For the 279th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, we’ve got not one… but 4 guests jumping on the show. You’ll hear the familiar voices of Jude Charles, Justin Blackman, and Ash Chow as they chat about their experiences with both TCCIRL and (N)IRL. Thinking about joining the party?
Here’s what it’s all about:
- The first impression of TCCIRL – are copywriters really weird?
- The experiences you can expect to have at your first or even second and third IRL event.
- Are A-listers real people?
- The importance of being able to build relationships outside of your computer screen.
- Being introverted and going to a social event… how does it work?
- First look at topics you’ll be tuning into at this year’s event.
- How to leverage TCCIRL in your life and business once the event is over.
- Dealing with burnout at different levels and how to maneuver it.
- How much can happen in a short period of time and not forgetting to sit in moments of accomplishment.
- Which guest nailed 57 podcasts because of TCCIRL?
- How TCCIRL gives you a boost of energy when you need it – even after it’s over.
- Can you be in the right and wrong room at the same time?
- Embracing our awkward quirks and being confident in our empathy.
- Where do you want to be in a year from now?
- How has the copywriting and marketing landscape changed over the last year?
- Why is 2022 the best time to be a small business owner in this space?
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Club In Real Life Event
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Episode 216 with Justin Blackman
Episode 217 with Jude Charles
Connect with Ash
Connect with Justin
Connect with Jude
Kira Hug: The Copywriter Club in Real Life is coming up fast, in only five weeks. And in today’s episode, our guests include this year’s presenters and think tank members, Ash Chow and Justin Blackman and returning repeat presenter, Jude Charles. Rob is out of town this week, so my co-host today is one of our team members from The Copywriter Club, Rosie Bynum, our client relationship and event manager. Rosie, thanks for joining me as a co-host today.
Rosie Bynum: Thank you. I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to talk about the next event coming up, our big one for the year, TCCIRL, that is The Copywriter Club in Real Life. TCCIRL is taking over the in-person stage this year in Nashville, Tennessee, March 28 through 30th. And that is coming up pretty quickly. It is a two-and-a-half-day event where you’ll hear from other copywriters and marketers about the best tools and strategies you can use to grow your business, skills, and mindset. Getting connected with some of the best minds in the space is the cherry on top. Space is limited, so be sure to grab your ticket as soon as possible. If you’d like more information, head over to thecopywriterclub.com/tccirl-2022. We’ll link it in the show notes as well.
Kira Hug: And space is really limited as in we only have a certain number of tickets left because the venue can only hold 200 people. And so, when we say that we actually mean it, is not just marketing speak. So get your tickets if you do want to be there, we want to make sure you have a seat. And now let’s jump into the conversation with Jude, Ash, and Justin.
All right, today, we’re going to kick this off with a very special episode with some special guests. Today we’re going to talk about TCCIRL and also the way that the copywriting and marketing landscape has changed over the last few years. And so, I want to kick this off with my co-host and then we’re going to go around the room and everyone will get a chance to introduce yourselves. So, Rosie, why don’t you kick it off as my co-host today? Because we kicked Rob Marsh out, you are going to co-host. Why don’t you introduce yourself?
Rosie Bynum: Hi, everybody. Yes, my name is Rosie. You might know me from emails that have come your way or if you’ve been in any of our programs, the Accelerator or the Think Tank or in Underground. I’ve been with The Copywriter Club now for… I think this fall will be my third-year anniversary with Kira and Rob. I started out as a general VA and now I guess I would be a project manager/event manager. I love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kira Hug: All right, thanks Rosie. We’re going to just go around the room. If you can just introduce yourself and share your elevate pitch, I don’t know. Start with the elevator pitch and we’ll go from there. So Jude, can you kick this off?
Jude Charles: Sure. I am Jude Charles. I am the filmmaker who always seems to find his way into The Copywriter Club. So yeah, I’m a filmmaker. I create documentaries for entrepreneurs. I went to the first TCCIRL in 2018, I believe, so I’m in OG, and looking forward to being at the next one in Nashville.
Kira Hug: All right, thanks, Jude. Let’s see, let’s go to Ash.
Ash Chow: Hey, everyone. I’m Ash Chow, and I am a launch strategist and conversion copywriter for online entrepreneurs who want to sell their digital products on repeat. I am based in Melbourne, Australia, so I am super excited to be doing a long haul flight over to the US just for this conference. It’s going to be my first trip, so I’m really excited to have my first TCCIRL and my first trip to the States coincide.
Kira Hug: And we are so excited to see you in person Ash, finally, to meet you in person. All right, thanks, Ash. Justin, who are you?
Justin Blackman: Nobody really knows. I am a mystery wrapped in a Kit Kat bar. I am a brand voice expert and overall writer of weird things and analyser patterns. I don’t even know what to call myself anymore, but I’m a great big mess. I’m the duckbill platypus of copywriters.
Kira Hug: Okay, well, we’ll probably dig into that later and try to dig into the hot mess that you are. Okay, great, I appreciate-
Rosie Bynum: I like it. All right, I think that my first question for each of you is, what was your first impression from your first IRL event. Maybe Jude, since you’re an OG, you could start.
Jude Charles: Like I said, I’m the filmmaker that came into the room and it was just like, “Why am I here?” My only experience with copywriters at that time was The Copywriter Club Podcast, and I think my very first impression when I walked into the room is that these people aren’t as weird as I thought they would be.
No, you guys are very welcoming, and I think even though I felt out of place, I also felt at home. One thing I loved about the first TCCIRL that I had never experienced at any other conference, and I had gone to conferences before then, was that during lunchtime there would be a group of us… Each day was different, but there would be a group of us, five, at the most maybe six, where we would have lunch together and then we would get to know each other better that way, and I really like that. I think there was even one night, might have been the first night, that we did dinner together, and I enjoyed that as well.
And so, I think for me, the first TCCIRL was all about feeling welcomed into the community. Of course, there was learning. I had been hearing about Parris Lampropoulos for such a long time, but then finally got to see him in person. He’s such a great presenter too. And yeah, those were all my first impressions. It was an amazing experience, and that’s why I haven’t missed one ever since.
Rosie Bynum: I love that. I do think the community is one of the first things that made me fall in love with The Copywriter Club as well. Justin, also OG, would you like to tell us about your first impression?
Justin Blackman: Yeah, I was blown away by how accessible everybody was. My first IRL, I was a nobody. Well, I had written a headline project, so I had some cred, but not compared to the A-listers that were walking into the room. I remember just being in the hotel lobby just hanging out and all of a sudden Joanna Wiebe and Ry Schwartz walk in together. I was just starstruck. Went over, said hi to Ry, and he’s like, “Yeah, cool. No, awesome, let’s go have a beer.” It was just immediate bonding. There was no attitude. Everybody was just on the same level and happy to be there and excited to meet new people. And some of those people to this day are still great friends and I never would’ve ever thought that I would be on their level.
Rosie Bynum: That’s so cool. Hey, Ry. You want to get a beer? Man, so neat. Ash, I know your first one was last year with things being a little bit different in 2021. We went virtual for the first time. Can you tell me a little bit about what you thought about, I guess, that conference and that experience?
Ash Chow: Yeah. So like you said, my first IRL was a lot different than Jude and Justin’s. It was virtual because we were all still navigating post pandemic life. I think I personally was in the middle of a lockdown as well. So it was really great to have that virtual opportunity because I was still able to meet a whole bunch of copywriters, just not literally in real life but still across the screen. I remember there was a speed networking session at the start. So it was literally like speed dating for copywriters, and then we would all have 15 minutes before someone would press a button and we’d all get randomly matched with someone else. I have to say, even though that was low-key overwhelming for an introvert like me, even just spending those 15 minutes with some existing faces that I knew and even some new copywriters really did help me make a lot of connections with people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
And also, being on the other side of the world, the conference literally happened overnight for me, like during my overnight for three days. So I was so excited for it, I prepped by sleeping all day so that I could stay up all three nights, but it was so worth it, just some of the things I learned. I really loved Iman’s talk and Brittany McBean’s. It was just amazing, and now I’m really looking forward to doing it in real life and actually seeing my friends and people in person and giving them a hug. I’m just super excited.
Kira Hug: All right. We can go on and on and rave about this event and how much fun it is, but it’s a lot of work to travel anywhere, as we all know, it’s not easy to take time off work, to leave family behind, and so it’s a commitment. I want to hear from all three of you, based off your experience, what were some concrete benefits that you took away from your experience or experiences at IRL?
Justin Blackman: I think the biggest benefit for me was just creating all of these connections and referrals that I never would have gotten before in the Facebook group. I know who I know and I stick with that group. Meeting people in real life, you just wind up at tables with other people, having a drink or eating dinner or having lunch, and you hear more about them. All of a sudden, they become the perfect person to refer a misfit project to or a great client who you’re struggling with and need some support. All these people have such tremendous skills that you don’t necessarily know or pick up on through just online communities. But getting that face-to-face interaction, I’ve had so many people that I’ve referred business to or even gotten referrals from, just from meeting in person.
Jude Charles: Yeah, I think I second what Justin has said. It’s the relationships. There are people that I’ve met at the very first TCCIRL that I still talk with and hang out with. I think, again for me, I’m also an introvert and I think coming into the room not knowing who to talk to, what to say, how to say it but then being welcomed and then leaving there… Each year, I leave with a new set of friends, and I think the benefit for me to getting… I come from South Florida. You guys have had it twice in New York and this year in Nashville. The benefit for me getting on a plane, getting a hotel, sometimes getting a rental car, you can’t pay for the relationships that you walk away with.
I think Justin mentioned something that was very, very important like everyone’s accessible. There’s not one person that’s there that doesn’t actually want to hang out with you or learn more about what you’re doing, especially the A-listers. And that was always fascinating to me too because I come from a different world and hearing that the A-listers were going to be there, it’s just like, normally A-listers aren’t trying to hang out with everyone, but that was different with TCCIRL. And so, the relationships are the biggest to me. I still talk to Kim Schwalm who was an A-lister as well, and I’ve worked with Stefan Georgi who was an A-lister, and being able to rub elbows with these people have been… It’s just different. There’s nothing like TCCIRL. It’s hard to explain it, but that is the benefit to me, that’s that’s why I continue to give back to this community. There’s just nothing like it.
Kira Hug: Thanks, Jude. Ash, what about you?
Ash Chow: Yeah, so I can’t speak 100% to the benefits of meeting up in real life, but how I’m justifying the long-haul flight is like what both Jude and Justin said, there’s something really special, I feel, about being able to meet people who you’ve been talking to virtually for the better half of two years and finally getting to see them in real life and cementing that connection and that relationship. I think the beauty of meeting other copywriters is that they get it. They understand what it’s like to be your own boss, what it’s like to navigate client relationships, to have the beauty of uncertainty. Whereas when you meet like non-copywriters, you spend a bit of time trying to find your mutual interests, like, “Oh, what do you do for work? And why are you here?” Whereas even just meeting people virtually, I’m sure in real life as well, you just instantly hit it off because you already have so much in common. So, I’m really looking forward to being in the right room with all these A-listers. I’m looking forward to the new friendships I’m going to make and even just cementing and deepening existing ones. I’m really, really looking forward. It’s an opportunity I wouldn’t miss.
Justin Blackman: Jude hit on something important there, he said that he came in as an introvert. The funny thing is with The Copywriter Club is almost all of us are introverts, and we’re surrounded by people who have the same type of energy and sometimes need a break. So it’s so common and completely acceptable to just be like, “You know what? I need to go back to my room for five minutes and just not talk.” And that’s totally cool. At other conferences that might not always be acceptable, but we are a bunch of weird hermits, just people that like talking to a keyboard, and that’s cool. You’re accepted there, it’s family. You’re allowed to be extroverted. You’re allowed to be introverted. There is zero judgment.
Kira Hug: Yeah. And we love our extroverts too. I think we’ve done this every year, we make everyone raise their hand at the beginning of the event just so we can identify our extroverts because we love you and we also want to cling to you sometimes in social settings. And so, it’s very comfortable. And that also brings up a really good point. We’re mentioning the social setting and how wonderful that is, but some people may show up to this event not knowing a single soul, and we all know how intimidating that can be. Even if you’re confident in who you are as a copywriter, as a human, it’s such a sinking feeling. And so what advice would you give to someone who’s showing up for the first time and doesn’t know anyone? How could you maximize the event? How could you make it a little bit more comfortable? What tips would you give if you have some tips to give? Yeah, Jude.
Jude Charles: Yeah, it’s interesting because I think the one thing that you guys do really well, and it’s always engaging, is the Facebook group right before the event. Ash mentioned this where she’s looking forward to meeting people that she’s met virtually. I think even if you haven’t met anyone that’s been in The Copywriter Club, I think if you go into the group, the Facebook group and friend someone that’s there… I remember the first year there were people who were talking about they just landed, “Do you want to take a cab together?” The community is so welcoming. I keep wanting to go back to that as an outsider, because I guess you guys know we’re all the introverts, you set up these parameters that allow us to open ourselves to other people, and I think the Facebook group was one way that really made it possible.
There’s a private Facebook group as soon as you sign up that is just specifically for the event. And that way, you can learn and meet people before you even get to the event, and that’s one way I would recommend being able to find people that you may not know. The other thing too is just saying hi. Again, we’re introvert and I get that. I can be socially awkward, but I think once you get over the walking up to a person you know they’re in The Copywriter Club or there for that event, I think you just walk up and say hello and let the experience take you from there. But the Facebook group is what I would recommend.
Kira Hug: Yeah, thanks, Jude, for mentioning that. That is a big part of just setting the tone for the entire event. We do facilitate that and some virtual meetups prior to the event so people are prepared and already know each other. So that is a big part of the experience.
Justin Blackman: Yeah, there’s a lot of other benefits to that too, like last year there was a flight list when people were landing so people could coordinate rides. I know that a lot of people wound up sharing hotel rooms because of that. There’s usually just so many conversations that you can get a chance to meet people and get more comfortable with them so you have that one person that like, “Right, I’m going to cling to you, and you need to introduce me to some people because I don’t know anyone.”
Kira Hug: Jude and Ash, you two are speaking at the event this year. Could you give us a little sneak peak into what you’re talking about?
Ash Chow: Yeah. I think as we know, ever since the pandemic, digital product sales, everyone wants to create a digital product nowadays just because of how scalable it is and just how much of an impact you can make with them. I think there’s a lot of content out there and a lot of copywriters talking a lot about what to do during your launch period, but there’s not so much about what you need to do in the lead up to your cart opening, AKA, the pre-launch. So this is something I’ve recently planted my flag in and really been talking about heaps just because of the results I’ve been able to create for my clients thanks to the pre-launch. So I’m super excited to be talking about just how important it is and exactly how you can identify the right topics for your audience so that you can strategically nurture them and prime them so they’re ready to buy when your cart opens.
Jude Charles: Yeah, so we have been on a journey together. This is, I forget, but maybe my third time speaking at TCCIRL.
Kira Hug: It is.
Rosie Bynum: It is.
Jude Charles: The first time I wore a black cape, and I am bringing back the black cape for year three.
Kira Hug: Yes.
Jude Charles: But I’m also bringing more fun as well. And so, my talk is about dramatic leverage. It is something that is newer that I’ve been talking a lot about. The very first year I talked about dramatic demonstration. The second year I talked about the big leap, my million dollar bet. And so dramatic leverage is a continuation of both of those things. That’s why we’re going to have some fun. We’re going to have some fun with the black cape, but there’s other things I’m bringing. Again, we’re continuing the conversation that I’ve been having over the years, the journey that we’ve been on together. I feel like this is one big family, and so this is update number three. And so, if you want to see it and understand what everyone is talking about when they talk about the black cape and how Kira’s excited to see the black cape again, come to TCCIRL, come say hi to me. If you’re afraid to talk to anyone, just come say hi and I will try to guide you as much through it because I’ve been through each and every one of them. So let’s hang out.
Kira Hug: We’re all going to sit next to you now, Jude. Can you just dig a little bit deeper into that, Jude, just to tease it a bit more. When you’re talking about dramatic leverage, what are you talking about? How do you define that?
Jude Charles: Yeah, so dramatic leverage is doing the impossible. That’s how I define it. How do you take the career that you’re in right now to do something that you really want to do later on down the road? In 2020, although I had my best financial year, I went through burnout and had to rethink how I work and how I operate. And so, I have been living out the thesis of dramatic leverage. What that means is I’ve had to think differently about the kind of clients I work with, the kind of projects I take on. Ash talks a little bit about creating digital products. I have created that in 2021. And so, dramatic leverage is teaching how do you do that for yourself. There’s three parts to dramatic leverage. There’s capital leverage, lateral leverage, and then dramatic leverage, which is doing the impossible. And so, that’s what I’ll be teaching, that’s what I’ll be going through, and even how I’ve leveraged TCCIRL over the years as well. So that’s what I’ll be talking about.
Rosie Bynum: All right. I like it. I’m looking forward to it, Jude and Ash. Justin, you are coming in as a moderator this year. Do you want to talk a little bit about your plans for Kira and Rob?
Justin Blackman: Yeah, so I actually got a chance to interview them way back, I think it was episode 100 of the podcast.
Kira Hug: Yes.
Justin Blackman: Which not everybody knows because I foolishly never introduced myself on that one.
Rosie Bynum: We’ll link it so everyone can check it out.
Justin Blackman: But I’m excited because I was thinking about this the other day, and there was a specific question that I asked Kira that she weaseled out of, and that was… I remember this one. Kira, I asked you to order your favorite Starbucks order in the voice of Snuffleupagus.
Kira Hug: Right. You did. Yeah.
Justin Blackman: You weaseled out of it.
Kira Hug: And I will, again and again.
Justin Blackman: Well, you’re going to have to do in front of two other people.
Kira Hug: I don’t do voices, Justin. That’s your specialty, it’s not mine.
Justin Blackman: You have been prepared. You have six weeks to practice. I can send you clips.
Kira Hug: All right. All right. We’ll see. We’ll see. But no, we were excited that you said yes, Justin, to interviewing us. I mean, I personally feel like you know me well, you know Rob well. You’ve been with us from the beginning with The Copywriter Club, and so I do trust you to interview us. Now I trust you a little bit less.
Justin Blackman: There you go.
Kira Hug: We may need to rethink this.
Justin Blackman: Too late, it’s out.
Kira Hug: Yes. But I’m really looking forward to the questions you bring to the table.
Justin Blackman: Yeah. It’s going to be interesting.
Kira Hug: All right, so I want to focus more on the three of you for a couple minutes and talk about where you’ve been. Since we met together in San Diego, 2020, right, March 2020, before things went down, got a little crazy over the last few years, I just want to reflect and just hear a little bit more from the three of you as far as wins and struggles you’ve had over the last few years. And it may be more immediate. It could be over the last three to five years, whatever feels most relevant. But I want to hear from all of you. Again, just a win and a struggle over the last few years that you’d like to share with our audience just so we can all get to know you a little bit better too. Who wants to kick that off?
Jude Charles: I feel like I kind of cheated because I mentioned it a little bit. I’ll start with the loss. Is the burnout, I think. The one thing I didn’t mention is that I had been in burnout and didn’t realize it for so long. That was a loss for me in 2020, just realizing it and then coming to a halt and realizing I had to take time off. But a big win that came from that has happened recently is that I launched my first book. I had been writing books since I was eight years old but never published them, and so Dramatic Demonstration is my first book that I launched recently. And that’s a big win for me because because I went through burnout, I almost didn’t want to launch it. I felt like I was done with my career and done with the work that I was doing. And luckily, instead I launched it February 2nd, and so as of this recording, it is out and that’s been a big win for me. And so yeah, that’s a loss but a win at the same time.
Kira Hug: And congrats. Yeah, that is a huge congrats. Very exciting. And just to go back to the burnout, do you feel like the burnout was caused… Sounds like it was happening before we even hit pandemic. It was from that previous year.
Jude Charles: Yeah.
Kira Hug: What do you feel like was leading up to the burnout? What caused the burnout?
Jude Charles: I know now that I felt trapped by production. I make the bulk of my money through production. We’ve talked a little bit about this on the podcast, I like to think in 10 year blocks. But I’ve been doing this 15 years, and after the 10-year mark, I couldn’t figure out where I would go next or what I wanted to do next. Video production specifically was never an end game for me, but I felt trapped because I make 80 to 90% of my money through production. And so, I didn’t understand how to pivot. Even when I hired coaches, I didn’t understand how to communicate that as well.
And so that’s what led to the burnout. I think how I finally realized it in 2020 is that while everyone else had time off, I was still traveling. I was still working with Stefan and another client, Danielle. I was like one of maybe five people on a plane and I was resenting everyone else that was at home. And so that’s when I started to realize it. But I think that’s what led to it, is I felt trapped by video production. Yeah, recently I’ve made a lot of different moves to get out of burnout. I’m still very much living it, but I understand it better in order to make different decisions, and I no longer feel trapped by doing video production.
Kira Hug: You’ve evolved and created these new offers, the book, and you’re shifting into a new role in your own business too. Can you share, Jude, just what advice you’d give to someone listening who may also be feeling that burnout?
Jude Charles: Yeah, I think the very first thing you have to do, and it sounds simple but it was something I struggled with for a long time, you just got to admit it. You have to admit that you’re actually going through burnout. But the second thing is asking for help. Like Kira mentioned, I created other offers and I had to change the story that’s in my head, the story that was in my head at the time, that I couldn’t get out of production. What’s interesting, as I think back at it now, the very first TCCIRL, the reason that I showed up there is because I was already thinking about how do I transition out of production. Again, never really did it, never took the step. It’s coming to these events, coming to TCCIRL that opened my mind to the world of copywriting and what was available.
But what I had to do was the real work of realizing what I was going through and then what do I need to do to change it, trying out different things and just being willing to bet on myself. I think over the years I get into a place where I was afraid to take risk. It sounds cliche, but the only way to get out of your comfort zone is to take risk, is to step outside of your comfort zone, it is to talk with different people, to meet different people, and find out what you can do. Find out what’s possible. And so, that is what has helped me get out of burnout, it is having different conversations, being open about what I was going through. It’s ironic that more and more times I talk about the burnout that I’m experiencing, there’s others who are experiencing it and didn’t realize what they were going through. That’s been helpful too, to know that my burnout has purpose. And so, yeah, that’s all the different things that I’ve done to continue to grow out of the burnout that I’m currently in.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I like that, bet on yourself. That’s a good way of approaching it. Justin or Ash, do either of you want to share wins and struggles?
Ash Chow: Yeah. So, over the last couple of years my business has grown incredibly dramatically. I think I definitely owe a lot of that to just finding out about The Copywriter Club and you Kira and Rob in general. I remember 2020 was the first time I even heard of The Copywriter Club, thanks to a Facebook ad, and that led to me joining the Accelerator in late 2020. And back then, I barely had a business. I had no idea what systems and processes were. I didn’t know what my X factor was or the fact that I needed one and all of those things. I remember thinking at the time that it was going to take me forever to build a legit business that I loved and that would support me full time. I always thought I was going to be this starving artist and people were like, “You were wrong to not pursue law and all of that.”
But then thanks to surrounding myself with amazing mentors and even the community that you facilitated, I was able to create a really strong and solid foundation for my business that I’ve been able to grow and build upon. And then even in the last year, so 2021, my visibility and authority have definitely grown heaps beyond what I expected. Again, this time last year, we were prepping and about to do TCC and IRL. I thought it was going to be forever until I got to work with dream clients and until I got to speak on stages or be invited onto podcasts for my expertise, but that happened a lot more this past year. And then now it’s really cool to be the one that’s going to be speaking on stage.
So that’s super cool. I think a big lesson I learned there and something I definitely want to impart to listeners is not to underestimate what can happen and how much can change within the span of a year. So, if you are listening and you’re like, “I don’t even know how I’m going to get to where I want to go,” just, yeah, don’t underestimate what can happen.
But with all of that growth, like what Jude shared, there’s also been a lot of burnout there as well. I’m really glad that Jude brought it up because it’s also something I’ve been low key wrestling with. Because when you are like growing, when you are making lots of moves and gaining momentum, if you don’t take out the proper time to rest, then it can creep up on you a lot faster than you realize, and even unknowingly. The last half of 2021 was a big, big… It was huge for me, again, in terms of like growth. But because I didn’t take the time to pause or sit down and reflect, it felt like I was like leapfrogging from one milestone to the next. And then by the time I go to the end of the year, my legs were like so tired. It was like, “I don’t want to move anymore.” For me, that manifested as apathy. I remember not really caring about what was next, not caring about whether I was going to land anymore clients or how much I was going to make that month or in future months. I think that was a big sign that like, “Oh, okay, I better ask for help. I better talk to folks about it, and I better try and carve out more time for intentional rest.”
I think the way I’ve been able to move slowly out of that was, again, asking for help but also taking the pressure off of myself. I remember, again, reaching back out to the community and talking to some trusted mentors and them saying to me, “You don’t have to be so hyperfocused on what you’re going to be making each month, for example.” Because that was something I was really fixated on. But then to hear someone give me permission or say like, “It’s much better to focus on how much you’re making over a quarter instead of always just month to month,” that felt so much better. I think a metaphor I like to use is seasons, there’s a season for everything. There’ll be a season for immense growth and big moves and all of that. But then there’s also going to be a season that’s a lot slower and it’s for more rest and maybe not as much is going to be happening externally, but internally, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes that it’s all going to contribute to your growth and your becoming. So that’s just a snapshot of what’s been happening just literally the last two years.
Jude Charles: Ash, did you just say don’t estimate what could happen in a year, right?
Ash Chow: Don’t underestimate, yeah, what can happen in a year.
Jude Charles: What I love about that, when I showed up to TCCIRL 2018, I was just a guest. I paid my ticket to be in the room. 2019, I spoke on stage, and it was 2019, because I showed up in the room 2018, 2019 was my very first time speaking on such a large stage. But what happened after that was that as of today, as of this recording, I have been featured on 57 different podcasts. That would not have happened had I not showed up in the room at TCCIRL. I give Rob and Kira the credit each and every time that I talk to them, but I want to say it publicly. Being in the room at TCCIRL, showing up in the room, even though I didn’t have it figured out, is what created the other opportunities for me.
And so, when Ash says don’t underestimate what could happen in a year, it’s true. There’s a lot that could happen in a year, but it requires you to show up to be in the room, to have the relationships, to have the conversations, to even open yourself up to what could happen in a year. I just wanted to quickly mention that because it’s because of TCCIRL… I am an introvert, I don’t like public speaking at all, but yet 57 different podcasts, quite a few workshops, it’s because of TCCIRL, it’s because of Rob and Kira. Not only I was willing to bet on myself, but they were willing to bet on me too, and I will forever be grateful for that.
Kira Hug: And you bet on yourself 57 times. I love that.
Jude Charles: Yes.
Kira Hug: All right, Justin.
Justin Blackman: Yeah. We’ll start on a positive note here. As far as the win, so I know when you asked me at the beginning about like what I am or who I am or what-
Kira Hug: When you said you were a hot mess, yeah.
Justin Blackman: Yes.
Kira Hug: Yes.
Justin Blackman: Which is partially true. But the other side of that coin is that I really do know exactly who I am. I am a brand voice expert. Hold on, let me say that again. I am a brand voice expert. I’ve worked with A-level clients. I get recognized as an expert in my space. I have a couple of very successful courses, and I’ve built a pretty great career for myself. So I really do have the confidence in my abilities. Yeah, my brand is kind of messy, but that’s okay. I embrace that, and I really am happy with it and I’m confident with it. I’ve got that friend-at-the-bar type attitude, and that’s part of my personality and I’ve learned to lean into that, and makes me accessible. I’m okay with that. It made me realize that what I thought were flaws were features, and it’s given me the confidence to move forward both personally and professionally.
There’s a lot of that came from being in the room with the right people, being on stage two years ago at TCCIRL, still having people come up to me or email me about how my talk resonated with them about embracing constraints and giving them permission to work within their box rather than look outside. That’s been great. I love the fact that that’s had the impact on people, but it’s also made me understand who I am and what my value actually is. So that really carried me forward over the last two years.
On a personal note, it’s also been a rough couple of years because there’s been just pure isolation. I haven’t really gotten a chance to see my friends. I’ve definitely spent a lot of time alone, which has, to echo everybody else, a lot of burnout. And as Jude said, it’s important to recognize it. I’m kind of going through it now, and I didn’t recognize it until recently. So I cannot tell you how excited I am to get back in the room with the people that charge my batteries and just give me that chance to move forward and remember who I am and see the people who I understand and who understand me and who give me the confidence to move forward.
Rosie Bynum: I love that. I know so many people are dealing with that and have been dealing with it, like Jude even before the pandemic, but it certainly brought it to light more. I agree, that’s the thing I really look forward to most about IRL is how I feel recharged after going to that event. I would ask if there’s anything that you haven’t mentioned yet that you’d like to share about why people should go to IRL or maybe why people should not wait to buy a ticket since we only have about five weeks left. Any thoughts? Anything you’d like to share?
Justin Blackman: Kira, can I tell my story about the first year, about helping when I was packing the goody bags?
Kira Hug: Of course, yeah.
Justin Blackman: Well, I was under a non-disclosure for two years on that. But I guess I did tell it out here.
Rosie Bynum: I haven’t heard this story. What is it?
Justin Blackman: It was at the first TCCIRL in New York. I had gotten in a little bit early and I just asked Kira, “Hey, do you need help with anything?” And she said, “Yeah, we are running behind and I’ve got to pack all of the gift bags. Everything’s up in my room. If you’re free and you’ve got some time, would you mind packing all this stuff?” So I said, “Sure, no problem.” So I went, I was in the room, and there was just boxes everywhere, like tons and tons of boxes. There were books. There were pamphlets, there were leaflets, there were inserts. There was everything that was in the swag bags that everybody got at TCCIRL. I packed those. I think there was 150 of them. So-
Kira Hug: Yeah, I didn’t help you. I think I was just frazzled and just doing laps around the room feeling very anxious and you packed all of them, so thank you again for that.
Justin Blackman: You are welcome. I was just happy just to be helping a little bit. And then it took a little bit longer than we thought. And then you were like, “We need to be done by six o’clock because that’s when the speakers’ party starts, and that’s up here.” So I think we finished at like 5:58. I was like, “Cool. All right, we’re done. I got everything.” I think we threw everything in the closet and closed the door so nobody would see it. And then I was like, “Cool, I’ll get out of here because the speakers are going to be here any minute.” And you were like, “Hey, why don’t you just stick around?” I kind of said, “Okay.” And you’re like, “But don’t tell anybody.”
So, little by little, the speakers show up, and we’re talking Marcella Allison, Parris Lampropoulos, Joanna Wiebe, Ry Schwartz. Who else? Abby Woodcock. Just everybody that spoke, Kevin Rogers. So I am literally in a room with all the A-listers and all the VIPs and I’m not supposed to be there. I know that y’all say sometimes you feel like you’re not supposed to be in the room, I was literally not supposed to be in that room. But nobody knew that other than me and Kira. I start having a conversation with Joanna Wiebe who wound up inviting me to speak on a Tuesday tutorial. I met Abby Woodcock who is now my partner in Codex Persona. All the people who I literally was not supposed to be in the room with are now my colleagues and my friends. I mean, you want to talk about imposter syndrome, it’s never going to be stronger than what I had in that room, and now I actually belong in there.
Rosie Bynum: Thank goodness for our volunteers.
Justin Blackman: Yeah. So show up, get in the room, good things happen.
Rosie Bynum: Love it. Does anybody… Oh, there we go, go ahead, Ash.
Ash Chow: Yeah, just to add to that, I will say that if you are someone who is scared of coming because you don’t know anybody and you’re scared that you’re not going to make any friends, I think as Jude said earlier before, we’re all like this weird and socially awkward, introverted bunch. But I will say, copywriters have been the friendliest, most warmhearted, kind people ever, and I’m probably biased in saying that. But seriously, you can strike a conversation up with anybody, and because you already have that common interest and because all of us just have a genuine desire to connect with each other and to meet new people, you will be able to make friends no matter what. You’ll be able to walk away with a stronger connection. If I’ve been able to do it virtually across screens for the better half of two years, I can’t wait for what is going to happen in real life. So if you haven’t got a ticket yet and you want to avoid FOMO, definitely snap one up.
Kira Hug: I’m just going to jump in because I do think that as we talk about ourselves, we’re all a little harsh. Not just you, Ash, I have said this before that we’re introverted and we’re awkward, but also, we are some of the most empathetic people on this planet. And so that is our super power collectively. And so I think that’s why when you’re in this room, like, yeah, we’re all a little awkward sometimes, but we’re also so kind and compassionate and that’s why you’ll never be left in the corner alone because we’re copywriters and we’re sensitive souls and we won’t let you sit there alone. I’m just saying that because I think that we’re being overly critical of ourselves. We are awkward yet empathetic and compassionate and kind, and so that’s the room we want to be at a conference like this.
Jude Charles: Absolutely, yes.
Kira Hug: Jude, anything else you’d like to share?
Jude Charles: I’m going to do the copywriter thing even though I’m not a copywriter. So, where will you be a year from now? That’s all you have to ask yourself. Where do you want to be a year from now? Again, I said it earlier, coming out of this burnout, still climbing out of it, would not have been possible without TCCIRL. So, where do you want to be a year from now?
Kira Hug: All right. It’s a powerful question. Powerful question for you all to think about. We’re going to wrap with a final question or two. I’m going to actually throw two questions at the three of you and you can answer the one you feel compelled to answer, or you can answer both. The questions I have: how have you seen the copywriting and marketing landscape change over the last year? I’m just curious and I want to know your thoughts on that if you feel compelled to answer that question. The second one: why is 2022 the best time to be a small business owner working in this space? Justin.
Justin Blackman: As far as changes in the industry, I think a really noticeable one is just a humanity in writing that’s coming forward. People are getting less on that really strong conversion element, the persuasion, which can sometimes overlap into manipulation, I think. A lot of the empathy that you were mentioning before has seeped into the way that people launch. We’ve stopped using scarcity. We’ve stopped making people afraid. We’ve stopped relying on fear to get people to listen to us and to convert. We’ve really been more empathetic and talking about the true values and being kind to people and relating to them more as people with feelings and emotions rather than a wallet. And I think that’s been a fantastic change.
Jude Charles: Yeah. I agree with Justin, the humanity of it. I obviously come from a different world so I’m seeing it in a different angle, but I think people are more willing to show their faces on video now because of Zoom and the need for connection. And that’s the way we’ve had to do it the last two years. But I’m also seeing that in the form of stories, right? So stories that are now being produced through interviews that are being made through either a Google Meet or Zoom or Riverside or all these other platforms that have been created because of it. I think there is a level of humanity that comes from that.
The other thing that I’m seeing too is those who are having massive wins are those who have decided to go down a very specific niche and become consultants in that niche. What I mean by that, that means like if you’re a email copywriter, like you’ve gotten really good at pre-launch, storytelling, and being known for that, and I think I’m seeing copywriters and creative freelancers who are winning massively because they’ve decided to niche down. Doesn’t mean it’s the only work they do, but they’ve become known for that. I’ve seen Justin grow over the years where he wasn’t the brand voice expert and now he is and has gained massive wins. And I think that’s what I’m continuing to see over the years as I come into this industry new and not really knowing a lot about it. It’s between the humanity of writing, the humanity of video, but also the ones that are winning are people who have decided to go really deep on a topic, and so that’s what I’m seeing.
Kira Hug: Right. Thanks, Jude. And Ash?
Ash Chow: Yeah, for me, out there what the attitude was saying about more empathy-driven copy, more empathy-driven storytelling. Especially in the launch space, it’s less about making grand income claims, for example, and more thoughts on how is your marketing actually making people feel. We have a responsibility as marketers, as copywriters not to even retraumatize the audience or agitate their pain points so much that they feel like that they’re acting out of fear. But now we’re also thinking more what kind of transformation did your program or your digital product actually create for your customer, again, beyond just the income. How did it make them feel? What other gains are they making besides monetary gains? I’ve seen a lot more of that in the launch space.
And in terms of your second question about why 2022 is the best time to be a small business owner, I think there’s literally never been a better time to start. It’s so much more widely accepted now. There’s just so many more resources. I started thinking about working for myself maybe like in 2019-ish. At the time, whenever I would speak about it, people would look at me with pity, like, “Oh, oh, you want to be your freelancer? Oh, okay. Are you sure you’re going to make enough with that?” And so, I was just fielding a lot of self-doubt from myself and also from people thinking like, “Oh,” thinking again that being a business owner was about being a starving artist. But now I think the pandemic definitely contributed to that where it’s now widely accepted to do your own thing or to take control of your work and your career and your income to start something on the side. There’s obviously been the great recession. All of that to say now is always the best time to start and take action. So if you’ve been on the fence with wanting to go all in with your business or just starting, just do it.
Justin Blackman: Yeah. There are so many tools available that really just make everything so much more accessible that you don’t have those hurdles to overcome to really start a small business. People are craving that small interaction, that personal feel, that human touch. They don’t necessarily want to buy from big box stores and brands without faces behind them. They like the personal touch. They like when you buy a piece of art and it’s actually got a fingerprint on it rather than some perfect, polished piece. Those little one-of-a-kind elements and unique properties that used to be seen as a flaw are now what draws people to you.
Kira Hug: Well, that is a perfect note to end on. So, we want to give all of you a chance to share where our listeners can find you. We are going to link to podcast episodes because you’ve been featured on the podcast previously so listeners can check out your past episodes. But more immediately, where can listeners go to check you out, to bump into you, to chat? Let’s start with Jude.
Jude Charles: It’s funny you start with me because I’m notoriously not good at social media. So I’m going to name two places. Twitter. I’ve been spending a lot more time on Twitter. My name on Twitter is JudeCharles. And then the other place is just my website, judecharles.co. That is where I have the newsletter, the book. Connect with me. I think my number’s even on there, so connect with me through those two spots, my website or on Twitter.
Kira Hug: And Ash.
Ash Chow: Yeah, you can hang out with me on Instagram. I love it there, it’s ashchow, or you can also go onto my website at ashchow.com. If you scroll back a fair bit on my website, you can literally see my start into the business world as a blogger. So there are definitely some low-key cringey but good blog posts on there to get nostalgic over.
Kira Hug: Okay. And Justin.
Justin Blackman: I’m over at prettyflycopy.com. If you keep your expectations really low, you can follow me on Instagram, @prettyflycopy.
Kira Hug: Yeah, you post an Instagram once every month or so.
Justin Blackman: Something like that.
Kira Hug: Is that right?
Justin Blackman: Yeah, it’s usually just a funny t-shirt or a pair of socks or something like that.
Kira Hug: All right. Well, we appreciate all three of you jumping in here, giving us your time today to talk about TCCIRL and your businesses and the wins and the struggles that we can relate to. I’m excited to see all of you shortly in a couple of weeks and hang out with you. If you’re listening, you too can hang out with Jude, Ash, Justin if you join us in Nashville, Tennessee. We hope that you can make it. Thank you to all of you and thank you, Rosie, for being a co-host today.
Rosie Bynum: You’re welcome. Looking forward to seeing everybody as well.
That’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Miller. If you liked what you heard, be sure to head over to Apple Podcasts to leave us a review.
Kira Hug: If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out episode 216 with Justin Blackman about nailing brand voice and episode 217 with Jude Charles about dramatic demonstration of proof. Then coming up next week for episode 280, we interview Ash Chow and we’ll hear the exact moment that we ask her to speak at TCCIRL 2022. If you’re interested in joining us at this big event, we’ll link all the info you need in the show notes at thecopywriterclub.com/tccirl-2022. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.