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EPISODE 89: STABLE: Build a Strategic Writing Business

by Jun 7, 2022Podcast, Thought Leadership

Does your writing business have an offer strategically designed to keep you in your zone of genius AND fill your clients’ needs?

We are hosting a free challenge for freelancers and content creators, kicking off on July 11, 2022. Click here to learn more about the STABLE Writing Business Challenge!


In this episode Marie will cover:

  • Understand why creating a strategic offer can support your writing business.
  • Determine the Goldilocks Zone for a strategic offer.
  • Troubleshoot your existing strategic offer.

This episode is Part 1 in a new 7-part series on Creating a STABLE Writing Business. STABLE stands for:


Each episode in the series will talk about one aspect of STABLE, because you deserve a writing business that sets you up for sustainable success!

Plus, we invite you to join the STABLE Writing Business Challenge, a free challenge for freelancers and content creators kicking off on July 11, 2022. Within the challenge, you’ll identify your #1 biggest business challenge right now, so you can take strategic action to address it.


In this episode, Marie talks about building a strategic writing business, with particular focus on your offers.

She examines the Goldilocks Zone for your strategic offer, which exists at the intersection of what you can do, what you want to do, and what your audience needs and values. She also discusses what happens when one of those elements is missing from your strategic offer.



If your offer is something you can and want to do, but your audience doesn’t need and value it, you’ll struggle to convert your audience members into paying clients. 

If you can do the work, and your audience needs and values it, but you don’t enjoy it? Well, you’re going to get frustrated because your work doesn’t light you up. 

And if you want to do the work and your audience needs and values it, but you’re not so awesome at it (yet), there’s going to be a bunch of frustration that comes from working outside your area of expertise.

And if you aren’t sure if building a strategic offer is right for you? If it all sounds too complicated?  Marie also does some mythbusting on this topic. For instance, your offer can have any pricing structure. It can be an hourly service, a DIY product, a service package, etc. It doesn’t matter — but finding the intersection between these three circles (what you can do, what you want to do, and what your audience needs and values) is key.

Hope you enjoy the episode!




Services/Products/Offers/Freebies Referenced (for affiliate links or list growth):



Welcome to the copywriter collaborative podcast, where we're digging into how you can build a sustainable writing business. We're your hosts, Jessi...

...and Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy. When we started our business in 2010, we had no idea what we were doing. We just knew we wanted to write. Since then, we've learned a lot and we've grown into a successful multi-six-figure copywriting agency with a talented staff of writers and project coordinators. We've served hundreds of clients and we've seen it all. We wish we could have had a resource like this way back then. So we created it for you.

We're here to share our and top tips to help you achieve personal and professional success in the copywriting industry. Every week, you'll get valuable insights from us, members of our team, and special guests. Whether you wanna write better copy, create a stronger copywriting business that can support you financially or both, grab your earbuds.

Hey, Hey writers. And I'm excited to join you for a six-part series. We're gonna be diving into an acronym that is really important to us. It's STABLE. It's all gonna be about building a stable writing business because that stability is something that's really missing for a lot of writers. And it's something that we all crave, especially during uncertain times. And we're facing potential recessions and the pandemic keeps just lingering and... life is lifeing. But even without those types of things, being a business owner's just not exactly a walk in the park. And so there's a lot of things that Jessi and I have learned over the years that we want to impart to you. Now, I'm going to wrap up at the end of this by inviting you to join us for a free challenge. This is going to be the build your stable writing business challenge. So I'm going to go ahead and say, Hey, if this is something that sounds interesting to you and you wanna spend a few dedicated days with us digging into some specifics of figuring out your next best step to build a stable writing business, then we would love to have you. It's gonna be a free challenge and you'll get to meet other writers. You'll get to interact with Jessi and me, which is actually the only free way to do that right now in addition to the Polaris writer's lounge. So stick around if you want some more information on that.
But for today, I'm gonna dig into the first letter of the stable acronym which is S for strategic. And if you want a little bit of a preview of what's coming, you can check that out in the show notes. But the other sections are T for targeted, that will be next week. A for appreciated, B for boundaries, or boundaried. L for lucrative and E for energized. So those are the letters that we're gonna be digging into. And during the challenge, you're gonna be able to pick the number one of those that you're gonna be focusing on to build a more stable writing business.
So strategic, there's a lot of ways to handle this. And I think the best thing to look at, especially for a lot of earlier career writers, but even those who have been at it for a while is to take a look at creating a strategic offer. There's a lot of things you can do most likely. So for instance, the last time we worked with writers and coached them through this process, we had one member of our cohort who not only was a great writer but also was a great graphic designer. And this is something that she'd really prioritized previously in her career. People had really come to her for that. When she was starting to talk with clients, as soon as they found out she could do graphic design, they were like, oh, and then the conversation would just take this left turn and be focused on that. And while it's something she can do and is good at what she really wanted to do was write. And so that's one section here is what can you do, but what do you really want to do? Right.
So I want you to imagine a Venn diagram. So if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's two overlapping circles where part of them is overlapping and part of them is not. So on the left circle, this is gonna be what you can do. This is your expertise, right? It's your capabilities. On the right circle is what do you want to offer. This is your desire, right. So this is where this client of ours, she had "what can you do" include graphic design over here. But that graphic design portion within the circle was not in the shared portion between what you can do and what you wanna do. Only writing was there in the middle and content strategy. So that's where she was. That was sort of the overlap there.
Now I want you to expand that Venn diagram and add a third circle at the bottom. And so it's gonna overlap with all three of them. So in the middle, there's gonna be a section that is all three circles combined. But there's gonna be parts of the circles that don't touch any other circles, or that are only touching one other circle or overlapping with another circle, right? This bottom circle is "what does your audience actually need and value?" Because it's great if you can do something and you wanna do it, but if there's not a market for it or if your audience just doesn't value it to the financial investment level that you need to make, then that's gonna be a no go for you, right? So what happens in the middle? In the middle, that's your strategic offer. This is the thing that you are an expert in, right? You can do it, you wanna do it. You desire to do it and your audience needs and values it. This is the sweet spot between all these things. So what happens when you don't have those things, right? Well, if it's something you can do and you want to do, but your audience doesn't need or value it, then you're gonna struggle to convert those audience members into paying clients. What happens if it's something you can do and your audience needs and values it, but you don't wanna do it? Well, you're gonna get frustrated because you're doing work that does not light you up, does not excite you. This becomes unsustainable for you. And then what happens if there's something you wanna do and offer, and it's something that your audience needs and values, but you're not an expert in it? Well, this is gonna be frustration central as well, because you're gonna be trying to provide work that's outside of your expert area of expertise. Things that could happen is you could get frustrated because this is new for you. Or your clients could get frustrated because they're not getting the results that they thought they would get, right? So you can see how all three of these really kind of need to be together in order to create a strategic offer for you.
So, I want you to think about those three areas, and I want you to make sure that you head to our show notes. You can grab those at northstarmessaging.com/podcast. And that's a place where you can actually see the Venn diagram. You don't have to just envision it. You can actually take a look at the image itself and do some brainstorming of what those areas are for you. Now, of course, pricing this offer is a whole other ballgame. And this is something that we actually go through in a lot of detail in our stable writing business incubator program, which is a paid coaching program with Jessi and me. But before you can charge and know what you're gonna charge, it kind of helps sometimes to know what it's gonna be, right? So set money aside for the time being as you're thinking about this.
Another thing you can do is use this as a litmus test. Instead of figuring out what is my strategic offer going to be? Instead, figuring out is the stuff that I'm offering actually aligned with this? Do I feel good at it? Is it something that I like? Is it something that people seem to need? Maybe I haven't found the people yet who need it, but I know that there is a market for it. Cause I know there's other businesses out there doing it, right? So those are some questions that you can run yourself through to see is what you're offering, are all the things that you're offering, do they have the potential to be a strategic offer for you? Why do you need a strategic offer in the first place, right? Because if you are not clear in your own messaging, people are not gonna know what you do. So this is really important for you to be able to clearly state what it is that you do, why you're an expert to do it, like why you're the person to do it and why they need it. That's also kind of what you can get out of this triple Venn diagram here.
Does your offer have to be a specific package every single time? Could it instead be an hourly charged type of task that you perform? Sure. It can be anything you want. You get to decide what the inclusions are. You get to decide what the expectations are, what the scope of work is. If it's different every time, if it's something where they can kind of customize it, or if it's something where it's a pretty rigid package, you get to decide all these parameters. You really can do anything so long as it's actually valuable to somebody. And you can explain why it's valuable. What are those benefits? So this can be a little challenging sometimes because we do this for our clients all the time. But when it comes to our own business, it's like we have a brain block, so I totally get it. And I totally empathize around that.
One of the things that you can do to help yourself figure this out is to actually talk with your clients. Ask them, why did you do this? Why'd you decide to work with me? What's been valuable about this process? There's a couple great things out of this. One, it can get you some language that you can figure this out and continue to refine your communication and messaging around the strategic offer. But the other thing is you could actually grab testimonials from this. Plus you can make changes to things if you determined through enough feedback that there's something you could do a little better. Then it's all win, win, win. I think the most important part of that is just sort of keep your ego at the door. It doesn't need to be involved. You're asking them for feedback. It's not a time to get defensive. You want to honestly hold space for them so that they can feel safe to give you honest feedback. Because you know, at the end of the day, every time there's a failure, it's not a failure unless you don't do anything with it, unless you don't learn, unless you don't adjust, right. But you gotta know that stuff. It's kind of like if you're nervous about how much money is in your bank account and you just avoid looking at it, like it doesn't actually make the problem go away, right? It may be a little painful to go look at it, but at least then you know, and then you can make a plan. So it's the same thing when you're getting feedback from a client.
The other piece of advice I'll give you is your strategic offer doesn't have to be set in stone. You don't have to etch this into a tablet. This is something you can play around with. This is something that can change over time. If your audience is shifting, your strategic offer's gonna have to shift too. If your skills are growing, then your strategic offer may change over time. Or, I have a client who, she made a pact with herself that every time she had a child, she would work one fewer day per week. So, she had one child, well, she was working four days a week and she was off one day. She had a second child. She was working three days a week and off two days so that way she could spend time with her kids. And that I think is really admirable and fantastic that she's been able to do that. But I guess the reason I'm bringing that up is because things in your life, circumstances in your life may change, and that may constitute a need for your strategic offers to change as well. Because what you want to do may change. It may be that you love writing conversion copy for hospitals, and that's your favorite thing in the world to do. But you know, if something in your life changes and you're not able to give them the number of hours that you previously had promised, maybe that's not something you can do anymore. Maybe you need a different type of client or maybe you need a different type of offer for that client. In fact, I would suggest the latter, cuz it's harder to get a brand new client than it is to maintain a relationship with one that you have already worked with and had a great working relationship with.
In any case, I'm gonna invite you to head over to our show notes so that you can grab that Venn diagram image and you can take a look at it and assess where you are with your current strategic offer or with building a new strategic offer. So this is just a glimpse into one of the areas that we cover within the writing challenge that we're going to be issuing to you.
So I wanna invite you to sign up for that challenge. It's a free challenge that is going to kick off the week of July 11th, 2022. And we're going to be guiding you through the process of understanding these six different areas, just enough that you can decide which one is the one for you to focus on. So I invite you to join that challenge. It's gonna be fun. You're gonna meet other writers. You're gonna be able to interact with Jessi and me and our team members. And you're gonna able to get a little glimpse into a program that is a paid program. And you're gonna go ahead and get a little insight into what we cover in that. So I hope that you will join us for that free challenge. And I hope that we'll see you that week of July 11th. Again, head to northstarmessaging.com/podcast so you can grab those show notes and I can't wait to see you there. Thanks so much and good luck building your strategic offer for your strategic writing business.

Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Copywriter Collaborative Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com/podcast, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on your favorite podcast app and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy copywriting.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 

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