For the 64th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Kira and Rob bring Paige Poutiainen into the studio to talk about how she’s grown her business from Upwork to online funnel specialist. It’s a great conversation in which, Paige talks about:
• becoming a copywriter because she doesn’t speak Finnish well
• how she has succeeded working with clients found on Upwork
• why she shifted from content to conversion copy to funnel strategist
• what she’s doing to avoid funnel fatigue for her clients
• why creating a funnel is a bit like dating
• her basic process for creating a funnel for her clients
• what she does to make sure her funnels are set up to succeed from the beginning
• what had made the biggest difference in her business this year
• why she is using video more and more in her business
And as we often do, we asked Paige what she thinks other copywriters are missing out on (her answer covers stuff like owning a niche). Plus we asked what she’s learned living in Finland for the past five years (while working with clients in the USA). It’s a great way to kick off your new year. Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Accelerator
The Copywriter Think Tank
Freelance to Win
Funnel Fatigue article
The Copywriter Club newsletter
No BS Pricing Strategy by Dan Kennedy
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 copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea 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 64, as we chat with copywriter and funnel specialist Paige Poutiainen about finding success on Upwork, building effective marketing funnels using video to build a reputation, and what she’s done to accelerate her business over the past year.
Kira: Paige, welcome!
Paige: Hi, thanks for having me.
Rob: Hey Paige!
Kira: We’re so excited to have you! So we met Paige in the first beta round of our Accelerator program and now you’re in the think tank, so we get extra, extra time to get to know you, and also to see how you’ve grown your business over the last year. I think a good place is just with your story and how did you end up as a copywriter?
Paige: Yeah, that’s a good question! I think I was writing copy or content you know, starting at age twelve. I started blogging. That’s what I would do—I was a nerdy child. And you know, other kids are outside playing or doing whatever and I was upstairs, like, blogging about boys that I liked and all this kind of stuff teenagers go through. And I’ve had several blogs over the years, just kind of as a hobbyist kind of thing. And then, when I was in grad school, I got a job as a content marketer, but my official title was CMO. I was NOT qualified to be a CMO, but you know how startups do those fancy titles and stuff. So I was doing like, blogs, general content there, and I actually had to do like landing pages and opt-in pages, so that’s where I first dipped my toes in copywriting.
Then, you know, for several reasons, I didn’t enjoy that kind of working setup, it didn’t work for me, and because I was living in Finland—and I do not speak Finnish well—it is sometimes difficult to get a job, so that pressure to find work kind of pushed me into the freelancing. I had heard of Upwork, I had done some research, and you know, it was the meeting points—or, that was the catalyst. Those pressures from me deciding to leave my job, having not any other options available, I was like I have to do something. So I started on Upwork. I took Danny’s course, the Freelance to Win course. I started writing content, e-books mostly, and then I decided that sales copy was really where the money was at, I mean, that’s not why I stayed there but that was what kind of attracted me me to sales copywriting.
I actually enjoyed being really close to the sale, so you know, doing the emails and the landing pages because for me, it was like the most strategic place to be, and I’ve got a strategy brain, so yeah! So now I’m here. So I moved into sales copywriting and started learning more about it and slowly kind of made the transition into funnels!
Rob: So let’s go back, Paige, to when you were just starting out on UpWork. We interviewed Danny for a previous episode of the podcast, and got his take on how to succeed there. There are a lot of people in the club that I think try to go to Upwork, and fail—they can’t make it work, they’re finding ridiculously difficult jobs, offered at you know, $15 or $20 for projects that take days to do. How did you succeed? What was the secret that helped you succeed where so many others have failed?
Paige: Yeah, well, he covers a lot of stuff in his course, so I wouldn’t say it’s one thing, but I would recommend doing his course and I know when you’re starting out, it was like $500, I think, when I first took it—I’m not sure what it’s priced at now. And now, he even has like a copywriting course. And it seems like a lot of money when you’re starting out—you don’t have any income, you maybe don’t have a job or anything like that—but for me, it’s really worth it because it’s all about the mindset. You learn how to screen clients, and you learn just how to ignore like—and it makes you angry to see people asking for blog posts at $5 or something, but you know that that’s very likely a bad client. And you just ignore them. Like, they’re going to get what they pay for in most cases. So, you know, I get offers every day that I charge well above what most people on the platform charge and I still get like, crappy offers too, and I just immediately decline them. I’m not going to waste time on that.
So I’m not an affiliate or anything, but if you want to succeed on Upwork, if you’re not a natural and you’re struggling, his course can definitely help.
Kira: Well, let’s say someone listening can’t take the course, for whatever reason—he shuts it down tomorrow and they can’t take it—what would you say is the one thing they can do if they’re on Upwork right now, they’re getting loser clients, they want to get better clients; is there one thing they can do tomorrow?
Paige: Oh, that’s a good question. Of course, your positioning, I mean, you have to kind of take a stand, not in a bad way. Even when I was you know, first on the platform, I was always at the high end of the bid, because I used to pay for the Pro account so you could see what people were bidding. I think it’s like taking this problem solving approach. I always get the most responses when I’m leaving proposals, if I’m looking at it like a consultant. And that takes time to learn. But if you’re studying your craft and you kind of know like, the questions to ask, like what’s their problem, why do they need this, just basic things that we take for granted now because we do it all the time. But not just you know, taking orders, be invested in what they need and in their goals. I think that helps set you apart, instead of just trying to pitch. I see it as a conversation—you’re trying to open a conversation—and you’re not really trying to pitch yourself.
Kira: It sounds like doing your homework, and actually understanding the client—what the client prospect may need and then problem solving. But maybe not everyone is willing to invest that time in doing that.
Paige: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s true.
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Kira: Okay, so I want to hear a little bit more, just about your transition from writing content to writing sales copy. It seems like, as a strategic thinker, you realized okay, there’s potentially more money in sales copy, and then it hooked you; but how did you actually make that transition? Because I know of a lot of copywriters that are trying to make that transition and it seems a little tricky if your background is in content and all your projects are in content; what’s the best way to really jump in? Is it just landing that first project and just like, jumping in?
Paige: Yeah! I use the crystal ball method, which is another tool of Danny’s—and it seems like I’m promoting him hardcore, but I did find his stuff really helpful—so basically, it’s like you create spec work. So when I was first trying to break into sales pages, or it was more like, medium sized landing pages, I just took some fictional businesses and created landing pages for those. Copy, and I also did a design, because I’m of this opinion that everything looks better in a frame, and I think it changes their perception when they’re looking at something that looks clean and somewhat put together than when they’re looking at a copy document. So that’s what I did first. I just made some spec pieces.
And I didn’t like, lie to the client and say these are spec pieces—if they would’ve asked—but I didn’t come out and say these are spec pieces. I was just like here’s some proof of what I can do, and it was pretty easy that way actually, to land a client. I mean, of course, I wasn’t charging as high as I do now, but I was still charging more than the bottom tier. So I think my first sales page, or kind of landing page, was like a $500 landing page, selling a e-book.
So, created a launch for an e-book.
Kira: Okay. So we kind of have this debate whether or not it’s good to start on Upwork. Clearly, it worked for you and you started on the high end. Do you think it’s where every copywriter should start? Maybe that’s too big of a statement, but should copywriters start on Upwork or do you think that maybe they could just pursue another path, based on your experience?
Paige: I don’t know. I think you have to do a gut-check. What makes the most sense for you? Upwork, if you can crack it, is actually really good because you’re not doing a lot of cold outreach—people are already coming to the platform looking for someone to help them. So like, you’re already in the solution-awareness stage with those people, they just don’t know you exist yet. So, I’m not that knowledgeable in cold outreach so that’s something that I’m exploring right now because I have been using Upwork. So I think it’s a good place to start if you don’t have any network. If you don’t have contacts in the niche where you want to start if the idea of doing cold prospecting makes you freeze and want to hide in a corner somewhere. I think Upwork is a valuable choice then. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary that everyone has to start there.
Rob: So Paige, you’ve since shifted from content or sales oriented copy, and lately you’ve really been focused on funnels. Tell us about that!
Paige: Yeah, so I guess at the moment I’m straddling somewhere between conversion copywriter and funnel strategist. So I still have clients while I’m mainly doing sales copywriting, and I’m trying to move them in a place where they’re looking at it from a more strategic, funnel perspective. And that’s just kind of a transition that takes some time. So the reason I moved into funnels is of course, I’m a strategy-brain, so I like systems and I like looking at big picture. My mom always told me that I was most excited as a child at the planning, at the beginning of a project, than I was at the middle and at the end.
And that’s just because I like dealing in ideas and mapping things together. So a problem that I encountered when I was writing sales copy for clients on Upwork was that you know, any good conversion copywriter knows to ask, how is someone coming to this page, or how do you plan to drive traffic—what is the flow there? And I was getting a lot of responses that were like, oh, we’re just going to drive Facebook traffic directly to this page, and if you’re selling an impulse buy, that might work. You would have to test it and see. But back then, I knew that it wasn’t a good idea, if you’re selling a $15,000 training program. Like, I had one—it was a really expensive program, and they were going to send cold Facebook traffic. I knew that wasn’t going to work, but I didn’t really know how to tell them what would work. I was just like, that doesn’t really work well… I don’t even remember exactly what I said.
But it came from this place of knowing that, if you, as the copywriter, like, you don’t have to be a funnel strategist, that’s okay. But it’s in your best interest to recognize when something’s not going to work because the funnel strategy impacts how effective your copy is. And if the client doesn’t know anything about funnel strategy, and they have a bad one, they’re going to send traffic to your page, even if you have like, the best copy in the world, if the strategy isn’t solid, that’s not going to be effective and they’re going to blame you even though it’s not your fault and it’s not in your control.
So I think like, if you just want to be a copywriter and you don’t want to be a funnel strategist, that’s okay! You don’t have to. You’d be awesome at copywriting. But it’s good to recognize when the client needs to bring in someone because it’s going to impact the effectiveness of your work and how they see you and your relationship with them.
Kira: Well, it seems like even if you want to just be a copywriter, that you still have to have this understanding of the funnel so that your copy is more effective, like you said. So what can we do as copywriters, to have a better understanding of the funnel and help our client more effectively? Is there something that we could do that you’ve done in your process?
Paige: Yeah, I think Joanna Wiebe, she talks a lot about the stages of awareness, and the copy that you’re writing has to pick up where the story left off. So the simplest thing you can do is know what’s happening before they get to that page and what’s happening after. And of course, read up on just basic funnel strategy. You don’t have to know all the ins and outs, you just have to know the logic—the high level stuff. And people are writing about funnels like crazy, so you’re going to see a lot. After you spend maybe a few days looking into it, you’re going to be like, okay, I’ve read this before, I’ve read this before, I’ve read this before. It doesn’t take long to get to a map—like, the 80% that you really need to know. So just be aware and kind of take the initiative to get to know what’s out there and knowing what happens before and after in that funnel. So any copywriting project, you kind of need to know what the funnel looks like to write effective copy. And that’s going back to the stages of awareness, and that’s a part of the funnel.
Rob: So Paige, we’ve had a lot of discussion in The Copywriter Club Facebook group, but I’ve seen this happening around the web that some funnels are starting to perform less effectively than they used to and it seems like everybody’s got a funnel, whether it’s a product launch formula style or ask method style, or something else, and—maybe it’s just because we’re in the marketing space that I see them all the time—but you know, there’s so many that have these long, 40 minute videos, and there’s four of them, so you got to basically sit through almost three hours of content before you can sign up for something, and it sort of feels to me like some of this is getting a little tired. Are you seeing that? And if you are, what are you doing differently or what are you suggesting to your clients to do differently to avoid that kind of funnel fatigue?
Paige: Yeah, so, there’s a great article by Hillary Weiss—she posted about some trends she saw in her industry. And I think you know, you always have to keep your ear to the ground and if you’re selling—I don’t have any definitive data on this, so this is kind of my gut reaction—is, as a business owner, everything is not going to stay the same forever. It doesn’t matter if you have automated funnels or not, you have to keep your ear to the ground, keep a really strong connection with your audience to know, like, are you still solving their needs? And if you’re not, then of course, your funnel’s not going to work.
Or you know, even if they’re seeing it so much—that could be a problem too! They’re seeing it so much that they’re starting to tune you out. You have to change your message and change what they’re seeing. So I don’t believe that funnels are really declining. I think crappy funnels are really declining, not to say that these people have crappy funnels, this is a completely separate issue. I posted the other day and I watched a video about a product and this guy clicked through the funnel and there was like 9 upsells and down sell pages in a row. He couldn’t get out of that funnel. It was so ridiculous. And it shows so much disrespect for your customer.
Of course those funnels are not going to work because you’re already pissed off at like, the third popup window and you’re like NO, I don’t want this upsell! Like, stop! Take me to my product! So I think as funnels get more popular, then how you put it together and of course, the people seeing the funnels are getting wiser to all the tricks, so as long as you approach a funnel from a place of authenticity and understanding and trust, I think that people will have no problem using funnels.
Kira: So I like that idea of building it around trust and not sending your people to nine different landing pages, and breaking that trust, and I know there’s a psychology behind a funnel. How do you think through a funnel, especially when you’re helping clients or working on your own, that you know it is a good time to send them to a landing page? They are ready to buy—that you’re not overdoing it and potentially losing you know, your best clients. Is there a way to learn that or is it just like a gut-check? How do we do that?
Paige: The first place to start with is what works. So there’s a lot of people doing a lot of really cool things in the funnel space. And I start always with what’s working for everyone else. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. So if you approach funnels more like dating, I think that it seems a bit more intuitive. Like, you don’t want to require them to have too much commitment upfront. That’s why when you run cold traffic to a webinar, regardless of whether it’s a good webinar or a bad webinar, you don’t get as good of a response. Because I don’t know you, I don’t trust you; I’m busy. Like, why do I need to sit 60 minutes with you? I already know you’re going to sell me something—I have to be like really, really, really, really interested in what you’re selling, so I think you can start from a place of what works. And then kind of—it’s a little bit intuition as well. Like, if you know your audience and you’ve been interacting with them, then you kind of can use that to adapt. Do I need a longer sequence or a shorter sequence? And then it comes down to testing. I have to do things and see what happens.
Rob: I want to think about this in a real-world situation. So let’s take a hypothetical. Let’s say that I have a Facebook group of several thousand members and I want to move those members onto my email list or into a product, what are some of the things that I should be thinking about to make that happen?
Kira: Are you talking about The Copywriter Club?
Rob: Uh, no…? This is a hypothetical situation…
Paige: Hint hint, everyone! Go sign up to the newsletter! Yeah! I think the approach I like to take with lead magnets, or the first contact and how you get people on the list is starting with how can you give them an easy win? How can you show that you can solve problems for them?
So of course, lead magnet is obvious. Without berating everyone and saying we’re not going to give you anymore content if you don’t sign up to our list. You know? That’s maybe not the best approach. But I’m happy to opt into something if it’s solving a problem, if I’m going to be able to solve it quickly and it’s something of genuine value to me and again, I think that comes down to knowing your audience. So when I was first starting out, if you could’ve showed me like, how to get my first client, it doesn’t have to be a 50-page book—I don’t want to read a 50-page book, especially not in this copy-date situation, if we think back to the world of dating. I want something easy to consume, it’s clearly valuable, it’s going to solve a problem, it’s going to get me an easy win. And that’s my approach when I think about lead magnets. And getting—moving people onto an email list. Of course, you can take the best approaches and you can use them and it still may not work and then you have to come down to having like, involving your audience. Like, why don’t you want to be on our email list? Or what do you need from us? Or something like that.
Kira: Paige, I’d like to hear more about your process—and I know, we’re working with you on funnel strategy so we kind of get to sit through it and experience it ourselves—but for anyone that’s listening that potentially wants to really integrate funnel strategy into their own work, can you walk through just like, an overall view of your process? Your client process?
Paige: Yeah, actually, I’ve been working on that a lot this week, so trying to really narrow it in so I can communicate it well, so… I wrote a blog post, I guess it was yesterday or a few days ago about foundation. And I find that a lot of people want to implement funnels and more specifically, if you think automated lead gen funnels, too early. Before they have a solid foundation. So, you definitely want to have a clear vision in what you want to achieve with your funnel. And then you want to look and see, do you understand your tribe? And you may even have to break your tribe apart into sub-groups.
A funnel should be really specific. If you think like, The Copywriter Club, we have really advanced copywriters, we have people somewhere in between, we have babies. Maybe we even have more than that diversity, so if I was creating a funnel for you guys, then I would start with one of those groups. Maybe it’s the newbies. And then I would have to give them a message that’s important for them, that’s attractive for them. And then also, an offer that’s attracting to them. So you definitely want to look at the foundation first, before you even start you know, building anything, or putting together a lead magnet, to make sure that that’s solid and that you have a clear kind of path forward. And then after the foundation, once you have that set, then you move into the building.
There’s kind of logic. You have the lead magnet, you have the trust building sequence, and then you have the conversion event. And the conversion event is anything that requires more commitment. It might be a sale, it might be a webinar, or something like that, or to fill out a form if you’re doing like the coaching or consulting funnel. So that’s where the magic happens. That’s the actual funnel build, with the magnet, the trust builder, and the conversion event.
And then, I like to test funnels, so once you have a funnel set up, I prefer to test with ads. And that’s because with ads, you can test really fast. You can pivot. So you can just get proof that it’s working, even if you don’t want to use ads as part of your strategy—I know some people who are really against using ads. That’s okay, if you don’t want to use ads. But ads allow you to send a bunch of traffic to your site on-demand. Of course, you want to use a really good ad strategy, so really targeted, to make sure your funnel will even convert. Because otherwise, and I have a video about this somewhere on my video channel, talking about ads versus blog posts, otherwise you have to spend a lot of effort creating content or promoting something and then six months creating content before you realize this lead magnet doesn’t work, for example. So I like to test, just do small tests, to prove that hey, this funnel’s going to work, and then you can decide, depending on your strategy, do you keep ads? How do you integrate with your content marketing? How do you integrate with your website? How do you integrate with your blogging? And whatever kind of moving pieces that you have as part of your marketing strategy. So that’s kind of a brief overview of my funnel framework as it stands this moment.
Kira: And are you running the ads for your client?
Paige: At the moment, yes and no. So I’ve dipped my toes in ads with some pretty good results, but I’m thinking—I’m exploring the option of bringing on some people to do the ads.
Rob: It feels like all of this is really interesting, but if you don’t get the customer profile, or the avatar right, it would be a complete and total fail. So what do you do at the beginning to make sure that you’re talking to the right customer?
Paige: Yeah! So I’m doing a Done For You Funnel, and this is where there has to be a lot of collaboration between the business owner—me and whoever owns the business. Because I don’t have that experience with their customers to be able to create something on my own. So what I have to do is I have to pull it from them. So, ask them the really hard questions—preferably, or in ideal situations, they have a customer avatar and it’s built on data and it’s not just assumption. In an ideal world, and sometimes that happens, but more often than not, they don’t have you know, they don’t have the customer avatar. Maybe they don’t even clearly have a good understanding of their customer.
And that’s where I have to go in and say you’re not ready. We can discuss how we move in a different direction. So first, let’s start with the customer development or research package or something like that where you go and do interviews, surveys, and data-mining. Kind of the get to know your customer realm. And that would be separate from the funnel. That’s pre-work. You have to know that before you can build a solid foundation, and of course you don’t want to go further than that and build a funnel fi you don’t have a solid foundation. So some people might keep going forward if they don’t know to use a really targeted customer profile, or if they don’t care, there’s probably some people out there like that, but that’s where the person who’s taking care of you has to step in and say, we have to step back, you’re not ready for this, let’s figure out how we get you to the foundation part. And that would start with the research element.
Kira: Interesting. Okay. So, Paige, I kind of want to just shift gears and back up and like, do a high level review of you and your business let’s say, over the last year. Because again, we’ve seen your business grow and so what has kind of played the biggest role in your growth over the last year? Is it just more mindset or something else?
Paige: Yeah, of course. Mindset is always a big part of it. And I’m a huge like, nerd about reading and stuff, so I read a lot about personal development, business development. Most—I hardly ever do any pleasure reading anymore—so almost all my Kindle books are about business building.
Kira: Wait, isn’t that pleasure reading?
Paige: Actually, yes, but then some days you’re like, no, I need to read about something that won’t make my mind bend.
Kira: I know. (laughs)
Paige: So yeah, I think, like, keeping a constant check on how I feel about how my business is going is important. And I mean, not everyone is motivated to improve. I think that’s okay, but if you want to take it to a different place, you’re not happy with where you are or you’re not entirely satisfied with where you are, then you invest in figuring out how to get there. And for me that’s reading, that’s talking to people, that’s being in groups like The Copywriter Club, that’s joining programs like the Accelerator, like the think tank, with people who can help push me forward, and kind of fill in the gaps for me.
Right now, I’m reading a lot about pricing strategy. It’s called the No BS Pricing Strategy book by Dan Kennedy, or something like that. So yeah, for me, I mean, my rates have increased I guess double since January, I think? It’s a little bit hard to think about where was 12 months ago, but it’s kind of been just an exploration of constant checking in with myself and deciding like, what’s my next move? And not trying to do everything at once. Just taking it one step at a time.
Rob: One of the things you’ve done recently, Paige, is focus on video. And you’ve done some amazing videos that you’ve posted in your own channel all about funnels, funnel strategy; tell us about your thinking behind that, why you decided to do videos, and how that’s sort of changed your approach to your business.
Paige: Yeah, so I’m interested in video, primarily for the trust factor. I think that even if it’s not conscious, on the sub-conscious level, when we see someone talk to us, even if it’s over video, even if it’s recorded, we kind of make a connection with that person. Hopefully a good connection with that person. We can kind of start to see like, would I like to work with this person? So, for me, it was a bit more about trust and about standing out, copywriters are not notoriously known for getting on video because we’re word people, we like to hide behind the words. We write great, great pages, but that’s a way for me to stand out in the copywriting space, is to involve video. So I’d say those are two main elements—a way to stand out and a way to build trust.
And just the act of creating content, whatever it is, is a way to develop your message and develop your voice in that space. So, for me it’s not really about being super accurate or being a guru style person, it’s more like being a helper, a reporter, an explorer, and just sharing what I know and the act of doing that actually helps me make better connections and helps me kind of sharpen how I see that I fit into this space. So what’s my uniqueness? And what’s my voice?
Rob: So a lot of people, when they start with video or with audio, they can’t stand the way that they sound or the way that they look, or they get caught up in cutting things together; we’re a little bit that way when we record, we don’t necessarily love the way our voices sound. Did you deal with that as well? And how do you just sort of let that go to move forward and get things done?
Paige: I was super terrified to do videos at first, you know. I don’t necessarily love hearing my voice because I think I sound like I have a really high pitched voice—which is probably exactly what I’m going to sound like when I hear the recording of this podcast—and I’m going to be like, oh gosh, I sound like one of those super preppy valley girl types! There’s nothing wrong with you guys, just saying—but that doesn’t match my personality and in my head I sound a little bit more manly than that, so it’s weird. I don’t know. You get over it after you’ve done it a few times. It was just a challenge—I just pushed myself. Amy Porterfield wrote about her struggles getting into video.
She referred to weight issues or something like that. I also have that, like, my face looks a little plump in the videos, you know? It just—it’s a little uncomfortable but you come to accept yourself for who you are and realizing that people don’t see you the way you see yourself, or the high standards that you think you should hold yourself to. People just take you for who you are, at first glance. So I think it’s hard at first, but you just have to be like, oh well, if people don’t like me, they don’t like me. But the right people will.
And just do it. Just do it and push it out. It’s better to build momentum and get started than to be perfect. I mean, still now, I just got a new webcam so the quality of my videos should improve. They’re a little bit grainy and fuzzy right now but I didn’t let that stop me because I knew that if I let that stop me, then I would you know, have this friction and I wouldn’t move forward. So the next step is to get one of those Diva light rings that Kira recommended.
Paige: And then slowly kind of upgrade the quality that for, like I said, for me the most important thing was just to start talking. Start getting my message out there. And sharing my voice and taking a stand for what I believe in my industry.
Rob: Some of us don’t want that high quality of video because we want to hide the smile lines and the other wrinkles and things that are starting to appear on our skin.
Kira: What are you talking about?!
Paige: Then you might need a full editing team to go in there and polish that.
Rob: Yeah, that’s exactly what I need.
Kira: Right?! Can you do Photoshop on video?
Paige: I have no idea! I’m really like, low-budget kind of video team right now. (laughs)
Kira: So, I think that’s what you know, you do so well and why you stand out and why if anyone listening should be friends with you and just to- just to kind of observe how you move through the business world because you know, you just explained it well, but you jump into things and you have a great attitude and I mean, we haven’t even mentioned the fact that you’ve rebranded your entire business and re-launched your website over the last 6 months. And the cool thing about that, too, is that you were really hiding on your initial website. I think you had one headshot that was like an old headshot and didn’t even really look like you, and then since then, you’re just like, on video and then on every page of your website and smiling and just showing up and such a big way and I think that is important because a lot of us tend to want to hide when we first start out and we don’t want to really show up on our website and you’ve just gone the opposite direction. Like, I’m going to show up consistently and it’s working for you! It clearly is working so I think it’s really good lesson for all of us.
Paige: Thanks! I’m happy to hear that it’s working.
Kira: It is working, and I want to ask a question I’ve asked a couple of other people. You’re in the copywriter world, you’re friends with a lot of copywriters in these groups, what do you see as a missed opportunity for copywriters today? And this could be anything that comes to mind.
Paige: Yeah, well, I think what you just said is definitely a missed opportunity, you know? We like to hide behind our words. It’s hard for us to put ourselves out in front of our business. It’s hard to take ownership. Or take a stand. And that’s just you know, that’s okay. At the beginning, you learn as you go and you build confidence and then you’re ready. Or you’re a little bit more ready to kind of put your self out there—put your face out there. So I think you know, building a bit more of a personal brand, a bit more connection in your brand on your site, maybe it’s through videos or whatever, is definitely a missed opportunity.
Also, I think niching… I’m big on niching. I’ve had a few conversations this week about niching because niching is really, really scary, and if you do it well, then it has you know, tremendous opportunity for you to actually own like, a space. A small enough space that could give you like, enough work for a year, and more than that. I think you know, as solo service providers, being too niche doesn’t even make sense. Because how many clients can you really take in a month or in a year? Or whatnot. So I think niching is a huge opportunity because most people don’t do it. Like, how can you get super, super, super niched and then really own that space? So we have a member in our think tank who’s kind of owned this like, wedding space, and she’s owned it for like 18 months. She’s been really rocking it. My argument for niching—and I’m slowly trying to get there because it is scary—it’s scar to say, I’m only going to focus on these people… what about these other people I can help?
But I joined The Copywriter Accelerator because it was for copywriters. Not because it was a general business accelerator. And that’s kind of my argument for niching—people gravitate towards what’s relevant for them. So if you’re helping course creators that create spiritual courses or courses about meditation, like, people creating those courses are going to want to work with you. Because you’re super relevant for them. And niching doesn’t have to be forever. You can test a niche for like three months and then be like, I’m not really happy with this—let’s try a different niche. But I think that’s a huge opportunity, especially for new copywriters who can’t really stand out. I mean, there’s so many of us in a super crowded space and niching really is the only way to really stand out somewhere. And be known to the people who are most relevant for you.
Kira: That’s awesome. I believe in niching and I feel like, even though I believe in it, you just sold me on it again! (laughs)
Rob: Paige, you’ve made TONS of changes to your business this year, would it be fair to ask, what’s the one thing you’ve done that’s made the biggest difference?
Paige: I think I have one thing, but it’s been like a transition. So, I think you have to learn to see yourself as a professional service provider. And I mean, I’ve heard others on the podcast talking about employee mindset or being in this slave mindset or this order-taker mindset. When you start to see yourself as a professional service-provider, knowing how many billable hours of work you can do per week, you know, what you need to charge to get, as a business, not as a person, like, not as income, but as like business revenue, how you deal with clients, how you approach your branding, maybe you’re not investing in a super professional brand, but you have a super expensive branding package—but you still want to look professional and show up.
I think that impacts everything that you do. How you communicate with clients, how you set expectations… for me, I think that’s been the most powerful. Going from this freelancer mentality of the employee mindset, to being a professional service provider. It doesn’t matter if I’m only one person, I’m still a professional service provider. And I have to act that way. And I have to project that image. And I have to you know, set those expectations. I think that, for me, has been the biggest transition this year.
Rob: Love that answer. I think the more that we do that, the more serious that we take ourselves as professionals, the more we invest in ourselves, the better off we’re going to be. So, I have one final question—you hinted at this in the beginning of our interview… you live in Finland and I think work with mostly American clients. What’s that like? I had this experience where I lived abroad for a little while, but so many writers that would love to move to a place and then you know, run a copywriting business wherever they are, explore the world… tell us about how that’s been for you.
Paige: Yeah! I think at the beginning, it was really exciting and now, I’m a bit ready to go back to the US. I love Finland and Finland has played a very important role in becoming the person that I am. If it had not been for the pressure I felt here, like to get a job and stuff like that, I might have never moved into freelancing. I might still be stuck in the corporate life somewhere. So I am very grateful to Finland for that.
I think it really depends on the person. Like, are you this explorer, adventurous type? Do you have strong connections back home? I’m definitely interested in doing more traveling and working while I travel—that’s another thing with being like the B2B, or the professional business owner—you kind of have to set that up and say expectations, you can’t be always on call if you’re going to be traveling and working also.
I think for me I’m a bit ready to move back to the US. I’ve noticed like, my relationships aren’t as strong anymore. Relationships that really matter to me. It’s definitely exciting, like the honeymoon phase, I guess is what they call it, with cultural things. But you have to think about, I guess if you’re going to travel, how realistic is it? What kind of budget do you need? Do you know the language? It’s really exciting but you have to be really realistic about it because yes, they speak English everywhere in the touristy areas, but if you really want to feel like you’re a part of the culture, you have to speak the local language to get to know people. Unless you’re going to England and can just speak English. It’s a two-sided coin. There’s good and bad. And maybe—I mean, we’re in winter right now so Finnish winter is notoriously dark and cold so that also is impacting my answer right now. I’m a bit good days, bad days, when it comes to that, so…
Kira: How long have you been there now?
Paige: Almost 5 years. So, quite a long time.
Paige: So, it’s really hard when you’re like, working from home because you don’t have that community like, you don’t have a workplace community so you really have to make sure that you make friends, like with local people. And that you’re really invested in outside relationships. Otherwise, you’re always at home with your cats, not seeing anyone or avoiding going outside and speaking Finnish like I do most days. So you really have to take a lot of effort to make sure that it’s something that you can really thrive—that it’s a situation you can thrive in.
Rob: I like the honesty of the answer because people are talking about you know, working from wherever and it’s you know, I’m working from the beach and it’s nothing but happiness and nice drinks…
Kira: Pina Coladas!
Rob: …nice drinks with umbrellas in them and it’s not always easy to make a living overseas.
Paige: I don’t even understand how people work from the beach. I’m like, I can’t get anything done if I’m going to be at the beach! If I’m at the beach, I want to be present, taking in sun, listening to the waves, I don’t want to be working and mixing that together. I don’t know. I guess it’s a personal preference but I guess it could be glamorous but my reality is that it’s not as glamorous as all of these people try to hype it up to be.
Kira: Well, Paige, we appreciate your time and you joining us and sharing you know, your experience over the last year especially. If anyone wants to reach out, become besties with you, or just kind of follow you along your path, where should they find you?
Paige: Yeah, so my website is theimpactcopywriter.com. Of course, if you want to reach out on Facebook, or Twitter, or Medium, or YouTube, wherever—I’m pretty much anywhere, so if you just search my name, I’m the only Paige Poutiainen in the world, pretty sure, so you’ll find me.
Kira: Great, thank you Paige.
Rob: Thanks, Paige.
Paige: Thank you!
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