Entrepreleaders: Dan Ferrari
Dan Ferrari is a copywriter focusing on long-form web advertising. Dan does a majority of his copywriting work for the agency Dig.In, an agency he founded with a few friends. Working in long-form advertising gives Dan an opportunity to do research on products that can greatly affect people’s livelihood. At Dig.In. he writes content for financial services and health supplement companies. For each project Dan does intensive research to fully grasp the companies’ services. Dan also feels an important part of his job is to learn how to better empathize with the company’s target market. Dan tries to connect with the consumers on an emotional level. Being a copywriter that creates web content allows Dan the freedom to work wherever he wants. This freedom to work remotely in Hawaii is one of the main reason why Dan became a copywriter.
Tell me about yourself and your business
I write the copy for long-form advertisements. Long-form advertising is giving a lot of information to someone in one interaction in order to get them to make a purchase. It’s similar to a thirty minute television infomercial. At Dig.In, I focused on web content with this agency. We make a lot of facebook and instagram ads. We got our start working for a company called the Motley Fool, which publishes accessible financial advice for the everyday person. We also do a lot of work for organic health companies. Those things sound very different, but if you look at them a little bit deeper, what you find is that you have markets where people want to know as much as they can about their services; they are two things that could have a big impact on your life. People tend to do a lot of due diligence when they’re making purchasing decisions dealing with finances and health. That’s why long-form advertising is effective because it takes 30 minutes to 45 minutes to tell someone everything they need to know about the product. Human nature is the same across the board. People want to be well educated before making tough decisions.
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion?
I used to live in Washington, DC and I was working a very traditional career suit and tie job every single day. My uncle had just moved to Maui and I came to visit him. I stopped in Honolulu beforehand and I fell in love. After that visit all I could think about was to live in Hawaii. That started me on this journey of trying to figure out how to make a living in Hawaii. I happened to hear about a gentlemen named Tommy Schultz who left the corporate world and started to work for the Peace Corps. While in the Peace Corps he was sent to the Philippines, where he was taught underwater photography. His job was to take pictures of the reef. Tommy and I went to the same college, the University of Virginia. Tommy graduated years before me and I found out about him from researching various alumni. l randomly emailed him and told him that I was inspired by his lifestyle. He responded and we scheduled to grab lunch together. At lunch, he told me how he had used copywriting to build his own career. So, for me, it was a lifestyle choice. I could live anywhere I wanted and surf on my own time. He set me off on the path to copywriting.
“…for me, it was a lifestyle choice.
I could live anywhere I wanted and surf on my own time.”
What is your work flow for doing your work and how do you project manage?
I’m very fortunate that I started this agency with friends. They’re in charge of handling the clients. I get to just do the work. Most freelancers have to wear all the hats in a business whereas, I can just focus solely on the work. Normally, I work on multiple projects for one client at a time. The project flow’s pretty much set in place and then it’s up to me make sure that I meet my deadlines. A typical project takes me generally like eight weeks. During the first quarter, I just research. In those three weeks I’m saturating my brain with the product before I sit down to write. After that I make an outline and begin to write.
How to you make a connection with the consumers of the products you write about?
You have to understand what is driving people to be interested in whatever you’re talking about. You put yourself in their shoes because their concerns and desires are very different than mine. For example, when I wrote for Motley Fool, most projects were directed towards selling services for people concerned about retirement. I’m a 34 year old kid – what do I know about planning for retirement?! Half the time you see me back in the HotBox I’m not actually writing! I’m doing a deep dive and trying to figure out what makes people tick. Then, I put all my findings into a general framework about human nature. All of these products can tug the emotional strings, so you have to really understand what drives human concerns.
If you were copywriting for BoxJelly how would you capture BJ’s voice?
A part of the appeal of BoxJelly is the independent vibe. At a lot of other co-working spaces I’ve been to there are only offices and nobody talks to one another. Co-working may not even be sufficient to describe BoxJelly, it’s a community of entrepreneurs, independent workers, and creatives. I tend to think of it as a creative space as opposed to an office space.
Describe your experience working out of BoxJelly
It’s nice to have somewhere to go work where everyone knows each other and there is no weird co-worker hierarchy. It’s just a bunch of people that I have a lot in common with. It’s liberating to be able to work among them.
Have you ever doubted the work you do?
No matter how successful you are in this business, you always sort of feel like maybe you’re a little bit of an impostor or maybe you just got lucky. The honest answer is that doubt is always there and I made peace with it. I just think that failures are as much part of this job as is breathing. It’s a part of life.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into freelance work or copywriting?
My whole philosophy on being a freelancer is to just get incredibly good at what you do. Dedicate yourself to your service and dive deep into it. I’ve been doing this for years but I’m constantly studying to improve my skills. First thing I did when I came in today was read for 30 minutes about copywriting. Lastly, meet people who are in the same industry as you. Every industry is a part of a network and it’s all connected.