Had to shake out my nerves to share some of this!
As a copywriter, I write marketing words that has made other creatives and businesses (and my own) a lot of sales …
…yet I’ve made SO MANY mistakes along the way.
Y’all have been asking for more behind the scenes/messy stuff, so let’s do this: I’ve got four mistakes for you to quit making, and I’m allowed to say that because I’ve made these blunders like a champ. 🙂
Sometimes the thing you do so well for others is really hard to do for yourself—amen?
Last year was the biggest year in terms of team and revenue growth. Growth is good, but it also comes with making mistakes … sometimes, right where everyone can see them. 🙂 So goes business ownership!
These are 4 mistakes that I’ve made with my copy as a copywriter—hopefully, by sharing them you can look out for them in your own creative business copy.
Don’t forget to grab the freebie I mention in this episode below! 👇👇
1. I didn’t develop and grow my brand story over time.
My mastermind SPECIFICALLY gave me feedback to visit my own brand story when we met up last fall. I talk a lot about overcoming an eating disorder, but I haven’t woven some of that past of overcoming into the pieces of my brand story now …
… the story kind of stopped.
Those women in my mastermind encouraged me to share who I am, who my husband is, how we met and fell in love, what it’s like to have a past, pretty public history with anorexia and get pregnant 2 years after recovery—all the pieces of the Ashlyn Writes brand I’m usually afraid to talk about because I feel like people are JUST here for copywriting tips. <– maybe mostly true, but I could stand to weave in stories about my personal life as I teach a bit more.
You may realize you’ve likewise left some dots unconnected … or, like me, been so in the weeds of client work that you forget to clearly communicate what your brand narrative is.
Time to take my own advice! I tell my students inside Copywriting for Creatives™ that we need to spend time developing your THREE back-pocket brand stories:
- Your origin story (why you do what you do)
- Your a-ha moment—when you realized you were equipped with a skill set that solved problems for others or that others wanted
- A good testimonial or transformation that someone has had from buying your product or service
Get to know those 3 stories, and share them regularly.
2. I worried too much about a slogan.
One of my favorite websites Gospel Coalition recently had 2 articles posted on the same topic: one arguing for it, one arguing against it.
I think taglines are like that.
And while I could probably argue the affirmative well, uh, I’m gonna argue against it in this post.
“It’s increasingly common for a brand to go tagline-less, especially in B2B where standing out among competitors that seemingly offer the same product or service requires a nuanced brand identity that often can’t be summed up in a single catchphrase,” Forbes reported recently.
As a copywriter specifically focused on conversion in the creative niche, I don’t quite see the ROI from focusing on your slogan, splitting hairs and stressing over it. I’ll have clients make hundreds of thousands on a launch we’ll work on, or see students launch a beautiful website that books dream clients—and they don’t have slogans.
Full disclosure, here’s what my first tagline was: Stringing words, slinging ink. 🙈
I liked the alliteration, I liked the tie in for calligraphy and copywriting. Here’s what the rest of the copy above the fold of my first website looked like:
Let me tell you how much weight the slogan itself pulled. *Checks notes* Not much. In the end, it’s a vague phrase that ate up meaningful real estate on my website.
I scratched it and started putting more emphasis on more heavy-hitting bits of *actual* conversion copy on my website.
If you’re worried about your slogan or tagline copy, I want you to give it up for a bit. Instead, I want you to focus on the questions your website SHOULD be answering, the conversion factor. Never stop testing. So, that’s my solution—after you watch this video, I’d love for you to work through 44 questions your website or shop SHOULD be answering.
3. I didn’t talk about the clients or projects I’ve worked on for fear of bragging.
Remember when I said earlier that I haven’t fully shared or developed parts of my brand story into my own conversion copy?
This is where it all goes down.
This I’ve definitely done the REVERSE of this, by working too hard on building other people’s businesses as a copywriter instead of building my own.
You know the feeling, yeah?
While I encourage my students inside my CfC program to leverage testimonials and teach them exactly how to use them, guess who isn’t that great at sharing her clients’ successes … ? Moi.
In the past, I leaned on my past experiences—Delta, Princess Cruises, Orkin … but I rarely mention the things I do for my clients now (yes, I still do a lot of client work!), their incredible transformations, their launches, the life they get back.
Argh. Total work in progress on this one!
Whether part of your offboarding system sends clients to a testimonial form, OR you have a system for snapping and storing testimonials from social media, create a FABULOUS bank and system for storing testimonials.
I’m looking to get better at this by dedicating one of my team members to helping me gather and tell client and student stories because I sure need some help here. Systems, systems, systems.
4. I said “your about page isn’t about you, it’s about your customer.”
I guess I just heard that back in marketing in the early 2010s (is that a word?) and decided it was gospel truth.
Yeah, I don’t really think that.
Your about page IS about you. It’s about YOU, but THROUGH the lens of your customer or client.
Specifically, if you’re a creative small business owner or very much the face of your brand, I think we need to switch our mindset around and realize that YOU are the competitive advantage in your business.
I’ve clicked around a lot of websites lately, and a lot of times, I can’t figure out who on earth they are.
Quick tear-down example: Last night, I was looking up sheets from a cool company I heard about called Boll & Branch.
They seem to be a pretty large business now, but was (it seems) started by a husband and wife. The company’s values and mission are so clear, but I couldn’t find anything about the husband and wife—even though they and their daughter are in many of the fantastic images on their website. See what I mean? I wanted to know a bit about them! Even one image of them at home or using their product in their own house with some information about where they’re based was what I wanted to know for context.
Their sheets look super rad, if anyone wants to gift me a set. 😉 Jk, jk …
Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself on your about page or in your brand, especially if you’re a personal brand. There’s a balance, like know how much of you they want to know—again back to systems, you need to have your ear to the ground knowing what people want from you like with surveys and customer feedback, but if they’re asking to know parts of you, figure out how to weave that in.
About copy is just as capable of conversion as the next pages.
This is a more nuanced topic about landing pages and headlines and copy than a quick tip I can give you in a youtube video, but suffice it to say.
But, as you tell your story, you’ve got to lead the horse to water and help them make the connection between you and your story.
I hope this post and video was helpful for you! If you want more, grab that freebie waiting for you below—44 Questions Your Website Must Answer.
One day, we’ll look back on our current blooper reel moments and grin, raise our Yeti mug of coffee, and say “here, here, I sure was a walking face-palm emoji that day.”
Until then, know I’ve messed up, too. 🙂