Copywriter and founder of The Content Bistro, Prerna Malik joins Kira and Rob for the 74th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. And we cover quite a bit of ground as we talk about…
• how she became a freelance content writer (thanks to a family illness)
• how she has grown her business despite living thousands of miles from her best clients
• why she’s only invests in training that delivers a real ROI
• the activities she spent time on to get her first several clients
• how she went from $21,000 in 2011 to $200,000+ this year
• how she thinks about the packages she offers (and how she prices them)
• how she splits duties with her business partner (and husband)
• what copywriters should be doing differently with social media
• how she schedules her week to get things done (the hacks and systems she uses)
• what she’ll be doing differently in 2018
• the advice she would offer to a “just-starting-out” copywriter, and
• where she thinks copywriting will go in the future
Note: Because Prerna lives in India, we weren’t able to use our usual recording software, so the sound has a few hiccups… we’re really sorry about that.
Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Art of Simple
Launch Grow Joy
Mass Persuasion Method
4-Hour Work Week
Fully Loaded Launch
7 Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned in Our 7th Year of Business
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Airstory, the writing platform for professional writers who want to get more done in half the time. Learn more at Airstory.co/club.
Kira: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the club for episode 74 as we talk with content specialist and copywriter Prerna Malik about creating high-performing content for clients like Amy Porterfield and Katrina Springer; what we need to know about social media copy; what she did to earn $200,000 in a single year; and what’s it like to work with your spouse every single day.
Kira: Welcome, Prerna.
Rob: Welcome, Prerna!
Prerna: Hi! Thanks so much for having me here!
Kira: It’s great to have you on the show, and a great place to start is with your story, and how did you end up running Content Bistro with your husband?
Prerna: So, I blog; like a regular “mom” blog, it’s called The Mom Writes. And I started it in November of 2008 because I was a new mom. My daughter was nine months old, and while I love being with her, I also wanted something that was creatively stimulating and, you know, I used to read a lot of blogs when—you know—between feeding her and, you know, being with her and all that. So it just kind of started to so make sense to my sleep-deprived brain to, you know, start one! That blog…it started growing, and it led to me getting noticed by small businesses who then started reaching out and saying, you know, “Would you write for us?” That then led to things like social media gigs because, at that time I was super-active on Twitter. Now, I’m not so active, but yeah. I was super-active on Twitter, and then clients starting asking, “Okay, would you manage our social media for us”, you know? Especially Twitter.
So I took a couple of courses to be sure that I knew what I was doing, and I started doing very part-time social media management and blogging for small businesses. And things were going okay, and I was you know, having a lot of fun; I was being able to stay at home with my daughter, and I had some creative work. And this was very part-time thing for me because my husband, Mayank, his full-time job was what was supporting us financially. So it was good. But then, around January of 2010, Mayank got really, really sick. He was in a lot of pain, and the doctors just couldn’t reach a clear diagnosis. We were just going from one doctor to the other. We were told we had everything from arthritis to TNJ to gout; it was really crazy, and it finally reached a stage where he was in so much pain that he couldn’t go to work.
So, there we were—laughs—no job, no real income, and you know, our savings were getting, you know, not super-fast because of his medical bills. And I couldn’t go back to full-time work. I used to be a communication skills trainer with Dell, and before that with American Express, but I couldn’t because my daughter was real young and Mayank was in no shape to look after her. So, we needed to do something and, we often now look back and say that, you know, 2010 was the worst year of our life, and also the best year, because while we did struggle a lot, we also decided to start a business! Because that was clearly the smart thing to do, I guess…laughs. But honestly we realized that, you know, we had a few clients with, you know….who…to The Mom Writes, and we could just focus on growing this and see how it went from there. I mean, what was the most that would happen?
So, March 2011 is when we came up with the name Social Media Direct. Content Bistro happened way later; Social Media Direct was what this current business was called at that time, and we started reaching out to our past clients and our current clients and telling them we were during this full-time now, and we would appreciate the referrals. On the personal front, a writer friend reached out to me and told me that, just get your husband—because I’d been blogging about it on The Mom Writes and talking about his sickness—so, she said that, you know, “Just get his PH levels tested, because I think he’s got chronic inflammation”, and that was the case. He did have chronic inflammation; he PH levels were very acidic. And that kind of what’s started our journey to healthy eating, and eating better, and we started working our diets as well. So that first year, 2011, was a lot about hustle and learning humility. Laughs. Like I said, we had no money, so we—I reached out to a friend of me and asked him to make our website pro bono because, yeah. I had no money. In that first year, all we spent was like, literally $100 or so on hosting from Bluehost. So yeah, that’s pretty much how we started; cold emailing. I sent out tons and tons of emails; I made like a database of businesses, and I reached out to them, and I still remember. On the fourth of March 2011 is when one of the persons that I’d emailed to emailed me back saying, “Okay, you know, I would like to know more about your social media management services”. And, yeah; we were in business. This was a lady who had a doll business, and it was a social media management retainer contract that we signed her on, and by March 2012, a year later when we completed our first year, we made a little over 21K, which I know is not much, but it felt like 200K for us at that time!
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Prerna: Because twelve months earlier, we had nothing. Like, nothing, you know? So it just went from there; social media management and then blogging was what I started to be noticed for, and we got the opportunity, you know, over the years to work with some amazing, amazing entrepreneurs, including Tish Oxenreider of The Art of Simple, Andrea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy, Anne Samoilov of Fearless Launching, The Mogul Mom….so many others. So….but, it walled further, and around 2015 is when I started getting a lot of requests to do copywriting for my current clients. And, I’d taken AWAI’s Six-Figure Copywriting. I didn’t really, you know, dive deep enough. But then I also took Mass Persuasion Method by Bushra Azhar, and then I had all of Johanna’s Copy Hacker ebooks. She had this big bundle sale, I don’t know….I still remember I scooped all of them up at that time. And then, I got into copywriting. And we re-branded to Content Bistro in June 2015, so, to include both copywriting and content services as well. So, if you kind of look at it, I’ve been doing copywriting for about two years now, full-time. And it amazes me how far we’ve come from 2010 of course, and even 2015 for that matter. So that’s how we started Content Bistro! Laughs. It’s a long story, but yeah!
Rob: It’s an amazing story and, before we go any farther, you know, going from 20K to over $200,000 a year, we need to mentioned you’re doing this from India. You’re not, you know, based in New York City; you’re not necessarily surrounded by the people that we would normally think of are the great clients we should be going after, so how do you do that? How do you do it from so far away?
Prerna: The first time that I went to the U.S. was last year! You know I never been to the U.S. before that. And, this was in October, November is when the first time I ever went to the U.S. for a couple of conferences. But yeah, it’s not been easy, but it’s not been as difficult or challenging as well, because I think it all comes down to three or four big things. One is, you know, just showing up. Doing the work. And just, you know, building relationships you know, being present; offering value; doing good work, and…and essentially, being willing to put in the hard yards, you know? I honestly am not a fan of the “four-hour workweek”, and I don’t see that happening for me.
It’s my Type-A personality; I do not like four-hour workweeks; I like just doing the work, so yeah. Building relationships, trusting our gut, you know—that really worked, you know! It gets easy to kind of get overwhelmed with all the noise out there, and kind of say, “Oh, you know I should be going out to this, and I should be doing this, and I should be doing that” or investing in this, and that’s a another thing, you know.
We are very careful with what we invest in. So we’ve never invested more than 20% of what we make every year into our business. We have this rule and we’re very careful about what we invest in. And then leveraging those investments and leveraging our strengths as well. I love building on my strengths, and seeing what I’m good at, and then you know, just going from there. Also, I think, one thing that really helped us was having a consistent marketing plan and calendar. It’s not something that’s very fancy or very hi-tech even, it’s like a spreadsheet, but—laughs—it does the job for us.
Kira: All right, there’s a lot in there that I want to talk about. You mentioned that you are very careful about what you invest in, and I also read on your website that you ensure that you implement every single course that you buy, which is impressive, probably to most people listening because I’m guilty of buying courses that I just…I never even touch.
Kira: Crazy, right?
Rob: Come on.
Kira: So, how do you do that? (Laughs)….Maybe it’s just a mindset.
Prerna: Yeah; like I said, financial stewardship is one of our core values. We’re very careful about what we invest our money into; everything that we invest in has to have an ROI for us. And I know—and I think 100K, 120K probably, and I was like, yeah, I need all the courses because that’s what’s going to get me…you know!
Prerna: To the next step! (Laughs). But then… So we kind of revisit our values very often we talked about. It’s reflection, really. It sounds very cliché maybe, but yeah, it really helps for us to see: is this, you know, really who we are? And also knowing that whatever we invest in has to have an ROI for us. So, we only buy what we need in that point of time in our business. Then, once we invested in it, we make sure that we’ve set time aside to work on the course. And, this kind of ties in with the buying decision, so say, there’s an—I just have someone ask me—and I’m not going to say who, but he’s again, like huge in the industry—and he was like, “I’m surprised you never bought any of our courses.” (Laughs). And I was like…
Prerna: “It’s timing, you know.” So he’s like, “Why?” And I was like, you know, “Each time you open a course, I’ve already been working on one, and I know I don’t have the time to devote to your course, so it just doesn’t make sense for me to sign up then.” And he’s like, “That’s very interesting.” So I was like, “I’m sorry if it sounds silly!” He was like, “No, it doesn’t sound silly; it’s just that it’s very new to me.” And that’s pretty much how I decide whether or not I need a course. Also, once you’ve set time aside, we make sure that we actually show up and do the work. And, so we use Team Days. I worked with Team Days for my weekly plan. I have a day that’s Thursday that’s dedicated to learning. So, that day I’m just doing my coursework, and you know, working on that. That’s what really helps, so it’s really no, like it or not, very fancy system that I have, it’s just that making sure I have the time to work on the course and then signing up for it, and putting blinders on for the rest of the time—laughs—which isn’t easy! But…
Kira: That’s hard.
Prerna: Yeah…. I need to do it.
Rob: I think it’s super-impressive that you make sure that you’re applying the things that you’re learning, and obviously something I need to do more of. I want to talk a little bit more about the hustle that you really went through in the first year or two of your business, you know, when you’re struggling that first year. I know you mentioned, that, you know, you reached out to a few people, but what were some of the other activities that you were doing in order to bring in new clients to make sure that you had money coming in, and to put yourself on the pathway so you could actually grow to six figures and larger?
Prerna: First thing that I did was a lot of cold emailing. I would make databases of businesses and write their contact details and the name of the person who took—-I would send them emails saying that, you know, “I noticed that you haven’t updated your blog,” or maybe, “Your Facebook page is not getting the engagement it deserves, and here’s how I can help you, and here are the clients I’ve worked with in the past,” or “I’m currently working with… So, would you like to get onto a quick call and chat about this?” That was the thing that worked really well for us.
The other thing that worked really well was our own content and social media strategy. So, ensuring that we blog regularly, ensuring that we, you know, am active on social, and sharing things and doing promotions, and you know, all of those things that worked really well as well. It’s something that I still do; our own content strategy is key to us for growing a business. And then, guest posting; oh my gosh! I must have done don’t know how many guest posts; I think like, at least one 150 guest posts or more. And, yeah! So those were the three main strategies that we used and worked really hard on. And they worked really well for us, yeah.
Kira: So I want to ask you about your biggest year yet. (Laughs). Like, I can’t wait to ask you about the 200K that you made this past year and, we know you said you made it with ease and grace…
Kira: You’ve come a long way since the 21K that you made in 2011. How did you achieve it as far as like, what did you sell? What was the combination that made it successful? And then, even beyond that, like what was the mindset behind the business in order to achieve 200K?
Prerna: So we had our first 100K year in 2014, and this is when we had like a lot of social media and blogging content clients, but we were working a lot of hours in 2014, you know? We—between the two of us, Mayank and me, we were working 80 to 90 hours and…yeah, so that was a lot, you know? 40, 45 hours a week, both of us. It was a lot. And, we didn’t have like a lot of work, but we knew that we don’t want to do this. While we don’t want a four-hour workweek, we also don’t want to continue doing this.
In 2016, we exceeding this goal; we touched 150K, and it was mainly because of copywriting clients and copywriting projects. In 2016, we worked like 16 hours or so between the two of us, and we increased our income by 50% so it was mainly, you know putting—we did a lot, we still do, a lot of product-type services. In fact, that’s what I thrive on, and that’s what I love doing, is product-type services and copywriting packages, instead of just stand-alone things. So that worked really well for us, and so, 2017, like 70% of our business is copywriting and content only. And, since our clients—the ones that we were working with—were getting excellent results, we decided to kind of focus solely on that in 2017, and did a whole lot of product-type services.
We launched Fully Loaded Launch, which did really well. We did a lot of collaborations, you know, meeting guest experts and different courses, etc. And everything was centered around copywriting, and it was so easy because it just felt as if everything was just flowing and you know, people were just buying things and just signing up and… (laughs)…. it was, yeah. It was so fun. And like, we love traveling, so for us, if we are able to take like four vacations in the year, or more, yeah. That’s like a great year. And, that’s what we did, you know. We’ve been doing this now for like the past three years? We’ve taken like, between four vacations and two to three stay-cations, so we know that we’re, like, on the right track. It’s like this great work-life balancing that we’ve kind of now, you know, achieved; it feels really good. And, so yeah, that’s how we reached the 200K, (laughs), beginning 2017.
Rob: Let’s dive into your package services, and what some of those look like. You know, as you sat out to figure out, “Okay, this is what I’m going to package up; this is what we’re going to offer our clients,” walk us through that process, and how you decided what to include, how you decided to price your packages, and the results, the response that clients have given you since then.
Prerna: Building relationships is really important to me, and that’s for our clients as well, so I kind of try and see, you know, what is it that they hire me for? But, what is it that they also need? You know. And, using those insights, and also like, you know, kind of listening to online conversations in Facebook groups and things like that, you know, you kind of hear what people say when they’re launching or when they’re, you know, working on their website copy, etc. etc. So you kind of then have those insights, and using that, you know, it’s easy for me to kind of come up with, like say, a product, a service idea that will help them meet their goals, you know. It makes great sense for me because I’m working on one client project then, and it’s financially viable for them as well because they don’t need to hire multiple contractors or, you know, do things in bits and pieces. They get everything they want.
Our most successful product-type package to date has been the Fully Loaded Launch, which I arrived at after doing a bunch of, you know sales copy email sequences for people and realizing that they would also need, you know, their opt-in done for them, or they would need, you know, a blog content. So Fully Loaded Launch gives them like, pretty much everything: gives them their opt-in, their sales copy, like a seven-email sequence—and they can add additional emails depending on what’s their launch model—and then that gives them, you know, blog posts and social media content as well, and then they’ve got certain add-ons if they want like Facebook ad copy, etc. etc. So, that’s like our most popular because yeah, clients love that. You know, they’re like, “Gosh, this is like, you know, I just…I wouldn’t have to work with anyone else except my designer!” And if they’re using InfusionSoft, my InfusionSoft person.
But you know, this takes care of everything. So…so that’s very successful. The other one that we offer is for websites, which is—which gives you your home page, your about page, your opt-in page, and calls-to-action for your opt-in, and a bio. So that works really well as well. And even just something like blog posts; I package them up. You don’t just hire me for one blog post; you hire me for a package of four—which would include, say, you know, you’re blog posts; it would include photos; it would include your SEO metadata, because this is all the stuff that I’ve been doing, so I’m just building on my strengths. And this is what I tell everybody: leverage your strengths. See what it is that you’re really, really good at, then—for lack of a better word—amplify that. Leverage that. Build on that. There are so many ways to do things, and trust your gut. So, that’s how I create my product-type services.
Kira: I want to hear more, and get into the weeds. So, with your launch package, do you mind sharing how much you charge and how long it actually takes you, and if you have a team helping you, or if you’re working on it and you’re dedicated to it for a month, what does that actually look like?
Prerna: The Fully Loaded Launch package…it starts at around $10,000, and that includes your opt-in page, your sales page, your thank you page, your seven-email sequence, it includes three authority-building blog posts, it includes twenty custom social media updates to share your offer; and then if you want then you can add on more emails, etc. etc., but like a package like this, it’s tailored for people who are launching like e-courses or like a high-end coaching offer, and I don’t have a team, but I do all the writing myself. I have an editor, who does all my editing. I don’t do any of my editing on my own; I sent it to her. And, for something that’s just this, it would take me about…about four weeks, start to finish. And, if it’s someone who’s got like more emails, more add-ons like, you know if they want additional blog posts or additional Facebook ad copy, or ….or they need me to kind of map out their funnel for them, then obviously the time goes up as well.
Rob: And how do you price your packages?
Prerna: Like I said, you know, again. Being good financial stewards is very important to us, and we want our packages to be as value-based as they can possibly be without us undervaluing ourselves. So, I know that doesn’t really give you like a very tactical answer, but we have like this minimum baseline rate, and Mayank is the one who does our pricing, because that’s his core area and his expertise. So he works out all the financial logistics and all of that, but… So we have this minimum baseline hour rate in our head. We don’t want to make anything less than that. And, we just go from there. I know how long it takes me on research, to write; so I give him all that information, and then he comes up with a package price. Of course we do the usual seeing what others are charging; making sure it’s not too high, not too low; its competitive; it takes into account the experience and the expertise that we have; and also that it’s aligned with who we are as a brand, essentially.
Kira: I want to hear more about working with your husband. And, what that looks like. It sounds like you both have identified your strength, and you focus on that. But, what are you responsible for? Clearly, writing… what else? What is your husband doing as well?
Prerna: That’s like a really good question, and I get this so often because everyone’s like, “Oh my gosh, you work with your husband? You know, I would’ve killed him, or we would’ve you know divorced a long time ago!” So, laughs, yeah…no, you’re absolutely right. Knowing each other’s strength is super-important. So, that’s what we do. We divided our tasks accordingly, and we go from there. One thing I must mention that I place a lot of value on is personality tests. Laughs. It was, you know, the Myers-Briggs test. We took that I think some years ago, and it was like…I can feel a light bulb had gone on. I had better understanding of him, and… he knew why I do certain things, because I’m an INTJ, and he’s ISFJ, and….for those, you know, who are familiar with Myers-Briggs, would know that it makes a lot of difference to know what your partners are, and what you are because it, you know, it really helps you to understand each other better, which is super important when you’re working together and not just living together! So, that. Also, having very clearly defined responsibilities for both the house and the business, because we’re in both together. So, for instance, in our house, I don’t do laundry, you know? He’s in charge of laundry, and he has a system for it; I don’t even mess with it. I’m just glad that I have clean clothes.
Prerna: And making the beds is my domain. It’s my thing. I’m obsessed with making the beds every day. I want them done a certain way. I’m anal about it! So yeah. That’s what I do and he’s just fine with it. So that’s kind of the thing for the house. So dividing that—those responsibilities—is important. And another very important thing is trusting each other completely, and keeping each other motivated and focused. So I have my days when I’m like, I’m not good enough. And everybody else is doing great things, and you know, so and so has gotten this client, and so and so has launched this course, and here I am, sitting here, and I have things and I’m like, tears and I have these major breakdowns. He’s there and he comforts me. It makes a huge difference. And the same goes for him! He has his days when he’s like, this is just too boring and you’re just at home and not doing anything and all of that, so it really helps to kind of keep each other motivated and focused and it helps to trust each other and know that both of you have the best interest for not just each other, but also your business at heart. So that really helps.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, it’s difficult enough to choose a partner to be married with, but if you chose the wrong person to be married and a business partner with, I can see that that would be tough.
Prerna: Yeah! (Laughs)
Rob: So I want to shift focus just a little bit and talk a little bit about social media, Prerna. You did so much social media for your clients, and I’m curious what we as copywriters ought to be doing in social media. Either, just to get our brands out there or to attract clients or even if it’s just to have fun. What should we be doing in social media?
Prerna: So, most importantly, showing up. I see a lot of copywriters not showing up on social. And not sharing their gifts, sharing their talents, sharing their expertise. So, that’s really important. But I can also see how it can get seriously overwhelming, because you’re not just working on your content, you’re also working on client projects, so it’s very difficult to juggle these different balls in the air and not drop them. So what’s really worked for us is having a content calendar so you know what you’re focusing on every month.
You have a theme of the month, say like, this month for us, it’s just homepage copywriting and the business of copywriting, so I would be talking about the different aspects of the home page and my group on my page and mixing it up with general content, I’ll be sharing a blog post on writing a home page, my Facebook live sessions would have to do with either that or hiring your first copywriter, because those are the two central themes for this month. So having the content calendar and again, really, don’t overthink it, don’t make it fancy, just get it done is what I’ve always, always focused on.
And from a social media standpoint, if you’ve got the gift of video, I would say definitely do a lot of videos, like Facebook lives, because those do really, really well. I, personally, haven’t done them regularly, but it’s something that we’re working on this year in 2018. So I will be doing Facebook lives every Saturday, and I want to analyze and see how that works out for us. But again, regardless of what you decide to use, whether you go on Twitter, whether you go on Facebook, whether you go on Instagram, wherever you go, consistently showing up is key, and offer great value, and be yourself. Super important. Again, sounds cliché, but I cannot emphasize the importance of doing this because it really helps me to connect with you. Like, “Oh, you like Harry Potter?! I love Harry Potter too! We should chat about this course that I’m working on!” I am not kidding you—those are conversations I have had. “Oh, you love essential oils? I love essential oils too! I think we could work really well together!” I have no idea how clients make those decisions, but those are real conversations I’ve had with people who have seen a random Facebook post I may have done talking about something that I’m super passionate about and again, that just helps them connect.
Kira: Can you talk about your e-book? I know you wrote an e-book called How to Be a working mom…
Kira: …and I’m really interested in this as far as like, even today, your daughter’s older now, I’m not sure of the exact age, but how are you scheduling your week as far as how you lay out your days? You mentioned already that you have Thursday Learning Day, but what type of productivity hacks or systems do you use, especially when you have kids and you’re managing a lot?
Prerna: So I wrote this book like I think the second year that I had a blog—second or third year. This was my first product. I’ve since updated it a lot of times. I took kind of time with my state of life and things that I’ve since learned or decided don’t work anymore, but… yeah! So, some of the systems that have stayed consistent with us—and even with our daughter—she was 9 months when I started—she’s 9 years. She’ll be 10 in March, in fact. So yeah, it’s been a long time. (laughs)
The three systems that I’ve always, always used regardless of how old she is, has been menu planning, so I know what we’re eating that day. I hate having to think at lunch time that I need to do something so it just saves my brain space—it just helps me save all that time and energy. So menu planning is one. Planning my day; I’m type A and I’m such an obsessive planner so I plan my day. Earlier, I didn’t have themed days—I used to have blocks of time, but I realized I work better when I’m not jumping from one project to another, so that’s why we switched to themed days, sometime early last year, and that really helped our productivity. So, that… and the third thing is planning your chores. The central theme is to plan. So yeah, those three things, whether I do anything else or not, if I do those three things, I’m good. I know I’ll get things done in the week and I’m prepared.
Besides that, automating a lot. Like, bill payments and like I said, splitting the chores between your partner and you. It works really, really well. Like, mine does grocery shopping—that’s his department. So I don’t have to care about that. Once he gets those, I do the menu planning. Or we do it together. Delegating in the house works just as wonderfully as it does for your business, so if you can, and when you can afford it, hire help for the house. We have a cook and a cleaning lady. It is the best thing ever. Ever! So those work really well. Also just take a good look at the things that you’re doing on a weekly basis and see if there are certain things that you just don’t have to do.
One of the things for me, an example was, I used to reply to emails all the time, you know? Like, as soon as an email came in I felt that need to reply to them and now I just reply to emails twice in the day and only the ones that my VA has forwarded to me, but twice a day. That’s it. So if you find certain things are being too much of a time-suck, you know, just kind of step away from them for a while and see if it impacts your life in any other way. So, yeah. Those are some of the things that have worked really well for us.
Rob: Prerna, I’m curious about where your business goes from here. You’ve hit this great marker of $200k a year in a really comfortable way that feels good for you. What does the future look like? What are you going to be doing in 2018? What are you going to be doing differently to grow more or do things differently?
Prerna: So, 85% of our revenue in the last two years has been from our services, you know? Which is great, but out of that, like 70% of that is copywriting and the rest, 15% is content creation and we also do marketing and strategy planning for our clients. So the last 24 months or so, we’ve just been focused on growing our service-based business and getting noticed, and getting great results for our clients so that we’re able to build up this portfolio. But, we haven’t been able to devote as much time to our products and to being good affiliates, to affiliate promotions, and to sharing products that we really, truly believe in. So, 2018, we’ve got these three revenue streams identified: the services, our products, and affiliates. And we want all three to grow. So our goal for 2018 is to make $250k to $300k minimum, leveraging these three things.
Kira: Prerna, I read an article you wrote, “The 7 Entrepreneur Lessons I Learned in 2017” and you included some great lessons in that. Do you have any favorites from that list or anything that resonated with your audience the most that you can share with us?
Prerna: 2017 was a good year and we did revisit a few lessons. But my favorites, and the ones that we’ve already kind of started focusing on, is: a) processes. We need better processes. And that’s, again, tied into our desire to grow three revenue streams together and we need to have solid systems in place and that’s one of the reasons why I signed up for 10x Freelance Copywriter when Joanna Wiebe opened it and when you guys shared it. And I knew that this is it! It’s made a huge difference in our revenue so I knew that she was the one I wanted to learn from. And the other lesson we’ll be focusing on straight off the bat is focusing on our health. We’ve seen what happens when you don’t focus on your health, you know? Sleep and eating right. I am not kidding when I say it is the worst thing ever. So these two things are my favorite: better processes and you know, focusing on our health and well being so we really want to do better with both of these, personally.
Kira: And I just want to dig into that a little more. I know that you used to wake up around 430am, and I’m done that—I did that for a couple of years. And recently, I feel like I just can’t do it anymore, physically, mentally; so can you just speak to that? What happened? What was the impact of waking up early? Is it really worth it?
Prerna: Yeah, it is. You know, I’m in introvert. So I enjoy the quiet time and I enjoy the distraction-free uninterrupted time I get, because even though my daughter is older now, I need to wake her up around 630, so you know, to get her ready for school, then go drop her, and then do our stuff. So waking up early has been really, really good for me. And when I wake up early, I am in a better mindset for the rest of the day. So, there are days when I don’t sit down and do any writing. You know? I would just probably do the reading, do my research maybe, or catch up on a course if it’s Thursday, so—but, I just feel more in control of my day. Which, then, kind of puts me in the right mindset for the rest of the day, yeah.
Rob: Prerna, as I’ve listened to all of the advice and the experience you’ve shared, I wonder if there’s anything specific that you would say to a copywriter who’s just starting out; somebody who’s maybe in India, maybe they’re here in the states, maybe somewhere in Europe, but they don’t have any resources, they maybe don’t know where to start, they have an idea that they maybe want to become a copywriter, but you know, they’re not sure how. What advice would you give to them?
Prerna: Couple of things. 1) Don’t overthink things; just start. Don’t obsess over the perfect website. I had the worst website ever when we started and I still don’t think it’s perfect by any means, but don’t overthink it. Just start getting out there, start offering your services, be prepared to work hard. Be prepared to work for less money you may expect or you may think. I haven’t done pro bono work ever, so I can’t say if that works or something like that, but I would say just price yourself relevant to your experience and expertise.
So one of the things that makes me really sad is when I see a lot of new copywriters come in and say, “I’m starting out and I want to make $100k.” The 6 figure income thing is so huge. Laughs. You cannot expect to accomplish the goal without putting in the hustle or without getting the street-cred, so to speak, that’s needed. You need to work hard, you need to keep learning and keep growing and be intentional about your learning as well. Do not fall victim to shiny object syndrome. Be very clear about what you need to learn and why you need to learn it; how is it going to help your business? And then most importantly, show up, and do really good work. Do really good work. Be prepared to go the extra mile. You don’t have to become a doormat for your clients; I have never done that. You need to have strong boundaries. But prepare to give your best. Stick to deadlines! You know? These are basics. Just stick to deadlines. As hype-y as this may sound, if I can do it, really, you can! So these are things that I would say just keep in mind and then go out there and put yourself out there.
Kira: Based on what you’ve learned and seen over the last decade you’ve been in business and in content and copy, what do you predict that the future of copywriting looks like over the next few years?
Prerna: I would say a lot more collaboration between copywriters. I see that happening a lot already, you know? Copywriters working together on projects and I think that’s something we should be doing a lot more of. And as much as everyone likes talking about AI and how the robots are going to take over writing copy for us, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I think collaboration is going to be key for the copywriting industry. It’s a great way for us to—I like to think of it as “ridding the world of bad copy”—so combine forces. Because if you’re working alone, and you’re working on a website homepage, working together can give so much goodness to a client. I love collaborating. That’s something I’ve done a lot of over the years so it’s something I’m really excited about. I want to do more of this and 2018 as well, and I’m still exploring different ways and ideas, but that’s something I see happening a lot in copywriting. And also, I feel starting to get away from the hype. I can see a lot of clients coming to me and saying, “I don’t want to use these terms” or “I don’t want this to sound too modern-day marketing kind”—stepping away from the hype a little bit as well.
Kira: We want to thank you; I know we’re at the end of our hour, so we want to thank you for sharing your story with us—your powerful story of how you got into your business—and giving us a look behind your business at all of your success. So thank you for your time!
Rob: Yes, thanks a lot!
Prerna: Thanks so much guys, this was really fun!
Rob: If people want to find out more about you online, Prerna, where should they go?
Prerna: My website is the best place, Content Bistro. That’s contentbistro.com. And on Facebook, I have a Facebook group for entrepreneurs who are also parents and running a business, so you could look for the Biz Bistro on Facebook—it’s our Facebook group and we’d love to have you there.
Rob: Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing so much information with us.
Prerna: You are most welcome! Thank you so much for having me. This was awesome!
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