Dumb Decisions, Smart Moves, Flaky People & Amazing New Clients: 2017 Year in Review + 2018 Business Changes

My last blog post for the year was going to be a meaty, lengthy post full of actionable advice about how to do your own website audit. Fairly simple changes you can implement on your own to increase conversions, client inquiries, customers, and closed business, all from your online presence.

I planned to share the exact step-by-step process I use when I do a site audit for my private clients – elements I review, changes I suggest, and key things to revise so the website begins to perform and convert better instantly.

Then I thought, Nooooo, why don’t I write one of those year in review posts errrrrybody seems to do this time of year? I mean sure, I despise clichés, and that kind of post falls squarely into the clichéd category, but what the H-E-double-hockeysticks? It’s what I feel like doing.

[By the way, I will be writing a post about how to do your own website in 1Q 2018.  Never fear.]

So, about 2017.

It’s no exaggeration to say this year was the most stressful, distressing, challenging and confounding year of my life, full stop. I can’t share the details publicly (I know, I know, I hate it when someone says, oh, this awful thing happened, oh, this terrible thing happened, but I can’t tell you what it was, la de dah. But it’s important to protect the privacy of the other actors, so I simply can’t).

Anyhoo . . .

Here are my 2017 highlights and lowlights.


A few lowlights:

:: The afore-mentioned chaos that I can’t really mention. It lasted for most of the year, and seriously compromised my ability to grow my business in any meaningful way. As an added bonus, my mental and physical health suffered too.

:: Doing far too many one-off projects for clients, and not enough larger, long-term client engagements. I loved the smaller projects I worked on in 2017, but juggling between 6-10+ projects & clients at once is simply too much. This changes in 2018. More on that below.

:: Flaky, non-serious potential clients who waste everyone’s time. These are people, for example, who reach out to inquire about working together, set up an initial call to discuss their project, then don’t show up for the call. I even had one guy flake out TWICE on this free call, then ask if he could reschedule for a third time. UM, HELL TO THE NO. No wonder the dude’s business is in the tanker. 

Side note: I love offering this free 20-30 minute “get acquainted call” to potential clients, because it helps me learn about their business, their goals, and the copywriting project they have in mind. And I have no problem if, after talking, the client decides not to work with me. That’s totally cool. But going forward in 2018, I may begin charging for this call.

:: Clients who don’t understand the fundamental difference between website copy (copy meant to inspire a particular action or set of actions and get very specific results), and airy-fairy brochure copy or other kinds of copy. Said client hires you to write their website because you’re an expert in website copy, but wants you to write hippy-dippy ineffective brochure copy for their website, that would be a total disaster on a website. And no amount of trying to explain why this won’t work, never has worked, and never will work, will change their mind. So frustrating.

:: I barely worked on my own writing in 2017 (writing that has nothing to do with my copywriting business). That changes in 2018. I have a novel, several essays, and other big-ish writing projects in progress, and in 2018 they’ll get much more attention.

A few highlights:

:: I got much clearer on my ideal clients and narrowed my niche. My focus now is less on beginners who are just starting to create a compelling online presence, and more on those who have been in business awhile. They are beyond the bootstrapping stage and ready to make a serious investment into copywriting and web marketing for their business.

:: I worked with some amazing people and businesses this year. I can’t list them all here because I haven’t asked their permission to do so, but (almost) each and every one was a total joy and a pleasure to work with.  

:: One of the most exciting projects I landed was with a group of commercial photographers in Canada. These guys are wildly talented, do incredible, cutting-edge work, and are probably the nicest guys on the planet. I’m currently writing their website, and looking forward to more projects with them once the website copy is finalized.  

:: I joined a terrific online business support group called Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends.  Created by Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project, this group is the best place online for kickass, real-world, results-getting business AND life advice. It’s unlike any other online group I’ve ever experienced.

:: I joined another excellent FB group at the tail-end of the year called The Copywriter Club, a group for copywriters and content creators only. After a couple hours spent reading through previous posts in the group, I can see the content is top-notch, and the group is full of superior quality copywriters and content creators. I’m going to love this group.

Before I get to the business changes I have planned for 2018, here are a few other highlights from my year, of the non-business-related variety.

:: Because I moved back to my hometown in late 2016, I got to spend lots more time with my family this year, and with dear friends I’ve known so long they feel like family. This was one of the true highlights of 2017.

:: I discovered the comedian Maria Bamford, and the show Lady Dynamite, on Netflix. I am obsessed with this show. I’m pretty sure it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched both seasons of the show, along with both of her comedy specials currently on Netflix, TWICE. Damn, she’s funny, and different, and quirky, and owns it.

Watch this one hilarious clip, then do yourself a solid and watch her material on Netflix if you have an opportunity. So, so good.

:: I found a great church that feels like home, and have been attending since December 2016. This is a HUGE deal for me, as I haven’t gone to church regularly since I was a little, little kid.

:: I did a 5K in December 2017 called Running of the Balls. Ok, I walked the 5K, together with a group of friends with who also walked it, but still. It was the most fun I’ve ever had outdoors on a Saturday night in 30-degree weather!

[I’m in the second row, sporting the candy-cane headwear. 🙂 ]

:: I went to some wonderful author events this year: David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and Wiley Cash. Each one was a gem.

Here’s how David Sedaris signed my book [LOVE it]:

:: I read some great books this year, among them:


The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers, by Terry McDonnell

Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, by Larry Brooks

Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts, by Ryan Holiday

Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, by David Sedaris

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, etc., by David Sedaris

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life, by Pat Conroy

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing, by Jennifer Weiner

The New Old Me, by Meredith Maran

Lust and Wonder, by Augusten Burroughs


Siracusa, by Delia Ephron

Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane

Now, onto the Business Changes

I’ll still be writing client-attracting and results-generating website copy and other persuasive marketing communications for creative business builders, and offering web marketing consulting for select clients.

But other things are going the way of the Dodo bird.

The biggest shift is that I’ll be doing far less one-off project work, and working on larger copywriting projects & longer-term client engagements.

:: This means, in effect, that I’ll no longer be available to write single pages of website copy for clients. For example, writing a single About page, or Home page, or Services page, or other single stand-alone page of website copy, etc., except under special circumstances,* has gone away forever.

(*Special circumstances being either: we’ve previously worked together, in which case you get special privileges, OR, I just happen to have an unexpected opening in my project schedule for a one-page copy project, which is rare.)

:: The other immediate change is that the investment for my Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session increased from $97 to $197 as of January 1, 2018. This service is for you if you need a customized-for-you answer to your top copywriting challenges, and clear ideas for improving your website copy ASAP to more effectively call in and convert your ideal clients. The Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session is You + Me + a One Hour Private Workshop to address your most pressing web copy challenges right now.

:: In 1Q 2018, I’ll be launching a beta version of my course for wedding, portrait and lifestyle photographers, 30 Days to a Magnetic Marketing Message That Sells. Based on the feedback from the beta, I’ll release an “official” version of the course later in the year.

That’s about it for now.

I’ll be launching new services in 2018, but I haven’t worked out all the details yet. I also plan to create some copywriting resources for the DIY-ers out there who want to write their own copy, and just need detailed copy templates to get going. New free downloads, including an e-course on how to determine your ideal clients and unique selling proposition, or “meaningful difference,” as I like to call it, are also in the works.

I hope you also have plans and projects you’re excited about! 🙂

Here’s to a most excellent and magical 2018, in which all your business (and other!) dreams come true!

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