Mariam Vossough is our guest on the 321st episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Mariam is a copywriter and scriptwriter who is breaking into TikTok as a means to connect with her ideal client: Gen X women. The insights she shares will not only help you become a better writer but just might give you the courage to give TikTok a shot.
Here’s what we talk about:
- Mariam’s start in the cutting room and how she became in charge of the entire story office.
- Her transition to children’s author after becoming a mother.
- Are children’s book writers cooler than copywriters?
- Self-publishing vs. finding an agent – which route should you take?
- Why copywriting is the best career for never-ending learners.
- How she stumbled across copywriting and why she joined The Copywriter Accelerator.
- What’s the process for turning a mediocre story into great content?
- How copy structure is an art form and why it can change the entire dynamic of the reader’s experience.
- Why your ego has no place in the editing room.
- How Mariam tears apart copy and creates a better end product.
- The day-to-day of being on a writing team and writing stories for episodes.
- How her scriptwriting career made her fearless and develop a thick skin.
- How to create better open loops and cliffhangers.
- When she knew she was ready to transition her career.
- What her business looks like today and why it took her longer to niche down.
- How she discovered her niche and what helped her get there.
- Why marketers need to pay more attention to gen X women and why they’re being ignored in the first place.
- Showing up on TikTok – what works and who should use it?
- 5 steps to getting started on TikTok TODAY.
- How she breaks down her content pillars on social media.
- Creating content on TikTok without dancing.
Play this episode for immediate inspiration.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Join The Accelerator Waitlist
The Copywriter Think Tank
Connect with Mariam on TikTok and Linkedin
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Jenn Prochaska’s episode
Kira Hug: Niching down, owning your personal brand and showing up as your wild self on social media often feels like a huge obstacle for copywriters like us. But as business owners, it’s kind of unavoidable, especially early on in our business when we don’t have a team. The good news is we control how we niche, how we brand ourselves, and how we show up in the world. And our guest on this week’s podcast is the perfect example of a writer who’s not only taken control over her brand identity, but who has also built a business that provides meaning to her. And she’s done it in her own way with a brilliant sense of humor and grace. Mariam Vossough is a copywriter, screenwriter, and TikTok nerd. And after this episode, you just might rethink how you show up on social media and you just might find yourself creating a TikTok account.
I know she’s almost convinced me, like not quite, but almost, so close. And before we jump into the interview, I want to introduce my lovely co-host this week who is feeling a little under the weather, and I appreciate her being here. So welcome back to the show, Jenn Prochaska, who is a brand messaging strategist, writer, also a guest on episode 307, which is one of my favorite episodes where we talked about overcoming addiction, scaling a business, parenthood. We went deep and Jenn was so transparent and real throughout the entire conversation. If you haven’t listened to it, you’ve got to listen to it. So Jenn, thanks for coming back, especially when you’re not feeling so great.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah, thanks Kira. Yeah, I’m keeping it real. I’m a little congested, but I’m super excited to talk about Mariam… Podcast.
Kira Hug: All right, great. And so before we jump in, this episode is brought to you by the Copywriter Accelerator. We are really excited because we are about to launch this program. We’re about to jump in with a bunch of copywriters and get started. So we’re currently offering early bird access to this business building program where we get to work with you over five months to put all the pieces of your business together. So you can go from feeling like an order taker to really feeling more like a CEO and in control of your business. And if you have any interest in joining or just checking it out, you can join early and save some cash, which is always nice. And you can check out more information in the show notes. You will hear a good amount about it today because our podcast guest is an Accelerator alumni member. So you’ll hear a little bit more about it. All right, let’s jump into the interview with Mariam.
Mariam Vossough: I’ll try to do the potted history ’cause I’m very, very old, so there’s quite a lot. I always wanted to work in drama. I studied drama at university. I started off working in the film industry. I did various different roles on set to kind of learn the different trades. And I ended up landing in the cutting room. So I was really fascinated with the story and how a good editor can really transform quite mediocre material. So I spent hours and hours and hours sitting in cutting rooms and I started when we were on film, that’s how old I am. I was literally carrying canisters of film rolls towards the end of my time in the cutting room. It started to move over to digital, but it was an amazing place to learn about storytelling. I increasingly became frustrated because I wanted more input and to make a bigger difference on the story, which is why I went to the other end of the process.
And I wanted to start writing. So I got various jobs, script writing, script reading for other people. And I landed a big job on a program called Coronation Street, which is, I think it’s the world’s longest running drama serial. So I started there as a story liner. I worked my way up to story editor. So I was in charge of the whole story office. We would write all the stories for every single episode that went out. I did that for about a year and then I got promoted onto the writing team, which was a huge deal. So I was still quite young and I stayed on the writing team for a couple of years. Then I had a baby. So I just took some time off. And I decided when I went back to… Go for a different show, because I’ve been on Coronation Street at that point, about five years, and that’s not five normal years, it’s like five dog years.
It’s so intense. And I just wanted to do something else. So I worked on a Channel Four program called Hollyoakes, which is a kind of soap drama serial for a younger audience. And there was lots of comedy in it and they dealt with some serious issues as well. I liked being able to combine the two. So I wrote there for a couple of sessions. I did it for a few years, then I had my second son. Then I went back for a few years and then I found myself with two young children trying to write for a TV program full time and something had to give. And when you write for that kind of show, you are expected to be available 24/7 if they need rewrites or someone goes off sick, you’ve just got to be there. They need it in and they need it in for the next day.
And I couldn’t make myself that available. Well, I didn’t want to. So I became an author. I wrote for children. Now obviously, I had two young children at the time and I never thought I’d write for children. But what spurred me on is that I had two boys and the lack of imaginative books for young boys at that time, I was quite disappointed. Unless you wanted to read about firemen or tractors, there wasn’t much. And I was sure you could do better than that. So I wrote a series of books that aimed at boys under a pseudonym and that was great fun. And opened me up to the world of children’s book authors who are the loveliest set of writers you will find. Copywriters are second, but children’s book writers are just the most welcoming. They are so lovely. And I enriched my life in so many ways.
So I did that. I carried on doing that for a few years. And then unfortunately my eldest son became very, very ill. And I had to completely step back from work for a couple of years. We were trying to find our feet, me and him. I was trying to get him the help he needed and just adapt our whole way of life to his illness. And after a year or so, my brain is the kind of brain that just won’t stop. And unless I use my brain positively, it starts to go down a dark path because it keeps going whatever I’m doing with it. And at that time, I’d heard more and more about self-publishing. Now it wasn’t familiar to me because I came up through the very traditional writing part. You had to find an agent and then the agent got your work. So I started to look on YouTube and found tutorials and things and I thought just out of interest to see if this is possible and to keep my brain ticking over, I’m going to self-publish a couple of books.
So I wrote a couple of fiction books, which I’d never done before. I never liked to make my life easy. So I wrote a couple of fiction books and published them on Kindle under a pseudonym and made them into an audio book. And I really enjoyed the process, but I thought, this is not something I want to do. I don’t want to be a publisher full time. It takes me away from the work I enjoy, but I’m still earning money back from that. That’s a regular sort of income. And whilst I was on YouTube, I then started to see things on my feed about making a living writing online. And I was completely clueless. I didn’t know what this could possibly be. So I started to watch videos and found out about writing blogs and writing online content. And I just thought this was incredible because when I came up as a writer, you had to get past the gatekeepers and just seeing how young people now can just be a writer, I think it’s incredible how democratized the whole industry.
And as someone like me who had no context whatsoever, I had to kind of fight my way to pass every game, I thought this was amazing. And then I started seeing one of my feet about copywriting and I was like, okay, what’s this? And I started to download a load of new podcasts and I found your podcast and yours was the first one I found on copywriting. So actually it’s kind of your fault that I’m here. And I began to learn about copywriting and something just clicked because it combines two of the things I love to do, which is writing obviously and research. Give me a topic and I’m an expert in two days. Give me a wi-fi connection, I’m there, I love to research. And what else I loved about it, was there was so much to learn. I get really fired up about learning new things. I get good at something and then I have to learn something else.
I’m speaking to some friends about this and through friends, I started ghost writing for people, ghost writing content and copy. And I did that for a year or so and I thought, okay, I really do want to make a go of this. I’m going to have to come out from the shadows at some point. And that’s when I saw your Accelerator program and I joined Accelerator. So that’s kind of how I ended up here.
Rob Marsh: Okay. There’s so much in your background. I’m not sure where you’re ever going to get to your copywriting career because I’ve got all these questions about all the stuff that you did before. So just setting this up, we’re going to be talking a little bit about cutting rooms and drama and whatever. At least those are some of my questions. So I want to go back, skipping forward from your time in drama, although maybe I’ve got questions about that too. I’m specifically interested, you said it’s amazing what a good storyteller or a good editor can do with mediocre content and turn it into a really good story. Talk a little bit more about that. What is the process? Because so many of us think that the material we’re working with, the ideas that we have are mediocre, and yet there’s a way to make that stuff sing and to be amazing if it’s put together. So let’s talk about that process. How do you put together content so that it tells a really interesting compelling story?
Mariam Vossough: Well, if you’re talking about… Yeah, I worked on both film dramas and TV purely, and I don’t know how much people know, but when you are in the cutting room, you get every single version of every single shot. So a basic shot, you’d have a wide and then you’d have closeups on them speaking and you’d have three or four versions of each shot. So as an editor you go through to find the best shot from each and then you try and fit them all together to make it work. And I saw editors literally cut a few seconds off the beginning and end of shots and that made the whole scene much pacier. So structure in itself is an art form. The way you put these shots together, the way you put your lines together, rearrange things. I have no fear of editing. I’m quite happy to tear something apart and put it back together in a way that it wasn’t necessarily meant to be put back together and it works better.
So what I learned as well as story structure in those cutting rooms was first thought is never best thought. You have to be unprecious about your material and especially if it’s something you have written, you have generated. My philosophy to everything I write is if someone can contribute an idea or a line that makes it better, I’ll take that. Because anything you can do to make the content better is worth it. The content overall is… You’ll not take your ego out of it and just make the best thing you can possibly make. So that I know from just seeing shots rearranged and editors turning scenes around, maybe not necessarily the order that the writer or the director had seen it, makes an enormous difference.
Kira Hug: So I want to hear more about Coronation Street and your experience on the writing team. I know you had different positions and worked your way up and then ended up in the writing team because that experience is so distant from me, I have no experience in that department. Can you just talk a little bit about what your day-to-day looked like in that role on the writing team and the intensity behind it?
Mariam Vossough: Yeah, sure. At the time I was on Coronation Street, we worked in two-week cycles. So over the course of two weeks we would storyline and complete two weeks of episodes. At the time it was about eight episodes we’d work on. So the start of the process would be a one-day meeting with all the writers, producers, the story team. And we would have an agenda and we’d go through each story that we needed to talk about in order, picking up from where we’d left off with that story. And we’d have to make a decision about where that story was going in the next two weeks. Now those meetings varied in quality because sometimes the writing team would get stuck on one story. I don’t mean necessarily stuck in that they couldn’t think of it, but they would be obsessed with one story and they’d just talk.
80% of the meeting would be just one story. And then as when I was in the story team, you’d be left with loads of story to fill because they hadn’t even got to those other stories. So as a writer, you’d come in for that meeting. At the end of the two-week cycle, you’d wait to hear whether you had been commissioned for one of those episodes. I would then be sent a story document which… To outline scene by scene what had to happen in that episode. So each story was in that episode it’d say, this is where that story starts, this is where that story ends. You then went into a meeting a few days later, asked any questions you had about the episode. If you wanted to make any kind of big changes within the scope of the story, you’d have to get permission. Then you’d have to talk about could I have this extra character, could I have this set? Because there’s huge restrictions on… You can’t just have anyone in any location.
There were production issues. Then you would go away, write this episode, you’d have usually maybe a week depending on which episode in the block you’ve got, which is not long to get your first draft in. The story team and the producers write that first draft, then it would usually go through two more drafts. Then that script went to production so that the costume and the actors and everyone would get that. So as a writer, you are in a two-week cycle. Now bear in mind, if you’re a regular writer, you are working on more than one episode at a time. You are writing an episode whilst you’re editing another episode, whilst you’re coming up with ideas for the story meeting about those eight episodes. So you’re constantly in a state of flux. And on the screen from what you saw where you were working about three months ahead of what you said. Most of the time you spend, as any writing job, most of the time you’re spent in front of your computer at home.
Kira Hug: So it sounds like you started as the story person, the story editor, and then you made your way to being the writer. Was that-
Mariam Vossough: Yeah.
Kira Hug: The trajectory?
Mariam Vossough: Yeah, that’s it.
Kira Hug: Okay. And as a follow-up, just what lesson or two did you pull from that experience that you find yourself using today in copywriting?
Mariam Vossough: In terms of the promotion or in terms of the difference between the two jobs?
Kira Hug: The writing portion of that job.
Mariam Vossough: Well, like I said, we’d sometimes, in the story office, we’d be left with a huge deficit of story and with not much time to write these episodes. So you had to be fearless about putting out ideas. You have to sit in the office. There were maybe three or four story liners and then story editor, you just had to throw ideas out. You could not sit there and worry, oh no, this is a bit… You just have to say stuff because someone’s bad idea can lead to someone having a good idea. So you develop a very, very thick skin and a very fast reflex to filling gaps in episodes, in stories. So in terms of storytelling, it’s just my heartbeat now.
I am the most annoying person to watch any film or television because not… you know that kid in The Sixth Sense who sees dead people? I see story holes everywhere. I don’t look, they’re just there. So it can be quite frustrating for me watching anything ’cause I always see the holes. Yeah, so sorry, I’ve lost my train of thought. I’m just thinking about the poor people who have to watch TV with me.
Rob Marsh: I think it’s probably better to see story holes or plot holes than it is to see dead people. So you’ve got that going for you indeed.
Mariam Vossough: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rob Marsh: As you’re thinking about stories, I’m guessing you got really good at writing or thinking about cliffhangers with an episodic television show like that where you need to have something that brings people back. Copywriters obviously call these open loops in are copy. Tell us about how you approach cliff hangers, open loops and how you use it in your storytelling, your copy today.
Mariam Vossough: Oh, absolutely, because on Coronation Street we had… It was on ITV, which is a commercial channel. So you’d have something called the ad tag, which was the tag going into the adverts. Then you’d have the tag at the end of the episode to pull people in. So it was very natural for me to build to that rhythm. The rhythm of Coronation Street was up to the ads, then further up to the ends. On Hollyoaks, we had an extra tag because after the credit sequence there was a small one small tag. So you have to go in a slightly different rhythm with that. As a copywriter, it’s hugely useful for me when I write emails. And I love writing email sequences because I see them in the same way as I see scripts. Take a sales email sales sequence.
For me there’s some hot main objective, which is from the first to the last email, which is the same as the main story thrust through a script. So that has to run through each email. Then within each email, there is a story structure in itself, which has to contain some of the main sales stuff. So that’s how I sync and structure email sequences and I wouldn’t say it’s easy, nothing’s easy, but I always think in terms of pulling them into the next email as well. So mine are slightly different from that. I have a kind of hook at the end to help them pull them into… So hopefully when they’ve seen the next email, they’re going to want to open it and make the subject line acts as a kind of hook for me as well. You’ve got to get the subject line right to get them into the email. So that structure and that series of hooks, tags, whatever you want to call it, is there, with all my writing actually.
Kira Hug: What helped guide your decisions along your career path that you shared with us? There are many different turns and different career paths related to writing. Was it just intuition along the way? Did you have a process to help you evaluate when to leave a position, when to pursue something else? And how did you decide what that next thing was for you at the time?
Mariam Vossough: Partly life, life just as a habit of getting in the way and the best possible way, also, as I’ve said, I genuinely, genuinely love to learn and writing is… We are very privileged that that is a career. Whatever type of writing you do, where there is always something to learn, but I just like to add more tools to my kit. When I’m finding something boring, frustrating, I know it’s time for me to move on to something else. And also what, as I said, working on TV and that’s fast paced and you are just doing, you’re not really enjoying the process as much.
You’re just doing, doing all the time. You don’t have time to sit back and think about your career in that way. So I think that was the best thing for my career that I did to step out of that and have more time to reflect on where I wanted to go with my writing. I mean, there’s so much still I want to write that I’ve got a children’s book that’s kind of partway through. There’s a marketing book I want to write. So now I just use my intuition.
Rob Marsh: I’m curious also about the crossover between writing children’s books and writing copy for clients, whether that’s email or sales copy. I know there are significant differences, but what are some of the similarities? What are some of the things that you take from writing children’s books that applies directly to what you’re writing for clients?
Mariam Vossough: Well, I can tell you quite honestly, children are the hardest audience to win over. It’s kind of laughable to me that people think that writing children’s books is easy. It is the most difficult thing to get right. I mean, I started writing for children, my kids were kind of the target age and they’re brutal. I knew when they started to fidget or yawn and “Oh mom, don’t talk about that again, don’t talk about that all the time.” And again, it’s thick skin. And as part of my MA, I went into schools and taught creative writing. So you know, you’ve got to be on the ball with those kids. So I don’t think any clients I come across in a sort of personality-wise can really get under my skin because I’ve worked in TV, I’ve worked with some of the best editors, producers, I’ve worked with some of the worst. So I don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to clients on a one-to-one level. Like I said, the thick skin is all.
Rob Marsh: It seems like more of us as copywriters can maybe use those first readers, those kids telling us to quit talking about that stuff, it’s boring me and get to the interesting part.
Mariam Vossough: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I’ll send my kids over. They’re teenagers.
Kira Hug: Okay, Jenn, let’s break in here. I am curious to hear what stood out the most to you during this part of the conversation.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. So first of all, I’m totally fangirling over Mariam, just her general disposition and her story. And when she said Coronation Street, my jaw dropped. I mean, that’s a big deal. And she was like, “Oh yeah, so I’m a writer on Coronation Street.” And I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Did she just say… Yeah, so I mean that stood out immediately. And I love that she talked about working with such a large team. I think there’s a lot of takeaways there that I could relate to. Mine was at an agency, so definitely not as prestigious, but when you work with large groups of people and everybody has a say in what you’re writing, I mean, you do learn to develop a thick skin. And I didn’t get the sense that she meant thick skin as a defense mechanism like it bothered me, but I learned to deal with it.
She was like, it ceased to bother her anymore. And she even said at one point, “I don’t sweat the small stuff with clients,” and that’s key because I do see a lot of newer writers sweating the small stuff. So the fact that she got that pretty early on in her career is a definite benefit in everything she does in life, I think. But certainly when writing for somebody and having that creative process judged by so many people. I got the sense that she was honestly able to detach from the creative process, which really lets it take on a life of its own and that’s when the magic happens, that collaboration. That’s what really stood out to me about that part.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I wonder for someone who still feels that attachment and it may feel more sensitive to it where it’s not as easy and maybe your skin is not as thick because they haven’t had experience like Mariam’s had. Do you have any advice for anyone who’s like, ugh, I wish I didn’t feel as attached. I don’t want to feel as attached, but I still do.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. And I don’t want to say attached is a bad thing, I mean, everything we write to some extent can be our baby, right? Especially with those larger projects. I know when I write a website, I definitely mean a whole website that’s part of me as well. But I think that the piece of advice that I would give is to think about the creative process holistically, because she also said that it made her fearless about ideas because “Someone’s stupid idea,” quote unquote, “Could spark a good idea.” So it’s not detaching and not caring, it’s actually elevating your part in the entire creative process knowing that it will produce something far greater than any one of us in theory could have come up with on our own. I mean even the greatest writers, or editors, everybody arguably needs some outside perspective. So I think when we can look at it that way, it becomes much easier. And it’s less of I can’t care about my work and more of I’m a spoke in this really awesome wheel.
Kira Hug: Right. It’s just more of a collaborative approach, right? It’s like I am not the copywriter who has all the answers and my client can’t question me, but it’s like, well, what if I jump into this project and I look at my client as a collaborator? I mean that definitely requires vetting prospects. You’re working with clients who are looking for that and who are matching that level. But I think it’s a different approach and might be more useful going into it. It sounded like she left that kind of high stress position and those writing rooms after having her first baby. And that grabbed my attention just because that’s when I left corporate life after I had my first baby. And I remember that feeling just of it wasn’t 24/7, it sounds like her position was like you had to be available 24/7, which is pretty crazy, especially since we’re not medical doctors and we’re not working in the ER, we’re writers.
I’m like, you shouldn’t have to be available 24/7 if you’re a writer. But that’s when I left my corporate life and really took a big shift in my career. And it sounds like she did something similar. I feel like that is a common pattern, whether it’s having a first baby or just having a big life change and questioning everything you’re doing. And it seems like that came up several times throughout the conversation with Mariam. It was about knowing when to leave a position, knowing when to kind of zig and zag throughout the career, which I think can feel confusing and overwhelming at times, but it seems like she’s handled it really well over her career. So I’m just wondering from you, Jenn, when was that moment where you felt like you had a really big zig or zag in your career where you had to make that first really big shift that led you to entrepreneurship?
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah, I love this and I love that you asked her about her job transition decision making process because I feel like a lot of copywriters get stuck there. I think a lot of people get stuck there. For me, my switch, my biggest switch in my career, was actually very much in line with what she said. It’s just my getting sober was… Instead of having my first baby, for me, it was getting sober. But she said, when you’re just doing and when it really doesn’t light you up anymore. I mean she gave her launch copywriting niche six months. So it’s not like you have a bad day at, oh, I got to change my business, when it’s really just not inspiring you.
One of my favorite phrases is stay inspired because I think it’s easy to be inspired, it’s harder to stay inspired. And after a while, and certainly the hours and her priorities shifted once she had her baby. But even after that, as she was pivoting along the way, she said, “I was just kind of doing it wasn’t lighting me up.” And I think that that is really important to hear from someone like her as a Gen X. She talks a lot about Gen X women and shout out to Gen X. We were taught that you had to stay in a job for a while. You had to pay your dues, you had to stick it out. I mean now it’s normal to have 10 jobs before you’re 30. In my day we called that job hopping and your resume went into the trash.
So I think it says something that she was able to say to reflect at various times in her life, what do I want here? Oh and I have the right and the freedom to go after that, whether it’s the positive having my first baby or the more challenging my son has an illness. Either way, being able to say I don’t have to do anything other than take care of my family. How can I do that and still fulfill my creative mission? I think sometimes as women, I don’t know, and maybe this is a Gen X thing or not, but I feel like we have to choose between our passions and our children and she’s proof positive that you can take care of both. Now certainly on a daily basis, they’re not going to be equal. But she has really managed not only to take care of both, but to have a thriving career. I mean, we’re not talking about just leaving businesses here. I mean she went from the most popular, longest running television show in Britain to being a children’s author.
I mean, I just moved from in-house to agency life to… Those are big things and I’m really in awe of her commitment to her creativity and her need to keep that brain busy. I can relate to that. And I think a lot of us visionaries can, she said, “When you have a brain like I do, it doesn’t stop. And if I don’t put that to use, to good use, it can go to dark places.” So the fact that she was able to stay out of dark places for the most part and still creatively produce, I mean, well I said I’m fangirling over Mariam and that’s one of the reasons why that’s so inspirational to me.
Kira Hug: Yeah. When I think of her throughout this conversation, I feel like fearlessness comes up and pops into my mind. I feel like she’s just a really great example of a writer who has been fearless in her writing career. And you’re right, I mean has had such an impressive path and not just in one space and like you said, jumping into writing children’s books out of working in these story rooms on a show and it’s such variety and you just kind of know when you speak to her and hang out with her that there will be more in her journey and she’ll just continue to figure out what’s working and what’s not working. And it really gets me excited about being a writer because there are so many different ways we can pull this craft into our career. And it doesn’t have to be the same and it can be whatever we want it to be, and we can still own that identity as a writer, but it can show up in so many different ways.
And again, she’s just a great example of that. And I think she even had a quote when she was talking about advice about pivoting. She said, “When I’m finding something boring, frustrating, I know it’s time for me to move on to something else.” And I think that’s important for us to remember as copywriters in our own businesses because it’s easy to build a business where maybe you’re not working for someone else and it looks like you should be happy all the time because you have this so-called freedom in your business. But maybe you find yourself feeling bored or frustrated or even resentful. Maybe that’s also a time to start to look at how else can I shift things in my own business so I don’t have to burn it down necessarily and start over? But I can just start to shift it so it feels more exciting.
I feel less frustrated, it feels easier, it’s giving back to me. And I think that’s where a lot of copywriters do get stuck because they’re like, well, now what? I built the business, it was supposed to feel amazing and it’s not feeling that way. And I can’t blame it on someone else because I don’t have a boss to blame it on. I have nothing else to blame it on. So what do I do now? And so she’s a great example of how we just can continue to poke around. Poke around until it starts to fit and then when it doesn’t fit, poke around again.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah, absolutely. And I think a lot of copywriters and a lot of creative people in general that I’ve run into, have kind of higher purposes, right? You’ve had on the show talking about veganism. And I know that you’ve recently taken that up and I know we’ve had talks about how to bring in politics, how to bring in those social issues. And I found it really interesting that she said she couldn’t find books for boys that were imaginative, right? And I’m a mom of two girls. And I was like, wow, really? Because I have a hard time finding books for girls that aren’t all girl power. Not that I’m against girl power, but my daughter just wanted a book with a character that was a girl. It wasn’t all about fighting the man. And words are so powerful. And when we think about what a copywriter and a content writer is, what we’re trained to do, we are trained to educate, enlighten, and ultimately convince.
I mean talk about the ability to create the change that we want to see in the world. I mean it’s a really powerful tool and I love that she parlayed that without much fanfare. She was like, oh, this doesn’t exist. Well I need it and I’m going to create it. And she did it. That’s something that I think sometimes writers forget because we do get lost in the business of writing, but we have power in our words. And if something isn’t fulfilling you… I know for me sometimes if when my work gets a little tedious, which is going to happen in any job, I don’t care what you do, it’s going to get tedious, then it could be using our powers for good, right? Like going to a nonprofit and copywriting not for money, but for just to make the world a better place.
I mean there are all sorts of options. The thing that Mariam really represents for me is just being open, open your mind. Whatever preconceived notions you think you have, just toss them aside because the stupid idea might lead to a good idea. I mean everything goes back to being in a room with all those people and just working together.
Kira Hug: Yeah, yeah. I mean it’s problem-solving, right? She is solving problems. She found there was not the book she needed for her children. She solved that problem. I mean you can’t solve every problem, but you can start to solve these problems. And then she moved on to the next problem. And speaking of books, so I do think back to when my kids were a little bit younger and we were reading all these classic books with all the different animals who were talking. And my daughter was always frustrated ’cause she’s like, “Why are all the animals boys? Why are they always boys?” They’re never any girl animals in these books. And so I would have to change the gender of half the animals or some of the animals just to have some representation there. So anyway, when Mariam mentioned that, I was like, yeah, there’s a lot of work needed in children’s books.
I know a lot of work has been done and it’s progressing, which is so exciting, definitely. Writers who are interested jump into that space too. There are problems to solve, there are problems to solve in all of these spaces. And so I know we’re going to talk a little bit more about the problems she’s solving today in the second part of the conversation. So I won’t give too much away, but it’s exciting to hear about that too. Before we kind of wrap up here, the last note I wanted to mention is that we talked a good amount about how her experience working on storylines can really inform what she does today for clients. And I was just thinking about storylines and how she was talking about the hook and really transitioning from one email to the next. So people want to… They’re ready and they’re excited to read the next email because those transitions are so seamless and that’s really tricky.
She does it really well. But most, not to say most of us don’t, I struggle with that. Oftentimes it feels like my emails even in a sales sequence, they’re defined. It’s like you just read one by itself and it doesn’t really speak to the other emails. And so I think there’s a lot we can learn just from Mariam and seeing writers and reading from writers who do this well, so that we’re transitioning easily and it doesn’t feel like we’re starting over. Every time we read an email from a business or a brand or an individual, it feels like that relationship is developing and we’re even looking forward to it. So that’s something that I am going to work on with even our TCC emails. We’re sending daily emails now. How do we make those transitions? Especially if it’s one email is from Rob, the next day it’s from me. How do we make more of a connection there? So it feels like it’s connected. So that’s something that stuck to me. Jenn, anything else before we wrap this part?
Jenn Prochaska: No. Yeah, I love the email thing and the idea that somebody’s going to be excited to get your next email. That is a shift for me because, like you were saying, my emails tend to be siloed. So I love that she mentioned that. I mean, we’re story crafters. We talk about that all the time. And the fact that she can translate that so naturally into her emails, that’s a real gift. Let’s get to the interview with Mariam.
Kira Hug: I want to fast forward now to where you are today just to share with anyone listening, what does your business look like?
Mariam Vossough: In the middle of relaunching my brand. When I came to the Accelerator, I didn’t have any experience of being a personal brand. I’d never considered what I did as a business because I always had an agent, because for any reason I really had an agent, one because you kind of had to have an agent for sort of status. Also, I am rubbish at talking about anything financial. Put me in a meeting to talk about the work, I can talk all day. As soon as fees or anything come up, I’m like no. So my agent dealt with all that. So thinking of what I do as a business was a big leap for me and quite a struggle, actually. And when I left the Accelerator, I didn’t niche down like most people did by deliverable or by who you were writing for.
The one thing that’s gone throughout the whole of my writing career is comedy. I love writing comedy even in places it’s not meant to be. I managed to sneak it in somehow. And so I thought, well that’s how I’m going to niche. I’m going to niche my style of writing. And I did that and I was really pleased with my website, et cetera, et cetera. But something was just not clicking with me and I was finding marketing stuff, writing… Something wasn’t right and I could not figure out what it was. And am I allowed to mention the M word on this podcast?
Rob Marsh: Yeah, go for it. We can always cut what we need to.
Mariam Vossough: Well, I realized, I began working with a, here it comes, a menopause mentor who’s amazing. I know we’re not allowed to talk about that, but it’s a thing, men, get used to it.
Rob Marsh: This is a safe space. You can talk about that all day long.
Mariam Vossough: I realized that my identity as a writer and my niche that I wanted was all tied up with where I was, having just turned 50. Turned 50, it had such a fundamental shift for me in terms of, it just seems to open up the fact that you are at this huge crossroads in your life and you look back at everything you’ve done, not in a morbid way. But you look forward and you’re not 20, you haven’t got that infinite amount of years left and you’re like, you’re left with, well, what do I want to do really? I don’t want to waste this time. What do I want to be? And I realized that for so long I’d been playing so many roles to so many other people, mother, sister, daughter, carer, boss, all of the things you can list off. But I’ve kind of forgotten who I was so I wasn’t able to niche because you’re told your authentic self and your marketing and all that, the only thing you’ve got that’s unique is you.
All the things that I tell everyone else, but I’ve kind of forgotten who I was. So going through this process of rediscovering myself away from all those other things that I was, then I realized that that actually is my niche. So now I work with Gen X women, I help them… I call it their Gen X factor, help them rediscover their Gen X factor and get themselves out there and stop being afraid of getting in front of the video. And just because we’re midlife women, we do not have to be invisible. And we’ve got so much to offer though. I’ve got so much experience and I see women around, we’re the same, they don’t know how to do this online marketing stuff.
And I don’t mean the basics day-to-day of how to send an email and all that kind of thing. I mean, they don’t know how to be. We don’t have any role models. We don’t know how it is as a midlife and when I am supposed to be on camera, on TikTok, on YouTube and my philosophy is just do what you want to do. I’ve never been a rule follower and suddenly I felt a bit sort of timid and oh, should I do TikTok? And now I’m like, no, you do you. And you find your fierceness, your badass, whatever that is and get out there and sell it to the world. So that’s who I am. That’s now my niche and I love it.
Rob Marsh: Mariam, I think you’re making history as the first person ever to pay attention to Gen X. So…
Mariam Vossough: Yeah, absolutely.
Rob Marsh: That’s different, right?
Mariam Vossough: Well, yeah, absolutely.
Kira Hug: Oh, of course.
Mariam Vossough: I’ve been quite happy to stay in the background until now and just watch with the popcorn or that what everyone else is getting up to. But if I’ve got to be a personal brand, then I’m going out there and unashamedly I’m going out there and I want to help and give women the confidence through copywriting, script writing and using videos so they can do it too.
Rob Marsh: I like that. Yeah.
Kira Hug: So let’s talk about what you were doing along the way to figure out this niche for you. Because I mean it started in the Accelerator and then you kept digging and digging and digging ’cause it just wasn’t clicking. I think that’s relatable for a lot of people. What are some of the exercises or thought processes you went through during that time that helped you?
Mariam Vossough: I tried certain niches in the privacy sometimes of my office. But I mean, poor Kira has seen so many iterations of my services. You must have seen your head spinning. I set out, first of all, I thought, no, I just want to offer everything. I want to do everything, but I’m just writing comedy. So I wrote every deliverable and it was just too much. I want to be good, I want to be a specialist in something. So that wasn’t working. Also, I became frustrated at the amount of small… And this is not disrespect to anyone who does these jobs, but the smaller jobs. I was being offered bitty jobs here and there and one, I’m no good at the sales calls. So that was making me unhappy. And also I couldn’t really get my teeth into anything because everything I do, I do at a hundred percent, you know that.
I research everything. So I thought, no, okay, I know what I’ll do. I do launch copywriting because that’s a whole big thing. I won’t have to do as many discovery calls. I’ll really make a difference. I’ll be on a project some months. So I set out all these packages, these wonderful packages, I showed them to Kira and she was like, “Yeah, yeah, this looks good.” And I said, yeah, but I don’t want to write any of them. I don’t actually… If somebody employs me to do this, I don’t really want to write that. So that was when I stepped back and thought something is not right.
And it was only through the M word and that work that I figured out what it was. So I think you’ve just got to try things on. Now, you might get further than me and go into those with all the launch copywriting prep I did and then go into it. But I knew I’d be unhappy. So I pulled straight out. I’d done a lot of work on it, a lot of research, but I knew now. I need to go the right way and if that means holding off for another month, then so be it.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I mean speaking of holding off, what was the timeframe for this? Because as we work through the Accelerator, we know it’s about a four or five month process, but it can take a lot longer to go back and revisit some of this stuff as you start to see what’s working, what’s not, what’s connecting. So how long did it take you from as you really started that process to where you landed?
Mariam Vossough: Well, the Accelerator really got me thinking about… I had to get my head around this whole personal brand thing and being a business, it really was a big mind shift for me. And I came out of the Accelerator, absolutely dead set on comedy as my niche. So I did work on that in that way for some months. I can’t remember exactly, but I was in that realm and writing content about it and enjoying it. But after maybe six months, maybe a bit longer, I just became frustrated at the nature of the work and the constant small turnover. Then I worked on launch copywriting for another few months while still doing the comedy jobs. And it took another few months after that for the M word to click. And that’s when I stepped back for a good couple of months to really hone in on my niche, hone in on the services and see where I could make a real difference.
And I know lots of people, we all say that, we all say we serve and we don’t sell. And I paid that lip service to a certain degree, but it was only when I got to this point in this niche where I understood it. I now genuinely want to be able to serve these people. And when I looked at what I could offer these women, my fellow Gen Xs, it was driven by what would make the biggest difference to them and the whole marketing funnel, that it all just came straight out because, and that’s when I knew I was absolutely in the right place because I genuinely want to help and make a difference in their lives.
Kira Hug: Yeah and I want you to step on your soapbox for a little bit. Why? I’m just going to ask a couple of questions. You answer whatever you want to answer, but why should we as marketers pay more attention to Gen X women? And also why are they being ignored? Can you talk about this problem and address it straight on?
Mariam Vossough: How long have we got?
Kira Hug: Let’s just run into the end of the episode.
Rob Marsh: There are whole books written about Gen X being ignored.
Mariam Vossough: Okay. Yeah. Here we go.
Rob Marsh: Really deep.
Mariam Vossough: Yeah, yeah. I’m currently writing another one. So when I decided on this niche, obviously I looked into who was out there already doing this, which led me down the path of how Gen X women are being served by marketers. And we’re not, is the simple answer. I mean, look at the advertising. There is virtually nothing aimed at Gen X women. My YouTube feed is life insurance. I watch a lot of YouTube life insurance, tailor lady, which are incontinence pants and Audible. Now, God thank… Audible is the only one I actually use, but it’s pitiful that that is the only thing they can come up with for me. And Gen X women have hold of the vast percentage of any family’s purse strings. My kids are teens. They influence what brands and how and what your children buy and you now influence what your parents buy.
We’re in that sandwich generation where we’re helping our parents or our caregivers and we’re helping our children. So it’s crazy to me how we are being ignored because if you just put it as simple finances, we are holding the majority of the purse strings. And if I look at my podcast feed for example, I am interested and I listen to such a diverse range of things, but none of those things are advertised to me. Nothing. I’m a politics nerd. I listen to history, so much stuff. You think we’ve just shriveled up and we’re waiting to die. I’m only 52, I’m not quite dead yet. Yeah, but I’m in my head, since I read all this, I’ve been writing a speech called Gen X Women Are Pissed Off And it’s Marketers Fault. So at some point, one of my goals for next year is to give that speech at a conference because I was so enraged when I read this.
I mean obviously from my own personal experience I can see that there’s nothing out there aimed at me. And there are things that are being advertised to others… Let’s take Audible, other generations and other age brackets that could easily be switched to marketed to my generation as well. There’s just no thought in it. There’s no thought that you can redirect that advertising quite easily. And Gen X women are the most loyal customers. If you get Gen X on a brand, if you give good custom service or the products, they will stay with you because they don’t want the hassle of moving for a start, which you’d be too busy. So it’s crazy. It’s crazy for me. I’ll stop for a minute.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, we could definitely go on. I’ve got lots of thoughts about Gen X and-
Mariam Vossough: Love it.
Rob Marsh: Generations, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity. You mentioned as you’re talking about some of the things you’re doing, your business that you’re doing some things on TikTok, showing up on TikTok. And I know there are a lot of copywriters who are either now moving onto TikTok, maybe there are a few there that are established, lots of people who are like, should I even be on TikTok? Tell us a little bit about your approach there, what you’ve been doing, what works, what you’re seeing is working and maybe even some of the stuff that doesn’t work.
Mariam Vossough: Well, I can say that every bit of my recent work has come from TikTok. I’ve never once advertised or sent a cold DM to anybody. Every one of my leads recently has come through TikTok. Now should someone be on it? Only if you enjoy it. Honestly, I think unless you enjoy… I enjoy the platform. It’s one of the very few social medias I actively enjoy. So spend some time on it. If you enjoy it, great, go for it. If you don’t, don’t do it. You don’t have to do anything. Do what you want to do. The advice that was given to me when I first started was don’t bother with content plans or strategy. Just pump out videos. Don’t even stop till you’ve got 50 to a hundred videos. So that’s what I did. I just made copywriting videos, whatever was in my head that day, I just wrote a script, got down and did it.
That’s when you sit back and you go, what’s working? What am I enjoying? What are the audience enjoying? The backend of TikTok has very detailed analytics. So you can see quite clearly when people drop off the video, it’s quite demoralizing sometimes. Two seconds and the graph goes straight down. So that’s when you should do a content strategy. I’m at a really interesting point at the moment as I’m about to do this relaunch, I have done a whole new content strategy from everything I’ve learned being on TikTok and targeted towards my new niche. And I’m about to get out there and pump a load more content out. Yet there are loads of copywriters on TikTok. Unless you are happy being yourself, truly being yourself, you will get sniffed out on TikTok. That’s one of the things I love about it. Its BS meter is set too sensitive.
So if you are trying to sell or if you are being inauthentic, you’ll be called out in the comments. You have got to be the naturalist, most real version of you that you can with a camera pointed in front of you. And that’s what I also like about it. Because to me Instagram is so heavily curated that I can’t click with it. TikTok is the antithesis of that. You literally pick up your phone and make a video, not bothered about… It’s what you say and what you give to your audience that matters. One of the most popular forms of content is people making TikToks in their car, just sitting in their car picking the phone up and I don’t know if you can get away with that on Instagram.
So if you like it like I do, then jump on it because there’s an audience. Therefore, everybody. And a couple of months ago, I introduced SEO on TikTok. So now you can start using keywords and it’s showing up on search. I know some of my videos have ranked now and that’s just before I even knew TikTok was going to have SEO. So if that’s a thing for you, then yeah, you should definitely jump on.
Kira Hug: Okay. So I’d like to break it down as far as the steps. So if I’m listening, I’m like, yeah, I do enjoy watching TikTok, so I think I would enjoy making TikTok videos and I want to focus on this path to help me find clients over the next three months as an experiment. So what are some of the steps? You mentioned just pumping out content, maybe that’s step one. There’s some tagging. Are you like following other people too, so that they’ll follow… Just what are the steps along the way if we want to use it for client acquisition? What should we make sure to do?
Mariam Vossough: Okay. I’ll try and I’ll break this down quickly. First of all, you optimize your bio. You optimize your bio to attract your target audience. So you make sure you’ve got keywords in there. My username is my name, my display name is copywriter, scriptwriter, video for et cetera. You find your audience. You have to know who your ideal customer is and you go out and find them and you follow them. It’s similar advice to other platforms. You engage with them naturally. You comment, you build relationships. TikTok, it’s community over virality, definitely. Community is everything, which is why you don’t need a big audience to make money and get leads. Because I don’t have a very big audience, but the audience who are there are genuinely there for the content I put out. You don’t sell. I know there’s an 80-20 rule with most things we do, 80%, we give value, 20% selling.
I, on TikTok, would say 90-10, even 95-5. Certainly on the material I’ve got out there so far, I think I’ve mentioned what I do twice in like a hundred videos. So you have got to give your ideal audience value and something that will make a difference to them. Because copywriting is not an impulse purchase. So they’re not going to suddenly see you watch one video and go, oh, I must have… They’re going to watch, they’re going to see your personality, they’re going to see that you understand their problem and you have a solution to it. So in that sense, it’s like most other social media. I think in terms of your contents, what you put out, once you have a feel where your audience are and what they like, you can have content pillars. I work on three different content pillars for a mass audience, for the middle audience, for my niche audience.
And then that helps you just generate… Have no problem generating ideas. The hook is everything on TikTok. The hook is the first three, five seconds. So we’re talking about ad tags and tags on soaps. Unless you hook them in the first few seconds, they’re gone. So your hook is your… It’s things like insane websites that feel illegal to know, that kind of thing or they’re gone. And you can see in your analytics, that’s where they swoop off. So your hook is everything. Then you give your content, you give the value, and then you have a tag, a CTA, a call to action at the end, like for more or whatever. That’s the structure of most videos. And like I said, I’ve never reached out to anybody. I’ve built relationships with people whose content I like.
Top tip is to have two TikTok accounts. One for work and one for play. Because the TikTok algorithm is so sensitive. If you are watching marketing copywriting videos and you suddenly start watching politics videos and dog videos, your feed is flooded within 10 minutes with that. So I have one I go to play on and one for work. It’s got a bit muddled I have to admit, but I’ve got to untangle them a bit. But when you first get on TikTok, do that. Otherwise, you will get lost with the content on there.
Rob Marsh: Let me ask maybe two questions. So one is about the content pillars, exactly what kind of content you’re creating for each of the three audiences? And then a second question is, once people have started watching your stuff, what do you do to start engaging with them so that you can make that connection and either pitch or let them know what you’re doing so that they ask you for help on a project?
Mariam Vossough: Yeah, I should have said that one hugely important thing on TikTok is the comments. You should always put the first comment in TikTok likes that it makes people more likely to comment. If anybody comments or asks questions on your video, you have to reply, you must reply. And if you can, if it’s a question reply with a video, that it builds up community so fast. And TikTok really… The algorithm really likes it. I don’t treat anybody as a client, I just answer the question as best as I can. I think once you’ve built a relationship with someone, you can feasibly approach them with a sort of warm DM. I’ve never had to do that. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do that, but you must get to know them first, otherwise they’re just going to run. So you asked me something else. I’ve forgotten what you said.
Rob Marsh: The first part of the question was about the particular content you’re posting for each of those pillars-`
Mariam Vossough: Oh, yes.
Rob Marsh: As you’re putting it out there, what are you doing on the video that’s working for you?
Mariam Vossough: What I have done through sort of trial and error, I have created three different pillars. So the niche pillar is Gen X women with personal brands. That’s my niche. So that’s my core audience. My middle pillar is personal branding, how do you create personal brands, whatever industry you’re in. So I form content around that. The upper one is online marketing because I found that if you have a mixture of those audiences, you will get a greater amount of engagement. That’s just how I’ve chosen to do it.
Rob Marsh: Sure.
Mariam Vossough: What works for me. I certainly wouldn’t advise however you do your content pillars going more than three when you first start. Because it’s a bit overwhelming and I think your audience will get confused.
Rob Marsh: And just to be clear, you’re just teaching, right? You’re not doing dances with captions or you’re not trying to be cutesy, you’re just laying information out there or am I totally misreading that?
Mariam Vossough: No, the biggest myth is that you have to dance on TikTok. There will be no dancing on my TikTok. I do the occasional trends, but to make trends work, you have to make them relevant to your niche. That’s the only way to do trends. But I only do the odd one that makes me laugh. If I instantly think, oh, I can relate that to copywriting or script writing, I do it. But TikTok wants original content, so that’s what will get placed higher in the algorithm. So no dancing, Rob, don’t worry.
Kira Hug: All right. My final question. I think it’s easy to hear about any social media trend like TikTok and immediately think, well, I’m too late. I missed the boat, I couldn’t possibly catch up. Or by the time I catch up, it’s going to be so busy and flooded, it’s not worth it. What would you say to someone who is feeling that way or thinking that?
Mariam Vossough: I’d say if you like TikTok, get on it. I mean, there’s only been TikTok SEO happening for the last couple of months. And there are so many updates. The app gets updated at least a couple of times a week. They are in a process of huge change and evolvement at the moment. So you are absolutely not too late. But I honestly think it’s crucial that you like the platform because it’s hard work and it can get overwhelming, especially when you’re watching it as a viewer trying to think of new ideas. So no, just do it. If you love it, do it.
Rob Marsh: I’m tempted. I don’t have TikTok. I’ve seen a couple of TikToks I think cross posted over to Instagram, but I’m tempted to try it out. So final question, is there anything that I need to be thinking about as I’m starting out? Is there a fast start? Do I need to post a bunch to get started? Is it a go-slow? What are just a couple of those things that I need to do if I’m actually going to get on there and connect with the right audience?
Mariam Vossough: Don’t overthink it. Just do what I did. I mean, my first ones are terrible, but I think unless you just get into the habit of posting a video a day, you’re never going to do it. Just do it. I mean, how many people are going to see it?
Rob Marsh: And that’s the right cadence? Once a day is where we should aim for?
Mariam Vossough: Well, now that’s a whole another thing. If you listen to the TikTok gurus, they’ll say, you have to be posted three or four videos a day to get big growth. No, you don’t. What TikTok likes is consistency. So if you post once a day and you do that every day, that’s fine. If you want to just post in the week and not do weekends, that’s fine. There are no hard and fast rules, but you must be consistent.
Rob Marsh: Okay, awesome. Okay, well, this has been really enlightening, really helpful, Mariam. Not just the TikTok stuff, but just how you think about story and its application on copywriting, the things that you did to find your niche has been really helpful. If somebody has been listening and they’re thinking, wow, I need to connect with Mariam. I want to find out what she’s doing, join her list, whatever, where should they go?
Mariam Vossough: Come to TikTok, join the dark side. I’m @mariamvossough. You’ll have to look at the show notes to see how you spell my name, at mariamvossough.com is my website. And I’m also the same over on LinkedIn.
Rob Marsh: And we’ll link to it in the show notes just in case somebody can’t figure out how to spell your last name, which isn’t the easiest name to spell. So we’ll definitely link to it, so people can find you. It’ll be in the show notes. Thanks, Mariam, for sharing so much about your business. We appreciate it.
Mariam Vossough: Thank you.
Kira Hug: Thank you, Mariam. That’s the end of our interview with Mariam Vossough. But before we wrap, ah, there’s so much we want to talk about. So I mean, where do you want to begin? Jenn, what excited you the most?
Jenn Prochaska: Hell yeah, it’s the Gen X woman, right? That’s what got me excited. I’m 47, so I’m firmly Gen X. And just hearing her voice immediately started to lighten up when she’s like, “I found my niche and it’s helping Gen X.” And I love that she was talking about menopause and then she was like the M word. And I was like, man, someday hopefully the… Why are we saying the M word, right? It’s menopause, it’s biology, it’s great, right? I mean, I have a stuffed up nose, you’re in menopause. Great. It’s all the same thing, but she’s right. It is one of those, especially for those of us in this generation, it is somewhat of a taboo discussion. And I’m excited that it’s becoming less of one, partially because of people like her. Like hey, this is a real thing. This is what’s going to happen, and here’s what I did and how it affected me. And now she’s turning around and using arguably the youngest form of social media.
Kira Hug: Right.
Jenn Prochaska: TikTok.
Kira Hug: Yeah.
Jenn Prochaska: I mean, that’s a beautiful juxtaposition right there. She’s using TikTok to help Gen X women. It’s great. And as somebody I recently got on TikTok, much…
Kira Hug: You do? I didn’t know that.
Jenn Prochaska: I did. I did. Well, you and Rob six months ago were like, “You got to get on video.” And I had to do some mindset work around it. And one day I just said, you know what? Screw it. And I started putting up videos on TikTok. She broke down what she did so beautifully and so simply. And her strategy and her strategy in the beginning was just do it. And that is, I mean, we can all just do it right? Just do it and don’t worry about it and learn. And it gave me great solace to know that she was like, do 50 to a hundred videos and then back up and make a strategy. I was like, oh, so I can just try things and see how it goes, and guess, there’s a freedom in that. So yeah, I immediately reached out, I follow her on TikTok now. I immediately sent her a LinkedIn request. I’m like…
Kira Hug: You are all over it. You’ve got it under control. You two are going to be besties pretty soon. I love that. Yeah. I mean menopause, yes. I just want to talk about menopause because I think maybe we should just convert the Copywriter Club episode or the series of episodes about menopause because it is a huge marketing topic that is not being covered. And unfortunately, when we don’t talk about things like menopause, it becomes a surprise and it becomes more taboo and then it’s easier to feel confused and disconnected or even shameful because it’s something that we’re not talking about. So I’m excited that she’s leaning into it and I want to talk more about it in all the places, even though maybe the Copywriter Club is not the best place, but we’ll figure out another place to talk about it. And she talked a lot about turning 50 and what that means for her and finding that purpose and how she’s helping her community and her clients figure that out too and really figure it out, but also embrace it and own it.
And so I am Gen Y, millennial, but I am definitely on the cusp. And my husband is full-on Gen X, and so I get to experience a lot of it prematurely with him and kind of witnessing him as he is really at that crossroads too. And I get to see him kind of think through it and struggle with some of it and ask those big questions and so I can see where that desire to really find that purpose lives at that crossroads for him. And so it’s incredible that she’s helping people do that and figure out what that looks like for them. And then jumping on TikTok to talk about it and probably moving on to the next social media channel when it’s not TikTok, figuring out what the next one is because it will continue to change.
Jenn Prochaska: Yeah. For sure. And I also think, and I can relate to this as well, she talked about coming to this… Well, you mentioned her turning 50. I mean, your mortality is staring you in the face, right? I mean, generally speaking, and I can relate to that. I just have young kids. So I’m a millennial mom. Parents like a millennial because my kids are still eight and three, but I am a Gen X in my mindset.
And the fact that I am approaching 50 in a few years here, I mean, that is not lost on me. And it’s also something that we don’t often talk about, right? I mean, there are platitudes about it like coffee mug sayings and motivational this and that, but she’s digging in, like listen, let’s talk. What do you really want to do? Now is the time to get real. You’ve done all that other stuff, let’s get real. And she’s living what she’s teaching, and that is the most authentic form of mentorship there is. So yeah, I’m super excited to continue to watch her and hopefully my multiple messages didn’t scare her away. And she’ll be my –
Kira Hug: She’s like, who is this person Jenn?
Well, I want to hear more about TikTok because I didn’t even know that you were on it when we connected. So what attracted me to it as someone who’s like, ugh, I really don’t want another social media channel. I don’t know if I need another social media channel, but I do like that she mentioned the analytics of it and how detailed the analytics are. And so I’m curious about that, if you’ve seen the benefit or experienced the benefit of having a platform where you can pull those analytics and also just how the experience has been for you as more of a newbie.
Jenn Prochaska: I haven’t gotten into the analytics as deep as I eventually will. What I like about it and what she mentioned was the authenticity, right? She said that most TikTok are just people in their car. And I’m really attracted to that kind of spontaneity and realness because that’s when I get my inspiration to say something. She also said that one of the reasons why she is on TikTok is because there are people out there who need what she has to offer. And there are, I mean, copywriters, there are a lot of… I’m just going to say it. There’s a lot of bad advice out there on TikTok. I mean, as is going to happen, when you get that amount of people saying things. There’s a lot of bad or unhelpful marketing advice, writing advice, mindset. There are some things on the scarier side that are not helpful in the mental health space. So I find myself really wanting to correct some of that and to say, Hey, this is the right answer, or this is a better answer and just share my experience.
And she says this, as an older person, we have 25, 30 years of experience to share. There’s a value in that. And so the fact that she’s doing that in these super fun bite sized videos where she’s not dancing, but she’s got the graphics, right? She’s using TikToks visual stimulation to make them fun. Yeah, and she also said, she’s not one time… And this caught my attention, has she really sold and she hasn’t reached out to anybody. Not that she’s opposed to that, but she hasn’t set any warm or cold DMs. These are people who are reaching out to her. And if that’s not… I mean attraction, not promotion, I don’t know what is, she’s just having fun sharing what she knows, helping people and earning a living, doing it. I mean, isn’t that the goal of why we’re all here? Yeah, I mean, I’m definitely new. I only have a few hundred followers, but I’m going to employ some of her suggestions. And maybe the next time I’m on here, I’ll be a TikTok superstar.
Kira Hug: That’ll be an episode, we’ll bring you back, see. You are on for 307. So we’ll bring you back for 407 and you’ll be a TikTok superstar. That would be amazing. Yeah. I mean, again, if anyone’s going to get me to do it’s talking to Mariam and it’s marketing 101. This is the basics of marketing. If your people are there, if your prospects are on TikTok or any platform, then that’s where you need to be. Unless there’s a huge issue and you can’t be there for whatever reasons. But even thinking about the Copywriter Club, so if I am co-founder in representing the Copywriter Club and there are tons of copywriters on TikTok, then it’s not a smart marketing decision to not be there and to not communicate if your community is there.
And you’re right, they’re receiving bad advice from so many people. In some ways, they deserve to hear from someone who can talk to them and teach them. And so I think I’m starting to get closer to the edge. I’m not quite pushed over, but, and now that I know that you’re there, I don’t know, maybe this is time to give it a go. I’d also love to know, Jenn, just because you have really leaned into your own visibility like showing up on TikTok and other places, just if you have any advice for a copywriter who feels ready or maybe in the new year wants to lean in, show up more, feel like they’re owning their brand and speaking up, what advice would you give them?
Jenn Prochaska: That’s a great question. The answer for me would be to just do it and to know that whatever that little inner critic voice is telling you people are going to say about you is wrong. And I did a lot of mindset work around this with a few people, including Linda Perry, the coach in The Think Tank. There were some stories that I was telling myself that I didn’t even realize I was telling myself. And it all comes down to, and I know I told you this, Kira, here’s a Gen X line, they’re all going to laugh at you. They’re all going to laugh at you. Right, that’s what I thought.
And I think that’s what most people think. If I go on there and I make a complete fool of myself, they’re all going to laugh at me, or I’m going to this or I’m going to that. You know what? They’re not. And if they are, keep going. Make a ton of money and be like, keep laughing. I mean, what’s my choice? Otherwise, it’s to stay not visible and fail. If I can do that and fail, well, okay, fine. But there’s the possibility of success anyway. Yeah, so I would say just do it. And that being said, there’s a reason why you didn’t know I was on TikTok. I have not made any massive announcements that I’m on TikTok because I wanted the freedom to just do it and to feel stupid and to feel silly, but do it anyway. And just in doing that, I’ve built my confidence and I’m in now, so now I have to be a TikTok superstar so that I can stare down my detractors.
Kira Hug: Yeah. Now you’re fully in, now that you’ve shared on this episode too, but I think that’s great advice as far as just like allow yourself space to play before you feel like you have to. Because my issue is usually perfectionism of just like, oh, I’m going to show up there and I’m not going to nail it for a while. It’s not going to be where I want it to be, where I see others. And so it’s not worth it, which is the worst attitude. But I think if I look at it your way, just give yourself space to play. Don’t make a formal announcement. You don’t have to make it into a big thing and just show up and test and experiment until you’re ready to really lean into it more. And so I think that’s a great approach to take.
Jenn Prochaska: And I will also say to lean into your community, right? So I posted a reel on Instagram, and my reel was basically nothing. It was, oh my God, I keep trying to do this stupid video, and my hair doesn’t look right and I just need to get visible. So here it goes. I mean, literally, that was my reel. And within two hours, I had 50 likes and a ton of comments. And yes, some were family and some were friends, but most of them were TCC community members. And they were saying, “Right on, Jenn. Just keep doing…” Oh, it was totally like… I just sat there and stared at my screen and I was like, oh my God, with this support, I can’t go wrong. I mean, right?
And I’ve had messages sent from various TCC members who are like, “Jenn, I love that you’re being more visible.” I don’t even know if they’re watching my stuff. I mean, they know everything I’m going to say, so who cares? But their support, I was like, I don’t know why I think everybody’s going to laugh at me because the people who are truly valuable in my life aren’t going to.
Kira Hug: Yeah. No, I think that’s a perfect way to end this conversation. It’s just like a lot of this can feel a little easier and a little bit more comfortable when you have support from friends, family, but definitely from other people who are doing what you’re doing, other copywriters. And so I think that’s a great way to end, just the power of community and how it can help you to be connected to Jenn or to Mariam and to other writers who are showing up and putting themselves out there and being fearless or trying to be fearless like we all are. So I like that. So let’s wrap by thanking our guest, Mariam Vossough for joining us on the podcast. If you want to connect with her, we’ll link her website to the show notes. And if you want to listen to more conversations like this one, you can check out episode 75 with Brit McInnis, episode 177 with Andrea Jones and episode 276 with Esai Arasi about how to use social media as a copier.
So all those episodes are social media related. If you just want to geek out on social media, definitely check out those episodes. And if you’re interested in building your business with us in the new year, learn more about the Copywriter Accelerator, you can head over to the link in our show notes. And if you have any questions about whether or not it’s a good fit for you, or if you want to chat with someone on our team, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to thank my co-host, Jenn, thank you for being here with me. Do you have anything you want to share? If people want to connect with you, anything you want to promote? Like anything you want to put out there into the world?
Jenn Prochaska: Well, now that I’ve just divulged TikTok, come on TikTok @jennprochaska and join me. Otherwise, it’s The Write Difference, W-R-I-T-E .com is my website.
Kira Hug: Excellent. And that’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast. We really appreciate your review and we will share it in a future episode. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.