New Year Challenge 2 of 4: Build Something That Solves a Problem for People You Know

This is part 2 of a 4-part series in which we share the challenges we’re posing for ourselves in 2015. Join us by challenging yourself to the same things. (See Challenge 1)

In late December, we quietly added this link to our nav: Snap

Within minutes, we saw these tweets:

We hadn’t made any sort of effort to spread the word about Snap.

Just posted a link.

So to see those tweets so quickly, we were like, Oh, cool, Snap might be a good idea.

A little over a week later, Jack from Mentored posted Snap on Product Hunt. We got 98 upvotes in 24 hours:

Snap Copy Productized Copywriting Service on Product Hunt

It finished at over 140 upvotes.

So we were like, Oh, cool, Snap might be a good idea.

Then our waiting list for Snap starting filling up. And someone on the waitlist managed to find a way to buy early, before the checkout was even QAed – evidently, he wanted what Snap has to offer, and he didn’t wanna wait.

So we were like, Oh, cool, Snap might be a good idea.

Now, you might be saying, “Joanna, great, ‘good idea’ or whatever, but what the hell is Snap and what does it dooo?”

Well, here’s our value prop:

Snap Makes Your Copy Waaay Better
in 48 Hours or Less

Almost since the launch of Copy Hackers three years ago, Lance and I have had this idea for a productized copywriting service.

We’d been calling it “Copy on Call” internally.

The idea was that a business could pay a monthly fee in exchange for super-quick access to copy help. We liked the idea – seemed like the solution to a real problem, based on all the can-you-help-me-quickly emails we’ve received – yet the timing never seemed right to build the service and launch it.

More recently, we’ve found ourselves addicted to Dan Norris’s work over at WP Curve.

If you’re not familiar with Dan, you should be. Allow me to introduce you. I’ve been on Dan’s list since before WP Curve… before Informly… all the way back to Web Control Room. I’d first heard of him thanks to a guest post he’d written for Corbett Barr in 2012 (back in Corbett’s ThinkTraffic days – holy cow, does anyone still have the biz they had 2 years ago??). In that post, he described exactly what he did in just 3 hours of experimenting with 12 traffic-gen strategies:

Dan Norris from WP Curve list of traffic strategies

Clearly, Dan’s one of those people who’s thoroughly transparent about his business goings-on.

What works. What doesn’t.

And, as a small biz owner, I dig that.

I’ve always thought it’s better to learn from someone else’s battle scars than to earn your own. That’s, like, the whole point of books and courses and mentors, isn’t it?

So, anyway, it’s the beginning of December 2014, and Lance shouts at me from across the hall. He’s just read Dan’s November report, and he’s raving about how cool the WP Curve biz model is and how much it reminds him of Copy on Call. Our eyes meet. Significant silence follows. That leads to the beginning of a very, very long convo in which we wheel our chairs closer, pour coffee, drink coffee (I do), pour wine, drink wine, realize it’s dark out, make dinner, eat dinner, and – all the while – list off the many things that have kept us from creating Copy on Call…

I won’t bore you with the list.

It’s a long one.

Anyway, after that talk, we took our list of worries and objections – the things keeping us from building this business – and we called Dan. Yes, Dan was nice enough to take our call. Even though he’s crazy busy.

For nearly an hour, we picked Dan’s brain.

More accurately: we attacked Dan’s brain.

Sparked new ideas. Stomped down old ideas. Took pages of notes – the kind where the phone line goes quiet ‘cos we’re so busy scratching pen on paper.

By the time we ended the chat…

…we knew the time was right. We knew our biz wasn’t going to be quite like Dan’s, but we could borrow a lot from him. And we knew that, like Dan and the WP Curve team, we were about to solve a real problem for people we knew.

The Copy Problem Plaguing Startups and Marketing Departments

We are living in a content marketing and conversion-rate optimization world, and I am a content marketing and conversion-rate optimization girl.

(Sorry, that was a stretch.)

All digital marketing requires words – it just does.

You wanna write an AdWords ad? It might look like a small, easy little bit of copy to jot off – until you try to do it. Suddenly, it’s not so easy. Not so much jotting going on. You might be able to write the ad fast… but how does it perform? Hmm… And then you’ve got your blog post headlines. If Upworthy and Buzzfeed have taught us anything, it’s that the headlines you tack onto your posts may be more important than the posts themselves. Oh, and let’s not forget our websites. And landing pages. And all those product descriptions. The drip campaigns. The newsletters. The follow-up emails after a webinar. And the triggered emails – those receipts you keep meaning to optimize. Hell, even the PPTs you’re posting to Slideshare.

It’s. All. Words.

Copy Hackers has helped turn some marketers and micropreneurs into confident writers. And that’s awesome

…But here’s what I’ve seen: a copy hacker writes an email, reads it over thirty-two times, but still hesitates to hit ‘send’ or ‘publish’. A lot of people are able to take their copy to 80%… but then they email me and ask for a second set of eyes. “Some quick feedback.” They want help getting it to 99% or, dare they hope, 100%.

Even if you have an internal or retained copywriter, you rarely have a large team of copywriting specialists at your disposal. You probably don’t have an email specialist writing this email and an AdWords specialist writing that ad and a landing page specialist writing this landing page and a copy director looking over all those elements to make sure they work. And that’s fine. If you’re okay with your copy being at 80%. By which I mean, if you’re okay with your online salesperson operating at an energy level around 80%…

That’s where Snap comes in.

Snap is Copy on Call. It’s just called Snap. 🙂

Now, to be sure, Snap isn’t for everyone.

If you don’t have recurring needs… if you’re not actively marketing… if you don’t want to build a long-term relationship and you don’t want to turn Snap into your outsourced, on-demand copywriting team, then it’s not for you. Snap will best serve:

  • Marketing teams at fast-growing online and tech businesses
  • Active SaaS marketers
  • Ecommerce
  • Information marketers and online educators

We’ll put not 1 but 2 copy pros on your job. We turn small jobs around in as few as 48 hours. You don’t need to fuss with proposals. You can rate our work. And your first 2 credits are free.

When I write that out, I feel a little flutter of excitement. Because we’re really building something of immediate value for the people we know and love.

What I Want Snap to Be

Naturally I have no idea what tomorrow holds. But here’s my small list of big hopes for Snap, if you’ll allow me to put myself out there for a second…

I want to build a business. I do not want to make a cash machine.

I want to build a happy team filled with people who feel good about the living they’re making.

I want to put everything I’ve used to help other businesses to work for this business.

I want our clients to say, “Send it to Snap” and to make Snap part of every project they’ve got.

I want our clients to get their copy back and think, Holy shit we’re getting a good deal with these guys.

I want to have company off-sites. And have team t-shirts. And send my team to training.

I want to build a business the way some people in their 30s want to nest.

Copy Hackers is a business, of course. It’s a great business.

Copy Hackers is like my husband: It makes me want to be better. We’ve got a ton of mutual friends. It happily provides for our family. I’m committed to it for the long run. I love it.

Snap is like our child: I’ll make myself uncomfortable to see it succeed (more about that in Challenge 4, coming this Friday). I’ll give it far more than I’ll take from it. It’ll take a village – or about a dozen copywriters – to raise it. I can’t wait to see what it turns into, and I’ll have to try not to push it to be something it’s not.

Today, We Launch Snap

And to ‘quote’ our account director Liston Witherill:

Yesterday, we opened up 5 spots to our waitlist. They sold out in about 4 minutes.

Today, we open 6 spots.

Click here to (ahem) snap up yours

If we’re sold out by the time you read this, please be sure to add yourself to the queue. If you’re closer to the start of the queue, you’ll hear about our availability before others further down the queue will. You may not have work for us right now, but if you think you’ll want us to help out with your, say, product launch this spring, get in the queue, buy your credits, and then use them this spring. All credits are good for 12 months.

So that’s our second challenge. It’d be cool to work with you this year, and I hope we get a chance to.

Either way, please check out the Snap blog, too, where we’ll be posting about our wins, losses and facepalms as we work toward our goal of building something that solves a problem for people we know.

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copyhackers"

  • We just faced this challenge at Business was getting stale so we productized our services. The results have been great! We have more clarity and efficiency in work with our clients.

  • jessy

    looking for a real ethical hacker to help solve your problems ? get passwords to any social network , change school grades or transcripts ? get a hold of adam_loudon@outlook . com he’s the man for the job

  • sergeitoom

    2015 Challenge 2 of 4: Build Something That Solves a Problem for People You Know. This is new Business Opportunities with Thought Leader.

  • Wow that was super weird to read that about myself. Now I’m turning into you in your last post about believe your own BS!

    This is a home run, looking forward to seeing it blow up!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Our secret underlying challenge was “make Dan feel super weird.” I’ll go mark that as complete…

  • haha I am stealing this to explain myself to people who don’t understand me: I want to build a business the way some people in their 30s want to nest.

    • I’m also trying to build a productized service this year so I shall be following along closely

      • Joanna Wiebe

        Brilliant! What’s your productized service? Does it solve a problem for people you know?

      • The service is setting up and running people’s email marketing and automation. From setting up the AR account, integrating it in to your website and writing emails. It was started because people I know kept asking for help doing this 🙂

      • Shiri Dori-Hacohen

        Casey, you should really check out ConvertKit ( ) — it doesn’t cover the writing part, but may be able to help you with the rest.

      • Yeah I’ve seen that Shiri, and I read Nathan’s stuff. It’s a good product.

  • Hold the phone. You *don’t* want to build a cash machine?!

    See, the thing I admire so much about Snap is that it’s so clearly targeting a straight-up hole in the copy production market (a.k.a on-the-fly, strategic copy fixes, rather than all-in proposal-based projects).

    But not only that, you guys have managed to price super-affordably on the customer side, but also pay respectably on the employee side, AND took pains to bake solid quality control & editorial oversight into the production process. That is NOT easy to do (and I can’t think of any company that’s done it so far).

    Cheering for Snap from the sidelines, yo! And while probably more people will be interested in blog posts about the copy you produce, I will be super interested in hearing about Snap’s process-optimization wins & lessons learned.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      I know – shocking, right? The idea of building a business instead of cashing out every month! It might sound crazy even to call that out, but you wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve heard a business owner say how much they “want to take home” every month. Makes me very uncomfortable, that idea.

      So glad you like Snap, Momoko! We’ve seen a few other services that connect you with a copywriter for a job – like writing a blog post – and we think we’ve got some stuff sorted that they simply can’t because we’re charging enough to both attract super-solid copywriters and do some pretty serious quality control. We’re definitely nowhere near the “copy factory” world – and hallelujah for that!!

  • Do you already have the dozen copywriters you mentioned needing? ‘Cause there’s this writer I know who would be super, duper interested if you still need to recruit… 😉

    Anyway, I second all the love comments and can’t wait to read (learn) more in the blog. A good ol’ face palm every now and then doesn’t hurt!

  • Puranjay

    I’ve been fiddling around with similar ideas in different niches for a while now.

    “On-demand” solutions just make so much sense.

    I can’t pay for a full-time copywriter (hence, Snap).

    I can’t pay for a full-time personal assistant (hence, Zirtual)

    I can’t pay for a full-time maid either (hence, Homejoy).

    The smart people I know already understand that the time they save in NOT figuring out copy, doing mundane tasks, or cleaning their homes themselves, is time they can put to more productive work.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Totally! If we can take the time-wasting, fiddly part of writing and publishing off a marketer’s plate, I think we’ll have something very cool to offer here. Fingers crossed!!

  • I love this idea. Turning down offers from clients who need quick turnarounds makes me sad! Looking forward to proudly referring them to Snap. 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Cool, thanks, Danny! We’d love to help them.

  • Seriously one of the smartest ideas I’ve come across in a long time. Congrats guys!! Putting myself in the queue.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Very cool! Thanks, Stephan. We’re excited. 🙂 Hope to work with you!

  • Nadia Chaudhry

    Congratulations! You been promoted to my number #1 role model. lol

    I found the link to Snap Copy not too long ago and loved what I saw. I need to be more conscious of the problems my clients mention to me. Maybe I’ll discover a new business idea there…

    <3 Nadia

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Indeed! What better way to generate an idea for a solution than to listen to the problem? 🙂

      • Nadia Chaudhry

        Yup. The trick is recognizing what a potential opportunity could be and figuring out how to test the idea… Ear to the ground, right?

Copyhackers Tutorial Tuesdays training calendar

Copywriting tutorials

How to write a long-form sales page using survey data
SEO copywriting
Why good copy performs badly
Conversion copywriting defined
How to use VoC to create outlines
How to validate your copy
How to make your writing sound good
Getting creative with conversion copy
How to write headlines
How to be specific in your copy
How to write great bullet lists
How to write a long-form sales page
How to write compelling “agitation” copy
How to write holiday copy
3 essential copy techniques to use daily
How to write a sales page
How to optimize crossheads/subheads

How to optimize Facebook ad copy
How to write an Adwords ad
How to write Facebook-compliant ads

How to evergreen your course sales
How to use SEO landing page
How to get more subscribers
How to script the first sales video
How to script the second sales video
How to script the third sales video

How to write welcome emails
How to write a launch-day sales email
How to write a last-day launch email
How to write a cold email
How to write cold emails for services
How to write a trial-ending SaaS email
How to write a post-welcome SaaS email
How to write TOFU emails

How to get paid to write proposals
Creating and selling packages
How to write a project proposal
How to present your copy to clients
How to get more proposals approved
How to wireframe your landing pages
The art & science of pestering
How to pitch your copywriting services
How to create a biz-worthy home office
How to handle awkward client convos
How to master customer interviews
How to keep your copy reviews on track

How to write a long-form sales page using survey data
A super-speedy formula to find VoC
How to Marie Kondo your VoC data
Optimize your email sequence with Trello
How to research a blog post
How to plan a SaaS onboarding funnel
How to use Amazon review mining
How to do a content audit
How to know what your visitor’s thinking
Creating a launch command center
A 3-part copywriting process for newbies

Likes to leads
SEO copywriting
How to optimize a headline
How to optimize a SaaS sequence
How to optimize content for SEO
How to validate your copy
How to optimize Facebook ad copy

How to write an epic blog post
How to write a mass-appeal blog post
How to write funny content
How to keep readers reading
Blog post formula for authority building
How to write an ultimate guide

Sweep 1: The Clarity Sweep
Sweep 2: The Voice + Tone Sweep
Sweeps 3 & 4: The Believability Sweeps
Sweep 5: The Specificity Sweep
Sweep 6: The Heightened Emotion Sweep
Sweep 7: The Zero Risk Sweep