I want to draw back the curtain with my own calligraphy + copywriting small business as a case study for a few reason:
- To show you that yup, you can make money as a working creative, setting your own hours, working from home (while your puppies tussle in the background).
- To show you that yes, everything I teach is tested based on my biz (and replicable — I literally teach the same tools, strategies, and scripts in my course that I learned as a working publicist).
- To show you a simple messaging model that’s profitable and effective.
- To show you don’t need a huge email list. A zillion products. A ton of Instagram followers. An MBA — you can seriously make a living doing what you love, and what you’re naturally gifted to do.
I’m ever on the hunt for simplification. Why? Because hustle didn’t work for me.
As a social media-obsessed publicist and marketer, I dreamed of the glitz and glam of midtown offices and pencil skirts and client lists and events — and I did it. And it rocked. But — as many of you know — I didn’t handle it well on the inside. Anxiety kicked in fairly early in my career. Depression spells started in college: self-care fell to the wayside as I put work first, and right after we got engaged, the stress culminated and I developed an eating disorder.
After partial hospitalization, recovery, and truly learning that the Lord desired rest and peace for me, my husband and I decided it would be best for us (and our 5-mo.-old marriage) for me to walk away from the fast-paced PR world.
Moving into my new job as a copywriter + calligrapher, I was dead-set on simplicity: I wanted to make what matters happen.
Cut to the chase.
Consciously work for my family out of a place of love.
Get the good stories out in our media-saturated world.
I’m always asking how I can clarify my own copy and messaging to make this happen. Likewise, I team up with the dreamiest roster of women clients working to do the same thing: distil their message so they can work from a place of rest, not hustle.
We’ll look at 3 things in this Ashlyn Writes case study:
- Stats + numbers (so you can see actuals)
- Assets (things I’ve created for my biz)
- Why It Worked
Stats + Numbers
Ooohh, so taboo, but I don’t care: this is how many subscribers I have on my email list. 929. That’s not a ton, right? I started an email list in March, and it’s July, which is 4 months.
Why I’m showing you? Two reasons: First, it doesn’t take a huge list to turn a profit. Secondly, precise messaging can grow your list uber-quickly.
Just over 5k / month (about 75 per day)
These are my steady, even-keeled numbers. See? Again, not huge. Also, not bad for a brand that launched 5 months ago. Are you seeing a trend? You can do this, too!
You can absolutely match a corporate salary, ok? One month, I even booked $8,600 in revenue, which for me, was calligraphy orders and one-on-one copywriting services. The only marketing I did was grass-roots and social media, driving to my website for clients to read my messaging and choose to hire me (OR NOT! Attract and repel, yo.)
I’m just going to show you the business assets I had listed in my business plan — is that ok? Here you go! These are the things I have access to, yup, literally screenshotted from my plan!
How it Worked
I firmly believe my calligraphy + copywriting business worked because I applied learnings from journalism school, PR agency work, and publicist work.
I had a mission statement.
On Feb. 22, it was raining. I curled up in my new office on full-time day 1 of Ashlyn Writes and wrote out my heart. Why I’d quit. What I wanted to create in the world. I prayerfully pulled that into a mission statement, and it continues to guide Ashlyn Writes — I see it each week when I open my business plan!
Takeaway: Draft a mission statement that compels you. Narrow it down to the pure, essential essence of what you want to do.
I wrote a brand positioning statement.
When I took calligraphy 3 years ago, it was me and a bunch of blue-haired, cute old ladies in my class. Now, modern calligraphy and 20-somethings praciticing the ancient art are everywhere. Writers? There are a GAZILLION of those.
PR agencies work with clients on messaging to figure out why they’re different than their competition, and to discern their story and “onlyness” factor. So I did that for myself.
My story includes mental health issues, and I work from a place of rest now as I manage those. Professionally, I have top-tier marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies and years of calligraphy experience.
I work for women walking into their call.
That’s what makes my message different from anyone else’s.
Takeaway: Figure out messaging that tells why you’re different than anyone in your industry.
I wrote clear copy on my website.
My first website in January? Clunky. So many words. Bless my heart … Ew — here it is, don’t judge!
But I studied, and I read, and I started to apply what I knew to be true about copywriting to my own brand. I pulled copy from my mission statement and brand positioning statement into my web copy. I wrote to my ideal client. I used her words.
I told my story. I re-did Ashlyn Writes, and began to see a change in my business as I booked clients and was asked to speak at things like Rising Tide Society.
Takeaway: Write to one person on your website.
Finally, I created a content strategy.
In PR, it’s all about editorial calendars and content, so I gave that a whirl, too. I started being precise in the blog posts and social media captions I was writing. Chiefly, I know this is what grew my email list as I shared my story.
Takeaway: Create an editorial calendar.
That’s it! Those are the four messaging tweaks I made in my small business that helped me leap head-first into creative entrepreneurship. I believe in you: I believe you can do the same, and I know because I work one-on-one to write for women just like you.
But I also know that hiring a copywriter is expensive … like way over $1,000 for a branding-excavation expensive.
Launching Copywriting for Creatives is my heart: this is how I want to serve small biz-minded women who can’t quite afford a rewrite of their website. A messaging excavation. A how-to session on blogging.
Want to learn more?
You may also be interested in: