I’ve wanted to work for myself for as long as I can remember. So, fresh out of college, I decided to start my own copywriting business.
I kept my marketing simple at first, putting all the work I’ve ever done into a Google doc portfolio and posting the link on Facebook groups whenever someone mentioned they were looking for a copywriter. And that method worked pretty well, helping me bring in $50,000 to $60,000 each year.
But eventually, I realized I wanted to grow a brand that would have more staying power than just me and a Google doc. This was at the point when TikTok was a thing, but businesses weren’t really using it yet, and Instagram had just come out with Reels. Even though video definitely wasn’t the primary method for marketing in my industry at the time, I wanted to make marketing fun, so I decided I’d create some Reels and see what happened.
My first video was so cringy—just me pointing to the words I avoid when copywriting to some stock sound. But it got a little bit of traction, so I kept experimenting. And, within about six months, I was creating videos that were going viral.
Moreover, my videos were converting. Since I started doing Reels, I’ve brought in anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 a month of revenue for my business. About 80 percent of those customers tell me they found me on Instagram, where my primary strategy is Reels. (The rest come from referrals.) And I’ve done this all without ever having a huge audience—even today, I have a very attainable 2,400 followers.
Most of my Reels strategy I’ve figured out on my own through experimentation, and then I legitimized it by taking two fabulous courses: Rise With Reels and Reels Queens. Read on for the strategies that have helped me succeed, and that can help any business owner—no matter the industry you’re in or the size of your following—grow with Reels.
I focused less on growing my audience and more on connecting with them
Here’s a hot take when it comes to growing your business with Reels: Succeeding is really not about your follower numbers. Visibility matters to an extent but, unless you’re trying to be an influencer, I recommend focusing less on view counts and follower numbers and more on getting the right followers and connecting with them deeply.
Sure, I was excited when I hit 1,000 followers. But, it was more important to me that they were aligned followers. Instead of focusing on rapid channel growth, I worked on creating content that would connect deeply with my target audience and convert them. And given I’m a high-ticket service provider, I don’t need all that many to actually buy. If a handful of people spend $5,000 on their web copy a month, I’m in good shape.
Instead of hustling to post multiple reels a day to accelerate growth (while trying to run a business on top of that), I’ve always posted two to four times a week at most, and focused on how well those Reels will attract my target audience. And this is an important distinction. It’s so easy to fall into traps where you’re drawing in a big audience, but it’s the wrong audience. For example, if I were to create content about what it’s like to be a copywriter, I’d probably gain a lot of other copywriter followers, none of whom would want to hire me. I also don’t believe in client shaming reels, because I can’t imagine potential clients would be excited to work with me after seeing that.
Now, anytime I create a Reel or write a caption, I ask myself: Would my target client see this and say: “Yes, she’s the one I want to hire”?
I’m not always selling, but I keep an eye on conversions
Even though conversions are important to me, I’m not constantly selling in my Reels. If you sell to people all the time, it’s not going to work because they won’t feel connected to you in a way that motivates them to buy; similarly, if you’re just funny all the time, you’ll be a really great comedian who sells nothing. You have to find a balance between the two.
I generally aim to give value in about 70 percent of my reels, and then be more promotional in the other 30 percent. But even when I’m trying to make a sale, I tie it back to providing value: For instance, I might do a little skit about that moment when you’ve been working on the same page of copy for three hours and you need a fairy godmother to come and save you, and then I’ll be the fairy godmother that comes in. I think it’s important not to just drop the offer, but also make it clear why it will help them.
To help keep things feeling more personal instead of salesy, I usually ask people to slide into my DMs with a magic word or specific emoji to get more information. (I used to respond individually, and now I use a Manychat chatbot to guide them through the sales process.) This feels friendlier and less stressful than clicking on a link in bio and having to comb through a website, and it reduces buyer fatigue. It also makes my sales process easier—I’ve signed many a client in my DMs because they were already bought in from my content, and then I made the process from there so simple.
At the end of each month, I like to look at my analytics holistically to make sure I’m striking the right balance between providing value and selling. For instance, if I notice I’m getting great engagement but my sales are low for the month, I’ll bump up my sales content a bit for the next month.
I use content pillars and trending audio to inspire me
So many service-based business owners struggle when it comes to thinking of ways to visualize the work they do or make it into a fun and entertaining Reel. Ultimately, I think we all have expertise and observations that someone will find interesting, it’s just a matter of finding your niche and putting your own spin on it.
One activity that helped me was writing out all the topics I cared about and wanted to focus on as a copywriter and then finding patterns and grouping things into categories. This process helped me develop the content pillars I use to this day:
- Portfolio trailers to show off client projects
- Educational videos about brand voice and messaging strategy
- Funny skits for a little humor
- Videos that help people connect with me as a person; and
- Content to launch new offerings.
About once every month or two, I spend a few days filming 30 or so Reels: one day I write down all of my ideas, the next I film everything, and then I’ll spend another day editing and writing captions (while I watch Selling Sunset or some other fun background TV). This is called content batching.
I also like to throw in trending audio or dance videos from time to time, but I don’t always know on filming days how I want to tie them back to my business. For those, I’ll often just record the lip sync or get myself nailing the dance moves, and then figure out later what the on-screen text should be, thinking of how I can tie this funny moment back to my core messaging or the value I provide.
All in, I spend about 15 to 20 hours a month creating these reels for my business—which isn’t bad considering that’s essentially all of my marketing investment. Plus, it’s work that’s fun! A marketing outlet that’s enjoyable for me, is connecting to my audience, and is actually converting has turned out to be a winning equation for my business.