Copywriting Secrets for Converting More Customers with Ashlyn Writes Owner/CEO Ashlyn Carter (Transcript) | Gillian Perkins

Copywriting Secrets for Converting More Customers with Ashlyn Writes Owner/CEO Ashlyn Carter (Transcript)

In this episode, we’re talking with the brilliant copywriter and my good friend Ashlyn Carter

Ashlyn is a conversion copywriter and marketing strategist specializing in wedding & creative industries. She trains Fortune 500 clients in corporate marketing to bring in more than seven-figures. She has worked with creatives like Jenna Kutcher, Beth Kirby of Local Milk, Julie Solomon, Katelyn James, Hilary Rushford, Lara Casey/Cultivate What Matters. Her launch funnels have generated results for clients including upwards of $1M in revenue in a single week. She’s been a contributing educator with Creative Live, ConvertKit, and HoneyBook, and has been featured in Forbes, Southern Living, Style Me Pretty, and more.

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 16. Listen to the episode here.

Gillian:

Hey there everyone and welcome back to another episode. I hope you’re doing really well this week. I hope that you are being able to stay focused on your priorities and on your business and that you are being able to continue to make progress and not let yourself be distracted by anything that’s going on right now. Today’s episode is really special because I am bringing on a good friend of mine named Ashlyn Carter, who is a brilliant copywriter.

And the reason that I wanted to have Ashlyn on the show is because copywriting has such an incredible power to allow you to work less and earn more. If your website is converting better, if your website is convincing more people to join your email list, if your website is convincing more people to buy your product for you, then that means that you don’t have to be putting in the leg work to make each individual sale yourself, and that can allow you to take some time off and to let your website do the heavy lifting for you, so that you can keep making money even if you’re not in the office.

In this episode, you’ll be learning some copywriting secrets that will allow you to do exactly that. So with that being said, allow me to introduce Ashlyn Carter. Hey there Ashlyn, welcome to Work Less, Earn More. I’m so excited to have you on the show today and thank you for being here.

Ashlyn:

Absolutely. This is a message I can definitely get behind as I know we’re going to get into. So I’m so excited. Thank you.

Gillian:

Yeah, well, I am too. So could you start out by just telling the listeners a little bit about you and what you do?

Ashlyn:

Yes. My name is Ashlyn Carter. My business is Ashlyn Writes is based off my accent. I am here in Atlanta, Georgia. And what I do everyday, I am a copywriter and branding launch strategist. So we have an agency side of my business where we do “done for you” and “done with you” copywriting services.  Then, a curriculum side of all of this is based on the concept that I do not believe that creative women should have this fear of not knowing what to say or being unsure of their message. That should not be the thing that’s holding you back from making sales in your business, and done well, copywriting should be able to sell when you can’t and pull when you get some time off and get to rest. So that’s why I’m a big believer in conversion copy.

Gillian:

Yeah. And that’s actually exactly why I wanted to talk to you today because I know that copywriting can be so powerful and it can have such an impact on you making sales when you’re working or not. And if you don’t have the strongest copy, then you might need to be working all the time to try to sell one on one, maybe on a sales call or something like that. But if your website is very conversion focused, then you might be able to convert some people without even trying, right?

Ashlyn:

Bingo. You nailed it. I can’t say it any better. That’s it.

Gillian:

So before we get into how we can do this, how we can improve our copy to convert more people, I wanted to start with some really basic questions just so everyone knows exactly what we’re talking about here. So first of all, could you just tell us what copy or copy writing is.

Ashlyn:

Yes. And 100%, I used to get into the Rising Tide Society Facebook group (this is my four year anniversary business week, so four years ago )and I would get in the group and I’d be like, hey guys, and you’re like, does anyone need me help with their copywriting? Like what questions do you have? Here to help. And people would be like, thanks, I already have a lawyer, pats on head and I was like, wow, I’ve got some education to do over here.:

So if you’re thinking is copywriting legal, it’s not that copywriting with a W. I described it as the art and the science of marketing words that lead to conversion. Also, there is a difference in content writing and copywriting, there is bleed to them. To them they absolutely overlap but I’m specifically talking about the words that are actually helping me make sales. So the words on your sales pages, in your email funnels, on your ads, on your website itself.

Gillian:

Yeah. I really appreciate you just breaking that down because I didn’t really think, this would be a legal thing. I just didn’t know it was a thing at all.

Ashlyn:

Absolutely.

Gillian:

Just a few years ago, I just thought, this is writing, and I thought, we have to write ads, we have to write our website, and then I heard people talk about copywriting, I just said, what Is that? I had no idea.

Ashlyn:

I was a journalism major and worked at a marketing agency. I was there for, I think I was a good two weeks, and I’m predominantly working on the Delta Airlines account and I realized when my boss was saying she needed the copy and the imagery deliverables. Again, I was like, I had to hear it a few times before being like, by copy she means the words. But it was like a minute for me to think it, especially when you’re newer to marketing it takes a minute, but that’s what it is.

Gillian:

Yeah. So really simply copy is the words. When we’re talking about copywriting, we’re talking about writing the words that are going to be selling your stuff. And in this case we’re talking about selling it online, but there’s all sorts of other copywriting too.

Ashlyn:

Absolutely.

Gillian:

Okay. So now that we know what copywriting is, can you tell us a little bit about why copywriting matters and what copywriting can do for us?

Ashlyn:

Yeah. I think it was yesterday, I love looking at data. For someone who hated math growing up, I sure have come into my own, I was doing some studies and saw that 5.9% of people will read the copy on a website page predominantly, that’s so small. But that correlates with the fact that pretty much 90% of the information that’s communicated to us is done so visually and the other 10% is with the message. And I do get asked a lot, do people still read copy? Yes, they don’t read boring copy, but they will read copy and if you can give them a reason to pay attention and to listen, they’ll read it.:

It’s important because so much can be communicated through your visuals, but it’s that part that gets them across that touchdown line. It actually gets them to pull out their card and to trust you in a really vulnerable state. You can window shop all day long, but when you’re actually pulling out your card, your palms are a little sweaty. If it’s a big number for you, that’s your honorable moment. It’s not going to be images that are going to be sealing that deal for you, at that point it’s going to be the copy that’s coaching and putting someone at ease and making them feel comfortable, letting them know that their fears, their desires, their expectations, all of that is on the line and understood. That’s when they’ll trust you with their money. And so that’s why it’s so important imagery and gets you really far, but it doesn’t seal the deal.

Gillian:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. So I would say maybe that the imagery could start that emotional desire for the product, but then your copy is where you’re really going to close, is where you’re going to give them justification for that thing that they feel like they want, but it’s going to make it so they feel like there’s a reason why they should pay the money for it.

Ashlyn:

Yes. So good. And you’ve worked in the medium of video for so long, it’s so similar. It’s the structure of the script, it’s how you’re pulling them through when the hook comes in and when you’re asking them to take action- the architecture. I think that’s another thing. The copywriting is the architecture of the message. I think it was John Caples (he’s a late great copywriter) who said that it’s approached with this same effort as building a bridge. It is assembly, it is bridge-building. Writing is almost a misnomer, you’re not just looking at the blinking cursor thinking, what I feel about this today?:

You’re really assembling a message and putting it together much like you would do a script. So yeah, but those visuals. I remember when I hired my first art director to work with us on a project and she looked at my website, she was like Ashlyn, your visuals do not correlate with the copy, it doesn’t. And I was like swallowing the medicine there, but she was right. That’s helped me learn this process as well over time.

Gillian:

Yeah, that makes sense. So one thing that I noticed when I started really working on my copy, it was that not only did it help me to convert more customers, but it also helped me to get so much more confident in my message and to just get clear on what I was even talking about, how I was helping people. And that helped me to advance my business forward aside from just closing those sales. It helped me to grow my audience and to connect better with them. Is that a change that you often see with people who you work with? Do you change their copy?

Ashlyn:

I couldn’t have primed you better for that. That’s exactly it. We hear as we grow and start our businesses, especially when you talk about your time and your productivity, if you’re not good at it, outsource it. And that is true in a lot of different aspects. But there’s a few things in business you’ve got to learn how to do yourself. I was not good at the finances at first in my business, I was terrified it would all go away so I just never paid myself and I just let that money stack up. I at some point had to figure out what my profit is, what my revenue is, what my overhead is like. I can’t outsource that. I have to learn that. And it’s the same way with your message.:

You can’t just throw it away to somebody else to do if you don’t understand it yourself, if you’re not clear on what you’re trying to say there. There’s nuances there but you can’t outsource the psychology of selling by throwing the copy at somebody else. Even if you can’t put it in words, understand who your niche is, what you’re trying to do with them, really what your unique value proposition is, if you need to work with a copywriter to figure that out.:

We put a lot of students inside a program to figure that out because copy can be expensive and that shouldn’t be what’s holding you back, like I said at the top of the show. So yes, what you said, that’s something that I love to see our clients walk away with, our students walk away with. It’s like anytime I work with a vendor on visual stuff because that’s where I’m just not comfortable with it. I get more clarity on how I want to define this visually after I work with them.:

So yeah, you nailed it. I tell them this data, if you can’t tell me why you do what you do differently or better than somebody that does the same thing and charges less, we have a problem because you had to figure that out.

Gillian:

Okay. So my next question for you Ashlyn is, can change in your copy allow you to work less or earn more? If so, how?

Ashlyn:

Yeah. I think 100% yeah. If the caveat being the offer is dialed in and people want the offer, good copy can’t be, my mother-in-law always says, “like slapping lipstick on a pig”. Good copy can’t fix a really bad product. But if there is an audience that’s waiting for a product, yeah. And they have said that they will pay for it, yes, copy can be one of these things that works when you can’t. You can take people through a customer journey, especially now that we have the added assets of being able to pull them through a journey from a Facebook ad, not even knowing about you all the way through to a cart page, a checkout page, a thank you page, a nurture sequence, so on and so forth.

There’s so much automation that can go into play, but at its very basic, like you said earlier, it’s that services page that really fully explains what you do in your coaching or consulting business, home organizing business, whatever it is, explains the value of that, helps someone understand the value proposition and then you’re also giving all those testimonials, that social proof along the way, that page can be booking for you. As long as you’re directing traffic there, right? That’s the part that comes into place. You do need to be able to get some traffic there. Copy can’t just suddenly make a lot of people lean on your page if you can’t drive it there, but it should be able to up the conversion rate of the page.

Gillian:

Yeah, that makes sense. And even beyond that, talking about what I was saying before about how when I clarified my copy and when I improved my copy, it gave me a lot more confidence in what I was sharing. I think it made my message a lot more impactful. So it actually helped me to grow my audience and to increase my website traffic a whole lot, even though the words on the website weren’t themselves doing that. But the process of writing those words allowed me to get that traffic and then the words on the website actually converted the customers.

Ashlyn:

That’s awesome. Yeah. There’s a mental shift that goes on and you get this clarity to understand how to say what you do. I don’t want people listening to feel like, I’m just not a good writer, I could not do that for myself. Do you know the hardest client I ever write for is myself. It’s always going to be the hardest for you to write your own writing, and then and then to put the icing on the cake, your homepage is going to be one of your hardest pages that you write just because that’s the least segmented page of the entire, again, to use the word funnel, everybody’s coming there no matter what product or service is a fit for them. And where do we usually start writing our own business copy? We start on our homepage and we start writing for ourselves. So no wonder we don’t always feel like we’re great at this.

Gillian:

That makes so much sense. Okay, well let’s get into talking about some specific ways that our listeners can improve their website copies so they can start attracting more of the right customers and increasing their conversions.

Ashlyn:

Perfect. I’m telling you, you stick a quarter in me and I get really excited about this stuff. Okay. The first thing that I wrote down and I got five little points here, is to focus on your headlines, in your sub headlines. Earlier I said something to the effect of: they don’t read boring copy, right? So what’s going on especially as we see long form sales pages, which are essentially sales letters, that’s an old director spots type of advertising. Those have now come into play on websites.

They’ve also come into play with videos, sales letters that people will create, right? So this long explanation of why you should buy something. Typically the longer that is, the bigger either the price point is or the more that somebody has to move through that customer journey.

These things I pretty much average around 5,000 words on them, they are long. Your headlines and your sub headlines are important. There’s a David Ogilvy quote that if you’re in online marketing for at least three years you hear, but it’s the eight out of 10 people who will read your headline, two out of 10 people will continue reading. I don’t know if the actual statistics are true, but a lot of that is absolutely true. If the headline doesn’t hook people in the mouth and get them to keep reading, they’re going to skip it.

One quick fix you could make on your website is go through and look at those headlines and 50% of the time that I’m on a project on the headlines trying different versions. I will write 50 plus different headlines, especially if it’s a big launch project for a client, of one headline until I hit it.

I think it’s Anne Lamott who said you have to write your, how do I say it? It starts with a S, I don’t want to say the word. But you have to write your terrible, put it that way, first draft before you get to your goal. You have to just sit down and write and write and write, and that’s where you’ll get to. And that’s so true. So that’s my first tip. Focus on these headlines. 

My other tip on headlines is to use templates. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Don’t do it from scratch. You can Google headline templates. There are plenty of blogs that come up. I have a blog about this, we can link it, there are tools out there for you. Do not start from scratch, do not put all of the onus of this on your shoulders to come up with because you can absolutely use some tools that are already out there, but that’s not deriving this first tip. Just focus on those headlines.

When I land on an about page and it says me and Ashlyn, I’m like, man, that was some really good real estate and they got wasted. You might as well put something out there that’s going to catch their eye and really hook them and keep them excited to continue reading.

Gillian:

Yeah, that makes sense. So we’ll definitely get that blog post with those headline templates linked in the show notes. So if anyone is interested in that, then just to make sure that you check out the show notes for this episode. And what I love about those templates is that it really gives you a great starting place so that you aren’t just faced with that blinking cursor trying to start from scratch. You don’t know where to begin. And it can be really intimidating and overwhelming on a subconscious level just stressful. But if you start with a template and you just plug in your words into the template and that gives you a jumping off point that can make coming up with your own unique headline so much easier.

Ashlyn:

Exactly. Yeah. It’s not quite a paint by number, but if you use it the right way and just let it get your creative juices ignited, it can take really far.

Gillian:

Yeah. So to sum all that up, what working on rewriting our headlines can do for us is to get more people to read more of our copies. Really hook people so that more of the traffic that lands on a page of your website actually gets the message from that page instead of just clicking off to something else. Would you say that’s accurate?

Ashlyn:

That’s it. Your headline has one job, and that’s to get them to read the next sentence. So go through and make sure that your headlines do that.

Gillian:

Okay. Well that is a fantastic tip and I think a great starting place for anyone because we’ve all got those headlines on our website and maybe they’re not that intentional right now. So they might not be pulling people in and we can all work on improving those. So great first tip, what’s your next tip Ashlyn?

Ashlyn:

Okay. Next tip is don’t die on the hill of “but it doesn’t sound like me.” And I love brand voice, I have a whole quiz about brand voice, I love talking about brand voice, but at the end of the day, your conversion copy is this Venn diagram overlap of what your audience needs to hear from you and also what you sound like. So especially the more, I don’t want to say salesy, but for Facebook ad copy for example, we have an agency that we partner with and we provide a lot of face copy and we’ve laughed before because sometimes the business owner will look at some of the copy and they’re like, I don’t say things like sign up now, things like that. Okay, true but at some point you need to be leveraging some of these techniques in these tried and true practices that are out there.

So this is more I guess mindset, state money, but I don’t want people out there to be so married to the concept of brand voice that they negate the fact that people at some point need to be told what to do. But they also need to see themselves reflected in your copy. I have a 14 month old and I am learning very terribly about parenting. I feel like every day I’m like, what in the world? I had no idea. But one thing that I have learned recently is sometimes when he’s super sad, he doesn’t want me to bounce up in his face and be like, duh, come on, get happy, it’s okay. Sometimes he’s just looking at me, he needs to know I understand him even though we can’t communicate with words yet.

So sometimes the best thing that I can do is mirror back like, hey buddy, I see you’re frustrated. That’s what he wants for me. And not to compare our clients and customers to a 14 month old. But that’s what we want as buyers too. We just want sometimes a brand or a business to look at us and be like, hey, I get it, that is frustrating, you seem really frustrated about that. And the best way that you can do that sometimes is just mirroring their words right back at them. And so never get so hung up on the fact that, I don’t say it just like that. The best example of this I’ve ever heard is my, she’s now my business attorney, but Christina Scalera helps out with the legal side of my business and she for a long time had included in her copy, legalize your creative biz.

And she was like, if my fellow law school grads saw me saying legalize, they would laugh so hard. Because it’s not a word and it’s not something they would say. But every meetup she would go to, she would hear these creative entrepreneurs saying, I just can’t figure out how to legalize things. And she realized that that’s one of those voice of customer things that she couldn’t just be like, you know what guys, pats on head. That’s not how you say it. That’s not respectful to the customer at all. So that’s maybe a little more tangible example of what I mean with this.

Gillian:

Yeah, that is such a good example. So what this immediately makes me think of is if you’re having a conversation with someone and they’re telling you maybe about a situation in their life or about how they feel about something, it would not really make sense for you to respond and just say all the things that you normally say. You need to say back to them. Okay, so what I hear you saying is, yada yada yada. And show them that you understand where they’re at and use the same words that they use so that they know that you are really listening. And from there you could then work on maybe talking to them about maybe some ideas you have for how they could solve their problem or something like that, but you really have to start where they’re at.

Ashlyn:

That’s so perfect. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. To bring it home for you, if you have an inquiry response template, go check that out right now because if you are not baking in a little bracketed part that says replace this copy with repeating their problem back to them or something to that effect, go do it after you listen to this show because they want to see themselves mirrored back in exactly like you said. If you’re jumping right in with how you can be the hero and rescue them from this problem, you’re not giving them an opportunity to help understand it. They should trust you because you get it. You totally hear their thoughts on this.

Gillian:

Okay, so let me ask you a question. This’ll be a little bit of a rabbit trail, but I get asked this question all the time, so I would love to hear what your answer for it is. When you tell people who are working on writing their copy or working on their message that they need to use the words of their audience, a lot of the time they come back and they say, well I don’t have an audience yet or my audience isn’t saying anything to me yet, I’m just starting out. How do I write my copy when I’m just starting out and I don’t have anyone to talk to yet?

Ashlyn:

That’s so good. Okay. This leads into my next tip. Is it okay if I talk about that a little?

Gillian:

Yeah, go ahead.

Ashlyn:

Okay. So surveying is so important and even if you haven’t quite figured out what you’re going to do, do it anyway. And I can say this from experience of putting on a survey when I had no idea what to do and it just helped me. First of all, I started to understand the concept of putting out a survey, asking questions of people and just like that. Because that’s just a business practice of listening to your audience all of the time. It was like rip it off that bandaid real early, getting used to that. That was something that I needed to do. It also helps me understand and do I guess the fancy Shark Tank word for it would be research and development like R&D.

It helps you get starting to listen to where could the blue ocean be so to speak, where it could be that Ashlyn’s size gap in all of this where I can step in with my skillset and my passions and my interests and come into this. So if you don’t know who your audience is or if you have a basic vague idea survey anyway, and I promise it will help like that. That narrowed so much for me. I remember putting a survey out there, I had no idea what direction I wanted to take in my business. I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t know resumes, pitches, websites, magazine articles, I had no idea. And the more that I asked and realized what people were asking for, I started to shape my services and figure out where this would fall.

I hear you, I felt like that too. Another answer would be to look in different forums and Facebook groups and Amazon reviews to see, which I do all the time too. But there’s nothing like actually listening to people or going to a meetup to sit and listen. Just sit and listen to the ones that you may be interested in. I guarantee you’re going to hear, start to see where that size gap in the market is that you could step into.

Gillian:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So if you don’t have an audience, if you don’t have a following yet, then you really just need to decide, make a preliminary decision about who maybe you want to serve and then go find those people who are in other people’s audiences or who are in groups or at meetups and listen to them there. Even if they’re not talking to you, their words would still be relevant, right?

Ashlyn:

Yeah. That’s it. I remember I put that survey out to just like my reg. I didn’t have an Instagram photo, I didn’t have a Facebook page, I had nothing. But I put it out to just my regular friends because I knew I wanted to serve women and I was like, well, I got that narrowed down. And I think another thing too, people are excited to share. People like to give their opinions, I have found. But if there is somebody out there who you think would be a dream client to work with, talk to them, see if you can… And I’ll get referred sometimes by people. I don’t know, that that’s an option too. If they’re not in your immediate network, if someone can connect you to them and you can do a basic interview, that can be helpful as well.

Gillian:

Yeah, that makes sense. I think that it’s so important and something that so many people who are just starting out in their business skip over because they think I’m not qualified yet enough or I don’t have enough experience yet. But pursuing clients that you want to work with, these aren’t necessarily the biggest names in your industry, but meet people in your industry, find people who you want to work with and then pursue them, court them or if nothing else, just talk to them. Start there.

Ashlyn:

I love that. Yeah. Everyone feels like that starting out. I don’t know anybody who has it. I’m sure there’s a unicorn out there, but I didn’t, most of my friends and masterminds didn’t. So it becomes… You just throw spaghetti at the wall and it starts to take shape, but it can’t until that ball starts rolling down the hill and you push it a little bit, it’s going to stay stuck. So even just taking some action can help.

Gillian:

And then to tie that back into the main topic of what we’re talking about today is, which is copywriting. The reason it’s good to go out and pursue those clients or get out and meet people is so that you can start to get to know your target customers. So that you can better write your website copy, so that you can convert more potential customers that are maybe just stumbling upon your website.

Ashlyn:

Exactly. You’re very good at tying this up with a very pretty internet though. That’s a yes. That’s how the whole thing starts to correlate, take place and shift altogether.

Gillian:

Yeah. Okay. Well those are some awesome tips so far. Let’s keep going. What is your next tip for how we can work on converting more of our website visitors?

Ashlyn:

Okay. My tip number four is, and I may have to explain this, but if you’re familiar with a carousel on a website, I actually pulled a you, and I did my YouTube lately and I mentioned this in it. Because I was working on, let me back up and tell the background story for this. So I was working on optimizing a client’s sales page that’s out there. She’s got a pretty large audience. I think the email list is around 60,000 and she’s got 100,000 followers on Instagram, a pretty large brand. I want to say that because the next number I’m going to say, this funnel has in the past leveraged that to, I know when she told me they hit $35,000 on that, it’s a bought a $300 product. So it’s doing great but we’re just going to optimize it.

Let’s look at it, let’s see what’s going on here. And what I did, I installed some heat maps on our website and I was looking at that and finding that when it came to the actual curriculum that was inside the program. That could be maybe the actual bits of what are inside the service that you provide to people if you don’t have a digital product or anything like that. So when we’re looking at that, they were built on a carousel, so multiple slides on one canvas of the website and you would click that next button and they would slide and they would slide and they would slide.

So I hope if you’re listening to this, you have felt through the internet my hand motions deciding that. But that’s what a carousel is. And so what I found is when I was looking at this sales page for her, down at that section, 10% of the traffic to that page was clicking to the next slide, slide number two. 10% of that traffic was clicking through to the end the seventh. That is like nobody, right? That’s so minimal.

My tip here is to quit using carousels or use them in a sense where you understand the user experience is by and large not going to click through to the end. So if you’ve got pertinent information to get in front of them, don’t bake it behind other slides. I think they work really well for portfolio work, three to four testimonials. But people are so, I don’t know, it’s like there’s a fear of making a page long. We at this age have been on, what is it called? The never ending feed, I don’t know what it’s called on social media.

Remember back in the dark ages of four to five years ago, you used to get to the bottom of your Instagram or your Pinterest and it would be like “you’re all caught up”. I think that hasn’t happened for a long time. People are comfortable scrolling. Right now as we’re recording this, Marie Forleo’s B school is open. So go look at her testimonials page. It is so long. It is so long, I was on it for three minutes and I looked over my cursor, it was barely a third way down. I scrolled all of it, but it took me being on that page for, I really think it was three minutes before I even was like, hey, I’ve been here for a minute.

As long as the information is engaging, they’ll scroll and it’s probably going to be engaging when you’re talking about what they’re going to get in your curriculum or in a one-on-one service. So please don’t hide that behind something where they may miss it. Put it right in front of their nose so they can read it and get excited.

Gillian:

Yeah. So I’m hearing two tips in one here. The first tip is that you need to decide what you want to say to people. Don’t let them decide. So we don’t want to give them a whole, what do you call that? A collage, what do you call that? We don’t want to give them a whole gallery of options and let them pick the flavor. We want to define their path. So that’s the first thing I’m hearing is like, don’t be wishy washy about this, don’t let them choose their own adventure, tell them what they need to know. You need to stand up and make a decision about that.

Ashlyn:

That’s so good, yes.

Gillian:

And then the second thing I’m hearing is, don’t be afraid of long sales pages. If you’ve got a lot to say, then just put it out there and they will scroll down and read it. Don’t let them again, choose their own adventure and maybe get through it or maybe not.

Ashlyn:

So good. Again, you’re a great synthesizer. You get to guide their experience. That’s such an incredible leadership position. So do that well and just like we were talking about in tip number one, if your headlines and your sub headlines are actually helping them understand, hey, this section’s about X, Y, Z, then they know whether to stop or not. But if your headlines and sub-headlines suck, they don’t know. And so they’re going to get frustrated with being on that page too long because they can’t find what they’re actually looking for.

Gillian:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And if anyone’s wondering what headlines that suck look like. Well, they’re headlines that are boring, headlines that people don’t understand or don’t relate to. You don’t have to worry too much about being the most amazing copywriter or being super eloquent or super convincing to people. Just say to them what will be interesting to them and that will get them to keep reading.

Ashlyn:

Oh my gosh, that’s so good. I’ve been in a few copywriting groups for a long time now online and I’m talking like huge Facebook groups. And it never ends, but somebody will post in there something like, can you believe this terrible Facebook ad copy? And I don’t know, I always just want to be like, listen, especially if you can tell it’s been running for a while, maybe the number of engagements or whatever. You just got to be like, there’s no such thing as best practices, they’re pooled ignorance if they don’t work on the audience.

So if something looks “bad,” but it works on your audience, you actually see that it works. If they told you they want to hear that, they react to that, they respond to that, then do it. Don’t worry about, yeah. Every time I see something like that, I’m like, listen, we don’t know the numbers. They’re running that for a reason. It must be that somebody liking it.

Gillian:

Yeah, that totally makes sense.

Ashlyn:

Yes.

Gillian:

Okay. So let’s go back to something you said a little bit earlier when you were talking about that last tip and you’re talking about the carousels. You said that you installed a heat map on your client’s website and that was what allowed you to figure out this problem that was with her copy. So tell us a little bit about heat maps and how maybe they could help us improve our copy.

Ashlyn:

Absolutely. I’m probably going to sound like a walking infomercial for Hotjar here, but I love this tool. I’ve used it for three years now in my business. You can install and do a lot with it for free. So just go to hotjar.com, and they have some great tutorials on there too. I have one on my YouTube channel. I should probably make some more because I just am fascinated by it. Basically you hook up and you tell it which URL to crawl and then after some data collects in there and aggregates, I think it’s up to a thousand hits for free or something like that.

So once that traffic lands there, it will then show you on the back end of it where people are clicking. So you can start to understand everybody thinks this is a button, it’s not a button. Maybe I should do something about that. You can also look in your Google analytics to see where people are going through their user journey. But it will tell you real quickly, look at a heat map and that glowing red about page when it’s really cool over on hot and cold colors on an area that nobody’s really checking out, that can be so interesting to know. It’ll tell you how many clicks that’ll get. It can also show you where people start to get cold scrolling on the page. So I recommend and I learned this the hard way on my website.

I had a lot of solid call to actions our shop, of copywriting templates that do really well. I had that buried on my homepage. And what I realized is that people, it was cold on that section of the page. People were finding exactly what they needed earlier up on the page and bouncing, they were going to that next page. I wanted to push that up sooner so there would be more likelihood that they would see it and bounce there. So those are some things that you can learn from a tool like a heat map. There’s other ones out there, but Hotjar is just the one that I go back to and recommend to clients the most.

Gillian:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So talk to me like I’m a five for a moment and I know this will be a little bit backwards, but talk to me like a five and tell me what a heat map is.

Ashlyn:

Yes. Okay. So a heat map is a piece of data that you can look at for your website that shows you, if we think how hot that stove is, real hot, real red, and something that is icy blue is not going to be as popular. So what the heat map does is it color codes your website. So if you were to look, it’ll show you a picture of your website with an overlay of colors, like a rainbow on top of it. And you’re going to see those yellow, orange, red areas where people have been clicking and going crazy and then interested in. And then you’re going to start to see more cool colors on the pieces of your website that are not getting quite so much traction.

Gillian:

Okay. That is making so much sense. And these have been such good tips, but do you have one more bonus tip that you could share with us today?

Ashlyn:

Yes, I have one more tip. So my last tip is about niching. We all hear about niching all the time. I remember exactly where I was in Atlanta starting my business. I was hanging right on Piedmont Drive in Atlanta when I was listening to some business podcast news talking about niching. And I just remember thinking pats on head, bless his heart, I’m going to make all the money writing all the things for all the people and I thought I can do that.

And it went okayish, but the more that I niche down and narrowed my message to speak to a very small segment of people, the more money we made. And I think that people are, especially the newer you are in your business. And I get it, it sounds counterintuitive. I went kicking and screaming and to just saying I did copywriting. I think that’s why I held onto calligraphy so long because I was just terrified to trust that it was there.

There is some quote out there that I heard, but if you think about how many people are on the internet, there’s going to be a pretty large, sizable group of people that have the same need that you can solve. These people are out there, that’s the beauty of online business and not always having to be so locally based with your footprint. As it correlates with copywriting, it is so impactful. This is a really nerdy hobby, but I love reading old sales letters from the ’80s. And so I was reading this sales letter from this copywriter and the niche of the audience was this, he was like, “Hey golfers, who want to knock at least 10 swings off their golf game?” That’s niche, that’s what I’m talking about.

When you can say to a group of people, hey, if you are so and so and so and so keep reading, that’s what I’m talking about. So sometimes I think we tiptoe around it or we’re just afraid to go out there. But I just can’t say enough from a copywriting standpoint how I pretty much don’t have a case study that shows the opposite to be true. Everything I’ve ever worked on, the more dialed in we get, the more, I don’t know, the more it leverages. I will say on the opposite side of that, I think it’s Sonny Benudiz that says that niche down to blow up things.

I’m going to say that, and I don’t want to take ownership for that phrase, but if you are multi-passionate or want to go in multiple directions, that’s fine, but get that. First you got to hook the market with one thing and then start adding on. When we look at a lot of these brands that are big and have big audiences, a lot of times they started doing one or two things, mastering those, getting an audience, getting buy in, and then they started adding and now they have these empires that we look at. But that’s just I think to the noisier. I think 30% of the economy in the US is going to be freelancers by 2021 so at least I’m pretty sure that’s the statistic, it may be 33%. But yeah, there’s going to be more and more of us out here, which is awesome. But that means you really need to make clear who you’re for and who you’re not for.

Gillian:

That makes so much sense. So basically we shouldn’t be afraid of competition because it’s going to be there whether we’re scared of it or not. But as competition grows, so does the potential customer base grow. So we might as well focus and specialize so that we can more strongly appeal to a segment of the potential customers instead of weekly appealing to a lot of them and not actually converting any of them.

Ashlyn:

Yes. Beautifully said. Yeah. Why not, go ahead and have that opinion and be the go to girl for a smaller group of people rather than the maybe I’ll go to her golf for a larger group of people.

Gillian:

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I think that when you’re first starting out with your business and you’re just trying to get some traction, whether you have a real mindset issue or not, it’s so difficult to be willing to take the risk if you will, of saying no to so many people with your website copy. Not that you’re actually turning down science necessarily, but writing copy and marketing to a specific audience because you feel like you want any work that you can get. You’re willing to take any customer you can get, but you really are going to convert so many more people if you get more specific so that you are a big year for a small number of people.

Ashlyn:

Yes. That’s so good. I love how you reminded us. You can take off work that take onward and that’s outside of your scope. I did that for a little while but I was very careful to put on my website the people, like attracts like. So I’m going to put more out there of what I’m actually wanting to do and eventually that snowball will start rolling.

Gillian:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Okay. So to wrap this all up, I’ve got a few non copywriting questions for you, Ashlyn, but thank you so much for all of the copywriting wisdom that you have shared with us because I know that what you’re talking about here really can, well just as the title of the show is, allow us to work less and earn more because it will make our websites be able to convert more of our potential customers into paying customers for us. So thank you so much for that wisdom.

Ashlyn:

Absolutely.

Gillian:

So for these wrap up questions, my first one is what is the number one thing that you’ve done in the recent past to earn more or allow yourself to work less?

Ashlyn:

Oh my gosh. So good. Lately hiring, and it is to a point, I’m in this messy middle place of my business right now, getting real vulnerable here. But I’m in a place where I need to make sure that this year I hit a certain number and revenue. You grow and you grow and you grow and then you get to a point where we plateaued for a little while. And it’s because I was so involved in the client work that I can’t grow the business any other way because I’m so in the weeds.

And so at some point the scales have to tip a little bit, right? So the decision was bringing on a few more specialists in different areas from Pinterest to Infusionsoft, getting some of our funnel setup in there. Hiring that on an integrator, that felt so scary and it still does if I could just be honest. But I know that those are the investments that are helping me free up more time so I can start implementing some things that I’ve been talking… I’ve been a big talk about some things for a while, but now I can implement them because it’s so important for me now to figure out how to step away from work and go be with my little baby.

Gillian:

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And it sounds like is a really good longterm strategic decision that you’re making, even if right now it might not be allowing you to work less or earn more, you’re being smart about the future of your business and maybe putting a little bit of extra work right now onboarding those people and really managing those people probably.

Ashlyn:

Yes, definitely. You said it, it’s playing the long game.

Gillian:

Okay. My next wrap up question for you is, do you have a favorite productivity tip or a tool that you can share with our listeners?

Ashlyn:

Oh my gosh. I love all things productivity. I have an app too, but I have this little square. You could probably search on Amazon, square timer, that I use all the time. My battery and that died recently and so I’ve gone back to using Focus Keeper on my phone. Do you ever use that app?

Gillian:

Well tell me about it. No, I don’t use that app, but I use something that maybe is like it.

Ashlyn:

Probably similar. I’m sure there’s many other tools like this. It runs on Pomodoro sprints. So the concept of 25 on, five minutes off, 25 on, five off, 25 on, five off, 25 on, five off break. The concept is if you can run two of those a day, you can tackle a lot of work. So that that is a big tool I use because it’s like that War of Art book, Steven Pressfield talks [crosstalk 00:47:01].

I should probably read that once a year, but that resistance that we get, when I sit down and I don’t want to work. I don’t know, it’s not laziness. Well, maybe it is some, but it’s more just maybe fear or inadequacy feeling and if I could just set a timer that’s like, you know what? For 25 minutes I’m going to this, I’m not going to get up to eat snacks, I’m not going to get up to go cuddle with my dog, I’m not going to look at text messages, I’m just going to do this one thing. That is a game changer for me. I use it at least once a day on at least one task. I am borderline addicted to it.

Gillian:

Yeah, you can do anything for 25 minutes. And just simply deciding to focus on something for a period of time so that you know there’s going to be an end and committing that you’re not going to do anything else. Like you were saying, not go get a snack, not go snuggle with the dog, it makes such a big difference in your productivity. So I love that tip. What did you say that that tool is called?

Ashlyn:

Focus Keeper app. I can’t remember now if it’s free or not. I’ve had it on my phone for probably two and a half, three years now, so I don’t even know. If it was an investment, it was a really good one.

Gillian:

Yeah. Well I’m sure if it isn’t free, I know there are other like Pomodoro apps out there that do similar things. So if anyone doesn’t know about Pomodoro technique, that is such a good tip for becoming more productive.

Ashlyn:

Yes.

Gillian:

Okay. And finally, if our listeners want to find out more about you and learn more about copywriting, where is the best place for them to do that?

Ashlyn:

Yes. I will be so honored. Ashlyn Writes is my website. I have a YouTube channel too. It’s nothing like yours but it’s been so fun. I just feel really strongly in, I don’t know. I love making content. It helps keep me accountable that I built my business on, probably something I shouldn’t admit on podcasts, but downloading some things at the office and sometimes printing them out and then taking them home and working on them. So that stuff really helped me figure out what I wanted to do. So hopefully my website can be a resource for people for that now. And I like Instagram too. All the links are on Ashlyn Writes.

Gillian:

Yeah. And we’ll include those links in the show notes as well. And I just want to give you a shout out that I love your blog, you have such good copywriting tips on your blogs. If anyone wants to learn more about copywriting then do go check out ashlynwrites.com, that’s right, right?

Ashlyn:

Yeah, that’s it. Thank you.

Gillian:

Awesome. Okay, well thank you so much Ashlyn for taking the time to be here on the show today and for everything that you’ve shared with the listeners about conversion copywriting.

Ashlyn:

Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me on. This is fun.

    Sean McMullin

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