Is Your Boring Brand Personality Killing Your Sales?: How Ecommerce Brand Saddleback Leather Gets It Right

If you sell a commodity product in a competitive niche, can using brand personality as a differentiator really make a difference to your bottom line, or is that just some BS sold by ad agencies and marketers who want your business?

The real question: When competing for audience attention and dollars, can a standout brand personality, creatively expressed in your marketing communications and other customer touchpoints, help drive sales and build a devoted following of customers and brand evangelists who are happy to spread the word far and wide about your products?

If we look to the example of Saddleback Leather Company, the answer is yes.

This article will explore how Saddleback Leather CEO Dave Munson (with the help of other smart people in his orbit) has figured out how to set his company apart in a memorable (and profitable) way among a sea of other leather goods companies, at least partly by using personality as a differentiator.*

I’ll be focusing specifically on the Saddleback Leather website, though the brand personality comes across in their videos, emails, and all other communication touchpoints as well.


I do not have insider access to company data or insights. The observations and opinions here are my own, based solely on my 15+ years of experience as a former ad agency employee, freelance marketing copywriter, DTC ecommerce copywriter and lover of brands with personality, along with the copious research I did before I began writing. Any dumb takes or egregious mistakes should be attributed to me, and not the sources and articles I link to in this blog post.

Also very important: The success Saddleback Leather has achieved is a result of many elements, of which brand personality is just one. Brand personality just happens to be what I’m focusing on here.

Sources: The sources I used to write this post, including articles, podcast interviews with Dave Munson, and research into brand personality, differentiation, and other related topics, are listed at the end of this post.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way …

Introduction & Background

Today I’m taking a look at a small subset of popular leather goods company Saddleback Leather’s digital presence – specifically, their website – to demonstrate how a compelling unique value proposition (UVP), use of storytelling, quirky brand personality and stand-out copy – help them differentiate in a crowded, competitive market with a commodity product, and generate enviable revenue.

How much revenue, you ask?

While I don’t have personal, insider knowledge of the numbers, my research tells me that in late 2017 (the most recent figures I could find), that figure was over 15 million dollars a year in online sales.

At around that same timeframe, it took 200 employees to keep up with Saddleback Leather’s bag orders.

Not bad for someone who:

:: Started off selling leather bags from the luggage rack of his Land Cruiser

:: Sold bags on Ebay when he didn’t have a company name yet, didn’t spend any money on marketing for the first nine years of his business, and who sells a commodity product in a very saturated niche

But beyond the revenue figures, Saddleback Leather has also cultivated something insanely valuable that you can’t put a dollar figure on – they have not just customers, but devoted superfans and brand evangelists who buy from them again and again, AND who spread the good word about the company and its products.

The bottom line:

As the experts at branding agency Ignyte point out in their article, Brand Personality: How to Build a More Human Brand, brand personality is “one of the most important factors in differentiating your brand from the competition.”

And, crucially:

“Personality is the part of your brand that your customers identify and build a relationship with. Because of this, personality branding plays a huge role in driving customer acquisition, fostering brand loyalty, and building brand equity.”  

And that means, all other things being equal, if you sell a commodity product in a competitive niche, emotionally connecting with your ideal customers through brand personality not only helps you stand out in a saturated market, but as a result, also helps influence buying decisions.

Before I break down how I believe Saddleback Leather does this, you may be wondering …

If you’re mostly hitting your KPIs, should you even concern yourself with brand personality?

Let’s say you know the way your brand personality shows up in your marketing communications could use some work, but your website is passable at getting the kind of conversions that define success in your business.

For example, you’re getting email subs on the regular and you’re making sales consistently – i.e., whatever your KPIs are, you’re mostly hitting them – can’t you put off improving your website copy, emails, and other content and marketing communications until later, or just ignore it altogether?

Here’s something to consider:

Every day you operate with a stale, boring, or not-quite-there brand personality, a chunk of the traffic you’re spending time and money to drive to your website & email opt-in are bouncing off, never to return, because potential buyers don’t care about your story or feel an emotional connection with your brand.

And some of those people who bounced?

👉 They could have been your most ardent supporters, superfans, and repeat buyers, for years to come. You’re leaking profits and the opportunity to build an audience of devoted customers and brand evangelists. 👈

On the other hand, when you make an emotional connection through communicating a distinctive, original brand personality, the right customers – and more of them – will want to do business with you.

That’s because “People purchase products because of a story, an emotional connection they feel with a brand.”

And they can’t feel that emotional connection with your brand if your marketing communications are lackluster, bland, and boring.

Ask yourself:

Are potential customers coming to your website right now? Today? Tomorrow? Next week? Then communicating your distinctive brand personality right now, today, tomorrow and next week is imperative.

 “ … you don’t get the opportunity to make a first impression multiple times. How you present your brand across the web matters –– and it matters from day 1.”

OK, let’s get started!

The Details

Company: Saddleback Leather

CEO & Founder: Dave Munson

The product: Premium leather goods that promise to last a lifetime. (Backpacks, briefcases & satchels, wallets & belts, duffels, luggage, toiletry bags, totes & purses, laptop cases, phone cases, and more)

Prices range from a $29 business card holder to a leather suitcase for $1,379 and all price points in between; all products come with a 100 Year Warranty.

Revenue: While I don’t have personal, insider knowledge of the numbers, my research tells me that in late 2017 (i.e., the most recent figures I could find), that figure was over 15 million dollars a year in online sales.

Positioning & UVP: Although Saddleback Leather sells a commodity product in a highly competitive niche, Munson has built a profitable business by creating a compelling value proposition (indestructible, heirloom quality leather bags that last a lifetime), and a differentiated and resonant brand personality that is unlike any other in the market.

[As a reminder, I’m not affiliated or connected with Saddleback Leather in any way. The information I’m sharing here is based on a combination of my own research + mining podcast & other interviews with company owner & founder, Dave Munson, from other sources.]

Let’s look at how Saddleback Leather approaches creating a differentiated brand personality on their website.  

First, what do we mean when we say, “brand personality?”

The fine folks at Ignyte – A Branding Agency, define it this way:

Brand personality is the collection of emotional, intellectual, and behavioral patterns unique to a brand that is consistent over time. Just like people, brands have recognizable traits that stem from the way they think and feel about the world. The authenticity and consistency of these traits is what separates a strong brand from a weak one.”

[I suggest reading the entire Ignyte article linked above for a thorough discussion of brand personality, why it matters to your business, and the important role it plays in differentiating your brand in a competitive niche.]


Through that lens, let’s take a look at the core components of the website Home page and how brand personality plays a role in making a strong emotional connection with the ideal buyer/customer.

When I’m writing a website or doing a website audit and copy makeover, I usually suggest the following basic components on a website Home page*:

:: Tagline

:: Value proposition expressed [on its own, or through other copy elements; the main thing is, it must be evident, either explicitly stated or conveyed implicitly though copy and image elements, etc.]

:: Headline + Body copy

:: Call to action language that asks people to do the most important thing you want them to do while on the Home page of your site [For an ecommerce site, that might be to visit your product pages, sign up for your email list, or initiate a chat session, etc. For a site selling services, it might be to subscribe to your newsletter or sign up for a complimentary consultation, etc.]

:: Email list opt-in copy 

[*CAVEAT: Obviously, how a website Home page is written, designed, and structured will depend on many things – your business model, what you sell, your website’s main purpose, your KPIs, and so on. An ecommerce website Home page will be different than a service provider’s Home page, an attorney’s different than a circus clown’s, etc.]


The importance of a compelling tagline

Because of the enormous competition on the web in every product category out there, and the fact that you’ve got just 2-7 seconds (and some experts say, 2 seconds, period) to catch someone’s attention, a good tagline is important.

In a sea of competing sites that sell similar products or services, you have to do something to stand out and instantly get the attention of your ideal buyer, and a good tagline can help you do that.

What defines a “good” tagline?

An effective tagline will communicate your brand’s message in way that resonates with your ideal audience and gets them to stop and take notice of your business.

It simply needs to get your most likely buyer – not everyone, but only your most LIKELY buyer – to stay on your site long enough to explore what you have to offer, and determine what they want to do next, whether that’s check out your Shop pages, inquire about your products or services, fill out a contact form, sign up for your email list or some other action, depending on your goals and KPIs.

The Saddleback Leather Tagline

Saddleback Leather is known by copywriters, marketing geeks and other students of brand differentiation for having one of the most iconic, memorable taglines on the web:

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website]

This is a tagline that stops you in your tracks, if you’re the ideal customer. It sets the tone for everything else you’ll experience on the website and throughout the rest of Saddleback Leather’s marketing communications.

In a sea of competing leather goods brands, it stands out and instantly gets the attention of the ideal buyer. 

Bingo! That means it’s a winner.

Think about it … they could have gone for a bland, boring, forgettable tagline like:

:: Quality Leather Goods for Men & Women

:: Fine Leather Goods & Accessories

:: Premium Leather Goods

:: Or, like many leather goods companies you’ll find online, no tagline at all.

None of the taglines above tell a story or differentiate the brand in any way.

But the Saddleback Leather tagline starts to tell a story the second you land on their website.

It’s arresting, full of personality, and conveys an immediate benefit and the essence of the brand.

You instantly begin to sense that there’s something different about this leather goods company. There’s adventure here. Ruggedness. Maybe some mystery. And definitely lots of interesting stories.

And that?

That makes you eager to explore more of the website and see what else there is if you’re the ideal customer … which is exactly what you want a tagline to do.

[Want to hear the story of how founder Dave Munson came up with the iconic tagline? Check out episode 181 of Steve Chou’s My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, How Dave Munson Started Saddleback Leather by Leveraging the Power of Storytelling, to hear the story.]


What is a value proposition?

This isn’t a class on marketing terminology (and Google returns 173,000,000 million results when you search this term), but the fine folks at Hubspot make it simple to understand:

“Your company’s value proposition is the core of your competitive advantage. It clearly articulates why someone would want to buy from your company instead of a competitor.”

Saddleback Leather creates indestructible, heirloom quality leather bags that last a lifetime.

Their value proposition is expressed clearly and directly in the tagline, and it’s evident in copy and image elements across the website.

For example, you’ll find it expressed either overtly or subtly in:

#1: The famed 100-year warranty

#2: The videos, accessible by scrolling down the Home page and clicking on “Films & Videos” from the image / photo gallery in the READING MATERIAL section

Where you can watch videos like these:

Ten hours of hand stitching with Saddleback Leather, What Quality is in a Saddleback Leather Briefcase?, Australian Crocodile Attacks Bag, and Reconditioning a Saddleback Bag after a direct hit from a tornado, to name just four.

#3: The product copy on the PDP pages

Here’s some of the product description language you’ll find for on the product detail page for the Everyday Leather Tote:

Over-Engineering; no breakable parts; reinforced stitching; copper rivets; custom hardware is made of 316 Stainless Steel; really strong UV resistant industrial Polyester thread, which is “more expensive, by far, but doesn’t deteriorate when the sun hits it like Nylon does.”

#4: The Leather Buyer’s Guide

#5: The answers on the FAQ page

Notice that in all those places where the value proposition is expressed, either explicitly or implicitly, the elements of the brand’s personality – adventurous, friendly, genuine, strong, rugged, outdoorsy, etc. – are obvious.

To sum up, the Saddleback Leather value proposition is distinct, memorable, and differentiates the brand from other leather goods companies. And it positively reeks of their undeniable, one-of-a-kind personality in a way that resonates with their ideal customers.


You know what they say – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

And because a Home Page is usually the most highly-trafficked page on your website, you want to make sure you’re drawing web visitors in and getting them curious about your brand, so they’ll eagerly click through to other key parts of your site to learn more about your products and/or services.

The Home page of your website functions as a virtual storefront. Just like on a busy street with lots of stores, you want to provide a warm, welcoming, value-packed reason for web visitors to “come inside,” otherwise they’ll click away. 

Your Home page needs to: 

Convince busy and easily distractable web visitors on a mission to find specific, problem-solving information or a specific kind of product or service, to stay on your site long enough to read further, find out what you’re about, and, if they’re the ideal client or customer, take some kind of action – such as checking out your products or services, reading your blog, contacting you for more information, filling out your contact form, or signing up for your email list, depending on the kind of business you have and what your KPIs are.

 [Signing up for the email list is usually the most highly leveraged action to focus on, because that is the audience you’ll be developing a long-term relationship with, and presenting with offers to buy your products or services.]

The idea with web copy is to get people to take action. Because when they take action, they’ll become more engaged with your brand. You want them engaged and curious enough to click around your site and become more involved in the “world” you’ve created on your website.

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

One way to grab attention is with a distinctive brand personality.

If you want to get – and keep – the attention of your ideal customers among a sea of competing brands who sell similar products, your website and other marketing communications need to convey your differentiated brand personality quickly and persuasively.

Notice how Saddleback Leather starts to do this the second you land on their website with a compelling value proposition and a strong tagline, as discussed above.

Add in persuasive storytelling, and the singular Saddleback Leather personality as conveyed through copy and images, and you’ve got a winning formula for standing out in a saturated sea of competitors.

[Screenshot of Hero section of the Home page as of 06.02.23. This will change depending on when you’re viewing the site, and rotates depending on what’s being promoted. Fun fact: When I worked as a product copywriter for the DTC ecommerce site of the apparel brand Champion, I learned how important it is for an ecommerce website Home page to show “newness” or “freshness,” hence the changing images.]

If you’re Saddleback’s ideal customer, you’re instantly hooked and the next step for you is likely checking out a few Shop category pages or even individual PDPs, maybe signing up for the newsletter, watching some of the videos or otherwise interacting with the site.

👉 This is good; this is what we want! Because this kind of engagement means web visitors are curious; they’re becoming invested in your brand and your story. 👈

Scroll down below the Hero image on the Home page, and you’ll find images & copy that direct you to click over to the category pages for Men’s, Women’s, New Arrivals, and Corporate Gifts. (Again, depending on when you’re viewing the page, since ecommerce sites often change out images frequently, depending on what’s being promoted.)

And then below that, we have an embedded video of CEO Dave Munson walking with lions. This is an obvious differentiator, and helps establish the distinctive Saddleback Leather brand personality: bold, adventurous and rugged, with sturdy leather goods that can stand up to any experience, venture or undertaking.

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website Home page]

And definitely not something you’re going to see other leather goods ecommerce sites.

Next, as of 06.04.23 viewing, there’s the Leather Desk Collection image and [Shop now] CTA, then a featured products section, then The Saddleback Story section, and finally, the Reading Material section.

Let’s talk about those last two sections briefly.

The Saddleback Story

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website Home page]

Ah, the Saddleback Story. This tale has everything: travel, adventure, danger, federales, “surf trips, car crashes, jungle treks, countless taco stands,” and lots of other unforgettable details.

Woven throughout this captivating narrative is the brand’s origin story.  

“So, I had my first bag made while living in Southern Mexico as a volunteer English teacher to kids who needed a little help at a place called Centro NOE.”

When Munson got back to the States, “People crossed the street to ask about it and came out of their offices when I walked by their windows.”

So, he decided to move back to Mexico to get more bags made and get the company off the ground.

After a few years, and many twists and turns, including the business taking off then almost sinking, Saddleback is now a “strong and healthy leather company, built to be able to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.”

(There’s so much more to the Saddleback origin story than what I’ve summarized here, so I’d suggest reading through the entire thing to see how a compelling, authentic brand story is told.)

Your backstory is your fingerprint

Notice how genuine this story feels. In many ways, it doesn’t feel like an “official” brand story at all, because it’s not slick, commercial, or mainstream; it’s not trying to be a colorful story about a founder because that’s what some marketing/branding/advertising exec/ guru suggested, instead, it feels real because it IS real, etc.

And that adds to its appeal.

The Saddleback backstory is a key piece of what differentiates the brand, and can’t be duplicated by any other brand out there, end of story.

👉 As I always say, your backstory is your fingerprint™, no one else has it or can replicate it, so use it to your advantage in your all your brand communications, where relevant. 👈

Now, my guess would be that Dave Munson himself wrote the content on this page, but I can’t be sure of it.

If you’ve watched any of their videos or listened to Dave on podcasts (which I have, many times), the voice of the Saddleback Story copy certainly sounds like him. And that, again, adds a unique flair that can’t be replicated.

Consider how you can apply this to your own brand story

Now, maybe you don’t have a bullfight, a crooked federale, a $100 per month apartment in Juarez, or travels to Bora Bora, Kenya, Tanzania, or Rwanda as part of your backstory, but there are elements you can tease out that relate to your brand and products that set you apart in your niche, I’m sure of it.

How do I know this?

Almost every time I’ve worked with a copywriting client, they say some version of, “But there’s nothing unique or different about me or my business. There are dozens of other [fill in the blank with their kind of business here] who do what I do. I can’t think of anything that differentiates my products or services or sets me apart.”

And almost every time, that’s not true. In fact, I can’t think of a single client I’ve ever worked with where that has turned out to be true.

It just does not happen.

The trick is to tease out your “unique recipe” (HT to Derek Halpern; see below), which I do with clients during the intake process.


I remember a wedding photographer I worked with a few years ago who said to me on our first call, “There’s nothing unique or different about me. I’m one of hundreds of wedding photographers in my town.”

If you research wedding photographers online, you’ll notice that in most cases, there are many of them in any given town, even small towns. And they almost all have sites with gorgeous work samples and glowing testimonials, but not much that differentiates them one from the next.

So, I understand why my client might have felt the way she did.

BUT … once I started digging through said client’s intake questionnaire, the combination of things that set her apart (aka, her “unique recipe”) were obvious to me.

Yes, there were lots of other talented wedding photographers in her town. But her differentiating factors, when combined, could easily help her stand out among her peers.

For example:

:: She specialized in fine art wedding photography, using natural light, with a focus on outdoor shots in iconic Arizona locations, for first-time brides in their 20s and early 30s.

:: Her work had been featured in Vogue and Brides Magazine, among others.

:: In addition to her killer photography skills, she was also known for being a trusted guide and reliable friend and partner in the planning process.

:: And she had a great reputation for providing impeccable service and a stellar client experience, with the client testimonials to back it up.

And so on.

At the end of the day, there were many things about her services, her approach, her unique photography style, and her background, etc., that when swirled together, easily set her apart from the other wedding photographers in her town.

As Derek Sivers would say, “Obvious to you. Amazing to others.”

Never doubt that you possess talents, skills, gifts & abilities that others find amazing (and that can help you stand out in a crowded market).

A few months after I finished my work with this client, I received an email from her out of the blue one day, saying this:

“How are you? I’m sitting here reading my pricing magazine and thinking about how the web copy you wrote has worked wonders for me. I continue to use it daily over here! On my website and especially my pricing guide that gets me a ton of bookings. What an amazing difference it has made for my business this year. I wanted to send you a nice email, thanks again for everything.” ~Rachael K., Wedding Photographer


I can also remember when I felt this way about my own services.

When I first got started online a bunch of years ago, it seemed impossible to differentiate myself from the thousands of other copywriters out there offering similar services.

It was a real pain point for the first 6-8 months after launching my website and “officially” declaring myself a freelance copywriter for hire.

And it showed in my results – or lack thereof. 

I eventually realized that while none of the things I do is unique in and of itself, the combination is – the kind of clients I work with, my offerings, my personality & style, my process and approach, and my backstory – all combine to help me stand out in the market.

This is what Derek Halpern, who ran the site Social Triggers, calls “a unique recipe.”

Once I understood this and seeded it through all my copy and communications online, things started to get much easier. In a nutshell, I started to attract more of the kind of clients I wanted to work with who saw me as different from other freelance copywriters offering nearly identical services.

“A unique recipe” – this is important to keep in mind.

Remember, you don’t have to come up with one singular attribute that makes your brand different from every other brand on the planet who does what you do.

👉 You simply have to find your unique recipe, and your backstory is a huge part of that.

Add in expressing your brand’s unique personality and voice, the way Saddleback Leather does, and you’re practically guaranteed to set yourself apart from the competition.


Help me, help you (as Jerry Maguire would say) 😊

Want my free 5-part email course Web Copy That Converts? I’m putting the finishing touches on it now; if you’d like to be notified when it’s ready, simply enter your email address in the opt-in form at the end of this blog post, and I’ll send it your way as soon I get it finalized.

In the meantime, I’ll send you my Website Copy & Conversion Audit Checklist while you wait, which is essentially the 5-part email course distilled down into a short checklist.

If you’d like to work together to punch up your copy, check out the instructions at the end of this post.



Now, let’s take a look at the next section on the Home page.

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website Home page]

Notice how everything here fits into the rugged, adventurous, or “it’ll-last-a-lifetime” ethos.

This image grid, like other elements of the brand’s visual identity, instantly conveys the one-of-a-kind personality of the brand.

Click on any of the images, and you’ll find personality to spare.

From the “How to Convince Your Spouse” section, for example:

“Honey, all my life I’ve wanted to own something nice enough to hand down to our oldest son and so I want to buy a $5000 pocket watch to show him as he grows up.” To which she responds, “Are you crazy? We don’t have that kind of money!” So that’s when you say, “Well, then would you mind if I just got a $599 Heirloom Quality Leather Briefcase for the kid to remember me by when I’m gone? Which one do you think I should get?”

The entire page is a joy to read if you’re the brand’s ideal customer, but probably not so much if you’re not.

Which brings up a very important point …

👉 One of the effects of carving out your singular brand personality is that there’s a high probability you’re going to turn off some people, maybe a lot of people.

On the plus side, this also means there will be many others who deeply resonate with your messaging. Those folks will stick around, check out your product pages and sign up for your email list. Even better, many will become longtime loyal customers and brand evangelists.

Let’s be real … I’m sure there are things about Saddleback Leather that will turn lots of people off. For example, working with leather in the first place, or the fact that they openly express their faith. It’s not overt or in your face in my estimation, but it’s there, and they don’t shy away from it.

Whether I believe what they believe or not, in terms of faith or anything else, I do know I’m drawn to the transparency and honesty of how they express it, of how they are who they are and don’t try to hide what could be off-putting for at least some prospective customers.

Yet, despite these potential deal breakers, they have a wildly successful business that generates millions of dollars in revenue per year.

Speaking of transparency, I love this last line of the “Our Purpose and Mission” section:

“But please know this right now, I’m a hypocrite. I say to do things and not do things, but I mess up with those things myself. I try not to, but I do. Just wanted to get that out there in case you were wondering.”

This (and really, everything else on the site) lets you know you’re dealing with real people, people who care deeply about the way they conduct business and not “just” any old leather goods brand you found in your online search for a backpack, wallet, purse, or belt, etc.

And none of this feels calculated, commercialized or contrived, but rather, wholly authentic.


Now that we’ve covered the tagline, value proposition, and main body copy on the Home page, let’s take a look at the main CTA, or call to action.

What I like to see for a CTA on a website Home page is an unmissable (without being obnoxious) opportunity to sign up for an email list or newsletter, as its own stand-alone piece of copy – meaning, it’s not hidden in the footer or otherwise hard to find.

Currently, you can sign up for the Saddleback newsletter via an opt-in pop-up that appears when you land on the site (current as of June 2023):

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website]

There’s another sign-up opportunity in the main navigation at the top of the Home page, and again in the footer.

I don’t think it would be overkill to create a bold newsletter opt-in CTA and add it just before or after the Reading Material section on the Home page, or another place on the page where it makes sense before scrolling to the end of the page.

Because what often happens is, someone lands on a website, and many of those someone’s will instantly close out the pop-up because it’s just second nature.

Then they’ll start exploring the rest of the website, and their eyes will likely glaze right over the small, easy-to-miss newsletter sign-up opportunity in the site’s footer.

And are they going to remember to scroll back up to the main navigation at the top of the page and click on the newsletter menu item there?

Sure, in some cases, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

This is why I like to see the newsletter opt-in as the CTA at the bottom of at least 2-3 of the most highly trafficked website pages, for example, the Home page and the About Us page.

I’ll say it again – getting folks on your email list is one of the most highly-leveraged actions to focus on, because this is the audience you’ll be developing a long-term relationship with, and presenting with offers to buy your products or services.

(Plus, in the ecommerce world, in addition to all the other email flows you need in your business, you want to be able to remind people who added products to their shopping cart but didn’t finish the check-out process to return, also known as cart abandonment emails.)

The bottom line is, you want to make it super obvious and easy for website visitors to sign up for your emails. Because once they navigate away from your site, they may never return. And there goes someone who could have been one of your best customers and most vocal brand evangelists.

Smart Choice: A Dedicated Newsletter Opt-In Landing Page

That said, one thing I love that Saddleback Leather does (that I don’t see lots of other ecommerce brands do), is have a dedicated landing page solely for the newsletter opt-in, i.e., it’s not a landing page for the newsletter opt-in, plus a few other things thrown in on the page as well. (<– Which is something I have seen a handful of other ecomm brands do on their newsletter sign-up pages.)

The purpose of a landing page is to offer one and only one option – and in this case it’s to sign up for the newsletter, and

The beauty of having a newsletter opt-in landing page is that you can place the direct link to that page in your social profiles and everywhere else you interact online where links are allowed. Hard to do that when all you’ve got are opt-in forms in the footer of your site, or other low visibility places.

Get people on that email list, folks! 😊

Now, if they were to add a specific newsletter opt-in CTA on the Home page, they could simply use some of the same opt-in language they’re already using in several other places on the site, such as that on the PDP pages (more on that in a sec). Easy-peasy.

A Great Idea: Add a Newsletter Opt-In CTA to Your Product Detail Pages

Here’s something else Saddleback does that I think is just brilliant, and something I haven’t seen other ecommerce brands do: they promote the newsletter at the end of the product description on several of their PDP pages.

For example, on the Everyday Leather Tote PDP, it shows up like this:

Unproffesional at its finest — Join Our Newsletter Now.

Don’t miss out on the chance to see unprofessionalism at its finest. Join us now and subscribe to the newsletter today and get exclusive access to all our new designs, stories from the workshop, dad jokes, or bad jokes (like this one) and more delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now and get ready for a truly unique experience.

On the Big Leather Wallet PDP, you’ll find this opt-in copy:

Don’t Be Left In The Dark, Subscribe To Our Newsletter Today.

Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to knowing the latest news and stories from Saddleback Leather Co. Join us now and subscribe to the newsletter today and get exclusive access to limited edition collections, bad jokes, and even stories from when my family and I had breakfast with real kings.

And on the Leather Tow Belt PDP, you’ll see this newsletter CTA:

Better Than The 6 O’clock News, join the Newsletter Now

Forget the 6 o’clock news, subscribe to the Saddleback Leather Co newsletter and get all the latest news, updates and stories delivered right to your inbox. Never miss out on our crazy newsletter – join us now and get the best of Saddleback Leather Co.

And every one of these opt-in CTAs ooze that one-of-a-kind Saddleback Leather personality. Winning!!

Of course, I can’t say how well the newsletter CTAs on the product detail pages are working, but I bet they’re getting more newsletter sign-ups than if there were no opt-in opportunities on these pages at all.


Help me, help you, redux

Want my free 5-part email course Web Copy That Converts? I’m putting the finishing touches on it now; if you’d like to be notified when it’s ready, simply enter your email address in the opt-in form at the end of this blog post, and I’ll send it your way as soon I get it finalized.

In the meantime, I’ll send you my Website Copy & Conversion Audit Checklist while you wait, which is essentially the 5-part email course distilled down into a short checklist.

If you’d like to work together to punch up your copy, check out the instructions at the end of this post.



So far, we’ve covered the Home page of the website and a few other key places linked to from the Home page.

Even if we stopped here, you can see how Saddleback Leather presents a differentiated brand personality in their copy and visual elements, in a way that attracts their ideal customers, builds brand loyalty, and repels the non-ideal tire-kickers.

Of course, it doesn’t stop at the Home page; the brand personality shows up everywhere across the site. In this section, I’ll briefly touch on some of these other essential website elements.


The About Us page links out to the Saddleback Story, which we’ve already discussed. It’s one of the most memorable brand stories you’ll find anywhere online.

As mentioned before, your backstory or company founder story is your fingerprint – no one else has it, so it’s a fundamental part of how you differentiate your brand among a sea of sameness.

You’ll also find the Love 41 Story linked to from the About Us page. The Love 41 story is powerful; that said, I think it would be more affecting if it were written in the first person.

So, for example, instead of this:

When she returned home five weeks later, Suzette was still consumed by the stories and people of Rwanda. There were so many children longing for someone to love them. Something had to be done, and she knew she had the ability to help. There was no choice.

It could be rewritten like this:

When I returned home five weeks later, I was still consumed by the stories and people of Rwanda. There were so many children longing for someone to love them. Something had to be done, and I knew I had the ability to help. There was no choice.

This one tiny tweak creates a stronger impact, in my estimation. It feels more potent and immediate.


Another area of the site that expresses the singular Saddleback personality is the warranty page (Even down to spelling it, “warrantee” – this too is part of their unique brand personality.):

Just remember that before you die, get all your Saddleback stuff sorted out in your will, and if there’s ever an issue, just have one of your descendants contact me or one of my descendants and we’ll get you sorted out.

If you’re the ideal customer, you just have to smile – and fall in love with the brand a little bit more.


PLPs (Product Listing Pages)

I’m not going to spend too much time here, but click through to a few of the Shop PLPs, for example, the Women’s Totes & Purses page. You’ll notice there’s a lot of copy under the product listings that explains full grain leather, why leather matters, and lots more. This is something they do on all the PLPs I checked out.

This PLP page copy reinforces the value proposition: indestructible, heirloom quality leather bags that last a lifetime. Super smart thing to do.

For example, on the Women’s Totes & PursesPLP, you’ll find this bit of copy:

We Over-Engineer our Leather Totes and Satchels

When we design our women’s leather bags, such as totes and satchels, we always design them to last a lifetime. This means adding the best stitching in all the right places, using the best possible materials, and over-engineering the bag so it can take a beating. We never want one of our customers telling us their bag didn’t hold up after a few months, years, or even decades of use. A good quality leather bag should get better with age.

Another PLP page I want to point out is the Leather Belts PLP.

After the product listings, there’s lots of copy that again, reinforces the value proposition.

And mixed in with it, is delightful copy that talks about the various “belt personalities,” where we get to experience that wonderful Saddleback brand warmth and sense of humor.

Check out this gem:

Chestnut Leather Belt Personality

The chestnut leather belt is usually purchased by professional, more urban people who tuck their shirts in. They often have a watch band, shoes, and briefcase that match. People who buy chestnut-colored leather belts are usually highly educated and belong in a Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Saab, or Volvo. They are often classier than most people and perfectionists. They also typically have an excellent sense of taste in dressing and decorating, and they have a sense of humor.

And this one:

Black Leather Belt Personality

The black leather belt is usually worn by people who look good in a thick black leather jacket, ride cruiser-type motorcycles, have black boots, and have a sense of humor. People who purchase black leather belts often also have black accents in their décor, a lot of black or gray color in their clothing, and wear thick black framed glasses. They are usually classier and have a cleaner image than people who purchase other colors of belts. They often drive Volvos or Saabs and are perfectionists.

LOVE IT!  Seriously, love. 😊

The belt personalities copy reinforces a key element of Saddleback’s brand personality:  it’s fun and playful, and conveys a “we don’t take ourselves too seriously around here” attitude.

Not everyone will resonate with that copy play, but this kind of brand personality gets me every single time; I’m a sucker for it!

Other brand personality characteristics that shine through in the copy on the PLP and PDP pages, and everywhere else across the site: adventurous, not your average leather goods company, rebellious, bold, brave, friendly, warm & approachable, genuine, strong, rugged, outdoorsy, and tough, to name a few.

PDPs (Product Detail Pages)

Now let’s take a quick gander at one of the PDP pages.

On the Front Pocket Leather Backpack product detail page, there’s the standard ecommerce DTC site product details format – an image with a few basic details.

When we scroll down, there are videos, a couple of reviews, and lots and lots and LOTS of copy about this backpack. All good – the copy reinforces the value proposition and once again, expresses brand personality.

What I want to point out here is the story that begins about 3/4s down the page:

The Hiking Through the Panamanian Jungle Leather Backpack Bedtime Story

It starts off like this:

My brother and I were dropped off by a boat on one of the Bocas del Toro islands heading to a famed surf spot called Wizard Beach. Everything seemed fine as we started on the trail up a nice grassy knoll with my Leather Backpack on my back, a fancy camera around my neck, and a leather suitcase in my hand. 

And ends like this:

I’m not saying that we would have been forever lost in the jungle and eaten by monkeys there if it weren’t for my trusty leather backpack. Still, I’m just saying it’s a really good idea to wear a backpack to keep both hands free when you’re out and about off the pavement.

A story like this dimensionalizes the product in a way that standard product copy never could. Good stuff.

You don’t have to tell stories around all your products (and this kind of product copy is not right for every ecommerce brand), but if it makes sense for your brand, it can sure help.

One of the masters of fully dimensionalized, story-based product copy, is J. Peterman. Check out their site for great examples of this kind of copy.


Now let’s take a super quick peek at the Frequently Asked Questions page.

I’ve never seen a more thorough FAQ; I counted over 50 questions. The page includes information on cleaning and care, how showroom pickup works, custom work, shipping and orders, and lots more.

Naturally, even here we see the brand personality shine through:

Thanks for stopping by! Since you’re here, we know you are a lover of quality leather and like to be informed too! Well, we’ve put together some frequently asked questions (that’s FAQ for you acronym lovers!) to help you on your quest to knowing all about snagging some sweet Saddleback leather. We know your minds are vast and unique, so feel free to give us a shout or drop us a line if you don’t find what you’re looking for below. Click here to email us, or if you want to give us a holler just call (817) 402-4550. We’re here M-F from 10 AM to 5 PM Texas time, otherwise known as Central Standard Time.

And you see it in many of the Q & As, too:

-Can I request a cool scar/no scars on my leather?

Nope, it’s really the luck of the draw! If you’re not happy with what you receive, (which we really hope you are!) just give us a shout and we’ll get you set up with a return.

-Can celebrities have free bags?

“Hi Dave, I’m So and So’s manager and they asked me to ask you if they could have a free bag. Can they?” Please tell your owner to check the cushions of their couch for the extra money so they can do what the rest of the athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians do and just buy one. No special treatment here. People are people.

How can I convince my honey that I need this?

So you want it. Now comes the hard part of convincing your honey that you need it. Maybe if you throw some of these phrases into the conversation, it’ll help.

(I won’t share the full answer to this question here because it’s so long, but do yourself a favor and check it out on the FAQ page.)

I methodically went page by page through the Saddleback Leather website to write this article, and I didn’t see a single nook or cranny where brand personality wasn’t evident.


That’s what you want – even down to the microcopy in your CTAs, your footer, your opt-in forms, and everywhere else potential customers come into contact with your brand – you want the brand personality to radiate from every corner of your site (and other marketing communications).


The Contact Us page, like all other site copy, is warm, friendly and approachable.

Smart addition to this page: If you want to chat with Saddleback fans about the products, there’s a way to do that from the Contact Us page:

For a Super Fast Answer
It’ll take about 3.2 seconds to get an unbiased answer from some of the thousands of owners in one of their private Saddleback communities click here.

Nice touch, and something I haven’t seen other ecommerce brands do. Yet another way Saddleback rises above the competition in a highly saturated niche.

On the Contact Us page, they share customer service hours, showroom store hours, and pickup hours. Ways to get in touch include phone, email, chat, and even toll-free Skype calls for international customers.

Lots of options here, which is smart. Offering several contact methods engenders trust, because it demonstrates their availability to help solve customer service challenges. If you’re buying a not inexpensive leather good, you can rest easy knowing it’ll be hassle-free to contact Saddleback and resolve any issues.

One more quick note on the Contact Us page: even the microcopy in the chat function here displays the approachable, laid-back Saddleback vibe:

Saddleback Chatterbox

We typically reply in a few minutes,

Hey there, thanks for stopping by! What’s your name?

Like I said, every nook and cranny on the website conveys the singular brand personality, down to the chat function microcopy. Again, winning!


Now, while brand personality as a differentiator is essential when you sell a commodity product in a saturated, competitive niche, I’m not saying Saddleback Leather’s success is all down to that.

No, they’ve done LOTS of smart things over the years, and creating a distinctive brand personality is just one of many elements that contribute to their success.

Like I said up top, the observations and opinions here are based solely on my 15+ years of experience as a former ad agency employee, freelance marketing copywriter, DTC ecommerce product copywriter, and lover of brands with personality, and any dumb takes should be attributed to me, and not the sources and articles used to write this blog post.

Something else to note: I can’t be 100% sure about this, as I have no special insider knowledge about how Saddleback Leather operates, but the authenticity of the brand seems to come directly from Dave Munson and his personality, his unique backstory, and his family and their interests and causes.

**In other words, the brand personality feels genuine; it does not feel as if it was calculated or manufactured in some advertising agency conference room. (If you’ve ever worked in an agency, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 😊)**

While I know from the research I did they have relied on expert advice, it also feels to me that the Saddleback team operates authentically based on who they are and what they believe, and that comes through in their messaging and storytelling, which plays a big part in their success.


If you’ve paid any attention to how many brands sell products or services similar to yours, you know how critical it is to differentiate yourself among a sea of competitors, so you can build an audience of not just customers, but raving fans and brand evangelists.

If your company’s brand personality doesn’t connect emotionally with your ideal clients or customers in an authentic, impactful way, stop and think for a minute about the revenue you could be generating, but you’re not.

Sure, success is not all down to brand personality, BUT …

“Brand personality is a way to humanize your brand with relatable characteristics and clearly differentiate it in a crowded competitive landscape.”

👉 And differentiating yourself in a crowded, competitive landscape can make the difference between a “meh” brand that folks can take or leave, and one consumers love, buy from, and sing the praises of.

To circle back to something we covered way back at the beginning of this post:

When you make an emotional connection through communicating a distinctive, original brand personality, the right customers – and more of them – will want to do business with you.

That’s because “People purchase products because of a story, an emotional connection they feel with a brand.”

And they can’t feel that emotional connection with your brand if your marketing communications are lackluster, bland, and dull as dirt.

Final Words & Next Steps

:: If you want to take the DIY route, there are many solid resources to be found online with a quick Google search that will teach you how to develop a winning brand personality.

:: You can start this process by reading some of the articles I’ve linked up below in the “Sources” section, and by reviewing other brands who have successfully created a memorable brand personality in the Other Examples of Brand Personality” section below.  

OR …

:: You can hire an agency to do the work for you.

OR …

:: You can have one of your staff copywriters team up with the person in charge of your visual assets and punch up what you’ve already got, depending on your current situation.

**As a start, you could simply work on uncovering your “unique recipe,” and begin weaving that into your marketing communications everywhere your customers come into contact with your brand.**



:: If you want my free 5-part email course Web Copy That Converts, email me at kimberly (at) kimberlydhouston (dot) com, with “Web Copy That Converts” in the subject line, and I’ll put you on the wait list and send it your way as soon as I get it finalized.

:: If you want to grab my free Website Copy & Conversion Audit Checklist, which is essentially the 5-part email course distilled down into a short checklist, email me at kimberly (at) kimberlydhouston (dot) com, with “Web Copy Checklist” in the subject line, and I’ll send it over right away during normal business hours.

If you’d like to work together to punch up your copy, email me at kimberly (at) kimberlydhouston (dot) com and tell me about your project, or check out my services here.


Other Examples of Brand Personality

Want to check out some other examples of companies who do brand personality especially well?

Here’s a company whose branding guidelines I helped create at the last agency I worked for:


And here are some of my personal favorite brands with a distinctive personality:

Whiskey River Soap Co.

Hiut Denim

Oya Femtech Apparel

Title Nine

Tory Burch


Trader Joe’s

Dollar Shave Club

Other well-known examples of brand personality include: Nike, Patagonia, REI, Harley Davidson, Jeep, Volvo, Chanel, Apple and Rolex.


This is a list of sources I used to inform this article. Articles that were quoted or excerpted directly are linked within the article where those quotes or ideas appear.

How Dave Munson Started Saddleback Leather by Leveraging the Power of Storytelling (My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, episode 181)

With Just 2 Words, This CEO Has Leadership In The Bag (Forbes)

Dave Munson and the Coolest Bag Ever (Shoptalk Magazine)

Dave Munson from Saddleback Leather – (eCommerce Fuel) Here Dave talks about the personality of the brand, maintaining the voice of the company, and best of all, his approach to marketing

How To Create A Legendary Brand Through Quality with David Munson (Mike Dillard’s Self Made Man YouTube Channel)

Building a High-Quality Leather Bag Brand (Trep Talks)

Brand Personality: How to Build a More Human Brand (Ignyte – A Branding Agency)

Ecommerce Branding: 11 Examples and 27 Expert Tips to Help Build Your Brand Online (Big Commerce)

How to Write a Great Value Proposition [7 Top Examples + Template] (Hubspot)

Here are some other resources you may find helpful on the topic of differentiation and / or brand personality and brand voice. While I did not quote or excerpt these directly, I read them in the process of doing background research for this article:

Differentiation strategy: what it is, why it’s critical, and how to get it right (CXL)

How to Build a Big Brand Voice (Copyhackers)

Brand Personality: Definition, Examples, and How to Define Yours (The Branding Journal)

What is a Brand Personality, According to Marketers Who’ve Developed Them (Hubspot)

Ignyte Brands is a wonderful resource for all things branding, and I read several of their blog articles in the course of researching this article:

The Power of Copywriting in Branding

How to Discover Your Authentic Brand Voice

How to Define a Brand Voice to Set Your Business Apart

7 Simple Website Copywriting Best Practices That Won’t Make You Cry into Your Corn Flakes (but will help you get more business, bookings & sales)

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

I get it.

You’re busy. You’ve got a dozen balls in the air and a To-Do list a mile long.

Which means you don’t have the bandwidth to rewrite your entire website from top to bottom yourself, a dedicated copywriter on your staff to do it for you, or the time to vet and hire a pro copywriter.

But you do want to get more email subscribers, book more complimentary consults or strategy sessions, or make more sales. And my guess is, you want to do it sooner rather than later.

That’s where these seven simple website copy tweaks come in – for when a complete web copy overhaul is not in the cards, but you want to do something to improve your website performance ASAP, ideally in the next few days.

Because as “they” say, your website is your 24/7 salesperson.

And that means that while you’re tending to the other parts of your business, or simply off living your life, your website should be doing a lot of the heavy lifting for you:

  • Educating your potential clients and customers about what you have to offer
  • Whipping up interest in your products and services, so your best, most aligned prospects fill out your contact form, book a complimentary consultation or discovery session, or take the first step in your sales process
  • Getting your ideal clients & customers onto your email list, where after an email nurture sequence, the right ones make the decision to buy

And of course …

  • Making sales

If you want those results, then a great use of your weekend would be to implement these tried-and-true web copy to-dos, so you can get more conversions sooner than later, i.e., more business, bookings & sales, directly from your website. (Yes, there may be additional steps involved in the process, but your website should be doing a lot of the pre-selling for you.)

This list of best practices is based directly on the most common issues I see when I do website reviews for clients.

(Where possible, I’ve linked to a more comprehensive explainer article for each best practice below.)

7 Simple Website Copywriting Best Practices

#1: Know your audience

Do at least some research, even if it’s just talking to 2-3 people in your target audience, reading a handful of blog post comments or forum posts in your niche, and engaging in some “social media listening,” to get a feel for how your likely buyers describe their challenges. Start there – but do more if you can. Knowing your target audience well + gathering voice of customer data makes the difference between copy that converts and copy that falls flat.  

#2: Convey your USP (unique selling proposition)

No matter what it is you do, you can bet there is someone else out there – or a whole lotta of someone elses – doing it too. So, you’ve got to know what makes you meaningfully different and convey that to your right people in your web copy.

Learn more here about what a USP is and why you need one here. [This is a 3-part series; you can access all 3 parts from the Part 1 link here.]

#3: Use conversational copy

Good web copy is conversational, not overly formal, stilted, or full of jargon.

You know you’ve seen it.

Stuff like …

“We create strategic digital solutions for brands looking to expand market share and create new channels.”

Or …

“We create strategic planning, technology, media, social marketing and analytics solutions to meet all your needs.”

Or …

“With over 50 years of industry experience, we execute forward thinking solutions for every client.”

Now, of course, what you write and how you write it will depend on your audience (see Tip #1). If you serve lawyers, for example, your copy will be very different than if your audience is made up of circus clowns.

No matter who your audience is, however, your copy should be 100% free of unintelligible nonsense like that above.

Check out some of the examples in this post from Hubspot:

14 Copywriting Examples from Businesses with Incredible Copywriters

While this Hubspot post is not strictly about conversational copy, many of the examples shared in the article come from businesses who are masters of it.

#4: Write a compelling headline for every web page

Too often I see websites that have a headline on the Home page, but not on the subsequent pages – About page, Contact page, Services page, Shop, Gallery or Store page, and so on.

Here’s the thing – every web page needs a headline – not just the Home page. Web visitors decide in mere seconds whether to stay on a page, and you want to stop the right people – those who are ideal for your products and services – in their tracks and get them interested in reading more. You do that with a persuasive headline that gets their attention and piques their interest, so they want to explore the rest of the page.

Here are a couple of examples from my own files.

For an About page for a fine art photographer who specializes in landscapes & life of the American West, whose audience is made up of collectors who have a deep appreciation for the freedom and adventure of the western lifestyle, I created the headline:

A few miles off the highway, a million miles from ordinary.

You have to admit, that’s much more attention-grabbing for his particular audience than a generic headline like “About Me,” or “My Story” (or no headline at all).

For a page on an artist’s website to sell her real estate renderings service, I created the headline:

Closing Gifts That Help Turn Clients into Friends, Referrals & Repeat Business

This headline is more effective than something generic like, “Closing Gifts” or “Real Estate Renderings.” You’ll notice too that it offers a benefit: Turn Clients into Friends, Referrals & Repeat Business.

For an interior designer who serves busy young families with lots commitments outside the home, who still want to come home to an oasis of comfortable elegance at the end of (yet another) jam-packed day, I created this About page headline:

Accessible Luxury for the Modern Young Family on the Go

Again, this About page headline is going to stand out and grab the attention of this designer’s desired audience more effectively than a generic, “My Bio” or “About Me” as a headline.

#5: Include a clear call to action (CTA) on every page

Every page on your website should clearly indicate what you want web visitors to do next. You do this by including a clear call to action (CTA).

Your call to action will be based on your goal for each page, whether that’s getting people onto your email list, getting complimentary consult calls booked, or having site visitors check out your products and services.

CTA examples:

“Sign up here for weekly updates, event info, and special deals I only share with subscribers”

“Get in touch today for a free estimate”

“Shop the new collection here”

“Visit my gallery here”

“Schedule your free consultation today”

“Contact me here if you have any questions”

#6: Create a clear path to buy (or to get additional information)

A clear path to buy simply means making it as easy as possible for web visitors to make a purchase, or take the first step in your sales process, in as few steps as possible.

How to get from Point A – “Great, I found it! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for,” to Point B – clicking on the “Buy Now” button – should not be a mystery.

If you sell something that requires a few additional steps between “This is exactly what I’ve been looking for” and making a purchase (premium services, for example), then every action that precedes the purchase must be clear and easy to understand as well.

A clear path to buy is also in large part a function of web design. The copy and the design should play to together so there’s no friction or confusion about first steps or next steps to buying, or getting additional information, etc.

Here’s how to determine if your website is up to speed in this department: Pretend you’re the ideal client, customer or prospect, and go through the process as if you want to get more information and/or to buy. (Or better yet, enlist a few ideal prospects, or even friends, to do this for you.) Note what obstacles or challenges come up, and fix those, pronto.

#7: Rely on formulas (instead of reinventing the wheel)

Assuming you don’t have time to take an in-depth copywriting course or hire a skilled copywriter, you can always look to formulas to optimize your website copy.

This is a fantastic resource, from the fine folks at Copyhackers:

The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting (or, Every Copywriting Formula Ever)

This article includes copywriting formulas for all kinds of copy assets a successful business needs, web pages among them. You’ll find formulas for writing most of the elements needed for web copy that converts, including:

  • Headline for a page or a blog post
  • Value proposition
  • Block of body copy
  • Testimonial
  • Bullet list
  • CTA or button copy


And there you have it, seven simple copywriting best practices to help you improve your website’s performance so you can start getting more business, bookings, and sales.

If you’ve got the bandwidth, it would be totally worth it to take a couple days and knock out a few of the action items above.

BUT … if you’re up to your eyeballs in obligations with no end in sight, and you’d love an objective take on your website copy and how it could be improved, then I invite you check out my Serious-About-Sales Web Copy Audit & Action Plan service to see if it’s right for you. I have 2 available spots for this website review service each month.

Either way, I wish you much luck with your 24/7 salesperson, AKA, your website!

From Full of Excuses and Failing in Business to Self-Made Multi-Millionaire: How a Dead Broke Carpet Cleaner Turned It All Around Using the Power of Copywriting and Direct-Response Marketing

brand vs direct response marketing

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Why is it that we so often stubbornly resist what turns out to be the most life-changing advice about achieving business success from those who’ve been there, done that, and know a thing or two, and refuse to do the one thing that might change things for the better and get us to the point of actual traction in our business?

The thing that might transform a wheezing, sickly, underperforming business from breathing its last dying breath into a revenue-generating, full-time income-producing thing of beauty we can be proud of? A business where the number of email subscribers, new client inquiries, and yes, sales, actually increases consistently?

I’d wager fear of the unknown and the natural tendency to avoid discomfort (~ raises hand ~) is probably right up there at the top of the list, wouldn’t you?

Trouble is, we often let this fear and avoidance dynamic keep us stuck inside our wretched comfort zones, where dreams go to die, all the while banging our heads against a wall, expecting something to change even as we won’t, as we go on doing the same ineffective thing day in and day out to get our business to grow.

Sometimes even to the point where the business withers and dies, and we have to – gasp – go back to work for “the man.” Oh, the horror!

Granted, not everyone reading this is in that position.

But plenty of business owners are – gravitating by default to the familiar and comfortable when it comes to marketing and selling, instead of doing something that might be uncomfortable, yet will yield far greater results.

Well, listen up as I tell you a story about a dead broke carpet cleaner who was failing miserably in his business until he discovered the power of copywriting and direct response marketing, then used this knowledge to turn things around.

And turn things around he surely did, going from flat broke and on the verge of giving up, to charging $25,000 per half day for his consulting services, and hanging out with the likes of people like Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Bill Clinton.

Joe Polish is the guy.

As a lifelong student of marketing and copywriting, I’m always on the hunt for people in the copywriting field who are more – and I mean WAY more – knowledgeable and successful than I am, so I can soak up their wisdom and apply it to my business where it makes sense. Joe Polish is one of those people.

Polish is the Founder and President of Piranha Marketing Inc., founder of the Genius Network Mastermind, and co-founder of a highly popular free weekly podcast on iTunes called I Love Marketing. After creating mega-success in his carpet cleaning business, he went on to teach what he learned about marketing to others in that industry, then created a highly profitable marketing consulting business.

But once upon a time, before the accolades, the successes and the abundant income, he was that practically bankrupt carpet cleaner.

Joe’s Story

You can check out Joe’s full story in his own words here, but in a nutshell, when he was in his early twenties and struggling in his carpet cleaning business, as in, on the verge of bankruptcy, dead broke and living-on-credit-cards-struggling, he got invited on a weekend trip that would change the course of his life forever.

On this jet-ski trip to the lake with his buddies, Joe met and struck up a conversation with the multimillionaire real estate investor who owned the jet skis, a man he rightly assumed he could learn a thing or two from. He told the guy about his carpet cleaning business and how poorly it was doing. He shared that he was thinking about getting into another, more lucrative kind of business. He asked the multimillionaire for recommendations for what kind of business he could get into where he could make more money.

The multimillionaire asked him, “Are there people in your industry making money?”

Joe replied that yes indeed there were, and that a few of those companies were even making over a million bucks a year. But he said those companies had an advantage, because they’d been around for years, and had lots of employees and were well-established in the market, with name recognition that he couldn’t compete with as a newbie.

After listening to these and many other excuses Joe made for why he wasn’t successful, the multimillionaire said to him, “If there are other people in your industry doing well and making money and you’re not, there’s nothing wrong with your business, there’s something wrong with you.”

He told Joe he sounded like one of those people who think “the grass is always greener on the other side,” and that going into a new business wasn’t the answer. What he really needed to do was learn and apply fundamental business principles to his current business to make it work, said the multimillionaire.

In Which Our Hero Makes a Very Wise Decision

Our hero Joe takes this advice to heart, and decides he will do whatever is in his power to make his business successful, “or die trying,” as he said.

Cut to advertising and marketing. Except, instead of using traditional image-based or brand advertising, which essentially attempts to create a positive feeling or image around a product or company and build awareness of the brand – think car commercials and fancy perfume ads, for example – Joe decides to use the timeless, proven principles of direct response marketing, which have been working like gangbusters for nearly every kind of business, company and cause for over a hundred years, thank you very much. 

What exactly is direct response marketing you ask, and how does it differ from image and brand advertising?

Unlike brand advertising, which seeks to raise awareness, direct response marketing’s goal is to stimulate an immediate response or action, via print (yes, still!) or web communications. So on the web, that could mean things like getting someone to sign up for your email list, call you for an appointment, set up a free consult, reach out for more information about your products or services, or make a purchase of said products and services.

Direct response marketing works because, as Joe says, “it educates, motivates, and calls your consumers to take action.” (Unlike the Jeep commercial that leaves you full of daydreams about the rugged and adventurous life you might lead if you owned the latest version of the Grand Cherokee, but doesn’t provide a mechanism that allows you to take immediate action.)

And the thing that helps direct response marketing work its wonders? Persuasive writing – copywriting – writing meant to encourage action.

According to AWAI (American Writers and Artists Inc., where I got some fabulous copywriting training):

Unlike news or editorial writing, copywriting is all about getting the reader to take action. That action might be to purchase, opt-in, or engage with a product, service, or company.

But back to our hero . . .

Joe was determined to make his business a success and willing to try direct response marketing to get there. As a result, he went from grossing $2100 per month to grossing $12,300 per month, in just 6 short months. Within a year, he had turned his carpet-cleaning business into a six-figure business.

He began a second business teaching others in his industry the direct response marketing techniques that helped him go from dead broke to six-figure success. He eventually sold the carpet-cleaning business and now generates millions in revenue from his marketing training business.

All because he got out of his comfort zone, stopped complaining about what wasn’t working and opened himself up to something that did, and took action by applying what he learned.

But Will This Work for Me?

Now, you can do “image advertising” or a “brand awareness” campaign if you want to, there’s nothing wrong with that, but just know that it might take months and months to see any kind of traction from your efforts.

Whereas with direct response marketing & effective copywriting, you can create web copy and other communications today that get potential clients and customers reaching out to you tomorrow.

I encourage you to read Joe’s story here, where you’ll learn a lot more about what direct response marketing is and how to apply it, if you’re interested. At the end of his story, Joe shares four proven strategies for marketing your business that worked incredibly well for him and over 6300 business owners in his industry.

And before you go thinking, “But I don’t own a carpet cleaning business, those strategies won’t work for me,” or, “I’m not comfortable using ‘aggressive’ marketing tactics,” keep in mind what I said earlier: the timeless, proven principles of direct response marketing have been working like gangbusters for nearly every kind of business, company and cause for over a hundred years.

And you can adapt those principles in a non-aggressive way to your business and your marketing comfort level. (But don’t get too comfortable, mind you, because your comfort zone is where dreams go to die, and we actually want results here, right?)

Please note, I’m NOT saying you have to actually mail things to people or use the kind of direct response ads Joe talks about in his story (though that works too), but you can practice direct response marketing principles on your website.

If you click on the link above to read Joe’s story, pay special attention to what he says about the difference between marketing and selling, and his definition of what selling really is. I think you’ll find Joe’s definition of selling comforting.

The Takeaway

Over the years I’ve had several clients who don’t feel comfortable “asking for the sale,” or in some cases, even alluding to the fact they have something for sale.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that those people make far fewer sales of their products and services than people who know they have to get comfortable with marketing and selling to be successful in business, or act in spite of their discomfort with it.

(By the way, I find it easy as pie to help other people with their marketing, but I’m not that terribly comfortable doing it for myself, despite providing marketing, copywriting, and PR services to my clients since 2001. But I act in spite of my discomfort, because if there’s one thing I’m wildly passionate about, it’s having a successful business so I never, ever, E-V-E-R, have to go back to work for “the man.”)

That said, I get that Joe Polish’s style may not be right for everyone. I understand the strategies and tactics of other wildly successful marketers I’ve mentioned on this blog before, people like Dan Kennedy, Ben Settle, or John Carlton may be a little too aggressive for your taste.

I get it.


From Polish, Kennedy, Settle, Carlton and other classic marketing mentors, to brilliant marketing types like Naomi Dunford, Ashley Ambirge, Marie Forleo and others – I take what works for me, what I can adapt to my shy-ish, sensitive and creative sensibilities, and leave the rest.

No reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as I see it. Instead, I learn and adapt, learn and adapt.

At the end of the day, if solopreneurs and small business owners who are afraid to sell, or think there’s something inherently wrong or sleazy about selling – and therefore resist learning how to effectively market online – would let go of that one very detrimental mindset, they’d be a lot more successful.

And I can say this, because I had to learn this lesson myself in the early days when I was first launching what was then my generic freelance writing business. I fervently wish I hadn’t wasted a year and half and then some working my fingers to the bone doing what was comfortable but wasn’t working, and applied tried-and-true principles of copywriting and direct response marketing instead.

But better late than never, eh?

So my plea to you is, become a student of copywriting and marketing. Even if you don’t learn from me, that is A-OK my friend, but find someone whose teachings and trainings you do resonate with, and learn from them.

Because as Dan Kennedy says, copywriting is the #1 skill to master if you want to increase your income. I wouldn’t be in the business of writing copy for my clients, or helping my clients optimize and improve their current copy, if I didn’t believe that.

In my case, learning from masters like Kennedy, Polish, Settle, Carlton and other copywriting greats has given me a priceless return on my time investment, many times over.

I wish the same for you.


By the way, if you’re ready for a magnetic website that attracts, engages & sells to your dream clients, using proven direct response marketing principles (in a 100% non-sleazy or aggressive way), check out my Work with Me page for more details.


Want More Email Subscribers? Implement These Two Ridiculously Simple Tips

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

I’ve been doing loads of web copy & messaging strategy sessions this week, and here’s something I’ve noticed:

Pretty much everyone I talked to KNOWS that building a healthy, robust email list is non-negotiable if you want to build your business and get clients and customers online (without having to do the constant client-getting hustle).

Yet, most of the fine folks I had calls with had their email opt-in forms buried in a hard to find spot on their website, and/or the copy asking people to sign up for the list was the standard, “Sign up for updates here,” or “Join My Newsletter,” or similar.

And in most cases, there was also no dedicated landing page for the email opt-in opportunity.

That situation will not convert very many web visitors to email subscribers, if it converts any at all.

This wasn’t news to most of those I spoke to – they get it.

But keep in mind, every day your website isn’t optimized for email opt-ins is a day you’re not building your audience; therefore, you’re “leaving money on the table,” to use a terribly cliché phrase. (Cliché, yes, but TRUE? Also, yes.)

During every consult where the above was the case, I shared the following advice.

Two tips anyone can implement simply and quickly to increase email opt-ins

Tip #1: Create persuasive opt-in copy

What you want to do is create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling reason to sign up for your list. Make it about the benefits of signing up, and tell them how often they can expect to hear from you, if you can fit that info in.

So, not this:

Or this:


No, no, no no no. That will not do. No one wants to enter their email address into a mystery form like the ones above with no information about … anything.

Instead, give your opt-in copy some personality, and share those benefits! For example, the copy on my Home page opt-in says:

“Enter your email below to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)”

The pop-up opt-in on my website says:

“Get Actionable Copywriting Tips to Grow Your Creative Business: Weekly copywriting & web marketing advice for creatives, solopreneurs & other non-marketing types. Sense of humor and Southern twang included at no extra charge.”

And check out the copy on Ashley Ambirge’s opt-in form for her “25 Days to $100K Freelancer Challenge”

Notice how much more enticing the idea of handing over your email address in exchange for valuable, interesting content becomes when the copy conveys benefits AND personality.

Tip #2: Create a dedicated landing page for email opt-ins

Create a dedicated landing page for your email list, and have access to that page it in the main navigation menu at the top of your website.

This link is what you’ll use in your social media bios. Because, again, you want to build the email list, and this will help you do it.

Here’s the power of a dedicated landing page for your opt-in:

The small opt-in form on my website Home page converts about 1.9% of website visitors. My email opt-in landing page converts around 48% of website traffic.

HUGE difference.

If all you have on your site is a tiny email opt-in form, especially if it’s hard to find AND the copy on it is not that compelling, you’re missing out on potential subscribers every single day.

And if you’re doing things to drive traffic to your site so you can GET more subscribers, that effort will be wasted.

So, what should you write on your email opt-in landing page?

You can go into a little more detail about the kind of information people can expect to receive once they sign up, and how often they’ll hear from you. You can share more about the benefits of signing up.

For example, on my email opt-in landing page, I say:

Enter your email below to get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE …

You’ll also receive free weekly updates: tips and advice on how to use personality-driven web copy and bespoke web marketing strategy in your creative business to:

  • Instantly captivate clients who are perfect for what you have to offer . . . and subtly shoo away those who aren’t
  • Get client inquiries rolling in consistently so you can get off the feast-or-famine roller coaster for good
  • Book more projects & make more folding money

All while keeping your creative integrity intact.

Enter your email below and click “Give Me the Guide!”


To recap, if you want to get more email subscribers:

#1: Create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling & benefit-driven reason to sign up for your list

#2: Create a dedicated landing page for your email list



I’ll admit, I wasn’t always about sending offers to my list when I first got online. 

Sure, I started an email list from Day Freakin’ One, but even as an experienced marketer and copywriter, I was hesitant to send anything other than high value free content.

“What if people get upset?” I wondered. “What if people unsubscribe?” I whined, to no one in particular.

Now I realize none of that matters. If someone unsubs because you sent out an offer, they aren’t your people, and were never going to buy from you anyway.

Or maybe they unsub because you’re just not their jam. That’s cool. You don’t want those people on your list. Let them go.


Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like sending an offer to your subscribers, and getting people raising their hand, eagerly saying, “Yes, I want that!,” in return.

A few years ago, when I sent my very first true sales email to my list, I was pretty nervous, because up to that point, I’d ever only sent “value bomb” / educational emails.

But I got over my fear and hit “send.” The email announced a small $500 offer, and 5 people replied yes within 24 hours.

And no one died!! AND I generated $2500 in revenue!

I’d always believed in the power of email marketing, even if I was too afraid to make an ask at first, but after that first experience, I was well and truly sold.

Sold, I tell you!

$2500 in 24 hours from sending one email?

I’ll take it.

And I’m small potatoes. My list is TINY. Embarrassingly tiny.

There are folks out there sending one or two emails and making 5 or 10 times that. They’re more well-known, have pricier offerings and bigger email lists, but I’m living proof there’s still much you can do with a small, dedicated list of email subscribers.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have something valuable people actually want and are willing to pay for.

But you can start building your email list now, before you have all your products and services worked out; that’s what I did.


I hope by now you’re sold on optimizing your website for email opt-ins.

It’s one of the very best things you can do for your business, especially if, like me, you’re an introvert, and love the idea of doing most of your marketing online.


Want me to write your persuasive opt-in form + email sign-up landing page copy so you can start getting more subscribers sooner rather than later, and build your audience of raving fans?

Email me at: Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com with “Email opt-in copy” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you ASAP with details of how we can work together.

If building your email list is important to you, then let’s connect!

Why Relevant Messaging for Your Target Audience is Non-negotiable [& how to create it]

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Recently I was on a strategy call with a client I’ve worked with on a handful of copywriting and marketing projects over the years.

Since we’ve known each other for a while, once the strategy session was over, we got to chatting informally about business, and life in general.

She asked me an interesting question.

“I’m curious,” she said. “I know what I need your help with, but what’s the main thing your other clients come to you for, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Even though I serve a varied group of creative service providers, freelancers, and solopreneurs, there’s not a long list of marketing-type things I help people with, or problems I help them solve.

My work with clients mostly boils down to a small handful of things. It’s largely writing email or website copy and/or working out their web & email marketing strategy.

And it always, always starts with getting clear on relevant messaging for their target audience, so their websites and email campaigns attract and convert more ideal clients.

Because without targeted, persuasive messaging, it won’t matter how much traffic you get to your website, how beautifully designed your site is, or how fantastic your work is.

Your ideal clients will not linger on your site, they will not sign up for your email list, and they will not inquire about working with you.

Full stop.

I’ve seen this over and over again, and I’ve been at this since the stone age, AKA 2001. (Which, by the way, I can’t even BUH-LIEVE I’ve been doing marketing communications that long. But I digress.)

This happens because not understanding your ideal clients’ hopes, fears, and dreams, together with your meaningful difference in the marketplace, results in messaging that’s generic, boring, bland and homogenous. 

And that means that as lovingly crafted and well-written as your marketing copy may be, it won’t convert enough web visitors into solid prospects and ideal clients to make all that hard work you’re putting in to “get the word out” worthwhile.

When clients come to me, they’re often experiencing the following challenge:

They’re getting some level of traffic to their website, but their site isn’t converting traffic into leads, and leads into clients.

In other cases, it’s doing a little bit of this, but not nearly enough.

This, despite having a beautifully & professionally designed website that showcases the work they do in a compelling way, or a perfectly serviceable DIY website that does the same.

Yet, people aren’t people reaching out to work with them often enough. Or at all, in some cases.

I have so much empathy for clients in this situation.

Because I was in this very same predicament when I was selling myself as a generic freelance writer way back in the day, a story I’ve told many times on this blog and in my newsletter.

What saved my butt and my business was getting clear on who I wanted to work with, what problems they had that I was uniquely qualified to solve, and how I could express this persuasively on my website and elsewhere through a clear and compelling marketing message.

That’s what changed everything for me.

I went from having a poorly performing website that wasn’t generating nearly enough qualified leads, and where email sign-ups were moving at a glacial pace, to getting high-quality clients from a tiny amount of website traffic and doubling my email sign-ups.

This was a result of clear, compelling messaging that appealed to my target audience.

Messaging that was not generic. It was also not based on what I thought people wanted, but instead on copious research + interviews I did with real, live, flesh-and-blood humans about their challenges and desires related to their creative businesses.

So, here’s my hot tip for you.

If you create a marketing message that appeals to your ideal clients and share that on your website and through your other marketing channels, it’s entirely possible to gain A LOT of traction – as in, leads, clients, and email sign-ups – without having to do loads of other things first.

Now, to be clear, those “other things” – a professional website, relevant services & packages that your ideal clients want to buy, qualified traffic coming to your site, consistent marketing, etc. – are all important, necessary, and need to be put into place.

BUT, the right messaging always comes first.

That way, when your marketing starts working and traffic starts coming to your site, your audience is met with messaging targeted directly to them and their needs/wants/desires, which in turn, makes them want to subscribe to your email list, inquire about working together, sign up for a free consult, or take some other step in your sales process.

To help you with that, the following is a brief excerpt from my recently released copy messaging guide, which you can purchase if you so desire, or you can get started by implementing the golden nugget below, without spending a dime! 😊

Your marketing message is the combination of things about you and your business — that you already possess! — that put together the right way, will help you attract and connect with your ideal clients & customers (your “ICA,” or ideal client avatar), stand out from the online crowd (instead of being a copycat version of every other person for hire out there doing what you do), and, once you’re getting consistent quality traffic to your website, help you get more business, bookings and sales.

It’s created from your ideal client profile, your unique selling proposition (USP), or what I prefer to call your “meaningful difference,” your expertise, and your unique backstory, among other things.

So, if it were a formula, it would look something like this:

ICA + USP + your expertise + your life experience & unique backstory + your worldview = your overarching marketing message

You’ll weave this in on your website, blog posts, newsletters, social media updates, and all your marketing communications, wherever you’re in conversation with your audience.

Your marketing message is what compels your ideal clients and customers to choose you over all the other choices they have, it tells them why you’re exactly the right person or business to solve their problems and challenges, and it begins to tell them how you’ll do so.

The right messaging should strike an emotional cord with your ideal/desired audience, and make them feel like, “Yes, this is exactly who I want to work with. Where do I sign up?”

Here’s another way to think of it:

The hook/big idea/marketing message of your business answers the question, “Of all the other [thing you do] out there who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should your ideal clients choose you?”

And there you have it.

My hot tip for you is to spend some time creating your compelling marketing message and begin sharing it on your website and every other place you communicate with your audience.

Because again, even without all the other elements in place yet, this can work wonders for your business. I can’t promise that, of course, but it certainly worked wonders for mine.

Creating and sharing persuasive, targeted messaging that spoke to my ideal clients and conveyed my meaningful difference is what made all the difference between me giving up and crying into my Lucky Charms, and still being here, 7+ years into my freelance business journey, loving what I do and supporting myself with it.

If you want to go deeper on how to create a signature marketing message, you can grab my guide, Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types, for less than the cost of a Starbucks date.

And if not, use what I’ve shared in the excerpt above to get started on your own.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck!

How to Ship When It’s Not Perfect: On Beating Procrastination, Overcoming Limiting Beliefs, and Finally Shipping my Copy Messaging Guide

marketing messages that convert

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

I recently sent an email to my list about the long and winding road to finally, finally, at long last, publishing the beta version of a copy messaging ebook I’d been working on in fits and starts for nearly a year.

Actually, when I started working on what would eventually become the ebook in June 2018, it was still going to be an 11-lesson e-course that would drip out over the space of a couple of weeks. At that time, I was planning to sell it for $97, and add downloadable worksheets & checklists to go with the main course content.

To go back even further than that, though, this content was originally meant to be a course specifically for photographers.

That’s when I was calling it 30 Days to a Magnetic Marketing Message That Sells: A Course for Wedding, Portrait, and Lifestyle Photographers: Create Messaging for Your Photography Business That Helps You Stand Out in an Overcrowded Market, Attract & Connect with Your Ideal Clients, & Get More Bookings.

But even long before that, much of this content already existed in some form or fashion – email newsletters, blog posts, guest posts on other sites, podcast interviews, and so on.

All of which is to say, I could have gotten this dang ebook done and dusted much sooner than I did.

So, why didn’t I?

Why I couldn’t get this project shipped

Part of the hold-up was everyday life stuff, like moving, dealing with some family issues, and other ordinary run-of-the-mill challenges.

And then there was the out of the ordinary stuff.

To be 100% transparent, A LOT was going down in my personal life at the time I was trying to create this content, that was, shall we say, very, very challenging.

(Maybe I’ll share that story someday, if only to say, “Can ya believe I survived that?” Ha ha. Because I can hardly believe I did.)

Another thing that kept me from completing and shipping the project was the nagging feeling that I shouldn’t focus the content solely on helping photographers, as much as I love and adore them. Instead, I should make this content applicable to solopreneurs, freelancers, and creative business builders of all kinds.

And if I was going to do that, I was going to have to rewrite at least part of the content I’d already created to appeal to a wider audience.

But if I’m honest, much (ok, most) of the delay had to do with resistance and procrastination, caused by limiting beliefs like . . .

“An ebook? Ebooks are sooooo 2006, Kimberly. Or 2009. But certainly in 2019 they aren’t a thing people sell anymore!” [I’m not talking about what you can buy on Amazon; I’m talking about selling ebooks directly from your website or a third-party solution like Podia, which is what I used. Podia is awesome, by the way.]


“Why would you put so much time and effort into writing and selling an ebook, fer cryin’ out loud, when that same amount of time and effort put into selling your premium services would net you exponentially more revenue?” [I can just hear certain business coaches and well-meaning copywriters I know saying this exact thing in my ear right now.]


“When you look at your copywriting heroes, those whose careers you’ve long admired, those you’d like to emulate in at least some small way, have ANY of them ever sold an inexpensive ebook as part of their suite of offerings?” [The only copywriting hero of mine I know of who has, is Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers.]

AND the classic imposter syndrome belief …

“Who am I to write this copy messaging guide? Sure, I’ve been working in the marketing, communications & copywriting space for 15+ years now, but I’m no [insert any one of my copywriting heroes here]. Why would anyone listen to me?!”

What finally got me off the dime

Despite the BS limiting beliefs above, I couldn’t deny the magnetic pull I felt toward sharing the framework I’d been using for years to create memorable & effective messaging for my private copywriting clients.

When I began developing this framework, the core thing that was driving me was the problem I was trying to solve – how to extract and distill my clients’ point of difference or USP, and create persuasive messaging that conveyed that meaningful difference, so they could stand out in an overcrowded market and attract and convert more of their ideal clients.

Doing this requires diving deep and determining the Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) and Unique Selling Proposition (USP), then combining those two key ingredients, along with a few other uber-important factors, to create compelling & sticky signature marketing messages that convert website visitors into promising leads and ideal clients.

It was in early 2019 that it occurred to me that I should, in the name of all that’s holy, stop messing around and share this copy messaging framework NOW, no matter what form the content took – ebook, dripped out ecourse, full-blown course with all the bells and whistles, or me showing up personally at your front door with a whiteboard and some dry erase markers to teach you this stuff one-on-one. 😊

Because this messaging extraction process is something everyone building a business online or offline needs to be able to do – for their business overall, and for each service offering and marketing campaign as well.

And it should be for all freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business owners selling their products and services, because that’s who I see struggling the most with developing persuasive messaging that helps them stand out online.

And it should also be fairly inexpensive, so it’s accessible for those just starting out, because that’s when you need this information the most. (Though you can – and you certainly should – use this framework to clarify and improve your existing messaging, even if you’re farther along in your business journey.)

So, yeah. It was time to get this content put together and shipped, once and for all.

Of course, swimming around in my fevered brain at the same time were thoughts like, “But I want this to be perfect!,” and “It should be beautifully designed first!”

But naw, the perfectionist in me would have held off for at least another 6 months before moving forward if I had let those things stop me.

Which is why I decided to put this information together in the easiest format I could tackle on my own – an ebook – and release the imperfect beta version, so I could get it launched before I chickened out or came up with 40 other bullshit excuses to avoid taking action.

How I MADE myself finally finish the ebook and put it up for sale

It was simple, really.

I did something I’ve never done and always said I would never do, because I don’t enjoy that kind of pressure: on a Thursday afternoon, I sent an email to my list to let them know the beta version of the ebook would be ready for sale by the end of the following day.

I let them know it would be in beta form, so not to expect beautiful design or fancy bells and whistles, but if they were interested in the simple PDF version, the info inside would be well worth way, way more than the $10 cost of the ebook if they implemented the 11 lessons within.

That meant there was no turning back.

It also meant I had to work like a fiend that Thursday night, and all the next day without even taking a break for a shower or a meal, to get the ebook finished and out the door by 5:00 pm that Friday.

And get it out I did.

I sold several copies within the first 15 minutes of sending the email announcing it was ready. More sales trickled in over the next week.

Final Thoughts

I can’t express how phenomenal it felt to finally share my framework for creating compelling marketing messages for freelancers, solopreneurs and small business owners in overcrowded markets, something I’d wanted to do since at least 2012/2013, when doing this very thing saved my own business from dying a sad, ignoble death. [That is no joke, y’all.]

And the fact that I can help others do the same, for less than a Starbucks date? It fills me with joy.

The lesson here is, you can and should get your “thing” out there if it can help others, even if it’s not perfect, and even if it’s very tiny to start. You can always go back later and improve, upgrade, and add more “stuff” to your product if you want – that’s what I plan to do.

The added bonus is, shipping a project, no matter how tiny, does something kind of profound – it starts to change your identity to that of a person who gets things done. As a lifelong perfectionist/procrastinator, that is a big, big, BIG deal for me.

Now I want to give credit where credit is due for a big piece of inspiration that got me over the finish line . . .

If you’re a perfectionist / procrastinator who keeps coming up with excuses not to finish and ship a thing [for me, the two are inseparable], I urge you to check out Amy Hoy’s site, Stacking the Bricks. She writes very compellingly about what procrastination looked like for her, and how she overcame it to create a 7-figure business.

Specifically, I returned to her blog post, How I went from a hopeless procrastinator to starting a 7-figure business, over and over again while I was working on my ebook for a shot of much needed arse-kicking inspiration. It helped me so damn much.

So many golden nuggets o’ wisdom in Amy’s article. Read it if you can.

As she says,

It turns out that just fucking shipping things is magic… but the real fun is in growing and shaping them and reaping the rewards.

But you’ll never get there if you don’t ship.

Amen, sister!


Interested in learning more about the beta version of Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types? You can check it out right here.

If you’re ready to create messaging that helps you stand out online so you can convert website visitors into promising leads and ideal clients, this guide will help.

What is a Signature Marketing Message and Why Do You Need One ASAP? So You Can Stand Out Online, Attract Your Ideal Clients, and Get More Business, Bookings, and Sales

create a signature marketing message

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I talk frequently on this blog, in my weekly emails, and with my private clients about the importance of creating a signature marketing message for your business.

A signature marketing message gives your ideal clients and customers a compelling reason to choose you, rather than one of the other 567,878 creatives online who offer the same products and services you do.

And it’s ab-so-lute-ly essential to have yours dialed in if you want to differentiate your business and get traction with the clients and customers you truly want to serve.

What is a signature marketing message?

Here’s how I define it: A signature marketing message is the combination of things about you and your business — that you already possess! — that put together the right way, will help you attract and connect with your ideal clients & customers, stand out from the online crowd (instead of being a copycat version of every other person for hire out there doing what you do), and help you get more business, bookings and sales.

It’s created from your ideal client profile, your unique selling proposition (USP), or what I prefer to call your “meaningful difference,” your expertise, and your unique backstory, among other things.

Your signature marketing message conveys why you’re exactly the right person or business to solve your target audiences’ problems and challenges, and it begins to tell them how you’ll do so. Your messaging should strike an emotional cord with your ideal/desired audience, and make them feel like, “Yes, this is exactly who I want to work with. Where do I sign up?”

Here’s another way to think of it:

The hook/big idea/marketing message of your business answers the question, “Of all the other [thing you do] out there who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should your ideal clients choose you?” [This, by the way, is the exact question I answer for each client I work with before I begin writing copy for them.]

 For example, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Ask yourself:

Of all the wedding photographers in my area who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should my ideal clients choose me?

Signature Marketing Message Examples

Keep in mind as you review these examples that they’re the distillation of A LOT of information – the ideal client profile, including the challenges the ideal client wants resolved, the unique selling proposition or meaningful difference of the business, and more.

What that means is that these brief statements are part of a much larger whole that will be communicated across your website, your social media channels, and in all your marketing communications, and will include some of the other elements as well, such as your expertise, your unique backstory, and so on.

And what THAT means is that this one brief statement alone isn’t going to get people beating down your door to work with them – you have to communicate with your right people in language that resonates with them and provides the solution they seek, in every place they come across you and your brand, online and otherwise – but nailing down this distilled message is absolutely essential to getting traction online and making those dollah dollah bills, y’all. 

Let’s look at some examples:

[By the way, USP = Unique Selling Proposition and MD = Meaningful Difference]

My Messaging/USP/MD: I help established creative service providers and small businesses discover their meaningful difference and communicate it online with personality-driven web copy, email copy, and other marketing communications that ensure they stand out in an overcrowded market, attract & connect with their ideal clients, & get more bookings, business & sales.

Messaging/USP/MD I created for a luxury wedding photographer:  “I’m a North Carolina wedding photographer specializing in fashion-inspired bridal portraits and luxury wedding photography for stylish, fun couples who value photography as an art, and want a high-end, signature experience on their wedding day.”

For the copy on this photographer’s website Home page, I also wrote: “My style isn’t for everybody, but for the select couples I choose to work with each year who resonate with my approach, I aim to create extraordinary art that will be cherished for generations.”

Messaging/USP/MD I created for another wedding photographer, one who provides one-of-kind fine art wedding photography to mostly first-time brides:  “I’m an Arizona fine art wedding photographer who specializes in working with modern young first-time brides who want fine art quality photography, a friendly partner in the planning process, and someone who can make them feel relaxed, at ease, and naturally beautiful in every single shot.”

Messaging/USP/MD I created for a business strategist, coach and consultant: “I’m a business strategist, coach and consultant. Using a mixture of inspiration, encouragement, and tough love, I apply my 13+ years of real-world business experience – including lessons learned bootstrapping two businesses to 7 figures, having $100K launch days, and getting my products into Target and Anthropologie – to help solopreneurs and small business owners get unstuck and achieve their business goals & dreams. If you’re serious about creating a meaningful, purpose-driven business that supports you, and you’re ready to apply proven business strategies delivered by someone who understands where you are, and can help get you where you want to be, I would love to support you.”

These distilled messages were put together AFTER working with each of these clients intensively to determine who their ideal clients and customers were, and what their meaningful difference in the marketplace was.

In the example of my own marketing message, I’ve done loads and loads of work to identify what my ideal clients most struggle with, and it’s this: standing out online in an overcrowded market among hundreds, if not thousands, of other creative service providers who also do what they do, in a way that draws in their desired audience and converts the right prospects into dream clients. I do this by helping them create a personality-filled marketing message, website copy, and other online and offline communication pieces that resonate with their ideal clients, using informal, casual, yet persuasive language, as opposed to formal and boring old business speak. And you can see that above in the distilled marketing message for my business.

In the case of the luxury wedding photographer, his clients are stylish, fun, and want a luxury signature experience on their wedding day. They also “value photography as art,” and want a keepsake from the day that will stand the test of time, which is why he also offers print products—it’s not all digital. He creates lasting artwork – albums, portraits, etc. – that can last for years and years. This is one of his points of differentiation.

In the case of the fine art wedding photographer, her clients are typically young, first-time brides, so her messaging focuses on this. She also shoots mostly outside in iconic Arizona locations. AND, her style is fine art photography. All these things combined together are what helps set her apart in the marketplace and attract her ideal clients. You can see those things in play above in the distilled marketing message for her photography business.

In the case of the business strategist, coach and consultant, her desired clients are those who are serious about their business, and don’t want a rah-rah-rah cheerleader type to tell them everything is OK, but instead, want to work with someone who has been in the trenches, knows exactly how to build a successful business, and provides the non-sugar-coated kind of tough love approach that will get them there. That comes across in the distilled marketing message for her business.

Other Signature Marketing Message Examples to Check Out

For a couple of other examples of effective marketing messaging, check out Hiut Denim and Saddleback Leather. I always point my clients to these amazing companies to show them how effective the right messaging can be, even when you’re making or selling something that many other companies also sell or make.

Hiut Denim 

Creators of premium denim. Plenty of other companies make premium denim, but Hiut Denim stands out. As they say, “We make jeans. That’s it.” Their philosophy/motto/approach is “Do One Thing Well.” And their backstory, which you can read on the website, helps them stand out in a big way, because it’s about so much more than jeans. Take a look, you’ll be glad you did.

Saddleback Leather 

Creators of leather bags and other leather goods. Check out their website; they have a really fun, engaging, and interesting backstory/founder’s story. And their tagline is one of my favorites of all time – “They’ll Fight Over It When You’re Dead.” 

And for something equally effective but with a different feel, check out Amy Porterfield.

Amy’s messaging is straightforward, easy to digest, and instantly conveys what she’s about:

“Hi, I’m Amy. I teach business owners, educators and entrepreneurs the profitable action steps for building a highly engaged email list, creating online training courses, and using online marketing strategies to sell with ease.”

And there you have it – examples of what an effective and persuasive marketing message that sets you apart online can look like.

If you want to learn how to create your own signature marketing message, check out Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types. For less than date at Starbucks, you can create messaging for your business that appeals to your ideal clients,  while turning away the ones who want to make you weep into your Lucky Charms. 🙂




The Essential Piece of Copy You Must Master to Convert Web Visitors Into Leads and Clients

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Let’s just admit it: this here online marketing thang can be a lot of hard work.

The blog posts, the website copy, the weekly newsletters, the email sales campaigns, the pitches to potential clients, the sales pages, the landing pages, the fresh social media content that must be posted each day so you can stay “top of mind” for those who may want to buy from you . . . phew, I’m tired just writing all that.

Some days the amount of content we have to crank out to generate traffic, interest from potential clients, and signed-on-the-dotted-line business feels exhausting and overwhelming.

And if you’re doing all this work, you want to see results – in the way of people signing up for your email list, setting up a free consultation, requesting more information, visiting your bricks-and-mortar store, signing up for a free trial offer, buying your products, or taking whatever the logical next step is in your customer relationship or audience engagement process.

If you’re getting consistent traffic to your blog or website but your visitors aren’t taking these actions, take heart – the problem could be as simple as adding the appropriate call to action (CTA) in your blog posts, landing pages, emails, website copy and other online (and offline, if you do print advertising) content.

What is a call to action? 

A call to action is a clear instruction in your written communications – your newsletter and blog posts, your Shop or Work with Me page, your social media status updates, your ads and other sales materials – essentially anywhere you communicate with your audience – that directs said audience to take a specific action.

In a nutshell, the call to action is the very clear and uber-specific instruction telling your readers what to do next.

Because just like in “real life,” if there’s something you want someone to do, asking them to do it directly and succinctly is usually the most effective way to get what you want.

Examples of calls to action include:

“Sign up here for free weekly tips and inspiration I only share with my subscribers”

“Come in today for 30% off”

“Buy now”

“Re-tweet this!”

“Leave your comments below”

“Click here to subscribe”

“Order now to take advantage of this limited-time offer”

See? Not so hard, right?

Where to Add CTAs on Your Website

The appropriate place for a call to action depends on the purpose of your website, and what you want readers and potential customers and clients to do after reading a piece of content. The key is to not leave people hanging – give them clear direction on what to do next within or at the end of each page or post.

First, you’ll need to determine the optimal action you want your readers to take, depending on whether they’re reading a blog post, visiting your website’s home page, or checking out your Work with Me or Sales page, etc.

Here are a few key places to put CTAs:

  • At the end of blog posts, asking for shares or comments or directing people to sign up for your email list
  • On your email opt-in form asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter
  • In a newsletter asking readers to click over to a blog post
  • Within your blog posts directing people to something else you’ve written on your blog or elsewhere
  • On the home page of your website directing readers to contact you for more information or to book a complimentary session
  • On a sales page asking for a sale (you’ll want a CTA in several locations on a sales page – but this is a topic for another blog post)

How to Write Your Killer Call to Action

Now that you have some ideas of where to place calls to action to generate the desired actions from your readers, it’s time to develop your CTA copy.

The length of your CTA copy will be determined by where it is and what you’re asking people to do. For example, button copy will be short and sweet and say things like “buy now,” “sign up today,” or “get instant access.” Where you have room to write to your heart’s content, such as at the end of blog posts, your call to action copy may be longer.

4 Tips for Writing a Strong Call to Action

Know your audience. If you’re writing for an audience of lawyers for example, your calls to action will be worded differently than if you write for, say, circus clowns. Call to action copy for accountants would be different than for artists. You get the idea. You want to write in a way that resonates with your target audience and uses the kind of language they would respond to, based on their needs and desires.


  • Oyster, the Netflix of books, according to the interwebs, uses this call to action on their home page: “Read unlimited books, anytime, anywhere. Start for Free.”
  • The dating site OK Cupid uses this call to action on their home page: “Join the best free dating site on Earth. Start meeting people now!”
  • The wonderful novelty store Archie McPhee uses this call to action copy to get people to sign up for their newsletter: “Join the Cult of McPhee: Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter (A $700 Value!)”
  • From the home page of an accounting firm in my hometown: “Our dedication to quality, professional standards, and service is unmatched. Get in touch today.”
  • From a contact form on the website of a personal injury attorney: “No Obligation Free Consultation. Get Help Now!”

Define your outcome. For example, my primary goal is to get email subscribers. This is more important to me than getting social media followers, having people leave comments on my blog posts, or requesting more information. For you it may be different.

With that outcome in mind, the call to action I use at the end of most of my blog posts directs people to sign up for my email list. I don’t ask people to “follow me on social media!,” or “sign up for a free strategy session,” or “Click here to find out more.” It’s almost exclusively about the email list.


Here’s what I use at the end of most blog posts:

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

If your primary goal is to get people to sign up for a free strategy session, you could use something like this at the end of the body copy on your home page:

  • “Ready to get started? Book your complimentary Discovery Session now by entering your email in the form below. I’ll be in touch within 24 hours to set up our call to see if we’re a good fit to work together.”

Use action-oriented words. Begin your calls to action with verbs like “download,” “join,” “sign up,” “share with your friends,” “discover,” and “register now,” etc.


  • “Create an Event. It’s free.”
  • “Read the case study”
  • “Sign up and publish for free”

Convey the benefit. You want to demonstrate value and relevance to your target audience and offer a benefit that is meaningful to them based on their needs and desires.

Where I see the most need for this is in call to action copy on newsletter opt-in forms. Telling someone to “join my newsletter” or “sign up for email updates” just doesn’t cut it. There’s no benefit, value or personality whatsoever in those flaccid calls to action.

Instead, you want to get specific and focus the form copy on the main benefit your subscribers will receive, based on a problem they want to solve or a pleasure they want to gain.


  • Tracy Matthews Jewelry opt-in copy: Is your jewelry box a mess? Sign up to receive your FREE guide: Clean It Like a Professional and Keep It Tangle & Tarnish-Free!  Added Bonus:  By becoming a member you are instantly privy to FREE jewelry giveaways, special jewelry offers, and video tutorials.

The opt-in copy here leads with benefits: how to keep your jewelry tangle and tarnish free, plus access to giveaways, special offers and video tutorials. 

  • Interior designer opt-in copy: Enter your email below to grab your free guide, “From Chaos to Calm: 7 Simple Steps for Transforming Your Busy Young Family’s Home into an Oasis of Practical Luxury.” (Plus weekly design tips and inspiration I only share with email subscribers.)

I wrote this opt-in copy for an interior designer. You can see it focuses on the result the interior designer’s target audience wants to achieve:  transforming a chaotic home into an oasis of practical luxury.

  • My opt-in form copy: Enter your email to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)

My audience of creative business builders often struggles with getting the right kind of clients, so that’s the benefit I focus on in the opt-in copy: writing an About page in a way that attracts ideal clients. 

Bonus tip: Where appropriate, promise instant gratification. It’s human nature – we all love instant gratification. This will depend on your desired outcomes and goals for your site, but where you can use words like “Instant Access,” “Get It Now,” “Instant Download” and similar copy, you’ll often see an increase in people taking action.

Final Thoughts

As the wildly successful copywriter and marketing strategist Dan Kennedy says, “After the headline, the call to action is the most important element of successful copywriting.” Your call to action is the key to getting website visitors to take those oh-so-important actions like signing up for your email list, reaching out to you directly, or buying your products and services.

 [A version of this post originally appeared on the site, Successful Blogging.]


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

How to Do Your Own D-I-Y Website Audit to Increase Conversions

website audit to increase conversions

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Question: Do you dream of having a website that does the job it’s meant to do – namely, to serve as your 24-7 salesperson – so you can go about doing your important creative work without having to constantly worry about marketing yourself? 

Having a “web presence” just to make your business seem legit is not the sole, or even the most important, reason your website exists.

Your website needs to make a powerful connection with the buyers and customers you want. It should position you as the obvious choice for your ideal clients. And it needs to get those people excited to take the next step on the path to working with you or buying from you (and that next step needs to be clearly and compellingly laid out).

Your website is ultimately meant to get you clients and customers and sell your products and services. Full stop.

That process might involve three steps or twelve, and it’ll usually start with subscribing to your email list, but at the end of the business day, if you’re in business, the reason your website exists is to generate revenue.

Maybe your website is actually doing a little bit of that right now. If so, great.

Or . . . maybe it’s behaving more like a lazy employee with a bad attitude, who sometimes does a half-assed job of getting you the results you want, and other times does nothing at all.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Here’s a simple checklist of questions you can ask yourself to gauge your website’s performance:

:: Is your website connecting with your ideal clients and customers?

:: Is it moving them to take the action you want them to take?

:: Is it conveying your signature marketing message, one that speaks directly to those you wish to work with and serve?

:: Is it crystal clear and uber-easy for potential clients to get all the information they need in just one or two clicks, whether that’s signing up for your email list, requesting a consultation, buying your stuff, or something else?

:: Are you employing tried and true, proven copywriting principles in your web copy? (For example, speaking to one person; using conversational language; addressing your clients’ needs, wants, desires, goals, and interests; using client & customer-focused language rather “I do this” and “I do that” language, and so on. The list, it do go on.)

:: Does your web copy instantly convey what’s unique and different about you and why your ideal clients should do business with you?

:: Does your web copy adequately coach the most important conversion you want on each web page? (Each of your web pages needs to have its own goal, and everything on that page should work towards achieving that goal. An obvious example is your newsletter sign-up or email subscriber landing page; it’s one and only goal is to get subscribers.)

:: Is the “path to buy” on your site clear and straightforward?

What I Look for When I Do Website Reviews

For each web page, I consider the questions above. That starts with an in-depth questionnaire in which my client answers a couple dozen questions about their ideal clients, their marketing message, what’s working with their web marketing and communications, what’s not, their website goals, and so on.

I start by looking at the three most important web pages: the Home page, the About page, and the Services or Work with Me, or whichever page the client sells from.

Here’s a brief checklist of the elements I review:

#1) Tagline: does it clearly convey something unique/special/different that makes the web visitor want to stay on the site and explore, or instantly identify what they’ll find on the website?

For example:

Abstract Art for the Unconventional Collector

Wedding Photography for Punk Rock Brides

Life Coach for Gutsy Entrepreneurs

Minimalist Silver Jewelry for the Style Savvy

#2) A clear call to action on each web page: a clear, specific instruction for what web visitors should do next.

For example:

Visit my gallery here.

Schedule your free consultation today.

Contact me here if you have any questions.

Buy now.

Your call to action will obviously depend on the page it’s on and the #1 thing you’d like your web visitors to do after reading that page. First determine the goal for each web page, then make sure CTA on each page reflects that goal.

#3) Understand your ideal buyer/customer and write web copy that speaks to them – you’re not trying to attract and sell to everybody, only those who fit your ideal buyer or client profile.

#4) Strong headlines on each page that convey a clear and compelling benefit so that the right people (those who love what you have to offer and who can afford it) will want to read the rest of your copy or check out the rest of your website. You want your headlines to be clear, compelling and benefit-driven.

#5) Customer/client-focused web copy/language, i.e. reader-oriented content and conversational one-to-one language throughout website. Talk to one person.

#6) Address objections somewhere – an FAQ page is a great place to do this. Create a page that answers questions your potential buyers or clients typically have about working with you; include anything that could be lingering in their mind as a reason not to buy.

#7) Guarantees/remove risk

#8) Proof elements – like testimonials and reviews, etc.

#9) A clear path to buy. It should be crystal clear what someone who is ready to purchase or move forward to working with you should do next, and it should be very easy for them to select that option and take the next step.

#10) Focus on the three most important pages first – Home page; About page; Products/Services/Work with Me page, or whatever you call the page you sell from.

Hat tip to AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc.) for the “5 C’s” of effective content:

:: Customer-focused – the content makes it clear you understand your audience

:: Competitive – your content conveys your USP or what I call your “meaningful difference”

:: Clear and easily understood, no confusing industry jargon

:: Conversion optimized – each page indicates what web visitors should do next and helps convert browsers into buyers

:: Consistent – products and web copy & language, etc.,  are consistent across the website

What You Can Expect When You Make These Website Changes

The great thing is, you don’t have to do everything on the list above to start getting better results from your website. Just start somewhere. Take baby steps if you have to, or heck, do a D-I-Y website improvement binge over the weekend. But just get going on this. If you’re getting consistent, quality traffic, your conversions will improve (and even if you’re not getting much traffic right now, more of what you are getting will begin to convert).

I’ve worked hard to get here (and I know I have some advantages as a professional copywriter and web marketing strategist) but I get consistent email inquiries from potential clients on a weekly basis, simply because they landed on my website, liked what they read, and knew what to do next to get in touch with me.

Very often, these are people I’ve never met or had a conversation with. I’ve never had any contact with them at all until they found my website, then reached out to me. Sometimes they got on my email list first, then a few weeks later reached out.

OR (and this always shocks me), landed on my website, read two blog posts and my Work with Me page, then reached out to hire me right then.

These inquiries consistently turn into clients I adore, and many come back to me for additional copywriting projects, marketing strategy, or consulting. Some of those projects are quite large and ongoing for many months, at the kind of investment level that makes it possible for me to do work I love, without doing the client-getting hustle, hustle, hustle all the time.

If that isn’t a simple & low-key way to find great clients and work on projects you love, I don’t know what is. 

And that is the power of using the right language, in the right places, on your website. [By the way, as you can see from my website, it’s FAR from perfect. In fact, it needs a massive upgrade, but I still do just fine.]

So, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t get clients from your website.

Why do I bring up that last bit?

I’ll tell you.

About a year ago, someone who read something I’d written about the power of effective website copy reached out to me to say that some marketing “guru” they follow said no one gets business from their website.


I had to laugh (and laugh and laugh), because that’s typically the ONLY way I get new (and repeat) business. I don’t do cold calling, or send email pitches, or go to networking events. (Call me lazy, call me introverted to a fault, but that’s just how I roll.)

Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with any of those methods. I’ve used them all at some point, and they work. And I’ll be happy to use them again if/when I feel inspired to.

But these days, I focus on doing an awesome for my current clients, and replying to email inquiries from potential new clients who find me through my website.

Yes, you absolutely need to get quality traffic to your site as well, but my traffic stats are shamefully low, and I still get great clients. I don’t need hordes of people to find me online, I need the right clients to resonate with my marketing message, then inquire about working together, and they do.

Let me repeat: That is the power of persuasive, compelling copy and a clear, easy-to-follow path to finding the right information, in the right place, on your website.

Want the same results for yourself?

If you KNOW your website could be getting you more clients, customers and sales, and you want it to happen NOW, so you can start getting those PayPal and Stripe notifications sooner rather than later, I invite you to reach out to me about working together.

I’ve got a full, comprehensive website copywriting package that may be just right for you. Or if you’re working with a more limited budget, I also offer a VIP Website Audit & Review, which includes a comprehensive website action plan with customized-for-you copy & conversion recommendations you can implement on your own to start improving your website results ASAP.

Simply reach out to me at Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com, and put “website copywriting package” or “VIP website review” in the subject line, depending on which service you’re interested in. I’ll get back to you within 48 hours during normal business hours. We’ll begin by discussing your project over email, then if moving forward makes sense, we’ll schedule a call to talk about your next best steps.

Would You Rather Push a Boulder Uphill with a Feather, or Nail Down Your Compelling Marketing Message?: A Question for Creative Business Builders, Solopreneurs, Freelancers and Small Business Owners

Let’s go way, way back in Internet years to late 2011/early 2012.

I was just bringing my writing business online, and was excited as all get out to finally launch my website and start selling my services on the World! Wide! Web! Yee-to-the-haw!!

I’d been helping clients with marketing copy, content, and other marketing initiatives for years; going live with my website would finally make it legit and “official.”

Ah, the rainbows and unicorns of those halcyon early days! The harp-playing angels on fluffy white clouds when I thought of the possibilities! The opportunities! The freedom! The revenue!

And yet.

By the end of 2012, I was experiencing one of the most frustrating, maddening, and exasperating periods of my business. I was exhausted and on the verge of giving up.

I’m talking tear-inducing, anxiety-producing, hair-pulling frustration, and the occasional to-the-hell-with-this-here-business-thing-if-it-has-to-be-so-hard crying jag alone in my apartment, while my friends were out doing “normal” things like going to dinner, or the movies, or out for beers and live music on a Saturday night.

Pushing a Boulder Uphill with a Feather

It wasn’t that I didn’t have any clients. I just didn’t have enough clients, and certainly not enough of the right kind of clients.

I wanted to serve creatives who were doing interesting things in their business who valued my expertise, and had an actual budget for marketing and copywriting. Yet I was attracting clients in all kinds of random, non-creative industries, many of whom were looking for bargain-priced services, and who didn’t always appreciate the value (and necessity) of persuasive writing/copywriting to their business success.

If you provide one-on-one services in your business, you know how frustrating it can be to work with the wrong kind of clients. Good people, just the wrong clients. Ahem.

On top of that, I was spending hours upon hours producing weekly content for blog posts, newsletters, and social media, yet it didn’t seem to be moving the needle. My email list growth was nearly stagnant, and I wasn’t faring much better in the attracting-the-right-kind-of-buyers department either.

And when I doubled down and worked even harder and longer producing still more content, thinking maybe “more” was the answer?  Nope, still no real change.

It was like pushing a boulder uphill with a feather.

[I covered this fun time in much greater detail in a 3-part blog series from 2013 called Creatives: Are You Making These 3 Web Marketing Mistakes?]

Then It Dawned on Me . . .

In case clicking over to read that 3-part series is not in the cards for you time-wise, I’ll give you the short version of my epiphany here.

My big mistake, and why I wasn’t getting the results I wanted was three-fold:

#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. (You have to do the first two to be able to pull off the third).

The problem was my marketing message. Or lack of one, to be more precise.

That’s when nailing down and conveying the right marketing message to the right audience became my mission. I was NOT going to give up on making my fledgling business work. No way, no how.

If you read the blog series linked above, you’ll know I eventually worked my way through this exasperating conundrum by figuring out who my target audience and ideal customers were and what they wanted; determining my unique selling proposition (otherwise known as a USP, or what I prefer to call your “meaningful difference”); and using that information in all my content, copy, marketing, and social media, etc., to attract and make an emotional connection with my right people.

Once I did that, things started to improve. Bigly. I got more client inquiries. My email list started to grow. I started getting booked out with projects I loved working on, with clients I loved working with. I started earning more.

To be clear, the process of determining and implementing a marketing message that attracted the right audience took time. Things improved when I got clear on who I wanted to serve and what they wanted, but there were still adjustments to make and ideas to tweak.

Still, I started to see better results almost immediately, which gave me the motivation to keep going. And that was huge for me. It’s what kept me from giving up.  

That’s how it is in business – as you learn more about your ideal audience, you fine tune. Then learn more, fine tune more. Even now, several years in, I’m still fine tuning my understanding of my audience and how to best serve them, and adjusting my messaging, my marketing, and my offers accordingly.

What You Can Do Next

Whatever stage of business you’re in right now – just getting started, three years in, exhausted and ready to give up, or digging in your heels and declaring, “I’m going to make this work!” –  it’s always a good time to take a long, hard look at your audience and your messaging, and ask, “Am I attracting the kind of clients I want to attract? Am I attracting enough of them? Is my message resonating with the right people in this saturated, overcrowded online space?”

And if not, do what I did. Determine who you want to serve, what they want/need/desire, and what makes you uniquely qualified to serve them, and use those insights in your content, copy, marketing, and everywhere else you interact with your audience, so you can begin to attract and make an emotional connection with your right people.

Imagine the possibilities when you do that.  It might just be what your business needs to turn the corner and start feeling joyful to work in again.

Just don’t give up too soon.


I have a guide that teaches you, step-by-step, how to create marketing messages that convert.  For less than a coffee date at Starbucks, you can grab your copy right over here