How Copywriters Deal With Disappointment

Published: 30th September 2015

How Copywriters Deal With Disappointment

Regardless of whether you’re the owner of a small start-up or the CEO of a big, successful company, at some point you’ll have to deal with disappointment.

Disappointment is a part of life, and a common experience in business.

And copywriters are not immune.

At various times in our lives we’ve all had to deal with heartbreak, a failed friendship, or a dream job that went south, but it’s how we bounce back from these events that says a lot about our resilience, attitude, and character.

One of our oft quoted, although totally cheese-ball sayings at By Jingo Copywriting is:

“Life is like photography — you learn from the negatives.”

Every experience — whether positive or negative — is an opportunity to grow, learn, improve, and take action. But let’s face it, human beings are total numb-nuts and would often rather ruminate over negative experiences than use them to make positive future ones. The truth is that disappointment, although it hurts at the time, can be a privilege — if you prepare yourself mentally to deal with it.

We aren’t saying anything new here either – this is what that old Tory, Benjamin Disraeli, had to say on the topic;

“There is no education like adversity.”

So why do you need stoicism in business? Because crap comes at you all the time.

A while ago we spoke to a woman who said that on several occasions she’d been contacted by big-time bloggers who asked her to send them her products in exchange for some “product placement” on their blog. These folks ended up running away with her merch and didn’t do anything in return. She said that when she followed up with an email, they didn’t even reply.

How royally screwed is that?

Product traded on the basis of goodwill for some good old fashioned promotion — robbed.

Talk about disappointing.

Another company we know of got roped into some sleaze-ball SEO plan.  A digital agency signed them up to an expensive, ongoing contract. When they started to feel that that the agency was dodgy, it was too late and they had to go ahead with it. How could they not feel anything but disappointed and disillusioned?

So what are some of the disappointing experiences copywriters face?

  • Invoicing: From time to time, clients want what copywriters are offering, but they don’t value their work. They’ll try all sorts of plots and ploys to get something for nothing, or to get copy at a woefully reduced rate. These clients generally procrastinate on signing proposals and ignore invoices until that awkward email about “debt collection” has to go out (yuk!) This can be especially disappointing when you’ve bent over backwards to keep them happy, to get the copy to them promptly, and right up until the sending of the invoice, they’ve been very responsive.
  • Subjectivity: This is a big one. The subjective nature of copywriting can be quite disappointing at times. One person’s idea of good is another’s idea of rubbish. As an example, while some people think Bob Dylan is a genius; a modern day Shakespeare, others think his music is what happens when you throw a rhyming book, a mouth organ, and a handful of gravel into a blender.
  • When an exciting project falls through: Sometimes copywriters get an enquiry and it’s the perfect fit, but the job doesn’t go ahead. Just when your excitement levels are peaking about this brand new job opportunity that’s on the horizon, it sails off into the sunset for who knows what reason…

What are some of the things we recommend you do to deal with this kind of stuff?

  1. We re-evaluate our copywriting processes and systems to see if there are any glitches, or anything that can make the whole process smoother. Once we recognise a way to improve, we implement it. We don’t dilly-dally. We’ve just introduced a new invoicing system, because it was important and necessary to do so. Basically, we look at the whole picture and ask, “Is there a way to improve our systems in order to avoid future disappointment?”
  2. We use our intuition and trust it if it’s screaming out, “This job will be a pain in the posterior for everyone concerned. Just GTFO!!”
  3. We ask other experts in our field how they avoid disappointing situations. Several months ago we had a mentoring session with a reputable Australian copywriter to pick her brain-box about how she deals with copywriting disappointments.
  4. We continuously bring ourselves back to our primary purpose. Our ‘Why’. When you have your ‘Why’ anchoring you, dealing with the inevitable hiccups doesn’t seem so overwhelming. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche, “He who has a ‘why’ to live, can bear almost any ‘how.”
  5. We always aim to make every situation right, but sometimes a shitty client can’t be consoled. Even when that’s the case, we still put our heads on our pillows at night knowing we’ve given our best. That’s all anyone can ever do.

Finally, if you are dealing with disappointments it’s important to remember that nothing lasts for ever – even cold November Rain (to borrow a line from those esteemed wordsmiths, Guns N’ Roses). The good times and good clients far outweigh the bad.

What have been some of the disappointing business experiences you’ve had? Be brave and share them here so we can all benefit from your experience.  Please don’t make this post one of our disappointments by not commenting. 🙂

2 responses to “How Copywriters Deal With Disappointment”

  1. Jennifer Morton says:

    I was recently disappointed when someone I trusted cancelled upcoming work with only 15 hours’ notice. I had delivered kick-ass content to them previously so I did not understand the sudden and abrupt cancellation. I’ve since moved on.

    • Oh Jennifer – that sucks! People are so fickle. You’ll get to see the very best and the very worst of human nature in this industry. Stay positive and keep delivering awesome content.