Copywriting

Today, We Are Fools. Happily. (Or why we built and are finally launching Airstory.)

There’s something foolish about venturing into seemingly new territory.

Today, we’re launching Airstory.

We’re venturing into the land of Software.

To some people, it will look like a copywriter is trying her hand at SaaS. And all the head-patting that comes with that. Oh, Lord, why don’t we just stick to our knitting? Because, to paraphrase the great Vanilla Ice:

If there’s a problem, yo, I’ll solve it –
especially where writing and marketing are involved

Airstory is a natural extension of Copy Hackers.

It aims to solve the problem Copy Hackers aims to solve. Just with a different how.

While Copy Hackers teaches you to write copy that converts, Airstory helps you write it. It’s a drag-and-drop document builder. It is to documents what LeadPages and Unbounce are to landing pages.

Drag and drop your deliverable together, like so:

So what’s the problem with the document platform – or writing software – you’re using today?

Honestly, what isn’t wrong with it?

You do so much of your day-to-day work in a document. But none of the writing tools that are ubiquitous in businesses worldwide actually help you fill the page.

There are solutions to help you do all sorts of stuff around the page: find keyword phrases (Moz), plan your content (Trello, CoSchedule) and find reference material (Buzzsumo, DeepDyve).

And once the page is filled, you can invite people to collaborate with you on it (Google Docs, Dropbox Paper), design it (Vellum, Venngage), publish it (WordPress, Medium), promote it (Facebook, Twitter, Edgar, Mailchimp, Drip, ConvertKit), test it (Optimizely, VWO) and measure it (Ahrefs, GA). I’m only just scratching the surface. Marketing tools are everywhere, in every color, shape and size.

But how do you go from blank page… to filling page… to filled page?

How do you execute on the idea?

That’s the ginormous gap Airstory fills.

The Actually-Write-the-Thing Gap.

We Built Airstory Because We Needed It, and So Did the People We Interviewed

Almost two years ago now, I interviewed a content pro named Ginny, who was writing content for HubSpot. She walked me through her decidedly convoluted (said with love) process for going from idea to ready-for-review, something she had to do every day because her publishing schedule demanded a daily share-worthy post.

Her process had a lot in common with the decidedly convoluted (said with love) processes of the teams we interviewed at Moz, Unbounce and a half-dozen other fave tech companies. They all:

  • Relied on gathering multiple pieces of information from other sources
  • Involved private, concentrated writing time
  • Had an outlining process, whether light or intense
  • Required team input, reviews and approvals

Not a single process was linear. You don’t just sit down, open a document, start writing and keep going until you don’t stop. Sure, there’s a cool app for that if you’re a novelist. But writing for work isn’t about stream of consciousness or losing yourself in a scene. The process is more like this:

  1. Get an idea or get assigned an idea
  2. Go off and think about it
  3. Open a document
  4. Stare at it
  5. Jot down whatever you can, just to feel like you’re making progress
  6. Find yourself editing the thing you jotted down
  7. Go off and think about it
  8. Paste something from the web onto your doc
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 indefinitely or until a few hours before the deadline
  10. Copy, paste, copy, paste
  11. Stitch together all the stuff you’ve thrown onto the page
  12. Copy, paste, copy, paste
  13. Write
  14. Edit
  15. Get coffee
  16. Smooth off the rough edges
  17. Revise your hook / headline
  18. Invite someone or several people to review your work
  19. Rethink everything you wrote the second you know it’s in someone else’s hands

Does that blinking cursor on the blank page help you with anything other than Step 3?

Does it care that the above 19-step process is extraordinarily painful, clunky and outdated?

Worst of all, that process is just for writing a piece of content, like an ebook or blog post.

What about when it’s time to write a series of sales emails?

Once again, it’s you vs the page. But now you’ve got the added burden of getting inside your reader’s head and nudging them to the point that they convert. Not easy.

I know how it feels, of course. I’ve spent nearly 15 years struggling through that pain in an environment where writing is supposed to come easily to me because, after all, it’s my job. But it’s a fatiguing process.

That’s why we made Airstory.

Because, frankly, fuck starting from scratch. It’s 2017. I don’t do anything on my own. The next car I buy is gonna self-drive and plug into my wall. Groceries arrive at my doorstep with recipe cards attached to them. Why should I try to write a job description or a contract or a long-form sales page on my own? Why should I settle for a glorified typewriter?

I shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t, either.

You can check out Airstory here and you should check it out if you’re in marketing or content creation. We’re also on Product Hunt today.

We’ve been working on Airstory for nearly 2.5 years, or half the life of Copy Hackers. Crazy, right?

The reasons we shouldn’t be doing this include:

  • People think their writing software is fine because people think writing should be hard
  • Everyone’s already using a writing tool
  • People look at Airstory and go, “What do I do?” because they’ve never thought about actually having help putting their ideas on the page
  • We make a great, low-stress living with Copy Hackers – why complicate things?

But the reasons we do it are much, much bigger than those.

They’re much harder to shake.

And we’re not alone. Not at all.

Nearly two years ago, I sat in a small group with Nathan Barry and a few awesome folks. We were at Microconf. At the time, the email marketing platform ConvertKit wasn’t quite the name it is today. It was struggling to find its place, which I don’t think Nathan (its founder and CEO) will mind me saying. But actually let me clarify: from the outside, it looked like ConvertKit was struggling to find its place. That certainly wasn’t the feeling among Team ConvertKit. They knew they were onto something.

I vividly remember one thing Nathan said in that huddle.

And my memory is absolute shit, so what he said had serious sticking power.

Someone asked Nathan if he was going to relaunch his books or get a new course out.

He said no.

“I’m going all-in on ConvertKit.”

All in.

You can read Nathan’s revenue breakdowns in his 2015 review and 2016 review, but let me give you the short version: at the time he told our little group he was done with his old business – the business that was a sure-thing, from a revenue-generation perspective – ConvertKit was making about $10,000 MRR.

He could have made twice as much just staying the course with his course business.

And he would only have had to pay his salary – not his and a handful of employees’.

It wasn’t about the money.
Because it isn’t about the money.

I think the reason – or one of the reasons – a lot of us get offended by those Facebook video ads where some “online coach” is walking through his huge garage of Lamborghinis and flashing his gold watch is this: it reduces the whole entrepreneurial experience down to the money you make. And the stuff you buy with the money you make.

Most of us are here for other reasons.

Bear with me while I launch into the “why we’re entrepreneurs” paragraph of this post…

We’re entrepreneurs because we love building things and growing things. And part of growing things is, of course, having the things you grow bear fruit. And that usually looks like money. But the goal isn’t to cash out. The goal isn’t to harvest. It’s to see the fruit for the seeds (to wring this analogy dry, with my apologies) and to replant. Keep building. Keep growing.

That Nathan Barry was going all-in on a risky thing was hugely inspiring for me.

He’ll never know how inspiring.

Even when he reads this, he won’t know.

I’ve made really great money at Copy Hackers. But my wardrobe doesn’t show it and my garage doesn’t show it and my non-existent watch collection certainly doesn’t show it. I don’t see a future where I’m launching and relaunching courses. That’s a perfectly good living and life. But it’s not MY life. Not forever.

I still want to teach.

And I still intend to teach.

But the problem with teaching and only teaching is that it’s so rare to see someone actually execute on what you teach them. Teaching can be frustrating. That Airstory will help people put into practice what I teach means I can keep doing what I love (i.e., teaching, writing, marketing) and also see people get better results.

And here’s why I’m in a better position than ever to commit to Airstory’s growth:

Because This Isn’t Our First Product or Startup

I totally get the purists out there.

Those fine folks that believe the only real founders are tech founders.

I’m not a developer. But neither was Steve Jobs. And if you roll your eyes at that, fine, I would too. So here are a handful of other non-technical cofounders / founders to quash the purists’ concerns:

So programming chops are not a requirement.

But perhaps experience is. Perhaps. If so, I got you.

We’ve gone to market with two different products before this one:

  • 2008, Realtor Rating Site: Our first product idea came to us while Lance and I were lounging on Kaanapali Beach in Maui nearly 10 years ago (back when vacations were common things for us). We both had great jobs in marketing at tech giant Intuit, yet we got this crazy idea to start a realtor rating site. We engaged a coworker named Steven Luke as our technical co-founder, and together we made What-Customers-Say.com. We launched and immediately got on the local and national news in Canada, which was pretty crazy but press releases actually worked at the time and you could call a journalist because newspapers still had those. When the realtor association got their backs up, the Canadian government ordered us to shut down. For real. I haven’t liked realtors since.
  • 2010, Book Rating Site: The three of us – Steven, Lance and yours truly – launched Page 99 Test, a site where you would read page 99 of a book and then state if you would or would not turn the page to keep reading. (Book nerds in the room will be familiar with the page 99 test, even if you’ve never read Ford Madox Ford.) We got instant media coverage – damn, we’ve been lucky with that stuff – including an article on The Guardian and an interview with the New Yorker, which never made it to print. But Page 99 Test was a marketplace. And marketplaces are hard business. And we were all very well-employed and well-compensated by Intuit. So we gradually stopped working on Page 99 Test. And that little hobby site fizzled.

In the years since, Steven and I have emailed back and forth with ideas.

And Lance and I have worked on – then shut down – other ideas.

But it wasn’t until last winter that the stars, at last, aligned.

I Fooled Around and Fell in Love

For the first 1.5 years of Airstory, I was partnered with someone who’s no longer involved in Airstory.

We’ll call him Jim. Because that is his name.

Like all partnerships that fail, things started out great with Jim. Warm feelings. Excitement. Possibilities. Naturally, I made all the mistakes they tell you not to make. Naturally, I kept telling myself they weren’t really mistakes – those rules didn’t apply to me, and I was, of course, the exception.

It wasn’t a problem, I told myself, that Jim and I had never worked together.

It wasn’t a problem that we lived on opposite sides of the continent in two different countries and had never met or been on video Skype together.

The bad things that happen to people in these situations happened to us. I won’t get into them because I can offer nothing to the conversation that hasn’t already been told in a thousand cautionary tales; suffice it to say, I fucked up and he did too. Communication problems. Vision problems. Planning problems. Execution problems. Yup, all the problems. And the impending doom of financial problems: Jim was going to commit to Airstory full time in January 2016, and I was going to pay him a salary so he could.

I talked to my friend Amy Hoy about it. She used expletives.

I talked to my friends in a mastermind-type-thing. They told me to get out while I could.

But I was so far into it. 

(I know, I know – sunk cost fallacy. I live in the world of persuasion, but that doesn’t mean I can outsmart it.)

By October of 2015, when our partnership started to unravel big-time, Jim and I had already:

  • Conducted nearly a dozen jobs-to-be-done interviews with bloggers and marketers
  • Conducted dozens of interviews with traditional writers, editors and literary agents
  • Spent more than a year building Airstory
  • Spent thousands on UX and UI design
  • Spent thousands on the development of an iPhone app
  • Done several rounds of beta testing
  • Invested 500+ days of time and energy
  • Gleaned extremely valuable insights into how to make a solid product a great one

So yes, the sunk costs were real.

I started thinking about ending things. Not Airstory. The partnership. Jim was going to cost me the equivalent of $200,000 CAD / yr once he went full-time, and I had good reason to believe that, as soon as I had him on payroll, I’d only be further tangling myself in a relationship that was ill-fated at best.

But I believed in Airstory. For all the reasons above and more.

So I did what any reasonable person would do: I looked into how to get out.

I emailed Steven Luke out of the blue. I asked him – very bluntly – how much it would take to get him to leave his extremely cushy, high-paying job as a full-stack staff-level engineer at Intuit and work with me full-time on a little SaaS project, which I then pitched to him. He wanted to build something great – it wasn’t about money for him.

I summoned the courage to break up with Jim.

He kept all the code. I kept the name.

In February 2016, Steven became Airstory’s cofounder and my business partner.

His reason for joining: “I want to wow people.”

Our Goal: To Wow You with Usefulness

Over the course of the last 365 days, we have built from scratch everything about Airstory except the idea, the name and the research.

We hired a design agency to redo the Airstory UI. That… failed. We persuaded our favorite UI designer Jane Portman to reinvent the UI. That succeeded. We hired our go-to graphic designer Lesley Pocklington to visually realize our brand. That succeeded. Lance suddenly became available, and now we had a full-time product pro on staff. That succeeded, too.

We did a demo of a first-draft of Airstory for my copywriter mastermind. That failed.

We tried to get a beta ready to coincide with my interview on the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast in July. That failed.

We sent fun mailers to marketers we love at companies we love. Those failed.

We’ve seen 1600+ beta users in Airstory over the last 3 months. Based on what we’re seeing in the data and hearing in interviews… we’re succeeding there. We’re succeeding with the Airstory product. We’re starting to wow some people.

There will be countless people for whom Airstory is not the right solution.

If you spend fewer than 2 hours a day in a document, stick with your current solution. If you don’t write longer content ever, stick with your current solution. If you don’t rely on templates, frameworks, formulas and/or research to make your writing kick-ass, stick with your current solution.

For everyone else, there’s Airstory.

It’s live today.

So you can use it starting today, with a free project for life >

And if you can’t imagine needing to fix what’s broken in your writing tool, I’ll leave you with this Stewart Butterfield quote, which Lance added to the Airstory project where I’m writing this:

We know that we have built something which is genuinely useful: almost any team which adopts Slack as their central application for communication would be significantly better off than they were before. That means we have something people want.

However, almost all of them have no idea that they want Slack. How could they? They’ve never heard of it. And only a vanishingly small number will have imagined it on their own. They think they want something different (if they think they want anything at all). They definitely are not looking for Slack. (But then no-one was looking for Post-it notes or GUIs either.)

Just as much as our job is to build something genuinely useful, something which really does make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant and more productive, our job is also to understand what people think they want and then translate the value of Slack into their terms. (Source: Medium)

We’re still 100% involved in and loving Copy Hackers.

But we’re all in on Airstory, too.

The two go hand in hand. And both, we believe, are genuinely useful to marketers like you.

~jo

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copy Hackers"

  • Mark

    Hi, Joanna!
    So, is there something wrong with other tools you haven’t named? )
    for example, I use SERPstat for keywords, ranking, measure? What do you think about it?
    Really want to know if you think it’s not effective.

  • It seems like one of the major benefits of a software like this would be by providing specific content outlines and frameworks readily available based on content type needs.

    Blog post (x method)
    Sales letter (x method)

    Is that what cards are for?

    If so are cards sharable?

    What if copywriters could create and share cards that provide instant outlines for specific types of content pages?

    There is very little information provided on cards that I have found, even in the features section.

  • Okay, I’m the fence.

    I watched this weeks demo and I’ve gone through and re-read this.

    But I have some questions I’m hoping either Jo or Lance can help me with…

    1. Are my open and completed projects only accessible online? Or, is there an offline option where I can work on and access stuff in Airstory offline?

    2. I’m completely sold on the awesomeness of cards. What I need though is to be able to create cards with non-web content – primarily research from books (electronic and paper), photos/images, and research I’m pulling from my documents on my computer. Is this possible?

    3. As referenced above, I take notes on products that end up being 60-140 pages and sales letters that reach the 60 page length. I do this in Word now. I’m assuming this platform can handle something this big. Would like to be sure that it can…

    4. And lastly, it seems that since the last time I was here, you now have the ability to export to WordPress from Airstory. Did I read that right near the top of this post? If so this would be awesome as I HATE writing in Windows Live Writer. I’ve suffered for 446 posts now and would like to put an end to the pain…

    Thank you in advance Jo or Lance for your help with this…

  • Kameron Snow

    I have fire and ice reactions to the story of the Air! First visceral reaction is, “OH SHIT…the coming AI apocalypse for copywriting has begun! We’re all doomed!” Cool down there, lil’ fella. Cuz the next thought stops that train cold in its tracks with…”And it’s a good thing because this is power for people who don’t have it.”

    I definitely feel like I should be laughing like a lunatic, with lightning crashing behind my window and a thunderstorm outside as I use the dark arts of AirStory to wield electric copy to the world! (which, oddly enough, it is storming outside…hmm).

    This is exciting. It’s very exciting. It’s more exciting than discovering a new, delicious burger topped with bacon, banana and peanut butter (it’s called the Elvis and it’s marvelous). I can’t waaaaaaait!!!!!!!

  • Clarice Lin

    I read your entire story twice. Three words to describe how I feel: Amazed, Inspired, Motivated. By your persistence to push on despite the challenges, persistence to believe in your dream and persistence in your belief to keep building, keep growing. That’s my personal beliefs too. And somehow, things haven’t been going exactly smoothly the last couple of months and I have been trying to get my mojo and enthusiasm back. One of my methods is to look around for persistence, determination, perseverance and tenacity in people around me. And that translates into possibilities and what ifs for me – to keep pushing. I found those elements in your story today. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kosolu ‘Kasa’ Ananti

    Your email came right on time. So I just started my business afrikoPOP fitness in January, where modern west African dance meets high intensity interval training set to an afropop beat (think African Zumba, but better) and today I got signed up with an email marketing company Thrive Hive. I asked so do they help with creating the content like intro email, follow-up and they said no. Tonight after going out and hustling for my business, shaking hands and kissing babies. I’m a one woman band, I do marketing, the books (not really), my website admin (kinda), the choreography, the location scout, the therapist! Everything! I check my personal email and read this post. It’s like the answer to my nightmares! I’m so low tech, like Oregon Trails tech (shout out to the 80s babies) that all you said UX, UI, TI, all went over my head. What I do comprehend is something to help me engage my afrikoPOPstars (clients) when I receive their email addresses and writing great, emails and blog post!! I’m dog tired but I can’t wait to use Airstory. It’s like you have been dancing in my brain for the past 24 hours. Thank you!

  • HUGE congratulations Joanna, Lance and team!! AirStory looks amazing and I can’t wait to play with it!! It feels as if you guys went inside our heads and saw exactly what writers were dreaming about… Oh wait, you did do that! 😉
    Sidenote: VERY happy to hear you’re all-in on BOTH CopyHackers AND AirStory 🙂

  • Congratulations Jo — what an achievement!

    The product looks amazing. Quick question though — and sorry if this has already been asked — but can I use Airstory to write blog posts and immediately publish them to WordPress?

    Cheers,

    Pete

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Not quite, Pete! We’re aiming for a WordPress plugin in April. You can, of course, export to Google Docs and then use Postable/Wordable to get it into WordPress. But that’s a workaround.

      • Cool beans — thanks for clearing that up. I’m totally non-fussed with that workaround btw. Wordable is a great product…

  • This looks super cool Jo (love this shortened name as it reminds of my aunt Josephine in Texas who has always gone by Jo) as this cards concept addresses my peeves about having a bunch of content scattered in my tray and in my browser that I use to Frankenstein my writing with… note pad docs… word docs… five jillion web pages… PDFs… ebooks… etc.

    What would be super cool is if this could be Word AND Microsoft Live Writer for me. These are my document and post publishing software I’m spending 6 hours a day living in.

    I’ve never used a purely online platform like Google Docs or WordPress for my writing. Always offline.

    I hate Live Writer because it’s so lame when it comes to formatting. But I’ve been using it since the week that Obama got elected President in 2009 and it has been ultra reliable. I love how for over eight years now it has NEVER shit the bed on me by bugging out. It has NEVER glitched out and ghosted any of my writing. Not one single time in the 445 posts I’ve published.

    I’ve been at this for a while now and have avoided writing in WordPress because their formatting/font options don’t look any better than Live Writers do AND I hate how wide the writing space is – almost spanning across the entire page. I like writing to the column size of my blog or writing to the standard Word doc size.

    I look at your fonts here on this site for your subheads and some other sites and I can see that there’s a way around the basic look that WordPress or Live Writer locks you into. I imagine it has something with different themes unlocking font styles and sizes.

    What I’m wondering about is the fonts and formatting for Air Story.

    Microsoft Live Writer is some absolute trash when it comes to fonts/formatting so all my posts have a super basic look. Yeah, it’d be cool to jack up the flair to level 11 like you’re doing here but I’ve never wanted to let it bother me too much.

    Also, does Air Story also included a function where you can publish to your blog directly from it like I do with Live Writer AND also have the depth of Google Doc/Word/Apple likeness formatting/font wise… or do you just have to copy and paste from Air Story into whatever you use to publish blog posts?

    If I missed somewhere that it does include this feature, my bad.

    • Hey Lewis! You’re correct… most modern WordPress themes come with easily configurable typeface options… often the entire Google Font library (which we adore).

      For formatting, Airstory falls in between Word and Medium… far fewer options than Word offers and far more than Medium. We’re not trying to be a publishing platform, but we know that many people want even their drafts to have a certain “look.”

      Our plan is to offer a number of export options: WordPress and Medium; and a bunch of “save as” options: Word, PDF, HTML. We already have a basic Google Docs export option in place.

      So for now, it’s copy and paste (our HTML is very clean… no extraneous code or tags) but soon we’ll have more options for getting content out of Airstory.

      Thanks for asking.

      • Thank you Lance for letting me know!

        I know exactly what you mean by “have a certain look”. I am a “design as I go writer”. That’s what I love about Live Writer is it lets me see my copy as it will appear on my blog – something in it lets you import your blog’s dimensions. It would drive me crazy to NOT be able to do this.

        Yeah, it’s going to be super cool to have the option for this to be both Word AND Live Writer (Medium for others). I can imagine this is going to be a MASSIVE selling point to content creators like me.

        Thanks again for getting back to me. I’m hoping you guys absolutely crush it with this gift you’re offering!

  • AlliBum

    Congrats, Jo & Lance! Airstory is the best. Before I started using
    it I would organize research by highlighting parts of an interview
    transcript, hand-copying the juicy bits to index cards, and giving the
    index cards some kind of tag. I’d start to write by, well, wondering why
    my “organizational system” didn’t feel very organized. With Airstory,
    that process takes about 10% of the time it used to and when I’m done,
    everything is actually organized. Thanks for bringing this beautiful
    baby into the world!

  • Congrats on launching Airstory! When you interviewed me back when I worked at Razorfish, I was intrigued to know what you’d come up with. Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Amy Butcher

    I am a full-on sufferer of blank-screen syndrome. Seriously. My hard disk is littered with the death wails of ebooks and blog posts that I just couldn’t get my head around. WordPress is like another pet cemetery where my writing ideas go to die. I just could not see how all my writing connected, and it was always sooo hard pulling together the research and keeping everything organized. I tried Scrivener, and it just made things worse! It was like using software that maniacally laughed at you with the taunt of a teenage bully every time you opened it. I tried just using Google docs, and I have plenty of nice looking article titles, but no content. I had so many ideas for my blog/business, but I just could not structure them or get them out. And then suddenly, I signed up to be a beta tester for Airstory. My years of blank-page syndrome disappeared in a month!! I had the outlines of four ebooks done in about a week, and I’m almost done the first one. Because something that would have taken me FOREVER to conceptualize and visualize is now broken down into doable chunks. And, for others of my ilk who are very visually minded, I can f*&?%in’ SEE how all of my content works together instead of my previous Content Crazy Town, Population Crazy. This app has changed my life. (There I said it. I did. And I am not one who thinks that apps can really do that.) And I was sooooo afraid that it was going to cost a zillion dollars a month once the beta was over. And then this week I find it out that it’s about a whopping $25 a month. Christmas came again, a month later. Booyah. Thanks, guys! SOOOOO happy with Airstory. Your pain to has given birth to value for the rest of us. Amen.

  • I’ve said it to you guys before and I’ll say it again. Airstory is brilliant.

    And this story…I was having one of those meta moments where I was going back and forth between admiration (as a copywriter) at the structure of this thing and pure rapture at how good the story is. Masterful work.

    Now if I could just teach myself how to break old habits and make this my go-to, life would be much simpler.

  • Nell Smith

    Thanks Jo! Because of your well-written story / copy I can no longer continue looking at life through rose colored glasses. Your story has given me a good swift kick in the bum and it is now time for me to s_ _ t and get off the pot (as my dad would have so eloquently stated)! So I am getting off the pot today, and I am going to finish working on my business plan / marketing plan / website come hell or high water and start living the entrepreneurial dream. You are oh so right, for many of us it isn’t about the money it is about the building, the creating, the growing, the nurturing, the desire to make a decent living and hopefully leave this world a smidgen better for those entrepreneurial spirited people who fool-heartedly follow in our footsteps and can learn from our mistakes thru stellar written copy! Good luck and best wishes to you and your team with Air Story!

  • Writers, designers, creators – we’re creatures of habit. It’s a rare thing, a new app or saas that quickly becomes part of the habitual landscape. Airstory is one. It has crept easily into my workflow and helped this designer become committed to the work of writing.

    More power to you, Jo, Lance and all at Airstory!

    • Hi Richard! You said the magic word… “workflow”… the Holy Grail of SaaS. You made our day! <3

  • I signed up for the one free project, and I have to say that the intro tutorial is one of the cleanest and helpful introductions that I’ve seen. Kudos!

    • Thanks so much, Jim! I learned from the best. 🙂

      Welcome to Airstory!!

  • Jason

    Wow, what a story. I LOVE that you started by doing interviews and validating a painful problem with would-be customers. Then, when things went badly with Jim, you didn’t quit. You knew you still believed in the idea because you know that people need AirStory – you did the homework upfront.

    I’m building a SaaS too, and the things that keep you going when everything hits the fan is knowing exactly what pain customers have expressed and you know you are solving it for them. You’re making the writing world a better place 🙂 I love AirStory’s story!

  • In Smarter, Faster, Better Charles Duhigg writes “many successful people . . . spend an enormous amount of time seeking out information on failures.”

    So I applaud you for telling us a story that includes several “failures.” I find those kinds of posts extremely valuable because they help me see ways in which I could easily fail in the same ways, and then help me be better prepared to stick it out and come up with strategies or quit while I’m ahead.

    I also loved this post because it reminds me to use Air Story. I was one of those beta-testers who asked all his friends to join so I could get early access. I love it!

    I don’t use it very often because not all my writing projects are very complex. However, that is changing and I’m so glad that this software will support me as my work changes.

    I also read much of what all you folks at Copy Hackers write because it’s the most useful marketing and copywriting advice I’ve gotten and I’ve taken expensive copy courses by a major company I won’t name.

    Your course 10x Emails is one of only three copywriting courses that I’ve continued to go back to when writing copy. And I have a ton of them.

    So I’m glad to hear that you are still teaching as well because I look forward to taking more courses from you.

    Good luck with Air Story and with everything else in life too 🙂

  • Beatrix Willius

    Interesting story, typical project management I’d say. Is Airstory = Evernote + templates with a bit of collaboration? Looks nice so I’ll give it a try.

  • Elizabeth Mills

    You know what’s amazing about this? You’ve taken the visual metaphor I use to organize and write my copy and made it into a real thing. I create mental “cards” of each snippet or paragraph I plan to use in a piece, but I invariably forget or lose components because I’m having to hold a bunch of disparate pieces together in my head. I’m so excited to start using Airstory. I’ve been soaking up as much copywriting know-how as I can from your tutorials and blogs, but now you’ve gone even further and built something that will make the entire writing process easier from start to finish. Thank you for continuing to help me grow as a copywriter (and copy hacker!).

  • AJ Myers

    There’s writing…then, there’s Writing. Attempting to move out of the dark-age into the future, which is now, I find myself in a whirl, head spinning (like Carrie) with all that there is to learn. So, thinking it the smart thing to do, I subscribed to every online writer advise site, blog, newsletter, and writing template I good lay my eyes onto. What good has that done me other than I am now at the bottom of this very deep, dark and dank pit of advise. Wow, how do I claw my way out of it?! Thankfully, I came across CopyHackers and your launched Airstory, which I believe will put everything back in it’s rightful order, will help to refocus my efforts. I am excited to give Airstory a go. Thank you for making this, what seems like a very valuable tool, available to neophytes like me.

  • Val Zell

    Looks like you’ve successfully answered the age-old question, “What Would Peggy Olson Do?”

    • Joanna Wiebe

      hahahaha!

  • “But the problem with teaching and only teaching is that it’s so rare to see someone actually execute on what you teach them. Teaching can be frustrating. That Airstory will help people put into practice what I teach means I can keep doing what I love…”

    THIS. This is the reason I’m a writer. When I ran marketing teams I told people what to do. I’d shut my computer screen and all the work I’d done that day had no real presence. It was as if I stared into a blank screen all day with nothing to show for it. When I’ve created courses, I’ve watched people totally and completely ignore my well-thought-out lesson plans, then come back later and just pay me to do it for them.

    But writing? (I handwrite almost everything.) Suddenly there’s a real, physical thing that I made, and when I can see the benefits for my beautiful, brilliant clients? As cliched as it sounds, that’s why I get up in the morning.

    It sounds like you found your “get up in the morning” project and I am so freaking excited to watch it grow!

  • Frankly, I was amazed and wondered how long before you realized you had made a huge mistake? Who am I that you would freely bestow this success tool upon? Airstory, a major breakthrough in writing usefulness!

  • This is absolutely brilliant. The blank page is the biggest terror to everyone who has to write copy for their business (which is everyone). I can already see it saving hundreds of thousands of pounds of binge eating by writers across the globe feeling the pain of the blank page before them.

  • Dave Longwell

    You had me at “fuck starting from scratch”, I’m excited to try it out. Great article as always, Jo! Inspiring stuff 🙂

  • Harriet Yoder

    Checking out Airstory today. Already, I can see that the interface is very intuitive. I love the transparency in your article. Behind the scenes stories always help me to understand the product better. I look forward to learning more about it. Thanks!

  • Count me as a fan. I love the multi tabbed section. Also, you guys were very responsive when I had questions or comments. I enjoyed being a beta tester! I know I’ve probably used it about 25% of its capabilities. It has been fantastic for my daily writing assignments. Appreciate Copy Hackers on this project.

  • Joanna Wiebe

    Perhaps we can get a 10/10 for Airstory? 😉

    • Sam Caesar

      I like your classiness, Jo.

      Now I just need to convert our in-house content team to worship at the alter…

  • I signed up for Airstory as a Beta tester a while ago. I don’t really consider myself a copywriter. That all changed with Airstory. Airstory has replaced all of my writing tools including Scrivener, Word and Google docs as my go to method for planning, building and writing highly relevant content for my clients and my own content. The cards system saves me hours of time by creating brief outlines of content types that i can easily fill in on the fly. Joanne and her team have been overly generous on sharing their insights on how to get the most out of Airstory as a writer. If you work with a content team or just love to have a simplified way to write content you really need to take the time and evaluate this amazing writing tool. Brian Mcfarlane – Montreal, Quebec

  • Aysha Linkiewich

    I really enjoyed that you went into both the failures and the successes of this project. Product launches are daunting beasts. I like seeing blog posts where it’s okay to find some things going wrong in a project. It makes them feel more real.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Aysha! There have been so many failures, I’m sure I left a dozen or more out. But I also left a ton of wins out. It’s all about balance… and about not writing a book-length post.

  • Kira Hug

    Congrats on the launch, Joanna, Lance & Team! Thank you for eliminating 79% of the pain in my life —> AKA writing long-form sales letters in Google docs. *Sigh.* Today is a good day (!!!)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks a ton, Kira! We’ll have a template for long-form sales pages very soon. The week-by-week roll out of templates is one of my favorite parts of Airstory (and we only decided on it last week!). Perhaps one day you’ll even grace our group with one of your copywriting templates?

      • Kira Hug

        Amazing. TY!

  • Congrats on the launch, Joanna! Love the story and guts you’re displaying. Excited to watch Airstory take flight.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks a ton, Will. Scary territory – the kind of scary you can’t help running toward. 🙂

  • Marny Harksen Bassett

    Easy and breezy, Airstory saves the day. (And keeps me from jumping out the window.)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      hahaha – well there’s our new value proposition. 😉 Thanks, Marny!

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