Haris Halkic: Hi Judy, thanks a lot for agreeing to share your best tips on copywriting and your background. Let’s start with how you got started in copywriting. Please, tell us more about your story.
Judy Olbrych: Hi, Haris. Thank you for having me here. It’s a pleasure to be part of your interview series with copywriters!
My copywriting story starts growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, when I was watching Ginsu knife and Disco Duck ads on TV … and reading classic sales letters from Rodale and Bottom Line.
In college, I got into chamber music and ended up doing graduate work in Historical Musicology. I was into Baroque performance practice and 19th century Transcendentalist Music Criticism in Boston.
However, instead of going for the doctorate, I switched gears and home educated four kids while assisting my husband, a classical guitarist, with arts publicity, program notes, and communication. As the family grew up, I explored work that would give me continued freedom. I taught and developed curricula as an Adult ESOL instructor, built websites, and eventually retrained as a copywriter with AWAI.
I discovered I could grow businesses and improve lives with my words … and do it in a measurable way. I was hooked.
Haris Halkic: How did you transition to freelance copywriting from your previous job? What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is employed and wants to become a freelance copywriter?
Judy Olbrych: Although the writing and research from musicology came in handy, copywriting has a whole new set of rules. It’s more conversational … we do what’s necessary to the punctuation and syntax to get into the prospect’s head, heart, and voice.
My advice for anyone who wants to pursue copywriting is to go straight to AWAI and sign up immediately. You can learn while you work in your current job.
And every skill you develop will improve ALL your communication. That includes your emails, public speaking, sales presentations, and any kind of persuasive writing.
Haris Halkic: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. What ways do you use to get clients?
Judy Olbrych: I have been fortunate to have gotten almost all my clients on recommendations from previous clients.
I also network on LinkedIn and Facebook. I’m always learning about social selling, and look to Phil Gerbyshak as a reliable source of information for connecting in an authentic, non-icky way. Relationships are key.
Being a real person, sticking to your values, finding ways to become valuable to others, and doing your best work … it all counts.
Chris Marlow has also been a mentor to me. She has programs specifically for copywriters to help them get clients, close sales, and power their ads with NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). If you’re a copywriter struggling to find quality clients or wondering how to pick the perfect niche, I recommend talking to Chris and checking out her programs.
Haris Halkic: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources you can recommend?
Judy Olbrych: Yes! AWAI is a good place to start. I recommend getting your hands on resources from Dan Kennedy, Jon Benson, Joe Sugarman, Clayton Makepeace, John Caples, Gene Schwartz, Gary Halbert, Harry Browne, David Ogilvy, Gary North, and … the list is too long. There are brilliant models and teachers out there for whatever you want to learn.
Of course, you learn by doing! My first year, I worked with a small digital agency on all kinds of sales funnels. Then I spent a full year studying with a coach who made me do about 20 edits on every piece.
You can also create your own “copy lab” by running your own ads and monitoring the campaigns. If you don’t have something to sell, sell someone else’s product. Make the affiliate commission.
Haris Halkic: How do you prepare for a writing session?
Judy Olbrych: Everything starts with research. For every project, I create a document with information about products, parts, processes, materials, customers, testimonials, competition, emotional triggers, state of awareness, and more. That takes the biggest chunk of time.
After the research is done, I write headlines and bullet points. It usually takes at least 25 headlines to get one I like.
And I make tea. Lots of tea.
Haris Halkic: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?
Judy Olbrych: That’s a tough question. Right now I’m in love with both The Adweek Copywriting Book by Joe Sugarman and Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale. The Gene Schwartz is always nearby. And I enjoy reading Josh Earl’s story-based broadcasts.
My favorite headline is probably the classic, “What Never to Eat on an Airplane” from Mel Martin.
Haris Halkic: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?
Judy Olbrych: First, uniting the best products and resources with the right people is a skill that’s needed in any economy.
People will always need copywriters. Our words make money and grow businesses.
Second, copywriters who own their own businesses enjoy the freedom to work just about anywhere they can plug in a laptop. I can live in my hometown and work with clients across the globe … or write while travelling.
Haris Halkic: What one daily habit has contributed to your success more than any other?
Judy Olbrych: I do the research to get to know the products and customers. If I’m selling a course, I go through the whole thing and look at what the competition is offering. I spend a lot of time reading reviews and lurking in forums.
I’m always installing and testing new software. And I connect with real people in each industry I serve. It’s amazing the insights you can get from a simple conversation.
Haris Halkic: Are there areas you specialize in as a copywriter and if someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?
Judy Olbrych: Absolutely! I specialize in Direct Response Copywriting for SaaS and Natural Health.
Also, my new podcast, launching this fall, focuses specifically on Lead Generation.
In Lead Generation Unleashed, we explore what’s working now to help you attract more LEADS, trigger RESPONSE, and ignite SALES for your business. I already have some fantastic guests and can’t wait to get it started!
Thank you again for having me here, Haris. It’s been a pleasure!