TCC Podcast #397: Rethinking How We Work with Helen Tremethick - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #397: Rethinking How We Work with Helen Tremethick

Over the past few years the ways we work have changed. And the work we do has changed too. In the 397th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira and Rob talk with copywriter and regenerative business designer Helen Tremethick about navigating the changes and creating a business that works for you.

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


Stuff to check out:

4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
Helen’s website
Helen’s Cuppa Link (talked about on the show)
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground


Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh: For a lot of freelancers who write content and copy, work has changed pretty dramatically over the past year. Some of us, especially those who are just starting out have been impacted by tools like Claude and ChatGPT. While others may be struggling a bit thanks to layoffs in niches like tech and SaaS. As opportunities change, smart business owners change along with them. And relationships become even more important than ever.

Hi, I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of The Copywriter Club. And on today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira Hug and I interviewed copywriter and regenerative business designer Helen Tremethick. Helen has worked with several business owners as they’ve transformed the work they do. Sometime changing up their deliverables. Other times switching niches or the focus of their work entirely. As we spoke, we kept coming back to one idea… relationships. They’re more important than ever, and that’s one thing that probably won’t change in the near future.

Before we jump into the interview, I want to let you know about an upcoming training happening in June in The Copywriter Underground. If you listened to last week’s episode, you learned a bit about the technical things you need to do to ensure the emails you write get to the inbox and not the spam folder and then get opened. But it can be hard to see exactly what to do as you listen to a podcast… it’s audio only, so seeing where to find the tools and settings to adjust, well, you just can’t. So we asked email deliverability specialist Matt Brown to demonstrate exactly how to set up your ESP and google postmaster tools so your emails have a better chance of getting where you want them to go. This is a skill set that clients need desperately. And when you can bring them along with your writing skills, you have what it takes to land high paying email retainers that can last for months or even years. But to get this training, you must be a member of The Copywriter Underground. Learn more at 

And with that, let’s go to our interview with Helen.

Kira Hug: All right, Helen, we are not going to start with your story, because that’s where we started last time, which we figured out was episode 176. And you figured out it was mid-March 2020, so right before the world changed dramatically. So it’s good to be with you again. And I think a good place to start could just be around a line of copy on your website, on your home page, there’s a line of copy that says, burn it down isn’t good business strategy, but when something’s got to give dot, dot, dot, and then you go into your brilliant copy. But that grabbed my attention because I feel like I’ve heard a lot of people around me recently talking about burning it all down and a conversation with neighbors, business owners. And so from your perspective, Where do you feel like people in the online business space, copywriters, where are they at right now with what they’re feeling, what they’re doing in their businesses? From your experience coaching them, what are you seeing and feeling right now?

Helen Tremethick: Oh my goodness. You know, I actually just had a call this morning where I was talking to somebody about exactly this, where it feels like there’s a little bit of a different flavor in the air right now that’s different from what we knew before. And maybe this is before the last time we spoke, which was before the world shut down, or maybe it’s been gradually moving toward that. I’m not exactly sure, but there is a little bit of a different flavor. The way that people want to work with each other is different, the amount of connection that we want is different, and that I think is more and more connection, more community, more togetherness. And opposing that is that the conversation I’m having a lot lately is that people are having a hard time stretching that dollar the way they used to. Grocery bills have gone up. Everything has gone up except for wages. And so as a small business owner, often we are the canaries in the coal mine, so to speak. So we see this ripple effect before a lot of the rest of the world does. And there’s an opportunity there as well, not to silver lining being the canary in the coal mining, but there is an opportunity there for us to start changing and start navigating new ways of working together beforehand. So it allows us to be a bit more agile. The fact that we know then see these things before.

Rob Marsh: I’d love to dive into what you think that opportunity is and what that looks like, because I have recently seen a lot of copywriters. Well, maybe not a lot, but a few copywriting gurus suggest that this is a really bad time for people to become a copywriter or to even start your own business. Or they’re saying, you know, there are different things we should be doing. So yeah. What does that opportunity look like?

Helen Tremethick: Oh, I think it depends on the person. So I’m not going to opt out of that question at all. But it depends on what is really, really relevant. And it’s relevant to a lot of the work that I do. Just like we wouldn’t want everybody’s about page to look exactly the same, or everybody’s homepage to look exactly the same, everybody’s website to look exactly the same. We also don’t want our businesses to be exactly the same. So what opportunities are there for you are going to be different from what opportunities are there for me. So for me, for example, I do a lot of coaching. I was doing this four years ago. I was doing this eight years ago and really still heading in that direction. What I’ve noticed on my end is that people really want to connect with each other. They really want spaces where they can share more openly and they really want to talk about things that are not just business. They’re really recognizing that business is affected by the personal. And so that comes into a lot of the conversations that we’re having. Even though the end goal may be copy, a lot of the way that we get there is very, very personal. Now, for somebody else who is going fresh into copywriting, who really wants to get into the typey typey, they’re really interested in writing. And of course, writers never stop writing. I still write as well. I think at that point, there’s an opportunity there to really lean into done-for-you services for a very specific niche and really lean into that. I think it’s going to depend, the solution is going to depend on the person according to their capacity, according to their lifestyle needs and wants, according to the way their brains work. So it depends. And also with a little bit of kind of uncovering and diving in, we can often find an opportunity there that works for everybody.

Kira Hug: Yeah, maybe we can talk a little bit about this old way and this new way, you know, the new way being more connection, more community and how you are changing in your business, maybe how you show up, how you help clients, maybe even how you market yourself. If you can make that comparison with the old and the new.

Helen Tremethick: Yeah, I think Well, okay, so I’ve been doing this since 2011, which, you know, makes me officially internet old and If you recall, there was a lot of emphasis on building your list and getting the most followers. And that, I would say, is very old way. And we touched on this four years ago where we were talking about what is the future of copywriting? What is the pattern that we see going forward? And the three of us agreed that relationships were that, that we were going to see a lot more connectivity. And this was just about the time that you had done your event or about to do your event. So you were really leaning into that as well. And I think there’s a lot more of that. It’s a bit more difficult. COVID isolated us and still is isolating us. And, you know, there’s an epidemic of loneliness. And so we want to see that in our businesses as well. How I’ve been marketing is I’ve really pulled away from that one to many kind of marketing that we saw in the old way, get my freebie for your, in exchange for your email address or, you know, giant webinars. And I’ve really started speaking specifically to people, really building on the relationships that I already have, whether that be complimentary service providers or my referral network, or my old clients, my current clients. and really crafting solutions that fit for those people. So that’s the way that I’ve been shifting toward is something that’s a lot more grounded, a lot more personal. And frankly, I find that much more interesting as well, because it means that I’m having different conversations and hearing people’s different perspectives as opposed to speaking into an echo chamber.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, I tend to agree. And that one on one relationship thing is obviously something Kira and I have leaned into for a long time. But also, as I think about this, or if I’m listening to this, you know, as a new copywriter coming into the business, and I’m hearing somebody say, well, you’ve got to do it differently for every instance, or everybody’s different. That becomes really hard to wrap your arms around because, and this is why I think people sell formulas and swipes and whatever, because if you can repeat the process, it makes it a lot easier. But what we’re basically saying is the old process is kind of breaking, or at least in parts it’s cracked, and we might need to reinvent this thing. So for somebody who’s kind of thinking, okay, well, how do I do this in a different way for every single person? There’s got to be some kind of framework or way we can think about this that makes it a little bit digestible.

Helen Tremethick: Yeah, I’m nodding up and down very quickly. Yes, absolutely. This is totally my jam because I want us to stop thinking about formulas and templates and start thinking about guidelines and frameworks. So with a guideline, with a framework, you have the structure that you need in order to work the brilliant way that you work. But it’s not so cookie cutter that everybody feels robotic, fill in the blank, copy or marketing. So the swipes are good in that they’re easy. Gosh, don’t we just love something easy? Frameworks, however, give us a lot more play. I used to do brand voice roadmapping for my copywriting clients, and there was a framework that I used in order to create somebody’s brand voice. I wanted to consider their values or their guiding principles. I wanted to consider what really made that organization that organization, what really influenced them. And I would build that out. Each one was very personal, using a framework, using those guidelines. So I had the structure that I needed, but it was still fluid enough to allow for personalization, just like the way that we would write for somebody. that is very structured, we have our way, and also there’s some fluidity there as well.

Kira Hug: What do you recommend to people who are stretched with their capacity and they are burnt out? Because I think a lot of what we’re talking about, we’re talking about stretching the dollar and more connection, more community, and that’s all wonderful. I’m all for that. But it also takes time, investing time in building community and showing up in your local community, online community. And then trying to get paid, you know, at the same time and pay your bills. It feels really tricky right now for so many copywriters. And so I know this is something you help people with, with capacity planning and thinking more holistically. How do you approach that struggle?

Helen Tremethick: Yeah, the question is how do you live in the system while breaking the system? It’s tricky, right? There’s no really straight answer for that other than it’s really freaking hard sometimes. Capacity is one of my favorite things to talk about, capacity and business models. But capacity is one of my favorite things to talk about because we are infiltrated with messages about the 5 a.m. club with the four-hour work week. We’re really infiltrated with the way that we’re supposed to. And then we turn around and we’ve got one kid that’s sick and one that’s waiting for the school bus and a veterinary appointment to get to and a full inbox. So how do we create those structures and systems or those frameworks for us so that we can thrive while also having to do all of the things? Personally, I found this is where you’re looking at your business model is really great. If you have three kids under three at home, you are not going to be 24 seven available on Voxer. You’re just not. And so maybe at that point, you want to look at like not online not live stuff you want to be able to do your deliverables when you have time and not have somebody who is like breathing down your neck or on camera with you however if you have much more time then you can create like one-to-one where you’re on zoom so there’s a lot more um i really want us as copywriters as brand strategists as self-employed people to start thinking outside the box of what our jobs look like because we because we are all stretched but we’re all stretched in different ways even though the message is that we should be able to do it all. We can’t. So the answer really is in finding what will work for us based on our capacity, based on the way our neuro-spicy brains work, based on what our responsibilities are outside of the job. And this is something I talk to my clients about a lot, that before we even talk about their business model, before we even talk about who their client or who their audience is, we want to know What are they doing at home? What is on their plate? What are their responsibilities? Because I can’t come down the chute with offerings and ideas unless I know everything that that person is holding. Because if they have to take their mom to a doctor’s appointment every Tuesday afternoon, that’s something we need to factor into what their business looks like too.

Rob Marsh: Let’s keep talking about this even more deeply. When we’re talking about capacity planning and figuring out what am I even able to do, obviously we need to start, like you said, what’s going on in my life? How many hours do I have that I can give to this thing versus that thing? What else? What else do we need to be thinking through so that we can actually build a functional capacity plan for what we need to get done?

Helen Tremethick: Oh, wow. How do I work best? That is a huge one, especially for my clients. There are so many people who are finding new diagnosis for the way that their brains work, who have recently learned that they’re ADHD or have autism or are odd HD, and that will greatly affect how they work, how they work best, when they work. And so that would be something that I would say right off the top, like how do you work best? What works really well for you? I have clients who do really well with time blocking and I have clients who will rebel against any kind of time blocking that’s put down. This is really important to know because I’m not going to give you theme days if you’re immediately in week three going to say, you know, screw all of this and throw it out the window. So how do I work best? What responsibilities do I have in my family? Who can I delegate things to? So do you have people that you can offload some of your tasks? And maybe you don’t want to. I love taking my kid to karate. It’s something that I don’t delegate, even though I could. It’s actually something that I really enjoy. But knowing that, having that outlined helps with capacity planning. So what are you responsible for? What could you delegate? How do you work best? Who are your people? This is something that comes a little bit later on. Where do they live? If you’re working with somebody, I’m in Eastern time, but if I’m working with somebody who’s in the UK, that’s a factor. I’m going to want to probably have earlier meetings so that they’re not meeting me in the evening time. So these are also factors in play. Ultimately, the better of a picture that we can have before the planning goes into place, the easier the plan will be created.

Kira Hug: Yeah, I’m wondering where we mess this up for ourselves. I mean, yes, if we work with someone like you, that will help, you know, hold us accountable and help us work through these questions. But I feel like so often, you know, I’m my own block, because I think I have more capacity than I do. And I’ve always thought that for years. So it’s like, how do you help people really truly realize their capacity, especially if they’re doing this on their own and they’re not necessarily working with someone?

Helen Tremethick: Oh my goodness. I mean, me too, Kira, right? I fall into this trap all the time. And one of the things that I’ve learned, and this is learning about myself, is that I will always write a longer to-do list than I have capacity for. But even the awareness of that, even the awareness that this is not a doable to-do list, is so helpful because inevitably at the end of the day, when I haven’t completed it, I’m no longer saying, Oh, I failed. I’m the worst. I didn’t even get this done. The more I’m able to say, okay, Helen, like obviously you did it again. You’ve got really high expectations of yourself. So I would say you ask, how do we even get into this? You know, we’re very well trained. um you know into this system we become our own bosses but we become pretty bad bosses for ourselves so you know recognizing that and trying to separate ourselves out of that while also incorporating—Dr. Kristen Neff she’s known for mindful self-compassion. Her work is brilliant for this. Now, you know, I know we’re talking about business, but the ripple effect of mindful self-compassion is so beautiful because it allows us to see that we are human beings having very human being experiences and build that compassion into our to-do lists, into our expectations of ourselves, into how we deal with a mistake or a failure and so on and so forth.

Rob Marsh: So this isn’t really a question. I’m more responding to what you’re saying. But this tracks a lot with what Oliver Berkman writes in his fantastic book, 4,000 Weeks, which is really about the idea that time management is impossible. First of all, because you can’t manage time. I mean, it flows. But also because we have this idea that we can get it all done if we just manage our time effectively. And the reality is, you can only get a couple of things done. And that’s if you’re managing your time effectively. If you’re not managing your time effectively or not at all, you’re not getting anything done. And so we have this tension between this need to get stuff done for our clients, for our family, for our boss, whatever, and also this reality that you can’t do it all. So you’ve got to choose, which comes back to what you’re saying about capacity planning. 

And so, like I said, this isn’t really a question. It’s almost like me vocalizing this frustration that we can’t get it all done. And so it’s like, you get your one, two, three top choices, and that’s it, which for most of us creatives who want to do a ton of things, you know, it’s immensely frustrating because that means that sometimes the painting goes unpainted or the soccer game doesn’t get attended or The client work, well, the client work has to get done because you’re taking money for that, but you’re sacrificing so much. So again, not really a question, just venting back at you, I think some of the stuff that everybody’s feeling.

Helen Tremethick: For sure. And I want to riff on that and say, this gives us an opportunity to redefine productivity. It gives us an opportunity to redefine rest as well, because I don’t know about you, but my resting also looks very similar to work. I’ll go out into the garden and I’ll weed a bed. It’s very similar to work. For a lot of people, gardening is restful. We grow a lot of our own food here on the farm, and so it’s restful but also work. Yes, this is a great opportunity for us to say, OK, so prioritize one, two, three, knowing that at least one of those will be chucked out the window and replaced with something that we didn’t expect. And then being OK with that, defining what productive looks like and what productivity looks like for us, really making sure that we’re taking care of ourselves, and that we’re resting. 

And something I also like to talk to my clients about is, often on our to-do lists, we put projects, but we assume them and we label them as tasks. So I’ll build that out a little bit. A project is made up of a number of different tasks. And our to-do list, we’ll put it on there, we’ll say, okay, write a website. Writing a website is a big project. So even if you had on your to-do list, you’re like, oh, well, that’s a big project. I should break it down. Even if you wrote on your to-do list, write about page, it’s still a bit big for one item on your to-do list. Like rough out the outline of the about page. And if you’re doing design pieces, choose the images for the about page. This is where we can start saying, okay, these are actually tasks for this to-do list. And because a lot of what happens is, not only are our to-do lists too long, but our expectations of those pieces, each individual bullet point is going to take us much, much longer than we’ve mentally assigned them. You know, the task for the day is to write the book. I’m like, well, it’s going to be your task for the next six months.

Kira Hug: I wonder what we have to let go of with all of this too, because am I letting go of ambition here? Am I letting go of a big dream? I feel like there’s something I need to let go of to really adapt to a new productivity model and way of living that I’ve been clinging to for a while. I wonder if you’ve seen anything with your clients as they’ve progressed, if it was like letting go of something along the way.

Helen Tremethick: Yeah. I don’t know if this is going to be a well-received answer, but wealth When we’re talking about redefining, that’s one of those things. And I’m speaking about how much money is enough. and knowing that a lot of people have these arbitrary revenue goals that are again sort of fed to us from the same like four-hour workweek 5am club formulas and templates place we have these arbitrary revenue goals once we start looking at what we really need what we really need and then factoring in future self-care as a buffer right that we all will probably hopefully retire and that we need a little bit of extra in case something happens. Once we factor all of those in then we can start moving the pieces into play so that what we’re giving up is less of a physical tangible thing and more of an idea of the way it is supposed to be.

Rob Marsh: And I guess we should think about the opposite because if you’re giving something up, you’re also leaning into something or grabbing something bigger. And I think part of my thinking around this is that most of us want to do a lot of things and we want to do a lot of things well. And the reality is that maybe we can do three things well at any given point in time. Maybe three is too many, but it’s certainly 10 is too many and probably five is too many. So there’s got to be a lot of thinking and intention into what it is that we want to be doing. And like you’re saying, maybe, maybe that elusive six figure business is thing number four. And as long as you’ve got enough, or maybe six figures is what enough is in a lot of places, you know, it has to be, but you know, you give up on the dream of the million dollar business, right? So, in order to get something, hopefully better. Yes.

Helen Tremethick: Yes. Time with your family. You get to go to that soccer game that ordinarily would have missed. I have a client that I worked with recently. I’m shifting gears just a little bit to riff on this. I have a client that I worked with recently who was training for the New York City Marathon, which is really great. Something I will never, ever do. And I still love this. You and me, both. I love it for the people who do. There’s more space in the marathon because I’m not there. So she also has kids at home. She was missing swimming lessons, wanting to take them to the park, and had a job, has a partner. and has a business. Now, I’m sure this sounds very, very familiar to a lot of people. Replace marathon with whatever you like. She needed time to train for the marathon. She wanted time to take her kids to the park. And she still had these other things. 

So we really needed to look at how do we tweak and mold her business so that it fits with her life? As opposed to the other way around, which I think a lot of us do is we tweak our lives so they fit with our businesses. And so I think you’re right, Rob, that it is about gaining something. It’s about gaining the soccer games. It’s about gaining the training time. It’s about gaining the time with your kids or the time with your parents. It’s about gaining the time to be in the garden. I would say A lot of what we come back to is time. We’re such a time deficit culture that when we start factoring wealth into our business ecosystem, time is something that people really, really want. So how much money do we need to make in order to have that time?

Kira Hug: Yeah, I don’t want to ask you to predict the future, but I am going to ask you to predict the future. Do you feel like this is going to be something that we just see continue to shift across maybe our industry, other industries, where there’s this leaning in, moving away from productivity for productivity’s sake, moving away from this idea of wealth and way more than we need and embracing these other parts of life? Or do you think this will just remain a pocket for those people who kind of see that opportunity?

Helen Tremethick: That’s a good question. I hope it shifts and changes forward toward people adopting this. I do think in our current system, you know, in late stage capitalism, something does need to shift. I think that we’re seeing that happen a lot in the world right now. And that people are realizing that they need and want more than the idea that we’ve been fed: get a good job, make the money, have the, you know, the very status quo, happy life. And people are seeing that that’s not really working for them. So then what? And they’re starting to fill in the blanks themselves, starting to redefine what feels good for them. for their own sake and I’m really inspired by that. I do hope that that’s the direction that we are going in and in part because I would love us to see more community. I would love us to see more in-depth relationships. I would love us to see less of that loneliness and more of that time. So in this magic eight ball, yes, I hope so.

Rob Marsh: I kind of want to flip this on its head just a little bit because we spent the last half hour or so talking about this ideal, creating more time or whatever. But underneath this is the thing that makes it work, which is our business, right? Like in order to have that time, you still have to put food on the table. You still have to pay the bills. And so we need to be building businesses that support that. So instead of working eight, 10 hours a day, six, seven days a week, what does “the enough business” look like?

Helen Tremethick: Hmm. Well, again, this comes back to what does your life look like? What are you able to give to begin with? So capacity to start, but, and it will also vary on like, how much are you selling? Like, how much are you selling your things for? So what widgets are you selling? How much are you selling your widgets for? How much time do you have to dedicate to it? So somebody may find that their business works best with group programs so that they can bring people in at a more affordable rate, but still make the money that they need in order to make their monthly net. that may work really, really well for a person, whereas somebody else who’s still super into copywriting, they may instead want to be doing full content packages and they want to partner with an agency so that that happens because they have the time and energy to give. Somebody else, we talked four years ago, we talked about the platypus model. Somebody else might want to hybridize that. They might want to do like done with you about page workshops. And so there are ways that we can, so what is enough is variable. And what does this enough business look like is also variable. But that is the exciting piece about it, is that we don’t have to fit into this one particular idea. We can say, OK, hey, I’m really crafty with words. What am I going to do with this particular skill? What do I have time for and how much am I going to sell it for so that food is still on my table, the roof is still over my head, that future me is still cared for?

Kira Hug: And how have you evolved your business over the last few years? I know you’ve moved away from brand voice, I believe, and some copywriting. So how have you shifted your enoughness and what you have time for, what you don’t have time for?

Helen Tremethick: Yeah. Thanks for asking. I have shifted in a lot of ways and I think it has been more of a deepening than a pivot or so quick to call a pivot. And oftentimes it’s not really pivoting, but a deepening into the work that we do. So though I don’t sell myself as a brand voice strategist or a copywriter, any longer. A writer will always write. I don’t do public-facing copywriting, but I still will do copywriting for a good project because yum. But a lot of the way that I work now is through, I have a group membership called the Love and Badassery Motorcycle Club. We meet every other week for hot seat sessions. I also have guest experts come in during the summer and we do quarterly planning. There’s a whole headquarters where people can pick up courses about brand voice strategy, about finding your ideal audience, about writing your website copy. So the other stuff, the doing stuff, the stuff that’s on the task list and a lot of the things that we talk about, we do talk about copy sometimes, but a lot of the things we talk about is really that capacity planning and And is this idea a good idea? Does it work for me and my business? So the way that the work I’ve done has shifted has gone from that brand voice strategy, from that copywriting into a deeper place of what will work for me, what will work for me and my business in my particular way, showing up the way that I do. That is the primary question that I help people answer. And then once we know that, the words come pretty easy.

Rob Marsh: So I’m curious, Helen, how you promote your business now, you know, as you’re not talking about copy, copywriting, you know, how do you get the word out about what you do and how you help? What does that all look like?

Helen Tremethick: Oh, it’s the same as ever, Rob. I write my list. I promote my list on the socials. I meet people. I do workshops. I was recently at a workshop for the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and I’m running another one in a couple of weeks. Also, I was working with virtual gurus a couple of months ago, it’s really just the same way as ever. But referencing that old way versus new way and really emphasizing making connections to people, seeing how we can reciprocally help each other, build our communities together, and then support each other that way. So it’s deeper than a referral situation. It’s much deeper than affiliate. Yeah, that’s essentially it, is really knocking on doors, shaking hands, and kissing babies, but with a six-foot radius.

Kira Hug: How does permaculture fit into how you think about your business and working with clients? Because I don’t think you were working on or living on your farm when we last chatted, right?

Helen Tremethick: I was here. We were fairly new. I think we’d been here only two years or so. So we were still fairly new when we had moved here. And it is, as you’re alluding to, it’s a permaculture farm that we live on called Three Acre Permaculture. And we bring students here. We teach them how to do permaculture, usually in a real land-based way. Although we speak about social permaculture quite a bit. How do we engage with each other? And that is one of the ways that permaculture fits into my business is through that people care aspect of permaculture. But more than anything, I call myself a regenerative business designer. And the reason being is that I like to look at businesses as an ecosystem. And this is where the permaculture comes into play. That when we’re thinking about any ecosystem, we want to think about what factors in. 

So for ourselves and our businesses, as we started at the top of the call, we were talking about Who am I responsible for? What am I responsible for? Who am I affecting? Who am I impacting? So not just my business and my family, but also my clients and their families, their communities, my community. These are all pieces of this ecosystem, albeit like further along ripples. When we start thinking about all of those, so, you know, Who am I marketing to? What does my business model look like? How am I shepherding my money properly? When we’re thinking about all of these pieces, it’s not just what am I selling for how much money and then making that money with a real top-down look. We’re looking at what else is impacted? How do I work well? How do I show up to business? How much time and energy do I have? If I’m chronically ill, I don’t have nearly as much time and energy as perhaps somebody who isn’t dealing with the same challenges that I am. So then we need to factor that in. 

And that’s the business ecosystem. And that’s where permaculture comes into play. It’s like, what are the impacts? What are the factors? What do we need to consider while we’re building this out? And then when we do, then we can start talking about how we’re going to talk about it.

Rob Marsh: I kind of want to ask you to do a workshop with us right now, because we’re talking about this very theoretically. But it might be really easy to say, oh, well, you’ve got to think about these inputs and how things fit together. But at the end of the day, when I’m sitting down to actually build my business, I’m like, OK, what products am I going to offer? Well, I’m going to do website copy. But that doesn’t actually relate to this other thing that I want to do, which is teaching workshops in businesses. They’re different. And so it feels like talking about it is easy and the practicality of this is really difficult, especially to get it right in a way that produces the kind of revenue, the kind of time, all of the positive outputs that you want. As I think about it, I’ve said this in one or two other places. I see a lot of experts online talking about, Oh, if I had to build my business again, I would do it this other way. I would do something different. I’d show up for my kids’ soccer games and I would make sure that there’s time to cook dinner. And the reality is that oftentimes that’s rewriting the very things that made them successful. Like if they had done that the first time around, they wouldn’t have this business that everybody admires. Right. So again, I know this is a long winded way of trying to get into some of these details, because this stuff is really hard.

Helen Tremethick: It is really hard. Right at the get go, I was like, well, it depends. This is not an easy button to hit. And I think that’s where it kind of sucks as an answer, like it’s not pithy, it’s not shiny, and it’s not certainly not convenient. But you know, you were talking about like, let’s workshop this. So you want to write website copy, but you also want to run workshops. Like, let’s talk about, you know, the through line there. Do you want to run workshops on website copy? Or do you want to run workshops on something else?

Rob Marsh: I mean, if I again, I threw that out as a hypothetical, so that’s not really what I want to do. But if I did want to teach workshops in businesses, it would probably be around like persuasion and copywriting as opposed because, you know, if I go into a business, they only have one website, right? So teaching them website writing would be less practical than other things I could teach them.

Helen Tremethick: 100%. So then what you’ve spoken about there is a little bit about who you really want to work with and also that through line of the writing copy, which will be like persuasion copy, and then teaching workshops on persuasive writing. So there’s a through line. It’s not two different things at all. It’s just doing and teaching, which a lot of people do. They just hybridize. So then I would say, you know, you want to be home for dinner, you want to cook dinner every night. So at what point in time do you need to leave the office in order to make that happen?

Rob Marsh: Well, unfortunately I get to work at home. If I was working in an office, you know, that’s probably got to be some time around four or five o’clock, you know, that traditional end of day. When I’m working for myself, I tend to stay longer, which is kind of ironic, right? Because I’m working on my own business. So it’s easy to justify and I like it. So yeah, oftentimes I’m not done here till six 30 or seven.

Helen Tremethick: Yeah, yeah. And I think there’s a saying about that, about how we get into business to work 60 hours to avoid working for 40 hours for someone else. You know, it’s very, very common. So what I would say is, okay, do you like, do you like working until 637? Or is it part of a pattern or something in between?

Rob Marsh: I mean, I like what I do, and so when I’m working that late, I don’t end the day thinking, I hate that I have to work these extra three hours. But that also means that, OK, what if I took those three hours and used them differently? I don’t have little kids at home, so it would probably be more me-focused time. It means that I could get out on my bike, or I could spend time reading, or I could sit out on the porch and just sort of watch the neighborhood, which I love to do, by the way. I just love to sit out there and just kind of look at stuff. So it’s trading something that’s valuable to me for something else that’s also valuable to me.

Helen Tremethick: Right. So this is great because it means that we don’t have to force your schedule in any particular way. And I use the word force very, very lightly for the word force. But I would then ask. So this 6: 30 to 7:00, when you’re working over, Is it because of, are you hyper focused on something? Is it like you get into the zone and then all of a sudden it’s 7?

Rob Marsh: Sometimes, but not always. Sometimes I’m just doing stuff, right? Checking, clearing out the inbox or, you know, wrapping stuff up that probably isn’t a priority.

Helen Tremethick: Right. Okay. So this is really good noticing as well. Cause if you’re in the zone, there’s something really beautiful about being in the zone. And I do not ever want to be like, you get out of there.

Rob Marsh: That’s the thing that I hate about pomodoros. It’s like pomodoros are really good for getting started but when that timer goes off and you have to stand up like, wait a second, it’s working right now and who knows if it’s still going to be working in five more minutes, right?

Helen Tremethick: Exactly so this tells us though that for you specifically that um and beautifully you have the spaciousness to do this, that when you’re in the zone, that you allow some flexibility there. In this hypothetical case, you really like cooking, but on those hyper-focused days, you don’t really have time for it because it’s a little bit late. you have your meal prepped stuff in the freezer that you can pop into the oven or what have you so that you’re still eating really well. So now we’re taking care of Rob’s body and Rob’s brain, but we also want to start thinking about Well, you want to run workshops. So you want to run workshops as well. And you want to run workshops for companies that, OK, they already have a website, but they want to do more persuasive writing in-house, which sounds a whole lot like consulting with bigger organizations, which then sounds a whole lot like daytime workshops, and maybe on sites.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, I mean, I would entertain any of those for sure. Yeah.

Helen Tremethick: Right. So with an onsite, with an onsite, then we’re looking at more travel time. Is your life fluid enough that you could go and travel and come back? Are you open to that kind of idea?

Rob Marsh: Yeah, mine is at this point in my life. It is for sure.

Helen Tremethick: Great. Okay. So, and the other, the offset of onsites is that they also tend to pay more than a virtual workshop. So you can offer virtual stuff if you want to, but you also have that flexibility to move and therefore also um, balance out that, that income as well. So in this hypothetical place of, you know, like rejigging Rob’s business to start incorporating workshops along with writing website copy, we’re thinking about making sure that you still are eating well, making sure that you notice whether you’re in the zone or whether you’re doing non-priority work. And if you’re doing non-priority work, creating a ritual or a system so that you’re like, nope, I’m out of here. I’m going to go sit on the porch because that’s my lovely place. So we’re thinking about that. So this is ecosystem stuff. We’re also starting to think about, okay, so who am I going to want to connect with? Well, I want to connect with these bigger organizations. They can start looping through. You write their websites and then you come in and teach them how to build that further. So then they refer you to somebody else, and you give them an affiliate or something like that. And then you do the same. You write their website. You come in. You teach workshops for them on how to build out that voice further. So maybe they want to do one-offs, or maybe they want to do series. This is where you can start building out from there. But these are also the pieces that we need to consider when we’re shifting out robbed business. Now, let’s say, hypothetically, in this situation, you do have little kids at home. So that means, then, that you’re not so flexible to travel, and you may want that cutoff time. But you probably, let’s say, your kids are school age, you then have this school hour period where you can run virtual workshops. Maybe you want to start doing regular webinars once a week. Maybe you want to do training for organizations during the day. So there are ways to start playing with that, and you can see how it would shift if we factor in school-age kids.

Rob Marsh: Yeah, yeah. I’m hopefully talking through some of that. I didn’t really mean to hijack the last 15 minutes or whatever, but so much of this is esoteric in theory, and it’s really helpful, at least I hope it’s helpful, to take it down to this level. It’s like, okay, this is actually how I would apply it in my business and think through some of this stuff. We should probably take the next 15 minutes and think through Kira’s business because she does have little kids. She does go through the struggle that I don’t have.

Kira Hug: Yeah. No, I mean, I think it all makes sense and I really like the part about looping back and finding clients that then want workshops, and then finding referral partners. And so it’s all kind of coming back to you. And it feels a little bit easier than starting over with every single client, and starting from scratch, and then trying to get the workshops going. So I think that’s where that permaculture model really resonates with me. As someone who’s listening to this, they might think, well, I want to move away from copy. Or maybe I still want to do copy, but I want to do more coaching and consulting. What advice would you give them to help them move in that direction?

Helen Tremethick: I would say, firstly, I’m so glad that that resonated with you, even though Rob’s life and your life look very different. And also that when we’re making shifts in our businesses, I spoke earlier a little bit about how we’re very quick to call it a pivot and oftentimes our work is really more of a deepening. So if you’re being called toward coaching, you’re being called toward teaching workshops, I would ask, what do you really love teaching? What do you really get on a soapbox about? What are you really interested in? And then starting to build out from there. You know, we talked four years ago about taking the idea of a workshop and then making it smaller and making it smaller, making it smaller, making it into a tiny, tiny little bite. And that’s what I would say for somebody who’s looking to do that switch. What’s the tiny bite that you can then offer that out? And maybe it is an about page webinar. Have a go, have a little play and see how it goes. If it goes really well and you’re like, I’m going to run that again, run it again. If it goes really well and you’re like, actually, I have some things to say about the homepage. Let’s talk about that. Then you can start running a series of workshops. Really, you know, we have three rules in my house. It’s show up, do your best, try and have fun. And so often They apply to everything. So somebody who’s switching from copywriting to coaching or to teaching or workshopping, that’s what I would say. Show up. What are you interested in? Give it a try. Do your best, whatever that looks like on that given day, and then try and have fun with it. The only thing I would add is then to reflect back and say, okay, so how did that work? How did that feel? Did it feel aligned? Is this something I wanna do again? Is this something that I really want to explore further? And lather, rinse, repeat.

Rob Marsh: So we’ve sort of danced around this idea of relationships and I think this idea of deepening applies to those as well. But the facts of life of the last couple of years have sometimes made relationships difficult or harder to establish or maintain. The fact that so many of us work virtually as opposed to in offices, For a lot of copywriters, that was the way it was before. But many of us are introverts, and so establishing those kinds of relationships can take time. And when you don’t have face-to-face, in-person time, that’s really hard to develop. So we don’t have a ton of time left, but maybe we can talk a little bit about this idea of deepening relationships and how do we create them, foster them, grow them with all of the stuff that’s happened or that we’re dealing with still over the last couple of years?

Helen Tremethick: Yeah. This is a great question. I find that it’s a beautiful thing to find a like-minded soul on the internet. It just really is, especially if you’re introverted, especially if you live rurally and my closest city is an hour away. I am not going to the business events. It just is not going to happen. So it’s a beautiful thing to find a like-minded soul on the internet, and that is where I would start. That’s my recommendation across the board, is lean into your like-minded soul. Ask them who you ought to know. Ask them to a virtual cup of coffee. I regularly invite people to come and have a virtual cup of tea with me. I will offer you the link as well if you want to share it to your audience. People can come and have a little cuppa. We can get to know each other. There’s no sale. It’s just two people making a connection. I think that marketing really needs to go in that direction with us, not thinking as much about How are we selling this? And so much more on us being two humans showing up, having a conversation and seeing how we can build community together.

Kira Hug: Yeah, I like that. I love that you just gave out your, your scheduling link as well, that you’re open, you know, that you’re that open to sharing. And I think that’s where it starts, right?

Helen Tremethick: Yeah, absolutely. That’s where it starts. And, you know, sometimes you get on a call and you’re like, Hey, it was good to meet you. And we probably won’t do this again. And that’s all right. Right?

Rob Marsh: Like, that’s every call I’m on. Thanks, Rob.

Helen Tremethick: But that’s, we’ve had enough. I’ve come back, I came back again. It’s really just about making those connections. And I am that open with my calendar. I will also say, I am in charge of my calendar. What you see there is not all of my availability all of the time because, well, because capacity. So for cups of tea, I open up a certain number of spots in my week where I can meet somebody new. Whether I call that marketing, or whether I call that community building, or whether I call it having a cup of tea with a stranger, it doesn’t really matter. And so if anybody takes that idea, I would say, please be careful with your calendar. If you’re going to open it up, make sure that you open it up in a very particular way that you can work with. That’s really key.

Kira Hug: That’s great advice. And before we wrap, we started talking about transparency at the beginning, I think before we hit record. What would you like to see copywriters, online business owners, maybe just all business owners, being more transparent about as we move forward?

Helen Tremethick: Oh, my goodness, Kira. Like, everything. Can I just say everything? so curated, we’re so crafted, we’re so polished. We want everything to be just so. And I don’t mean, you know, the vulnerability porn of pouring our eyes out all over the internet. I don’t mean necessarily airing our dirty laundry or telling the world about everything that’s happening. But I do mean You’re talking about how business is really going. Is it really going well or not? Because it’s really hard to tell what’s genuine and what’s not because we’ve gotten so good at polishing it, at curating it. So I would say off the top, business, acquiring business, money. Money would be a really great one to be transparent about. Our numbers in this industry are across the board. You can find somebody to write for very, very little, and you can find somebody to write the exact same thing with a whole lot. The vast majority of us are somewhere in the middle. I’m not asking for a regulatory body, but I do think that having more transparency out would be really helpful for people who are coming new into the industry as to what to charge, what to expect. Also, for those of us who have been around for a while, whether we need to be upping our prices or not. I mean, yes, probably yes. But still, these are something I think that would be really beneficial to us as a whole, if we were more transparent about it.

Rob Marsh: This whole conversation’s been great. A little different from our typical, how do you write subject lines and the business of copywriting, but a nice take on how to think about this just a little bit differently and maybe something that more of us need to spend some time on. So Helen, if people want to connect with you or get in touch, learn more about your approach, where should they go?

Helen Tremethick: Thanks, Rob. Yeah, it’s been great being here. I’m at Helen Tremethick. everywhere. So that’s It’s hellentraumatic on Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, just on TikTok, even though I haven’t posted there. I just went and grabbed the handle. But hey, follow me there anyway. Maybe I’ll show up and dance at some point in time. So yeah, I’m hellentraumatic everywhere. And I’ll also give you the link to my have a cup of tea with me. I’m really just super open and interested to have more of these types of conversations. And if people are interested in thinking about what they need to focus on next for their businesses, they can grab my freebie. It’s at slash beyond sustainable. And that’ll be in the show notes as well.

Rob Marsh: Awesome. Thank you.

Kira Hug: Thank you.

Helen Tremethick: Thank you.

Rob Marsh: And that’s the end of our interview with Helen Tremethick. There’s quite a bit there to think about and unpack. So I’m just going to emphasize a couple of things that I made notes about as we were talking with Helen. 

First, as we mentioned in the interview, I’ve heard a few people recently say this is not a good time to go into copywriting. But I want to be clear, I’m still bullish on copywriting as a career and as a needed skill. Even if clients are using AI tools, you need to understand the principles of copywriting in order to use them properly or to get the most out of them. Now, to be sure, it is harder to get started. It’s getting harder to get that experience, that starting out experience, because tools like ChatGPT and Claude are taking some of that low hanging work that used to act as training projects for new copywriters. That kind of work is likely gone forever. But the truth is, you didn’t want to do that kind of work, certainly not forever. So if you can add the copywriting and persuasion skills that you need to operate at a higher level, there’s still an opportunity in the worlds of content and copy. 

And I’ll just mention quickly, our Copywriting Mastery course can help you develop some of those skills if you’re lacking them. And our Copywriter Accelerator course is designed to help with the development of the business skills that you need in order to succeed. And if that’s where you are in your career, those tools might help you. You might want to check them out. 

One other thing that I wanted to add to what Helen shared, when we’re creating businesses that free up time for life outside of our work or enable us to do other things, you have to be able to charge more for the work that you do. Most of us want to work fewer hours, but the house payment or the grocery bills, Those don’t go down when you work less. In fact, thanks to inflation, they’ve been going up. But working less can lower your income if you don’t charge more for the work that you’re doing. And to make sure that you are charging enough, you need to understand the value that you create for your clients rather than simply accepting what someone online says that you can charge for a copywriting or a content type project. There’s a bit of science to doing this. You have to ask the right questions before you start the work so that you can tease out the details and do the math so that it’s clear exactly how much money your email sequence or your sales page or your content is going to bring into your client’s business. This is another thing that we talk about in the Copywriter Accelerator, so you can learn more about that at 

Okay, thanks again to Helen for joining us to talk about capacity planning and business transformation and so much more. You can find her at If you would like to connect with her, I highly encourage you to do that. 

This is the end of this episode of the Copywriter Club podcast. 


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