Our guest on the 277th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is Erin Pennings. Erin is a B2B storyteller and marketing strategist who has nailed a framework to help others write their own websites with ease. Creating a captivating website can be a daunting task (for copywriters and other business owners alike), and Erin reveals how to simplify the process.
Here’s how the episode breaks down:
- The transition from the tourism sector to copywriter.
- The early days of Facebook and LinkedIn and how Erin used it to her advantage.
- How where you start may not be where you end up. – Writer beginnings.
- Steps to finding your x-factor.
- 2 things that you’ll discover in exploring your x-factor.
- How to create a framework and processes and how it will help your business.
- How Erin divides her business into DFY and DWY offers.
- The process Erin uses to get website copy written in a week.
- Are live review edits the next big thing? How they can speed up the writing and editing phases.
- Utilizing a checklist for evaluating website copy.
- The transition, the struggles, and the mindset blocks that come from starting up a group program.
- How Erin’s group program students get their website copy done in 21 days.
- Mistakes copywriters make on their own websites plus how to navigate them.
- Building your email list and ramping up your lead generation.
- How to build boundaries around your life while being a yes person.
- Using your CEO days to get the most out of your time.
- Building a sustainable business – taking time off and getting paid for it.
- Her experience inside The Accelerator and transitioning into the Think Tank.
Tune into the episode by hitting the play button below or reading the transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Club In Real Life Event
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: A lot of copywriters write web copy for their clients, which is pretty natural because so many of our clients need help with their websites. But what about writing copy for your own website? That’s a bit trickier. In fact, we’ve talked with hundreds, and I’m not exaggerating that number, hundreds of copywriters who are perfectly comfortable writing web copy for their clients, but can’t seem to get past the blank page when it comes to their own website. You might be able to relate.
Our guest for this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is Erin Pennings. Erin created a framework that makes the writing of web copy, that whole process a lot easier, even when working on copy for our own businesses. And she shares that framework, plus some ideas about frameworks, live edits and a whole lot more in our interview today. You’ll want to stay tuned for this one, but before we get to Kira and me talking with Erin, my co-host here to add a few thoughts in today’s episode is Grace Baldwin, and Grace is a B2B SaaS copywriter brand strategist who works to help B2B SaaS startups with niche solutions to big problems, helping them tell stories that connect with their audience.
She’s an awesome copywriter, has a great newsletter. Welcome, Grace.
Grace: Hi, Rob. I’m super excited to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Rob: I am thrilled to have you here. We haven’t talked in a little while, so it’s just good hanging out with you for a few minutes anyway.
Grace: Nice to catch up.
Rob: So, before we dig into the episode, we need to remind you this episode is sponsored by The Copywriter Club in Real Life. That’s our in-person event that’s happening later next month, March 28th through the 30th in Nashville, Tennessee. The room’s really filling up. We only have about 200 seats in the room. It can’t be expanded, and there are a lot of copywriters there that you are going to know. You may have heard of. People who are speaking include Mike Kim, Brian Speronello, Bridget Lyon, Ash Chow, Linda Perry. We have copywriters like Annie Becher and Anna Hetzel, who are organizing a fun run with free t-shirts. And, I was just looking over the people who were actually just attending to attend, and they include people like Sarah Greesonbach, Kevin Rogers, Rachel Mazza, Jen Robbins, Brittany McBean, Kim Schwalm and even Grace Baldwin.
Grace: Yes, I’m super excited about it. I can’t wait.
Rob: If you want to hang out with all of these awesome people and about 170 others just like them, you can find the details and the link in the show notes to this episode of the podcast. Make sure you don’t miss out. It’s going to be an awesome, awesome event.
Grace: You really won’t want to miss out. I went to the Not in Real Life event last year and it was a game changer. And so, I’m so excited for actually meeting everybody in real life this year. So, hope to see you there. It was really cool last year.
Rob: Yeah, and last year had a lot of really good content but we couldn’t really do the one-to-one relationships and hanging out in the hallway or going to dinner together, and so we’re thrilled to be back live, doing it all over again. This will actually be the first time that I get to meet you in person, Grace, which will be really cool.
Grace: Yeah, it’ll be weird but also very … I don’t know, it’s going to be very cool after a year of meeting over Zoom to actually see what you look like in person.
Rob: Exactly. So again, check out the show notes for this episode. You can get your ticket. There really are literally less than 10 VIP tickets left and somewhere around 50 tickets to the event itself left. So if you’ve been thinking about it, jump on those because they’re going to be gone soon. All right, Grace. So, let’s jump in and listen to our interview here with Erin Pennings.
Erin: I have been copywriting for longer than I ever realized. I had this picture in my head that copywriters were mad men style agency people from the 50s, and I didn’t really, for a long time, understand that what I was doing in a lot of my jobs was copywriting. But from the time that I worked in Alaska tourism to global tourism, and then back into bookmarking, it was all copywriting. It was all figuring out the right angle to get people to open emails. What made a good story? What people needed to believe in order to take action, whatever that action was. So, when I went out on my own and hung my proverbial shingle almost three years ago, it was “Okay, I’m going to do something with marketing, but what is it?” And then, I found copywriting. I’m like, “Hey, that’s what I’ve always done.” And holy cow, I can bring skills that I’ve been honing for the last 15 plus years and really help people make money and build their business and make a difference in their business.
Rob: So, Erin, did I hear you right? You said you worked in Alaska tourism?
Erin: Yeah. I grew up in Alaska in a really small touristy town. We had a ski resort and that’s the main business of the town was a ski resort in the winter and then in the summer, it was tourism. So, it was this natural thing that my first several jobs all were in hospitality from running a gift shop and actually doing sales, and some of it was on high end artwork, and then working in high end restaurants throughout college. It progressed from there. I’ve done everything from being the tour director on the front of the bus to promoting local tours.
Rob: So now I want to tour. I want to hear the tourist spiel.
Erin: I don’t know if I can do that. It was really funny because I’d hop up in the front of the bus and I’d put on this persona. It was still me, but it was a different person than the person that you’d interact with on a day-to-day basis. We could talk about anything from where we were going that day to fun and weird stories.
Kira: What do you miss the most about Alaska? Because, I know you are no longer there. What are some of the specifics that you miss?
Erin: A lot of it, I miss the people. There’s this unique, independent spirit of … Everyone is mostly fine with people being who they are. And, I can’t really quantify that with words. It’s a lot of you do you and that’s cool. I’m going to do me. So, there’s something about that that I have not found anywhere else that I’ve lived, and I’ve lived in some other places. That’s number one. But number two is summers. Man, you can’t beat summers in Alaska with sun … I don’t know, I think it’s 20 hours a day where I grew up. It’s strange that I don’t even remember that, but it was light when you got up and it was light when you went to bed, and if you woke up in the middle of the night, it was also still light.
Rob: Yeah, I had that Alaska experience when my wife and I were first married. She was running the midnight marathon, which they run in the middle of the night because you can, and I can’t remember if it was a couple days before or a couple days after, but it’s in the middle of the night so we’re asleep. We’ve got the blackout shades down because it’s light outside and I can hear some hammering going on. It’s just constant hammering outside, so I open up the window to look out and see what’s going on, and there’s some guy building a fence at 1:00 in the morning. We were staying with some cousins and they’re like, “Oh yeah, well, when it’s summertime, you got to take advantage of the light. So, it’s pretty normal behavior.” I’m like, “It’s 1:00 in the morning. The next door neighbor’s building a fence. Crazy.”
But that has nothing to do with what you’re talking about so I’m really curious, Erin … You mentioned that you had been doing copywriting all along but then as you decided to put out your own shingle, I’m curious, how did you start attracting clients? What was the thing that you did in order to not just say I’m a copywriter but to actually get work?
Erin: To be honest, I probably did everything wrong at first, but I didn’t really know where to start. I talked with a couple people that I had known. I took a course, but really it was all networking in Facebook groups. And, I worked really hard. I spent a lot of time trying to build relationships, but it took time for that to build, and I still believe really strongly in the power of building that network, and it’s a slower build, but I think it pays off bigger in the end. But it was really all about having conversations with people, “Hey, what do you do? Oh, that’s really interesting. How can I help? Or, can I help? Or hey, if you hear of anyone that’s looking for someone like me, let me know. I’d love to have a conversation.” And, it obviously paid off in the end, but for the first couple of months, it’s like, “All right, people are not beating down my door,” which was what I’d hoped for.
Kira: So, Erin, you said you were doing all the wrong things, although it actually sounds like you were doing some of the right things by networking, but what would you have done differently if you could go back three years ago?
Erin: I think I would’ve connected with copywriters a whole lot sooner. I have this mindset block that the only people I should be talking to were prospective clients or prospective partners, and I didn’t really understand the value of having this network of people who have not only been doing the same things that I’m doing, but have had the same struggles. And some of the best referral partners have ended up being copywriters, but more than that, it’s something about having that community and bouncing ideas off of each other has been really, really, really powerful.
Rob: So, can I ask, let’s get specific about what you did to start building that network, how were you reaching out to people or where were you finding people to connect with?
Erin: So, I found people in Facebook groups who were like, “I’m looking for a copywriter,” and I’d raise my hand, but then I’d be the 15th or 20th or 35th person down. And so, they might not get to me right away. I’d say that was the wrong thing instead of proactively going out and connecting with people who weren’t looking for me yet, which I think would be more of the right thing. People who were looking for maybe help creating a website, but not realizing they had the website copy as a project that they had to do first and that they had to wrap up first. In terms of the right things, I found a lot of people in Facebook groups, I found a lot of graphic designers. I found a lot of people on LinkedIn and had conversations with them about what they did.
Kira: Can we get into those conversations? Because, I think that’s where some copywriters get lost, too. It’s like, “Okay, I know I need a network. I know I need to talk to these people, but how do I get them on a phone call? What’s in it for them. Why would they even talk to me?”
Erin: Well, and that’s interesting because a lot of people have this block. Okay, if someone’s sending me a message or on LinkedIn sending me this connection request, they just want to sell to me. And so, part of it comes back to what do people need to believe? And they need to believe that you’re not just out there to sell to them. You’re not just out there to get something out of the deal. You actually want to help them and it’s less about sales and it’s more about how can I open a conversation with this person? And, there is one gal who … She’s based in the UK and she’s social media strategist. And I was like whatever she was posting on social media … I can’t even remember what it was, but it was so cool, and her profile was so well written, I was like, “Hey, I really want to learn more about what you do. Would you be interested in hopping on, having a conversation with me?”
I think this was 2019 still at some point. And she was like, “I guess.” She wouldn’t give me her email address. She’s like, “Just put the Zoom link in here.” I said, “That’s fine, that’s fine.” So, we sat down and we ended up talking for an hour about how she had been a bartender and how that had led her to become a social media strategist and I was like, “Well, that’s really cool.” And she’s like, “So you really aren’t trying to sell me?” I was like, “No, I really just want to learn more about what other people are doing, and hey, by the way, here’s an idea I have that might be a solution for you.”
But, the end goal in my head was always yes, I would love to build my business, but more than anything, if there’s a problem that I could help someone else solve, that is helpful to them and they’re going to remember it, but it also makes me feel good knowing that I’ve, again, made that difference.
Rob: Erin, you’ve been doing this for three years. Has your approach changed since those first days? What have you done to foster better connections or to connect with the right people that you weren’t doing then?
Erin: I think it’s still about quantity. It’s still about going out and having these conversations and not everyone is going to be a good referral partner. Not everyone’s going to want to hop on the phone either, but I find once I can actually speak to someone as opposed to just email communication, and email or messaging is still really effective, I think but once you can have that eye-to-eye communication and conversation and actually see people and make that … It’s not really a physical connection. It can’t be, it’s through the computer, but it’s the next best thing. You can see the whites of someone’s eyes.
People can tell when you’re being sincere versus when you are really out there to just play lip service. Pay lip service? It’s pay lip service. They can tell when you legitimately want to help or when you legitimately just want to connect with people. But that doesn’t always come across via email so the key is to, I think, ease into it. It’s like you’d walk up to someone if you’re chatting in a grocery store. It’s that approach.
Rob: So, can we go back now to the first projects that you started connecting with people on? What did those look like? What did they involve and how much were you charging?
Erin: My very first project was building a website for a friend because she needed help getting something out there. And, I know enough to be dangerous but it was fun. It was some good practice and a real good affirmation that developing websites is not where I should put my interests. After that though, I ended up working on blog projects for a photo booth company, and that was really fun because it leaned into the marketing and it was all marketing adjacent content. And so that was fun, but it was still blogs, and I write a lot of blogs still for people as part of inbound funnels, but it’s harder for me to make a living out of writing blogs than it is for me to make a living out of doing some of the other pieces.
Kira: So, you mentioned that you took your 15 years of professional experience and really honed it and figured out what your X-Factor is. Can you talk about that process that you went through and even just the ups and downs, because we know that process is not easy, but how you worked through it to figure out how you can best serve your clients and what you’re most excited to do in your business?
Erin: I started by making a list of all of the things that I like to do and all of the clients that I liked to do them for, and I started to draw some really clear parallels. It was all about copy that drove action, whatever the action was, whether it was clicking, whether it was buying, whether it was booking a conversation, whether it was even simply going back to something that they had written before. So, that was thing one, and then what I really started to find out is that I really like to work with service-based businesses, and I know that’s a really loaded term, but people who are doing what they do to make the world a better place, knowing that we all have to put a roof over our head, but who weren’t in it specifically just for the profit, but who are in it to leave some lasting legacy and help their clients succeed.
So, that was how I started, and then I started to look a little bit more about the process and what that was, and Kira, you and Rob reflected a lot back to me when we did this. It’s really that it’s about looking to the past and to their existing knowledge and their existing perspectives to position them as thought leaders so that my clients can authentically connect with their customers in a way that’s both meaningful and impactful
Rob: So, Erin, how has knowing that X-Factor, having worked through that process, changed your business? What’s the practical impact of doing that?
Erin: The practical impact has really been building a framework that is effective and it tells a story of here’s where you come in and here’s the process and here’s where you either leave or find a new place to keep going.
Kira: Let’s talk more about your framework. So, how did you create the framework? Because I know we’ve talked about your framework. I know you’ve had multiple versions of it. You’ve improved it over time. How did you approach building a framework? What helped you? What maybe didn’t help as much? Especially for copywriters who might want to build their own, what advice would you give them?
Erin: So, when I first started, the version that I started with was really a Venn diagram visual, and as I was talking with another copywriter, Nicole Morton, she’s like, “This is not exactly how it looks. It should look like an arrow.” So, I went back and I was thinking about it more and looking at all the ways that I like working with people, that I want to help people, other business owners and I thought back to my brand, which is CopySnacks. And it’s all about turning my clients into the ultimate snack to their customers, which is something that you keep reaching for. And I said, “Reach.” So what are the steps that I do for people? What are the steps that serve as the building blocks for people getting visibility and how does that affect the way that they show up in the marketplace and are then drawing business in?
So, I created the Reach Visibility Trajectory and it starts with the building blocks, which are research, positioning and messaging, and website copy so that you can then go create funnels and create hooks in a 90-day marketing plan so that you can increase authority, increase visibility, and increase sales as you go. And, it makes a lot more sense when you see it visually. And of course, I’m looking at it while I’m talking to you, but it was all about how I could find ways to make people, make businesses, make business owners more irresistible, set them up as the ultimate snack or the ultimate authority so that their clients see them not just has a viable option, but as the best, the best option out there.
Kira: And now that you have this framework in your business, how has it helped you so far internally just knowing that you have this framework? Has it made any type of impact in your business?
Erin: It’s helped me get a lot clearer on how I serve people and the packages and the ways that I am positioning myself. Basically, I’m using the Reach Trajectory or the Reach Visibility Trajectory in my own business to start with. Is my market research on point? Is my positioning … are my packages on point? Is my website copy on point? And so that’s really what I’m working on right now is making sure that all of that ties together so that as I’m building authority and as I’m building visibility, people in turn see me as, again, not just a viable solution, but a really, really good option and hopefully one day the option.
Rob: Yeah, that’s always a good step. In addition to the framework, in addition to figuring out your X-Factor, what else have you done in your business to start to set yourself apart and to do something a little bit differently from what you were doing say three years ago?
Erin: I’ve gotten website copy down to … I don’t want to say to a science because there are so many variables that go into it. You can’t say if X then Y, but what I have built is a really powerful framework. And, it’s hard to stand out sometimes when there’s over 130,000 copywriters in the US, not to mention everywhere else in the world. I have thought about this and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. How can I stand out when there are so many people who are doing what I’m doing and you can look up and say, “Oh, okay. Here’s the basic fundamental of web copy.” So what I’ve done is created this system to get website copy done in a week for people who are ready, and that means that they’ve got to have their positioning, their research. They’ve got to be really ready to have all their ducks in a row so that we can translate what’s in their head onto their website in a way that is meaningful to their clients.
But because I’ve systematized this so well, I’ve started to teach it as a course and a way for other copywriters … It wasn’t initially copywriters that I was marketing this course to.
Kira: Let’s break it down, if you’re open into breaking it down. I want to hear the system. Can you break it down into a couple of steps? If we’re struggling to write website copy for a client, maybe we don’t typically work on website projects, how can we break it down so it’s a little bit easier?
Erin: Before we start, I chat with them. I see where they are, how well they know their business, how well they know who they serve, and more importantly, how they serve them, how they deliver. And then, I ask them to bring to our kickoff call, which we set for a specific date, all of their customer reviews and testimonials, answers to a questionnaire that digs into the ins and the outs of their business, and then on that kickoff call, we run through that verbatim, almost to the point of going overly in depth, because I’d rather have more information than not enough. And if I can ask some probing questions, a lot of times by listening to how clients are talking about things, I can get … I don’t want to say a head start on the website copy, but I can hear what matters to them, and then I can go back and compare it to testimonials and reviews and see what about that matters to their clients.
From there, we focus on SEO research and digging in and mining those reviews and testimonials just for some key phrases and words. And, if I have any inspiration, usually it comes at 5:00 in the morning while I’m in the shower or something ridiculous. Not that I’m usually up at 5:00, but I jot it all down and I compile the research, and then I don’t look at it again until the following week, which is when I sit down and I spend three days writing their website. It’s an iterative process and I’ve built some … I call them templates, but they’re not really templates because it all shifts based on what people need to read, what needs to be on the website copy, but there’s some formulas that I use to say, “Okay, this is what needs to go here. Here’s the hero section. Okay, what do we need to believe? What makes it a good transition to the next section? What is the one promise that people want to make? What is that big promise?”
Like I said, it’s an iterative process, but it all flows together really well. I try to at least map out the content blocks for each area, even if I’m not writing the copy just yet, for every page on the site and then I go back in and fill it in with transcriptions from our kickoff call, looking back at the testimonials and looking at any materials that they’ve given me about what they serve, including who they see as competitors and if … I can see who’s doing a really good job in their space. So three days, we write the website copy. I present it the fourth day, and then depending on their availability to go through it and leave some really good feedback, we either have that live review call the following day or the following week to run through edits in person.
And what I’ve found is that doing these edits on a live review is far more effective for most of my clients than trying to go back and forth with round after round of comments, because the reason they’re coming to me is either they don’t have time to write it, or they have no idea how to write it in a way that is strategic, but also a lot of people who hire me aren’t writers. So if they can talk through, they might leave a comment that’s something like “I don’t like this.” And as much as I coach people to give me concise feedback or say what they don’t like about it, it’s much easier to talk through, but they can go through the Google documents and say, “Okay, this is what I really like. I’m not so sure about this. Let’s talk through this.”
And then that serves as the guide for our live review call. And a lot of times after that conversation, they’re ready to go and hand this copy off to their clients. Sometimes we need another round or two, just depending on how extensive it is, but generally speaking, we just need that one round of edits. So, in the space of less than maybe two total weeks from kickoff to finish, they have got a finished product.
Rob: The idea of live edits just sets my back teeth on edge. I can’t even imagine doing that with my clients, so I’m impressed that you can pull that off, Erin.
Erin: What’s interesting, Rob, is that’s my favorite way to do it. It’s so funny how personal preference comes in.
Rob: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Erin: But I’ve also found that if I don’t corral people sometimes and sit them down on a phone call, that it can be herding cats to get those edits and to keep the project moving along. And then, if they are coming back two, three, four weeks later, my brain is in a different space so it’s like I have to take off my one website skin and put a different client’s skin on. It sounds really Hannibal Lecter-y. But, it’s harder to get back into that space if it’s not done right at the same time for these intensives anyway.
Rob: Yeah, that makes sense. So, two really quick questions about this. What do you charge for a typical project?
Erin: The typical projects … there’s nothing typical as it turns out, but right now, it’s about $5000 for a website copy done in a week. I do have a longer package that’s less intensive and that spreads out over 10 weeks that has a few more deliverables along the way, but if people are looking for effective web copy done quickly, right now it’s about $5000.
Rob: Yeah, and I think the week turnaround is awesome. And then another question, I think you have a checklist that you follow as you’re going through this whole process. Is that right? And how do you use that?
Erin: So, the website checklist is really the process that I use to audit existing sites. I have two pieces of this document. One is here’s these 10 points that you should be evaluating your site with. If it’s doing these well, you should be able to get a score of 90 to 100. If you’re not doing it so well, if you’re under 50, then it’s probably time to come back and look through this. So yes, all of the copy that I do has to run through that and it has to get a really high score on the checklist at the end, but it’s not something that I follow necessarily on a step-by-step basis.
Rob: All right. So let’s jump in here and just talk a little bit about some of the things that Erin has been sharing with Kira and me. Grace, I’m going to let you start. What stood out to you from this first half of the interview?
Grace: Yeah, something that stood out to me, and that Erin said that really resonated with me, was connecting with other people. And I can say from experience, Erin is super generous with her time. We overlapped in Think Tank and she’s really … She proactively reaches out and offers help, and she’s very genuine in offering that help. It’s something that makes a big difference, and if you’re not actively … Of course you want to sell things, but helping people is more important, and so that was something that stood out to me. And yeah, I found that social media is a really great place to connect with others and just be kind and help people out, and I think Erin really embodies that.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. We have so many people that we talk to on a weekly basis, whether they’re in the Underground or the Accelerator, or even people just in the free Facebook group, and their biggest challenge is for clients. How do I find a client? Who can I pitch? And, I know it’s a little bit of a long game to say this, but networking, making connections, building friendships is the very best way to find clients. I used my network to find my first clients when I started freelancing. Once I started connecting with copywriters, literally I’ve had leads that have added more than six figures to my business from other copywriters. It is still the best way to find clients, especially connecting with other copywriters, but it doesn’t always deliver that client next week.
So sometimes we need to think about our approach to this. If you’re desperate for a client, yeah, keep networking. Keep doing those things because it will produce clients down the line. You may have to do something a little bit harder core to find somebody if you’re desperate for next week. But, like what Erin was saying, when we ask about the pitch, it’s really about what does the person on the other side need to know, need to believe? And when you make that connection, it’s like, “How can I serve you? What can I do to help you?” The connection has to come first. The pitch is really the last part of that relationship connection building thing.
Grace: Exactly. Yeah, it’s really about providing a service and helping people build their businesses and support their dreams. And, Erin is, I think again, a class A example of that, but it won’t … and connecting with other copywriters is an amazing way to earn clients. It’s a way that I’ve earned clients too. But yeah, you’re right, it won’t necessarily result in a sale tomorrow.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. And, the risk of being too promotional now about TCCIL, but the very best way to connect with copywriters is in person getting to know them, hanging out with them, joking around, seeing them, and so I’ll just drop in another reminder to check the show notes for this episode so you can get your ticket to join us in Nashville. And if you can’t do that, make sure you’re connecting with copywriters, with other service providers, with the people in your network regularly so you keep those relationships fresh.
Grace: Yeah, also at the risk of maybe sounding promotional, but the entire community of TCC is so supportive and there’s more leads than people know what to do with, and people are always reaching out and saying, “Hey, I’m looking for somebody. Can somebody help me out here?” And, it’s a very friendly community for finding work and finding the next client and building up your brand and your relationships too.
Rob: Yeah, thanks for saying that. So another thing that jumped out at me as I was listening back to what we were asking Erin about is just the process that she went through for finding her X-Factor. As I was thinking about this, Grace, you’ve gone through this process really in depth, and I thought it might be fun to juxtapose how Erin’s gone through the process and what you’ve done as you’ve gone through the process and your experience thinking about your X-Factor. So, will you talk a little bit about how you worked through yours?
Grace: Yeah, so finding your X-Factor is something that’s so important for your business, and again, having that overlap with Erin in the Think Tank, I was able to see her go through this transition a little bit. It’s made a big difference in terms of how I build my brand, too. The best way to really do it is to think about how you deliver value and what that value is, how it’s unique in the eye of your customer. And, I think Erin has done that really well and I know that her target audience is people who they have offline businesses and they’re trying to come online, and she was able to figure out how she can do that and leverage her years of experience in a way that really serves that customer market really well.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. As I think about the process of figuring out an X-Factor, I’ve thought about how other people talk about, “Oh, you’ve got to find a niche,” and they oftentimes say the way that you find a niche is you find something that you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s something that you know something about as well, and it’s something that you can get paid to do. And to me, that just feels like such a small part of really dialing in your X-Factor. It really comes down to the talent stack that you have, your experience, your credentials, the work that you do. It’s not just something that you know something about or that you’re passionate about. In fact, for a lot of people, they choose a niche that they’re not necessarily passionate about, but they know they can solve a problem for a client. And, that’s a really big thing.
If you’re not solving a real problem that clients who have money have, then it’s not going to be a successful niche. And, you probably aren’t going to be the number one copywriter in the world. There’s only one person who can be that. You’re probably not going to be the number one person who knows something about nutrition or coaching or finance or whatever the things are, but when you start to line up all the various experiences that we have, you can be the number one person that has your combination of maybe it’s industry, maybe it’s deliverable, maybe it’s the person that you work with. It’s your credentials, it’s what you know about, it’s the problems that you can solve. And as you start to line all of that stuff up, you can become the very best person that does that thing. And, that’s what really drives demand. I think Erin, and you, and a lot of others who have really figured out their X-Factor, that’s what they’re doing and it’s a process that can really pay dividends when it comes to connecting with customers and clients that you can really help.
Grace: Yeah, exactly. And I think that you said it a lot better than what I was trying to say is it’s really about finding the unique mix of things that you have and your unique perspective that you can bring to the table, to your customers, to your clients, to the larger market segment that you’re targeting. It’s about what value you can bring to the person and how you do it. You don’t need to be the best … Like you said, only one person can be number one but you need to be the best in what you can provide. Yeah, that’s what you’re X-Factor is. It’s thinking smaller than thinking too big.
Rob: Exactly, yeah, and that perfect combination. And then, Erin went on to talk a little bit about her Reach framework, which I think is a really great idea. Frameworks, I know you’ve thought a lot about frameworks because you’ve built some trainings that you’ve done, and you’ve used frameworks in your own work and your own business. But frameworks, they’re almost the ideas that help us sell our ideas, and I love her framework and the way that it helps define the process for writing web content.
Grace: Yeah, absolutely. And I can say, having also worked client side, if you have a framework, if you’re able to say, “Okay, I have this framework. It’s a repeatable process. I’m in control,” that gives clients a lot of confidence in your ability to actually get the job done. And so, that’s one benefit of frameworks. The other benefit, too is that it helps you build your story and build recognition around what you do. I know for myself, I created this framework around storytelling and then all of a sudden I started getting speaking opportunities. I spoke for the B2B Writing Institute about storytelling, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t hung my hat on something and then used that use leverage to earn more opportunities.
Rob: Yeah, that’s smart. That’s really smart. The last thing … it’s actually maybe a combination of a couple of things that I want to point out from the first half of this interview. Erin talks about doing live edits, which I mentioned there’s no way I could do it, but there are people that we’ve talked to who do them really well, and so you might want to listen back to other episodes of the podcast, Kristin MacIntyre, Laura Belgray, they love these kinds of getting on the call with clients. But seriously, it makes me want to hide.
Grace: Me too. Oh my gosh. When I heard that, I thought, “Oh my God, that’s a lot of pressure.” I need a lot of space and time to think and breathe, and I’m not very good at coming up with copy on the spot. So, hats off to anybody who can do that.
Rob: Yeah, I’m the same way. Even if I get an idea really quickly, I want to take the time to just massage it and make sure that it fits and should it be a quote or should it be a line or can I emphasize the verb a different way? And that’s just so hard for me to do on a live edit because I feel like I’ve got to show up and the copy’s got to be right. Yeah, my hat’s off to Erin to be able to do that. I think maybe the fact that she uses a checklist, and she mentioned her checklist, actually helps to do that because you can go through the formula and say, “Okay, does it meet this thing and this thing and this thing?” And so, I suppose if you’re going to do live edits or live writing with a client, it probably helps to have a checklist.
Grace: Yeah, and if you can share that checklist with your client too, then, again, that’s going back to what I was saying about having this framework. It gives a lot of confidence to the client. If you can say, “All right, we’re going to go through this copy. We’re going to go through this checklist and we’re going to talk about it together and whether or not we’re checking all these boxes,” I think that’s a pretty brilliant idea actually to have, because again, it’s all about showing process, showing confidence and showing that you’ve done it before, you know what to look for.
Rob: Yeah, I agree.
Grace: All right, so let’s go back to our interview and see how Erin sets up for live edits.
Kira: Let’s get granular with the live review edits because I’m like Rob, I don’t typically do that, but I’m open. So, what advice would you give to someone who doesn’t typically run those live review edits? What should we do? What should we not do?
Erin: So, the way that I set this up is I send a Loom overview of the copy and the strategy as I’m handing the copy over. We don’t need to be on a live call to do that and in fact, what I’ve found is when I’m presenting it live, we end up with a way more all over the place conversation than if we present it via Loom to start with. So, what that means is that people are reviewing it in total on their own time, marinating on it … Obviously with a short term, they have a shorter time to marinate, but then they can make comments in that Google document and say, “Here’s what I like. Here’s what I don’t like,” and they can go back and say, “Oh, I see why you did this now that I’ve re-watched the Loom video.”
And so, from there, hopping on the live edits is really a matter of opening the conversation with what is your overall impression? And, every once in a while I miss the mark on something and it needs to go a little bit longer, but most of the time, because we’ve had this kickoff call, we’ve had these conversations about what matters to them and what matters to their clients, and it’s been backed up by the reviews, most of the time we’re really, really close. So, we talk about the decisions a little bit and why, and I give them the power to say, “Hey, I don’t like this and here’s why.” And by understanding what they don’t like and why, I can either respond to that and say, “Oh, okay, got it. Let’s go back to the drawing board.” Or, I can talk to them a little bit more about what their roadblock is and either talk through it with them or make a quick edit.
And then, they can see what it looks like live. It’s not live in a website. It’s just a Google document, but I build them almost like wire frames so that they can say, “Oh okay, an image goes here. Okay, I got it. I understand a little bit more about the layout and why you made these decisions.” And then, most of the conversation ends up being about word choice.
Rob: Yeah, that’s smart the way you present it. We’ve talked about your X-Factor, your framework, the process that you’ve got for developing a website in a really short period of time, which I think is really amazing. And, we started out by talking about how you initially connected with your first clients. What else have you done to grow your business, or maybe other things that you’ve you’ve created or things that you’ve done in order to attract clients? What else are we missing?
Erin: A lot of it, just really being visible on social media, which is an awkward conversation to have. Not that long after Facebook and Instagram were down for … not just down-down but they were gone for hours, but a lot of it’s getting out there and even if I’m not able to have as many one-on-one conversations, at least starting conversations with people on social media, showing up in a way that’s dropping some truth nuggets for people to say, “Ah, I’ve never looked at it that way.” I’ve worked to build my email list, too. It’s been a slow and … Iterative is my word of the day, but it’s been a slow and iterative process.
Kira: Erin, let’s talk about your transition and how you’ve changed your business recently from focusing on done-for-you services to introducing your new group program.
Kira: How did that transition go for you and what helped? What did you struggle with along the way?
Erin: So, my biggest struggle along the way was feeling like I was an authority on this, which is crazy because I would tell anyone else, “Of course you are, you’ve been doing this for a while. You have things of value to teach someone.” But part of that is there’s always been a more expert-y expert along the way, and it’s a mindset block, I think more than anything because you don’t have to be the biggest expert in the world to make a really significant impact on other people. So I first launched my website copy intensive course in February and it just wasn’t coming together, so I put on the brakes and then I joined Think Tank in … When did I join? It was May. Oh my gosh, we’re already six months in. This is crazy. I joined Think Tank and Tamara said, “What are you waiting for? Just do it.”
And, I just needed that. I needed someone to give me this kick in the pants to say, “What’s holding you back?” So realistically the only thing holding me back was me. I launched the beta course in August and it went really, really well. I believed in the product before. I believed in the course, which is a 21 day website copy intensive. I call it Whomp Whomp to Wow, because you take your DIY website copy from meh, it’s okay to something that is really effective. And, better yet, it’s done. Starting and finishing the project is really hard when it’s in each of our own businesses. But, what’s interesting is I had seen the course as an entry level path for people who needed a better website but who couldn’t maybe afford to hire a copywriter. I saw it as an entry level path for them to work with me and to help them.
What ended up coming out of it is that this is a really good opportunity for copywriters, coaches and some creatives like web designers or developers who maybe are pretty decent writers, but don’t really either know how to start it or know they’re not great writers so they’ve got to nail it, because this is the space that they’re in, or any of these other mindset blocks that leave them staring at the computer screen and saying, “No, I’m going to work on something else today.” And so instead of getting their website copy done, it just marinates out there in their brains and never finishes.
I had never seen myself as teaching other copywriters, but what came out of it is that this is a really good opportunity for them to learn not just the strategy, but to get the accountability, to get it done, because if we have 21 days, that means you’ve got to commit to doing it.
Rob: Yeah, I love the timeline, the deadline on that to make it work. So after you built this, after you put it together, how did you launch it out into the world so that you got it in front of the right people?
Erin: A big part of it was just talking to my network and saying, “Hey, this is something that I’ve got going.” And, with the beta version, it was a really entry level price and it was an opportunity for people to try it out, to be in on it, to give feedback. And so, I had 12 people from my network … Well, mostly from my network. There were a couple people that I hadn’t met prior to them signing up, which was really cool because it was like, “How did you find me?” This round, I’m being a little bit more proactive, and in future rounds, with connecting with copywriters, connecting with other creatives … And the word creative is so wide ranging, and a lot of people who we might consider creative, as we learned, don’t necessarily consider themselves creatives. That was a really interesting revelation. But, getting in front of them, getting them on my mailing list and then really working out with the email and the social content and some of the ads.
Kira: So, I’m wondering, because you’ve worked so closely with copywriters on their websites, what are some mistakes you see frequently on their websites?
Erin: I think the biggest thing for copywriters isn’t what they end up putting out, it is we all obsess with words and since it’s what we do, people, we worry. I did it, too. It took me six months to publish my website copy and then I immediately changed it as soon as it was published. So, I think it’s a mindset block as much as anything. If I don’t start this, if it’s not 100% perfect, I’m a failure. So, part of its changing that around and it’s like here’s a starting point. You massage it and play with it, and try putting it out into the world, because you can test it. I think that’s one of the hardest parts is not feeling confident enough to just try something, to give it a shot.
As copywriters, we tend to be really good at writing headlines for other people, but understanding what our clients need to hear and see if challenging. What is the end results that we are promising? So, that takes a lot of thinking and sometimes it takes bouncing ideas off of other people. And, I think that’s the other really awesome thing about Whomp Whomp to Wow is you can get people in a room together for 60 minutes a week and say, “Hey, what do you think about this idea?” I don’t always write the greatest headlines but hearing what other people are saying, there’s a really good opportunity for feedback that’s a mini brain trust.
Rob: Erin, I noticed you did something last week … At least it’s last week as we’re talking. By the time the podcast releases, it’ll be a few weeks ago, but you did something interesting on LinkedIn last week, a tool I think to build your list. Will you tell us a little bit about what you did and what has happened with that so far?
Erin: So, actually after the Think Tank retreat that we all were in, Chris Echokineses came in and was talking about what he does for lead gen and then moving to a more product and course-based business. And, he said one of the things he does to test things was to just put content out on social media. I think he used Facebook, and he’s like, “Hey, I’m working on this thing. If you’re interested in it, let me know and I’ll make sure to get you a copy.” And, he hasn’t actually written the thing yet, so I was like, “Cool. I’ve had this idea.” People can use what they’re doing right now to get more leads. And, it’s all about building in public, which I’m not good at doing myself necessarily. I tend to hold things in, but I’m working on it. So, that was what this post was.
I said, “I’m putting the finishing touches on a guide that lines out my four steps on the projects that you’re working on right now, or even past projects to get new leads. Who wants in?” And, a ton of people chimed in so then, because I did it on LinkedIn, the lesson is you have to connect with people in order to get their email address and send messages, whereas Twitter is more DM friendly, I’d say. But, it was really interesting the responses that I got, people who I already had in my network who were like, “This is amazing. I need to do this.” Or, who have said, “What you put out, I always love,” which always makes me feel good.
But I got some really interesting new people and new connections, and we ended up having some really cool conversations. I don’t want to say offline because it’s all offline, but in private in direct messages. And simultaneously, I was able to grow my mailing list that way.
Kira: I want to just pivot here and talk a little bit about boundaries and living a good life and ask you how are you building your business around your life? Are there any things that you’re doing right now proactively to focus on that?
Erin: Boundaries are always a hard topic for me because I really like saying yes to people. I have a hard time saying no. My work day, most of the time, is 9:00 to 3:00. It’s when my kids are in school, because otherwise I find it very hard to step away if I don’t say, “You know what? I’m closing down now.” And occasionally I work other hours as well. I get behind because I procrastinate, or I say yes to too many things, but for the most part, I try to keep work and life separate. I’ve tried to implement a three hour block Friday afternoons for CEO time, but I’ve also started taking more vacation time. And, it’s not really vacation time because I’m still at the point in my business where if I don’t work, I don’t pay myself.
But we just took off for two weeks this summer. We took a long weekend over Labor Day and then this weekend, my kids are off for five days so I’m not working for five days. And, I also just booked tickets with my best friend to meet up. She has an expo to go to in Dallas, so we’re going to go down and we’re just going to get a hotel and hang out by the pool for three days before Thanksgiving. So I’m trying to do more of that, so more of the fun stuff and blocking out and saying, “You know what? I’m not taking any more work this month. My next availability is this date. Does that work for you?” And if someone says no, the hardest thing for me to do is to say, “Okay, well maybe I can introduce you to someone else,” because again, I hate to say no to people, but otherwise I’m not the only one that loses. My family also loses because we’re not spending that time together.
Rob: So, tell us more about CEO time. How do you use those three hours in order to think about your business or improve things, build things, whatever that is?
Erin: Well ideally, I am being a little bit more strategic and planning for the future. Lately, it’s been a little bit more about figuring out what systems, how I want to scale things, which I guess is still strategic, but also sometimes doing the work for my own business and setting aside that time to do my own marketing. I don’t have any set rules for what it is except that there’s no client work during that time, unless I am absolutely under the gun.
Kira: Erin, I’d love to hear about your vision for your business. It sounds like you’re in control and you’ve got this momentum and you’re building this incredible business. How do you look forward? And what do you see as you look forward?
Erin: The future is murky. My crystal ball is a little cloudy right now. What I would really, really like is to have a business that in large part runs itself, that I still oversee most of the strategic direction, but that I can step out so that I can take time to go do things and so that I can pay myself vacation time essentially to go do things with my family. But I want something that’s sustainable, and I see it coming from a variety of pieces. There will always be a done-for-you component. There will always be a strategic component for clients, but I see doing a lot more group programs and even some products, and maybe a membership coming down the pike … ways that I can help more people at once without blocking nine hours a day of back to back to back to back to back calls.
Because as you both know, that gets really taxing on my mental capacity anyway, and my ability to speak coherently. Not to mention to really be present with my family, which is something that … my business took off during the pandemic, and I really wasn’t sure when the flood … What is it? The flood pipes? The pipe flood? The flood gates, that’s what it is. I wasn’t sure when the flood gates would close so I said yes to everything. You may be hearing a pattern here, but finally I realized that I wasn’t spending any time with my kids and they were actually home because it was a pandemic. So, I want to make sure that that doesn’t happen again, and I want to show them the possibility of what working for themselves can be if that’s a path that is right for them. But I also want to show them what healthy work life boundaries are and that there’s stuff to go do, and the power of being able to go do whatever those things are that really matter to you.
Rob: So, Erin, you’ve been sharing a ton of great advice, lots of really good experience. I want to ask a question that’s maybe a little selfish for us, and that is we mentioned you’re in the Think Tank, been there for the last six months or so. Tell us about your experience there and if it’s made a difference in your business.
Erin: So, I’m actually going to go back further in time. I had just made my first profit. I was finally getting ready to pay myself and not just pay myself back for purchases for my business, and I found you guys. It was August 2019 and Accelerator was just about to open up. And I said, “What the heck? Instead of paying myself, let me do the Accelerator.” And that was the first best thing that I’ve done for my business, because it helped me find that network of copywriters and understand the value of connecting with people who understood what I was going through. And I knew when the Accelerator ended that I wasn’t quite ready for Think Tank yet, but it was always something that I wanted to do. I just wasn’t sure of the timing. And, I think we talked a couple times over that next year, year and a half about, “Oh, is it the right time? Is it not the right time? I’m not sure.”
And then after TCCNIRL, which that’s really hard for me to say with that N, it was like, “I think it is. I think it’s the right time,” because I just had that revelation that I may have had my best month ever March of 2021 but I was also working 80 hours a week to get all the stuff done, and this was not how I wanted to live. So, I came into Think Tank because I wanted to build this pipeline. I wanted to create products and courses, and I wanted to … I wasn’t even sure what the next thing was but I wanted to feel more in control of things, which is a work in progress.
But Brittany McBean gave me the advice. She said, “If you are even thinking about it a little bit, just do it.” And I’m so glad I did. That first month was super overwhelming, but I got so much progress made and I realized that the progress that I thought I needed to make, I actually needed to put some other building blocks in place before I could see that. I wasn’t quite ready to build a framework because I actually needed to get my X-Factor a little bit tighter again. And then as I played with it, it was like, “Ah, right on. This is where I need to be.” So I think just having the ground support people who are both where I am in the age and phase of my life, so to speak, or of my business, but also people who are going to be encouraging, supportive and say, “Hey, have you considered this?” And sometimes, it’s gentle tough love, which is what I need to say, “Okay, just do it. Here’s what you need to do.”
And, we bounce ideas off of each other, and that’s really, really, really, really valuable, and Rob and Kira, having that one-on-one time with the two of you, or two-on-one time, is irreplaceable but I think this community is a second key valuable point. I was talking with a gal who’s leaving … I think she has one more month left and she’s like, “I’m in panic mode. What am I going to do?” And I’m like, “I’m already in panic mode and I’m only halfway through.” So, maybe I want to stick around forever.
Kira: You can stick around forever. You can stick around-
Erin: Stick around forever.
Kira: And, I appreciate you sharing that, Erin, and we are grateful to have worked with you in the Accelerator and also in the Think Tank now and to have more time with you, and I’m just so excited to hear that you have set those boundaries and you’re working from 9:00 to 3:00 and spending more time with your kids, because I know how challenging that can be and so I love hearing that. For our listeners who want to connect with you, or maybe want to jump into the website program so they can write their website copy in 21 days, where should they go to connect with you?
Erin: All paths lead to ErinPennings.com, which is my website. From there, you can find me on social. You can get my checklist, your website copy check-up. You can join Whomp Whomp to Wow. And, I would absolutely love to connect with certainly anyone who’s listening. I love to connect with new people and get to know them, but if you have any questions on any of the projects or programs, definitely let me know.
Rob: That’s the end of our interview with Erin Pennings. Before we wrap up, as we do, lets mention just a few more things that stood out to us. We left off talking about the live editing process, and I do think that it’s something that we should point out and I really … When I heard Erin talk about this, I thought, “Okay, this is why it works.” And that is she’s not just jumping on to a call and presenting copy and saying, “Okay, what do you think about this and that.” The review process starts right there. She’s actually set the stage with the Loom video, giving an overview of her thinking, of what she’s doing and she’s providing them with notes. And so, to go back what we were talking about before, if live editing is something that you think, “Oh, maybe I could do that in my business,” or “That doesn’t scare me,” … Or even if you’ve reacted like Grace and I, it’s the thing that just makes me want to break out in hives, maybe there’s a process that could actually make it workable if that’s something you want to try.
Grace: Yeah, and again it goes back to process. I think that Erin is a master of having process in everything that she’s doing. When she was talking about, “Okay, on …” Even this whole website in a week package that she has and she knows exactly what’s happening each day, and then she’s able to have this repeatable thing that she can improve every time, too. It really sets her up for success and to be able to deliver something every single time that’s awesome, and that really pleases the client.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. The process makes that work. I’m tempted to hire Erin just to see how she does that whole live edit thing and how it all comes together.
Grace: Yeah, absolutely. It would be really cool to see how she does it.
Rob: For sure. Also, Erin talked a lot about being visible on social media. This is something that at least personally, I struggle with. We’ve got some great help at the Copywriter Club. Gabby on our team helps with a lot of that stuff. Not really my thing, but being there is pretty … It has had an impact on Erin’s business, especially how she shows up in Facebook groups and offers to help and uses that to make connections. What do you think about that?
Grace: Yeah, exactly. I can understand that it’s not only time consuming, it’s also a little scary to put yourself out there, but it does make a difference. The beautiful thing about social media is that you can get your posts seen by hundreds of people, potentially thousands of people. But, it is a little scary to put yourself out there. I can understand.
Rob: For sure. I’m not really big on the whole video on social media, but Gabby convinced me that I should do a reel, and I did a reel and I was shocked how many people saw it and commented. Maybe you’ll see Rob in the reels in the future. We’ll see how it all comes together.
Grace: Yeah. I like the new social media plan for Instagram for Copywriter Club.
Rob: Get Rob on reels more. That’s the whole plan right there.
Grace: There we go. I love it. That’s all that they need.
Rob: Yeah. So Erin also talked about building her group program, Whomp Whomp to Wow is what it’s called. And, this seems to be something that a lot of copywriters are doing, not just for other copywriters, but to help their niche make progress as well because there’s so many people in the industries that we work in that can’t necessarily pay for a copywriter to go through every single page of the website or produce all of the emails that need to be built in a business. And so, helping business owners do some of this stuff with programs, like how to write your website and presenting a framework and all of the tools to help them do that, I think it’s a really smart way to diversify our businesses a little bit. And you’ve actually been working on some group programs, too.
Grace: Yeah, there’s something cooking up there. It’s taking a little bit longer than expected, but I think group programs are really interesting, especially now that I’ve gone through a couple of them, too. You build relationships but you also are more motivated and there’s more accountability to go through it. I’m someone, I’ve paid for a lot of courses that I never finished and it’s not just me. At one point, I wrote some copy for an online course company that also does group programs, but the reasons they did group programs was because something like only 30% of people who buy an on-demand course actually finish it, which is why I think that there’s a big growing appeal for group programs in general. It’s also more fun. It’s more fun to connect with other people, as well, and to go through an experience together.
Rob: Yeah, we definitely believe in programs versus courses. Maybe program’s not the right word but we’ve structured the Accelerator so that people are going through it with a cohort of other people. You start to foster those connections with the peers that are in there. You build a network, and it’s not just about watching videos. You said 30% of people don’t finish. I’ve heard numbers as low as 4% finish.
Grace: Maybe you’re right. Maybe it was something closer to 3% actually.
Rob: Yeah, it’s crazy low, and it’s obviously one of the big problems in the course world. So, figuring out a program that helps people actually make progress is huge. I really admire Erin for doing that, and I know that that’s one of the things that you’ve been thinking about. I’ve seen a preview of what you’re starting to build, and whenever it’s ready for the world to see, it’s definitely worth checking out because you definitely know your stuff and you bring it to the table and can help people have success. So, anyway, if somebody’s listening and thinking, “Yeah, I want to add a course,” think about how you can make sure that that interaction happens and that people are able to make those connections because selling something that people don’t finish is … It’s certainly not unethical because people have a right to not finish things that they buy, but we should be selling the kinds of products that people want to finish and make the time to add those skills to their skillsets.
Grace: Yeah, exactly. And, it’s just an added bonus if you can also say, “Hey, you have this whole community” and it’s not just a Facebook group, but it’s really an intimate connection. Group programs, too, it’s just more fun, too, and it’s an added bonus for the people who are going through the program if you can say, “Hey, you’ll also be part of this community and it’s going to be tight knit. It’s not going to be some Facebook group with 10,000 people in it.” It’s an added value that you can then use also to justify a slightly higher place, if that’s what you want for your business.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. And, it’s worth the extra price when you can deliver that added benefit.
Grace: 100%. 100%.
Rob: So, let’s also talk a little bit about boundaries. Erin mentioned some of the boundaries that she’s had to build up. I think boundaries have been a huge struggle for everybody for the last two years, just because of the disruptions. People working from home, not just kids, but partners and pets and all of the things, disruptions to business. Some business people, because we are working from home, are maybe thinking that they can approach their copywriters and other vendors in more casual ways. I just think it’s worth emphasizing that establishing really clear boundaries and being okay to say no to things, especially business things, in order to say yes to personal things, family, whatever it is, is part of being a successful business owner and we all need to give ourselves permission to do that kind of thing.
Grace: Yeah, absolutely. It’s really, really hard, especially if you’re only working from home and your work and play are in the same area, and especially I think over the last two years as there’s been shutdowns and you think, “Okay, well, what else do I have to do besides work?” … if you don’t have kids … but it’s also just healthy. It’s really healthy. As a business owner and as a writer, you really need to make time for your brain to breathe. And if you don’t make that time, then your work also suffers as well.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. Anything else that stood out to you, Grace, from this last half of the interview?
Grace: Something else that did stand out to me that I thought was really interesting hearing how Erin went about doing it was almost the product marketing that she’s been taking, both in terms of her course and then in terms of her lead gen. The ebook that she wrote for the lead gen thing, she put it on LinkedIn and said, “Hey, I’m thinking about writing this. Is anybody interested in it?” And she hadn’t even written the lead magnet at that point, so she was able to gauge the amount of response and see whether it was worth her time. That was something that came from the Think Tank retreat with Chris Echokineses. And, I think it’s a brilliant idea because otherwise you invest a lot of time into building something and then you aren’t quite sure if people actually want it. So, I thought that that was really interesting how she approached that.
Rob: Yeah, I did too. When she did that and she announced it on LinkedIn, I think within a day she had something like 50 or 60 people who had commented and said, “This sounds like something I want,” which is fantastic. Like you said, Chris actually mentioned that as one of the things that you can do to generate leads and to attract people to a newsletter, to an email list. And, I know there were a few people who tried it, but Erin had a ton of success as far as that initial response, and then a few weeks later fulfilled those requests so now out she’s engaged with 50 to 60 potential clients that are all interested in this thing. She’s actually started a conversation. It’s so much better than just saying, “Oh, I have a lead magnet. Come here and download it.” There’s just activity happening around it, so I like that, and thank you for pointing that out.
Grace: I think Erin’s ethos of being a service provider and being proactive and actively trying to help people, this goes back into her overall MO, right? That she’s really good at trying to actively help people, and you can see that in her work and you can also see that in her business.
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 Munster. If you liked 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 need a couple more episodes to put it into your podcast app, Erin mentioned Chris Echokineses a couple times. We interviewed Chris on the podcast twice, once in Episode 112 and again in Episode 259. Be sure to check those out. Also, check out Episode 154 about improving your research process with Hannah Shamji and Episode 262, which is all about filling your lead pipeline with Jacob Suckow. Thanks for listening and extra thanks to Grace for helping me with the commentary on this episode. And, we will see you next week.
Grace: Thanks, Rob.