Daniel Throssell takes the mic on the 265th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. Daniel is a copywriter who has created something he likes to call, “The Parallel Welcome Sequence.” He teaches his students how to look at storytelling from a different lens, and now he’s going to give you a glimpse into how he makes it happen.
Here’s how the conversation breaks down:
- His grand escape from being an electrical engineer on a remote island.
- Winning a coaching call based on a story he wrote with no experience at all.
- How he was able to go from no experience to charging $200 an hour on Upwork.
- The Facebook message that would change the game for Daniel.
- How he managed to become the most-copied Upwork profile and how he gained 5 star reviews.
- Why he is so passionate about writing soap-opera-slash-personality-driven emails.
- The importance of partnership in copywriting.
- The difference between one off projects and growing with a business over time.
- The advantages of building your own list vs writing for a client list.
- How to get on more podcasts with this simple tip.
- The benefits of having a financial cushion when going after your dream business.
- How to test out your own launch ideas and analyze the results.
- How Daniel grew his list from 0-5000 in 18 months: what’s the secret?
- Why you should think about creating a welcome sequence from a different angle.
- The importance of staying consistent even when you think no one is listening.
- Why copywriters have an edge against other marketers and business owners.
- How to maximize and connect with your superfans.
- Shifting your business from client-focused to self-focused.
- Who should do a parallel welcome sequence?
Pop your earbuds in or check out the transcript below.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Kira’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Laura Belgray interview part 2
Brandi Mowles podcast interview
Connect with Robbie King
Kira: If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I want to get paid to be me,” this is the interview for you. Today’s guest for the 265th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast is Daniel Throssell. A copywriter who’s not afraid to show his weird side and approach list growth and relationship building differently. But before we dive in, let me introduce you to my cohost for today, Robbie King. Robbie, welcome to the show. Thanks for doing this with me.
Robbie: Thanks very much for having me. It’s lovely to be here.
Kira: I want you to just quickly introduce yourself, who are you, how do we even know each other?
Robbie: Yes. So, we met probably virtually about two and a half years ago, when I was just kind of scratching my head about copywriting. And remember, we had a bit of back and forth. And then pretty quickly I realized that signing up for The Underground, and then eventually The Think Tank was just going to be the best thing to get my business going and help stop me banging my head against the wall, I think.
Kira: And Robbie, what are you doing today?
Robbie: So today, I actually work in house for a tech marketing agency. That was after a good year and a bit of having my freelance business. I did that after a good few months of just learning the whole business side of running a copywriting business. I thought I’d balanced that out a bit by just, I guess learning on someone else’s dime, there’s a lot to be said for that. It’s proven very useful. I’ve gone deeper into my skill set, into my niche, which is video and content consultancy. So, I’ve been doing a lot of that. And I’m still writing copy. So, it’s been quite the journey.
Kira: I know you shared this with me earlier, but maybe you could just share that that idea came from Matt Hall at TCCIRL. Do you mind just sharing how you had that idea to go back in house?
Robbie: Yes. Shout out to Matt Hall. Great guy, great talk, TCCIRL 2020. He had a great take on spending time freelancing, and in house and the benefits of both, and how both environments have the pros and cons for one’s education. And so, with that in mind, I thought that after a couple of years, freelancing would be a good idea to go in house. And, of course, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Well, at some point, I may flip back to freelance.” That’s the exciting part, I guess.
Kira: Very cool. Well, let’s jump in. Before we do that, of course, this episode of the podcast is sponsored by The Think Tank Mastermind. Robbie, as he said, is an alumni member of The Think Tank. So, Robbie, can you just share maybe what your experience was like in The Think Tank and the biggest benefit for you?
Robbie: Yes. So, I mean, I came to The Think Tank probably from a slightly different position to most people, my business was actually quite new. So, it was kind of the definition of moving fast and breaking things. I was just like, “Let’s dive right in,” and just surround myself with all kinds of really talented people. And I mean, firstly, it was just the perfect way to sort of face all your fears with a bunch of like-minded people all at once. When you’re starting a copywriting business it can be a bit of a daunting thing, can be quite lonely. The Think Tank was anything but that obviously. For anyone who’s ever done one of The Copywriter Club hot seats, it was kind of that on steroids in the sense that you just had this just laser focus from a bunch of different brains all offering you tips and gunning for you. Do I mean gunning for you? I think gunning for years is about… Anyway, God, I can’t even talk about that.
Kira: We get what you’re saying.
Robbie: They’re in your corner. All the retreats and the hot seats that we did in The Think Tank were particularly memorable, just because every time we did one, I just came away with just a bigger brain and a whole lot more wisdom.
Kira: Well, thank you, Robbie for sharing that. And if anyone listening wants to learn more, you can go to copywriterthinktank.com. Now let’s get into the episode.
Daniel: Well, I was originally an electrical engineer. I have a degree in electrical engineering, and I was working for Chevron on this tiny little island off the coast of Western Australia. You had to fly on this little dinky plane for two hours, it was rattling the whole time. And then you were there for four weeks in the red dirt and the heat, building this gas plant. There was no town or anything out there, it’s a nature reserve. It really sucked.
And while I was working out there on my four weeks at a time, 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM shifts, I used to follow Ramit Sethi, and his email list. And one day he had this contest, and he was launching his new copywriting course back then. And he’s like, “Whoever writes the best sales letter for my course, I will send you my three favorite books on copywriting and we’ll do a half hour chat about copywriting.” I didn’t know what the heck, I’d never heard the word copywriting. I didn’t know it had a sense other than copy and paste. But I was like, “Well, I like Ramit. I’ve seen how he writes emails and his sales pages, and I’ve even bought stuff from him, so I’m sure I can do that.”
But because I didn’t really know what you were supposed to do, I didn’t go with the whole… There was some people entering that contest, and I saw the entrance and they’re like, “Here’s how to 2X, 5X, or even 10X your business with the power of copy.” And I was reading their entries and I was like, “Oh man, I’m going to lose.” Because I just told this story about how I convinced my wife to let me buy one of Ramit’s books for 200 bucks. I just told that story. And I was like, “Ah, I’m going to get so smashed,” and then he picked my copy as the winner of that. And he was like, “That was better than most professional copywriters I’ve ever seen.” And I was like, “Yeah, it’s the first time I’ve ever written copy.” And he’s like, “What? What are we going to talk about on this call?” I was like, “I don’t know, can you tell me how to start as a copywriter?”
So, he gave me some advice, some books to read. And after that, I jumped into Upwork. I had heard of Upwork and I thought I’d try my hand there. I bought a course on doing Upwork and I ended up having some good success. In the next nine months or so, I went from literally having no experience there and I went to charging $200 an hour. I was one of the most expensive writers there, making some of the most money. And people were ripping me off, my profile and everything because I was doing so well.
Around that time, my reputation got around, and I got contacted by a guy called Scott Pape, who back then was fairly well known. But he reached out to me. And he said, “Hey, I need some help writing copy for a book I’m about to launch.” And so, he brought me on to write the launch funnel for that book. And that ended up being the best-selling book in Australian history. It’s called the Barefoot Investor. So that was the start of a kind of a wild ride working with him for the next five or so years. And I still infrequently do things with him. But I helped him manage his investment newsletter and his email business, which was huge. So, I learned a whole lot from him until 2020 when basically I kind of struck out on my own, started building my own email list and doing my own thing. And that’s basically the story of how I got to today in a nutshell.
Rob: So, let’s go all the way back to the red dirt island, nature preserve. I’m curious, you’re an engineer, what’s going on that makes you not want to be an engineer. Most people would say, “Hey, engineering is a great career, good money, good opportunities.” And you trade that in for a life of freelance, what’s going on?
Daniel: Man, oh, the money was great, because they pay you a good bonus to be away from your home for four weeks at a time. I should say, it was like a luxury prison. That’s how I describe it to people, being on that island, because there’s no civilization, it’s just a camp, where you have a few thousand workers and they’ve got pools and a pub, and tennis courts and so on. So that’s the luxury part of it, but it’s like a prison, you can’t go anywhere. You had to get permission to go to the beach on that island. You couldn’t veer from the paths that linked the camp and the site, for example. You couldn’t bring a phone out to your office at 12 hours per day, from 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You can’t have a phone to talk to anyone.
So, you’re basically completely isolated from home. And when you get back to your room for the four hours you have, you’ve got satellite internet connection shared by 4,000 people, so you can’t Skype or anything. It was awful. So that alone was bad enough, but the work itself was mind numbingly boring too. And I love math, I’m good at math, I was great at university, but then you get into the career and you’re just spreadsheet manager. That sucked.
Rob: Obviously, that sucks, you’re looking for something else. Were you looking for opportunities online and that’s how you found Ramit’s course or what were you doing?
Daniel: Ramit, his audience is disaffected young professionals I guess. I mean, his whole thing is about teaching him how to start a new business or whatever it is, and that’s why I was following him. But I had no idea that you could get paid to write stuff. And I think that’s a fairly common thing for copywriters to say, but everyone has that moment where it’s like, “Whoa, someone got paid to write that.” In everyone’s origin story, there’s that clicking. For me, it wasn’t until I’d actually done the writing. And he’s like, “Yeah, that was good.” I was like, “I didn’t even know what I did. I don’t know how I did that.”
Rob: That’s interesting. I remember being on a bus with Joanna, we were sitting next to each other on a bus, and I heard her, oh, my gosh, you can make money as a copywriter story. And I shared my… Yeah, we all have that. Nobody grows up thinking, “I want to be a copywriter.” You want to be the fireman or a doctor or whatever. And somehow, we all end up here in this awesome-
Daniel: No one has Eugene Schwartz, or John Carlton, or Joanna on the wall when they’re growing up.
Rob: Exactly. More people probably should but okay. So, let’s talk about Upwork. We’ve talked several times about Upwork on the podcast, so we don’t necessarily need to turn this into how to survive or how to succeed on Upwork. But I’m curious, what was it that you were doing that you could scale the Upwork staircase so quickly to get to 200 plus dollars an hour?
Daniel: To me the most important thing was realizing how Upwork works, and what it likes and what it doesn’t like. And so, the most important thing when you’re starting out is those proposals you’re writing, it’s getting the attention, because you need to make that work when you come in with no experience. But the process of what’s important on Upwork sort of changes as you go. So, you need to start off with focusing on your proposals. And then after that, it’s the reviews you get. So, once you’ve got a few jobs, you need to accumulate that five-star base very quickly, as quickly as you can and do really well and take on terrible jobs. I was taking jobs like help name my business, and oh my gosh, no one ever take on a job that’s help me name my business, that is like playing Russian roulette. Because you give a name, “Nope, don’t like that.” Give a name, “Nope, don’t like that.” So much risk there. But I wanted to just get those reviews in.
Once you put the reviews in the system starts rewarding you and then you have to start focusing on niching down on doing something really well and saying you can do it really well. And so I think it was focusing on slightly different things at different times as appropriate. And the thing that really helped me stand out was to say, “Look, I am the sales page copywriter on Upwork. I don’t do anything else; I just do sales pages.” Now that wasn’t true, I would do other things after the client comes to me. But if they’re going on there to get a sales page written…
And this is back in 2017, 18, when I think there was a slightly better market for that kind of thing where they want sales pages for a course. And so, focusing on the one thing, they want the sales page I’m the only choice there. There’re other people saying, “I’ll do everything,” and I’m like, “I’ll do the sales page and I’ll do it better than anyone else.” And so that was really appealing. And I managed to get a couple of $6,000 projects or sales pages, which on Upwork is pretty good.
Rob: Really nice. And then did you meet Scott Pape on Upwork? Or how did you connect with him?
Daniel: That’s one of the mysteries of my life, because he just messaged me on Facebook. And to this day, I don’t know how. I wish I could tell you. But he just messaged me out of the blue and he never told me how.
Rob: We need to call Scott, we should get him on the phone right now. Just say, “Hey, how did you connect with Daniel?” This would be a good story. Of course, we’re recording this, nobody’s going to know this, but it’s five o’clock in the morning where you are so calling him at five o’clock in the morning, probably not great.
Daniel: Well, actually I’m in Western Australia. So, it’ll be a more reasonable time for him, I think.
Rob: There you go. But talk about that connection. So, Scott reaches out to you, you’ve been doing this work on Upwork, what kind of stuff were you doing with Scott that then really increased your value as a copywriter?
Daniel: So, what he first brought me on to do was just as kind of a helping hand. And he is an excellent copywriter. And he is the best-selling author in Australia, he had a huge newsletter business that he grew by himself so he really knew his stuff. And he just wanted someone to help him out. Originally, that’s what I was doing. Frankly, when I look at some of the copy I was doing for him in the start, it was woeful by my current standards. And so, there was a lot of learning involved from him in how to write interesting emails. And he was very formative on the email style I have now, which is a very personality-based business. And that was something I learned from Scott, he really pioneered that to me, the way he would project a character in his emails and turn things into kind of a soap opera, kind of this ongoing drama with recurring characters. And he’d do that in his emails or newspaper columns.
So that was really formative for me in seeing that because I haven’t seen too many people do that. I’ve heard of that soap opera sequence, but they’re always so overwritten, and they feel really fake and markety. Whereas he was this genuine, bumbling dad, sometimes he had kids who were driving crazy, and he had to get away from his wife and baby sometimes, it was just really genuine. So, learning that from him, was really good.
Eventually, as I started to get more useful to him, and that’s a big thing as well, he brought on a lot of people, but not everyone had the work ethic as well. You need to be reliable, ultimately, as a copywriter. If you just come in and say, “I just want to write the letters, tell me what letters to write,” you’re not very valuable. And so, someone who can spot when things need to be done, who can pick things up, who doesn’t need to be explained or told what to do multiple times, is almost more valuable than a more solid copywriter, because they just want a partner. So that’s what I was doing.
Eventually, he started trusting me with more and more parts of the business, like writing content for his newsletter, the investment newsletter. And it was kind of a general dog’s body job at one point, like doing research on investment bonds, writing this particular launch email, or this insert for the newsletter. And over time, I ended up being the director of operations, basically, where it was covering everything. So, I was looking at customer attention, the customer support messages we were sending, managing and planning sales, all sorts of things that we were doing.
And so, getting that breadth across a business and really going deep on all those things, was very useful. Whereas I think a lot of copywriters when they’re flitting around between clients, don’t tend to go as deep if that’s what they’re doing. And I really think not necessarily going in house because I did take on other clients during this time. But going deep with a business for a few years, and seeing all the aspects of that business made me very, very valuable. Because I know more than just how to write the email, or just how to write the sales page. It’s also well, how do you get the customers to stay? How do you write the sequence that’s going to get them to rebill for example? How do you keep the content interesting? So that was certainly one of the biggest things that added to my value, I think.
Rob: I like when you’re talking about how, as a copywriter, it’s useful, or it’s more useful to be the kind of person that can see when things need to be done. Something Kira and I talk a lot about, in particular, in our Mastermind and our programs. We give some examples of what that look like for you when working with Scott, of course, he comes to you and says, “I need help with a sales page, or I need help with a book launch.” But at what point did you start identifying the needs? And what kinds of things were you looking for that made it really easy for him to say yes to you?
Daniel: Well, originally, I would go through his email sequence, and I’d be like, we don’t really have a welcome sequence set up, he has a bunch of emails that have been running since 2015, whatever it is. And I’m like, “Hey, well, if we rewrote these based on these new articles that you’ve written, that have done really well, that’d probably work.” And he was like, “Cool. Can you do that?” And I’m just taking his work and repurposing it. Or, I would look at the customer service answers that we’re sending to people. And so, I’d say to the customer service team, “What are the 110 top queries that are coming in and how are you answering them?” And they would show me and I’d be like, “Hmm, that doesn’t seem really optimized. When was the last time we updated these?” “I don’t know.” So just looking for opportunities like that where I could find them and be proactive made me really valuable like that. I guess they’re coming have examples if that’s what you’re asking for.
Rob: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m asking for. So, leaving Scott then, and launching out into your own business, what did you do to start connecting with other clients, other work. And I know you started launching your own products at same time. But talk us through that process as you started your own thing?
Daniel: Well, firstly, I actually was still taking on other clients through the last couple years of working with Scott and through Upwork mostly. By the time I finished with Scott… Well, he actually wrapped up his newsletter in mid-2020, and we knew that was coming, we had a year’s notice. So, I sort of have noticed when the project was going to end that I knew I had to get something else going before then, because by the end, that business was so time intensive that I was doing almost nothing else in the final year.
So, in March of 2020, inspired by Ben Settle, I started trying to build my own email list and sending an email to it every day, and it was something I learned from Ben. I had about 40 people on that list, there was a blog post, I put up many years back from the Ramit days, and it got 40 people over the years that I’d never emailed once. I just out of the blue, start emailing that list. And when you email a list of 40 people that you’ve never emailed, you don’t get much response. So, it was basically beating my head against the wall for quite a while.
But even though I’ve been writing copy for a client for years, doing it to my own list and having to write something every day was really a whole new game. Because I was learning a lot of things that previously I’d rely on clients to have to give me direction on this or that or take them into account. And here it was me, I’m making 100% of the decisions. And so that was really a big thing for me starting to mail a list, look at all the stats and have my hands on every lever and button. And I kept doing that for a few months. And through its various different ways, I did a few lists swaps with other copywriters I know, I was… I’m trying to think of some of the things I was doing. I tried to get on podcasts in the early days, sometimes a bit too early. I reached out to you guys.
Rob: Yeah, you reached out to us like a year and a half ago. And it’s funny because I actually forwarded it to Kira, I’m like, “Hey, let’s get Daniel on the podcast.” And I don’t know what didn’t happen or what happened, but it’s taken a while to get here. But, anyway.
Daniel: And probably my lack of follow up too. That’s such a good lesson there, because I didn’t follow up with you. That’s the thing, you send a pitch and it’s like, “Oh, no, they didn’t reply to it.” And here you are, you’re like, “Oh, yeah, I actually forwarded it to Kira.” If I’d known that, I would have been like, “Oh, follow up again.” So, I was doing things like that to try and grow that list. And it was really, really slow in the beginning. I didn’t have anything to sell to a list except my copywriting services. I would just pitch every email, I’d end it with, “If you want to work with me, click here to get on my waitlist.”
I did that for several months, and started building up a list of a couple hundred, and I was getting some leads coming through from people who are reading those emails and saying, “Yeah, I’d like to work with you.” And during that time, I was starting to put together ideas for my own courses, because it was something I’d always wanted to do. And this sort of gave me the impetus after five years of thinking, “I want to start my own business,” we’re finally like, “Well, the client work is going to go away, and maybe you have a really good opportunity to do it now.”
This is something that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but I had saved up money for that. And I think a lot of people are so desperate to make it work as a copywriter or whatever, they’ll just dive into the next thing. And maybe because I was working with a personal finance guy, but to me, it was always this very conservative approach, I’m going to have six months to 12 months money saved up, so that whatever the next thing I do is, it doesn’t matter if it succeeds or fails, I’m going to be fine. And so, because of that I’d saved up. My wife was still working part time, so I had time to figure things out. I think that’s the thing that most people won’t tell you. It’s like, “I just dived into it, I was sleeping on the couch and then it came true.” It wasn’t like that. It was a very measured and careful thing. So, I didn’t have to sell and conversely that kind of helped. If I were really desperate, you would have seen it in my emails.
I had time to create some products and start building up rapport with a list and as I got better eventually, I started doing my own launches towards the end of 2020 and they started going really well. I remember seeing my first launch of one of my courses where I made in Australian dollars was like 36,000. And I’ve made many, many multiples of that for clients and sales before, that would have been a complete failure at most of the businesses I work for. But then I look at it as my business and I get to keep all that, and I made it all and it’s all my effort. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing ever.” And I think from that point, I was like, “I didn’t really want to go back to serving clients anymore.” That was just too much fun. But that was a decision I made after having taken time to test it out for myself, see what I like, see what fits for me.
Kira: Okay, let’s talk about a few things that stood out from this part of the conversation. Robbie, what stood out to you?
Robbie: The first thing that I really take my hat off to Daniel about, and also suggest that it’s probably a key part of his success is that I think Daniel’s time on that remote island and those brutal surroundings probably served as the perfect mental training. I’m going to sort of play amateur psychologist here. I think there’s a lot to be said, for putting yourself in an environment with very few distractions and just really hardening your brain. And I mean, I’m not saying going live on a remote island. But if you are in any kind of situation that I think resembles Daniel’s surroundings, then that kind of pressure, I think is always going to create diamonds. There’s a sort of industrial mining pun in there. That was my first high five to Daniel on that.
Kira: I wanted to hear more about that remote island experience. I was picturing Jurassic World and the island and just the island there. It sounded pretty dreamy to me, so I was just curious to hear more. I know we talked a lot about Upwork and we kicked off and started there. Robbie, have you had any experience with Upwork? Is that something that you’ve pursued or steered away from?
Robbie: Yes, I have done a few bits and bobs on Upwork. And it can be good. I mean, people do dis it for perfectly fair reasons, but there can be some great, great clients on there. And do you know what, leading on from the point I said a second ago, I think that is also a really great way to harden your mind and cut your teeth copywriting wise. Because not only are you actually doing the work, but just the grind of sending dozens of proposals and just the art of getting those proposals really, really good and taking rejection, that A, it builds your pitching skills, and again, it just builds your mental toughness. Which I think is probably one of the most important skills you will have certainly in business and in life really.
Kira: I think a lot of us have bashed Upwork. I know The Copywriter Club and some of our own messaging, promoting our programs, we’ve bashed Upwork too, but it is a really solid channel for attracting leads. And we’ve seen copywriters who really well with it, and especially Rob Perry. So, Rob Perry is a Think Tank member who’s making six figures off of Upwork and has presented and talked about how to navigate that space. So, I think the power of it is that it’s a really solid lead channel. You can leverage it, especially if it’s not your only lead channel and you have other potential clients may be coming from referrals or maybe cold emails, or maybe some promotions that you’re doing on different podcasts so you’re not solely dependent on one channel, whether it’s Upwork or whether it’s a different channel. Having some variation can help overcome any slower months.
Robbie: Certainly, yeah. And I mean, he also mentioned that he niched down on Upwork as well and I think his whole story is just a huge testament to the power of niching down. But also, what’s great is as he mentioned he niched down but he didn’t limit himself. I think there’s a huge fear before a lot of people niche down and they think I’ll niche down but there’s still loads of other jobs that I want to take on. I don’t want to say no to some other great project. He niched down as a sales page writer, but he still accepted all other kinds of great work once he’d got the clients through the door to begin with.
Kira: Robbie, can you speak to that a little bit more, because that’s what you did in your own copywriting business. You did choose a niche, but I know that you were saying yes to a bunch of different projects. How did you approach it?
Robbie: Yes. Well, to begin with, I was just saying yes to all sorts of things. Weirdly enough, although I was taking everything to begin with, my niche was still sort of clear from day one, because I’ve got a background in video, my degree was animation and motion graphics. And I was also doing a lot of video editing work on the side. Certainly, in the early days that kind of supplement my copywriting business. But I found myself making animated explainer videos for some clients, but since they were SaaS companies, they were like, “Well, hey, you’re a copywriter, we need an email sequence, we need a blog or two.” So, I think as long as you’re just using your bat signal to get people through the door and build trust, you can just have the best of both worlds and take on some really exciting jobs after you’ve got people interested.
Kira: Rob talked to Daniel about growing his list and I know that came up several times throughout the conversation. And Daniel talked about doing that with a list, a list swap and also pitching podcast. And that stood out to me because Daniel did pitch our podcast. And so, I had to look up that pitch because somehow, we dropped the ball on it. So, he did send a pitch on April 28th 2020. It was really clever, well written. It was mostly directed to Rob, so I did feel a little left out. It was like a love letter to Rob and then the PS was like, “Oh, also Kira, what’s up?” But it’s still so well written. And I immediately when it landed in my inbox, I forwarded it to Rob and I said we need to interview him on the podcast. But what typically happens because my inbox is a hot mess, is we just we dropped it. We got busy, distracted, and we never followed up with Daniel. And so, we didn’t book him on the podcast for another over a year.
So, the takeaway for me in that whole interaction was, following up is so critical. And I know in the conversation with Rob, Daniel mentioned that, he was like, “I should have followed up. I did not follow up with you at all.” But that’s my takeaway and my own communication as I’m pitching podcasts and just to anyone who’s listening who is reaching out or sending cold emails to dream clients or pitching your list of podcasts, it’s keep showing up and keep following up. Because oftentimes, it really is a yes. But people just drop it and it gets lost in the inbox. And luckily, we were able to interview Daniel more recently, but we could have missed him completely and it would have been a missed opportunity on both sides.
Robbie: Thank goodness everything worked out. I think there’s often a fear with following up. Certainly for me, you do think you’re bugging someone, and you think you’re spamming them, but at the end of the day, as long as you have a reasonably clear idea of what you’re offering, and what you’re asking for is nice and reasonable. By and large a lot of people aren’t doing that, I like to think. As long as you have that, then there’s just a very nice polite way of asking two, three or four times more as long as it’s not all me, me, me.
Kira: Yeah, and you’re really helping that person as long as you’re not being a jerk, which Daniel clearly was not, you are helping that person that you pitched or reached out to because they may realize it’s important, but it just wasn’t top of mind. And so it’s almost like you’re flagging it for them and helping and if they want to opt out, they’ll opt out. So anyway, reminder to all of us, follow up is key. So this is mostly a reminder to myself. Anything else, Robbie, that you want to cover before we jump back in?
Robbie: Yes. Another thing that I just really liked about the talk was Daniel’s time with Scott just really shows the power of mentorship. And you can skip so much trial and error just by working closely with someone who’s several years ahead of you. And at the very least, it’ll just be a great way of just building relationship with another person in the industry who can help you here and there. And at most, it could be, essentially another university degree.
Kira: Totally. That’s what you’re doing when you went back in house, really, it’s getting more education and getting paid to learn. And you’re right, that’s what Daniel was able to do with Scott, as the director of operations. It’s really just that going really deep with one client, or maybe it’s one or two clients, and understanding the inner workings of their business that gives you so many tools you can use when you want to start your own business, or really focus on your own business. Or it could just help you be a better service provider for all of your clients, because you really understand what it takes to run and grow a business. So yeah, I definitely see the parallel between the two of you and how you’ve approached your own growth and learning. Let’s jump back in to our episode and find out how Daniel was able to grow his list.
Rob: So, you mentioned a couple of things, you did grow your list early on, I’m really curious about how you’ve built your list. Because I think a lot of people start out thinking, “Yeah, I want to do the kind of thing that Daniel has done, how do I even get started? How do I get people on my list? Do I need a lead magnet?” I don’t think you’ve had a lead magnet. Maybe I could be wrong about that. Walk us through exactly what you were doing at each step of the way to get to where you are now, and how big is your list today?
Daniel: It’s 5,000.
Rob: So, from zero to 5,000 in less than 2 years.
Daniel: Yeah, 18 months. So, it’s funny because literally, as we’re talking just last night, I launched my list building course. I’m not plugging that here; I’m not even going to name it. But it’s just funny that you asked me that question now, because I just did that last night.
Rob: Very timely.
Daniel: So, it’s on the brain, as I was doing videos on it yesterday. So, one of the biggest things that I think is never said about this building, is that it’s not going to work the same way for any two people. And this is the big problem I have with anyone’s training. It’s like, “Hey, here’s how I built a list.” That’s irrelevant to almost anyone else. Because I could tell you, for example, early on, Ben Settle offered an offer to his list that any of his paid newsletter subscribers could advertise to his list for 500 bucks, a classified ad. That came quite early in my list building. So, I was able to run an ad and I got about 100, 150 subs from running that ad. And that really snowballed, because many of those leads later on went to refer me to other things. And so, you could look at my journey and say, “Well, that’s lucky for you.” And that’s exactly the point. Everyone has had some kind of luck that biases how their journey went.
So, my approach really has been to focus on, number one, building the relationships that I need to grow a list, because I recognize everyone who’s at the top of this game is connected to all the other people, I need to get there. And the other thing, the main thing that they have is they tend to have this higher status in the industry. There’s sort of this pecking order and then there are copywriters whose names you mentioned, and they’re kind of revered and then there’s other people who are total nobodies. And there are some copywriters you look at their website, they’ve got testimonials from all these big name people. And other copywriters have these testimonials from small business owners they’ve worked with whose name you don’t recognize, and who would you rather listen to?
So those two things were kind of really core pillars driving my strategy. And I was like, “I know things are going to happen differently. I’ve bought other people’s list building product, but they say try podcasting, or try uploading to blogs or something like that. But I know it’s all going to depend on luck and the real thing that’s going to open doors, is connecting to people and elevating my status.” And so those were two main things I focused on doing. So, I was always trying to reach out to people. That’s why I reached out to you guys, I pitched a ton of podcasts in the beginning and didn’t have a lot of luck because I was trying to do that before I built the relationships and the status needed to do that. So, with that underpinning my approach, there were a bunch of things I did. I ran that ad in Ben Settle’s list, I had a few copywriters who I did list swaps with that got me a few hundred.
Rob: And just to be clear, and this is something we’ve talked with a few people in our Mastermind, but list swapping is when you mail your list for somebody else, you say, “Hey, you should really join The Copywriter Club’s list.” And then The Copywriter Club would mail their list, our list and say, “Hey, you should really join Daniel’s list,” that kind of thing.
Daniel: Absolutely. Not like exchanging the email addresses, that would be totally dodgy, doing that. Yeah, absolutely. And I did manage to get on a couple podcasts, which helped out. And those things were, really, as much as most people are going to be able to do in the beginning. And I think the advice to pump out a lot of content is kind of misguided because a lot of the people on these networks who were doing content are already well ahead of you in terms of the algorithm. It’s very hard to get in and rank on Google now, especially in the copywriting space, because you’re fighting against the best people, we’re the people who do this for everyone else. So, if you try and go into copywriting, you are fighting a really hard battle.
So, my view was I’m not going to try and compete on mass of content, I’m not going to try and compete on that sort of thing. I’m going to email my list, good stuff, I’m going to try and build up a reputation and I’m going to connect to as many people as I can. And I say that, and then one of the biggest things I ever did for building a list, and I didn’t start with this deliberately, is that they came up with my welcome sequence, the Parallel Welcome Sequence, which is a really fun thing I did. And I wrote a blog post about it and that went crazy. That got me thousands of subscribers over the next year, because people wanted to opt in and check that out.
And if I did what everyone else did and say, “Look, I built a list by creating a great blog post, just invent your own Parallel Welcome Sequence and write a blog post,” that wouldn’t work for anyone. So that’s sort of the distinction I’m trying to make between what did you do that worked? Well, I can tell you that’s what I did, but is that going to work for everyone else? No, I don’t think so. So, I think you have to map your own journey based on those fundamentals of connecting to people, and then you’re going to have some luck along the way like I did as well.
Rob: I like that approach because I think programs that say, “Hey, this is the pathway to success,” oftentimes don’t work for people because different needs, different circumstances, whatever. And so, figuring it out along the way, is a big part of it. But the part that you didn’t really talk about is the showing up every day. You mentioned that you’re mailing every day, it’s like, you don’t get to where you’re going, unless you actually show up every day and do the work.
Daniel: Yeah, maybe it’s because it’s 5:00 AM that it slipped my mind to say that, or maybe it’s because everyone says that and I didn’t want to give you a soundbite. But yeah, I sent an email every single day, for that first year. I think since then, I’ve taken maybe two Sundays off. But I keep saying I’m going to stop doing daily emails, I want to take some time with my kids and then I keep sending emails on Sunday, so I just can’t help myself. But it was every single day, even when there was no one reading and I knew no one’s reading it, the list is dead, it’s 40 people, they never reply to me. But I’m sitting there, it’s like 9:00 PM, I’m exhausted, I’m like, “Got to write this email.”
Because nothing does happen if you don’t do anything to cause it, I at least knew that moving in some direction is better than not moving. I tried not moving for five years and it had got me a grand total of zero. So, I just had to do something, and at least the daily emails put me in the right direction. I had people say, “You are never going to daily email your way to success,” and now I like feminisms that, “Yeah, how’d that work out for you?” But it wasn’t just the emails and I see where they’re coming from. It’s sending emails to a list, it’s going to grow very slowly but it does open doors for you, it makes things happen, it gives you ideas for content that workouts in other ways. Taking action of some form regularly is really the secret to it, I think.
Rob: And before we leave off your emails and your style, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that sometimes you poke fun of people, I think you’ve set Kira and meet up in a fight with just, at one point in time, and maybe Rob Allen if I remember right. Talk about what you do with your emails, because it’s not 10 ways to make your headlines better, or that kind of stuff.
Daniel: No. Look, I don’t know where it came from. There must just be this really weird side to me that I never knew about. Because when I started writing emails, I was just playing out these crazy fantasies. And so, my Parallel Welcome Sequence, I don’t know if you want to talk about that after.
Rob: Yeah, we’ll get to that in a minute.
Daniel: Okay, cool. Well, because that’s crazy for sure. But even my regular emails, I would just do these strange fight scenes and stuff. As you mentioned, we had that cage fight with you, because you’d said something about Upwork and-
Rob: Was talking about don’t waste time on Upwork.
Rob: You took umbrage at that, yeah.
Daniel: I was coming out with an Upwork course and so we just characterize it as this crazy cage fight where I think you ended up hospitalized.
Rob: I didn’t end up looking very good in those emails, I have to admit.
Daniel: Yeah. I remember getting an email from you saying you were still recovering or something like that, it cracked me up. But yeah, it was kind of this me tapping into the weird side of myself and being like everyone seems so serious when they’re writing about copywriting. People talk about storytelling and they talk about entertainment. But to me, this is me doing it.
I’ll tell you this wild, fictional story. So, I have this email on my welcome sequence that’s talking about whether you should use humor and copy, and I’m contrasting David Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins, who had different views on that. And most people would be like, “Here’s what Hopkins says, here’s what Ogilvy said.” And I was like, “Cool, we’re doing a cage match between them and David Ogilvy is wearing a clown suit, and he’s going to fight Claude Hopkins, who’s like this nine-year-old guy.” And so, they just have a fight and they’re saying their various arguments, and it’s way more engaging.
So, it was kind of a weird thing I came up with, a lot of people then try and copy that and it’s weird, because what’s funny is that I’m doing it something that no one else is doing. And if you go into the same thing, it’s a little strange, but it’s one little list building tip, which I can give to listeners, which is something kind of slightly sneaky that I do, is I will put real people into these scenarios and I will send it to them. And usually, they get a massive kick out of it. I did that to Kim Schwalm. I had her in one of these crazy things, and I forwarded it to Kim. And Kim was like, “This is so funny.” And she gave me a testimonial which I could use on my website after that. So that was a very effective way I used to sort of get on a lot of people’s radars when I wasn’t really well known.
Rob: I think that’s a great tip. So, we’ve teased it, we might as well jump in and talk about the Parallel Welcome Sequence. Tell us what that is, and if we were wanting to use it in our businesses, what do we have to do?
Daniel: Well, what is effectively a way for your reader to skip forward through your welcome sequence by clicking a link. Every email contains a link to get the next day’s email immediately because I email every day, so when you’re in my sequence, you would have got one every day for two weeks. But with the Parallel Welcome Sequence, you can click a button, get the next one immediately. And when you click, I actually call it a time travel remote, but when you tap that time travel remote, you land on a web page, you have to it’s just the way broadcast is set up. But I actually customize the copy on each page so that it’s telling a story that goes in between the emails. And the reason it’s a Parallel Welcome Sequence is those stories are also their own continuity, but not in the same line as the email. So, it’s kind of this parallel storyline.
And the way I set it up, was that it’s set on this fictional remote island with all these horrible monsters that are trying to kill you that represent copywriting things. So, you have for example, the guru, which is a giant nine-foot kangaroo that retargets you everywhere. And you have copywriting hamsters, which are basically people who squeak and copy people. And you have these giant robots, which are the copywriting AI coming to do your jobs. For example, it’s just ridiculous, fun, there’s a lot of ridiculous violence and fighting. And it turns a lot of people off, but that’s the point. Because a lot of people just love it. They think it’s the most fun thing ever.
So, I’ll have many people come up to me to my emails, they’ll email me two hours later. I get emails from people at 3:00 in the morning, they’re like, “I hoped into your email list before I went to bed and it’s 3:00 AM now and I’ve just finished the sequence, I hate you.” But it was so much, because they were just clicking and reading every single thing. And I also worked through all my sales pages and products through all those stories. So, it’s kind of like selling through fictional stories as well, products fictionalized as weapons to fight the baddies. So, it’s all this very fun thing to do and it’s worked out really, really well for me, because no one else had done it when I’d seen that, I kind of came up with that idea and so a lot of people opt in for that.
The second thing you said was, how would we set it up for our business? And I’ll answer that in two ways. The first is the technical way is every email sits in its own campaign and each campaign is triggered either by a click from the previous one, or by a 24 hour delay, whichever comes first. That’s kind of simple. It’s a lot of fiddling us to set up. I wish that there was a system that made it easier, but every email in its own campaign and clicks trigger the next one with a tag. That’s the technical answer.
Rob: And while we’re still talking about technical, what’s the tool that you use for that? What’s the emailer?
Daniel: I set this up in AWeber, but I think AWeber is really basic in its campaign functionality. So, if you can do it with AWeber, you could do it anywhere.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. You could do it ActiveCampaign, Ontraport, I’m guessing even MailChimp, ConvertKit, that kind of stuff.
Daniel: I reckon it’d be easier on those campaigns, AWeber is basic. I’ve just moved over to bazooka mail, which I love, and I think I’ll be able to do it there as well. Because all you need is the ability to apply a tag when a link is clicked. So, it’s that simple. The practical answer is I’ve cautioned people about doing it before because they’re like, “Oh, I want to set up a Parallel Welcome Sequence for my client.” And I say, “Hold on, think about whether that’s the right thing.”
So, here’s the main thing and I think as copywriters listening to this is really important to know, we are in a very, very weird niche. So, for example, I just mentioned I launched a list building course. And what I teach in that course, is totally different to other standard list building advice because there’s so many things that are different about us as copywriters. We’re the only people in the world who see someone saying, “Opt into my email list.” And we’re like, “Yes.” Everyone else is like, “No, no, I don’t want more emails.” But copywriter is like, “Yes, more emails. I want to swipe that. I want to study that.” So, you’ve got some big differences here.
What the Parallel Welcome Sequence does is it puts a bit more focus on the marketing. So as marketers and copywriters we might be interested in that, but you have to be really careful. I had one person say, “Yeah, my client is in the health supplement industry, and I was just going to steal the way you did it and replace it with my product.” He basically said that to me, and I was like, “That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.” My welcome email, it’s crazy, you get kidnapped effectively. And he’s like, he was going to replace the kidnapper with some medical thing. And I was like, “Are you serious? These are 60-year-old women who have rheumatoid arthritis. And their biggest problem is they can’t wash the freaking dishes.” They don’t want to read this story, they just want to be able to wash the dishes without pain.
So sometimes we can get a little too excited with things as copywriters and get really carried away with the marketing and forget the market. So, I would caution people before you go and do it, think about whether it makes sense. It may, because I think the concept has so much potential. One thing I hate about welcome sequences that you can’t skip is they cool you down. They cool down good leads. I’ve been in welcome series where he’s like, “Gave me a thing,” and he’s like, “And tomorrow we’re going to talk about this, stay tuned.” And most copywriters say, “Yeah, that’s great, that’s opening the loop, awesome. You’re going to be waiting for that email.” And I was like, “I want to read it now. I’m here in my inbox now, I’m ready to read it now. But you are not going to give it to me for 24 hours because you have a preconceived way of marketing. By the time this next email came, I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t even read it.
So that’s the big problem, and I think something like a Parallel Welcome Sequence can solve that problem that you can keep new leads warm and engaged. But you have to be careful, don’t write to impress, write to do whatever you’re trying to do, whether that’s sell or convert or whatever. You need to be clear as a copywriter, what’s my goal here? And is just one tool and is this the best tool I could use to achieve that job.
Rob: So, as you look at your list and the numbers behind it then, talk a little bit about the difference between people who go through the parallel sequence versus those who just let the emails coming to the inbox. How does that impact sales of your products?
Daniel: The way I see it, is that the Parallel Welcome Sequence is more about cultivating the superfans. A lot of people will try the link out a couple times, and then they’ll kind of get bored of it and they’ll just sort of leave it and let it run daily as per normal. And that’s fine, because that’s all that would have happened anyway, if I hadn’t got a Parallel Welcome Sequence, so I didn’t lose anything. But there is that fraction of people, a few percent, who will opt in and read every single one in one sitting. Often, they’ll buy something or a couple of things in the first few hours of being on my list, which they definitely wouldn’t have bought, if I just sent them one email. I have some people go through and they spend like $2,000 with me, just going through that welcome sequence, buying everything they see.
And so, it’s about to me building those superfans and turning them up, rather than making everyone more awesome because you can’t make everyone more interested. It’s not for everyone. But it’s about taking the people who really resonate with what I do, and serving them more. And ultimately if you look at your business from an 80/20 perspective, they’re the ones that you want to focus on anyway. So most of my good customers, other people are the kind of people who are eating up the stories in that welcome sequence and saying, “This is crazy. It just blew my mind.” There’s a very strong correlation between those people.
Rob: So, as you have grown your business then over the last 18 months to two years, you’ve made a focus moving away from client work into product work. Have you completely shifted your business now and tell us about the thinking behind that?
Daniel: I haven’t taken on a new client for since I started this email list. And the irony is, once you start an email list, you become more visible and more attractive. Oh, I lied, I did do one job. But on the whole, I have preferred not to. But like I’ve seen, the irony is that more clients more attracted to you. And so, I had a guy come to me several months ago, go through the Parallel Welcome Sequence, by the way. And then he emailed me, and he said, “Look, I have a $50,000 budget, can you come on and redo my welcome series.” So, the $50,000 offer, never was seeing that kind of thing before I had an email list, but I didn’t want to do it. Because ironically, I was having so much fun with my own list and I get to be me in the emails.
And so, I think it’s a good goal to strive for as a copywriter. You don’t have to replace client work. Some people like working with clients and I still work with Scott from time to time because I really gel with his business. But it’s about having that control to me more than anything, about not having to do anything for a client, because that’s when the resentment comes in. It’s not doing client work, because client work can be fun. You don’t have to worry about all the other stuff in a business, you just get to write. So in theory, it’s really good but when you have to do something you kind of resent it. And even if you don’t want to replace your client work, being in the position where you don’t have to do it makes everything more fun because you just have the power. No one could email you, Rob, and be like, “I need this by tomorrow.” You’d say, “Get stuffed, I’m not doing that.” I need this.
Rob: Kira might email me that, but anybody else, no, that’s not happening.
Daniel: Exactly and that makes things a lot more fun. I view clients like cats. I had cats for several years and I didn’t know I was allergic to them. I just thought I had perennial hay fever, perpetual hay fever, that’s what I told everyone. They’re like, “You’re always sneezing.” I’m like, “I’ve got hay fever all year round.” And then when I had kids, and I wasn’t spending as much time with cats and I was like, “Ah,” I said to my father-in-law, “Do you want to take my cats because, I’m not giving them as much love as I used to, they’re just kind of lonely.” So, I gave them to him, and the hay fever stopped. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, I was allergic to the cats and I never knew.”
It was like that with clients. I didn’t realize how much I hated working with clients until I stopped working with them. And I was like, “Oh my goodness, that stress which pervaded my life is gone.” I actually wake up and I’m like, “Oh, yes, it’s Monday. Yes, I get to work on my business.” And that’s truly what it’s like when I wake up on days when I get to work on my business. It’s just awesome and I’m excited for it, and I didn’t always feel that about client work. That’s going to be different. I don’t want to be the guy who’s like, “Oh, you suck as doing client work. You’re idiots and you need to break free,” because I think that can be a lot of fun. But for me, I just enjoy doing my own thing more.
Rob: So, let’s talk about how you do your own thing. What does a typical day look like for you?
Daniel: Well, like was talking about before, I’m usually up at quarter past 4:00 in the morning.
Rob: It’s a little early. I mean, I’m an early riser, but quarter past 4:00, no way.
Daniel: And I hate it, I just want to say I hate it. I’d be happy I’d wake up at 5:00, but waking up at 4:15 I hate. And the reason is I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old and they wake up at 6.30. And if I want any private time, it’s going to be in the morning. So, I have to get up and I’ll get up and I will do all the important things that freshen me up. I will do a workout, I will study my Bible, I will read, do a bit of language study, play the piano, whatever, get all those things, high performance things, whatever, doing in the morning. And by the time 9:00 AM rolls around, all that stuff’s done and I feel like I’m winning. I’ve done all the cool stuff.
So then after that, I get to kind of power through whatever. Usually, I work on whatever course or product I’m working on next. And I will block my emails. Most days I use a software called SelfControl, and oh my gosh, I so recommend that, SelfControl. It just totally kills your internet for any website you say, “I found ways to get around everything else, I’m like a hopeless addict.” But SelfControl is the one app I haven’t been able to defeat. And I’m scared to try because I read the FAQs, it’s like, “If you try and disable this, you could screw up your computer, so don’t even try.” It’s like, “Okay. I’m okay, I’ll wait.”
So, I’m blocking the emails off until after midday, which means I can get some work done on a course. Then I’ll look at my inbox, see if I get some inspiration. I’ll write a daily email to my list around 1:00 or 2:00 PM is usually the best time for me. If I try too early, I’ve got no ideas, if I do it too late, I can’t think. So, around afternoon is the best time for me. But then I’ll schedule that email to go out at 4:30 AM my time, just because I found that gets the best engagement with my list. So, I’ll schedule it before I go to bed.
And I’ll usually try not to work after 5:00 PM because one of the downsides of work being fun is that you can do too much of it. My kids are young, I want to spend time with them. They’re not going to be young forever. So, I have to really kind of rip myself away from it sometimes. And just be like, “There are more important things. The work is always going to be there, but the kids are not always going to be two years old.”
Rob: Yeah, for sure. I feel that as all my kids are leaving for college now. So, listeners are going to pick up very easily that you are in Australia, you’ve mentioned it a couple of times, would you say there are differences between writing for the audience you write for Australians in particular, I know your audience is more worldwide than that, but differences writing for Australians versus Americans? And if there are, tell us about those.
Daniel: I would say that in what I’m doing, there is no real difference. In the copywriting market that I’m writing to, I don’t really treat Australians any differently. If anything, my main audience is Americans because, frankly, they’re just more of them. 10 times bigger country than Australia. And so, it’s kind of rare that I get ozzies on my list. When I was working for the Barefoot Investor, however, there was certainly a very Australian flavor to what we were doing, partly because we were in the financial market. And so, there were regulations, country specific and so on. And that’s obvious.
But there definitely was the character, and I mentioned this before, I think it’s a really important thing when you’re building your own list and brand. Having this character that you project is so important, where people are get to know you and who you are. And I think that’s one of the cornerstones of the way I do things. But Scott’s character because I said I learned a lot of how to do this for him, he is a very ozzie guy. He lives on a farm, has sheep running around in the paddocks and so on. And so, there was a lot of using ozzie slang and so on, that he does. And frankly, he inspired me to do that more. Because as an Australian, I heard once people breaking down what different accents mean? British people with received pronunciation, they sound smart. And Australians sound cool or something like that. I don’t know if that’s true, but-
Rob: Australian comes across with the party guy accent, I think.
Daniel: Right? And so, I was like, “I’m wasting it. I’m wasting this branding, if I don’t have an Australian flavor.” Because frankly, there aren’t that many Aussie copywriters out there. There are some, but they’re not that many. And you usually assume they’re from the US. So, I was like, I would be wasting this if I don’t start sprinkling some Australian things throughout. So, I will deliberately make Australian references. In an email the other day, I was like, I was a happy little Vegemite. And I don’t know if that makes any sense to an American, but it’s a very famous Australian ad that we’re happy a little veggie mites. And so, I don’t think I treat the people differently. But I do draw on the culture a lot more. But on the whole, I don’t think there’s a different way to sell to them.
One thing I will say is I had a student ask, he was writing for an Australian company. And he’s like, “I’m trying to use Australian lingo, what should I do?” And I actually said, “Just don’t.” Don’t try and be Australian because that’s the worst thing you could do if you’re not ozzie and you’re trying to be ozzie. And I read through and I can see he’s googled 50 ozzie phrases, and there’s just things that I’ve never heard before. I was like, “What does this mean?” He’s like, “Ah, that’s some Australian phrase.” I was like, “Mate, we’ve never said that.” I’ve never heard a single person say that. It was something at 10 paces or something like that. He’s like, “Oh look, I got it off this website.” I was like, “Just talk normally.” Most Australians don’t talk, they’re not like, “Yeah. Mike Chapman, you’re the guy that said I got to sing if I ever shrimp on the barbie, whatever.” Whatever that stereotype is, it’s not really like that. So don’t think there is a huge difference, no.
Rob: That’s, I guess good to know for those who are wondering. So, Daniel, tell us what’s next for you as you grow your business? Where’d you go from here?
Daniel: Well, as soon as I can get out of Australia, because we’re closed, currently the borders are closed, we can’t go anywhere.
Rob: Good luck with that. What we keep hearing, I’m guessing maybe another year before you guys are set?
Daniel: Well, Sydney will be out of it by the end of the year, but actually, in Western Australia we’re the hermit kingdom, we won’t be until probably mid next year. I would love to kind of attend some more events, and so on. And as my business has gotten better, I can easily justify that now. Whereas earlier on in my career, flying to the US, for a copywriting event where they all are, I wouldn’t have made a lot of sense. I kind of wanted to get into that next year, I’m hoping to because it makes sense for me now where I’m at. I want to keep growing my listening audience, that’s kind of the main thing I want to do. And I have this map in my head of all the products I want to make.
One of the missions I’m on is to make the best copywriting product in every area that I launch one in, because so many people make products just for themselves, just to make money, and they’ll sit there and they’ll just talk in front of a screen. And I’m not throwing shade at everyone in the industry because I’m talking to someone in the industry. For example, I took a couple of 10X programs from Joe Ipe. And they were so good, some of the best things I’ve taken, honestly.
And so, my vision is to, I have a few ideas, I don’t want to be an authority on everything, because I’m not, there are a few things that I’m really good at. And I want to have the most thoughtful approach and take on those things. So, I’m working on creating this library of courses, the downside is I take like six months to nine months to make a course on something because of that, because I’m such a perfectionist. This list building course I just launched, I started working on it six months ago, and I thought it would take me one month it’s taken me six, but it’s really thoughtful now because I keep coming up with better ideas and better models. So, I want to create this sort of library of courses. When I get to the end of that, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I guess maybe my contribution to copywriting will be done then.
Rob: You can move back to engineering and-
Daniel: Oh, goodness no.
Rob: ... fix the desert camps. Yeah, figure that out. Well, if you’re able to come, our next event is going to be in April of 2022, so maybe you can get free of Australia and join us-
Daniel: That’s going to be dicey. But if I can, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Rob: We’ll have to get to there. I think that’d be great. Daniel, thanks for taking some time to share so much about your business. If somebody wants to connect with you, or get on the list, or go through the Parallel Welcome Sequence, where should they go?
Daniel: Persuasivepage.com is where you can opt in. It’s very simple because all I do on that website is chase the opt in, probably a kind of an instructive and how I do list building, I guess to look at that website, count the opt in boxes.
Rob: I like it. Cool. Thanks, Daniel. Appreciate your time.
Daniel: Thank you so much, Rob.
Kira: That’s the end of our interview with Daniel. But first, let’s share a few big ideas from this part of the conversation. So, Robbie, why don’t you kick it off?
Robbie: Yes. So, one thing that really jumped out to me was his point about everyone’s path to success just being different, and different experts’ advice working on different students. It kind of reminds the course nerd in me, that no course should be treated as gospel. I think we can often kind of look at courses and think, “Oh, God, I’ve got to do that. I’ve got to do that. I’ve got to do that.” I mean, there’s some great courses out there, don’t get me wrong. And all good courses, I think have got some good nuggets of wisdom in there.
This might just be me, but I think that some people might feel sort of slightly guilty or complacent if they’re not doing more courses than they already are. I think just hearing what Daniel had to say, just gave me a sort of calm reminder that if you find one or two courses or a few bits of information that is really, really gel with you and you think you can really, really see a huge amount of value in, there’s nothing particularly wrong about just only living with that information for quite a long period of time, just really implementing it and studying it.
Kira: I think what stood out to me from this part of our chat was just really how it’s important to not just do something differently, and kind of own you’re weird, but it’s important to talk about that. And I think that’s the missing piece. It’s like Daniel did is read a lot of things differently in his business. And he talked about his Parallel Welcome Sequence. So take that, for instance, it’s something that is different in the marketing space, it grabs our attention, it gets people talking. But he also pinpointed it and pointed at it to say, “Here’s something I’m doing differently.” And he wrote a blog post about the thing he’s doing differently.
So, I think it’s worth noting that we don’t have to all do what he’s doing. We don’t want to do what he’s doing, but if you can do something that’s slightly differently, and we’re all doing something differently, it’s just oftentimes we overlook it. If you can take that part of your business, whether it’s your style and how you write, or it’s actually more of your marketing tactics, or something else, take that and then put a magnifying glass on it, and talk about how you’re doing that differently and draw attention to it.
And I think this is where many of us, we do a lot of cool things in our business and for our clients and we get great results, but we just gloss over it and move on to the next thing. And that’s what I really appreciate about Daniel, is he doesn’t move on to the next thing. He talks about it, he’s like, “Here’s what I’m doing differently and here’s the impact of that and here’s why,” and digs a little bit deeper. So, I think that’s something that I could do better too.
Robbie: He goes and has fictionalized cage matches, I mean. Yeah, I mean, I really like his whole Parallel Welcome Sequence, thought that was great. I do think that his approach to building and engaging with his super fans, is I think the way to go. I think if you really want to build super fans, you do have to be maybe a little bit divisive. I’m sure there are loads of exceptions to that. But if I can think of, and I’m not just talking about in the sort of copywriting or business space, if I’m thinking about art and music and all other kinds of things, you’ve got to really be out there and stand for something. And if that’s having fictionalized cage match critique Claude Hopkins and David Ogilvy, having copywriting houses and all that, then great, I think that is definitely the source of all his super fans.
Kira: I mean, that’s where I’ve heard his name more recently too, because he has super fans, they’re all talking about him. And what he’s also done well is creating binge worthy content. And so that seems like the key to building that super fandom. It’s giving them what they want, when they want it. And I know that’s part of his Parallel Welcome Sequence is, if people want to binge his content and read it all up front, he’s giving them a way to do it. And so, listening to that, I don’t need to write his Parallel Welcome Sequence, but I could look at other ways in my own business, I could create opportunities for my super fans to binge my content. And that could be many different things. And so that could be a podcast, that’s one way, but there are so many different ways. And so, I liked the way that he approached that in his email sequence to make it binge worthy. And again, that’s an ingredient to creating those super fans.
I also found that I wrote down a lot of quotes from this part of the conversation with Daniel. I found a lot of them, probably more than I typically do. But a couple that stood out to me, I like that he mentioned moving in some direction is better than not moving at all. And that really spoke to me, because so often times we do get stuck. And we’re like, “I don’t have all the answers, so I can’t move forward.” And the key from a lot of people we’ve interviewed at least on the podcast is they’re constantly trying different things. They’re playing with different ideas or experimenting, some of it works, some of it doesn’t work, but they don’t really stop and just hit pause very frequently. They’re continuing to kind of iterate and improve and try new things. So that piece is something that I need to remind myself of as well.
Robbie: There have been times in my life when I’ve actually considered getting just do it tattooed on me somewhere. But I mean, that’s only a couple of degrees away from I’m loving it or some other corporate slogan, so that would be-
Kira: I think you should do that, Robbie. I think that’s-
Robbie: Well, I may find a way of sort of tattooing that sentiment on me without being a piece of Nike marketing.
Kira: But you live in that way too, and I know that because I know you. At least it seems like you’re trying things constantly and you’re not really scared of it not working.
Robbie: Yeah. I mean, it probably helps that I don’t have a family to support. I think maybe I’d be a bit more conservative. I’m still a relatively wild man. But that’s always been the way I’ve liked to live really. Not that I’m going and riding motorcycles with no helmet or anything, but I think life’s too short not to do things like this. Coming back to something that Daniel said, life’s too short to be just totally beholden to client work though, as well. I love how much emphasis he puts on product work. When you’re your own client, and you have a solid income stream outside of client work, you can do some of the best client work ever, because you’ve got your product income coming in. And you only take jobs that you’re really, really keen on, and you’re not up till 5:00 AM writing blog posts that you’d rather not be writing and things like that. I think that’s the key to just living the most fulfilling life and creating most fulfilling business possible.
Kira: And he owns it too. I mean, he just is like, “I want to focus on my business. That’s what I enjoy the most.” And I feel like there’s sometimes a little bit of, I wouldn’t say it’s shame, but I feel like some of the copywriters we talked to, they’re like, “I feel like I need to constantly work on client work otherwise, who am I to call myself a copywriter?” And especially once you move into more teaching and creating products, there’s also that feeling of like, “I need to constantly be working on the client project. Otherwise, how do I have credibility to even put a product out there, especially if I’m selling to copywriters?”
There’s something legit about that, you need to understand and be a practitioner to teach and to create products and to understand how to help people. But also, there’s this great freedom in being able to really focus on your own business where you can do what Daniel said, and you can say yes to what you want to say yes to, you don’t have to be in a position where you’re saying yes when you don’t want to, because you have other revenue streams that you can control. And so, for me, I see it as control as well. And I love that Daniel’s just kind of owning that and jumping fully into it, and saying yes to only the projects he wants to say yes to. And so that’s been really key for me and my business too. I only want to say yes to what I’m excited about and that’s it at this stage. I’m lucky enough to be at that stage where I can do that. It’s taken a while to get there. But it’s something to aspire to for sure.
Robbie: Yeah, that’s brilliant. I mean, as long as you’re writing copy, as long as you’re just stringing beautiful words together and getting results, then I don’t think it strictly has to be for copywriting clients, it could be for your own products, it could for an affiliate site, it could be for all kinds of things. It’s all the same art, I think so. All the power to Daniel and anyone else who lives that way.
Kira: It was pretty funny, I enjoyed it when he mentioned having been allergic to cats and he didn’t know. He had cats and he didn’t know he was allergic to cats until much years later. And so, I appreciated that reference to he didn’t realize how much he hated working with clients until he stopped. It’s the same way. It’s worth trying different things in your business to see what you like and what you don’t like. And sometimes you really have no idea until you try it. I’m curious, we did talk to Daniel about his morning routine that comes up frequently in our podcast, and he’s part of the 4:00 AM club. I have been in the past, I’m not currently part of that club. So, I’m just wondering, Robbie, what is your morning routine look like?
Robbie: I used to be part of 4:00 AM club as well until I realized that sort of feeling sleepy at 3:30 PM was not an optimal way to live. These days I’m more sort of 6:00 or 6:30 depending on how busy the day is. I’m still a morning person. A big change in my morning routine recently is I don’t drink coffee anymore. I can’t because of these rather irritating gut complications I have. So, I neck about two pints of water first thing in the morning, I find that it’s just as effective as coffee and unlike coffee, you just start the day very hydrated.
And it’s a great way if you’re the kind of person that sort of doze around a bed a bit too easily, which I have been in the past, if your alarm goes and you just have a few glasses of cold water pretty quickly, that is just the ultimate little shaker rue. So that’s how I start and then I just get right into a lot of exercise. That is just what buzzes me for the day, there’s no better feeling. Days that I don’t exercise, it’s like I haven’t taken medication. I don’t work nearly as well, I’m not nearly as good a mood. So just very, very normal boring answer, loads of water, loads of exercise first thing in the morning. I’m usually working by sort of 8:30 or 9:00.
Kira: Well, I’m such a morning routine geek. I’m like, “Oh, wow, water. This is so new. I’ve never heard this before.” I will drink more water, Robbie. After listening to you, I’m going to drink more water when I wake up.
Robbie: Oh, and cold showers as well, forgot to mention. I mean, that’s still water based. But yeah-
Kira: No, I’m not doing that.
Robbie: Try Kira, seriously. If you do 90 seconds of ice-cold water after your regular shower, you come out feeling like Superman or Superwoman or something super. Yeah, it’s great.
Kira: So sorry, you start warm, and then
Robbie: Yeah, I have a normal shower, and then I have about sort of 90 seconds to two minutes, depending on my mood of just ice-cold water. You get used to it pretty quickly. Lots of health benefits to it, all good global cold shock proteins, I think they’re called.
Kira: All right, Robbie, I’m doing it. I’ll report back. And before we officially wrap this, I’m just going to go back to what Daniel shared towards the end of the conversation about where he wants to focus going back to control, having control over his business and feeling excited about it. And also, just understanding where he is in his own life. I know he mentioned stopping and ending his day at 5:00 PM because he’s got a two and a four-year-old. So, I just like what he shared about work will always be there, but having a two and a four-year-old, that will not always be the phase he’s in. And so that resonated with me because I’m stopping my workday quite early these days because I have young kiddos and they’re not going to be so young, and they’re going to be teenagers soon. So, I value that we can do that in our own businesses. That is the best part of running your own business. And so, I’m glad he mentioned that in our conversation.
Robbie: Yeah, that freedom is really quite inspiring. That’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. We’d love to hear from you. If you liked what you heard, leave a review on Apple podcasts.
Kira: And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to listen to episode 251 with Laura Belgray about stepping into your own voice and episode 222 with Brandi Mowles about building a business from scratch. Thanks to you, Robbie, for cohosting with me today. If any copywriters listening want to connect with you, chat with you, hang out with you, where should they go?
Robbie: Find me on LinkedIn these days. If you just give me a search on LinkedIn, Robbie King. I’m connected with probably a bunch of people that you might already be connected with if you’re a regular listener, or just go to linkedin.com/helloimrobbieking, spelt R-O-B-B-I-E K-I-N-G.
Kira: If you’re ready to invest in yourself and your copywriting business and achieve those big scary goals, visit copywriterthinktank.com. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next week.