Sarah Sambles has an incredible resume. She started her career as a marketing consultant back in 1999, advising global technology companies on their marketing and PR strategy. After having kids, she went freelance, working with clients from industries as varied as non-profit, services, education, construction, real estate, retail, and senior living. She offered strategic marketing, PR, branding, copywriting, website direction and content creation.
Then, in 2012, while still freelancing, she started writing my first children’s fiction book. As she embarked on this fiction-writing journey, she quickly became aware of my need for a community. She met so many other authors who loved the writing but hated the marketing. This was her light bulb moment and what launched her career as both a writer and author partner.
What is your book craft? I help writers (and coaches) get clear on their brand story so their audience pays attention. I offer coaching (private, group, workshops, online & in-person), copywriting and editing services. I help clients create a strong brand, write great websites, create engaging emails, write excellent blog posts, and launch their books and services to the right audience.
How did you get started offering these professional services? I started out as a marketing consultant in 1999 and got my marketing qualifications while advising global technology companies. When I started writing my first middle grade manuscript in 2012, the corporate world started losing its pull, but it helped pay the bills. I wanted to play in the fiction writing playground so when a friend put me in touch with a local YA writer, I jumped at the opportunity to meet for coffee. Afterwards I couldn’t get to sleep, and it wasn’t because of the caffeine. It was because a possibility was buzzing. In sharing our experiences, I realized this writer had the same struggles as all the other writers I was meeting. She loved the writing, but she hated the marketing. She’d invested in her craft, put in the hours and nearly completed her manuscript, but she was dreading the moment when she had to start putting it out there. As we chatted, I had a light bulb moment. I had helped big corporations figure out how to get their products, messages and services in front of potential customers. I’d studied marketing. I’d gained a qualification in public speaking. I’d spent time teaching.
What if I could bring together all the things I loved – writing, communications, coaching – and help writers gain the confidence and skills to talk about their work effectively and authentically? So, bit by bit I started blogging, running workshops, and coaching writers.
What fulfills you most about working with your clients? Seeing clients grow in confidence and clarity. Watching them when they have an ‘aha’ moment and realize how they want to present themselves or how they can reach their audience. Seeing clients gain fresh motivation to get their work out there, and realize they have the freedom to market themselves in a way that makes sense for them. Reading an author’s new website, bio or jacket copy and noticing how clear it is.
What is the ROI that your clients can look forward to by working with you? Copy that is clear and helps you sell your books and services. Clarity, confidence, focus, motivation, and a plan for how to reach your audience. After taking one client through my brand story and copywriting framework, she launched her website and it now gets her inquiries on a weekly basis. Another client started blogging again and sending weekly newsletters. Now his name – and words – are getting in front of his readers every week. Another client is finishing his first manuscript and preparing to publish it this year.
What makes you, and your services, unique? Authenticity. My advice and questions get under the surface. I walk clients through how to understand their readers, how to dig into what motivates them as a writer, and what words to use to build a bridge between them and their reader. The work we do ends up going much deeper than their copy. It helps clients frame who they are as business owners, authors, coaches. One client told me the other day that my coaching was proving more valuable than some of the therapy she’d had. I didn’t intend it to be like that, but I’ve realized that when you’re the CEO of your own writing or coaching career, it’s about so much more than what you sell. You can’t divorce yourself from the ideas you’re putting out there, so our approach to marketing has to be holistic.
Who is your ideal client? Writers or coaches who are serious about taking the time to connect with their audience, who are willing to put in the work and the hours to understand their audience and understand who they are as a brand.
What is one of your most memorable client engagements? There are so many, but I remember one early on. I’ve been a marketing consultant for over 20 years, but I only started targeting writers a few years ago. Early in that process an editor I highly respected – with a large following and platform – emailed me to say she liked my website, and could I help her put together a media kit for a book proposal she was writing. I was over the moon. I couldn’t believe someone so established and experienced was reaching out to me when I was just starting off my new business. I was so flattered by her kind words about my website. It gave me a shot in the arm. I really enjoyed working on that project and she was really happy with the work I produced for her.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I’m naturally disciplined, and the worst thing would be letting someone down so that pushes me to achieve my goals, but it can lead to burn out! I’m a strategic thinker and I get impatient with administrative work; I tend to have a lot of creative ideas and want to work on the big things rather than systems and processes. So, I’ve learned to break big projects down into very small, manageable (like 15 minutes!) steps and only choose a few things to do a day. The other thing I’ve learned to do is block my time into different types of work. There are blocks for my own creative writing, client work, business development and admin, though the admin is the first to get sacrificed!
How do you help your clients do the same? Since I’m an idea person, I noticed that often I would leave a client coaching session having downloaded a ton of ideas. Clients always tell me my sessions are incredibly helpful, but I know how overwhelming it is to have a to-do list as long as your arm. So, I’ve broken the key components of my brand story and copywriting framework into bite-size pieces. Now I’ll just give a client one piece at a time, with clear actions for them for our next meeting. I always start a coaching call asking where they’re at and how they found the previous activity. And I always end the meeting by asking if they found the session helpful. Then we’ll set a deadline together. They’ll email me with questions and when I pick up on any hesitation, I’ll empathize with them and encourage them on how to keep going.
How can people get started working with you? I run group coaching programs which is a great way for people to access coaching at an affordable price. If you’re interested in private coaching, I offer a free 30-minute call to understand your needs and see if we’re a good fit. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website for more information.
What else would you like people to know about you? I have a British accent. Apparently, people like that.:)
Learn more about working with Sarah at her website.
Image Courtesy of Sarah Sambles