No matter how professional or experienced you are, the day will come when the sky turns dark, the earth trembles, and the apocalypse crashes the world around you.
In other words, a copywriting project will go bad. Way bad.
Maybe it’s your fault. Maybe it’s the fault of your client or boss. It doesn’t matter. One way or another, you have to deal with it. So I’m going to give you a simple, 6-step survival strategy.
But first, let me tell you two stories. In the first, I screwed up. In the second, my client pulled a fast one. In both cases, the SHTF and I survived.
Story 1: Years and years ago, when I was just starting out as a freelance copywriter, an agency asked me to write copy for a self-mailer. It was an easy assignment to promote an award show for a local advertising organization.
So I came up with a headline, wrote a few paragraphs explaining the show, crafted a simple call to action to register for the event, and typed up a list of the various sponsors and speakers. Simple right?
Unfortunately, I made one giant blunder.
How much of your life is on your computer? What would happen if it all just … vanished? Email, documents, photos, financial records, address book, samples, soft rock from the 70s, everything.
Scary isn’t it? I know because it happened to me.
A few years ago, my computer crashed in the middle of a busy week and it almost destroyed my business. I had a backup of my data, but it wasn’t up-to-date because I was always too busy or too lazy to do regular backups.
So I lost weeks of work, including paying projects worth thousands. And since all my contact data was on my computer, I couldn’t even call clients to tell them what happened.
Talk about a nightmare! This is the very definition of scared straight.
I saw the error of my ways and decided this was never, EVER going to happen again. Oh, I might have another crash. But I would never again sit in my office helplessly staring at a dead computer.
My experience inspired me to devise a computer disaster recovery plan. So that no matter what might happen to my computer – virus, hard disk failure, power surge, theft, software corruption, fire, flood, meteor strike, zombies, anything – I’ll be able to recover in hours rather than days or weeks.
And the real beauty is that my plan is totally automatic. You set it and forget it. You don’t ever have to think about backups or spend a second worrying about the safety of years of personal and business data.
“Hello, this is Bigtime Client. I’m out of the office. Please leave a voice message at the beep.”
“Um, yeah. This is, er, um. This is Cathy Copywriter calling. I was, uh, just wondering if you, you know, got the samples I sent and, uh, well maybe you didn’t look at them yet because I know you’re busy, but they’re in a big red envelope and I, er, so if you like them maybe you could, uh … ”
The dreaded voice mail message. It’s intimidating and merciless. It can catch you unprepared and will record every stuttering syllable as you try to string together a few intelligent sentences. More often than not, you end up sounding, shall we say, less than professional.
What’s the answer? Be prepared with a short “script.”
I’ve said it a thousand times. Copywriting is not just about writing. It’s about business.
For most copywriters, it’s specifically about marketing and selling. So if you want to be a smart copywriter, you need to understand the marketing industry and how things work.
To help with that, here are some of the essential marketing terms you should understand.
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Abandoned Call — When a caller hangs up before the call is answered or when put on hold.
Above the Fold — Part of a Web page or e-mail message that can be seen without scrolling. A newspaper term referring to text at the top of the page, literally above the fold.
Accordion Fold — Type of zigzag fold that makes paper open up like an accordion, as opposed to a letter fold or “roll fold.”
But in recent years, interest has grown dramatically. Maybe it’s the economy and job losses that has people seeking new opportunities. Or it could be the small industry that has grown around promoting copywriter career information.
Whatever it is, there are more people interested in discovering what this “copywriting thing” is all about than ever before.
I’m always getting questions about this, so I’ve put together a Copywriter Information Center on my main business website. Aspiring copywriters can find information about what copywriters do, who does the hiring, typical pay, available full-time jobs, and more.
I’ll be adding information over time, so bookmark the page for reference. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, let me know. I’ll make notes for future updates or answer your questions here on this blog.