Episode 45 – Copywriting with Elise Adams

Elise dropped additional nuggets of sales and marketing goodness in the EXTENDED Interview. Be sure to click here to access all of our great extended interviews, transcripts and more within our Insider's Club.

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My story begins in a very dark place. Abuse, homelessness, addiction and chaos–those were my best friends for more than two decades. It's only been in the past 8 years or so that I've begun to turn my survival skills into powerful marketing strengths for my clients.

Might sounds strange. But it's true. The worst days of my life prepared me to be the BEST copywriter.

I HEAR you better than you can hear or see yourself or your business.

No tricks of the trade. (I don't know any.)  I'm not hampered by theory. I've seen what works and I bring that right to you.

By being the eyes, ears and heart of your audience, I'm able to see what you are blind to in your business. (Hint: it's not about confidence or clarity. It's about being an outsider with ears to hear and eyes to see!)

I see your brilliance much more clearly than you do! And it's my greatest pleasure to turn the spotlight on what you bring to the world–what is marketable, profitable and needed by your audience.

I translate your heart message into profitable copy all in your personality and voice. I take what you bring to the world and translate it into what your audience needs from you.

Podcast Transcript

Brian Basilico: So I have to be honest with you guys, one of the challenges that I have is writing. I'm not a writer, I'm a speaker. That's what I do and I understand that very well. I could look at a page 50 or thousand times and not see the mistakes that other people can see. Anyways, today we're going to talk with Elise Adams and she is a professional copywriter. How are you doing Elise?

Elise Adams: I'm doing awesome. How are you, Brian?

Brian: I'm fabulous.

So anyways, Elise, you have an incredible story. Why don't you tell us about a little bit about you, and your journey, and how you got to where you're at?

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Elise: Thank you so much, Brian. I'm just honored to be here with you. It is so exciting to be able to share a bit of my story and the skills that I've been able to put together to really maximize people's reach online.

My story starts rather dramatically back about eight or nine years ago. I actually spent three years homeless. I sort of hit “rock bottom” as they say and ended up in a rather a violent and dramatic relationship with a petty criminal who was traveling the United States and sort of living off the grid in a very unhealthy way. What was so dramatic about all of that experience is that I really learned how to listen. It might sound really strange for a copywriter who is dealing with a successful business now to be grateful for hitting that really rock bottom place, but I am today.

Brian: That's fabulous. A lot of times and believe me I've heard these stories before. This isn't the first time. Sometimes when you hit rock bottom, it really gives you a chance to kind of rebuild from the ground up and that's fabulous.

Then how did you get into the copywriting business? What transcended from going from homeless to running your own business?

Elise: Sure, absolutely. So, over the last eight years it's been sort of twisting, winding road. I think we all have those stories of running into dead ends and trying to find a better life for my kids, and I when the guy I was with was arrested. We're talking the lights, and the sirens, and the guns drawn, and everything.

Brian: Wow!

Elise: I was sent home by an amazing sergeant that day. He said, “Go home. Take your babies. Make a new life for yourself.” But I had been so destroyed and sort of just bottomed out that I wasn't sure what to do. I tell that part of my story often just because I think a lot of people can relate to that. Hopefully, no one has had to have a lights and sirens part of my story, but I think we've all hit the wall and hit those just really dark days where were not sure what to do next.

It's been eight years of struggle, and trial and error but what I discovered, I started a blog. Actually I started three or four blogs. And I started working with other entrepreneurs and successful people and people started to come to me and saying, “When you look at what I do, and you tell me the suggestions and you rewrite things for me, suddenly I'm having success that I wasn't having before.” I don't even know what that was called for a long time. I was a virtual assistant and my clients loved me. I learned all the technical back office stuff but it was the writing that I kept getting the feedback on that I could really make a difference for people's businesses. I eventually learned that that's called copywriting.

Brian: So, who needs a copywriter? What kind of business people can use what you do?

Elise: Sure. I'm assuming that your audience will expect this answer because the answer is everyone. The reason I say that is because we all have a message that we're trying to get across. Many of us, most of us maybe are trying to sell something, either an idea, a concept or product and in order to maximize the reach of that message and to convert that into success in our businesses, I have found that we really can't do that alone. I don't even do my copywriting alone. I have coaches and trainers that are helping me get my message more clear, and it's just a real blessing to be able to reach out and do that for all sorts of people online.

Brian: Yes, that's a really, really great point. I mean, having coaches that help you guide your own message and that only helps you make a better for other people. So what makes a good copywriter so powerful? What do you do that takes somebody's brain and puts it down on paper on the internet or something like that that really gets people to take notice, to take action, those kinds of things?

Elise: Sure. I think a great copywriter has spent a lot of time really purposefully watching what works. Then not only watching what works but implementing it. Any good online marketer knows that it does trial and error but when someone has seen two or three success stories versus hundreds of success stories, it really makes a huge difference because what works for one person way over here may or may not work for someone over here. By getting my fingers in the copy, in the way things are put together, the words themselves and then taking the perspective of a customer.

Sometimes it's really, really hard when we're super creative, really results-driven, process-driven people; we can see great content, we can see great ideas, but seeing it from a perspective of our customer comes really hard when were the person creating the product in the first place. It takes someone who's on the outside looking into that copy, looking into that author bio, looking into that “About” page, looking into that sales page to really see what does the customer want to hear.

Brian: Yes. Very, very true and having a customer driven focus on that text is so incredibly important.

Elise: Yes, and there's only so much you can see as a business owner from a survey or from asking because what comes back to you is filtered through how you're seeing your own business. You're not really outside enough to look carefully at how it's coming across to the public.

Brian: That is so true and I talk about that all the time in social medias. A lot of people just want to be the brand and they don't want to be themselves. Really, what people are attracted to is the person, not the product or service.

Elise: Absolutely.

Brian: Yes. How can good copywriting help grow a business? What are some of the tasks that you do and how does that help businesses propel themselves online?

Elise: From the very first get-go, I think the biggest gift that a good copywriter can give to a business is a really clear perspective in words. There's the graphics people and there's those strategy people but a copywriter can really get into the words. What the words are going to portray about that business' message? Or that person who's trying to build a platform around a certain idea or concept and really get into – when I talk about it I'm always worried that I'm making it sound more complicated than it is because it's brilliantly fun for me. I absolutely enjoy this, this is like playing.

Brian: Awesome.

Elise: But for someone else who's not used to sort of word wrangling, it can be really intimidating. It's like what goes in an “About” page? What really should I say on my sales page when I'm so focused on how cool this new thing is? But is my [inaudible] think that this is cool and how do I communicate that in words? It's a bit tricky but with a copywriter's eyes on it, what I have seen is that the results are easily twice as much to ten times as much of what someone can put together themselves.

Brian: Awesome. What are some of the things that you do? Blogging, you talked about pages – what are some of the things that you do for your client?

Elise: One of my really favorite things to do is sort of full concept copywriting. Where I take everything from the author bio all the way through what the strategy from message needs to be on a person's blog, all the way to social media. I specialize in ghost writing in books or digital content product so that I take someone's brilliance because each one of us has just this amazing brilliance and I love working with great experts who have these awesome ideas but they're not quite sure how to translate that all the way out to the public. It's really fun to work on the whole scope but I find also that with brand new businesses that are just getting their feet under them, that's really just writing that great author bio to help them focus who – it's amazing what you can get on an author bio. You can focus what they're here to do, who they're here to reach and really grab them in with something just as simple as that one task.

Brian: When somebody's reading their own bio, what kind of things do they need to look for look at?

Elise: I love to help out with that. One of the things that I mentioned earlier that really has to be a part of the bio is a story. But the story of how you came to be such a great and brilliant expert really needs to be sort of nestled in the middle. What needs to pop out at the beginning of a bio is what you do for your clients and your customers. What is the benefit that you bring them? So many times we focus on a title, or we focused on the name of our business, or we focused on that rather than the change we bring to someone's life? The change I want to bring to your life is I want to boost your message. I want to boost your brilliance. I want to crush your content so that it converts into cash. That's way more exciting sounding. Then, I'm just going to come along and then I'm going to rewrite your paragraphs.

When you put that kind of action into a bio of how what you're doing for someone, what you bring into the table that will change their life, it's amazing how much stronger and more enticing that just little blurb on the bottom of a blog post can be.

Brian: Say, I love that Elise. The whole thing about what change do you invoke, I think, that's one of the things that release kind of the essence of everybody's personal brand and they don't get it, and they don't know how to express it, and that's why what you're doing is so awesome.

How can great copywriting convert into cash? You mentioned that and how does that turn into money?

Elise: Well, I know you've been telling your audience, “Listen, it's just helpful to hear it from another voice.” What people buy is not your product. They buy what your product is going to do for them. By making sure that what the words on the paper, the words on the page say the benefits, making sure that the client is the star. It's not about you, it's about the bacon, right? So, it's not about me. That's really what all good marketers know. If you can do that and if you can hook that with how you say things online, you're golden.

Brian: Absolutely, yes. Thank you for the book plug by the way. The subtitle of it is Relationship Marketing in a Social Media World, and that's really what it's about. It's just being you.

Elise: Absolutely.

Brian: … and getting the message out there. That's incredibly important.

Elise: Well, one of the things people forget when they write is it really is just to speaking to people. If you think about how you talk to your friends about your product, you don't tell them all the bells and whistles. You might go on it a little bit because you know you can't get away with it but what you really want to do is say, “This is going to change your life.” You're struggling with, I don't know, an inventor. You see someone down the street struggling carrying their groceries and it comes up with a new dude at, “This is going to help you carry your groceries better not I design this with three molds and ten people helping me in all the rest of the stuff. This is going to help you carry your groceries in better.” That's what copy does, it shows people in words how it's going to make their life better.

Brian: Right on.

So Elise, what are some of the most common copywriting mistakes that people make?

Elise: I love to plug great copywriters and great end results but it's so helpful to see what other people are sort of shorting themselves on in some of these areas. The first one is just really a basic assumption that copywriting is confusing and complex. It does take a specific paradigm shift but it's not about bells and whistles and complicated formulas or an MBA in order to really bump up the copy. In my opinion, what it really takes is to change our paradigm to start thinking about what the benefits, the emotional connection on the story are for the people who we're trying to reach; Looking at it literally by spending a couple decades in their shoes and sometimes once you're achieved the level of success, we forget that we were starting out at one point too.

Before we had our brilliant ideas, before we became an expert, we were looking for those answers for our own life. Sometimes it really helps to put ourselves back in that place of a struggling beginner or a person reaching out for a product, or wanting to reach the next level of success and that helps us get into their shoes a bit more.

Brian: Yes, that totally, totally makes sense.

As I'm sitting here, thinking about the copywriting that I do with some other people, can you offer some tips because I do very limited – one thing you got to know, my nickname is “Captain Typo.”

Elise: Awesome.

Brian: Yes. I'm just so, so bad at it, so I bow down to you. Anybody who can do good writing is like you have my utmost respect. But what are some of the tips that you can give myself and my audience to know how to either maximize a copywriter for their business or work with somebody like you to get the most out of it or to get the best end result?

Elise: First, I'm going to give you a tip about writing your own copy because we're all DIY people, we want to get out fingers in it and do it. I don't blame you for that at all. In fact, it's a great practice. Some of my most successful clients have their fingers all over it and then realize their limitations. You'll fall on one side of the other. Either way if you studied copywriting, you're going to really value the copywriting you work with more or you're going to become a great copywriter yourself. My first tip for people just getting their feet while really getting into their own copywriting is to think about conversation.

I'm really not into a big [fufu] meditation a whole lot but it really does help to sort of close your eyes and have a conversation with an imaginary client about what you're bringing into the table. When someone across from us and we're connecting eyeball to eyeball which doesn't always happen online so sometimes we get a little limited in how we're thinking about it, we talk differently about our products. I just got back from NAMS and it's such a fun place to be able to just really expand the line and have these great one-on-one conversations and I realize that everybody talks copy way better than they write copy.

Brian: Oh, yes.

Elise: We don't get mixed up in the details. We don't get dragged down by, “… and this is the 17-step program I have for you.” We're like, “This is going to be awesome. I have just a thing for you. You're going to be a better speaker if you work with me. You're going to be a better productive person if you work with me.” That's the kind of language that can really reset our paradigm when we're sitting down try to write our own stuff.

Now, as far as working with a copywriter, what I tell people is prepare to come in to working with a copywriter by pretty much throwing out most of your ideas of your own worth because what's going to happen is you're going to be really, really shocked by how much a copywriter loves you, what they say about you and you're going to be a little bit hesitant to take all the accolades because one of the things we do that's awesome when we're solopreneurs is we want to stay humble. We really want to serve our people. But when it comes to copy, when we say we can change the world, we might be confident that we could change our best friend's world, we might be confident that we could a few people's world, but when a copywriter comes in they see what they can bring to the whole world or a bigger tribe. They're often looking at maximizing in it. So in order to really work with a copywriter, be willing to let them brag on you, be willing to let them use the big words, and the big accolades, and the benefits and the results. Don't be so humble that you sort of cut off your results to the needs.

Brian: That's so true. Its hard to brag about yourself and then when somebody else does it, it's like, “I'm not really that good.” But you are. You are.

Elise: Absolutely.

Brian: That's great advice. The other thing that you kind of talked about and brought to the table was having that other perspective, I think is really, really key because we look at ourselves through completely different set of lenses that other people see us and that's what getting feedback a lot of times is and that's where I think working with a copywriter will give you awesome feedback on not only how you are communicating, but how to better communicate what it is that you want to get out there.

Elise: Well, absolutely. Many of us are comfortable or more comfortable, more familiar with using a coach or a trainer and sort of working on our own stuff in order to be better in business. But we forget that the copy is the first thing, it's the first impression that someone sees of us online. Absolutely the first thing, whether it's a picture we post on Facebook, whether it's an ad we put up, whether it's a blog post, you can throw it together and you'll reach some people if you get a copywriter on board, you will reach 10 times as many people because they will see the nugget of exponential benefit to your audience that you absolutely can't see. We're all blind to it, or too limited to really maximize our reach. It takes that extra set of eyes specifically on the message and that's what a copywriter does.

Brian: Awesome. One thing that you've brought up is so true. When people search for your name in Google, the first thing that usually comes up is LinkedIn and the first thing that shows up is your profile. It's the about you, that's incredible to have that, to have it looked and done properly.

The last question I got for you is how can we measure success and I guess I know it's different for everybody, but as a copywriter, how do you measure success for your clients?

Elise: I measure success for my clients in two ways. The first way is entirely client-focused because like you said, absolutely everybody measures success differently. Maybe one client really wants to reach the world with a message and they're not focused on the numbers; and maybe another client works exclusively with the numbers and they just wanted to convert straight into cash and that's the only measure that is valuable to them. So when I work with any client, I really want to hear from them what they want to accomplish online and what this ends up being is a really a conversation of bigger business principles that really need to apply to our copy – What's our target audience? What are we trying to get done here in this bigger world?

But then the second way that I always measure success myself is if I've been able to make a difference for someone. I believe 100% in being honest and upfront. If someone has killer copy already and they just want me to come along and confirm that, I am more than happy to tell them, “You know, you're so far on this road, go for it. Keep going. Whatever is happening is working for you.” But other than that, whenever I work with a client, I want to see myself. That's what's so awesome about being a copywriter. I want to see them more clearly and brighter. Shining brighter after I've worked with them than before.

Brian: Awesome.

I know you have a system or a way that people can actually get a taste if what it is that you do. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Elise: Absolutely. Earlier I was mentioning how I love to do these big projects with entrepreneurs beginning to end, let's just bump up everything, and yet the foundation of what we say online is really in that author bio or that LinkedIn profile description and I love to be able to give someone a taste of what a copywriter can do by giving them this just great done-for-you passport to profits 100-word author bio. What my clients use this for is all across the social media spectrum and on their websites.

I've had direct-sellers use this on their static pages, I've had people use this on their author boxes for guest posts and gotten tons more traffic from that. Of course you mentioned LinkedIn which is a primary place for those keywords, and that story, and that great space to really just shine someone's purpose, and mission, and product here online. I make sure that it's keyworded, optimized but the process and the system that I have behind it is just a really in-depth and fun form that I have everyone fill out when they get one of these packages, and then I get my hands directly on every single author bio that I turned back into the client is personally customized.

I like to trim in a couple different options because some people want to go super professional, and some people want to go super snazzy and sort of fun, so I give them both of those options when I put this all together for them.

Brian: Sounds fabulous.

If people want to get a hold of you, what's the best way for them to be able to do that?

Elise: The best place for find me is at Elisewrites.com and I think you're going to have a link as well so that they can directly find this passport-to-profits author bio as well.

Brian: So Elise, thank you so much for spending time to share your story and all the tips that you got. I know I got a lot out of it and I'm sure everybody else will. So thanks for everything.

Elise: I was my pleasure. So happy to be here with you, Brian.

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