I’m sure you’re a great boss and your company is awesome. Maybe you have free coffee or even offer free lunch on Fridays. That’s great.
I just don’t want to work for you. Why?
I’d rather work WITH you.
Not as in my name is on your business documents but as in I’m your email and/or website copywriter. The person you consult with and trust to handle that part of your business. You still have the final say, but I do all the work.
How can we know if this partnership will work? Here are 3 areas that top my list to know if you're someone I want to work with (or continue to).
How you communicate
Something that took me a while to figure out is finding business owners who had a clear way to communicate, made their boundaries known, and respected mine. What do I mean by that? My working hours are 9AM to 3PM Monday through Thursday and Fridays are 9AM to 1PM. I don’t answer emails, phone calls, or text messages after business hours unless it would be a true emergency (i.e. something going to print, post, send, etc within the next hour). I communicate best by email or text but will get on a phone call if necessary. How does your communication style and boundaries line up with mine?
You don’t provide me with what I need
Before I start working, I ask for 2 things from you: fill out my Briefing Questionnaire and send out 3-5 emails for Voice of Customer research (I provide a template that you copy and paste). I may also ask for your logo in a .jpg and .png file and any other photos or images you have rights to that you want to use. I can’t start most of my work until these items are done. It’s no different than if you don’t have the right part or equipment to do the job - it has to wait until you do. I do create a shared Google Folder so you know exactly where it needs to go and where to go for all that I create for you as well.
You don’t provide constructive feedback
Telling me “I don’t like this” is not helpful when it comes to reviewing my copy. I only offer 2 rounds of edits so we don’t waste time with a lot of back and forth. To save many rounds of edits (and additional charges), I’d prefer to hear about:
Success doesn’t have “i” in it, but you also can’t spell it without “us”. As good of a copywriter as I consider myself, I can’t be successful if the client I’m working with doesn’t have at least have a basic understanding of these 3 points. These don’t just apply to me but any other freelancer, contractor, or business owner you work with. Think of the age old saying “treat others how you want to me treated.”
If you found yourself nodding along while reading this, and you’re ready to do more in your marketing efforts, take the next step and reach out!
Although polite, it still stings and makes you question. Was it me? Did I say too much? Or not enough? What went wrong?
It’s the same feeling you can get one someone unsubscribes from your email list or stops following you on social media. You may begin to doubt what you’ve been doing or saying. Feelings of self-doubt creep up with phrases like “you shouldn’t be doing this” and “you’re a failure.”
I’m here to tell you, unsubscribes and unfollows are a GREAT thing. You should celebrate when they happen. Not in an “I don’t need you anyway” sort of celebration but knowing you’re finding your people.
Don’t Take Unsubscribes and Unfollows Personally
These actions almost have nothing to do with you personally. Even if you’re building a personal brand, don’t let it shake you. Why? Because they aren’t the people you’re trying to reach. It’s better to be yourself and let your brand be honest and true than try to please everyone because YOU WON’T. You’ll waste time and money trying to do so. Find your people.
Better For Your Reputation with ESPs and Algorithms
Yes, an unsubscribe or follow might take give you a little speed bump, but it will actually work in your favor. For easy math (because copywriters do words not numbers) let’s say you have 100 subscribers. 58 of them or 58% open all your emails. That means 42% don’t. Now let’s say you lose 5 subscribers, non-of-which were those who open your emails. That means 58 of your now 95 followers are opening emails, upping your open rate to 61%, an increase of 3%. See what I mean? The higher percentage of your open rate (or activity of likes, comments, and shares) the better Email Service Providers (ESPs=Gmail, MCHSI, etc) will give you placement in an inbox. Think of it like a bouncer at a club - the higher your name is on the list, the quicker and better access you’ll have.
The Big “BUUUTTT”
No, not JLo. What I mean is, the only time unsubscribes and unfollows will hurt you is when they come in large numbers and all the time. If your numbers are on a steady decline, it might be time to reevaluate what you’re sending and posting. It’s better to not send or post than to continue to hurt your credibility. SIDENOTE: this is easier to do with email because you won’t get dinged by ESPs if you DON’T send (unlike social media). Some of your subscribers MIGHT notice, but those are just your superfans and it could be an opportunity to reward them for that status with a small gesture or freebie.
One last thing: update your list of subscribers and followers on a regular basis (think quarterly or annually). Send out an email to those who don’t open and see if they still want to be on your list. Some people change jobs which means their email is no longer valid or gives them a chance to decide if they still want to receive your emails. Like direct sales taught me - go for the no! You’ll always end up with more “yes” than you expect.
In short, it’s ok to let people walk away. They either don’t line up or they aren’t there YET. Keep putting insightful, helpful, and branded (aka personality) content, and you’ll see success. Marketing takes time, but it’s worth building your audience with quality fans!
**Need help keeping up with regular emails and even keeping your subscriber list clean? Let’s chat!**
I’m going to start this by saying I’m not an avid sports fan. I will gladly sit and watch the Ohio State Buckeyes (#sorrynotsorry to any Michigan fans) dominate the field during football season, but ask me what position someone plays and I’ll quickly look to my husband.
I at least understand the basics, including what a Hail Mary pass is. I like the play on words for this play, but also understand why it’s not the most useful one. Sure, it MIGHT get the job done or at least get the ball down the field, but you also risk an interception.
Here’s another reason I’ve become more familiar with this term - too many business owners are doing the same thing with their marketing. They throw up a boosted post or social media ad and hope for the best. Or they do an “email blast” to every email address they’ve ever been given (or - GASP - from an email list they bought) about a sale and think “that’ll do it.”
Do you get a quick result? Sure, you’ll get a few sales, I won’t deny it. What do you do when the email is stuck in their Promotions folder or worse, SPAM? Or if they tell social media “I don’t want to see posts from (YOUR COMPANY)”.
Marketing is Playing the Long Game
Marketing shouldn’t be about the quick wins, even though they will come. Marketing is a long process of trial and error. Effective marketing is planned out long in advance with business goals in mind. It’s not just “we need to do marketing” it’s “why are we marketing? What do we want the outcome to be?” And it can’t be just about sales - that’s like only going for a first down and not going for the touchdown.
Have The Plan Ready BEFORE You Start
No team gets on the field or court for a game without practice. You should look at your marketing in the same way. It should never be “Hey! It’s (RANDOM HOLIDAY) tomorrow. We should do a post/have a sale/send an email!” You might as well have asked 9-year-olds to sub in for your favorite sports team on the biggest game of their season. And just like teams watch old recordings of games (aka "review tape") to learn their opponent, you need to pay attention to what your competitors are doing. NOT to copy them, but to learn from them. What are they doing that’s working? Who are they targeting? What is their purpose?
Trust the Marketer Like a Good Coach Would
The coach knows the plays and their players, but the quarterback/point guard/captain is in the game. As the business owner you have a say, but trust what your marketer, whether in-house or hired out, is telling you. Ask questions and make the plans TOGETHER. That’s the secret sauce to success. The marketer shouldn’t call all the shots and neither should you. If you aren’t on the same team or at least headspace as them, call a time out and decide whether they are someone who you can be a team with or if you need to trade them out.
Marketing truly is a team sport. If any part of your marketing team, including yourself, decides to go all hot-shot and take over, they might score a few baskets/touchdowns/goals but ultimately will lose the game. Invest wisely in your marketing team, in-house or otherwise.
In the earlier stages of building a business or organization, meetings and networking become a big part of your day. It’s been no different in my entrepreneurial journey. I’ve enjoyed many cups of coffee (in person and virtually) learning about other businesses in the Des Moines metro and sharing my passion for what I do. Although meetings usually go well, when we get down to business about my marketing services, there are times where I start to see at least 1 of 5 reasons they probably won’t work with me anytime soon. And honestly, I’m usually glad they don’t because I wouldn’t want either of us to feel as though we made a bad business decision. Whether you are thinking of sitting down with myself or another marketer, it’s a good idea to consider these before you sign the dotted line.
In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of having marketing in your business’s budget. Before you consider sitting down with myself or any other marketer, make sure you have a monthly amount you’re ready to invest (and yes, you definitely want to see it as an investment, more on that below). More times than not, I’ll get the question “what do you charge?” Although I have set packages with pricing, I usually reply with another question, “What is your budget?” If you don’t have that answer, any price you would be given will give you sticker shock. I’m always willing to talk through any size budget and see if we can’t find the best bang for your business buck, but it’s better to have a budget set first.
Time is a precious commodity. It’s why many of us choose to start our own businesses - so we can spend more time doing what we love or with those we love. When you start an organization, you spend most of your time helping it grow, including all the marketing and communication. If you’re still in the early stages where you have the time to post on social media, send out emails, or create flyers, then you may not be ready to hire it out, and that’s ok. When those tasks start to go into the late hours of the night or the weekend, that’s when it’s time to work with someone like myself. My job is to help you continue to grow while making sure you have time to focus on other parts of your business or simply have more personal time.
Maybe you’ve heard how important it is to be marketing your business. Maybe people have asked why don’t you have any marketing materials. Maybe you’ve never really seen the importance of marketing but feel like it’s something you’re “supposed to do” as a business owner. If that’s your reasoning for sitting down with a marketer, I can tell you now the conversation probably won’t go well. Just like you know the importance of your products or service offerings, marketers feel the same about what they are offering you. My goal has always been to provide business owners with budget-conscience and high-quality marketing that helps them achieve their business growth goals. If I’m being honest, not fully understanding the importance of marketing is the biggest reason I don’t want someone to work with me. I want them to trust me and value what I bring to the table. I truly want to provide the best service I can and want to create a working relationship, not just a freelance contract or doing something they "should be" doing. When starting with a new client, I become one of their biggest cheerleaders because if I can’t get behind what they are about, then the marketing won’t be effective.
Your Values and Beliefs
I’m the first to shy away from conflict if at all possible. However, I’ve learned over the years that’s not the healthiest way to build a strong relationship with my clients. Early in my business, I had someone reach out needing some writing help. I didn’t ask questions because at that point I was taking anything that paid. I ended up realizing it wasn’t something I supported and had to tell them so. Even though they were upset, it was a valuable lesson about not taking on any and all clients. It had less to do with where I stood - if I don’t support or believe in something, I can’t get behind it and it will show in my work. The emotion won’t be there like it should. The words won’t be right. That’s why on my Contact page, the last question I have is about this topic. You might have a healthy budget, but if we don’t align, it’s a waste of money AND time for both parties.
This is slightly different than the part about time mentioned already. My schedule is sacred, both for my business and my family. I have set hours that I work so that I can spend time with my family. If your working hours are different than mine, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t work together. Where the issue comes in is the mutual respect of those schedules. My office hours are 9AM-3PM Monday through Thursday, and 9AM-1PM Fridays. That’s it. That’s not to say I may not pop on when an idea strikes or to meet a deadline, but in order to have balance, these are the boundaries I set. If a client can’t respect that, we aren’t going to work well (or very long) together. It’s hard to learn but so valuable for the sake of mental health. I don’t always want to be in “work-mode”. It’s a big part of the reason I left the corporate world.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good conversation over coffee or lunch especially since Des Moines has so many great local spots. I also know that making the most of the other person’s time is also important. If you’d like to get together over coffee and get to know more about my business while I do the same for yours, great! I’m always looking to expand my network and have great people to refer to. If you truly think you’re ready to take the steps towards hiring out your marketing, then let’s get a meeting on the calendar.
Thoughts from Me
Tips, advice, and more from my experience as a copywriter, marketer, and small business owner.