AMY PORTERFIELD: Hi there, Amy Porterfield here. Welcome to another episode of The Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I’m delighted that you’re here. I’m so glad you are tuning in. Today we are talking copy.
I know I have talked about copy many times throughout my podcast. But it’s a hot topic. Many of you that are growing your business online or have been growing your business for a while now still struggle with copy. I get it. I have definitely struggled for years and years.
Pretty much in the last year I have gotten my copy mojo where I actually feel confident about the copy I am writing. But I had to become a student of copy. I followed anybody that I thought really knew what they were talking about and respected. I got their books, I got their courses, I followed along as much as possible.
I had to really do the homework. I am the type of girl that, in school, nothing came naturally to me. I was a studier. I prepared. I guess I still do that in my business. But I always hated those people (but kind of secretly loved them) who it came natural to. They were great at math or didn’t have to do their homework and were perfect at English or whatever.
That’s not this girl you are hearing right now. With that it kind of went into my business as well. I have to really become a student of something before I get good at it. I have made the dedication or commitment to become a student of copy.
I hope you will follow that. I hope you will do the same because when I finally felt like I got that copy mojo that I talked about things started to become easier in all of my business. I would sit down and dread having to write a promo email. I hated the thought of even writing anything for a sales page because I had zero confidence in my ability to do so.
When that confidence started to build up I would think, “bring it on.” You get to communicate your message. We are all passionate about what we do in our business. What better way to spend our time than to actually craft messages that are going to get people to be just as excited about what we teach as we are to teach it. That’s what I love about copy.
I would much rather delegate all of the Infusionsoft stuff and the back-end funnel stuff and all of the tech stuff…no thank you! You can help me do that all day long but I want to at least really own the ability to write copy.
I have since actually hired a copywriter for some of the projects I am working on. The coolest thing ever is the guy I am working with, Ry, and I get to work together. He really understands my voice and I talk to him about what works and give him examples of things I have written. Sometimes I feel it is more of a collaboration because I can never completely give away my copy.
That is something that I always want to be involved in so I still write my emails and still get involved in a lot of the different content that you see out there. My fingers are on all of it when it comes to copy. I can’t say that about everything else in my business because I have to delegate in order to stay sane.
Anyway, I am passionate about this topic and I really want to share it with you as well.
My guest today is Nikki Elledge Brown. She is known to her clients as the Communications Stylist. Nikki is fantastic at copy. Not only does she write amazing copy for her own business but she teaches copy in a way that you can really understand. She puts it into recipes.
There is a recipe for how you write copy for blog posts. There is a recipe for how you write copy for your sales page, for your video scripts, for your about page, for your work-with-me page on your website. There are recipes. She really breaks it down in a way that is very doable.
So many of us get tripped up in terms of how to write copy in a way that’s going to get people to take action and do something, to actually buy. She addresses that in all she teaches when it comes to copy.
The cool thing is that Nikki created the freebie for today. Each episode has a free giveaway. Nikki created it so that you can get all of her recipes. This is a must download for sure. She is going to talk about the recipes today but she literally outlines them in this free giveaway. To get the free giveaway for today to learn the recipes you can get it at http://www.amyporterfield.com/Nikki.
When you get this PDF I want you to save it. Every time you go to write something new go through the PDF and find the recipe you need and use it. It will take you so much less time to formulate what you want to say when you actually have a formula or recipe to do so.
Before we dive in I want to thank our sponsor today, 99Designs. I am such a huge fan of this company. They can take care of all of your graphic needs. We are talking logos, social media cover images, website graphics, and so much more. Visit www. 99Designs.com/amy and get a $99 upgrade for free.
I love Nikki because I think she is smart. She offers extremely valuable advice, and the girl just walks the talk. If you go to her website which I will link to in the show notes (www.NikkiElledgeBrown.com) you will see she makes a lot of videos. She is constantly blogging. She has A Course About Copy and the way she talks about that course gives you no way to not want it.
She knows how to write copy that will get you engaged and make you just fall in love with her. And who doesn’t want to write copy like that? I feel she is the real deal in all that she does and I love looking for people to interview that actually walk the talk and do exactly what they are teaching and people who are a great example of that. That’s what Nikki is all about.
I am really proud to bring her on the show today. I hope you fall in love with her as much as I have. Let’s get to it.
Amy: Nikki, thanks so much for being here today. I am so delighted that you are here.
Nikki: Yes, I am so excited. Thanks for having me.
Amy: I have just been waiting for this because you have such a cool way of sharing your content and how to write copy. We are going to get into all of it but I am going to give a teaser question. I am not going to let you answer until the very end but it’s going to be a good one.
In the intro I talked about you being amazingly successful. One of the things I want to know (at the end – we are going to keep it until the end) what is your recipe for building such a huge amazing business in about one year. We will come back to that.
I want to hear what you have to share in terms of how you have done what you have done. But before we get there let’s start from the top. I heard you say that you don’t really consider yourself a copywriter rather you are an expert in communication. Yet somehow you build a six-figure business in about 16 months by teaching people how to write great copy.
Can you explain how your focus on communication helps you write better copy?
Nikki: The way that it all came about was because my degrees are both in communication studies, literally, the social science of communication. When I was inspired to share that gift in a bigger way at the beginning of 2013 I was wondering how it could be a business and who would pay for it.
Entrepreneurs! Your ability is on the line; you would pay for it because you are losing money if you aren’t communicating effectively. The copywriting element just naturally bubbled up when I started asking people what they wanted help with.
I could help with awkward customer service emails or public speaking. People would ask about copy, copy, copy, and about page because people don’t know how to talk about themselves. It literally just took off from there. It was kind of just a matter of playing keep up. I had 90-something folks sign up to work with me one on one the first summer.
By the second month of business I had over 90 people sign up. The funny thing is, even though the course is all about writing for your site I didn’t even have a website up yet. I had a splash page. It was a rather unattractive, really super-plain splash page. It goes to show it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be shared.
I had all of those people sign up to work with me because it was obviously what people needed help with. It was a natural next step to turn that into a course and then, as you mentioned, it was crazy pants because it was a multiple six-figure business by month 16. August 2014 was actually insane. There is a need out there and I am really happy to share whatever I can share today to help folks with their communication both written and otherwise.
Amy: I love that you said it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be shared.
Nikki: Yes, it is as if I were a pull-string doll I say it to myself all the time and I say it to my customers all the time. That’s our biggest hang up and that’s my biggest message for everybody.
Amy: So true. Speaking of hang-ups, one huge hang up, something that really freaks people out is the whole idea of writing copy. What approach can you give for people to take that might feel that writing copy is not natural to them and they really struggle to get their message out there?
Nikki: I think so much of it is the mindset piece. I don’t think, I know. This is really the case with all of it – spoiler alert for what I will share at the end but based on the question you just asked – but I know from experience that working with several hundred entrepreneurs in my first couple of years of business that we just doubt ourselves and we think of writing, especially when we put the word copy in front of it – and now it is this different thing we didn’t know existed before. Three months before I started my business I had never heard of copywriting with a W.
Amy: With a W, I love it.
Nikki: Most people ask what copywriting is. That was me. Most people would say that is what my business has been about to date. It is not a skill set that has to exist outside of you because at the heart of all of it is just your voice or, if you have a product-based business, it is your brand’s voice on purpose.
You have to realize your job in your copy is just to help people hear you before they hire you, before they sign up to work with you. You have to give yourself a break and know it’s a process. It is a social science. Yes there are so many copywriting heaving weights out there who have all of the stats and the split tests and blah, blah, blah.
That’s great and totally legit. It is just not my style. My style is about showing up in a way that makes sense, communicating in a clear way that is both clear and sincere. It has been working out quite well for me so far so I will keep preaching it.
Amy: I love it. I definitely love when people are teaching what’s working before for them. It makes so much more sense and keeps it really simple. Speaking of simple, you teach in terms of recipes. When we are talking about copy you start talking about recipes. This is something we really have to explore.
What do you mean by recipes? I want to get into some examples that you have.
Nikki: The irony of it is I don’t even cook.
Amy: You don’t? Okay, just hearing your cute southern accent I always think you are such a little cooker, a little baker, or something.
Nikki: In my husband’s dreams. I am working on my crockpot training wheels this year.
Nikki: I do like to bake. Recipes are more important in baking than they are in cooking. I think that is maybe what freaks me out about it because you can do whatever and freestyle. I would rather have a recipe.
Amy: Me too.
Nikki: My customers are the same way. The recipe kind of evolved from that first summer when I had the opportunity to work with my first 100 clients. I think all but one were female. We had one dude dream guy but the rest of them were ladies from all over the world and in all different fields.
The number one concern, like I said, was how to write about themselves on the about page. I know you just did a great episode with Melissa Cassera on that. People can reference that one, but that was clearly the biggest struggle. I found myself saying it over and over and over again.
Eventually I just wrote it down in a PDF so that I could send it off to people after our one-on-one session. I realized I was saying the same thing over and over. When I looked at the recipe, these five steps, I realized this actually subconsciously seeped in from my public speaking teaching experience when I was teaching public speaking at the college level.
I would always tell my students that you don’t start off standing up there saying, “Hi, I’m Nikki.” Nobody cares who Nikki is yet. We aren’t listening yet until you give us a really good reason. That is why we start with an attention getter. We then bridge them into why it matters and why they should listen to us and then that clear “Here’s what to expect” and the clear “Here’s your call to action.”
That is kind of the flow of the recipe so I just started thinking about everything in that sense. When I knew I wanted to create a course I again thought how I could help people with copy and communication. There are so many different ways but a tangible objective that people allows people to check a box and write their site popped into my mind.
I decided to retroactively go back and find the recipes for what I had been helping hundreds of one-on-one clients with. That is how the whole recipe book was born – not to take the metaphor too far because I am a commitment-phobe and I don’t like doing that. Thinks are too themey – you get too far and you question why you are talking about that.
Amy: I have to take it a little further. Let me ask you…You are basically saying that there is a recipe for how to write blog posts and a recipe for writing your about page or your press page or resources page. There is a specific recipe for writing each of those, even a sales page?
Nikki: Absolutely. There is no one right way to write any of them. That is exactly why people get so overwhelmed by the blank page because you think, “what on earth am I supposed to put on this page.”
You could analyze 70 different pages and then see what should go on a page but to find my recipes I went back and looked at my own pages because they were working rather well. I looked at what I worked on with my one-on-one clients and looked at the flow and order of events.
I saw how the information was presented so that it checked all of the boxes and tells people what they need to know to know they want to do business with us or to know they want to click that download or that they want to sign up for XYZ. I like to think in recipes because I think of it as kind of training wheels.
I also think in a lot of metaphors and analogies and word pictures. The Communication Stylist is my biggest example. But because I don’t want to tell you the words to say, I just want to give you a structure, a scaffolding, that you can hang your words on. You fill in the blanks.
You know you want to get attention, you want to reassure them, you want to introduce yourself. You then take that and run with it and showcase the best of what you have to offer within the comfy training wheels of having the recipe.
Amy: I like that. It does give you a little comfort and confidence. Let’s break it down and make it a little bit actionable. Let’s say you are going to write a blog post for your actual content, some How-To content that you know you can teach really well. What kind of recipe are we looking at?
Nikki: With pretty much everything, any page you are writing, I always recommend starting with the attention getter. It is just like I was saying that I would tell you if you were working on a presentation for a face-to-face presentation.
With the attention getter it is literally something (this may be something we talk about later – the copy bank) basically building a Word document or Evernote file or Google document of the words they use to describe whatever situation or struggle they deal with.
Amy: That’s good.
Nikki: So you don’t have to think of it. People want to be engaging and want to get attention. I tell them they can do that if they just listen. People tell you what they are struggling with. They are telling you exactly what they want. So literally take a screen shot and save that for your copy bank so that when it is time to sit down and write that blog post you can get their attention right off the bat.
I am trying to think of a recent example. I put a video out recently and it was talking about struggling to make friends because you are sitting on the other side of your laptop totally alone and it feels like everyone else already knows each other. That can feel really frustrating.
How are you supposed to connect? How are you supposed to grow your network? You know you are supposed to, you know you want to but you have no idea how. That’s an example of an attention getter. It’s like, okay, what’s she got next.
We want to just draw them in so they know what to do next. The first step would be the attention getter (this will be like a simplified version of it). The second step is the introduction.
If you are doing a video or audio then I recommend saying, “I’m Nikki Elledge Brown, the Communication Stylist,” just so people know who you are in the video, especially when you are syndicating it in multiple places and maybe they don’t know you yet. You don’t need to say that if you are just writing a blog post.
In the intro section you want to tell them what to expect. What are they going to learn about? This is where I would move into, “In this video I am going to tell you my not-so- secret strategy for introducing and growing your network by introducing your buddies to each other.”
Tell them what to expect so that there is no micro anxiety. We all know this, whenever you have been in an audience at some kind of presentation and you have no idea where they are going next you kind of get nervous for them and then it is uncomfortable. That is why it is good to be really clear and set out that forecast, a preview statement of what to expect in the blog post and why you should want to keep reading/watching, etc.
We have the attention getter, the intro (either an introduction of yourself and/or the introduction of the topic and what you are going to cover), and then the nugget.
Amy: The nugget?
Nikki: Yes. I came up with “nugget” because last summer I was making a series of micro lessons that were literally two minutes. I gave myself a time limit. The videos had to be less than two minutes so I just had have just one little nugget.
Maybe your blog post is a little more mega and maybe you have three main points or five main points. But the nugget is the part of the blog post where you are actually doing the teaching and sharing.
The last piece is the call to action. I call it the homework. I am a nerd. I love school and that’s why all of my online A Course About Copy branding centers around school supplies and homework and that kind of thing.
At the end of every blog post give people something really clear and specific that you want them to do. It is an easy win, something that isn’t overwhelming to where they will just say, ” no” they aren’t going to do it, but give them something they will feel good about doing and that you will feel good about too, for example, a comment. Ask them a specific question they can easily answer. That way you can keep building a relationship with them.
We have the attention getter, the introduction, the nuggets, and the homework (call to action). It can really be that simple. Then you just fill in the content with whatever stories and copy banks and information you want to share.
Amy: The great thing is a lot of what we are covering, especially with the recipes and what is included is in our freebie today. Visit http://www.amyporterfield.com/Nikki and you can get it right away.
We will definitely go over that again in the freebie so that you can actually apply it and use it. But I am glad you mentioned videos. Putting videos on your blog is a really great idea. I think I say it every year, video is really hot.
I don’t think it is ever really going to be not hot. You recently did a video where it was really, really personal. You announced that you are having a baby, baby #2. Congratulations!
Nikki: Thank you.
Amy: That video was not only super sweet but was very, very personal. You also found a way to bring it back to the people, us, that were watching. My first question is, do you do something different with your videos than you do with your blog posts? A question to follow that is, when should you be using videos on your blog versus written blog posts?
Nikki: Those are two great questions. I look at it pretty much the same. Whenever I am outlining a video then I literally want to think what I want to say at the very beginning, the attention getter, so that they know they want to keep listening. I don’t start off my videos with, “Hey guys, it’s Nikki.” Again, who cares.
What if someone just found me on YouTube for the first time. They don’t know. They aren’t listening yet until you give them a reason to listen. I always start off with an attention getter. I literally introduce myself, “Nikki Elledge Brown, Communication Stylist,” and then I dig into the content, the nugget, whatever it is. Then I always end up with that call to action.
I still use the recipe. My friend/founding member of A Course About Copy (that’s how I met her and now she’s one of my dearest biz buddies), Tamsen Horton, says my recipes are like Lowry’s seasoning, they go with everything. Again, I don’t cook but I do know what that is.
Amy: You sound like a pro. I’m coming over for dinner soon.
Nikki: Jeremy is really good with steak and grilling so I am sure we will use that. Seriously, it is A Course About Copy but, again, I can’t help but share stuff that’s going to help you with communicating in general in pretty much any format. It’s just because it makes sense. Get people’s attention, tell them what they are going to hear and why they should believe it from you, and then give them something to do with it.
The second piece, what was the question you asked?
Amy: When should you use a video versus a written blog post?
Nikki: I do both because I love video. I just love video because I love connecting with people and since I feel like a hermit sometimes being 4,000 miles away in Honolulu then I feel like it is my best way to connect with people.
So, if you are comfortable on video, and even if you are not but you know you would be comfortable if you saw the person face to face, practice it. Just try it as a medium. A lot of people are not really that comfortable writing. Even if you aren’t following a recipe and don’t have a professional writing set up that is totally fine.
The bottom line of what you want to do to build your business, again, it’s not about being perfect or having a fancy website, go back in time and look at a web archive and look at previous websites…it’s about connecting with people.
If you have something of value to share then who are you to keep it from all of us. It’s time to share it. If you want to experiment with it and you feel it could be a great way to connect with people and it takes the pressure off of your writing then totally just do a video. Then maybe have it transcribed and then you can go from there if you’re not super confident with your writing just yet.
Amy: Do you have a big video setup with the lighting, nice camera, and all that? What’s your setup?
Nikki: I actually have a blog post I can give you the link to when we are done. It is how to make a pro-looking video when you are definitely not a pro. It is my Faux Pro Studio. I just set it up and have a Canon T5-I and my tripod. I literally have clamp lights bought at Lowe’s and a pashmina shawl as a filter over it.
Nikki: It’s very fancy.
I have a picture of it because the big old white thing that is in a circle and you try to put it back up, my poor husband…it’s been on our wall for a year now and I haven’t even used it for several months at least. But I am not trying to put that back in the bag.
Amy: That’s so true. I know what you are talking about. You are talking about the thing that is basically your backdrop and you bend it in a certain way to get it into a circle again. That is almost impossible.
Nikki: You watch a YouTube video very slowly and pause it and have a partner help me pull it back up. But that is basically any video, it is in any video about copy videos that you see. It is just a white background because I wanted to do it right when I did it last year so that it would last me a few years and I wouldn’t outgrow it instantly.
But for my blog videos I keep it really simple and it’s usually just me at my kitchen table by the window. I did recently upgrade and buy the webcam that David recommended. It’s an HD Logitech webcam. It is widescreen as opposed to my Photo Booth which is what I was using, the built in one. It is both widescreen and HD so I can go crazy with my hand gestures now.
Nikki: You know me. So we will see. I have a twinkle in my eye of a podcast and video podcast so I do want to step it up a little bit for the regular stuff because it will hopefully be podcast material.
Amy: I can see you doing a really awesome podcast. I am pretty sure that has to be at the top of your list.
Nikki: Okay, yes.
Amy: Maybe after the baby.
Nikki: Really, it’s pre baby because my whole inspiration for it is that I want to mega batch. I want to create so much that no matter what I am delivering value to my people and to my family without feeling whatever. So I am about to go on a binge and if I am going to create all of that content then I might as well be repurposing it and leveraging it as much as humanly possible. That’s why I am thinking about starting a podcast.
I will step it up a little bit more but still I want it to feel relatable and approachable because then nobody believes you when you say it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be shared.
Amy: So true! You kind of have to stick with it.
Nikki: You have to keep it real.
Amy: I love that. I was doing some research and I might have gotten this number wrong so you can correct me here. Did I read somewhere that you have around 4,000 subscribers?
Nikki: You probably did because I haven’t updated in a long time. I have just over 10,000 at this point.
Amy: We are talking about email subscribers?
Amy: Okay, so quick question for you…When you finally hit that six-figure mark and you were making at least $100,000 in your business, do you remember at the time how many people you had on your list?
Nikki: It was about 2,000.
Amy: Okay, everyone needs to stop for a second. This is a big, big moment here. You had about 2,000 people on your email list and you were making at least, probably more, $100,000 in your business that year?
Nikki: Yeah, because it was when I launched A Course About Copy for the first time. I had set a goal for myself. I didn’t know why because, again, I would like to highlight that I was making $14 an hour as a park ranger two years ago, literally.
Amy: Crazy, crazy, crazy.
Nikki: It just wasn’t in my possibility. When I first started my business I thought I could maybe make $25,000 in my first year of business.
Amy: And you would be rich.
Nikki: All of those people, with the 90-something people we had made $20,000 by the end of just six weeks.
Amy: What did your husband think of that? I remember when I started to really do well in my business and my husband looked at me to question if we were doing something legal. He wanted to know what’s going on here. So, was your husband like, “What the heck?”
Nikki: Yeah. I have to laugh and tease him because one day, especially once I got the evergreen course going he was like, “You know that green thing that you make money?”
My evergreen funnel, yes. He loves it! He is so supportive. He just has a twinkle in his eye like, “Go baby, go.” He is so supportive.
Amy: That is so awesome.
Nikki: I love it because I am so proud of him. He has been working his buns off for, not just our family, but all of America.
Amy: Let’s give him a shout out. Your husband, what’s his name?
Amy: He is on deployment right now. Where is he?
Nikki: He is out there in the western Pacific.
Amy: The western Pacific. He is going to be gone six months total right?
Nikki: Yes, usually a six or seven month stint.
Amy: That’s a long time.
Amy: So we are giving a shout out to your amazing husband for doing what he does for our country. That is so very awesome. I love that he is a supportive husband and cheers you on and likes his woman making some money.
Nikki: He does. I had kind of given up on the idea of making a lot of money. After I finished grad school I moved out to Hawaii after we got married. It was 2008. Plus we were in Ireland where everyone was trying to fight for three jobs at a time. I just thought, okay, I will just work for paychecks of the heart.
Again, I was thankful I didn’t have to work. I don’t have to work. That is a blessing to literally work like you don’t need the money. So that was the thing with the whole six- figure goal. It’s not about the money, I just felt it was supposed to be a part of my story.
Now I know why it is supposed to be a part of my story because I am going to be writing my first book soon about the first year of business. That gives me good credibility there.
Amy: So you had 2,000 people on your list. I kind of got you off course but the six- figure business didn’t just come from having the one-on-one clients. You had created your very first course which is still a course you sell which is A Course About Copy.
Nikki: Yes, it was half and half. I had made about 56,000 from the one-on-one sessions in the first eight-ish months. Then I finally created the course and my goal was to finish the six-figure goal in the first year and the pressure was on. I only had three months to make $50,000. How was this going to happen?
That was the fire under my booty to just crank out the first pancake version about copy and sure enough we had 51 founding members and it is a $1,000 course. That happened.
Amy: What does that mean, the first pancake version?
Nikki: You know, the first pancake is a little funky around the edges until you get your groove. I do make pancakes on occasion at least. But that first pancake was so loveable and so great. The founding members are my write-or-die homies that love it. I assured them their value would only go up because the content wasn’t beta, it was just the format I was delivering it in.
I told people I had ten years of experience teaching and studying this and had 100s of one-on-one clients who can tell you I know what I am doing. They were all on board and it has been a really fun journey since and we now have over 300 members.
Amy: Wow! That’s absolutely fantastic. I love hearing that story. That’s why I first found you through our mutual friend, David Siteman Garland. I love that you threw his name out earlier. I don’t know if everyone knows who David is but she mentioned him as the person that suggested the camera for you, right?
Nikki: Right. I can’t even remember where or how I saw him mention it. It may have actually been through John Lee Dumas because I was watching something he was talking about. But yes, shout out to David because his Create Awesome online course was huge in helping me figure out how I wanted to launch A Course About Copy for the first time.
Amy: That is so awesome. I love that. He is such a fan of yours. He is the one that told me all about you and then, of course, I fell in love. It all comes together that way.
Since we are talking about making money and sales and all that good stuff, I want to transition into talking about sales pages and emails that sell. This is a big one for my audience because a lot of those listening have struggled with creating a sales page.
It is totally daunting when you are starting from scratch. I even hate it and I have done a lot of sales pages. So if you are telling me there is a recipe I love that. I forget, in our freebie do we talk about sales page recipes?
Nikki: Yes, I can totally give you my tips there. I have specific recipes but for sales pages, because there is such a variety of things people could be selling, I like to kind of talk about it in terms of four things everybody is looking for when they go to your page.
Amy: I like it.
Nikki: The first thing is clear value. I will tell you different ways you can achieve this too. The first, most basic thing, is clear value; why do I want or need what you have to offer? You actually need to spell it out. You can do this by bridging the before picture where they are now, that is usually your attention getter, to where they want to be.
Oh sweet, your offer happens to be what will get them from where they are now to where they want to be. Make sure it is clear value and you are truly explaining what actually in this product. Make sure it is clear why they want and need what you have to offer. That is clear value number one.
Number two is credibility. Maybe if someone is on your work-with-me page it is a little bit different than if you have a stand-alone sales page. But you can’t assume people already know who the heck you are. Maybe they just got here from who knows where. Maybe somebody told them to check this program out and they have no idea who you are or why you are credible or why they should consider spending their hard- earned dollars with you or Euros or whatever it is.
You want to make sure you communicate your credibility. A couple of ways you can do that, 1) Have a bio section. On my A Course About Copy sales page it says, “In case we haven’t met yet.” That is further down the page because, again, that’s not the primary thing. They don’t care about me just yet.
But once they are intrigued by the content and the course they want to know who I am and why they should trust my judgment. That’s why I say, “In case we haven’t met yet” and I have a picture of me and my guys to show the person behind the sales page. That’s huge and communicates a whole lot.
Another great way to communicate credibility is using social proof and sprinkling testimonials all throughout. So even if you are just starting out and don’t have customers for this particular product yet maybe you work with people one on one. Again, there is a first launch for everything. I didn’t have A Course About Copy
students yet when I was launching it but I did have all of those customers who I had gotten feedback from with my one-on-one sessions.
I was using their feedback to help people feel comfy knowing that I knew my stuff and would help them get results. Sprinkling testimonials throughout that are results based, this is the kind of stuff that they can see, “Oh, that’s my story. If it worked for her it’s going to work for me.”
Sprinkling that throughout is great for credibility. So clear value, credibility, clear expectations. Clear expectations are huge. We have a micro anxiety. We have never met you and don’t know you from Adam. So are we sure? Is this really going to work for us?
This is why you see a lot of people with frequently asked questions sections on their website. This is where you can think through the questions. What are the questions, what are the potential objections that they might have, what are they unsure about?
Literally just get in their brain and ask someone. You can have a call to ask someone what questions they have after they read the sales page and use it as your guide. Ask yourself what you would be wondering about if you had read all of the information. Overcome those objections and make sure it is really clear.
This is also why it’s great, like you do in your webinars Amy, where at the end you are showing people what is going to happen next. There is no uncertainty and they don’t go down the wormhole after they click the “buy” button. You literally tell them what happens next.
You can literally help people see themselves on the other side and what it will be like. If it’s a product then you are giving them a tutorial on how they will use it and what they can use it for. The same thing with a virtual tour. If you have a course then show them what the inside looks like. You are then bridging the gap and helping people make the jump and feel more comfortable with it.
Clear expectations are huge. Again, this is why I had all of those clients sign up before I even had a website. In the sales email, I didn’t have a website to have a sales page, but in the email which ultimately became the copy for my work-with-me page I was saying, “Here’s exactly what you can expect before, during, and after our time together.
I told them, as soon as you sign up I am going to send you an email and during our first five minutes of the call…I took it really seriously; even when I was listing free sessions with people when I was first starting out. I had a zero percent no-show rate. Even though it was free and they didn’t know me from anybody, I hadn’t done anything.
I had super clear expectations. This is why, after every tip, I am going back and telling you again, clear value, credibility, clear expectations because it just helps people. There is a lot going on in our brain so the easier you can make it for us the better.
The last thing is the warm fuzzy X factor. It is the personality. You need to make sure your sales page represents you and the feeling they are going to have once they are your customer or your client or student or whatever it is.
That comes with the photos and with your voice through your copy and the personality in there. It comes with the whole overall feeling and the color. If you are just using a template that they have seen a million times and there is nothing different about it then how am I supposed to feel…energetically if they know this is a good fit for them as opposed to somebody else who is offering something similar but with a totally different flavor.
So, clear value, credibility, clear expectations, and personality for that intuitive piece of buying decisions.
Amy: So, speaking of that personality type. You obviously have a lot of personality. So it oozes out of you and comes natural. But that’s not the case for everybody. So first of all, I have to tell everybody…You’ve got to get on Nikki’s email list because I am a big fan of swipe files. I collect swipe files of those people that I love their emails and always open them up and love to read them.
Nikki is at the very, very top of that list.
Nikki: Aww, thank you.
Amy: They are awesome. If you want to really see a great email strategy in action Nikki is your girl. I will make sure to link to her website in the show notes as well as all of the other stuff we are talking about. But, speaking of that, I want you to give me some tips.
All of your emails are great, but your sales emails are magical. I don’t know what’s going on. They have a feel where I feel like you are literally my best friend talking to me. I know you are selling me something but I am just like, “Give it to me girl, I’m ready.”
What is going on there? I don’t know how you are striking this tone. Your personality is not going to fit for everybody, but what do you have to say about that? You have to know something.
Nikki: There are a few things. One of the most important things I want to say, again, thank you for all of the lovely words. No pressure everyone.
The one thing I really want to nail is it is not about a certain personality type, it’s just genuinely whatever you are. If you try to put on my personality and they sign up to work with you and they see it is not your personality then you feel bad because you feel like you aren’t enough, you had to fake it. And then they feel disappointed because you did some kind of bait and switch.
I would drive some people kooky crazy. I do. Ask my husband, including him. But it has to be you. So many people feel they have to be really witty or really another way. No. You just have to be how you are. That’s how you find your dream clients. That is how you attract your dream clients, by showing up as you actually are.
It’s part of the Communication Stylist analogy. If I am trying on Amy’s shoes and we aren’t the same size or we are swapping clothes and this one is too big or this one is too small, you don’t feel confident in it. It is not tailored to you. Make sure you are giving yourself permission. If you are the most flat, literal person in the world that is totally fine.
Amy: I thought you were going to say flat chested. I wondered where you were going with this.
Nikki: No. I can totally relate to that…except when I am pregnant. But people who have a really dry or really straight-forward sense of humor need to show up that way. Your emails need to represent you however you are. You aren’t trying to be cool, you are trying to be you however that is.
Those are the coolest people, the ones that are, this is me, what you see is what you get. But we want to reign that in. It is the authentic piece plus the smart piece.
One of the tips I would give you for email or anything you are writing is to think about the purpose of that deal. Whether it is your sales page or your blog post or Facebook post or whatever it is, in the email you want to think about what you want people to know. Straight up, what is the information? What do you want them to know from this piece of communication?
How do you want people to feel about whatever it is they know? That is how you can kind of style and massage the language so that it portrays the non-verbal piece. Then what do you want them to do? Literally, what do you want them to do?
If you have ten calls to action (I am sometimes guilty of this – sometimes there is a lot I want to say this week and I do want them to come to me on Instagram and I want them to comment and I do want them to look forward to whatever) it is kind of overwhelming. The better and more clear you can be with the call to action at the end the better results you will have.
Amy: I totally agree. Those are some great tips and I love that your goal here is just to be yourself. Let’s not fake it. Really own that and you are going to find your perfect, ideal audience for you.
That is such a great point. And you have some writing exercises. I saw in your blog you have Three Easy Exercises To Rock Your Writing Style. You are cool with us linking to those, right?
Nikki: Yes, that was actually in another interview I did with Kelly Higdon at Zynneme They lead a group of therapists. It is really cool. It is really fun to speak specifically to direct, specific industries and I am going to experiment more with that when I am promoting A Course About Copy because I think it’s really cool.
I could teach that these are the things dentists really struggle with…
Amy: I’m telling you, there’s a need for that, getting really specific. So, what I’m referring to, I must have found it over there where you were actually talking to therapists, you said?
Nikki: Yes, but it applies to everybody. I wrote them down so that we could cover them here today. I will also put them in our freebie. It is going to be a mega freebie.
Amy: This is a mega freebie, everybody!
Nikki: It’s a mini notebook but it is actually kind of mega. One thing is to take the BFF test and literally read whatever you have written out loud to one of your best friends or to your spouse or even to yourself if no one else is around. We’re not giving you an excuse to waste time where you can say, “Oh, I can’t, I haven’t taken the BFF test.”
Just read it out loud. If you feel like a total goon burger when you read it because it’s not something that would ever come out of your mouth that is a sign that you need to restyle it a bit.
Sometimes there are things we would say that look weird in writing. Or, maybe we would say something in writing a little more flavorful than when we say it out loud. It’s funny that you talk about my email strategy because I don’t have one. But, when I look back I do have something to say that I am really going to try to say exactly as I would say it.
That is why I like to accessorize and use bold, italics, periods, and parenthesis and stuff. That is literally styling up the words to help them have dimension on the page. When people read the words there is kind of a flow. So put them through the BFF test. If it feels totally weird that is okay, just restyle it.
You have to be patient with yourself. I’ll say it again a squillion times over, you have to be patient with yourself whenever you are trying to find your voice. People put so much pressure on it but your voice could be different today than it was two months ago, two years ago, or two hours ago depending on your mood.
It’s not like you are going to nail your voice and it is the ultimate end of the journey. We are always learning and your voice is going to evolve so just be patient with yourself. Know it’s a creative process and the more you do it the more comfortable you will get.
Take the BFF test for one. We already talked about starting a copy bank. But, again, that is just creating a Google document or Word document to make sure you have a bank to draw on when you sit down so that you aren’t totally starting from a blank page and wondering how something would be described or what it is that people are struggling with.
To use the therapist’ example, the kind of jargon they have and that they would use with their peers is not the same terms their clients are Googling and searching for and using. Yes, you want to use your words, but when it comes to attention getters you want to use their words so that they know you know what is going on and that they can trust you because you get it.
You can either proactively ask people, if you already have an audience and want to do a survey of some kind, you can actually call them on the phone. That is a good idea, actually talking people to find out what they want and what they can be helped with. Or, you can just listen.
If you are just starting out and you don’t have a big audience yourself, look and stalk people and Facebookers, legally. Follow people in Facebook groups and pay attention to what they are saying. If you have product-based businesses check out what people are saying on similar products on Amazon reviews.
Follow the big blogs or the big Facebook pages. There is an abundance of copy banks just waiting to be discovered for people who are working with entrepreneurs or female entrepreneurs. My buddy, Carrie Green in the Female Entrepreneur Association, has over 200,000 followers. She has a lot of comments and insight. She will ask as question in a photo image with the words, “What’s your biggest struggle right now?”
I’m like, Hello! Copy bank! It’s all over the place if you are ready to look for it.
Amy: Yes. That’s the thing, if you are ready to look for it and are really paying attention. That’s why I like little systems. I use SnagIt. I take just a little quick snapshot, put that snapshot into Dropbox and then I’ve got all of these little snapshots I can go back to again and again to remember what my audience is talking about.
As long as you have a system you will keep doing it over and over again.
Nikki: Yeah, and eventually you won’t even need to because it’s just in there. I haven’t looked at an actual copy bank in quite a while. You don’t want to get out of touch but I just know. I know that this is what they want and, again, it hasn’t even changed. Two years from now I am using some of the same copy on my work-with-me page that was in those original emails two years ago when I was just starting out.
Nikki: That’s the idea if the words just aren’t coming. The BFF test, copy bank, and then in the interview I was talking about one more to basically help you get unstuck when you don’t know what on earth to write about. There are two ways you can go. On one hand maybe you don’t have enough ideas. Someone was talking about how many blog posts she wrote.
First of all, it is okay to give yourself permission not to do a blog post.
Amy: Amen, sister!
Nikki: We don’t need to just fill the air with words and don’t need to fill the internet with fluff and “uh, I have to do it because I said I would” and you just power through. You really don’t have to.
But, if you need ideas and you know you want to add value and you know you have something to share look for inspiration that is just out in the world. My first video blog is called How Running a Business is Like Breast Feeding. I was just saying, “Hey look, people, just because something comes naturally does not mean it comes easily.”
I was talking about my struggle with consistent blogging. Just because I am an effective communicator doesn’t mean that blogging comes easily to me. The same thing, when I was a new mom. I was like, “What on earth?” This was supposed to be the most natural thing but it was freaking hard.
A lot of my audience is women and a lot of them are moms too so they totally got it and felt it was great and refreshing. Look for analogies out in the world or inspirations out in the world. When you tell stories that helps people hang onto the info and process the info better. It also showcases more of your personality and helps them get to know you better.
There are all kinds of good things about looking for inspiration out in your everyday life as opposed to just sitting at the computer and thinking you have to come up with a really great idea. That’s the fastest way to kill the creative vibe.
If you have too many ideas and are stuck because you have a spreadsheet with 200 ideas then I like to just ask people (if you have an audience or a Facebook page with just a few people or you just have a few clients) what you can write about for them this week. It can be TRL style (Total Request Live – totally dating myself to the 1990’s high school experience).
Amy: You are too young to say TRL style.
Nikki: You know, Mutual Inspiration Society is really big for me. I love knowing when I am creating something that somebody is on the other side waiting for and ready for. Honestly, what pulls me out of my resistance and procrastination is to know Sally needs a bonus for her product-based business so I had better get on it because she needed it yesterday.
If you are s tuck because you have too many ideas and just don’t know where to start, again, when all else fails, just ask the people you want to serve. There doesn’t have to be an invisible wall between you. Just connect.
Amy: I love that. That’s fantastic. These are really good writing exercises. Again, we are going to mention all of this stuff in the freebie. But now we are coming to the very end. Remember, Nikki has built an amazing business in a very short time. She takes it very seriously to the point that now she is going to be writing a book about her first year in business and what that looks like. I’m sure all of the struggles and challenges that come with it will be in there.
So, tell us, what has been your recipe for having an amazing first year of business? Obviously you are beyond your first year now. But what was your recipe for that?
Nikki: I can break it down into three steps. I have put a lot of thought into this and this is why, if people watch my free video series this will be the first thing we talk about because I call it The Simplest Way to Attract Plenty of Dream Clients Without Feeling Like a Manipulated Cheese Ball. That’s the title of the video.
That is the title of the video because you don’t have to have fancy, flashy bells and whistles. At the heart of all of it, what I know to be true, Oprah style here:
- You have to know your value. You do! You have to be clear. I wasn’t thinking that I was going to start a business and then wonder what it was going to be about. I literally felt that God was knocking me on the head, “Dude, I gave you these gifts and talents. Not everybody’s got them. I need you to help me with that.” I felt like I had to share what I knew about communicating and connecting people in a smart, authentic way. So, know your value and what it is that you have to offer. You also need to have something to offer. That’s kind of a bonus, those are points 1a) and 1b).
- Know who needs it. This is the dream client profile. You have to know who you want to work with but who is struggling with the problem that you can solve and will pay you for it. Again, this is why I was like, “Okay, I could help anybody with communicating. I can help my friends write emails to their mothers-in-law when they don’t know what to say.” But who is going to pay for it? That is a really important question you have to ask. Beyond that, the dream client and the dream customer feel is who do you want to actually spend your time working with? Is that a product-based business with customer service issues to deal with or one-on-one clients? You are the boss, you get to have fun. You are starting this business. If you’re not having fun there’s really no one else to blame. The fun buck stops with you so make sure you know who you genuinely want to work with.
- This comes as no surprise, communicate your value to the folks who need it in a smart, authentic way. By smart and authentic I mean clear and sincere. It is not enough to just be like, “This is me, this is who I am.” You need to have a purpose and you need to help people understand exactly how you can help them and why they want to work with you. That’s where the recipes come into play.
Then you get to fill in the gaps. Know your value, know who needs it, communicate your value to the folks that need it in a smart authentic way, and everything else can fall into place because you will start making connections and sales and money. Then you can invest in the professional photos.
I just had a maternity photo. Again, with all of these clients I had a cropped maternity photo. I did not have a fancy website. I can send you a link to a blog post where I have screen shots of it but it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. You have an offer to share. There are people who want and need it. Just find them and start connecting with them.
Amy: Awesome stuff. This is so good. Remember, if you take anything away from this (you should be taking a million great tips and tricks away), it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be shared. I think Nikki’s success is such a perfect example.
Now, I will say if you go to Nikki’s site (and I really want you to do so) you will be like, “What are you talking about?” The girl is super polished. Her site is amazing. You will love it.
She is saying that it didn’t always look that way. It didn’t start that way, for sure. So you have to start somewhere. You can always, always improve from there. But most people won’t get past those initial fears of it not being perfect or looking right. They compare themselves to others and, Nikki, I think you and I would both agree if we did that we would never be where we are today.
Nikki: Yes! Honor the journey. I have another great post again. It is an awkward analogy about biz puberty. But you look back at your middle school pictures and the braces. My husband and I have known each other since we were 13. I look at those pictures and think, “Oh, you loved me then.”
That’s how I feel about my first subscribers and new clients. Document it. It is part of your journey and it’s going to be amazing as you plug away and do the work and figure it out as you go. You will love the awkward website photos. Document that. Screen shot that baby.
Amy: Amen to that. I love it. Nikki, I cannot thank you enough. I have been so excited for you to come on here. I can’t even believe we have never really connected in person because I feel like I know you so well. It will happen. But, until then, thank you so very much for being here.
Nikki: Thanks, so much, for having me.
Amy: Take care. So there you have it. I absolutely love this girl. It really helps that she has the cutest accent ever. I love to listen to her and always think she has so many great tips and strategies for your copy creation.
Again, if you want to get that freebie that she talked about a lot throughout the interview all you need to do is go to http://www.amyporterfield.com/nikki and you can get the freebie for today which, again, is basically her class notes from one of her paid courses.
That makes it even more valuable because it’s totally free to you but a lot of the content you are going to get is actually coming out of her paid course. It is always awesome to get free stuff like that. She is going to give you many of the recipes for writing blog posts plus tons of other different things like your sales page, your about page, your work-with-me page, video scripts.
She is also going to give you a ton of advice on mindset and general rules that you can apply to becoming a master at copy. That is something I think is incredibly valuable for you to keep moving your business forward.
Make sure to grab that PDF. I think it is going to b e incredibly helpful for you. In the meantime don’t hesitate to go visit Nikki at www.nikkielledgebrown.com. I’ll make sure to put all of the links and details we have talked about on the show in my show notes at http://www.amyporterfield.com/74.
Finally, I want to thank our sponsor, 99Designs. You know when you market online it’s really difficult to stand out from all of that online noise clutter. How do you do it? I think you do it through impeccable branding. That includes your logo, social media cover images, website, and everything in between.
At 99Designs you can get anything designed in just a week for a start-up friendly price. To give you a little something extra, when you go to www.99designs.com/amy you will get a $99 upgrade for free. That upgrade makes your design content stand out from all of the others and bumps you to the top of the list so more designers can see your content. Make sure to check out www.99designs.com/amy.
Thanks again for being here. I truly appreciate you tuning in. I’ll see you again next week.