Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Presented to 40+ People at Networking on Lakewood Today -- Fun Fun Fun!

In what is at least some kind of mini-miracle, I talked about copy writing for eight minutes at noon today in front of more than 40 people at Networking in Lakewood, James Fowler's group that takes place at the YMCA. 

I must have been on auto-pilot (or semi-hysterical) because I only remember one or two things I said during the entire time... one of which got a big laugh (which I intended, thank God!). The real miracle is that I don't remember being scared--not even a little bit, although certainly I must have been! I'm usually miserable when the center of attention at large gatherings. I'm MUCH better one-to-one (but even then I'm not comfortable; I've just learned to cope! It wears me out to interact with people. Gregarious people love it; we shy types usually go along to get along and hope no one notices how out of place and "fish out of water" we feel!)

It all happened so fast that I didn't have time to get scared or even to organize my thoughts--but after it was all over, several people came over to say I did GREAT--and I could tell they meant it!  Some of them even reiterated on the NIL Facebook page later in the day (by LIKING one gal's comment) that I did well, putting their own names and integrity on the line while doing so!

It blows me away.  I usually stew over presentations for days or weeks before I feel "ready". Maybe it's because I know almost everyone there after all this time... and because I feel absolutely confident when it comes to copy writing tips and tricks after five years of writing copy as a full-time profession. 

Whatever the reason(s),   the presentation didn't  feel threatening at all...even though, had I messed up royally, I would probably NEVER get a writing gig from any of the 40+ people there! (Had I thought about that beforehand, I might have become catatonic and been unable to speak at all!)

Anyway... eight minutes is waaaayyyy too short a time to share much about copy writing, so I'm going to offer a free 30 minute or 60 minute class in a month or so.  A number of people told me they want to hear and learn more.  

Today's handout was nine pages (five of which were "do later" homework for those who want to); my actual copy writing crash course is 32 pages long! It would be fun to try it out live before I offer it for sale to the public.  It'll give me an opportunity to receive feedback and see if there's anything I left out that I should include...

Oh!  But I'm sure you want to hear about the line that got the laugh!

I was talking about how writing great copy requires cadence and rhythm so that a sort of "hypnotic" effect sets in.  I said, "Adding a lot of links or exit points to the home page confuses the issue and your visitor; knowing they're supposed to go somewhere else eventually keeps them rattled and from relaxing sufficiently to succumb to the mesmerizing effect that good copy should have on them.  So... instead of capturing their attention entirely, it's like this... You know the Beatles song, 'Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover...' ?  There's a story within the lyrics that seduces you and brings you along, almost against your will, isn't there?  Good copy writing should do that. But when there are a lot of links or exit points staring your visitor in the face, the effect is like this... (I began to sing): 'Something in the way she moves.... attracts me... SQUIRREL!' (said the same way that cartoon dog did)!

The roars that reverberated across the room were so joyous and delirious that they embarrassed me! I expected a laugh, but not one like THAT!   Twenty minutes later when Rebecca Joy stood up to speak, her first word was, "SQUIRREL!" and the roars reverberated again!

I got the point across, for sure!  It was memorable!  They won't forget what too many links and exit points do to a great piece of copy writing! That's for sure!

I have to come up with more analogies like that when I teach!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thank You For Making SETTLE FOR BEST #1 for Three Days Running!

I've been over the moon, basking in the early success of SETTLE FOR BEST: Satisfy the Winner You Were Born to Be at Amazon. This simply would not have been possible without those of you who ordered, LIKED and SHARED the debut announcement on Facebook, encouraging others to check it out... 


Thanks, too, to my publisher, Cheryl Haynes (Futureword.net), the most helpful, amazing, hard-working publisher on the planet. Cheryl has been instrumental in formatting and getting the world out about SETTLE FOR BEST. 

Special thanks to C. S. (Shon) Trent at Din Faction (dinfaction.com), who found the cover photo and designed the cover layout. All too often, a cover makes or breaks a title; in this case, the cover was instrumental, I believe, in making the title as compelling as it is. I'm asking Shon to design my copy writing business logo, too. He's brilliant...

It is also time to thank my publisher for the cover and layout of SERVAL SON, my previous title at Futureword; I knew the second I saw it that it was the only possible cover for the book.  The cover has sold the book all by itself: I carried it to a store one day to find mailing envelopes for it, and the lady at the cash register bought it from me on the strength of the cover alone! It blew me away--made me want to carry a copy everywhere I go (but I don't, of course)!

The creativity of the people I've surrounded myself with astonishes me. Without them, so few people would be picking up my books to give them a try that I'd still be considered a "hobbyist" writer.   (I suppose, to J.K. Rowling and other mega-blockbuster writers, I still am considered a hobbyist writer!!! It isn't as though I can retire on book residuals--not that I'd ever retire from writing, anyway. I'd have to drop dead to retire from writing!)

My copy writing business is staying just above the waterline, praise be to God. I've been at it for five years this year and have managed to stay afloat despite the "feast or famine" nature of the business.

I'm raising my rates, though. It's getting more expensive to live and I've started attending networking meetings to interact with local businessmen and women to earn their trust (up 'til now I've been a "virtual"copywriter to businesses all over the planet--everywhere except locally!), so that pursuit steals time from stringing words together at my keyboard. The networking contacts are beginning to bear fruit (I'm getting local work), so it's worth the time I spend away but, at the moment, there is more outlay than income to the networking process (it takes months of one-on-ones and lunch meetings to develop the kind of relationships one needs to garner full-throated referrals) so I have to compensate. 

Besides--let's face facts: To all intents and purposes, I've been under-pricing my services at the rate I've been charging when compared to other professional copywriters. Most pros charge between $1 and $3 per word (not a typo).  I charge $75/hour and can write upwards of 500 words an hour... so to say I've been under-pricing my services is quite the understatement!  It's goofy to try to stay afloat on such slim margins when the market will bear higher rates. I just have to get over the desire to be the savior of every last start-up small business that is trying to survive on a shoestring marketing budget. They get more than they pay for with me; they still will.  It will be a cold day in hell before I'll charge $1 to $3 per word unless my client is Time Warner, GE, CNN, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco or any of the major players who can well afford $3 per word!
(I have ghosted for a couple of CNN talking heads already. Would like to do more of it... 'cause I happen to adore the talking heads I've written for!)