10 Things I Learned as the In-House Copywriter for a New Age Spirituality Company
You’re hired. Words that sing like a siren song in the ears of a struggling freelance writer.
Your salary is $$$. Words that quench a hustlin’ mamas thirst like sweet organic ginger kombucha.
You’re going to do work that makes a positive difference in people’s lives. Words that melt the heart of every Aquarian alive and made me want to work for free.
They lured me in before I could even think twice. Before I could even question my ability to do all of this and more on my own accord.
I guess a part of me still wanted rules, structure, stability, and more than anything, I wanted to learn. And learn I did…
Never will I write the phrase, ‘align with your essential Self’, ever again.
In honor of what I learned, here’s my special listicle compilation.
Oh and if you feel like groovin’ while you read, here’s a playlist I made during my stint, aptly named Frustration Annihilation.
1. Creativity is a finite resource that needs constant replenishment
The expectation when you work as an in-house copywriter (at least in my experience) is that you write, constantly.
Even my guru Ash Ambirge has said that she can only write for a maximum of four hours a day. Writing more than that is so exhausting, and making it meaningful is nothing short of impossible. My mind and soul only contain so much juice.
Here’s how I view the creative cycle:
- Plant seeds constantly. Practice, read, watch, and learn. (Research phase)
- Let them grow. Be patient. Nourish your newly planted potential. Sit down and think. Ideas will sprout. (Idea phase)
- Harvest the bounty. Delight in all your hard work. Harvest and enjoy the fruit. Writing is the easy part. (Writing phase)
- Compost the leftovers. Extract every last bit of goodness and use it to replenish your soil. (Testing phase)
This is the only way to avoid burnout as a writer. Yet, when you work for someone else there’s this expectation that you’re just an idea machine. That you can be handed a workload that necessitates writing for 6–8 hours a day and churn out conversion copy and content with viral potential like it ain’t no thang.
2. Not everyone’s a writer
I’m not saying that to be mean. They say everyone’s got a book in them, and I think that’s true, but not everyone should write their own book.
I used to think that writing came naturally to most people. Hence why I never really valued my own talents and used to write blog posts for next to nothing.
Part of my job somehow morphed into being the editor of an entirely different website that accepts guest blogs. Besides the fact that I never signed up for this, it taught me that most people can’t write (and that I still need to work on boundaries!).
This realization woke me up from a strange delirium. I realized that clearly communicating ideas on paper is something that very few people do well. There’s nothing wrong with that. I can’t read a map or build a birdhouse to save my life, though some would assume these to be basic skills everyone has. My assumption slate was wiped clean and I must admit, it was a pretty nice confidence boost.
3. I’d rather step on my own toes than someone else’s
It’s impossible not to offend or turn some people off. If the goal is not to offend, annoy, put off or trigger, then the goal is neutrality.
Plain vanilla poison served on a porcelain platter that breaks as soon as you drop the ball and be real for 2 secs.
Some niches are worse than others. Spirituality and personal development is one of the most fragile because these domains are so intrinsically linked to emotion.
I maintained a list of words labeled ‘do not use’ and I still got in trouble for focusing on pain points instead of highlighting the golden rays of peace radiating outward from the soul’s of our email subscribers.
Truth bomb: the light always casts a shadow.
4. There’s always a micro manager
You know what word makes me cringe? No, it’s not moist.
It’s NITPICK. Gross word and grossly annoying characteristic present in at least one person in every organization on the planet.
Copy is especially easy to nitpick. It’s not like tech or behind the scenes stuff. It’s in your face everywhere you look, a nit pickers fantasy come to life.
To stand your ground when surrounded by nitpickerdom is like that scene in Game of Thrones when Cersei Lannister has to do her walk of atonement through King’s Landing naked.
Mmmk, it’s not that bad, but it’s super annoying, kills productivity, and is often not based in logic or even basic understanding.
5. The old adage, clear is more important than clever, is really really true
I love being clever, and it has its place in conversion copy, but clarity always comes first. The message we’re trying to convey can’t be shrouded in language that most people don’t understand.
There are a lot of terms in spiritual teachings that 99% of people don’t understand, yet I was told to use them anyway.
Does using language people don’t get instill a desire to solve a mystery? Does it captivate them and make them dig deeper?
Or do they just tune you out? I tend to think it’s the latter.
6. Copywriting is the clavicle bone of any business.
This is might sound borderline creepy, but the clavicle is my favorite bone. The clavicle bone connects the arms to the rest of the body. It’s essential. Without the clavicle, we’d all be a mess of disconnected body parts.
Copy isn’t the backbone of a business. Copy connects, it integrates, it maintains the unity of mission and vision while necessitating action and response.
The backbone of a business is an entirely different beast. One that copy relies on to do its job. It’s real leadership and strength, purpose and direction. In order for the clavicle to do its job, the backbone needs to be solid.
7. Meetings are highly overrated
Don’t get me wrong — I love meeting with my clients. The meetings I’m talking about are the fear-based ‘let’s get this ball rolling people!’ meetings where every team member has to be involved and someone leads a phony pep talk that inspires nothing but yawns.
Over-meeting kills productivity. Meetings being used as a tool to focus on the negative kills ambition. Meetings that ask for every single person’s input once a week or more are totally unnecessary.
One on one communication is a different story altogether, but meetings, I won’t miss.
8. Perfection is different for everyone
I could spend days perfecting a sales page, only to have three different people come in assuming they know best and change everything.
For some, perfection is getting the highest conversion rate.
For others, it’s using airy-fairy language that sounds nice but doesn’t convert.
When you focus on what you’re good at and let others do the same, this problem is avoided. Yet when you try to be everything to everyone, perfection or anything close to it becomes impossible.
9. I’ll never be spiritual enough to pass vibrations through my words and into my emails which magically turn into money
10. Creativity comes at all hours, honor that and screw the 9–5
Since I’ve started running my own show again, I can finally tune into a rhythm that’s aligned with my natural energy levels.
I’ve always been a night owl. I love putting my son to bed and sitting down with a cup of tea and some dark chocolate and writing. And I’m freakin’ slow in the morning. Even though I worked remotely, so not technically ‘in-house’, I still had to be available from 8–5.
There’s this sense of impending doom if I have to sit down and start pounding out copy right away. I’d rather do some yoga and clean the house first. Seriously, I can’t get anything done if my house is messy, it’s both a blessing and a curse.
Bonus: The more you write, the better you get
Ultimately, I’m grateful that I pushed myself to work as hard as I did. To write for hours each day. To have the space to learn and implement new strategies and techniques.
I’m a better writer than I was when I started times a thousand.
I’ve learned that 500,000 likes on Facebook doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. Even people who look like they have it all figured out, really don’t.
Most importantly, I realized that if you’re not working to make your own dreams come true, you’re working to make someone else’s. If that’s appreciated, SWEET, if it’s not, adios.
What about you?
Are you making your own rules or working for someone else?
Tell me your best employee horror stories in the comments below.