Happy New Year – here’s your fireworks
You know what drives me nuts?
Freelancer groups on Facebook.
They make me crazy sometimes… because they could be such a place of hope and inspiration.
And what I see, more often than not, is an angry pitchfork mob.
One could argue that it’s just kinda the norm on social media.
But look… I don’t care what bill of goods you’ve been sold. Anyone who’s ever created anything worthwhile, or built a business they’re proud of… NONE of them did it alone.
None of them stormed out of the womb, machine guns blazing (although I love that as a mental image), marched off to the woods, procured a typewriter, and drafted their magnum opus.
Along the way, each of us has had caring and support from various friends, family members, colleagues, peers, and mentors.
So sometimes I get confused by this mentality of “I can do it myself”.
- That automatically creates a divide… you vs. the world.
- It puts pressure on you to perform to absurd (and potentially impossible) standards.
- It prevents you from actually PARTNERING with clients and colleagues.
Take a look at those three points.
REALLY look at them.
It’s such a subtle thing but it can wreck your entire career if you let it.
At the root of all your work is going to be COLLABORATION. And PARTNERSHIP.
How the hell are you going to collaborate or partner effectively if you think you can do it all yourself?
You can’t own 100% of the conversation or the project (even if you work for yourself, because then you’ve got customers to deal with unless you’re the aforementioned Rambo baby living solo in the woods).
You MUST accept that there are other people involved, and that their input is as valid as yours (ESPECIALLY if they’re paying you money).
This brings me back to the original inspiration for my little rant… freelancer groups on Facebook.
It’s tricky because on the surface they look like the perfect place to get support.
In reality, most of them are giant echo chambers.
So a writer goes in with a question to the effect of:
- is this person trying to rip me off?
- check out this idiotic client and their ridiculous ask!
- take a look at this stupid job listing… don’t they know their rates are pathetic?
And then the mob comes out of the woodwork to convince the writer that they’re absolutely right… that guy’s totally fucking you over!
The funny thing about hearing one side of the story is it’s often edited to make the story teller look more innocent than they might really be.
And here’s something else you might not have thought about when you’re feeling all righteous about tearing those asshole clients a new one on Facebook…
Clients come in all kinds of different forms. Some of us even masquerade as other copywriters.
I see you in one of those groups posting all kinds of ranty shit about how awful and stupid clients are, and you can kiss any connection I might have made for you goodbye.
You not only affect my reputation with that kind of garbage thinking… you affect the industry as a whole.
So what, you think a job offer is pathetic?
Move on. Don’t waste time lecturing the job poster.
- they may not be the one responsible for setting the rates
- if it’s not for you, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for everyone
I love seeing people go off on a tear about how low rate job offerings are bringing down the industry.
I call bullshit.
No low paying job has ever affected the amount of money I personally am able to bring in.
You know what really brings down the industry and gives copywriters a poor image in the eyes of clients?
Folks constantly bitching online about how stupid clients are and how difficult they are to work with.
Look… I’m not saying I don’t bitch. But you can damn well be sure I don’t do it in a venue where my comments can be screencapped and potentially get back to my clients.
I don’t ever want one moment of frustration to taint the relationships I have with folks.
And that brings me to my main point.
Your fellow writers? They’re people.
Your clients? They are ALSO PEOPLE.
People fuck up. People get emotional. People miscommunicate. Or they have a shitty day and take it out on the wrong person.
Giving people grace for being people will get you a hell of a lot further than bitching at them for fucking up (or a perceived fuck-up).
What if, instead of getting all fired up in the Facebook echo chamber over every perceived slight…
… we made it a practice to talk to the PEOPLE we have the issue with?
I promise, if you can post a question griping about someone online, you can also ask that question to that person.
There’s a neutral way to do it that won’t start a flame war. It’s all in how you frame it.
“Hey Mr. Client Man,
I saw X request and it made me think Y thing. Are we having a miscommunication? Can we hop on the phone and figure out how to move forward?
The winningest freelancer ever”
You be the adult in the room, even when others are melting down spectacularly, and you will build an amazing reputation.
Trust me… clients talk to copywriters and vice versa. They ask around about writers and look for referrals.
You have a reputation if you’ve been in the industry for any amount of time, whether you intentionally created it or not.
The question is… what are you known for?
Flying off the handle at every perceived slight?
Or being a pleasure to work with?
Food for thought.
If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.