Transparency, Discernment, and Running an Online Business with Maggie Patterson

An image of Maggie Patterson, guest expert on this episode of Talk Copy to Me, using a purple laptop at a cafe.

Running an online business is challenging. Rewarding—sure! But challenging? Absolutely yes.

From determining your niche, your goals, and the plan for your business to deciding who you should trust, hire, and work with…there’s a heck of a lot of decisions that go into owning and running an online business.

And even more than the decisions you’ll make are the opinions you’ll hear. I can’t go for more than a few seconds on social media without seeing marketing “experts” preach about what online entrepreneurs must do in order to attract a new audience and convert leads into paying customers.

But friends, you do remember my favorite two words, right?

It depends…It really does depend! There’s no one-size-fits-all marketing advice that works for everyone running an online business, and I think it’s time we have more conversations about transparency, discernment, and trusting yourself—and your stage in life—as you make business decisions.

In this episode of Talk Copy to Me, I had the pleasure of talking with Maggie Patterson about running an online business. We dove into the over-glamorization of entrepreneurship in the online space, the complexity of audience and list building, and the importance of discernment in business decisions.

From the impact of personal beliefs on business choices to the need for transparency and honesty in online business practices, I’m pretty sure we cover it all—or at least we’re talking about the things that a lot of other people tend to shy away from discussing.

Copy says: Listen in to this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast

Here is what Maggie and Erin want you to know about running an online business

  • How you don’t know what you don’t know (and why that’s okay!)
  • The role of energy, bandwidth, capacity, and neurodivergence in running an online business
  • How your season in life factors into running an online business
  • How to determine who you should hire and work with as an online business owner
  • Thoughts on income claims, hidden pricing, application funnels, and other marketing tactics
  • How and why business owners make themselves appear more successful than they are
  • How to be more discerning and pay attention to what’s happening in your industry
  • Understanding the underlying motivations behind why industry leaders in your space are making the choices and changes they are
  • How to know who the “bad guys” are in the online business world, and whether or not you should “out” them to your community
  • Knowing how your values influence your business practices and decisions
  • Why you shouldn’t compare yourself and your business to other businesses and competitors
  • Why hiring services providers for your business isn’t a magic bullet to making marketing work
quotes from this episode of the Talk Copy to Me copywriting podcast

Quotes about running an online business from Maggie and Erin

  • “[The online business space] has made owning a business exponentially easier. But at the same time, it’s over glamorized it. It’s made it seem super, super easy.” – Maggie Patterson

  •  “We talk so much about these very generalized business and marketing tactics. They’re not right for every individual.” – Maggie Patterson

  • “I would constantly have to remind myself that for where I was [the stage of parenting babies and young children and running a business], I was doing pretty damn good, and I would figure out the rest of it once I got past those stages.” – Erin Ollila

  • “It’s not about the person it’s about the pattern.” – Maggie Patterson

  • “I will talk about the pattern, because the one thing I will say about the ‘bad guys’ is I could name 20 ‘bad guys; sitting here right now, but there would be 20 more.” – Maggie Patterson

  • “I get why people are trying to make their business look like it is doing very well, but that’s not fair to the consumer or their peers in their industry. So I think that the biggest thing I can say…is the people that you’re thinking of—even your friends and your and your peers—probably are not as successful as they’re making themselves seem.” – Erin Ollila

  • “If there are things you’re uncomfortable with, you might want to vocalize it so that other people can understand…” – Erin Ollila

  • “The entire audience building thing has been greatly oversimplified in the online world. And it’s much more challenging than people realize.” – Maggie Patterson
Meet this episodes guest expert on Talk Coy to Me

Get to know our guest expert, Maggie Patterson
Maggie Patterson is the editorial director at Scoop Studios and the creator of BS-Free Business. With two decades of experience, Maggie has spent her entire career in client services and has been a successful entrepreneur for over 15 years. Today, she works with service business and agency owners to build bs-free businesses that put trust first in everything they do.

A podcaster and writer, Maggie is a vocal advocate for humane business practices rooted in respect, empathy and trust. She’s the host of the BS-Free Service Business podcast, and the co-host of Duped: The Dark Side of Online Business.

Learn more about Maggie on her website, sign up for her newsletter, and follow her on Instagram.

Get to Know the Host of the Talk Copy to Me Podcast Erin Ollila

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:

Here’s the transcript for episode 114 about running an online business with guest expert Maggie Patterson

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. The episode begins with the podcast intro and then jumps right into the conversation… [00:00:00] And I think I want to preface everything with like, I love online business. And this is why I talk a lot about these things because it has made Owning a business exponentially easier. Like when I started out content marketing was, I’m aging myself here, but content marketing wasn’t even a thing. I was doing more traditional PR and then content markets. [00:00:20] I was like, Oh, I’m going to do that and stuff. I want to write more . So it’s kind of interesting because it has. It for a lot of ways kind of democratized the and removed a lot of the kind of barriers into entrepreneurship and owning your own business. [00:00:35] But at the same time, it’s over glamorized it. It’s made it seem super, super easy. And in a lot of ways, it, it has really convinced a lot of people they should own businesses that probably would be much, much happier in a nine to five. So it’s really like this very glamorous, like, I’m going to make all this money on the internet. [00:00:56] I’m not going to work that hard. Freedom, the flexibility, and all those things are there, but there are tradeoffs. There’s personal costs. Like, there’s a lot of things we don’t talk about in that conversation that are truly missing. And I feel like that’s where I always come in and I’m like, hi, can we just talk, like, talk about all like the reality of this, not just the shiny parts. [00:01:17] Yeah. And that’s why I really, enjoy you because I think there’s a, , Something to say about the idea of being in business online for so long. And like you mentioned, I really am so grateful for running an online business. Like I, Almost don’t work with anyone local to me at all. So. I’m with you. I also love online business, but I think that, you know, what I noticed even with myself is I came into the business world being a writer, not being a business owner. [00:01:45] I have a, um, graduate degree in writing. I have an undergraduate with like a handful of majors and minors, and no one ever taught me a lick about running a business, like not a thing. So when I started. I was lucky to have freelance work kind of, , be the, like, test of whether or not I could do this. But my first lesson into , being an online business owner was freelancing does not equal running a small business. [00:02:12] And that took me a long time to get because I just assumed, well, I’m making good money, right? So I’m a business owner. Of course I am. But no, because I was completely reliant on my client’s schedules, my client’s budgets. Um, So many of my big brand clients would do, let’s say, like a year’s worth of content plan. [00:02:30] Like, here’s the project, here’s what we’re going to be working on. And then month nine, where I’m assuming my income is coming in for three months, they’d be like, Oh, we have to pivot. Like, so all of a sudden all that income would be gone. So I think that learning that lesson a few times was helpful for me to realize that if I wanted to run a business, I needed to treat my business like a business. [00:02:51] The reason I bring all this up, though, is not having that background in running a business and not knowing what to do I felt like shame, like, I don’t know what to do next, because I have been running a business, right? [00:03:05] Like we I remember being in Facebook groups and people saying things like oh, you know, like pitch 100 people and then you’ll get your first client or like send all these cold emails or like just Instagram DM all these people and I’m like this is not how other people run their business! [00:03:22] I say to my clients over and over again Like you have to think about like what is Sally with her like arts and crafts store on Main Street in your town doing? [00:03:32] She is not DMing all of the like moms in her local area and like pitching them Like to come and join a group so she can nurture them or get on her email list. Like if we can liken our own businesses to what people are doing like face to face and local businesses, I think that we could have a lot easier step into running a business. [00:03:55] I can’t agree more when it comes to the marketing aspect because this is where a lot of this goes wrong. We’ve been given this Much, much bigger set of tools. And then what happens is we kind of want to skip the business fundamentals, or we don’t really know the marketing fundamentals. So something like someone coming in and saying, well, just DM all these people, you think, well, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. [00:04:20] And I think one of the only reasons for someone like me that I did not. I still got sucked into some of this, not going to lie. But the reason I didn’t go too far is because I had, because of my agency background, I was doing a lot of business development. I was doing a lot of team management. I was doing budgets and forecasting. [00:04:36] So when I started my business, I had a lot of skills that I thought every business owner had, right? So then I started like. You know, I start talking to my friends. I’m like, Oh, most people start because they’re good at something. They’re a good writer. They’re a great designer. Um, they’re great at coding. [00:04:53] They’re, they’re great, you know, executive coaching within their corporation, but they don’t necessarily have the skills of running a business. And we seriously underestimate that. And I feel like that’s why all of the advice. We get advice. I’ll use air quotes. We have to really be discerning about it to be like, is this right for my audience? [00:05:13] Is this right for how I want to run my business? Is this aligned with my values? And is this right for me? We talk so much about these very generalized, uh, business and marketing tactics. They’re not right for every individual. Like I’m someone who is introverted. I have ADHD. I have anxiety, I have depression. [00:05:31] I got like a whole host of things. Certain things people talk about, like literally, there’s no way I could ever do that without totally causing, a serious drain on my energy and my emotional capacity. And I don’t feel like we think about those things enough and make better choices for each of us as individual business owners. [00:05:51] No, and I agree with you 100 percent there. Before we even started recording, Maggie had asked me how I was feeling because we rescheduled this interview because I was sick. [00:06:00] It wasn’t really until the past, uh, maybe year to two years that I really actually started looking at capacity. , I was previously looking at. Scheduling versus Capacity. So if I could put X, Y, and Z into these buckets of time that I had, I could get them done. [00:06:17] And let me tell you, for this eight years of running a business, I have always overscheduled because of my ADHD and poor time planning. Not, In the sense of I’m a procrastinator, but in the sense of I don’t, like, conceptualize time as a non ADHD person. So for me, if you say, like, oh, can you write these four blog posts? [00:06:39] I’m like, of course I can! That will take me 40 minutes, which obviously we know is not going to take, , for good content. But, when I was planning my schedule versus thinking about, My capacity, both in bandwidth of how much I could get done, truly in my business, and in the emotional capacity aspects, the life capacity of being a parent with children. [00:07:02] That’s when I really started realizing that like all of those years prior, it was very much survival. Even though sometimes it was okay because I was on top of things, right? But there’s a lot that goes into being a healthy business owner and that doesn’t get talked about very often [00:07:20] Yeah, and I think this is why we’ve seen so many of these conversations about burnout and people taking sabbaticals and people leaving their businesses and people like totally ripping their businesses apart and starting over because None of that has been accounted for traditionally in the way the business conversation is. [00:07:39] It’s a very kind of binary, like, do this, this happens, you will feel like this. And it doesn’t really account for our different identities, our different levels of capacity. , like you said, things that are happening in life. Like I had a five year span of dealing with aging and Unfortunately, passing away parents, like that absolutely impacted my ability to show them my business and do my work. [00:08:02] So, you know, you have to be able to figure that out for yourself and really plan. And again, it’s such an, it’s such a fundamental thing that we completely skip over. It really is. And I have, you know, similar experience with just, , having babies at home and still running a business on my own. I would feel so frustrated by. [00:08:21] , coaches or other business owners who were not parents and expectations of other people who, like, we talked about identity as being different, just because there really was no concept of what it would be like to be a parent and how our time is not, you know, The same as their time and I don’t mean that as a negative thing towards non parents in any way I the reason I bring that up as an example Is we all have to really consider who we’re learning from who we’re hiring and who we’re taking advice from even if we’re not paying them they’re friends or Because I know, you know, sometimes just even having those conversations, that’s where those feelings of like not being enough or like wondering, like if you’re going in the right direction come from. [00:09:04] It’s because people have these different life circumstances. So I would constantly have to remind myself that like for where I was, You know, with two toddlers at home, another child in middle school, , literally just felt like I was breastfeeding and not sleeping the entire time. With where I was, I was doing pretty damn good, and I would figure out the rest of it once I got past those stages. [00:09:30] But, It took a lot of reminding that whole time, you know, because I, you know, when you think that you have certain skills and you think that you’ve hit this quote unquote level of success and it kind of slaps you in your face because you’re like, but I can’t move past it. Or I can’t like, what’s the next step for me? [00:09:48] It takes a lot of effort to tell yourself that where you are is fine, and you will figure out, you know, the next right thing as you kind of take those steps. Especially in the face of seeing everyone, with their income claims or their, you know, crazy written testimonials that very often are not true, It takes a lot to kind of remind yourself that where you are is okay. [00:10:12] Yeah. I love that you brought up the parenting thing because while my child’s older now, , I re I remember like, you know, 10 years ago, I was listening to a podcast, super high profile, kind of what I would call a celebrity entrepreneur type and was talking about this concept of bending time and I literally lost it and they had like a. [00:10:31] Like, I was like, listen, said the bus comes at 310. There is no amount of quantum time bending, whatever you want us to do it. And the answer actually ended up on that podcast and was so patronizing. It was basically of the same thing we see today. And I think this is a really good thing for all the listeners. [00:10:51] Kind of , if you wanted it bad enough, you would. I’m like, I can’t change the time the bus comes. No, no, not at all. You know, it’s so funny you had said that. I wasn’t even thinking about like buses. I’m thinking, I was thinking more of the early days where like the kids were just crying, but this September that has just passed was the, my first experience of working for myself with no children at home for a period of time. [00:11:16] So when I started my business, I had a child that was already in school and an almost one year old, and then I had another child after that. And during that time, I also homeschooled some of those children while working full time. And while I will say it is. Absolutely way better than I expected. I don’t have time. I’m glad you think that I do, but I have to drive a child all the way to the other side of my city to get her to school so now I’m spending 45 minutes each way to bring her to school and bring her back. with other children to get on buses, and I swear to goodness there’s half a day is all the time. So I have at most three hours. Now, here’s where it gets complicated. The rest of the time, I’m supposed to be a present parent. [00:12:00] So I’m still working late until the night. And I, the amount of pressure that gets put on a person and have to like perform, especially when you create something like you understand with writing. You just don’t turn a button on and all of a sudden everything is perfect. Like, but the pressure to do that is still there. [00:12:18] So when people would say things like, well, you know, like if you don’t want it bad enough, I think that was the example that you said, like, you know, you have to do it, right? [00:12:25] And I’d be like, but I like, no, it doesn’t work that way. Look at your own capacity, like we already mentioned, and figure out what works for you and work with people who can help you with that. They don’t have to live similar life experiences. Like, you can work with a coach or you can work with a OBM or someone else, like a strategist, that doesn’t have children if you do, right? [00:12:49] It’s just that they need to be able to understand what what your individual needs are to be able to help you best. And you have to know that you can trust them based on the skills, experiences, and strategies that they have to help you best. [00:13:03] And I think a really good example, and I bring this one up as someone with ADHD, like working with someone who doesn’t understand ADHD [00:13:11] and I find, I’m always like, you say underhand ADHD, ADHD, but I don’t think you understand my special flavor. So I think it’s really getting to know, like, what is it that you really and truly need and being very intentional about figuring that out before you’re just like, Oh, I, I consume a lot of this person’s content. [00:13:29] I think they’re great. They might be great, but not great for you. Yeah, 100%. And I think that when we, when we’re kind of shifting here to talk about like who we work with in the business world, I think that one thing that I see done poorly because, , marketing and sales has been done well, is that people are not doing research anymore. [00:13:49] That they’re being sold to and I like, you know, you mentioned some things where you’re like, I’ve learned this lesson myself. This, this is something I also have learned where I’m like, dude, you’re a marketer. Like, why did, why did you buy this? Like you bought it because it was shiny and you could potentially use this one day. [00:14:06] Not that you needed this. Right. So I think that there’s. Something to say if you are starting a business or at any point in business is that we all have to kind of develop better, like, critical decision making skills and do a lot better research because, you know, for years and years, and it still definitely exists, but for a very long time, I would hear these stories of peers who were just totally getting bamboozled, like getting money stolen from them, from people getting like really poor results. [00:14:37] , Being preached to of all these narratives that really did not benefit them, getting prescriptive advice that did not apply to their business at all, and like I said, it’s still happening, but I think that the reason that it’s happening is because people are being glitzed and glammed by things like sales and marketing. [00:14:57] Yeah. And I think that there’s so many tactics that you, you mentioned income claims, whether you want to work with someone with income claims that’s up to you. But for me, that has become such a pervasive tactic that frankly, it’s kind of sloppy marketing. [00:15:15] Like if that’s the only thing you can bring to the table, I’m like, wow, you’re really phoning it in and it’s, it makes you sound like everybody else. So for me, that’s a bit of a, you know, a litmus test and also like. Well, why are you saying this? How do I know this is true? Um, and really digging past those things. [00:15:31] And I think you have to learn that all these tactics, so many of them are normal. Now they’re so pervasive. They are literally like part of the kind of family tree of how we, how things are done in online business, and it’s just. You as a business owner have to decide if that’s right for you, and then you as a consumer need to decide if that’s right for you. [00:15:50] And that might be in complaints, it might be the sales process. Like, I personally will never work with someone who doesn’t have their price on the sales page unless it’s like a custom service that needs to be quoted. You have a fixed, You have a mastermind or a course and I have to play like, get on a call with you, fill in an application. [00:16:08] No, you’re wasting my time and that to me implies disrespect that you think you have to coach me into this. I am a grown ass person. I can figure this out for myself. Thank you. Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think that, you know, when it comes to things like this, it’s, Like you mentioned, like we’re all so used to it now that it just seems like a common practice. [00:16:30] But I think of like being someone who works in other service like based business owners, um, back end of their business. I, I think for years and years, Erin is a very trusting person, right? So like I entered this online business world with these sweet rose colored glasses and I just like hugging everyone. [00:16:49] Everything’s positive. This is wonderful. And I fell completely into the narrative that if. I’m an honest person. Of course, other people are honest people, right? and then the more and more that I did see the back end of people’s business, or I talked to them for strategy calls where we were doing things like, you know, like, about improving marketing, the more I realized people present a beautiful picture on the outside. [00:17:14] And quite often, even if it’s not a specific income claim, what’s happening in their business is drastically different than what they’re presenting. So, you know, sweet little honest errand over here. At first, I just felt so like disenchanted by that because I was like, well, what’s happening? But then I think it’s the more I’ve seen other people’s business, One, we don’t want to look like failures, right? [00:17:37] Like we don’t want to set ourselves up to be like, Oh gosh, I haven’t made any money all summer. So I get why people are trying to make their business look like it is doing very well, but that’s not fair to the consumer or their peers in their industry. So. I think that the biggest thing I can say, especially when it comes to people listening in there, if they’re still comparing themselves to people or they’re feeling let down with where they currently are, is that honestly, the people that you’re thinking of, even your friends and your, and your peers, probably you’re not as successful as they’re making themselves seem. [00:18:13] And I think there’s been a rise of more transparency about this, which I’m excited about because I’m a pretty open person. Like, I will tell you, like last year was tough for me. This year is going much better. You know, the other years have been great. But like, even when I say that, I don’t necessarily mean that in an income base, right? [00:18:31] I still had a great number of clients. It was just so tough because I was sick, and I was struggling through it. So I, I hope that in the future, more people start to Step into that role where they can say, like, I’m struggling with this, whatever this might be for them, instead of always trying to keep this, like, face of their business being incredibly successful when things are not going so successful for them. [00:18:57] And I think part of that transparency is, like, Share the journey in a way that is helpful for other people. Um, I’ve seen, you know, and there, I’ve seen this a lot in the last few years, and this is not to knock people. Like a lot of the same people I have seen in past years who are very vocal about doing businesses in certain ways, you know, those things stopped working for them and. [00:19:23] As much as I appreciate the transparency to the next step in the journey, I haven’t seen a unpacking or a recognition of how some of those business practices impacted their clients. , I really would like personally, and this is just who I am, like I am the person, like if I make a mistake for a client, I am literally, and I don’t like calling people, I will literally call the client and be like, yeah, I messed up. [00:19:47] Here’s what I’m going to do. , So, if you’re gonna have the transparency, like, please tell the whole story, or, you know, I’ve seen a few high profile people kind of, like, be like, I’m, , peacing out, and I’m like, that’s great, you, there’s, you know, this industry is messed up, I’m leaving, and I’m like, okay, good for you, but, like, That’s easy for you to do when you have, you’ve got the bag. [00:20:07] You’ve already made all of the money off of the people. And now that it’s like failing you, instead of kind of doing something to try to make it better, you’re just stepping out while you can. And you still have the money in the bag. [00:20:17] And I’ve seen a lot of people talking about descaling their businesses. [00:20:20] And I’m like, okay, that’s great. I like, listen, I think. You get to certain points in your business and you need to change things. That’s great. But at the same time, can we have the rest of the conversation about all the advice you were giving that was not great? [00:20:35] Right. Let’s say someone was like, oh you need seven VAs And that’s the bad advice that they are giving and people spend all of this money like with subcontractors, contractors, employees of their business Realize they got really bad advice. Well the people giving that advice like What you’re saying should break it down, but maybe also, in addition to that, kind of share, like, how they’re moving forward from that. [00:20:58] Because what I see is, I’ll see some people say things to the effect of, like, Oh, well, I had to, like, lighten my staff slightly, and maybe even go into it to talk about why, you know, like, programs getting changed, but they’re not spelled out that. Programs were put away because they weren’t bringing in the income, because all of those launch techniques that they had done over and over again, all of those ads that they were paying for, all of these things didn’t work anymore. [00:21:24] So I think that where a lot of people kind of get confused is like, Oh, okay, like I did this wrong. Or, oh, okay, like I need to invest in this new thing now. But there’s so much that’s like not stated about it that it’s kind of like they can’t make their own determination for their own business because it’s not kind of unpacked more. [00:21:44] Exactly. And I feel like for me, I think it’s interesting, having been around in the online business space, there’s a lot of people I like very much and I respect, but I don’t like their business practices. And I try to, as someone who talks about the business practices, I try to untether those things from, it’s not like about the person, it’s about the pattern. [00:22:05] But I think the interesting point of the pattern I kind of see is, There’s like transparency around the things, only the things they want to talk about. but like, please stop with your like polished PR story. [00:22:16] I’m a former PR person. I always know when it’s being spun. Like, whereas I had the experience you mentioned, like last year was a tough year financially for a lot of people. And I literally just said point blank, my revenue is down. And like, I know the reasons it’s down, it’s because the economy, it’s because I said no to a big client engagement due to my mental health, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. [00:22:35] And do you know how many people came to me and were like, I just really appreciate that you’re being straightforward about it? Absolutely, yeah, because they’re experiencing the same things, right? You know, but like, they’re still trying to like, make their business not look like it, because they’re afraid of what that would look like for them. [00:22:51] So seeing other people do it gives them the like strength to kind of step forward, which is great. And it’s wonderful that you can fill that role for them. But it’s also, if you are going to step forward into that, like bring other people with you, right? You know, don’t just learn the lesson from the person who is willing to step up and say it, Make the change so it’s not just you benefiting from seeing something change. [00:23:14] Yeah, and one thing I think from a consumer point of view, I always look at things and I think it’s such a good question to be like, Why do I think this person is sharing this? Yeah, yeah. Are they sharing it for attention? Are they sharing it to be helpful? Like, what is the underlying motivation? [00:23:29] Because a lot of times once you ask that question, you’re like, oh, that’s really interesting. And then you start looking at how things are put together and you’re like, okay, yeah, now I see what’s going on. And this is not, this does not apply to me. This is not for me. And not everything that’s shared is going to be for us. [00:23:45] Yeah, that’s really true. And you know, one thing I don’t see talked about very often, but I always find is very interesting is the idea that some people know, like, I’m going to throw some major air quotes here, who the bad guys are in business, but not everyone knows who the bad guys are. So I have personally struggled with that myself of like, There have been people that I’ve, I’ve liked and I, you know, maybe interact with on social media. [00:24:11] And I think that again, those sweet little rose colored glasses Aaron wears, like, I think they’re wonderful. And then all of a sudden I’m like, Oh, they’re not that wonderful. So I think that there’s like a slippery slope of like, where’s the line that. You’re outing people for something that could be a big thing or not, right? [00:24:33] Yeah, and where’s that line of the you’re just not gonna give someone your money, right? Because I feel like Sometimes I see conversations, you know I actually just saw this in threads maybe like a week ago or something where a bunch of people were talking about like a secret We’re there publicly talking about something that went down and I’m like, oh, yeah, I have no clue Like I have no clue what’s happening here But the way that this conversation is going is making it look like everyone knows but they don’t really want to like come right out And say exactly what’s happening. [00:25:04] But I think the point is if there are things you’re uncomfortable with You might want to vocalize that so that other people can understand like well This is why I’m uncomfortable with this type of behavior or person or industry standard [00:25:18] it’s easy after the fact to point fingers and be like, Look at that bad guy! But really, a lot of those people pointing fingers are, are doing practices that are similar. Or they’re not speaking up, being honest about their feelings the entire time that it’s happening. [00:25:34] Yeah, and I think this is one of the things like I had to really grapple with, do I actually talk about the actual people? And from my point of view, there’s, there’s risks to that, right? Sure. Because A lot of times, well, nine times out of ten, these people have more prominence and power than I do. Yeah. And I don’t want to incur that risk. [00:25:55] . So I really thought really deeply about this. And I came to the point where it’s like, I will talk about the pattern, because the one thing I will say about the, you know, air quote bad guys is I could name 20 bad guys sitting here right now, but there would be 20 more. Sure, sure. And I think if we get into a name of like, you know, kind of naming and blaming, I don’t think that that gives those people any room to improve. And I mean, I have personally seen people that I know for a fact that some problem, what I would consider problematic business practices that have come to a bit of a reckoning and started to clean those things up. [00:26:30] We’ve all done things that were probably thought were okay and then realized after the fact, not so much. Yeah, and I think that brings me to like another lens is what I’m seeing a lot now as well, is people Judging the people who may not know or judging the people who Just don’t have enough information like oh my gosh, you still buy from them? [00:26:48] Yeah, they do because they don’t know that there is a problem or whatever, right? [00:26:51] so, it’s a very muddied, gray world to not really know. Like you mentioned, who it could be is not the problem. It’s figuring out what those practices are, and it’s why it’s really important to know your own values in your business. I think that’s another thing people don’t talk about at all. [00:27:10] I still don’t know how much to talk about it in my own personal business, but the one thing that I learned during like the pandemic and the end of the Trump presidency was that for me, I was seeing so much in the actual, like the world itself that just was so disenchanting to me. [00:27:27] And then I was seeing. A couple clients who had vastly different views than I did. And I, I personally really struggled with being able to take someone’s money who was so fundamentally different for me personally. So. I decided that I didn’t want to do that anymore. [00:27:47] But for me, it was just, you know, adding a value statement to the footer of my website, so it’s prominent everywhere. Do you need a value statement? No, you don’t. Like, I mean, maybe you want one, maybe you, you, you don’t, and that’s fine because it’s still like when it comes to this business stuff. [00:28:02] There’s no prescriptive answer. But if you are struggling with things, look at your own beliefs, your own values, and start to make decisions around that. [00:28:12] But if you don’t know what you believe in, then you don’t really know how to make these decisions, , or what practices to follow within your own business. [00:28:20] And I think, you know, 2020 was such a kind of a turning point for so many people. I know for me, like anyone who knows me. You know, has ever spoken to me, knows where my beliefs and my values are at. [00:28:32] Like I’ve never been quiet about that, but in my business, I needed to make it explicitly clear because I did not want to be in a situation where I had to be explaining my beliefs to people after the fact, [00:28:47] agreed. And , you know, part of that could just very well be that we’ve been doing this for a while, you know, so it’s, it’s easier for us to make that decision. Because I know that, you know, even prior to being in the, the, the dealing with that situation at the time I had thought like, well, how much do I want to say? [00:29:04] Like, what do I want to put on social media and all these things? And I just remember being like, Oh, you know, I got to keep this account, like my Twitter account separate from the rest, because that’s where I’m like posting political memes and things like that. And. The reason I felt that way at the time was because I did feel a lot more insecurity about my beliefs and sharing them public, and I did feel insecurity about how that would affect my business. [00:29:26] So, you know, while Maggie and I feel very strongly about these things, I do really believe, , it’s an it depends situation. It’s what you feel confident with. with, I think it’s easy to share it because it seems like a bigger example, right? Like values like that, that should be clear to you. [00:29:42] But when I say it, I really mean it for the tiny things too. Like I just saw someone talking about, whether you should have a sales page and Google doc. And I remember the first time I saw one a long time ago, I was like, what the heck’s happening here? Where I feel now is like, Why can’t you have a sales page in a Google Doc? [00:30:01] Who gives a shit where your sales page lies, right? Like, as long as you are, following good practices of , , Explaining the price, talking about like what they’re going to get from this experience and all those kinds of things. Why are we shaming Google documents? Right. Or, or vice versa. [00:30:17] Like, why are we trying to use them as manipulative tools? Whatever the case is. So I think it’s like even these teeny tiny little things where you develop opinions about business practices, pay better attention to those opinions because they’re going to make. A difference elsewhere. And that’s such a good example of something that you can’t just say all Google Docs sales pages are bad. [00:30:40] For me, I look at that and go, okay, like I’ve used a Google Docs sales page, but it’s because it was a beta offer and I wanted to move quickly. But if someone’s selling you a mastermind for 45, 000 that to me screams cash grab. Yeah. And it’s also one of those situations where you have to think to yourself, like, the other thing I think is like, why are you not paying contractors? [00:31:01] If you’re, if you’re going to charge one person 45, 000, you don’t even need that many contractors for one of your people to write great copy, design great pages, publish all these things. Yeah. So there’s many ways that you can drill down to figure out why people are doing things. [00:31:18] Yeah, and in that case, like, of someone with a 45, 000 mastermind that has been doing this a long time, that, to me, says There’s probably a structural something going on in the business or that the client experience is not a priority to them. Whereas I think if you decide you’re going to have a workshop for this topic that you’ve been researching for a while and you’re so thrilled about it and you are a single person business and you’re like, I cannot design myself a webpage on this like builder website that you’ve been using on your own and you just want to get all the details out and ship it off to your email. [00:31:51] Followers. Great. Go for it. Use the momentum to actually take an action in your business., I’ve only done one sales page on a Google doc and do you, you know why I did it? [00:32:00] I, I, I’ve been a copywriter forever, but I’m truly coming to copy from the content world. It’s very hard for me to not say a lot of words. Like I like words. That’s part of my ADHD too, is just over explaining things. So I had started to write my own sales page for something and I was getting so frustrated because we all know it’s harder to write our own copy than it is to, to write other people’s that I just started like writing as if I was writing a blog, like talking to a friend. So that sales page, the reason that like I ended up pushing it out the way that it was, is because it was funny. Like I was commenting on my own sentences to be like, but There’s a real reason why you should pay attention to this, right? [00:32:45] And then I had like a footnote somewhere where I wanted people, if they want to do more research into the claim I was making, go check out this thing that I’m sharing with you. So I pushed it out because when I read it later, I’m like, man, this is funny. I’m funny. And let me tell you something, that sales page, if I would have written it and posted it on my website myself, it would not have been that funny. [00:33:07] It would have been dry. It would have been uninspiring because I was already way too in my head. So I think allowing myself to create differently is what gave me the opportunity to create something that really truly was interesting. So I went with it. [00:33:23] You know what, this is such a good example, Erin, of how as a business owner too, like, You cannot compare yourself to someone with like a full time designer, a full time copywriter. [00:33:34] I see this a lot with my clients who are solopreneurs. They’re less like, well, I want a sales page like yours. I’m like, I have a designer. I have a team. Like, you know, this took three months. Like you don’t necessarily have the resources and the luxury of the time. to do projects at that level. [00:33:51] And I will also say one big thing that noticed let’s just say post pandemic, I had noticed is small businesses would see other businesses that have been set up for a long time, follow these practices and then invest their money when they should not be investing their money, when they should be DIYing, you know, one thing I will preach over and over and over again, is the power of things like copy coaching or having a copy editor. [00:34:15] All right. Marketing Work, because I’ve I will say when I take like discovery calls for like my higher priced copywriting or content writing work 90 percent of them are easy to close and those 10 percent The reason that they don’t close is me and not my client Yeah, and that’s because I know that they’re not ready and I don’t feel comfortable taking 7, 000 from them 10, 000 from them While they may have that in their bank account, they’re just not at a place in their business where they can see that return on investment quick enough because they don’t have all of these other things set up. [00:34:53] So a copywriter or a designer or any type of service provider is not a magic bullet to make, making the marketing work. You know, um, I think of some other clients that kind of struggled after we worked together and. What I would tell them a lot is, like, the copy is only one element of your marketing. So let’s say you write, like, let’s just pretend it’s content, for example, or a podcast episode. [00:35:18] You produce something that’s excellent quality. Do you ever get anyone back to it? Like, how are you pushing people to this content, right? If you have a podcast and no one listens, it doesn’t make a difference how great the audio quality is, or how well the editing has been done, or how professional your, like, tools and tech are. [00:35:36] The same goes for any type of, like, service provider work. If you have someone step in to develop systems for you, for example, I worked with someone when I first started to get my systems in order. And I remember they’re like, okay, so how do you do this? And I was like, aren’t you going to tell me how to do that? [00:35:52] Like, you know, to create SOPs and they’re like, well, I don’t know how you do it. And I was like, well, I don’t know how I do it either because I wasn’t at the place where I was ready to make their job better. I mean, I’m saying a couple of different things here, but one, Don’t spend your money until it’s money well spent and do the work yourself [00:36:13] like, it’s so easy for people to work with me, , the, the clients that I do work with one on one because they’ve done all the work and they know their business. They know how, how they like their marketing. So when they come to me, the process is smooth because they’re confident in what they’re asking for. [00:36:29] I think there’s an interesting point in all of that in terms of, you know, going back to some of the bad business advice we were talking about at the top is, We really, as business owners, need to, especially in the context of our marketing and sales, need to understand the sales page doesn’t do the job on its own. [00:36:46] The piece of content doesn’t do the job on its own. Like, the entire audience building thing has been Greatly oversimplified in the online world. And it’s much more like as someone who’s working on it constantly, like it’s much more challenging than people realize like this whole, like, Oh, you’re going to get a thousand new people on your email list. [00:37:05] Yeah, no, sorry. You’re probably not. [00:37:08] yeah, I was just talking with a client actually that this week about like building a list and she has zero lists now She’s been in business for a very long time, but working with more organizations than individuals And she’s been told and she’s been hearing podcasts and all these things about like the list the list the list the return on investment Yeah, return on investment is great, but one, in 2024, high level professionals are not filling out email forms for, for nothing, right? [00:37:35] And two, even when they’re offered something like a lead magnet, they don’t need a lead magnet like, we don’t need PDFs. So the transaction between sharing an email and getting something in return has to be high or the level of, how well they know the person and wanting to still connect with that person has to be very high. [00:37:54] So, I could write a really fancy section of that website page that’s like, Join my list because I’m so special. Obviously written way better than that. But that doesn’t mean people are going to actually submit their email address. So, it’s not just publishing a website page and having that field on the page. [00:38:12] You have to actually give them a reason, drive people to it, remind them of it, remind them for sure. 500 times about it. , and make sure whatever it is that you choose is actually aligned with the right client and their actual goals. Yeah. And I think a lot of what we miss in that is the person who is, you know, let’s say you’re targeting a director of marketing in a corporate environment. [00:38:35] That director of marketing, if they’re looking for like 12 ways to repurpose your case study, they’re not looking to hire you to do case studies. They’re doing it scrappy do it yourself. And I think that that’s often a disconnect for people, especially when they’re trying to use very online business tactics in other contexts. [00:38:54] I’d say if there’s anything that, We kind of, how we can end this best is really like my two favorite words. [00:39:02] I swear I said them for like at least the first like hundred episodes. Everything is, it depends. You have to really kind of look at your own business and make the decisions that are best for you. And if you’re struggling with that, because that’s something I struggled with forever. I’d hear, I’d hear even a conversation like this and I’d be like, great Maggie. [00:39:21] Great, Aaron, like, thanks for being so enlightened. I’m so happy for you. But what the heck am I supposed to do? , You know, I’ve fought against this, this lesson over and over again. It’s really the tiny baby steps. It’s not figuring everything else at once. So if it’s as simple as, you know, maybe you looked at my website and saw my value statement and you think to yourself, Oh, I would love to have something like that. [00:39:46] Go do it. Then you can be enlightened in other ways later. If you’re on someone’s email list and you feel really like, if you feel, if it feels really sleazy to you, Unsubscribe. You do not need to stay on as like a research tool, listen to Maggie’s podcast for that she, she does a great job of breaking down things like, what’s happening in the online business world and , why people are doing bad marketing in specific ways. [00:40:11] You don’t have to be the researcher. You could get your information elsewhere, but it’s more of Making those momentary decisions and working through them. And because that’s how you learn and that’s how you determine all of these things from the, it depends lens of whether or not they’ll work for your business. [00:40:30] And so much of the, it depends is. Like, why in this moment is this making me feel this way? Or, you know, you’re trying to decide, like, should I work with this consultant or strategist? Well, do they understand my business? [00:40:43] Like you need, just because your friend used them and had great results doesn’t make them a great fit for you. I really feel like here in 2024, like specificity and individualization are so, so important, both as a consumer and as a service provider or a coach or whatever you are in your business. [00:41:01] And just one more thing to add, I think that it’s also checking yourself. This is the example of, don’t hire a copywriter if you can’t afford it or if you’re not there yet. It’s, why am I making this decision? You know, like, if you’re, let’s say, you want to go into a group program because you have an idea of, like, launching an online shop. [00:41:18] Let’s just use that as an example. Okay. But how does that relate to your short and long term goals? Just because they’re offering a program that could be helpful. If you’re not planning to work on that in 2024, that doesn’t mean you should put aside the other goals and go join that program. They’ll offer it again, and if they don’t, someone else will. [00:41:38] So I see that very often as people like They’ll invest in things or they’ll purchase things or they’ll try to make their business easier by hiring out because they know it could be a shortcut, but there’s no shortcuts. So it’s aligning your actual goals and the work that you need to do with the financial decisions that you make. [00:41:58] And this is why I cannot recommend enough to everybody is sit down, create a kind of learning and development plan for yourself and budget. So, you’re like, okay, I want to improve this skill. I know I need support in this realm. Really thinking about that support, not just in, do I need a coach or a course or a program? [00:42:17] Do I need to develop skills? Do I need different support in my personal life so I need to pay myself a little bit more? maybe I just need to go some places and make some business friends. Like try to really hone in on what it is you need support wise and then aligning that, here’s my plan, like I am going to buy A course that I know is about for experienced podcasters. [00:42:39] And I’m going to focus on that for the year and making sure the money is set aside for that versus these kind of reactions in the moment. You’re having a bad day. This seems like a good idea. Oh, it’s not that much money. Okay, sure. I’m going to do it. My friend’s doing it. And then we make these investments. [00:42:54] We don’t do it. It’s not fit. We feel bad about the money. We don’t need any more of that in our lives. No, I agree. One question that I always ask is if you could give a homework assignment to the people who are listening, what type of homework assignment would you give based on our conversation? , the homework assignment I would give everyone is. [00:43:14] If you’re on social media and if you’re not on social media, do this for your inbox. What is coming into your view? Who are you following or subscribed to that make you feel like you suck, like you’re not good enough, like you’re not making enough money, like something feels off. [00:43:32] Get them out of your life. be very, very discerning about what content you are consuming and who you consume it from, because it has that emotional response, but it also will really mess up with how you’re making decisions in your business if it’s, if it’s not right for you. [00:43:49] Yeah. And I think that like along the lines of like the content consumption,, Sometimes I’ve learned that there are shades of it as well, right? So it’s not just this easy, like, Oh, that’s a person doing sleazy marketing tactics as an example, but it’s the idea of you might have someone who’s a good educator, but they’re a lecturer. [00:44:08] So they’re showing you why you’re doing things wrong on what it is you need to learn about. Friends, you do not need that in your life. There are a ton of incredible people out there who are also educating, but they’re doing it from a sense of wanting, like truly wanting you to learn, right? [00:44:23] . Get rid of all of that and then go through and just say like, what’s my emotional reaction to this? [00:44:28] Like, how does this make me feel? Because I think, you know, like to your point, that’s, that’s a huge way to kind of like remove some of the stressors that you’re experiencing. It’s just the content we’re consuming. Sanitizing the timeline. Like I don’t want to see that. I mean, sometimes someone will pop up and I’m like, no, unfollow, , because you don’t need that in your day to day. Yeah. And it really is that easy. Like it is that easy. If, even if you feel uncomfortable, let’s say it’s someone, you know, in person, like you don’t have to like, like completely like block them or whatever, but you can unfollow them. [00:44:58] You can mute them so that you don’t have to see any of their things. Yeah. And if anyone’s ever taken that personally, that’s about them, not about you. Like I literally have people that I like. No. In person who unsubscribed from my list, and I’m like, ah, maybe I’m not appealing to them anymore. Bye . And I’m so glad you said that though, because it’s so funny. [00:45:16] I have, I, I just unsubscribed from a handful of lists that I, of people that I like, you know why I did, it’s because I’m subscribed to them. I’m like three different places. Just don’t even look at your unsubscribes, like send those emails out. [00:45:28] Just keep. Putting your best self out there and truly I believe like the right people will show up if you’re if you’re Around the right people yourself and you’re doing something that to you in your business. You’ll get the best results. Absolutely. All right, Maggie. Thank you so much today that’s it. I never know how to end these episodes. So we’re just going to go with that right now. Thanks for being here. Thanks, Erin.

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