It’s not the boldest claim to say I’m good with words. I’m a copywriter. Words and language are my bread and butter. Luckily for me, they come naturally. They’re what pay the bills.
Clients come to me because they need help with how they sound. So why do I often hide behind a screen, and ask people to coldly fill in a brief?
A timely chat with a brand strategist got me thinking about my working habits.
87.6%* of copywriters would probably call themselves an introvert
I’m not alone in preferring the written word. To begrudging answer (or make) a call, to shudder at the idea of video meetings. It’s easier for me to scribble a quick email. I can go back to what’s been written over and over, let the information sink in, simmer, and spark ideas.
And wisdom says you need things in black and white, like a contract. You need something to fall back on, or refer to, especially if things don’t go smoothly.
But not everyone is comfortable with the written word. And forcing people to write things down can mean you don’t get all the information you need. People are less likely to tell you everything over email. Tone and meaning can also easily get lost in translation.
Pick up the phone ‘n’ have a natter
There’s a lot to be said for a phone or video call, and not getting stuck in an awkward game of email table tennis.
A chat is usually the best way to tease out intricacies, capture the nuances of how someone talks about a product or service, and dig out the tiny details that only pop up through questions and conversation. Once you’ve got hold of all the information you need, then you can send it in an email, and sign-off whatever you’ve spoken about. You’ll still get your paper trail.
And in worst-case scenarios, actually speaking to someone can help you avoid a car crash client relationship. You get a feel for who you’ll be working with (and vice versa), pick up on white lies, and better spot tell-tale red flags. I can think of at least one instance where a sticky situation would never have happened had we spoken.
So, as a writer, while it might be more comfortable to hide behind a wall of written words, don’t let your way with words be your undoing as well as the key to your success.
Leigh James (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
If we’re lucky enough to get the chance to work together, this is my promise to pick up the phone.
*A total and utter unfounded guestimate.