Level Up Your Course Podcast with Janelle Allen: Create Online Courses that Change Lives

Writing Copy & Case Studies that Work for You with Joel Klettke

Episode Summary

What’s up everyone! We’re back this week with Joel Klettke, the founder of Business Casual Copywriting and Case Study Buddy. Joel has created very successful workshops and courses and he’s here to talk copywriting, course creation, and growing a client base. Joel launched Business Casual Copywriting in 2013, focusing on content marketing assets and website copy. He’s worked with clients like HubSpot, WP Engine, Safelite, and Ion Interactive. Two years later, he started helping clients understand their customers better and improve their conversion rates with conversion copywriting. Tune in to hear Joel’s copywriting journey, how he created Case Study Buddy, his copywriting advice, and how you can write effective case studies. Enjoy! Episode Quotes "The best way to grow your client base is to network and make connections." "My strategy has always been to solve problems in public, be useful first, worry about selling later." "It's not about genius, it's about discipline and repetition." "Confidence is a byproduct of a solid process - when you know what you are doing and why you are doing it." "I don’t want to work to make a living. I want to work to build a life." Listen to Learn 00:21 - Rapid 5 Questions 04:45 - How Joel got into copywriting 09:41 - Going freelance growing a client base 13:14 - The shift to course creation 18:17 - Marketing as a service-based business 24:23 - How Joel started Case Study Buddy 32:51 - Copywriting best practices & pitfalls 40:36 - Leveraging audience feedback 45:39 - Tips on copywriting for course creators 47:52 - Exciting things coming up from Joel Connect with Joel BusinessCasualCopywriting.com CaseStudyBuddy.com Follow Joel on Twitter! Looking for the Transcript? Episode 130

Episode Notes

What’s up everyone! We’re back this week with Joel Klettke, the founder of Business Casual Copywriting and Case Study Buddy. Joel has created very successful workshops and courses and he’s here to talk copywriting, course creation, and growing a client base. 

Joel launched Business Casual Copywriting in 2013, focusing on content marketing assets and website copy. He’s worked with clients like HubSpot, WP Engine, Safelite, and Ion Interactive. Two years later, he started helping clients understand their customers better and improve their conversion rates with conversion copywriting. 

Tune in to hear Joel’s copywriting journey, how he created Case Study Buddy, his copywriting advice, and how you can write effective case studies. Enjoy! 


Episode Quotes

"The best way to grow your client base is to network and make connections."

"My strategy has always been to solve problems in public, be useful first, worry about selling later."

"It's not about genius, it's about discipline and repetition."

"Confidence is a byproduct of a solid process - when you know what you are doing and why you are doing it."

"I don’t want to work to make a living. I want to work to build a life."


Listen to Learn

00:21 - Rapid 5 Questions

04:45 - How Joel got into copywriting

09:41 - Going freelance growing a client base

13:14 - The shift to course creation  

18:17 - Marketing as a service-based business

24:23 - How Joel started Case Study Buddy

32:51 - Copywriting best practices & pitfalls

40:36 - Leveraging audience feedback 

45:39 - Tips on copywriting for course creators   

47:52 - Exciting things coming up from Joel


Connect with Joel



Follow Joel on Twitter! 


Looking for the Transcript?

Episode 130

Episode Transcription

Joel Klettke: So the first mistake, I would say people would make writing products is they don't listen. They don't ask their audience. They don't document that feedback. The first step for you should be to listen and to document, send out a survey or get some of your prospects, people you hope will buy this thing, on the phone and conduct an interview just like this: B.D.A, before, during, after.

So what was going on in your life, you know, before, and if you haven't launched your thing yet, or if they haven't found a solution yet in the, during and after won't necessarily apply, but talk to them about what their life looks like and what they've tried to solve that problem and why that hasn't worked for them or why it has worked for them.

Janelle Allen: Welcome to Level Up Your Course, where we pull back the curtain on what it takes to create learning that transforms lives. You will hear stories from business owners like you who share their success and their struggles. This is not where you come to hear passive income myths, friend. This is where you learn the truth about building a profitable learning platform. I am your host, Janelle Allen, and this is today's episode.

What's up everyone? Today I am speaking with Joel Klettke, copywriter and founder of Business Casual Copywriting, as well as Casestudy Buddy. Joel has also conducted some very successful workshops. And we're going to talk about that. I invited him on the show to share his story because he's also working on an online course. So Joel, welcome to the show.

JK: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to chat.

JA: Yeah, likewise. So I know you've listened to a few episodes, so you know that we have a tradition on the show called the Rapid Five, five quick questions to help listeners get to know you. Are you ready?

JK: I'm ready. Let's do it.

JA: Number one. What did you have for breakfast?

JK: I did not have breakfast because I've been trying out intermittent fasting and it is working for me.

JA: Okay. Number two. What is the last role that you broke?

JK: The last rule that I broke was probably, I parked in a space you're not -- not, not like a handicap zone, but like a fire lane because I was going to be in and out of a place really quickly. So I'm like a very traditional rule follower, not a very exciting guy on that front, but that's probably like my deep, dark secret. I parked in a fire lane for two minutes

JA: Living on the edge I see. I like how you qualified it. It wasn't a handicap space! Number three, fill in the blank. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a blank.

JK: Oh man. So many different things. But I think when I was really young, I made my grandma really happy by saying pastor. And then probably immediately after that, followed up as something like astronaut or like dinosaur. So I was a pretty fickle kid in terms of career aspirations.

JA: I can't wait to come back to that as we hear your story. Number four, what is the last book that you read?

JK: Uh, the last book that I finished was the Ikea Story. And it's all about the founder of Ikea. And I'm currently reading through Traction by Gino Wickman.

JA: Oh yeah. Yeah. Traction is one of my favorite business books. I use those tools. I like that you clarified the last book that you finished because that is very important. All right, Joel, for you. I am bringing the zombie apocalypse question back. So are you ready?

JK: I'm ready.

JA: The zombie apocalypse has hit Joel. You have six minutes to grab three essential items. What do you pick? Not people. All of your loved ones are good. Three items to get you through. What do you pick?

JK: Okay. In my immediate, like where I am now, that's all I got at my disposal.

JA: It's up to you.

JK: Okay. If I can grab anything, I'm grabbing a weed whacker. Cause I feel like that's like a really fun way to mess zombies up, but probably not a very effective weapon, but if I'm going to die and let's face it in the zombie apocalypse, we're all going to die. I might as well go out having some fun. So I grabbed that. I would hoard a whole bunch of All Dressed Ruffles chips. Cause I feel like that's the ultimate comfort food in a terrible situation. That's got that MSG. And like, you want to be happy on your way out. Like I think what people should be putting together here is, I don't expect to survive. Like I'm, I'm gonna die. I'm not, I'm not like in athletic shape. I'm not, I'm not like cunning enough to like build a moat or like -- I'd be dead fast. So I'm just, I'm uh, I'm in it for a good time. And then probably the last thing that I would go for, if I was grabbing anything, I'd go get myself -- these ire like the most shallow things. I would be a terrible survivor. I'll go get myself -- I'd break my streak of, of staying off alcohol. And I would go get myself just a flat, a beer called Wizards Revenge. And I drank it all and I'd fire up my weed Wacker and I'd eat my chips and I'd just charge right into the horde and get it over with. Cause I don't want to be in suspense waiting for the end. That just sounds horrible to me.

JA: I think that is the best answer. It's definitely the most hilarious answer for that question. So I don't know what your award is going to be. I got to figure it out, but I love that. I was just picturing that, that scene right there. So good to know. Good to know.

JK: I just, I have no, I have no pretense. Everybody's always like, Oh yeah, here's the plan I'm going to survive. I'm like number one, who wants to be alive when everybody else is dead? That just sounds terrible. Number two. I know myself. I'm dead. It's not, it's not going to be a good time. It's over for me. So I might as well just get those last things out of the way and you know, eat that MSG.

JA: That was a slogan, everyone. Okay. All right. Eat that MSG. Joel's slogan.

Okay. So let's segue out of the zombie apocalypse and talk about you and your entrepreneurial journey. How did you get to be Joel, the copywriter founder of Casestudy Buddy? Where did you start?

JK: So I'll try to keep this as focused as I can. I think the thing to realize is I entered my university years having no idea what I wanted to do. I had passions and things I enjoyed, but none of them seem to be legitimate career interests. Like I love to write, but I didn't want to try to be a novelist. I saw no future in that for me. I didn't want to be a journalist because I didn't see that as a field that I'd really enjoy. And so I did a business degree both out of like interest, yes, I was interested in, I thought it was something that had a lot of utility, but also if I'm being really honest, like kind of a fear, it's like, well, here's something that's kind of, well, a business degree is one of the most versatile you can have. And so why not? Why not explore this? It wasn't like I was crazy passionate about business, but I thought, well, I'll try that out.

Now in the meantime, I'm learning later in life, I just have had miserable self-awareness, which is why I'm getting better at it with like the zombie apocalypse question. But in the meantime, before that I'd run businesses without even really thinking about it. Like I'd put on local shows. I used to be in bands. And so I started like renting venues and booking the bands and like, so I'd run a business, but it never registered to me that that was what I was doing.

So fast forward I go from majoring in HR, which would have been just the worst possible career for me if you know me at all and the school that I went to Haskayne had an entrepreneurship program, but it was like, so, so neglected at that point, like it had gone from being like the crown jewel in the university's crown to just this, like whoever they could scrape off the street to teach classes. Not that they're bad people, they're, they're talented people, you know, there's like the remnants of this great team, but it got no respect from the faculty.

So I did a degree in entrepreneurship, mostly because I liked being around those kinds of people. And I'd like being around people who are doing stuff, not just talking about it. I finished university, no idea what I wanted to do. More of a clear picture of what I didn't, like, HR is out, finance is out, accounting, like, come on now. I went out to a, you know, long story short, I failed. I, I went out and failed in a sales job in Toronto that I was supposed to be there for the whole summer. And I lasted like less than a month and came home. I was like, what am I going to do? Like where do I fit in all this? Where's the alignment of the things that I love to do? And I was really down about it.

And a friend of mine just mentioned, hey, I'm working for this agency and we're hiring. Do you want to do SEO? And the only question I had from, well, two questions is number one, what's SEO? And number two, do I have to cold call anybody? And so he as kind like SEO is sort of like manipulating search results. I'm like, that's a thing? That's really cool. And then he said no to cold call, like I'm in, I'm all in. So I applied and wound up agency side and to kind of bring this to a head, I spent the years agency side kind of getting to learn the analytics of things. I love the competitive side of trying to rank and search, but it opened up this whole world to me where I realized, holy cow, someone's gotta write these sites, write these ads. Here's this whole of writing that I was oblivious to because no one ever talked about it in university and was not on my radar. I thought, why don't I do that? It sealed for me when we hired a freelancer who was getting paid 50 bucks an hour, which was like Holy cow that's engineer money, like, but was awful at what they were doing. And I thought, well, if they can get paid that much and their work is not good and I'm crumpling it up and throwing it out and rewriting it, I wonder how I would do.

So in 2013, I went out on my own originally doing content eBooks blog posts was introduced to the queen bee of conversion copywriting, Joanna Weaves work, fell in love with it because this intersection of analytics, competitiveness with myself in terms of, can I be to control, can I improve conversion rates? And then this creative aspect that I had in my life and always wanted to have some outlet to express and that's, so it was just this confluence of like, Hey, there is a job that combines all these things I'm passionate about. And thankfully I've done a business degree, so I'm not going to make a lot of the same mistakes other people did when they were starting out. That's my backstory, I guess.

JA: Yeah. So timeline. When did you start? When did you fully jump into the copywriting world?

JK: 2013. So 2013, I went out and I was on my own running my own business. Um, and that was when I was focusing on the content side. And then by the time sorta 2014 was halfway over, I was, I'd already shifted to just doing websites, landing pages, conversion focused assets, and the Casestudy Buddy, the other company was spun off, I think two years after that. So the case anybody's been around just about four years or just over four years now.

JA: So I'm always interested because I know a lot of solo entrepreneurs who listen to the show, I'm always interested in that transition between being an employee and going out on your own. First question is how did you do it financially? How did you make the leap? Did you already have clients lined up? What did that look like for you?

JK: I'm a cautious person. Like I take risks, but they're very calculated risks to the point that they no longer feel risky for me. So I, when I was agency side and I realized, okay, we're hiring freelancers to do this writing stuff. I went to my boss and asked, Hey, listen, is it okay if I pick up some of these gigs outside of work, it won't impact my hours here. And my boss was awesome. And he said, yeah, as long as you get your job done here, you know, I have no issue as long as they're not, you know, potential clients of ours. You can, you can do that. He didn't want me stealing people, but he was fine with it. So my first projects came from, uh, friends who were kind of contractors themselves, developers, people who were either already out on their own or kind of in these small agencies.

And so that's where my first projects came from and I kind of got to dip my feet into the world while I still had the safety net of a full time job. And when it became apparent that my full time job and I were not going to be together forever, you know, as I was realizing, like, I don't want to do this. Then I started being intentional about growing that client base. And one of the best things you can do, if you know, you're going to go out on your own is to network and make connections on someone else's dime. And so I was already interacting with the SEO community and by extension the digital marketing community on places like Twitter and whatever. But I started floating up to friends that I'd met in person in particular at conferences, people that I'd kind of press the flesh with and shook hands with and got on with and who supported me already in that capacity, I started kind of quietly going to them and saying, Hey, listen, I'm thinking about making this jump. Would there be opportunities to work together?

And so my first projects when I was fully on my own, came from that SEO community that I'd already been making friends in. Financially, my plan was simply, I wanted to have enough in the bank that I could survive for at least three months if I didn't close anything. And the reason for that -- hindsight's 2020. So I'm trying not to, you know, extrapolate backwards and make myself sound like I really have my crap together. Cause I didn't. But one of the things that I was advised on that really stuck with me is the power to say no, as a small business is so important and it helped me stay off like the treadmill of Fiverr and then Upwork was called something else. And all these different things, these low paying million people competing for one gig type of work, it allowed me to really specialize and kind of charge what I wanted to and say no to bad fit projects. So that's what it looked like for me. I was very privileged to not be forced out into doing this. A lot of people get let go or situations like what we see in the world right now, something bad happens and they're forced to, I had the novelty being able to plan. And, and so I acknowledge that for sure.

JA: Yeah, definitely. Cool. So you got into copywriting, you had some great relationships. What made you, because you launched an entirely second company and then you have that. And now you're thinking about products. Tell me a little bit more about how your business vision has evolved and what has led you to think about, okay, I want to create a course. I want to get into products.

JK: So it's been kind of an interesting journey for me. Like when I first went out, and I'm the first to admit it, my motivation was just how much can I make? When I left, I, I simultaneously I quit. My old job, got a job offer that would have been a guaranteed six figures at another agency in the city, turned it down and I kept that job offer. And I had it on the filing cabinet next to my desk. And I had circled the amount of the offer. And I said, okay, listen, this is the number to beat. I bet on myself. And if I'm going to say no to something like this, I damn well better be able to, you know, like I want to win. I want to meet or beat that rate. And so in the early days it was all about, okay, well I'm going to do what I know.

And that was, that was writing. And I had a lot of energy and enthusiasm because I was brand new to things. So, you know, I wasn't married at the time either. So nobody cared if I stayed up till one in the morning, you know, cranking out as much work as possible. But over time as I got into, you know, conversion and conversion copywriting work, I started, you know, it's, it's more critical thinking work and, and the capacity, the, the price I could charge went up, but the amount I could do went down and life changes like getting married and then having our son, uh, you know, he's almost two, so that's still relatively recent development, but over time it stopped being about the money. I, I beat my goal. I hit what I wanted to do. I started to realize like, and I said this, even as recently as last year, like I never wanted to achieve this same way again.

I started to burn out and I started to realize like, OK, I I've had this unhealthy perfectionism and wanting to seize the reigns and really own every part of this for too long. It served me well in that, like the level of work I'm known for doing, I, I think, I don't say this arrogantly, but like, I'm known for doing good work and being on a certain level. But when you, when it's all you, it's hard to let go of that. And so in the past kind of two and a half years, I've done more collaborating with people. And then the opportunity for Casestudy Buddy came up out of a project that I did. And I realized here's a process. It's something that's not, you know, crazy. Open-ended I could really refine the process and I could put on a manager hat and build a team.

And so I still really enjoy that. And I still plan to continue to grow Casestudy Buddy. And that's still something that I want to do, but the productized thing, um, and the products almost happened by accident. Somebody like in the early days came to me and said, Oh, you should really have a course. And the first pushback I made an excuse of, well, I don't know enough yet. I'm not really an expert on this. Like who's going to want to buy this thing from me. So I was like, well, when I know enough, right, when I've earned the right to sell a product, then I'll do it. And of course, when you're really self-critical like, I am, nobody beats me up more than I do, it wasn't happening. And so I was almost plunged into products, kind of by accident. The way it came about for me is I love speaking and I do a fair bit of it.

And I had put together this talk that I knew I was only really going to be asked to deliver once. And that was my mastering sales call. Now it's a training, but it was a conference talk. And I thought, you know, I wonder why don't I just record this? Why don't I just do my best? You know, I'll, I'll get the best audio I can, I'll deliver it with the same enthusiasm I did on stage. I like that it's only an hour long because everything in here is something people can just go and do instead of this, like monstrous, you know, 50 plus hour, whatever thing. So like, why don't I just record this one? I just see how it goes. And I've been building up an audience over time. Talk about that at another point. But I kind of been building up an audience, people kind of in tune and some like, let's see, let's just see.

And so that was that. And another training called fishing with dynamite. Those are my first products. They're my only products right now. But the response to it was so much more than I expect. I'm like, there's no feeling like sitting around a campfire with some brother-in-law and you'd get a, you know, a little Bing on your phone, you pull it up and you just made 200 bucks. And I was like, why have I not been if I had not been doing more of this? So that now I, you know, I've kind of given myself permission and said, you know what, I am good at this stuff. And I do have things to share and teach, and I do see gaps and I can do this. It took me kind of falling into it to go, okay, this is something I can do. I've I think I've earned the chance to do, and I'm going to stop blocking my own shot.

JA: Yeah. I want to come back and dig a little bit deeper into that mind trash as I like to call it and how you overcame it. You started to talk a bit about your talks and then you, you sold them, you know, we're connected on Twitter, just for everyone listening. Joel and I have been connected on Twitter for a little while, and I've been watching your marketing and it's really lean. And I wonder, can you speak a bit about your approach to marketing as a service based business owner? You know, one of my initial questions that I have is did you start out of the gate knowing, Hey, I need to have an email list. How did you think about marketing yourself and how did you approach it as a service based business owner?

JK: I am like a textbook example of someone who's done everything wrong.

JA: Okay.

JK: Because that's the honest truth. And I'm an open book on this. I didn't have a plan. When I put these trainings together, like I pretty much started the email list because I knew, okay. I knew I had an audience. I'd cultivated people who tuned in on Twitter. I'd met lots of people at conferences I'm really active in these Facebook groups and certain Slack channels. And so I knew I had this loyal audience, but I had no way to quantify it. I had no property to push them to that I owned. Again, it's one of those things where I'd been told and read and believed, you know, the money's in the list, but for me, I never gave myself permission to do it. I was just, I'll get to it. I'll get to it. I'll get to it. It's fun. Like, no, I'm, I'm getting to it.

So I launched the list only at like a few months really before. And it was like, I only got really intentional about like being active there because I figured, okay, I've got something coming up that I want to sell, but I don't just want to sell my list. I want to be known for being useful the same way that I feel like I'm hopefully known on other platforms. So I didn't do a carefully calculated launch and I didn't run ads. And I didn't do these other things that in the future I plan to do, because for me, I think the sweat equity went into years and years and, you know, like multiple years of just sharing and giving and connecting and teaching in public anyway, like a lot of what I've realized that I was doing is for example, I'm still active in Slack groups where there are a lot of agencies and SEO people.

And I would do tear downs of their sites for free. I do these free 15 minute tear downs and by teaching and the, I guess if I have a strategy I'm intentional about it solving problems in public, I would do a lot of that. And so these, these products just kind of came to be fortuitously. I got serious about the email list. Cause I knew I was going to do a bit of a, you know, a bit of a push there, but I didn't have like a five step sequence or like a big launch announcement or anything. I've really been able to do what I've done purely off of the back of building this loyal audience over time. And I'm the first one to say, had I been more intentional and deliberate and planned and actually done a formal launch? I think I could have done much more, but my strategy has for a long time just been solve problems in public, be useful first worry about selling later. And so far that has served me pretty well.

JA: I love that, solve problems in public. You know, I hear from so many people who liked, you have heard the advice of having an email list, but they're just, you know, there's this resistance to do it. And I get it because, you know, it's like, well, what do I write? Or how do I set it up? What platform do I -- there's so many questions, but something that you said, which is, is great, is that it reminds me of a conversation. We both know Alex Hillman, we did a workshop together and he asked me a question that I thought was beautiful, which was what is a step before creating a course. For a lot of people creating a course feels intimidating. It feels like this big project. What you were doing is exactly what Alex and I talked about just teaching in public. And I love the examples being useful in groups. So I just wanted to take a moment to pull that out for anyone listening. If you have been just so overwhelmed with the idea of creating a course, you can still start just by teaching and delivering value in groups, on YouTube, wherever it is. So thank you for sharing that.

JK: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I love, I'm really leaning in and learning more about kind of Alex's philosophy. And I admire that guy so much, but I know one of the things that they talk about that I've kind of been doing, you know, by accident through, through the years, like a mix of intentionally solving problems. But when you do that too, you get to hear what your audience thinks their problems are and you get the opportunity to hear what's urgently on their mind and what they struggle with. And so for example, like the course that I'm working on now is all aroun -- it's funny, cause I'm a copywriter. Everyone's like, when's your copywriting course? And it's kind of like, I don't have one yet, but this next course is a different area. My course is more engineered to the business side of things. And it's all about how to hire, like how to find and hire and vet copywriters like, cause the pain that I keep hearing is writers are so hard to work with. Where, how do I make this work? And the problem that I see is often it's not the writer it's that the business is not equipped to work with them, but I wouldn't possibly have that insight unless I was in the mix with my people that I want to sell to, you know, my people I want to build stuff for. So it's kind of got that dual impact of both. Yes. Solve problems in public you're you're making friends, you're building an audience you're being known for solving that problem, but you're going to learn stuff. That's going to create new opportunities or maybe set you straight on some things that you would have otherwise made mistakes on. So it's been a really powerful thing for me to be involved in that way.

JA: Yeah. So let's segue and talk about this course that you're working on. I, this is the first time I've interviewed someone who's smack dab in the midst of creating a course. So I love it. Where did this idea come from? You talked a little bit about just recognizing the problem, but were there direct conversations? In other words, what I'm getting to is like, was there a bit of pre-validation either through conversations or just seeing people struggle or clients struggle with this?

JK: Yeah. Multiple. So the first thing is seeing myself struggle with it, like with Casestudy Buddy, and anytime you work with people and this is something Alex had said on your podcast is messy. People are messy, right? Weird stuff happens. And you know, in building Casestudy Buddy, I mean, we have an amazing team that I'm so proud of, but we've also kissed a lot of frogs to get there. And so it started as a curiosity in my head, like how are other people handling this? Like how do the amazing teams who do this at scale, how on earth are they making that work? And so it started with a curiosity with me, but I'm very reticent. I don't ever want to build a course on a problem that only I know I have because like how do I know I'm just not the dumbest person in the room?

So, you know, I sat there and then I started to talk into my copywriter peers. I mean, we commiserate, right. And we talk about the things that we wish people hiring us knew. Or we talk about how can we better set expectations? We talked about business models earlier. Right. We talked about, I tried to subcontract, you know, and this person was a nightmare. And that's actually, that was the bigger spark for me. It's like, okay, I've struggled with this myself. So I knew it was a problem, but it was in talking to some peers and realizing writers should know this better than anyone, but we suck at subcontract and other writers. So the original idea is like, was for writers how to hire other writers. But then the deeper I got into it and the more people I told about what I was working on -- so I took it to some agency, friends. I said, Hey, I'm working, you know, I'm working on this kind of checking. They're like, I know so many agencies, they said I would buy this. And I know so many people who would, because they said, I get asked all the time, do I know great people. And then I also get asked all the time, why are writers so difficult to work with? And you see it -- I started to see it once. It's kinda like, you know, once you're tuned into it and you start to see it ever, I started to see on Twitter, people complaining about great writers being hard to find. And then in my conversations, in, you know, like in the Slack groups, I'm part of in their content marketing channels, the number one question being asked over and over and over again was where do you guys find your great teams?

And to me, I know because I run a business, the next question they're going to have the minute they find a great person is man why is working with writers so hard? What's going wrong here? So, because I had kind of that dual sided business owner, part of it, and then the connection to the agency side, and then also being like, I'm a business owner and I'm a writer. I can kind of see both sides. And so validation came from multiple places. It just took me a while to sort of put it all together. And so it went from being just this writer, subcontracting to writers. What I realized was my original pain, which was how do the people who are really good at this, do this at scale. And so it evolved from just Joel sharing his sort of thing to being well now I'm profiling how these big companies, I'm actually talking to them and interviewing them and stealing their best tips and processes and condensing that all into one package so that it's replicable. And it's not just, you know, be like me, which is a big, big issue I have with a lot of courses as if the advice just amounts to be like me. Everybody's not you. So it's gotta be something that's applicable and you know, can work in the real world if they don't have the same resources and experience that you do.

JA: Yeah. As you were talking, I was just thinking, where are you at in your process right now? And more pointedly, how are you planning to get this out into the world? Are you going to do you know, like a pilot or beta or are you going all out and creating the full course? What's your, what's your plan, Joel?

JK: So it actually started as a talk. When I started to see this coming up a lot, I decided, okay, well the Copywriter Club Conference was coming up again. That's the conference where I'd given my mastering sales calls talk. And I thought, well, I'll do this as a talk. I'll do it as a talk. And that's why I say it was really like writers, hiring writers because I kind of pulled the groups I'm in. And I had three different topics I was interested in presenting on and I secretly kind of hope people would choose this one. And I said, Hey, which of these three things would you find most compelling? And over it was like, overwhelmingly people said, we want to learn that. So it started as a talk. Then the conference got canceled because of all of the craziness happening in the world right now.

And so originally my thought was, why don't I just kind of finish it up as a talk and then I'll, you know, uh, launch it. I started showing it to people. I started showing it to writers and I showed it to ages friends. And the more people that I kind of showed it to, it's not like an official bid. I had like the skeleton and a lot of like the modules, but they weren't really modules the parts of the talk. Like my original plan was for it to be an hour long, again, kind of similar to the other ones. But the more people I showed it to, the more they've raised things like, well, what about this? Or, uh, you know, and I don't want it to be a seven headed hydro where I try to tackle everything, but they started bring up really good points in terms of stuff that I was because I'm so close to it, may be missing where my experience, I was like, assuming knowledge that someone who started this thing wouldn't have.

So I haven't really done like an official beta, but I have been showing people as I go. And so now I'm in this period of I'm actually rebuilding the content and remapping it to a different format to go away from this one hour super condensed thing to, okay. Based on the conversations of having these are the things that I think I need to add, especially since the audience has changed and shifted. My plan this time is to do something a lot more formal. So I do want to beta it and I want to get people from a few different groups to make sure I've hit the goal of am I teaching these people in a way that makes sense for them? So I want to have a small number of writers go through it, a small number of agency people go through it. And then a small number of business owners go through it because they all come from kind of different places.

And so I want to get that feedback because it's very -- everything I do in teaching. I mean, I, I'm not in this to make people feel good. I want people to apply and I want them to be successful. How can I assume that they're going to be successful until I get them to try it and get some people serious about it, to dig into the content and show me the holes. Right? So I plan to do a little bit of a beta and refine things there. And then I do plan to do a much more formalized launch. I know myself enough to know all need help with that. So the plan is to hire some help in terms of getting the assets together. And I'm in a learning phase, this is for as much as I've done, the actual launch process is new to me.

So, you know, I trust people like in the same way, I, I would hope people trust me to write them a sales page, that converts cause that's what I'm focused on. I mean, to me, why not bring in people who are focused on making launches success and learn, you know, through that process. So this time I'm trying to do something much more structured with the big goal of, yeah, I want this to be a big success, but it sounds like I'm kind of blowing smoke, but I've really just genuinely want this to be something that works for people and makes them more successful.

JA: Yeah. I love that iterative approach because that's really the best way to execute it. I think, as I said earlier, so many new course creators just get stuck in this vision of this huge course and trying to put everything together and make it perfect. And I love that you started with a talk, you know, because you are able to identify what I call learning gaps, you know, things when you're too close to the information, things that maybe you assumed were, were just so crystal clear and then people say, well, Hey, wait a minute. What a, what do you mean by this? Or I'm having trouble with this. It just illuminates so much. You only get that by having conversations and in many cases, teaching it in some format, so kudos to you for taking that and implementing it and being iterative with your process.

JK: Yeah. Thanks.

JA: All right. So, you know, we've talked about your plans with your course. Um, you know, we talked about your, your talks and your approach to taking talks and converting them into products. You shared a newsletter, because I am subscribed to your wonderful newsletter. You shared one, maybe it's been a little over a month when you were, you were selling, you were letting everyone know that your trainings were going to be available at a, for a certain time. And then there was going to be priced higher, but you had a great subject line, which was Can Confidence be Learned? And I wanted to bring that into this conversation because I know when it comes to both writing and course creation, there's so many ways that we get in our own. We have self doubt. We have that mind trash that I taught. So when it comes to copywriting, for course, creators, you know, one, is that something that you can learn? Can you learn how to be a good writer and two, what are some things to avoid when it comes to copywriting for selling products?

JK: Yeah, I think the answer to the first question is, gosh, I sure hope so. Cause I, you know, for as much as I think people look and, and I do think I do work on a high level, but I feel like I, this is something I'm learning with maturity is the more you know, the less you think, you know, and I, all I see is just opportunity. There's so many people I want to learn from and grow, but the truth is, you know, you can learn to be a better writer. And I think one of the key takeaways I would share for those listening is it's not about being a Don Draper type who's just so clever. And has these lightning bolt ideas. It's not about genius. It's about discipline and repetition. And the great thing about copywriting is that writing is really like only five to 10% of what makes you really great at it.

So much of it as empathy and listening, knowing how to ask the right questions and how to do the research and how to understand the people that you're selling to, how they talk, how they think, what ails them, what desirable future they see for themselves. And so if you're first and foremost passionate, and I think this plays nicely to people creating things. Cause I think on some level you must have a passion for teaching and helping and you know, that's a good sign is if you're already passionate about that, chances are good you possess the skillset to be good at this thing. You just need the direction. And so to get more confident, that's the thing people always ask, what book should I read? Or what course should I take? Just start by looking and studying the process. There's lots of free articles go read about the writing process.

What does it look like? What are the steps? Why do people take them? And for me, confidence, and this is kind of, as I was saying in the email is confidence is a byproduct of a solid process. When you know what you're doing and why you're doing it, then there's room to be creative, there's room to fail. But confidence is a byproduct of process. So start there. I would say definitely like there's lots of books and things that can help you, but there are a lot of free resources to get you started on bounce house, a free landing page course, Joanna Wiebe at hackers has a free conversion copywriting 101. You don't have to spend a pile of cash to get better at this stuff. Lots of it is at your disposal.

Some pitfalls, for course, providers and people creating stuff: The first is to put too much emphasis on the course and not enough emphasis on your audience. You're excited about the thing and all like the stuff that you're teaching, but the people who are going to buy this thing are going to buy it because they're trying to solve a problem. So you don't really, and this is the whole, you don't really sell a drill. You sell a hole in the wall, but it's true. You don't really sell a course. You sell the alleviation of a pain or you sell a process by which someone is going to achieve something else. So the first mistake I would say, people would make writing products is they don't listen. They don't ask their audience. They don't document that feedback. The first step for you should be to listen and to document, send out a survey or get some of your prospects. People you hope will buy this thing on the phone and conduct an interview just like this, B.D.A., before, during after.

So what was going on in your life, you know, before, and if you haven't launched your thing yet, or if they haven't found a solution yet in the during and after won't necessarily apply, but talk to them about what their life looks like and what they've tried to solve that problem and why that hasn't worked for them or why it has worked for them. But you have to talk to people.

I think the other big mistake people make is assuming that their leads don't read. So I hear this one, a lot. People say, Oh, people don't read on the internet. Everything needs to be super short. So they launched these like super concise little sales pages where like I'm doing the world a favor by not blathering on and on about this thing. Well, no, you need to say as much as you need to and then shut up.

But sometimes as much as you need to is a lot, sometimes there's a lot of trust you need to earn in the process. So don't let the internet or SEOs or people tell you, well, the ideal length for this is a thousand words. That's -- there is no word count for persuasion. And the best barometer is sell it to someone on a call or sell it in person transcribe it. How many words did it take you if your sales page is not at least that many, you've probably missed something. Uh, it's a very rough barometer, right? That's not a hard and fast rule, but for people wondering where to start, you can get better. And there's a great piece. Janelle, I'm going to send you a link that people can read on writing these things that takes the lens of like from beginner to being able to do this. It's by conversion rate experts. And that's the first thing they say is if you can sell this thing in person, listen, listen to what's working. What's not how much time it takes you. How many words it takes you. Those are fantastic clues for translating into writing, because writing is just communication. You're just selling. You're having a conversation with the questions in a customer's head. You can't answer those questions until you know them, which is why they got to talk to people. And the words part, man, just start selling in person and listen to what resonates and where those light bulbs come on. And that starts to shape your copy.

JA: That's so true. I mean, I've said this countless times on the show, but it's one of the reasons why I tell people who are struggling to create a product, to start with a service. You're going to learn how to sell. You're going to have conversations. You're going to see where the problems are and what's the pain behind the problem. You're going to work on solutions to those problems. You're going to see how those solutions impact their lives. You're going to get so much information. And so I find that a lot of people, you know, want to skip that step, but I'm not, I'm not going to beat around the Bush. Like there's so many people who, I don't know, it just seems overwhelming, I guess, to talk to people, but you, you know, you need to do that part and bringing Alex back into the conversation, I know he and Amy Hoy teach away to do market research without necessarily having the customer conversations, because sometimes you can talk to people and not really get any good information, but by and large being able to, as you said, listen, and understand the pain, the problem, the language, the solutions they've tried, all of that is data. That's going to help you to, to be better at communicating when it is time for you to write a sales page or you know, any of that stuff. So, absolutely. Absolutely. Why do you think we avoid having those conversations?

JK: Oh man. So you know what? I honestly believe a big part of his fear that someone is going to say something that challenges our expectations, it means we have to go do some more work. I think a lot of us we've got this vision of this thing and we kind of convinced ourselves that we've nailed it. And we're so scared that if someone says, Oh, what about this? And worse, if we agree with them, it's going to mean more work for us to get this right. I think people are afraid of both criticism and they're also afraid that they might be wrong and that it might mean more work for them. I think that's part of it. I think another part of it is people falsely assume that this has to be a really time consuming, expensive endeavor. You can eavesdrop on digital conversations. You can have three phone conversations in the span of, you know, an afternoon that are going to set you up, you know, so much better.

And I think there's an intimidation factor in terms of, well, I don't know how to structure those calls. And I don't know how to that's where process sparks confidence, right? Especially you, you can learn to do this, you know, decently well, better than average in an afternoon, go, you know, read up on some smart questions to ask during the interview, go in knowing that your first one might not be your best and, or, or learn how other people are eavesdropping on digital conversations and just do do the thing. You only get better by doing it. But I think it's fear. I think it's intimidation by either the amount of time it will costs they think will take. And I think it's being intimidated like, well, I don't know how to do this. The honest truth is if you can have a conversation with another human being, or if you can read, you can do this. That's not, you know, it's not rocket science. It's just intentional learning.

JA: Absolutely. It goes back to what you said about perfectionism, right? Perfectionism is a form of procrastination and procrastination is a form of fear or self doubt. What I have found incredibly useful is to really explore why I'm exhibiting any of those behaviors. You know, like, why am I resisting these conversations? Why am I procrastinating? It of course comes down to you as a person. For me, I am the type of person who, once I get to the why, if it's something that I'm like, Oh, I want to fix, I want to solve that. I am not going to be bound by it know, so it just becomes a personal challenge once I realize why I'm doing it.

You mentioned you love to speak. And that was something that, that I realized about myself last year, last fall, which is I don't love in-person conferences. Uh, I love doing podcasts and workshops, virtual workshops and all that good stuff. But, um, I had to explore why, you know, what is it about that? So really digging into, you know, any of that mind trash digging into the why underneath of it can be a huge tool to help you free yourself from that and move forward.

JK: Yeah. I mean, for me and my mind trash, like I think a lot of the time and something I've learned about myself is I'm a self motivated perfectionist, which means that like criticism can be devastating for me. Cause it's just confirming the worst fears I already have about myself that I'm doing something wrong or that I'm not enough. Right. When I'm, when I'm in a state of unhealth, that's how I'll interpret it. And so for me, you know, that's why that answer came so quick to me, the fear is that what if I'm wrong? Or you know, what, if I've missed something and for some people that's not an issue, they get excited about that. For me, there's been this real process throughout my life and my career coming to terms with the fact that like you go faster, further when you don't go alone.

And by having this input from the outside, I mean to make this practical, I want to make this really practical because I think, you know, this, this is how this comes out. Like I was putting together this course and I had kind of my, my outline and I was excited about it. And I was showing it to people and a couple people right away pointed out this gaping hole that I was just blind to. And that's, you know, as a writer, I know how to give objective feedback, but the average person has no idea how to give feedback on a piece of work. They they're just like either like it or I don't like it, or I can't really articulate why. And that was a huge blind spot for me. And had I not gotten over myself, you know, and said, I don't know what all, and it's okay if I've missed something, it's okay if I'm wrong and it's okay. If it creates a little bit more work to me, cause the, the end product's gonna be so much better, that would be missing and people would suffer for it. Cause that's a huge challenge for the audience. So I love the way you put it. You got to challenge why on it. You got to dig into that. And when you know that you can do something about it, but until then, it's all just resistance. And that helps nobody.

JA: That's a great segue into our final three questions. But before we go there any last insights on copywriting takeaways, for course creators that you'd like to share?

JK: One of the big ones is to focus on, in the early stages, um, two things, understanding who your audience is going to be and getting very clear on that and not just not this like cardboard cutout of who your audience is, but who are they really? What are their pain points? And we've talked a lot about that. The, the second. So you want to figure out kind of who they are. But the second one, I think this gets missed quite a bit is to understand their level of awareness. If your thing is brand new and these people are in a problem aware state, then your copy has to do more. And there's a great resource, Eugene Schwartz wrote a book called Breakthrough Advertising that's a wonderful read, but you can also find these stages online. You can have all the right pain points, all the right benefits, all the right stuff.But if you speak to them in the wrong state of awareness, that can throw the whole thing off. So if someone's problem aware, you need to start by agitating that pain and showing them you get the place that they're at. And then you can start to build into how your solution works and why it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

If your audience has passed the problem where stage and they're into the solution aware stage, and they're actively kind of comparing your course to other alternatives or options, conversation has to shift, then it's more about how you're going to help them solve that problem. What makes your thing unique to other solutions? So don't just stop at understanding your audience and what motivates them and what they want, but make a concerted effort to define, okay, what level of awareness are they going to be at so that you can start the conversation at the right place and avoid either saying too much and educating them on a problem they already know they have, and thus they're not interested or saying too little and leaving them in the dark. So awareness level is a really big thing in copywriting that I wish more people would just take an hour to study and it will inform a lot of how you do things and your copy will be better for it.

JA: Yeah. Yeah. We'll be sure to share some resources, awareness, learning more about awareness, completely opened up a whole different, I want to say level, but it was almost like a door or window when it comes to marketing. So we'll definitely, definitely put some resources in the show notes. All right, Joel, we are down to the final three questions. The first one is easy. What's next for you? I was going to ask anything exciting coming up. I know your course is one of them, but, but what else do you have going on?

JK: So our second is due in July. Uh, so that is a really exciting thing from me. Um, you know, it puts some pressure on this whole course creation process for sure, but I think it's good pressure. I think, you know, Janelle I'm really at this stage of my career where I'm in a transitionary period, again, I'm learning so much, we've mentioned a bunch, but from people like Alex and one of the things I love about his whole ethos and what he's all about is just teamwork and working with people he loves and getting into the messiness of it and still persevering through that because working with people's better, I think I want to spend more time doing two things. I want to grow Casestudy Buddy and my team there. And I want to, for this next season of life, you know, where my entrepreneur hat working with people hat, and then I'm, I'm also just with course creation of products.

I'm really excited to explore this world. I mean, part of what I love about you and, and your show and the resources you put out is like, I'm learning all of this now. Right? I said earlier, I'm the textbook case of someone who's done everything wrong, but still found some success in spite of it because I did some other right things right. I got the audience piece down. And I think because I've spent so much time sowing seeds, I'm just really excited now to, to bet on myself again, in the same way that I bet on myself when I left my agency job, I can look at what I've done with my service based stuff and my copywriting. And not that I'm going to wrap that up forever, but it's time to bet on myself again. And to say, I believe in myself as someone who can create products, that people will care about it, there will be some bumps and maybe there will be some flops, but I'm just so excited to learn more of this world to get better at all of this and learn from people who have done it well. So I, I'm just really excited about obviously our future kid and just some of these career transitions and things that I'm finally giving myself permission to focus on and grow into.

JA: I'm excited for you. Congratulations on the new addition to the family. Yeah, that's right around the corner as of this recording. So, so I hope you're ready.

JK: Oh man, can you ever be ready? I don't know one way or another we're doing it. I mean, I have such an incredible partner in Courtney, in my wife and, and that makes such a big difference. So as we enter this new phase together, I can't tell you how much it means to have someone who supports you through thick and thin. And we're, I'm excited to have a family of four, I really am.

JA: All right. Where can people find out more about you and your work?

JK: So you can check out BusinessCasualCopywriting.com. If you want to learn more about copywriting, I share kind of snippets and pieces from the newsletter there as well. You can find the sign up for those I'm active. You know, I'm not always fast, but anytime you can send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn, I may not always be fast, but I always do respond. So I'm always more happy to, to share and teach and kind of give you what I can with the time I've got available. So yeah, Business Casual is probably the best place to go or feel free to connect with me and let's have a human conversation.

JA: Last question, Joel, what is your, why, why do you get up and do this work?

JK: That's a really good question and something that I've been trying to bring into focus because I think it's changed over time, right? I think my why right now is I don't want to work for a living. This has been an enduring thing, actually I've said it before. I don't want to work to make a living. I want to work to build a life and I've got a vision. I think I'm finally getting clear on what I want. I want time with my family. I want the ability to travel. I'm not, you know, material stuff is great, but you can't take it with you, but I want to build myself just a life that I can do and experience and be present for my kids, my family, my friends. That's that's my why is building the lifestyle that I think you know, is going to let me do the rich things, not necessarily have the rich things. And I think that's my focus. That's my driver now,

JA: Joel, I can't wait to share this. Thank you so much for coming and just telling us more about you and what you're working on. This is going to be super, super helpful for anyone who, out there who is kind of in your shoes or thinking about being in your shoes. So thank you again for coming on the show.

JK: Oh, absolute pleasure. It's so much easier when you've got someone who's such a great host. So thank you so much for having me.

JA: My pleasure.

All right, my friends, that is my time. Remember, before you can level up your course, you must first level up your mind. As always, thank you for hanging out with me for another great episode. I do not take it for granted. I am Janelle Allen, and this has been Level Up Your Course. Peace.