This is a long one, guys. But I’m treating it like a journal entry: I don’t know how many hours in online course content I’ve consumed as a launch copywriter this year, but I’m boiling it down to my top 10 learnings!
I don’t want to forget the lessons I’ve learned serving an unbelievable client roster—and for the couple of dozen clients not listed her (and not even touching the sweet brides we’ve serviced!), know you taught me more than I could dream in my almost-second-year of business.
Read on for the top 10 lessons I learned from my clients in 2017!
Sure, as a launch copywriter I “watched” the Consistency Course and the Posing Course (and still get slightly overwhelmed in Lightroom, proving that photographers have a gene, I’m convinced).
But it was watching my client Katelyn at Creative @ Heart and Showit interact with attendees that taught me the most.
Baby on her hip, Katelyn engaged fully with women that came up to her to say how much she’s influenced them and impacted their businesses. I even look over at one point in Raleigh and she’s pulled a girl aside, under a tree, and is talking to her steadily about something (I’m guessing was) important.
Katelyn took the online world of business and education and crystalized it for me. I likewise observed Jasmine Star at Showit interact with swarms of women coming up to her, and am just blown away at how these women handle that—AND … Jasmine (after .5 seconds of meeting me) referred a client to me via email 2 weeks later. I mean … unreal.
Y’all, these women at the top of our industry are.the.real.deal.
I’m no where near any of that, I know. My closest experience was traveling as a leadership consultant for Alpha Delta Pi to collegiate chapters, shouldering questions and comments and helping as much as I could for the few days I was there. And I’ve tasted a bit of that at conferences, and love being able to help people on-site and answer questions without the delay of an inbox barrier.
I guess I’m amazed because truly, that’s the ease in it. The talking bit. The connecting.
It’s the after … that’s the part that I’m learning slowly—the whole, how to have an intentional, relationally built business BUT be the face of the brand, and still turn off well enough to recharge your batteries part that amazes me.
Katelyn penned a post this week that may be helpful if this is you.
Takeaway: As a speaker, make margin in your workload so you can show up at events and keep serving even when you’re not mic’ed up.
On the practical front, I recently shared with my students, but working on copy for an long-term nuruture email sequence funnel for Shay reminded me of something: just because there’s a copywriting “rule” doesn’t mean it can’t be broken.
In her case, just because everyone’s telling you to segment your email list, doesn’t mean you need to.
I think we look at what everyone’s doing far too often as small business marketers and think, “Oh sweet—now, I do this thing/messenger bots/3-part video series launches/emojis in my Facebook ad copy/3 call-to-action leadmagnet freebies on my homepage because it’s the thing.”
Far too often.
And that’s a terrible idea.
It’s my heart to build a generation of creative entrepreneurs that are critical thinking marketers. No, you should NEVER do something because you see someone else do it—even in marketing.
Instead, you should ALWAYS look first to your audience, meet them, serve them, and do it different as I’ve learned.
Shay does that. I even asked her a question about her competitors one time as we look to position her differently, and she point blank said, “honestly, I don’t know. I have a tendency to look straight ahead.”
Yes, please. It makes me want to support SC Stockshop all the more—and I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t be able to send mock-ups to our brides without her!
Takeaway: Just because your competition is doing something DEFINITELY doesn’t mean you should—maybe do the opposite.
My business big sister. 🙂 In a nutshell, here’s what Shanna taught me as we not only wrote new messaging and website copy for her, but as she then served me:
Have a plan, work the plan.
Can’t even tell you how many times she’s told me that!Have a plan, work the plan. Click To Tweet
We (me and Wes!) worked with Shanna during our 2017 sabbatical month to build a 2018 business plan and personal income plan that works better for us.
Before her Blueprint Model, I was—still am, as the year wraps—exhausted. Unable to handle outside of package requests, not sure how to budget in things like a team retreat or—heck—a team of contractors I can say “you’ll make $X in 2018.”
I embarrassingly didn’t even know how to create just 2-3 packages and figure out what my takehome would be with services on top of digital product launches.
And, despite being the girl that says “work from a place of rest, not hustle” … I worked into 11 p.m. … 12 p.m. far too many times this year for my clients. Simply because I booked more work than we could handle, because I accidentally kept booking us 6 months out.
I’m 29, and I’ve done the agency thing before. I didn’t want to do it again … and low and behold, here I’ve been.
Shanna’s system is probably the biggest reason I’m ready to really start 2018. Having only 7 super strategic-focused 1:1 clients, and having 6-10 for my associate, and serving the rest through group mentoring, courses, and programs that get them to the level where—if they want—they could be at the 1:1 point, that’s giving me all the feels.
Takeaway: When it comes to business finances and goals, just have a plan, work the plan.
So, this one’s a curveball. I don’t talk about it a lot, but I did get to help support Hilary Rushford’s team with her Marie Forleo B-School affiliate launch, and I learned a LOT about what it looks like inside a big entrepreneurial business.
I’d seen the inside of Fortune 100 businesses well from agency work, but start-up/entrepreneur land is another animal. (And yes, she’s every bit spritely on calls!)
Here’s what I learned with this client: Sometimes you have to say no to good, awesome work for a big client to make room for great.
After we’d worked together, her team needed some more support with an ebook Hilary was pushing out, and I turned it down, passing on a copyeditor I knew.
Could I have done editing work?
But was it in my line-up of services?
Nope. Not at all. I don’t want to market my business as that, I don’t want to figure out what that offering suite looks like, and I want to stay in my lane.
So, I said no, and that wasn’t easy.
But that freed me up to have my second launch of Copywriting for Creatives, which doubled our goal and made more in revenue than my corporate job salary and allowed me the chance to serve 110 incredible students.
Takeaway: It doesn’t ever *not* hurt, but say no to good to make room for great. It’s worth it.
Gah I love this little spitfire nugget. Trena’s another one that calms me down—not sure how she manages being on crutches, sick, having 2 under 2 kiddos, and running a business with a smile and a lighting bug attitude of joy, but she does.
There are very, very few courses I get paid to write copy for that I turn around and purchase. One was Jenna’s The Instagram Lab (I needed a come-to-Jesus about not hating Instagram) and Trena’s YouTube Bootcamp program.
80% of online traffic will be video by 2019.
And do you know what the second-largest search engine is?
Do you know who owns it? (You probably do.) Google.
Starting the AW YouTube channel has been a BLAST and we’ve got big plans to blow it up with regular, weekly video trainings in 2018.
I was terrified of the camera and completely in the dark on equipment, but Trena’s taken me under her wing and taught me so much. When I dream big for my business and look at the landscape of podcasts, I realized I didn’t want that: I LOVE podcasts, but I also like getting info fast. Quick, <10 minute YouTube trainings were, well, more Ashlyn.
Takeaway: Video’s going to only get bigger in 2018. Every stat supports it. Get over your fears, and start showing up.
This time last year I was texting Jess about her sales page for her program, The Speaking Blueprint. “WHO WROTE THIS!? Was it [insert name of a big copywriter]? Tell me,” I said. She laughed. “Ashlyn, this is basically everything you told me you needed.”
Sure enough, working with Jess to build out my speaking system and talks has been life-giving for my business.
I started speaking publically back as a leadership consultant, so crowds of a few hundred don’t bother me too much … but I’d never talked about copywriting before … and I’d CERTAINLY never said the word “anorexia” on stage before a few hundred people.
Jess’s whole business is built on how she turned her mess into a message, and
As a business owner, I learned to look at my time teaching on a stage as value, too.
Takeaway: It costs your business as an entrepreneur to be out of office and speak. So, treat your speaking as a revenue stream. Treat it professionally. Serve your conference organizer like crazy. Go above and beyond. Either get paid, or don’t get paid and figure out how to funnel people after. Or, do it for free … and don’t complain about it. 😉
I learn endlessly from Nancy. One time—maybe embarrassing—I couldn’t sleep in St. Lucia and read … her whole blog.
Like … back to 2009 or something.
I was bored. And a fangirl.
Supporting Nancy on a couple of projects was a blast, but her Foundations in Team Building had tears streaming down my face—where WAS this course when I was bringing on my sweet associates!?!
Nancy’s program has reoriented the way I think about building a team and being a leader: From an annual retreat to how to hold team meetings, books on the matter and more, she’s the mentor you need when it comes to this.
If you want an A-to-Z system for growing a team so you can have your life back and impact the world bigger (and especially if you’re a Jesus-lover), there’s really only Nancy. Click here for info on her team course!
Takeaway: It’s up to me. As a business owner, it’s up to me to communicate, speak life into my team, be vulnerable, and remind them of our vision.
Abby Grace Photography
My Abby girl. Abby teaches on a lot of things, but honestly, my favorite thing to hear her teach on is email management and inboxing as an entrepreneur.
Abby’s the MASTER of teaching entrepreneurs how to “man up” if you will, transition clients into emailing, and give the “gentle no” when you need to. Click here to listen to her podcast interview on the gentle no.
My favorite thing is how she’s taught me “a client inquiry isn’t a subpoena for your work.”A client inquiry isn't a subpoena for your work. Click To Tweet
My second favorite thing is this extremely practical thing she taught posted at Showit: a copy swipe for your Instagram DM inbox when you get a “I’d love to work with you!” email.
“Thank you so much for your note! In order to make sure I don’t miss any further communciation, I’d love to have you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org—it helps me make sure nothing gets overlooked!”
I mean … gold nugget, right?
And you can save it in your phone.
Oh, and bonus: One time I mentioned on Instagram my voice was hoarse after teaching a lot of webinars, and next thing I know, there’s a shipment of tea on my front porch. From Abby. Who does that!?!?!?
Takeaway: A client inquiry isn’t a subpeona for your work. And you don’t have to answer Instagram DMs—they should email you, and if you get a ton, send them a templated response.
I learn so much from this woman, who’s moved from friend to client to mentor so seamlessly. No one knows the inside of my business quite like her, since she’s been a client since my fifth month in business. I also know her business pretty dang well, after 3 course launches, multiple re-launches, multiple 1-off projects, welcome sequence drafting, long-term sequence drafting of 25+ emails, and even helping draft her husband’s website copy for The Kutcher Method.
It’s attitude I take from Jenna. Hands-down, attitude.
Despite all the pressures, all the voices, all the ideas, she genuinely encourages. Constantly.
If I could boil it down to one practical thing for you, it may seem silly, but it’s around social media.
I have a tendency to—in my cycnicalism—look at Instagram and Facebook and see how they *sorta* impact my business … but I’m also first to say you can build a really, really great business without a 10K following. I’m not proud of it, but I sometimes look at social media like, “eh, it’s fine I guess.”
Like I said, there are two courses I’ve turned around and purchased after pretty much being able to have access to them. The WORD starts with the investment, and I know I’ll take a course if buy it.
And one was The Instagram Lab.
Which I bought chiefly because I hated Instagram at the time—but run a small business.
Jenna’s outlook on Instagram is weird. Honestly. She and her husband had a best friend that died, and were able to relive moments through his social media profiles. That changed her.
Now, she’s trained me to look at Instagram and social media as legacy-building.
Takeaway: Quit looking at Instagram as a chance to build a bigger number, and serve the people already there. Plan everything in advance so you can use it as a way to encourage people during the week.
I got to support Natalie during her new site launch with her welcome sequence, but it’s been watching her through her ordeal with a brain tumor that’s impacted me the most.
Natalie texted me to say thank you for helping her with blog content during her recovery the day I posted it.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with making time to say thank you.
Natalie seized a moment, said thank you WHEN she was thinking about it.
She does that naturally.
And I need to remember that.
Because thinking about saying thank you and saying thank you are two very, very different things.
Takeaway: When people help you, immediately say thank you. Don’t wait.
Still learning that.
Let’s wrap ’em up.
Here are the top 10 things my clients taught me in 2017:
- As a speaker, make margin in your workload so you can show up at events and keep serving even when you’re not mic’ed up.
- Just because your competition is doing something DEFINITELY doesn’t mean you should—maybe do the opposite.
- When it comes to business finances and goals, just have a plan, work the plan.
- It doesn’t ever *not* hurt, but say no to good to make room for great. It’s worth it.
- Video’s going to only get bigger in 2018. Every stat supports it. Get over your fears, and start showing up.
- It costs your business as an entrepreneur to be out of office and speak. So, treat your speaking as a revenue stream. Treat it professionally. Serve your conference organizer like crazy. Go above and beyond. Either get paid, or don’t get paid and figure out how to funnel people after. Or, do it for free … and don’t complain about it. 😉
- It’s up to me. As a business owner, it’s up to me to communicate, speak life into my team, be vulnerable, and remind them of our vision.
- A client inquiry isn’t a subpeona for your work. And you don’t have to answer Instagram DMs—they should email you, and if you get a ton, send them a templated response.
- Quit looking at Instagram as a chance to build a bigger number, and serve the people already there. Plan everything in advance so you can use it as a way to encourage people during the week.
- When people help you, immediately say thank you. Don’t wait.