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The Photo Opp Podcast – Episode 6: Copywriting for Photographers | Guest: Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes

The Photo Opp Podcast – Copywriting for Photographers | Guest: Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes

Photo Opp Podcast Episode 6 – Show Notes

Today’s episode of the Photo Opp Podcast gets into the details of copywriting and brand messaging for photographers. The amazing Ashlyn Carter joins us to talk shop about:

•      Differentiating your brand with copy

•      Common mistakes photographers make with copywriting

•      Finding your unique brand voice

•      Resources for creatives to boost their copywriting

•      How photography businesses are impacted by copywriting

•      Soooooo much more!

If you are a new listener to Photo Opp, I’d love to hear from you. DM me @meganbreukelman with any questions or ideas, and join the Facebook Group for meaningful discourse within the community.

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The Photo Opp Podcast – Episode 6 – Transcript

POP E06.mp3 transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

POP E06.mp3 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2020.

Megan Breukelman:
Welcome back to the Photo Opp Podcast. Today, we’re chatting with Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes, Ashlyn is a launch expert and copywriter working with industry heavy hitters like Jenna Kutcher, Beth Kirby, Katelyn James and more. So welcome, Ashlyn!

Ashlyn Carter:
Megan, thank you so much. I’m honored to get to chat with you today.

Megan Breukelman:
I’m honored to chat with you. So tell us a little bit about you. How did you get started in your field?

Ashlyn Carter:
Yeah. So I went to college with. I knew I wanted to be a journalism major. Actually noticed on your website you mentioned Devil Wears Prada. And it was my favorite me like that is the life that I wanted. And I wanted to go into print publications. And that was the same year, 2009. Some things were going on as far as the recession. And so I changed my major. I said, I want to work in public relations. And so that I always knew I wanted to be in communication, went on to I live in Atlanta and worked in agencies, in corporations for a couple of years, more than a couple of years. I loved it. I never I feel like a lot of this is a slight change in that so many creatives, I feel like sometimes fault the corporate world that they were either in or they left or I don’t know, it just taught me so much. I’m so grateful for the years that I spent in corporate. But long story, I ended up having some mental health issues, which I’m an open book about, and I just realized I kind of wanted to work for myself. So I started my business. I left corporate and started my business in twenty sixteen. I had done calligraphy at night, kind of just as a evening job to busy my hands after a full day in PR firm land. And so I was like, you know what? I can write, I can do calligraphy. I’ll figure out how to make money from both of those things. And I was really just doing what anybody would ask me to do. As far as calligraphy goes, I also like writing. I was writing for magazines. I was writing Web site pages. Resumé is like you. If you had a credit card in your hand and we’re gonna pay me, buddy, I would take your money to write something. So the gnashing aspect came on pretty soon in my business, but I definitely did not start out that way. I was in the creative world. I didn’t really own the copy writer for creative until a good guy was like too much into business. So that’s how things got started.

Megan Breukelman:
I mean, that’s awesome that your book PR and journalism experience because I feel like that’s definitely informing what you’re doing right now.

Ashlyn Carter:
I loved I’ve always loved that world that never you know, I never had the problem of change of a major a hundred times. I think there’s that’s kind of something I’ve seen a lot of at least a lot of my clients, you know, they saw predate the writing on the wall. They saw what they wanted to do. They recognized their craft or their skill early on. And I admire that in a lot of my clients.

Megan Breukelman:
So what actually led you to copywriting for creative?

Ashlyn Carter:
Yeah. So I you know, I realized. So if we’re talking about copywriting, just to define it for anybody listening. The way that I define it is the art and the science of marketing words that could conversion. Like there’s lots of different types of writing and there is a difference in content marketing, writing and copywriting, but particularly what I needed to realize. Meghan, that’s what I was doing when I was working in corporate. So, for example, I would be on the Delta Airline campaigns. How are we writing emails for Delta writing Web site words for Delta? And I realize when my boss was saying she needed the imagery and the copy deliverables over time, I was like, she means the words. Got it. Like, that was a learning for me. A light bulb moment a couple of weeks into my first big girl job. So when I like when I started to look at wanting to get into my own thing, I would go to these rising tide society meetups. This is like right after rising tide had started and high with lists. I would just sit there and listen. You know, people would ask me what I did know. It’s like calligrapher I do writing like I didn’t really know how to describe what I did, but the more and more I would hear them talk about their problems or things they needed help with. I saw that it all came back to at least where I saw that I could help. I was like, this is a sales messaging problem. Like they don’t know how they’re not comfortable selling with their words. They’re not they don’t feel good about this inquiry responses or the words on their website. They definitely don’t feel good about emails besides, you know, kind of content marketing. I just saw a sales copywriting was just a gap. And so I started trying to dip my toe into it. I made that mistake that so many of us make when we start your business, you know, when you ask somebody. So how much would you pay somebody to X, Y, Z? You know, as like to write here about pay. How much would you pay a river asking actually a photographer. And she was like, oh, twenty five dollars, you know, and thinking, well, that’s not going to replace my corporate salary. But it’s. Over time, I learned and realized how to value it, how to price my services and what I do. That is actually one of my good friends now. And she serves as the attorney for my business now. But she was the one that at a rising tide meet up here in Atlanta. Somebody came up to ask and they said. Well, what do you do? Looked at me and again, this is me. Two months into being on my own, I just fumbled completely and Cristina looked at me and she looked at the other girl. She is. She’s a copywriter for creatives like to save the awkwardness of the situation. And in that moment, I was like that. Yes. That’s exactly what I need to call myself. So she’s actually the one that coined that and then went on to, like, trade. I was gun trademark that. I definitely loved walking into that. But yeah, that’s how I guess I came to realize that it was the sales messaging that was kind of the overlap of what I knew, what I was good at. But also it was in the realm of the artists and the m
akers and the creatives that I loved and knew.

Megan Breukelman:
That’s an amazing story. And I love that you just kind of you fell into it a little bit and you or I gave you that little push.

Ashlyn Carter:
Yes. And I love that it wasn’t even me that really. That’s what that’s what good friends do. And I think that’s important to masterminds in community, because I I say to people all day long that you’re telling me, oh, my gosh, Ashlyn writing copy for myself is so hard, writing my own Web site, writing my own, you know, like excavating my own dream message. I want to be like, well, yeah, it’s gonna be the hardest. Like, I do this all day long for other clients. Do you know who the hardest is to do it for myself? It’s always gonna be harder for yourself. So if anybody freaks out about writing your own copy, just know you’re listening. You’re in good company. Most people, you’re your hardest client when it comes to figuring out a message. And it’s just because like that little story shows you’re so close to it. It’s difficult sometimes to see the forest for the trees.

Megan Breukelman:
It’s so true. And I feel like your good friends are really the ones who see you as you are. And I think that’s super helpful in defining your own brand. In and he was on this a little bit, but I would love to go a little deeper on what made you actually take the plunge into being a full time copywriter.

Ashlyn Carter:
Yes. OK. Like a story.

Megan Breukelman:
I’m ready.

Ashlyn Carter:
And I know that if somebody had heard this before, it just hit that 30 second fast forward button. I’ll go. But it’s such a cool story. So because it’s I say that because it’s all other lord, not me. I am super type-A and loved or I still have to like Ashlyn proof my business because I could work 24/7, 365. I think it’s so fun. So I have to put parameters in place to like walk away because I know that that the white space is what makes me even better. Right. But rewinding back to you know, being twenty three. Twenty four, twenty five, twenty six. And just loving the public relations industry in Atlanta. I was in a position eventually where my boss definitely was of the type that like your phone is under your pillow at night, like you are on call. I remember one time I asked to have Sundays off like just to be off line. And she looked me, she said, well, you studied the wrong thing in school to do that. I was like, no. Yeah. I was like, oh yeah. So, well, this is the problem. And that was kind of when I began to see that. I mean, it was that culture. Not every public relations industry is like that or communications firms like that. But that was something that was very telling to me this same time. Remember, I’m doing calligraphy at night every night, just filling orders for brides kind of as a stress reliever. But it probably added more stress. My husband prepares that we would we’d been dating and he proposed like that’s on my plate, too. And all of a sudden I was just trying to manage marketing for a company, do my own wedding stuff. Planning. We all know how that is. If you’ve been gone through the engagement process, it can be better. And then of my my clients from my side, Hessel. And it was so much on my plate that I just reached out for the lowest hanging fruit that I could control and have some like governance over. And they ended up being what I eat. So I started measuring what went in my body and what I could get out there, exercise. And it just became math to me was something I could hold in my hand. I was never trying to lose weight. It was just, you know, it just felt good to be able to control something. You can probably see where this is going. Over time, I developed an eating disorder. It came on pretty quickly. I did grow up with the background in classical ballet. So there had been there. It always kind of been symptoms and signs, but it just went full on and that was 2015. So actually, after our wedding, I went into how to go on leave of absence from this glamorous job that I loved and I was addicted to to go into partial hospitalization for generalized anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. So in three, I was hospitalized for this three months. And after I came out of it and I was just like it was during that time that I had been clicked on to just in all of these hours, being away from my job, I was like had realized there’s women that do these jobs on their own as creatives and they love it. They love working. They make money. And I took a friend of mine who was a freelance writer to lunch. And I was like, I just could not get over. I said, you make enough money like you make it a salary. I could not believe that she worked for herself and they had enough money to live. I don’t know why. So like earth shattering to me, and it was in that moment that I just realized I was like, I can do this. I don’t know how. I don’t know what. I’ve just been through hell. And I was like, I can do this. And so I came home complaining about work. My boss specifically, once too many days, my husband was like, that’s it. Or putting in your two weeks notice and is done with being with such an upset, nagging person. I just got out of recovery. We were making it. And so that was the push I needed to start my job. And it was hard at first because obviously we had a ton of medical bills to pay off. And but I think that’s also some people asking me like, were you afraid or were you scared when you quit your job? I always felt like I wasn’t like. I honestly had no fear getting away from all of that and starting fresh and just figuring it out sounded so much better than what I had been through that I just I figured I was going to figure it out somehow.

Megan Breukelman:
I mean, thank you so much for being so open and candid. Yes. I think both mental and physical health are so important for creative professionals, both men Full-Time and freelancers taking care of yourself and making time for that and being a part of your life and your job. And a big part of that is people like you who can be open about it and share their story.

Ashlyn Carter:
Well, you’re kind of say that. I really I talk about it because in the midst of it all. I guess I had like everything, normal upbringing, like normal job, like I was like, what is wrong with me? What the hell is wrong with me? And so I think over time I just realized until the Lord my name is I God, if we get through this like I talk about it because I feel so alone. So I really talk about it because I don’t. I know that somebody out there may I don’t know. You just never know. People are going through. So.

Megan Breukelman:
Yeah. Exactly. And the way you and your career have really thrived and prospered from that point in your life. That’s just so incredible.

Ashlyn Carter:
Yeah. God has been good. It was a really rough patch there for a little while.

Megan Breukelman:
So I do want to shift a little into branding. When it does come to branding, copywriting gets overlooked by creatives, which you know that
better than anyone, because we think we’re creative and we can do it all ourselves. And even I’m guilty of that with my left. You know, a copywriter is a valuable asset. So can you tell us a little more about why having a trained professional might benefit photographers and other creative business owner?

Ashlyn Carter:
Absolutely. I actually feel really strongly the longer I’m in this, the more I feel that the first three ish years of your business, I would not outsource it because I think it’s good. Copywriting is expensive. It’s going to be expensive because it is a way to process it. It’s like like if you can picture an iceberg that is copyright, very similar to photography, if you like. It wasn’t until I started. I remember the first course launch I helped on with Katelyn James and I was like inside the product, like watching your edit in Lightroom and like here you’re talk about like we’re gonna bring down the Magento and stuff. And I’m like, what in our nation is she talking about? Like Noah? It’s this very same thing with copywriting. Like there’s all that book under the iceberg. So I do think it’s very vastly, vastly important for people those first few years to work on it because you can outsource so many things in your business, but you cannot outsource salesmanship. As the CEO of your business, you need to know how to if you can’t tell people why you do what you do, the way you do it differently from other people, you need to camp out on that because you’re it all trickles down from you even when you’ve got a V.A. on the team or a second shooter or whomever. You’ve got to be the one that really understands the message best. And that does take some time to dig into and to figure out. Talk about ideas and practical ways to do that. But it’s so important because I think, too, when people see the concept of branding and I actually work on this with a lot of like I’ll have students and, you know, they’ll say I do branding for businesses now like me. Pause. You do visual branding for businesses. Are you to design a graphic design and embrace like marketing collateral branding like let’s get when we say branding. I think a lot of people just immediately think the visuals and they’re a huge component of that. You look at studies and it’s ninety to ninety four percent of all information that we consume is conveyed visually. Yes, that is so important. But what undergirds all of that is the message, especially that like unique selling proposition, unique value proposition. And then the copy is just communicating all of that with words like there’s your visual, you’re going to do a lot to support your brand. But when it comes to getting people over that goal line and really getting them to pull out their credit card, especially when you are a photographer, you know, in your you’ve got four figures that you’re trying to get somebody to pay. They’re very vulnerable when they without that credit card and they’re actually starting to pay. So how can you then come alongside and support them and put them at ease and help you trust them or help them trust you in other ways than just visuals? That’s why I feel so passionately about sales copywriting. I’ve seen hundreds at there’s literally hundreds of students go from feeling completely uncomfortable with writing to being very, very comfortable with it. So I know it is. I know it can be a. Skill writing is also something you can’t escape as a business owner, you’re going to have to write in order of business and being online, right. Even just e-mail communication with your clients. And also this the last thing I’ll say before I’ll kind of pause and we can unpack anything, maybe an eye. Even some of it. I can’t. Some of my very like I guess most like quote unquote, famous Internet famous. I guess clients that I have copywriting was one of the last things that they outsourced or they bring me in as a specialist on sales projects, launch projects, auditing, conversion, optimization, that kind of thing, or overall messaging strategy. But they still write an architect a lot of the day to day content writing in some cop, some more sales pieces that go on their business. So I really think it’s something that you need to know enough to be dangerous before you start outsourcing. And that’s yeah, I just I’m really passionate about that and know it can be done.

Megan Breukelman:
And when you’re working with some of these clients. Are you working on just their Web site copy or are you working on any emails? What kind of copy are you doing?

Ashlyn Carter:
That’s the best question I feel. We’re not I’m not asked that a lot. And again, like that, such as this is fun. OK. So the way that again, the iceberg analogy, the way that we approach especially so like Web sites you brought up our Web site copywriting package actually starts with a deep dive into a brand messaging excavation to figure out things like your values, what your voice is like, really drill down on that ideal client, figuring out your mission statement, your elevator pitch, your unique value proposition or unique sales proposition. What we’ve got to figure out all of that. And then from there we go forward and figure out the exact pages of your Web site and what you’re going to say. Because if we don’t have all of that dialed in, some people may have heard me say this analogy before, but it’s like on fixer-upper when they go into those homes, they have demo day first. They pull it down to the studs. They make sure everything is in working order. And then they put everything else on top of that. And it’s the same way. Like if you just sit down to write your Web site copy specifically, if you just open up Squarespace or show it and you get in there and you start filling out that beautiful template that you got from Tonic or wherever, that is not the right place to start because there’s so much missing in copy dictates the design, not the other way around. So you can start with the message, you get the message right away from the design and then start to fill that in. It’s gonna be a lot more powerful. That’s kind of how I suggest people approach their Web sites. And then the other things that we really work on are email funnels and like more launch packages and launch is a fancy word I say for just a marketing promo. Right. Like you’ve watched things, your magazine stuff. It’s just a promo period. I think that sometimes, especially in like the online industry, we we put all this like woo woo magic around the word launch, which, you know, there a lot. But they are just also marketing campaigns. But all that does say we do help our clients message those and then figure out what an email funnel or sequence some you can call. There’s a lot of different words, what that’s going to look like when they’re gonna go out, what they’re going to say, so on and so forth. So those are really the big types of projects. We do a lot of Facebook ads come into play in there and pretty much anything. Well, not anything. But I do not touch design. I don’t design anything. I help designers a lot and tell them I’m optimization tricks that I know, but not with open Photoshop or Illustrator or any reasons like that. I’ve gotten some pretty sweet preset packs from clients along the years and I will say those are a game changer. So I do open Lightroom a little bit.

Megan Breukelman:
That’s good to know. I’ve got presets. I’ll shoot them over your way.

Ashlyn Carter:
I just I
they are. So you guys don’t realize the value in what you do in your. I have had to learn kind of backwards, like how important the brand imagery does need to be. pitch-perfect to support the message. Like I remember at first my web site had an art director look at my web site was like Ashlyn oh ashlyn. None of these like your Cordy’s is one thing. Image does not illustrate that the image is about whatever you wanted it to be about. So that was a big learning that I’ve had to realize is how good photography just supports the message. And that’s I just I watch photographers work now, knowing that and knowing what they’re on the hunt to get as far as like telling the story. And it’s fascinating to me.

Megan Breukelman:
That’s so true. And before you said copy dictates the design and that’s so smart and something I don’t think a lot of highly visual people like photographers are considering. Yeah. So can you tell us a little more about how photography businesses specifically are impacted by high quality copywriting?

Ashlyn Carter:
Yes. So just to bring it up, it’s a saturated market, right? It is has a high attrition rate from what I have seen and studied and heard from clients. But that said, there are a lot of. You out there for people to choose from. So really being able to dial in and say, I have one of my like a copywriting goddess I look up to, she said something to the effect one time of like write copy. Her name’s Joanna. We write copy that makes your mom sweat or something like that. I loved that, like. Right. You’ve got to go get a way. I feel like so much of our industry loves like the fluffy, the romantic. Yes. But like, just go for it on your Web site. Like, say what you mean. Put a stake in the ground. Don’t be afraid to be polarizing, because I think it just makes you a stronger asset to your people that you are looking for. That’s one thing I feel like, especially when I look at photographers Web sites, you know, if it looks like everybody else’s like set and you know, I just feel like there’s that it’s apples to apples to apples to apples. Don’t be afraid to go there in your messaging. And I know we can talk like about ways to differentiate that. But that’s one thing I see a lot that I think photographers should be familiar with. I also kind of just play off what you said. It’s so easy for us to let in. Yes. Photography websites, innocent. Do you need to be visually driven like that? Is your portfolio. But watching that, you’re not putting in paragraphs chunks just to kind of like serve as a visual block over on the side? Or no, if you’re gonna put that there, then people aren’t reading it. And maybe that’s OK with, you know, maybe it’s just not very pertinent copy or just having it over there. But leverage. People are looking at your website and you need to make it easy for them to scan. Easy for them to read. Don’t be afraid of sentences by themselves. Bold like like putting things on their own copy or seeing a lot of websites is just too small. It’s just too hard to read. They say that is somebody who a coach of mine one time called me out on that. It’s hard in our creative industry because I do think, you know, we love the look of magazines that we want that, you know, that Vanity Fair feel on our Web sites or what have you. But do you think you have to be careful about during the install what it actually looks like because people do read differently on the Internet. So that’s kind of vary. That was like word vomit. Completely, Megan.

Megan Breukelman:
No, that’s something I need to get a little better at because I know I’m a fan of a tiny font, too. I love it.

Ashlyn Carter:
I love a tiny font, like. And I love the justice that usually the column. I love that. But that is not being read. So it’s just kind of one of those things. You can’t let I said it in a script for a YouTube video. We have coming out something to the effect of I. You can’t let your copy just die on the Hill. But I want it to be pretty. Like pick your battles, you know. And because I do think it’s a dance, especially in the create, like other industries can get away with ugly quote unquote, design errors cannot. I remember one time I had an Instagram teacher say at a creative conference, like no one cares what your grid looks like. And I’ll only be like a badge like, actually. Especially for those of us in the wedding field. It matters big time like it. You know, people still look at that kind of thing. So I feel the same way about Web sites for us. I think it still has to be pretty. And so it’s a delicate dance.

Megan Breukelman:
Absolutely. And your grid is your landing page on Instagram just for anyone who thinks it doesn’t matter and you ruin it.

Ashlyn Carter:
I like that. I’ve never heard it said that. I like that a lot.

Megan Breukelman:
Yeah. It really is. Because the majority, at least in my wedding photography business, the majority of my clients find us through Instagram.

Ashlyn Carter:
That’s what they find. It doesn’t seem like they find you there and you’re gonna send them off somewhere else. But you nailed it.

Megan Breukelman:
Yeah. They may not even be looking at your Web site because they’re sitting on their phone. They want to see a landing page. Yes. But yeah, on the topic of differentiating, like you had mentioned, do you have any advice for photographers who are looking to stand out a little more there?

Ashlyn Carter:
Absolutely. Absolutely. So a couple of different things on this, I think. And this is at conferences because in times like talk about this and somebody’ll come out to me after and I figured out, Ashlan, I figured out this is what makes me different. I work with couples who are more excited about their wedding or their marriage than their wedding. And I’m like, that’s great. Probably somebody out there thinks the same thing. So you’ve got to let go go it uncomfortable level of deepness to it. And when I also like your unique selling proposition or value proposition doesn’t necessarily it can be communicated in copy. It may not be. I don’t really outright say what my USP is or didn’t want at first. Now I do, because I guess, like I say, I’m the original copywriter for creatives because I was the person that figured it out and started it. But where in the beginning I was the only copywriter that approached the creative industry with the tendency and the drive towards working from a place of rest, not hetzel and not being my message. That made me different from people that were yelling like marketing market, you know, 24/7. I had a different message and a different opinion about how much marketing is enough marketing. And so that’s what made me different. So when you’re. Figure out what that is. There’s lots of different ways that you can differentiate yourself. Maybe your process is different that you go through. Maybe you can coin a name around your process or your experience. You know, you’re the only one that has the eight step elevated experience. Blah, blah. You know, like K.J brides. Like she has a dif
ferentiating factor because she has her own style and feel to it. Maybe your your market makes you different. You can get away with that for a while, especially if you’re in a certain area that you’re the only one that shoots a certain type of format or way in a certain market. Then you do have the only that’s there. So don’t worry about freaking out about drilling down 100 times in other capacities by geographic nature. You lucked out and you may be differentiated that way. Those are a couple ways that you can get into it and really start figuring it out, but that if you can figure out what that core promises that you bring people, that’s just like that’s a game changer, especially like I alluded to earlier in an industry where there’s more and more people popping in and they’ll say this one more thing, I maybe have two more. Make set that you like. Put a corner and shut up. Okay, I’ll say one thing and then I’ll balls for air. So do you know who Sheena Skidmore is, Meghan? I don’t. OK. She served as the lot of creatives as a financial coach for years. She’s actually just recently announced she’s quitting her business. I don’t think she’ll be gone forever, but she does. She needed a big break from it. She’d been a business for a long time. All this to say, she has continued. So she does financial coaching, right. For creative. There are other people that do the services that she does. But she has been told so many times by people, who do we go to now? Who do I go to? And now that you’re gone. Where do I go? That’s the kind of dent you want to leave if you weren’t there. You want there to be a gap in the market because you fill the void that nobody else did. So when you’re trying to figure out what that is. If you can find the thing that would make people notice. If you weren’t a part of it. Yeah, that’s shit. Here’s that other story I was gonna tell. This is a Shay Cochran story. She does Essie Stock Shop, but she one time talked about differentiation and she was saying, what if you loved horses and grown up, you rode horseback and then you get into the wedding industry and all of a sudden you figure out a way to define yourself as like the equine wedding photographer of New England. And, you know, anytime on these fancy estates with horses around, they need a photographer to come in. You’re the go to girl. You know, like, how can you be the go to girl for something? And does this mean that you can take work outside of those things? Absolutely. Look at Abbey Grace photography like her passion projects. She does Abbey Grace Ballerina’s and she loves photographing ballerinas and she does other work. But like, at least the way that you market yourself, see if you can differentiate that.

Megan Breukelman:
Well, I’m just sitting here nodding my head, being like, yes, keep going.

Ashlyn Carter:
Oh, that that kind of stuff made the bay. And I mean, Megan, I remember where I was. I’ve told this before, too, that I was turning left on Piedmont Road in Atlanta with a podcast on. I don’t think I’d left my job yet. Or maybe I had been like maybe it was like two weeks before I was gonna leave, like around that time. And I remember listening to some this is podcast. He was talking about Nietzsche. And I was just like, oh, bless his little heart. Like, I just am smarter than that. Like, I can get away with not doing it. And I just. The more I’m in this, the more I see that there is really I mean, what what he was talking about was having a USP message, I call it, and only this fact. Really. What is your own leanness? And it’s so important to figure that out.

Megan Breukelman:
And your site says you have eight seconds if you want people to stick around. Can you dive a little more into that?

Ashlyn Carter:
Like, you know, it is so funny. You brought it up, actually changed it yesterday to say, because I read another article that is more recent that said fifty milliseconds, which is like even shorter. What I know. So guys like it with sweet little old tech is doing to us. It’s just tearing us apart. But yeah, like you do not have long at all to get people’s attention. And that’s why I think it’s really important to mirror your images with like communicates. So here’s an example. Unlike in the home page is the hardest on your website. But sometimes it’s that hero like image up at the top and your headline that is the most difficult to write. But don’t forget with that that your image can tell half the story. I think a lot of times people try to pack so much into the copy itself, but your image can communicate a lot of who you are and who you work with. So those are like some ways. That’s one way you can kind of max out your opportunity. That limited time that you get with people is making sure that you’re using both of them in tandem. Well.

Megan Breukelman:
Wow. Oh, my gosh. Sorry. Just taking time to process that.

Ashlyn Carter:
Yeah, I think it goes back to making sure that you’re chopping up your copy to like go ahead and using that headline. And I can give. Got a freebie somewhere with some headline. Templates. Oh, yeah. Like used templates for this. If it’s if it ain’t broke. You know, there’s things out there that work for a reason and have worked for years for a reason. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or start completely from scratch. Another big thing is why I said earlier, you need to be. You can’t outsource salesmanship like you need to really when you’re listening and you’re having your client intro calls or that, you know, that coffee meeting where you’re sitting with the bride and you’re trying to figure out like, is this even going to work? Or we sit together listening to our core and that. And I mean, you’d probably need to tell her in most states, like, hey, I’m at a record this just in case I have any notes later, but also go back and listen to that. Are there things that she’s saying that would be great headline copy. How can you put her at ease by saying her words back to her? Read between the lines in their emails. Read between the lines on the increase requests that they send to you. What are they looking for? These are all things that your copy should alleviate in ways that you can get their attention when they do visit your website and you don’t have much time at all because we have the attention span of like I’m pretty sure less than a goldfish now.

Megan Breukelman:
And speaking of freebies, because you’ve mentioned this before, but you offer a ton of resources for creative. So do you have any recommendations on which freeways our listeners should be starting with?

Ashlyn Carter:
Oh, my gosh, I love that. And I always say, like, because I spend so much time on freebies. When I started my business, I would actually I probably shouldn’t say this publicly, but I would use the printer at work, can print things out and then take them home and work on them. I depended on freebies when I started my business, so I always try to make a lot of them and I say to if there’s something that you need in earning me, sure, if we have it, just email us because I that we probably do have either a video or a download about it. And I love getting people those some of the ones that tend to be like fa
vorites are and I can like help link up with these if you need me to. But there is a brand voice like starter pack to kind of get you started with how to even figure out what your brand voice is. I have a checklist of forty four questions your Web site should answer, and I think that that is a good one when you’re kind of trying to run through. Sometimes you’re so close to your Web site and if you’re like me, the cobbler’s children has no issues. My Web site is like the last thing I work on ever. Because in services businesses, we are so focused on our clients. Right. So I can make sure that you get that one, too. We’ve got some good Google Docs Web site writing template. Earlier I was talking about the value in not right like do not open up. Show it. And like, go to that little lawn some spot and try to fill it in like that. Stresses me out to think about like, oh my gosh, I play with it, flesh it out on just a dock and then once it’s to a good spot, import it. I can make sure you have links to those three, but those tend to be, I think, like three most downloaded ones. That has been helpful for people, especially in like photographers shoes like our listeners today are.

Megan Breukelman:
That’s perfect. What are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen photographers make in their copywriting pool?

Ashlyn Carter:
That’s good. I think mimicking voice of other brands, I would say everybody wants to sound like Jenna some or they used to. I felt that was very common for a while. You know, it’s like kind of sometimes the big names in this because we absorb them so much. I think that one idea I have on this and I have to do it myself. Go look aren’t like find a random industry and just go play around like it’s research. Like do it on the clock because it’s research. But like, think of an industry and just go down the bunny trail and see what kinds of voice they’re using. I know you play a lot of guy listeners, but like the broader industry is just there’s all these, you know, direct to consumer. Like they they’re hip and they’ve got these like crazy good Instagram ads and like these crazy fitting quizzes and stuff like go look at their copy, see what they’re doing on their website, like what kind of sass they’re employing. Go look at the luxury market. Go to the car industry. The beauty industry, their Web sites, mattress Web sites like there’s all those mattress companies. Now go explore voice outside of your industry and just see what kind of elements you may want to bring into years. Like how did they make the ones that you like? How did they make you feel like? What adjectives would you use to describe them? Are there copy snippets? You can kind of take in Tweak and Madlib a little bit because they’re they’re different. Those are some ways that you can play with and not sound like the romantics swoon worthy wedding. You know, marriage more important than your wedding type photography website.

Megan Breukelman:
But yeah, I think looking into outside voices in other industries is so important because I feel like in photography and especially with photo education right now, there’s such a bubble of like you have like five distinctive voices and I’m feeling it. I just keep seeing branding. Baby is made from those voices right now.

Ashlyn Carter:
That’s so funny. Yeah. There yeah. There’s there’s distinct voices in any industry and I remember for a while and Kluger feels like I need to get off for a while from fall. Yeah. Because I was like I need to figure. My own is same way with your craft. You know, like when you’re developing your photography style. When I was developing my calligraphy style, you do when you’re learning. You kind of apprenticed under a lot of people. And then at some point you kind of need to jump out of the coop a little bit and start to figure out what your style looks like in the same way, I think, with your branding and your messaging. Don’t be afraid to make that leap and kind of like play with it and workshop it until you figure out something that does feel like. Feels like you.

Megan Breukelman:
And now I want to turn the conversation a little more towards you again. So what are your services for creatives like?

Ashlyn Carter:
I got nervous when you said to I know that answer. I do know the answer to this. I am not the only one on my team anymore, which is probably one of the biggest differences in year one. But I am so excited about the way that we have things fashioned because I think that like I mentioned earlier, I don’t think within your first three years you need to. You do not need to pay ten thousand dollars for like a big what, you know, writing six pages of your website and doing your entire brand messaging excavation. You’ll need be paying three thousand dollars for that thing. And if you’re paying less than that, then I don’t think you should be paying me. Then you don’t hire that person. So I do think there is a spot there for a while. You need to be doing the work. Copywriting for creatives is my signature flag in the ground like my heart. That program is the done with you version of our brand messaging and web site writing one on one service. So that’s my baby. It comes with like some coaching because I think to one of the biggest problems, at least even for me, I want other people’s eyes on my work before I hit publish. Like I think I learned that incorporate my need for an editor, but also just to get out of my head, kind of like we were talking about earlier. And so because of that, the community aspect and like the opportunity for me to look at people’s work, I think is. I don’t know. I just I need that with my own work. So there’s that component with it. So that’s like my big that’s our big, I guess, kind of program. And then services one on what I do hourly calls with people just auditing. We have day rates available with me, members of my team. They’re all been trained. And I feel like it’s like kind of like a second shooter. But at this point, some of them are. I feel like I’m really good at sales and conversion and some of them are actually better at figuring out voice quickly from other like dressing up for other people like Halloween, kind of like real fast, quick change put on somebody else’s voice. Some of them are better at that than me.And so we do a bunch of one on one services, too, and a lot of that that we don’t turn anything out that hasn’t been double touched by what we call a copywriter and another copy writers who everything goes out with multiple ones of us looking at it. But that’s kind of what we do. We have a mix of DENN for you. Services done with your services and then got loads of templates available for download too. But I don’t think that good copy should be expensive or only affordable by people that can afford to pay it because it’s so important to the livelihood of a creative small business.

Megan Breukelman:
And how does it feel for you to have handed off some of your responsibilities overnight?

Ashlyn Carter:
And I was so it’s like weird to own that now because I’m a writer first. Hedges didn’t tell it. I know that people have associate photographers. I don’t know how they do. Have you ever gone through that?

Megan Breukelman:
Like, I don’t have associate photographers because my husband and I do our photography business together. But like I have had a V.A. help me with things. And like, it does feel really good, but it’s so hard to let go of that control and that responsibility.

Ashlyn Carter:
Ness, I think I’ve learned now. This is just me being super vulnerable. I’ve been able to understand how to position as a win for my clients and their I mean, for the first it was a year and a half of just on the ground training with especially the one now who manages all of our client services. She’s really like, I mean we’re nose to nose all the time. What is on point? That relationship that we have together and sometimes I can’t tell who wrote something. So that was a year and a half running quietly before I ever really was having her interface a lot with our clients. I don’t know if that’s like super common for other people that are kind of like bringing someone into Prentis under them. But I will say I have gone back and forth. I remember, yeah, I went from being like not even telling my clients about I’m feeling weird. I was like, somebody else is like helping in the research on theirs. I’m not really saying it too. Now I’m pretty upfront about it, but I do try to sell like if you bring somebody on that’s got a jackknife skill that you don’t, it’s pretty easy to sell your clients on the fact that somebody else is assisting on the project. Because unlike literally, Sarah has got stuff that I can’t do. Like she you want both of us on this project. And so I think that’s been something I’ve learned that I’ll continue to do. The more writers I bring on as I’m like and what they have to have a skill that I don’t, otherwise it’s. Be really awkward when I try to tell clients and I’m not able to say why it’s so valuable to have them on the project as well.

Megan Breukelman:
And what is something that you wish more people understood about copywriting?

Oh, goodness, that is a great question. O negative going for the jugular. That’s good. I think just how much time it takes. It’s the research and I mean it’s. I would say 70 percent research is 60 to 70 percent research. A lot of times and then the other part is writing, I think to another thing I get frustrated with is when people are like and this doesn’t happened a lot to me because I think we’ve learned how to. We’ve learned the hard way, how to educate people on it. But like, if somebody does write something for you, I mean, they’re a good copywriter. And, you know, you look at that music. This doesn’t sound like me. Ask them why. Because there there are a lot of times when a client a look, I’ll actually say it like that. OK. You know what your customer does? This is exactly how your customer says it. So, you know, you tell me which one you want to say. So I think that’s another thing I see that people may not always realize about copywriting is you kind of you don’t want to die on the Hill, a pretty. But you also don’t want to die on the Hill. I just mean, this does sound like me because it needs to be, again, a delicate dance in a marriage. Both of them.

Megan Breukelman:
And you’ve worked with so many creatives, including major names like I mentioned before, linked in the culture and Herbie. Do you have a typical client or what does that look like?

Ashlyn Carter:
I know there’s a section on the website where it says, like, we’re like, we’re cool. Something like, I’m a cool mom, but we work. You know, like we we do work with some, like Internet famous people we work with. So we have so many clients that’s been a blessing to with it not just being me, especially given doing this for 10 years. And I I am expensive sometimes. And so being able to have a team that can help and pull down my rate a little bit. So when I do jump on the project, I’m not spending 80 hours in research, you know, but somebody seems kind of a lower biller that helps. But we I would say definitely we are one on one projects are about seventy five hundred and up if that helps kind of give a ballpark for the one on one work that we do. And always creative. That is something that I will not budge from that. As far as the definition of that, I always tell people like if you see what I talk about online for free and you like are picking up what I’m putting down, there will probably be a good fit to work together. But like, we don’t take I don’t take on medical things. I don’t take on architects, I don’t take on realtors. There’s just a lot to that goes into play. For example, the medical industry. There’s a lot of things you can’t say and copy. You can’t make certain promises about certain things. The wellness industry is really tough to write for you, at least in my opinion. And so I want to stay neat as well, because I know I know the luxury wedding market. I know the wedding market. I know selling things like art. And so that’s something I want to stay in because it cuts down on the research time, too.

Megan Breukelman:
And I feel like we could go on and on. Because I have so many more things I want to ask

Ashlyn Carter:
You’re so fun to talk to!

Megan Breukelman:
Oh, it’s so nice. You are, too. And I definitely want to be mindful of your time here. So my last big question would be, if you have any advice you would like to share with up-and-coming photographers and creative entrepreneurs overall.

Ashlyn Carter:
Oh, so good. Let’s see. I think I mean, I’ll take it right back to what I was talking about earlier. I think that the businesses again, I’ve only been doing this on my own now for, what, four years in February. So I’m pretty green, but I’ve been in business communication for a while and the businesses I see grow faster, scale faster. They do so because they meet a specific need and are differentiated. I don’t think there is something to slow growth. I know that memory. It’s like I says that a lot and I wish she had the sweatshirt about it from her podcast. I believe slow growth does build really strong roots, but at the same time, at some point you’ve got to. Sunny Leonard Doozie is a YouTuber and she’s the one I heard say this. You got a knee down to blow up like you’ve got to figure it. You know, we look at big entrepreneurs who seem to do so much and they’re so big, but we are not seeing them 10 years ago or five years ago when they were only doing or branding themselves as a fraction like they built slowly. And they added another skill and they added another skill and so on and so forth until they built to what they are now. So I think that that I just. And I think the more and more people come on to the scene and the more more people start small businesses, which is a really good thing, the more valuable it will be to have that like us fundamental machine. You want to leave the market and for there to be a void in a gap because you did something that other people didn’t do or you did it differently than other people do. So I would say, like that’s the biggest advice. And I think that may take you know,
for me it it took a good six months to really feel like I knew the industry and I knew what my only risk factor was. And it’s changed over time. Like, as I you know, it’s only gotten stronger. But I know now that if I was not in the market, there’s not Ashlyn 2.0. There’s other copywriters. Sure. But they have a different. Vibe and feel that me and that’s what I want to bring to the table, and that’s what I think other people should. That’s a lesson I learned that I would pass on.

Megan Breukelman:
There is so much wisdom in this conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time today. It’s been great again.

Ashlyn Carter:
I’m honored and so grateful. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Megan Breukelman:
Of course. Let us know where our listeners can find you.

Ashlyn Carter:
Yes, my website is ashlynwrites.com, writes like with your hand and I like Instagram. It’s at @ashlynscarter. And those are usually the two places I am. We have weekly YouTube. Like I said, I just am a big believer in free content because I needed it. So if you need something and can’t find it, please reach out to me and my team. I love helping get people those things.

Megan Breukelman:
Well, I’ll definitely add those links in the show notes. And thank you so much, Ashlyn, for joining us. It’s been so helpful.

Ashlyn Carter:
Thanks, Megan And I appreciate it.

Megan Breukelman:
Thanks so much for tuning into the Photo Opp Podcast. If you liked this episode, I’d love for you to leave a view and let me know what you liked and what you want to hear more of. Also, head on over to the Facebook community and participate in some conversation with fellow photographers. If you want to reach me directly, feel free to DM me @meganbreukelman, which is linked in the show notes as well. Thanks again for listening and I’ll see you in a flash.

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2/12/2020

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The Photo Opp Podcast – Episode 6: Copywriting for Photographers | Guest: Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes

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