Copywriter Lauren Hazel is our guest for the 143rd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Lauren is a hustler who has done a lot in her years as a copywriter. She thinks and writes about brand stories, marketing and email. Once we got her in the studio, we asked about…
• how Lauren accidentally became a copywriter
• how she stumbled onto copywriting when she tried to improve a flyer
• the programs she used to learn her skill set
• what she learned about pricing from her first freelance project
• her cold call pitch that failed and what she learned from the failure
• what she did to grow beyond her first couple of clients
• how changing her title brought her more copywriting and marketing work
• how she splits her time between her marketing agency, training and writing
• what she does in her workshops and how much she charges
• how she packages her strategy work
• the things she has done that have made the biggest difference in her business
• the kinds of clients she works with in her business today
• the mistakes she’s made that she won’t make again
• what it was like to work with 50Cent
We also asked Lauren about her program for introverts. To hear what she had to share, click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:CopyHour
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Intro: Content (for now)
Rob: This podcast is sponsored by The Copywriter Underground.
Kira: It’s our new membership designed for you to help you attract more clients and hit 10K a month consistently.
Rob: For more information or to sign up, go to thecopywriterunderground.com.
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 143 as we chat with copywriter and brand strategist Lauren Hazel about building her business, what it means to hustle and how copywriters can do it better, why every copywriter should have an email list and what to send them, and what it’s like to write for a celebrity like 50 Cent.
Hey, Lauren, welcome.
Lauren: Hey, how are you all doing? What’s up?
Kira: Great. Great to have you here and we want to kick this off, I feel like we should kick it off with 50 Cent and just give that away, but we’re going to make people wait for that story.
Kira: So let’s start with your story. How did you end up as a copywriter?
Lauren: By accident. Not intentional. It’s like, ‘No, duh duh duh.’ No. So what happened … Oh God, I’m thinking about my birthday is coming up in a couple of days by the time we’re doing this, so.
Kira: Oh, happy birthday.
Lauren: Thank you. So it’s nine years probably. Yeah, damn near nine year, almost 10 years here. So, what I, I live in New York City and I had a tutoring business. So, I was trying to find a way to get more tutoring clients. An at that point, I was using either referral system, so I would go to places that I had worked or knew where there were schools that I had volunteered at and asked for, ‘If anyone needs math tutoring, I’m available.’ And then I was doing fliers, because fliers actually still work for those who don’t know. Fliers do work.
And I was trying to make the flier better, so I was in a group and I was like, ‘Hey, here’s my flier. I’m trying to, I’m planning on posting this out in Soho or whatever and see if I can get some clients.’ And folks were like, ‘Give me a hint.’ And then someone said, ‘Hey, why don’t you, you should really look into copywriting because you’ll then learn how to write a better flier and stuff like that.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, I know what copywriting is legally.’ And I was like, ‘What is this copywriting thing?’
And so they started pointing me in the direction of some links and then I got on some email lists and then I got into some courses, the courses back then and learning how to write copy, direct response copy, so I can actually write better ads or fliers for my tutoring business at the time. So that’s how I started. It was to get some kiddies and some parents to trust me enough to hand me money and your child to teach them some math.
Rob: So, tell us what were some of those resources that you used to get the skills when you were first starting out?
Lauren: Let’s see, I’m trying to think. There is a program which is still around called the Copy Hour. I got into that, somebody probably said, ‘Hey, why don’t you do Copy Artist?’ Because at the time I was in college at the time, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t doing anything. I was in college, working part time and doing that thing for student loans purposes. So, they said, ‘Well, Copy Hour would probably be good because it’s not as time intensive. So I joined that and, which was a significant investment at the time because I am a college student with limited funds. But my funds was going to pay for books because eventually I planned to go to law school. That’s what the thing was. I was going to go to law school.
So, which is crazy when you think about what happened now. But that was the one of the plans I had. But at that time because it wasn’t like video courses and stuff like that that, it was abundant now, a lot of that stuff wasn’t as abundant nine years ago. Like that’s, some of that stuff was just kind of coming because tech was an issue. If anyone remembers what it was like to attempt to have a video course and then try to upload it and go through all them tech issues. That stuff didn’t exist. So now it’s like there’s so many easier ways to learn stuff. Back then it wasn’t as easy. It was quite difficult. So, Copy Hour was an email delivered course. So that’s what I initially started on, Copy Hour.
Kira: So, this is going back, I know, I think you’ve mentioned eight or nine years, but do you remember any of those changes that you made to your fliers after sitting through a couple of those trainings or reading through those emails, what changes did you make to the fliers to improve them?
Lauren: Oh, like a call to action would have been nice. Listen, I, and it’s funny because I come from a background where I’ve puzzled and didn’t, done things, but in terms of writing an actual flier to get a client for that type of service. And in New York it should be abundant because New York is very big on education and things like that. So, if you say you’re tutor, you could tutor French or stuff. You can usually get clients relatively easily. But at that time I was charging higher prices than what the normal was. Like if that was like nine years ago, let’s say $10 an hour was let’s say the average price of a tutor. And these are tutors who are New York City educators who are, teachers. Certified, trusted people. And I’m like, ‘I’m not in New York state teacher, but I’m going to charge you 50 to 60 bucks an hour.’
That was, yeah, that was pretty steep. I was making that kind of, so when your flier just can’t be this, right? So actually having a call to action, like, ‘Hey, call this number.’ The concept of putting a package together because I didn’t have that. It was just like, okay, well, Monday through Friday, these are our hours. But the concept of packaging your offer to give people options, having at least two or three packages and different pricing tiers and all that stuff. I learned looking at different sales letters and stuff, the way that program goes. But I didn’t know any of that. So my flier was basically, ‘Hi, my name is Lauren. I tutor math, Pre-Algebra and Algebra. If you’re looking for a tutor, my name is Lauren.’ That’s pretty much what the flier was.
Lauren: Yeah, sold. That was it. That was it. Sold. So, when I went through that and I started, it was like, okay, so now I’m making the change and I understand a bit about why I’m making the changes and, that I was making at the time.
Rob: So, how did you go from writing for yourself and your own tutoring business to writing for other clients? What did those first projects and clients look like?
Lauren: It was like a couple of years into it. I had my business built up. I turned the tutoring business because I was a, I follow like [inaudible] safety and that’s when you get, earn one K. I got that program and I was going through that and I was like, ‘you know what?’ They started bringing, like you could sell courses. I remember this still early course thing, technology-wise. So this is not easy as it is, teachable stuff today. So I was like, ‘All right, how would I do this?’ And at that time there wasn’t, it wasn’t like on YouTube where everybody was uploading, there was no Kind Academy. Let’s just say that the Kind Academy didn’t exist. Okay? And so I’m pre Kind Academy, I’m like, how can I grow this bigger without all of my time? Because I’m still in college.. I’m in college, I have other responsibilities outside of that.
And I had this one-on-one tutoring thing, even though I’m charging a lot of money to do that because I’m paying my way through school. So, what winds up happening is I heard, ‘Oh, you could freelance and get more money.’ And I was like, ‘ Well, that sounds doable.’ I figured if I can get clients for my thing, I can do it for somebody else and get them clients. So I figured, let me take a dive and see what that was going to, how that was going to work. And at the time my major was in a business, so I was, we had to do these projects where we actually work with businesses anyway. And one of my assignments was working with a business that was in construction.
So, my first client kind of came by way of accident with a school project and I said, ‘Well, if you change this you could probably get more people to actually call you back.’ And they were like, ‘Okay.’ And it kind of like, ‘Well, how much would it charge for you to do it?’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ Well now I don’t know nothing about nothing about what people’s fees were or anything. So I’m like, ‘Okay, $500.’ Which was a hell of way below what I should have been charging. But I don’t know anything. I’m just like, ‘Someone’s paying me $500 and I just got to write a few sentences? That’s great.’ Not thinking that this was for a construction roofing company that’s charging 30 grand for a roof.
Kira: No. Yeah.
Lauren: But you live and you learn. But that was my first real freelance project.
Kira: So then, how did you build off of that? Once you’ve worked through that project, you realize you can do it, there’s more money to be had. So. where did you go from there to get more copywriting clients?
Lauren: Well, since I was already, since I already had a foot hold a little bit, or at least I felt that way, in terms of either I can continue doing it for education because I have enough ties in that arena. Or I can turn around and do more construction because I understand what that looks like. And so, I kind of went both ways. I said whatever way gets me the most of something that kicks off is what I’ll probably focus on eventually. Because I still technically had the tutoring business, but I had my little makeshift courses and that was kind of selling itself, so to speak, because I’d built up a accidental social media following, on the sort of, the young adult author [inaudible 00:10:07]. If anyone remembers Harry Potter, that group that was into Hunger Games, Twilight. I had that group of kids, so to speak.
So, I was going to other tutors in New York City that I knew who would tutor other subjects or I knew who tutored the SATs because I didn’t do any SAT tutoring. And then New York high end SAT tutors were charging $150 an hour. They were charging, there was one who I think was charging $600 an hour for tutoring. And he’s always booked out for two years, or some craziness like that. So I got, I knew them because we hung out in the same circles cause our clientele is relatively similar. Like they’ll go to me and then eventually they’re going to them. And they had kind of built out their networks. So I was like, ‘Well, I can help you get more clients. Just let me redo some of your fliers to the school,’ or whatever.
And so I started working on their projects and I started getting like, I knew every month I was going to have to rewrite a couple of fliers for a few of those companies. So that’s I was getting money on that side. That’s where the education side came on. But on the construction side I actually went, I was like, that’s when I really had to go and cold call and cold approach these companies. And that’s where you really, I really learned a whole lot of stuff about cold calling and trying to get people on a phone was through that way. But I managed to get a couple of HVAC companies in New York City and also, and well around the Boston area. Because I actually looked up their websites and got their phone numbers. And I did the most scariest thing in the world. I started cold calling these people.
Now I am not an outgoing person. I am very much an introvert. I’d rather be in my house and with my phone off. So, this was an experience of all kinds of reactions. Let’s just say not so nice ones.
Rob: So yeah, let’s talk about those calls. What was the pitch? How did you pitch your services?
Lauren: Oh man. It was horrible. It was horrible. I remember, I don’t know what I’m really doing. It’s one thing in person where you’re over the phone. I was like, ‘Okay, so I’m going to call these people,’ because I remember, I think I was reading on some blog or whatever, ‘Yeah, cold calling, call these people,’ whatever. So I was like, ‘All right, let me try this.’
So, there’s no script. I didn’t have a really good script. So I was like, ‘What am I going to say to these people?’ So, that took a while to figure out. So I was like, okay, well their websites were crap. Most construction websites are not good. But I knew a couple of things based on, when I worked with that first client was how they got leads. So, sometimes they paid for like Google Ad Words. A lot of them did a lot of print marketing, which is still really big with them. And so I was like their ads weren’t very good. So, they basically get a lead, they get a quote, and 99% of time they never follow up with the quotes. So, there are people who never made a decision and they don’t call them back.
So, I figure what if I wrote some emails or whatever for them so that the people who didn’t get back to them, they could kind of be restarted in their campaign, so to speak, so they can close one of them? So I figured, I was like, all right, let me talk to a couple. And so I think, oh man, the first one was horrible. I still remember it. I think I got cursed out on that one. It was horrible. I remember like, it’s that bad. I’m like, ‘Oh, try not to remember it.’
But I called the guys, so he’s like, ‘Hello.’ Like no, it was cordial. ‘Hello, this is Bill from HRS Roofing. How can I help you?’ And I was like, ‘Oh hi bill. My name is Lauren. Listen, I found your website and did you know if you change this thing you could probably get more calls.’ And he’s like, ‘Who the f**k is this?’ It was like, I’m telling you it as horrible. I don’t know what I’m doing. So, already my anxiety is already up. I’m like, ‘Oh crap.’ Have you gotten yelled at on the phone that it felt like you were sitting in front of the person?
Kira: Not recently.
Rob: Definitely been a while, yeah.
Lauren: Well yeah. That happened to me. And I was like, ‘Okay, this is,’ I was like, ‘This is, it’s not,’ I was like, I was kind of shook because he was yelling and he was pissed. Because essentially I’m wasting his time. I was like, ‘What? What the hell is this?’ He’s a busy guy. He ain’t worried about a damn website. He’s worried about calls, but I didn’t know that.
Rob: So Lauren, what did you do to make the calls more effective? After the first couple of disasters, what did you learn about cold calling to be able to land clients?
Lauren: First thing is don’t call people around lunchtime. That is probably a bad, yeah, that’s probably a no-no. I learned that. Don’t call me around lunchtime. And first, either well, what started to work is, taking it from their standpoint and asking them more about them. So what I would, what I started and eventually learned how to do was instead of like, ‘Hey, I noticed this thing on your website,’ they don’t give a shit about that. They care about getting that next roofing client out of their leads. They want their phone to ring. So automatically if I’m calling them, they think I’m a lead and so therefore I’m not a lead. So therefore, they just want to hang up the phone. So I got to take it from their standpoint. What can I say? Because I got 10 seconds to figure out what to say that’s going to stop them.
So, what I would do first is I would inquire about exactly what they did. Like do you just do roofing and what is that? What type of roofs, and how much would that run? And I started asking him more industry-related questions. So, when they started telling me that, I can segue into, ‘Oh, if you, like how many, or how many quotes or calls do you actually get? A week, how many have you done?’ They’re like, ‘Well, I did 15, and maybe two will have called back.’ So then I can say, ‘Well, what if there was a system that can get you three more calls back to actually close a deal? Would that be interesting? Would that make sense to you?’ And then the conversation changes. Like, ‘Yeah, if you can figure out how to do that, that’s great. Because I don’t know what the hell to do.’
So when I started learning how to come more from their standpoint of what’s bothering them versus what I wanted, which was basically another client, then things got much better on the call side of things.
Kira: So, how many calls do you think you made during that time?
Lauren: Whew. Let’s see. I was doing about maybe, at least in the beginning, or after I finished being scared of getting yelled at and all that crap. I was doing 20 calls a day.
Kira: Oh, wow.
Lauren: So, that was doing, yeah, I was doing about 20 calls a day, minus Saturday and Sunday, but pretty much 20 calls a day.
Kira: And then, how would you say that grew your business? How did your business change through cold calling?
Lauren: I got a, well one, I learned a lot more about the industry and stuff that they cared about. And two, I actually got a bunch of, a lot of clients to the point where I probably, if I was smarter I probably would’ve just gotten a couple more freelancers with me and we just would’ve started a company, company at that point. But I don’t know any better. I’m just doing this for extra money to, my, I was very singular. Like money pays for this, and that’s it type of ideal. Because I’m not going to do this forever. So, it was a different mindset on my end.
But yeah, I mean I would have, I probably would, I probably should’ve done it that way, when I think about it. It’s like one of those things that you go back and then you kick yourself in the head for not thinking of it because you had the opportunity to actually do it.
Rob: Good question. Something to think about, anyway. So, take us through the rest of your business narrative. How do you go from there to where you are today?
Lauren: I was in that market and I said, okay, this is cool. But I got kind of tired of writing copy for roofing companies. It’s not the most exciting industry. And then it start, because what happened is usually I developed a personal relationship with those companies. Because a lot of them are family-owned. They’re not corporate, corporate companies. The majority of them are not. So, who’s working at the company? The owner is the uncle or the dad and then his grandpa. And then the people answering the phone is his wife and stuff like that. So, you get to know people’s families. And I’ll get in too much, hooked into someone’s family drama. So I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t really want to be involved in it that way. I just want to give you your emails and have this working in assets.
So I decided to, let me get away from that sort of thing, because I did like on the other end what I was doing at the education side, even though I was, I sold that business, the tutoring business. I sold that one, which I should have sold it for much more because I got, I was still tutoring. Live tutoring kids. So, I got out of that because that was taking a lot of my time and I wanted to do something else. Because I love being an entrepreneur. I love having businesses, but not that type of business that was that time intensive. So, I let go of that particular market of HVAC and construction and I was looking at, okay, who else can I, what other marketers could I possibly write for if I’m going to do this? Because the goal of the freelance money at this point was to pay for a different business endeavor and to pay for student loans. Those are the two main factors.
So, I let go of the tutoring business. I let go of writing for HVAC stuff. That’s when Facebook groups started picking up. So, I was in groups like Coffee with Dan and things like that. So I started running into a lot of fitness folks and started reaching out to them. And that’s when I started writing a little bit of fitness copy here and there. And because my degree was finance, I figured finance would be a great place to write copy. So I started getting into looking for writing financial copy for some companies. So I kind of pivoted from those two things to a little bit of fitness, and to also writing some finance copy emails and eventually website copy and call scripts.
Kira: And is that where you are today? Are you working within the finance space today?
Lauren: No. Well, I haven’t written finance directly in maybe a couple of years.
Lauren: So to speak. But usually everyone’s like okay you can go to Agora Financial to write for those guys. Didn’t write for them. I wound up writing for some startups that are, a couple of them are still around, thank God. So, because I got more in that space. I live in New York, and the big startup scene was happening. And I always, I looked at him like, I live in New York, I want to be kind of a part of the scene. I want to be, so I started looking at the companies in New York. Who would hire me to write some copy? And so there were some finance startups and I was like, ‘Well, I could do the email copy or I can do this.’ And that’s where I initially started writing copy for those types of companies, which eventually led to me doing a couple of really big copy projects from some much bigger companies.
Kira: And where does school plan to it? Because at first, it sounds like you were earning money to pay for school. To pay for loans. And you mentioned law school, that you thought you were going to go to law school. So, how does school play into this storyline and your business with copywriting?
Lauren: Yeah, well I didn’t, I went to, when I went to school, I got my a Bachelor’s degree and then I went, I got into business school. And I was in business school at the time, so that’s when I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to get my MBA and then I’m going to go to law school,’ because I wanted to work in intellectual property law. And so I was doing this. But as I was in business school, I kind of felt, I had a really good professor and we kind of fell in love with marketing. He was a consultant and he was like, ‘Well, I consult for these companies and this is what you do and this is how you have to look at a business.’ So, he would bring in live businesses and we would have to figure all that stuff out. So my major, well my concentration when I was in business school was in finance and financial management. So, all the stocks and bonds and all that other stuff. And also marketing. So, everything from brand to strategy and operations.
So, while I was writing copy, I understood where a copywriter fits in a company. Like you’re the creative people. You do what we tell you to do. And that’s it. Because that’s how that world works. If anybody wanted to know, if you haven’t worked in an agency, that’s pretty much how that world works, in a nutshell. And so this consultant thing that he kept bringing up, because that’s what he was, is how I tied it in. Because what I discovered unfortunately is when you tell a company in New York or anywhere else that. ‘Hey, I’m a copywriter,’ they don’t know what the hell that is. So, that became a problem, of course.
Lauren: So, I was like, ‘All right, well let me call myself something else.’ Marketing consultant. Oh, doors start to open a bit.
Kira: Hey, we’re just jumping into the show today to tell you a little bit more about The Copywriter Underground. Rob, what do you like best about this membership?
Rob: So, this membership community is full of copywriters that are investing in their businesses and taking what they do seriously. Everything is focused around three ideas: copywriting and getting better at the craft that we all do, marketing and getting in front of the right customers so you can charge more and earn more. And, also mindset so that you can get out of your head and focus on the things that will help you be successful at what we do. There’s a private Facebook group for the members of the community and we also send out a monthly newsletter that’s full of advice, again, on those three areas: copywriting, marketing and mindset. Things that you can mark up and tear out, put them in your file, save them for whatever, and it’s not going to get lost in your email inbox. Kira, what do you like about The Copywriter Underground?
Kira: So, I love the monthly hot seat calls where our members have a chance to sit in a hot seat and ask a big question or get ideas or talk through a challenge in their business. Because we all learn from those situations. And then I also feel like the templates we include in the membership are valuable because who wants to reinvent the wheel? And Rob and I end up sharing a lot of the templates and resources we use in our own businesses. So I would definitely want to grab those.
Rob: So if you are interested in joining a community of copywriters that are investing in their business and in themselves and trying to do more, get more clients, earn more money consistently, go to thecopywriterunderground.com to learn more. Now back to the program.
So, as a marketing consultant then today, what does your business look like? What kind of clients do you work on or for? What kind of packages do you sell? I know you’ve got an email list and you sell things to your own list. So tell us about your business today.
Lauren: So as a marketing consultant, I work with mid size to large companies, right now in a couple of different niches. I also have a couple of other businesses like my little love interest business, so to speak, as I like to call it called Black Nerd Swag. And that’s all about nerdom and for a very specific niche that I have working on. So, like comic books, Game of Thrones, all that kind of good stuff. That’s its own separate thing. I have my little marketing agency where I deal with, clients have to have a minimum, a gross revenue minimum of five million a year plus for them to be a possible client with us. And that’s all about lead generation from, basically building lead generation funnels for them. And while my other thing with the emails comes in plays is storyxbrandxstrategies.com. That’s where I do a lot of my teaching. So, people on that email list, I teach a lot because I still love to teach. I just don’t love to teach math. But I can teach people how to write stories, teach people the things I’ve learned over the years as a copywriter, as a marketer, having to figure things out from brand stuff that, I think sometimes when you’re in direct response lane, we don’t talk enough about branding. And that’s a really big deal right now.
If you haven’t been paying attention, if all you copywriters out there, sometimes you’ll have a potential for a really, for a project. But they’ll tell you a lot about, we want to make sure it’s on brand. And you have to kind of understand what they mean by that, or have the intelligence to ask questions about what they mean. Or they want you to help them figure out what their brand is. And if you could do that, you can open the doors to some opportunities out there. But in direct response, in internet marketing, we focus a lot on the conversion, which we all, we should. But I know a lot of companies that went out of business who were making great revenue because they didn’t have a brand. And another company had a brand and they had a lot of funding and were able to actually squeeze out their competition. So, that’s a little bit important. Very much important now with social media.
Kira: So, can you talk about the marketing agency and what your team looks like? If you have a team, or just like how much time you’re spending on that compared to your other businesses.
Lauren: For the marketing agency, it’s me and a couple of people who I outsource projects to. And it’s between, sometimes it’s just strategy. Sometimes the company, what happens is like a split between a training. Or we do it for you, right? So we have companies that I go into now and, they want me to teach them how to use story more in email. How to teach your team how to write. And so, I’ll go and I’ll be the consultant and we’ll, I’ll have a no workshop for them, or what I like to call pop content copy, which is in integrating pop culture elements into different types of copies. So, brand-related copy into, that marketing copy, and doing that.
So, that’s one part of it. The other part is actually we do it for them. So building out their lead generation. Whatever traffic sources they’re using such as like, because I know how to run traffic. So, Facebook or Google into, okay, they hit the landing page into email or messaging follow-up. So we can either do it for them or most of the time, I do a lot of trainings nowadays since that became a big thing.
Rob: And how do you attract your clients today? I assume you’re not still cold calling people on the phone.
Lauren: Oh no. We are not. We are done.
Kira: That would be awesome if you were still cold calling.
Lauren: Oh yeah, it would be great.
Kira: Cold calling for 10 years.
Lauren: Oh no. I said, I usually don’t cold call people. It’s like we, it’s not a cold call anymore because what I decided to do is I’m still very much introverted. That stuff is tiring. Okay? It’s tiring. Once I’m in the rhythm is one thing, but I like, it’s tiring. It’s very exhausting. So, what I do is I do cold emailing to get to the phone call. I do, I go, I network at the right type of events. And I work my magic there because even though, you develop certain skills over the years with different things. So I, those are the main ways to get my clients besides now starting to be more of a referral system is coming in. Like, people who have worked with me. Like, ‘Hey, I’ve thought about you with this. Can your company do this,’ type of stuff. But most of my clients come from a cold email process to start the conversation, to me meeting the executive heads or the CEO or CMO at some type of event or talk.
Kira: Okay. So, can you talk more about the training that you offer and because recently I’ve chatted with a couple of copywriters who want to get into that, but they aren’t quite sure how to package it or how to introduce it to clients. Can you just describe what that looks like and how you break that down for clients?
Lauren: Well, I live in New York City, so maybe it’s a little, I’ll give a little bit of context. So, New York City has a lot of marketing agencies and a lot of companies who, they have their office here, or a home base. And so, what winds up happening is they tend to hire a lot of freelancers, but they also have the in-house marketing team and they may not want to hire an agency because when you say you’re a agency in New York, people assume that you’re charging like six or 12 million Dollars. This is, like as soon as I say New York, they’re like, ‘Oh no, we can’t afford you.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not charging you $20 million to do a campaign. I’m not Ogilvy, right? This is not what we’re doing here.’ But that’s the assumption when you say your company is based in New York City. That’s just the big assumption.
So what I will lead in with, ‘Hey, I can go in and train your marketing team,’ or whoever your content team is on how to write content that converts, right? Because what’s the issue with the content? Because there’s life cycle of content with companies can vary, because what they’ll do is they’ll SEO something to death, so all the back links, but it doesn’t actually get them phone calls. It doesn’t do the thing that they need. And they’re trying to get more users, get more clients or customers. Depending what specific industry what they’re looking for. Right? So, what I started doing is I would pick an industry. So, we’re in startup land to a certain extent in New York City and I know that they’re trying to sell a SaaS product, whatever the hell that thing is. Right?
And they do a lot of their content marketing. So I would ask, well, what is the other ways in which they get their clients? Well, a lot of it is they have a sales team. And I was like, ‘Well, what’s the point of the content marketing team then?’ We’re trying to use the content to educate them and get more people to the sales team. I was like, ‘Great, but how’s the content going?’ Well, it’s not going very well. It doesn’t seem like it’s converting or, which 99% of time it doesn’t. Or they don’t know how to write or what to write for content. So, what I would do with them is like, look, I’m willing to come and we have a training session that’s coming up in, I don’t know, June 15. If you’d like, we can do a special training session for your marketing/sales team in how to write the kind of content that will get you more calls or opt-ins, or whatever.
Because a lot of times companies are very much willing to spend money to train their teams. It’s a big, big business. So, when I positioned it that way, because sometimes they think I’m more expensive than I actually am, with the company, but they’re willing to spend a lot of money to have a workshop. It was like, oh great, you could train my social media person. I’ll have the content person. I’ll have, whoever is the liaison between marketing and sales in a room. So it might be as small as five people. It might be as big as 20 people. Just depends on the size of the company. And when I first started doing it, I was like, ‘Okay, what would that look like? So let me charge $1,000 to see if I can get someone to bite.’
That’s what I first started doing. I would have a two-hour session and I would break it down specifically what I’m going to teach. So, if it’s content marketing, there’s a lot of different types of content marketing. Am I talking about more the theoretical strategy of it? Am I talking more about the writing itself? Like someone might be really good at video content so they can go into a company and train them specifically on video. Like I wouldn’t do video because that’s not my expertise lane. But when it comes to writing or strategy of how something needs to be kind of story boarded out or how you can write it in calls to action, I can talk a lot about that.
So if, I don’t know what folks you spoke to, but if they’re copywriters and let’s say their thing is, I don’t know, content marketing or email marketing or, ad specifically that say Facebook ads, and they were going into a company’s team and they’re going to train them on how to actually write the creative for the Facebook ads, I would just say what it is. Say it’s Facebook. These are Facebook ads. This is a training on how to write Facebook ads that convert, right? Or whatever it is. And of course if their targeting is right, they’ll get a company most likely to say yes. And if you’re getting your foot in the door, I say at least 1,000 or $2,000 for a session isn’t unheard of. Because I’ve heard of folks on my end of things since I started doing it, charging like $10,000.
Kira: Yeah, and when you start off with a couple of hours, you think it’s best maybe just two hours for like $2,000, and then maybe work your way up to a full day? Or how, what’s the best way to start?
Lauren: When I first did it because, as I’m sure of, my energy goes low so I don’t know what to expect. Right? And I’m a person who’s I’ve planned, like I used to do lesson plans and stuff for the tutoring thing. So, I have a little bit of a heads up, because sometimes when you first do it you’re like, ‘Mm, this doesn’t work really well. ‘So, you need to rearrange it. Or what I like to do, and this will be good for anybody listening if you’re going to do this, make sure while people are there, have a survey. What people make the mistake of doing is they don’t think of doing a survey. Or what they’ll do is they’ll send everybody an email for a survey and not get enough responses.
So, I actually like to have a physical survey there and at the end of the session I will make everybody do it. That way I got everybody’s feedback and then I can modify what I need to modify. But I suggest a one hour, a minimum of a one hour to two hour kind of a workshop first because you’re testing out the words, especially if you’re not used to teaching and you’ve never done it before.
So pick one subgroup of whatever the hell you’re talking about. So, if it’s email deliverability, if you know something about that, just give a two hour workshop or one hour workshop on email deliverability. Or if it’s how to write subject lines that do whatever, then just talk an hour, have an hour workshop on that, an in person workshop on that. That’s what I would suggest. And then, as you can get the feedback and what you become comfortable with and more confident with, you can modify all your offerings eventually. That’s what I’ve been doing, like step-wise. Like okay, this works. This doesn’t work. And then I up my prices as I go along.
Rob: Let’s talk a little bit more about how you pitch this to companies, too. And how do they find you or how do you find them? Who are you talking to at the company in order to get them to buy your workshop?
Lauren: I go to them. A lot of times I will have in mind a specific industry or companies that I would like to do something for. And what I would do is I would start, because my, let’s say I wanted to do content marketing and there’s maybe 10 companies that I really like, for whatever reason, I like their product. They’re in New York. I know that they’re in New York, so therefore their marketing team’s in New York, so we can make this work. What I would do is I would start kind of stalking the company. I would really, I would see if there was any events. I would see if someone at the company was speaking at something that’s close to me. If they had podcast interviews, I would listen to them. And because a lot of times people will talk about what their struggles are, the issues are, or whatever it’s going on.
And once I got a little bit of information, I would start, let’s say, all right, I’m going to sell content marketing workshop. It’s going to be an hour and we’re going to talk about how to generate ideas. Or whatever the hell. Because of the information I gathered, a.k.a. you guys are copywriters, a.k.a we’re supposed to do research. That wonderful R word? That’s what I do. I try to, because what I do when I start to write a letter or an email or anything, I want to make it very specific to them so that it’s not just a broad-based thing. So what I would start doing is, and it takes a little bit of time, but it does pay off. If someone’s paying you $1,000 and talk for an hour and then you get to go home, I think that’s worth it. I think it’s worth it. And that’s what you started with, right?
So what I would do is, actually I did it on my website. I, there was a, there used to be a company called Column Book [inaudible 00:38:20]. I wanted to do some work for them. They no longer exist, but that’s okay. But I actually followed them. I understood their model. I bought their product. And I knew how it worked and I knew what was lacking. I wrote a whole blog article about them. And in my case, I put it on my website. I put it on LinkedIn because I’m very active on LinkedIn. I had it on Twitter. I tweeted about it a few times. I tag them in the tweets, and I tag them on LinkedIn. I turned around, I put a little bit of traffic to it. I put maybe $10 worth of traffic to it on Facebook, to make it sure like it’s been seen. It’s out there, so that when I actually directly message them. Now, this is who you go after: Depending the size of the company, I like to go after the CEO and I like to go after the CMO because we’re in the marketing side, right?
Because the worst case scenario, the CEO will say, ‘Yes, I’m going to forward you to my marketing director.’ Right? ‘Or my CMO,’ whoever. So I like to go to the two people, the two main people in charge. And 99% of the time, that is the CEO, if you can get to them, or the CMO. Those are the two people you want to get to because they’re on the marketing side, that’s everybody’s boss. On a CEO, that’s everybody’s boss throughout the company. Right?
So, I like to go after those two people because what usually happens if they like it enough and they want it, they will forward you to who’s the person to set things up. So, that’s what you do. So anyone doing this, send the email to the CEO and the CMO of the company because they will forward you if they like what you’re pitching, if they like what you’re talking about to the people to schedule stuff.
Kira: Okay. All right. So, you mentioned selling strategy, or you didn’t mention selling it, but that in your marketing agency you do a lot of strategy work, too. How do you sell or package your strategy work?
Lauren: So when it comes to graduation, this is not me doing workshops, it’s just me, ‘Hey, this is the ideas I have for whatever campaign.’ Or this is how you would generally approach something from a brand to now we need sales kind of side sort of stuff. What I would usually, or that’s straight me a cold email. Or usually I’ve met the person at this stage of the game. I’ve met them and I say, ‘Well I do this,’ in terms of these are a couple of ideas I had. So I come to the table and say, ‘Listen, I have a couple ideas. I see you’re doing this. What if, and you’re trying to reach whoever demographic. I have a couple ideas that might work for you if done in a particular way about this,’ so you instantly have a conversation.
And what I do is I usually charge, that’s more of an hourly thing when it comes to strategy. If I’m not doing any work, no work is being done in terms of writing, copy, doing traffic, any of that, I charge them sort of hourly on the first side of things. And then it’s retainer if we’re going to actually do it. So, I charge them for the strategy session. That’s the hourly thing. And if they say, ‘Okay, I want you to be on retainer,’ then it’s a retainer from then on.
Rob: Lauren, what would you say is the thing that you’ve done in your business that’s made the biggest difference?
Lauren: Oh, let me see. The thing I’ve done, I separated things out. I used to have everything kind of bunched together, which is like know what, In the beginning it was like, okay, trying to figure out what I would like to do or maybe focus on. But when I started separating things out, it made things a little bit more clearer because you get the package stuff. So, I like teaching and I teach my little group at my website. But I wanted to teach folks who worked at these companies, especially the companies that I liked for whatever reason.
So. when I started doing workshops, the became its own thing under the agency. It’s workshops. I go and train you, because I want to do speaking gigs and that kind of cool stuff and then do it for you. That becomes its own separate thing. And then if it’s just strategy, that becomes its own separate thing. So, when I started getting really clear on what my offers were and that they were their own separate thing, it makes things a lot easier because there are just certain companies where I don’t want to have nothing to do with their execution of anything because the bigger companies mean bigger problems.
If you’re doing something for like Coca-Cola, you’re going to do a lot. It’s going to be, it’s just so much back and forth. It’s so much red tape that it’s like, ‘Know what? I’d just rather be on retainer for strategy.’ That’s easier than, ‘Okay, we have to actually attempt to implement it,’ because you’ll do something, they’ll say no. But they’re still paying you while you’re doing it. You’re still under contract with these folks. Because we have what we, I do annual contracts. So, it’s not month-to-month. It’s annual. So, they pay you up front. You’re there for the year.
So, once I started doing that and made things a lot easier, especially when I started getting some opportunities to work with a much bigger brand companies, I had to do that cause it was getting too messy.
Kira: So, you’re charging for the year for a retainer, is that right? For like a strategy retainer?
Lauren: Yeah, for the retainer. Mm-hmm, yeah, so strategy retainer, that’s a year. So it’s initially, I charge from my hour for the initial strategy session.
Lauren: ‘Hey, if you want me to oversee it, this is the retainer for the entire year.’ They say yes or no. We go on. When it comes to done for you stuff, that’s also annual.
Kira: Okay. So, do you have any advice about pricing the retainer strategy work that you do for somebody who’s moving into more of a strategy role and wants to approach it in that way? Like how should they think about how to price it?
Lauren: This is the thing. It depends on how big the company is. If you’re going after mom and pop shops, good luck to you. God bless you. And I love mom and pop companies, but they just don’t make usually the best clients. If you’re going after midsize businesses, like the smallest business I will work with on that side is a $5 million a year business. So what, or plus business. So, what I tend to do is I look for other competition in my space and I see what their pricing strategy or structure is. Because a lot of times you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can modify what’s being done. So if I see, okay, the way I think was is if this was $5 million a year company, they have a percentage of their budget that they should be spending on any marketing, or whatever. So, if that’s anywhere up to five percent of their initial budget, then you have an idea that, I always look at more of the value on bringing what is the end result if they do what I say, versus me just be talking to them for an hour or a couple of hours a month sort of thing.
Because if they’re doing, like if I’m working with a company that’s a $20 million company and they’re already spending two or three million Dollars on the campaign, they’re already spending that in ads. So, if I’m coming with a strategy session, then I’m looking at it, what was the result of that? They’re looking to bring in another gross profit of probably nine plus million Dollars. So, if my strategy works and they make nine plus million Dollars, then it doesn’t make sense for me to be charging $500 an hour. I’m bringing too much value to the table. And also, you can get laughed out of the room if you tell somebody you know your prices are too low. And that’s the biggest danger. You are better off saying a larger number and working that out than saying a smaller number because you scared and getting laughed out the room because it’s not because the number is too high, it’s just they don’t believe you.
Like people in the business side, especially with larger companies, if you’re not charging them 40 grand a year, the price of them hiring somebody, then they’ll laugh you out the room a lot of the times. That’s just the reality situation. So, the way I kind of think about it just for a baseline, if someone’s starting out the strategy, let’s say it’s a five million plus Dollar company. Most of them will waste at least 50 grand on some ads for one campaign, a small campaign. So I’m like, ‘Okay, so for a year it’s going to be 50 grand, or it’s going to be 45.’
I like to hold it to a salary sort of thing. So, when I had the conversation, I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s like, what’s the price? All right, great. It’s 45. Sign here.’ Because if there’s any objections to it, I can say, ‘Well guess what? Well that secretary over there, you’re paying her 50 grand and she just, she answers the phone with that, to get an entire marketing team, it’s going to cost you $150,000 and that’s not even including the benefits that you have to pay. So, three times that by benefits. So for 50 grand you’re getting two out of three or an entire marketing team.’ And that tends to work.
Rob: So Lauren, I know we’re going to run out of time, but listening to you talk about this stuff, it sounds like you’ve got a lot of stuff figured out and you’re doing a lot of stuff right. What are some of the mistakes that you’ve made that you can help us avoid if we want to work with the same kinds of clients or if we want to do workshops, those kinds of things?
Lauren: Which you got, the only mistakes I made is, you take a no forever. Because sometimes people will tell you no, and you kind of take that to heart and then you take it, ‘Okay, well they’ll never work with me.’ And that’s usually not, that’s not the case. I’ve learned that in making mistakes and as I’m going through this and in my consultancy, on the business, that sometimes someone is saying no this month does it mean that three months from now or six months from now that they will say no again. And that people change positions a lot. So, sometimes you’ll talk to people and you caught them one a day they found out they’re getting fired. So, everything you send them is no. And if you wait a little bit, you try it again, you might actually get a yes.
It’s just that the company was not going through a good time. They’re restructuring, acquisitions or a merger or there’s some internal politics. Someone’s leaving, and so they’re trying to figure out what to do. So, they don’t want to spend on anybody they don’t know outside until they have it figured out. So, taking a no or a negative in person or in an email and thinking you can never contact that company again, I’ve had to learn that lesson.
And so if anybody out there is in a position where, hey, I emailed this company and they told me no, just hold, like air market for three to six months and try it again. Something might have changed. They might have gotten more funding, they might’ve made more money. They might have a different direction now, and you could be a part of that. Just do it like a checklist. Like, ‘Hey, we talked a few months ago and I just want to check in. Is everything’s still good? If not, can we have this conversation again?’ And you might actually get a yes. So, don’t take the no as in it’s you personally and forever.
Kira: Yeah. That’s great advice. And I know I have so many more questions for you, but again, we’re out of time. So, we do want to find out about what it’s like to write for a celebrity. So can you just share a little about what it was like to work with 50 Cent?
Lauren: Oh, so what I was writing, this is 50.com when he first put up that website. This is like a little over nine years ago. I was in college. We started, had an account on there. I started writing for them. And I became friendly with some people who were doing some writing and kind of worked with them. So, that’s how I kind of got in because I was posting content there. We were, Mix Tape Gang was big in New York City and I was all into G-Unit and 1,000 beefs that they’d get into. And who’s stuff is hot and not. So I got, that’s part of my culture. I’m already in it. But it’s that it’s a platform on this, on his webpage or blog or whatever.
And I was writing that content. So, when he was beefing with Rick Ross, I was there for all of that. Or when it was Terrorist Squad and Fat Joe and, and all that other stuff was there, because 50’s from Queens, New York. And I was, I remember when he first came out, shot nine times. So. it was like, for me as someone who is a young fan of the whole thing, of beef and Hip Hop and all that, it was fun to get the opportunity to, ‘Hey, keep posting this, keep posting this. This is really good.’ So it was really like, I enjoyed it. It was like, it’s a dream for some people. Hey, I get to write for my favorite celebrity. There was like, it just kind of happened because no one knew what they were doing. It’s just like, ‘Let’s try this and let’s just have it.’
Rob: Oh, that’s cool. That’s really cool. So before we let you go, Lauren, you mentioned that you’re an introvert and I believe you also have a program that you’ve designed for introverts. Tell us just a little bit about that.
Lauren: Right. It’s called Cold to Sold. So, in this conversation, I’ve talked about the one of two major ways to get my clients is either cold emailing or I’m meeting them at different events. And I don’t know about you or your audience, but in my case I’ll, some of the copywriters I’ve happened to speak to, some of the A listers that, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to. they’re like, ‘Oh, well I go to events and I get these connections and I get these people and they become my clients.’ Well, that all sounds well and good, but when you’re an introvert and you’re shy and you’re in, you have, maybe you suffer from anxiety or you’re very much a nerd nerd and you’re in an unfamiliar place and you don’t know anybody and you’re around people who might intimidate you because you heard they did all these things. It’s kind of hard to socialize. It’s got to hard to figure out how you make this thing work, especially since you’re there with a need based to actually get some clients.
So, over the years I’ve kind of developed my own system of how I approach it. And that’s how I’ve gotten some really cool opportunities to actually work with some companies that probably would have never happened had I not gone to that event, had I not spoken to them, and in a particular way and gotten them sort of in my funnel and pursued them. So, what a friend of mine told me to do, she said, ‘Lauren, you have to put this in the course because people need this.’ Because to me, I’m not thinking, ‘Uh nah, why? I’m just doing, this is what I’ve learned over the years. This is what I do.’
So, she finally convinced me after seeing me in a comic book store in New York City, pretty much sell the owner into letting me control all his Facebook ads. We met for like, first time I met him, it was less than five minutes. And she turned, like she, and her thing is all sales and brand, and she turned to me with her mouth open. She’s like, ‘That’s the smoothest shit I ever seen.’ It’s like, so I finally decided to put it into a program where I show other folks who are kind of like me in some way who also want client, they want really good leads. So, this is what I call my Cold to Sold system. So, that is the name of the program. So, if anybody is interested in that, I will be launching that again, relatively probably shortly again.
What you have to do is be on my email list. But that’s how I sell my stuff as a direct response somebody. You got to go to my website storyxbrandxstrategist.com, get into the email is and stay on the email list because I will be opening, I open it up, and then you get an opportunity to join and kind of learn my system and go out there and get you some clients much more easily and less anxiety-driven. I teach people how to find the right events for them. What to say. What to do when your anxiety levels are high and you’re about two seconds from running out the room. It’s, I go through all that with the folks there as well as helping them kind of get that singular offer eventually and talking to people. And I talk about the follow-up, I call it my lazy follow-up system because I don’t know about you, sometimes we all lazy about that follow-up, them calls we should have made, we never make. Or them emails we should have sent, we never sent.
And it’s six months later, and the person who actually wanted to pay us and we screw up. So I have a lazy follow-up system that actually is attached to Cold to Sold. And I show people how to actually hook it up and automate it.
Kira: It sounds like you’re eliminating awkwardness, introvert by introvert with this program. Sounds awesome. So, thank you so much Lauren, for jumping in here with us today and sharing so much. I know there’s so much more you could share, so we’ll have to bring you back and have another conversation, too. So, thank you.
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 at 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 thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.