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Joanna Wiebe had built the preeminent copywriting service in the business over the years in Copyhackers.
They worked with exciting brands. Commanded a premium. Joanna herself is a highly-sought after speaker at events like INBOUND, Mozcon, Call-to-and Action Conference, just to name a few.
But her influence is actually even more expansive than that.
She’s inspired a ton of content marketers to venture off on their own under the umbrella of “conversion copywriting.”
The term, conversion copywriting, was one that Wiebe had not only coined, but also personified in her work for companies like Buffer, Wistia, Invision, Shopify, and many more.
In working with so many teams over the years, Wiebe identified an even bigger problem–the seemingly unsolvable chaos that often surrounds the writing process.
In early 2017, she launched Airstory to help to solve it.
Wiebe acknowledged how seemingly foolish it seemed. To quote Wiebe, “To some people, it will look like a copywriter is trying her hand at SaaS. And all the head-patting that comes with that. ‘Oh, Lord, why don’t we just stick to our knitting?'”
In short, because Wiebe knows the space, and the craft, better than most.
I recently caught up with Wiebe to talk about these early days of Airstory, the challenges of starting up, what’s worked so far, and how they’re planning to scale and convert users going forward.
Below are some of my favorite soundbites from our conversation.
Answering the same questions again and again for people and realizing the answers you were giving were a lot of workarounds, like ‘Just hack these 7 different tools together and you’ll be fine.’
What we don’t talk about a lot on Copyhackers is content creation. Our biggest clients at Copyhackers, the big six-figure projects, were always content.
We did a lot of content strategy and overseeing the content production for a lot of different clients. We never really talked about that stuff so no one really knew that was going on except for these clients that we had. And what we were teaching them was how we write blog posts, in particular, and blog posts that extend into any long-form content you’re going to write, like an ebook.
So clients were engaging us for like $40k to write an ebook. That’s a pretty fair chunk of change. All we would do is say, ‘okay we need these resources and we’re going to organize them in this way.
We weren’t doing magic. It’s not “writerly”, we’re not writing a novel here. We’re constructing content that will help build the brand the way the client wants to.
So we were already doing this stuff, but we were hacking stuff together. Take things from Evernote here, or use this clipper from over here, and then you start copying and pasting here, and here, here….
So what we decided to do was build the product we were talking about having for ourselves.
That was really good for us because I write a lot of long-form for copywriting, content creation, for my fun little novel writing on the side–so it was a kind of scratch your own itch while also scratching the itch of our clients.
On positioning in the space
“Because we’re up against the world’s biggest businesses, like Microsoft and Google, of course there’s this pressure to at least match what they have. We’ve had to deal with that tension of, ‘well we don’t want to build what they’ve built.’
I feel that we’ve been pretty decent, not great, but pretty decent at going through all the stuff that people are saying that we should do and choose the ones that make the most sense.
That largely has to do with not just listening to our users, who don’t know what our vision is, but tempering that with our vision, with the product we want to build and the company and brand we want to have.”