At the time of writing this blog, it had been six months since I finally quit my job (I eased out slowly, you can read about that here).
Part of the Era Of Emancipation process was upping the ante on my business. Safe to say, until the point I dropped employment to one day a week, Crisp Copy was a side hustle. Going all in meant bundling my fears and anxieties in a receptacle like a Pinterest-inspired Mason jar stuffed with salad, and throwing the whole lot into the wind in wild (terrified) abandon.
It paid off.
I became an award-winning copywriter and editor. I coach and consult with some of Australia’s movers and shakers, and I work with women all around the world to up their branded word game. 2020 marks my 6th year in, my 5th year full time, and my 3rd year as an official 6 figure business (which, by the way, only looks good on paper…)
Business is – I’m humbly grateful to say – booming.
So, is it relevant to admit here that I started with exactly $0 to invest?
Yep, for all my cries of “OUTSOURCE, sisters!” I was a DIY queen for the first year, at least.
Now, when I travel about speaking to other women on how to build a sustainable, manageable business that fits with raising three children, being the main bacon-home-bringer, and giving the middle finger to a chronic illness, I’m often asked what the one piece of advice I’d give start-up-me if I could go back in time is.
While there are more than a handful of things I could have done differently (labelling myself the entirely pretentious title of ‘Communication Designer’ because I was too chicken to call myself a proper Copywriter)
but this pearl wins hands down.
See, I am a pretty clever woman. I can do most tasks I set out to do. So, with $0 start-up investment and no capital to speak of, the DIY route was tempting and I tried to do all of the things.
You know what I worked out quick smart?
- I’m good at Canva but no, I should not make my own magazine advertisement.
- I can count (just), but I should not ignore expert advice about my financial accounts.
- I know my rights as an Australian businesswoman but I shouldn’t put together my own legal contracts.
- And, even though I can spot a spelling error in a sea of copy with deft precision, I definitely shouldn’t proofread my own stuff.
So even though I may be able to do all of the things, I shouldn’t
If I focus on the copy, the coaching, the clients, and the customer service, the experts can tend to the rest.
You know the funny thing? This model actually turns out to be cost-effective, and I can prove it.
When I gave up trying to spend as little as possible (or DIYing) my own assistant work, I hired an experienced (and expensive) virtual assistant. Within days I ended up with files that were spiffy and organised, contracts sorted and alphabetised, a system in place for tracking client interactions,
and I saved myself around 10 hours a week.
Now, a saving of 10 hours at $397 per hour, well, you do the math. I was winning.
So, I kept repeating that formula.
Subject experts exist for a reason
Investing in good advice means you will receive the knowledge and tools to better your business.
Also, when you are too close to something, there are things that you can’t – or maybe don’t want to – see. Plus, every minute you are spending on Canva, getting that positioning just right, is time lost in perfecting your craft.
This is why I pay and I pay good money. The return on my investment pays for itself – usually quick smart.
This is not your weekly shop where you collect all the catalogues to hunt down supermarket specials. This is your business, where investment pays off and cheap imitations or DIY are like a bad paint job. It may seem good initially, but it won’t be long until the paint is peeling and you need to start again.
I know it works, ‘cause this is what I do. When you give me your hard earned dosh, I make damn sure you get the best, most crisp copy I offer. You won’t need anyone painting over it, ever!
And if you’re in start-up mode, I know you might not be ready to invest in a copywriter just yet. Heck, most business owners don’t even know what we DO until they’ve had expert help with branding, design, or marketing and one of those professionals recommends they get their words looked at. My clients are generally a few years in and have tried the DIY or cheaper “I’ll write your content for $25 an hour” options. Although they may have coped OK with that in the past, they are at a stage where they realise an investment in an expert contributes directly to their success.
If I had my time again, what would I spend money on sooner?
Solid business mentorship
Don’t quote shop for sound advice. If you can’t find someone to mentor you for nix then save your pennies and spend an hour online with a pro rather than hunting for someone offering a 6-month buy-in at a ridiculously low price.
(Disclaimer: I got lucky here and found a pick-and-mix of women in business who were willing to mentor me for the sheer joy of seeing someone else succeed. Yes, they’re unicorns, but they’re out there.)
This doesn’t mean graphic design. This means sitting down with someone for a couple of hours and going over how to meld personal branding (not how to choose a jacket colour – how to brand yourself online) and business branding. Someone who understands the psychology of sales and relationship building. More than the creation of a logo – the styling of your online self.
Because when Websites Go Wild, you want someone who can sort that out. Quick sticks.
Working out who is good and who is hot air in a noisy online world is a patootie-ache. I know. Don’t just ask for recommendations on Facebook. Read reviews. Ask people you trust in other industries their honest advice. Don’t sign up because of FOMO – make sure you’re actually going to implement what you learn. Then; invest in your own learning. (And newbie copywriters – you can’t do this if you’re charging $30 an hour to write. Give yourself a PD budget!)
OK, I got lucky here. This I can DIY. Because my website is mainly self-designed, my graphics are Canva, my office is next to the laundry, and one of my best friends took my first professional photos. But my words, they sell. They make people recommend me in business groups when they’ve never even met me. Those words have grown my email list to I-now-pay-a-shizz-tonne-of-money-to-email-everyone size. They’ve quadrupled my income. And I know not everyone’s financially ready to hire a copywriter with chops (which is why I created offerings like the Crisp Copy Class) but make it a soon-as-you-can goal. Because pretty visuals and nice IG game are a good start, but you want to sell all the things. To do that, you need ripper copy.
So, what can you stop DIYing or quote shopping for and where can you find an expert that’ll actually return you some dosh for your investment? Stop quote shopping. Invest in yourself.
Because good things happen when you get expert help.
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