Guide For Article
- Guide For Article
- Q: What got you into content marketing?
- Q: What process do you use to bring value to your clients?
- Q: What did it feel like when you first landed a client?
- Q: What challenges did you encounter in your writing career, and how did you overcome them?
- Q: What are other writers missing in the process that would make their content more effective?
- Q: What advice would you give writers who want to grow in their writing career?
Q: What got you into content marketing?
I graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology in 2004, and it doesn’t get you a great job. So I took a job at the local gas company’s customer service call center, and I was the guy that if you didn’t pay your bill all winter and you needed somebody to call in yellow, I would be that guy.
So I was working from noon to 9 pm, and most people don’t want to talk to the gas company after, you know, dinnertime. And so I had a lot of time between calls to read. At the time, I was a writer, but that was where I self-published a book of poetry.
And my biggest financial success at that point as a writer was when my grandma bought ten copies of my book of poetry for her kids. So I wasn’t a successful writer, but then I found this book: an older book called “the wealth Ed writer.” It promises that if you write this different type of writing, you can make a good living.
It taught me content marketing and some other types of writing. For me, particularly what excited me was something that the author said he didn’t want to do: sales letters and all these direct entrepreneurial responses. He said he would never like to do it, but I went down that rabbit hole.
So from there, I went from Anthony’s angry customer service calls at the local gas company to this marketing which is something I want to do, and I want to work with small businesses, and I wanted to make a direct response.
I wanted to do copywriting, and, after discovering copywriting, within about six months, I landed a job as the top marketing guy at an IT Training publisher, and over the next four and a half years, I helped grow them many times over put them on the Ink Magazine list of America’s fastest-growing small businesses.
So that was from 2005 to the very beginning of 2010. I launched my freelance career, and I started working with companies all over the country and all over the world full time and started just snowballing the success like I got an award from aw AI for the hottest up-and-coming copywriter and I got a big “$10,000 Check” up on stage; that was fun.
A couple of years later, I had the opportunity to work with Brian Kurtz on the titans of direct response promo, which was a huge event, and I was fortunate enough to be the copywriter behind that.
And like that, I continued to work with new clients off and on, and I launched breakthrough marketing secrets as like I literally there was a copywriter that I was emailing back and forth, and I said hey, I want to start doing a daily email and I happen to be emailing you.
Would you just sign up, so I have somebody that I have a commitment to do these daily emails? And now it’s more than 2 million words later, and hundreds of videos about like how to succeed in copywriting in just freelance writing in general? How to build a freelance writing business? How to do marketing? How to do marketing campaigns?
All of that built into this breakthrough marketing secret in the free content that I put out. Plus, I do training, I’ve done copywriting coaching, and I still work with clients. So I’m still in there all the time, like creating campaigns, and my inspiration was all comes down to like, when I was reading the wealth head writer, and he said, “you can make a great living as a writer.”
My inspiration all comes down to this idea that I have words that come out of my head through my fingers on the keyboard, and somebody is going to read those, and they’re going to be inspired and will discover they have this problem or this challenge.
It inspired me to be able to challenge myself to figure out how to communicate in a way that would inspire action. And for me, the biggest thing was how can I inspire action? With my writing? Does that make sense? So that’s how I came into copywriting and content writing domain.
Q: What process do you use to bring value to your clients?
I learned very early on that if I focused on the writing that actually gets results like measurable business results, leads customers sales and profits, or anything that brings in customers and generates revenue. If I focus on that, and then I focus on more than just writing a sales letter, the client figures out how to use it.
If I focus on everything that needs to happen, I’m going to create the most value for the client. So what do I do? Before I get the project with a client, I talk to them about what their goal is? What results are they looking to achieve?
So usually client’s goal is not that he wants more words on paper, or he wants another blog post, but their goal is, hey, we need more customers. We’re launching this new product, and we need the launch to go as well as possible because we put down a big investment, and we need to pay back that or whatever it leads to customer sales and profits.
That’s usually what it comes down to, and then I talked about what they’re doing. I talked about the different channels that they’re using. A lot of the stuff that I do, there’s like a video sales letter or some kind of video or a landing page. That’s a long landing page.
But then, in addition to that, there are often order forms, and there are additional offers that are presented as upsells. There are emails that go out, like once people have expressed interest in this offer to try and get them to convert even before they express interest in the offer.
There are landing pages and Facebook ads and other emails, and all this stuff. So I think about all those things, and we come up with a plan, and of course, at this point, I have my own list of all the things that you probably need.
So I’m checking it off for that, but we come up with a plan; okay, here are all the moving pieces that are required. So what I just described was like a funnel campaign. But if you’re going to do a webinar campaign, there’s a whole different structure, right? So I just want all the moving pieces that are going to help the client get the best possible result from the scenario we have in front of us.
Then, because so much of my work is built around one core message, I end up interviewing the people behind the author to figure out why do people care? I have a whole bunch of formulas that we won’t have time to get into all my stuff, right. That’s why I publish daily content and training and so on.
Q: What did it feel like when you first landed a client?
There are two different distinct situations that I can talk about here, and I want to touch on both because the first one was when I discovered copywriting and I said, I know I’m going to do this, and I know I’m going to build my own business where I’m working with all these different clients, right?
I know, I’m going to do that. And through building that business, I’m going to achieve all this freedom that I want, and it’s been promised to me as a copywriter. But I also knew that I wasn’t ready for that. And so, because I was brand new to copywriting, I said I had to get experience.
I had to get an income, and so I got a full-time job. Like I just went for any entry-level marketing job that I could get, and I happened to find that I aimed for entrepreneurial companies because I knew I wanted to do entrepreneurial stuff.
But even the company that I landed at wasn’t looking for a copywriter, and they had just a complete marketing department that needed to be run. So I stepped up, and I said, I can do this. I don’t have a ton of experience, but I’m willing to learn, and I’m willing to figure it out, and my success will be your success.
It was both incredibly exhilarating and completely scary. Because I did end up at a company where I was in the marketing department, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was brand new, really.
Fortunately, the guy who had run the marketing department before had become the president of the company. I had a mentor who I am still in contact with to this day, and that was 15 years ago. But like it was it.
Q: What challenges did you encounter in your writing career, and how did you overcome them?
I don’t want to completely spill out all of my darkest moments here, but there have been times, a couple of years into my freelance writing, where it was like everything was going right and wrong at the same time.
I was working with the best client I’d ever had as part of the best copywriting team I’d ever worked with. And I was getting all sorts of praise. It’s like, oh, you’re like one of the best copywriters. I believe this. A copywriter who is already great with saying, I believe you’re one of the best of the next generation of copywriters.
And at the same time, I was working with them on a project basis, and they were like, super perfectionists. So I had to do draft after draft after draft after draft. But it was like the project wasn’t getting done, so I wasn’t getting my project payments.
And financially, it kind of nosedived, and at the same time, I was trying ADHD medicine, which is equivalent to some pretty nasty street medicine.
I just got to attach the ADHD medicine, my brain was not thinking straight, and things were kind of dark for a while. What I realized at that point, after it was really rough, was that I need to be more, and I need to decide what works for me. It can’t just be chasing what other people say is the best, like a dream or goal or whatever.
And in finding what works for me, the other thing that I need to do is keep working, but not like a hustle work, 60 hours a week. What ended up happening was I lost my momentum, like in trying to get one thing right.
It was like there’s that saying that you can’t see the forest for the trees, right? Because you’re like looking too close? Well, I couldn’t see the forest for the bark on the tree and tree trunk in front of me like I was that narrow focus.
So I just needed to step back, and I needed to say, Okay, if I focus on the right things, and I’m going through that creative process, there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs, I’m going to be okay, I’m going to figure it out.
Q: What are other writers missing in the process that would make their content more effective?
A couple of things; one is simplicity.
Before I started as a copywriter, I took pride in that flesh Kincaid score of writing stuff that was so complex that only somebody at like graduate-level could even understand it. Now I take pride in writing that’s so simple that a third-grader can understand it.
So I simplify my language. I focus on a simple present. As Einstein said, E equals MC squared was as simple as the secrets of the universe. So I like to try to simplify my message down to as simple of a presentation and concepts as possible.
I focus on how can I take something that may be a complex concept and make it so simple that anybody who engages with my message can read it?
The other thing about that is through experience, always making each piece of content or copy focus on one core idea? Like that’s something like mistakes that I made a lot early on, and that my results just get better.
Q: What advice would you give writers who want to grow in their writing career?
I would say getting really good at figuring out the story that’s going to move your market, and I will link this back to some stuff that we were talking about earlier. Most offers products, services, whatever are designed to solve a problem; pretty much any offer that’s out there in the marketplace and is successful solves a problem, either.
That’s something that somebody would identify as a problem or challenge that they’re facing, or it’s an unfulfilled need, which is another form of problem. So get really good at identifying the main problem that your prospect wants to solve.
And telling stories that can be either your story if you’re the inventor of this product to solve a problem, you should have your own story of like, here’s when I first recognized the problem, here’s the emotional agitation I felt, here’s when I look for other solutions, and they were all invalid. Here’s the solution that I’ve identified and like what it needed to be, and then I created it.
So tell your story in copywriting. Or many times with clients, it’s not necessarily the client’s story; it’s their client’s story. So like, we created this because we wanted to make a product because this product can solve this problem.
And when you get really good at telling like that core story arc, I actually call that the hero’s journey of story selling. It’s the ultimate selling story, the hero’s journey of storytelling, because in Hollywood, like all these movies are written around the hero’s journey, taught early and usually laid out by Joseph Campbell.
But based on myths going back 10s of 1000s of years as far as we know, there’s this hero’s journey that all these great stories are based on. But for selling for story selling, it really comes down to that problem, agitate and validate, solve, and ask.
And that’s what I call the hero’s journey of storytelling. Suppose you get really good at telling that story from as many different perspectives as possible. In that case, it’s really hard not to get great results as a marketing writer, whether you call it copywriter, content writer, whatever, it’s a form of content.