For the 60th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira and Rob opted not to invite a guest on the show and instead take your questions and give our off-the-cuff, no-preparation answers. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we did our best with what we have. We talked about:
• where we got our first clients (and where we get some of our clients today)
• why relationships are so critical especially for freelancers who never leave the house
• how copywriting has changed since we both got started and what that means to you
• what we expected The Copywriter Club to become when we first started out
• how we keep all the plates spinning (Rob has dropped a couple)
• what comes first the club or clients (don’t let our clients see this)
Plus we also talked about where we find the most satisfaction in our work and our thoughts on LinkedIn and Medium and which one is best for sharing your work. We don’t have a guest to carry us on this one, but to hear everything we shared, click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The 50th episode
The Copywriter Accelerator
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Airstory, the writing platform for professional writers who want to get more done in half the time. Learn more at Airstory.co/club.
Kira: What if you can hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits. Then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work. That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the club for episode 60 as we answer your questions about copywriting, fitting it all in, choosing a niche, our processes and what we find most rewarding in our businesses.
Kira: Hey, Rob. How’s it going?
Rob: It is going awesome. Mostly awesome, how about yourself?
Kira: Is it really awesome, Rob? Is it really? You just told me you woke up at 5 a.m. to workout and so…
Rob: That’s correct.
Kira: You’re feeling good?
Rob: I am feeling good. I was up a little late doing client work where I think we’re going to talk about that here in a second when we ask, answer a couple of questions and you were doing the same.
Kira: Yeah, we were both emailing each other at midnight while working in client work so that’s how I spin, but yeah.
Kira: I’m excited to answer some questions. For this special 60th episode, we asked the club members in the Facebook Group, what questions you have for us and we have a nice range of questions we can tackle here, but I feel like we should say that normally, we like to prep. We are preppers and think through our responses and even type them out. Today, we are not doing that. We are going to wing it.
Rob: That’s right.
Kira: I don’t wing things well so this will be interesting.
Rob: It’s all of the cuffs so it’s not sugarcoated. We’re going to tell you the truth, but it may not be quite as well thought out as it might have been otherwise so.
Kira: Right, this will not be poetic today. Okay, so why don’t we jump into the first question. Rob, you can choose.
Rob: Yeah, so I’m actually going to choose Heath asked a couple questions and I think these area good questions that a lot of people in the club are thinking about. This is the first one. How did you get your first clients when you’re starting out?
Kira: Okay, well, first I want to say shout out to Heath. I love Heath. He always makes me smile in the group. My first few clients, I was at Ace working at a startup, actionablebooks.com as the marketing director and I’ve been there for a couple of years. While I was working there, you know you did everything in a startup. I was writing a lot of copy and so at that point, some of the consultants I was working with asked me to work with them and they offered to pay me to write copy for their websites as they were growing their businesses and that’s kind of when I clued into this and a couple of them said, “Why don’t you start your own copywriting business? You know you clearly have this entrepreneurial drive. This could be something that make sense for you” and so that was the light bulb moment for me.
Rob: My very first copy assignment was from a friend that I had met, I don’t remember how I met her but she was doing freelance copyrighting. She had an assignment and asked me to help out on and I did that. I thought this is interesting. I can make money writing. It hadn’t really occurred to me before. It should have, but for whatever reason, I just hadn’t considered that as an option. I was planning on going to law school at the time, and then I got a job in house writing copy and spent about four years doing that. I moved to an ad agency and spent about four years there and then I moved to another company in house, for again another four years, so by the time I was ready to branch out on my own. I built a network of people who I had worked with in the past, and so when I went out on my own, I basically approached several of the people that I had worked with and said, “Hey, I know you need help with content, with copywriting. Let me help you out.”
I landed a few assignments and it just grew from there. The other big place though, and I think we’ve talked about this a lot of times, the other big place where today, where we get assignments is from other writers and referrals from other writers. Get in groups, network with other writers because oftentimes you will be around writers who have too much work and they’re more than willing to pass on an assignment or a project to somebody who’s capable and can get things done.
Kira: That’s a really important point. Beyond so, you’re talking about your network, that’s really where I started too, with a network of people where I was at the time, who was asking me for help at the time. I don’t necessarily work with any of those clients now, but beyond that, when I realize this is something I want to do, how do I grow, that’s when I really started to follow the copywriters I respected and found online, the names that you already know, like Hillary Weiss, Laura Belgray, and some others and I reached out to them. I remember I pitched Laura on why I should be her apprentice, and Hillary as well, and so I reached out and just put myself out there with people I never met before to ask them how I can just get in the door and help them in some way, and that turned into building relationships with them and also I got a couple of leads from both of them early on that just helped me gain some traction, build my portfolio and the niche I was focused on at the time.
Rob: In our 50th episode, Ry Schwartz asked us both what we would do if we had to start over, so I don’t think we will answer that question but if we were starting over with no network, we talked about what we would do differently, so go back to the 50th episode if you’re interested in how we would start over from scratch.
Kira: I think that the key for both of us, what we’re saying is it’s about relationships and I think that’s what we based everything with The Copywriter Club on, our relationships and strengthening those, building those and then also with our copywriting businesses, starting with the relationships, building the trust and credibility. I mean we both have been writing for years and years and years but that wasn’t really enough if you don’t have those relationships and the people who trust you who are sending you work and that never ends. I’m constantly focused on building relationships.
Rob: I think that’s great advice, really good. He also asked how copywriting has changed over the years and I started writing in 1994, so for me the biggest change is that we have the internet. When I started writing, we had email. The internet was just barely starting to be a thing. It wasn’t really a commercial enterprise yet and so there’s a ton of writing that happens online that just wasn’t around 25 years ago. That really has been the biggest change, but as I think about the kinds of assignments that I was doing back then versus what I’m doing now, the other changes that I’ve seen is the measurement tools online are far better than what we had offline before. When it comes to things like conversion copy or direct response copy, the tools in order to measure effectiveness and to get better are just a ton better than they were in the past.
Having said that though, human nature and the reasons the wise people respond, that hasn’t really changed at all, so a lot of what was applicable back in the 90s when I started is every bit applicable to the kinds of copy that I write today.
Kira: Yeah, so I’m not going to go as far back but I will say when I was at school, I’m from Virginia Tech, I was on the newspaper staff and writing copy for ads and designing ads and so again to me, it’s all the same stuff. When I connect the dots and I’m sure all of us can connect the dots when we look back and we’ve been writing copy and advertising and positioning for years when you can really see that when you stop and connect those dots, but to me, it’s the same. I’m doing the same thing. I’m just doing it in a different medium now, but what really stands out to me today that’s changed even over the last few years is how crowded the marketplace is now, which we all know, with lots of copywriters, with lots of people who are kind of jumping into the space, for good reason.
There are many reasons we all get into it, so now how do we really stand out in a crowded marketplace, and I think that’s kind of what we’re all trying to figure out, especially new copywriters. What does it take to get the clients and to make a name for yourself and to charge premium rates, so I think today, it’s really critical that copywriters step out from behind their laptop and we show up, which is not always comfortable and not always something we want to do, and that might mean online or offline but it’s no longer enough just to stay hidden behind your laptop. I think that’s a big difference today of just really branding, figuring out what you specialize in and then talking about it with a microphone.
Rob: It’s funny that you mentioned that because Bobby Kennedy asked about whether a copywriter can brand themselves as a generalist versus needing to choose a niche these days, and I think both of us are on the same page. We’ve taught this in the accelerator. We have mentioned this several times in different podcasts but I think both of us are pretty strongly in favor of choosing a niche for a lot of different reasons. It helps you identify what you can offer your audience. It helps your target audience identify who they want to work with, but it also has some really cool impact. As you start working with clients, there’s a switching cost, moving from somebody who understands a business to somebody who’s a generalist and it makes it more likely that your clients will stay with you longer term. Having said that, I think that copywriters can brand themselves as generalists and we showed this as well, but to do it successfully, you really need to have a really wide network of people that can send you work.
You’ve got to be doing something to build your platform or to build your name and your credibility, because again, people feel very comfortable if I’m say in the health and wellness space, I feel more comfortable working with a writer or anybody who’s familiar with the kinds of things that I need to do in my business.
Kira: I’m with you on all of that. I do think if you want to be a generalist copywriter, that’s great. Just own it and then use it to your advantage. Figure out how you can turn that into a win for your client, so what does that mean? Why is that an advantage for them if they hire you over a specialist. You will have an audience that needs that generalist. It may be harder to charge premium rates at that point. I’m not quite sure, but I think you could really brand yourself around. I am the generalist copywriter. You could literally send me any project and I can get it done for you. That’s an amazing thing in itself. I think you can really own it if that’s the direction you want to go. You may want to think about building up some type of micro agency because you’re going to get a lot of work, varied work, and so you may need specialists who are on your team to help you because it would be hard to stay on top of all types of copy especially as the market changes.
I think we believe in niching not because it’s cool and everybody’s talking about it but because it helps you focus and that’s why part of The Copywriter Accelerator program is just helping new copywriters focus because there’s so many directions you can go and we want to serve everyone as you grow your business, the hardest thing to do is stay focused and have that clarity so that you know what you should focus on, what you should say no to, what you should say yes to. For that reason alone, if a niche, niche, whatever can help you with that, then it’s worth it.
Rob: Yeah, I think you nailed it when you said even as a generalist, you need to give your clients a reason to choose you. If you’ve got that, you’re probably going to be okay.
Kira: Yeah, cool. Let’s cover a different question. Per asked will you please spend a minute or two looking back? I would like to know what you’d expected to get out of TCC, how much of it you had planned from the beginning as far as the Think Tank and the accelerator and some of the programs we offer and what has surprised you along the way?
Rob: That’s an interesting question and it’s kind of funny because we were talking about this yesterday with the fake take and you’re talking about the behind the scenes. We met in a mastermind group with Joanna at Copy Hackers and got to know each other, saw each other’s work in that group and at some point, people started suggesting that we should work together. At the same time, I had bought a URL for thecopywriter.club and thecopywriterclub.com and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it and I reached out to you and said, “Hey, maybe we should be working together.” I think both of us wanted to do a podcast, and this is a year ago, maybe last October or maybe September of 2016 and I’m not sure that I had a huge idea of what it would be beyond that. I knew there would be something, but for me anyway, I thought let’s just see, let’s start the podcast and see where it goes but I have a feeling you had a little bit bigger idea what it was going to be.
Kira: Did I? I don’t know. I think I was just in from the beginning like you said. This is something we cared about. The community aspect was the driver for me from the beginning because I know that plays such a large role in my own business growth, just being in the same room with people like Rob and other people who are in our masterminds could be its mastermind. I knew this was a game changer for me so I was thinking how can we scale it and offer it to even more people so other people can benefit from community and learning from each other, but I had no idea it would move quite so fast. I didn’t know that, I didn’t really know that copywriting was growing so fast and so many copywriters which are trying to build their businesses, which we’ve seen just by the amount of interest even in our Facebook group now in over 6,000 people.
I didn’t see the opportunity and that there was such a need. I just thought it was a great way to kind of connect with more of our friends, more new copywriters and I probably was interested in some name and brand recognition to help me grow my own copywriting business but yeah, I did not expect it to grow quite so fast and really kind of feel like a startup at this point. I mean it is, it’s a growing startup. It doesn’t feel like the two of us are just kind of figuring it out and we are figuring it out as we go but it doesn’t feel like it’s just the Rob and Kira show. It feels like oh, we’re actually creating a team and we’re building out processes and this is a legit business, so I think that was just more of a surprise to me when I realized, hey I’m running two businesses now. I have Kira Hug Media, where I have my copywriting services and I’m working with clients, and then The Copywriter Club, and these are two legit businesses that are growing so how will I juggle both of them pus a family, plus maybe having a life, which is kind of non existent to me.
Just the reality sunk in six months ago where I was like, this isn’t just a side hustle. It’s not a hobby. Those are two businesses that need to be nurtured and need attention. I mean we’re still trying to figure that out.
Rob: Yeah, my biggest surprises are similar. The number one is how quickly it caught on and how interactive everybody is in the community. If you’ve been in very many copywriter groups, this one for some reason just has a really great vibe, people sharing, people being helpful, whether you’re new or whether you’ve been doing it for a while. That’s been really gratifying, just to sort of be able to see and watch that develop, and the second part is I was a bit surprised by how much time it takes in the back end to make everything work. Putting together a podcast takes a lot of time editing and making it into something that’s worth listening to, managing the group. All of that stuff takes time away from the businesses to pay the bills. The Copywriter Club is not a huge venture that’s paying for tons of mortgage payments or anything like that, so having to still write for clients and to do all of that work on the side, that’s been, the balancing act has been a challenge.
Kira: Yeah, and we can talk more about that. I think there are some more questions about that but I just wanted to say what also what surprised me is that people listen to our show, because I had another podcast previously. I didn’t put in nearly as much time into it, and people listened but it didn’t have the same traction and at this point, to run into people at a conference and have people say hey, I’ve heard you, listened to the show. It’s incredible because when Rob and I are chatting with our guests, it really just feels like it’s us and so to know that other people take away anything from those conversations just feels really, it feels really good because I take away so much from those conversations. I mean that’s always a big surprise to me. I don’t know if that will ever fade when anyone says hey, I’ve listened to a show. Then the other part that you mentioned that the club members are so active, I didn’t quite expect that and some part of me is always waiting for people to leave the group and never come back because they’re so active and they’re so engaged and it feels like it’s a part of all of our businesses.
It’s a really good feeling but I was always like, what if I show up one day and everybody’s gone and the party’s over. Beyond that, I did want to also say to answer Kara’s question that the two of us were very clear from the beginning though when we first started talking about this idea, before we even started the podcast, that we wanted this to be a business, that it wasn’t going to be a side hobby, that it need to be a revenue generating business, because like Rob said, the two of us have a lot happening and families and so we didn’t want to just do this for the sake of fun in order for it to be sustainable, that we would have to bring in revenue. Otherwise, it wouldn’t last and we kind of knew we had a year to figure it out but we would have to let it go.
Rob: Yeah, and the next year’s going to bring a lot of changes for us. We’re doing the live event in February. There’s some other ideas that we have that we haven’t announced yet that hopefully we’ll make it into something that’s very sustainable so that we can continue to produce things like the podcast and pay for the time and the investment that goes into producing all this stuff that hopefully is helping people with their businesses.
Kira: What is our next question?
Rob: Natalie Smithson asked where in the heck, not her word, do you get the stamina to spin all of the plates day in and day out. You just keep on bringing it. How do you plan your time? Where does that come from for you?
Kira: Yeah, it’s a really good question. I think when I saw this comment, question pop into the group, I was laughing a bit because I felt burnt out while I was reading it, but I don’t quite know other than I’ve always been this way and I’m an endurance runner, I used to run long distance. I stick with things, so I mean my whole life has been like this. If you looked at me in college or high school, I was managing lots of different pieces, spinning a lot of plates at once so it’s kind of just the way that I work, not to say that’s always a good thing. I have to be aware of that and also cautious of that but I think we both do get burned out often, probably me or at least I complain more than Rob does. Rob is very good at just not complaining and being positive and optimistic, which is why I think we balance each other out at least I think of me complaining but I think it helps to be in as a partnership, there’s no way this just wouldn’t exist without both of us and I wouldn’t be able to do it without Rob in many different ways, beyond just Rob helping actually execute just even emotionally and mentally.
It’s hard to do it on your own because you do want to give up many times and stop but when you’re in it with someone who’s committed, that really does keep you going, so I never was a big fan of business partnerships, not that I had had a bad experience but I just heard a lot of horror stories but I will say now I’m really seeing the benefits of why people do go into business partnerships and why there are some clear benefits, what you can accomplish is way more than what you could accomplish on your own.
Rob: Yeah, I totally agree with that. As far as keeping all of the plates spinning, I have to admit that some of my plates fall. This year, I have done less reading than I think I have done in the last 20 years of my life. I have sacrificed a lot of family time to their detriment, I spent a lot of Saturdays trying to work on podcasts and get things straightened out. My work commitments towards my clients may have suffered just a little bit. I tried really hard not to let that happen but it is definitely a struggle, and trying to make sure that everything happens is hard. I do try to take off Sundays. I try not to work on Sundays and really have that be family time and downtime as much as I can do. Saturdays, I try to make time for my wife and my kids when I can, but there have definitely been sacrifices this year, and so keeping all of those plates spinning, I’m glad people think that that’s happening because there have been a couple of broken plates at my house in the last year or so.
Kira: Yeah, many broken plates on the floor here. No, I think I mean I’ll echo what you’re saying but it is a sacrifice of time, family time. It’s just also for me, there’s also a lot of guilt in there. I have little kids. I have a two year old and a five year old so there’s kind of constantly just guilt around that that I need to handle and manage but I’ve tested different schedules like Rob said. I make sure I have time on the weekends where I just turn off and I’ve tried different types of schedules. I’ve tried working Sunday nights for a while, for like a year to get a head start on the week and that actually really helped but then at this point, I don’t want to work Sunday nights anymore so now I’ve shifted my schedule again because I really want that time to be secret and quiet and at home. I’ve tested early morning work sessions, which I did for like two years, which is kind of nutty and it probably aged me but getting up at 4 a.m., 4:30 a.m. everyday to do work, so that worked for me for a while and then you get to the point where it no longer is working for you and you need more sleep.
I just keep testing and adjusting my schedule to figure out what’s working and creating boundaries. I was not good at creating boundaries when I first started my business. I have gotten better. I still have a lot of room to grow there but I am getting better even at blocking off a day. For instance, this week, we have a lot happening with our affiliate launch for Joanna. We just got back from the holidays so we have a lot happening with our Think Tank and accelerator group and our own businesses, so I work Sunday and so I’m taking off this Friday to go to the museum with my family and so I need to get better at that, like making sure I’m blocking time and scheduling the fun things where you’re really living and not working because it’s really easy to just let your calendar fill up with all work events all the time. It’s just easy for all of us to do now. It’s international business world. You could fill your evenings, days, weekends, all of it.
Rob: It really comes down to if you want to build something big or that lasts, you definitely need to make sacrifices but we’re both trying really hard to make the right sacrifices and to put our time where it is most important and families definitely need time. That’s something that I think you pay for those sacrifices eventually and so yeah, it’s good to have that time.
Kira: Yeah, I think we both see the big vision and we check in with each other to make sure it is worth it and we feel like this is moving in the right direction and feels good and it’s important to us and energizing us, because otherwise it’s not worth it. It’s not worth a lot of the pain too along the way. It’s just we’d have to question it so I think checking in is helpful but also Rob, you mentioned some client work. I don’t know if you said it suffered but let’s be real here, it’s really hard to squeeze in client work at this time. For a while, I was juggling three to four client projects at a time, big projects, sales pages and launch copy, which is intense, and since The Copywriter Club has grown, I have not been able to manage that and so I slowly scaled back and now even to two client projects at a time, which still feels like too much to me now, as TCC has grown. Now I’m hyper aware of the fact that I can really only manage one client project at a time. I need to create those boundaries so I’m not overlapping clients.
That’s been hard because I used to put my client work first and I hope none of my clients are listening to this, but now, I put The Copywriter Club first. It’s not to say I do a crappy job of my client work. I would hope that that’s not true but I put the business and business building first, which I never did for the first few years of my business, I never did that and I think it’s really important to do that. I think we should all do that, still deliver great work for clients but don’t spend your best energy on that and probably never going to get a client again after saying that.
Rob: Let’s hope not. That kind of leads us to a question that Rose Tucker asked. She asked what gives you the most job satisfaction because you’ve got lots of stuff going on. Is writing for clients still a thing that gives you the biggest kick or is it something else that we’re getting pleasure from?
Kira: That’s a good question.
Rob: It is a good question, and honestly, it really depends on which part of the business that I would be talking about in my own life. As far as The Copywriter Club goes, I love talking to the guests that we talk to on the podcast. It’s energizing. I walk away from every single interview with just tons of ideas and things that even though I’ve been doing this for a long time, I think I could be doing that better or it just turns into a really cool relationship. Some of the people we’ve talked to, I’m amazed that we get to spend an hour just getting to know them and learning about them, their struggles, the successes they’ve had. It’s really energizing. I love that part of The Copywriter Club.
You feel that a little bit in the Facebook group as well, seeing people interact there, the positive stuff that happens there. I love that as well. As far as the club goes, tons of satisfaction from that. In my own work, I love writing for clients. A lot of people say that they hate client work and I have to admit I mostly like client work. The people that I’ve had a chance to work with, the problems that I get to work on and solve, I think that that’s fun so I get a lot of satisfaction from that as well.
Kira: I’m probably going to echo most of what you’re saying. Beyond the podcast interviews which are always fun and energizing, it’s building relationships. That’s why I like hanging out with people. I think copywriters are fantastic people to hang out with. They’re funny. They’re self deprecating. We’re all a little bit weird, and so I want to hang out with all of you all the time so The Copywriter Club has allowed me to do that in many different ways, and so that has been through the podcast. It’s been through the programs we’ve launched, which is really about, we teach them there and their deliverables but mostly it’s about just building relationships getting closer and helping other copywriters at a deeper level, and so to me, hanging out with them and then getting on calls with them, individual calls, group calls, that’s really fun too. Beyond that, I love strategy and building businesses, so when Rob and I get to really think through what are we going to tackle next, what does this look like, what does this event in February look like? I love constructing ideas, and so to me, that’s really satisfying and I could talk about business and online business and building ideas all the time, so that’s really fun.
Then the writing piece, I really love writing for The Copywriter Club because it’s really fun and we both get to do it and we kind of tackle different parts of it and it feels really freeing to write for our brand because we can make it whatever we want and have a lot of fun with it, and especially we’re writing to copywriters. I feel like we have a lot of leeway. We can play with it a bit more and get a little bit more clever in our copy, which is it’s fun. I enjoy that. In my own business, I’d say working with clients, again it comes back to relationships. I like the people. I want to work with really cool people. I want to work with other copywriters and projects that are really great and I want to learn from them. If it’s a project I can learn something new, whether it’s working with a mentor who’s teaching me something or working with another copywriter or just working on a really cool project with a client I really want to become friends with, that’s energizing to me.
I think now that I’m saying all this, it’s really for me about the people and yes, the writing is really fun too.
Rob: Awesome. Another question, this is going to be 180 degree turn from where we are so Nicholle Gulcur asked what’s a better platform to build credibility and visibility? Publishing to LinkedIn or Medium and then sharing that to LinkedIn?
Kira: That’s a good question. I feel like that is not my forte but I’ll still answer. I’m like the worst LinkedIn user. It’s on my to-do list to improve my profile and work on it at some point. It has not been a priority but from what I’ve seen, working with other copywriters, it seems like Medium kind of took off and then it quieted down and now it seems like it’s just going really strong again with great content and I think there’s something about that platform, the aesthetic and the UX experience where it feels like it’s just really shareable content and a great place to look professional if you post your content on there versus LinkedIn, I feel like Medium would attract a better audience just depending on who your audience is and who you’re speaking to.
It will probably start with figuring that piece out before you figure out the platform but I’m really excited about Medium. I love sharing posts on there and seeing other copywriters post on there.
Rob: Yeah, I think it comes down to the audience. We know writers who are doing both, so Michal Eisikowitz publishes on LinkedIn and she has a lot of success there and finds clients through her writing and on the other side, people like Hillary Weiss and Luke Trayser are on Medium and sharing things there that are either entertaining and funny as a creative outlet or thoughts about strategy and what’s happening in the industry, and it really depends I think on who you’re trying to reach. You might be able to find your audience in both places but wherever it is that your audience is, that’s probably where you want to focus your efforts unless you’re just doing it for fun, and then Medium is probably a better outlet for just creativity and just getting something out there.
Kira: The important part is whichever one you end up choosing, that you need to show up consistently and I think that’s the biggest lesson I learned over the last few years is just especially with our podcast, showing up consistently every week, that’s how we gain traction. If we were posting a podcast randomly or skipping a couple weeks, we would never be here today with this type of growth. If it’s LinkedIn, great. If it’s Medium, great, but figure out your plan, your publishing plan and stick with it and give yourself a certain amount of time to test it, like six months, a year where you’re committed to showing up there to really see what’s possible before you pivot or give up.
All right, so Lorena asked, what was your tipping point, your holy crap I’m really doing this moment?
Rob: Yeah, that’s a great question. It really depends again, I think there have been lots of tipping points throughout my career. When I very first started out writing and was hired as an in house copywriter, I remember having that thought like I can’t believe somebody just hired me to do this thing that feels easy and fun and it doesn’t feel like work. There is that moment. I think I have holy crap moments a lot, where it’s like how am I going to get this done or I’m surprised that something has worked as well as it has. I think we both probably shared one of those moments when we decided to do the live event. It’s like okay, this is real and there’s a ton of stuff that’s going to happen to make this thing come together in the way that we envision it.
I think that there are a lot of those kinds of moments that I can look back and see.
Kira: For me, in my own copywriting business, I’d say when I started working on launches that we’re generating $500,000, even close to $1 million in the launch. It was part of a team but once you’re consistently working with clients and achieving a really high number of launches, it feels like a big win. You feel like you know what you’re doing and you’re adding value to that team so I felt like that was a good confidence boost when you start to see the results and you’re working with clients who are tracking the results and can share those numbers with you. It really gives you a lot of confidence, so I think that’s something we can all achieve and focus on to build our confidence along the way.
As far as a holy crap moment with The Copywriter Club, I don’t know. I mean we’ve had so many little moments where Rob is better at tracking the numbers and he’ll share with me that we’ve had this many downloads. Maybe Rob you can share the number now, but anytime you show those numbers, I’m like wow, that’s amazing because I just moved away from the numbers that kind of do the work and then I move back and I’m blown away by the growth and the fact that there even 6,000 people in the group right now and so many active people. I feel like that’s just a holy crap moment, and you’re right. The event we’re doing in February, we had talked about hosting an event for March and now that we’re actually doing it, we’re like we have no idea if people want to show up.
This may be a loss. We may have 10 people, who knows, but the fact that we already have people who are booking flights from around the world to attend this event in a couple of months is amazing and a surprise, and so now we’re just determined to focus on making sure it’s an incredible event and worth all of our time and something that we can do again.
Rob: Yeah, and that’s the perfect lead into another question from Sarah Alford, who admitted that she’s being nosy. She wants to know our numbers. She wants to know the evolution of revenue, plus our investments. This is a little bit of a tricky question because both of us have income from various different things, and so while we’ve got our own personal businesses working with our clients and there’s income there, then we’ve got what we’ve invested in The Copywriter Club and admittedly, there’s not a ton of profit there yet. We’ve been covering a lot of costs and trying to pay for the things that are going on. There’s time there, and then I have even a third business that I’ve been working on part time as well, so all kinds of numbers.
Let me just share a few that I think we’re very comfortable sharing. We’re around 2,000 listens for our podcast per episode. That’s measured within a month. It varies a little bit.
Kira: That’s grown since we last talked.
Rob: It keeps increasing every month. That’s not a huge number as far as podcasts go. That’s not the kind of thing that’s like a Serial or a Crimetown.
Kira: It’s not a Tim Ferriss.
Rob: Exactly, we’re not Tim Ferriss, but on the other hand, the average podcast has somewhere around 200 listens per episode, so it’s better than average. It’s in the top half of podcasts, which is really gratifying because again, we’re relatively new at this. We’ve been doing it now for 10 months and there’s a lot of learning that’s gone on and we’ve just been really gratified by that. The Facebook group, we currently have about 6,400 members. We’ll probably have 7,000 by the end of the year and we started at zero on January 1st, so the growth there has been pretty amazing as well.
There’s not a lot of profit in either of those ventures. It’s sort of a labor of love. In fact, there’s a lot of expense when it comes to the podcast itself. We’ve done the accelerator twice, and each time we’ve had more than 20 people in the accelerator and they’ve been fantastic, incredibly smart writers willing to invest in their businesses and work hard and that’s just been really gratifying to be part of that, and then the Think Tank. We’ve had 14 members in the Think Tank and again, that as a mastermind group, we’re learning from the people in that group all the time. They make us better at what we do, and hopefully we’re bringing them some things to think about and ways to improve and all of us together are just working to get stronger and to get better.
Kira: Yeah, those numbers are great. I would say what may be a surprise I should have been aware of is when you’re starting a venture like The Copywriter Club, it does take time to generate profit and even pull a salary from it. Like Rob said, if we’re not taking salaries from The Copywriter Club and at the same time, I’ve had to pull back my client work dramatically and I just don’t have the capacity to handle as much as I was, so I’ve cut my income from my own copywriting business at least in half, and that’s been painful too. My family realized all that money, we live in New York City. It is not cheap here, so it’s then hard. There’s been a hustle. We have our goals and projections and we’re both hustling hard to really build The Copywriter Club not only so it can serve people and all of the good stuff, but so that we can give it more time because as of right now, I can’t give it as much time as I would like because I need to make money elsewhere. It’s tricky and I just want to be really clear that it’s not something I think where people just jump into and they’re like, you’re making so much money from it already. Life is great.
No, I mean we’re both sacrificing because we have the vision and can see what’s possible for it in the long run.
Rob: Yeah, okay. Let’s do one or two more questions. Arina asked if you guys do testing and how would one get started testing with your copy? AB testing or what to even test for, I think she wants to add this to her business, so she’s asking what we do. We had an awesome interview with Momoko Price. I believe that was episode 17 of the podcast and when it comes to analytics and testing. I don’t think there’s anybody out there doing it better than Momo, so go back and listen to that because we talk a lot about that but as far as my own client work, I love to work with clients who can do testing. The reality though is that order to get statistically significant test results, you really need to be having thousands of results. Most conversion copywriters will talk about their results and while they are indicative of success and they are generally true, most of them aren’t getting the numbers to actually be able to say with 100% certainty that the results are due to whatever the copy says or whatever the thing is that you’re testing.
Kira: Yeah, so I would say go to people, experts like Momo, learn from them but as far as if you want to start really understanding the numbers, go after the clients who understand the value in that, who are at the point in their business where they know their numbers, so whether that’s in the launch space, whether that’s in direct response, they know the numbers better than anybody and they want you to win the controls, that’s what they’re most interested in. Find the people, the projects that understand that and value it and determine success based on that. Again, I think that’s why I’m drawn to the direct response world right now because I’m interested in knowing, let’s figure out, does this copy, does it work or not? I’m less interested in just writing copy that sounds fun and clever. I want to know if it works.
I’m going to go into the space online where I know I’ll get those results and I will know if I’m successful. I will grow and learn from those results. Okay, so on the one question we didn’t cover is about our process, which is probably a good question to cover in our last few minutes.
Rob: Yeah, so we both have I think slightly different process. When I’m onboarding a client and starting a new project, I do a lot of email and phone calling. I don’t have a type form set up. I thought about doing that several times because I do think that it can help weed out clients that aren’t a good fit but I tend to do those kinds of things via email. There’s onboarding where I’m gathering data and information. A lot of times, I will ask my clients to do a survey and to put me in touch with three or four customers that I can interview and get to know and understand so that I can actually write effectively for them. There’s the writing process itself, which can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, and then off-boarding and presenting the final copy. I like to make it look nice so I don’t just present a Google Doc. If it’s web-based, I’ll present a wire frame that I create in order to show what the copy should look like so they can envision it.
If it’s regular copy, I usually put it together in a nice deck or copy document that’s got my logo on it and some explanation, that kind of a thing. In a nutshell, those are the onboarding, the writing and the off-boarding processes and then I like to follow up afterwards as well just to see how things are performing, if there are things that I can do to help increase performance because they’ve got test results or they’ve got an indication that something is working or it could be more effective, that I like to jump back in and help with that. Those are in a nutshell my processes.
Kira: Okay, so this may sound similar because most of our processes are similar but I want to run through mine too. When I jump in with a client, I have a form they fill out. It’s 40 questions. It takes them about an hour but they’re really fun questions and I’ve even had clients ask me for their results what they submitted because they want to use the content elsewhere in their marketing material so a lot of it is just pulling out personalities. I write personality-based copy for launches and sales pages typically so I’m looking for stories. I’m looking for little anecdotes and personality drivers and then also understanding the project, the audience, what we’re selling. I tackle all of that in this 40-question online form through TypeForm and then after that, we have kickoff calls. I have two kickoff calls now. One is 90 minutes and the second one is 60 minutes and I’ll schedule them within a week of each other. I found I really need two calls to cover everything I want to cover, and again that’s because I go into there’s a lot of storytelling, a lot of me asking them personal adventure stories, anything I could use because I’m looking for content for email copy and for the sales page.
It just takes a lot of time and I’m also really focused on getting to know the clients well because I’m asking them a lot of personal stuff, so we have to build rapport and part of that 90 minutes during the first call is just to build rapport and get really comfortable. After that, we send a survey to their audience. It will help them with that survey as far as providing questions and then even the email copy that they can send. Next, we jump into the interviews so I usually will schedule six, maybe eight customer interviews depending on how big a project is and I’m running those interviews myself, scheduling them myself. I used to bring on a VA to help me with those interviews but I felt disconnected from the interviews so I stopped doing that.
I really need to be in those conversations with the customer because that’s where I pull all the best gold from those conversations. The stuff I would not be able to find anywhere else and a lot of that’s just, it’s a 20 minute call but it’s building rapport with them and trust quickly. Those are really powerful and also I will say, those are beneficial because oftentimes I get leads from those interviews and I’m not doing that on purpose. I’m not selling myself on those interviews but oftentimes, by the end of the interviews, the person’s like, what do you do? Can you work with me on this project?
It’s a great thing, and then I jump into the actual, the research portion where I’m pooling together all the data, just similar to Rob. I won’t go into that part of it before I jump into the drafts and I always offer one round of revisions after I present the draft, but I try to make sure the draft, whether it’s the sales page, it’s email copy that it is final final when I send it to my clients. I don’t want them to make a lot of changes at that point. To me it’s final and then we’ll adjust and I give them some clear directions on the type of feedback I want from them at that point so that they’re not tearing it apart and that they think they can rewrite it. I make it very clear what’s acceptable and not acceptable before we finalize the copy.
Like Rob, sometimes I will add a wire frame if it makes sense. It takes me a lot of time to put together wire frames so I have to add that into the fee and make sure I’m charging for that time as well. I believe that covers most of it.
Rob: Yeah, I think for both of us though, we’re really trying to focus on the relationship with the client, presenting them with things that are very professional, whether that’s the experience of working with us, whether that’s the actual documents that we provide as a result of our research or the writing process or revisions. That’s the focus and I’m not sure that we necessarily are the very best at doing that but that’s really where we try to focus and make it so that our clients want to work with us again.
Kira: Yeah, I think a big part of it is again, it’s the relationship building so that you can jump into another project with that client if you connect and then it’s constantly looking at your process and understanding that it can always be better. Like Rob said, there are people who have much better processes than us and I know mine can always be improved, so just taking the time to constantly iterate and improve and take it to the next level and listen to other people and adjust your process is never complete. You’ll just continue to expand and test and figure out what works for you.
Rob: Excellent, so that’s all the questions, so thanks everybody for listening. We really appreciate you being in the club. We appreciate the ideas and the things that you express in the Facebook group and hopefully, we’ll see a lot of you at our live event in February.