Unapologetically Canadian
Unapologetically Canadian

Episode 42 · 1 year ago

Talking copywriting with Robyn Roste


I'm in strategic planning mode this week, so it's a good time to listen to copywriter and Abbotsford resident Robyn Roste. Robyn is on a campaign to get writers to collaborate more readily and her tips and tricks had The Write Life name her blog as one of the 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2020 earlier this year. Hope you enjoy our conversation.

My name is Tracy Ael and I am an apologetically Canadian. This week is the time when I start doing a business plans for the next five years, from two thousand and twenty one to two thousand and twenty five, because I find that I can think strategically a lot better if I think about the next five years. And five years ago I was actually was the beginning when I divided my life out between urban agriculture and and writing as a job, and so it's pretty exciting to see that grand potage is now fully functioning. I'm no longer on this Aya and now just one of the members as part of a coop coals, so we can funk. I focus on that. Still working on creating some amazing courses. I just started exploring Razuco and that's been really interesting. Nick Stevenson is still one of my favorite trainers, so I've been started to go through his tenzero readers course, which I have gone through before, but then I'm getting a little more serious about it. Next month is my first time doing Nano Romo. I'm going to take my mystery idea, of true mysteries idea and put it together. Working on a story that is based on some of the journalism that I did about in social housing, and I'm murder connected to that. So it's going to the typical murder mistreekscept that it's going to be all true, and that's what's happening this week. So and this week's interview fits right along with all of that because I'm interviewing robin rusty this week and she is an extraordinary person out of Vancouver. She is a really interesting writing entrepreneur and she's freight at marketing and she has one of the most red blogs in North America. And Robin and I are both members of what was the Professional Rights Association of Canada and will be Canadian media guild or something like that. Anyway, we're linking up and to create a whole new organization and we've been doing marking together for a couple of years. Robin is a copywriter. Can you just talk a little bit about who your clients are and who you help? Robin? Yes, I'm a copywriter and I think that such a general term, but in the broadest strokes I serve businesses and help them with writing services. But when I get specific, I'm really serving not for profit organizations with website content, article writing, fundraising letters, and I also serve like niche small businesses. So that would be everything from photographers, two different artists or other other writers. So in many ways we serve the same people, just with different services, because it's a business owners, creators and entrepreneurs. And are most of your clients in Canada? Yes, the vast majority are in Canada and most of them, I have a personal relationship with two. Okay, and where are you located? I don't think I know that. Yeah, I live in BC, about an hour outside of Vancouver. Yeah, and so most of the clients I serve are either people I know from everyday life or else just people I've met over the years. I was is it? I think actually most businesses start that way, because that's I mean it was interesting I was just hearing this morning and that it's going back that way to now that the publishing industry is changing and there's a lot of artificial intelligence that people are actually looking for more human contact and they want to actually go and meet with the person that works for them. I think is great. I think it's being look being involved locally is so important. Yeah, I at first. At first I thought it was a little restrictive. I thought, Oh, I'll never find enough clients... my hometown to Actually Fund My, you know, my life. But it turns out, yeah, just getting to know people and doing good work leads to referrals, which gives you more work and then more work, and so yeah, it's it's actually a wonderful situation. What tone are you in? The town I live in is called Abbot spur. Oh, it's okay, just because I've done a little bit of hiking and and so I just wanted if you were one of the little towns that I stopped in. I love BC. I'm from. I'm from the other side of the country, so it's fascinating to see how different one country can be. I mean all of the regions in this country are so incredibly different. Yeah, on your website I noticed that you have quite a few articles to help people with various different if they want to try and do some of their own copywriting. What made you decide to to branch out a little bit with that? Part of that decision was based on an interest I have in just learning as I go but then also wanting to help share that knowledge with other people. But a bigger part of it was, as I got more and more involved in freelance writing, just recognizing how many other freelance writers don't have maybe the strong foundation to know what to charge or how to market themselves, and so I really wanted, I really want to invest in the future freelancers and make sure that they are, you know, charging excellent rates and knowing how to put themselves out there in a way that's going to attract their ideal customer to them. So, yeah, I really wanted to give back to the community that had given me so much to get me up and running when I had no idea what I was doing. But also it helps me demonstrate my right in ability to my clients, even though most of my clients aren't other freelance writers, I can demonstrate on my website my writing abilities, so that's interesting. So because it serves us a kind of a portfolio to show of what space you're in. In a way that's interesting. Yeah, because most of my writing is ghost writing, so I don't get by lines for that. So I've tried to come up with creative ways to demonstrate what I my style and my scale. Most of my writing is the same. So it is a bit of a challenge to try and create portfolio items when you're not actually not buy lined. Yes, I did this, I swear. Yeah, exactly. What's your favorite project that you've worked on or that most successful project? Yeah, I I mean, looking back the the project I come back to over and over of just something I can't believe I got to work on and I can't believe how much impact it made. was really when I was first getting started, I was approached by an entrepreneur who was thinking about packing it in and quitting all together her business, and she said this is my last shot. I'm going to empty out every dollar from my bank account, from her business account, I'm gonna try one last ditch effort to get some traction with my business and if it gets nowhere, I'm shutting down. Can you help me? And it was like a lot of stakes and a lot of pressure and I thought yeah, I looked at her business I realized, you know, what you need is marketing. Like it's a marketing problem. She had a great business, she just wasn't getting any clients. So I worked with her to create a new marketing strategy and we relaunched her and I don't like two years later, she is working full time in that niche that she's in and hasn't looked back. Like I can't believe the success she's found, something I'm very proud of. When you say marketing, what kinds of things we...

...doing with her other than the website? Yeah, we built out an entire marketing strategy. So I really helped her focus on her her target client. She's a wedding photographer, and so we really, we really focused her messaging down on the exact bride that she wants to work with, which she found a little scary because as you get narrower and narrower, you feel like you're cutting potential customers out. But really, once she got laser focused and really branded herself that way, you know, the brides started saying to her, Oh, when I read your website, I just felt like you're talking exactly to me, I must work with you, and people I made the decision to hire her before they'd even met her. It was really truly amazing. So, yeah, we worked on messaging, branding, a new marketing strategy and we really overhauled her social media accounts to display just weddings and just the types of weddings that she wanted to shoot. So it is really a big overhaul. Wow, that must have been tough, but it worked. So now she's and she's still in business. She didn't have to stop. Now, she didn't have to stop, and in fact she was able to quit her day job and just go full time into wedding photography. So it's quite something. Wow, that's exciting. And so do you have a link from? Does she have a links to you? Like she's also given you referral business, because a lot of times with that happens, they tell everybody they know about you. Oh, yes, absolutely. Yeah, and actually we became good friends as a result, and so we even have partnered on a few projects. So I'll be the COPYWRITER and she'll be the photographer. Oh my gosh, that's fun. That's cool. What about one of the projects that you did not do so well on? Have you? Can you talk about anything? That was the basically a learning opportunity? Yes, and I would classify this as just an outright failure, although, yes, I've learned so much from it. I was working with two women who are wanted to start a podcast, and that's also something that I help people do. My background is in radio and audio editing. So this was very exciting to me to get to help someone from the ground up launch a podcast, and we put about a year into doing this. We worked really hard, and that's even before we had it launched. And the day before the launch we had partnered with an organization and the day before the launch the partner pulled out and the whole project was basically hanging by a thread and it was so devastating and really I felt like a lot of it, even though I wasn't directly responsible for the partner in the end just deciding this wasn't a good fit for them, I felt very, very much responsible because I brought the two parties together. So what I've learned was, number one, everything needs to be not just in writing, because they had a contract that had everything or nighting, but there has to be just extra effort put out there to make sure everyone's on the same page, because, when it came down to it, that's where things were. They weren't on the same page, they weren't going in the same direction and it didn't become clear until we're about to launch. So yeah, so, but also I go so that's so hard. It was so it was like. It took me many months to really not be just absolutely terrified of offering the service to people and yeah, and just feeling so horrible about the whole situation. But also it made me realize too, that I can't take on that much respond in stability, because it wasn't on me and I had taken on so much. I don't know what the word is.

I I wanted it to be successful and I kind of put it on me to make it happen and I realize there's a lot of other people who are sharing this responsibility and that load wasn't mind to bear alone, and so really I had taken on too much, I guess, personal care for it, if that makes sense. Really in these projects, you know I'll make it happen, but it's not mine and I have to be openhanded and I it has to be okay if it doesn't happen. Yeah, that's easier than said than done, I think for sure. When you put that much effort into something and then it doesn't happen, it can't be a bit of a shock. Well, especially if it's because, as you said, they worked on the same page. Mean, what can you do? I mean in some ways they might not. They couldn't find out until they were actually in that position. It's almost I think that's why, you know, go back to you earlier thing that you know they're so many people get left at the altar. Yeah, it's like, I think it's okay until then and then it's like they just can't go through with this. You know how they do. That is exactly how it was. Good Heavens, Oh my God. And so can you talk a little bit about just the kinds of what you see in the future of of Your Business and how you're moving forward? And you know, that was two thousand and twenty. Yeah, I think that there's a lot of freelancer groups, I'm in, mostly on facebook, that are very nervous for the state of the freelancer in general, I think because of just some laws that are coming into play in the United States and and just concerns about these big organizations taking advantage of freelancers and, you know, paying them less than pennies per word kind of thing. So for me, I think the future looks like a lot of advocacy for writers to know their craft but then also have the confidence to charge what they need to and not not give up in despair. There is a good living to be made as a freelance writer. But also, yeah, just pushing forward and continuing to to deepen my niche in my in my copyright right. And can you talk a little bit about the how you developed your skills and training? Yes, I went to school for Journalism. So I have a bachelor of journalism and I am quite convinced that's where I learned how to write, even though I thought it was pretty good writer coming into the program but I learned that's not the case. So that set me on a quest to just continue improving. And so a lot of my basics are in my basic training is in journalism, but over the years I've picked up marketing and I've picked up public relations and kind of complimentary opposite skills, depending on what side of the fence you're on with journalism. And so since then I've just devoted the last ten years to mastering the craft. I've written a blog for about the same amount of time and so, yeah, just really tried to explore my skills and try new things. Well, and also just the actually writing. Your blog probably helps to because it continual writing actually helps to so that's A. I didn't realize you'd had it from more than ten years. That's awesome. Oh, yeah, back when I had no idea. Hey, it still looks fresh, though, so I guess you've refreshed it several times. Definitely. Yeah, it's always a work in progress. Is there anything before we get to the final question and sort of the discussion about the identity of Canadian identity that...

...this podcast is about? was there anything that I didn't ask you about that you were hoping to talk about? I guess the most important thing to me at this stage in my career is letting other freelance writers know that they're not alone, and so I'm so happy for this show and for knowing you and being part of the Professional Writers Association or whatever we yard in a couple months. I'm just so happy for a community a freelancers to support and really bounce ideas off of. So if there's other freelance writers or future freelance writers out there listening, please let me encourage you to get connected. Yeah, I think it's true. It's a good point and it's a I think it's not that straightforward of a business to be to be in. No, and and there's no like program that I could find that would just teach me everything, ten steps I needed to be a successful freelancer. So it's really you're really dependent on other freelancers to show you the path. Yeah, well, and it's changed. I mean I've no, I realized in November that was my I'd been in business for twenty eight years. It was like every year has been a different I mean it's so funny because every actually every year, every two or three years, something goes completely different than what you thought it was. You know, I've been always business oriented. In terms of the creative side of my business, I mean I've always been focusing on the craft as well. But what is amazing to me is, you know, I remember when content creators was not it was a look down on by by copywriters, you know, the whole idea of being a content creator with it almost sounded to or oriented towards computers. And then I remember when, you know, independent publishing was was look down on and now it's like the big trend. And then audiobooks was, you know, look down on and know it's like the biggest growing part of our industry. It's like it doesn't matter what what people do they can do anything they want because guaranteed the net the industry is going to change toward them anyway, as long as they do what they love. Hey, agree. Yeah, so you've had to be very flexible over the years, just adapt to whatever comes yeah, yeah, well, and yeah, well, it's interesting because so much of what I thought I would be doing is it turned out to not be what I ended up doing. And yet I turn, when I look at the the whole twenty years in a row, it's actually exactly what I you know, because I quit a government job in Toronto and and move to Montreal to be a writer, and the goals that I had at that time are actually only, when I look at it, I actually did accomplish them, but not at all the way that I thought I would, oh man. But yeah, and because you just have to be so flexible and because, I mean as a copywriter, every time you have a client, you actually have to do what they need you to do then, which might be completely different than what they needed you to do the year before. Just to tell the listener, we've been working on marketing challenge. Every roughly two months. There's a bunch of us who actually talk about marketing for a two week period. And even in that, like every time we do that, I think of new marketing ideas that I didn't even think of before because of other people's experience. Yeah, and it's amazing when you see what other people just say that they're planning to do. How that how that kind of sparks something in you and you realize, Oh, that's marketing, I'm already doing that. It didn't realize that was marketing. So it's such it's such a good challenge that we're part of. Yeah, well, and things like for you know, people joined. I just joined last year. I joined my local chamber of Commerce just because somebody else was talking about their, you know, what they had done by joining their...

...local chamber of Commerce. Yeah, and it's true the people that I've met local there. I mean I'm really, really connected locally, but I hadn't met half of the people that I'm meeting now just because it's a different group. Yeah, yeah, and just meeting someone to maybe suggest, Hey, have you tried this group, and you may not have ever considered that and then it turns out to be a wonderful lead. MMM MMM. So what are you involved in locally? Have you have you got? Are you part of a local of chamber of Commerce or the things that you're doing it in your area right now? I'm not a member of the local chamber of Commerce, but I'm very involved with the local tourism organizations. So I show up to all of their kind of they have a lot of brainstorming in sections and networking with all of the local arms and hotels and tourism in business owners in the area, and so I'm regularly going to those networking events and just trying to stay top of mine for people. Very cool. And would you say that the most of Your Business in that area is is because because of they get to know you through those kinds of events? I mean it sounds like you get you basically work with a lot of people who know you. Yes, yeah, and if I don't know them directly, I'm introduced to them through someone that I know. Wow, so the no like interest factor goes yeah, I really, I really depend on it people to give out referrals for you. When I am bidding on a certain job, like, let's say there's been a call for proposals or something, or maybe a BC government bid, then I will ask for reference or I'll ask for something like that, but at for the about the last year I've been fully booked, so I haven't been outreaching in that way like I would have a couple years ago, but I'm definitely always ready and so I'm always trying to keep my network warm and, like I try to follow them on social media and interact with their posts and just make sure that we stay in touch just in case, you know, at some point the need arises. Oh, that really brings up another point of how things have really changed in terms of you know, I also find that social media is the best way to keep up with locals. It's not funny, it is really funny. It's different kind of world. I think word of mouth, but it's basically word of mouth via social media. And so the last question that I always ask is do you consider yourself Canadian and, if so, what does that mean to you? Yes, I absolutely consider myself Canadian. When I think about what that means to me, I'm not I don't have maybe a definitive statement, but I can say this that when I'm talking with other Canadians, I feel like they're my people. I love serving Canadians, I love working with Canadians and so I just I feel very comfortable and proud of my heritage. Not that I don't like working with anyone else, because that's not the case at all, but just there's something easy about spending time with other Canadians and I'm just I very much enjoy it. Have you been here like? Have you grown up here? Did you grow up in BC? Do? Did you grow up where you live now? Yeah, I grew up very close to where I'm living now, but I in my spent most of my s I spent out of province or out of country, and so I did get a little bit of experience away from home or of Canada, and so it was actually, although I love the adventure of it, it was actually great to come back home and really back to where I grew up. I thought this would be somewhere...

I'd never actually settle in, and so it was nice to get away and miss it and come back and really just feel like this is where I belong. It's a how long have you been there now? I've been here since two thousand and nine, so a while. Oh Wow, okay, yeah, what is that? Eleven years, basically, something like that. Yeah, yeah, so I do feel very settled now. Yeah, so what made you choose that particular location? It all came down to you at the time, coming back home, because I wasn't sure what to do next in my life and in my career. I had kind of run out of money and my job was finished, and so I returned kind of to where I knew and got a job here and then really like thought it would be temporary, but over time I really just started making connections and feeling feeling like this was home. So that's what made me come back. was just kind of like, I don't know what to do, I don't know where to go. How Fun basically, you were just drawn back. That's really cool. Actually, that's funny. Yeah, most of us are in journalism. That's so. I didn't think about that. Wow, that's really cool. It's funny. My my son says he always likes to read things written by journalists because they get straight to the point. I know, especially when the client wants you to be telling people. It's the best thing in the world. And Yeah, find that balance, but it makes it easy that, I mean part of that is probably why you're good a copywriter too, because you don't, yeah, you don't hide details with with the motion. You know, you just tell people the way things are and then they can and then you can add to that after that. It's true. Yeah, well, thank you very much. I really really appreciate you talking with me and telling me a little bit about your life and your life as a copywriter. was there anything that I didn't ask that you were that you would were hoping to say? No, I think we've really covered the all the all the bases here. I'm just so grateful to have this conversation with you, Tracy. Oh, thank you very much. Thank you for listening to an apologetically Canadian. This episode was brought to you by Cobo. Use My affiliate link from the show notes for five dollars off your first order today.

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