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.
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.
The Face2Face groups that I belong to are just getting better and better. The attendees are all in for the right reasons. We’re getting to know each other and establish fond bonds.
Today at the Spanaway meeting I received an unexpected–and enormously pleasant–critique of my writing skills and the way I present myself. From two people, not just one. (I think maybe it was “Acknowledge Kris Day” because I was the only woman in attendance.)
Dennis Willis, the leader of this particular F2F group, told those in attendance about the first time he met me and what he thought immediately after sitting down for a brief one-to-one with me.
Paraphrasing: “I was so impressed by the way you presented yourself, by your confidence and your enthusiasm for what you do, and by the enormous value of the information and insights you shared in such a short time. I had no real idea what a copywriter does or about the many different ways you can help business owners.”
Then he said that when Bill Lee gave him a copy of my book (Settle for Best) to welcome him to the Face2Face team, he was expecting to read something that would be more or less academic but that he was delighted to discover how much fun and easy to read it was. “It was just like sitting across the table with you for a one-to-one!”
(Music to my ears! That’s exactly what I’m aiming for when I put fingers to keyboard–establishing a relationship, a fond bond!)
Next Bill Lee chimed in to say that he first ran across me in an online video several weeks before we met. Then, when he attended Face2Face, he mentioned to the person sitting next to him that he was looking for a good copywriter. The person he asked motioned in my direction and said, “That’s Kris. She’s a copywriter!” As soon as he looked in my direction again, he recognized me as the person he’d seen in the video.
He told us (paraphrasing again), “I just didn’t connect the dots because in person you seem just like a regular person! On that video, you came across like a [Madison Avenue] professional!”
I laughed, and then worried a little, so he clarified (paraphrasing), “I mean, you come across as professional in person, too, but you also come across like a down-to-earth, friendly person!”
Now I’m wondering if I come across in a video like anything less than a down-to-earth, friendly person….
Gotta work on that some more, if I don’t!
Self-improvement never ends, does it? But I’m okay with that. I want to improve right up until shortly before they start shoveling dirt on me!
Lisa Twining Taylor (DancingGoatWebDesign.com) and I are in the final stages of getting my sub domain ready to roll out so that people who are looking for a reputable copywriter can go straight to it instead of coming here. The new site will document my services, writing chops, and client testimonials . It’ll have a portfolio page so people can visit sites I’ve written the copy for, read press releases I’ve written, watch videos I’ve written the scripts for, etc. So I’m excited!
We’ve chosen the theme and the home page background photo. I’ve written all of the copy for each page. I think I’ll be able to announce its URL and launch it this week…
The sub domain will have a blog on it, too, explaining (among other things) how to identify a great copywriter, why great content/copy (including spelling, grammar and punctuation) matters, and other informational topics that help business owners and entrepreneurs make great hiring decisions.
This means, of course, that I’ll be dividing my rare, spare time between the blogs that each site requires.
I think that, instead of posting much more here, I’ll compile the info and offer my insights via affordable white papers, e-books and other venues so newbie copywriters can get a running head start and won’t be shooting yourselves and your clients in the foot while you’re climbing the learning curve and becoming more competent.
Small business is the backbone of our country and our economy. This is why I’m on a crusade to help business owners and newbie copywriters like you survive and thrive. But it won’t happen unless both parties understand what’s expected of them and actually deliver what they promise (or better):
You don’t create raving fans and loyalists by failing to measure up–or even by measuring up. You’re in competition, so aim to thrill your clients/customers (and potential clients/customers) or you’ll always be end up standing outside the winner’s circle.
I hate to see small businesses failing left and right.But when I look at their marketing outreach, I can easily understand why they’re failing.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
The bottom line for copywriters: If you aren’t making your customers a helluva lot more money than you’re charging them (via ROI), please stop calling yourself a professional copywriter and admit what you really are: a newbie or a wannabe who must commit (or re-commit), with all deliberate speed, to getting measurably/decidedly better than you are right now
Are you IN… or out? Let me hear from you as soon as you read this if you’re IN. If I don’t hear from you, please cancel your subscription so I can tell who’s with me for the long haul and whether I should continue this copy writing-as-a-career blog.
Also let me know what you’d like to learn that I haven’t already covered here. Those of you who are just arriving, start from blog #1 and read backward for the fastest way to get up-to-speed.
A lot of copywriters are shameless automatons: they will give you what you say you want instead of what you actually need.
This past week I’ve had two clients who were asking for the wrong things and would have gotten lackluster results(zero or seriously anemic) had I agreed to abide by their wishes.
In the first case, there was a fellow who insisted on a staid, anemic, neutered version of his biography even though it could have been a converter instead of a placeholder. He said he wanted a professional biography; by ‘professional’, I later learned, he meant the above-described staid, anemic, neutered version of his otherwise truly-compelling history!
And get this: his target audience for this particular “targeted bio” was school district administrators, just about the least staid, anemic, neutered population on the planet!
He liked my draft; wrote, “Looking good, Kris. I just have a couple of changes.” I made them.
Then he said, “I’ll run this by my partners for their input.”
Red flag! He hired me and liked what I wrote well enough to present it to his peeps. At that point, I had fulfilled my obligation to him in its entirety.
I never agree to write for committees at the basic prices I charge. If a client wants committee approval, my prices skyrocket!
Ask any professional copywriter; they’ll give the same response: “Because too few people on any committee ever appear to agree unanimously on anything, most especially the creative way in which something will be presented!”
My client was happy–until he heard from his partners. “Too chatty, too relational. Not professional enough.”
I reminded him that his target audience was relational.
Nevertheless, he wanted it rewritten because “nearly everyone finds fault with it .” (How many copywriters did he consult to reach this consensus?) So he took a stab at making it more palatable to himself before sending it back to me based on their input.
Result: it came out sounding like pablum. 75 to 80% of it was still mine, but its essence had been emasculated.
But fine… he was paying the bill. So I edited and enhanced what his committee had come up with.
And then they decided they just didn’t like it at all. Not really.
I still insisted that they pay me. I spent three hours dedicated to making sure his “case study” bio was going to hit his target audience squarely in the heart and head. He liked it at first (with just two minor changes) but then let his partners convince him that they knew better than I do about how to go about it!
Fine. He still needed to pay the bill. And he did. But then he tried to justify why he/they were right and I was wrong. I just laughed to myself. Ya can’t justify the unjustifiable.
I would love to see them split test the two iterations to see how different the result will be between the two, but they won’t do that. They’re convinced they’re right. They’re scared to appear human, involved and passionate. They’re Spock-ian. No insult to Spock, but only Vulcans resonate to staid,unapologetic logic. Human beings buy on emotion and justify on logic. There was no emotion in his committee’s final iteration; which is probably why they decided they didn’t like it after all and that it wasn’t working. Oh, my…
Cut off its balls and see how quickly its potency declines, folks!
It’s too bad… I have to feel sorry for him; otherwise, I’d be frustrated. He hired a professional to do right by him…and then discounted my years of experience and my ability to engage his audience in a way that would have them saying, “Yes! We absolutely need his patent-pending new product!”
In the second case (and this one is ongoing)…
I quoted on a PR project, aced it, and got paid. They immediately wanted me for a second project. But I noticed right away–while trying to pry the talking points for the first PR out of the office manager that I was dealing with—that she appeared clueless as to what her boss actually produced for his clients and why that was a good thing! She was giving me airy-fairy responses that had zero substance to them!
And she balked (at first) at completing my Content Questionnaire. Oh, she took a brief stab at it but left such vacuous responses to the very few questions she answered that they weren’t helpful. She said, “Your questionnaire is about a product or service. I want you to write about a person, my boss!’ (Her “product/service” is her boss. The CQ serves both functions perfectly!)
Their media kit is laughable; their website is so substandard that is has to be shooting them in the foot. (Luckily, she says it isn’t “live” yet… that is, she hasn’t pointed anyone to it yet. THAT’S A GOOD THING!!!)
She wanted me to write a second PR on their upcoming live conference, so I asked for talking points. She sent me the three speakers’ bios! That was it! “Here you go!” she wrote cheerfully!
I said, “No. Bios aren’t news-worthy. What I need to know is what topics they’ll be talking about and what will attendees’ ROI be? That is, what will attendees take away from the event that will convince them that the time they spent away from their businesses and loved ones was time well-rewarded? What EXPERIENCE will they have? What will they know or learn as a result of their time with you?”
That’s when it dawned on me that her boss has given her an assignment she doesn’t “get”.
She finally confessed to me, “We’re just starting this push. We don’t know what we’re doing.”
It’s clients like this one that can get taken to the cleaners by charlatans who will simply do whatever is wanted, no questions asked, without accepting their fiduciary responsibility to bring their clients up-to-speed so they don’t shoot themselves in the foot!
I let her know that I can counsel her and help but that it will add to the expense considerably. I can’t be educating her at the cost of one Press Release! (I spent about two hours, up to this point, educating her gratis without mentioning that I need to be paid to counsel my clients extensively!)
She asked what counseling will cost. I said, “$60/hour.” (A steal of a deal, by the way. Most consultants worth their salt get $250/hour with a guaranteed four hours a day.)
Dead silence. At least for now. I did point her to several helpful books that can bring her up to speed on what a press kit should be designed to do, what a PR should be designed to do, what a website must do to keep people on it for more than six seconds, and so on…
She needs to know these things if she’s going to be hiring providers to make them happen for her. She lucked onto me: I submitted a quote on her first project. Had she chosen someone else, would they have taken as good care of her?
Don’t leave it to chance. I know you don’t want to become a marketer, web designer, or copywriter but–for gosh sakes–at least familiarize yourself with the professionals you’ll be hiring so you don’t have to “pray as you go”…or you’ll end up “paying as you go” (in consult fees) to learn what you need to know before you sign on the bottom line and engage a professional.
About a year ago I was at a networking meeting. The moderator polled the group of some 35 people, asking them to write on a piece of paper what they know they needed to do for their business that they hadn’t been doing.
More than three quarters of the answers were “Marketing.”
It floored me. I offered to look at any marketing pieces they came up with for free… or to write their copy for them at a seriously-discounted rate because they were fellow networkers.
Two–count ’em–TWO!–people took me up on the offer. Both of them were MLM folks whose marketing was taken care of by someone else, so what they had was passable. Nothing spectacular, though, or terribly compelling. The copy was clear, spelled right, and grammatically correct. It was pleasant and proper. It was not powerful.
No one else had any marketing materials–or if they did, they were half sheets of hastily-typed announcements about specific upcoming events that they wanted others to attend. They had business cards. Some had websites. Most of the copy I saw was anemic and sub-standard.
I can’t–and don’t–twist arms. The vast majority of people that I do write for recommend me to others but, most of the time, I rarely hear from the people they try to send my way.
It’s enough to make me want to retire. Seriously!
Why in heaven’s name are so many of the small business owners and entrepreneurs I’ve met so freaking aimless? Or are they just so freaking broke that they can’t afford a copywriter who knows how to turn browsers into buyers?
Until they get off the dime, they will always struggle.
I’m just flabbergasted as to why they’d overlook enlisting others who can help their businesses grow! It’s like leaving piles of hundred dollar bills lying on the floor and not picking them up…
What’s stopping them from engaging? Can anyone offer any hints?
In Other News…
A new Face 2 Face group debuted in Spanaway at noon today. Four people showed up; a lot of others RSVP’d their apologies; they all had other commitments this week but say they’ll engage next week.
They really missed out. The four of us had a whee of a time. We talked politics–and found out we’re all pretty much on the same page in that realm. That helped us establish fond bonds fast. I don’t suppose that particular conversation will happen again when more people show up, but it’s good to know that the core group isn’t diametrically opposed to one another’s views and opinions, as is the case in some of the other networking groups I attend on a regular basis. It feels great to hang with kindred spirits whose hearts reach beyond their own circumstances and families to encompass the homeless, veterans, and other under-served populations.
I was out with the goats beyond the fence line for an hour or so this morning before the big, bad, drippy clouds rolled in. I hear we may get a wintry day sometime in the next 24 hours for about the third time in the Pacific NW this year , so I’ve super-duper filled the shed with fresh new straw for the goats. (The old straw was still fine so I just put the new atop the old. They’ve rarely been indoors since I mucked it out last time.)
I have such a good time with the goat babies. They eat for a while after they’re let into the great beyond and then , one by one, they come over and jump onto my lap for a snuggle and scratch. They’re so darned sweet I can hardly stand it. It’s going to be hard to let three of them go next month after mom goats wean them, but I have to. Even by extending their pasture, there isn’t enough land mass carrying capacity here on our property to feed more than about three small breed goats… maybe four… so I have to part company with some of this year’s brood. Candace Thompson wants three of them (Merrill, Rocky and Juliet) and I know she’ll be a terrific goat mom because she’s already a terrific sheep mom. Lisa Twining Taylor wants Romeo and perhaps Maggie. That will leave me with Jazzy, Tillie (Jackie’s favorite) and Mr. Tumnus.
The boys are all neutered now so the females are safe from indiscriminate breeding. I know Lisa plans to get a goat herd again (a milking herd) so we’ll always be able to go sit with and spoil her goat babies if we decide not to breed Jazzy and/or Tillie.
After the five are gone (sometime between May and September, probably) we’ll see if just three small breed goats can keep our greenbelt/pasture area free of blackberry bushes and other encroaching bushes, vines and trees. If not, then we’ll know it’s feasible to have one or two more…
I hope it is. I love baby goats. (I also love adult goats. Don’t get a critter if you don’t love them at all stages of life! That’s my mantra!)
I got some awesome news today. I was expecting to receive a monthly pension of about $73/month (lifetime annuity) from my time at a major motion picture studio . As it turns out , it will be $373/month! What a godsend!
Receiving it is still nearly a year away, as is Medicare, but I’m very excited to know it’s three hundred more per month than I anticipated. It will certainly make my retirement years less precarious.
If I wait until full retirement age (just under two years)–which I plan to do unless circumstances intervene to make waiting impossible–I’ll be getting $1,371/month from Social Security. That plus $373/month is almost $1,750/month…and Washington State doesn’t tax Social Security or pension payments. WOO HOO!
Truth is, I will probably keep working past full retirement age. (Why would I stop doing what I love because of a date on a calendar–especially since it took me 56 years to get into the career I’ve always wanted–writing for a living?) If I’m making enough without these retirement perks to wait until later to retire (say, age 70), my monthly Social Security payment will be $1,810/month. Add $373 to that and I’ll have about $550/week to live on. Not a lot, but a heckuva lot better than I was expecting!
Women make less than men do (seventy seven cents for every dollar men make in the same job, on average). Women live several years longer than men in general. I’ve always thought it unjust–if not downright criminal–to pay women less than men since we live longer. Add to that the fact that a lot of women (single and married) also come home (for almost two decades) after a day of work to tend to children who need help with homework, dinners, baths and other necessities, so they never do get much down time. All of the home chores are unpaid but mandatory.
It just seems unfair that women don’t get at least the same pay as men for the work they do outside the home. At the very least, equal pay for equal work (and let’s face it, on average, women are usually more productive in the workplace than their male counterparts, I’ve noticed, because we were taught and expected to produce tangible results on the home front and out and about from very early ages!)
I love the meme that’s going around that shows an African woman hard at work carrying water and branches to her home from miles away. The caption: “If hard work were all that’s required to get rich, every woman in Africa would be a multimillionaire.” So would a lot of women in every other country. The deck is stacked against women in every patriarchal system on the planet. But I hope not for much longer.
I probably won’t live to see the day when my Social Security and pension will be adjusted upward to compensate for the years I worked and earned less than men, but I hope Jackie’s granddaughters do … OR that they’ll be paid the same as men from the get-go when they enter the work force in just a few years. I know a law is in place to mandate equal pay for equal work, but since divulging one’s income is frowned upon in corporate settings, who the heck knows if it’s happening?
Transparency would be a good thing… (Good luck with that!)
OK. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
On April 21, Google will update its algorithm. Non-mobile-ready sites will be penalized; some will be removed entirely from Google’s mobile search index.
To make sure your site stays put or advances on April 21st:
In a nutshell, if a smartphone user can’t easily read and tap links on your website, Google will penalize it.
So if you’ve been enjoying lofty, enviable page rankings, you may well find your site plummeting significantly and your competitors sitting in the catbird seat. Make sure your site is responsive (that it automatically re-sizes itself to present on any mobile device without the user having to scroll back and forth to read it, see complete images, or tap a link).
Whoever adapts first to the new mobile-conscious algorithm change is most likely to smile on April 21st and thereafter.
Recommendation: I recommend Lisa Twining Taylor (DancingGoatWebDesign.com) if you need a responsive website built.
And just a word to the wise: In a vast majority of cases, it will cost a lot less to have a new, responsive website built than it will be to try to adapt a non-responsive site. You should be able to keep a lot of jingle in your jeans as a result of this tip.
Ya know, there are angels in my life. I’m not talking about heavenly angels here: I’m talking about earth angels.
Among them are Lisa Twining Taylor, Candace Thompson, Judson Forks, and Cleve Kingston. Also among them are Jim Westbrook, Ron Waterman, Brandon A. Cowles, (three fellows I haven’t even met–in person–yet!).
There are more. Near and far. But always as close to me as my heart.
The folks just mentioned always, always, always have my back. Sometimes they simply boost me when I’m feeling low. Sometimes they “viral sneeze” my stuff when I have an announcement, a campaign, or what-have-you. Sometimes they show up to lend a hand in other ways… in person or virtually.
Case in point (and I’m sorry I can’t offer specifics because I’ve been sworn to secrecy; good people don’t advertise their angel wings):
A couple of people have come to my rescue recently in seriously significant ways. So this afternoon I’m just sitting here counting my blessings.
I hope you have the kind of friends I do. I sincerely do. And I hope I will always be able show up to be the kind of friend when they need something, too…for as long as I live.
Thank you, my dear, dear friends, for everything you do that gives me a smile…or tears of gratitude. (Tears of gratitude have happened twice in just the past two days!)
I am truly blessed!!!
Spent a couple of fun hours last night with Rhonda Wilson, Lisa Twining Taylor and Heidi Smith while Rhonda cut our hair. I feel five pounds lighter and a whole lot more presentable! (Not quite as presentable as the Kris in the portrait behind me with Doctor McCoy, but those days are long gone!
Just before Rhonda cut my hair and put it up in clips, she soaked it in the sink. When I got to the chair, I essayed my finest Red Skelton impersonation by fluffing it out in god-awful angles and threatened to go into his “Gertrude and Heathcliff” seagull routine. I didn’t get very far. I lost my audience to gales of laughter just for striking the pose so I couldn’t continue… I broke up! (In that, too, I was just channeling Red Skelton. He often broke up when his audience did!)
We had a good time. Heidi told us that a bridal place in Lakewood has closed down and that it’s offering a lot of great stuff at bargain basement prices. It’s located in that little shopping center where the Goodwill Store is, not a stone’s throw (as I recall) from The Little Church on the Prairie (if I recall the name of the church right; it has been years since I lived in Lakewood). If you know where UPS/Kinko’s is, you’re in the right neighborhood.
Heidi has bought quite a lot of the bridal shop’s goods to re-purpose for her Christmas company. Her twin sister will be coming down from Canada soon to help her prepare for the Christmas rush by assembling all of the creative ideas they come up with. Their products truly are beautiful.
Heidi showed us how she created a horse head Christmas wreath (she had photos of the process on her cell phone). Lisa and I both said, almost at the same instant, “Do a Christmas goat wreath, too! There are so few places that have goat things and there are gazillions of goat lovers in our area!” So she’s going to see what she can do with that idea, too.
Heidi gave me a Taj Mahal of a cat scratching edifice that her husband built. I can’t wait for the cats to discover it. I’ll get some catnip to lace it with so they realize it’s for them and then it will probably segue from a work of art to a work of…cat claws!!! But the scratching part is replaceable, so that’s okay. That’s why it was created–for cats to scratch. It looks like it’ll last for a long, long time…
Rhonda’s husband, John of Big John’s Oil and Lube in Midland, came in shortly after Lisa and I arrived. He has lost 50 pounds and is a mere shadow of his former self. I told him he’s going to have to re-brand as “Tiny” if he keeps this up! But he won’t really need to re-brand. He has a big heart, big muscles and big talent as an auto repair guy, so Big John will still fit!
Not long after John got home, John Hall of American Family Insurance stopped by to see him. They disappeared into the bowels of the house and we never saw them again. (Big John might have been relieved to have an excuse to escape the hen party, for all I know–but he didn’t let on!)
Heidi headed home just about the time Lisa got into the chair. Lisa has thick, curly hair, which she hates (the curly part) (and we envy) so getting it cut strategically so it would behave ever after was Rhonda’s challenge last night. She did a magnificent job!
In Other News…
Yesterday at 723 Building Business I met the woman who is going to help me select my Medicare plan in December. Her name is Katheryn Evans of Strategic Sound Solutions, Inc. Her office is in Puyallup. I’m giving you her information because she is the full meal deal. She’s an insurance broker and financial adviser.
I was so impressed by Katheryn’s knowledge of the ins and outs of the various Medicare plans that are available here in Washington. She and I have already narrowed my options from a myriad to just three from the Original Medicare plan. I’m healthy (at least, right now–and have been all my life) so I don’t have to worry about expensive prescriptions and stuff like that.
I’m so excited that I’ll be able to go to someone who can explain (already has, pretty much, in fact!) without making my mind go crazy. I’ve been dreading the thought of having to analyze the dizzying array of options. I feared making a huge blunder because I just don’t know enough about Medicare, and don’t really want to take the time to become an expert on it before deciding. She was so straightforward and helpful. She handed out information that clarified so much for me. She’s amazing!
What else? Next week I’m going to be touring the Tacoma Rescue Mission (TRM) with Candace Thompson of Wild Child Group and Face2Face. The TRM is going to be the first non-profit that Face2Face throws a spotlight on. (They’ll choose and spotlight a local non-profit every three months.) I’ve already heard great things about TRM. People have gone from there into college–even to Harvard–and become doctors and other well-regarded professionals. I’ll find out more about this next week and share more. Maybe I’ll take some photos, too…
Guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print at this moment! Enjoy your day! If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours and see what happens!