This is the 45th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast and we’re joined by online business expert Zach Spuckler. As you listen, you’ll see that Zach’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious—and it quickly becomes clear why we booked him for the show. Zach shares how he started his first business at age 12, started a food blog and a few other businesses before deciding he needed to work in a business that he loved. In the interview Zach talks about:
• how he knew it was time to do “something new” in his business
• how he built his “authority” as an expert (and what you should do to build yours)
• his process to ensure he focuses on the most important things first
• his approach to discipline and showing up every day
• what his idea of great copy is (we think it’s spot on), and
• how he uses funnels in his business
Zach also shares his thoughts about what beginning copywriters can do to get their businesses off the ground and the massive difference a team and systems can make for your business. To hear it all, simply click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
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’re invited to join the club for episode 45 as we chat with online business strategist Zach Spuckler about starting a business from scratch with no list and no prospects, how to create Facebook ads and funnels that work, the critical part discipline plays in a successful business and how we can think bigger about our businesses.
Rob: Hey Zach, Kira!
Kira: How’s it going? Welcome Zach.
Zach: Thanks for having me.
Rob: Yeah, it’s great to have you here.
Zach: I am excited to be here.
Kira: Zach, I think a great place to start is with your story especially for people or copywriters who don’t know who you are and what you’re all about.
Zach: Absolutely. So my story interestingly enough starts about 10 years ago when I was about 12 years old. The only reason I remember that it starts when I was 12 is I made my first dollar online and I had to use my dad’s social security number because I wasn’t actually old enough to get paid yet. So really he made my first dollar online. I just cashed the check and did the work so to speak.
Over the last 10 years, I started and I’ve done everything online that you can imagine in terms of dabbling. I don’t have extensive knowledge of everything, but if you can make a buck doing it online, there’s a good chance I’ve tried it. Whether it’s website flipping. I did some affiliate marketing through Amazon for a while. I used to run some niche sites. I was in a direct sales company that I still get a tiny almost not worth mentioning commission check for most weeks. I’ve done food blogging and digital courses in the marketing space and out of the marketing space.
I’ll fast forward to save time a little bit, but about a year and a half, two years ago, I was running a food blog. I kind of hit this wall where I loved my food blog so much. It was starting to generate revenue. People were coming to me asking me about how to get more reach on their blog. We’ve got Pinterest pins now that are up to 10,000, 20,000 re-pins. We were getting featured in some major publications in the food blogging space. It was all really fine and dandy but I started to kind of burnout. The best way I can explain it is if you’ve ever had a hobby that somebody offers to pay for and suddenly it becomes like no fun at all. A lot of us it’s like you’re really great at baking and then you decide that you’re going to sell your cupcakes and then suddenly you hate the kitchen. Well that kind of happened to me.
Like quite literally I started to despise the kitchen. I didn’t like my food blog. I wrote this post that I was going to take a three month hiatus. I really went soul searching at that time if you will to say, “What really lights me up?” At that point, I’d been online so to speak for about seven and a half, eight years which is a really long time to be in an industry like this. Digital marketing and studying marketing and I said, “What has really been pushing me to keep going? Why am I even still here?” Because by all outside perspective, the food blog was going great. It was starting to earn money but I wasn’t happy. So what was I doing wrong?
I really evaluated what had been making me so excited about the prospect of being online. I realized from day one it had been the marketing. With my niche sites, it had been studying SEO. In direct sales, it was being one of the first people in my downline to kind of dabble with Facebook ads to land prospects. When I was building out websites, it was getting really clear on creating up back link webs to drive traffic through websites and rank higher in Google. You can’t really do that anymore. It doesn’t work. I realize that learning all these intricate systems and strategies is what was really getting me excited.
So fast forward to the start of my current company Heart, Soul and Hustle, we started it and you said something in the intro that I’d love to touch on which is like we started with no list, no massive success in the industry, no million dollar company to speak to, and my core vision was I know enough about marketing. I’ve made money in several spaces, industries, strategies. So I’m going to teach people what I know, how I know from where I am now. From day one, I’m just going to be really transparent about how I’m doing, what my results look like and people who naturally gravitate towards me will and people who think I’m not a big enough expert or I haven’t done it long enough or just don’t resonate with me fully, they’ll kind of repel away.
So about two years ago, we launched our first digital course. It was on Periscope. I was doing Facebook ad management. I was getting about $1,000 a week in clients. We launched that course saying, “I can’t teach you much but I can teach you how I’ve been making $1,000 a week for a month.” That snowballed into our first six figure course. Then I got to talk more about my passion which is Facebook ads. We’ve released that course which I have to double check the stats but I believe that’s our second six figure course or it might be the third one.
Then as people started to attract to me, we released another course on launching with five day challenges which is something that I just love. That has become our third six figure course. So we’ve got these courses out there. That kind of led me to where I am today where I’ve just always operated from let’s have fun. Let’s be transparent and now I get to do cool stuff like beyond podcasts and do launches and get paid to travel and all that good stuff.
Rob: Zach, we’d definitely want to get into all of that. You mentioned the self-evaluation that you went through and asking yourself “What are the things that really lit you up?” Can you walk us through that process just a little bit more deeply? What were the questions you were asking yourself or what did that look like as you went through that process? I imagine a lot of people reached that same point in their business even copywriters. It’s like, “I don’t enjoy this anymore.” I’m just really curious what that evaluation really look like from your standpoint.
Zach: The big thing was I just stepped back and said, “Clearly I’m not lit up or happy doing …” At the time, it was my food blog. For anybody listening, one post on the food blog is anywhere from a 12 to 20 hour commitment. That’s assuming you get the recipe down pretty quick. You have to photograph it and you have to develop the recipe. You have to taste test it. If you’re like really hard core which I was not but if you’re really hard core, you have taste testers and you seek out features. Then once you publish it, then the real work starts because you have to go out and you have to request features and submit your photos and create your pins.
Basically, I was doing a lot of stuff that I was doing and I was saying, “What is the means to the end? Why am I doing this? What do I love?” Really, in this process, there’s things that kind of light you up. I think the best analogy is like people who love running which I still don’t get. I don’t get how you can love running, but I do like to run which is funny. I like to go out for a run. Like probably later in the day today I’ll go for a run. The prospect of running is not thrilling to me. I don’t think it’s thrilling to a lot of people, but then there’s those weirdos who love it. Hopefully, you’re not one of them and offended, but maybe you are. It’s cool.
Like, what is it about running that I love? Well I like feeling good afterwards. I like getting outside. I like the feel of the sun on my face. It’s that same parallel in whatever you’re doing right now. You don’t hate everything you do. There are facets that you don’t like. It’s just like people who work a nine to five even. They’re like, “I don’t like my job. I don’t like my job.” I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I know who are like, “I feel so isolated.” I’m like, “Well you didn’t hate your job. You hated the work at your job but you love the sense of community. So you need to find a way to duplicate that in what you’re doing now.”
That’s basically what I did. What is lighting me up? Really, it was people asking me about traffic. People asking me about Pinterest. Being able to run Facebook ads, doing marketing campaigns and promotions. So I just got really clear, “How I do more of that in my business?” For me, the answer was I just start talking about it more and being completely honest. I never wanted to be one of those people whose like “I’m a six figure coach because I read 30 blog posts.” I didn’t want to be that guy but I knew what I knew. So I spoke from that. I said, “What do I really love about my current business? What do I not love about my current business? What’s the means to the end?”
Yeah, sometimes it’s not going to be fun. Not everybody wants to go for a run every day, but what are the facets that I do love that I can kind of hold onto to push me through? It really came down to Facebook ads. I could do Facebook ads all day every day. We have an ads manager who’s always pinging because I’m in there setting up ads myself because I just love it. Writing really fun copy and emails in marketing. That’s always lit me up and then creating. I just really love the process of creating and that’s why I clung to food blogging so long because it really was this incredible creative outlet. Once I found a happy medium of those which was a lot of trial and error and really two years of work, it led me to where I am now. So super longwinded answer.
Kira: No, I love that. So you said, you started with no list, no prospects and then you mentioned at least three courses, three six figure courses. So can you connect the dots for us? How did you go from no list, no prospects to really making a name for yourself? At least I heard of you when you blew up with periscope and I felt like everyone was talking about you then. What were you doing behind the scenes to gain that authority status?
Zach: I mean it was a lot of work quite honestly. Back when I was using periscope as my primary marketing strategy, it was a lot of organic work. I would just show up and I think that’s really the biggest thing. I was going live on a livestream platform anywhere from two to three times a day for almost an entire year. I was just so consistent. I showed up all the time. I was constantly giving value. I was quite honestly constantly selling which I think is something people get kind of afraid of. I was always in sales mode. I personally love selling. That for me is what really kind of put me on the map was showing up.
I also got really strategic about developing relationships. I’ve got to be on Amy Porterfield’s podcast a couple of times who’s relatively big in my industry. It’s funny the first time I met Amy, I had already been on her show. I got to meet her in person at a mastermind event. She said, “I don’t even know how we connected.” I remember telling her like, “I know exactly how we connected. It was very intentional.” I think that it’s that happy medium of showing up. I was really consistent and I still to this day strive to be consistent in wherever my content is.
Then second, I’m really strategic about what I want. What people don’t know is I got to be on Amy’s show twice now but the first time I was on it, the process from like that initial I should be on the show about this to actually being on the show to the actual release day was like a nine month process. It didn’t just happen. Our attention span is lower than ever. I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole but I think that there’s this perception that with online marketing you put it out there, you get paid, you move on. Some of the stuff I’ve worked on is like months and months of strategizing and process where the public view is like a 7 to 10 day window. So I just really leaned into that and that really help me scale up.
Rob: I really want to talk about that more because it feels to me like a lot of copywriters just sort of let work come to them and let things happen. They’re not strategic about their businesses. Can we dig into what it takes to be strategic? I know the answer to that question is really a 12 hour seminar and not a podcast. To the extent that we can, can we bullet this down just a little bit? What does that take to be strategic about a business?
Zach: Totally. I think that I’ve got a really simple answer because it’s something we started doing which is getting super clear on what the one thing you want right now is and checking that everything you do is moving you towards that. It almost comes down to what you need to be doing for that one big thing that’s the next project. My first year in business, I did whatever it took, whenever it took and that was great for generating growth and business, but it wasn’t super sustainable. I don’t show up on livestreaming two to three times a day now.
So it’s like I don’t want to give the advice of like go out and show up every day, because I can tell you from personal experience it’s not sustainable. I also know that the advice of like go spend money on ads is also not real advice, because quite frankly I can go spend $20,000 on a launch now but it took me two and a half years to get there. My first ever launch we spend $100 in ads. So I’ve gotten to play both sides of the spectrum. Everything you do in your business cost one of your two most valuable resource, time or money.
Generally, the more you have of one, the less you need of the other. So when it comes to showing up really consistently and being strategic, what we started doing is every month we have one focus. I’m allowed to have a little bit of shiny object syndrome. It’s internet marketing. I love to take courses. Last weekend, I locked myself in my bedroom and learned about Instagram even though it’s really not a major focus of ours for the next quarter, but it’s fun and I like it.
I say, “What is our big focus for the next month?” Usually I know when our next launch is coming up. I ask every day, “Am I moving towards that in some capacity?” So right now we just wrapped up our focus for last month. This month was twofold. Content development and the release of a beta course. So everything I did … I was actually traveling. I was in New York, in California. I didn’t actually have a lot of time to work the first half of May. So any time I opened up my computer, I said, “What am I doing right now to move us towards this beta launch and to move us towards our upcoming launch?”
If I’m not doing something every day to do that, I’m not being strategic. I’m falling into like the shoulds. Like, “Oh I should be posting on Facebook. I should be doing this. I should be doing that.” So I’ve removed that. There are no more shoulds. The only thing I need to be doing is something that moves me towards my ultimate goal. It’s not this whole 12 month vision and where do you want your company to be in three years. Is that information important? Yeah. Do we know that? Yeah, but like, “Where you want to be in a month and three months? What are you actually focusing on?”
Most people say, “I want more money and I want to grow my list.” Which like, “Yeah me too.” What do you actually want to create? Is it a course? Is it more clients? Once you know what you need, the funny thing is you know what it takes. Information is no longer the commodity it used to be. It’s not hard to figure out what to do. Might be hard to figure out how to do it. It might be challenging to do it. Like if you say, “I want to land 10 clients this month.” You know how you landed your last client, do that 10 more times. That’s what we do. That’s how I really get focused.
Then that really opens the door to “If I don’t want to work, that’s okay because I’m only focusing on one thing at a time. Either I’m working towards this goal or I’m not.” It’s not I’m working or I’m not and it really changes the conversation at least for me and my team.
Kira: So Zach I view you as this trifecta of awesome. I’m saying that because you’re like this powerhouse because you can write great copy. Maybe you don’t call yourself a copywriter and you’re not working with clients and copy but you’re an incredible copywriter. Then you get strategy and then you have this big great personality and I feel like that’s a powerhouse in social media. And that’s why you’re successful in social media. Where do you think copywriters today should really focus their attention in building their brand, building their business in social media? Many of us just tend to shy away from it or we just get so overwhelmed with client work that we’re just like, “Okay. I don’t have time for it.”
Zach: I love this question because over the last two to three months I’ve been paying attention to my audience. I’ve been to some live events. The feedback from my audience has been like, “You’re always online. You’re always on social media.” Which is so funny because I’m never on social media lately. I’m never online. I feel like my Facebook page is ghost town. I’ve just started posting daily on Instagram. At the time of recording this, it’s been four days. So we’ll see how long that lasts. I think the big thing is like, where do you focus on social media? I hate this answer because it really sounds like almost snarky which I am, so not horrible but it’s like wherever they are. That’s where you should be focusing. To take it into less of the abstract we hear everywhere.
You hear that all the time. Like, “Go where the customers are. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t fish in the small pond. Go into the ocean and find your customers. They’re out there.” I think the real key thing is like figure out who you want to work with and where they are to begin with. So for me, I work with digital entrepreneurs. Mostly they have info products. Sometimes I work with exclusively coaches but the mass majority, 80% of them, I research my audience.
They’re women. They’re usually 25 to 40. They usually have one to two kids or they’re thinking about having a kid and they love Facebook and Instagram. They don’t necessarily love Facebook, but they do want to run Facebook ads so they’re there and they’re in Facebook groups. So that’s number one. Like get really clear on where they are.
Number two, how do I speak to them in a way that disrupts their attention? Whether we like it or not, social media is crowded. It’s loud. There are ton of people that do what we do so you have to stand out. For me, that really comes down to paying attention to what people are doing and saying something different. So we just did this major promo with James Wedmore and what we did in and I told James during the promo and I told some of the people in it a little tongue-in-cheek like “I watched what you were all talking about and I talked about something else.”
Just being different now even in crowded space helps you stand out. So again to solidify for example everybody was talking about how James help them make all this money and how their business has grown and launch numbers and stats which was all great. I talk about that stuff all the time. During this promo, I said, “My customers are out there. They’re listening. What did James create for me that these people also want that no one’s talking about?” It was time and freedom. So most of my emails during this promo focused on creating time, freedom, creating happiness, creating the ability to breathe in my life again and we actually got emails back of people saying like, “Oh my gosh, everyone is talking about money. You’re not.”
We had one email that still stands out to me. She said, “This is the first email I’ve gotten this week that’s not talking about money in the marketing space. I was totally checked out, but I decided to buy the program.” That’s what we want to do.
The last step is, how do you turn up the effectiveness? Which can be Facebook ads. It could be email marketing. It could be visibility marketing. It could be hashtags on Instagram. At the end of the day, once you know who you want to talk to and what they want, how you want to stand out, all you have to do is quite literally put yourself in front of them. So it comes down to, how do I put myself in front of my customers? Don’t complicate it. Don’t overthink it. It’s usually something like the right hashtags, getting really strategic with Facebook ads and then all you have to do is go learn how to do that.
So many people get caught up in like, “How do I get in front of my people?” It doesn’t matter how you in front of them until you know what you want to say then you get in front of them. Then really it’s just kind of I know it sounds funny and it’s easy for me to say where I am now but having done it for two years, it’s just semantics at that point. How do I want people to receive this message I know will resonate with them? That’s how we go into actively attracting people in.
Rob: Zach, as I listen to you talk about all of this, it seems to me that there’s a theme that runs through all of it and that is discipline. You’re very disciplined in the very things that you do during the day. I believe you’re disciplined about how you eat. You’re disciplined in a lot of the things that you do. I wonder, is that something that comes natural to you or do you have a process or a secret for bringing discipline into your daily life?
Zach: It’s funny because I hear this all the time. People are like, “You’re so disciplined or you’re so focused. You’re so consistent.” I recently recorded a podcast about how … I’m not really even that consistent. In fact, the last two months I’ve missed like two or three podcasts. It’s just funny. So I think that there is this perception of discipline that everybody tends to think that everybody else is more disciplined than them. I have certain elements of discipline. I’m vegan. I’ve been vegan for four years. I don’t eat anything non-vegan, but I would be totally lying to you if I told you I didn’t go to Chipotle last night. I totally skip out on my run. I could stand to lose a good solid 10, 15 pounds right now.
I share that because there’s this perception first off that like everybody is way more disciplined. It was the most fascinating phenomenon I saw over the last couple months. So I’ve been traveling and I really for whatever reason picked up on it. To answer the question, I promise there’s a point to why I’m saying this. It’s not about being consistent or being disciplined, it’s about making sure that your business is disciplined. There’s this really clear distinction here which is like this week I’ve actually been lazy. I didn’t really logon very much, but when I was logged on, I was really strategic about what I was doing.
So it’s not about, how do I show up every day and be the best I can be? It’s, how do I make sure my business shows up every day? So for me that’s number one Facebook ads. We spend a couple hundred bucks a day, every single day putting our business in front of new people. Whether I turn on my computer or not, my business is going in front of new people. I think that that’s just super, super vital. Something we like to say is, “If Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, gets the flu tomorrow, Amazon doesn’t shut down for four days. Our business shouldn’t either.” So we get that consistency in there.
Number two, it’s just been getting really clear on because I don’t want to work as much, I’ve been very kind of transparent with my audience that I’m on a journey to work less. I can impact my audience and impact my students without working 80 hours a week. I’ve done it. It’s not fun. It doesn’t light me up. So when I am online, I have to make sure that I’m doing things that are really impactful and put out that perception that I’m being really consistent. So I’ve only worked about 8 to 10 hours this week. We’re recording this on a Thursday, but today I have to work like eight hour days. So I don’t think it’s too, too glamorous.
Earlier this week, I said, “What’s our focus right now?” We’re still working on our automated webinar from last month because I overestimated or underestimated how long it would take to write email. I said, “What can we do to make this work and make this profitable?” So we set up a webinar. We’re hosting it tonight and that’s all I’ve been focusing on. Every time you turn on my computer is, “Are we getting 400 people into this webinar?” Because I need to record it for my automation.
Even though my big focus this month is automating my webinar, we also tap into this last little piece here which is leveraging. I have to give credit to James Wedmore who really started pushing me to think about leveraging our content. Even though my focus right now is getting this automated webinar out, we’re trying to turn it into like a $5,000 to $10,000 quick little promo that builds my list, gets my name out there, sells my product and it’s moving us towards the ultimate goal of these months which is organic content and an automated webinar.
So when you bring those pieces together of getting your business consistent, getting your focus consistent and leveraging whatever you put out there, that is what really puts that perception of discipline out there. That’s what lets me take a whole Monday off, not really check in but to send one email and still have people saying like, “You’re so disclaimed. You’re so checked in.” I totally wish I was more disciplined than I am, but my business has the systems and structures in place to be super disciplined whether I am or not.
Kira: I want to shift gears. You mentioned writing emails for this launch. Like I said I’ve read your copy. I love reading your copy. So what is your writing process look like? Do you bring in copywriters or are you typically writing all of your content on your own?
Zach: 80% to 90% of the time I’m writing my own copy and it’s not because I don’t love copywriters. It’s because I tend to be a last minute kind of person. Kira, I think we worked together before and I remember I was like, “Hey, are you busy this week?” That’s totally …
Kira: I think you were like, “Wait, what about tomorrow?”
Zach: Yeah. That’s usually my style. So that’s part of the reason I don’t work with a ton of copywriters, but when we’re prepping for a big launch or something massive, I absolutely bring in a copywriter. When we write long form blog post, I work with a copy editor. So I write an 8,000 word post kind of in my style and she comes through and tweaks the copy. I usually ask for like a four to eight hour turnaround. Again, totally unreasonable but I found really great people who don’t mind my need to do everything yesterday. The process, it came really naturally to me because I got an undergraduate degree. I went to master’s program.
I got an undergraduate degree in exercise science where when you write a paper for an exercise science class or a health class that is pretty much as structured as it’s going to get if you will. Like APA format. Never use the passive voice. Always be direct. Make sure you reference your sources. I never really liked that. I’ve always been a decent writer because I’m relatively creative, but I didn’t like that. What I realized was great copy is kind of two-pronged if you will. I’m not a copywriter so maybe there’s some theory or more elaboration that you can speak to Kira about this.
For me, it comes down to, what is my audience saying? What are their words? Who cares what I think, what are their words? What is their jargon? What do they think of all of this stuff? Combined with being relatable and writing the way you talk. Most people are really effective conversational communicators. You may not be a persuasive writer. You might not be able to like sell from the stage, but I don’t even think that copy … in my experience comes down to that. Is that important?
Totally but it’s being a good conversationalist and being able to imagine how people are thinking and receiving your text. So we survey my audience constantly. We’re always asking questions. What you want to know? How you want to know? What’s the best way to know? We read through those survey responses. When I’m in the process of working on copy, I am immersing myself and really listening to what my audience is saying.
Right now, we just did a founding member launch of a list building course which is like also known as a beta launch. We’ve got our first round of people in. In our first email to them for a webinar they registered for we sold it, we said, “What is your biggest struggle with list building? What would it look like in your business if list building worked? What do we have to cover on this webinar?” I told my audience and I’m not afraid to share this is we literally let them write the sales and copy script. If I know what their struggle is, I say, “Hey, are you struggling with this?” I know what they want. “Hey, do you want this?” I know how they want or what they perceive they need to know and those are part of the program I sell. The copywriting doesn’t sell.
I just have to show up, step into my personality because your personality naturally attracts or repels. I’m a very loud … I have a big personality like you said. Some people cannot stand it. I know because I read the comments on my Facebook ads. If I show up with that personality, I speak to the way those people speak what transmission they want. I think the rest kind of takes care of itself. I’m not afraid to say like I know some of the copywriting tricks. I know how to remove passive voice. I know the power of three.
I know how to write really good hooks, but that stuff just comes with studying in time and paying attention to your audience. Really, if you can get good at telling stories, get good at speaking in your own natural voice and then just kind of listen and regurgitate what people want, copywriting to me is almost formulaic in just whatever they say, say it back to them with what they want to hear.
Kira: Yeah. I think you pretty much nailed it Zach. I love the fact that you survey your audience consistently to get that feedback. I think that’s a lot of what it is it’s putting up the mirror and letting them see what they want and giving it to them. I think that’s perfect.
Rob: Yeah. We see a lot of beginning copywriters I think ask about, “Hey, what are your favorite power words or what are the tricks to writing a good headline?” It’s just not about that stuff. It’s all about listening to your customers.
Rob: So Zach, as we talk about copywriting and what you do, I’m really curious, what does a typical funnel look like in your business?
Zach: A typical funnel in our business right now is actually very simple. That’s why I love talking about funnels. If I’m being totally transparent and I’ve shared this with my audience. Our funnels are profitable but not at the profit level we want. However, we launch enough and do enough promos that if we’re building our list, we’re building our business. I’m super okay to say that.
A typical funnel for us is just about five to seven emails and may be some content. It really, really is that simple. Our stuff sells very passively. I would say our more intensive funnels are actually our launches. That’s where we lean on for a lot of revenue even though we have passive revenue coming in all the time. Here is what like a typical funnel looks like that really helps us stand out from the industry. Number one, we lead with value and we probably don’t even mention our course upfront. I can’t tell you how often people are like, “I can’t find your course on your website.” Maybe that’s a detriment to me, maybe not but I’m leading with my content, not my products. So that the first thing.
Second thing is we actually give like valuable advice outside of the industry. So I’m in the marketing space. I’ll just stick with this. I’ve opted into like a million funnels. Everybody teaches Facebook ads so do I so I guess I’m part of everybody. You opt in and they’re like, “Here’s my five tips for Facebook ads and you should have really great copy and really great images.” Then three days later, they’re like, “Buy my course where I teach you great copy and great images.” Hopefully, nobody listening has this but like no offense I know I need great copy and great images. You’re not sharing anything with me.
In our funnel, we do something like one of our emails is how we lowered our lead cost 50% which is literally here step-by-step how to set up a warm audience. That’s something I can charge for but I don’t. It’s free inside my funnel. One is like troubleshooting your Facebook ads. It’s a step-by-step process we walk through. We teach it way more in depth inside my course but I’m teaching the basics of troubleshooting because people opting in for my Facebook ads they’re not like, “Wow! Maybe I’ll run a Facebook ad this week.” They’ve been doing it for three to six months.
Again, I’ve listened and studied. They’ve been doing it for a while maybe three to six months, maybe even longer and it’s not working. They want someone to say, “Hey, let’s fix your ads.” I’m giving them little taste of what it’s like to work with me, what information I have and then putting that all out there for free. Then I am an unapologetic salesperson because my big thing is listen I run a business. Generally speaking, businesses make money. I really love traveling. If I get first-class upgrade, I’m all about that life because I usually don’t pay retail. I try to upgrade at the counter. So that means my business runs on revenue. Not afraid to tell people that.
So when I sell, I sell. I sell like it’s my job because it is my job. I’m going to write a really powerful sales email. I’m going to speak to their problems. I’m going to talk their stuff. I think that one little thing to understand about funnels is I think people have this perception that a funnel is like I’m warming them up and then they trust me so I don’t have to pitch them. They’re just going to buy from me. I’m like, “I wish. I wish that was the case.” No, you’re warming them up, proving your value and then you’re saying, “If you like me and you like my value, now it’s time to pay me.”
Just this little insight to anybody who’s kind of like, “Well, how do you sell or where do you sell?” You sell like it’s your job. A lot of times people are like, “Well if I sell too hard in my email, people will unsubscribe or people will leave or what if I’m too aggressive?” One thing to think about, I won’t name any specific industries but there’s some very, very niche industries. Not in online marketing, not in sales but just think about some of the niche markets. There’s literally a market out there for people who are professional woodworkers that need high quality equipment.
Every market has a very niche feeling. The people that you pay attention to in your niche whether it’s small or big are the ones that are paying you. Let’s just stick with this example. If you’re in that woodworking space and your selling $500 carving equipment, who cares what the hobbyist woodworker thinks about your prices or your strategy. So if we transfer that over to our industry, if people aren’t paying you, stop caring about their opinion on your sales mechanisms if you’re growing your business. Now if you’re not selling anything and people are like, “You’re a crappy salesperson.”
Maybe it’s time to listen. If you’re even selling just a handful or you’re getting sales, you have to sell. People aren’t excited to whip out their wallet and hand you a credit card. You have to get them excited. You to show them the value. So our funnels are like, “Here’s where to click. Here’s what to buy. Here’s why you should buy. Here’s case studies. Here’s retargeting Facebook ads.”
Once they go through our system and we know they’re the right customer, we’re going to do everything in our power to get them to click that buy button because I believe in my products. I believe in my industry. I know that people are not excited to spend money for no reason. That’s my job to get them excited and show them the potential of working with me. It’s more of a high level answer about our funnels but it really comes down to really great value, really great content and then selling just like you would to someone who doesn’t know you well.
Rob: I love that.
Kira: There are oftentimes business owners who are like, “Well maybe I’m sending too many emails during my launch. Maybe I’m hitting them too hard on the cart close day.” I think you said it best. It’s your job to sell it. If you’re not selling it, no one else will. Zach, I want to pivot again because you paid attention. You listened. You study. You are a student on the online marketing world. What have you noticed that copywriters maybe are not doing as well or maybe there’s some opportunities that you’re just like, “Why aren’t copywriters jumping on that?”? From your position, what have you noticed and observed that may be helpful to all of our listeners?
Zach: For me, I think there’s a big trend and it’s not just in copywriting. It’s kind of worldly. I’m going to date myself a little bit here in the opposite way. So like predate myself. I don’t know. You all realize how young I am. So the millennial generation is really coming into their own so to speak. They are starting to have majority control of the money, of the economy, of the way things are and in my industry the way that this perpetuates is like really for the last 5 to 10 years being the six figure anything or the $100 days like that was where it was. That’s what people wanted to hear.
Now I don’t lean so heavily on my revenue numbers. Do I talk about them? Yeah. I teach business to business owners. People care about revenue but there’s this massive shift in the world that the things that were important to us 10 years ago are not the same things that are important anymore. The smart copywriters I think are starting to tune into that. I’ve really noticed this as I’ve started going to more events. So I’ll go bring this full circle.
For my industry, I’m not hearing things as much like, “I want to make X number of dollars per month.” I don’t see that anymore. I see it, but I only see it from educators. I don’t tend to see it from my audience. Internally, people are not banging on my door saying, “Teach me how to make $10,000 a month Zach.” They don’t care. What I’m seeing are people saying things like, “I want to work less. I want to spend time with my kids. I want to enjoy my life more. I feel like I’m tied to my computer. I hate my job.”
I know as the business owner that if I can make them more money, I solve all their problems, but they don’t think that money is their problem. They think their situation is their problem. In my space where I see a lot of copywriters not necessarily going wrong but for whatever reason, I still see a ton of people like, “I’m a six figure this. I’m a six figure that. Six, seven figures.” Those are great as a qualifier. On every single sales page you’re going to find it says, “I work with six and seven figure business owners.” Because it’s a qualifier, but it’s not my headline. It’s not my sexy hook. It’s not my big pitch.
I have a program called the five figure challenge where the lead-in is your first $10,000 launch but it’s not even really about the money. The reason that program does so well is there’s this perception that a $10,000 launch creates that’s stuff. We actually studied my audience. How much money do they think it takes to hit the numbers they want to hit? The big shift I think needs to be is reevaluating everything.
If you’re in the health and wellness space, saying blast your belly fat, oh my gosh it makes me want to die because that doesn’t work anymore. People don’t want to blast their belly fat. You know what they want to do? They want to feel good. They want to look confident. Whether we like it or not, the media has changed in the last 10 to 15 years. You don’t have to like it but there is now a perception of how people look. Thirty years ago, someone in California didn’t really know how someone looked in Ohio for most of their life unless they traveled. Now we know. We have this perception of beauty in LA and this perception of beauty in the Midwest. I’m like an Ohio 10 and a LA four and that’s okay. I know that about myself.
We have to realize that as the world changes, every subsequent industry shifts. If you’re still talking to them like quite frankly the radio ads you used to hear 10 to 15 years ago, that’s where you’re going wrong. Sexy headlines that worked 10 years ago, didn’t come from some guy who wrote a really great book with the sexiest headlines. It came from this is what the industry response to at the time and here are some really sexy headlines. Blast belly fat, make six figures, lose the baby weight. That stuff doesn’t resonate the way it did 10 or 15 years ago. It’s not a copy problem. It’s not a sales problems. It’s not an industry problem. It’s a fact that all audiences evolve.
So to me, the biggest thing is … I promise I would bring it full circle is stop relying on what other copywriters say works. Stop relying on other stuff you see marketers and copywriters and people that run business in your industry doing and saying and start talking like the people you want to sell to, start talking with and to the people who actually you want to work with and that’s where you’re marketing messages come from. People say to us like, “Oh my gosh, you’re inside my head.” I’m like, “Well yeah, but we asked you what you wanted to know. It’s not unintentional.” I can’t tell you how often someone goes, “This came at just the right time.” We’re like, “Yeah of course it did. We listened to what you wanted.”
Kira: We surveyed you last week.
Zach: Yes. We surveyed you last week. So crazy that we came up with this offer a week later that’s perfectly speaks to what you asked for. Crazy but it is really intentional. It’s kind of shutting down the noise of the industry and tuning into the noise of your audience.
Rob: So Zach, if I am just starting out in the online world or maybe I’ve been doing something for two or three years but my list is small, I haven’t really been getting any traction. What kinds of things would you recommend that I would start doing to start growing my business to the point where it feels successful to me?
Zach: Doing the stuff that you don’t really want to do but you know you should.
Rob: I want to do that stuff.
Zach: Yeah I know. I promise. I don’t like to be too like [inaudible 00:39:10] because then people are like, “Yeah thank so much for that sage wisdom.” So to give you like an actual tangible story that I think will explain the work is when I first started my current business I didn’t have a lot of money. I was a college student. I was going for a master’s program. My student loans were a little nuts. Basically, I didn’t have a ton of money. I said, “What am I good at that I can generate some revenue?” I was a VA for the first three months of my business. I used that money to run Facebook ads and buy software I needed, but I wasn’t like public or running around. I’m an assistant while I build my business.
Here’s what I learned from doing that. I was basically a service-based business in addition to building a company. So I justify this as like I had a part-time job and then had a second part time job where I was freelancing which is what most college students do. Not the freelancing just having two jobs. Then I was building my business. What I did was every day I went into like a Facebook group and anybody looking for a VA got a message from me to the point where I was sending like 10 to 15 messages a day. I was responding to posts. I was building connections. I was getting on the phone. I was doing whatever it took to get one more client to run my Facebook ads.
For those that are copywriters, like guess what? There are people out there right now they’re like looking for a copywriter. I see it every day. People are like, “I need a copywriter. I need this. I need that.” I’m not sitting here saying like, “Undercut your competition or be the first one to respond.” Just be the one to respond. Back to what we talked about earlier. There’s this perception that everyone is disciplined. If you reach out to like 10 people a day who you know need copy help and they’re explicitly asking for it, trust me, they’re out there. They’re posting in Facebook groups. They’re posting on their wall. They’re asking really leading questions on their page. Reach out to people and you will actually start getting those clients. You will start closing people.
The reality is there’s nothing glamorous about sending an email 10 times a day that says, “Hey, I saw you’re interested in a copywriter. Can you tell me more about what you’re looking for?” Nothing glamorous about that, but it works. If that’s where you are right now, that’s where you start right now. The second thing is I would get really clear on who you want to serve. I’m going to be totally honest. I struggle with the whole ideal client avatar thing. It still doesn’t work for me. You can tell when I talk about my audience, I’m like, “They’re women 25 to 40.” I am totally like the analytical demographic side of thing. I don’t have Barb who’s a stay-at-home mom, who drives her Lexus and does … I don’t know her life story.
Kira: It could be me because I do fit into it. I am that woman.
Zach: I don’t necessarily jive with that side of things. If I know kind of who I want to talk to, for me I tend to attract women like I said 25 to 40. They have a much different mindset than men 25 to 40 than even male business owners. I tend to attract mostly women because I have a softer style. I’m a little loud and outspoken and that’s what people like. That’s what attracts women into my audience. So once you clear on who you want to talk to, start creating content and I don’t mean blogs. I don’t mean Facebook lives. I don’t mean podcasts. I mean any content, whatever resonates with you. They want to know who you are before they pick up the phone.
I can’t tell you how many times somebody is like, “I’ve been watching you for six months and now I’m ready to hire you.” People are watching so you need to start building up that repertoire. So start figuring out who you want to work with and then start creating content that serves them. Then the third thing I would do is get clear on what is the big project, what are you working towards and how can you take really calculated steps to move you towards that every single day. So for me, I started my business in February of 2015, my current business and I knew we wanted a Facebook ads course. That was really my number one priority at the time.
Even though we launched the Periscope first, even though we did all this stuff first, we launched a Facebook ads course October November of that year. Everything we did was building towards that. I was talking about Facebook ads and creating content. The periscope course was a byproduct of talking about Facebook ads on periscope. I was just very strategically paying attention, getting clear on my audience, listening to what they wanted and making sure that everything was moving towards the ultimate goal which was again that Facebook ads course and leaving my master’s program and quitting my job. So revenue and a Facebook ads course and I just moved myself towards that every single day with building my list, getting clear on my launch, studying launch strategies, studying my audience.
So if you’re just getting started, just to kind of recap because that was a lot that I threw out there. Number one, do the stuff that other people won’t do even if it’s boring and sucks because it will make you stand out. There was this fascinating stat I read from a website designer. They reached out to 10 top companies in their industry and only two responded. So think about how easy it really is to stand out in any industry. So do hard work, do the outreach, kind of go nose to the grindstone to get yourself out there. Then get clear on your audience and start developing content that speaks to them, because you will attract people. Yes, you are to market that content.
Yes, you can run Facebook ads, but if you start bogging yourself down with like, “How do I get my content in front of people?” You’ve already lost it. You know how to get your content in front of people. Run an ad. Post it on Instagram. Ask people in your industry to share it. Do the stuff that other people won’t do. Again, recurring theme. Then finally get clear on where you want to go. Are you like moving towards building a course? You don’t have to know your five year plan. I wish I knew where I was going to be in five years, but unfortunately I don’t. I do know where I want to be in three months for the business and I’m actively moving towards that.
So whether you want a 10 client a month retainer, whether you want to launch your first course, whether you want to land one corporate client every month, get super clear on what that is because then you’re no longer just chasing business and creating content. You’re actively moving towards a business goal and that’s how real businesses operate. Quarterly goals, key and performance indicators like start bringing that into it and start switching to a business operation model.
Kira: This is such great advice Zach. You’ve mentioned a couple of times throughout this conversation. We and like your team and I know you didn’t start with the team. So I want to hear a little bit about the evolution of your business and even like the burnout that you had early on. Whatever you’re willing to share and how you’ve used that to really grow a team and be more strategic about how you run your business especially because so many copywriters are solo and they’ve not build the team. They’re not sure how to do that.
Zach: What’s really funny is I put up a lot of resistance to hiring my first virtual assistant. I told myself this story that I couldn’t hire a VA until I made six figures and I didn’t which I highly recommend against. It’s like the biggest mistake I made. That’s what kind of painted into a corner of working 80 hours a week. We hear this on every show so I know I’m giving this advice and then everyone is going to go out and wait to hire one anyway, but I can sincerely say like hiring a VA was like a total game changer for me. I think everybody has to go through like some kind of experience that proves to them they need a team. So I’ll tell you my story real quick about when we really started to dramatically shift away.
So about a year ago, I took a vacation to Mexico with my family. My mom, my stepdad got married a few years ago. This was like a delayed honeymoon. We were waiting for the whole family to go so I was there with my stepsister and my mom and my dad. We were all there. I start having panic attacks. I had no idea why. I didn’t know why I was having panic attacks at the time but I just struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. I was good. I had been healthy. I had been working out and suddenly I left the country and was out of my element and not working.
My anxiety was like full blown awful. I came back. I ended up a kind of being out of commission for a month. Now luckily we really started to have some systems in place that made it less noticeable. The people around me knew something was up. Then I was just totally unplugged, not feeling it, in between bouts of like “I’m not going to get up today. I’m just going to stay in bed and like watch sad movies all day or like happy movies but like still cry. So that makes it a sad movie.” I was just like, “I am not feeling this.”
I had this kind of moment where I realized back to what I said about I was basically running my company as me. Since I was out of commission, the company was out of commission. The whole point of starting this business for most of us is like freedom. Having to struggle with panic attacks and I’m trying get back on my anxiety medication, dealing with all of this crap while going, “What the heck is the business doing?” was not working. From that point, we really pivoted. By we, I mean I made the executive decision that everything we do needs to be systematizable or outsourceable to the point that if I can only show up to work for half hour like the company can’t tank. Like that is not sustainable.
What that required was a couple of things. Number one, it required me being clear about what the business needed even if it felt uncomfortable. That came down to a designer. We need a designer. There are times where I don’t have time to create a book or I’m not in the mood to create a workbook and I need a designer because that is the freedom lifestyle to me. We brought in a podcast editor which we kind of had from day one. So that’s not really fair but he is a lifesaver. I ended up promoting my VA to a manager and bringing a VA under her which worked out really, really well, because later this week, my manager is going on maternity leave. We brought in someone to train under her so we don’t need to panic that the team structure is changing a little bit.
We got really clear on like what is the stuff that has to happen. That kind comes back again to this discipline conversation which is I actually don’t work that much but I am really strategic when I get on. So the team now focuses on a really key project. We have the really clear marker of the stuff that has to go out on a regular basis. So we’ve always got one project like I said right now it’s our automated webinar. Then next week it’ll be kind of our upcoming launch. Then we have standing kind of systems that happen every week. So somebody goes into my inbox every day and checks my email. That happens whether I’m online or not.
Every Monday, a podcast goes out. It’s published at my site. That is not done by me. That is managed by my team. We do outreach with all of my clients and scheduling. Every single one of my clients knows my VA and my manager by name because I don’t do scheduling. Number one, I’m bad at scheduling. Number two, it’s not sustainable for me to be doing all my scheduling. So my team was number one like this act of faith. Like, “Hey, I’m just going to do it. We’re going to hire these people. We’re going to see what happens.”
Then secondary was we all align with a vision. We do a bimonthly team meeting. We meet twice a month. I have it this afternoon. We talk about the focus of the company. We check in with what everybody is working on and then we have sustainable systems in place. I think this was a great question, because how am I disciplined? Well I’m not discipline, the company and the management of my team is really disciplined. How do you really do that? The big question, the question I had is like, how do you actually get a team that does that? How do you get these people in place? How do you systematize?
Something that nobody really wants to in my experience admit is like you go through growing pains. You struggle. You miss a deadline. You miss a podcast. Your email doesn’t go out. You have a pissed off client one week. You train your team to see the gaps and evaluate the gaps. Now my team operates like a freaking machine where I’m like, “Oh sorry guys, I just realized I was offline for three days. Thanks for holding down the fort.” That took again about a year. It really took a year to get to this point where I can disappear for three days and my team understands and they know. We’ve had very candid conversations about where I am. So yeah. Does that answer the question? I was little longwinded on that one.
Kira: Yes, thank you. That was incredible. Thank you.
Rob: Definitely does. Listening, I got to get myself a team so I can disappear for a few weeks. So Zach, if people want to connect with you online, where can they find you? I think you might have a launch coming up if people are interested.
Zach: Absolutely. So the best place to connect with me is over at heartsoulhustle.com. We got a little start here button in the corner so you can pick what you’re working on whether it’s Facebook ads or listen to us over on the Heart, Soul and Hustle Podcast. We do have a really awesome launch coming up. I’ll be totally candid. We had a little project popup so we don’t know exactly what we’re launching next. What we’ll be focusing on is digital products.
So if you’re looking to either build your list or launch your products more effectively, the next thing we have coming out is pretty cool. So get yourself over to heartsoulhustle.com. Sign up for our free Facebook ads mini course, our Facebook ads workbook and when something fun happens, you will be the first to know. I’m really good at sales. So just know, if you download the freebie like you’re going to spend money.
Kira: Zach, thank you for your time. You’ve helped me rethink a lot of things in my business. So I’m sure that you’ve helped other copywriters who are listening as well. You know I’m a big fan so thank you.
Rob: Yes thanks.
Zach: Thanks so much for having me.
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