TCC Podcast #308: Improving Your Sales Skills with Kristin Lajeunesse - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #308: Improving Your Sales Skills with Kristin Lajeunesse

Our guest for the 308th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is Kristin Lajeunesse. Kristin is an author and former digital nomad who has traveled to all 50 states in the U.S. and 21 countries on a mission to find delicious vegan food along the way. Her travels led her to copywriting and over the last couple of years, she’s built a thriving business.

Here’s how her story goes:

  • Kristin’s 3 lives and how they led her top copywriting.
  • Starting a business on Fiverr before hiring a sales consultant.
  • Landing large clients with employees vs solopreneur clients.
  • What it’s like to work with a sales consultant – how does it fit into the budget?
  • Are you doing the same amount of work for less money?
  • The best tool you can use on a sales call.
  • How to turn your sales call into an organic conversation rather than an interrogation.
  • How much do we really need to do to ensure a high-quality customer experience?
  • The two best investments Kristin has made in her business.
  • How she manages her small team and hires subcontractors to support her business.
  • How she pays her subcontractors.
  • Her process for being the main point of contact and delegating to subcontractors.
  • What it’s like to write for businesses that may take a toll on your mental state – what should you consider?
  • Balancing being a highly sensitive entrepreneur and setting boundaries.
  • Why she chose the van life?
  • The best destination for digital nomads.
  • What it’s like to write a book for a traditional publisher.
  • Setting up a book tour and finding sponsors.

Hit play or check out the transcript below.

The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Think Tank
Kira’s website
Rob’s website
Kristin’s website 
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Episode 81 
Episode 137
Episode 305
The TCC Shop 

Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh:  Every copywriter knows how important sales are to your business. We get paid to help clients get sales, and we sell our own products and services. If we don’t do that, we don’t even really have a business. In fact, improving your sales skills is one of the best things that you can do to grow your business. And our guest today is copywriter, Kristin Lajeunesse whose business completely changed once she got serious about her sales process. In fact, she hired a sales consultant to sit in on her calls, to help with proposals and help her attract the right clients. And the result was a six-figure business in less than a year. And if that sounds like something that you might want to do with your business, you may want to stick around for this interview.

Kira Hug:  Okay, I’m going to stick around because that sounds great. I’ll stick around. Before we jump into the interview with Kristin, we just want to share something we’re really excited about. At least I am. This week, you can jump into the Copywriter Underground, which is our membership for $17 a month. It would be $17 for your first month to just try it out. If you’ve wanted to jump in, but you weren’t sure this is a really great opportunity to get in there and see what it’s all about. But Rob, what do you like the most about the Copywriter Underground?

Rob Marsh:  I like so many things about the Copywriter Underground, but I think my favorite thing that we do, or at least that I do is the weekly copy critique or the almost weekly because we do miss them every once in a while. I love having the opportunity to check out what members are writing, the things they’re creating for their clients or even for their own businesses. It’s just a lot of fun to jump in and give feedback on that. But it’s just such a great community, a great place to ask questions, to hang out. There’s a ton of training in there. There’s just so much stuff in there that it’s really hard to choose just one. And haven’t even talked about the newsletter, which is the thing that I usually talk about that we send out roughly six times a year to our members.

Kira Hug:  Yes. Well, I like the accountability group the most. So you do a great job with the copy critiques and that makes the membership worth it to get Rob’s eyes and attention on your copy every week is totally worth it. You’re great at analyzing and providing ideas there. I like to run the accountability group with Brandon, our community manager because I like to just tell people what to do and have them do it. And so that group’s really great because we do monthly sprints for 21 days where you set an objective and we break it down and reverse engineer it so that you know what you’re focused on for those three weeks. So you can accomplish your goal and you do it with a small group so that we can hold each other accountable. So that is also available for you if you want to jump into the underground this week and test it out for yourself.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, it’s normally $87 a month, but this month only, you can try it out for $17 for your first month. So if you want to find out more, go to the copywriterclub.com and click on the programs tab at the top of the page, we will link to it in the show notes.

Kira Hug:  Okay. Let’s jump into the interview with Kristin.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  My path toward becoming a copywriter was not direct at all, as I think a lot of copywriters can relate to. In fact, in the nearly 40 years that I have been on this planet, living this life, I feel like I’ve had three distinct lives. The first phase, if you will, being that where I thought I was going to be a horse trainer, horseback rider professionally. I grew up riding and showing horses from the time I was eight years old. And in fact, I even majored in equestrian studies in my undergrad. And then I shifted to wanting to go to grad school. I wasn’t sure exactly what that would look like, but while I was applying to different programs and discovered integrated market and communication, which really piqued my interest, I always had an interest in how people made decisions about things and what caused people to buy certain products and stuff like that.

It was always in the background of my mind. I was applying to programs. I also was finding my way toward veganism and I was questioning my early decision to think about having a career in horses or some horse-related career. So as I entered grad school for marketing communications, I also got very involved in veganism, local vegan communities, where I was living at the time in Boston. And my parents were starting a vegan group in upstate New York. And so then begins phase two of my life where I think people knew me more as this vegan travel person because after grad school, again, this could be a longer story, but I basically quit the job I had started after grad school because I wanted to try to live in a van, before it was super cool, and travel around the US to try and eat at every vegan restaurant in the country.

So this project was called Will Travel for Vegan Food. Not only did I visit all 50 states, I went to 21 countries in search of vegan food. It was an amazing, nearly a decade of my life spent doing this passion project. And while I was doing that, I did have this side business where I was doing some freelancing related to marketing, social media consulting. I had some one-off or part-time jobs here and there doing marketing, social media communications related work. So I had been doing copywriting adjacent work. And of course, some of that involved doing some writing for my clients or the people that I was working for. So that was phase two. I had this life as a horseback rider from a very young age on through college. Then after I got my master’s degree, I decided to quit the literal desk job that I had and focus on building out this passion project of traveling for vegan food, and then COVID happened and I had a bit of an identity crisis.

I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to bring in money. I lost a few of my consulting clients because of COVID. So I forget how I initially stumbled upon the phrase or the understanding of the word copywriting. I had always known of it, but not necessarily as a career path, but I think it was actually just before COVID started that I was exploring what I would be doing career wise, as my travels were slowing down. And one of the silver linings, I suppose, for me of having to stop traveling and focus only on essentially my career, was that I decided to go full in, on this copywriting thing when I learned about it. And again, this was by March 2020, I’m dissolving my previous business and going all out on a copywriting business.

And so my business is fairly new. It’s only two and a half years old, I suppose, at this point, but it has, hands down, been the most lucrative career I’ve ever had. And it’s really cool that it’s a self-employed type of thing too, because I think I come from a long line of entrepreneurs on my dad’s side. And so I think it’s just in my blood to want to prove to myself that I can run a business and it’s been going amazingly well. We’re growing steadily. I’ve got some junior copywriters on the team now and a business advisor. So that’s my long-winded answer to your question of how I found my way to copywriting now in phase three of my life, which is becoming known as a copywriter and business owner.

Rob Marsh:  So I love hearing you talk about it being lucrative, so we can maybe set the context for that. About how much were you making doing the consulting? About how much did you make for the book and then how did copywriting change that?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  So my halfheartedly built consulting business was bringing in maybe a couple thousand dollars a month and I was really just putting that right back into buying the next plane ticket or buying food, gas for the van, whatever it was. And then the book they paid me; hopefully this is okay to share with you, but it’s been out for six years. I’m sure it’s fine. But they paid me, I believe it was three grand to write the book and then I get royalties annually. I think the last quarter I made $8 on the royalties. So really it-

Rob Marsh:  It sounds like my royalties on my book. It’s like $2 a quarter. Yeah. Tell us what the name of the book is so that anybody who’s interested can go buy it and maybe you’ll actually make $8 next quarter.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Yes. Yes. It’s called Will Travel for Vegan Food, a Young Woman’s Solo Van Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food and Make Love, personal love, not sexy time love.

Rob Marsh:  Awesome. Okay. Sorry. I interrupted. You were talking about how copywriting changed what you were earning.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Yeah, so admittedly, the first six to eight months, it was a rough go just because I was learning the craft. I mean, I had done a little bit of what I didn’t know was copywriting before, doing copywriting intentionally and the marketing jobs I had before I quit them. And in the consulting I did, I always ended up doing some writing for my clients or helping them, whether it was their marketing strategy or coming up with their mission and vision statements; things like this that are adjacent to copywriting in a lot of ways, if not part of what we do as copywriters. So the first couple months I actually started on Fiverr because that’s where I thought I could get some experience that was low pressure, starting with very minimal and varied types of work related to copywriting. And so within that first six to eight months, I was making very little, maybe a few thousand dollars a month.

I had some clients from my previous consulting business that did roll over with me and were happy to have me help them with copy instead of what I was working on with them before, which was really great. One of them is still a retainer client today of over five years, which is cool. And then, the big game changer for me was I was approached by a friend who is in sales for the entertainment industry. The company that he works for builds the immersive experiences that you go through at, let’s say, Disney, when you walk in and go to the Avatar experience. His company builds those sets. And so he sells essentially those sets to giant corporations. So I’m telling him what I’m working on. And he says, “Oh, well, can I sit in on a sales call with you and see how it goes”?

And here I am thinking, this is terrifying. I have only ever worked for myself. I’ve never had anyone else in part of my bubble, especially on a sales call, it’s terrifying. So he started sitting in on a couple of calls. He would give me advice or I would record a sales call and have him listen to it. And then the little bit that he was giving me advice was really helping me to get more confidence in terms of asking for more money, pricing per project versus hourly. And then I decided to; we talked about this together, the same person, we decided to bring him on a commission-based level. And this is where things really changed because now he was more invested in closing a sales call or closing a client I should say. And also he was helping me source some bigger companies.

So instead of working for, I’d primarily, it’d been in my previous company, been working for solopreneurial types, small businesses of maybe one or two employees. And now we’re getting on calls with medium size companies that have 20 to 40 employees and they’ve actually budgeted for copywriting and they know what copywriting is. That was also a realization to me early on, not everyone values or understands what it is. So as soon as we’d started tipping into that space of getting on calls with bigger companies, not just individual business owners, per se, and having my business consultant on the calls in a commission based capacity, then we started tipping into, we got closer to six and eight K months and then 10K months. And now we’re in the 15 to 20K months consistently.

Rob Marsh:  We haven’t talked about this on the podcast before, which is amazing because we’re 300 plus episodes in and we’ve never talked to anybody who’s used a setter sales type relationship before. So I really want to go deep on this and really understand how it works. So tell us how that relationship is today. Does he handle all of the calls? Are you still on the calls? What does that look like? And wait, I’ve got questions about commissions. I’ve got questions about him finding potential clients for you. Do all of the things there. Sure.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Where do you want to start?

Rob Marsh:  Well, so let’s start basically with what his role is exactly. What he’s doing to help bring in clients and then we can branch out from there.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Sure. So it has evolved a little bit. The baseline of it is he’s a sounding board. So whether or not he’s getting on a call with me, because now I feel much more comfortable after having him on dozens of calls at this point and modeling the types of questions and even just the confidence in the way he comes across on these calls. This has taught me how to show up in these ways when I’m by myself. So now, whether or not he is on a call… We have weekly check-ins, I share where I’m at with certain clients. He’s a part of the CRM platform that we use, so he can see which clients I’m working with, where they are in the process of closing the sale. And at the minimum, I’m asking for his advice on certain things.

At the most involved he’ll be is maybe getting on the discovery, call the closing/sales call. And then he goes away for that client unless there’s opportunities for more work, renewing work, making the change, the scope of work and the change orders, things like that. So depending on the size of the client today, the relationship looks more like he’s an advisor, a sounding board, but then for the big juicy clients, he’ll come in to help close the deal.

Rob Marsh:  And does he find leads for you as well? Or do those come to your business? And then you just bring him into advice.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Still, to this day, every client that has come through the doors has been word of mouth. Initially, we did have in the contract that he would source some clients. And we did a little bit of creating spreadsheets of who we were going to target in different industries and spending time looking up the people on LinkedIn and all this jazz. And I did a little bit of cold pitching as did he. None of that stuff really turned into anything. But what really worked was just nurturing the existing relationships we had because even though some former or existing clients maybe had been priced out as the business continued to grow and we changed our minimum level of engagement and all these pieces, we still get those same clients, more former clients referring people to us. Because part of my job that I see in the company is to really focus on CRM, the customer relationship management, and making sure that everyone we work with feels well taken care of and we’re going above and beyond.

So as much as we may have said, “Oh yeah, he’ll start sourcing some other clients for us”, as we continue to shift how we were charging who we were working with, it also shifted the referrals, if that makes sense. So he did a little bit in the beginning, but now it’s still continued to be word of mouth mostly. I will say, I did have a very unconventional… My biggest client that has come in to date, it was a very unconventional method in which they came through the door. It wasn’t a referral. It wasn’t through either of us actively sourcing them. But it was this company that the owner does a lot of business training stuff in the design world. It has nothing to do with copy or even marketing. They help designers, web designers, brand managers, people like this, visual designers learn how to build and scale their own businesses.

And my business consultant is obsessed with this person and he says, you should start listening to this podcast and go to their webinars and all stuff. So it was, I think in December or January, December last year or January this year, I attended one of their workshops and the person from their organization or their company that was hosting the workshop, made a joke about how she is the accidental copywriter for this company. She just happens to be good at writing in the voice of the owner, but that’s not her skillset or her preferred work, I should say. So I made a public comment in front of the hundreds of people that were on this webinar. And I said, “Well, if you ever need a copywriter on your team, wink, wink, nudge, nudge”. And in that same moment, the other person who was on the call, managing the workshop, messaged me and said, “Email me, let’s talk”. And they hired us in March and they’re on a $ 4,000-a-month retainer, which is our biggest retainer client right now.

Rob Marsh:  That’s amazing. Being in the right place, just being willing to raise your hand and yeah, that’s awesome. Okay. While we’re still talking about your relationship here, how does the financial breakdown work? What’s the percentage that he earns versus what you get?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Yeah, so we factor in, when we’re talking about budget, before we even get on that final sales call, by that point, we’ll have a rough idea of what the potential client is thinking budget range or budget-wise, because we’ll have brought that up in the discovery call. So as we’re putting it together, the proposal, this is the other great thing about this guy is he’s great at spreadsheets. So he’s got everything broken down into spreadsheets where we take into account subcontractors, side note. This is the second most important thing I did for my business was bring in subcontractors. The two big things are hiring this commission-based business consultant and bringing in subs, two most game-changing decisions I’ve ever made. So we factor in how much guesstimated or how many guesstimated hours will the subcontractors come in for this project. And then from there he takes 25% commission and then the business gets the rest, and then from there, I pay myself, but I don’t get all of that money that’s left.

Rob Marsh:  That all makes sense. So if somebody else were to want to do this, bring in somebody to help with sales calls, maybe even to take on a bigger role, they handle the sales calls, what advice would you give to them to maybe smooth the process? Some of the pitfalls that you had to work through, that stuff, how would they make it work in their business?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  It’s really about… I mean, this is not a great answer because it’s difficult to suss out, but really having a good relationship with the person. I think it’s much harder to start with someone that you don’t know, spend the time getting to know this person before you sign a contract with them. See if you can join some of their sales calls or listen in on their sales calls, see how they negotiate and how they show up on a call. Do they seem friendly and warm? Are they in alignment with the brand tone and voice of your own company? Does it match because, you know, don’t want to bring someone in who’s wildly different than the energy that you bring to a discovery or sales call because it’s going to confuse the potential client. So just developing a relationship with them before signing a contract, I think would be really important and definitely checking in on the milestones or the goals that you’ve set.

Because we were friends before bringing him on in a paid capacity, we have allowed each other to not always be held accountable for certain things. Sometimes we fall off our weekly meetings or if he gets really busy at his regular full-time job, then he may not be as responsive when I have a question about something, although to be fair, he’s very, very good at staying on track with stuff. So there are some ebbs and flows with that as well. But I think I just landed in a very unique position where I happen to have someone that I knew well enough and trusted to bring them into the inside of my business, show them the numbers, talk about what I was struggling with and agree to terms that that felt comfortable enough.

And I will say we’ve since changed his commission to 20% because he’s not doing as much as he was in the beginning in terms of trying to get more clients or even being as available. He’s taking on a new role in his job. He’s moving to LA. So he got all the stuff going on, but that works perfectly for me because I feel so much more confident in being with him on those calls. I’m learning how to do those things that I really struggled with, which was talking about money and closing a sale.

Rob Marsh:  That’s where I want to go next because clearly you’ve made some big strides in your sales calls and you’ve improved your approach. So walk me through, what are the basics of your sales call and how has it changed from some of those first discovery calls that you maybe did while you were working on Fiverr to landing amazing clients today?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  The biggest difference was in the early Fiverr days, I was saying yes to everything and not just because of the Fiverr platform, even if someone wanted to move off of Fiverr or I was getting a referral outside of Fiverr in my community, I would just say yes to anything, which is good when you’re learning stuff. But certainly it’s not as good when it comes to pricing. If someone said they were struggling financially, or that you were too expensive, I would say, “Well, we can work with that. It’s fine. Let’s figure out”. And then I’d still end up putting in the same amount of time and effort for less money. So it was moving from saying yes to everything to being willing to say no. When I felt like someone wasn’t a good fit, whether that was budget-wise or just personality-wise, I definitely in the first year and a half or so had a couple clients where I wanted to pull my hair out.

And now I’m happy to say that I love all of the clients that I have now. So moving into the space of being willing to say no. And then I would say the other really big shift was going into a discovery or sales call, not trying to sell anything. Just showing up to listen to what the person needs and being very realistic about if I can help them, instead of immediately trying to fit into what I think they need or accommodate what I thought that they were looking for is to be just very objective about: here’s what I can do. Here’s the skillset of my team. Does it make sense that we can all work together or not? And it’s okay if it doesn’t work. At a minimum, I’ve practiced saying no in that call or I’ve practiced verbalizing the boundaries around my business, and then I can either refer them to someone or move on.

Rob Marsh:  And do you have specific questions that you ask that help pull out some of that conversation while you’re having that with a client? I know a lot of, especially beginning copywriters, I certainly did this when I was beginning. When we jump on that sales call, we’re trying to sell ourselves. I made the same mental shift that you did. It’s like, “Oh, when I start listening, I start asking the right questions. It completely changes the sales call”. What kinds of questions do you use to get that out of your client so that you can say, “Oh yeah, this is where the fit is.”

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Yeah. I used to go into calls with questions in front of me on the screen, like five or six questions. And I would turn into a bit of a robot. I realized this was also feedback from my business consultant, was to stop reading your questions because you sound like a fake person. So when I stopped worrying about that and just had a notebook next to me, where I could take notes in real-time, as a thought would come up or to note down something personal they’ve said about themselves, it really turned into an organic conversation. So to start, I may just say something as simple as, so what have you got going on? What do you need help with? And then it’s fully organic from there. Although I will admit that I do in the back of my mind, have certain things I want to get to.

And so things like talking about budget, I don’t know if anyone out there listening knows of Chris Do from The Futur, but he’s also been so invaluable in my education around business. And he says, whoever says the price first, wins or some expression like that. So if you’re willing to say your price first or say a range or do some price bracketing and give them a range first, it helps set the tone. But again, before you even get into that discovery or sales call in the email leading up to it, if they’ve emailed or if we’ve gone back and forth a little bit, I’ll say, “We’re going to talk about the scope of your project, budget, timeline.”

I throw in the word budget just to queue it up, tee it up, make sure that they know it’s going to happen. And so it’s become such an organic process versus needing to stick to certain questions. But all that I know is that before the call ends, I need to understand the detailed scope of work so that I can if I go away for a proposal, I know what needs to go in the proposal and their budget range or my budget range, what we’re working with and is it realistic for what they need?

Rob Marsh:  Okay. That makes sense. So earlier, when we first started talking, you mentioned you have a five-year retainer client, and then you were talking about how much focus you put on customer experience. I have a feeling that they’re related. Tell us a little bit about what you do to create this customer experience for your clients. And the reason I’m asking this is that in my opinion, this is one place where way too many copywriters, just let that experience be what it is. I’m sending you a document or here’s the call. And we could be so much better at this. And I think, I don’t know, maybe yours is amazing. Maybe it’s not amazing, but it’s probably a couple of steps ahead of where everybody else is. So tell us about what you do to foster a good customer experience.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  I always think I can be doing more. I’ll just throw that out there now before I jump in on that, but I’ve listened to other guests you’ve had in the podcast that have these white glove experiences and they’re sending birthday celebration notes and things like this. And I feel like I don’t necessarily go down that road. It’s more delivering on time showing, showing up for calls as myself, as a person and not trying to oversell or over communicate, letting them know, keeping them in the loop on the process that we’re in terms of if it’s a longer-term project. So it’s really just showing up as a business owner. I don’t think I’m doing anything extravagant, but I think the difference is I’m now in a position where I can select clients and this is the same for the client that’s been with me for five years that we get along personality-wise.

So there isn’t even a need to do jumping jabs or send them gifts at holidays. It’s really just about being able to work with people that you get along with on a personal level. And I’m not saying you have to share your political views or anything like that. It’s more, you just jive. You get on a call with someone and you could just tell almost immediately that you’re comfortable with them and they probably feel the same way or you present as a professional business owner and they can sense that from you. And then they start to trust you when you deliver on time and you deliver good work and for better or worse, I’m a bit type A, so I’m maybe over-communicating, even though I said I wasn’t doing that, but just in terms of really keeping them in the loop and making them feel like I’m on top of everything.

And I think what’s allowed me to do that is hiring subcontractors because while they’re doing the core research and writing, I’m making sure that the project is on track and on time. And that I’ve got time blocked off for sourcing more clients or doing editing on the project. So it’s really about freeing up my time so that I can just stay in touch with the existing clients. So again, I don’t think I’m doing anything extravagant or different necessarily. In fact, I think as I said, I could be doing more, but I think the baseline is just showing up professionally and as a real person, not trying to be someone else.

Rob Marsh:  That makes sense. You mentioned you use a tool to help you with your CRM and organizing your projects. What tool do you use?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Right now we’re using Asana and I know it’s not really a CRM tool, but I’m forcing it into one because primarily it’s our project management tool and I was also for CRM, specifically using Click Up. But I found that it was too much to have both platforms. So just in the last few weeks I’ve been creating a section in Asana for sales CRM, just to have everything in one place and it’s working. I like using it a lot.

Rob Marsh:  All right. So let’s jump in here, Kira. I’ve got a couple of things that jump out in particular. We’re talking a lot about sales here, but ladies first, what stood out to you in the interview?

Kira Hug:  Cool. Thank you, Rob. That’s so polite. I love hearing this conversation because I wasn’t there and I definitely feel I got some FOMO because you start off talking about Kristin becoming a vegan and traveling the country, trying, attempting to eat at all the vegan restaurants, which is quite ambitious. I mean, that’s huge. And so it grabbed my interest because if you go back to our interview with Topaz, not too long ago, we talked about veganism and then her business around cruelty-free copy. And from that episode with Topaz, she pushed me over the edge to try it out.

Rob Marsh: Wait. You’re a vegan. Now you’re trying to be a vegan?

Kira Hug:  Yeah.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. Oh, amazing. That’s awesome.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, it was that conversation. I’ve thought about it for a long time, but I wasn’t ready and Topaz did it for me. So just a couple weeks later hearing this conversation, I didn’t realize Kristin was, she probably told me when we hung out, but so it was just really cool. Now I want to get her book because I feel like I’m not prepared to be… a vegan, I don’t know what to do other than just don’t eat meat. So I need a resource and I’m like, “I don’t know what to do.” So I just keep eating veggie patties, but there’s got to be more to this than that; but thank you, Kristin, for your book. I’m going to check it out. It’s going to really help me out. So that was just a really exciting moment for me. But Rob, as you were listening to the conversation again, what stood out to you?

Rob Marsh: Yeah, I think one of the things I love most about this is just how it got me thinking a little bit differently about sales and so many of us, as we start out as copywriters, we just handle it. We jump onto calls, we try to sell our services or as we get better at it, we start listening to our clients. But I love that Kristin got herself a sales consultant, somebody who actually got into the nuts and bolts of her business and started listening to her calls, started looking at the things that she was sending out and really dove in.

This is some of the stuff that we can do in Think Tank with people as well. You and I have worked with a few copywriters doing this thing, but it’s just such a smart move because again, we’re copywriters, we’re good at writing. We may be good at selling through words, but we’re not always good at communicating sales on a sales call or doing a discovery call and figuring out who’s the right client or, following up with the right proposal or talking about money or all of the things that Kristin talked about in this interview. And so I just think that’s something maybe more of us should be doing more of.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. It’s one of those moments where I’m like, “Oh wait, we can do that. We’re allowed to do that.”  Almost like taking off Fridays as entrepreneurs. We can do that. We’re running our own business. And so, thinking about just outsourcing the sales call to a commission-based consultant sounds amazing. And it’s like, why are more of us not doing it? I think just for the training alone, I would love to bring in someone like that for my sales calls, just to listen to me in a live call and critique… I mean, it would be painful, but to critique it and then help me improve and build confidence.

Like Kristin said, now she takes most of the calls and she feels so much more confident because of that experience. So it’s brilliant. I just want to know where can we find more of these consultants like her friend and connect more copywriters to them? Because I think this is just, like she said, there are two game-changer moves for her. It was hiring this commission-based consultant and then hiring contractors. And she was really clear. Those two changes changed her business, so we can all do that.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, absolutely. I think getting that feedback builds confidence. We’ve talked a lot about confidence and how you can’t just create confidence. You have to actually do things but doing it, getting the feedback, I think supercharges that loop of building confidence and so really smart to do that. And I think initially I was thinking of it as a setter sales relationship and there’s a lot of info products that are sold that way. Especially high ticket courses, masterminds where they have somebody who has that initial call and then there maybe is a follow-up call or there’s this very defined sales process that people sometimes go through. Kristin’s process is a little bit different, but it’s similar in that there’s a second party there helping create that. And so having a sales setter as part of your business could also work.

It may be a different way to do this. And perhaps we should bring somebody on in the future to talk about that process as well. But yeah, the sales advisor that helps you stop saying yes to everyone and no to the wrong clients, helps you figure out that you’re not actually selling, but you’re listening, you’re solving problems, helping you talk about pricing in that discussion. All of these things are things that we should be getting better at. And of course, we can practice it on our own over three or four years, but why not bring in somebody who can help us shortcut that process?

Kira Hug:  Yeah. And I still have more questions about it too. So I think there’s a lot here because I’m wondering how Kristin positions that person on a sales call, knowing that they will disappear after the sales call. So maybe I missed that in the conversation and you know.

Rob Marsh:  I think there’s lots of different approaches to it. I think when Kristin was starting out, it was more the two of them together. Now she’s more confident, she’s built it, but again, lots of different ways to approach this process.

Kira Hug: Kristin, if you ever want to do training on how to do it and what it actually looks like, I want to see it in action and see how it plays out. So we can chat about that. What I also like that she does on sales calls is she mentioned, she drops in the mention of a budget ahead of time before the sales call in an email. She mentions the agenda and here’s what we’re going to cover, timeline, budget. And she intentionally plants that word so they are already prepared to talk about budget. And I think that’s a really smart move. It’s not hard to do. And if it can make talking about money a little bit easier, great. It’s worth doing.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, absolutely talking about money on the call, not leaving until later, not surprising a client, that’s a pro move and all of us should be doing that.

Kira Hug:  Yes. What else stood out to you Rob?

Rob Marsh:  One other thing that Kristin said, and she was again, just the throwaway line, but when she was talking about how she got this client that she had, she was in this group, they were talking about the things that they do. Her contact says, “Hey, I’ve been doing this thing”. And Kristin spotted the opportunity that this person wasn’t a copywriter, but she was doing all of the copy. And she simply said, if you ever need a copywriter, I’m available. And I just think it’s a really good example of showing up, putting yourself in the right place at the right time, in order to land clients. You can’t just sit in your office, waiting for clients to come to you. You’ve got to get yourself out there. You’ve got to be participating. Whether that’s participating in free groups, paid programs, masterminds, other networking events, there’s so many ways to do this, but getting out of our offices, away from the kitchen table, wherever it is that we write and getting out into the world and showing up, is an important part of doing business.

Kira Hug:  And I also like that you two touched on customer experience and Kristin was really upfront that it sounded like she doesn’t do anything fancy, like sending gifts or jumping jacks, but she delivers on time. And she shows up as her real self and is professional and also over communicates. And I think that was an important part that maybe even Kristin probably overlooks too, because she just does it naturally. But keeping the client in the loop can create a great customer experience. And so I think sometimes we overdo it and we’re like, “Oh, we have to send gifts. We have to send them flowers”. We have to do all these things, send them videos, but really they can have a great customer experience if you just create a really positive interaction when you do have a Zoom call or a phone call. And when you deliver on time and when you keep them up to date on what’s happening during the project. Those are all ingredients for a great customer experience. We don’t have to force it into something that’s really fancy and doesn’t fit.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. It’s a no duh, right? But the thing is that for a lot of freelancers, it’s not. It doesn’t come naturally to show up on time or to stick to the budget or to do what you say. I’ve worked with not just copywriters, but designers, programmers, who did not deliver what they say. And it is exceptionally frustrating as a client. And so if you show up, if you do those table stakes things, you put yourself ahead of so many other freelancers, copywriters, designers, whoever else they’re working with. And it does create that positive experience. Of course, we can do more. We can send the gifts, we can do special reach outs, we can have client portals on our sites or branded documents, all of those kinds of things that even enhance the experience more. But man, sometimes just doing the basics well, is enough.

Kira Hug:  Just do the job. They just don’t want you to do the job. And oftentimes when we’ve talked with copywriters about bringing on subcontractors, there’s a hesitation around it. Not with everyone, and I think it’s becoming more acceptable, more common, but the hesitation is they’re not going to do a great job. I’m going to have to redo everything. This is actually going to make my business more stressful and not actually help me. And what Kristin shared is that by bringing on subcontractors, it’s freed up her time so that she can focus more on managing her clients and over communicating with them and giving them a positive experience because she’s not in the weeds working on every single deliverable.

So it’s just another way to look at the power of bringing on subcontractors and having a team. It’s really hard to do everything. Be the project manager, be the client-relation manager, be the head writer and researcher and editor and customer interview. There are so many things that we do. And so it makes sense to have a team that can support you so you can do what you do best and support your clients and make them happy.

Rob Marsh:  Agreed. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Kira Hug:  All right. Well, let’s get back into the interview with Kristin and hear about her experience, working with the team.

Rob Marsh:  We’re talking about your team, we’ve mentioned the sales advisor. We’ve got you on your team as well. And then you have subcontractors. What are they doing? What roles do they fill and how do you interact with them?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  So we have two subcontractors that are amazing. I got so lucky with them and I found them just by posting on my Facebook page. “Hey, I’m hiring. Looking for some folks that would like to explore copywriting”, and again, positioning it as a junior copywriting position versus a more substantial role. And I’ve got one that focuses primarily on blogs and articles, because as much as I didn’t think that blog writing was something I would offer in my business, we were getting enough inquiries for it. And that it just made sense. And personally, I don’t enjoy writing blogs. So I thought maybe I can find someone who does. And so this one writer does primarily blog content and articles. And then our other, newer junior copywriter mostly works on case studies in white papers. They are in client meetings. So the clients know that we have other people on the team that are helping out, but anything that gets delivered to the client comes through me.

So even if let’s say E, who’s one of our subcontractors, so when they send me an article, I do the final editing pass on it. We go back and forth a little bit, if it needs a bit more. And then I create a copy of that in our Google drive that goes into the client-facing folder. And then I’ll email the client to say, this is ready for you. So both of our current subs are working on retainer client projects and then the one off or other projects that come in, I’m usually still writing and the primary person on those, but I’m always the point person for stuff that’s coming in and out.

Rob Marsh:  And is it always retainers? Do you set up all projects on retainers or do you take individual projects? What does that look like?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  I would love to have all retainers, but we do take on individual projects. And right now with the business, since we’re still, it feels fairly new to me still, even though we’re two and a half years in, but we haven’t niched down and do a particular market, which I know is “ah,” for some people, but we’ve got clients that are in all different industries and we’re doing all different kinds of work for them. So since I don’t even have a particular market or niche that I’m interested in doubling down on yet, I’m open to taking those one-off projects to see, do we like writing about this subject matter? Do we like this client? And if the answer is yes to both, then we try to move them into a retainer. So I would say right now we have three retainer clients and then four or five one-off projects that are in the works right now.

Rob Marsh:  And then financially, is there a typical price point you’re aiming for, with your retainers, with your projects? Minimum price, that kind of thing?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  If I have a subcontractor working on, if I know I want to have them working on an incoming retainer, then I’m definitely pricing around that. But I would say our minimum level of engagement for any new work right now is a thousand dollars, depending on the scope of the work. That would be a very small project. And I don’t even know if that would qualify for a retainer. It really varies. It depends on what the client needs. Can we really help them? Does it fit within what we can do for them? So there are all these variables. So as much as I might say, our minimum level is X, to be fair, it could be way more. It could be less if it’s a one-off, small thing for me. So yeah, it’s hard to say sometimes.

Rob Marsh:  Okay. Yeah. One last question about your team. So when you are thinking through, you’ve got to pay them and pricing. Is there a percentage that you’re looking at? It’s like, I know I’ve got to pay them $750, so I’m going to take 30% more and that gets you to a thousand. How much of the project do they get versus what you get for managing the project, for final edits, for the client relationship stuff? How does that break down?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Yeah, so they’re both paid hourly and I usually factor in because I’ve already done this type of work before that I’m hiring them to do, so I’m guesstimating early on roughly how many hours it may take them to do their part of the work. And that’s when I’m building in. The nice thing about the fact that one of them has been with us for a year and a half and the other one’s about three or four months in, is now we are learning how long it really does because I’m having them track their hours, of course. So now that we know it takes X number of hours for E to work on this size blog post for this particular type of industry, now I’ve got something solid that I can add to. So there will always be a baseline. Here’s what we charge for this type of scope of work that you need. And then I’m going to add in their hours that we think they’ll need and that’s going to be the price the client sees.

Rob Marsh:  Okay. I like that. So you mentioned you don’t have a niche, but I know that you’ve worked with some therapists as part of your business and you mentioned before we started recording that sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. We’ve definitely worked with other copywriters who are like, “Oh, I want to work with therapists. I want to work with people who are helping the underprivileged”, or all of these situations. Talk to us a little bit about the good and the bad of that niche.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  I think I really lucked out beyond the Fiverr days, once we were moving past that, I got into this space of therapists, just again through word of mouth. So once I started website copy for one, it led to another and led to another, which was really fantastic as I was crafting, developing the skill for website copywriting. And I thought in those early few months of working primarily with therapists, I thought, “Oh, this is what I’m going to be… This is my thing. This is my jam. I love that I’m helping people who are helping people”, but I would say within six months or so of mostly writing website copy for therapists, I was getting burnt out, but not on the work itself, on the subject matter because as everyone knows out there, when you, especially for web copy, you’re putting yourself in the position or the mindset of the reader.

And so when you’re writing from this space of feeling, whatever it may be that brought the person to look for a therapist, extremely sad. I don’t want to go into… Obviously we know that there are varying levels of things and feelings that people will bring them to search for a therapist. So it began to weigh on me a bit. I may even have dipped into a little bit of a depression at some point, because I was just always putting my mind in that state of someone needing that support. And I have a therapist, I think there’s no nothing wrong with that.

Of course, I support therapists and I see one and I think that they’re so critical to our mental health, no matter why you go. But it was definitely getting difficult after a while because I was always writing. The words weren’t depressing, but just being in that state of mind of someone who needed that support, got to be a lot. In fact, I remember at one point in the early pandemic days, I was working on copy for someone that specializes in loss, death and dying and grief. So I was writing on that, the pandemic started happening and then I was also in a former life, I did a lot of video editing and video production stuff. So I was wrapping up an old client, editing a video about animal abuse. It was just like this compounding, really not great, couple of months where I was working on very depressing things.

Rob Marsh:  I think this is where Kira would jump in and talk about being a highly sensitive entrepreneur, that deep empathy that some of us, I don’t claim that skillset, but some of us bring to the table and we can get really involved in our clients and sometimes taking a step back is actually the healthier thing to do than leaning in.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  And I would say that as we were starting to get different and varied clients in and change the price point, we did start to price out because again, a lot of the therapists I was working with were solo business owners. They didn’t have a big practice with multiple practitioners. So did start to price some of those out. I still have a couple therapists clients now, but it sits in a different scope and scale now.

Rob Marsh:  So I want to go back to, I totally skipped over this, which is unique for me because I have this thing where I want to live the van life. I think we talked about this when we met in Nashville, but I want to talk about your travel experience and just the decision to set out on your own, to visit all 50 states. I know the vegan restaurant thing that turned into a book. We can get to that too, but why did you decide to pack everything into a van and make a living on the road?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  It was around that time that I found those lifestyle designer folks and started asking myself how I would want to spend my time. And I thought, what are things that I love to do? Well, I love to eat. I had fallen in love with food after becoming vegan, which may sound ironic to some people. And then I always thought that I wanted to travel, but I hadn’t really traveled much at all. At that point in my life, I was in my late twenties, by the time I had this revelation.

So it all culminated at this moment when I was about to sit down at my literal cubicle at my desk job at the time. And the words for this project just came to my brain, Will Travel for Vegan Food. It just dropped in. And I think later that day I bought the domain. I set up the social media pages. I didn’t even know what it was going to look like yet, but I got so excited about it. Just this concept of spending all my… Okay, look, this was before van dwelling was the hip thing to do and everyone was on YouTube-

Rob Marsh:  You’re setting the trend here.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Well, I still pick myself for not starting to document my travels on YouTube back then, because I think in the fall of 2011 is when I set out on my trip. So I could be living off of YouTube revenue right now if I had thought about it. But that moment has passed. To be fair, going back to the empathetic thing, I think I would’ve been too sensitive for the critics of the internet to be a YouTube person or an influencer. So I think it was probably for the best. So yeah, I felt just this need to give it a try, to give it a go. So much so that as I already said, it led me to quit the job that I had at the time. And then once I started van dwelling and realizing how little physical things I needed to be happy, just everything from books to clothes and a desk to work from, once I realized I didn’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles, I started to fall more in love with that way of living, i.e. minimalism to some extent.

And then I also fell in love with the lifestyle of being able to wake up in a new place every day or work from a different coffee shop every few days. And so it really turned more into a lifestyle for me than a “vacation” or a project. It definitely started as a project that I thought I would end at some point and it turned into this 10-year-long traveling. I went around the world during an eight-month excursion, which was really cool, partially sponsored in 2016. But it just bled into changing how I viewed the way I was living my life and what I wanted to do, how I wanted to spend my time. And so at the end of that primary travel time of my life, I thought there’s one thing I’m going to commit to myself.

This is the agreement I need to have with myself, which is whether I’m self-employed or if I get a job with another company, the baseline rule is it has to be remote, which thankfully today, one of the silver linings, I guess, of the pandemic is realizing that “Hey, we can”. Working remote is a viable option for some people and for copywriting, it’s extremely viable. So my rule was, as long as it’s remote and I can still live in different places or relocation independent to some extent, then that’s what I’ve come to learn, really feeds my soul.

Rob Marsh:  Are there any highlights, favorite places that, well, I guess there’s two ways to look at it, because the first tour was national, 50 states in the US, but then you did the worldwide thing. What were your favorite places and maybe even what were the best places for working?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Okay. Well, one of the best places for working was Cheng Mai, Thailand actually, because the city has become the hub for digital nomads. There are countless coffee shops with great wifi and every kind of milk you could possibly want so they could keep you there. And all kinds of food and housing, they have amazing housing opportunities where you can sublet or rent a place for three to six months. It’s fully designed for people that are location independent or want to work from some other part of the world. So Chiang Mai is definitely at the top of the list for remote working, friendly places. I think a lot of the big cities in the US are pretty good for that too if you’ve got the budget for living in New York City, Chicago and LA. There are so many co-working spaces in each of these cities.

There are coffee shops with free wifi that you can hang out in, or maybe you’re in a nice Airbnb that has amazing wifi; really anywhere in the big cities in the US can be good too. In terms of food or things to do, I have so many highlights and so many experiences of that. It’s really hard to narrow it down. It was easier when I was just doing the van dwelling, but now that it’s spanned a decade of traveling, it’s harder to pick one. I am still dreaming about going back to Paris. That’s one of my favorite places and Berlin as well. Berlin is amazing for vegan food. I was just writing a highlights piece for a vegan magazine; actually that asked me what my favorite vegan friendly cities were. So that’s all coming back to me now, but it’s hard to say because once you’ve traveled, to some extent, you always find something good about everywhere you go. Sure, there are highlights, but whether it’s the food or the landscape or the people that you meet, you can find something good in almost every place.

Rob Marsh:  When I took my family to Europe, I think I’ve talked about this on here. We talked about this for sure, but we were there for eight months. We were trying to come up with a top 10 list. It ended up being a top 50 list. And then we’re like, “Okay, what are we going to cut out to get it down”? And nobody would cut in anything. It’s like, there’s just so much good that comes out of travel. Obviously, if people have the opportunity to do it, I would much rather buy a plane ticket than a television set. And I know that’s not everybody, but anybody who has the opportunity should definitely take it. There’s just so much good.

Okay. So the travel thing turned into a book. I want to talk more about writing the book and traditional publishing because it’s one thing to publish on Amazon, whatever, but you published with a traditional publisher. Talk to us about that process. How did you land the project, an agent, all of that stuff? And if we were going to do something similar, maybe not a book on veganism. In my case, my book would probably be about bacon in all of the 50 states or something, but what’s the process. What should we do?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  I don’t know, because I got really lucky that I was approached by the publisher. I got incredibly lucky that this newly formed, small publishing house was looking for its first writer, author, and they pitched me. So I probably agreed too soon to the terms that they set, because I like, cool, a book. And I guess once you’re in there though, I could talk a little bit more about that because from what I’ve experienced in having chatted with other authors at this point, because in writing the book, I definitely enlisted the help of a friend who was a multi-book published author for her guidance. And we set up an accountability meeting every week. So I would send her a chapter or portion of a chapter every week. And then we would meet every Friday morning and check-in, go over it. We exchanged our time.

We’d spend the first half hour talking about my book and the chapter and she’d give me her advice. And then in the second half, I would help her. She was building a business. So I would give her marketing advice and things like that. So we spent probably six months doing that where every week, we would check it. And that’s what really helped me get the book written. Because again, going into that, I did not consider myself a writer. Writing that book was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because obviously in traditional publishing, you’ve got a timeline. They had a date that they were planning to send it to the printer and all these things. So I had to get it done in a certain amount of time. And I had no idea how long that would take me.

So in order to get the book written, enlisted the help of someone to be my accountability buddy, and then after it was published or when it was leading up to being published because of my marketing background, I had a lot of fun coming up with some fun unconventional ways to promote the book because what you learn, especially if it’s your first book, you learn pretty quickly that the publisher, even if they’re really big mine, mine was not big. They were brand new and they were niched into the vegan space. So they don’t really support any financial end of promoting the book.

And I’ve heard this, no matter the size of the publisher. So this is not a dig at my publisher, but just publishers in general, where you’ve really got to do your own promotion of the book if you want to get it out there. Granted, if you are a Brene Brown, you don’t have to worry about it, I’m sure. But when you’re some unknown person that’s publishing a book, it’s a bit different, but I did a bunch of countdown posts and videos. And this was back in 2015, early 2015. So social media wasn’t quite a space of burntoutness of people getting sick of hearing about stuff in some capacity. So I put together a little book promotion group. I had people that just volunteered to join a private Facebook group and agree to share the book and write an Amazon review about it when it came out.

So we hit the ground running with reviews and multiple people promoting it, just because they’re amazing, lovely, nice people who wanted to see the book get out into the world. And then I also wanted to do a book tour because I thought I don’t know if I’m ever going to write another book again. I’m going to go all out if I’m going to do this, because I’ve got so many restaurants named in the book. It’s not a restaurant guide by any means, but I certainly name-drop a bunch of vegan businesses and restaurants.

So I planned my book tour around where some of those restaurants were located that I mentioned in the book and I got them to sponsor some of the tours. So they would pay for my plane ticket because I promoted them in the book or there was a vegan food finding app that’s obviously directly aligned with the messaging of the book. So they sponsored some of it by buying books that I could give away at book signings. So I planned this 27 city book tour around the sponsored locations, if you will. And so that was really cool too.

Rob Marsh:  That’s good. And then when you were writing the book, did you have a daily work count? Did you get up at six in the morning to put in your time? How did the process of writing at work?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Oh, it was a mess. It was a mess because I didn’t research how to write a book, the process of writing the book. I just researched what should go in it. I didn’t have a process at all. Today, I would definitely approach it differently obviously, but at the time I just would sit there and stare at the computer until stuff came out. Sometimes it was at 6:00 AM. Sometimes it was at midnight and I was just sitting there and I’ll tell you, this may sound a little woo woo. But there were times when I would just look up and ask God or whoever’s listening, like “lease, what should I write about for this chapter? What is the story here”?

And then something would drop in and I would just go, I would get into the flow and a story would come out because even though I was blogging about the restaurants I was eating at on my blog for the project, I wasn’t necessarily documenting the personal experiences that were the core of the book. I had them in my mind, but remembering certain details, it took a while to find my place back there. I mean the easy part was it was my own story. The hard part was how do you tell someone your own story that’s interesting for someone who has no idea who you are.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. That’s a great challenge. I don’t think I’ll ever write a memoir. I’m not sure anybody wants to live my story. So Kristin, what is next for you? What are you doing in your business in your life? Where are you going next? Or what’s the future look like for you?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  Well, I’m currently a cat and house-sitting for my parents while they are doing the RV life thing. Speaking of, no matting around and van dwelling. They’ve got a very nice RV that they’ve started traveling with. So I’m here holding down the fort while they give that a try. And then once they decide, because they may actually sell their house and go full time. They’re thinking about that. So once they figure out their plan, my plan is to move to France because I would love to return to Paris. And I just really want to get back into being able to wake up somewhere new and feel like a cool boss business owner. I wake up, do my work, and explore a new city. So yeah, I think I’ll definitely be in some other country, hopefully within a year from now and continuing to grow my business. My goal of the business is really to bring it to a place where I could either sell it in the future or just totally go gangbusters and see how much I can scale and grow without breaking myself or the company.

Rob Marsh:  Nice. I love it. If somebody wants to connect with you, Kristin, work with you, read your book, find your book, whatever, where should they go?

Kristin Lajeunesse:  So the book is on Amazon and it’s on the publisher’s website. The book is called Will Travel for Vegan Food, that should come up on Amazon or the publisher is veganpublishers.com. And if you want to connect with me for copywriting stuff, my website is KMLCollective.com. Although, we are rebranding, hopefully by the end of this year. It’s been on my to-do list for the whole year. We’ll have a totally new name within the year I think. So I’m really, really excited about that. We’re moving away from it being the Kristin show and more agency style. So that’s exciting. And if you want to check out, connect with me on Instagram, it’s at Kristin with an in.

Rob Marsh:  Nice. And maybe we’ll have you come back and tell us all about that rebrand and what the new agency looks like at some point in the future.

Kristin Lajeunesse:  And Rob, I did want to share with you just how impactful you and Kira have been on my career during the first full year of my business. I was obsessively listening to the Copywriter Club Podcast. So it’s surreal to be here as a guest on the podcast. I remember having real moments of sadness, bordering depression between what was going on with COVID, not seeing my family. I wasn’t living near them when COVID started, being extremely alone and isolated, starting this new business. And I remember going on long walks in the afternoon where I was living at the time and I would listen to one or two episodes of this podcast while I was going on walks. And I learned so much about everything from getting started to scaling and you’ve just had really cool guests on it. And so I just want to acknowledge and say thank you for all the work that you and Kira have done to help copywriters like me start and grow our businesses.

And it was a really cool honor to then be able to attend TCC IRL this past year in March in Nashville. It was really cool to meet both you and Kira in real life. And to meet fellow copywriters. I definitely felt like a fish out of water and going back to what I was saying earlier about these different phases of my life that I’ve lived through, I will say that growing up and all I did with the horses and then becoming known as this vegan travel person, I could talk until I’m blue in the face about what I know and could teach someone about horses or about veganism or nomadic living, minimalism, that sort of thing. But I still feel a bit like I’m getting into the groove and becoming a master of this whole copywriting thing and being a business owner. And so being able to attend TCC IRL, having your podcast as a resource has just really helped me grow so much faster than I could have expected. So thank you so much for that.

Rob Marsh:  That’s the end of our interview with Kristin Lajeunesse. Before we go, Kira, have you considered moving your family into a van, driving around the country, around the world?

Kira Hug:  Oh my goodness. In a van. The idea of putting all five of us in a van, it just feels like a recipe for disaster. I do like the idea of van life. I love travel. I like the idea of waking up in a different place and I don’t actually need that many things. As I’ve realized after moving, I am rotating between the same three outfits every day. I don’t need a lot. So I think it would be great, but not with a 14 month old baby and two kids who have a lot of needs right now. So I know you’re ready to do it right. Maybe tomorrow you can jump in it.

Rob Marsh:  I would love to do it, but I think my wife is like you. She’s like, “Too little space, too much, Rob”. I think that is probably what would keep her from signing on. But I would love to, I think, hop into a remodeled sprinter van and being able to just go wherever, be wherever. I think it’ll be a blast. You’ve got to make sacrifices if you’re going to do that. I give up a lot of the luxury that I have. Being able to sit down on the couch and watch Netflix or whatever, now you’re sitting on a pull-out bed or whatever, but who knows, someday maybe, we’ll see. But right now, it’s not in the cards for me either.

Kira Hug:  Let’s talk about this part of the conversation Rob, as you re-listened to it, what resonated with you as you heard it for a second time.

Rob Marsh:  Well, so at the very end where we started talking about promoting her book and I love just the idea of writing. Obviously writing a book appeals to you, appeals to me, a lot of copywriters, but Kristin mentioned that she had to do all of her own promotion. I know this is a really common thing. Book publishers talk about it all the time that the budget for promoting books, it’s reserved for the Stephen Kings of the world. But I got me thinking that’s actually true of everything in our business. Nobody is promoting. Not just the book, but nobody is promoting our services. Nobody is promoting us as podcast guests or us as speakers at events or us as workshop creators or any of the things that we can and do. Do we have to promote it all?

And so just being very aware of the fact that the myth of the better mouse trap, if you make the better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door is not true. Nobody cares if you have a better mousetrap unless they can see the better mouse trap out there in the world and it’s on us to make that happen. So just a nice takeaway from that, or a nice reminder that we need to be promoting ourselves constantly in order to grow.

Kira Hug:  And I did feel a little jealous when Kristin mentioned she’s going to move to France soon. I just felt it was in me. It was pouring out of me all the jealousy because that sounds amazing and very exciting. And so I really respect and admire how Kristin has built her lifestyle and has really made, she didn’t say this but has made some rules for herself or a deal with herself about no matter what, I’m going to be able to work remotely and no matter what, I’m going to do this and this and this. And I think Kristin just knows herself really well and has built a business around her life better than most. And so I think it’s inspiring to see someone do that.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I agree. I also liked just the entire discussion that we had around the team that she has and the approach that she has to her team. Obviously, she’s been doing it for a while. So she’s built up a process around it. She’s using tools to help manage her team, but she’s very deliberate, especially when setting prices for her projects, knowing exactly what her contractors are going to do, how much they’re going to be expected to put in time wise, what that translates to as far as charging the client, how she might have to charge more for it.

All of that stuff is set up and I’d love to see some of those templates in her business personally, just to see how she’s doing it. But I think that that deliberate approach is what you have to do if you’re really going to make subcontractors work long term, you can’t just think, “Oh, I’ll bring in somebody to help. What do you charge me for this? How do I charge”? You need to be deliberate. You need to be very specific in how it all comes together. And if you do, you can be very successful with the team.

Kira Hug: And I also appreciated that you two talked about the highly sensitive entrepreneur and that Rob, you mentioned it.

Rob Marsh:  I did.

Kira Hug:  That made me very happy that you stood up and represented the highly sensitive writers in the group. So thank you. And I thought it was an interesting point about how she was working on a couple of projects at a time that were just tougher projects about, I think one was animal cruelty and working with therapists and really putting herself in the mind of a prospect that is going through some type of struggle and how that was impacting Kristin. And I think it’s something that we don’t talk about enough as copywriters, but how the projects we take can affect how we’re feeling in our mindset and our state of mind and how that’s a real struggle that we just have to be aware of and pay attention to it because it may be something that we can correct on our own if we’re paying attention to it.

Rob Marsh:  And I really admire people who bring that level of empathy to the work of copywriting, because it is a superpower to be able to understand what a client is feeling or what their customers are feeling and get into those shoes. It makes you a better copywriter. So I’ve never necessarily claimed that’s a massive part of my skillset, but the more we can develop that, putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, the better our copy will be, the more what we write will resonate.

Kira Hug:  Well, my last comment is that Kristin said that she’s thinking ahead, she might sell the company or scale it, and she’s excited to scale it and grow it without breaking herself. And I think I like that balance of thinking really big, being ambitious, dreaming big, but also doing it without actually breaking herself and making it a painful process that it doesn’t have to be that way. And I think Kristin, from this whole conversation, that’s what I take away is that you can control the experience and you don’t have to make building a business painful and you can make it give back to you. And I think Kristin’s just a great example of that.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. I think understanding what growth or scale means for you as a business owner, me as a business owner, is important. And once you have that defined, then you can build the business that you want.

Kira Hug:  We want to thank Kristin for joining us on the podcast today. If you want to connect with her, you can find her at KMLcollective.com, which will link to in the show notes and be sure to check out her book. I know I’m going to check out her book. Will Travel for Vegan Food, available on Amazon or from your local bookseller. If you want to listen to more episodes like this one check out episode 305, the one of our most recent episodes with Topaz Hooper, all about veganism and sustainable copywriting or episode 81 with Mike Saul or episode 137 with Austin Mullins about sales and copywriting.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, those last two episodes are really good. 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 Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcasts and leave your four or five-star review of the show.

Kira Hug:  And if you want to find out more about the Copywriter Underground, our private membership we mentioned earlier, you can jump in there. You can jump in there this week for $17 for your first month and test it out for yourself. Jump into an accountability group. You can get your copy critiqued by Rob and build your business, pulling from the trainings in that membership. Thanks for listening. And we’ll see you next week.

 

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