This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Jay Crisp Crow, Crisp Copy
2018 AusMumpreneur WA Business Excellence Award gold winner
Tell us the story behind why you love what you do and why you’re so passionate about sharing your message.
It took me 37 years to learn to take up the space I deserved. To find my own voice, after decades of writing (or singing) in someone else’s.
To make some damn noise.
And while the haters may roll their eyes at chin-filled selfies on my socials and the fact I talk about how much I earn per hour on podcasts, it’s one of the most freeing things in the world to realise: I don’t do it for them. I do it for the people who need me. The women who learn from me and allow me in their most secret of hearts to write for them. And for me.
Why? Because finding the guts to be yourself and embracing your powerful personal brand while doing brilliant business, that’s exceptional. Sure, it isn’t safe. But aren’t we bored to death of safe? Of sounding like every damn competitor you have? Of scrounging for likes and starting emails with an apology and not rocking the boat, not being too threatening to the business queens you once looked up to, of being noticed?
I share my message because every single day I hear from or work with someone who finds their voice because I do.
Tell us a story about a challenging time you faced, how you overcame it and what lesson/lessons/wisdom this experience has taught you about life and business.
When I started Crisp Copy I had a friend. We started a writing group of 2 – bound together by the love of the craft. My enterprise changed the very fabric of our relationship when, 3 months after I launched my copywriting company, she launched hers – and it was scarily similar. She’d never mentioned it in all those hours we’d spent writing together, poring over website design, making up funny taglines.
When I booked 2 clients, then 5, she went after them. She called my clients, offered to do the same job but for cheaper, or for nothing. She badmouthed my work to a large, potential white-label agency. She spoke to our mutual friends and expressed her concern around my abilities: I didn’t have a journalism degree, I hadn’t finished my Bachelor’s in writing, I wasn’t qualified. She was. On the phone to our friend she cried, “how DARE she?!”
How dare I?
And those words sat on my heart, sizzling like acid, for the first year of my business. With every decision I made, every time I knocked back a client because I felt under-qualified, all the hours I woke at night questioning myself. How dare I?
How dare I quit my job and replace, then double, then quadruple my income? How dare I start paying myself superannuation for the first time in my life? How dare I go from copywriter to magazine editor to speaker and presenter to teaching other copywriters how to do it? How dare I be invited to speak to women around WA and then the world about how to build a sustainable business with no capital, how to brand with authority, and how to charge what you’re worth?
Eventually, her voice in my heart asking, “how dare she?” found an answer; “Just watch me.”
I turned that question into a goalpost. If I wasn’t hearing her voice in my head asking, “how DARE she?” I wasn’t aiming high enough. So, thank you, former friend. You asked the very question I needed to dare to do all the things.
What are 3 pieces of advice you would give someone starting out in business?
1. Stop writing safe copy AKA you are the Whiskey.
Or whisky, if you’re English. (Whiskey is triple distilled… just saying.)
The biggest and most valuable asset which makes your business different from businesses similar to yours is YOU. Writing copy which sounds like you should come easy.
It’s hard to be a woman and be unapologetically, uncompromisingly you. I can understand why so many businesswomen take the tragic misstep of ditching their attempts to sound like themselves and settle for ‘safe copy’, which sounds like everyone and no one. Why is it so scary to be yourself?
We’re conditioned to take up less space in our world – literally. Safe copy is like that. It’s speaking quietly, minding your manners, not letting anything out, and hoping everyone will think you’re nice.
Enough of that.
What you need to understand is you’re not the cherry in the Old Fashioned.
You’re the whiskey.
2. Know your people and write (only) for them.
Who’s your ideal client? How old is she? What does she do? Where does she work and play? What does she read? Is she a she? You can’t write something she’ll love if you don’t know who she is. Find out where she hangs out and hang there too. (In a joining like-minded groups way, not a stalkery, picking up her fallen hair way). You won’t please everyone. Not everyone will like you. That’s fine. In fact, that’s what you want. Good, brave copy is self-weeding: so, get tunnel vision on your ideal client, and those who turn away aren’t for you anyway.
3. You’re not failing if you’re not leaping.
We’re women. We’re glorious and clever and capable and full of brilliance. But we’re not bloody circus performers.
I’d like us to all embrace the idea that we are not failing at business if we take a moment, build a bridge between employment and small business ownership, and run a “side hustle” for a while. Especially if we have children or other beautiful faced responsibilities to look after.
Leaping isn’t brave if you don’t have a plan and you do have debt or children. Leaping is amazing if you have a parachute and a spotter on the ground.
Let’s quit making it so tough on each other and ourselves. However you need to run your business is the right way.
What is your proudest business achievement? Why does this mean so much to you?
I never thought I’d be someone who would celebrate money, after embracing living on the middle-class poverty-line for so many years. I knew we were doing ‘better’ financially, but there was a moment when I joined 100 Women last year and realised I’d gone from existing on a part-time wage and Disability Support Pension to officially being a philanthropist – where I had a rush of sensation. This financial year I’m officially the owner of a 6-figure-business, though – of course – as we all know that only means numbers on a piece of paper. It’s good to have a decent profit after only 2.5 years, though!
Launching How Dare She? was a true moment of reflecting just how far I’d come in such a short amount of time. The women we’ve attracted to work with us and the impact we’re already making – alongside having the time and expertise from charging appropriately for Crisp Copy and learning everything I’ve learned from being in business – is truly moving.
Finally, what do you believe is the secret to success?
I have a 3-month waitlist full of hand-picked copywriting clients, a gasp-worthy hourly rate, copycats galore, and testimonials up the wazoo. I teach women in business, marketing professionals, VAs, and new copywriters how to write words that sell. One of my clients said this: “One hour with Jay is equivalent to 8 regular human hours (no joke)…” I work from my tiny cottage with shoddy internet and geese tapping at the back door, some seasons in my ugg boots, others in bare feet. I take care of my health in ways I’ve never been able to before and I attend every kid thing I want to. The secret to my success? Grit, determination, and complete gratitude for getting to live this life.
About our AusMumpreneur Ambassador
Jay Crisp Crow is a business owner, messy mother, and ex-showgirl who used to sing on the back of monster trucks before having children scaring herself into getting sensible. After far too many years working in private school communications believing she couldn’t make a living as a writer, she somewhat surprised herself by becoming a multi award-winning copywriter, editor, and copy coach working with brands and business people around the globe. She owns Crisp Copy – a done-for-you copywriting and copy coaching brand, is co-owner of How Dare She? a platform for women’s voices, and regularly teaches, presents, and speaks in Perth and online on everything copy and words. Jay parents 3 terrifyingly smart children in a cottage in the wilds of the Perth Hills and is married to the best bloke in the world. Yes, that’s really her name.