Building authority - Conversion Copywriter Paige Poutiainen

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Paige got her start on Upwork after moving to Finland for love. Struggling to find work in a country where she didn’t speak the language, Paige jumped into freelance life without much of a plan. She’s levelled up several times since then, using a mix of courses, mastermind groups, and authority building content to establish herself as a trusted expert.

These days, Paige plans everything. She talks in detail about the 90-day planning process that helps her meet her goals, and chats about the weekday schedule she’s set herself to make sure everything gets done. With Marketing Mondays, Content Wednesdays, and “Fiddly-bit Fridays”, Paige is doing her best to keep her weekends work free.


Steve: How about we get started hearing how you got started being freelance?

Paige: I guess I could back up a little bit. I fell in love when I was in college with a guy from Finland who's now my husband. So I moved there after my bachelor's studies. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. So I'm kind of bookish and kind of nerdy and I really like learning. So I was like, "I'll just do grad school." Let's just delay the huge life choice of what to do with my life.

Paige: So I did grad school. Got really excited about in my studies I was doing a minor in entrepreneurship. So doing a lot of stuff in the startup space, specifically kind of tech startups. So there's a really nice ecosystem in Helsinki. So that's just what I was most drawn to.

Paige: So after graduating grad school, instead of doing something traditional, like management consulting, which I had tried a little bit of, but just did not connect with me at all. I went and worked for a really, really early stage startup for about six months, doing content marketing. I was kind of self-taught relying on stuff I had learned from the Content Marketing Institute. Blogging and thinking about inbound traffic strategies and those kinds of things.

Paige: But six months in, I realised I wasn't happy. It was a lot of stress and a lot of work for very little pay. I was like, "If I'm going to stress this much to build something, I want to build something that's mine." Also, I had this kind of constraint, at least in my head. I'm not sure if it's real or not. But in my head I felt like it was harder for me to get work in Finland, not being a native Finnish speaker.

Paige: So I was like, "Why don't I just try my hand at doing my own thing?" I actually joined Upwork. So I quit my startup job, or I just didn't renew our contract and I was like, "I'm just going to do Upwork and kind of fly by the seat of my pants." I didn't really have a plan. Just take a huge risk. Low overhead, so that's good.

Paige: But, yeah, so I got my start on Upwork and I took some jobs there. I took some courses about succeeding on Upwork, which were really beneficial for me at the beginning.

Paige: Somehow I got into the copy hackers world, which is where I live now. So if you're not familiar, Copy Hackers is kind of the only place to learn conversion copywriting, in it's current form. So somehow I found them. I started learning their stuff I got involved in the copywriter club, I did a copywriter accelerator for business. So my business has taken on probably a hundred different variations in the last two years. Yeah, so that's kind of my I guess quick overview of how I got to where I am today.

Steve: Crikey. So you were in Finland when you started on Upwork. So that was working with clients from all over the world, or did you aim to mainly for the states?

Paige: Yeah, so I didn't really have a preference. I took clients all over the world and found out that I had an advantage for people who wanted to break into US market, because of being a native speaker. But I took clients in UK, in Hong Kong, in Australia, in Sweden, in US. So really no barriers there.

Steve: What did you find worked for you best on that work when you were getting work there?

Paige: So there's a lot of things that I think that make a difference. One is just how you write your profile. Definitely, like you're not a copywriter, then learning a little bit about copywriting will help you write a better profile to where you're really talking to the problems that people are going through. The solutions that they're looking for. How to set yourself apart, but where it's not about you. Where you're like, "Oh I'm a copywriter with 10 years of experience." And blah, blah, blah. Like all about you. You'd be surprised like 99% of people do this, where they don't talk about the client at all, like the clients needs. If you just switch that, instead of talking about you, talk about the clients needs and how you can help them get to where they're going. That makes a huge difference in your profile and in your proposals that you do.

Paige: Another thing was to kind of filter out proposals, or filter out job posts. I'm still in Upwork. I don't really take clients off Upwork very often, because I've kind of reached a threshold to where I'm kind of more expensive and more experienced than most people are looking for. But searching based on keywords, based on the level of experience they're looking for. So you can filter out a lot of people who wouldn't potentially be a good fit just by filtering expert posts. So people who are looking for experts. I mean it's not a scientific strategy. It doesn't always work, but it helps you kind of filter out people who are obviously looking for the bottom of the barrel. If they're looking for beginners, and you're definitely not a beginner.

Steve: Just to put this in perspective, when did you start on that work, as in what year?

Paige: I think it was 2016.

Steve: You mentioned learning more like going to Copy Hackers and so learning more and developing your skills more. So was it doing that that then took you up a level?

Paige: Yeah, definitely. There was a course before that. It's called Freelance to Win and it's about succeeding on Upwork. So it was really helpful in how you position yourself on Upwork more as a consultant, more as an expert and less like an order taker. There's lots of business development lessons to learn from that course I feel like and I was very happy. I definitely had a ROI on what I spent on that course versus what I brought in in projects. Then I found Copy Hackers, it might have been a few months later. I'm not exactly sure how I found them. Somehow magically through the Internet, through one of my deep dive holes that I found myself I in.

Paige: Then that's where my skills started to improve, just over the course of months of learning something, doing it for clients, learning something else, doing it for clients, learning something else, doing it for clients and have slowly up-levelled into a point that I feel like now that I've reached a level that Upwork is probably not the best place for ... I feel like there's a threshold. That may or may not be true and that could be just a belief that I have. But based on kind of external data validation from conversation that I have, you definitely get those people that are like, "You're a little more experienced than we're looking for." And I'm like, "Okay, well that's good data to have." So I need to go look in different holes.

Steve: So what were those holes that you went looking in?

Paige: Definitely for me joining professional groups, like the copywriter club, was a way to network with people like me but also people like me who share leads. So that was very beneficial. I was in a lot of different kind of groups, so Copywriter Club, Copywriter Accelerator, which is more like a small group kind of accelerator, Copywriter Think Tank, which is kind of a peer mastermind. Then I also did Joanna Wiebe, which is the founder of Copy Hackers. Her copywriter mastermind.

Paige: So that was a good way to make connections with people who had better networks than you and actually find work that way. Because I do find holes professionally. I also have some funnels for my own business that I create content for and send people back to lead magnets and slowly growing my list that way. Now I'm kind of focused on doing more what they call authority content. So really long form, in depth, researched pieces that you can post on blogs with really strong followings in your industry that have, where you kind of borrow their reputation a little bit. So pieces that really establish you as someone who knows a lot in your space and is kind of like a trusted expert to go to when they need projects like that.

Steve: Yeah, I see. Yeah, so people are seeing you on other sites and then they check you out and they come to you. When you're writing that kind of long form content, how much work is going into that?

Paige: Oh, it's a lot of work. I was very resistant to it at first because it's so much work. So for the first year or so, I focused mainly on kind of micro content. So I recorded a lot of videos like anywhere from three minutes to 10 minutes on YouTube. Just starting before I was ready, just kind of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, just to talk about what I do, give tips, things like that. But the authority building content, it's a lot more in-depth, because you do have to do a lot of research. I follow something like Joanna Weeb teaches called the six and six plan.

Paige: It's basically you devote six weeks, about one day a week you have a content day. So for six weeks you do a deep dive into one specific topic and you turn that research into six different authority building pieces, whether that's one really long authority establishing blog post. It might be an E-book that you pitch to a brand, like if I'm working with people who sell digital courses, for example, I might pitch Teachable because they sell that kind of software and we might do like a collaborative Ebook for example.

Paige: Or even like shorter pieces of content as well or things like videos, you could pitch podcasts and do podcasts interviews about the research that you've done etc. But it is a lot of work, like a lot.

Steve: So you're saying that you would take six weeks off of any page work and concentrate on creating that really rich material?

Paige: Actually, no. So I use theme days. So they're days that you have kind of allocated for specific types of activity. So I have Marketing Monday. I have Content Wednesday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for client work and then Fridays are usually for business development kind of slash whatever else I have to do that doesn't fit into the other days. SO it's really just kind of one day a week for six weeks.

Steve: I see. Got you. But it really works that way by just saying I'm going deep on this, on this one particular day?

Paige: Yeah, yeah. Because the context switching, you lose so much time and once you start doing deep work you realise how much focus you lose when you switch tasks. I always thought I was the best multi-tasker ever and after I switched to task batching and doing these deep dive theme days. Now I can't even talk to somebody and do something else. Because I realise how much my focus is divided and how much it impacts what I'm working on.

Steve: So what might you be doing on a marketing Monday?

Paige: Okay. Let's see what did I do this week? So Marketing Monday, I might email my list, if you have an email list. So that's something I do. I try to do every week sometimes and certain quarters, every two weeks. I might cold pitch, if I've got a cold pitch strategy kind of in place for that quarter. I might do outreach for kind of collaborations. For example, if I'm working on my six and six plan, then Marketing Mondays I will need to start building those relationships with editors for guest posting. Or pitching podcasts to do that kind of outreach, or pitching E-books if I'm going to pitch someone an E-book. Yeah, it just kind of depends on kind of what the focus is for that quarter. Because the focus does change and things that are marketing for my business go on Marketing Monday.

Steve: So when you say a focus for quarter, are you assessing that focus, or is that coming from one of the masterminds that you mentioned?

Paige: It's coming from me. So each quarter, I do what I call I guess, a 90 day business plan. I decide what is going to be my biggest goal for the quarter and it's usually revenue related. Then from that I back up what core projects do I need to do to meet that goal? That determines everything that I do for the entire quarter. So one quarter, I wanted to really push a sales page review service. So product tie service I mean I needed a sales page. I needed to work on my work flow for how that would go. I needed to create content around sales pages. So that kind of stuff. So I try to do it in the most strategic way possible, so that everything I'm doing in that quarter feeds that big business goal. Does that make sense?

Steve: Yeah. Wow. And that's all driven by you? So it's clearly working, but it takes a lot to stay on top of that sort of thing. Are you still part of those masterminds? Are there people that you're I guess reporting back to, for you holding accountable yourself to? Or is it all just within you?

Paige: I think most of it's me and that's just the way I think. I'm a bit of a workaholic/Type A/control freak kind of combination. I don't know if that helps and I also think kind of in terms of systems. So for me, it's kind of easy. I do use those groups to kind of hold myself accountable, but I also use things like Asana. I have checkpoints built in. I have a goals kind of board in Asana, where I track everything that I do. I make sure the projects are lined up, the tasks underneath those. I am still in some of those groups like you asked. I think most of those are ending now, but there are a few communities that I'm in, but it does help to have that support community to where, just like a small group, even if it's not anything official, that you kind of meet up say every two weeks, or something with your group of five, or whatever. Or you can kind of set goals together, hold each other accountable and be real and vulnerable about where you're at because building a freelance business is ups and downs. So it helps to have people who understand that.

Paige: Because your friends and family don't really unless they own their own thing. But if they're used to the traditional kind of employment set up, then they don't really understand what it's like. You have those days where you're feeling on top of the world and everything's going great and the next day you might have a day that you feel like you want to burn it all to the ground. That's just like a cycle, like I hope that someone out there knows how to make that end I would love to connect with you if you're hearing this and you're like, "I know how to make you not feel like that." But that's been my experience.

Paige: These ups and downs and it's really hard to do it alone, if you're having those down moments, and you don't have a group who can like show you ... because it's all emotional. You want to burn it to the ground and it's not really logic. You can't look and be like, "Oh look how far I've come. I've done this great thing and this great thing and this great thing." It's like one bad thing happened and you get wrapped up in the emotions and then it's like, "Oh everything sucks completely." It helps to have that clear vision someone else to be like, "No you did this great thing, look how you changed from this month to this month." That's been my experience at least.

Steve: What might be a bad thing? What makes you want to burn it to the ground?

Paige: Let's say I had a really bad sales call, like a really terrible one for whatever reason. Then I just get so caught up in that, that I forget that there are great things that happened this week. I'm getting better. I feel like that's a skill, you have to learn that, how to emotionally manage yourself. I feel like that's something that I'm getting better at. But also things in your personal life. I don't feel like people talk about this a lot, but I went through a move from Finland to Tennessee, recently. I think it was in Q3 of last year and it was really stressful. Moving your entire life, and my husband's also employed. He was self employed and he was setting up his business and things weren't going like we anticipated and it's just when things in your personal life feel upset, not stable, it affects your business life as well. We're people. When you're a freelance business, everything depends on you. So if your emotional state is not level, or better than level, then it impacts your business in some way.

Steve: In what way do you try to take care of yourself in that regard?

Paige: Definitely having the support groups. That helps a lot. Having a place where you can be vulnerable to say, "Hey, I want to burn it to the ground today. I just need you to tell me what I'm doing that's awesome." Journaling for me has been really helpful, because it does let you get out those kind of emotional thoughts, to where you're mental state kind of slowly calms down. If you picture a tornado going really, really fast, as I journal, it gets slower, and slower and slower. It's like I can figure out my own problems, but I can't do it until I've written it down and worked through that. So that for me has helped a lot and definitely if you have a spouse, or a partner, or even friends and family who aren't freelancers, or they don't have their own business. So they don't know what it's like. It's much more productive for me to journal, than for me to emotionally dump on them all the time. Because for one, they can't give me good feedback and stuff because they don't understand and two, it's just terrible for them to have to deal with that all the time. So your journal doesn't care, it's just an inanimate object. It's just there to serve you, so that helps a lot.

Steve: Because you mentioned earlier, feeling the stress at the start up and thinking, "Oh if I'm going to be this stressed, I might as well build something for myself." So is the main cause of distress, the emotional challenges that come from dealing with it of picking yourself back up, or have there been other challenges along the way?

Paige: Yeah I think the main cause at least for me, right now because I think it changes, is uncertainty. I'm going through a pivot in my business where I've decided I'm not quite attracting the right market, or I'm not pulling in the right leads. The leads that are coming to me because I just recently up-levelled my skills and now I'm getting a lot of people who aren't really in a position to take advantage of that. So I've had to ... of course that presents a symptoms, like bad sales calls, like taking sales calls with people who have no money, or don't understand what I do, or just for whatever reason not a good fit. So taking lots of those, that's a symptom that something's wrong, right? That something's not in fit with where I want to be. So just the uncertainty of knowing something is wrong and not knowing how to fix it, I think causes a lot of that.

Paige: So that's improving, because I've realised that, "Hey actually I need to be working with these people because these people have a better marketing and sales foundation in place already to benefit from working with a conversion copywriter with my skill level." So I think a lot of it is the uncertainty and maybe the having problems, but not having answers yet. Some people thrive in that kind of space. So I think it is personal because I'm very risk adverse. So I like to be able to see the whole outcome, the end of the tunnel from where I am. That makes me comfortable. When I can only see two or three steps in front of me, I think that's where a lot of the unsettled-ness comes from.

Steve: So going about your weeks, you have two days a week that you do clients, was it Tuesday and Thursday?

Paige: Yes, Tuesday and Thursday. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steve: So they're your client days. How many clients do you work with at a time?

Paige: Yeah so for me, with the types of projects I take on, so they're a little bit longer term. You're looking at a month to two months, or longer. I usually take on max one to two clients at a time, but that's for bigger projects. Then there are things like 90 minute consulting sessions. I can take a few of those a week, or sometimes if you sell something like a day rate, so it's a really quick turn around project that has very defined beginning and end. I can take an extra one of those a week, but for the bigger ones it's usually one max two clients at a time.

Steve: And what does your working day look like on those days?

Paige: I'm actually a little bit later riser. I'm not a morning person and I'm still reading a book called When, I think it's by Daniel Pink, or something like that. It kind of explains how to listen to how your brain works best and noticing when you have peak productivity and lag time and all that. So I start working somewhere around 8 to 8:30 and I log into my Asana dashboard, because I have all my systems set up. I keep everything in there. Nothing's in my head, everything's in Asana. So I don't have to stress about it, or forget things. So I log onto kind of my task dashboard, It automatically populates the things that are due today. Then I can sort through those, prioritise and figure out how I'm going to plan the day.

Paige: Now it really just depends on the type of projects so it could be really long day. I've had 10 hours day depending on the project and what stage it was in. A lot of times, it's about a six hours of good working, billable time and then you'll have some buffers like for lunch, admin and then just at the end of the day kind of answering emails or participating in your groups, if you're in groups like that. So it could be like a four hour day, if for some reason I have one project and it's like the stage it's in is where I can't do a whole lot like I'm waiting on something but it could be up to like 10 hours. So I guess it's important to say that I reserve Tuesdays and Thursdays for client work and I don't book any other kinds of things, short of calls with clients or prospects in those days.

Paige: But on heavy weeks, then I may have to borrow time from some of my other days so like on Marketing Monday, I might take half the day like a three to four hour block and do my marketing tasks, Then take the rest of the day and do some client work. Because the most important thing is, that I meet the deadlines that I have agreed to. So just like remembering to be flexible. So I guess having set boundaries, but with a little flexibility built in.

Steve: Yeah, that's good actually, because it means that you've got that slack in those other days that you've assigned for things. So long as you don't always borrow from them, I suppose. That's actually really good that's better than having five days of client work and then nothing to borrow from.

Paige: Yeah and then like working the weekend and hating your life because you have no life and you're like, "I have to change something." So yeah, so I think for me it works. It's definitely if you don't do theme days, or some kind of batching like that it's definitely like an experiment in kind of figuring out what works for you and how to adapt it so that you feel happiest every week and you're not really running yourself into the ground, which leads to burnout as we know. Yeah, I definitely think if someone's listening who hasn't tried it, it's for me has been really great and definitely worth an experiment.

Steve: And then your Friday. What was your Friday?

Paige: So Friday is usually business development. So if I have a specific kind of project, so a mixture of business development and kind of random stuff, which is not a great answer. But like finance things, communicating with your bookkeeper or updating, like if I update my WordPress site. I do that on Friday, so that's like a recurring task on my Asana board. Just kind of things that don't fit anywhere else in the week and that aren't a huge priority, but have to be done. So yeah. I don't know if that answers your question?

Steve: No, it does. If that's what you do.

Paige: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: Yeah. There's no good alliteration for that really is there? Fiddlybit Friday. Maybe that's it. It's over fiddlybits that you didn't have time for the rest of the week.

Paige: Yeah, that's a good word. Another thing is, courses. If you're doing a course, or something instead of diluting my other days with that, I'll just work through a course, or block time for a specific course that's going to up-level my skills, or something like that on Fridays.

Steve: So you keep your weekend clear?

Paige: Yes. I try not to schedule anything. Now I'm a little bit of a workaholic. That's a work in progress. I don't have anything scheduled, but sometimes I will get the itch to work on something of mine. Stuff I'm working on, on my website or if I'm working on like that authority building content I might get inspired on a Saturday morning and I want to sit down and draft a post, or outline something. So I do do some things on the weekend much to my husband's displeasure. It's never client work. Let's say 99.9% of the time it's not client work. It's always stuff that helps my business move forward.

Steve: So actually, so do you feel like what life balance wise? You're happy, like it's working out?

Paige: Yeah. I think it's in a better place than it has been in the past. So when I lived in Finland in the winter time, it's really cold and gets really dark really early. So we have about, in the Helsinki area, about five hours of daylight. So I found myself working a lot, because there was nothing else to do. It was cold. You didn't want to be outside. It wasn't light. I just worked really, really long days and I learned that that quickly leads to burnout. So you always have those kind of threshold moments, or breaking points where you're like something has to change. I feel like it has changed a lot. Setting those boundaries around when I work and when I quit. I wouldn't say that I've arrived at work life balance and I think it changes depending on what's going on in your life but I definitely can say that I feel better about.

Steve: Going to your revenue streams, I guess because you mentioned obviously you got client work where you're actually doing copywriting for people. But you mentioned consulting calls as well. Is there anything else on top of that? Or is it those two?

Paige: Yeah, so it's primarily the done for you kind of work. Then I've recently put out an offer for other copywriters, because I specialise in funnels and lots of copywriters want to do funnels, or they have a client project and they don't do funnels, but their client needs help. So they'll bring me on kind of as a consultant, but they don't need a lot of help. A 90 minute call, a strategic call to help them sort through everything is enough. Then also kind of business owners who have a really small problem and they want expert eyes, or they want to rack my brain, but they don't need a full project yet.

Paige: So that's kind of the consulting call offer that I have. It's just kind of, I guess you could consider it like a ... not really an entry level ... yeah I don't know how to explain it really or a down sale? It's not really that either. So I have that. Just for kind of let's say, bite size service, I like that word better.

Steve: Yeah, it's the people who need your brain, but they don't necessarily need the writing being done there and then.

Paige: Right. It's more strategy. It's not really any writing at all, because that's not enough time, but it's definitely strategy. Then I've experimented also with some courses. So that's in the pipeline. Not in the near, near future but in the vision for the future is building out some courses around systems because that's kind of my super power. So systems for freelancers, or solo service providers, things like that. That's definitely not on the next maybe two quarters, because I have learned that when you divide your focus, you don't progress in as quickly in all of the areas as you do if you just focus on one thing. So ...

Steve: Yeah, that's great. I like the fact that you have this focus, this 90 day type focus. Because sometimes when you come up with an idea, it can be easy to think, "Oh I'll do that now. This is the fun thing I've just thought of."

Paige: Yeah, yeah. I'm like that. I think most of us are. Otherwise, it's an entrepreneurial trait I feel like and most of us are like that because we've gone out on our own as entrepreneurs and that's something that we also do. But I've also learned that a lot of times, a few weeks in, I'll be working on this thing and I'll realise this wasn't the best decision. So I think it's a continuous exercise in self restraint, or discipline. So I do have a board in my Asana, where I capture those ideas. I even maybe outline them, if it's like an offer. I might say how much it's going to cost, what the contents are going be, what my plan is. Just get all the ideas out. It's like then my brain can rest, because it knows that the stuff's captured somewhere, but I don't act on it until I'm planning the next quarter. A lot of times, I find that I'll re-evaluate whether or not that's the right decision, based on my strategy like where do I want to go and actually it's more of a distraction than a strategic project.

Steve: What led you to doing the consulting course? Was it because somebody asked you for it? Or did you sit down and think maybe I could do this?

Paige: Yeah, I think it was more along the lines of having sales calls with people who either couldn't afford or weren't ready to do a project of the size that I would do one. But they did need some critical help to get to the next stage, but it was just a small thing. So I just had this what if I offer strategy calls at 90 minutes. That's long enough for us to get something done for us to dive into a specific problem and map out some action points, or what to do. So they get something out of it, but it's very bite sized, it's very affordable. Some people who are kind of maybe hesitant to jump into say a $5000 project, are okay to pay $500 to get the first kind of problem solved. So it was really just an experiment, feeling out the kind of feedback you're getting sales calls or from interactions and then thinking, "Well let's try this and see what happens."

Steve: And are they bookable via your website? Or do they all come out of doing a sales call?

Paige: Yeah, currently you can book a strategy session directly from my site. So it's called a breakthrough session and I have a link in my top nav bar. Its a quick sales page. Then I've embedded a Calendly event specifically for that. So they can actually go in there, choose a date, choose a time, book, pay, everything at their convenience. So it kind of reduces work on my end and people like when they have a problem, they like to get things quickly. So I feel like from their end, there's less back and forth and it's a much smoother client experience.

Steve: So it's paid for up front as well? You just suddenly get a notification saying, "Oh by the way, you're going to be doing this call and there's the money."

Paige: Yeah, yeah. So definitely up front payment for those kind of small things that require you to block time in your calendar. So if someone doesn't show up, that's time you've lost. So yeah. So I take everything up front.

Steve: How about payment for the other jobs? Do you take a deposit? Do you take it all up front? Because they sounded like they could go on for quite hefty chunks.

Paige: Yeah, so it can vary a little bit, depending on the client. Like if you're working with Google, usually they'll have their own processes and they're like, "No, you have to do it like this." So it just depends on kind of who has, I guess it's more power in the relationship. I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe it. Most often I take a deposit up front and it's usually 50% depending on the size of the project. So really big projects will be broken up into smaller chunks, unless the client prefers to pay upfront. Some clients are like that. They're like, "No, it's just more work on my accounting department. Just let's just do it all up front."

Paige: But most often, it's a like 50% deposit. Then the 50% is on the copy presentation. So that's kind of on delivery. So it doesn't include edits, or things like that. So I send the invoice once I presented the copy. Then with some clients, if we're being honest here, if you can tell a client might be a risk, I might take it before that. So upfront to hold their spot, and then maybe 30 days later I might take the second instalment. So it just kind of depends, I think.

Steve: I mean you mentioned systems, you're the system girl. What would you say have been your favourite things, or the most effective things that you've kind of implemented that have made a difference to you?

Paige: So in systems I would say having Asana and knowing how to turn the systems in your business into Asana projects. Because the way I set projects up, for example, I have a leads where I manage leads. I have where I manage client projects. Specific types of client projects. I have where I manage collaboration outreach. If I'm pitching podcasts, or doing guest posts for pretty much everything in my business, I have a system for it in Asana. So that I can take everything that's kind of just rolling around in my head and just put it on paper and I can schedule it, assign it, I even schedule follow ups in those projects, so that if I send a client an email and I'm going to need them to do something, then so I'll send that email. I'll mark that I sent the email and then I'll go ahead and schedule a touch base with myself. So I might touch base in two days. Did I receive this from this client? So that on that day, I can actually go in and be like, "No they haven't responded to me yet. I need to follow up again."

Paige: So I think for me, having those systems. That's a really big thing. You could break even that down into like you have one Asana project, but it's got stages. You have templates. You have routines is a huge thing. I think for me that has been the most beneficial, because you're not relying on yourself to remember things. You work your system. Every day I sign into my Asana, see what's populated. I have reminders to check in with certain systems maybe at the beginning of the week, like routines, like a weekly routine, a monthly routine and I just sign in. I see what's due, I prioritise and then I start executing.

Steve: Wow. It sounds like it's so involved that it works amazingly so long as what you put into it is right as in if you weren't inputting the right stuff, if that makes sense.

Paige: Yeah, I mean so you can systematise kind of the wrong strategy and you'll be efficient and you'll be productive, but you might not be working on the right things. So there's definitely like two things to think about. It's not just the system, the systems' going to help you be more efficient and more productive. But you also have to be working on the right things, because if you're being efficient on the wrong things, in the end, you're just busy and its not going to have an ROI.

Steve: Now if you could tell yourself one thing about being freelance, what would that be?

Paige: I think for me right now, if I could go back to 2016 to young little first starting out freelancer Paige, I would tell her to start building her authority right now. Because I feel like it's the biggest game changer and I had mentors who said, "Do it, like do it now, do it now, do it now." I was like, "No I'm not ready. I'm not ready. Maybe later. Maybe later." But I feel like that is the hugest opportunity I missed is, doing that really deep, highly researched authority building from the beginning.

Steve: But did Paige starting out at that point, do you feel like you need to reach a certain point in order to have that authority legitimately? If you see what I mean.

Paige: Yeah, I see what you mean. That's a really good question. I think you can go really far, because I did grad school and we had to write a thesis. You could use that kind of same set up to write kind of authority building content. It's basically you're doing a lot of research and you're just stealing things that are being said, things that are missing, things that are not being said and you can go kind of a lot further than most new freelancers do. Just with that strategy. Of course, you're learning also. The more research you do, in like the space that you're focusing on, you're going to learn a lot and that's going to be stuff you can use also in sales calls. You can be like, "Well I don't have a good answer for you, but this is what I know has worked and this has worked and this hasn't worked." And kind of things like that.

Paige: It kind of speeds up your learning process, so eventually or even in a short while, you'll have your own things to say. Like, "I'm reading that everyone's talking about this strategy, but it doesn't actually work. We tried it and it didn't work." And break down why you think it didn't work and there's a lot that can be done. So I do get what you're saying like if you're just starting out, how do you come off as an expert? I think it's the answer lies in what do they say in research? Like standing on the shoulder of giants, or something like that? So building off of what's already been said in the space. I don't know if that makes any sense.

Steve: Yeah. No it absolutely doe. It's a great answer, because it's that thing of you're showing your passion and your interest in some thing and therefore evolving your knowledge in the piece you're writing simply by delving so deep into it and learning from it even putting that across, or documenting things that you're testing. It's I guess that definition of authority, which is why some people get held back as well because they feel like imposters like, "Oh I can't possibly do that." But actually maybe we all know more than we think and actually it's okay not to know all the answers because you can go and find them out from everybody else and bring it together in your own way.

Paige: Yeah. There's also value to add in the fact that you recognise that there are gaps. You might not have the answer but you've done this huge survey of what's being said and you're like no one's actually talking about this, or no one's talking about this, or I found that when I'm researching about sales funnels, people talk about it in a way that's not really actionable. You sit down in front of your computer and you want to create a sales funnel and you're like what do I do now? So yeah there's definitely opportunity. I would say that, don't let the imposter syndrome hold you back. I know that's a big thing to say, because we all feel crippled by it at one time or another, but yeah. Approach it from a learning standpoint at least, if nothing else you're going to know everything that's out there about what you're doing. So it's already going to put you 10 or more steps in front of everyone else.

Steve: When you were pitching to the big popular blogs, or magazines, or whatever it might be, would you have written it already or would you pitch them the idea?

Paige: Yeah it depends on their editorial guidelines. So most of the time, it's like an outline. Like a fleshed out outline of kind of what you're going to say. So you do need to have done the research and you need to have a good idea of what your angle is and how it matches up to who you're pitching. But usually outlines enough, but you will come across some editorial guidelines for the specific blog you're going to pitch and they're like, "No we want to see an entire post." Or you might communicate with someone and they're like, "Well let me see the post." Then you have to do that. So it just depends.

Steve: Have you been tempted into speaking on any of those subjects as well as part of your authority building as you put it?

Paige: Yeah, I haven't done it yet. I think that's an option. I think that's something that I'll kind of feel out as I go. So I don't know if you would consider YouTube videos speaking, but I do, do that. I'll create micro content and put it on my own channels. Because I definitely want the larger content pieces on blogs that have more visitors, or have more, let's say authority. Or reputation just from a strategic standpoint. I'm just going to get more out of it if it's not on my blog. I do like to put stuff on my blog as well for my readers. So more micro content, but I do think that there's an opportunity to speak on some of that stuff. I do feel like I would need to have things to add to the conversation ...