How has your business changed since your first Member Spotlight interview?
My business is almost unrecognisable. It has evolved and completely transformed.
Lion Words is now the messaging strategy consultancy for growth-stage B2B and SaaS companies.
More than just new positioning, or branding, it feels like a freakin’ rebirth! I’ve left the copy-’writing’ bit behind, and stepped into a more strategic direction. I now offer services that allow me to deliver huge value for my clients in a way that plays into my strengths.
What’s been your biggest success since your first Member Spotlight interview?
After pushing myself to the brink of burnout multiple times in 2021 with very few days off, my biggest achievement came in 2022. And it wasn’t raising my rates or landing a dream client (even though I have achieved both of those things). It was taking my biggest break. 3 whole months off. Like, completely off.
I travelled. Disconnected. Rested. Enjoyed life. Not even a business book in sight!
It was priceless.
As a close second (I know you asked for one, but who doesn’t like a BOGOF?) being invited to speak at two copywriting conferences was pretty darn special. Huge thanks to Copywriter Club IRL and CopyCon22 for inviting me to Nashville and Brighton.
Why did you decide to focus on the kind of work you’re doing now?
After working on umpteen conversion copywriting projects, it was clear that research, discovery and strategy were fast becoming favourite parts of the copywriting process.
At the same time, I was surprised how many founders and marketing leaders were asking me for ‘copy’, yet they struggled to clearly articulate the things any good copywriter needs to know to actually write good copy:
Y’know – who they are, what they stand for, what their key message is, where they’re positioned in the market, how they’re different from the competition, why customers should choose them, and so on. All that juicy and proper essential stuff.
I realised there was a huge gap. So I started offering messaging strategy as its own standalone package alongside my conversion copywriting services. After a while, it became clear this was the work I was meant to do. My clients badly needed the clarity, and found so much value in the process. I loved it, excelled in it, and making copywriters’ lives easier is an added bonus!
So Lion Words, the messaging consultancy, was (re)born!
What are you enjoying most about your industry or niche?
I love that I get to work with people who are so much smarter than me.
SaaS and tech founders are a passionate, inspiring bunch of people — and excruciatingly smart. Sure, they get my expertise on messaging, but I learn a lot from them too. It’s a win win.
I also work with companies whose product I truly believe in. So helping them make an impact on people’s businesses and lives is a genuine joy.
What are you working on just now?
I’m wrapping up a messaging strategy project for a communication tech company in Estonia. They have a brilliant product but they have been struggling to articulate what makes them different. The real product benefits for their customers aren’t reflected clearly in their messaging.
I am helping them move away from competing on price and features, by developing a strategic narrative, establishing a differentiated point of view, and creating messaging that better explains their value and core uniqueness (in a way that’ll actually resonate with prospects).
Describe your desk and what’s on it
Firstly, please join me in celebrating the fact that, for the first time in 4 years, I haveth myself an office! A real office with a desk that’s mine… All mine!
*Slams the door behind me*
Now, where were we? Oh yeah…
My desk. Aside from my tech set up, I’ve got half-empty coffee mugs (yes, multiple), coloured post-it notes, pens at arms reach, and an excessive number of hand creams and lip balms. And a fair bit of rubbish too. And out the window I have a view over Barcelona’s higgedly-piggedly rooftops.
Tell us about your side projects
Running a business is a big enough project for me at the moment. It gets 100% of my dedication and attention. I’m all in on building this baby and developing my personal brand. There’s no space for side projects.
In my spare time, my focus is on resting, eating, working out, spending time with family and friends, eating, travelling, painting, reading, eating some more, and generally having a hoot.
P.s. my pet peeve is calling non-work related stuff ‘projects’. I get it. It does make sense, but it annoys the heck out of me regardless! Nothing ruins something fun quicker than calling it a project!
How has your writing process evolved?
It hasn’t really.
Now that I focus exclusively on messaging strategy, I still apply the same conversion-focused principles to my work. Research and discovery still makes up the meat of the project. And voice of customer research is still an essential, and foundational part of my process.
What do you wish copywriters were more honest about?
How long it takes to write good copy!
I’ve been there. I think we’ve all underestimated a project or overcommitted ourselves. But it’s our duty to set realistic expectations. Not only to ourselves, but also employers, and clients.
Particularly in the conversion copy space. Good copy takes time, it takes in-depth research, it can’t be done overnight. Not taking the lead and not being the one to set deadlines and timeframes can damage perceptions of the industry and lead to commoditization of a highly technical and valuable skill.
What advice do you often hear given to newbies, but you don’t agree with? Why?
That you should get X number of years experience under your belt before you can call yourself a ‘senior copywriter’. Or that you should get X number of projects/years in before you can charge Y.
I call BS on all of those ‘rules’.
People improve and advance at different speeds, they bring different skills to the table, they have previous life or work experience that sets them apart. Benchmarking your progress on some arbitrary ‘industry standards’ often puts an unnecessary limit on what’s possible. I find that feedback and results are often a bigger indicator of progress.
So yes, operate with integrity and never inflate your experience. But throw that old rulebook out the window!
Any lessons you’re still learning?
How to be kind to myself.
How to prioritise rest – consistently.
How to pace my coffee consumption.
How to sign off on a zoom call without waving.
How to take a screenshot on my new mac without spraining my fingers.
What’s something about your work that makes your inner copywriting nerd happy, but you’re not able to chat about enough?
The joy of working with words. Putting someone’s vision into words in a way that makes them nod and say ‘yeah, that’s us’ is priceless.
I have to talk about the concrete business outcomes to clients; consistency across the team, clearer positioning, increased conversions and sign-ups etc. (Because clients don’t buy words, they buy results)
But there’s something so butterflies-in-your-stomach-y about helping someone achieve great things. With only 26 letters! Playing around with syntax, switching up vocabulary, flirting with format and punctuation. Ah, the stuff of dreams.
If that ain’t nerdy, I dunno what is!