On the 274th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Anna Rosa Parker joins the show. Anna is a brand alchemist and wordsmith who helps artists and creatives develop their brand personality using a holistic approach. In this episode, she uncovers how she uses her background and roots to get what she wants and how we can step into our own inner Viking.
Here’s what we chat about:
- The shift from actor and screenwriter to copywriter.
- Feeling pulled in many directions and being multi-passionate.
- How knocking on doors can help you acquire new skills.
- Why Anna decided to leave acting and the mindset that led her in a different direction.
- How you can use the open-door policy to ask for what you want.
- Why you need to learn how to be fearless and how to step into your inner Viking.
- The equality in CEOs and janitors.
- The benefits of being in the marketing space, and how it can satisfy your ever growing desire to learn.
- Taking big chances when you don’t have a direction and how community can guide you when you feel lost.
- The difference in doing copy WITH vs FOR you. Is it a service you should offer?
- How you can utilize parts of your past into the present and future.
- The pros and cons of working with agencies.
- The key to writing holistic copy.
- Anna’s process in working with artists to find their brand identity.
- The underlying definition of creating a brand.
- Attracting clients by being 100% yourself and knowing exactly who you want to attract.
- Podcast creation and how it came about.
- Working with a partner who connects with your artist mindset.
- The struggles of being an artist and how to overcome them.
- The difference between building a business as an artist vs a marketer.
Tune into the episode to find out how you can step into your inner Viking to ask for what you want.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:The Copywriter Accelerator
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: There’s a book that we’ve referenced on the podcast in the past a couple of times. It’s called The Alter Ego Effect, and its author is Todd Herman. And the big idea from the book is that you can adopt a different identity to help you show up in new ways in the various roles of your life, kind of like Clark Kent and Superman. Superman can’t just be a normal person, so he puts on a suit and glasses and he pretends to be a reporter, in order to show up in an important way in his life.
Today’s guest for The Copywriter Club Podcast is Anna Rosa Parker. She’s adopted an alter ego that she describes as a viking in heels, and it helps her to accomplish big things in her business. Actually, it’s not fair to say that she’s adopted that alter ego because, like Clark Kent, Superman is the real person, and Anna is the real Viking showing up as a brand strategist most days in her business. We’ll hear more about that in a minute, but first let me introduce my guest commentator to for today, Justin Blackman. Justin, welcome.
Justin: Man. It is fun to be here. I always love talking with you guys.
Rob: Yeah. For anybody who hasn’t heard you, which if you’ve listened to the podcast more than a handful of times, they’ve probably heard you mentioned or be a guest. Justin’s a copywriter, brand voice expert. He’s been a guest on the podcast twice before, episode 59, where he talked about his 100 headline project, the thing that kind of put him in the map, and episode 216, when he came back and shared his approach to brand voice. And if I’m not mistaken, I don’t have these episodes in front of me, Justin, you’ve come back and you’ve asked Kira and I questions on one or two episodes.
Justin: I did.
Rob: I feel like maybe it’s your fifth time here.
Justin: I think this is the fourth, actually. Yeah.
Rob: Yeah, fourth appearance. All of those episodes are worth a listen, when you finish this interview. Justin’s also spoken at our event, The Copywriter Club in Real Life. I should just mention really quickly, there are still a handful of tickets left to next year’s event, the end of March, 2022, in Nashville. If you’re interested in those, there will be a link in the show notes. And finally, you can find Justin and his brand voice programs at Pretty Fly Copywriting. Again, Justin, I’m happy to have you here.
Justin: I am so excited for TCCIRL. I cannot wait to get down to Nashville.
Rob: Yeah. And actually being together in person after two years, hanging out with friends. We actually just had a meeting this morning, talking about what’s going on and some of the speakers and what we’re putting together for swag, and walked through the hotel and all the food options. I’m really, really stoked. I can’t wait to make this thing happen. Yeah, we’re going to together again. This’ll be fun.
Justin: Yeah, pick up right where we left off.
Rob: Exactly. Also, before we get to the interview, let me briefly mention that this episode is brought to you by The Copywriter Accelerator. If you’re listening to this episode on the day that it comes out, The Accelerator closes to new members tonight.
The Accelerator is our 16-week program that helps you make the switch from struggling freelancer to booked out business owner. That’s kind of a catchy way to say we help you set up your business so that you can succeed. We focus on things like nailing your x-factor, creating processes and boundaries so that you can serve your clients better. You also learn how to create service packages that clients want to buy and price them, so that you’re paid a fair value for the value that you create. And we show you lots of ways to attract those clients to your business.
We’ve actually revamped all of the content, and it’s brand new this year. It’s the perfect program if you want to make your 2022 more successful than 2021 was. And Justin, you actually went through that program?
Justin: I did. I was in the beta round.
Rob: Yeah, the very first time. And it’s changed a lot since then, but you’re one of the success stories.
Justin: Yeah, man. And I still use the templates that I got in that original program. That’s where I got my contracts. That’s where I got all my official programming and set up my business, before I even really thought that I needed one or that I’d have one. I was so happy that I did that and everything was in place, for when I finally made the jump to full-time freelance.
Rob: Yeah. It’s been helpful to a lot of people. We shared a bunch of success stories last week on the podcast. Be sure to check that out. Now let’s just get into the interview with our viking, Anna Rosa Parker. We’ll be back in about 20, 25 minutes to chat about some of the stuff that stands out to us. So, here’s our interview with Anna.
Anna: I started freelancing in New York for advertising agencies and some fashion in-house, as a freelance copywriter, but it didn’t start there. I started writing, just writing in general. I started writing plays, early after I graduated from University of Washington, with a BA in drama.
I was an actor by trade and became a playwright by default, from not liking or connecting the work that I was being offered and not getting the work I wanted, kind of a thing. So, I started to write my own material.
I did that for a while. Then I came to that place where you wonder what you’re doing, if that is what you should be doing. You know, that ongoing struggle, like, “Should I stay in the theater or not?”
And so, I eventually left, and I got my first marketing job at Nordstrom in 2007. I did that for three years. I started just in the store, selling couture. Nordstrom had an open door policy. I was in the corporate store, and I knocked on the door of the owner, Blake Nordstrom. He’s passed since. And I said, “Hey, I love your company. I can’t be on the floor selling those dresses.”
He introduced me to the PR director of Nordstrom and they were just all such lovely people. I was knocking on a few doors, and one sent me to the next, and all of a sudden there was this job that was kind of created, as I was knocking on doors. I was a marketing coordinator. I did that for three years.
That was probably my marketing school, because I came from the arts. I mean, I went to university, but I have a BA in drama, so that was my marketing … I learned a lot there. There were cool people, a lot of women.
Then eventually, I just couldn’t … I wasn’t ready for it. I left and went back to the theater. Eventually we, my husband and my daughter, we moved to New York in 2011. And it took me a minute. Back then, I was hustling, just working in advertising agencies and in-house. I never signed a full-time contract, but some of these freelance gigs were up to a year, nine months. But I did this for a while.
For some reason, I think because of the Nordstrom background, that’s why I wanted to tell you that, the luxury background, that just took me straight into luxury hospitality. I worked on a lot of different accounts, some very exciting hotels, 1 Hotels and Baccarat, some pretty high end stuff. And I worked with some cool clients, athletes, Venus Williams and some really cool people.
Cut to 2020, when the pandemic hit, and my business was evaporated. That year was crazy. But I found you guys in December, 2020, and everything has up-leveled since then.
Rob: That’s all she wrote it. You have this very glamorous background, as an actress, and then working with all these famous people, these amazing brands. I like it all.
But I want to go all the way back to when you were trying to make that decision of leaving acting. Will you just kind of walk us through that decision process? What was not working, and what were you considering? What was your mindset at that time and that struggle that then led you into marketing?
Anna: Yeah, sure. I think it’s really the game of it, the game of being an actor. I didn’t like that. I don’t like small talk. I don’t like to show up to functions to “network.” Doing that as an actor was really hard for me. It’s almost like I felt more like I was selling my soul. Very different from writing. If they don’t want it, they don’t want it. I don’t care. But as an actor, it was kind of personal.
And then it was also, I’m a mom, and my daughter is at an age where I don’t want to leave her. Doing theater in the States, you have to leave. Even if you live in New York City, there’s so much regional theater, there are tours, there are all these things that … It’s just not a family-friendly job. I just got tired of the financial struggle of it, too. You got some nicer paychecks and then some just like, “Wow. I might be able to take the bus home with that cash.” It was just all of it.
I also realized later, it’s like, I don’t like waiting. I like to move and move forward. I also realized I didn’t like the, you have no control. You have no power. The producers and the directors, they run the show. And so, I think all that together, just, it wasn’t for me at the end.
Kira: I want to hear more about your marketing role at Nordstrom and how you transitioned from the retail side to moving into the marketing role. You mentioned the open door policy and that you were just knocking on doors and talking to the executives like it’s no big deal, but, to me, it’s a big deal that you just went up to them and you’re like, “Hey, I’d like to do something different.”
Can you just talk more about how you approached that? Did that just come naturally to you, to just knock on these executive doors and ask for what you want? Or did you kind of have to psych yourself up before doing that? How did you do that so elegantly, so that you got what you wanted in the end, a position?
Anna: Sure. I think what I do have, and came into this world with, was some kind of a fearlessness, in that way. If I have to ask for something, I will do it. If it’s a job, I can knock on doors. And also, I think it was raised that everybody is sort of equal. People don’t intimidate me because they’re more famous or they’re a CEO. I like to treat the janitor the same way as the CEO. So, that wasn’t something I was scared of.
But once I learned that there was an open-door policy, I got excited. I was like, “Okay, straight to the top. I’m just going to … ” Literally, that was the first person I got an appointment with, was Blake Nordstrom. It’s kind of funny in a way because I’m, at that time, a shop girl really. I think he really enjoyed it, that I was in his office, just telling him that I loved his company, but I was not going to be on the floor anymore.
Yeah, so it wasn’t uncomfortable. I’ve always had that kind of a drive, a hustle drive in a way. But of course you get nervous, too. I’m not completely immune to that, but it was exciting. It’s just that, I guess that’s the Icelandic, the Viking in me. I’m not going to give up. I need to get my result.
Kira: Yeah. We just have to be vikings, I think.
Rob: Put on your horn hat and grab your sword and do it.
Anna: Well, that’s why I have to tell people that I’m a viking in heels, just so they get the picture of that. I have cute outfits. Yeah.
Rob: Anna, you talked about how that role with Nordstrom was your marketing school. Can you give us two or three of the things that really stand out, from that educational experience? Basically the things that you’re using today in your business, that you learned back then.
Anna: You know, I think it really kind of polished me in a way, because when I come into that, I’m still an artist. I learned a lot, just correspondence and how you write your emails. What I came in with was a lot of knowledge. I knew a lot about high fashion. You could tell me, “What is that red dress that Nicole Kidman is wearing on that red carpet?” “Oh, with a big bow? Oh, that’s Balenciaga.” I just knew all that, so it came in with that, and they enjoyed it. But I did not know how to write professional emails.
Also, just the culture of corporate. That was my first kind of grown up job, if you will. Yeah, so I learned the culture of that.
And then also, a no isn’t a no. Because sometimes no was really a no. If you’re not getting the part as an actor, you’re not getting the part. But no isn’t a no. So, what I ended up doing in that job was kind of what I am doing now, in that sense. I was like, if I wasn’t satisfied, if the job was a little bit too tedious sometimes, I kept finding things that I could do.
I ended up creating an internal blog, educational system for the sales people, because I was good at writing about fashion, and I was in the room with some big people there. I wrote fashion, like a video script, and then I got to be in the editing room. Really just, you can do all these different things. That’s what I do today and a lot of us do today, the people in think tank.
I think it was that, starting to see, “Okay, this is the job, but I want to do something more fun. I want to be more challenged or stimulated.” That was definitely a part of that, and then it was that different way of writing, that marketing kind of writing that I started to. And I read anything and everything that came my way, at the time. It’s a steep learning curve.
Kira: Let’s dig into December, 2020, when your business evaporated. Can you just talk through how that happened, what that looked like, and how you took action, what you did?
Anna: Before I knocked on your door, it was March, 2020, and I get email, “Okay, we have to put everything on hold. We’re in crisis.” You know, all these emails. I think I just sat and stared at the wall for a couple of months. I mean, New York was brutal, right? Everybody left. And my family and I, we decided to be here. We decided to stay here. We could have gone to Iceland, but we decided to stay and support our city, put our dollars back into the city and just be here.
I’m glad we make that decision because I’m proud of that time. We were here in the summer of 2020, and we were out in the streets marching every day and fighting for justice. Yeah, I’m proud of that time. And also, I remember how lost I was. I think I was lost for a little while.
And then goes into some kind of a different growth. It just takes on a different level. And through all the social justice, I just became an avid ally. Interests changed, and all of a sudden luxury hotels were just like stupid necessity. And I was like, “How can I go back to work and find something more meaningful?” I’m not saying they were stupid, anything today, it was just, that’s how I felt at that time, because it was just strange time in our lives.
I just eventually was like, “Okay, I’m going to find other copywriters.” Because I didn’t have any friends who were copywriters. I’d worked at agencies, and sure a couple of people on Instagram or something like that, but I never had a community or was in any kind of a fellowship. So, I started just looking at Instagram, looking at copywriters. I was like, “Oh, they all follow each other or are somehow connected.”
And that led me to you guys. I started listening to your podcast, one after the other, and just eventually knocked on your door. And the rest is history.
Rob: Yeah. We’re glad that that happened. Talk to us a little bit about what you did to salvage your business, when all of these great clients you have disappear. I know you said you sat for a couple months and just kind of had that experience, but as you start to pick yourself up and think about, “Okay, how do I need to change my business?” What did you do?
Anna: You know, it didn’t really happen until I come back into a think tank. I was so just lost. I mean, I had one tiny retainer that was just like $700. It was just one little news letter or something. Other than that, I didn’t really do anything. I just looked away, and I wrote a documentary script about an Iceland singer. I did different things. I just did everything very different. I read, I watched different film, and hiked, and did different things.
And so, I didn’t do anything until I came into the think tank. I was like, “Okay.” People were just so much further than I was at the time. I mean, I knew I had been successful before and I could do it again, but at the time, they were speaking different language in the think tank. There were a lot of SaaS writers there, and I didn’t even know what that was. They were all talking about, “I work with course creators.” And I was like, “Okay. I used to write for an industry that just doesn’t exist anymore, travel and hotels.”
It really started I think with the first retreat, that I got so inspired by what was possible and what was going on. There was just so much there. You guys offer a lot of content and mentorship, and it just happened naturally in there, in the tank.
Kira: Well, let’s break it down even more. Once you joined us in the think tank, what were some action steps that you took that helped you move forward and pivot in your business, move away from travel and start to rebuild the business? What worked for you, during that time?
Anna: Well, first, I had a very ambitious project. I wanted to create this app that you will take with you on your travel and you can kind of count your footsteps and the footprint you leave behind and all that. I eventually gave that up, but I remember I was on Clubhouse for a while, just shopping around with people, if somebody wanted to do this app with me. I figured somebody’s going to do it, somebody in Silicon Valley’s going to do that thing, and I don’t need to focus on that.
What I did is, it’s that when you start to really believe in your work again, it just sort of happens, right? I just started to be a little bit more accountable with my actions and my thoughts. A couple of agencies here in New York knocked on my door, somehow found me. Worked with them for a little bit and then decided I was just going to not be with agencies, and wanted to see what would happen if I worked with clients, like some of my fellow think tankers.
There were leads that were being posted in the think tank, and I got one of those, and that led me to their friends, sort of a thing. I still haven’t pitched. I haven’t pitched anybody since I got in there. It just all unfolded. People, if they like something, if they like working with you, they’re going to send their colleagues and friends to you. And that’s kind of how that happened.
Rob: Anna, as I listened to you talk about this, it sounds like it’s just happening, but I know, because we saw you do this, there was more to it than that. You went deep on thinking about your business, your niche, all those kinds of things. Can you talk about your process for figuring out who you wanted to talk to, who you wanted to work with?
Anna: You know, I have this thing. People that really don’t like me, they don’t like me because I make everything sound like, “Oh, I just did it, and it just happened.” You know? But yeah, I do work really hard. I do want to say that. I had, I still almost have, 12 hour days. I’m just implementing everything I’ve learned.
With the niche, yeah, I went through the whole thing. I wasn’t ready to niche, but it was encouraged. I was like, “Okay.” And I worked with you guys, trying to figure it out. I was like, “Okay, what I could do is work with people at least, sustainable businesses.” I saw that. That was interesting to me. Then I started to be interested in creatives. The people that I have worked with now are creatives. There’s a couple of course creators, but mainly they’re creatives, they’re designers and photographers and writers. With the niche, I kind of ended up not niche-ing. I really tried everything. I said yes to everything.
Then I worked with a person, or somebody approached me, from Holland who had some kind of a marketing school, like a project management school, and they wanted to work with me. I put together this big proposal, like a $14,000 dollar project. They didn’t have the budget for it, but they came back. I think it was a proposal with my viking narrative. They came back and said, “We really want to work with you. Can you somehow work with us on a lesser budget, or can you consult us or something?” I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting. I’ll try that.”
And through that, I was like, “Okay, I’m going to change what I do as a copywriter. I’m going to call it, I do it with you or for you.” That was one kind of unexpected turn that I really enjoyed, to really work with people, and it’s more collaborative. We’re so alone sometimes, when we’re writing. So, I really started to enjoy that.
Then branding. I mean, I had always been in those rooms where we were rebranding a hotel, or I’ve seen some high end creams and products that I was writing the brand story, years ago. So it’s like, I really do have that. That’s just an emotional intelligence, it’s my EQ that I really want to bring out and lead with that, really. Because I feel like I can build my own framework and just start to build something that can change people’s lives. So, I started to focus on branding more. That was the other part.
And then, one of those times I’m meeting with you guys, and you’re saying, “What about the arts and the theater?” I was like, “No, no, no. That’s part of the past.” Well, lo and behold, I bring that back in, and I meet my creative partner in the think tank, Daniel Lamb, and we create our artists community where we are working with artists or supporting them. We offer accountability and helping them to find clarity and creative success, and I started to work on personal branding with some of these artists.
So, these are kind of three different parts. I do it with you or for you, is kind of the model. And then I’m working on a personal branding with artists, writers and creatives and helping them create their artist identity, or if they want to call it a personal brand. And then there’s the community that I have now and there’s a podcast, Artist Inclusive Podcast.
This is the landscape that is in front of me right now, and it all came … I just tried everything. I really tried everything. I tried out all kinds of different things. I just know that I fall asleep over some long ass sales copy. I’m not going to do it. It’s always going to be somehow working with people. And I just feel very blessed that I was able to find creatives and small business owners and people I like, that they don’t have to answer to somebody. They can work with me on creating their brand and messaging.
Rob: All right, Justin. Let’s jump in here and talk about some of the stuff that stood out to you or to me, in this first half of the interview. What do you think is worth mentioning and talking about?
Justin: Well, I think it’s super important to point out that she had her BA in drama and that she comes from an acting background. There are so many great writers that I know that can capture empathy and emotion stronger because they come from that world. And I think it’s because writing plays and reading plays and scripts, there’s different direction. There’s a different way of storytelling, where they’re using fewer words and there’s more visual clues. So, the words that they use are more dialogue driven and they move the scenes in different ways. I’m just constantly amazed at the way that those skills transfer over to copywriting.
Rob: Yeah, it’s interesting. As I was listening back through the interview, it struck me that we’ve talked to a bunch of actors on the podcast. Jen Walker is one. In fact, not only have we talked to actors, but we’ve talked to people who have done stage management, have written drama. And it seems like there’s definitely a shared skillset here, in assuming somebody else’s personality or figuring out how to be someone else, and stepping into the shoes of our clients and writing, communicating, selling as them.
So, it’s definitely a thread that we see through a lot of copywriters, and even many who didn’t necessarily think of themselves as actors but they participate in community theater. They do things like standup comedy. They’re basically stepping into a role. And something I’m sure we’ll talk about more, the viking role that Anna talks about, but it’s certainly a theme with a lot of copywriters.
Justin: Yeah. Empathy’s definitely big in that world. And I think that it pays dividends over here.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that really stood out to me, Justin, was the idea of just reaching out and knowing what you want and going out and getting it. Anna Rosa Parker mentioned that she knew that she didn’t want to be on the floor at Nordstrom, so she went right to the head of Nordstrom and knocks on the door, is like, “Hey, this is what I want.” And that results in a new role.
Again, as I was thinking through this, a lot of the successful copywriters that we have interviewed on the podcast, that we’ve seen go through our programs, that have been in the think tank, those kinds of things, they know what they want, and somehow, they summon the guts to go out and do it, to ask for the thing. Whether it’s ask for the project, ask to work with a particular client, ask for the money, there’s a skillset there, that the most successful copywriters have developed and start to lean on, in order to succeed.
Justin: Yeah, it’s true. There’s that old saying, “Those who do not ask, do not get.” It’s something that I’m trying really hard to get into my kids, whether they’re just asking for french fries at a restaurant or something else. There’s that lack of fear, that you want to get something, So many of us just feel like there’s people in an ivory tower that are not accessible, but that’s not always true. I mean, you saw Anna really just went and knocked on a door. That door was open. She just went in. So many of us don’t really take advantage of the opportunities that are right there in front of us, because we feel like we’re overstepping this imaginary boundary. But the fact is, that boundary doesn’t really exist.
Rob: For sure. Yeah. This is where that alter ego idea starts to come in really strongly. It’s like, “Okay.” I see my kids hesitate to say things about things they don’t like at work, and I’ve had discussions with my daughter, I’m like, “Look, if this is bothering you, why don’t you talk to the person who can fix it?” “Oh, it’s not my role.” Or whatever.
The fact of the matter is, it is our role. When we see things that could be better, when we see opportunities, it’s 100% our role to go after them. And so, putting on maybe a new identity that allows us to show up stronger, allows us to ask for things that we might not otherwise do, or that we might be embarrassed doing as ourselves, I think there’s just a ton of power in that. And I really admire Anna for the way that she goes after what she wants. She really is fearless, like you were saying.
Justin: Yeah. I wish I had that skill.
Rob: Me too. Me too. What else stood out to you?
Justin: Her line about the vikings, the vikings in heels. That’s just a truly unforgettable line. It’s stunning. It’s visual. You can picture it. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hear her name without thinking of a viking in heels.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. It’s a cool catch phrase. Obviously, the fact that Anna’s from Iceland does not hurt with that framing of who she feels like she is. I just, again, love how it encapsulates what we were just talking about, that fearlessness, that ability to go and get what she wants, the desire to stand up for herself. I think a lot of us, maybe we’re not from Iceland, or maybe we don’t necessarily see ourselves as Vikings, but I think it was Kira who said, as we were recording, “Maybe we should all be vikings. We should all see ourselves-”
Justin: But, as great as that is, you’ve pointed out that she’s from Iceland. I bet at some point, she probably saw that as a detriment, something that, “Oh, there’s nothing special about me. I’m not even from here.” But she flipped it to a positive. She took something that’s unique to her background, and we all have something that’s unique to our background, and she just put her stamp on it. And that little twist, in heels, that’s what truly makes it. She just sort of took two disconnected elements and found a way to put it together, to create something new. And man, I’m never going to forget that line.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. I also really was struck by the idea that Anna expressed, when she was talking about how she was getting noticed. She said something along the lines of, “You just need to keep finding things that you can do.” Again, really stood out to me. She was not waiting to be found. She was not waiting to be validated or to have somebody tell her, “Oh, I approve of you doing this now.” She just went out and did it, and literally created opportunities for herself.
And another huge superpower, for those of us that want to run our own businesses, that want to work with the clients that really stand out in our niches and our industries, you have to create the opportunities and can’t wait for somebody to give you permission.
Justin: Right. What she did is that she was doing these smaller projects, and she said at one point that the agencies just found her and she didn’t even know how. Well, it’s because she created her own luck. It’s because she was putting stuff out there.
I mean, I remember when I did the headline project with you guys as part of the accelerator. I didn’t really know why I was doing that, at the time. I wasn’t getting paid for it. I was just putting stuff out, and then, sure enough, same way, an agency just found me. They didn’t even know how they found me, but it was because of the work that I was doing and I was putting it out. Sometimes when you can create blogs or you can create something, you never really know what’s going to happen to it down the line. The successes that she found, they weren’t accidental. That was a result of something that she did, even if she didn’t know why she was doing it at the time.
Rob: Yeah. And we don’t necessarily need to rehash your entire story because we’ve talked about it on the podcast, on those episodes we mentioned before. But when that agency found you, that created the opportunity for you to leave your full-time job and literally launch your freelance career and all of the things that you’ve done since, right?
Justin: Yeah. Everything I’ve done goes back to that. And again, I was not getting paid to do the headlines. It just was something you guys encouraged me to do, and I just sort of trusted the process.
Rob: I think a lot of people may be listening and thinking, “Okay, the new year, I want to do something unique.” It doesn’t even need to be paid, it doesn’t need to be something for a client, but just doing creative work and putting yourself out into the world can have some really big results.
Justin: Yeah. You never know who’s going to see it. That’s kind of the beauty of the internet.
Rob: Exactly. Then Anna talked a little bit about what happened to her business when COVID hit. She was working with luxury brands in the hospitality sector, and literally everything shut down. She lost all of her clients.
Obviously COVID had that impact on a lot of freelancers, and particularly some niches were hit harder than others. It created opportunities for other people. But I think maybe we should just talk about what would you and I do, if our markets completely collapsed? When you’re totally lost, when everything disappears, what would you do to start over?
Justin: And it’s so easy to do what she even said that she did, where she kind of sat and did nothing for a little bit. I mean, I did the same thing. I think we all did, at some point, over the last couple of years.
But I think really what helped me was sort of surrounding myself with people who weren’t struggling and weren’t throwing a pity party, and just sort of surrounding myself with people that were continuing to move on and building their business.
When that happened with me, by changing my scenery, by changing the people that I was around, I didn’t feel like I needed to struggle anymore. I started doing what they were doing. I started reaching out, getting some little extra work here and there, and I sort of was able to ride their coattails until I could pick myself up and dust myself off and get going again. I think it all just had to do with changing my scenery.
Rob: Yeah. For us, for what Kira and I were doing, you’ll remember because you were there, we had the last TCCIRL, and literally the day we finished was the day that the country shut down. Everything shut down. The flights stopped going out. That last IRL was where we were talking a lot about the think tank and had hoped to be able to bring a lot more people in, and that uncertainty in so many people, so many copywriters, really slowed down that launch. Didn’t completely end it. We still ended up with a ton of really good people in it, but not what we had hoped to do.
It basically forced us to rethink our business, as well, and to think about the model that we were using, how we were attracting people into this awesome experience. The irony, of course, is that if you’re going through something like that, where you’re struggling to find clients or you’re struggling to figure out what’s next, having a smart group of people around you and mentors to help you is exactly what you want. But without the money coming in the door, it’s really hard to make that commitment.
So, we also had to do some real serious rethinking and figuring out what is ahead and taking those leaps into the future, like what Anna talked about doing in her business. She completely changed everything. And we’ll talk about in the second half of this interview, some of the things that she did, but rethought her entire business as she went through the think tank with us.
Justin: Yeah. Some of the best ways to succeed is just to surround yourself with action takers and doers and follow their lead.
Rob: And then finally, Justin, one other thing that Anna was talking about is just kind of how she went back into her past, to find that new group of people that she could help. She went back to being an actor, after so many years in marketing, and has really started to build her career moving forward with that group of people, whether it’s branding or some of the other programs that she started to create. She found that path, not by stepping into the unknown, but stepping back to what she knew.
Justin: Yeah. Career paths are weird and twisty and windy. Sometimes we think if we niche down, then we can never do anything else. But it’s so interesting how many times things from our past come back and create this new connection and open up this opportunity that we never even knew could be there, or that existed. I’ve definitely wound up circling back to things in my past that I never would’ve expected to be relevant today, but it’s just sort of the way that life works.
Rob: Yeah. And a really good reason not to feel like anything that we’ve done in the past was a waste of time. You never know how it’s going to resurface and help us, as we move forward.
Justin: It makes for a good story.
Rob: For sure.
Justin: Let’s go back to our interview and listen to how Anna has recently shifted some of her work to focus on artists.
Kira: Anna, you mentioned that you’ve tried a little bit of everything. Again, we’ve seen you do that firsthand over the past year, and you figured out what works best for you. What else didn’t work for you, while you were building your business and testing? You mentioned nicheing didn’t work well for you, initially, so you almost stepped back and went broader, and that started to work. But what else during this time didn’t work for your business?
Anna: What didn’t work? Yeah. There was something about, I did not want to work with advertising agencies again, because I didn’t want to work with account managers. There’s just something that happens, that there’s a different control and vision that comes in when the account manager is sometimes … I don’t know. There’s just too many cooks in the kitchen. I was like, “I’m not going to do that. I’m done with that, unless there’s something that is really up my alley and something exciting. But overall, not work with agencies and straight-up sales copy.”
Okay, let me say this. There’s certain copy, conversion copywriting and certain hacks, that if they play on someone’s emotions for the sake of selling a product versus working with someone’s true self and branding from there, that’s kind of where I draw the line, I think. That’s what works, and what doesn’t is selling something, writing copy or branding something that isn’t … If I don’t believe in it, if you’re playing on someone’s emotions like that, that’s not for me. But if we’re going to go and take a different approach to it and understanding, truly understanding, the emotional response that that person or that business is drawing in and is drawn to, that kind of authenticity, almost like more of a holistic, I guess, approach. That’s what works for me.
Rob: I’d love to get into some specifics and maybe talk a little bit about the framework that you use, as you work with clients. But let’s say I’m an artist that’s coming to you. I’m a sketch artist, do these beautiful sketches, and I want to be known for this thing. As we start to engage and work together, what’s the process that you go through, to make sure that you’re helping me tell the right story about my work?
Anna: There are a few pillars, and basically, I will break it down. I start with the who and the what and how, but really, who are you? And having people just have a full on date with themselves, to ask them that questions. Who am I? What do I do? How do I do it? What is my signature? Or not even, just how do I do what I do, and why am I doing it? Just starting with that, right?
Then going into the next pillar, which is a method I put together from … Nothing I’m saying right now is something groundbreaking, but the framework and how I work it is, because I’m seeing some deep reflections. But anyway, yeah. Then we find your strength, as a sketch artist. What is your strength? And you’ll show me that.
Then we’re going to identify your focus. I like to go and just focus in on the one thing, like, “Okay, Rob, he can only, without saying only, sketch cars.” So, then we’re just going to take it all the way, and that’s what you do. You sketch cars. Out of that, we take a certain approach into manifesting your audience and allowing your vision to come through.
Because I don’t want people, or myself, to be kind of formed or gaslighted into something that we don’t want to do or we aren’t. And so, I believe that we can choose our audience by some kind of a manifestation, and, with that, there’s so much freedom. And then you, as an artist or as a creative, you can have so much freedom, allowing yourself to be full you and with your personal brand signature and all that.
But it’s all through a connection. It’s a feeling. Brand is not a logo. It’s not a font. It’s not colors. It’s a feeling. A personal brand, you create that. With all these steps, you’ll end up with a signature promise, and you can show up with that.
Kira: Can you share a couple, or maybe just one, example of how you have manifested an audience, either for your business or maybe for a client’s business? Just to give us an idea of how to make that happen for our own clients or in our own business.
Anna: Yeah. I mean, there’s something to that, when you decide who you want to attract, right? There’s just something to that, and always leading with that emotional intelligence and not going too analytical is the way to do it. But there’s something to putting things down, kind of like create your list, who they are. When you start to show up with all that you are, and we’ve done all this layered, integrated groundwork of bringing you out there, in a way, and you allow yourself to show up as is.
That’s when the manifestation happens. That’s when people start to knock on doors like, “Oh, I saw you did this, and I’ve been looking for this. We’re looking for somebody like you.” Or just people come out of the woodwork, knocking on your door and wanting to work with you. Because you’re not trying to fit a form.
If you are at that place, that you know what you are offering, because you know who you are and what you are offering, you also know who you want to attract. It’s not any difference from if you want to attract romance, in that way. You will manifest those people that just completely fit the frame that you have built out.
Rob: I’d like to change our conversation just a little bit and talk about the Artist Inclusive work that you’ve done and what you’re building with Daniel. Tell us a little bit about how that idea came about. There are lots of questions here about working with a partner and that kind of stuff, but I’d really love to just know the genesis of the idea and what you guys are building together.
Anna: Yeah. We met in the think tank, as you know. Well, he came from music and I come from theater, and we connected through that. Also, the right brain people, that’s the people that are going to run the world. So, we connected with that, that kind of artist mindset.
And had been thinking about, “Oh, I wonder if other former actors want to become copywriters? I wonder if we can help them and work with them?” And he had been thinking about something similar. And then we decided to try it out, to partner together and come with … We have different strengths. He is more kind of techy about building websites and he’s very good writer, too. And I come with the branding strength. We decided to try this out.
So, we just drafted that and started to … Well, we interviewed some people. We interviewed some people, possible candidates, asking questions like, “Something like this, would you be a part of a community like that? What do you need? What are actors missing today? How is it coming out of the pandemic? What can we create together?” And just all these questions, to see where people are. We mainly interviewed actors and some musicians, and then we just started that page on Facebook. And that’s where it currently is.
We have other plans, too. People love, even if there are a lot of people that are not super always communicating, but they love being a part of that community. With that community, we thought, “Okay, we can frame that and just have this as its own community. What else can we do?” And then he had started a podcast and was willing to rebrand his podcast. So, we did that. And we’ve run some free workshops. We’re going to do some more. We’re doing one this week.
Then in January or so, we’re going to start to offer also smaller groups, paid programs. Because you know how it is, when you pay into a fellowship, you just apply yourself entirely differently than when it’s free. Although, free groups are great, too. But that’s how that came together.
I love the podcast. I love the group. I love being able to work with artists, and they have a lot of the same thing. They’re struggling with the same thing. Even if they’re performance artists, actors, writers, they still struggle with putting themselves out there. So, that’s where that kind of brand identity is so important, too, so you can own that, so you’re willing to show up. It gives you sort of a confidence and a boost. That’s one of the struggles.
And just people are, they’re alone after the pandemic. Even if their theaters have come back, it’s not fully functional yet. You know what it is, also, that I love about it? It’s connecting all the dots. There’s the marketing and there’s the writing; it’s all coming together. I feel complete now, but it’s true. It’s really nice to have this community and hang out with these amazing artists.
Kira: What has surprised you the most, as you’ve built this community with Daniel?
Anna: What has surprised me the most? How vulnerable people are, how open they can be, and how they’re willing to really open up and ask for help. Because I never asked for help. I didn’t have a community. I felt like I had to build everything myself, including a solo show I did off Broadway and things like that. So, I think it’s really beautiful to see how open, transparent they are.
We also live in these times where there are a lot of changes. There are a lot of exciting changes in casting, that things have been just busted. You can’t cast white casts anymore. These stories have to reflect the people in the community, in the country. Equity and inclusion is a big factor in that, and it’s been really beautiful hearing these stories on our podcast with actors that had been pigeonholed before, and just see how the transformation of casting. I mean, it’s still not great, but there’s definitely a movement in that. And that’s been really rewarding, too, to see and hear.
Rob: As you’ve worked through setting this up, talk a little bit about the partnership that you have. We know that it’s not all roses, although for us, of course it has been all roses, but working with a partner, obviously you’re-
Kira: Has it?
Rob: Yeah, for sure. All roses, bouquets, petals everywhere. Clearly though, you’re matching two different personalities. Sometimes you have different goals, different aspirations. How have you and Daniel been able to work through some of those things?
Anna: Yeah. I mean, thankfully we bring in different strengths and talents. We’re also artists, at the same time. So, there’s a certain … We get along really well. He’s funny. Humor is really important to me.
We meet up weekly, create a list. We create goals. For example, we were going to do a course in October, and I was like, “You know what? Let’s wait, because I’m worried that these artists think we’re just here to sell them something.” I wasn’t ready for it, right? But we just addressed it all. I think the partnership, it’s so far so good, Rob. I mean, we’re not dramatic people. We’re not moody, and it’s not difficult. Yet. I’m knocking on wood here, though. I’m scared, now that I said it I’ll jinx it.
Kira: We want to hear about a big fight. That’s what we want to hear about, between the two of you.
Anna: That’s scaring me.
Kira: I’m curious, because you’re in the artist space and then you are also in the marketing world, what is the difference between building your business as an artist and really building a business as a marketer? What are some really big differences you’ve seen, as you’ve been in both spaces?
Anna: Yeah. In the marketing space, there’s definitely much more left brain in there, in that space. And they tend to see things in fractions, I guess, and pieces, and always building. It’s a different pace, in a way. Where artists are more right brain. We tend to see the image as a whole, and it’s not not broken. You know? I think that’s definitely the difference.
Another is, artists, overall, they don’t have the need to always be chiming in, or they don’t need to peak fast. It’s just a little bit more … They’re more observant, a lot of people. I mean, there are always these talkative people also, but overall I feel like they’re more observant. And then, at the same time, the marketing world, it can be a little fast and people want the results right away. It’s a very different … They’re both hustles, but it’s a very different hustle.
There’s certain elements to the marketing world that I just don’t connect with at all, and that’s probably the sales funnels and all that. That’s more kind of left brain. It’s the only way I can divide it, by splitting the brain in half, but overall.
And that’s why the community, because we can also teach artists about marketing and how to market themselves, how to brand themselves, how to build their own websites, how they can add some kind of a signature flare to their brand, that’s what we’re doing on that side. And then in our marketing, or at least in my marketing, then there is a little bit of that artist flare, too. I’m a very visual person. My tagline used to be “my taste is my talent,” because I could just build things out of seeing it in my own head. Yeah, it’s a very left and right brain.
I’m surprised how many copywriters are left brain. I thought, “Oh, there going to be a lot of copywriters that come from the arts.” But a lot of them don’t. A lot of them come from very different fields, business fields, law, journalism. It’s just kind of a mix.
Rob: You get to work in a very interesting space with interesting people and different challenges, which I admire. I like that. So, what’s next for you, Anna? Where does your business evolve from where it is today?
Anna: Yeah, thank you. That’s a good question. I love the personal branding side of my business, and I kind of want to focus on that more. And I have been, actually. I’m adding different workshops that I’m adding. For example, this week I have an intensive with a couple of designers. I have these one-day workshops, and then I do my work and then they end up with some sort of a rebrand guide. And then I am looking into building longer worships. So, actually coaching is something I didn’t expect to come out of this, but that’s your guys’s fault. You made me do it. So, that’s part of my what is next.
Then I have this absurd lifestyle, where I live in New York City and I also live in Iceland part of the year. I’m going there in mid-December and through January. And during that time, I’ll start another podcast in Icelandic with one of my clients who’s there.
I think with the copywriting, I think that’s the only aspect of my business that is not going to be bespoke, because everything ends up being very bespoke. I am so interested in so many projects that come my way. But I’ve decided to simplify my copywriting business, and I can finally put that HoneyBook into work and just have it work. And then the branding business, it’s more bespoke and different clients. Yeah, I don’t know. What else should I … Am I missing something? Then the community, we’ll see what happens with that. What do you think I should be doing next?
Kira: I think you’ve got plenty to keep you busy over the next few months and year ahead. So, I want to know how I can be more of a viking in my own business. What are some tips? What can I do that I can pull in from your experience as a viking in my own business and life?
Anna: Yeah. So, let’s deconstruct me for a second, then. The viking part of me is probably that fearlessness, not afraid of knocking on doors and client doors. That’s one part.
I think the other part is resilient, which you are. You are all these things. I mean, I live in New York City, and I don’t know if this is a viking thing, but I’m sometimes … “Girl, chill.” Somebody comes close, driving a car or a bike, and I’m just like so fast to scream at them and swear at them.
Kira: Are you? Oh wow.
Anna: Yeah. Yeah. And I surprised myself. I was like, “Really? Why? That’s that’s a lot, girl. Take it down a notch.” I don’t know if that’s a New Yorker in me or a viking, but I don’t think you need that one. You don’t want to scare your children.
Kira: I never did that, even when I lived in New York City. My husband did that, but I don’t know.
Anna: You become jaded here, you know? There is a lot of … I can tell you this. When I moved from Seattle to New York, I had become somewhat softer because in Seattle, I was considered intense. And I was like, “I don’t want to be intense. They think I’m intense.” So, I softened my voice and go a little high pitched and just talked to everybody at the grocery store. I can talk to anybody, but more of a small talk. Then I come to New York, and I’m still doing that, talking to the people at the grocery and-
Kira: Oh, they don’t do that there. Yeah.
Anna: No. So, it’s like, “Oh no.” Yeah, no. Now I’m going to bring out the dramatic Icelander. That’s going to be a good fit. And it is. It’s a good fit because Icelanders, they can be a little bit like Russians. Don’t tell them I said that.
Kira: All right. Well, you’re making me miss New York. Okay. My last question for you is just, if you can go back to December, 2020, when your business in the travel space just evaporated, what advice would you give yourself if you could go back now? What would you say to yourself?
Anna: I think probably, “Talk to somebody.” I did try to find a therapist, and I didn’t find the right person, so I gave up. I think that would’ve been really good.
And also, “Be ready.” When you take the conversations out of your home and into the public, that not everybody’s going to like it. My husband is Black. We’ve always talked about race. We felt like there was an opening and we could talk about these things with people. That was not always the case. I would have liked to be warned. I would have liked to have some kind of … Or not. I don’t know. That was really interesting. You’re asking about some heavy times here, and you get these kind of answers.
But I think therapy is huge. And also, just when we take something outside of the home, that not everybody’s going to be a part of it or want to be a part of it. Yeah, and therapy. I heard somebody say this: if you talk to a therapist, you build that license for a voice. If you have a space where you go and you get to talk, you can take that voice with you out in the world. I thought that was really cool.
Rob: Yeah. That’s great advice, and maybe be a good place to end. Anna, if somebody wants to connect with you, find out more about what you’re doing, where should they go?
Anna: Yeah. I’m on Instagram, Anna Rosa Parker, and I’m also Dash of Copy. If there are some artists that want to join us, Daniel and I, in our community, we have a Facebook page, Artist Inclusive. And my websites are Anna Rosa Parker and then Dash of Copy.
Rob: Awesome. Thanks, Anna, for showing up and telling us some more about your business. This was great.
Anna: Yeah. Thank you guys so much. You actually have so much part in all this, everything that I’ve done. I could not have imagined that things have turned out this well, and in this way. It’s been such a blessing, being part of your program. You guys have really … These retreats are incredible, too. I think I’ll always be a part of your group, somehow.
Kira: Well, we’re going to force you to be part of our group. So, sorry.
Anna: I knew you would, you guys.
Kira: Well, before we officially wrap, do you mind just sharing, because you kind of opened the door here, for someone who is thinking about joining the think tank, what advice would you give them? If they’re trying to make the decision, what should they consider and think about before joining the think tank?
Anna: You know, if the price tank is intimidating or it doesn’t seem like you can afford it, just maybe you can revisit that. And I do have to say that I was in the think tank without pitching my return on investment. I think like five months in, I paid for the year. And that was just through leads and connection and being a part of a community. So, that was huge. Because I was like, “Oh, I spent that money. I don’t know. I’m not working.” You know? So, I would definitely look into that. There’s so many people that want to help you and work with you. And I’m not even always chatting people up. I tend to be a little quiet in there, sometimes.
And that it’s like a school. I mean, I feel like I went to grad school. There’s so much that I learned. So, that is also … Yeah. And just meet a bunch of really kind people, some big thinkers.
Rob: That’s the end of our interview with Anna Rosa Parker. Before we wrap up, let’s talk about a couple more things, Justin. One of the things that jumped out, she starts talking about her experience working with agencies. She’s a little bit negative on that, and I just want to touch on this, that working with agencies can be awesome if you understand the system.
If you understand how they work, it is a totally different experience than working with solopreneurs or businesses on your own, because they’ve got their own processes. They oftentimes have their own payment terms and plans. The account executive at the agency is the one that’s going to be doing most, if not all, of the interfacing with the client. So, you may not even see a client. The agency actually becomes your client. But if you can get over some of those things, working with an agency can be a great way to build a portfolio, a great way to get experience.
On the other hand, I have to agree with Anna. It’s tough. Those things can be really big hurdles, and you can end up feeling not respected by the client, by the agency. Sometimes you have an agency rate, which is less than your normal working rate. All of those things. So, I don’t want to disagree with her, necessarily, but I will say there are copywriters who are great for agencies, and there are copywriters who maybe shouldn’t be working with agencies and should find other clients.
Justin: For sure. I’ve worked with a couple, and it’s been a mixed bag. Some of them have been absolutely great. Some of them have been some of my best and most consistent clients. But I’ve also worked with some that I would never recommend anybody work with, where I would never want to work with again. You just don’t really know, and every experience is going to be different.
But don’t rule it out because sometimes it’s nice having someone that does all the client-getting work for you. I was in the shut up and let me write phase for a long time, and agencies were great for that. They just basically handed me an assignment, and I just knocked it out. It was a great relationship, for a while. Other ones just have not really been very great for my career.
Rob: Yep. I’ve done the same thing. Good agencies are great. Bad agencies are the worst. I think you just have to experience the two, to start to be able to tell between them.
Another thing that Anna mentioned that could be a really interesting topic of discussion, not just between us but all copywriters. When she mentions writing authentic copy and not playing on the emotions, which is an interesting idea because copy and selling is emotional. In some ways it’s impossible to do without being emotional, but clearly Anna’s referring to specific things, about taking advantage and playing on a person’s emotions, when she talked a little bit about that. What are your thoughts there?
Justin: Yeah. I think this is something that becomes clearer to you over time, and it usually happens after you’ve been asked to write something that makes you uncomfortable. That’s when you’re like, “Oh, wait, I have a line, and I’m being asked to cross it. I didn’t know that this line was here, but now I feel it.”
And often that line is the difference between persuasion and manipulation. Some people think persuasion is a dirty word, but it’s not. Persuasion is essentially when you’re trying to sell somebody something because you think it’s good for them. Whereas in manipulation, you’re trying to sell someone something because it’s good for you. I think when we cross that line or when we teeter that line, it triggers some feelings that we don’t like, that we don’t want to feel. But it’s good to have that, because that sets your moral compass and it lets you know where your boundaries are.
Rob: Yeah. You reminded me of a client in my agency days. It was actually one of the last clients that I had when I worked full-time at an agency. And it was one of the things that made me think, “Hmm. Maybe I don’t love this part of the job.”
It was a client who was taking in radioactive waste and burying it in the desert, here in Utah. Totally legal, but it was just one of those things where I just felt kind of icky writing PR for them about how wonderful this company was. A needed service, I recognize that you just can’t have radioactive waste left at hospitals and wherever else it’s generated, but at the same time, convincing people that it’s okay to have this buried close to a town or whatever, it was one of those assignments that was like, “Yeah, this really isn’t for me. I need to find something else.”
That helped me move onto the next job that I had and ultimately led to me building the career that I built. So, being comfortable with what you write is important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that anything that you write that’s emotional is necessarily playing on the person that you’re talking to, or that you’re trying to persuade. Again, because everything we do as humans is emotional. There’s no such thing as anything that’s completely rational.
Justin: Yeah. I mean, if we didn’t, if we weren’t able to do this, then you could just use AI to write your copy.
Rob: Exactly. And maybe we’ll get there someday. We’ll see. Anything else stand out to you, Justin, from the second half of the interview?
Justin: Well, I like the way that she had a process, with working with artists. That’s one of the reasons why I love copywriting so much, is that we blend that art and science, is that we put a process behind what a lot of artists do by feel. We kind of approach things a little bit more methodical.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. Her process, the pillars, purpose, strength, and focus, anytime that we’re able to put names to the things that we do … I know so much of what we do is similar to each other, but the different ways that we approach it, the words that we use to describe it often become different, and it’s informative. It just helps us rethink our own processes. And like you, I love the combination between the art and the science and the ability to put methodology to something that’s kind of esoteric, in a lot of ways.
Justin: Yeah. Honestly, I think that’s what makes the process scalable. It’s when you approach it deliberately and more methodical, and it’s something that can be carried forward. It almost guarantees the same type of results, hopefully successful ones, for each client.
Rob: Okay. So, let’s talk about personal branding, the topic that came up. Anna obviously mentioned it’s not just logos, it’s colors, it’s the feeling that you’re creating, this promise that you make, the result being that you start to attract the right audience, you manifest the right audience, the right clients to your business.
There’s a lot of back and forth on personal branding. And it’s been interesting, as we’ve been watching over the last say five to even 10 years, the online coaching courses space, which obviously we spend a lot of time in and see a lot of clients in that space, and all of that is built around personal branding. So many personal brands end up looking so similar, and it doesn’t actually feel personal. It feels like there’s this category. I mean, it’s really true of any category. I mean, dishwashing liquids all look the same, right? Spaghetti sauces all look the same. Clothing styles all look the same. And even copywriters start looking the same.
This is something I know you specialize in, with adding personality. How do we make our personal brands not seem the same as everybody else?
Justin: You know, it kind of goes back to that last question with figuring out where your lines are that you won’t cross. Sometimes you can figure out what you won’t do, or what you do differently from somebody else, and build from there. A lot of times, we kind of know what we stand for, but we don’t necessarily know how to put that into words. But we know things that we don’t like. Sometimes it’s actually easier to start with an enemy than figuring out what you’re building toward.
Rob: Yeah. Talk a little bit more about that. What do you mean we’re starting out with an enemy, when it comes to a copywriting business?
Justin: Well, it could be that there’s a brand out there that you just don’t like, whether it’s because it’s too vanilla or too plain, or that you just don’t like that everything is starting to sound the same. It could really be anything. Or it could even be a market, a niche that you feel is wrong for a brand. When you see something that you disagree with, you’re like, “No, here’s how I’d do it differently.” And then if you hone into that and be like, “Wait, how did I get to that answer?” And keep asking why you got those changes and why you want to do what you want to do. Sometimes that’s what leads you to that separate path, to help you figure out what that true differentiator is. That’s where you get your unique value prop, and you can kind of build on that.
Rob: And then, of course, it includes choosing the niche and the very specific problems that you can solve as a copywriter, all of this stuff, the talent stack that you bring to the table. All of it combines, hopefully to create something that’s different from everybody else. And maybe we just need to think about our photography a little bit differently, so that we’re not all showing up in the same colors or the same kinds of backgrounds.
Justin: With the really big coffee cups.
Rob: Yeah, exactly. And now that I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering, “Okay, so what would be that different?” Maybe I should go out to the landfill and take a really un-picturesque photo. I don’t know what it would be. I’m messing around, but yeah.
Justin: You should see the outtakes of the photos that I have.
Rob: There you go. Well, we should link to some of those in the show notes. We’ll see. Maybe one or two other things, just to touch on really quickly. I was struck by how much in common the struggles of artists match the struggles of copywriters. We’re vulnerable. We have a really hard time sometimes putting ourselves out there. We don’t want to ask for help. As Anna was knocking off all these things that artists do, I was like, “Hey, copywriters do that stuff, too.” Maybe we’re not all that different from actors, theater producers, musicians, all of the other people out there doing very creative tasks.
Justin: I would definitely agree with this, and I think that most people listening to this will. But I also think that it’s important to see the other side of copywriting, who focus less … Like the direct response marketers, who focus more on conversion and the science and the structure behind everything. Those guys, guys and girls, men and women, they tend to be in a different camp, and there’s not that same sense of struggle. They don’t focus on the art. They focus on the process and delivering something. So, I think there is a different community. I think there’s a little bit of where they’re at different ends of the spectrum, and we sometimes are at odds with each other. But I think that it’s important to note that not every copywriter does struggle with that.
Rob: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And there’s the other side, too, where we’re also similar, in being supportive and collaborative and helpful and transparent about our businesses. There’s a lot of that good that happens in the copywriting community, just like it happens in the artist community, that ought to be celebrated and talked about more.
Justin: Absolutely. I mean, the community that we’re all in right now, that we’re here together, the way that we support each other and we’re there for each other and just help each other build businesses, is absolutely phenomenal. So, I don’t want downplay that at all. It’s what helped build my career.
Rob: Yeah. That’s what I love about this community, too. Okay, last question, going back to our intro and some of the things that Anna talked about. How can we be more viking-esque in our own businesses? Is there something that you want to do in your business, Justin, to show up with the horns on your helmet?
Justin: I do have a drinking horn, so I think I’m already there. I guess I just need the heels?
Rob: There you go, yeah. The heels. You’ll look good in them.
Rob: Yeah. I mean, as I think about it, just like what Anna was doing, going out after the things that we want, not being too hesitant. Obviously we’re not going to trample people along the way, like maybe the viking hoards did, but we do need to be aware of the things that we want, that they are out there, and that it’s okay to go after them. Whether that requires help from mentors or a community of other copywriters to back you up, be aware of the goal, and let’s not be afraid to ask for it.
Justin: Yeah. We can politely pillage and plunder.
Rob: Exactly. I like that.
Justin: 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. Your feedback and support is appreciated. If you like what you’ve heard, leave a review on Apple Podcasts, or share this episode with someone you know who will like it.
Rob: And if you want to listen to an episode or two more with similar themes, check out our interview with Amy Posner, episode 202, or episode 33 with Ry Schwartz, all about taking an uncomfortable action. And don’t forget to check out the episodes I mentioned at the top of the show featuring Justin Blackman.
Justin, I want to thank you for joining me today to add some comments to this awesome interview. Thanks for being here. And last reminder, today is the last day to join the copywriter accelerator. The link is in the show notes. Thanks for listening, and we will see you next week.