Finding the Right Words for Your Website & Why Good Messaging Matters with Courtney Fanning

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Today on the Intentional Creative Podcast I’m chatting with Courtney Fanning. Courtney was one of our Square Summit speakers we’re so excited to have her on the show today to talk about brand strategy and copywriting for your website.

If coming up with the words to put on your website, stresses you out, you are going to love this. Courtney shares so many great tips. Whether you want to DIY your website copy, or you’re thinking of outsourcing.

If you missed Square Summit and want to learn to DIY your own Squarespace website, registration is open here:

If you’re ready to get started with Squarespace now, click here to save 10% off your first subscription of a website by using the code PARTNER10.


Galen: Hello, and welcome back to the Intentional Creative Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today. I am so, so grateful that you’re taking the time to listen in and up level your business today. I’m going to be chatting with Courtney Fanning from Big Picture Branding. Courtney was one of our Square Summit speakers and she is all about brand strategy and copywriting.

If coming up with the words to put on your website, stresses you out, you are going to love this episode. She shares so many great tips. Whether you want to DIY your website copy, or you’re thinking of outsourcing.

Before we dive into this episode, if you missed Square Summit and you’re feeling left out, you can still grab all the presentation, replays and our speaker bonuses by heading over to forward slash V I P.

Those speaker bonuses are going away soon. So, if you want in, on all the goodies, make sure to sign up now. All right. Let’s dive into the episode.

Hi, Courtney. Welcome to the Intentional Creative Podcast. I’m so excited to have you here. Why don’t we start by just having you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your business?

Courtney: So, my name is Courtney Fanning. I am the founder of Big Picture Branding, which provides brand strategy and copywriting for purpose driven creative. So just basically anyone who gives a damn, I help online entrepreneurs wrap their heads around what they’re trying to build, to create differentiated messaging that resonates with the clients that they’re trying to reach out to.

Galen: I love that. And how long have you been a copywriter?

Courtney: Let’s see, I’ve been running Big Picture Branding for about three years now, but I have a marketing background. Well, I actually started in book publishing way back in the day, and I went to school, grad school for book publishing. So, I have literal master’s degree in how to sell stories. That’s what I like to tell people.

At least it makes it seem more legitimate, but I then worked in book publishing, marketing, and so that encompassed digital marketing and copywriting and all of that good stuff. And then eventually I, you know, like most people went through the whole corporate ladder scheme and was like, I think I’m ready to start my own business.

Think I’m going to do this. I’m going to leave and try my own thing for a while and here I am.

Galen: Yeah, I feel like So many of us have gone through that journey of having that realization of, we feel the need to go out on our own. We just feel that urge. And then we slowly build up to a point where we have to take that leap. We have to make that change in our life, and we have to jump into this new thing.

Was there any fear around that for you? What was kind of that, uh, that force behind you that made you wanna do that?

Courtney: So, I think I got to a point where I felt like I just wasn’t learning anything and I wasn’t actually, like, I would go home at the end of the week and be like, did I do anything this week? Like I’m accomplishing tasks, but did I actually make a difference to anything? And, you know, I was seeing a lot of different things in the online business world, and it just seemed like people had their hands in so many different pots.

And I loved that because I’m multi-passionate I like, you know, I want to try things out and I love experimentation. So, I think it was. I had this moment of where I wasn’t entirely happy, I’m in the job that I was in, but I knew that if I switched to a different company or different role, it was just going to be more of the same.

So, I was actually just really excited to give it a go. I mean, obviously there was this fear of like, am I going to be able to pay the bills? Am I going to be able to feed my family, but luckily, you know, my husband and I worked it out to where we were like, okay, let’s give this a year first just to see, get your feet wet? And at the end of the year, let’s just reassess.

See if you want to keep doing this. And luckily it worked out really well. It’s had a lot of ups and downs though in the last three years, not just because of COVID, but, um, I think it was more excitement than fear.

Galen: Yeah. And did you quit cold turkey? Did you do kind of like a half and half full-time job side gig for a while? What did that look like for you?

Courtney: I love the idea of a bridge job. I think that’s the coolest thing. I didn’t do it. I kind of got to the point where I, I was so burnt out and not in a good spot that, and I was having a lot of like workplace trauma issues. So, I just had to go for my own health. But I know so many people who have done bridge jobs and it has been such a game changer for them because they’re able to, you know, for anyone who’s in a job for a long time, there’s a lot of stuff that comes with being in a corporate environment and having that bridge job lets you heal a little bit and figure out, okay, who am I without this job? Who, what do I really want to do? And so, I I’ve seen so many good success stories of people who do the bridge job. I, however, am a good case study for saying, screw this. I am going whole-hog somewhere else. So, I did that, but I did make sure I had some support systems in place. So, I hired a business coach, just to help me figure out, I kinda knew what I wanted to do.

What’s my actual offering. What’s my elevator pitch. What’s my go-to market play on all of that stuff, just so I felt like I wasn’t like, okay. I, you know, I now waking up on my own, what do I do today? I had some structure there. I think that was a really important.

Galen: Oh, same here. I, same as you. I. Just quit. I, I had a little bit of savings and at that point in my life, I was in my early twenties. So, I didn’t really need a huge net to catch me. Right? I was able to downsize my apartment. I was able to move to a cheaper area and just kind of hit the ground running with the little bit of client work that I had and build it from there.

But I had no net, I just kind of left and hope that it appeared to me. But again, a lot of it depends on your support systems and where you’re at in business. So, I think both ways of doing it are really valuable, but it also depends on your personality type. And I was kind of that same way. I just needed to get out.

And I actually had a great workplace scenario, but I still felt the need to just leave. I had that urge, that burning desire to do my own thing. And so, quitting was extremely difficult. It was really sad to say goodbye to everybody, but I knew that it was going to be a great move. But I love that you had a business coach from the very beginning.

What was that like for you?

Courtney: So, I worked with shout out Michelle Ward. The When I Grow Up Coach, she has a program called, 90 Day Business Launch. And you basically you have your one perfect day together. You do a lot of pre-work ahead of time and you have to apply to work for her. So, you kind of have your ducks in a row more or less before you meet with her.

And then you spend an entire day. I went at the time pre COVID, went to New York. Took the train down there. We were at a We Work and we were just holed up in one of our gorgeous little conference rooms with our little espresso drinks, just working out. Right? What’s my business like; what am I actually here to do?

Who am I serving? Let’s break it down. Let’s look at what’s your pricing structure. I mean, like we went like nitty-gritty business plan. And at the end of that day, you walk away with your whole business plan and then each month you had a set of goals and steps that you had to accomplish. So that by the end of those 90 days, I had a website and I had, which she kind of helped, you know, walk you through a little bit of like, oh, don’t forget to put XYZ on the website. And I was like, this is hilarious. Cause this is kind of my job. And not yet I’m learning from this other person of like all the things. Yeah. Totally on the website. And you walk away with like your website, your first offering, your initial marketing plan, which is so hard as a new business owner, because you’re like, who do I like? Mom is my only person on my newsletter.

Cool. That’s great. But I need clients. So, what’s my plan from here on out. Um, and it was with her actually that the seed was planted for me, that I was probably not going to find most of my clients. Like they weren’t going to just know to come to me because most people don’t really understand what brand strategy is.

They know what copywriting is, but they also don’t know when copywriting comes into the whole process of creating your businesses, like website and marketing materials. So, I kind of said, you know, I have the feeling I’m going to have to partner up with other designers and I’m going to have to like, talk to them about bringing me in on their process.

Because most people, when they start a business, they’re like, I need a logo. I need a brand. And they think brand colors, typography, all of that. So, they reach out to a designer and then the designer is like, yeah, sure. I can help create, you know, your brand for you. I, your brand identity, I’ll do your website.

Who’s going to write your copy? And that’s when they had this Earth moment of like, I guess I will. And I spoke to enough designers. Who were also kind of in the network of my, my business coach who were like, yeah, it’s the worst? When people don’t really projects get held up because they don’t know what to write.

If they’re doing DIY and Marilyn copy. And so, for people who can hire a copywriter, it’s awesome. But we also kind of wish that they had these DIY templates that they can at least work off of those. So, our projects could move ahead, and I was like, oh, I’m listening. Now, not only do I have partnerships, but I know what kind of DIY materials people actually need if they can’t afford to hire a strategist and a copywriter. So, that was a lot of great things came out of working with that business coach in her network.

Galen: That’s amazing. And where did you get your very first client or your very first couple of clients when you started that process of literally having nobody but your mom, because we’ve all been there. We’ve all had one person on our email list at some point, just a couple of friends, maybe some family members cheering you on, or maybe no one.

Cause I actually, when I first started my business, I didn’t actually tell anyone in my family about it. I didn’t tell any of my friends about it. I wanted my personal brand. Like if I was going to show up online, I did not want anyone I actually knew in real life to be able to find me. So, I kept it really private actually still kind of due to this day.

Everyone’s like, oh, you don’t link to your website from your Facebook profile, which is awful because when you’re in Facebook groups, no one can find your website, but I’m like, yeah, I just don’t really want people from high school ending up on my website. So, if you could identify, identify with that, let us know.

But how did you, how did you find those very first couple clients?

Courtney: So, it’s funny. You say like you keep it private because I feel the same way. I did reach out to everyone and their mother and my network and just, I sent everyone an email when I launched, just to say. This is what I’ve started and here’s why I did it. And here’s my offering. Like, I would love you to spread the words forward to people who, you know, who might be the right kind of client for me and who was the friends and family that came back with the worst referrals.

It’s like, they’ve re like they want to support me so badly, but they just don’t really understand what I’m doing. Um, and it did help me kind of refine my pitch, too. Cause I was like, is it me? Am I not describing myself well? But it did end up being one of my, colleagues at the job that I left. She also left to start her own business, super cool little startup that she was doing on.

And she was in the beginning stages and was like, this is exactly what I need. Like, I’m a, I’m a developer, I’m a coder. I’m like a startup mind. I am not marketing minded at all. So, I was able to test my process out on her for the first time and it was so helpful. Cause the process I used with her is almost the exact same one I use today with a few minor tweaks, but it felt like a safe space. Cause I was like, I’m going to be honest, I’m going to try this. I don’t know if it’s going to work or if it’s going to get us to the right result, but just bear with me and let’s see how this goes. And she was like, this is totally fine.

Like we’re supporting each other, and you know, and I charged her, which was great. I recommend everyone charge your very first client, even if it’s not your go to full rate that you’re hoping one day to have, but charge people because you need to get comfortable with money early. And that is something that I didn’t realize was gonna be such a challenge for me.

Galen: Yes. Yeah.

I feel like so much of confidence with money has to do with confidence in business. And the two have to be the same. I know, especially when you’re not making a lot of money, that is the time when you actually need to be the most comfortable with it. Because if you’re not looking at your numbers every month or comfortable talking about your prices, those are awkward things.

And like, I know for me on sales calls, when I’m meeting with potential web design clients talking about the price is a huge, it makes a huge difference. If I talk about it on the call, I get a sense right then and there listening to them talk if they’re comfortable with that price, if they’re not comfortable with that price, if I need to justify not necessarily justify, but show the value in that price more to really get them on board.

So much more can happen when I say it out loud and we have a conversation about it rather than just having this great discovery call and then sending them a contract 10 minutes later with a price that they’re like, oh my goodness, I wasn’t expecting that. Or I had no idea that was coming. And so, it is really nice to be comfortable with that and, and be looking at your numbers.

I didn’t look at my numbers for a long time, because I, I was scared that they were not going to be good. And I didn’t want to know what my expenses, where my income was and what the difference was. I just didn’t want to look at it. I was scared of those. So, I highly recommend you get comfortable talking about numbers, get comfortable looking at numbers and knowing how much you need to make.

And I love that you said charge for those early clients and have a contract in place for those early clients, even if it’s your friends, even if it’s people, you know, because that you still want to make sure that you’re covered and you want to practice, you want to practice getting in the habit of doing, the doing business the right way of doing business with structure.

So, that’s really cool that you ended up working with that very first person that you already knew and getting to experiment a little bit. I think that makes a huge difference. So, then from there, did you start partnering with other designers right away? Did you keep kind of finding clients one by one?

What did that look like?

Courtney: Yeah. So, most of my clients to this day are split between referrals that come from mostly the design. I work with two different designers currently, because people come to them kind of through their funnel and then they say, okay, well, what it sounds, what you need is like top to bottom brand design and copywriting and website design and development.

So, I’m going to get you on a call with Courtney. So, they kind of wrote me into that process when they feel like, I’m a good fit for the type of project. So, a lot of them come from there. As well as some repeat clients, of course. And then the other half comes from SEO. People who are researching something in one of my many resources comes up and they’re like, you know, I wanted to refresh, I’m looking into the, how, how do you refresh a brand?

How do you do this? And I found a resource and I want to talk to you about it. And I see that you also partner with designers, which is great because. I just want a copywriter. I want to do my whole brand, like redo everything. So, can you help me with that? So, it’s SEO, it’s referrals with these designers that I partner with.

And that’s been really, really good too, because I get an inside peek at how, um, I can be a better copywriter. Because copy is a design element in many ways. And I think that’s something that I did not really internalize when I was doing just my own services. I mean, you are always writing to think about how does something sit on the page?

How does it pull people down? The page? That knowledge was always there, but like having to be really mindful of how different platforms function, something I never would have known until I started partnering up with designers. And I think that that has made. Such a better copywriter than if I just stayed.

And like only worked in my one little silo by myself. I think partnering is just the way to go. It’s awesome.

Galen: Let’s talk about some copy, best practices for somebody who is DIYing their copy, and is maybe struggling to figure out exactly who they’re speaking to. And what their copy should actually say. We talked a little bit about messaging before we started recording today and how messaging plays a role in who you’re targeting and who you’re not targeting or who your kind of detracting or pushing away from your site.

So, what are some tips you can give us for somebody who’s DIYing everything, and is just really stuck with where to start?

Courtney: I think finding a framework that you understand is really important. Like, there’s lots of quote unquote copy formulas, but I’m kind of against formulas because it, there, there’s no context behind a formula. You don’t really understand how that’s going to work for you. But if you have some sort of a framework and you can see examples of that framework in action, that’s awesome.

I have this audience persona and brand messaging workbook, but the basic structure of it is taking, Donald Miller Story Brand. He goes through at one point, the different problems that people have. So, I took that, and I reworked it to make applicable to, if you were writing a website most likely for a service-based business.

And so that’s actually just like, I have a sheet and you could do this, just write it down, write down, like, what’s this motivating action that someone is coming to you for. So, for like a photographer could be, I just got engaged. Simple as that, then the next one is what are their villains: time, money, are like always the top villains per people.

But sometimes it’s also just like access to resources or knowledge, know how, it’s nerves, anxiety. So, knowing that feeling.

Galen: Stuck.

Courtney: It kind of helps you figure out what tone you’re going to take based on what people are feeling. And then, then you look at their external, internal, philosophical problems because a lot of people will address the motivation.

You just got engaged, you need a wedding photographer. They won’t address the villains because they don’t want to say like, oh, you probably are on a budget. Like they don’t want to talk about that. But there are some other villains you probably should address, like you might be feeling nervous or like, um, for example, if you were a, uh, like a wedding, cosmetics person. What’s the word makeup. Thank you. Makeup artists. It might be, you’re nervous that you’re not going to look like yourself on your big day. Like that’s a villain you should address and talk about how you, you know, take lighting into consideration all of this stuff. So, the external is then like, what’s that face value problem.

I want what? Well, I want a photographer who does like, like a story or narrative style type photography.

Galen: Like lifestyle, documentary style. Yeah.

Courtney: Less cheesing at the camera. And then, the internal is then we’ll, what’s going on internally that they might be a little bit worried about or they’re considering. And so, you kind of get into that and that gives you more talking points.

And then the philosophical is like, why do I care? Like, what’s their worldview. Why do they even care about having a photographer of this certain style? Um, and then like, what’s actually just stopping them from hiring you. Why might they go a different direction? And so, then once you actually have written all those out, like I actually went, I asked people to write those out you, then what’s your response to that?

So, on another sheet of paper, I have people write. If someone says, oh, I’m really worried that I’m not gonna look like myself in the day, flip it, flip the script. What do you say? Like, you’re probably worried that you won’t feel like yourself on your day, but I take things like skin tone, lighting. Um, is it day or night wedding?

Like I take all of these things into consideration so that you look like you and you look perfect and all that stuff. You flip the script on each one of those, and then you’ve literally got your entire homepage and copy from just that. And you don’t need to think too much harder about like, oh, is it a headline?

Is it a bullet point? Like that stuff comes later. Just focus on what you want to say. And then when you actually get to your website, then you can start looking at. Okay. Which of these points is most important? I’ll put that at the top. What are people going to worry about next? Okay. That’s going to be the next section.

Okay. So, I should probably now introduce them to my packages. How can I like fork in the road them? Like tell them, okay. Now it’s time to make a decision. What should I put there? That’s when you’ve already got all that stuff figured out, you just pull from it. So, I definitely feel like doing that prep work, working through your audience personas and the messaging that you can say is, that is 90% of copywriting right there. The rest of it is just kind of like figuring out how to lay it out on the page so it’s not overwhelming. It is clear. You can start to toy with headlines to be like, ooh, this is really important. I don’t people want to miss this. I’m going to make this a headline.

And with the two sentences underneath, if they want to read more. It’s, it’s kind of a little bit of a dance.

Galen: Yeah.

I think that’s a really important, and I love you. Thank you for walking us through that. I think that’s really helpful. I’m going to tell you a couple of things that I personally struggle with that I think some of our listeners will struggle with too when it comes to copy. And this is for it’s funny, because for clients it’s actually easier because I’ll help clients with copy. If they don’t have the budget for a full copywriter and I will just kind of help guide them. And I have like sort of a process that I help them walk through just to get most, some people just aren’t even comfortable talking about themselves or talking about what they do in any capacity.

So, I try to kind of ease them into it. But I think, something that a lot of us struggle with is coming up with that like main brand statement of who you target and because there’s. I like, even when I look at my own business, I’m like, oh, well, there’s so many things. There’s so many ways that I add value.

There’s so many different things that I do. There’s so many pain points that I can touch on. There’s so many villains that I can flip the script on, and I struggle with being like, okay, well, what’s the one thing that I am. Like you had mentioned purpose driven. Like, how do you find the words to express, like to pick one of those things?

That your ideal clients struggle with and then really hone in when there’s so many great choices and there’s so many different options for how you can approach something. Like you can be the fun and friendly wedding photographer who’s basically like your maid of honor on the big day, or you can be the wedding photographer that’s more serious and takes her job very seriously and memorizes everyone in the bridal party and has a spreadsheet of everything. And that’s your zone of genius, or you can be the person who, like you said makes you feel great and look good in front of the camera and has amazing wedding techniques and editing techniques.

So, like, how do you choose? Like, you probably can’t be all of those things. I mean, maybe you can, but how do you choose, like, what is the value that you’re going to bring to the table? Like, what is the personality that you’re going to create for your brand?

Courtney: Yeah, I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to, to sum everything up in one line. I do the exact same thing. It’s particularly difficult if you are, in an industry where like, like coaching is one where I have a really, my clients all have a really hard time with accepting what their sort of sub headline is going to be because they want to sound so uniquely different.

And at the end of the day, you’re trying to sound uniquely different for your competitors, but actually your audience just needs you to be clear. I just need you to be clear. And so, if there are other elements that you want to bring in, like, you know, I’m a, I’m a detail-oriented photographer focused on blah, blah, blah.

Okay, cool. So, they get it. You’re going to be structured. You’ve got your act together. But then you, in another section, that’s where you can introduce, especially in the bio section, if you have like a little mini bio on your homepage, which I always recommend that people at least show their face yeah.

On the, on the, on the homepage before you actually dive into your about is where you can insert a little bit of personality and you can say like, I am all about the details, but I also love, you know, I’m, I’m also big into like fun and making this a great day and enjoyable experience for you. You can give an anecdote like you don’t have to do everything in one line.

You can figure out maybe where some good places to, to add that. The other thing is that you can think about can images, can pictures or design say those things for you? Because sometimes we want to say all the words and I am totally guilty of this because I am a word person when I’m really, you can, instead of having to say something, you can just put a picture that really shows you with a family and you guys are like laughing really. Like it’s like a really hearty laugh that you can see in the picture. And it looks like you guys are having a great time and everyone’s enjoying themselves. That is going to get that message across better than if you say you say.

But I’m also really great and fun to work with. And testimonials are another thing where people can say, like, I hired her because she seemed so detail oriented and she didn’t miss a beat, but we also had a blast and she made me feel comfortable. You know, those things can say that stuff for you, but the one-liner is tricky.

I don’t think it ever gets easier. And I think it’s okay to experiment, to like try a one-liner out for a couple months and tweak it. See how you like it. put too much pressure on it.

Galen: Guilty. Oh, I’ve totally done that. And been like, you know what? This is feeling good. Like for a while. I love the word intentional. Like obviously this is the Intentional Creative Podcast, and I am a huge fan of it because I feel like personally in business, I. It’s not that I floundered, but I just, like, there was so many years where I just was doing these different things and trying these different things.

And I didn’t have a really set direction. I wasn’t strategically making decisions and then seeing what the outcome was. And then pivoting based off the outcome, I just was like trying this and if it didn’t feel good, I would try this didn’t feel good, which was fine. Like we all need to experiment, but I wasn’t being intentional about the directions that I was choosing.

And so, for me, When I made that change in my business to really decide, okay, I am going to make intentional decisions and then I can always pivot. I wasn’t necessarily stuck to those things, but I was just, you know, putting together hypotheses, trying something. If it didn’t work, I was actually looking at the data to see why didn’t it work?

What could I have done differently? How could I maybe try again and get a different result? But I was using that on my website in terms of describing like my web design, but I realized like every web designer right now is using the word intentional. Like I literally. In the matter of a few days, found just happened to be on a couple other web designers, websites and found like five of them that literally in their front headline had the same word intentional.

And I was, I have to change this. Like I cannot have the exact same brand headline as these other designers. And not that my clients would have necessarily ended up on their website and been. But still just like for my own sanity, I was like, I have to try something different. And so, I changed it and I was like, it’s okay.

I’m actually really happy with where it is. And it’s still, it still conveys the same message just in a different way. So, I love that you were saying like, it’s okay to experiment there. That makes me feel a lot better about that.

Courtney: I mean, I did the same thing. So, for a while, I was just a brand strategist and copywriter for purpose driven businesses, but I was getting. And which I loved, I was getting a lot of non-profits coming to me, which I have worked with nonprofits and I, I absolutely love it, but I personally the brand and the vibe and the images and the things that I’m interested in.

Um, I’m very creative and I am a creator. I’m watercolorist I am, I’m like a multi-passionate like, I just, I love artsy things. I’m an ex-ballet dancer, like, so I added, added creatives to the end. Purpose-driven creatives. After much fighting because I did not want to put creatives there because there is another copywriter in my space, and she is the biggest copywriter for creatives. Like she coined the term, and I was like, ah, but like I am too, but because she’s so well-known, I felt like I couldn’t do that. I didn’t want to steal her, you know, her sunshine, like, but at the end of the day, I realized if I wanted to attract the kind of clients that really wanted to work with, I want people who are purpose driven.

They didn’t necessarily need to be saving the whales, but like every client I get sees that there’s a real purpose to what they’re doing. Like they’re really driven to solve a problem or do something slightly differently and more, and more of them are now creatives like me who are doing really interesting, unique things.

Like they’re not necessarily, you know, building homes in Rwanda or like working in the finance space, which is kind of something I was getting when I wasn’t being specific. And I didn’t add creative. So, I think it’s okay if you sound a little like other people, cause remember there’s so many other things that people are going to look at to decide if they like you, they know you, they trust you.

And a lot of it has to do with what your website looks like and how you sound.

Galen: And that’s why I think adjectives are so important or like description descriptor words because there’s nothing wrong with copywriting for creatives, but I think that’s a very like vague term. Like, I don’t think one person who can really own that term, but by adding purpose driven. You are narrowing that audience down and being more specific and, in any industry, I think just adding that one descriptor where that one additive like describe your ideal clients will make them feel at home and make them feel like.

So, for example, there’s a huge difference between. Uh, boho bride, who wants to put our hiking boots on under her dress and hike to the top of a mountain and then get married, just the two of them versus a bride who wants a 250-person lavish luxury wedding. And so those are different people, and you can speak to those different people in your copy, which, like you said, adding in that little bit, just tweaking it a little bit, but really being specific about who you’re targeting, makes a huge difference.

Let’s talk about the about page a little bit. How do you recommend, people talk about themselves, especially if they hate talking about themselves?

Courtney: Yeah, this is a good one. And the good news is the about page. It’s not a value. So, like it’s not necessarily you tooting your own horn, which is what people think it is. And it’s really uncomfortable. It’s just remembering that you’re trying to present facts to people. To show them that you get them and that you relate them, or you’ve been in their shoes.

So, it’s basically trying to say, look, you could pick anyone. Here’s why I think we would make a beautiful partnership together. Either I, you know, I have a similar background. I, I, something has happened to me. I had this origin story that really makes me have this perspective and this process that you would, you know, someone like you would really get a lot of value from, or I have overcome some sort of adversity and I need you to know about it because I need you to understand that, like I get where you’re coming from in your shoes. This is really great for coaches because you know, people want to work with people who understand what they’ve been through.

And then there’s also the purpose story, which is just like, what was the moment that, you know, you decided I have to do this. Like I have a purpose. I have to go out there and change things for someone, or I need to change things for myself. It’s those three things that you start to talk about, and you weave in, you know, maybe you’ve also got a logo banner that’s just got any credentials that you need to kind of get out of the way. Those are just good social proof, but you’re not focused on like your resume. You’re focused on your story and how, who you are is helping other people. I wish there was another term for about cause like everyone knows what on a website, you’re going to look for the about, so you don’t want to change it.

If people know that that’s what they’re looking for, but I almost wish we could retrain ourselves to think of another word so that people wouldn’t think it’s not about me. It’s about us.

Galen: Right. It’s about what the experience would be like working on the, I love that so much. And what would you say to somebody? Cause I think I’ve struggled with this as well. And I, I know the story is there. I know my why is there? And I know that I can share it, but sometimes I feel overshadowed by people who have these like amazing, you know, origin stories or like rags to riches or like crazy life stories that I’m like, well, I, you know, I don’t have, I don’t have that same.

Like, my story is not that interesting. How do I convey it in a way? Yes, everyone’s story is interesting. And I know there are stories in there that I can pull out, but like, what do you tell to people who just feel overshadowed by those about pages where you just read it? And you’re like, oh my gosh, this could be a book about this person, right?

Like just about their life story, but maybe mine’s not so much.

Courtney: Yeah. You know, I have to be honest though, like, I feel like, so are you familiar with the brand archetypes? This is so cool. I love the brand archetypes so much. I’m actually just wrapping up a quiz. I’m creating hopefully I’ll be able to launch it soon, a quiz for people to figure out like what’s their brand persona.

And it’s based on the archetypes and the marketing style that’s most intuitive for them. And it got me back into like the archetype world. And I love the, every person, every man, every woman archetype, because I feel like these days people are navigating where they’re attracted more and more to the, every man rather than the hero.

Right. Like people actually just want to see like, oh, I’m normal person can do this. And I can too. Like, I’m going to work with a normal person who has a very realistic expectation. Yeah, not everyone needs to work with, with like the cream of the crop person who has their own like TV channel now. Like that’s just not for everybody.

And I think a lot of people feel like that’s actually inaccessible. They’d like to gawk at it, but they don’t necessarily feel like they’re worthy of working with that person. But if you just make people feel like, like I’m Gale, like I decided to take this leap. I took this leap of faith and, I built this business and, and now I’ve got these different aspects to my business, and I help people. I work one-on-one. And I also have these interests. I’m just a normal person, but I built something really cool. And I realized I’m really good at helping others, too. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t need to be like Oprah.

Galen: No. Yeah, I appreciate that. And I think we just get into that comparison phase of reading people’s amazing, like Instagram captions or, uh, about pages or other things, and you just hear these like amazing journeys, amazing stories. And you’re like, oh, how do I find that in my own life? But I like just finding.

Like, there can be power in everyday stories that just show that you’re dealing with the same things that we all are and that we can all, we’re all kind of going through it together. I think, I think that’s so, so powerful. What would you tell to somebody who, or how would you help somebody try to infuse more personality in their copy?

Because you know, some brands, it doesn’t work for some brands need to be a little bit more clean cut, but other brands can be super fun or could benefit from just really adding in that, um, personality. They’re, they’re real like how they talk personality into their website because you want, when somebody visits your website and then eventually gets on a call with you or gets to know you on Instagram stories or whatever it is like you want there to be that seamless experience where they feel like they’re getting to know you from your website copy. So how can people infuse that personality into their copy?

Courtney: I think a lot of it is getting comfortable with who you are. And that’s really hard because we don’t have a mirror. We’re not staring into a mirror all day. Like looking at ourselves, we are lost deep in our heads, and we cannot see ourselves. It is writing my own copy. Like, oh my God, it is the worst. It is so hard to do.

So, I think though, that something that has really helped for me and I was reflecting on this actually in anticipation for chatting with you today was the thing that helped me really figure out my voice is I started writing my newsletter. And it’s, you know, I don’t like, it’s not like you’re sitting down with me eating breakfast, but it is a quick catch-up about something funny that happened in my life before I then deliver a new resource to you.

And so just practicing, writing an email to my friend, like that’s how I sit down with my newsletters is I’m not writing to my newsletter list. I’m literally writing to my friend, Caroline. Has been really helpful because I type with, you know, like he was the word like, um, and I realized that that’s okay with my brain.

I don’t feel like it turns people off it’s right for me. So, I’m going to be able to kind of just have those colloquial words kind of sprinkled throughout. And so, I think if you sit down and write an email to the person that you’re trying to speak to, or just look back at, what are some of the email correspondences you’ve had with clients or prospects?

How are you coming across? Like sometimes we try and be uber formal when we’re coming, because we want to be very professional and we want people to know that I’m serious and like I’m serious, I’m worth the price point. But as you become a little bit more practiced in your business, and honestly, she starts to become a little busy.

You kind of let down that guard a little bit. And I think the newsletter for me was letting down that guard and not trying to be say the perfect thing because your website you’re like, I want to tell you the perfect words, but the newsletter is a little bit more like you know. Okay. I’m showing up today.

I’ve got something for you, but first let’s touch base real quick. And that was really helpful in figuring out what kind of things I tend to do when I talk to people to use certain words, do I have certain asides? Like, you know, like I’ll be saying something and then parenthesis. You know what I mean?

Or am I right? That can be right for your brand, or it cannot, um, start looking at other people. Like, I love to subscribe to other people’s newsletters because you can see how they write. Like, you can literally see what they’re doing. Like is it pretty straight forward? Is it very…?

Galen: You hear their voice in your head.

Courtney: You hear their voice.


Galen: As you read their words.

Courtney: Jenna Kutcher is so good at this because you are, you are sitting right next to her when you’re reading her emails and…

Galen: Together, chill.

Courtney: Exactly! It’s lovely. When you see people do that and she’s still like incredibly professional and she gets to the point, like everything wraps up with a nice little bow.

So, you realize, okay, we’re actually here to learn something or do something. But she didn’t put me off or put me on guard, like, okay, everybody places, everyone would get ready to read a newsletter. I think writing just journaling, writing, writing a letter is still helpful just to figure out who you are, because you want to put on a voice.

That’s the worst is when you’re like, I want to be seen as fun, yet professional. And you’re like, oh, that means nothing to me. No idea what that means in practice. So just writing, I think is helpful and not. Grammar making it perfect. Just write letters to people. Write in your diary journal. It’s the only way you can do it is through practice and time, honestly.

Galen: Oh, Yeah.

I always tell everyone to fire the five-paragraph essay, writing high school version of yourself, like they’re fired. They are not writing your website, that you’re not writing your emails like that person you need to let go of, and you need to move more. I mean, obviously you want to, you don’t want to have typos, if you can avoid it. You want to write clearly and concisely, but there is nothing wrong. It’s like a, it’s like art, right? You know, the rules of art, then you can break them and then you can go against the grain a little bit and pull in some things that are a little more fun if you’re breaking them on purpose and you’re breaking them, intentionally.

Courtney: Yeah.

Galen: I think that makes a huge difference. Well, Courtney, thank you So, much for sharing all of your word wisdom with us. Really appreciate you coming on here and chatting with us. Tell us where we can find more about you online.

Courtney: So, if you are looking just to check in with me on a personal level, there’s always my newsletter. You just subscribed by going to I have a number of different resources or freebies, and you know, the drill sign up for a freebie or a resource you get added to the newsletter.

Everyone knows how this works now. I’m also on Instagram at Big Picture Branding. And if you are looking for a way to, I don’t know, I love using Pinterest to collect resources and put them into my different folders so that I’ve got stuff on hand when I’m like looking for a certain helpful template or like, oh, accounting stuff is great on Pinterest, by the way, like, it’s, it’s an amazing treasure trove of things.

So, I’m also on Pinterest at Big Picture Branding . And I put all my resources out there so you can put them in a nice little Pinboard and have them your small business, small business board.

Galen: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much. It was so much fun chatting with you.

Courtney: I had a great time.

Galen: Thank you so much for listening in to this episode of the Intentional Creative Podcast. I really enjoyed this episode and the conversations that we had here. And if you did too, Courtney and I would love to know, come say hello over on Instagram, I’m at and Courtney’s at bigpicturebranding.

We’d like to connect with you, tag us in your story, send us a DM and let us know what your biggest takeaway was.

As always, don’t forget to subscribe and I’ll see you in the next episode.

About Courtney

As a brand strategist and copywriter for purpose-driven creatives, Courtney Fanning helps online entrepreneurs wrap their heads around what they’re trying to build to create differentiated messaging that resonates with their dreamboat clients. As the founder of Big Picture Branding, Courtney provides 1:1 client services as well as marketing and copywriting resources for online businesses. Courtney has worked with NYTimes bestselling authors, purpose-driven startups, multi-passionate multi-hyphenates, and ambitious dreamers alike to build a big picture strategy that turns their purpose into profit.

Follow Courtney on Instagram here.

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