Well, as eventful as it was, 2015 whizzed by like a speeding train.
In fact, my almost 5-year stint as a fulltime freelancer has gone by as if I was in a 100 metre dash.
And yeah, while I’m at it, my 18 or so years as a wordsmith in a creatively constipated industry now feels like a vividly twisted dream.
So here I am, awoken from what seemed like a pseudo-comatose state of mind – anxiously wondering where my career is headed as I approach my 40s.
Freaking 40s, nuts!
But to be honest, it hasn’t been as delusional or convoluted as I’ve made it to be. Yes, putting 18 years of your heart, soul and neck into something ought to be paying dividends.
And it has, for the most part.
Strangely, something else has begun to happen over the last couple of years. I have found myself doing much less writing, while being thrust into situations where my overall know-how in marketing began to take the lead. I’ve gone from churning copy after copy after copy; to work on strategic, conceptual and the business side of marketing.
For a long time I thought I would be just generating content till the day I slump over my keyboard, or at best overseeing other lost souls churn out mindless garbage, and then set myself on fire on a pile of badly written client briefs while screaming “no more reeevissiooonnnsss!”.
Yes, people have mentioned I have a warped mind.
So, in essence, I am not just a copywriter anymore. I am somewhat in transition, or maybe I have already transitioned to become a marketing consultant of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, writing is still my first love, and I will continue to be a keyboard slave for a long time to come.
Maybe, just maybe it’s time I pursue my other writing interests. After all, no time to waste as 40 approaches in haste.
Oh… better late than never, so happy new year!
We copywriters are often miracle workers.
I’ve written for cars I never drove, audio systems I never heard, beverages I never drank and even places I’ve never been to. I suppose it’s the same for pretty much every copywriter out there.
The days of getting up close and personal with the product are truly gone.
I remember when I started out as a novice – which was far too long ago if you’re wondering – that clients actually sent their products to the office so we may check, test, use or just fiddle around with them.
Services are a bit tricky. It would be impractical to get into a huge debt just because you need to write for a new mortgage plan. But clients still took the effort to send over market insights, strategic reviews, target market analysis, competitive analysis and the works.
These days however, our work really does require us to create something out of nothing, especially in the last decade. Google has become the primary source of information on virtually any product or service. ‘Just Google it’ is a phrase that now replaces ‘do you have enough information?’.
While I often admire a client’s confidence in our resourcefulness, how are we as marketing writers to develop a unique tone-of-voice based on materials sourced from Google? Indeed, Google is a great resource, but it is a vastly generic resource. And when the work delivered is not insightful or outstanding enough, the finger-pointing begins.
But there have been bright sparks. As a freelancer, I’ve met clients whom are genuinely focused on creating communications that are compelling, insightful and truly unique.
Well how are they different you ask? Here you go…
Their brand is their lifeblood, they live and breathe it. They are intrinsically wired to the growth and development of their brand. They care enough to provide relevant, insightful material along with reasonable lead time to exhaust all possibilities.
They are Transparent
Every aspect of their business open to scrutiny. They give copywriters no-holds-barred access to the inner workings of their organisation, creating the possibility of uncovering unique business traits that can result in the much coveted ‘aha’ moment.
They know the ins and outs of their business, and willing to work to translate that knowledge into a solid brief. You won’t hear the words Catchy, Punch or Juicy from these guys. They know what they want as much as knowing what they don’t want.
Yes, I admit it. Since the time I started this copywriting blog in 2010, I’ve never been as laid-back as this year. My posts have been too few and far in between, and I feel like a disgrace to bloggers everywhere.
But as with all things, every downside has a reason.
You see, the momentum I built in my first full year as a freelance copywriter in 2012 spilled over rather kindly to 2013. That meant more time working on projects rather than soliciting for work.
So let’s just say I took the foot off the blogging accelerator just a tiny bit and now the New Year is staring cynically at my face.
Ah yes… another reason for my lack of posts is also because I was busy preparing for my matrimonial plunge for the most part of the year. But this is hardly the space to talk about it, so I shall leave it at that.
Anyway, around this time last year I ended with a post that recapped my toils for 2012, along with a couple of videos that inspired me to do the unthinkable. But this time around, I’m looking forward by outlining a few things that I’d like to see happen among clients in 2014:
- A change in outlook to be more concerned about communicating effectively rather than calculating cost.
- Less emphasis on being catchy (whatever that means), and more effort in being able to identify a unique, compelling proposition.
- Realise that personal preference should just complement and not influence any piece of communication.
- Understand that copywriting is a craft that isn’t entirely based on preset formulas or guidelines; great work comes with time.
- Endeavour to keep things simple, concise and clear. The attention that consumers bestow is a luxury that should not be screwed with.
Amateurs get angry with clients, professionals educate them. I’ve done my bit of educating for the year; just don’t hold it against me yeah?
Here’s to a smashing New Year… cheers!