TCC Podcast 15: Laura Belgray

Laura Belgray joins Kira and Rob to talk about everything from her work processes (she writes and brainstorms realtime with her clients watching via Skype) and finding confidence to what she would tell herself if she could go back in time to when she was just staring out and why she hasn’t chosen a niche for her work. It’s an in-depth discussion with the only copywriter Marie Forleo chose to create a copy course with. You don’t want to miss this one.

Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.

The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:

Sponsor: AirStory
Laura Roeder

The Copy Cure
Marie Forleo B-School
Laura’s gross out blog post
Laura’s newsletter (and website)
Amy Porterfield
Michelle Martello
Awesome Screenshot
Kira’s website

Rob’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
Outro: Gravity

Full Transcript:

Kira: 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 and other experts, 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 are invited to join the club for episode 15 as we chat with copywriter Laura Belgray, about her quirky brand, how she works with clients, her copywriting course, and where she finds the clients she loves to work with the most.

Rob: Hey Kira and Laura.

Kira: Hello. Hey. How’s it going?

Laura: Oh it’s going great. You’re asking me?

Kira: I’m asking both of you.

Rob: You’re the guest Laura so …

Kira: We only care about you. We don’t really care about each other.

Laura: Okay, if you don’t care about Rob, it’s going great for me. Thank you.

Rob: Laura, I am curious about your brand. It seems like a pretty good place to start. You have this sort of quirky humorous brand. We’re always told that we should niche down and yet it doesn’t feel like you’ve niched your brand at all. Would you tell us a little bit about the thinking behind how you present yourself to the world?

Laura: Sure. I mean I got to say I’m so glad that nobody told me that. I didn’t really look into how to set up my brand because it’s sort of evolved almost by accident, back when I was a promo writer for TV and started dabbling with private clients. It was never my intention to build the business of private clients. In fact somebody, my friend Laura Roeder, who you might know, told me, gave me advice way back when. She was like, “Don’t work with entrepreneurs. Stick with TV because entrepreneurs are so cheap.” It turned out to be not so true. They might have been back then, but entrepreneurs now, I think the common wisdom is invest in yourself, invest in your business, invest in the best and they will pay good money for great copywriting. They know how important it is.

It’s become my business, and I never knew to niche down or niche down or however you pronounce it, and I’m really glad I didn’t know that because I think that I would go nuts writing for one kind of client. I’ve written a lot for say life coaches, and health coaches, and nutritionists, and people like that. The more I serve those clients, the more they come to me, the more I feel like, “Oh, everybody’s doing the same thing, everybody wants to say the same thing, everybody serves the same kind of client with the same kind of needs.” How many different ways can you say level up your game? You’ll step into your brilliance or … light a fire under your butt, or spark your creativity. It becomes very hard when you’ve written for so many of the same kind of client to come up with new ways of saying something, even though there are a million ways to say the same thing. You just burn out.

I find that if I have a niche at all, it is a mindset among all different kinds of businesses, which is that their business needs to have a personality. They know the importance of standing out and they refuse to be samey or stiff or boring, and they are embarrassed by stiff, boring jargon and business-y buzzwords and they will pay not to have that.

Kira: Laura, do you have a favorite, so do you have a favorite project? I know it’s hard to choose, but do you have one that was just totally different and just really a pleasure to write?

Laura: I’ve had so many different random businesses. I mean I’ve helped an Airbnb host who also coaches other Airbnb hosts. I have worked for a sex toy company, a different sex toy company that makes a sex toy like treasure box.

Rob: So you do have a niche?

Laura: I do. But there are also like three or four psychics, one a famous medium. I’m so sorry, that’s my phone. Or like a brand of bar soap where the proceeds benefit preserving the Potomac. I’ve worked for a sobriety gift site for people in recovery who don’t want to wear ugly jewelry. I worked for an SAT tutor. I’ve written stuff for a seafood restaurants, emails, and table signs, things they, like those little triangles that they pop on the table that say we’ve got $1 oysters all through happy hour. Also worked for a chocolatier who only makes chocolate angels. So yep. It’s hard to say.

One recent one I loved working for was a farmer named Charlotte Smith who started off selling raw milk and that was her business, and it got very popular. She took Marie Forleo’s B-School and learned online marketing and realized how much it helped her business grow and made her business easier. She started teaching other farmers how to market their businesses. They’re total virgins to marketing and totally afraid of it. I really loved working with her. She just comes to mind because she had such interesting concrete things to talk about like raw milk and fresh eggs and organic carrots and schlepping to farmer’s markets versus sending out emails to customers who line around the block for your organic sausage. That kind of stuff. Anyone who was really interesting and different concrete details that they can use is a fun project for me.

Rob: You mentioned working with Marie at B-School. I think, if I’m not mistaken, your copy course you developed with her, will you tell us a little bit about your course, what it covers, how you developed it, and the results that you’ve seen from that?

Laura: Sure. Well our course is called The Copy Cure. It was years in the making. Actually we, it sprung from a talk that I did at Marie’s event for 500 called. The event was RHH Live and I did sort of a live copy clinic where I gave tips for writing non-sucky copy. It was I’d say about an hour talk and we said we have to make this into a course because people loved it so much.

I would say what sets our course apart a couple of things. One is it’s completely binge watchable. It’s under four hours. You will write better in an afternoon if you devour it all in one sitting. I consider it the Breaking Bad of copywriting courses. It focuses a lot on putting power and personality into your writing. Although we provide structures and frameworks like a framework for a sales page, frameworks for non-braggy about pages and things like that, we focus most of all on how to chose words that pop off the page and that get into your client’s head and that are compelling and don’t lose people in the first sentence.

I think one of the problems that I’ve seen with a lot of copywriting courses and instruction the people say, “Write like you talk, make it fun, tell stories, be entertaining.” But they don’t really tell you how. They don’t tell you the specific techniques to make it entertaining or to make it sound natural, and there are specific techniques. It’s easier … It’s not just a matter of saying, “Okay, I’m going to sound like me.” People freeze up when they try to do that. That is really the focus, it’s to help you find your voice rather than just give you permission to use your voice.

Kira: Laura, when you were talking about all of the different clients that you’ve worked with, the angel chocolatier. I was just thinking to myself. It’s so fun, and I would love to work with this diverse group of clients as well, and I’m sure other copywriters are thinking that. Are they just all finding you or how are you finding them? How are you all connecting? How is this happening?

Laura: It’s funny. I would say I’m very lucky in that Marie Forleo who has a huge audience has always recommended me and I’ve been visible from the very start, just in a testimonial on her website. I would say that visibility is one thing, like being visible to people who are in all different businesses, who are interested in reading what you put out there. I haven’t always focused on just writing copywriting tips through my blog. My blog has been a creative outlet where I write about all kinds of random things including the latest one which totally grossed Rob out.

Rob: Yeah, it did. We’ll definitely link to that so that everybody else can get grossed out too.

Laura: Yeah, trigger warning. Trigger, it will trigger vomiting possibly. I read about all kinds of random things and I think that those posts attract all kinds of people, and it doesn’t really have to be about copywriting. If they like your style and find out that you are a copywriter, often they’re going to want to use you. Because you have to remember, remember what it’s like when you start out searching for someone to provide a service for you, you kind of don’t know where to start. Like I’ve looked for, I’ve thought like, “I need a graphic designer.” And if I don’t have, if I’m not ensconced in the world of graphic designers, I don’t really know who’s who. So I would be way more inclined to just hire someone that I come across, like, “Oh, I didn’t know you were a graphic designer. Maybe I can use you.” You hire people that you know, like, and trust. So just getting stuff out there that makes people know, like, and trust you is just as important as establishing yourself in the world of your industry.

Rob: Yeah, your newsletter or your email that you send out weekly which links back to your blog is one of the more interesting ones from the writers that I follow. Usually writers send out newsletters about writing or even marketing, that kind of thing. But that’s not your style. You’re telling stories. You’re grossing people out. You do give some advice. In fact, you linked to a video a few weeks ago that I want to ask you a little bit about where you, it was an hour long session with you and a couple of clients on a video call and just the back and forth between you and the client. I’m curious. Is that how you work? Is that how you work with your clients? Because I have to say, in watching that, it sort of gave me chills in that there are so many bad ideas that come up and you don’t necessarily want to expose those to the client before you get to the good stuff. But you were just, you were powering all of this stuff. I was really impressed by that. Tell us a little bit about that.

Laura: Thank you.

Rob: And how that works.

Laura: Yeah. What you watched it was called the jam session and it was part of someone’s kind of tele summit thing where he provided jam sessions from a whole bunch of different experts. But what it was was really an exact sample of my typical power hour which is, it was exactly how I do it. I get on Skype or phone with a client. We have a, we’re in a Google Doc. It’s a survey that they have, the client has filled out. A lot of it is about their ideal customer or client avatar. Some of it, like there are questions like what is your short … What do you do? What’s your longer answer for what you do? How would you describe what you do if you don’t give a crap what anybody thinks? That always provides great material. That’s where they, they just shout their best stuff, and stuff like that, what kind of words do you say that light people up, that make them say, “Oh my god, I need to hire you,” or, “I need to get your stuff,” a whole bunch of questions like that.

They fill that out before the session. Then they can share it with me anytime before our session. Sometimes I look it over beforehand. Sometimes I jump right in at minute one of our session and go right to what copy they want to work on. That’s at the bottom. We’ll work right there in the document. Sometimes they’ll paste it there, the copy they already have there and we’ll change it right there on the spot. Sometimes they’re starting from scratch and we’ll just write notes. Like if we’re working on a tag line or a headline I’ll just brainstorm there with them, and usually I’m the one typing. Sometimes they type but usually I’m the one typing stuff. This way they don’t have to take notes on what I’m saying. In general there’s no like, “Wait, wait, what did you just say? I need to get it all down,” or, “Can we record this?” They have it all there in the doc and I just feed off of what they say and come up with ideas.

You’re right, some are terrible and some are great. Usually I’ll be like, “It might not be this but, you know, here’s a terrible idea.” Someone’s terrible ideas are inspiring. So I put it all down.

Kira: When I hear this too it gives me anxiety because I’m like, “What if you can’t deliver?” Where do you find the confidence that you just, you can show up, and maybe you haven’t even looked at the notes yet and you can just dive in and you know you’re going to nail it? Because I feel like for me, I may lack that confidence or question whether or not I can show up and deliver on the spot. Maybe I need three hours to really think about it and let it sit. Or do you just kind of do it and it always works out?

Laura: I’ll tell you something as where do I get the confidence. I, let’s say I have a crisis of confidence almost before every single client.

Kira: That makes me feel better.

Laura: Whether … I mean if their stuff is really terrible, I know I can make a difference very easily. But if their stuff is mediocre to really good I get a little freaked out and I’m like, “What if I can’t make it any better than what they have,” or, “What if I don’t come up with any ideas,” or … I have all kinds of doubts like that. But once we jump in there’s almost always something that we come up with together and that makes them really happy. No one has ever said like, “That didn’t work for me. Can we do a redo,” or, “Can I have my money back?” There have been a couple of times where like by midway through they’re like, “Yeah, I don’t know. I guess … I don’t know. I’m wondering how we can use this hour. I’d really, just, I really need a great tag line,” or something, where you can feel them having doubts about what they’ve spent. But almost always then the ideas start kicking in and sometimes how by the end we’ve got something great.

Rob: It seems like a really collaborative process though.

Laura: Yes.

Rob: There’s a lot of back and forth between you and your clients.

Laura: A lot. I mean there’s sometimes where after a little bit they’ll buy a whole package, like the six hour package and we’ll work together for an hour or two and then I’ll say, “Okay, I’ve got it. From here I can write the rest of this stuff for you and just hand it to you.” But usually I come up with the best stuff even if they’re not doing much by hearing their feedback and saying, “Oh yeah, that’s exact … I love that line.” Or, “That’s how I would say it.” I really like that constant input of them reacting and saying, “Oh, I love that,” or “Hmm, I don’t think I would say that word.”

Rob: Interesting. So that’s how you do the power hour. We actually noted in our Facebook group that we’re going to be talking to you today and somebody said, “Hey, ask how she makes the daily thing work,” where you’re doing one web page for $4,000. I think people were just surprised. That seems like a really big amount for a single page. How do you sell that to people?

Laura: Yeah, I mean some people do get sticker shock because there are great copywriters out there with packages for way less, like I’ll do your whole site for $2,000 or $1,000. I mean usually once somebody works with me, and I encourage them to work with me for a power hour, or if it’s somebody who’s like, “Hey, can we have a conversation about how we might work together?” I usually charge for that, like buy a half hour and we’ll also come up with some copy for you. But I don’t really like to waste my time having those conversations for free. I prefer that they invest.

Once they do they usually want more. They see how much we get done. They see how long it takes to write something good, especially if we’re doing a power hour. They see like, “Oh okay.” It’s not like I’m super slow. They see that it takes time to write something really high quality and to come up with the exact right words and then they’re willing to spend more to have more of that and to get the whole page done. But I’ve raised my prices pretty gradually over time.

Kira: Well, I was just going to ask you, I think for other copywriters, especially new copywriters, we look at you and we’re like, “This is amazing, and this is where we could go potentially,” if you do the work, and I think it’s inspiring. But I imagine, like you said, you didn’t start out charging that amount. So how, what was the path for you as far as rising rates to you? Just was it a gut feeling? Did you kind of plan it out like every year you raise rates? What was that path like?

Laura: I did not plan it out. It is pretty much about how booked I am, like how frequently the booking requests are coming in, whether people are sort of fighting for my time. So if the demand is high and I’m starting to feel like I should be charging more, like I’ve gotten faster or better or I’m getting higher quality clients who are making way more money, getting way more ROI from the work that we’re doing, that’s when I raise my rates. I’d say I haven’t raised them every year. I raise them maybe every one and a half years, sometimes every two years.

I did have a point last year where I raised my rates because it was a situation like that. I was super booked and I was getting, I was starting to feel a little cocky. I was like, I’m just, I’m remembering now like this friend of my friend when I was sleeping over in seventh grade, or seventh or eighth grade and her friend was there too. She was like lying on the floor. Oh, guess who likes me now. And annoying me so much. But I was getting a little bit like that at some point last year, like, “Ugh, guess who wants to work with me now,” and I raised my rates, and I had a little bit of a freak out in December.

I haven’t talked about this. I’ll probably blog about it, but last, a year ago, last December, suddenly nobody booked me. It was the whole month. It was like, I kept checking my forms in the back end, I kept sending them to myself, test forms. I’m like, “Nope, it’s coming through.” Nothing was happening. I don’t know whether that was because I raised my rates and people were mad, or it was just a fluke, or I hadn’t been blogging enough, but I’d been blogging a bit. This year everything was fine. I still don’t know whether it’s that people got used to my rates or it was just a fluke last December and my pool of clients like just dropped off and were busy with other things. There can be scary moments when you raise your rates. It’s not always that everybody is thrilled. Yeah, so it’s a risk.

Rob: Interesting. I mean obviously raising rates is one of those things that every writer wants to do, but the fear that, “Well, is this the last client I’m ever going to work with, because I went from, you know, 150 an hour to 250 an hour.” That’s a really big jump at least percentage wise. Yeah, I can see that as being sort of not only scary but hard to do it from a practical standpoint.

Laura: Yeah. On the other hand, if you’re good and you know you’re good and people are loving the stuff that you do and you have great testimonials and great work to show, there will always be people willing to pay for great writing or there are always people willing to pay for a website that’s amazing, or a sales page that brings in money. They’re always willing, people are willing to pay for that, especially if they are making good return on those things. Or they consider those a luxury worth paying for. Even if they don’t have a blooming business and don’t even need to and they’ve got the money. Sometimes they’re willing to pay for it. Just out a sort of point of pride. Like look at my amazing website.

Kira: We interrupt this interview for a very special announcement.

Rob: The Copywriter Club has our first sponsor. It’s Airstory. Before we get into what Airstory does for writers, we just wanted to share that this is actually a sponsorship we went after. We actually approached Airstory because we like the tool so much and said, “Hey, would you guys like to sponsor the show,” and we were thrilled when Joanna said yes, that they would like to. Kira, you’ve played around a little bit with the tool. How would you use it as you create the sales pages that you work on?

Kira: Recently I used it with a fellow copywriter. We were working on a sales page together. It’s a great tool to use with team members, fellow collaborators. You’re able to kind of piece the cards together with different sections of copy. Maybe you have a card for objections, or for pain points, for key benefits, and you can kind of piece it together and create a sales page in an easy to use environment with a collaborator. It beats kind of jumping into Google Docs. My Google Docs usually look like a disaster by the time I’m done with them and I have a hard time keeping track of all the content I need. So Airstory has been a great way to stay organized which is a challenge for me at times.

Rob: Airstory has this beautiful interface. It works really well. It connects with Slack and Evernote, Typeform, even Gmail. If you want to learn more about Airstory, go to airstory.co/club to join and start your first project.

In your experience, you’ve been at this for a little while, and obviously you’re seeing writers that aren’t progressing the same way that you are. What do you think they’re doing wrong? What are the mistakes they’re making?

Laura: Interesting. I think that maybe they’re following the rules a little too much, just following what everybody, what the crowd is doing, so writing the same old posts about like, I don’t know, what’s a typical copywriting tip?

Rob: Seven headlines that always get a response or …

Laura: Exactly. Yep, exactly. I think that they might be doing too much of that and it doesn’t set them apart. It’s possible they’re not using testimonials to the best effect. I think testimonials are a big deal and my business for sure grew and I was able to raise my rates one … I didn’t use to have any testimonials on my site. I think I had a little, like one of those sidebar widgets that rotates the testimonials and that was it. When I redesigned I put big ones across my site.

I think people sometimes don’t get the best testimonials, copywriters included. I’ve seen a lot of testimonials that say, for instance if it were for me, like, “I just got off the phone with Laura Belgray. Working with her was a dream. We had the best time. I feel confident and excited to see what happens with my copy.” Rather than, “Since working with Laura Belgray my conversions have gone up, X% people comment on my website all the time and say they must work with me and they’ve been hiring me even to do keynotes.” That’s the kind of testimonials that you want, something with real results.

I think another mistake is copying what other people are doing. Everyone seems to have the same copy and the same style these days. There are a bunch of copywriters who do the sassy like, “Hey, girl hey” kind of topic. “Hey gorgeous, don’t let them bitches get you down,” or like, “Dear beautiful soul goddess. You have wonderful gifts to share. Your value is incredible. You’re brilliant at what you do but nobody knows about it. And do you feel,” bla, bla, bla. Like they do such army issue kind of stuff and I think everyone’s looking at each other’s papers too much.

Kira: I’m just wondering Laura how you stay on top of your game. Like as far as business and copywriting, there are numerous courses you can take, or do any masterminds, or whatever. How do you do it in your business so that you know you have your edge?

Laura: For me the more clients I work with, the better I am, the more different kinds of clients and all that. I do, I do take courses now and then. I like to see how different people are teaching. I like to see what other people are recommending. I’ve taken a bunch of sales page writing courses because everyone has their different way of putting it together and that’s been interesting.

I would say I could do a lot more to stay on top of my game, like learn the art of Facebook ads. There are a lot of people out there who manage Facebook ads and say, “I’ll do your Facebook ads for you,” but they’re not great copywriters. I think if more copywriters knew really how those things worked, that would be a great thing to offer. I just haven’t had the time, but if I were really staying on top of my game I would do that. So learning, just staying on top of what people are doing to bring in leads. But really it’s just practice. For me, staying on top of my game means creating more, writing more blog posts, being more productive and prolific, and always putting stuff out there to market myself. Because there have been times like that, that dry spell last December.

Then there’s one time that I promoted B-School. It was like several years ago, but I got, I as an affiliate I got one sign up. I put out a ton of emails and got one sign up. The connection between those two things, these are times when I had been cocky and sort of resting on my laurels and not putting out a lot of material, not a lot of product. You got to remember. You’ve always got to be marketing, even when things are busy, even when you feel like you’ve got as much work as you can handle. It is really important to keep in touch with your list and not ghost them. I mean, because there were times when I ghosted my list and that’s what led to my one sign up for B-School because I started hitting them with all these, all these B-School emails and they’re like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You don’t talk to us for all this time and you’re like, ‘Hey, want to buy this?’ No.” So I got tons of unsubscribes and no sign ups. You have to keep in touch with people.

That does not mean that if you’ve fallen off that you should come back with a, “Sorry, I’ve been gone,” email. A pay post, I think they’re so dumb. It’s not that everyone notices you’ve been gone. They really don’t until you point it out. It is okay to slide back in. Just slide back in, be like, “Hey.” It’s like you left the party for three hours. You can come back in. Don’t be like, “Hey, sorry everybody, I had to go home and feed my cat and I had a quick Tinder date.” You just slide back in.

Kira: What if you’ve never emailed your list? Do you just kind of just start not say anything about it? Do you just…

Rob: Kira is asking for a friend here. This is …

Kira: I’m asking for a friend named Kira.

Laura: Never emailed your list. Then I think you might make a joke of it. Let me remind you who I am. You may have to do that and say, like, “Here’s why you shouldn’t go away,” so like, “Here’s why you shouldn’t click unsubscribe. I’m actually here.” Create a bunch of posts so you know it’s not going to happen again and say, “Here’s what I’ve got coming up for you, if you stick around.”

Rob: It’s good advice.

Laura: Yeah. I think that you should do that. I’ve had the same freebie up with my Five Secrets to Non-Sucky Copy, since 2009 I think or 2010. Six years one opt-in. Just recently I created a new opt-in, a tackle your tag line cheat sheet, which people were really excited about. I’m going to make this lead magnet, so I created an auto sequence, an autoresponder sequence for it, which I had never done for the first one. All, my entire list was made up from the first opt-in. I’d never sent them an autoresponder sequence. The tackle your tag line sequence, like the people subscribed to that. I got such great response from it and I feel like they’re true fans now.

Like I’m such a dummy. Why didn’t I do that for the first thing. I’ve pretty much, I just created a kind of a replica sequence but with adjustments for the other opt-in, and now people who are signing up for it, for my original one, are getting added to that funnel and I feel so good about it. It really helps to have a sequence set up for your new people. You don’t even have to worry about it. You don’t have to worry, “Oh they signed up and they’ve never heard from me.” They’ve signed up and they’ve heard from me like five or so times and so now you know they’re in there and they know who you are.

Rob: One of the things I think you do really well Laura is, you stand out, you’re different, you use different language than most people. Everybody has a course, or everybody has a a blog, everybody has their sequences. One thing you do that I haven’t seen anybody else do is, you are doing looks like what’s going to be an annual trip to Italy for a writing workshop. Tell us a little bit about that and tell us are you going to allow your dad to go this year? The poor guy. I’m asking for your dad.

Laura: What guy? The ego of him. I did an Italy trip. We’ll get to my dad. Last year I had a client among all the random clients I have, a client named Bianca who has a site called italianfix.com. She runs trips to Italy, Cinque Terre and Sicily. She runs little tours there and has also created a wonderful guide like an insider’s guide for those places. She hired me to help her with the sales page for a workshop she was doing with another person. It was an Instagram branding workshop they were collaborating together on. When we were working on the sales page she said, “Would you ever want to do a copywriting workshop kind of like this?” I’d be like, “I don’t … I just kind of like, I don’t want to take care of a bunch of people and arrange a whole like their stay and they’ll …” She went, “No, no, no. I do all that stuff. You just show up and teach.” That was my dream scenario because I-

Rob: Yeah, sign me up.

Laura: Sign me up, perfect, and promote it to my list. I was like, “I don’t know. Are people going to come to this?” Well they did. I think we were hoping like for 15 people and we got 30.

Kira: Oh wow.

Laura: And change. So it worked out great. It was a wonderful time. We had a blast. I taught in this ancient castle at the top of Riomaggiore overlooking the sea. We had this beautiful patio. We had snacks made by a local café. It was just an ideal, like a beautiful time. I can’t imagine anything better, like any better place to learn writing and get excited about writing than in a little seaside town in Italy as a group of white people. I am doing it again.

But my father repeatedly would say to me. He would call me. He’d post on Facebook. He would say, “Laura,” because I’d made it for women only. He’d say, “I’m hoping that you will reconsider your exclusive gender policy.” “Why dad? I think it’s great that it’s all women and they’d feel comfortable. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.” He’s like, “So that I can teach it.” Like, “Well dad, why, why should you teach it and not me?” He’s like, “Laura, you know that I was a freelance writer during the ‘60s, expert at creating compelling headlines and articles.” “No, dad.” I mean I thought he was joking at first. My mom told me he was not joking, that he kept complaining to her, that I have an [inaudible 00:34:02] teach my course.

Rob: To your father.

Laura: I am sure that he’s going to try again this year and the answer is still no.

Rob: Well maybe your dad and I can just go hang out in Cinque Terre while you guys do the workshop. We can just do some beachcombing or sit in the patio, whatever.

Laura: Rob, you don’t know what you’re getting into.

Rob: I like Italy so I would have that going for me at least.

Laura: Do you like 83 year old men with a walker who …

Rob: Sounds an awful lot like my dad.

Laura: And are you Jewish, because if not you’re in for, you’ve got another thing coming, because he’ll tell you are.

Rob: I have a feeling we’d get along just great.

Laura: Oh, you’re on. You can babysit my dad.

Rob: It’s good.

Laura: It’s a deal.

Kira: Laura, I want to ask you how you manage it all? Like what happens behind the scenes of the business? Do you have a team, do you have a VA? I mean, if you had a typical day, what would that look like with these projects?

Laura: I am a big loser. I do not. I don’t have a VA. I’ve never had an assistant. I have never had a team. I’ve never wanted to have a team, which is a little bit limiting because everyone says, “You want to make the big seven figures, you need a team.” I haven’t hit that mark yet, and I would love to, but I don’t want a team. I still feel. Maybe it’s a little bit of magical thinking, but I do think that I can get there without a team.

What I have is one person who she’s way higher level than a VA. She’s the person who, Michelle Martello of Minima Designs. She’s not looking for other clients so don’t ask, but she is like my go to kind of tech person. I have her on retainer. She updates my site for me. Sometimes she’ll create graphics. She gives me little ninja tricks to up conversions. She likes to test things. She’s like, “Hey, let’s, instead of that opt-in form that we have on your home page, let’s make it just a button that they click and that pops up, makes the opt-in pop up and I think that’ll increase conversions.” She’s just great with that geeky. She geeks out on that stuff and she’s fabulous to have on a retainer. To me that’s better than an assistant because I’d answer my own emails anyway.

I’d say what happens behind the scenes on a typical day, I wake up around 9:00 or 10:00, depending on when I’ve gone to bed and how I’ve slept. I spend a couple hours tooling around. I go out, do my errands. I need a lot of cushion time in the morning. Clients don’t start until noon. Then I just have a couple of clients a day, like one or two. Sometimes I’ll have a double power hour or sometimes it’s one hour. Then sometimes I’ll have work for a TV client that is due, and that’s a whole other arm of my business still. I get it done usually by 6:00 and then I go to my dance class or I take a walk. That’s like really the whole my day.

I have two days a week blocked off, Mondays and Fridays, where I almost never accept clients. They’re not available on my booking form. Those days are for doing creative work like writing a blog post or for doing kind of marketing, housekeeping, catching up on emails, all the stuff that never gets done when I have clients and feel too kind of tapped out creatively. Was that a good peek inside the kimono?

Kira: Yeah, I want to have your … I want to have that support like you have the geeky assistant or whatever you called her or referred to as. I think that’s really key and smart.

Laura: Yeah, she’s amazing. I’ve really lucked out. I met her through … You mentioned masterminds before. I met her through Marie Forleo’s mastermind that Marie was doing. I was the copy mentor for her groups after the years following my own. I was in her mastermind, the years following. I was the copy mentor. I met Michelle. She was in the 2012 group I believe.

I’ve met amazing people through those masterminds whether being in the mastermind itself or being the copy mentor, incredible people. I think that’s where you … Those masterminds are worth paying for just for the people that you meet and that you come up with in the business world. Amy Porterfield is a dear friend of mine from that mastermind, from the year that I did it, and a lot of other people that you’ve probably heard of. Those, it really is, like if you get into a quality mastermind I would say, “Don’t worry so much. Do worry about the results you’re going to get from it. But one result that is worth paying for on its own is the relationships that you make.”

Rob: Yeah, I agree. That’s been my exact experience with masterminds, it’s the people every bit as much as the information, more likely more so. Laura, my last question for you would be, if you could talk to Laura Belgray of just starting out, she hasn’t really started writing yet, what advice would you give her?

Laura: Practically none because I’m so glad. I’m so glad I didn’t know the rules of the business or I would’ve followed them all. But I would say, like build your list, focus on your list from the very beginning, have an autoresponder sequence. Keep it for real. That is one thing I wish I’d known to do, and I’m so glad that Marie Forleo told me to build my list. I would never have done that. I would never have had an opt-in. I thought it was cheesy.

I would say do some of the things that you think are cheesy, even though they’re cheesy. The things that everyone says works and that you really need to do, there will be other people who say you don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do. Some of them you do. You do need. You do need people to opt-in to your list. Email contact is so important. I think it’s all about emails. Yeah, I would say, put your energy there. Put your energy on building the list and keeping in touch with them in a way that makes them love you and want to work with you, and do gather testim …

Oh, here’s one thing I would tell my copywriter self. Always, and I keep forgetting this, take a screenshot of your clients. Like if your client has something up, before that you’re working on, take a screenshot of the before. A lot of them will change it right on the spot and you’ll say, “Uh, do you still have, like, can I find it in archive.org?” “No, it’s not there.” “Do you have a copy of it?” “No, I don’t. Unfortunately I changed all the copy.” You want those befores and afters. Or it can be killer. So collect…

Kira: Oh such a great idea, and I just took notes and circled email sequence. I think this is just the push probably a lot of us need, including my friend, to start emailing.

Laura: Oh your friend. I would love to meet.

Kira: The friend, she’s a mess.

Laura: I relate to her though. I understand. I really do. Oh, and on Chrome Awesome Screenshot is the app. It’s great. It is great, because sometimes it’s the only way to capture a whole long scrolling page.

Kira: Well Laura, thank you for hanging out with us and sharing the behind the scenes look into your business. We really appreciate it. We should ask where can we find you online?

Laura: Please come find me at talkingshrimp.com. Explore the blog. You can contact me through there. Yeah, get in touch through the contact form just to say hi. I would love that and enjoy.

Rob: Thanks Laura. You’ve been so generous with your time and advice. We really appreciate it.

Laura: Thank you. I love talking to you guys. We can do it again.

Kira: Woo-hoo.

Rob: You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive, available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, and full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.

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2 comments On TCC Podcast 15: Laura Belgray

  • LOVE this interview!! You guys are SO fun and listening to Laura is always aha-inducing. LOVE the ‘tip’ about focusing on our own papers and not reading everyone else’s all the time… Like Laura, that’s one of the reasons I love not having a niche as such and writing for a range of clients too!!

    • Prerna, we’re thrilled to hear how much you like the show. I’m firmly in the camp of “choose a niche” but that’s not the right decision for everyone. And Laura proves that you can be very successful without narrowing the clients you work with. -rob

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