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Staying in my lane

For the last couple of weeks I have been forced to question my business model business. I’ve no doubt it’s the usual questions that plague any fledgling business. What the hell am I doing? What are the best marketing techniques for me? Am I doing everything I could be? When uncertainty strikes, my natural course of action is to ‘phone a friend’. The advice and guidance given under these circumstances is well-meaning enough, but not always what I want to hear.

I have a decent sense of what I want to achieve and how to get it, but whether in business or not, people are not always on the same page as me. This is not an uncommon occurrence, but I have found a bigger disconnect in some of my conversations since going freelance. Enter more learning opportunities and the knowledge that freelance life is apt to produce even more eccentricity from a creative personality than usual. This could mean anything, in my case standing well back is strongly advised.

After a few incidents there followed quiet contemplation. It began with a whole day off doing nothing, except listening to music and watching Netflix; it ended a couple of days later after more talks and another good network meeting. Calm and common sense finally returned as I networked with someone who exemplified the same stance I wanted to take with my business. Their business model is straightforward – good graphic design, nothing more, nothing less. This company sticks to what it is good at and is not afraid to refuse custom requiring extra services, like the content copy I was offering. I respected this position instantly, it was the same message I had unsuccessfully tried to convey to my nearest and dearest. I breathed a sigh of relief, elated to have found someone who endorsed one of my fundamental beliefs about my business. It was a happy moment and a great start to the week.

I wondered why it had been such a struggle to articulate something so important to me. Was I in such a whirl of activity that I didn’t make sense? Did my friends not ‘get me’ anymore? Or more likely, had I incorrectly assumed those closest to me had read and digested all the information on my website? Whoops!

So to set the record straight, I don’t write what I call “quick and dirty” copywriting. There is nothing wrong with it, but it’s not me. Blogging, editing and proofreading projects amongst others are great for me and welcome, but if clients want the same formulaic content copy as everyone else then I am not the copywriter for them. I have a creative background which is a unique and valuable tool in the often misunderstood world of copywriting. I am willing to bring out the narrative of a business and tell the personal story whilst weaving in the much touted search engine optimisation (SEO).

I like writing. It doesn’t matter if the business is railway bridges or beauty products. For me, the joy of copywriting comes from knowing exactly where the semi-colon should go; it’s also about the research, discovering something new, then bringing those elements together to engage the reader. As a copywriter my aim is to create something bespoke and unique to a company. This means finding out everything I can about the individual(s) and their business; likes, dislikes, aspirations, tone of voice, unique selling points and successes, so clients gravitate to them instead of their competitors. It’s not rocket science, if you go on a diet that requires you to eat lettuce three times a day and you can’t stand lettuce, you are unlikely to stick with it. Equally, if your website says no job too small and you are claustrophobic… you get the picture.

Many people want to know exactly what they are getting for their hard earned cash, also whether or not their patronage benefits a shared ethos. For a moment I was caught wondering if my integrity still stood for what I believed in, it does. As a result I could well be playing the part of the ‘poor artist’ for a while, but if it means I get to join the big leagues later down the line; it will be worth it.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde.


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