Welcome to episode 41 of the Whin Big Podcast. This week Katie talks to Elizabeth McIntyre – copywriter and founder of Crisp Copy.

Elizabeth started her business while travelling around South East Asia after her original work plans fell through. This week Katie and Elizabeth chat about working for clients across several continents and how the pandemic is shifting attitudes to working remotely. Elizabeth also shares her secrets for finding dream clients online.

This week’s episode is full of amazing insight and practical ideas that you can use right now on your own business marketing, so you might want to have a notebook handy.

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Getting started in copywriting

Elizabeth had moved to Thailand where she planned to work as an English teacher. Her plans didn’t work out and she took to applying for assignments on Upwork as a way to pay her way. Assignments included blog writing and virtual assistant work.

She enjoyed writing so much that she focused on writing only projects and started doing well. And her copywriting business grew from there. 

“A lot of the time people don’t know how to articulate their own ‘thing’. That’s where I come in.” – Elizabeth

Building up your network to grow your business 

Elizabeth spent a few years building her contacts within agencies as they often need extra support when their client load gets full. She’s worked for some big name clients including Skyscanner, The Scottish Government and Starbucks and has picked up her own non-agency clients along the way.

Working with clients all over the world 

Crisp Copy started while Elizabeth was travelling around SE Asia and Australia. She worked remotely in co-working spaces and met some great people who became her clients by working side by side. Her idea was to gather clients in the locations she settled for a month or two and has been able to grow her international network of clients this way.

She’s currently based in Edinburgh so has applied the same philosophy to growing her client base in the city, but continues to expand her reach by going out of her way to find interesting clients across the world. She’ll contact them and build a relationship online so she can work with them.

“We’re in such a privileged place that we have the opportunity to not be limited by our postcode. You can search for a branding specialist in Melbourne and follow them on Instagram. It’s really easy to build a relationship with people. If you make the effort it tends to be more reciprocated than not.” – Elizabeth

Now is the time to pursue international clients 

When talking about working remotely online, Katie and Elizabeth recognise that the ripple effect of the global pandemic is that clients will be more comfortable with hiring someone from around the world. Location will be less of a barrier because it will feel much more familiar to be collaborating over video and sending emails without expecting an instant reply.

“Take this moment in time and use it as a stepping stone to pursue those international clients we might not have been able to beforehand. I think there’s a really good opportunity to expand.” – Elizabeth

What do to when global clients need more reassurance 

Elizabeth has recently returned from meeting clients in Australia and Canada and has worked across the globe in the last 4 years. She likes to keep things varied, but recognises that clients can be hesitant hiring someone remotely – and in different continents. To appease them, she makes herself more available, regardless of time differences, so they are reassured and supported. 

Crisp Copy marketing strategy

Instagram is the main social media platform that Elizabeth uses. She has thought about using LinkedIn, but isn’t sure if it’s the platform for her. She collects emails for her mailing list and has plans to use email marketing in a more structured way.

Her favourite way to connect with new clients is to research businesses she’s interested in and contact them through an introductory email.

In the past four years, Elizabeth has built up a strong idea of her brand and is confident when a potential client is a good fit. When she gets in touch with clients she suggests key areas their business can be improved and lays out the steps she’d take to help them do it.

It’s a strategy that works well for her. 

Tips for finding new clients

  • Avoid anyone on the first few pages of Google. These people are great at SEO and not necessarily your ideal client.
  • Find online networks like Creative Mornings, the Design Kids, Create and Cultivate and so many more when you start researching.
    Go through the networks and see who you would click with work-wise.
  • Go beyond Facebook, Instagram and Google 

Tips for growing your mailing list

There’s no concrete email marketing strategy in place for Crisp Copy, but Elizabeth (at the time of recording) had a freebie magnet – the Crisp Creative Brief – which is a smaller version of questions she asks clients when she begins writing for them. It covers:

  • Brand values
  • Ideal customer
  • Competition
  • Strengths, weaknesses
  • Opportunities and challenges

And she created it to help people write their own copy in a more professional way, to tell it in a more engaging and on-brand way.

Katie shares her tips with accountability as a driver for getting her email newsletter out. She named it Whin Wednesdays and as a result, she has to schedule in the time to work on it so it’s out on that day.

 “I like to think about individual email newsletters, each Instagram post and podcast and blog post as being part of a bigger body of work. So they don’t have to be game changing all by themselves. They were never intended to stand alone so that takes the pressure off.” – Katie

Keeping it real with content 

After four years Elizabeth has grown in confidence and makes sure her own personality features in everything she posts or sends. She’s determined to stick to her brand and knows that she’ll attract better clients that way. 

“When you’re honest about who you are, clients will see it. If you’re not honest, you won’t get to grow in the same way because you’re trying to be somebody you’re not.” – Elizabeth

Time blocking for success 

Elizabeth schedules a weekly ‘CEO Day’ into her diary to focus on her business. This is her time to do the tasks she usually puts off. This can include scheduling social media posts, writing blogs, invoicing and writing a to-do list for the following week. Elizabeth asks ‘what does Crisp Copy as a business need to get through the next week or month’. 

How the future looks for Crisp Copy 

Elizabeth is feeling optimistic as a result of the global pandemic. She believes we’ve been stuck in habits and places, working hard and going nowhere and the pandemic alongside the cultural issues has made people think more about who we want to work with and who we want to listen to.

In the working world we’re asking if we like our jobs. And asking what we can do differently. We have the time to take the step back and re-evaluate everything so we can only go up from here.

“Things can only get better. We can do more of the things that inspire us. Whether that’s in our work or in life. And creating more positive change that affects the world we want to live in.” – Elizabeth

Book recommendations 

Company of One – Paul Jarvis

Elizabeth enjoys this book as it focuses less on scaling and growing a large business and instead on the positives of keeping it small.

*Building a Story Brand – Donald Miller

Focuses on telling your story in a way that engages people.

Sticky Branding – Jeremy Miller

Another great read about building a strong brand.

Atomic Habits – James Clear

This is a great book for habit forming and getting your sh!t together! (Katie has read this book too and likes to combine it with Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies)

In the interests of diversity, Elizabeth and Katie talked about other books that aren’t necessarily about business and marketing, but that share an important message. 

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Bad Feminist – Roxanne Gay

* Building a Story Brand is now the most recommended book on the Whin Big Podcast!

Resources mentioned in this week’s podcast

Creative Mornings (the Edinburgh chapter is fantastic),

Design Kids

Working Not Working

The Black Scottish Business Fund – it’s a go fund me right now, but a worthwhile mention and something to keep an eye out for.

Creative Lady Collective (Elizabeth didn’t mention this at the time, but wanted everyone to know it’s great)