How preparing proposals is like dating again

Ok, I’d better start with a disclaimer.

I haven’t actually dated since 2005 and, granted, things have changed a little bit. I never swiped right - or left - and those friends who dated someone they met online in the early 2000s were seriously in the minority. Rather than take the advice of a well-meaning friend to ‘go where your dream guy will be hanging out’, I figured my odds were better in a seedy club than a bookstore. I must have been on to something. In 2006 I met my husband in a Thai nightclub, and the rest is history.

Couple standing holding hands

But, I digress.

I’ve been prepping a bunch of copywriting proposals lately, and it’s all starting to feel a little bit like the dating dance. Let me explain.

You put yourself out there

You’re on the web and social media, often using big, bold shots of your face (nowhere to hide) and brand promises for people to decide, would I like to work with this person? Whether you’re in the business of business or dating, this part of the process can feel pretty confronting.

Someone shows interest

There’s a bite via your website contact page, or someone slides into your DMs - well, hello there! The vibe feels right, and you respond. From there, a phone call, coffee date or longer email eventuates.

First contact goes well

So far so good. You’re enjoying each other’s banter, and you feel you’re understanding each other and what this prospect is looking for in a copy relationship.

The second date

You were right. The stars have aligned, and your potential client has requested a proposal. Now you have the chance to really show your copy chops. What you can offer that will help boost their business, the ways you can take the pressure off them, or build their reputation as an industry authority. There’ll be a plan, proposed timeline and summary of the conversation so far. You’ll agonise over the pricing because you want to offer you as much value as you can while still valuing your time and expertise. Then you’ll take a deep breath and hit send.

breathe

One of these three outcomes will likely eventuate:
Ghosting

Either you’ll send the proposal, then follow up once, twice and...crickets. Or, the client signs off on the proposal and then ignores the commencement invoice. You end up feeling like your date has shown up for dinner, seen you and left (awkward!) or that an ex has got back in touch. Either way, it’s pretty hard not to take personally.

Sometimes circumstances change, and we copywriters are pretty understanding types. We’d much rather get your honest feedback about a proposal so we can amend things to make sure everyone’s happy. Just shoot us an email - we won’t bite. Even better, try the phone where there can be no misinterpretation of tone!

Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen

If you wanna be my copywriter, you gotta work with my budget (sung to the tune of Spice Girls). Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it works. My rates are very competitive within the industry. You can pay more for your copy, but you can also get it much cheaper. When you work with me, you’re also investing in my years of communication experience, and my responsive manner and attuned listening skills come as standard. If you’re likely to be offended when I politely decline your request for a discount, please don’t ask.

When it comes to dating, the ‘treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’ approach is an unusual strategy. It may have worked for my first boyfriend Lachlan back in 1995 (and I use the term boyfriend VERY loosely), but I’m a little savvier these days. Here’s a thought - in business or dating, just be a nice person.

This could be true love

Sometimes, like in the Green Mango on that hot January night in 2006, the stars align, and a lasting partnership is born. As a copywriter, these are my faves. There is mutual trust, respect and understanding. Revisions are communicated clearly and in a timely fashion, and invoices are paid on time (or early, even more dreamy!). The good news is, there are plenty more clients in the sea (or something like that), so you don’t need to settle. When you finally find true client love, you’ll feel the difference.

We found Emma to be great to work with, easy to contact and responsive, understood our needs and those of Council, and has a quick turn-around on content. Emma met expectations, wrote to a high standard, completed work according to schedules and deadlines, and to our corporate style. We will use her for future writing/editing/interviewing jobs.
— Rose D'Angelis, Stonnington Council

Think we could be a match made in copywriting heaven? Come and find out.

Want to read more love letters? Find them here.


The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas

You know you should be blogging. And I know you know it.

But, why? I hear you ask. I’m so busy with everything else. I totally get you.

Ok, so first the why. Blogging can establish you as an authority in your industry, help you to build an audience of potential customers or clients, and it’s also great for SEO. Depending on your industry, your blog can also act as a portfolio. For instance, potential clients can quickly get a sense of my writing style by reading my blog.

But who has the energy to come up with content ideas all the time? Even fortnightly blogging comes around very quickly, I can tell you!

So let me help.

This list of 11 ideas is readily adaptable to your industry, and flexible enough to suit your unique tone - whether that’s more serious or light and humorous. Each blog post idea also offers a WHY - the benefit for your readers. Ultimately, it’s them you are writing for and their time is precious.

When it comes to crafting the post, make sure you always create a strong headline to engage your readers, using a ‘hook’ that relates to your topic. Try not to be too clever or obscure! Numbers can work well to grab the attention of readers, such as 10 Instagram Accounts You Need to be Following. Bam!

I really hope you enjoy using this list of ideas, and I’m sure it will spur you on to create many more of your own.

 

A day in the life of...your profession.

Help your readers - potential clients and customers - learn more about you and what your typical day looks like.

Bust myths about your profession.

Assist your readers to understand more about what you do work-wise, and perhaps helps them overcome any blocks they might have about using your product or services.

Quick tips about small business.

Establish yourself as someone your readers trust and appreciate. Tips could be anything from how to make over a LinkedIn profile, to how to stay organised for tax time. Just think - what could simplify life for a small business owner just like you?

How to survive the first year in business.

This piece could be either humorous or serious, while providing practical advice for readers.

Instagram accounts or bloggers to follow.

Provide your readers with new inspiration, resources and networks.

Podcasts to listen to.

Position yourself as someone who shares useful resources. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like an authority or an expert! You have something worth sharing.

Music that motivates or inspires you.

Reveal more about yourself, while broadening the interests of your readers. After all, who doesn’t want to feel more motivated or inspired?

Networking tips or tricks.

Give your readers valuable advice about an aspect of business that scares the pants off some people.

A product or service review.

Review a business resource, cafe, restaurant, playground - you name it. Help readers to learn more about what interests you, while perhaps introducing them to a new product or service.

What I wish I knew when I was starting out.

Position yourself as someone who shares resources and good advice freely with others.

Teach your readers something.

The ‘something’ doesn’t need to strictly relate to your business, but make sure it’s helpful information.

Happy blogging!

P.S. If blogging still sounds too scary - or time consuming - just shout! I'll happily craft any blog posts you need.

blogger-copywriter-content-creator-melbourne

What I’ve learnt in my first year in business

That first year in business. Would we still do it if we knew how hard it would actually be? The fact that you’re really ‘on’ 24/7, making very little money and frantically upskilling well outside your comfort zone? I would. Because, as tough as the first year has been in many ways, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Here are 11 important things I have learnt over this past year working as a freelance copywriter.

1. Mindset matters

Your mindset and attitude go a long way to ensuring you can go the distance! Things like goal setting, staying focused and thinking positively really do make a difference. I nourished myself with exercise and yoga, fuelled my passion for learning by listening to podcasts and reading, and networked with like-minded people. Importantly too, I spent time with my family and friends who centred me.

2. A network works

Having a powerful network around you is essential, including family, friends and professionals. Nurture these relationships. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone when it comes to professional networking (even if, like me, the idea terrifies you). I hunted around to find a business networking group that felt like the ‘right fit’, sought out like-minded types on social media and learnt to talk about myself and my skillset.

3. You have value

It is important to charge what you’re worth, perhaps not in the earliest of days, but once you become more established. Some small business owners are dead-against offering mates’ rates or freebies, but I’m open to it in the right context. It can be a good way to build up your client base and gather testimonials. Just make sure you have the time for it or you’ll find yourself resenting it. You might not always make the ‘right’ decision around this - I certainly didn’t - but it’s all part of the learning process. Always ask for testimonials too. They are gold! Let your happy clients do the spruiking for you!

4. Don’t wait

Stop waiting around for the perfect moment to start - it’s not coming. The time is now.

5. Trust your gut

Don’t waste valuable time over-thinking everything. Of course you’ll be winging it at times, especially in those early days. Be kind to yourself and trust that you’ll make the best decision you can in the moment. Just a note to trust your gut (especially when it comes to more difficult clients). Nine times out of ten, you're probably right.

6. Understand your client

In the beginning, it can be tempting to want everyone as your client. Unfortunately, this broad approach may mean you end up pleasing no-one. Try to understand your ideal client or customer by getting into their head (find ‘types’ of your client on social media and stalk away!) and figuring out how you can solve their problem.  

7. Social strategy

Social media marketing is important (engagement over ‘likes’), but it is just one piece of the pie. Spend time focusing on your website, network, write great content (and have the SEO gods smile upon you) and email any potential clients to reach out. I’m personally not on every social platform and I don’t always work with a particular ‘strategy’ in mind when I post. But I’m always 100% me.

8. Good things take time

There will be days where you feel like you’re winning and other days you almost throw the towel in. Take time to acknowledge the wins, however small.

9. Say no to 24/7

It can be so tempting to work all the time, but make sure you carve out time to rest, have a break and fill your cup. You’ll become a better business owner for it. Promise.

10. Systems and processes

Putting systems and processes in place will save you time in the long run. I certainly didn’t factor in that I’d be learning accounting software, or how to create graphics, or a newsletter template. If it’s just you, you kinda need to take it on. Occasionally I will outsource, if the task is way beyond the scope of what I can do, and that’s been great too.

11. You will change

This small business journey will alter you. There will be so many new people in your world, and you yourself will grow. Embrace the changes and all of those people who choose to walk beside you.

As I prepare for my second year of freelance life, I can't wait to see what learnings lie ahead.

Want to be a part of this journey? I'd love to work some word magic with you. Say hello!

copywriter-workspace-writing-tools

Book Review - Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur by Kate Toon

I first came along Kate Toon back in 2016 when I was still summoning up the courage to call myself a copywriter, despite already taking on clients. I was doing a lot of research to try and educate myself about the industry and current trends, when I discovered the gold nugget that is the ‘Hot Copy’ podcast. This podcast about all things copywriting is hosted by Kate and her partner-in-crime Belinda Weaver. I related instantly to these two because they are natural, no-frills presenters who speak honestly about the peaks and troughs of copywriting and freelance life.

Gradually over the months that followed, I continued to listen. I began to understand and relate to much of the content, and to take on board advice offered by the pair. I also started to tell people who asked what I did, I’m a copywriter. Eeep, scary! But, of course, nobody argued with me. Instead they wanted to know more about my work.

Flash forward to the middle of this year, with my business Instagram and website up and running, and my portfolio of work building. I even took the bold step of purchasing accounting software. No matter what I did though, I just didn’t quite feel like a small business owner, whatever that was supposed to feel or be like.

Enter Kate Toon again with her book Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur.

Kate has written a book about small business and freelance life that is unlike any other business book I’ve ever clapped my eyes on. She is brutally honest about what the process was like for her and how many ‘rules’ she broke along the way. Kate’s book is divided into chapters, each of which tackles a popular entrepreneurial myth. She responds to each in turn, blasting some out of the water and compromising where others are concerned. I found it so refreshing to hear about someone’s unconventional journey.

Kate’s style is wry and humorous at times, and she tells it likes she means it. Whilst I don’t relate to all aspects of her story - (Um, I don’t have three burgeoning business just yet! I also can’t work in my pyjamas because it just doesn't feel right) - I found it a real page-turner. Kate’s tone is natural, relatable, and definitely no-nonsense. One of the best pieces of advice she offers is to stop comparing yourself to other people and she has a great point. Since finishing the book, I’ve curbed my Insta-stalking, focusing on being me and doing my own thing, without worrying so much about what others think.

I would recommend this book to freelancers or small business owners, or even those with an inkling they might like to venture down this path. I finished the book feeling more positive and knowing there’s more than one way of achieving small business success.

To learn more about me and how I do business in my own way, click here.

book-review-kate-toon