What a Personal Development Classic from 1959 Can Teach You About Writing Web Copy That Sells

magicofthinkingbig image

[EDITING NOTE: This post was originally published in November 2014. Because its topic and principles are evergreen, and because I’ve gotten lots of questions lately about how to write for your ideal clients and how to “paint a picture” with your web copy, I’ve decided to republish it.]

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Wherein we talk about how to create killer copy for your small business website by painting a picture, and I give you an example of how it’s done . . .

So a few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house drinking wine, chatting, and having a gay old time, as the old-timers say.  On the way out the door, I stopped by her bookshelf – I’m a sucker for spying on what other people read – and spotted a book called The Magic of Thinking Big: Acquire the Secrets of Success . . . Achieve Everything You’ve Always Wanted, by David Schwartz, Ph.D.

(Even though this book is a classic published way back in 1959, I’d heard of it; in fact, it was on my mental list of “inspiring books to read soon.”  A mental list which, miraculously, hadn’t been erased by all the booze I drank on vacation last week, or I might never have remembered I wanted to read it.)

While the book is certainly worth reading so you too can train yourself to “harness the power of thinking big,” what I want to talk about today is a specific passage in the book that perfectly describes what your small business web copy needs to do if you want to attract your ideal clients and customers, and that thing is “paint a picture.”

This picture you’re painting with your copy is of your ideal customer’s ideal outcome, and if you do this well, these ideal customers will want to give you money for your products and services. 

Say, wouldn’t that be just swell?

Painting a Picture with Your Web Copy

On page 71 of the afore-mentioned book, the author tells us to “see what can be, not just what is.”  Which is a perfect instruction for small business copywriting.

He illustrates this concept by telling us about a successful realtor he knows.  This realtor is selling lots of unattractive rural property that other realtors in the same area can’t sell on a bet.  How does our realtor do this?  By selling the property not as it is, but as what it can be.

As the realtor states:  “I develop my entire sales plan around what the farm can be.  Simply telling the prospect, ‘The farm has XX acres of bottom land, and XX acres of woods, and is XX miles from town,’ doesn’t stir him up and make him want to buy it.  But when you show him a concrete plan for doing something with the farm, he’s just about sold.”

So here’s what successful realtor guy does:  He comes up with three possibilities for what the farm can be, and sells prospects on one of those three possibilities, fully fleshing out the benefits of owning this farm so the prospect can see in his mind’s eye exactly what an idyllic life he will have once the farm belongs to him, revenue-producing possibilities included.

Keep this technique in mind as you’re writing your own small business web copy.  You want to highlight the benefits of your product or service.  (“Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress,” as a famous copywriter once said.)  In our example here, the “XX acres of bottom land and XX acres of woods” are features, not benefits.  And while it may necessary to mention features at some point, remember “facts tell, benefits sell.”

The Realtor’s Painted Picture

In my favorite of the 3 scenarios, our realtor paints a picture of the farm converted into a riding stable.  Why does this work so well?  Because the farm is near a big city, which means access to a large, sophisticated market of eager end users of the riding stable. Our realtor knows that big city residents of a certain income level like to escape to the countryside to enjoy the great outdoors on weekends, and that many of those people like to ride horses.  All he has to do now is sell the potential buyer of the lot on this scenario.

So, instead of selling his prospect on XX acres of bottom land, and XX acres of woods, and is XX miles from town, he shares the compelling vision of a thriving riding stable business, with glossy horses and wholesome couples with disposable income riding off into bucolic nature with their picnic baskets full of expensive artisan cheeses and fine champagne. (OK, I made that last bit up – there is no picnic in the realtor’s painted picture, but there would be in mine.)

Using this method, our realtor says, “Now, when I talk with my prospects I won’t have to convince them that the farm is a good buy as it is.  I help them to see a picture of the farm changed into a money-making proposition.”

Smooth, right?   He is not selling the land, the dirt, the acreage – the features, in other words – but the full-blown dream of a horse farm with a riding stable and beautiful couples riding happily through the trees, which they will pay handsomely to do.

So whatever it is you sell, help your clients and customers see what can be for them, in their particular situation. Show them the payoff of using your product or services by selling them the solution, the results, the vision of what can be.

A Real World Example from the World of Interior Design

Now, let’s look at a real-world example of copy that does not paint a picture from the world of interior design.  Specifically, an interior design business’s “About” page.

Why an “About” page, you ask?  Well, here’s what I see over and over again on interior design websites and blogs:  designers using their About pages to list their education and design credentials, when what they should be doing instead is “painting a picture” of their ideal customer’s ideal outcome, while weaving in their credentials and experience.  Because even in your About page, you want to paint a picture of what you can do for your clients. 

This is a much more powerful way to connect with your prospects on an emotional level, which is key to driving more sales in your business.

(And because I would never want to hold anyone up to ridicule publicly, names and specific details have been changed to protect the innocent in the following example.)

Jane graduated from Parsons with a degree in interior design and a minor in studio art. She is an active member of ASID Carolinas Chapter and the local design community.  She attends many conventions and workshops locally and internationally to stay on the cutting edge of design. Jane makes each project unique for each client and has a fine-tuned ability to work with a variety of interior design styles and settings.  Her signature style combines practicality with sophistication.

Where do I begin?

From a strictly writerly perspective, that copy commits a cardinal sin – that is, it tells rather than shows.  We want to know HOW Jane makes each project unique for each client – show us.  Also, it’s boring.  And thirdly, it talks about Jane, not the client.

When looking at this copy from a “painting a picture” perspective, you can see that, beyond being deadly dull and not really saying anything very useful to the client, it does not, in any way, shape or form, make an emotional connection with the reader/potential client and show them what can be by working with Jane.

Here’s how we might improve Jane’s copy:

You’re one-of-a-kind.  An iconoclast.  The “rules” you follow in life are your own.  Not everyone gets it. And you want your home to be a reflection of your unique perspective.  Your approach to life can’t be replicated on an assembly line, and your home’s interior shouldn’t be either.  

Hi, I’m Jane, an expert in telling your story, your way, through your home’s design. Together we’ll create a truly singular space that boldly expresses your one-of-a-kind personality and translates your unique sensibility into a home that could belong to no one but you. 

My approach to design is less about rigid rules and color schemes and more about translating your personal tastes and preferred lifestyle into a sophisticated oasis that is luxurious, yet livable. The result?  A home that gives you that “I-can’t-believe-I-get-to-live-here” feeling every time you walk in the door.

Jane could add more “painting a picture” copy here, then add information about her training and design credentials.  But she should lead with painting a picture

Now obviously, if I were writing this copy for an actual interior designer copy client, I would meet with said client to get the details about their target audience and their target audience’s needs, wishes and desires so that I could write copy specifically for that audience.

Here the copy I wrote was meant to appeal to a design client who has a strong vision, knows what they want, and wants to work collaboratively with a designer to achieve their dream home design.   The copy would be vastly different if “Jane the interior designer” only worked with Moms on a budget with young toddlers in tow, or a family with teenagers and a grand home on the beach, or empty nesters looking to pare down.  You get the idea.

So that, my friends, is how you paint a picture with your copy.  

[For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up for weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]

 

What a Copywriter REALLY Does (How I Work)

In Part One of this blog post, Should You Hire a Copywriter? (The answer may not be as easy as you think), I shared my thoughts on when I think you’re ready to hire a copywriter, and the minimum required “good-to-haves” before you do so. I also shared links to a couple of other articles by well-respected copywriting experts addressing the same question.

In this installment, I’m going to share my process of working with copywriting clients in detail, so you can get a sense of what really goes on, learn more about how copywriters work and what they actually do (it’s SO much more than simply writing), and if you’re wondering, find out why the investment for copywriting can sometimes seem “high” (which of course is relative).

Hiring a Copywriter? Some Things to Consider

Something to keep in mind as you look to hire any kind of service provider is their level and type of expertise. If possible, you want to hire someone who specializes in providing services to your specific kind of business and/or the specific marketing channel you need help with.

For example, I’ve been writing marketing communications copy & content since 2001. I have a background in advertising, PR, sales, and marketing, so I understand the role that marketing copy plays in the bigger picture of business-building as a whole.

Over the last several years, I’ve narrowed my specialization to writing copy for websites and other online communication channels almost exclusively, and almost exclusively for clients who have a creative product or service to sell.

I still write other kinds of marketing copy occasionally [brochures, press releases, blog posts, e-books, case studies, etc.], but I’m mostly focused on online communications – email newsletters, autoresponder sequences, lead magnets, blog articles, etc., and website copy in particular. 

Writing web copy is a specialized skill. In order to write effective web copy that moves your site visitors to take the appropriate actions (for example, signing up for your email list, contacting you for more information about your products or services, setting up a free consultation, etc.), you have to have knowledge of how websites work, how people read and interact on the web, and an understanding of Internet-based content strategy and creation.

If you plan to write your own website copy, that’s fine, just educate yourself first about the differences between web copy and copy/content for other marketing channels. You can’t just throw some old brochure copy you had written once upon a time up on your website, or have your niece who’s an English major write your web copy.

The First Thing I Do When a Potential Client Reaches Out to Me

Not everyone who reaches out will be a good fit. If you’re a service provider too, as many in my audience are, you know this very well.

And as you also know, the pain of ignoring your instincts and working with a client who is not a good fit is not worth the money you made on the project. It’s just not. Life is too short for that nonsense.

And that’s why this first step is so, so important.

Once I hear from someone that they’re considering hiring a copywriter and want to find out more about working with me, I reply with an email telling them I’d love to hear more about their project, and that the first step is what I call a “get acquainted” call.

I also sometimes share the link to my Work with Me page if they haven’t checked it out yet, so the potential client can get a sense of what I do and the investment for my services before we get on the phone.

The “Get Acquainted” Call

The “get acquainted” call is a 15-20 minute no obligation conversation where we briefly look at the potential client’s website together, and I share a few top-of-mind thoughts about copy improvements they can make on their own.

I ask them questions about what’s currently working for them with their web marketing and what’s not, how their web copy is performing, and have them tell me about any big challenges they’re facing with generating clients and new business from their website.

I then ask them to share a few specifics about what they’re trying to accomplish with their website right now, and we chat about my services and determine if working together makes sense.

It’s my policy not to quote prices over the phone, but occasionally I’ll give a ballpark estimate of what the investment will be for the service they’re considering.  Not usually though.

At this point, we’ll end the call, and either one of two things will happen – they’ll need to think about all we discussed and agree to let me know within a few days if they’d like me to write up a customized proposal for the specific copywriting project they’re interested in, OR, they’ll ask me to go ahead and write a proposal for services then.

At this point, there’s still no obligation on either side. However, if I don’t think the client is serious, OR, if they’re not a good fit for whatever reason (say, they’re not far advanced enough in their business yet to drop several hundred to $3-$5K on copywriting when there are other things they need to have in place first), then I’ll share that with them, and ask them to circle back around with me if/when they’re in a better spot with their business.

Not all my copywriting services require a proposal. If a client chooses one of the services on my Work with Me page exactly as is, then there is no proposal phase, the project then moves on to the invoicing and service agreement stage.

The Proposal Phase

If, however, the potential client has a custom project, and is ready to move to the proposal phase, I ask them to give me 2-3 days to do the research and writing required to create the proposal.

Before writing the proposal, I do research into the client’s niche/market and competition, and review their current website thoroughly. I consider everything they shared with me during our initial call about what their challenges are and what they’re trying to accomplish with their website and other marketing outreach, and write a custom proposal based on that information, plus what I feel the best course of action is.

Each proposal includes the following sections:

  • Scope of Work
  • Copywriting Objectives
  • Target Audience Information
  • Possible Objections to Overcome
  • Initial Observations and Recommendations
  • An overview of background/prep work I’ll do before writing the copy
  • Investment (usually includes 3 options for moving forward)
  • Proposed Project Timeline
  • Action Items Needed to Commence Project
  • Next Steps (which includes the date by which I need to know if it’s a yes or a no; I usually ask potential clients to get back to me within 48 hours, or 3 business days at the very most after receiving the proposal. If they need longer than that to make a decision, I know they’re waffling/not serious/not ready for this step financially.)

In the Investment section, I typically give the potential client 3 options for moving forward: a basic option, which consists of exactly what they asked for and nothing more, say, home page copy + a compelling tagline; a mid-level option, which includes everything in the basic option, plus a couple of other copy deliverables I think would benefit them and help their business; and an “all the bells-and-whistles” option, which includes everything in the mid-level option, plus additional copy deliverables that are “nice-to-haves,” along with 2-3 months of strategy consulting, among other things.

To give you an idea of what that looks like, here’s an Investment section of a proposal I wrote in summer of 2016:

INVESTMENT

Option 1: Home page copy + About page copy: $998, with a 50% deposit of $499 upfront, and the remaining balance of $499 due upon project completion.

Option 2: Home page copy + About page copy + Newsletter Signup Landing Page Copy: $1498, with a 50% deposit of $749 upfront, and the remaining balance of $749 due upon project completion.

Option 3: Home page copy, About page copy, Newsletter Signup Landing Page Copy, + 2 Hours of Strategy Consulting to be used within 90 days of project completion:  $1649, with a 50% deposit of $824.50 upfront, and the remaining balance of $824.50 due upon finalization of all copy. (2 hours of strategy consulting at a 50% discounted rate of $75 per hour.)

[I’ve raised my prices since writing this proposal, so if I were providing these copy services today, the investment would be higher.]

I also let clients know that, given my typical project schedule, there will be at least 30 days between project kick-off and project completion, and sometimes as long as 6-8 weeks for bigger projects, which means a minimum of 30 days between paying the 50% deposit and paying the final balance.  I like to share this information with clients so they have it for budgeting purposes, as I find it helps them feel more at ease with the investment.

I have occasionally let people break up the investment into 3 equal installments if that works better for them.

The Proposal Review Call

A proposal review call isn’t always necessary, but if a client needs clarification on anything in the proposal, or just wants to talk it through together step-by-step so they’re crystal clear on each element of the document, the suggested service package, or any other details, we get on the phone and review the proposal together.

Once the client has the proposal, and a review call if necessary, they have 48 hours, or 3 business days at the very most, to let me know if they’d like to proceed. As I mentioned above, if a potential client needs longer than that to make a decision, I know they’re not serious, or they’re not ready for this step financially.

I always try to determine this beforehand, however. I don’t want to spend hours writing a proposal, going back-and-forth over email, and dealing with other “I’m-not-really-serious” waffling actions, only to have the potential client not move forward.

It’s fine for a client to make a decision after reviewing the proposal that they don’t want to move forward, I don’t mind that, but if it took them days and days, and multiple emails, and a phone call or two, and endless, relentless questions to get to that point of no, then that’s a huge waste of my time and theirs.

This is fresh in my mind, because I recently dealt with that very situation, and when all was said and done, I had spent 12+ hours dealing with someone who decided not to move forward.  This person did not respect my time, but I let it happen, so I have no one to blame but myself. That’s no way to run a business, and I’ve learned my lesson. Never again.

Invoicing & Client Services Agreement

Once the client says yes to the proposal, if it’s a custom project (service packages purchased exactly as they’re described on my Work with Me page don’t require a proposal), the next step is invoicing and the client services agreement.

The client services agreement includes a project summary, payment details, the project timeline, information about changes and revisions, cancellation policy, and so on.

I spell out in the agreement that when I say yes to a project, that means I must say no to other projects that come my way, so if the client cancels the project after I have already begun work, I retain the down payment.

The client is paying me to write copy, but they’re also reserving time on my schedule, and I cannot rebook that time if they change their mind.

The Work Begins!

Once the client signs off on the services agreement and pays the 50% deposit, the work begins, woohoo!

At this point I send the Client Intake Questionnaire. It consists of 25 questions about the client’s business, their audience, what sets them apart among others who do similar work (if they don’t know the answer to this, I help them figure it out), who their ideal clients are, their goals for the copy, and other questions designed to help me get crystal clear on their vision for their business, the copy, and the outcomes they want to achieve.

I’ve had so many clients tell me that just the act of filling out the intake questionnaire has helped them gain clarity on the direction of their business, what their competitive advantage is, and what they want to achieve with their marketing and their business overall.

I usually ask clients to return the completed intake questionnaire to me within 3-5 business days. I then go over it with a fine-tooth comb, highlighting anything I need further clarification on, noting concepts and ideas that will help them stand out in their niche, pulling out phrases and ideas I can use in the copy, and generally getting crystal clear on what I call their “big idea,”  – essentially, the answer to the question, “Among all the other _____ [thing they do] out there, why choose _____ [their business]?”

Next comes a phone call to review the intake questionnaire together before I start writing the first draft.

Now It’s Time to Do Research & Other Pre-Writing Prep

In addition to thoroughly combing through the intake questionnaire and reviewing it together with the client on the phone, I also do the following before I begin writing:

  • Review client testimonials and other feedback from previous clients
  • Review current website & website copy
  • Review any marketing collateral the client has used in the past or is currently using
  • Research competition online
  • Brainstorming and concepting to come up with the client’s “meaningful difference,” and what I call the “hook” – the combination of things that set them apart in their niche and that are part of their BIG IDEA, as mentioned above, which is the answer to the question, “Among all the other ______ out there I could buy from, why choose to buy from ______?”

This is an abbreviated list, but you get the idea.

After all the above is completed, I put together what I call the “Core Message Doc.” This document contains information about:

  • The client’s “big idea”
  • The common objections they receive for resisting the sale and how to overcome those objections
  • Information about their ideal clients and unique selling proposition or “meaningful difference,” and how to craft a compelling marketing message using this info so the client can authentically stand out in their niche
  • Voice, tone & other language notes to use when writing the copy
  • Features and benefits of the clients’ products and/or services
  • Values the client wants conveyed in the copy

And so on.

Then and only then do I begin writing.

So when I “write copy,” I don’t just sit down and write. The writing part comes after many hours spent doing other important things first, including gaining a deep understanding of the client’s business and the results the client wants to achieve, AND how I can help them get there. 

The Writing Process

The writing process is fairly standard.

Once the prep work above is complete, I write the first draft and send it to the client for feedback. I give them specific instructions about the kind of feedback I’m looking for, and ask them share anything else they think is relevant for me to know before I write the second draft.

With this first draft, I also include a document called a “Copy Rationale/Explanation of Approach” – this is a separate document explaining in detail why I made the copy choices I did.

Once the client has had a chance to review the first draft and the copy rationale doc, I ask them to put their comments, proposed edits, and feedback in writing on the draft, and send it back to me.

Once I receive this, we schedule a call to review the first draft together before I write the second draft. I like to do this to be sure we’re on the same page about changes that need to be made before writing the next draft.

I then write the second draft and send it to the client with their edits, feedback and suggestions incorporated, and give them the opportunity to give me another round of feedback.

Although I offer 2 rounds of revisions on all copywriting projects, it’s rare that I have to do more than one round of revisions. It’s happened 2-3 times in the last 6 or 7 years, but that’s it.

Once the final revisions are made and the client signs off on the project as “complete & final,” I send the invoice for the 50% balance of the project fee.

Then we hug and do a happy dance, and break out the champagne!

Ha ha, just kidding about that last part. My clients aren’t local, so we don’t see each other IRL, as the kids say. But I would love it if we could! 🙂

Final Thoughts

I hope this article helps you understand why copywriting is so much more than “just writing,” and that good copywriters, in addition to having strong writing chops, also know a great deal about marketing, sales, how to help you stand out and get traction online, and other business-building topics.

We’re not “just writers,” and copywriting is not “just words.”

I will leave you with this, in the words of the great marketer, businessman and copywriting genius John Carlton:

Working with a copywriter is gonna be one of the most time-and-money intensive relationships you have in your business.

Copy is the MAIN ELEMENT in your ability to attract prospects and close them as customers. (Yes, the quality of what you offer matters… but never forget that the Marketing Graveyard is crammed with superior products that died horrible and fast deaths because no one figured out how to sell them.) ~John Carlton

If you think you’re ready to hire a copywriter for your creative business, check out my copywriting services here.

If you’re not quite at that stage yet, but could use some expert advice on your current copywriting challenges, check out the super-affordable Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session here.

Should You Hire a Copywriter? (The answer may not be as easy as you think)

When you’re first getting started in business, putting up your first website, dipping your toe into the vast world of building an audience online and marketing your products and services, creating content and driving traffic to your site, and all the other million and one things you need to do in a day to get your business rolling, you’re most likely in bootstrapping mode and watching every penny.

That’s certainly how it was for me when I first got started.

My Very First Business Investment

I remember the first time I spent $97 on something for my business – a course on how to use Facebook for marketing, I believe it was. It felt like a huge investment at the time. And truth be told, it was, because I hadn’t made any real money yet.

Nervous as my twitchy fingers hovered over the “Buy Now,” button, I felt like I’d jumped off a cliff without a parachute the instant I clicked the button and the $97 wooshed out of my checking account.

I tell you this because in the years since then, I’ve made countless other investments in my business:

:: $2200 for an online business-building program

:: $3600 for a 9-month group coaching program

:: $1200 for a 3-month group coaching program

:: $1200 for a course on course-building

:: $600 on a course about list-building

:: Many other $500 – $1000 investments into various other business-related courses, coaching and programs

:: Plus several one-off purchases of $100 – $500 for books and other resources

But I’ll still never forget that first $97 I spent and the way it made me feel. Like “sh*t just got real – I am really doing this here business thing.”

Which was a very good thing, because it meant I now felt serious about my business; I wasn’t just “playing” at business anymore, and “hoping” it would work. Spending that first $97 created the necessary mindset shift I needed if I was going to move forward and support myself with my copywriting and marketing business.

So, Should You Invest in Your Business by Hiring a Copywriter?

If you’re at the stage where you’ve gotten your business ducks in a row – you’ve launched your website, you have your products and/or services ready to roll, you have at least some idea about who your likely buyers/ideal clients & customers are, and you’re ready to start making some sales, then you may be considering hiring a copywriter or other service provider, and you’re nervous about the investment.

I’ve talked to loads of people over the years who reach out to inquire about my copywriting and/or marketing services. Some are clearly ready to hire a professional copywriter and marketer, and some most definitely are not.

It Can Get Really Confusing, Really Fast

Google “When should I hire a copywriter?” or “Should I hire a copywriter?” or “At what stage of business should I hire a copywriter,” and you’ll find plenty of articles with titles like, “14 Reasons You Should Hire a Copywriter,” “5 Reasons You Should Hire a Copywriter for Your Business,” “Why You Need to Hire a Professional Copywriter,” and so on. [Google returned 10,400,000 results when I did that search. Yikes.]

But the truth is, though these articles make some good points, only you know if you have the dollars to spend, if you’re ready for the kind of services a copywriter provides, and if you have the understanding of what a copywriter actually does.

That last one is really important, because I can tell you that the clients I’ve most regretted taking on over the years are the ones who are confused about what a copywriter does, don’t understand the serious investment of time and expertise a copywriter puts in to get to know your business, your clients, and your business goals so they can write copy that converts web visitors to sales, and who don’t understand that copywriting is a collaborative process that requires time, effort and input from the client side too.

These kind of clients have made my life, if not a living hell, then at the very least, deeply unpleasant during the time I was working with them. Luckily, I have a pretty good spidey sense of who those clients are when they first reach out to me, and steer clear of working with them. But every now and then one slips in, unfortunately.

If I Had to Go Out on a Limb and Say When to Hire a Copywriter . . .

For me the bottom line is, if you have a good idea who your likely buyers/ideal clients & customers are, you’re clear on the benefits your products and/or services provide to your clients, you’ve already proven the need/desire for your products and/or services through the sales you’ve already made, AND – this is important – you understand that hiring a copywriter can be a substantial investment and you understand why that is (i.e., you get that copywriting is about so much more than simply writing), and you have the dollars in your marketing budget to hire a copywriter without creating financial hardship, then by all means, go for it.

These are the minimum required “good-to-haves” before you hire a copywriter, in my book.

Wherein Other People Answer the Question of When Is the Right Time to Hire a Copywriter

One of the best articles I’ve read on whether you should hire a copywriter or write your own copy is Amy Harrison’s  . . . wait for it . . . Should You Hire a Copywriter or Write Your Own Copy?

As Amy points out, if you’ve got more time than money, “you’re already watching your budget, and you have a few hours a week to spare, it’s better you flex your own copywriting muscle.”

Check out the rest of Amy’s article here for six questions you should ask yourself before you hire a copywriter.

Another thing to keep in mind is what kind of copy you need written. For example, I specialize in website copy. I’ve written, and still occasionally write, other forms of marketing communications for clients, but my specialty is website copy.  

What this means is that I have knowledge and expertise in how people interact with online content specifically, what a website must do to move people from browsers, to requests for more info, and to clients and sales, and other web-specific attraction, marketing, and conversion knowledge.  

If it’s website copy you need written and you’re going the DIY route, make sure that you’re learning from someone who specializes in website copy, or if your budget allows, and you meet the other minimum required good-to-haves above, that you hire someone who specializes in writing website copy. There are a lot of us out there.

If you’d like to read one of the most trusted resources online about copywriting and when to hire a copywriter, check out Copyblogger’s 5 Situations That Demand You Hire a Professional Copywriter.

This is one of the best short, wise, and to-the-point articles on when to hire a copywriter I’ve read, and I’ve read A LOT. Also, as I tend to great wordiness in my blog posts (*cough, cough*) I surely can appreciate how much knowledge they pack into this brief blog post.

If you were confused when you first started reading this article about whether or not it’s the right time for you to hire copywriter, but based on what I’ve shared, and what the experts I linked to here have to say, you’ve made your mind up about what you need to do, then good on ya. I’m happy I was able to help.

On the other hand, if you’re even more confused now than when you started reading, leave a comment below, and I’ll reply as soon as I’m able and see if I can help get you on the right track.

Next Up

In Part 2 of this post to be published in March, I’ll share my process of working with copywriting clients in detail, so you can get a sense of what really goes on, learn more about how copywriters work and what they actually do (it’s SO much more than writing), and if you’re wondering, find out why the investment can sometimes seem “high” (which of course is relative).

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

If you want immediate feedback from a professional copywriter and marketer on your website copy, customized-for-you answers to your top copywriting challenges, and clear ideas for improving your website copy ASAP to more effectively call in and convert your ideal clients, then check out my Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session right over here.

Should You Buy Tim Ferriss’ Latest Book, “Tools of Titans?”

Tools of Titans

(The full title of the book is Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.)

I bought this big behemoth of a book on 12/11/16 and I’m about 475 pages into it.

I’d been reading about it and hearing about it on podcasts for a few weeks when I finally decided to fork over the $28 to make it mine. (You know how it is with book launches these days – they go on for what feels like weeks and months and years on end.)

By the time I walked in to Barnes & Noble in early-ish December 2016 and read through a few pages of Tools of Titans, I decided I had to buy it. (That’s what priming’ll do for ya. It works.)

But wait, let me back up a minute. That’s not exactly how it happened, come to think of it.

The first time I actually saw the book, I picked it up read through the table of contents and the bullet copy on the back cover, thought, “Hmm, never mind,” put it down, and walked away.

I wanted the book, no question, but I was resistant, and here’s why: if my math is correct, of the 112 people in the book Ferriss shares wisdom and insight from, just 14 are women. Of the bullets on the back cover of the book – you know, the copy that’s meant to really sell the thing (so it’s where the – ahem – uber “important” people are mentioned) – there are 14 bullets and only one features a woman.

So it is that most “successful” people come in the male variety in Tim Ferriss world.

I’ll admit, I was disappointed. It confirms what I’ve long felt about many of the male-lead businesses and people I follow online, great though they may be – you’re way more likely to be featured in/on someone’s podcast, website, blog, book, or even in their testimonials or case studies if you’re a man, unless the website, blog, or podcast is woman-owned. I’ve seen it over and over and over again.

If you came here from another planet and took notice of this, you’d think, “Hmm, what constitutes ‘success’ on this planet is for men, defined by men, and about men.”

[As an aside, if you want to read a fantastic piece on this dilemma, far more eloquently written than what I’ve scratched out here, check out Sarah Kathleen Peck’s article, Why We Can’t Keep Having “Best of Entrepreneur” Lists That are Overwhelmingly Male.]

Anywho, back to the book. I bought it despite my disappointment over the underrepresentation of women, so obviously I believe there’s value in it.

Now, if you’re still with me, here’s a brief overview of the book:

The book is laid out in three sections: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, which Ferriss describes as “a tripod upon which life is balanced. One needs all three to have any sustainable success or happiness.” (His definition of wealth is about more than money, it also includes an abundance of time, relationships and other life categories.)

He calls it “a compendium of recipes for high performance,” lessons he’s learned from the 200 world-class performers he’s interviewed on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. Among these are writers, actors, comedians, and photographers, so it’s not all hedge fund managers and Silicon Valley people, not that those folks don’t have important lessons to share as well.

The book is made up of distilled wisdom, strategies, tips and tricks from these high-achievers that Ferriss put together for his own use, and only later decided to publish. It’s not just a book of interviews, it’s “a toolkit for changing your life,” according to Ferriss, and many of the lessons he’s learned and applied have indeed changed his life, he says.

And because it’s such a long book (well over 600 pages), Ferriss says to treat it sort of like a buffet, to skip what you don’t feel compelled to read, and read what grabs you. I skipped the entire first section, “Healthy,” and started right in with my reading at section 2, “Wealthy” (page 164). I’ve been reading in order straight through from there though.

(It’s my OCD. I feel like I can’t skip pages and sections now, and once I get to the end, I’ll go back and read the “Healthy” section.)

What I liked:

There’s something here for just about any kind of challenge you might face, as cliché as that sounds.

For example, if you tend to “compare and despair,” Sophia Amoruso (page 376), founder of global clothing brand Nasty Gal and #Girlboss Foundation, says not to be so impressed by the high achievers you admire, because you are entirely capable of doing what they do, and there’s no reason you can’t have the things they have. Despite her massive success, she shares that she still cries sometimes, and doesn’t ever feel like, “I’m done, I’ve arrived.”

Or maybe you have a medical condition, or something else in your life is causing you mental, emotional or physical pain that keeps you from doing all you’d like to do, and your tendency is to complain about it, as much as you’d like not to (been there/still sometimes there).

Tracy DiNunzio (page 313), founder and CEO of Tradesy, who has raised $75 million from investors including Richard Branson, talks about being born with spina bifida and having to undergo several surgeries. She says she tried “complaining and being bitter,” but it didn’t work. Because, she explains, sharing a Stephen Hawking quote (someone with a bigger reason to complain than most people), “when you complain nobody wants to help you.”

She talks about putting herself on a “complaining diet,” because she was thinking and talking about being in pain enough that it caused her life to go in a negative direction. She decides not to say, or even think, anything negative about the situation she’s in. She admits it took a long time and she wasn’t perfect at it, but that replacing the negative thoughts with more positive ones helped get her life moving in a better direction, one where she wasn’t obsessing about what was wrong, which served to lessen the physical pain.

Feeling stuck? Legendary music producer Rick Rubin (page 502) says to start with a very small, doable task. He recounts the story of an artist he was working with who hadn’t made an album in a long time and was struggling mightily with getting anything finished. So Rubin gives him the assignment to write one word in a song that needs 5 lines by the next day. Just one word. This advice resonated with me because I’ve found the “small, doable task” trick great for building momentum in my own work and life when I’m feeling stuck.

Searching for the courage to do something bold? Research professor Dr. Brené Brown (page 586), whose TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” has been viewed more than 31 million times, shares her experience teaching as a public figure despite hurtful online comments and attacks. She realized that if she wanted to live “a brave life,” a life “in the arena,” that yes, she would get her ass kicked, but she chooses to live by the question, “When I had the opportunity, did I choose courage over comfort?” As someone who regularly chooses comfort, this is a lesson I need to ponder. Actually not to ponder, that’s too “comfortable.” I need to implement this, fer cryin’ out loud!

Afraid to be your “true self,” online or elsewhere? Glenn Beck (I know, I know, but bear with me. Page 553), shares some excellent advice, especially appropriate for those of us conducting business online who sometimes hide behind our “real” selves so as not to offend or scare away potential clients or customers.

Beck says, “What I realized . . . was that people are starving for something authentic. They’ll accept you, warts and all, if that’s who you really are. Once you start lying to them, they’re not interested. We’re all alike. So the best advice I learned by mistake, and that is: Be willing to fail or succeed on who you really are. Don’t ever try to be anything else. What you are is good enough for whatever it is you’re doing.”

This is only the second time in the history of ever I’ve agreed with something Glenn Beck said (the other time was some comments he made about Trump), so I’m as shocked as anybody that I’m mentioning him in a blog post. But there it is.

My Favorite Bits

These are my favorite bits, meaning, I’ve actually added these practices to what I call my “Daily Practice,” and do them regularly now:

The Five-Minute Journal, page 146, which consists of a couple of brief morning prompts, and a couple of evening prompts. Each morning I write 3 things I’m grateful for, 3 things that would make today great, and 3 daily affirmations. In the evening, I write about “3 amazing things that happened today,” and “3 ways I could have made today better.” Though I was doing some form of this before, it wasn’t organized, and it wasn’t daily. Now it’s both, and I feel happier. At the end of each week on Sunday night, I spend 10-15 minutes reviewing that week’s journal entries.

Tim’s 8-step process for maximizing efficacy, page 200, which is a list of things he does to make sure he gets stuff done, despite “self-defeating habits and self-talk.” Oh, how I love this, because we all have bad habits, and so do the most successful people we admire. But they still manage to get big and amazing things done, and so we can too.

I won’t share the entire list here, but the crux is: Wake up at least one hour before you have to be at a computer screen; write down 3-5 things that are making you the most anxious or uncomfortable; for each item, ask yourself, “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”; look at only the items you’ve answered “yes” to for that question; then block out 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. [That’s a brief overview.]

I love that he says, “This is the only way I can create big outcomes despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, nap, and otherwise fritter away days with bullshit.” Sounds like someone I know very well. Ahem.

And lastly, one of my favorite new practices that came from the book, is wishing for random people to be happy, page 158. What you do is simply randomly identify two people who are standing, sitting, or walking nearby, and wish for them to be happy. Just say to yourself, “I wish for this person to be happy, I wish for that person to be happy.” It’s just thinking, mind you, it’s not saying it out loud.

I’ve done some form of this before as part of my daily practice, but not consistently, and not for a long time now, but after reading this passage in Tim’s book, I sat on my bed and randomly wished for all kinds of people to be happy, even people I don’t much care for, like Trump. AND BOY, WAS THAT EVER DIFFICULT TO DO.

This practice does tend to make me feel happier, and I think it’s because of what Ferriss identifies – it takes the focus off you and your “stuff,” at least briefly. Which is a welcome respite for those of us who tend to live so much in our heads and focus obsessively on all we have to do/be/accomplish/handle, etc.

At the end of the day . . .

Despite my quibbles about the book’s mostly male focus and version of “success,” I’m happy I bought the book, and would recommend it.  

That said, I have to say I agree with Emma Jacobs, who reviewed the book for the Financial Times:

“Halfway through this book, I started to feel battered, like I had been hit by a tsunami of testosterone. I flicked through the book tallying the number of men and women proffering the advice — just over 10 per cent of the interviewees were women. Granted, there are fewer female billionaires — to take his subtitle — but icons and world-class performers? Give me strength. The overall effect is a kind of quantified self, Silicon Valley machismo. And that will appeal to many.”

Though I don’t find “Silicon Valley machismo” compelling in any way, shape, or form, I still found many things to like about this book, and found it worth the $28. 

And there ya have it.

Thank you for being part of my community + updates

Can you believe it’s already the end of 2016?

If I’m being honest, a new year can’t come soon enough for me. 2016 has been tough, and I mean really tough, for me and a whole bunch of other people I know as well.

And I’m not just talking about the terrifying political situation we now find ourselves in, though that’s a big part of it.

While I firmly believe that every moment, even the “bad” ones, can have their own unique blessings, I am good and ready for a whole bunch of “good” moments strung all together in several looooong months/years at this point.

But hey, on to brighter things! 

The real reason I’m writing today is to thank you for being a part of my community this year.

Whether you stopped by to read a blog post, signed up for my weekly copywriting tips newsletter, left a comment, sent an email with a question, told me how much you enjoy receiving my weekly emails, inquired about working together, or simply reached out to say hello, thank you. It’s deeply appreciated.

It means so much to me that you get value out of the articles I write and the emails I send, and that you actually take time out of your busy day to tell me that. That’s a big deal, so again, thank you.

And if you became a client this year, I appreciate your trust in allowing me to write marketing copy for your business to help you generate more clients and sales.

I don’t take any of these things for granted.

I’m blessed to have worked with several amazing clients this year, and to have interacted with many of the amazing and wonderful readers of my blog and my weekly newsletter this year as well.

So know that you are loved and appreciated, and that I’m wishing you the very best, in your business and in your personal life, for the coming year.

UPDATES

Some of you may have gotten what you needed from my blog posts and weekly emails and be ready to move on. If that’s the case, no worries! There’s only so much time in the day, and you have to be careful where you spend your time and attention. So if our “relationship” has run its course, I’ll understand if you need to unsubscribe from the newsletter and/or stop reading the blog. 

But if you decide to stick around these here parts in 2017, here’s what you can expect:

:: More blog posts, tips, ideas, and how-tos for writing compelling copy that helps you attract your ideal clients, customers and collectors, geared especially for creative business builders, solopreneurs and other non-marketing types.

:: A new [free!] short e-course on how to write a magnetic, client-attractive website. This will be something like 7 or 8 lessons delivered over a week – 10 days or so, so you can go through it quickly, get what you need, and get it implemented on your website, pronto, to start attracting more of the kind of clients & customers you really want.

:: My first ever product – I’m not sure exactly what this will look like yet, but it will be created based on the most frequent questions I get from email subscribers and clients, + the issues and challenges you all share with me in my Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session private workshop calls. It will be affordable, uber-useful for getting your website copy and marketing in tip-top shape, and FUN to read and implement!

:: And more . . . stay tuned for details! 🙂

In the meantime, if you’d like some customized-especially-for-you help with your web copy or marketing now, or in early January to start the new year off just right, check out my Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session: You + Me + a One Hour Private Workshop to Address Your Most Pressing Web Copy Challenges Right Now.  It’s customized-for-you answers to your top copywriting challenges, and clear ideas for improving your website copy ASAP to more effectively call in and convert your ideal clients.

That’s it for now.

Hope your holidays are magical and miraculous!

See you in the New Year!

Warmly,

Kimberly

What questions do you have about hiring a copywriter?

If you’ve been thinking about hiring a copywriter, but:

:: You aren’t sure if it’s a wise investment based on where you are in your business right now

:: You don’t know how the process works, or what to expect

:: You don’t know what results you can expect from getting your web copy professionally written

:: You have some money to invest in your business, but you’re weighing a few options – web design, Facebook ads, copywriting – and don’t know where to put your limited dollars to get the most bang for your buck

:: You don’t understand why copywriters charge as much as they do

Or any other questions or concerns about if/when to hire a copywriter, or the process of working with one, leave them in the comments, and I’ll include the answers in my upcoming blog post! 🙂

Some Notes on What I Read This Week: Sunday 09.18.16

On Saturday I spent nearly the entire day reading essays and articles online. In fact, at 3:00 pm, I was still sitting on my sofa drinking coffee and reading, where I’d been since 8:00 am that morning.  It was only when a friend texted me to ask how my weekend was going that I realized what time it was.

What?!?! But what better way to while away the day, I say.

I’m astounded by how much great writing is available online, for free, that you can easily access with a computer and an Internet connection.  I still much prefer to read actual books and actual newspapers, because I’m old school like that, but much of the best writing around these days doesn’t exist in those forms.

I subscribe to many, many newsletters, most of which are related to my work as a copywriter/marketer/freelance writer for hire, but my favorite newsletters are those more literary/writing/books/publishing-minded.

For example, The Lenny Letter, the weekly Longreads article round-up, and LitHub, to name three of my favorites.

It’s an embarrassment of riches, I tell you, one that I fell down the rabbit hole of for 7 hours yesterday.

Here are some of the best things I read during that reading binge:

This beautiful essay by author and co-owner of Emily Books, Emily Gould, on the financial costs of writing her first book:

How Much My Novel Cost Me 

This essay in which writer Leslie Jamison talks about her work as a “medical actor.” The word fascinating was made to describe work like this. Mesmerizing and gorgeously written.

The Empathy Exams 

From the afore-mentioned Longreads, this essay by Susannah Felts on her hometown of Nashville, and her impressions of the city’s changes during the many years she was away.

Girlhood Gone: Notes from the New Nashville 

Pretty much everything on writer Mishka Shubaly’s blog, but especially this post on his anniversary of being five years sober, where he shares honestly what it’s like to be sober after a long drinking career, saying, “Yeah, I’m sober and I have a pretty decent handle on the whole ‘not drinking’ thing, but I’m still angry and depressed and resentful and irritable and insecure and self-loathing and anti-social and neurotic and detail-obsessed and high-strung.”

Five Years Sober 

And finally, this wonderful piece I came across on Medium, by comedian and author Sara Benincasa. Very relevant for us creative types who sometimes wish we could practice our art of choice as our full-time job.

Real Artists Have Day Jobs: Your job is just your side gig. 

Happy reading!

 

 

 

On “Rejection” and Staying Loyal to Your True Goals

{FYI, the posts in this category, “A Possible Theory of Happiness,” started in August 2016, will have nothing to do with copywriting or web marketing advice. There’s lots of that kind of content in my archives and through my email list, which you can sign up for on the Free Resources page. I still offer copywriting and marketing services to creatives, which you can find out about on my Work with Me page.}

Recently as I’ve been making plans to move back to my hometown of Greensboro, NC, I’ve been thinking long and hard about getting a j-o-b once I get there.

Now that might seem a little crazy, since I’ve been happily self-employed for 5+ years now, frequently talk here on the blog about the benefits of self-employment and calling your own shots in your work life, and generally extol the virtues of not working for “the man.” And then there’s that whole pesky issue of feeling trapped like a rat in a cage when I participate in the good old-fashioned 9-5 life.

But when I think about doubling down on my writing goals, I sometimes think having a solid, reliable job, with a solid, reliable bi-weekly income, would better serve my writing goals & dreams than the self-employed lifestyle does. Something with more “regular” hours, so that I’m not working a 9-5 schedule, PLUS nights, weekends, and holidays on top of it, as I currently do.

And I think back to when I had jobs I actually loved (yes, there were a few), and how doing the 9-5 didn’t make me feel trapped or unhappy under those circumstances. How I loved having a “work family.” How I loved working together with colleagues on shared goals. And so on.

And, and this is no small thing, how comforting it can be to know how much income you’re going to earn each month, and exactly when it’s going to be coming in.  This relieves all kinds of stress that can then be spent worrying about why the writing you submit for publication continues to get rejected. (Actually? I’ve only submitted my work for publication once in my whole adult life; one of my biggest writing goals, and one of the reasons for this transition, is to get into the habit of submitting my work consistently.)

So recently I decided that I would, in fact, look for jobs in Greensboro, but that I would only consider jobs in fields I actually want to work in – things related to books, reading, publishing, magazines, newspapers, or possibly education – all things that light me up.

There would be no twisting myself into knots to create a resume or prep for an interview for a job that sounded great on paper, but that wasn’t in my wheelhouse of past experience and skills and/or in line with my passions.

So what did I do?

I created a resume and prepped for an interview – hours and hours over the course of one weekend it took me to do these things – for a job I probably had no business going out for, one that wasn’t in any way, shape or form in any of the preferred fields mentioned above.

This was a job at a recruiting company. One that got glowing reviews from a friend of a friend who works there, and L-O-V-E-S her job and her colleagues.  They are taking on new staff as they get ready to grow the company; a hometown friend had sent me the job posting. I sent a resume. I had a preliminary phone interview, then was asked to do a one-way video interview.

A few days after that, I got the obligatory euphemistic email saying that while my experience was “notable,” they’ve “elected to pursue other candidates,” AKA, “you’re not at all the kind of candidate we’re looking for, and by the way, your fears about looking terrible on video are actually true – you do look terrible on video. In fact, your very large forehead terrifies us.”

I was disappointed. I felt deflated. Sad, even. If offered the job, I would have taken it, and gone out of my way to bring 110% to the table and do a kick-butt job. Because I don’t half-ass things.

The disappointment lasted for about 10 minutes. Then I reminded myself that in my heart of hearts, I knew that job wasn’t really for me. Not really and truly. I wanted it yes. If not, I wouldn’t have sent the resume, or been so excited at the prospect of the initial interview, or prepped so much for the video interview.

Still. I fully believe the saying, “Rejection is God’s protection.”

That job wasn’t for me. And in the long run, I know it’s best I didn’t get it.

So I need to ask myself, why I would put myself up for a job that’s not in line with my true goals? Why would I go back on my promise to myself – if I’m going to seek full-time work at all – to only apply for things that I’m really right for, things that will bring me joy and make use of my skills, gifts and abilities, that will also bring value to the company I’m working for and the job I’m doing for them?

Why would I choose to be disloyal to my goals that way, and not honor what I say I want?

I don’t have the answer, really, except to say that that job, if it had worked out, would have offered the stability I’m seeking right now, and that stability would have allowed me to double down on some of my other goals in a way I don’t feel fully able to do right now.

And if that’s the only reason I wanted that job (it’s not, but let’s just say it was), then that’s the wrong reason to have pursued it.

[Important Note: Whether I end up getting a job when I get back to Greensboro or not, I’m still going to be taking on copywriting and marketing clients as I always have, I’ll just have a smaller bandwidth of availability to do so. I don’t plan to give up my copywriting business, because I love it; it may just have to be a part-time thing for the foreseeable future. So if you need copywriting or web marketing help for your creative business, don’t hesitate to reach out.]

Some Things I Will Do Today to Feel Happy/Productive/Successful/Joyful/Fulfilled

{FYI, the posts in this category, “A Possible Theory of Happiness,” started in August 2016, will have nothing to do with copywriting or web marketing advice. There’s lots of that kind of content in my archives and through my email list, which you can sign up for on the Free Resources page. I still offer copywriting and marketing services to creatives, which you can find out about on my Work with Me page.}

One morning a few weeks ago, I sat down and made a list in my journal of things I was going to do that day to lift my spirits.

I’d had a few challenging weeks, and this Death by a Thousand Cuts period was well and truly stealing my joy.

But I knew if I really thought about it, there were things I could do, however small, that would help me feel more joyful and positive. Naturally, my OCD brain told me to make a list.

On this list were things like:

:: Exercise

:: Meditate

:: Call a friend

:: Get some work done

:: Watch or read something funny

As I remember, I put about 8 things on my list that day.

At the end of the day, I went back to my journal entry and checked off all the things I had done, which turned out to be 6 of the 8.

And did I feel better? Did I feel more joyful, more positive, happier?

Why yes, yes, indeed I did.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

This morning it occurred to me I wanted to do the same thing.

I’ve had the blues for a minute (and by minute, I mean a few week/months), but yesterday I felt positively giddy. I didn’t feel that way when I woke up, but by 6:00 pm, it was like I was “old Kimberly” again – feeling happy, acting goofy and silly, and looking forward to client work, my personal writing projects, and my upcoming move back to Greensboro, NC, among other things.

What caused this elation, I wondered?

I went back over my day to suss out what it could be that made me feel so joyful, and as expected, it was a combination of the “little things.”

I had taken a 20-minute walk, made progress on several client writing projects, emailed with a friend, sent a resume for a possible job in Greensboro, prayed and meditated, read for pleasure, worked on a personal writing project, and read The Onion for a few gut laughs.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Here’s my list for today (I’ll come back at the end of the day today, or sometime tomorrow, and check off what I did.):

:: Work for 6-7 hours

:: Get outside for a minimum of 20 minutes

:: Work on a personal writing project

:: Pay a bill or two

:: Meditation & Prayer

:: Begin a research doc for other Greensboro businesses/companies I want to send a resume to

:: Do something nice for someone else:  pay a compliment, send a text, make a call or send an email offering support and/or encouragement

:: Watch or read something funny

:: Clean/organize/toss stuff to get ready for move to Greensboro

:: Read for pleasure

:: Look at Greensboro apartments on craigslist

And now I’m off to knock out the things on the list!

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

P.M. Update:

It’s now 8:15 p.m., so how’d I do today?

Of the 11 things on the list, I completed the following 8. Not too shabby.

:: Work for 6-7 hours — Worked for 7.5 hours

:: Get outside for a minimum of 20 minutes — Took a 40 minute walk

:: Work on a personal writing project — Wrote this blog post, and worked on a short story in progress (any writing outside of client writing projects “counts”)

:: Pay a bill or two — Made a credit card payment

:: Meditation & Prayer — Both done

:: Watch or read something funny — Actually haven’t done this yet, but it’s only 8:15 pm, so I know I will before the night is over

:: Read for pleasure — Done. Read a short story in The New Yorker by Curtis Sittenfeld; plus a few articles on The Millions, Publisher’s Weekly and Lit Hub.

:: Look at Greensboro apartments on craigslist — Done!

Feelin’ good. Now it’s Miller time. Or in my case, Newcastle Brown Ale time.

Happy Trails, fellow happiness seekers! 

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

If you want to keep up with this series of blog posts, A Possible Theory of Happiness, feel free to sign up for “The Note,” an occasional newsletter on topics not related to copywriting and marketing. I’ll send updates related to this series there.

 

 

“Damned is the Man Who Abandons Himself”

{FYI, the posts in this category, “A Possible Theory of Happiness,” started in August 2016, will have nothing to do with copywriting or web marketing advice. There’s lots of that kind of content in my archives and through my email list, which you can sign up for on the Free Resources page. I still offer copywriting and marketing services to creatives, which you can find out about on my Work with Me page.}

I first saw this SuperSoul Short, called “The Conditioned,” on Sunday 08.14.16, and watched it again half a dozen times over the next few days. I can’t get it out of my mind or my heart.

It’s the story of a poet, Raimundo, who lived on the streets of Brazil for over 30 years, and still managed to write every day.

Can you imagine? Being homeless, and still writing every day.

Most of us don’t have anything near that kind of obstacle to creating our art or doing our beloved work. And yet many of us make a mountain of excuses for why we can’t create, or improve our craft, or do the thing that brings us the most alive. I have made these same excuses myself, many, many times, I’m ashamed to say.

This is one of Raimundo’s poems:

“Damned is the man who abandons himself.” Those six words show that the worse the situation is, never, ever should a man consider it lost.

I hope you’ll watch this video. Raimundo’s story is a beautiful testament the power of art and its ability to nourish the human spirit, even in the most despairing of circumstances.

And there’s a very happy ending to Raimundo’s story. Check out the video to find out what it is.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

If you want to keep up with this series of blog posts, A Possible Theory of Happiness, feel free to sign up for “The Note,” an occasional newsletter on topics not related to copywriting and marketing. I’ll send updates related to this series there.