why content marketing matters | laura bosco
Laura Bosco | laurabosco.com
Hannah: Hello everyone and welcome back to DWGTV. Today I am joined by Laura Bosco who is a copywriter and self-proclaimed people person; that is what her website says. Today I’m interviewing her about copywriting and how to keep your customers engaged with compelling copy. I think this is going to be a great chat today. Laura do you want to take a second and introduce yourself and let everyone know what you do both professionally and some personal fun facts, if you want to sprinkle that in as well.
Laura: Sure. We’re doing this remotely today because I am in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but I work with people all over the U.S. and a little bit internationally too. I’m an independent copywriter and I primarily help small businesses and entrepreneurs explain what they do. Customers won’t buy what they don’t understand so my job is to work with a variety of small businesses and entrepreneurs to make sure it’s very clear what they’re selling, why they’re selling it and who they’re selling it to.
A fun fact about me: I do a lot of running. I am a huge bird watching which works well with working from home. It’s kind of shocking for a millennial. I don’t think many millennials are bird watchers. I bake sourdough bread every week. I think that’s one of the things my husband and I enjoy the most. It makes two loaves, so we give one loaf to a different neighbor or person that we want to eat and then we eat a whole loaf of bread between the two of us.
Hannah: That’s so awesome. I was actually creeping on your Instagram this morning just trying to get some more background on you and it seems like it’s so beautiful where you live. I can imagine that the bird watching is incredible.
Laura: It is. We really lucked out with a big porch that pretty much extends our house by another room and anytime the weather is warming than 40 degrees I’m out there. It’s incredible.
Hannah: That’s awesome. Well, thanks so much for sharing a little bit about yourself. Today we’ll just drive into the questions. Can you tell us why you write? And is that something that you’ve always been passionate about?
Laura: Yeah. It’s a really personal question that I don’t mind answering. When I was a little kid I had all of these thoughts and emotions trapped inside of me, probably like most little kids do. The only way that I could ever figure how to get them out effectively was to write about them. I started writing short stories, poetry, anything and everything in my journal. That’s what made me fall in love with it. It was a way to get all of this going on inside of me out into the world, or at least out of my head. That’s part of still why I write today because I think everyone has something to say and something worth saying but not everyone knows how to do that. Not everybody knows the right words, or the vocabulary or the way to string sentences together. I find a lot of joy helping people get whatever’s in their head or whatever’s in their business that really needs to be out in the world in a way that other people can go, “Oh. I get it. I get what you do now.”
Hannah: That’s so awesome. Has writing always been what you’ve done professionally, and what you’ve pursued education-wise?
Laura: No, I have a joke that I have a typical millennial resume. I studied biology, which I absolutely loved but I didn’t end up doing anything with it. I tried doing some research and I worked in a couple of labs and it was really interesting but I don’t think it was people-intensive enough for me. I managed a restaurant, which is probably the weirdest thing that I did for a while. I did that for a few years. Y’all actually have some of the restaurants there: it’s Urban Cookhouse.
Hannah: Yeah, we just got that probably a year or so ago.
Laura: Yeah, I think you guys have two locations. I managed three restaurants in Birmingham and so I managed a couple of those for a couple of years.
And more recently I was a digital project manager for an agency. That agency did WordPress design and development. I had the privilege of getting all these clients and designers and developers in one room and we spent a lot of time figuring out, “Where do we want to go? How do we want to solve this problem?” So that was fun and that dealt a whole lot with communication too.
Hannah: Would you say that you just were hungry for a more people-intensive career and that’s why you chose to pivot towards copywriting?
Laura: I think it was more of a creative hunger than anything else. There were a lot of parts that I loved about project management. It was people-intensive and I got to interact with people. It was very strategic and outcome-oriented, so there’s always something that we were striving to achieve and that’s something that I bring into copywriting too. It’s not words for the sake of words. It’s beautiful words for the sake of achieving something.
But yeah, the agency kept asking me to do a lot of writing and I had a lot of people on the side that kept asking me to do a lot of writing, and I eventually hit this point where I looked at my husband and I said, “We have to choose. Do I keep trying to juggle these things, or do I really dive into writing and see where that can take us?” That’s what we decided to do was to go all-in on the writing.
Hannah: Super cool. I’m glad you found the path that works well for you and it sounds like it perfectly aligns with your personality, so that’s awesome.
Laura: Yeah, it’s a crazy, weird path.
Hannah: What would you say is the most challenging thing about your job?
Laura: That’s tricky. There are a couple of different things that are challenging. But I think the biggest challenge comes down to sitting down and doing the work. At some point, I have to push aside the fear of failure, the unknown, all the questions, and I have to just do it. Someone once said that being a writer is the art of applying your butt to the chair, and they were talking about writing novels, but it’s not that different from what I do. I can think about it all day, I can research it all day but at the end of the day, I have to get something on paper and start working with it from there.
Hannah: Yeah that can definitely be a struggle. That’s a great quote, honestly. Just sitting down and doing the work for sure.
What does your content creation process look like? I know you do varying types of copywriting from newsletters to web copy. What does your process look like and how does structuring those different kinds of content… like which one is your favorite? Which one is not so much your favorite? Just share a little bit about that if you would.
Laura: When it comes to process I would say there are almost two different processes. There’s the one that I’m going to tell clients about because it’s easier to understand, and that’s the research, ideation, drafts and revision process. It’s the process most creatives describe for anything that they do. So, you research an idea, you come up with an idea, you draft it, you work on it and then you have a final product. And then there’s the actual side of the creative process that people who do the work are more familiar with it. It’s where you start out with this great idea and then it goes downhill a little bit and you think, “Maybe this isn’t a great idea,” and then you think, “Oh this idea is crap,” and then you go, “Oh I’m crap.” And then you sort of start coming back up the other side, where you work on it, and you’re like, “This is okay,” and then you get to a final product. So to any extent, everything I do has both sides of those. They have that more structured, research and drafting, but then they also have that more emotional roller coaster of ‘how is this going to go?’
It does differ a little bit according to the format. So, for your homepage or your website that’s going to be a little bit more research-intensive on the customer. What’re they saying? What words are they using when they’re writing reviews? When they’re researching competitors? It’s a lot about finding that voice of customers as some copywriters call it. A newsletter and blog post are going to be a little bit heavier on the subject matter research. So, one’s more customer research-heavy and one’s more subject research.
Overall, it tends to vary more by the client then it does by format. All of the formats are going to have a process I described, but depending on what the client wants to achieve, what their budget is, what their timeline is, that’s really the specifics of the process will come out. There’s kind of a process template and then I’ll build it around the client.
Hannah: That’s super interesting. So, you have a quote on your website that says, “Delight your customers with clear, high-quality writing.” I just want to pick your brain and see what does delighting your customers mean for you?
Laura: So, if you’re asking from the perspective of a business delighting their customers I’ll answer it both ways. But if it’s a business delighting their customers I think it means speaking to their customers honestly, clearly and with purpose. We have all of these ads and all of these messages that are bombarding us every day. I can’t remember the stat, but it’s stupid high how many ads we see in a day. A lot of those are kind of scammy and a lot of those are dishonest, and no one likes feeling as if they’d be ‘had’ or had the wool pulled over their eyes. I am personally delighted whenever I am interacting with a business and they speak to me like I am a human and they tell me clearly and honestly, even if it’s a lot of fun, here’s what we offer here and here’s why it’s for you. In terms of a business, I think that’s delighting your customers.
When it comes to me delighting my customers I think that’s threefold. I think that’s one, helping them get that idea out. The joy of them looking at something I’ve created and going, “That’s what I was trying to say.” Another part is working with me, I want that to be fun and delightful. And if it’s not going to be, then I don’t want to work with you, because it won’t be fun for you either. Because we’re just not a good fit if that’s the case. A third part is seeing results. I always want customers to be able to trace some result, whether it’s a sale, more engagement, more newsletters sign-ups, or whatever the goal is. I want them to see some kind of result.
Hannah: I love how you broke that out into how you’re delighting your customers and how you’re helping businesses delight their customers. That’s super interesting.
What kinds of clients do you typically work with?
Laura: That’s always a fun question. Right now, I work with a really wide variety of industries. So, there’s no specific industry that I’ve niched down into say, “Hey I only do nutrition, or I only do athletics.” Right now, it’s a really big variety. But the common denominator is the businesses are typically small; usually five or fewer people on their core time. They may have other contractors but the core team is usually five or less. And they’re normally young companies, so they’re normally start-ups that are five or so years young.
Hannah: Awesome. I know that you mentioned that you’ve worked with nonprofits in the past and that you have an area on your website where you talk about special pricing for nonprofits and special offers there. Can you expand on that a little bit and share why you’re passionate about working for nonprofits?
Laura: I have so much respect for nonprofits because they, a lot of times, are making really big waves with really limited resources. A lot of times due to budget restrictions they don’t have the opportunities to partner with the level of agency or creatives that a lot of these other mid to big size businesses, with astronomical budgets, can. I’m passionate about offering a nonprofit rate to make my services more accessible to nonprofits that could benefit from it. I had the opportunity to work with one last year in Chattanooga and it was so much fun and it was so encouraging for me. The team I was with, we joked that it was more of a gift to us than to them at the end of the day because we walked away so encouraged by what they were doing and how hard they were working and what a difference they were making. So it was a gift for us to be able to impact their business in the way that we did.
Hannah: I love that you do that. We’ve been narrowing the industries that we’re focusing on here at Dubose Web and one of those verticals is nonprofits, so I just kind of wanted to get your perspective there. We’re really passionate about working with community-focused organizations. That’s kind of the common thread between all of the industries that we’re focusing on, so I love that.
Laura: That’s really exciting. I didn’t know that about you guys.
Hannah: Yeah. So, you’re working with multiple clients and their goals and challenges and what you’re doing for them differ greatly, I’m assuming. How do you try to find the balance between working with such a variety?
Laura: I would say a lot of it comes down to knowing my limits, which I largely found out my other jobs. Through managing a restaurant, through working at an agency. Over the years I found out what I can and can’t handle. I know that I have about four hours max. of creative work in me per workday. I can do some admin tasks on top of that, so maybe six hours total is kind of my max. I know that I can’t really exceed that and deliver good work. Part of balancing the clients comes down making sure that I don’t overbook myself in terms of those hours. I’m not going to commit to more clients, to more projects, to more work than can fit into those segments.
And then a lot of it is chunking my work too, so energy management is the way that I think about it. I am freshest in the morning. The day before I’ll write down the three things I have to do the next day and then the hardest one I’m going to do in the morning. After coffee, when I still think I can take on the world and everything is bright and shiny, that’s when I take on the hard things. My weeks and days end up playing out on that. I’ll draft earlier in the week and edit later in the week.
Hannah: I personally love hearing how people structure their days and weeks and how they manage their time. Do you do calendar blocking? Would you say that’s what you do to manage your days?
Laura: I’m trying to think of a good way to describe it. The overall structure is that I have three things that I want to check off and those are my three priorities. I will tackle the hardest thing in the morning before I check email; that’s one of my secrets. I will sit down when I’m ready to work and I will work for an hour to two hours, sometimes three, before I hop into email. Because when I hop into email my day gets a little bit sidetracked, other priorities may come up, and I don’t want to give my email more power than it should have. So I don’t check it until mid to late morning. I typically try to stop working by five or six so I can spend time with my husband in the afternoon.
A typical day would be three hours of focused work, email break, lunch break, three more hours of focused work in the afternoon, another break and then the end of the day is typically admin tasks. What email do I need to answer? What do I need to do tomorrow?
Hannah: That’s a great tip. I know the first tab that I open up every morning is my email. I open my email and then I open up my calendar and then I open up our task management system that we use. So, I kind of love that. And even sometimes I’m guilty of checking my email before I get to work just so I know if there’s anything that came in my inbox while I was home the night before. So, I really like that strategy and I think that’s something that our viewers can take away too is just getting into a habit of getting that hardest thing knocked out first thing before you let other people’s requests dictate your day and dictate how you’re managing your time.
Laura: Why would you waste your best mental work on skimming emails? You could get so much impact out of those hours, and those minutes when you are fresh, doing something else.
Hannah: For sure; that’s a great tip.
Can you go into explaining why content marketing matters? Why it is that you do what you do and why you’re so passionate about helping businesses reach their customers through a compelling and engaging copy?
Laura: I would say I don’t think content marketing is necessary for everyone. It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot of consistency. If the company knows that they can’t do that, and they can’t afford that then we want to consider alternative routes. But for a company that is passionate about its customers and is passionate about communicating with its customers, it’s a great avenue. It can take a while to work, but when it does, it can be a recruiting funnel, it can be a sales lead funnel and all of that compounds over time, which I think is the coolest thing about content marketing. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that becomes even more incredibly powerful if you’re doing it well.
As far as messaging, it’s honestly hard to know where to start with why I think that’s important because to me it comes back to relationships. Having a relationship with your customer you’re going to have to communicate with them. And there are a million and one ways you do that. You do that visually through your brand and you do that technically through your website. There are so many places you use words: on Facebook, on LinkedIn, in your newsletters. Every time you’re messaging a customer, every interaction point you have with them that’s an opportunity to build a better relationship with them. Just like when you sit down with a friend or every time you grab a coffee, every time you shoot them a ‘thinking about you’ text that builds the relationship. I’m passionate about good relationships and I want businesses to have more of those with their customers.
Hannah: I love that. I know you mentioned that when you were younger you would journal and that’s how you got your thoughts out onto paper. Since you’re writing so much for your job is writing still something that you do personally for yourself? Do you have a journaling practice or are you still writing poetry for yourself? Or anything that you do to get your personal creative energy out.
Laura: Not as much as I want to and not as much as I should. That’s probably something I should think about for 2019. I do a little bit of journaling and I did that especially when I first started working for myself because there was so much that I was figuring out, and my brain was so full that I just wanted to get it down. Especially so I could encourage other people later, if I know them and they’re taking the same route, I can be like, “See I was a little crazy this month, but it’s fine.” I mostly read fiction, honestly as a creative outlet. That’ll inspire me to create, is reading what other people have created. And just like how tv takes most people’s mind off of something, reading fiction takes my mind off of something.
Hannah: Gotcha. Since it’s the new year people are trying to up their reading game, journal more. Those are some of the popular resolutions. I’m personally trying to journal more myself. I have one of those five-year Q & A books where it asks the same questions every day for over five years. Last year I was super inconsistent about doing it. I have one for myself and then me and my husband have one that we do together sometimes. It’s like a little time capsule type thing, so we’re trying to get better about that. So I was just creating what my creative outlet was. Also, I need to read more. I’m not good at reading fiction. I’m more of a nonfiction girl.
Laura: People seem to be on one camp or the other. I personally can’t do much nonfiction. I have a stack of it on my desk that’ll help me with my work but it’s too thought intensive for me. I dive into those books and I’m like, “Well what do I take away from this and how do I do this?”
Hannah: When reading is supposed to be more of an escape anyway.
Laura: I think it depends on the person too.
Hannah: It does totally.
Next, I want to do some rapid-fire questions just for fun. These are random, just for fun questions.
What is your favorite day of the week and why?
Laura: Weird. Monday. Most people’s least favorite day of the week. That is my favorite day of the week. My husband calls it Motivation Monday because we get more done on Monday, I swear than other days of the week. Probably combined.
Hannah: That is motivating to me. I guess if you have a good Monday you’re setting yourself up for success for the rest of the week. That’s a good way to look at it.
Laura: I have the most energy that day, so I’m like, “Yeah bring it on. Let’s do stuff.”
Hannah: That’s awesome. Are you a coffee or a tea person?
Laura: Both. Coffee in the morning, and tea in the afternoon.
Hannah: What kind of tea do you drink?
Laura: Short answer is whatever is in the pantry. The longer answer is I try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon so it’s mostly herbal tea. I have this really delicious, like orange blackberry tea that’s really good.
Hannah: What are you currently reading or listening to?
Laura: Like a super nerd I am rereading Harry Potter right now. I am on book four and I realize I don’t have book five, so I’ll be going to the library sometime soon. But that’s my fiction escape. And because Chattanooga is super cloudy and dreary in the winter so I always pick up a fiction series, and this year I just decided it was going to be Harry Potter.
Hannah: Fun fact, and this is probably going to make people cringe, but I’ve never read Harry Potter.
Laura: I don’t judge you. If you don’t like fiction, Harry Potter is mega-long fiction. So there’s no reason for you to get into that.
Hannah: All of the books are on my Goodreads list, and everyone is always so shocked when I tell them that. I’ve seen some of the movies but not in order by any stretch of the imagination. I went to one midnight premiere and dressed up and went with my friends. But I’ve always wanted to read it just to see what the hype is about. I know I’m years behind but I might give it a try.
Laura: Well all Harry Potter fans cringe when I tell them I’ve read every book except the last one, which is why I’m actually working my way through the series.
Hannah: Do you not want it to end? Is that why?
Laura: No because I read them as they were coming out, which I think, I was looking at the publication dates the other day, I think that started when I was nine, which is crazy to me. But she took a couple of years between the last ones, probably because they were just hard and there was so much to wrap up. By the time the very last book came out, I had forgotten the rest of them and I didn’t want to reread the rest of them. I don’t think I’ve ever read the last one.
Hannah: What is your favorite season and why?
Laura: It has to be summer in Chattanooga because the days are epically long. I can’t tell you how much it crushes my soul for the sun to set at 5:30 right now.
Hannah: It is so hard. I can’t wait for March when the time changes.
Laura: I love to be able to play outside until it’s 9:30 at night. And Chattanooga has all of these rivers and holes. There are endless swimming holes, which is so much fun. You can just pack a cooler, drive 20 minutes and be in this cool but not cold, clear swimming hole and it’s incredible.
Hannah: My last rapid-fire question is who inspires you?
Laura: It’s got to be this group of women in my life. There are plenty of people that are doing incredible and inspirational things out there, but the people who really motivate me to keep going day after day are some of my best friends and mentors. Some of them have worked in the White House, one of them is a pediatric nurse and one of them is a mom of twins. But they’re all incredibly strong, incredibly resilient and incredibly optimistic women. Anytime I talk to one of them I’m more motivated to do whatever it is I’m doing.
Hannah: I love that. It’s so important to have a good girl group in your life. Where can people find you online to follow along with everything that you’re doing and to learn more about you?
Laura: The place to learn about my basic services, who I am, is going to be my website laurabosco.com. You’ll find more regular updates on my Twitter and Instagram, which are linked too from my website, but my Twitter handle is lauraebosco, and I’m pretty sure that’s my Instagram handle too.
Hannah: Thank-you. That’s really all of the questions that I have for you today. Thanks for joining us. I really enjoyed chatting with you.
Laura: Yeah likewise. Thanks for giving me the chance to sit down, meet you and chat about what I do.
Hannah: Did you have anything else that you wanted to share that I didn’t touch on in my questions? It’s okay if you don’t.
Laura: I don’t know exactly how to phrase it but never underestimate the power of clear communication. Whether you’re in leadership, whether you’re a business, whether you’re just trying to have a better relationship with your family, never underestimate the power of clear communication in whatever you’re doing.
Hannah: Totally. Well thank-you so much, it was such a pleasure talking with you. And thanks to everyone for tuning in today. If you liked this chat please like and share this video and connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram; we are on all the platforms. We’d love it if we got a follow from you to continue the conversation and so that you can get further updates and reminders of our next DWGTV episodes. Speaking of, our next episode will live on February 5th at 1 pm Eastern time. I’ll be interviewing the lovely designers here at Dubose Web and we’ll be doing a little design panel to talk about design trends in 2019. Be sure to tune in for that. Thank you so much Laura for being here, it was such a joy to talk to you and I hope you have a great rest of your day.
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