As a copywriter, you’re not going to be on the money every time.
Sometimes you’re going to get it wrong, and your ideas will fall slightly wide of the mark.
That’s just the way it is.
If you think any copywriter gets it right 100% of the time, you’re mad.
And if you think you do. Well, you’re likely deluded. Sorry.
The truth is, as creative people experimenting with ideas and trying to find new and original ways to engage and persuade people, we are necessarily going to miss hit now and then.
The aim of this piece is to remind you of this, and to warn you that you need to anticipate it in two ways.
First, you need to create relationships with clients whereby they understand that you are surfing on the edge of the wave here and so sometimes the unpredictable water will knock you off.
(My apologies for the ‘rad man’ surfing metaphor, but it works to get the point across. Still, forgive me.)
If you’re working with clients who don’t understand this, you will—at some point—become unhappy. You’ll resent the client and the client will think you suck. It’s not good for anyone.
So, it’s important that as a relationship with a client develops, you explain copy is necessarily experimental and—if they don’t get it straight away—you work overtime to get to a shared understanding of the process. You might have to start off a little dry and work up to the crazy.
Some clients won’t take this journey with you, probably because they’re stressed out to fuck and have some other person on their own back who has created a bad vibe of unnecessary deadlines and desperate measures. That’s capitalism. I don’t think it’s being fixed anytime soon.
But some—hopefully most—will get it. And in doing so, they’ll allow you to be a lot freer. They’ll even encourage you to be so. They’ll allow you to take the risks you need so you can have interesting and original ideas.
Down the line, they’ll be a lot happier with your work. And you’ll be a lot happier doing the work. This is good.
The second thing you need to do is develop a better relationship with your own self-doubt.
Unless you’re Gary Vaynerchuk and had all your self-doubt surgically removed by Simon Sinek as a dare, you will sometimes feel like the work you produce is shit.
We all do.
It’s a sign you’re human. Don’t sweat it.
But still, it can be a bit off-putting and too much self-doubt can stop you from being as creative and original as you can be.
This is why I led with developing the client relationship. Because if you do that, fighting with your own brain is that bit easier.
In honesty, though, even if the client is cool and gives you the freedom to get it wrong sometimes, it’s still a constant, on-going battle to give yourself that freedom.
It’s something you must work at and remind yourself of all the time.
I know. I know. I sound like a fucking Instagram self-care post, but it is true.
Strengths are offset by weaknesses and weaknesses are offset by strengths. So, the fact you have a bold, creative mind is good, but it also means that same mind is ruddy great at finding bold, creative ways to make you doubt yourself too.
As I say, it’s an ongoing battle that isn’t going away. But you can help make your life easier by anticipating it, reminding yourself it’s OK to not get it right every time, and—as I explained in the first part—actively developing an open, honest, and positive relationship with your clients.
When you work on both of these relationships—with your client and with your self-doubt—you’ll find you’re much more excited about your work—even the ideas that might not hit the mark—and generally the work will be more positive overall.
As my great-aunt Kelsey once said:
“A fly in the microwave is only aggravation for the postman.”
She was insane, of course, and has never actually existed.
But still. Words to live by.
Or better to be excited than right every time.
Maybe that’s a more useful saying.
I miss Kelsey.
P.S. I know you’re a good person. Yeah, you. Go on, you can smile because I’m talking to you. Anyway, I know you’re a good person because I know you’re wondering about the new project I mentioned a little while ago. And I can tell you that yes, it is nearly ready. We recorded some stuff last week and it should all go live very soon. I’ll be in touch. Now stop smiling and go make yourself a cup of tea. You deserve it.