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One of those weeks where a lot happens when you’re not looking December 10, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in Copy writing, writing.
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After the rush of Nanowrimo, it feels like I have not done much writing at all. I had to sit and think- what is it that I have done? And I am happily surprised to find that I have, indeed, done stuff!


Just in time for Christmas, I have a new business card and a new DL flyer to advertise myself. I would have liked these earlier, but the printer became ‘busy’. All this meant was I had to remind them that, while I am a friend, I am also a customer, and not having these two items is actually restricting my potential to trade. So, I did take a bit of a stand, and it produced results!

That was educational. This year I have discovered my voice, the line in the sand where I will not cross. I have discovered that I can stand up and bump chests with those who are sort of taking advantage of me. I am a laid back kind of guy, and it seems trying to go into business for yourself, you cannot be like that. I have had people I did work for tell me- no, you will charge me at your FULL rate. VALUE yourself! You did work for free, no, I asked you to charge me, so do it. So, I have good people pushing me forwards, and I am now learning myself to push myself forwards. Its business, not pleasure.

So, yes, side tracked there. Well, no not really. Valuing myself, and taking pride in my work, standing up for myself, they are all part of the BUSINESS of writing, which I am learning, STILL. wow.

I am glad I have got my business cards now. By pure coincidence (or was it) there is a networking meeting on Tuesday morning at another BNI Chapter. The guest speaker is Bernadette Schwerdt, the lady who is mentoring me through the 12 months of Dream Team 2011. So not only will I get a chance to meet her, but once she has told people how awesome copy writing is, I can then say- hey! I’m a copy writer! Here’s my card.

My novel? I am reading through it now, just making sure the flow is there, a few obvious typoes are gone. Then I will have a few people give it a good hard read through to find some other types of errors before I edit it for a Valentines Day release. I have spoken with my graphic designer friend about the cover, and she has agreed to do a full front & back cover AND to do an electronic version of my cover, with the words RELEASED ON VALENTINES DAY so I can post it online all over the place.

This is both fun, exciting, and extremely scary.


You put your write hand in…. October 2, 2011

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This blog was due to go up on Wednesday, but I held out until today. Why? Because I was told by my second client I had done work for that he would pay me on Friday. So I wanted to wait until today, check my bank and then say – I am now a paid freelance copywriter. No, it’s not much, it was a small job and I discounted the hourly rate a lot, but it was a job, we sat down, we talked, he told me what he wanted, I suggested some ideas, wrote them up and sent them to him. He discarded half of what I wrote, moved the text to where he wanted them, changed something I wrote and sent it back to me. I told him what he changed was not good because it repeated a key word which makes the word have less power.

I have yet to see the final product, but he was happy and he paid me. The above proceedings are typical client actions, I think. You need to be less precious about your work. You present, the client may not have got across to you their vision, and change it. Once you’ve handed the copy over and they say – I like it, it is theirs. You may see it in the future and wince, but it is no longer yours to concern yourself over. This is a lesson I am learning.

But yes, I have been paid, for a job, which I scored through the networking group. I am hoping there will be more soon.

I am still in a bit of a grey zone, however. I jumped right in, two feet first, not knowing how deep the water I was jumping into was. I left my job, felt empowered by this. Encouraged by many, supported by the most important, and off I went. I created a database, refined my templates, wrote some web copy, and joined a networking group.

Then it didn’t happen so very fast. I know, in the back of my mind i need to be patient. And I am, well I am trying to be. I had some money to live on. Paid for web hosting, the electric bill, the rent. Oh, not so much money now. Am I doing the right thing? Lets call some temp agencies for some fill-in work. Lets comb through job ads to see if there is something I can do, make some good money maybe?

But during the past week… I met with, composed and sent off that job.

I attended the induction meeting about how to sell yourself to the group, how to pare down all the noise about stuff and nonsense to know what it is you want to do, why you want to do it, and how to get it done. I became a member of the BNI Group, with a name tag and everything.

I met with another member from the networking group, a photographer. We chatted while he took my picture, all professional and studio shiny good. He handed me an A4 pamphlet which had been created for him, before a copywriter joined the group. He wasn’t too happy with the copy and asked me to re-write it. What would I do?

I then met with a couple who are printers, graphic designers, working in the digital and print design world. From the induction meeting a concept was shown to me – that of the power group. Find those industries which truly complement yours, and work with them. Printers are the next step along from a copywriter. Often someone goes to the printer and discovers they need to go back one step to get copywriting done first.

It was a great meeting, we talked business opportunities for each other, what I could do for them, for myself, what they could do for me. It was thrilling. It was a big moment, the moment where I shifted gears. Or, more like the moment I put the clutch to the floor in preparation of changing gears. I sense things are about to pick up, in a massive way.

And then I got paid….. shake it all about.

Creatively? It is now October. This is traditionally my month of Plotting and Planning for November. Did I do the full 30 days of world building? Nope. I got stuck on the map. Stupid map. But, I figured out currencies, government, evil organisation, that yes, I can have 2 suns for my world (thank you NASA), weather patterns, some divinity. So, I got some good stuff out of that exercise.

Now it is time to create the characters, the races, the monsters and wild animals. And the map… Now it is time to have major plot points, and link them. That is how I work. What major events I want, in chronological order. How I get from one to the other, I don’t mind, but getting there I will.

And I have to think of a title. I can think of hooks and shout outs in the advertising world. But a title for a novel? Tricky.

Like all good cakes, it takes time to bake September 21, 2011

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I hope that, unlike GLaDOS, this cake isn’t a lie.

My copywriting freelancing is growing, slowly. I am making connections and meeting people who are interested. Perhaps the cake simile might be replaced with fish nibbling at some bait but not actually taking it. But that has more references to trying to catch something, rather than creating something. Similes are important people!

I have created and completed one piece of work, a one page web page and an email to send to established clients. And just like the novel-writing creative side of myself, once i handed it in I went – oh darn I could have done that better. I could have used these words. I think this is a natural reaction for writers, and students who have just finished an exam. He liked what I produced, I just know what things I can do better next time. While I have been a writer for many years, I am new to the business of writing, and am learning.

Learning is good. I love to learn things. This means I am improving myself and increasing my knowledge of stuff.

So, this first client proposed a potential ongoing contract. Possibly a lot of ongoing work, which of course I am jumping at. I gave him a suggested way of doing business and he is chewing it over.

But since my last post I have had an offer for a potential monthly e-newsletter, a sort of job interview with a Business and Life Coach, Rodd Perrin. He runs Successful Business Life. The interview was good, he suggested some great ways for me to kick-start my business and myself, and in return he got to know me so he can refer me to people he knows need copy writing work. Another cake taking its time to bake.

I think I am liking this cake simile because it rhymes. Just saying.

And I have another client meeting this week to discuss further work potential. Things seem to be growing.

My biggest dilemma at this stage is, can I grow quick enough to a point where I can survive? At this stage I am trying to work to live, to get enough work coming in to pay the bills. All of the above shows it can be done, I just need to get there, else I may have to go back into the office.

Creatively? I started doing the 30 Days of World Building. This is a really good series of exercises to do. Thinking about climate and weather as plot points helped me clear a block I had in getting my protagonists out of the city and start the pursuit. Just because of weather! The problem I have with these exercises? I am now stuck on the map-making section, and its 21 days into the entire series! Oops. I also have to figure out important things such as politics, religion.

I have decided there is going to be a Royal Family, and hence the currency is going to be Crowns and Scepters, with possibly the big currency going to be some sort of reflection of the Royalty standard. I haven’t decided which animal or magical beast that will be yet.

I started creating the map with three landmasses colliding over geological time, and creating mountain ranges and such. I looked at the wind and weather patterns of our planet and modeled them on what I had created, and modified it for the mountain ranges. This is important to me considering that air ship rely on certain wind patterns in certain seasons. The less steam power you can use, and the more wind power you can use, the cheaper it is to fly, and the more profitable the trade route.

When October hits I will begin to create the characters of my story. I have created, in my head, some awesome characters, however I need to remember they are not the lead characters of my story. I need the story to be about that couple over there, not about the air ship crew, or the villains, or the industrial hierarchy. I must maintain control over MY story, rather than let the characters run away with THEIR story.

So, now I must get back to work, re-learning HTML and finding a good desktop publishing program, and to do some exercises, like a 2 page tourist brochure  for a fictional penguin island tour.

I have found my range from the foul line again. September 9, 2011

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I play basketball and I enjoy it quite a bit. Have been playing for over twenty years. This year I had a niggling shoulder injury, tendonitis. It was the tendon which controls lift and extension in my right arm – the basketball shooting action. Each time I shot the ball it hurt, basically. I received some physio work on my shoulder and this eventually freed my arm up, lessened the pain and I could play again. However, during the time of being injured I was compensating for my injury by changing my shot. When I came back my shots were off.

This week I finally found my range again. I hit my sweet jump shots from the foul line, the high post, which I am known for. 8 points. Still need to get back the courage to go smashy-smashy under the ring, but that will come.

A friend was trying to link me finding my shooting range again to something of a higher guide, showing me that I am about to find other things again, that I will be given success. And while I do like my friend dearly, they can be a bit esoteric, even for my tastes.

While I appreciate the sentiment, often the Universe does not just grant you things. You have to show commitment and work towards what you want, and then the Universe rewards you. I had work done to my shoulder, and then went shooting the basketball to get my rhythm back and hey presto, shots fall.

I left my regular employment three weeks ago. A LOT of friends congratulated me on this bold move, telling me it was a good move to leave a negative space and open myself up for possibilities. And while I agreed with their sentiments, I was not expecting riches and writing fame to drop from the sky into my lap. No, I would have to work for it.

For the past three weeks I have attended the Business Networks International business meeting. I think I said in my last post I would update you on how it went. Sorry, I forgot. So, in short – they are a group of self-employed local business owners who meet for breakfast, give a 60 spiel about themselves and their business, talk about what they can offer and so on. Members refer clients to each other for work. Its great.

I met some people there, all friendly and easy to get along with. They were all mystified about what it is a copy writer did, but slowly they are understanding. Others, such as the printers and the graphics designer, they know all about it. So, in my third meeting yesterday I spoke to an IT consultant who wanted some copy writing done. And the graphics designer sat with me, also offering me some potential work.

By making the effort to get up for a 7am breakfast meeting every Thursday, I have made 2 contacts for potential work. It didn’t magically fall from the sky for me.

This has inspired me to put more work in, though. See what other fruits will grow from the seeds.

Important Breakfast Meetings and reclaiming lost wells of ideas August 25, 2011

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One week of being consciously without full-time employment has been quite busy, to be honest. I seem to be catching up on those big writing tasks that you never seem to get time to do. These tasks include a business lunch with a graphic designer to discuss my website, and subsequent web copy I have to create; copy editing 30 000 words of a novella soon to go into e-publishing; making my resume shinier and applying for jobs; and work for my Copy Writing Dream Team.

This included writing some small articles about copy writing, some top 10 lists, and attending a networking breakfast. I am doing this tomorrow morning, 7am. I do hope the cups of coffee are bottomless.

I have heard many good things about these meetings, a chance to network (obviously) and meet people who are trying the same scary thing you are – being a freelancer. The venue is walking distance from my house, so a nice invigorating walk before the meeting will perk me up, surely. I will write about the meeting later. I have surprised people by saying I am going to a 7am meeting. They remind me that I’m not working and I don’t need to get up that early. I remind them that I am not working and I do need to get up that early. I need to meet people, to meet potential clients, or people who need an awesome copy writer.

I am also now introducing myself as a copy writer. I changed my occupation on Facebook as a ‘Freelance Copy Writer’ and many people liked this. I will be chasing them down and seeing if they need work, let me tell you. But I am also putting together an introductory email. Well, two really. I know people who are creative and in creative industries – friends and family alike. So I am now going to go out and introduce myself to them as a Copy Writer. Not all of them know they are about to get an email from me. It will be a pleasant surprise! And not a link to a funny cat video!

The second email introducing myself will be for people whom I meet, at network meetings, or out elsewhere, and whose business cards I collect. I will get to go through that nervous joy of- how soon after I meet them do I email! It’s just like dating!

Another thing I have been doing this week is reconnecting with my sources of ideas. As has been previously blogged here, new computer = lost all my links from the old computer. I swear they are on the hard drive somewhere, I am just not brainy enough to find them. On the other hand, if I have lost them, and I’m not really going looking for them, were they just junk to begin with?

No, not all of them were junk. I am sure I have mentioned before how fantastic role-playing games, and RPG forums and players are for imaginations and ideas. And I had linked to a load of these great forum threads before the great FALL! No, I need to think of something dramatic for the computer  event, but that is not it. I will work on it.

Anyway, during the week I went searching and I found many of the threads I lost. Solid threads including 101 Urban Artifacts, 101 Ads you may find in a Fantasy Newspaper, through to some fantastic ones – cool places to have sword fights and 100 places to have an all out gun fight. I am still trying to find others. There was a great thread about different places to have a crime scene and what you might find there. And there was a Warehouse 23 ‘whats in the box’ thread, which was always fun for a laugh.

So, I may not be on the clock but I am working. Which is good. Working towards something bigger and inevitable.