On the 251st episode of The Copywriter Club podcast, we’re joined by none other than Laura Belgray. Laura is the founder of Talking Shrimp and co-creator of The Copy Cure with Marie Forleo. It’s been a few years since she’s been on the show, and in which time she’s done everything she said she wasn’t going to do in her business. No matter where you are in your copywriting, you’ll hear countless insights you can apply to your own business.
Ready to take notes?
- How to go from copywriter for clients to being a copywriter for yourself.
- What hiring team members can do for you and your business growth. (Hint: explode)
- The shift from being someone’s copywriter to stepping into your own voice and brand.
- Becoming the course creator and getting paid to write emails to your list.
- Igniting your brand so people know you exist.
- Why you need to start pitching yourself (yesterday).
- Envisioning what you truly want in your business and what it will take to get there.
- Laura’s website transformation and creating her own museum for people to take pictures with. (It’s the end of an era!)
- Hiring a coach to help with pivots and rebrands.
- Emailing your list 3x a week. Should you do it?
- How sharing your content and articles can prove to build your authority. — As long as it’s shareable.
- The fastest way to learn new information or processes.
- What you should be telling your list to create meaningful connections and to dig deeper into their wants and needs.
- The myths of managing a team.
- Why you need to be super clear and honest with your list about what your purpose is.
- How to boost your creativity when the wheels aren’t turning.
- The raw and real truth of writing a book. — You may need to quiet your ego.
- How many copywriters of today are becoming shadows and what you can do to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.
- The future of copywriting and what absolutely has got to go.
- What Laura does to make money by being herself (and while sitting on her couch.)
There are many ways to create a successful copywriting business, and Laura’s method is one worth listening to. Press play or check out the transcript below.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Kira’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Laura’s first episode
Laura’s subject line resource
Rob: A lot can change in three years. Heck, if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that things can change quickly, and they change faster than we think. Our guest for this episode is Laura Belgray, and Laura was on our podcast a little over three years ago. That was episode 15, where she talked about the kind of business that she had, and she talked about a lot of things that she wasn’t even interested in doing. Now, three years later, that’s all changed. She’s built the business that she said she didn’t want, and she loves it. So we’re going to get into the details of that change, and what Laura has done with her business. But first, let me introduce my co-host for today, copywriter and launch strategist, Brittany McBean. Welcome, Brittany.
Brittany: Thanks, thanks for having me. I’ve told you that my life goal is to be Kira when I grow up, so now I’m just one step closer.
Rob: Yeah, right, if Kira decides not to come back, you can just stay.
Brittany: I’m taking her spot, watch out.
Rob: Exactly. You’ve been warned Kira. I’m excited to have Brittany here to share her thoughts about what we chatted with Laura today. But before we get to that interview and to the things that we want to share, this is your weekly reminder that this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast is brought to you by The Copywriter Think Tank. That’s our mastermind for copywriters and marketers who are doing some pretty big things in their business, becoming better copywriters, creating products, maybe creating things like video shows, like what Brittany has on YouTube, podcasts, even building agencies, product companies. If you want to do something interesting like that in your business, and become the person that high-paying clients call because you’re the person that they know, that’s what we help copywriters do in the think tank. To learn more, visit copywriterthinktank.com so that we can chat about whether it’s a fit for you. Okay. So let’s jump into our interview with Laura Belgray, and find out more about her business and what’s changed.
Brittany: What have you been doing since we spoke to you on episode 15? Four and a half years ago.
Laura: Four and a half years ago, right. We just established that was 2017. And I mean so much, like my business was totally different then, which I guess we’ll get into, we can get into it right now, so back then we talked about copywriting for clients and that’s what I was doing and that’s all that I was doing. Now I don’t do that anymore, so my business looks totally different. I have a group program called Shrimp Club which runs for nine months of the year, we just wrapped round three, and it was amazing. I have a couple of courses, one of which I’m launching right now, it’s called Inbox Hero and one called Launch Hero. I love selling those. So, my business is all the kind of business that I said didn’t want to have, but now I have it and I’m so happy about it. So that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing.
Rob: Let’s talk about that, because like you said, that’s not what you had planned on four years ago, but it is what you are today. So like why the change, what made you evolve to what you’ve got today?
Laura: Yeah, it’s funny, I was just looking at the transcript for our first episode, episode 15, and it’s so funny. I see a lot of myself saying, well, I never want to have a team.
Brittany: Did you say that?
Laura: I did. I said, I don’t want a team. I know everybody says that that’s what it takes to get to the magical seven figure mark, which I would love to do. That’s what I was saying to you then, but I just don’t want a team and I don’t want that kind of business. Then I hired somebody in 2018, her name is Sandra, I don’t know if you know her, but Sandra Booker, she’s amazing and not available. I found her through Tarzan Kay.
Rob: Yeah, a lot of people like Sandra, I’ve heard her name passed around quite a bit.
Laura: She’s very popular, very popular. Everybody tries to hire her and I think you can, for a little bit of consulting, possibly, and she has a mastermind that helps you with your tech stack and stuff like that, or that you can send your VA to. So, hiring Sandra, at first I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with her, but you know what, Tarzan wrote a Facebook post about her back in, I guess it was 2018 and said the magic words. She said, since I hired Sandra, I’ve been making so much more money. For me, that’s always a go that’s a yes. So I was like, tell me about this Sandra. I just jumped on the chance to hire her and did, and didn’t really know what we did. It took us a little while to find our groove, cause I didn’t really know what kind of work to give her. I was a little confused about it. She took on the scheduling of my clients, and in fact that summer my dad died that summer and she was just absolutely crucial, helping me reschedule things like taking things off my plate that I just did not have the wherewithal to handle. I was like, I need to be off the grid and not dealing with client stuff and I don’t want to explain to everybody what I’m going through right now, and have to deal with everyone’s kindnesses, and all of that. She did it for me, and I think that was the first time I was like, oh, thank God I have an assistant. She turned out to be my way more than an assistant and I refer to her as my manager, she’s an online business manager. She started clearing the way for me to create a lot more, to take on more, to take on projects, to actually build things, create things, rebrand and create mini-courses and sell mini-courses, and set them up with links. Then, all the integrations and things that I would have sat there researching all day and probably didn’t do it because of that. Also, client work got in the way. So, I think most copywriters go through this. They would like to scale or take on, at a certain point they say, you know what? I want to run. I want to have something on my own to sell. I sell for everybody else. I have the skills to use words that sell, and I’m doing it for everybody, but me, I want to create something. But then they have so much client work that they can’t get to their own work, which I’m sure is something that you can both relate to from when that was your whole world. So, I think taking on hiring Sandra and saying, okay, I can at least have some support, even if I don’t want a team, that changed everything. That set things in motion. Then a couple of, I’d say, mindset shifts that came to me, like visions, in that same year, 2017 when I talked to you, I think I had just realized that I was tired of being referred to as so-and-so’s copywriter, like people would call me Marie Forleo’s copywriter and that wasn’t even true. I was her writing partner and helped her with some copywriting, like scripting episodes, but I wasn’t her copywriter, she did her own copywriting. That made me uncomfortable, and always being called somebody’s secret weapon or, oh, you write copy for so-and-so, you’re the real deal. I’m like, no, I want to be defined as the real deal in my own right. I decided I wanted to be Laura (beep) Belgray. I didn’t want to be anybody’s anything. I didn’t want to be, Laura Marie’s copywriter, or Laura so-and-so’s copywriter. I wanted to be Laura (beep) Belgray, and I wanted to be a brand and a name in my own right, and I realized that that would require certain things. Like that would require making more of a mark with my output, with my content, and at that time I was really getting into emails, and it’s like, I would love to be paid just to write emails. I realized, well, if I want to be paid to write emails, I have to sell things in my emails and I have to write my emails consistently. So, I stepped that up. I started being more consistent with my emails writing once a week to start with, and then I hired a coach, Ron, I think this was in like 2018, maybe it was 2017. Now I’m losing track of time, as we do. He said, if you wave wave a magic wand over your business, what would that look like? At the time, I had mini-course or two on my site. I said, if everybody who signed up, who opted in to hear from me, to get my emails, bought my mini-course, that would be all the money I need. I would be rich, rich enough for me. He said, well, if you want more people to buy your mini-courses or to buy anything from you, then I think you should step up your emails from once a week to three days a week. It seemed like a lot, but he was like, I guarantee you, you triple your emails, you will at least double your sales. And he was right. I tried it for a month, and he was right. I saw to my sales more than double in that month. So I was like, this is the thing. This is the secret, right here, is volume, is interacting with people and creating output in volume, being prolific. So, I started doing that, and I started becoming more visible and making a push to be more visible because I knew that’s what it would take also. I wanted to be paid to be me, so I recognized that you don’t get paid to be you if people don’t know who you are. I started pitching to more podcasts, and doubling down on those efforts, and pitching to speak and getting articles doing guest posts for publications, like Business Insider, Forbes, Money, et cetera. That changed everything also.
Brittany: Okay. I definitely want to talk about that in more detail, but to circled back to working with clients. It sounds like Sandra kind of cleared the space and started to help create this new business. Was that when you realized, I can make the pivot and I don’t have to write for clients, I can start to shift, or did that happen later? When did that happen?
Laura: It happened a little later, I would say it took about a year. I hired Sandra in early 2018, and then it was in late 2019, I think the fall right after, or no, as I launched my new site, I rebranded my site and rebranded it in a way that made it clear I don’t take clients anymore. So, I think I announced it around then, launched my site in September of 2019. That was the official notice, like no more clients. I archived my rates and you can actually find them on my work with me page, but it makes it clear. These are no longer available, but if you’re looking …
Brittany: There’s no button to click.
Laura: Yeah, there is no button to click. If you really want to see what was there, there’s no button to click for buy now, but there’s a button to click if you want to see and treat it as a tourist destination and check out my old rates like it’s a museum.
Rob: So Laura, I’m curious, when you made that shift, at what level of income had you already attained? This is a poorly phrased question, so I’m sorry, but where were you as far as the so-called automated income, the non-client income was versus your do-it-for-your-client income and how did that shift as you made the jump? Obviously you went from a hundred percent at one point to a hundred percent on the other, but what did that look like through the transition?
Laura: Yeah, so my client income, up until that moment, the client income was pretty much all of it. And the mini-courses that I was selling, which was my 60 Minute Makeovers Copywriting Mini-Course, and one or two others that in about page builder that I have on my site. I think I have them all there now. I think I had three of them then, I think they started to make six figures. Maybe not quite that. They had been making $4,000 a month and went up to around $8,000 a month. When my coach suggested I start upping the email frequency, right? They started making at least close to six figures if not six figures, and the rest was entirely client income. Most of that was from online entrepreneurs, I had, I had really trickled off with the TV promos that I’d been writing. I used to have regular clients. It used to be a real blend. By this point, it was almost entirely online entrepreneurs, private clients. I was making a couple of hundred thousand, I guess. I don’t remember the exact number, but wasn’t making nearly as much as I wanted to. I think I told Ron when he asked like, wave a magic wand, what do you want your business? I said, I would also like to replace my income at some point and make even more. I think my goal was to make $500,000. That was my kind of pie-in-the-sky stretch goal. I was like, I don’t know where that money could come from, but that’s what I would like. So we started shifting things, and here’s another thing I said to him, I said in The Copy Cure, like we have launched The Copy Cure in a real way, taking it from evergreen to a real launch and beefed up the course, made way bigger and included this live component, which were two different things. One is live website and copy makeovers that I would, do not live but I would record them on screen, so them in real time. Then the other was called Live with Laura, and still is, I still do these things every time we launch. That’s where I just answer questions on the spot, and that is live. So I told Ron, I said, I love this part of The Copy Cure, where I am doing stuff live on the spot, like answering group questions, like answering people’s questions in a group format. He said, well, then that means you should have a group program, why wouldn’t you do that? And I was like, oh, is that what you do in a group program? And he was like, yeah. I’d always resisted the idea, I felt like everyone who had group programs or group coaching programs talked about holding space. I didn’t understand what that meant. I hated the term. I was like, I don’t know if I can do that. I also just didn’t picture myself doing it. I didn’t think of myself as that kind of leader. I never thought of myself as a leader. So that was a whole other thing. But, so he said, I think you should create a group program. So I created Shrimp Club, and he suggested what I should charge for it. I did not think I would be able to get anybody on board at that price. He was like, trust me. He just had a knack for knowing the right number to ask people and it worked and it filled. I loved it so much that I kept doing it. That makes up a significant portion of my income now, Shrimp Club does.
Brittany: So, to go back again to kind of the transition, because we talk to so many copywriters who do realize along the way, I don’t want to write for clients anymore, and sometimes they’ve been doing it for two years, sometimes it’s more than that, but that’s hard for them to grasp. They usually don’t feel okay with even saying that out loud. Was it hard for you once you realized that, and rebranded, or was it easy at that point because you planned it out and you did it over time, and it was just a little bit easier to make that transition?
Laura: It was a challenging leap of faith, because I just didn’t know. I feel like I had enough of a cushion because I had The Copy Cure, that I knew we would launch. I knew I would be okay if nobody showed up to the party, but it still made me nervous. I’m like, people know me for this. They want me for this. This is really easy money in a way, except it wasn’t easy money. It was easy money in that I had my services up, people knew me, they came to the page. I didn’t have to do that much heavy-lifting to get clients. They were now coming to me, and also I had done these articles that sent people my way and established credibility and authority and made them want to book me at my rate. I kept raising my rates, and I finally raised my rate to a number where I thought, okay, maybe this will stop people from booking me. Which I know sounds so obnoxious and is goals, but I was like, if they do book me, I had to think of a number where they probably wouldn’t, and if they did book me, it would feel worth my while, because I started just dreading appointments on my calendar. That’s really what it came down to. I loved the client work when I was doing it. When I was talking to somebody and working on their copy and it was going well, I really enjoyed that, but I hated seeing their names on my calendar. It was like, oh God, I have a client meeting, could it get off my calendar? I wanted just blank space on my calendar. I wanted to run my day in a way more, I didn’t want to see like, oh gosh, I’ve got to get home by 2:00 PM and make sure I’m in front of the computer in time for this call. That’s the big reason I had to do it, and take that leap of faith and it paid off.
Rob: So, you kind of mentioned this, as you were talking about this shift in your business, the mindset changes that you went through and what you believed about your business before and where it is today. Will you talk just a little bit more about that? Because I think maybe more than copy skills, or marketing skills, or anything else, it’s mindset that keeps us from making these changes. How was it that you were able to make the leap?
Laura: It was pretty gradual, but I did recognize these three things. Let me take you back to, this is going to sound silly, but there was a productivity workshop that I attended in the beginning of 2017. It was in January during that time when you’re like, okay, I need a fresh start, I need to be a different person, and a productivity workshop really appealed to me. I was like, this better work and make me a productive human. The main exercise that we did in it, we were all sitting on the floor on those like kind of self-supporting-back yoga chairs. We had those composition notebooks in front of us, in different colors, mine was purple, and the person running it, Chris Winfield, who was doing these things at the time, and now does publicity, he had gave us a series of questions. I’ve learned that everybody does this exercise. Everyone has done it a million times, I guess it’s called The Painted Picture, but it was a future-pacing exercise where we had to picture ourselves in our ideal life in five years and write down, it’s a series of questions about five years from now, like what do you see yourself doing for work? What does a day look like for you? Where are you living? What does your home look like? What are you doing for fun? What is your mindset like? Of course I was like, oh God, I thought I was going to learn to be productive, but going through these questions and actually writing down the answers, like fine, what am I going to do? Sit here and just stare at the notebook while everyone writes? Actually writing down the answers that I saw in my mind forced me to reckon with what I really wanted, and get specific about it. Admitting those things to myself, seeing myself on stage telling stories from my life, and what else did I want? I guess I pictured a life, or a career that was kind of like Liz Gilbert’s, who wrote Eat Pray Love and many other things, she goes on stage and she tells stories about her life. She also kind of coaches people and helps them through stuff, but it’s mostly that and she doesn’t have to do anything instructional and she doesn’t have to take clients. So, I pictured a career kind of like that and nothing I wrote down included meet with clients from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Nowhere in my ideal world were there clients. I understood in order to get this picture that I want, there are certain things that I have to do. One of them was writing more emails, because it did involve writing an email. I love writing emails. So, writing an email to my list, and then somehow the money comes out. That was the magic that I saw somehow. I knew what I had to do with that. I understood the steps that I had to take, and I think that was the real shift, was admitting to myself what I wanted and admitting what it was going to take to have that and also seeing that it was possible, even though I didn’t know all the steps. I didn’t know how to get all the way from here to there, but I saw some of the things that I had to start doing. And I started doing them, which was very unlike me because I was very much a tomorrow person or next year, or I can’t think of anything to say, or I don’t know what people want from me. This really started with writing the emails and coming up with a talk or two to pitch to stages and started starting to write guest posts for big publications, because I knew that was one way to accelerate everything.
Brittany: Well, maybe we can dig deeper into that because you mentioned earlier, you wanted to be paid. You know, I want to be paid to be me. That comes up a lot. That sounds great, and so if we want to be paid just to be ourselves, what are some of those steps as far as visibility that we can take? Because also when I look back at you from outside perspective over the last five years, it feels like you were already doing those things, and so visible before 2017. So maybe there were steps that we just didn’t see, or you just upped it. I guess the question in the end is just, what can we do as copywriters to be more visible so that we can move into that space where we’re paid to be ourselves?
Laura: That’s funny that you saw me that way. I felt like I was hiding a little bit, I knew that I had a name, I knew I had made a name as a copywriter for other people, but I didn’t feel like I was really known in any capacity or for my own writing. I would say that the steps for me would be to start pitching to publications, start looking at what kind of publications publish the sort of article you would want to write. It doesn’t have to be big article you would want to write and it doesn’t have to be big publications. Also, it could be blog posts.. Not blog posts blogs. I don’t know, if do you guys have a blog for you, publish people.
Rob: We do.
Laura: You do. Okay. So I’m probably getting you into hot water now, but pitch to Rob and Kira!
Kira: That’s great. We’re always looking for good content.
Yeah. There’s even a page on our site that tells people the kind of content we will publish. So yeah.
Laura: That’s perfect. I have to look into that because I think that you guys are a great first step. Anyone listening to this, they understand the kind of thing, the kind of topics that you talk about and what you might be looking for and they can look there, you make it so easy and clear. I think that pitching to publications and sites like that, any place that’s looking for content, and everyone’s looking for content, I’m not. People pitched to me sometimes like, Hey, can I write a blog post for your site? I am like, no, that’s not. That’s not what this is but for most big sites that trade in content, that are like magazines, they are desperate for content. So if, people love when you write something for a known publication, one that your friends like and read, they’re really impressed. So if, you share something like, oh, yay. I’m so excited. This is up. It’s live and it’s on this site that I’ve always wanted to write for. I love these people. I love Robin, Kira and I’m so excited that they’ve published my piece and, will you share it? You get, you share it and you get people to share it and, it brings you this halo of authority and credibility. If you develop so much authority from putting your content out there from writing with authority. So, I think that is a great place to start building that visibility and flog it. You have a piece that comes out, put it everywhere, share it everywhere that you possibly can and get everyone to share it, and let them know how exciting it is for you, and tell them why you want them to share it and, give them swipe copy to share it and make it easy for them because you know, when somebody shares something from their friends, like a post and they do it, wordlessly they just slap it up there, press post. Nobody likes it. Nobody shares it. Nobody looks at it. You’ve got to give a reason why you like it and what it means. Or maybe you pull out something that you love about it and, in the caption or in the comment, in the post itself and so if you give people, swipe copy for that, they will use it and it makes it really easy for them to share your stuff, and post and then people see you everywhere and they say, oh my you’re killing it and, then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because they see you as killing it and then they want to work with you and, buy from you and then you are killing it. So that’s my advice. I think if you want to build a reputation, build a name for yourself in a brand, which is necessary. If you want to shift out of being a server, just solely a service entrepreneur. If you need to build a brand and a name for yourself, you want to do that. Start there.
Rob: So Laura, you have published content in some pretty big websites, not just recently, but I think over the last three or four years, business insider, fast company, and I’ve seen your stuff there was there, one of those that sort of was the big step forward. You know, the first article that just suddenly now you’ve got all the attention or now that you started making more money or more notoriety and what was it? How did you get it?
Laura: It was the first one that I did. It was for business insider and, the title was I make $950 an hour writing from my couch. Here’s my best advice if you want to work from home.
Rob: I remember that and we’ll link to it in the show notes. So, I remember that article. It’s Great.
Laura: Thank you. That was a milestone for me and I had help with, from Selena Sui. She and I are friends and, I did some work for her and, she helped me get into business insider. We just brainstormed a couple of topics and, I didn’t know what they would want. I still have trouble coming up with things that they would want to hear from me and she’s genius at it. So she helped me come up with that and we pitched it and, they wanted it. Pretty much just as, give them the bullet points and everything and, I’ve learned everything about pitching from her pretty much and my friend, Susie Moore, who’s also an expert at this. I’m great. So we submitted it, they published it and I had no idea what kind of effect it would have. It was exciting. I knew it would be exciting to have my name in a publication and my article, but I had no idea how much people would talk about it and, be excited about it and share it. That one just had all the magic ingredients, a big number and something about the format of the title just made people click on it and, forward it to like their niece who is just out of college. So, I got like over a thousand opt-ins on that first day that doesn’t usually happen. It was pretty amazing and that really helped build my list, obviously that’s a big number of opt-ins to get in a day. It got me hooked on doing more.
Kira: You mentioned leadership and that you didn’t see yourself as a leader because prior to creating your own group program. So what helped you work through that? Especially again, for all of us who might not see ourselves that way and we think we can’t do that new thing because we’re not quite holding space for others the way that everyone else seems to.
Laura: Yeah. I really did not like there’s so much talk about leadership and stepping into that leadership role that you’re meant to have being the leader. You’re meant to be that never rang true for me or appealed to me really, because I don’t even, if I have a dinner party, I don’t even like telling people when or where to sit. I’ve had a friend come up to me, my rehearsal dinner for my wedding. My friend came up to me. She’s like, do you want people to sit down? and, where would you like them to sit? I just don’t like that role. I don’t like. I never wanted to be a counselor. So, I didn’t think of myself in that way and I think for one thing, having my Italy retreat, which you guys and I have talked about before, and I started doing in 2016, doing that showed me people actually will sit there, and listen to me, and look to me for leadership and so that was kind of okay, just then do responding to that need. Okay, I’ll be a leader. You want me to be a leader? I will lead you and then when I recognized with my coach, Ron’s helped that I really loved doing quiet QnA’s and helping people live. I think it just knowing that’s what a group program was and that’s really what leading was, helped me become a leader and creating shrimp club. I learned by doing so creating shrimp club. I wasn’t like, okay, I’m now I’m going to lead. Let’s see who signs up for this and then understanding that they saw me that way, they reflected it back to me, you are a leader, thank you for being a mentor and, okay, I guess I’m actually good at that and it is something that I can do and I liked it. So.
Rob: It seems like one of the places where you own your leadership or step into that role for lack of a better word is in your emails and in your emails, I think stand out, maybe there are a few people who do really good emails. You’re definitely one of them, but what is it that you do when you sit down to write an email? How do you get the magic from your brain into your fingers or into the keyboard so that it’s engaging when people open them and it’s not just something that I can click through this one because I know Laura is going to mention from club, or I know she’s going to mention this. The thing that she’s always selling to me, your emails never come across like that. So tell us about your email writing process?
Laura: Thank you. So sometimes the magic doesn’t come right away. It doesn’t flow through my fingertips. I’ve always loved that idea of channeling the muse that it comes through your head and, then works its way through your fingertips and lots of keyboard, and that sometimes actually does happen when I know what I’m going to write about. I know the story I want to write and then sometimes I’ll sit there for like an hour, starting the email over and over, wondering what I want to talk about that day, that doesn’t usually happen when I know the call to action. When I know, I have to promote Inbox Hero today. I got to write another email for it. I will probably try to make that as short as possible and just give it a little twist, and then it usually turns into something longer just on its own, because the one thing that I’ll mention just back from getting my nails done, if I say something that’s rare, but just back from getting my nails done and then I’ll end up having something to say about getting my nails done and it turns into a whole story. Sometimes I’ll sit down and have a story to tell, and that’s usually where the magic really happens. I really have to write about the argument that I had last night with my husband about dinner, which kind of pasta we were having and him arguing for those short curly ones, which I hate, when I want long and windy and just [laughter].
Rob: I am with you Laura, long and winding beats macaroni type stuff every day. Yeah.
Laura: I knew who my friend is here. Sorry, Kira, we’re not going to talk pasta. We can talk politics, but not pasta. So just those mundane little moments in life that I find, I find so many of them noteworthy and worth putting down into an email. I think that’s where the magic happens and one benefit of, writing so frequently is that I can go deep on the small things. So I don’t have what I call writers blob rather than writer’s block. I think it’s more writers blob when you have too many things to say, and you don’t know where to start and you don’t know which one and, you think it has to be epic and, you don’t have that as much when you’re writing every other day, three days a week because you’ve already covered everything and now you’re looking for a little things where you can go deep and not make it too long also and, then connecting that to some sort of a lesson or thing to meaning in some way, they used to write emails and blog posts that were just a story with no real point. It was just so funny, and so that happened, write back and tell if it’s ever happened to you, which is okay sometimes. But I realize people respond more when there is some sort of meaning, when you arc it to meaning some kind of point take away or call to action if you have one handy that day, sometimes we don’t have a real call to action. Although, now it looks like because of this new apple privacy thing, changing how it going to be able to track our open rates as well. I think the new thing is going to be getting people to click on something in every email so that you can at least measure your click-throughs. So I think that’s going to be something that we’re all finding ways to do is like weave a story together with some kind of clip that something that they want to click on. That’s going to be the new, the new trick and challenge of writing emails, but that’s where the magic comes from, I think is writing in volume being prolific, the frequency and the ability to go deep on something really small, like mundane little quotidian moments.
Kira: So should Robin and I start writing three emails a week? Is that kind of like –
Rob: Nobody’s more mundane than me here. So let’s break in here and talk a little bit about some of the things that Laura has been talking about in the interview. First of all, I’m going to ask you, Brittany, what stood out to you? What just rings interesting or true, as you hear Laura talking about her business.
Brittany: Oh man. So much, I think, I first heard the word copywriting as an actual job, and started to stay in the industry around 2019 and Laura’s name of course floated to the top because she’s a name that you hear when you start looking at the copywriting industry and, she was just this mega figure, right? I loved her, and so what surprised me is, I was brand new and I was here’s this expert, I just sort of learned from, and I’m listening to this podcast and she has been an expert writer for a long time. She’s had a career in writing, but all of the things that I was so intrigued that she was doing, she was starting around that time and like you said, in the intro, it just shocks me how quickly things can change in this online industry and how exciting that is.
Rob: Yeah. She went from no team to decide, I don’t want a team. I don’t want any of that and I totally relate to that. In my life, before I came back to copywriting, I was in charge of a division at Hewlett Packard and ended up having to lay people off. I’ve got that always going on in the back of my head where I don’t want ever anybody to be reliant on me and, so I have total hesitancy to have a team and so I get that. I don’t want a team, but then sometimes to grow, to do the things we want to do in our business, it requires a team and so I love that she made that shift. But the thing that stood out to me, she’s talking about Sandra and this team that she’s building, that she’s not just bringing on employees or contractors. She’s really bringing in somebody, who’s acting like a partner, somebody who’s solving problems in her business and that’s the kind of team that I think really can help you grow and to make a difference. There’s one thing to bring in a VA and of course we should know our businesses are right for that. We should definitely do that but finding somebody who treats your business like it’s their business is I think a massive.
Laura: Yeah and it’s so interesting because I found that the same as I’ve heard in my team and I remember saying to you guys, a year or so ago, I don’t want a team. I don’t want to be a manager. I have said that so many times, I don’t want to hire a team. I don’t want to manage people. It’s not something I’m skilled at. It’s not something I’m good at and, now I have a team of one full-time employee. So myself and another person are on payroll and, then three other contractors and, I don’t manage a single person and it’s wonderful, and I have heard so many copywriters, express this, I don’t want to grow, I don’t want to hire a team. I’m not ready to hire a team and it may not be right for some people. But I do wonder if there’s this misunderstanding around what it means and for me, especially my three, they’re not my three contracts, the three contractors who work inside of the business, each one of those women own their own business and they are CEOs of their own business, and they tell me what days they have off. You know what I mean? They have these boundaries around their business and, I actually love that because they are like the boss in their specialty and in their field, and they get to bring that expertise to my business and, I don’t have to manage them. It’s really quite lovely and it’s not what I expected when I started growing my team.
Rob: I think, I love what you’ve done in your business and you’ve got people, who you know, take on that partnership role. They want to help you grow because they can grow and it helps you free up time for your own projects. Just what Laura is talking about. You know having, Sondra take on all of this other stuff that’s going on in her business means that now if she wants to, she can sit down and write a book this week, work on her book or do whatever and that’s so important. Not just for growing a business, but for enjoying the thing that we do.
Laura: Yeah. One of my students inside my program asked me, because I just started teaching a course this year for the first time. They really want to do copywriting business and have products. Do you need a team to do that? And I said, I did, maybe there are other people who don’t, I could not start creating education until the copywriter, the copywriting, client side of my business was a well-oiled machine and those clients were being served at maximum at high quality and I needed a team to free up my time to do that. Not everybody does, I Sure did.
Rob: Yeah. Teams. I’ve also changed my approach to, been hesitant. We have a team that is awesome. The things that they enable us to do in our business, the things that they take on, the cure and I can do different things. In fact, I doubt, Kira would be able to take a maternity leave if we didn’t have this team in place, there’s no way I could do everything that we do together without them to help out.
Laura: Yeah. Yeah. Because you’re building something bigger than you, and when it’s bigger than you, then you can step out of it. I’m doing this podcast on vacation. I am in folly beach, Charleston, South Carolina, and I have not worked all week and, my clients are still being served. My students are still being served because the business is bigger than me and that’s actually less stressful than I thought it would be.
Rob: Okay. So let’s talk about some other things, I don’t know that there’s a lot to discuss here, but one of the things that jumped out at me that when Laura was talking about how she increased the frequency of her emails, is that the advice she got three times your emails, you’re going to double yourselves and I saw a question about this just a few weeks ago in the copywriter club, Facebook group, people are like, how often should I mail my list? And, I don’t know that there’s a right number or wrong number. Some people mail every day, some people mail once a week. But the idea that if you depend on your list for money, for selling the thing that you do, mailing more is the way that you increase the money that’s coming in, and I just think that’s, it’s worth repeating, and Kira committed us to writing to our list three times a week, as we were talking, we’ll see if that actually happens or not. But, it’s something that maybe we should be doing just a little bit more often, not just in our business, but a lot of copywriters should be talking to their lists.
Laura: Yeah and she even said, Hey, when you email your list more frequently, expect your open rate to go down, and your unsubscribe rate to go up and, your revenue to go up and, who the heck cares about your unsubscribe rate? If there are more zeros in your bank account, and so far or so often we’re stressing, what’s my open rate. Did it go down? What’s apple doing? And there’re these changes and all of a sudden people unsubscribed and, if that’s affecting your revenue, then it’s sort of troubleshooting. But if it’s done, then keep doing what you’re doing, who cares about those numbers.
Rob: Exactly and if you’re doing it for your clients, if you’re helping your clients email their lists, lots of times we hear people who are in the middle of a launch. I’ve mailed my list five times this week. I can’t do it again and I guess the question is, why not? If they’re on their list because they want to hear from you, as long as you’re sharing something, that’s valuable. If you’re promoting a product that they need, we should be doing it until at least until the sales go away, until the reason, we’re communicating is done.
Kira: And one thing Laura does so well, I remember when I first joined her email list in her welcome sequence, I don’t remember which email it was and, I sound like a total stalker right now, but I remember in one of the first few, and it was clearly automated. Because it came in rapid succession, but it said, Hey, just to let you know, I sell things on my email list. If you were on my email list, you’re going to get sales emails and if you don’t want them, you can hop off now, and if you don’t want them later, you can hit an opt-out just for that promotion and she’s so good at that, giving people that opt out and every time she’s about to do a promotion, if you don’t want to hear about B-School, click this, great, we won’t talk to you about or whatever and, I think that she just gets that consent and always gives people a quick way out and, never pretend like she’s not doing anything but selling on her email and, I think that’s really great when it’s on the table, then everybody knows what they’re signing up for.
Rob: Yeah. Her emails are great. I every once in a while, I’ll go through my inbox and it’s like mass on subscribe, from 20 to 30 lists that I’m on and, you recollect, I think Laura’s might be the only list that I’ve never unsubscribed from. Her stories are so good and, maybe it’s because I like a kid of the eighties and I remember some of the stuff that she’s talking about in the clubs, in New York, those kinds of things, the stories all resonate with me. So maybe that’s the reason, but she’s such a good writer, such a good storyteller. Yeah. It’s, it’s an approach that’s worth emulating for the way that we all talk to our lists.
Laura: For sure and email launches are where it’s at. when was the last time you saw Laura Belgray do a webinar and, webinars are fine if you enjoy them. But I had a mini course sitting in my Kajabi account, that I had never even talked about once in my entire life that, I sent out one email and one PS to my email, two weeks ago, I made $5,000. Like, like email is where it’s at. You know what I mean? If you love doing webinars, if you love big launches, cool. Do it. You like all the tech and, you have all the support or you could just email your list weekly with just fun anecdotal thing, because until you have something to sell them, then sell them that thing and make money. I’ve clients who have made $60,000 on one email with no webinar, emailed to sales page, done, just because we wrote one email to a warm audience. why not?
Rob: I love it. Yeah. Okay. We’re doing more of that. We’re going to do a lot more of that. So one, a couple other things, Laura talked a lot about building authority. The things that she did is she started publishing with some of the big sites business insider was her real breakthrough. I think that’s really interesting. I’m not sure that it’s replicable for everybody, but it’s definitely something that more of us should be doing, sharing the things that we’re doing in our business and growing our authority, and I know you’ve done a lot to grow your authority in the last year, Brit, talk to us a little bit about what maybe what, what you’ve done and how it compares to what Laura’s doing in her business.
Brittany: Yeah. Laura had such a really beautiful setup in the sense that she did have this name that held some weight in the industry and she did have all of this experience as a writer, so that when she pitched, was it business insider, I think when she pitched them, she had this incredibly sexy article ready to go and, that is definitely something to aspire to. I definitely think, printed publications or at least online is, kind of next level, especially when that name is something that a lot of people know, but. There are so many visibility platforms that are at the same level of you in your business. I don’t think that sentence was English, but I think, you know what I mean? So for me, I can draw a direct line between podcasts. I have been on to clients. I have booked that is a direct line to revenue, and I started pitching podcasts really early, and I started pitching more entry-level podcasts and having conversations with people who maybe didn’t have these household names and multi six or seven figure businesses. But we were in similar places. Multi six or seven figure businesses, but we were in similar places in our business and could have similar conversations. And I always say, it’s almost like that game and I can never remember the name of it, where you start with the paper clip and then you try to trade that up to a pencil and then trade that up to a pen and then by the end of the day, you’ve got a car it’s not that people are stepping stones, but that each of these visibility opportunities become an opportunity to leverage for the next one. And even on our businesses podcast to pitch list, we have an entire list. It’s like pitch these people after you’ve been on this podcast, right? You’re just leveraging and I think that we always feel like in order to build authority, we have to have decades of expertise. And really it’s like go to the people who have the same expertise as you and build authority, build expertise, build experience with these opportunities. And the more people hear your name, the more weight your name holds. So just get your name out there.
Rob: Yeah. And the same approach. I mean, Laura, didn’t talk about this, but that same approach applies to clients. We leverage one not as good client to get the slightly better client. And when I say not as good, that’s not a moral judgment. Right. We’re talking like money or, or somebody that you want to work with, that kind of thing. But, but yeah, leveraging one to get to the next level, it’s a ladder, it’s a pyramid and you just need to walk up sets. And sometimes you can take two or three steps at a time. Like there are jumps that you make, but yeah, it’s applying that same principle to clients could be a way to get better clients.
Brittany: And I think one of the things she even mentioned was that she had helped picking up the topic to pitch because she didn’t really know what to talk about. And I think that’s a hangup for a lot of people is what do people want to hear from me? Everyone’s different, but like I’m a verbal processor. And so I just start talking and from talking, I learned what I believe. I learned what I think I learned like what is interesting. And so start having these lower state conversations and let the learning come from doing. And then when something becomes really interesting and people keep asking the same question about one thing, or you find other people, hitting you up in the DM’s and saying, oh it’s so fascinating when you said this. Well maybe that’s your topic to go pitch to Forbes or to the next podcast or like just start talking and see what happens. Now I’m saying that as an extrovert, the introverts are probably like, no thanks I’m good. But I think it’s okay to just start and see what happens with the confidence come from doing.
Rob: I think I’ll speak for the introverts. I think it works for us too. We might just have to talk a smaller groups or one-on-one as we work some of that stuff out.
Brittany: Or just to yourself, just mumble to yourself.
Rob: There you go. Okay. So what else stood out to you, Brittany? You listened?
Brittany: Oh man. Just so much. I just really love her perspective. One of the things that I thought was so interesting was when she said that she was raising her prices or doing things in her business to prevent someone from booking her. And I just thought, and I don’t think I would have this insight if I was in that situation, but maybe listeners can learn and hindsight can be 2020, but if we’re doing things in our business to actively prevent something from happening, like prevent us from getting work or getting business, then that might be a good sign that it’s time to do something different. I think it’s okay to burn out. I think it’s okay to move on to the next thing. I think it’s okay to say I’ve gained enough experience or skill and time in this to now do something else better or different. And I just, I don’t know. I kind of love that. She was like, I was raising my prices so much that I was hoping people wouldn’t book me and I was like, oh, that, that would be a good litmus test for whether you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing or not, you know?
Rob: Yeah. I love that idea. And to take it even a step farther, one thing that I’ve realized is I’ve, we’ve coached other copywriters, even in my own businesses, that procrastination is often avoidance of something that I don’t enjoy doing. And so if I’ve taken on a client and it’s not a great fit, maybe I took it for the money or maybe there’s some other thing going on. And I find myself avoiding the work, if I’m honest with myself, it’s because I don’t want to do the work and not because I’m terrible at getting started. And so that same principle, I think maybe is an indicator that, if we’re procrastinating because that. We’re avoiding the work, because something else is going on then maybe we’re doing the wrong work or we’re working with the wrong clients or we’re not charging enough to justify our time or there’s something going on there that’s causing us to procrastinate.
Brittany: Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of shooting in an entrepreneur’s brains, especially copywriters with like what we should be doing, the kind of business we should have. And I love that Laura, kind of gave herself the time to say, what do I actually want to be doing in the business? And then what could that look like in a way that I can do it so uniquely? And I think that that’s something you and Kira do so well inside of Think Tank. That was something, that was a conversation I had with my husband after our very first meeting was Rob and Kira don’t have a mold that they want me to fit into. They’re genuinely curious about who I am, what I want out of my business, what I’m good at. And they want to help me figure out whatever that unique business model looks like. There is no mold or even three molds. Do you have A, B and C? And I think that you guys do that so well, what Laura’s coach did for her, of just helping people figure out what kind of business they are so uniquely suited to succeed in and actually enjoy doing.
Rob: Yeah. I’m glad that you, I mean, I’m not sure that I’ve really thought about our approach, but there is no right answer. You know, in fact a lot of the questions even when we sit down and coach people, people are saying, what should I do? And as I’ve talked through the options, because there really isn’t always a right answer. Oftentimes it’s a choice between, good and better or how do you want to spend your time? And what does this provide for in the future? What does this lead you to, if you choose this route instead of this route, that kind of thing.
Brittany: Yeah. Yeah. And you all are great at seeing the 50 options that could all be good, right. Rather than like it’s this or this and I’ve got nothing else. And I think having that coach or mentorship of someone who you really trust and respect and who’s willing to listen and learn you is invaluable.
Rob: That’s good. Okay. One last thought from this half of the interview, before we go back, we argued a little bit about what’s the best pasta, Brittany, are you a curly pasta or a straight pasta person?
Brittany: I really struggle with this because I don’t eat a ton of pasta, but like if my daughter had some curly pasta in front of her, I’d probably pick at it. So I kind of want to say curly, but I also really want you to like me and I want to be your friend. And so I want to say straight so I can be on your side.
Rob: You’re going both ways. You’re in all pasta for every occasion.
Brittany: D all of the above. Is it a carb then, yes.
Brittany: Let’s head back into the interview. Laura has some really good conversations about what it looks like to change the frequency of her emails, how her business has grown and what she’s working on next. I’m excited to hear more. I’m just thinking more about the sales and what you mentioned about doubling your income that particular month when you went from one email a week to three emails a week. And so would you recommend that to copywriters across the board as far as you want to make more money, go to three days a week, or if not, why not five days a week or seven days a week, if it makes that big of a difference, do you think that will work for most service providers who may not have courses yet or group programs? Is that a good move to make?
Laura: I think that if you have something to sell anything to any kind of thing to sell or want to stay top of mind and have something to offer then yes, I think you should up your frequency from whatever it is to whatever is more than that and see what happens. I don’t think, I think committing to every day is tough unless you do that and find that you really love doing it. I would not. If you were going to go daily, I would not suggest announcing this is now a daily newsletter. I remember, I did an experiment once. It was, I think it was back in 2014 of saying, I’m going to blog every day, welcome to my daily blog. And I said, it’s not for the long haul, but for as long as I possibly can. And I remember Mastin Kipp who had a site called the daily love at the time, wrote to me and said, daily, you are out of your mind. That was from someone who knew. And I enjoyed it. It was a fun experiment, but I couldn’t really sustain it. It was a lot, especially blog posts. And then I was writing an email to go with each one of those blog posts. So sure try it as an experiment, don’t make a big announcement of it. See what happens when you write every day, I can tell you some things that will be discouraging and you shouldn’t get discouraged by them. One is that open rates will go down because people can’t, it’s hard for people to keep up with everyday. Some true fans will open it every day, but open rates will go down and unsubscribes will go up. But I think it’s a worthy trade-off for sales going up. I’ll take that any day.
Brittany: Rob we’re announcing it. We’re doing it three days a week.
Rob: And I guess the nice side of the Apple changes is that we won’t actually know if our open rates go down because everything’s going to go down, right?
Laura: No effect on your ego. And you know what, also I read that it’s going to be like 50%, that that affects about 50% of our opens that we won’t, we might not see it, or 50% of them are Apple users, maybe a iPhone users, but we’ll still have a measure. We’ll still have a new, we’ll have a new baseline. It’ll be way lower but I think you can still measure based on that new baseline people who are not, who have not opted out of being tracked. So I, and if anybody who says open rates don’t matter anymore because they’re not being tracked. Right because you can’t track them. Right. They don’t understand that the whole goal is always going to be to get people, to open your email and then get them to click no matter, whether it’s tracked or not. It’s like thinking that your weight doesn’t matter anymore, if you stop getting on the scale. I mean, maybe it doesn’t.
Rob: Wait, are you telling me that’s not true?
Laura: Yeah. You’re off the hook. Someone took away your scale, you just eat a Sundae, every five minutes because it doesn’t matter anymore. So I don’t want to get body negative here.
Rob: We won’t body shame, but there’s definitely a health issue there that is probably we’re thinking about. Right. So yeah.
Laura: We were thinking about whether or not you have a scale. So it’s the same deal with opens, right? You still need people to get your emails open. You still need to work on those subject lines. It’s not going to be as easy to test them, maybe AB test won’t work as well, but you still got to put some thought into that and to making it intriguing and fun and got to step back and look at it and say would I opened this. So don’t think that opens are going away, that that’s not important anymore.
Rob: So Laura, earlier you shared, what you did not want your day to look like, you didn’t the client time or whatever. I’m curious. What did the visual for the perfect day is for you or how that compares to how you spend your time today? When you sit down to write an email, is it a three-hour ordeal? Are you spending time brainstorming? Like what does that day look like.
Laura: When I’m not in the middle of a launch? Like when I’m not, I’m either doing my own launch or an affiliate launch, which I do a lot of. And I, on a day when I don’t have any interviews or Shrimp club. Shrimp club, our calls are twice a month on Tuesdays. So say a different week from that. It’s pretty open, I love a calendar day that has enough, no appointments on it. And I will usually, I rarely write my emails ahead of time, once in a while I do, and I will surprise Sandra and send her what we call the check-in send. So I send myself a test of the email and then send it to her and I just write check-in send, and she will check it over, look for typos, et cetera, things that maybe I didn’t mean to say that way, she’d be like, is this what you meant? So give it a good look over and then set it up to send. So once in a while, I’ll surprise her and send it to her on a Tuesday when it’s going to be sent out on a Wednesday. But usually she checks in with me at some point late morning, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Those are my usual email days and she’ll say, were you planning to send an email today? And I will say, oh yes, thank you I was. And then I’ll usually sit down and write that email, or maybe I’ll be in the middle of writing the email. But so the day usually starts with me writing in 750 words.com. That’s how I try to start every day. Even if I have other things on my mind that I want to write and want to sit down and get to, I try to make that the first thing that I do, I’ve given up on myself as far as like not checking my email first thing in the morning or not looking at Instagram, et cetera. Maybe I can just reset at some point, cause I was good about that for like a month. But the first thing I do on my laptop will be open up 750 words and write my 750 words. And it’s not has nothing to do with anything. It’s almost always unusable. It’s just brain dump, journaling, whatever, none of it matters, but I get out 750 words and I feel good about myself no matter what happens the rest of the day. And then on an email day, I’ll write an email. They’re usually business things to move along and respond to and figure out and people to respond to, messages in my inbox that I should probably let Sandra and her team look at it instead of me, but I can’t help myself. So responding to replies to my emails, I can’t help myself. I love doing that. I love looking at those and that’s, I mean that’s the thrust of my day and that if I’m working on it some extra project or doing a launch, then I probably am putting a lot more thought into the emails and probably emailing every day that week, if it’s in the middle of the launch and looking in the big Google doc of all our emails that Sandra puts them all into a Google doc for me. So I can see them kind of in order and mess around with the order of them. So I’ll spend a lot of time fussing with that, so that’s a normal during a normal time right now I’m working on a book. And so I’d say it’s bringing all my old demons back to visit me. Demons being procrastination and letting something hang over my head and hangover every waking moment, like I should be working on my book. So that kind of twists the whole day. Like usually I’ll end up opening up a chapter that I’m frustrated with and playing around with that. It takes up a lot of my, if not a lot of my time, a lot of my mental bandwidth. So that changes things. In the past year it’s changed things a lot, but that’s what it looks like.
Brittany: I want to hear more about the book for sure. But before we talk about the book, how do you approach your business growth at this point? Because you have these different evergreen products, you have courses, you have group programs now, a book, are you kind of, as you’re thinking about the future, are you thinking about where there could be holes? Are you thinking about an extension model or the customer journey? What else they need all your fans need after they take this course? Or is it just kind of taking it day by day, offer by offer?
Laura: Yeah. I’m a little bit torn between two different philosophies and one of them is focus on your one thing and sell it and focus your whole year around, the whole year around selling that thing. People who have one signature program and it’s a big one usually and usually a launch based thing. So I’m torn between that and the idea of always creating new offers for your biggest fans, for the people who want them. And I think that the answer for me probably lies in creating more things for the people who keep buying and they’re out of things to buy, like they’ve bought the mini courses they’ve bought in box hero. They’ve bought launch hero. Now when I launch it, they’re like, can we get the bonus too? That you’re giving other people the answer is usually no, because they got theirs, this is for this round. So I think there’s, I think there’s demand for more things. I just haven’t figured out what those are yet. And that’s a one that’s one place where I really fall short is just acting on like, oh, let me just do it fast, slap it up there, like put something together or just an understanding intuitively people want this course and I could teach it. I default to, I feel like I’ve said everything about that, or I feel like that would overlap too much with this. So I get a little perfectionist when it comes to creating new things. And I would like to, I would like to change that.
Rob: Yeah. I want to know more about the book. I’ve seen some of the things that you’ve shared with your list. One email that was particularly memorable to me was one where you had shared this idea of writing the book with a couple of your friends and you had, I think one who was supportive and one who was very unsupportive if I’m remembering it. Right. But I’m really curious, I’ve kind of written a book I’ve got two or three ideas of other books that are sort of in process.
Kira: What Rob you’ve written a book, what do you mean kind of written a book?
Rob: I don’t count that. Okay. We don’t count that. So right.
Laura: You’re sounding like me right now.
Rob: I think the process of writing a book is just really interesting. And how others impact that process. We just talk a little bit about why you decided to write a book, what you’re doing to move the process along ever so slowly or sometimes quickly, and what the plan for that is.
Laura: Yeah. So I’m writing a different book than you would expect me to write. I think most people in our world would expect that I’m going to write a book on copywriting or on marketing or something on mindset, something instructional, and rather than do that. And which would probably make life way easier for me, I would give me a clear path. Here’s what this book is, everybody on my list will want it, blah, blah, blah. Instead of going that route, I’m making life difficult for myself and writing a book of essays. It’s memoir like narrative non-fiction and what it’s about, the theme of it keeps changing. And my editor who acquired the book for Hachette, she is unsatisfied so far with the theme. She’s like, we need a clear theme here. What is this about? Why is this essay in here? What is this? This one’s not even an essay. It’s just a story that sort of goes nowhere. I mean, she’s being tough on it. And I know she needs to be, but it’s also dispiriting because my ego is fragile and it requires a lot of, oh my God, you’re such an amazing writer. Oh, I would read this all day. And now she’s looking at it through the critical eyes of somebody who doesn’t know me and isn’t going to read the book just because they love me and want to hear my stories about my life. So it’s tough. The process is tough. It was easy in a way when I was just writing down whatever I wanted to write. So for a couple of years, I’m like, okay, I don’t know what this is yet, but that will come. That will come out of it. And I’m just going to write all the stories that I ever tell, all the stories that my friends remember that they’re like, tell that story or that I think people need to know about me or just things that I find that are memorable. Like everything in my memory basically went into this book. So I’ve got, I don’t know, a hundred something, maybe 150,000 words of memoir. If I wanted to give it to my niece and nephew one day and say here’s what your dirty aunt Laura did in her twenties. I could do that, but it’s not for that audience. It’s for an audience of people who want meaning and it needs to hold together. So that was easy putting all that stuff down. And it was fun. It was like, okay, today I’m just writing about the time after college, when I didn’t have a job. And I was trying to be a bartender, that stuff was fun to write. Cause I remember a lot about it now is the really tough part. And that’s why the process is slow, slow at this point, because it’s me being like, what is this about? And I think once I finally find that it’ll be a lot easier, but that part is tough for me. So if I were just writing, like paid to be you the book, I would, I think I would know what to write and maybe I should have tried for that, but I wanted to go with a more literary thing. And so that’s what I’m going for. And that’s what I decided to write it because I always wanted to write a book. I always wanted to have a book to my name, like to be able to say, I’m an author, you know how it is when you’re a copywriter and you tell people I’m a writer and they say, oh, what did you write? Anything I’d know. And if you’re like, well, do you read the back of the supplements bottle? GNC that was one of mine. So it’s something that you always want to be able to say, if you fancy yourself a writer and that’s your real love, you want to be able to say, yeah I’m an author. You know, my book at Barnes and Noble like, oh, there it is on the front table. That would be a dream. So I’m following that dream right now.
Kira: What surprised you the most about this process other than what you shared already? That just how hard it is to kind of figure out what ties it all together. What else has surprised you about the process of writing and publishing a book?
Laura: Well I think everything because I don’t understand the process yet. I’m such a rookie. My editor asked me to send a couple of chapters that I liked so she could see it was going in the right direction. And I put together everything that I written that I had thought I had polished. Like I had submitted it to the, what I call the pod, which is a group of writers that I work with. We all submit our work into a Google folder and read each other’s work and give positive feedback on it. We don’t really workshop. It’s not like I would change this or change that, but having passed it through there, I felt good about it. So I gave her everything I had worked on in that way. And the book is in the contract, the book is contractually supposed to be 70,000 words. I thought I had just handed her a bunch of like a few chapters of that. It turns out that I gave her 80,000 words of my starter chapters. And so she’s totally flummoxed, she keeps referring to it as my manuscript. I’m like, that’s not my manuscript. That’s just a bunch of sample chapters I sent you so you could see if it was going in the right direction. And then I would write the manuscript. So it’s, I think I’m surprised by how little I know really. And I think the expectations on the writer to understand the process already, I don’t think that an editor or publisher taking on a new writer is thinking, “this is a new writer. I have to do special things to guide them through it.” I think that they trust that you know how to write a book, which I get, it turns out I don’t. So I’m surprised by how little I know about writing a book. I think that’s the biggest surprise.
Rob: Yeah. That’s an interesting takeaway because you’ve written everything but a book, almost entirely. And so to understand that it’s that different from everything else is really interesting.
Rob: So, okay. Aside from the book, Laura, what’s next for you? What’s the next Hero course or what else is coming in your business?
Laura: I am not sure. I have been giving myself the grace of, let me just get through this book, let me write this book and sell what I already have in the pipeline and sell it again. But I am toying with maybe some kind of a membership, I think a light one. I… One thing that scares me off of those, is how much content you need to constantly create and the idea of retention or attrition and that kind of, I guess, constant battle to keep people, it feels desperate to me. And so I don’t really relish the idea of incorporating more desperation to my life, but maybe I could approach it differently. So that’s all to say, maybe a membership, something where I do like a live call every month or something like that. And I think that when this… I want to see what doing this book brings up, what people want, what kind of doors it opens. And it… Maybe it’s something more around storytelling. So I have a course called StoryHero, which is inside InboxHero, and I loved doing that. I love talking about storytelling. So I think I’m going to learn a lot more about it as I go through this and maybe I can incorporate that into… Maybe I beef up StoryHero, or make that StoryHero part two or something like that.
Rob: And going back to Italy, what’s the timeline on doing that? I know I missed the chance to go with your dad as we joke about first episode, but there’s still a chance to go with you possibly. So yeah. What are you doing with that?
Laura: Poor dad tried so hard to get invited to that retreat and it was never going to happen. So I haven’t talked to Bianca about it. She was my partner for it. She has a company called Italian Fix, and she’s been focused on getting things back up and running and she started another business during the pandemic. I mean, what heartbreak for someone who works in the travel industry and had to give refunds. And luckily, I had not planned on doing a retreat in 2020. That was the year I was taking off anyway. Otherwise, we would’ve been, we would’ve been stuck facing that together and I would have had to, I don’t know, deal with all the refunds or whatever else you had to do. So except, I think I’ll have to talk to her and see if she wants to do it again. It’s hard to imagine doing it with anyone else or with a better partner. She was incredible at running it and taking off my plate, all the things that I would never want to do. Arranging things, I mean, I’m not in the hospitality business and I don’t look to be. So, used to someone else sets it up and I show up and teach. I would be excited to do it. And maybe 2021, 2022, if not that. But I loved teaching in Italy. I think it was really… It was fun for me and gave people a great chance to say, “Oh, look at this gift that I’m giving myself.” Like, you know how people in the online space love to show off luxury, or retreats, or things that they are… Gifts that they are giving themselves like a weekend away, investing in themselves. So it gave them a chance. It was a nice photo op for that and also they learned a lot and have a great chance to get to know all these people in a room. Have them learn from me and me learn from them. So I would like to do it again.
Brittany: Let’s see if this question comes out correctly. So you are a mentor in the copywriting space and an icon in the copywriting space and so many copywriters admire your work and pay close attention to you. And then you’ve also, you’ve worked closely with them now in coaching programs, and so you have observed the space. I’m just curious, what is currently driving you crazy about the copywriting space or if we want to go bigger marketing, or if we want to go really specific, what’s driving you crazy about copywriters today? What just kind of drives you nuts?
Laura: I think I see a lot of copywriters writing copy from copy they’ve seen. It’s just a lot of copying. And you know when you watch a TV show and you can tell that the writers wrote it by watching too many TV shows? Like it’s not written in front of the heart, it’s not written from life or anything they know or have observed? It’s from watching TV so it’s just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow and it doesn’t ring true and it feels just stupid. Like those moments where someone’s like, “Hey sis, I got your favorite chocolate chip.” It just… It’s like, who says that? Nobody says that in real life. And I feel like a lot of copy turns out that way. It is based on other people’s copy and it doesn’t ring true. It feels [army ashy 01:20:36] like just Xerox. And so I think that’s what drives me nuts. Is that there are not… A lot of people are not really learning to write and they’re not… It’s not coming from a place of understanding their customer, customer’s needs or what people need to hear in order to say, yes. It’s based on what they’ve seen a lot of and they just assume that works. So that’s what drives me nuts, is just everybody sounding the same and making assumptions based on what other people have written.
Brittany: And maybe as a follow up to that, what do you see as the future of copywriting and what are the changes you’ve seen? Any predictions you have as far as how the space is changing?
Laura: Huh. I think that it might… That the wave of sassy newness maybe has calmed down a bit and…
Rob: Oh my goodness!
Laura: Yeah, it’s just like hollow sassiness. It doesn’t feel right to anyone. And I think that that’s calmed down a little bit, maybe because the premiere, like voices who were seen as super sassy, maybe they’ve faded out or haven’t been as, yeah, just haven’t been as prominent. So I think, I think there might be a little bit of a swing too. Not more stuffy, but maybe more… You know what? I’m totally making this up. I don’t know if this is going to happen, but I feel like maybe a little bit more literary and formal, not unconfrontational but less, yeah, with less forced sass. And I think that might be reflected a little bit in the shift from, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, I’ve noticed a big shift from fonts from San serif fonts to Serif fonts, which are a little bit more old fashioned and formal. I did that myself. I was like, I want to Serif font, I want this to look like… My site to look like New York magazine in 1980 or now. They used the Serif and I’ve seen a lot of people swing that way. And I feel like it reflects a shift in tone a little bit.
Rob: Yeah. I like that. In addition to a shift in tone, maybe it feels a little more real because I think that’s, what’s wrong with some of the, “Hey,” this sassiness of the, “Hey girl,” stuff or on the marketing borough side, right. It just doesn’t feel real and I think maybe we’re moving in… Maybe we’re making a shift to things that are little bit more authentic and a little bit more real. At least I hope we are.
Laura: I hope so. Though, the bro stuff, the broatry, is just awful. I really hope that that goes away. I understand the appeal and the benefit of all that white space on the page of spacing things out, one line at a time. But first of all, vary it up a little bit. Put a couple of lines together in a paragraph, and then you write your single line like that one line space, one line space, one line space. And then someone sent me that like a post about broatry and it pointed out patterns that I hadn’t really registered, but had noticed just the self aggrandizement little story that it starts with either about something you thought you couldn’t do, but then it turns out you were great at, or the one trick that a mentor… A guy sitting on the steps of a gas station taught you, or how nobody was helping the lady across the street so I stepped up and I helped her and she taught me a valuable lesson as we were crossing the street, like that kind of sh*t has got to go.
Rob: I got to hang out at more gas stations I guess because I missed that lesson.
Laura: Me too.
Rob: Laura, thank you for spending an hour with us. This is awesome getting caught back up and hopefully, we get an opportunity to hang out with you again in real life. But yeah, thanks for what you’ve shared. You’ve got a lot of stuff that you share. Obviously, we want to get people on your list. If they’re not already on your list. Where should they go to connect with you and just fill their lives with book updates, InboxHero, and all of the other things.
Laura: Yeah. Well please come by talkingshrimp.com and take a look around. You’ll find freebies there. If you want to go straight to a great freebie for any copywriter who works in email, which should be everybody but, is talkingshrimp.com/subjectlines. And that’s my list of my top, most open subject lines. 33 of my most open subject lines and for that [Tanks and Why 01:25:28], and that’s an ever popular freebie and I highly recommend it. I sometimes go back and revisit it. This is good. I also have ‘Five Secrets To Non Sucky Copy’, which is a great place to start. Those are all on my site and then come find me over at Instagram. That’s my most… I’d say that the social place where I am most and that’s @talkingshrimpNYC is my handle.
Rob: And coming to a Barnes and Noble near you at some point in the coming future…
Laura: Tough Titties! By Laura Belgray.
Brittany: All right. Well, we appreciate it, Laura.
Laura: Thank you so much for having me.
Rob: So that’s the end of our interview with Laura Belgray. Before we go, let’s touch on a couple more things as we like to do. I know we’ve talked about morning rituals on the podcast before with a lot of copywriters, maybe when we interviewed you on the podcast, Brittany, I don’t know if we talked about whether you have a morning ritual or not, but I love Laura’s ritual of just getting up to write, right? She’s not doing the 5:00 AM thing, she’s not doing exercise but every day she writes something and the 750 words app that she’s using, that site that she’s using it, she’s just writing to write it. There’s no purpose. It’s just getting the words flowing from brain to fingers and this is… As I heard Laura talking about that, I’m like, I need to do this more. I wite but I just need to just get that flow going more often than what I do. So I love that idea and it’s something I think I’m going to start doing in my own morning ritual.
Brittany: Yeah. I mean, anytime you can just kind of get like flex that creativity muscle. I mean, I remember when I first… I heard her talk about, is it 750 words or something like that?
Rob: Yeah. 750words.com I think is what it’s called.
Brittany: I heard her talk about that probably three years ago and I was like, all right, I’m going to do that. If that’s what you got to do to be a writer, I’m super into it, reading and writing. So I started reading all the time and I would wake up every morning and when I would sit down to work, I would do that. And I’m a work at home mom and my husband and I share childcare responsibilities, but my time is also really limited and I would spend like 30 minutes writing and then be like, crap. I really needed that 30 minutes to work and so I stopped doing it. But then I heard somebody say, as a copywriter, you’re pretty much writing every day. Just make sure you’re writing something creative. Whether it’s like your own email or something for a client. And that made me feel a lot better, I was like, “Okay, it’s really good to be writing every day and flexing that creativity muscle and if you can sit down and write three pages in the morning, awesome. That’s so great. And if you can’t, you’re probably going to do it in some other capacity. And so just make sure that that’s a part of your routine and keep practicing and flexing that muscle. Because I’ll tell you, I switched to copy chiefing awhile ago in our business and there are times when I sit down to write copy and it is rough. So I am definitely getting back in the habit of writing my own emails and social posts and content and… You need to be in the habit of it if you’re going to be a writer.
Rob: Yeah. I think there’s something about just letting you be creative to be creative, with no business objective. You want to write a poem, write a poem. It does not have to be published anywhere, it doesn’t have to be shared anywhere. It’s just your thoughts. If you want to write an observation of what the morning feels like or what the… There’s just so many ways that we can express our creativity and I think too often we’d go all in on business and, and the best copy crosses a line somewhere. It’s both poetic and serves the interests of our clients and it’s the most interesting to read.
Brittany: Yeah. I love that. Just writing without boundaries. You’re not writing an email to a client where you have to worry about tone and you’re just writing without boundaries and letting your sh***y first draft either be the sh***y first draft and it turns into something or it never turns into anything and it was just your practice and that’s good enough.
Rob: Yeah. Okay. What else stood out to you Brett from the last half of this interview?
Brittany: Oh man. I mean everything. How, like… How great is she? I just… Laura speaks to my lazy human heart. I could nap all day. I love just sitting on the couch and binging TV I’m not one of those. I go to the gym and then I run errands. I love just napping. And Laura, has always done such a good job, never feeding us the lie of like, ‘I’ve made a million dollars doing nothing,’ right? I made money while I slept and I think she can very truthfully say that now because of the products that she has and consistently sells. But she never talks about getting rich, doing nothing. She talks about making money, being who you are, doing what you love and I think that’s really, really cool and I wish more people… That’s a sellable message, right? Nobody believes that we can make money doing nothing. In this influencer world, we want to think that, “Okay, we can take a picture and get a sponsor, $30,000 posts.’ And that’s just not real life and she’s never fed into that. She doesn’t say I make money by laying on my couch. She says, ‘I make money while I’m on my couch, because that’s who I am. That’s what I like to do.’ And I just, yeah. I love that message.
Rob: Yeah. I think, I agree. Laura obviously works really hard. She’s put together courses, she’s done some amazing promotions, obviously she’s spending time now writing a book. So just the idea that… Yeah, I agree. You can’t make money doing nothing, but you can make money and sometimes you can make a lot of money being true to who you are to the rhythms that dictate your life to the kinds of products that interest you, that you want to create. She’s had some amazing experiences and people can go back and listen to that first episode from when we very first started the podcast where she talked about her experience in TV and some of the stuff that she used to do in order to build her skillset so that then she can share this stuff. So I think that’s dead on a great observation. To me, I mean, one of the things that Laura said, she started talking about some of the things that drive her nuts about marketing today, copywriting. I’m curious, Brittany, what…? Because I know you’ve had some thoughts about this. I’ve shared some thoughts, but what drives you nuts about copywriting and marketing and what’s going on in our world today?
Brittany: Oh, geez. Let me set up my soapbox and stand on it with Laura. It’s both this, there’s a negative and a positive to it, right? Because we can talk about what doesn’t work or what we’re seeing that just needs to die, a slow, painful death. But also the thing that she’s talking about, like not doing that, frees us up so much. So she was saying that it really drives her nuts, copywriters copying copy, right? And it’s… We kind of all get this homogenous voice, most often it’s a millennial white woman. That is the voice of the crowd, right? When we’re all copying copy at this like, “Hey girl.” And I mean, shoot, when I first started, I had that millennial white woman voice, which I still do because I am one. But there’s so much of, I see somebody else doing this and I just can’t be good enough on my own or what I have to offer isn’t interesting enough or because I’m not seeing other people talk like me, I have to talk like them or I have to write like them. And it’s… We’re looking for the evidence that says that who I am is interesting enough, and how I write is good enough, and how I write is something other people want to read. I mean, the evidence comes when you start putting it out there and people start responding to it. And the thing that’s so interesting to me is we copy these trends, whether it’s in marketing or copywriting based on frequency, not any data, right? So, okay, all of these people are… Man, I’m trying to think of an example like, “Oh, this is something that I absolutely hate.” So if you… If there’s like an opt-in or a pop-up where the call to action is either like, “Yes, give me this freebie now.” And then underneath, “No, I don’t like free things.” It’s just something super–
Rob: No, I’m a horrible person and make really bad decisions and yeah.
Brittany: Yes. And it’s so shaming, and so rude, and snarky and is there any evidence? I mean, this is just totally random. It was the first thing that popped in my head, but do we have any evidence that that increases conversion? Or are we just doing it because we saw some other marketer do it and the industry is changing big time. I know you guys know this cause you’re just in it. I see this so much with my launches. All of the marketing tricks that we learn from Cialdini and Ogilvy, that all have a foundation in persuasion psychology, but that we have used to such an extreme, they are not working. They’re not working as effectively, they’re not working as frequently. Our audiences are smarter and we see a countdown timer and I mean, I see this all the time in user testing, right? Like we’ll run user testing on a sales page and somebody will look at a countdown timer and be like, ‘Hmm, really? Or are you just trying to pressure me to buy?’ And this is just a pedestrian or they’ll look at social proof and be like, ‘Did you pay this person?’ It’s… People are just… They’re skeptical and they’re smarter and so when we just keep like repeating the things that we see without any data, that’s a slippery slope and you also don’t get to just show up as your cool, weird, unique, like freak flag self, which somebody else’s freak, flag matches yours. So you should fly it.
Rob: Yeah. It’s interesting. There’s this thing going on where people are being very critical of marketing, some of those marketing tactics, but… Which is okay, because we should be talking about things that don’t work, but people sort of jump on the bandwagon with the criticism and it’s almost like the same bandwagon effect goes in the opposite direction. Now everybody is talking about how horrible marketing is and it’s like, okay, everybody, it’s like we swing from one extreme to the other and there’s this middle space where we can actually help people with the stuff that we do, with the products that we sell, with the services that we offer and make a difference in people’s lives. And you don’t have to go to either extreme. You don’t have to be totally critical of everything marketing or on the other side, that boss babe marketing bro type, that’s all in on manipulation and whatever. It’s like, I’m… It’s just, there’s a space in the middle that I don’t think very many people are trying to own here and we just swing from one side to the other as to what we should be talking about or what we should do.
Brittany: Yeah. And Antibro marketing is the new bro marketing. It’s just… And that’s… And I think that that is a little bit of what Laura was talking about of just this copying a copy. Somebody else said this and the other thing was hot last year, but now this is the new hot thing. And what if we just actually thought about, what do we want to say? What do our people want to hear? What unique perspective do I have? What conversation belongs here? What things can we look at critically and how do we do it? Well in alignment with our values, or our voice, or our perspective, our personality, our offer, our brand, all of these things and what do we not need to be taking into the next generation with us? But just copying ain’t it.
Rob: I agree 100%. Okay. We want to thank Laura Belgray for joining us on the podcast today. If you want to hear our first interview with Laura, so you can see how much her business has changed over the past three years, you can find it on our website. It’s episode 15. Of course you can also find it on apple podcast and all of the other places where you find podcasts. And like she mentioned, you can find everything else that she does at talkingshrimp.com.
Brittany: This is the end of this week’s amazing episode of the Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. The ultra was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Muntner. And if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit apple podcast to leave your review of the show and feel free to tell Rob your favorite pasta. And if you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and finally achieve your goals, visit copywriterthinktank.com. As a current member of that group, I will tell you it is worth every penny and if you want to know more, feel free to DM me and I will tell you how obsessed I am with [Rabiera 01:38:04]. In fact, I’m thinking of getting their faces on a shirt. So thank you for listening. We will see you next week. I
Rob: I want to thank Brittany for joining me. Thanks Britt. And when you get that shirt, I think I might need to approve the photo there or whatever that looks like.
We’ll see, we’ll see.