For the 235th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, we’re joined by Jill Wise. Jill is a brand and marketing strategist, conversion copywriter, and business coach. As much as she’s dedicated to her craft and her clients, she’s also driven to create an authentic online presence. Pushing through the noise and the “rules” of what she’s supposed to do online, she’s been able to showcase who she truly is and attract clients who align with her same brand values. Don’t miss this episode all about being more YOU in a crowded space while serving your clients at the maximum level. In this episode, we dive deep into:
• Going from a side-hustle to full-on copywriter.
• How to break the rules the RIGHT way and feel great about it.
• Creating a safe space for clients and allowing open communication right from the discovery call.
• The step-by-step process of a white-glove experience and making sure your clients are supported every step of the way.
• Why an automated system can be a great addition to your business and enhance your workflow and respect your boundaries.
• 3 tips to enhance productivity and getting your ideal schedule defined.
• How to shift mindset from freelancer to business owner and what it will do for your business.
• The question: Should you give your client a to do list?
• The truth about showing up online and finding your true voice
• The secret to building discipline—no, it’s not a trait you’re born with
• The ins and out of solving problems and finding real solutions for clients
• When something doesn’t work… how to reframe, reevaluate, and get back out there
• Why you should add other skills to your repertoire
• How to properly evaluate competitors—mimic or do better?
• When you get the advice to “dumb yourself down…” run!
Whether you’re a new freelance copywriter or an established business owner, you’ll gain new insights and ideas on how to project your own business forward. Click the play button below to listen, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kira: Does this ring a bell for you? You see what everyone else in the copywriting world is doing. You hear what clients expect and you even get advice from a coach that you need to act just like everyone else to get the thing you want. The game’s got rules and if you don’t play by them, you’ll stay on the bench. That’s what Jill Wise, Think Tank mastermind member and our guest for the 235th episode of the Copywriter Club Podcast was told. Play nice, dumb things down, don’t rock the boat, or you won’t attract the clients you want. But something was off and recently, Jill decided to ignore that advice and be more true to who she is. And in this interview, she revealed her new brand transformation with us.
Rob: Before we share what Jill told us, this podcast episode is brought to you by the Copywriter Think Tank. That’s our private mastermind for copywriters and other marketers who want to challenge each other, create new revenue streams in their business, receive one on two coaching from the two of us, and ultimately grow to six figures or more. If you’ve been looking for a dynamic mastermind to help you grow as a copywriter and as a business owner, visit copywriterthinktank.com to set up a short information session or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Kira: The Copywriter Think Tank will help you figure out a lot of the same stuff we cover in this interview with Jill; things like client boundaries, creating better processes and figuring out what your brand stands for. Now, let’s jump into our conversation with Jill Wise.
Jill: I graduated university and my husband is a few years older than me, we were dating at the time and he moved to Montreal and I did the thing, moved to be with him too. But I can’t speak French and he can, and it’s a French speaking city and you’re not supposed to be able to work in most places unless you can speak French too. So I had to figure out how I was going to actually make money. Of course I had that Carrie Bradshaw vision that a lot of us have thinking that I was going to live in a cool city and have cool shoes and this cute boyfriend and get to write all these stories, but it didn’t exactly work out that way because my first gig was writing 500 words for $25.
And even though I was freelancing, I still had to get a job working in the kitchen of a vegan restaurant. And I was the head chef flipping falafels at the time. Obviously things got a lot better from there. We ended up leaving Montreal so that I could have an easier time working, and we moved out west to Calgary. That’s where I found the editor who started giving me writing gigs for his branding agency. And after doing a few of these like landing pages and SEO blog posts and all that sort of thing, he said, “Hey, Jill, did you know that you’re a copywriter?” That’s when I Googled it and shortly after decided to go back to university to study marketing and public relations because I felt like I needed a little bit more than my English degree to feel confident going all in on this.
Rob: So, Jill, what did you think you were before you knew you were a copywriter?
Jill: Just a freelance writer, a starving freelance writer trying to figure it out. That was part-time and I was also bartending and serving the other part of the time while we were at West.
Rob: Okay, cool. Tell us a little bit more about that first project. How did you get it? 500 words, $25. Where did you go? How did you land it? What did you do to pitch or how did that actually come into your world?
Jill: I had been living in Montreal for the summer and I did not work. I had to finish up half credit in that time and I figured it would just be my time to take a break because I had a tendency to overwork myself, which I still do. So while I was in university, I was working like 30 hours in a bar bartending and had a full course load and all of that. So I wanted 18 months to just take a break and figure out what to do. So at the end of that time, when my money that I’d saved for myself was running out, I made a list of all of the publications that were English speaking in the Montreal area and I sent all of them an email asking them to let me work for them. One replied and said, “You can write about this.”
I think it was about a Comic-Con kind of thing or a Halloween kind of thing. Something would dress up, I had to write about it. I’d never been to anything like that before and after I sent it off, I was like, okay, now, how do they get paid? They told me to send me an invoice and I had to Google that too. So that’s how I got the first one. And then they started sending me a few more. And from there I used that experience to pitch to a couple other gigs and ended up finding a decent one writing for the Yellow Pages, that was pretty cool. And it sort of just snowballed from there, went better one after another.
Kira: When you went back to school, I think you said you studied communication going back to school?
Jill: It was marketing and PR.
Kira: Okay, marketing and PR. What did you learn during that time studying marketing and PR that you feel like has been really useful as you’ve built your business more recently?
Jill: It was actually kind of cool because they had copywriting classes in the program that I took. So that’s where I got a lot of the formal training on, I guess, the formulas that we were supposed to follow. There was a copy editing class. So my grammar is always on point now. So that’s where I learned the basics of those and the professors were actually practicing in the real world. So we got a lot of knowledge from them too. So I’d say almost everything that I learned there was useful and everything else that I’ve done since then.
Rob: As you talk about the formulas that you learned as part of that process, do you have a favorite formula?
Jill: No, not really. I mean, I feel like they didn’t teach us in the way that it’s talked about online. It was slightly different. I have the copywriter’s handbook and all of those sorts of things, but it wasn’t like, “Oh, memorize this formula and then you do it.” It was just the general way to approach copy because of course it’s different learning from how we learn online versus a formal university setting. So I wouldn’t say there’s a specific formula that I follow all the time. I kind of don’t really follow all of the rules. I don’t know. I know that I do, but I just kind of go with what feels right when I’m writing copy, if that makes sense. And I’ve come up with ways that I want to do things as well. It sounds like I’m the worst copywriter ever, breaking all the rules.
Kira: You are the rule breaker copywriter. Let’s just fast forward to where you are in your business today. There was clearly a lot that happened after the Yellow Pages gig to get you where you are, but what does your business look like today? What are you working on? What type of packages do you have? What are you excited about today?
Jill: I’m excited about a lot of things. Right now people usually work with me starting with their brand messaging and their brand strategy. So we nailed that down first, come up with their brand guide and then they usually move into website copy. But the way that I write websites isn’t just to write pretty words. I write them to become actual lead generation tools for them to get more clients. So within those, we often end up talking about their pricing and their offers and their services guides and their proposals and how the lead is going to come from other channels onto their website and then onto their calendar.
So yes, I write website copy, but it’s like this cohesive ecosystem for their people to come to them. And then from there, we’ll start talking about different marketing channels that work for them. So that’s where I’ll get them set up with their social media strategy or their email sequences or their blog content, whatever it is that they need. Again, breaking rules, not meeting for these things and just giving my clients what they need. And of course, if I don’t feel like I can do it, then I won’t do it. But I have a broad understanding of marketing in general. So there’s a lot of things that I can help them out.
Rob: I’d love to dig in more into your process starting with a brand strategy. Talk us through that. If I’m coming to you as a client, how do you approach the project? What are the things that you’re asking me or getting from me in order to help me establish a killer brand strategy?
Jill: It’s very reflective and my clients are always shocked by that. I ask them a lot about what their goals are and make them tell me what the crazy wild goals are and what they want their people to feel like and what they want to feel like and what the perception is that they want people to have of their brand. So we go really into who they are as a person and then separating them out of their business so that we can start thinking about their business as its own entity so they can kind of look into it from the outside. It’s very reflective at first. There’s of course the questionnaire. Then my questionnaire is very long. It takes people awhile. But I really want to know a lot about them and I do my homework there. Like I said, we talk about their services and their offers and how that’s all going to fit in. Often I help them around that.
And then we have a two-hour kickoff call, which sometimes ends up being three hours to be honest just because there’s so much to talk about and I really like to get to know my people, and they fill in all the blanks. They tell me, honestly, some really personal things in that time. We really get close and get to know each other so that I can understand what they want from their business and what they want from their life so that I can actually help them make that happen. Like every time I’m doing something for somebody, it’s not just so that I have another project and I can write some copy. I want to help them grow their business to that next spot and do whatever I can to get there. So I have to know a lot about them.
Rob: It sounds like you and Kira have similar like starting processes or brand strategy processes.
Kira: Yeah. I was just thinking the same thing. It sounds very like you create a safe space for them to get vulnerable and share stories they might not normally share with other professionals or service providers and you’re creating that space for them to do it. So, can you talk a little bit about that because that’s not an easy thing to do, especially over three hours, and to create that instant bond and connection and trust in a kickoff call, especially when you’re just starting to work with someone new. So, other than some innate qualities that you probably have, are there any tricks or anything that other copywriters could do to help open up or help their clients open up to really figure out what they really want and create the space for them to share it?
Jill: I think it starts from my marketing. I think it just starts from that moment. On a discovery call, I tell them that whatever they say is just between me and them. And I start to ask those questions. I only work with people who we personally click. Even if the project seems cool, if we’re not vibing on a call, then I won’t go for it because I know how personal it is and how much time we’re going to spend together that if it’s not a good fit that way, then it’s not going to work out well. So often when we get to the first call, they’re excited and also my onboarding process makes them feel really supported. It doesn’t feel like we’re just meeting at that time. It’s like an extension and we’re kind of becoming friends in that moment. And honestly, people cry during these calls. They’ve told me some pretty cool things and it’s amazing, but I don’t… I think it’s the whole process, not just what you can say in that call. It’s the support that I give them from the moment that they first make contact with me.
Kira: Yeah. No, that makes sense. What specifically about the onboarding process, what have you done really well to create that comfort and trust? Because a lot of copywriters struggle with onboarding too, and they aren’t making those connections. So what are you doing well in that space?
Jill: I’ve automated a lot of it, but I call it out that it’s automated so that they know, and I make it clear that the reason why it’s automated is so that I can better serve the clients that I’m actually talking to at that time. So, somebody fills out my contact form on my website and they get an automated email right away with my services guide. And in that email, it says, “Hey, this is automated so that I can do my job better elsewhere.” Then it asks them if they want to book a call and if they don’t right away, then I’ll follow up with them personally. The language that I use in it is just very friendly and welcoming. Then when we’re on the discovery calls, I ask them what their big goals are and what their dreams are, and they often tell me.
And then when they’re onboarding, like they’ve signed, paid, or I guess it kind of includes the proposal as well. My proposals are really thorough, map out the entire process so they know exactly what to expect. They’re detailed. And then once they’ve signed, paid, they get set up with an automated sequence there too that’s, “Welcome. Hey, how are you? Here’s your client portal. Here’s what I need from you.” Their client portal, I get to assign them password. So I make those passwords something that feels a little bit more personal so that they know that I’m listening to them. So if they like tell me their dog’s name, that’s what their password is going to be. Or if they tell me what their big goal is, or something like that. So I think those little signals to them, like I’m listening to you, help too.
I just kind of guide them through all of it. My questionnaire isn’t just a questionnaire. There’s a bit of a blurb of what they need to do with it and how to reach me if they need any help. And yeah, they just feel like they can ask me lots of questions and they do ask me lots of questions and I tell them that I’m there to be a partner in helping them get the results that they want because when they get results, then my business gets results and everybody wins.
Rob: That’s always a good thing. This is maybe an odd question. It might even be a question that doesn’t really have an answer, but as you go through this whole process and get to know people, you gain personal friend, all of those details, do you have a process or a way to know then that like what are the details that you pull out of that that you’re going to reflect in your copy and how do you know which things ought to stay private when they’ve shared such deep things and maybe some emotional things whenever like… How do you sort what you want to share with the world from what you want to keep private?
Jill: I feel like that’s intuitive. I don’t know, after I’ve looked at so many different websites over the years and so many different brands, but it’s partially them and partially their audience. So we’ll see what audience wants to see. I look at their competitors and what their competitors are and aren’t seeing. And good places to find things are where nobody else will talk about it. Or if their audience feels like they’re missing something or is looking for something specific, or usually there’s something that they’re like, okay, I kind of want to share this but I’ve been scared too, so I’ll try to encourage them to go in that direction if it seems like it’s going to be strategic. So it’s not just putting out all of the dirty laundry, but positioning it in a way that makes sense for them and what they want to get out of it.
Kira: Can we talk about the automations because I know you do that really well and not all of us have those automations set up. For someone listening who’s like, “Oh, wow, I want to set up these automations and do this really well, the onboarding process really well.” Jill, how could they approach it or what are some basic steps to start moving in that direction.
Jill: First you have to think about your process and so that it will be easy for you, but also easy for your clients. I don’t like to have to send them multiple different emails with multiple different directions for them to go in. I try to streamline it for them as much as possible and make them feel supported and just easy because often writing copy is hard. Building a business is hard. So they need something to cut them a break. So I do everything I can to make that feel really easy for them. Even if it feels like maybe I’m overexplaining, I’ll do it anyways because they often thank me for that or that track record in their emails.
So yeah, thinking about what you need in order to make your life easier, but also for your clients and then mapping out the entire process start to finish for your entire workflows. And often I know the struggle is that people think if they haven’t taken a project of a certain type before, maybe there isn’t a process. I know that I thought at the beginning that I couldn’t systemize anything because everything was different. But when you look at it from this bird’s eye view, then you see that there’s similarities and there’s trends and there’s ways that everybody is different. There’s ways to approach it in a way that we can save time while also making it easy for them and that bird’s eye view really helps.
Kira: Just to dig in a little bit more. So the overexplaining part, what are you speaking to specifically? What should we maybe overexplain that most of us aren’t overexplaining at all?
Jill: These are things that I’m just learning that other people don’t do. But for example, they get onboarded and they get that welcome email that says, “Hey, I’m so excited. Step one, go book your first kickoff call for any time after this date. Go fill out this questionnaire. Go do this.” Like just mapping out every single step for them rather than saying, “Here’s your portal, go inside and find out.”
Another thing is that I just learned that not everybody gives directions for their copy reviews like for something off drafts. I know this isn’t exactly onboarding, but in the draft stage, I have a one-page write that explains how to review what my direction was for the copy. What good feedback is, what bad feedback is, how long they have to review, all of those sorts of things. And then it says, “Go book your call here too.” So just mapping out all of those details that in the beginning they would maybe ask me what’s next. So instead of anyone asking me, no one never asks me what’s coming next now. I just proactively tell them what I need from them in order to make it successful.
Rob: What tools do you use, Jill, to do all of this client portal? What’s the automation look like?
Jill: I used Dubsado. It’s definitely a beast to set up, so I had help setting it up, but when it is set up, it works really well. So that would be the main tool. Otherwise, I don’t really use anything. I don’t have a project management or anything like that. My tasks are outlined in my workflows that are automated in Dubsado. Some of them are ones that I actually have to action on, some of them are ones that happen automatically. But other than Dubsado, I just live by my Google calendar and time blocking everything in there. So when someone books with me, I block off that time in my calendar and work off of those.
Kira: Can we talk about ongoing client communication, because I mean, we’re honing in on this because you do all of this really well. And so beyond the automations, or maybe this is automated too, are you checking in with your clients every week, twice a week? What does that look like? You’re giving them all the information they need, so that’s taken care of, but what else are you doing beyond kind of the set path that you’ve created in Dubsado?
Jill: I think my projects are a little bit shorter than a lot of others. I usually try to get them in the four or five weeks and I do fewer at once so that they don’t really need the weekly formal check-in because I’m going to be emailing them multiple times throughout the week anyways trying to get things that I need or booking calls. So I talk to them almost every week anyways, whether that’s on a call or an email, but there’s no formal, “And on Fridays you get this.” So I guess how it looks is like the first week is research and that’s kickoff call. And then the second week, the strategy. We’re finalizing that, they’re approving it. Maybe we have another call at that point too. Sometimes if we’ve already done everything that we need in the kickoff call, then we’ll have room for another consult in the middle.
Jill: So that’s where people often ask me about their offers and their pricing or their social media or all of these other things that I help them with. They’ll get consults in the meantime. Then I write for the third week and we work through revisions in the fourth week and do the wrap-up consult at the end. And so they have the chance though to get on my calendar up into their allotted times whenever they need throughout there. So if they just have a challenge that they’re working on, then they’ll say, “Hey Jill, can we talk this week?” And I’ll send them a 30 minute scheduler. It doesn’t need to be so formal with the check-ins because we’re constantly communicating anyways.
I also give all of my clients to-do lists so that they can tell me when all of these things are done. And some of it has to do with things that I need from them and other things are just on their own list that they need the accountability for. So everybody gets a to-do list in Google Drive and they take me when they need feedback on something, so they’re just constantly talking to me, I guess. So they don’t need the formalities.
Rob: I like the to-do list idea. That’s kind of cool. You mentioned that you live in your calendar, Jill. Tell us a little bit more about that. And I think specifically, last week you shared a tip in the Think Tank retreat about how you have this ideal calendar that you’re always mapping your weeks to. Talk about that process and how you map out your week so that you get things done.
Jill: I live and breathe by time blocking and if it’s not in my calendar, it’s not going to happen. My friends know this now, so they’ll email me calendar invites to my work email if they want to hang out with me. My husband knows this and he’s synced up. We’ve synced up our calendar for the house to my work one to. So if he wants to do something, like we have date night tomorrow, so that’s in the calendar so that I know I cannot do any work tomorrow night. It’s planned down to the minute. Within that though, the idea of calendar is something that I came up with last fall when I realized I was really overworking, and again, had not set my rates appropriately. So I looked at what I wanted my week to actually look like, mapped that out and created a different calendar. You know how you can toggle it on and off in Google.
So I created another calendar and then used that to set up what my offers would be going into this year and what my time would look like going into this year, and use that to plan out my week so that I can kind of check myself. I’ve also figured out what hours I do the best writing and what hours I’m best for meetings and when I want to be working on the business versus on clients. So it’s all in the calendar and I use that when I’m planning it out. And I usually plan my time out a couple of weeks in advance, and then I leave the windows open for clients to pop in or a few spots for anything last minute that comes up, but it’s all in there.
Rob: Will you give us maybe like a sample day or two? What do those blocks look like? Starting at getting up in the morning, I know you’ve got workout and all that stuff, but what does your ideal day look like?
Jill: It depends on the day of the week, but I wake up at 5:00 AM almost every day. If I’ve worked late, then I usually work late knowing that I’m going to sleep in the next day, give myself a break, but I won’t just sleep in arbitrarily. I have to know that that time that would be for something else is actually allotted to a different slot. Usually I wake up at 5:00 AM. I do my morning routine until about 6:00; reading, writing, just trying to wake up and having quiet time before checking in on the world. Then I do my focused work between 6:00 and 9:00-ish where I don’t really answer emails or DMs or anything like that. I just get into what it is that I need to be doing that day.
On Mondays, that’s my own marketing. So writing my email, my own blogs, socials, like whatever stuff has to be done for myself. And then I’ll usually work out mid-morning, have breakfast around 11:00 or 12:00 and then get back into work for the afternoon. And the afternoon is usually meetings or little pieces. Like I spent a lot of time in my inbox today because it’s Monday. I need to catch up with everybody and what they need from me. But on Tuesday, for example, there’s no client meetings, no meetings at all on Tuesdays. So I spend the whole day just trying to get through as much client work as possible. But then on Wednesdays and Thursdays is when I have client meetings from noon to 4:00, then I’m going to be doing a little bit of client work between that 6:00 and 9:00 AM time too probably.
Kira: What advice would you give to copywriters who are struggling with time management, with productivity, who aren’t naturally gifted in that area and have not mapped out their day? Or maybe they’ve tried to do it and they’ve struggled, like it just has fallen apart. They didn’t plan it out well or they just weren’t following it. Do you have any tips that could help them figure it out so the system works for them?
Jill: I think it comes back to knowing why you want to have that structure. I’m not gifted in it. I just need it to survive. It’s if I don’t have it in my calendar, I won’t remember it, I’ll feel frazzled. Nothing will get done. Like I just, I feel anxious on edge all day. So I know that this is what I need in order to get what I want. And beyond that, I know what I want. So first knowing what you want and the person you want to be and the life that you want to have, and then mapping it backwards. So if I want to hit my goals, well, then I need to make sure that I have three hours of focused work today. It’s like taking it from that big picture and bringing it right back down. That would be tip number one, actually understanding where you want to go and why you want to have any sort of structure or routine and then mapping it back from there.
Tip number two is figuring out when you do your best work. I know that I do my best work in the mornings before noon, so I have to make that happen. Lots of people glorify the 5:00 AM club and doing your work in the mornings, but it doesn’t work for everyone and it doesn’t need to work for everyone. If you’re a night owl, that’s fine. Just put your focus work blocks on the evening. I also know that I want to spend evenings doing whatever I want. Hanging out with my friends, hanging out with my husband. And he has a regular day job, so he’s going to be done work at 4:30. So I try to make it so that I’m done work at that time too so that we have flexibility going into the evening. So yeah, just knowing when you do the best work and what your day-to-day lifestyle actually is and finding something that fits within there.
And then I guess the third one would be understanding that you can’t do it all. And this is one that I’m still working through. Things take time, and I always chronically underestimate how long things will take me, but I’ve gotten a lot better at this lately. But yeah, just being realistic with how long things are going to take you and how much time you actually need to set aside to do all of the things.
Rob: Let’s break in here just to talk about a couple of the things that Jill mentioned. Kira, I’m guessing there’s a bunch of stuff that stood out to you here, but there were a couple of things that really jumped out at me as well. One of the things that we hear quite a bit from people as we’ve been talking with over the last 235 episodes of the podcast is how many people start copywriting as a hustle and really trying to do it sort of as a side business. Getting started, maybe they’re a teacher or they’re doing something else and copywriting is this thing that they get to bolt onto and it really does take hustle to make it work. You’ve got to build your list, you’ve got to pitch and then you have to ladder up from client to client.
And as Jill described her experience doing that, I was just thinking, this is obviously a pattern that a lot of people do. And so it’s useful to hear her talk about that. And it might be useful for people to go back and listen to our interview with Bree Weber on episode 224. She talked a lot about her pitching process. And I believe the episode before her, 223, is Chris Collins talking about his pitching process. They’re both very different and may give people some ideas that they want to try as they do this building the list, pitching, and then laddering up from client to client. What stood out to you?
Kira: So many things. I think I love this conversation with Jill because there were so many details and little nuggets that we were able to jump into and get into the weeds with her because I think overall what she does feel similar to my process as well. But when I get into the weeds, she’s doing a lot of little things differently that I know I can pull into my own business and my own processes. And so, even just her perspective was just refreshing. Initially what stood out to me was just how she talked about building that trust and how that really happens on the discovery call, on the sales call. It’s not like it starts when they’ve already paid her and they’re on that initial kickoff call. It starts from the first moment they reach out to her.
And I think that was such a, it just, it stood out to me as a reminder that we set the tone from the beginning and it’s oftentimes through our own marketing before we even get on the sales call. And so the fact that she mentions when she’s on a sales call and lets her prospect know that they’re safe to talk about and share whatever they want to share because she’s not going to say anything. She says, “I tell them whatever they say is just between us.” And I think that’s just a really great way to set the tone and build trust and it probably helps her close more projects too because she’s able to establish that from the beginning and not just wait until they’ve officially paid her. So that was the first part that really stood out to me.
Rob: Yeah. I mean, she was talking about that. I agree with you. It’s a fantastic reminder that trust starts in the very beginning. It starts with the brand that you’re putting out into the world. The first place that the customer finds you, you’ve got to be on point and all the way through the process of bringing them in. And then of course it continues on as well. After they’ve paid, the trust-building doesn’t stop there because the project is started. In fact, it intensifies. She talked about some of the tools that she uses to automate those processes to create that personal touch. I think she’s obviously built that into her business and she’s very smart about it.
Kira: Yeah, definitely. I mean, she mentioned Dubsado. I don’t use Dubsado necessarily, but I think that’s a good tool to use to automate your onboarding process and to make sure that your client is taken care of. And I just, I like her thought process around onboarding and taking care of the client and really viewing the relationship like a partnership. And I think a lot of us say that, like, “Oh yeah, I’m partners with my clients and it’s a collaboration.” But the way that Jill’s created her processes, it really shows that she’s not just saying it. She actually is doing it. And in a lot of ways, she’s over-delivering too.
Kira: I mean, she includes, sounds like, multiple calls with her clients when they need support. She’s also offering business coaching where she gives them a to-do list and other tasks that fall outside of the typical copywriting project. And so a lot of these extra things she’s doing have really helped her build long-term relationships with her clients and stand out from everyone else who might not be doing that. And so to me, again, that stood out too just like, how can we really truly be partners and help our clients get that type of success that they want.
Rob: Yeah. As I heard Jill talking too about the website and the approach that she takes with her clients as far as building their website, it strikes me that she sees the website as a lead generation tool. That everything really comes down to that. When a customer comes to her for a website copy, the question she’s asking are all about solving problems and like how do I help my client get leads really, and it’s tied to the brand, it’s tied to the goals that she’s setting. And so she’s asking those questions, she’s starting to identify those problems that she can solve throughout the project, which I really liked.
Kira: It’s a good reminder that I think sometimes we limit ourselves, and I know I’ve done this before because we call ourselves a copywriter or we’re hired to do a project that’s brand strategy and copywriting or a sales page or whatever it is, whatever the deliverable is. And I think oftentimes I’ve just, I’ve stuck to those deliverables and forgotten that I can help in many more ways that really, other ways that don’t necessarily take more time or effort for me but could make a big difference for that client.
Kira: And so what Jill has done is just proven that you can break the rules. You don’t just have to be a copywriter. You can show up as a problem solver and a consultant, and even just take more ownership in that partnership and even more control, because I do see where it could be daunting for some copywriters to give a client a to-do list. Who am I to give a to-do list to this business owner who’s been in business for 10 years? But Jill’s done it and it’s clearly working well for her. So it’s something for all of us to consider.
Rob: You mentioned that Jill uses Dubsado. We had a discussion about tools and processes at our recent NIRL event. Somebody made the comment that the best tool to use is the tool that you’re going use. It might’ve been Erica Macaulay or Daniel Lamb that said that, but it’s not really about Dubsado or ClickUp or whatever the tool is that you use. If it doesn’t match your process, it’s not a good tool. And so once you define your process, then find the tool that supports that and use it.
Kira: And what did you think about Jill talking about her time management and how she runs her calendar? I know this is something that she’s talked about in a Think Tank. We also brought her in to talk about it at TCC(N)IRL this year. What really has helped you, if anything, around time management from Jill?
Rob: Yeah. The idea of the ideal calendar, setting up in advance what times you’re going to be working on a certain type of project. Monday is all about working on my business or Wednesday is about taking client calls, those kinds of things I think is a really smart thing to do because it creates the boundaries around your time and helps you to focus on the most important things. And like Jill said, if it’s not in her calendar, it doesn’t get done. That takes a measure of discipline to do, but I think it’s a really smart approach. It’s something that we’ve talked to Dave Ruel about on the podcast for an upcoming episode in some of the thing that he does and for an upcoming training that we’ve got coming in the Underground soon.
Kira: Yes. And are you one of those people, Rob, like similar to Jill, where you need it. If it’s not in the calendar, it’s not happening, or how do you work?
Rob: I use a combination of calendar and list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t happen. And then I try to figure out, okay, how does this fit into my calendar? So I’m kind of a midpoint, but I’m moving more and more towards getting it into the calendar so that I make sure that it’s there and it’s going to get done. How about you?
Kira: Yeah, I’m similar and I want to move more into the calendar model because I do think that works and I know it works, so why am I not doing it? But yeah, there’s room for me to improve in that area. As you know, that’s always been a struggle for me.
Rob: Yeah. For sure. I really like though what Jill said about time management. It’s not a gift, it’s not a personality trait. It’s not something that some of us are blessed with and other people aren’t. It’s a skill that you develop because you have to in order to survive, in order to get stuff done. It’s one of those things that I’m constantly working on and I think you are too. Listening to Jill talk about how she has managed this process gives me a lot of hope that I might be able to finally get it done myself.
Kira: Yeah. And I also love the three hours of focus time work that she has in the mornings. I think that’s so important. And like she says, it doesn’t have to be in the morning time. That doesn’t work for everyone. It could be the afternoon. It could be the evening. We’ve talked to so many copywriters on the show about when they do their best work. So it’s just important to have that focus time, whether it’s one hour or three hours or five hours, to have it in your schedule. And I think it’s really easy to lose it. I know I’ve lost that time at different stages. But you got to get it back too when it’s missing.
Kira: All right. Let’s go back to our interview with Jill and ask her about personal discipline and how she built that habit into her life.
Rob: Okay. All of these are really good tips and things that I’m thinking, okay, I need to do more of that. But there’s also this layer of personal discipline that comes in to make it all happen because it’s one thing to block out your calendar, it’s another thing to actually sit down and focus on the things that you blocked out instead of jumping into Instagram or maybe doing something else, or maybe working on less important things because it’s more fun than the more important things. So, do you have a secret to discipline that you’ve done it well, you’ve done it for so long, or what is the thing that makes you so good at discipline where others of us maybe fall down a little bit?
Jill: I know that Rob wants me to talk about my figure skating background.
Kira: I know. Can you tell he’s…
Rob: I wasn’t even going to mention it myself, but yeah. I am curious about it though because I think that it’s so many people talk about like the 5:00 AM thing or getting stuff done or time-blocking or whatever, but actually doing it is harder than just like, okay, I wrote it down, I’m going to do it. There is a discipline skillset.
Jill: Yeah. I think it’s just one of those things that I’ve always been like this, I’ve always done this and it comes from probably starting figure skating at the age of four and doing that all the way up until I was 20. Like I just had to wake up and do 6:00 AM practice because I wanted to be with the team and I wanted to do well in skating. And then after school, even in elementary school, Zuerlein was right next to my school. So I would take my skates to school and go straight over to practice a walk over with one of the teachers who would watch me walk over to the rink to make sure that I got there. And then my coach would say hi to me there, well, before my parents got there to watch.
Yeah, it’s just always been part of my life. You have to do these things. You have to try hard and if you don’t want it, then you’re not going to try. And that sounds really, I don’t know, opinionated, but that’s just what I grew up around. In the skating world, it’s skill and talent, but if you’re not going to put in the time, then you’re not going to get there. And I think that carries over to my business now.
I am working to understand where other people it might not just come easily because I know that sometimes I can be kind of abrupt like, well, if you want it, then you would do it. If you wanted to wake up and if you wanted to hit these goals, you would just do it. I don’t understand why people don’t just wake up and do it because for me there’s no question about it. It’s just something that you have to do. So that’s definitely come from years of skating. I also really liked getting good grades. So I would always, I would color code my homework and just like it carried through everything that I do. But I thought that was normal.
Kira: I want to shift a little bit and kind of go back to what we were talking about with giving your clients a to-do list. I can’t let this go because I think it’s really helpful. So I guess, how do you deal with boundaries and creating boundaries and space? Because it does sound like you are giving clients a good amount of access to you. It sounds like you’re doing a great job in helping them and jumping into the to-do list an ongoing support. What do you do to create those boundaries so that you are able to maintain that type of work dynamic?
Jill: I have a lot of rules for them and they start from the contract. There’s literally an entire page in my contract is dedicated to communication rules. So they can only communicate with me in those Google docs or an email about the project. Of course, if they’re following that on Instagram and they want to reply to a story or something, that’s fine, but they’re not allowed to talk about the project to me on social media. No clients have my phone number. I’m not on any other apps or voice messaging or anything like that. It’s just email and the Google docs. They know that I’ll reply to their comments and their emails within two business days within business hours.
I always break my own rules and will reply to them outside of that. It’s something that I’m working on, but it’s actually come to the point where most of my clients tell me to stop replying so fast and tell me to take a break. They just know that I give them so much that they really appreciate it. They can see that I’m going above and beyond, I think, and they thank me for it. I don’t really have to enforce that very often. It’s just like this mutual respect. But I think that comes from only working with people that I personally connect with. Very few people in the last year or so have ever abused that. The only one that did, I fired them pretty quickly. I’m strict on my boundaries and they know that, but they respect it and they are trying to get there too often.
Kira: Is the to-do list a template or is it personalized?
Jill: It’s basically just a chart in a Google doc and it says the task, any notes that I have for them and then whether it’s completed or not. So like a three column chart and they’ll tag me when they’re done with something if I need to look at it for them or if it’s something that I need. Otherwise they’re just working it on their own. They add in other notes. It’s pretty simple but it’s just the fact that we both have it. So it’s the accountability for them to get stuff done. And then also within my packages, because there’s the consulting aspect of it, they get unlimited email communication to me within the packages.
So if they send me a document and they’re like, “Hey, can you just look at this quickly to make sure that it looks good,” I’m going to review it. I don’t say no to them. I know that’s not technically included, but like I said at the beginning of all of this, I want them to do well. So if they’re sending me their services guide, because they’re going to do it themselves instead of having me do it, for example, then I’m going to review it and say, “Yeah, this looks good.” Or, “Hey, maybe we should talk about this in the next call.” So yeah, it’s pretty simple.
Kira: What is an example or two from your to-do list? I know we’re honing in on the to-do list, but is it just kind of like, it sounds like it’s a mixture of tasks that most of us are asking our clients to do. “Send this to me. I need to see this before I can start. Give me names of people to interview,” all those things. But it sounds like you’re doing maybe more than that, kind of more business coaching tasks. So can you just give us some examples?
Jill: Maybe one example would be a client has got, I think she said four times the amount of inquiries for her dropping consultations to get new clients. She’s a doggy daycare. She got four times the amount since her website launched last week into the… I guess that was the week before into this week. So with that, she didn’t have a scheduler set up and we’re working on another project right now. So one of her tasks for me that we were going to work through together was her actually setting up her scheduler. Or another client needed to set up her email marketing platform and choose which one. So I sent her some resources so that she could choose which one. And the task was to set up that marketing platform, even though we weren’t doing anything to do with emails yet. It was just so that she could get a waitlist set up.
Another one was maybe she was a little bit too shy to do anything remotely salesy on Instagram. So she needed the encouragement to actually show up and promote what she had to offer on Instagram. So one of the tasks on her to-do list was experiment with this on Instagram. So it’s all sorts of different things that come up in our calls that they’re like, “Hey, I want to do this but I’m not so sure.” Or, “Hey, I want to do this but I’m kind of scared, or what do you think?” So just anything that comes up in our calls, I take a running tally throughout the entire call. And then afterwards I’ll update their to-do list and send them an email recapping our call. I’ll say, “All of your to-dos are in there. The ones that I need from you, including the ones that you need to do for yourself so that you can keep moving forward.” So there really is an accountability aspect to it. I don’t need to see all of those things, but they say they appreciate it that I help keep them on track.
Rob: Okay. I want to switch the conversation away from the to-do list and talk a little bit about your brand or branding. We know that you do branding and brand consultations for your own clients, but I also know that you’ve recently been rethinking your own brand. Will you talk a little bit about that process and what’s been going on there?
Jill: Okay. I guess like a preface to all of this is through my entire business, I never really joined copywriter communities until joining this one. So I didn’t know what everyone else was doing until I joined the Underground and saw some resources and I was like, “Oh cool. I guess I’m on the right track.” So then from joining the Think Tank and having more conversations that are, I guess, more in depth with others in there, people that don’t know me in real life, I realized that a lot of the same descriptors were coming up and then I started paying attention to what other people were saying about me as well. Something that kept coming up was that I was nice. I don’t know. I just, I’m not nice. Like I’m not just nice. And so that kept coming up in a lot of conversations.
I was on some calls with some others in the Think Tank and they were shocked that I swore, for example. In the water cooler chat, Rob was shocked that I have four tattoos. It’s just like this nice girl perception, it just really rubbed me the wrong way. I was like, I’m not nice. I’m opinionated and I’m kind, but I’m opinionated. I just realized how people were describing me, it wasn’t actually lining up with what I’m like. And then I had some more conversations with other people that I know a little bit better, so like some of my biz besties and some of my in real life friends. They thought that was funny too because they see the real me, I guess, the untamed version. And none of them would describe me as nice.
So when that just kept coming up, I was like, something is off. And then I guess the big catalyst for me wanting to shift was when things didn’t go as planned for a recent offer. And then I was like, wait, everything just seems like it’s off and I’m over putting on this nice girl, I guess, face when there’s so much more to what I’m doing and what I’m about and I guess my identity.
Kira: Well, can you talk about how it started too? Because I mean, I don’t know if you want to talk about it, but you received some advice that encouraged you to act differently than you authentic self. I mean, you were given that path.
Jill: Yeah. My brand before I felt like it was a little bit more aligned. It still was a little bit cheery, but I had a lot more of like the self-discipline side of me that was out there where it’s like if you want it, you just have to do it. Then when working with a consultant last year, I was told that I seemed like too much and that I needed to tone it down if I wanted people to like me and I needed to dumb myself down if I wanted people to like me. I needed to make it seem easy and just make it seem like everybody could do what I do and just really positive. I took the advice and it just wasn’t working. I took it for, I guess, almost a year now and it just went so far to the other side that my little brother even told me, “You need to cut out the nicey nice and be the real you.”
I told him, “I’m doing it for the brand though. Apparently this is what I have to do.” And he rolled his eyes at me. But here we are. I guess little brother was right. This is the only time that he’ll ever hear me say that. So yeah, it started with bad advice and I guess it just went too far for my liking where would I do is hard. I have so many other sides than just the nicey nicey stuff, like the perfect Instagram version. I think that it’s okay to offend people now and it’s okay if people don’t like me and through all of that though, through that advice, I realized that I had a lot of fear around people liking me because of how it was worded, like dumb yourself down to be more likable.
So, definitely a lot of fear around actually showing up as myself. Otherwise like, oh, if I’m too much, somebody’s not going to like me. Or if I’m too opinionated, they’re not going to like me. But then over-experimenting over the last few weeks, it turns out people like the sassier, opinionated, this is actually hard and not everybody can do it version of Jill.
Rob: Well, I imagine that there are some people who maybe don’t like the new version of Jill, but I mean, there’s positive things that come from that too. You’re not working with clients who aren’t a good fit for you. I mean, I know you’ve just kind of started exploring this again, but where do you sort of see your brand evolving to over the next few months as you lean into the real you, the not dumbing things down for everybody you, the showing up as your whole person you.
Jill: I have a photo shoot planned for this weekend, so that’s exciting. I guess that’s going to be the first steps towards that and it’s just the vibe of it that I told the photographer that I want is maybe let’s make some people angry because they don’t think that this is professional. But not so risky that my dad will be embarrassed. I kind of am toying the line with how far we can go into that direction. In terms of my voice showing up online, I’m swearing in my captions and actually talking how I would talk and making statements that maybe I wouldn’t have made before because I was just trying to be the vanilla version that I thought I had to be.
I know that’s not super tangible, but also bringing them along in the ride. So that’s something that both of you encouraged me to do instead of just changing the brand. I’m telling people that I’m changing the brand. I’ve been doing that and I’ve been getting lots of positive feedback. Also bringing them on to the more personal side of it. I realized I had been struggling with a lot of limiting beliefs in my business. I openly talked about that in my emails and got a lot of positive feedback from that too. So just bringing people along through the journey even though it feels really vulnerable. And so far it seems like it’s working.
Kira: It almost sounds like it’s been an easy switch for you to make, at least the way you’re talking about it. Like, okay, you realized it wasn’t working. Maybe it took a year to realize that wasn’t the right brand for you. But now that you realize that, it seems like you’re kind of just jumping in fully and that’s not easy, but you’re doing it. So I guess, is it easy for you? Do you think you just waited so long you feel so ready that you’re just jumping in and it’s just coming very quickly to you?
Jill: I think it’s felt like a relief. I was trying to pinpoint this, but it’s definitely felt like a relief if people aren’t going to hate me if I say what I actually think instead of what I think that they need to hear. So while it’s been challenging to sort through my own thoughts and there’s been a lot of self reflection on what my identity actually is. I even asked one of my best friends to describe me for me just so that I could self-check what is actually going out versus what they think. So there’s been a lot of background work that has felt difficult and realizations like the limiting beliefs or like how I know as, I think it’s in my Enneagram three where I identify with my accomplishments. Sorting through all of that stuff is hard, but it’s definitely felt relieving to be able to share pieces of that without worrying that my business is going to crumble because somebody doesn’t like me.
Kira: What advice would you give to someone who’s listening who might feel similar to you before that their brand doesn’t quite fit right. Maybe it did before and they changed or maybe it never fit right for other reasons. It might not be about being too nice or too vanilla, it could just not be a right fit. What would be some steps they can take to work towards the next version of their brand?
Jill: I would start with a lot of the personal reflection. I’ve done a lot of journaling over the last little bit and like I said, asking friends what they think, just like trying to figure out who I actually am. And then it’s funny because I definitely felt some fear when I was putting out the first post where things are going to be shifting. But I tried to think of myself like I do a client and I always try to push my clients to do things that feel scary for them because I know they’re going to be good for them. So when you start thinking of yourself like that, then it makes it a lot easier. So I’d say just try to think of the advice that you’d give a friend or a client or the support that you’d give them through figuring all of this out. It makes it a lot easier.
Rob: Jill, we’re almost to the end of our time and I want to make sure that I ask, earlier you said this is the first copywriting community that you’d become involved in. At the beginning of your career, you didn’t even know what a copywriter was. You’ve obviously done a lot to figure this out by yourself, even before you met us or you came to the Copywriter Club. I’m curious, what are the things that you’ve done in your business that have helped you take those steps forward? You’ve grown your business from that 500 words for $25 to working with bigger clients, to launching courses. Just kind of walk us through maybe two or three of the big lever movers that you’ve been able to take advantage of.
Jill: I guess taking myself seriously. One of the big pivots was when I decided I wasn’t going to be a freelancer anymore but a business owner. So the mindset around that and the shift there really, really helped. And I even would ask my friends to stop calling me a freelancer, like I have my own business instead. And then that helped me set boundaries with clients and go from just taking everything that I could at the rates that they set to know like these are my rates and I’m in charge here. So that would be one.
And then another would be actually marketing my services because the first few years, they didn’t go very well because I was just cold pitching for everything and I just didn’t do a very good job at that and didn’t know where to look and who to ask for help or anything. So it was like just going for the bottom feeders, but I started showing up on Instagram instead. And it all came from a fateful day sitting crying at our kitchen table telling my husband that I wish people would come to me that wanted to just work with me and that weren’t like just price shopping or that I didn’t have to pitch for everything. So actually putting an effort into what I’m putting out in the world in order to attract those people that I want. That would be a big thing too. And with that came a lot of fears too. So it kind of came back to mindset.
And also setting up processes really helped too. Even though I didn’t know what everyone else was doing in this world, I still knew that I needed to put something in place if I was going to make it repeatable and scalable. So I think that it’s just kind of come intuitively and I read a lot and worked with a lot of different businesses, so I’ve kind of picked it all up as I go.
Kira: Because you mentioned Instagram and I know we’ve talked a lot about how you’re showing up differently on Instagram, I know this could be a masterclass in and of itself just talking about what you’re doing really well on Instagram. But if you can give advice to copywriters who want to attract clients, a lot of what you’re talking about with attraction marketing through Instagram, what are three tips or even just three things that you’re doing differently than most copywriters out there who are on Instagram and maybe not using it as strategically or not using it in attracting clients.
Jill: I think lots of other people look to the competition to see what everybody else is doing and then try to do more of that. So then we see lots of copy tips that everybody knows. And instead I like to look at the competition to see what they’re not doing and see how I can fit in. That helps me create content that stands out a little bit more, I think. And then also there’s this mindset that, “Oh, I’m a copywriter, all I do is words. I can’t show up on a visual app.” But I didn’t know how to use my camera in the beginning. Like I taught myself how to take all my photos and people are always shocked that I take almost all of my photos myself with my tripod. Sometimes my husband might help me but I usually line up the shot for him first and then he’ll take it.
So you can learn these things. And just because we sit and write words all day doesn’t mean that we can’t add other skills to our toolkit and show up in different ways. And then by actually showing up and taking photos and sharing bits of your life, it helps people connect a lot more. So I will share, like yesterday I did a story where I was fixing up all of my plants and re-potting them. And that story got so many replies, so many reviews because people like seeing the behind the scenes and it was literally just me sitting on my office floor at a pile of dirt for two hours with a hyper-lapse, like time-lapse going in the background. And then I added some music to it and posted it with some captions and people seem to be really liking that.
So, showing the personal bits gets people to start conversations with you. And then when they start conversations and it shows the algorithm that people like your stuff, and then it kind of snowballs from there. And then you get in front of the people that matter, and that feels like they know you and like entrust you before they even get on your calendar.
Rob: I like that. Jill, what’s next for you?
Jill: I don’t know. That’s what we’re trying to figure out. I mean, I’m trying to lean more into all of the other things that I can do and I guess the first step was changing my title that I’ve given myself with everyone’s encouragement from the Think Tank. So just adding in more and really owning all of the stuff that I do, but I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet. I have a few ideas and a few things in the works, but I’m trying to take the advice that I give my clients and just try things for the next little while because the services that I do offer, they work really well. I’m booked. They just work seamlessly, I guess. So I’m looking for the next thing that’s going to give me the challenge and hopefully get working just as well as the services that I offer.
Kira: That’s it for our interview with Jill Wise. But before we go, let’s recap a couple more things that she mentioned. Rob, what stood out the most to you in this part of the conversation?
Rob: Like we said, with time management being a skill that you have to build in order to survive, discipline is the same thing. I have kind of changed my thinking around discipline over the last year or two where I used to think, “Oh yeah, it’s something that we have or that we are. We are disciplined. We have discipline.” I see it now more as a skill to develop. It’s the kind of thing when you start getting up early or when you start an exercise program or you start eating healthier or you start booking out your calendar so that you’ve got specific time for clients versus the time you want to spend in your business. It’s a habit that you have to develop. And just like time management or any other habit, practice is the thing that helps you do it.
And so listening to Jill talk about the discipline that she’s built into her life, and obviously started from a very early age with the athletic accomplishments that she has, but it also translates into business. It’s a reminder that all of us need to build that skill. Maybe we didn’t start at age four on an ice skating rink like Jill did, but we can start today with our businesses and over time become more and more disciplined about the things that we need to.
Kira: Yeah. And with discipline, I think the most important part is when you fall off and you lose that discipline and you get out of your habits and everything kind of flips over, just knowing that you can always tap back into it. I think that’s the hardest part is when you’re doing really well. Like for me, the weeks leading up to our events to TCC(N)IRL, I lost my discipline because it was just, it was overwhelming. And so through that, I lost my discipline. Kind of now that it’s over, I’m like, okay, let’s kind of bring some of those habits back that I just threw out the window. So I think that’s the key is also kind of having that forgiveness and being gentle with yourself too, not beating yourself up. At least that’s what works for me because I definitely always seem to lose those habits but get them back eventually.
Rob: And I think that’s the important thing of realizing it’s not a personality trait. It’s not necessarily part of what we are or who we are. It is a habit and it’s a thing that we have to keep coming back to and keep building and there are times when it’s not going to go as well and there are times when it would go great. Like you said, being forgiving of yourself. It’s not that we think of ourselves as undisciplined people, but rather that we’re working on building that skillset. And I think that’s maybe a better way to think about it.
Kira: Yeah. I love this conversation with Jill because one of the reasons we brought her on the show at the time that we did, we were going to interview her at some point. But we wanted to bring her on the show at this point in her business journey because she was struggling with her brand and the image that she was portraying to her clients and to her friends and family, it wasn’t working for her. And so instead of waiting for her to fix all of it and talk to us about it a year after she fixed the problem, we wanted to bring her in to talk about it while she was really in the thick of it. So I appreciate Jill for even coming on to talk about this kind of transition from her, the brand that no longer fit to the new brand, and being a little bit more raw about it. I feel like those are the best conversations.
I think the takeaway for me is just like if you’re getting comments from your younger brother and your best friends and your partner and they’re saying, “Hey, that doesn’t seem like you. Why are you putting on an act, something’s a little bit off.” At least that’s the way I look at it for my own brand and everything I’m putting out there. My friends should see it and my family should see it and they should be like, “Yeah, that’s Kira.” I mean, maybe it’s Kira to like turn up a bit to an 11 and not Kira like chilling on a Saturday at a picnic, but it should be about match.
I think Jill was feeling that something was off and the fact that it showed up in one of her launches, the launch she admitted was not as successful as she wanted. Oftentimes when something isn’t working in our business and it’s broken, we can kind of pinpoint there might be another area in the business where something also isn’t working and if you fix that, it can fix the other problem too. And so it was just cool to hear Jill talk about it and to see the changes she’s made to her brand. And even the way she shows up on Instagram, since we had that conversation with her, it seems so just more in line with who she is and the Jill that we know.
Rob: Yeah. And it’s not so much a new version of Jill versus it’s the real version of Jill. She’s stepping back into who she was and she’s ignoring that terrible advice that she got to dumb everything down and to be nice and to be something that she isn’t. And when Jill said it feels like a relief, I think that’s a pretty good signal that you’re doing the right thing. When your body starts to tell you that this is better than what you had before, you’re feeling that relief or you’re feeling more authentic, and that’s a way overused word but I think it fits, it’s just a really good sign that that’s the right direction and maybe you keep moving in that direction.
Kira: Yeah. And probably the worst advice ever that anyone could give you is to dumb yourself down for the sake of attracting more clients and growing your business. I don’t see any place for advice like that. And so unfortunately, Jill received it and luckily she’s changed since receiving that poor advice.
Rob: Another thing that stood out to me just as I was listening to Jill talk about the process of setting boundaries with her clients and how she works with them, it dawned on me that she’s not necessarily asking questions about the copy that she’s writing. She’s asking really deep business problems and she’s discovering what those problems are. And then she’s immediately identifying quick and easy wins for her clients even before they start working together. She specifically mentioned that somebody might need a way to capture the leads that are coming in that they can’t quite get. And so she adds something to that to-do list that gives them an immediate win as soon as they execute, or the person that needs to get an email system set up so that they can start communicating in a way that works for them.
This is maybe a deep thought as far as copywriting goes because so many of us are thinking, okay, well, you need website copy, so let’s get into what that is. And we’re not always thinking about the bigger business problems. And sometimes it’s really easy wins that can just add so much value for a client that I just help you fix this problem. Of course, you’re going to hire me to fix this other thing. And it’s just a really good way to make sure that what we’re doing isn’t just copywriting but we’re problem-solving for our business for our clients.
Kira: Yeah. And Jill mentioned it’s all about adding other skills to your toolkit. So yes, we all love to take copywriting courses and learn about new ways of improving what we do as copywriters and content creators. But what other skills can you bring to the table? And Jill brings a lot of other skills to the table, even as far as taking her own photos on Instagram. A lot of her clients ask her, well, how do you do that? Or how do you create these images? How do you do this or that? And so I think just constantly developing our skills beyond the copywriting space makes us so much more valuable to our clients and what we can offer them.
Rob: For sure. And then I also really liked what Jill said about that mindset reframe that she went through going from talking about herself and thinking about herself as a freelancer to thinking of herself and talking about herself as a business owner, even to the point where she asked her friends to stop referring to her as a freelancer, which again, that’s another one of those steps that I think a lot of us go through as we get serious about our business. And it has a really big impact, once again, on the clients that we work with, the amount of money that we bill, the kinds of projects that we work on. It’s just a step up in everything that we do.
Kira: Yeah. And it’s just, it comes at different times for all of us. So if you feel like I feel like a freelancer and that actually fits and that actually excites me, that it might be worth you sticking to that. But at some point you may outgrow the title and we kind of all give ourselves our own titles and then outgrow them. I know for me a lot of people throw in the term entrepreneur and that doesn’t quite fit for me. I think it could at some point, but it doesn’t quite fit for where I am in my own career and growth. So I prefer business owner too. It just feels like, well, that’s what I am right now. I’m not a freelancer, I’m a business owner. And I’m sure a different title will fit better a couple of years from now.
But if you feel like your title’s ever holding you back and the way that you show up or even what you’re charging, how you feel when you’re on a sales call, then it’s worth reconsidering what you call yourself because even though titles, I mean, I think you and I usually say like titles aren’t always so useful and sometimes they can even be ridiculous. But sometimes they actually really help us and help shape the way we see our identity as a business person. So it’s worth thinking about the same way that Jill considered her title.
Rob: Yeah. I mean, if you identify as a freelancer or a contractor, the help, then you’re going to be treated that way because that starts to show in the way that you show up. Whereas if you identify as a business owner, a CEO, entrepreneur, whatever that right fit is, you’re going to show up differently in your business.
Kira: Right. Or even showing up as a wordsmith versus a digital strategist or a marketing strategist or a consultant. So it all matters. I also like that Jill focuses on her competitors and she mentioned a couple of times that she helps her clients look at their competition and then she does it for her own business. It’s not just to see what they’re doing, to copy them. I mean, not that we’re all trying to copy our competition, but sometimes we mimic or we may not even realize that we like certain things and we start doing it too. What Jill’s doing is she’s trying to look at her competition to see what they’re not doing. What are they not saying? What are they not talking about? What offers are they not creating? And that’s how she shapes a lot of her own marketing and content.
And so, to me that stood out too because a lot of times we don’t want to look at our competitors. I know sometimes as somebody who I don’t do well with comparisonitis, so I have to be very careful to not look at competitors. But there’s also a time and place where you should look. You shouldn’t be ignorant in your space. You should see and use it as a tool to shape what you’re doing. And so I think, again, that’s something that I want to do and Jill triggered that idea too.
Rob: Yeah. I 100% agree. I think in a lot of ways it comes down to just being different so that people, particularly your clients, see you as a better solution. Todd Brown talked about this at the TCC (Not) In Real Life event all about how copywriters need to identify their unique mechanisms. And he asked a bunch of questions to help us do that. It’s sort of the same principle, being different enough from our competitors so that our clients can identify why they want to work with us and why we’re the only solution for what they really want to get.
Thanks to Jill Wise for sharing so much detail about her business and how she thinks about her own brand. If you’d like to connect with Jill or just see what she’s up to, you can follow her on Instagram. She’s @wordsbyjill, and she’s just started hanging out a bit on TikTok. So if you’re a TikToker, is TikToker a thing. I’m not even sure if TikToker is a thing, but whatever TikTok people call themselves, you can hear her opinions and her tips there. And she checks into LinkedIn every once in a while as well. And of course you can find her at her website, wordsbyjill.com.
Kira: That’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Our intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcasts to leave a review of the show. And don’t forget to visit copywriterthinktank.com to find out more about our business changing, life changing mastermind. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next week.