Feminist copywriting is rooted in trust (and, a little thing we like to call consent).
So, how do you build that trust, *without* it feeling like just another marketing tactic?
Well, in the (remixed) words of a certain MTV reality show—
You need to stop marketing to people, and start getting real.
Seriously. That’s the whole About page. BE HUMAN, and treat your readers like humans. G’byeeee!
(What if that was really my whole About page? 😂)
Here’s the thing…
The current systems of internet marketing—and, by extension, traditional copywriting practices—are steeped in formulaic sales funnels, agenda-driven “content marketing,” and persuasive selling tactics designed to play on our psychological & social triggers.
(Like: hammering the pain points. Creating & maintaining a hierarchical, authority figure / neophyte dynamic. False scarcity / urgency. Shame-y, mindset-y, high pressure sales calls. And my favorite—overriding consent.)
And you know what?
I’m putting them all on blast.
These systems have been passed down through generations of digital marketers (so in Internet time, that’s what, like ten years?) and they’re largely accepted as standard practice. A.K.A, the Way We Do Things.
That’s one reason why even the most well-intentioned thought leaders and business owners engage in these tactics, even though they feel low-key icky about it the whole time.
(Another reason is that they’re convinced that these existing systems are the only effective way to get conversions, which is not true.)
Long before I ever learned about a thing called Feminist Copywriting, I chafed at all the cocky, smarmy dudes I had to learn copywriting from.
(Except Ash Ambirge. She was cool.)
Not only was I deeply offended by the misogynistic examples used in these trainings (I watched one Digital Marketer presentation where they unironically compared marketing to being a pickup-artist, ew), and outright horrified by Ryan Holiday’s book Trust Me I’m Lying, and even MORE horrified that this was required reading at my first-ever writing job…
I was disheartened by watching conference rooms full of white men (and, okay, the occasional corporate-looking white woman), laughing and clapping as a self-proclaimed “ninja” pranced around the stage talking about customers as if they were things, scribbling nonsense on a whiteboard, and treating “emotions” like a revolutionary set of keys designed to unlock wallets.
But even more than that, I was super bummed to find that none of this writing was any good.
It felt shouty, and hard.
It felt condescending and cruel.
And, worst of all, there was no craft.
When conversion rates and ROI’s are more important than the human on the other end of the screen, and “giving value” is just another tactic to compel your reader to BUY something...
Your writing becomes compromised.
Your readers can tell when you have an agenda or ulterior motive. (They're not stupid.)
They stop trusting you, and if they don’t trust you, they’ll NEVER invest in you.
But! When your own talent, expertise, and/or signature service are on offer, or you’re working to upend some stodgy status quo—your brand has a longer, deeper, and far more necessary “know-like-trust” cycle than a product-centric business, or, say, Justin’s Peanut Butter.
(I live for upending the status quo. And those little dark chocolate peanut butter cups.)
That’s because what you’re asking is a lot higher-stakes than the grand they’ll spend on a mattress they can send back if they choose to, or the realization that they like their old peanut butter better.
You’re asking them to embrace their unique story, skills, & life experience, and use it to teach others—believing in themselves (and in you) enough to show up and make sh*t happen.
(Danielle Leslie, Course From Scratch)
You’re asking them to show you how utterly crap they are at managing their money, and all the shame and ugly frustration that goes with it.
(Lynne Somerman, Financial Coach)
You’re asking them to honor their heritage, love their bodies, and embrace differences—all by choosing your leggings over somebody else’s.
(Ngozi Opara, CultureFit Clothing)
You’re asking them to hitch their wagon to your groundbreaking method for treating chronic and severe pain—even though your industry is full of intimidating legal barriers and blustery detractors.
(Chuck Duff, Coaching the Body)
You’re asking them to drop $4,000, take two weeks off work, and travel to a remote country with 14 strangers—OR, pay a monthly fee for access to insider travel tips they may or may not be able to Google for free.
(Zim Flores, Travel Noire & Compass™)
Building this kind of trust is a loooong game—and the faster and crazier the Internet gets, the longer it’s going to get.
But there’s an even bigger ask on the table, and it’s the very first transaction you’ll have with every single reader who joins your list…
Their time. Their attention. Their giving a shit.
Their freaking contact info.
Right off the bat you need to establish that you respect, value, and honor these gifts (because they *ARE* gifts).
That you’re not going to squander them on some warmed-over content they can find somewhere—anywhere—else, or constantly ask-ask-ask them to do things. (PSA: asking them to click a link in order to read the rest of your blog post counts as an ask. And it's unnecessary.)
When you treat your reader like a number, and every interaction is driven by an agenda to monetize them, and every communication is just one more tactic to move them deeper into your sales funnel…
They can tell.
And just like that, your words will have lost all their power.
They won’t unsubscribe, or send you a displeased email about it, or unfollow you on Instagram.
They’ll just stop caring. They'll ignore you.
Not with a bang but a whimper.
The trick to all of this, of course, is knowing all! that! stuff! and STILL managing to create content that's fresh and real and vulnerable—but also, still converts.
a talented storyteller who
understands the principles of effective copy but
doesn’t believe in manipulating people and
knows that email marketing is a long game (engagement metrics > dollar signs) and
who expertly weaves these ideas together in
every piece of copy she writes while
utterly nailing your voice
You gotta know the rules to break the rules.
^^some apologetic horseshit I put on the first version of this page, so you would still take me seriously.
(In other words, "I may have this whole other methodology, but I want you to know I still studied with all the dude-bros, just in case you were worried that I don’t know my shit.")
I had this whole story here about how Picasso was classically trained before he started in with the Cubist boobs—and how, much like Picasso, I too was “classically trained” before I decided to start calling out the predatory, patriarchal practices I saw in the copywriting world and start doing things MY way.
But here’s the problem with that.
What this whole vibe implies is that the dude-bros (and their exploitative methods) are still the standard by which we measure success & expertise. It makes me implicit in their tactics, even as I rail against them.
Not to mention that whole other thing—trying to soften my edges and/or qualify my point of view, in case there’s a man reading this and he doesn’t like it. 🙄
So, bye bye Picasso. You were a misogynist fucker anyway.
(I will, however, keep this CTA down here, because real talk, I don’t know how to edit it without breaking my site. Also, it’s clever and I like art.)
Yes, I’m about to compare myself to Picasso.
Join my email cult to see what else I’ll say...
So here’s what I want you to know: Anyone can parrot André Chaperon, rip off Marie Forleo’s B-school emails, or plug-n-play a Jeff Walker launch sequence...
But when we all follow the same “rules,” steal the same templates, and default to the same “tried and true” selling methods, guess what happens?
Everything on the Internet ends up sounding exactly the same—stilted, shouty, fake, and tone-deaf.
(Not to mention, boring as hell.)
What I bring to the table is—hold onto your butts!—empathy. Storytelling. Translating your Big Ideas into emails that connect with the humans on the other side of the screen.
That, and an unrelenting commitment to the actual craft of writing.
Because if you don’t give a shit about the writing itself, you can’t deliver emails that are worth your readers’ time. You’ll just ANNOY them, like everyone else in their overcrowded inbox.
Well. I do give a shit about the writing…
I give ALL the shits. (heheh)
(And yes, I also understand the intricacies of email marketing, I’ve worked on multiple 6- and 7-figure launches, and I’m currently wrangling one client’s list of nearly 400k contacts (🤯). I have plenty of street cred if that's what you’re looking for.)
Some professional things...
My first two writing gigs (2015-2016) were in-house, full-time positions at two very different startups.
Both gave me access to all the courses and trainings and Internet marketing methods a fledgling copywriter could ask for, AND I got to touch every single piece of copy that could ever exist in an online business—website copy! Facebook ads! exit pops! sales letters! webinar scripts!
And so. many. freaking. emails.
I started freelancing on the side in 2015, and after some paternalistic, sexist employers fired me in 2016 (I think we all saw that one coming, no?) I went full-time and never looked back.
(Now *I* get to fire people. Especially: paternalistic sexists.)
My first big client was Zim Flores, founder of Travel Noire, and the work she and I did together was basically the prototype for Cult of Personality™.
Right now, I’m the Head Copywriter for Danielle Leslie, creator of Course From Scratch, where I've contributed to multiple 6- and 7-figure launches, including her first #MillyMonth in June 2020.
Some personal things...
I worked in the service industry for ten years, then spent another decade in the fitness/wellness industry, about which I have many complicated feelings. In 2010 I attended a "nutrition school"—which I now suspect is an actual cult—and started a health coaching business that I absolutely hated.
Fun fact—that “failed” business is how I realized I was really a writer all along.
I have a very GenX, eyeroll-y relationship with social media, and feel conflicted about my participation in the Zuckerverse.
^^That grey area between taking a stand! and being a contrarian asshole for no reason? Basically where I live 24/7.
There are little nods to Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and other cult classics all throughout this website design, and I love it.
I am half Armenian, 100% from Cleveland, 20% Bostonian, and now I live in the mountains in Asheville, NC. (Hey, I'm a writer, not a mathematician.)
More than once, I’ve slipped an (ahem, completely spot-on) Lord of The Rings reference into a client’s copy, and more than once, they made me take it out. Booo.
Emails for cult thought leaders.
Want to learn how to craft emails that inspire action and engagement WITHOUT the “tried and true” (cough: patriarchal) norms we’ve all been taught?
I’m doing it, and I can show you how to do it, too.
(But sometimes, I also like to write about the books I’m reading, or the creative process, or the entrepreneurial experience, or why I hate Steve Jobs, or how I met my BFF. I’ll send you emails like that, too.)
*Just kidding. It’s only an email list.
Books. Cats. Rants. Drawrings.
(and every couple months or so, an unexplained absence 🤷🏻)