Teaching this old dog new tricks: #COPYCON18 (a conference for word nerds)

It’s easy to view yourself as an ‘expert’ once everyone else does.  You get asked to speak on certain topics, requested for input into articles, and invited to sit on panels – for me that’s being a copywriter, a content coach, a marketing coach.  You could be forgiven for thinking to yourself: I’ve got this. I reckon I know my stuff – (finally!).

And then suddenly you realise a couple years have gone by and you haven’t really done much ‘professional development’ or learnt anything super new in your specific field of expertise. Or along the way you’ve diversified, and the thing you’re known for is only one small string to your now blossoming bow.

That’s when #copycon18 came into my field of vision.  Great timing and just the ticket to reignite my copywriter’s soul.

So last weekend I spent a day (and a night or so) hanging with a great flock of copywriter’s from around the country, courtesy of Kate Toon (a well known Sydney SEO copywriter) and her crew.  And it was awesome!  It was the first time I’d been in a room full of copywriter’s in aaaages (usually they are solitary beasts and somewhat sceptical about their competitors), but I have to say it was loads of fun! So much grammar goodness, so many nerdy word associations. And so many gorgeous nuggets of gold from the presenters.

So what did this ole copywriter learn that I think could be useful for you as a writer, marketer and business owner?

Insights from #copycon18 presenters:

Kate Toon – SEO Copywriter

An insightful self-reflection on her 10 year business journey yielded these moments:

  • Don’t be afraid of your competitors! There’s more than enough work to go around and they can actually teach you something if you get close to them
  • Clients are buying your leadership and ease – guide them by offering clear packages, showing pricing, telling them the best route to take
  • We all feel small at some point, but comparison kills creativity.
  • Once you’re established, find new audiences. Multiple income streams help you scale your business
  • Fire your clients if they suck!
  • It’s a decision to be ‘out there’ and to be profiled. It’s not for everyone but it does change the game if you’re willing.
  • Relationships win the jobs. Long term understanding of clients creates better outcomes.

Kelley Exeter – Swish Design

Kelly gave us a step-by-step guide to editing our own work – a very useful habit to get into!

  • Great writing takes TIME.
  • Write a great first draft, then leave it for a while (a week if possible, if not, overnight is good enough)
  • Remove ‘reader roadblocks’ such as: unnecessary repetition; big words that could be smaller; unnecessary asides; jargon; consulted phrasing; awkward syntax; anything used purely to make you look clever!
  • Structure is so important. You need a HOOK to capture attention, then you BUILD on your idea, then you deliver the PAYOFF – what is the promise you made in the title?
  • Remove redundancies e.g. 5am in the morning.
  • Don’t mix your tenses – choose 1st, 2nd or 3rd and stick with it
  • Print out your writing and read it aloud – this way you hear the mistakes and the awkward moments

Joanna Wiebe – CopyHackers

Joanna presented via Zoom from Canada – she’s a bit of a megastar in the Conversion Copywriting world.

  • There is a difference between ‘creative copy’ and ‘conversion copy’ – Creative copy is all about the CREATOR, whereas Conversion copy is all about the PROSPECT.
  • Biggest hint: write copy that worries the most risk-averse person you know!
  • 4 steps to writing great conversion copy
    1. Listen – do interviews, conduct surveys, do review-mining. Eavesdrop on what others are saying in your industry and how they’re saying it. Clip all the interesting bits and add them to your swipe files.
    2. Use a framework or formula – Problem-Agitation-Solution always works well. Lead with the problem, not the product
    3. Add in the ‘awesome’ – ask intentional questions that you know the answer to; and put the headline and CTA in the first person
    4. Test/validate – use polls, run the copy by interviewees, split test.

Robert Gerrish – Flying Solo founder

Having just left Flying Solo, Robert is now consulting to small businesses. He has had an amazing ride with Flying Solo and had wonderful wisdom to impart.

  • Be the nightclub bouncer of your own business – don’t let the riffraff in! (ie. don’t work with people who don’t value you and want to play by your rules)
  • Ensure you detail your process and answer any questions your prospect might have before they ask them. Act like a medical specialist – talk them through the whole process, adding value the entire  way.
  • See clear expectations and boundaries for your clients e.g.. timelines, invoicing schedule, deliverables. This allows you to be comfortable in charging more if something outside the scope has been proposed.
  • Look, listen and learn – always review what’s gone wrong and right in your client interactions. Do your standards or processes need to improve?

Cherie Clonan – The Digital Picnic

Seriously funny and self-deprecating lady, who has done an awesome job of branding The Digital Picnic. She had great insights around social media.

  • Have a social media strategy – don’t just post randomly!
  • Have a content marketing plan – stop the ad hoc! (she was really firm about this! Thankfully I have a Content Marketing Planning workshop you can attend!)
  • Engage with everyone! You must reply and connect.
  • Mix up your content – long and short form, video and pics.
  • The Instagram algorithm measures how long someone stays on a post and then rewards that post. So using longer form copy (2-3 paras) can really help your visibility
  • Be human – share behind the scenes, your processes, you clients
  • Video marketing is still hot and being rewarded well on Facebook
  • Listen to your followers – turns comments into content
  • Let passion drive your content – show off your personality and the force behind your business
  • Make the commitment to social – it’s here to stay!

This list is not exhaustive – there were probably another 5 speakers! But this blog post is getting so looooong…. so I think that will do for now.

I hope you’ve found that useful? I certainly did. Plenty of it I already knew, because this is the space I operate in, however it’s always great to hear it from someone else in their own words.  But there was also plenty of new info for me and some great learnings to add to my own toolkit.

Let me know what one point stands out for you?


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