Erika Lyremark, known as the “business whipstress,” is our guest for the latest episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Like a few of our other guest experts, Erika doesn’t call herself a copywriter, but she has written her own copy (it’s good) in the past and knows a bit about the business struggle copywriters go through. So Kira and Rob asked her about:
• how she became the “business whipstress”
• her red carpet dream and how to find yours
• how to get clarity around “your thing” in your space
• the importance of clearing clutter (real and imaginary)
• the types of clients she works with and the problems she helps them solve
• the three things to focus on when developing products
• Erika’s creation process and how she goes from idea to glamorous products
• why it’s important to get outside of your bubble when creating your brand
• the biggest takeaways from each step of her career path
• how discipline and structure contribute to her success
• why she doesn’t call herself a copywriter even though she writes a lot of copy
• two things you need to do to establish your authority
• how to get better at selling (and why you should)
• boundaries and how to get comfortable with them
Sounds pretty good, right? We think you’ll like this one. To hear it, click the play button below, or download it to your favorite podcast app. Readers scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Think Like a Stripper (Erika’s book)
Mark’d Mastery (Erika’s business program)
Erika on Instagram
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
Rob: This podcast is sponsored by The Copywriter Underground.
Kira: It’s our new membership, designed for you, to help you attract more clients and hit 10K a month consistently.
Rob: For more information or to sign up, go to thecopywriterunderground.com.
Rob: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two, to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You are invited to join the club for episode 111, as we chat with author and business coach, Erika Lyremark about how she became a business whipstress, what it takes to truly stand out, writing great copy, even though she doesn’t call herself a copywriter and what she has done to up level her business.
Kira: Welcome Erika.
Rob: Hey Erika.
Kira: I’m so happy to have you here. You have been a mentor to me for years before I even started my copywriting business so I feel like this is just such a great place to be with you right now.
Erika: Well I am very thrilled to be here as well.
Kira: All right. Let’s start with your story. How did you end up as a business whipstress?
Erika: I don’t think that was on my list of occupations when I was a young lady. I wanted to be a race car driver, I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I always knew that I wanted to be in charge. Like no matter what I was doing, it’s like if I’m not in charge, I actually don’t do well. I’m a terrible employee, but if I know that I’m in charge, I actually excel at that. So, I mean, long story short, I’m super nerdy, I love learning. I’m hardcore Type A, I’m super driven. I’ve always been really really motivated in my life. I’m also highly creative. I’ve always been really creative. I’m very much left brain, right brain split, so there’s one side or the other. It’s constantly arguing with the other side.
In the 1990s I was a stripper for nine years out in Seattle, Washington, where I live now and in 2001, I left the industry and I moved back to Minneapolis, which is where I grew up, and started a commercial real estate company with my dad. It was really … there was no intention behind it. It was like, dad I need I job and he’s like, okay, I’ll give you a job. Just I really want to help you quit stripping and it turned into creating a multi-million dollar commercial real estate investment company, which is still around. I’m no longer involved in the day to day details of it, but I’m still a partner in the company. In 2003, 2004 I loved what I was doing, but I didn’t feel stretched creatively and I felt like I had more to give, and what I know about myself is that once I figured something out, I had to do something. I tend to get bored, so it wasn’t the kind of career where I could really pour my heart and soul into what I was doing, it was really missing that super high glam, super highly creative side of myself, so I started to think about what else I could do.
Long story short, I got this idea from, believe it or not I’m actually embarrassed to say this now, but watching the reality TV show, The Apprentice. The first time I ever watched it, I saw how much the entrepreneurs were struggling and I was like, oh my God, I could totally become a coach and I could help entrepreneurs kick ass. So, that was my original idea. It started out with, I’m going to have a reality TV show, but I don’t have any media training. I live in Minneapolis. You know the internet didn’t really exist back then, you know there’s no social media, so I really was starting with just like this crazy ass dream and this desire in my heart to make a difference and to really do something that I felt like I could really succeed at and it took me seven years to transition into my own company. I went in full time in my own company in 2011 and I’ve been going strong ever since then.
Rob: So Erika, I think you know that … we gave away your book at our event in New York, in fact I think you provided those books for the people who were there, which is awesome. As I was reading through your book, you talk a lot about the red carpet dreams. Over and over, it was like pursuing the red carpet dreams. Will you talk a little bit about what the meaning of the red carpet dream is and how important that is for what you have done in your career as well as what maybe we should be aiming for in ours?
Erika: Yeah I think people always need a larger vision, a dream that’s bigger than them. Something that pulls them, something that pushes them. I think by nature humans are lazy and unmotivated and I feel like the reason I’ve always been motivated and not lazy is because I have a big imagination. I’ve just always been willing to go there. Like I can see things for other people that they cannot see. You know, Kira was talking about she’s been a client of mine for a long time, and I just see potential and possibility in people everywhere I go and so it’s really important for people to play in the role of imagination and to think bigger. It doesn’t mean that you have to be working super-duper hard, so you’re killing yourself and you’re not sleeping at night, and you’re not taking care of yourself. But I think it’s really important for people to have something that they’re working toward, something that drives them, something that motivates them. There’s definitely been times in my life where I was no longer in alignment with my red carpet dream and so I suffered as a consequence of that. So as part of my own survival strategy and my own success plan, it’s always really important for me to have big dreams and have big goals, and to have big desires.
Kira: Erika, you know you mentioned that you knew from the beginning, probably from a young age, that you loved to be in charge. That’s how you run your business, that’s why people love you, because they want you to tell them what to do and so they pay you for that, happily. You had that clarity early on, but I feel like a lot of copywriters still are trying to figure that out. Like, what do I do well? What should be my thing within the copywriting space? So what advice would you give to them when they’re struggling to figure out what that is?
Erika: Well something that has helped me immensely is to develop viewpoints and what is your way of doing things? When I realized that I had this particular way of moving through the world that was unique to the way other people moved through the world, I mean it’s me being bossy. I’ve been bossy my entire life. When people say, I’m not bossy, I’m the boss, I’m like, no I’m bossy and I’m the boss. It’s just really being unapologetic about who you are and not everybody is bossy, but everybody has a different way or a different way that they move through the world. So, I’ve almost always had some sort of copywriter on retainer or hired copywriters for different projects to help me.
As you know, Kira, I run a ton of copy in my business and there’s just no way that I could do everything that I do all by myself. There’s a writer that I work with from time to time, I used to work with her more in the past. Her name’s Elle, and Elle is this fantastic researcher. I was like Elle, what do you think about this, or what’s your view point on this? And she will come back with the most incredible report because research is a huge gift that she has. So it’s really paying attention and looking for the gifts that you have and then being unapologetic about them, and then developing viewpoints as a result of that.
For people who just meet me, it’s very easy for someone to say, oh she knows who she is and she knows what she wants, but it took me a long time to be who I am, and a huge part of that is developing the viewpoint, it’s being unapologetic about who you already are and then being more of that person and then also one of my firm beliefs and one of my firm values is clearing clutter. Whether that’s energetic clutter, whether that’s physical clutter. I believe we already are who we are, but most people are surrounded by a ton of clutter. Sometimes that clutter is stories they tell themselves or outdated beliefs or unproductive patterns or habits. So really understanding and exploring, and investing in yourself of like what are the things that truly hold me back, and learning to let go of those things and learning how to eliminate them because the truth of who you are already exists, but most people are just shrouded in clutter and you really have to do the work to let go of all of that.
Rob: Erika, will you tell us a little bit about your business today? Like who is your ideal client and what’s the problem that you helped them solve?
Erika: So, my take on ideal clients is more about psychographics, so it’s more about who they are in the world, then how they move through the world, and is there a connection with that. So, obviously I work with women and I love, love, love working with women. I’m able to just develop a really, deep, solid connection with them that feels like friendship. It’s feels like mentorship, it feels like peer to peer. So I love women that I can collaborate with, women that bring their own ideas to the table, women who are really hungry for their own success. Women who value self-expression. Women who want to be more self-expressed. Women who value freedom. Women who want to have success on their own terms. So that’s kind of the gist of the kind of women that I’m attracted to and the problems that I help them solve, it’s changed over the years, but it’s always come back to confidence in one’s own opinions. Confidence in self-expression.
Now I really specifically focus on product confidence. I have a program called Triple Expert, and in that program, it’s a four week course, I help them take their signature product, or their signature service and we develop it and we get them really really confident, so that they feel super confident in what they’re selling and marketing.
Then I have a business accelerator called Mark’d Mastery, and in that we focus on marketing and sales and putting that plan into action and holding them accountable to that.
Kira: Let’s talk about the product confidence because so many copywriters who put products out there and services out there and we may not feel confident in it, especially early on, and we may not be charging what we want to charge. So what steps would you give us to really work on that product confidence.
Erika: The three things that I would have everyone focus on, the first is called eliminate to illuminate. So it’s eliminate anything that holds you back. You really really have to get intentional about eliminating, eliminating, eliminating, eliminating. Again, I really believe that we are who we already are. We are born that person. We just will become more of who we are as life goes on. I really believe in eliminating clutter and distractions from one’s life so that your true art and your self-expression and your creativity can come out. I also feel that every copywriter has their own unique way of doing things. So really owning and developing your own methodologies and your own ideologies, and your own ways that you do your best work, and really seeing your business as more of a craft then, actually a craft and an art, rather than this is my business and this is how move through the world.
There’s a lot of pressure that people put on themselves once they put on their business pants. And sometimes that’s important, but I would say that’s only important like 10 percent of the time and the rest of the time I encourage people to put on their creative pants, or their big imagination pants and really develop the viewpoints and then really get clear on, again what I call their perfect partners, of like what kind of clients can they really really partner with. I don’t think anybody when they’re doing their art, when they’re creating beautiful pieces of work, I don’t think anybody wants to just be the copywriter for hire. Maybe some people really like that, but I encourage people to find clients and customers who are similar to them, people they really get along with, people that they feel like they’re a part of their team and they are a contribution, like each person’s the contribution to the other person.
Rob: Erika would you talk a little bit about your creation process. Like how do you go from that rough idea to finished, glamorous product at the end? What does that whole process look like?
Erika: Well, you know, it’s part of my life. It’s beauty and glamour and doing things well, really is a part of … it’s part of my value system, so like my home, I try to make my home as beautiful as possible. I try to wear the best clothes that I can. I always try to be as put together as possible, because that makes me feel amazing. I try to be in alignment with what everybody sees out there on the internet, as much in alignment as possible in my own world, so I really do value beauty and glamour.
Not everybody values that, so it’s really about what you value, bringing more of that into the marketplace. So a lot of times for me, you know I love fashion magazines, I’ve always loved fashion magazines, so I look at a ton of fashion magazines. I look at a ton of home décor magazines, like Architectural Digest and Veranda. So lots and lots of physical copies of magazines.
I get a lot of inspiration from shopping. I get a lot of inspiration from reading about the business of fashion. I love learning about technology and how technology helps people enhance their creativity and doing a lot of yoga, a lot of meditation. I have a ton of conversations with the universe and I’m always looking for, what’s the Erika way, what’s my way? What are my viewpoints around this? And really how can I have a ton of fun with this?
Kira: So if someone’s listening and they’re like, okay, well that’s part of your brand, it’s part of who you are, glamour, fancy, fashion, but it’s not my audience, it’s not who I am. What would you say to them? Why is this important to pay attention to fashion, or just to other industries period. To get out of your bubble?
Erika: Well again, I think you have to test out what inspires you. So its like I know, with like my dad who’s not a copywriter, but I’m just using him as an example, because he’s not inspired by shopping. He doesn’t look at fashion magazines, but he’s a highly, highly creative person. He makes furniture, he refinishes boats. He has like this huge imagination, but it’s in a completely different form than what I do. So when you surround yourself with things that you love and things that inspire you, you’re naturally going to be more inspiring and you’re going to be more motivated and you’re going to be more creative to create your own art.
Kira: I’d love to hear about the evolution of online marketing, because you’ve been in this space for a while, I don’t have the exact number of years, but I know your business has evolved. You’ve seen people kind of come and go, and then some people stick around. So I’d love to hear more about what’s working today? What is critical as an online business owner? And, maybe even what’s not working that may have worked a year ago or five years ago?
Erika: When I went full time in my business in 2011, I mean you could spend $50.00 on a Facebook ad and make like several thousand dollars. So I would say that everything is a lot more complicated and technology is definitely more complicated, but once you really understand technology, it can really work in your favor. So technology’s always going to be changing. What worked yesterday as far tactics and tools, online technology, that’s always going to be changing and I do believe that it’s important to keep up with that, but now I just … I recommend that people find a platform that they love.
I love Instagram, I’m hardly ever on Facebook. I have Facebook groups, but for the most part I never go into my personal feed, I don’t post things on there, I really, really love Instagram. But I think what’s most important to pay attention to is human relationships. That is never going to go away, no matter how much technology there is out there. Personally inviting people to work with you or to hire you, I do believe is one of the best ways to grow a business, to have strong human connections with other people. I definitely believe in the power of, you see someone, you love what they’re up to, sending them a beautifully written email or even a note in the snail mail and saying, hey, I love what you do, and I would love to work with you, I’d love to write for you. If you’re hiring or if you are going to hire, please keep me in mind, and then following up with that person.
So there’s definitely something to be said about human relationships. That’s never, ever going to go away, human connection. You have to be really connected to yourself. There’s a lot of people who I’ve met, they’re quote, unquote, internet famous, and in person they don’t know how to have a conversation, they seem so unhappy, they’re super awkward, and those people are always going to be reliant upon technology to do the job for them. But I believe that when you really can be yourself and you’re comfortable being the very best version of you, that’s when you’re going to have the most fulfillment in your business. You are going to be completely satisfied. You are going to love what you do.
I think of my friend, Alexandra Franzen, she’s not on social media at all, and she has a thriving writing business and she really is someone who’s so good at the human connection.
Rob: Erika, you know as I was listening to you tell your story, the career path that you went through, you’ve got to have one of the most interesting career paths of anyone that I’ve ever talked to, you know going from being a stripper to real estate mogul, to author and the business coach. I’m curious, from each of those different stops on your career path, what are the biggest take aways that you had or the best lessons learned that we could apply to our businesses or the copywriters listening can take away and apply to their businesses?
Erika: Yeah. Well, when I was stripping, you work with a room full of your competitors. We have similarities to that online but most people are not in the exact same room as the people they’re competing against. So when I was stripping, I really got that the only competition I had was myself. So if I wasn’t showing up to work being happy and fun and having a good time, I wasn’t going to make money.
So, it’s really important for me to be like the only competition I have is myself. Don’t pay attention to what anybody else is doing. Show up. Do a good job. Do my very best. Be happy, be fun, be outgoing. Show the customers a good time. So I really learned that it was really, really important to come from this place of I’m here to have a good time and I also want you to have a good time as well.
When I worked in commercial real estate, it was similar in the fact that I didn’t pay attention to what other commercial real estate brokers were doing. I didn’t hang out with commercial real estate brokers. I very much lived in a bubble. I feel like that’s a huge part of my success today is I really just pay attention to what I’m into and to what I like and to what I love and of course, developing myself as a business woman. Developing myself as a coach and as an entrepreneur.
In commercial real estate it was definitely don’t pay attention to ‘ best practices’. Also, that I was always willing to make one more phone call than the other guy or gal. Even in the height of the recession our buildings maintained a 98 percent occupancy rate, which is great in any economy. We really had to work hard for that. We had a lot of vacancies during that time. People turned over but we filled our spaces really, really fast because we were willing to do what other people were not willing to do.
I think that’s also key for anybody’s success. I think of Kira, I mean, she has done very well very quickly. I also know that she is one of those people that is willing to do what other people are not willing to do. So I think Kira is a great example of that. Then really following your gut and following your own intuition. That’s really hard to develop if you’re so focused on what everybody else is doing.
Another key to my success is I do have a lot of quiet time. I spend a ton of time in silence. Sometimes it’s in meditation. Sometimes it’s just no external noise. I will put myself on digital detoxes. No outside information coming in. So I think it’s really basic stuff. It’s nothing fancy. It’s stuff that people inherently know if they’re willing to block out the outside noise. If they’re willing to turn inward and also if they’re willing to live in the present moment and slow down just a little bit.
A test you can give yourself is, am I breathing right now? Am I fully enjoying the task at hand? Am I at one with whatever is that I am doing because when you come from that place, you’re always going to trust yourself. You’re going to trust life. You’re going to know that the universe has your back. You’re going to get your best ideas. The ideas of what to do next are going to naturally bubble up because you are totally in alignment with who you are in the world and what you’re up to.
Kira: So if a copywriter wants to be great at what they do, they just want to shoot up in the industry, do you think it just takes discipline along with everything else you’ve shared, because I know that you’re disciplined in your business. That’s what I learned from you. Is that really the key, too, is just having that discipline or almost building your life with discipline at the core?
Erika: Absolutely. So many people are afraid of discipline because they feel like it’s going to hold them back or it’s going to lock them in. For me, my definition of discipline is knowing your priorities and acting on them. There’s been times in my life when I didn’t know my priories and I really, really suffered. A lot of anxiety. A lot of depression. When you know your priorities, it’s like that red carpet dream that I go back to, and you build those priorities into your schedule, it’s going to help you do your work better.
I mean, Kira, you know, I’m very scheduled and I’m very regimented when it comes to my actual work. I would say about 50 percent of my day is super structured. Then the other 50 percent is a total free for all. It’s not uncommon for me to spend the afternoon binge watching Netflix or something on HBO for three hours of the day and completely tuning out and have zero guilt about it, because I know that I’m taking care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and that I’m going to do my best work.
I’m a huge fan of discipline. Again, just knowing your priorities. What are my top three priorities and then acting on those. Yes, discipline is absolutely an essential part to playing the long game in business. Playing the long game, it’s easy for someone to be successful for six months. Then most people burn out after that so you really have to learn how to play the long game and train yourself to think like that as well.
Kira: That’s why I love all the advice you’re giving because you’ve been playing the long game for a long time. So you’ve lasted and then thrived over the years in the online marketing space.
Also, what you’re sharing is just all about being intentional about what you’re doing. So even though it’s three hours binge watching TV, it’s like, you wanted to do that. You know that’s good for you. You know that’s good just to relax and to get creative ideas from TV shows.
I feel like even from you I’ve learned that it’s okay to get People magazine and just veg out after a long day and just unwind. It’s actually okay to do that. We need it as creatives to have that time where we’re just inspired or looking at something that feels like it’s play and not work. That’s really good if we’re intentional about it.
I want to pivot and talk about you as a copywriter because I don’t think you’ve ever called yourself a copywriter. Maybe you have and I missed it. You are one of the best copywriters. I have learned copywriting from observing you and watching you from afar. How have you improved your copywriting and your writing skills over the years? What are some lessons or some activities that you’ve done that have really helped you improve your writing?
Erika: I do think it’s funny that you are calling me a copywriter because, again, I would never call myself a copywriter. I don’t think of myself as a writer. I think of it as a necessity that I’ve had to do to survive in my business. When I was younger, I hated writing. Up until recently, the last 10 years, I always hated writing.
I remember in 10th grade we had to write a research paper and I had no idea what to write. I knew my brother had written a research paper about the Loch Ness monster. I was like, ‘Okay, that sounds easy. I can do that.’ So a topic not interested in at all. I just wanted to get it done.
Something that I discovered when I was in college, first of all, I discovered that I have a love of words. I remember when I was in my last two years of school. I went to community college and then the two years I went to a regular university, University of Washington. I remember the first day of class. I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m so dumb. I’m going to fail. What are these words that people are saying?’ These big lofty, academic words. So I got a book about words. There’s 800 words in that. I remember I made flashcards and over the next two years I learned 800 new words because I knew that was going to be the only way that I could survive. I have to speak this lofty language that everybody speaks that’s totally not natural to me. I’m much more like a valley girl talker. So I learned the vocabulary.
One of the things I’ve also learned is I’ve always had this really naughty sense of humor. For me to be naughty or for me to be bad comes super easily to me. What I did learn during the course of that period, I have a degree in women’s studies, is that I have really great ideas. The writing was there to support my ideas and not the other way around. That’s how I’ve always approached it over the years. It’s like, am I getting this point across? Am I getting my idea across? There’s definitely skill sets that I’ve learned along the way.
For one thing, grammar has never been my strong suit. So Autumn Tompkins is someone I’ve learned a ton of grammar tips and how to be a stronger copy editor. I know she just has a new book that came out. I would definitely recommend that for everyone if grammar is not your strength.
I learned a ton from Laura Belgrave’s Five Tips to Non-sucky Copy, at stalkingshrimp.com. You’ve had Laura on the show right? I think she’s been on the show. Yeah. So I learned a ton from just that little freebee opt-in.
Let’s see, a couple of books. There’s a book called Contrabrand by Sam Horn. I remember I was at this coaches, life coach convention type of thing and Sam Horn was a speaker. She talked about contrabrand. Getting people’s attention through catchy titles of … So an example might be, you should let your kids watch TV. That would be something that would get people’s attention, or five reasons your kid should watch TV.
I was like, ‘I can do that. I’m snarky. I have a funny sense of humor sometimes.’ I read her book and it really gave me permission to embrace that naughty side.
Another book just about basic marketing, marketing principles, is Cashvertizing. Super cheesy name for the book but one of my favorite books on marketing. Marketing principles, direct marketing principles. Hypnotic Writing, by Joe Vatale is another one.
Then I also worked with a woman, her name is Helen Hunter McKenzie. She was my formal marketing mentor for about nine months. I really understood sales but learning how to be a marketer was another bag of tricks that I had to teach myself.
Then I’ve also … The first person I ever hired was a copywriter. For the most part, not so much lately, but I’ve always had copywriters on my team helping me make my copies stronger, contributing to the ideas that I put out in the world, of course, in alignment with who I already am in the world.
So I would say it’s taken a huge team of people to help me become a better writer. It’s something, a skill set that I’m always looking to improve because it’s not something that has ever come easily to me except for being naughty and inappropriate.
Kira: Hey, we’re just jumping into the show today to tell you a little bit more about Copywriter Underground. Rob, what do you like best about this membership?
Rob: So, this membership community is full of copywriters that are investing in their businesses and taking what they do seriously. Everything is focused around three ideas, copywriting and getting better at the craft that we all do. Marketing and getting in front of the right customers so that you can charge more and earn more. Also, mindset so you can get out of your head and focus on the things that will help you be successful at what we do.
There’s a private Facebook group for the members of the community. We also send out a monthly newsletter that’s full of advice. Again, on those three areas, copywriting, marketing, and mindset. Things that you can mark up and tear out, put them in your file, save them for whatever. It’s not going to get lost in your email inbox.
Kira, what do you like about The Copywriter Underground?
Kira: So, I love the monthly hot seat calls where our members have a chance to sit in the hot seat and ask a big question or get ideas or talk through a challenge in their business, because we all learn from those situations. I also feel like the templates we include in the membership are valuable because who wants to reinvent the wheel? Rob and I end up sharing a lot of the templates and resources we use in our own businesses. So I would definitely want to grab those.
Rob: So if you were interested in joining a community of copywriters that are investing in their business and in themselves and trying to do more, get more clients, earn more money consistently, go to the copywriterunderground.com to learn more.
Now back to the program.
Rob: So, Erika, before we jumped on this call I was spending a little time just playing around on your website and blown away by the number and the caliber of the people that you’ve worked with.
You obviously know something about building celebrity as you’ve helped a lot of these people build their celebrity. What does that take to create that kind of celebrity for someone like a copywriter?
Erika: Again, it comes back to … I know I’m going to sound like a broken record here. It really comes back to owning your viewpoints. I mean, I would say the number one way to stand out in your field is to be unapologetic about the way you think and you move for the world.
I also want to preface that by saying that when you develop viewpoints it’s an expansive conversation. So this is not about everybody else sucks and my way is the right way. It’s an opening. It’s an invitation to doing things differently in the world. It’s a new way of collaborating with people. It’s showing people that I’m not just a copywriter but I actually have something to contribute to the conversation that you are having, which is why it’s really important to only work with people that you can get behind and you want to partner with and you want to be a part of their team.
Also, testimonials, you’ve got to ask for testimonials. I mean, I tell my clients this all the time. This was just a conversation that were having in my business accelerator, Market Mastery, is, you’ve got to ask for testimonials. There’s just no way about it. Most people aren’t just going to give you one. Reach out, ask for the testimonials.
If you’re new in your business, grab personal endorsements. I’ve had a ton of personal endorsements over the years of people who have never personally worked with me but people who believe in me. People who stand by me and people who are willing to vouch for me. That’s going to be huge for you.
Kira: Let’s dig more into the viewpoints because you mentioned earlier it is important. I know I’ve learned that from you but for someone who’s like, ‘Okay, where to I start? I know I have not been sharing my viewpoints. I kind of get the concept but where do I even start and then how do I know if it’s too much? If it becomes I’m just unloading rather than contributing to the conversation.’
Erika: So you can start out with a couple question that come to mind. I’ve taught this forever. Okay, so, a couple things come to mind. What’s missing from the marketplace? So, one of my viewpoints is I believe to be a successful coach, I really believe that you have to know your clients.
There’s a lot of people out there who call themselves coaches but they don’t know their clients. When I think of coaching I think of an NFL coach, right. The coaches are intimately involved, right. They know their player’s strengths and weaknesses. They know something about them. That’s something that’s really, really important to me and I think the best coaches out there really, really know their customers and they really understand their customers, or they’ve developed an incredible methodology.
I think of someone like Tony Robbins, very, very skilled coach. When he works with people privately, he really knows his customers. When you go to an event he has developed an excellent methodology that he’s been delivering years and years and years. Definitely look at what’s missing from the marketplace.
Another thing that you could look at is what pisses you off. Things that you are not seeing. Again, for me, the true value of being a real coach and not a fake coach, coaching is something that I’ve invested a lot of money in. It’s personally saved my life. Especially when I quit stripping. It’s how I got interest in the world of coaching is I went to this three day coaching event. It totally changed my life. I don’t feel like I would be the person I am today if I had not invested in myself in that.
Could also ask yourself what’s sacred to you? So maybe you have customers who just want you to turn and burn and quickly put out copy. For you, you’re more of a … You really need to think about your copy. You really need to muse on it. You need to contemplate on it. You want to meditate and you know you do your best work when you can set yourself up for success like that.
That’s also an important viewpoint of like, ‘Hey, you know what, I’m sorry, you want this copy in four hours? I can’t give it to you until next week. Maybe we’re not a good fit for each other?’ Really setting yourself up to do your best work. Again, really thinking about what’s missing from the marketplace. What pisses you off and also, what’s sacred to you.
Kira: You mentioned sales earlier and I know you have a strong sales background. Copywriters often times are trying to improve their sales game just for the sake of landing and succeeding in sales calls but also your job is to sell something for our clients or to sell our products and programs. So how can we improve and get better at selling if it’s not something that we’re naturally good at? Is it just a matter of practice, practice, practice?
Erika: It’s so funny because when I was stripping I never once read a sales book. I really wish I would have because I feel like I would have made a lot more money. Again, this is the 90s. If I wasn’t at the library or a school assignment, I wasn’t really thinking about it. Nobody was reading how to succeed in sales as a stripper.
Again, pre-internet era. But it’s definitely practice, and definitely getting a sales coach or really understanding why your product is amazing. Again, as I’ve noticed in my Triple Expert program, that women who come in and they come out the other side and they have this amazing product confidence, selling is easy then because you’re so excited about what you are selling. You’re so excited to talk about it. You want to get on Podcast. You want to talk about it on social media. You want to personally invite people to buy your product or service. So I think definitely really feeling confident about your skills.
Another thing I don’t think that we’ve talked about is seeing your copywriting as an actual product, and how can you productize that? So, it’s something that would be similar to, if your customer was in a store, if they could pick up your copywriting package, and look at it as an actual product, how would you sell that as if it was an actual physical product? So, I think that’s a huge part of it. Another huge part of it, really, is practice. You just have to practice.
I really struggled with selling my coaching services, and it wasn’t until I went full-time in 2011, that I really succeeded in selling. First of all, I had no skin in the game. I had a full-time income, a very good income from my commercial real estate career, so there wasn’t a ton of skin in the game for me to succeed in that, but when I went full-time in my business, it was like, holy cow, there was ton on the line for me. So, I couldn’t fail. It literally was not an option for me. So, I had to succeed, and I had to get really good at it. And I had to get good at it very, very fast.
When you have that kind of determination, you know, when the universe has lit a fire under your ass, you’re going to find yourself doing things that you wouldn’t normally do. So, unfortunately, a ton of people have golden handcuffs. There isn’t a lot at stake for them, or they aren’t motivated, or they have discovered that red carpet dream, that thing that’s going to pull them into action.
So, a lot of it is that tenacity. It’s consistency. It’s, when you’ve had a sales conversation, afterwards, what worked? What didn’t work? And looking at the sales conversation as a skill set, in the same way that one would learn, I don’t know, how to do a cartwheel. Right? It’s like, the first time you do a cartwheel, you’re not going to be very good at it, but if you keep practicing and practicing, and practicing, you will get better, and better, and better. And also, looking at it as, it’s a practice. Like, you know, professional athletes, they practice all the time, even when they’re not playing a game, they’re still practicing. It’s part of their job. It’s just what they do.
Rob: Erika, what would you say to some of those who might be struggling? They don’t yet have their red carpet dream laid out. Are there questions that they can ask themselves, or exercises they can go through, to try to identify what that is, and then step out of the struggle, and start succeeding?
Erika: That’s a great question. In the past, I would have given you a different version of, really thinking big. And I do think it’s important to think big, just to stretch your imagination, but nowadays, I would recommend that people really think about, who do they want to be in their day to day life? Just on your normal, average day, what does life look for you, in that capacity? And are you surrounded with people that you want to be around? Do you get to contribute your strengths, and to be creative? Do you get to do what you love to do?
I would start with creating a solid base for yourself. Because if you can love your life in the present moment, you know the future is just going to be better, and better, and better, and then, better than you could have ever imagined.
So, now I encourage people to start with, how can they make their life the very best that it is right now? Because when you have that really, really solid base, it also opens you up to bigger visions. It gives you permission to stretch your imagination even more. So, really looking at, you know, I have this red carpet dream, but do I also have a red carpet dream day?
Kira: Erika, you mentioned, you’re fancy. Anyone visiting your website, or meeting you in person, or following you on Instagram, can see that you’re glamorous. I love it. Your tribe loves it. I feel like I’ve learned that from you, and embraced it. And then, built a brand around just focusing on the brand, the design, all those elements matter, even though we’re in the business of words.
I think it’s really easy, as copywriters to say it doesn’t matter as much for us. We’re not designers. We’re playing with words, and we’re in conversion space, but I disagree, of course.
So, why is it important to focus on these elements, and also focus on excellence, as you focus? And then, how can we do it, especially if design doesn’t come naturally to us?
Erika: Well, I think that, for me, again, I’m the high fancy. My mom always says, ‘Oh, Erika, you love to live the high life.’ And that’s always been me, but again, it’s like, what am I naturally inspired by? And I don’t actually care that much what people’s websites look like. I’m definitely not a website snob. What I look for is, does this website feel in alignment with who this person is in the world? Are they showing up as the very best version of themselves? And is it done well? So, that’s what I look for.
So, if someone has a totally different style than me, I’m fine with that, but I want to make sure that they’re doing the very best to move into mastery, and to put out great work. So, the website doesn’t have to be fancy. I really love just basic, super, simplicity. I think Paul Jervis is a great example of that. I know you guys know who he is, but if anybody else doesn’t know who he is, he’s a great. It’s great. Paul and I have different aesthetics, but it’s very simple, and it’s easy, and you get that, this is a very thoughtful considerate, masterful person.
Kira: I want to circle back to boundaries, because although, we’ve talked around it, I know it’s a big part of the discipline and how you run your day, and your business. I struggle with boundaries. I’ve struggled in a big way with it. Other copywriters struggle with creating boundaries, especially with clients, sometimes with family too. So, what advice would you give to someone, who is struggling with boundaries?
Erika: Well, if you don’t have boundaries, you’re just going to implode. So, I mean, it’s inevitable. Right? You can’t be highly creative and not have boundaries. I just think it’s essential to have a ton of downtime, and to have a ton of quiet time. Again, some copywriters, they love to listen to music, or other things going on, but you really have to have your own creative, sacred space.
It’s really simple. You can choose to let other people run your life, or you can decide that, this is the life of according to you, and this is how you’re going to live it. So, I think it’s hugely important, and also, experiment a little. If you suck at setting boundaries, then set up one teeny, tiny boundary, and then stick with that, and before you know it, you’re like, ‘Wow. I survived that.’ And I can’t even imagine going back to being that person. I can’t even imagine.
Rob: Can you give us some examples, of the kinds of boundaries that we might want to start setting up, or starting to toy with, so that we can get that experience?
Erika: Yeah. It could be like, I only check my email twice a day. Or it could be like, from one day a week, I work on my own projects. Or, it could be, at one o’clock every day, I have to watch last night’s evening news, because it revitalizes me, and it makes me really freaking happy. So, just really thinking of, where do you feel like you don’t have time and space to even think for yourself? If that’s the situation, your copy’s not going to be good. Your writing’s not going to be good. You’re not going to feel connected to yourself. You’re not going to feel connected to other people, so start out with one area. Like, ‘Oh, I really need to set a boundary.’ And it doesn’t even have to be in your business. If you have children, maybe it’s a boundary with your children that you haven’t established, and so, you’re not the parent, the children are running your life, versus vice versa.
Rob: Yeah, and then the tough part, of course, is sticking to the boundary, once you’ve set it.
Erika: There might be a little bit, of push back, because people are used to you being one way. But what I’ve also found, is that, especially with clients, is I really like it when I’m working with someone, and if they go like, ‘Hey, my rates are going up.’ There’s not a huge explanation around it. It’s not like, ‘I’m really sorry. I hope we can still work together.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, these are my rates.’ Okay.
Kira: Before we start to wrap, Erika, I do want to ask you about Instagram, because I know you’re focused on it. You mentioned, that it’s the channel that you pay attention to, and I know you’ve also been studying it for a while. So, can you just give us an update on what’s working today on Instagram? What’s working really well for you? Especially for copywriters who want to focus on that channel, and potentially finding clients on there, as well.
Erika: Well, I am by no means, an Instagram expert. If you look at my-
Kira: You’re doing better than me.
Erika: … lack of posts over the years, it’s a platform that I’ve really struggled with, because I was like, ‘How do I translate this person, da, da, da?’ So, I started working with Agustina Palacio, instagramobsession.com. I started working with her in the spring, and she completely changed the game for me on Instagram. Because I felt like I’d finally met someone, who was very … I mean, I’ve known Agustina for years, but not in this capacity of hiring her to be my Instagram coach … is that, the way she moves through the world, the way she moves to live on Instagram, is very much in alignment with myself.
I know a lot of people, they really love posting photos of them, looking like a hot mess, and being like, ‘The struggle is real.’ I don’t ever want to look like a hot mess on Instagram. It doesn’t make me feel good. I don’t feel like my best self. I don’t even want to look at myself, when I don’t have makeup on. People are like, ‘Oh, I want to see you without your makeup on!’ It’s like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ If I could have a separate bedroom for my husband, and a bathroom, I would do that, but he won’t let that happen. He’s like, ‘You’re beautiful. Shut up.’
So, it’s just again, being ruthlessly, and I feel that’s a boundary of, I’m not going to post those photos. I’m only going to post photos, where I look like myself, and for the most part, it’s very rare, that I’m just out and about, and I’m just like, ‘Oh, here’s a selfie.’ Or ‘Here’s a snapshot.’ Sometimes that happens, but now when I post on Instagram, it is set up. It is intentional. It is well thought through, because that’s how I do my best work. Yes, I’m good at being spontaneous. Yes, I’m good at thinking on my feet, but that to me, is not mastery. That for me, is messy, and I don’t want to be messy. I want to be in mastery. So, it’s really, owning who I am, as a person on Instagram.
And even now, I am working on creating a little, and again, it’s to be an experiment. It might work well. It might work not well, at all. I might stop it, but something that I’m experimenting with is putting together, at least Monday through Friday, a little 60 second, Daily Whip, on Instagram stories and it’s going to be like a marketing tip, or it’s going to be a sales tip, or it’s going to be, ‘Hey, I like this product. I want you to buy it.’ Or a product confidence tip, or a health tip, or beauty tip. Whatever tip that I want to give you that day, that’s going to show up on my Instagram stories, called, ‘Your Daily Whip.’ And I’m going to make a little intro graphic, and a little outro graphic, so it becomes, again, people will see this as like, ‘Oh, I’m going to Daily Whip on Instagram, to see Erika’s Instagram story for the day.’
But for me, I have to be systematic about it. I have to create these marketing assets, because it’s the only way that I can do, what it is that I do. Because on an average day, I’m spending about four hours working with my clients, coaching my clients, about four hours of the day. Then have to go to my bar 3 class, and I have to eat lunch and take care of myself. And then the other half of the day is my creative time. Sometimes I have to do accounting work, or the business stuff.
I cannot recommend Agustina Palacio enough. She’s made me completely fall in love with Instagram, and I did not think that was possible. Find someone, again, who you resonate with. You love their style. It makes sense to you, and as with anything, if you don’t feel like you can be yourself, find a way that you can show up on that platform, or on that medium, being your very best self, the person that does good work, the person that can show up authentically, the person who can have a ton of confidence.
Kira: Yeah. If I see you on Instagram looking like a hot mess, I will know something has happened that is very off brand.
Erika: ….and chicken soup, because something is awry.
Kira: Right. So, the last question for you, I know you’ve worked closely with copywriters, and you’ve seen copywriters grow in your own programs, so what does the future of copywriting look like to you?
Erika: Well, I think, there’s a lot of conversation around AI. I was just out with my friend, Srini Rao, from Unmistakable Creative, he was here in Seattle, and we went out and had sushi. And he was talking about, that there’s this program, I can’t remember what it was called, but it will do SEO on your website for you. And I was like, ‘Really? Oh, my God. I’m totally going to check that out,’ because I have some clients right now, who have businesses who are primed, primed, primed for doing SEO. If they don’t do SEO, they’re completely missing the mark. They just have to do it, because they have the type of business that people are Googling those exact search terms.
I really think that, and especially with grammar corrections … There’s an app called, Hemingway Editor, it’s a desktop app. I love that. So, there’s going to be a lot of things, I think, that computers and AI software will do, that we won’t have to do anymore. Remember you used to have, to have spell check, right? And so, for the most part, Google Docs will pick it up, or if you put it into word, I found that word does better for picking up spelling errors, than Google docs does.
So, definitely, there’s going to be some components, where technology is going to replace humans, but what I don’t think it’s going to replace is, human creativity, human self-expression. We each have something inside of us that is so vast, and so beautiful, and so wonderful. If we allow it to come out, we share our viewpoints, we cut the clutter, we have strong boundaries, our art is going to be amazing.
Humans can create works of art and masterpieces that a computer could never do. Because computers don’t have souls. Maybe they will, in the future. I don’t know, but for now, computers don’t have souls. So, when you come from your soul, when you create from your soul, that’s something that technology cannot replace, which is why I think it’s so important for all of you, to just be your most, strongest, best version of yourself, that you possibly can be. And allow, what wants to come out, to come out.
I couldn’t even imagine doing the work that I do today, showing up in the way that I show up, I mean, it’s like I am more myself now, than I ever have been, and I know in 10 years from now, 20 years from now, while my physical exterior will look differently, I guess, depending on what kind of plastic surgery they invent by then, is that, I’m going to be more of myself, in 20 years from now, because I will just have had more faith and more confidence in doing things my own way. And of course, life experiences also shape us, as well.
Definitely, creativity is super, super important. There’s always going to be things that computers are going to make everything faster, and stronger, and better. So, if you can get really in alignment with yourself, technology will serve you, rather than destroy you.
Rob: That sounds like the kind of advice that maybe, we should leave on, Erika. This has been fantastic. If people want to connect with you, learn more about you, join one of your programs, where would they go?
Erika: Dailywhip.com is my home on the internet. So, go there. Sign up for my email list. I send out a weekly email. There is hundreds of blog posts, that I’ve written over the years, and then also, Think Like a Stripper. You can buy it on Amazon, Kindle and paperback.
Rob: And it’s a really fun book. I mentioned, we gave it away at TCC IRL, and it’s full of great stories and anecdotes, and real business lessons. It’s kind of a fun book to read. So, thank you.
Kira: Thank you, Erika. Thanks for being a mentor to me, and sharing your viewpoints, with all of us, so thanks.
Erika: Welcome. Thanks, everybody.
Rob: You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast, with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity, by Whitest Boy Alive, available on iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word, by subscribing at iTunes, and by leaving your review.
For show notes, a full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com.
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