Has writing good copy ever stopped you from your big business dreams? Tired of writing copy that just sounds like everyone else? In today’s episode, we’re joined by copywriting pro, Jess Jordana, and she shares some of her best tips for writing copy that connects, converts, and still sounds like YOU. We also talk a lot about motherhood, setting boundaries, and building a business that really works for you.
If you don’t already know Jess, she’s an incredible copywriter who helps creative business owners turn their passion into words people actually get. She runs Jess XO, a copywriting agency for creative entrepreneurs. And as the founder of the promptly shot. She drinks, iced coffee all year round and firmly believes if date night isn’t tacos, you’re doing it wrong (AGREED).
She’s a wife and mama to her baby girl Parker Jane and her doodle pup, Joey Tribbiani. She’s worked with a hundred plus solopreneurs and organizations like the Rising Tide Society, Guide Culture, CEO School, etc.
You can listen to the full episode with the player below or scroll down to read the transcript of our interview.
In this episode we discuss:
- Setting Boundaries and Growing a Business that Works for YOU
- The Hardest Lesson Jess Has Learned as an Entrepreneur (and How to Overcome it)
- How to Craft a Clear Message that Doesn’t Sound Like Everyone Else
Find it quickly:
- 4:18 – 3-day workweek and setting boundaries
- 9:12 – Scarcity mindset and learning to say no
- 17:07 – Hard lesson learned + how she handles it
- 25:34 – Tips if you feel like you’re not a good writer
- 29:47 – Promptlates and writing better copy
- 32:06 – Clarify your message and be more confident in sharing it
This episode is sponsored by Daily Kairos, a daily prayer journal to help you spend more time with God and in His Word. Save 10% on your first prayer journal with code “JORDAN”
Growing a Successful Business with Strict Boundaries on Your Time
Jordan: You’ve grown a super successful business with really strict boundaries on your time, and you work three days a week, I believe. So what made you decide to only work three days? Did you have any trouble sticking to those boundaries?
Jess: Yeah, I have a lot to say on this because I feel like before I had a baby, I had “boundaries” but they were not kind boundaries. I feel like I was boundaried because everybody told me to be, and everybody says, if you’re a legit business owner, then these will be your boundaries instead of craft your business to fit your life kind of thing.
And so I feel like I held a lot of boundaries in a really firm way instead of being flexible with boundaries, which I think is really, really important as a mom and business owner. And just business owner in general, even if you just value building your business to support your life, that doesn’t always look the same way from week to week to week.
So all of that said, I have strict boundaries, but I hold them, I hope, with kindness and with open hands. And that’s something that I’ve learned a lot. So I would say the three day a week thing started out very utilitarian. I was afraid to spend five day a week money on childcare.
So I was like, okay, we’re just gonna like start out with three days a week and kind of go from there. And I also wanted to like ease into things a little bit when I was coming back from maternity leave. So I was like, okay, well if I can have essentially four days a week with my daughter and three days on business, I think that that would be a happy medium. And then I honestly just never changed it because I really liked it.
And I found that as I was ruthlessly rooting out things in my business that I liked it a lot better, that it functioned really well within three days a week. And it kind of kept me in check, I think in terms of not, I mean, I’m an Enneagram three and so I can go all in when it comes to business and that’s not really who I wanna be right now. I definitely want to be all in wherever my feet are planted. But that means I need to plant my feet in different places in order to be able to be present there. So I think that was kind of how that came about, and it really has not been as difficult as I thought it would be.
The most difficult thing has been having the courage to root out those things that aren’t working. But then everything really can fit into place when you are ruthless about making sure that everything you’re doing is aligning. Something that’s gonna move your business forward and that your business is moving forward in the direction that you really, really want it to, I think is really important too.
Jordan: It’s so good and so true because I think it’s Parkinson’s law that says the more time that you have the more you’ll fill the time with work. And I think I was that way too. Because I’m the same, I’m very achievement driven and I would have an idea when we were running our marketing business in an RV with no kids and we’d launch it that next day.
Like let’s just try this, let’s just try that. But having children has been such a practice in setting like intentional boundaries and realizing, “What can I do to make my business successful and serve people well and scale it back in order to scale forward?”
And I think a lot of people don’t think about that, that a lot of times trimming down your offers, trimming down your time, trimming down the ways that you show up can allow you to grow so much better and so much faster trying to do all the things. And it gives you a little bit more sanity, at least in my mind.
Getting Booked Out and Learning to Say No
Jordan: I think one of the things for you too, with your boundaries and how you’ve been able to A) decide the work you’re doing, but then B) who you’re working with as well. You’re pretty famously known for being pretty booked out since you launched however many years ago.
So many people suffer from this scarcity mindset. How have you learned to say no to the wrong clients or the wrong opportunities even? What has helped you learn how to say no? And how do you practically do that?
Jess: I think, first of all, thank you. I think that is very sweet of you to say, but I also, there is so much power in learning to say no through allowing yourself to say yes. I think a lot of people make it wrong to even say yes in the first place in this space where we’re like all about boundaries, all about capacity, all about mental health, all of that kind of stuff.
But the truth is your capacity isn’t going to be the same as somebody else’s capacity. And so you can’t ever know that until you kind of hit a little bit of a wall. I mean, not a burnout sort of wall, but you have to test your capacity in order to know it.
So I think that was one of the best things that I did early on is I did say yes to a lot of things, but I was very conscious about, “how do I feel doing this?” Or like, “how did I feel with this many clients at one time?” Or “how did I feel with this many clients in one month?” Or “what did it feel like whenever I had a client who was on a really tight timeline versus a client that had a little bit more stretchy of a timeline?”
And I think that just allowing myself to test all of those things really made it to where by the time I was pregnant and had Parker, I was like three years into my business and so I had time to test all of those things.
And not to say you can’t have boundaries without testing absolutely everything, but I think you have to go into saying yes to things with the mindset of “I’m going to use this to test my capacity or I’m going to use this to figure out how it feels” instead of like “if this feels bad, then you did something wrong” kind of thing.
So I think that’s kind of how I did it and I really learned a lot about myself. I thrive on a tight timeline and not a lot of other copywriters do that. In fact, a lot of other copywriters that I coach really hate tight timelines, but I’m like, I absolutely cannot get it done unless it’s due like tomorrow.
So I just know that about myself and I know that I am gonna craft my packages around that, and that works really well within the business that I’ve built. But that’s just because I’ve allowed myself to try different things. I know myself really well, and then I let my business reflect that instead of what everybody else is doing.
So I think that’s probably the most important part.
Building a Business that Works for You
Jordan: That’s so key to what you said of letting your business reflect how you work and what’s important to you in that. I think that’s huge for people to recognize that just because someone else, and we talked about this with boundaries too, but just because someone else is setting a certain boundary, or they’re working in a certain way or they’re offered, like your business has to serve you as well as your people and it has to serve your family.
And that can change in different seasons and that can change in different ways. And I think knowing your brain and how you work plays a huge role. And I know we talked about this a little bit before, but even knowing your brain in terms of writing copy and how you work, and there’s so much that goes into.
Not just, I mean, crafting a message, right? But crafting an entire business around how you work. Because I mean, the Lord made you a certain way, right? Like he’s given us our time, our talents, our gifts, but he’s also given us our brain.
And I’m with you – I cannot work if you give me two weeks to do something, I’m gonna do it the day before it’s due. I’ve always been like that, but I will thrive in that. And so knowing those boundaries, our funnel build projects can’t be five months long because it’s just not gonna work.
Jess: Right. I was just gonna say, I think part of that, like knowing how you get things done, but also honoring what is on your brain at all times. Like, I’m just thinking about a five month funnel build project. Like sure, maybe it’s not on your task list until the very end because you can get it done in one day, but if it’s a five month project, it’s on your mind for five months and within your responsibilities for five months.
So that’s another thing is like, it’s not just what is on your to-do list, especially as moms. I know a lot of people, especially in the social media world, talk about like the mental load, but that’s so important to honor within your business too. Like how can you make sure that you’re not just managing what’s on your plate, but also managing what’s on your mind and allowing that to kind of be okay, but also like managing it in terms of taking your brain out of certain things that are not necessary and stuff like that. So I think those are both super important.
Jordan: Yes. That’s like a therapy session for me because I just don’t ever turn my brain off. It’s like 50 tabs open at all times and I’ll have to be having a date with Pete or something, and he’s like, “can we talk about that later?” I’m like, “no, because that’s how my brain works.”
I almost have to get things off my brain like I have to check things off or I will think about it like it’s an open tab all the time. And simplifying my business helped a lot with that and having really set work and mom hours helped because when I just had one kid, we used to do the nap time warrior thing. And I could just like work whenever and it was super flexible. Because I had one kid, and she took great naps. Now, they conspire to not nap ever at the same time.
But I realized for my brain, I had to separate mom life and work life, because if I was trying to do both at the same time, I was feeling guilty. I would be with my kids when I needed to send an email or I wish I was with them when I sat down to work and I wasn’t being intentional or good steward at the time when I was doing one thing or the other.
Overcoming Disappointing People as an Entrepreneur
Jordan: I feel like you share a lot about the hard parts of growing the successful business, and you’ve talked about a lot, especially when you’re talking to copywriters and the behind the scenes things that have been going on. What’s a hard lesson that you’ve learned and what have you changed about your business or life because of that?
Jess: I feel like a hard lesson that I’ve learned. I mean, I’m always hesitant to share this, but we’ll just be real honest here, is that you’re absolutely gonna disappoint people.
Even if you run an amazing business, even if you serve people so well, you can disappoint people and still be as amazing as everybody thinks and says you are, or as you should think and say you are, as God thinks and says you are, you can still disappoint people. And those two things don’t negate each other.
And I think that was one of the hardest things that I had to learn in terms of implementing boundaries is that I can’t do every summit. I can’t do every podcast. I can’t. Sometimes I have to change something, like sometimes my schedule changes because my daughter doesn’t have daycare and I have to switch things around, and that is okay for the person on the other end to be disappointed. It is okay.
It stinks sometimes because I don’t ever want to be the source of that for people. But that’s just gonna happen whenever you are holding your own boundaries firmly. So that was something I really had to reconcile with as a people pleaser, that it is not my job not to disappoint people. It’s just my job to keep my promises. And so I have to be really careful about what I promise people.
And this is a good marketing lesson too, because putting forward a good program is not about doing whatever whoever says in the program. Like it’s not about fulfilling whatever they want. It’s about fulfilling your promise from when they joined the program.
And so I think that’s where a lot of us as business owners and people pleasers get really caught up, which I know women are definitely more of the people pleaser camp, is we think we have to fulfill every request from our audiences from our students or clients, when really we just have to fulfill what we promised.
Having a Clear Message and Knowing What You Promise Your Clients
Jess: And so I think that can be a really helpful thing. I even in the past have written out for like a program or something like, what did I promise? And I go back to my sales page and I’m like, okay, I promise this, I promise this, I promise this so that I can double check it when there’s a request of me.
I’m like, “do I wanna go above and beyond and do this just because I can and because I want to, or do I feel like I have to do this in order for it to be good?”
So I think that can be really freeing for people, is thinking through: what have I promised versus what are people just asking of me? And those things don’t always have to be one and the same.
Jordan: Yes, and obviously the words that we say have a huge impact in our life and our business in so many ways, but that’s a really interesting way to think about it too. Like even if we have clarity in our message, in our words, we should be really clear on what we’re promising.
It’s fun to think of copy and messaging in terms of like attracting the ideal client and word crafting, but at the end of the day, having clarity on your message and also on what you are delivering so they understand will also help make sure you’re not getting out of scope and you’re over-committing, or you delivered exactly what you meant to, and they were confused on what that is.
I know we’ve been in that situation like, and you know, when we first started our business just saying yes to every extra request. It’s so easy to let that scope creep happen, especially with one-on-one work. I think this is really cool to think about in terms of copy too, is there’s the attraction, right, of like attracting the right people, but there’s also the clarity in your message on what you’re delivering and talking about.
Jess: Yeah, absolutely. And I think like the follow through is what a lot of people sometimes are missing in this space, or it’s not the follow through that they’re missing, they’re just over promising on the front end. So they say all of these things are absolutely possible, or all of these things will happen when, or I will respond immediately or whatever – and then you have to own up to all of those promises.
So it’s not to say that your offer can’t hold great things like that, but you just have to know the great things that you’re promising and be able to deliver on that in integrity.
Having Integrity in Your Copywriting
Jordan: Yeah, that’s huge. Especially your piece with integrity, because I don’t know If you feel this way, but my beef with the marketing industry in general is that it can get really fluffy really quickly. And especially with us in the ad world and funnels, I’ve just seen loads of fluff – and I hate the fluff.
And I think when you are really trying to connect with people, the more integrity that you hold in that and the more that you’re able to clearly articulate it without A) making it fluffy in a way that it’s not actually concrete or people don’t understand what it is or B) fluffy in the way that it just sounds like everyone else. I mean, I think the integrity part of copy is something that can really easily go missing.
Jess: Absolutely. And I think it’s easy. The way most people write copy, if they don’t know how to write copy, is they look to everybody else and it may feel like, “oh, I have to say these things. I have to promise these things” instead of rooting it in “what do I provide? What do I have to offer? What would I say about this kind of thing?” And I think it’s so much more important to stem all of your messaging from that. And that’s hard to do.
It’s hard to do because we haven’t been trained to do that. So I think it takes some time to get used to it, but it’s gonna be so much easier for you to follow through when you know that it’s rooted in that.
Stop Trying to Sound Like Everyone Else
Jess: I was listening to this random podcast the other day. I had searched a random topic and found a podcast and was listening to this thing – and have you ever heard Amy Porterfield’s line in her podcast where she says, “If you’re multitasking right now, I need you to come back to me”? She says that over and over again in her podcast, and I was listening to this podcast and this lady said that, but it was not hers, it was Amy Porterfield’s phrase. It was not her phrase, like, she did not come up with that from her mind. She had it written on a script somewhere, and I cringed so hard because I was just like, “oh, I just lost so much respect for her” because I knew that she was trying to be somebody else within a podcast instead of educating from her heart instead of saying what she had to say instead of being authentic.
And I think it’s really easy to do that and copy. And I just don’t want other people to think that they’re doing the right thing by saying what other people say. And then that’s actually the thing that’s losing respect from their audience.
Jordan: Yes! I think inspiration can really quickly become imitation and that really takes away your own, your voice and your purpose. And like you said, turn people off from even listening to anything else they’re saying because they’re trying to act like someone else.
Stop Letting Copy Hold You Back from Your Business Dreams
Jordan: So let’s dive into this, because I think so many of us get stuck in our head when it comes to writing copy. I know you have a free series and I was on the page looking at it and you have the main header obviously because you’re a genius copywriter, but it says: “Is copy still holding you back from your business dreams?” And I was like, Amen to that!
Because so many of us are stopped by that simple thing. I mean, copy’s not simple, but it’s just one piece: writing it out, being able to communicate it clearly. It stops so many of us from launching, starting selling, trying a new thing.
So what advice would you give to someone who feels that they’re not a good writer or they’re letting that perfectionism or overthinking stop them from taking action and writing good copy?
Jess: I think you’re so right in that it does stop you from starting a lot of times. I think it’s also important to know as a business owner that copy’s not gonna go away. Like that’s just a fact in business and there is absolutely no way that you can outsource a hundred percent of your copy. You can outsource some really key portions of it, but you’re still gonna have to write the text in your Instagram stories. You’re still gonna have to write some emails. You’re still gonna have to write an intro or whatever. Like it’s almost impossible to outsource a hundred percent of those things.
And so I think the first thing that’s really important is to not to let the fact that it’s hard mean something about your identity. Just because it’s hard to write copy doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, because it’s hard for me to write copy too. And I’ve just had to put a lot of processes in place and get to know my own brain and a lot of kind of system things in place in order to get through the hard, more quickly.
And so I think that’s where a lot of business owners go wrong is they let that feeling of being stuck take them so far as, “oh, I shouldn’t write because it’s not in my zone of genius” and that is really gonna hold you back from growing your business.
I think the important thing to do is to realize that if you write copy effectively, it should get a little simpler each and every time because you can pull from what you just wrote. If you have a process that’s going to help you get all the good stuff out of your brain and onto paper and understand how to pull the right things out of your business and your take on things and all of that kind of stuff, then you can go back to that information when you write the second time and when you write the third time and when you write your intro or whatever you know what information you’re looking for or what you’re trying to get at instead of starting from scratch every single time.
And I think that is when it feels really defeating – is when you feel just as stuck the first time you write as the 10th time you write because you still don’t know your message or you still don’t know what you have to offer or what makes you different.
So I think that that’s really key is being intentional in not just filling space with words to get a task done, but actually intentionally crafting copy that you can go back to and utilize in the future as you’re writing more.
What to Do Before Writing Your Copy
Jordan: I think what you’ve done really well, I’m gonna sing your praises for a second because I’ve bought your Promptlates and have used them, and I’ve written a ton of landing pages and sales pages. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s so much easier for me to write a landing page for someone else than for myself because we can overthink it and get in our own head.
But when you just sit down on a blank piece and you’re like, “All right, I have to sell this one thing and write this one page” because you know, landing pages or sales pages are really specific to a certain action. But if you don’t have that foundation, What you’re doing and who you’re serving and why – if you’re just starting with that blank sheet every time, it is really hard.
And that’s one thing I actually really loved about your Promptlate process was all the questions that you have to go through before you even start really writing and crafting that you’re answering. Because now that I’ve done the exercises, when I launch a new podcast or change my offer a bit, the foundation and the core of that message and why I am doing what I’m doing and how it’s gonna help people and serve them, those things stay the same.
Jess: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s why I have such a personal vendetta against a lot of copy templates, because I mean, if you put trash in, you’re gonna get trash out. That’s the thing.
And so a lot of them give you blanks to kind of fill in like Madlib style, but if you don’t know how to access the right information or access what makes you different or adjust the words so that it sounds like you, then it’s not going to get you the result that you want. And so many people go to those templates because they want more sales or they want people to connect with them, but that’s just not going to get them that result if they don’t know the front-loaded information or how to even find that information that they can put into the template to really make it shine.
So I think that’s where a lot of those tools go wrong, and the Promptlates have really been my attempt at getting that right for people so that they can get the result that they actually want out of the copy instead of, again, just like filling space with words. That’s not the point in terms of writing copy for business.
How to Clarify Your Message and Share it Confidently
Jordan: You talk a lot about speaking to your ideal client, and you’ve incorporated your love for iced coffee into your own brand really well. What is one tip you’d have for someone that is trying to infuse their personality into attracting the right people or who may be struggling to speak to their person -maybe they’re trying to speak like everyone else or they’re keeping it really general. What is one tip you’d give them for just how to clarify that message and have more confidence in how they’re sharing it?
Jess: I think there’s kind of two things there. One is how speak to the right person. And two is how do you sound like yourself when you’re speaking to the right person? And I think those are kind of two different things. So I wanna speak to both of them.
I think the first one, how do you speak to the right person, is making sure that you are thinking of one person and you are thinking of a real human, if at all possible, because I think our industry has gotten really bogged down into the ideal client avatar kind of situation, and it’s really easy to imagine and kind of make up a lot of things about a hypothetical person. But if I were to imagine Jordan as my Promptlate ideal client, then I could get a lot more specific about where she lives, about how many kids she has, when she gets to work, about how she doesn’t necessarily have a devoted podcast office or she broke her toe three times or whatever. I think you can get a lot more specific, and then it’s within the specific that you find the universal.
So for example, the not having a devoted podcast office or something like that might relate to the feeling of thinking that you don’t have all the tools that everybody else has or something like that. So you can pull those feelings out of that specificity a lot better than just thinking about an entrepreneur who is overwhelmed and stuck. You know, like that is really hard to get specific if you’re not thinking about one person So that would be my suggestion there.
Finding Your Brand Voice
Jess: And then as far as sounding like yourself, I think we can make it really hard to find our brand voice. But the reality is nobody ever taught us to write like we talk. And so that’s totally valid.
My free video series actually takes you through an exercise to be able to pinpoint your brand voice because you already have one. That’s the thing, like you don’t have to find it. It’s already there for most people. And so I think that that’s something I try to encourage people in that if you’re going out to create a brand voice, you maybe won’t use it anyway. So try to get it as close to how you talk as you can, because that’s gonna be the easiest for you to execute.
Rapid Fire Questions
What is something bringing you joy right now?
Something that’s bringing me joy right now is throwing things away. I’m on like a rampage. I’m just like, “We don’t use this, I’m throwing it away” kind of thing. So I am in one of those like purge stages right now, and I love it.
What’s a favorite book that you’ve read?
Okay. I have two. I have a fiction and non-fiction. So fiction is The People We Keep. It’s like a found family story, which I really love. And I just got to the end of the book and like, felt like I wanted to be with the characters forever.
And then Indistractable is one that I’m reading right now. It’s basically about how to control your attention and lengthen your attention span and I’ve really been loving it. It’s like really practical, but also like tells the research behind attention and all of that kind of stuff.
But he even talks about like how to arrange apps on your phone so that it doesn’t distract you, so I have really been enjoying that because your brain is your source of all things good, like your brain is basically the thing that can unlock your infinite earning potential, I feel like, especially in today’s marketplace, and I could go on about that forever, but so many of us are just letting our brains deteriorate by not cultivating our attention, and that is hurting our lives and our businesses more than we know.
What is a verse you’re meditating on or that’s really been encouraging you personally?
My favorite verse has always been Esther 4:14, which I feel like is a popular one, but it says, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.”
And I feel like what a lot of people focus on in that verse, the “who knows if you’ve not come to the kingdom for such time as this” which I love that part too. But I think the cool thing at the beginning of this verse is basically like God’s saying, if you don’t do it, somebody else will, but you’re gonna miss out on the abundance if that’s the case. Like I think a lot of times our industry, our culture is like, “if you don’t do it, then so many people are gonna miss out on like how you can help them.” And yes, sure, maybe, but somebody else might fill that hole for them.
But I think the important part is that there is abundance that God has for us within this calling, within these businesses, within this life that we’re running. And if we don’t step up to the plate, then we’re not just gonna miss out on serving other people, but we’re gonna miss out on the abundance too.
And so I really love that kind of spin on things in terms of mindset.
Where can everyone find you?
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of the Work and Worship podcast. I pray you leave encouraged and empowered to run the race that God has for you. And if you enjoyed our conversation today, go ahead and click that subscribe button so you are the first to know when each new episode drops every single week!
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