Listen above or subscribe on Apple Podcast + Spotify

Do you know what makes you Referral Worthy? According to this episode’s guest, it is YOU! Join Dusti as she speaks with Jacqueline Paumier, the founder of Self Writeous, a company where she “makes copy writing sexy again”.

After writing for brands such as Nike, Starbucks, BMW, just to name a few – in 2020, Jacqueline decided it was time for her to create her own brand to assist in helping write “copy for the disruptive”.

Referral Worthy is hosted by Dusti Arab, Fractional CMO and marketing strategist. She's the founder of the reinvention co, a marketing consultancy for personality-driven companies with big online presences and small teams. Learn more at

Love this week's episode of Referral Worthy? Leave a review + subscribe!

Referral Worthy intro, outro and transition music is named We are invincible by Tim Hirst and was found on Epidemic Sounds.

“There’s so many people watching… that know your energy and are carrying that with them into all these different rooms that they’re going into. You never know what seeds you’re unintentionally watering.”

– Jacqueline Paumier, on how referrals can happen

Dusti Arab: Right, this week’s episode we are talking with Jacqueline Paumier, the founder of Self Writeous and copywriter to a few brands you may have heard of – Nike, BMW, Starbucks, American Express, Fenty, just some little tiny companies no big deal. She started Self Writeous in 2020 when so many of the rest of us also started some businesses. Jacq, welcome to the show, my friend. I would love I would love love love to hear about what it was like starting Self Writeous. What was that process like for you?

Jacqueline Paumier: Thanks. And thank you for having me. So coming from an ad agency background, I think it was you know, when when you’re in originally working in an agency, and then agencies are like super intensive, you’re moving from campaign to campaign. You’re not even really conscious of the fact that you have a process or that you’re doing anything really special, anything different. You just get the campaign out. Okay, it was successful, kicked ass, great. On to the next one. And I think I love that work and love the diversity of it and the kind of clients I got to work with, but didn’t have that personal connection to the client didn’t really get to dive in the way that I wanted to with these clients to understand them, to pick their brain. It was kind of like, you have your senior strategist like “here’s your creative brief” and then you get to work. And so now, with Self Writeous, being able to support I mean, it’s mostly coaches, healers, service providers with people that have like these big I want to really mess it up in my industry vibes and seeing their heart into it and seeing their fire and then getting to go and pair a voice to it, that’s just I think that’s that’s been the biggest shift the biggest wow for me in owning the business as a whole versus just, you know, working in part of an agency.

Dusti: Totally. How long were you in agencies prior to starting Self Writeous?

Jacqueline: Jesus

Dusti: I felt that in my soul.

Jacqueline: Right. And that’s not, my agency work is incredible. It’s just it’s just the pace. It’s a lifestyle. I think they say people that work in marketing agencies have like the shortest life expectancy than any industry in the US right now.

Dusti: They definitely have the least amount of free time, like 100%.

Jacqueline: The stress and the pitches and it’s so highly competitive. I want to say that I was in agencies for almost a decade or at least that’s what it felt like prior to Self Writeous.

Dusti: Okay, so you had really been at the grind for a long time before you were like, Okay, that’s enough.

Jacqueline: Yeah, well, I was also like weirdly obsessed with marketing and things. Like I was on the bus in high school reading books by David Ogilvy, like just for fun like like things that should have been a red flag at some point and still not having any idea that that was the direction I was gonna go into, just loved the idea of tapping into emotion, making people feel things, the voguing you know real want and longing for things was was cool. And then you kind of find the manipulative side of it later on. And you’re like, Okay, maybe I don’t like that part as much

Dusti: Like the Devil’s handbook.

Jacqueline: Yeah, exactly. It’s like this is amazing, and if it’s used in the right way, and I think with the right intentions, it can be something incredible.

Dusti: Absolutely. Yeah. Marketing can be used for good and for evil. Like we’ve seen enough, like really successful nonprofit campaigns and things like that, to see it used in ways that, you know, doesn’t make us feel gross, but you know, and you reading things like oh, they’ll be that early. Like I feel like it’s relevant here to mention like your dad was in ad agencies, right?

Jacqueline: Yeah, he was on more on the research and strategy side. And funnily enough, like he was someone that I always heard complaining about creatives and copywriters and designers and you know, he put that until like, lasso all the creative minds. And of course, naturally, I became that but also pushed away from it for a while exactly because of that. I had people like, Oh, you’re great at writing. You should be a writer. And you know, you’re like, Oh, let me find something on the other side of the pendulum for a little bit and pursue that before eventually coming over because you’re making it too easy for me. I have to, you know, rebel.

Dusti: For real. Well, and in your dad’s defense, I don’t envy anyone who has to wrangle creatives. I do a lot of that myself now and some days like, oof.

Jacqueline: We’re not the easiest. We’re not.

Dusti: That we are not. Ah, okay. So when you think about Self Writeous and what you’ve built, I mean, like, it is incredible to me that you only started this company in 2020. And I think we met like mid 2020. Something like that, like not long after you’d started. I legitimately had no idea how new you were to business because you were already such a pro.

Jacqueline: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Dusti: So when you think about the people who you were working with back when you first started versus the people who you’re working with now, how has your customer avatar evolved?

Jacqueline: Wow, that’s a good question. I think in the beginning, I had a lot of people that just wanted to figure copy out. Right. And I think it doesn’t have as much. I think a lot of it also is a reflection of the conversations that were happening in the industry as a whole. I think when Self Writeous was first coming out there was a lot of like funnel talk happening. There was a lot of you know, pain point marketing, bro marketing was kind of like hitting its peak. And there was this idea that there’s like this perfectly crafted equation of messaging and copy and if you just figure it out. And I’m not saying you know, to a degree it’s true, there is a way of doing things right that come together. And so I think and I was so against that, and at the same time I had a lot of clients coming in like “so what’s the secret ingredient?” and I’m like “you.” You want to get into it like you want to break that open, let’s go.

Dusti: Oh and it’s so much scarier.

Jacqueline: It is. It is. And it’s, it’s the same way that we’re like, you know, we when we go on social media and everything now and we’re like, oh, use a trending audio. Like Well, someone had to make the trending audio for it to become trending in the first place. So you know, you can jump onto a fad or you can be the fad, like what would you rather do? And what’s better for your brand long term, right? It’s, you could, something can peak really quickly, but you’re gonna be back to square one. So I think that’s where it kind of started now. I find I have a lot more clients that have been in business for quite a while and probably started off their business like okay, I’m gonna get it. Right. They started off as the way that my former Avatar was right, like, I’m gonna find the combination. I’m gonna find the equation, my perfect angle. And over the years, they became typecasted. Basically, they ended up having to spend right like five to eight years now playing this role in order to continue connecting with their audience in the way that it was and that role was, it maybe wasn’t necessarily based on them or wasn’t based on all of them. Or it wasn’t designed in a way they could grow with them as they personally evolved. And so now, yes, they still want to make a bunch of money, but it’s also about I want to make money and I want to be me. I want to show up. I don’t want to have to step into this role. Every time I show up, I want to be authentic and come in and do what I do in a fantastic way and not have to worry about the rest of it. So yeah, there’s there’s definitely been quite a leap.

Dusti: Do you feel like you’ve experienced that in your business as well, that leap?

Jacqueline: 100 percent. You and I have, I mean, we’ve had conversations about this too, before in the past. I think at some point, all business owners realize that our business is us, right? It’s not just something we do. It’s an extension of who we are. And a lot of times you might hear about it as people falling out of the honeymoon phase with their business, or things like that the spark is gone. Like no the spark is not gone. You just evolved, you changed and it’s like if I go in, try to fit my five year old daughter the pants she wore when she was five months old, like it doesn’t fit. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the pants. It’s just you grew and that you need something that’s going to go with you. So I’ve definitely had that. I think in the beginning there was more fight in me of like, No, we’re gonna write the kind of look at it now. It’s like the rebellious teenager state of like, No, we’re gonna show up authentically Goddamnit like we’re gonna fight the marketing system. And now I think it’s more of a grown, it’s more of an ownership. It’s more of like, okay, we’re all adults here. We are all bringing some magical shit to the table. Let’s organize this in the way that we can make the biggest impact possible for the people that we’re trying to serve.

Dusti: Absolutely. And I think that the way that you’ve grown as a leader in the space in a lot of ways is really reflective of that too. Like, something else that you and I have talked about is that when it comes to our particular little pocket of the internet, you’re really like the only black copywriter. Like I mean, I am sure others exist out there. But for powerful women who want to have their copy written by a black woman, the options are pretty limited.

Jacqueline: I mean, I think it’s…A) that’s sad, right?

Dusti: It is. It is absolutely sad.

Jacqueline: It is and also I think there’s, diversity in copy is so important because I think even if you sit down and you know, you can have hours and hours of calls with somebody, I think culturally there’s just nuances. There’s memories, there’s, you know, little cultural references, there’s ways that we ebb in and out of, you know, how we represent ourselves as black women. So that that’s really difficult, I think, to teach or fill someone in on, right?

Dusti: Wait, you can’t use chat GPT? It doesn’t speak black woman Jacq?

Jacqueline: And Chat GPT will tell you that it’s offensive and then it doesn’t feel comfortable. Dude even a robot is like, nah, this isn’t my lane like, I think I should stay out of this. My props to you, chat GPT. And I mean, that’s kind of how I mean if we think about it, right? Even if we’re looking at things like AI where, you know, it’s based on the majority of what’s out there. It’s just rolling through what’s on the internet pulling it together. Sure, we can tweak it and change it and everything like that, but because until recently, there’s just been such a lack of representation in the internet as a whole, it makes it really difficult to be able to go and tap into that. So hopefully over time, you know, we can develop that further. Obviously, there’s more black women writers and you know, photographers and directors and people out there that can diversify and shake it up a little bit?

Dusti: Absolutely. I mean, I feel like the industry is ripe for disruption right now and increasing opportunities for folks is, I think one of the best ways we can do it for sure.

Jacqueline: Absolutely.

Dusti: Okay, so now you’re stepping into your fourth year of business. What do you wish you knew back then, if you could go back and tell baby business owner Jacq anything? What would it be?

Jacqueline: Another great question. Pace yourself, pace yourself. I think a lot of times when we’re starting business first, there’s always like that next goal line right? So the first goal line is usually like I want to be able to support myself and support my family with what I’m making, cool. And then you get that checkmark and then people’s next goal line is usually like I want to hit six figures or whatever right? And then we have that next message. I want to hit seven figures on the next message. I know I need a passive income product. I need this. I need that. I need to have everything up and running. And a lot of times we’re comparing ourselves out there to businesses that have been out for like 15 years, and you go on and they have everything in their flow working perfectly and beautifully and they have a piece of content for like everything you can imagine. And we expect to come out of the gate like that on day one. And that’s, that’s not it at all. I mean, even if there’s, even when I sat down and poured so much time and energy into making those things because of like what we said, As you evolve, so does your business. So many of those things aren’t even in use now or weren’t in use a year later, just from the way things change. And so I would tell myself, pace yourself. It’s going to be very much a process of you put a little out, you get feedback. You go back into the lab, you move things around a little bit, put it back out.

Dusti: I love that like, really focusing on like letting it be okay to experiment that’s so important, especially that first two years of business, I feel like.

Jacqueline: and if you’re not going to A) if you just wait until you’re entirely ready, you have everything figured out and everything perfect, nothing’s ever going out into the world. It’s just not. And B) even if you’re like I’ve got it. You’re going to get some feedback from your audience from your clients, whether it’s like on the front end or on the onboarding process, or whatever it is that you’re like oh, I didn’t realize I needed this or oh this is going to need to be part of it. And I remind myself there is no real copy emergency. Right? Like I am not doing open heart surgery here. I do not have a pager and I need to run to the hospital any minute. Like what I do is very much a process and you know, to really do it to the degree that my clients deserve for it to be done, it has to feel like a journey. So yeah.

Dusti: Yeah, absolutely. And I want to reiterate that for any baby business owners out there. There is no copywriting emergency just like there is no marketing emergency ever. Like things happen during the launch and things need fixed. Absolutely. But nine times out of 10 it’s just somebody with their panties in a bunch everybody can calm their tits.

Jacqueline: I’ve had clients that have launched I mean, I think we’ve worked together with with people who have been like, I’m gonna launch this program with a Google Doc and see what happens and it sells out and you’re like, Damn right, you know? Like, if it’s feeling very rushed. It’s probably not something that should be going out anyway. And if it’s feeling like you’re have your hands on it too much, it’s, you know, you probably need to scale back and simplify it a little bit.

Dusti: I love that. So let’s talk about where your clients actually come from for a second. So, where right now, where do you get your clients from?

Jacqueline: Now, I’d say I probably about 90% referral.

Dusti: Very cool, very cool. You’re a perfect fit for referral worthy then. So but if you had to go back and start from scratch today, how would you find those first 10 people?

Jacqueline: I believe had to host a lot of events, a lot of calls, a lot of webinars just to invite people in for value. Because I think what I realized drew in the majority of my clients the first time was my, you know, everybody kind of comes in with a preconceived notion of what copy and marketing is. And being able to speak in front of people and kind of change the way they’re thinking and challenge the experience that they’re having when it comes to copy and copywriters has been such a big part of growing my business as a whole. So I think that’s what I would lead in with day one. I think I’d probably host some webinars, host some events, or we partner up with some programs and you know, see if I could host some different calls in their spaces just to get people to start asking themselves the right question about their content.

Dusti: So smart, so smart. Okay, so for you as a professional copywriter. How can copywriting make a small business a referral magnet?

Jacqueline: So I mean, I think the perfect example of this is I recently got a new client who wasn’t actually on my list, but was referred to me by someone who was on my list who had never worked with me. So like just the degrees of that in my brain was like the referral wasn’t even like, oh, I worked with this person and it was an amazing experience. It was a cold lead that then went on and referred to somebody else and I think that if the messaging is consistent, and if the messaging again, is making people think, making people question, making people wonder if you’re speaking more to the experience that you want to create, which I think is why this person referred it to their friend they were like this sounds like what you’re looking for in a person, right? You’re not just looking for someone, right? So to say, Hey, I’m looking for a copywriter. There’s a million copywriters out there, right? There’s so many of us, but the experience you have with that copywriter, the amount of hand holding you want to have to do or not have to do. The degree that you want someone to be able to get you, understand the message or kind of those things I think is what is mostly can be communicated and copied to the degree where it feels like someone’s having the experience and they can refer you even if they haven’t actually worked with you.

Dusti: And I will absolutely reflect that experience back. Like my largest client right now, I had a very similar experience. Like I was referred to them by somebody who I’ve never worked with and she wasn’t even on my list to be honest. She had actually, we had met in a Facebook group back in like 2017. And I’d never had a conversation with her personally. But she had followed me on Facebook all that time. And so when somebody needed a marketing strategist she threw my name in and when I asked her about it afterwards, I was like, Hey, thank you, first of all, but like, what made you refer me? She was like, I just I caught a vibe. I thought you guys would vibe. And that’s really what a lot of that comes down to. It’s like, oh, that’s exactly what you’re looking for. And like God love the connectors for connecting us to those people.

Jacqueline: Oh, yeah. And I think I mean, it really just kind of goes to show I mean, and I would love to go back and see like how much of your content and how much of your stuff the person that referred you actually engaged with right? Because a lot of times we’re looking at, do people like, do people comment, do they click, did they open, right? As a range of whether or not we’re really getting our message out there but there’s so many like silent followers. There’s so many people watching, so many people that know your energy and are carrying that with them into all these different rooms that they’re going into. So absolutely it’s you know, you never know what seeds you’re unintentionally watering.

Dusti: Fabulous. All right, Jacq, last question. What makes a business referral worthy to you?

Jacqueline: Soul to me is huge. And I don’t mean soul in the way of like someone that is giving way way more than you know, I believe in giving value and I believe that people have to be excessive in the amount of value they give to be referral worthy. I think people that give the energy that they are invested in your mission and what you’re trying to create, that treat you in a way that you’re not just another customer, another dollar sign, another you know, mark to get to their revenue goal. People that really show up and listen and come in with an open heart and are like yep, amen, I’m wearing your jersey, I’m here to represent you. Those are the people that I would refer to, to everybody, the people that are insanely passionate about their work and to a degree where it probably annoys the crap out of them and maybe some of the people around them. Those are the people that I would refer to. And I think it’s funny most of the people that I refer to I don’t even do refer and even they they have like the most polished online you know, representation you’re not going to go and see like everything ultra super branded, and a lot of that sometimes is because they’re busy doing what they’re doing, you know what I mean? They’re so invested, and they’re so in love with what they do. That’s where their energy is going rather than trying to appear to be something else right. So those yeah, those are the things that I definitely look for or whatever. This is the person

Dusti: Gorgeous. Everybody, this has been Jacqueline Paumier from Self Writeous. You’re not going to get the spelling right the first time. So take a look at the show notes if you want to connect with her. I highly, highly recommend getting on her email list. It’s always incredibly useful, in addition to being hilarious and usually being where I steal my best gifs from. So, Jacqueline, thank you again. It has been a pleasure having you.

Jacqueline: You too. Thank you for having me.

Filed Under: