13: Interview with copywriter Ian Chandler

Today we don’t feature a business owner but copywriter Ian Chandler from WritingLaunch.com. I hugely enjoyed this interview and so will you I hope!


Are there any blogs, podcasts or Facebook Groups about entrepreneurship you follow closely?

Quicksprout is one of my favorite blogs, and it’s the only blog I follow on a regular basis. It’s consistently informative, one of the few blogs I’d describe as “actionable.” Others, like Copyblogger, I read whenever I’m in a rut or want new insights into a certain aspect of copywriting.

Do you read any discussion forums about business?

The Entrepreneur subreddit is an interesting place. It’s a nice assortment of entrepreneurial topics; there’s everything from building email lists to book recommendations. The disadvantage is that you have to self-curate what you read, but there are definitely some diamonds in the rough.

Which resources to run your business do you use most?

I rely on Gmail, Google Docs, Todoist, and Tomato Timer. I could probably eliminate all of my other resources if I had to. Todoist helps me organize my days, and Tomato Timer is a timer for the Pomodoro Technique. All of these tools keep me in a good routine, which is vital for me.

Does your business generate enough money to support you?

Perhaps surprisingly, it does. I’m not exactly sure where I am on the freelancing spectrum, but I do make enough to support myself. It does get tough sometime because I have such an erratic pay schedule. Freelancers talk about feasts and famines, and that’s definitely true for me. Some weeks, I’m getting paid for three articles, and other weeks, I’m waiting anxiously for my next payment. That’s one of the hardest elements of freelancing.

Do you think that social media such as Twitter or Facebook are good marketing tools?

To an extent. I don’t personally use either because, for me, the negatives outweigh the positives. I use Reddit because it has great job opportunities and LinkedIn because it’s a professional network. Reddit is one of the few sites that offer a casual-meets-professional situation. Twitter and Facebook are both extremely casual, and if you’re a businessperson, you won’t be able to match the tone 100% of the time. So that can hurt your engagement. Now, advertising is a different story; I’ve heard Facebook advertising is lucrative. Again, I haven’t done it myself. I like the “network” part of social networks; Twitter and Facebook are social first and a network second.

What would you recommend for new copywriters? How should they get started?

I would recommend researching every aspect of content marketing. That means creating the content itself and then learning how to share it through various channels. This can be any form of social media––Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, etc. Learning how to write the content is only half the battle, as Neil Patel points out. Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message,” and that’s spot on. If you share a post on Twitter and LinkedIn, you’ll get drastically different results.

Places like Copyblogger, Moz, BoostBlogTraffic, Quicksprout, and Kissmetrics are all great for the beginning copywriter. Neil Patel and David Ogilvy are two content geniuses that every writer should study. Then, go to blogs you read and study that content. See what makes content great and emulate that.

What is your single best non-obvious tip for working as a copywriter?

Listen to instrumental music while working. I can’t remember the last time I worked in silence. A soft, non-intrusive musical backdrop helps my ideas flow better, and it relaxes me. Classical music is also a wonderful choice.

What would you recommend to generate traffic to the website? Have you tried SEO companies?

I haven’t tried SEO companies, namely because I don’t think SEO is worth pursuing. I do make sure I’m good for basic SEO, but I don’t focus on it. It’s still important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s best used in conjunction with other traffic-generating methods. Sharing content in online communities and keeping a blog are two of the most potent methods of getting traffic, but you have to do it right. Ideas like Seth Godin’s permission marketing come into play here.

How do you stay productive and not get distracted?

I use the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s done wonders for me. For those unfamiliar, you work for 25 minutes, take a 5-10 minute break, and then repeat until you’re done. Most Pomodoro practitioners use it to complete one task at a time, but I use it to refresh myself and make sure I’m not working too much. And I’m disorganized and take a lot of breaks by nature, so going Pomodoro has made me more productive than I had thought I could be.

Where is the best place to find work as a copywriter?

Lots of copywriters go through content mills to find work. Upwork is especially popular right now since it’s taken over Elance and oDesk. Fiverr is also popular. I was on Fiverr for a while. Content mills work, but they’re such a problematic path to continue on. It almost defeats the point of freelancing. You don’t get to set the terms or even what you work on.

I consult job boards and other online communities for jobs. I can talk to the business owner directly instead of going through a recruiter or third party. Countless copywriter are on Upwork or Fiverr as life support, and as a result, they’re undervaluing themselves. I avoid these at all costs, but they can be good if you know what to do.

The Problogger job board is usually a solid place for writing jobs. Reddit has been my number one source of jobs; it’s wonderful. Aside from that, I look at blogs and publications for jobs. Even if I only get one article published somewhere, that’s another connection and another opportunity to grow my business.

What is the best way to get paid?

Nothing beats straight up bank transfers or checks, if your clients are okay with that. I do use PayPal, but I’m phasing it out in favor of bank transfers. If clients want to pay with PayPal, I’ll accept, but the fees have grown to be too much of a loss for me. And since most processors charge fees, I’m not keen on them. That said, there is Dwolla, which I’m also thinking about using.

Do you use WordPress? Any plugins you can recommend?

WordPress and Shopify are the only two CMSs I use. WordPress is by far my most used. I love the MailChimp for WordPress plugin combined with the Top Bar plugin. Together, they can turn your site into a lead generation machine. I use Huge IT Portfolio Gallery for displaying my published work, and I’m really happy with the layouts it provides. Social Locker is another good one; it hides certain content, and you have to share the site or post on a social network to access the hidden content.

What is your experience with LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has a lot of potential energy, but so many people don’t use it. They want to be where their customers are––Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and so forth. And that’s fine, but they overlook LinkedIn as the boring site. It’s wonderful for making professional connections, and more importantly, being seen by thousands of peers. Their publishing platform, Pulse, is amazing and can generate substantial traffic. It’s one of the few free methods of getting page views that works like a charm.

To learn more about Ian please visit his website WritingLaunch.com and his book The No B.S. Guide to Freelance Writing.

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