028: Copywriting and Brand Voice for HSPs: Writing Effective Copy Without Faking a Loud Persona with Krista Walsh

Krista Walsh

Sometimes it can feel like every copywriter and internet famous business owner you see advocates for this really strong, extroverted personality in their writing (super jokey, irreverent/not serious, loud, bold style). But a lot of HSP CEOs don’t write like this and don’t talk like this. They’re more serious, nuanced, careful with their language, and often, more to the point.

So you can feel like you have to change yourself in your copywriting to be noticed, and effective, and get people to like you and not be boring. But introverted ways of writing copy can also be effective! And may, in fact, be more appealing to some people.

In this week’s episode, you’ll learn some of these introverted and HSP-friendly ways from my guest Krista Walsh.

Krista is a website copywriter and strategist helping client-based businesses turn their websites into lead-generating machines. She’s the person you call when you want your website done right from the ground up.

💝 Key Takeaways

  • Where to start in finding your voice as a sensitive business owner and how to come up with effective ideas to write about.
  • Krista shares some HSP-friendly ways of writing your copy.
  • Six strategies for copywriting that feel more aligned for many HSPs.

🔗 Where You Can Find Krista

🌹 Rose’s Resources

📖 (Imperfect) Transcript

We use Descript to provide this transcript which isn’t always perfect but wonderful all the same. (affiliate link 😃)

Rose: Hey, it’s Rose and welcome to another episode of the Sensitive CEO Show. And in this week’s episode, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Krista Walsh. Krista is a website copywriter and strategist helping client-based businesses turn their websites into lead-generating machines. Welcome, Krista.

Wonderful to talk to you today.

Krista: Thank you for welcoming me. I’m excited to be here.

Rose: I would love for you to share with the audience what got you into what you do now.

Krista: I started, several years ago as a freelancer, writer and editor, so I was doing anything anyone would hire me for, so many weird projects.

I even did some ghostwriting of novels and stuff like that. . so that gives you an idea of the breadth of what I was doing. And then, every year, I niched further and further until a couple of years ago when I settled on what I do now, which is exactly what you just read out, website copywriting.

Rose: And have you always liked writing?

Krista: Yes, it was definitely. Passion a gift. That was probably the I discovered it when I was a young kid, and I always knew I wanted to do it somehow.

Rose: Well, it’s such a good skill to have. And before we hit record, I was, we were chatting, and I, I was saying to you for HSPs, being able to write our copy is a good skill because we don’t necessarily like being on video.

We don’t like some of the other marketing things to do, but being able to write copy or, you know, blog posts even is such a good skill to have.

Krista: Yeah. I mean, even if you. Believe that you’re a terrible writer. You are going to end up writing a ton as a business owner. But, unfortunately, for you, I suppose, you can’t get around it until you’re at that level when you can, like have a team come in and do all of the writing for you.

Rose: Yeah, that’s so true because it, it’s not just the website copy, it’s the blog post. If you’re writing regular blog posts and emails that, you know, if you’ve got an email list and then, of al media posts, there’s, there is quite a bit of writing to do as a business owner.

Krista: Yeah, yeah. And even like foundational stuff, like you’re, you’re going to get asked for your bio all the time, which you have to write or, like, things like a mission statement.

Yeah. Anything you’re, you’re just going to get asked to town in the process of marketing yourself. And that’s all copied.

Rose: Have you got any tips for the people listening today who want to get into a bit more writing that are doing little now?

Krista: Tips in terms of like how to write more?

Rose: Yeah. Or tips of, I guess, how to. or where to start? Like where to start to find, find your voice as a business owner, especially as a sensitive business owner.

Krista: Yeah, so my biggest piece of advice is to go to your clients and customers and see how they’re talking about your company and how they’re talking about your products and services.

That’s something I’d recommend for everybody, but pcularly people who, feel kind of gun shy about, like, what do I say? You know, I don’t wanna rub people the wrong way. I don’t know. What my voice should be. And there’s just like a lot of stuff you can get caught up in really quickly in terms of copywriting.

Krista: Like you feel like it has to be perfect. so my advice would be to like, take yourself out of the equation and just go to the source and figure out what they’re saying. And there are practical ways you can do that. the easiest way, like let’s say you’re really new and you haven’t had a ton of customers or clients, the easiest way would be to do something called like review mining.

So you can go onto like similar companies websites and, and see what their reviews are saying and like notice patterns and how people are talking about the outcomes they’ve received. you could go on forums like Reddit, to see how people are talking about, like, let’s say you’re a coach, right?

Krista: You could go in there and see how people are talking about the coaching industry and what kind of problems they’re experiencing. If you have had past clients or customers, you can of course look at your own reviews or your own feedback forms, but. number one recommended way, which is a bit more intense, is to actually interview people that you’ve worked with people tend to talk in interviews a lot differently than they might write about something. It’s a lot less polished, so you’re really getting this like flow of consciousness type of information, which is really helpful when you’re trying to write to, like problems you solve or like motivations people have for seeking someone el out like you, right?

Krista: I know that’s a big ask for a lot of people. It feels a little scary, myself included. So I actually had my virtual assistant do it, . I didn’t wanna do it, so I had her interview all my past clients. and that way I still get the information, but I don’t have to like, Do it awkwardly with them, so,

Rose: That’s such good advice. I love that. And then, do you record the interview and get it transcribed? How do you, how do you then mind the, the sort of information, the wording and everything from that?

Krista: Yeah, absolutely I do. yeah, so I do these interviews for all of my clients’, projects that I’m working on when I’m working on their website copy, yes, and I record them. I usually do them over Zoom or sometimes on a phone call, and I’ll just record it, take the audio, use a transcription service. The one I use is scry, but there are a ton. There’s like Rev, there’s Otter, there’s so many like, software that will do it for you and. Take those transcripts, and that’s what I’m using when I’m looking for like, how do people talk about this?

Krista: How do they talk about themselves? How do they talk about their motivations for seeking this type of company out?

Rose: I love that. So would, would you also do a survey, you know, send out a survey form and then take the answers? I know you said that the, the interviews and the spoken word is a lot easier.

Well, you get better words from it, better copy. But if someone really didn’t wanna do that, would you then do a survey?

Krista: Yeah, so I have in the past, occasionally if somebody really doesn’t wanna ask for the interviews, or sometimes it’s like I’ve had, I did it for one client cuz she was in the mental health field and she felt like she couldn’t ask people to be recorded when they’re talking about their experience.

So she did an anonymized survey so that way there wasn’t any like HIPAA violations. so yeah, the thing with the, those surveys, the information you get, Definitely not as good people sometimes. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and people will like pour their heart out on the page. A lot of people will just like write.

A sentence or like a couple of phrases. And so you really have to, and you don’t have the opportunity to ask follow up questions, particularly if it’s anonymous. So if you are going the survey route, my advice would be to send it to as many people as possible. So like with the interviews, I usually cap it at five to six because that’s, it just gets really time intensive.

Yeah. But with surveys, I would say send it to everybody you can. Right. So that you to account for, you’re gonna get some people who just are gonna barely respond.

Rose: Great advice. Thank you. What are some introverted or HSP friendly ways of writing copy?

Krista: Yeah, I love this question. because I noticed when I got into the copywriting world, and even marketing and online business more broadly, I kept seeing the same type of copy.

Put out like exalted as like the example of what good copy, quote unquote is. And it was all about, it was mostly about brand voice, frankly. It was mostly about these brand voices that were, they were kind of, they were either like super bold or kind of edgy, or maybe they were like super bubbly, whatever, like that variation of like a very high energy, probably extroverted personality and I didn’t resonate with that at all because I’m way more reserved. I definitely do not write with like a lot of exclamation points or I don’t like throw in like curse words.

I don’t make a ton of jokes like when I’m personally writing my own copy because it just, it doesn’t feel aligned with my personality so I’ve actually done a lot of thinking into, okay, how do we talk about how to write copy? in a way that, feels aligned with people who are more sensitive or who are empaths or, or who just have a more like quieter personality. so I have six strategies and we can kind of go through them if you’re interested.

Rose: I would love you for you to share them. Thanks Krista.

Krista: Okay, so the first one is using hesitant language. So this is one that you’ll often see talked about as like a no-no. In copywriting, like if you ever take a course or like read a blog post, people are always like, be bold. Like don’t hedge, like, but I say go for it. I think it can convey like hesitant language. By that I mean things like saying maybe, or perhaps, or maybe you’re feeling this way, you might be thinking this right now. Like just these caveats that sort of, are you admitting that you don’t actually like know exactly how someone’s feeling or you don’t actually have the answers?

I think it’s just a really easy way to add a level of nuance and to slow the pace of your writing. that goes counter to a lot of advice. That’s just. , you have to be bold all the time. And if that doesn’t align with you, you don’t have to do it. and I think it also gives the reader a sense of safety.

At least readers who are HSPs will read that and feel a little bit safer. Like you’re not trying to tell them how to feel. . , you’re not trying to like overpromise. it’s, to me, it conveys a level of honesty and. .

Rose: And that’s super important. I love that you brought up the safety, thing because it’s so important for us as HSPs to feel that it’s a safe space and it’s someone that we want to work with and someone who we want to align with as well.

Krista: And I think in conversation, HSPs tend to be really good at. At responding to energy in the room, right? So if somebody is feeling like a little hesitant, you’re not gonna like lean forward and like push something onto them. . . and in copy, obviously you don’t know how somebody is feeling when they’re going to be reading it, so.

That’s why when I write like sales pages for myself, for example, or like sales email sequences, I tend to err on the side of let’s be hesitant and more gentle with the sales pitch because I don’t know how somebody is going to be, what state they’re going to be in, you know?

Rose: I love that. That’s so thoughtful.

It’s yeah, that thoughtful is the word that comes to mind. I think it’s beautiful. So that’s the first strategy. What’s the second one, Krista?

Krista: The second one is, just to say what you. So again, I think when we look at copywriting examples and we look at how to do copywriting, we can get really caught up in the words, like the words have to be punchy.

Like we have to like be really engaging with our sentences and maybe we have to like, throw in some jokes or we have to like write in a particular way. so if you’re feeling any kind of like, I don’t know how to do that. You don’t have to do that. Actually, the most powerful part, like as a professional copywriter, most of what I do is the messaging piece.

So actually uncovering like, what are the pain points? What is the unique selling, you know, aspect of this product or service. and I think you can just, if you figure out those things, you can just like say that, like you don’t have to worry about how it sounds as much as you think you do. . So I would spend less time on the voice, less time on, you know, how punchy your writing sounds, and way more time on understanding, like if, you know, if you’re having a conversation with somebody, like what do they, what kinds of like actual information about how you work or what you do, will resonate with them.

Rose: I love that one because there, there’s nothing worse when someone beats around the bush and you’re reading something and it’s like, well get to the point. What do you mean? Yeah.

Krista: Yeah, that is another point I see a lot in email copywriting. I think particularly where, like so many sales emails will start with a very long story  and then at the end they will pivot into the pitch. and partly it’s because I’m in marketing, so like I get a lot of those. But I don’t know. I wonder if there is some like general audience fatigue with that kind of. rhetoric, like I’d much prefer somebody just like give me the sales pitch so that I can like, have the information and then I can make a decision instead of reading a story that I know isn’t really a story, you know? . , if you’re telling a story just for the sake of the story, that’s a different, that’s a different story.

Rose: So what is the third one?

Krista: So the third one is kind of what I opened this interview talking about, to focus on what we call in the marketing world, voice of customer, not your voice not to say you, if you have a really strong voice and you, you wanna, you know, be strong with that in your, in your copywriting. Absolutely. But, it can be helpful for HSPs. Not all HSPs, but a lot of us tend to have like softer personalities like that don’t have the hard edges, that aren’t like, the people who like walk into a room and own it necessarily right away.

So if you have like less of a strong personality and you’re, you’re not sure how to like write copy with that kind of thing, this is where focusing on your client’s points of view can be really helpful. It just takes the lens off you, puts it on them. And, doing that through the interviews and the surveys and stuff I talked about, and in my opinion, that’s what a lot of us HSPs do naturally in conversations if we’re not.

Krista: Coming in like often. we’re not the people like cracking jokes in the center of the tension, but we’re the people having like really intimate connections in the corner, because we’re really good at listening and we’re really good at like reflecting back to people what they’re giving us and like matching energy so that’s why I think that one’s a really good strategy.

Rose: Yeah, I love that one. And it’s, as you say, we’re using the gifts that we already have, and we are such good listeners. So yeah, really lean into that. I love that. So what is the fourth one?

Krista: The fourth one is to share your story. So this is pretty self-explanatory, but if you are feeling skittish about doing any kind of selling. Oftentimes, if you have a service or a product and you’re an entrepreneur, a lot of us got into that business because we experienced the problem, and then we figured out how to solve it, and now we’re shepherding others through that same journey. So if that kind of is your story too, then that lends itself really well to a natural way of selling what you do without it being like, quote unquote sales copy like you.

Share your experience. You’re not trying to get into someone else’s head at that point. You’re just saying like, here’s what I went through, here’s how I figured it out, and that’s what I can help you do. And that is so powerful because I mean, that’s why like, we relate to movies and stuff because we see ourselves in the stories of others.

Rose: I love that one. And it’s, I guess it’s being vulnerable as well because a lot of us have been, been in those places that we have struggled, but we are often our, our clients are ourselves. Many steps behind us or sometimes just a few steps. So yeah, I love that one. And I think when you’re sharing your voice or your story, it’s actually coming from you.

It’s not someone else’s idea, or it’s, yeah. I love that one.

Krista: Exactly.

Rose: What’s number five?

Krista: Number five is to stand for something so. This one can be a way to get some bold messaging into your copy without like faking a personality that’s not yours. Or like an energy or disposition that’s not yours is if you care about something deeply that’s related to your company.

So I know a lot of HSPs, we feel stuff deeply, and a lot of us started our companies because of. Larger problem that we see, like a collective struggle that’s going on, and we’re like, we’ve gotta help people bring that to life. So if you stand for something, you could make that actually a central piece of your messaging and I feel like that would come really naturally for you if it, you know, if it is true for you, right?

Rose:  I love that one. What, would be an example? Like, do you have an example of what you stand for?

Krista: Let me think about that. Really.

Can I give an example of a client of mine, cuz I think hers is a stronger scared? Yeah. Yeah. So she was a, she’s a mindset coach, like working with the subconscious for actors. and so what she stands for is, This is also kind of her personal story coming in here too. But she struggled as an actor, like being successful for a long time, because of mindset blocks that were getting in her way, stemming from a lot of like negative past experiences she’d had.

Even to the point where she was diagnosed with some chronic illnesses related to that. And so she basically healed herself through understanding these modalities and working with other practitioners. And she realised that that was the pathway to her success. And now she sees other actors struggling with that too.

And she jumps into helping them. So I guess what she stands for is, you know, not just helping people. The financial side of things or like the practical side of things, which there are so many companies out there, like helping actors, like with their craft as an actor or like how to get an agent type of practical stuff.

Krista: And she’s, like, believes in going to the root and solving the problems within first. And that comes through really strongly in her messaging. Yeah,

Rose: I love that. And I, I guess it goes back to the sharing your story as well because she’s been there, so she can help people through their  own journey. Yeah. It also did relate to that really strongly too. Yeah. Yeah.

Rose: Wonderful. So what is the sixth strategy? I love these strategies, Krista. They’re brilliant.

Krista: Thank you. So number six is to go for substance and clarity over style.

So this goes back to the covers, like the earlier conversation we were having about like, okay, copywriting isn’t just about the words and it isn’t just about like this word is like punchier than that word, or this word is like clever or like, do I need to throw a joke in here? Or like people getting lost in writing.

There’s obviously some of that in there. But if your primary goal is to really. Share the substance of your message and aim for clarity. Like, make sure, like if somebody reads this homepage, there is no way that they’re gonna read this and not understand, like, what I do, what the outcome is for my clients, and what makes me different from like and the next person down in Google search results, for example.

Right. So if you can get there with clarity, you are 90% of the way there. And then at that point, if you want to like come in after and you wanna look at the style and like punch it up a bit, you’re total, you’re totally welcome to do that. But I think going for clarity first can be really helpful for people who are struggling to get started, who are feeling, Kind of gun shy about copywriting because it feels like it has to be this like really fun or like really engaging quote unquote thing that has to be like, really great and like, like Don Draper wrote it or something.

It really doesn’t; it’s really just about like making sure people get what you’re saying.

Rose: Brilliant. I love this framework, and I think it’s such a good, yeah, a good framework to follow when you are starting out or even when you are a seasoned copywriter. I guess having all of these in mind, all these six strategies in mind.

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. So I wanted to ask; a big part of copywriting is SEO,and  search engine optimisation. How important do you think it is when you are writing, say, the, front page o your website or you’re about a page or even a blog post?

Krista: Yeah, So it depends. If your goal is to get traffic through Google, it’s obviously incredibly important.

So SEO is a focus of mine when I do website copy projects, but not for every client. Sometimes clients come in, and they’re like, I don’t really need a rank on Google because I have 50,000 LinkedIn followers. Like there’s just no reason for me to like do that. Or they have some other marketing channel that’s working really well for them.

Krista: So they’re not all that interested in it, or they’re in an industry where they’re just, they’re not niche enough for it to make sense. A really common one I see is if you’re like a business coach, but you have no. There’s not really a niche yet. Like you’re just like, I just coach anyone right now.

Because I’m still figuring it out, like, don’t, don’t try to like do SEO for like the phrase business coach because at this point in 2022 when we’re recording this, it, you’re not gonna be able to rank for that term. It’s way too general. So wait until you have like a thing that you do that’s specific enough that people who are Googling for it are definitely your ideal clients, and you’re able to rank for it.

And if that’s the case for you, go for it. Do you know? Absolutely.

Rose: I love that advice. I’m so glad I asked that question. It was a cooly one that I threw in, but I think that’s really helpful because so many people believe that SEO is a be-all and end-all that they have to SEO their website. And as you pointed out, it’s not always relevant for everyone.

So, brilliant. Thank you.

Krista: Yeah, not always. If it is, it can work really well for you. I mean, for me personally, Google is my main source of leads for my business, so it works really well for many of my clients and for me. Like especially if you have a locally based business, you have a really good shot of ranking because, you know, your market is suddenly like just your city or just your region and not.

All of the world. Yeah. Yeah. So that can be a good hint that you might be in a good place. Like if you’re a photographer in Baltimore, you know, maybe you can rank for a photographer like Wedding Photographer Baltimore. You can probably get there. . . yeah. And it can be huge for you if it works.

Rose: Yeah, definitely. I’ve had most of my leads come from SEO as well, so I know the power of it; it’s amazing. But yeah, the local search is so much easier, isn’t it, than worldwide.

Krista: I will add one thing to this because you mentioned blogging. So let’s say you are somebody, and you’re like, God, I would really like to get traffic from Google, but I am somebody who.

It’s just impossible for me to rank my homepage or my services page because I don’t have a niche or because like the market is so saturated that it’s just like I can’t come to compete with the companies I’ve been trying. It’s not working. Your blog can be a way in. It’s a little more indirect because it’s not people who are like searching to like hire a coach or like searching to like hire a financial advisor right away.

But they might be searching for a topic related to what you do. They’ll find your article, which will be much easier to rank because it’s, ‘s a much more niche keyword for a blog post. And then they’ll read your blog post. If they like it, maybe they’ll reach out right. , most likely,y what they would do is, like, join your email list and then they’ll stay on there for a couple of months and eventually become a client.

So it’s like way less of a direct path, but you can definitely grow an audience that way, too,o through Google…

Rose: Brilliant. Thank you for adding that in. That’s, that’s really important to remember. So this has been amazing. I’ve loved everything you’ve shared today, and I have one final question before we wrap up that I ask all of my podcast guests.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Krista: The number one thing I do is take a walk. Not terribly exciting, but that is, that’s probably what I do the most in those cases.

Rose: I love that. Yeah. That, that’s one of my passions, walking too. It does. I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but it is.

If you love walking, it is exciting, and you never know what you’ll see when you’re out there.

Krista: Yeah, there’s something about forward motion and also day-to-day, I feel like my face is always, like my, my eyes are always looking at something like 12 inches ahead of my face at most, usually, you know.

And so when you’re walking, you just get that. Honestly, you just get that long gaze going that I don’t get outside of my walks. So I think that’s partly why it helps. It’s just like a state change. My eyes are focused on other things, you know? Beautiful.

Rose: Well, thank you so much. I will pop all of your links into the show notes, and if anyone wants to reach out, they’ll know exactly where to find you.

But thank you again, Krista.

Krista: Yeah, thank you so much.

Rose: Thanks everyone, for listening to another episode.

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