Want to learn how to land clients who pay you the big bucks? Of course you do!
This week I was joined by Selena Soo to talk all about what publicity actually is (and no, it’s not just for “internet superstars” or press releases). And let me tell you folks, we dive deep into the topic—so you won’t want to miss this.
In this interview, you’ll learn:
- The 3 reasons why service-based entrepreneurs need to pay extra attention to to their publicity
- How to leverage the power of publicity to grow your freelance business to 6-figures+
- How to build authority through publicity so that clients come TO YOU
- Selena’s 4 tips for getting started as a beginner (even if you’re terrified of stepping out from “behind the scenes”)
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Who is Selena Soo?
Selena Soo is a publicity and marketing strategist for visionary entrepreneurs, experts, and authors who want to reach millions with their message. She’s helped clients and students get featured in places like O, The Oprah Magazine, Forbes, and Inc., and land interviews on popular podcasts and national TV.
Many of Selena’s clients have become industry leaders with 6 and 7-figure businesses, raving fan bases, and hundreds of thousands of followers. Her signature approach comes down to building powerful and long-lasting relationships with influencers and the media in a thoughtful, authentic way.
A former New Yorker, Selena now lives by the beach in beautiful Puerto Rico.
And this week, I had the honor of interviewing her to get you the best insider tips and advice.
Now, let’s jump right into this week’s interview.
How to Land Big-Ticket Copywriting Clients
So, first of all, so excited you’re here, Selena. And let’s talk about publicity. Let’s talk about what that means. And so I would love to start by asking you, how did you get started in this whole world of publicity? Because to me, it feels like this whole other level of business and marketing and PR, and I think like Samantha Jones on Sex and the City as like what I think of publicity. How did you get started in this whole world?
Absolutely. So I got started in the world of publicity because when I was in my mid 20s, I had a quarter-life crisis. I was working at a nonprofit at the time, making about $42,000 a year. I liked my work, but I felt like I was meant for something more. And at the same time, I was struggling with self worth issues, I became clinically depressed, and things got so bad that my mom flew all the way from Vancouver, Canada, to New York City, where I lived just to be by my side, to make sure I was putting food in my mouth, getting outta bed in the morning, getting to work.
And I would remember that she would accompany me on the subway, and I felt like this little school girl, like my mom was taking me to school. And I remember saying to a friend, “I need to find a way to feel better. Do you know anyone who can help me?” And that’s when I got introduced to a female life coach. And then through her, I got introduced to this world of experts, authors, thought leaders, healers.
That’s when I realized when people are struggling and suffering like I was, we don’t just need more information. We also are looking for inspiration. And to me, nothing is more inspiring than a role model. And for me, a role model is someone who really embodies a message of hope and possibility, who has gone through a challenge, who has come out the other side.
And when I would ask my friends, “Have you heard of this person and that person?” Because their ideas, their products or services are changing my life, they had no idea who I was talking about, and so that’s also when it dawned on me that sometimes the people who are doing the most important work, have the best product, the best service, the best story, the best message can still very much be that best kept secret.
And so that’s when I started to really fall in love with publicity because I saw it as the fastest way to help people get credibility, get known. And so what I would start doing, like I didn’t have a formal business, but I would start connecting people to each other, entrepreneurs that I admired.
Even though I identify as an introvert, I would reach out to them and be like, you should meet this other person or you should meet this person in the media. And as I built these connections and hooked people up with these different opportunities to be seen, I started to build a reputation for myself. So that’s how I got started well over a decade ago.
I love that. I love that you started by, and probably completely, selflessly just being like, “Oh my gosh, those two people need to meet. I’m gonna connect them.” Which I absolutely love because I feel like this industry, it can often feel very tit for tat, and people will often ask me when I make introductions, what do you get from that? And I’m like, nothing, I’m just really excited to connect you two.
And I think you should never underestimate the power of being that person who can connect two people who are looking for each other and the credibility that that then offers you. And I love that you saw this natural passion and ability that you had to then turn it into a business.
So my next question is, how would you define publicity? Because again, when I first heard the word, it feels very New York, which I know you got started in New York, but it feels very high level New York, very Oprah Magazine and Forbes, and really, how do you define publicity for the everyday entrepreneur?
I mean, when people hear the word publicity, they think, “Oh, that’s something for internet superstars or when I have a book coming out or I’ve reached a certain financial milestone.” But publicity is all about getting your ideas, your message, your products, your services out on other people’s platforms.
So this could look like traditional media, like being featured in magazines, TV, and newspapers, to what I call the new media, like being interviewed on an entrepreneur’s podcast, being a guest expert in their program, doing an IGTV interview, maybe them sharing their work with their audience over email. But it’s all about getting your work onto other people’s platforms.
Yeah, that makes so much sense. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be these massive platforms, although that is awesome. But as a smaller business, you might start somewhere else and then work your way up to that. And so why do you believe that publicity, because here’s the thing, we often talk about, especially in my high-level mastermind coaching program, Reign, we often talk about this idea of being seen and putting yourself out there, and it can feel scary. And again, many of us copywriters are introverts and we like to stay behind the scenes.
But why do you believe that publicity is really important for service-based entrepreneurs?
Yeah, absolutely, so there are three reasons why publicity is so important to copywriters and other creatives. So the first reason, and you touched on this already, Alex, is credibility and authority because it’s one thing for us to tell the world, “Hey, I’m the best at what I do.” But if we’re the only person saying that and carrying this message, it’s only gonna go so far, right?
Like, we can say it on our own blog, our own social media, but we’re not really reaching the people that we need to reach, right? So it’s so important that we have that authority, and there’s lots of different ways we know that we can use to build authority. Like we could write a book and that could be part of someone’s journey for sure. But we know that writing a book takes a lot of time and many years.
We can be growing our following on Instagram, which is a great idea, but to hit 10 or 20,000 or whatever followers, that also takes a long time. And so publicity, I think, is the fastest way to get credibility because once you learn the skills you can get publicity in a matter of weeks or less. So that’s number one, and I think that there’s nothing that really compares to the credibility of being featured in media. Like when we say to people, oh, I have this challenge, or, I have this webinar and I got all these people registering, like our family, the people around us are like, what’s a webinar, what’s a challenge?
Whereas we’re like, “Oh, I was featured in the local newspaper or I was in Forbes.” I was on this podcast and people are like, “Oh my gosh, that’s amazing! You are going places!” Right? So it’s a whole other level of credibility. And you can also use those media logos for the whole lifetime of your business, right? On your opt-in pages, on your website, in your bio. It’s a way to increase conversions, right? So credibility, that’s one.
The second is reaching more people because we want more people to know about our work. Like we can individually connect with people, but one by one, right? The message is only going to spread so quickly. But imagine instead of just having a conversation with one person, what if 50 people, 500 people, 5,000 or 50,000 people we’re listening to your interview? That is a very real possibility.
So I’m just gonna play a game, I guess, with Alex. So I want you to guess like Entrepreneurs on Fire. A popular podcast in the entrepreneur space. How many people do you think listen per episode?
Oh, man, we even had Kate Erickson come speak to our Reign group! Hmm 100,000? I don’t know.
It’s 117,000 listeners per episode, right? So I just feel like with a lot of the people that I work with and talk to they’re like, “I know my work is good, but it’s just like, people just don’t know who I am.” So imagine what if double the number of people, triple, or even 10x number of people. And that can really happen when you’re getting out there through publicity where one interview could be 100,000, 5,000, 500, right? So really like getting your name out there. So that’s super powerful.
And then, last but not least, the third reason is really building that know, like, and trust factor. So the publicity that you do, it’s also a form of content marketing. It’s a form of expressing yourself. You’re already writing things, right? Whether it’s on your social media, your website, your newsletter, things that you’re sharing with clients. You can share those same things on these other platforms that more people are reaching and when they’re reading them, they really feel like they know you. You’re not a stranger to them.
So when it comes time to reach out and have a phone conversation, or when they learn about your program opening up, they’re much more likely to because that know, like, and trust is already there. So those are the three reasons why publicity is really powerful, especially for copywriters.
Yeah, I was one of those people who was insanely resistant to any sort of publicity. I often joke that I didn’t even have a website for, I think the first four or five years after starting my freelance copywriting business. And then I had this really awkward moment where I was starting to build up some of that relationship capital in the industry because I was going to events, I was networking, I was being connected with people, and I got asked to be interviewed by a really, really well known SaaS company on copywriting. And at the end of the interview, they were like, “Okay, so what would you like people, or where can they find you or what’s the next step?” But I literally was like, “Uh.” I didn’t have a website.
My social media like had nothing to do with anything. I had absolutely no public authority at all. It was all just, well, my clients like working with me, so why do I need anything else? And I think that’s the mindset shift that needs to happen. Even if you are a complete beginner watching this, of course, you need to start somewhere. You need to start with honing your skills, gaining the experience and starting to get those clients.
But once you have a little bit of that experience, it really can be this like putting fuel on the fire moment when you are open to being more visible and putting yourself out there and making people aware of the fact that you do what you do and you’re great at it. But then having other people be able to support that and say, “Yeah, she’s great. She’s an excellent copywriter.”
And then having a waiting list of people who wanna work with you because at the end of the day, nothing is better than being like, “Sorry, I’m booked up until five months from now, but if you’re still looking for a copywriter then, we can chat,” or “Hey, I’m not available for copywriting services at this moment, but I’m happy to hop on a strategy session with you and walk you through your page so that you can at least get some value right away and get started.”
And there’s so many ways that you can offer value and get paid for that, and the more you can be seen, even if it just starts small and you work your way up, like being featured on a podcast. Maybe it doesn’t have 110 or 117,000 viewers per episode. Maybe it’s a smaller podcast, but you’re honing your skills of being able to put your message out there and work your way up, so I love that, which leads me to the next question of you mentioned that you used to be more introverted and felt maybe bit awkward putting yourself out there.
What advice would you give to someone who is very much behind the scenes and maybe they do have this desire to start being more public and using publicity? What tips would you give for people like that?
Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts around this. I wanna begin by sharing a personal story. So, 10 years ago when I officially started my business, my first client, Kenisha, she was like, “Selena, I love your work. I wanna share it with my audience. I wanna do an interview with you.” And I remember feeling completely terrified because I was that person, very comfortable being behind the scenes and helping other people be in the spotlight, but I wasn’t comfortable putting myself there. And so I had doubts, but of course, deep down, I knew that publicity would help me.
If I wanted to reach more people and be known, I had to say yes, especially when this opportunity fell on my lap. So I said yes to the interview, and I was super nervous leading up to it. It was a video interview, Skype at the time was what we were using. And we did the interview. I remember feeling like this deer in headlights. And when I watched a recording of the interview later, and I was with my interns at the time, I felt like I was watching a horror movie. Like I was covering my face with my hands, like, “Oh my gosh, this is so bad.” I’m talking so fast and the introvert in me was in my head, like I could not maintain eye contact.
And because public speaking was really my biggest fear, at the time I was, you know, I had you my interns count my filler words, you knows, ums, and all of that. And literally they counted to 137 filler words. And I was like, you can just stop counting. Clearly, this is a disaster. We need to see if Kenisha can delete this interview. And clearly this is not for me. And I was just feeling so horrified. And then I heard one of my interns say to me, “You know, Selena, I actually thought it was pretty good. I don’t think it’s as bad as you think.”
And I remember being so stunned and I sat with it and I was like, what if it’s not as bad as I think? So I shared it with my email list, 80 people at the time, and then I put my computer away, tried to calm down, make a smoothie, and when I went back to it a couple hours later, I had some really nice responses from people being like, “Oh, that was great. I’ve never seen you on video. You’ve got such a way with expressing yourself in stories.” And I remember being so stunned, so I came away with four lessons I wanna share with all of you copywriters and creatives and behind the scenes people because I know you’re gonna resonate with them.
And these are lessons I have to remind myself of to this day.
But lesson number one is that you are usually doing better than you think because I have a feeling that you are your own worst critic, right? You’re probably so hard on yourself, judging yourself, but trust me, no one’s paying attention to how fast you are blinking, how many filler words? No one’s writing it down. So usually, you’re doing way better than you think, okay?
And then number two is that we can’t compare our beginning to someone else’s middle or end, right? So if we’re on day one of our publicity journey, we cannot compare ourselves to our mentor or to that, I don’t know, inspirational speaker or leader in our industry who is five years, 10 years, 15 years ahead of us, right? We’re not gonna be there on day one.
And then related to that, number three is understanding that we’re only gonna get better by doing, therefore we must take imperfect action because I know that there is like this gap between where you are right now and where you wanna be, and you can feel that gap. You’re like, oh my gosh, I see myself.
I want to perform or show up in this particular way, but that’s just honestly not where I am right now. I feel that way sometimes even today, like still. And so I think that sometimes we even have to just like accept ourselves, forgive ourselves, and just do our best and know the only way to get better at anything is to do the work and get better over time.
And then the thing that helps me the most, this is always a thing that I return to, is remembering it’s not about you, right? This is about the people that you help. Like you have a passion, a mission, a purpose, something that you’re really good about, and that’s why you’re showing up. I know for myself, I’m not showing up and doing interviews, appearing on the media, getting on stages because I’m looking to stroke my ego, because I just want all the attention on me for no reason.
That’s not why any of my students or clients do this work. We’re doing it because we know we have something powerful that can change someone’s life, that can help them, that can take away their pain, that can solve a problem. So I always just keep that front of mind at the end of an interview or whatever I’m doing, where I’m like showing up publicly.
I just ask myself, did I give it my best? Did I show up with presence? Was I generous with my knowledge? Did I share stories? Did I help someone? If the answer is yes, then I did a great job. So when I think about publicity, I really think of it, honestly, as an act of courage and an act of generosity and service. So I think when we remember it’s not about us, it’s about the work, it’s about serving people, then that really helps me shift my mindset and take the pressure off myself.
Yes, I love so much about what you just said. I mean, it reminds me of the line I always say, and anyone who’s followed me for longer than a week probably has heard me say it, that you have to give yourself permission to suck. You have to be bad at something before you can be good at something, and that’s so freaking true.
I know it’s so easy to compare yourself to someone who, like you said, is a few steps ahead of you, and then you’re immediately kind of in anxiety and you’re thinking, oh, how do I get there? How do I get there, and you’re making it about you when, in reality, if you think of how can I be in service even just to one person to start? And then to 10 people, and then to 20 people. It changes your whole mindset around it. And it’s the reason why I kept on my YouTube channel the very first video I ever published.
This was before I even decided I was gonna be like a consistent YouTuber. It’s a video from years ago, and it is terrible, and I was gonna delete it because I was embarrassed by it. And I realized this is actually pretty inspirational for people who are looking to put their message out there because the lighting is bad, the audio is bad.
I say, “Um,” every second word. It is truly horrendous, but it shows the growth, and so I love that you said that. And I also love how you talk about you getting really started and you had an email list of 80 people. That’s how you start. I remember the first email I ever sent out. It was like, “Hey, you 20 people. I’m gonna send you this email because if I help one of you, it’s gonna be worthwhile.” And I just absolutely love that.
So what advice would you give to, let’s say, someone who has been behind the scenes and they’re like, “Okay, I just have to start. I have to suck at something before I can be good at it. I’m gonna serve. I’m gonna show up. I’m gonna follow those tips.” Where’s a good place to start looking to get more visibility and publicity?
Yeah, I mean, I think that we need to get clearer on where do we really shine? So I feel like for many of the copywriters, it’s gonna probably be through writing, right? And then for other people, or maybe for the copywriters and creatives here, it’s I love to teach and I want to do video interviews. So it’s getting clear on that. But the other thing you have to think about is what is your core offer? Whenever I encourage people to get publicity, I think that we need to have a purpose.
So for example, like for me, my core offer is a program called Impacting Millions. We work with people over the course of a year, and so it’s for people that are looking to really learn and grow, right? For some people, they’re selling maybe an iPhone app, or they’ve got a book that they’re selling and that’s $20. That’s different than if you’re selling a program that is a couple thousand dollars, right? Or 1-on-1 work that could be even more than that. So really understanding what are the right places in which to be seen. So there’s mainstream media like television or magazines where you can literally reach millions of people very quickly within minutes.
And then there’s more niche media, which might not be household name media, but if it’s what your ideal clients are consuming, and these are the kinds of people that are able to pay for what you are offering and they’re looking for you there, then you wanna target that. So yeah, I think it’s getting clear on what you have to offer, where you wanna be seen. And just like a quick technique to come up with a media list, I really love a technique that I’ve developed called the follow the leader technique.
So I want everyone to think about who are a couple leaders in my industry? Maybe it’s your mentor, maybe it’s an author and you have bought their books and you’ve learned about copywriting or creative work or becoming an entrepreneur from them, right? But think about who are the leaders in your industry? So I would recommend like making a list of at least five leaders.
So in my case, I talk about publicity. Maybe some other leaders in my industry might be people that talk about how to get a TEDx Talk or how to be great on camera and other forms of visibility. So I can make my list, and then there’s lots of ways, but the simplest is just to go onto Google and type in their name. So in my case, I’ll type in their name and then the word podcast because I wanna be on more podcasts.
And literally, like within seconds, the list of podcasts they’ve appeared on will come up. Like you will see all these different places. You do that for five people, right away you’ve got a media list right there. And then also when you’re reaching out to the media, you can do it in a customized way where you can say, like, “I see that you featured X, Y, Z person, and I would love to come in and talk about this.” It’s complimentary because you already know that they’re featuring the same kind of expert as you so that already gives you a foot in the door.
I love that. I love that because I think people often think publicity is like, “Oh, if I just keep putting content on my Instagram, I’m gonna be discovered and people are gonna come to me” And yes, that can happen, and it does all the time, but to be a little bit more proactive because the flip side of that is people who have podcasts are always looking for people to feature, are always looking for content.
And so if you go in with a really clear offer, and I talk about this in copywriting all the time, right? I talk about defining your USP as a copywriter. Who you are, what you do, how you serve your clients. Being really clear on that gives you such great authority already by just having clarity in terms of what you offer and what you do, and then being a little bit proactive and going, “Okay, yeah, I might get a bunch of no’s, but there might be that perfect podcast.” Even if it is a little bit smaller, as you’re just starting out, who is excited to have someone who is learning copywriting, even who’s new at learning copywriting, right?
Because that’s the other thing is like, again, you can’t be an expert until you’re an expert. And so you can’t just go and say, “Oh, I’m the foremost expert on copywriting,” but you can say, “Hey, I’ve started my copywriting business this year and I’d love to be able to share with your audience what I’ve learned along the way.” And then that way it’s really authentic.
I mean, just piggybacking off what you’re saying, Alex, it’s making me think about how important it is for all of us to build a body of work, right? Because for whatever opportunity we are pitching ourselves, whether it is a media opportunity to be a guest speaker, to be on someone’s podcast, or even an opportunity for someone to be a client of yours, right?
The first thing they’re gonna do is they’re gonna Google your name, and yes, you may have your amazing writing portfolio, which you can give them when they ask you, but they’re gonna Google your name and you want things to come up in addition to your social media. Like how cool is it if there are articles and interviews and things that are showcasing your authority? It’s showing that you’re out there as a leading expert.
Yeah, yeah, and I remember the first podcast I was interviewed on was, there wasn’t a massive viewership, but that’s kind of the beautiful thing about podcasts is the viewership is like, nobody knows. So it literally could be someone who’s just starting out, and when someone Googles you, they go, “Oh, look, they were featured on this podcast.” They don’t know if the podcast is just like an itty bitty baby podcast. There’s only been three episodes. It doesn’t matter.
It means wow, someone else is vetting you and someone else is saying you’re worthy of being on my podcast so that gives you that lent credibility. So I absolutely love that, and I know that timing is a big part of publicity as well and learning to capitalize on certain events and dates, which leads me to your amazing publicity calendar.
Can you take a second to explain what that is and how it can help new copywriters? And by the way, if you wanna get your hands on it, there’s a link right here. But yeah, tell us a little it about that, Selena.
Yeah, absolutely. So this is my publicity calendar. It’s over 40 pages worth of story ideas, special dates, and hooks to get into the media. So one of the keys to getting to the media is understanding what they’re looking for, and a lot of times people will be like, “Well, Selena, I’m not a mind reader. How do I know what the media is looking for?”
But every single month, there are certain kinds of story ideas and themes that they are most interested in. And so, if you can piggyback off of that, it’s gonna feel like your pitch is really tailored, that what you’re sharing is really relevant, and you’re more likely to get into the media.
So people love this publicity calendar, and they use it not only for mapping out their publicity for the year, but also for mapping out their social media or their newsletter and content calendar overall. So I definitely recommend that you go ahead and check this out. It’s 100% for free. It’s 40 pages worth of story ideas and prompts and hooks to get you into the media.
When you told me about this, I’m like, oh my gosh, not only is this like a Bible calendar to empower business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers on how to get publicity and the timing of it all because everyone knows, and I talk about the importance of relevancy in copywriting all the time, but it’s also like talk about this resource of if you’re a copywriter and you’re running a promotion in the next month and you’re like, what’s a good hook or angle or reason why for a campaign that I’m running? Or, I don’t know what to post on social media this month.
Oh, look, here’s the publicity calendar that tells you all of these notable dates, events, so that you can, yourself, for your own content as a content creator and freelancer can publish really relevant content for your own audiences, so, I mean, it’s like the benefits on both sides are massive.
So thank you so much for offering that to the community. And honestly, I feel like we could talk for hours about this, but I appreciate the value you shared so much, Selena, and even just those quick tips on how to kind of get outta your own way, be seen, be visible, so insanely valuable. Thank you so much for joining us today!
Thank you, Alex!
And to everyone reading, again, be sure to grab your copy of Selena’s publicity calendar!
Make sure to leave a comment below if you enjoyed this and wanna read more interviews like this!
And until next time, I’m Alex. Ciao for now.
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