It’s the time of the year were small business owners and creators have some extra time to tinker with (or fully redesign) their websites. I’m here with Copywriter Ame Proietti to tell you to skip the new design and focus on the copy instead. We get into what makes good copy, blog posts vs. sales copy, and we finish out with how to write good scripts. As you prepare for 2023, good copy will be at the heart of what you do thanks to Ame’s advice. Plus, in the Pro show, we broke down the sales page Ame wrote for me.
- Where blog posts are meant to share and educate, copywriting is meant to convince people to take an action. Ame calls it “assembling” words and sections in the best way for your target audience
- To get the best copy, you need to talk to customers. Ame recommends interviewing 3 customers and gathering testimonials to learn how you people and the language they use, which you can then mirror in your copy.
- Bringing in someone else can help you get the best results. They are objective and don’t know what you know. They’ll also the right questions and allow you to gain a better understanding of your offer too.
- Ame Proietti
- Ame on Twitter
- Ame on Linkedin
- How To Build a $1000/year Membership with Jay Clouse
- Don’t Make Me Think
- Join Creator Crew
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Joe Casabona: It’s that time of year where small business owners and creators like us have some extra time on our hands to tinker with or in some cases fully redesign our websites. Well, I’m here today with a copywriter Ame Proietti to tell you to skip the shiny new design and to focus on copy instead.
We get into what makes good copy, what is a blog post copy versus sales copy, and we finish out with how to write good scripts. I can’t vouch for Ame enough. She is the copywriter I hired to redo Podcast Liftoff. Again, that was not a design change, that was just changing the copy. And it has been very positive for me so far.
As you prepare for 2023, good copy will be at the heart of what you do, thanks to Ame’s advice. Plus, in the Pro show, we break down the sales page Ame wrote for me.
As you listen, I want you to look for these things. What are blog posts, what are they meant to do versus what copywriting is meant to do,—Ame mentions assembling, and I really liked that analogy—how to get the best copy and testimonials, and why it might be a good idea to bring in somebody else.
This is such a great episode. I’m really excited for you to hear it. I think it’s a great way to end out Season 11 and the 2022 How I Built It year. It’s been a great year. I’ll do a recap in December, but this is the last interview for 2022. So enjoy it.
Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast where you get free coaching calls from successful creators. Each week, you get actionable advice on how you can build a better content business to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.
Joe Casabona: All right, I am here with Ame Proietti. She is a copywriter, she’s my copywriter. And I’m really excited because we’re getting into the end of the year. If you’re anything like me, you like to redo your website because client work slows down, you don’t feel like starting new projects and you want to feel productive by redesigning your website. But don’t do that.
Instead, as Ame and I are going to talk about, especially Ame because she’s great, we’re going to talk about what you should do instead. So let’s bring in Ame How are you today?
Ame Proietti: I’m fantastic, Joe. How are you?
Joe Casabona: I am doing very well. As we talked about in the pre-show as we record this, I’m back from a 10-day trip in Disney World with my three small children. So I am recovering just in time for breaking the time-space continuum just in time for Thanksgiving. So I’m here to work for three days and then gonna take a few more days off. Really exciting stuff.
So Ame and I got connected through Jay Clouse. I’ll link to Jay Clouse’s episode in the show notes which you can find over at howibuilt.it/295. We’re both in his Creator Science Lab. And Ame, I feel like that has been a really good investment for you. Not that we have to talk about real money because I don’t like to do that without prepping the person. But I feel like I am one of several clients you’ve gotten from the community. Is that accurate?
Ame Proietti: You are one of two that I’ve gotten from the community. But I have gotten I would say a lot more exposure. I think a lot of people became aware of who I am because I joined the group. And doing all the feedback videos that I have been doing gave me the idea to maybe start offering copy critiques or audits as a service. So that’s actually something I’m working on building my own landing page for right now.
Joe Casabona: Very nice. That’s really what I want to talk about today because I hired Ame to redo these three pages on Podcast Liftoff. As you know, if you’ve been listening for a while I’ve gone all in on that. I’m a good writer. I mean, I’ve written like several books. So at least some people think I’m a good writer. I’m a bad copywriter. And so maybe we can start there, Ame. What’s the difference between writing a blog post and writing web page copy?
Ame Proietti: There’s so many things that are different. I think the purpose is the main difference. Because when you’re writing a blog post, for example, the whole point of that is to share some information, educate your audience, and also kind of bring them into your sphere. Because most people when they find your blog post is through SEO. So they land on your website, they’re like, “Okay.” That’s first exposure.
Your website, the purpose is generally to sell something. Either you’re trying to get people to opt-in for your newsletter or you’re trying to get them to buy something from you. So the purpose of it is the main difference. And then because of that, the way that you write both pieces are going to be very different.
I would say blog writing is much more actual writing, whereas copywriting is more assembling. Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers said it best. Copywriting isn’t really writing. It’s more like assembling words in a way that people want to hear.
Joe Casabona: I love that. Because this is my exact problem, is that I’m really good at sharing, educating. That’s like my whole shtick. But when it comes to copywriting, I don’t feel like I assemble things in the right order, because I’m very matter of fact, “Oh, there’s this course, you will learn how to make a podcast with that course. You will also learn how to make money. Would you like to buy that course? I don’t assemble things in the right way to drive them to buy the course.
Ame Proietti: The assembly, there are different formats that people can follow that do tend to work. But the biggest thing is really the research side of what you’re doing, because you have to go in and you really have to learn what your audience is saying and then take that and mirror it back to them. And that’s what makes good copy.
Joe Casabona: This is, again, another hard-fought lesson for me, right? Because, again, when you are writing that blog post or video or whatever, you’re educating, so you’re telling people the words they should know. You’re not using their language, you’re telling them the language they should use. But when you’re writing sales copy, you want to solve their problem. And so you need to come to their level. You need to be like, “Hey, I see you. And I understand you and I can help you.”
Ame Proietti: Absolutely. Yeah, you have to know their level of awareness. Like are they problem-aware, solution-aware, something else? And then you meet them where they’re at in your structure. And then what you’re really doing is creating almost like a guided story or experience for them on the page. And then if it’s done right, they will take whatever action you want them to, whether that’s opting in for your newsletter, or buying one of your products, or at least checking out one of those products.
Joe Casabona: Awesome. So let’s talk about how we do this. Because I think, first of all, I come from the web development background and I think a lot of web developers will tell you the number one problem they have with their clients is getting content from them. Maybe it’s like designers will say like, “Oh, everybody always tells me to make it pop or whatever.” But for most web developers, it’s getting the content from their client.
When it comes to making our own websites. I know I would just kind of sit in the WordPress editor. Dawned at me that’s the worst place to write. Sorry, WordPress people. It’s a terrible place to write. Or like a Google Doc or whatever. And I’ll just start kind of writing the things I want to say.
What is your process for writing website or writing copy? Let’s abstract away the website. Maybe you’re doing it for like a YouTube channel or whatever, the description, whatever. What’s your process for writing that copy?
Ame Proietti: There’s a lot of writing absolute garbage, taking a walk, having an existential crisis, writing some more nonsense, and then kind of repeating that process until I have a good first draft. But to get that first draft, I usually will go do some customer research. I like to interview at least three customers for a product or service to really like hear what they’re saying about it, what their experience was, because again, that’s the picture we’re trying to create for them.
You know, I’ll sift through a ton of testimonials as well. Testimonials are like an absolute treasure trove. So I’ll sift through those, and then I take that information, put it onto a Google Doc, and basically just spend an hour to three hours writing nonsense and then going for walks, having the existential crises, and then editing it into something that’s actually viable for first draft. And then I let the draft sit overnight, always overnight, and then I come back to it in the morning and edit ruthlessly.
Joe Casabona: I like that a lot. I’m very much a like ship the first draft person, which my book editor probably hated, because he’d always send me back like this Word doc with a thousand comments. But by the time I’m done writing that first draft, again, for a technical book, I’m just really sick of looking at everything and I’m like, “I’m not gonna do any justice.” But let it sit for a while and come back to it.
But the crucial part here, interview at least three customers to hear what they’re saying about it and sift through testimonials. When I started to focus Podcast Liftoff on making money podcasting, my whole thing was, do it without sponsors. You can make money podcasting without sponsors.
Then the number one question I got from potential customers and actual customers and students and people were, “Yeah, but how do I get sponsors?” And I was like, “Okay, well, I guess this was a mismatch. People want to know how to get sponsors. I’ll show them that. And then I’ll show them the other ways too, so bring them in.”
As far as testimonials go, I assume that this is going to be like a softball for you, will people just give you testimonials apropos of nothing?
Ame Proietti: Well, usually, if I’m writing like a landing page or a sales copy for a client or something, they have their testimonials on their website already. So if they don’t have them, I’ll ask them for some, or I’ll ask them if they know three of their customers who want to be interviewed.
And then I like to conduct the interview myself so I can actually hear what people are saying. And I’m looking for patterns. So words that they’re saying that are similar, similar problems, similar ideas, things like that. And then that’s what I take and put into my copy. So that way I’m showing them the experience that they’re looking for.
They’re saying, “Hey, I have a problem.” “All right, I’m listening.” “Here’s the problem.” And then they can come and read it and go, “Oh, yeah, that’s my problem. You get me.”
Joe Casabona: Nice. I like that a lot. What if I, your client, or I the person listening, what if I don’t have testimonials? Do I just ask? Are people gonna say no? Am I gonna ask somebody and they’re gonna say no? What if it’s a bad testimonial? A lot of people are kinda afraid to ask for that. Right? They think, “Oh, if they want to give me a testimonial, they’ll give me one.”
Ame Proietti: One thing, I guess, I’ve cultivated being a copywriter and trying to do it freelance as well is you have to put your pride aside sometimes and just do things shamelessly. So asking for testimonials, cold pitching people, like, “Hey, do you want to hire me?” And things like that. It needs to be done and then you just ask for it.
I haven’t had anyone who didn’t either have testimonials or have customers that they would let me interview. So I haven’t experienced that problem yet. But if someone doesn’t have testimonials, that’s okay. Because if they have active customers, they can ask them and say, “Hey, can I interview you?”
Or if they really don’t have anything, you can go and look at competitors, testimonials, and any sort of like copy that they have. Because if they have a similar target audience as you, they hopefully did their research. And you can look at that and then try to find the gap for your own copy.
Joe Casabona: That’s a really great point. And it’s always like a red flag to me when someone’s like, “I don’t have any competitors.” Yes, you do. We all do. Or if nobody in the world is doing the thing that you’re doing, maybe there’s no market for it is the other thing I like to think. But if you say you don’t have competitors, you probably need to do a little bit more research because you do.
Ame Proietti: Right. Yeah, I mean, there’s the concept of like red ocean, blue ocean. Some people are in much more of a red ocean, so they have a lot more competitors. People in blue oceans, maybe only have like a few competitors. So it might be harder to find someone. But if you really like cannot find competitor’s testimonials, customers, you can ask your network, like, Does anyone want whatever you’re offering? Let them try it and then get their feedback.
Ame Proietti: Yeah, absolutely. It’s the concept of like, doing the first one for free. In web design, I would tell people like, “Hey, if you really can’t find a client, somebody who wants to get a website from you, pick a website you like and redesign it and add that to your portfolio.
For me, when I moved into podcast coaching, I grabbed a couple of friends who I knew were doing podcasting. And I said, like, “Hey, do you want a free hour of coaching or consulting?” Because for me, I was getting that testimonial and I was learning more about what people wanted. That’s how I came to the conclusion that, “Oh, people actually want to learn how to get sponsors.” Actually, one of my clients that you interviewed, was that freebie. She became an amazing testimonial for me because I helped her get her first sponsor.
Ame Proietti: If you’re offering it, someone is going to take you up on the offer and they are usually happy to give a testimonial in return.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, for sure. Again, if nobody is taking you up on your free offer, then…
Ame Proietti: Yeah, you might want to rethink your product.
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Joe Casabona: You mentioned red ocean, blue ocean. I’ve never heard that before. Can you unpack that a little bit? I mean, I guess you explained a little bit. But what is that concept?
Ame Proietti: There’s this blue ocean, red ocean concept that was developed. And it’s kind of related to your market. So the red ocean is very saturated. This would be something like fitness where there’s a ton of people, a ton of competitors and they’re all trying to sell a very similar product.
Blue oceans are less saturated. In fact, there’s not much saturation at all. This is usually for like probably Apple was like in a blue ocean when they came up with their products. And knowing what type of ocean you’re in is really helpful for you, in general for your marketing, but also for your copy because it helps you kind of understand where your audience might be in terms of their level of awareness.
You know, people who are trying to compete in a red ocean, there’s a lot of competitors. Your customers might be problem aware, but they’re very likely already aware of what the problem is and they’re just looking for solutions. So you don’t want to spend a ton of time like, “Oh, your problem is this, this, this, and this. They already know. They’re like, “Okay, come on, get on with it. Show me the solutions.”
SAS products, I would say, for example, are very much in a red ocean. That’s why a lot of times instead of leading with problems, because their audience already knows, like, “Yeah, I’ve got a problem,” they lead more with outcome. So this is what you’re gonna get by using this specific product.
Joe Casabona: So that makes sense. Again, if we’re looking at the web design field or the web development field, customers are already aware that they need a website. So you don’t need to send like, “Hey, are you having trouble reaching your potential customers? Have you heard of Google? You need a website?”
Instead, you lead more with like, “Hey, I’m gonna build you this website that’s gonna sell more widgets, or get more people to sign up for your service or whatever. And this is how I do it and this is who I’ve done it for.” I love that. I guess it’s blue ocean, because like, you can see more of the ocean, right? It’s not as saturated and so you can see more of it.
Ame Proietti: Right. Yeah. Kind of like having that wide blue ocean versus like shark-infested territory.
Joe Casabona: Hmm, I like that that’s a little bit more horrifying in my head now. And so with blue oceans, less saturated, it sounds like you might want to lead with the problem because you need to kind of guide the customer or client towards the fact that, “Hey, are you aware that you have this problem?”
Ame Proietti: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It really just depends on what your product or service is. Because sometimes people know that there is a problem and they’re aware of like why it’s a problem. And if you come up with this never before seen solution and they’re like, “Oh, wow, that’s exactly what I need,” you don’t have to lead with the problem. You can lead with the solution or lead with the outcome.
But there’s less pressure, I think, in marketing when you have a blue ocean, because you don’t have as many competitors that you’re trying to find the gap in between. You can basically say like, “Hey, I’ve got this product, and you probably need it. Come check it out.” And people are gonna be like, “Oh, well, there’s no other options. So let me check that out.”
Joe Casabona: That’s awesome. That makes perfect sense. Thanks for explaining that. You mentioned that and I was like, “Wow, this is like a concept I’ve never heard of before,” which I’m not all-knowing but I figure, you know, if it’s common enough, I’ve probably heard it at this point. We’re almost like 300 episodes into this podcast.
Okay, cool. So interviewing customers, looking at testimonials, figuring out how much competition there is so you know the type of copy to write. When we worked together, and we’ll talk more about this, on How I Built It Pro, what Ame did for me and how we went through that, but I do want to touch on the fact that we redid my homepage, we created an about page for me, then we created the playbook sales page.
All three of those pages have different purposes. I want to focus on the homepage a little bit for right now because I think that in my head there’s a little bit of like this conflicting have one call to action versus like the homepage should be like a place to send people to multiple places. So when you’re writing homepage copy, what is your goal or what should the goal of the homepage owner be?
Ame Proietti: The goal is to get people to take whatever action you want them to. Most homepages, like I said before, will either want you to subscribe to their email list or to check out their product. If the business has like a lot of products or services, you might redirect them to the right pages. I do that on my own website where I want to redirect people to copy and video stuff. I don’t know if that’s the best idea to be doing right now for myself, we can cut this part out. I’m having an existential crisis about my own business. But anyway.
Joe Casabona: I want to dig more into that if you don’t mind when we get through the homepage stuff, because I think this is really important to talk about.
Ame Proietti: Okay, yeah, we can dig into that. But yeah, so the homepage is either going to get someone’s email. If you have one product or one service, you can put that directly on the homepage and just treat it like it’s a service page or redirect people to the right service pages. And that’s it.
Joe Casabona: Gotcha. Yeah, that makes sense. I’m for podcastliftoff.com, the main goal is to get people onto my mailing list, I think, right?
Ame Proietti: Yeah.
Joe Casabona: That’s like the main call to action here. Like I do have the one product, but I also have the coaching services and things like that. So I definitely want to get people… I’m like, in a purple ocean, probably. Right? Because like a lot of people know that they want a podcast or they need a podcast. A lot of people probably don’t realize that they could get help to make money, or to really improve their downloads and their listenership.
I don’t feel like at this point I need to convince people they need a podcast, but I definitely need to convince people, “Hey, hire me as an accelerant and you can start making money sooner than you would have without me.”
Ame Proietti: I see that a lot with video stuff, where people know video is great, they know they want to do video, but I think maybe video in itself just feels overwhelming that they’re not taking the steps or they’re just dabbling in it. So maybe your podcast maybe kind of the same. But I would say podcasting is actually much easier to do than video.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, I agree. And because of that, it’s also probably easier to do poorly, right? Like you just record from your phone or whatever. Like, don’t do that. Don’t record from your phone. The worst thing you can do for your podcast is make it sound like you’re recording from a bathroom stall.
Ame Proietti: Oh, wait, you’re not supposed to do that? I need to rethink my podcast.
Joe Casabona: Don’t do that.
Ame Proietti: I’m joking. I would never do that with my podcast.
Joe Casabona: That’s good. I appreciate that. Honestly, you should really limit the amount of talking you do in any bathroom or any bathroom stall, if I’m being honest. But that’s a whole other topic.
Ame Proietti: I agree with you. I feel like bathroom stalls are not for talking.
Joe Casabona: No, they’re not.
Ame Proietti: They have a very specific purpose. Talking is not one of them.
Joe Casabona: Right. I’m going to create a chapter marker for this. The rule in the men’s room is eyes front, no talking. Just like, get in there, do what you gotta do, and get out. I’ve had chatty people next to me and I’m like, “Please end this. We gotta go.” Anyway. So that was our little bathroom sidequest. Really strong way to close out the season.
So that’s the homepage, right? Get people to take whatever action you want them to take, use this kind of assembly to convince people to do that thing by using the language that you’ve gotten from your customers or from testimonials.
You mentioned that you’re having a bit of an existential crisis. I think that this is very common for business owners. So I think that this is really good to talk about because I’m sure a lot of people have gone through this or are going through this. I went through this.
Again, we’ll talk more about this in How I Built It Pro, which by the way, if you’re a longtime listener, this is the first time I’m using How I Built a Pro. So that’s an existential crisis. But I think I changed my product on you like three times before we really started writing the product page. At first, it was like my course and it was my cohort-based course and then it was like this thing, and then we settled on… Did you come up with the name Playbook? I think you came up with the name Playbook. So like I didn’t even come up with the product name, just the concept.
Ame Proietti: One thing I find as a business owner, it’s very hard to come up with stuff yourself or kind of sort through things because you’re so close to your business, and you know everything you want to do. And taking the necessary step back to figure out if it’s a good idea, do you have the right funnel in place, all of that stuff, it’s hard to do by yourself.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. There’s all those metaphors or sayings or whatever. You like see the forest through the trees are trying to read the label when you’re on the inside of the bottle. Who came up with that? Who thought I’m in a bottle, and I want to read this label?
Ame Proietti: Maybe it was Christina Aguilera. She had that Genie In A Bottle song.
Joe Casabona: That’s true. You know, back in ’97 she was a genie in a bottle. I had the biggest crush on her by the way. So it’s really hard to see that stuff, right? And so working with someone like you helped me see a lot of things that I was missing because I was too close to it. And I’m a solo guy. I don’t have a business partner or anything like that where I can bounce ideas off of them. I’m in a mastermind group.
But I guess maybe one of the takeaways here is find somebody that you can really bounce these ideas off of. Like, Ame, you came in with fresh eyes, and then like took time, like part of your services understanding me and my business, to come up with the best copy. And those pages are amazing. Like, they’re so good.
Ame Proietti: I’m really glad you liked them. And I’m glad your audience likes them, too. I think that’s one of the things that… writing copy is not necessarily hard to do and you can write your own. The benefits you really got when you hire someone is that they aren’t part of your business so they’re coming in, and they’re going to have probably some of the same questions that your audience is going to have and the answer is already in your own head. You might not be thinking, oh, I need to include that, or I need to clarify or do whatever with that.
So they come in with these questions. They also come in and they talk to your audience as well as a third party. So it’s a lot easier for a customer to say what they really think about your product or service if they’re not talking to you, because you know, people don’t want to say bad things to your face.
Joe Casabona: Right.
Ame Proietti: Or they might be thinking, “Oh, okay, I need to say what you want me to say.” But I’ve come in, they have no idea who I am, I don’t know anything about them, and they can just tell me, “This is what I thought, this is how I used it, this is how I felt.” It does help get a bit more of an objective perspective from them.
And then the last reason is really just saving time. Like it takes a while to write good copy. And if you don’t do it all the time, you’re probably going to spend a lot more time than I will spend because you know, I can bring out a sales page in a day if I really want to because of the practice. Those are like the main reasons to really hire anyone outside is just that outside perspective. They act kind of like your advisor in a way, like a trusted adviser. And then they just have the skill to bang out whatever they need to in less time than you would probably take to do it.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And this is one of those things people ask me, like, “Hey, how did you get so good at podcasting?” Or “How did you get comfortable in front of a microphone?” I say, “I’ve been doing this for 10 years, more if you count my like drama club and teaching background.” Like, I’ve been talking in front of people for most of my life. And so you gotta get your reps in. But like one of the reasons to hire somebody who already has their reps in is that accelerant.
Again, I have published four books, I have over a dozen courses on LinkedIn Learning. I can write words. But I hired Ame because I was struggling to find the right words to convince people to buy whatever my product was going to be.
And that was another thing, again, that we helped flesh out. I realized nobody wants it like a high-dollar cohort-based course at first, but people seem to be enjoying the Playbook. And so that was another thing that was really helpful. I would have never thought of the name Playbook. We worked through like the offerings based on the copy, based on what you learned from my testimonials and customer interviews, and things like that.
Ame Proietti: I would say that sales page is the hot page like sizzling hot.
Joe Casabona: Yes. And this is the other thing, right? You know it works. I think if we look at… actually I really want to save this part for How I Built It Pro. If you want to hear us kind of break down this sales page, you can sign up for How I Built It Pro. It’s 50 bucks a year, that’s less than five bucks a month over and howibuilt.it/pro.
So we’re going to talk about my sales page specifically there. But we’ve talked about the homepage. The goal of the sales page is going to be the same. You want them to take this one action and that action is probably buy your product or sign up for a discovery call or whatever, right?
Ame Proietti: Yeah. And my job is to make sure that getting people from landing on the page to hitting that button of “yes I want this like right now. Where’s my Visa card?” is as easy as possible for them. They shouldn’t even have to like think about it. Just go through the page seamlessly and when they’re ready, buy, boom, done.
Joe Casabona: And this is really where having an external source person, advisor, whatever comes in handy because I know the value of my product. That’s why I’m offering it. But communicating that value is something different. I love your analogy of like assembling or you said I was doing a weave or whatever.
Ame Proietti: Weaving, yeah.
Joe Casabona: Weaving. Of assembling things because you do, right? You have these modules, you have the headline that catches the attention and then the convincing copy and the testimonials and the look inside, which is not something I’ve never really thought to do before. I created the killer video at your recommendation.
So that’s really where like having someone else helps. Because you’re right. Like I’ve been in mastermind groups, and they’ve been great, don’t get me wrong, but like where I’ve like put out a page for feedback, and I’ve gotten back like, “Yeah, this is really great.”
And then in Jay Clouse’s group, I think the reason that got me to higher heel was I put together a page for like a $45 workshop or something like that and everyone’s like, “Yeah, your copy is so great.” And then you just made an eight minute video just like ripping it to shreds. And I thought, “I need to hire Ame. This is the type of thing.” I’m from New York. Above all, I want to be right no matter how brutal the feedback is, right? So that was just so instructive for me.
Ame Proietti: It was a bit long. I tried to make that as like concise as possible. But I also wanted to give you like, as good a feedback as I could, because being in that group, one thing I like about it is people can be so honest with each other. And people are very generous with their knowledge.
Like I’ve gotten tons of comments and help from people in their areas of expertise. And this is something that I can contribute on. So all my videos tend to be at least like eight minutes long and I always go, Ame, this is way too long.” But they seem to be appreciated so far.
Joe Casabona: I watched every minute and I like took notes.
Ame Proietti: A lot of it is just like kind of looking and seeing what’s working, what’s not working. Testing is I think underrated in copy. The research and the testing. The best copy will evolve over time. It needs to be tested throughout its lifespan. And it’s something that you’re just going to continue to evolve on. And the research you do is going to help you make that evolution.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, definitely. And with testing, I think that’s really important. Do you have like a preferred like AB testing tool or anything like that that you like? Or do you go more like, “Make a change, see if conversions happen or whatever.” Because it really depends on your goal.
Ame Proietti: It depends on the clients a lot, actually, whether they want to do the testing, or if they just want to put out their copy as is. For my own website, I kind of just do it really sloppily. I just put it up there live and see what works and then edit it as needed.
Joe Casabona: I’ll definitely do the same. I try to be a ship and iterate kind of person. I mean, this is the fatal mistake that a lot of people creating courses make is they go into a hole for six months and make the course and then release it. And then it’s like a dud but they didn’t know that for six months. Whereas release a couple of videos on a topic, see how well it does and then like deliver the course over a few weeks, and get that live feedback so that you can iterate more quickly.
Ame Proietti: Absolutely. It’s all about the testing.
Joe Casabona: Yes. In the last few minutes here before we wrap up, I do want to talk a little bit about script writing. I want to recap the big takeaways for like copywriting really quick. They are, interview your customers, get testimonials, use their language, have a goal for each page, and get people to take action on that goal.
Ame Proietti: And I would also say very much think about the experience the customers need to have on that page, not what you as the business owner need.
Joe Casabona: Love that. Because you’re not designing the page for you, you’re designing the page for your customer. So it doesn’t really matter what you want. Ultimately, if your goal is to make more sales and get more customers, it’s about what they want.
Ame Proietti: Right. And on that note, I just want to expand a little bit. Something that happens is a lot of people they have this nice, beautiful, pretty website and they want to try and Horseshoe their copy into that design. That’s a terrible idea 100% of the time. You can’t force a message into something that’s already said. You have to create the message and then build around that. That’s really important. And I think that’s something that people don’t think about enough.
Joe Casabona: Yes, when I was making websites, I always told my client, “We can’t get started until I have your copy.” And they would say, “Why?” And I”d say, “Well, how am I supposed to design a site when I don’t know what the site says or what you want your customers to do. If you want to just apply a generic template, you don’t need to pay me thousands of dollars for that. You could just do it and then fill in the blanks.”
Ame Proietti: Mm-hmm. Yeah, because there’s so much to it. It’s not even just like the headline or the words on the page that you see. It’s also the button text, where things are placed. UX copywriting is like a really big conversation right now. And it is all about, again, providing the most seamless experience from I’ve clicked on your page to this is the action I’m gonna be taking right now. Where’s my card or email?
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Joe Casabona: Let’s spend a couple minutes talking about scriptwriting. Totally different. Not something that I do for my own YouTube videos. I’ll do it for my LinkedIn videos, because I want to know… or like, you know, my producers want to know what I’m covering. And it does make the process a lot more seamless on recording day. It takes me about a day, so like eight hours to record about an hour and a half of finished video, if that makes sense.
So if I record for eight hours, the end product will be an hour-and-a-half-long course. And I’m told those numbers are really good and really fast. And part of it is because I have scripts for all of those videos. I want to get your take on this. First of all, do I need scripts for my YouTube videos do you think?
Ame Proietti: I think yes, 100%. Because right now YouTube is filled with what I would say—I’m just gonna say it—good enough videos. And those are fine for now. But if you look at someone like Tiago Forte, his videos are like next level.
He posted something on Twitter months ago where he’s like, “I spent $5,000 per video.” And all of Twitter was like, “That’s ridiculous. Why do you spend so much production blah, blah, blah?” And I wrote on there, I was like, “I’m glad to see that because it’s not just production only. It’s the pre-production, scripting, research, getting everything in order, editing, promoting, all of these things go into actually having a great video. And I’m very passionate about video. So I was happy to see this.” And he responded, he’s like, “Yeah, there’s so much and so many people that go into making great video. It’s not just about press record and go from there.”
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. Which is exactly what I do. And I think my numbers show it. My most viral videos have been probably the most planned, whereas the most planned is I will record a video and I’ll be like, “Well, that was trash,” and then I’ll rerecord it. So like I kind of wrote the script or the storyboard by like messing up the first time around.
Again, scripting your video is not necessarily reading from a teleprompter, right? It’s just knowing what you want to say, knowing the point you want to hit, and creating that story. This is the thing. No matter what kind of video you’re making, you should be telling a story. Is that accurate?
Ame Proietti: You should absolutely be making a story. For me, though I see the benefit of the script is not just about the words you’re going to say. It’s also about the visuals you’re going to show people. That’s something a lot of people don’t think about when they think of scripts. They think narration, words on paper. But there’s a whole second half to a video script. And that’s the visual side of it.
So when you write like a proper… I use the AV script format a lot, where it’s audio and one column visuals in the other. That really makes you think about what whole message are you showing someone at a specific time. Because you have to have both. I mean, that’s a video, it’s audio-visual experience.
So if you only write like one of them and then you go and kind of deal with the visuals and editing, which is what a lot of people do, videos, you might get lucky. But a lot of times the video pacing is really slow, the visuals don’t match. Or it’s just kind of boring to watch. Or worse is just a talking head video.
If you don’t think about the visuals when you write like the verbal message, what we’re actually going to hear, pacing could be really slow, the visuals could not match, or worse, it could just be really boring, because it’s you for 10 minutes talking about the screen and a talking head style video.
And people don’t want to watch that for 10 minutes. I mean, they will if they have to. But I think the landscape is changing to where enough people are actually thinking about the quality of their video. And at some point, I think the bar is going to rise on YouTube.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, I love this point a lot. Most of my videos up until probably six months ago were instructional screencasts. And so it was really easy for me… As long as I would choreograph beforehand, right, “I’m gonna go here, I’m gonna click this,” I could narrate what I was doing on screen and the pacing would be perfect because I was just saying what I was doing as I was doing it, which is something that takes practice and I’m well-practiced at.
Now that I’m doing less screencasts and more information me talking on a screen. It’s a little harder for me to make that move. Because in podcasting, you don’t have to worry about the visuals. But with a video, you absolutely do.
When I was doing promo videos with my friends, Sean and Brian, we didn’t want to stay on a single visual for more than like 10 or 15 seconds. And even like 10 seconds can feel really long. We would want to try to keep the video going so that the viewer wouldn’t get bored. Especially if you’re making a promo video, that’s like 60 to 90 seconds. So 10 seconds is like 10% of the video.
Ame Proietti: Right. Explainer videos and those kinds of promo videos are actually… I would say, I have the most experience doing those types of videos. And what I like about those direct response videos is the whole point is to keep someone engaged until the end because that’s where you ask them to take action. So everything that goes into it is hyper-focused on keeping your attention and getting you to the end of the video.
I think YouTube videos because they’re more content and more informative, people don’t value that as much. But I think we’re seeing a shift in people who are using direct response kind of promo video ideas in their content marketing videos. And that’s what’s gonna make that new bar on YouTube of like higher quality videos.
Joe Casabona: I love that. So this is kind of where we’ll finish things. I want to mention the ABC script format and then I want to talk about something you covered in your newsletter. I think it was over the summer, but I really loved it.
The AB script format, text in one column visuals in the other, do you have a rule of thumb for like my scripts look like a table where it’s kind of column one, column two, and then like row A, row B, row a what I say, the visual that should line up, row B, what I say, the visual that should line up? Do you have a rule of thumb for like how many words per visual or per row when it comes to script writing? I know it kind of depends on… like I talk fast. Some people talk slower. But I guess like if someone’s trying to put this together, how do you go about matching the text with the visuals.
Ame Proietti: So I think about that as really just like one scene. I don’t put a specific number of words per box but I won’t put long blocks of text in one singular block and have one visual. I’m always thinking like, “How can I change this every 15 to 30 seconds.” And if it’s like a mix of talking head footage with like B-roll, I would say probably change the visual at least every 20 seconds, unless you are at the end and then you’re kind of just wrapping up the video, here’s my call to action summary, here’s my second call to action, then you can have like yourself on the screen for a little bit longer. But in the heart of the video, I would say 20 to 30 seconds maximum change those visuals out.
Joe Casabona: It’s not like static image for 15 seconds, right? It’s like, I’m going to talk to you and say a bunch of words and then at 15 seconds maybe I’ll switch to B roll or share my screen or something like that. Right?
Ame Proietti: Right. Yeah, if it’s a static image, I would only show that for maybe like five to 10 seconds, depending on what the visual is. If it’s something that’s moving like B-roll or like an animation or something that you can have on for a little bit longer because there’s movement. You just don’t want the video to feel like it’s stopped.
Joe Casabona: Right. Does the Ken Burns, like zoom thing work for static images, like making it feel a little bit more dynamic, or is that done to death at this point?
Ame Proietti: Oh, no, it’s totally still a valid thing to do. I use it in videos all the time still. Because it’s a form of movement. You’re kind of zooming in on something that’s kind of saying to someone, “Okay, this is important,” and they still feel like the videos moving.
Joe Casabona: Nice. Love that. So it’s like how people will try to… like they’ll take a longer route when there’s traffic on the shorter route even if the longer route takes more time because it still feels like they’re moving, like they’re still making progress. That is brought to you by this morning where there was some weird amount of traffic as I brought my children to school—like way more than usual. And I like went out very [inaudible 00:44:07] this route, and I could have just stayed in the traffic. Anyway, I love that.
I want to wrap up with maybe my favorite series, we’ll say, from your newsletter, which we’ll link in the show notes. Again, that’ll be over at howibuilt.it/295. It’s script-writing tips, but you broke down… I think it was a peloton ad with Chris Maloni.
Ame Proietti: Oh, yeah, I love that ad. And not just because I love Chris Maloni. He is quite a hunk though.
Joe Casabona: He is. Look who doesn’t love Chris? If you don’t love Chris Maloni, you’re suspect, I think. The dude’s awesome.
Ame Proietti: Absolutely. Also, he’s like 60-something years old and absolutely ripped. I’m in awe.
Joe Casabona: Dang, that’s wild. You broke this down because you thought the commercial was so good, right? It did a bunch of things: subverting expectations and grabbing viewers’ attention and things like that.
Ame Proietti: What I liked about this one, in particular, is if you listen to the words that they’re using, like the narration, it’s very, very basic. But the visuals are why it’s so funny. And for me, this is a great example of why that visual message is so important. Because without it, this video would have sucked.
Joe Casabona: Right. Like you couldn’t just take that audio and make it a podcast or radio ad. Like the visuals were the powerful part of it.
Ame Proietti: Right. Yeah, the audio is boring when you take it out of the video, but having the naked Chris Maloni, whether he’s actually naked or not, is up for debate. But I know what I choose to believe. Having him like, you know, working out… I don’t even know what he’s doing. He’s doing like karate, then he’s running, the dog was really funny as well, with the onscreen text of like, “Wow! He’s got a really great App.” All of that. That visual humor is what made that video.
Joe Casabona: And that was such a great breakdown. I like waited on bated breath for like the next in the series. I think it was like three or four emails, maybe. But I really love that breakdown. Ame, this has been great. If people want to learn more about you, sign up for that newsletter, where can they find you?
Ame Proietti: They can find it at makingavideomarketer.com/script-tips.
Joe Casabona: All right. Is that all one word?
Ame Proietti: Oh, let me check. I should know this. It’s two words. It’s script-tips. I’ll link this in the show notes over at howibuilt.it/295.
Ame, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for spending time with us today.
Ame Proietti: Thanks for having me on your show. I feel like I’ve made it being on your show.
Joe Casabona: Well, I appreciate that. I really love the work you did and the value that you’ve provided. So I’m glad we were able to get connected. And I know that the people listening have gotten a lot of value too. If you want to get even more in howibuilt.it/pro. You can do that. Everything that you need to sign up, all of the links we talked about today, it’ll be over at howibuilt.it/295.
So, Ame, thanks for joining us today. Really appreciate it.
Ame Proietti: Anytime.
Joe Casabona: And thank you for listening. Thanks to our sponsors, Ahrefs, LearnDash, and Nexcess. Their support is deeply appreciated. You can learn more about them over on the show notes page at howibuilt.it/295. But thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.
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