Kelsey Formost is a top Copywriting & Marketing Expert, Podcast Host, and Mental Health Advocate. Kelsey left her career as a successful Hollywood actress, starring in an Award-Winning Netflix Show, to pursue her purpose in copywriting.
Kelsey started her business, Magic Words Copywriting, in 2018 after 10+ years in Hollywood. She was seen in shows like Modern Family and New Girl, a Zac Efron movie, We Are Your Friends, and even starred in a Netflix series, Zac & Mia, for Season 2. However, after the filming stopped, Kelsey fell into a deep depression that made her question everything. It wasn’t until she asked herself what it was about acting that really excited her, that she truly found her gift. — After a lot of soul searching and listening to TED talks, Kelsey discovered that what she really loved, was helping people tell their stories and find their voice through words. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even about ‘acting,’ but about the empathy for each character, the permission to express their authenticity and personality, that truly motivated her career! From Off-Broadway to films and TV, these were steppingstones to help her find her passion, which was writing.
In Magic Words Copywriting, Kelsey helps entrepreneurs find their voice and write words that sell without sounding “sales-y” or feeling gross. She implements a little self-development and easy-to-understand teachings that take struggling businesses to six figures and beyond; even though her real mission is to help people feel deeply seen, heard, and empowered every time they talk about themselves or their business. She also has her own podcast, Find Your Magic, where she interviews successful entrepreneurs to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of what it takes to actually follow your passion.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Kelsey to discuss her business, and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
Honestly, I started my business because of a bad breakup. Well, not just because of the breakup; I’d also gotten laid off from my fancy staff writer job when the media company I worked for went under, and it all happened the same week I signed a lease for my first “big girl” apartment.
In the span of a few days, I was newly broke, newly single, and totally financially responsible for every bill for the first time in my life. Looking back, I can clearly see that I had to lose everything in order to have the space to create something entirely new.
That was New Year’s Eve 2017. On January 1, 2018 I started Magic Words Copywriting.
Before I went into copywriting, I’d been a successful professional actress for over ten years. I was in Off-Broadway shows in New York and had roles on hit TV shows like ‘New Girl’ and ‘Modern Family’. But after a while, acting wasn’t lighting me up in the same way it used to. I had to shed my identity as an actress in order to embrace what I really loved: helping people feel deeply seen and heard by teaching them to tell their stories in a way that inspires action and connection.
I wrote high-converting copy for hundreds of entrepreneurs and was so fulfilled seeing how empowered they felt! In 2020, I expanded my business by launching my signature course, ‘ Copy Class’. There are now over 9,000 students in my digital courses.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
My approach to business growth is two-pronged: on the one hand, I have an organic sales funnel that runs in the background using high-value freebies and email marketing; on the other I regularly seek out opportunities to add aligned audience members to that funnel. Those opportunities look like guesting on podcasts, press, speaking engagements, and teaching.
Once people meet me, see me, or hear me, they can make a choice to download my free content or subscribe to my email list. Once they do so, they’re in the funnel and can again choose how I can best help them succeed! The reason I prefer this is those who are on my email list are highly engaged – ahem! I boast an open rate between 30-40% every single time (that’s double the industry average).
I hammer this home to all my students: Sales happen in the inbox!! Your growth strategies should always be focused on building and serving an email list.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
I consider podcasts social media- they’re my favorite way to reach new people because podcasts give hosts the opportunity to really show who they are and connect with listeners in a way that feels like authentic friendship. It also allows guests to take deeper dives and deliver value in a format that you just can’t get with a short social post.
I also love interacting with people on Instagram! I know TikTok is the hip new platform, but I really enjoy being able to see someone’s historical feed and full profile that they’ve built. At its best, I think Instagram is like a really great movie trailer that helps people understand what kind of long-form content you have to offer if they choose to interact with you over time.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I’ve chosen to keep my marketing funnels like boojie millennials like their produce…organic.
That doesn’t mean my business won’t benefit from paid media at some point, but I’ve found lots of success with authentic and aligned lead generation; namely through mutually-beneficial relationships with other entrepreneurs where we share our relevant skills with each other’s audiences via social, events, or email.
I’ll also mention that building an affiliate program was a wonderful decision for me. It helps the entrepreneurs who want to share my freebies, courses, and products feel valued, and I love being able to compensate them.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
Easy: I pay attention to my copy! All the funnels and marketing channels in the world won’t make one iota of difference on your bottom line if you don’t first pay attention to your copy. It’s a fine line between demonstrating value and being “sales-y”. Maintaining a consistent brand voice, making sure I’m up to date on what my customer actually needs, and finding a way to help them feel empowered when they write is the driving force behind my success- no matter what channel I’m reaching people through.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision, but also the best decision I’ve made in the last few months has been hiring help.
Giving up control of tasks is essential to success if you truly want to scale. The kicker is that many entrepreneurs feel very protective of their business and brand (I sure do!), and it can hold us back from getting the help we need to grow.
One piece of advice that really helped me came from a Virtual Assistant I had as a guest on my podcast, “Find Your Magic”. She reminded me that it’s always best to start with the tasks you yourself hate doing. Seek out someone who loves that task! For example, if you hate social media, hire a social media manager. Hate email marketing? Find an amazing automated platform, so you don’t have to think about it.
Invest in people and tools that alleviate the tasks you hate so you can focus on being creative and building your business.
What are your favorite copywriting tricks that can easily convert to sales fast?
Nail down your value proposition and put it above the fold on your home page and your social media profiles so it’s the very first thing people see when they land on your page.
A few years ago, research showed that we had 3 seconds to capture someone’s attention. That number has gone down to less than one second. This means you have to immediately show people why you’re valuable and why they should stick around to keep reading.
By the way, if you didn’t already know, the “official” definition of a value proposition is “the #1 thing you do or sell, that your audience actively wants, that your competition doesn’t offer.”
Nail that down, link it to your call to action, and you’ll see a huge difference in sales.
Why does developing a unique brand voice help you find your ideal clients?
Developing a unique brand voice is essential in helping you attract ideal clients. A key thing to remember is that every single person only has one question in their mind when they read the copy, and that question is: “what’s in it for me?” If your copy is generic, they won’t be moved to read on, let alone engage with your brand.
Human beings make decisions based on emotion- on how someone or something makes them feel. Your brand voice is the key to communicating the feeling behind your products or services.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
Niche. Down. Sooner.
When I first started out as a freelance copywriter, I was afraid to say no to any projects that crossed my desk. New copy for a financial services firm? Sure! Emails for a closed captioning translation service? You betcha! Social media captions for a plush toy manufacturer? Sign me up!
All that ended up doing was burning me out and alienating the people I actually wanted to work with: purpose-driven service providers who needed help communicating their gifts to their ideal clients.
As soon as I niched down and embraced my brand voice (ahem- writing like I talk!), my business exploded. I was able to triple my rates, and, more importantly, I felt much more fulfilled in my work.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Small changes make a big difference.
Often, entrepreneurs can get overwhelmed by all the various hats they have to wear and the skills they have to learn to build their business. From building a website to growing on social media, to email marketing, to PR…there are so many different things happening at any given time it feels like it will never be done.
That’s why focusing on one small task is so helpful; yes, it’s great to dream big, but in order to make that dream a reality we need to take small actions to get there.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Ummm…learn to write your own copy! Anywhere you have words that represent you, your brand, or your business is a copy. Copywriting is writing that’s designed to make readers take a desired action, like: subscribe, buy, follow, like, read more, enroll, listen, etc.
Copywriting touches everything in your business; from the words on your website to your social media captions to any courses you create, to press pieces, to emails…the list is endless. Plus, hiring a professional copywriter can be expensive. Learning key copywriting tricks early on can save you time, money, and resources.
In the infamous words of the genius Nike ad: Just do it.