Allison Evelyn Gower is our guest for the 172nd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. We asked Allison about her experience creating her first program, what inspired her to move fast, and how she got scrappy to fill it. She offers plenty of learning and advice to anyone who is thinking of creating a program or course. Here’s the outline of what we covered during this interview:
• what inspired her transition from film production to copywriting
• how she learned to be “scrappy” as a production assistant
• how Allison landed her first few clients
• what’s happened in her business since she launched—lots of changes
• the process she went through to find her niche
• the 3 things that have been the biggest game changers for her business
• how she pulls brand personality out of her clients
• the answers Rob and Kira gave to one of Allison’s on-boarding questions
• how to get feedback from clients on the words that describe you
• secrets for identifying the language that shows off your personality
• how you project your personality into the world
• what she did when she launched her day-rate package
• why she decided to launch a group program—and how Kira lit a fire under her
• how Allison mapped out her program and created her content
• what she did to fill her first program—an idea she stole from Tarzan Kay
• the things she’s doing differently as she relaunches the course
• how to run a business while moving across the country
If your copywriting business could be scrappier or you’re looking for some launch inspiration for your first product, you won’t want to miss this interview. Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript. Better still, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher so you never miss an episode.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Joe Nefziger
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Brand with Bite Podcast
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kira: This episode is brought to you by The Copywriter Club In Real Life, our live event in San Diego, March 12th through the 14th. Get your tickets now at thecopywriterclub.com/tccirl.
Rob: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for episode 172 as we chat with copywriter and product creator Allison Gower about how she became a copywriter, her first big solo product launch. How she’s changed the work she does over time, launching a podcast and running a business while moving across the country. Welcome Allison.
Allison: Hey mates. How’s it going?
Kira: Good. It’s always good with you. It’s always good. So we’re so excited to have you here to talk more about your story. Let’s kick it off with how you became a copywriter.
Allison: Oh my life, in a summary. Yes, let’s go. So the long story short, I was always making up ads and writing as a kid and doing all these things that had no idea what actually does something later in life. Right? Like I think a lot of us, copywriters and people in brand, we look back as kids and are like, ‘Oh yeah.’
Rob: We don’t normally interrupt you in the story. But ads as a kid, what were you writing ads of?
Allison: Me and my best friend, elementary school, we came up with this candy bar and we called it a nitwit bar and we created the packaging. We actually made a barn, created the design and then we created commercials for it. And then we had a school project where honestly, you didn’t really have to do very much but we went real hard and then create a commercial and performed it. So we would do stuff like that all the time for fun. And yet it took me another two decades to figure out what I wanted to do. Which is kind of funny, because it should have been obvious. So doing stuff like that. Majored in English, minored marketing, was working in production. So it sounds glamorous to say we had headsets and we’re in LA working on shoots and all the things.
But what I discovered was even though there was a lot I loved about the production world, commercials and photo shoots and all the things I always felt this jealousy almost of the agencies we worked with, because then I would partner with them, it would be story-boarding and saying, ‘Oh here are the words, this is what the brand should be.’ And then we would take our stuff and go make the commercial happen. I always felt like, ‘Oh the fun part was in the room that we just left.’ And I think sometimes a little bit of… We feel that envy or sadness like, ‘That show is what we’re supposed to be doing.’ It was one of the gents who would be in the story boarding sessions who were on a shoot one day. And I saw him taking notes and I didn’t know his exact role. Right? I just knew he was in those rooms, in the storyboard meetings.
I asked him, ‘Joe, what do you do? What’s your actual specific title?’ And he said, ‘I’m a copywriter.’ And I said, ‘I’m going to change my life.’ Because I asked them what that meant specifically in his role and from there on I basically stalked him a little bit. ‘Mike, let me get coffee with you, check his first workshop.’ And I spent eight months, while still working in production, getting up at 3:00 AM for sunrise shoots, running around, getting Perrier for clients, real wild times. Y’all real wild times. Every weekend, everyday after work, learning everything I could about copywriting on YouTube and podcasts and got my first freelance gigs. My first one was off Craigslist. Yes. Seems janky but totally was legit. And then went freelance after eight months, turned it into a business. And Rob and Kira, here we are. Here’s life.
Rob: Yeah. Before we get to today’s life, I want to jump back just a little bit to those first couple of projects. I’m guessing that a lot of people listening, struggling to find their first clients or they found the first one or two but then they struggled to do more. So back about how you found that first client, what was it that you did in order to get that janky, almost changing client, but then how did you turn that into client number two and client number three?
Allison: Oh y’all, it was super strategic, as in really scrappy. So not fancy at all. My first client I found on Craigslist and because I started interviewing copywriters, I was very lucky to be in this production world where I was meeting with copywriters and I would just ask them on the side, ‘By the way, how did you get your clients?’ I would question, I would take notes on everything that they said. So basically like your podcast before, I think your podcast existed. So going around and finding and hunting these people down and someone said, ‘It sounds weird, but go on Craigslist.’ So I figured, what do I have to lose? So on Craigslist there was a lot of things that your gut goes off, your gut knows, ‘Okay, that’s a weird sketchy situation.’ So I just went through every day until I found one that I felt I could actually be a fit for.
Did it feel natural? Absolutely not. Because if you’ve never charged for your own writing before, you don’t really know what you’re doing, what pay you’re supposed to expect and all these things. But it was for a blog and it was about my neighborhood where I already lived and they wanted someone local to put out blogs and posts and they were charging by the word and I went, ‘Okay.’ I was Googling, ‘Do you charge by the word?’ Right? Looking at the things and figured this is something I could do.
I wrote an email where I sounded like I already knew what I was doing. I’m not going to lie. Full on, ‘This is why you should hire me. I’m going to crush this for you. Here’s all the reasons.’ Went through all the things, was a very confident email, even though I did not feel super confident, and got that. My second client y’all, this is so scrappy. I was dating someone for just a couple of weeks and he had a friend community for pizza with a group hang situation. And I just was starting to say I was a writer. I was just saying it to people. Like, ‘Oh what do you do?’ ‘I work in production, I’m a writer on the side. I write.’
I just kept saying it because I figured if I kept saying it I would feel more and more it was true, because I knew I could write. It was just, I hadn’t been paid much for it before. And his friend turned out, worked at an agency and said, ‘Oh we need freelance writers all the time.’ And he got me my second gig, this random friend. So the lesson I suppose in this is sometimes it really is just speaking up all the time about what you do, because I only had literally one client, but I spoke like I was doing more with confidence, because I knew I could do it if I got the chance. I knew I could, I just needed someone to take a chance on me.
Kira: Yeah. It’s almost like speaking to where you want to go. Speaking about like your future title. I mean even though you’d already had your first project, you were really forecasting the direction you wanted to take your career and you weren’t shy in a way from saying that. So it started to come to you and worked out that way. So who is the original, the copywriter guy that you originally asked? ‘Hey, what do you do on set?’ ‘Have you kept track of him?’
Allison: Yeah, I went to his house warming party actually a couple of years later, because I moved and it turned out the house that him and his wife bought was down the street from my apartment. So it was funny. Yeah, I still saw him. Now he’s doing… His name is Joseph Nefzinger. Joe, what’s up? He’s actually down to another business now where he has the standup desk company, which is interesting that he was as a copywriter always… He sat a lot. So I remember the first time I saw his office, he had put together a standup desk, he was making his own. And now years later he’s selling them and they’re doing great. So it’s interesting how copywriting can spark these other businesses for people.
Kira: We’ll need to get a hookup and get him on the show to share his part of that story and his journey too, to connect this all full circle. So I want to go back to production time because I had friends in New York city who like were in production. They worked crazy hours and I was always wondering how do they do it. So I know it’s intense and it’s shaped probably you know who you are. What are some lessons you pulled away from that time in production that have helped you build your business today?
Allison: Oh, sweet mercy, Kira. Yes. I have some really exact definitions that I really want to infuse into you the listener, so you don’t have to do four or five days shoots that are really long morning till night days. No, I love production. It’s definitely really high energy and intense. But the lessons I took away in between the Red bulls, I’m not really a Red Bull drinker, but that’s an honest part of the answer. On those days there’s definitely a cooler full of ice and Red Bulls and coffee, Starbucks, espresso double shots and they get pounded hard. So a few of my main lessons are one, the worst someone can say is no. It’s the worst possible thing that can happen. So production, that made me fearless because I’m definitely not fearless, but it took down a lot of fear that I think a lot of people when we start a business have. The fear to ask someone for advice or to book the call, all the things. Because I had to do so much weird crap and ask for the most outrageous things and it just sort of numbed me in a way.
So here’s an example. We had this shoot and we needed a model train set. I was all prop base shoot, but because of the budget we really couldn’t afford to get this custom antique, this beautiful train set, the client wanted, right? They’re very expensive. And so the urge for me was, ‘Okay, Allison go and get this and try and spend zero dollars.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, how do I get this really high end train set for someone to give it to us, for a couple days for free?’
Second part, each caboose needs to be these colors and the front and back end specifically need to be these colors. There were specifications and exactly what the train had to look like. So I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m on Craigslist, I’m on Epay, I’m calling collectors, right? All these things.’ And also if you’re a train collector, how willing are you to give up this train collection you love, even for a few days or for a cheap rental fee.
So I had to really also think outside the box often because I’d be in situations like this going, ‘Okay, I have to make this happen.’ And remember we were a really small team. So it’s not like you could ask for tons of support from the people around you because everyone was hauling butt to do their own task. So you really have to figure it out, a lot for yourself and we were a team, but you definitely try not to burden your friends and your colleagues. So I realized, ‘Okay, well there’s a museum with trains in nearby where I work.’ And I pitched them and put it as, ‘Oh we’ll feature your museum to do all these things.’ I just said it was really confidence like, ‘Oh of course you would let us use them. It’s not a big deal.’ Tried to make it sound nonchalant instead of a begging, ‘Oh my gosh, please let us.’ And Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it. They actually let us use the train set.
It turned out the company we were working with was a funder of the arts and supported them. So it was this beautiful first full circle and when I went down there were champagne to say extra thank you. They actually gave us a second set of trains as a backup to use. And so I think also champagne, oftentimes it’s the little things that actually make a big difference. That’s something I’ve really taken away because maybe someone’s lending you something for free or they’re letting you film in front of their house, even though it’s definitely really annoying, you bringing them a sandwich and having little things in your business like thank you emails or handwritten cards, these little pieces, that’s what people remember. And so even if you feel like you were this huge burden, people remember that small thing you did. So to work those little moments into your business is huge.
Rob: Let’s talk about where your business is today. Going from production to those first clients on the side, then you went full time and how has your business evolved since then?
Allison: The business has evolved massively. The first few years I was really in a freelance mindset and I think freelance is a word, there’s a lot of controversy on the internet about have positive connotation and negative connotation. For me, I think it’s more freelancer. It felt like it had a different meaning for me. So when I was on the run and people were saying, ‘Oh, you’re a freelancer.’ I was getting thrown more small hourly projects or even flat rates, but things where I would always end up over delivering and spending so much time that I don’t even want to really calculate what my hourly rate ended up being.
So I think the first few years were… It was still powerful, right? Because I’m sure if you’re listening, if you’re new or if you’ve been in the game longer, at the start you don’t know exactly what you want to do. And so by doing all these tiny little projects across tons of industries, from blogs to websites, and then I accidentally started doing PR and pretty quick was like, ‘Why am I doing PR? This is stressing me out so much.’ Even though I was getting placements on NPR and ABC, just again really scrappy, I was just treating up people and creeping basically. So I got placements, that they agreed to on a stock way. But I think it helped me figure out, ‘Oh, this is my actual niche.’ So once I realized, ‘Oh, people are hiring me, the favorite clients.’ I realized why they were hiring me and that helped me go from freelancer to really focusing and becoming more of a business owner.
The way I found that out for anyone who has not done this yet, Oh, I urge you to do this and or once you get those dream clients, once I had clients who felt like such a perfect fit, I could work on them all day every day. It was such a… I loved getting their emails and their names pop up. I asked if I could take 15 minutes of their time and called them and ask them questions. Why did you hire me? What did you love about working with me? And that can feel super scary because you’re like, ‘What if all this negative feedback unleashes on me like a tidal wave?’ But it just ended up actually proving and showing myself what I was supposed to do and I turned out, I did not know. Because, every single favorite client had a response that really shocked me. Every client said, ‘Oh I love that you gave my personality. I finally sat down to earth and sassy but still expert. I went, ‘That’s just the fun part.’ In my mind that was this little side.
Because it was too fun for me. If it’s so fun, how could this be a niche and y’all, that’s what it turns out. So now my niche is literally unleashing personality, especially for brands that want to sound more witty and down to earth and often sassy. Okay, so really like niching down, figuring out your specialty has helped you greatly. What else has been, I mean a ‘game changer’ in your business? What has helped you take it to the next level or maybe there are a couple of factors. Yeah, a couple of factors that are super clear. One, for me was joining a coworking space because I’ve worked in a couple now. So yes, I moved to New York city first thing on the list. Well, okay, number three.
The first thing was to get a library card, but then to join a coworking space. Just for me, I know it’s not for everyone, but it really helps me separate work life and has this legitimate feel to it. When I go into my office, it makes me feel like more of a business owner versus being at home. Again, I totally know copywriters that are not into that. I’m also very extroverted. So sitting at home alone is-
Kira: Sounds great.
Allison: It actually kills my soul. It’s like if I was made of horcruxes it would take out three of them. Harry Potter reference. So for me, getting a coworking space really helped me feel more legitimate. So it’s something I totally recommend trying just to see how you feel if you’ve been thinking about it. Because even if it’s an investment, I definitely made that money back because I think it’s like I worked almost faster, more motivated when I was in office. And then two, absolutely was finally investing in a couple of things. One was a brand, a designer actually getting fancier photos done and a logo, like Rob, Kira, when I saw my logo, I mean we still have months to go in the branding process, but even just that when I saw a logo it was such a quick of, ‘Wow, I think this is a business, damn’ It really changed how I saw myself.
That process definitely was really powerful. And then rewriting my website because they actually put aside time and really get into, okay now I know who I am to spend time writing the copy because as copywriters we tend to do everybody else’s and we’re like always writing, writing, writing. So by the time we get to 4:00 PM and we’re two coffees deep and it just doesn’t happen. So I set aside days where I really actually went through, okay, what I want my site to look like and wrote through it from this really intentional point of view versus before I was just burnt out right in between clients.
So tired out and finally coaching absolutely 100%, actually investing and beyond courses because I had done courses and courses are great and they’re definitely really important. But I think also someone who you can ask questions to, even if it’s just in a group setting, Q and A, having a coach who would say things like, ‘Allison, that’s a great idea.’ Sometimes just validating because you know how it is, Rob and Kira. Especially if you do this for a couple of years when you’re your own boss, it’s great but there’s also no one above you to help give you feedback and confirm and validate you.
So having that coaching absolutely valuable. So my first one, I invested in was with Tarzan Kay. I did her mastermind and then Laura Belgray, I was in her shrimp club and of course Rob and Kira and now Think Tank. So it’s also like a never ending process, the more I get coached, the more I’m like, ‘Coach me more.’ So definitely game change and no, they did not ask me to say that. But it’s true y’all. I am Think Tank and it’s a fact and it’s great.
Rob: It’s very nice of you to say that. You were talking about how you chose your niche and I am curious what your process is for helping clients figure out their personality and how to broadcast that to the world. What are the steps that you have to go through in order to pull something like that out of a client like me?
Allison: Pulling up brand personality is so fun and a lot easier than people expect. I think, especially as copywriters, so a lot of my students actually are copywriters and I think what’s the hardest part is when we’re in this copy and brand space, we’re always doing it for others. So the most important thing is first of all is literally to block out time to do yours because it’s just so easy to get wrapped up and our clients because we care, we’re passionate, we want to do a great job, but it does take time. You can’t go inward and figure out who you are if your email alert is popping up every five minutes for your client. So setting aside at least a day or a few days to start where you’re like, ‘Okay, these days I’m not going to do client work. Even it’s just for three, four hours.’ And I’m going to literally go in me mode.
Now when it comes to pulling out personality, there’s a couple things I love to do. These are super specific strategies you could do as soon as today. And they’re objective, because it’s really hard to look at yourself and go, ‘What’s my personality?’ So these are objective research methods. Okay, so one, this is a question that I ask people on my podcast and there’s a reason. I ask people if you were a clothing brand or a designer, who would you be? What’s your favorite brand or brand you like?’ Even just a simple as that, like what’s your favorite clothing brand? Because-
Kira: Wait, Rob what did you say on the podcast?
Rob: I’m not sure I… Did I answer this question? I probably would have been like Chuck Taylor’s converse because that’s kind of the thing that I wear. Actually, I said I don’t actually buy my own clothes. I have no idea. Because I hate shopping, so my wife always just buys me stuff.
Allison: And that it’s funny okay, that’s part of the… Right? That you’re simple, Chuck Taylor’s even that says a lot about you that you like simple, straightforward and you work with SaaS companies and you kind of have this very targeted brand. Like, ‘I help SaaS get more money, boom.’ It’s straightforward like your brand is and your writing style is very crisp to the point. It’s not fancy. It’s not showy. It’s not Betsy Johnson, which I’d be more surprised if you wore Betsy Johnson.
Rob: Yes. See, I didn’t even know who Betsy Johnson is. But now I’m curious. Kira, what did you say? What would you answer?
Kira: Betsy Johnson. No, I said Tori Burch, Trina Turk. It’s more like patterns, prints, modern vibe. Bit more personality.
Rob: Yeah. I’m personality free-
Allison: Absolutely not. It’s just different-
Kira: We go Turks have personality. Your shoes definitely have personality. Your socks have personality too.
Rob: Yeah, that’s true. Although it’s not really a brand, it’s just whatever.
Kira: [inaudible 00:24:22].
Allison: But Rob, that’s also that you have that personality, when you have the wild socks, it’s just a little bit hidden. It’s underneath pants.
Allison: And I thought that is kind of like your brand too, because it’s more straightforward. But then Rob, we get to know you, we get you on the… You’re on your podcast and you’re like, ‘Ooh, this Rob guy’s funny.’ It’s like you bring it out subtly.
Kira: And then he’s even funnier in person where you’re like, he’s cracking jokes left and right. But he hides it sometimes.
Rob: All right. Enough about Rob. More about Allison.
Allison: We’re targeting you. Mine for example, I’m Kate Spade, 150%.
Kira: Oh yeah, okay.
Allison: Kate Spade is me in a store. I walk into Kate spade and my soul is home. So what I would do, for example, and I’ve done this, is go to the Kate Spade website and read through. So looking at the product descriptions, looking how they describe things, look at their about page and start looking at the phrases and studying the phrases I like. And even just having a document and copying and pasting those snippets. And I am telling you I read that website and hell yeah, it’s freaking me. I love the way they describe sassy chic yet polished, quirky yeah dah dah dah. It’s all things I totally relate to. So when I have my students do this, they have the same thing.
I’ve had people who are anthropology, REI, Patagonia. And when you go through that website and start to see, ‘Oh I relate to that copy.’ It totally starts to get you outside your own head and even just starts to give you phrases that describe you. And then on top of that, I mentioned before, going to your past clients and asking about why they choose to work with you, I always add another question, ‘If you had to describe me in three to five words, what would they be?’ It has to be three to five. If they give you nine, you go, ‘No, three to five.’ Because nine words is just a general list of attributes. But when they have to really cut it down to four words, that’s really the core of what people see in you.
You’ll be surprised how often other people’s… All your client’s words will actually be very similar or they’ll have at least a couple of common denominators. So then when you’re writing your personality, it really helps to guide you. So if you’re getting words like, Zen, calm, chill, you’re like, ‘Okay, I need to look up synonyms for that. I need a calm theme. Maybe I can talk about massages.’ Or if you get words like quirky, sassy, zesty. Zesty was my number one word. Yes, it was my number one word. I’m like, ‘Okay.’
Rob: Clients said you were zesty?
Allison: Yes, it’s what I-
Rob: It’s awesome.
Allison: You know what though? Actually important. Give your clients a list of adjectives. Don’t just ask them from nothing because you don’t want, ‘Oh, she’s smart. Oh, he’s so awesome.’ That’s not helpful. So a list of really specific like describe happier, joyful, but give them five synonyms because the nuances say so much about who you are. So I gave tons of words, my top three words, zesty, savvy, like business savvy. And then three was sassy. Guys, and I was like, ‘Why am I getting all these food words? Zesty, I’m lemon zest and then I’m sass.’
But then I really got quiet again. I put aside a day and really went deep on, ‘Okay, what are these words really say about me?’ And it was like, ‘Oh, because I add flavor to your copy. Okay, now it makes sense. I spice up words. Okay, that’s my purpose.’ So for you listening, when you ask this really takes some time to look at the words that connect and go, ‘Oh this is what people see in me.’ And it’s so helpful for how you write about yourself absolutely.
Kira: Where have you seen you’re clients or even other copywriters kind of mess this whole personality-driven copy thing up? Where did they go wrong?
Allison: Oh, sweet mercy. So this is something that actually Rob, when he was on my podcast he talked about and personality does not mean all was humor or going, ‘Hey girl.’ I mean I’ve had people, I’ve worked with or students who said I want to sound more like me, but they all have this fear. I can tell when people are about to ask this question every time I go, ‘Don’t worry. Personality is not yo girl, what’s up cutie?’ Saying two words as an exclamation point is not that some sort of greeting, is not personality. That’s not what personality is, and that’s what I often have seen when people are trying to add it, personality is really going, ‘Okay. When you’re on the couch with a friend and you’re eating snacks and you’re just being yourself, how do you sound? What’s your vibe?’
To me, that’s a personality is. So it’s really getting back to who you are, even if it’s not what you see online. So for a long time I tried to write more formal and I didn’t want to say formal, but almost like tech savvy, because I’m from the world of Silicon Valley. My family, my dad is a coder. And to me that was being a serious business owner. Right? That’s what business was. So stemming just releasing what you think anything that you’re supposed to sound like, including humor. You don’t have to be sassy like me, my copy is funny and it’s kind of ridiculous, right? It is. It’s ridiculous. But that’s not… Yours might be something totally different. Like the Zen chill.
Maybe you have yoga teacher vibes and because you’re a yoga teacher or you target health and wellness, so they don’t necessarily want super sassy. So getting back to who are you on the couch, how do you sound like? And one way to help with that too, to go with your text messages to friends. So not to your clients, not emails, but just how do you text your friends and how can you bring a little bit more of that vibe into your copy?
Rob: So once you have that, how do you help clients then project that into the world? Is it just the choice of words that they have or do you even go deeper with images, colors, that kind of stuff?
Allison: Oh, it goes so much deeper. I think before colors, before images. To me that is really, really the last step. It’s yes okay, who am I? But then a couple of different steps. One, what type of business do you actually want? So one thing I’ve said to my students is, ‘Okay, your website is a vision board for the business you want, not the business you have.’ So when you’re going to write your website or write your emails or anything really, but especially with your website you know what is it you want to be in a year or two because that’s what you want to write too. You want to write the words that create that. So what’s the type of business you have that’s also going to fit for your personality?
So for example, I’m an extrovert and spending all this time behind the screen was starting to affect me, honestly. I was feeling the more anxious, I felt like my mental health was not going down because being behind a screen all day alone, it’s just not meant for my personality type. And so my business models, I thought about, ‘Okay, what’s the type of business I want to have?’ I was like, I really want to interact with people and other humans. That’s why I started doing day rates. Now I have a group program. I knew I could not be so behind a screen alone. So when it comes to your personality and writing about it, where do you want to be?
And now with no ifs, buts, maybes. But I would write through this, even if you’ve done this before, I would check back in and go, ‘Really in two years, what would I love to be doing based on what makes me happy and lights me up and want brings in money?’ Because I think it’s easy for us to go, ‘Oh, but I have clients paying me to write sales pages.’ What is it you would love to be doing? And then once you get more clear on what the business model is and where you want to be working towards, because that’s going to influence your words, right? If you talk about, ‘I’m an extroverted copywriter on your website, there’s got to be kind of a reason.’
So for me, I talk about it because I love day rates and I love working live with people, so that makes sense. But I would make sure to do the right research to speak to your target market because a big mistake I see is we’re often as copywriters, so focused on doing other people’s work that we throw up our own side a little bit more and we don’t do research for ourselves. So here’s one of my favorite strategies. I highly recommend as you’re like, ‘This is my personality. Okay. In a year to two years, this is what I want to work towards, this type of business.’ Think about that type of ideal client you probably want to have. Go to YouTube and think about, ‘Okay, this is the problem I want to solve.’
So maybe right now you’re writing blogs, but you want to be a launch copywriter. You’re like, ‘Oh, I really would love to work on launches and emails and sales pages.’ I would go to YouTube and type in, ‘Okay, how to write a sales page, how to write a to write launch copy.’ Think about what your target person might be researching. Click enter, right? See what the first few videos are. Then click the first two videos and scroll down. The topic actually does not matter. The content doesn’t matter. The video doesn’t matter. I mean, that’d be helpful, but not the point of the exercise.
I start reading through the comments because those comments are gold mind of copy. If you have people commenting, people when they comment on YouTube, they don’t really think anyone’s watching, so when they write, it’s from a truly honest place and when they’re writing from honesty, they’re sharing their real vulnerable pain points. So if someone was like, ‘Ah, this is so helpful, but I still don’t know how to write a subject line. Boom, this is copy and research.’ You can start infusing into your website, into your emails, into your social media copy of projecting to that audience. So you’re sharing your personality, whether it’s Zen or funny or whatever. But you also have to combine personality with persuasion and audience research. So back to that example where you’re going, ‘Okay, have you done all this research but still know how to come with the subject line?’ Great, here’s my freebie, duh duh duh.
So making sure you still do the client research for yourself is so important because it’s so often gets left behind, especially for copywriters, ironically.
Kira: Yeah, that’s such a great idea about using YouTube to pull those comments. I’ve done Amazon and gone through forums and Facebook groups, but I haven’t really scoured YouTube to pull that data. That’s a great tip. So Allison, you hinted at your group program. I want to hear more about that. So what was the catalyst even for creating, launching a group program, other than being an extrovert, right? Like that definitely satisfies that need, but what else? What else shaped that program? And then I’d love to just also hear about your launch, what it took to actually launch and fill your own program.
Allison: Oh yes, titillating question Kira. So my group program, the first step was my day rates, so I’ll definitely touch on those two because it’s the journey. And I know a lot of copywriters, I think their words are coming up more, but they can be a scary leap. So for day rates I started them because I was getting all these different queries like, ‘Oh, I have this website. I really want to work with you.’ But it’s already kind of written. Can you just review it or just do some of it… All these piecemeal sort of projects where they didn’t need a totally from scratch brand writing situation. But I still wanted to work with them and help them. And then I had done the mastermind with Tarzan and pay rates were a big thing for her. It was how she was working with most of her clients.
So I had talked to her about it and she was like, ‘Just do it. Just go for it. Try one, see how it goes.’ So I had just put up a day rate page and was like, ‘This is my day rate, this is how it works. Here’s how it goes down.’ I had a full map of how the day looked. This page, it looked all official and y’all, again, I had never actually done one before, but I had this feeling I knew I could do it. So I would put up a page that looked legit. And then the first person who we did a session, I started the price a lot lower because my main goal was just to get a feel for it, see how they went and go from there. And I wanted to feel confident selling it. Not, put a higher price point, because I knew I wouldn’t feel confident selling it. I wanted to make sure I could over-deliver.
So, I told her how it worked. Okay, I’m going to give you homework and then we’re going to get on the zoom call. We’re going to kick it off. Then I’m going to write the words and then present it to you. Because, I write live in that day. That’s how my day rate works. We do a zoom call, write the words, and then it ends on a zoom call where we review the copy and we do live edits. We did the first day rate and I loved it. I love the energy, I love the fast paceness of it. And so I kept offering more and more and every few months I would raise the price and I still do that. The price about to go up, I just continually raise it as there’s more leads for it.
My time now with the group program especially takes up more of the schedule. But where it really led to the group program was I found that one, the price was going up. So there was people who I wanted to serve, but I knew wouldn’t necessarily be able to do the day rate or wouldn’t feel comfortable. But also more importantly I felt like I was really speaking the same strategies, tips, all the things again and again. So I’d have one to two day rates a week and I felt like I just want to gather you all up and tell you the same formulas because most people think personality is a formula and really with the right research and steps, to me it’s a science. In my head it’s this a plus b equals boom, look, you sound fun.
I just kept doing this so often that it really sparked, ‘Why don’t you do a group program?’ Especially as I’d been in several at that point and I knew the power of group programs and I really, really believed in them and I thought if I believe in them so much and I see that this probably keeps happening and I know I can teach it, why am I not doing it? The answer, let’s be real was fear, right? I’ve always been the student, I love being a student. Yeah, it was fear of becoming the teacher and stepping into that role. And so Kira, let’s be real, Kira I had a lot of inspiration from it my previous teachers and then we were at in Charleston, we’d been masterminding all day and we’re at this bar.
I think I was sipping in gin and tonic and I’m like, ‘Yeah I mean, I’ve run this idea by a few people and they’ve cheered me on and I know I’m supposed to do it, but people believe in me.’ Tarzan Kay is like, ‘Do it.’ Laura Belgray said, ‘Do it.’ Rob and Kira are like, ‘Do it.’ But there’s still like the stuckness of it I think. How do I actually… And even just revealing it, right?
I was so scared and I’m telling this to a group and Kira, you lean over and you just point in my face, ‘Allison, you could launch this tomorrow and it would fill up. You need to launch ASAP.’ Because I had said, ‘Maybe next year.’ And Kira is like, ‘No, absolutely not. You need to do this right now. When are you going to set a date?’ All the feelings. Oh my gosh, my stomach flipped, I was at a Disneyland roller coaster situation? And you’re like, ‘I want a date right now.’
Kira: Okay. I don’t think I found it that angry.
Kira: Maybe I did. Had a couple of drinks, so maybe I was that angry, I don’t know.
Allison: No, I wasn’t angry. It was just direct. Right? You were just like, ‘When are you going to set a date?’ And I think in my head it was louder, honestly. To me that was such a scary question. And you’re right, you’re like, ‘What’s your date?’ But it was just so right. You were not letting me get away, which I loved. And I was like, ‘By October.’ And you’re like, ‘Excellent.’ And it worked, because I think that’s also oftentimes, especially with copywriters, we keep so much inward because we’re so focused on helping others launch and write about their services, which is beautiful. But we sort of stuff our own stuff down because we’re used to writing for other people. And along the way we become, not therapists, but there’s a lot of business therapy when we copyright for people. Right? Encouraging others.
So sharing our own goals and dreams. It’s very scary to start with. So yeah, after that and after I’d said it, I felt like I was accountable. I was like, ‘Oh shoot. I said I’m not doing this by October.’ Okay. After that it was already, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it. It’s going to happen.’ And as with everything I realize now that I keep telling you about my business, one of the first people I told about this program, I just told her it was happening. I just said it, I had this group program, it’s going to be coming out because she came to me and I could already tell she was this perfect fit. I told her about my day rates, but I could see she would really benefit from a group program where she actually had time to go through her own process. So you got her message, hold her personality, learn all these strategies, go through the YouTube, do the process herself.
I saw that for her. So literally on the call, Rob and Kira, ‘I should tell her this, actually, I should tell her. I’m going to email her.’ I said, ‘Oh, I had this group program. It’s coming up in the next month and here’s how it works and I think you’d be a perfect fit.’ And she goes, ‘Oh actually I think your group program would be perfect.’ She’s like, ‘Put me on your wait list.’ And that’s how it started. And then I marketed it and apparently it worked.
Rob: So let’s get a little deeper on that process of you have the idea, you have Kira there, cheerleading you saying, ‘You’ve got to get it done.’ And setting the date, which is awesome, but it’s still an idea and then you sold it to a customer or a client. But at that point it’s still an idea. So what was the process of actually creating the program? Did you sell it and then create it on the fly as you went? Did you map it all out? What did that whole process look like?
Yeah, happy to map out exactly what I did. So it was kind of a combination. It was partially mapped and partially on the fly because for you listening anytime you launch a new thing or you decide to go group, you know way more than you think you know. Because as soon as I actually had that date in mind and started to think, ‘Okay, I would want to teach people this and that and lead them through these processes.’ I realized I actually kind of had that map in my head already of, ‘Oh I would need to… I want to help them write the about page and I want to help them write the home, but first I would need to do that time digging into the brand, doing the research.’ So I went, ‘Okay that’s module one, boom.’ And then module two, okay. People really trip up on their about page. They get really, really… It’s so hard for most people, because to summarize yourself, whether you’ve been doing this for six months or 20 years is really challenging for your own self.
So I definitely want to make home and about the first focuses and spend lots of time there. Okay. What next? There are services they offer. A lot of people, once I work with them, I know they tend to change their services because they realize once we actually map it out that they’re offered way too many things. That’ll be its own module. And then the fourth part, there’s all these little ad-ons I want people to know about that they often miss like the 404 page, the contact page. There’s all these elements of those pages that are so important. Yet most people think of as a last hurrah. Woo, woo. So I went through that in my head and went, ‘Great. Four weeks, four modules, that’s what it’ll be.’
So I did map it out and kind of walked through what I wanted to talk about in each of them. But I really wanted to focus, I decided I would focus on the marketing first and just getting people in and then creating the content. For two reasons. One, with pre-selling something, you’re really getting to see one, if it works, right? How many people are actually in this? Two, who joins? Because I know for me it definitely influenced how I created the program. When I actually saw who was in it, seeing the type of industries that joined, the personalities that joined and a lot of them, I mean I was on Instagram DM with people. I was DMing back and forth when they were saying, ‘Oh, I’m not sure if I should join. Is this a good fit for me?’
And I would ask what their struggle was. So I gathered all this information. I was able to work it into the program after [inaudible 00:47:35] been sold, and three, I think with the information week-by-week, I honestly did it week-to-week. So I would do the first round and I have a Facebook group and I would encourage people to post questions, share struggles and one that created community. But also it really helped me go to the next module. Because as copywriters, there’s so much we do that we realize once we start teaching, we’re just used to doing. We don’t even see it as a step to teach because we just do it automatically. So people would go, ‘Oh, can you clarify this?’ Or, ‘Oh, when you said that it sparked a thought and I kept having to realize, Oh I need to teach even more granularly.’
So week-by-week, I would teach. Week-by-week I was creating the thing, I’m not going to… I think it looked more fancy put together from the outside. Because I did, we had scheduled dates. I told people here, all the training dates, here’s when each module comes out, here’s when each homework comes out. So it was organized but no, it was definitely made on the fly. If you create something it can be on the fly.
Kira: Yeah, I mean that’s how we… When we built the accelerator, the copywriter accelerator, the first time we built it out module-by-module every two weeks, stripping the new content each every two weeks. And that really helped us move forward with it. So my last question for you about the launch is really around how to fill it, because I think it’s easy to listen and hear you talk about the idea and how you actually created the content. But it’s really intimidating for a lot of copywriters to fill it. They feel like they need a big list, to get enough people in or they don’t feel like they can do that. So they just don’t launch it. How were you able to do it and what advice would you give to a copywriter that wants to launch a beta program of some sort and is nervous about filling it up.
Allison: Well, I am preaching right from this mic to your earbuds listening, because I was nervous, right? I was like, whew. I mean, my nerves were on fire. Like Thanksgiving Turkey on fire, right? Throughout the launch. Especially in the beginning. I knew if I could get at least a few people in one, that would be a star. It’s still a beta. I was like, ‘Even if four or five people are in. Okay, that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be huge. But also that it would give me the confidence.’ So, mentally I wasn’t thinking how do I fill 10,20 spots? It was, how do I just get four humans to put down their visa into this program?
So what I did a couple of things was one, I mentioned the first few people I sold… It wasn’t like this fancy lunch. It wasn’t like all the emails. Yes, that did get some people. I also have a tiny email list, right? It’s not massive at all. I only just reached a thousand people, but I’ve now been running Facebook ads. When I launched, I didn’t even have… I don’t think even had like a few hundred, 500 right? Small.
So I was just like, would be on a sales call with someone who had been referred and instead of presenting the day rate, I would say, ‘Oh, I had this DRA. It cost a lot more money. I also really don’t know if you’re the best fit. I really do think you could benefit from this full brand messaging process, honestly. Here’s my group program. It’s beta.’ And I really emphasized, ‘This is the beta groups. I’m doing it super cheap. It’ll never be this price again and you’re going to get tons on one-on-one time with me in a way that might not exist going forward. And yes, it’s beta, so there’s definitely learning and figuring out and then making on the fly, but you’re going to get this great price.’
So I think if you’re launching the first time, emphasizing beta and really talking about how it’s the lowest price it will ever be, definitely makes a difference. And just pitching it on sales calls. It doesn’t have to be giant webinars. I did not do a webinar. So the first few people were just sales calls that I converted them into the group program instead of choosing a from scratch offer. Second, I emailed people who did not ask about the program, who did not… I did promo. I did promo emails and everything. I did have a launch process, but I just went after people that I felt would be a good fit. Maybe I’d spoken to them six months ago or a year ago or honestly, never even freaking worked with them, truth be told.
I made them videos on BombBomb. So BombBomb is a video platform that I learned from Tarzan, who’s my mentor, now client and she preaches about it a lot, so I have to call her out for it. I would send them these videos where I would tell them why they should do my group program and it was personalized to them. So it would be like, ‘Kira, I hope you’re doing so awesome. Just checking in, because we spoke six months ago. I know we didn’t move forward working together, but you know I actually have a way cheaper way to work with me now. It’s coming up in a couple of weeks. I think you’d be the perfect fit. Here’s why.’
I would send them these videos and it totally worked. A couple people went, ‘You know what, I have one to work in the website. It just wasn’t a good time then. Shoot this the cheapest it’s ever going to be, okay.’ And they accepted the offer. The third thing I did was with emails also on social media. I really encourage people to DM me hit reply, send me messages and I will send you messages back and really talk about if it’s a good fit for you. So most people did not sign up immediately, but they would send a message, share their whole life stories situation. ‘Here’s why I’m not sure if I’m a good fit.’ And I would send an audio back. I think that’s huge.
I did not just type out the responses. I got that microphone, press mic and hold and then use my tonsiless voice to explain why I think they’d be a good fit and talk to them about it. And Rob, Kira, you know what’s really funny, this is the funny part about launching. What converts people sometimes is the stuff you don’t expect. A lot of people message back, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that you could send an audio DM on Instagram. Holy crap on toast. Thank you for letting me know that. I’m going to use that in the future.’ I think because I don’t know, subconsciously because they learned something new from me just in that they figured they could learn something else from me and they joined.
Rob: I love hearing you talk about this because you’re so scrappy about it. But we talk to clients all the time or other copywriters who have launched things and the launch fails and it’s like, ‘Okay, what did you do for the launch?’ ‘Well, I sent out emails to my list.’ Or whatever. But they don’t necessarily get a scrappy as what you have done. And we’ve done some of these things as well, I personalized videos for people that we want to join a program [inaudible 00:55:18] benefit. And so I love hearing you talk about that, so what was the result? How many people did you get in your first launch?
Allison: So I was going to be stoked if I had five, six people as a beta group, right, to test with. I ended it with 16.
Rob: Yes. So awesome. Yeah, that’s great.
Allison: It was wild. And you get more motivated too, because once you realize you can get six people, you realize you can get 10 people, sort of your confidence grows. So for me, projecting small actually mentally helps me, because I have a personality where I like to beat out my goals. So looking too big. Yeah, it’s just a little bit harder for me mentally. I like to always beat those goals. One thing Kira had said too, we had a call before, that was during the launch and she encouraged me to keep going for people in a scrappy way, especially being your first launch. Right? Because, now I’m about to launch it. It’s very different.
But people that had a lot of and pain points, I think old me, a year ago would have gone, ‘Oh no worries. I know it’s not the right time.’ It’s fine. And I would have let them go and hop away like baby bunnies. But I knew my program could help them. I knew my skill set would help them. And so I sent extra videos, dudes, they basically already said no and I sent them… I would send another video. So this is one video. I had met her through live events for a couple of years. She’s like, ‘Oh, my time is so short right now, I’m working on my own launch and I sent her a second video.’ Oh my gosh. So creepy.
I went, ‘Girl, I know you said no, and time is your worry, but I’m going to be honest, you’re actually launching. And so going through this process, it’s going to be the best thing for your launch and I’m going to be there. All of the program has ad-libs templates. I’m seriously spending so much time on them, which I did, right? I spent obsess amounts of time on these templates I’ve paid. It’s going to be so easy for you, I promise. This is like nothing you’ve ever done and it’s going to help with your launch. And I’m only sending you a second video because I feel like you’re not doing it out of fear when it’s really going to help you.’
I sent it and my heart went through my chest and she joined and she’s now one of my testimonials where she literally says, ‘I’m so thankful I joined your program.’ So guys, stalk people, especially when you know it’s a good fit and you know you can help them, you really are helping them by nudging them lovingly along into your services.
Rob: Yeah. I think the key here is that you’re helping them, right? You’re not just doing it to fill your program or to make money, but you’re actually providing value. Right? Okay, so you mentioned that you’re launching again and I think if I’m not mistaken, that’s happening next week. At least if you’re listening to the podcast as it comes out. Tell us what you’re doing differently.
Allison: Yes. So here’s what I’m doing differently, round two. Round two is beautiful y’all. Once you can do something once, you know you could do it again. It’s like the first time someone ever gave you money to write, which growing up we might’ve heard starving artists or starving writer, all this mental stuff that we might’ve heard and we get paid for it and we go, ‘Whoa, I can do it again and again.’ And then we start seeing we can be paid to be writers. The same is true with the group program. Once the first one went through, even though I felt almost ooh, shock paralyzed, ‘Wow, this actually worked.’ I saw the testimonials, I saw people’s business changed, oh my gosh, so many results, I’m still flabbergasted by.
I am doing things. It’s a course format in terms of the recordings because now that I’ve done all the modules, I’ve gotten the feedback and all the things and I’m not doing it step-by-step anymore like before, right? I was making it week-to-week. So now I’m actually pre-recording so it’s going to be on Kajabi, more fancy and legit. The first round was literally on Zoom calls via Facebook group. Right? Because it was about the content, not the prettiness, so this time it will be prerecorded on Kajabi and a few things I’m doing differently though are I saw in the first round what people struggled with a little bit more. So as an side note, jokes, I added a section on how to name your stuff. How to know name for fame? How to come up with names for your products, your packages and your courses?
AI thought, ‘Oh, since we’re talking about these packages on your website, I’ll throw this in.’ Sweet mercy and goldfish y’all. People were like, ‘Oh my gosh, naming is so hard.’ And it became the Facebook group after, almost every conversation was people talking about the framework I discussed on the call and I realized that needs to be a whole other bonus. So if you’re listening, you’re going to have the opportunity is an expiring bonus. That is, I’m really flushing out. So I will touch on naming in the program the way I did the first round, but I’m going to really create a… I’ve created this whole bonus. It’s like really deep on how to do naming because it’s something it turned out people struggled with.
I think whether you’re doing a group program or you’re launching anything or any product, paying attention to that, where do people really get stuck? Where do people go? ‘Wait, wait, I’m still confused. Wait, wait, this is so hard for me.’ And really paying attention to that and creating stuff around it. That’s something I’m doing definitely differently. Also, a lot more is just pre-scheduled. All of the emails, now I have testimonials, so I’m using those to create emails. What’s actually come up though, and I would love everyone to do, this is my challenge to you if you’re listening.
I want you to check back in with people that you’ve worked with, whether one-on-one group, whatever because of launching, again, I checked back in with some of my students and said, ‘Hey, how have things been going since the website?’ It’s been live now for a lot of them. Yeah, about four, five months now. Their websites have been live and oh my gosh, they’re telling me things I would’ve had no idea.
One girl said, ‘Oh I booked this… I got a sales call from a huge name in our industry because literally she read my website.’ Someone else said, ‘Oh, I booked out two times the number of projects I expected as a photographer and people said it was because of my website.’ And so all these things, I had no idea. So my challenge to you is people you’ve worked with even five, six months ago, go back and ask them, ‘Hey, since I wrote that email sequence, how’s it been doing?’ Or, ‘Since I did that sales page, what else has come up for you?’ You might get some crazy results, you have no idea and you can totally use an email content just for your own. Even you have an email list of 50 people. You might send an email where you share that update and someone hires you because of it.
Kira: All right, Allison, last question here. It’s going to be lightning round. We’ve covered so much in this conversation, but I want to cover one other question. So, you have moved across the country this past year while still running your business. How do you move and stay focused on your business and stay sane and healthy while dealing with something so personal as a move and all those changes that circle a move?
Allison: Yes. Oh man. This is where life gets real, right? And I think we see this, people posting in the cooperator club and the underground about these moments where you’re like, ‘I’m surrounded by boxes. It’s midnight. I want to pound my face into this cardboard in front of me because dah, dah, dah.’ And my move actually went shockingly smooth. So I think the main… I had those moments, I’m not going to lie right? Where I’m tired and all the things, and I had projects still going on, but I think a couple things that helped me move and yeah, stay pretty weirdly sane was one, I had already put in the time of my branding. I had put a lot of time when I had more energy to figure out my brand, right? My website, hire the designer, do all these things.
So by the time I was moving, people were booking calls, were booking set day rates. They were booking things without me having to ever actually get on sales calls. I wasn’t getting on all these sales calls going back and forth because they could tell so much about me from my website and especially that’s our perk as copywriters, people could tell a lot from our websites, since they’re paying for us to either teach them or write words for them. So it’s such a beautiful thing when we really feel good about our website that, that’s done. That was done too. I had a VA, who she really has become my online business manager and she had been working with me at that point about six months. Hiring her was definitely a little leap and felt a little bit scary for me at first for sure.
As a copywriter, I’m like, ‘I’m the face of the business.’ Right? When people email, they want to talk to me because I’m the one writing their words. It’s a mental block, I have burned to the ground and having a VA if just even getting one for five, 10 hours a month, I mean even just a small amount, you will be shocked at what it can do in your business and the investment even if it feels scary, it makes such a big difference, especially because she’d already got to know my business. So by the time I was moving, I mean, she was like a little angel who had descended from the clouds into my life because she knew the business.
By the time I moved I could tell her like, ‘Okay, I’m going offline to unpack and get things set up.’ I brought her on for extra hours during that month and she did… She was able to talk with potential clients and students and all the things. So I would hire a VA sooner, now, so when your life falls apart and you have to move, like you’re moving, right? You’re surrounded by boxes and you’re in JFK, oh my gosh, literally trying to juggle like three suitcases that you know that your business is more taken care of. Most importantly, something you can also do right now, whether in a really stressful time or when might happen eventually is simplify your services.
Because at that point I was pretty much only offering day rates. I wasn’t doing a ton of from scratch anymore and I was really thankful. So charging more, having fewer clients and fewer types of services, not doing all the things. It is such a mental relief when you’re going through a really challenging period, especially a move.
Rob: We’ve covered so much great stuff here in this interview and we even have other questions. We didn’t even start to talk about your new podcast. So we’ll definitely have to have you come back at some point and chat about that as well. But in the meantime, if somebody wants to connect with you or if they want to find out about your program that you’re launching shortly, where should they go?
Allison: So you can find me at allisonevelyn.com, Allison Evelyn. The same for my Instagram except there is an underscore after Evelyn because some chic also doubled Allison already has the account. I’m sure she’s super nice and lovely but it ain’t me. That’s how you fin don Instagram. Those are really the places I’m super prevalent. And then there’s also a link. I know we’re going to add in the show notes for my adlibs of… Or I think we’re adding. Okay. Hopefully we’re adding.
Kira: I know.
Allison: How to add personality. It’s also my website and I really encourage this. A lot of copywriters have said they find it really helpful because again it’s to hard to write like ourselves. So that’s something that I think if you’re struggling with personality, how to write like yourself and you just want some formulas, those are helpful. And that way too, you can be aware of my launch because yeah dude, January 30th to February 9th my card is opening with some expiring bonuses and yeah, this program is going to be awesome and even more organized than last time. It’s actually put together, organized and I’m just so excited with these extra students. It’s going to be exciting. And then the podcast is Brand with Bite and that was also launched. It’s been a year but yeah, Brand with Bite the podcast.
Kira: Yep. And Rob has a show, an interview on your podcast. I have one that’s coming out soon. So definitely check it out. Allison, thank you so much and we wish you the best of luck with your upcoming launch.
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript and links to our free Facebook community, visit the copywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.