Professional freelance copywriter Jacob McMillen on the basics of copywriting, his writing process, and the freelance hustle.
Jacob has been a freelance copywriter for the past 8 years and makes about 20K a month from his freelancing work. He has spent the last 15 months building an education company that provides the best freelance copywriting training online, both free and paid. He also helps established writers grow their freelancing businesses through his group "Write Minds". You can check out his website to access all his content, including "The Internet's Best Copywriting Course". Some topics we cover in this episode are...
- Pitching, Sales, and the Hustle
- Writing Process
- Intro to Copywriting
- Long Form versus Short Form Writing
- Choosing Frameworks
[00:43] Jacob’s Background
[05:52] Jacob’s Copywriting Beginnings
[08:50] First Freelance Writing Gigs
[13:30] Pitching, Sales and the Hustle
[18:55] Writing Process
[25:05] Long Form versus Short Form Writing
[29:50] Writing Structure
[34:30] Value of Repetition
[37:18] Basics of Copywriting
[43:56] Choosing Frameworks
Where you can find Jacob McMillen:
References/terminology throughout the episode:
When I graduated, there was kind of this, this drive to like have control of my own destiny, so to speak. And so that led me into the online marketing world. It kinda made me really gravitate towards online business and this sort of Wild West that was there.
And so, that process of like taking something that was a negative and sort of spinning into a positive, was my first interaction with sort of copywriting, even though at the time, I didn't know that's what it was called.
Cool. Well, thank you so much for coming on Jacob. Yeah. Thanks for having me.
[00:43] Jacob’s Background
Yeah, totally. And, um, yeah, we're talking in the beginning about your background, maybe let's start with, you know, some of the struggles you faced in your life and then how, you know, it led you to copywriting sort of like a little bit of your backstory and where at, with copywriting right now.
Sure. Yeah. Um, I think, I think one of the big things when I was approaching, coming into a new career, um, the big thing I wanted to avoid was having like my career fate in someone else's hands, other than my own. Um, I like my. I watched my dad through most of his career, kind of get, uh, screwed over by boss, after boss, you know, like the whole thing.
And he was always like, you know, talking about these various negative scenarios that were happening and kind of was always like, well, why are you putting up with that shit? Like, for me, it was like, like I, like, I just never really understood, like, okay, well, why wouldn't you get into a situation where.
You're not at so-and-so, you know, like, cause it'd be an ongoing saga. Like there'd be this one person at each consecutive company that would just be an asshole for like years and years. And I'd always be hearing about this and I'd always just be thinking like, shoot, like I don't want to be in that situation.
So when I was, I was gradual, you know, w when I was graduating college, it was like 2000. And 12. Um, so, you know, starting earlier on while I was at school, we had the 2009 crash and I'm watching like all these people losing their, you know, 30, 35 year jobs, losing their 401ks and savings and all this jazz and just looking at and going man, like.
I do not want to go the route of being at a company where I'm under someone else's control for 30 years, and then I lose my savings because people are screwing around on wall street, you know, like, so it was just sort of like when I graduated, there's kind of this, this drive to like have control of my own destiny, so to speak.
And so that led me into the online marketing world, um, and kind of made me really gravitate towards online business and this sort of. Wild West that was there where you can kind of do whatever you want. And it's literally as simple as if you can find someone to pay you for something, you go and sell it to them.
You know, um, especially when we talk about services. And so for me, one of the first, the, really the first set of services I came across that made a lot of sense to me was copywriting and writing. Um, and I'd always been naturally talented at writing. Um, I never really thought of it as a desired career. Um, it was just sort of, you know, something you did in literature class.
Uh, but, um, but once I kind of connected it to sales and seeing how you're utilizing written communication to sell to people, um, it just really caught my interest and I knew pretty quickly, like this is what I want to do. Um, and I had paid my way through college, doing door to door sales, actually. Um, so I kinda, I had an idea of the sales process.
I knew that sales is a numbers game. I knew that it's a matter of, you know, putting in the work to get in front of new leads, you know, so you can close them and get clients. And so I took that approach into the freelance writing world, um, and pretty quickly was making really good money with it. And so at that point it was like, Hey, this is.
This is, uh, solving that core challenge of having, you know, my own, my destiny in my own hands. Um, and so from there, you know, it's just been kind of a matter of growth over the years and evolving, you know, your, your interests change over time. And that's the great thing about kind of building a personal brand and having your own businesses.
It's very easy to pivot and evolve in various directions. Try new things, tackle new challenges. Um, You know, after I kinda hit my initial income goal, I was kind of cruising for like two years working on a lot of the same stuff. And I wasn't really feeling stretched. I wasn't learning. I was just making good money, which is great.
But at a certain point it was like, I really want to push myself. So I started looking for, you know, new marketing challenges that I could apply writing to, um, And that took the form of like building a marketing agency and then realizing I didn't want to run a marketing agency. So building my own businesses, using content marketing and stuff like that.
Um, and then that kind of all leads to today where I do kind of a mix of, you know, I have some side businesses that are, you know, making money through content marketing. I have my copywriting training program, which goes through content marketing, and then I, you know, still take on. Uh, clients to do either writing or content strategy for them.
So it's just a, it's opened up a lot of doors and kind of that initial drive to just, you know, have my fate in my own hands has, you know, it, it, it's kind of driven me to where I am today.
[05:52] Jacob’s Copywriting Beginnings
Cool, cool, cool. Um, So you have this guide on your website, um, from making $15 per article to, uh, 15 K per month. Um, do you still remember your first ever copywriting?
Oh yeah. Yeah, for sure. So it was, it was actually the first day. Ever good friend of mine, um, who had an SEO, an SEO agency. Um, and he had me, he asked, he, like I told him, I, Kim, I've been doing this online writing stuff and he goes, and at the time it was, I was like just doing like a random blog. It was before I had really gotten into the business side of online.
Um, and he said, Hey, I'm, I'm needing to rewrite some hotel room descriptions for this company. Um, can you help me out? And it just ended up being a one-off project. Um, but I, like, I was going through the process of, of rewriting these room descriptions. And I was like, kind of just doing the thing where like they'd have these rooms, that the description was basically like, Saying, this is a shit room.
Thing was like, this is like a bare bones. Like, it was almost like, why would you get this room? And so I was thinking, I was like, I was like looking at the fact that it was the lowest price room. And I was like, well, how can we spin this into more of a positive? And I was like, It's, it's not a shit room.
It's the cheap bare bones room for people who just want to crash there for the night. You know, they're not looking, they're not looking for features. They're just looking for the cheapest option to crash for the night and get up and be gone. You know, like that's a selling point, you know, it's, it's cheaper than the other rooms for when you don't need these other features.
Uh, and so that process of like taking something that was a negative and sort of spinning into a positive was my first interaction with sort of copywriting, even though at the time, I didn't know that's what it was called. Um, and then also the connection with SEO led to me pitching an SEO agency on, on my first, what ended up being my first.
Contractor writing client. Um, and so that one little, you know, very, very simple, very low paid gig opened up kind of my approach that led to the ongoing career. Um, so yeah, I'll always remember that moment of like, Kind of like pivoting, pivoting the messaging and just like, I, I loved it. Like it got me so excited and I was like, Ooh, I like this feeling, you know, like, this is, this is kind of everything I liked about sales, but I'm not sitting in a room with someone it's like, you know, it's asynchronous.
And I really liked that, Oh, a hundred percent. A hundred percent. And then, um, did it sort of automatically take off and snowball from there or not at all?
[08:50] First Freelance Writing Gigs
Not automatically. I mean, so what happened was I pitched the gig at that agency. Um, and they brought me in to do like hourly SEO work, which was like, you know, entering like basically like data entry for web 2.0 stuff, you know, like the, you know, the Google, my business listings and stuff like that.
I don't, I don't even think Google my business was at the time, but you had all these, you know, you had all these pro uh, sites like that. Um, And, and doing some like sorta like link building stuff. And I noticed like a couple of weeks in, I was realizing that they every week, a lot of what they did was they'd outsource all this written content to a site called Textbroker.
Um, And they'd paid 10 bucks an article and get just absolute, terrible pieces of writing. Um, but they didn't really need them to be good is it was just sort of spammy, you know, sort of gray, gray to black hat link-building from the pre Panda and penguin, uh, updates. And so, um, so, so basically I was looking at this writing and they would have me kind of edit it up to be a little bit better and they're paying me hourly to do the editing.
And I was like, And so I pitched them like on my second week, I was like, why don't I just write all this content for you? Pay me like 12 bucks and, you know, you're still getting, you're basically paying the same price once you factor in the hourly for my editing it. And you're going to get a better piece of content.
And for me, I'm going to make more money, you know? Um, so I was doing like 20 articles a week at, you know, 12 to 15 bucks per article. Um, and, uh, Yeah. And so that was kind of my first freelance writing gig. Um, and, and I was doing that for about a year. I was doing some other stuff at the time, so I wasn't really looking to work full time.
Um, so it was just kind of a part-time thing. And then a year, and I. I found this other SEO agency that also needed writing. And so I pitched them as well, and they were, they were paying me even a little bit more money than that. Um, and then I had this article that they had me start. The original company, had me to start submitting guest posts around the web.
Um, I'm trying to get stuff published. And if I got, if I, you know, if I got an article published in my byline, I linked to their, their clients that they wanted the links to and they would pay me for getting those links, you know, published. And so I was doing that. And then I had, uh, I had a website, um, respond to me and say, Oh, we like this.
We're going to publish it. And you can bill us for our normal, you know, rate of $120 per post. I think at the time they were paying me like 50 bucks for the link. Um, so I was getting paid more from that gig to actually write the content itself than for the link. And that kind of like. That kind of opened up the idea to me that I could actually get paid for the writing, not just for the link.
And so that sort of started the process of finding other websites that would pay me for the writing and not the link. And, uh, and that's when things started. That's when things started picking up a bit. Um, it wasn't until about two years later. So I did it just really super part-time for three years. Um, and then I was, um, my wedding was coming up, um, and I was paying for it myself.
And so a lot of bills to hit and I had kinda just factored in, you know, with my existing gigs that I had, I was going to be able to cover it. And then my biggest client at that point, that was probably about. Probably like 60% of my income. Um, they dropped off. Uh, and so I was sitting there with like, you know, three to four months to the wedding, a lot of bills still to cover, like, shoot, you know, what do I do now?
Um, and so I was like, okay, like, I'm just gonna pitch like crazy, just do the numbers game thing, see if I can, you know, fill, fill this gap. Um, and within a month of like just extreme pitch volume, Um, I had like landed a $4,000 website, copywriting gig, a $14,000 website, copywriting gig, uh, and, uh, an ongoing blogging gig that was paying me like 800 a month.
Um, and so that's when it kind of like I realized, Oh, this is a, this is, this is a full-time thing. And I, I went full-time at that point. Um, like that's when it really started to snowball. Yeah, thank you. Thank you for the, for the explanation. Um, because I really want to double click on the hustle aspect of this because you have the sales background, you, you know, it's a numbers game, you know, you need to put in the hours.
[13:30] Pitching, Sales and the Hustle
Um, can you just like expand on that in the sense that probably it was hundreds of pitches, right? Yeah. Yeah. So there's, there's two factors to it. There's one, there's just. There's just the, the willingness to go and. And back a hundred times, knowing that you're only going to hit a small percentage. I think that right there filters out a lot of people who try to build their own businesses.
Um, just they, they, they go in expecting to, they go in expecting to score 90%. You know, we go through our whole lives where. 90% is success. That's the a, you know, and you, you can't take that mentality into sales, you know, in sales 5% is an a, you know, like if you hit 10%, you're crushing it. You know? So like, I guess one of those things where, um, just having the right mentality to go in and, you know, you know, you're going to put up a ton of volume before you score and, you know, There's no way to predict exactly where the score will come from.
So you just have to go in and planning to, to miss a bunch. No, I'm that predictably with enough, enough volume. You'll get some, some wins. So that's number one. The second bit though, is you have to be willing to adjust on the fly. Um, so this is a big thing that I see. That's a problem with a lot of my students.
It takes a lot to get past that first. Volume first mentality, but then once you get into it, sometimes the first plan of attack that you bring in, even with volume doesn't work out. And then the question becomes, what do you did? Do you give up or do you, or do you adjust? And so for me, like during that month, like the first two weeks I was just sending like, like headline pitches and stuff, you know, like.
Um, like, Hey, like, uh, I want to write for your blog, like or whatever, like here's some headlines I think would be a good fit. And I just was not hearing back from anyone. Um, or people who would hear back, I'd hear back from, with some initial interest would off and follow-throughs, wouldn't get them back to me.
So I just got super frustrated and I started writing whole articles. So I had one week where I wrote like 10 full articles, uh, Not knowing if I get a dollar from any of them and just started sending out the full pieces. And one of those pieces is what that, uh, you know, some of those initial, you know, those projects came from was just going in and sending out full pieces.
And so it's kind of like, you know, I think it's, it's kind of those two factors of volume first mentality, but then also. You know, doing what it takes to figure out what's going to get the win, you know? So I, I think, yeah, that would be, that's kind of what it, what it comes down to and you have to, you have to really believe it's going to work in the end, you know?
Um, cause you're, you're pre you're pre putting in a lot of work, you know, you're, you're sort of. It's like, it's like a reverse tab, you know, you're paying a bunch before they're actually delivering the drinks. And so it's kind of like, you know, you have to be willing, you have to be willing to do that. And you have to sort of have a little bit of audacity.
And I think faith in yourself that you're going to pull it off, but also just kind of, you have to trust the process that this is how sales works. And, and you're, you're actually working or you have, uh, worked on spec before, so that's actually working for free, right? Hoping that they'll accept the article.
Yeah, exactly. Hmm. And I mean there's, and it's not all like, it's, it's not all wasted in the sense of yeah. If you write a full article and pitch it to one client and they don't take it, you can always retool it and pitch it to someone else, you know? So you are, in some ways you're, you're creating sellable assets that you can then fine tune, you know, it's not necessarily that it's all gonna go to waste, but it's definitely that willingness to.
You know, put work in before you're actually getting paid for it. Cause I mean, it's easy to put work in when you're already getting paid, you know, that that's, that's a lot easier to do. Um, and so when you're, when you're going in it, and honestly when you're in the first year of anything, whether it's freelance writing or any other business, that initial traction is a lot harder than it's, you know, that that first year is going to be harder than any consecutive year.
Like. For me, like, it's pretty easy for me to land clients now that I've been doing this almost 10 years. And I, you know, I have a lot of contacts in the industry. Now there's a lot of, you know, proof that I can show people, you know, when I want to go land a new client. So it's real easy to land a client now, but that first year, you know, it's, it's, it's an uphill battle.
And, uh, a lot of people don't make it through that, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And it's like, it's all about that proof that you can do it. Um, but in the beginning you don't have it. Right. So, um, yeah. And then I feel like kids, cause I've certainly been in this position myself, you know, and then, you know, like you're making excuses like, Oh, but I don't want to work for free.
And like, I don't want to put in all the summers, like, but like, do you actually want it or, or not? Because you know, it's, it's, it's up to you. Right. And then. Yeah, it comes down to, it comes down to faith. Um, for sure.
[18:55] Writing Process
Um, let's maybe talk a bit about your writing process, cause I know are super prolific and you're like, I don't even know.
It seems like you're writing like a zillion words a day. Um, how do you do it? Because they're not quite, you know, some like magic, um, sauce or something. What's your, your secret sauce? I'm actually a super slow writer. Um, I, it takes me a while. I don't have a particularly fast process. And over the last year, especially, I've been very unproductive with two kids and in a pandemic, uh, you know, but, but what I, what I have done is I've been consistent.
Um, and that's just kind of, you know, over the last. 10 years, I've spent a lot of time writing and that adds up, you know, and that's the thing when you're doing writing that you're publishing for clients under your own name, that you're publishing on your own blog, um, you know, stuff that's visible, you know, like.
Uh, when people show up and find your brand, they're not just finding what you've done in the last month. They're finding, you know, 10 years worth of stuff. Uh, so you're, it's sort of like th that's what I love about writing in terms of how it factors into personal branding is you're building this growing asset around your brand that, you know, provides value to you ongoing for years.
Yeah. Yeah. So, but
yeah, to dive into my process, I will tell. Okay. So, so that said, uh, the process itself, um, I basically liked to put together an outline, uh, about the T you know, identify the topic first. Here's what I want to say. Um, and on that note, um, I try not to get too high up on this horse, but like, uh, distribution first is the way I pick my topics.
And it's one of the biggest issues I see with a lot of people. So many people who are trying to get into writing, they just write what they want to write and then look to promote it or look to get it in front of people. And. It just doesn't work that way, unless you're, unless you're just a really unique talent, uh, or a uniquely interesting person that would.
Almost accumulate a huge brand following, no matter what you did, um, you can't just write and expect people to come, want to read what you wrote about, uh, it doesn't work that way. You have to write for the distribution. So for me, when I'm writing, you know, obviously if I'm writing for a client it's, it's based on their distribution, if I'm writing for my own blog and my distribution is SEL.
So I'm looking at what are topics that people are searching for. What other topics that people are wanting to learn about connected to, right, right. And freelancing, and then I'll write, uh, and then I'll, I'll plan out a resource that I feel will be uniquely helpful for those questions. And for me, it's all about making the best resource online.
Um, you know, so I'll look through all the existing content, you know, the stuff that's ranking on the front page, the stuff that's getting shared a lot and I'll look and see, you know, What are the best pieces of all this content and how can I create something that's even more comprehensive, more granular addresses questions that are being overlooked, um, provides, you know, unique data that others aren't covering, stuff like that, anything where I can make it better.
Um, and then I, you know, I outline that I strategize, um, I list that out, what I want to dive into, you know, all the different pieces. Um, and then I'll, I'll write usually, usually my, my first draft, I spend a lot of time. Playing around with it and rewriting. So I tend to be a w I S I tend to be a single draft writer in the sense that I sorta edit sections as I go and retool sections as I go.
Um, that said there have been times in the past where I've been really slow that way. So I'll just power through a first draft and use the second draft to really make it great. Um, so I've had success with both, both processes, um, But for the most part, I just go through and, you know, look for words, as I'm writing, writing is a learning process.
So as I'm writing, I'm looking for ways. You know, I'm looking for opportunities to make it special, even beyond what I anticipated during the outline. So a lot of times, you know, midway through a piece, I'll have an idea for how I can make the piece even better. And I'll take the time to go do that. Um, you can't always, like, I can't always do that with my clients in the sense that, you know, you have a fixed, I have a fixed budget for a given piece of content.
So, you know, it's, there's not really. I like, I, I can't really afford to go spend an extra 10 hours exploring a new idea, but for my own content on my own websites, that's the, you know, I'll give myself the time to do that. Um, and then again, it's just kind of one of those things where, you know, if I have, if I have five different pieces of content that are each 5,000 words, Um, that's gonna fill more prolific to readers than if I had had like, Twenty-five pieces that, you know, a thousand words each, um, because you're just those thousand word pieces just don't have the same impact on people.
A lot of them just get overlooked. Whereas these really big, you know, these bigger pieces make more of an impact. So when you have that impact, More frequently. It gives that feeling of like, wow, this guy's everywhere. He's really prolific. Like, you know, how do you do all of this content when reality, I'm not a fast writer and there's a lot of other people who turn out way more content than I do.
They just doesn't again, going back to the distribution, it doesn't get in front of people, you know? Okay. So. Do two things, two to two things I want to say to this one.
[25:05] Long Form versus Short Form Writing
Um, I'd be curious, um, as far as your note taking process, because I'm sure, you know, there's also a method to the madness and, uh, and to, um, I was talking to, uh, this online writers slash copywriter, Nicholas Cole, um, who.
Literally like, so this is your opinion, right? A lot of basically long form, maybe. Right. You just had five long pieces are superior to 25 short pieces and he would say, yeah, for distribution as if your distribution is okay. Okay. It's all about distribution. Okay. Gotcha. Gotcha. Cause I was like, hang on.
Like how are they? But also obviously there's multiple. Success, like, as in like there's no one single path to success, so, but this is what totally for you. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I, well, I I'll say I have, I don't know anyone who has SEO success these days with short form blog content. Um, but if your distribution is like social media, uh, if your distribution is, you know, paid advertising or sort of like.
Uh, community distribution. Um, then it's just about what performance would the community. So it might be the short form performs a lot better at the same time though, even in social communities. Um, Usually the short form that I've seen work the most isn't taking the form of a blog post because a, if you're sharing blog posts constantly with any group, it feels spammy.
Whereas if you're sharing short form on platform content, that's what gets engagement. And then if you, if you supplement that with more sporadic, but really impactful, long form, that can be really powerful. Cause it's like, anytime someone. Anytime. You're asking people to click, you're sending them into this really, like excrutiatingly detailed much more in depth piece than any of the other stuff that's being linked on that, you know, in that community or via your social account.
And so it's kind of like, you're just, you're just giving, you know, constant little short form value each day without asking for anything. And then when you do ask for that click. You're really blowing people away. Um, and so, so I've seen that I've seen that worked on, on social too, but at the same time, you know, it really just comes down to what's working, you know, what's working for your unique distribution channel.
Yeah. So is it fair to say that in the beginning you should play around with the different distribution channels, long form short perform, and then basically figure out what works for you. You can, you can play around, um, I think like for a beginning, Conrad, right? Like if you have, I dunno, you just get your first, I don't know, five gigs, right?
And now you want to go like build a business. You can play around. The thing is if you're, if you're doing a business, if you're doing a business that other people have already done successfully, especially like, if you're doing a writing business where there's. Thousands of successful examples to look at.
I think playing around with different stuff is, is, can be a waste of time if versus just following the model that you liked the best and just. Going all in on that from day one, giving yourself a fixed timeline to see what results you can get and then making adjustments, because I see a lot of new people playing around with stuff forever, you know?
And it's like, and there's a lot of ways that, uh, channels can feel like they're helping when it's just. It's a meaningless metrics that are making you feel like you're making forward progress. Um, so all that to say like, definitely if you, if you have no clue what you want to do then yeah. Trying around different channels, you know, trying posting on Twitter or LinkedIn and writing some blog posts and maybe I'll even a little paid ads and saying, Hey, which one of these, which one of these do I enjoy the most?
And then fine at that point, find someone who's crushing it on that channel. And like reverse engineer their strategy, and then just follow that strategy. You're going to be creating your own content. Uh, but you know, like at this stage of the game, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel, you know, and the, the, your best chance of success is defined something that's worked 50 times before and just be the 51st person, you know, because we're, we're in a global economy.
Like there, the saturation almost doesn't exist in the sense that. The markets are so big that even if it's saturated, you can always overtake the bottom 50% of players pretty easily just because they're phoning it in, you know, like it's just, that's just kinda how it is, you know, any market that's saturated, half, half the players are, are vulnerable to being overtaken, you know, if not all of them.
Yeah. Yeah. Now that makes sense. That makes sense. Um, I kind of want to go back to that note taking process. Um, Oh yeah, I have none.
[29:50] Writing Structure
I don't take notes. I'm ADHD. So if I take notes yeah. Nothing happens to them. They just end up in like a, you know, taking notes, just distracts me from what I'm doing. And I never, I never find a way.
I never find their way back to the notes in the first place. Uh, so like I have like a sporadic scattering of notes on my phone's Slack. Uh, an endless number of notepad app entries, uh, you know, that like, I'll, they will never be useful to me because I will never find my way back to them.
Okay. So if you, if you want to, uh, write something for your own brand or for a client, do you just sort of, do you have it all in your head and you just, you, you start the first draft, like the, or. So basically the, the writing process I described, um, when I'm doing that initial research phase, everything I'm looking at is going straight into my outline.
So like any section I find on any blog posts that I think would be a good section to have in mind as well, I throw that subheader in. So I ended up with this Google doc with a bunch of headers, and then I get in there and I try to organize them around and see, how can I structure something that takes the reader.
It is almost like a, a school lesson plan takes the reader from, uh, you know, step a, creating a context for the points to actually be meaningful and then working them through this whole narrative. Um, and so I try to fit the different sections into that and then add new ones that are needed to fill in gaps, delete ones that I feel are not optimal within the broader structure.
Um, And then as I'm going through, I just, I just tackle it section by section. And if I need, if I need some data or I need some ideas to go into certain sections, just sort of some, you know, creative Googling to find what I need. Um, you know, the nice thing with writing when I'm writing for myself, it's on stuff that I'm knowledgeable about when I'm writing for clients.
You know, it's, it's usually like I can get any information I need from the web in the sense of there's not really any new industries for the most part, or at least 99% of the stuff you're working on. Isn't new. So you can go find content out there and, uh, you know, it doesn't take long to learn what you need to learn and then look to look for ways to apply it in a unique way.
Take a new angle. Um, maybe cover it with some different, some different content, get a little bit of unique stuff from the client to throw in. So you're not just rehashing everything else. Um, I don't spend a whole lot, like it, you don't want to spend too much time researching because yeah. I mean, researching is, is a, an endless rabbit hole that you can get into that can suck up your time real quick.
So yeah. This is what I'm struggling with. Do you have any tips as far as, um, just, just getting the writing out there and not being like, Hey, but I need another week to finish this.
I don't personally sort of again, because I'm ADHD, like, uh, for me, it's like all gas, no brakes, you know, it's just, you just like hammer it out in like 10 hours, no breaks, like, yeah, exactly. Like I'll just, I'll put it out there before I've even edited the typos out. Like my, my type of editing happens after publication.
Uh, Much much to the plants of many of my literature minded readers. Um, so yeah, so I like, for me, it's for me just getting it out. There is no, no issue. You just do it. Um, it's I definitely, it's definitely a struggle for a lot of people to, to put it out and not spend too much time working on it. Um, I try for those people to help them reposition how they're viewing it to be more, um, A little bit more metric minded, you know, like every, like if you're working for a client every hour, you spend, you know, circling your thumbs, like are twiddling your thumbs, like thinking about how, you know, this isn't good enough.
That's just an hour lag. Like you're, you're just lowering your hourly rate basically for what you made on that post, you know? Um, so it's kind of just. You have to just be, you have to be a little bit pragmatic with stuff. And again, it also comes down to that numbers game. Like you have to understand that you're going to suck at first at anything you do, you know, like you improve with reps.
[34:30] Value of Repetition
Uh, you have to be intentional. Like you definitely need some intentionality. But like, you know, the first hundred pieces of copy I wrote were shit. Like, there's just no two ways about it. Like anything you do, you're terrible at first. And you improve with time and repetition and intentionality and, and that's just how it is.
So if you're not shipping, you're not really improving. Yeah. Yeah. No, it's, that's, that's a good way of thinking about it and just putting that arbitrary deadline. Um, And just say, like, it doesn't always pay off. Like I, I started the podcast last, last March. Um, with that mentality like this, isn't going to be amazing.
I'm just going to put the reps in and get better as I go. Um, and to this point, like that investment of like, you know, close, like basically a year of doing this, uh, has not really returned a huge. It hasn't really returned much of a profit. Um, but I'm now in a much better position, you know, looking to be more intentional with what I create and make it even better.
And they could actually bring in an ROI I'm in a much better position to identify what's going to work. Now that I've been putting reps in for a year, then I was at the start. And so like, I basically, I wouldn't even have had a chance to create something that's going to actually pay off without that year of reps.
So even though the reps don't always. You know, pay off in and of themselves, they get you, they, they give you the experience that you need to really identify what will work. Yeah. That's, that's a good point. Actually. That's a good point. And it's the whole, um, how I read this somewhere, this whole systems over goals, like you make it in such a way that it's a win-win for you because now you're a much better public speaker and you're much more comfortable, you know, talking in front of the camera or talking to people and.
That in itself is a big win. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Um, maybe cause like, I want to be cognizant of your time. So maybe I'll hit you with like, just a couple of minutes of like quick fire, sorta copywriting questions. Just like for someone they know copywriting is like, you know, selling online. Um, but that's all they know.
[37:18] Basics of Copywriting
Um, If you maybe have five minutes to kind of like, at least give them like the bare bones basics, um, what will you tell them as far as, like, what are the biggest things to cover? Maybe like the, the three or four, like big questions to ask yourself, um, when selling online. So copywriting is just communication.
It's just written communication. Um, so the, the first thing you need to be thinking about is who am I speaking to? You know, who's the audience like if I were to, if I were to tell you, Hey, I want you to prepare a speech, um, you know, for this group of people and it's about business, you know, I want you to have this, you know, do like a 10 minute talk about business.
And in your mind, you're thinking of like a bunch of small business owners or something like that, or aspiring small business owners. So you spend a week preparing the speech you walk in, and it's a class of fifth graders, you know, like you're the speech you've prepared is going to be completely worthless to this group of fifth graders.
Cause it's a whole different audience and that's that's first and foremost with copywriting is you need to really understand who you're speaking to. Um, because what you're gonna say to. The right group should be different than what you would say to a different group. Um, so that's first and foremost. Um, the second, the second thing you need to be thinking about is what do you actually want them to do after they read this content?
Um, and it needs to be singular. Like if a piece of content is trying to get people to do mu or a piece of copy is trying to get people to do multiple things. It's going to be really weak compared to a piece of copy. That's just looking to get them to do one action. So anytime you're sitting down and writing, you know, like if it's for a website page, Like, what button do you want them to click when they read this, you know, like that you want to be thinking about who's this for, what do I want them to do?
And that's gonna, you know, those two things are going to dictate everything else about what you're writing. The second bit is focus on clarity, just focus on like, communicate clarity in your communication. A lot of people get really hung up with the idea of persuasion. And they're always thinking about how can I persuade someone to do this?
Um, But persuasion is like, it's like last five to 10%. If that the big thing is, you know, the big thing is clarity and the big thing is actually having a compelling offer. If it's going to get people to take that action. So if you have, if you have product market fit or if you have something that people want, and then you just communicate that clearly you just, you know, you very clearly lay out what this value is, what this offer is.
Um, That's 80, 90% of the way right there. And then there's, you know, some little things you can do five to 10% with persuasion, but so many people try to focus on persuasion and they just completely lose the clarity and people are like, what? Like what are you actually trying to get me to do? Yeah. Um, so that's a big thing and it's just, you know, it's just communicating to people as if you were there in person.
A lot of people, a lot of people are pretty good, like one-to-one communicators, but when you try to get them to sit down and write. They just go in this weird mode where they think they need to like formalize everything and, you know, like they, like, they just kind of lose their trail of, you know, they, they lose their idea of what they're trying to do.
Um, but the best copy reads a lot. Like if you were to just. Record yourself having a conversation with someone, and then you're just sort of polyp polishing it up a little bit. Any places where you're a little long-winded, you're making it more concise, a little bit tighter. Um, but great copy reads like, you know, like a pretty casual conversation between friends or you're just communicating years telling them about something, you know?
Um, And that's, that's good copywriting and the net shop, uh, tying back into the, the understanding who you're speaking to. Um, the biggest reason that's important is because you need to present your message based on what they care about, not what you care about. Um, you know, if you have, if you have an offer that you're presenting to them, Like, what matters about that offer is what matters to them, not what matters to you.
And a lot of business owners get real hung up on the fulfillment side of things. Cause they're, they're aware of all the things they're doing to deliver a superior product or to, um, you know, little challenges they've solved on the product or service side. Things about themselves, that they feel are really special and make them, you know, a unique little snowflake.
Uh, and th the reality is your, your customers oftentimes don't really care about any of this staff. You know, they have specific benefits that they're looking for. Are there specific things about what you're doing that they do care about? Um, and so if you can sort of drop your ego a bit and think about, Hey, what did they actually care about?
Not what do I care about here? That's where, you know, that's where you're going to do a much better job of. Delivering a message that people will respond to. Um, and so that stuff right there, I mean, that's, that's pretty much everything you need to write. Good copy. Um, and you know, you, when you're structuring a page, you want to just be aware of different things.
[43:56] Choosing Frameworks
People are going to be looking for, but you don't have to reinvent that wheel. There's if you look up copywriting frameworks, Um, you want to always be writing from a framework, you know, so, and these are proven frameworks that have been around for years. There's hundreds of them for all sorts of situations.
Um, and they're just basically gonna lay out the process. You could take someone through. So like there's the. Uh, pain agitate solution, where you're identifying a pain point, and then you, you know, you sort of agitate it with your messaging. You TA you kind of dig into what makes it so painful, and then you present the solution, you know, um, and there's hundreds of ones just like that, uh, lots of different frameworks that you can use.
So don't try to reinvent the wheel, never start from a blank page, kind of figure out, Hey, what framework makes sense for this situation? Who am I speaking to? What do I want to tell them? What do they care about? And then how can I just very clearly tell them about my offer. Okay. Nice. Last question before, um, um, I'll let you tell the listeners where to find you online.
Um, how do you know which framework to go with for the situation? So, I mean, when you're looking frameworks, a lot of the content you can find out there will, will give you an idea of which ones are best for different situations. Um, then there's also just trial and error, um, and then kind of common sense.
And, uh, but then also just looking at, you know, when, again, when we talk about, um, what I mentioned earlier about. Be the 51st, the 51st business, not the first business. Like it's kinda like that. Like if you're, if you're coming into a space where there's a lot of people killing it, you can look at what frameworks they're using.
You can look at how they're approaching, what their customers are responding to. And there's a good chance that your customers will respond to the same thing. So it just, it gives you a good starting place that you can then iterate it from rather than just trying to figure out something from scratch.
Cause I mean, if you're. If you're a new business coming into a new market with a new product, like the odds are so stacked against you because you're, everything's a guess you're just coming in and you know, you're making a best guess. And then you're having to test and spend a lot of money, trial and erroring until you find, you know, that's how all business works.
Everything's, everything's an educated guests. Like you could, you could come to me as a, as a ten-year copywriter. Show me three pieces of copy. Asked me. Hey, which one of these do I think is gonna perform best? Like, you know, if each of them are decent enough, there's a good chance. I won't know, like with like, or the one that I would pick and say, Hey, I think this is the best one.
You know, if you were to actually run a thousand dollars worth of traffic to those three different ones, Um, a different one might perform better. It's really marketing is just educated, guessing. And like he said, systems, not goals, having a system for throwing something out there, evaluating how it works and then iterating based on the data you're getting, um, is ultimately how you succeed at any form of marketing.
Gotcha. Gotcha. Um, where can people find you online, Jacob, and anything you want to plug? Yeah. If you, uh, head on over to Jacob macmillan.com, um, I have a lot of content on mostly writing and then, you know, freelancing and marketing as well. Um, my, my, the main thing I do there is help freelance writers build their businesses.
Um, but then there's also a lot of marketing content as well. Cause I do a lot of marketing, um, and that's really, I mean, that's the best place to connect with me. Uh, Is, you know, through my, through my email list, um, or, uh, maybe on Twitter, like we connected, um, I think it's Jane McMillan, 89 is my tag. Um, Well, yeah, that's uh, that's uh, that's my only plug there.
Fantastic. Fantastic, man. This has been so great with everything. You know, the copywriting advice, the background, the writing process. I'm so stoked to put this online. It's going to help a ton of people. Jacob, thank you a ton for doing this. And thanks for having me. Yeah, man. You have a great day. Okay.
Thanks so much for listening. If you liked the podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Spotify and share the episode with someone. You know, it really helped me out a ton new podcasts coming out every Monday. See you next week.