18 Aug August 18, 2020 – Home Care Education Christine Blackledge and Video Course Creation and Copywriting Nicki Krawczyk
Christine Blackledge – Managing Director at Matriarch Training & Consultancy Services
If I can work hard for someone else,
why can’t I do it for myself?
Christine Blackledge is an author, has 27 years of experience in the recruitment business, running her own business, and being at a managerial level for large organizations. Christine has contracted with companies such as Nottingham County Council, West Sussex County Council, Manpower, NHS, and various recruitment and care companies across the North and South of England. She is currently in the USA, Cyprus, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom, helping clients set up and run their own home care companies worldwide. As a mother of four, a law student and a business woman specializing in the care recruitment sector and Healthcare Business setup, Matriarch Training & Consultancy Services Managing Director Christine is known and admired internationally as somewhat of a ‘mumpreneur’. Christine is also known as a transformational trainer; specializing in training people in how to set up their own nursing agencies, care home and thus going on to ‘transform’ their working lives. Christine’s book, TRANSFORMATION Your very own Business Guarantee!, provides one-to-one training showing the exact steps needed to take to make startup business a success.
Nicki Krawczyk – Founder of Filthy Rich Writer and Copy for Solopreneurs – Read interview highlights here
If one person buys it, five will buy it. If five buy it, fifty will
buy it. If fifty will buy it, a thousand will!
Nicki Krawczyk is a copywriter with 15+ years of experience, writing for and with clients including several TripAdvisor companies, Hasbro, TJMaxx, Marshalls, Hasbro, Keurig, Adidas, and Harlequin Romance novels. Through her program at Filthy Rich Writer and Comprehensive Copywriting Academy, she teaches people to become professional copywriters, navigate the industry, and create the career of their dreams. Nicki doesn’t just give the basics, she goes in depth into everything needed to get comfortable with copywriting, and then explains a few more things on top of that. For her, being Filthy Rich means having a job you love, being good at what you do, and making great money doing it. Nicki believes that creative should be taken seriously, but the process of developing it needs some levity.
Highlights from Nicki’s Interview
To me, being filthy rich means having a job you love, being good at what you do, and making great money doing it. The cool thing about copywriting is that, unlike unfortunately, so many other kinds of writing: blog writing, journalism, novel writing, copywriting is really an industry in which writers can be paid very well for their skills. I think one of the reasons whether you like it or not, is that because copywriting can be directly linked for a company to their actual revenue results. If you get your messaging right, it’s a lot easier to make sales. So a lot of sales can be directly attributed right back to copy, which is one of the reasons why companies are so interested in investing in copywriters and bringing copywriters on staff and working with them as freelancers.
I would say that the pieces of copy that you are familiar with from well-known companies are really only a tiny little snippet of the kinds of copy that’s out in the world. A copy is literally all of the words that a company puts out except for blog posts and articles. So it’s their website, it’s their sales page, it’s their emails, it’s direct mail, it’s billboards, it’s banner ads. Social media is not a part of copywriting because, strictly speaking, copywriting is a little bit different from content writing; copywriting is a copy that’s designed to sell or to persuade. Content writing, on the other hand, your blog posts, most of your social media posts, are designed to educate, inspire, or to entertain. So copywriters will sometimes help out their clients with content pieces, but your average content writer doesn’t quite have the same skillset to write copy. Sometimes there can be a really long copy, but it really depends on what the purpose is. So our most important takeaway so far is copy is to sell, while content is to inform.
So in copywriting, the first thing is you have to make sure that you’re focusing on the right thing that’s going to interest your audience. Yes, things like distinctive features will interest people, but what you really want to focus on first is the actual benefit to consumers; what they’re going to experience by purchasing, the transformation, large or small of whatever it is. Second, to that, you need to make sure that you’re using language that’s going to actually connect with the consumer. Anybody can list off a bunch of traits, but making that product really connect with what this person wants to experience in their lives, that’s what makes for a really compelling sales copy.
For example, if you’re writing a copy for a camera, the benefit of that can be awesome pictures of your kids’ smile at Christmas. But it really depends on who your target audience is. If you’re marketing it to parents, how compelling is that, especially for parents who have taken pictures and looked at them later and gone, “Oh, these turned out terribly!” What a transformation to say, “Look, every photo that you capture is going to be as good as it possibly can be, and you’re never going to miss your child’s smile again.” That makes a big difference for that audience. For a different target audience may be, the adventure traveler, that message about capturing their children’s smile is not going to be as compelling, but maybe capturing a once in a lifetime moment will be. For someone who is in a different demographic and a different target audience, they’re going to have a different desired outcome or benefit. So you really want to keep who your target audience is in mind and make sure you’re always putting yourself in their shoes and writing to their needs and wants.
One of the most asked questions is, can you learn copywriting, or are you born with it? Well, I will say I was not born with it, and nobody is; nobody’s born knowing how to write copy. But one of the reasons that I created my course is that really I’m not aware of anywhere you can go to major in copywriting, which is insane. But at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for me and my company and my students. So what I put together was a course that combines everything in my 15+ years of experience, to teach people the fundamentals of writing copy, and then also the more advanced techniques: how to build your portfolio, build experience, and then how to get clients.
Now, I want to go through the websites and make sure you understand what each website is for. If you want to hire me to write copy for you, you can take a look at NickiCopy.com. But NickiCopy.com is where most of my bigger corporate companies will go and take a look at my work, CopyForSolopreneurs.com is where my solopreneur clients go. Then, FilthyRichWriter.com is for people who want to become professional copywriters. Then as part of that, our Comprehensive Copywriting Academy training takes them from not really knowing much about copywriting at all to having successful copywriting careers of their own.
To expand on that, one of the things that I think gets a lot of people tripped up is, how do they get clients before they have experience and how do they get experience before they have clients? So it really comes down to how to get that experience without necessarily getting paid clients, and how to build that portfolio before you have paid clients so that you can land paid clients?
So one of the things that we teach people to do is to create spec ads, which is, essentially you put all of your best skills and you work with a designer and you create an ad for a company as if that company had hired you. On your portfolio, you very clearly label it spec so you’re not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Those spec pieces don’t even just matter to those companies, they matter to every company too because they demonstrate your skill. So you put it on your portfolio and you create an ad as if you had been hired by that company, and you create three or four of them so you have a nice well-rounded portfolio. That demonstrates your skills very clearly saying that you’re not trying to say that you’ve been hired by these companies when you haven’t, but it demonstrates your skills and also how good you are at collaborating with the designer before you actually get those paid clients. So people who are going to hire you, come take a look at your website and go “Oh, yeah, this is great work. I’m interested in working with this person.”
You can even put a spec before-and-after ad, but you have to be a little careful. Because especially with smaller businesses, you’re often pitching to people who actually wrote that copy originally. So it can be a little bit tricky to say, your old copy was really crummy here, look at the great stuff I put together. So you have to be a little careful as you pitch that. But there are opportunities to do that before-and-after, or even just, here’s a suggestion.
A/B Testing is a huge tool for copywriters, even just to be able to provide to clients and say, “Look, here are a couple of different versions of headlines. I would recommend that you test.” Same thing with subject lines and all that kind of thing, because as you know, you can’t know what your audience is going to love. You can put your best foot forward, but testing can really nail it and make sure that you’ve got the exact right message.
Creativity is obviously very important in copywriting, so I take very good care of my creativity. Number one, because it’s not negotiable. As a copywriter, you have to hit a deadline, it’s not a question. If you have to stay up overnight, if you have to cancel a plan, you have to hit a deadline. But for me, I make sure that I do all of my creative work at my best time of my day, which tends to be the first thing in the morning. But if I lose it, I just get up and walk away; go for a walk, do something different. It’s interesting, the times that you are not focused on it is when your brain is going to pop up with all kinds of amazing ideas: while mowing the lawn, cooking, all that kind of stuff. Actually, I forget who it was, it was some genius, Einstein or Edison. But they would say to themselves before they went to sleep, whether at night or for a nap, I want to figure out the answer to this. Then they’d go to sleep and let their brain do the work while they were sleeping, and oftentimes, they would wake up with the answer. It’s that same kind of thing when you’re mowing the lawn when your brain is not immediately focused on it, there’s the other part that is that’s working it out.
Now, let me give you one more way that you can learn to become filthy rich writers. A lot of freelancing gurus and people will tell you, you’ve probably heard this, the riches are in the niches. For a brand new copywriter, they should not be choosing a niche; it is a very, very bad choice. When you’re brand new to something, you don’t know what area you’re going to like best, what industry you’re going to like best, whether that industry has enough work for you, whether that industry works with freelancers. Instead, they should be working to get as much depth and breadth of experience as they possibly can. Also, when you choose a niche, your website becomes focused on just that. Now if someone from another industry comes over and maybe wants to hire you, when they look at all your samples, they go, “Nahh, that’s not what she does, I’m going to find somebody else.” So when you’re brand new, you want to develop your experience and make yourself as well-rounded of a skilled writer as possible; choose a niche later on.
To switch topics here, I would like to talk about my life as an entrepreneur now, not as a copywriter. So I was on-staff as a copywriter in 2011 I want to say, and this company had just acquired a new brand and they needed a copywriting team. So they basically came to me and said, we need you to build up a team of copywriters and we need it fast. So I poached some writers from their editorial team, I brought on some very junior copywriters, and what I ended up having to do was to teach them. Every day we would have a session, we would go through principles, they’d bring in examples, we’d talk it all through, and I basically ended up teaching them how to become copywriters over the course of a couple of weeks, because I needed a team of copywriters. After that finished, I thought, I wish I had something like that when I was getting started. Way back when I was in high school, my dad who was a marketing director at the time would bring back extra work for me to do. So I got some tips and I learned about copywriting that way. But flash forward to then, I thought there are a lot of people who would really benefit from a copywriting career, but there aren’t a lot of great resources for first of all, how to learn copywriting, and second of all, how to turn it into a career. So 2011 and 2012, I started putting it all together, and I think I launched the first iteration of the course in 2012 or 2013.
The first iteration probably had six or seven modules, and then probably two or three videos within each, and action sheets. Obviously, some of that has carried forward into the current version, you still have videos and action sheets and all that kind of thing. But it was videos and it was self-paced. It hosted on my WordPress site, I’m so glad we’ve upgraded since then. Because I knew what I wanted to teach, I started by creating the course, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others. I knew it was a proven idea, I knew that people would want to be copywriters and I knew what they needed to learn. But I think sometimes when people are starting courses, they have a little bit more of an amorphous idea about what it is they want to sell.
Sometimes talking to your target audience and figuring out exactly what they need first can be beneficial. Because I’ve seen a lot of people start courses or start creating courses and kind of go off down this path, and then discover that people don’t actually want to buy what they created in their course. To clarify on that, if you just ask people what they want, you’re going to get all kinds of crazy answers. But if I said, “I want to teach a course about copywriting, what do you want to learn”, if I didn’t know what they wanted to learn, for example, that might have been helpful. But I think, like some people do, building a group and then saying, “Hey, what do you want to learn, and what are you willing to pay for too”, because who knows what people are actually willing to pay for, is a risky proposition.
For the first iteration, I would say I definitely put in less than a grand. It’s always been about bootstrapping for me, for figuring out how I can do it well. Because the content has always been top-notch, but I’ve upgraded some elements of it as the years have gone off. It’s been seven or eight years, so I would say I’m probably on the seventh or eighth iteration of it. It was my first course, my first real non-freelance business. So when I got one client, I was like, “Yes, this proves that there’s somebody out there that wants that.” So it’s what they say, if one person buys it, five people will buy it. If five people buy it, 50 people buy it. If 50 people buy it, a thousand people will buy it. So then it’s just about marketing and good copywriting, it all comes full circle. The first year was not big. It’s funny, I knew how to write my marketing copy, but I had no idea how to disseminate it into the world. So I think the first year, I probably got maybe 50 purchases.
If you want to hire me, because I split my time between copywriting and teaching, my schedule is a little limited, but check out NickyCopy.com. If you’re interested in becoming a professional copywriter, check out FilthyRichWriter.com on Facebook, on Instagram, on the web. Then, if you’re interested and especially piqued, go to www.FreeCopywritingTraining.com. If you’re interested in copywriting, we put a video that I think is going to give you a lot of insight into the industry and give you a lot to work with.