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Lessons from a copywriter part 3

If you haven’t already, check out part 1 and 2.

Lesson 11 - Do not be afraid to ask dumb questions.

If you don’t understand, ask. If you assume, ask. If you’re “certain”, ask. I live by the notion of it’s fine to assume but make sure you confirm. That has saved me a lot of time, money and stress.

Miscommunication can be costly for all involved, wasting money is bad, wasting time is even worse as you can never get it back.

Lesson 12 - Your client is part of your target audience.

We’re often so wrapped up in achieving the objectives set out in the brief, that we sometimes forget about which words to use when communicating with the client.

You will have to explain and defend your work to your clients, if you don’t have a good working relationship with them it can be a painful process.

With some of my clients, I have to be extremely assertive, borderline confrontational, otherwise I’ll just end up doing dictation. They actually appreciate someone standing their ground and showing them something they don’t always understand. With others I’d take a more nuanced approach, painting a picture of the benefits of my thinking with subtlety and finesse. The key here is knowing which approach to use on who, and when and for what.

Sometimes it’s best to listen and not push back at all.

Lesson 13- Always be looking for new clients.

I learned this one the hard way. Recently one of my clients changed their business model unexpectedly, due to the workload I had fully committed to them, ensuring they had the best of me, so my acquisition muscles began to atrophy.

I was a casualty of that change and it caught me cold, it took me a while to recover. But I learned to be a cynical optimist - expect the worst, hope for the best, and act accordingly. So now even though I’m working on some interesting projects, I’m always on the lookout for more work. I may not take it on, but I know the steps to find work like a professional footballer knows how to pass a ball. Things change quickly in business and it’s better to stay ready for the change than to get ready.

Lesson 14 - Invest in tools.

Yes we all need apps that help us work better (Trello, Hemingway Editor, Grammarly etc) But sometimes hardware is the key to success for example, I struggle to write without music. All my best work was done with headphones on my head or my speakers maxed out. It helps to focus my brain and relax. Lord knows my headphones were expensive, but boy were they worth it (Thank you Bose) I put them on and no matter how noisy it is I can hear nothing but my music and my thoughts. If I hadn’t got these headphones I probably never would have made a career out of writing, it’s like my talent is extrinsically linked to music. Who would have known?

Lesson 15 - Live lean until you open your own butchers.

As much as I love this profession, it can’t half be brutal. Head spinning highs are often followed by confidence crushing lows. One mistake I made early on was increasing my expenses when I got a fairly lucrative recurring contract. I must note, these weren’t frivolous expenses, it consisted of things like subscriptions to software and networking groups etc. When the contract ended unexpectedly (see lesson 13) my income reduced but I wanted/needed to keep my expense the same. That was a tough period, akin to a football team getting relegated and trying to decide which star player they have to sell because they can’t afford their wages anymore. Now I’m far more cautious with my finances.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Asher

Asher HarrisComment