In this episode of The Savory Shot, host Mica, chats with Kate McDermott who is a full-time copy writer with 13 years of hospitality experience. Kate helps busy hospitality pros get more website visitors and increased sales in a super competitive market. We chat about the ins and outs of copywriting and how you can get started as a copywriter.
Kate is the owner of Eat, Drink, and Write Copy, where she helps busy hospitality pros get more website visitors and increased sales in a super competitive market. Kate spent around 8 years in the restaurant industry. Eventually, she found herself working as an executive assistant to a local restaurateur, where she spent nearly five years on marketing, promotions, building community, and one heck of a construction project.
By early 2019, she was ready for the next challenge. She began Eat, Drink, and Write Copy, a place where she could combine a love for the people in hospitality and her love for writing.
Getting started in copywriting and understanding what copywriters really do.
The reality of being a small business owner.
How Copywriters and Photographers are the twins of Marketing.
[00:00:00] Mica: Welcome to the 20th episode of the Savory Shot. Y'all know who I be. I'm your host Mica. Can you believe we are in the third month of the year? Y'all, y'all, I'm bugging out over here. Before we get the par-tay started, I want to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you for listening. Y'all, you could be anywhere, doing anything, but you're here with me.
So thank you for your time, attention, and support. Y'all are the reason I show up and show out every day.
I have a teeny tiny favor to ask of y'all, which you go on Apple Podcasts [00:01:00] and leave me this answer to this question.
What do you love about food photography? I'm curious, and I wanna know what brings you to this show every day? Why food photography? Do that for me and let's have a chat about it.
Now, question, do you feel like your website copy and messaging are not doing justice to your unique skills and creativity? Then y'all, you'll be excited for today's episode. Y'all, we have a very special guest, someone who is truly a master of their craft. Meet Kate McDermott. Y'all, I'm so excited for this episode.
I really am. Oh, it's such a meaty episode. Kate is an accomplished [00:02:00] copywriter, content writer and owner of Eat, drink, and Write Copy. Y'all, like I said before, I'm so damn excited for this episode because it was one of the most meatiest, chunkiest interviews I've ever come across. In this episode of the Savory Shot, Kate talks about how to find the right customers for your food photography business and communicate with them effectively.
Y'all, we talked about how to use social media, surveys and interviews to gather crucial information about your target audience and how to craft a strong brand voice that differentiates you from your competitors. Y'all, let me tell you what. If Kate's guidance doesn't empower you to improve your copywriting [00:03:00] skills, and establish a brand identity that reflects your passion and creativity, then you need to go back and give it another listen and pause like every two seconds, because damn, I left this interview feeling shooketh to my core.
But before we get into that, let's start the show.
[00:03:59] Mica: [00:04:00] I wanna start off Kate, just by thanking you for being a guest on this show. I remember when you filled out the form on the Savory Shots website wanting to be a guest on the show. It was such a big moment for me because I was like, oh my God, someone wants to be on the show. Like I didn't have to reach out to them.
They want to be on the show. It just gave me this divine message that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing. This little podcast of mine is growing into this big child and adult and changing things and stuff, so I'm super glad that you are here. You have some knowledge to drop.
[00:04:42] Kate: Well, thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here.
I consider copywriters and photographers to be like the, like the trouble twins of marketing. Like we have to really work together so it just feels like two sides of the same coin.
[00:04:56] Mica: Ugh. I love it. I love it. So I wanna dive right in [00:05:00] because we've got so much to go over. I just know that this is gonna be the meatiest episode in the world, so I'm ready now.
You are a copywriter for lifestyle and hospitality brands. What's the most misunderstood thing about your profession?
[00:05:17] Kate: Well, first of all, some people don't know what it is at all. They hear copyright and their mind goes legal. They think like I do something with the law, which I don't. Copywriting is writing to basically to sell or to convince someone to take an action.
It doesn't have to be sales. It could be, I want you to sign up for my email list. I want you to follow me on Instagram. I want you download this free ebook. It doesn't have to be sales, but basically it's writing to get you to take an action. In marketing in general, there are some bad actors that give the profession a bad name, that will write anything to sell anything. And that's not, that's really not true. A lot of copywriters have a lot of integrity and they're very specific about they will, what they will and won't do. And if someone asks them to [00:06:00] do something they think is unethical, they like, you're not, this isn't the job for me.
There's someone out there who will do this, but I'm not the one who's gonna do it. So I think that's that's a big part of it. Another thing that I wanted to throw out there, and before we get started, cuz I think it's important to remember, there are a ton of different opinions about the right way to write copy.
There is this misconception for people who don't do it for a living and even say probably who do do for a living, that there is, like, I know the answers. And a huge part, I think the longer you write is realizing, I know some stuff to try. We're gonna try this stuff and I think it's gonna work. And then we're gonna see if it works.
And if it doesn't, we're gonna try something else. Because there was a mistake in our research, there was a, we're not connecting with people the way we wanna connect with people, so we need to try it again. So any recommendation, anything, you should try this. You should that. It's, you should try and not, these are like the precepts being handed down from on high.
[00:06:55] Mica: I love the idea of what you said about how [00:07:00] copywriters not a sleazy thing. You're not trying to trick people into buying a product or using some psychological woo woo to convince someone to buy something. The experience I had with working with a copywriter, it was really cool because they took what I wanted to say and translated it in a way that was cohesive and made sense to people who visit my website.
That's how I see copywriters. They are our translators. They clear up the message that we're trying to send, help us connect with the people that we wanna serve. I have so much respect for what you do. It is so funny that people mistake copywriting for copywriting, which are two vague, two very different things.
[00:07:49] Kate: A lot of the time you, you're at a party, like, what do you do for a living? Oh, I'm a copywriter. And they just glaze. They're like, ah. Anyway, I guess I don't wanna ask. [00:08:00] That's nice. Did. Oh, that sounds cool. So there's some good potato chips over there. Let's go. Okay.
[00:08:07] Mica: People don't realize that copywriting is everywhere on the boxes of food that you buy, the books you decide to read. There's just so much power in it that I don't think they see that at the very beginning.
[00:08:25] Kate: Yeah. And Instagram bio. Yeah. You could call and that could be copied. That is copyright. There's also like kind of nebulous line between copy and content.
[00:08:37] Mica: Tell me more about that.
[00:08:38] Kate: There again, different schools of thought on the difference between copy and content. I think they're very closely related. Copy generally is looked at as something intended to sell, whereas content is looked at as something to educate or entertain. So a lot of people would say a blog post is content, a sales pages copy.
Sure, if [00:09:00] that is how you wanna look at it, but what's the point of the blog post? It's to educate, to entertain, sure. But first of all, at the end of that blog post, there's very often a call to action. Not always, but often, there's a call to action. Sign up for our email list. Well, now is it copy or content? Because I'm asking them to do something.
So I think that's copy. So then what happened to all the stuff before it was educational, it was entertaining, but now it's asking them to take an action. I guess I just wonder why people care so much about the distinction. Some people do both. Some people only do. I do both. I do blog posts, I also do website copy and emails and I do much more action focused copy, but I consider them so closely related that it doesn't, I don't think it's very serviceable to try to draw some hard line in between the two. Yeah, they're too closely related.
[00:09:48] Mica: Yeah. I mean, they just, they blend so much in between. It's like, um, food bloggers and food photographers. I get the distinction because I'm a food photographer, but I don't [00:10:00] expect the outside world to not know the difference.
They hear me say I'm a food photographer. They go, oh, so what's the name of your blog? And I go, I don't have a blog. I'm a food photographer. And that's it. And content wasn't even a word until social media, like the influencer came about and they're like, I'm gonna create content.
[00:10:19] Kate: Yeah, it definitely became this.
Juggernaut of a thing that wasn't really so much of a thing, I don't know, 20 years ago. It just didn't, it just didn't exist in the same way. It's one of those things like the average person doesn't care what's copy and what's content. They care what's interesting. A social media post that is a really funny story leading into a sales pitch at the end of it. They don't care. Marketers in general, we, we really love like acronyms and definitions of things and little industry jargon and it all gets a little high on our own nonsense. You know what I mean? It's like. It's kinda like just who cares what it's [00:11:00] called? If you want someone to take an action, there's certain, you know, there's ways you're gonna write that.
[00:11:03] Mica: I, I wanna take the conversation to a topic that we had such a great conversation about. You filled out the questionnaire and one thing that you wanted to highlight that super important for food photographers is that they share their process with, with their clients.
And I wanna dive into that. I think that's, uh, super duper important as well. First I wanna ask, why is it so important for food photographers to share their process with clients?
[00:11:33] Kate: This is just, like I said before, one of those areas where like, it's not gonna be the same for everyone and you're gonna wanna kind of test and see what's working and what's not.
The reason I think it's important to share the process is depending on your type of client, they might not have ever worked with a food photographer before. If they are a restaurant owner, they might have been DIYing it with a Sony camera or their cell phone. If they are a startup food manufacturer, [00:12:00] it just might be the first time.
Or it might be, um, they may have a new person in marketing who's, you know, it's just businesses just like us, like us service providers are all in different places in their business. There are gonna be pro pros who've done it a million times and they're gonna compete for this, and this is the first time. It's important depending on who you're trying to reach.
To provide the right amount of information to help them make a decision. Here's like a kind of an example. Last week I reached out to a potential virtual assistant who was referred to me and asked, Hey, here's a bunch of stuff I need help with. Do you have time? Are you interested? And she responded, is she said, yes, I can help you with that.
And that was it. And so what I wanna know is what do we do now? What's your turnaround time? How can I get onto your schedule? I can ask all those question. But don't make me do extra work. I'm busy. Like that's why I need a VA. I need someone to help me manage all of this. You're the person who's a professional at doing that.
So you manage the [00:13:00] process for me. So with the photographer, it's the exact same thing. You're the professional, manage the process. And tell me the client who's never done this before, or maybe he's worked with a couple photographers, but tell me what it's gonna look like to work with you. Because all I know when I look at your portfolio is you take beautiful photos.
And there are a lot of people who take beautiful photos. You may have a very distinct style, but help me get from, those are gorgeous to, I wanna work with this person cuz it's not one step. It could be a couple of steps. And one of those steps is when you reach out to me, uh, you're gonna fill out my contact form and then I'm going to call you and then we're gonna have, yeah, we're gonna have discovery chat.
And then there's gonna be, uh, a proposal and you'll know how many photos you're gonna get and you'll know how they're gonna be delivered to you. Like, just tell me what it's gonna look like to work with you, which is gonna make me much more comfortable making that investment. Huge part of copywriting.
It's just making it easy. So I've gotten to your website and it looks great. What happens next? Tell me what I should do. Should I [00:14:00] go to your portfolio? Great. What should I do? Then? Tell me, go to your contact page. Great. Fill this out. Then what happens? You know, just guide me from step to step so that I don't have to think about it, so I don't have to work too hard because I, if I'm a restaurant owner, let me tell you, I have plenty to do.
A restaurant owners are some of the busiest people I've ever met, which is part of why I like to work with restaurants. They're incredibly busy and, and it's fires all the time to put out. I mean, everything is breaking constantly. People are no call, no showing every day. The fire marshal is coming in for who knows, whatever.
I mean, it's just constant, constant. So like you gotta make it easy. And I, and I just feel like one of the best ways to do that is to say, here's what's gonna happen. Here's the process. It makes you look like a professional. Then the client says, oh, they've done this a million times. They know exactly what they're doing.
I feel great about that, that you're not making her on me. And for the photographer, it can also help weed out people who aren't for you. Because if you put on your, somewhere on your process [00:15:00] page, you know, currently I'm booking shoots four weeks out, then a person who wants their pictures tomorrow knows that you're not the photographer for them.
And then no one's wasting their time.
[00:15:09] Mica: That's such a great point. It drives me insane when I look at contact pages and there's no information at all, or they just have a number there and I'm like, that tells me nothing. I'm the type of person that needs to be overwhelmed with information. That contact page is like the most important page. When a potential lead goes to your contact page, they are making a conscious decision that I am interested in this person's services and if there's no instructions or any kind of info that they should know right from the get-go, it's just awkward turtle.
[00:15:46] Kate: Yep, absolutely. It's like it then. Then you've given them pause. And the pause can very easily become a stop, and then you lose them. Whereas if you have something a little bit more inviting, like you said, the hours thing, I have that [00:16:00] on my website.
I say, you know, fill out my contact form and I'll get back to you within 24 to 48 hours business hours. And does it help? I have to imagine that it does. You have to be, make sure you're following through with that promise if you're gonna make that promise. Also, once they fill out that form, what do they see?
Because I've also had an on-site where you hit submit and nothing happens. And you're like, crap. Did that go through? Do I have to fill it out again? And now they'll know. You may have now have lost the lead because they hit some submit. It didn't go through, they didn't know or may, you know, you just, it again, it caused pause and, and questions.
So once you hit submit, they should get a confirmation email or they should get a thank you page that pops up because yet is guiding them through the process. They, they now know, okay, this, I've done my thing, it's in their core. I'm gonna wait to from them within 48 hours. And if I don't hear within 48 hours, well now I know that something is wrong.
I can [00:17:00] reach out again. Or I may just be like, yeah, they're flaky.
I'm not gonna bother.
[00:17:04] Mica: That's that first impression. You've mentioned pause twice. Will you talk a little bit more about that? What, what do you, what, what do you mean when you say it gives them pause?
[00:17:17] Kate: A website is like, uh, a little journey and they start usually on the homepage, but not always any, and you're kind of tripping through the content and when you see something that's not quite right or not quite what you expected, you stop and it can very easily become a bounce, which is when someone leaves your site entirely. So if you're not answering the right questions or not answering any questions, I see a lot of websites and photographers in particular where they're just beautiful.
I mean, the photos are gorgeous. And there's like not a word. I mean it's just like no information. And like you said, [00:18:00] you're a information junkie. You know you want all the info. Lots of people are information junkies, so if you know, if you are just flipping through pictures, you're like, it's beautiful. Then you get that contact page like you said, and there's just very little there and you're like, why would I, am I gonna reach out to this person who has really told me nothing about what it's like to work with them?
That for me, that's a moment of pause and that's a moment where people think that their work can speak for itself, and I don't think it does most of the time. I just don't think that that's how we are wired work. People in general aren't wired to just look at some photos and be like, sounds good.
Here's my x thousands of dollars. They need a little handholding.
[00:18:40] Mica: If the person that's going to your website was they, someone referred them to you, then you already have that, that advantage. They've already heard what it's like to work with you, so that part has been taken care of. And then they go to your website and they see all your images, and then they are able to [00:19:00] connect the dots.
But for someone who has never worked with a food photographer, or someone who's never worked with a specific food photographer, not having anything on your website, not, not a single word, it just, you are just doing yourself a disservice. I just, I agree so much with what, what you said.
[00:19:23] Kate: And like I was saying before, a lot of this will depend on your specific audience.
Like I was looking at one photographer site and he, it was very space, but he did list people he worked with. Like Food and Wine and national brands and national publications. So for him, you could probably make the argument that when you have a list like that of very well known brands that you've worked with, you can do a little bit less handholding. Because A, you're probably working with agencies and people who have a ton of experience so [00:20:00] they know exactly what they're looking for.
B, you prove through that kind of list that you've been doing this for a while, that you're professional. It's just kind of a different level of sophistication, client sophistication. And you and I discussed this because you told me that you have a more process-oriented website and you also have a more sparse website that you send agency clients to.
And that's exactly what we're talking about. Your level of client sophistication is going to make a big difference on the amount of handholding, the amount of information you have to provide. I have a pretty information heavy website because I work with small businesses, many of whom have never worked with a copywriter before.
They may have a marketing, uh, person on staff, or they may not, I may be working directly with the owner, so I have a info heavy website, but I can absolutely understand why some people in some niches, would have less info, but I think that if you're unsure, probably better to air on the side of more information until you find out otherwise.
[00:20:59] Mica: I [00:21:00] learned with my two websites, as you mentioned earlier, that I needed to have a second website. Both websites are very cohesive. When people go to my Instagram, my brand is synonymous with my name. That's all there is to it. But my Austin Food Guide website, it is very much a handholding experience. There's a ton of information for how to get in touch with me, what it's like working with me, how A, B and C works. My other website, they don't need to know what my process is because my process doesn't matter. I'm on their clock, I'm on their time. They just need to know. A, what is my work look like? Does the work that I'm doing match the aesthetic that they're going for or the direction that they're in? Who am I what? What am I inspired by?
And how to get in touch? Two very different audiences, but it took me a minute to do the work to find out. When I did the rebrand, I [00:22:00] wanted to work with a specific target audience. And then I learned midway through, you know, after the relaunch and everything that who I really wanted to work with as well. They had different needs.
How do you make sure that you're communicating with your clients effectively? So that they understand what it is that you do for them?
[00:22:24] Kate: What we were talking about before. You know, making sure that you understand what they need from you. Are they expecting you to manage the process? If so, explaining what that's gonna look like.
If they're expecting you to sort of slot into their process, being clear that that's something that you can accommodate, but specifically in a granular, actual rate room communication. One of the things that's really important, short sentences. Sentences can get very long, especially on websites.
Sometimes you know you're reading something and you're like, where did we even begin this sentence? And it's confusing. So keeping it short, people are always talking about how people's attention spans are shrinking. [00:23:00] Well, let's work with that instead of against it and keep things short. You can break a long sentence up into two sentence fragments.
I give you permission to write sentence fragments on your website. They do not have to be grammatically correct. Apple does it all the time, and if Apple does it, then I think it's okay for everybody. You know, sometimes what that can look like is, say you had a feature, oh, I'm gonna talk about this in a little bit, but say you've had like a feature and a benefit and you were together in one sentence.
Put a period in the middle. Maybe the feature is, I don't know, Apple again, long battery life, period. So you never miss a moment, period. You know, it's two separate thoughts. We put them in two, two little sentence fragments. It's just very digestible. It's like little snacks of information that can be incredibly helpful.
The next thing that I wanted to mention was features. Connecting features to benefits. A feature is something that your product or service has, whereas a benefit is something is, is what's in it, what the [00:24:00] outcome of that feature is, like why it helps the client. So with photographer, for example, you could say, you know, I bring a professional food stylist with me to every shoot.
That's an awesome feature of your service. And the benefit could be, you know, your dishes will look the most appetizing they've ever looked. So basically you're, you're explaining something that you offer and then why it's awesome. So when you think of everything that you offer in terms of features and benefits, then the benefit is really where the customer starts to see themselves and see how you can help them.
[00:24:31] Mica: How would food photographers target and identify what their features are and what, what a benefit is? Besides the like, oh, this is gonna help your business grow. It's like, should they dive even deeper than that and go deeper and deeper? How, what advice would you give to food photographers who don't have that idea or that vision of that process?
[00:24:55] Kate: Most business owners and probably most photographers have a little bit more of [00:25:00] a process than they may give themselves credit for. Process doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to have tons of steps. It can be as simple as and fill out my form. We have a discovery call. A discovery call can be a feature.
That's something that you offer, and the benefit of a discovery call is that I know exactly what you're looking for before I get to the site, before I camera even gets in my hands. I have an extremely clear picture of exactly what it is that you need from this photo shoot. It's a great benefit. That makes me feel super confident that you're gonna provide what I'm looking for.
You can also do that with a questionnaire. Maybe you have a questionnaire as part of your process, and then even with your deliverables, you can turn those into a featured benefit situation. I don't know what the normal sort of deliverable packages are, but let's say most people offer 50 photos.
And you offer 75 photos and you say 50% more photos than the average photo package, meaning you will have all of your assets that you [00:26:00] need for this launch, and then some. Options that you can play with. You won't need another photo shoot for a year. There's ways that you can sort of get into the client's head and see what does 25 extra photos mean to the client?
It doesn't just mean 25 photos. What does that change about their life, change about their their business life? How does it make their business life a little easier?
[00:26:21] Mica: I love that. How does it make their life easier? And food photographers especially should take a look at everything that they're doing.
That could be a feature, like if you have your own studio.
[00:26:37] Kate: Huge, huge feature. I mean that's huge.
[00:26:40] Mica: Because that could be the thing that makes a client go, Ooh. I wonder if if food photographers should sit down and write out what a perfect booking would look like as a way of finding their process.
[00:26:57] Kate: Yeah, absolutely.
I think that would be an incredibly helpful [00:27:00] exercise. Also, I just wanna throw out there, you know, as you're hearing all this, you're like, "Oh God, my process is not." Get this kind of thing evolves over time. Any service provider is going to start out with some very, something very, and over time they're gonna be like, there's a little hole here.
Or my, my offboarding process is a little lackluster. I'd like to offer clients a little something at the end to make them, make them go away with the warm buzzies. Like, you can always add little bits to this over time. So don't get overwhelmed by like, I have to have all these things, questionnaires and all this stuff.
You, you don't. But I think that that would be a great exercise to sit down, walk through exactly what the ideal process would look like with the perfect client and then well, why isn't that happening with every client? Probably because you're not guiding them in that direction. It's not that they're not willing to be guided unless, like you said, it's like an agency and they're running the show and you're just you're doing their process.
So what, how can you make every [00:28:00] project look like that perfect project?
[00:28:02] Mica: That's a great question to ask yourself. You mentioned in your questionnaire that photographers need to understand their ideal client. What are some common mistakes that photographers make when trying to reach their target client?
[00:28:20] Kate: The same mistake most small businesses make, and that is focusing on you, the business rather than them the client. It's incredibly common because what do we know? We know us and everyone's kind of self-centered. I mean that in a nice way. You know, we're all, you know, focused on us. I actually found a good example of this.
I changed the details to protect this person's anonymity, but this is from someone's website. "Chicago, Illinois based food photographer John Doe shoots on location to provide his culinary clients with beautiful and flattering images showcasing their food items." First of all, it's just like snooze fest, but second of all, [00:29:00] the word client doesn't show up until halfway through the sentence. And it's really just about him. It's about what he does. He shoots on location. He provides beautiful images. Later he says he combined his professional experience with today's technology. Again, snooze fest. It's just like, I am not on your website because I want to know, I mean, I do want to learn about this person, but I didn't come to the website to learn about you.
I came to the website because I am in need of photography from my business. So people really need to do is turn the message around and look at a client and away from themselves. How can you reframe that message into what you, the customer can get. A really good exercise to help. You don't have to keep this in your final copy, but a really good exercise.
Write your verbal, I don't wanna be gross, but you know, just crap it out on the page and have it all about me, the, the service provider. [00:30:00] And then think, how can I start every sentence on this page with the word you? So instead of "Chicago, Illinois based food photographer John Doe shoots on location." You could try something like you, and I'm making this up on the spot.
"You have spent hours perfecting every item on your menu." So now we're already focused on you, the restaurant owner or chef have spent. "You have spent hundreds of hours perfecting your menu. You need food photography that makes your food look as good as it smells, tastes." Whatever. And then he says something like his work is frequently used by advertising agencies and magazines, brochures, mailings, blah, blah, blah.
"You need professional assets that you can use on social media." When magazines come calling, they don't care where his stuff has been placed. I care where my stuff could get placed. It's just a different way of looking at your service rather than looking at what I do. Look at why they would care.
[00:30:59] Mica: Answering the [00:31:00] question, what can you do for me?
[00:31:02] Kate: Right.
Because that's why they're hiring you. Now you can add personality to that. You can add some jokes on your about page. I actually still think it makes sense to take this approach on an about page, but there you can get more into, you know, you know, I have a major in photography in college, or I took X courses.
There is some, some proof that you wanna show as to why people should trust you. Education, experience, all those things and, and that stuff you really can't talk about that stuff without making it like self-focused and that's okay. But when the majority of your website is self-focused, you're not connecting with your client.
That's the biggest thing. It happens all the time, especially with solopreneurs, because we are the business. It can be a challenge, it's not easy to do, but I would challenge you if you think that your website is very "I" focused, as an little experiment see what you could do to turn, turn the language around.
[00:31:58] Mica: How would a food [00:32:00] photographer know if a web, their website in particular is self-focused?
[00:32:05] Kate: Do a Control-F search for the words I and me. And if you gettin' a lot of hits, you need to make a change.
[00:32:16] Mica: We're like, "Oh, crap. I need to, to fix that."
This is just a off the tail question. How can photographers find out what the needs of their target clients are? Where can they get that information? And put that on their website?
[00:32:35] Kate: When copywriters say that copywriters, we are, but we're researchers too. This research is probably 80% of a, of a website project. The best way to find out what your ideal client needs is to ask them, and that is much easier said than done.
There's a lot of talk in online marketing. You have to know your audience, know your client. It's, it's e [00:33:00] everywhere. You don't get as much like, okay, yeah, but how do I do that? Like, how am I supposed to do that? And, and I don't know a better way than to have conversations with people who either you have worked with, you're planning to work with, or you would like to work with.
I don't know any other way to do it, but what it can look like is you have a decent social media following as long as the people who are following you do look like your clients. If you're a food photographer and everyone following you is also food photographers, unfortunately that's not gonna be a very good source for you.
But if you're a food photographer and you have a ton of restaurants or food businesses following you, then they might be a good source of information. So you could do polls and questions on your social media. You can do surveys of existing clients during either your onboarding or your offboarding process.
You could ask them questions like, what challenges were you facing when you were looking for a photographer, or when you got to my website, what made you contact me? You know, what was it on my site that spoke to you? If you [00:34:00] can, this is really hard to do, but if you can figure out a way to get in touch with people who contacted you and didn't hire you, convincing them to have the conversation might be complicated.
But if they will give you a few minutes and you could be like, we talked seemed good. You chose someone else, totally get it. I swear if you can try to help me help you, help me understand, you know what, what maybe wasn't working for you. You could also do–
[00:34:24] Mica: I would be terrified Yeah. To ask, but, but you're right.
That would be, man, the best source of information.
[00:34:36] Kate: Or that if you got them on a discovery call and then they didn't hire you might be able to find the disconnect between what your website was saying and then what you discussed. Maybe your website offers something, then you actually, you forgot it was there, and then in the conversation you're like, "Oh no, I don't do that."
And they're like, "Oh, well that's part of why I reached out to you." Then, you know, you have a copy, you have something in your copy that you need to change. You could also ask [00:35:00] them if you've worked with photographers before, What didn't work? What didn't work in your past photography relationships?
And I know a lot of this sounds like, "Okay, but Kate, you're a copywriter. Why are you talking about all this operational stuff?" Because the operational stuff is fodder for your copy. Oh, a common word for it is, if you're getting information from these interviews, it's called Voice of Customer Data.
Or just voice of customer. When you can use the language on your marketing that your customers have used, it is a wonderful way to connect with people who are like that customer. So say you talk to a client of yours and they say, " I've worked with three photographers before.
And they all did this thing that I hated, and you don't do that thing, whatever that thing is. And I love that about you." Maybe it's a really onerous onboarding process. It was like too many questionnaires and too many interviews and it took hours and yours is much more streamlined.
Well now you know, "Oh well, shit. I've got an awesome streamlined [00:36:00] onboarding process and everyone loves it." And now that's a feature that you didn't even know that you had. So now you can go onto your website and say, "I have a proprietary streamlined onboarding process that will get me the information I need as quickly as possible and not waste your time."
Because time is like the, come on. I mean, geez, money and time. If you can save me time.
[00:36:19] Mica: Money and time.
[00:36:20] Kate: All any interviews, any, any personal conversations you can have with people you have worked with, would like to work with. Any bits of information you can glean from those can be incredibly valuable. Oh, another good source is competitor reviews.
If you can find positive and negative, and I never, never talking about like plagiarizing your competitor's reviews or anything, but if you see that one of your competitors has a bad review and there's something in there like that. They something specific, you wanna make sure it's like legit and not like the bad client.
You gotta do a little bit of weeding.
[00:36:55] Mica: Oh yeah.
[00:36:56] Kate: But you could find something in there and be like, "Oh, okay. They expected [00:37:00] something out of the process that they didn't get. But I do provide that in my process, so I'm gonna make sure I mention that on my website so that people know that they're gonna get that from me."
Cuz now I see that not everyone's offering that.
[00:37:09] Mica: That's just so genius. And I never even thought of that until you mentioned this.
[00:37:15] Kate: I wish I could be like ah, yes. I just dreamt it up one day. But, um, you know, I, I take classes. I, I, copywriting is something I am constantly learning new things about.
So there are many, many smart copywriters who went before me and I, I borrowed heavily on their genius.
[00:37:32] Mica: It's such a defined niche with working with lifestyle and food brands and restaurants. You mentioned that you work specifically with restaurants. What is the most surprising thing you've learned about your clients?
[00:37:46] Kate: I do work with restaurants, but interestingly, when I started copywriting, I thought I was gonna work with a lot of restaurants. I work with not that many which is part of why I expanded into that was at first just hospitality.[00:38:00] And then I, I said, you know, I'm gonna add lifestyle in there because there's a lot of really cool companies that I think it'd be super fun to work with.
And, and I do work with other lifestyle companies, but also because I was finding even within hospitality, I was getting a lot of event venues. I work with one agency, we do a ton of hotel work, so I have all these other clients. And maybe it shouldn't have been surprising, but restaurants have a hard time justifying the expense of a copywriter.
Sometimes they don't see a value. People in the restaurant world, I know margins are so tight for restaurants, especially right now, so I'm very sympathetic. I never take it personally.
They have a hard time seeing the value and it's, it's hard. I, I try to encourage them to find a way to, even if it's not me, you know, maybe you find somebody less expensive. I'm gonna understand that too. But your menu, when you're a restaurant, I mean, God, your menu is like it's a huge marketing tool, and, and they don't see it that way.
I'm like, what do I look at when I go to a [00:39:00] restaurant website, the menu? That's the only thing I care about really. So if your menu is, does it sound appetizing or it's got misspellings or it just, it doesn't look professional. You know, it kind of depends on the place. Like, if it's, um, like a mom and pop place, maybe run by an immigrant family for whom English is a second language.
I'm like, I don't give a crap if there's grammatic, but like if you're McGuire Mormon here in Austin and they have good menus, so I'm not talking about them specifically, but if you're some expensive place where you're gonna charge me $40 for chicken, then your menu's, gotta sell me on that.
Restaurant owners sometimes don't consider they think about the menu as something you get in the restaurant and not something that's drawing people to the restaurant. And I think it's a mistake.
[00:39:43] Mica: Oh man, you are, you are dropping knowledge bombs over here. You know, trying to explain to these clients, these leads.
Some of them get it, some of them don't. But explaining to them that [00:40:00] you know, their brand goes further than just fonts and colors. You are creating an entire experience. The photography is a part of sharing what that experience is, but everything should be intentional. Mentioned earlier about ideal clients.
How would you define ideal? What makes a client ideal for you?
[00:40:26] Kate: I use it because I, in marketing, we say ideal client all the time, but I actually don't love the phrase ideal client. It's like this perfection, and it's paralyzing, like, how do I pick my ideal client? What if I do it?
What if I do it wrong? There's this idea that you can do it wrong. Like just think of them as your preferred client. Preferred is less like it's a little less intense and it feels like there's more room for tweaking over time. Your ideal client might change over time, but the way I would define it, I would say because we're in a B2B [00:41:00] industry, both of us are, we're not talking about individuals, we're generally talking about businesses.
So I would say they're in the right industry. They are of the right size and at the right price point. Other than that, personally I keep an open mind. We don't have to create a box and force ourselves to stay in this niche box. We can have certain things that we're looking for without permanent markering ourself in.
[00:41:26] Mica: Ah, I love it. Permanent marketing. Permanent markering ourselves in.
[00:41:31] Kate: Yeah, for me, a preferred, uh, ideal client, or preferred client is in pencil. It's not in permanent marker. Everyone has to make that decision for themselves, and some people are also very comfortable being generalists and for them, their ideal client might even be a broader category.
It might be, it could be any project. That sounds cool. And unfortunately, it's hard to market to that because when you try to reach everyone, you can't really reach anyone.
[00:41:54] Mica: What's the saying? You can't be everything to everyone.
[00:41:58] Kate: Yeah.
But when [00:42:00] you do have at least a framework of what your preferred client looks like, it can make it much easier to say no to things that aren't for you.
[00:42:06] Mica: Well, here's a question, which should come first? Or which should you know first: what your preferred client is or what your process is?
[00:42:19] Kate: Client first. Because the client is going to inform the process, and then the process is going to inform the copy.
[00:42:28] Mica: So knowing your preferred client first will be the first domino that kind of leads the way.
It all starts with knowing who you wanna serve.
[00:42:40] Kate: The tone of voice that you're gonna use to connect with that person, you know, it's really gonna impact all of those things. I didn't really mention it in the way I define my ideal client, cuz I don't really, I, I guess I don't think about it all the time.
But I just like also like to work with people who are just fun and cool and so I keep the [00:43:00] language on my site relatively light because I'm wanna attract a client that wants to have some fun cuz it's marketing and it should be fun. For example, a agency that I work with, they work with very high end hotel clients so their language doesn't gonna be much more elevated and a little more buttoned down.
If you're going to reach out to like the Hyatt or you know the big names, they're not looking for fun. They're looking for a level of voice sophistication to talk to fancy hotel clients. Hyatt it might not be the best example, but you know what I mean, like a luxury hotel brand.
[00:43:33] Mica: I mean, Hyatt is pretty fancy.
[00:43:35] Kate: Yeah, it's pretty nice, right?
[00:43:36] Mica: Yeah. I don't honestly think so. I think so. I think they're pretty fancy. They're fancy. You bring up such a great point about knowing what kind of tone you wanna put on your website because what you put out, you attract in. If you want to work with fun and free going brands, that's the kind [00:44:00] of tone that you need to use.
Those are the adjectives that you need to throw into your website. When you have a website that's just all photos, no words, and then like some random contact page, you are just bringing in the most random crap. My very first website, for the longest time, I, I would get so many different random restaurants.
I got corporates contacting me for headshots. I'm like, these are all food photos. Why are you contacting me? But you know, they're not, they're just like, oh, this is a nice photographer, let me contact them because they have some head shots, so I guess they do head shots and I guess they also do food, so I'm gonna contact them.
So I'd get all of these random ass people contacting me. It was such a frustrating process cuz I waste my time in the discovery call 30 minutes in knowing, okay, this isn't gonna be a fit. We mentioned this [00:45:00] before about how food photographers can learn more about who their preferred client is, doing their research by reading reviews and things like that.
One of the biggest challenges I have as a food photographer is getting those clients to write reviews for me. I wanna ask you about what advice would you give to photographers who are struggling with that?
[00:45:29] Kate: I also struggle with that if I'm gonna be perfectly honest. Most service providers probably do. At least in certain industries, in the wedding industry, no problem.
Brides and grooms, and brides in particular, if we're being honest, they will leave reviews all over the place. In the B2B world, I guess we're like, well, I got the thing that I needed. It's great. I'm happy now I'm gonna move on. And we're like, wait, hello?
There's one word, my please. I love you, People are so busy. You may have so much to do. [00:46:00] It is hard. I totally, first of all, it's super hard. So the things I would say is, first of all, making it as easy as possible. Asking. You can't just expect them to do it. You have to ask, will you please leave me your review?
Send a link to however you want them to provide the review. If it's something you just panel in a Google form or whatever method you have, send them a link that they can click right there in the email. Another really big thing can be asking specific questions instead of leaving it open-ended, because a blank page is a nightmare for anyone, including myself who writes for a living.
I hate a blank page. So if I have a couple of specific questions, you know. What did you enjoy about working with my photography process? What do you think we could have done better? You may not put that part on your website, but it would be an important piece of information for you.
You can ask specific questions to help guide them through the, the review leaving process and if there's something you can offer as an incentive. That could always help. [00:47:00] What that would be. It's easy if you're a restaurant, you can offer 'em a gift card or coupon or whatever. For service providers, it's a little bit more complicated.
Obviously if you offer 50% off your next photo shoot, they'd be like, okay, but that's not Kendall. Park out for any very else.
[00:47:14] Mica: And then you will get a glowing review.
[00:47:20] Kate: But any sort of little incentive can probably help.
[00:47:23] Mica: Yeah. Yeah. And it also adds to the experience of what it's like to work with you. The experience shouldn't stop right after you deliver the photos. Like it should go weeks beyond that.
[00:47:38] Kate: The offboarding process can be very important. And it's another copywriting moment because they're gonna need whatever that process is. If you have an agency client, they probably don't need it. But if you have a a a small business client, they might be like, okay, I have all these beautiful photos. What the hell do I do with them now? I, I, I have certain things I know I wanna do with them.
I'm creating certain [00:48:00] sales assets and et cetera, et cetera. What are some things maybe they won't think of? I don't know exactly how you manage the licensing. Know the ownership of your photos. But if they own the photos, now they can do whatever they want with them. So should they use 'em for social media?
Maybe give them some tips about that. Should they use 'em for on their menu, on their website? Just like tips about incorporating this awesome asset, and getting them most out of it. There are gonna be tips that you as the photographer can share with the client, that they could find extremely helpful.
And if it's in an off-boarding packet, which will end with a request for a review, it can be, it can just wrap up the whole experience. Little, a nice little bow. And it can feel like not only did you get, you as the photographer, it wasn't all about just getting their money and obviously you provided the photos, but you have the money and you're still providing a service because you care about them and you care about their success.
[00:48:52] Mica: What you said, that you ha you don't care about the money. You care about, making sure that they are served, like it goes [00:49:00] beyond. I mean, sure we care about the money.
[00:49:02] Kate: We do. We do care about the money.
[00:49:03] Mica: We do care about the money, but we also care about, making sure that they are taken care of even after.
I think this will be a great way to finish today's interview, is I wanna talk about the the services that you provide. You mentioned here on the survey that you do a copy audit service. Tell me a little bit more about that. How does that work out for food photographers?
[00:49:31] Kate: So that is something I added recently because I like to work with small businesses.
Like I said, some have the budget for it, for done for you copy. But for you it's a four figure package. So it's gonna be, it's gonna not in. Real house. And so I thought, how can I offer a lower price service that still is valuable and that I'm not like losing my shirt on? So. So I thought if you have a website or you [00:50:00] have a, you know, a specific page that you want looked at, I can do with, I call a copy audit and I think I call it review and report, but it's an audit.
So basically what I'll do is I'll go through a page of your website at you, your choice. And I will tell you where I think there is room for improvement, which could be things like improving headlines, adding some more personality to the copy, guiding people through the page, adding links to other pages on the site to walk people through the site.
There could be some keyword recommendations. You know, I'm not at SEO expert, but pretty much all copywriters are at least SEO intermediate, put it that way. So I could have some SEO tips about, the right keywords that you should be going for for this page, I also look at like the meta title and the meta-description, which are what shows up on Google when someone searches for if you show up in a Google result.
That's called the meta title and meta-description. So may have recommendations there. It's basically like a full report on what I think could be [00:51:00] improved, and this is something I can do for you know, hospitality businesses could do food photographer businesses. Your copy heaviest page, it's your about page or a process page, just would be a great place to get a overview.
And also for seasonal stuff, for restaurants and hotels, if you're offering a holiday package and you're like, oh, we put together ourselves and we just want a professional to look it over. That's a great opportunity for a copy audit.
[00:51:25] Mica: I love it. What do you hope the listeners learn from today's episode?
[00:51:29] Kate: I hope that they walk away with the understanding that anyone who comes to your website has a job that they need to be done. And by that I don't mean they need to get photography. I mean, they have a need that they need the photography to support. They need a new website, they need new print ads, they need new Facebook ads, whatever that might be.
And they need photography to support that. So you as the food photographer have to help them understand how what you provide gets that job done and that's what [00:52:00] your copy is going to explain to them.
[00:52:02] Mica: That's great. That's great. They have a job that needs to be done. That's brilliant. Thank you. Thank you.
So much for being a guest on today's show. This was, man, this was a meatay, meaty episode and I loved every second of it, so thank you so much for being a guest.
[00:52:23] Kate: It was so much fun to talk about this. I don't usually get to just like talk for ad nauseum for a long time about copy and copy strategy and brand voice and all these fun things.
Usually I'm in my head with it a lot and I don't get to share it. So.
[00:52:38] Mica: Well, please, share all, all you want, I'm sure that everyone listening will definitely be like, can we do a part too? You know, type of thing.
[00:52:46] Kate: I'd love to do a part too.
[00:52:49] Mica: Yes! Yes, yes. Well, thank you again for being a guest on the show. Where can the listeners find you and [00:53:00] support you?
[00:53:00] Kate: You can find me on my website www.eatdrinkandwritecopy.com or on Instagram at eat period. Drink period. Write copy.
[00:53:10] Mica: Thank you again for being a guest on the show. And to everyone who listened to today's episode.
Till next time guys, bye.