Great Content Hacks and Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid


Nicole Rollender will join the 2 Regular Guys this Friday to discuss marketing through great content. Nicole heads up STRAND Writing Services—a creative agency that leverages the power of interactive campaigns, sizzling conversion copy, and inspired content, so your competitors become invisible. Nicole is going to share why GOOD copy is so important to decorators. She will also leave us with several copy must-haves and the mistakes she has seen business owners make. Ready to improve your copywriting? This is the episode for you.

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All Graphics Pro Expo (GPX) Shows next year will be 2-day events, and classes will take place the day before the show opens. Here are the cities and dates:

  • Irving, TX March 9-10
  • Charlotte, NC April 27-28
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  • Portland, OR July 19-20
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Dad Joke

What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

Content and Copywriting

When Nicole Rollender isn’t cruising the backroads of South Jersey’s Pine Barrens in her classic fireball red Trans Am with a double espresso, she heads up STRAND Writing Services—a creative agency that leverages the power of interactive campaigns, sizzling conversion copy and inspired content so your competitors become invisible, your seekers crystallize into loyal-for-life buyers … and you make more money. Nicole holds an MFA in creative writing from Penn State University, and built her business on a 15-year career in award-winning editorial publishing, content marketing and professional development in the decorated-apparel arena. A 2017 recipient of a New Jersey Council on the Arts poetry fellowship, Nicole is the author of the poetry collection Louder Than Everything You Love from Five Oaks Press. 

Erich – What are some of the copy/content mistakes you see? (As a writer do you cringe a little when you see what companies are putting out there?)

-Showing that they clearly didn’t proofread: straight-up bad grammar, blatant misspellings, strange capitalizations, like “We serve all Businesses,” incorrect use of apostrophes – like your’s instead of yours, or dog’s instead of dogs

-Overly formal or trying-too-hard-to-be-proper-or-professional, resulting in outdated or fuddy-duddy or unrelatable copy

-Copy that sounds like someone wrote it at 3 am, trying to be too casual, conversational or stream of consciousness

-Too much copy or too little copy in a certain amount of space on a website, like on the above the page copy on a home page

-Making the copy all about themselves, rather than about the problems (or goals) they can solve for their customers

-Similarly, focusing on features, rather than on benefits. Like “Plenty of staff.” What does that mean for customers? “A human will always answer your call.”

– Not telling enough about your company—origin story, your why, what you support, what makes you tick, etc.

-Not having enough/any information on product/services pages.

-Not having specific calls to action at every juncture on a website. Tell people what you want them to do!  

Talk to us about why good copy is important for decorators.

-Bottom line, you’ve got a LOT, a LOTTTTTTTT of competitors out there, especially since you’ve got a national reach if you’ve got a website and an online store. People want to work with companies they know, like and trust. But first, your website copy has abt.15 seconds to grab their attention. If they don’t like your brand voice or what they read, they’re onto the next decorator in their Google search.

-Your website copy is basically your 24/7 sales and marketing team, most often the FIRST company reps your prospects will meet. On the flip side, if someone meets you IRL or gets a recommendation, they’ll go and search you out online to see if they want to work with you. This copy has to work hard for you, to make you stand out from competitors.

Example: I’m walking-barefoot-over-hot-coals fearless when it comes to your copy.

I’m never afraid to explore your brand’s inner workings and take the right risks, so you always stand out (like that breakdancer who’s got the moves no one can imitate).

I stay curious and open to every new adventure, including yours.

-If your copy sucks, people will notice immediately. That reflects poorly on your brand, for starters. If your copy is great, people will notice and have a better perception of your brand.

-You want to meet prospects where they are – in media res – in the middle of the action, where they’re looking to solve a problem or achieve a goal.

Example: I bet one or more of these sounds like you…

The DIY Entrepreneur

“I bought the copywriting-for-business owners courses, snapped up all the $37 sales pages and email templates, and even asked my English major BFF to work her magic on my home page headline.

I thought it would be easy to write my own copy. Instead, my website doesn’t show off who I am at all, and I’ve wasted so much time and money trying to DIY my way to sales success, instead of excelling in my zone of genius.”


“A copywriter who ‘gets’ my brand and creates the website, sales page and email copy I need to turn the heat way up on my lead gen, sales and brand recognition.” 

What’s an interactive campaign?

I’ll touch briefly on this, based on some of the work I’ve done recently. It’s elements within a copy project suite that elicit direct responses from prospects or customers:

-Organic social media posts (long and short) that you post on your own pages and in groups, using the PAS formula (Problem, Agitate, Solution) with a CTA – leading to a landing page with a special offer if they take action.

-Ladder posts: Who wants to know how they can double their business this month? Who wants to know how I helped a client smash their money goals with logoed t-shirts? Comment below!

-Email campaign that asks people to interact somehow – sign up to receive a free training or ebook. That opt-in drops them into another email sequence.

-A live component – prospects receive a series of emails and then opt into a live training

-On my site they have choices, to book a call with me (then they get a followup qualifying sequence) or they can choose from different opt in freebies so they get dropped into a specific client bucket/sequence.

In your bio you talk about making your competitors invisible. Let’s discuss that concept. -As I mentioned earlier, if you’re a screen printer or embroiderer, you have a lot of competitors. As a copy writer I have a lot of competitors. In both cases, many compete on price. And many clients will go with the lower-priced competitor, get burned and then equate quality with a higher price.

-The way to make your competitors invisible is to be clearly the ONLY choice to achieve their goals or solve the problem, regardless of price. You do that via copy on your website. I’ve had people make a phone appointment with me, and say, “I’m already sold based on what I read on your website. Send me the invoice so we can get started!”

-I’m a writer, not a mind reader. When clients ask me “how I know what to write,” I tell them I use “VOC” data. That’s voice of customer data. Where do we get that? Well, we talk to individual customers, survey customers via an online survey, mine customer reviews, and even look at online feedback about close competitors. That’s where we learn what makes YOUR target customers tick so that we can write messaging that resonates with them.

Consider questions like these to jumpstart your copy:

What is the #1 desire/problem of your target market/ideal client? What else do they want (list 3-5 more things)?

What’s the #1 thing stopping them from getting what they want? What else is stopping them (list 3-5 more things)?

What have they already tried that didn’t it work? Why didn’t it work?

What is the #1 (and then list more things) that your shop does to help them get the result they want or to solve their problem?

We all would love those loyal-for-life customers. What are some ways to make that happen?

-Here’s what I do on my website and what I do for my copy clients: I create the experience of what it’s like to work with me (or them) via my copy. It’s like entering a virtual version of my business. We’ll talk more soon about some of the key sections I recommend on any website to convey that experience. If people like what they see, read and feel, and then your business lives up to and even exceed that hype, you’ve created that bond.

-Part of that is choosing a personality for the brand voice that reflects the business. An easy, fast way to get a sense of that is to write down a list of adjectives or nouns that you think reflects your shop’s personality. Words I use to describe my business include: edgy, creative, artistic, methodical, rock and roll swagger, etc. The copy I write reflects that tone: “If you’re tired of lackluster copy and “unicorn” writers who just don’t (or can’t) deliver, you’re in the right place.”

-Do you have an email list? Some of my favorite brands email two to three times a week with longer emails I love to read. Depending on how much you have to say, stay in touch with your list pretty often with fun stories, helpful ideas, case studies, special offers, etc., so you’re always top of mind.

Pre-show you talked with us about copy must-haves. Let’s dig into that.

-Let’s focus on the important copy parts of a website that a customer will look for when they check you out online. You want to give them a very good idea of the results you’ll get them, a window into your process, your personality and story, and the experience of working with you.

Home Page – Your Company Tagline, Headline(s), Subheadline(s), CTA

Headline: Cheap T-Shirts vs. We’ll Make You Famous With Logoed T-Shirts

Here’s one I wrote that’s now live:


(And maybe add that to your bottom line, too.)

Hundreds of apparel distributors choose us for the branded apparel and custom embroidery that makes their clients stand out.

Say it In Stitches is an experienced, full-service, high-volume contract embroidery company ready to turn out quality embroidery for you, too.

CTA: If they’re already hooked, what do they do next? Check out your catalog? Upload a logo? Book a call? Send an email? Send a chat? Include CTAs wherever you can that it makes sense without getting too crazy. A call to action that asks them to leave an email address or send a message can also score them a white paper, e-book, a short video/webinar or other freebie that shows off your expertise while giving them helpful tips.

Products/Services Page – Ever seen a site where you click on a product like a t-shirt and either there’s NO product description or there’s one that just lists the features? Neither is good, in my opinion (having no copy is worse). Write compelling descriptions that help the shopper envision wearing or using the garment to entice them to consider it. Same with services pages – whether it’s screen printing or artwork creation, do UP what you do. If you use special inks or techniques or have stellar artists, explain how that benefits the customer.

About Us – 81% percent of people say trust is a deciding factor when making a purchase. But, it’s difficult for potential customers to trust a faceless or personality-less organization. A brand story helps to “humanize” your brand by demonstrating how your attitudes, beliefs, and values connect with your customers.

Before you write an about page I recommend writing a brand statement  This is where you define who you are and what you offer. It may help to review your mission statement or write one if you haven’t already. A mission statement is written for the company and its employees; a brand statement is geared toward customers and clients.

A brand statement defines:

o   What your company does or the services they sell.

o   How your company does it. (This includes the Unique Value Proposition (UVP), or the unique products or services you offer.)

o   Why you do what you do. (This is the most important because it connects to your audience on an emotional level.)

Basic elements of an about page:

1.Bold headline and hook paragraph that speaks their language, talking about their top pain point and your top solution.

Important question for distributors trying to wow customers with high-quality embroidery, but still haven’t found the “unicorn” contract decorator…

If there were a consistent, reliable way for you to send your customers notice-me embroidery on time, every time, without having to worry about embarrassingly poor-quality embroidery (that end-users hate), ruined garments or ruined relationships, would you finally feel confident selling even more decorated apparel to your existing customers?

2. Talk about your client – make it tangible, their pain points, why they can’t get what they want and how you totally get it.

3. Talk about you – the solution, how it will solve their problem, etc. Talk about some of your philosophies, credentials, successes, etc. You can throw in a line or two that explain why you’re different or better than the competition.

4. Fun or impressive deets, if relevant.

5. CTA – what do they do next?

6. You might have an angle, like that you were a musician always on the road and you never got the exact quality of merch you wanted on time. So you started your shop, etc.

What It’s Like to Work With Us – Spell out the process of working with your shop – on an order start to finish. On my site, I explain how I research and write their copy so they understand the science and art of copywriting. People often think, well, anyone can write, and sure, they CAN, but there are levels of proficiency and skill. My clients want amazing, unique writing, done quickly, with white glove service. They know they’ll pay for that, and they’re OK with it. They’ll often say they want copy LIKE mine, or at least that created the experience they had on my site, like FOMO.

Blog: Create one if you plan to update it often and will promote it via email or social.

FAQs – I can’t tell you HOW many sites don’t have FAQs. You can inject tons of personality/humor into FAQs, and you can include the questions/objections you hear most on sales calls. That way, you address some of the “common issues” upfront and potentially weed out low prices shoppers or PITA clients.

Testimonials – Have written (and video) testimonials on your site. EDIT them. When I ask for testimonials, I have a form that asks: What was the problem/goal? Why did you choose me? What was the experience like working with me? What results did we get for you? Then, I edit the testimonial for clarity. I ask every single client for one. There’s a testimonials area, but I pepper them around the site. I’ve done longer interviews with happy clients or written case studies that go on the blog, in emails or even in downloadable white papers.

Contact Us – This page often just includes contact details or a form for a customer to send a message. This is a missed opportunity to inject some personality onto your site.

5 Things Keeping You From Writing Great Copy

By Nicole Rollender

  1. Not believing that good copy actually does contribute to whether you attract new clients or scare them away.
  2. Not reading other sites (like competitors) to learn what kind of copy you like and don’t like.
  3. Not actually asking your customers what their main pain points are and knowing how you solve them.
  4. Not actually knowing what makes you different from your competitors.
  5. Being too much of a perfectionist to write anything down, finalize anything or publish it on your website. Just do it!


If you would like to present your 5 Things, five quick points on any subject, whether it be advice or five instructional steps, we would love to hear from you. You can come on the show and present them yourself, or we will share your list with our listeners or even play a recorded video of you sharing 5 things. Whatever is easiest.