Laura Belgray: Crushing Crappy Copy (One Word at a Time)
Laura Belgray does two “main things” with her (brilliantly named) business Talking Shrimp:
- She helps TV networks (like Bravo, NBC, Comedy Central, and many more) come up with the words that make people want to watch their shows.
- And she helps small businesses and entrepreneurs, like you, find the words that make buyers go bananas.
And she does two “main things” (actually it was a lot more than two but I’m trying to do something here) in this interview with me today:
- Helped me to understand things about writing and copy that I never could have imagined before.
- And…made me laugh. A lot.
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In this interview Laura walks us through her journey from fact-checking & research to writing ad copy for major magazines to crafting award-winning promos for TV networks to…
Starting her own company…and the ups & downs, bumps & bruises, wins & losses…and all of the life-lessons she learned along the way.
Identify the 20 most influential people in your existing network
(most likely to whip out their phone and send the intro of your dreams)
Some of the big things you’ll learn from Laura in this “so good it hurts” interview are:
- The reason she “lies” to her calendar…and how this technique helps her stay productive.
- Why Laura was happy she didn’t know any of the “rules” when she started her company.
- The simple framework that will help you write better immediately, even if they aren’t a “writer”.
- Why “good copy isn’t just about moving products, it’s about moving people”…and how to tap into this.
- How to quiet your inner critic…and prevent your “hyper-critical self judgement” from stopping you from doing something amazing!
- And so much more…
We’ll cover all of that (and a lot more) in this exclusive interview with Laura Belgray in Episode #10!
- Get it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “Save As.”
5 Big Questions I Ask Laura in Our Interview:
- The name of your company is Talking Shrimp and I’m sure you’ve been asked this a thousand times (and maybe that’s the point 🙂 but…what the heck does that mean?
- You said that you were so glad that you didn’t know any rules when your started your business. How would following “rules” have changed things for you?
- From the outside, it can almost seem like your career and success was serendipitous and you kept “falling” into the perfect thing. But I’m guessing there was a lot of downs to go with those ups. What were some of the obstacles (internal and external) that you had to overcome and how did you get past them?
- How do you quiet your inner critic and prevent (as you call it) your “hyper-critical self judgement” from paralyzing you?
- You said that “Good copy isn’t just about moving products, it’s about moving people.” I really like this because it cuts to the heart of why understanding copywriting is so important in every aspect of business and life. What are the most effective ways to use copy to “move people”?
5 Big Things You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- Find out what “Talking Shrimp” is, how it got started, and how it can help you develop deeper connections with your audience.
- How to prevent inaction by controlling your “hyper-crictical self judgement.”
- The benefits to saying YES to uncomfortable situations.
- Discover the most effective ways to use copy to “move people.”
- How to write compelling copy that converts and connects for your business, even if you’re a “non-writer.”
5 Fast Facts About Laura:
- Laura is the founder of Talking Shrimp and co-creator of The Copy Cure and has been a professional writer for nearly two decades.
- Laura has written promos, launch campaigns, upfronts, online content, book chapters, full show episodes and more for: Bravo, NBC, HBO, TBS, Nick at Nite, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Nick Mom, VH1, The N, Sundance Channel, Ion, WE, Lifetime, Oxygen, the CW and USA.
- Celebrities who’ve brought Laura’s scripts to life include Joan Rivers, Kevin Hart, Spongebob Squarepants, Kathy Griffin, Ted Danson, Vanessa Williams, Roseanne Barr, Kelly Ripa, Adam West, Michael McKean & David Landers (AKA Lenny & Squiggy), Moon Unit Zappa, Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley.
- Laura’s writing has earned numerous honors, including the big daddy of promo awards, Promax Best of Show. This was for her favorite project ever, “Tony ‘n’ T: TV Land In Demand,” a rap video starring Tony Randall and Mr. T.
- When not writing for private clients and TV, Laura likes watching TV. And when not watching TV, she enjoys traveling, eating in great restaurants, and talking about TV. She speaks decent Spanish, halting Italian, and a few obscene phrases in Ancient Greek.
Complete Show Notes:
- Find out what Laura does for a living and how she helps entrepreneurs and small businesses craft copy that brings in buyers! [03:28]
- Laura explains how she came up with the name of her business, Talking Shrimp. [03:57]
- Laura explains the influence her parents had on her professional life. [05:31]
- Why she was destined to become a writer from a young age and what she did to land her job writing TV promos with VH1 [06:47]
- Find out how her company, Talking Shrimp, happened almost by accident. (HINT: Marie Forleo may have had something to do with it) [12:46]
- How blissful ignorance and NOT following the rules led to an extremely dedicated online audience. [17:05]
- The benefits to leaving your comfort zone and saying yes to the things that scare you the most. [20:43]
- Laura describes her “hell maybe!” approach to making big decisions and how she decides what to work on each day. [23:50]
- Find out how Laura gets things done and structures her days [26:35]
- How Laura builds in buffer time by lying to her calendar [30:45]
- Find out how emotions such as fear and praise, motivate Laura to take action. [32:25]
- How to quiet your inner critic and prevent your “hyper-critical self judgement” from paralyzing you. [37:01]
- Why good copy isn’t just about moving products, it’s about moving people. [38:04]
- How to convert leads into buyers by crafting copy around your customer avatar. [40:22]
- How the C.O.P.Y method can help ANYONE (even non-writers) speak to their audience and generate more sales. [45:47]
- Laura shares the best piece of advice that she’s ever received and how it resulted in a successful business. [01:02:29]
Links Mentioned in This Episode:
- Talking Shrimp [Laura’s company]
- Talking Shrimp blog [Laura’s awesome blog that I love!]
- The Copy Cure [copywriting course that Laura created with Marie Forleo]
- Tackle Your Tagline [free cheat sheet from Laura — I used it to come up with this show’s title today :]
- Purple Cow [book by Seth Godin]
- Bank Street College of Education
- Wesleyan University
- New York Magazine
- Tom Sawyer
- Tom Hanks [famous actor]
- Nick At Nite [TV network that Laura worked for]
- VH1 [TV network that Laura worked for]
- 90210 [hit TV series]
- Melrose Place [soap opera]
- The Odd Couple [TV sitcom]
- Mary Tyler Moore [TV show mentioned]
- The Brady Bunch [TV sitcom]
- The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills [reality TV show]
- Marie Forleo [highly recognized online entrepreneur]
- B-School [Marie Forleo’s 8 week online training program]
- Crunch [fitness club that Laura and Marie Forleo used to attend]
- Rich, Happy and Hot [live event by Marie Forleo]
- Aweber [email marketing software]
- SOHO House New York [hotel and members club in Manhattan]
- Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans [blog post mentioned]
- Derek Sivers [online entrepreneur, writer, programer]
- Kanye West [I mention why I almost didn’t go to his concert]
- Madison Square Garden [where the Kanye concert took place]
- Evernote [app for getting things done]
- Parkinson’s Law [adage mentioned]
- Breaking Bad [TV drama mentioned]
- Mad Men [TV drama mentioned]
- 3 Cow Marketing [example Laura mentioned during interview]
- Writing Down the Bones [creative writing book]
- David Sedaris
- Me Talk Pretty One Day [book mentioned]
Learn More About Laura:
- C.R.A.P.P [copywriting resource mentioned — SO good!]
- Laura on Facebook, Twitter
One Last Thing…
If you enjoyed listening to this episode of my new podcast, then please support the show by leaving a subscribing on iTunes and leaving a review. It’s easy and takes about 30 seconds to do!
Laura! This episode rocked the house! So happy to have found you through Marie and *hopefully* meeting you in Italy next year for your workshop. We adore you at Ideal. Mainly because you’re so saucy. <3 you too!!
Julie! Thanks so much for listening. And for the adoration – I’ll take it and reciprocate. Love you back. Let’s do Italy! I’m all about the red sauce.
I love Laura and have had so many opportunities to work with her – she’s incredible and makes magic with copy every time. This is a must listen!
I’ve had the opportunity to work with Laura in different capacities and her copy gold never ceases to amaze. Her ability to hone in on exactly the right way to get your customers to drool all over you is pure genius. This one is a MUST listen!!! xo
YOU are magic, Licia. I like the excessive drool image. Reminds me, I have to make a dentist appointment. 😉
LOVE this interview… so much incredible content that Laura shared, she’s the real deal…. I loved working with her – she made the copy on our cleaning business page totally shine… (oops pardon the pun!)…
The way you talk about copy makes it feel so accessible. Thank you.
i love listening to laura talk copy! if you want some great ideas on how to make (copy) writing fun, that are sure to leave you inspired to take action and create some copy-envy among your entrepreneurial friends, press play and enjoy an hour of smiles, chuckles and damn good tips. thanks laura!
Laura! A pure genius!
While you were talking and sharing examples I was writing my new sales page!!
I loved the tips from the work COPY.
And especially the example you gave about painting a picture like giving your copy to Steven Spielberg.
I will definitely be using this when I write.
And to Chris- awesome questions!
Thanks Chris for such a great interview! I’ve enjoyed Laura’s work through the Copy Cure, and it was really fun to get to know her a little more.
Just when I thought Laura Belgray couldn’t rock any harder, she casually mentions David Sedaris. I knew there was a reason I like her!! And yes to body shaking and tears while reading his stuff – I actually did have people ask me if I was okay (my first and best was Barrel Fever).
BTW, Copy Cure is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done, and some of the best money I’ve spent.
Chris: Thanks again for a wonderful podcast episode, I did not know Laura. I thought I would just listen to the first 10 minutes to see what you would talk about and ended up listening to the entire interview.
Laura: I loved how down to earth you are, your tips, the examples, so so useful, thanks!
What a fun + helpful podcast episode! I love the way you recommend that we paint a picture, and then give the vivid 3 cows example. You always give lots of specific, detailed tips that help me write better. Thanks for that Laura – and for introducing me to this podcast.