Words that win | How to get the internet to saddle up, pony up, and want to ride off with you into the sunset... before they even meet you Part 1
Hi, and welcome to a new episode of the Mom Bosses Abroad podcast. We are here today with Edward Bell and he is going to share with us today all about words that win_ how to get the Internet to settle up, pony up and want to ride off with you into the sunset before they even meet you. So Ed we are so thrilled to have you on the podcast today. Welcome!
Thank you so much. I've been looking forward to chatting with you for so long and I'm honored to be here.
I know! So have we! We've been so excited. So Edward is the copywriter for people whose least favorite F-word is ‘formula’ because formulas are you know what? Totally boring. And no one buys from samey sounding Susan, he's the writer you hire when you want your words to be heard, respected and acted upon without sounding like a hype and chugging Red Bull at a frat party. These are his words, okay, so he's known for believing your work special before he's even met you. And what you hire him for his words that make the world feel that too. Edward, I can't wait to dive in. So, when actually did you realize hey, I have this magical way with words and I am going to make a career out of it. When did that come about? When did your journey start?
Oh my God. Okay, so this was a little bit_ this happened the same way that I think my mom had me_ by accident. Because I remember like she took the pregnancy test and realized, ‘Oh, like I'm pregnant. What do I do now?’ And it kind of ‘Oh, I guess I'm copywriting. Now, is that is that what I'm doing?’ I was working in a company at the time that did a whole lot of event promotion for big name speakers that would come to Australia. We would have anywhere between 100 and like 3000 people at these events, Australia-wide and some of the capital cities and names you would know like, or maybe you want to control. Everybody has a different path in life. But Dr. John Demartini, who's an inspirational speaker and moral landmine, who is I think of what's her tagline, it's all about cash flow and building a cash machine through your business and things like that. So inspiration, business and things and I was the marketing manager for a lot of these events at one point and eventually the copywriter that we had hired, had too much on his plate. And he was like, I don't want to do events anymore. I want to go into property because there's a lot of money in Australia to be made in property. And so he said, I'm gonna leave in the next two weeks but I had been asking a lot of questions that showed potential to him that I could be a great copywriter, so he said [to the bosses] you should just give him the job. And it was one of those weird coincidences where I got called into my boss's office and he was like, ‘Hey, do you want to do this?’ And I said, ‘Okay.’
But those are the best opportunities sometimes because, you know, they're like, you're aligning with the universe in a way: the right time at the right place, and it opens up a door that you didn't know existed.
Well, I'll be honest, it's it was. I felt that way when I said yes. And then in the weeks and months that that followed, it's very clear that there is a huge responsibility on the copywriter for a company that's generating upwards of eight $9 million when I had zero experience in the field, so it was very much a sink or swim situation.
Okay, survival mode, but sometimes survival mode motivates you to show up and if people around you were already seeing your potential and they were already seeing, when you were yet not seeing yourself because you were doing other things, right. You were doing a different role completely, then that sometimes it's like the, the diamond in the rough that needs that pressure to come through and become coal from going from a coal to becoming a diamond is just like that, pressure that is needed for it.
One hundred percent. And it actually taught me one of the most valuable skills I think a copywriter can have, which is the ability to take feedback because you pour your heart and soul into the words that represent you on the internet for every person everywhere. And somebody is going to absolutely challenge that, rail against it, throw it out the window, smear all over it, you know, whatever. But you're also going to have I think it's that learning to distinguish between what's sensible, good business advice versus what is just somebody who was never going to be a client of yours.
Of course! Can we can we go into that a little bit more because I think that's so important when we you know, when we when we introduce topics like this, you know about, how to become a darling of the internet with your words and with what you're saying, we sometimes have this idea that we want to be the kid that everybody likes, but the purpose of good copywriting and good content is also to repel the people that are not our clients or who are not meant to be with us in the journey. So as much as they have to do a double function to attract the profile, but they also have to repel whoever is going to self-checkout, who's going to say like ‘Sorry, this is not for me’ and then that that is fine to do.
Absolutely, absolutely and I do this for fun sometimes, actually just last year, I had a client who was a mortgage broker here in Australia, and she sent me this website for like a I think it was a real investors or real estate brokers society that she was being asked to speak at. And I clicked on their website and the headline was something like crafting the future for Australian property owners or something like that. And I was like, what does that even mean? Like you're trying to be_ that's what you get the people pleasers, so really how can we be lofty and have a big cause and also not really annoy anybody and so I rewrote it just for fun, because that's the thing that copywriters can do sometimes. Anybody who wants to practice can do, right sometimes I just get like, I get a moment and I'm like, I know this is bad. Let me rewrite this for you.
I'm sorry, I need to ask you: do you have like a big red pen, like one of those that the teachers used to use, like, no, no, this: no.
No, I don't you know, and I don't even work like that with my clients. I just sometimes when I'm judging my construction on the internet, I like find other people's websites and I'll be privately judging but whenever or with anybody who actually who wants to refine their own skills and wants to represent themselves in a way that they know they can be and should be represented online. more authentically for them, it's it's a much nicer, gentler conversation because the second collaboration it's not so much like, right, of course, yeah, if you did this wrong, it was like it was right for you at the time and now you're somebody different and so let's find the Polish cloth and like the polishing stuff and give your words a little bit polish, you know.
But I get what you mean about saying you do go into projects and working with clients and you pour your heart your soul into it into making it the best type of collaboration and use your magic with the words and sometimes it doesn't fall where you thought it was going to land. And so I get that you say ‘oh, it's like a baby. I gave birth to this and then it's not really that direction’ and it feels there's a there's I guess emotional aspect to say like, ‘Okay, well not personal, I understand’ but still, right. It came out of this inspiration that I had and that's why you brought it to the I guess to the table with them.
Absolutely. I think a lot of a lot of people, especially online, when they start a business, don't really realize how much of it is writing, how much, how many words there are on a website and then how often you have to write Instagram posts, posting things and so then they feel this immense pressure to be like you know, the Marie Forleo, the Amy Porterfield, or the apples and the Nikes of the world and have this like really crisp sentences that kind of like define their brand and whatever. And yeah, there's way too much pressure on that for especially freelancers and small businesses who have like less than 10 employees, where really, the advantage they have is being a human and you need to be Just Do It or like you know, Think Different or any of those big catchphrases and highly polished you'd have the room to have human emotions and opinions and you want that human connection.
Yeah. And then going back to what you said about the people pleaser, it's exactly what I think a lot of like new entrepreneurs, they do that as well. They spent so much time on their copy trying to polish it, trying to make it like, thinking about what other people would want to hear and we hear time and time again but they want you to be authentic. They want to know who are you because if you potentially pitch to yourself or you pitch yourself to potentially work for them, they need to know who you are. Right? They need to know your personality because then you know they may read your website or your emails or something but then they go and talk to you and do coaching calls and you are a completely different person. That's also not what they sign up for at the beginning. Right. So it needs your personality, it needs to shine through, doesn't it?
Absolutely. And you know, it doesn't need to. There's a lot of personalities out there on the internet and especially people with big following. It's easy sometimes to get caught up in this idea that you have to be a certain type of personality and really charismatic and outgoing and loud and like use all the right words and everything to attract a big audience. But that's absolutely not true. I mean, there's raving fans of comic books that none of us on this call have ever heard of and probably nobody listening to this has ever heard. But there's absolutely a market for every individual's voice here because you have a unique life experience to share and a unique set of words that feel comfortable for you which in the copywriting world we call it your voice to explain those ideas and express those to people in a way that that lands with them, that's comfortable for them to sit with. They can absorb that other people don't. Even the people with millions and millions of followers on Instagram, like you know and the beautiful thing about you writing with your own voice is there's no like, made up photoshopped booty pics required on Instagram to promote this kind of stuff. Like if you have a really authentic voice people tend to listen to that.
Totally. And they get attracted to that a lot more. I mean, I'll take us for an example. We didn't know each other prior to this interview, besides uh, but except the many emails that we've exchanged up to this point. And just now when we jumped on the interview, I feel like I know you already. I know a little part of you because I feel like you're exactly how you've shown up in your emails as well with how you write is how you speak and I felt this immediate connection with you already. And so seeing you now on screen okay, this is a podcast but we're seeing each other now. It's kind of like, cool. This is the Edward I was getting to know over the last couple of weeks, right? And then of course, I went on to your website as well. And I loved that and it was this kind of like, you know, I was just scrolling and clicking and wanted to discover every page that you had because I just love the way you write and it's kind of like you look forward to reading more. I look forward to reading, to receiving another email from you because I just like it. And I think that's absolutely magical to draw that out for people. My little co-host is trying to chime in here. But like how do you so when you work with people? How do you manage to get that part out of them to show their true selves in their words?
That is a really good question. And most copywriters would tell you, they have a process for this and it would make the client feel very uncomfortable and act as like kind of an authority thing. Oh, I have my particular methodology. I am notoriously awful at putting structure to things. So I don't have a process. It's very organic. It's the way that it's worked for me. It's the way that I've had to figure things out in my life personally. And to find my authentic voice it's not you know, I see all these exactly what how you introduce me like the cover of People whose least favorite F word is formula because I don't think you can create a formula and expect that to fit for everybody. Like which one of these five voice types that you
Formula defeats originality. I mean, if you want to be unique then it's a bit of an oxymoron.
Right? Absolutely, I think and I discovering your voice and finding your authentic tone as well is it's a bit of a process. I don't think you_ okay, I'll tell you how I've done that and some of the exercises that have worked for me. I keep a journal sometimes and I usually will write in it when I feel strongly about something. So, for example, if I've had an interaction, like let's say, I was running for train that was late and then I got to the doors and there I was running next to somebody else and I stopped at the locked doors. Well, it's only four minutes till the next one, I'll just wait here. But the person next to me starts banging on the train door and is like ‘oh my God, what's going on? You’re getting very frustrated’ and I'll be like, ‘Why is that a difference of reaction in us and then also write about that in to find my own brain for what I really think.’ And I think there's a famous author, I wish I could think of the name right now that says ‘I actually don't know what I think until I write it down.’ Because it's a really great way of getting clear on what you do. And when there's no pressure for anybody in the public to see it, you tend to find that you express yourself more authentically. Do you swear? How long is each sentence? Do you use a lot of exclamation points? And please if you feel like you're the kind of person who uses 70 exclamation points after some mic drop moment, use the exclamation points.
We've all agreed to lie down in this like well not really lie down but full agree to this ridiculous rule that certain punctuation or grammar makes somebody professional or unprofessional and it's totally not the case. There are massive brands out there that don't even use capital letters or full stops, right. Like on Twitter, if you look at some Twitter account, it's like it's just run on sentence after run on sentence. And some of them don't even make sense to me and I'm like, wait, I have to really think about that. Huge distribution across the US and it's like how you know anything is possible. So I tend to some rules are meant to be followed and some are meant to be bent or broken. And I think it's up to you to find out what's authentic for you in that kind of voice and when I work with a client, I'll usually if they found it really difficult and they're one of those people who just is like, I don't like writing at all, and I find it really uncomfortable. My mom is like this. So I work with her all the time and she's better than she thinks she is which I suspect is true for a lot of the people who say they don't like writing. And I will just talk to them. I'll ask them a question like, I'll be like, I tend to_ I'd like to trick their brains a little bit into thinking that this is like just a conversation. I'm not really paying attention at all, you know, say ‘oh, what do you think about you know, how about the newest iPhone, or whatever’ their thing is like maybe they're a coach. I'll be like ‘What do you think about this idea that you know, you've got to be the best in every day, in every situation or once you get anywhere in life’, and they'll start telling me about it and I will be like, Okay, I'll take notes of the words, the actual words they're using word for word, and I'll start writing it down. Occasionally, you have to like finesse a little bit but that's a great way to do it, too.
Yeah, yeah, totally. And I like what you said about you need to, like first of all writing down and playing with those words that you hear because they obviously made an impact to you. And I think that goes especially to the point when you're trying to write like sales copy or something in your business, right? It's like because you want to identify to your target audience and if they're using these specific words over and over again, even though it may not be in your vocabulary every day. It may be helpful because it catches their attention too so I guess it's like, also trying to find a combination would you say of, of like your words and the words that connect you with your audience? Is that right?
Yeah. Big professional copywriting circles. This is called the voice of customer. Yes, basically, finding people who have bought certain products or similar services to you who have left reviews or blog posts or whatever it might be on the internet and then finding compelling snippets of what they say about why they bought that product or they've gotten from using it and then weaving those exact words into your copy. There's even case studies to show where people have taken a headline that a copywriter was paid quite a bit of money to write, and then just substituted in a quote from a testimonial from a client. And the conversion rates have soared from like, about like 300% or whatever it might be. I'm just pulling a figure out from you know, I'm sure we could find a study but all these places are very much a rich pool of material to pull from. If you have trouble writing. It's a great place to start. By looking online going for example, if you're selling let's say llama wool sweatshirts, go on to Amazon and search for llama wool sweatshirts and find the reviews from people who have left them who have bought them before and have left five star reviews and take some of the words that I've said and then expand on that. You know, maybe some of them are like ‘oh, it's so soft. It's not as scratchy as merino wool and I absolutely feel like you know, I'm wearing a silk bathrobe kind of thing.’ And maybe your headline from that is feel so light and smooth. You'll think you're in a bathroom or something like that.
Yes, that's pretty good tip because not a lot of people know what their voice sounds like. As you said, you know, there's a lot of people that are entrepreneurs starting out that they feel ‘okay, I have to have a business plan. And I had to deal with, you know, the projections and the financials and all these things, but at the end of the day, how they're going to be showing up and what they’re all about so that they have that magnetic factor that people say ‘oh yeah, I resonate with your humanity, like your human factor’ that we mostly don't seem to put a lot of attention to and so we end up being stumped and not know where to even begin. In how to discover it. Yeah, absolutely.
One powerful thing that you've mentioned before, as well is that you tend to write things down in the moment to also figure out how you feel and to just write down in a way these emotions but in that heat of the moment, and I feel that's really, really important because it really captures the essence of that story that you want to tell or that you want to retell. And it does sound a lot more authentic like you write that you instead of saying okay _because I feel a little bit the same, I don't work with formula as well all the time. Sometimes I do need them. I am German. So I need that kind of like, you know, a systematic approach. But when it comes to writing, I feel that too I need to sit when I have that inspiration, when I have that moment that I feel I can write if I just block away time in my schedule and sit down. It doesn't work when I'm not in the zone. I cannot get the right words out and I know that sounds forced and it doesn't sound like me in the end is just words, but it's not. They're not meaningful words. So I like that you do that as well. You write in the moment to get something out and that you get to a certain point as well. Like I often start writing, like maybe a blog post or something. Something else but I don't even know what the end of that is going to be yet. I don't really know what the outcome is. Until I start writing amongst so in the flow until I then, yeah, I get to what I want to say I make a discovery within that usually.
You know, I learned this lesson very early on in my copywriting career where I sat down on my computer I just was having a day where I had so many, like bits of copy that I had to write but were backed up that I just ended up smashing it out and saying, ‘Look, this will do for now, you know, they weren't like critical pieces of copy for the company. Let's do this.’ And my boss pulled me into his office and he said to me, ‘what were you doing when you wrote this copy?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, here we go.’ And I said’ I just needed to get through everything. So I wrote it like this, is it like really that bad?’ And he said ‘no, it's not that bad. But remember that this energy that you're in when you write the copy is the energy that will come through when they read the copy.’ And that has stuck with me. And it was really powerful. And it's like if you can do
I like that. That's really
And it's so important because if you're excited about what you're selling or what you're writing or if you're really thoughtful and going deep introspectively into a topic that's going to come through and it's going to draw the reader in and I don't know how this works. It's some kind of magic but two people can sit down and write exactly the same thing. And one person reading both of those pieces will feel a different way. Like both of them when they read each other. And it's just, it's one of those things when we're acid and I'm like if I'm not feeling inspired or engaged or excited about writing this thing, or whatever emotion is required because there are certain topics and certain pieces of copy that require more sympathy than they do excitement and things like that. I do something or based on my tricks. I don't listen to a piece of music that puts me in that in that space. I will dance or like get my body moving or go for a walk, which is the oldest creative trick in the book. Or I will go to somewhere that I know writes in a similar tone. I got a piece of like, even if it's the same blog post that I have read 100 times I know that it'll make me feel something again. I will go there and I'll read it and then
I love it. It's like it's like a warmup before an exercise, like an intense workout. You do a warm up before to get into the zone, but I love that and that's so gonna stick with me: the energy you put into your writing is the energy that comes out from the person reading it. I'm so going to remember that. I had a moment like that yesterday when I read something and it triggered me and it got me a little bit upset. It triggered me and I just opened up my notes app and I wrote something. I have no idea what I'm going to use it for yet. I may turn it into a blog post or maybe in an Instagram post. I have no idea yet but it's there because I felt so compelled to write it down in that moment. And that's why wow, I really resonate to everything you say about you know, that's probably how you will find your_
I have experienced that a couple of weeks ago with a friend and you know, we were just having a conversation walking, sharing things about life and everything. And then the conversation turned into I don't know, we were just, you know, a girl talk or talking about life and everything. And then later like, two weeks afterwards, she said, ‘You know what? Something that you said to me about the conversation that we were having really stuck with me and you used the word (because it was the anniversary with her husband) and she said ‘and you said ‘oh you're going to celebrate him’ and that word really stuck with me and then I shared it with him. And he really resonated with the word so now we use it as like almost like connecting like ‘hey, let's celebrate each other.’
So it went beyond just like the celebration. But it went beyond into this is what we like to feel in terms of connecting with one another. And if you asked me what we spoke about or what did I say in that moment. I could never recall but for her it stuck so deeply that she shared it with her husband and then they were sharing it with other friends and I said ‘well that's fantastic. I mean, I don't have ownership over the word celebrate,’ but I'm just happy that I guess the way I said it, the energy that came through, it just made that click for her and so forth. So you started this domino effect for good, right? You have like a positive intention, a positive effect afterwards, but it's just interesting how words have that power. And we forget that the energy that we put into when we're using them also creates that effect.
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Edward Bell is the copywriter for people whose least favorite F-word is "formula". Because formulas are what? Boring. And no one buys from Same-y Sounding Susan. He's the writer you hire when you want your words to be heard, respected, and acted upon... without sounding like a hype man chuggging Red Bull at a frat party. He's known for believing your work's special before he's even met you. What you hire him for, is words that make the world feel that too.
Working With Edward In His On Words: My absolute favorite thing in the world (and when I do my best work) is collaborating on copy like we're in a Netflix writer's room. I call it the Word Wizard Apprenticeship. If a medieval blacksmith and Ernest Hemingway got hot and steamy, this would be their baby. It's 3 months, 1-on-1 with me, where I help you write the best copy of your life on projects you already need to get done. No extra time out of your calendar, and you walk out with copy you not only want to shout into a megaphone, but know will attract the right clients to you. You can poke around the outrageously entertaining sales page over at
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