Archive for November 25th, 2008

Copywriting guru Ray Edwards, if he really exists, is very upbeat about the craft and one’s ability to make a living at it. I don’t disagree, but I am always quick to add that it’s not easy. Getting established is murder, unless you’re from Charleston. Here, the answer is simple: just make sure you went to college at The Citadel. That way, secret doors will magically open for you throughout your career. So, take stock…are you a closet Bulldog? Yes? You’re all set!

If not, then get ready for Mr. McGrumpy’s Copywriting Reality Check, where we shine the harsh light of pessimism on your carefully nurtured copywriting fantasies! Remember, my little ink-stained wretches, the ink-stains come with the territory. The wretchedness must be earned!

Here, then, are my thoughts on some of Mr. Edwards’ helpful pointers:

Go Online

The romantic notion: The web is full of online freelance marketplaces where you can “create a profile, bid on projects, and post some of your best work as a display to potential clients.” Hang your shingle, and let the projects come to you!

The reality: I have addressed this one before. To me, this is the writing equivalent of selling your plasma. Sometimes you make beer money, other times it’s very nearly crack money. But either way, you will probably have to sell stolen copper tubing to make ends meet.

On the other hand, if by “Go Online” you mean months of unceasing email harassment until some client begs for mercy and gives you a copywriting gig just to shut you up then, by all means, go online!

And, of course, get a website. A blog like this one will do fine, and it can look quite professional, considering it’s free.

Network Yourself

The romantic notion: Attend meetings of the Ad Club and other professional societies. Get your name out there. Slowly build a peer network. Then somewhere down the line, one of your peers will graciously say, “You know, industrial sewage communication is not my forte, but I know JUST who you can call!”

The reality: Nothing against the Ad Club, but I don’t have the membership money. A couple of times a year, they will have a program that interests me enough to pay $15 to attend, like a presentation from some hot-shot pioneer in the field of this or that. But I never attend believing that it will be a networking bonanza. The only people I tend to meet are the agency 20-somethings trying to line up their next job before the cutbacks hit.

Educate Yourself

The romantic notion: that we should always be pursuing the unknown and the unfamiliar in order to broaden our horizons.

The reality: Absolutely, as long as I am getting paid. Tax-deductible enlightenment will do in a pinch.

Write Everyday

The romantic notion: All the successful writers say that writing is like marathon running. You must stay in shape by constantly training, constantly pushing yourself to new personal bests.

The reality: if you find any success at marketing yourself, this shouldn’t be a problem. Having work is the best way to keep writing. That doesn’t mean that it will always be rewarding for the writer, however. Which leads me to a final point, and my one original contribution to this discussion…

Find a Creative Outlet

I never intended this blog to be my creative outlet. I really didn’t think I had anything “to say.” I simply wanted to generate copywriting content and search engine hits. As I kept at it, I realized I was having fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There! You wanted sincerity? That’s as close as you’ll get!

So there it is, kids. I hope I was able to help you dream just a little more lucidly today. Sort of like my construction-worker father did when he threatened to “take the claw-end of a hammer and bash in my skull” if I ever said I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

Still interested? Check out Ray for real:


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