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    How a ‘homemade’ writer’s retreat made me a stronger writer

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 13/01/21

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Sue-Ellen Horton


     

    (or how four mojoless copywriters turned an idea into an actual thing)

     

     

    Let’s face it: 2020 has been a bit shit, hasn’t it?

    But this isn’t going to be one of those blogs waxing lyrical about pivoting during these unprecedented times. I’m so over it.

    Instead, you’re going to read a tale of how four copywriters rediscovered their mojo and founded something rather fabulous.

    A homemade writer’s retreat that actually worked.

    Actually inspired.

    Actually helped people get stuff done.

    Want to know more?

    Let’s start at the beginning

     

    Once upon a time…

    Once upon a time, there were four copywriters.

    These four copywriters purchased a great big (and yes, expensive) copywriting/SEO course called The Recipe for SEO Success.

    It’s a great course, and much-lauded in the copywriting world.

    The title says it all: It’s a recipe for success.

    And what did our four intrepid copywriters do with the course?

    Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Not a damn thing.
    (If you’re muttering about procrastination, you would be correct)

    So when the world closed down in March these four writers, who kinda knew each other from a Facebook group, decided to band together and finish the course.

    We set up a private little chat group and started making our way through the lessons.

     

    And then a funny thing happened

    The four of us got along. Like, really got along.

    We all connected straight away and started building solid, genuine friendships. As 2020 progressed, our little copy crew became a safe haven to not only work through the course but also retreat from the world that often seemed overwhelming.

    We talked every day, started Facetiming as a group every week and we’re all keen to meet each other in real life.

     

    Then inspiration struck

    The problem was we lived at Tamworth, Port Stephens, Sydney, and Canberra, which are all quite a distance from each other. And with COVID restrictions an ongoing concern, it wasn’t at all conducive to a face-to-face catch-up.

    Then Doug, our resident Scot, generously offered the use of his own private sanctuary (his holiday home) as a gathering place. All we had to do was agree on dates.

    Of course, we all loved the idea.

    At some point someone suggested calling it a writer’s retreat because a) we might actually get real work done if we gave it a working title and b) we were all devastated our beloved CopyCon was postponed till at least the end of 2021.

    Read my review of the 2019 CopyCon held in Melbourne

    And so, in the last week of August, four strangers met at a holiday house on the south coast of NSW.
    (Oh wow. I just realised that would be the perfect opening line for a horror novel! Don’t nick it, anyone!)

    A lot happened during our stay. Here are just a few of the many things I learned during that week away from my real life.

     

    Escaping reality with like-minded people is good for the soul

    There’s no denying that it’s intoxicating to escape the real world with like-minded souls. Even for a week, which is what we did.

    For the four of us, it was a world of reading, writing, and words.

    Once we realised our online connections were even stronger in real life, we relaxed and spent that first evening sharing a meal, some good wine, and lots of talks.

    Lots and lots of talk. We were still talking well into the night.

    Writers, wine, and words are a perfect match.

    Eat your heart out, Hemingway!

     

     

    We needed a daily plan

    As we parted ways on the first night, the only plan we had for the next day was to show up at the dining room table at 9 am.

    We were so naïve.

    Fortunately, we had an experienced event planner in our midst. Within moments Karen, our resident Hawaiian, had written up a daily plan, taped it to the window, and informed us it was how our day would pan out.

    She was cracking her proverbial whip.

    Okay, so I’ll admit to an initial surge of displeasure. But as the day progressed, and we began slaying our morning goals (with time to spare), it was soon replaced with genuine admiration.

    Karen, like it or not, was our official daily planner.

    If you’re thinking of running any kind of retreat, you need a Karen with her human-sized Post-its (and yes, they are a thing) and texta pens to take control. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to laze around all day and do nothing.

     

    But it wasn’t all work

    We made sure to take time out for play and adventure.

    We frolicked along the pristine sands of a local beach.

    Drank some more wine.

    Supported local cafés by dining out daily.

    Indulged in croissants and doughnuts for breakfast one morning.

    Watched some Netflix movies.

    And took time to share, read, and take deep, healing breaths.

    As the week progressed, we were fired up and ready to rock and roll. We were also relaxed and chilled, the sea air obviously weaving its magic.

    Being fired up and relaxed at the same time was an interesting juxtaposition.

    But it worked.

     

    Have a good mix of people and personalities

    There were four of us at our retreat. Three women and a man. An American, a Scot, a Brit, and an Aussie. And yes, there’s a joke in there somewhere 😉

    We also had two spouses join us throughout our time away, but it was the four writers who… um… ‘retreated’.

    We each have very different personalities, as demonstrated by the nicknames we gave one another in our online chat. We’re also all from different countries and cultures.

    And I believe this was key to the success of our time together.

    As writers, and even as human beings, we value those with opinions and life experiences different from our own. We understand the value they bring to our lives, and how they can show you a different way of looking at the world.

     

    Our daily writing ritual

    In hindsight, I realise this was an intrinsic part of the retreat experience.

    Each day began with a guided writing exercise from the ah-mazing book Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg.

    Some of these exercises were silly and fun, while others were deeply moving and personal. Laughter and tears were shed in equal measure.

    It’s also important to establish that this was a safe space.

    If you’re going to dig deep, sometimes you have to visit unexpected places in your mind. And not all of them will be pleasant. Sharing can be traumatic and cathartic.

    But very necessary.

     

    Size matters

     

     

    A small group in a place with large living and writing spaces.

    We were lucky.

    The home we were sharing had four separate living areas and four bedrooms. We could gather together and move apart as the mood or task at hand dictated.

    We had room to move and to separate. We each had our own bedroom for naps or alone time.
    (As an introvert, I need an escape route during the day and a place to decompress if I’m spending all day with other humans. If not, I start to malfunction.)

    We all just kinda understood that the living room with the fire was for sitting, drinking, and talking and that the lovely garden room at the back was for working and sharing ideas.

    There was also the tacit agreement (the most important of all), that mornings were for coffee and no speaking.

    It was acceptable to barely acknowledge each other until we sat down at 9 am to begin our day.

    Yes indeedy.

    It was bliss.

     

    And we got shit done

    By day three, we’d fallen into this lovely work, rest, and play routine.

    And we actually got shit done.

    I rewrote the home page of my website.
    Updated my TCCS copywriter directory listing.
    Realised what I needed to do if I wanted my business to thrive.

    We all listened to a nervous Cal run through the first draft of her TCCS Masterclass.

    We discussed and supported major decisions about how businesses would grow … or not.

    We made lists and set goals.

    We wrote them down in big black texta and taped them to windows. We read each other’s goals and refined our own.

    For each fun photo we shared on social media, we worked our arses off and made the most of every moment we spent together.

     

    Stepping out of my real life

     

     

    I can’t speak for the others, but stepping out of and away from my real life was a huge deal for me.

    Huge.

    The impact this writer’s retreat had on me was significant and far-reaching.

    I achieved more than I ever thought I could. I came back more confident and more relaxed. I started putting plans into action that I’d only ever wished I could.

    And to my great surprise, it all worked beautifully.

    Just as my friends have assured me it would. I just had to be brave.

    Those five days changed my life.

    Those three wonderful human beings changed my life.

    They became, and still are, my safe space.

    For a bunch of writers who came together because we threw money at a course, we didn’t quite complete, it was a surprisingly good outcome.

    So good in fact that we’re doing it all again in February 2021.

     

    Over to you

    If you have a story to tell, whether it’s business-related or otherwise, get out there and find somewhere to tell it. You’ll reap the rewards in the long run, even if it’s just proving to yourself that you can do it.

     

    About Sue-Ellen

     

    Sue-Ellen Horton is the brains behind snappily named Write Here Copywriting.

    Writer, copywriter, and movie buff (not always in that order), she loves writing for brands who want their words to have more charisma, more magic…. more personality. But they also don’t want the drama of having to write it themselves.

     

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    How To Land (And Rock) Your Next Conference Speaking Gig

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 27/10/20

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

     

    This post was written by TCCS member, Clare Hastings


     

    Dry mouth. Wobbly knees. A thousand frogs doing a mad breakdancing routine in my stomach.

    Speaking in front of people is literally the stuff of my nightmares.

    I’ve worked with a conference company for many years, and I’ve seen hundreds of people rock the stage with some kind of magical confidence to share their stories of innovation and ingenuity.

    But would I ever brave it? Hell no!

    Like many copywriters, my crippling imposter syndrome (coupled with a fear of seizing up on stage and my general laziness) means I’d never even considered speaking in front of people.

    But for those who can overcome these barriers, speaking at events and conferences has clear benefits. It can win you respect, recognition, and sometimes even revenue.

     

    Now is a great time to be speaking at conferences and events

    While COVID-19 put a big fat full stop to big face-to-face conferences, it also opened up alternative platforms such as virtual conferences and webinars. And with restrictions easing in some states, many conferences are starting to call for speakers. Such as CopyCon, the world’s greatest conference for copywriters.

    But where to start?

    I spoke to people in the know to get the lowdown on how to get found, how to overcome imposter syndrome, and where to find your next conference speaking gig.

     

    Squash the imposter

    Imposter syndrome is one of the biggest factors holding people back from speaking at conferences.

    For some of us, a client call is terrifying enough. But standing on stage in front of hundreds of people, just waiting for that curly question to shine a light on how much of an imposter you really are? It’s enough to send even the most confident people running for the hills.

    TCCS member Angela Denly spoke at CopyCon 2018. And she admits she was terrified of standing on stage and being judged.

    “I thought no-one would be interested in what I had to say. But honestly, it was such a positive experience” she says.

    Angela said speaking at CopyCon increased her visibility among other copywriters, which led to more referrals and more engagement on social media.

    Here are her top conference speaking tips:

    • Think about what unique insights you can give and share your personal experience. People want to hear it.
    • Spend some time practising and refining your message.
    • Just try to relax and enjoy it. Your time on stage passes really fast, especially once you get through those first couple of sentences.

    “If you’re given the opportunity to speak at a conference, just put your fears to the side and go for it Angela says.

     

    Get on LinkedIn and get found

    Kyle Tate, Conference Producer at The Eventful Group says LinkedIn is where he goes to source speakers. So establishing yourself as a subject matter expert with a strong personal brand is key to being found.

    Finding speakers is a two-fold project for Kyle:

    • The first, and most important, is finding the right story that fits the narrative and shows innovation in the area.
    • The second is finding the right person to tell the story.

    “We look for confident speakers who can articulate their successes through great storytelling,” Kyle says. “Being able to tell a great story is the hardest quality to find, but can make the biggest difference to a presentation.

    Ultimately, people attend conferences to hear how others have overcome a challenge they might be facing. So highlighting how you’ve approached things in an innovative way is another key aspect of a good speaker.

    Sharing an alternative approach to doing things empowers people to return to their organisations to achieve the same,” he says. “Without the story being innovative it’s just repetition of the norms that already exist.”

     

    Don’t ask, don’t get

    TCCS member Leanne Shelton has led workshops for City of Parramatta Council and Macquarie Community College. She’s also spoken at networking events and even runs her own.

    Her advice for landing a speaking gig is simple: Just ask.

    “When it comes to speaking at networking events or running workshops, I simply asked the organiser. I either approach them in person or send them an email saying I’d be interested in speaking on x topic at an upcoming event. Seems simple, but it works.”

    She says it helps if they know you. So make sure you’re attending the events you want to speak at.

    Once you’ve presented, her top tips are:

    • Collect email addresses and phone numbers from attendees and send them your slides. It’s a great way to generate warm leads and start building connections.
    • Do a follow up call about two weeks later. Ask them if they have any follow-up questions or want to book a free discovery call. People often say they appreciate the call as it’s personal and not part of a bulk email.

     

    How to find conferences and events to speak at

    If you’ve successfully smooshed down your imposter syndrome and want to start speaking at events and conferences, here are some ideas to get you started.

    Note: This list was compiled in the “before times”, when we were allowed to gather en masse and shaking hands wasn’t a deviant act. Many larger conferences have “pivoted” to a virtual format, with some planning to run in 2021 and beyond (fingers crossed).

    Copywriting and marketing events are a good place to start because it’s in our zone of genius: Think of events such as Copycon, Mumbrella, and B2B Marketing Forum.

    Industry events: If you niche by industry, speaking at industry events means getting in front of potential clients. Have a poke around your industry bodies, associations, and local industry groups to see if they run events. Think about how you can help your audience do business better. For example, if you’re speaking to accountants tell them how to make accounting sexy on social media. Or for a real estate audience, how to write punchy listings.

    Business events:

    • General Assembly runs free and paid seminars on a range of topics including digital marketing, social media, and copywriting.
    • Co-working spaces such as We Work often run free lunch-and-learn sessions, which is a good way to connect to local business owners.
    • Bio events hold monthly member events specially curated to make sure people get maximum value from attending. They run mixers, industry meetups, and panel discussions.

    Women’s events: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there are a lot of them around. And more are springing up by the day. If you have the necessary bits and a great story to tell, this could be for you.

    Wellness events: Wellness in the workplace is a hot topic for many businesses. And freelancers face their own challenges when it comes to wellness. Do you have an interesting way to balance your work and life? Are you passionate about mental health? Are you a carbon-neutral workplace? Are you powering your laptop with a bicycle?

    Organise it yourself: Platforms such as Meetup have made it easier than ever to host your own event. It can be a lot of work finding a space, setting up tickets, and marketing the event, but running your own meeting means you can fill it with ideal clients.

    Start local
    If big conferences are just too terrifying, look into smaller local events or speaking opportunities:

    • Speak at local networking events. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start.
    • Run a workshop. Local councils are often looking for expert speakers on small business marketing, etc.
    • Speak at regional events. In my area, there’s a Wollongong digital marketing conference.

     

    Over to you

    If you have a story to tell, whether it’s business-related or otherwise, get out there and find somewhere to tell it. You’ll reap the rewards in the long run, even if it’s just proving to yourself that you can do it.

     

    About Clare

     

    Clare Hastings is a content writer for B2B brands who have insights to share. A journalist-slash-marketer, she liberates your leaders’ expertise and writes articles, eBooks, whitepapers, and case studies to position your brand as a trusted authority.

    You can find her at Write My Content (or guzzling endless cups of coffee at the local café to keep up with her two little kids).

     

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    An interview with Copywriter Phyllis Stylianou

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 15/09/20

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    Phyllis Stylianou from Write Stuff Media


     

    Who are you Phyllis Stylianou?

    I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter, mum of three teenagers and two cats, Harry Potter aficionado and I’ve recently discovered The Hunger Games. I’ll write anything for anyone, but have found myself specialising in engineering and construction copywriting. I’ve written two books, carried the Olympic torch in 2000 and wish I had some sort of talent, but unfortunately I don’t.

     

    What did you do before you became a copywriter?

    I’ve been a journalist unofficially since I was 15 and officially since I was 18. I used to go to the local newspaper every afternoon after school to work. (They invited me back after I did work experience.)

    I worked at Cumberland Newspapers (the Murdoch local papers in Sydney), then went to Readers Digest where I was a sub-editor of Handyman magazine, then returned to local papers (Fairfax). I love local media. It’s a shame they’re dying out. I always had Write Stuff Media as a bit of a side hustle but didn’t get serious about it until I was made redundant five years ago.

     

    How long have you been copywriting?

    Five years full time.

     

    What has been your copywriting career win?

    Securing a fairly regular client that is a large engineering company – Calibre.

     

    What was your worst copywriting fail?

    Getting conned into writing 30 x 1000-word webpages and not getting paid.

     

    What are your number one fave copywriting tools?

    Kate’s email templates, Grammarly, Tiny URL, Voice Recorder, and Rev transcription service.

     

    How do you deal with self-doubt?

    Curl up in a ball and fall apart. Tell my husband I’m hopeless. My eldest daughter slaps me around (figuratively), I have a cry, think of a plan and write it down, dust myself off and keep going. Cuddle my kids.

     

    What work/life balance or mental health tips do you have?

    Set regular business hours and stick to them, go for a walk, and remember how bad things seem, good things can be just around the corner and nothing ever stays the same forever.

    Try to keep regular business hours so you don’t spent the evening or weekend thinking about the jobs that need to be done. Try to eat well and exercise. Above all, talk to other people if you feel unsure, upset or worried.

    Talk to people in the TCCS FB group, talk to family or friends. You can even chat with your doctor. I’ve found that people in the TCCS FB group are always there to give you a boost, and will even offer advice or to lend a hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

     

    What tip would you pass onto any newbie copywriters?

    Join this group, do some courses (they’re great), get Kate to do a Member Makeover or, if she still does them, a one-on-one consultation (best money I’ve ever spent). Get Tony Cosentino to build your website or, if you can’t afford it, get him to give your website a health check (another great investment).

    Get some part-time work if you can to keep you going financially and build your confidence. Don’t overprice yourself – start small (not too cheap though) and gradually increase prices. Learn about SEO through Kate’s course so people will find your website.

     

     

    What’s next for you?

    I’ve been getting some contract work as a comms officer which is building my skills and experience. I hope to keep doing that but really need to get back into making a big effort with my business. I’d love for my business to take off enough that I never have to worry about money again.

     

    Why do you love TCCS?

    I love Kate and she is the heart of the group. It’s a great place to come for reassurance when feeling down, for information and advice, and for company – because working at home can be a bit lonely sometimes. I love that Kate doesn’t allow any nastiness, and anyone who makes cutting remarks soon leaves. (Happened to me a couple of times so I stopped posting.) It’s a place of friendship.

     

    Long description :

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    Contact details:

    Contact Name:

    Contact Phone:

    Contact Email:

    Contact Website:

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    We help aspiring copywriters build a thriving copywriting business, hone their writing skills, make connections and boost their confidence.

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    What’s the one skill every copywriter needs to write better copy?

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 27/05/20

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    Let’s look at the essential soft skill that helps you relate to your readers and your clients

    This post was written by TCCS member, Beth Micklethwaite


     

    Late last year, someone asked me to name the most important skill a good copywriter needs. My answer surprised me.

    • It wasn’t about being a wordsmith or a grammar geek.
    • It wasn’t about having a wide vocabulary.
    • It wasn’t about being able to make a dangling modifier behave itself again.

    My answer had nothing to do with wielding words effectively.

    Because I believe the most important skill a copywriter needs is empathy – the soft skill of making a connection with another person.

     

    What are soft skills?

    Soft skills aren’t technical or job-related. But they certainly help you succeed in your career.

    If you want to be an accountant, you need well-developed numeracy skills, a relevant degree, and accreditation to one of the profession’s regulatory bodies.

    But it’ll be soft skills such as attention to detail, organisation, discretion, and communication that will help you get ahead of your peers.

    The same is true in copywriting.

    A writer should understand language conventions, communicate clearly, and adapt their writing style and tone to suit the purpose and their intended audience.

    But being good with words isn’t enough to make you a successful copywriter.

    Copywriters also need various soft skills to succeed.

     

    What’s empathy and why do copywriters need it?

    Empathy, as you probably know, means sharing someone else’s feelings and experiencing the world as it is for them. Empathy allows us to understand our audience.

    We’re not writing into thin air; we’re writing to a reader.

    A person.
    An actual human being.
    (Not sure which humans you’re writing for? Download the target audience worksheet to help define your audience.)

    Empathy helps us grasp the reader’s motivations, frustrations, fears, and desires.

    It lets us imagine someone else’s life.

    And that’s how we write copy that builds a bridge between our clients and their ideal customers.

    “Without empathy, you can’t get into your client’s head, nor can you get into their customers’ heads.” – Sandra Muller

    As a healthcare writer, empathy is particularly important to me.

    If someone is searching for symptoms of an illness or trying to find treatment options, they’re probably stressed about their health. My job is to inform, reassure, and empower them by taking the best medical advice on that topic and translating it into plain English.

    I help them understand what might be happening in their body and what they should do next (which is usually to see the medical professional I’m writing for).

     

    Why empathy matters to Australian audience right now

    Health consumers aren’t the only people in a heightened state of anxiety right now. Many Australians have been doing it tough recently, as a quick recap of recent months shows.

    • July 2019: The Murray-Darling basin was in the worst drought in recorded history, depriving communities of water and affecting Australia’s overall economy and food security.
    • January 2020: Ten million hectares of Australia (about the size of South Korea) were burning as raging bushfires destroyed nearly 3,000 homes, killed at least 34 people and an estimated 1 billion animals, and made the air hazardous to breathe even far away from the fires.
    • February 2020: Parts of Queensland and NSW were flooded when more rain fell in just a few days than in the entire previous year.
    • March 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic hit, cases and deaths began to rise, borders were closed, social distancing measures began, and life as we knew it was put on hold.

    Next time you’re writing to an Australian audience, think about how these traumatic experiences may have affected their lives. Some of your readers have been knocked down many times over, and are struggling to get up again.

    In this climate, brands that pump out their usual message as if nothing has changed risk being perceived as insensitive and out of touch with their audience.

    As a copywriter, you need to speak to people using words that reflect where they’re at right now. You need to show you understand what it’s like for them.

    That’s showing empathy.

    This ability to imagine and understand what your audience is going through, especially at a difficult time, and to express this in your copy is what makes your writing stand out. That’s why empathy is an essential soft skill for copywriters.

     

    What other soft skills do copywriter need?

    Now that we have empathy covered, what other personal qualities make a good copywriter? I asked the marvellous members of The Clever Copywriting Community for their insight.

    Here’s their list of the vital attributes every good copywriter needs:

    • Wit
    • Compassion
    • Tolerance
    • Curiosity
    • Observation
    • Mental dexterity
    • Emotional insight.

    Editor note: They need endless patience too.

    Gaining and retaining clients is as much about the soft skills as the hard ones. Successful freelance copywriters embody certain personal qualities such as:

    • Diplomacy
    • Patience
    • Negotiation skills.

    Many of us wouldn’t be here without the perseverance and determination needed to start a freelance copywriting business in the first place

    We also need to be active listeners and be able to interpret the client’s needs, which may not be clearly expressed. Often we’re helping clients identify what they really need. (Spoiler: It’s not always what they initially ask for.)

    Thanks to our soft skills, we sometimes spot gems or opportunities our clients can’t see themselves because they’re too close to the work.

     

    How can you develop soft skills for copywriting?

    If you’re keen to develop your soft skills to improve your copywriting, you could try:

    • Connecting with the people you encounter each day. Have a (socially-distanced) chat with your neighbours, the guy who scans your groceries, or other parents at school drop-off. Enjoy a heart-to-heart with a close friend. Yes, it’s a bit tricky during #isolife. But it’s arguably more important than ever to deepen our relationships by asking probing questions and offering loving support
    • Reading a good novel. It’s one of the best and most enjoyable ways to enter someone else’s experience of life
    • Creating a marketing persona. It helps you visualise who’s reading your words before you start writing
    • Imagining yourself as a member of your target audience. What information are you hungry for? What’s confusing you? What pain points are you experiencing? Respond to those needs with your writing
    • Completing a course. Look for useful soft skills such as negotiation skills or assertiveness
    • Increasing your curiosity. Pretend you’re two again and constantly ask, “Why?”
    • Keeping significant events in mind. Remember the impact of recent droughts, floods, and fires, especially when writing to rural Australians.

     

    Working out which skills you need to develop

    Look back over your recent work and ask yourself some questions.

    What soft skills can you see in your writing?

    Which ones did you use when working with that client?

    Which ones do you struggle with?

    And most importantly, which soft skills will you work on? (And how will you do it?)

     

    Over to you

    If you like this article, please share it.

     

    About Beth

    After freelancing for a few years, Beth Micklethwaite is now an in-house copywriter at Splice Marketing, a Brisbane-based agency that specialises in the health and medical sector.

     

     

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    How to conquer comparisonitis

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

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    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 21/05/20

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    Is comparison crippling your copywriting success?

    This post was written by TCCS member, Erin Huckle


     

    A friend of mine has a print on her wall that states, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

    The first time I saw it I literally stopped in my tracks. It was one of those “Aha!” moments that have stayed with me ever since.

    And in the six months since starting my own copywriting business, I’ve had to remind myself of its truth – over and over and over again.

    Despite working in copywriting and communications for 15 years, I still find myself second-guessing my skills and value while looking on in awe at other freelance copywriters who seem to have their stuff together.

    After spending time researching and writing this blog post I still don’t know whether comparisonitis is a real word.

    But mention it to most freelancers, business owners, and humans in general, and you get a knowing nod in response.

    It’s a thing. A very real thing.

     

    Block out the noise

    Sydney copywriter Angela Denly wisely reminded me that most of what we see on social media is smoke and mirrors.

    “People don’t talk about the clients they don’t wow on their socials,” she said. “You never see the full picture. Stay in your lane, and focus on what you do well and who you do it for. Everything else is just noise.” – Angela Denly

    And she’s right. It really is just noise.

    But imposter syndrome, comparisonitis, or “the compulsion to compare one’s accomplishments to another’s” is still a real struggle for most freelancers and small business owners.

    The thing is, a little competition is healthy.

    Sometimes it’s just what we need to give ourselves a much-needed kick up the butt.

    The problem comes when we’re so busy looking at what everyone else is doing that we forget to focus on our own success.

    So how can we overcome crippling imposter syndrome, and perhaps even use it to our advantage?

     

    Remember where you are in your journey

    Yes, I’ve used the word ‘journey’. But stay with me, because there’s nothing to gain from comparing the start of your journey with someone else’s middle or end.

    If you’re just starting out as a copywriter (or on any kind of career path) you won’t have a portfolio of client work, pages of glowing testimonials to scroll through, or a chock-a-block pipeline of work.

    But you’ll probably have a hunger to succeed and a fresh approach, along with a willingness to learn and adapt.

    Or maybe you’ve been a copywriter for a long time but new to the world of self-employment and riding the feast-and-famine tides of freelancing (like me).

    Copywriter Caitlin Wright had been a successful journalist for many years before transitioning to copywriting. But she says she still deals with comparisonitis all the time.

    “I wonder whether I’m pricing right, whether I know enough, and whether I’m a good enough writer. But I have a different experience and am in a different stage to every other copywriter out there. No-one is the same, so I shouldn’t be in a race with anyone else.” – Caitlin Wright

     

    Don’t let comparison be your excuse

    After reading about another person’s big client win, glowing customer review, or blog about their busy work calendar, it’s easy to feel deflated and have a sense of “Why even bother?”

    But don’t let comparison be your excuse to stop trying.

    Just like procrastination, comparison can be an easy way to self-sabotage your own business success and let the productivity wheels fall off your business.

    Productivity queen Faye Hollands from Busy Business Women, says no-one is immune to comparisonitis. It’s just part and parcel of being your own boss.

    “You can’t use comparisonitis as an excuse not to step up, take action and do your thing,” she says. “If you’re serious about running your own show then being productive is a critical element to success. And that won’t happen when you’re wasting time worrying about what other people are doing.

     

    “So put the blinkers on and forget about everyone else. Just focus on what you do brilliantly and find the clients who love you for you, because there’s genuinely a space for you in business if you do great work.” – Faye Hollands

     

    Make it your secret power

    Break out the red cape and put your undies on over your pants. It’s time to turn that comparisonitis into your superpower.

    If you’re focusing on certain people or competitors, in particular, use this as an opportunity to learn.

    Perhaps it’s someone from a Facebook group you admire, or a business you’ve been a fan of for a while. Try reaching out to them for advice. But keep it specific.

    You might ask them how they decided on a niche, their top tip for finding new clients, or how they keep motivated.

    Most people are happy to answer these kinds of questions. And you’ll be building your own network in the process.

    Legal writer, a former lawyer, and SEO copywriter Kate Crocker says connecting with experienced copywriters is an opportunity to improve.

    “Focus on the learning, not the comparison,” she says. “There are plenty of people in the Clever Copywriting Community who are more experienced than me. But when they talk about their experiences, I learn something.”

     

    “I also occasionally touch base with the more experienced group members to ask for advice. And every single time their advice and the background to their advice (for example, what they’re experiencing in their own lives) has provided context and stopped all those negative feelings that maybe I’m not good enough, working hard enough or smart enough.” – Kate Crocker

    By being brave and reaching out to those you admire, you might find they too have struggles they’ve overcome and daily doubts to deal with. We’re all only human after all.

     

    Give yourself permission to fail

    It’s pretty well accepted that the road to success is usually littered with a few failures along the way.

    No-one leads a business life walking paths paved with gold and lit by five-star reviews all the way.

    But the comparison trap can mean we forget it’s okay to fail and learn from those experiences. 

    Rather than focusing on everyone else’s (apparent) success, take a moment to wonder at their failures.

    If you do hit a rocky patch on your business road, ask yourself what you could do differently next time, or be brave and share your mistakes with people you trust.

     

    Define your own success

    What does success mean to you?

    When comparisonitis is getting you down, it’s a good question to ask yourself.

    Are you hoping for 100,000 Instagram followers and your name up in lights?
    Is success a monetary thing?
    Or is it more about living the life you choose on your own terms?

    Our glorious Clever Copywriting School leader Kate Toon recently pondered the definition of success on an episode of her Kate Toon Podcast with guest Stevie Dillon from Stevie Says Social. Both agreed that it can be pretty intangible and that getting the things you thought you wanted doesn’t always make you feel like a success.

    Barossa-based copywriter Angela Pickett says following the mantra ‘define your own success’ has helped give her perspective when it comes to the slippery slope of comparison.

    “Not only in the Clever Copywriting Community, but also when I see colleagues in my previous life (I was a diplomat) getting great postings, or friends enjoying luxury holidays because they’ve succeeded in their corporate career. I know I’m really lucky to be creating something on my own terms that suit my family and fits with my other goals, even though it can be easy to lose sight of that.” – Angela Pickett

    Sometimes it’s hard to have confidence in our own accomplishments. In the world of freelancing and small business, you’re probably never going to feel like you’re there yet – wherever ‘there’ is.

    Marketing copywriter Rashida Tayabali says she dealt with imposter syndrome by not looking at what others are doing.

    “I focused on honing my craft and running my business how I felt it should be run. I also stopped comparing their successes to mine, and basically stopped looking over my shoulder. When things get me down I tell myself I will get to things when I get to them, and that there’s enough work to go around.” – Rashida Tayabali

    This message of ‘There’s enough work to go around’ is a good one.

    Sometimes it’s easy to think there are too many copywriters and not enough clients.

    But rather than being disheartened by the full client books of your competitors, take heart in the fact they found the right networks and niches to build a successful business, and that there will always be room for good copywriters and savvy business operators.

    Copywriter Claudia Bouma made the mistake of looking at other copywriters’ websites and felt like an imposter when she first started out, even though she’d been a widely published travel writer at that point.

    She uses it as a motivation to upskill and improve.

    “The one thing I lacked was SEO knowledge and experience,” she says. “I jumped into problem-solving mode, signed up to Kate’s Recipe for SEO Success course and got stuck into writing Google-friendly copy. Today I struggle on and off with comparisonitis, but then I look back and realise how far I’ve come. I read my testimonials and remember these wise words: ‘Just be yourself – everybody else is taken’.” – Claudia Bouma

    Imposter syndrome

     

    Comparisonitis is everywhere

    Of course, comparisonitis isn’t unique to the copywriting profession.

    Clinical Psychologist Dr. Olga Lavalle says comparisonitis comes from the theory of Social Comparison, and she comes across it with her clients on a daily basis.

    “With comparisonitis, people are making assumptions about other people, and believing those assumptions to be true,” she says. “As a result, it can lead to negative self-talk and seeing yourself as a failure.

     

    “My advice? Stop comparing yourself to something you believe is true and wasting time focusing on someone else’s life. Focus on yourself and remember your own talents, and celebrate your own achievements no matter how big or small.” – Dr. Olga Lavalle

    So take a moment to think about the things you’re proud of.

    Celebrate the little victories, and don’t dwell on the failures.

    Riding this rollercoaster of self-employment is unpredictable, and we’re all in it together.

    Don’t let comparison steal your joy.

     

    Over to you

    If you liked this article, please share:

     

    About Erin

    Erin Huckle is a copywriter and PR consultant who helps creative, ethical, and innovative businesses find the right words.

    When not tapping away at her laptop, you’ll find her wrangling three small humans on the beaches of Wollongong, or trail-running in the wilderness for some much-needed ‘me’ time.

     

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    Serious about success? Then it’s time to get serious about sales.

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 29/04/20

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Diana Ioppolo

     

    So you’re a copywriter. You love writing and helping businesses grow, and get a kick out of hearing great results from your clients. But when it comes to selling yourself and your business, you feel a different kind of kick.

    Do any of these sound familiar?

    • You’ll happily write sales copy for your clients, but suffer a mental blank/break out in sweat/eat all the chocolate whenever you try to write your own.
    • The thought of getting into proper clothes, going to an event and talking to actual people is the stuff of nightmares.
    • You’re a writer, not a salesperson. You don’t want to have to put yourself out there and convince someone of your worth.

    I know the feeling. As people who love to write, we’re generally comfortable with our inner world (and often prefer it). The way we communicate with words is a thousand times more polished than how we sound in real life. It’s our strength and one of the reasons we write for a living in the first place.

    But the reality is we aren’t ‘just’ writers. We’re also small business owners. And as part of that ‘other’ job we need to embrace sales and do what’s needed to grow our business.

     

    The difference between marketing and sales

    We often talk about the need to market ourselves and work ‘in’ our business to keep attracting quality leads. But what exactly is ‘marketing yourself’, and how is it different from sales activity? And do you need to do both?

    “Marketing and sales definitely go hand-in-hand,” says Sales Coach Jenny White from True Potential Sales. “Marketing is a great way to build brands, awareness, and trust, but you also need to consider algorithms, SEO and your competition.

    “When it comes to sales, there are no variables other than yourself. Making that personal connection can be that one extra step that puts you ahead of your competitors.”

    So yes, you need to do both.

    Here’s how to differentiate between the two:

     

     

    Marketing your business is activity that:

     

    • creates awareness
    • builds interest
    • attracts people to your business
    Examples include:
    • writing a blog post
    • updating your website copy
    • posting on social media

    Sales activity for your business is about:

     

    • building relationships
    • providing solutions to specific problems
    • convincing someone to choose you and your business.
    Examples include:
    • making a new connection on LinkedIn
    • going to a networking event
    • sending a client some useful information

    When they work together, marketing helps bring people in and sales help turn them into clients. And who doesn’t want a healthy list of their ideal clients wanting to work with them?

     

    Embrace sales by shifting your mindset

    So now you know the difference between sales and marketing. And you know that sales activity brings in leads, which in turn brings in money. But that doesn’t take away the fear of putting yourself out there.

    The first step to overcoming this fear of sales is to get into a different mindset. Challenging unhelpful thoughts and beliefs around sales can help you shift your mindset and leave you feeling more comfortable about approaching people.

    Old belief

    New you

    I don’t want to come across as pushy.

    You won’t be pushy if you’re helping someone solve a problem. If you find out what they need, and help them come up with an answer, you’re actually giving someone what they want. Approach the sale from the position of a helper.

    But what if they say “No”?

    Would getting a “No” be such a bad thing? What would the consequences be? Chances are there wouldn’t be any. If anything, you can use the opportunity to find out why they said “No”, and use that information to help address any of their objections

     

    I’m not sure why they’d choose my services over someone else’s.

    I think this one comes down to the infamous Imposter Syndrome.


    Ask yourself, Why wouldn’t they choose me? People have chosen you in the past. You know how to do the work. You’ve done the work. Have a look at some of your own client testimonials or your past work and remind yourself that you can do this.Would getting a “No” be such a bad thing? What would the consequences be? Chances are there wouldn’t be any. If anything, you can use the opportunity to find out why they said “No”, and use that information to help address any of their objections

     

    I don’t need to sell myself. Why can’t my work speak for itself?

    People who don’t ask for things are often overlooked for the people who do. You can do great work and hope people notice, or do great work and tell people about it (and build your sales pipeline at the same time).

    Easing your way into sales

    Now that you see sales a little differently, you might be ready to dip your toe in the water. Here are a few things you can do to ease into the practise and start flexing your sales muscle.

    Do your sales activity when you’re feeling most upbeat and positive.
    We all have times when we feel our best. It could be in the morning when we’re bright and alert, after we’ve gone for a run and are full of endorphins, or when we’ve just received some particularly good feedback. Capitalise on these feel-good moments, as they will create the perfect frame of mind for you to tackle the ‘scary’ thing.

    Have a plan.
    Having specific objectives and targets can take the thinking out of what you’re doing, and let you approach things one at a time. You plan could be to:

    • get ten new LinkedIn connections a week
    • attend a networking event and get three new contacts
    • identify five current clients you could upsell to.

    Focus on warm leads.
    If you aren’t ready to cold approach anyone yet, focus on warm leads. These could be people who know you and your brand, follow you on social media, or previously expressed interest. You can write them an email, arrange a coffee catch-up or send them a link to a recent (and relevant) blog post you wrote.

    Listen, listen, and listen some more.
    When getting in touch with people, try not to think about the sale. Let your client or prospect do most of the talking and take note of their challenges. Show your listening by rephrasing what you’ve heard back to them, and think about how your services can help them.

     

     

     

    Boost your sales by scheduling these activities into your week.

    If you want to get serious about sales for your business, it’s time to start scheduling sales activity into your weekly plans. Here are some copywriter sales tips to help you get started. 

    • Re-connect with people. They could be old colleagues, someone you met at a networking event, or friends of friends.
    • Add value to existing relationships. For example, send periodic emails with interesting information or a tip they might find useful for their business.
    • Upsell. Could you sell any additional services to your current clients?
    • Follow up. Do you have any enquiries or proposals you could follow up?
    • Take a close look at your email list. Are there any potential clients that could benefit from a bespoke outreach email?
    • If you haven’t done so already, do the TCCS LinkedIn Booster Course.
    • Pick up the phone. Making phone calls to current customers is the most effective prospecting tactic. Develop a plan and structure around any sales calls you might make. Much like public speaking, being prepared can make a big difference in how you feel and how confident you sound.
    • Meet with people in person. People choose to work with people, not brands, and building a connection in person can really strengthen relationships.

     

    Over to you

    How do you feel about sales? Do you make time for regular sales activities for your business? If you’ve got more leads than you can handle, what would be your number one sales tip for copywriters who could do with more leads?

     

    Bio

     

     

    Diana is a copywriter and digital marketer who helps service-based businesses with effective and practical marketing solutions. She loves writing, marketing, and the internet, and in her spare time wrangles two little people while attempting to become a morning exercise person again.

     

     

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