Ethical Copywriting with Lauren Van Mullem

Stephanie Wasylyk
4 min readDec 18, 2023

If you run a business based on trust and relationships, this was made for you.

When I first became a coach, copywriting was a skill I invested a lot of time and money into. I followed the templates, used all the key phrases, and basically just did as I was told. There was one webinar I did about seven years ago where I even made a DIY countdown timer to put on the last page of my presentation.

Some of those habits are hard to break, even now. But I’ve been questioning if “the way we do business” is really the only way or the best way, and that includes what I learned about copywriting.

Thankfully people like Lauren Van Mullem exist, who validate the concerns and the icky feeling many of us get when we try to market that way. Not only does she run a business centered around ethical copywriting, but she’s doing her own testing and questioning our assumptions about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to effective writing.

In this video Lauren and I talk about what makes ethical copywriting different from mainstream copywriting, what to do to modify your copy but still have it be effective, and our thoughts on using Chat GPT. We also talk about Lauren’s upcoming Truer Copy Mastermind starting in January 2024 where she’ll take you through ethically writing all the pages you need on your website. (I am not an affiliate and do not make a commission, I just love Lauren’s work and think it’s changing the world in a positive way.)

Watch the full video here (47 mins) and see the takeaways below

What is ethical copywriting?

  • Ethical marketing and copywriting are aware of manipulation tactics, and intentionally avoids them to let the consumer make their own decisions in their own time
  • We have seen manipulative copy our whole lives, and as business owners we’re taught to use tactics like charm pricing (eg. $10.99 instead of $11), false urgency, and hiding the price
  • Transparent pricing is when you list your pricing on your website. This is more ethical than needing to get someone on the phone to convince them to buy what you have.
  • Traditional marketing tactics may work on a cold audience or product-based business, but I believe that these tactics damage businesses that rely on relationships and referrals to succeed, or people who rely on trust to make sales.
  • Give people enough information to confidently and happily choose you or contact you. Make sure they get to know your differentiators and who you are as a person. The goal is to find a good fit, so give them the information they need to decide if it will be a good fit.

How to make copy more ethical

  • Allow space to slow down the sale, so don’t use tactics that rush people into making a decision. Encourage them to think about their decision.
  • Bring all of yourself to your business and brand. You as a whole person are your best differentiator.
  • Use your About page to tell your story (not biography or resume). It is the story of how you became the practitioner/expert that you are and the way you do it. This will reveal your personality and values.
  • Experiment with putting your prices and details in unexpected places. For example, at the very top of the page instead of making someone scroll to the bottom. Lauren’s hypothesis is that by breaking the pattern of what people expect and giving them what they need to know at the start, they start paying attention and actually go on to read the rest of the page.

Why is copywriting so hard?

  • You’re too close to it. It’s much easier for someone else to see your differentiators than for you to see them.
  • A big part is curating which parts of yourself you should include, especially if you’re multipassionate.
  • If you get too attached to following a formula it’s hard to get it to sound natural or interesting.
  • It takes practice to be good at writing, and most of us aren’t in business because we want to be writers.
  • Figure out when your best writing time is and hold that time sacred. It’s much easier than trying to write when you don’t have the right energy to do it.

How do Chat GPT and AI fit into copywriting?

  • Right now, using Chat GPT for copy will give you a very salesy and impersonal result if you don’t refine it.
  • It’s great for coming up with titles and email subject lines. It’s also great for getting over the hurdle of a blank page.
  • Don’t let it write all your copy, and our take is that you shouldn’t use it to write your content.
  • The name of the game is differentiation, so make sure your copy reflects that

Links Mentioned:

Truer Copy Mastermind — www.truerwordsbylauren.com/mastermind

Join Lauren’s Craft’n’Copy hour to do some crafting and get your copy questions answered — details on Lauren’s home page here: https://www.truerwordsbylauren.com/

George Kao’s experiment with AI — Lauren and I couldn’t find the video we were thinking of, but we still recommend checking him out. https://www.georgekao.com/

Permission Slips — https://stephaniewasylyk.com/permission/

--

--