Belinda Ellsworth is our guest on the 299th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Belinda is a drummer turned direct sales expert who opens the conversation about mastering your craft. She is the author of a #1 international best seller, “Direct Selling for Dummies,” and successfully grew her podcast which is part of the iHeartRadio platform.
Take a peek inside Belinda’s genius:
- Belinda’s journey from rock band to a side-hustle in direct sales.
- Becoming a sales and motivational speaker and transitioning into a consultant helping companies scale from $1-$20 million.
- Why Belinda decided to go all-in on a podcast – and her invitation to iHeartRadio.
- How being a drummer set her up for success in every other area of her career.
- The secret behind Belinda’s success in podcast growth and becoming a skilled interviewer.
- How mastering your craft will accelerate your growth, career, and lifestyle.
- The importance of vetting guests before letting them jump on the show.
- How to analyze data and make improvements when you want to grow anything.
- Sales conversations – What’s the deal with those?
- The 4 strategies Belinda offers to become a better salesperson (even if you’re a beginner).
- What does it take to start consulting? How are you supposed to package your expertise?
- How can you become an expert at anything?
- Why you need to restructure your onboarding process and how it will take you to the next level.
- The real deal on client and customer retention.
- How to get more done through the 4 pillars of success.
- Structuring your power hour – How Belinda moves the needle in her business.
- Are you letting the day run you?
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Accelerator Waitlist
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Rob Marsh: Today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is a little different from normal for a couple of reasons. First, our guest, Belinda Ellsworth, isn’t a copywriter, she’s a podcaster, a business consultant, and a productivity expert. And what she shares about getting started in business, having confidence, sales, and even thinking about the right metrics is going to give you a lot to think about. The second reason this podcast is a little different is that I am here alone today. Kira’s on vacation. And usually when that happens, we ask a guest to join us, to talk about what we’re learning from the episode. But, well, I took some time off earlier this week as well. So we just didn’t have enough time to schedule a guest. I hope you don’t miss the back and forth that we normally have, as I share some of the stuff that stands out to me most from this episode.
And without Kira here, I’ll also tell you that this episode is sponsored by The Copywriter Accelerator. That’s our program that’s designed to give you the blueprint, the structure, the coaching, the direction, and the community that you need to accelerate your business growth in about four months so that you can go from overwhelmed freelancer to fully booked business owner. We’re going to be opening up The Copywriter Accelerator for new members next month. And if you’d like to get on the waitlist to make sure that you’re the first person to hear the details, especially about the early bird pricing rate and information about the program. When it opens up in August, you’ll want to go to thecopywriteraccelerator.com and join the waitlist. And we’ll also link to that in the show notes in case you’re not able to write that down. Okay. So let’s jump into our interview with Belinda and learn how she became an expert in sales.
Belinda Ellsworth: Well, it goes way back to gosh, nearly 40 years ago, I just started doing in a direct sales business, as a side hustle while I was pursuing a music career. So I was just doing that. I was playing full-time and doing this on the side just to supplement between gigs. And it worked, and I made really good money, and that was like I said, I was 18 when that was going on. And then when I actually started a family and then I wasn’t traveling with the band and deciding I wasn’t going to be a rockstar anymore. I said, “You know what? I was pretty good at this. I’m going to really dive in and be serious about it.” So I, myself, just was really, really good at sales and developed those skill sets. And I would be asked to speak at different conferences on why I was doing as well as I was doing.
And that really led to a couple of really top-level motivational speakers at that time hearing me and saying, “This is what you need to be doing. You need to be teaching other people how to do this for a living.” And so that was in 1995 when I decided to branch out and start my own company, teaching people how to be better in sales and doing motivational speaking and sales training. And I really did that up until 2004, hardcore. And even in 2004, I continued to be a motivational speaker, but I started consulting because I had my daughter. So I restarted my family. I’ve got 20 years between my kids. And so when I had her, I was like, “I really don’t want to be on the road eight, ten times a month.” So I started consulting with other companies and really was able to take a couple of companies from a million to 20 million in a short window of time. And so learned some real basic onboarding skill sets that have really been tremendous in helping other companies.
So that’s been my journey of how my business has morphed, and it’s been exciting because five years ago, I started my podcast, which really was about entrepreneurs and had absolutely nothing really to do with direct sales specifically. And during COVID then, because I wasn’t on the road at all, then I put my energies into consulting and then put my energies into my podcast and that’s really paid off really well. So it goes back to what you put… We were just asked to be part of the iHeartRadio platform, which is huge.
Rob Marsh: Congratulations.
Kira Hug: Oh my gosh, that’s amazing.
Belinda Ellsworth: I know that just happened last week. And so it was like, “Wow.” And it goes back to that old saying of where you put your focus is what you will get. If you put your focus on things positively and where you really want to go, that will increase and get better. And if you are constantly chaotic and divided and not sure about where you are putting your energies, you oftentimes won’t get the desired result that you want. I’ve known that all over the years, I’ve taught it over the years, but that really was the proof in the pudding again because when COVID happened and I lost every single speaking engagement I had for a whole year, they just started … I had a year’s worth of business booked and in five days, every single bit of it was gone. And I’ve got a staff of six and I’m like, “How are we going to support them? And not only them, but ourselves?”
It was a big pivot and figuring it out; and it was a struggle year, but we managed. And I put my focus in two key areas instead of this huge umbrella, and it paid off. And it has been exciting to see that again, where you put your focus and that works for both positive and negative. If you constantly put your focus on negative energy and how this is too hard to do, and I don’t really have any leads and I don’t know what’s going to happen, that’s going to be your result as well. So it works for both ends of that spectrum of both positive and negative focus.
Rob Marsh: Belinda, I want to go back to something you said at the very beginning of your story, you were in a rock band. Tell us about that experience and how that has impacted where you are today.
Belinda Ellsworth: Sure. So, believe it or not, I was a drummer. And at that time, there really weren’t a lot of female drummers. I’ve always been paving that way, even going back to the fifth and sixth grade, it’s like I was always the only female, and that continued through high school. And then being in a band there still aren’t that many. There’s a lot more to date than there ever was in the past. So I was a drummer and I would say for that, just like anything, and this is an area where people aren’t willing to do because I’ve been interviewing artists. We’ve changed our show up to be Monday is entrepreneurs and Thursday; artists.
And every single one of them is, “You’ve got to master your craft.” And so, I would be practicing all of the time, even in school. If they said, “Practice 30 minutes.” I practiced for an hour. If they said, “Do this.” I did it longer. So it’s like, you have to master your craft. That means doing it. It means practice. It means, if they’re writers and they’re copywriters, you need to be writing a lot. You need to be honing that skill, not sitting around and just waiting for something to come your way. And so I would say that is why I started performing, at 15, 16 years old. By the time I was 18 and out of high school, I was playing six nights a week.
So do I think that helped me then when I became a presenter and a motivational speaker? For sure, the confidence piece, you’ve already been on a stage, you’ve already had people that you’ve been able to deal with nerves and things like that. But other than that, the drummer’s always the one on the back. You’re not upfront. I think at the end of the day, the more you master your craft, the more confident that you are and confidence comes through knowledge in doing and practicing. And that allows you to be more confident, either on stage, talking to prospects, whatever the case may be, the more confident you feel inside, and the more you believe in yourself inside, the more that’s projected out. And a lot of that comes from doing just practice.
Rob Marsh: So we all just need to be drummers, maybe playing Phil Collins in a gorilla suit.
Kira Hug: I love this advice around what you put your focus on and your energy into that is what will make it, or it could break you, like you said if it’s negative. So can you give an example or just talk us through what that looked like for you as you put all your focus on the podcast, and then it sounds like also consulting? Maybe we can speak to the podcast first? Because as a fellow podcaster, it sounds really cool to be on iHeartRadio. And clearly, you’ve done a lot of great things. What do those action steps actually look like during this past year?
Belinda Ellsworth: Well, so for one thing that I did, I wanted to master my craft, and I’d been doing the podcast for five years. And definitely, if you go back and listen to the first one I ever did versus a more recent one, there’s quite a bit of difference there, but not a remarkable difference because I already was used to talking and being on stage. But I went and listened. So every time I was walking, every time I was on a treadmill, every time I had some free time, I was listening to some top podcasts. And I was honing my skill as an interviewer, learning to make it more conversational and learning how to do that opening just a little smoother. I really got in deep. How can I button this up a little bit? How can I be a better interviewer?
And I just listened to a ton and took what I liked and threw out what you don’t like. You know what I mean? There’s that saying, you eat the fish, and you leave the bones. It’s like, you don’t have to change everything you’re doing. Oftentimes it’s a tweak. It’s a little tiny one-piece of advice that I’m going to pull from that person that I like. Here’s a little tiny piece of advice I’m going to pull from this over here. And I don’t think people often look at their businesses like that either. They, “Oh, I’m going to completely change what I’m doing, and I’m going to go do it like this person, or I’m going to now follow this path.” And I do think you learn little skill sets along the way. So that was the first thing that we did.
The second thing that we did was, really started talking to our listeners and saying, “Share this.” And we ran a contest for people that shared and gave away some free products for people that went and listened to the podcast. I actually ran a challenge in my other 30-day challenge group, of different things that they could do in sales. But one of those days on Sundays was to go listen to one of our podcast episodes. And then they got points for doing that. It was one of the challenges each week. And so people started listening to it and then they liked it and then they were telling others about it. And so I really became clear about being a better interviewer and getting better guests. And that took a lot of digging through LinkedIn and getting bold and we were just gotten comfortable sitting back, waiting for the different, I call them, they’re like speakers bureaus, but the ones for podcasts, the ones that people pay to get them on shows we still have about six or seven of those that send us people regularly.
And I appreciate that. And I still look at those, but it’s like, “Okay, we need people with a bigger following.” Getting really clear, turning down people that only had 500 people on Facebook or had no mailing list whatsoever. There’s other podcasts that they can get started on. We took a lot of those people in the early days, but now we’re beyond that. We need people that are going to be bringing in several listeners in a day, in addition to the listeners we have. And so I became very focused on what guest I wanted. And I told my team, if they don’t have this many people, then we can’t have them.
But at the same token, there were people of a certain age who only say had 1500 people on Facebook or whatever. And then I had to teach my team, “You got to ask the other questions. How many people do they have in their mailing list?” Because some people that are of a certain age aren’t on Facebook, or they never built that, but they’ve got a hundred thousand people on their mailing list or 20,000 or 50,000 and trying to teach my team that it isn’t just about how many people are on Facebook. They weren’t asking the questions. They were just doing the research themselves. And I’m like, “No, we got to dig in, find out how do you plan?” We have the right to ask. That’s what I had to tell my team, “This is sales, they want to get on our show to promote themselves. So we have the right to ask, how do you plan to promote this?”
And our team was real shy about that. I think in the beginning, we were taking this attitude of, “We’re happy to get whoever we get.” And it was like that five years ago, I’ll be super honest, but it isn’t anymore. And you got to behave that way. You got to go after what’s going to move the needle. And I became very clear about moving that needle. One, improving my own skills and not saying, “Well, I’m pretty good at this. And I’ve been told I’m a pretty good interviewer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better.” So I really honed in on that. I honed in on getting better guests, I honed in on taking the people listeners that we already have and using them to go out and share this with their friends. And those three key components have certainly contributed to now we have over 40,000 downloads a month where we didn’t before. So it’s exciting.
Rob Marsh: Can we go a little bit deeper on this, Belinda? As you started focusing on growing your podcast, what did you do? How did you get your team focused on growth?
Belinda Ellsworth: Do you know what? It’s interesting, you’re asking that question. And when you first asked it, my brain went, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to say?” And then I’m like, “Of course, I know the answer to that.” And it is something that I made my whole team start doing at the beginning of COVID, which we had gotten away from. I’m a huge numbers girl, and I always have been. I watch my numbers and I’m always trying to increase those numbers. So I would say to you, and I know this because I did research on it. I just wrote a chapter in a book on numbers and especially women.
So there are two sides to this. 80% of people, small business owners, don’t even keep a profit and loss statement. So they don’t even really know, “Okay, how much did we really make? How much did we spend? What was our profit? Where can I fix that? Where could I go in and say, okay, we need to eliminate some of these expenses? Is there another way to double up on this? Or is there another way to achieve this?” So that’s one area, but if you don’t know where you’re at, then how do you know where you can grow to? And I was just doing the podcast every week and not really looking at how many downloads did we have? What is the average per episode? How can we increase that unless you know where you are?
So then I started tracking it and watching the thing. Soon as I started tracking it and then saying, “Okay, if I want to change this number, what are the behaviors that I would need to change?” And so I would say to you that knowing your numbers on anything, even when you want to increase your Facebook followers, well, how many do you have? What’s your goal? What’s a target goal that we could try to increase by even a hundred in a week? So if you want to increase it by a hundred in a week, what are things you can do? And you can invite people, you can get those people to tag other people and invite them. There’s things that you can do, but if you don’t know where you are and then you measure it the next week, I make my team do a whole measurement. Now we’ve got ten different things we measure every week. Then I got to tell you; they were really push back.
And some of them were like, “Do we have to do this every week? What is the purpose of this every week?” And I’m like, “The purpose is we can’t change our behavior if we don’t even know if what we’re doing is working or not working. And how do you measure that?” So I would say, numbers is the very first thing that people need to start honing in on.
Kira Hug: I want to jump over back to sales from numbers and just tracking sales numbers would be a great place to start. Copywriters tend to struggle with sales conversations. It’s hard for many of us. And you clearly did this really well. Maybe it’s natural. What would you say to someone who feels like it’s not natural to me? This is a struggle. Is it possible for me to improve when I’m not a Belinda and I just don’t have that in me.
Belinda Ellsworth: I teach four basic strategies to increase sales and the last one is going to be the most important one. And I think the one that’s most relevant for your copywriters, but number one is to use good adjectives. So most people, whether they realize it or not, they get stuck on a word on how they’re describing themselves. And like, “Oh this is incredible. This is so incredible. This is going to be incredible. We’re going to have an incredible experience.” So when they’re pitching themselves, they sound ridiculous. So it’s learning to practice.
If I’m going to be pitching myself or pitching a product or a service, what are some good adjectives that I can use to describe this service or this product, and making sure that your vocabulary is nice and well rounded. Because if you could listen back to yourself and say, “It’s awesome. It’s so awesome.” And a lot of people listening back to yourself. When I did my first CDs, actually my first training was on cassette tapes, because you’re nervous, I said, I can’t even tell you, a thousand times in that. “Okay, so. Okay, so.” And so it was like, “Oh my gosh, I heard myself.”
And I remember being in sales and I was selling crystals in China. That was one of the first things that I sold. And so I would say every time, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. “Oh, this next item is so special. This one is really special.” And one time I was doing a presentation and one of the people in the presentation said, “You know who you remind me of? The church lady on Saturday Night Live.” And I was like, mortified, because if you’ve ever seen that skit, it’s horrible. So I was like, “I’m never saying special again.” So I started-
Rob Marsh: Isn’t that special?
Belinda Ellsworth: …Isn’t that special? So I was like, “Oh my gosh, I got to start using some different words.” So that’s first, use good adjectives to describe your product or service and make sure that you’re versatile in those. Good catchphrases or adjectives are a must-have. This will move your needle. This will increase your revenue. What are those good catchphrases and good adjectives that are going to be beneficial? Number two is, use testimonials. Testimonials are the single most powerful ingredient that moves people to take action. They don’t just want to hear you say; I’ve done this. Now I have a client who experienced this. I worked with a company that saw this result. And if you can actually have testimonials, like on your page, on your material, on anything about the experience that a client had.
I can’t tell you how many people that want to do business with me. And then I’ll say, “Great, could I get a couple of referrals?” And they go blank. They’re like, “Oh, I don’t know about that.” Well, if you can’t give me a referral on a happy client that you’ve worked with, you’re not working with me. And I’m shocked at how many people say, “Well, I don’t really have any references that I can give you.” It’s like, “Then you should go back to the drawing board and work a little harder at what you want to sell, at how you’re pitching yourself.” So number two is good testimonials, good results-driven testimonials. Where did you make an impact? Where did you make a difference?
Number three, this is probably not so much for your copywriters, but this is a number three in a sales tip, but learn to sell in bundles. And what that might mean for your client is a package. Like, “I can do this for you but if you bundle this together, it’s this price.” So it helps people to see more of what they need. It goes back to the old days of McDonald’s. McDonald’s introduced the value meals and literally within a month they were the first one of all the fast foods that came up with a numbered value meal. It had increased their drive-through business almost overnight by 65%, because it saved time. It saved money and people were wasting time with, “What do I want?”
But then when you tell them, here’s what you want. You want a package one; it’s a burger, a fry, and a Coke. It’s like, “Okay, I want a fish sandwich and a fry and a Coke.” And so it was, “I’ll take number nine, I’ll take a number two.” And it increased the speed at which people got through the line. It helped people come to a decision quicker. And in sales, we want to help people come to that decision quicker. So by bundling, by offering packages and letting people know, this is what you’re getting, and then helping them make that decision. Like, “Oh yeah.” When they’re reading it, “This is what I want. This is what I need for my business. Oh, this is definitely what we can do. Oh, they offer all of this. Bam, let’s go with them because they’re offering this.”
When you tell people, “I can do whatever you want.” “So, what do you want?” “Oh, I don’t know. I can do whatever you want.” “What do you need?” “I don’t know what I need.” So if people knew what they needed, then they wouldn’t be out talking to you. You got to help them see what they need or what you’re going to provide, which then leads us to number four, which is the biggest of all. And that is, when you are selling, I’d say 80, 90% of people sell from a descriptive point of view. And this isn’t even for just selling. This is how you write because we’re selling when we’re writing, especially in copy for a sales course or a sales product. And I’ll give some examples on this in a minute, but it’s descriptive versus a benefit.
So we have this, it can do this. I can do this. No, it should be on the customer. This is what this is going to do for you. This is how it’s going to help you. This is the benefit you are going to receive from this. So I’ve got an awesome writer that writes some of my different training articles. She’s more of a technical writer. So I recently said, and this was something we did on the podcast. So this is going back to this. And it’s a fun thing to take us full circle. But I said to her, “You know what, we’re not sending emails out to our database that we have, which is like 87,000 people. We’re not sending them out and saying, “Hey, listen to this episode.” Because the ones that I listen to the most are the emails that I get from people that say in this episode, you’ll learn about this or whatever. And then I go, “Oh, that sounds interesting.” Click. And I listened to it.
So I said, “We need to be doing that.” And in the beginning, she was listening to the episode and then describing the episode. And I still have to do this with her last week. She did another one. She’s getting better. But I said, “They’re going to go and listen to this and they’ll hear this story. They’ll hear this thing.” I said, “What’s that going to do for the person? You are going to be inspired on how she overcame this. It’s going to move you to want to take action or change. How’s it going to make me feel? What’s it going to do for me?” Instead, she’s writing almost their bio.
“Kira is a copywriter, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. She’s got experience and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. She will do this. You’re going to be so excited to hear LA, LA, LA, LA, LA, LA, LA.” I’m like, “Yay for Kira.” You know what I mean? As a person reading that email, I’m like, “Well, good on her.” But instead, it should be questions. Have you ever wanted to write something that’s more persuasive? Have you ever wanted to do this? Have you ever wanted to get your point across in a way that is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, in this episode, Kira’s going to tell you why it’s so important. You’re going to learn about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you are going to be empowered to just take action.
So now I’m like, “I got to listen to Kira, but prior to that, your bio and where you went to school, that’s all descriptive information. And so I’m having to work with my writer to help her get that. And it’s not easy. She’s a technical writer. She likes to describe everything.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I want to listen to that episode with Kira. So I imagine that some people listening are thinking, “Okay, that’s easy for you to say, Belinda, you’re good at this. You’ve got this experience, but what about beginners? How do they learn how to sell? How do they get that first sales experience? Or maybe not, it’s not even sales. How does a beginner get started?”
Belinda Ellsworth: Absolutely. In the beginning of a career, it’s important to just even ask 10 friends, “Here, I’m going to send this to you. How does this work out? How does this make you feel?” Or offering to do it for a company. I’m even willing to do this free. Sometimes in the beginning, you have to be willing to do some things for somebody that you believe in. “I’d love to do this for you. We’ll do this for a month. We’ll see how it goes.” And then they’re like, “Well, shoot if she’s willing to do this to give it a whirl, we’ll do it.” And then they do. And then they’re like, “Okay, this was amazing.” So then they start charging, but now you’ve got a testimonial.
And I actually just had somebody on my podcast the other day, and he said, “I don’t know if this was the right thing to do or not.” He was a memory champion. And so he started teaching, and he offered to go into some pretty big schools to teach a little one-hour thing on increasing memory and why that’s important. He went to Harvard and did it. And they were like, “Sure, come on in and teach this to our … He taught it to their law school and said, “Here’s why memory is good when you are presenting. You don’t want to stop and have to look down at your paper. You’ll lose the train of thought.” So he went in and did that. And then he goes, “Then I had Harvard on my resume.” And they said, “This was incredible. This was whatever.” He said, “I did Hartford, Stanford, Yale. I did all of those.” I went in and said, “I’m offering to speak to this group of people within your school for free.” And did, and that got him the testimonials.
And that’s probably one of the best ways to do that, honestly, is to offer your services to someone. It could be someone you know even, it could be a friend that has this business and say, “Hey, I need to cut my teeth on this, and you need this. So let me do this.” And then you get a great testimonial at the end of that. So sometimes, when you’re brand new, and you don’t have anything, that is a strategy.
Rob Marsh: All right. So this is where I would normally ask Kira or a guest to share their initial thoughts about what they’ve learned in the interview. But since I’m here alone, I’m just going to jump in and reemphasize a few things that really stand out to me. First of all, as Belinda started out talking, she talked a bit about focusing on the positive and, especially through the pandemic, how she was forced to simplify and focus. And the result, of course, was growth, and she got results. And I think that this is applicable to our businesses as well. When we focus on the positive, when we focus on one or two things, when we simplify our business to just the stuff that drives revenue, just the stuff tbe questioned working on, just the stuff that helps our clients. We will also get results.
Belinda also was talking about the importance of confidence. We talk a lot about confidence on the podcast. You’ve certainly heard us say in the past that confidence comes from doing. That you can’t wait for the confidence and then get up on stage or wait to be confident, and then start working with clients or wait for confidence to show up and then you’re going to start pitching podcasts and get on it. The confidence actually comes from getting on stage and having the experience of speaking in front of people or getting on a podcast and having that back and forth and having to rely on your memory and the things that you want to share so that you sound like an expert in what you do. Confidence comes from doing, but also, Belinda really emphasizes this really well, it comes from being a master of the thing that we do. Mastering the craft is part of confidence.
If you have become an expert in copywriting, if you’ve become an expert in serving your clients. If you’ve become an expert in some other piece of marketing, then that also plays a part in that confidence. I think it’s a one, two-punch. If you can master the craft that you’re going after, then do it. That confidence actually comes and allows you to grow and to take big steps forward in your business.
I also really enjoyed hearing Belinda talk about how she grew her podcast. And I think there are lessons from what she shared for growing any business, not just a podcast, but a blog, a copywriting business, a marketing business of any kind. And that is, number one, get clear on exactly who is right for you. That is who are you serving? Who is the right client? And the more dialed in you can get that, the better.
Asking others to help you promote. Of course we’re always showing up and saying, “Yes, I can help you with that, or I can do that for you.” But oftentimes we shy away from asking clients to talk about us or to share a referral or having our friends, our colleagues promote us in their social media to talk about some of the things that we’re doing. And so making that ask is a big part of growth, getting better at what we do. We were just talking about that, the mastery of the things that we do. And then I love the focus on the numbers. Belinda pointed out, and I agree in talking with so many copywriters. So very few of us know exactly what the numbers are on our profit and loss statement.
Most of us just see there’s money in the bank or there’s money coming in and we don’t focus on how is our business growing? Are we more profitable over time? Are we less profitable over time? And knowing those numbers is really important. We have some trainings in the underground and in the think tank where we actually talk about those numbers and how to find them and how we think about them in our businesses, that are really useful. But regardless of where you do this, understanding more than just what is the bank account number, but the profit and what’s going on in our business, our expenses, really important.
I was thinking, as she’s talking about this, there’s really three kinds of questions. What is that destination? Where is it that you want to go? What do I need to change in order to get there? And how do you measure this? And breaking down how Belinda grew her podcast, those are the things we should be asking about our businesses as well. What is my destination as a copywriter? Where do I want to end up a few months from now, a few years from now? What’s the ultimate place that I want my business to take me? In order to reach that place what do I need to change? What do I need to do differently? What clients do I need to serve? What new products do I need to offer?
And then finally, how do I measure it so that I know that I’m on the right path? Especially so that I can do more of what works and do less of what’s not working for me. So again, those questions, what’s the destination. What do I need to change to get there? And how do you measure this?
Belinda also gave some really good advice around getting good at sales. I’ll just quickly recap them. She talked about knowing how you talk about your business. She described them as using good adjectives and catchphrases, but it’s an elevator statement. It’s that X-factor statement that you’re able to talk about yourself in a way that communicates very clearly what you do so that clients can say, “Oh yeah, I need help with that.” Using testimonials then to drive the story around you, this is the single most powerful thing that drives people towards you is showing that you can actually do the thing that you say you can do.
Belinda talks about selling in bundles. And she actually said that this isn’t as applicable for copywriters, and I’m going to disagree with her there because if you develop a package of different things that can help your client, then you don’t have to keep reselling. Here’s another thing. But you can put together a package that includes, “Oh yeah, I can help with that website. I can also help you put together a lead magnet and a welcome sequence, or all the various things that we can put together.” And so, as you think about the different things that you do in your business, especially if you work with clients with more than one product at a time, or you do work with them on one product and then another product and another product, think about how you can bundle those together to give more value to your clients, but also to generate larger projects for yourself.
And then finally, Belinda talked about not using descriptions or when you talk about yourself, not being description-focused, but rather being benefit-focused. And I would actually take it an extra step. I agree a hundred percent with what she was saying, but it’s not enough even just to talk about benefits. We need to contextualize those for our clients. The famous example is always you don’t need a drill, you need a hole in the wall, but you really don’t need a hole in the wall either, you need a place to hang your bookshelf and you don’t really need a bookshelf, you need a place to put your books, and then there’s even the benefit is when my books are on the wall, I feel better about myself or my friends think that I’m intelligent.
And those are the contextualized benefits that you’re going after. And maybe deep down the bottom of it, the whole reason that you buy the drill isn’t for the hole, it’s not for the shelf, t’s not for the books, it’s because you want a cool-looking drill in your toolset. And it’s the thing that you can brag about to your friends. There’s so many ways of looking at this, by contextualizing benefits so that the person that you’re talking to sees exactly how those descriptions, those features, and the benefits fit into their lives and makes a difference for them is critically important.
Okay, last thing I’ll mention before we get back into the interview is Belinda’s advice on just getting started as a beginner, doing work for close contacts, for friends, acquaintances, maybe former coworkers taking on low-cost projects. Even free projects, which you’re never really working for free. There’s always something else. And I think we’re going to come back to that a little bit later here in the interview, and then finally, making sure that you’re getting feedback and testimonials so that you can use those to grow. All of those things are critical as you start out as a beginning copywriter, as you start out as a beginning consultant, as a marketer, you want to be doing all those things. Okay. So that’s enough for me. Let’s go back to our interview with Belinda and hear what she has to say about the ins and outs of consulting.
Kira Hug: We often talk with copywriters who want to move and pivot like you did. from doing and writing and writing all the deliverables to more of a strategy, problem-solving role, and maybe even calling themselves a consultant. Can you talk a little bit about how you made that pivot and what it even means to be a consultant, and how as copywriters, we can show up as consultants and make that pivot in our business?
Belinda Ellsworth: Sure. I think that you have to be an expert at something, or at least very skilled in something before you become a consultant to something. And again, it’s putting that work in. I worked in sales for 16 years before I left and did my own business. I did 3,500 sales presentations before I actually said, “Okay, I’m going to hang my hat on this.” Now, was that necessary? No, but I never really was encouraged or thought about it. Could I have done that for a year or two maybe, and really got some things under my belt? But you can’t just go be a consultant to someone if you don’t have the experience of which to stand on. And people can see through that pretty quickly. And so is why you’re wanting to do that. For me, it’s always been a shift in my family or a shift in it isn’t because I didn’t like it.
“I don’t like this. You know what? I just want to make the money over here.” It was never that it was like, “All right, I don’t want to be on the road ten times a month because I’ve got a brand new baby, and I really want to be present with her.” So what can I do differently? I had tried my hand at consulting a little bit, but then it was like, “Okay, now I’m going to do it more.” And even in the beginning, it was working with one client and really making an impact. It’s almost like taking yourself to school on somebody and then saying, “Okay, I can now go hang my shingle and say, I am really good at this. Here’s my experience.” So I think that you can’t do it because you just don’t like what you’re doing anymore. You still need to love what you’re doing.
Minds always come out of a need to change or pivot. COVID changed a lot of stuff. My family and where I’m at in my life in that journey has changed different things. But even then I’ve had to gain experience. I have two older children that are in their thirties and then I’ve got my 16-year-old. So it’s an interesting gamut. But a lot of my friends’ sons when they first were graduating from college were coming to me going, “I just want to be a consultant. Or I just want to do what you do.” I’m like, “You haven’t lived life yet. Go get a job. You have to have some experience and be a master at something before then you can consult other people on how to be a master at something.” So that’s my advice in that.
Kira Hug: And let’s say, you have put in that time, you’ve reached that expert level with whatever subject it is. Once you figure that out and decide, this is a good path for me to take. How do you start to think about how to package those consulting packages and even that shift in your business model, how to approach that initially when you’re just getting started as a consultant?
Belinda Ellsworth: Right? When I first became a consultant, it was more with companies that were smaller. And so then they had a smaller budget, but they were smaller in size, and they were wanting to grow. And so then I worked with them, and then now I can go in and work with a company that is at a 5 million dollar point and they want to become a 30 million dollar company or a 10 million dollar company who wants to be a 50 million dollar company. It’s like, you can’t just go in and try to get a 50 million dollar company to want your services when you haven’t hung your shingle up yet. So it’s finding some smaller work. Again, to get in there. It might be at a lower price point than what you would like. When I first started speaking, I decided, and I wouldn’t have probably chosen this, but I said, “Okay, my speech will be $1,500 a per keynote and we got booked. And then pretty soon we were really booked. And then we started charging 2000 and then 2,500.
And then now I’ll get anywhere from 7,500 to 10 grand a day for a 90-minute keynote or for a 60-minute keynote. But you know what? I didn’t get that on day one. And sometimes even when I said 1,500, some people would come back and say, “We just don’t have that, but we’ve got 800. And I like to share this story. I’d hung my shingle up. I was saying 1,500. I had this group call me and say, “All we have in our budget is $300. And would you be willing to do this? Just to speak for like 45 minutes to this group of women, there’s going to be about 25 of them there.” And I remember at the time going, “Oh, like really?” But I did it.
I was like, “What the heck? What else am I doing? I’m not doing anything else.” And at the time phone bills were outrageous. I’m like, “well, 300 bucks I’ll pay my phone bill.” So that’s one expense paid. And I did that. And that speaking gig led to my biggest contract I’ve ever had, and continued to work with that company. I’ve spoken on that company on a national basis, eight different times, it’s been the most lucrative relationship that I’ve had. And I got it because I spoke to this group of 20 women for $300. And that was at the very beginning of my career. So you just have to be willing to put yourself out there and put the time in. And with each thing you get a little bit better.
So decide on your price. Don’t make it outrageous. Go look at what beginning people are getting, what top-notch people are doing, pick where you can be comfortable. And then if you have to compromise on that, compromise on that, because it gets your foot in the door, it allows you to get the testimonials. Because of that group, 20 women went out and took the information I gave them. And they just were killing it to the point where other people were saying, “What are you doing?” “Well, we listened to this woman, and she gave us these tips.” And so then more people started inquiring about it pretty soon. The company was like, “Okay, there’s enough buzz around about you. You need to come and speak at our national event.” And that was to an audience of about 12,000 people.
Rob Marsh: That’s amazing. So I think taking chances and serendipity is an underrated strategy for success. Having said that, what other advice would you offer someone who would like to build these sorts of skills and find success?
Belinda Ellsworth: Well, and I also say, and I was fortunate to have that, and I’ve had it at each juncture. So I have a mentor, shadow someone, even when I was in sales and I was only 19 or 20, it was really more like when I was 23, 24-ish, but I remember going, “Oh, I need to be better at this. Who’s the top salesperson in our area that I could actually go shadow?” And I went four or five times with her, and that’s on my own time of my own whatever. And I was like, “Wow, I got to watch her in action, and I picked up a couple of things.” It’s the same thing. Back then, you had to do it in person. But now, my gosh, there is so much like going to somebody who’s doing what you do and say, “Can I just shadow you? Can I listen to you? Can I see what you’re doing?” Or, I always tell people, if you want to own a florist, go work in a flower shop, see if you even really like it.
And that’s what I see people not willing to do today. So shadow other people, find a mentor, get advice. Those are some other things that they could do to become better at what they are doing. See who’s being successful. Who’s successful and you want to emulate and don’t go pick the top person up here. The person you want to emulate can always just be one step above you or two steps above you. And so then you can say, “Okay, I see what they’ve done and how they’ve done this. And so now I’m going to do that.” And then each step along the way, you get bigger mentors, and you follow bigger people that can help you along the way. I’m doing that right now with podcasting, and I’m doing that right now with the membership group that I have. It’s like, “Okay, I need to find people that are really good at building memberships and what am I missing?” So I guess that’s the best advice I have on that.
Kira Hug: You mentioned that you’ve worked with companies, consulting clients, and taking companies. I think you said from 1 million to 20 million, and you’ve thrown out a couple of different numbers. So when you look back, do you notice trends with those clients who have had these big jumps in revenue after working with you as far as what they did or what you helped them do that was really critical to having that type of big jump, and increase in revenue?
Belinda Ellsworth: It really truly is; if I were to go through the weeds, there are lots of things, but onboarding and I’ve always taught onboarding when you’ve got a new sales rep or a new employee or somebody new that’s coming in, how are you onboarding them to be as successful as they personally can be? So it really comes down to companies and sales. And so it’s retention. And it’s really interesting because it’s like the success path. What is the success path? What’s the success path for a customer? What is the success path for a new employee? What is the success path for this sales rep that you have? And so I was just recently listening to a podcast or to a train … I took a course on memberships. And so we have our membership, and I’ve got some instruction, and again, this goes back to the benefit versus descriptive.
And I know this. I teach it, but yet for our members going, “Log in, get your password, do this.” And he was teaching it, and I’m like going, “You’ve got to help them with a success path to see results. We’re just giving them logistics.” And it hit me, “I’ve been teaching this for 25 years. What’s wrong with you?” But I didn’t look at it from the perspective of my membership. And so again, it’s back to onboarding; how do you help people to build that retention? As a company, what are we doing to retain the customer? What are we doing to retain our employees? What are we doing to make this an incredible place? And so that’s the number one thing that I look at when I go in and work at a company is what is their success path for those different individuals? What’s the onboarding process?
And even in an email sequencing that you’re sending out, what’s our email sequencing? I’ll go in and work with a company, and I’ll say, “Pretend I’m one of your new sales reps or a customer.” And then I won’t get any emails. I called one company. And I said, “I got the first email that tells me to log in and here’s my password, but I haven’t gotten any other emails. So I think I somehow got kicked off your server.” And they said, “Oh no, that’s the only one we sent.” I was like, “Ah.” So we put in a succession of eight; where are the benchmarks that people want to get here? Then you get here, how do you get here? And if you get here, how do you get here?
And so then, if you can put in a succession of little benchmarks that help people … So I’m going back and looking at my whole membership from a different light of what I teach other companies. Like, “How did I miss this for my own product or program?” And I just did; sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. So that’s probably my best advice with that.
Rob Marsh: I’m going to change directions just a bit here. You seem to get a lot done. Belinda, how do you organize your time so that you’re as productive and as effective as possible?
Belinda Ellsworth: I have always been big on organization. So I teach these four pillars of success and its focus, commitment, consistency, and organization. And so I teach that, and I live by that. And I probably lived by it before I taught it. And then I continue to live by it as I teach it if that makes any sense. So you really need to get focused on what it is that you’re really trying to achieve. You need to be committed to it. And then consistency is a big key. So I color-coded a lot of things, and I set my schedule. So for me, my podcasting day is Tuesday. So I do all of my interviews on Tuesdays, and I batch that. I have my clients. So if this is a client day, they get my attention.
So on Mondays, I’m going to be working with this client. I’m going to get their work done. I might have some more things during the week, little things, and I leave myself pockets of time to do that, but I have everything set on a certain day at the same time. So then my brain doesn’t always have to be looking at my schedule. What do I have? And then I have some pockets of time on Wednesday. And then on Thursday afternoons, actually there is another one that I can say, “Okay, I can put the random thing in there like this podcast. I can have an interview with somebody or talk to a prospective client.” But I also teach this program. I’ve been teaching it for 25 years, and I just refer to it as a power hour, but it’s really about taking snatches of time. So it’s finding your four income-producing activities in a day and give it 15 minutes of your undivided attention.
Because what we tend to do as people is, we’re always looking for a big chunk of time to do a project or to do something, and it never comes. Family is in the way, especially if this is a side hustle for them, you’re always going to have things coming in the way, but can you find 15 minutes to work on one skill set? Yes. Or one area of your business? So people always are looking for huge chunks of time, but the other thing is, they always leave out the things they’re uncomfortable with, like customer service calls. How are you doing? I’m blown away at like less than 8% of people make any customer service calls? And so once you get a customer, you want to keep that customer. And so carve out 15 minutes to make customer care calls.
And then, when you do that, you might be uncomfortable with it, but pretty soon you’ll get more comfortable with it. But if you do it, it’s going to continue to find the four drivers of your business. The four income-producing activities. Commit to that one hour in a day, and it doesn’t have to be a solid hour. I might work on that in the morning at 8:30. When I’ve got time, I might do this at noon. I might do this at five, but really carving out those 15-minute increments, that has helped so many people. And then I take that to another level. I batch my days. I do time blocking. I try to do the same things on the same days. If I’m going to go live with my group, I try to go live at the same time. Facebook loves that. It starts to build the more people that show up and know it’s 3:00 o’clock; they’ll start to put it in their phone, versus you’re randomly going live whenever you just think it’s a good time for me to go live in this group.
You can do that randomly, but make sure that once a week, everybody knows for your Tuesday tip that you are live at whatever time it is. And it doesn’t even really matter a whole heck of a lot oF the time. Because a lot of people will watch the replay, but as you show up every time at that time, people start to say, “Okay.” And you start to know it. You don’t schedule anything else. So the more that you can hit the ground running out of bed, I know what today looks like. It’s Wednesday. I know what my Wednesday looks like, man oh man, you’re already in a better frame of mind right out of the gate. And then you schedule the things you have and do things come up, and there’s things chaotic or crazy? Yeah. But then you can handle that. But if you just let the day run you versus you running the day, you’ll end up getting sidetracked every single time with something else.
Kira Hug: As we start to wrap up, I’d love to hear about what you’re most excited about right now in business. Maybe it’s something, a project you’re working on, or something that you are launching soon. What would that be?
Belinda Ellsworth: Yeah. So our biggest focus this year, when we went from not speaking at all, was to build my podcast, focus on the planner as far as a sales item and build our membership. So those were our three focuses this year, and I’m happy to say all three of them have seen success. And if somebody else called me and said, “Hey, we got a project, or we’d like you to collaborate with this.” I said, “I’m so sorry. Right now, I have to focus on these three buckets of my business. And if it doesn’t fit into one of them, I’m going to have to say no. Check back with me a year from now or six months from now.” And I was very diligent in that to set boundaries around, does this fill one of these three buckets? And if it didn’t, I really stayed focused on that.
So is there something new I’m working on? I was on the phone till 1:00 o’clock in the morning last night with our manufacturers, and we just got in all of the works for the 2022 planner. So that is starting to be manufactured, and we will launch that in September. And so, we are gearing up for September. We haven’t done a leadership conference or a summit for salespeople in some time. So we’re going to do that in October with the launch of the planner. So it’s going to be something new, and a lot of book releases are doing this. If you purchase the planner in September, when we launch, you’ll get a free ticket to the conference. So we’ll see how that goes.
A lot of book launches are doing that as well, and it’s been successful. So we’ll see if that’s successful, but the planner is, we’re in the throes of that. That’s coming up new and exciting. We’re continuing to look for awesome guests on our podcast and I’m going to go back to the drawing board and work on that membership group and create that onboarding experience and make it better and see if that helps create that retention level.
Rob Marsh: Belinda, what other advice would you give a new copywriter or a new freelancer who wants to get out there and make a name for themselves?
Belinda Ellsworth: I would say, find somebody you can shadow, try to find somebody you can emulate or shadow even if it isn’t somebody that is… Sign up for somebody’s newsletter, see what they’re sending out, get in groups that… I just had a podcast guest the other night. It was awesome. But he was just saying join a group of other people and collaborate in that. Learn from that. There’s so many groups today. And I’m bad about that. He was saying he was looking for a PR agent to help represent him. And so what he did instead, instead of trying to go around and do that, he went in and joined a group of PR agents and joined this PR group. And he was a PR person himself, and he joined that group, and he just learned, what are they looking for? Better ways to pitch yourself.
And then after a while, one day then he just said who he was. And then everybody’s like, “Oh my gosh.” And then several of the people there obviously wanted to pitch him. You know what I mean? But he’s like, “I just go into groups. When I want to learn this, I go into a group of people that are already doing that. And I join that group, and I learn from that group, but you gotta be present. You gotta put yourself out there.” So I would say, join some groups of people that do either similar things to what they do so they can learn or join groups of people that are looking for copywriters.
So then that helps you to learn about what they’re looking for or what that company needs. And it can help you to get to know them in a friendly way. You don’t want to go in and just start selling yourself. You got to be present. You got to add to the conversation. So that takes time. I would say, I haven’t really moved into that, but I’m thinking about, “Okay, where do I want to put that energy?” So that’s one thing, find a mentor and find a client that you can maybe offer to do something for someone to just see some results, find three people that you’re like, “You know what? I would love to write something for that or write an article or do a blog or practice their writing skills.” So I guess that would be the advice I would have.
Kira Hug: That’s great. Thank you, Belinda. And I see why you are getting paid big bucks to speak on stages around the country and world, because you just share so much great advice and cover such a wide range of business topics. So if our listeners want to find you, if they want to check out that planner, check out your membership, where should they go?
Belinda Ellsworth: Our main website is Step Into Success. So stepintosuccess.com and then the other place would be Work from Your Happy Place. That’s our podcast. And we also have a website for that. We’re building that out a little bit more. We’re going to probably come January, offering membership for that group, which will be more entrepreneurs and small business owners, artists instead of just direct sales individuals. And our planner will be. We still have our current planner. It’s half off right now. Still more than half the year left, so they can check that out. That planner is there. That way they can see if they like it. Our planner is really designed for salespeople, but I’ve got lots of entrepreneurs that use it and love it. So everything in that whole page right now is half off. And then the new one will be releasing for 2022 in September.
Kira Hug: Sounds great. Well, thank you for your time today, Belinda. We appreciate it.
Belinda Ellsworth: Thank you so much for having me.
Rob Marsh: That’s the end of the interview with Belinda. And before I jump off here, I’m just going to mention just a couple of other things that really stood out to me from this interview. We were asking Belinda what does it take to really start a consulting business as opposed to a sales business or a copywriting business. She went back to that same answer that she gave before. It’s really about expertise, creating that mastery, and that there might be a tendency for some of us to jump too soon. And we think, “Oh, I don’t want to work with copy clients, or I don’t want to be doing the writing. I want to be more of a consultant level. I want to be an advisor to businesses.” And oftentimes I think we jump into that too soon. We haven’t done enough to develop that deep expertise and that can create a struggle, the same struggle that we might go through as we’re starting out as copywriters.
And so think about that if you want to start consulting as part of your business, make sure that you truly are an expert in the thing that you’re doing and that you can help others achieve that same result, thanks to the mastery that you bring to the table. And you need to have an impact that you can talk about before you launch your consulting business. You have to be able to show that you’ve done something for your clients. Yes, I help them achieve a big bump in conversions or I help them attract new clients or I help them reduce the churn rate, whatever those things are that impact your client’s business. You need to do that first so that you can talk about it as you launch a consulting business.
I was really taken by Belinda’s mention of the $300 speech. She had been making a lot more money. And then as this opportunity to give a speech at a completely reduced rate and oftentimes, our initial reaction would be, “Of course not, I’m not going to lower my rates. I’m not going to devalue what I do just because a client has a low budget.” But as she pointed out, sometimes that pays off. Sometimes it pays off to lower your price or to take those less popular gigs. And it turned into her best client that she’s ever worked with and fees over a long time.
As I mentioned in the first half of the episode, sometimes it’s okay to work for free because we’re not necessarily working for free. Yeah, we might not be paid dollars, but we may be able to get a testimonial out of the project. We may be able to get a case study that we can then leverage and share with other potential clients. We may be able to get expertise that we can leverage into new and additional clients. And all of those things are payment. It’s not dollars, but it’s payment. And so if we’re offered that opportunity to give that $300 speech if the situation is right, there are good times to take it and to move forward with that thing. Not always, but sometimes.
We also asked and talked a little bit about how we can get better. I specifically asked what are the things that we can do to improve? And Belinda was talking about getting started in the niche in the industry, actually doing the work, and finding a mentor. That’s something that clearly we believe in a lot. That’s why we have The Copywriter Underground. That’s why we have The Copywriter Think Tank is to help mentor copywriters who are doing something a little bit bigger in their business or things that they haven’t done before.
She mentioned shadowing somebody or just following along as they do the work that you want to do, so that you can learn and grow. And I think the final piece of that was just making connections. That’s one of the reasons that would shadow somebody or have a mentor is because they can open up those doors for you. They could help you connect with others who are doing great, amazing things, and you can learn from them. I loved Belinda’s quick answer about the four pillars of success that she has as far as getting so much done. Clearly, she gets a lot done because she’s a productivity expert. She sells a planner and the training that goes along with that, but focus, commitment, consistency, and organization; all of those things are critically important to accomplishing more in your business.
And I loved, finally, her advice to find four income-producing activities in a day and give all four of them 15 minutes of your undivided attention. Obviously, if you can give 30 minutes or 60 minutes to each of those four, it’s going to be even better. But focusing on those things is the way that you run your day as opposed to letting your day run you.
Okay. So that’s enough from me. We want to thank Belinda Ellsworth for joining us and sharing so much about her expertise in growing a podcast, in sales, in growing as a business owner. If you’d like to connect with Belinda or find out about her planner and the training that she offers, visit stepintosuccess.com or tune into her podcast, Work From Your Happy Place. We’ll link to both of those resources in the show notes.
And as you might have noticed, this is episode number 299 of the podcast. That means next week. We’re going to have our 300th episode. We are just eight reviews short of having a hundred reviews. And we would love to hit that milestone before next week. We don’t get that many reviews every single week, and so this is definitely going to take your help to get there, but we would love it. If you would just take one minute to share your feedback with us over on Apple Podcast, we’ll leave a link to that in the show notes. Just click over there, hit four, five stars and let us know what you think about the show. And we will share your review next week or in the coming weeks if you’ll do that. So we look forward to seeing what you think about the show.
And if you want even more podcasts to listen to, I’ve got a couple to recommend to you. First, episode number 81 with Mike Saul all about sales skills, all of the advice he offers will help improve your copywriting. I think that’s one of the hidden gems among the list of copywriting podcasts that we’ve done. Mike’s a specialist in sales and what he shares on that podcast is amazing. And episode number 137 with Austin Mullins about what specifically copywriters need to know about selling. And Austin has built an amazing business and does more selling than copywriting in his business today. Another really good episode of checkout. So 81 and 137, make a note and listen to those.
And that’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Munter. If you like what you’ve heard, share a screenshot of the episode with your favorite takeaway and tag us on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn, so that we can see what you’re sharing with the world. We will see you next week.