TCC Podcast #383: The Non-Negotiables with Joanna Wiebe - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #383: The Non-Negotiables with Joanna Wiebe

Success in business isn’t easy. But finding success requires you to do things you may not love—like creating relationships with potential customers daily, working on your business (not your client’s) every day, or even going all in on a daily writing habit. In the 383rd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira and Rob spoke with copyhackers Joanna Wiebe who says these (and several other daily activities) are her non-negotiables. They happen every day—no matter what. If creating your own daily non-negotiable is all you get out of this episode, it will be well worth your time, but there is so much more. So check it out…

Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.

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Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh: It’s been more than seven years since we last chatted with today’s guest on the podcast. In the meantime, she just keeps growing her business. This time around we asked her about the ins and outs of working with family members, building authority, and doing what she calls the daily non-negotiables.

Hi, I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of The Copywriter Club. And on today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira Hug, and I interviewed copywriter and founder of CopyHackers Joanna Wiebe.

Many of you know that Kira and I met in one of Jo’s programs. So we owe a lot to her. But just as importantly, Joanna is one of those online personalities who is just plain generous with her help and advice. And that’s likely a big part of why she’s been so successful.

As usual, we think you’re going to want to stick around for this one.

But first, this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is brought to you by The Copywriter Underground. I’ve told you about the benefits you get as a member. We’ve been working hard on how to make The Underground even more useful and helpful to the copywriters and content writers who are members… if you listened to last week’s episode with Csaba Borzasi, you heard him mention the scorecard he uses to close 100% of his prospects on sales calls. We didn’t have a lot of time to discuss what the scorecard includes or how he uses it, but Csaba agreed to share all of that with the members of The Copywriter Underground. That presentation happens later this week and will be available in the Underground for a limited time. If you’d like to learn how to close 100% of your prospects on sales calls—by the way, that’s not a guarantee, but you will see how Csaba does it—you need to be IN the copywriter underground, which you can do by visiting And Csaba’s presentation isn’t the only upcoming exclusive we’ll be adding in the underground. We’ll have more to tell you about in the coming weeks.

Now to our interview with Jo…

Kira Hug: All right, I’m gonna kick this off. You know, we’re kicking off 2024, feeling mostly good so far, right? But when we look back at 2023, it’s hard to not avoid the mammoth changes that took place in the writing space and the impact on the writers that we all know, and how difficult it was for many writers. Not all writers, some writers had great years, but for many, they struggled. And so, I would love to hear from you and your perspective on just like what are these shifts that you saw and what is working today that we should pay attention to in the writers that are more successful?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah.

Rob Marsh: That’ll only take an hour to answer.

Kira Hug: I can’t ask that in the last 10 minutes.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, we’ll just let you go for an hour. We’ll end the episode and we’ll just have you come back another time for everybody else’s questions.

Kira Hug: We have you for the next four hours, right?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I want to hear what y’all have to say about this too. I can say my take. I know 2023 started off super scary for everybody, right? I mean, 2022, November, December was when people started flipping because of chat GPT. What was so funny, wasn’t it funny? I was watching, I think it was John Oliver, his HBO show he does once a Sunday, whatever it’s called. And they were talking about AI. And they were cutting to clips of this expert on AI who was saying what was going to change. And he’s like, so this will impact copywriters and lawyers. And the second he said it, I was like, OK, wait. Suddenly, people know what copywriting is? 

For all of these years, no one’s had a clue what we do. And suddenly, it’s all like, everybody knows what we do. And this is going to be replaced. So I was annoyed by that. But I think that kind of set the tone, like hearing those sorts of things set the tone for a lot of people. And I get it. It was like, It was a get on board, you know, befriend the bear before it eats you and then be a slave to the bear, which is scary and no one wants to do that. Writers already feel so insecure. Everybody already thought they could do our job. So to have this extra layer of like, oh, no, really, you don’t have a job anymore. I know it turned off a lot of people who were already kind of spazzing because COVID had hurt everybody so badly, right? Like you’re in mental recovery from COVID, then this news that your job is being taken away. And then everybody who’s been working for software companies, sees all of those layoffs.

So yeah, super tough year. And I think that it’s one of those years for me where I’m like, yeah, some people didn’t make it through. And God bless them and everybody who did make it through God bless us all. Because it’s tough. It’s obviously a tough go like that, simplifying it dramatically. The people who stayed are what I’m seeing at least are the people who’ve stayed and been successful about it. We’re never doing the work that AI does. Anyway, they like, and by that, I don’t I mean, I think what we’ve seen is AI can take your research and help you analyze it. So that’s good using it as an assistant, which we’ve all heard, but like, so few people actually do, you know, use chat GPT as their or whatever tool, you can say Jasper, but everybody just uses chat GPT. So yeah, it’s those who are able to, use it to make their work better and not be scared or intimidated by it. But that was really hard to come by, right? Like even saying that now, I know people are going to hear that and go like, sure. Like, oh, brother, it’s so easy for you to say, just use it. But what if I’m a junior copywriter? Like a junior copywriter who doesn’t know how to do what even chat GPT can do. 

So those are the ones who, it’s hard to admit it, but if you were junior and you didn’t take this job very seriously, if you conflate content and copy, you probably had a really hard year and were thinking about leaving or you left. And so the ones that fit the question are like, what’s working for those who stuck it out and are surviving now and are seeing their businesses grow. Like the people I’m seeing businesses, freelancing services, taking off in ways that we didn’t before and so like it’s just to me it’s like it’s the staying power one take your craft seriously so seriously that it’s a no-brainer that I should hire you even if you use AI even if my company uses AI anybody who uses AI knows like wait is this good? Am I allowed to use this? Is this accurate? Is this even right? So if you took your job seriously and you took AI, seriously, not as a threat, but as an opportunity, and you stayed the course, those seem to be the people who are succeeding. 

I know it feels like a place of privilege to say that, right? Like, how do you stay the course if you’re not making money? How do you take the job seriously if you’re still really new at learning it, and juniors aren’t getting the same level of employment that more strategic, senior, conversion focused, or even just brand and creative and like big picture thinking focused copywriters are able to make. But I would say those things. Take the job seriously. Take AI seriously. Stick around. That’s what I saw working.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, I think that’s all smart. And I’m not disagreeing with you at all, but to me, AI feels like it was a smaller threat than the economy overall, especially in the SaaS and tech space where there were so many layoffs. There were so many changes in marketing budgets. And while, of course, AI has had an impact just like you described, I think that AI is getting blamed for a lot of the other stuff that’s happening in marketing. 

The other thing, and we haven’t necessarily talked about this, but something that’s happened over the last year, I’m sure you’ve seen it—everybody I know has seen it—our inboxes are flooded with the offers, I can find you 30 different potential calls… clients… whatever. I’ve helped somebody add $40,000 a month to their job. And because that outreach thing has happened (and a big part of that is AI too) I think the way that we have traditionally done outreach and found clients and direct messaged, that kind of stuff has slowed way down as impactful as well. And so it feels like, it’s AI’s fault, but a lot of it’s just the economy and the way people are marketing, too. I don’t know. We could have an argument about this.

Kira Hug: Let’s just blame AI. Let’s just blame it. Use AI as a punching bag. It’s more fun.

Joanna Wiebe: I like having a villain. A villain is good and identifiable. Yes. So I hear you. So for me, the economy, yes, it’s been hurting a lot of people. Then there’s the other side of like, you know, what’s really going on with layoffs? Is it just like a really good chance to scale back on, you know, there’s an NPR show about this, people talk about this, the possibility that the layoffs are like, well, I have a bloated team, and it’s hard for me to get rid of them. But if the economy is bad, and if Salesforce just laid off 10% of their staff, then I can lay off 10% of mine too. And, and it’s not like, it’s not that it’s not real, because the economy is, it’s hard, right? You’re, there’s not enough money out there for the things that we used to have a lot of money for. 

What I have seen as a trigger for people reaching out to me for training or for copy chiefing for their team, like come in on retainer or, hey, I need a project done. The trigger is often when a person joins the company as VP of marketing or CMO. So it’s a new hire at an organization where they’re up at a new tier for their role. They look around their team and go, nobody has any copywriting expertise here. So they have this new team, new goals, their own pressure to perform in a bad economy. And they’re reaching out to say, hey, how do you get, how can you help me with my team? Or can you come write this thing for me? 

So for me, that trigger hasn’t gone away. People are still going into new roles. We’re still getting new VPs marketing. new product marketing leads, people who have moved up through the ranks, are still reaching out. So I think if your job has been, hey, I’m going to do cold outreach to get clients or I’m going to reach out on LinkedIn or whatever that is, I mean, I’ve never been a fan of that. I’ve always been like, no, people should reach out to you. So to get them to reach out to you, you are an authority. 

So a VP of marketing has to know your name in some way. And people get really freaked out about that. How do I become an authority, though? And it’s like, what are you doing right now? What are you doing at this exact moment right now? They’re complaining. Well, how about instead of that, you outline the book? Because you can self-publish a book today. April Dunford self-published, obviously awesome, and has built a multimillion dollar consulting business off this. It doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. And it might be, this is going to be annoying to a lot of people to hear, but it might be kind of the best time ever to put your authority on the page, to use AI to help you generate an outline for this book you’re going to write. write the book, self-publish it, become an authority in this space, instead of wondering, where did all the clients go? Because there are new VPs of marketing who do look around and have teams that need help. And they’re like, we need our onboarding emails done right now. We needed them yesterday. 

We’ve had 15-year-old onboarding emails going out. These are real things that are constantly happening. But they’re not going to reach out to you if they don’t know who you are. And they’re not going to answer your cold outreach thing. Because again, like you said, Rob, they’re already flooded with crappy stuff in their inbox. So the answer sadly feels like it’s the same answer as ever. Make people come to you by being an authority, an unreplaceable, irreplaceable authority on X thing in copywriting. You know? Like, Summer had her best year ever last year, trying nothing. She did nothing. But Summer’s the email person now, and so people line up to work with her. Is that too simplified? I always feel like I’m oversimplifying, but it really does always come down to just write a book, just write a stinking book already.

Kira Hug: I think writing a book has been on my list for multiple years, and I’ve shared it on this podcast, and I fail every year. And I’m like, this is the year. But for some people who are like, cool, I’m going to write that book. But in the meantime, I need clients today. What could I do to build my authority this month that I can ship this month that’s working today that maybe wasn’t working a year ago?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, do a hard thing. So I have in my calendar every morning from 9 to 10, I have a block that says do hard things you hate doing and some days I delete that block but other days I do the hard thing I hate doing. I’m going to tell you I was in a session, I’m in this big group coaching thing with Dan Martell. He was on a call. This is a really cool moment. We were having this group call, people ask questions, but in order to ask a question, you have to, and I’ve applied this in our Copy School Professional. So anybody who’s in copy school pro and listening, they’re like, you stole that from Dan. Yes. I stole this from Dan. In order to ask a question, you have to say, yes, I’ve been doing my five daily non-negotiables. Then you have to share the money. When five daily non-negotiables include opens—you have to reach out to five people a day to open a conversation that you can then close as a sale. 

So people put up their hands and ask a question, say, yes, I’m doing the five daily non-negotiables. And then their question is, where do I get clients? And Dan says, I thought you were doing your five daily non-negotiables. People like, yeah, well, kind of. And he was getting angry on the call. He was getting visibly annoyed by everybody. And then one person, God bless her, put up her hand and had the same question. I’m struggling to get clients. Something like she was an accountant for construction companies or something like that. And Dan’s like, what did you do today? Who did you call today? And she’s like, what do you mean, who did I call? 

He’s mad. He’s swearing. Everybody is so feeling so awkward for her. I’m like, she’s going to cry. She’s probably going to cry. She’s being sworn at with love in front of 300 people. And so Dan says, okay, give me the name of the person you want to reach out to, what company they’re at, and where they are. And she’s stammering. And then she says a name and the company they’re at, and they’re in Texas or something. Dan Googles it, picks up his phone, calls this person in front of everybody. He is going to make a cold call to this person in front of us, and we’re all like, What? Like, chat’s going wild. This is crazy that Dan is doing this very hard thing. He’s going to cold call for a company that’s not even his just to show that this is a hard thing that you have to do. And if you actually want to get ahead, you have to do these very hard things. Now, It went to voicemail. We were all very upset about this.

Kira Hug: Because nobody answers their phone.

Joanna Wiebe: And Dan was like, hire an assistant so that you don’t miss a potential sales call, dude from Texas. But it was at that moment, I had brand new respect for Dan. And two, a hard reality hit that we never do the hard things. We’re not going around doing hard things we’re doing. one somewhat hard thing every so often. But this is like, pick up the phone and call somebody. What if you called the CMO of Bitly? You call the CMO of Bitly, somehow find this person’s phone number. You call them and say, I think you need new emails. I want to do it for you. Do a proper sales call, though, like pitch. 

Nobody else is calling. Like you’ll be the one person who’s picking up the phone and calling. You could actually land something because most people want a hustler. Most people want someone who’s going to do hard work. Then I will pay you money to do hard work. Companies still have budget to spend on us. They’re still, they have things they’re trying to get done. No one in-house, like anybody who’s a copywriter and has worked with people who are in-house, Love y’all, but there is some lacking skill out there in-house. There are full marketing teams who are being forced to write their own copy, who don’t know what they’re doing, who Google it to try to get an answer. They would love you to come in and help. Why don’t you pick up the phone? If it’s not working, try that. And if your answer is some excuse, You have to realize that it’s on you now. The results are on you. We can tell you what to do. You can know that you have to do it, but you actually have to do it. It’s hard.

Rob Marsh: Yeah. This is a favorite theme of mine. When I email about this particular thing, you’ve got to do the hard work, I get more responses back from people who say, thanks for the kick in the butt. Thank you. I needed to hear that. I’m not sure that it results in people doing the hard things, but they need to get real into it. And in a world where everybody’s saying, hey, it’s easy to add $10,000 to your monthly billings every month or whatever, it’s actually not true. Nothing that brings in money is easy. Literally nothing bringing in money is easy. But being told that you got to do it, is. So anyway, my question is, Jo, what are the five hard things you’re doing every day?

Kira Hug: Yes, I was gonna ask that.

Joanna Wiebe: Yes, I have my five daily non-negotiables and they are, for me, cause I did a dump of 25 things that I’ve been putting off doing, just as fast as I could. And then copy school professionals, students did the same thing too, to find their five daily non-negotiables. And then I categorize them in what turned out to be groups. 

Dan’s non-negotiables include, you have to sweat for an hour every day. That didn’t come up as something that I need to work on because I have my own practice where I do yoga and I do like activities so I didn’t find that that was a thing that was lacking for me. The things that came up for me were around evergreen funnels that I’ve been putting off doing or optimizing. My team, do they know that they’re beloved and respected? Are they hearing good things from me and then getting more out there for content? So my five daily non-negotiables are put in my calendar to review at the end of every day if I haven’t already done them because it is a practice, it’s a habit. 

Number one, comment on my daily funnel performance in Slack. So how is the freelancing school funnel doing? How is copy school doing? And how is copy school pro doing? I suck at this one, but because I feel like I’m just like throwing stuff at my team, so I have to get better at how to do that. But again, telling my team what that performance is and having a comment about it. Number two, add three short videos to our social Dropbox. That’s where my team, Nicole and Mike, then take those videos and do stuff with them. Number three, connect personally with a team member or contractor. just some quick text or outreach or something that’s just like connecting us. Number four, DM 10 followers on Instagram. I also suck at that one, but you know, I get three or five out. And number five is to add 100 words to my book project, which I am actually good at. Those are my five. Y’all need five. What would be your five?

Kira Hug: I do like a big one—hard thing—every week. That’s my goal. I respect the fact that you’re like busting out five every day. For me, it’s like, what is the big one this week? The thing that I put off for months or years and doing that. So it is something I’ve given a lot more thought recently. Like, what is that uncomfortable, deeply uncomfortable thing? Calling people, I don’t know. As a millennial, we don’t call people. So this is deeply uncomfortable. Gen X, Rob, I know you’re more comfortable with phone calls. My husband is more comfortable with phone calls. He’s like, I don’t get why you can’t just call people. So that’s something I need to work on.

Rob Marsh: If I had a dollar for every time I said that to one of my kids, I would not have to work ever again in my life. They won’t even call me. It’s ridiculous. I’ve never thought through this process, applying it to the business. Although I’m going to once we hang up, I’m going to start making a list. But I do have several hard things or non-negotiables I do. Exercise is a big one. I do it between an hour and an hour and a half a day. I do take off a day every week for rest or whatever. Reading. I’ve got time carved out—it’s basically that 75 hard thing where you read at least 10 pages a day in a book that is not fiction. It’s not a story. It’s something to either build my skills, build my knowledge, something like that. So that’s another piece. I have a spiritual practice that happens every day as well. So there’s that kind of stuff. But thinking about evergreen funnels, thinking about programs that need to be updated, or fixed. I need a list for that. These are the top 10 hard things that are next, where I just, every day I have to do one. I think that would, that would help for sure.

Kira Hug: Yeah, the video content to like, that’s, I mean, to me is such a pain to like, articulate those ideas into place, record it. And so I love that you have how many at one a day, three a day. Geez.

Joanna Wiebe: All right, Dan, I’m just gonna talk a lot about Dan Martell today, because he’s killing it. For real, though, he has one person who just follows him around with the camera.

Kira Hug: Oh, like Gary Vee.

Joanna Wiebe: Is that what Gary Vee does? It’s banal. Yes.

Rob Marsh: Because otherwise, how do you produce that much content? You can’t.

Joanna Wiebe: Every single thing he says becomes content. Everything. Oh my gosh. Wacko, right? Yeah. And these are those roles that don’t cost that much. You don’t need a professional videographer. They need to hold their iPhone up in front of you. And maybe you have one of the little mics that you put on your lapel. That’s it. You can get your nephew to follow you around. Whatever, right?

Kira Hug: One of your kids could follow you around.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, the last thing they want to do is listen to me more. That doesn’t work. When your kids get older, you’ll understand, Kyra. Your kids still like you. That’s the last thing 20-somethings want to do is hear from their dad.

Kira Hug: Okay, so I want to go back to It sounds like I’m being such a downer and I’m not trying to but I’m just trying to keep it real. And so I’m curious about a struggle you had over the last six months. Like as we’re all struggling with many different things What was something specific that you were working through and how did you work through it if you worked?

Joanna Wiebe: Oh yeah. Oh gosh. Many. So, lots of struggles. So one thing was about two years ago, I had a team member quit via a lawyer. So I had to deal with this claim that lawyers then dragged out and it was really getting to me. Like it was. just bad feelings all the time. Like, you know, when you’re getting ready in the morning or those moments when you have time alone and when you’re alone, your brain goes to, it would, sometimes it goes to productive things. Um, it wouldn’t, it would only go to this person and this fricking, what if this turns into like a proper fricking lawsuit? 

Then I have to go to court and I’m gathering evidence and stuff. I’m like, this is bull. I don’t want this. And so I was so stressed about it. I actually had, at one point I had a FedEx delivery come to my door. And I had so much anxiety over having this person quit by a lawyer that I thought somebody else was quitting via a lawyer as well. And I was like being served. And so it but it wasn’t it was just like it was something I think it was my banker sent me something by FedEx. And I immediately booked a therapy session after that. I was like, hmm, I have issues. Something’s happened. And so, yeah, my therapist was like, it’s probably a form of PTSD. Don’t worry. A lot of people get PTSD for lots of things. 

We had to work through that for a year before I finally said to this one lawyer I was working with, like, can we just try settling with this person? Like, it’s a thing that we haven’t tried. And I would like this to go away. Like, at this point, I would pay anything for this to just go away. Because when I should be thinking about business and opportunities, I’m thinking about this. And so then we did. And like, it was like, between us, even if this person’s listening, it was such a small amount of money for all of the pain that I had been through. So I was like, now I’m mad at lawyers, you ass, putting me through this when it could have just been solved with here. Yeah. So the resolution was really quite simple, but the, the hassle of it, the mental load of that, I know it’s not, if you don’t have a team, it’s not relatable, but think about these surprises. 

It could be like a tax bill that comes out of nowhere where you’re like, where are we going to get that money from? Um, or whatever it is. But it was like this, and it just weighed on me. And meanwhile, my team is like, get me a fun video. I don’t have a fun video in me. I’m not built for this right now, but you have to keep putting on a face and continuing to show up for work, doing things you can’t just hide under your bed and wish life would be easy. You have to keep going and doing the thing. And so that was, that was a big, that was a big problem. Thank God the business was going well and I didn’t have to worry about that sort of thing. But then there’s the additional burden of, you know, like we have people in freelancing school and you’re thinking like, Gosh, it’s hard for everybody out there now. And I realize I’m not showing up as well as I could because I’m stressing. So I’m not putting things out there that could help students and non-students actually get ahead of this really difficult time in a copywriter’s life. So it was crappy. That was what I went through. Yeah.

Rob Marsh: I’m glad you shared that. I think this, I mean, obviously it’s maybe not as big as having an attorney reach out, but stuff like this happens for all of us, like even just plain old burnout. You know, if you are tired and exhausted from doing the work for so long and struggling to try to make it, it does get really hard to show up. A copywriter reached out to me last week. Her apartment had been broken into. And, you know, like that kind of a thing, just it threw her off of her game. I was honored that she reached out and just like, you know, help, you know, help me think through this. You know, what should I do? She would even ask for my advice on that. It was awesome. But this stuff happens to us. It helps, I think, if we have a game plan. It’s like, okay, what if everything goes wrong? Like, what would I do? But it’s hard to predict so much of this stuff. And having to show up and be you know, be Joanna, be Rob or Kira or whatever for your clients for anybody else who’s trusting you to do stuff. It’s freaking hard.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, it is. And that’s where I think it breaks a lot of people because it’s so hard. And you’re like, well, I just actually do like for me to get through this, I need to stay in bed for a while or I need to go get away and clear my head in the mountains and things that like And that also requires money. So there’s a level of privilege required in order to take care of yourself when that’s what you need most. So it’s, yeah, it’s no joke, the things that people are going through and how difficult it really, really is to get through them. Yeah, this is a very depressing topic, Kira. Thank you for bringing that up.

Kira Hug: I’m really good at that. It’s a gift. We’ll shift to something lighter. As things have shifted in our space, the copywriting space, how do you spot, identify opportunities within your business to direct your team, saying this is worth my time, this is worth the team’s time to shift the business and focus here? How do you think about that and approach it?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, that’s a great question. When I think about the shifts that my team has made, two big ones are way more in social media. Uh, so we’ve shifted away from writing long content outside of our like AI prompts section on our site. That’s our only like long content that we write now. Um, and now it’s more social media. So I have one person who’s in charge of Instagram, one person who’s in charge of YouTube. And then, um, shoot there was something else that I had and oh yeah and now many chat as a new like sort of direct selling opportunity uh with dms and sms and whatsapp and all that stuff but that’s really brand new but when I think about like where those shifts came from uh I was away on a retreat um So it’s like the people you surround yourself with are often the people who will give you what you need for what’s next. And sometimes without even meaning to. 

So I was away on a retreat with a few of my friends in this thing called Shine Crew, which is like women building women up, lifting each other up instead of pushing each other down, which is how most are conditioned, sadly. So this lifting each other up thing, we went away for this retreat. And I was there. I was talking with Gia from Forget the Funnel. She was on this retreat. Um, and she was like, Joe, something like Joe, you have no social game. And I was like, what? I didn’t know I had to. And she’s like, you need to be on social. And I was like, Oh, okay. And she said it was such a passing thing. Like we were just on a retreat again together in January. And I was like, so I took your. advice, your little snide comment, seriously. And now I’ve got these people on social media. And she was like, what did I say? 

She had no recollection that she’d even told me to do this. But the point is, it was good advice. I was like, you’re actually right. We’ve put so much into building our email list and doing stuff that’s like that sort of direct marketing. But when you combine what’s going on like social and all of the tools now to turn social into more of a direct channel as well, which is kind of interesting. So one part it’s being told by people to get your butt in gear, get on those spaces where everybody else is. But then the other one was another Dan Martell. Buy the book, evidently. Buy back your time if you’re listening to this. Go do that. But Dan uses ManyChat for selling people into his coaching program. So if you follow him on Instagram and he opens a conversation with you, and then it turns into, I think, an automation through ManyChat. And then, and you can see this just by following Dan and then see what happens. And then it turns into, it switches over to a closer. So, and this is all set up in Manychat, you have to manually open, like you have to follow some, like when someone follows you on Instagram, you then have to DM them manually to get them started. And once they reply, then Manychat can take over for a bit, which is cool. So those are like the shifts that I’m making, but if I wasn’t in Shine Crew, I wouldn’t really be thinking about this. my social presence being non-existent. 

And if I wasn’t in Dan’s training, I wouldn’t know anything about ManyChat either. So to me, it comes back to, are you in a mastermind? Are you in a group where other people are sharing great ideas? And it’s really sad because the number of people who go into programs like your programs and like freelancing school, they tend to leave when things get hard and that’s the moment you should be staying like that’s when you need us most when things are easy it’s really nice to add fuel to the fire but Freelancers, consultants, people who are trying to grow their online business. There’s so much to do. There’s so much out there. You could do so many things wrong or just avoid things. You’ve got to surround yourself with people that are like trying to up level and like new levels, new devils, right? So as you get to that new level, you have to then understand how to deal with the new devil there. But if you’re not around people, you don’t know that. And so you just kind of sit there. point answer, long answer to your question, Kara, is those are the things that we’re working on that are different. And they came about because people basically said, do it this way. And so now we are.

Rob Marsh: Yeah. Yeah, we’re big believers in the whole mastermind thing. I know you are. You come home from a mastermind, and you’ve got so many ideas, it’s almost hard to execute on all of the stuff, which that’s maybe the downside of the mastermind is that there’s so many good ideas. I have a very different question for you, Joanna. So we talked to you last on the podcast almost seven years ago. It doesn’t feel like it was seven years because you’ve spoken at our events. We’ve had you at other places, but literally the last time you were on the podcast was episode 14, and that was recorded over seven years ago. So since then, I mean, obviously you were doing this for a while before then. You’ve been doing this ever since. What are you bored of talking about? The question you never want to be asked again, or the thing that you never want to have to say again, what is that?

Joanna Wiebe: How do I do research if I don’t have customers? How do I find new clients if I don’t have results?

Rob Marsh: Okay, and what are the answers?

Kira Hug: That’s how we’ll wrap this conversation.

Joanna Wiebe: Do you actually want to know the answers to them?

Rob Marsh: No, I don’t. I’m not going to make you talk about it. You’ve talked about them so many times. There are no easy answers. 

Kira Hug: Yes. Okay. So in your company today, when you look at your website, it looks like you have a team. It looks like a growing team. I noticed some other family members. Yes. So I guess there’s a couple of questions here. What does your team look like today? What is the role you’re playing? And then I’m going to ask about working with family.

Rob Marsh: So I’m going to like, monopolize the questions for me. I’m just going to monopolize. I’ll just be quiet while Kira finishes her question.

Kira Hug: Rob, just let me finish this. I got it.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay. My team today is… we made a switch to a lot of contractors. So we had people, because we were doing so many launches, we had people on full time, but then between launches, I needed a lot of downtime between them. So it was just like twiddle your thumbs a little bit. So we moved to contractors. So some of the team members that we had. I just had a talk with them, like, are you down to move into a contract role? It doesn’t make sense for you to be here full time. And they said, yes. So we moved from having an in-house email marketer to a contractor now that we work with. And then, and that’s really good for his life because he’s got a baby and all sorts of things. And his wife is very busy with her job, her business. So we moved that, we moved our media buyer to a contract as well, which is fantastic. So yeah, a lot of those, there’s others that will come up. 

We had Jess Noel working on publishing for a little over a year on contract. She was great. Ghostwriters, of course, are on contract too. All of the people who are filling our AI prompts section are just freelancers. who we work with on an ongoing basis. So a lot of contractors involved. The core team is, as you said, I have two family members in there, as well as three other full-timers. So we’re a team of six full-time right now. We’re having an onsite, because we’re always off site but we have an Edmonton office so we’re having an onsite meeting on next Monday and Tuesday, where we’ll be talking about some roles that we might need to open one of those roles is likely. one or two people in charge of team sales, because we’re seeing team sales really kind of escalate. There’s a lot more demand there than there was even two years ago. So that’s something that we’ll have to explore. But I’ll be working with my team to figure out if that’s the thing worth exploring. So the team that we have, um, my sister, so we think of our funnel as like a rectangle that’s horizontal. So it’s not a funnel at all. Because that’s upside down like that. 

We’re like, okay, if there’s a customer journey here, let’s make it a nice big rectangle. Everybody comes in and goes out and stays up on the other side. Um, so the front, before you become a customer, Paul manages that Paul’s my brother. Um, and he’s been working for me for four or five years for a long, long time. So he manages the front and that includes, we’ve got Lindsay, she does support and she also is taking over our mini chat because support takes like two hours a day, but we need somebody always available. So that’s like someone who makes sense to have on full time for us at least. So she’s taken over Manychat learning to really own that. And then Nicole and Mike, Mike runs YouTube. He’s responsible for growing our channel from I think 10,000 people right now to 100,000 by the end of the year. Good luck, Mike. Nicole is in charge of Instagram. She is in charge of moving it from 15,000 followers, I think, to 150,000 by end of year. Also, best of luck to Nicole. 

So with that, then we have them in masterminds as well to move them more quickly along in their skill acquisition and implementation and being more strategic about everything. So those are the three people that are working with Paul on the front. before you become a customer. Sarah fully owns after you become a customer what goes on there. And that’s where we have freelancing school. She oversees our four coaches that we have in Freelancing School and in Copy School Professional. She oversees our four coaches there as well. And then I am across the entire journey for now. I don’t see that being the thing going forward, but we used to have a team of 12. And I was run off my feet and doing nothing. I was constantly reacting to people and what they needed and rarely getting ahead of it. So it felt really good to take a bunch of those roles down to contractors. We moved a few of those people over to an agency, which has since become its very own thing. That’s Rashi and Carolyn. Um, yeah, and that’s really where we’re at. So taking it back to a good place, but have you read E-Myth Revisited? Yeah.

Rob Marsh: So we, everybody who wants to run a team or anything bigger than themselves ought to read E-Myth Revisited.

Joanna Wiebe: Totally need to read it. Um, for me, I recognized in reading it that we had, because I was going through that shitty stuff with my ex team member who had a claim against me, against us. I was going through this and that kind of scared me on people. So that’s one of the reasons I like moved to contract. And it also made me kind of shrink into myself a little bit, which he points out in the book is like, it’s a common thing that happens. Now we got to get you back out of that. So that’s the stage that I’m in right now is trusting people again. And then moving out to a place where I can buy back my time, as Dan would say, and be able to bring on the right roles so that I don’t have to do everything. And I don’t do everything, but there are some things that I’m doing that I definitely shouldn’t be doing. Does that answer your question, Kira? 

Kira Hug: I mean, I asked five questions in my one.

Joanna Wiebe: That was two, team and my role. Then there’s this whole working with family thing, which is like,

Kira Hug: Yeah, just give us a taste of what it’s like to work with family, the good and the bad.

Joanna Wiebe: Oh, there’s mostly bad. Just kidding.

Rob Marsh: We’re going to have to figure out a way to block Sarah and your brother from listening to the podcast so you can get real with us here.

Joanna Wiebe: They would say the same thing. Like, we’ve actually talked about doing a podcast on things like working with family, sibling rivalry or something. There was a different word in place of rivalry. I don’t remember. We didn’t do it. We might still do it. It’s tough. It’s really, it’s hard, but at the same time, there’s the benefit of a person that loves you, who you love, wants to help you grow a thing that’s important to you and also to them, right? It’s like, they’re not, if you’re an employee, you can often feel like you’re not part of growing the thing. And I think that that’s my challenge with people. who aren’t my family, who work for me is like reminding them that this is theirs to build too. 

But it’s harder to understand that when you’re not a partner, you don’t have equity in a company, you don’t get paid, you get paid bonuses and performance bonuses. But if there’s not that same level of ownership that you do get when you employ a family member, who cares about you being successful, and who knows you care about them right back. You care about your other employees, too. It’s just you don’t say, love you, Mike. You don’t. I mean, we don’t say this stuff at work anyway. But that’s the good thing. The hard thing is, of course, all of the baked in history, relationship-y stuff, and how that comes out, and how hard it is to have conversations. that are real and honest that don’t come down to, that don’t turn into problems. 

My brother Paul is really good at compartmentalizing me as like his boss versus me as his sister. So I can give him critical feedback and he takes it like a team member, not like my brother. Sarah and I struggle with Sarah’s my older sister. In my family, you were raised to like, you know, if Sarah wanted a glass of water, she would say, Joe, go get me some water. And then you do it. And when I see families that don’t do that, I’m like, that was an option to say no, you could say no to your older sibling. It wasn’t for us. So like, except for Paul, he would always say no to me, whatever. But that’s the tricky thing, right? Those things. So Sarah and I are actually looking at talking to Sarah just came back, she used to work for me. Then she went back to nursing during COVID and now she’s back. So we’re looking at getting a therapist to talk to, to just make sure that we get ahead of things and stay on the same page. Yeah.

Rob Marsh: Remind me not to work with my siblings. I don’t think I could work with my siblings. I love my siblings, but I don’t think that would be… That’d be hard. It’d be really hard. Yeah.

Kira Hug: I could work with one of them, maybe two of the other. Hard no. Hard no.

Rob Marsh: Yeah. Sometimes it’s hard enough just to be siblings, let alone to be working together. That’s very true.

Joanna Wiebe: Oh, right. Exactly. It’s hard to get together with your siblings without going like, well, it’s been 20 minutes. I got to go. It’s tough. It’s very tough. And I won’t be hiring. I’ve got two other siblings. There’s no way I’d hire them. I love them and that’s why I just couldn’t do it. Yeah. Yeah. But Purna successfully works with her husband. I know. I think Abby just hired her mom. So there are people who can do it. All the power to them. They need to put out a course on how to do it.

Rob Marsh: Yeah. Or, or maybe their relationships are just better, stronger. I don’t know that, you know, who knows what it is. So Jo, earlier you mentioned, just write a book. That’s how you pretty much launched your business is that you wrote some books and they were shared in the tech community. Let’s say that you don’t have that option right now. I’m just going to take it off the table, even though that may be unrealistic and you had to rebuild a business, you know, starting out from scratch, whatever, what would you do besides write the book to attract that level of attention, the clients to you. I know you don’t want to be pitching. It’s never been your thing. So what would you do to build that authority faster without a book?

Joanna Wiebe: One thing consistently and that one thing would be something that’s easy to distribute and that might have a baked in form of distribution or audience discovery. Substack was my answer until I saw stuff happen there. But that sucks because Substack has that baked in recommendation engine, which is so powerful. If not that, it has to be a thing where you can show up for it, adding value daily, twice daily, whatever that might be. and have it get distributed. So it’s really like, can you do it? I wouldn’t do it on YouTube because you get, it’s very hard to get results on YouTube until you get to a certain level. And even then sounds like it’s hard, but probably I would show up on Instagram being very, very honest and controversial. Not in a negative way, hopefully not in a harmful way, not controversy that’s mean to people, but like saying something that is true, but that people aren’t saying, and just say it a lot in a lot of different ways. But that’s tricky because if it doesn’t hit, then you’ve put a lot of energy in.

Medium might be a way to go, but yeah, it’s sad that Substack has had this stuff going on because it was a really good way to grow your authority really quickly with people who read. That’s the nice thing about blog posts as they used to be and books. It’s for people who read, who engage their brain and their mind. They’re not sitting there saying, Nobody reads online. They’re like, yeah, people actually do consume information and it’ll help get them to buy from us. So I don’t know if there’s an easy way. What do you think? What’s your take on that? Start a podcast. Yeah. I’m always concerned about a podcast. I know you guys do it very successfully. But it’s this walled garden thing that doesn’t seem to have a recommendation engine built in. Does it?

Kira Hug: There are some. I think HubSpot has a recommendation engine built. So I think there are more and more of those organizations that you can tap into.

Rob Marsh: I mean attribution is hard with a podcast for sure. But I think podcasting has one advantage that no other media has. And I know I’ve said this once or twice before, but all other media is external. to us. You see billboards, you read magazines, you even read books outside of your brain, but podcasts happen inside your brain. Even though we’re recording it in the world, you listen to it usually with headphones in, which means that when you’re listening to my voice right now, it is happening inside your head where your own thoughts happen. And so it’s the most intimate of media. 

It’s, for that reason, I love it. And I will say, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m amazed every time that somebody has joined our program, how often they’ll say, I am a copywriter today because I started binging your podcast, or I’m here because I learned how to trust you on the podcast. While attribution is really hard to say, we took the 5,000 listeners this week and 30 of them joined our programs, that’s really hard to see. I know it happens because we get it anecdotally. 

Joanna Wiebe: That’s amazing.

Kira Hug: How do you deal with Imposter Complex if you deal with it at all? Because I feel like we all see you. So many copywriters see you. You’re a leader in this space and it sometimes feels like you’re this force and unstoppable and like you can do anything. So it’s got to be easy for you.

Rob Marsh: Didn’t somebody say that you don’t have Imposter Complex?

Kira Hug: Do you have it? Do you deal with it if you do? How do you work through it? Because I think it’s easy for all three of us to talk about authority building and we’ve done it We’re continuing to do it not to say that we don’t do hard things and still always a hard thing to do But what do you recommend those writers listening who are just like getting in their head telling themselves This is gonna be stupid or someone already said this before it’s too crowded What has worked for you or what do you think could work for them? 

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, I don’t have imposter syndrome like you said, Rob. I haven’t experienced it. And I think that’s just because maybe I didn’t start by taking it that seriously. I don’t know, but like when I started out as a copywriter, I didn’t even know what it meant. So it wasn’t like I didn’t put it on some sort of pedestal. I wasn’t like, there’s so many better people out there. I think there are so many better people out there than I am. Such strong copywriters. And I’m like, well, I’m not that good. But I don’t I don’t know. I just don’t. 

Maybe I’m a raging narcissist. I don’t beat myself up for it. I just feel like we all bring our thing. I know I have a thing to bring and end of story. I don’t. I just don’t. I know so many freelancers in Freelancing School and Copy School pro have this, that exact imposter syndrome. My friend, Tiffany, who used to be head of growth at Shopify, same thing. She had imposter syndrome. Um, and I love listening to people talk about it, but, you know, I think part of it is, um, there’s a, I don’t worry that I’m a horrible writer. I like writing. I enjoy it. Um, I enjoyed it in university and I got rewarded for it. So I like it and I feel like I take it seriously. I take the writing seriously enough and I take my reader seriously enough. But I don’t hold it up as this incredible thing. Unlike, if you were to write some novel, then I think as soon as you have to go pitch somebody on publishing your novel, that’s like when imposter syndrome would really hit. 

I probably suck at this, but I just, I haven’t had that thought and I would encourage people Listen to people who understand imposter syndrome, and if what they’re saying doesn’t get through, if you’re like, that doesn’t feel right either, try. Try my way, which is just like, don’t really care what people have to say about it. Easier said than done. And if you’re like, Jo, that’s dumb, then ignore me. But if the other things that you’ve heard about imposter syndrome haven’t been working, look around. at some of the big name copywriters out there and allow yourself to be really critical of the copy that these people put out. And then you can ask, isn’t that good? I might actually be better than that person is. And let yourself entertain that thought. You might actually be better than they are. If you’re not, a great way to cure imposter syndrome is the same way that you cure writer’s block. Research. Go find out how to do this stuff well. Surround yourself with people who care about this. 

And then you might see that, OK, I can do headlines. Headlines, I rock. And just don’t worry about the other things. Also, don’t try to do everything. Be a sales page copywriter. be the best sales page copywriter, and then forget about emails. That’s not your gem. You don’t have to do emails if you’re a sales page copywriter. Just be that one thing. So maybe you’re spreading yourself too thin. Maybe you’re trying to be everything. Maybe you’re somebody who thinks that you have to get all these results in order to share them because everybody cares. Nobody cares. So just like, I think it’s one part, take it less seriously, and then take parts of it more seriously. Very bad advice from somebody who doesn’t experience imposter syndrome.

Rob Marsh: I have to admit though, I have to, I mean, I relate. I also don’t feel a lot of imposter syndrome in the things that I do either. And I, I’m not sure why I, you know, I can’t put a finger on it. I think I, in your answer, I hear you sort of struggling to put a finger on that. Um, I mean, I, there are definitely things that I feel uncomfortable doing, but like I’ve never thought, Oh, I had a conversation with Sam Woods a long time ago, maybe four or five years ago. We were talking about Gary Halbert’s copy. And Gary Halbert, who is often talked about as the greatest copywriter ever, his copy isn’t stunningly amazing. It’s very simple. He was a master direct response marketer. But his copy is good. I’m certainly not saying, no, he doesn’t deserve the title. But when I read his copy, I’m like, I write like this. Maybe even I write smarter than this sometimes, which is maybe that’s worse in some ways, I know. That depends on the audience. It’s a weird thing. Listening to you answer, I’m shaking my head. I’m like, yeah, I get it. I feel the same way and maybe I should feel imposter complex. I don’t know. I’m broken.

Joanna Wiebe: We’re both broken.

Kira Hug: Okay, so as we start to wrap, I want to get back to what you said about trusting people. I think that’s important. And so how have you started to trust people again? Because I think it is easy. I’ve struggled with this as I’ve grown in our business, trusting people less at times, even as you get like, quote, unquote, bigger. And so how, how are you dealing with that now so that you can trust people?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah. Um, slowly doing it. Um, only, I guess I’m just being like, I’m just kind of careful about letting people in. I don’t think I’ll ever hire anybody again, who identifies themselves as a fan girl or a fanboy, because there’s this level of expectation that you are somebody who is deserving of fans. And I’m like, I didn’t ask for that. So if you come in and you think, Oh, great. I’m working for Joe. This is going to be cool. And you have this weird idea of me, you will find very quickly that I’m like a normal person who operates rapidly. Um, and so you’ll be like, she expects too much. Yeah, I do. So like, you’re not going to like me. And so I wouldn’t recommend it. 

I won’t hire somebody who is like in our, in our world and would say like, my number one thing is to work for you. That’s like, you’ll hate me. So that won’t work. So letting the right people in who I’m unlikely to disappoint, I think maybe that sounds like, whoa, you’ve set the bar low. But kind of that’s the key to happiness I’ve heard. So that’s what’s working for me. And also talking to other founders and business owners who have been through the same. Like the only other time I’ve talked about this person suing me effectively was when Rand Fishkin invited me to talk about it to his SparkToro audience. Rand is so open with the struggles that he’s had. So I think a way to trust is to know that it’s hard for a lot of people. If you’re an employer, it’s a whole different thing to be. So be forgiving with yourself and know that you can forgive yourself and others who judge you by looking around at the people like Rand who’ve had to go through the same thing. So again, it just seems to come back to the people you hang out with, like hang out with people who’ve been through it, and then you can maybe learn to trust again. That’s been my experience at least. Yeah. It’s all about that network is net worth thing.

Rob Marsh: Good advice. So what’s next for you, Joe? What, what’s coming up in the, in 2024, that’s going to make your life, copy hackers, maybe our lives better.

Joanna Wiebe: So I’m working with two research assistants right now on a proper book. tentatively called mine, but it’s just about conversion copywriting. April Dunford and I continue to work toward possibly doing something that we’re calling authority figures, which is like an event based thing where you get together and go through authority building stuff. But that’s That’s the hard thing when you have, I have a business that’s, you know, like growing and doing cool things. And she has a business that’s doing the same and we’re like, we should do this. And then we just end up hanging out together instead. Um, but those are the things. So definitely the book, definitely the book. Um, but then otherwise possibly authority figures, which will maybe be of use.

Rob Marsh: So I’ve been trying to get April on the podcast. She’s, she’s said, well, she’s always like someday, like really busy right now. So maybe if authority figures happens, we can get April on the podcast to talk about it. So that’s going to be my fingers crossed.

Joanna Wiebe: Go ahead, Kira. So I said, hook us up. Oh, for sure. I’ll go with Slacker right after this and see what’s up.

Rob Marsh: She’s not been blowing us off. She’s just like, hey, I’m busy. And I’m like, okay, I’ll follow up in a little while. We’ll see.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah. I know Q1 is slammed for her, but maybe Q2. That’d be cool.

Rob Marsh: We can always hope.

Kira Hug: All right. So for our listeners who want to connect with you, where’s the best place for them to go? It sounds like maybe it’s Instagram now.

Joanna Wiebe: Where should we go? Maybe Instagram? Yes. I mean, always, if you want to get tutorials and things, YouTube is filled with those. Yeah, I’m sending people off to non-coffee hackers domains and Instagram is all sorts of stuff too. But we do have AI prompts if you’re somebody who’s digging AI or wants to. We’ve got a whole section called AI prompts now, which we also then turn into content on social and YouTube. So you’ll find it in different places. And we’ve got a new series of AI prompts coming. So that’s over on That’s like a hub for all of our stuff. Otherwise Instagram is copyhackers and YouTube is copyhackers as well. Thanks y’all. That was fun. Great seeing you again.

Rob Marsh: I’ll see you in seven years.

Thanks to Joanna for joining us to chat about her business. Chances are you already follow her, but if not look for her on social media, she is copyhackers everywhere you go and visit to learn more about the programs she offer.

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