Two years ago, with no serious planning whatsoever, I decided to become a full-time freelance copywriter.
24 months, that’s a pretty long time to go without a pay cheque. And the fact that I’m still standing is a miracle of sorts… almost too good to be true.
But it was not like I didn’t have to work my butt off to get to this stage. Obviously finding clients was among my major headaches when I started. Eventually, this blog (yes, this very sorry excuse for a blog) became my number one lead generator, and still is.
Now, all my clients I work with and the projects I handle are the direct result from the enquiries I get from this website. Of course, I still had to convince these leads to become clients, which wasn’t easy nor was it always successful.
Sometimes, I get a barrage of enquiries within a space of a week, which is great. The downside to this is that I can’t work on turning all these leads into clients, without creating a backlog. And recently, I had to let go many opportunities that came my way.
This is something I hate to do. It feels like I’ve let myself down.
Being a self-employed copywriter, I tend to wear multiple hats. Often the writing itself is only a small portion of my daily routine because there are meetings to attend, clients to lunch with, brainstorming sessions to go to, materials to pick up and quotes/invoices to send.
There is only so much I can handle without compromising my quality of my copy, which is often how I’m judged on.
It’s a case of keeping existing clients happy vs. bringing in new business. I suppose I’m a loyalist rather than a capitalist.
Anyway, I would like to thank all my clients and readers for making the past year a great one. I’ve learned so much over the year that no book, classroom or even job can ever teach.
Finally, for those of you who enquired about my services, and in turn received a very polite message saying that I was very busy, please accept my sincere apologies. I truly hope our paths will cross again.
This month marks my 14th year as a copywriter. And I still get asked this question – “what do you actually do?”.
My answer usually goes something like this:
“Well I write stuff, marketing stuff. Like print ads, websites, brochures, proposals, scripts and so on”.
Yes, that is what I do, well, almost. Over the last few years, I’ve realised something. The stuff I write is only the end result of a process that is intricate and complicated.
The act of writing is only a means to an end. The written word is my deliverable, yet the insights, analysis, research, ideas, concepts, creative inputs and opinions are my products.
To put it simply; a lot have to go on – in my head and in my actions – before I write the first line of copy. My job cannot be quantified by time, or even by how much I write. There are many combinations of variables that influence that final piece of copy I deliver.
For the most part, the pre-copy-work comes naturally to me. Due to the fact that I’ve been doing this for yonks, and because I have a good understanding of copywriting fundamentals.
But to a client, all of the above are irrelevant, as long as I help them. Help them do what, you ask?
That would be to compel action, generate leads and ultimately help them make more money.
And that, is exactly what I do.
Many of us in the Malaysian advertising industry always lament about the lack of creative license afforded to us by clients – including me, occasionally.
Compared to our regional counterparts in Thailand, Indonesia, India and even our ‘friends’ separated by just a waterway in Singapore; we Malaysians addies aren’t that creative to be honest.
I am not trying to blame anyone here. Whether clients give us the creative freedom or not should not be used as an excuse. It is how creatively we work within the constraints that matter.
But let’s look at it this way. Creativity is subjective; and is not the kind of waters you want to thread, especially when millions in media budget is at stake.
And the biggest question is this – even if audiences get an idea that is creative, do they remember the product?
I have friends who sometimes comment on ads they’ve seen. They will rave about how creative it was, and when asked about the product that the ad was supposed to sell, go totally blank.
So it is quite understandable when Malaysian clients take a more direct route in communicating to their target market. If a mind-blowing creative campaign doesn’t ring in the sales or even improve brand awareness; then what’s the point?
As a copywriter, I always believed creativity in advertising is a balancing act. A campaign must be equally memorable and be able to compel action at the same time.
Finding that equilibrium is where the magic of advertising happens.