How CopyCon inspired me to stop taking my business half seriously
I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty shit at this whole “business” thing.
Like many creatives, the reason I went into business was because I love the act of creating, or in my case, writing. I’m a hardcore introvert. I’m awkward. I don’t like networking. I’ve made some rookie mistakes in my time, so I’ve prefered to hide behind my words and smash deadlines in my pyjamas (with no one but my cats to judge me on my unwashed hair).
When I started I didn’t know a thing about how to do the ‘business’ stuff. Just like you, I started this journey because I wanted to create. I wanted to tell brands’ stories online, write content that connected with people. I put all my energy into the creating for others – and I put nurturing my business last on my list.
But I know I need to work harder smarter.
So, this year, I decided to put on my fancy frock and go and learn more about the art of ‘business-ing’. I booked tickets for CopyCon – the copywriting conference put together by Kate Toon (of the Clever Copywriting School).
CopyCon Lesson #1. Connections can make or break your business
CopyCon was a roaring success. The presentations were witty, clever and hand-crampingly informative. I scribbled so much I can’t understand most of my notes (so thank God for video recordings). But aside from the content, the best part of CopyCon was how everyone connected. And this was largely due to the online Clever Copywriting School Community.
The majority of copywriters run their businesses solo. We tap away at our keyboards, inhaling coffee in our activewear at home. When that majority runs into troubles with a tricky client, gets asked a curly question or needs advice on quoting – they have to navigate that themselves. As a member of The Clever Copywriting School Community, I turn to this group and ask for help. Meeting these people in real life, well, that was just as exciting as the conference.
As an awkward introvert but also a member of this community, I felt at ease before I even set foot in the door. And this meant that I was less likely to spend my time hiding under the table or muttering into my coffee. Networking is a no-brainer for most business people and suffice to say I’m a little slow in picking this up. It’s never been my strong suit, but practice makes perfect, even if putting yourself out there is hard. I think it’s worth it.
How often do you reach out to your community?
Do you see them face to face, or do you have an online community you can turn to?
Have you made any connections that have brought you any opportunities?
CopyCon Lesson #2. Processes are important to you, but also your clients
When I started my freelance copywriting journey I didn’t really have any idea of how I was going to manage the creative demands against the demands of running a business. My learning curve over the first year was steep! But then you’ve been doing it for a little while, you can also get stuck in inefficient ways of doing things. CopyCon organiser and copywriter Kate Toon spoke about her journey in the 10 years she’s been copywriter and business owner. “Clients are buying leadership and ease,” she said. She readily admits that she’s not the best copywriter around. Instead, she excels at project management and taking the lead to get the job done.
Copywriter and self-proclaimed agile monkey, Amanda VanElderen, told us that nurturing clients and building connections with them right from the beginning is what’s given her clients confidence in her abilities and led to repeat business. Her clients know what to expect and when. This helps her deliver work that meets (and exceeds) their expectations in a professional way, every time. Knowing and improving your processes over time is important – as is being upfront with clients and taking charge of the project if need be.
Writer and editor Kelly Exeter also stressed the power of being upfront with the need to build time into your project management to edit your work. She said that taking the time to review your work properly can take your content from vanilla-icecream-bland, to quality, mouth-watering, chocolate-drizzled-decadent evergreen prose. And one of these factors is time AWAY from your project. Getting clear with clients about your writing (and editing) process will give them realistic expectations on how long a piece of content should take to complete to its highest standard.
As an artist, your creative process is part of your unique selling proposition (USP). It’s part of the magic of what makes your work valuable and when buyers and galleries understand this about you, they begin to understand what it really takes to produce quality work like yours.
How do you manage your processes to meet client expectations? I know it’s difficult to articulate your value – but the lesson here is that being open and honest about how you work can help you attract the right people.
CopyCon Lesson #3. Be bold, be open and don’t limit yourself
Processes are important, but so is the courage to be innovative in your business. Conceptual copywriter, scriptwriter, actor and director Christopher Moriarty, reminded us not to dismiss any ideas when interpreting the client’s brief. “As copywriters and creators working to deadlines, you can sometimes forget you’re an artist. We need to get comfortable in the muck.” Chris translates the muck as wading through all your ideas – learning not to censor, but to embrace all of them. “The golden rule to improvisation is no blocking. Never say no to an offer in the creative process. Go with every idea.”
And if those ideas come from Artificial Intelligence (AI)? There’s no doubt that creating content is demanding on time and resources. The development of AI technology to automate content creation processes was inevitable. As creators of this content should we be scared? Digital Marketer and CFO of Camplify, Dave Eddy asked us to remain open and embrace these advances in technology. “Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enhance your capabilities and your productivity. Embracing disruptive technology can be to your competitive advantage.”
Competitive advantage is what SEO copywriter, Nathan Seppelt of Kwasi Studios, is all about. His sage advice about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) being part of an overarching philosophy that should drive your content strategy had me nodding enthusiastically. Then his creative tips on finding new keywords, and exploring topics had my inner-geek squealing. SEO has the power to get your creative work found while at the same time, convince clients of your value while satisfying their needs.
The act of creating – whether it be writing, design, photography or painting is very personal. Even if you’re creating to a brief, you still put so much of yourself into your work and it can be hard to take a step back and be objective and share your value. But when you cherish your journey, just like Tegan Ang and Cherie Clonan have, you can be accepting of who you are and what you bring to your business. You can begin to make connections. You can begin to drill down into your processes and let passion guide your creativity.
Have you ever stopped yourself from exploring all your ideas? I know I have. It’s time to let my passion drive my business again. Thanks to everyone at CopyCon for the kick up the bum to get me going again.
Over to you
Do you have any business advice you’d like to share?
If you missed CopyCon and want to know more get your video tickets to the event and catch all the goss’ for yourself. And of course, if you liked this article, please share!