So You Want to Be a Writer . . .

We hear from potential writers on a fairly regular basis. Most are looking for a virtual home or at least a bit of work on the side. We all have friends who are writers, too. If you’re thinking about a copywriting career, here are a few things you may want to consider.
Stories and Poetry Are A Long Way From Commercial Text
There are millions of people who enjoy penning a good short story. There are thousands of unpublished novels waiting to happen. Some people get up and start every day by composing a beautiful poem. All of these things make writing a hobby, not a profession. Most professional writers (those who don’t have contracts with big name publishing companies, and some that do) spend their days carefully crafting text to a client’s exact specifications. The difference between a story about a boy and his dog and a landing page for a new umbrella that can achieve high conversion rates is massive. If you’re not willing to take on a textual challenge, commercial writing probably isn’t the right avenue for you.
Making Money Isn’t Easy
Writing is hard work. What’s more, though, is that the world of commercial copywriting is one of the single most competitive industries. There are thousands of copywriters in the US alone. Add in the competition from overseas countries and literal text factories in countries like India, and you have a contest that is often hard to win. Running a text company, even if it’s just you, is as difficult as running any other small business. There’s marketing to be done, overhead to pay, and there is always something else to write. The danger of running out of time, energy, and money is a real one every single day.
Writing is Subjective
When you order a sweater online, you know exactly what you’re going to get. When someone orders a text, there are a million different ways you could go with it. For example, perhaps someone wants a blog post on “Wedding Gown Styles.” There are hundreds of different styles, not to mention custom choices out there. You select what you think might be best, but your client might not think that’s what you should have covered.
In addition to the fact that you may have a clash about the information to cover, you can also clash about writing styles. If you’re particularly casual and your client is looking for something a little more formal, you may have a stylistic difference you just can’t escape.
For some, writing is always a pleasure, and the challenges that accompany the world of professional copywriting are exciting. For others, though, it’s a nightmarish world full of deadlines and sentence construction that sounds more interesting than it actually is.

Are Platforms Like Elance and Guru Really Helpful?

Are Elance and Guru Worth Your Time?Millions of both small and large business owners turn to platforms like Elance and Guru every year to find qualified professionals for help with copywriting, web design, and even bookkeeping. The idea is a pretty simple one. You post your project (for free), then independent contractors (sometimes by the hundreds) bid on the job. You can review each contractor’s profile, his or her bid, and even previous reviews and statistics, then choose one who is right for you. It may sound like an easy process, but is it really right for your company?
The Benefits
Simply typing something like “Freelance Photographer” into a search engine might turn up thousands of results if you need someone to tackle a project for your company. Aside from good looking websites and portfolios, you probably won’t get any real sense of how the individual might perform for you. This is where platforms like this can be really helpful. In most cases, you get a chance to look at real reviews from previous customers.
The other real benefit is that you probably have a set budget for the job at hand. You can simultaneously look at lots of contractors who can handle that job for you at that price. You can place the money in escrow to protect both of you until the job is completed to your satisfaction.
The Drawbacks
As with any virtual search, the reality is that you’re never going to be sure exactly who is handling the task for you. There are lots of companies and individuals alike on Elance, and you may end up with an overseas company working for very little who can’t produce the results you need right away. You may also end up with a fifteen year old in his mom’s basement who has no concept of deadlines. At the same time, it’s absolutely possible to land a professional company that can provide exactly what you need within your budget.
In some cases, you’re only going to have virtual contact with your contractor, and that may be a problem if you have trouble expressing exactly what you want in writing. You can certainly request a conference call or work through something like GoTo Meeting, but if you’re working with a  contractor who is halfway across the world, scheduling it may be difficult.
As we put this post together, we really felt like there might be more drawbacks we didn’t mention, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on those. That said, it’s possible most of those drawbacks might be on the freelancer side instead of the employer side.
The Bottom Line
Elance, Guru, ODesk, and the many other platforms that help you connect with freelancers have some real benefits, but your best bet is to start with a smaller project, find a freelancer you like, then get moving with a bigger project.

Taking the Whole Picture More Seriously

1426365_day_at_the_beachThe other day, we had an international client who wanted to put his project on hold because his entire staff was currently on holiday. We were more than happy to accommodate, but the wheels of thought began spinning. As is true with most hard-working Americans, we’re on the job even when we’re on vacation. Morning, noon, night, vacation, power outage, there’s very little that stops us from fulfilling our commitment to clients. We even have neat smartphones so we can check our emails no matter where we are. As consumers, that level of dedication is phenomenal. As business owners, it’s a recipe for burnout.

We talk to business owners all of the time who are on the verge of losing their passion, literally getting crushed under the weight of what they’ve created, whether it’s succeeding beyond their wildest dreams or they’re financially struggling. If you’re a small business owner, your leadership skills are what led you to create your own company, but that level of independence may actually be more difficult to sustain than you can imagine. Here are a few ways to avoid the burnout that is so often a part of the small business world. It’s advice we’re certainly going to follow, and we hope you will, too.

  • Outside help and expertise is sometimes going to be necessary. You may never be big enough to have an onsite marketing department, and tackling those side duties can be draining. Consider creating a support system that can help your business stay on the right path.
  • Schedule carefully. When you’re a small business in today’s connected world, it’s easy to never be off. You have to make room for your needs, as well as those of your family. That may mean moving some tasks off of your plate. Perhaps it means not handling your own social media marketing or allowing someone else to do website updates, but in the long run, it’s going to mean keeping your energy up.
  • Know time management. The need for everything to be just right is one that overwhelms most small business owners. You’d likely turn that project in as-is if you were working under someone else’s umbrella, so if it’s a four hour job, be sure you just spend four hours on it, not twelve because you need it to be more than perfect.

Did You Ask For Help Today?

Confidence and productivity are a must when you run your own business. They’re qualities that are simply expected to be part of any business model. Asking for help looks like a sign of weakness. Whether you’re assigning tasks on your own to-do list to employees, moving part of your responsibilities to your business partner’s desk, or even outsourcing something like IT or your social media management, getting help should always be considered a strength, not a breaking point.

What Do You Need Help With?

The first step to making sure you have everything you need to succeed is deciding which tasks have to leave your virtual plate. A good to-do list is a solid starting place. While Post-It notes here, there, and everywhere may seem like a good idea, the reality is that they aren’t the best method of keeping track of your business’ task list. There are, however, some apps that may prove useful. Fast Company offers a helpful list of the 6 Best Alternative To-Do Apps.

Once you see exactly what must be tackled on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, it may be easier to assign some of that to other people in your organization.

Accepting Help

Once you find someone to tackle what you may find yourself unable to, the key is to accept the help. You can’t continue to micromanage the task once you’ve handed it off. It will only limit your success. Attention to detail and a hands-on attitude is always going to be a must, but don’t take that to the extreme. You’re only going to ruin your colleagues’ sense of self-confidence and further damage your company. Find the line between being involved and over-involved, and find it quickly.

Asking for help can be difficult, particularly when it’s your company, but often it’s essential to help make certain you continue moving forward.

July News From Unreel Media!

Enjoying the warmth of summer? Welcome to this issue of the Unreel Media newsletter. We know it’s been a few months since our last issue, but frankly, we’ve been very busy. Aside from working on the social media campaigns of many clients across the country, we’ve also been reinventing ourselves online. More on that in just a moment.

Introducing – The New, Improved Unreel Media
We’ve preached the gospel of updating your site to you for more than a decade now, so we thought it was finally time to work on our own online presence a bit. We’ve completely redesigned the site. Take a moment to check us out, and be sure to add our new blog to your reading list. We’ll keep it full of the tips you need to stay productive!
Unreel Is Social!
We’ve been pretty busy working on your social media campaigns over the last six months, but we’ve finally had a chance to work on our own over the summer. Check us out on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t worry – we’ll be appearing on your other favorite social media platforms soon. These things take time, and you’d probably like your blogs, articles, and Tweets to get written too, right?

Because we really want to be sure you check us out and stick with us, we have a special offer. Friend us on Facebook, and we’ll give you a free blog post. No strings attached, and you can even choose the topic and the keywords. One free blog post is absolutely yours when you check us out on Facebook. Questions about this offer? Email us or give us a call.
Hey, we’ve taken enough of your time with this ad for our services. We’ll be back in August with a brand new offer and more great tips and services carefully crafted for your company. Meanwhile, we can’t wait to see you online and continue meeting your text needs. Contact us today if you have any questions. Thanks and stay cool in the summer heat!

3 Social Media Rules You May Not Have Considered

Almost every company makes use of social media these days. From B2B marketers using sites like LinkedIn to real estate agents using their networks on Facebook to move more properties, staying connected is an absolute must in today’s world. If you’re just getting on the social media bandwagon, though, there are a few rules you may want to keep in mind before you let that first Tweet fly.

  • It’s a Conversation, not a Lectern: The single most important thing you can remember when it comes to the world of social media is the fact that there’s a conversation going on. If you’re virtually standing there, shouting at everyone in all caps with lots of exclamation marks about your latest sale, online post, or newest product line, friends, watchers, and others are going to get very tired of you in a hurry. Be part of the conversation, don’t just promote your brand.
  • It Takes Time: You’re not going to grow a bigger Twitter following overnight. The entire world isn’t going to “Like” you on Facebook within a week. Unlike other methods of advertising, this one is going to take some time to see measurable results. This is not the kind of advertising campaign you can run for a few weeks, readjust, then run again. Spend some time with the platform. Get to know it, and you’ll be rewarded with followers and brand friends.
  • Be Yourself: This rule doesn’t give you a license to become the version of yourself we might meet during happy hour on a Friday night. It should, though, remind you that authenticity is going to be key to building your brand in a more social world. Don’t use fake names or contacts, and be sure to create as personal a feel to your profiles as possible.

There are few business learning curves quite as steep as the one you may experience when you begin to dip your toes in the social media waters. Need a little help getting started? Just don’t have time to post on your own? Let us tackle it for you with our social media services.