So, you wanna be a copywriter…
You can taste the phrase on your lips, you feel it in your soul — but something’s stopping you. You know what it is? You’re a cheap motherfucker.
You’ve Gotta Pay to Play
One of the biggest mistakes I see copywriters make on a daily basis is refusing to pay for ANYTHING related to their trade. If a retailer only sold stuff he could get off CraigsList for free or an artist that exclusively worked with found materials, neither of them would be at it for long. The truth is that we live in a trade economy and it requires that we pay for shit sometimes.
Sorry, but that’s a fact. You pay for it somehow, even if you’re not paying in cash. Your time, your reputation — these are great alternative forms of payment. If you want to be the best at what you do, it’s time to ditch this notion that the Internet should be free. You’re getting paid, so why shouldn’t you also pay for the content and services that make your job easier?
So, for fuck’s sake, subscribe to these things already. They’ll make your life a Hell of a lot better and your soul will start to lose that dark stank of theft.
Stock Photo Library. Trust me, you can only milk MorgueFile so many times in a month before their paltry offerings start to look pretty fucking pathetic. Besides the time you waste digging up something halfway useful, you’ve got to consider how those photographers are getting paid in the same light that you consider how you’re getting paid. If they’re not, then why are you not giving them something for their skill?
Fotolia has packages starting at $25 a month or will sell you download credits in lumps. If your blogging clients aren’t worth $25, you need to charge more or go to work at Pizza Hut.
Social Media Manager. When it comes to social media management, you need it. You’re wasting a lot of time hanging out on Facebook all day (trust me, I know), but I understand your need to keep posting. You can’t afford a personal assistant, but you also can’t stop the on-going march of social media, so split the difference and hire a program to help you.
You’ve basically only got two choices in this arena: HootSuite and Buffer. HootSuite is a powerful tool that can do a lot of stuff, but I found it to be incredibly complicated and hard to use. Buffer’s only $10 a month, has a reasonably simple interface and is great for the low-bandwidth stuff a copywriter does.
Cloud Storage. It’s 2015, if you’re still backing everything up to your Zip Drive it’s time to get up with the times. The Cloud is where it’s at — and where it’s been for a while. This is not untested territory, it’s a proven stable place for your files to live that keeps them available to you and anybody you want to share them with. It also provides a solid backup in case your computer’s little brain starts to turn to jell-o and collapse inward.
There are lots of Clouds to choose from, but personally I like Google Drive. Not only does it provide plenty of storage for $2 a month, it allows me to do my work using Microsoft Office-inspired Cloud-based tools. As I type, it saves, one letter at a time. Unless you’ve got a compulsion for saving documents, this nifty little trick will save you hours of rewriting lost and irretrievable files in the case of a crash.
WordPress. Seriously, I’m not even meshing words here — if you’re blogging, WordPress is *THE* platform. Sure, Blogger’s cute in how it’s trying to be a thing, but it lacks the power of the WordPress platform. Starting at $79 a year, you can unlock the godly tools of this mighty blogging software. Get your own domain for $18 a year and then you can mix in Google analytics and all sorts of fun stuff.
Spotify. Last, but really seriously not least, I know you listen to music while you work. For we free writers, it’s a great way to evoke moods, it provides a helpful thesaurus service for when you just can’t quite pluck the right word out of the air and you can use it to set a tempo to work by. If you’re still stealing other artists’ work for your playlists, you outta be taken in front of a firing squad and shot. We’re not in college anymore and this isn’t the early 2000s. For just $10 a month, you can get Spotify for all your devices, they’ve even got a budget plan that starts at $5.
Now flee, my little children, into the wider world and support those services that support you. Each and every day our job is getting easier, embrace these tools and learn how to use them and you’ll be a happy, productive copywriter.