TCC Podcast #295: How to Lead a Discovery Call, Improve Your Sales Skills, and Build Better Habits with Ed Gandia - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #295: How to Lead a Discovery Call, Improve Your Sales Skills, and Build Better Habits with Ed Gandia

Ed Gandia joins The Copywriter Club Podcast for its 295th episode. Ed is a business building coach and strategist for business writers and copywriters. He helps his client by teaching them to build habits, strategies, and techniques that help them earn more in less time. In this episode, he debunks the “sales” status quo and gives valuable insight on how copywriters can become better salespeople.

Here’s how the conversation went down:

  • Ed’s background in software sales and how it was the catalyst for his copywriting career.
  • How Ed went from 6-figures in software sales to a 6-figure copywriting business in 27 months.
  • The play-by-play on how Ed acquired clients with no formal copywriting training.
  • Why he niched down and how that helped him nail his messaging.
  • The 4 questions to decide which niche is right for you.
  • How to tap into your current network when it feels “awkward.”
  • What if you’re a copywriter with no sales experience… How do you close leads?
  • The reality of sales that will change your selling game.
  • How to lead a discovery call from start to finish with the 30/70 rule.
  • The 5 phases you need to start implementing in your discovery calls.
  • Should you have an expiration date on a proposal?
  • The biggest mistakes copywriters are making when approaching potential clients.
  • Intentions vs habits – What’s the real difference?
  • Using the James Clear approach to habit building, so you can optimize your time.
  • How to add CEO time into your business and how Ed puts it into action in his business.
  • The Freedom Triad – How it will help you make more in less time.
  • Why Ed became a coach and his most common struggles running a high level business.

If you want to improve your sales skills, this is the episode you want to listen to. Hit play or check out the transcript below.

The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:

The Accelerator Waitlist
The Copywriter Think Tank
Copywriting Income Survey
Kira’s website
Rob’s website
Ed’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Episode 81
Episode 204
Episode 283

Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh:  Today there are a bunch of podcasts about copyrighting, but when we started this show more than five years ago, that was not the case. Can you believe it’s been five years by the way Kira? Seems like a long time.

Kira Hug:  It seems like 25 years.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. At least. At least. Time flies when you’re having fun. Back then, there were only a couple of people who recorded podcasts specifically to help copywriters get better at this thing that we all do and one of those people was copywriter and coach, Ed Gandia. Ed’s been sharing what he’s learned from being a copywriter for longer than we have. And like us, he’s nearing almost 300 episodes of his show. Sometimes interviewing other successful writers and other times teaching important business skills. And today we thought we would invite him onto The Copywriter Club Podcast to talk about his business, how he got started as a copywriter, and what he does as a coach, and also to share his best advice for copywriters ready to build bigger, better businesses. Stick around because we think you’re going to want to hear what he had to say.

Kira Hug:  But first, this episode of the podcast is not sponsored by The Think Tank.

Rob Marsh:  What?

Kira Hug:  It’s actually sponsored by the Copywriter Accelerator. A program designed to give you the blueprint, structure, coaching, challenges, and community you need to accelerate your business growth in four months so you can go from feeling like an overwhelmed freelancer to a fully booked business owner. If you have any interest in this program, you can jump on the waitlist to be the first to hear details about the program when it opens in August. We’ll link to the wait list page in the show notes.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, you’re definitely going to want to learn more about that. Okay. So let’s get to our interview with Ed.

Ed Gandia:  This is not what I necessarily wanted to do when I grew up. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it, but it’s not something I thought of doing. I think so much of it stemmed from my success early on. I came from the corporate world. I was in software sales and in other sales environments. I was fortunate enough at the time … I didn’t think so, but I was fortunate enough to work for companies that really didn’t do much for me in terms of providing me with marketing support. So I had to learn how to generate my own leads and find my own opportunities and a big part of that involved writing better marketing materials and sales letters and sales emails. And to me, it was really cool because that was selling on paper so to me it was still selling.

Because of the way I am, I am intrigued by this idea. I want to get better. Some of what I’m doing is getting results, but I want to do better. And I started buying books and taking courses and didn’t realize that what I was doing was this thing called copywriting. I was doing it, I just didn’t know what it was called. And I recognized early on that this is something that I truly loved and I wanted to do more of. And then I recognized that this is something I actually could do as a business. I had set a goal sometime around that time in my career to within five years, go out on my own and do something. But I was thinking more like a traditional business.

And when I started doing this, I realized, well, this could be my business. I could do this for other companies. So I started this business on the side and as I still had my full-time sales job, I started looking for prospects to help them create better landing pages and sales letters and sales emails, and lead-generating emails. And I knew that this is the direction I wanted to head in. I was able to go from a six-figure software sales job to a six-figure, full-time copywriting business in about 27 months. So because that happened so quickly and I was just talking to people who were doing similar work and they were asking me for advice, and I saw a pattern in terms of the questions people were asking. And I also noticed that so much of what I had learned in sales was directly applicable to building a profitable copywriting business.

So I started putting together information and then I sold it. And that eventually led to a blog that I launched with two other guys. And then that led to a traditionally published book. And then that led to creating courses and selling those courses, and then that morphed into coaching. So that period was … I went out on my own, 2006. I started my side business in 2003. And in 2008, I started publishing and selling information to help others with that transition from full-time work to full-time copywriting and then started coaching in 2012. So now that I think about it, it’s been a long time. It doesn’t feel like that long, but that’s the long story or the long answer to your question.

Rob Marsh:  Ed, I’m curious about that ramp-up period as you were switching from the sales career to a writing career. We’ve talked with people who have made it to six figures in the first year and then we’ve also talked to people who ‘ve been doing this for five, six, maybe even longer years, and still haven’t hit that six figures. So will you walk us through what it took? Three years feels like a really good number to be able to switch careers and make that. But what did you do to go from literally no copywriting to all copywriting and have it completely replace your previous career?

Ed Gandia:  I think there were several things. And I will say that it wasn’t linear. As you know, these things don’t happen in a really neat fashion. It took me a long time to land my first client. My first real client. I landed a couple of really, really small clients that of course got me excited because somebody was actually paying me. But looking back, I really don’t feel that those were my first real clients. It took me almost a year to land my first client. So out of 27 months, man, 12 months of that were … I felt like I was getting nowhere. In terms of what I did, I think it’s a combination of factors. One was I’m pretty good at just experimenting with ideas and then quickly deciding or realizing which ones work and then doing more of that and then refining that thing. So I’m pretty disciplined and I pay attention when it comes to those things.

The other was the discipline of just having a schedule for myself and certain rules that I was going to follow. Because I couldn’t slack off in my job and I couldn’t afford to get fired. And in sales, your performance is measured quarterly so it’s very easy to know if you’re doing well or not. So I had to be very, very careful and I had to set a different schedule for myself, work long hours and then again, just keep doing the things that were working and trying new things and discarding those things that weren’t working. And I think the biggest factor of all though is that I was highly motivated. So in my day job, once I decided that I was going to leave and just switch careers period, it’s that weight off your shoulders. And then at that point, you’re really not motivated to keep doing that work, but I had to. So I was really motivated to advance as quickly as possible so I could meet certain goals that I had set for myself. One of them being a certain level of savings so that I could quit my job comfortably and then another being, having so much income coming in on a regular basis part-time. So I was really driven by this idea of, I have to get out of here. I think that was really my biggest motivation when I think about it.

Kira Hug:  I would love some specific examples from you as far as what was working in the early days as you were testing those different ideas. What started to work for you? And then fast forward to today, what’s working for some of the writers you’re coaching today?

Ed Gandia:  Absolutely. And it’s evolved. So for me, there were several things in no particular order. One was tapping my network. Just reaching out to people I knew and saying, “Hey, look, I’m starting to do this. This is how I describe it. This is what I can do for companies. And do you know anybody who could use this kind of help?” Sometimes they could use it themselves. Sometimes they could introduce me to somebody else. So definitely tapping my network. Even people who I didn’t think fully understood what I was doing or people who were not in marketing. Just getting over this idea that reaching out to your friends and colleagues is a bad thing. I had to get over that pretty quickly.

Another one was just email prospecting. This is something I had developed in sales where I experimented with different approaches to email prospecting and they were very effective. And I had refined that over time, tested new approaches and just came up with a very simple, short template that was very personalized and relevant that was working. Another one was direct mail. I was actually doing this in my software sales job. Again, I have to do this for myself to put food on the table. So I was writing sales letters that I would physically mail to prospects. And there were a few things that I was doing there. Some of it was … And I’m embarrassed to admit it because this is like … Keep in mind, this is a long time ago. This is the late ’90s, early 2000s.

I was faxing prospects and generating leads that way. And it was very, very effective. This is before it became illegal to do that. So I started doing those things. So direct mail, tapping my network, what I call warm email prospecting. Those things worked and from there, it was really about going deeper with some of these clients because I saw other opportunities and getting referrals. And then from there it just became an issue of just following those paths. But I would say those are the three main ways that worked for me.

Rob Marsh:  And as you were starting out, Ed, did you niche by industry? I have in my head that you did a lot of white papers early on, but I could be wrong about that. Did you have a particular product that you would lead with?

Ed Gandia:  I didn’t have anything specific at first. So one of the reasons it took me so long to land my first client is my positioning at first was: I can write anything for anybody. That just didn’t work. So it wasn’t specific enough. So I then eventually pivoted to writing for software companies. Actually, not even that. I say high-tech companies. High tech companies, I will write copy and content. Very broad, but much more specific. That’s when I started getting results. So I’m a huge proponent of focusing on a target market and it doesn’t have to be an industry. In my case, and in the case of about 80% of people, it’s typically an industry. But you have to focus.

The world does not need another copywriter. What the world really needs are copywriters who are specific about whom they can best help and how. And I quickly realized that wow, this is where I’m really getting traction now that I say, look, I have this background, I really leveraged my sales experience and I said, “I come from a sales background. I’m the guy who’s using your materials. As a marketer, you’re writing materials that help me in my job. So I have a different perspective. And I can bring that in the trenches perspective to these projects.” That really resonated with the prospects that I was talking to. But yeah, definitely focusing was huge in terms of the results.

Rob Marsh:  That definitely makes a lot of sense. Something that we teach as well I think. As you coach copywriters today, I’m guessing that you hear some of the same pushback that we do when we encourage people to narrow down or at least have some kind of focus. And that is, I don’t know what to focus on or I’m not ready. I’m just starting out. And of course, it does take a little bit of time to figure that out. But again, as you’re working with these kinds of copywriters, what advice do you give to them about the time it takes to find the niche? How do you figure that stuff out?

Ed Gandia:  Well, I don’t get into how long it might take because if they’re unfocused, we work on that right away. That is so foundational that without that nothing else is really going to be important. It’s all window dressing. So I have a process that I go through that helps them narrow it down. First of all, I tell people, “Look, I understand the hesitation because as creative people, we want to have full freedom. The problem is it’s a paradox. It’s not going to come. That freedom of writing for anybody is not going to come. You really have to focus. This idea that if you cast a wide net, you’re going to have more fish, that’s not going to work. You can’t get a big enough net. You’re way better off focusing your target market into something where the probability of success is much, much higher.

“The other thing to keep in mind is when you focus, it doesn’t mean that you can’t accept opportunities outside of that focus area. It just means that it gives you focus on what you pursue. We don’t have the time and resources as solo business owners to just focus on a bunch of different markets or just on everybody. We’re not Amazon, we’re not Apple, so we have to focus. But opportunities will still come your way that you can choose to accept or reject. And that’s where a lot of the variety is going to come from. Plus it’s not true. You’re still going to get a lot of variety.”

So here’s my process. It’s very simple. It involves four different questions. The first is, where do you have experience? Either from your career, if you’re new to this or even if you’re not. Just look back at your career, your work experience, and in working with clients. So do a whole inventory. What types of organizations, what types of companies, businesses, topics, types of audiences. Just do a full inventory of that. Okay, so that’s the first one. The second is take each one of these at one time and ask yourself the next three questions. So let’s say that the first one was like in my case. Well, I sold software. Okay. So the software industry. The next question … I need to ask myself three questions about that particular market or topic. First question being, what’s my network like in that area? Meaning, do I know people? Do I have colleagues? Do I know people who know people there? And it’s a simple answer. I tell people, “Look, give yourself a check minus if you know nobody, a check if your network there is decent or average and a check plus if it’s above average.” Okay. So we’re just looking, check minus, check, check plus.

Next question. Again, sticking with software. What is your best guess in terms of the demand for copywriters in that industry or in that market? And again, check minus, check, check plus. Well, in this example, it’s definitely a check plus. Anything related to technology is constantly changing. They always need marketing materials. They always need content. They always need copy. The final question. Again, sticking with software. How do I feel about the people and the topics that I’d be writing about? So the people I’d be working with and the topics that I’d be writing about. Check minus, check, check plus. Well, let’s just say that in my case, I’ll give it a check. All right. So maybe network was a check plus, demand for copywriters or for copy and content is check plus, topics, people is a check. That scores really, really well.

All right, great. Let’s go to the next one on the list. So you’re essentially going through all of these and you’re examining each possibility through three different dimensions. Does that make sense?

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, it definitely makes sense. For sure.

Ed Gandia:  In that way, we’re not looking at just one thing. We’re not just looking at, oh, what’s the demand like? Or a lot of people focus on the last question I ask, which is the passion. “Oh, I’m really passionate about sustainability. I really want to write for companies that are either doing that or they have a sustainability program.” Hey, that’s great, but let’s look at those other two dimensions. What is the demand and what’s your network looking like there? Because just because you have a passion doesn’t mean that’s going to be your best bet. So it gives you a more objective measure to make a better decision.

Kira Hug:  So let’s say we walk through that process and we figure out our market, and we’re focused. You mentioned that you were able to tap your network and that helped you early on. I feel like this is something that we overlook or just overcomplicate. And just speaking to some copywriters I’ve chatted with recently. Can you just speak maybe why we overcomplicate something as simple as tapping the network and people who already believe in us? You mentioned you got over it. You had to get over it. But the getting over part is the tricky part. So what helped you and what’s helping the writers you work with today?

Ed Gandia:  I think the advantage that I had there is that because I came from sales, I didn’t associate sales as being bad. But many people I work with, they have a totally different background in their image or their perception of sales is, it is a bad thing. That you’re convincing people to do things that they don’t really want to do. So I think it boils down to that. Often it’s subconscious. Well if I tap my network, I’m trying to sell them something they don’t need. Or I’m trying to ask for a referral to someone where I will pitch them something they don’t need. And that is really, I think a deeply held belief. It’s a limiting belief that’s holding so many people back. I think the mindset shift needs to be, hey, I’m probably doing people a disservice by not helping them, by not letting them know what I do.

If I believe that what I do is valuable and I’m good at what I do, people need to know about it. And look, if through a conversation we find that there’s really not a fit there or a need, we’ll disengage. I’m not trying to talk anybody into anything. This is going to be a relationship. It’s not the kind of thing where once I sell it, then I’m off to some other city and good luck with that. No. Hopefully we’re going to be working together for a while. So I think unfortunately it’s a subconscious thing in just a societal belief that selling is bad.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. While we’re talking about selling, obviously you had a background in sales, which gives you a bit of a leg up when it comes to writing copy. If you were advising a newer copywriter who has zero sales experience, what would you tell them about how to pick up those skills, how to learn it? Are there books, would you recommend a course or is it just practice and feedback?

Ed Gandia:  That’s a good question because I can’t think of a specific book or a specific course that’s like, oh, this is the one. This is the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People of selling. I will say this. I think more important than a book or a course is shifting your mindset. And the most important thing … I think a new copywriter with zero selling skills, the most important thing that they need to understand is that sales is a conversation. That’s all it is. It’s dialogue. It’s a, I have something of value, you possibly have a need, let’s have a conversation to see if there is a match here or a potential match. If there is, we can explore that further. If there isn’t, we can just disengage and part as friends. To me, that’s really more important than any technique. Of Course techniques, strategies, all those things are certainly important.

But if you can’t understand that and make that shift inside yourself, all the strategies and techniques in the world and scripts and templates, they’re not going to help you. You know why? Because prospects can smell fear. They can smell a lack of self-confidence. And that’s going to override anything good that you’ve done to become better at that technique. So I think we just need to shift how we think about it and especially if you grew up in the era of telemarketers. Back in the day, I remember sitting down for dinner and the phone would start ringing. If that’s your perception, you really need to shift that very, very quickly.

The other thing I would say though, in terms of because I don’t want to not answer or address your question, is I think the best thing you could do is learn how to lead a conversation with a prospect. I call it the qualifying call or the discovery call. Because that’s where the selling starts and that’s truly a conversation. What I mean by lead is learn how to walk a prospect through a series of questions that will do a few things. Will help you understand if there’s a potential value for them and what you’re doing. If you’re a potential fit if you have a potential fit with each other. How you might be able to help them and what the value of your services might be for them. And from there, from the prospect’s point of view, this conversation if you lead it well will present you as a professional, as a knowledgeable pro, and will really position you as somebody who could really help them and someone they really want to talk further to and possibly work with.

So if you can learn how to lead that conversation, that to me is … You’re not selling, you’re just asking good questions and letting them talk. And the way I like to think of that conversation is it should be about 70/30. It should be you 30% talking, them 70% talking. And I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot more comfortable when I know I’m not the one who’s having to do the talking. This right now, this conversation we’re having, believe it or not, I’ve had a podcast for nine years. I’m a little nervous. I’m not so much now, but at first. Because I’m the one who’s supposed to do the talking here. But I find it very easy to interview people. So if you feel the same way, if you’re listening right now, just know that, hey, that’s what you have to do. You just have to ask good questions, take notes and think about what the prospect is saying.

Kira Hug:  Rob, we covered a lot in this part of the conversation with Ed. What resonated with you the most?

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. As I was going through like we do, I wrote down a few notes and there’s a few things that I wrote down. One thing that seems to come from a lot of people that we’ve interviewed on the podcast is just how many copywriters have some kind of sales background. I know we’ve talked about this before. We’ve talked about sales. Ed did a great job of talking about why that’s important. But it is interesting that at least the copywriters that we tend to talk to, most of them come from a sales background as opposed to a story writing background. And even though both of those skills are really important, copywriting is really all about sales. So if you’re thinking about being a copywriter or you are a copywriter, but you don’t have the right sales skills, that’s definitely something that you’ll want to work on and add.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. And we talked a lot about the sales conversation and the shift that needs to happen in order to really feel comfortable on those sales calls and confident on those sales calls. And I know that is something that many of us struggle with at times. So, Rob, how do you approach sales calls so that you do feel confident and you don’t struggle? And like Ed said, a prospect can smell fear that they know immediately if you’re uncomfortable. It’s the first second of the call. Unfortunately or fortunately. So what do you do to approach it in a confident way?

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. I think you and I have an approach a lot like what Ed shared. Especially when he was sharing some of the questions that he asks in his discovery calls. But really the way to do that is to ask as many questions as you can about the business. And he shared some of his specific questions. There are other questions that I ask. I love to know about where my clients’ customers are coming from. Are they coming from ads? Are they coming from linked blog posts or affiliates or those kinds of things? I like to know about the financial impact that each of their products has. How much is each sale really worth to the business? Conversion rates, how many people are buying right now. Because I want to be able to take that information later on and figure out, okay, what kind of an impact can I have?

But the real reason to ask those questions … And it’s not just those … Any question about the business, is that in getting your client to talk about their business, you’re first learning things, but also that just engenders trust between you and your client. The client sees that you know what you’re talking about by the questions that you’re asking. You’re asking things related to their marketing and not just, what will this copy do for you? Or what kind of headlines do you like? Can you share some websites that you’ve seen out in the world that you also liked? Because that’s about the copy, but it’s not really getting to an understanding of really what they do. And when you ask those deeper questions about the business, about the product, customers, all of that, they just know that you’re coming from a different place than most other copywriters. So we’ve shared a lot of those questions in the past. We’ve shared a list of them in the underground. And I think your approach is the same too, Kira, or do you do something different?

Kira Hug:  No, I think it’s similar. Ed talks about it should be roughly 30% of you, the copywriter, salesperson talking and 70% of them talking. I think that’s a good breakdown. I like to keep it conversational and separate myself from the solution. So I think it’s harder to … For me, at least it’s harder to just sell Kira. It feels too personal. I do better when I’m selling for someone else. And so if I can sell and separate myself and almost sell the solution, which could be your copywriting system. I mean, everything we do in copywriting is we talk about processes all the time. It is a solution. It is a system that we’re selling. It’s a product. There’s a value attached to it. And that’s all outside of me, Kira the copywriter. So when I separate the two, it’s easier to talk about it and feel more comfortable talking about it.

So that helps me too. And I just say from the beginning, when I get on, “Here’s the agenda. I’m going to ask you a ton of questions. Then we’re going to talk a little bit about what I do, how I do it. And then we’ll talk about next steps. If it’s a good fit or not.” And it just feels very easy breezy. Maybe even too easy-breezy at times. But it just takes the pressure off. It takes the pressure off both of us on the sales call. I think it’s also worth reminding all of us just that the prospect on the call with you, they are rooting for you. They are on the call and taking their precious time to be on that sales call because they’re already interested in what you have to offer and they want you to nail the sales call.

They want it to be a success. They want you to ask them great questions. They want to hire you. They want to feel like you’re competent and confident and can take control of the project. As a prospect who’s been on many sales calls and on the opposite side, it’s always disappointing when you’re like, “Oh, I so badly want to hire you but you’re just tanking this sales call and I just want to help you and guide you through it.” So the person on the opposite side of the Zoom call really wants you to succeed and do well on those calls.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. There’s some irony in the fact that we call these sales calls and the last thing that we should be doing on these calls is selling ourselves to our clients. Again, a lot of times we call them discovery calls. I think that’s a much better name because you’re just trying to discover what your client does, what the product is all about. You’re trying to discover how the money comes into the system. If you can help them make a difference by changing something or creating something new for them. You’re trying to discover if they’re going to be a fit for you and if you’re going to be a fit for them. And the last thing that you should be doing on a sales call is hard-selling why you’re the right person.

Kira Hug:  That is a good point. Let’s stop calling them sales calls.

Rob Marsh:  Before we leave this idea too, of that early experience, that sales experience, I just want to say that oftentimes … And I think we’ve said this in the past as well. But oftentimes that early experience in our careers, like what Ed had where he got stuck, where he wasn’t getting this marketing support and so he had to figure it out himself, those kinds of experiences really can solidify our skills as copywriters and as problem solvers. It’s the figuring stuff out. I had something similar early on in my career where I was working in an advertising agency and I wanted to be working on all the ads that are running on TV, the stuff that’s winning the awards. And I got stuck into the side of the agency that was all about direct response and writing the same advertorials that were showing up in a hundred newspapers across the country or going in and editing a television commercial. 50 different versions with 50 different phone numbers. Because we had to track who was calling from what markets.

And at first, when that happened to me, I hated it. I didn’t want to be doing that. But in hindsight, that was such a gift because just learning direct response advertising, marketing, direct mail, DRTV, all of that gave me a basis that then made what we do today as conversion copywriters, internet marketing, all of that stuff … Not just in the business that we do as copywriters, but for my clients, just puts me so much farther ahead.

Rob Marsh:  So if you’re currently in an early career experience like that or some job that maybe doesn’t feel like it’s getting you to the right place, be patient with it because oftentimes the fact that you need to solve new problems or solve problems that you aren’t getting support on can lead to something much bigger and better.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. And that is a great segue into talking about focus and niche. And Ed shared his process, which really is four different questions that he’ll ask and he helps copywriters work through to figure out what their niche could be. And so we can talk through some of those questions. But first I just like that when we talk about niching, we talk about it all the time. I’m sure many of us are sick of talking about it. But it comes up because it’s important. And part of how Ed was talking about it, he said it’s really about helping business owners focus. And oftentimes if there’s no niche, there’s a lack of niche, those are the most unfocused business owners. And that leads to the struggle. If you do not have that focus, that’s why it’s hard to write your website copy. It’s hard to send emails and market your business and figure out packages. And so it’s not about niching for the sake of niching, but it’s just about finding focus. And can you find that focus in your business so that it’s easier to do all these things? Rob, I don’t know if you want to talk through some of those questions that he asks.

Rob Marsh:  I specifically liked when Ed said when he was showing up as the copywriter who says I can write anything. He didn’t use these exact words, but what you do when you say that to a client is that you’re now telling the client to figure out how you can help them. But when you show up as a copywriter who solves a specific problem, now they can easily see how you fit into the business and they don’t have to do any work to figure out, okay, can this person actually help me? Because I know that they’re going to help me solve this problem that I’m feeling right now. And he also specifically said the world doesn’t need another copywriter, they need copywriters who are specific in who they can help. And I think that’s a really good way of looking at niching.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. So the questions. One goes back to what Rob was talking about, about your past experience, career experience. So, first question to ask is where do you have experience in your career and clients you’ve already worked with? Second question, what’s my network like in that area? Do you know a lot of people? Who do you know? Do you already have those connections? The low-hanging fruit that you could tap people you could reach out to. Third question, what is your best guess in terms of the demand for copy in that niche? And if you’re not sure this is where it helps to be part of a copywriting community where you can ask and you can find out, are there other copywriters in that space. And if there are other copywriters in that space, that’s a good thing. That means that there’s a lot of work in that niche. And the final question, how do I feel about the people and topics that I would be writing about? Because if you do not like it and you are not interested, it is not worth pursuing.

Rob Marsh:  For sure. I think all four of those questions are really valuable. And then I would just add a fifth. And this is something that we talk a lot about when we talk about X-factor. And that is what is the problem in that industry, niche or whatever that you can solve for your client? What’s the problem that they’re feeling? And so I mean, that goes along with your experience in the industry or in the niche and the demand for copy. But really drilling down to that single problem or that group of problems that you can solve that creates value for your clients. And so that combination of those four questions that Ed did with that question that we like to ask in the X factor I think gets you very close to a niche that could be very successful for you.

Kira Hug:  Ed also talked about getting started and what he did. Even though it was a while back since he got started, but he tapped his network. So he talked a little bit about tapping your network. And this feels important to me because this is where a lot of copywriters struggle. A lot of the copywriters we talk to when they pivot in their business or they’re just getting started, or maybe they just have a quiet month or two. And we often forget the power of just tapping our network. Maybe because it almost can feel too easy. The action of tapping the network is easy. I think the mindset struggle behind it makes it a lot harder. But that’s a great way to get started because we all take a network with us. Even if we’re new in the industry, we have friends, we have colleagues, we have family members who want to help us and may know someone who can be a good contact or even a potential client.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. He mentioned it actually took him 12 months to get to that first real client. He was doing some small things along the way. And of course, he was working a full-time job. And so he wasn’t giving everything to it. But just the fact that it took 12 months to get to that first client, that takes some tenacity, some resilience. The ability to look and say, okay, this isn’t working, what do I need to try next? And I think is just a really nice example out there for some of us who have struggled to find clients or it works one month, but then we have a dry two or three months. It does take time to make this stuff work. And anybody who says, “Yep, you can be up and running with clients, no problems from the get-go, 10X your business from two to 20,” or whatever those promises are, take those with a grain of salt. Yeah, they’re possible but most of us struggle for a while.

Kira Hug:  Let’s get back to our interview with Ed to hear his take on the phases of a discovery call. Can you provide just some examples of those leading questions that you’ve used in the past or maybe some of your copywriter clients are using today?

Ed Gandia:  Sure. More than questions, I like to think of them as phases of the conversation. Because the moment you have to memorize questions, you’re going to be too rigid and you’re not going to be able to pivot. Every conversation is organic and it’s going to take its own form. So it’s really more about how do I navigate this conversation to make sure that I cover all the key areas? So first I have an icebreaker. And the icebreaker is very simple. So how did you find out about me? Or it could be what made you reach out to me? I’m just curious. And I ask it in a very friendly way. Just like, “Hey, I’m curious. Before we get to some of the questions that I had for you, what made you reach out to me? Why me?” That’s essentially what you’re asking. And what will come out of that, first of all, it’s just an easy question to ask. It will lower the tension and it will tell you, first of all, how are they thinking about this? How are they going about looking for someone to help them solve this problem?

And two, what did they see in you that caused them to submit the inquiry? That’s really important. Because if they’re not saying anything about that … For instance, I really want prospects to say we’re looking for someone to help us in this area. I was doing some research and I came across your website. I really like the fact that you focus on X or that you have this background or that you’ve worked for these types of clients. That’s really, really valuable. So that’s really good intel as you proceed with a call and to help you when you put your quote together when you present your proposal.

So from there, I’m moving into … And it’s usually very organic and natural. And if they haven’t mentioned that yet, then I move into the challenge phase. Okay, well what challenge do you have that you’re trying to solve or what project are you looking for help with? Depending on, is it somebody who’s already got something defined or they just have some challenges that they need help with? Then from there, I’m asking the next phase. Let’s call it the third one. It’s what I call the decision-making process. And if they haven’t mentioned it already, I want to ask questions related to how are you going about this search for somebody? Or how are you going about the decision for hiring a copywriter? Or how are you thinking through this? Or how do you think this is going to go? What are you hoping that a writer will be able to do for you?

Okay. So those types of questions. And again, this is why I don’t like memorizing them because you need to pivot based on what they’ve already shared with you. But that’s the focus there. The next phase is very simple. It’s the timing phase. These are timing questions. So if they haven’t addressed it yet … And again, in many cases, some of this information has already come out. When are you looking to get started here? When do you need to go live? When are you launching? We’re just trying to figure out what their timing is like. Because I want to know. This is something they’re not even going to address for another four or five months, that’s very different from somebody who needs to get started right away because they have a deadline.

And then finally we move into the money phase. I always say keep this acronym in mind, ATM. Always talk money. You do not want to leave that discovery call without addressing money. I have a very specific question here in a very specific process that I use. And the question is very simple. At this point, I’ll ask, tell me a little bit about the budget you’re working with. Or a different version of that variation is what kind of budget are you working with for this? And then I just shut up. And this is key. It’s so easy. It’s so nerve-wracking sometimes to just keep adding or to keep saying things. Don’t do that. Let them talk. One or two things are going to happen. Either they are going to give you a number or a range. That’s about 40, 50% of the time. Or they’re going to throw that hot potato back at you. “Well, we’re not really sure. What do you typically charge for this sort of thing?”

And at that point, my recommendation is you should be able to give them a range. And the way I like to do it is I just explain … I kind of recap everything. “Well, my understanding is that you’re looking, you have this challenge, this is the impact that it’s creating, this is what you’re looking for help with and here’s why. You’re looking to get started or you need to go live by this date. My ballpark figure for helping you with this type of project,” and let’s say it’s a defined project, “is between X and Y. Does that fit within your budget?” I threw the hot potato with them, and they threw it back at me. Fine. Fair enough. I said what I needed to say, I’m throwing it back at them.

And in most cases, they’re going to have to tell you at that point. “We’re just trying to see, hey, before I spend a lot of time here, do we have a potential match from a budget perspective?” And then we go from there. And then typically at that point, we’re just wrapping up and I’ll just say, “Well, listen, let me think through this a little bit. I’m going to put a quote together for you and I will have it to you by lunch tomorrow. When can I follow up with you at that point? Once I send it to you, when should I follow up with you?” So the key point there is you always need to have a next step. That’s a very common mistake.

It’s like, all right, well, great. I’ll send you something and then you don’t have a next step. Always decide on the next step or get commitment on the next step before you hang up. That gives you permission to then follow up. And then one last little thing. And this is something I’ve just been recommending on and off over the past year or two, but I’m making it a must-do. Put an expiration date on your quote or proposal. And not because your prices are changing. Frame it as a, hey, your schedule and your capacity are very fluid and you can guarantee that you can take this on around this time, but beyond that, you can’t guarantee it. So there’s an expiration date. This quote is good until this date. And then that gives you a really good follow-up window as well. They’ve already told you when you can follow up, but then you know that … And I recommend two weeks typically for that expiration date. As that expiration date approaches, you have a really good excuse or justification for following up.

Yeah. Really good advice. I love the process of the call. Aside from not doing this stuff, Ed, not following the process, are there other mistakes that you see copywriters making as we approach clients, as we have this discovery call that just blows things up before we can land a project?

One that I see a lot is not really digging for value and not really understanding why this is important, what the impact of getting this right is. So when I think of value, I think of not just value in terms of ROI, but also potential risk. The risk of doing nothing or choosing the wrong copywriter. I need to understand why they need to get this right, what’s at stake. And that’s why you want to ask questions around that. And I see very few copywriters asking about that and I think it’s a mistake. Because if you don’t, the way you present yourself and your value is not going to be effective and now you’re just going to be a number, everything else being equal. I don’t want to be a number.

I want to be the person they think, “Wow. All these other people were basically order-taking. We told them we have this, we need to get it done and they said, ‘Sure, you need that, here’s the price.’ This guy took the time to really dig a little deeper, understand what we’re trying to do and our objectives better. I think he understands our value and why this is important. And he presented his fee in the context of that value. And I feel just more comfortable with that.” Whether this happens consciously or subconsciously is really digging for value and understanding that better and then presenting your fees and yourself in the context of that.

Kira Hug:  I want to shift a bit and talk about habits. I know you deconstruct habits and strategies for your copywriters in your community. I’m just curious how you approach habit building in your own life and business and then how you teach others to do it?

Ed Gandia:  Yeah. That’s a great question because I think we’re all finding out that everything in life is pretty much habits. Right?

Kira Hug:  Right. Surprise. It’s all habit.

Ed Gandia:  It’s all habits. And I work with a lot of people who have great intentions and they know what they need to do. So as we work together, we figure out what they need to deploy. But it really comes down to implementation and steady, consistent implementation. That’s where the rubber meets the road. I really like James Clear’s approach to habit development because he boiled it down to four laws. So I like to work with people on defining how we’re going to implement those four laws. So the first one is, make it obvious. Okay, great. We know we have to fill about $3,000 or $5,000 a month in income over the next six months. That’s our target that we’re trying to get to. So we have this plan and here are the things we’re going to need to do.

And let’s just say that involves LinkedIn. Okay. Just to have something we can work with. All right, well, how do we make that obvious? How do we make it obvious so that Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, when you know we decided you’re going to do LinkedIn, how do we make sure that it happens? So is it through sticky notes? Is it through reminders? Is it through just creating a new routine for those days where this is the first thing you do? Whatever it is. So make it obvious. The second is, make it attractive. So how do we make it something that you actually want to do? There could be a lot of different things. Going back to the LinkedIn example. Maybe you give yourself an easy way to do this. In fact, that’s the third law as well is, make it easy. To me, make it attractive and make it easy could be interchangeable. Many times they are the same thing.

But I’m not going to spend two hours. The first few weeks I’m going to spend just 20 minutes, three days a week. That feels attractive to me and it meets the third law, which is make it easy. And then the final law is, make it satisfying. So that completes the loop. And a great way to make things satisfying with a lot of the stuff that we all need to do is to pat ourselves on the back. Just a sense of accomplishment. The sense of, hey, I did what I said I was going to do. It’s the accountability. And I can report to Ed that this week, yes, I did my three days this week. That feels very satisfying because it feeds into our identity, which is so powerful and we all want to be congruent. We all want to be the kind of person who does what they say they’re going to do.

So find that and other ways of making it satisfying. Honestly, outside of these four laws there’s really not much more. To me, it really boils down to those four things. So it’s how do we pack each one of these so that we dramatically increase our chances of developing that habit?

Rob Marsh:  I think it’s a great process. I’m curious how this shows up in your life Ed. Do you have habits around morning routines or content creation stuff that shows up daily or weekly in your life? How do you implement that?

Ed Gandia:  Yeah. So in fact, I’ll use those two, because those are great ones. A morning routine that I do and for me it has to happen at a certain time. So I’m very routine-oriented by nature. And this only works when I wake up at the time that I’ve set my alarm for. And when I do these certain things for half an hour, and then I go to my office at a certain hour, which is 7:00. And for an hour, I do these three things as part of my morning routine. And I emphasize the fact that it’s very routine-based because I was just at the beach for a week with my family and the disruption to that routine was actually jarring. I felt a little lost, even though of course I’m on vacation, it’s supposed to be this way.

I probably should have continued that there, but I didn’t. And I really felt weird about the whole thing. So I need that routine. That’s really what keeps me very focused. In terms of content, there is one thing I do, which is I put together a quick audio message for some of my coaching clients every weekday. So it’s really a 20-minute routine where I write it and then I just record it on my phone. That’s a habit and a routine that I’ve developed that I really love. And it really follows these four laws.

Kira Hug:  How else are you building CEO time, thinking time, strategy time into your business on a weekly or monthly basis?

Ed Gandia:  Ah, yes. Great question. It’s so easy to overlook that or to say, sure, I know I need to do that, but very few of us work on our business consistently. So to me, going back to routines, two things. First of all, I like the rule of thumb of 10%. This is what I teach my coaching clients, is to dedicate 10% of your work week to working on your business. That’s a really good ratio. So if you work 20 hours a week, hey, that’s two hours a week. And it feels doable. And in two hours a week, 10%, you can make a huge, huge difference. So first is just making that commitment. 10%. The second thing is to dedicate a certain time or day to that on a consistent basis. So just know when it’s going to happen.

Don’t just say, oh, 10% of my week, I’m going to spend it this week and every week is different. No. So for me, what I had to do was to start taking Fridays off. And Friday becomes really a mix of two things. So half of the day, let’s just say about four hours, is spent working on the business. And that is thinking time, it’s reading, it’s strategy, it’s journaling, it’s brainstorming. Those sorts of things. And the other half is actually free, just get away from my desk time. So to me, I have to block out the whole day. And the neat thing is I have discovered that by doing that, by creating that constraint, the rest of my week is much more productive. It forces me to be much more productive the rest of my week.

Now, it’s intense. Don’t get me wrong. People might think, oh, four days. That’s … Wow. Because I take Saturday and Sundays off as well. So three days off, that must be really nice. No. It’s intense Monday through Thursdays. Today I’m jam-packed. But I really like that. And I would rather have that kind of rhythm than to just be kind of sloppy every single day and never have that time to work on my business because it’s just an intention, but it’s not scheduled. Scheduling is really what makes it work.

Rob Marsh:  Ed, before we started recording, we were talking about this tool that you have called the freedom triad. And I know we’re going to run out of time before we run out of questions so I want to make sure that we get to this and talk just a little bit about that. Tell us what it is and how you use it.

Ed Gandia:  So the freedom triad is a great diagnostic tool. When things just aren’t going well, this is a great tool to use, to see where the problem, the root cause might be. And it’s also a good thing to just keep on your wall, on your bulletin board or whatever, just as a reminder, hey, these are the three things that are really going to move the needle in my business. At the end of the day, what I tell people, look, I think we all want the same thing. And this is what I work with coaching clients on is earning more and less time. Doing work you love for better clients. But let’s take that first piece. How do you earn more in less time? Whether you work 10 hours a week, 40, 50 hours a week, doesn’t really matter. Three factors. Or I call them freedom activators.

The first is higher dollar projects. I see so many people, they do a lot of volume on a lot of small projects. Bunch of small projects. Okay, that’s exhausting. You’re going to burn yourself out. You need to mix in higher dollar work. That also involves raising your fees. Think too many of us are hesitant to raise our fees. I think right now with the high inflation that we’re all seeing, this is a great time and a great excuse to raise your fees if you haven’t already. So higher dollar. The second freedom activator is recurring work, meaning more recurring work. Making more of your income recurring and predictable in nature. The way I like to think of it is look, take stock now. Okay. Do a quick calculation. The past six months, what percentage of your income is either on a retainer formally or very predictable? Use that as your baseline and work to increase that by let’s say 20% over the next few months.

So getting more and more of your income to be recurring, just so many benefits. It’s predictable, it’s less stress. You become better at it, more efficient while keeping your fees the same. And in fact, that leads to the third freedom activator, which is efficiency. So learning how to do the work. How to deliver the work, produce the work much more efficiently. Having systems in place that you develop. There are a lot of strategies for writing faster. Doing a better job of planning the piece before you just start writing. Those sorts of things. So if you combine these three together, higher dollar work, raising your fees, more of your income being recurring and becoming much more efficient at producing the work, that right there is the holy grail. And as you can see, if you’re having problems looking at these three factors and asking yourself where could I do better, that will really give you answers quickly.

Kira Hug:  Before we wrap, I am curious to hear what you’re struggling with today. Because you’re doing so many things well. You’ve got the habits, routines, you’ve got CEO time, but what is something that you struggle with at this stage in your business?

Ed Gandia:  Ah, yes. I would say this is not just now, but this has been a recurring theme in my business and throughout my career is I have too many ideas that I want to pursue, too many things I want to launch and try. Especially … And they come during that CEO time. It’s like, well, wouldn’t it be great. I could do this. And I fall prey to this, I could do this and it would be fun, but I get myself in trouble very, very quickly by overcommitting myself. And that is a constant struggle for me. So there you go.

Rob Marsh:  We feel the too many ideas to execute on pain on a weekly, maybe even a daily basis. So we can totally relate. And I’m curious, this maybe goes back to the very beginning of our conversation, but over the stretch of the last 20 years, how has the work that you do changed? So going from copywriter and then you authored a book, you’ve authored a couple of books actually to coaching, I think almost full-time, if not full-time.

Ed Gandia:  Full-time, yeah.

Rob Marsh:  How has that shift happened over the last couple of decades? And maybe one of the reasons I’m asking it is because occasionally we’ll see a copywriter jumps in and has a bit of success and year one, they’re like, well, I’m going to become a copywriting coach. Which maybe that works for them, maybe it doesn’t, but I’d love to hear how that recipe came together to basically follow that path to where you are today.

Ed Gandia:  I’m not sure this will answer your question, but I think for me, what I noticed was that it was never my end goal. It just happened organically and I pursued what felt right for me, as opposed to it being, I’m going to do steps one, two and three so I can do four, which is to coach and to sell courses. I guess… And tell me if this is not what you’re asking, but I’ve seen people not just here, but in many other businesses where that is the end goal and because it’s engineered that way, it’s not effective. It doesn’t last. So I think anytime anything can be more about pursuing your passions and just paying attention. I think it’s something that we just don’t make enough time for. This is why that CEO time is so critical. Thinking time. You could miss out on opportunities that maybe you hadn’t really given time to and be more aware of where you are adding value, what’s fun and what you’d like to do more of as opposed to, well, I’m going to get rich off doing this. Does that answer your question? I’m not sure if that’s what you’re after.

Rob Marsh:  I think it’s a great answer to the question, because I think part of the problem of having that goal … Well, I mean, it’s not a problem. If you want to be a coach or if you have a goal like that, I think that can be a positive thing, but like you said, you miss some of the serendipity that happens along the way where you discover, oh, people are interested in this thing that I was doing or am doing or that I’m getting really good at. And I didn’t have that as part of my particular plan. And so just being open to those kinds of opportunities, I think can be really positive for all of us.

Ed Gandia:  Yeah. Absolutely. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Coaching came out that way. I was doing courses. I just wanted to do courses and teleseminars. Live teleseminars. And what ended up happening is some people approached me to see if I could help them directly and have conversations and help them work through the problems. And I was really nervous about saying yes to that, but I said yes to one person and I quickly recognized that I loved it and that I was actually pretty good at it based on the feedback they were giving me. So there’s that. The other thing is something I’m doing now, is I’ve collaborated with a few people who are doing something unique and really cool and valuable that I hadn’t done before as a writer or a copywriter.

So they’re doing that in their business. So for instance, I recently partnered with Austin Church to teach writers and copywriters how to sell strategy as a standalone service. Well, he’s been doing that for several years now and he’s really, really good at it. Well, gosh, I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel. Austin, are you willing to partner with me and we could teach it to my tribe? And we could do a joint venture. And I’ve done a few of these and they’ve been so successful that I realized, well, wait a minute, all the knowledge, all the intellectual property doesn’t have to come from me. Could I partner with other people who have things that I don’t have? Have intellectual property and are doing really cool things that I never did. And we could find a way to make it really profitable for everybody. For the people who are going to learn, for them, for teaching it and for me for providing the vehicle to do it. So that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stayed aware. I don’t know. I don’t think you can manufacture and pre-plan for those things. You’re right. It is serendipity.

Kira Hug:  So Ed, where can our listeners connect with you, find out more information, check out your programs and all of your offers? Where can they go?

Ed Gandia:  The best place would be my website. I have just a ton of free resources there. And it’s So letter B, the number two, the letter B I got a free book you can download. It’s called Earn More in Less Time. And it’s a pretty meaty book. It’s in PDF form. And I got nine years worth of podcast episodes and all kinds of free articles and resources there. That’s really the best way to get to know my ideas and my strategies and a little bit more about me.

Rob Marsh:  Thanks Ed for sharing so much about your business and the path that you followed over the past couple of decades, as you’ve gone into coaching and shared so much with so many copywriters. I’ve listened to a ton of your podcasts and gotten a lot of value out of them. And there’s, I think, a lot of crossover between what we teach and what you teach and a lot in common and I think it’s just a good one, two punch for resources for getting better at copywriting. So highly recommend your resources to everybody who’s listening. Thanks again for coming.

Ed Gandia:  Oh, thanks guys. It’s a lot of fun.

Rob Marsh:  That’s the end of the interview with Ed. I’ve got a couple of other things that I want to mention, but Kira, what stood out to you from the last few minutes of our conversation?

Kira Hug:  Again, we already talked about the sales call, and I do like that. We were able to go deeper here with Ed and he shared the different phases. And I believe he even said he doesn’t like to script it. I know some copywriters script sales calls, especially if you’re getting started. Sometimes that helps. It can also feel a little bit unnatural at times. But for him, it’s phases and just knowing where you’re taking the conversation. And so he broke that down for us with icebreaker questions, the challenge phase, helping them work through the decision and introducing your process, talking about the timing. Sometimes I’ll bring up the timing of a project a little earlier in the conversation because if it’s not going to work, then I don’t want to draw out the conversation with the client. If it’s like, they need it tomorrow and I’m not available for two to three months. And then of course the money phase. I do like that Ed highlighted always talk money. And we know that, but just you don’t get off the discovery call until you talk about money and find out about the budget, which I have been guilty of jumping off many sales calls without talking about money so that’s a good reminder too.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. You absolutely have to talk about money. If the proposal lands on the desk of your potential client and the number is going to be a surprise to them … And by surprise, I don’t mean that their surprise is too high or too low. It’s a surprise because they haven’t heard this number on the call or something within a range. Then you’re making a massive mistake as a copywriter. You really need to use this discovery call to close them. And a proposal is just a follow up to formalize what it takes. Sometimes you want a second call. You can close on a second call. But talking about money is absolutely critical. And I’m glad he mentioned that. Most of my time when I’m on a discovery call is in that challenge phase. It’s really focused on the problem, the business, because again, as we mentioned earlier, this is where you set yourself apart as an expert. When you’re asking questions about business, about the wider marketing of the business and not just about copy, you start to build trust with your client that you’re in it to help them grow their business and not just to write a few words on the website.

Kira Hug:  You and I have been talking a lot about habits in a couple of episodes, and we will continue to talk about it, because I know we both geek out on this type of conversation and we covered it with Jocelyn Brady. I think it’s always fun to hear different approaches. There’s so many different approaches to habit building, which makes it fascinating. And Ed shared a little bit more about James Clear’s approach to habit building, which again sounds similar. Different terminology, but similar to other approaches we’ve talked about with Tiny Habits and BJ Fogg’s approach as well.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. And I know you’ve been doing a program with BJ Fogg and really going deep into the tiny habits. I’m just curious, Kira, to throw it out here, what are just a couple of things that you are learning that go along with that approach of James’s … The making your habits obvious and attractive is easy. Setting the stage. Making sure that you get some satisfaction out of it. I know BJ’s approach is a little bit different but dovetails really nicely. Is there anything that you would add to his approach?

Kira Hug:  Yeah, there are a lot of similarities. I’m not as familiar with James Clear, so I’m going to dive into that. But I think the part that stands out to me that feels new, is make it satisfying. So for BJ Fogg it’s called celebration. And that concept of celebrating your habits was foreign to me before I stepped into this program with BJ. And so I didn’t totally understand it, but he’s done the research to prove that celebrating the habit, not only after you do it, but even when you think of doing it and while you’re doing it. So there are almost three celebrations you can do, which is a lot of celebrating.

So oftentimes they just encourage people to just at least celebrate when it’s done if you can’t remember to celebrate basically the whole time you’re doing the habit. It sounds a little hokey and some of the celebrations … Like it’s giving yourself two thumbs up, which isn’t really my style. But the cool thing about celebrating is you can figure out what’s a celebration for you. So for me, sometimes it’s just an internal comment I will say to myself to celebrate, or it might just be throwing my arms up in the air. But it helps the habit stick when you have that moment of celebration and you even feel it in your body. So that’s just something that I’m learning more about and intrigued by because I had never thought about that before.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. The idea of having it be satisfying.T here’s so many things that we do, or at least we tell ourselves that we should be doing around goals, especially goals related to things like budget or exercise and weight loss. And some of those things that we do … Keeping a budget is not really satisfying. It’s painful in some ways. Or losing weight is painful. And so looking for … And obviously, that’s taking it out of the context of copywriting and business building, but when we’re trying to build these habits, finding the things that are the reasons why we’re doing them, the wins, the things to celebrate, make sticking to the habit and the goals that we’re setting related to those habits a lot easier.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. And making it easy is the most important part too. And just like, if it’s not happening, if you create a habit and it happens once or twice and then it just never happens again, how could you break it down to make it even easier? So instead of reading every morning for 20 minutes, it’s like, could you just read for one minute when you sit down and set the timer for one minute to make it that much easier and less daunting. And then when you’re thinking about how do I make it easier?  It’s also setting yourself up for success within your environment. And that’s been really helpful for me because I realized most of my habits don’t stick because I don’t set myself up for success and pull out my laptop the night before so that it’s in the kitchen the next morning when I go in to make my tea early morning, rather than leaving my laptop on the other side of the house where I have to go through my kids’ room and wake them up at 5:00 AM to get my laptop. That doesn’t work.

So a lot of it’s around how do I actually structure my environment so that it’s easier to do these things? So anyway, this is fascinating. I’m sure we’ll continue to talk about all of it.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s the environment thing that made it so that when I get up early and I get up very early and go out and run first thing in the morning if I don’t put out my shoes and I have to open up the closet, I know that’ll wake up, my wife, I won’t get up and exercise. The stuff’s got to be out. So yeah, making it easy is important.

Okay. I know we’re going on a little bit long here, but there are just one or two other things that I would love to mention. One of which is that it’s a new tool to me and that’s the freedom triad. Just as you’re thinking through the changes that you should be making in your business, if you don’t feel like you’re getting what you need from your business, the ideas around either I need to raise my fees or I need to make work more predictable, maybe even recurring, or I need to get better at my systems, get more efficient. Thinking through those things that help them free up time, help bring in more money into a business so that you can then have more time to spend it on whatever it is.

I like this tool that Ed walked us through and I think it’s really valuable. I know he mentioned he has it tacked up on his wall. It’s definitely something worth thinking through if you’re stuck in your business if you feel like you’re not moving forward, making the money that you need or having time for the things you want. What are the changes within those three things that will help you get there?

Kira Hug:  Yeah, it’s awesome. I love that he’s named it. It’s something that he talks through frequently. It’s something that you and I have done with many of our new think tank mastermind members. When they just join, we’ll sit through and look at their business. Almost take a snapshot of their business today to figure out where they could increase their project fees or repackage them, where there are opportunities for recurring work. And then also focusing on how do we create better systems? So it was cool to hear him say that because it just echoed part of the process of what we’ve been doing and reminded me how important it is and how we can always go back to that too if we get stuck.

Just real quick, the CEO time, he touched on that too. He said his rule of thumb is 10% of your time should be spent working on your business. 10% doesn’t sound like a lot, but to actually achieve that, it is. To carve out that time and take it away from the client work sometimes can feel daunting so I think that’s a win. I know I get cranky if I don’t get my CEO time. So I usually know if I didn’t get it because I just get really disgruntled and I’m not fun to be around. So I need CEO time because it makes me happy. That’s how I know if I’m getting it or not.

Rob Marsh:  And in our solo businesses, when we’re working alone, sometimes we get this idea, it’s like, well, I’m working, I’m here, I’m on my own. This is CEO time. It really is a different approach. It’s time thinking about your business. It’s time working on your business. And that 10%, while that’s a good number as a general rule if you’re just starting out and you need to figure out who is your ideal client? What is the problem that you’re solving? I need to work on my website. I need to create a lead magnet. Start an email … There’s so much that you can get bogged down on. And maybe that isn’t just 10% when you’re getting started. Maybe it’s more like 30 or 40%. But taking the time to build that stuff as you’re getting started in your business or as you’re making a change in your business and rethinking through that stuff is really important to free up time later and make your business more successful down the line.

Kira Hug:  If you’d like to connect with Ed or check out his podcast, head to We’ll link to it in the show notes. As we have for the past couple of episodes, we thought we’d do something fun, at least it’s fun for us, and share a review from a listener. This one is going back a few months, but Jill Hill left a review that said, “I love this show. I really appreciate the wide variety of copywriters who are interviewed and each one provides actionable insights. I find myself constantly scrabbling for a pen and paper to make notes when listening.” All right, thanks Jill for giving us a review. We appreciate that. And if you’re listening to this show and thinking, I want Rob and Kira to mention me on this podcast, head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review. It just takes a minute and we’d love to hear what you think. If you give us a three or up, we are going to share it. If it’s below a three, we probably will not share it on the show.

Rob Marsh:  I went looking for the one-star review or the two-star reviews and there have been a couple, but they never leave comments. If you don’t leave a comment, we can’t read it. But fortunately-

Kira Hug:  Let’s not encourage … We don’t want to encourage. You don’t have to do that.

Rob Marsh:  Fortunately we have a 4.9-star rating, which is pretty darn good. And if you just finished listening to this podcast and you can’t believe it’s over already, we’ve got a couple more options for you. Start with our interview with Jereshia Hawk all about high ticket sales,  that’s episode 204. Then take a listen to our interview with Angie Federico from just a couple months ago, all about creating a high-converting pitch and closing your sales on a sales call. That’s episode 283.

And finally, let’s go way back to our interview with direct response writer, Mike Saul. That’s episode 81, which is all about using sales calls to make your copy better. You’re probably seeing a theme in those recommendations. If you listen to all three, we promise you won’t regret it.

Kira Hug:  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 Mutner. If you liked what you heard, you could leave that review or you could share a screenshot of the episode with your favorite takeaway and tag us on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. We’ll see you next week.



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