Review of Selena Soo’s Get Known Get Clients

In 2014 I decided to step up my game and invest in training that offered not only actionable content that would help me improve my business, but that also featured one-on-one feedback and support from the big cheese running the program.

This was my feeling: I’d made significant investments into my business in the past buying expensive training – training which did indeed help me create results in my business in the way of more clients and more income – but I was ready for a program that would push me out of my comfort zone (by pulling me forward to do things I knew I needed to do but was resisting mightily), while giving me direct access to, and feedback from, the expert doing the training.

That’s when I decided to sign up for Selena Soo’s Get Known, Get Clients (GKGC), because I had a strong feeling it would do all of the above. (Hint: It did.)

In this review, I’m going to share what Get Known, Get Clients is, why it worked for me and why I’m promoting it, and who I think it’s for and who it’s not for.

I’m also going to tell you about an exclusive bonus offer you can get if you sign up for Get Known, Get Clients directly through me.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown of what you’ll learn in this review:

  • What the Program Is (in a nutshell)
  • My Situation When I Started the Program
  • Why I Wanted to Work with Selena in Get Known, Get Clients
  • My Personal Experience in the Program and My Results
  • What You’ll Learn in the Program
  • How GKGC is Not Like Other Programs
  • Who GKGC Is For, and Who It’s Not For
  • Why I’m Promoting Get Known, Get Clients
  • My Get Known, Get Clients Bonuses for 2015

What the Program Is

In a nutshell, Get Known, Get Clients is a 6-month program that teaches you how to earn more and stand out as the go-to expert in your field. In the program, Selena walks you through the 3-part system she used to build her six-figure business so quickly (in less than a year) and teaches you how to do the same. You’ll learn advanced strategies to get more clients, make more money, and build a great reputation in your industry or niche.

(Of course, your results will vary depending on where you are in your business now, how/if you implement what Selena teaches, and the other variables that are unique to your situation, so there are no guarantees that you’ll create the same results Selena did. But you knew that. 🙂 )

There are three overarching ideas in the course, along with tested strategies to make them work:

  • Setting up the right business model and strategy
  • Building a powerful personal brand
  • Becoming a masterful relationship builder

If you want to get all the details of the program right now, go here:

Get Known, Get Clients

My Situation When I Started the Program

When I started Get Known, Get Clients (GKGC) in June 2014, I’d already been doing business for a couple of years as a copywriter and web marketing consultant as a side hustle to my daytime freelance writing gig, so the foundations of my business were in place.

I had enough clients to keep me busy, and I was doing ok income-wise, but . . . I didn’t necessarily have the clients I wanted, the projects I wanted, the income I wanted, or the time freedom I wanted.

It’s one thing to be able to earn a decent living from your entrepreneurial hustle, but if it said hustle requires you to work 7 days a week doing work you don’t love, well, then, life ceases to be fun. And that’s what happened to me – I was working all the time, but not enjoying my life or my work very much.

My daytime freelance writing gig paid well enough and gave me the opportunity to work on some fantastic writing projects, with terrific colleagues (for which I am eternally grateful), but it wasn’t the best fit for me (big organization, corporate environment), there was a fair amount of stress of the nonstop-hurry-up-and-get-this-project-done-so-we-can-give-you-the-next-writing-assignment variety, and despite this being a freelance gig, I was required to work on-site, which is definitely not the way this liberation-loving girl likes to work.

Why I Wanted to Work with Selena in Get Known, Get Clients

The main reason I wanted to work with Selena is because I identified with her experience – she had a very similar story to mine of starting her first business and not really enjoying her work and not making much money, despite working nonstop.

Then she found the right business model, and by implementing what she teaches in Get Known, Get Clients, was able to generate $157,000 in her new coaching business in one short year. And she was able to pull this off despite having no clients and no email list when she first got started.

Second, I was drawn to Selena’s program because, like me, she’s an introvert. And if Selena can create an uber-successful business as an introvert, then that means other introverted business owners can too.

And third, Get Known, Get Clients was a perfect complement to the way I teach marketing and outreach, which relies more on online networking, web marketing, and nailing your compelling marketing message and conveying it with personality on your website, whereas what Selena teaches, while incorporating some of those elements, relies more heavily on creating a business model that will set you up for success, creating premium packages and programs, and developing relationships with VIPs and influencers, etc. (This is a short list of what you’ll learn in GKGC.)

My Personal Experience in the Program and My Results

Before I share my results, let me point out that as of May 2015 I’m still implementing a few of the strategies and tasks that I didn’t complete during the course (the course ended in November 2014).

When I take a course, I keep on top of the weekly coursework, attend all the live trainings and Q & A’s, interact in the community, and implement what I can as I go along, but I often crank out the majority of the implementation part in a massive push after I finish a course, so I can focus on showing up and availing myself of the training while it’s happening live. Because, you know, there’s only so much time in the day.

I bring this up because your results may vary – if you implement faster you may achieve different results. That said, I still got kick-butt results from GKGC, and I haven’t finished knocking out all of Selena’s advanced strategies yet.

So, here’s what I accomplished:

:: I put together a lower-priced offering based on the work I did in the first module of the course, Identify Your Target Market, and did $1396 in sales ($349 x 4).

:: Two of these clients provided referrals to other clients.

:: Two of the clients who booked me for the $349 offering then signed on with me for copywriting projects, which resulted in an additional $3396 in income.

:: During the target audience interviews from the same module, I sold some copyediting for around $300, without even trying.

:: A second person from the same set of target audience interviews also wanted to hire me for a project, but I simply didn’t have the bandwidth at the time, and had to say no.

[It’s important to point out that the target audience interviews weren’t meant to be sales or promo conversations in any way. As Selena teaches (and provides scripts for!), they were conversations meant to connect with my target audience and find out what their challenges were so I could create exactly the kind of offerings they would be happy to pay for. Booking the new projects as a result of doing the interviews was an unexpected bonus.]

:: I started attracting and working with more of my ideal clients, and charging more for my services.

:: And the very best thing I accomplished as a result of the work I did in GKGC was the ability to leave my onsite freelance writing gig to go fully out on my own with my copywriting and marketing consulting business 3 months after completing the course. I am practically floating on air just writing that!

These are the more tangible results I got from investing in Get Known, Get Clients. There’s more though – I gained a whole new level of confidence in my services, and especially, in my ability to get premium clients who are just right for what I have to offer and happy to invest in working with me.

Let’s just say lots of mindset shifts happened for me during and after the program, mindset shifts which have directly impacted my ability to get premium ideal clients and increase my income, and which will continue to serve me over the life of my business. And that is priceless.

Your mileage may vary, but if you implement what Selena teaches, I don’t see how you wouldn’t create similar, or even better, results in your own business.

What You’ll Learn in the Program

You’ll learn to identify your target market, create your valuable offerings, have genuine sales conversations that get clients excited to work with you, how to get referral partners, how to elevate your personal branding, how to speak to sell, how to build your email list, how to connect with VIPs and influencers, how to create your launch plan, how to create a team to grow your business, and more.

You can get detailed info about what’s in the course right here:

Get Known, Get Clients Course Information

How GKGC is Not Like Other Programs

:: GKGC is set up to start getting you wins quickly. As I mentioned above, I started to get results right away, in the very first module, simply by doing the homework. (And by “results,” I mean actual clients and actual sales, not just “mindset shifts,” as important and necessary as those are.)

:: GKGC teaches you how to get clients NOW, even if you don’t have a website or an email list, which I felt was one of the program’s biggest benefits.

:: It’s a 6 month program, which is longer than any online training I’ve ever done by about 4 months. And that means you’ll get plenty of opportunities to interact with Selena directly and get your questions answered.

:: I also found the private Facebook group to be uber-helpful as well. Not only is Selena in there consistently answering questions and offering feedback, but you’ll also have the opportunity to get to know and interact with your colleagues in the course.

:: There are 3 live training calls per month, 18 opportunities in total in which you’ll have direct access to coaching and feedback from Selena. I’ve invested in other pricey programs where getting your question answered is as rare as winning the dang lotto! Not so here. Selena knows every single person in the program and genuinely cares about each person’s success. That came through in a big way when I took the course in 2014. (By the way, this is the last time Selena will be teaching Get Known, Get Clients LIVE and offering this much personal coaching. So if you’re interested in getting extra support, now’s the time to join.)

:: There are regular check-ins from Selena and her team to keep you on track, and homework designed to get you to implement what you’ve learned quickly.

:: You’ll receive word-for-word scripts for everything you’re asked to do in the course so you’re never left figuring out how to apply the strategies Selena teaches. Scripts for having genuine sales conversations, asking for referrals, exactly what to ask in your target market interviews, and lots more, are all part of the course.

:: I felt supported and “seen” in this program in a way I haven’t in other online training programs. As I mentioned before, Selena will know exactly who you are, and exactly what your business is about.

Is Get Known, Get Clients Right for You?

Like any training program worth its salt, this program is definitely not for everyone.

If you’re committed up to the eyeballs right now, it might not be the best choice for you. That was my situation when I took GKGC last year – between my client work, the GKGC course load, and my other obligations, there were times I felt like a was on the verge of an over-commitment nervous breakdown.

But hey, I’m still here and I didn’t get committed to the psych ward, and I achieved increased sales, new ideal clients, and other compelling benefits from doing the program, so it all turned out for the best.

The most time-consuming homework was front-loaded into the first two-three modules though, so once I got through that, I started to feel almost sane again. To be clear, this pickle wasn’t because of the GKGC course load specifically, but because I had a boatload of other stuff going on at the same time. Just a little tip from me to you.

The course homework and implementation takes time, but if you stick with it and you do the work, you will get results. I’m still implementing what I learned nearly 6 months after completing GKGC, but I got some results very quickly, which kept me motivated and helped me stay committed to doing the work each week.

If you’re anything like me, GKGC will also take you out of your comfort zone, maybe even way out of your comfort zone. That’s what I wanted going in, though, because I know that’s where the real results and big wins are.

But there were weeks I was really resistant to doing the homework, because I was, well, terrified. Such as the week we had to set up and have sales conversations. Which turned out to be not that big of a deal once I did a couple, so the joke was on me.

If any of the above puts you off, then I’d say this is definitely not the course for you.

It’s also not right for you if:

:: You don’t have a business idea, or you haven’t started your business yet. You can be in the early stages of your business, but you have to have one to work on in this course.

:: You aren’t good at receiving and acting upon feedback, or have a “that won’t work for me” attitude.

:: You have a product-based business. Get Known, Get Clients is specifically for coaches, consultants, and service providers – people who offer expert, advice-based services.

:: You want overnight success or need to make $10,000 by next Tuesday.

:: Taking the course would be a financial hardship for you. I always tell people that if making an investment like this will cause them anxiety and stress beyond the usual, “wow, I’ve never invested this much in myself before” variety, that is, if it would put them in a real financial bind, then they should say no and come back to it when there’s more leeway in their budget.

GKGC is probably right for you if:

:: You’re tired of “playing business” – you’re ready to learn and implement the advanced strategies that will help you make big leaps in getting new clients, increasing your income, and securing higher profile opportunities to share your work with the world.

:: You’re looking for a high-touch program with lots of personal attention.

:: You feel great about the work you’re doing, you’re very good at it, and you’re ready to play on a bigger, more high-profile stage.

:: You’re not afraid of hard work or getting out of your comfort zone. You’re also an action-taker and an implementer.

:: You want a clear step-by-step system to generate consistent revenue in your business.

Why I’m Promoting Get Known, Get Clients

If you’ve been around these here parts for a while, you’ll notice I don’t actively promote other people’s paid programs on my site, on my blog, or in my newsletter.

I decided to promote GKGC for one simple reason: because I went through the program myself and it works – I got what I consider to be really good results, results that allowed me to leave my corporate writing gig and go out on my own, something I still sometimes have to pinch myself to believe.

And because the impact of GKGC has been so positive for me, I knew when the time came, I wanted to share it with my own audience.

Now to be crystal clear, I am an affiliate for Selena’s program. This means I get a commission if you sign up directly through me. And that’s why if you purchase through my link, you’ll get access to the exclusive bonuses listed below.

My Get Known, Get Clients Bonuses for 2015

I understand that GKGC is a meaningful investment, and one not to be taken lightly, and I know the work may at times feel overwhelming and/or uncomfortable to do.

So I wanted to put together a bonus that will help relieve some of the anxiety when you get to the modules in the course that involve optimizing your personal brand, and writing and messaging, specifically, and I think I’ve come up with a meaningful way to support you.

This will ensure you keep the GKGC momentum going and don’t get bogged down in the writing/messaging part you need to nail down in order to magnetize your ideal clients with your website and related copy.

Please note that the price of GKGC does not change when you sign up through my link, but I do earn a commission which allows me to offer the following bonuses:

:: Web Copy Transformation Package: This is where I apply my copywriter’s “let’s uncover and highlight the sales-inducing benefits in your web copy” brain to the three key pages of your website – your Home page, About page, and Services or Programs page – and we work side-by-side to edit and transform your copy from lackluster to luminous, so it’s more compelling and client-attractive to your target audience.

:: 60-minute one-on-one web copy strategy session: Over the course of GKGC, you’ll be developing your personal brand, creating or refining your compelling opt-in offer, writing a nurture sequence for your email list, creating your valuable offerings, and other important copywriting-related tasks. In this 60-minute session, you’ll have the opportunity to pick my copywriter’s brain and ask questions about any of the writing tasks you have to implement during the Get Known, Get Clients course, with a focus on highlighting the benefits of your brand and your offerings in a way that most appeals to your ideal clients.

:: Review of one guest post pitch and one guest post/article + copyediting suggestions to make it sing!

:: Review of your compelling opt-in offer and email opt-in form copy + copyediting, so you can get those website visitors falling all over themselves to sign up for your email list.

*Please note, you’ll get access to your bonuses after you complete the Personal Branding Module OR after you complete the full course, whichever works best for you.

How to Access Your Bonuses

Simply email me at Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston.com to let me know you’ve enrolled in the program so I can slot you into your very own place on my copywriting and strategy session schedule. I’ll email you back to say hi, and share my best contact info so you can reach out when you’re ready to claim your bonuses!

[Note: The bonuses are only available after GKGC’s refund period is over.]

What to Do Next

I know if you apply yourself in the program, Selena can help you get big results. If 2015 is the year you vowed to invest in yourself and grow your business, and you want the kind of personal attention and support you won’t get in other group programs of this caliber, then GKGC could be exactly what you need.

If you also know you could benefit from one-on-one copywriting advice and strategy to really apply what you learn in Get Known, Get Clients to your business, click here to enroll in the program through my special link.

Have questions? Please feel free to email me at Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston.com and I’ll get back to you within 24-48 business hours! And whatever you decide, I wish you the very best of luck!

 

Authentic Marketing & Selling for Introverted Creatives

{What’s this post about in a nutshell? How to market your work if you’re a creative and/or an introvert and don’t feel comfortable promoting yourself.}

Let me guess.

If you’re a photographer, writer, illustrator, web designer, crafter, fine artist, interior designer, musician, or virtually any other kind of creative person who earns a living (or would like to) from your creative pursuits, you don’t feel entirely comfortable promoting yourself or your work.

Sure, you get that marketing and selling is necessary to make the wheels on the business bus go round and round, but you really wish you could just hire someone to do all that marketing and selling stuff for you, so you could stay in your creative cave and make stuff.

I get it.

But at the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own success, and the “build it and they will come” approach usually only works in the land of unicorns and rainbows.

Back in the real world, we have to create our own opportunities.

That said, as an introverted creative myself, I’ve found that creating a robust presence online is the best way to build buzz around your work and “promote” yourself and your services without feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut, as we say here in the dirty South.

So I’ve rounded up some of the very best advice on doing just that to share with you here.

Behold, dozens of great ideas for building buzz around your work in a way that feels authentic and doable:

49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art

In which Leanne Regalla, in a guest post on Boost Blog Traffic, poses (and answers) the question, “For today’s artist, building a tribe is non-negotiable. But how?”

If you’ve ever doubted that blogging could help you sell your creative products or services, this read is for you.

You’ll find inspiring examples of musicians, visual artists, illustrators, writers, actors, music producers, filmmakers and other creatives who used blogging to create a platform from which they consistently and successfully sell their ideas and their work.

Go check it out here:

49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art 

Why Artists and Creatives Have an Unfair Advantage at Internet Marketing

If you still have doubts that creating your own robust home online can help you make a good living from your creative pursuits, then do yourself a favor and be sure to read this piece, in which Mark McGuinness, poet, coach and creative entrepreneur lays out the built-in advantages creatives have when it comes to marketing online. (With examples! And we do love us some examples ’round here.)

Love his truth-telling here: “Probably the biggest hurdle for many creative people is the very idea of putting yourself out there and selling things. You might worry that it feels like ‘selling out’. Or that it’s just plain scary. I’m afraid I can’t sugarcoat this bit: if you want to earn a living from your creative work, you need to learn how to sell.”

And that’s the truth, folks. But selling doesn’t have to be scary when you do it the way McGuinness recommends.

Learn more about the “unfair advantage” your creativity gives you when it comes to marketing and selling and how to put it into practice here:

Why Artists and Creatives Have an Unfair Advantage at Internet Marketing

Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First.

I particularly loved this article because of its focus on something I talk about a lot on this blog and in my weekly newsletter: the absolute necessity of differentiating yourself online (or offline, if that’s how you do business) if you want to find your ideal clients and customers and achieve success as a creative business builder.

As the authors (successful creative business builders themselves) point out, one very effective and easy-to-implement way to do this is to share your story, and they outline their 5 element formula for sharing a captivating story that engages likely buyers.

And best of all, they include real! live! examples! of how it’s done.

Check it out the article here:

Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First.

Effective marketing for introverts

Here successful writer, web designer, and all-around fabulous creative Paul Jarvis aptly notes that a lot of the knowledge out there on marketing and promotion is not geared to introverts, and shares his own effective self-promotion process.

I love that his advice is about playing to your natural strengths when it comes to promoting your work; it’s not about trying to force the kind of marketing you’re often told you “should” or “must” do, you know, even if it makes your skin crawl.

As he says, “As long as you’re sharing your work with other people—the right people—then you’re marketing. Because really, all marketing is, is communication. And even introverts know how to do that, even if it’s in small doses.”

Find out more here:

Effective marketing for introverts

The Introvert’s Guide to Book Marketing

In which book marketing expert Tim Grahl shares how introverts can become good at marketing. While he’s talking specifically to authors, the tenets here are adaptable to marketing any kind of creative product or service.

I love that Grahl focuses on mindset first. After all, we are responsible for creating our own success, and if your thinking tends to be of the “marketing is icky and slimy” variety, you’ve simply got to rid yourself of that mindset if you want to earn a good living from your creative pursuits.

As Grahl says, “Once you change your perspective from ‘marketing is tricking people into buying something they don’t want’ to ‘marketing is helping people connect with my meaningful work,’ it takes on an entirely different tone.”

Hear, hear! And read all about it here:

The Introvert’s Guide to Book Marketing

And there you have it. A boatload of great advice on marketing and selling for introverted creatives from writers who know whereof they speak.

Which of the strategies these writers share are you most excited to pursue? Let me know in the comments!

For Creative Business Builders: A Powerful Yet Painless Way to Market Your Business That Practically Does the Selling for You

Most creatives I’ve worked with or talked to have some level of discomfort around the idea of marketing and selling. Sure, they want to earn a good living from their creative products and services, but they practically writhe in agony at the notion of actually having to market, or even scarier, having to sell. 

Look, I get it. Marketing and selling can bring up all kinds of uneasiness. You don’t want to seem intrusive, pushy, or even worse . . . scammy

But, and this is the truth, authentic marketing isn’t pushy or sleazy, it’s simply deeply connecting with your ideal audience and communicating that you can provide a product or service that is beneficial to them, that they already want, or they wouldn’t be searching for it online and have landed on your website in the first place. For more on this idea, check out a post I wrote called They Want You to Be the One (so stop being afraid to market yourself).

That said, there is a powerful way to market your stuff that feels genuine and easy, and in fact, practically does the selling for you, if done correctly.

What is this thing I speak of?

Client testimonials.

Client and customer testimonials are social proof and third party validation all rolled into one. And because of the third party validation aspect, much more persuasive to would-be clients than anything you say about yourself. Potential clients trust them because they’re essentially a referral from someone who doesn’t benefit directly if a new client signs on with you.   

It’s akin to a lesson I learned when I worked in advertising and PR: any business can pay for advertising, but not any business can get written up in Forbes or Inc. magazine, which is why third party endorsement via good PR was much more valuable to my PR clients back in the day than big, glossy ads in high profile publications. 

It’s the same with client testimonials.  

If you have a page of glowing testimonials on your website that speak to the transformational work you do and the results you get for clients, referring potential clients and customers to this page during the client-getting courtship phase can do a lot of the making-a-sale heavy lifting for you. And in way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re twisting arms or coercing anyone to do anything against their will.  And who doesn’t want that? 

So, how do you get your current and past clients and customers to give you the kind of testimonials that persuade new clients to find out more about working with you? 

Well, I’m going to share some wonderful resources on how to tackle that very thing at the end of this blog post, because it’s been covered very adeptly by other people I admire and respect who can show you how it’s done.

What I want to share with you here are a few patient testimonials I wrote for a medical center client that highlight transformation stories, a very persuasive form of third party validation. You can adapt the same idea for your own business to create client testimonials on steroids. 

Note the powerful impact of storytelling in these four examples: 

CPR Saves a Life and Forges a New Friendship 

NHRMC eased Eileen’s pain so she could get back to her garden . . . and start planning her African safari. 

A fall paralyzed her. The trauma experts at NHRMC helped her get back on her feet. 

Minimally invasive spine surgery helps Dianne get back to active life. 

Now obviously you don’t want to copy the style and layout of these examples. I share them with you strictly to use as idea generators for thinking about how you can have your clients tell the story of their transformation, or the key aha moments they experienced after working with you or buying your products. Then craft this client feedback into compelling stories that speak to what’s possible when clients and customers work with you, as in the examples here.   

:: If you’d like someone experienced at extracting persuasive stories from clients and creating testimonials like the ones above, get in touch with me at: Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com, and let’s talk specifics. I’ll create a custom proposal based on your specific needs.

Resources for Creating Powerful Testimonials

Here’s a brief article by publicity/marketing/business expert Melissa Cassera in which she shares a simple two-step approach to getting testimonials. Love her suggestion here that’s its less stressful for the client and will net better results for you if you ask for “feedback” rather than a “testimonial.”

How To Get Your Customers To Write AMAZING Reviews (Without Begging, Pleading Or Being Pushy + Creepy) 

How to Get Testimonials That Get You Business, wherein business coach Christine Kane share 7 tips for getting great client testimonials that will help increase your sales.

And from the fine folks at Copyblogger, here are 6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials. Highly recommended. If you only have time to read one of the posts linked up here, please make it this one.

And finally, here business coach and consultant Erica Lyremark shares 3 quick formulas for writing powerful testimonials, in Testimonials Made Easy.

And if you want to understand – and implement – the power of storytelling in your marketing (client testimonials are a great place to do this), read this article:

 Science of storytelling: why and how to use it in your marketing: A look at how humans have always loved stories, and six tips for incorporating them into your digital marketing 

And there you have it. If you have any questions or comments, please share them in the comments section below, and happy testimonials creating!

For Photographers: The Simple Yet Powerful Website Copy Tweak That Will Win You More Clients (& How to Implement It)

photography web marketing

[NOTE: Though this post is geared to photographers, the principles apply to all creatives selling any kind of product or service.]

Photographers, I love you. Fine art photographers, wedding photographers, lifestyle photographers, product photographers, pretty much all of you.

For years, I wanted to be among you:  a working photographer, making a living from photography.  I chased this dream for some time.  I took a year-long course in photography at my local community college, worked for a local photographer as an assistant, then put together a portfolio and applied to the photography program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Lucky for me, I was accepted into the program. Unluckily, I decided art school wasn’t in the cards for me at that moment. I moved to New York anyway and went to “regular” college, taking a few photography courses during the three years I lived there between other commitments.

I share this with you because I want you to know that my heart is with you, that I’m not coming to you strictly from a place of sharing advice on how to write persuasive web copy that can help you win more clients in your photography business, but also from a place of big, full-hearted, sappy love for the work you do every day.

Now that we’ve established that, let’s talk about the simple yet powerful web copy tweak that can help you win more clients. But first . . . .

The Problem with Most Photography Websites

Many photographers make the serious mistake of assuming their gorgeous images will speak for themselves to sell their services and get clients, imagining that once a potential customer sees the talent evident in the online portfolio, they’ll immediately reach out and inquire about working together.

Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

While having a web presence and an online portfolio is a great first step, it’s not enough. The “build it and they will come” approach simply does not work online, where you’re competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of other photographers in your town who provide exactly the same service you do. And if you live in a big city, thousands of other photographers.

Since your potential clients can easily find at least two dozen other talented photographers whose images are just as stunning as yours with a simple Google search, you’re going to have to show them more than your gorgeous portfolio to get them interested in hiring you.

What Potential Clients Are Looking For

What a potential client is looking for when they land on your photography site is evidence that you clearly understand who they are as a client, that you have the solution they’re looking for, and that you, specifically, are exactly the person to provide that solution.  

In other words, they want you to be “the one.” They’ve been searching and searching online, and they’re feeling frustrated that they’ve already been to 12 other wedding photography/lifestyle photography/insert your photography specialty here websites, and they can’t distinguish one photographer from the next. They want to land on your site and think, “This is it, I’ve found the ideal photographer for my job at last. I can stop searching, cue the trumpets.”

This is why you get price-shopped, by the way. Because most photography websites look nearly identical to one another and most photographers provide similar services, the ONLY thing potential clients have to go on to distinguish you from your competition is your price, so naturally they’ll choose the person with the lowest price.  This is not the kind of client you want.

{To learn more about web surfing behavior and what potential customers are looking for when they search online for that thing you do, check out 7 Ways to Improve Your Web Copy Today for Better Sales: Basics for Creative Entrepreneurs. And pay particular attention to Item #2, where I share an example from the world of wedding photography.}

So how do you convey to your ideal clients that you’re the right photographer for their project? You do it through compelling, client-focused web copy. That’s the simple yet powerful website copy tweak that will win you more clients: CLIENT-FOCUSED web copy.

That may sound way too simple, but you’d be surprised how many photography websites don’t adhere to this simple, yet persuasive principle. (Lots of other kinds of websites don’t either, by the way, not just photography sites.)

Your web copy must connect with the reader/potential client and speak to what’s important to them as a photography client, as opposed to using company-centric copy that focuses mostly on the company, i.e., with language like “our goal,” “we have,” “we specialize in,” etc.

Because the edifying truth is, people don’t really care who you are, they want to know how you can help them. They’re seeking the answer to the question, “WIIFM?,” meaning, “What’s in it for me?”

So what you want your web content to do is make an emotional connection with your ideal clients through speaking directly to their desires, wants and needs in a way that makes them eager to do business with you.

Building the Foundation: How to Create Compelling Client-Focused Web Copy

To create persuasive web copy that effectively sells your services, you have to get the foundation in place first.  This is critical work that if left undone, will create frustration, vexation, and irritation (you can tell we love our thesaurus around here), loads of wasted time, and frankly, will attract more than your fair share of pain-in-the-butt, price-shopping clients. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

On the other hand, if you do the foundational work first, creating compelling web copy for every page on your site, from your Home page, to your About page, to your Services and Pricing pages, and everything in between, becomes a breeze.

This foundational work consists of:

#1: Figuring out who your ideal clients are so you can speak directly to them with a targeted and persuasive marketing message

#2: Determining what makes your work, your process, your services, or the way you do business different, better, more special, or more compelling to these ideal clients than others who do what you do, also known as your unique selling proposition

I cannot stress enough how important these two steps are to creating your compelling marketing message; everything flows from this.  It will inform everything else in your business, from the kind of clients you work with, to the services you offer, to how and who you market to, to your tagline and your client pitches, and lots more besides.

Stick with me, I’m going to tell you how to do this.

{If you want to read the story of the exhaustion, struggle and overwhelm I experienced in my business and how I resolved it by figuring out my ideal clients and unique selling proposition, check out Creatives: Are You Making These 3 Web Marketing Mistakes?}

Defining Your Ideal Clients

This is the fun stuff – where you get to dream up exactly the kind of person who would be perfect for your services and who you’d L-O-V-E to work with. 

Because the bottom line is, if you haven’t defined your ideal client/perfect customer/target audience, then you’re trying to talk to “everybody” with your web content – which means it’s most likely bland and boring and homogenous.  And that means that as lovingly crafted and well-written as it may be, it won’t convert the right readers into your dream clients and potential clients. Say it with me: bland and boring does not convert!

To find out more about defining your ideal clients, including the opportunity to download a free Defining Your Audience Checklist, check out The Dreadful Client-Repelling Mistake That Will Keep You Broke (and how to fix it). The downloadable checklist is at the end of the blog post.

How to Uncover Your Unique Selling Proposition

Once you’ve determined who your ideal clients are, you can begin to work out what your unique selling proposition is. Your USP is simply the collection of factors unique to you and your business that compel your ideal clients to choose you over someone else who offers the same product or service.  In fact, who you serve – your ICA or “ideal client avatar” – can be part of your unique selling proposition.

The benefit of a well-defined USP is that you’ll begin to connect with and convert your ideal clients, instead of ending up with the ones who make you want to plunge daggers into your eyes.  Because when a potential ideal client lands on your website and sees it’s not like the hundreds of photography sites they found when they were Googling that thing you do, they will stop and take notice, instead of trucking right on past your website never to return.

To find out how to uncover your USP, including the opportunity to download a free Defining Your USP Checklist, check out Creatives: How to Uncover Your Unique Selling Proposition (and why you need to). The downloadable checklist is at the end of the blog post.

In that post you’ll find a couple of examples of creative service providers doing differentiation right, so you can see what that looks like in the context of writing client-focused web copy. On a similar note, you might want to check out this guest post I wrote called 6 Authentic, Low-Cost Ways to Differentiate Yourself Online to Attract Your Ideal Clients and Customers.

Ok, So You’ve Figured Out Your ICA (Ideal Client Avatar) and USP (Unique Selling Proposition), Now What?

Once you’ve knocked out these two very important first steps, you’re ready to implement what you’ve discovered about your ICA and USP to create compelling client-focused copy on your web site. The foundational work you’ve now done makes this much easier.

I would start with the Home page and the About page first, because those are the two most visited pages on most websites.

(For more information on writing an effective About page, including a template created especially for creatives, check out For Creatives: The Secret to Transforming Your Boring, Lackluster About Page into an Ideal Client-Attracting Magnet.  At the end of that blog post you’ll have an opportunity to get the template I use to write About pages for clients, gratis, of course.)

Now on to the Home page. You want to think of your Home page as a virtual storefront – unless you provide a warm, welcoming, value-packed reason to come inside, people are going to walk right on by.

On the web, that means potential ideal clients will click away from your site faster than green grass through a goose if you don’t instantly demonstrate value and relevance to them.

Your Home page needs to: 

Convince busy web visitors on a mission to find specific, problem-solving information to stay on your site long enough to read further, find out what you’re about, and take some kind of action – such as checking out your products and services, signing up for your email list, or requesting a quote/more information, etc.

And because of the way people read and search on the web, you only have a few seconds to do this.

Here’s a down-and-dirty Home page checklist that will help you get yours in tip-top shape.

An effective Home page will do these 5 things:

1. Demonstrate that you understand your target audience’s problems

2. Offer a solution to those problems by sharing the benefits of what you have to offer, clearly, concisely, and compellingly.

3. Explain how solving the problem will improve your clients’ lives. See copywriting power tip #1, below.

4. Let your website visitors and potential customers know how you’re different from the competition and what makes you uniquely qualified to solve their problems.

5. Include a clear call to action. Very simply, this means giving them something to do next that will deepen the relationship with you, such as reading your blog or signing up for your email list, etc.

Remember, all the copy on this page needs to be client-focused. It’s less about you and more about your potential client’s wants, needs, and desires.

Your Home page will demonstrate what you can do to make your clients’ lives easier, better, healthier, richer, more successful or what have you, depending on the exact product or service you provide.

While the blog post linked up here is not strictly about Home pages, you’ll find some helpful advice on wooing and engaging potential buyers with web copy:  Why Most Product Websites Make Me Sad: The Good, the Bad, and the Unsightly.

For the fine art photographers reading this, I know you may think that these suggestions won’t work for you. If that’s the case, I suggest you check out this post I wrote on how you can apply copywriting principles to what you do:  Can Copywriting Principles Work for Visual Artists?

A Powerful Way to Reel ‘Em In: Three Bonus Client-Attracting Copywriting Power Tips

Copywriting Power Tip #1:  “Paint a Picture”

Whatever services you offer – wedding photography, lifestyle photography, product photography, even fine art photography – you need to help your potential clients and customers see the vision of what can be for them when they use your services or buy your work – their ideal outcome.

A very effective way to do this is to “paint a picture” with your web copy. Get the nitty-gritty details of how to do that here:  What a Personal Development Classic from 1959 Can Teach You About Writing Web Copy That Sells.

Copywriting Power Tip #2:  Inject Personality

One of the most common website faults among creative service providers is boring, bland, and flavorless web copy.  Remember, bland and boring does not sell.  And since bland, boring copy is a common malady all over the web, if you buck that trend, you’ll stand out – in a good way.

There are creative ways to invest even the most plain, utilitarian thing with personality through the use of compelling web copy. That said, creative services typically are not bland and boring, so your web copy shouldn’t be either. Copy with personality gets remembered, creates desire for your services, and more importantly, sells more effectively than homogenous, dull as dirt web copy.

This doesn’t mean you have to get crazy, mind you. If you’re more Josh Groban than David Lee Roth, then own it, and let that shine through in your web and other marketing.

To learn more about using personality in web copy, check out these two posts: How to Sell Any Boring Old Thing with Scandalously Good Copy and If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: The Baby Carrot Story and Using Personality in Marketing.

Copywriting Power Tip #3: Tap into the Power of Emotion

One of the most important pieces of advice I can ever share with you about writing compelling copy that persuades people to buy your creative services, is to tap into the power of emotion in your copy. Buying decisions are emotional decisions.  People buy based on emotion and justify purchases based on logic.

You may have heard that little bon mot dozens of times, but what does it mean in practice?

Think about chocolate cake.  Or Krispy Kreme donuts.  (Mmmm, donuts . . . as Homer Simpson would say.) If people acted rationally they wouldn’t buy these things – sugar is bad for you, it’s not nutritious, and it makes you fat – it’s nothing but empty, unhealthy calories.  But cake and donuts are both multi-million dollar industries because eating them makes you feel good.

So when writing your web copy, you want to make an emotional connection with your ideal clients that makes them feel good, or excited, happy, inspired, relieved, encouraged, understood, relaxed, or any one of dozens of other emotions, depending on the exact service you offer.

So, how do you figure out the deeper emotional benefit you want to tap into? One way to go beyond the surface benefits your product/service offers to get to the core emotional benefits your customers want is through the use of what’s called the “so what?” technique.  It’s simple, and it works.

Learn the “so what?” technique and how to apply it here: What Can Chocolate Cake and Donuts Teach You About Selling More?

The bottom line: you have to use client-focused copy to create an emotional connection – that’s how you stand out among all the other talented photographers online, and that’s how your right people will find you.

And there you have it, my talented photographer friends – the simple website copy tweak that will win you more clients: client-focused web copy, and how to create it.

I know this was a heckuva lot to take in all at once, so here are the steps again, simplified:

  1. Figure out who your ideal clients are and what they desire (I pointed you to a free downloadable worksheet for this)
  2. Determine your unique selling proposition (Ditto on the free downloadable worksheet)
  3. Use this information to create compelling client-focused web copy that speaks to your ideal clients wants, needs and desires, starting with the Home page and About page on your site

But wait, there’s more!

You might find this post I wrote on taglines valuable as you re-work your website copy to focus on your ideal clients. It’s a dead-simple formula for creating a tagline for your creative business in 20 minutes flat: Taglines 101: How to Create a Tagline for Your Creative Business.

Questions? Comments?  Leave ’em below! 

To get on the VIP List to find out when my upcoming course — 30 Days to a Magnetic Marketing Message That Sells: A Course for Wedding, Portrait, and Lifestyle Photographers — drops, head right over here.

[For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other fun stuff for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]

What Can Chocolate Cake and Donuts Teach You About Selling More?

chocolate cake & persuasive copy

Image by Max Straeten

One of the most important pieces of advice I can ever share with you about writing compelling copy that persuades people to buy your creative products and services is to tap into the power of emotion in your copy.

Buying decisions are emotional decisions.  People buy based on emotion and justify purchases based on logic. Yes, you’ve probably heard that little bon mot dozens of times, but what does it mean in practice?

Think about chocolate cake.  Or Krispy Kreme donuts.  (Mmmm, donuts . . . as Homer Simpson would say.)

If people acted rationally they wouldn’t buy these things – sugar is bad for you, it’s not nutritious, and it makes you fat – it’s nothing but empty, unhealthy calories. 

But cake and donuts are both multi-million dollar industries because they make you feel good.

So when writing your web copy, you want to make an emotional connection with your ideal clients that makes them feel good, or excited, happy, inspired, relieved, encouraged, understood, relaxed, or any one of dozens of other emotions, depending on the product or service you offer.

Worth-repeating-until-eternity step number one is always, always, ALWAYS knowing who your ideal client is and what they need/desire – everything flows from this. 

You really want to get inside their heads and figure out the deeper emotional benefit they’re seeking as a result of buying your product or service.  What is the core desire you’re tapping into with what you sell?

If you make one-of-a-kind jewelry, it could be your customer’s desire to feel unique and special, and therefore validated as the quirky individual she is. If you sell knitwear for infants, it could be that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from your customer knowing how safe and warm her baby is in the wintry weather, all while looking too adorable for words.

So, how do you figure out the deeper emotional benefit you want to tap into with your copy?

One way to go beyond the surface benefits your product/service offers to get to the core emotional benefits your customers want is through the use of what’s called the “so what?” technique.  Ask “so what?” until you feel like you’ve gotten to the real benefit your thing provides.

Here’s an example from some work I did with a professional organizer to help her figure out the core emotional benefit of her email opt-in offer:

These tools will help you get more organized. (surface benefit)

So what?

Your home will be less cluttered and look nicer. (surface benefit)

So what?

You’ll feel less frazzled and actually be able to really relax and enjoy your family when you’re at home, because everything is tidy and in its right place. (deeper benefit)

So what?

You’ll enjoy high quality family time the way it was meant to be enjoyed, because there won’t be petty annoyances and frustrations from nagging the kids or the husband to keep things neat or put things away, etc. Time at home will be spent watching a movie, or playing a game, or cooking a meal together and other fun and satisfying family activities.  (even deeper benefit)

So what?

You’ve created this wonderful oasis that your family loves spending time in together and you’re all bonding and getting along so well – wow, you really care about your family, you’re an amazing wife and Mom.  (Bingo! Core emotional benefit.)  

The emotional benefit the professional organizer’s audience – busy Moms with young kids and an active family life – wants to achieve is a calm environment that benefits the whole family and creates stress-free family time. With this in mind, one idea I pitched for the name of her opt-in offer was a handy organizing guide called:

From Chaos to Calm: 9 Easy-to-Use, Inexpensive Tools to Get Your Home and Family Organized, Eliminate Overwhelm, and (Finally!) Create a Stress-Free Oasis Your Family Can’t Wait to Come Home To

So the bottom line is, you want to convey how your creative goods or services enhance your customers’ lives by demonstrating the emotional benefits of owning/experiencing them, like we did here with the professional organizer’s opt-in offer. 

And that’s what chocolate cake and donuts can teach you about selling more: tap into what makes your ideal audience feel good.

Your turn: what’s the name of your business and the core emotional benefit it provides?  Let me know in the comments section!

[Sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other fun stuff for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]  

Can Copywriting Principles Work for Visual Artists?

image by Clarita

image by Clarita

Recently I received an email from a subscriber who had just downloaded my Creative Rebel Guide to Writing a Client-Attracting About Page and thought it was “just fantastic!,” to use her words.

But there was a small problem.

She mentioned that as a visual artist and not a service provider, the suggestions in the guide wouldn’t really work for her, because, as she said, “I don’t offer solutions to peoples’ challenges or other services like design or advice.” 

Here’s the thing, though.

Anyone selling anything, online or elsewhere, can benefit from using tried-and-true copywriting and marketing principles to win clients and buyers, and make sales.  It all starts with getting clear on who your ideal buyers are – whether they are collectors, clients, customers or whatever you call them in your world based on what it is you provide – and what they want.

Because I know there are other visual artists out there who struggle with how to apply copywriting and marketing principles in their business, I thought I would share my response to this lovely reader so those of you in the same position can start thinking of how you can do the same:

Thanks for getting in touch, and thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it!

Let me just say I still think you could adapt the advice in the Creative Rebel Guide to Writing a Client-Attracting About Page to your work as a fine artist.  Once you get clear on why your clients buy art from you, you can tap into that to write your About page. [And any other copy on your website.]

Mainly, the advice in the guide is about focusing on your clients and customers in your website copy and on what they are seeking, then positioning yourself as someone who can deliver that to them. You are delivering the *experience* of art to them, and they will have all kinds of motivations for buying art from you, so the key is to figure out what those motivations are and tap into that in your website copy.

So although you create fine art, that IS the solution some people are seeking — they want to experience beauty, or create a beautiful home – and fine art is part of that – or maybe they collect art because it makes them feel “special.”  There can be many motivations for why people buy your work, and if you can home in on what those reasons are, you can write your About page, or any other copy on your website, to focus on those needs and emotional drivers in a way that really connects with your ideal clients and customers.

I hope this makes sense, and I wish you the very best of luck!

Cheers,

Kimberly

So, for you fine artists and other visual artists out there, what are your thoughts? What has your experience been with using copywriting and/or marketing principles to attract clients or collectors and sell your work? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Let me know in the comments!

[Sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]  

How to Tap Into Your Natural Sales Superpower: Two Quick Tips

No matter how you currently feel about sales as a topic (maybe that it’s icky, pushy, sleazy, manipulative – any of these ring a bell?) or your own sales ability in this moment, you already possess a natural ability to sell. And it doesn’t involve any of the afore-mentioned limiting beliefs about what sales is or does.

Yes, you – you have a natural ability to sell. In fact, you’re having “sales conversations” all the time, and you’ve been doing it all your life.

Think about it. When you were growing up, how often did you try to “sell” your parents on taking you to the mall, or letting you stay up late, or buying you something special, even when it wasn’t Christmas or your birthday?  

When you were in school, did you ever try to convince your friends skip school, or have a party when their parents were out of town, or to find out if that special boy or girl “liked” you?

As an adult, have you ever tried to talk your significant other into taking a trip, going out to dinner, or picking up his/her socks, fer cryin’ out loud? Or persuading your kids to clean their rooms or do their homework?

And when a friend asks you to recommend a hair salon, dog groomer, dry cleaners or a restaurant, how easy is it for you to wax poetic about your favorite service provider in any of these categories?

These are all sales conversations, of a sort. Of the authentic, unforced, perfectly natural and comfortable variety. You can think of them as “connection conversations,” if “sale conversations” rubs you the wrong way.

And really, that’s all “sales” is – connecting people – whether friends and family, or clients and customers – with something that will help them improve their lives in some way.

So remember this when you start to get tweaked about having to sell – and I know you’ve had that icky  “I-really-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-do-this” feeling about selling, because I’ve had it, and I hear it from other creatives. Often. (Of course, you could be different. You could love sales. If so, shine on, you crazy diamond.)

If you sometimes feel the “ick” factor about selling, keep in mind that sales is not about applying undue pressure; it’s not about forcing, but “tempting.” And you already have experience with that, you little minx. 

So fear not selling.

 

Here are two quick tips for when you’re writing content for your website, sales page, email newsletters, or however you communicate with your clients and customers to make an offer:

:: Imagine you’re having a conversation with a close friend. You’re hanging out together at the coffee shop or the bar, talking informally with just this one person about something that will enhance their life in some way – that’s how you want to write your sales messages. To one person, conversationally, connecting them to something that will help them solve a problem or achieve a goal.

:: Start your sales letter with, “I was thinking about you today.” This effective insider copywriting tip comes from master copywriter Drayton Bird. It’s a great way to get into the conversation without sounding like a douchey, over-the-top huckster.

So if you want to write a sales page or make an offer without feeling “salesy” or “markety,” try one of these techniques.

In the comments section, tell me about a time you used your natural sales ability to persuade someone to do something, and how it turned out. Or share your own tips for creating effective sales messages, I’d love to hear ’em! 

[For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]

7 Ways to Improve Your Web Copy Today for Better Sales: Basics for Creative Entrepreneurs

7 Tips for Writing Web Copy

Let’s start with something that may be obvious to you.

Web content is different from other kinds of written content. And if you’re a small business owner, solopreneur, freelancer, or creative entrepreneur writing your own website copy, it’s important to know the difference. Especially if you’d like to get more clients, customers and sales.

You may read that and think “Duh,” but I’ve had half a dozen conversations in the last week with smart writers and/or marketers who were either curious about the difference between web content and other kinds of writing, or who didn’t understand there was one.

One newspaper columnist with 30 years of experience asked me how writing his weekly column was any different than writing for the web, and the PR Director of a very large organization who wants to hire a freelancer for a big web copy project bemoaned the fact that of all the experienced writers she’s interviewed recently, not one had web writing skills.

So yes, there is a difference between writing for the web and writing other kinds of content, and it’s important to understand what that difference is so you can get the most traction from your own web writing and marketing.

So for you small business owners, solopreneurs, freelancers, and creative entrepreneurs writing your own website copy, I’ve got 7 tips you can implement today to improve your web content to get better results in your business.

But first we need to understand how people look for information on the web.

HOW PEOPLE READ ON THE WEB

Web users are busy; they want to get the straight to the facts. When they land on your website, they’re scanning the page. (Research on how people read websites found that 79% of users scan web pages, just 16% read word-for-word.)

The thing to keep in mind is that people on the web are typically in a hurry; they’re searching for answers to questions and solutions to problems. They quickly skim for information that meets their specific needs.

And because web users don’t know who is behind the information on a web page, it’s also important to use indicators that prove you’re credible. Excellent writing is one of the things that confer trustworthiness online.

I know nothing kills credibility faster for me than poor writing. Let’s be honest: bad content clumsily organized reflects poorly on your brand.

 

7 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WEBSITE CONTENT TODAY FOR BETTER SALES

 

1. Tell readers what they’re getting in the headline

For example, I could have called this blog post “The Difference Between Web and Print Content,” or some other such dull thing like that, but would you be reading it now if I did? I bet not.

7 Ways to Improve Your Web Copy Today for Better Sales instantly tells you what you’re getting and sells the benefit of reading the blog post.

If you want to see examples of killer headlines that really get the job done, just check out your favorite magazines. Magazines spend thousands of dollars and do exhaustive research to figure out which headlines grab readers, so modeling their tone and structure will get you off to a good headline-writing start. (Another great resource for learning how to write compelling headlines is Copyblogger, or Jon Morrow’s free downloadable report, “52 Headline Hacks,” available on his website at Boost Blog Traffic.)

*Bonus Tip: Go to Amazon.com or magazines.com and read through a bunch of headlines for ideas on how to structure good ones; this is a veritable goldmine of killer headlines, and you won’t even have to get off your couch to do it. Score!!

2. Make your small business website content about the reader

I know this may be a hard pill to swallow, but successful web content (meaning: it helps you get more customers and make more sales) is not about your business per se, it’s about the solutions you can provide for the potential client or customer who lands on your website. Company-centric web content will turn off readers.

Of course your web copy is going to be about your business, your mission, and your products or services, but first and foremost it needs to clearly convey that you understand your audience and the results they want to achieve, and that you can help them get there with your product or service.

So talk about your business as if it’s a lovely gift you’re presenting to your web visitors that says, “Open me now, I’m exactly what you’re looking for!”

Let’s look at two examples from the world of wedding photography:

(In the first example, I’ve changed the name of the business and a couple of identifying details so as not to be a tool and call anyone out.)

At ABC Photography, we specialize in family beach portraits, beach wedding photography, bridal, maternity, newborn and senior portraits. Our goal is to provide the highest quality photography available. With over a decade of professional photography experience, we have the skills, reliability and experience needed to capture your most precious memories. If you are interested in professional photography services, please contact us to discuss your project or receive a quote.

Ok, that’s boring copy (another no-no), but the main problem is that its central focus isn’t on the audience or potential customer, it’s on the company.

Now compare that to this:

Head Over Heels. Hi there, lovebirds. Congratulations! After the question has been popped, it’s time to eat, drink and be married. Let’s talk about The Wedding Day. Here comes the bride and here come the cliches: “This is one of the biggest days of your life.” “When the cake has been eaten, all you’ve got is the photos.” When it comes to photography, we try to avoid clichés at all costs, while honoring the truth behind them.

For us, this isn’t just another wedding; it’s your wedding. We look for the thoughtful touches and shared moments that tell your story. Our photos emphasize the emotions, details, and moments that make your wedding uniquely you–your grandfather’s cuff links nestled in your bouquet; your mom’s reaction when she sees you in her old wedding dress; your end-of-the-night-get-away in a classic vintage car.

(This copy comes from Millie Holloman Photography, a great example of a photography website that combines beautiful images with effective web copy that makes an emotional connection with potential clients, which is just want you want your web copy to do). 

The copy in example #2 connects with the reader – it speaks to what’s important to them as a potential photography client – “thoughtful touches and shared moments that tell your story” – and avoids the worn-out clichés of standard wedding photography web copy.

Contrast that to the company-centric copy from the first example, which focuses almost wholly on the company, i.e., “our goal,” “we have,” “we specialize,” etc. People don’t really care who you are, they want to know how you can help them. They’re seeking the answer to the question, “WIIFM?,” meaning, “What’s in it for me?”

3. Lead with benefits, not features

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saw, “People buy based on emotion and justify based on logic” more than once by now. That’s because it’s true.

The goal is to connect with your audience on an emotional level, and you do that by selling benefits, not features. Features have their place, but’s it’s important to lead with benefits.

A feature is something your product or service is or contains, a benefit is what the product or service does or provides – the desirable results.

One way to make sure you’re focusing your web copy on benefits is by painting a picture of your potential customer’s ideal outcome.

As in the photography example above: “the thoughtful touches and shared moments that tell your story,” and photos that capture “the emotions, details, and moments that make your wedding uniquely you,” as opposed to something like, “our photographers are the most skilled and experienced working in the wedding photography industry today and use only the most advanced technology and equipment to capture your special moments.”

Think about your laptop. Its features are things like “Wi-Fi enabled, widescreen optimized, lighting-fast processor,” etc. But if you were selling its benefits, it might look something like this: “Don’t get tied down to an office like the rest of the 9-5 worker bees, get your work done quickly and efficiently from anywhere on Earth with the insert name of laptop here. For ultimate time and work freedom,” or something similar. (Think of how Apple sells its products – in fact, go to the Apple website and spend some time reading through the product descriptions if you want to see how leading with benefits works for product copy.)

Now think about the benefits your products and services offer your target audience – how they make the customer’s life easier, better, more fun, less stressed, healthier, or wealthier, etc. If you edit your web content today using this one tip you’ll be miles ahead of other small business owners who go on and on about features rather than benefits. (Features are important too.  While they don’t sell the product or service, they do justify the sale.)

Remember, “Facts tell, benefits sell.”

4. Make it short and to the point

As best you can, you want to get to the point quickly. Web users are on a specific mission, and if they land on your site and see they’ll have to dig through long-winded, jargon-filled web copy to find the answer to their question, they’re going to hit the back button quicker than green grass through a goose.

Long-winded copy usually happens when the business owner doesn’t have a clear understanding of what their target audience really wants or needs to know, so the tendency is to mention everything related to the business in any way, or trot out lots of credentials, etc.

You can avoid this by getting really clear on what your target audience wants.

If you spend some time thinking about your ideal customer’s ideal outcome, you’ll be able to get right to the point and convey how your business can make their desired outcome a reality.

5. Make it scannable and easy to read

Remember, 79% of web readers are scanning, not reading word for word, so create your content with this in mind. Think of it as the “bread crumb” approach – you lead readers organically through your content with markers like headings, subheadings, bolded text and hyperlinks to highlight the really important bits.

Use short, 2-3 sentence paragraphs, and keep it to one idea per paragraph.

Try using an inverted pyramid structure where you start the content piece with the conclusion, the way I did with this post:

Web content is different from other kinds of written content. And if you’re a small business owner, solopreneur, freelancer, or creative entrepreneur writing your own website copy, it’s important to know the difference. Especially if you’d like to get more clients, customers and sales.

6. Make it conversational, not boring (no jargon or formal-speak)

Write the way your target audience thinks and speaks. You can do this by paying attention to your current clients and customers and noting the way they describe their challenges.

There’s no need to write web content as if it were an instruction manual, yet I see this all the time. Inject some personality into it. If you know what your target audience wants, and how they think and speak, this won’t be difficult.

This is obviously going to depend on your audience – an accountant is going to write web content differently than a yoga instructor. But the end result should be the same – your web content speaks directly to the desires, wants and needs of your ideal client or customer and makes them eager to do business with you.

7. Include a clear call to action

A call to action is an instruction in your copy – whether that copy is on your website, in your newsletter, on your blog, or in your ads and other sales material – that directs your audience to take a specific action.

After your readers finish reading a particular piece of content on your website, there’s something you want them to do next – usually some action that gets them closer to becoming a customer. Say, clicking on a link to read more about your products or services, calling to ask for more information, visiting your store, or completing a sale.

A strong call to action is essential for making this happen. To make it more powerful, you can convey a sense of urgency with phrases like, “now,” “today,” and “for a limited time,” etc.

Call to action examples:

“Come in today for 30% off”

“Buy now”

“Sign up for our newsletter today and join the ‘Insiders Club’ for special subscriber-only deals”

“Mention this blog post for 25% off when you buy a 12-pack of yoga classes, for the next 7 days only”

“Follow us on Twitter for special promotions and behind the scenes shenanigans”

Rules are meant to be broken under the right circumstances, and you won’t always be able to follow all the advice here when creating your web copy, but apply these 7 tips where appropriate today to start getting better results in your business.

And there you have it. 7 things you can do today to improve your web copy to get more clients, customers and sales.

[For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]

 

 

They Want You to Be the One (so stop being afraid to market yourself)

Let me ask you a question – and be honest with yourself about the answer – are you afraid to market your creative products or services?

Do you feel kind of icky about promoting yourself, wishing you could just create your amazing thing, then simply based on the awesomeness of that thing, word spreads like wildfire, the hordes find you, and you make sales hand-over-fist?

Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t happen that way.

You actually have to – gasp – market yourself.

But what I’ve noticed with many creatives is that they have this fear of marketing and selling that prevents them from getting the results they want in their business.

For example, do you recognize yourself in any of these (real life) comments from creatives?

  • “What I’m afraid of when marketing is seeming intrusive and pushy.”
  • “Marketing kind of feels like preying on people’s fears and weaknesses and insecurities.”
  • “I feel very inauthentic when trying to win over clients – it feels painful!”
  • “I wish there was another word for marketing. I associate it with being scammy.”
  • “I feel intimidated by marketing. I’m scared of harassing people.”
  • “I thought if I created good enough products, they’d sell without me having to do much but put them out there. I’m afraid what others will think of me if I market – that I’ll come off as a ‘cheesy car salesman’.”

 As a creative myself, I know how terrifying it can be to put yourself out there and try to sell your thing.   

But if you want to make a living from your creative talents, you can’t be afraid to sell, especially on your website, where your potential clients and customers are likely first coming across your offerings.  And copywriting that authentically conveys your skills in a way that aligns with your personality and style can help you market and sell without feeling intrusive or pushy.

Let me share a little story that might shift your mindset on this.

Once many years ago, I signed up for an acting class. (I actually thought I was signing up for a film studies class, but it turned out to be a class about acting for films.)

Oh well.  Since I had just moved to a new town and didn’t really know anyone yet, I decided to stick it out and stay in the class on the chance I’d make some new friends.  (Good choice, by the way.  Friends found, loneliness averted.)

Part of the class revolved around how to prepare for auditions. My goodness, but these actors were terrified of auditions! 

And although I would never be in their position, I understood what that fear must feel like – it’s the same feeling I had anytime I interviewed for a job I really wanted (back in the day when I was still a worker bee), or sometimes even now when I’m trying to land a big new dream client.

But the acting coach said something to us one day that changed my attitude about “putting yourself out there” forever:

“They want you to be the one,” he told us.

The message he wanted the acting students to get was, hey, those you’re auditioning for want you to be the right choice, they want you to be perfect for the role, they’re hoping against hope that you really, truly “bring it” in your audition so they can hire you now and stop looking.  They’d much rather find “the one” right now than audition actor after actor after actor. 

Once the acting students let this idea sink in, they realized they didn’t need to be so fearful of auditions.

It’s the same in your business.

When that person looking for interior design services or wedding photography or the perfect graphic designer comes to your website and you just happen to sell interior design services or wedding photography or graphic design services, believe me, they want you to be the one.

They don’t want to keep looking.  When they land on your website, they’re thinking, “I’m so tired of looking for someone to hire for this project, I just want to find a talented fill-in-the-blank-with-your-creative-service-here who gets what I need and can deliver the results I want.” 

And they’re hoping that you are going to be that person.

So instead of feeling shy about writing copy for your website that whips up desire for your offerings, you can feel good knowing that, rather than pushing something on people they don’t want, you’re actually connecting them with what they do want, in the form of your products and services and the results they provide.

After all, all authentic marketing isn’t pushy or sleazy, it’s simply deeply connecting with your ideal audience and communicating that you can provide a product or service that is beneficial to them, that they already want (or they wouldn’t be searching for it online and have landed on your website in the first place).

So if you’ve been fearful of marketing and selling your creative products or services, I encourage you to try the “they want you to be the one” mindset on for size.  You might be surprised by how much this simple shift in thinking can help you in your business.

So think about this now, and share in the comments section below how you’re going to implement this mindset shift into your marketing this week. 

 

[Like this post? Then sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]  

Creatives: How to Uncover Your Unique Selling Proposition (and why you need to)

Defining Your Unique Selling Proposition

[This is the final installment of a three-part series. Part one is here; part two is here.]

Back in part one of this series, I talked about the three massive client-repelling mistakes I made when I was first starting out online with my copywriting business, and what I did to fix them.

To recap, those mistakes were:

#1: I didn’t know who my ideal client/target audience was and what they struggled with, #2: I wasn’t expressing how I was different from others who offered a similar product or service, and #3: I wasn’t making an emotional connection with my ideal clients. (And you have to do the first two to be able to pull off the third).

Last week in part two of the series, we talked about how to define your ideal client or customer, and why it’s so darned important to get this figured out if you want to have a successful business that attracts the “right” kind of clients and makes you money.

Today we’ll cover finding your unique selling proposition (USP), which may sound slick and jargony, but which simply means the collection of factors unique to you and your business that compels your ideal clients to choose you over someone else who offers the same product or service.  (Your downloadable Defining Your USP checklist is at the end of this blog post.)

If you want an “official” definition of what a USP is, here’s one from businessdictionary.com:

Real or perceived benefit of a good or service that differentiates it from the competing brands and gives its buyer a logical reason to prefer it over other brands. USP is often a critical component of a promotional theme around which an advertising campaign is built.

Finding your USP can be challenging, because chances are your products or services aren’t truly unique. Hardly anyone’s are, yet there are plenty of people online doing what you do, and what I do, who are wildly successful despite not offering truly unique products or services.  That’s because they’ve positioned themselves well by determining their USP. And the good news is, once you figure out who your ideal client or customer is (see part two of this series on how to do that), figuring out your USP becomes much easier.

What happens when you have a poorly defined USP?

When someone searches online for that thing you do, if you sound just like everybody else, you’ll end up getting more than your fair share of price shoppers and other pains-in-the-you-know-where who will make you want to drive right off a bridge, instead of happy-making ideal clients who are willing to pay a premium for your specific creative expertise.

This happens because you’re indistinguishable from the hundreds of other creative service providers online who do what you do, so you’ll be judged based on price alone, or passed over altogether, which means you may just end up on the feast-or-famine roller coaster forever.  And no one wants that.

The cure for this is differentiation. 

Differentiating yourself in the online marketplace is absolutely essential to your success as a small creative business, because without it, you’ll be just another cog in the wheel of online commerce, a run-of-the-mill commodity whose services clients won’t place a premium on.  If you’ve been providing creative services to clients for any length of time you’ve no doubt experienced this.  I know I have.

The benefits of a well-defined USP

If you differentiate yourself effectively, you’ll begin to connect with and convert your ideal clients, instead of ending up with the ones who make you want to plunge daggers into your eyes.  Because when a potential ideal client looking for a photographer, interior designer, graphic designer, personal stylist, or whatever kind of creative product or service you offer, lands on your website and sees it’s not like the hundreds of other sites out there they found when they were Googling that thing you do, they will stop and take notice, instead of trucking right on past your website never to return.

Here’s a great quote that sums up the importance of differentiation:

 “In the absence of a meaningful difference, the cheapest brand may be regarded as the best choice. Lack of differentiation turns brands into commodities and marketing messages into white noise. But a meaningful difference can spark consumer interest and fuel demand for a brand, even when that brand carries a significant price premium.”  ~Nigel Hollis

Some obvious examples of effective differentiation and the hand-in-hand premium pricing that goes along with it are Apple, Harley Davidson, and designer Tory Burch, to name just three.  You could buy a computer or a motorcycle or clothes much more cheaply from lots of other companies, but the cache attached to these three brands because of their position and differentiation in the marketplace makes their ideal customers insanely eager to pay premium prices for them.  Hell, they even line up around city blocks for hours, just for the privilege of paying premium prices, in the case of Apple.  

Just something to keep in mind.

What that means for you is, if you dig deep and figure out what makes you and the service you provide different and better and you convey that in everything you do across all the touchpoints of your business, you will attract clients who are happy to pay what you ask for your services, without the bargain-hunting drama. 

And, just as the defining your ideal client process is an iterative one, so too is determining your USP and applying it.  You’ll refine as you get feedback and results, so don’t worry that you need to have every detail figured out before you begin implementing your points of differentiation into your business.

Here’s the process I used to determine my points of differentiation:

  • The first thing I did was buy myself a little notebook and start brainstorming ideas.
  • I made a list of all the possible categories I thought I could differentiate myself in, including the kind of clients I serve, my personality and unique skill set, the specific kinds of copywriting packages I offer, and so on, then looked at other copywriters online and saw how they presented themselves in each of these categories.
  • I then methodically made notes from each category about what made me unique compared to my competitors.  If it was too much of a stretch to find something unique about me or my business in a category, I scrapped it and moved on to the next category on the list.
  • After that exercise, I read Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, and took the Strengths Finder Test to determine my 5 top strengths.  This was amazingly helpful for getting a bead on the intersection of what I love to do and what I’m naturally gifted at doing.
  • I then made a list of the relevant experiences and “stories” from my life that have some bearing on my business, such as my background in PR and Advertising, and getting accepted to art school (& not going), etc. The key here is to choose stories you’ll share with your audience that are relevant to your business.
  • And something that was all kinds of uncomfortable, but totally worth it: I emailed 15-20 people – a mix of clients and friends – and asked them what they felt my 3 best qualities were.  Almost everyone said some version of the same thing:  sense of humor, easy to work with, and enthusiastic.  

There were a few other things I did, books I read, and questions I asked myself, but that’s the top-level overview of the process I used.

Ok, so, what does effective differentiation look like, you may be wondering?  If you’re anything like me, it always helps to see real world examples.

Creative service providers doing differentiation right

It took a lot of Googling, but I finally found these two examples of creative pros who have successfully implemented differentiation into their online presence:

I loved her on HGTV’s Design Star and I love her website.  Emily Henderson does a great job of just being herself and injecting her personality throughout the site, from what she writes about, to how she writes it, to her design philosophy.  Case in point: “perfection is boring, let’s get weird.”  Love it! 

Google “wedding photographers” and let me know what you find.  I’ll wait.  See that?  They all look pretty much identical – a whole lot of beautiful images, but no language or copy that makes an emotional connection with the potential client.

Notice the difference on this site though – as soon as you land on the Home page, you’ll see that Natalie of Reminisce Photography is the wedding photographer for “the creatively courageous, effortlessly elegant, DIY, cupcake nibbling, detail-obsessed, romantically whimsical bride with a fun-loving edge.”  She doesn’t do that ineffective thing many photographers online do – lead with beautiful images but no copy, which makes it hard for audiences to connect with the business. Very effective use of copy on this site to set Natalie and her services apart.

Two other resources for understanding, and finding, your unique selling proposition/points of differentiation:

Take 15 Minutes to Find Your Winning Difference, from the fine folks at Copyblogger.

And 10 Examples of Killer Unique Selling Propositions on the Web, from the ever-so-awesome guys at Think Traffic.

There you go.  After reading this post and checking out the two creative differentiation examples above and the 2 extra articles I’ve linked up here, you should have some ideas about how to make your own business stand out in a crowded marketplace. 

 But if you’re still thinking, “How the heck do I actually do it – how do I figure out what makes me ‘different’ and ‘better’ when there are 567,898 other creatives online (rough estimate) who do what I do?”

 (I get it, because I had the same challenge.  I mean, do you know how many other copywriters are out there?  But I digress.)

Well, there’s a checklist for that, and you can download it here:

Defining Your USP Checklist.

 So take action, and good luck!