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How to Become a Freelance Copywriter

So you want to be a freelance copywriter.

Awesome!

It’s really easy.

Quit your job.

Buy a fixed gear bike.

Take a spin down to your local hipster coffee shop.

Bash away on your MacBook Air.

Then sit back and watch the dollars roll in…

If only.

OK, reality check.

First thing you need to know if you’re thinking about making the jump and setting up as freelance copywriter:

You’re not the only person to have that idea.

Whaaat?!

I hate my cubicle life.

I’m naturally creative.

I’ll sit in cafes all day writing.

I know, I know, I’m like a mind reader right?

Nor are you the first person to make that switch.

Saying you’re a copywriter is easy.

You don’t need a certificate from a fancy institution.

Passing cycling proficiency is harder.

We’re not doctors, lawyers or architects.

Anyone can throw up a website with I’m a copywriter on it.

So, naturally it’s super competitive.

A quick Google search of all the freelance writers in your area confirms as much.

But, don’t let that put you off.

See, here’s the thing. Not all of them are any good.

Nor do they have a niche.

So, if you’re serious about doing this.

And you want avoid going broke.

Let’s sit down, work through the basics and put a plan together.

Ready?

OK, let’s get stuck in.

First up, remember that copywriting is salesmanship in print.

We’re not creative writers – so put all thoughts of that book deal to the back of your mind.

We write to persuade – nothing more, nothing less.

For all the fancy terms bandied around these days.

And, yes, they do sound kind of cool.

I mean who doesn’t want to be a content marketing expert or a social media strategist.

There are only two types of copywriting:

Direct response and indirect response.

One is measurable, the other isn’t it.

But, the goal is essentially the same – sell more stuff.

OK, with that thought lodged in our heads.

If you still want to do this, let’s move on.

First things first, you need to study the masters.

The titans of advertising who made megabucks through this craft.

If I were to point you at the essentials, it would be these:

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins which you can read for free here.

First published in 1923, it remains the most important book on advertising ever written.

Once you’re done, like Drayton Bird says, you’ll know more than most people who work in marketing.

And keep rereading it.

It’s really short.

No TLDR  from you millennials.

And  it’s chock full of wisdom too.

Next on our list is Ogilvy on Advertising.

Sure, it might seem a little dated to you young guns, but it’s still a pearler.

And yes, there is a theme building here.

These books are kind of old.

But, still hugely relevant.

Because technology might change, allowing us to reach people in new and different ways.

But, human behaviour doesn’t.

Just like the old maxim says – times change, people don’t.

Sure they’re a little more sophisticated.

But, they’re still motivated by the same things:

Beauty, envy, success…

And understanding how and why people buy is the very essence of what we do.

OK, next.

We’ve already mentioned him, but anything by Drayton Bird will see you right.

Named in 2003 as one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing, he’s my absolute favourite guru.

A been there, done that genius.

You could start here, or here. Both are brilliant.

And join his mailing list – you’ll learn something new every day.

Finally, because I don’t want to overwhelm you as you start out…

Grab a copy of the Boron Letters by Gary Halbert.

And check out some of his most famous sales letters as well.

Coat of arms is a personal favourite.

13 psychological triggers in just 381 words, not a single one of them wasted.

OK, padawan, now you’re standing on your own two feet, we can look a little further ahead.

You need stuff to show people.

If you don’t have a portfolio, you need to get one together.

Sharpish.

It’s a little chicken and egg starting out.

So, you might want to help out a local charity or a friend’s small business venture by doing a few jobs for nothing, just to scrape something together.

And even if you have only have a small book, remember it’s not the end of the world.

People love a bit of youthful enthusiasm, which some of us grey beards might have lost.

Be keen and you might just win out when you’re up against someone more experienced.

OK, so you’re well versed in the copywriting classics and have some examples to show people.

Let’s snag some paying jobs.

OK, kind of obvious – get a website.

This should be your number one source of leads.

I’d recommend WordPress.

But, other platforms are available…

It’s really easy to use if you don’t code and you can play around with lots of different themes until you find one that works for you.

Plus you can maintain it and update yourself, which is a huge plus.

OK, hugely important…

Don’t forget to give people something to sign up for in exchange for their email address – regular email updates or some sort of free report for example.

Building that list is going to be vital. No sign up, no email address, no list to market to.

Which makes things a struggle in the long run.

OK, so your website is live and you’re sat there aggressively waiting for the phone ring.

Unfortunately, that’s not how business works.

You need to get proactive.

Time for some marketing outreach.

Yes, you can invest in some PPC advertising, which can be really effective.

I’ve got some good business out of it.

But, remember, you’re only going to reach people actively looking for a copywriter.

And not everyone knows they need a copywriter yet.

So, you want to smile at the dial and start cold calling.

It can yield results, but can also grind you down.

Plus, it’s very hit and miss.

If someone you call might need a copywriter down the line, they don’t have anything to keep on file.

In which case, you might want to put your copywriting skills into action and draft a killer prospecting email instead.

Or even a good old fashioned sales letter.

Given people in offices hardly get post any more,  it makes you stand out from the crowd.

Larger businesses tend to deal direct with agencies, so it’s good to cultivate a relationship with some local marketing outfits too.

You’ll find them at all the usual marketing meet ups.

You can also try the local networking circuit, but don’t expect instant results.

And don’t pitch non-stop.

I find this avenue works best in an I scratch your back, you scratch mine kind of way.

In other words, it’s give and take.

Do someone a favour and hook them up with a good contact you know and they might be able to do the same.

Er what’s next?

Ah yes.

Find a niche.

It never hurts to specialise in something. Probably the industry you came from.

For me that’s learning and development.

Think about it for a moment.

Who would you hire to write for your business?

A jack-of-all-trades ?

Or someone who understands the industry you work in giving them a massive head start?

It’s a no-brainer.

Especially when you consider that lots of people out there want to write about cool and exciting things.

Rather than, say, IT support.

But that’s a big industry, with good pay rates, that you can make your own.

While clothing brands pay a pittance to an army of eager young English Lit grads desperate to write about fashion…

Also, you might want to drill down even further within copywriting itself to create a different kind of niche.

You might want to position yourself as a press release specialist, or an email marketing expert to give yourself credibility that carries over into a broad church of industries.

It really helps to find a mentor.

No matter where you, there’ll be a freelance copywriter in your area that knows what they’re talking about.

Don’t be afraid to get in touch, ask for a critique of your work, and learn from them.

A lot of them will be flattered to hear from you.

And look at the way they position themselves.

People flock to them because they’re perceived as a thought leader.

And not just because of their track record.

But because of their blogs, articles, e-books and speaking engagements.

Look and learn, because that could be you one day, sitting atop that mountain of credibility.

So there you have it – the bare bones of becoming a freelance copywriter.

Read the classics, get a portfolio together, build a list, find a niche and get yourself a mentor.

When you’re making bank, getting ass and driving a Range Rover – all I ask is a polite “thank you Richard” in return.

Any questions about getting started, just ping me a note at richard@scribblewizard.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Detective Pikachu and the Case of the Warm and Fuzzies

Confession.

Last weekend I went to see the new Pokemon movie – Detective Pikachu.

I know, I know…

Like Bill Nighy in the role of Howard Clifford, I’m a bit too old for Pokemon.

I didn’t spend the 90s glued to my Gameboy or collecting trading cards that became the scourge of every teacher on break duty.

“You can have them back at the end of the day”.

No, back then I was a 20 something making my way in the world.

Not a little kid obsessed with collecting and battling pocket monsters.

I blame my wife.

Her son was a nipper when Pokemon first got huge.

And after buying all the games, merch and tat.

Pokemon board game anyone?

She became a big fan of the cartoon, watching it each morning before work.

Even today, her Pokemon knowledge is impressive.

As anyone who has witnessed her reciting evolutions will testify.

Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard…

So, off we went to the cinema.

And do you know what?

An awesome time was had.

No, it wasn’t Citizen Kane.

But, it sure made us laugh out loud.

Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu was a hoot and Justice Smith was a charming lead.

Two hours of my life well spent.

As we filed out afterwards, it was interesting to clock the audience, who shared the grins on our faces.

Sure, there were little kids around.

But, mostly, we’d been in the company of Millennials, the original fans keen to indulge in some feel good nostalgia.

The perfect antidote to the stresses they’re facing as they grapple with the adult world.

And this warm, fuzzy feeling is something we can sprinkle on marketing to elicit a feel good response.

Not teaching you to suck eggs, but buying anything is driven by emotion not logic, the heart overruling the head.

Point being…

The music we listened to, the TV we watched, the toys we played with.

They make us smile when we see them again – a reminder of good times when life was carefree and simple.

Security, comfort and engagement bundled in one easy hit.

I mean…

If someone made an ad featuring the A-Team, soundtracked by Guns n Roses, I would probably spontaneously combust with sheer joy.

And when brands connect with us on an emotional level, we’re much more likely to act.

 

 

Storytelling in Copy – A Lesson From the NFL Draft

I’m a big fan of American football.

As a hardcore devotee, last Thursday I sat up into the wee hours to watch the NFL draft.

Imagine transfer deadline day, but a zillion times better.

The yanks version of football is different to ours in obvious ways:

Pads, helmets, ad breaks, cheerleaders…

And the not so obvious.

Like how the league prizes parity above all else.

Unlike say Real and Barca in Spain, NFL franchises receive an equal share of TV revenue no matter the size of their media market.

That combined with a salary cap means moneybags teams can’t just go out and snap up the best talent – a level playing field.

And the cherry atop the cake of equality?

New players enter the league through the draft.

The worst team from the previous season picks first and so on – there’s always the hope that a team that sucked can turn things around.

You only have to look at the viewing figures to see what a big deal it is.

In 2018, the first round was watched by a TV audience of 11.2 million.

That’s comfortably more than tuned in for ice hockey’s showpiece occasion – the Stanley Cup Finals.

Remarkable when you consider what those people are watching – essentially not much at all.

To the uninitiated, the draft goes something like this:

A team selects a player. Said player walks out onto a stage to pose with the NFL commissioner and mutters a few well rehearsed cliches about wanting to get to work and give his new team everything.

And that’s it x 32 until every team has made its pick.

Think about it.

More people watch the selection of players in one sport than actual blood and thunder winner takes all action in another.

Including night owls in the UK who have to run on caffeine at work the next day.

How on earth can this happen?

How can the NFL draft attract more interest than a series of ice hockey games with the ultimate prize on the line.

In a nutshell it comes down to one thing – storytelling.

People are gripped by an event that is essentially dead space because of the way it’s presented, which is a lot like reality TV.

These aren’t just anonymous athletes getting ready to step up to the pros.

These are real people with compelling back stories that fascinate us.

So, we root for them as the drama unfolds.

The amputee who’s a force of nature, even though he’s got one hand.

The undersized quarterback determined to prove the naysayers wrong.

The prospect who slid down the board and wants to show the teams who passed on him what he can do.

The guy who’s mom worked three jobs so he could have his shot at his dream.

Now he wants to buy her a house.

And this same technique is one we can use in copy.

Framing our communications around a story.

To make it more interesting, relatable, compelling…

No matter how mundane our offering might be.

 

 

 

A Night With The Instagram No Nothings

Caveat.

I’m middle aged.

I care not for the latest youth trends.

But, nothing had quite prepared me for a night in the company of some Instagram ‘influencers’.

Tagging along with the ex journo in charge of the group, my eyes where opened to the most glaring and galling f*ckwittery.

This gaggle of twentysomething no nothings had been flown over from the US to take part in a culinary tour of these shores.

All at the taxpayers’ expense.

Once upon a time this would have been a press trip.

Not anymore…

In a vain bid to chase the youth market, some bright spark in UK tourism had figured that if we get some Millennials over to take pictures of their dinner, a horde of visitors would follow.

Seriously?!

To a tee the group were rich, spoilt and ignorant about food.

“Can we try some whiskey?

Eugh, it’s nasty…”

At best they sniffed what was put in front of them.

It certainly didn’t get eaten.

(Got to think of my figure).

Just snapped and uploaded without context.

Pic after pic of coffee, muffins and platters of untouched food.

That, very quickly, started to all look the same.

And the basic premise of their ‘influence’ seemed so flimsy.

Take a picture of, say a pizza, in the market in my hometown.

Say “yum pizza”, and this somehow encourages more people to visit

Which bothers me on a number of levels.

Firstly, the number of followers they have, which they were quick to bandy around.

“Oh yeh, I’ve got like 700,000 followers…”

So, how many of them are real?

Or even active on the platform?

How many view your posts?

Or even get to see them?

#algorithm.

And how many are ‘influenced’ to take action and pay a visit to the venue promoted?

All this chatter about engagement and likes is just meaningless, when you can’t evidence the impact you have.

I mean I get the basic idea.

If you see a regular person wearing something or visiting somewhere, it’s more real than an out and out advert.

But…

These people were so obviously paid to peddle, which undermined any credibility they claimed.

And while I’d take a recommendation from someone I know or respect.

Friends, family, Jay Rayner, the Sunday Times Travel Magazine…

Some girl from Miami I’d never met before, who was clearly paid to push each place she visited.

No thanks.

And the demographic targeting seemed so skewed as well.

Why chase the youth market for tourism, when it’s us oldies that have all the disposable income?

Surely, young people are too busy eating Tide pods to care for the culinary delights of Great Britain?

It just seemed like a marketing misstep.

Look there’s this new thing that’s all the rage – social media.

Abandon the old ways, because this is the future…

But in the rush to embrace it, we didn’t peek behind the curtain of hype.

Wrong channel, wrong audience.

I’m not dismissing it out of hand, but I think the importance of influencer marketing is vastly overstated.

And it certainly shouldn’t replace traditional channels.

On a recent trip to Nice, my wife and I spent a happy hour flicking through the Easy Jet inflight magazine full of well written articles on places to visit and things to do.

Just saying…

How it Works: Black Friday

Man the barricades, sharpen your elbows, Black Friday is finally here.

Yay!

Time to trample over the weak and unfortunate to grab that bargain TV, in a Supermarket Sweep death race where only the strongest survive.

How did we get here exactly?

Blame the Yanks who exported this madness to the rest of the world.

In the US, Black Friday follows Thanksgiving.

And after the last major holiday before Christmas, most people have an extra day off.

Y’know to spend with family and friends.

So, it’s only natural to get up at 4am and head to the mall…

Turn on the TV and there they are.

A line of value seekers as far as the eye can see.

The inevitable fisticuffs don’t seem matter a jot.

And it gets weirder. Trust me.

Ask them why they’re there and they tell you it’s not even about the bargains.

Nope.

It’s actually more to do with holiday tradition.

Crazy I know.

But, the way they see it is that they’ve always done it. Ever since they were little kids.

It’s a way to pass the time with family and friends, who love the camp out spirit waiting for the stores to open.

But, here’s the thing.

These folks have a game plan.

Not only do they enjoy it, they’ve come prepared.

Organised and focused, they know what they’re looking for.

A plan to navigate this crazed environment and pick up the items they want.

And while we stare aghast at our TV screens.

We’ll be joining them later.

Oh yes.

Unable to resist the power of FOMO.

And we walk straight into the retailers’ trap.

Bam.

Because us latecomers are the ones who’ll overspend wildly and rue ever leaving the house.

See, here’s the thing.

Rushing headlong into the frenzy clouds your judgement.

You go looking for a bargain, but…

The money off signs, the BOGOF deals, the time limited offers, the fact you hate the crowded shops.

Plus the dawning realisation you have no idea what to get anyone for Christmas:

It’s a recipe for bad decision making.

Dunno who I’ll give this to, but it was 60% off…

Store managers know this and catch us at our most vulnerable.

And then they throw in something for free, because people will spend more to save.

Ever topped up your order for the free shipping?

Or to qualify for a gift you’ll never want or use?

Yay, free scarf.  Oh wait.

Exactly.

Now I’m not condoning the retailers’ playbook…

But, if you’re looking to squeeze some extra spend from your customers, you know what to do.

Right, I’m off to the Asda 50% off Disney Princess Kitchen royal rumble.

Last one standing wins.

Have fun and stay safe out there.

 

 

 

 

“And I Said, What About Breakfast at Spoons”

Forget hip co-working spaces.

When I want to get away from the home office for a change of scene, there’s only one place on my mind.

J D Wetherspoons.

Honestly, you should try it.

Once you’ve cleared the Brexit propaganda off the table and found the menu, it’s all good.

Reasonably priced breakfast (and booze if you’re that way inclined before 9am).

Plus, best of all for the tight-fisted freelancer – unlimited coffee refills.

Meaning you can eek out a whole morning for under a fiver.

Avoid the siren call of the fruit machine and you’ll have a productive couple of hours.

Trust me.

And in the last few years I’ve been doing this, not only have a met some ‘local characters’.

Shout out to Strongbow guy and angry Margaret.

But, I’ve also observed a trend pertinent to the self-employed.

The cheaper you are, the more people seem to expect.

Honestly, you should hear the demands that now accompany a breakfast order.

“I want this on the side”.

“Not too much sauce”.

“If my egg isn’t runny I’ll send it back”.

And so on.

It’s a £2.99 breakfast. At Spoons!

At that price, just be grateful that they bring it to you.

Except that’s not how people see it.

As far as they’re concerned, they’re the customer, and as such, are entitled to a bespoke dining experience akin to something you’d get at the Ritz.

Which would be fine, if they were paying those prices…

And you’ll find this in the world of freelancing.

Those clients who try to low ball you and quibble every penny.

Start working with them and you’ll encounter that same sense of entitlement.

They’ll have you running this way and that – all for an invoice that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

So, like the table on the mezzanine with the shouty hen do warming up for a day on the lash.

Avoid like the plague.

 

 

The False Prophecy of Bruno Martelli

In the early 80s, the UK went nuts for Fame, a TV show about the students of the New York City High School for the Performing Arts.

Wanting to live forever, learn how to fly (high), and light up the sky like a flame were:

Awkward singer Doris.

Heartthrob Leroy.

Comedian Danny.

All rounder Coco.

And sensitive musician Bruno Martelli.

I instantly liked Bruno, on account of his hair.

Much like mine, it was satisfyingly large and bouncy.

And while the others were leaping about clad in unitards, headbands and suchlike.

He was quietly ensconced in his music.

Plink plonking away on his keyboard.

You see, our Bruno was something of a Jean-Michel Jarre – an electronic pioneer, unconstrained by the shackles of the past.

And no one was going to tell him otherwise.

Certainly not his teacher, stuffy old Mr Shorofksy.

A stickler for tradition, this likeable fuddy-duddy would persevere though.

Trying, in vain, to instil some respect for classical music.

Not that our big haired hero was listening…

Bruno was so enamoured of technology, he maintained that in the future there wouldn’t even be instruments.

No violins. No pianos. No guitars. No nothing.

Why bother when you have keyboards was Bruno’s retort.

A bold statement in 1982, because we can see exactly how it panned out –

Invitation to the futurists’ guild rescinded…

So, where’s all this going?

Segue alert.

Well, I hear this kind of prediction in marketing all the time.

The old ways don’t matter. Not when the latest fad is this.

So, let’s throw the baby out with the bath water and jump on the latest bandwagon.

Facepalm.

You see, as a copywriter, I’m skilled in an old school discipline.

But, here’s the rub.

Much like the keyboard player joined the band instead of replacing it.

We can all co-exist together, to make something bigger and better.

Marketing fundamentals plugged into exciting new channels and tech.

All together now:

You ain’t seen the best of me yet…

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Sneakers, Retro Marketing

As a kid, I always wanted a pair of Adidas sneakers.

They were the best.

All of the top athletes had them.

And the rappers too.

But, despite my howls of protest, my mum would never give in and pay the premium for the brand with the three stripes.

As she would patiently explain.

I was neither a track star.

Nor part of a hip hop crew.

My concerns at being disadvantaged come sports day, and stuttering attempts to freestyle over hastily improvised beats, did little to persuade her otherwise.

“This pair will do just fine”.

But, those cheaper imitations on my feet just didn’t compare with the real deal.

I gazed longingly at shop windows and flicked through endless catalogues.

Lusting after Sambas, Gazelles, Munchen and Grand Prix.

And most of all Micropacers.

Released for the LA Olympics in ’84, when Carl Lewis announced himself to the world, they had an inbuilt computer chip to help you track your pace.

Like a fitbit on your feet, only 30 years ahead of its time.

C’mon, what kid could resist?

But, not even a tantrum or letter to Santa was ever gonna land me a pair.

The price tag was astronomical, way more than we could afford.

There was nothing for it.

I had to bide my time.

Become an adult.

And increase my disposable income exponentially.

Then buy every single old school reissue that Adidas ever put out.

Obsessed doesn’t even come close…

Their sneakers have a classic, timeless quality, that never seems to go out of style.

Plus, every time I wear my only pair of regular shoes, brogues, I feel like one of the Mr Men.

So, on a recent visit to the Adidas website, I was heartened to see a classic marketing tactic, that like their footwear, has stood the test of time.

You see, I ended up doing something I rarely do – subscribe to the mailing list.

I, Richard Phelps, a copywriter, supposedly on the inside track when it comes to marketing matters, willingly handed over my email address.

Why?

Because they offered me a FREE gift.

Not a discount or the vague promise of news and offers.

But, a FREE gift.

Flattered, excited and intrigued, I couldn’t input my deets fast enough.

And guess what?

They sent me a boring old discount code off my next order.

Hook, line and sinker.

But, like a classic pair of Adidas Superstars.

It’s a throwback to another era, that still cuts the mustard today.

 

 

 

 

Inside Area 51 –Secrets From the Marketing X-Files

Orbis Publications has a lot to answer for.

They put out this magazine when I was a kid – The Unexplained –  a fortnightly trawl through the usual paranormal hokum:

The Loch Ness Monster, hauntings, telepathy, spontaneous human combustion, Bigfoot, UFOs…

Of course it was a pile of baloney, but still, I was thankful the Men in Black never called at my door.

Every other Saturday the ritual was the same.

I’d rush home from the newsagents with my precious cargo, then spend hours devouring it.

Spooking myself silly in the process.

Although the articles about dowsing and dragons had to wait because I was obsessed by extra-terrestrials.

So much so.

Don’t laugh.

When I was a bit older, I joined a local UFO group.

Dan, the leader, was a ranting Catweazle type, all mad eyes and windmilling arms.

While Chris had the contacts, wrangling an invite to the first screening of that alien autopsy.

“Fake” he pronounced crestfallen.

We even had a monthly newsletter to vent our paranoid ramblings – the Truth Seekers Review.

Quality investigative journalism it was not.

And through the looking glass, conspiracy theories get pretty crazy.

My epiphany came after a heated discussion about Area 51 –  an Air Force test range deep in the Nevada desert.

Where apparently, alien craft, and occupants, are held by the US government.

And, get this.

Secret military aircraft are under development using technology reverse engineered from captured saucers.

Maybe even the one from Roswell…

You see, scientists didn’t invent the Stealth Bomber, with brains, hard work and creative thinking.

They plugged in a cloaking device that fell off the back of spaceship, plus a bunch of stuff just lying around Hangar 18.

E.T. even lent a hand.

And everyone got to clock off early.

Advantage USA.

I mean c’mon.

The reason I bring this up…

This was exactly how I felt this morning:

Yet another dubious pitch in my inbox offering to hook up a hyper drive to my profits with some fancy pants marketing solution.

Really?

Bring on the untold riches.

Except, usually it’s steaming pile of BS.

You see, in business there are no shortcuts.

Instead of some shiny gizmo you just plugin for instant results.

Like that space age social media flight deck thing that monetises likes and followers.

Or something.

It pays to think in more terrestrial terms.

Because usually the answer to what you seek is far more mundane.

Like a bit more elbow grease and better words.

Which really can turn your sales around.

It’s not a hi-tech gravity propulsion system for marketing like all that excitable blurb promises.

And it doesn’t take away the need for hard graft.

But, it certainly gets results.

Beam aboard and let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prestige Worldwide Stress Test

The movie Step Brothers is a straight up chuckle fest.

Brennan Huff and Dale Doback are two 40 year old losers still living at home.

When Brennan’s mum Nancy and Dale’s Dad Robert meet, fall in love and get married, they’re forced to live together as step brothers.

Hilarity ensues.

Don’t touch my drum set!

But, their failure to launch catches up with them when Nancy and Robert plan to retire and sail around the world.

Our two kidults are forced to find jobs, make alternative living arrangements and attend therapy.

But, they aren’t going down without a fight and hatch a plan to harness their talents and make a bucket load of cash in the process.

Prestige Worldwide.

Not a band you understand.

That’s been done before.

More like a global music corporation…

Which they pitch to potential investors at a family birthday:

“We thought we’d roll out a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity.

Happy birthday, Derek.

Music.

Prestige Worldwide,wide, wide, wide.

Prestige Worldwide.

The first word in entertainment.

First word.

Management.

Financial portfolios.

Insurance.

Computers.

Black leather gloves.

Research and development.

Putting in the man-hours to study the science of what you need.

Last week we put Liquid Paper on a bee……and it died.

Security.

Security.

Investors?

Possibly you”.

Before offering up the premiere of their first music video.

Now you can’t fault their ambition.

But, as a business plan it’s patently ludicrous.

Of course it is. It’s a comedy movie starring Will Ferrell.

But, it’s an easy trap for real life would-be entrepreneurs to fall into.

You see it everywhere. Dissatisfaction with cubicle life can make people crazy.

And they start with the wacky ideas. Anything to exit the rat race.

Artisan muesli, a craft beer brewery, cupcakes that are going to make more than pin money.

And people quit their jobs to pursue something pie-in-the-sky, burning through a pile of cash.

But, you don’t have to give up on that dream.

Just be a bit more sensible is all.

Take Brennan and Dale.

Ultimately they do get a business off the ground. Prestige Worldwide becomes an entertainment company that runs karaoke events.

Not the global music corporation they first imagined.

But an enterprise they can build from the ground up that’s better suited to their experience and talents.

A sideways step, rather than a full on leap into the dark.

Now I’ve had the let’s jack it all in and run a bar fantasy just like you.

But, I have no relevant industry experience. And my guess is it’s much harder than it looks.

Everything is.

So, when I struck out on my own, I didn’t bite off too much, going from sales and marketing manager to freelance copywriter.

Zeroing on an aspect of my job I enjoyed, but where there was still room to learn and grow.

My mistake though, was the second important point I’m making here.

I went all in from the get go. And boy it was tough at the start before the money began to trickle in.

So, try something on the side first. Your bank manager will thank me.

That way you can test your idea, build it up and hit the ground running if you think it’s got legs.

People push this idea of risk being a good thing.

Entrepreneurs take risks right?

Wrong.

The best ones are risk averse.

Take Nike founder Phil Knight.

He didn’t create a global empire out of nothing.

He spent years selling training shoes out of van at track meets to establish the viability of his business before taking the plunge.

Minecraft is another great example – a bedroom side project carefully nurtured part time before it could stand on its own.

So, yeah, let’s do this.

Slowly and carefully. Building from the ground up.

And from there you can take on the world.

Occupation – Stunt C**K

Nerdy and unassuming, Louis Theroux is just so disarming.

Whether he’s hanging out with TV evangelists, conspiracy theorists or swingers, he’s soon immersed in their world.

And when they accept him as one of their own, the revelations to camera are astonishing.

Remember Thor Templar self-titled Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate who claimed to have dispatched more than 20 alien invaders?

Or paranoid survivalist Bo Gritz preparing for global catastrophe?

Check them out again if you fancy a chuckle.

I was thinking about Louis today as I had to explain my job for the umpteenth time.

An occupational hazard for any copywriter.

“So, if I invent something you can legally protect my work right?”

“Err, no. That’s copyright. I’m the other kind”.

“What other kind?”

Then it dawned on me. I know exactly how to get this across.

In one of the early episodes Louis offers an insightful look at the adult movie business.

Yup the one with JJ Michaels, the diminutive ex-fighter pilot with a love of monster action figures turned porn star.

JJ aside, what chiefly sticks in my mind is the very niche role someone has to perform if things go wrong on set.

Waiting in the wings should the money shot fail to materialise is a very special individual – the stunt cock.

I kid you not.

Probably not an occupation you’d find on the drop down list when you’re renewing your car insurance, but a real, actual job nonetheless.

It must be every stud’s nightmare. Fail to deliver the critical moment and someone else has to step in…

And unedifying as it may seem, this is kind of what I do.

Just in a marketing sense I hasten to add.

You see, people often hand me something that isn’t performing.

A sales letter with a limp response rate.

Or a bunch of e-shots getting ignored.

I take the place of the original writer, and it becomes a rescue job, making sure those words hit the mark.

Yes I’m unseen and uncredited, but it wouldn’t be a wrap without me.

So, let’s have that conversation again.

Err, no. That’s copyright. I’m the other kind”.

“What other kind?”

“A copywriter. Y’know, like a stunt cock…”