Showing Up Authentically in Your Business with Josh Womack
August 10, 2022
We’re all multifaceted human beings, and while we may do one thing professionally, service providers and other small business owners have various creative interests that inspire or light them up. But yet, we’re told that we must stay in our lane and do the thing that’s most closely related to our business.
But, we don’t have to do that.
In fact, if you’re at all interested in showing up authentically online and in your business, it’s vital you bring your whole self to whatever you do.
In this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast, copywriter Josh Womack and I talk about pursuing creative endeavors outside of our copywriting jobs, his new book, and how other business owners can go about being creative and putting more of themselves into their work.
Here’s exactly what Josh and Erin have to say about showing up authentically in your creative and professional pursuits
What Josh’s three-haircut-in-one-day fiasco taught him about investing in expertise
Straddling the line between in-person local businesses and online businesses and what type of marketing efforts work here
Long-form copy versus short-form copy and how they require different approaches
How an editor (or copywriter) can help make your story or marketing message better
The gift of constructive criticism in both creative and professional pursuits
How brand messaging and determining your marketing voice helps bring “you” into your business and marketing (which helps with showing up authentically!)
How to speak to all ideal clients with your marketing assets, but one type of client at a time for each asset
What we can all learn from used car lots about knowing your ideal clients, especially when your products or services work for a varied group of buyers
How it may take some time to figure out your own individual business values and what’s important to you when it comes to letting your personality peek through
The importance of slow marketing investments, and how they can provide in the long-term
Josh’s weekly practice and Erin’s monthly practice to ensure they are showing up authentically and being true to what they want to accomplish creatively, personally, and professionally
You heard it here. Quotes about showing up authentically from Josh and Erin
“Early in my career, I would get really nervous when my work was presented in front of large groups, because, you know, I think there’s a certain comfort every writer has just kind of being alone with their laptop in a Word document. But then, those words are kind of projected on the big screen, and it’s in front of eight to 10 people and those eight to 10 people are paid to poke holes in your stuff.” – Josh Womack
“I think in terms of…there’s a small business owner or entrepreneur… trying to figure out how they want themselves represented or how they want their brand represented…showing the warts and all is always a good way to go.” – Josh Womack
“When it comes to how we treat our overall marketing, we need to acknowledge that our clients have different needs, different pain points — and other different things. And then we should show up in a way that we can support all of those clients, just the individual assets should be targeted to the individual in need.” – Erin Ollila
Josh’s homework assignment encourages you to be creative
Specifically, allow yourself 30-minutes of uninterrupted focus three times a week to do something creative. What can you create? How can this time make you feel more aligned with goals? How can it help you with showing up authentically in your business. The answer is worth finding out.
Mentioned in this episode on voice of customer research:
Josh Womack is a Senior Copywriter at Progressive Insurance and author of the new book, “I’m not a copywriter, but … Lessons Learned from a Late Bloomer.” Josh lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife Lauren, and his dog, Dori.
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:
Want to know more about showing up authentically in your business? Here’s the transcript for episode 024 with Josh Womack
NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.
people, book, copywriter, marketing, business, copywriting, writing, website, bit, haircuts, pay, real estate agent, clients, small business owner, direct mail, minutes, write, year, put, feel
Josh Womack, Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila 00:04
Hey friends, welcome to the Talk Copy to Me podcast. Here we empower small business owners to step into the spotlight with their marketing and messaging. I’m your host, Erin Ollila. Let’s get started and talk coffee. Hello, everyone. Today I’m here to talk with Josh Womack. And what you may not know about him is that in one day, he got three haircuts. Yes, in one day, he says it was an expensive but necessary lesson in getting what you pay for. So Josh, let’s just jump right to the story. What happened with these three haircuts? Yeah,
Josh Womack 00:47
so like most guys, I didn’t prioritize just the quality of haircuts for most of my adult life, I think for most of us, the cheapest route is usually the best until it isn’t. And I found that out the hard way. One day when I kind of went to bargain basement chain haircutting establishment, I won’t say the name of it, but I think every town has them. But my hair was growing out in a weird way where the part was just sticking out a little bit. It was just bothering me. I just wanted to get it fixed. And I don’t know if it was my OCD a little bit or me just wanting to control things. But I went to the first place and the lady cut my hair, and the part was still sticking out a little bit. So I asked her, I said, Hey, is there a way you can kind of smooth out this part and just kind of blend it a little bit. And she tried and it didn’t quite work out. And she kind of just threw her hands up and said, that’s the best I can do. So I paid for the haircut. I tipped her because that’s what you do. And I immediately went across the street to another bargain basement place haircut place, kind of along the same vein, which probably wasn’t a smart idea. But I just figured, no way. This gets messed up twice. No way. So I went to the second place. I sat down and I told the lady I go, Hey, I go I kind of went to your rival across the street. It didn’t work out. So well. Can you help me out? She goes, Yes, announced. So I sit down in the chair. And the same result, she tried to do a little snip snip here and there, nothing really panned out again, I paid for the hair cut. And I tipped her. So I was about I was probably 40 bucks deep. I know, which isn’t a lot of money. The fact that I was owed for two at this point in the day was kind of nagging me a little bit. So I called my girlfriend at the time, who’s now my wife, I kind of explained my predicament. And she told me she was alright, she goes, You need to stop going to these type of places. And there was actually a really nice salon in the same shopping center that I was at. And she goes go to this salon, she goes walk in and just asked for the first person that they have available. She goes it can be an apprentice, it can be someone who’s been there forever. She goes, but go there and ask for help. So I walked into the salon, I kind of explained my predicament. And luckily enough, they had someone who was available in about 10 minutes, because usually what that place you needed an appointment, kind of the whole thing. But it was funny, like I sat down in the chair, and she smoothed it out in like two minutes. Yeah, like she just got it. And for her, I think it might have been five to seven minutes of work altogether. But again, I paid her I tipped her. So I’ve said the whole day probably ran about the 60 to $75 range. But the good part is I actually stayed with that lady for my haircuts for about the next three years. Until COVID hit but I think about that now. And you know, I think there is some truth in paying, you know, you get what you pay for so to speak. And that was just kind of a humorous lesson that I can look back on and kind of smile about today.
Erin Ollila 03:40
Ya know, and that, honestly, that I hear that and it really reminds me just about marketing in general. You know, there’s so many people, especially with the rise of the online business world, and people like the gig economy now, not to saying that people entering the economy are not well trained, because I’m sure there’s tons that are but it goes to show that as well. It’s really important to do your research when you hire people, whether it be an agency, a solopreneur, but people to work on your marketing to consider where their skill levels are, don’t necessarily just go for the cheapest option. You know, I think this could be said for any industry. I remember getting gutters on my house and trying to figure out what was the best approach. And there was a significant price difference between one of the companies and the rest. And, you know, our question was sure, we would love to pay like a good solid $1,000 less. But there’s a reason we think that there’s three companies, let’s say are close in range. And this one is not so we didn’t hire them. So I can’t say whether or not they would have been a good deal or not. I think that does play a large role is knowing the rates that the general industry is charging and thinking about skill level when you go to work with people who are service providers. The other thing that I think is really interesting, I forget how the meme goes but I’m always trying to like remind myself of this sometimes to that when it comes to like what You pay for, you mentioned that third person just fixed it in like five or seven minutes. But they had the skill to do that, right. So it’s kind of the meme that goes like you’re not paying me for the time or whatever it is, you’re paying me for my years of experience, because the other people may have been less experienced Who did your hair, but she or he were able to just jump right in and just get the situation resolved for you because they knew how to approach the situation that you were in. So it says a lot about customer experience, which is funny, because that was the last like series that we did here on the podcast customer experience. And I think the next podcast series we’re going to have after this brand new one is about investments. So you are fitting right in between these two series perfectly. Thank you, Josh. Yeah,
Josh Womack 05:44
I love those memes that you’re talking about, too, because there’s kind of an old story, one of my favorite books is called The War of Art by Steve Pressfield. And I reference it a lot in my book, actually. And it was just a huge influence on me, just how he wrote it, just the short chapters. I just really liked the style of it. But he tells a story about a lady coming up to Picasso, and asking Picasso to draw a picture of her, and he draws it in five minutes. And then when she asked how much it is, he gives her a pretty high price. And it’s the same kind of sentiment, you know, she goes, Well, it only took you five minutes. And he says no, it took me my entire life. Yeah, so I totally understand.
Erin Ollila 06:23
Yeah, I love that. Um, thank you for that book recommendation before we jump in. And we talk about our discussion today on really showing up as your true self in your business and owning your marketing from your own individual perspectives. I’d like to hear more about your book, because you’ve just recently published a book. So tell us the name of your book, tell us what it’s about. And let us know how we can get it to Yeah, sure.
Josh Womack 06:46
Thank you. The book is called I’m not a copywriter. But lessons learned from a late bloomer. And the title really goes into a phrase that I think a lot of copywriters have heard in their career when they’re presenting their work. And you know, they’re kind of showing their headlines and what they’ve come up with. And sooner or later, somebody will kind of chime in with a little quip of I’m not a copywriter, but dot dot, dot, I think the headline should be XYZ. So it was just one of those little phrases that whether you’re a junior copywriter, or whether you’re a creative director, there’s a good chance you’ve kind of heard that line. So I always thought it was just a fun little line that the title would kind of resonate with people kind of in the industry a little bit. And I just thought it was a nice stretch project. I didn’t know copywriting was a paying profession until I was 31. So I came to it a little late. But I did have some kind of experiences before that that kind of teed me up to views, unique life experiences to eventually go into my writing. And those experiences are unlike anyone else’s experiences. I think that’s the great thing about copywriting. Everybody is kind of coming to it with a unique past. And really, if you’re a small business owner, and you’re looking to hire a writer, or you know on the visual side and art director or graphic designer, you’re paying for that expertise for that person’s kind of unique background. And their background is obviously different from your background. But that’s kind of what gives each writer their edge a little bit. There’s another good copywriting book called copywriting is and it’s by a writer in the UK named Andrew Bolton. And he says good copywriting is a wink amongst screens. I love that line. I absolutely love that line. Because to me, like a good copywriting line is just something that maybe the customer won’t laugh out loud at or just the over the moon about, but they’ll kind of smirk a little bit and they’ll get it. Like right away. So a wink amongst screams. I just always loved that line. So yeah, there’s just, you know, little stories like that throughout the book. It’s on the usual stuff. It’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, Target, online, all that good stuff. But it was definitely a good stretch project. And being a writer, I’m always writing but I have never tackled a book before.
Erin Ollila 08:56
Yeah, it’s a huge difference, too. Yeah, I was gonna be my next question for you. Because you know, a lot of the times people when they find out I have a online literary journal that’s like being 10 years old this year. They’ll say like, oh, my gosh, I didn’t know you were a creative writer, or they, you know, when they find out about my master’s degree. And I think it’s hard to live in the world of creativity and copy at the same time. But I also think that there’s a beauty in being able to stretch your brain in different ways, not just necessarily a beauty of like the ability for you to do it to have that, you know, mental flex, but I think it helps your copywriting to, I think being able to look at a long form project, like a book really gives you the opportunity to change your perspective sometimes when it comes to different copy approaches. So did you find that writing the book itself was helpful in your day job of working in the world of copy,
Josh Womack 09:50
one of the things that it really helped out with was I write a lot of direct mail for my job, so it’s a lot of letter style format, snail mail, junk mail, whatever you want to call it, but that copy does tend to be a little bit longer. And that copy tends to have a lot of moving parts as well, you know, so if you’re writing for Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, you know, usually kind of less is more and something people are scrolling by. And hopefully, if it’s a good piece of copy, they stop and they read it for a couple seconds. But with something like a direct mail, you’re thinking about the messaging on the outer envelope on the front, what’s the back of the envelope, say? And then inside? What is the actual letter? Say? What’s the offer? What’s the savings claim that are going to get people to either visit the website or call the phone number? And then in addition to the letter, sometimes you’ll have one of those, you can kind of feel it through the envelope, but those little tearaway cards and do you have the right information on the tearaway card. So someone actually tears away that card, puts it in their wallet and then comes back to it. Two weeks from now can they get all the pertinent information from that tearaway card and I talked about it in my book, if you’re a younger copywriter or a junior copywriter starting out, I think direct mail is just a great teacher. Yeah, it’s just a great way to kind of know all the moving parts of a business. And if you’re a small business owner, I think two great things is it’s on the cheaper side. So it’s cost effective, and then it’s very trackable. So you can kind of see where you’re getting bang for the buck. So I advocate for direct mail, people may look at it as kind of like Jurassic marketing, or something like that. But I still think it has a place in today’s marketing landscape.
Erin Ollila 11:19
Now that it makes such a good point, you know, we’ve talked about a lot of things when it comes to copy and marketing that are more related to online business owners. But in some ways, like, you know, one of our previous series was on SEO, and we talked about the difference between like local, long tail short tail keywords. And I just think that a really nice marketing approach for a business that is mostly local, let’s pretend it’s a real estate agent, would be a mix of the direct mail. So that’s going out to the people that are in their local areas, they get to decide how that advertisement is happening, as well as the online approach of SEO local keywords for their specific area. I think that’s really like a good double edged approach to targeting the right people for your business at the right time. But I love what you said about direct mail from this perspective of the tearaway because I think that’s a lesson that goes for everything in marketing. I think people really forget how interrelated everything is, I had a discovery call recently with someone who is looking for sales copy. And because she’s launching a course, she already has other courses. So she’s not new to what she expects from a copywriter or copywriting in general. But the entire call, she talked about how much she hated her website and wanted to avoid people seeing it as they got directed to her sales page. Now, of course, if you do paid advertising on social media, or anything like that, you can direct them to where you want to go. You can remove a navigation bar on sales pages, but I don’t care. I will argue this until my death, things like website, what happens when you find a brand, a business? Anything, you look at their website, everyone does that. And I mean, that could be said for other things, you might check out their social media, you might check out join an email list just to see like, what the heck’s going on, you might put something in a cart to see if you’re gonna get a coupon code for it later. There’s so many interrelated things when it comes to the world of marketing that I’m not saying we have to be perfect and all of these things, but I do think that we have to look at them as a system that’s interrelated. I don’t believe that you can perfect the sales page with our people going to look at your website, there are many approaches that that person could have taken, right, they could just focus their time and energy on this, if it is time sensitive, if it is their main goal, make that a secondary goal of fixing their website later. So they feel more confident later. Or they could do it first, right? Like there’s so many different approaches. But my point is, you need to feel confident in most of your marketing assets, even if they’re not perfect. But you do need to make an effort in some of these big places, because they are so interrelated. So I loved even the idea of this little tearaway card, which a huge portion of people are just recycling right away, you’re right. But for those tiny portion that do actually pull it off, put it on their fridge, put it in their wallet, if they’re going to tear it off, they need the right information when they’re ready to make a move. And if it’s not there, then it’s a complete waste of time because they’ve already committed to take that card off. That’s like taking a completely cold lead and making it a warm lead. Just the fact that they ripped it off. These people are more primed to buy and if you can’t give them the information they need to buy then you’ve lost them at that point.
Josh Womack 14:46
Yeah, I totally agree. And you know, it’s a matter of all that information that might be on the sales letter. How do you condense all that down to fit on that little tearaway card? Usually, it’s you know, utilizing the front and the back of it. I like the example that you use of like a real state agent, because that is someone who whether it’s a real estate agent or like an insurance agent, I think a lot of their appeal is being in the community. Obviously, that means you have, like you said, a user friendly website. And again, it doesn’t have to be anything over the moon, you know, Squarespace or Wix creation works fine. But to have, you know, something that you can touch and feel at the same time kind of brings that marketing home just a little bit closer.
Erin Ollila 15:24
Yeah, I was talking with a real estate agent recently, which is probably why the profession popped in my mind, and we were discussing how important a website is, but especially in that field, there’s no strong call to action when it comes to work with them, right, you have other fields where you can purchase someone’s services right there on the website, where you can schedule them for things where you can even book a discovery call. And sure, of course, some real estate agents will do discovery calls. But in some ways for real estate agents, their websites are more of that resume, right. It’s like the landing ground to check someone out, to see if you feel competent about them to make a connection with them. Right. So then when you use things like SEO, one, what you’re doing is you’re just attracting people, especially in this instance of real estate to the local area instead of just referrals, because that’s generally how the world of real estate will work. They are finding you because they’re searching real estate, whatever location, but that can’t be your only approach, right? So especially because that website’s not that heavy sales tool, because it’s more of that visual learning about someone plays. So you do have to put in more marketing efforts in other ways. So I love the idea of direct mail being a really good example for someone in an industry like that that’s able to target their community and send them something in the mail, I think that they have a lot of a better approach than maybe some of the bigger brands you’re used to working with because they could write a really nice short letter that may get read, especially bigger brands, I think we’re so used to getting quote unquote junk mail that everything seems like junk mail, even though it may hold potential value. But when you get a letter in the mail with a real stamp on it, potentially, I guess not direct mail might not have a real stamp, I don’t know, maybe there’s a stamp on the back of the envelope, who knows. But like when you get something from someone in your local community, you’ll at least give it a chance. And like you said, it’s a lot lower cost of marketing effort, then some other potential ways to target customers. So I love that idea. So many real estate agents listening, we’ve just figured out your plans for
Josh Womack 17:33
you. Yeah, who would have thought that conversation with turn that way? But they did. Yeah.
Erin Ollila 17:37
So I am really appreciative for everything that we just talked about. One thing I love that we discussed before is that you’re coming from a place of really believing that everyone has their own story, their own skills and their own ability. And they can either bring that to the writing themselves as the writer or just show up as the way they’d like to as a business owner, even if they’re not the one doing the writing for themselves. So can you talk a little bit more about that maybe like, you know, where you’re coming from understanding that everyone has their own individual perspective.
Josh Womack 18:09
I mean, I can speak to it, you know, obviously, being in a creative field, you kind of see everyone’s personality kind of peek through in their work, a little bit I talk about in the book a little bit is I remember early in my career, I would get really nervous when my work was presented in front of large groups, because, you know, I think there’s a certain comfort, every writer has just kind of being alone with their laptop in a Word document. But then, you know, when those words are kind of projected on the big screen, and it’s in front of eight to 10 people and those eight to 10 people are paid to poke holes in your stuff, there used to be a monthly meeting I was at, I used to call it the firing range. Because literally, it just felt like everyone was just trying to kind of shoot you down or shoot your ideas down or shoot your writing down. And it really wasn’t that I mean, they were just trying to make the creative better, obviously. But sometimes that can be a hard pill to swallow, especially early in your career. But I think in terms of there’s a small business owner or entrepreneur, like trying to figure out how they want themselves represented or how they want their brand represented kind of showing the warts and all, it’s always a good way to go. There are certain things that I don’t do well at all. And that’s why I lean on other people to help me. So when I think about when I was writing my book, my editor, she was an absolute godsend. I knew I would need an editor for the book, but she really had a way of structuring things to where they made sense. She would read a paragraph and say, or read a chapter and she’d say, you know, I liked this chapter, but I don’t think it quite belongs here. I think it belongs, you know, kind of lower over here. And I think what she did really well, too was and I love it because Stephen King talks about this in his book on writing. He always says the show your book to a couple people what he calls the IR and the IR stands for ideal reader. So who is the ideal reader, you know, that’s going to be perusing your book and that’s what a good editor does. They’re kind of coming at it from just Each chapter deliver value. And the same can be said for a small business owner. What’s the value that obviously you’re providing? Who is that? Maybe that I see who is that ideal customer? And does your you know, I know we were just talking about sales copy and you know, a website. But do those things kind of reflect things that will appeal to that ideal customer? As long as you’re upfront and honest with what your capabilities are? I do think that goes a long way in, you know, creating a good relationship.
Erin Ollila 20:26
Yeah, no, I love everything that you said, I feel like I could go five different directions right now that one thing it reminded me of is just my days in my creative writing programs, you know, undergrad, and my graduate school is you’ve mentioned the firing squad, we would workshop in most writing programs, compared to like English language arts studies, as a master’s program, there’s not really much classroom time, there’s more workshop time. So you write the work, and you bring it to a workshop that’s led by a professor and your peers in the workshop, as well as your professor workshop, your work, and you do need to learn how to develop a thick skin. But I think that’s one thing I’ve always said that I’m so fortunate at, in some ways, I’m not the best with criticism. But when it comes to constructive criticism, I feel like I could just take it all, because I look at it more as a gift, right? Oh, you helped me a lot like, wow, I didn’t see that in my own writing. Or you’re right, the structure of this doesn’t make any sense. Maybe if I add the end to it, where the beginning is, that entices the reader Morse, I say that from the Creative Writing perspective. But I still see that in the world of copywriting. And in my own business. One, when I’m delivering full drafts to my website, clients, we’ll do it together on a call. And we’ll go through the entire website. So I’ll talk about why I made decisions. So sometimes they’ll say like, Well, why is this here? Like, I thought when we originally planned it, we were gonna put, let’s pretend the lead magnet at the bottom of the page. So I’ll say Well, right now, I moved it up here because of whatever the reason is. So it’s nice to be able to see them have the aha moments of like, oh, this is why it’s done. And if there’s something there, like, I just don’t feel right about this, then we can talk about it. I’m not being criticized my worth, as a writer isn’t being criticized. What happens in those instances is, that’s where we bring in the client’s voice. That’s where we bring in the things that ring true to how they would say it, how their business is reflected in the world. So in some ways, I’m very fortunate that I had that experience in a writing program to set me up for the work that I do right now with my clients. But I think another way that could potentially be good for people who are more on the DIY perspective, is to consider if you can’t afford to hire a copywriter, whether it be for sales copy, or your website, or direct mail, like any type of work that you’re looking to hire someone for, maybe hire someone who provides audits would be a great starting place for you. Because I’ve worked with so many people who either financially or because they were just truly interested in copywriting. They didn’t want to hire me for a whole website. But when I was able to audit, like the site that they currently had, or the draft that they had, they could take their draft or their you know, published work to a completely new level, because they were having someone else’s trained eyes on their work. And it was easier for them to jump in then and start making the changes. Because what they couldn’t see in their work before, they were now able to see through someone else’s eyes. So I love that your editor was able to give you that experience for yourself. And I really do think you have to look at who you align yourself with so that you get the best results for your own personal goals. I’m a firm believer that when it comes to marketing, you don’t necessarily need to hire out an entire marketing team for your business. There’s a lot that you can and should do on your own. And then for the things that you can’t, that’s when you bring someone in on your team.
Josh Womack 23:54
Yeah, I like that idea of an audit because it gives the client just a little bit of a nudge. Yeah, it kind of says, okay, like this part of the website is working. Maybe this part’s not maybe we can simplify it sometimes with writing too. It’s not necessarily that you have to add anything, sometimes you just have to delete stuff.
Erin Ollila 24:12
Absolutely. And especially when it comes to things online. Again, it could be any type of marketing asset, you know, I think people feel like they need to over explain because they’re coming at it from the perspective of I need to address all levels of readiness, I need to address all levels of awareness. And that is not the truth at all. I mean, in some ways, maybe a sales page, maybe right? But for other things like you can’t write a blog post to every single person that could potentially read that blog post, right, I fall in the camp that we all have multiple ideal clients. So I don’t like the idea of one ideal persona. But the only way I would adjust that is when we are creating specific content assets. Let’s focus those assets on one of those types of our ideal clients because I always say this people are gonna get so Have this description that I gave here, but it’s like if you go to a used car lot, they don’t just sell minivans to soccer moms, right? Like, that’s just not how it works. I would actually kind of love to see something like that. Right. Like they don’t have like midlife crisis convertibles, right? They sell to everyone. But yeah, when someone walks into the lot, and the salesperson sizes them up, ask them a few questions about their general life and the type of card that they may need. Yes, they’re going to target the sale for that specific type of person. So if we look at our marketing assets individually, let’s target those specific types of clients. Right? Like, if you happen to be someone who targets two moms, and you know that mom has like six kids, you’d put her in the minivan, right? Well, when it comes to how we treat our overall marketing, we need to acknowledge that our clients have different needs, different pain points and different things. And then we should show up in a way that we can support all of those clients, just the individual assets should be targeted for the individual in need.
Josh Womack 26:01
Yeah, that’s a great point. I remember when I was writing the book, I mean, obviously I wrote it for copywriters, but it was funny, like, after it had been out a little bit, a couple of people reached out and they said, Well, I think this might be able to help people in any career, just as they’re starting out, because there is kind of like, get that first big kid job out of college, you’re going to encounter some feedback and some constructive criticism, you know, if you’re not kind of used to that it can sting a little bit. And it can feel kind of personal. And especially for creative types, it can almost feel like an attack on your character, when really that’s not the intent at all, it’s obviously to make you better, it’s to make your creativity better. A good thing to keep in mind is there’s kind of different ways to skin a cat, so to speak. And with those marketing plans to I mean, you’re right. It’s not like you’re speaking to one person, you are trying to solve their problem, you know, at least in that small way that you can.
Erin Ollila 26:53
Yeah, absolutely. And one thing I wanted to touch on that you just said, because it was one of those five things I said I could talk about before, something else you had said was the mindset issue, right. So for those people creating content on their own, or even hiring it out, they have to then make that content live to the world to their clients. And I think that’s a big leap, even for people who may be experienced within their business. Because what happens is, you’re making a commitment. And if we’re gonna bring it back to the like, you know, showing up the way that you want to be within your business, you’re making a commitment to showcase yourself or your business in a particular light. And you’re gonna kind of have to live by that once you make that choice. So I think it’s really important when you know, we’ve talked about branding on these previous episodes to think again about well, what is important to my business? Like, what are the values that I want to showcase within my copy and my marketing efforts? What are some things? Am I okay, not doing even within stuff, like I always tell people, you don’t have to be on every single social media platform. You don’t have to email every single week, you need to figure out what is best for your own individual business. So there’s lots of questions that I could say here, but like work through these type of branding questions to figure out what’s important to you, what is the best way that your own personality can come through. But to bring it back to what you said, once they’ve figured that out, there is a little bit of a hesitation to live up to those things. And I want to acknowledge that that is a very normal thing. Again, I’ve seen people new to business have these feelings, and see people in business who have made a lot of money, and are very experienced have the exact same feelings as they either offer something new or adjust the way that they portray their true values in their business. So the first thing is, it’s normal. It’s okay. But I guess the second thing is a push to say like, don’t let that hold you back.
Josh Womack 28:50
Yeah, it’s funny you say that because especially for a small business owner, where it might not be your typical nine to five job, it might be a 6am to 8pm job where play all the roles of your company. I think one thing that’s kind of helped me a little bit as I’ve gotten older, is I kind of have like three pillars that I kind of live by a little bit. So I keep a Word document on my computer. And it’s basically three things I call it health people projects. And it just started out a couple of years ago where I just started to jot down I guess you could call like my weekly action items, you know, for the week, and I started jotting it down in like a yellow legal pad. And somewhere along the way, I just turned it into a Word doc. But really what that did, I always noticed that I would put the health things at the top, how much time did I exercise that we did I remember to go to my dentist appointment, and I remember to refill my prescriptions. And it seemed like whenever I would jot that stuff down, it was always kind of like one two or three on the list. And that for me provides a little bit of a, I guess you could call it like a North Star and I put health first because I feel like if I don’t have that I can’t be of service to people or people projects with people sometimes it’s something as simple as, you know, remembering to call my mother, or just remembering to, you know, text a friend or things like that. And then projects are kind of what they sound like. They could be work projects, they could be civic projects, things like that. But in terms of keeping things in perspective, I think that helps people projects, I guess you could call a little bit of a diary, so to speak, kind of helps me put everything into perspective.
Erin Ollila 30:24
Yeah, I love that that’s a really smart way to approach once you know, the things that are important is making sure you’re actually living up to those things that you’re showing up for yourself, and for other people in the ways that you want to, I’ve always picked a word of the year. I mean, I’ve done this since like 2011, or 12. And until the past year or two, I would get about a good quarter way through the year feeling pretty confident with myself. And then I’d remember at the end of the year, and you know, beat myself up a little bit and then try again. But one thing I started doing was putting notes in my calendar, like every three weeks or so that says like, this is your Word of the Year, how have you been living up to that, and I need the tasks and the reminders and things if I don’t see it, it’s just not necessarily top of mine, I would say I’m doing a really good job this year of like, the effort that I’m putting in without the reminder. So maybe I’m just evolving as a human. But regardless of that, it is still nice, even a couple of times throughout the year where I got that reminder that came up, you know, as if I had an appointment. And I was like, you know, I’m really done anything. So it was helpful for me to be able to put that into a practice of reminding me to show up in a specific way.
Josh Womack 31:30
What if some of those words, Ben, if you’re comfortable sharing
Erin Ollila 31:33
Yeah, no, this words year is due. Because I can ideate for years and years and years. And I don’t necessarily follow through on the things that I ideate I’m pretty sure last year was systems I could be slightly off it could have been processed. But I can explain that because they work together. I recognized about four years in my business that I wasn’t really working on my business at all, I was so fortunate to have so many referrals, which is a lovely place to be in business, especially in a creative or service providing world. But in true marketing form, I think we need to let everyone know that referrals are only as good as they have people to refer you to. And, you know, I might have a client that has three or four business friends that they run and they cheerlead, me too. And eventually, at some point, those business friends hire me. But they’re not going to like call their mom and their cousin and their sister and be like pay Aaron all the money you can to write things for you, right? It’s just not practical. So it’s lovely to be in business for a while with constant referrals. But I do think everyone should truly focus on a consistent marketing plan throughout that referral time. Because one, it helps bring people into your network, you don’t even know, right? I like referrals, because in general, if you have a lovely client, they generally know other lovely people. So that’s great. But I still like to meet new people. So that systems came up last year because I was really trying to focus on things that I could do to feel better in my business things that I could do to provide a better client experience to my customers. I’ve written about customer experience for a long time for Oracle, and I felt like well, I’m spending years writing about this, I need to put this into action. Even in my own house. I’ve mentioned earlier that I have ADHD. So like little systems that I could set up to make things run smoother for me versus me trying to like recreate the wheel all the time to do the things that I did. So I think last year was pretty successful. But then moving that to this year with the word do I think I recognize so many areas of my business or in my life, have once I started to put those systems in play, and I started to see how I like to show up what I like to do what was fun for me, I realized that there was a lot of ideating happen, even family vacations. As silly as that sounds. I’m like, oh, I want to go to these six places. But yet I’m not booking the trips. So I decided this year is just going to be the word do my husband randomly found a waterpark sale, somewhere local to us. And I’m going to be honest with you, I did not want to go the idea of water parks are just not fun for me. I live on the ocean and ponds and everything near me and pools. I would just rather be with the people I want to be in bathing suits than like 500 people I don’t know. But my kids would love that. So I just you know, the second he found it I was like well, it’s on sale. Cool. Buy it. We went for one night. And it’s that’s me putting in practice that do affect in personal life. The same thing for professional I’ve wanted to have a podcast for probably two or three years. And I just started this last December with the true episodes launching in January. So I think I’m doing a pretty good job with my word. But again, having those reminders having a system I think is really helpful for me to be true to what I want to do the goals I’m setting for myself and then show up for them in different facets of my life.
Josh Womack 34:55
That’s great. I mean, whether it’s a podcast or a book or whatever passion project You know, I think people have, I feel like a lot of us are very impatient. So that was, I think a challenge for me is writing a book, you have to be patient and persevere and, and it’s a patient endeavor and an impatient world. Yeah, that makes sense. So I think a lot of people think that, oh, like, I’ve always wanted to write a book, or, Oh, I’ve always wanted to start a podcast. And then if they don’t have success with it right away, then it can feel kind of defeating. But if you can train yourself a little bit, to just kind of chip away at it, I think that’s a good way to go. I mean, sometimes I’ll only get 150 or 200 words down, you know, I’m already starting with my second book. And sometimes if I can just get 100 words, that’s kind of a small win for the day. So if you can maybe bring it back to your word a couple of years ago, systems, if you can kind of create those systems with kind of small victories, then I think you’ll be on your way.
Erin Ollila 35:50
Yeah, I would say one of the core tenants of my brand in general is the word consistency. And I will harp on this to my clients all the time. Like, you didn’t have 100 word yesterday. So why is 100 words a failure? 100 words would be something that we’re celebrating, right? And you mentioned about like, fast and slow and impatient and all these things. But I think that in some ways online marketing has makes us feel like defeated. Because we see things like social media that happens like at the spur of the moment, as quickly as you can read it, it’s gone. And I think the best financial investments you can make for your business are the slower marketing investments, people come to me, they’ll be excited about SEO, the very first question I get is like, how long does it take, and I’m like, Just please, let’s pump the brakes for a second, it’s going to take a little while you knew that don’t try to fool me and act like you didn’t your hope. And I’m going to tell you, it’s not going to take a long time, it’s going to take a little while, but it’s always going to serve you. It will always help you imagine if like a blog post, or even just a website page that you optimize, gets you a client two years from now, because they had a need that they found your specific page for. That’s wonderful. That’s like you do work now. So you can be better served later. And I just think that we should really consider showing up consistently taking tiny efforts consistently. And then even when it comes back to the discussion of like, you know, living with your values showing up as who you are. Those little inputs as you work through your business. If you’re worried about like the mindset approach or feeling nervous about being seen, once you put your work out there, then dip your toe. That’s it, just dip your toe and continue to dip your toe and you’ll see success through that.
Josh Womack 37:32
It’s funny, that’s one of the like the first chapters that I wrote about in the book where there’s a really good podcast a couple years ago, Jerry Seinfeld was on the Tim Ferriss podcast. And Seinfeld talked about his daughter, I think being in college or grad school, and she’s going to school for I think, screenwriting, so she’s kind of following in her dad’s footsteps a little bit, maybe not from the comedy angle, or from the writing angle. But even though she’s got the genes of a comedic mastermind, like Seinfeld, he talks about her struggling to sit down to actually do the work. And one time she said to him, she goes, Well, I can’t write today, I’m not focused. So tomorrow, I’m just going to sit down and write for eight hours. He looked at it and he goes, Listen, he goes, nobody writes for eight hours. He goes, Shakespeare has never written for eight hours. Yeah, he goes, right for 30 minutes, he goes, and then if you can do 30 minutes, the next day, he’s like, that’s a good start. That’s a story that I always, always enjoy, because Seinfeld kind of has that famous story about he uses a wall calendar. And everyday he writes, he just puts an X on that date. And if you can string together, two or three weeks of all x’s, then you made some real progress. Yeah. So yeah, that’s the story that I don’t know always kind of makes me smile.
Erin Ollila 38:40
Yeah, I love that. Thank you so much for your time. But before I let you go, I always ask people a few questions at the end of every episode. The first one, we can cheat that if you’d like if I don’t want to put you too much on the spot, because I feel like in some ways, we’ve answered this throughout the episode. But if you could give the listeners one small homework assignment, based on what we talked about in this episode, what would you give them?
Josh Womack 39:02
Okay, I would give them the assignment of those 30 minute writing blocks. It was funny, just yesterday, I finished the book, Deep Work by Cal Newport, I would say if you can concentrate on something for 30 minutes, three days a week, you know, and I know people are busy, they have kids, they have responsibilities. But it doesn’t have to be writing either. It could be painting, it could be reading, but first three times a week for 30 minutes. Try to do something where you have uninterrupted focus and see if you can keep that going.
Erin Ollila 39:34
Yeah, I love that. Next question is if you could be connected to anyone in the professional sphere, who would you want to be connected to right now?
Josh Womack 39:43
Wow, I love this question. I’ll go back to somebody I mentioned earlier. And that’s the author Steve Pressfield. Like I said, he wrote The War of Art. He also wrote another book called Turning Pro, which is great. It’s kind of like a trilogy. It’s The War of Art turning pro and it’s called do the work. Because the third one, and the reason why I say him is because before he became a writer, he was a truck driver. He was a truck driver for a lot of years. And he also, I think, did apple picking to kind of supplement his income. And he did a lot of things before he actually sat down to write. So his career has been really interesting. He was a copywriter than he was a screenwriter than he was a novelist. But he always talks about those jobs that he had before writing as being his shadow careers. He knew he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing at the time. But then one day, he finally sat down, and he dusted off. I think it was an old Corona typewriter. And he just started writing. And he was able to concentrate on writing for 30 minutes or an hour and just build off that. So yes, Steven Pressfield is kind of like my white whale.
Erin Ollila 40:50
That’s awesome. I really love that question. I started asking it originally, because I just love to connect people. So I thought, well, that would be a fun way to end these episodes by ask like, who they could be connected to, and then we can maybe share the episode with them. But what I really love about this question is, the answers are so varied, we’re probably in the 20s of the episodes at this point. And I’ve asked it for the majority of them. And I’m getting different answers all the time, like different types of people. Sometimes it’s not necessarily people, but it’s like a specific person, but it’s an idea of who the person could be. Sometimes they’re related to how they could help that particular person in business. Sometimes they’re like the complete opposite of this person, but they might be admired. So I just really love hearing who people choose. And I think you have a great choice there. Final question. This is always the random one that I pick on the spot. So I think I got a good one. I really love that you’ve shared so many different book suggestions throughout the episode. Most of them have been business book flow. So if you could share one book suggestion or multiple, I don’t want to put you on the spot with the number. But if you had book suggestions for the audience that were not business related at all, what would they be?
Josh Womack 41:57
Okay, a really good book. You don’t have to be a fan of stand up or comedy. But I think it’s a good book, regardless. But Steve Martin’s book is called Born standing up. And it’s really, really interesting because most of us know Steve Martin from you know, Father, the bride and things like that. But his tail is really interesting, because at the height of his stand up when he was doing arenas and whatnot, he just stopped cold. And he just never looked back. It’s interesting, because in the book he talks about, he feels like he’s not really like describing an autobiography, but like describing somebody that he used to know.
Erin Ollila 42:34
Yeah, a different version of himself. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Different
Josh Womack 42:37
version of himself. And it’s just really, really interesting to hear his thought process. And just to hear how he kind of looks back at that time. So born standing up by Steve Martin is definitely a good read.
Erin Ollila 42:48
That’s perfect. Thank you, Josh. So everyone who’s listening, Josh has been kind enough to offer one of his books to one of our listeners. So if you head on over to Instagram, the day that this is live, you will see a post where you can answer a question that we have for you and anyone who answers that question is entered as a chance to win Josh’s book. I will pick one listener one week after the episode goes live, if they’ve commented, share it with Josh and he will send you his book so you can read it yourself. Josh, thank you so much for being on the show.
Josh Womack 43:21
I Thanks, Aaron. I really appreciate it.
Erin Ollila 43:27
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Talk Copy to Me. If you enjoyed spending your time with me today. I would be so honored if you could subscribe to the show and leave a review. Want to continue the conversation. Head on over to Instagram and follow me at Erin Ollila. Until next time friends
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