Welcome to the BiggerPockets business Podcast show number 8.
I would suggest start small you know, a lot of people look at this and they’re like Oh, my gosh, I have to know everything, I have to know how to write emails and ads and blogposts and you don’t have to know all of the things. So my suggestion is to start offering one of the things, so if you want to be a writer it might be writing blogposts. If you want to be a consultant it might be one type of consulting.
Welcome to a real world MBA school of hard knocks, we are offering. Entrepreneurs are revealing what is really takes to make it. When you are already in business or on your way there this show is for you, this show is BiggerPockets Business.
J: Hey there guys and girls, it’s J here, the co-host on the BiggerPockets Business Podcasts. I am here with my favorite person in the entire world Carol Scott. How are you doing today Carol Scott?
Carol: I’m good honey that just made me happy thank you.
J: Ah, it’s true.
Carol: You are the sweetest. I’m going to tell you it’s a good thing I’m your favorite person in the world because we’ve got a really, really long time in the car ahead of us.
J: Yes so we decided we’re moving down to Florida, we’ve mentioned that before but we realized the other day that because of the moving schedules all these moving companies take two weeks, up to two weeks to move our stuff from DC to Florida and,
Carol: Well it’s a really popular route in the summer. Who would have thought?
J: Yeah but not popular
Carol: Who would have thought?
J: But not popular enough that they can get us down there quickly. I order to get all of our stuff down there, in order to get there and not be out of pocket for up to two or three weeks, we have decided we’re going to rent a twenty six foot truck and drive our stuff down ourselves. So if you hear a story about some crazy twenty six foot truck driver on the highway messing up traffic over the next week or two, that’s probably me.
Carol: Oh my gosh, do not jinx us, that’s terrifying, seriously terrifying. It will all be alright, it will work out just fine.
J: It will.
Carol: At least we’ve got movers to load us and unload us. That would be the end of us, we would not survive that situation.
J: Yeah, we’ll be okay, we’ll see how the kids do on our sixteen hour car drive.
Carol: That will be adventure like always, this is another adventure.
J: Okay, let’s talk about our show today. On our show today we have a woman named Christina Gillick, she’s a professional copywriter. Now if you don’t know what copywriting is, she will explain what copywriting is. She will also explain what it’s not and she will explain how we can use copywriting to convert leads and sales in our businesses, and I don’t know about everybody listening but as a real estate investor or real estate investors, Carol and I use copywriting all the time to buy and sell our properties. So in this show Christina is going to tell us all about how we can use stories to help us sell. She’s going to reveal the single most important question that we as business owners and copywriters need to ask in order to write great copy and to also tell us a great way to also tell us how to practice our sales writing copy. If you are looking to become a professional copywriter yourself, we are going to cover that as well.
Carol: Also make sure you listen all the way to the very end, because you know what? Christina is going to give us her very, very best tip and I will tell you what, never in a million years would I have thought of it, it’s a really great one on how you can write better copy.
She’s also going to tell you some websites that you can check out if you want to see how the experts write.
J: Absolutely, now before we jump into the show, Carol and I really just want to honestly and sincerely thank everyone out there who is taking the time to review the show.
Carol: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
J: To rate the show, the ratings are fantastic, reviews are great and we appreciate all the feedback. So thank you for that and if you want to get more information about the show, if you want to find out the links about the show, make sure you check out the show notes at BiggerPockets.com/busshow8. That’s BiggerPockets.com/busshow8. Alrighty let’s jump into our episode with Christina Gillick.
Hey there Christina welcome to the show!
Christina: Hi, thank you, it’s great to be here. Thanks for coming out with us, I’m so excited to talk to all about copywriting.
J: Yes, so that’s what our show is about today. We’re going to talk about copywriting. Christina you are a professional copywriter. You’re an expert on copywriting. You have a successful copywriting business. Ah but before we jump into more about who you are and what your business is about, I would love to get a really important question out of the way for our listeners. What is copywriting and why is being a great copywriter so important for us as business owners?
Christina: Okay well, first I want to say what copywriting is not. So copywriting is not, it doesn’t mean that I help inventors protect their inventions against theft. It actually means that I write, w r i t e copy, and so it’s just all about writing, pen and paper, your computer, however you write, and if you think about everything you get in the mailbox. So fundraising letters, postcards from local businesses, anything that might come in your inbox, a copywriter wrote that and I’m talking about your actual physical box outside, even though I said inbox. Also to your email inbox, you know emails you get, things they want you to click to go to another page, sometimes they’re twenty pages long. All of those things a copywriter wrote.
They can also write brochures, catalogues, websites, emails, learning pages, social media ads, pretty much anything that convinces someone to take an action is copywriting, so it’s all about persuading the reader to act, such as making a purchase or signing up for something. And so a lot of times you will hear the words direct response copywriting and what that means is, that it’s copy that’s designed to get an immediate response. Just sign up right now, or buy right now and that’s considered direct response copywriting and that mostly what I do. And a lot of times people will call copywriting salesmanship in print. Basically that just means they are making a sale with written words instead of calling on the phone or going door to door.
Carol: Excellent. We have so many questions based on the interest. So thank you for setting the stage. But before we get to those questions, I would love to go back to the beginning so can you tell us about yourself and how you got into copywriting.
Christina: Sure so my first job after college was with a company that sold web design training online and I didn’t even really realize that selling training online was a thing. So I went to this job and that’s pretty much where I learned about online business and then later copywriting and so my boss at the time, he hired a freelance copywriter to come in and he came there and he talked about copywriting and marketing and just everything you would want to know for three days, he went through the business, and he was like these are the things you are doing wrong and these are the things you’re doing right and you can fix it. I just thought wow, that’s was amazing and also I learned a lot about his life. I’m not sure at the time how many children he had, I would say seven, so he’s up to eleven now and so he got to stay home with his kids and you know, they’re homed schooled and they had this just wonderful life and I said okay I want that. I don’t know what he’s doing but I’m going to do what he’s doing, and so I said to my boss would that okay if I go to this person and fine out, you know, what they’re doing. He said: Oh yeah sure and I didn’t really think about it at the time, but now looking back, he was probably like yeah you learn to do it, I won’t have to hire that guy to do it. You already work here so.
I asked the freelancer that he had asked to come in and I said how did you get started, would you teach me? What should I do? And he directed me to a training company that I went to and where I took their initial course. I don’t know if I’m allowed to promote them are say who they were.
Carol: It’s fine, whatever you’ve got, absolutely.
Christina: So it’s AWAI that stands for American writers and Artists. So I took their introductory course and that’s where I learned all about copywriting and persuasive copy and after that I took what I learned and became the staff copywriter for that job and I worked there probably two years, you know, learning and trying what I had learnt and I wound up writing their daily email, every day. I wrote multiple sales letters and webpages and things from there. Eventually I said I want my own thing. I want to wake up when I want to wake up. I don’t want to wake up to an alarm and by then I was having to commute because we had moved and it was taking me about an hour to get to work and I said I didn’t want to give up two hours a day to get there and get home and so I said I’m going to be self-employed.
So I started working with other clients on evenings and weekend and I did that maybe six to nine months and by then I was earning enough on evening and weekends to replace what I was earning full time. So at that time I made the leap, that’s what they say in the world where I learned copywriting. So I quit my job and in that first year, I think it was August, since I didn’t have a lot of time left in that year, I did replace my income that year and the first four years I was a copywriter I made $86 000,
Christina: then it’s gone up since then.
Carol: Congratulations to you, what a great inspirational story, that’s very nice. I love it.
J: So you had mentioned that there is at least one type of copywriting which is immediate response I think was the term you used, so can you tell us?
Christina: Direct response.
J: Direct response. So are there other types, I assume copywriting is great for getting people to do things like sign up for, provide an email or sign up for a mailing list. Then there are probably other types of copywriting that generate sale, that are basically a call to action. Are there other categories of copywriting? How do you segment copywriting based on what it’s trying to accomplish.
Christina: So a lot of writers, you will come across their websites, they will say I’m a content writer and a lot of people who go into that is they don’t really want to write sales. They don’t want to convince somebody to part with their money, you know, so they just want to write content. A lot of it’s for SEO, so you write things to get people to come to your website and you don’t necessarily ask them to take an action immediately, the goal is to get them to visit the website. I personally think all copies should be direct response, I think if you are going to take the time to write and publish a blogpost you might as well call an action at the end. The call to action is simply asking them to do something like sign up or comment below. A lot of blogposts will say comment below how you feel about this thing and so technically you are still asking for a response, even though it won’t generate income.
Carol: Okay so you are asking for some type of call to action in one way or another and that is kind of successful copywriting so I’m curious through your background and until you became a freelance copywriter I would assume a lot has changed with the internet and everything, and I think a lot of our listeners are probably, myself included, I did marketing, not good by any stretch of the imagination, writing back in the day. Kind of pre-internet stuff, would you say through the years, the rules of copywriting has changed along with the internet or is it just the same as it was before with a different twist? How would you say it’s kind of evolved?
Christina: So when I first started, when I first discovered it, it was kind of in this transition of just becoming everything online. So when I did the training course I actually got the physical course mailed out to me but I also got the online version. Within a couple of years nobody got the course mailed out to them. So it was just right at that transition period so I learned a lot of old school direct mail where they would send out like ten pages letters in the actual mail and say at the bottom if you are interested in this write back to us, here’s the reply card.
So that’s kind of what I learned and I took an additional course maybe six months later about web copy and that’s all about when you’re righting on the internet a lot of the stuff in there is the formatting. You don’t want to have giant chunks of paragraph because people are going to look at that and go ugh, I don’t have time for that.
You just want to have short snippets, bolded sections and stuff that’s in italics. So all of that stuff wasn’t, really didn’t seem as important when I learned about the print version. You would just make something in italics, bring attention to it. Where online it can have the effect to bring attention to it, but also could be for SEO. So there’s just some additional things when it comes to the reader online their attention span is shorter and want to get there more quickly and scan and stuff like that. So when you’re writing online you have a lot more breaking it up and making it easier to read.
J: Now you mentioned and this is a great stay way as I’ve been meaning to ask this question, you mentioned that ten page letter that you might get in the mail, back pre-internet when it was more physical mailing.
So I notice a lot of, I guess you can call them internet marketers or maybe it’s copywriters for the internet marketers, we see these landing pages that go on, and on, and on forever. You think you’ve got to a call to action and then they have more and then you get call to action and you get a video, then call to action and you get a video. These ridiculously long landing pages, as a consumer I don’t really like those but I’ve noticed that a lot of internet marketers, a lot of copywriters do that, those really tremendously long landing pages. Is that good copywriting? As copywriters ourselves when we’re doing this for our businesses, should we be focusing on really long sets of text or short snippets?
Christina: I would say that the length should never really be that much of a concern. So I always say you want to get enough information across to them to make a decision, but you don’t want to overwhelm them or just go off the hinges about things. So for a landing page and I typically use the word landing page for regeneration usually, so they go there and it says: Hey we will give you this free ebook if you give us your name and email address. So for those I try to say as short as it can possibly be to convince them to give their email address. So if someone is going to give you their email address, they probably don’t need ten pages to convince them of why they would give you their email address.
But if you want them to spend $100 you might need ten pages to convince them to spend the R100 so it depends on what you are selling and what you are asking them to do. So for a landing page like you’re talking about where they just generate a lead I would say that it should be a headline and a couple of paragraphs and then the form.
You want all of that to be, that was traditionally called above the fold, which in the newspapers was folded on the front, but on the internet it is before the scroll. So you want them to see that immediately, as soon as the page loads, before they would scroll down. So something to grab their attention, the headline, a little bit of explanation of what they’re getting. It could be a video, if it’s going to be a video, then form to opt in, and then everything else after that if you want them to do it.
I’m also going to talk about sales pages. So let’s say they opt in and then you send them an email and say okay now there’s this thing for you to buy, go here to read about this thing to buy. So then they would go to that page and that would be that thing that’s ten pages long. That has to overcome any objections that they might have and answer any questions they might have, give any proof that what you are saying is true.
So if you, at the top of the page I’m going to show you how to make $50 this weekend, that might be pretty easy and it is believable so you wouldn’t need a ton of copy. But if you’re going to say I will show you how to make $50,000 this weekend, they’re probably not going to believe you. You’re going to need a lot of copy, a lot of proof, a lot of testimonials. You know a lot of stories for a lot of people, all the things you need to back that up and make that argument that yes, you will teach them how to make $50,000 in the weekend.
Carol: Excellent. I’m curious, you’re talking about all the different examples of, let’s use that $50,000 in a weekend example. We’re talking about all the content, all the testimonials, all the videos. How do you go about figuring really, I know you mentioned already that you said it just depends on what that call to action is, depending upon how convincing it needs to be. How much I guess, what is the right balance of, I don’t know if you can necessarily break it down into a percentage, but how much of it should be written versus how much of it should be videos versus how much should be backed up with testimonials, kind of? Do you have kind of a formula that you go into when you’re copywriting?
Christina: Well, so a lot of, you’ll see it’s called a VSL, a video sales letter and a lot of companies use just that. So they, you know, you go to the webpage and it’s nothing but a video. You can’t rewind, you can’t fast forward. All you can do is watch the video and sometimes they’ll be 45 minutes long and that’s, you know, a lot of clients and a lot of people they say it’s very effective. Sometimes if you click the back button it will load the actual sales letter. So you know, if you’re like: Oh I don’t like video and you press the back button, then it will say, oh wait here’s the copy you can read. So typically in the majority of the things I do and the majority of what I write for clients, it’s either video or a sales letter.
Sometimes they’ll do, you know, video mailed out like through emails, like, hey, we recorded this video for you. And then that video will just be short and sweet to try and get them to read the entire sales letter. The only time I’ve really included video throughout the sales letter is if it’s examples. So if they’re going to get some sort of training and you want to show them an example of what it’s going to look like, the format, you know, that kind of thing, you could include a small, and then sometimes also people will do like a welcome, but I kind of prefer just to like do the headline and get right into it without the video.
Carol: Okay. I like that. Okay, so go ahead J.
J: So I was going to ask, you mentioned earlier about sometimes for certain types of copy, you need, for any copy, you need to overcome objections, but for certain types of copy it’s going to be more objections you’re going have to overcome. Would you say, and again, as Carol said, I don’t know how you break this into percentages, but in typical copy, how much are you spending on trying to promote the benefits of what you’re selling or trying to provide versus overcoming objections? How do you kind of figure out the right percentages and breakdown there?
Christina: Okay, so what we’re talking about here is a lot of longer copy. So for people who are listening, who might, who’re just going to write postcard. A lot of this doesn’t apply. This is like if you’re writing a ten page letter, then you would go into this stuff. So what I do for objections is it kind of comes not last, but maybe somewhere in the middle of my process. So what I will do is I’ll kind of draft up what I’m going to say and I’ll say, you know, here’s the headline. And then the lead is generally, it’s a story at the beginning that kind of gets people into the body of the sales letter. So your headline might be, you know, I can show you how to turn $10 into $1,000 practically overnight.
It’s kind of scammy sounding so you’d have to have a lot of proof. But so let’s say that’s your headline, then your first paragraph, so your lead would start talking about maybe somebody who’s done that and here’s a story of this person and I’m going to show you exactly what they did. So you kind of draw them in with here’s what you’re going to learn, I’m going to tell you exactly what this person did. Then you would get into the point where you say, here’s how I’m going to tell you, it’s a course, you know, it’s ninety-five pages, or it’s ten videos, or I’m going to hold your hand, or whatever the course is. You kind of outline all of what they’re going to get and how they’re going to learn it. Then usually after that you have your guarantee.
Well you might have your pitch of what it costs, you know, it’s only $200 but if you act now, it’s only $99 and then you’d have your guarantee and then a little close at the end. Then throughout that, so once you kind of have that drafted up, of here’s what I’m going to say and here’s how it’s going to flow, I go back through and I read it. Anywhere where I think the person might be like, no pfft, like you’re fibbing, that’s not true, there’s no way, that’s where I’d put an objection. So like let’s say, you know, you’re going along and you say, and then you know, Paul took his investment and he doubled it. Then everybody reading it is like pfft, but I couldn’t do that. Well at that point you would say, and you can do it too and here’s how.
So you just kind of, you don’t tell them they have any objection. You don’t really bring up the objection. You just keep writing and just smoothly address what you think may be in their head.
J: That’s interesting, so you’re basically having a conversation throughout the copy.
J: That’s the copy.
Christina: Yeah, so it’s like writing a letter to a friend. So if you think about that, you’re going to convince your friend or your mom or somebody similar to buy this thing and you’re going to sit down, you’re going to write them a letter and you’re going to tell them all the reasons why they would want this thing, and then also prove it. You know, any claims you make, you prove those claims. Then any stories you can share that prove that what you say is true and then ask for the sale. Then give them risk reduction and guarantee and close.
You always want to have a PS, not entirely sure why, now because these two, the reason you would include a PS is because people would immediately go to that sometimes to say, well what’s all this about?
Carol: No kidding, that’d be the default people jump to the end to the PS. No so.
Christina: But now they have to scroll sometimes twenty pages to get to that. So it’s probably not as important as it used to be. But you know, your PS can be something like, and wait, if you act now, you’ll also get this thing or don’t forget that thing I said about this other thing, it’s super important and it makes this really easy. You know those kinds of things.
Carol: Excellent. I want to talk a lot more about audience because you mentioned that and how that is really important consideration. But before we do that, I want to kind of recap what you said because I’m formulating all of this in my mind as you’re talking through it and I’m envisioning it very visually, thanks to how you painted this picture. So it sounds like to recap:
Overcoming the objections,
Call to action
is kind of the framework.
Carol: That sounded about right. Awesome, thank you for painting that picture, that’s really clear.
Christina: Sure. Yeah, you’ll hear other things like picture proof promise. That basically means like you paint the picture for them, you prove it and then you promise the thing and that’s where you ask for the sale. So there’s a lot of different outlines I guess depending on what you’re writing. Some things if your audience is familiar with you already, you don’t have to have as much proof. So like if you’re going to a cold market and you’re saying: Hey, here’s this thing you’ve never heard of me before, then you have to tell them who you are and why you can be believed. If you’re going to somebody that they sign up for your list, they hear from you every day, then you don’t have to tell them who you are because they already know. So that kind of, you know, depending on the, the letter will get longer, the less that they know about you and the colder they are, I guess the longer the letter gets.
Carol: Yeah, selling yourself, in addition to the product. Right, that’s another whole element going in there. So let’s go back to the different audiences. You mentioned that audience consideration is a big part of your copywriting strategy. So how do you go about identifying who those audiences are or do audiences, different audiences react differently to different types of copy? What do you have to take into consideration from that standpoint?
Christina: Okay. So before you write anything really I like to, it will depend on your business. So some people in their business, they may already know who their target market is, you know, they may say, oh yeah, our target market is men between 20 and 30 and they love fast cars and going to movies or whatever. Right? And they know exactly who that person is. But if you don’t know who it is or you’re starting a new company, like when we started comfy earrings, I was like, I assumed it would be women, but you know I was wrong, so we have a lot of other people that like them too. So sometimes it’s going to be brainstorming and trying to, you know, figure out who your target market is. And then sometimes you’re just going to know.
So things you want to ask yourself and kind of find out is, you know, are they women or men? Are they young or old? Are they technology savvy or not? Because if you’re trying to sell them something that has to do with technology, you might need a lot more proof for somebody who’s like, no, I just don’t know about technology, to believe that you’re going to be able to help them. But it also goes beyond the list of data points that you typically hear. So you also want to consider what are their fears and desires and wishes and hopes and dreams, like what do they think about all day long? Then like a lot of times I hear this question, what keeps them up at night? A lot of famous copywriters say that that’s what you should write about. What are they worried about or looking forward to or planning. So knowing these things and understanding like the actual people that you’re talking to, is very important before writing anything.
Like if you were going to write a letter to your best friend, it’s going to be a lot different than a letter you’re going to write to your mom. So just you know, knowing who that person is and the kind of words they would use and the kinds of things that they would say, it’s just going to help a lot when you start to write rather than just starting from nothing.
So I have some suggestions if you’re not familiar with your audience and you want to get to know them better, some research suggestions I use are:
One thing is, you can explore forums or anywhere where people ask questions, Twitter, those kinds of things where people are asking questions about the industry or market. Then people are answering and replying and you want to look at both the questions and the answers and you’ll start to see patterns of the things that people say, the phrasing they use.
Another place is Amazon, a product or a book or a course. You could go to Amazon and read the reviews there, and a lot of times you’ll find the way that people phrase things. But also, they’ll say: Oh, well I wish it would’ve included this or I wish it would’ve had that. So if you’re making a course about real estate that would be a good place to learn other things to add.
Another thing is that you can call and talk to these people. So if you started a business and you have a few customers, you can call those customers and ask them, you know, why did they come to you? What do they like about it? What don’t they like? And you can use their answers to kind of, you know, do more. Then another thing is you could create a folks focus group. So this could be, if it’s a super, super new product, it could be friends and family. You do want to keep in mind though, if you’re selling earrings and the majority of your friends are guys without pierced ears, like you’re probably not going to get the best feedback. So you do want to kind of make that focus group, the people who would at least be semi interested.
J: That’s great. Yeah, this is, and it’s very similar to any company that’s starting up that is thinking about selling a product. And you have to do the same thing. You have to figure out the persona of your customer. And it’s basically defining what is motivating that customer, what their demographics are, their age, their vocation, their educational background, all the same things that you would use to define your customer persona.
This is now your audience persona, which if you think about it, it should be pretty much the same thing because that audience eventually we’re going to transition them hopefully to be our customers. So that’s a great way to think about it.
So I have a question. I am somebody who, I have an engineering personality and I’ve an engineering background. My personality is very, data-driven, analytical, linear. So when I write, especially when I write copy, I tend to focus more on fact than I do on emotion. So for me, as a consumer, I expect everybody to be like me obviously. I think everybody wants to know all the facts. Nobody cares about the emotion. Obviously that’s not true. How do you determine how much of your copy should be facts and analytics and details and supporting evidence versus appealing to emotion and trying to really, I guess do the more, for lack of a better term, the subliminal stuff.
Christina: So you definitely want to tell people the features of your product, right? But the copy is going to focus more on the emotions of like getting that feature, I guess, or the benefit of that feature. So, for instance, a lot of financial copy, which is like a niche of copywriting and it’s used to typically to sell financial newsletters or investing information, things like that. So a lot of the financial copy will use fear and anger and the reason for that is it’s effective. So they might talk about someone that had been taken advantage of in their story, or they might talk about an enemy that you know, wants to destroy your reader’s health or wealth, or maybe they write about an injustice that’s happening. So before you get into the features of the product, it’s 50 pages long or this many hours or you know, however, whatever the list of features is, before you get into all that, you want to tell them some stories too have an emotional response.
But once you tell those stories, you know, you’re going to solve the problem for them. You’re going to say, okay, like here’s the solution. It’s the thing I’m selling, it’s my product. So the goal isn’t to make them fearful or angry. The goal is to present your product or service as the solution for that fear or anger. Then ideally your reader will take action to either, stop the enemy, overcome the injustice or to become happier. Then stories, like I mentioned, they’re a great way to do that either with real customers that have experienced those things. Or it could be a story about how the solution came to be if it’s especially this, the solution to a problem. You know, I had this problem and then I found the solution and now I’m making it available to you.
Then stories also entertain and they keep people reading and make your company more relatable. But the point of all that is that you focus on the benefits that the customer gets in the emotion that they feel from it, not the features of the product. So you’ve heard a lot of copywriting experts probably they say, features tell, benefits sell. So to kind of demonstrate this point, one of the best things that I’ve learned and then I use all the time is I think this comes from Clayton Makepeace, he’s a famous copywriter and it’s called, well I don’t know what he calls it exactly, I call it the, so what test? So basically whenever you list a feature, so what you do is you take your feature and they say, well, so what? Then you answer it. Then after you answer that, you say, well, so what? And you answer it again.
So I have a standing desk and so one of the features of the desk might be that it can raise or lower a quarter inch at a time. They like, okay, so what, I don’t care. Like I just want it to go up and down, I don’t care if it’s a quarter inch at a time. Well that means that it can be adjusted for any height. Well, so what? Well you can change it easily throughout the day. Well, so what? Well it makes working at your desk easier and puts less strain on your body and your neck and you can make small changes throughout the day. Well, so what? You just keep going down, down, down until you get to the emotional reason for that feature. So then when you present the feature in your copy, you would say instead of saying, oh it can raise and lower quarter of inch and at a time you would say, this desk is great because it raises a quarter inch at a time. You won’t ever have neck fatigue because you can adjust it at any moment with a click of a button, it’s so easy and simple.
J: You’ll live longer and spend less on your health insurance.
Christina: Yeah, there you go.
J: That’s great.
Christina: Another, another little example I had was let’s say a can of mixed nuts. This can says that it has less than 50% peanuts, so what? You’re like, okay, so what? Well, there’s more almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and pecans. Well, so what? The can won’t be full of peanuts. So what? You get more value for your money and you just keep going on and on.
Another term I hear people say is, which means. So instead of, so what, you can say, which means. So the can won’t be full of peanuts, which means you get more value for your money. So you just kind of drill down like that until you get to where you can’t really get any deeper, then that’s like your deepest emotional benefit. Sometimes you have to put it away and come back later with a fresh mind and try to think of even deeper, I guess answers to the question. By doing that, the deeper the benefits are, the more emotional and more persuasive there’ll be and that will convince your reader to act. Then once you have that deepest benefit, that’s what you can use in your headline to get attention and draw people in. You can use it your first story and then also, like your call to action, you can say, or remember it has 50% less peanuts.
J: I love the fact that you’ve mentioned the word, and this is important to me because I’ve been told this a lot. You mentioned the word story a lot and I know that one of the things that I have trouble doing, again, as an engineer type personality, I tend to focus more on details and data than I do on stories. I constantly reminded when I do speaking events, when I write books, that data’s nice and facts are important, but people aren’t going to absorb that data. They’re not going to absorb those facts if you just lay it out like a textbook. They’re going to absorb those facts when you tell it in a story and the story relays those facts in a way that it can be remembered. People remember stories, they don’t remember facts.
So I think this is just a great reminder that when you’re writing copy, it’s the same as speaking. It’s the same as writing books. It’s the same as anytime you’re communicating. If you want people to remember what you’re talking about, remember what you’re saying, give them a story that allows them to kind of put the information into context, because people remember the story long after they’ve forgotten the data in the facts.
Christina: Right? You know, if you say 50,000 otters a year killed somehow and you’re like, okay, well that’s terrible. I mean, otters are adorable, I don’t want them to be killed, but it’s just kind of, that number is just gone. Right? But if you started saying Clifford, the adorable otter was making his way down the beach and then this thing happened and now he didn’t make it and he’s one of 50,000 that this happens to every year. You’re like, oh, my gosh poor Clifford.
Carol: So sad.
Christina: And 50,000 friends
Carol: So there’s your emotional response that you’re talking about, right? You just change that into a story and it evokes that emotion and then you get them to act based on that emotion or a benefit of buying whatever it is you’re trying to sell them because it’s going to solve their problems. So that’s, that’s really cool.
J: So before we move onto the next part of our show, let’s hear from one of our show sponsors.
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Carol: So I love all these tips you’ve given us. A lot of really solid, concrete tips about how to make the most compelling copywriting, and it sounds like you have really used your copywriting expertise to launch another business, called comfy earrings, and I would love to hear a little bit more about that and how your expertise in the copyrighting specifically has grown that business.
Christina: Okay. Well, so we launched almost nine years ago, so just a couple of years after I learned about copywriting. So I didn’t know a whole lot then and actually messed up a lot in the beginning. So you can mess up a lot and still be successful. So I think the key is just to always be improving. If it’s not good and you’re not getting the results you want you do tests or you change things until you are getting the results. That’s one of the things I like the best about the internet and working online is that you can change things any time. If you say, I suspect this headlines not doing well, you could just set up a new test right then and within a few weeks you’ll know if it was the headline or not.
So when I first launched our business, I used the principles of good copywriting that we talked about. The one big idea of focusing on the benefits, instead of the features, using the so what? I did all those things to write our first website and then I used testing and customer feedback to refine it over time. To refine, not only our website, but also our ads and our messaging. Then now, even now, we’re still, we run ads quite often and we’re constantly, I guess you’d say. We’re always working on making it better and anytime we have an ad that performs really well, I say, well, what is it about this ad that’s done well? I’m going to take that and I’m going to set up a test and run a test on our website and see if we can improve upon what’s there. So if you go to our website now, the copy that’s there is what has performed the best currently and we can change it tomorrow, based on a test that we’re running. And so it’s just constantly changing and improving.
Then I still write for clients, but I really like having a business where it’s kind of like my lab, you know. I get to go try things and find out what works and what doesn’t and then go tell my clients, hey, I’m doing this thing and it’s working out really well. So have you tried this idea? So it’s kind of a, it gives me multiple benefits too.
J: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And do you do all the copywriting in your business or do you ever hire anything out? As I guess obviously if you’re good at it, you don’t need to hire it out, but are there times when it’s better to hire out copywriting versus doing it yourself? Are there certain types of copywriting that other people might be better at that, that you’re not good at or how does that work in your business?
Christina: So initially I wrote all of the copy that’s on like the main pages of the website. Homepage, about page, our guarantee page, just all of the core content that you would need to have and then over time we have a team of two people. So over time some of that stuff has been changed out just based on questions that have been asked. So we’ve added stuff. I want it to have a blog on that site for quite a while and it was just something I just never got to. When it came time to, it was kind of like pulling teeth, for one thing, I never really, I don’t have much interest in jewelry or earrings. The entire reason I started the company is because I wanted to put my earrings in and completely forget about them.
So it kind of makes it hard to do research about different types of metals and things when you just don’t really have that much interest in it, so we started hiring writers. So I also, I know a lot of writers from the other side of my life and so I started hiring writers to work on our blog. So I think we have maybe five posts up now that other people have written. So now it’s become much more like a joint effort.
Carol: Excellent. Where do we go to find copywriters? If we, as business owners are not comfortable doing it ourselves.
Christina: So there’s a variety of places. My, I think my favorite would probably be going on something like linkedin and then visiting their personal websites and checking out their websites, then hiring somebody that you’re impressed with. There are also many job boards. And then AWAI that I mentioned earlier, they have a website and on there they have a, it’s called direct response jobs. It’s a place where employers are business owners and people like that marketers can post a job. Then the copywriters who have learned from AWAI, American writers and artists, they can apply for those jobs. So it’s kind of like a thing to kind of hook you up. I’ve heard people have a lot of success with eLance and I think they changed the name of that now to,
J: Upwork, I think.
Christina: Yes, that’s it. I was like, I can’t remember it at all, and if someone were to say it, yeah. So they changed that and I hear a lot of people have success with that, I’ve never personally tried it, but that could be a potential place.
Carol: Excellent. Thank you.
J: For those of us who might want to give copyrighting ourselves a try, can you recommend any good books or courses or websites where we can go to basically hone our own copywriting skills?
Christina: Okay. Well I do have to mention I’m AWAI.com because that’s where I learned and I still feel like it’s the best resource. I actually do quite a bit of work with them still and I go to their annual conference and so I would highly suggest them, they are really great and that’s a complete course. Other books that I personally use, I just looked at my bookshelf real quick and I’ve got, this one is from Dan Kennedy, it’s called the ultimate sales letter and it’s really good for walking you through the process we just talked about with a 10 page, 20 page sales letters and you know all the different, actually I just saw flipped open and we had talked about the creative, or we talked about using a PS at the end. You see right there, the creative, there it is.
J: A whole chapter.
Christina: Yeah, it walks you through that entire process and so that book is really good. Another one that’s kind of similar that I really enjoyed was how to write copy that sells by Ray Edwards and any book by either of these two people is great. And Bob Bly of course, he’s probably on the top of my list, so all of his books are probably all in one place together.
J: Okay, so AWAI.com, Jan Kennedy, Ray Edwards and Bob Bly.
Christina: And one more. I did mention Clayton Makepeace earlier from the, so what test or method and he has this book and I don’t, there may be a more recent book, but this one was super, super.
J: Two hours to more profitable sales copy.
Christina: Yeah, it’s super useful to me when I started, so
Carol: Excellent. Thank you. Those are a lot of really great resources, very informative. I love all these solid tips and really strong places to go. So thank you.
Christina: Okay, I do have a tip for people who want to get started with freelancing or consulting, whether it’s writing or not, but I would suggest starting small. You know a lot of people, they look at this and they’re like, oh, my gosh, I have to know everything. I have to know how to write emails and ads and blog posts and you don’t have to know all of the things. So my suggestion is to start by offering one thing. So if you want to be a writer, it might be writing blog posts. If you want to be a consultant, it might be one type of consulting. You know, you can help people get more leads or help them get more sales, you know, so you just do one thing and then I would spend some time brainstorming to get really clear on what that service is, who you’re going to help, how you’re going to help them, and what the benefits are using the, so what, and then create a really simple website, explaining who you are, what you do, who you do it for.
Then once you have that up and running and customers are coming to you, you can start testing other ideas and adding additional services. But when I started, I started with just blog posts and I was able to replace my income with just blog posts initially. And then I added on emails and then I added on other types of copy. Eventually now I write, oh gosh, the longest sales letter, it was probably, I don’t want to say probably like 70 pages.
Carol: Wow. Headlines to 70 page sales letters and everything in between.
Christina: A lot of things now. But you can start with just blog posts, even like 500 words.
Carol: Excellent, thank you. Those are great tips, great tips.
J: Okay, Christina, before we jump into the final segment of the show, I’d love to ask, if you had to give one tip to our audience, to our listeners for writing better, better copy, what is the best tip that you can give them?
Christina: Okay. Hmm, well other than focusing on one thing, that’s probably the most important thing. The other thing would be answering the question. Your reader always has this question in their mind and you’ll hear a lot of copywriting experts talk about this. The question that they have is: what’s in it for me? So what’s in it for me? What will I get out of this? How will you help me? That’s what they want to know. They don’t want to know all about you. They want to know how the things about you are going to help them. So by answering those questions, you can get a much better response than if you talk about yourself or your services. So I see a lot of websites they start with I’m experienced with X. I went to school for Y. I learned how to write from Z. They just go on and on about all of their qualifications, and the reader’s sitting there going, well, okay, but what does this have to do with me? What do I get out of this?
So instead you might say, I can help you achieve results because I have five years of experience with real estate, or you’ll get results from me because I spent 10 years in school studying marketing. So you start with them, what are they going to get out of it? Then you use your achievements as proof, right? So you’re going to get results, I can prove it because I have five years of experience in real estate, rather than saying I have five years of experience, because they’re just going to be like, well, okay, so what?
Carol: Right, so what, what does that get me? Back to the, so what? That’s right. So yeah, that’s an awesome, awesome tip. Just the what’s in it for me and put that front and center and it’s going to get them to react better.
Christina: Yeah. And then also keeps them, you know, more engaged because it’s about them and using you. Another tip is to use you a lot instead of I. So anytime you have I tried to cut that out. Then anytime you can use you, speaking to the reader, it’s always better. So if you read this, you’ll get these results or let me show you this thing.
J: That is awesome.
Carol: So one last thing, building on all this, you’ve got all these great tips, all the what’s in it for me? All the big one thing, all the framework and flow. Are there any websites that are popular that you consider like really excellent examples of copywriting?
Christina: Sure, so one of my favorites is always Duluth trading. Are either of you familiar with Duluth trading?
Carol: I’m not.
J: I’m not either.
Christina: Okay, so it’s a clothing company. They sell durable clothing for people who work outside, well who work inside, I guess, as well, if it needs to be durable, but who work outside and who had venture outside and who need durable a sun resistant weather resistant clothes. So their products are always really full of features. Like, I was just looking before we got on there air and it has crotch gusset and abrasion resistant and you’re just kind of like, okay, so what? Right, but their copy doesn’t stop there. Their copy actually explains why you would want these things. So it’s just, it seems like somebody there took the so what test? So the crotch gusset lets you comfortably bend and crouch and the triple stitched seams won’t rip out while you’re working.
Then I love this one because for the size of the cargo pants, they do tell you the size of the cargo pants. But then they also say they’re perfect for a box cutter or a tape measure and just really like, because it doesn’t just say, okay, you know, four by six inches and you’re just kind of like, what is that? What do I do with that? Right so I just really like, and they also have a lot of fun with their advertisements and I just really enjoy kind of going there for inspiration.
And then an example of a headline that I found earlier today that I feel like it’s very clear and it has good, you know, it speaks to the people who would be going there, but I feel like it could be improved. This is a good exercise for if you are trying to become better at copywriting, you can find websites that you think can be improved and you go through the, so what test to get some practice.
So this one is from Spotify and you know the music. So the headline, at least at the time that I went to their website, which they may be testing and changing it all the time, but it said, looking for music, start listening to the best new releases. So it’s a clear and obvious headline, but it just kind of makes you think so what, a little bit. So I thought, well, so what? Well, you could stay up to date, so what? Well your friends will think you’re cool, well, so what? So you don’t have to spend a lot of time finding the new best releases on your own, so what? So I finally got to that becoming your social circles DJ will be as easy as pressing play.
Carol: That’s cool.
Christina: I just had some fun with that. So it’s just, you know, a way to, like if you go to a website and you read their headline and you just kind of feel, I guess deflated, like eh.
Carol: What’s the big deal, right? Who cares?
Christina: Now what, yeah, so yeah, and you can take some time to kind of do your so what? and then add on and add on until eventually you get to a deeper benefit. So it’s kind of fun. I don’t know if you would contact Spotify and say hey, I have a better headline for you or not. But some people do that when you get something in the mail from your local lawn service. Some people will actually rewrite the postcard they received in the mail and contact that client and say, Hey, I think I can do a better job for you, here’s what I’d come up with, will you try it. That’s one potential way to get clients. I probably wouldn’t do that because I like, like I mentioned earlier, I like to hide
Carol: Behind your desk.
Christina: Yeah behind my computer but.
Carol: The nice thing is even if you’re not doing that to get out there and get more clients, it’s just excellent practice. Right? I mean that’s just one way you can keep honing your skill and keep just drilling down into that so what question, so that when you are working with a client that you’re wanting to be with, you can write the very best copy. There’s nothing wrong with constantly sharpening.
Christina: I do have one more tip for improving your copy.
Carol: What’s your tip?
Carol: One thing that I found that was immensely helpful for me that you’ll hear a lot of training companies suggest, copywriting training companies will suggest to do this, is to write out by hand popular sales letters that do well, that are controls. So you can Google what sales letters are controls, what popular sales letters you know existed. You can find examples of sales others that people that copywriting experts say, this is a good example. You don’t want to do it with just any random texts. You want to find an example that somebody like Bob Bly or Clayton Makepeace says, this is a good example. And then you just simply rewrite it by hand. So you know with a pencil or pen, you write it as many times as you can over and over and over. That kind of just gets you, gets your brain thinking, that more like the way that a sales letter flows, the conversational flow and the tone and you’ll pick up a lot of transitional phrases and just the way that information is presented.
J: Literally just write the exact same words, but basically that that process will make you think about it as you’re doing it. You’re kind of be training yourself without even realizing you’re training yourself.
Right, because there is kind of a rhythm. Like when you review a sales letter, like there is kind of a rhythm and it’ll be like point and then kind of prove, you know, you proved that and then you have another point and you prove that. So as you’re copying these sales letters, you’ll start to pick up on that rhythm where if you just read it, you might not notice that they’re the same way. But when you write it by hand you’re like, oh like this kind of, I understand kind of how this is like relates to that part earlier.
J: You start to see patterns in the flow. That’s great. Love that.
Carol: Awesome, thank you.
J: So I think now we would love to jump into the next segment of our show, what we call the four more. These are four questions that we ask all of our guests, and then when we’re done, we’re going to jump into the more part of the four more, where you can tell us more about where we can find out about you and how we can get in touch with you. Does that sound good to you, Christina?
Christina: Awesome. I’m a little nervous.
J: Don’t be nervous. Don’t be nervous.
Carol: No nervous necessary. All right, I’ll take the first one. So these are rapid fire style. You’re ready. Number one: What was your first or your worst job and what lessons did you learn from that job?
Christina: Oh, okay. I hate to like throw someone under the bus, but.
Carol: That’s all right. Bring it.
Christina: My worst job was probably, and I still think I have long term anxiety from this. So my first job was not my first, my worst was selling makeup for a popular, a MLM, a multilevel marketing company. I just absolutely hated the process of like finding customers. Then you had to set the appointments and it just always felt like I was begging people to do this and going to people’s houses to demonstrate the product. I just hated everything about it. But I did learn a lot about marketing and sales and why people buy. So it wasn’t completely bad cause I learned a lot from it, but it was not something I could do long term. I’m much more comfortable hiding behind the computer writing things than I am going to the grocery store and saying, Oh hey, can I show you my makeup?
J: Lots of different ways to sell. Awesome, second question: So what was that defining moment when you realized you had the entrepreneurial itch? You’ve now started two companies, so I assume there was some point in your life where you said, I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to go out and do this on my own.
Christina: Well, so initially I don’t think I thought about it as a business. Like when I, when I started this, I kind of just thought like, you know, oh, I’ll have clients so I’m just going to be working for someone else. I didn’t really look at it as a business, and then once we started comfy earrings it kind of was like a hobby. So for a long time it was just like, oh yeah, like I have an employer, they’re my clients and I play with this other thing on the side. I’m not really, I didn’t really start businesses and so it took a while until I started to realize like, no, I kind of am in control of this copywriting thing. It’s not the client telling me what to do because then for the client tells me to do something and I don’t want to do it because I don’t want to pass on this project or I could go find different types of projects. So I started probably a couple of years in, I started being like, wow, I actually am like the boss of a company
Carol: Wow how did that happened?
Christina: I think with comfy earrings when I started looking at it as like, Oh wow, I have something here. It was when we started bringing on team members and I started realizing like, okay, it’s not just me and my husband, now we have real people doing real things for us. We recently outsourced all of our shipping and fulfillment to fulfillment center. So that was just kind of like another layer of like, oh, this is a legitimate business. So I think I’m still coming to terms with the entrepreneur word. I do use it on my Instagram, in my bio, but I’m just, I think it’s a lot of mindset stuff. I still kind of feel like, you know, I don’t know.
J: Nothing wrong with that. You’re growing into your career and profession. Okay, I’m going to ask the third question also: So for those of us that might want to become copywriters, what some of the worst advice you hear in this industry? Which, what advice might we hear that we shouldn’t be heeding?
Christina: Well, a couple of years ago, people were all, everybody was saying that you needed a website. Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of people start to say, oh, you don’t need a website, you only need linkedin or you only need Facebook. That is the worst advice I’ve ever heard because you don’t own linkedin or Facebook. You know, even if you think, oh well they’re going great, they’re never going to disappear. Well they could change something about the way that they do things and say, oh well we’re not going to allow you to market your service anymore or we’re not going to allow you to reach out to these people anymore unless you pay us. So when you build your entire business and the only way for customers to contact you, is through a social media account. You’re giving all the control and all the power to that social media network or account.
So my advice is to set up your own website. Then that way if something happens, your customers can still find you and then you can still, if you have an email list, you can still reach out to them. A website now is not very difficult or expensive, for around 20 bucks a month you can set up pretty much any website with a few clicks somewhere. So that would be, I would say take the time to invest in your own website. And then not, I see, especially I see a lot of people that they publish articles and all kinds of content on linkedin. Like do that on your own website. Do that for yourself. Like put it on your own website and then put like a little snippet of it on Linkedin and say to read the rest website, direct to website.
Carol: Direct to back over there.
Carol: That’s an excellent tip.
Christina: Yeah. Then all of your efforts when you’re out in the world marketing or you’re posting anywhere, all of your bio’s, everything should send to everyone back to your website where you, there’s hopefully have an opt-in. We do on comfy earrings, on my personal website, on I had some good and good examples and bad examples of websites and I was going to tell you that my copywriting website is a bad example, because it doesn’t have a good headline, it’s just a brochure website, it’s like here’s who I am and you can contact me. But the reason for that is because I just have so much like repeat and referral clients that I just don’t use my website for its intention, which would be to get more clients, which at my current point I pass those off to other writers anyway, so there you go.
Carol: So it all works out.
Christina: So if you want to see a bad example, go to my website. If you want to see something important go to Comfy earrings because that’s where I put all my effort.
Carol: That is so funny. That is so funny. Okay, the fourth question: Is, in either your personal or your business life, what’s something that you’ve splurged on that was totally worth it?
Christina: Hmm well, I mean this house that we just moved into, it’s probably a good splurge. We spent more than we were intending to when we were shopping around. But it has a really nice view and I said I’m going to be working on the back porch so I need a really nice view. So that probably was the biggest thing. If you would’ve ask me a few months ago I would’ve said a hot tub, but now that I bought a house, the house is a little bigger than a hot tub.
Carol: So it eclipsed the hot tub for sure. Good. I’m glad you’ve got a great porch view. That is awesome. Okay, so now we’re going to go to the more question. Go ahead J.
J: So I’m going to give you an opportunity to tell us a little bit more about where our listeners can find you, get in touch with you and give you an opportunity to talk about the awesome copy you [email protected]
Christina: So if you want to see my real website, the good one, you can visit comfyearrings.com, like comfortable. So C O M F Y E A R R I N G S.com. Then I’m also on Instagram as Christina Gillick. I’ll tell you, do we have time real quick for me to tell one of my biggest mistakes I ever made?
J: Yes, please tell us your mistakes. We all learn from mistakes.
Christina: So on Twitter you might notice that my name on Twitter is comfy Christina. The reason for that is when I first started using Twitter a long, long time ago, and my name on there was Chris Gillick, I spent all this time and energy getting all these links, pointing to that and then comfy earrings started growing, and I thought, well wow, I really need a Twitter for it and I don’t have time to do both, so I’m just going to change it.
So I changed it and within a few days I thought that was a mistake. I should not have done that because now all of my writing links go to a random jewelry website. Really? Like people who want to see writer, they don’t want to see my earrings, they want to see me. So I said, Oh man, I’m going to change it back. Well, somebody else had already taken Chris Gillick.
Christina: You can’t get it back and they don’t use it, it’s just sitting there dormant. So I’ve emailed them a couple times a year asking can I have it back and they never get back to me. So I finally set up comfy Christina and I started over.
Christina: You want to find me on Twitter, it’s comfy Christina, not Christina Gillick, I mean my name is still Christina Gilligan on there, but my handle or they call it a Twitter handle, right?
Carol: That sounds right.
Christina: Comfy Christina there so.
J: Awesome, Christina, this was so useful. The actual information you provided is just absolutely amazing. We appreciate it. I’m sure our listeners appreciate it. Thank you so much for being on with us today.
Christina: Awesome, thank you so much. It was so fun.
Carol: Thank you Christina, see you soon.
J: Talk to you soon.
J: Bye. I really love that show. So as I know you do a lot of our copywriting for our business. You write all of our direct mail pieces, you write all of our listing copy. So you’re already a great copywriter, Carol Scott. But me, I am really, really bad at it and a lot of those tips are really going to help me.
Carol: Well I’ll tell you what, first of all, I think you’re good. I thought I was good. But I’ll tell you what, after listening to Christina, I kind of think I’m doing everything wrong and I’m really great that I’m really thrilled that we had a chance to talk to her because I’m going to do everything completely differently now. I mean seriously, think about it: The whole so what? The what’s in it for me? The whole thing about handwriting everything. Seriously, that is all magic. I loved every little last bit of it.
J: Great show. Thank you everybody for listening. That it? Do we have anything else now?
Carol: No, let’s wrap it up, baby.
: Let’s wrap it up. She’s Carol. I’m J.
Carol: Go write some awesome copy today and have a super awesome, fabulous day party people.
J: Take it easy, everyone.
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