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!
I’m one of those weird kind of copywriters. I don’t really read.
Well I do read a bit of non-fiction; but nothing specific, just what I happen to fancy when I’m in a bookstore or while browsing Amazon. When it comes to fiction though, I’m hopeless. The last novel I finished was probably a John Grisham in my teens.
Even watching my sister go through almost a dozen books a month when growing up didn’t rub-off on me. I’d rather sit on the rooftop of the house I grew up in listening to Tupac’s Me Against the World while admiring the surrounding greenery.
Ahhh… the simpler times.
Despite my lack of reading, I ended up in the writing business. Most copywriters are or ought to be avid readers, and I’m pretty sure it helps them to become better wordsmiths. But me, I’m different, I tend to read the world that’s in front of me as opposed to blocking my view with a book.
There are beautiful stories playing out right in front of our eyes, no matter how inconspicuous.
I constantly take in the sights, sounds, atmosphere, ambiance and nuances of my surroundings, which in its own way has helped me become a better copywriter over the years.
How you ask? Some examples, if you will:
People watching > Analyzing consumer behavior
Watching TV > Errr… competitive analysis of other ads, provided I’ve not recorded the show
Noticing a gecko on the ceiling > Aspire to greater heights / there’s always (gecko) shit to clean up
Watching the sun go down > Holy crap, there’s a deadline tomorrow!
Hearing birds chirping > Holy crap, the deadline is today!
Well, I’m just… different.
We’re well into the New Year. And everywhere I turn, the air of uncertainty smacks me in the face. I’m pretty used to uncertainties; freelance copywriting is full of unknowns, surprises and WTF-moments.
These days, the uncertainties are external. The impending GST, falling Ringgit and steadily ascending inflation have concocted an aura of economic doom and gloom here in Malaysia.
The signs ignored, voices hushed and belts further tightened.
The situation seems out of our control, with our captain-less ship at the mercy of global economic winds and undercurrents of mismanagement. We need to fend for ourselves; work harder, spend less and save more. Yes, I’m venting a little here.
But they say necessity is the mother of invention. In marketing communications, a flourishing economy and big budgets does not automatically translate to great work.
I know, because I’ve worked on campaigns for big brands with big budgets; only to see the work often become needlessly complex and hopelessly off the mark. And when budgets are cut, it is used to rationalise ineffectiveness and less-than-desired results.
These days however, I work mostly for start-ups, entrepreneurial businesses and SMEs. They usually don’t have a marketing budget or even a marketing department. But what they do have is the willingness to try new things, allow creative incubation and exhaust all strategic avenues.
The money is then spent to expound and execute a good idea, and not to bombard the media with a scratched-up campaign hoping for a miracle.
Perhaps the economic doom and gloom presents an opportunity to revamp our preconceptions of marketing. In today’s marketing there are no set formulas, cure-alls or guaranteed results, brands need to spark conversations, have a social persona and navigate the wilderness of technology.
Budgets may be trimmed, but we’ve got to roll with the punches.
Less is more, more or less, yes?