Copywriter Brit McGinnis steps out of the club’s Facebook group to join Rob and Kira for the 75th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. (Don’t look now but we’re three quarters of the way to 100.) We cover a lot of ground in this wide ranging interview, including:
• how Brit went from journalism to virtual assistant to social media and copywriter
• what her business looks like today (typical clients, typical projects)
• why you might want to work as a virtual assistant
• what you need to know BEFORE you start working with a virtual assistant
• her thoughts on starting and growing a great online community
• how to get the most out of our Facebook group
• the rules of Facebook etiquette that she wishes everyone knew
• what copywriters should do to step up their social media game
• why we should be thinking about Pinterest more than we probably do
• what’s going on with Facebook ads (the ad glut)
• how her business has changed since joining The Copywriter Accelerator
• what copywriters who are struggling with boundaries could be doing differently
• why she stepped into her role as “the horror copywriter”
• her advice to copywriters who are thinking about their personal brands
• what we need to know about the cannabis market
We also asked Brit about the mistakes she’s seen copywriters make in their careers—stuff you definitely don’t want to be doing. We say this a lot, but it’s yet another good one. Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Accelerator
League of Legends
The ABCs of Cannibis
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.
Rob: 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 Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for episode 75 as we chat with copywriter Brit McGuiness about leaving journalism and embracing the strange; what she does for her social media clients; how to not suck at Pinterest; and why she owns two Texas Chainsaw Massacre t-shirts!
Kira: Welcome Brit!
Rob: Hey Brit!
Brit: Hello; good morning. Welcome.
Kira: Great to have you here as one of our team members, and the “face” in the Facebook community: the community manager! So we’re really excited, about to learn more about your strange life and Texas Chainsaw Massacre t-shirts! To start, Brit, can you just share your story? How did you end up creating Black Bow Communications?
Brit: Absolutely, and first let me say I’m sorry for saying ‘welcome’ just now; I’m very excited to be here, so that just stumbled out!
Kira: (Laughs). It’s okay!
Rob: We’re so glad to be here on your podcast too, Brit.
Rob: That’s kind of awesome.
Brit: (Laughs.) Well, I love working with podcasts and it’s always fun to see and hear the millions of different intros. In fact—segue—I ended up listening to podcasts all throughout college, and I actually started wanting to work in public radio. So, I took up a great internship there in my college, all the while working in journalism, and just wanting to learn and absorb everything I could about different kinds of media. The first copywriting-based thing I really took on was when I lived in Ireland for a little while in junior year of college. I worked with a media company that managed the content and social media for the Irish government, of all places. And I had this underlying conflict of, “Wow, I love creating content; I love being a journalist, but, I was also the person who would stay up late and play with HootSuite in my dorm room, so, it was always a question of how do I reconcile all of these different interests.
And, I really only thought of copywriting as something I could do honestly when I started watching Mad Men in senior year of college. That was about peak Mad Men. And I watched that, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s kind of the perfect marriage of art and content and crunching numbers”, and all that, but I still didn’t work in advertising up until about three years ago. I’d spend a lot of time floating as a virtual assistant, and just again, basically trying to learn, trying to find what I wanted to do, all the while just trying to learn different disciplines because I wanted to give things a chance. I wanted to learn all these different things. So once I made the leap to copywriting, which was right around the time I joined The Copywriting Accelerator, oddly enough, I was ready and I had all these different cross-discipline skills. So it’s great, and I’m really happy to be a copywriter now, but I’ve had a very, very windy path.
Rob: What does your typical client look like today, Brit, and what’s the typical thing you’re doing for them, you know, whether it’s copy or social media management; what does that look like?
Brit: Well a lot times people come to me asking for advice or guidance on how to—as weirdly enough with my own path—asking how to do I marry my desire to make content or, my desire to have a really connected brand, with this need to promote it; with this need to have a presence…. Basically, what do I need to do within the basic requirements do really just do what I want to do? A lot of times that bloggers; a lot of times that entrepreneurs. I’ve had very small companies come to me. I’m looking to work with bigger companies all the time just because I want to push myself, but a lot of times I find that just smaller companies and even solo-preneurs are the most eager to marry the technical skill with the artistic skill, for lack of a better phrase.
Kira: Brit, I’d like to hear about your time as a virtual assistant, and what you learned from that experience that you’ve carried into your business today.
Brit: Well, it’s a great career! Laughs. If people want to do a post-college career or if they want to take, basically, try “copywriting lite” I very much suggest being a virtual assistant for a little while, or hanging out with virtual assistants. I actually want to develop resources in 2018 on how to work practically with a virtual assistant. But, I loved it; I was very lucky to work with a community of mommy bloggers and health bloggers, just really be coached into how do you run an online business effectively by these enthusiastic, passionate women. It was 97% women; that whole niche, it’s fantastic. But they were so interested in just making things work, and they’re the most growth-hackery of all growth-hackers. They were always sharing tools; they were always sharing advice; they were sharing updates, just talking really analytically about technical updates and it was inspiring. It was inspiring to see people who were so interested in the process and so interested in helping each other and, you know, you learn fast; you learn how to transcribe, you learn WordPress tricks, you learn how to manage a community…. You do everything that you need to do, because this field really values learning and being agile. So, all great skills that I take with me now.
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Rob: So Brit, let’s say that I’ve reached the point in my business where I need to hire a VA to help me with whatever the various things are: maybe it’s interviewing; maybe it’s getting control of my inbox; maybe it’s finding leads for me. What are some things I need to know, or be aware of, before we engage to make sure that that relationship works out and that I don’t end up, you know, frustrated and needing to find somebody else to help me two months later?
Brit: So, the first thing you need to do is truly assess what you need the virtual assistant for. I’ve definitely worked with clients in my distant past as a VA who didn’t quite know what they needed, or, we started working and then they realized, “Ugh, I really don’t like surrendering control of this one thing to someone else,” and I still see that as a copywriter who focuses on social media. So if you want to work with a VA, just think to yourself, what am I sincerely all right with giving up? What am I okay with if it’s done at 98% instead of 100%? Which, hey, if you hire a good VA then it will be done at 100%, or they’ll tell you immediately. So the control is a huge thing. Another thing I would say is that, you need to think to yourself, what am I comfortable with in terms of someone working frequently? Just because, if someone is willing to be on-call for you, that’s fantastic, but you’re going to have to pay for it. If someone is going to work two days a week, that’s great—that’s probably going to be more affordable. But you need to be okay with them setting their limits and respecting their limits. The worse VA-blogger, VA-entrepreneur, VA-anything relationships I’ve seen are someone expects the VA to be on 24/7 but they’re paying the equivalent of three days a week.
Kira: Right. So Brit, you know, you’re the community manager in our Facebook group. There’s nearly 7,000 copywriters in our group; it’s highly highly engaged and, of course we’re biased but we think it’s an excellent group. So when you’re managing a community, what are some of the principles behind it, or do you have, you know, set rules when you’re jumping in there and creating, growing, helping your clients grow community?
Brit: Well, firstly, you have to want it. (Laughs.) You have to want to engage the time, and the care, and the answering your questions. It really does take time. Managing our group takes time, it takes attention; it takes editing; it takes thinking ahead. You have to be willing to engage in that and really, really want it. And you have to be prepared to be frustrated. You have to prepare for the times when nobody’s saying anything, or if it’s only the people who are looking for trouble who are saying things. So, you have to really want it, and to run a successful Facebook community, you have to like the people that are in it.
Brit: It sounds silly, but it’s true! Like, so many entrepreneurs especially and so many copywriters, they start groups, but they don’t talk to them. They want them to be engaged customers from the get-go, and it’s like, eh, no. You—you have to start a Facebook community with the aim of having friends, receiving feedback, and then a small percentage of those people will buy from you. And that’s normal. Because even if they don’t buy from you, they should still be showing up to talk to you, and talk about the subject.
Rob: It’s interesting that you say that, because, while we definitely have products or whatever, I’ve never really thought of anybody in our Facebook group as somebody that I’m trying to sell something too necessarily. Always in the back of the mind, there are opportunities of course, but I’ve never really thought about our audience quite that mercenary.
Brit: Exactly. It’s extremely common to think of a Facebook group or any sort of community that way and, it’s extremely tempting because, yeah, of course, of course—ideally, every customer you have will come from this group because they’ll be your superfans, but—realistically, you have to count on a few people being very active, and very passionate, very evangelical; a few people that are totally disinterested that never post, that are only there for the one freebie you offered, or because their friend added them; and then lots of people in the middle. And of course you can work to convert those people in the middle but, moreover, you’re there to give the people in the middle a good time. You’re there to provide value. Like the graphic I posted in club a couple days ago that I still stick to very, very closely: “Stop selling and stop helping”, and I really believe that with groups and communities.
Kira: Yeah, and we know even in our community, a bunch of the copywriters have their own Facebook groups, or they want to start a Facebook group. What advice would give to them if they’re starting from scratch, and they want it to be successful? They may want it to connect to their business and ultimately sell something but their primary goal is just to build a thriving group.
Brit: First of all, that’s the best goal to have, is to create a thriving group! I would say again, prepare to be frustrated, but prepare to—prepare, literally prepare as in write up documents, write out a plan, of—providing a good experience. You have to provide a fun experience; you have to engage people; you have to hold events. One group that I was running for an author, we held a monthly author takeover, where we had another author, like a friend of the main author…how many times can I say ‘author’ before it doesn’t mean anything? (Laughs)…. So they basically came in, they answered questions for an hour, and then we gave away a prize every twenty minutes to the people who asked and answered questions. So it was definitely time-consuming, but it got people engaged. You have to make it a fun experience; you have to make it meaningful, so plan accordingly.
Rob: So while we’re still talking about the Facebook group—or maybe in particular our Facebook group—what advice to you have for people in the group, and maybe want to engage or get more out of the group? What could they be doing differently instead of doing nothing?
Brit: I would start by commenting. Read the comments, get the vibe, get to know the people who post most frequently. Ask a question…I mean, we love people who ask questions all the time, especially if the question is new. I mean of course, search the past posts to make sure your question’s original, but, just ask a question. And, of course, participate in the day themes and ask if there’s something wrong that you’re missing. Don’t be afraid to ask bigger questions of the people who post frequently. So have a presence, but have a mindful presence. I know we have a lot of lurkers who just now came out and said, like, “I’ve been hanging around for like six months but now I’m going to ask a question”, and I’m like, “Nine times out of ten, if you lurk a little bit beforehand, your question’s going to be great, and it will get a lot of feedback”.
Kira: So what are some rules of etiquette for Facebook groups that you wish everyone knew?
Brit: Read the rules first. Laughs. Read the rules first, for goodness’ sake. Because I feel like a jerk if I have to go in and say, “Hey, can you post this on Friday instead?” Most of the time I’m posting that because I see what you’re trying to do, or, I see what you want and I sincerely believe that, if you don’t read the rules and then you step on something or step on someone, it’s only going to work against you. Again, if you want to promote something in our group, we have Promo Friday, which is really fun and I’m glad that it’s taking off, and people are learning. But also, having one day for promotion and one thread for promotion, that’s going to get you so much more exposure than if you just went hog-wild and posted about the thing that you just made. I know it’s frustrating; I know you want to shout about your new stuff or your new discovery, but you need to hold off so that people in the group will not only respect you, but so that the group will work for you. So please read the rules.
Second, I would say is, go in looking to be kind to people. It’s interesting to see how many people are willing to critique someone when it’s the internet. And I don’t just mean like offer constructive criticism, because we do have a very good group for constructive criticism, but we need to come with the idea of, we’re not going to always understand what the other person’s tone of voice is; we don’t see what their face is doing; we don’t know how their day has been. So, give people the benefit of the doubt and try to come in with a mind to be kind. I was playing League of Legends the other day, and—yes, I play League of Legends—I was playing and someone asked me straight off, and I’m so glad that they did: “Was that last comment sarcastic?” And I looked through the chat and I basically said, “Hey, you did really well.” But, I’m glad that they asked a clarifying question instead of immediately getting on the defensive and saying, “Oh, well, what do you mean? I died really quickly; what are you talking about?” And I’m like, “No, you genuinely held your own; good job.” And they said, “Oh! Well, thank you.” Hopefully brightened their day a little bit, but there’s no harm in asking a clarifying question.
We’re all just on the internet together. We need to…laughs…give people the benefit of the doubt, or at least assume that they’re probably not looking to ruin someone’s day or troll or anything like that. Trolls are a very small population, and they’re loud and obnoxious, but most people are not trolls. I think a great deal many people are misunderstood.
Rob: Yeah, no doubt. I want to add one as well: use the search function.
Rob: And this just is…. this isn’t in our group only. The number of people that come in as beginners in their standard questions, you know: how do I find clients? What books do you guys recommend? You see these over and over and over, and so much time could be saved if somebody just types in a question into the search function and sees what’s been recommended in the past before they ask their question, and if they don’t find something, go for it; ask away. Obviously, the group is incredibly helpful, but yeah. Seeing the same questions posted almost on a daily basis can get a little frustrating I think for a lot of members who have been there for a while.
Brit: Absolutely, and again, it doesn’t help the people who are looking to begin with and asking to begin with if their post just gets buried in the algorithm, because people see it and they’re like, “Ugh! This again!”
Rob: Yeah, exactly.
Kira: All right Brit, so we talked a lot about Facebook groups but, beyond that, you know, you work in multiple social media platforms. So where are copywriters really missing out today? What could we do to step up our game on social media?
Brit: So I think a lot about this, and, I think a lot of people are underestimating how much they can use their own voice. Like, I have a fair amount of Twitter followers for myself. I think I’m about 2,000 right now? Which…. it’s not bad, I want to improve, but, I can attribute over three quarters of those followers up to the fact that I use my own voice. I share copywriting material, I share horror material, but people like it if just say, “Oh, well, I really like this sort of scone that’s available at my bakery.” Like, people use social media to interact with each other on a human level. So using social media for their human voice, their comments, their opinions, it’s highly underrated and it does make you stand out, even today.
But when it comes to social media, I’m so frustrated, even today—even in 2018–by the amount of people that think that they need to be everywhere. And you absolutely do not. You need to find the sweet middle ground between places you “need to be” and places you want to be. If you want to be on Pinterest and pinning all the time, that’s fantastic; take that desire and channel it into pinning on brand content. Make yourself a marketing hub within Pinterest. Be honest with your own inclinations, and then be consistent there. If you do not get the point of Instagram—like me personally, I don’t like Instagram; I love managing it for brands, because it’s super fun, but I don’t get Instagram. And I tried a few times very early on in my career to sort of force myself to use Instagram because like, “No, I have to be here!” and it’s like, no, I can’t sustain it; I don’t know what my brand voice is on here. And that’s fine.
Lots of people want to hop to the next big thing, and I’m like, “The ne—yeah… Take a week. Take a week, see what other people are doing with it; see if you still want to do it there.” I was really skeptical whenever big brands hopped onto Snapchat, but then, the MOMA is amazing on Snapchat!
Rob: So Brit, let’s talk a little bit about Pinterest. I know this is one of your specialties. I’m one of those people that maybe doesn’t think I belong on Pinterest or I get there and I can see the value of having images on Pinterest and maybe sharing those, but, why would a copywriter benefit from being on Pinterest, or, what kinds of things should somebody who wants to be there be doing?
Brit: Well I’m about to blow you mind Rob, because…
Rob: Do it.
Brit: (Laughs.) Pinterest is the number one direct referrer of all the social media networks in terms of click-throughs to websites, so it’s a giant referral machine, if you can create the content for it. Secondly, it’s wonderful and novel to me because it works more like a search engine than it does a social media network. And it’s only getting more like as the algorithm changes, and as they’re adopting lens and making it more of a thing. So if you have really good content to share, people will latch on to that. If a copywriter wants to get on Pinterest, all they have to do is create content, take a little bit of time to make gorgeous images—gorgeous and relevant images—to that content, and then just get involved with the community and share and prove their enthusiasm. It’s simple, if you’re so inclined.
Rob: So let’s talk about what that means: gorgeous and relevant content. Like, what does that need to be? What would I be including? Again, let’s say I’m driving it to my copywriting business; what should I be sharing?
Brit: Well, let’s say you wrote a blog post or you wrote a report or a white paper that has to do, let’s say, with Google Plus: Is Google Plus still relevant? Then I would say “Okay, well, there’s plenty of add-ons or plug-ins that will let you show a stealth Pinterest photo if someone should hit Pinterest or “hit it” in their browser extension or their share button. So, let’s create a graphic for you that’s about 700×1100, and have good font, have something on-brand, that shows immediately what this blog post is about, and let’s write out copy for it so that we’ll be concise and SEO-proofed and ready, and so if someone wants to share it on Pinterest, and when you’re ready to share it on Pinterest, everything points to exactly what this is about, and it’s aesthetically pleasing. And you’re pinning it into the right category and the right board. So, it’s as easy as that, and then from there, you get consistent, you pin within Pinterest, you pin your own content, you pin ten pins a day to start with, let’s say—that’s the official recommendation, ten pins a day, but be consistent. Maybe we get you on Tailwind, a wonderful program. We can hook you up with some tribes, which are basically groups of people that are pinning together; they’re lots of marketing tribes on there. We get you sunk in; we get you involved; and we make sure that you’re enthusiastic every step of the way.
Kira: So beyond Pinterest, what are you most excited about right now on social media? What’s happening, what’s kind of new that you think would be really great for copywriters?
Brit: I am popping popcorn and watching the drama unfold with Facebook running out of ad space.
Kira: Oh! Interesting.
Brit: Yeah! They’re officially approaching “ad glut”, as I’m calling it! There’s just a limited amount of places where they can show ads and they’ve been pushing ads so far that I think we’re going to see in 2018 a sort of struggle to survive; only the best, most committed people in terms of Facebook ads are going to stay around. But it might not happen in this year, but I think it’s going to happen eventually, just because Facebook is reaching a tipping point. I love writing Facebook ads; they’re display sucks. Facebook Ad Editor is terribly built, there’s notoriously slow help associated with it, so, I’m partially wondering if it’s going to be that the people who are not enthusiastic about Facebook ads are going to drop out, so Facebook prices will go up—up in a good way, as in they might become more valuable because there’s only a certain amount of real estate, and the people who don’t care are dropping out—or, the bidding is going to get insane and lots of the smaller companies will be priced out, and Facebook will have to make a choice: do they want to appeal to more companies or fewer companies but companies that have money? So I’m excited to see when “ad-glut-pocalypse”, or whatever it’s going to be, happens.
Kira: Interesting. Okay, cool. So Brit, we met you in our Accelerator program, and I’d like to hear more about what that experience was like for you, as far as what you took away from it or how your business changed during that time, or after.
Brit: Well I loved the Accelerator, first of all; I’m a happy evangelist for it, so everyone listen to this person who’s crazy-enthusiastic, and just…yeah. It’s fantastic. I loved being a part of the Accelerator. It was fun to be amongst a group of people who were all looking to really get serious about their business, and just really learn and process, and dissect everything that we were learning. You two were great in that you had office hours and actually attended the office hours. The critique was usually very helpful, and just the emphasis on critique and…I would say practicum—that would be the word I would use—just the idea of, we’re going to learn by doing, we’re going to learn by talking about it, we’re going to learn by chatting with each other…it was really close to how I felt taking summer semester classes at college, just because we were all there for the same thing, and we were all committed. It was really nice to be with a bunch of people who really took themselves seriously, and wanted to take each other seriously, and everyone wanted to grow.
Rob: So how did it change you business? What was the practical effect for you personally?
Brit: Well I have a better website now. Laughs. But no, seriously, it forced me to really think about what I wanted to be. It gave me perspective on what do I do in a unique fashion. It really just made me braver about a lot of things. I was reading more than ever; I forced myself to come up with an education routine where a couple days a week I would take hours and just read the press, read the articles, and read the new news on what’s coming out. It basically helped take myself much more seriously, because again, coming off of being a VA, I was nervous, I was uncertain, I was like, “I want to be a copywriter”, but I was used to not being taken seriously. Because, let’s be honest, I’m one of the younger members in group, I have a crazy-high voice; like, I was used to people not immediately taking me seriously, and now I’m in the wonderful, supportive environment where everyone is listening to each other, supporting each other, like… It was the equivalent of us all hanging out and saying like, “No, no… it’s going to be okay. We’ll find a solution for this thing that’s bothering you in your business,” or, “I don’t know if this quite works, but here’s something you can do instead.” It was a great vibe; I really feel like I benefited from it.
Kira: And as you know Brit, you know, a lot of copywriters that step into the Accelerator, you know, they’re new; they really struggle with confidence and creating boundaries with clients. So, do you have any advice for copywriters who are currently struggling with boundaries and feel like their clients are pushing them around? What’s helped you?
Brit: Oh my goodness. I see this in Club and it breaks my heart; it really breaks my heart because it’s so common. I think the first step is really just to acknowledge and try to internalize the point that even when you so-called “make it”, this still might happen. You still might not be taken seriously by people. They might still attempt to bully you into getting what they want, so you have to learn this now. There’s never going to be this golden period where everybody takes you seriously all the time, and no one’s going to try to get something for cheap, or free, or rushed for no fee. So I really think that that’s the first step: acknowledge that this is something you have to learn. You have to learn it now, you’re going to have to keep learning it, and so, just say no. Say, “Oh yeah, I can do this rushed job…for a fee”; “I can do that thing for a fee”, and the best people will respect that. It’s really that simple; the best people will respect you. And if they don’t, you shouldn’t be working with them. I’ve had—I say this having had to learn it about fifty times, but as Brené Brown says: “You only get courage by couraging.” It will get easier with time; you have to believe that it will.
Rob: One of the things that you were just joking about coming out of the accelerator with is a better website. If people go to your website, they’ll see that you have embraced a pretty unique brand for yourself.
Rob: And I think this is something that isn’t just for your clients or for your website, but you live this throughout your life. How did you settle on the brand that you are using for your copywriting business, and, sort of walk us through the thought-process you had as you were developing that.
Brit: Oh my goodness; so, I can believe it took me so long, if I’m going to be honest. As being the horror copywriter, I was surprised with myself. Once I did, it’s like, “Oh, this makes complete sense; why didn’t I do this?” Because again, it’s always a struggle to be taken seriously. I walked into Copywriter Club and I’m like, “There’s so many people with these super-defined brands, and they’ve all these credentials and they’re getting taken seriously, and here’s tiny me; I’m like, oh gosh. How am I going to stand out? How am I going to gain clout? How am I going to do any of this? And I was thinking about all this and going through the Accelerator and then watching horror movies on the weekends, and…
Brit: …just doing all this, and I’m like, “What am I going to do?” But then it hit me one day of, If you can’t hide something, weaponize it. I couldn’t hide the fact, like, yeah, I am younger than most of these copywriters. Yeah, I am really interested in horror. Also, nobody else is doing else, so I’m just going to lean into this. And honestly, it’s been a source of strength. Like, I can lean into the fact, like, yeah—I’m really into horror; I’m sincerely into this. I love my aesthetic, and it’s easier to work hard at something if you genuinely love it; if it feels true. So if someone is saying like, “I’m waiting for the next great drag queen copywriter. I’m waiting for that”, I will be so excited once that happens, when someone just says: “I’m a great copywriter. I also fully participate in my drag community. So I’m just going to lean into that for my branding.” I’m going to be so excited when that happens. Or, the next trapeze artist copywriter, who uses all their pictures of their time in trapeze in their branding. Like, I don’t know what they would call it—High Wire Copy, or something like that. Someone take that. Someone take that.
Rob: I’ve got dibs on drag queen, I think.
Brit: Oh my goodness.
Brit: I can’t wait to see that
Kira: (Laughs.) Okay. So Brit, what I love about your brand—well I love so many things about your brand.
Brit: Aww, thanks!
Kira: But what I really love about it is that you do live it. It’s not just a website, not just a show, now just marketing, like when anyone hears about your day-to-day like, or even your personal pictures on Facebook, like, it’s clear that you have a passion for horror, so I just want to know where did this love of all things horror…where did it come from? When did it start?
Brit: It’s actually really…. (laughs) …I guess you can say profound. But, I love the horror subculture. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my adult life to discover the horror subculture, because, I mean, lots of kids love scary things. But, I think a lot of people seek out scary things because they really love balance. People I’ve met in horror communities like the wonderful Kat Wells of—yes, I guess she just got married, so Katherine Wells—of the Boys and Ghouls Podcast; she’s a huge horror nerd, always been into horror. She’s also extremely kind. Like, horror fans were the first to mobilize after the Orlando tragedy to donate blood, and get together and really provide compassion for that. I find that horror fans are also the most generous in terms of promoting and sharing other people’s art. Around the same time as The Copywriter Club, I discovered a Youtube channel called Nightmind, and the whole point of that Youtube channel is, let’s look at the horror art that people are creating around the internet, and highlight it and discuss theories around it, and really just critique it as art and also, share what’s good. So it’s a wonderful a constructive community, and I was really happy to find it. And also just the relation of, oh, I’ve always loved this. But, I really…let’s say…faith-based household. So the most exposure I ever got to horror growing up was The Black Cauldron and the front of the DVD case The Silence of the Lambs.
Rob: Wow. So, one of the things about a brand like yours though, Brit, is that it’s very polarizing. I imagine that a lot of people will see it, and not take you seriously, or be repelled by. What do you think about that? Because, you’ve definitely stepped into this in a big way.
Brit: Yes, I have. And, it’s actually fun. It’s fun to see what people react to it, because like you said, in terms of taking seriously, the people who don’t? I don’t want to work with. Most of the time I don’t work with horror-based brands. And I’m okay with that. I’m absolutely okay with that. Or, I work with people who don’t know I’m horror, if they read one of my pieces on Medium or something like that, and then they hop over to my site and they’re like, “Oh….Ohhhhh.”
Brit: “Oh, goodness”. Laughs. Oh, it’s fun. It’s real fun. But honestly, it’s a great litmus test. Like, Kira, I really admired your brand when I first started just because you are polarizing. You’re very cheerful, and very colorful. And I just thought, “That is so brave for a copywriter to just be like, yeah, no, I am what I am; my work speaks for itself. If you’re into me, you’re into me. Let’s work together.”
Kira: Yeah, well thank you.
Brit: I mean, you really inspired me. I really mean that. Laughs.
Kira: Oh, thank you! I think it’s important. So, I guess what advice would you give to a copywriter that is thinking about branding and feels like they just need that nudge to do it. What advice would you give to them?
Brit: I would say, first of all, make sure you know yourself. Make sure you have a least a dossier of things that you’ve written, at the very least, so that you’ve means and ways to back yourself up. And make sure you get testimonials. Oh my goodness; testimonials. It’s made all the difference to my business to have five normal looking people say, “Oh, no, she’s great to work with! It’s fun!” And after that, I mean, just lean into it. I work with Cannabis brands all the time and we work with very distinct brands and it’s really fun that way, but then they don’t have a lot of testimonials for customers and it’s kind of tragic. So you have to have the solid back-footing. Then, after that, the sky’s the limit. Like I said, I’m waiting for the next drag queen copywriter, I’m waiting for the trapeze artist, I’m waiting who is in the field of building Gundams, to have a row of Gundams on their Facebook banner, or on their front page and say, “Are you ready to suit up?” There are so many people that have hobbies or inclinations for all of that that I’m waiting to see. I think it’d be great. I respect some people’s desire to have the most professional looking website ever. I understand. But if you’re not enthusiastic about your own brand, there’s no way you can make other people enthusiastic about it.
Rob: Brit, you mentioned that you have worked with Cannabis brands, and other than cryptocurrencies, I don’t think that there’s a hotter segment right now, as far as growth, and a lot of interest in our community in working with these kinds of companies that are just emerging, just trying to figure things out; is there something unique about this industry that people ought to know before they start engaging, or is it just another product, like all others, you know, use the same approach you would with any other?
Brit: Let me just say, out loud, for the record, I love cannabis. As a brand, as a thing. It’s really fun because, to answer your question, it’s really fun because it’s at once an ancient thing, and at once a modern thing. Like, if someone really wants to learn what cannabis is like, go to Reddit, go to the art/trees subReddit, and read about those experiences. Read about what people know. The reason I went on Medium – and people should check this out and tell me if I’ve forgotten anything – I wrote an A-Z guide to cannabis, because I was so weirded out and puzzled by the fact that people who work in cannabis increasingly don’t know how people speak about cannabis in normal, lexiconic language. They don’t know who people like Timothy Leary are, or they don’t know what Panama red is, or anything like that. And I was just – I was amazed at the knowledge gap.
People can know what cannabis is scientifically and I think a lot of cannabis copywriters can start there. And that’s totally fine! I mean, you should know how X and Y are made, or what the technical cannabinoid numbers of this particular strain are – but you need more than that. You need to know about the culture behind it. You need to know what is a land-race strain. You need to know the folk history about it. And it’s kind of tragic – I hope to see more books being written about it, like, what were the strains of the Vietnam war? I actually am in talks to work with an agency in Portland and I told her, “What if I wrote a course called The History of America in Five Strains”? And she was like, “I LOVE it! We should do that and teach it as a class!” I’m like, I’d take that class! Goodness. So they have to understand that there’s a people’s history of cannabis as well as a scientific history of cannabis. And the fact that they both exist at the same time, at the same point in history, makes it so exciting.
Rob: So, let’s talk about mistakes that you see people making, taking a little bit of a turn here. You know, you’ve seen stuff in the Copywriter Club, you’ve seen maybe mistakes people were making in the Accelerator when you went through, and just your observation: as you look out at what copywriters are doing, what are some of the things they’ve just got to stop doing?
Brit: Copywriters need to start trusting themselves and stop living in the research phase. And this is something I fall prey to at times, but I’ve gotten better at pulling myself out of it. So, I want to help pull other people out of it. But you have to stop thinking that your knowledge is ever going to be enough someday. Chances are, it’s not. The best pros I know are always researching, they’re always learning, they’re always practicing; if they don’t have work in what they want to be doing, they just go out and make something. Like, there’s never going to be a perfect point of knowledge where it’s like, “Okay, yes! I’m ready to jump into the fray!” As long as you’re respectful and polite and apologize if you do something wrong, no one’s going to care; they’re just happy to have you there. So, stop doubting yourself. I mean, obviously, try not to make obvious mistakes and don’t be a jerk about it, but there’s never going to be a point where you’re perfect and ready and able to jump in and participate. No. That point’s never going to happen. You need to just do it.
Kira: And Brit, what are you focused on in 2018 in your business?
Brit: In my business, I would say – it’s such a basic thing but – I want to focus more on doing one thing at a time. Just because, I think working in social media may have done this to me (Laughs) for 8 years, plus, working in social media. But I have a tendency to multi-task. So I weave at my desk, I doodle, if I need to; I have a distraction list, so if something floats into my head so if something floats into my head and I’m like, “Oh, I should be doing that!” I just write it down and put it away. I write it down, put it away, and I revisit after work hours. So, it’s such a tiny habit but it influences everything that I do. So, one thing at a time, if I had to pick a resolution. That’s my resolution for 2018.
Kira: Awesome, and Brit, if one of our listeners wants to contact you, of course they can find you in the Facebook group, but where else can they find you online?
Brit: Well, my website is Black Bow Communications; you can subscribe to my newsletter, The Weekly Spooky, which is just horror, but I may or may not have a copy newsletter coming later this year. Just watch for that.
Rob: Sweet, thanks Brit! It’s been awesome getting to know your business a little bit better and hearing your thoughts, especially about social media and the Facebook group.
Brit: It’s been lovely having me. It’s always lovely to talk to you too. Laughs.
Kira: It has been lovely having you! Thank you, Brit. We’re grateful that you’re in the community and play such a big role in it.
Brit: Thank you for having me! I hope to see you all in the group and talk to you!
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