You know your website isn’t serving your business how you’d like it to, but how the heck do you know when it’s time to make a major change to your site?
Similarly, if you’re just starting your business, how do you decide whether you should cobble a DIY website together or hire out the work to a copywriter and website designer?
Like usual, the answer to these questions is….drumroll please….it depends!
But don’t worry, this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast, website designer and guest expert Katie O’Brien and I will help you consider the financial and time investment that goes into a website launch or rebrand and whether you should do the work yourself or onboard a team.
Here’s what Katie and Erin have to say about making the best website investment at any stage of business
What comes first: Copy or design? (And why!)
Whether to DIY the work yourself or hire a website copywriter and designer for a new site launch or rebrand
What your website audience really cares about when they view your website
How to earn trust and nurture leads with strategic website copy and design
How website copy, design and strategy work together to make for a successful website investment
Why you should always ask for recommendations from your website copywriter or designer for the complimentary role
Timeline considerations to ensure you’re making the best website investment
Whether any other service providers could or should play a role in a website launch or rebrand
Budgeting and the financial approach to planning for the best website investment (so you don’t need to come back to make fixes later)
You heard it here. Quotes about showing up authentically from Katie and Erin
“When copy does not come first or copy is not well thought out prior to the design, it’s ends up being a website that does not serve their business, or it’s a website that will be drastically changed within a few months.” – Katie O’Brien
“We often think of the best website investment as just a financial thing, like ‘How much money am I spending on the site?’, ‘What’s the return on investment going to be on the money that I spend?’ But I think a time investment is something that people don’t factor into a large project like this.” – Erin Ollila
“Marketing is very much like science, we have hypotheses, we do some testing, we get results from the testing, and then we make the changes based on those results.” – Erin Ollila
“We know how to do our jobs. We know the questions to ask you. We know how to get you that end result. But — we cannot be the decision makers in your business.” – Erin Ollila
“You know how to determine if this project is a success? Determine right now, before you pay a penny for this, what success looks like. And then, both your designer and your copywriter will strategically set you up for that success. But if you do not know what you want the end results to be, you’re not going to be able to determine whether you’re leading in that direction.” Erin Ollila
Katie’s homework assignment encourages you to be focus on your ideal client
Specifically, answer questions such as
Who is your dream client?
What do they need?
What motivates them?
How can you best serve them?
Knowing this will give you so much clarity to your overall messaging, branding, copy and website design.
Learn more about your guest expert, Katie O’Brien Katie O’Brien is a brand and website designer specializing in elevated branding and fuss-free websites for interior designers. Her superpower and passion are building strategic digital homes that support interior designers’ business and lifestyle goals. Her streamlined 30-day process and long-term care plans go the extra mile, elevating her craft from an artful deliverable to a service that prioritizes you.
Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.
When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.
Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:
Learn more about Erin’s done-for-you website copy services if you want to skip the work and hire a professional copywriter to do it for you https://erinollila.com/website-copy
Want to know more about how to make the best website investment? Here’s the transcript for episode 025 with Katie O’Brien
NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.
people, clients, website, business, work, katie, clarity, design, copywriter, designer, copy, services, starting, serving, timeline, brand, professional, feel, hire, investment
Katie O’Brien, Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila 00:00
Today we are here with Katie O’Brien. She is a website designer for interior designers and also one of my closest business friends. So I am thrilled to have her on the podcast. When Katie was a child when most of the other girls were signing up for after school programs where they could do crafts and play with dolls, Katie was signing up for after school programs where she could play with computers. It started from an early age, her very first job, even though she was technically unemployable at this time, was building computers with her father. And I love that now it went from playing with computers, you know, as a family event and having after school classes in the tech lab to now being a website designer owning a very thriving website business. So thank you, Katie, for coming to the show. I’m so excited to have you here today.
Katie O’Brien 00:52
Thank you so much for having me.
Erin Ollila 00:54
So tell me about these after school tech programs that you’re in, we didn’t have anything cool like them. The school that I went to the after school programs were very like blunt and boring. What were you doing in the tech lab.
Katie O’Brien 01:05
So we I would say like third grade, we actually all had our own little laptops, because we had like a grant. So our school got muddy. And we’re like, oh, let’s get these little laptops. Before you know Chromebooks existed for everyone. But I remember there would be the labs, and you’d have to clean them. And so there’s like special like alcohol and cue tips. And like a special way that you had to clean the keyboards or pop those keyboard keys off. Like I don’t even know if they do that anymore. But you’d pop them off, you’d have to clean all the desks, you’d wipe down the things, you make sure all the cords are tightened and screwed in. And then of course, any like troubleshooting of programs or setting things up for the next day. But essentially, it was just kind of like tidying and caring for all of like the electronics and all of the computers and then helping if anything went awry with tech, we could kind of jump in and kind of help the teacher with a projector or you know, the connection.
Erin Ollila 01:58
I love that that’s like free child labor, while also making you think that you’re having a lot of fun doing a child labor at the time I loved it was
Katie O’Brien 02:06
it was fun.
Erin Ollila 02:07
Well, it is nice, though, because in some sense, it really gave you as a kid like that opportunity to feel like one part of something, but to also that, like be intelligence of like, I can do this, I can fix this, you know, and I’m sure that leads into your life just in general from one being willing to start a business, to try things in your career to take chances to look at a website with all of that code and all of that tech and be like, Okay, I’m going to troubleshoot this issue, or Okay, well, you want this design, we’re going to figure out how to make that design for you. Your childhood gives you that opportunity to just kind of build that confidence, and also build that like knowledge base that you needed to take you into this place of your career. But the question is, what comes first? Is it copy? Or is it designed?
Katie O’Brien 02:54
So 100%? It’s copy. That’s why I love you, Katie. And I’ve done it both ways. In the result of the website, when copy does not come first or copy is not well thought of prior to the design, it’s just a website that does not serve their business, or it’s a website that will be drastically changed within a few months. With that being said, too, I also think it’s such a common misconception because you’re saying like, people need the words. And people need the website. And they need the design and all the intricate pieces, I have so many clients who come to me. And they know the importance of their personal brand and branding their business. And they know their website, and their online presence isn’t serving them. But they don’t understand the different pieces and the different professional support that goes into creating that they just come they’re like, Oh, well don’t you do all that. And you know, there are some website designers who do copy. But it’s, you know, I tell them time and time again, you are so much better served. If you go to a copywriter. First who helps you get clear on your brand, strategy, your messaging your brand voice, then they help you write the words for your website, which in reality is like a Google Doc, you know, it’s a highly strategic tailored Google Doc with all of the words. And then you move on creating a custom design around your brand message, your brand strategy, the copy the SEL, and all of that is kind of built together. And I think a lot of people they misunderstand, they come to the website designer first thinking like, Oh, we’re just gonna, like, make it pretty. And you’re going to do all of that. But it really does come down to the strategy of all of that, and then the words that support that strategy before you ever get to the design.
Erin Ollila 04:49
Yeah, and I mean, I would say I’ve also worked in both ways, you know, like I’ve had people call me in and say, I have a very late copy draft, but my web designer has all already created the entire design of the site like, can you help me fill in the words and in some instances, I’d say specifically, if I’ve worked with a client in different ways, I will try to help them. But what what I will would love to point out when it comes to that, if that’s where you’re considering starting, if you’re listening to this or you’re in that predicament is, you’re trying to fit a message into a box. And I think we all understand that only so many things can fit in the shape that you’re giving them. So if you have, you know, like Katie, and I always joke around, because sometimes when I tried to design, web design things, I’m like, Katie, you know, the boxes. Like if you’re putting things like on the screen in one row, you know, put this in three different boxes in a row, what I just mean are things like rows and columns and design elements. But if I were to try to fit in a message, and I knew, here’s a place where there’s one row, and in the row are three side by side boxes, now I have to figure out how to say something that goes in those boxes, where it might not be relevant to one the message, but two very more important the client experience, a lot of the times what I do when I’m working with clients on edits, is try to remind them why decisions were made in strategic ways. Let’s first pretend on the about page, we happen to have those three boxes side by side, if I happen to be like, working on the message of trying to say like, here’s my expertise, we’re in that section of an about page. And I break that thought up by giving them random information. Let’s say we throw some fun facts in my area. And I try to rein the reader back in to get them thinking about the expertise again, after that’s done. Well, we’re segmenting people’s thought process. We’re segmenting their buyer decision process. So the design really does amplify a good message. But when you’re trying to put the message inside of the design, you’re really interrupting a lot of the key things you need your site to do for you. And I mean, I would assume in your case, it’s probably harder for you to like build as design around not having any copy.
Katie O’Brien 07:08
Yeah, that’s not an option. If they’re like, hey, build me a website, I have no copy, I’d be like, Okay, well, we can’t start until you do have your copy. And even if they do it themselves, but I will say, you know, I’ve gotten all sorts of types of copy from people doing it themselves from, you know, copywriters, obviously, beautiful copy from you, you know, like, and it definitely persuades, like, the, the design for sure. And honestly, like, it’s not that you can’t start with design, it’s just you shouldn’t hire a designer, if that’s what you’re doing. And so if it’s like, if you want to start with design, if you’re like, Oh, I really like this template, and that’s exactly the way you want and that’s the absolute website you want, like, okay, you know, but maybe if you’re at that phase in your business, then you it that might even help like you, oh, you have a headline here, okay, you put a sentence here, oh, you have another section for a paragraph, oh, this is where you put your services. That is more for like, the DI wires, maybe hiring a VA to help them set up a theme. And so you can kind of just plug and play when you’re talking about kind of like the the Erin and Katie phase of working with someone on your business like that’s when you’re really, you know, you have a clear vision for your business, you’re clear on your ideal client, you’re clear on your services, and you’re really ready to market that way in a very strategic brand voice and message speaking to those ideal clients, and you want something that’s completely tailored to them. So when they land on the website, like these people aren’t gonna be like, Oh, that’s a nice design. Oh, that’s a nice word. It’s just going to be like this super welcoming, super on brand experience to them, where like the design and the messaging kind of just fall in the background, where they’re like, Yes, take my money, or whatever the the call to action is.
Erin Ollila 08:53
Yes, no, that that makes perfect sense. And I think that’s a really good point that I wasn’t even thinking of making. It is 100% fine to purchase templates, it is 100% Fine, to like, do your copy, like yourself, maybe call on a couple of business friends for some suggestions in the editing phase. And it is 100% fine to do that DIY copy template for as long as it serves you like I would just like to give you that permission right here. And now to just get started in your business. Do not get dragged down by the colors. Like sometimes even Katie still reminds me and things like that. Right? But like, that’s not what’s building your business in any way shape or form your clients and I don’t want to oversimplify what I do or you do, but I think you would agree with me like your clients don’t go to your site and they’re like, Oh, don’t love that shade. A tan that Katie used. I don’t think she’s from me. You know, if she used a little bit darker shade, I think I’d feel like she was more serious. No, that doesn’t happen. That does not happen. If you have got your thoughts out there. They’re organized they’re clean. Here, the design is not overcrowded, and like, distracting, it doesn’t make a difference what your colors are, it does not make a difference that your design is a little more simpler than your competitors or the than how you’ve always imagined it would be, because what you need is a starting place. So in the grand scheme of this investment conversation, for the people who are listening, that may not be able to jump that gun and hire a web designer at the same time as a copywriter, full on permission to take the easiest steps to get your business out there. So you can have that digital storefront, even if you’re selling services, right, that digital landing place without feeling like you need to be a perfectionist.
Katie O’Brien 10:44
And I will say to like on that comment of like potential clients or clients commenting on colors, when I’ve had clients, so they’re not commenting on the colors, or even the style or anything, they comment on the feeling they had when they landed on my website, or the feeling they had when they read a specific line of copy. And it’s always Katie, it was such a breath of fresh air when I landed on your website, like wow, as soon as I hit your portfolio, I knew you were the designer for me. And so it’s kind of like having them have that feeling. And they experience. It’s not them noticing all those little pieces, just like interior designers, when they’re designing homes. They’re not having like someone’s not going into the home. I mean, maybe I am, you know, being like, Oh, I really like that mold. And you know, but it’s more of like, oh my gosh, your home felt so good or was so felt so warm, or spacious or inviting are welcoming. It’s like you have those feelings that you’re creating for your clients. It’s not like all of those nitpicky intricate details. It’s the way that it feels when it all comes together. And I feel like that’s really how like website copy and website design and strategy coming together.
Erin Ollila 11:47
Yeah, that’s perfect. Because if you think about it, you know, you say you might be that one person that looks at the the molding? Well, I don’t think you are I think it’s safe to say you go into houses, you look at the molding, you’re like, well, that’s beautiful, but you’re not judging the house on that one piece of molding like that’s not the maker break. And I think that’s the same for websites, someone might come to a website and say like, oh, that heading like, this section right here spoke directly to me. So that heading itself might have been very impactful. But the website as as a whole, they’re judging on the feeling of confidence to work with you. They’re judging it on whether or not they feel like seen and heard and see themselves in the message, whether or not that design, I mean, visually, yes, design does speak to people, right like, and there as you know, or better than I do like things like color, or even just the style in general can make someone feel more like seen in the design, you know, so like certain types of businesses. Let’s say you have a coaching business, and you’re all of the people you’re coaching are executives or people that work in like the tech field, you don’t necessarily want to have like rainbow colors all over the place, right, you might want a little bit more muted, a little bit more professional, whatever, it will throw some air quotes on that word professional design can affect things message can affect things, but they are not the sticking points of what is selling these people. What’s selling them is the overall combined experience and how they’re relating to that experience. So I think that when people are thinking about hiring a copywriter, what I see happen very often is that the first step for them is going to the design first, right? So they might say they might contact you and like you say, you know, for you, it’s very important, you’re not going to work with anyone until they have that copy. Why do you think it is? The design is always that first thought that people go to?
Katie O’Brien 13:40
I think it’s kind of like the pretty shiny object. And I think it’s the thing that like you can see, and you can put out forward. And that’s what like you notice. And so it’s like, Oh, I’m gonna start there. So I think people are, oh, I need a website. So they just go to a website designer versus like, oh, I need a website. Let me find someone to write the words first. You know, like, it’s not that first, like thought that they have there.
Erin Ollila 14:03
Yeah, that’s a great point. So when your clients are coming to you, and you’re saying, okay, great, you know, go get the words that you need. And we’ll start working together. I think there’s also an insecurity point. So like, they found you, they’re confident in you now, but Oh, no, they have to start from scratch again. Do you have any advice for them? In general, when it comes to like, from a design standpoint, what they should be considering when they’re looking for a copywriter?
Katie O’Brien 14:28
Yes. If you found the website designer, and you’re like, Yes, this is exactly who I want to work with. And they are professional in their experience in that field. Ask them and take their advice on who they recommend. Because for me, I mean yes, of course, I’m always recommending Erin. I also have a couple other people to like so people it’s not like only go for this one person. I’ve got a very small handful of people that I know do an amazing job on copy and that their websites just turn out stunning and on point and on brand with copy and design. So I have people I recommend to those people, like when I have an introductory call with someone, and I’m like, oh, so how about the website, copy the words, you know, I have definitely had some people in the past though they’re like, Oh, I think I just want someone local, or, you know, whatever that case may be. And I will tell you 99% of the time, or 99 out of 100 times, they are so unhappy with their experience, they are like, I guess it doesn’t matter that I went local, because it was really bad. They didn’t know, just a couple months ago, someone like it was recommended by a friend. And she got a copy back. And she was like, and gave it to me, I was like, what, like, this is the we’re gonna need to, and I was like helping her restructure all of this, when she’d already paid a professional that was supposed to be a copywriter. And so a lot of times, so I will say, if you are going to a website designer, and you know, like this is who’s going to be building and designing my website, ask them first, who they recommend, because it’s almost guaranteed that they already have people that they work with, and they work with well, and they have experience with them. And they know that you will, they will just nail your copy for you and start there. You know, before just going to Google or some random Facebook group.
Erin Ollila 16:18
Yeah, there’s so there’s so much to say to that. I mean, one, I think that what you said is I, I would actually recommend, if you have a website designer, really asking them for multiple names. Yes, I love to work with Katy, I, you know, we’ve worked together for years now. So it’s wonderful when we have clients that are overlapping. But I always tell the people that are coming to me for discovery calls, whether it’s a good sales tactic, or not, like, there’s a million reasons why we might not be perfect for each other, like a million, it could be personality, it could be values. So having multiple people to interview is great, because it gives you insight, in general for the whole project, you’re going to see how people like some people might do their process quite differently, you wouldn’t know that if you just went to one person, you wouldn’t know that if you did a little bit of internet stalking of these people. Because, you know, like, I always tell people like Remember, your website has a job to do, it’s not the job where they you tell them every single detail about your business. So things like process or things like what to expect from working together are not necessarily going to be on those pages. So just one key point of what you said is I really do think it is important to get multiple names from that website designer. But I think a second point that like your I think you are making it but I want to say a little bit more directly is when you have these names, and you’re looking at them, there’s a really easy way to figure out if you like the person, and that’s asking for examples, right. So I think the reason why it’s always been easy to work for you is we have worked on projects together. So now if I’m recommending you, you’re recommending me, you can say, Erin and I worked on this project, or multiple projects, here are a few things we’ve done, this is what the end result was. And in that they’re able to see that the copywriter does not have to be let’s pretend were working with someone, a landscaper, okay? Like if I don’t have to be a landscaper to write a landscaping website. Because if they’re able to see the work that I can do over multiple different fields, they realize the voice can shift and change based on the company themselves. So I think seeing people’s work is a really good way to judge whether or not they’d be willing to work with you. And when you have multiple copywriters in this case, as an example, to compare their work, there you go, that helps you only like just determine how to decide between those options you have. So I don’t think it is as hard as people say, I think it is actually something that it can be pretty easily done.
Katie O’Brien 18:50
And the other thing I’ll add to is having multiple because there’s some seasons like Aaron, I know for you I know for me, like we get booked out and sometimes we are so booked. It’s like Nope, we’re full, we’ll let you know when we open because there’s just so many people waiting to get on our calendars. So having multiple people and also different, like budgets to I mean, yes, it’s going to be a pretty good investment. But there’s going to be different price points and different service offerings. And so what is your timeline? Are you on a hard deadline where you need to launch and you need to get someone in Aaron might not be available or the other people might not be available. And then same with like the website design, like we get backed up. And even if you found a copywriter you really like or if you find a website designer you really like and they’re just not available or they don’t have the time, the same timeline that you have, you can’t wait, then first thing you should do is say, Who do you recommend? You know, because they’re kind of putting their name behind that next recommendation. And most professionals if they’re booked out, or they can’t help you, they know at least a couple that can and might be a good place to start for you to begin interviewing before again, you know, going into the world of Google or you know Facebook or asking your mom. Yeah, and
Erin Ollila 19:58
I think you have to look Like literally look for the people who are collaboration over competition, because I am not the only copywriter in the world, you are not the only web designer in the world. And speaking to this exact point. If we are overbooked, you are not going to get a good end result if Katie or I take you on just because you want to work with us. So if we have our boundaries in place, knowing what our schedule allows us to do, so that we can give the best work to our clients, we’re only going to recommend you to people that we trust, and I want you to have a good experience. And I want the people that I’m recommending you to, to also have a good experience working with you. But let’s let’s talk timelines for a second. That’s a really great point when it comes to investments, you know, we often think of investments as just a financial thing, like how much money am I spending on the site, what’s the return of investment going to be on the money that I spend? But I think a time investment is something that people don’t factor into a large project like this. I know a lot of the people when I asked them, you know, like, what’s your timeline for this project? You know, like, when are you hoping to launch your site, and I would say, nine and a half times out of 10, it’s as soon as possible. And I think that’s one thing I’d love to kind, of course, correct within this industry. Because I get it like, personally, just having ADHD, sometimes, once I’m motivated to do a certain thing, I get hyper focused on it, and I’m ready to go, ready to get this done. So I understand where people come from. But in order to have a good project in order to get that return on investment, timelines should be planned out really well and strategically. So do you have any recommendations when it comes to that for a web design project
Katie O’Brien 21:44
in regards to like, recommending clients and like how they plan out their timeline?
Erin Ollila 21:49
Yeah, I think any of it because I know, I think what people don’t understand that I’m trying to get to is like the amount of time things take. So how long does one prepare? What should one expect when it comes to working with someone? And then, you know, I can say, for my part, if someone works with me for coffee first, there’s still a lot of time that goes on before that website is launched.
Katie O’Brien 22:09
Yeah, so I would definitely, like I would say, as soon as you know that you want a new website, you start interviewing people. So you like in, you know, you’re gonna hire someone. So like, you need to start doing the research, you need to start having interviews and seeing what their timelines are. Like, just for me, for example, like, sometimes I’ll be open next month, and it’ll just be like that season. And it’s great. And we can jump right in. There’s other times where I’m like, three, four, or five months out, where it’s like, okay, we can we can book that for you. But you know, we’re not going to be able to essentially dive into this project until this date, because I’ve got other clients that I’m working with. But prior to that, I have also been waiting. So I would say like, when you know, start, like booking the call, start looking out, lining up this professionals. And sometimes it is people they’re like, you know, I don’t want to wait for you like, you’re my number one choice, but I don’t want to wait that long. I don’t want to wait until the fall. And maybe they didn’t plan maybe they’d been planning on having a new website. And then they waited a few months. And then they started interviewing people. So they didn’t kind of jump on that. So it’s starting that as soon as possible. But at the same time, when you’re approaching that, you know, making sure that you’re clear on your services, and making sure you’re clear on your business on your ideal client on, you know, what do you want from your website? Like what’s like, yes, you might know the vibe and the style and like, Oh, I really like so and so’s website. And I want something like that, like, great, but why, you know, what is this website going to bring you? What do you want the people who are visiting your website to bring you so all of that? I mean, yes, your copywriter is going to help you through that. Yes, your website designer is going to ask you those questions. And you’re going to kind of uncover those. But it’s probably a good idea to have all those answers before. So when they ask you it’s just kind of like reiterating and sharing that information. Rather than being like, I don’t know, what do you think and having coming to us asking us kind of our opinion on your business, rather than having that concrete business established and the clarity that you need before you can start marketing it,
Erin Ollila 24:18
Katie, and I know how to do our jobs, we know the questions to ask you, we know how to get you that end result. But we cannot be the decision makers in your business. And I think that’s people people don’t recognize that or don’t understand that. That’s how it has to work when you work with a professional like us.
Katie O’Brien 24:35
Yeah, and it is a lot about collaboration too, I think so it’s definitely not like handing it over and be like hey, do you do your website thing, you know, which you can buy? You know, I definitely you know, prior to even designing or working on the logo designer brand design or the homepage like I need to know so much about your business so I can make sure it’s tailored to that. But at the same time like when you see that like I need feedback like a How does this feel? How does this resonate with you? is, are we? are we hitting the point here? Like, do you feel like this is what you were looking for in regards to, you know, not just, oh, it’s pretty, you know, but is it serving your business? Is it serving that and kind of backing up a little bit to like, the the DIY, or is kinda, honestly, if someone comes to me, and they’re brand new, and they don’t have that clarity, like, I’m gonna say, No, I’m gonna say, don’t, I don’t want you to drop, you know, nearly 10 grand on a website, or, you know, a few 1000 Even because you’re not, you’re not ready, like, it’s going to be a waste of your money. And it’s a disservice I’ve had so many, when I was working with a lot of coaches, there are so many coaches that will come to me, like, they’re still getting their certification. And if I asked them, you know, what are your services? You know, who are you working with? Who’s your ideal client, and if they don’t know, I don’t I say this is I don’t, I don’t think this would be a good fit for you. Like, I don’t feel right taking your money, I go get that clarity, come back, or get a handful of clients have that then come back. Now on the flip side, I’m not saying that I don’t ever take a brand new business owner, because there are some people that are like, Yep, and they will just like, boom, boom, boom, and they know everything. And they’ve got the clarity, and they’ve done the work. And even if they haven’t had a client yet, or even if they’re like, super, super early, then it’s like, okay, but you have that clarity. So it doesn’t necessarily matter about like how long or what phase you’re in, it’s just the amount of clarity on where you’re moving. But then also even recognizing as a seasoned business owner, or brand new, like, if you have the clarity, and you get in there, okay, three, six months down the road. It’s okay to pivot. Yeah, it’s okay to, like evolve, like, know that your website is going to evolve, there can be tweaks down the road, but if you’re like, Hey, I’m an interior designer, I really like I want to do this business. And then like, three months down the road, you’re like, actually, I’m not offering this service anymore, I’m gonna become a coach, or I’m gonna be a realtor now. So it’s like dropping that much money into something that you’re not clear or competent one is, is going to be such a disservice for you. And
Erin Ollila 27:10
one thing I love that you said was like, trying to differentiate between like, it doesn’t necessarily mean like, Okay, I just opened my business doors, I can’t work with anyone, I can’t work with a professional. It’s really the, the amount of clarity you have. Because the funniest thing is one client. I’m just about to off board right now, as we’re recording this. She is 100% new to business like this is her first entrepreneurial turn, she is a VP for a really big company. But when we talked about what she was offering, what her services were, what her plans were in business, I will tell you, she had sometimes in our conversations, more clarity than people that had multiple businesses that I have worked for. She knows her end goals, clear as day, what we talked about were not there, there was no concern, really. But what we talked about needing to consider was that when it came to the Services page in specific to launch, we needed to be a little bit more general, in order to be successful. Does that mean she needs to be more general forever? Nope, she even knows now, six to 12 months from now, I’m going to make this page a little bit more specific, once there’s a handful of clients that have come through so I can test this method that I have currently come up with, to make sure that this is what I like to do, not just the clients. That’s the important part, right? Like, I think when people are starting businesses or pivoting to a new business, they think to themselves, well, will I get my clients the best result if I do this? Or will I sell enough? If I offer this way? Well, guess what, guys, we also have to determine like, do you like to practice this in your business? You know, I think a lot of times, and I can say this for myself, I’ve made decisions more like oh, this would be appealing if I added this to my offer. Or if I did that. But in truth it made made me feel less happy in what I was doing. And if I’m not feeling super invested into the project, I know that I’m not giving my best result. So if you’re in a place like that current client that I have, and you have all the clarity in the world, and you’re feeling excited about making this financial investment, yes, you can do it then. But I think you have to come into it from the mind frame of I understand there’s a lot of testing going on here. I understand I’m making the bigger financial commitment upfront. And then there will be some smaller financial commitment to follow up when it comes to the refinement process. But you know, like, a lot of the times I tell people marketing is very much like science, we have hypotheses, we do some testing, we get results from the testing, and then we make the changes based on those results. And in her case, this works. It’s going to work well I have so much faith in her and her business.
Katie O’Brien 29:54
Yeah, and I think it’s important to add to like going through all that like we kind of like we have to have this you have to have that And then you come to the chiropractor, but the people who are listening who are like, Okay, how do I get that clarity? Or how do I know? How do I decide on my business name and my service offerings or my any of that? I honestly, like the best combination that I’ve experienced is if someone is coming from a business course. So not like your design trade, or your coaching school or anything like that, like his actual like, how to run a business, how to get clear on your services, or they’re working with a business coach, who is helping them gain that clarity. I’m having a client starting next month, and it’s like dream scenario. And she’s like, Hey, I’ve been working with the business. I’ve been in business for a couple years and still kind of early. I’m working with a business coach, I just hired a copywriter. I’ve got my copywriting. I’m almost done with that. And now it’s time for my website. And I was just like, glowing? Yes, girl, you did it. All right, like, I am so excited. And I know I literally I haven’t seen anything aside from that first conversation that we had, but I know who she’s working with, for her copy. I don’t know, the business coach, but I could tell it’s like solid there. And so I was like, that’s such a good progression on, like, where do I start with this? You know, it’s not with the website, it’s with the clarity. And if you can’t get that on your own, or online, you know, definitely do that. Get a coach, hire coach hire, you know, sign up for a program, there’s so many business programs, whether it’s online business itself, or whether it’s, you know, digital marketing, or whether it’s, I don’t know, something for your industry even like helping people in your industry in your niche, helping them get that business clarity, the first thing that they’re going to do is okay, what’s your profit picture? You know, like, what services you’re offering? Who are you offering it for? Who’s your ideal client? So all of that is going to have the exact same thing?
Erin Ollila 31:47
Yeah, no, that’s so valuable. And, you know, yeah, I mean, just, I’m gonna just clap right now for that everything that you said is just so perfect, because, and I’d be I’d like to point out to like, while that client came to you, and in the right order, because they had the right people helping them throughout the process. I think it’s okay. Like, while Katie and I are lecturing you right now on, like, do it this right way. You know, we are so accustomed to our clients coming to us in the way that we’re mentioning, like Katie has clients. Yeah, all different stages. And I would say so many of Katie’s clients come to her and she’s like, so great, how’s the copy? And they’re like, wait a second website, designers don’t write copy for me. It’s so normal. So you’re not alone. If you’re like, imagining calling a designer, right? The second, it’s fine. We can expect this. We’re used to it. We can pivot and adjust with you pending, obviously, our timeline and everything, we’re to work with that. But if you can just start the process by being able to first determine your own goals. You know, I always like to tell my clients like when they asked me like, Well, how do I know this is gonna work? Or like, how do I know you’re the right person? And I’ll just tell them, like, you know, how, you know, if this is a success, determine right now, before you pay a penny for this, what success looks like. And then both your designer and your copywriter will strategically set you up for that success. But if you do not know what you want the end results to be, you’re not going to be able to, like determine whether you’re leading in that direction. You know, there are so many tiny tech things and advancements today that websites did not have 10 years ago. And I’m not dating myself here because yes, Google Analytics was around that long. But my point is like, Google Analytics is growing. Now there’s Google Search Console, there’s Google My Business, there’s sem rush, there’s a Harris does all of these tools that we can gain insight to say, Oh, yes, look, this SEO strategy is really starting to play off small but every month we’re seeing a very steady incline. Yeah, I can measure that now. Or for Katie, for example, just looking at like, how are people going through these pages? Like is this like client journey? strategy working? Great, we can see measurements, but it’s not these tiny answers that will determine whether ROI is really well spent, or well received? It is, what is your goal? And how are these people able to help you get to that goal? I think when people think goals, they think like, you know, maybe it has to be like, you know, like smart goals would be like specific measurable, although I don’t remember the rest of the letters of that acronym. But it doesn’t have to write like so in some sense goals for your web website could be things like not comparing yourself to your competitors over and over again, not being nervous to send your website along with a proposal, right? I’ve heard so many people say, and I’ve done this myself in the past, like, here’s the proposal but just don’t go look at my essay. And I’m like, well just take your site down then man, you know, you’re doing yourself a disservice of like, there’s nothing wrong with showing insecurities. I really try to be as transparent as I can be in my own business. But man, what an insecurity sure is that then being like, I have a website, please don’t look at it. Please, please, please, please, please. Yes, guys, this is so much it says to your clients that you’re not willing to invest on yourself. And I don’t mean just finances time, like, it says to your clients that like you don’t believe marketing is important. It says to your clients that like you’re not running a successful business because you’re not doing these key things that need to happen. So it could be very well, just as simple as you want this project to end with something that you are proud to show people with something that really speaks to what your business is. And something that you don’t have to babysit. If you think of like plants, there are plants that need daily attention, right, like they need trimming, they need a certain amount of light, they need to be turned, they need to be watered, maybe you can look at social media like that, you know other things in your business that really need just like moment by moment attention, I would say you want your website’s goal to be that it is working on its own, it’s that really hard to plan that you can stick in a corner that you can forget about law, maybe it’s a cactus, but you want it to be able to serve you because you know, sometimes people will tell me, I kind of want it to act like if I give my business card out at a networking event, people can come and look and gain a little more information about me, yes, that’s great. But let’s think about SEO, let’s be even more strategic. I want people to find your website, because they were never introduced to you, they didn’t have a need, they have a problem. And then all my goodness, they found you and you are the perfect person for them. That’s what I want your websites to do. So there are many goals. I mean, we that’s something your web designer and your copywriter can help you with. But by having that general idea before you meet with us, gives you like more of a clue on the questions to ask us to make sure that we can do that for you, for sure. And I think again, now here’s like, we’re coming to the end of our conversation, and we have to look at the actual financial investment. When clients come to you before you know they sign the contract or anything, are you able to help them determine what to consider before you can actually give them that proposal? What do you need from them?
Katie O’Brien 37:11
Yes, for sure. So if they already have a website, I typically will look at that versus like a starting off point during that conversation and just be like, hey, just to get an idea. Before I wrap up the proposal or be like for you like what are we looking at? Are we looking at, you know, same kind of structure. One big one that people don’t consider that like really does take a lot of time and effort and does add to the investment is your blog. So like, if you have 300 blog posts that you’ve been reading in the last 10 years, like do are those carrying over, like likely, and that’s going to add to the class aside from like someone just having like home about services contact, you know, like, that’s going to be a different price point than having, you know, a more elaborate kind of outline, kind of like you had said this services. And I’ll say like, what are your services? Like, what do you do? And if they say one service, but Okay, great, but we have one thing, but if they rattle off, like 15 different things, it’s not going to make sense to have one services page, it’s going to not be it’s not, it’s not gonna be effective for them. I tell people, yes, budget is important. I am super budget conscious. And however, with that being said, I’ve seen people hire the least expensive. And you know, then a year later or two years later, they’re redoing it, and they’re paying twice as much. And honestly, on the flip side, I’ve seen people hire people nearly twice as much as me. And then they come back and I look and I’m like, oh my goodness, wow, I’m really sorry, you had a terrible experience, right? Let’s make this right. Let’s get it right. So I do on our introductory call, we do kind of have this outline. But the way I set up my proposals is I literally kind of just have like a basic website. And for me with interior designers, like it’s your basic, you know, home about services, portfolio contact, and then from there, you know, obviously, you have the portfolio, and then you have your portfolio of sub pages most of the time it will so you have that featured project on its own page. And then anything else you want to add, like you’ve got more portfolio pages, great, we’ll just add that on as an add on for a small fee, you know, you have more pages, you want to add that blog page, you want me to set up your email marketing great. And so you can kind of, or you can on the proposal page, kind of just add those in. So you can see what that budget looks like. And a lot of times too, you know, depending if they’re like, Oh, we’re cutting in a little tight, or it’s a little close, you know, they might start simple. And then you know, three, six months down the road, they’ll come out come to me for like a VIP day and just say hey, can we add that blog now? Or hey, can you set this up? Or can we evolve or hey, I worked with a copywriter and I want to add a page, anything like that, like, again, budget is a big issue, you know, you know, start simple and then go from there and evolve like what’s most important right now and then look at it as multiple phases rather than like all of this has to be done at one time because I do have clients who are like, Oh, well I want to have a shop, you know here and it’s like a great one. Are we selling? They’re like, Oh, I’m not sure, you know. And so it’s like, okay, well, let’s wait. Let’s have that phase two, once we have that clarity. So I do I help them lightly with that. But I also know that it can, it can change for them, and it can tweak and they can kind of change that based on budget. And you know, what kind of what they want to launch with?
Erin Ollila 40:19
Yeah, I think what’s really important here is, that’s why I want maybe one way to determine who you’ll work with for both a copywriter and a website designer is who can you stay with longer term. So you know, my website as an example, or when I normally talk to clients, most of my clients come in for a website or website rebrand. And that’s great and cool. I love websites, I have a lot of opinions on them. So I like to work on them. But what they’ll find is after working with me for their website, that when they’re ready to make more of investment in other ways, they’re like, Oh, I hope Aaron can do this. And the answer is like, yeah, for the clients that I work with, I do do a lot of stuff. I just did a voice of client research project for one of my clients who wanted to build out case studies and testimonials. So I interviewed all of her clients, we did a survey for like additional types of people who purchase from like a shop or a workshop. We call those answers to be able to write sales page, we took all of the longer form answers and made them into specific case studies for each client. So those are things you might not think about when you hear a website copywriter. But because I know this client because I know their brand voice, because I’ve done all of that foundational copy work for them. One, it’s easy for me to jump in and do almost anything for them. But two, it’s also an easier financial investment for them. One because they’re comfortable and confident with me too, because we’re not starting from scratch. All right, Katie, I could probably talk to you about this for about four more hours. But I don’t think that people have the time listening to this podcast. So let us finish up with just a few of the questions that we have. I like to give people homework assignments. So if someone is listening to this episode, and they’re like, Oh, I love what Katie and Aaron says, What is one first step that they can take in order to get started with this.
Katie O’Brien 42:08
So I would say number one, get clear on your ideal client. What this is, is like just really getting like who is your dream client, and you don’t have to share this with anyone, you don’t have to put on your website, you don’t have to change all your social media bios, like, it’s just for you to have this clarity, like, Who do you want to work with? Like that, I feel like I mean, aside from what business you have, you know, but it really is who you want. And then even then sometimes getting clear on your ideal client first, can help you help your services evolve. So it’s like this is my dream client, how can I best serve them. And then that clarity can help you then get clear on your services, your offerings, your client journey, and so forth. And really kind of, you know, once you have that clear, ideal client profile, the ideal client clarity, you can then tailor everything to speak to that person, you’re going to attract different types of people to But ideally, you know, once you have that clarity, you are so much farther ahead than so many other people or that you were before, don’t compare yourself to be farther ahead than you were.
Erin Ollila 43:08
I love that. I really do love that. And again, it’s just what we’ve said about everything when it comes to making this decision process be open to the fact that this could potentially change, right. But if you’re looking with that end result, like the end, ideal client, even if it’s someone that seems so far out of your reach, you will learn so much about what it’s like to speak to the people on most stepping stones until you get there. And it will help you define all of this. This is just lovely. So if there is anyone in the online business world that you would love to meet, whether virtually in person, anything at all right now, who would you want to meet,
Katie O’Brien 43:40
I would say other professionals serving interior designers, so I can further understand not only their industry, but also what else is available to them. Because I have so many clients who are like, Oh, can you just help me with my dubsado setup, or you know, or my email marketing or my this or that. And so just to kind of connect and build this network of people that I know and I trust that can serve my clients? Well, kind of, like we said in the beginning and like to send those referrals, but even after we’re working together to help support them on their business journey. I think that’s really where I’m like, hoping to connect with more people serving the same ideal client.
Erin Ollila 44:21
Okay, final question for you so I can start putting you on the spot right now. What would you say are the three places that you like to spend your time most so home?
Katie O’Brien 44:32
Okay. I don’t like to leave home. My husband’s always like, oh, like the typical weekend away? I’m like, No, I just I want to stay here. Like,
Erin Ollila 44:42
I’m happy here. I actually like it here. Yeah,
Katie O’Brien 44:44
can you go? I do. I’m like my vacation would be and he does. I mean he’ll go. He’ll go on a fishing trip and then drop the kids at grandma’s and I’m like, why? You know,
Erin Ollila 44:54
can you tell that we’re both moms. I mean, I
Katie O’Brien 44:56
think like, should I preface this with I have a six and a nine year old right? Yeah, they’re great. I love them. But it’s nice to have that quiet home time. And then the others is like it’s just outdoors. I say, it’s funny. When I was younger, I’d always tell my mom like, I’m gonna live on the water but in the mountains and she’s like, that’s impossible.
Erin Ollila 45:16
If not impossible, like,
Katie O’Brien 45:17
wait a minute, you were thinking beach like I like my rivers and my mountains and I’m in West Virginia. So you know, anywhere outdoors. When it’s not too hot, and it’s not too cold. You can find me somewhere, somewhere out there,
Erin Ollila 45:30
and the rest of the time go to home. Alright, Katie, you have been such a joy to talk with. Thank you so much for all of the valuable insight that you’ve shared today. Everyone, we wish you the best of luck with your websites in the future.
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