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There are times when I surprise myself–I mean really, really surprise myself–as a professional writer. I wish I could be more specific here and give you details and even brief excerpts, but the client I’m serving asked me to sign an NDA (a Non-Disclosure Agreement) so I have to keep under my hat all aspects that might identify this nationally-renowned organization.
Pity. I sooooooo wish I could tout my association with this company to the moon and back! I love it; I have been a beneficiary of its mission ever since grade school (and so have you, probably); its existence, then and now, has continued to abundantly bless me–and probably you and your children and grandchildren as well.
But perhaps it’s enough to say that I took a bullet list of talking points sent to me by the executive assistant of the president of this company and turned them into a year-end letter to the company’s employees. It took me about fifteen minutes to fashion the first draft and another twenty five or so to make it stellar (but I just charged for 30 minutes because of the blessing they’ve been to the nation for decades).
I thought the result of my laser-like efforts was awfully good; certainly more than sufficient to offer as the “first submitted draft” for the executive’s assistant’s and president’s review. The response I got back from the executive assistant confirmed this: “This is lovely! Thank you!!” So it was a done deal and they were satisfied. YAY!
But it was while I was re-reading it this morning from a truly objective viewpoint (not as its author but as its ‘recipient’) that I realized how great it really is. I knew when I sent it that I could claim it as my own (that I wouldn’t be embarrassed had it gone out under my own signature), but I really had no idea that I would get goosebumps and a tear in my eye this morning when I read it again! I mean, that just doesn’t happen every day!!!
It isn’t often that I knock my own socks off, because I expect good: I expect to exceed the expectations of my clients; but rarely do I exceed MY expectations. (I expect to exceed my own expectations about as often as any other artist –which is “next door to never“)!
So to say “I’m happy” with the result is underplaying my emotion by a bunch. I wish I could exactly feel this way about every piece I write for clients. But if I could do that, I’d have to have a keyboard connected to heaven instead of to my all-too-human fingertips.
But when something super-satisfying like this happens, I know without a doubt, that my muse has divine connections. I’ve always known that. To take total credit for this kind of result on my merits along would be unforgivable arrogance.
I love words. God produced my brain and its love of words.
“In the beginning was the word.”
Words create our worlds. We use them (wisely or unwisely, artfully or not) to build or to destroy, to elevate orto subjugate, to aspire or to vegetate, to inspire and energize or bring people to a standstill.
I’m immensely grateful that I love words so. And I’m grateful that others understand the immense value of powerful writing. Without those folks, I’d be in a world of hurt because I make my living stringing words together to best effect.
Wordsmith the perfect profession for me…
Catch the wave here: http://yellowballoonpublications.com/
Well, THIS amazing message from Thumbtack came right out of the blue!
Although I don’t live in New York, I write for New Yorkers and for other clients around the world.
Now I wonder where I rank here in my home state of Washington? Guess I’ll inquire at Thumbtack! (I sure hope the inquiry doesn’t get me kicked off the list for New York!)
This is quite the accolade…as I’m sure there are scores, if not hundreds, of capable freelance copywriters in New York. To be singled out without even entering a contest just makes this that much more gratifying…
Thank you, Thumbtack, for the award!
If you’re a copywriter that uses any of the myriad online freelance websites to find clients (Upwork/Elance/oDesk, Guru, fiverr, Thumbtack, Freelancer.com, etc.), it’s important to be sure the people you serve leave feedback for you after you’ve thrilled them to their toes.
Because I’ve left the freelance sites (for the most part) for the past year or so to concentrate on getting prospective clients to me direct so I don’t have to pay the exorbitant /members’/finders’/percentage fees that so many online freelance sites require, I just noticed tonight that my ranking and ratings are dropping at the site I used most for the past eight years, not because the few clients I’ve served this year from that site are unhappy or dissatisfied–they all have thanked me profusely–but because they failed to leave feedback for me on the sites.
I simply wasn’t paying attention as to whether they were leaving feedback when prompted by the site’s automatic system, so I was pretty astounded to see that my ratings fell from 99% and 98% “would recommend” to about 77%. ACK!!!
When I inquired at the site, they told me that the dearth of client feedback is what led to the lowering of my ranking. So even if a client is deliriously happy with what you do for him or her, be sure you get feedback on the site–not just in a private message to you! Otherwise some sites will downgrade you to far less than you deserve.
I’m pretty disgusted by this sad, unfair state of affairs, but it is what it is. So be aware and be sure you always get official feedback from your clients–feedback that gets posted in your Job History at the sites you use.
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Copywriters, here’s the difference between the two above terms.
A person relaying misinformation usually innocently believes that the information he is giving is correct information.
A person relaying disinformation knows that the information he is giving is deceptive in one or more ways.
Examples of each:
Misinformation: “Seattle is only about twenty miles north of here” the Texan (mistakenly) told his driver as they reached the outskirts of Olympia, Washington.
Disinformation: “Now that marriage equality has been made the law of the land by the Supreme Court of the United States, the next thing we can expect is that pedophiles will be granted the right to marry children” (conflating consensual same-sex adult marital commitment with illegal practices that subjugate children).
As a copywriter, you need to make sure that what you write is neither misinformation or disinformation. Whatever you are asked by a client to claim about their product, service or cause needs to be measurable and document-able; the Federal Trade Commission casts a critical eye on misleading, unsubstantiated claims (as should political and religious talking heads, but they aren’t regulated in the same way as copywriters and business owners who market their products and services) and they have the legal authority to back it up with heavy fines and jail sentences.
Make sure that what your clients are asking you to claim can be backed up before you agree to write it. Your reputation can be destroyed by unscrupulous charlatans. Don’t repeat or tell/sell falsehoods, no matter how much someone is willing to pay you to do it. You need to be able to sleep at night.
.You know the claims I mean:
“This is the greatest invention since…”
“The best in the business…”
“Nobody does it better…”
“Sleep better all night long from now on.”
“World-class…” (There are actual standards that a product or service must meet or exceed to be deemed truly world-class; this is not just a generic catch phrase. Example: Lance Armstrong was considered world-class until he admitted having cheated his way to the biking championships he was awarded.)
That said, if a client of your client makes a remarkable claim about a product or service in a testimonial–for example, “[In my opinion] she’s the best insurance/real estate agent in Tacoma”–it’s okay to use it as one client’s subjective opinion in a testimonial, because it’s recognized by readers as an opinion, not as a documented fact.
Testimonials are usually more convincing when combined with measured, positive, accurate copy writing. Good copy writing is compelling and engaging, but it must never willfully mislead and it should under-promise (at least a little) to make sure that the client you’re writing about can over-deliver (exceed expectations), thereby creating happy clients and ‘viral sneezers‘ (devoted, loyal fans) who will write them fabulous testimonials…
As a copywriter, your job is to get people in the door. It’s your clients’ jobs to greet them and hang onto them. They do that by delivering more than what you promised they would in a way that creates fond bonds and loyalty. “Know, Like, Trust” has to happen at every step, or the magic will never happen.
Here’s additional helpful information about the use of endorsements/testimonials straight from the horse’s mouth (the Federal Trade Commission):
If you want to hire me (as opposed to learning about how to write copy), you’ll want to visit the new site at hireme.wordwhisperer.net.