In today’s guest interview, I had the opportunity to interview Lisa Cumes. We connected on Instagram initially because of our passion for freelance writing and also her desire to help others discover the freelance life for themselves. Read more of her bio at the bottom of the show notes!
In 2017, after departing a current job, Lisa put out multiple resumes but did not hear a response from anyone in the traditional job space.
With bills hanging over her head, she knew she had to generate income, so she turned to Upwork and started applying for a variety of jobs from blogging to social media. This allowed her to discover what jobs she truly enjoyed and eventually led her to creating her freelance writing business.
Why Being a Better Freelancer is Better than Being a Great Writer
Lisa learned early on that businesses struggle with hiring freelancers and that if she was going to stand out from the crowd she needed to:
- Personalize pitches
- Follow through on timelines and delivery
- Over communicate
- Manage Expectations
- Deliver Value
How Lisa Grew Her Freelance Writing Business (and you can too!)
Lisa’s secret weapon was to get potential clients on a Zoom call. Doing this allowed her personality to shine through, and in business people like to work with people they like and trust! She scaled her business and so can you!
- Set Big Goals
- Understand What Motivates You
- Set up a Proven Process and then Invite Clients into that Process
- Listen to What Your Clients are Asking For
- Have a Growth Mindset
Lisa is a freelance copywriter and StoryBrand Guide who has built a 6 figure, online copywriting business, over the past 2 years. Last year, she shifted and scaled her business by bringing on a team of other copywriters to help more businesses and personal brands simplify their message and launch their mission. Find out more about her copywriting business at Simple Story Solutions.
She also has a passion for helping freelancers stop hustling and start building thriving full time businesses. As a mom of 3 kids, she knows how to navigate mommy guilt, actually be productive working from home and coaches other freelancers through The Copywriter Coach with online courses, coaching and free webinars.
Are You Ready to Start Your Freelance Writing Career?
If you are ready to take the next step and launch your freelance writing career, I would love to help you build momentum!
I still have a few spots left in my coaching program, fill out an application to learn more 1/1 coaching.
Speaker 1 Michael (00:01):
All right. Lisa, welcome to inspire your success podcast. I really appreciate you spending time with me and our audience today.
Speaker 2 Lisa (00:09):
Michael, what an honor. I’m so excited. We got connected through Instagram. We started like liking each other stuff that led to commenting that led to this guy is like talking my language like we need to actually talk in real life over video. And so I’m really glad we got to connect.
Speaker 1 (00:26):
Yeah, no, and thank you for reaching out and being proactive. That’s awesome. I uh, I actually, you inspired me and now anytime I’d meet someone or find someone on Instagram or medium, I’m just like, Hey, let’s jump on a call. Let’s talk.
Speaker 2 (00:36):
Make it happen. Right. It’s so good.
Speaker 1 (00:38):
Great. Well cool. Well, I actually just got to learn a little bit about your story and was just a, Florida was so excited. I felt there was a lot of commonalities with us, but I know everyone listening really wants to learn more about what it takes to build a writing business from scratch and just learning where your journey is. Because a lot of times when people get started, they’re overwhelmed and they want the success, they want all these things overnight. And I think it really helps sometimes to learn where you got started and to kind of take them back. So I would love to go back, I don’t know if it was a specific job or how you transitioned into this, but let’s give us a little bit of a background to uh, kind of set the foundation.
Speaker 2 (01:20):
No, and I appreciate that you focus on that with people that you speak with because it’s so easy to say where you are today and you do have to remind yourself of where you started. I’m looking over there at the kitchen table that I sat out for two years with just a laptop and notebook and I keep that kitchen table cause it keeps me humble. I’ve moved into something that’s a little more of an office and I’ve got a monitor. I’ve got some fancy stuff that really, we know where it all started. Not to go back to kindergarten or all those things. But I do have an entrepreneurial background and I never really was the corporate type or could sit in an office and be kind of like told what to do. And my background has been working with other really kind of successful entrepreneurs as they’re kind of like right hand or their, um, executor, the person that kind of gets the stuff done right.
Speaker 2 (02:10):
And so I’ve been around people that really big vision and then, uh, you know, put it into action. So I got to see what it’s like to start things from scratch. Um, I have a bit of a background in leadership development, working with people, sales and that’ll, we’ll talk about that later. Cause that’s one of the core elements of copywriting. People always ask, Oh, you know, you’re a writer. And I’m like, no, I’m not a writer. And in fact, that is as you’re building your business and you’re trying to figure out what to call yourself, right? So for probably two years, I didn’t even put the title of copywriter on, I didn’t even know what a copywriter was until enough people said, Oh, you’re a copywriter. And I was like, I like the sound of that. Right. Um, and so, you know, as people are building their business there, they may be trying to figure out who they are, where they fit.
Speaker 2 (03:01):
You know, one of my recommendations is to try to niche down into something so that you can put some roots in and get some experience in an area. And that may mean putting a title on yourself for a while until you really get a better idea of it. So how I really launched a writing business was being kicked out of the nest, kind of stepping away from a full time job with a paycheck and waiting for the next job to come along. In terms of, I think I told you this, I put out 20 perfect resumes with curated cover letters. I live in Los Angeles. Of course I’m going to get a hired just like that. And the first week went by and the second week went by and in the meantime I hop on Upwork and I start hustling. I start writing blogs. I start saying, yeah, I can do that.
Speaker 2 (03:49):
Yeah, I can do that. And I had such a free kind of attitude about it cause I was like, Oh, I’m just going to do this until I get hired. Then the phone didn’t ring and the emails didn’t come in and I woke up one day in a panic and I just said, Oh my God, nobody is coming to rescue me. Like that is such a visceral like, Oh my God. Like I have to pick myself. And that’s when the hunger really set in. And here I am a single mom with three kids and I’m like, I need to make some money. Plus my ego was so big where I left my other job. I was like, they can’t see me struggle. I thought I was going to be a rock star. I better make myself into a rockstar. And so I started this journey of uh, working on Upwork
Speaker 1 (04:36):
and what a year did all this start.
Speaker 2 (04:39):
So that started 2017 yeah, 2017 is when I left full time. Got back on to Upwork. Um, I it have been dabbling in it for over a few years. And so that is one of the things I was like to say. Disclaimer, I didn’t start from scratch. I had a little bit of experience, a couple of reviews here and there. Um, it does help if you’ve got, you know, some sort of traction on there just to get yourself over the hump of the first couple of jobs. Um, but yeah, I had to make it work. So now we’re talking about the fall of 2017, I’d say October, November when I said this is what I do. And I stopped spending time and energy looking for a job and said, I’m going to figure out how to make this work. And again, I picked up blogging jobs, social media jobs. Like I was one of those people that kind of picked up whatever would come along. Um, one for the money and two, just to figure out what I really liked doing.
Speaker 1 (05:36):
Yeah. That, that’s, that’s the part right there where I feel like I really want to dig in because so many people, I feel like the biggest thing I’ve heard in the last few months on medium and from the podcast and Instagram is people just don’t know how to get those first clients. It seems like that is like the hardest thing. And for me, uh, I was in a similar spot, right? I mean I had already quit my job. I had been blogging for seven months. Nothing was working. I mean I was really like at the point where I, my back was against the wall. If I didn’t figure out how to make money writing, I would literally have to go back to the real world. And like you, you way too big of an ego. I was like, I would rather max out every credit card and sell my house before someone sees me.
Speaker 1 (06:16):
Go back to a nine to five. That was my mentality. I didn’t have to do that thankfully. But there were some dark points. Right. And so I forced myself to do it. And it sounds like that’s kind of where you were as well. So I don’t want everyone to feel like they have to hit rock bottom or dark. What do you think is key to really getting those clients were, were you just relentlessly pitching and just trying to get anything in the beginning? Was that one of the things that you feel like really set you apart?
Speaker 2 (06:42):
Okay, so thank you for asking these questions. I am taking myself mentally back there because first of all, it was a roller coaster. Every day, every day woke up going, Oh shit, it’s all going to fall apart today. Like today is the day. And then I’d get through the day and I’m like, I got another client. Right. Um, so here’s, here’s what I would, here’s, here’s some things I would say, one, take the jobs that you can get. All right. I did take the jobs that I could get. I did price myself a little bit lower in the beginning. I think I started at $35 an hour blogging. Okay. Okay. And that’s actually probably pretty high for a blogger that not had, doesn’t have a lot of experience on Upwork work to be honest.
Speaker 1 (07:22):
So you’re an hourly to start and you were doing blogging, those kind of first ones?
Speaker 2 (07:26):
Yeah, I was my problem, but my problem was not problem, but I realized I was letting the clients tell me what they needed and what they wanted. Okay. And so as we get through the story, you’re going to see how that changes and you have to change that. But I was letting them direct me and tell me what they wanted. Kind of like Ala cart. Lisa, could you do this? Yes I can. Can you do this? So I have an attitude of say yes and figure it out. Okay. I always figure it out, but I’ll always say yes, I have a bias for yes. And then I’m like, I’ll either say, but that’s going to cost you more or it’s going to be this much time, or let me go figure out how to do it right. Google, how do you do this? But I would say yes.
Speaker 2 (08:04):
So that was the first thing. Um, and I was very concerned with my delivery, the quality, the communication. Here’s the thing, I think that is so, so, so important, uh, for working with clients online. Yes, your writing needs to be good, but do you need to be so, so diligent at following up on your timelines, your deliveries over communicate, manage expectations, deliver, deliver, deliver in terms of value. And um, the writing, you know, again, it can be good, can be great, could be so, so, uh, people really, there’s, they’ve been burned so many times by freelancers, people who didn’t show up, people who never delivered. And so I believe that I won more than half of my jobs in the first year because I personalized my response. I looked into their business. If they gave me the website, like I actually cared. It wasn’t cut, paste, cut, paste, cut, paste. I really went after them as a client. I visualize it, it will be like to work for them. I would come home and I, my partner should have like, Oh my God, I got to talk to this company today and I’d love to work for it. Like I really put myself there. I actually probably manifested a lot of the jobs I got because I was so excited about the possibility of working with them.
Speaker 1 (09:19):
Wow. That, that is so cool. I’m so glad you said that. I, I was just talking to one of my students last week and I was like, have you done like an ideal client meditation or visualization and just imagine what that would be like. And so it’s so cool to hear you say that because I’ve done that in my own business and it sounds a little out there for some people for sure. But it definitely attracts the right people to you. And I’m so glad you said that too, that everyone thinks you have to be this amazing writer. But I would argue that you have to be a better freelancer. You don’t get people to even say yes to anything. They’ll never see your writing, even if it’s the best thing ever. So very, very great stuff.
Speaker 2 (09:57):
Just showing up, being professional, being personal, being um, personalized or customized, having a great, if we’re going to talk about online and Upwork and that kind of stuff, having a great professional photo. I didn’t even have a great website. Honestly, I did not even have a great website to start at all. I wasn’t even in the website business really. I had to like show blogs. I wrote from my own personal blah, blah, blah, blah. Right? But I knew how to win people over. I knew how to communicate over and over again. People are like, you’re more than a blogger. Every time I got on a call and I’m like, yeah, but this is how I’m starting. So I didn’t let my ego get in the way. I didn’t try to tell people, Oh, but I’m better than this and I am. I didn’t try to defend myself.
Speaker 2 (10:40):
I just tried to serve at the level that I was at. Always knowing that more are when people like you and they can see potential, there’s always more opportunity. There’s always more behind the story than you think. And that is the thing. If you think that people are just hiring you just to write a blog, you never know what’s on the other side of the screen and what that client’s going through. And if you can show value and show that you can partner with them, I mean they’ll give you another shot and another shot and like, Hey, do you think you hit is thing people hate looking for freelancers. They do not want to spend all day vetting, interviewing, checking, wondering if you do a good job for them. Once chances are they will give you another opportunity. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, they go, I like you and you’ll deliver and you’re going to figure it out. So here’s the chance
Speaker 1 (11:27):
I, I hope everyone just like go back and listen to that again. I’ve been shaking my head for like 10 minutes, just like a bobble head over here because I agree with everything you’re saying and it’s so, so powerful. And one thing you just talked about was following up and getting on the phone. So in those first like let’s go back to maybe the first like six months, cause there’s so many people that are just like, I know I can do it. And like you said, I know I have the skills and I’m probably more than just a writer, but they just, they can’t seem to like get over that hurdle. It sounds like you were pretty much, like you said you were going a little lower just to get some clients who were getting on the phone. Is that something I feel like I’ve, I’ve heard from other writers, they’re like anti phone, they don’t want to do it, but for a lot of personalities, I think getting on the phone is one of the easiest way to get clients. Yes. It’s not scary, right? It actually lets your personality shine and it makes it a lot easier than an email exchange. Wouldn’t you agree?
Speaker 2 (12:21):
100%. In fact, I knew my secret weapon was getting on a zoom call, not even a phone call. I don’t even like phone calls. In fact, I do everything possible to not get on a phone call and only do zoom. I do it very politely now. I have a very, uh, um, kind of slick process that people kind of just fall into scheduling a zoom call before they even know and they’re like, Oh crap, what am I going to be on video with you? And even if somebody schedules a phone call right before they’ll say, Hey, I would love to just jump on a zoom if it’s convenient. If not, I totally understand. Like I politely, because if they see me and I get to work my magic and ask the right questions and just connect with them there, their mind, their eyes, they melt, they just kind of go, why would I not?
Speaker 2 (13:05):
Because basically you’re giving them a taste of what it’s like to work with you. Now I understand that some people are like maybe just strict writers, they don’t even have consultations with clients. But I do think people want to be heard. I think that people on a platforms like Upwork struggle to communicate what they really need in their job posting. What I want you guys to know, and again, I’m probably getting ahead of myself, but I’ve been on the other side of it as a client hiring freelancers. And I can tell you that the hoops I had to jump through just to get a dang post up was so confusing and so frustrating. And oftentimes people will write stuff that they don’t really mean or don’t really understand. Clients don’t really know what they need. Okay. And so, um, when I get on the phone with somebody or I do pick up, if they ask me really good questions and they listen to me like that is half the battle. I’m like, wow, these people care. They’re actually gonna partner with me. So on the reverse, that’s what you want to communicate to somebody is that you hear them, you ask the right questions and that you will partner with them to get the job done.
Speaker 1 (14:14):
Yeah. That is so, so good. Was there a point, um, you were talking about the, the ideal clients seem to come to you, you, you were starting to attract them. Was there a certain like goal that you had or, or what was that like for six, eight months or maybe even a year? Did you have like a goal that you’re like, if I just made 5,000 or 10,000 or what was like, I’ve made it, Oh my gosh, I was there that moment. Cause for me it felt like forever. I was, I was in that same space of wake up, worry, panic. Oh my gosh, am I going to make this, this? Are you sure someone’s not going to take me back to the real world? Like, so what was that like for you?
Speaker 2 (14:48):
You know, I keep, um, I still to this day keep an spreadsheet of like clients and just the invoices and the dollars that every now and then when I get down on myself, I’d go back to the first ones and realized that I was invoicing at like times 150 and $250. Now my invoices are somewhere around 2000 for the same work. I just want to encourage you that the prices will always go up. And one of the things that I think is so important about where you’re at and where you want to go, here’s a few things where you’re at today is not where you’re always going to be. It may feel like it, you may feel like I cannot do this for another year. I just don’t realize you’re not, you’re always evolving and is always going to be changing. The second is to not get attached to the outcome.
Speaker 2 (15:38):
Trying to say I am this or I am going to be this with, especially in the beginning, you kind of have to go where the opportunity every time a door opened I was like, yep, yep, yep. And it just, it kind of led me down the right path to keep saying yes to the same type of work. And that’s another conversation we can have in a minute about how do you set up a process? How do you actually now figure out where your niche is and then really stick in that lane. Right? But in the early days I just said yes a lot. I never said, well, you know, that is not what I expected. So I’m not, I just kept saying yes and um, when you’re asking like how did I only made it, I used to watch my bank account go up. It was a really funny thing.
Speaker 2 (16:21):
Um, I wasn’t sophisticated with QuickBooks yet and I hadn’t, you know, gotten my invoicing. I just had an Excel spreadsheet and I watched the numbers go up and I’m like, if I could just get over 10,000, right. Like that was a big deal. And so setting little tiny markers, you know, maybe at the end of the week, um, money was my motivator. But you could go by how many, um, uh, you know, jobs, you apply for, how many proposals you write, you’re gonna have to go with something you can control versus just kind of saying, I got to hit 20,000 and I’m not really sure how to do it. You actually have to back yourself into the pipeline. And we’re going into sales here, but how many jobs do you apply for? How many do you get a chance to do a discovery call with always do a discovery call? How do you meet proposals? Do you send, how many follow ups on the proposals? Um, that is kind of like a pipeline and, and do you have a pipeline like that or is that something that you work with?
Speaker 1 (17:15):
Yeah, no, I, I completely agree. I mean that’s like one of the biggest things is control what you can control. And that’s what I always tell everyone because everyone is like, I want the money, which I get, but the, the money is a byproduct of doing the things right. It’s, it’s, cause I used to work in sales, I used to do national sales at Yelp and I would do so many calls and different things. But like you said, if the pipeline wasn’t there, you’re never going to hit your quota. And so it was just figuring out, all right, I need to have just figuring out your close ratio. Right? It’s figuring out how to reach out to who you’re getting on the phone with, who’s setting appointments and who’s saying yes, who’s saying no, as long as you get even a note, it doesn’t matter.
Speaker 1 (17:51):
That’s one closer to a yes. Right. And so that’s really, really good because everyone wants the money, which is easy to do. And I used to do that. I used to have these 10,000 a month income goals, but then it would just be a pipe dream because I would not reverse engineer it. And then I’d make a thousand or 2000 bucks. I’m like, Oh, I’m not a very good writer. I’m not very good. And it’s like, well, wait a second. You have to set yourself up. And once I started doing that, that’s really when, when my business took off and what I always encourage everyone else to do. So yeah, it sounds like we have a lot in common in, in that sense. So what point did you feel like you started to really transition and like w like one year for some reason when I hit that one year I wasn’t that quote unquote successful yet. A year or two was a lot better. But like it was just like how I made it a whole year on my own. Did you have some sort of a anniversary or epiphany moment where you’re like, I can really do this?
Speaker 2 (18:43):
I think it happened when I did my taxes. Like I literally was not paying, it’s something I wasn’t paying attention, but I went and did my taxes and my, my accountant said, listen, you don’t have enough expenses here. Like you’re gonna pay a lot of taxes. And I lit up and I was like, awesome. Like the idea of paying a lot of Taxes because the year before, if I can be honest, I was on like, um, you know, a subsidy support. My kids were getting free lunches, you know, because I divorced and I had not gotten my income up. I live in California for goodness sakes. Those and not easy to, it’s easy to not be making enough money. And so, um, I knew when I did that and he’s like, Oh you owe taxes this year. I was like, hello, I think I have a business here. And then, then one of my clients was asking me about my business model and I told him how much I earn. I did break six figures my first year, which I never made that much money in my whole life ever. Even in a job like, um, and because
Speaker 1 (19:46):
there a real quick cause I, I love that and I want you just kind of breezed over it. No problem. But you made, so you made more in your first year as a freelancer on Upwork primarily than you ever did in a nine to five in your first year
Speaker 2 (19:59):
ever. I have a college degree in economics. I’ve worked since
Speaker 1 (20:04):
[inaudible]. You want to know you’re crushing it, but like that’s so cool. And hopefully people can resonate with that because it’s not going to happen in week one, month one, Oh my God. Your head down, you do the work and you get those clients, you can look back in a year and be like, Whoa, I just made six figures.
Speaker 2 (20:18):
Here’s how it happened and this is what, this is the reality of it. I had 52 clients in a year. I invoiced them each five or six times. The invoices were like $250 $350. Like that’s the funny thing is when it comes in and drips and drabs like that, there’s no big jump. There’s no like, Oh right. Um, and because it was going in and out of my bank account and I was spending it on rent and stuff like it accumulated until I literally added it up and did my taxes and I am not so much a finance person. And while money is important at that time I wasn’t keeping track. I just knew I had you know, money in the bank. And what I want to say is it’s not one big client. It’s not landing the project. Oh my gosh, it’s the, it’s the day in and day out.
Speaker 2 (21:08):
I feel like I did boot camp with some, you know, some people are like, wow, I had 10 clients for the year. I was like, I had 52 dang. Do you know what 52 clients means? And I can say 51 of them were from Upwork, which means I had to apply to a job, get on a discovery call, send out a proposal to probably 150 maybe even 200 to get those 50 right. And then keep them, you know how some people like they get started and like this doesn’t work. I kept all of them. So that is what I’m proud of is like just kind of chipping away, chipping away. So the next year, so I did 125,000 my first year my goal- was a hundred and I went over that – actually by 25%
Speaker 1 (21:51):
so that’s a big goal to set in the first year and that, and you know, like you said, you had a couple of reviews, but it’s not like you would have made 50,000 already. And I’m like, Oh, I can make a hundred right. Hold it. You set for yourself.
Speaker 2 (22:02):
I was just like, let’s grow for six figures. I’m actually one of the people that sets big goals in is okay if I don’t hit them because if they’re big enough, they’re like pretty awesome. And so then the next year I kind of had a giggle to myself as like, Oh, I’m going to, I’m on a double that. Right. And I knew that was impossible as a, as a single person. Like I just was like, well this is impossible. But then I realized if I increased, continue to increase my prices, reduce the time it took me to work with clients, get a few more better paying clients. It did not take much to tweak that. And so one of the things is you’ve got to have patience. Settle in, stop dabbling, stop toying around with this, stopped doing it on the side. Stop doing it until like all of that I think messes with you. You’re laughing messes with you.
Speaker 1 (22:50):
Because I’ve been there that I was, I dabbled in seven online businesses at one time because I the writing for some reason and so that’s why I’m laughing cause I, I I wish 2018 Michael could’ve heard this. So this is, this is great.
Speaker 2 (23:04):
Yeah. So you just, you just, you, you dig in and then you say, you know what? I’ve got to write this down in a template. Like this keeps coming up. But that’s how I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I was like, Hmm, I need an intake form for clients because I keep asking the same questions. So I started to work on the business in terms of, okay, if I’m going to do this for a long time, how do I make this easier on myself? I think that’s when the mind switches over. Instead of being thankful you got another job and Oh I got another one, I got like [inaudible]. And so here’s the cool thing. When you create a process and then you communicate to people, you have a process, like you’re serious, like you know what you’re doing. I’m like, yeah, I take people through a process all the time and they’re like, it just changes the game. And that is again, a whole nother topic of when instead of people telling you what to do and then paying you for it, I invite them and say, would you like to be part of my process? You can pay me and I will take you through my process. You are mine. I am not yours.
Speaker 1 (24:11):
I’m a part too of like advanced freelancing. But cause I know that you have a lot on that. But yeah, no, I couldn’t agree more with that. And, and having processes set up and just, I love that you said just dig in right. As so many people dabble and uh, I, I’m guilty of it as well. We want that overnight success. So, you know, you move into it. Uh, obviously year two went good, now you’re into year three. You’re, you’re doing great. I want to give people some more, I guess context on what, uh, what you would recommend for people that are just getting started. Because again, I know we’ve talked a little bit about would you recommend Upwork? Would you recommend picking a niche, a, a website? Like there’s blogging. I mean, there’s so many things and so many ways you can do it. Um, but again, you’ve had a lot of success obviously in your different arenas and niches, and so I’d love to know what you would recommend to someone that’s like dabbling or maybe just landed a first few clients, but just trying to figure out what they need to do as the next step.
Speaker 2 (25:09):
Love it. I think the first thing is to ask yourself, what lights you up? What could you wake up and do every day? Like what is the thing you like to do? Even though you see, here’s the problem, if you scroll through Upwork and you see all the jobs, literally yesterday I was a little down and I was like, I might start taking email campaign gigs, right? I hate writing emails, and I was like, I saw so many of them. I started, my mind started going, Oh, you should be doing that. You’re missing out. And if you decide what you’re going to do based on just like the scrolling and seeing, you’re going to chase things that are not something you can sustain, something that lights you up, something that you can then dig in and say, I own this space. Like this is who I am.
Speaker 2 (25:51):
I am a StoryBrand copywriter. And if you go on Upwork, I am the StoryBrand a copywriter. Now, I did not set out to do that, but as I saw that as an opportunity, I was like, I’m going to own this space and this is good. Upwork. How many million people are on Upwork as freelancers? It is possible to own real estate there that you are a thought leader. So for number one, figure out what you love to do. Okay. The second would be right, right? The clear words that explain that, like be clear on how you help people with that. Identify the problem they’re facing first. Always start with the problem they’re facing and then say that how you can help them and you need to put that on your profile. Whatever profile you’re on is Upwork or crowded space. Probably. Um, I think one of my, one of my biggest, uh, uh, benefits was getting on it kind of in the early days.
Speaker 2 (26:49):
I would probably recommend to people to find another platform. Upwork is ripe for disruption. It, that thing is going to blow up very soon because it is such a behemoth. And so it’s not gonna take long for another upstart. There’s probably 10 of them. I have an article, maybe I’ll send you the link to that says the 10, uh, alternatives to Upwork. Find one you love, you love their values, you love everything about them, and then maybe settle in there and try to become like a founding freelancer on there and build your brand off of that. Um, that may be a suggestion. I just want to be careful to say Upwork works for me, but I think I was on it when it was Elance and then guru than Upwork. And thankfully they’ve carried my profile all the way through, which means it looks like I’ve been on there for like 12 years. Just a veteran on the platform. Yeah. Which, you know, when I say like, Oh, get on Upwork. They’re like, it’s not that easy. I got rejected. Some people get rejected.
Speaker 1 (27:46):
with a few students recently. And I if I was the same way, I mean it was like when I started a few years ago, it was cake. I mean it took like a minute and I was approved. Right. And so, yeah, but I mean, I think at the end of the day, the, the writing isn’t itself, you know, the thing, it’s about getting clients, finding a niche. I think that’s so important. Uh, how did you get into the StoryBrand? I know this is something a little bit new. I just want to talk a bit about it because I, I hadn’t even heard of that when we talked on our last call. And, uh, yeah, it sounds like you’re really owning it. I think you said there was a certification program, I believe. Um, so you had to talk a little bit about what you’re doing now on a daily basis and what kind of content you write or copyright.
Speaker 2 (28:23):
Sure. So, um, Donald Miller wrote a book called building a StoryBrand. I’d grab it, but it’s just sitting over there. And, um, I, I heard about this probably four years ago before I was even on Upwork and love the framework, which basically, uh, sets your customer as the hero in the story. You play the role of the guide and it’s not about you. You change all of your messaging in your writing to be customer centric. And everybody’s nodding their head like, yeah, of course. Oh my gosh. How many people tell me that they do that? I go and look at their website and I was like, you still don’t get it right? I, we, us our, I, we us our like, no, no, no, no, no, no. Those are dirty words. We don’t talk about it that way. Um, so when you, when you have that paradigm shift of like, Oh, it really is about the customer, they only care about their own story and their own success, you might as well play into that.
Speaker 2 (29:18):
Now, if you’re blogging content, writing, copywriting, Facebook ad writing, this applies, I encourage you, StoryBrand is pretty much cheap and easy to read. Find the book. Um, you can do the StoryBrand course now for $275. Pretty much. It’s everywhere. It’s out there. I’m not Hawking it or selling it or even promoting it. But what happened is I started using it with my clients as a StoryBrand. I don’t know, coach, I wasn’t certified and then realized that there is, there was enough people in Upwork messaging me saying, are you certified? I was like, huh? Your customers will tell you what they want. If you listen and pay attention, they will keep asking you, do you do blogging or do you do SEO or do you, if you hear it enough times you’re like, I should learn that because people keep asking me about it. So I had enough people say, are you certified as like I will be just a minute.
Speaker 2 (30:12):
Went to Nashville, paid the money, got certified, got the badge and um, did learn a lot as well. But it allowed me to some cases double my rates because of that certification. Um, and, and StoryBrand is just a, a framework for, uh, lead generators, emails, especially website copy and landing pages. And that is my niche at the moment is helping people get clear on who they are and what they do. And then putting that into words on a website. Um, let me, let me introduce another tool or a strategy that I think all writers should know about and probably incorporate and it’s using wire frames. Um, if you’re familiar with the concept of wire frames, it’s kinda like an architect’s blueprint. Um, a drawing of what the building is going to look like and if you are going to create anything that has structure to it, a website, a landing page, a lead generator, maybe even a email newsletter, you should draw it out for your clients so they can see where the words go in content goes in. Context is one of the things that really set me apart and added value to my clients. I shouldn’t give this away. This is my secret, is that I give clients full wire frames so I don’t just write the words for their website and say, good luck. Hope you put them in the right place. I tell them exactly where to put it, what the size of the font should look like in the small font. I help them really visualize what the words look like kind of in real life.
Speaker 1 (31:44):
Yeah. And I think everyone learns differently. So I think that that helps a lot visually. I know I’m a visual person, so if I hired you to do a landing page like for me that would help a lot. So I think that that’s good. And I feel like you’re, you’re always learning. Like you’re, you’re, you’re, I mean obviously you, you were always going to be successful to me. I mean you, you got to go get her mentality. Uh, you’re always learning. I’m curious if you, you seem very self aware, like you said, I kept hearing StoryBrand, StoryBrand, StoryBrand. A lot of people would just be like, Oh, what’s, you know, whatever. Like it wouldn’t take it. So as far as like, do you do anything on a regular basis? You feel like that really helps you for being a great entrepreneur? Is it a any morning routines, evening routines or things that you have done? Because again, for me, you seem very self aware and that to me has been one of the biggest themes of anyone on this show or any mastermind them in or anyone you know, event I’m at. It seems like the people that are the most successful are very aware of where they can improve and their strengths and they really doubled down on that. So anything you could recommend?
Speaker 2 (32:45):
Yeah, 100% I do think that having a one, a growth mindset is important. Realizing that even though, so last year on Upwork I did 270,000 I’ll just show the numbers just so people understand like what the potential is on Upwork. Okay. And I hired a team. I still all that because um, when you have a growth mindset, you have to sh I had to shift from being a single solo freelancer to building a team. I didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t even think it was possible. Like why would a freelancer ever have a team? Right. And so I listened to podcasts religiously every day. I listened to a podcast, some of my favorite are the StoryBrand podcast, entree leadership. I listened to Tom, Billy, you and Brendan Bouchard. I follow these guys and I watched them and I say, well, what are they doing that I’m not doing?
Speaker 2 (33:37):
How do you build a team? How do you hire? Um, so that’s the first thing I pay for coaching. I am a coach, but I pay for coaching. I believe in coaching. Um, I paid to be in a room of, with a mastermind that was way above my playing field. And the only way to get where you want to go is to be around people who are already there. Right? The conversations are so different than I’m having, and I’m like, Oh, you just said stuff. I don’t even know what you’re saying. Could you explain that to me? Right. I have first conversation people had with me about my net worth. I was like, my net worth, like, what’s in my bank? And they’re like, no. And I’m like, Oh. So I think being humble, realizing the more you, the more I’ve learned, the more I was like, what else don’t I know?
Speaker 2 (34:25):
Like what else can I take this not settling. I am not going to be a freelancer on Upwork for much longer. Like this has been a stepping stone to then show me new opportunities. Right? So that’s always important. Always reading books. So I have a book on the go every morning. I’m listening. Spiritual growth is really important to me. I feel like when you are connected to your inner, to what you know, your intuition, your inner spirit, whatever you want to call it, it has all the answers you need. So I can read it out of a book or I can be quiet and meditate and go, Hmm, what? What am I saying to myself and listening and that always the problem with it. It’s always an answer I don’t want to hear. It’s not always the easy answer. So that one’s the challenging one is hearing it and then actually acting on it.
Speaker 1 (35:16):
Yeah, no, that’s a great, I couldn’t agree more. Everything you need is inside of you, but it’s up to you to get quiet enough sometimes to pull it out and listen and actually hear what your intuition is saying. So thank you for sharing so much of your journey and all the numbers and just the mindset stuff and everything else that really, I know people are going to hear this and just have so much inspiration and ready to take. And so hopefully that’s what people can learn from you is that you didn’t just sit there and hope people were going to find you. You are pitching 52 clients a hundred. I mean, I’m inspired right now. So before I ask my last question, I would love to, uh, let you, uh, talk about anything you’re doing, uh, where people can find you and follow you to really learn more and potentially work together.
Speaker 2 (35:58):
Yeah. Well I love what you’re doing. So the thing that grabbed my attention, Michael, about what you’re doing is that you are actually wanting to coach and teach people who want to do what you do. Right? And I think that is so powerful. You could go to a university or you know, a register for an online class. Yeah, there’s lots of ways to get better, but I think in this day and age, if you find somebody that you like and you trust and you say, I bet this guy can show me what he knows. Yes, I’m going to pay him. I’m going to pay her for their time and their expertise. You can shortcut your learning curve. You can hack your career and shortcut. So I did this literally on my, I didn’t know a single other part. Nobody asked me what Upwork was. Nobody knew what a freelancer was.
Speaker 2 (36:44):
I’d say what I did people like, you’re weird. Like I work from home and get clients online. I didn’t know anybody, but what I’m trying to do now is a similar to what you’re doing is to say, listen, I’ll tell you everything I got. I’m going to package it up in a course or coaching or something, but if you want to do what I do, just I would tell you, and if you do it so we know the battalion does. Most people don’t do it or don’t have the capacity to do it. But what you’re doing I think is amazing and I think people would benefit from connecting directly to you, paying you for your expertise in your time. And we know the coaches always give way more than the value of what they cost. Like all you want is for your students to succeed.
Speaker 2 (37:22):
So the fact that they’re looking at their dollar amount going in, I don’t know if I can make that back. I didn’t know Michael’s going to deliver a bazillion times more than whatever the cost of that thing is. But you’ve got to put a price on it, right? So I have to do what you’re doing very, very soon. In the meantime, I’m trying to build this business, but one of the things I did want to give away, I feel that is really helpful. You can find it on my, on my website is how to create an effective or a killer elevator pitch. So if you are a person who’s trying to figure out who they are and what they’re doing, you’re like, Lisa, what did you do? I’m able to say I have people put words on a website, right? I, you know, oftentimes businesses struggle to communicate their ideas in a simple way. I write words that people can understand so that you can grow your business and make more money. Right. I can say that. So if you go to my website, very at the bottom is a worksheet that you can work out on your own. It’s free and it’ll help you try to distill down who you are, what problem you solve, who you help. Um, so that’s it. Simple story solutions.com
Speaker 1 (38:23):
Okay, great. Yeah, thank you again for the kind words and I’ll definitely link to that in the show notes. People can go right over and uh, yeah, follow you. And what’s your Instagram handle again?
Speaker 2 (38:33):
Is Lisa Coombs. Um, so my name is a bit funny, C. U. M. E. S but I’m always giving away, um, content on copywriting, lead generators, emails. Like I’m forever putting out free stuff on how to become a better copywriter, particularly in copywriting, but, and freelancing as well.
Speaker 1 (38:51):
Great. Great. Well, again, uh, I love so much that we’ve talked about. I, I, we could talk for hours. I think we’re gonna have to do some sort of workshop or event together. Uh, but for my last question, I’m curious, what is it that you think is the number one mindset shift or belief that a freelancer or a new entrepreneur needs to have to really make it and succeed even when things are tough in the beginning?
Speaker 2 (39:17):
I think it has to do with the idea that you never know how something’s going to turn out. When you have a fixed mindset and you believe, Oh, this client’s going to do this, they’re going to do this. This is if you, if you would let go number one, don’t put all your eggs in one basket with one client. Really spread yourself across with proposals and let whatever is meant to be happen. Like I tried to force so much stuff from the beginning and it got me so frustrated and anxiety and, and, and just worried. And I said, you know what? Whoever I’m supposed to work with is who I’m supposed to work with. And I know that sounds so passive. I hustled my butt off to send out all the proposals and follow up, but in the end, the right people came at the right time and I stopped being so much in control and said, it is going to happen for me. Right, and that I am. I do not have to worry about it. I have to hustle and put the work in. I know that’s not a quick one liner, but it really, it really did change everything for me when I relaxed a little and said, give it some time, be patient, stick with it, wake up everyday and do the same thing. It’s very boring advice, but I don’t know. It’s worked. It’s how I got to be where I’m at. Right.
Speaker 1 (40:28):
No, I mean to me that was a, that was a Mike drop moment. So boring or not, that’s like that’s what people need to hear because starting a business and any type of business or freelancing, writing, copywriting, it’s not always going to be just magical firework, tons of money, the best clients. It just doesn’t start like that. But that’s why most people quit. And like you said, keep hustling, stay consistent, stay persistent. That is why you are where you are. So thank you so much, Lisa. Oh my gosh. I was so much.
Speaker 2 (40:57):
Thank you. This has been awesome. And you’re doing such a great job, like delivering value to your listeners and stuff. So, um, I think you’re amazing.
Speaker 1 (41:06):
Well, I really, really appreciate it. And guys, I will, I’ll link to everything in the show notes. But Lisa, thank you so much again for spending time with me today.
Speaker 2 (41:14):
Thank you. Bye.
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