Copywriter Lindsay Hotmire is our guest for the 149th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. We’ve gotten to know Lindsay over the past six months as she’s made some big changes to her business—including dialing in her niche and reaching out to a new kind of client. She told us all about the process she has followed as she’s made these changes (funny enough it’s the same process she walks her clients through). We asked Lindsay a bunch of stuff including:
• how Lindsay went from high school English teacher to anti-hog activist to copywriter
• how she found her first few clients so she could quit her full-time gig
• the resources she used to gain traction and reach six figures
• the “unbranding” transition she’s been going through over the last few months
• why she applied her three-part client framework to her own business
• her interest in phenomenology and how that affects her work
• how developing a framework has changed the way so works with clients
• the 5 steps of her framework and the questions she asks
• why pivots are good for your business and why you should trust the journey
• what she’s done to show up more for her audience—and where she does it
• what to do if you don’t have anything interesting to share
• the changes she’s making as she moves her business forward
• how she gets so much done as a busy mom of four teens
• what she would do differently if she had to start over
Lindsay offers a calm, collected look at what it means to be a six-figure copywriter—including the struggles and successes. To hear this episode, click the play button below or subscribe and download it to your favorite podcast app. Rather read? Scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Researching The Lived Experience by Max Van Manan
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes, and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for episode 149 as we chat with copywriter, Lindsay Hotmire about her framework that helps clients understand how she helps them brand their businesses, her interest in phenomenology, and how that impacts her business, changing niches and focusing on the clients she loves, and the number one thing that’s helped her push her business forward.
Lindsay: Hey, I’m so excited to be here.
Kira: I know. We’re excited too, and we’re really grateful that we’ve been able to get to know you better through the Think Tank, and just chatting with you recently about all the changes you’ve made in your business and some of the frameworks you’re developing. We’ve got to talk to you about this, and of course, hit record as we’re chatting through some of this. Why don’t we start with your story? How did you end up as a copywriter?
Lindsay: Yes, so my story. I always tell people I hate telling my own story. I like to collect people’s stories better, but my story really starts, I guess professionally back in 1999. I graduated from college. That was a time where I guess the internet existed, but fairly.
Napster was still a thing. Facebook and LinkedIn, they didn’t even exist, and so I knew I loved to write, but I graduated from college with an education degree. I was going to teach high school English. I thought that that’s what I wanted to do because I understood even then the power of language to kind of change lives, and I thought, ‘What better place to do that than in a classroom.’ I realized pretty quickly that that wasn’t really the place for me. I just …
My husband is an educator. He spent his life teaching educators, and so I have the utmost respect for educators, but it wasn’t my place. That wasn’t my passion, and so by the time I had baby number two, I decided to step out of the world of education, and so over the next few years, as I was having babies, raising my family, I did lots of things part-time. I worked in a law office, I taught part-time at a university, I worked on local political campaigns, and I became an activist for sustainable agriculture. That is the thing that really changed everything for me. That’s how I became a copywriter. 15,000 hogs turned me into a copywriter.
The story is really, I became an activist for sustainable agriculture and realized that all the processes laid out for me to affect change, the democratic processes, they weren’t working. I just thought, ‘If I’m going to affect change, the only way I can do it is through the written word,’ and so I went on, got my master’s in professional writing, and started freelancing. A few years later, I became Assistant Director in Comms and Marketing at a small private university, and spent a few years in that job, and then some things changed, turnover in different staff and I just realized, ‘It’s time for me to get out,’ and so I said, ‘Okay, Lindsay. When you’re making as much freelancing as what you are at this full-time job, you can quit.’ That was about three months, and that was back in April of 2016, and now here I am.
Rob: I want to go back to the hogs, like what do you have against hogs, and how did that start the whole thing? Was this you saw like farming wasn’t good, and so you want to make changes? I’m curious about the trigger here that made you the copywriter.
Lindsay: Right. Yeah, totally unlikely thing for me to ever get involved with, but my husband and I had bought a house. We completely vetted it, renovated it, moved in three months later, 15,000 hogs became our neighbor, so now they’d surrounded us within three-square miles, and the way that … We lived in Ohio at the time. The way Ohio law is written is they were all unregulated, so there was no watchdog, so one farmer had all of these hogs, and there’s just no watchdog, and that just concerned me because I thought, ‘What’s this doing to our water?’ You just had to step outside to know what it was doing to your air, and more importantly, more significantly to me was what it was doing to the fabric of the communities.
You have these small rural communities that had been very historically close-knit communities. Several dozens of the families had lived there for generations, and it was tearing our community apart at the seams, and so when I got my master’s in Professional Writing, my thesis was I traveled all throughout the State of Ohio and captured the stories of these neighbors of rural farms all throughout the state, and it was the same tale of people losing faith in the democratic process, their communities falling apart, friends becoming enemies, just sad tales of disillusionment, and so yeah. It just changed my life. It completely changed my life, and so I kind of look back at it and laugh, but yeah, it was really a life-changing moment for me. I still eat bacon though.
Rob: Yeah. It could have been that then, but it is interesting that things like that can have such a profound impact on like a career change. Jumping forward then, when you decided to leave your job, but you wanted to make sure that you were making enough in freelance, what did you do to get yourself out in front of clients because three months feels like a pretty short timeline to replace a full-time income?
Lindsay: Right. Well, a few things. Number one, keep in mind, I was working at a small private university, and so we’re not talking a lot of income. For anybody who works in that field, you know what that’s like. It’s not like I was replacing a six-figure income. That’s number one.
Number two is that in that kind of 10-year span that I was doing lots of things in the midst of raising four babies, I freelanced, and so I left that network behind when I stepped into the full-time workforce, and so that was my first step, was to reach back out to that old network and say, ‘Hey, I’m back in the game, and so if you have anything that you need or you know anybody who does, please direct them to me.’ Really, just by a lot of grace, I feel, things just moved in my direction, and the day that I quit my job, I walked out, drove home, got home, and the phone rang, and it was a husband of a friend of mine who said, ‘Hey, I heard you quit, and we need a researcher at our marketing agency. Would you want to do this on retainer basis?’ That was almost like two-thirds of my income that I just had walked away from, that retainer was, and so that was a huge plus and bonus for me as well, was to be able to get on something like that. That’s how that worked for me.
Kira: What type of projects were you taking during that time? You mentioned the retainer. Were you mostly taking on retainers? Did you develop and find a niche early on? What did that look like in those early days?
Lindsay: Yeah, absolutely not. I wasn’t mostly retainers. It was that one retainer, and then the rest was just hodgepodge. I took on really anything that came to me, partly because I, maybe of my scrappy personality. I’m just going to get in there like a cross-country runner, and use your elbows to nudge in and out, and just do what you have to do to win the race, and so I was willing to take on really any type of client that came to me, and … I don’t know if I just answered your question, Kira or if I talked around that but …
Kira: Yeah. I guess I’m just wondering also, what was the big thing or one thing that helped you grow the most in those early days in your business because we know behind the scenes that you had a lot of success early, and you became that six-figure, sought-after, a business owner, so what one or two things that really helped you grow and helped you accelerate during that time?
Lindsay: Right. One of the thing was just getting the right processes in place, and so early on, I was an early student of Brennan Dunn’s, and he introduced a lot of processes just from a business perspective because I wasn’t business-minded. I didn’t have a business degree, I had never run my own business, and so taking his course, it was Double Your Freelancing course, and I don’t even know that he still offers that, but that course kind of introduced me to, ‘Oh, this is what it’s supposed to look like to run a business, and this is how I should approach my clients when I’m having conversations with them. These are the things I need to do,’ and so I started to put those processes in place. I don’t know if it was just more a result of a mindset shift that it forced within me or just a combination of the mindset shift and those processes, but I thought like things started to shift because people saw me as a legitimate businessperson, and not just somebody making a few bucks on the side.
That was a big part for me, is just getting those processes in place. The other thing was just community, and I, a plug for The Copywriter Club and just being in community with people like you or other freelancers that I knew, and having people to bounce struggles off of, questions, just to know that I wasn’t in it alone. That was huge as well because if you don’t have that, you can get stuck in the rut and quit, and having people to say, ‘No. This is normal,’ or, ‘Absolutely not. You shouldn’t do a project like that for that amount,’ or whatever the question was, just helped me keep putting one foot in front of the other because it is hard in those early days, and it’s hard now, and so you need people to kind of push you when you just want to stop.
Rob: Yes. We know that you’ve kind of been going through a little bit of transformation in your business over the last few months as you’ve been thinking about the kinds of clients that you want to work with. Will you tell us a little bit about that and how your business has been changing over the last say six to 12 months?
Lindsay: Yeah. We talked earlier. When I first got started, I just did any type of client, and I still am not 100% niched down. Just really out of necessity, you want to make an income, and so I haven’t 100% niched myself down, but my niche is coaches and influencers, and that really was, as you mentioned, Rob, a process for me to get to. Over the last couple months, it’s just really been a process of me almost what I have come to call unbranding myself, just stepping out of the noise long enough that I can really do some deep work and figure out what it is that really makes me tick and move first, because once I was able to discover that, that’s what I knew I wanted to offer to my clients.
Through working with numerous types of industries, really realize, ‘It’s really this coaching industry that allows me to bring most of my strengths to the table, and help my clients in the best way. It’s the way that I’m wired, and so why am I avoiding that niche, or why have I not stepped into that yet?’, and so just getting the courage to step out and do that has been probably, like you said, the last six months or so.
Kira: Yeah, and I would definitely want to talk about unbranding yourself, but I know there was a point where you were feeling some tension in your business, which is probably why you joined the Think Tank and why we started connecting too. Can you talk a little bit about maybe what that looked like in your business before you niched down, before you started unbranding yourself because it’s really easy to think and hear about other copywriters who are running six-figure businesses and seem to have all the answers and have it figured out? You had that, but there was something that still wasn’t really working for you or maybe even lighting you up. Can you talk a little bit about that and the catalyst for a change?
Lindsay: By all the numbers, I am and I was a successful copywriter. Six-figure months are pretty much the norm for me, but it’s kind of like the adage of the person who has it all and still isn’t happy, and that was me. Like something just isn’t clicking and I feel like I’m just churning and never getting anywhere, like I’m stuck on this hamster wheel, and, ‘What am I not doing right?’, and so yeah. That’s where just working with you guys and talking with others and just forcing myself through some really deep thinking that has led me to kind of where I’m at now.
Kira: What does the unbranding process look like for you? What have you had to do during that time? Maybe some takeaways too for other copywriters who are struggling with this.
Lindsay: Right. Really, what it is, is it’s a deep work, and so it’s my framework, I guess so to speak is called the Unbrand Method, and it’s really what I take my own clients through, and how can you take your clients through something if you haven’t gone through it yourself, and so just going through this deep work that centers on really, three questions, which is, ‘What is my why?’, ‘What’s missing from my marketing?’, and, ‘What can I do make an impact?’ Those questions may feel pretty simple on the surface, but really, when you dig in deep, it’s not a simple process to answer them and they shouldn’t be quick answers, and so the fact that it’s taking me three years to discover that, I don’t look back at that with regret or think, ‘Man, you did something wrong, Lindsay.’ It was part of my journey, and so I think that that’s part of copywriters who are maybe struggling with figuring themselves out now. It is part of the journey, and to just give yourself space to figure it out, but you can get there by asking yourself those three questions.
Rob: I’m hoping I can get very real here. How did you answer those three questions for yourself? What is your why, and what is the impact that you’re having?
Lindsay: Yeah. I guess the how probably roots in … This is what Kira talked about earlier in the introduction, the whole idea of phenomenology, which is a philosophy and a research science that really seeks to get to the essence of the lived experience, so like one moment in time and to go back to kind of one moment in time and get to the point of, ‘What were you thinking? How were you feeling before life had a chance to color that experience?’, and so I worked to get to that, kind of the essence of myself, and to go back to number one, ‘What is my why?’ I started churning through a lot of different themes like looking at, ‘What are the central themes that are running through my life?’, and looking at those themes and identifying them.
Then, once I was able to identify those themes, those serve as the lenses or the filters through which you kind of sort and think through everything else. It’s like your North Star. It became my guiding navigation for, ‘Okay. If these are the themes, then everything else I do from here on out needs to align with those themes.’ Does that make sense?
Kira: Yeah. I want some examples because I think this process is really really cool, so let’s bring it to life if you don’t mind. What are some examples of those themes that helped you develop your why?
Lindsay: Yeah. This actually happened for me when I was in the middle of the ocean on a boat, kind of completely disconnected, and I had one of those true Ah-huh moments, and I got off the boat, couldn’t talk to my husband fast enough, and it was like, ‘I have it, and why in the heck has it taken me this long to get here?’, because it’s run through everything that I’ve done with my entire life, and so for me, those themes, the overarching theme is really just, I guess number one, authenticity, but when you break that down, is just really helping people see what is unseen, and so when I realized, ‘Lindsay, this is what you’re good at, and your whole life, you’ve been looking at the unspoken. You’ve been looking at the codes and language. This is what you’ve been doing with every aspect, every part, every small career or big career that you’ve ever had. This is what you’ve done, so why are you not doing that in your business?’
Once I realized that and I understood that that is my why, that is what drives me, then I was able to answer those other questions.
Rob: How has that led you to working with coaches and other people who are affecting change in people’s lives?
Lindsay: Well, if I can tell you a little bit of a story, kind of answer it through story, and it goes way back to the early fourth century B.C., there’s a philosopher whose name is Diogenes, and he was an eccentric philosopher, probably known as one of the most eccentric philosophers that there are. Today, we would call him crazy. He lived in a clay tub that was a clay wine tub. He walked the streets of Athens. He just was a little …
He said some really crazy things, but one day, he was walking around with a lamp in broad daylight, and when fellow Athenians asked him about it, he said, ‘Even with the lamp in broad daylight, I cannot find a real human being,’ and so they looked at him and they were like, ‘Diogenes, we’re real human beings.’ He looked at them and said, ‘No. I’m looking for a real human being.’ There’s a lot of ways that people apply the meaning of that story, but really, to me it means for him, it wasn’t enough to show up with bones and skin. A real human being was much more than that.
Then, Nietzsche, hundreds of years later, went on to say, ‘Whoever is searching for the human being first must find the lantern.’ The lesson here for me as a professional is that it’s my job to help my clients find their lanterns. I have to dig beyond the structure and dig beyond the frame in order to arrive at something truly authentic, and so we are told through so much that we read and so much that we hear that the process of branding, it’s almost like there’s this unspoken idea that it’s easy. If you Google anything, it’s, ‘The seven steps to branding’, or, ‘The 10 steps to have an irresistible brand,’ or, ‘Do these five things and you can become a six-figure earner just like I am.’ While those frames and structures are good, they can also become really disillusioning pretty quickly because people try them, and they don’t work.
The problem I believe, the problem with why they don’t work is because that deep work is never done, and so there’s a deep work that has to be done before a framework can be applied successfully and authentically, and so that’s what I do with my clients. I say, ‘Let’s push pause on the frameworks. Let’s push pause on all the step-by-step processes, and let’s go to the first step, which is that deep work of asking, ‘Why, and what’s missing, and what can I do to make an impact?’,’ and really just trying to get to the core of that and not just asking some of those basic questions, but just delving deep, asking a lot of what I call adverb questions, which are the how, why, where, when, asking those questions until you really can kind of identify the main themes that are emerging from your clients’ lives.
Kira: Okay, so it sounds like this is a newer framework that you’ve developed. It’s taken time to develop it. Can you speak to kind of almost like a before and after, how developing this has helped you and your business? It might be too soon to say, ‘Well, I’ve increased my client load or I’m attracting more of the right people,’ but has it changed anything for you even internally in how you do your work and think about your business now that you’ve pulled together so many of these ideas and done the deep work yourself?
Lindsay: Yeah. I think that frameworks and ideas like this are almost more for the professional, for the copywriter or whoever it is than it is for the client, because it is a way of you thinking through your process in how you’re going to present things and talk about them, and lead clients through. There’s so much behind the philosophy of phenomenology and behind my framework that my clients will never see, but it will always inform what I do and how I ask them questions and how I dig into their information, and so that is probably the biggest benefit for me, at least at this point, is I feel like it has helped me probably organize my own thought and present a path for me to move forward on, as opposed to me just listening and looking at everybody else and saying, ‘Okay. So and so is saying this, and this person is saying this. Who do I listen to?’
Now, it’s, ‘Lindsay, this is who you are, and this is what you believe. That’s the path that you walk on.’
Kira: Yeah. I know when we first started talking about frameworks and your framework, you were against frameworks and you were, like your inner contrarian came out, which we love so much about you. You’re just like, ‘I don’t really believe in frameworks.’
Rob: There’s the anti-framework framework.
Kira: Right. Right, and it’s evolved over time. What advice would you give to other copywriters who maybe do see the value in this and creating their own framework, but struggle to figure out how to even step forward and start creating their framework?
Lindsay: Yeah. It is funny because I was. I did think I was anti-framework, and then I remember having a conversation with either both of you or just one, and I said, ‘It’s not really that. It’s that people over-rely on the framework, and then it dilutes their genuine, authentic selves,’ and so that’s what it is for me, that, yeah, that you need to treat the framework as the guide, rather than the thing that actually defines, and so for other copywriters who are looking for a way, I guess my suggestion would be to start with, ‘What is your why?’ That’s not my question.
That’s, originates from Simon Sinek, and maybe it originates beyond him. I don’t know, but to start with that, to do that deep work and to say, ‘What is my why?’, and really, that process goes back to rooting in phenomenology, and so you have to kind of do five steps to answer those three questions, ‘What is my why?’, ‘What’s missing from my market?’, and, ‘What can I do to make an impact?’ Those are questions that are hard to do alone, so you really need somebody else to help talk you through these because we’re too close. We’re too close to our own lives to be able to see some of these things, and so you need to be able to step back and have somebody else peer in with you, so you have to slow down and identify, ‘What is it that commits you to your world and to your market?’ That is really what your why is.
‘What is it that commits me to my world, and what is it that commits me to my market?’ For me, that answer was, ‘I want to help people with their best lives and be authentic doing it, not feeling like they have to step into this marketing trap.’ Number two, you need to be honest about the way … This is a big one for me. You have to be honest about the way you live out your life, versus the way that you conceptualize your why or your life.
Be honest about the way you live out your why versus how you conceptualize it. This is so huge because we can get caught up in who we think we ought to be, versus who we really are. Case in point, when I first got into copywriting, I thought I was going to be in the SaaS world, which is hilarious if you know me because I do not belong in SaaS, right? I mean, that’s not life like soulless work to me. Sorry, Rob, but some people are really good at it.
Rob: Some of us have no souls, and so we fit very, yeah, very closely into that work.
Lindsay: I wasn’t going to say that. I was not going to say that, but we carry a lot of kind of assumptions and biases into the decisions that we make, and so if we can’t identify those assumptions and biases first, we’ll never be able to move past them. We’ll carry them with them, we’ll carry them with us in every decisions that we make, we’ll let them color our perceptions, and so it starts with identifying those assumptions and your biases, and so my assumption was, ‘Well, I need to be in SaaS or the startup world because that’s where the money is, and that’s how I’ll be successful.’ That probably took me a year of my professional life for me to realize how deeply flawed that was, but I was listening to what everybody else was saying, and so that’s the road that I was going down. When I was finally honest with the way that I was living out my why, that’s when I was able to start finding my way to clarity.
The third thing is you have to do what I call find and sort. This is where the whole idea that I talked about with the themes that run through your life. You have to identify those, and then you have to start sorting everything else you do through those themes. That’s where you’re going to get the consistency of thought and action. That’s where you’re going to be able to really align your purpose, your ethos, your impact, all of those things, but the themes are the things that guide you.
Fourthly, you have to immerse yourself in your market, in your audience. We tell our clients this. We have to do it for ourselves as well so that we can really understand how our market thinks and sees the world, then we just kind of do what researchers call eavesdrop into our market, to listen in and really capture the essence of what our market is thinking and perceiving. Then, the last thing is a constant zooming in and zooming out. It’s kind of looking at the parts and looking at the whole.
It’s kind of like when you have a Google Map, and you’re lost, and so you might zoom way out, and then you really want to see some mile markers to help guide you, and so you’re going to zoom close, and so you’re always zooming in closely and zooming out, and just so that you can get a holistic perspective of what’s going on, and then to recognize that that’s a cycle that never stops. Like we don’t ever arrive as people, as copywriters. There’s never a point where we arrive. If we do, what’s the saying, ‘If you’ve ever arrived, you’re dead’? Right? Is that how the saying goes?
Kira: I think so. Something like that.
Lindsay: Just to not be afraid of growth and pivoting. I think we perceive pivoting as, ‘Crap, I’ve done something wrong, and now I’ve wasted three years of my life down this road,’ but each of those experiences delivers something new and rich to the next experience that is to come, and so to just trust the journey, I guess.
Rob: Yeah, as you’ve gone through this process, then tell us how it’s changed the kinds of clients that you’re looking to work with. Obviously, we’ve talked a little bit about the kinds of clients that you are going after now, coaches, that sort of thing, but I know for a fact like you’ve had to say no to some decent clients you’ve been working with in the past in order to clear time to go after these new clients. Have you been going about that and what’s the impact then on your [biz] … Has that been easy being a part of it?
Lindsay: Yeah. It’s not easy because it’s not easy to turn money away. That’s pretty scary to say goodbye to a client or to say no to a possible client because I see in dollar signs, as do most of us. It’s like, ‘I have four children. Am I going to be able to put my daughters through college if I say no to this client?’
It’s a very scary and uncertain reality of being in business, but when I always have that why before me, when I’m looking at, ‘Lindsay, this is your why, and so you need to move forward in this if you’re going to be true and authentic.’ If you’re going to show up authentically for your clients and be able to deliver the best product to them, then I have to operate that sweet spot, otherwise, I’m not showing up for them, and so then, I’m being forced to revert and rely back on those frameworks and kind of step-by-step processes, which are good, except I’m not able to do that deeper work, and so it just produces kind of same old, same old marketing that looks like everybody else’s, and I don’t want to deliver that for my clients. Clients don’t want that, and so that’s my overarching question, ‘How can I deliver something good and true?’ Well, the answer is to remain good and true to myself, and so yeah. I have had to say goodbye to some clients who maybe were slowing me down.
I’ve had to refer clients on who I knew that is not in my niche, and so it’s going to take time away from me doing what I need to do. Really, what that has allowed here in the last few months is for me to just dig into my own thought processes and flush out my framework and to really think about who it is that I am and who it is that I want to be, and how I want to move forward.
Kira: I’d love to talk about visibility and showing up online because I know we’ve talked a lot about this and it’s not easy to do this, and to just start showing up and talking about your why and sharing it. What does this look like for you, I guess even the journey of showing up over the last six months or a year?
Lindsay: I think it’s really just starts with not being afraid to show up, and so for me, really putting my toe in the water first probably began back in The Underground, when I signed up for a hot seat with you guys. That was a safe space, but it was me kind of sticking my stake in the ground, saying, ‘Okay. I’m not going to hide in the shadows anymore.’ Then, from there, I committed to showing up more regularly on LinkedIn, and I think I had like a 30-day challenge for myself. It’s nothing I published or it was just you need to show up every day on LinkedIn for 30 days, and I did.
I don’t have this amazing success story to say, ‘And I got $20,000 as a result of my efforts.’ It didn’t happen like that. It’s a slow, arduous journey to where some days, I’m like, ‘Screw LinkedIn. I’m never going back again.’
Rob: Yeah. Saw that a few times. Yeah.
Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah, but what I’ve noticed while it hasn’t delivered paying clients in my inbox, it has created a lot of opportunity for discussions and conversations, and people connecting with me that maybe wouldn’t have otherwise, and so for me, online, I don’t have this overnight success because I thought, ‘Well, this formula that worked for somebody else, and wow, look, it did the same for me.’ That’s not then my journey, but it’s certainly my lack of wild success hasn’t deterred me. I think I’ve looked at showing up online as more of an experiment of, ‘Let’s see what works,’ and be willing to test it, be willing to put yourself out there, and just show up. It really is just a just show up.
Kira: Well, and maybe that’s the advice to give, but for a copywriter who’s listening and is like, ‘Okay. Yeah, I want to show up. I get that that’s the first step, but I feel like I have nothing new to say or nothing interesting, and I don’t have Lindsay’s interesting framework to share,’ what advice would you give to that copywriter?
Lindsay: I had the same thing, like how many times can you talk about the same process or the same email strategy, so I’m just going to be quiet. If I don’t have anything new to say, I’m not going to say anything at all. That was pretty much my mentality for a long time as well. Another quick story, my husband and I were just in Kentucky this last weekend and spent a couple days on the Bourbon Trail. If you’ve never been there and you like bourbon, you need to go.
That’s just the shameless plug, because it was just a really fun few days going to all of these different bourbon distilleries. The story that I learned is, during prohibition, all of the distilleries minus two shut down. Bourbon is only made in the U.S., but all of the distilleries went from like 2,000 in the country down to 60. I think now, we’re at 70, and in Kentucky, I think it was just maybe two distilleries that existed. My history is probably fuzzy on that, but the point was for me, as we went from distillery to distillery, is we were drinking bourbon. Bourbon is bourbon.
It’s made from the same ingredients, but if you are a bourbon lover, you know that no brand is the same. Every brand has their special spin that they put on things, and they all focused on the lived experience of the master distiller or the distillery. They all focused on their story, and that was just a lesson for me, just the strange marketing lesson that maybe still doesn’t make sense, and I’m just trying to stretch it, but I think that there’s a marketing lesson in this Bourbon Trail. You may be selling the same thing, but it’s your story and your experience and your journey that shows up to differentiate you, and that’s what you need to leverage. That’s people aren’t really investing in brands at the end of the day.
They’re investing in the personality behind it and what that person brings to the table, and so let that part of you shine and just don’t be afraid to show up authentically, and don’t worry about repeating somebody else’s lesson so to speak because you’re delivering it in your own way with your own spin, and that’s what makes you special.
Rob: I really like that. I think there’s some really good takeaways from that to put into all of our businesses. Lindsay, where does your business go from here? As you’ve gone through this process, you’ve identified new clients or potential new clients and you’re starting to move into that, how do you move forward? What are the next steps?
Lindsay: Wow, that’s the magic question. For me personally, how do I move forward? What are my next steps? I am focusing on offering coaching and messaging strategy to coaches and influencers. That is my niche. That’s my sweet spot.
That’s where my focus has to be 100%, and so that’s where I’m at right now, and I’m also really focused on just investing in me as a brand. I guess I hate to say, to call myself that. It kind of goes against everything that I’m preaching, but investing in myself, so updating my website, getting a new website, just kind of defining myself in a way that better reflects the who of me, and so that’s been exciting just to invest in myself a little bit as a business, invested in creating a nice office space for myself after three years. I’ve said, ‘It’s time for me to be the real deal here and have a nice office space.’ That’s where I’m at right now with my business, is just making some investments in myself that really reflect on an outward level, where I feel that I am on an inward level, and so yeah. That’s where I think I will be for the next couple months.
Kira: What are some of the other investments? You mentioned the office space, and I’m with you there, but can you share any other specific examples of those investments that you plan on making?
Lindsay: Yes. I’m currently working with the web designer to move myself away from the DIY website to a more professional website, and for me, that’s huge because that’s always been like the wart on my face so to speak, like, ‘Oh, okay. Here’s my website. Please don’t look at it too closely.’ That makes me feel like, ‘Okay. If I’m going to show up in this space and be serious, then let’s actually look it.’
That’s the biggest for me. That’s along with some brand photography. That goes beyond just the typical headshot just to try to capture the essence of me, and so let that come through for my clients so that they can see that. I think photography does do a lot when it comes to clients meeting you for the first time online, and so I really want them to get an accurate representation of who I am. Those are probably the biggest investments. Beyond that, this year, earlier this year, I made small investments like proposal software and even just my own Zoom account, small things that go a big way and allowing you to show up in a professional way.
Kira: Can you share your schedule with us? I mean, not your exact schedule, but I always love to hear about how copywriters lay out their day or even their week, so whatever you’re comfortable sharing, but how do you schedule your time so that you can fit in the client work and you can also fit in a lot of this deep work that is such a big part of your client work in your own business? How do you lay this out? Plus, you have four kids, right?
Kira: Yeah. I mean, you have a growing family. You have four kids, so what does this look like?
Rob: Yeah. We want your secrets on how you get stuff done.
Lindsay: That’s a hard one because it is always changing because of having four children, they’re all home still for the summer, and so that makes things challenging, having a office that the kids and the dog plow through the door even when it’s closed. It requires a constant flexibility, but so generally, when they are in school, my day runs from 8:30 to about 4:00. Then, 4:00 hits, and it’s time to be mom and Uber driver running them everywhere that they need to go. That’s generally the schedule Monday through Friday. I don’t work a few hours a week.
I work pretty much solid, 8:30 to 4:00. I don’t do a really good job at tracking my hours on odd things, like I’ll track my client hours, but then when I’m at the computer answering emails or working on my own stuff, I’m not tracking my hours, and so when I say I’m in my office five days a week, 8:30 to 4:00, that’s not all client work, and so to answer your question, ‘How do you find time to work on some of this other stuff?’, that’s how. It’s tucked in there. I just can’t tell you when because it’s really driven by a very disorganized mind and, ‘Okay. I have two hours of no client work here, so I’m going to tuck in some Lindsay time here.’ I’m not structured. I’m not at all. I should be, but I’m not.
Kira: Yeah. Yeah, I can relate to that. This might be kind of a weird question, but so much of your work has to do with there’s some element of soul in it and so much in our work involved, so how do you continue to grow in that space, mindset wise, spiritually, however you want to define it in your own work? How do you continue to kind of tap into that creative space for yourself? Are there any go-to books you recommend or any other resources or exercises that you use to continue to make sure that you’re taking care of Lindsay at all levels?
Lindsay: Yeah. I do a lot of reading, and obviously, I read industry-specific books, but those aren’t the books that really inspire me and help me kind of flourish in my creativity. As far as phenomenology, a lot of the work that has influenced my own is from a phenomenologist called Max van Manan, and he wrote a book called Researching the Lived Experience. It’s a pretty academic book, but it’s pretty understandable as well. As far as phenomenologists go, he’s one of the easiest to read, and I’m greatly indebted to van Manan for a lot of my own thought processes.
Yeah, and so then, other things that I read, a lot of fiction. Right now, I’m rereading To Kill a Mockingbird, which my reading is always slow because it’s a few pages here and there before bedtime, and without fail, the kids come in and want to sit down and talk. That’s when teenagers want to sit down and talk to mom and dad, is right before bed. I think I’ve been saying I’ve been rereading To Kill a Mockingbird for about three months, but right now, I’m just starting a book called How Customers Think by Zaltman, so I’m really excited to get into that because that digs into just kind of the insights and the science behind how consumers think, and yeah, just always reading probably four to five books at a time.
Rob: Lindsay, if you like were forced to start over from the beginning, no clients, not necessarily going back to where you were at the beginning, but today, what would you do to restart your business and get it to the point where you are now at six figures, working with the kinds of clients that you’re working with?
Lindsay: I think that I would have invested in a few copywriting-specific courses earlier on. I’ll probably try to do it on my own for too long, instead of reaching out to the broader copywriting community. I think if I had done that, I may have found my niche earlier and I just wouldn’t have, maybe had some of the struggles, the mindset struggles that I did that I feel like held me back or just made life a living chaos for months at a time as I fretted over the future, but I think that’s the biggest change I probably would have made, is just found some courses early on because it just would have put me in the mindset of the copywriting world a lot quicker.
Kira: If copywriters want to reach out to you or find you, do you have any specific place you want to send them?
Rob: A brand new website soon?
Lindsay: Sure. Yes, yes, brand new website soon hopefully. Yeah, my website is lindsayhotmire.com, and they can find me there. That’s the best place. I am on LinkedIn. They can find me there as well, so those are the two places that I hang out the most.
Rob: Every once in a while, you’ll pop into The Copywriter Club Facebook group or The Underground Facebook group, so yeah.
Lindsay: Of course. Yes. Yes.
Rob: It’s good to see you there.
Rob: Thanks, Lindsay so much for coming on and sharing so much of the journey that you’re kind of in the middle of and how you’re going through it. There’s a lot of really good takeaways, and we appreciate your time.
Lindsay: It was great chatting with you guys.
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes and full transcript and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.