the think tank has contributed to that massively, at least 50%. So I don’t regret it, but yeah, it was a gut feeling just telling me to do it. In terms of why I invested so much money so early on, I honestly couldn’t tell you. So my brother is two years younger than me. He’s really good looking. Very witty, smart, like that annoying typical younger brother that all my friends fancy. He said to me once, you have to back yourself and I should grow in self-esteem and confidence and imposter syndrome. And so I had that in the back of my head, Jack saying to me back yourself. And so I did. That’s what I did.
Kira: Thank you, Jack. His name’s Jack?
Nic: Jack. Yeah.
Kira: Okay. So as a follow-up to that then. You have grown your business massively over the last year during the pandemic. So can you talk about what you’ve done differently maybe to other copywriters or what’s helped you grow the most over the last year?
Nic: That is such a good question. I would say it’s having a network of copywriters that I can turn to and really talk to. Having an online business is so lonely sometimes and especially during this past year when we’ve been in lockdown a lot of the time. I live alone in the UK as well. So I’ve spent a lot of the last year by myself. So having that community and people that I can lean on and ask questions too, and say, hey, is this a crazy idea? Because sometimes you doubt yourself especially when you’re running a business. It’s not like when you work a nine to five and somebody else makes all your decisions for you. You are your own boss. So I think that’s really helped. And I think asking for things as well. I’m not really shy in business so I ask for what I want.
So if I would like to work with somebody, I would ask them, do you have any work. Oh, no, if we’ve already made that connection. So I think not being afraid to ask for things and just being upfront and maybe sometimes a little bit cheeky, but I think I can get away with it. Sometimes just being a bit cheeky, I think that’s helped. I’d say in the last, probably two to three months, I’ve really been working on visibility and now I’m starting to see the results of that with podcast interviews and all of the leads that I get are coming from either direct referrals, from previous clients or places where my name has been mentioned. I’m on a directory with Copyhackers. So they’ve seen me on there. I’m in a few other places as well.
So getting my name in those places and reaching out to those people, that’s starting to bear fruits of that now. And the next step, which I’m in the middle of doing, is really sorting out systems and processes so my business can be as automated as possible. So that frees up so much of my time so then I can spend more time on client work or doing trainings and things like that. But yeah, I would say that they’re the top three or four things that have helped me.
Kira: Nic, what I really appreciate and like about you, what I think is part of your success, is that you aren’t afraid to reach out to people and to show up and to ask if they need help. And to be top of mind with past clients, with colleagues, with maybe dream clients too. And I know that we’ve worked with you through TCC several times and part of it is just like, I know that you’re always there in a really positive way, where you’re like, what do you need? What do you need help with? And it’s never pushy. It’s never aggressive. It’s just more like I’m here for you, let me know. And again, I think that being top of mind as a copywriter with past clients, with prospects, with dream clients is so important and it’s not hard to do, but very few of us do it.
I mean, very few people are top of mind with us because they just don’t reach out and ask us. But anyway, I think it’s something that you’ve done really well and probably is a big part of your success. And for anyone who’s listening and struggling, that maybe reaching out could be part of your strategy too, to help you stay top of mind with potential clients. So I just wanted to kind of note that observation. But beyond that, let’s talk about where you’ve struggled over the last year. So we’ve talked about what you’ve done well, let’s talk about where are you falling down over the last year?
Nic: Yeah, so definitely mindset was one. But I didn’t know it was mindset until it slapped me. Well, rather Linda Perry metaphorically slapped me in the face. So I’ll backtrack. Before I knew it was mindset I was struggling with hiring help. So I got to a point where I needed a VA to help me with my inbox and just random admin things that just take over your calendar or feel that they do. But I was so afraid of hiring a VA, even if it was only five hours a month or five hours a week or whatever the case may be. I think I was so scared that I wouldn’t make that money or it wouldn’t work out or that it was going to be a lot of work. There was a lot of stories that I was telling myself. So I put it off and just did the classic I’m going to hustle myself to the ground and do everything because that’s what I’m supposed to do.
So that’s one place I struggled with. And I think really, I didn’t have systems or processes. They’ve just been implemented now. I now have my onboarding sorted with [Dubsado 00:27:32]. But again, I really put off doing that. I didn’t even know that I could do that until working with you and Rob. In one of our retreats, we really did an exercise that showed me, okay, this is actually where I need to focus on next to move my business forward. But once I realized that mindset was the reason that I was scared to hire a VA, I really worked on it. And I recognized how mindset was showing up in so many areas, my perfectionism. I’m a huge perfectionist.
I am also a procrastinator. So I’ve never like put off doing client work or anything like that, but I would put off starting work in the morning and sort of give myself the excuse, oh, I’m a night owl so I can start work later and that’s okay, but really there was underlying fear that was holding me back. And again, it wasn’t until working with Linda Perry that I really got to the issue of that. And now I can recognize when I’m feeling that resistance. So I’d say that are the places that have held me back, but I think other than that, I feel like I’ve done things pretty well. I mean, everybody says hire before you’re ready. I know everybody says that, but I was still too scared to do it. So I think if you’re in that position, there’s definitely something that’s holding you back in terms of mindset because even if you have a VA for say one hour a week, that’s not really that much money, but in terms of the brain space it can save you, it’s incredible really? So yeah, I think mindset will be a place that a lot of people are being held back without realizing.
Kira: So let’s break in here to go into a little more detail on a few things Nic mentioned. So one that really stood out to me is that Nic never calls her customer interviews, interviews. She mentioned that there are two types of interviews; job interviews and police interviews, and both of those are stressful situations. And so in order to help the customer feel comfortable, calling it an interview might not be the best approach. And that stood out to me because I always call it an interview. So that’s something that I may change and may start calling it conversations or something else just to make new customers I’m speaking to for the first time feel more comfortable.
Rob: Yeah. I thought that was a really interesting idea. And as I was thinking about it, I also thought we also send out surveys and call them surveys, and maybe people don’t want to do a survey. Maybe they just want to give a little bit of feedback or maybe there’s a better way to word a lot of the things when we’re asking, especially for things like feedback and survey responses and these things where we’re requiring people who have no interest in actually helping us write a sales page or write an email funnel or whatever the thing is, actually give us that feedback. Oftentimes there isn’t an incentive or an Amazon card or something for providing those answers. And so making it seem less honorous, less like work is probably a really good idea. So I also noticed that and thought it was a really good thing that I’m going to have to start working on in my business.
Kira: And maybe for the podcast, we don’t call our podcast interviews, interviews, either. Maybe we’re scaring away our guests by calling it an interview. Maybe we should call it conversations or something else. Probably not, it seems to be working okay. But it is really important to think about what we call things, what we name things, especially as copywriters, and how it may be perceived.
Rob: Yeah. Agreed. And also while she was talking about the interview, the idea of leaving space for people to give answers. All the time I see this; I have this urgency when I’m talking to people to want to fill that space myself. And so just knowing that we’ve got to leave that white space for people to keep talking and maybe go a little bit deeper, I feel like we’ve mentioned that a long time ago in another podcast interview. Another trick I think that I learned from the book Never Split the Difference is that you should reemphasize or repeat the last three words that somebody says when they’re talking to you and that acts as a prompt to get them to continue saying the next thing that they want to say. And so leaving white space or prompting people to go on maybe a good trick to get people to share even more details when we’re looking at that really deep research in order to find the right hook, the right ideas to talk about.
Kira: Yeah. I have not been successful at the whole pause and allowing space for the other person to talk. I’m thinking more about our podcast conversations, but I do think that’s so important for customer interviews, for anything research-related. And because so many copywriters do host their own YouTube shows and their own podcasts now, it’s also important in that podcasting space to allow room to see where the conversation is going to flow. But yeah, my immediate reaction is always to just keep talking. And then half the time I listened to my questions and I’m like, I could’ve cut that in half for sure. Almost like what I’m doing right now.
Rob: There you go. So another thing that I asked Nic about what she does to come up with hooks and she talked about how she listens, the research that she’s doing, but I’m curious, Kira, do you have tricks for identifying what the hook is when you’re working with a client? Some way to identify the piece of information that just kind of jumps out at you and it’s like, okay, this is the idea I want to focus on or is it organic and it just kind of happens. It’s just kind of appears.
Kira: I think for me, it’s very organic and it’s very much like, what am I interested in? And I think when I don’t listen to that voice, then I usually end up being a little bit off. But when I do listen to it, it’s usually on. Right. It’s like, well, what do I want to hear more about? What am I interested in? What sounds different? What catches my attention? What am I still thinking about? So being able to kind of pull up that switch as a customer and prospect and reading through that lens is really helpful. But I think also the importance of doing all of the strategic work ahead of time in your research, looking at competitors, understanding the space because you won’t know what that is instinctually unless you understand the space that you’re working in. And especially if it’s a new space, you have to do a lot of legwork to get to that point.
Rob: Yeah. I think there’s something about coming up with a really good hook, there’s a certain skill there. And when I do it, I’m looking for the story that catches my attention or the thing that piques my curiosity. Depending on who I’m writing for, sometimes if there’s an idea that I know my audience has already in their head, if I can confirm that or build a hook around that, those kinds of things are nice to have. But there’s so much, especially when we’re talking about catching attention with a headline or with a Facebook ad or something like that. There’s just so much noise out there. And breaking through that, oftentimes we jump to the thing that’s the craziest or the loudest, and that’s not always the most interesting thing, but it’s sometimes the easiest thing. And so really doing the research like Nic was talking about to find the hooks that are going to resonate for all kinds of reasons I think is a really critical part of what we do as copywriters.
Kira: And one last takeaway I had from this part of our conversation was around showing up consistently and asking for what you want. And this is something that I commented in the conversation with Nic, about how she’s done this really well. And we’ve been able to watch it firsthand while working with Nic in the think tank. But what Nic did, at least with me, frequently throughout the past year was she would pop into my inbox or Slack and just say like, hey, how’s it going? What do you need help with? Knowing well we’re always busy with TCC and we always need help, and we always need writers to take on extra projects. And it’s something that Nic has done really well because it’s never felt aggressive. Right. We already had a relationship. We already had worked on a project, so I knew her skill level, the quality that was already there.
But while most other copywriters will just kind of move on and not follow up, Nic, would always pop back into my inbox and just say like, hey, what projects are you working on? Where are you overwhelmed? What can I help with? And so that led to working with Nic on several projects throughout the year just because she was showing up, she was offering to help, she wasn’t being overly aggressive. It was a really great approach and it pays off. It will pay off for all of us, but again, most copywriters don’t do that. And I know firsthand because I have not been great at doing that with clients. And I know a lot of copywriters we’ve worked with don’t follow up and don’t get those extra projects.
Rob: And of course, it doesn’t hurt that Nic is a really good writer. And so you know you can trust her when she does follow up and she’s there to help.
Rob: Okay. So let’s go back to our interview with Nic and ask a question about figuring out her processes as her business began to grow. Nic, you mentioned that you’re getting your processes straightened out. Can you talk a little bit about that? The process that you went through in order to figure out what are the processes that you need and what you’re doing in order to make sure that they’re in place to support you and your customers.
Nic: Yeah. So I always talk about this, but honestly, it really changed the way that I thought. So one of our think tank retreats, we did an exercise with Kira where we had to traffic light our business in I think it was five key areas. And green was great. Orange was, needs some work. Red was danger, sort it out. And everything was red and orange so basically I’m fired. And I just thought, oh my gosh. Because I hadn’t really done that much work in the business. I don’t know which way it is. But I’ve done all my client work and I’ve got clients, but in terms of behind the scenes, I didn’t really do that. I just put it off. But because I was still getting clients, I figured that it was okay. When I did this exercise and I just thought, oh my gosh, everything needs to change.
So it was really looking at that and one of the areas was processes and systems. And so I recognized that if I put that in place first that would save up so much of my time to then work on operations and SOPs, et cetera, et cetera. So the processes that I’ve put in place at the moment, my onboarding has been sorted and sales as well. So now when leads approach me, they’ll get an automated sequence. So I don’t need to faff around with getting them to book a call or anything. They now get a really sexy services guide of mine, which does it really good. And then like an opportunity to book a call if they’re still interested once they’ve seen the price and some reviews. So it’s really just elevating the whole process. I want people to know that I offer a white glove service, that I’m worth the prices that I charge, not only from the results that I get but the service that you’ll get from me. And really that’s what I feel has been done.
So everything looks better now. I now have a process. So when clients are onboarded with me, they get an automatic assets checklist. This is what I need from you, drop it here. And then also a questionnaire is sent to them directly as well. And I used to do the kickoff call within the project, but now that’s been moved to about 10 days before the project kicks off. So really those first two weeks of the project can be utilized for research, which as you both know, I like to go heavy on. So that’s really how I’ve changed my systems and my processes. Next, I’m going to be looking at nurturing. So people that don’t say yes initially, how can I nurture them so that it will be a yes later on.
Kira: How have you dealt with your own growth in the business too? At least from an outside perspective, it seems like you’ve had a lot of success and financial success over the last year. And so has that been easy for you to step into this new financial worldview, making more than you were a year ago, or is it something that you’ve struggled with at all?
Rob: Yeah. How much more wine do you have today?
Nic: I was just going to say, I’m now drinking eight-pounders of wine. As an eight pounds, as in the price, not the weight. Just so people know. Do you what, I’m really bad at sitting down and actually looking at how far I’ve come. Like you guys have probably noticed, this is why I’m always looking forward. What’s next? What can I do? I don’t really celebrate my wins. So it’s hard to answer that question because I don’t celebrate myself. That’s also something that I need to work on and probably something that I wish I did more of the past year. And thank you for all the compliments, by the way, I really appreciate it. But when people do say to me, oh, you’ve had so much success in the past year. I almost like sit down, I think yeah, I have. It’s like I don’t realize it myself until somebody else tells me. So I do need to get better at celebrating myself. So on the basis of that, it’s hard to answer that question.
Rob: So Nic, tell us about a typical project for you today. Obviously different from the website copy, whatever you started out with. What do you work on? What does an engagement look like and how much would a client pay to work with you again for a typical project?
Nic: Sure. So I mostly work on launch packages now and I tend to do a lot of start to finish launch product packages where it’s the full funnel. Mapping out the customer journey. So they start around £10,000. I think it’s just under. I don’t know what the conversion to American dollars is, which I should know because all of my clients are American.
Rob: Like £10,000 is about $12,000, $13,000 somewhere right in there.
Nic: Okay. So I think in terms of the launch copywriting work, probably I’m probably charging too little I’ll be honest. It does feel like all of my peers are charging way more for launch packages. But in terms of those packages, I do roughly two weeks of research and that’s really where we go heavy on customer interviews, surveys, review mining, all of that, really just to find out why is my client unique in the marketplace? What is their messaging? And also to figure out their voice as well. So I use the process that I did when I was a journalist to really figure out, okay, what phrases do they use? What language do they use? When I worked with your copy, I did the exact same process with you guys and figured out… Because working with you was different because you have two distinct voices. Like Rob, you and Kira do not sound the same at all?
Rob: What. This is a shocker.
Kira: Shocking revelation in episode 200 something.
Nic: Yeah. You should put that as a podcast headline, Rob and Kira sound different. So really I spent a lot of time, okay, they sound different, why is that? And sort of reverse engineering that to really figure out what was going on there. So that’s involved in my process. And then it comes down to strategy and actually mapping out the customer journey in terms of what is their awareness, what messages do they need to hit, and when? And then writing the copy. If I do sales pages, which I often do in my big launch packages, I will wireframe them as well. But yeah, I mean, really I do everything, research writing. The only thing I don’t do is implementation because tech is not my friend.
Kira: So wait. What is going on there with our two different voices? I would love to hear more selfishly, just as far as you have these two people, different voices, what did you learn as you were observing and analyzing the two of us?
Rob: And which one of us would you rather write in the voice of?
Nic: Okay. So I find Kira’s voice easier to write in, but that’s because she writes like I would. Yeah, I do find Kira’s voice easier. I think I overthink yours, Rob. I think that’s what it is.
Rob: I think I overthink mine. So maybe we have that in common. Maybe that’s the Rob voice.
Nic: Maybe that is the Rob voice. Yeah. I like that. I would say the main difference I can think of is your use of italics. And this is like even how granular I get when I look at voice. Kira, you use italics to add actual detail. So it’s often personal details or like a funny joke, something witty. And Rob you use it for emphasis. So it’ll be like, I can, and you’re might emphasize can. You use it for emphasis? That’s the main difference. But yeah, Kira, you reference your children or habits that you’ve got because you write personality copy, you put that into your copy. Whereas Rob’s an enigma, he doesn’t include any details about his life.
Kira: We don’t know anything about Rob.
Rob: There might not even be a Rob. Rob is just a figment that Kira has invented in order to be the straight man for her jokes.
Kira: Okay. Well, I appreciate you sharing that. So my other question is just, we talked about visibility. You mentioned your focus on visibility. I know you and I have talked a lot about how to go from being in the commodity price shopping bracket for copywriters in general to the in-demand copywriter and what it takes to get there. So I’m just curious to hear what you’re focused on. What has worked for you as you’re kind of moving to this in-demand space? What’s working, what’s not working, and the visibility?
Nic: So what’s working for me is definitely podcasts and I’m really enjoying them as well. I’m very good at talking so I’m enjoying that. I’m also doing quite a lot of guest expert trainings as well in programs. I did one last week actually with Content Bistro. That was really fun. And I’ve got a few more coming up. Like really, I think it’s playing to strengths. So my strength is talking, my strength is video. And so I do visibility opportunities that work to those strengths. And like I said, I’m very good at talking so I want to play upon that. And I think when people hear me talk, they get a sense of my personality as well, and they can get a sense of what it’s like to work with me. So that’s really what I’ve been focusing on. And I would say that it might be too early to see if it’s really working, but from feedback that I’ve gotten from some podcasts already, it seems like it is.
So I think with visibility, it’s really important to play to strengths. And again, stay top of mind. So I chase up past clients regularly, let them know that I’m still available because sometimes you don’t need to take it seriously. Sometimes people do forget about you and that’s not you, that’s just because they get busy, they’ve got a business to run, they might have children. So I just send them a follow-up email just to let them know that if they want to work together, I’ve got space. And I let them feel special about it as well. I often say I’d love to work with you again, I’ve got a slot coming up in X, would you like this nugget? I’d love for you to steal it. Or something like that, just make them feel special. So I’d say they’re really the two things that I’ve been doing. In terms of visibility, I would love to move more into media opportunities, but I haven’t really delved into that yet. And sounds like a lot of work, whereas I’m quite good at just turning up and talking.
Rob: So we’ve talked a lot about podcasts on the podcast. We’ve talked a lot less about landing guest expert’s slots and teaching in groups like what you’re doing. Tell us a little bit about, is there a difference between pitching one or the other or what are the things that somebody should keep in mind if they want to do more guest experts speaking as opposed to other kinds of publicity like podcasting?
Nic: Yeah. I mean, I use a pretty similar pitch to be honest with the guest expert trainings. I mean, if it is not broke, don’t fix it. I mean, I changed it a little bit, personalized it, but other than that, I pretty much used the same one. The thing that I would be really wary of, or not wary of, but to remember is really make sure that your topic fits the program, or the membership, or the mastermind, whatever it is that you’re pitching. And make sure it hasn’t been covered before. Sometimes if that topic is covered already by the person who’s running the program, they might not want a guest expert to come in and teach it again. It really depends, what their approach is. But if you can show that your approach is different or might go into more detail, that is how I would approach that.
But that’s really what I was looking for. And to be honest, when I pitched to Content Bistro and the fact that they said yes, still blows my mind. So again, it just goes to show if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And you just got to ask. What’s the worst they can do, say no. Well, you’re still in the same position that you were. I know that is a huge mindset thing for a lot of people to get to that point. But I think because of my journalism training where I did pitch magazines nearly every single day and got rejected hundreds, probably thousands of times, it doesn’t bother me so much. So make sure that your topic is relevant to the program or the cause. And really, if it is, show them how it’s going to help the audience as well and what they’re going to get out of it.
Kira: Nic, we have a fun surprise. We like to do the lightning round now at the end of our episodes. So just bear with us as we ask you some lightning round questions.
Rob: We say we do it now; this is the second time that we’ve tried it. So we’ll see how it goes.
Kira: And I almost forgot. I forgot to do it until Rob nudged me and reminded me. Thanks, Rob. So Nic we’ll start with some easy ones. Like what’s your favorite day of the week?
Nic: Wednesday came to mind and I don’t know why. How random.
Rob: Hump day. It’s like, middle of the day and you’re looking forward to… Yeah, it’s got to be.
Kira: Nickname your parents used to call you.
Nic: Knick-knack, Nickelodeon. I was always in trouble. So probably just Nicolette, which is my full name. I got called that when I’m in trouble.
Kira: How long does it take you to get ready?
Nic: Oh, like 10 minutes. When I used to work at my full-time job, I would wake up 10 minutes before I left the house. I’m very minimal to be honest.
Kira: Scale of one to 10, how good of a driver are you?
Nic: Like nine, although I do keep back into brick walls by accident. So maybe I’m looking at seven.
Kira: I would say that brings your score down. Just a tad.
Nic: No. It’s only when I reverse.
Kira: Okay. So we’ll like six or seven ish.
Rob: We’ll give you a four.
Kira: Okay. We’re going to tell you how good of a driver on the show. That’s what we’re going to do.
Nic: I’m a four. For confidence, I’m an eight.
Kira: Okay. That’s fair. That feels fair. Do you snore?
Nic: No. Sleeping is the only time that I’m quiet.
Kira: Place you most want to travel.
Kira: Favorite junk food.
Nic: Crisps or chips as you call them.
Rob: What flavor?
Kira: Yeah. What flavor?
Nic: I love barbecue Pringles, but I can’t buy them because they’re like crack to me, I’ll just eat them. So I try not to buy them.
Rob: I think the Worcester Walkers are the best crisps of all. So good.
Nic: I haven’t had them in ages.
Kira: Lightening round guys. Focus. Do you believe in fate?
Kira: Interesting. Why can’t we tickle ourselves?
Nic: I don’t know. Because we’re so used to our own touch I guess. How random.
Kira: I am pulling this from lightning round questions of elfster.com and some of these questions are just ridiculous. Let’s ask one last one, Rob, unless you have one that’s coming to mind that you want to throw in there.
Rob: Favorite superhero.
Nic: Superwoman, obviously.
Rob: And why. Why is it obvious?
Nic: Because she’s a woman and she’s badass. And I think in a fight she would kick ass of everybody else.
Kira: Last question. Would you want to live forever if you could?
Nic: No, definitely not.
Kira: I’m with you. I said the same thing.
Rob: I’m the only one.
Kira: Rob wants to live forever.
Rob: I don’t see why not? If I’m healthy and whatever, why not? Why not keep living.
Nic: Isn’t that like Peter Pan? Didn’t he want to live forever as well?
Rob: I don’t want to be a child forever.
Kira: Well, I mean, there’s a lot of missing details to that question, but if all your family and friends die and you live forever, I would just be really sad. I would be really sad if you lose everyone you love.
Rob: Maybe. Or maybe I’d just make more friends. I could try.
Kira: You’re like, it’s cool. I’ll make new friends.
Nic: I would rather let dogs live forever instead. That would be better like how to switch that one up.
Rob: Dogs should live forever. That’s true. So that’s the end of our interview with Nicola Moors. There are a few other things that jumped out at me as we’ve been talking. I’m guessing Kira, you’ve got a couple of others. But Nic has written for us. She’s written some stuff for us and it was kind of fun hearing her talk about the differences between writing for you and writing for me. It’s interesting to me that I’m so difficult to write for because I feel like my voice is pretty straightforward. I have a way harder time writing in your voice than in my voice, obviously. I feel like everybody else should feel the same way.
Kira: It’s always interesting. I know Justin Blackman has analyzed our voices previously too and shared the differences and it’s always kind of fun to hear. And I always learn something new when we hear that feedback. But yeah, it sounded like I just provide a lot more personal information and that you might hold some of that back, which is your style, and my style, which is how we work together.
Rob: So yeah, exactly. It’s interesting when Nic pointed out the way that we use italics or parentheses differently for emphasis or for including additional information. And it is interesting when people point that out to us, I’m like, oh yeah, that’s right, that is a difference between us when we write. So kind of fun to get that feedback. Another thing that jumped out to me as I’m listening to Nic talk is just the propensity to not celebrate wins, to not look back and see what we’ve accomplished. Nic was saying that’s one thing that she does. You and I do that. We’ve talked about how we don’t take time to stop and celebrate our wins or to really enjoy things that are going well because almost as soon as we finish one thing and it’s happened, it’s done, maybe we did a really good job with it, but there’s five more things that need to get done.
And I think there’s a propensity among a lot of copywriters, a lot of online business owners to do that and to not take time to just really celebrate where we’ve been, where we’ve come over the last year, the last three months, whatever that timeframe is. And it is important to look back and see. Yeah, in Nic’s case she went from almost nothing a year ago to where she’s got this really nice business that she still feels is imperfect and yet is on track to grow and to continue just to support her in the lifestyle she wants.
Kira: I think Nic is a great example of how much you can accomplish in one year. And like I said in the conversation when we brought her into the think tank, I didn’t realize that she had just really jumped into her own freelance business a month beforehand. And just to see what she’s accomplished in one year is incredible. And I agree with you, we are pretty awful at celebrating our wins. Just even thinking back, you and I just completed the TCC, Not In Real Life the Event, and I haven’t taken a moment really to celebrate that with you, at least. So I think there’s a lot of work we can do there. And then maybe that’s why with our team meetings, we have now shifted to kicking off all of our team meetings by celebrating wins, which is, again, it’s just so important because otherwise we just jump into team business and bypass all the good things that we are doing and just focus on what needs improvement.
Rob: I think you can blame Teresa for that. She’s the one that draws that out of us. That’s certainly not because you and I are getting a lot better at it, but because we’ve got people on our team who are like yeah, we need to celebrate this stuff. So it’s good to have them there.
Kira: Yes. Thank you, Teresa.
Rob: So what else stood out to you, Kira?
Kira: I think part of what stood out is just we talked about visibility with Nic and that’s something that she’s focused on, especially more recently and just the importance of that and understanding why it’s important. And I know part of why it was important for Nic and for many copywriters is to step out of the stage where you’re in a commodity marketplace and you talk on sales calls to different prospects, but they’re also talking to two or three other copywriters who were recommended or referred. So even when you’re in a referral marketplace where your name is being passed around, that’s a really great step forward. And that’s part of the path that’s progress. But to get to the point where you can jump on a sales call and you know that you’re going to be picked, that it’s yours to lose is related to visibility.
And that’s related to somebody hearing you or seeing you, learning from you firsthand, and building that trust through podcast episodes or through your social media or through an article or through YouTube where they’re like, I just want to work with Nic. I resonated with that interview and Nic’s personality and Nic’s framework that she shared. And I only want to work with Nic. So I’m not going to talk to other copywriters for this project, or maybe if I do, they’re just backups. And so I think that’s the level that so many of us are seeking. And I know you and I have called that the celebrity copywriter status, and it’s a real thing. It exists and it is possible to reach that level, but you can only reach that level when you’ve done the work consistently to show up, to be visible and to market yourself. And so it’s been really cool to see Nic kind of move and graduate from level to level to get to that point more recently.
Rob: Yeah. I think there’s this idea out there that if you were really good at what you do, people are going to find you naturally. And the sad truth is that is not true. Just being great at something is not enough. The best copywriters in the world are not necessarily the copywriters that make the most money or the copywriters who are working with the best clients because people have to hear about you. They have to know about you. They have to see what you’re talking about or the things that you know. You have to be out there teaching. And you mentioned, we call it the celebrity copywriter. We’ve even put together a mini-course about that. How do you line up all of the things so that when you’re ready to get that visibility, you can go out there and just let your light shine and everybody sees you, or at least the people in your niche and your industry see you and they want to hire you? You become the go-to in your space. Nic has done that really, really well. And I’m going to share now, if you go to celebritycopywriter.com, just not, the, but celebritycopywriter.com, you can learn about that training that we put together and see the same formula really that Nic has followed as she has done this and sort visibility for her business.
Kira: We want to thank Nic Moors for joining us to chat about the amazing progress she’s made in just over a year as a copywriter. If you want to connect with Nic, you can find her on Instagram @nicolamoors. And if you go to nicolamoors.com/bundle, you can check out her new brand voice guide that walks through her process for writing with a personality.
Rob: 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 Podcasts to leave a review of the show. And as Kira mentioned at the top of the show, if you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and finally achieve your goals, grow a business like the business that Nic has built over the last year, visit copywriterthinktank.com. We’re accepting applications for a few new members right now so you’ll want to get your application in soon. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.