In this episode, Matisse chats with web copy extraordinaire Maddy Aucoin about the nuances of copywriting for the web.
About Maddy Aucoin
A former higher-education professional, Maddy started her second business, By Maddy Aucoin, to help brands write copy without relying on sales gimmicks or overexaggerated claims.
Maddy is also deeply passionate about teaching other entrepreneurs how to market themselves authentically. Aside from guest speaking on numerous podcasts, she has taught many copywriting workshops for entrepreneurs, including for the PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise, PoliticsNOW, and the Build Your Brand conference.
Connect with her:
And welcome to another episode of PR & Lattes, where you can fill up your cup on everything PR and communications. I'm your host, Matisse Hamel-Nelis, and I am so thrilled to have you join me today for a brand new episode. Before we get started, make sure you subscribe to our podcast wherever you're listening to it now to get notified each week when a new episode drops. You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter by visiting our website prandlattes.com.
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On today's episode, I am chatting with copywriter extraordinaire Maddy Aucoin. A former higher education professional, Maddie started her second business, By Maddy Aucoin, to help brands write copy without relying on sales gimmicks or over-exaggerated claims. Maddie is also deeply passionate about teaching other entrepreneurs how to market themselves authentically. I am so thrilled to have her on today's episode where we talk about all things web copy in the world of public relations. So grab your latte, sit back and enjoy.
Thank you, Maddy, so much for being on today's episode. I am so excited to talk to you about all things copywriting, SEO, and all that fun jazz. But before we get into all the good stuff, tell the audience a little bit about yourself. Thank you so much for having me, Matisse. I'm so excited to be here today. I'm Maddie. I'm a copywriter, and I specialize in website copy that cuts the bullshit without cutting down your clients.
So there's a lot of copy out there that kind of shames and blames your clients, right? It's kind of like you're failing because you don't make a million dollars in your business, but I have the solution for you. All you need to do is buy my product. And so my job really is to help business owners realize they don't need to make people feel bad about themselves to sell. Instead I write copy that's empathetic, doesn't rely on these big bold claims, and just makes the audience feel really good about buying your product.
So I've been in freelance writing for a few years in different capacities, but February, 2022 was when I started officially copywriting and started my business by Matty O'Coyne. And before this, I had a product-based business and I noticed that there were so many small business owners who were really having a tough time articulating what made them different and really sharing their story. And I didn't know this until I got into marketing, but there were a lot of things about marketing
really normal and natural to me that just didn't necessarily come as naturally to other people. For example, I didn't know that brand storytelling was an actual marketing strategy until I learned about it. I just kind of thought like, oh, this is a marketing strategy. I've been doing this the whole time. So it just felt really easy and really normal and natural for me to connect with people through those written channels, whether it was Instagram or my website.
or my blog. And so I naively didn't understand why some of my friends were having a hard time. But in talking with more and more business owners, I understood that it was really tough for them to be able to connect with their audience in that way. And so I ended up closing that business in February, 2022 and opened my copywriting business, decided to focus on that full time instead. And I really just want business owners to
understand that I think we're taught this way of marketing that gets into our heads, thinking that we have to talk down to our audience and we have to present ourselves as an expert and as an authority in what we do. But kind of going back to the normal and natural for me, right? We're not geared that way normally and naturally, right? We're kind of taught this way of marketing. So I really want to help people get back to feeling good and feeling confident about
marketing themselves without feeling like they have to be that expert or that authority and without shaming or blaming their clients. For sure. And I think that goes back to like the traditional way of marketing where an advertising is like always be selling. Sure, yes. But there's a way of doing it that adds that personality and that storytelling component that really makes people want to connect.
versus like you said, getting talked down to. So I love that for you, that was just natural. You're like, this is my storytelling abilities were just natural. I just thought it was easy enough to do versus the shame on you. This is what you should be doing and I can help type version. Yeah. Yeah, I think, yeah, I think again, we're kind of indoctrinated into this world when we joined the business world, right? I think we start by thinking, you know, that all of this is just gonna kind of come together and the marketing is gonna feel good.
and we feel great about our product or our service. And I think over time, it's something that gets taught or we see it, right? I think when I started seeing it most was when I was on Instagram and I was seeing, you know, these big personalities or these big business owners on Instagram saying that this was kind of how you had to do the thing in business. But I really think that, you know, when something comes naturally to you, that is.
really where the best business happens. You can always really tell when something comes naturally to people and it feels good and it feels right. It feels normal for them as opposed to, you know, when you've got to push a little bit harder for it. Yeah, that's really my goal is to help people get back to that and to help people feel confident. It's kind of just a bonus that it comes pretty easily to me. Always a win when it's a bonus. Always a win.
So with attention spans shrinking, I know for example, my husband and I, we don't like even going to the movie theater because it's too long to be away from doing a thousand other things at the same time. Thinking like checking your phone, which is a sad state of affairs, but true. How do you find crafting compelling headlines and hooks keeps a visitor engaged for a longer period of time on a website?
You're actually the first person other than myself, I've ever heard, so that they don't enjoy going to the movie theaters because they want to be able to look at their phone or to do other things. My husband loves going to the movies, will put down his phone for the movies. I struggle with it. That's really funny. But yeah, it's kind of like that, right? Our attention spans are shrinking. It's interesting because on a side note, I think a lot of social media platforms have
been trying to keep people on the app longer and longer, right? Like that's kind of their end game. And so they've been introducing, you know, TikToks that are so many minutes more longer or reels that are longer. But I don't think that we're necessarily watching all of that content. So going back to the original question about headlines and hooks, I think the most important thing to remember is that you're thinking about your reader and your audience. You want them to stop when they're reading and think,
Oh my gosh, this is exactly me you're describing. You want them to read it or hear it and think, yes, this is exactly what I need. So when thinking about that, I really try to think about what they're looking for the most. What do they need to hear? What is actually going to help them and think, okay, yes, this is me. I need to continue reading because this is exactly describing me. Another trick for this is just to be clear and say,
exactly what you mean. This is something that I talk about all the time in copywriting is just being really clear, saying what you mean, using words that, you know, your target audience is going to understand. Because I think it's really easy to, you know, resort to tactics that we've, again, been taught on Instagram. This is something that we've learned, not necessarily something that we've come into this with. But I see a lot of things like hooks and headers that are
you know, stop scrolling or go to the caption to read this. But I think when everyone online is doing it, it feels a little bit less authentic and it feels like the tactic is made more obvious. And the best copywriting is when things don't feel obviously like it's marketing or trying to sell you something or in the case of a hook or especially on a reel or on content.
it makes it feel the best when you're just kind of naturally drawn into something and not being told what to do. So just thinking about what the reader actually is looking for, what do they want to hear and taking that and just being really clear and saying what you mean I think is the easiest way to stand out especially with this kind of oversaturated notion and idea of like stop scrolling or you know you need to hear this right it's yeah.
It sounds backwards, but it's almost easier now to stand out if you are not obviously marketing or obviously trying to sell someone something, right? You're just trying to help them. Yeah, no, that is so true. And I love how you brought up on social media in particular where folks are saying, read the caption for more or like read the caption now. Nowadays, when I see that, I don't even, I just continue scrolling. I just, I don't want to be.
I don't want to feel like I'm being sold something, even if they might not be selling it. That's the impression I now have from how many people have used it in organizations and brands that it's just, it's so gimmicky at this stage. Right. And so it's kind of like, but where's the authentic or storytelling or personable side of this versus just simply, you know, read more because then you'll want to buy what I have to sell you.
Yeah, like, yeah, I feel like it's almost like we've taken kind of that social aspect out of social media and that connection, which again, I don't think is our fault, right? Like I think it's this kind of social media industry that's pushing us to push our brands and push our businesses and to do the most. Yeah, but it is kind of tough to compete in that world if you're trying to use those same tactics. So again,
I'm kind of the same as you. If I see someone say like, read in the caption, I will not read your caption out of spite. I will, I am scrolling because I am spiteful. But yeah, I feel like it's just, yeah, that easiest, the easiest way to stand out is just to be a human. I feel like I hear that a lot from people who work in social media and are really focused on connection and, you know, actually helping your audience get to know you. But yeah, that's definitely my best tip is just to focus on that.
Now, on top of storytelling, a big part or a big thing that we see with web and people talking about it is SEO and SEO optimization. How do you find the balance between, you know, needing to be SEO optimized while creating that authentic human content for a website that isn't so, you know, as we were mentioning before, traditional marketing way? Yeah, I think this ties it kind of again. And so I think a lot of our conversation today is actually going to kind of
continue to tie into that human centric asset. But whenever I'm creating something, whether it's website copy for a client or writing a blog or creating anything really online, my goal is to get a person to read my content and find the answer they're looking for. If you are searching Google, you are looking for an answer. You're not looking for, you know, the number of times I've Googled something and the blog posts that I'm reading.
Seems like it's going to help me, but it doesn't. You know, it's just designed to keep me on the page. And sometimes it will link to another blog post. So I keep reading and staying on their website, but I'm not getting the answer. And that's really frustrating. So we have to remember that SEO is obviously for accessibility, but we also want to help people who need your content to find it. We wanna focus on the audience and the person who's finding that content first.
and what they need and focus on the SEO and the keywords from there. So when I'm writing, my brain is kind of like, okay, what is my ideal audience searching for? What are the questions that they have on this topic? And how can I help them with what they need? And then after that, after I'm done creating that content, I'm thinking about the SEO, I'm thinking about what things are they going to search to be able to find that content?
People want to stay on your site and they want to learn from you. So I think it's really important to make it easy for them to stay on your website, to continue to learn from you instead of keyword stuffing, which if anyone listening to this is not familiar with SEO, it's basically when you do a bunch of keyword research, you find a bunch of keywords and you just kind of throw them in your content. It feels really awkward, really clunky, but basically the goal is to try to get you to rank with SEO.
But if people are staying on your website for longer and they're finding your content more valuable, if you're actually serving and focusing on the person and what they need, they're going to stay on your website for longer, which is better for your SEO and for your optimization than if they're popping on your website and they discover this blog post with just keywords everywhere and they're not getting their answer. So really just focusing on
that person, your audience who is reading that content, help them find the answers that they're looking for, and then focus on adding some strategic keywords here and there that are related to your content to help people find your content, and then help them find that answer that they're looking for. That's a great point, and knowing your audience and what they're looking for, how have you helped, or how do you go about helping a business understand who their target audience is? I know sometimes businesses will say,
anybody can access us and should be able to access us. But really, you know, there are those buyer personas, if you will, how do you help them sort of bring it down to that level so that the copy really resonates with who their ideal client would be? This is a really fun question, I really like this. So yes, you've talked about buyer personas, some if you aren't familiar with that, sometimes they're also called ideal client avatars or ICAs.
So essentially it's who you are looking to speak to with your content or your copy. It's the person that you're trying to sell to, whether that's a product or a service or who you're trying to work with. So essentially for my clients and for myself, the most important thing to do is research, which I know the concept of market research makes some business owners get nervous or they start to sweat a little bit, but I promise it's not as...
painful as it seems, especially if you have a semi established business already, or you have kind of a business model in mind, it's a little bit easier to go about that. So it's really just thinking about number one, obviously thinking about who your ideal audience would be. It's a combination of things like I think people typically think it's the things like, you know, what is their age? What is their gender? Where do they live? Which is part of it.
part of it. But another part is the bigger part, I would say, is thinking more about what your audience is thinking, what they need, what they're looking for, how your solution can really help them. So if you're an established business, I think an important part of this is really just looking at the industry that you work in and thinking about the clients or the audience that you're already working with, right? Where are people finding you?
Are they finding you online? If you're a local business, how are people finding you that way? Are they finding you online? Are they, you know, walking past your store? What do the people who are buying from you have in common? Are they looking for a specific outcome? And are they, you know, within a certain age range, right? Some businesses and some business models, it's a little bit tougher to...
Determine that ideal client. For example, if you're a brick and mortar store and you carry, you know a variety of goods It's going to be a little bit tougher to determine a very specific ideal client just because There are so many possibilities for right who could walk in your door But I think as a whole it is so much easier to market Especially when you are focused on those ideal client avatars, even if you have to create a few
So for example, for myself and for my clients, especially service-based clients that I've worked with recently, it's easier to create a few ideal clients who will purchase ideally a specific product or service. So for example, people who are just starting out in their entrepreneurial journey probably don't need my full-blown website copy package and brand messaging, right? So they're not my ideal target audience. They would be...
potentially my ideal target audience for a slightly smaller offer, potentially an audit or something of that nature. So it's really just thinking about the products or the offer that you are creating and thinking who needs this product, who is buying this product or service right now? What do those people have in common? And what are the things that I need to communicate with them for them to be able to buy?
And I think the most important thing, and the last thing that I'll say about this, because I don't wanna go on for too long, although I truly could. Love it. Is that I think it's so important to remember that ideal client avatars or buyer personas are not necessarily prescriptive of the people you will serve. I think it is so easy to try to reduce people to, you know.
this thing that we've created on paper with their age and their gender identity and their location and what they're going to purchase from you. But we have to remember that oftentimes it's just kind of an educated guess and there are going to be people who don't fit into that persona who want to work with you or who want to buy with you. So it's really tempting sometimes to just kind of stick with that and to follow it to a T, but just remember that it's okay if people who aren't your ideal.
client avatar or buyer persona are buying from you. And it's also okay to shift it and change it over time to meet those market needs, right? It's so normal and natural that your business shifts and moves over time. So yeah, just making sure that you're continuously updating those to think about who you're serving and how you can best serve them, I think is so important. What would you recommend be sort of the timeframe to start looking and potentially revising?
those buyer personas or avatars? I would say if it feels really hard in terms of marketing, if you feel like you're putting out content or you're creating blog posts and you really just feel like they're not hitting the same as they used to, as the youth would say, but that would definitely be a reason that I would re-look at those buyer personas.
You could also do it on an annual basis if you really feel like your business is newer specifically because when your business is younger or if there are big pivots happening in your industry or in the world, for example, a pandemic, not that we would know anything about that, but yeah, I think if you are experiencing slower growth than you've seen before, obviously
Growth can be slower in certain seasons, but I do think it's valuable sometimes to look at your buyer personas and see if they're fully accurate, or if there are pivots that you need to be making in your business due to business circumstances or world circumstances. I think those are always great opportunities to be able to look at those buyer personas, see who's purchasing from you, and see what those people have in common, and potentially make tweaks to what you're selling, or your business model.
It's a really great way to be able to predict who's going to purchase from you and to be able to keep your business going at a really steady rate. Awesome, awesome. That's a great, I feel like that's a great way of thinking of it. Whenever you start to see maybe a dip or something that's not as consistent to then evaluate or reevaluate at that time. Yeah, because like you said, there are peak seasons and then not so great seasons.
But if you can evaluate and see what you could be doing a bit better or tailoring those avatars a little bit more or buyer personas a bit more, then you're always helping yourself and your business grow. I think that's a great tip. Thank you. Yeah. Marketing is always an experiment. That's kind of my perspective on it. And I think it's so important to not be too tied to...
something that, you know, it's, you're not sure if it's going to work and it's easy to feel like, okay, I'm doing this next thing, right? I'm changing my buyer personas. I'm getting on Instagram. I'm trying this new Pinterest strategy. That's really easy to be tied to that and think like, this is going to work, but it's an experiment and it's okay if it doesn't work. I think this also ties back into marketing in general and how
We feel like something is really going to take and it doesn't necessarily take, but I feel the same way about website copy because it's so easy to think, okay, I've optimized my website copy, I've created something that I think my LDL client is really going to like. And it's okay to go back and ask your copywriter if you've hired a copywriter to go back and to tweak things if you think things aren't working the way that they should, right?
Copywriting and marketing in general is always an experiment. It kind of goes back to that idea that your ideal client avatars aren't prescriptive of who is actually going to buy from you all the time, right? There are going to be outliers. So again, marketing in general is not prescriptive. So it's okay to try things and it's okay to experiment and see what works. That's fantastic. And sometimes I find that people come up and say, well,
You know, this client or this customer or brand or organization, I should say, are doing this, that, the other, and I want to do the exact same thing, but really their businesses are, or industries are completely different. How do you handle the approach of working with different industries and audiences and how do you adapt your style to give them what they're looking for, but differently because there are different industries and different target audiences.
Yes, this is such a great question. I really like this because this is such a big part of copywriting in general. Especially with my role as a copywriter, some copywriters prefer to kind of stay within certain niches or within certain tones of voice, which is totally fair, right? Certain web designers like to stay within their lane, if you will, and design certain kinds of websites and website copywriters like to do the same. I'm always up for a fun challenge.
I like working with many different industries, with people of different ages and different backgrounds. And so obviously the voice and the style and the target audience is so different when I'm writing for, you know, the fun 20 something girl who does Debsato setups and helps coaches with their operations versus the couple who owns a home improvement store that's been in the family for so many years.
And just to be clear, those are two clients that I've had at the exact same time and wrote very different things for both of them. The number one thing that I always suggest to people is to create a swipe file. So for me, this is a little bit of a different explanation than what an actual copy swipe file is, but I took the term and put my own little spin on it. So for me personally, what I do with my clients is I create a file.
after going through everything that exists for the brand online. So studying their website, studying their captions, looking through the information that they've provided me and what they have told me about, you know, what feels good for them, what feels good for their brand, how they wanna sound, how they want their customers to feel. Then looking through all of the emojis, the punctuation they use.
Do they like to use bold or italics? Do they use capitals? All of those tiny little things that I think we often overlook because we're so close to our own business that we don't realize what we're using or what we're doing. And so I take all of that information and I put it in one document to have it whenever I'm creating content or copy for a client because it is so much easier to put yourself in that mindset.
of the client when you're looking at, you know, this is what they've already written. This is how they sound. People are either A responding to it well or B not responding to it. So how can we look at what they've already done and stay true to that voice and that tone that they've created and also make sure that we are working with that target audience and ensuring that they are really enjoying it. And I think
Another big part of that process, aside from doing research with, you know, everything the brand is already doing online, is doing a little bit of my own research. So something that I do when I'm trying to identify that target audience for my clients, and this makes you a little bit weird, but something that I like to do is I like to think about someone that I know or someone in their target audience and kind of humanize it a little bit.
So for example, you have a client who owned a hardware store, a local hardware store and thinking about the content that they'd share and looking at their target audience that they had shared with me and the research that I did, their target audience ideally would be someone like my parents. So thinking about my parents, thinking about where they consume content, thinking about what they like to hear about, thinking about the questions that they have.
that helps me personify it a little bit and really get into that target audience's head and to really think about what they need is going to make it easier than, you know, seeing a picture on the internet and trying to ascribe certain things to them. So that's definitely one of my biggest tips is to try to humanize the target audience as much as you can, whether it's, you know, thinking about someone that you know,
going through your clients or your own target audience and just really trying to get a better understanding of who they are, what they do, what they need, what their struggles are, and that's really going to help you really adapt your tone and style for different industries. Do you find that when you're writing copy, you often now also cater to mobile devices and what you see on a phone, or do you find that the copy, no matter how it's written and displayed on a website,
works for both? It's definitely changed, especially with mobile browsing. I know for me, I mostly browse on my phone. My phone is always with me. But I think more than ever, especially websites that are catered for younger users, I would say like, obviously, my grandparents are definitely not browsing things on their phone, but for...
I would say like Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and everything that is after Gen Z. I don't know what they're called anymore. I think it's Gen Alpha, actually. I think so, yeah. You know what I think of it. But anyways, I think it ties into our attention span too, as we were talking about earlier, and how we're just tired, we don't wanna do a lot of work, because there is so much on the internet that we're looking at every day.
And so I think the most important thing that has kind of evolved out of this is just making it easy. It's really easy in my opinion, to make things complicated for our audience, even if we don't think that we are making it complicated, but if you're seeing a giant paragraph on someone's website, on your phone, it's something that's taking up your entire screen and you're probably not going to read it. So.
The number one thing I would suggest, especially for if you're thinking about mobile use of your website is just toggling over to the mobile view, which you can do on most website builders and just looking, okay, am I seeing a giant paragraph here? So just making it really clear in your headers, what that section is about and making sure you share the most important information first.
People are coming to your website because they want to know what you offer. They don't want to have to scroll all the way to the bottom to figure it out. So just being really clear, using headers that are really clear and make it really obvious and sharing the most important information first is definitely how you can start to create a more mobile optimized website. Awesome. Um, when we're thinking about
web copy and whether it's on mobile or anything, just web copy in general. We've already talked about the concept of stepping away from traditional marketing tactics of, you know, sort of shame your client and then say, you're the expert. But how do you craft calls to actions or CTAs to resonate and drive action if we're avoiding sort of the, I'm the expert and you should talk to me. Yeah, I think, I feel like a lot of my website copy tips are just
But I think, again, it's kind of understated, is just make it really easy and make it really clear. This is something that I emphasize a lot because I think oftentimes, going back to that idea of being the expert, I think when we're creating our own copy, we think if we present ourselves as the expert, then people will want to work with us or people will want to buy with us.
Which is true in a way, but if someone can't necessarily understand what you're saying, or if your call to action isn't clear, it's going to be very difficult for them to be able to work with you or to purchase from you or to take an action. So make it easy. Tell the person what they need to do.
focus on clarity first, and then you can throw in some personality. And my next biggest tip is just to focus on the website journey and thinking about where you want the reader to go. I know that is such like a thing that people don't often talk about with Call to Actions. It's mostly just focusing on the copy. But if, for example, you're creating your website and you have...
the header on your website, right? The big text that people see when they hop on your website for the first time, it should go, your call to action there should go to the most important place on your website. And it needs to be clear where you're sending them, right? You're, you know, at the header of your website, you're not going to send them to your contact page, or sorry, your about page. You're not going to send them to...
Um, your FAQs page, you're going to send them to maybe your shop or to look at your services or to your contact or inquiry page. So you really, when you're creating call to actions, number one, you really have to think about making it easy, telling them exactly what they need to do, um, and keeping it short. So for example, saying book now sounds much more easy and much more effective than
look at our services and book now, right? So just keep it short, keeping it easy and making it really clear where they are going to go with that action. Cause sometimes people don't wanna be curious and see where they're gonna go if the call to action isn't there. So make it easy, tell them what they need to do, keep it short and send them to the most important place that they can go, focus on that journey, create a journey for them instead of, you know, sending them somewhere.
random and hoping that it sticks. Now how do you feel that AI platforms like ChatGPT have sort of impacted the copywriting realm and where do you see that going in the future when it comes to website copywriting? Do you think people are going to just say, oh, I can do it myself? Or will it be, no, I still go to the professionals who know it like yourself, but perhaps the professionals use it for some ideation or navigation assistance?
Yeah, I've already seen, interestingly enough, I've seen some folks in the online space who are copywriters or designers who have pivoted to AI and teaching people how to use AI in order to write their copy or do graphic design or design their website, which I think is really interesting. Actually, it's something that I wasn't expecting. I was expecting a lot of people to, especially
AI is not going to take my job. I'm going to be good forever. I think in some ways, one of the best things about AI is that especially for newer entrepreneurs, it can help level that playing field. They don't have especially when you're new and you're starting out, you don't have a lot of time normally, you don't have a ton of money to pour into website copyrighting.
And I will tell anyone who is just starting a business, do not spend your money on expensive copywriting because your idea and your product or your service is going to pivot over time. So definitely wait for that. But I do think that hopefully larger brands will continue to leverage professional copywriters in order to stand out. I think that so many larger brands especially are continuing.
to use professional copywriters instead of AI because they know the power that really good human copy has. I think there are ways that you can leverage it and there are ways that you can use it on your website, especially if, again, you are a newer entrepreneur or if there's something that you really need specific help with.
that you just need something up and ready and you can tweak it from there. But I do think that hopefully it is going to make it a little bit easier for people who are just starting out, which is really great. And I'm hopeful that in the future, the AI technology will continue to improve in a way that's not infringing on creative work. I know that's been a really big concern for folks is that-
essentially AI pulls from what's already on the internet and potentially could be plagiarism if it's organized in a way and just pulling from those ideas for content created for other people. So we'll definitely see. I think it will be interesting to see how that kind of unfolds. But yeah, I think the thing I was definitely the most surprised about was people starting to offer AI services, which hopefully that
works really well and hopefully people start to take advantage and work a little bit with it because I think it definitely has potential. But in terms of replacing copywriters or designers, I don't necessarily think that that's a fair claim to make, but who knows? We'll see. That's fair. I was just getting more so curious, what were your thoughts on it? Because I know there's really two definitive schools of thought.
One, we're embracing it, we're learning how to incorporate it, not necessarily to do the job, but maybe for ideation purposes. And then the other school of thought, which is like, this is the devil, take it away. It's terrible for creatives and that sort of thing. So I love your thoughts on it. So thank you for sharing that. One big thing I actually wanted to ask that doesn't relate to AI, but you touched on it a little bit in terms of design and with copy and that sort of thing.
When a business hires a copywriter like yourself, for example, to create copy, how important is it for them to also connect you with the web developer or designer to ensure that the copy and design go hand in hand? It's really important. I think a little known fact about copy and design is that most people think that you hire a website designer first and then the copywriter
writes the copy on top of the website to kind of fit in what the designer has created, which can work. It's worked before. I've done it before. It's, you know, you kind of work with what you've got. But traditionally, when you're designing a site from scratch, copy actually becomes before the design because the way that things are written have a huge impact on how something looks.
many of my website designer friends who have had a hard time either understanding the copy that they get from clients or from copywriters who they don't necessarily like have their connection their communication back and forth you know figured out yet which obviously it's a learning process but essentially that it can be tough sometimes as a website designer to
the strategy and to understand the formatting if they're just getting, you know, a Google doc with potentially little to no formatting on it. And especially if you're not a website designer, you probably don't know that, or a copywriter. So anyways, so when you're writing copy, copy has a strategy and you really are writing it with the design in mind. You're thinking about the flow of the website and you're thinking about where things are going to go. And in terms of working with a designer,
it's really important to people to have connection with that designer and be able to chat back and forth with that designer because two different people could have the same document and interpret it very differently, which is very, very normal, very human, right? It's, it's like, if we both saw the same picture, we might have different interpretations of it. So, yeah. So it's really important to people to kind of go back and forth on things. And I think, especially what we talked about earlier in terms of
experimentation, it's really cool to be able to work with a designer and people, you know, to hear their thoughts and to hear them say, you know, this either works or this doesn't work. Is there a way that we can tweak the copy a little bit on this? Because I have this really cool idea. And I think that this would look great. And it's, you know, it kind of goes both ways. So it's really nice to be able to work with those designers and to work with those developers to make sure that the copy and the design.
work together perfectly instead of, you know, potentially feeling like they're, they're a little bit mismatched. So it's really cool to be able to kind of create those relationships with, with designers and other creatives and see also how their business works and how their brain works. It's really cool. I love that. I love that. And, and it's so very true. The copy does come first. As I've mentioned on other episodes, my husband is a web developer or web designer, and he's always thinking, well, is the copy written first?
So I know what I'm designing around versus the other way around, which I think is such a misconception. So I love that you flagged that because it's so, so true. You can't create something if you don't know what's being said. Right. Exactly. So what would you say for aspiring website copywriters or copywriters in general who are listening in, what would be your top three tips or advice that you would offer them to excel in the field?
I would say going back to website designers, my first piece of advice would be to get to know website designers, obviously for referrals, but one of the most underrated things I think is to get that insight as to what's helpful for them as a website designer receiving copy. I got invited into this.
group a while ago that happens to be all website designers. I don't know how I made my way into this group, but I secretly love it. And we chat every week. We meet on a Zoom call when we co-work every Monday. It's great. And one of my favorite things about the call is that, number one, I get to see their process as a designer. I think that's really interesting, but they've given me that insight as to what they like to receive from copywriters. It's helped me figure out how to format.
my own copy decks in an even better way and to provide an even better experience for a designer and to be able to just work collaboratively with them and figure out what works. So that's one of my favourite things is just to get to know website designers. They make great friends and they always have fun and great advice. My second piece of advice is with client experience. And that is just to be flexible.
I think I'm actually doing a webinar later this week with a friend about red flag clients and how online it's a lot of discussion. I think recently, especially this online culture of talking about clients as red flags and that everything they do is a red flag, which I don't think is true. But being flexible and not even in terms of your schedule, but in terms of your process. So one thing I learned early on.
is about accessibility and how it really matters in terms of your process. Right. So I've had clients who, for example, I've had clients who have had learning disabilities and it has been tough for them to be able to potentially answer questionnaires, you know, their brain just doesn't work that way. And so it's really important to me to, you know, be able to have that flexibility and say, if you don't want to answer that questionnaire or you can't answer that questionnaire, or it feels more comfortable for you.
to do something else and to get your brain into my Google Doc in a different way, then we'll hop on a call and you brain dump for an hour and I will make notes. It matters when you do that kind of stuff and people notice those touches and it just makes, honestly, it makes the client experience great, but it also makes your experience as a person better because you're getting to learn their...
magic and what makes their business special, even if it's not the original format, right? Even if it's not a questionnaire, that's okay. I got to talk to someone for an hour and it was great. So definitely just being flexible, being accommodating. Clients aren't trying to necessarily try your patience when they're asking for things. It's okay to be flexible. And my last piece of advice is in terms of style.
I talked, I think a little bit earlier in this episode about how some writers have a very specific style they like to stay in. I consider myself a little bit of a chameleon, I guess. So I go a little bit everywhere, but I think you're a better writer if you establish what clients you do and what clients you don't like working with. So I know that my voice and my writing style doesn't always make super formal.
really professional writing pop to its best ability. I can do my very best and I can work with the client, but I also know that sometimes it's okay to refer to another copywriter if it's more so their style. And it's okay to know your own limitations, especially if the client's going to be in better hands with someone else. It's okay to know that and it's okay to...
embrace that and to work with the clients that you, you know, match your style and you're excited to write for them because you know, you have the perfect words and the perfect style of mine. So those are definitely the three things that I would recommend if you are looking to get into copywriting, focusing on that flexible client experience, getting to know those website designers and really honing in on your style. Love that. Love that. And finally, it has been an
absolute pleasure chatting with you today, Maddie. But I have to ask, given that this is PR and lattes, what is your go-to caffeinated beverage to get you through the day while you're working on your coffee? Well, this is a bit of a cop out because I stopped drinking caffeine a year ago. Mostly just because it made me a little bit too on edge and made it hard to type because I would just be a little bit jittery. But when I do drink caffeine...
I love a good chai latte. They are my favourite. And I used to drink them, if you drink caffeine, I used to drink them with a blonde espresso shot in them. And I definitely recommend it's called a dirty chai if you like ask for anywhere, but you can also just say a chai latte with a blonde espresso shot. And they are so freaking good. So I would definitely recommend that if you are a caffeine lover.
Love that. I'm going to have to try that. That sounds delicious. Yes. Delicious. Well, again, thank you so much, Maddie, for being on today's show and chatting with me about all things copywriting and web copy. It has been fantastic. I've learned a lot and I hope the listeners have as well. If anybody wants to get in touch with you or follow you on social media, where can they find you? Thank you so much for having me. This was so great. I had a lot of fun. If you are interested in hanging out with me online.
I'm always on Instagram and my handle is @ByMaddyAucoin. And you can also visit my website at www.bymaddyaucoin.com. Amazing. Thank you so much again, Maddy. Thank you so much. You've been listening to the PR and Lattes podcast. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you can get notified each week when a new episode drops. You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter by visiting our website, prandlattes.com.
On the website you'll find our podcast episodes as well as amazing blogs with new ones being posted every Monday morning. And of course make sure to follow us on social, on Instagram at @PRAndLattes and on LinkedIn. I've been your host Matisse Hamel-Nelis, thank you so much for listening and we'll see you next week with a new latte and guest. Bye for now!