Ep.21 – Marketing for Freelancers, Solopreneurs, and Going Old School with Gary Lewis

In this episode I had the pleasure of catching up with Gary Lewis, also known as Gary Does Copy, an established freelance copywriter who in his own words is a “creative generalist”. But when he has to niche down, he’ll say fintech.

This chat goes into detail about the realities of marketing yourself as a freelancer or solopreneur, the challenges of being the only “face” of the business, what works on social media for solo and small teams, and why content really IS king. LinkedIn, Twitter, creativity, and adding some personality are all themes we come back to in this conversation. Because they are incredibly valuable tools, especially for solo business owners.

Hope you enjoy the episode. Remember to rate and review, and share this with a friend who needs an extra boost in their digital marketing. 

Transcript

Introduction [00:00:02] Welcome to the All About Digital Marketing podcast. The show all about digital marketing, digital marketing, digital marketing, digital marketing brought to you by Social INK, the digital marketing agency specialising in social media and content marketing for brave brands and forward-thinking SMEs. I’m your host, Chris Bruno, and as always, we’re here to bring you the most actionable tips, tricks, tools and insights to help you achieve more when it comes to your digital marketing. Subscribe to the show and be sure to share with a friend if you found something useful or interesting. You can find all the show notes and more information on www.AllAboutDigitalMarketing.co.uk

Chris Bruno [00:00:54] Gary Lewis, thank you very much for joining us.

Gary Lewis [00:00:56] Thank you, Chris. Thank you for the invite. Much appreciated.

Chris Bruno [00:00:59] Well, we’ve met a couple of times now. We’ve spoken previously in the past as well. But I’m glad to have you here and so that we can talk a little bit about freelancers. But before we get into that, can you give a little bit of an introduction as to who you are and what you do?

Gary Lewis [00:01:13] Yeah. I’m Gary Lewis. You may know me as @GaryDoesCopy on Twitter. I use that on LinkedIn as well. I’m a freelance copywriter. If I have to go down the niche route, I’d have to say B2B and tech. Although whether you agree or not, I am a generalist. I think I’m a creative copywriter as well. In terms of getting bookings and stuff, crews want to know what you’ve been doing recently and it always kind of slots into a nice category.

Chris Bruno [00:01:48] I like them that they need to niche down. It seems to be a very big focus for a lot of people these days.

Gary Lewis [00:01:58] It is. I’ve kind of made my peace with it because it’s my bread and butter. But I think that if you’ve got the skills set, i.e. Writing and some knowledge of marketing or advertising or a variety of sectors and the experience reflects that, then other people should be open to it as well. But, you know, everyone’s got to do their job. And it makes it easier to put you in a box, then so be it. But I don’t think it’s necessarily damaging my prospects. So emotionally, I’m a generalist copywriter and I enjoy creating visuals to go with cpy. Great spec ads by One Minute Briefs. But yeah, as I say, my niche, is probably fintech, which I’ve grown to love.

Chris Bruno [00:02:48] I think what made it brief is now becoming the platform that gets the most shout outs on this podcast ever.

Gary Lewis [00:02:57] You can’t help but not.

Chris Bruno [00:02:57] Yeah, well, absolutely. And I think it’s for a good reason as well. It’s a great community. It’s how we met as well. And I think every day I just I’m blown away by a creative bunch of people just doing incredible things. And it’s just it is fantastic in that sense. So if you haven’t checked that out yet, feel free. It’s on Twitter. Just simply look for @OneMinuteBriefs and you’ll probably find Gary and myself here at Social INK all jumping in with whatever that day’s brief would be.

Gary Lewis [00:03:24] You know it’s given me a lot, given me a lot back being part of the community. I won’t turn this into an ad for One Minute Briefs because it’s growing on its own legs anyway.

Gary Lewis [00:03:36] But like you say, we met. I’ve recently been, I’ve had referrals for work as well through some of the quote unquote OMBLEs. So it goes beyond the kinda of creative platform. And it has become a network of sorts, actually, for kind of recognising people’s strengths and bringing people on board. You know, it’s been quite a boon to me.

Chris Bruno [00:04:01] But to be fair, I mean, until Nick sponsors officially the podcast that is we’re going to stop talking about OMB, but at the same time, we are massive fans. And again, we absolutely love the community. So we’re going to carry on supporting it whichever way we can as well. And again, for any freelancers listening to this, definitely check it out. Even if you’re more focussed on long format writing or anything else, it’s a great creative exercise for you to do every day. It’ll help build your portfolio. And again, just like Gary said, it’s a huge network. It’s a really it’s becoming like a family. So it’s well worth checking out. OK that’s enough about OMB and Nick. I’ll send you an invoice if you are listening. But more importantly, Gary, talk to us a little bit about yourself. So as a freelancer, how would you market yourself? What are the things that you’re doing most at the moment?

Gary Lewis [00:04:50] I think most is maybe an overambitious term. I do get in the day work is is hard enough. I’m active on LinkedIn. I don’t post up regularly. Some I’m kind of stealthy in that way. But I know I could be doing more. So what I’ve done is built a network on LinkedIn of recruiters, other copywriters and agencies as well. I always so deep into Twitter. But that’s definitely more conversational. I’ve recently joined the Kingston Chamber of Commerce and I’ve got kind of an action plan going forward as to how I’m going to ingratiate myself in the wider business community. But in terms of actual marketing outputs, it is tough doing it yourself, especially if you’re creative I think. Because you probably just focussed on whatever the job at hand is, especially if you’re freelancing. So I know I could do more and I do have ideas, but it’s finding the time to sit down. But I basically try and maintain a fairly vocal presence on social channels.

Chris Bruno [00:06:06] It’s quite funny actually. I’m not sure why it happens or why we’ve seen more of it through through the freelancer point of view. But I actually think agencies are quite guilty of this as well.

Chris Bruno [00:06:16] We get caught up in the day to day of the client work and we give our all. We give absolutely everything we have. So we’ll be creative, we’ll be fun, we’ll be engaging, we’ll start conversations, we’ll get involved in other conversations. And then when it comes to sort of marketing ourselves and it’s something that we reviewed massively early this year and really sort of changed the way that we were doing. But freelancers and agencies just I feel like we could all be doing more to have more conversations.

Gary Lewis [00:06:40] Definitely agree. I’d agree with the agency aspects as well. I’ve had conversations with some recruiters who may feel kind of restricting in a role in what they can do. I think LinkedIn is more of a social network in terms of just more than just connecting businesses, etc. I think individuals on the definitely putting their best life forward, as it were. Say even people like recruiters are putting out their own voice and content. For you to engage with even if it’s just to kind of get you hooked and through the door. So it’s just about adding a bit of personality. I do have a plan in my head it’s just literally executing it. You know, it’s to tie all together. And it’s also having to find the time. And probably factoring in costs to defer to finding the right agency or the right supporting kind of partner in those endeavours because we can’t do it all ourselves, Chris.

Chris Bruno [00:07:43] Well, this is this is true. And it does become a full time job as well, which has, or can be a very, very big problem. Okay. So talking about the social medias and the different networks and stuff like that. What’s your favourite network and why?

Gary Lewis [00:07:59] I like, actutally I really like LinkedIn. It’s a strange one that I’ve seen it kind of… My career has grown in parallel with the way LinkedIn has grown. So I think it was quite dry and corporate. Five years ago, five, six years ago, when I started copywriting. And as I said there’s depth and personality on there. There’s definitely more kind of conversational – it’s still quite, quite celebratory as well on an individual level as well, or agencies or businesses or campaigns. I think it’s quite a nice route to getting where you want to be. And now there’s one kind of branch that I look out for which is having a safe search and say freelance copywriter. And it sometimes fastest fingers first but if you are joining in those conversations more and making the right connections and you’ll get to the top of the pile quicker, even if there are 28 people behind you, saying me me me and putting their hands up for the same role. So it’s a really good way of starting coversations, nurturing them and just basically going from cold to warm to hot eventually. And there’s a lot of great content on there as well.

Chris Bruno [00:09:17] I think the interesting thing that you added there was eventually with so many people have not quite got the hang of yet. And especially I find this on LinkedIn. So I was talking with, on the podcast a couple of episodes ago with Xenia from, the CEO Planable. And she was talking about it as well. And then the same with us. Both of us had an absolute pet hate for people who connect with us on LinkedIn and then literally within minutes we get the pitch. And even worse than that are the people that send the pitch in the connection request, which just doesn’t work. You know, we wanted to think, well, we want to know you like we know people. And that’s why I think that eventually you added that, you know, you take people from being a cold lead and you nurture that into becoming a warm lead and then they become a hot or even better if you’re, if you’re having these interesting conversations and you’re constantly showing up those touch points, I think that’s far more important for either freelancer or a business owner to have. So that the day that they do think I need someone to help me with copy, they don’t then think, who do I know? Who don’t I know? Well, who should I put this to? Anything else? They automatically go, Yeah, Gary does copy. In fact, that’s exactly why the name is so good. But that kind of building that relationship is something that so many people have just completely forgotten about. They think you can connect with either a cold email where you’re pitching me something or a cold message on LinkedIn and that I’m gonna go, thank you so much for messaging me. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know what I would have done today in terms of link building, cryptocurrency investing or whatever other crap it is that you’re selling today.

Gary Lewis [00:10:50] Exactly. I mean, I’ve had some random connects as well. The kind of message equivalent of when you get one of those robo calls for accident claim lines. They’re so clever now and finesse that you say hello. And then it starts to spill. Where you connect with someone and then there may be a paragraph of a human somewhere in your message.

Gary Lewis [00:11:24] And then they just launch into, like you say, a pitch where it’s a job role that has absolutely nothing to do with you. If they’d looked at your profile, they know you’re not going to be fit. Or, just spamming you with something like come to this event again. That doesn’t really fit on your radar. But yeah, I get it. I suppose that it’s just a kind of digital version of the sales world or the traditional old sales model, just all those kind of cold leads. But you’re right. The tools are there and there’s enough advice out there as well. There’s a thousand top five lists on how to win at LinkedIn. It really is quite obvious and shame on anyone who isn’t doing it properly.

Chris Bruno [00:12:08] Yeah, so the old traditional routes – and I can always remember this, it stuck with me so much back in these days, but it was about 15, 16 years ago. I went for a job with Honda here in the UK to be involved in the B2B sales department. Leasing for cars, vehicles, commercial, whatever. And the guy who was interviewing me said to me as, what’s your biggest tool or what’s the best tool in your tool kit when it comes to this job? And you know, I’m sort of on the spot fairly young back then 15 years ago and basically kind of sat there thinking to myself, right. What’s my best tool? This is a proper trick interview question. So I ended up going down the route of, you know, my ability to build relationships with people and start talking and having conversations, you know, to nurture that. Exactly what we’ve always talked about. The principle of you go from a cold lead to warm to a hot lead.

Chris Bruno [00:12:59] And he turned around and said to me, no, no, that’s not the best tool in your toolkit. The best tool in your toolkit is the Yellow Pages.

Chris Bruno [00:13:06] And literally, my face, my heart, everything dropped. I didn’t end up taking that job. I was offered it, which was great. But I didn’t end up taking that job. And about a year and a half later, two years later, I think I actually started the agency whenever it was eleven years ago. And literally, I remember that conversation and just feeling so disheartened that that is honestly what a sales director would feel would be the best way of doing this, is picking up your yellow pages and just calling people out of the blue to try and flog them something.

Gary Lewis [00:13:35] Well, I mean, going back to was saying how I market myself or rather what I’m about to do, which is put some content out and kind of connect with the right people from my local Chamber of Commerce. They’ve got a directory. I could have taken that Yellow Pages approach. I could but I actually spoke to the director, I had a good chat with him and he said, take the time to create something that shows off the brand, exactly what you do in a creative way. So when you do have that conversation, you’re not just pointing straight up and you can let them know and you can be selective about how and when you talk to people. So it’s about identifying your audience as well, rather than a kind of scattergun approach.

Chris Bruno [00:14:21] Yeah, and I couldn’t agree more with that. The thing is, we all talk about it on social media a lot. But, you know, adding value, giving value to your audience, having a reason why somebody should read, listen, whatever it might be.

Chris Bruno [00:14:33] And it’s a message that gets repeated 100 times a day by all sorts of people all over. But it’s something that we often forget when it comes to just basic social conduct. I did a talk for WeWork Labs recently for a few start ups and basically we were having a conversation of putting the social back into social media. And one of the examples is, you know, you want to start dating someone. You don’t start by saying to them, let’s get married and buy a house and have a couple of kids and get a dog named Spot. You start by actually saying hi. Tell me a little bit about you. What do you do? What do you like to do? Or you write, but what are you sort of doing? You build up this relationship and the same thing is true, whether it be online or offline. And it’s something that really has been lost a little bit by both, I wouldn’t just say freelancers, but small businesses, even some big businesses where they forget that actually social media gives us this huge platform, a huge amount of people to potentially connect with and the ability to have a conversation with all these people. And it’s something that’s really, really getting lost I’d say with people pushing out offers. People trying to spam your LinkedIn inbox by saying, yep, you know, you can buy this now, today or whatever it might be. I think that’s a shame. I think the conversation and again, getting to know your audience is part and parcel of any good relationship, especially when it comes to business and when you’re asking people to hand over money.

Gary Lewis [00:15:50] Absolutely agree.

Gary Lewis [00:15:53] I think the pressures of social for any kind of business, small or large, is. And you can confirm or deny this, is the kind of pressure to put out content. And I think unless you point out the right content, A) you can damage your brand. B) you’re probably not gonna reach the right people. And it’s not the right message either. So the potential is there to reach a lot of people at once. But again, you have to be selective and nurture a relationship. The pressure there is. I’ve felt it from brands or the agencies or businesses that use me. And it’s, you know, quote unquote, the churn. So well I want to do my best work for you. But if you’re looking to dilute it because you need to get another blog out next week and a week after that. And it’s not quality enough. Well, nothing’s really gonna land.

Chris Bruno [00:16:52] Absolutely. And something that, you know, we talked to businesses on a daily basis. I remember one meeting. I think I’ve referred to this before on the podcast, but literally having a conversation with a company, turning over some serious money. We’re talking in the millions and me asking them about their social media, having looked at it, done a bit of research, understanding that is not working the way they wanted it to. It’s not getting picked up the way they wanted it to. So we had this conversation and I said, well, OK. So, you know, you’re paying somebody to do this for you currently and they’re like that. Yep. I said, okay, great. How well are you doing? And they said, well, what do you mean? And I said, well, you know, what was the goal in the first place and how close are you to achieving that goal? And literally, the phone call just went deadly quiet. And you might hear that kind of penny drop moment going holy ****. And I swear I’m trying not to swear on the podcast, but these people suddenly realize that, you know, the churn. And for content creators, it can be hard because sometimes, yes, we do need to keep going through a quiet patch or whatever might be happening. But the honest truth is there’s businesses out there churning out stuff, social media, inverted commas because they think they need to, but they don’t realize that it’s actually a tool that can be used to achieve goals. I.E., You know, getting people signing up to your email list, whether that be starting conversations, whether that be getting feedback on an app or a product. Whatever it might be. But all of those things are huge. I think that the secondary part, which I wanted to pick up on what you said there, you know, not a creating quality content means that it’s one and done kind of system. So you create a blog, you push it out and you forget all about it. A good blog piece should be being referred to and should be linked back to and should be posted out on social media not once, but five, 10, 15, 20, 100 times. For example, if it’s good valuable content that people will want to read. And that’s really important. Churning for the sake of churning equals zero results and probably a load of money spent for no reason. Whereas actually creating something that’s worthwhile with a good lifeline and a good lifetime sort of value to people that need to use it.

Gary Lewis [00:19:07] Yeah. In terms of turn it, it’s hard to create what, I suppose many people call “thumb stopping content” and that takes a lot of kind of creative effort and ingenuity to make it pop or whatever you want to call it or do. But it does have to be regular and it does have to engage. I don’t think there’s any kind of, but there’s no excuse for anyone who is putting content out at any level. Not to be able to follow it up with even the basics kind of analytical tools, because kind of getting those data insights, even if it’s just kind of performance metrics on your posts, to get them vanity metrics like your likes and retweets. So obviously that helps reach.

Gary Lewis [00:19:52] You really want to dig down into it and then it helps you reshape future efforts. And I think a lot people aren’t doing it. They even know, like we say, all the tools are there for anyone to create content. Measure it and then adapt it. And then rework their strategy, depending on how well it works or what they need to do to get people into that funnel.

Chris Bruno [00:20:16] Absolutely. And like you mentioned, you know, we don’t really care about the vanity metrics, but knowing and understanding what sort of content your audience resonates with, the content they like and what sort of content they share more than anyone else or anything else. That’s valuable insight. I’m not saying all your effort should be directly linked to your previous experience or your previous stats. But it’s a great starting point to really get a feel for and understand what it is that you should be focussing on, what it is that you should be creating.

Gary Lewis [00:20:46] Definitely. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of targeted ads on Facebook, but they do serve its purpose when they’re done well. I mean, I’m a sucker for a sale, you know, clothes sales, stuff like that. You got a nice little carousel, you’ll hook me in. But yesterday, the wife and I were looking for a new car and we did some research online. And within five minutes of doing searches, on Facebook we were targeted it with car apps, car finding app content. And one actually stood out quite well. So I’m gonna go back to that website. So when it’s done well and it’s not intrusive, then yes, it’s definitely a good part of your tool kit. It’s only it really is quite obvious who’s putting the effort in and who isn’t.

Chris Bruno [00:21:42] I’d agree with that. And I think that’s something whereby especially for small businesses, start-ups and new apps and everything else, when something actually stands out to us and we’re probably a really bad example for the audience. In reality, anyone working even slightly within creative arts or anything like the marketing tech. When you look at it, we start analyzing and really look at you sort of know, well, you can’t help it and it’s exactly that. We do it because we’re interested in it. And then you kind of analyze it a little bit as to why they do so well with the demographics, why would you go down that route, wow that’s awful.

Chris Bruno [00:22:22] But the thing is critically not necessarily knowing or seeing the results of that, we can’t really dictate whether it’s a great idea or a terrible idea. Sometimes we’re proven wrong on sort of epic scales and the worst possible thing actually does the best or the thing that we thought would be worse actually was better than others. But the thing that’s interesting is, like you said, it’s standing out. And this is where, you know, freelancers and this new lifestyle style choice of business or work wise. You know, I don’t want to be a corporate drone. I never have. I started my own agency. Since 2017 now – sorry end of 2016 we’ve been completely decentralised and we have offices. Everybody works from home or coffee shops or wherever they want to. And actually, you know, there’s a huge talent pool out there that’s available to businesses big and small. And, you know, whether you go to the higher end of freelancers or creatives, for example, or even if you’re just looking for some help getting started and you’re using platforms like Freelancer. But you can actually find people with an actual skill set and help you with one particular part of what it is you’re doing. I mean, that’s a huge opportunity, which probably actually not enough businesses take advantage of. Would you agree with that?

Gary Lewis [00:23:42] Yes. I don’t know if it’s sticking to, like you say, those traditional models. You have to be seen to be on site, to be productive.

Gary Lewis [00:23:55] I mean, from what I’ve worked hard at, like I said on LinkedIn, building those connections and building kind of work right around it, it’s more people who live their life or business online who know how to navigate it. But definitely I mean, there’s a couple of initiatives if you want to call them groups that I’ve joined and just because I like their motto. Future Strategy Club and the Hoxby Collective in particular. I’ve you know, I’ve got in with those guys. I’m not actually worked with them yet. That’s my fault. But their motto is basically, irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, disability, etc. They have a pool of talent globally that they can pull together for any size client, i.e., international or global brand to build a team and actually work remotely and to get the job done. I mean, bricks and mortar are just I don’t know. It’s nice to walk into a nice office. I understand if you’re a client, you want to get that kind of context of this is where they live, i.e., home. But realistically, if it boils down to the work that gets done, like you say, that can be done anywhere. And there is there are many freelance platforms where you can find the right people. You’ve got the bottom of the barrel like Fiverr, which I think every freelancers probably at least registered it on or dabbled with some point, all the way up to like I say, new initiatives like Hoxby.

Chris Bruno [00:25:36] Yeah, and I think that’s it’s a huge opportunity. I think this brings me onto an interesting topic, or at least for me it is anyway. I always find this interesting. For small businesses and I include freelancers, solopreneurs, anything like that where people think top it.

Chris Bruno [00:25:52] I feel that there is a little bit of fear in terms of putting yourself out there and other people have said the same thing. Some people don’t want to need a champion of their own business or, you know, especially when you’re a solopreneur. You’re a small business. There is only really you when you first start and you have to kind of become the champion. And I feel like that the fear element is what usually stops people. I’d like your opinion on this and especially for freelancers as well. You know, if you’re doing this and it’s all about you getting yourself out there as much as possible is surely a huge benefit to you and to the business and to what you’re trying to do.

Gary Lewis [00:26:29] You’re absolutely right. I think it’ll be easy to say that you have to be a certain kind of person or person that has a certain personality to be a freelancer. But the bottom line is you do need a bit more thick skin, especially if you’re a solopreneur or it’s just, you, know, like may – or if you’re a designer, freelance designer. Any other creative that’s just working on their own. You have to have a thick skin and a degree of resilience. Definitely, because no one else is fighting your corner. So it is trying to tie all those things together. Marketing yourself and being in kind of copyright groups on Facebook as well, you see a lot of people ask the same questions or they get stuck on. I’m great at marketing other people, but it really sucks trying to write about myself. And it is true, it is difficult. But you know, you can be objective and stand back. Not everyone has that problem, but it is a challenge for a lot of people.

Gary Lewis [00:27:31] So it’s trying to wear all the hats at once, and there’s fear of rejection, definitely fear of failing. And there’s fear of being lost as well. Not knowing what to do or what the right thing is. People can people give up their careers because they haven’t succeeded at it or they just didn’t maybe approach it the right way.

Chris Bruno [00:27:53] Like I was gonna just pick up on that thick skin thing. And I think it’s. It’s not just true for the business side. It’s not just true for selling or marketing yourself or anything else. But I think that’s pretty much the key to everything. You know, because we talk when we talk with businesses and we all say things like, for example, videos, videos are a great opportunity. If you’re not currently using them, then you’re missing out on something that’s absolutely huge right now. And people say, OK, I know we’ve tried video. It didn’t work for us. And I’ll say, great. Okay. Well, how many videos did you create and what did you do with them and how did you try? And they’ll say, well, we created one video or two videos and they didn’t work. So we stopped doing it. And I’ll sit there and be thinking to myself, you know, wow, that’s basically like the door to door salesman saying, I did the first couple of houses and I gave up because this is awful and no one wants to buy. Of course they didn’t. You know, it’s the same for sales, it’s the same for marketing, but it’s also the same whether you’re dating, whether you want to become part of a football team or whatever it would be. You know, there’s that, there’s an element of you have to test. You have to try. You have to keep trying. And then eventually you hopefully get what you want or what you were hoping to get out of it or you get something else or keep you next time. But I think that’s something that’s quite strange.

Chris Bruno [00:29:06] And I think, again, I agree with you completely.

Chris Bruno [00:29:09] Sometimes it’s hard to talk about ourselves or to write about ourselves. We’ve just been in the process of redoing all the team bios and stuff like that. So, you know, we’re all kind of helping to write each other so that that way, you know, you don’t get that element. But I also think that today’s lifestyle and especially with social media and online, there’s a hundred ways to do it. You know, you’re not forced to write a blog about yourself or have a long website that just talks and drones on about you and your experiences. You’ve got live video, you know, with an iPhone in your pocket or an Android like yourself. And with that, with the telephone, mobile phone in your pocket, a smartphone. You can connect to Facebook. You can live stream in high definition broadcast quality and talk about yourself or talk about what you’re doing or talk about what you’re working with at the moment. You can use imagery to showcase where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re working with or what sort of clients you’re working with. Portfolio style, you know, don’t focus on you and who you are. Just focus on the work and how well you’ve done it, how it’s helped and case studies and whatever else. And I think this is why we’ve got a huge, what I call like the biggest opportunity in the world right now with all these platforms. Yes. There’s a lot of people out there on data privacy. And one thing that they don’t like, big platforms like Facebook, etc. But ultimately, it’s the biggest tool right now for any small business, any solopreneur or any freelancer to be able to get themselves out there. And it’s completely free of charge. I mean, this is amazing. It’s free.

Gary Lewis [00:30:32] It is true. I do agree. But just dialling back to the past Nancy, for a sec, you know, the very nature of social is that ability to kind of communicate with people, get on with people and people, you know, somebody might be just good at their craft and less good social aspects. And, you know, it may be intimidating. If I was 20 years younger and I’d be all over social. And I know there’s kind of this much on it now that I just kind of glued to my phone, really, and it’s just working out what to do and when and using the time constructively as well, which goes back to kind of having a strategy and not just having, like you say, all the tools. It is disposable, but if you done it randomly, you gonna get snoozed on LinkedIn or Facebook or whatever because your posts are shit. Pardon my French.

Chris Bruno [00:31:25] No, that’s fine. We’ll make sure we have the explicit one for this episode. Now it means I can swear if you have as well.

Gary Lewis [00:31:32] It will be a floodgate, don’t go there.

Chris Bruno [00:31:35] No, but I completely agree. And this is the thing where, you know, we always talk about our strategy and people kind of get stuck in. Well, what if the strategy doesn’t work and you say it doesn’t matter? It’s a starting point. That’s the whole point of it. You know, the strategy document that you write for your business, for your brand, your social media platforms. It’s fluid. It’s going to change. It’s going to adapt. If it doesn’t. Jesus. I mean, can you imagine having the same strategy running for five years when social media is rapidly changing every two minutes?

Gary Lewis [00:32:03] It would be demoralizing if you didn’t see results. And for some inane, insane reasons stuck with it both.

Chris Bruno [00:32:12] So this is something that pains me to say, but way too many businesses are doing that right now. Yeah. And it’s a massive shame because it’s if you fall into the churn, you fall into the “well, we have to post something.” And therefore, you just go from, you know, trying to come up with creative or cool ideas to literally just hammering out 20 percent off today, 20 percent off tomorrow, 20 percent off the next day. And after a while, people really care because I don’t really know anything about you. I don’t know who you guys are. I don’t know anything about them. Products, the production, how it’s made, what you guys are actually about. And I have no relationship with it.

Gary Lewis [00:32:50] Yeah, I think it’s tough for businesses to maybe know themselves. I mean, they know what they’re producing. They know what their products or services are. Actually giving it a voice, a tone of voice or visual identity is as important. So if you haven’t got those kind of things nailed at the first hurdle you’re going to fall over.

Gary Lewis [00:33:15] So if you’ve got a star or something else, you can talk the way everyone else does.

Gary Lewis [00:33:21] It’s gonna save you time and save you money, it’s going to boost productivity, but actually where’s the personality, where’s the brand behind it. And I think that is where any business of any side needs to dig a little deeper now, because like you say, being social, at a business level. I mean, it means giving me your business like I say, a personality that people can connect with. And there are ways to do that.

Chris Bruno [00:33:46] Yeah. And so we had this conversation with a start-up the other day, when we did a presentation at WeWork Labs.

Chris Bruno [00:33:53] And the guy literally asked me, you know, how do you find brand tone guidelines, you know, that voice and everything else. I said, OK, well, let’s take a step back. I said, how many people are in the company currently? And he was like, I got me. I’ve just started. Perfect. Done. You are the brand guidelines. You are the brand voice. You talk the way you would normally talk because it’s going to resonate. If you start making those touch points with people and then you meet with them afterwards, they’re going to feel like it’s the same person that you’re representing the company. That company represents you and the people that are going to come after you sort of thing. And that becomes your tone of voice, your brand guidelines and you do it how you would do it, what feels naturally. And then there’s no effort involved. You know, it’s just a case of, you know, telling your story. And that’s, that’s the joy of social media and online marketing and digital marketing in general. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, pretty much all the mediums are the same, whether you’re a huge brand and you spend millions of pounds on a great video campaign idea that then tanks or whether you’re the one man band, two who literally records a video in your studio at home or in your shop or in your restaurant or whatever it might be. And literally that ends up going viral because people go, this is awesome. Like, I love this guy. I love how he comes across one thing other. And then you take it from there. You know, people often forget that the biggest YouTubers out there, the people getting paid to create content every day and whatever else. They all started by literally sitting at home, shopping together, a rough edit video. And if you look at these things, you’ll see the first videos when they talk about them and they go back. They’re not very good. Like, let’s be honest, but it’s not a problem. It’s all part of a process. And then they get better. They get more comfortable in front of the camera. The same thing be told for our podcasting, even for myself. We’ve done loads of live videos, interview, stuff like that in the past. But when I started doing the podcasting, you know, we had a different format. We would do more sort of question and answers and stuff like that. You learn from what you’re doing and you put it out and you ask a few key people that you trust their opinions and stuff, and you say, what do you think? How do you feel about this? And even I did my own research to go into some of the biggest podcasts I know and I love listening to. And I went all the way back to their first ever episodes and you start listening to them, you go, wow, OK. Right. Yeah. This is definitely gonna be a journey, not just for me, but it has been for them as well. And the same goes for social media or for your marketing.

Gary Lewis [00:36:12] Is funny you mention that actually. Last night I went back and listened to the very first Russell Brand Under the Skin podcast. I’ve dipped in and out before just on the nature of whoever the guest is. I thought, you know, I should to invest time in this because I’m really enjoying it. And listening to the first episode he did. He’s more Russell Brand than he’s now. So I think he’s found what he’s offering, what you know, what his interview style. What he wants to say. He’s still. There’s a bigger stand-up element in that first episode kind of comedy element that kind of weans its way out. So he’s finding himself in that very first episode and it feels a bit raw and unpolished. And it is still him. Still knows what he’s talking about. But it’s it’s yeah, it’s kind of gradual transition, a journey.

Chris Bruno [00:37:08] Ethnic better. Yeah. And I think that’s true for anything we do. You know, I’m sure you’ve met freelancers or small business owners and even bigger business owners. But what somebody will say to you, you know, I can’t write, I can’t do videos, I can’t talk, I can’t be interviewed or whatever it is. And invariably, you know, most people can’t do all these things from day one. And so, you know, accepting the fact that your first blog you write probably isn’t going to become a best selling movie or a book or anything else, and that’s fine. But the actual process of starting thinking of ideas, what you want to talk about, how you want to present your business, whatever it might be, you slowly start building up these habits and you start doing it. And I think that’s true for pretty much everything we do in life. But we seem to forget it online. We think just posting anything or everything is going to suddenly make a difference.

Gary Lewis [00:38:01] Definitely. I mean, I’ve I’ve done a lot of kind of bread and butter web copy refreshes, and they’re there engaging for me because I’m fresh to it. But nine times out of 10 it’s. Well, we’ve had the website for X amount years. We haven’t done anything to it. And the conversation I always have is. That’s fine. I’ll refresh it but a bit of life back into it, get a good brief overview and then we’ll work to whatever outcomes you want.

Gary Lewis [00:38:32] But going beyond that and then it’s almost like the metaphorical eyes glaze over when I start talking about, you know, you’re kind of outbound marketing and what’s the new website going to be hosting and what’s gonna be pumped out from there? What’s the continuation. And, you know, not just that I can do that for you or with you, but I think a lot of SMEs and businesses still see a web site as the shop window. But you don’t want to be stuck in amber where the shop window doesn’t change.

Gary Lewis [00:39:06] You need to keep changing the stock, the look. The film, basically.

Chris Bruno [00:39:12] Absolutely. And so I use the shopfront analogy quite a lot. And the only thing I change slightly about that is I always say when you first start your website, your shop window is down a tiny little alleyway hidden away past, you know, a dark forest and whatever else.

Chris Bruno [00:39:30] And it’s going to take a while to get people there. But as you start to build and as your brand builds and as you have an audience and you have a community and everything else that goes around it, then you end up like you just said, you have this beautiful big shop window on Oxford Street. And if we’ve learned anything from shops and from anything that we see every day we go out. It’s constantly being refreshed. And I think the page that I found the most obvious that we should keep up to date. And it’s actually the one that 95 percent of companies really don’t, is actually “About Us”.

Gary Lewis [00:40:02] Yeah.

Chris Bruno [00:40:02] Who are you? Because when you wrote it five years ago, you’re not the same as you are today. I guess it’s impossible. You know, things change, things develop. There are not changes, your niche changes, whatever it might be. But this whole thing develops and we kind of forget about it. We think that it’s kind of one and done didn’t build my website. Now I just sit back and wait for people to to start buying or to send me loads of emails requesting my services and my work. And you have to try and kind of remind people that’s not the way it works. And there is no magic button to turn on the floodgates.

Gary Lewis [00:40:34] No, turn them into, a kind of B2B term. It’s building an ecosystem.

Chris Bruno [00:40:46] We haven’t had ecosystems said on this podcast for ages. I don’t think.

Gary Lewis [00:40:49] I say it didn’t sincerely for its meaning, but for the word itself, I’d just choose something a bit simpler. But I get what they say. Basically, your web site and all your marketing efforts on social bottom line below line all need to join up. And that’s that’s what I understand by ecosystem is everything fits together, including the people in your business as well. You know, if you’re a big business, not 50 or 50 more, your employees can be brand advocates. So it’s not just down to your marketing push. You know that that’s a point of social. Is that your employees, if they’re living your brand’s dream, then they can be part of your output as well quite easily.

Chris Bruno [00:41:38] That’s something that we tell businesses again and again when we work with them. And if your team doesn’t buy into what we’re doing and to what we’re pushing out there, why would anybody else?

Chris Bruno [00:41:51] And it’s amazing to see how many people are, you know, employed to a company. For example, they’re on LinkedIn. They’re sharing content, they’re pushing stuff out. They’re involved in conversations. And yet literally some companies that we’ve worked with, their team members don’t even follow their own company. Like who they’re working for to keep up to date with what’s going on or they don’t share out that content. And when you’re a smaller business, it’s even more important. And so, you know, with only a few employees, you are the advocates, you are the people who are there. And for solopreneurs, you know, obviously the same thing again. Use your own personal networks. Use your own personal profiles to push the company agenda, the company and focus, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Number one and two. If you’re not willing to promote yourself, why should anybody else there?

Gary Lewis [00:42:43] I mean, go right back to the beginning when you introduced, we introduced each other. You know, I can tell you that what you guys are doing is exactly that. And having met you in real life as well. Met the whole team. Is that you. You’re doing it really well, actually. And I think the word you used was decentralised. And that’s that’s an even bigger kind of plus to take the people to help people say, look, we’re doing it. This is how we’re doing it. People are engaging with us and these are the routes to it that would work for you.

Chris Bruno [00:43:22] Again, it’s for me, it’s one of the biggest things that we try and get across to everyone. If you’re going to talk the talk, you should walk the walk. So you know.

Gary Lewis [00:43:32] You’re definitely doing that Chris.

Chris Bruno [00:43:33] Thank you very much. And I’m sure the guys will be happy to hear that as well. But it is the idea, even for whether you’re a freelancer, whether you are solopreneur, whatever it might be.

Chris Bruno [00:43:42] But especially if you’re in creative or marketing kind of aspects or careers, you know, telling somebody else that they should blog three times a week because it’s good for SEO, because it’s good for them, because it’s good for your audience, because it’s good for whatever reason. And then literally having not updated your own website, for example, for a year.

Gary Lewis [00:44:00] Ohoho guilty.

Chris Bruno [00:44:02] Yeah, but I mean, to be fair, though, again, it’s I think from an agency point of view, it’s even more foul play kind of thing because of the fact that it’s literally your bread and butter.

Chris Bruno [00:44:11] That’s what you’re charging other people for. That’s what you do honestly believe is the game and the way they should be played.

[00:44:17] And content, content, content. You know, everyone always talks about this as content is king. We believe it’s great content is king. Because that’s a really important aspect. It’s got to be good. It’s got to be of value to somebody out there. And again, you know, practice what you preach. There’s no point in sitting there saying, yes, I know exactly what we should do for you. And then actually, from your own point of view, you go. I’m not going to bother doing any of those things. And it’s something that I think freelancers can struggle with from what we’ve had these conversations from. And I think it’s mainly because it’s almost daunting, if that makes sense, to to kind of look at this huge spectrum of all the things that you should necessarily be doing. And then actually, in reality, you know, the honest truth is, if you’re just active as part of a community like you are, Gary, with One Minute Briefs guys again. And that’s just that’s another invoice to Nick. By the way. Every time I mention it, I’m going to start tallying it up. But it’s true, though, because, again, it does give you access to this community. You are there and you do show up on a regular basis. You do know the other people. You do get involved in the networking events that go round and all of that even in its own right. It’s a huge step towards getting yourself out there, getting known, to having a good portfolio when people ask you for it. And when you connect with people, you can say to them, you know, this is the sort of stuff that I do. And I think that’s so important.

Gary Lewis [00:45:37] Yeah, you’re actually right. I mean, the referrals I’ve had through networking at different events. Because I’ve got quite regularly a is, going cold, warm, hot. But also just kind of meeting people, having conversations and there’s instances where you you may be kind of casually pitching yourself, but it turns out the way you meet someone else and then you refer them to someone else down the line.

Gary Lewis [00:46:09] Say it’s is going beyond your own kind of products and serves and the more you network, the more people you have in your network that can help you when the time comes. So whether it’s creating awesome video or copywriting or design or something, you know, I could package up a good package of anything with any creative. Just because a network I’ve built like, say, on LinkedIn and Twitter, etc. And meeting people in real life. So I think it’s right. You know, you have to market yourself and that’s a daunting bit. Also, networking. The results of getting out and meeting people is really simply like going back to kind of bartering ages, is helping each other and some. Yeah, it can be a real boost as well.

Chris Bruno [00:46:57] Couldn’t agree more. And one of the big things I’d say about that is, you know, if you never refer anybody else, then don’t expect a huge amount of people to refer people to you all the time.

Chris Bruno [00:47:09] Again, it’s got to be a two way street and the more people know within your network that that’s what you do when you can’t deal with something, when it’s not your speciality and you’re bringing these other people in. One, your client respects you more. And so we’re the first to say that’s not what we do. That’s not what we specialise in. However, we can bring somebody in that can help you with that, automatically gives you a level of trust, stroke, authority within your domain. And the fact that you’re actually honest enough to say, no, we can’t do that. Or, no, it’s not what we specialise in. It’s not going to come out as well as if we brought in, say, a professional videographer or a professional studio or whatever it might be that we can do then to create something that’s that’s gonna be so much better. And I think that’s probably the really important thing as well, you know, not to be afraid because you just want some cash to come in. And I say this for businesses as well as for freelancers. It can be a struggle. You know, you do need to pay the bills at the end of every month. But if you start jumping into things for the sake of just that, “I just need to get something into to pay the bills”. The chances of getting more referrals after that and people talking about you in a very positive way, if you’ve done something that’s I don’t want to say half-assed. But, you know, not to the best of your possible ability because it’s not actually your speciality. It’s actually going to negatively impact the business and what you’re trying to do in the long term.

Gary Lewis [00:48:27] Yeah. That impacts will go further than probably some kind of pull off actions that resonance if something goes wrong. It’s the one time out of 100 times you get something wrong, whatever it is. And that’s what people remember, unfortunately. So yeah, it is good to try and massage those situations. Like well, looks the best way for you. And if that means put your hand up and saying you can’t do it and referring someone else, you probably feel relived and you’re giving someone else a shot at it as well.

Chris Bruno [00:48:59] Absolutely. Gary, listen, this has been awesome. Where can people find you online?

Gary Lewis [00:49:06] Very easy. Twitter is @GaryDoesCopy. LinkIn. It’s, I think it’s Gary Lewis 1973. You’ll see a little kind of cartoony, filtered avatar of me on Linked In, but you’ll see Gary Does Copy on that as well. And defence, my profile. And if you want to message me without spamming me, go ahead. I’m all ears.

Chris Bruno [00:49:32] That’s the key thing, that if you want a message, please feel free to message. Message. Any of our guests, all of them have said this. Just don’t pitch them on round number one of messages, start a conversation. I think all of my guests would appreciate that.

Gary Lewis [00:49:45] Definitely. And I always take it one step further. If they’re in London or I can get to them, then I’d not push. But I’d like to meet for coffee face to face because I send a brief knock out and that’s fine. Sometimes I never meet my clients. But in all honesty, I find I get a lot more out of it and can dig a bit deeper into whatever’s needed by doing it old school. Face to face. Meeting a person.

Chris Bruno [00:50:13] Love it. Going old school Gary. Listen Gary, thank you very much. We’ll drop your links into the show notes as well. So if you do want to get in touch with Gary or you want to reach out and ask him any questions or try and flog him something on your first message on LinkedIn.

Chris Bruno [00:50:27] As I’m sure somebody will. And then you can find everything on the Web site. Gary, thank you so much again. And I look forward to catching up soon.

Gary Lewis [00:50:36] It’s been an absolute pleasure. Hi to the team and see you online.

Outro [00:50:43] The All About Digital Marketing podcast is brought to you by Social INK. A distributed digital marketing agency specialised in delivering results through online campaigns, whether it’s content marketing, social media, marketing, online advertising or web design.

Outro [00:50:58] We’ve got you covered from strategy through to delivery. If you’re struggling with your digital marketing, get in touch today by simply visiting www.SocialINK.co

Show Notes

  • Generalist vs Niche [00:59]
  • Why marketing is like a marriage [14:33]
  • Getting over the fear of marketing [25:36]
  • How to find your voice as a solopreneur [33:53]
  • Why you need to walk the talk of your services [43:22]

Stuff We Mentioned

Music by Hani Koi from Fugue