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030: How to Write Words that Sell with Kelsey Formost

Want to learn how to write copy that sells and become a better writer? This episode is full of actionable tips and advice on how to improve your writing skills!

Want to become a better writer?

Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural-born writer, ANYONE can learn key copywriting principles and use them to jumpstart your business. It’s one of the most valuable skills you can have!

But first, what is copywriting anyway?

Copywriting is the art and science of using words to get people to take your desired action.

It’s about helping your prospective clients feel deeply seen and heard. The more personal you get, the more connection you’ll form with your ideal customer, and ultimately, the more conversions you’ll get in your business!

How to write words that sell

My guest today, Kelsey Formost, is a copywriting expert who teaches entrepreneurs how to write words that sell. Whether you’re writing for your website, your email list, or even your social media captions, Kelsey helps you break it all down into actionable steps, demystifying the sometimes-overwhelming task of writing for your business.

Learning some key copywriting skills will definitely increase your conversions and make you a more effective communicator, but it goes deeper than just “more sales”. Kelsey’s mission is to help her students feel deeply seen and heard in the echo chamber of the internet. It’s about feeling confident and empowered every time you sit down to communicate with your audience!

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How to improve your writing if it’s not your natural talent
  • The 10-minute tip to help you find the exact words that speak to your Ideal Customer Avatar
  • The most important, fundamental copy principle you need to know
  • How to create a value proposition and let people know why they should care about what you have to say
  • The #1 mistake people make on their website copy

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And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts to get automatic updates. My goal for this podcast is to inspire those who seek flexibility and freedom in their lives by making something happen with holistic, soulful, step-by-step strategies from me and other experts.

Links + Resources Mentioned in this Episode: 

Related Episodes:

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Kate Kordsmeier 0:00

Welcome back to the Success with Soul podcast. I'm Kate Kordsmeier. This episode today is all about copywriting. Now, I'm gonna be honest before you tune out thinking I'm not a writer or talking about copywriting sounds like a total snooze fest. I promise you stick with me, this has been one of my favorite episodes to record. We've got Kelsey Formost in the house today, one of my favorite copywriting experts who teaches entrepreneurs how to write words that sell. So whether you're writing for your website, your email list, your social media captions are your blog, Kelsey helps you break it all down into actionable steps. And I kid you not when I say actionable, this episode has so many actionable tips that you can actually take and go implement in your business today. I loved chatting with Kelsey and I'm so excited to share this episode with you ready to go. You're listening to the Success with Soul podcast with Kate Kordsmeier ex journalists turned CEO of a multi six figure blog and online business. But it wasn't that long ago that Kate was a struggling entrepreneur who lacked confidence, clarity, and let's be honest money. But all those failures, experiments and lessons learned helped Kate create a thriving business that impacts thousands and brings freedom, flexibility and fulfillment to her life. If you're ready to do the same and make something happen with holistic, soulful, step by step strategies from Kate and other experts, you're in the right place. here's your host, writer, educator, Mom, recovering perfectionist, bookworm and sushi connoisseur, Kate Kordsmeier.

Welcome Kelsey. So glad to have you.

Kelsey Formost 1:56

Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here.

Kate Kordsmeier 1:59

Yes, thank you. So I'm excited to chat with you today for so many reasons. But one of which is because I am a writer myself. And I feel like it's one of those things that often comes so naturally to people like you either are a writer or you're not is kind of how I've thought about it in the past. But it really is a skill that you can learn. And of course, like anything people get better with practice. And so I'm excited to have you help our listeners who are trying to improve their copy, figure out how they can do it if they maybe aren't a natural born writer.

Kelsey Formost 2:37

Absolutely. I'm so glad you brought this point up first, because I think a lot of people tune out of conversations about copywriting or writing for your business. Because they have some, you know, repressed thing that like they got a C on an English paper in 10th grade and ever since then they think like I'm not a writer, I can't write. And that's why copywriting in particular is so exciting to me, because anyone can learn key copywriting principles and use them to sort of jumpstart ideas, understand how to communicate with their ideal audience, in business and beyond. And so that's why I think copywriting is basically the most valuable skill that anyone in business can have. And a lot of people don't know that many, seven, even eight figure business owners still write their own copy, because it's so personal. And the more personal it is, the more connection you're going to form with that ideal customer and the more conversions you're going to get.

Kate Kordsmeier 3:44

Yeah, love that. That's such a good starting place. So let's let's go there. Tell me Tell us how you got into this business. What's your background? Are you a natural born writer? And yeah, let's hear your story.

Kelsey Formost 4:00

So a lot of people always are excited to find out that my background is actually in acting and screenwriting. So I was a total theater nerd growing up. I went to New York, I did some Off Broadway stuff. I had a whole theater career. And then I moved to LA and I've been on TV and movies, and I did all the things. And after 10 years in entertainment, I started getting this itch where I was like, This just doesn't feel as fulfilling to me anymore. And so I really dove into screenwriting and I realized that Oh, what I'm really loving is telling stories. Like it's not necessarily acting, it's telling stories. And then screenwriting still wasn't quite doing it for me. And long story short, what I discovered I really love to do is help people feel heard, helping people feel deeply seen and deeply heard, especially The echo chamber that is the internet is the most fulfilling thing to me. And so that is why I really went all in on copywriting about two and a half years ago at this point. And I came up with an Emmy winning Hulu show to be a full time copywriter. That's how much I love it. And that's how much I believe in it.

Yeah, I know it's a it's a very fun fact. So fun at parties.

But I think it should be so encouraging and empowering to anybody who has ever had an idea that they don't know how to put into words, you can figure out through copywriting how to effectively communicate that be like, to your business and beyond. So that's, that's how I got started. That's what lit the fire. And that's where I'm going.

Kate Kordsmeier 5:55

I love that so much to help people feel truly heard. That's so beautiful, and not exactly the kind of like feeling that you usually think of when you think of copywriting which can sometimes feel so like corporate and like everything's, you know, a lead and not a person and, you know, really humanizing it.

Kelsey Formost 6:17

Oh, yeah, I mean, I think that one of the coolest things is actually the textbook definition of copywriting, which is the art and science of using words to get people to take a desired action. It's not just about sales, it's about moving your reader towards taking an action. And the art part is you, it's who you are, it's the gift that you're sharing with the world. And the science part is like the formulas and the go to things that you can rely on that, you know, we're going to make you successful in your communications again, and again and again. And to your point, Kate, nobody wants to talk to a corporation, nobody wants to buy from a faceless company. They want to connect with a human being that is where the sales are. But it's also where success is in a much, much broader sense.

Kate Kordsmeier 7:13

Yeah, yeah. Which brings me like up an interesting kind of dilemma that I found, sometimes in my business, depending on different businesses that I've had, I should say, and that it can be challenging to always have to be the face, right? Because it's like people do want to connect with a face and with a person and, and you are more likely to be successful when you have that. But it's a lot of work to always be the face. Right. So do you have any experience with you know, working with brands or people who have successful businesses, but aren't the face?

Kelsey Formost 7:52

Yes, absolutely. One that immediately jumps to mind is a client of mine who has an eco friendly Candle Company. And she donates a huge portion of her profits to programs that empower women. And so her I actually use her as a case study in my mini course how to write a value proposition, because I think there is a lot of people can actually use that as an excuse to not put themselves out there because maybe they're not as comfortable, you know, being the face of a company, but you can still have a company that has a mission that is very attached to a human element. That is a way to do that. Like another client that I can think of right now is someone who has an essential oil business, and she makes her clients the face like anytime she gets the testimonial, she'll ask them to to share their photo and share their story. That's another way to increase the human element as well. Like coming from a place then yeah, that's such a good point. That's a great idea to about using testimonials and your own clients and like the people who use your product or service to help you tell the story testimonials and actually competitors testimonials are my number one favorite place to get inspired for copywriting

Kate Kordsmeier 9:17

interesting. What do you mean by competitors testimonials?

Kelsey Formost 9:21

Oh, girl. Okay, everybody, listen up. This is my number one favorite tip to share with people because it leaves literally you can do it in 10 minutes and it's going to change everything for you. It's called review mining. What you do and when I say mining, I mean like pickaxe for the golden nuggets. What you do is you find a look alike like someone who sells something similar to you or has a similar vibe to you. And you go to their reviews, or their testimonials and you read them and you're going to notice that those customers are going to be repeated A few key words and phrases over and over. Those are your ideal customers, because those are the people who have already opted in, they've already bought something that's similar to you. Or you can do this in your own reviews. They've already bought from you, you already know what's working, what you do is you mind those reviews for those keywords and phrases that people were repeating over and over, you literally copy and paste them into your own copy on your website, on your sales page, whatever it is. And what you're doing is you're literally taking the words out of your ideal customers mouth so that when they read your copy, they go, Oh, my God, it's like she took the words right out of my mouth. Brilliant.

Kate Kordsmeier 10:45

That is super smart. We've done like a similar strategy, but not from the, like a competitor standpoint, I guess, which was we surveyed people after they went through our funnel, and then they didn't buy and we asked them, hey, hit reply to this email and tell me why you didn't buy like no hard feelings, we really just want to know so we can serve you better in the future, right? And we got amazing responses, but they're all pretty much like excuses and objections that we could easily address. And so we then literally copy paste, like in their words, even though a lot of times it's not how I would say it, it's not grammatically correct or it's not, you know,

Kelsey Formost 11:26

there's no proper punctuation anymore, right. It doesn't exist anymore.

Kate Kordsmeier 11:36

So true. Yeah. But that's that's such a brilliant idea. I love that I'm gonna have my team

add that to our to do list.

Kelsey Formost 11:46

Awesome. See, you doesn't matter what level you are the the formulas of copywriting can help you no matter what.

Kate Kordsmeier 11:54

Thank you for sharing that. So okay, let's back up. Take us back to the beginning for or to for beginners, I, where do you even start with learning how to improve your copywriting. Like, if you're a business owner, and you want to improve your marketing, and you just need like a one on one. And this is not your forte, where do you start?

Kelsey Formost 12:18

Well, I would say first of all, start with some free content. Get yourself acquainted with what copywriting is, and how it can help you in the first place. I've got a lot of free content at, I really like a lot of the free content on copy hackers. Ashlyn Carter has a really great YouTube channel, I love sharing all of these resources, because everybody is going to resonate a little bit differently with different things. Now, what I'll also say is that the people who don't identify as writers, those entrepreneurs who are exactly what you're describing, who know that they want to improve their copy, but they don't know where to start, and they also don't really want to get super technical. That is exactly who I created my signature course for. So I have a signature course called copy class. And it's four modules two and a half hours long. And it's a deep dive, but it's not complicated. And I go over copywriting 101, how to develop your ideal brand voice, how to write a website that converts and how to write emails itself. So it's like the big four things that you need to focus on. But again, if you are just looking to get your feet wet, understand some key principles start with free content. There's a lot of out there.

Kate Kordsmeier 13:38

Yeah, and similar to your point about looking at like your competitors reviews and client testimonials and things like that. I feel like also go and read what they're doing. Like, I used to be a journalist. And whenever I wanted to improve my I was a restaurant reporter and I travel writers like whenever I wanted to improve that writing, I would just go read other people's really good writing, and it's like your group and pasting anything, or even taking it, you're not even writing on the same stuff. But reading good writing, I think helps make you a better writer,

Kelsey Formost 14:11

I have another tip.

Okay, this is another life changing tip. If you don't already do this, keep what's called a swipe file. A swipe file is something in your inbox, like a label in your inbox or a folder in your bookmarks bar, where and you can just call it your swipe file. And what that means is anytime that you find yourself being like, Ooh, this is good, or Oh, this person's subject line got me to open it or Oh, I really like how they started with a story in this email and it led to the sale or I love the layout of this website. And I love how they described it. Anytime you come across something and as a customer, you're like, Ooh, that's good. They got me. It goes in the swipe file. And then when it comes time to write your own Service page email website, you can go to that swipe file and have this ready made library of content that you know resonates with you, which means it probably resonates with your ideal customers. And it's a great way to give yourself a baseline and inspiration for ideas.

Kate Kordsmeier 15:18

Ah, love it such a good idea. So good. Okay, so one thing that we actually asked our audience before we recorded this episode, if they had any questions, and one question that came from a woman in our group named Connie, and she asked, she said, I'd love to get tips on how to keep writing fresh and avoid overusing words. curious if you have if you ever find yourself like, Oh, I'm saying the same phrases over and over or I know that as like I said, as a food writer, it was like, Okay, I cannot say delicious. One more time.


if you have something that especially if you're in like a very niche industry, where there's kind of terminology that's used over and over again, how do you keep it fresh?

Kelsey Formost 16:06

That's such a good question. Connie. By the way, I'm picturing you as Connie Britton, in my mind, if any, anybody doesn't know who Connie Britton is go watch Friday Night Lights. You're welcome. Yeah. So to keep copy fresh, that's a great question. Again, I would say go to that swipe file idea. Because inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. Another really great place to get inspiration is if you have a few Instagram accounts in your niche or your area that you follow, I keep a separate folder in my saved. You know how like when you go to your saved library, again, you can actually create a folder, I actually have a separate folder of like swipe file ideas from Instagram, so captions that I really liked, or ads that were really effective. And that again, just can sort of jog ideas for you. Now, as far as repeating words and phrases, I totally get it. If I hear empowerment one more time, I'm just I'm gonna cry. But I think that there is a balance between repeating certain words and feeling stale, versus repeating phrases that align with your personal brand. Repetition is often recognition. I say that all the time, a lot of times people are afraid to repeat content on multiple platforms, or they're afraid that they're like, harping on the same tagline over and over. But I always say it takes the human brain, this is a nerdy psychology thing, it takes the human brain seven times of being exposed to something for us to really, for it to stick in our brains. And for us to feel like, Okay, I know this person, or I know this product, and I feel comfortable enough to actually engage with them or buy from them. So don't be afraid of repeating things that are serving you phrases that are serving you that are connecting with your audience. But if it's just like, you know, stale phrases, or stale words, that you just feel like, Oh, God, I can't even think about this anymore, then, you know, pretend like you're a high school or go to a thesaurus, calm, or go to your swipe file to get new fresh ideas. You know, keep making it easy on yourself. when no one's trying to make you Shakespeare, you're probably not repeating yourself as much as you think you are either.

Kate Kordsmeier 18:33


And even if you know that you're repeating yourself, one single person probably hasn't seen all the other times that you've said that same thing before, right? So that when my mom, even my own mother will be like,

Kelsey Formost 18:49

Oh, I like nothing you put on Instagram, and I'll be like, that wasn't an email two weeks ago. Don't Don't you remember that story? And she's like, Oh, no, I guess I didn't miss that one. Yeah, totally.

Kate Kordsmeier 19:00

I think there's something it's like our ego wants to protect us and make us believe that everyone thinks we're the most important person in the universe. But as Jillian Leslie she was a woman that was on the podcast, a few episodes back and she said, the great thing is actually that nobody cares about you. Not that nobody actually cares about you, but it's like nobody's thinking about you and analyzing everything and reading and watching and listening to everything you ever do. It's okay. Like you have to repeat yourself in order to get your message across. So it's good

Kelsey Formost 19:37

100% that actually is a that leads right into probably the most important copywriting. Fundamental ever with it. When someone comes to your site or weeds your copy. They aren't ever thinking about you. They are only wondering one thing which is What's in it? For me? That is the only question in anyone's mind at any given time when they're reading your stuff. So you can take the pressure off yourself to have to be like, Oh, I'm gonna use my copy to prove that I'm so great. How I mean, if you even just think about it, if somebody copied was like, This is why I'm great. You're all the reasons I'm great. You're out, you're

Kate Kordsmeier 20:24

great, who better? What can you do for me?

Kelsey Formost 20:26

Right, exactly. But if someone is like, here's how I'm going to benefit you and make your life better and help allay your fears. Then you're in, then you're like, tell me more.

Kate Kordsmeier 20:37

Which is such a good point, too. And I know like, I'm a definitely a student of Amy Porterfield. And she often talks about how when you create like a digital course, or a program or something, and you have a sales page for it, that it's, it's tempting to want to say, here's what you get, you know, 18 modules and 36 videos and 20 templates, and blah, blah, blah, that is not, you know, going to get people to buy, but it's like taking them through this transformation, what's the results you're going to get for them? So rather than saying, We have eight modules, you say, you know, you could get from a point A to point B, and that's what they want to get out of it. They don't care if it comes in the form of eight or one or 1000 modules, right?

Kelsey Formost 21:26

Well, it's so true. And I actually use Amy. I love her copywriter, rice Schwartz, one of her copywriters and I use her as an example in copy class for this lesson on translating features into benefits, which means that you're taking a feature like this module is about x, and you are translating it into this module is going to help you do x, right, the feature becomes a benefit to the reader. And one of my favorite examples of it ever comes from Amy Porterfield, which is she has that course on teaching people how to create courses. And her feature into benefit isn't this course is going to help you learn how to teach a course. It's imagine having extra time at the end of the day to sit down for dinner with your family because you have an online course making money for you in the background. Hmm. How powerful is that image? It's so good. And it's something that a lot of people, I feel like people think they have imposter syndrome and they feel like oh, I have to prove how you know, great I am and I have to just tell everybody all the things that this course or this product is going to do for them. When in reality people just want to know how you're gonna make their lives better when if you can put an emotional story. Yeah, that's that's where the moolah is.

Kate Kordsmeier 22:50

Yes, I love it such a good tip too. Oh, this is a good episode, some good actionable

things for people to do.

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Kelsey Formost 25:06

100%. So first of all, I always say, start with your ideal customer. You if you're in business, you probably have already done this, but revisit it, if you already have. And if you haven't done it, great, this is a great opportunity to go do it. Build your ideal customer avatar. And avatar, if you don't know, it's just like when you're when you're logging into a video game, it's like that hovering person who's like you get to be Serena for who has like, it's a character, right? So you're building a character? Who is your ideal customer, the person who's gonna see your stuff and is like, holy crap. It's like she's in my brain. How do I pay her to help me? That's your ideal customer. If you come from that place, then you know what questions are in that person's head? When they're coming to your website? What did they type into Google to find you? What are they afraid of? happening, if they don't have a product like yours, start from that place, and that is going to immediately kind of inform what you talk about in your voice. The second part of it is your tone. I always encourage people to be clear over clever. You, if people don't understand what it is that you're selling, you're gonna lose them, you only have six seconds to get their attention. And if you are trying to be really cutesy, it's just it's not gonna stick. And then the other thing I say is, if you're having trouble, clearly conveying your stuff in a tone that makes sense. pretend like you're talking to a 10 year old 10 year olds are smart enough to get big concepts, but you have to explain it to them in such a way that it's really clear and concise. And that is exactly the kind of tone that you want to take when you are writing copy. Even if it's to an adult woman who's your ideal customer avatar, because you want to make really sure that she's with you the whole time. You want her to be nodding her head going like oh my God, that's me. That's Oh, that's totally me. Oh, crap. I do that. Is she spying on me?

Kate Kordsmeier 27:25

Yeah, exactly. And one thing that's helped me along those same lines is writing like I'm talking to a friend. So sometimes I think, especially when you're trying to like sell something, and people always like, Oh, I don't want to be salesy. Oh, well, don't, you don't need to worry. You don't need to be pushy or obnoxious or aggressive. Like those are the things that we think of when we say salesy, but you're just telling your friend if you went and you know, if I watch a good show on Netflix, I'm going to write my friend and tell her, you need to go watch the show. And that's essentially the same thing I'm doing, if I'm selling an affiliate product, or even my own product, as always, just like, I write it as, like, I'm talking to Julie right now. And if I wouldn't say this to Julie, I'm not gonna say it here. And if I wouldn't say like this to her, or you know, and like, keep it, keep it more casual, I think, then you, you know, would think in a professional setting, I find that casual connection really helps.

Kelsey Formost 28:26

100% always, always, always you should write how you talk, don't try to be a buttoned up LinkedIn profile, and like professional, I'm doing air quotes. You can't see them on the podcast. That is absolutely something everybody should practice. And if, again, if you have a writer's block here, a really great tip that has worked for a lot of my students is the voice memo trick. Turn on your voice memo on your phone and literally pretend like you're talking to your friend on the phone describing what you're doing to her. Just like Kate said, like, how you would talk to somebody about oh my god, if you seen Ozark Holy crap, you would do the same thing about like, Oh my gosh, have you heard about this amazing eco friendly candle, we'll go back to that and it's burning and I I never really knew this about candles and you know, whatever it is. If you have problems with the idea of writing, cool, no problem, talk, talk, talk to your phone. You've got one people got one and transcribe it for you. Exactly. And then it's and then you've got it, you've got exactly you can literally transcribe those words, you speak out loud.

Kate Kordsmeier 29:37

That is such a good idea. And even as a writer, I'm like I should do that more often. Because sometimes it is just like, I just need to start talking to get it out, you know, and then you can go back and polish it up and you know, make any edits that you need to but that's such a good idea. I can't remember who it was that said this now. It's gonna drive me crazy, but it was listening to a podcast. I think it was on Jenna Kutcher, his podcast, and whoever her guest was, was saying that he wrote his entire book by voice memo Inc. And then he sent it off to a transcription service. But he would just like be cooking dinner. And, Okay, I'm gonna write chapter one. And he'd just voice memo into his phone. And that's how he like he never sat down and wrote any of the text, like, That's brilliant.

Kelsey Formost 30:26

I do it all the time for freebie creation, and for course creation. Because if you're talking out loud teaching, it's a very different feeling than trying to write out instructions. I love this because it makes it feel more engaging. It makes it feel I mean, you are literally talking to a person when you're doing it. And so if you find yourself being like, Oh, I'm tripping up on this idea, I should like really focus in and figure this out. That it's a really good, it gives you a lot of information as the producer of the content. Right? Right. So similar question here. This makes

Kate Kordsmeier 31:05

me think, I know it's not exactly copy. But do you find that written format copy does performs better in certain areas, whereas maybe video or audio would perform better and other settings?

Kelsey Formost 31:22

Yes, email is your numero uno marketing tool, above and beyond no matter what, and written words, in emails performed better than just putting a video link? That is just nerdy data that I happen to know off the top of my head as a copywriter, but also in my own life, like when I often think about, okay, what am I engaging with the most as a consumer? I always love reading emails. And I love watching videos on social media. Yeah, so video is super, super helpful on every social media platform, from Instagram to LinkedIn. And I think that the written word is absolutely necessary on your website, and in your emails, and your email, sales happen. And that's like the most effective writing that you're ever going to do is in your emails.

Kate Kordsmeier 32:19

Yeah, I totally agree. Totally agree. Okay, so this is something that we pulled from your site, but You talk a lot about a value proposition. What is this? And why is it essential to the user experience?

Kelsey Formost 32:35

Oh, my gosh, I'm so happy to ask about this. Because I know that the word like the phrase value proposition sounds so boring and corporate, but literally, like, it's such a quick win, that makes such a huge difference, if you get it right. So your value proposition is a statement that appears above the fold on your website. What that means is, it's the first thing you see you don't have to scroll to see it. It's above before. It is a concise statement, one, maybe two sentences, that immediately tells the reader why they should care. It says what you're offering, why you're different from your competition, that's where the value comes in. And it gets them to read further down the page. If you have an effective value proposition, it's going to be memorable. It is. But most importantly, it's going to get that reader to be engaged in those first six seconds. Because, again, nerdy neuroscience here, you've got six seconds, it's so short, to convince somebody that they should continue to read your stuff, or they should continue to engage with you. And if you don't get them in that first six seconds, they're out there. Getting them again, are slim to none. So that's why your value proposition which is that first impression is so freaking huge. It's often where I recommend people start like if you are looking to learn more about copywriting and you want to update something on your website, start with your value proposition. Yeah,

Kate Kordsmeier 34:14

so smart, so smart. I love all the nerdy neuroscience. I feel like writing and caught I mean copy is so much about psychology. And you know, you mentioned like mental health plays a big role as well in your copywriting. So tell me more about that.

Kelsey Formost 34:31

Yeah. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad we're talking about this because I think so often, especially women in this space in this entrepreneurial solopreneur space, we neglect our mental health in favor of the hustle and that is going to run you into the ground and it's a detriment to your success, which is why I'm constantly looking for mental health resources to share with my audience. It all comes back to that original idea I shared, which is helping people feel deeply heard, seen and understood. If you are paying attention to when you feel fully and deeply seen and heard, that's where the magic happens in business and in life. So that's why copywriting can kind of be this sort of magic bridge between business and your mental health. Because if you feel like you are communicating and connecting with people, instead of just selling to people, you're going to feel so much better about yourself, like, forget the business, you're going to feel better about yourself.

Kate Kordsmeier 35:46

Yeah, yeah, it's so true. And I feel again, like when when you humanize it, when you when you think about, oh, I'm talking to my friend right now, or I'm talking to this woman who needs my help, and I can help her solve this problem. You know, I think you'll feel better, like you said, and then ipso facto, like, your business will do better, because you're at heart first.

Kelsey Formost 36:12

Yes, 100%. It's, um, it's actually really amazing. One of my favorite stories to tell about this is, so I had this business goal. This was what last year, maybe a little bit, a year and a half ago, or so, I had this business goal where I was like, I'm gonna get featured in some of my favorite publications, and I pitched all these business articles, and like, nothing was happening. And then I wrote a post on Instagram about how hard Father's Day is for me, because I lost my father a few years ago, refinery 29 reaches out to me and goes, we loved your post about Father's Day, without a father, we would love to feature you on finery 29. So one of my biggest business goals came from a completely non business place because I was being vulnerable, I was being authentic, and somebody connected with it. And that's what brought me like the first wave of these publications that were a huge, huge business goal for me,

Kate Kordsmeier 37:16

right, as I'm so sorry to hear about your dad, first of all,

Kelsey Formost 37:22

he was he was a good egg.

Kate Kordsmeier 37:25

But that is just such a good lesson. And I find especially you know, I'm a type three on the enneagram and a perfectionist. And despite you guys, if you could see me right now I am a hot mess, and totally screwed up the timing of this interview and everything so, but the funny one I look like right now, it's like to appear very buttoned up, and you know, polished professional, like, I've got my shit together, right. And what I have found is that people don't connect with that girl, you know, can relate to that girl, when you share that this is what I'm struggling with, when I get more honorable. But if I don't do that, and I am not really living like in integrity, and without authenticity, because I'm just trying to look a certain way. And I want people to think of me a certain way. And it's like everything better when you just keep it real and tell it like it is.

Kelsey Formost 37:46

oh my gosh, that that sentence, wanting to be perceived a certain way wanting people to think of you a certain way that resonates with me so much, because there's this sort of catch 22 about having a personal brand, right, like you are creating this feeling like all a brand is is a feeling. It's the feeling that somebody gets when they arrive on your social media, or they land on your website, your brand just makes them feel something. Whether it's like, you know, if you have a lot of pink and a lot of softness, then you feel certain way or if it's black and white, very minimal, that makes you feel a certain way. So I think there's a big gray area that some people get caught in between branding and authenticity. And they don't have to be separate entities. You can your authentic self and enjoy presenting yourself as someone who has their shit together. But let people see behind the curtain and be like, But listen, I'm there still baby food on the walls. Like Don't be fooled. Like, I think that that's the difference, right? Like the ability and the willingness to let people see behind the curtain. Right? It makes the difference. It's not that you you have to present yourself as like, you know, someone running around like a chicken with their head cut off. You can be a very well spoken put together professional, but you can still be a human being and I have human struggles. And that's that's where it's at. difference lies. Totally.

Kate Kordsmeier 40:01

Yeah. And it's a lesson I keep learning again and again, and sometimes in like small superficial ways, like just this weekend, I was doing a lot of organizing and redecorating some like things at my house. And I was sharing some of it on Instagram. And I have this beautiful professional photo of our dining room. And I love our dining room, you know, Pat, myself on the back, I think I did a great job decorating. And I shared a picture of the before. And then I shared the before being not actually the before, this is going to be confusing, the before being what it looked like when it was styled for the photo. And then I shared the after, which was what it looks like right now, with two strollers like next to the dining room table, there's a giant bag of baby clothes and a black trash bag on the floor. The dining room table has stuff piled on it because it's just become like our catch all place. Like when we come in the house. Just put stuff there. And you know, I didn't want to show it because I'm like, well, doesn't look good like this. But I got so many more comments from people saying thank you for sharing this and makes me feel better about my own dining room and my own, you know, struggles.

Kelsey Formost 41:15

And like to people were like, oh, pretty dining room when I just shared the perfect photo of it right? Worse 100% hundred percent. And it's, it can feel scary. It can feel very vulnerable, like you said, it's to show what it's quote unquote, really like can feel very vulnerable. But the beautiful thing is, that's where you connect to people. That's where we're like, oh, she's like me. And look, we all struggle with imposter syndrome, you can be an eight figure businesswoman and struggle with imposter syndrome. As much as someone who's just starting out being like, I don't, I've never had a client who is gonna pay me. We all feel at some point, probably multiple points through the day. We are trying to battle with ourselves, we have this internal Battle of like, what we want to present to the world and how we want to be seen, versus who we really are at our core and what's really going on for us. And it's a balance, like 100% of either one isn't, isn't what you want. It's that sense of both. And that's going to make you feel better as a human being and take the pressure off of you to be perfect because there is no such thing as perfect. And also allow you to grow in such a way that you are proud of what you are releasing and making and sharing.

Kate Kordsmeier 42:47

Yes, so good. So good. Taking a quick break from regular programming to talk about something super important. Do you know what your number one most valuable asset is if you have any type of online business, or really a business of any kind. If you guessed your email list, then you are one smart cookie. It's the only way to communicate directly with your audience when you want to in a way that you own and control. Unlike social media and other platforms that rely on some ever changing impossible to figure out algorithm to connect with your people. After trying multiple email service providers over the years hands down my favorite is Active Campaign. It's by far the most robust system I've ever used and provides a ton of functionality in terms of segmenting automation and analytics. They have incredible customer service. And if you already have an email list somewhere else, they even offer a free Migration Service that is super helpful. Even if you don't need a lot of their features right now and you're just starting off, you can kick it off with their super affordable lite plan, which is only $9 a month if you have under 500 subscribers. Plus with our special link, you'll get a free 30 day free trial to check it out for yourself. No strings attached, simply go to to start your free trial today. So on the same lines of being vulnerable, what are some of the common mistakes you see people make on their websites?

Kelsey Formost 44:41

Um, number one mistake is verbal vomit. And I totally get it. And again this goes back to that core feeling of not being heard. People who are robot vomitus which is the majority of people you are not alone. Don't Feel like I'm, if you're listening to this, I am also a verbal vomiter. The reason that we are verbal vomiting and just explaining and explaining and explaining is because we feel like we've never quite gotten to the core of what it is we're trying to share. And we feel like well, they still won't get it, they're still not getting everything, your website. First of all, again, nerdy psychology copywriter here 80% of people who come to your website, I'm so sorry. So sorry to tell you this, they only read the headlines and the sub headlines. So all that beautiful body copy that you wrote, to only 20% of your traffic is even looking at that. So you don't need to be writing these big chunks of copy these big paragraphs. Get rid of your website is a calling card. Your website is a beautiful entryway that leads people down a path to learn more about you. It's not explaining everything about you all at once, which is a super easy trap to fall into. And it's only when somebody who's a pro sort of turns the light bulb on over your head and goes, you know, let's let's trim this down. So biggest mistake, having too much coffee? Yeah, you know, it's hard. Being concise is actually much harder.

Kate Kordsmeier 46:28

Oh my gosh, so much harder. I remember when I first started taking newspaper writing classes in college, and it was always like, I mean, it's so much easier to have a word count of 5000 words than 500 words, how do you get? How do you get the most important things across in 500 words, but really, that's all you need. And yeah, that's such a good lesson, be concise. And especially in today's age, it's just like nobody's nobody has time to read, you know, paragraphs upon paragraphs, which is interesting, because it's also super trendy, I feel like to have these sales pages that go on for ever really is. And

Kelsey Formost 47:12

I think a lot of people were really successful with those about a year and a half ago, two years ago. And then it sort of trickled down into the larger populace. And now, like, everybody's doing that, but you'll notice and you go back now to those same people who had those really crazy long sales pages, you'll notice that they're starting to change. And they're starting to go back to a little bit more trim and concise. And I do want to share this trick again with the action. On if you are having problems being concise, one of my favorite things that I tell my clients to do, or my students to do is the highlighter trick. print out your copy, take a highlighter, like you're a high schooler reading a textbook and literally highlight only the most important points. Everything else that you didn't highlight goes out the window. That's what you cut. It really helps you understand what it is you're trying to say. And like what the point is that you're trying to get to. I do it all the time. You can do it digitally, too. But there's something about it that just like I love

Kate Kordsmeier 48:28

or even have like your friend or a partner or your you know your spouse, somebody else do it too. Because sometimes you're so right. And that it's like you know, it's all important. I you know, that's what we want to believe about ourselves. And so somebody else who hasn't looked at it yet, say just highlight the most of you are going to be quizzed on this. What would you highlight? And you know, yeah, there's also an app called the Hemingway app. Do you ever use that?

Kelsey Formost 48:57

No, I don't know that app.

Kate Kordsmeier 48:59

It's really good for getting like out of passive voice and into active voice. And I mean, you know, Hemingway is famous for like, Cut the bullshit just given me the

wave. And it was tricky.

Exactly. So you put up I mean, you can put thousands of words into this app, and it's free. And then it will just tell you like get you know, you use these qualifiers too much. And you know, you have a lot dislike unnecessary words. So I use that sometimes when I'm looking at stuff or like I've used it sometimes if I've hired a copywriter or somebody to help me write something and they turn in something that I'm like, Oh my gosh, there's so much fluff in here. Let's go to the Hemingway app and trim it out.

Kelsey Formost 49:45

Yeah, absolutely. That's a great tip. And the other thing that I'll say on this particular subject when you're trying to trim fluff, focus the most attention again on those headlines because Again, only 20% of people are going to read your body copy, the longer your body copy is, the less people are going to read it, it is important to get that word count down as much as possible. But really be mindful of the real estate of your headlines. Because that's what is leading people through the experience of being on your website. So you should be moving them always towards that desired action. So make sure that your headlines are super clear. And always like the next step towards that desired action. Yeah,

Kate Kordsmeier 50:36

so good. I mean, I could talk about this stuff all day long with you. We're coming up on the end now. So where can if people are like, yes, this episode was so helpful. I want to work with Kelsey. Where can they do that? How can people work with you?

Kelsey Formost 50:51

First of all, yay, I'm glad that you think that person. best place to find me is on my website, which is Kelsey You can also connect with me on Instagram at Kelsey dot writes WRI T. s, I would love to hear from you tell me that you heard me on Kate's podcast, and we can connect and Gavin beef and girls together.

Kate Kordsmeier 51:16

Love it. Okay, so the last thing we do here, before I let you go is this quick lightning round of five questions. I asked everybody. So what is your favorite way to make time for self care?

Kelsey Formost 51:28

Oh, my favorite way to make time for self care is waking up 10 minutes earlier, and not having technology. While I have my morning cup of coffee. It's a very small practice, but it has been so life changing. Not looking at a screen. Preferably looking out a window or being outside for 10 minutes. That's huge, huge. Love it.

Kate Kordsmeier 51:56

What is one tool or strategy that you use to help with time management?

Kelsey Formost 52:01


I actually set a timer on my iPhone, if I have a task that I have been procrastinating about. I will tell myself for 30 minutes. Usually I work great in 30. minutes, Sprint's for 30 minutes, I'm going to focus on this and only this, I'm going to close all the other tabs. I'm going to put my phone across the room and until that timer goes off, this is what I'm working on. Because often so much of my time that is wasted is just me with my thumb up my butt like progress. I need to do with the task itself. it's to do with me procrastinate the task. Yeah, half an hour at the end of the day. And there it is, like two weeks later being like, Oh my god, I could have had this email written in 30 minutes, right? And then

instead of let it linger and hang over us, and it's like, once you do it, you're always like, Why? Why did I do that?

Kate Kordsmeier 53:03

Yeah. Why did I work myself into such a tizzy about this stupid email that only took me 30 minutes to write? Right?

What's one of the most powerful business or mindset books you've ever read?

Kelsey Formost 53:16

Big Magic. Big Magic, love Big Magic. Also, on the Big Magic, I love Elizabeth Gilbert, who she wrote Ray love, she wrote this, it's sort of an exploration of creativity, and talk about nodding along she talks about what it's like inside the brain of the creative person. And damn if I didn't feel heard. And I just love that book. It's a really easy read. And I come back to it again and again. But I also love there's a podcast that goes along with that book called Magic lessons where she actually talks to a bunch of different creative people and everything from poetry, to pottery, to writing to all these different vocations and talks to them about their resistances their hang ups, what's holding them back, gives them homework, and then they follow up like six months to a year later. With the person. It's one of the coolest ways that I've seen people address the idea of creativity as it like creativity as a whole, but it doesn't have to be artistic creativity and creativity in your business. Yeah.

Kate Kordsmeier 54:32

Yeah, so cool. Plus doesn't you just have like the most soothing voice I feel like I've actually never. Yeah,

Kelsey Formost 54:41

no soothing voice that is exactly thing. So like, so inviting and just makes you feel.

Kate Kordsmeier 54:49

Yes, you nailed it. I'm your magic. Heard her on the armchair expert podcast. I've never listened to her own podcast. I didn't even know she had. So now I know what I'm doing this weekend.

Kelsey Formost 54:53

Oh, that she only did two seasons and it's pretty quick. It's a pretty quick listen. I just if you need like a dose of inspiration if you're feeling uninspired, which a lot of us are, I'm raising my hand. in quarantine. It's like any given moment, like, Who knows? Who knows what day is going to be? But if you need a shot in the arm of inspiration, I highly recommend magic lessons or the book Big Magic.

Kate Kordsmeier 55:28

Yeah, awesome. How about a mantra or an affirmation that you tell yourself? Anything? You're you're repeating lately these days?

Kelsey Formost 55:40


Don't be embarrassed. It's not one that I have, like written down or crochet on a pillow or anything. But lately, I found myself saying Kelsey, calm the F down. Nobody has their shit together. Because I think a lot like literally I keep saying stuff. Like, nobody has their shit together. Like stop comparing yourselves. What are this? How about? Nobody, like stop comparing yourself to the stranger on the internet? Just do you? And it's okay, if you don't have all the answers, right? This moment, like life is just one big learning process. Nobody has their shit together. Just comment down.

Kate Kordsmeier 56:26

I might need you to start telling me that every day is wrong. I'm here.

Kelsey Formost 56:33

What do I need to do? And I'll be like, Hey, calm down. Nobody is

Kate Kordsmeier 56:36

nobody. It really is so true. And I don't know why. I mean, I know why social media makes it seem like everybody else does. But it's like, no matter who I meet, they could be like, by like, the most successful mentor in my life or, and then you get with them and they're all dealing with the same stuff. Everybody's insecure. Everybody's still worried. Even if they found success. Is it gonna stay? How long can I make this last? You know, it's like, and everybody's just a mess. So

Unknown Speaker 57:10

yeah, thanks it. Yeah, just embrace it. There's no such thing as perfection. So you might as well embrace imperfection.

Kate Kordsmeier 57:17

Yes. I love that.

Okay, last question. What does Success with Soul mean to you?

Kelsey Formost 57:36

selling your product or your service without selling your soul. There you go.

Kate Kordsmeier 57:37



Kelsey Formost 57:39

Value Proposition.

Kate Kordsmeier 57:44

Full Circle. I love it. Thank you so much for being here. Kelsey. This was awesome.

Kelsey Formost 57:50

Oh, thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Kate Kordsmeier 57:58

Thanks for listening to the Success with Soul Podcast the place to be for holistic online business strategies and achieving more with less, as this show is a brand spankin new any and all support is greatly appreciated. So if you haven't done so already, please subscribe on the apple podcast app, Google podcast, app, Spotify or wherever you listen. This makes it possible for me to continue to provide free helpful content and bring you amazing guests. You can also give us a rating and review with your honest feedback so we can improve and better serve you in the future. Plus, you could be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights. Your reviews are super helpful and motivating to me personally. But beyond that reviews help with rankings, which helps others find the show and allows me to keep providing you with free content every single week. Share the podcast with your friends, family, coworkers, dogs, cats, neighbors, whoever. And don't forget to join the free Success with Soul Facebook community at We have follow up conversations about the podcast episodes and I often go live to answer your burning questions. Plus, you'll get to hang out with like minded bloggers and heart centered online business owners exchanging priceless feedback, encouragement and other golden insight from the trenches. That's Until next time, remember to celebrate your progress, not perfection.

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