There are several qualities that are needed in order to write for others, especially if you’re writing pieces as if they had written them themselves.
The first step is to remove yourself. This is not your work, not your goal, not your project. You are helping others achieve their goals through their projects and their work. Therefore, it’s important to embrace what they are doing and see the value in their work – and think less about your own preferences.
Second, listen to what they’re telling you. Listen to what’s important, what their mindset is. As you do, the same words will come up over and over, whatever they are. If I hear a phrase more than once, I write it down, because that’s what the person is thinking; that’s what the person is telling me. I find a way to use those words in the piece I’m writing. Then, when the process works, the client says, “Yeah, that’s right. That’s what I wanted to say.”
Third, accept edits and revisions as a valuable part of the process. I welcome edits and changes that get the piece closer to what the client wants. And I respect someone who will make changes in a particular area. For one thing, it means that the piece has been read.
If there aren’t any changes, and if there are never any changes, that’s not a bad thing; but, it’s not the best way to establish a long-term relationship.
As a copywriter who wants future work, I want to know that my words are being read and are serving the purpose they are intended to serve. A specific change says, “I read and considered what you wrote.”
On the other hand, if there are too many changes too often, that’s a different issue. Most clients know what they want to say; but if you find someone who doesn’t know what he wants to say, it’s hard to be the one to say it for him.
The fourth necessary quality is to respect the authority of others. You might think that being connected to the president and CEO is the most important thing in establishing a relationship with a company. It’s good, but it’s not necessarily the quality that brings business. As a business grows, other levels of authority come in, and they’re the ones pushing the projects through – projects like Web-site redesign, article assignments, newsletter content and so forth.
That’s my team. I need good relationships with the ones who are under pressure to get that sort of work done because then they’ll think of me.
Do you know who else is important? Accounts payable. It’s nice to have good relationships with accounts payable – because if you have those relationships, that can make a world of difference. It is not unusual for me to remember all the people in accounts payable in my morning prayers in hopes that they might feel like being overachievers during the day.
Minnie Lamberth is a marketing copywriter and developer of Story Shaping, a creative encouragement platform.