Founder of CJCopySmith Agency — Catherine Smith

Founder of CJCopySmith Agency — Catherine Smith

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This week’s spotlight is on Catherine Smith, a Non-Clinical 101 graduate, copywriter, and the Founder of CJCopySmith Agency!

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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?

Catherine Smith — Founder of CJCopySmith Agency, LLC

Where are you located?

I live in the Tampa Bay, FL area.

Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?

McGill University, 1981.

What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

I worked at a large teaching hospital for a year before immigrating to the USA.

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In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?

I’ve worked in hospital settings, outpatient clinics, and home health.

What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?

I really enjoyed working in a large teaching hospital with specialized departments and with physical therapists who specialized in each area leading the department. We had weekly lunch and learns, and I learned a lot there.

I did not enjoy working for the first privately owned company I worked for in Florida. Physical therapists were only used to evaluate and discharge patients and weren’t utilized at all for treating patients.

What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?

I worked as a physical therapist for 41 years, so I’ve done a lot of things!

I was a physical therapy supervisor in a large hospital and, as such, helped develop a hospital-based wellness program and managed the fitness staff. I also worked for outpatient clinics and home health agencies.

About eight years into my career, I went to work for myself providing contract physical therapy services to home health agencies and outpatient clinics. I also became a certified wellness coach and taught wellness programs to the public through my sub S corporation.

When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?

When I began to think about retirement, I realized I didn’t want to retire and just do “nothing,” but I was ready to transition from doing patient care.

I have always passionately believed in the power of healthy living habits to prevent and reverse disease. I wanted to still be involved in that world. 

At one point, I’d had an online health and fitness magazine for women over 50 and liked writing for it. So, I began to take copywriting courses my last two years of practicing to prepare to launch an encore career as a copywriter.

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What are you doing these days?

I provide freelance services as an email strategist and launch copywriter for lifestyle medicine brands.

Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?

I’m solely non-clinical.

How long have you been in your current role?

One year and 11 months.

Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?

Yes, I got a content marketer certification from Jon Morrow/Smart Blogger.

How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?

I started my own LLC. I found my initial clients through personal connections, then through LinkedIn and referrals.

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

Since I practiced for 41 years, no one was too surprised I left. They were more surprised I didn’t want to retire altogether! Most had no idea what a copywriter was.

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?

I spend anywhere from two to three hours per day writing for clients. The rest of my time is spent writing my own copy and having discovery calls, networking calls, and client calls.

I have one day a week I set aside for CEO work, where I work on my business instead of in it.

What are some of the rewards of your role as a copywriter? What are the biggest challenges?

The biggest reward is helping really high-quality health coaches and lifestyle medicine clinicians increase their sales and impact. I feel like I’m playing a part in bringing lifestyle medicine to the world.

The biggest challenge is balancing writing with ongoing client acquisition activities and staying abreast of the ever-changing online world.

How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?

My clinical background made it much easier for me to understand both my clients and their clients.

My whole focus is putting human-to-human interaction back into email and launch marketing. My years as a physical therapist perfectly prepared me to communicate in that manner.

Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?

I set my own hours, and I decide the amount of work I take on at any given time. My work hours fit around my life hours—not the other way around. I carve out time for my own health and well-being first, and I’m able to do that at times of day that feel right for my body, which is wonderful.

I earned a very good income as a physical therapist with decades of experience. I haven’t yet reached that income with my copywriting agency, but I didn’t expect to within the first two years. That said, I’m really happy with the income I have created thus far.

What type of person do you think would do well in your role?

Someone who would do well in my role:

  • Is very self disciplined.
  • Loves to write.
  • Is not afraid to put themselves out there and try new things.
  • Is willing to be patient—growing a business takes time and consistency.

Do you work remotely or onsite?

I work remotely.

Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

Yes!!! I took:

  • Jon Morrow’s content marketing certification course
  • Sarah Turner’s Write Your Way To Freedom course
  • A number of Michelle Guillemard’s (health writer hub) copywriting courses
  • Dani Paige’s Sales Page Prep School & Launch Copy Lounge, specifically for email marketing and sales pages
  • The Non-Clinical PT’s Non-Clinical 101 course

I also belong to an ongoing copywriting mentorship program with Jacob McMillen.

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What is a typical career path for someone in your role?

It depends on if you want to work for yourself or for someone else.

I recommend investing in some good copywriting courses and having a mentor or being part of a mentorship group, especially if you work for yourself.

There’s a lot to learn and, because it’s all online, it can be lonely if you don’t create space to get to know others in your field. Some people work for agencies to speed up their learning curve and generate income. I chose not to take that route.

What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?

I’m now developing some new “audit” offers and done-with-you copy coaching. I have plans for some digital products next year as well.

What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?

Take time to learn good copywriting techniques. Get mentorship. Be consistent, and be patient.

What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?

I’d like to see unethical marketing done away with.

What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?

Give yourself a year or two to explore various aspects of physical therapy to see what you like best. Sooner rather than later, come up with a long-term game plan for your career.

What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?

Physical therapy has a huge roll to play in preventing as well as treating diseases and injuries.

Never compromise what you believe in to fit yourself into a broken system.

Work to fix the system or to create your own path.

Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps as a copywriter?

Talk to copywriters who’ve succeeded and to those who failed, so you have a realistic picture of what it takes and whether or not it’s for you.

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